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The Quest of the Holy Grail

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Author Topic: The Quest of the Holy Grail  (Read 584 times)
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« Reply #15 on: August 20, 2007, 12:27:26 am »

“Once upon a time it happened, full forty years after the Passion of Jesus Christ, that Nascien, the brother-in-law of King Mordrain, was transported in a cloud more than fourteen days distant from his country by the command of Our Lord to an isle near the western country called ‘the Turning Island.’ When he arrived there, it happened that he found this ship, in which we are, at the entrance of a rock. And when he had entered it, he found this couch and this sword just as you see it now, and he looked at it a long time and desired greatly to possess it. Yet he did not dare to draw it forth. Thus he continued desiring and yearning to possess it. Eight days he tarried in the ship, almost depriving himself of drink and food. On the ninth day it happened that a great and marvellous wind arose and carried him away from the Turning Island to another isle far removed in the west. There he arrived directly upon a rock. And when he went on land, he encountered the biggest and most marvellous giant in the world who cried out to him that he was a dead man. And he was indeed in mortal fear when he saw this devil running toward him. But when he looked about him, he saw nothing with which to defend himself. Then he ran to the sword, like one driven by the fear and terror of death, and drew it from the scabbard. When he saw it bared, he prized it more than anything else, and began to wave it aloft; but at the first flourish the sword broke in half. Then he said that he must rightly blame the thing which he had prized most in the world, because it had failed him in his great need.
“Then he replaced the pieces of the sword on the bed, and springing forth from the ship, he attacked the giant and killed him. Then he returned to the ship. And when the wind struck the sail, he journeyed across the sea until he met another ship belonging to King Mordrain, who had been fiercely attacked and assailed by the enemy at the rock of the Port Perilous. When they beheld each other, they were very glad like men who loved each other with a great affection. Each asked the other how he was and what adventures had befallen him. Finally Nascien said: ‘Sire, I do not know what you will think of the adventures I have had. But since you saw me last, I say that one of the most marvellous adventures has befallen me, such as I believe never happened to any man before.’ Then he told him about the precious sword, how it had broken in time of need when he was about to kill the giant with it. ‘Upon my word,’ he replied, ‘this is a strange story you tell. What did you do with this sword?’ ‘Sire,’ said Nascien, ‘I left it where I found it. You can see it for yourself if you please, for it is here within.’ Then King Mordrain left his ship and came aboard Nascien’s ship and approached the couch. And when he saw the pieces of the broken sword, he esteemed it more highly than anything he had ever seen. He said that it had not broken because of any weakness or flaw in the sword, but because of some significance, or because of some fault in Nascien. Then he took the two pieces and fitted them together. And as soon as the two pieces of steel were joined, he welded the sword together as readily as it had been broken. And when he saw this, he began to smile and said: ‘By God, marvellous is the virtue of Jesus Christ, who welds and breaks more quickly than one could suppose!’ Then he replaced the sword in its scabbard and laid it there where you see it now. Then straightway they heard a voice which said to them: ‘Now leave this ship and enter the other one, for however little you may fall into sin, if so be that you are discovered in sin while you are here, you cannot escape without peril.’ Thereupon they left that ship and entered the other. But as Nascien was passing from one to the other, he was struck so severely on the shoulder by a thrown sword that he fell back into the ship. As he fell, he cried: ‘Ah! God, how am I wounded!’ Then he heard a voice which said to him: ‘This is because of the crime you committed in drawing the sword, when you had no right to do so, not being worthy. Now take better care next time not to go against your Creator.’
“Thus, as I have told you, was realised the prophecy here written: ‘He who will prize me most will find greater cause to blame me in time of need.’ For he who most prized this sword was Nascien, and it failed him in his greatest need, as I have told you.”
“In God’s name,” said Galahad, “you have made this thing very clear to us. Now tell us how the other part turned out.”
“Willingly,” the damsel replied.
“True it is,” said she, “that King Parlan, who is called the Cripple King, so long as he was able to ride as a knight did much to exalt holy Christianity, and honoured the poor more than did anyone else known, and was of such an excellent character that his equal could not be found in Christendom. But one day he was hunting in a forest of his which stretched away to the sea, when he lost his dogs and huntsmen and all his knights save one who was his own cousin. When he saw that he had lost all his company, he knew not what to do; for he saw he was so deep in the forest that he did not know how to get out of it, not having learned the way. So he with his knight followed the road until he came to the shore of the sea toward Illande. And when he reached there, he found this ship in which we are; and he went on board and found the inscription that you have seen. When he saw it, he was not afraid, feeling that he had fallen short of none of the service which an earthly knight could render to Jesus Christ. Then he entered the ship all alone, for the knight his companion was not bold enough to enter. When he had found this sword, he drew it as far from the scabbard as you can see, for previously none of the blade had shown. He would presently have drawn it forth completely; but all at once there entered there a lance which smote him through the two thighs so grievously that he still remains wounded with it, as it appears, and has never been able to be cured, nor ever will be until you come to him. Thus he was injured as a result of his own boldness. And because of this vengeance they say that the sword was a curse to him which ought to have been, a blessing: for he was the best knight and the most worthy man who was then alive.”
“In God’s name, damsel,” they said, “you have told us enough to enable us to see that because of these words no one need fail to grasp this sword.”
Then they looked and saw that the bed was made of wood and was not a couch of cushions. In the middle of the front was a post standing straight up and fastened into the piece of wood which ran the length of the bed in front. Opposite to this post was another standing straight up and fixed to the other side of the bed. Between these two posts was the width of the bed, and over them and fastened to each of them was a smaller piece of wood cut square. The post standing in front was whiter than fallen snow; the one on the far side was as red as drops of blood; while the cross bar was as green as an emerald. The three pieces of wood were of these three colours; and you must know that the colours were natural and not painted, for they had not been laid on by hand of any mortal man or woman. Now, because people might hear this and think it was a lie, if they were not made to understand how it could come about, the story will turn aside a little from its course and subject to describe how these three pieces of wood came to be of three colours.

