Four Arthurian Romances, by Chretien DeTroyes

Part 7 out of 9

thee by the enemies of thy friends. The enemies are these very
men who love each other with such a holy love for love, which is
neither false nor feigned, is a precious and a holy thing. In
this case Love is completely blind, and Hate, too, is deprived of
sight. For if Love had recognised these two men, he must have
forbidden each to attack the other, or to do any thing to cause
him harm. In this respect, then, Love is blind and discomfited
and beguiled; for, though he sees them, he fails to recognise
those who rightly belong to him. And though Hate is unable to
tell why one of them should hate the other, yet she tries to
engage them wrongfully, so that each hates the other mortally.
You know, of course, that he cannot be said to love a man who
would wish to harm him and see him dead. How then? Does Yvain
wish to kill his friend, my lord Gawain? Yes, and the desire is
mutual. Would, then, my lord Gawain desire to kill Yvain with
his own hands, or do even worse than I have said? Nay, not
really, I swear and protest. One would not wish to injure or
harm the other, in return for all that God has done for man, or
for all the empire of Rome. But this, in turn, is a lie of mine,
for it is plainly to be seen that, with lance raised high in
rest, each is ready to attack the other, and there will be no
restraint of the desire of each to wound the other with intent to
injure him and work him woe. Now tell me! When one will have
defeated the other, of whom can he complain who has the worst of
it? For if they go so far as to come to blows, I am very much
afraid that they will continue the battle and the strife until
victory be definitely decided. If he is defeated, will Yvain be
justified in saying that he has been harmed and wronged by a man
who counts him among his friends, and who has never mentioned him
but by the name of friend or companion? Or, if it comes about
perchance that Yvain should hurt him in turn, or defeat him in
any way, will Gawain have the right to complain? Nay, for he
will not know whose fault it is. In ignorance of each other's
identity, they both drew off and took their distance. At this
first shock, their lances break, though they were stout, and made
of ash. Not a word do they exchange, for if they had stopped to
converse their meeting would have been different. In that case,
no blow would have been dealt with lance or sword; they would
have kissed and embraced each other rather than sought each
other's harm. For now they attack each other with injurious
intent. The condition of the swords is not improved, nor that of
the helmets and shields, which are dented and split; and the
edges of the swords are nicked and dulled. For they strike each
other violently, not with the fiat of the swords, but with the
edge, and they deal such blows with the pommels upon the nose-
guards and upon the neck, forehead and cheeks, that they are all
marked black and blue where the blood collects beneath the skin.
And their hauberks are so torn, and their shields so broken in
pieces, that neither one escaped without wounds. Their breath is
almost exhausted with the labour of the strife; they hammer away
at each other so lustily that every hyacinth and emerald set in
their helmets is crushed and smashed. For they give each other
such a battering with their pommels upon the helmets that they
are quite stunned, as they almost beat out each other's brains.
The eyes in their heads gleam like sparks, as, with stout square
fists, and strong nerves, and hard bones, they strike each other
upon the mouth as long as they can grip their swords, which are
of great service to them in dealing their heavy blows.

(Vv. 6149-6228.) When they had for a long time strained
themselves, until the helmets were crushed, and the hauberks'
meshes were torn apart with the hammering of the swords, and the
shields were split and cracked, they drew apart a little to give
their pulse a rest and to catch their breath again. However,
they do not long delay, but run at each other again more fiercely
than before. And all declare that they never saw two more
courageous knights. "This fight between them is no jest, but
they are in grim earnest. They will never be repaid for their
merits and deserts." The two friends, in their bitter struggle,
heard these words, and heard how the people were talking of
reconciling the two sisters; but they had no success in placating
the elder one. And the younger one said she would leave it to
the King, and would not gainsay him in anything. But the elder
one was so obstinate that even the Queen Guinevere and the
knights and the King and the ladies and the townspeople side with
the younger sister, and all join in beseeching the King to give
her a third or a fourth part of the land in spite of the elder
sister, and to separate the two knights who had displayed such
bravery, for it would be too bad if one should injure the other
or deprive him of any honour. And the King replied that he would
take no hand in making peace, for the elder sister is so cruel
that she has no desire for it. All these words were heard by the
two, who were attacking each other so bitterly that all were
astonished thereat; for the battle is waged so evenly that it is
impossible to judge which has the better and which the worse.
Even the two men themselves, who fight, and who are purchasing
honour with agony, are filled with amazement and stand aghast,
for they are so well matched in their attack, that each wonders
who it can be that withstands him with such bravery. They fight
so long that the day draws on to night, while their arms grow
weary and their bodies sore, and the hot, boiling blood flows
from many a spot and trickles down beneath their hauberks: they
are in such distress that it is no wonder if they wish to rest.
Then both withdraw to rest themselves, each thinking within
himself that, however long he has had to wait, he now at last has
met his match. For some time they thus seek repose, without
daring to resume the fight. They feel no further desire to
fight, because of the night which is growing dark, and because of
the respect they feel for each other's might. These two
considerations keep them apart, and urge them to keep the peace.
But before they leave the field they will discover each other's
identity, and joy and mercy will be established between them.

(Vv. 6229-6526.) My brave and courteous lord Yvain was the first
to speak. But his good friend was unable to recognise him by his
utterance; for he was prevented by his low tone and by his voice
which was hoarse, weak, and broken; for his blood was all stirred
up by the blows he had received. "My lord," he says, "the night
comes on! I think no blame or reproach will attach to us if the
night comes between us. But I am willing to admit, for my own
part, that I feel great respect and admiration for you, and never
in my life have I engaged in a battle which has made me smart so
much, nor did I ever expect to see a knight whose acquaintance I
should so yearn to make. You know well how to land your blows
and how to make good use of them: I have never known a knight who
was so skilled in dealing blows. It was against my will that I
received all the blows you have bestowed on me to-day; I am
stunned by the blows you have I struck upon my head." "Upon my
word," my lord Gawain replies, "you are not so stunned and faint
but that I am as much so, or more. And if I should tell you the
simple truth, I think you would not be loath to hear it, for if I
have lent you anything of mine, you have fully paid me back,
principal and interest; for you were more ready to pay back than
I was to accept the payment. But however that may be, since you
wish me to inform you of my name, it shall not be kept from you:
my name is Gawain the son of King Lot." As soon as my lord Yvain
heard that, he was amazed and sorely troubled; angry and grief-
stricken, he cast upon the ground his bloody sword and broken
shield, then dismounted from his horse, and cried: "Alas, what
mischance is this! Through what unhappy ignorance in not
recognising each other have we waged this battle! For if I had
known who you were, I should never have fought with you; but,
upon my word, I should have surrendered without a blow." "How is
that?" my lord Gawain inquires, "who are you, then?" "I am
Yvain, who love you more than any man in the whole wide world,
for you have always been fond of me and shown me honour in every
court. But I wish to make you such amends and do you such honour
in this affair that I will confess myself to have been defeated."
"Will you do so much for my sake?" my gentle lord Gawain asks
him; "surely I should be presumptuous to accept any such amends
from you. This honour shall never be claimed as mine, but it
shall be yours, to whom I resign it." "Ah, fair sire, do not
speak so. For that could never be. I am so wounded and
exhausted that I cannot endure more." "Surely, you have no cause
to be concerned." his friend and companion replies; "but for my
part, I am defeated and overcome; I say it not as a compliment;
for there is no stranger in the world, to whom I would not say as
much, rather than receive any more blows." Thus saying, he got
down from his horse, and they threw their arms about each other's
neck, kissing each other, and each continuing to assert that it
is he who has met defeat. The argument is still in progress when
the King and the knights come running up from every side, at the
sight of their reconciliation; and great is their desire to hear
how this can be, and who these men are who manifest such
happiness. The King says: "Gentlemen, tell us now who it is that
has so suddenly brought about this friendship and harmony between
you two, after the hatred and strife there has been this day?"
Then his nephew, my lord Gawain, thus answers him: "My lord, you
shall be informed of the misfortune and mischance which have been
the cause of our strife. Since you have tarried in order to hear
and learn the cause of it, it is right to let you know the truth.
I, Gawain, who am your nephew, did not recognise this companion
of mine, my lord Yvain, until he fortunately, by the will of God,
asked me my name. After each had informed the other of his name,
we recognised each other, but not until we had fought it out.
Our struggle already has been long; and if we had fought yet a
little longer, it would have fared ill with me, for, by my head,
he would have killed me, what with his prowess and the evil cause
of her who chose me as her champion. But I would rather be
defeated than killed by a friend in battle." Then my lord
Yvain's blood was stirred, as he said to him in reply: "Fair dear
sire, so help me God, you have no right to say so much. Let my
lord, The King, well know in this battle I am surely the one who
has been defeated and overcome!" "I am the one" "No, I am."
Thus each cries out, and both are so honest and courteous that
each allows the victory and crown to be the other's prize, while
neither one of them will accept it. Thus each strives to
convince the King and all the people that he has been defeated
and overthrown. But when he had listened to them for a while,
the King terminated the dispute. He was well pleased with what
he heard and with the sight of them in each other's arms, though
they had wounded and injured each other in several places. "My
lords," he says, "there is deep affection between you two. You
give clear evidence of that, when each insists that it is he who
has been defeated. Now leave it all to me! For I think I can
arrange it in such a way that it will redound to your honour, and
every one will give consent." Then they both promised him that
they would do his will in every particular. And the King says
that he will decide the quarrel fairly and faithfully. "Where is
the damsel," he inquires, "who has ejected her sister from her
land, and has forcibly and cruelly disinherited her?" "My lord,"
she answers, "here I am." "Are you there? Then draw near to me!
I saw plainly some time ago that you were disinheriting her. But
her right shall no longer be denied; for you yourself have avowed
the truth to me. You must now resign her share to her." "Sire,"
she says, "if I uttered a foolish and thoughtless word, you ought
not to take me up in it. For God's sake, sire, do not be hard on
me! You are a king, and you ought to guard against wrong and
error." The King replies: "That is precisely why I wish to give
your sister her rights; for I have never defended what is wrong.
And you have surely heard how your knight and hers have left the
matter in my hands. I shall not say what is altogether pleasing
to you; for your injustice is well known. In his desire to
honour the other, each one says that he has been defeated. But
there is no need to delay further: since the matter has been left
to me, either you will do in all respects what I say, without
resistance, or I shall announce that my nephew has been defeated
in the fight. That would be the worst thing that could happen to
your cause, and I shall be sorry to make such a declaration." In
reality, he would not have said it for anything; but he spoke
thus in order to see if he could frighten her into restoring the
heritage to her sister; for he clearly saw that she never would
surrender anything to her for any words of his unless she was
influenced by force or fear. In fear and apprehension, she
replied to him: "Fair lord, I must now respect your desire,
though my heart is very loath to yield. Yet, however hard it may
go with me, I shall do it, and my sister shall have what belongs
to her. I give her your own person as a pledge of her share in
my inheritance, in order that she may be more assured of it."
"Endow her with it, then, at once," the King replies; "let her
receive it from your hands, and let her vow fidelity to you! Do
you love her as your vassal, and let her love you as her
sovereign lady and as her sister." Thus the King conducts the
affair until the damsel takes possession of her land, and offers
her thanks to him for it. Then the King asked the valiant and
brave knight who was his nephew to allow himself to be disarmed;
and he requested my lord Yvain to lay aside his arms also; for
now they may well dispense with them. Then the two vassals lay
aside their arms and separate on equal terms. And while they are
taking off their armour, they see the lion running up in search
of his master. As soon as he catches sight of him, he begins to
show his joy. Then you would have seen people draw aside, and
the boldest among them takes to flight. My lord Yvain cries out:
"Stand still, all! Why do you flee? No one is chasing you.
Have no fear that yonder lion will do you harm. Believe me,
please, when I say that he is mine, and I am his, and we are both
companions." Then it was known of a truth by all those who had
heard tell of the adventures of the lion and of his companion
that this must be the very man who had killed the wicked giant.
And my lord Gawain said to him: "Sir companion, so help me God,
you have overwhelmed me with shame this day. I did not deserve
the service that you did me in killing the giant to save my
nephews and my niece. I have been thinking about you for some
time, and I was troubled because it was said that we were
acquainted as loving friends. I have surely thought much upon
the subject: but I could not hit upon the truth, and had never
heard of any knight that I had known in any land where I had
been, who was called `The Knight with the Lion.'" While they
chatted thus they took their armour off, and the lion came with
no slow step to the place where his master sat, and showed such
joy as a dumb beast could. Then the two knights had to be
removed to a sick-room and infirmary, for they needed a doctor
and piaster to cure their wounds. King Arthur, who loved them
well, had them both brought before him, and summoned a surgeon
whose knowledge of surgery was supreme. He exercised his art in
curing them, until he had healed their wounds as well and as
quickly as possible. When he had cured them both, my lord Yvain.
who had his heart set fast on love, saw clearly that he could not
live, but that he finally would die unless his lady took pity
upon him; for he was dying for love of her; so he thought he
would go away from the court alone, and would go to fight at the
spring that belonged to her, where he would cause such a storm of
wind and rain that she would be compelled perforce to make peace
with him; otherwise, there would be no end to the disturbance of
the spring, and to the rain and wind.

