Chapter 29:

Where Morlot and one of his squires and the damsel went the night that they parted from the tents of the knights, and, the knight wounded, arrived to lodge in the house of an aunt of the squire, and Morlot was well served

Morlot asked one of his squires if there was some place where they could lodge that night, and his squire said that one of his aunts dwelt near there, who would do them much service if they could go there. And Morlot said, "Then let us go there, since I feel badly wounded, and much blood is flowing from me."

And while they went speaking thus, Bandemagus arrived, with great grief for his damsel whom Morlot had taken from him, with whom he thought he would be happy, for he knew that Morlot was he who had taken her. And the squire who saw him said to Morlot, "You see here the knight from whom you took the damsel today at the stronghold. And now what will you do? For you will be forced into battle."

"Do not fear," said Morlot, "for I will liberate myself from this knight."

Then Bandemagus arrived and said to Morlot, "Sir, you know that I brought that damsel in my guard, and therefore you attacked and unhorsed me, and I had to suffer it; but I cannot suffer the loss of the damsel, and would not, and I wish to take her back. For you know that you took her from me against all reason, since you chose to take her by force of arms; and although you unhorsed me, you did not vanquish me, and without doubt you took her wrongly, and if you choose to defend her from me it would please me greatly."

Morlot said, "Bandemagus, if you take this damsel from me and carry her off, great shame will soon be done to you and it will not delay long. I will tell you one more thing, that, certes, no man will challenge me, I being as badly wounded as I am."

And Bandemagus said: "I do not attack you nor challenge you, but I wish to take this damsel who is mine from you, since you carried her from me wrongly; and if you can take her again, take her in good hour."

And Bandemagus took the damsel. Morlot said, "You dishonor me; and keep in mind that I know that I will be avenged on you the first time I find you on horseback or any other way, as soon as I am well."

So Bandemagus took the damsel. When all this had passed, as it is said above, Galvan, who was a quite handsome youth, came to the king and said to him, "Lord, I beg you in God's name to give me a boon."

And the king granted it, if it was a thing he could do.

"Lord," said Galvan, "I supplicate you to make me knight the day of your great happiness, when you take your prized Ginebra to wife."

And the king said that it pleased him, and he chose to keep vigil that night in the church of Saint Ostiano, which was the great cathedral of Camelot, and another ten youths with him, whom the king was to make knight for love of him.

And in the morning, as soon as the king arose and the noblemen began to assemble in the palace, they saw a peasant coming on a meager, skinny and shambling hack, and he brought with him one of his sons of the age of fifteen on a very meager mare, and they entered through the middle of the palace, just as knights came, and placed themselves among the noblemen, for they found no one who hindered their entrance. And the peasant began to ask which man was King Arthur. A boy came to him and showed him, and he greeted him and said to him so that all those in the tower heard him, "King Arthur, your great fame which runs far and near sends me to you, since all say that no one came to you so bereft of aid that you did not succor him, and no one comes to ask a boon of you which you do not give, if it is something you can, and because of this news I heard of you I came to you to give me a boon, from which you cannot receive harm."

And the king looked at the peasant and saw that he spoke wisely, and he marveled, and said, "What is this which you wish to ask?"

And the peasant said, "King, will you give me what I came for?"

"Certainly, if you can have it."

The peasant dismounted from the hack, and went to kiss his foot, and his son did so as well, and they thanked him for the boon. And the peasant said, "Lord, the mercy I ask of you, is that you make my son a knight, and cinch on his sword before that of your nephew Galvan."

And he granted it, smiling at what he said, and said to him, "I beg you to tell me who gave you this counsel, for it seems to me that you should not attempt such a great thing as this, nor ought your son to work at it."

"Certes," said the peasant, "so it seems to me; but my son made me do it whether I wanted to or not, for by my advice he would not attempt such a great thing as this, as I would first wish him to be a worker like his brothers; but he would not agree to anything I said except to be a knight."

And the king said that he took it for a great thing, and ordered the peasant to tell him all his doings and said, "You, how many sons do you have?"

He responded and said: "Lord, I live off the labor of my hands, and I have thirteen sons, and twelve of them are workers as I am, but this one does not choose to agree to anything, but he says that he will be nothing if not a knight, and I do not know whence this beginning could have come to him."