Chapter XI

Now the story of the Holy Grail tells at this point how it befell that the sinful Eve, who was the first woman, took counsel with the mortal enemy, that is the devil, who from that time began with his wiles to beguile the human race; and he incited her to mortal sin, namely covetousness, for which sin he had himself been cast forth from paradise and had been hurled down from the high glory of heaven, and he so stirred her disloyal desire that he made her pick the mortal fruit from the tree, and with the fruit a branch of the tree itself, as it often happens that the branch is detached with the fruit when picked. As soon as she had carried it to her husband Adam, he being urged and encouraged by her, seized it in such a way that he broke the fruit from the branch and ate it to his sorrow and to our great woe. And when he had broken it from the branch as you have heard, it happened that the branch remained in his wife’s hand, as one happens sometimes to hold something in one’s hands without noticing it. And as soon as they had eaten of the mortal fruit, which indeed ought to be called mortal since by it came death first to these two and later to us all, all the qualities changed which they had previously possessed, and they realised that they were of flesh and naked, who were before only creatures of the spirit, though they possessed bodies. The story, however, does not assert that they were completely spiritual; for anything formed of such vile matter as clay cannot be of such great purity. But they were spiritual in that they were created to live forever if they had refrained always from sin. When they looked at each other, they saw that they were naked and were aware of their uncomely parts; and they were ashamed in the presence of one another, so conscious were they already of their sin. Then they covered their uncomely parts with their two hands. Eve still had in her hand the branch which had been attached to the fruit, nor did she ever let go of this branch either before or afterward.
When He who knows all the thoughts and intents of the heart knew that they had thus sinned, He came to them and called first to Adam. It was just that he should be held responsible rather than his wife, for she was of a weaker character, having been formed from the rib of the man; and it was fitting that she should be obedient to him and not he to her; therefore He summoned Adam first. And when He had said to him His woeful words: “In the sweat of thy face thou shalt eat thy bread,” He did not intend that the woman should go free and not be a partaker in the punishment as she had been in the crime; and He said to her: “In sorrow thou shalt bring forth children.” Then He drove them both out from paradise, which the Scriptures call the paradise of delight. And when they were outside, Eve still held the branch in her hand unconsciously. But when she noticed the branch, she saw that it was still green as if it had just been picked. Then, knowing that the tree from which the branch had been plucked was the cause of her exile and woe, she said that, in memory of the great loss she had sustained through that tree, she would keep the branch as long as she could, so that she might see it often as a reminder of her great misfortune.
Then Eve bethought herself that she had no pot or box in which she could plant it, for in those days there were no such things. So she planted it in the earth, so that it stood up straight, and said that thus she could often see it. And the branch which was planted in the earth, by the will of the Creator whom all things obey, grew and thrived in the earth and took root.
This branch which the first sinful woman carried out of paradise was full of great significance. For in that she carried it in her hand, it signified great joy, as if she were speaking to her offspring who were to come after her, for as yet she was a virgin. The significance of the branch was as if she said to them: “Be not dismayed that we are cast out of our heritage: we have not lost it forever; behold here a sign that we shall some day be restored to it.” And if anyone should wish to ask of the book why the man did not carry the branch from paradise rather than the woman, because the man is above the woman, it replies that the carrying of the branch did not belong to the man but to the woman. For inasmuch as the woman carried it, it signified that by woman life was lost and by woman it would be restored. And further, it was an indication that the heritage which was lost for the time would be recovered by the Virgin Mary.
Now the story reverts to the branch planted in the earth, and says that it grew and multiplied so much that it was a great tree in a short time. And when it was tall and cast a shade, it was all white as snow on the trunk and the branches and the leaves. Now this was an emblem of virginity; for virginity is a virtue whereby the body is kept pure and the soul white. The fact that it was completely white signifies that she who had planted it was still a virgin at the time she planted it: for when Eve and Adam were cast out of paradise they were still pure and virgin as regards all filthiness and lust. Now be sure that virginity and maidenhood are not identical, for there is a great difference between them. Maidenhood cannot be compared with virginity, and I will tell you why. Maidenhood is a virtue possessed by all men and women who have had no carnal association. But virginity is a much higher and more virtuous quality: for no one can have it, whether man or woman, who has felt any lust for sexual union. This was the virginity possessed by Eve when she was cast out of paradise and the great delights that were there; and when she planted the branch, she had not yet lost virginity. But later God commanded Adam to know his wife, that is to lie with her, as nature requires that the man should lie with his wife and the wife with her husband. Then Eve lost her virginity and from that time forward their bodies were united.
Some time after he had known her as you have heard, it happened that they were sitting together beneath this tree. And Adam began to look at her and to pity her sorrow and exile. Then each began to weep for the other’s sake. Eve said it was not strange that in that spot they should remember their grief and sorrow; for the tree possessed that quality that no one could sit beneath it, however happy he might be, without going away sorrowful; and with good reason they were sorrowful, for this was the Tree of Death. As soon as she had said this, a voice was heard saying to them: “Ah! unhappy ones, why do you thus predict and foretell death to each other? Foretell nothing in despair, but comfort one another, for life avails more than death.” Thus spake the voice to the two wretched creatures; and they were greatly comforted, and from that time forward they called it the Tree of Life, and because of the great joy which they found in it they planted many others which were all scions of this one. As soon as they broke off a branch, they stuck it in the ground where it took root of itself, and always retained the colour of the parent tree.
The original tree continued to grow and develop. So it came to pass that Adam and Eve sat under it more gladly than they used to do. They were sitting there one day, which according to the story happened to be a Friday. When they had been there for some time together, they heard a voice speaking to them and commanding them to consummate their union. But at this they were both so full of shame that their eyes could not endure the sight of themselves so indecently employed, for the man was as much embarrassed as the woman. Yet they knew not how to dare to disobey Our Lord’s command, being still mindful of their punishment for their earlier disobedience. So they began to regard each other shamefacedly. Then Our Lord saw their confusion, and took pity on them. But since His commandment could not be disregarded, and since it was His wish to re-establish from these two the human line and thus restore the tenth legion of angels which had been cast down from heaven through pride, therefore He comforted them in their shame. For He set between them so great a darkness that neither of them could see the other. They were greatly astonished that such obscurity could come between them so suddenly. Then they called each other and blindly sought each other out. And because all things must be done as Our Lord commands, therefore they must needs join their bodies in intercourse as the true Father had commanded them. And when they had lain together, they planted new seed whereby their great sin was somewhat relieved; for Adam had begotten and Eve had conceived Abel the just, who first served his Creator acceptably by loyally rendering Him his tithes.
Thus was Abel the just begotten beneath the Tree of Life on a Friday, as you have heard. And when the darkness disappeared, they saw each other as before. Then they perceived that Our Lord had done this in order to spare their shame, and they were very glad. And at once there happened a marvellous thing, for the tree which before had been completely white, became as green as the grass of the field; and all those branches which were planted after they had lain together became green in the wood and the leaves and the bark.
Thus the tree was changed from white to green; but the earlier scions of the parent tree did not change their original colour, nor were they in any way affected. Only the tree itself was covered with green from top to bottom, and from that time it began to flower and to bear fruit, though it had never done so previously. When it lost its white colour and turned to green, it signified that virginity was gone from her who had planted it, and the green colour which it took on and the flower and the fruit signified the seed which had been sown beneath it, and that this seed would always be green in Our Lord, that is, would always be well and lovingly inclined toward its Creator. The blossom signified that the creature who had been begotten beneath this tree would be chaste and clean and pure of body. And the fruit signified that this creature would vigorously carry out and exemplify the cause of religion and goodness in all his earthly affairs.
Thus was this tree for a long time green as well as all those descended from it after the union of Adam and Eve. And after a while Abel had grown up and was so devoted and well disposed to his Creator that he gave to Him his tithes and the first-fruits of all the best he had. But Cain his brother did not so, taking the most vile and despicable things he had and offering them to his Creator. Therefore Our Lord gave such a blessing to him who rendered to Him his fairest tithes that when he had ascended up to the hill where he was accustomed to burn his sacrifices as Our Lord had commanded him, the smoke of them rose straight to heaven. But the smoke of his brother Cain did not rise in like manner, but spread over the fields, ugly, black and foul; while the smoke which rose from Abel’s sacrifice was white and of a pleasant odour. When Cain saw that his brother Abel was more blessed in his sacrifice than he, and that Our Lord received it more gladly than his, he was much displeased, and came to hate his brother beyond measure. Then he began to think how he could take vengeance upon him, and he said within himself that he would slay him: for he did not see any other way by which he could be avenged on him.
Thus Cain carried for a long time this hate in his heart, never betraying in his face or appearance anything by which his guileless brother might feel suspicious. So this hate was concealed until one day when Abel had gone some distance from his father’s house which stood at a distance from this tree, and near the tree were his flocks which he was watching. Now the day was warm and the sun was hot, so that Abel could not stand the heat, and he went to sit down beneath the tree. And feeling the desire to sleep, he lay down beneath the tree and began to doze. Then his brother, who had long planned this treachery, spied upon him and followed him until he saw him reclining beneath the tree. So he came up and thought to kill him before he should be discovered. But Abel heard him approach; and seeing that it was his brother, he rose to greet him, for he loved him dearly in his heart. And he said to him: “Welcome, fair brother!” And Cain returned his greeting and bade him sit down; but first he took a curved knife which he had with him, and thrust it into his breast.
Thus Abel was done to death by the hand of his disloyal brother on the very spot where he had been begotten. And just as he was begotten on a Friday, as the day is truly called, so he came to his death on a Friday by the same token. The death which Abel received by treason at a time when there were as yet only three men on earth signified the death of the true crucified One, for by Abel was He signified, and by Cain was Judas signified, through whom He received His death. Just as Cain saluted Abel his brother and then slew him, so Judas saluted his Lord, even when he had planned His death. Thus the two deaths agreed, not in importance, but in significance. For just as Cain slew Abel on a Friday, so
