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After the mass they conversed together, and when Bevidere had
told all his lamentable tale, Lancelot's heart almost broke with sorrow.
He flung his arms abroad, crying,--

"Alas! who may trust this world?"

Then he kneeled, and prayed the bishop to shrive and absolve him,
beseeching that he might accept him as his brother in the faith. To this
the bishop gladly consented, and he put a religious habit on Lancelot,
who served God there night and day with prayers and fastings.

Meanwhile the army remained at Dover. But Lionel with fifteen lords rode
to London to seek Lancelot. There he was assailed by Mordred's friends,
and slain with many of his lords. Then Sir Bors bade the kings, with
their followers, to return to France. But he, with others of Lancelot's
kindred, set out to ride over all England in search of their lost
leader.

At length Bors came by chance to the chapel where Lancelot was. As he
rode by he heard the sound of a little bell that rang to mass, and
thereupon alighted and entered the chapel. But when he saw Lancelot and
Bevidere in hermits' clothing his surprise was great, and he prayed for
the privilege to put on the same suit. Afterwards other knights joined
them, so that there were seven in all.

There they remained in penance for six years, and afterwards Sir
Lancelot took the habit of a priest, and for a twelvemonth he sang mass.
But at length came a night when he had a vision that bade him to seek
Almesbury, where he would find Guenever dead. Thrice that night was the
vision repeated, and Lancelot rose before day and told the hermit of
what he had dreamed.

"It is from God," said the hermit. "See that you make ready, and disobey
not the warning."

So, in the early morn, Lancelot and his fellows set out on foot from
Glastonbury to Almesbury, which is little more than thirty miles. But
they were two days on the road, for they were weak and feeble with long
penance. And when they reached the nunnery they found that Guenever had
died but half an hour before.

The ladies told Lancelot that the queen had said,--

"Hither cometh Lancelot as fast as he may to fetch my corpse. But I
beseech Almighty God that I may never behold him again with my mortal
eyes."

This, said the ladies, was her prayer for two days, till she died. When
Lancelot looked upon her dead face he wept not greatly, but sighed. And
he said all the service for the dead himself, and in the morning he sang
mass.

Then was the corpse placed in a horse-bier, and so taken to Glastonbury
with a hundred torches ever burning about it, and Lancelot and his
fellows on foot beside it, singing and reading many a holy orison, and
burning frankincense about the corpse.

When the chapel had been reached, and services said by the hermit
archbishop, the queen's corpse was wrapped in cered cloth of Raines,
thirty-fold, and afterwards was put in a web of lead, and then in a
coffin of marble.

But when the corpse of her whom he had so long loved was put in the
earth, Lancelot swooned with grief, and lay long like one dead, till the
hermit came and aroused him, and said,--

"You are to blame for such unmeasured grief. You displease God thereby."

[Illustration: Copyright by F. Frith and Co. Ltd., London, England.

THE OLD KITCHEN OF GLASTONBURY ABBEY.]

"I trust not," Lancelot replied, "for my sorrow is too deep ever to
cease. When I remember how greatly I am to blame for the death of this
noble King Arthur and Queen Guenever, my heart sinks within me, and I
feel that I shall never know a moment's joy again."

Thereafter he sickened and pined away, for the bishop nor any of his
fellows could make him eat nor drink but very little, but day and night
he prayed, and wasted away, and ever lay grovelling on the tomb of the
queen.

So, within six weeks afterwards, Lancelot fell sick and lay in his bed.
Then he sent for the bishop and all his fellows, and said with sad
voice: "Sir Bishop, I pray you give me all the rites that belong to a
Christian man, for my end is at hand."

"This is but heaviness of your blood," replied the bishop. "You shall be
well amended, I hope, through God's grace, by to-morrow morning."

"In heaven, mayhap, but not on earth," said Lancelot. "So give me the
rites of the church, and after my death, I beg you to take my body to
Joyous Gard, for there I have vowed that I would be buried."

When they had heard this, and saw that he was indeed near his end, there
was such weeping and wringing of hands among his fellows that they could
hardly help the bishop in the holy offices of the church. But that
night, after the midnight hour, as the bishop lay asleep, he fell into
such a hearty laugh of joy that they all came to him in haste, and asked
him what ailed him.

