Chapter 30:

How Galvan left King Arthur's court and he and his brother arrived at a field house, which was on a very lovely pasture-land; the said house belonged to King Tor, who at that time had come there on the hunt

Galvan left his uncle and rode after the stag in a great hurry, and his brother Gariete, who carried his arms, after him. And when they left Camelot, they went to a house which was called Alva at the entrance of the forest, and when they went inside, they did not go far before they found the king, who had come to the forest to hunt; and they greeted him very courteously, and he received them honorably, and had them served with what they needed, and he had them go up to the windows so that they could see the forest from there and the pasture-lands which he had around the house. And from there they saw two knights in a meadow fighting and another who had fallen to the earth, and the battle between them endured so long, that they killed each other's horses, and wounded each other very badly, and lost much blood; and it was no marvel that there was none of them who did not have three or four very great wounds. And when Galvan saw this, he thought it was reasonable to know what hatred existed between them, and why they fought, and he greeted them and said to them, "I beg you in the name of honor and courtesy to tell me why you are fighting each other."

And they were then still and one of them said, "This I will well tell you. We are brothers, and this one who is on the ground dead is another knight who chanced to be here on this pass, and this with whom I am fighting is my brother, and he is a good two years younger than I am, and he says that he is a better knight than I, and that he is better to enter a great quest than I, and I said that it was not so; and therefore this battle began between us, which is still not finished, nor will it be until it can be known which of us is better."

"Because of what quest," said Galvan, "did this hatred move itself in you?"

"I will tell you," said the knight. "He and I went to Camelot to see the wedding of the king and queen, and we passed from one road to another and found this knight who lies here fighting with another, and as we arrived, he had been badly wounded, so that he fell as you see, and the other left so that we did not see him more. And matters remaining thus, we saw a stag all of white come, and after it went thirty hounds, and there was neither knight nor hunter nor man who should know the trade of battle, save for the dogs. And when we saw this, we said to each other that this was already one of the adventures which are coming to Great Britain, and since I was older, I begged my brother to grant me leave to go after that hunt. And he said he would not do so, but that he would go and that he was a better knight than I, and for this cause we fought, as you saw."

When Galvan heard this, he begged them for love of him to leave off the battle, and they promised it, nor from then on was there any ire between them, and they then threw their swords and shields to the earth, and quickly took off their helmets and began both to weep. And one said to the other, "By God, brother, you very nearly killed me and I you, and it was the devil who came between us."

And they made assurances of what they had promised and they said to Galvan, "Sir, tell us who you are."

"I will not tell you my name," he said, "but if you go to King Arthur's court, ask to whom Merlin gave the boon of the first quest, and so you may know my name, but not in any other manner. By God, tell me where you saw the white stag go, for in order to follow this adventure I left the court."

And they showed him where it had gone, and he commended them to God. And he parted from them, and said farewell to King Tor, who stayed there in the house, and mounted and rode through the forest that day until the hour of vespers; and after the hour of vespers, Galvan entered a valley through which ran a river which was not very high, but very strong, and when he arrived at the river to pass through it, he saw neither a wooden nor a stone bridge, and he began to enter the river where he thought there was no danger, and he saw a knight on another part of the shore as soon as he entered, who said to him, "Sir knight, do not go into that water; you must joust with me first."

And when Galvan saw the knight who defended the passage from him, it did not grieve him greatly, for he saw that he was alone, and he began to charge him. And the other, as he saw him near the shore, charged him, and Galvan tried as best he could to ride out, so that the knight would not unseat him into the water; but he had still not left it when the knight struck him so hard that he made his own lance fly into pieces, but did Galvan no other ill. And Galvan, who launched himself out of the water, struck him so hard that he dashed him from the horse to the earth; but he was not there long, before he rose very quickly and put his hand to his sword, and said that although Galvan had unhorsed him, he had not vanquished him.

"What?" said Galvan, "may I not yet go quit, if I choose to?"

"No," said the knight, "not while I can sustain battle, and men will take us for evil and caitiff, if you left here before that."