Judas killed his Lord on a Friday, not by his own hand to be sure, but by his betrayal. And Judas was signified by Cain in several respects, for he could find no occasion in Jesus Christ for which he should hate Him; but he found an unjust reason, for he hated Him not for any evil which he had found in Him, but just because he found nothing in Him but good. For it is common for all wicked men to regard good people with envy and hostility. And if Judas, who was so disloyal and treacherous, had found as much disloyalty and wickedness in Jesus Christ as he did in himself, he would not have hated Him, but he would have loved Him the more because he would have seen Him to be as he knew himself to be. Now concerning this treachery which Cain committed toward his brother Abel, Our Lord speaks in the Psalms by the mouth of King David who, though unconsciously, spoke a cruel word; for he spoke thus, as if he were saying to Cain: “Thou hast plotted and spoken wickedness against thy brother, and against the son of thy mother thou hast set thy treachery and thy traps. This thou didst, and I kept silence. And therefore thou thoughtest that I was like unto thee, because I said nothing. But I am not so, rather will I chastise thee and reprove thee sorely.”
This vengeance had been executed before David ever conceived of it, in that Our Lord came to Cain and said to him: “Cain, where is thy brother?” And he replied as one who knew that he was guilty of the treason he had worked and who had already covered his brother with the leaves of the tree in order that he might not be found. So when Our Lord asked him where his brother was, he replied: “Lord, I know not. Am I my brother’s keeper?” And Our Lord said to him: “What hast thou done? The voice of thy brother’s blood crieth unto Me from the ground. And because of what thou hast done, thou shalt be cursed upon the earth; and the earth shall be cursed in all the labour thou shalt perform, because it received thy brother’s blood, which thou didst treacherously spill upon it.”
Thus Our Lord cursed the earth, but He did not curse the tree under which Abel had been killed, nor the other trees which sprung from it, nor those which later were created by His will. In connection with this tree a great marvel came to pass, for as soon as Abel had come to his death beneath the tree, it lost its green colour and became red all over; this was in memory of the blood which had been shed there. But in the future all the shoots of it which they planted would not grow, but died and came to nothing. But the tree itself grew and flourished so marvellously that it became the finest tree that ever was seen and the most beautiful to look upon.
This tree continued for a long time with the colour and the beauty you have heard me describe, without ever growing old or withering or deteriorating in any way, except only that it bore no blossom or fruit from the hour that Abel’s blood was shed; but the others which had previously been cut from it flowered and bore fruit as trees usually do. So it remained as the years passed by and multiplied. And the descendants of Eve and Adam held it in great honour, and from one generation to another they told how the first mother had planted it. So old and young alike found solace under it, and came thither to be comforted when they were in any distress; wherefore it was called the Tree of Life, and served them as a joyful reminder. And if this tree grew and flourished, so did all the others derived from it, both those which were altogether white and those which were altogether green; and no one alive was so bold as to remove from it a branch or a leaf.
There was yet another marvel connected with this tree. For when Our Lord sent the flood upon the earth, by which the world perished in its wickedness, and the fruits of the earth and the forests and the fields had suffered so heavily that they could not henceforth have such a sweet savour as before, all things were then turned to bitterness. But as regards those trees which were descended from the Tree of Life, no one could observe that they had lost any savour or fruit or changed the colour which they had before.
These trees lasted in such fashion until Solomon, the son of David, reigned in succession to his father. This Solomon was so wise that he was furnished with all the goodly knowledge that the heart of a mortal man could compass, and he knew the strength of all precious stones and the virtues of all herbs, and the course of the heavens and the stars so thoroughly that none but God could know them better. Yet all his wisdom could not withstand the scheming of his wife, for she deceived him often whenever she tried to do so. But this ought to cause no surprise; for doubtless, when a woman sets her heart and her intention upon a scheme, no wisdom of mortal man can thwart her; and this is no new thing in our time, but began with our first mother.
When Solomon perceived that he could not cope with his wife’s wiles, he was greatly astonished that it should be so, and was much incensed. But he dared not take any further action: wherefore he said in his book called Proverbs: “I have searched the whole world through as thoroughly as a mortal man can search, and in all the journey I have not been able to find one good woman.” These words Solomon spoke in anger that he could not cope with his wife. And he tried in various ways to change her attitude of mind, but without success. Seeing this, he began to ask himself why woman liked to be such a trial to man. As he was pondering upon this question, a voice replied to his query: “Solomon, Solomon, if man sorrows because of woman, let not that worry thee. For by a woman there shall come to man a hundred times greater joy than this sorrow; and this woman shall spring from thy line.”
Upon hearing this, Solomon saw his folly in blaming his wife. Then he began to ponder those things that appeared to him when he was awake or asleep to see if he might discover the true end of his line. And he pondered and considered so long that the Holy Spirit revealed to him the coming of the glorious Virgin, and a voice declared to him a portion of what was to happen in the future. When he heard this news, he asked if she was to be the end of his line. “Nay,” said the voice; “a virgin man shall be the end of it, and he shall be as much finer a knight than thy brother-in-law Joshua as this Virgin shall be better than thy wife. Now I have given thee assurance concerning what had caused thee doubt.”
When Solomon heard these words, he said that he was very happy that the extreme limit of his line was to rest upon such an example of goodness and of illustrious knighthood. Then he thought how he could communicate to that last man of his line the fact that Solomon, who had lived so long before him, had had knowledge of his coming. Upon this he thought and pondered long: for he did not see how he could inform a man, who was to come so long after him, that he had known anything about him. Then his wife perceived that he was thinking about something which he could not decide. Now she loved him well enough, though not so much as many women love their husbands, and she was very shrewd. So she did not wish to ask him suddenly, but bided her time until she saw one evening that he was happy and glad and in a good humour. Then she begged him to answer her a question which she would ask; and he, not thinking of what she had in mind, said that he would gladly do so. Then she said to him straightway: “Sire, you have been much engaged in thought this week and last and for a long time, so that you have not ceased to be pensive. I can easily tell that you have been pondering about something which you have not been able to decide. Now I should be very glad to know what it is. For there is nothing in the world which I think we could not settle with your great wisdom and my great cunning.”
Thereupon Solomon thought that, if mortal heart could reach any decision on this matter, she would be the one to do it; for he had found her to be so shrewd that he did not believe there was any soul in the world capable of equalling her shrewdness. Therefore he was disposed to tell her his thoughts, and he told her the truth in full. And when he had told her, she thought a little and then replied at once: “So you are puzzled as to how you can inform this knight that you have known the truth about him?” “Yes,” said he, “but I do not see how it can be done. For it is such a long interval from now until his time that I am completely at a loss.” “Upon my word,” said she, “since you do not know how to do it, I shall show you. But tell me first how long you think it will be before his time.” And he replied that he thought it would be two thousand years and more. “Now I will tell you what to do,” said she: “build a ship of the finest and most durable wood you can find, and such as neither water nor anything else will rot.” And he replied that he would do so. The next day Solomon sent for all the workers in wood in his land, and commanded them to make the most marvellous ship that ever was seen, and of such wood as would not rot. And when they had selected the wood and the timbers, and had begun the construction, his wife said to Solomon: “Sire, since you say that this knight is destined to excel in chivalry all those who have been before him or who shall come after him, it would be a great honour for you to prepare for him some armour which would surpass in excellence all other armour just as he is to surpass all other knights in goodness.” But he said that he did not know where to find such armour as she indicated. “I will show you,” said she: “in the temple which you have built in honour of your Lord is your father David’s sword. the keenest and most marvellous sword that was ever handled by a knight. Take it and remove the pommel and the hilt, so that we may have the blade remaining alone. Then you, who know the virtue of precious stones and the strength of the herbs and the properties of everything on earth, make a pommel of precious stones so skilfully joined together that no one on earth can tell where one is separated from another, but everyone who sees it will think that it is all one stone. Then make a hilt so marvellous that there shall be none in the world so excellent or wonderful. Then make a scabbard as remarkable in its turn as the sword is itself. And when you have done all this, I will attach the belt in accordance with my own ideas.”
And he did all that she said, except in regard to the pommel, where he set only one stone, but it was of all the colours one could mention; and he made a marvellous hilt which is described in another place.
When the ship was finished and launched, the lady had a large and wonderful bed placed in it, with many cushions, so that the bed was elegant and comfortable. At the head of the bed the king put his crown, and covered it with a white silk cloth. He had given the sword to his wife in order that she might attach the belt, and said to her: “Bring back the sword, and I will put it at the foot of the bed.” So she brought it; and he looked at it, and saw that she had attached to it a belt of tow. At this he was very angry, but she said to him: “Sire, know that I have nothing fine enough to be worthy to hold such a sword as this.” “Then what can be done about it?” he asked. “Leave it the way it is,” she answered, “for it is not our business to employ some suitable material; some damsel will do that eventually, but I know not when.” Thereupon the king left the sword as it was. Then they had the ship enveloped in silken cloth which would not rot from water or anything else. When they had done this, the lady looked at the bed and said that it still lacked one thing.
Then she and two carpenters went out to the tree under which Abel had been slain. And when she had come to it, she said to the carpenters: “Cut enough wood from this tree to make a plank.” “Ah! lady,” they said, “we do not dare. Know you not that this is the tree which our first mother planted?” “You must do it,” she replied, “or I shall have you put to death.” Then they said that they would do it since they were forced to do so, for they would rather do wrong than be put to death. So they began at once to cut into the tree; but they had not made much progress when they were filled with terror: for they saw clearly that from the tree there issued drops of blood as red as a rose. So they wished to stop cutting; but she made them continue, whether they wished to do so or not. Finally, they cut away enough to make a plank. Next, she made them take one of the green coloured trees which were sprung from the others, and then one of the others which were completely white.

