Practical Jokes in King Arthur’s Day (Dec. 2)

Practical Jokes in King Arthur’s Day
Attacked in fun by two masked knights, Sir Galahad smote one
so that both horse and rider went down. Turning on the other
jester, he slashed open his helmet.
Read from THE HOLY GRAIL Vol. 35, pp. 128-134

CHAPTER XVII
HOW SIR GALAHAD MET WITH SIR LAUNCELOT AND SIR PERCIVALE,
AND SMOTE THEM DOWN, AND DEPARTED FROM THEM
So when Sir Galahad was departed from the Castle of Maidens he
rode till he came to a waste forest, and there he met with Sir Launcelot
and Sir Percivale, but they knew him not, for he was new
disguised. Right so Sir Launcelot, his father, dressed his spear and
brake it upon Sir Galahad, and Galahad smote him so again that

THE HOLY GRAIL 129
he smote down horse and man. And then he drew his sword, and
dressed him unto Sir Percivale, and smote him so on the helm,
that it rove to the coif of steel; and had not the sword swerved Sir
Percivale had been slain, and with the stroke he fell out of his saddle.
This jousts was done tofore the hermitage where a recluse dwelled.
And when she saw Sir Galahad ride, she said: God be with thee, best
knight of the world. Ah certes, said she, all aloud that Launcelot
and Percivale might hear it: An yonder two knights had known thee
as well as I do they would not have encountered with thee. When
Sir Galahad heard her say so he was adread to be known: therewith
he smote his horse with his spurs and rode a great pace froward them.
Then perceived they both that he was Galahad; and up they gat on
their horses, and rode fast after him, but in a while he was out of
their sight. And then they turned again with heavy cheer. Let us spere
some tidings, said Percivale, at yonder recluse. Do as ye list, said
Sir Launcelot. When Sir Percivale came to the recluse she knew
him well enough, and Sir Launcelot both. But Sir Launcelot rode
overthwart and endlong in a wild forest, and held no path but as
wild adventure led him. And at the last he came to a stony cross
which departed two ways in waste land; and by the cross was a stone
that was of marble, but it was so dark that Sir Launcelot might
not wit what it was. Then Sir Launcelot looked by him, and saw
an old chapel, and there he weened to have found people; and Sir
Launcelot tied his horse till a tree, and there he did off his shield
and hung it upon a tree. And then he went to the chapel door, and
found it waste and broken. And within he found a fair altar, full
richly arrayed with cloth of clene silk, and there stood a fair clean
candlestick, which bare six great candles, and the candlestick was of
silver. And when Sir Launcelot saw this light he had great will for
to enter into the chapel, but he could find no place where he might
enter; then was he passing heavy and dismayed. Then he returned
and came to his horse and did off his saddle and bridle, and let him
pasture, and unlaced his helm, and ungirt his sword, and laid him
down to sleep upon his shield tofore the cross.

130 SIR THOMAS MALORY
CHAPTER XVIII
HOW SIR LAUNCELOT, HALF SLEEPING AND HALF WAKING, SAW A SICK
MAN BORNE IN A LITTER, AND HOW HE WAS HEALED
WITH THE SANGREAL
AND SO he fell on sleep; and half waking and sleeping he saw come
by him two palfreys all fair and white, the which bare a Utter, therein
lying a sick knight. And when he was nigh the cross he there abode
still. All this Sir Launcelot saw and beheld, for he slept not verily;
and he heard him say: O sweet Lord, when shall this sorrow leave
me? and when shall the holy vessel come by me, where-through I
shall be blessed? For I have endured thus long, for little trespass.
A full great while complained the knight thus, and always Sir
Launcelot heard it. With that Sir Launcelot saw the candlestick with
the six tapers come before the cross, and he saw nobody that brought
it. Also there came a table of silver, and the holy vessel of the
Sangreal, which Launcelot had seen aforetime in King Pescheour’s
house. And therewith the sick knight set him up, and held up both
his hands, and said: Fair sweet Lord, which is here within this holy
vessel; take heed unto me that I may be whole of this malady. And
therewith on his hands and on his knees he went so nigh that he
touched the holy vessel and kissed it, and anon he was whole; and
then he said: Lord God, I thank thee, for I am healed of this sickness.
So when the holy vessel had been there a great while it went unto the
chapel with the chandelier and the light, so that Launcelot wist not
where it was become; for he was overtaken with sin that he had no
power to rise ageyne the holy vessel; wherefore after that many
men said of him shame, but he took repentance after that. Then
the sick knight dressed him up and kissed the cross; anon his squire
brought him his arms, and asked his lord how he did. Certes, said
he, I thank God right well, through the holy vessel I am healed.
But I have marvel of this sleeping knight that had no power to
awake when this holy vessel was brought hither. I dare right well say,
said the squire, that he dwelleth in some deadly sin whereof he
was never confessed. By my faith, said the knight, whatsomever he