And when those of the palace heard this, they began to laugh; and the king, as was wise, did not take this demand for a thing of mockery and said to the boy, "Friend -- you, do you wish to be a knight?"

And he responded: "Lord, there is nothing in the world I desire so much as to be a knight by your hand, and be a knight of the Round Table."

"Now may God make you a good man because you put yourself to greater things than your brothers; and, certainly, you will ask nothing of me which I will deny. I believe that if gentle birth did not come to you from some part, your heart would not incite you to such a high thing as chivalry, and I beg God that it will be well employed by you, since there will be no knight made here today before you."

And he thanked him much and bowed before him, and kissed his hands. As they spoke thus, Galvan and his companions arrived, and when the king saw them, he called them and had them come before him, and had them dressed in cloths and in arms; and the worker's child first, and Galvan and the others afterwards. And in that time there was such a custom in Great Brtain, that when they made a new knight, they dressed him in samite over the arms and put his sword in his hand. And so armed, they went to hear the great mass wherever they were, and after they heard mass, he who was to make him knight had to cinch on his sword, since such was the custom, and the knights were richly arrayed that day. And it was already set that, since that day the king was to take blessings with his wife, Queen Ginebra, that day the knights of the Round Table were to swear that they would never fail each other, but they would bear each other loyal company, while they lived. And the king was arrayed and the queen as well, and the new knights and the others went to the great church with great happiness, and with such great festival, that no man would know how to tell you a greater one; and in that festival were kings and dukes and counts, so many that it was a marvel.

And on that day was Queen Ginebra anointed with King Arthur, and on that day both took the crown. And Queen Ginebra was the most beautiful woman who could be found in that time; and when mass was sung and they returned to the palace, the king asked the peasant, "Tell me, friend: what is your name?"

"Lord," he said, "my name is Ares the Cowherd."

And he took the boy's sword and gave him the accolade, just as to a new knight. And, certes, in that time they did not usually give a accolade to a new knight. King Arthur was the first to give the accolade, and after he had given him the accolade, he cinched his sword on, and said to him, "May Our Lord make you a good man, since, certes, that would please me greatly."

Then a good man came there, and he was Merlin, who knew of his deeds, and knew whose son the boy was and that he was not the son of that peasant, and said to the king, "Lord, certes, he will be a good man and a good knight, and so he ought to be by lineage, such that he is one of the good knights of the world." And he said to the peasant, "Are you dull-witted, that you think that this one is your son? Certes, he is not, since if he were he would not put himself to what he does, more than any of his brothers, but he would first be a peasant by right, as his nature would demand; but if you do not want to tell the king whose son he is, I will tell him; for I know whose he is, just as you know."

And when the peasant saw that the good man spoke so boldly, he was frightened and did not know what to say, and the good man looked at him and said to the boy, "Either you will tell whose son you are or I will, for I know truly that you are not the son of this man."

Then the boy spoke and said, "Friend -- lord -- I am his son. Or if I am not, what does that matter to you? And if I am, it pleases me. And if I am not, why do you insult my mother?"

"Friend," said the good man, "certes, she cannot be insulted through what I say, for he of whom I speak is a king anointed, and with all that he is one of the good knights of the world."

The new knight said, "Whoever he is, I would well wish that you remained silent."

"This time," said the good man, "I will do so."

Then the king made his nephew Galvan knight, and he will avenge his father, if he lives long enough, on the man who killed him. That day those who were companions of the Round Table sat there, and all the seats were filled save two: the Perilous and the last. And when they began to serve the tables, the king said to Merlin, "Merlin, you have not done everything, for that last place is empty."

"Wait, sir, do not grieve," said Merlin, "for it will be filled when Our Lord wishes. And I do not fail to fill it because there are not many good knights here, but because it ought to end as it began, with a king. And you are a king and a good knight, and you are at the beginning, in the first place; and I will put at the end as good a knight as you or better, who is a crowned king like you, and so it will begin with a high personage and end with a high personage. And so it should be in such a high place as is the Round Table."

The king said: "What Merlin says is a very great thing."

So everyone spoke of that all that day, and felt such great joy and celebrated such a great festival in the city of Camelot, that all the poor men and the rich did nothing save feel great joy and celebrate the festival.