(Vv. 6527-6658.) As soon as my lord Yvain felt that he was cured
and sound again, he departed without the knowledge of any one.
But he had with him his lion, who never in his life wished to
desert him. They travelled until they saw the spring and made
the rain descend. Think not that this is a lie of mine, when I
tell you that the disturbance was so violent that no one could
tell the tenth part of it: for it seemed as if the whole forest
must surely be engulfed. The lady fears for her town, lest it,
too, will crumble away; the walls totter, and the tower rocks so
that it is on the verge of falling down. The bravest Turk would
rather be a captive in Persia than be shut up within those walls.
The people are so stricken with terror that they curse all their
ancestors, saying: "Confounded be the man who first constructed a
house in this neighbourhood, and all those who built this town!
For in the wide world they could not have found so detestable a
spot, for a single man is able here to invade and worry and harry
us." "You must take counsel in this matter, my lady," says
Lunete; "you will find no one who will undertake to aid you in
this time of need unless you seek for him afar. In the future we
shall never be secure in this town, nor dare to pass beyond the
walls and gate. You know full well that, were some one to summon
together all your knights for this cause, the best of them would
not dare to step forward. If it is true that you have no one to
defend your spring, you will appear ridiculous and humiliated.
It will redound greatly to your honour, forsooth, if he who has
attacked you shall retire without a fight! Surely you are in a
bad predicament if you do not devise some other plan to benefit
yourself." The lady replies: "Do thou, who art so wise, tell me
what plan I can devise, and I will follow thy advice." "Indeed,
lady, if I had any plan, I should gladly propose it to you. But
you have great need of a wiser counsellor. So I shall certainly
not dare to intrude, and in common with the others I shall endure
the rain and wind until, if it please God, I shall see some
worthy man appear here in your court who will assume the
responsibility and burden of the battle; but I do not believe
that that will happen to-day, and we have not yet seen the worst
of your urgent need." Then the lady replies at once: "Damsel,
speak now of something else! Say no more of the people of my
household; for I cherish no further expectation that the spring
and its marble brim will ever be defended by any of them. But,
if it please God, let us hear now what is your opinion and plan;
for people always say that in time of need one can test his
friend." (30) "My lady, if there is any one who thinks he could
find him who slew the giant and defeated the three knights, he
would do well to go to search for him. But so long as he shall
incur the enmity, wrath, and displeasure of his lady, I fancy
there is not under heaven any man or woman whom he would follow,
until he had been assured upon oath that everything possible
would be done to appease the hostility which his lady feels for
him, and which is so bitter that he is dying of the grief and
anxiety it causes him." And the lady said: "Before you enter
upon the quest, I am prepared to promise you upon my word and to
swear that, if he will return to me, I will openly and frankly do
all I can to bring about his peace of mind." Then Lunete replies
to her: "Lady, have no fear that you cannot easily effect his
reconciliation, when once it is your desire to do so; but, if you
do not object, I will take your oath before I start." "I have no
objection," the lady says. With delicate courtesy, Lunete
procured at once for her a very precious relic, and the lady fell
upon her knees. Thus Lunete very courteously accepted her upon
her oath. In administering the oath, she forgot nothing which it
might be an advantage to insert. "Lady," she says, "now raise
your hand! I do not wish that the day after to-morrow you should
lay any charge upon me; for you are not doing anything for me,
but you are acting for your own good. If you please now, you
shall swear that you will exert yourself in the interests of the
Knight with the Lion until he recover his lady's love as
completely as he ever possessed it." The lady then raised her
right hand and said: "I swear to all that thou hast said, so help
me God and His holy saint, that my heart may never fail to do all
within my power. If I have the strength and ability, I will
restore to him the love and favour which with his lady he once

(Vv. 6659-6716.) Lunete has now done well her work; there was
nothing which she had desired so much as the object which she had
now attained. They had already got out for her a palfrey with an
easy pace. Gladly and in a happy frame of mind Lunete mounts and
rides away, until she finds beneath the pine-tree him whom she
did not expect to find so near at hand. Indeed, she had thought
that she would have to seek afar before discovering him. As soon
as she saw him, she recognised him by the lion, and coming toward
him rapidly, she dismounted upon the solid earth. And my lord
Yvain recognised her as soon as he saw her, and greeted her, as
she saluted him with the words: "Sire, I am very happy to have
found you so near at hand." And my lord Yvain said in reply:
"How is that? Were you looking for me, then?" "Yes, sire, and
in all my life I have never felt so glad, for I have made my
mistress promise, if she does not go back upon her word, that she
will be again your lady as was once the case, and that you shall
be her lord; this truth I make bold to tell." My lord Yvain was
greatly elated at the news he hears, and which he had never
expected to hear again. He could not sufficiently show his
gratitude to her who had accomplished this for him. He kisses
her eyes, and then her face, saying: "Surely, my sweet friend, I
can never repay you for this service. I fear that ability and
time will fail me to do you the honour and service which is your
due." "Sire, she replies, "have no concern, and let not that
thought worry you! For you will have an abundance of strength
and time to show me and others your good will. If I have paid
this debt I owed, I am entitled to only so much gratitude as the
man who borrows another's goods and then discharges the
obligation. Even now I do not consider that I have paid you the
debt I owed." "Indeed you have, as God sees me, more than five
hundred thousand times. Now, when you are ready, let us go. But
have you told her who I am?" "No, I have not, upon my word. She
knows you only by the name of `The Knight with the Lion.'"

(Vv. 6717-6758.) Thus conversing they went along, with the lion
following after them, until they all three came to the town.
They said not a word to any man or woman there, until they
arrived where the lady was. And the lady was greatly pleased as
soon as she heard that the damsel was approaching, and that she
was bringing with her the lion and the knight, whom she was very
anxious to meet and know and see. All clad in his arms, my lord
Yvain fell at her feet upon his knees, while Lunete, who was
standing by, said to her: "Raise him up, lady, and apply all your
efforts and strength and skill in procuring that peace and pardon
which no one in the world, except you, can secure for him." Then
the lady bade him rise, and said: "He may dispose of all my
power! I shall be very happy, if possible, to accomplish his
wish and his desire." "Surely, my lady," Lunete replied, "I
would not say it if it were not true. But all this is even more
possible for you than I have said: but now I will tell you the
whole truth, and you shall see: you never had and you never will
have such a good friend as this gentleman. God, whose will it is
that there should be unending peace and love between you and him,
has caused me to find him this day so near at hand. In order to
test the truth of this, I have only one thing to say: lady,
dismiss the grudge you bear him! For he has no other mistress
than you. This is your husband, my lord Yvain."

(Vv. 6759-6776.) The lady, trembling at these words, replied:
"God save me! You have caught me neatly in a trap! You will
make me love, in spite of myself, a man who neither loves nor
esteems me. This is a fine piece of work, and a charming way of
serving me! I would rather endure the winds and the tempests all
my life: And if it were not a mean and ugly thing to break one's
word, he would never make his peace or be reconciled with me.
This purpose would have always lurked within me, as a fire
smoulders in the ashes; but I do not wish to renew it now, nor do
I care to refer to it, since I must be reconciled with him."

(Vv. 6777-6798.) My lord Yvain hears and understands that his
cause is going well, and that he will be peacefully reconciled
with her. So he says: "Lady, one ought to have mercy on a
sinner. I have had to pay, and dearly to pay, for my mad act.
It was madness that made me stay away, and I now admit my guilt
and sin. I have been bold, indeed, in daring to present myself
to you; but if you will deign to keep me now, I never again shall
do you any wrong." She replied: "I will surely consent to that;
for if I did not do all I could to establish peace between you
and me, I should be guilty of perjury. So, if you please, I
grant your request." "Lady," says he, "so truly as God in this
mortal life could not otherwise restore me to happiness, so may
the Holy Spirit bless me five hundred times!"

(Vv. 6799-6813.) Now my lord Yvain is reconciled, and you may
believe that, in spite of the trouble he has endured, he was
never so happy for anything. All has turned out well at last;
for he is beloved and treasured by his lady, and she by him. His
troubles no longer are in his mind; for he forgets them all in
the joy he feels with his precious wife. And Lunete, for her
part, is happy too: all her desires are satisfied when once she
had made an enduring peace between my polite lord Yvain and his
sweetheart so dear and so elegant.

(Vv. 6814-6818.) Thus Chretien concludes his romance of the
Knight with the Lion; for I never heard any more told of it, nor
will you ever hear any further particulars, unless some one
wishes to add some lies.

NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by
"(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.

