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It will be heard two miles and more from the
castle, and all that hear it will come."

[Illustration: Copyright 1901 by E. A. Abbey; from a Copely print
copyright 1902 by Curtis and Cameron.

SIR GALAHAD FIGHTING THE SEVEN SINS.]

Galahad took the horn, and blew so loud a blast that the very trees
shook therewith. Then he seated himself and waited to see what would
come from the summons. As he sat there a priest came to him and said,--

"Sir knight, for seven years these brethren have held the castle, whose
lord, Duke Lianor, they killed, and held his daughter prisoner; and by
force they have kept all the knights of the castle under their power,
and have acted as tyrants, robbing the common people of all they had,
and taking tribute and demanding service from all the country round.
Seven years ago the duke's daughter said to them, 'You shall not hold
this castle for many years, for by one knight you shall be overcome.'
'Say you so,' they replied. 'Then shall never knight or lady pass this
castle, but all that come shall stay or lose their heads, till comes
that knight of whom you prophesy.' Therefore this is called the Maidens'
Castle, since its tyrants have so long made war upon maidens."

"Is the duke's daughter still here?"

"No; she died three days after the castle was taken. But her younger
sister and many other ladies are held prisoners."

Soon afterwards the knights of the country began to flock in, in
response to the bugle-call, and glad were they to find what had
occurred. Galahad made them do homage and fealty to the duke's daughter,
which they did with great willingness of heart.

And when the next day dawned great news was brought in, for a messenger
came to Galahad and told him that the seven felon brothers had been met
by Gawaine, Gareth, and Uwaine, and all slain.

"So ends their rule and power," said Galahad, fervently. "It is well
done, and well are all here delivered."

Then he commended them to God, and took his armor and horse, and rode
away amid the prayers of those he had delivered.




CHAPTER IV.

THE TEMPTATION OF SIR PERCIVALE.


Many adventures had the other knights that set out in search of the
Sangreal, and much reproof did many of them receive for the evil lives
they had led; but all this we cannot stop to tell, but must confine
ourselves to the deeds of a few only. As for Sir Gawaine, he parted from
Gareth and Uwaine after they had slain the seven wicked knights of the
Castle of Maidens, and rode from Whitsuntide to Michaelmas without an
adventure. Then came a day in which he met Sir Hector de Maris, and glad
were both at the meeting.

"Truly," said Gawaine, "I am growing weary of this quest."

"And I as well," said Hector. "And of the twenty knights I have met from
time to time, they all complain as we do."

"Have you met with Lancelot?"

"No, nor with Percivale, Bors, or Galahad. I can learn nothing of these
four."

"They are well able to take care of themselves," said Gawaine. "And if
they fail to find the Sangreal, it is waste of time for the rest of us
to seek it, for outside of them there is little virtue in the Round
Table fellowship."

Afterwards these two knights went far in company, and had strange dreams
and visions, the meaning of which was expounded to them by the hermit
Nancien. This holy man also reproved Gawaine severely for his evil life,
and bade both him and his companion to give up the search for the
Sangreal, as that high achievement was not for hands like theirs.

Soon after they met an armed knight in the road, who proffered to joust
with them. Gawaine accepted the challenge, and rode against this unknown
opponent, dealing him so severe a blow that he was hurled from his horse
with a mortal wound. But when they had removed his helmet, what was
their horror to find that it was their friend and comrade, Uwaine.

"Alas!" cried Gawaine, "that such a fatal misadventure should have
befallen me! I would sooner have died myself."

"Thus ends my quest of the Sangreal," said Uwaine. "And thus will end
that of many a noble knight. Dear friends, commend me to King Arthur,
and to my fellows of the Round Table, and sometimes think of me for old
brotherhood's sake."

And he died in their arms, leaving them plunged in the deepest grief,
from which they were long in recovering.

Meanwhile Lancelot and Percivale rode far in company, and many things
happened to them. While journeying through a strange region they met an
unknown knight, whom they challenged to joust. But the event turned out
little to their satisfaction, for Lancelot was hurled to the ground,
horse and man, and Percivale received so fierce a sword-blow that he
would have been slain had not the sword swerved.

Then the victor knight rode rapidly away, leaving them to recover as
they best could. But a recluse near whose hut this encounter had taken
place told them that the victor was Sir Galahad. On learning this they
pursued him at all speed, but in vain.