And the next morning, a little before the great mass, King Pelinor arrived at court, and went to the palace very richly arrayed, and went where King Arthur was, and knelt before him and said to him, "King Arthur, I came here to see your festival and your happiness and great honor; and, certes, I prize and praise you above all the Christian kings that exist in your time, and I came to your court to do you service, and I wish to do homage to you and be your vassal here before your noblemen, so that you will trust me henceforth and that I shall be your favorite."

And he then gave him a very rich mantle, since so the custom was then. And in that instant Merlin came among them, and said to King Arthur, "Lord, receive him, and thank him for this offering he makes you, since you know that you will receive such honor in having him offer it, which he would not do if he did not wish to; since, certainly, he is as great a lord as you, and is an anointed king, as you are, and very noble in all virtues, as experience will show."

When the king had heard the words that Merlin said to him, he then received Pelinor, and raised him up, and seated him near himself, and thanked him very much for what he had offered. Then Merlin spoke so loudly that everyone heard him, and he said, "Sirs companions of the Round Table, now be pleased and happy that on this day all your table was filled, save for the Perilous Place."

And they thanked God greatly, but they did not yet know whom they were to put in the final place, for there were many in the court of the king, so that they did not know who it would be. At the hour for meals, when the tables were set, Merlin came to King Pelinor and said to him, "Come after me."

And he then rose and went after him, and he took him straight to the last seat at the Round Table, and said to him, "Sit here, for this place is yours; and, certes, I do not do this for greater love of you than of others, but because I know you for a good and loyal knight."

Then he had him sit in the chair. And when King Arthur saw this, he said to Merlin, "Certes, foolish is he who wishes to do something about this behind your back, for no one would have done this as wisely or as well as you have. And may God never help me if there is a man among us who deserves that seat more than King Pelinor."

And all who were in the palace granted that, and it pleased everyone except Galvan, since he truly hated him because he had killed his father King Lot; and he said to Gariete his brother, "We ought to feel great grief when we see the man who killed our father in such great honor and high estate."

And Gariete said: "What do you want me to do about it? For I am one of your squires and I ought not to raise my hand against a knight, because it is not the custom, as you know; but if you praise it in me, I will kill him where he is, before everyone; and I am well-prepared, because I have a very good sword, the sharpest and the best that I have seen in days, and I will kill him with it in a moment, if you agree to it; there is nothing in the world I hate as mortally as him."

"Do not do such a thing, brother," said Galvan, "for if you raise hand against him, being a squire, you will lose the honor of knighthood; but let me who am knight take vengeance, and I tell you that I will take such great vengeance as the son of a king ought on the one who murdered his father."

"How will you do it?" asked Gariete.

"I choose to wait," said Galvan, "until he departs this court, and after he departs, we will go after him for one or two days; as soon as we find him, I will have my battle with him; and if I vanquish him, I would not for anything in the world fail to cut off his head, just as he cut off my father's, as they told me."

And Gariete said: "I will kill him now without fail, if you do not promise not to go without me, so that I can see the battle between you."

And he promised it as to a brother, and then they left off talking of that.

Very great was the happiness that the noblemen of the kingdom of Londres felt that day in the city of Camelot, and great were the festivities, and the great palace where the king held his wedding was placed in such a manner that it was over the city, near the great forest, since "forest"[1] they say in French for a land thick with trees and in which there are no grasslands. And the palace was all surrounded by great and marvelous orchards, and they were as dense as if they were a forest. And when everyone was prepared to leave, because the festival was ending, Merlin said, "Lords, you who are joined together at this festival, do not marvel at anything you will hear here, for I tell you that you will hear three adventures now more marvelous than you ever heard, and none of them will be finished here, but three knights of this palace will finish them. Galvan will finish the first, and Tor son of Ares the second, and King Pelinor the third, and know that each one of them will bring his to a good end."