(1) "cele feste, qui tant coste,
Qu'an doit clamer la pantecoste."
This rhyme is frequently met in mediaeval narrative poems.
(2) The contemporary degeneracy of lovers and of the art of love
is a favourite theme of mediaeval poets.
(3) Cf. "Roman de la Rose", 9661, for the stinking manure pit.
(4) The forest of Broceliande is in Brittany, and in it Chretien
places the marvellous spring of Barenton, of which we read
in the sequel. In his version the poet forgets that the sea
separates the court at Carduel from the forest of
Broceliande. His readers, however, probably passed over
this "lapsus". The most famous passage relating to this
forest and its spring is found in Wace, "Le Roman de Rou et
des dues de Normandie", vv. 6395-6420, 2 vols. (Heilbronn,
1877-79). Cf. further the informing note by W.L. Holland,
"Chretien von Troies", p. 152 f. (Tubingen, 1854).
(5) This grotesque portrait of the "vilain" is perfectly
conventional in aristocratic poetry, and is also applied to
some Saracens in the epic poems. Cf. W.W. Comfort in "Pub.
of the Modern Language Association of America", xxi. 494 f.,
and in "The Dublin Review", July 1911.
(6) For the description of the magic fountain, cf. W.A. Nitze,
"The Fountain Defended" in "Modern Philology", vii. 145-164;
G.L. Hamilton, "Storm-making Springs", etc., in "Romantic
Review", ii. 355-375; A.F. Grimme in "Germania", xxxiii. 38;
O.M. Johnston in "Transactions and Proceedings of the
American Philological Association", xxxiii., p. lxxxiii. f.
(7) Eugen Kolbing, "Christian von Troyes Yvain und die
Brandanuslegende" in "Ztsch. fur vergleichende
Literaturgeschichte" (Neue Folge, xi. Brand, 1897), pp. 442-
448, has pointed out other striking allusions in the Latin
"Navigatio S. Brandans" (ed. Wahlund, Upsala, 1900) and
elsewhere in Celtic legend to trees teeming with singing
birds, in which the souls of the blessed are incorporated.
A more general reference to trees, animated by the souls of
the dead, is found in J.G. Frazer, "The Golden Bough" (2nd
ed. 1900), vol. I., p. 178 f.
(8) Cf. A. Tobler in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philologie", iv. 80-
85, who gives many other instances of boasting after meals.
See next note.
(9) Noradin is the Sultan Nureddin Mahmud (reigned 1146-1173), a
contemporary of the poet; Forre is a legendary Saracen king
of Naples, mentioned in the epic poems (cf. E. Langlois,
"Table des noms propres de toute nature compris dans les
chansons de geste", Paris, 1904; Albert Counson, "Noms
epiques entres dans le vocabulaire commun" in "Romanische
Forschungen", xxiii. 401-413). These names are mentioned
here in connection with the brave exploits which Christian
knights, while in their cups, may boast that they will
accomplish (F.). This practice of boasting was called
indulging in "gabs" (=Eng. "gab"), a good instance of which
will be found in "Le Voyage de Charlemagne a Jeruslaem" (ed.
Koschwitz), v. 447 ff.
(10) It is evident in this passage that Chretien's version is not
clear; the reader cannot be sure in what sort of an
apartment Yvain is secreted. The passage is perfectly
clear, however, in the Welsh "Owein", as shown by A.C.L.
Brown in "Romanic Review", iii. 143-172, "On the Independent
Character of the Welsh `Owain'", where he argues
convincingly for an original older than either the extant
French of Welsh versions.
(11) The damsel's surprise and fright at the sight of Yvain,
which puzzled Professor Foerster, is satisfactorily
explained by J. Acher in "Ztsch. fur franzosische Sprache
und Literatur", xxxv. 150.
(12) For magic rings, cf. A. Hertel, "Verzauberte
Oertlichkeiten", etc. (Hanover, 1908); D.B. Easter, "The
Magic Elements in the romans d'aventure and the romans
bretons" (Baltimore, 1906).
(13) Much has been written on the widespread belief that a dead
person's wounds would bleed afresh in the presence of his
murderer. The passage in our text is interesting as being
the earliest literary reference to the belief. Other
instances will be found in Shakespear ("King Richard III.,
Act. I., Sc. 2), Cervantes ("Don Quixote"), Scott
("Ballads"), and Schiller ("Braut von Messina"). In the
15th and 16th centuries especially, the bleeding of the dead
became in Italy, Germany, France, and Spain an absolute or
contributory proof of guilt in the eyes of the law. The
suspected culprit might be subjected to this ordeal as part
of the inquisitional method to determine guilt. For
theories of the origin of this belief and of its use in
legal trials, as well as for more extended bibliography, cf.
Karl Lehmann in "Germanistische Abhandlungen fur Konrad von
Maurer" (Gottingen, 1893), pp. 21-45; C.V. Christensen,
"Baareproven" (Copenhagen, 1900).
(14) W.L. Holland in his note for this passage recalls Schiller's
"Jungfrau von Orleans", Act III. Sc. 7, and Shakespeare,
first part of "King Henry IV.", Act V. Sc. 4:
"When that this body did contain a spirit,
A kingdom for it was too small a bound;
But now two paces of the vilest earth
Is room enough."
(15) Foerster regards this excuse for Kay's defeat as ironical.
(16) It is hoped that the following passage may have retained in
the translation some of the gay animation which clothes this
description of a royal entry into a mediaeval town.
(17) This idea forms the dominating motive, it will be recalled,
in "Erec et Enide" (cf. note to "Erec", v. 2576).
(18) The parallel between Yvain's and Roland's madness will occur
to readers of Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso", though in the
former case Yvain's madness seems to be rather a retribution
for his failure to keep his promise, while Roland's madness
arises from excess of love.
(19) Argonne is the name of a hilly and well-wooded district in
the north-east of France, lying between the Meuse and the
(20) An allusion to the well-known epic tradition embodied in the
"Chanson de Roland". It was common for mediaeval poets to
give names to both the horses and the swords of their
(21) For the faithful lion in the Latin bestiaries and mediaeval
romances, see the long note of W.L. Holland, "Chretien von
Troies" (Tubingen, 1854), p. 161 f., and G. Baist in
Zeitschrift fur romanische Philologie, xxi. 402-405. To the
examples there cited may be added the episodes in "Octavian"
(15th century), published in the "Romanische Bibliothek"
(Heilbronn, 1883).
(22) This is the first of three references in this poem to the
abduction of Guinevere as fully narrated in the poem of
"Lancelot". The other references are in v. 3918 and v.4740
(23) Yvain here states the theory of the judicial trial by
combat. For another instance see "Lancelot", v. 4963 f.
Cf. M. Pfeffer in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philogie", ix. 1-
74, and L. Jordan, id. Xxix. 385-401.
(24) A similar description of a distressed damsel wandering at
night in a forest is found in "Berte aus grans pies", by
Adenet le Roi (13th century).
(25) The lion is forgotten for the moment, but will appear again
v. 5446. (F.)
(26) This entire passage belongs in the catagory of widespread
myths which tell of a tribute of youths or maidens paid to
some cruel monster, from which some hero finally obtains
deliverance. Instances are presented in the adventures of
Theseus and Tristan.
(27) The old French monetary table was as follows:
10 as = 1 denier; 12 deniers = 1 sol; 20 sous = 1 livre
(28) It appears to be the poet's prerogative in all epochs of
social history to bemoan the degeneracy of true love in his
own generation.
(29) The sleeves of shirts were detachable, and were sewed on
afresh when a clean garment was put on. (F.)
(30) This was an axiom of feudal society, and occurs more
frequently in feudal literature than any other statement of
mediaeval social relations.

or, The Knight of the Cart

(Vv. 1-30.) Since my lady of Champagne wishes me to undertake to
write a romance, (1) I shall very gladly do so, being so devoted
to her service as to do anything in the world for her, without
any intention of flattery. But if one were to introduce any
flattery upon such an occasion, he might say, and I would
subscribe to it, that this lady surpasses all others who are
alive, just as the south wind which blows in May or April is more
lovely than any other wind. But upon my word, I am not one to
wish to flatter my lady. I will simply say: "The Countess is
worth as many queens as a gem is worth of pearls and sards." Nay
I shall make no comparison, and yet it is true in spite of me; I
will say, however, that her command has more to do with this work
than any thought or pains that I may expend upon it. Here
Chretien begins his book about the Knight of the Cart. The
material and the treatment of it are given and furnished to him
by the Countess, and he is simply trying to carry out her concern
and intention. Here he begins the story.

(Vv. 31-172.) Upon a certain Ascension Day King Arthur had come
from Caerleon, and had held a very magnificent court at Camelot
as was fitting on such a day. (2) After the feast the King did
not quit his noble companions, of whom there were many in the
hall. The Queen was present, too, and with her many a courteous
lady able to converse in French. And Kay, who had furnished the
meal, was eating with the others who had served the food. While
Kay was sitting there at meat, behold there came to court a
knight, well equipped and fully armed, and thus the knight
appeared before the King as he sat among his lords. He gave him
no greeting, but spoke out thus: "King Arthur, I hold in
captivity knights, ladies, and damsels who belong to thy dominion
and household; but it is not because of any intention to restore
them to thee that I make reference to them here; rather do I wish
to proclaim and serve thee notice that thou hast not the strength
or the resources to enable thee to secure them again. And be
assured that thou shalt die before thou canst ever succour them."
The King replies that he must needs endure what he has not the
power to change; nevertheless, he is filled with grief. Then the
knight makes as if to go away, and turns about, without tarrying
longer before the King; but after reaching the door of the hall,
he does not go down the stairs, but stops and speaks from there
these words: "King, if in thy court there is a single knight in
whom thou hast such confidence that thou wouldst dare to entrust
to him the Queen that he might escort her after me out into the
woods whither I am going, I will promise to await him there, and
will surrender to thee all the prisoners whom I hold in exile in
my country if he is able to defend the Queen and if he succeeds
in bringing her back again." Many who were in the palace heard
this challenge, and the whole court was in an uproar. Kay, too,
heard the news as he sat at meat with those who served. Leaving
the table, he came straight to the King, and as if greatly
enraged, he began to say: "O King, I have served thee long,
faithfully, and loyally; now I take my leave, and shall go away,
having no desire to serve thee more." The King was grieved at
what he heard, and as soon as he could, he thus replied to him:
"Is this serious, or a joke?" And Kay replied: "O King, fair
sire, I have no desire to jest, and I take my leave quite
seriously. No other reward or wages do I wish in return for the
service I have given you. My mind is quite made up to go away
immediately." "Is it in anger or in spite that you wish to go?"
the King inquired; "seneschal, remain at court, as you have done
hitherto, and be assured that I have nothing in the world which I
would not give you at once in return for your consent to stay."
"Sire," says Kay, "no need of that. I would not accept for each
day's pay a measure of fine pure gold." Thereupon, the King in
great dismay went off to seek the Queen. "My lady," he says,
"you do not know the demand that the seneschal makes of me. He
asks me for leave to go away, and says he will no longer stay at
court; the reason of this I do not know. But he will do at your
request what he will not do for me. Go to him now, my lady dear.
Since he will not consent to stay for my sake, pray him to remain
on your account, and if need be, fall at his feet, for I should
never again be happy if I should lose his company." (3) The King
sends the Queen to the seneschal, and she goes to him. Finding
him with the rest, she went up to him, and said: "Kay, you may be
very sure that I am greatly troubled by the news I have heard of
you. I am grieved to say that I have been told it is your
intention to leave the King. How does this come about? What
motive have you in your mind? I cannot think that you are so
sensible or courteous as usual. I want to ask you to remain:
stay with us here, and grant my prayer." "Lady," he says, "I
give you thanks; nevertheless, I shall not remain." The Queen
again makes her request, and is joined by all the other knights.
And Kay informs her that he is growing tired of a service which
is unprofitable. Then the Queen prostrates herself at full
length before his feet. Kay beseeches her to rise, but she says
that she will never do so until he grants her request. Then Kay
promises her to remain, provided the King and she will grant in
advance a favour he is about to ask. "Kay," she says, "he will
grant it, whatever it may be. Come now, and we shall tell him
that upon this condition you will remain." So Kay goes away with
the Queen to the King's presence. The Queen says: "I have had
hard work to detain Kay; but I have brought him here to you with
the understanding that you will do what he is going to ask." The
King sighed with satisfaction, and said that he would perform
whatever request he might make.

(Vv. 173-246.) "Sire," says Kay, "hear now what I desire, and
what is the gift you have promised me. I esteem myself very
fortunate to gain such a boon with your consent. Sire, you have
pledged your word that you would entrust to me my lady here, and
that we should go after the knight who awaits us in the forest."
Though the King is grieved, he trusts him with the charge, for he
never went back upon his word. But it made him so ill-humoured
and displeased that it plainly showed in his countenance. The
Queen, for her part, was sorry too, and all those of the
household say that Kay had made a proud, outrageous, and mad
request. Then the King took the Queen by the hand, and said: "My
lady, you must accompany Kay without making objection." And Kay
said: "Hand her over to me now, and have no fear, for I shall
bring her back perfectly happy and safe." The King gives her
into his charge, and he takes her off. After them all the rest
go out, and there is not one who is not sad. You must know that
the seneschal was fully armed, and his horse was led into the
middle of the courtyard, together with a palfrey, as is fitting,
for the Queen. The Queen walked up to the palfrey, which was
neither restive nor hard-mouthed. Grieving and sad, with a sigh
the Queen mounts, saying to herself in a low voice, so that no
one could hear: "Alas, alas, if you only knew it, I am sure you
would never allow me without interference to be led away a step."
(4) She thought she had spoken in a very low tone; but Count
Guinable heard her, who was standing by when she mounted. When
they started away, as great a lament was made by all the men and
women present as if she already lay dead upon a bier. They do
not believe that she will ever in her life come back. The
seneschal in his impudence takes her where that other knight is
awaiting her. But no one was so much concerned as to undertake
to follow him; until at last my lord Gawain thus addressed the
King his uncle: "Sire," he says, "you have done a very foolish
thing, which causes me great surprise; but if you will take my
advice, while they are still near by, I and you will ride after
them, and all those who wish to accompany us. For my part, I
cannot restrain myself from going in pursuit of them at once. It
would not be proper for us not to go after them, at least far
enough to learn what is to become of the Queen, and how Kay is
going to comport himself." "Ah, fair nephew," the King replied,
"you have spoken courteously. And since you have undertaken the
affair, order our horses to be led out bridled and saddled that
there may be no delay in setting out."