"Why did you wake me?" he cried. "I was never in my life so happy and
merry."

"Wherefore?" asked Sir Bors.

"Truly, here was Sir Lancelot with me, with more angels than I ever saw
men together; and I saw the angels bear him to heaven, and the gates of
heaven opened to him."

"This is but the vexation of a dream," said Sir Bors. "Lancelot may yet
mend."

"Go to his bed," said the hermit, "and you shall find if my dream has
meaning."

This they hastened to do, and there lay Lancelot dead, but with a smile
on his lips, and the sweetest savor about him they ever had known.

Great was the grief that followed, for never earthly man was mourned as
was Lancelot. In the morning, after the bishop had made a requiem mass,
he and his fellows put the corpse of the noble knight into the same
horse-bier that had borne Guenever, and the queen's corpse with it, and
they were taken together to Joyous Gard, with such state and ceremony as
befitted those of royal blood.

And there all the services of the church were sung and read, while the
face of Lancelot lay open for people to see; for such was then the
custom of the land. When the services were over they were buried in one
tomb, for so great had been their love during life that all men said
they should not be divided in death.

During these events, Sir Constantine, the noble son of Sir Cador of
Cornwall, had been chosen king of England in Arthur's place, and a
worthy monarch he proved, ruling the realm worshipfully and long.

After Lancelot's death the new king sent for the bishop of Canterbury,
and restored him to his archbishopric; but Sir Bevidere remained a
hermit at Glastonbury to his life's end.

King Constantine also desired the kindred of Lancelot to remain in his
realm; but this they would not do, but returned to their own country.
Four of them, Sir Bors, Sir Hector, Sir Blamor, and Sir Bleoberis, went
to the Holy Land, where they fought long and stoutly against the
Saracens. And there they died upon a Good Friday, for God's sake.

And so ends the book of the life and death of King Arthur and his noble
Knights of the Round Table, who were an hundred and fifty when they were
all together. Let us pray that God was merciful to them all.

THE END.


* * * * *

Transcriber's Notes:

1. Minor punctuation errors have been corrected as follows;

Pg. 12 - Added missing punctuation "?" (might champion?)

Pg. 188 - Added missing punctuation "." (and he did all.)

Pg. 270 - Added missing endquote ("This I say,")

Pg. 316 - Removed extra enquote (what will you do?)


2. Spelling corrections based upon correct spelling of the word
elsewhere in the text:

Pg. 39 - "grevious" to "grievous" (4) (grievous cry that)

Pg. 50 - "you" to "your" ("Knight, hold your hand.")

Pg. 83 - "Dinaden" to "Dinadan" (92) (Gareth and Dinadan also)

Pg. 94 - "seaside" to "sea-side" (8) (castle by the sea-side,)

Pg. 127 - "law" to "lay" (as he lay there asleep)

Pg. 143 - "Badgemagus" to "Bagdemagus" (11) (said Bagdemagus)

Pg. 159 - "Percival" to "Percivale" (94) (Percivale had returned)

Pg. 166 - "dressel" to "dressed" (old man dressed in a)

Pg. 189 - "this" to "his" (to his surprise and joy)

Pg. 202 - "Nacien" to "Nancien" (3) (once by Nancien)

Pg. 220 - "seem" to "seen" (and seen what you highly)

Pg. 238 - "befel" to "befell" (5) (it befell that Nimue)

Pg. 281 - "Turquin" to "Turquine" (2) (by Sir Turquine?)

Pg. 289 - "Tristam's" to "Tristram's" (313) (and Tristram's sake)

Pg. 298 - "wil" to "will" (361) (if you will receive)

Pg. 299 - "dishoner" to "dishonor" (12) (naught to her dishonor.)


3. Words where both versions appear in this text and have been retained.

"threescore" (2) and "three-score"

"King Astlabor" (p. 87) and "King Astlobar" (p. 90)


4. Known English Archaic words used in this text:

"emprise" (prowess/daring)

"guerdon" (reward)

"halidom" (a thing considered holy)

"leman" (sweetheart)

"lief" (dear)

"woful" (3) (now woeful)

"villanous" (6) and villany (3) (now var. of villian* (10))



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