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« Reply #16 on: August 20, 2007, 12:27:57 am »

When they were furnished with these three kinds of wood of different colours, they returned to the ship. Then she entered it, and making the others follow her, she said to them: “I wish you to make of this lumber three planks, one for this side of the bed, and one for the other, and the third to reach over from one to the other and to be fastened to each.” And they made them as she had commanded and fastened the planks, and none of them has ever changed its colour so long as the ship has endured. When they had done this, Solomon surveyed the ship, and said to his wife: “Thou hast accomplished marvels,” he said, “for if all the people in the world were here, they could not guess the meaning of this ship unless Our Lord revealed it to them, and even thou, who hast made it, dost not know its significance. Yet not from anything that thou hast made can the knight learn that I have had tidings of him, unless Our Lord makes some other provision.” “Well, let that be now,” said she, “for in time you will hear news about that other than you now expect.”
That night Solomon lay with a small company in his tent beside the ship. And when he had gone to sleep, it seemed to him that from heaven there came a man with a great number of angels who came down into the ship. When he had gone in, he took the water which one of the angels carried in a silver vessel, and sprinkled all the ship with it; then he came to the sword and wrote letters on the pommel and the hilt; then he went to the side of the ship and also traced some letters there. When he had done this, he went and lay down upon the bed, after which Solomon never knew what became of him, for he vanished with all his company.
At dawn next day, as soon as Solomon was awake, he came to the ship and found an inscription on the side which said: “Hear, thou man, who wouldst enter me, see that thou enter not unless thou art full of faith, for I am nothing if not faith and belief. And as soon as thou desert thy faith, I will desert thee so that thou shalt receive no comfort or aid from me; rather will I let thee go the moment thou art tainted with unbelief.”
When Solomon saw these words, he was so abashed that he dared not go on board, but instead drew back; and the ship was straightway put out to sea and it sailed away so swiftly that in a little while it was out of sight. And he sat down upon the seashore and began to think about this. Then a voice came down and spoke to him: “Solomon, the last knight of thy race shall lie upon this bed which thou hast made, and shall receive tidings of thee.” At this Solomon was very glad, and he awoke his wife and those who were with him and told them what had happened; and he gave his friends and strangers to know how his wife had accomplished what he had not known how to undertake. And for the same reason as the book has explained to you, the story also tells why the ship was constructed, and why and how the planks came naturally to be of white, green and red colour without the use of any paint. So now the story says no more of that, and speaks of something else.
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« Reply #17 on: August 20, 2007, 12:28:56 am »

