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When the story of the
death of Sir Patrise and the peril of the queen was told her, she
answered openly that the queen had been falsely accused, and that the
real murderer was Sir Pinel, who had poisoned the apples to destroy
Gawaine, in revenge for the murder of Lamorak. This story was confirmed
when Pinel fled hastily from the court, for then all saw clearly that
Guenever was innocent of the crime.

The slain knight was buried in the church of Westminster, and on his
tomb was written,--

"Here lieth Sir Patrise of Ireland, slain by Sir Pinel le Savage,
through poisoned apples intended for Sir Gawaine." And to this was added
the story of how Guenever the queen had been charged with that crime,
and had been cleared in the combat by Sir Lancelot du Lake, her
champion.

All this was written on the tomb, to clear the queen's good fame. And
daily and long Sir Mador sued the queen to have her good grace again.
At length, by means of Lancelot, he was forgiven, and entered again into
the grace of king and queen. Thus once more peace and good-will were
restored to Camelot.




CHAPTER II.

THE LILY MAID OF ASTOLAT.


It came to pass that, within fifteen days of the Feast of the
Assumption, King Arthur announced that a great tournament would be held
on that day at Camelot, where he and the king of Scots would hold the
lists against all who should come. This tidings went far, and there came
to Camelot many noble knights, among them the king of North Wales, King
Anguish of Ireland, the king with the hundred knights, Sir Galahalt the
high prince, and other kings, dukes, and earls.

But when Arthur was ready to ride from London, where he then was, to
Camelot, the queen begged to be excused from going with him, saying that
she was not well. Lancelot, too, would not go, on the plea that he was
not well of the wound which Sir Mador had given him. So the king set out
in grief and anger, for the absence of his wife and Lancelot tried him
sorely. On his way to Camelot he lodged in a town named Astolat, which
is now known as Gilford, and here he remained for several days.

But hardly had he departed before the queen sought Lancelot, and blamed
him severely for not going with the king, saying that he thus exposed
her to slander.

"Madam, your wisdom comes somewhat late. Why gave you not this advice
sooner?" said Lancelot. "I will go, since you command it; but I warn you
that at the jousts I will fight against the king and his party."

"Fight as you will, but go," said Guenever. "If you take my counsel,
however, you will keep with your king and your kindred."

"Be not displeased with me, madam," said Lancelot. "I will do as God
wills, and that, I fear, will be to fight against the king's party."

So the knight took horse and rode to Astolat, and here in the evening he
obtained quarters in the mansion of an old baron, named Sir Bernard of
Astolat. It happened that this mansion was near the quarters of the
king, who, as in the dusk he walked in the castle garden, saw Lancelot
draw near to Sir Bernard's door, and recognized him.

"Aha!" said the king, "is that the game? That gives me comfort. I shall
have one knight in the lists who will do his duty nobly."

"Who is that?" asked those with him.

"Ask me not now," said the king, smiling. "You may learn later."

Meanwhile Lancelot was hospitably received by the old baron, though the
latter knew not his guest.

"Dear sir," said Lancelot to his host, "I thank you for your kindness,
and I shall owe you deeper thanks if you will lend me a shield. Mine is
too well known, and I wish to fight in disguise."

"That shall I willingly," answered his host. "I have two sons who were
lately knighted, and the elder, Sir Tirre, has been hurt. His shield you
shall have, for it is yet unknown in list or field. As for my younger
son, Sir Lavaine, he is a strong and likely youth, whom I beg you will
take with you. I feel that you must be a champion of renown, and hope
you will tell me your name."

"Not at present, if you will excuse me," said Lancelot. "If I speed well
at the tournament I will return and tell you. But I shall be glad to
have Sir Lavaine with me, and to use his brother's shield."

"You are welcome to both," said Sir Bernard.

This old baron had a daughter of great beauty, and in the freshness of
youth, who was known in that region as the Fair Maid of Astolat, by name
Elaine le Blank. And when she saw Lancelot her whole heart went out to
him in love,--a love of that ardent nature that never dies while she who
wears it lives.

Lancelot, too, was strongly attracted by her fresh young face, of
lily-like charm; but he had no love to give. Yet he spoke in tender
kindness to the maiden, and so emboldened her that she begged him to
wear her token at the tournament.

"You ask more than I have ever yet granted to lady or damsel," said
Lancelot. "If I yield to your wish I shall do more for your love than
any woman born can claim."

[Illustration: "YOU ARE WELCOME, BOTH!" SAID SIR BERNARD.]