"Certainly," said Galvan, "I do not want to depart from her until one of us is vanquished."

Then Galvan threw his lance to earth, and it was still whole, and put his hand to his sword, and wished to go against him on horseback as he was. And the knight then went to take the lance and said, "Either get on foot, or you will make me kill your horse, and so everything will turn to villainy for you."

"Certes," said Galvan, "you say what is true and right, and you have now taught me a courtesy which I will hold all my life, that never will I take a knight who is on foot."

And he then got down and drew his sword, and put his shield on his arm, and went against him and said to him, "You have done me ill, that you hinder my quest, and you have followed me so, that you will find evil in it if I can manage it."

Then he gave him a blow with all his force, so hard, that neither the helmet nor the shield could save him from being felled to the earth, and that blow was the first that Galvan, son of King Lot of Ortania, did after he was made knight. And when Gariete, his brother who was with him, saw this blow, he was very pleased and he said, "Brother, highly have you begun to strike with the sword, and if you always strike thus, our father will yet be avenged."

And Galvan said that he would never feel pleasure until he avenged him. Then he mounted his horse and said to his brother, "Certes, I do not know where the stag went, nor the dogs on its track."

Gariete said: "Once we have entered the road, we will see them."

And they then entered the road, and both weng after the stag through a very dense forest. And the day was bright and warm, and the sun very strong, as it usually is on the day of Saint Mary Magdalen, and they did not travel far before they heard the hounds bark after the stag and they went near them.

"Sir," said Gariete, "now let us hasten, for we have returned to our hunt."

And Galvan struck his horse with the spurs, and began to go after the stag as fast as he could, and Gariete followed him, who never left him neither on foot nor on horseback. They rode so, that they saw the stag and the hounds before them, who were so weary that most of them left off running; but there was none of them who did not go as fast as he might; and Galvan who was catching up to them, began to shout at them and rally them. Then the barking and the tumult began loudly, and the stag began to leap as far as he could, and he tried to flee as would one who was not sure of his life; and the stag fled, and the hounds caught up to it, and Galvan and Gariete struck with their spurs; and so, in this hurry, they left a valley and rose onto a high plateau, and they saw a plain and a very good stronghold surrounded by walls, and the stag went toward it as fast as he could, and the dogs after him. The stag found a house in the stronghold, with the door open, and he threw himself inside, and went toward the palace, and the hounds worried at it as soon as they took it, and they brought it down in the middle of the palace, and so many of the hounds arrived that they killed it. And while they lay there guarding it, a knight arrived all armed save for shield and lance, and when he arrived and found the stag dead and the hounds around it, he made great dole and said, "Ah, God, how badly I guarded what my lady sent!"

Then he drew his sword, and began to throw the hounds out of the palace and to kill those he reached. And while he was doing this, Galvan arrived and his brother with him, and when he saw that the knight was striking at the hounds, he shouted at him and said, "Ah, evil and caitiff knight, do not strike at them; may God send you ill fortune!"

The knight said that he would neither stop striking them nor killing them for Galvan's sake, because they had done him a great grief in killing the stag inside his house, which was the thing in the world he most loved.

"They do what they ought," said Galvan, "but you do not do what you ought, but act like the vile and evil knight you are."

"What?" said the knight. "Are you such a man that with all the grief I feel, you say evil and villainous things to me, and in my house? Certes, believe that I will force you to make amends, if I can. I assure you that in spite of any power you have, you will not carry the stag away from here, but it will stay here and you with it, and all your hounds will die here."

"I do not know," said Galvan, "what you can do, so I take your threats lightly."

And then he went to the stag and cut off its head and said that he would take it to the court despite anyone who chose to demand it of him; he looked through the palace and saw the dead hounds, and he was angry and said, "These will be avenged, if I can do so."

And the knight, as soon as he saw Galvan so angry, said to him, "Sir knight, I challenge you; and guard yourself from me, since never have I been so grieved at a knight who entered my house as at you."