THE HOLY GRAIL 131

be he is unhappy, for as I deem he is of the fellowship of the Round
Table, the which is entered into the quest of the Sangreal. Sir, said
the squire, here I have brought you all your arms save your helm and
your sword, and therefore by mine assent now may ye take this
knight’s helm and his sword: and so he did. And when he was
clene armed he took Sir Launcelot’s horse, for he was better than
his; and so departed they from the Cross.

CHAPTER XIX
HOW A VOICE SPAKE TO SIR LAUNCELOT, AND HOW HE FOUND HIS
HORSE AND HIS HELM BORNE A WAY, AND AFTER WENT A FOOT
THEN anon Sir Launcelot waked, and set him up, and bethought
him what he had seen there, and whether it were dreams or not.
Right so heard he a voice that said: Sir Launcelot, more harder than
is the stone, and more bitter than is the wood, and more naked
and barer than is the leaf of the fig tree; therefore go thou from
hence, and withdraw thee from this holy place. And when Sir
Launcelot heard this he was passing heavy and wist not what to
do, and so departed sore weeping, and cursed the time that
he was born. For then he deemed never to have had worship more.
For those words went to his heart, till that he knew wherefore he
was called so. Then Sir Launcelot went to the cross and found his
helm, his sword, and his horse taken away. And then he called himself
a very wretch, and most unhappy of all knights; and there he
said: My sin and my wickedness have brought me unto great dishonour.
For when I sought worldly adventures for worldly desires,
I ever achieved them and had the better in every place, and never
was I discomfit in no quarrel, were it right or wrong. And now
I take upon me the adventures of holy things, and now I see and
understand that mine old sin hindereth me and shameth me, so that
I had no power to stir nor speak when the holy blood appeared afore
me. So thus he sorrowed till it was day, and heard the fowls sing:
then somewhat he was comforted. But when Sir Launcelot missed
his horse and his harness then he wist well God was displeased with
him. Then he departed from the cross on foot into a forest; and

132 SIR THOMAS MALORY

so by prime he came to an high hill, and found an hermitage and a
hermit therein which was going unto mass. And then Launcelot
kneeled down and cried on Our Lord mercy for his wicked works.
So when mass was done Launcelot called him, and prayed him for
charity for to hear his life. With a good will, said the good man. Sir,
said he, be ye of King Arthur’s court and of the fellowship of the
Round Table? Yea forsooth, and my name is Sir Launcelot du Lake
that hath been right well said of, and now my good fortune is
changed, for I am the most wretch of the world. The hermit beheld
him and had marvel how he was so abashed. Sir, said the hermit,
ye ought to thank God more than any knight living, for He hath
caused you to have more worldly worship than any knight that now
liveth. And for your presumption to take upon you in deadly sin
for to be in His presence, where His flesh and His blood was, that
caused you ye might not see it with worldly eyes; for He will not
appear where such sinners be, but if it be unto their great hurt and
unto their great shame; and there is no knight living now that
ought to give God so great thank as ye, for He hath given you beauty,
seemliness, and great strength above all other knights; and therefore
ye are the more beholding unto God than any other man, to love Him
and dread Him, for your strength and manhood will little avail you
an God be against you.