She besought him now with still more earnestness, and it came to his
mind that if he wished to go to the lists disguised he could take no
better method, for no one would recognise Lancelot under a damsel's
token.

"Show me what you would have me wear, fair maiden," he said.

"It is a red sleeve of mine," she answered, "a sleeve of scarlet,
embroidered with great pearls," and she brought it to him.

"I have never done this for damsel before," said Lancelot. "In return I
will leave my shield in your keeping. Pray keep it safe till we meet
again."

Then the evening was spent in merry cheer; but that night Elaine slept
but lightly, for her slumber was full of dreams of Lancelot, and her
heart burned with fears that he might come to harm in the lists.

On the next day King Arthur and his knights set out for Camelot. Soon
afterwards Lancelot and Lavaine took leave of Sir Bernard and his fair
daughter, while the eyes of Elaine followed the noble form of Lancelot
fondly and far, as he rode. Both the knights had white shields, and
Lancelot bore with him Elaine's red embroidered sleeve. When they
reached Camelot they took lodging privately with a rich burgess of the
town, that none might know them.

When came Assumption Day, the lists were set, the trumpets blew to the
field, the two parties of knights gathered promptly to the fray, and
fierce was the encounter between them. In the end, after hard fighting,
the party of Arthur bore back their opponents, who were headed by the
kings of Northumberland and North Wales.

All this was seen by Lancelot and Lavaine, who sat their horses at a
distance looking on.

"Come," said Lancelot, "let us help these good fellows, who seem to be
overpowered."

"Lead on," said Lavaine. "I shall follow and do my best."

Then Lancelot, with the red sleeve fastened upon his helmet, rode into
the thickest of the press, and smote down such numbers of knights with
spear and sword that the party of the Round Table were forced to give
back, and their opponents came on with fresh heart. And close upon
Lancelot's track Lavaine smote down several good knights.

"Who can this wonderful fighter be?" asked Gawaine of the king.

"I know him well," said Arthur, "but will not name him since he is in
disguise."

"I could believe it was Lancelot," said Gawaine, "but for that red
sleeve. No man ever saw Lancelot wear a woman's token."

"Let him be," said Arthur. "He will be better known before he is done."

Then nine knights of Lancelot's kindred, angry at seeing this one
champion beat down all before him, joined together and pressed hotly
into the din, smiting down all that opposed them. Three of them--Bors,
Hector, and Lionel--spurred together on Lancelot, all striking him at
once with their spears. So great was their force that Lancelot's horse
was hurled to the ground, and his shield pierced by Bors, whose spear
wounded him in the side, breaking and leaving its head deep in the
flesh.

Seeing this misfortune, Lavaine spurred fiercely on the king of the
Scots, thrust him from his horse, and, in despite of them all, brought
that horse to Lancelot, and helped him to mount. Then, though so sorely
hurt, Lancelot drew his sword, and, aided by Lavaine, did such deeds of
arms as he had never surpassed in his hours of greatest strength. As the
chronicles say, that day he unhorsed more than thirty knights; and
Lavaine followed his example well, for he smote down ten Knights of the
Round Table in this his first tournament. So does a noble example stir
young hearts.

"I would give much to know who this valiant knight can be," said
Gawaine.

"He will be known before he departs," answered Arthur. "Trust me for
that."

Then the king blew to lodging, and the prize was given by the heralds to
the knight with the white shield who bore the red sleeve. Around
Lancelot gathered the leaders on his side, and thanked him warmly for
gaining them the victory.

"If I have deserved thanks I have sorely paid for them," said Lancelot,
"for I doubt if I escape with my life. Dear sirs, permit me to depart,
for just now I would rather have repose than be lord of all the world."

Then he broke from them and galloped away, though his wound forced
piteous groans from his steadfast heart. When out of sight of them all
he checked his horse, and begged Lavaine to help him dismount and to
draw the spear-head from his side.

"My lord," said Lavaine, "I would fain help you; yet I fear that to draw
the spear will be your death."

"It will be my death if it remains," said Lancelot. "I charge you to
draw it."

This Lavaine did, the pain being so deadly that Lancelot shrieked and
fell into a death-like swoon, while a full pint of blood gushed from the
wound. Lavaine stopped the bleeding as well as he could, and with great
trouble got the wounded knight to a neighboring hermitage, that stood in
front of a great cliff, with a clear stream running by its foot.

Here Lavaine beat on the door with the butt of his spear, and cried
loudly,--

"Open, for Jesus' sake! Open, for a noble knight lies bleeding to death
at your gate!"

This loud appeal quickly brought out the hermit, who was named Baldwin
of Brittany, and had once been a Round Table knight.



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