Galvan said: "Nor have I ever hated any knight as I hate you, because of my hounds that you killed."

Then each charged the other sword in hand, and gave each other the greatest blows they could, and they broke each others' shields in many places and cracked their helmets badly; but the battle could not last long, because Galvan was lighter and more lively than the other, and in that manner he treated the knight badly, so that he could not suffer it, but had to be vanquished and give in. And Galvan, who hated him greatly, still followed him wherever he went, and put him in great trouble of mind, for much blood flowed from him, and he saw that he was in danger and in peril of death if he did not ask mercy, and he wished to be dead rather than do something against his honor. And Galvan, who greatly hated him, chased him from one place to the other, and chased him so much that the other could not suffer or endure more, because he had lost a marvelous amount of blood, and the country through which he traveled was all bloody, for he had many wounds, great and small.

The knight suffered so much, that he fell on his face to earth, and Galvan went to him and seized his helmet, and pulled at it so hard that he broke the laces, and he threw the helmet far away and went to cut off his head. And when the knight saw himself in such great danger and saw that he was in peril of death, he asked mercy of Galvan and said, "Ah good knight, I ask of you mercy, that you not kill me, for I hold myself vanquished. And if you raise your hand against me henceforth, you will do great villainy and a thing which will be evil for you; and all knights who ask mercy ought to find mercy, if they have done no perfidy or treachery."

"I will have no mercy on you because of the great wrong you did me," said Galvan, "with my hounds that you killed."

The knight said: "If I do not find mercy in you, know truly that all those who find you out, will take you for the most perfidious and falsest knight who ever bore arms."

"This does not make me move from my purpose," said Galvan, "since not for anything you say will you escape; you will die."

"So," he said, "then kill me now, since I will beg you no more, since I cannot find mercy in you."

And as he raised his sword to cut off the knight's head, a damsel arrived who was the knight's paramour, and when she saw that Galvan had him in such straits and that he wanted to cut off his head, she thought that she would prefer to die rather than see her lover die; and she threw herself under the blow and dropped over her lover, and Galvan who had raised his sword to give the blow, and who could not hold it back, struck the damsel on her neck and cut off her head. And when Gariete saw this, he cried out and said, "Brother, what have you done? Since, certes, no knight ought to do such villainy for any anger or hatred he feels for anyone."

And when the knight who lay on the ground saw his paramour dead for his sake, he said, "Ah, Galvan, ah evil and discredited knight! Now you have shown me your hatred and your great evil, since you killed this damsel for nothing. Certes, I care not at all whether I die now, save that I die by the hand of the worst and least virtuous knight I have seen in all my life."

And when Galvan saw that he had cut off the head of the damsel by the aforesaid evil chance, he felt great grief and he said to the knight, "I will not kill you, since you hold yourself vanquished; but you must promise me to go to King Arthur's court, and throw yourself on the mercy of my lady Queen Ginebra, on the part of him who had the boon of the adventure of the stag, and so that they know the reason for our battle, you must take the two hounds you killed, one before you and one after; and I want you to hasten to ride, so that you are in the court tomorrow, before the king goes to church."

"Ah, sir," said the knight, "know that I need to go on horseback, for I am weary and exhausted and have lost much blood, and I fear to stay on the road."

"You must promise me," said Galvan, "to do my command."

And he then promised it, since he saw that he could do nothing else. And then he grieved for the damsel and for what he had done; he mounted a great horse, which a young man brought him, and took the hounds, and put one before him on the horse and the other behind him, and tied them very well so that they would not fall, and then he parted from there, troubled and greatly grieved. Gariete, who was looking at the damsel, asked his brother and said to him, "Sir, what will we do, since it is already late? Will we sleep here or will we go to some other place?"

"We will sleep here," said Galvan, "and after that we will go to court, since it seems to me that I have finished my quest, God be thanked."

"Then let us stay," said Gariete, "if it pleases you; but I am very grieved because of this damsel you killed."