(Vv. 247-398.) The horses are at once brought out, all ready and
with the saddles on. First the King mounts, then my lord Gawain,
and all the others rapidly. Each one, wishing to be of the
party, follows his own will and starts away. Some were armed,
but there were not a few without their arms. My lord Gawain was
armed, and he bade two squires lead by the bridle two extra
steeds. And as they thus approached the forest, they saw Kay's
horse running out; and they recognised him, and saw that both
reins of the bridle were broken. The horse was running wild, the
stirrup-straps all stained with blood, and the saddle-bow was
broken and damaged. Every one was chagrined at this, and they
nudged each other and shook their heads. My lord Gawain was
riding far in advance of the rest of the party, and it was not
long before he saw coming slowly a knight on a horse that was
sore, painfully tired, and covered with sweat. The knight first
saluted my lord Gawain, and his greeting my lord Gawain returned.
Then the knight, recognising my lord Gawain, stopped and thus
spoke to him: "You see, sir, my horse is in a sweat and in such
case as to be no longer serviceable. I suppose that those two
horses belong to you now, with the understanding that I shall
return the service and the favour, I beg you to let me have one
or the other of them, either as a loan or outright as a gift."
And he answers him: "Choose whichever you prefer." Then he who
was in dire distress did not try to select the better or the
fairer or the larger of the horses, but leaped quickly upon the
one which was nearer to him, and rode him off. Then the one he
had just left fell dead, for he had ridden him hard that day, so
that he was used up and overworked. The knight without delay
goes pricking through the forest, and my lord Gawain follows in
pursuit of him with all speed, until he reaches the bottom of a
hill. And when he had gone some distance, he found the horse
dead which he had given to the knight, and noticed that the
ground had been trampled by horses, and that broken shields and
lances lay strewn about, so that it seemed that there had been a
great combat between several knights, and he was very sorry and
grieved not to have been there. However, he did not stay there
long, but rapidly passed on until he saw again by chance the
knight all alone on foot, completely armed, with helmet laced,
shield hanging from his neck, and with his sword girt on. He had
overtaken a cart. In those days such a cart served the same
purpose as does a pillory now; and in each good town where there
are more than three thousand such carts nowadays, in those times
there was only one, and this, like our pillories, had to do
service for all those who commit murder or treason, and those who
are guilty of any delinquency, and for thieves who have stolen
others' property or have forcibly seized it on the roads.
Whoever was convicted of any crime was placed upon a cart and
dragged through all the streets, and he lost henceforth all his
legal rights, and was never afterward heard, honoured, or
welcomed in any court. The carts were so dreadful in those days
that the saying was then first used: "When thou dost see and meet
a cart, cross thyself and call upon God, that no evil may befall
thee." The knight on foot, and without a lance, walked behind
the cart, and saw a dwarf sitting on the shafts, who held, as a
driver does, a long goad in his hand. Then he cries out: "Dwarf,
for God's sake, tell me now if thou hast seen my lady, the Queen,
pass by here." The miserable, low-born dwarf would not give him
any news of her, but replied: "If thou wilt get up into the cart
I am driving thou shalt hear to-morrow what has happened to the
Queen." Then he kept on his way without giving further heed.
The knight hesitated only for a couple of steps before getting
in. Yet, it was unlucky for him that he shrank from the
disgrace, and did not jump in at once; for he will later rue his
delay. But common sense, which is inconsistent with love's
dictates, bids him refrain from getting in, warning him and
counselling him to do and undertake nothing for which he may reap
shame and disgrace. Reason, which dares thus speak to him,
reaches only his lips, but not his heart; but love is enclosed
within his heart, bidding him and urging him to mount at once
upon the cart. So he jumps in, since love will have it so,
feeling no concern about the shame, since he is prompted by
love's commands. And my lord Gawain presses on in haste after
the cart, and when he finds the knight sitting in it, his
surprise is great. "Tell me," he shouted to the dwarf, "if thou
knowest anything of the Queen." And he replied: "If thou art so
much thy own enemy as is this knight who is sitting here, get in
with him, if it be thy pleasure, and I will drive thee along with
him." When my lord Gawain heard that, he considered it great
foolishness, and said that he would not get in, for it would be
dishonourable to exchange a horse for a cart: "Go on, and
wherever thy journey lies, I will follow after thee."

(Vv. 399-462.) Thereupon they start ahead, one mounted on his
horse, the other two riding in the cart, and thus they proceed in
company. Late in the afternoon they arrive at a town, which, you
must know, was very rich and beautiful. All three entered
through the gate; the people are greatly amazed to see the knight
borne upon the cart, and they take no pains to conceal their
feelings, but small and great and old and young shout taunts at
him in the streets, so that the knight hears many vile and
scornful words at his expense. (5) They all inquire: "To what
punishment is this knight to be consigned? Is he to be rayed, or
hanged, or drowned, or burned upon a fire of thorns? Tell us,
thou dwarf, who art driving him, in what crime was he caught? Is
he convicted of robbery? Is he a murderer, or a criminal?" And
to all this the dwarf made no response, vouchsafing to them no
reply. He conducts the knight to a lodging-place; and Gawain
follows the dwarf closely to a tower, which stood on the same
level over against the town. Beyond there stretched a meadow,
and the tower was built close by, up on a lofty eminence of rock,
whose face formed a sharp precipice. Following the horse and
cart, Gawain entered the tower. In the hall they met a damsel
elegantly attired, than whom there was none fairer in the land,
and with her they saw coming two fair and charming maidens. As
soon as they saw my lord Gawain, they received him joyously and
saluted him, and then asked news about the other knight: "Dwarf,
of what crime is this knight guilty, whom thou dost drive like a
lame man?" He would not answer her question, but he made the
knight get out of the cart, and then he withdrew, without their
knowing whither he went. Then my lord Gawain dismounts, and
valets come forward to relieve the two knights of their armour.
The damsel ordered two green mantles to be brought, which they
put on. When the hour for supper came, a sumptuous repast was
set. The damsel sat at table beside my lord Gawain. They would
not have changed their lodging-place to seek any other, for all
that evening the damsel showed them gear honour, and provided
them with fair and pleasant company.

(Vv. 463-538.) When they had sat up long enough, two long, high
beds were prepared in the middle of the hall; and there was
another bed alongside, fairer and more splendid than the rest;
for, as the story testifies, it possessed all the excellence that
one could think of in a bed. When the time came to retire, the
damsel took both the guests to whom she had offered her
hospitality; she shows them the two fine, long, wide beds, and
says: "These two beds are set up here for the accommodation of
your bodies; but in that one yonder no one ever lay who did not
merit it: it was not set up to be used by you." The knight who
came riding on the cart replies at once: "Tell me, he says, "for
what cause this bed is inaccessible." Being thoroughly informed
of this, she answers unhesitatingly: "It is not your place to ask
or make such an inquiry. Any knight is disgraced in the land
after being in a cart, and it is not fitting that he should
concern himself with the matter upon which you have questioned
me; and most of all it is not right that he should lie upon the
bed, for he would soon pay dearly for his act. So rich a couch
has not been prepared for you, and you would pay dearly for ever
harbouring such a thought." He replies: "You will see about that
presently." .... "Am I to see it?" .... "Yes." .... "It will soon
appear." .... "By my head," the knight replies, "I know not who
is to pay the penalty. But whoever may object or disapprove, I
intend to lie upon this bed and repose there at my ease." Then
he at once disrobed in the bed, which was long and raised half an
ell above the other two, and was covered with a yellow cloth of
silk and a coverlet with gilded stars. The furs were not of
skinned vair but of sable; the covering he had on him would have
been fitting for a king. The mattress was not made of straw or
rushes or of old mats. At midnight there descended from the
rafters suddenly a lance, as with the intention of pinning the
knight through the flanks to the coverlet and the white sheets
where he lay. (6) To the lance there was attached a pennon all
ablaze. The coverlet, the bedclothes, and the bed itself all
caught fire at once. And the tip of the lance passed so close to
the knight's side that it cut the skin a little, without
seriously wounding him. Then the knight got up, put out the fire
and, taking the lance, swung it in the middle of the hall, all
this without leaving his bed; rather did he lie down again and
slept as securely as at first.

