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CHAPTER XI

HOW SIR LAUNCELOT

WENT WITH HIS SEVEN FELLOWS ΤΟ ALMESBURY, AND FOUND THERE QUEEN GUENEVER DEAD, WHOM THEY BROUGHT TO GLASTONBURY

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and awaked him, and said: 'Ye be to blame, for ye displease God with such manner of sorrow-making.' 'Truly,' said Sir Launcelot, I trust I do not displease 5 God, for he knoweth mine intent. For my sorrow was not, nor is not, for any rejoicing of sin, but my sorrow may never have end. For when I remember of her beauty, and of her noblesse, that was both with her king and with her, so when I saw his corpse and her corpse so lie together, truly mine heart would not serve to sustain my careful body. Also when I remember me how by my default, mine orgulity, and my pride, that they were both laid full low, that were peerless that ever was living of christian people, wit you well,' said Sir Launcelot, this remembered, of their kindness and mine unkindness, sank so to mine heart, that I might not sustain myself.' So the French book maketh mention.

Then Sir Launcelot rose up or day, and told the hermit. It were well done,' said the hermit, that ye made you ready, and that you disobey not the avision.' 10 Then Sir Launcelot took his seven fellows with him, and on foot they yede from Glastonbury to Almesbury, the which is little more than thirty mile. And thither they came within two days, for they were 15 weak and feeble to go. And when Sir Launcelot was come to Almesbury within the nunnery, Queen Guenever died but half an hour afore. And the ladies told Sir Launcelot that Queen Guenever told 20 them all or she passed, that Sir Launcelot had been priest near a twelvemonth, And hither he cometh as fast as he may to fetch my corpse; and beside my lord, King Arthur, he shall bury me.' Where- 25 fore the queen said in hearing of them all: 'I beseech Almighty God that I may never have power to see Sir Launcelot with my worldly eyes.' And thus,' said all the ladies, was ever her prayer these 30 two days, till she was dead.' Then Sir Launcelot saw her visage, but he wept not greatly, but sighed. And so he did all the observance of the service himself, both the Dirige, and on the morn he sang mass. 35 And there was ordained an horse bier; and so with an hundred torches ever brenning about the corpse of the queen, and ever Sir Launcelot with his seven fellows went about the horse bier, singing and 40 reading many an holy orison, and frankincense upon the corpse incensed. Thus Sir Launcelot and his seven fellows went on foot from Almesbury unto Glastonbury. And when they were come to the chapel 45 and the hermitage, there she had a Dirige, with great devotion. And on the morn, the hermit that sometime was Bishop of Canterbury sang the mass of Requiem with great devotion. And Sir Launcelot 50 was the first that offered, and then also his seven fellows. And then she was wrapped in cered cloth of Raines, from the top to the toe, in thirtyfold; and after she was put in a web of lead, and then in 55 a coffin of marble. And when she was put in the earth, Sir Launcelot swooned, and lay long still, while the hermit came

CHAPTER XII

HOW SIR LAUNCELOT BEGAN TO SICKEN, ANL
AFTER DIED, WHOSE BODY WAS BORNE TO
JOYOUS GARD FOR TO BE BURIED

Then Sir Launcelot never after ate but little meat, ne drank, till he was dead. For then he sickened more and more, and dried, and dwined away. For the bishop nor none of his fellows might not make him to eat, and little he drank, that he was waxen by a cubit shorter than he was, that the people could not know him. For evermore, day and night, he prayed, but sometime he slumbered a broken sleep; ever he was lying groveling on the tomb of King Arthur and Queen Guenever. And there was no comfort that the bishop, nor Sir Bors, nor none of his fellows, could make him, it availed not. So within six weeks after, Sir Launcelot fell sick, and lay in his bed; and then he sent for the Bishop that there was hermit, and all his true fellows. Then Sir Launcelot said with dreary steven: 'Sir Bishop, I pray you give to me all my rites that longeth to a christian man.' It shall not need you,' said the hermit and all his fellows, 'it is but heaviness of your blood; ye shall be well mended by the grace of God tomorn.' 'My fair lords,' said Sir Launcelot, wit you well my careful body will into the earth, I have warning more than now I will say; therefore give me my rites.' So when he was houseled and

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so lie with open visage till that they were buried. And right thus as they were at their service, there came Sir Ector de Maris, that had seven years sought all

his brother, Sir Launcelot.

anealed, and had all that a christian man ought to have, he prayed the bishop that his fellows might bear his body to Joyous Gard. Some men say it was Alnwick, and some men say it was Bamborough. 5 England, Scotland, and Wales, seeking 'Howbeit,' said Sir Launcelot, penteth sore, but I made mine avow sometime, that in Joyous Gard I would be buried. And because of breaking of mine avow, I pray you all, lead me thither.' 10 Then there was weeping and wringing of hands among his fellows.