Chapter XII

Now the story tells that the three companions looked for a long time at the bed and the planks until they were sure that the planks were of natural colour and not painted; at which they marvelled greatly, for they did not understand how such a thing could have happened. And when they had sufficiently gazed at them, they lifted the cloth and saw beneath it the crown of gold, and beneath the crown a very handsome wallet. Perceval took it and opened it and found within a letter. When the others saw it, they said that if God willed, this letter would assure them regarding the ship, whence it came and who built it originally. Then Perceval began to read what was in the letter and explained to them the nature of the planks and of the ship as told in the story. All present wept as they listened, for it called to their mind matters of great importance connected with people of high lineage.
When Perceval had read to them concerning the nature of the ship and of the planks, Galahad said: “Fair lords, now it behoves us to seek the damsel who is to remove this belt and fasten a different one; for until that is done no one must move this sword from here.” But they said that they knew not where to find her. “However,” said they, “we will gladly look for her, since so it must be done.” When the damsel who was Perceval’s sister heard them discussing thus, she said to them: “My lords, be not dismayed, for if it please God, before we go hence, the cords of the belt shall be attached, as handsome and rich as they ought to be.” Then the damsel opened a casket which she had and drew out some cords richly woven of gold, of silk and of hair. The hair was so fair and bright that it could hardly be distinguished from the threads of gold. And in them were set rich precious stones, together with two golden buckles so fine that their equals could scarce be found. “Fair lords,” said she, “behold the belt which is to be fastened here. You must know that I made it of the most precious thing that belonged to me, that is, of my hair. And if I valued it, it is not strange, for on the day of Pentecost when you were made a knight, sire,” said she to Galahad, “I had the finest head of hair any woman in the world. But as soon as I knew that the adventure was assigned to me and that I must execute it I quickly had my head shorn, and I made these tresses as you can see.”
“In God’s name, damsel,” said Bors, “you are indeed welcome! For you have delivered us from the great difficulty in which we were, if it had not been for what you say.” Then she went to the sword and removed the cords of tow and attached those others as skilfully as if she had done it all her life. When she had finished, she said to the companions: “Do you know the name of this sword?” “Nay, damsel,” they replied, “you it is who must give it a name, in accordance with what the inscription says.” “Know then,” said she, “that the sword is named ‘the Sword with the strange belt,’ and the scabbard is named ‘Memory of blood.’ For no one with intelligence can see the part of the scabbard which was formed from the Tree of Life but should be reminded of Abel’s blood.”
When they heard this, they said to Galahad: “Now we pray you in the name of Our Lord Jesus Christ, and in order that all chivalry may be dignified, gird on the Sword with the strange belt, which has been so earnestly desired in the kingdom of Logres that not even the apostles ever longed so for Our Lord.” For because of this sword they felt sure that the marvels of the Holy Grail would terminate as well as the perilous adventures which befell them each day. “Then let me first,” said Galahad, “perform the rite connected with the sword. For no one should have it who cannot seize the pommel. In this way you can easily see that it is not for me, if I fail in the attempt.” And they said that that was right. So he put his hand upon the hilt; and it came to pass that when he grasped it his fingers more than encompassed it. When they saw this, his companions said to Galahad: “Sire, now we know that it is yours; there can be no further objection to your girding it on.” Then he drew it from the scabbard and saw that it was so bright and fair that one could behold himself in it as in a mirror; and he prized it more than anything in the world. Then Galahad returned it to the scabbard. And the damsel loosed his own sword for him, and girded on this one by the belt. And when she had hung it at his side, she said: “Certainly, sire, I care not now when I die, for I consider myself henceforth as the most favoured damsel in the world, in having knighted the worthiest man of the age. For know that you were not properly a knight when you carried the sword which you wore when you entered this land.” “Damsel,” Galahad replied, “you have done so much that I shall be your knight forevermore. Many thanks for all you have said.” “Now we can leave here,” she said, “and go to attend to our other affairs.” And they left the ship and went to the rock. Then Perceval said to Galahad: “Surely, sire, no day shall ever pass without my thanking Our Lord that it pleased Him to give me a part in accomplishing such a noble adventure as this has been: for it is the most wonderful I have ever seen.”
When they had come to their own ship, they went aboard; and the wind struck the sail so that it soon carried them from the rock. And when the night fell, they began to wonder if they were near land. And each one had to say that he did not know. That night they spent at sea, and neither ate nor drank, for they were without food. But the next day they arrived at a town called Carcelois in the march of Scotland. When they had gone ashore and had thanked Our Lord who had enabled them safely to accomplish the adventure of the sword, they entered the town. When they had passed through the gate, the damsel said to them: “My lords, we have come to a bad port: for if it is known that we are of King Arthur’s household, we shall be at once attacked, for he is hated here more than any man.” “Now, damsel, do not be dismayed,” said Bors, “for He who delivered us from the rock will deliver us from here when it is His will.”
While they were speaking thus, a valet came to meet them who inquired: “Sir knights, who are you?” And they replied: “We belong to King Arthur’s household.” “Then in truth,” said he, “upon my word you have come to a bad place.” With that, he returned toward the main fortress; and it was not long before they heard a horn which might be heard all over the town. Then a damsel approached and asked them whence they came. And they told her. “Ah! my lords,” said she, “return now if you can! For, so help me God, you are come to your death; so I would honestly advise you to return before the people here can surprise you within their walls.” But they said that they would not turn back. “Then do you wish to die?” she asked. “Now do not be dismayed,” they said. “For He in whose service we are engaged will conduct us.” Thereupon they saw approaching them down the main street ten armed knights who told them to surrender or they would kill them. But they replied that they had no thought of surrendering. “Then you are done for,” the others said. With that, they charged upon their steeds. But though they were numerous and were mounted instead of on foot, yet our knights feared them not and drew their swords. Perceval struck one and knocked him from his horse; then he took the horse himself and mounted, as Galahad had already done. As soon as they were mounted, they began to beat down and kill the others, and they secured a horse for Bors. When the others saw that they were being so roughly handled, they turned to flight, and were pursued as far as the citadel where they took refuge.
When they went up into the great hall, they met other knights and men-at-arms who were arming themselves because of the cry they had heard in the town. When the three companions, who had pressed after the others on horseback, saw all these men taking their arms, they ran at them with swords drawn, killing them and beating them down like dumb cattle. They defended their lives as best they could, but in the end were forced to turn and run. For Galahad did such wonders and slew so many of them that they thought it could not be a mortal man, but some devil who had rushed in to destroy them. At last, when they saw that they could not hold out, those who could escaped through the doors, and others broke their necks, legs and arms by leaping from the windows.
When the three companions saw that the palace was cleared, they surveyed the bodies of those whom they had killed and felt guilty for the havoc they had wrought, saying that they had done wrong to kill so many folk. “To be sure,” said Bors, “I cannot think that Our Lord cared much for them, that they should have been so punished. Perchance they have been some faithless and renegade people, who have sinned so grievously against Our Lord that He did not wish them to live any longer, and sent us here to destroy them.” “That is not enough to say,” Galahad replied, “for if they have wronged Our Lord, vengeance was not ours to take, but His who waits until the sinner recognises the evil of his ways. So, for my part, I shall never be at peace until, if it be Our Lord’s pleasure, I know the true significance of what we have done here.”
While they were speaking thus, a worthy man came out of one of the adjoining rooms. He was a priest and garbed in white. and was carrying the Eucharist in a chalice. When he saw all the dead bodies in the hall, he was aghast. So he drew back, not knowing what to do at the sight of so many men lying dead. Then Galahad, who had seen what he was carrying, doffed his helmet in his presence, knowing well that the priest was afraid. Then he checked his companions and, approaching the good man, he said: “Sire, why do you draw back? You need have no fear of us.” “Who are you?” the worthy man inquired, to which they replied that they were of King Arthur’s household. When the worthy man heard this, he quickly recovered from his fear and, being at ease in his mind again, he asked Galahad to tell him how these knights had been killed. Then he told him how they three, companions in the Quest, had made their way in thither, and how there they had been attacked; but their opponents had been discomfited, as could readily be seen. When he had heard this, he said: “Sire, be sure that you have done the best job that ever knights performed. If you should live as long as the world endures, I do not think that you could render again such a service as this. I am persuaded that Our Lord sent you here to perform this task. For there were no people in the world who hated Our Lord so much as did the three brothers who held this town. In their great disloyalty they had brought the people of this town to a state in which they were worse than Saracens and did nothing but what was against God and Holy Church.” “Sire,” said Galahad, “I was very regretful that I had killed them. supposing them to be Christians.” “Never regret what you have done,” said the worthy man, “but rejoice in it. For I tell you truly that Our Lord is grateful to you for killing them; for they were no Christians, but the most disloyal folk I have ever seen; and I will tell you how I know that.
“A year ago the lord of this town where we are was Count Hernolx. He had three sons, who were quite good knights-at-arms, and the most beautiful daughter in the country-side. These three brothers loved their sister with such an insane love that in their lust for her they lay with her and violated her; and when she dared to bewail her fate to her father, they killed her. When the count learned of this treachery, he tried to drive them from his presence; but not allowing that, they took their father and cast him into prison and wounded him severely and would have put him to death, had not a brother of his rescued him. When they had done all this, they began to commit every kind of treachery, for they slew clerks and priests and monks and abbots and destroyed two chapels which used to be here. Since then they have committed so many crimes that it is a wonder that they have not been destroyed long ago. But this very morning it happened that their father, who was lying ill or rather, as I think, on his death-bed, sent for me to come bearing the sacrament as you saw. And I was glad to go to him, as he had formerly held me dear. But as soon as I had entered here, they treated me so shamefully that if the Saracens had held me they could not have used me worse. All this I willingly endured, for the love of that Lord in whose despite they were acting thus. When I came to the prison where the count was, and told him the shameful way they had treated me, he said: ‘Never mind; your shame as well as mine will be avenged by three servants of Jesus Christ: for this the High Master has announced to me.’ From this you can judge that Our Lord will not be angry at what you have done; on the contrary, you may be sure that He sent you hither precisely to slay and discomfit them. And before the day is over you shall see a still clearer proof that this is true.”
Then Galahad called his other companions and told them what the good man had said to him, how the people of the place, whom they had put to death, were the most wicked people in the world; and he told them about the father of the three knights, whom they held in prison, and why they did so. When Bors heard this news, he said: “My lord Galahad, did I not tell you that Our Lord had sent us here to take vengeance on them for their outrageous conduct? Surely, had it not pleased Our Lord, we three could never have killed so many men in such a short time.” Then they had Count Hernolx brought out from his prison; and when they had brought him into the palace and had placed him in the great hall, they found that he was at the point of death. Nevertheless, as soon as he perceived Galahad, he knew him, not because he had ever seen him before, but Our Lord’s power enabled him. Then the count began to weep softly, and he said: “Sire, we have long awaited your coming, until now, thank God, we have you. But for God’s sake hold me upon your knees, so that my soul may rejoice that my body shall pass away supported by such a man as you.” And Galahad gladly complied with his request. And as he held him in his bosom, the count drooped over like one who was in the death-agony and said: “Fair Father in heaven, into Thy hand I commend my soul and spirit!” Then he bent over altogether and so remained until they supposed he was dead. Yet after a while he spoke again, and said: “Galahad, the High Master sends you word that you have so well avenged Him of His adversaries to-day that the company in heaven is rejoicing over it. Now you must betake yourself to the Cripple King as quickly as you can in order that he may receive the cure for which he has so long waited: for he is to receive it when you arrive. So start as soon as you have an opportunity.”