(Vv. 539-982.) In the morning, at daybreak, the damsel of the
tower had Mass celebrated on their account, and had them rise
and dress. When Mass had been celebrated for them, the knight
who had ridden in the cart sat down pensively at a window, which
looked out upon the meadow, and he gazed upon the fields below.
The damsel came to another window close by, and there my lord
Gawain conversed with her privately for a while about something,
I know not what. I do not know what words were uttered, but
while they were leaning on the window-sill they saw carried along
the river through the fields a bier, upon which there lay a
knight, (7) and alongside three damsels walked, mourning
bitterly. Behind the bier they saw a crowd approaching, with a
tall knight in front, leading a fair lady by the horse's rein.
The knight at the window knew that it was the Queen. He
continued to gaze at her attentively and with delight as long as
she was visible. And when he could no longer see her, he was
minded to throw himself out and break his body down below. And
he would have let himself fall out had not my lord Gawain seen
him, and drawn him back, saying: "I beg you, sire, be quiet now.
For God's sake, never think again of committing such a mad deed.
It is wrong for you to despise your life." "He is perfectly
right," the damsel says; "for will not the news of his disgrace
be known everywhere? Since he has been upon the cart, he has
good reason to wish to die, for he would be better dead than
alive. His life henceforth is sure to be one of shame, vexation,
and unhappiness." Then the knights asked for their armour, and
armed themselves, the damsel treating them courteously, with
distinction and generosity; for when she had joked with the
knight and ridiculed him enough, she presented him with a horse
and lance as a token of her goodwill. The knights then
courteously and politely took leave of the damsel, first saluting
her, and then going off in the direction taken by the crowd they
had seen. Thus they rode out from the town without addressing
them. They proceeded quickly in the direction they had seen
taken by the Queen, but they did not overtake the procession,
which had advanced rapidly. After leaving the fields, the
knights enter an enclosed place, and find a beaten road. They
advanced through the woods until it might be six o'clock, (8) and
then at a crossroads they met a damsel, whom they both saluted,
each asking and requesting her to tell them, if she knows,
whither the Queen has been taken. Replying intelligently, she
said to them: "If you would pledge me your word, I could set you
on the right road and path, and I would tell you the name of the
country and of the knight who is conducting her; but whoever
would essay to enter that country must endure sore trials, for
before he could reach there he must suffer much." Then my lord
Gawain replies: "Damsel, so help me God, I promise to place all
my strength at your disposal and service, whenever you please, if
you will tell me now the truth." And he who had been on the cart
did not say that he would pledge her all his strength; but he
proclaims, like one whom love makes rich, powerful and bold for
any enterprise, that at once and without hesitation he will
promise her anything she desires, and he puts himself altogether
at her disposal. "Then I will tell you the truth," says she.
Then the damsel relates to them the following story: "In truth,
my lords, Meleagant, a tall and powerful knight, son of the King
of Gorre, has taken her off into the kingdom whence no foreigner
returns, but where he must perforce remain in servitude and
banishment." Then they ask her: "Damsel, where is this country?
Where can we find the way thither?" She replies: "That you shall
quickly learn; but you may be sure that you will meet with many
obstacles and difficult passages, for it is not easy to enter
there except with the permission of the king, whose name is
Bademagu; however, it is possible to enter by two very perilous
paths and by two very difficult passage-ways. One is called the
water-bridge, because the bridge is under water, and there is the
same amount of water beneath it as above it, so that the bridge
is exactly in the middle; and it is only a foot and a half in
width and in thickness. This choice is certainly to be avoided.
and yet it is the less dangerous of the two. In addition there
are a number of other obstacles of which I will say nothing. The
other bridge is still more impracticable and much more perilous,
never having been crossed by man. It is just like a sharp sword,
and therefore all the people call it `the sword-bridge'. Now I
have told you all the truth I know." But they ask of her once
again: "Damsel, deign to show us these two passages." To which
the damsel makes reply: "This road here is the most direct to the
water-bridge, and that one yonder leads straight to the sword-
bridge." Then the knight, who had been on the cart, says: "Sire,
I am ready to share with you without prejudice: take one of these
two routes, and leave the other one to me; take whichever you
prefer." "In truth," my lord Gawain replies, "both of them are
hard and dangerous: I am not skilled in making such a choice, and
hardly know which of them to take; but it is not right for me to
hesitate when you have left the choice to me: I will choose the
water-bridge." The other answers: "Then I must go
uncomplainingly to the sword-bridge, which I agree to do."
Thereupon, they all three part, each one commending the others
very courteously to God. And when she sees them departing, she
says: "Each one of you owes me a favour of my choosing, whenever
I may choose to ask it. Take care not to forget that." "We
shall surely not forget it, sweet friend," both the knights call
out. Then each one goes his own way, and he of the cart is
occupied with deep reflections, like one who has no strength or
defence against love which holds him in its sway. His thoughts
are such that he totally forgets himself, and he knows not
whether he is alive or dead, forgetting even his own name, not
knowing whether he is armed or not, or whither he is going or
whence he came. Only one creature he has in mind, and for her
his thought is so occupied that he neither sees nor hears aught
else. (9) And his horse bears him along rapidly, following no
crooked road, but the best and the most direct; and thus
proceeding unguided, he brings him into an open plain. In this
plain there was a ford, on the other side of which a knight stood
armed, who guarded it, and in his company there was a damsel who
had come on a palfrey. By this time the afternoon was well
advanced, and yet the knight, unchanged and unwearied, pursued
his thoughts. The horse, being very thirsty, sees clearly the
ford, and as soon as he sees it, hastens toward it. Then he on
the other side cries out: "Knight, I am guarding the ford, and
forbid you to cross." He neither gives him heed, nor hears his
words, being still deep in thought. In the meantime, his horse
advanced rapidly toward the water. The knight calls out to him
that he will do wisely to keep at a distance from the ford, for
there is no passage that way; and he swears by the heart within
his breast that he will smite him if he enters the water. But
his threats are not heard, and he calls out to him a third time:
"Knight, do not enter the ford against my will and prohibition;
for, by my head, I shall strike you as soon as I see you in the
ford." But he is so deep in thought that he does not hear him.
And the horse, quickly leaving the bank, leaps into the ford and
greedily begins to drink. And the knight says he shall pay for
this, that his shield and the hauberk he wears upon his back
shall afford him no protection. First, he puts his horse at a
gallop, and from a gallop he urges him to a run, and he strikes
the knight so hard that he knocks him down flat in the ford which
he had forbidden him to cross. His lance flew from his hand and
the shield from his neck. When he feels the water, he shivers,
and though stunned, he jumps to his feet, like one aroused from
sleep, listening and looking about him with astonishment, to see
who it can be who has struck him. Then face to face with the
other knight, he said: "Vassal, tell me why you have struck me,
when I was not aware of your presence, and when I had done you no
harm." "Upon my word, you had wronged me," the other says: "did
you not treat me disdainfully when I forbade you three times to
cross the ford, shouting at you as loudly as I could? You surely
heard me challenge you at least two or three times, and you
entered in spite of me, though I told you I should strike you as
soon as I saw you in the ford." Then the knight replies to him:
"Whoever heard you or saw you, let him be damned, so far as I am
concerned. I was probably deep in thought when you forbade me to
cross the ford. But be assured that I would make you reset it,
if I could just lay one of my hands on your bridle." And the
other replies: "Why, what of that? If you dare, you may seize my
bridle here and now. I do not esteem your proud threats so much
as a handful of ashes." And he replies: "That suits me
perfectly. However the affair may turn out, I should like to lay
my hands on you." Then the other knight advances to the middle
of the ford, where the other lays his left hand upon his bridle,
and his right hand upon his leg, pulling, dragging, and pressing
him so roughly that he remonstrates, thinking that he would pull
his leg out of his body. Then he begs him to let go, saying:
"Knight, if it please thee to fight me on even terms, take thy
shield and horse and lance, and joust with me." He answers:
"That will I not do, upon my word; for I suppose thou wouldst run
away as soon as thou hadst escaped my grip." Hearing this, he
was much ashamed, and said: "Knight, mount thy horse, in
confidence for I will pledge thee loyally my word that I shall
not flinch or run away." Then once again he answers him: "First,
thou wilt have to swear to that, and I insist upon receiving thy
oath that thou wilt neither run away nor flinch, nor touch me,
nor come near me until thou shalt see me on my horse; I shall be
treating thee very generously, if, when thou art in my hands, I
let thee go." He can do nothing but give his oath; and when the
other hears him swear, he gathers up his shield and lance which
were floating in the ford and by this time had drifted well
down-stream; then he returns and takes his horse. After catching
and mounting him, he seizes the shield by the shoulder-straps and
lays his lance in rest. Then each spurs toward the other as fast
as their horses can carry them. And he who had to defend the
ford first attacks the other, striking him so hard that his lance
is completely splintered. The other strikes him in return so
that he throws him prostrate into the ford, and the water closes
over him. Having accomplished that, he draws back and dismounts,
thinking he could drive and chase away a hundred such. While he
draws from the scabbard his sword of steel, the other jumps up
and draws his excellent flashing blade. Then they clash again,
advancing and covering themselves with the shields which gleam
with gold. Ceaselessly and without repose they wield their
swords; they have the courage to deal so many blows that the
battle finally is so protracted that the Knight of the Cart is
greatly ashamed in his heart, thinking that he is making a sorry
start in the way he has undertaken, when he has spent so much
time in defeating a single knight. If he had met yesterday a
hundred such, he does not think or believe that they could have
withstood him; so now he is much grieved and wroth to be in such
an exhausted state that he is missing his strokes and losing
time. Then he runs at him and presses him so hard that the other
knight gives way and flees. However reluctant he may be, he
leaves the ford and crossing free. But the other follows him in
pursuit until he falls forward upon his hands; then he of the
cart runs up to him, swearing by all he sees that he shall rue
the day when he upset him in the ford and disturbed his revery.
The damsel, whom the knight had with him, upon hearing the
threats, is in great fear, and begs him for her sake to forbear
from killing him; but he tells her that he must do so, and can
show him no mercy for her sake, in view of the shameful wrong
that he has done him. Then, with sword drawn, he approaches the
knight who cries in sore dismay: "For God's sake and for my own,
show me the mercy I ask of you." And he replies: "As God may
save me, no one ever sinned so against me that I would not show
him mercy once, for God's sake as is right, if he asked it of me
in God's name. And so on thee I will have mercy; for I ought not
to refuse thee when thou hast besought me. But first, thou shalt
give me thy word to constitute thyself my prisoner whenever I may
wish to summon thee." Though it was hard to do so, he promised
him. At once the damsel said: "O knight, since thou hast granted
the mercy he asked of thee, if ever thou hast broken any bonds,
for my sake now be merciful and release this prisoner from his
parole. Set him free at my request, upon condition that when the
time comes, I shall do my utmost to repay thee in any way that
thou shalt choose." Then he declares himself satisfied with the
promise she has made, and sets the knight at liberty. Then she
is ashamed and anxious, thinking that he will recognise her,
which she did not wish. But he goes away at once, the knight and
the damsel commending him to God, and taking leave of him. He
grants them leave to go, while he himself pursues his way, until
late in the afternoon he met a damsel coming, who was very fair
and charming, well attired and richly dressed. The damsel greets
him prudently and courteously, and he replies: "Damsel, God grant
you health and happiness." Then the damsel said to him: "Sire,
my house is prepared for you, if you will accept my hospitality,
but you shall find shelter there only on condition that you will
lie with me; upon these terms I propose and make the offer." Not
a few there are who would have thanked her five hundred times for
such a gift; but he is much displeased, and made a very different
answer: "Damsel, I thank you for the offer of your house, and
esteem it highly, but, if you please, I should be very sorry to
lie with you." "By my eyes," the damsel says, "then I retract my
offer." And he, since it is unavoidable, lets her have her way,
though his heart grieves to give consent. He feels only
reluctance now; but greater distress will be his when it is time
to go to bed. The damsel, too, who leads him away, will pass
through sorrow and heaviness. For it is possible that she will
love him so that she will not wish to part with him. As soon as
he had granted her wish and desire, she escorts him to a
fortified place, than which there was none fairer in Thessaly;
for it was entirely enclosed by a high wall and a deep moat, and
there was no man within except him whom she brought with her.

(Vv. 983-1042.) Here she had constructed for her residence a
quantity of handsome rooms, and a large and roomy hall. Riding
along a river bank, they approached their lodging-place, and a
drawbridge was lowered to allow them to pass. Crossing the
bridge, they entered in, and found the hall open with its roof of
tiles. Through the open door they pass, and see a table laid
with a broad white cloth, upon which the dishes were set, and the
candles burning in their stands, and the gilded silver drinking-
cups, and two pots of wine, one red and one white. Standing
beside the table, at the end of a bench, they found two basins of
warm water in which to wash their hands, with a richly
embroidered towel, all white and clean, with which to dry their
hands. No valets, servants, or squires were to be found or seen.
The knight, removing his shield from about his neck, hangs it
upon a hook, and, taking his lance, lays it above upon a rack.
Then he dismounts from his horse, as does the damsel from hers.
The knight, for his part, was pleased that she did not care to
wait for him to help her to dismount. Having dismounted, she
runs directly to a room and brings him a short mantle of scarlet
cloth which she puts on him. The hall was by no means dark; for
beside the light from the stars, there were many large twisted
candles lighted there, so that the illumination was very bright.
When she had thrown the mantle about his shoulders, she said to
him: "Friend, here is the water and the towel; there is no one to
present or offer it to you except me whom you see. Wash your
hands, and then sit down, when you feel like doing so. The hour
and the meal, as you can see, demand that you should do so." He
washes, and then gladly and readily takes his seat, and she sits
down beside him, and they eat and drink together, until the time
comes to leave the table.

(Vv. 1043-1206.) When they had risen from the table, the damsel
said to the knight: "Sire, if you do not object, go outside and
amuse yourself; but, if you please, do not stay after you think I
must be in bed. Feel no concern or embarrassment; for then you
may come to me at once, if you will keep the promise you have
made." And he replies: "I will keep my word, and will return
when I think the time has come." Then he went out, and stayed in
the courtyard until he thought it was time to return and keep the
promise he had made. Going back into the hall, he sees nothing
of her who would be his mistress; for she was not there. Not
finding or seeing her, he said: "Wherever she may be, I shall
look for her until I find her." He makes no delay in his search,
being bound by the promise he had made her. Entering one of the
rooms, he hears a damsel cry aloud, and it was the very one with
whom he was about to lie. At the same time, he sees the door of
another room standing open, and stepping toward it, he sees right
before his eyes a knight who had thrown her down, and was holding
her naked and prostrate upon the bed. She, thinking that he had
come of course to help her, cried aloud: "Help, help, thou
knight, who art my guest. If thou dost not take this man away
from me, I shall find no one to do so; if thou dost not succour
me speedily, he will wrong me before thy eyes. Thou art the one
to lie with me, in accordance with thy promise; and shall this
man by force accomplish his wish before thy eyes? Gentle knight,
exert thyself, and make haste to bear me aid." He sees that the
other man held the damsel brutally uncovered to the waist, and he
is ashamed and angered to see him assault her so; yet it is not
jealousy he feels, nor will he be made a cuckold by him. At the
door there stood as guards two knights completely armed and with
swords drawn. Behind them there stood four men-at-arms, each
armed with an axe the sort with which you could split a cow down
the back as easily as a root of juniper or broom. The knight
hesitated at the door, and thought: "God, what can I do? I am
engaged in no less an affair than the quest of Queen Guinevere.
I ought not to have the heart of a hare, when for her sake I have
engaged in such a quest. If cowardice puts its heart in me, and
if I follow its dictates, I shall never attain what I seek. I am
disgraced, if I stand here; indeed, I am ashamed even to have
thought of holding back. My heart is very sad and oppressed: now
I am so ashamed and distressed that I would gladly die for having
hesitated here so long. I say it not in pride: but may God have
mercy on me if I do not prefer to die honourably rather than live
a life of shame! If my path were unobstructed, and if these men
gave me leave to pass through without restraint, what honour
would I gain? Truly, in that case the greatest coward alive
would pass through; and all the while I hear this poor creature
calling for help constantly, and reminding me of my promise, and
reproaching me with bitter taunts." Then he steps to the door,
thrusting in his head and shoulders; glancing up, he sees two
swords descending. He draws back, and the knights could not
check their strokes: they had wielded them with such force that
the swords struck the floor, and both were broken in pieces.
When he sees that the swords are broken, he pays less attention
to the axes, fearing and dreading them much less. Rushing in
among them, he strikes first one guard in the side and then
another. The two who are nearest him he jostles and thrusts
aside, throwing them both down flat; the third missed his stroke
at him, but the fourth, who attacked him, strikes him so that he
cuts his mantle and shirt, and slices the white flesh on his
shoulder so that the blood trickles down from the wound. But he,
without delay, and without complaining of his wound, presses on
more rapidly, until he strikes between the temples him who was
assaulting his hostess. Before he departs, he will try to keep
his pledge to her. He makes him stand up reluctantly.
Meanwhile, he who had missed striking him comes at him as fast as
he can and, raising his arm again, expects to split his head to
the teeth with the axe. But the other, alert to defend himself,
thrusts the knight toward him in such a way that he receives the
axe just where the shoulder joins the neck, so that they are
cleaved apart. Then the knight seizes the axe, wresting it
quickly from him who holds it; then he lets go the knight whom he
still held, and looks to his own defence; for the knights from
the door, and the three men with axes are all attacking him
fiercely. So he leaped quickly between the bed and the wall, and
called to them: "Come on now, all of you. If there were thirty-
seven of you, you would have all the fight you wish, with me so
favourably placed; I shall never be overcome by you." And the
damsel watching him, exclaimed: "By my eyes, you need have no
thought of that henceforth where I am." Then at once she
dismisses the knights and the men-at-arms, who retire from there
at once, without delay or objection. And the damsel continues:
"Sire you have well defended me against the men of my household.
Come now, and I'll lead you on." Hand in hand they enter the
hall, but he was not at all pleased, and would have willingly
dispensed with her.