Percivale now turned back to question the recluse further, but Lancelot
kept on, passing through waste and forest till he came to a stone cross
at the parting of two ways.

Near by was a ruined chapel, with broken door, and other signs of waste
and decay, if it had been long deserted. But when he looked within he
saw to his great surprise a high altar richly dressed with cloth of
white silk, on which stood a lofty candelabra of silver which bore six
great candles, all lighted.

Lancelot sought to enter the chapel, but try as he would he could not
pass the broken door, nor find entrance elsewhere. Some invisible power
seemed to stand between him and admission to that sacred place.

Then, out of heart at this ill success, he took off his helm and sword,
relieved his horse of saddle and bridle, and lay down to sleep before
the cross. Night came upon him as he lay there, and with the night came
strange visions.

For as he lay but half asleep he saw a sick knight brought thither in a
litter. This knight prayed earnestly for aid in his affliction, and as
he did so Lancelot saw the silver candlestick come from the chapel to
the cross, and after it a table of silver on which was the holy grail.
The sick knight crawled painfully to it on his hands and knees, and
raised himself so as to touch and kiss the sacred vessel. No sooner had
he done so than he grew whole and sound, with all his pain and sickness
gone, and rose to his feet with his former strength and vigor.

"Lord, I thank thee deeply," he said; "for through thy infinite grace I
am healed of my affliction."

Then the holy vessel returned to the chapel, and Lancelot strove hard to
rise and follow it. But his limbs were powerless, and he lay like one
chained to the ground.

He now fell into deep slumber, and waked not till near morning. And as
he raised himself and sat on the ground he heard a voice in the air,
that seemed to come from no earthly lips.

"Sir Lancelot," it said, "more hard than is the stone, more bitter than
the wood, more bare than the barren fig-tree, arise and go from hence,
and withdraw thyself from this holy place."

Lancelot arose with a heavy heart, for the sense of these words sank
deeply within him. But when he sought his horse and helm and sword he
found they were gone, for they had been taken by the knight whose
healing he had seen.

Deeply depressed and unhappy at this misfortune, he left the cross on
foot, and wandered onward till he came to a hermitage on a high hill.

Here he told the hermit what had happened to him, and confessed all the
evil deeds of his life, saying that he had resolved to be a different
man from what he had been, and to live a higher life than that of doing
deeds of arms that men might applaud.

Then the holy man gave him absolution, with injunctions of penance, and
prayed that he would abide with him all that day. This Lancelot did,
talking much with him upon his sins, and repenting sincerely the worldly
life he had led.

Meanwhile Percivale had returned to the recluse, and questioned her as
to how he should find Galahad.

"That I cannot surely tell," she said. "Ride hence to a castle which is
called Goothe, where he has a cousin-german. If he can give you no
tidings, then ride straight to the castle Carbonek, where the maimed
king lies, and there you shall hear sure tidings of him."

Percivale, leaving her, rode onward till eventide, and as he looked
around him for shelter he heard a clock strike loud and clear. He now
perceived before him a mansion, with lofty walls and deep ditches. Here
he knocked loudly, and was let in without delay.

After laying off his armor, he was led to the supper hall, where he was
well served, and afterwards spent the night in comfort. When morning
dawned he entered the chapel for the mass, and found there a priest
ready at the altar. On the right side was a pew closed with iron, and
behind the altar a rich bed, covered with cloth of silk and gold. On
this bed lay a person with covered visage, so that he could not tell if
it were man or woman.

After the service was over the occupant of the bed sat up and threw back
the covering, and then Percivale saw that it was a man of very great
age, on whose head was a crown of gold. But his shoulders and body to
the middle were unclad, and were covered with wounds, as were also his
arms and face.

To all seeming he might have been three hundred years of age, for so
venerable a face Percivale had never gazed upon, and as he sat up he
prayed fervently, with joined hands. When the mass was over the priest
bore the sacrament to the sick king. And when he had used it, he took
off his crown and commanded it to be set on the altar. Then he lay down
again.

Percivale now asked one of the attendants who this venerable man was.

"You have heard of Joseph of Arimathea," was the reply, "and how he came
into this land to convert the heathen. With him came a king named
Evelake, whom he had converted in the city of Sarras, in Palestine. This
king afterwards had an earnest desire to be where the Sangreal was, and
on one occasion he ventured so nigh it that God was displeased with him,
and struck him almost blind.



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