Thereupon he ceased speaking and at once the soul left his body. When those in the town who were still alive saw that the count was dead, they made a great lament, for they had loved him dearly. And when the body was prepared with all the honour owing to such a high personage, they gave out the news of his death. Then all the monks in the neighbourhood came and buried the body in a hermitage.
Next day the three companions left there and set out upon their road, Perceval’s sister still accompanying them. And they rode until they came to the Forest Gaste. And when they had entered the forest, they looked and saw approaching the White Stag escorted by the four lions which Perceval had seen once before. “Galahad,” said Perceval, “here is a wondrous sight: for upon my word, I have never seen a stranger thing. I really believe that these lions are protecting the Stag; I shall never be satisfied until I know the explanation of it.” “In God’s name,” said Galahad, “I too should like to know. Let us follow him until we know where he has his retreat. For I believe that this adventure comes from God.” To this they willingly agreed.
Then they followed the Stag until they came into a valley. There they looked about them and in a little thicket espied a hermitage where an excellent old man dwelt. The Stag and the lions having gone in, the knights who were following dismounted upon reaching the hermitage. Turning toward the chapel, they saw the worthy man dressed in his vestments, about to begin the mass of the Holy Spirit. When the companions saw this, they said that they had arrived at a fortunate moment, and they tarried to hear the mass which the old man celebrated. When they came to the moment when the Host was elevated, the three companions had reason to marvel even more than before. For, as it seemed to them, they saw the Stag become a very man, seated above the altar on a beautiful rich seat, and they saw the lions were also changed - one into the form of a man, the second into the form of an eagle, the third into the form of a lion, and the fourth into the form of an ox. Thus the lions were transformed, and they had wings, so that they could have flown, had it pleased Our Lord. Then they seized the seat in which the Stag was seated, two in front and two behind, and they passed out through a glass window which was there, though the window was not in the least broken or injured. When they had gone and those left behind saw nothing more of them, a voice descended to them which said: “In like fashion the Son of God entered the blessed Virgin Mary without harming or injuring her virginity.”
When they heard these words, they fell prostrate upon the ground. For the voice had come upon them like a bolt of lightning and a crash of thunder, and it seemed to them that the chapel had fallen down. When they regained their strength, they saw the worthy man was removing his vestments, having finished the mass. So they came and asked him to tell them the meaning of what they had witnessed. “What have you seen?” he inquired. “We saw,” they replied, “a stag changed into the form of a man, and also the lions changed into something else.” When the hermit heard this, he said to them: “Ah! my lords, you are welcome. Now I know by what you tell me that you are worthy men and true knights, who will accomplish the Quest of the Holy Grail, and who will endure great pains and labours. For you are they to whom Our Lord has revealed His secrets and His mysteries. He has already shown you a part of these; for in showing you the stag transformed into a celestial man, who is not mortal, He has revealed to you the transformation which He underwent upon the cross: in that He was clothed with an earthly garment, that is with mortal flesh, in dying He conquered death and secured eternal life. And it is fitting that He should be represented by the stag. For just as the stag is rejuvenated by shedding its skin and a part of its coat, so was Our Lord reborn from death to life when He parted with His tenement of clay, namely, the mortal flesh which He had assumed in the blessed Virgin’s womb. And because in the blessed Virgin there was no taint of human sin, He appeared in the guise of a white stag without blemish. By those who were with Him you must understand the four evangelists, blessed persons who set down in writing a part of the acts of Jesus Christ which He performed while among us as mortal man. Learn now that never before has any knight been able to know the truth of what this can be. Yet the Blessed One, the High Lord, has in this and in many lands appeared to good men and knights in the form of a stag accompanied by four lions, in order that they seeing Him might learn a lesson thereby. But be very sure that henceforth no one shall ever see Him again in such wise.”
Upon hearing this, they wept with joy and thanked Our Lord that He had revealed this to them openly. All that day they tarried with the hermit. And when they had heard mass next morning and were compelled to leave, Perceval took the sword which Galahad had left, and said that he would carry it henceforth, leaving his own behind with the hermit.
When they had gone away and had ridden until after midday, they drew near to a strong and well-situated castle. But they did not enter, for their road lay in another direction. And when they were some distance from the principal gate, they saw coming after them a knight who said: “My lords, is that damsel whom you have with you a virgin?” “Upon my word,” Bors replied, “you may be sure she is.” When he heard that, he put out his hand and seized the damsel’s bridle, and said: “By the holy Cross, you shall not escape me until you have observed the custom of this castle.” When Perceval saw that the knight had arrested his sister in this fashion, he was much displeased and said: “Sir knight, you are not justified in speaking thus. For, wherever she may pass, a maid is exempt from all customs, especially so gentle a lady as this who is the daughter of a king and queen.” While they were conversing thus, there issued from the castle ten armed knights having with them a damsel who held a silver basin in her hand. And they said to the three companions: “Fair lords, it is urgently required of this damsel whom you escort that she comply with the custom of this castle.” Then Galahad inquired what the custom was. “Sire,” one of the knights replied, “every virgin who passes here must fill this basin with blood from her right arm, and none may pass without fulfilling this requirement.” “A curse upon the false knight,” said Galahad, “who established such a vile and wicked custom! So help me God! in the case of this damsel you are in error; for so long as I have strength and she trusts in me, she shall not give you what you require.” “So help me God!” said Perceval, “I too would sooner die!” “And I too,” said Bors. “Upon my word,” the knight replied, “then you shall all three die; for you could not withstand us, were you the best knights in the whole world.”
Then they attacked each other. And it came to pass that before their lances were splintered, the three companions defeated the ten knights. Then they took their swords in hand and went about slaying and cutting them down like cattle. And they would easily have killed them all, had not sixty armed knights come forth from the castle to succour them. In advance of them came an old man who said to the three companions: “Fair lords, have mercy upon yourselves and be not the cause of your own death; that would certainly be too bad, for you are worthy men and good knights. Therefore, we would request you to perform what we ask of you.” “Surely,” said Galahad, “you speak in vain; for it shall never be done while she trusts in me.” “What,” said the other, “do you wish to die?” “We have not reached that point yet,” said Galahad, “but certainly we would rather die than suffer such an indignity as you require.” Then the great and marvellous struggle began afresh on both sides, and the companions were attacked from every quarter. But Galahad, who wielded the Sword with the strange belt, struck out to right and left, killing all whom he reached, and performed such wonders that all who saw him thought he could not be a mortal man, but rather some monster. He advanced steadily, without ever turning back, and gaining ground from his enemies. His companions aided him valiantly to right and left, so that none could approach him except directly in front.
Thus the battle lasted until after the noon hour without the three companions feeling any fear or losing any ground. Indeed, they maintained themselves until dark night came on, compelling them to separate, when those from the castle said that the struggle would have to be given up. Then the good man, who had before addressed the three companions, approached them again and said: “My lords, we beseech you in love and courtesy to bide to-night with us, promising loyally to restore you tomorrow in as good condition as you are now. And do you know why I say this? I am sure that as you know the facts in the case, you will permit the damsel to do what we request of her.” “My lords,” said the damsel, “go, since he invites you.” So they agreed at once. Then they made a truce and all entered the castle together. Never was such a joyful reception given to anyone as the inhabitants gave to the three companions. They made them dismount and remove their arms. And when they had eaten their meal, they asked them about the custom of the castle and how and why it had been established. Then one of the inhabitants promptly said: “That we can easily explain to you.
“The fact is that there is here a damsel to whom we and all the people of the country belong, as well as of this and many another castle. Now it came to pass two years ago that she fell ill by Our Lord’s desire. And when she had languished long, we studied to see what illness she had. And we perceived that she was full of the disease called leprosy. Then we sent for all the physicians from near and far, but none of them could enlighten us regarding her malady. At last a wise man informed us that if we could get a basin full of blood from a damsel who was a virgin both in spirit and in fact, provided she were the daughter of a king and queen and a sister to the chaste Perceval, and then if we should bathe her with this blood, she would be promptly cured. When we heard this, we made it a rule that no damsel should pass by here, provided she were a virgin, without our getting a basin of her blood. So we set guards at the castle gates to stop all those damsels who passed this way. Now you have heard how the custom of the castle was established as you have encountered it. And now you may do about it what you please.”
Then the damsel summoned the three companions and said to them: “My lords, you see that this damsel is ill, and that her illness or recovery depends upon me. Now tell me what to do.” “In God’s name,” said Galahad, “if you who are so young and tender do this thing, you cannot avoid death yourself.” “In faith,” she replied, “were I to die for the sake of this cure, it would be a great honour to me and to all my kin. And I ought to do it, partly for your sake and partly for theirs. For if you fight again to-morrow as you have done to-day, greater damage will inevitably result than from my death. So I tell you that I shall comply with their desire, and the strife will cease. So I pray you for God’s sake to grant me your permission.” Then they grew very sad.
Then the damsel summoned the people of the place and said to them: “Rejoice and be glad. For there will be no battle to morrow: I promise you that to-morrow I shall carry out the obligation to you as damsels are required to do.” When the people heard this, they thanked her very heartily, and began to rejoice and make merry more than they had done before. They served the companions to the extent of their power and gave them the richest beds they could. That night the three companions were well received, and they would have been still more so, had they been willing to take all that was offered them.
Next morning, when they had heard mass, the damsel came to the palace and ordered them to bring in the damsel who was ill and who was to be cured by her blood. And they said that they would bring her gladly. Then they went to get her in the room where she was. When the companions beheld her, they were greatly astonished; for her face was so disfigured and diseased with the marks of leprosy that it was a marvel how she could live in such distress. When they saw her enter, they arose and made her sit down with them. Then at once she bade the damsel make the sacrifice which she had promised her. And she said she was ready to do so. Then the damsel ordered a basin to be brought. When it was brought, she bared her arm and had one of her veins punctured with a little blade as sharp as a razor. The blood spurted out at once, and she crossed herself and commended herself into Our Lord’s keeping, adding to the lady: “Lady, I have submitted to death that you might be healed. For God’s sake, pray for my soul, for I am at death’s door.”
Upon speaking thus, she fainted from loss of blood, for the basin was already full. The companions ran to support her and to stanch the flow of blood. When she had lain in a swoon for some time and was able to speak again, she said to Perceval: “Ah! fair brother Perceval, I am dying that this damsel may be healed. I pray you not to bury my body in this country, but as soon as I shall have passed away, place me in a little boat in the nearest port, and set me adrift whither chance may carry me. And I tell you that you cannot so quickly reach the city of Sarraz, whither you must go after the Holy Grail, but you will find me already arrived at the foot of the tower. In my honour have my body buried in the church. Do you know why I require this of you? Because Galahad and you shall lie there too.”