(Vv. 1207-1292.) In the midst of the hall a bed had been set up,
the sheets of which were by no means soiled, but were white and
wide and well spread out. The bed was not of shredded straw or
of coarse spreads. But a covering of two silk cloths had been
laid upon the couch. The damsel lay down first, but without
removing her chemise. He had great trouble in removing his hose
and in untying the knots. He sweated with the trouble of it all;
yet, in the midst of all the trouble, his promise impels and
drives him on. Is this then an actual force? Yes, virtually so;
for he feels that he is in duty bound to take his place by the
damsel's side. It is his promise that urges him and dictates his
act. So he lies down at once, but like her, he does not remove
his shirt. He takes good care not to touch her; and when he is
in bed, he turns away from her as far as possible, and speaks not
a word to her, like a monk to whom speech is forbidden. Not once
does he look at her, nor show her any courtesy. Why not?
Because his heart does not go out to her. She was certainly very
fair and winsome, but not every one is pleased and touched by
what is fair and winsome. The knight has only one heart, and
this one is really no longer his, but has been entrusted to some
one else, so that he cannot bestow it elsewhere. Love, which
holds all hearts beneath its sway, requires it to be lodged in a
single place. All hearts? No, only those which it esteems. And
he whom love deigns to control ought to prize himself the more.
Love prized his heart so highly that it constrained it in a
special manner, and made him so proud of this distinction that I
am not inclined to find fault with him, if he lets alone what
love forbids, and remains fixed where it desires. The maiden
clearly sees and knows that he dislikes her company and would
gladly dispense with it, and that, having no desire to win her
love, he would not attempt to woo her. So she said: "My lord, if
you will not feel hurt, I will leave and return to bed in my own
room, and you will be more comfortable. I do not believe that
you are pleased with my company and society. Do not esteem me
less if I tell you what I think. Now take your rest all night,
for you have so well kept your promise that I have no right to
make further request of you. So I commend you to God; and shall
go away." Thereupon she arises: the knight does not object, but
rather gladly lets her go, like one who is the devoted lover of
some one else; the damsel clearly perceived this, and went to her
room, where she undressed completely and retired, saying to
herself: "Of all the knights I have ever known, I never knew a
single knight whom I would value the third part of an angevin in
comparison with this one. As I understand the case, he has on
hand a more perilous and grave affair than any ever undertaken by
a knight; and may God grant that he succeed in it." Then she
fell asleep, and remained in bed until the next day's dawn

(Vv. 1293-1368.) At daybreak she awakes and gets up. The knight
awakes too, dressing, and putting on his arms, without waiting
for any help. Then the damsel comes and sees that he is already
dressed. Upon seeing him, she says: "May this day be a happy one
for you." "And may it be the same to you, damsel," the knight
replies, adding that he is waiting anxiously for some one to
bring out his horse. The maiden has some one fetch the horse,
and says: "Sire, I should like to accompany you for some distance
along the road, if you would agree to escort and conduct me
according to the customs and practices which were observed before
we were made captive in the kingdom of Logres." In those days
the customs and privileges were such that, if a knight found a
damsel or lorn maid alone, and if he cared for his fair name, he
would no more treat her with dishonour than he would cut his own
throat. And if he assaulted her, he would be disgraced for ever
in every court. But if, while she was under his escort, she
should be won at arms by another who engaged him in battle, then
this other knight might do with her what he pleased without
receiving shame or blame. This is why the damsel said she would
go with him, if he had the courage and willingness to safe guard
her in his company, so that no one should do her any harm. And
he says to her: "No one shall harm you, I promise you, unless he
harm me first." "Then," she says, "I will go with you." She
orders her palfrey to be saddled, and her command is obeyed at
once. Her palfrey was brought together with the knight's horse.
Without the aid of any squire, they both mount, and rapidly ride
away. She talks to him, but not caring for her words, he pays no
attention to what she says. He likes to think, but dislikes to
talk. Love very often inflicts afresh the wound it has given
him. Yet, he applied no poultice to the wound to cure it and
make it comfortable, having no intention or desire to secure a
poultice or to seek a physician, unless the wound becomes more
painful. Yet, there is one whose remedy he would gladly seek
.... (10) They follow the roads and paths in the right direction
until they come to a spring, situated in the middle of a field,
and bordered by a stone basin. Some one had forgotten upon the
stone a comb of gilded ivory. Never since ancient times has wise
man or fool seen such a comb. In its teeth there was almost a
handful of hair belonging to her who had used the comb.

(Vv. 1369-1552.) When the damsel notices the spring, and sees
the stone, she does not wish her companion to see it; so she
turns off in another direction. And he, agreeably occupied with
his own thoughts, does not at once remark that she is leading him
aside; but when at last he notices it, he is afraid of being
beguiled, thinking that she is yielding and is going out of the
way in order to avoid some danger. "See here, damsel," he cries,
"you are not going right; come this way! No one, I think, ever
went straight who left this road." "Sire, this is a better way
for us," the damsel says, "I am sure of it." Then he replies to
her: "I don't know, damsel, what you think; but you can plainly
see that the beaten path lies this way; and since I have started
to follow it, I shall not turn aside. So come now, if you will,
for I shall continue along this way." Then they go forward until
they come near the stone basin and see the comb. The knight
says: "I surely never remember to have seen so beautiful a comb
as this." "Let me have it," the damsel says. "Willingly,
damsel," he replies. Then he stoops over and picks it up. While
holding it, he looks at it steadfastly, gazing at the hair until
the damsel begins to laugh. When he sees her doing so, he begs
her to tell him why she laughs. And she says: "Never mind, for I
will never tell you." "Why not?" he asks. "Because I don't wish
to do so." And when he hears that, he implores her like one who
holds that lovers ought to keep faith mutually: "Damsel, if you
love anything passionately, by that I implore and conjure and beg
you not to conceal from me the reason why you laugh." "Your
appeal is so strong," she says, "that I will tell you and keep
nothing back. I am sure, as I am of anything, that this comb
belonged to the Queen. And you may take my word that those are
strands of the Queen's hair which you see to be so fair and light
and radiant, and which are clinging in the teeth of the comb;
they surely never grew anywhere else." Then the knight replied:
"Upon my word, there are plenty of queens and kings; what queen
do you mean?" And she answered: "In truth, fair sire, it is of
King Arthur's wife I speak." When he hears that, he has not
strength to keep from bowing his head over his saddle-bow. And
when the damsel sees him thus, she is amazed and terrified,
thinking he is about to fall. Do not blame her for her fear, for
she thought him in a faint. He might as well have swooned, so
near was he to doing so; for in his heart he felt such grief that
for a long time he lost his colour and power of speech. And the
damsel dismounts, and runs as quickly as possible to support and
succour him; for she would not have wished for anything to see
him fall. When he saw her, he felt ashamed, and said: "Why do
you need to bear me aid?" You must not suppose that the damsel
told him why; for he would have been ashamed and distressed, and
it would have annoyed and troubled him, if she had confessed to
him the truth. So she took good care not to tell the truth, but
tactfully answered him: "Sire, I dismounted to get the comb; for
I was so anxious to hold it in my hand that I could not longer
wait." Willing that she should have the comb, he gives it to
her, first pulling out the hair so carefully that he tears none
of it. Never will the eye of man see anything receive such
honour as when he begins to adore these tresses. A hundred
thousand times he raises them to his eyes and mouth, to his
forehead and face: he manifests his joy in every way, considering
himself rich and happy now. He lays them in his bosom near his
heart, between the shirt and the flesh. He would not exchange
them for a cartload of emeralds and carbuncles, nor does he think
that any sore or illness can afflict him now; he holds in
contempt essence of pearl, treacle, and the cure for pleurisy;
(11) even for St. Martin and St. James he has no need; for he has
such confidence in this hair that he requires no other aid. But
what was this hair like? If I tell the truth about it, you will
think I am a mad teller of lies. When the mart is full at the
yearly fair of St. Denis, (12) and when the goods are most
abundantly displayed, even then the knight would not take all
this wealth, unless he had found these tresses too. And if you
wish to know the truth, gold a hundred thousand times refined,
and melted down as many times, would be darker than is night
compared with the brightest summer day we have had this year, if
one were to see the gold and set it beside this hair. But why
should I make a long story of it? The damsel mounts again with
the comb in her possession; while he revels and delights in the
tresses in his bosom. Leaving the plain, they come to a forest
and take a short cut through it until they come to a narrow
place, where they have to go in single file; for it would have
been impossible to ride two horses abreast. Just where the way
was narrowest, they see a knight approach. As soon as she saw
him, the damsel recognised him, and said: "Sir knight, do you see
him who yonder comes against us all armed and ready for a battle?
I know what his intention is: he thinks now that he cannot fail
to take me off defenceless with him. He loves me, but he is very
foolish to do so. In person, and by messenger, he has been long
wooing me. But my love is not within his reach, for I would not
love him under any consideration, so help me God! I would kill
myself rather than bestow my love on him. I do not doubt that he
is delighted now, and is as satisfied as if he had me already in
his power. But now I shall see what you can do, and I shall see
how brave you are, and it will become apparent whether your
escort can protect me. If you can protect me now, I shall not
fail to proclaim that you are brave and very worthy." And he
answered her: "Go on, go on!" which was as much as to say: "I am
not concerned; there is no need of your being worried about what
you have said."

(Vv. 1553-1660.) While they were proceeding, talking thus, the
knight, who was alone, rode rapidly toward them on the run. He
was the more eager to make haste, because he felt more sure of
success; he felt that he was lucky now to see her whom he most
dearly loves. As soon as he approaches her, he greets her with
words that come from his heart: "Welcome to her, whence-soever
she comes, whom I most desire, but who has hitherto caused me
least joy and most distress!" It is not fitting that she should
be so stingy of her speech as not to return his greeting, at
least by word of mouth. The knight is greatly elated when the
damsel greets him; though she does not take the words seriously,
and the effort costs her nothing. Yet, if he had at this moment
been victor in a tournament, he would not have so highly esteemed
himself, nor thought he had won such honour and renown. Being
now more confident of his worth, he grasped the bridle rein, and
said: "Now I shall lead you away: I have to-day sailed well on my
course to have arrived at last at so good a port. Now my
troubles are at an end: after dangers, I have reached a haven;
after sorrow, I have attained happiness; after pain, I have
perfect health; now I have accomplished my desire, when I find
you in such case that I can without resistance lead you away with
me at once." Then she says: "You have no advantage; for I am
under this knight's escort." "Surely, the escort is not worth
much," he says, "and I am going to lead you off at once. This
knight would have time to eat a bushel of salt before he could
defend you from me; I think I could never meet a knight from whom
I should not win you. And since I find you here so opportunely,
though he too may do his best to prevent it, yet I will take you
before his very eyes, however disgruntled he may be." The other
is not angered by all the pride he hears expressed, but without
any impudence or boasting, he begins thus to challenge him for
her: "Sire, don't be in a hurry, and don't waste your words, but
speak a little reasonably. You shall not be deprived of as much
of her as rightly belongs to you. You must know, however, that
the damsel has come hither under my protection. Let her alone
now, for you have detained her long enough!" The other gives
them leave to burn him, if he does not take her away in spite of
him. Then the other says: "It would not be right for me to let
you take her away; I would sooner fight with you. But if we
should wish to fight, we could not possibly do it in this narrow
road. Let us go to some level place--a meadow or an open
field." And he replies that that will suit him perfectly:
"Certainly, I agree to that: you are quite right, this road is
too narrow. My horse is so much hampered here that I am afraid
he will crush his flank before I can turn him around." Then with
great difficulty he turns, and his horse escapes without any
wound or harm. Then he says: "To be sure, I am much chagrined
that we have not met in a favourable spot and in the presence of
other men, for I should have been glad to have them see which is
the better of us two. Come on now, let us begin our search: we
shall find in the vicinity some large, broad, and open space."
Then they proceed to a meadow, where there were maids, knights,
and damsels playing at divers games in this pleasant place. They
were not all engaged in idle sport, but were playing backgammon
and chess or dice, and were evidently agreeably employed. Most
were engaged in such games as these; but the others there were
engaged in sports, dancing, singing, tumbling, leaping, and
wrestling with each other.

