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How Sir Lancelot rode disguised

in Sir Kay's harness, and how he

smote down a knight.

From Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte d’Arthur

Published 1485



Now turn we unto Sir Lancelot that had ridden long in a great forest, and at the last he came into a low country full of fair rivers and meadows.


And afore him he saw a long bridge, and three pavilions stood thereon of silk and sandal of divers hue. And without the pavilions hung three white shields on truncheons of spears, and great long spears stood upright by the pavilions, and at every pavilion's door stood three fresh squires, and

so Sir Lancelot passed by them, and spake no word.


When he was past the three knights said that it was the proud Kay, he weeneth no knight so good as he, and the contrary is ofttime proved. By my faith, said one of the knights, his name was Sir Gaunter, I will ride after him and assay him for

all his pride, and ye may behold how that I speed.


So this knight, Sir Gaunter, armed him, and hung his shield upon his shoulder and mounted upon a great horse, and gat his spear in his hand, and galloped after Sir Lancelot. And when he came nigh him, he cried, Abide thou proud knight

Sir Kay, for thou shalt not pass quit. So Sir Lancelot turned him, and either fewtred their spears, and came together with all their mights, and Sir Gaunter's spear brake, but Sir Lancelot smote him down, horse and man.


And when Sir Gaunter was at the earth his brethren said each one to other, Yonder knight is not Sir Kay, for he is bigger than he. I dare lay my head, said Sir Gilmere, yonder knight hath slain Sir Kay and hath taken his horse and harness. Whether it be so or no, said Sir Raynold the third brother, let us now go mount upon our horses and rescue our brother Sir Gaunter upon pain of death. We all shall have work enough to match that knight, for ever me seemeth by his person it is Sir Lancelot, or Sir Tristam, or Sir Pelleas the good knight. Then anon they took their horses and overtook Sir Lancelot, and Sir Gilmere put forth his spear and ran to Sir Lancelot and Sir Lancelot smote him down that he lay in a swoon.


Sir knight, said Sir Raynold, thou art a strong man, and. as I suppose, thou hast slain my two brethren, for the which riseth my heart sore against thee; and if I might with my worship I would not have ado with thee, but needs I must take part as they do; and therefore knight, he said, keep thyself.


And so they hurtled together with all their mights, and all to-shivered both their spears. And then they drew their swords and lashed together eagerly.


Anon therewith arose Sir Gaunter, and came unto his brother Sir Gilmere, and bad him arise and help we our brother Sir Raynold, that yonder marvellously matcheth yonder good knight. Therewithal they lept on their horses, and hurtled unto Sir Lancelot. And when he saw them come, he smote a sore stroke unto Sir Raynold, that he fell off his horse to the ground, and then he struck to the other two brethren, and at two strokes he strake them down to the earth.


With that Sir Raynold began to start up with his head all bloody, and came straight unto Sir Lancelot. Now let be, said Sir Lancelot, I was not far from thee when thou wert made knight, Sir Raynold, and also I know thou art a good knight, and loth I were to slay thee. Gramercy, said Sir Raynold, as for your goodness; and I dare say as for me and my brethren, we will not be loth to yield us unto you, with that we knew your name; for well we know ye are not Sir Kay.


As for that be it as it may, for ye shall yield you

unto dame Guenever, and look that ye be with her on Whitsunday, and yield you unto her as

prisoners, and say that Sir Kay sent you unto her.


Then they swore it should be done. And so passed forth Sir Lancelot, and each one of the brethren helped each other as well as they might.




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