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« Reply #18 on: August 20, 2007, 12:29:27 am »

When Perceval heard this, he wept and willingly promised to do what she had said. Then she added: “Start to morrow, and let each one go his own way until fortune shall unite you at the Cripple King’s. For this is the will of the High Master, who issues the command through me in order that you may obey.” And they said that they would do so. Then she requested to have her Saviour brought in. So they sent for a worthy hermit who dwelt in a grove quite near the castle. He did not delay his coming, for he saw that the need was urgent. So he came to the damsel, and when she saw him approach, she stretched out her hands toward her Saviour, and very devoutly received Him. Then she died, and the companions were so overcome with grief that they thought they could never be comforted.
That very day the lady was cured. For as soon as she had washed in the blood of the holy damsel, she was cleansed and healed of her leprosy, and her flesh was restored to beauty, which before was dark and horrible to behold. The three companions and all the people there were overjoyed at this. Then they did for the damsel what she had requested, removing from the body all that was necessary and embalming it as richly as if it had been the body of an emperor. Then they took a boat and covered it with a rich silken cloth and set up a handsome bed in it. When they had furnished the boat as handsomely as they could, they laid the damsel’s body in it, and then launched the boat upon the sea. Then Bors said to Perceval that he regretted that there was no paper with the body by which the damsel might be identified and the manner of her death made known. “I may tell you,” said Perceval, “that I have placed by the pillow a paper which tells of her family, and how she met her death, and of all the adventures which she had helped us to accomplish. So that if she should be found in some foreign country, her identity will be known.” And Galahad said that he had done well. “For someone may find the body,” said he, “who will render it greater honour for knowing the truth about her station and her life.”
So long as the people of the castle could see the ship, they stood on the shore, most of them weeping softly, for the damsel had done a very generous act in sacrificing her life to heal a lady of a strange country, and they remarked that never had a damsel done such a thing before. And when they could no longer see the ship, they went back into the castle. But the companions said that they would not enter it again, for love of the damsel whom they had lost there. So they stayed outside and asked the inhabitants to bring out their arms to them, which they promptly did.
When the three companions had mounted and were about to start on their way, they saw that the sky was darkened and the clouds were full of rain; so they betook themselves to a chapel beside the road. Putting their horses outside in a shed, they went in, seeing that a heavy storm was imminent. Then it began to thunder and lighten and the bolts fell as thick as rain upon the castle. All day the storm raged so wildly over the castle that fully half of the walls were overthrown and cast to earth, at which they were filled with consternation. For they would not have supposed that in a year’s time the castle could be destroyed by such a storm, as they beheld it from outside.
When the weather had cleared after vespers, the companions saw a knight fleeing before them; he was grievously wounded in the body, and he kept saying frequently: “Ah! God, help me, for now am I in need.” After him followed another knight and a dwarf, who both cried to him from afar: “You are dead, there is no help for you.” But he raised his hands to heaven and cried: “Fair Lord God, help me and let me not die now, so that my life may not desert me in such great trouble as this seems to be!”
When the companions saw the knight who was thus lamenting to Our Lord, they were filled with pity, and Galahad said that he was going to help him. “I wish to do so, sire,” said Bors; “you need not bestir yourself on behalf of a single knight.” So he said that he would stand aside, since he so desired. Whereupon, Bors mounted his horse, saying: “Fair lords, if I do not return, do not give up your quest on my account, but resume your journey in the morning, each going his own way, and continue your wanderings until Our Lord unites us all three at the Cripple King’s.” And they told him to set out in Our Lord’s safe keeping, and they two would start the next morning. So he left at once and followed the knight to help him who was thus lamenting to Our Lord. But now the story ceases to speak of him, and returns to the two companions who tarried in the chapel.
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« Reply #19 on: August 20, 2007, 12:30:16 am »