CHAPTER XX
HOW SIR LAUNCELOT WAS SHRIVEN, AND WHAT SORROW HE MADE,
AND OF THE GOODEN SAMPLES WHICH WERE SHE WED HIM
THEN Sir Launcelot wept with heavy cheer, and said: Now I
know well ye say me sooth. Sir, said the good man, hide none old
sin from me. Truly, said Sir Launcelot, that were me full loth to
discover. For this fourteen year I never discovered one thing that
I have used, and that may I now wyte my shame and my misadventure.
And then he told there that good man all his life. And how
he had loved a queen unmeasurably and out of measure long.
And all my great deeds of arms that I have done, I did for the
most part for the queen’s sake, and for her sake would I do battle

THE HOLY GRAIL 133
were it right or wrong; and never did I battle all only for God’s
sake, but for to win worship and to cause me to be the better beloved,
and little or nought I thanked God of it. Then Sir Launcelot said:
I pray you counsel me. I will counsel you, said the hermit, if ye
will ensure me that ye will never come in that queen’s fellowship
as much as ye may forbear. And then Sir Launcelot promised him he
nold, by the faith of his body. Look that your heart and your mouth
accord, said the good man, and I shall ensure you ye shall have more
worship then ever ye had. Holy father, said Sir Launcelot, I marvel
of the voice that said to me marvellous words, as ye have heard
toforehand. Have ye no marvel, said the good man, thereof, for
it seemeth well God loveth you; for men may understand a stone
is hard of kind, and namely one more than another; and that is to
understand by thee, Sir Launcelot, for thou wilt not leave thy sin
for no goodness that God hath sent thee; therefore thou art more
than any stone, and never wouldst thou be made neysshe nor by
water nor by fire, and that is the hete of the Holy Ghost may not
enter in thee. Now take heed, in all the world men shall not find
one knight to whom Our Lord hath given so much of grace as
He hath given you, for He hath given you fairness with seemliness,
He hath given thee wit, discretion to know good from evil. He hath
given thee prowess and hardiness, and given thee to work so largely
that thou hast had at all days the better wheresomever thou came;
and now Our Lord will suffer thee no longer, but that thou shalt
know Him whether thou wilt or nylt. And why the voice called thee
bitterer than wood, for where overmuch sin dwelleth, there may be
but little sweetness, wherefore thou art likened to an old rotten tree.
Now have I shewed thee why thou art harder than the stone and
bitterer than the tree. Now shall I shew thee why thou art more
naked and barer than the fig tree. It befel that Our Lord on Palm
Sunday preached in Jerusalem, and there He found in the people
that all hardness was harboured in them, and there He found in all
the town not one that would harbour him. And then He went
without the town, and found in the middes of the way a fig tree,
the which was right fair and well garnished of leaves, but fruit had
it none. Then Our Lord cursed the tree that bare no fruit; that
betokeneth the fig tree unto Jerusalem, that had leaves and no fruit.

134 SIR THOMAS MALORY
So thou, Sir Launcelot, when the Holy Grail was brought afore thee,
He found in thee no fruit, nor good thought nor good will, and
defouled with lechery. Certes, said Sir Launcelot, all that you have
said is true, and from henceforward I cast me, by the grace of God,
never to be so wicked as I have been, but as to follow knighthood
and to do feats of arms. Then the good man enjoined Sir Launcelot
such penance as he might do and to pursue knighthood, and so
assoiled him, and prayed Sir Launcelot to abide with him all that
day. I will well, said Sir Launcelot, for I have neither helm, nor
horse, nor sword. As for that, said the good man, I shall help you
or tomorn at even of an horse, and all that longed unto you. And
then Sir Launcelot repented him greatly.

Here leaveth off the history of Syr Launcelot.
And here followeth of Sir Percivale
de Galis which is the fourteenth
book.

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