(Vv. 1661-1840.) A knight somewhat advanced in years was on the
other side of the meadow, seared upon a sorrel Spanish steed.
His bridle and saddle were of gold, and his hair was turning
grey. One hand hung at his side with easy grace. The weather
being fine, he was in his shirt sleeves, with a short mantle of
scarlet cloth and fur slung over his shoulders, and thus he
watched the games and dances. On the other side of the field,
close by a path, there were twenty-three knights mounted on good
Irish steeds. As soon as the three new arrivals come into view,
they all cease their play and shout across the fields: "See,
yonder comes the knight who was driven in the cart! Let no one
continue his sport while he is in our midst. A curse upon him
who cares or deigns to play so long as he is here!" Meanwhile he
who loved the damsel and claimed her as his own, approached the
old knight, and said: "Sire, I have attained great happiness; let
all who will now hear me say that God has granted me the thing
that I have always most desired; His gift would not have been so
great had He crowned me as king, nor would I have been so
indebted to Him, nor would I have so profited; for what I have
gained is fair and good." "I know not yet if it be thine," the
knight replies to his son. But the latter answers him: "Don't
you know? Can't you see it, then? For God's sake, sire, have no
further doubt, when you see that I have her in my possession. In
this forest, whence I come, I met her as she was on her way. I
think God had fetched her there for me, and I have taken her for
my own." "I do not know whether this will be allowed by him whom
I see coming after thee; he looks as if he is coming to demand
her of thee." During this conversation the dancing had ceased
because of the knight whom they saw, nor were they gaily playing
any more because of the disgust and scorn they felt for him. But
the knight without delay came up quickly after the damsel, and
said: "Let the damsel alone, knight, for you have no right to
her! If you dare, I am willing at once to fight with you in her
defence." Then the old knight remarked: "Did I not know it?
Fair son, detain the damsel no longer, but let her go." He does
not relish this advice, and swears that he will not give her up:
"May God never grant me joy if I give her up to him! I have her,
and I shall hold on to her as something that is mine own. The
shoulder-strap and all the armlets of my shield shall first be
broken, and I shall have lost all confidence in my strength and
arms, my sword and lance, before I will surrender my mistress to
him." And his father says: "I shall not let thee fight for any
reason thou mayest urge. Thou art too confident of thy bravery.
So obey my command." But he in his pride replies: "What? Am I a
child to be terrified? Rather will I make my boast that there is
not within the sea-girt land any knight, wheresoever he may
dwell, so excellent that I would let him have her, and whom I
should not expect speedily to defeat." The father answers: "Fair
son, I do not doubt that thou dost really think so, for thou art
so confident of thy strength. But I do not wish to see thee
enter a contest with this knight." Then he replies: "I shall be
disgraced if I follow your advice. Curse me if I heed your
counsel and turn recreant because of you, and do not do my utmost
in the fight. It is true that a man fares ill among his
relatives: I could drive a better bargain somewhere else, for you
are trying to take me in. I am sure that where I am not known, I
could act with better grace. No one, who did not know me, would
try to thwart my will; whereas you are annoying and tormenting
me. I am vexed by your finding fault with me. You know well
enough that when any one is blamed, he breaks out still more
passionately. But may God never give me joy if I renounce my
purpose because of you; rather will I fight in spite of you!"
"By the faith I bear the Apostle St. Peter," his father says,
"now I see that my request is of no avail. I waste my time in
rebuking thee; but I shall soon devise such means as shall compel
thee against thy will to obey my commands and submit to them."
Straightway summoning all the knights to approach, he bids them
lay hands upon his son whom he cannot correct, saying: "I will
have him bound rather than let him fight. You here are all my
men, and you owe me your devotion and service: by all the fiefs
you hold from me, I hold you responsible, and I add my prayer.
It seems to me that he must be mad, and that he shows excessive
pride, when he refuses to respect my will." Then they promise to
take care of him, and say that never, while he is in their
charge, shall he wish to fight, but that he must renounce the
damsel in spite of himself. Then they all join and seize him by
the arms and neck. "Dost thou not think thyself foolish now?"
his father asks; "confess the truth: thou hast not the strength
or power to fight or joust, however distasteful and hard it may
be for thee to admit it. Thou wilt be wise to consent to my will
and pleasure. Dost thou know what my intention is? In order
somewhat to mitigate thy disappointment, I am willing to join
thee, if thou wilt, in following the knight to-day and to-morrow,
through wood and plain, each one mounted on his horse. Perhaps
we shall soon find him to be of such a character and bearing that
I might let thee have thy way and fight with him." To this
proposal the other must perforce consent. Like the man who has
no alternative, he says that he will give in, provided they both
shall follow him. And when the people in the field see how this
adventure has turned out, they all exclaim: "Did you see? He who
was mounted on the cart has gained such honour here that he is
leading away the mistress of the son of my lord, and he himself
is allowing it. We may well suppose that he finds in him some
merit, when he lets him take her off. Now cursed a hundred times
be he who ceases longer his sport on his account! Come, let us
go back to our games again." Then they resume their games and

(Vv. 1841-1966.) Thereupon the knight turns away, without longer
remaining in the field, and the damsel accompanies him. They
leave in haste, while the father and his son ride after them
through the mown fields until toward three o'clock, when in a
very pleasant spot they come upon a church; beside the chancel
there was a cemetery enclosed by a wall. The knight was both
courteous and wise to enter the church on foot and make his
prayer to God, while the damsel held his horse for him until he
returned. When he had made his prayer, and while he was coming
back, a very old monk suddenly presented himself; whereupon the
knight politely requests him to tell him what this place is; for
he does not know. And he tells him it is a cemetery. And the
other says: "Take me in, so help you God!" "Gladly, sire," and
he takes him in. Following the monk's lead, the knight beholds
the most beautiful tombs that one could find as far as Dombes
(13) or Pampelune; and on each tomb there were letters cut,
telling the names of those who were destined to be buried there.
And he began in order to read the names, and came upon some which
said: "Here Gawain is to lie, here Louis, and here Yvain." After
these three, he read the names of many others among the most
famed and cherished knights of this or any other land. Among the
others, he finds one of marble, which appears to be new, and is
more rich and handsome than all the rest. Calling the monk, the
knight inquired: "Of what use are these tombs here?" And the
monk replied: "You have already read the inscriptions; if you
have understood, you must know what they say, and what is the
meaning of the tombs." "Now tell me, what is this large one
for?" And the hermit answered: "I will tell you. That is a very
large sarcophagus, larger than any that ever was made; one so
rich and well-carved was never seen. It is magnificent without,
and still more so within. But you need not be concerned with
that, for it can never do you any good; you will never see inside
of it; for it would require seven strong men to raise the lid of
stone, if any one wished to open it. And you may be sure that to
raise it would require seven men stronger than you and I. There
is an inscription on it which says that any one who can lift this
stone of his own unaided strength will set free all the men and
women who are captives in the land, whence no slave or noble can
issue forth, unless he is a native of that land. No one has ever
come back from there, but they are detained in foreign prisons;
whereas they of the country go and come in and out as they
please." At once the knight goes to grasp the stone, and raises
it without the slightest trouble, more easily than ten men would
do who exerted all their strength. And the monk was amazed, and
nearly fell down at the sight of this marvellous thing; for he
thought he would never see the like again, and said: "Sire, I am
very anxious to know your name. Will you tell me what it is?"
"Not I," says the knight, "upon my word." "I am certainly sorry,
for that," he says; "but if you would tell me, you would do me a
great favour, and might benefit yourself. Who are you, and where
do you come from?" "I am a knight, as you may see, and I was
born in the kingdom of Logre. After so much information, I
should prefer to be excused. Now please tell me, for your part,
who is to lie within this tomb." "Sire, he who shall deliver all
those who are held captive in the kingdom whence none escapes."
And when he had told him all this, the knight commended him to
God and all His saints. And then, for the first time, he felt
free to return to the damsel. The old white-haired monk escorts
him out of the church, and they resume their way. While the
damsel is mounting, however, the hermit relates to her all that
the knight had done inside, and then he begged her to tell him.
if she knew, what his name was; but she assured him that she did
not know, but that there was one sure thing she could say,
namely, that there was not such a knight alive where the four
winds of heaven blow.

(Vv. 1967-2022.) Then the damsel takes leave of him, and rides
swiftly after the knight. Then those who were following them
come up and see the hermit standing alone before the church. The
old knight in his shirt sleeves said: "Sire, tell us, have you
seen a knight with a damsel in his company?" And he replies: "I
shall not be loath to tell you all I know, for they have just
passed on from here. The knight was inside yonder, and did a
very marvellous thing in raising the stone from the huge marble
tomb, quite unaided and without the least effort. He is bent
upon the rescue of the Queen, and doubtless he will rescue her,
as well as all the other people. You know well that this must be
so, for you have often read the inscription upon the stone. No
knight was ever born of man and woman, and no knight ever sat in
a saddle, who was the equal of this man." Then the father turns
to his son, and says: "Son, what dost thou think about him now?
Is he not a man to be respected who has performed such a feat?
Now thou knowest who was wrong, and whether it was thou or I. I
would not have thee fight with him for all the town of Amiens;
and yet thou didst struggle hard, before any one could dissuade
thee from thy purpose. Now we may as well go back, for we should
be very foolish to follow him any farther." And he replies: "I
agree to that. It would be useless to follow him. Since it is
your pleasure, let us return." They were very wise to retrace
their steps. And all the time the damsel rides close beside the
knight, wishing to compel him to give heed to her. She is
anxious to learn his name, and she begs and beseeches him again
and again to tell her, until in his annoyance he answers her:
"Have I not already told you that I belong in King Arthur's
realm? I swear by God and His goodness that you shall not learn
my name." Then she bids him give her leave to go, and she will
turn back, which request he gladly grants.

(Vv. 2023-2198.) Thereupon the damsel departs, and he rides on
alone until it grew very late. After vespers, about compline, as
he pursued his way, he saw a knight returning from the wood where
he had been hunting. With helmet unlaced, he rode along upon his
big grey hunter, to which he had tied the game which God had
permitted him to take. This gentleman came quickly to meet the
knight, offering him hospitality. "Sire," he says, "night will
soon be here. It is time for you to be reasonable and seek a
place to spend the night. I have a house of mine near at hand,
whither I shall take you. No one ever lodged you better than I
shall do, to the extent of my resources: I shall be very glad, if
you consent." "For my part, I gladly accept," he says. The
gentleman at once sends his son ahead, to prepare the house and
start the preparations for supper. The lad willingly executes
his command forthwith, and goes off at a rapid pace, while the
others, who are in no haste, follow the road leisurely until they
arrive at the house. The gentleman's wife was a very
accomplished lady; and he had five sons, whom he dearly loved,
three of them mere lads, and two already knights; and he had two
fair and charming daughters, who were still unmarried. They were
not natives of the land, but were there in durance, having been
long kept there as prisoners away from their native land of
Logres. When the gentleman led the knight into his yard, the
lady with her sons and daughters jumped up and ran to meet them,
vying in their efforts to do him honour, as they greeted him and
helped him to dismount. Neither the sisters nor the five
brothers paid much attention to their father, for they knew well
enough that he would have it so. They honoured the knight and
welcomed him; and when they had relieved him of his armour, one
of his host's two daughters threw her own mantle about him,
taking it from her own shoulders and throwing it about his neck.
I do not need to tell how well he was served at supper; but when
the meal was finished, they felt no further hesitation in
speaking of various matters. First, the host began to ask him
who he was, and from what land, but he did not inquire about his
name. The knight promptly answered him: "I am from the kingdom
of Logres, and have never been in this land before." And when
the gentleman heard that, he was greatly amazed, as were his wife
and children too, and each one of them was sore distressed. Then
they began to say to him: "Woe that you have come here, fair
sire, for only trouble will come of it! For, like us, you will
be reduced to servitude and exile." "Where do you come from,
then?" he asked. "Sire, we belong in your country. Many men
from your country are held in servitude in this land. Cursed be
the custom, together with those who keep it up! No stranger
comes here who is not compelled to stay here in the land where he
is detained. For whoever wishes may come in, but once in, he has
to stay. About your own fate, you may be at rest, you will
doubtless never escape from here." He replies: "Indeed, I shall
do so, if possible." To this the gentleman replies: "How? Do
you think you can escape?" "Yes, indeed, if it be God's will;
and I shall do all within my power." "In that case, doubtless
all the rest would be set free; for, as soon as one succeeds in
fairly escaping from this durance, then all the rest may go forth
unchallenged." Then the gentleman recalled that he had been told
and informed that a knight of great excellence was making his way
into the country to seek for the Queen, who was held by the
king's son, Meleagant; and he said to himself: "Upon my word, I
believe it is he, and I'll tell him so." So he said to him:
"Sire, do not conceal from me your business, if I promise to give
you the best advice I know. I too shall profit by any success
you may attain. Reveal to me the truth about your errand, that
it may be to your advantage as well as mine. I am persuaded that
you have come in search of the Queen into this land and among
these heathen people, who are worse than the Saracens." And the
knight replies: "For no other purpose have I come. I know not
where my lady is confined, but I am striving hard to rescue her,
and am in dire need of advice. Give me any counsel you can."
And he says: "Sire, you have undertaken a very grievous task.
The road you are travelling will lead you straight to the sword-
bridge. (14) You surely need advice. If you would heed my
counsel, you would proceed to the sword-bridge by a surer way,
and I would have you escorted thither." Then he, whose mind is
fixed upon the most direct way, asks him: "Is the road of which
you speak as direct as the other way?" "No, it is not," he says;
"it is longer, but more sure." Then he says: "I have no use for
it; tell me about this road I am following!" "I am ready to do
so," he replies; "but I am sure you will not fare well if you
take any other than the road I recommend. To-morrow you will
reach a place where you will have trouble: it is called `the
stony passage'. Shall I tell you how bad a place it is to pass?
Only one horse can go through at a time; even two men could not
pass abreast, and the passage is well guarded and defended. You
will meet with resistance as soon as you arrive. You will
sustain many a blow of sword and lance, and will have to return
full measure before you succeed in passing through." And when he
had completed the account, one of the gentleman's sons, who was a
knight, stepped forward, saying: "Sire, if you do not object, I
will go with this gentleman." Then one of the lads jumps up, and
says: "I too will go." And the father gladly gives them both
consent. Now the knight will not have to go alone, and he
expresses his gratitude, being much pleased with the company.

