Le Morte Darthur
Syr Thomas Malory
William Caxton, H. Oskar Sommer

¶ Capitulum xviij

*. [As listed in the table of contents, chapters xviij and xix go together, and there is no chapter break between them in the text.]

ANd thenne syre Marhaus rode vnto his shelde / and sawe how it was defowled / and sayd of this despyte I am a parte auengyd / But for her loue that gaf me this whyte shelde I shalle were the / and hange myn where thow was and soo he hanged it aboute his neck / Thenne he rode streyght vnto syr Gawayn and to syr Vwayne / and asked them what they dyd there / They ansuerd hym that they cam from kynge Arthurs courte for to see auentures / wel sayd syre Marhaus here am I redy an auentures knyghte that wille fulfylle ony Page  142 [leaf 71v] aduenture that ye wylle desyre / And soo departed fro them / to fetche his raunge / lete hym goo seid syr Vwayn vnto syre Gawayne / for he is a passynge good knyghte as ony is lyuynge / I wold not by my wille that ony of vs were matched with hym / Nay said sir Gawayne not so / it were shame to vs were he not assayed were he neuer soo good a knyghte / wel said syr Vwayne I wylle assaye hym afore yow / for I am more weyker than ye / And yf he smyte me doune / thenne may ye reuenge me / soo these two knyghtes cam to gyders with grete raundon that syr Vwayne smote syr Marhaus that his spere braste in pyeces on the shelde / and Syre Marhaus smote hym so sore that hors and man he bare to the erthe / and hurte syre Vwayne on the lyfte syde / Thenne syr Marhaus torned his hors and rode toward Gawayne with his spere / and when syr Gawayne sawe that / he dressid his sheld / and they auentryd their speres / and they cam to gyders with alle the myȝte of their horses / that eyther knyght smote other so hard in myddes of theyr sheldes / but syr Gawayns spere brak / but sir marhaus spere helde / And therwith syre Gawayne and his hors russhed doune to the erthe / And lyghtly syre Gawayne rose on his feet / and pulled out his swerd / and dressyd hym toward syr Marhaus on foote / and syr marhaus sawe that / and pulled oute his fwerd / and beganne to come to syr Gawayne on horsbak / Syre knyght said syr gawayn alyȝte on foote or els I wylle slee thy hors / gramercy sayd syr Marhaus of youre gentylnes ye teche me curtosye / for hit is not for one knyȝt to be on foote / and the other on horsbak / & therwith syr Marhaus sette his spere ageyne a tree and alyghte and tayed his hors to a tree / and dressid his shelde / and eyther cam vnto other egerly / and smote to gyders with her swerdes that her sheldes flewe in cantels / and they brysed their helmes and their hauberkes and wounded eyther other / but Syre gawayne fro it passed ix of the clok waxed euer stronger and stronger / for thenne hit cam to the houre of noone & thryes his myghte was encreaced / Alle this aspyed syr Marhaus and had grete wonder how his myghte encreaced / and so they wounded other passynge sore / And thenne whan it was past noone / and whan it drewe toward euensonge syre gawayns strengthe febled &Page  143 [leaf 72r] waxt passynge faynte that vnnethes he myght dure ony lenger / and syr Marhaus was thenne bygger and bygger / syre knyght said syr Marhaus / I haue wel felt that ye are a passynge good knyghte and a merueyllous man of myghte as euer I felt ony / whyle hit lasteth / And oure quarels are not grete / and therfor it were pyte to doo yow hurte / for I fele ye are passynge feble / A said syr Gawayn gentyl knyghte ye say the word that I shold say / And therwith they took of theire helmes / and eyther kyssed other / and there they swore to gyders eyther to loue other as bretheren / And syr Marhaus prayd syr gawayn to lodge with hym that nyghte / And so they toke theyr horses / and rode toward syr Marhaus hous / And as they rode by the wey / syr knyghte said syr gawayne I haue merueylle that so valyaunt a man as ye be loue no ladyes ne damoysels / Syre sayd syr marhaus they name me wrongfully tho that gyue me that name / but wel I wote it ben the damoyseles of the Turret that so name me and other suche as they be / Now shalle I telle yow for what cause I hate them / For they be sorceresses and enchaunters many of them / & be a knyȝt neuer so good of his body and ful of prowesse as man may be / they wille make hym a stark coward to haue the better of hym / and this is the pryncipal cause that I hate them & to al good ladyes and gentyl wymmen I owe my seruyse as a knyght ouȝte to do / As the book reherceth in frensshe ther were many knyghtes that ouermatched syr gawayne for alle the thryes myghte that he had / Syr Launcelot de lake / syr Trystrams / syr Bors de ganys / syr Percyuale / syr Pellias & syr Marhaus / these sixe knyȝtes had the better of sir gawayn Thenne within a lytel whyle they cam to syr Marhaus place / whiche was in a lytel pryory / and there they alyghte and ladyes and damoysels vnarmed them / and hastely loked to theyr hurtes / for they were all thre hurte / and so they had all thre good lodgynge with syr Marhaus and good chere / for whan he wyst that they were kynge Arthurs syster sones / he maade them al the chere that lay in his power / and so they soiourned there a vij nyghte / and were wel easyd of their woundes and at the last departed / Now said syre Marhaus we wylle not departe soo lyȝtely / for I wylle brynge you thorow the forest Page  144 [leaf 72v] And rode daye by day wel a seuen dayes or they fond ony auenture / At the last they cam in to a grete forest that was named the countreye and foreste of Arroy and the countrey of straunge auentures / In this countrey sayd syr Marhaus cam neuer knyghte syn it was crystened / but he fonde straunge auentures / and soo they rode / and cam in to a depe valey ful of stones / and ther by they sawe a fayr streme of water / aboue ther by was the hede of the streme a fayr fontayne / & thre damoysels syttynge therby / And thenne they rode to them / and eyther salewed other / and the eldest had a garland of gold aboute her hede / and she was thre score wynter of age / or more and her here was whyte vnder the garland / The second damoysel was of thyrtty wynter of age with a serkelet of gold aboute her hede / The thyrd damoysel was but xv yere of age / and a garland of floures aboute her hede / when these knyghtes had soo beholde them / they asked hem the cause why they sat at that fontayne / we be here sayd the damoysels for thys cause / yf we may see ony erraunt knyghtes to teche hem vnto straunge auentures / and ye be thre knyghtes that seken auentures and we be thre damoysels / and therfore eche one of yow must chese one of vs / And whan ye haue done soo / we wylle lede yow vnto thre hyhe wayes / and there eche of yow shal chese a wey and his damoysel with hym / And this day twelue monethe ye must mete here ageyn / and god sende yow your lyues / and there to ye must plyȝte your trouthe / this is wel said sayd syr Marhaus