And those of the palace marveled at what Merlin said. They, talking thus, saw a stag come through the orchard with great leaps, and a brachet after him, and after them thirty swift hounds who went barking and running after the stag, and the stag was all white, and the brachet all white, and all the others were black, and with them was a damsel, who I can well tell you was one of the most beautiful damsels who ever entered Arthur's court, and she bore a horn of ivory hanging from her neck, and had a bow and an arrow in her hand, and went very well arrayed in the habit of a huntress, and she came as fast as her palfrey could bring her, making so great a tumult that it was a marvel. And when the stag entered the palace, he did not stop his course for anyone, and the brachet after him. And the stag came among the knights who were at the tables, and the hound went after him and seized him by the leg, and bit him so hard that he ripped a piece of flesh from him. When the stag felt himself wounded, he launched himself to the other side of the table. Then a knight arose who had been eating there, and he took the brachet, and got his horse which he had at the door, and went away at a great pace, as if the world went after him, and he went saying in his heart that he had done that for which he went to court. And the damsel who came after the stag, when she saw her hound carried away, said to him who was taking it, "Sir knight, it would be more worthwhile for you to leave it than to take it, for you will give it back very unwillingly."

He did not respond to a thing she said, but went on as fast as he could. And the damsel then entered among the knights who were in the palace, who marveled at the stag which had passed among them, and at the hounds who went after it, and how it had come before them, since they were already in the orchard in the other side of the palace when they began their hunt. And when she entered and did not find the stag or her hounds, she was as one frightened, and threw her bow and arrows to earth, and asked which was the king, and they showed her; and she dismounted then, and went before him and said, "Ah, king! I complain bitterly of you and your household, because I firstly lost my brachet, which I loved greatly, and I cannot follow my hounds and my stag after which I went, which I could have shortly taken, and now I do not know where it went. And all this, King Arthur, came to me in your house, and therefore I complain of it, and now let us see how you will repay me."

Then Merlin came to the damsel and said to her, "You have said enough, and I tell you that you will lose nothing here which will not be well repaid."

"Lord," said the damsel, "let some knights move from here and go after the stag, for it seems to me they have no reason to delay, if they wish to reach it."

"Damsel, do not complain of the knights, since it will be quite worthless to you. And from today on there will be this custom in this household: that not for any adventure which comes, be it not some peril of death, will any knight of this table move before he has eaten; afterwards any knight may follow adventure, he to whom it is given; and I beg the king, who is here, to keep this custom while he lives."

And the king granted it all before his noblemen, who kept it. Then Merlin said to Galvan, "The adventure of the stag is yours, and as soon as you have eaten, take your arms and your horse, and follow the stag until you have found and taken it; and bring its head here, and make sure that none of the hounds stays behind, and that you bring them all here, if they do not die in the hunt, for in no other way can your adventure be fulfilled."

And he said that he would not be happy until he was on the road to follow the adventure. Merlin spoke thus, "Tor, son of Ares, take your arms, as soon as the tables rise, and go after the knight who took the brachet and make sure that you do not leave the knight and the brachet there alive or dead."

He said that he was very happy to do so. Then the other good men said, "Ah, Merlin! Certes, this is a great sin, that you put these boys so soon in peril of death."

"Lords," said Merlin, "do not feel terror, since I know them better than you; and believe that each one of them will come well to the end of his adventure, with the help of God."

As they were speaking of this, a knight armed cap-a-pie came in on a white horse, and came to the middle of the palace and saw the damsel, and as soon as he saw her before him, he took her and put her on his horse, and she defended herself as best she could, and he left the palace and began to go. She, who saw herself taken, cried out and said, "Ah, King Arthur! I am a dead woman, and disgraced because of the assurance I felt in you and your household, if you do nothing to take me from the power of this knight."

And so left the knight who took the damsel, and she went crying out to King Arthur to succor her. Then Merlin said to the noblemen, "Does it seem to you that I told you the truth about the three adventures which were to come today on this day?"

And they said, "This is true, and many other things which we already heard from you."

Merlin then said to King Pelinor, "What do you think of this last adventure? Know that it is yours. Mount then when it pleases you and go after that knight, and return the damsel and do deeds so that honor is yours."

And he thanked him very much for it, and said that he would put himself on the road as shortly as he could. In this manner adventures began to come to the court of King Arthur. And when the tables had arisen, Galvan parted from his uncle the king and from his brothers, and commended himself to God all weeping; afterwards Gariete begged his brother to let him go with him and serve him as squire, and he granted it. And Tor asked for his arms and they were given him, and after he was armed, he said farewell to the king and him whom he took for father and the others. And King Pelinor did so as well, and all three departed from the court; and Galvan went after the stag as straight as he could; and Tor went after the knight and the brachet, and Pelinor after the knight who had taken the damsel.

[1] The word used is "floresta," which I have translated as "forest" throughout.