(Vv. 2199-2266.) Then the conversation ceases, and they take the
knight to bed, where he was glad to fall asleep. As soon as
daylight was visible he got up, and those who were to accompany
him got up too. The two knights donned their armour and took
their leave, while the young fellow started on ahead. Together
they pursued their way until they came at the hour of prime to
"the stony passage." In the middle of it they found a wooden
tower, where there was always a man on guard. Before they drew
near, he who was on the tower saw them and cried twice aloud:
"Woe to this man who comes!" And then behold! A knight issued
from the tower, mounted and armed with fresh armour, and escorted
on either side by servants carrying sharp axes. Then, when the
other draws near the passage, he who defends it begins to heap
him with abuse about the cart, saying: "Vassal, thou art bold and
foolish, indeed, to have entered this country. No man ought ever
to come here who had ridden upon a cart, and may God withhold
from him His blessing!" Then they spur toward each other at the
top of their horses' speed. And he who was to guard the passage-
way at once breaks his lance and lets the two pieces fall; the
other strikes him in the neck, reaching him beneath the shield,
and throws him over prostrate upon the stones. Then the servants
come forward with the axes, but they intentionally fail to strike
him, having no desire to harm or damage him; so he does not deign
to draw his sword, and quickly passes on with his companions.
One of them remarks to the other: "No one has ever seen so good a
knight, nor has he any equal. Is not this a marvellous thing,
that he has forced a passage here?" And the knight says to his
brother: "Fair brother, for God's sake, make haste to go and tell
our father of this adventure." But the lad asserts and swears
that he will not go with the message, and will never leave the
knight until he has dubbed and knighted him; let his brother go
with the message, if he is so much concerned.

(Vv. 2267-2450.) Then they go on together until about three
o'clock, when they come upon a man, who asks them who they are.
And they answer: "We are knights, busy about our own affairs."
Then the man says to the knight: "Sire, I should be glad to offer
hospitality to you and your companions here." This invitation he
delivers to him whom he takes to be the lord and master of the
others. And this one replies to him: "I could not seek shelter
for the night at such an hour as this; for it is not well to
tarry and seek one's ease when one has undertaken some great
task. And I have such business on hand that I shall not stop for
the night for some time yet." Then the man continues: "My house
is not near here, but is some distance ahead. It will be late
when you reach there, so you may proceed, assured that you will
find a place to lodge just when it suits you." "In that case,"
he says, "I will go thither." Thereupon the man starts ahead as
guide, and the knight follows along the path. And when they had
proceeded some distance, they met a squire who was coming along
at a gallop, mounted upon a nag that was as fat and round as an
apple. And the squire calls our to the man: "Sire, sire, make
haste! For the people of Logres have attacked in force the
inhabitants of this land, and war and strife have already broken
out; and they say that this country has been invaded by a knight
who has been in many battles, and that wherever he wishes to go,
no one, however reluctantly, is able to deny him passage. And
they further say that he will deliver those who are in this
country, and will subdue our people. Now take my advice and make
haste!" Then the man starts at a gallop, and the others are
greatly delighted at the words they have heard, for they are
eager to help their side. And the vavasor's son says: "Hear what
this squire says! Come and let us aid our people who are
fighting their enemies!" Meanwhile the man rides off, without
waiting for them, and makes his way rapidly toward a fortress
which stood upon a fortified hill; thither he hastens, till he
comes to the gate, while the others spur after him. The castle
was surrounded by a high wall and moat. As soon as they had got
inside, a gate was lowered upon their heels, so that they could
not get out again. Then they say: "Come on, come on! Let us not
stop here!" and they rapidly pursue the man until they reach
another gate which was not closed against them. But as soon as
the man had passed through, a portcullis dropped behind him.
Then the others were much dismayed to see themselves shut in, and
they think they must be bewitched. But he, of whom I have more
to tell, wore upon his finger a ring, whose stone was of such
virtue that any one who gazed at it was freed from the power of
enchantment. (15) Holding the ring before his eyes, he gazed at
it, and said: "Lady, lady, so help me God, now I have great need
of your succour!" (16) This lady was a fairy, who had given it
to him, and who had cared for him in his infancy. And he had
great confidence that, wherever he might be, she would aid and
succour him. But after appealing to her and gazing upon the
ring, he realises that there is no enchantment here, but that
they are actually shut in and confined. Then they come to the
barred door of a low and narrow postern gate. Drawing their
swords, they all strike it with such violence that they cut the
bar. As soon as they were outside the tower, they see that a
fierce strife was already begun down in the meadows, and that
there are at least a thousand knights engaged, beside the
low-bred infantry. While they were descending to the plain, the
wise and moderate son of the vavasor remarked: "Sire, before we
arrive upon the field, it would be wise for us, it seems to me,
to find out and learn on which side our people are. I do not
know where they are placed, but I will go and find out, if you
wish it so." "I wish you would do so," he replies, "go quickly,
and do not fail to come back again at once." He goes and returns
at once, saying: "It has turned out well for us, for I have
plainly seen that these are our troops on this side of the
field." Then the knight at once rode into the fight and jousted
with a knight who was approaching him, striking him in the eye
with such violence that he knocked him lifeless to the ground.
Then the lad dismounts, and taking the dead knight's horse and
arms, he arms himself with skill and cleverness. When he was
armed, he straightway mounts, taking the shield and the lance,
which was heavy, stiff, and decorated, and about his waist he
girt a sharp, bright, and flashing sword. Then he followed his
brother and lord into the fight. The latter demeaned himself
bravely in the melee for some time, breaking, splitting, and
crushing shields, helmets and hauberks. No wood or steel
protected the man whom he struck; he either wounded him or
knocked him lifeless from the horse. Unassisted, he did so well
that he discomfited all whom he met, while his companions did
their part as well. The people of Logres, not knowing him, are
amazed at what they see, and ask the vavasor's sons about the
stranger knight. This reply is made to them: "Gentlemen, this is
he who is to deliver us all from durance and misery, in which we
have so long been confined, and we ought to do him great honour
when, to set us free, he has passed through so many perils and is
ready to face many more. He has done much, and will do yet
more." Every one is overjoyed at hearing this welcome news. The
news travelled fast, and was noised about, until it was known by
all. Their strength and courage rise, so that they slay many of
those still alive, and apparently because of the example of a
single knight they work greater havoc than because of all the
rest combined. And if it had not been so near evening, all would
have gone away defeated; but night came on so dark that they had
to separate.

(Vv. 2451-2614.) When the battle was over, all the captives
pressed about the knight, grasping his rein on either side, and
thus addressing him: "Welcome, fair sire," and each one adds:
"Sire, for the name of God, do not fail to lodge with me!" What
one says they all repeat, for young and old alike insist that he
must lodge with them, saying: "You will be more comfortably
lodged with me than with any one else." Thus each one addresses
him to his face, and in the desire to capture him, each one drags
him from the rest, until they almost come to blows. Then he
tells them that they are very foolish and silly to struggle so.
"Cease this wrangling among yourselves, for it does no good to me
or you. Instead of quarrelling among ourselves, we ought rather
to lend one another aid. You must not dispute about the
privilege of lodging me, but rather consider how to lodge me in
such a place that it may be to your general advantage, and that I
may be advanced upon my way." Then each one exclaims at once:
"That is my house, or, No, it is mine," until the knight replies:
"Follow my advice and say nothing more; the wisest of you is
foolish to contend this way. You ought to be concerned to
further my affairs, and instead you are seeking to turn me aside.
If you had each individually done me all the honour and service
it is possible to do, and I had accepted your kindness, by all
the saints of Rome I swear that I could not be more obliged to
you than I am now for your good-will. So may God give me joy and
health, your good intentions please me as much as if each one of
you had already shown me great honour and kindness: so let the
will stand for the deed!" Thus he persuades and appeases them
all. Then they take him quickly along the road to a knight's
residence, where they seek to serve him: all rejoice to honour
and serve him throughout the evening until bedtime, for they hold
him very dear. Next morning, when the time came to separate,
each one offers and presents himself, with the desire to
accompany him; but it is not his will or pleasure that any one
shall go with him except the two whom he had brought with him.
Accompanied by them alone, he resumed his journey. That day they
rode from morn till evening without encountering any adventure.
When it was now very late, and while they were riding rapidly out
of a forest, they saw a house belonging to a knight, and seated
at the door they saw his wife, who had the bearing of a gentle
lady. As soon as she espied them coming, she rose to her feet to
meet them, and greeted them joyfully with a smile: "Welcome! I
wish you to accept my house; this is your lodging; pray dismount"
"Lady, since it is your will, we thank you, and will dismount; we
accept your hospitality for the night." When they had
dismounted, the lady had the horses taken by members of her well-
ordered household. She calls her sons and daughters who come at
once: the youths were courteous, handsome, and well-behaved, and
the daughters were fair. She bids the lads remove the saddles
and curry the horses well; no one refused to do this, but each
carried out her instructions willingly. When she ordered the
knights to be disarmed, her daughters step forward to perform
this service. They remove their armour, and hand them three
short mantles to put on. Then at once they take them into the
house which was very handsome. The master was not at home, being
out in the woods with two of his sons. But he presently
returned, and his household, which was well-ordered, ran to meet
him outside the door. Quickly they untie and unpack the game he
brings, and tell him the news: "Sire, sire, you do not know that
you have three knights for guests." "God be praised for that,"
he says. Then the knight and his two sons extend a glad welcome
to their guests. The rest of the household were not backward,
for even the least among them prepared to perform his special
task. While some run to prepare the meal, others light the
candles in profusion; still others get a towel and basins, and
offer water for the hands: they are not niggardly in all this.
When all had washed, they take their seats. Nothing that was
done there seemed to be any trouble or burdensome. But at the
first course there came a surprise in the form of a knight
outside the door. As he sat on his charger, all armed from head
to feet, he looked prouder than a bull, and a bull is a yew proud
beast. One leg was fixed in the stirrup, but the other he had
thrown over the mane of his horse's neck, to give himself a
careless and jaunty air. Behold him advancing thus, though no
one noticed him until he came forward with the words: "I wish to
know which is the man who is so foolish and proud a numskull that
he has come to this country and intends to cross the sword-
bridge. All his pains will come to naught, and his expedition is
in vain." Then he, who felt no fear at all, thus replies with
confidence: "I am he who intends to cross the bridge." "Thou?
Thou? How didst thou dare to think of such a thing? Before
undertaking such a course, thou oughtest to have thought of the
end that is in store for thee, and thou oughtest to have in mind
the memory of the cart on which thou didst ride. I know not
whether thou feelest shame for the ride thou hadst on it, but no
sensible man would have embarked on such an enterprise as this if


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