High History of the Graal; PerlesvausBRANCH VIII.
Of the most Holy Graal here beginneth another branch in such wise as the authority witnesseth and Joseph that made recoverance thereof, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
This high history and profitable witnesseth us that the son of the Widow Lady sojourned still with his uncle King Pelles in the hermitage, and through distress of the evil that he had had since he came forth of the house of King Fisherman, was he confessed to his uncle and told him of what lineage he was, and that his name was Perceval. But the good Hermit the good King had given him the name of Parluifet, for that he was made of himself. King Hermit was one day gone into the forest, and the good knight Parluifet felt himself sounder of health and lustier than he wont to be. He heard the birds sing in the forest, and his heart began to swell of knighthood, and he minded him of the adventures he wont to find in the forest and of the damsels and knights that he wont to meet, and never was he so fain of arms as was he at that time, for that he had been sojourning so long within doors. He felt courage in his heart and lustiness in his limbs and fainness in his thought. Right soon armeth he himself and setteth the saddle on his horse and mounteth forthwith. He prayeth God give him adventure that he may meet good knight, setteth himself forth of his uncle's hermitage and entereth into the forest that was broad and shady. He rideth until he cometh into a launde that was right spacious, and seeth a leafy tree that was at the head of the launde. He alighteth in the shadow, and thinketh to himself that two knights might joust on this bit of ground fair and well, for the place was right broad. And, even as he was thinking on this wise, he heard a horse neigh full loud in the forest three times, and right glad was he thereof and said: "Ha, God, of your sweetness grant that there be a knight with that horse, so may I prove whether there be any force or valour or knighthood in me. For I know not now what strength I may have, nor even whether my heart be sound and my limbs whole. For on a knight that hath neither hardihood nor valour in himself, may not another knight that hath more force in him reasonably prove his mettle, for many a time have I heard say that one is better than other. And for this pray I to the Saviour and this be a knight that cometh there, that he may have strength and hardihood and mettle to defend his body against mine own, for great desire have I to run upon him. Grant now that he slay me not, nor I him!"
Therewithal, he looketh before him, and seeth the knight issue from the
forest and enter into the launde. The knight was armed and had at his neck a
white shield with a cross of gold. He carried his lance low, and sate upon a
great destrier and rode at a swift pace. As soon as Perceval seeth him, he
steadieth him in his stirrups and setteth spear in rest and smiteth his horse
with his spurs, right joyous, and goeth toward the knight a great gallop. Then
he crieth: "Sir Knight, cover you of your shield to guard you as I do of
mine to defend my body, for you do I defy on this side slaying, and our Lord God
grant that I find you so good knight as shall try what hardihood of heart I may
have, for I am not such as I have been aforetime, and better may one learn of a
good knight than of a bad."
King Hermit cometh from labouring in the forest and findeth not his nephew in
the hermitage, whereof is he right sorrowful, and he mounteth on a white mule
that he had therewithin. She was starred in the midst of her forehead with a red
cross. Josephus the good clerk witnesseth us that this same mule had belonged to
Joseph of Abarimacie at the time he was Pilate's soldier, and that he bequeathed
her to King Pelles. King Hermit departeth from the hermitage and prayeth God
grant him to find his nephew. He goeth through the forest and rideth until he
draweth nigh the launde where the two knights were. He heareth the strokes of
the swords, and cometh towards them full speed and setteth him between the twain
to forbid them.
The damsel, that was right cunning of leech-craft, tended the wounds of the knights, and made them whole as best she might, and King Hermit himself gave counsel therein. But and Perceval had borne his shield that was there within, of sinople with a white hart, Lancelot would have known him well, nor would there have been any quarrel between them, for he had heard tell of this shield at the court of King Arthur. The authority of this story recordeth that the two knights are in hermitage, and that Perceval is well-nigh whole; but Lancelot hath sore pain of his wound and is still far from his healing.