And he said that it grieved him just as much, because she was such a rich and beautiful thing. And Gariete said, "Are there no more people here whom we will find ill? For they are in some towers or some palaces inside, for such a house as this cannot be without people."

"It could well be," said Galvan.

And as soon as they said this, Gariete went to disarm his brother. And as they were thus, they heard a horn sound in the palace so loudly that it could be heard a good half league away.

"Brother," Gariete said, "I believe that you will be forced to fight because of the stag you killed or because of the damsel. Now make ready to defend yourself, since I believe you have a great need to."

And as soon as he had said that word, they saw four armed knights enter the palace through a small door, and they shouted to Galvan, "Ah, mad and disloyal knight! Certainly, you killed the damsel to your detriment, for you will die for it and you well merit it. Guard yourself from us, for you cannot escape death."

And when Galvan saw them come, he was not very sure of himself, for he was weary and tired and they were rested, and moreover they were four and he was alone; but he was not frightened, but rallied himself, and so that they could not do him ill behind his back, he retreated to a wall, and put his shield over his head, and drew his sword, and all four went to him and attacked him from all sides, but he defended himself so well and covered himself so wisely that it was a marvel. And they, who mortally hated him, took what he did to heart, and shouted and gave him great blows on the shield and on his person; he could have well defended himself, except for a archer who came to the tumult, his bow drawn in his hand and an arrow on the string, and as he saw Galvan doing all in his power to defend himself against those who attacked him, he pulled the arrow so that he fired it, and it passed through Galvan's armor and wounded him in the right arm, and the head of the arrow entered with a part of the shaft; and it was said that it did not enter his bone, but he felt great pain, because the arrow was poisoned. And when he felt himself wounded, he gave a sad cry and said, "Ah! I am dead."

And his arm hurt so much, that his sword fell to the ground. And when Gariete saw this, he took a lance and went running to the archer, and gave him such a lance stroke through his chest, that the lance came out the other side and he fell to the ground, since he could not stop himself. And the other knights already had Galvan on the ground, and they wanted to cut off his head. A damsel arrived who began to cry out to them, "Do not kill him, but take him until we find out who he is; and he could be such a man that not all the gold in the world could replace him, so that you should not make him die an evil death."

When the knights saw what the damsel commanded, they put their swords in their scabbards and left Galvan, and imprisoned him in an underground room, which was near an orchard, and Gariete with him. And both brothers were there all that night, so that they neither ate nor drank, nor did Galvan feel like eating, for he felt himself badly wounded, and never for an instant that night did he sleep or cease moaning nor feeling troubled, so much pain he felt. And when the light came, he saw his arm more swollen than a man's leg. Then he felt great terror, and he showed himself to his brother and said to him, "Brother, I am dying of trouble and pain. Now you can see that the arrow with which I was wounded was poisoned, and if I do not get a doctor, I cannot escape death."

Then Gariete began to weep very strongly, for he saw his brother in great travail and in peril of death, and he said to him, "Brother, you took ill counsel when you stayed here, since you had already finished your battle."

"It is already done," said Galvan, "and if God wills that I die, I will die; and it grieves me that I am dying because of such a deed of little chivalry as I did, and God knows how I did not then wish to be a true knight."

They remaining thus, they saw the lady of the place at a window where she could speak with them, and when she saw that they made great dole, she felt grief because she saw they were boys of a young age; and because they prized knighthood, as young as they were, she prized them more. Then she spoke with them and said, "Sirs, you are in my prison, and, certes, you angered me so much, that if I had seen your crime, I would have had you killed by right; but if you were foolish and villainous and most arrogant to do me harm in my house, I will be more courteous, for I will take you out of prison, and I will send you away, if you choose to give me a promise to do what I shall tell you, I will not say anything to you which will turn to shame for you nor set you anything which you cannot do."

When Galvan saw that the lady spoke so piously, he said, "Lady, you speak so honorably, that there is nothing you could command me which I would not do wholeheartedly, whatever came of it."

"Certes," she said, "no ill can come to you."

