Andrew Lang's King
Arthur - Tales of the Round Table
SIR LANCELOT MEETS SIR GALAHAD,
AND THEY PART FOR EVER
Now we must tell what happened to Sir Lancelot.
When he was come to a water called Mortoise he fell asleep, awaiting for the
adventure that should be sent to him, and in his sleep a voice spoke to him, and
bade him rise and take his armour, and enter the first ship he should find. So
he started up and took his arms and made him ready, and on the strand he found a
ship that was without sail or oar. As soon as he was within the ship, he felt
himself wrapped round with a sweetness such as he had never known before, as if
all that he could desire was fulfilled. And with this joy and peace about him he
fell asleep. When he woke he found near him a fair bed, with a dead lady lying
on it, whom he knew to be Sir Percivale's sister, and in her hand was the tale
of her adventures, which Sir Lancelot took and read. For a month or more they
dwelt in that ship together, and one day, when it had drifted near the shore, he
heard a sound as of a horse; and when the steps came nearer he saw that a Knight
was riding him. At the sight of the ship the Knight alighted and took the saddle
and bridle, and entered the ship. "You are welcome," said Lancelot, and the
Knight saluted him and said, "What is your name? for my heart goeth out to you."
"Truly," answered he, "my name is Sir Lancelot du Lake."
"Sir," said the new Knight, "you are welcome, for you were the beginner of me
in the world."
"Ah," cried Sir Lancelot, "is it you, then, Galahad?"
"Yes, in sooth," said he, and kneeled down and asked Lancelot's blessing, and
then took off his helm and kissed him. And there was great joy between them, and
they told each other all that had befallen them since they left King Arthur's
Court. Then Galahad saw the gentlewoman dead on the bed, and he knew her, and
said he held her in great worship, and that she was the best maid in the world,
and how it was great pity that she had come to her death. But when Lancelot
heard that Galahad had won the marvellous sword he prayed that he might see it,
and kissed the pommel and the hilt, and the scabbard. "In truth," he
said, "never did I know of adventures so wonderful and strange." So dwelled Lancelot
and Galahad in that ship for half a year, and served God daily and nightly with
all their power. And after six months had gone it befell that on a Monday they
drifted to the edge of the forest, where they saw a Knight with white armour
bestriding one horse and holding another all white, by the bridle. And he came
to the ship, and saluted the two Knights and said, "Galahad, you have been long
enough with your father, therefore leave that ship and start upon this horse,
and go on the quest of the Holy Graal.'" So Galahad went to his father and kissed
him, saying, "Fair sweet father, I know not if I shall see you more till I have
beheld the Holy Graal.'" Then they heard a voice which said, "The one shall never
see the other till the day of doom." "Now, Galahad," said Lancelot, "since we
are to bid farewell for ever now, I pray to the great Father to preserve me and
you both." "Sir," answered Galahad, "I no prayer availeth so much as yours."
The next day Sir Lancelot made his way back to Camelot, where he found King
Arthur and Guenevere; but many of the Knights of the Round Table were slain and
destroyed more than the half. All the Court was passing glad to see Sir
Lancelot, and the King asked many tidings of his son Sir Galahad.