Sacred Texts  Sagas & Legends  England  Index  Previous  Next 

p. 280

Sir Percival & Sir Lamorack ride together
Click to enlarge

Sir Percival & Sir Lamorack ride together

p. 281

Chapter Second

How Sir Percival was made knight by King Arthur; how he rode forth with Sir Lamorack and how he left Sir Lamorack in quest of adventure upon his own account; likewise how a great knight taught him craft in arms.

SO after a considerable time they came to that meadow-land where Percival had found Sir Boindegardus.

But when they came to that place they perceived a very strange sight. For they beheld one clad all in armor of wattled
How the two knights find Percival in the meadow.
willow-twigs and that one dragged the body of an armed knight hither and thither upon the ground. So they two rode up to where that affair was toward, and when they had come nigh enough, Sir Launcelot said: "Ha, fair youth, thou art doing a very strange thing. What art thou about?"

To him Percival said: "Sir, I would get those plates of armor off this knight, and I know not how to do it!"

Then Sir Launcelot laughed, and he said: "Let be for a little while, and I will show thee how to get the plates of armor off." And he said: "How came this knight by his death."

Percival said: "Sir, this knight hath greatly insulted Queen Guinevere (that beautiful lady), and when I followed him thither with intent to take her quarrel upon me, he struck me with his spear. And when I took his spear away from him, and brake it across my knee, he drew his sword and would have slain me, only that I slew him instead."

Then Sir Launcelot was filled with amazement, and he said: "Is not that knight Sir Boindegardus?" And Percival said: "Ay." Then Sir Launcelot said: "Fair youth, know that thou hast slain one of the strongest and most terrible knights in all the world. In this thou hast done a great service unto King Arthur, so if thou wilt come with us to the court of King Arthur, he will doubtless reward thee very bountifully for what thou hast done."

Then Percival looked up into the faces of Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack and he perceived that they were very noble. So he smiled upon them

p. 282

and said: "Messires, I pray you tell me who you are and what is your degree." Then Sir Launcelot smiled in return and said: "I am called Sir Launcelot of the Lake, and this, my companion, is called Sir Lamorack of Gales."

Then Percival wist that he stood in the presence of his own brother, and he looked into the countenance of Sir Lamorack and marvelled how
Percival knoweth Sir Lamorack.
noble and exalted it was. And he felt a great passion of love for Sir Lamorack, and a great joy in that love. But he did not, tell Sir Lamorack who he was, for he had learned several things since he had come out into the world, and one was that he must not be too hasty in such things. So he said to himself: "I will not as yet tell my brother who I am, lest he shall be ashamed of me. But first I shall win me such credit that he shall not be ashamed of me, and then I will acknowledge to him who I am."

Then Sir Launcelot said: "I prithee, fair youth, tell me what is thy name since I have told thee ours, for I find that I have great love for thee so that I would fain know who thou art."

Then Percival said: "My name is Percival."

At that Sir Lamorack cried out: "I knew one whose name was Percival, and he was mine own brother. And if he be alive he must now be just such a youth as thou art."

Then Percival's heart yearned toward Sir Lamorack, so that he looked up and smiled with great love into his face; yet he would not acknowledge to Sir Lamorack who he was, but held his peace for that while.

Then Sir Launcelot said: "Now, fair youth, we will show you how to take the armor off of this dead knight, and after we have done that, we shall take you back to King Arthur, so that he may reward you for what you have done in the way that he may deem best."

So with that Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack dismounted from their horses, and they went to that dead knight and unlaced his armor and removed
The two knights arm Percival.
the armor from his body. And when they had done that they aided Percival to remove the armor of wattled osier twigs and they cased him in the armor of Sir Boindegardus; and thereafter they all three rode back to that pavilion where the King and Queen were holding court.