He said: "I promise it to you."

And he put out his hand, and she as well in the manner of an assurance. And when Gariete came to do so as well, the lady asked him, "And you, are you a knight?"

And he said he was not.

"Then I will not take assurance from you, for I would do a villainy."

Then she had the door of the room opened, and they went out and came before her, and she began to look very closely at Galvan's face, and she asked him how old he was.

And he said that he was eighteen.

"Certes," she said, "you are young enough, and if you lived long enough, I believe that you would be one of the best knights of the world."

And she said: "Tell me: who are you?"

"The king of Ortania was my father," said Galvan.

"You are King Arthur's nephew?" she said. "And this is your brother?"

He said: "It is true."

"Certes," she said, "I know so much of you that I know truly that you cannot fail to be a good knight, if you live long enough; and, certes, you did great villainy in killing the damsel you killed, and such a man as you ought not to do such, and I want you to do what I tell you in place of amends, and I command it by the faith you gave me."

He said: "Madam, tell me, for I will do it, as long as it is not to my dishonor."

She then commanded her men to bring his arms and arm him, and he mounted his horse, and she had herself brought the stag's head, for she wished that those of the court know that he had fulfilled his quest, and she gave it to Gariete. Then the lady asked him for his name, and he said that his name was Galvan. She said, "Now you must take the body of this damsel you killed in front of you on the neck of your horse to the court."

And he said: "I will do it, since you wish it."

And he took her, and put her before him, and she had the damsel's head taken up, and had it tied to his neck by the hair, and he suffered what they did to him willingly, to be quit of his oath. And when the lady saw him thus, she said to Galvan, "You will go in this manner to the court of your uncle King Arthur, as you are, and when you are there, you will send for all the ladies and damsels, and when they come you will tell them how you killed the damsel, and the cruelty you did upon the knight who asked you for mercy and you did not choose to listen, and I command you on your faith to do the penitence they give you in amends for this crime."

He said: "Lady, I will do it all well, and I promise it to you as a knight."

Then Galvan said to Gariete: "Now brother, how can we take our hounds to the court? For if we go without them, our quest will not be fulfilled."

"I will give you," said the lady, "boys who will take them for you; and believe that none will be lost, save the dead ones."

Then she had the hounds taken and put in chains, two by two, and Gariete took the first two. He said to the lady, "Do not send anyone with us, for I will take these two, and the others will follow willingly."

"Let them stay," said the lady, "since it pleases you that they not go, for I had sent them with you in goodwill."

Then Galvan departed, and both returned to Camelot, and they did not dismount until they were inside the palace. When they had arrived, Gariete put his brother's shield and helmet and the head of the stag on the ground. And the king and Merlin went to Galvan, and the others who were there, and the king commanded that the damsel be taken away. And Merlin said, "Lord, first have the queen and the ladies and damsels called, and they will hear who sent Galvan as he comes, and why he bears thus the body and head of the damsel, for it is not without reason."

And the king then sent for the queen, and she came with a great company of ladies and damsels, and when they saw Galvan standing there, they marveled. Then Merlin commanded that the body of the damsel be taken away, and that they untie the head which Galvan bore tied to his neck, and that they disarm him, and after he was disarmed and they saw his right arm so badly wounded, all felt very great grief. Merlin said, "Do not be grieved at anything you see, for if Galvan is wounded, he will heal, and I tell you that he did better than you think, for he fulfilled his quest. And, certes, you may take this adventure for one of the adventures of the Holy Grail, and from today on you will see many more very often, and some more cruel than this one is."

After Galvan had recounted his adventure, Merlin said, "Certes, Galvan, you did not fail in anything you have said, and the beginning of your knightly deeds would have been much to praise, if you had not so boldly exceeded in some things. And the lady who sent you here was very knowledgeable and courteous, and I beg my lady, who is here, and the ladies and damsels who are with her, to give you some penance for the damsel you killed, which they agree is appropriate for the crime you committed. And I beg my lord King Arthur who is here, to command it to be so."