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So at a season of the night they all went to their beds, for they all lay in one chamber. And so after midnight, against day, 15 the bishop [that] then was hermit, as he lay in his bed asleep, he fell upon a great laughter. And therewith all the fellowship awoke, and came to the bishop, and asked him what he ailed. 'Ah, Jesu 20 mercy,' said the bishop, why did ye awake me? I was never in all my life so merry and so well at ease.' 'Wherefore?' said Sir Bors. Truly,' said the bishop, 'here was Sir Launcelot with me 25 with more angels than ever I saw men in one day. And I saw the angels heave up Sir Launcelot unto heaven, and the gates of heaven opened against him.' 'It is but dretching of swevens,' said Sir Bors, for 30 I doubt not Sir Launcelot aileth nothing but good.' 'It may well be,' said the Bishop; go ye to his bed, and then shall ye prove the sooth.' So when Sir Bors and his fellows came to his bed, they 35 found him stark dead, and he lay as he had smiled, and the sweetest savor about him that ever they felt.

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Then was there weeping and wringing of hands, and the greatest dole they made 40 that ever made men. And on the morn the bishop did his mass of Requiem; and after, the bishop and all the nine knights put Sir Launcelot in the same horse bier that Queen Guenever was laid in to-fore that she was buried. And so the bishop and they all together went with the body of Sir Launcelot daily, till they came to Joyous Gard; and ever they had an hundred torches brenning about him. And so 50 within fifteen days they came to Joyous Gard. And there they laid his corpse in the body of the quire, and sang and read many psalters and prayers over him and about him. And ever his visage was laid 55 open and naked, that all folks might behold him. For such was the custom in those days, that all men of worship should

CHAPTER XIII

HOW SIR ECTOR FOUND SIR LAUNCELOT HIS BROTHER DEAD, AND HOW CONSTANTINE REIGNED NEXT AFTER ARTHUR; AND OF THE END OF THIS BOOK

And when Sir Ector heard such noise and light in the quire of Joyous Gard, he alighted and put his horse from him, and came into the quire, and there he saw men sing and weep. And all they knew Sir Ector, but he knew not them. Then went Sir Bors unto Sir Ector, and told him how there lay his brother, Sir Launcelot, dead; and then Sir Ector threw his shield, sword, and helm from him. And when he beheld Sir Launcelot's visage, he fell down in a swoon. And when he waked, it were hard any tongue to tell the doleful complaints that he made for his brother. 'Ah Launcelot,' he said, 'thou were head of all christian knights, and now I dare say,' said Sir Ector, thou Sir Launcelot, there thou liest, that thou were never matched of earthly knight's hand. And thou were the courteoust knight that ever bare shield. And thou were the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrad horse. And thou were the truest lover of a sinful man that ever loved woman. And thou were the kindest man that ever struck with sword. And thou were the goodliest person that ever came among press of knights. And thou was the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall among ladies. And thou were the sternest knight to thy mortal foe that ever put spear in the rest.' Then there was weeping and dolor out of measure.

Thus they kept Sir Launcelot's corpse aloft fifteen days, and then they buried it with great devotion. And then at leisure they went all with the Bishop of Canterbury to his hermitage, and there they were together more than a month. Then Sir Constantine, that was Sir Cador's son of Cornwall, was chosen king of England. And he was a full noble knight, and worshipfully he ruled this realm. And then this King Constantine sent for the Bishop

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of Canterbury, for he heard say where he was. And so he was restored unto his bishopric, and left that hermitage. And Sir Bedivere was there ever still hermit to his life's end. Then Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Gahalantine, Sir Galihud, Sir Galihodin, Sir Blamore, Sir Bleoberis, Sir Villiars le Valiant, Sir Clarrus of Clermont, all these knights drew them to their countries. 10 pray for my soul. For this book was

Round Table, that when they were whole together there. was ever an hundred and forty. And here is the end of the death of Arthur. I pray you all, gentlemen and 5 gentlewomen that readeth this book of Arthur and his knights, from the beginning to the ending, pray for me while I am alive, that God send me good deliverance, and when I am dead, I pray you all

Howbeit King Constantine would have had them with him, but they would not abide in this realm. And there they all lived in their countries as holy men. And some English books make mention 15 that they went never out of England after the death of Sir Launcelot, but that was but favor of makers. For the French book maketh mention, and is authorized, that Sir Bors, Sir Ector, Sir Blamore, 20 and Sir Bleoberis, went into the Holy Land thereas Jesu Christ was quick and dead, and anon as they had stablished their lands. For the book saith, so Sir Launcelot commanded them for to do, or 25 ever he passed out of this world. And these four knights did many battles upon the miscreants or Turks. And there they died upon a Good Friday for God's sake.

Here is the end of the book of King Arthur, and of his noble knights of the

ended the ninth year of the reign of King Edward the Fourth, by Sir Thomas Maleore, knight, as Jesu help him for his great might, as he is the servant of Jesu both day and night.

Thus endeth this noble and joyous book entitled Le Morte Darthur. Notwithstanding it treateth of the birth, life, and acts of the said King Arthur, of his noble knights of the Round Table, their marvelous enquests and adventures, the achieving of the Sangreal, and in the end the dolorous death and departing out of this world of them all. Which book was reduced into English by Sir Thomas Malory, knight, as afore is said, and by me divided into twenty-one books, chaptered and enprinted, and finished in the abbey, Westminster, the last day of July, the year of our Lord MCCCCLXXXV.

Caxton me fieri fecit.

THE NUT-BROWN MAID (c. 1500)

This charming anonymous lyric, worthy in itself of a conspicuous place in any survey of English poetry, serves significantly as a link between an earlier and a later period. In its suggestion of the débat' form, it recalls the middle ages; in versification and sentiment, it is definitely modern.

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