But when King Arthur heard that Sir Boindegardus was dead he was filled with great joy; and when he heard how it was that Percival had slain him, he was amazed beyond measure; and he said to Percival: "Surely God is with thee, fair youth, to help thee to perform such a worthy feat of arms as this that thou hast done, for no knight yet hath been able to perform that service." Then he said: "Tell me what it is that thou hast

p. 283

most desire to have, and if it is in my power to give it to thee thou shalt have it."

Then Percival kneeled down before King Arthur, and he said: "Lord, that which I most desire of all things else is to be made knight. So if it is in thy power to do so, I pray thee to make me a knight-royal with thine own hands."

Then King Arthur smiled upon Percival very kindly, and he said: "Percival, it shall be as thou dost desire, and to-morrow I will make thee a knight."

So that night Percival watched his armor in the chapel of a hermit of the forest, and the armor that he watched was the armor that had belonged to Sir Boindegardus (for Percival besought King Arthur that
King Arthur makes Percival a knight-royal.
he might wear that armor for his own because it was what he himself had won in battle). And when the next morning had come, Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack brought Percival before King Arthur, and King Arthur made him a knight.

After that Sir Percival besought King Arthur that he would give him leave to depart from court so that he might do some worthy deed of arms that might win him worship; and King Arthur gave him that leave he asked for.

Then Sir Percival went to where Sir Kay was sitting, and he said: "Messire, I have not forgot that blow you gave that fair damsel yesterday when she spake so kindly to me. As yet I am too young a knight
Sir Percival threatens Sir Kay.
to handle you; but by and by the time will come when I shall return and repay you that blow tenfold and twenty-fold what you gave!" And at these words Sir Kay was in no wise pleased, for he wist that Sir Percival would one day become a very strong and worthy knight.

Now all this while the heart of Sir Lamorack yearned very greatly toward Sir Percival, though Sir Lamorack knew not why that should be; so when Sir Percival had obtained permission to go errant, Sir Lamorack asked King Arthur for leave to ride forth so as to be with him; and King Arthur gave Sir Lamorack that leave.

Thus it befell that Sir Lamorack and Sir Percival rode forth together very lovingly and cheerfully. And as they rode upon their way Sir Lamorack told Sir Percival many things concerning the circumstances
Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack ride together.
of knighthood, and to all that he said Sir Percival gave great heed. But Sir Lamorack knew not that he was riding with his own brother or that it was his own brother to whom he was teaching the mysteries of chivalry, and Sir Percival told him nothing thereof, But ever in his heart Sir Percival said to himself: "If God will

p. 284

give me enough of His grace, I will some day do full credit unto thy teaching, O my brother!"

Now, after Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack had travelled a great way, they came at last out of that forest and to an open country where was a well-tilled land and a wide, smooth river flowing down a level plain.

And in the centre of that plain was a town of considerable size, and a very large castle with several tall towers and many roofs and chimneys that stood overlooking the town.

That time they came thitherward the day was declining toward its close, so that all the sky toward the westward shone, like, as it were, to a flame of gold--exceedingly beautiful. And the highway upon which they entered was very broad and smooth, like to a floor for smoothness. And there were all sorts of folk passing along that highway; some afoot and some ahorseback. Also there was a river path beside the river where the horses dragged deep-laden barges down to the town and thence again; and these barges were all painted in bright colors, and the horses were bedight with gay harness and hung with tinkling bells.

All these things Sir Percival beheld with wonder for he had never seen their like before; wherefore he cried out with amazement, saying: "Saints of Glory! How great and wonderful is the world!"

Then Sir Lamorack looked upon him and smiled with great loving-kindness; and he said: "Ha, Percival! This is so small a part of the world that it is but a patch upon it."

Unto this Sir Percival made reply: "Dear Messire, I am so glad that I have come forth into the world that I am hardly able to know whether I am in a vision or am awake."

So, after a considerable while, they came to that town with its castle, and these stood close beside the river--and the town and the castle were hight Cardennan. And the town was of great consideration, being very well famed for its dyed woollen fabrics.

So Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack entered the town. And when Sir Percival beheld all the people in the streets, coming and going upon their
Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack come to Cardennan.
businesses; and when he beheld all the gay colors and apparels of fine fabrics that the people wore; and when he beheld the many booths filled with rich wares of divers sorts, he wist not what to think for the wonder that possessed him; wherefore he cried out aloud, as with great passion: "What marvel do I behold! I knew not that a city could be so great as this."

And again Sir Lamorack smiled very kindly upon him and said: "Sayst thou so? Now I tell thee that when one compares this place with Camelot

p. 285

[paragraph continues] (which is the King's city) it is as a star compared to the full moon in her glory." And at that Sir Percival knew not what to think for wonder.

So they went up the street of the town until they came to the castle of Cardennan and there requested admission. And when the name and the estate of Sir Lamorack were declared, the porter opened the gate with great joy and they entered. Then, by and by, the lord and the lady of the castle came down from a carved wooden gallery and bade them welcome by word of mouth. And after that sundry attendants immediately appeared and assisted Sir Percival and Sir Lamorack to dismount and took their horses to the stable, and sundry other attendants conducted them to certain apartments where they were eased of their armor and bathed in baths of tepid water and given soft raiment for to wear. After that the lord and the lady entertained them with a great feast, where harpers and singers made music, and where certain actors acted a mystery before them.

So these two knights and the lord and the lady of the castle ate together and discoursed very pleasantly for a while; but, when the
How the two knights were welcomed by the lord and lady of the castle.
evening was pretty well gone, Sir Lamorack bade good-night, and he and Sir Percival were conducted to a certain very noble apartment where beds of down, spread with flame-colored cloth, had been prepared for their repose.

Thus ended that day which was the first day of the knighthood of Sir Percival of Gales.


Now though Sir Percival had travelled very contentedly with Sir Lamorack for all that while, yet he had determined in his own mind that, as soon as possible, he would leave Sir Lamorack and depart upon his own quest. For he said to himself: "Lo! I am a very green knight as yet, and haply my brother may grow weary of my company and cease to love me. So I will leave him ere he have the chance to tire of me, and I will seek knighthood for myself. After that, if God wills it that I shall win worthy knighthood, then my brother will be glad enough to acknowledge me as his father's son."

So when the next morning had come, Sir Percival arose very softly all in the dawning, and he put on his armor without disturbing Sir Lamorack. Then he stooped and looked into Sir Lamorack's face and beheld that his brother was still enfolded in a deep sleep as in a soft mantle. And as Sir Percival gazed upon Sir Lamorack thus asleep, he loved him with such ardor that he could hardly bear the strength of his love. But he said to himself: "Sleep on, my brother, whilst I go away and leave thee. But when I have earned me great glory, then will I return unto thee and will lay all that I

p. 286

have achieved at thy feet, so that thou shalt be very glad to acknowledge me." So saying to himself, he went away from that place very softly, and Sir Lamorack slept so deeply that he wist not that Sir Percival was gone.

Thereafter Sir Percival went to the courtyard of the castle and he bade
Sir Percival leaves Sir Lamorack.
certain attendants to prepare his horse for him, and they did so. And he bade certain others for to arm him, and they did so. Thereupon he mounted his horse and left that castle and rode away.

Now after Sir Percival had left Sir Lamorack still sleeping in the castle as aforetold, he journeyed upon his way, taking great pleasure in all things that he beheld. So he travelled all that morning, and the day was very bright and warm, so that by and by he was an-hungered and athirst. So after a while he came to a certain road that appeared to him to be good for his purpose, so he took that way in great hopes that some adventure would befall him, or else that he would find food and drink.

Then after a while he heard a bell ringing, and after he had followed that bell for some distance, he came to where was the dwelling-place of a hermit and where was a small chapel by the wayside. And Sir Percival beheld that the hermit, who was an old man with a long white beard, rang the bell of that chapel.

So Sir Percival thought that here he might find food and drink; and so he rode forward to where the hermit was ringing the bell. But when Sir
Sir Percival meets his fate at the forest chapel.
Percival came still more nigh he perceived that behind the chapel and to one side there was a very noble knight upon horseback; and he perceived that the knight was clad all in white armor and that his horse (which was white as milk and of very noble strength and proportions) was furnished altogether with furniture of white.

This knight, when he perceived Sir Percival, immediately rode up to meet him and saluted Sir Percival very courteously. And the knight said: "Sir, will you not joust a fall with me ere you break your fast? For this is a very fair and level field of green grass and well fitted for such a friendly trial at arms if you have the time for it."

Unto this Sir Percival said: "Messire, I will gladly try a fall with you, though I must tell you that I am a very young green knight, having been knighted only yesterday by King Arthur himself. But though I am unskilled in arms, yet it will pleasure me a great deal to accept so gentle and courteous a challenge as that which you give me."

So with that each knight turned his horse and each took such stand as

p. 287

appeared to him to be best. And when they were in all ways prepared, they drave their horses together with great speed, the one against
Sir Percival is overthrown by the white knight.
the other, meeting one another, shield against spear, in the very midst of the course. In that encounter (which was the first that he ever ran) Sir Percival bare himself very well and with great knightliness of endeavor; for he broke his spear upon the white knight into small pieces. But the spear of the white knight held so that Sir Percival was lifted out of his saddle and over the crupper of his horse, and fell upon the ground with great violence and a cloud of dust.

Then the white knight returned from his course and came up to where Sir Percival was. And he inquired of him very courteously: "Sir, art thou hurt?" Thereunto Sir Percival replied: "Nay, sir! I am not hurt, only somewhat shaken by my fall."

Then the white knight dismounted from his horse and came to where Sir Percival was. And he lifted up the umbril of his helmet, and Sir Percival perceived that that white knight was Sir Launcelot of the Lake.

And Sir Launcelot said: "Percival, I well knew who you were from the first, but I thought I would see of what mettle you are, and I have found that you are of very good mettle indeed. But you are to know that it is impossible for a young knight such as you, who knoweth naught of the use of knightly weapons, to have to do with a knight well-seasoned in arms as I am, and to have any hope of success in such an encounter. Wherefore you need to be taught the craft of using your weapons perfectly."

To this Sir Percival said: "Messire, tell me, how may I hope to acquire craft at arms such as may serve me in such a stead as this?"

Sir Launcelot said: "I myself will teach thee, imparting to thee such skill as I have at my command. Less than half a day's journey to the southward of this is my castle of Joyous Gard. Thither I was upon my way when I met thee here. Now thou shalt go with me unto Joyous Gard, and there thou shalt abide until thou art in all ways taught the use of arms so that thou mayst uphold that knighthood which I believe God hath endowed thee withal."

So after that Sir Launcelot and Sir Percival went to the dwelling-place of the hermit, and the hermit fed them with the best of that simple fare which he had at his command.

After that, they mounted horse again and rode away to Joyous Gard, and there Sir Percival abided for a year, training himself in
How Sir Percival dwell at Joyous Gard.
all wise so as to prepare himself to uphold that knighthood which in him became so famous. For, during that year Sir Launcelot was his teacher in the art of arms. Likewise he instructed him

p. 288

in all the civilities and the customs of chivalry, so it befell that ere Sir Percival came forth from Joyous Gard again he was well acquainted with all the ways in which he should comport himself at any time, whether in field or in court.

So when Sir Percival came forth again from Joyous Gard, there was no knight, unless it was Sir Launcelot himself, who could surpass him in skill at arms; nay, not even his own brother, Sir Lamorack; nor was there anybody, even if one were Sir Gawaine or Sir Geraint, who surpassed him in civility of courtliness or nobility of demeanor.

And now I shall tell you of the great adventure that befell Sir Percival after Sir Launcelot had thus taught Min at Joyous Gard.


Next: Chapter Third