Chapter XIII

Now the story tells how Galahad and Perceval lay in the chapel all that night, beseeching Our Lord to guard and guide Bors wherever he might go. The next morning, when the day was bright and clear, and the storm was over, and the weather had turned fair, they mounted their steeds and rode toward the castle to see how it had fared with those inside. And when they came to the gate, they found everything burned and the walls thrown down. Upon going inside, they marvelled still more at finding no man or woman who was not dead. Up and down they searched, exclaiming over the great damage done and the great loss of life. When they came to the principal palace, they found the walls overthrown, and the partitions collapsed, and the knights lying dead here and there, just as Our Lord had blasted and smitten them for the sinful life they had led. When the companions saw all this, they said that it was caused by Heaven’s vengeance. “It would never have happened thus,” said they, “had it not been to appease the wrath of the Creator of the world.” While they were conversing thus, they heard a voice which said to them: “This is revenge for the blood of the virtuous maiden, which has been shed here for the earthly cure of a wicked sinner.” When they heard these words, they said that Our Lord’s vengeance is a marvellous thing, and that any man is mad who transgresses His will either for death or life.
When the two companions had gone about the castle for some time, looking at the devastation caused by death, they found beside a chapel a cemetery full of trees in bloom and of green grass, and in it were many handsome sepulchres perhaps as many as sixty. It was so beautiful and peaceful that it did not seem that any storm had visited it. Such, indeed, was the case, for there lay the bodies of the maidens who had died for the lady’s sake. When they had entered the cemetery, mounted as they were, they came upon the tombs, and found on each the name of her who lay within. So they went about reading the inscriptions until they discovered that there were buried there twelve damsels, all daughters of kings and sprung from high lineage. At the sight of this, they said that it was indeed an evil and wicked custom which had been maintained in the castle, and that the people of the country had suffered it too long, for many a rich family had been cast down and brought to naught through the death of these maidens.
When the two companions had tarried there until the hour of prime and had seen enough, they left and rode until they came to a forest. Being about to enter it, Perceval said to Galahad: “To day we must separate and each go his own way. So I commend you to Our Lord’s keeping, and may He grant that we soon meet again. For I have never found a man whose company seemed so sweet and agreeable as yours; so this parting grieves me much more than you may suppose. Yet it must be so, since it pleases Our Lord.” When he removed his helmet, Galahad did the same, and they kissed at parting, for great was their love for one another: this appeared clearly in their death, for one barely survived the other. Thus the companions separated on the edge of the forest, called by the people of the country Aube, and each one went his way. Now the story ceases to speak of them, and returns to Lancelot, of whom nothing has been said for a long time.

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« Reply #20 on: August 20, 2007, 12:31:30 am »

Chapter XIV

Now the story tells how, when Lancelot had come to the river Marcoise, he saw himself shut in by three things that caused him great anxiety. On one side lay the great pathless forest; on either hand were two lofty ancient rocks; and in front of him was the river deep and dark. These three things inclined him not to move from where he was, but to await God’s mercy: so he tarried there until night fell. When night had taken the place of day, Lancelot removed his arms and lay down beside them, commending himself into Our Lord’s keeping and praying the best he knew that Our Lord would not forget him but would send him the help of which his soul and body stood in need. Having said this, he fell asleep and his heart thought no more of Our Lord than of purely earthly things. And when he was asleep, there came a voice which spoke to him: “Lancelot, arise, take thy arms, and enter the first boat thou shalt find.” When he heard this, he trembled all over and opened his eyes and saw all about him such a great light that he thought it must be day; but presently it disappeared so that he did not know what became of it. Then he raised his hand and crossed himself and, commending himself to Our Lord, he armed himself. When he was completely armed with his sword girt on, he looked toward the river bank and saw a boat without any sail or oar; so he went toward it and entered in. As soon as he was on board, it seemed to him that he smelt all the sweet odours in the world, and that he was nourished with all the good things ever tasted by mortal man. Then he was a hundred times more contented than before, for he appeared to have all that he ever desired in his life: wherefore he gave thanks to Our Lord. Then he knelt in his boat and said: “Fair Father Jesus Christ, I know not whence all this comes, unless it be from Thee. For I now see that my heart is possessed by such joy and comfort that I cannot tell whether I am on earth or in the terrestrial paradise.” Then he leaned upon the edge of the boat and fell asleep in great happiness.
All that night Lancelot slumbered in such peace that it seemed to him that he was not the same man as before, but changed. In the morning when he awoke, he looked about him and saw in the middle of the boat a very beautiful rich bed. And in the middle of the bed lay a lifeless maiden, whose face alone was uncovered. At the sight of her, he stood up and crossed himself and thanked Our Lord for affording him such company. Then he drew near, seeking to learn who she was and of what lineage. He looked at her up and down until he espied a letter beneath her head. He put out his hand to take it, and on unfolding it, found writing in it which said: “This damsel was the sister of Perceval le Gallois, and was always a virgin in thought and in deed. It was she who changed the belt on the Sword with the strange belt which Galahad, son of Lancelot of the Lake, now carries.” Farther on in the letter he found the story of her life and the manner of her death, and how the three companions, Galahad, Bors and Perceval, had wrapped her thus in a shroud and placed her on the ship at the bidding of the divine voice. When he had learned the truth of all this, he was much happier than before; for he was delighted to know that Bors and Galahad were together. So he put the letter back in its place, and coming to the edge of the boat, he prayed Our Lord that before the conclusion of the Quest he might encounter Galahad his son, and see him and talk and rejoice with him.
While Lancelot was engaged in prayer on this account, he looked and saw that the ship had arrived at an ancient rock near a little chapel, before whose door sat an old white haired man. As soon as he was near enough to make him hear, he called out a greeting to him. And the worthy man replied to his salutation more vigorously than Lancelot expected he could do. Then he arose from where he was sitting and came to the edge of the boat, sat down on a mound of earth, and asked Lancelot what chance had brought him there. So he told him the facts about himself and how fortune had brought him where he thought he had never been before. Then the old man asked him who he was, and he told him his name. When he heard that he was Lancelot of the Lake, he marvelled greatly how he happened to be in this ship. So he inquired who was with him. “Sire,” said Lancelot, “come and see, if you please.” Then he went on board and found the damsel and the letter. When he had read it through and had learned of the Sword with the strange belt, he said: “Ah! Lancelot, I did not expect to live to learn the name of this sword. Now you may call yourself unfortunate, since you were not on hand to achieve this noble adventure in which these three worthy men have been engaged, who were sometime reckoned to be less valiant than you. But now it is clearly shown that they are more worthy and better knights toward God than you have been. Yet, whatever you may have done in the past, I am sure that if you would keep henceforth from mortal sin and opposition to your Creator, you could still find pity and mercy in Him in whom all pity dwells, who has called you back to the way of truth. But tell me now how you came to enter this ship.” When he had told him, the old man replied in tears: “Lancelot, know that Our Lord has shown you great favour when He brought you into the company of this noble and sainted maid. See now that you be henceforth chaste in thought and in deed, so that your chastity may accord with hers. Thus your companionship may endure.” And he promised him truly with heart unfeigned that he would never do aught which he thought displeasing in his Creator’s eyes. “Go now, for you must not longer delay. For, if God will, you shall reach the dwelling where you wish so much to be.” “And you, sire,” said Lancelot, “do you stay here?” “Yes,” he replied, “for so it must be.”
While they were speaking thus, the wind struck the ship and carried it away from the rock. And when they saw that they were being separated from each other, they commended each other to God, and the old man returned to his chapel. But before he left the rock, he called out: “Ah! Lancelot, servant of Jesus Christ, for God’s sake do not forget me, but ask Galahad, the true knight, whom you will soon have in your company, to pray to Our Lord in His gentle pity to have mercy on me!” Thus the good man shouted after Lancelot, who was very glad to hear what he said, that Galahad was soon to be his companion. So he came to the edge of the boat and prostrated himself upon his elbows and knees, and addressed his prayers and orisons to Our Lord that He would lead him where he might do what was pleasing to Him.
Thus was Lancelot a month and more in the ship without once leaving it. And if anyone should ask upon what he lived all that time, having found nothing in the boat to eat, the story answers that the High Lord who fed the people of Israel on manna in the desert, and who caused water to issue from the rock to slake their thirst, sustained this man too; thus, each morning as soon as he had finished his prayer and had supplicated the High Master and requested Him not to forget him, but to send him his bread as the father ought to do for his son, every time that Lancelot made this prayer, he found himself so replete and furnished with the grace of the Holy Spirit that it seemed to him that he had tasted of all the pleasant meats in the world.
When he had gone thus a long time without once leaving the ship, it happened one night that he came to land by the edge of a forest. Then he listened and heard a knight approaching on horseback and making a noise crashing through the woods. When he came to the edge of the forest and saw the boat, he dismounted and, after removing the saddle and bridle, let the horse go where it wished. Then he came to the ship and crossed himself and came on board completely armed.
When Lancelot saw the knight draw near, he did not run to take his arms, thinking of the promise which the hermit had made about Galahad who would be with him and bear him company a while. So he arose and said: “Welcome, sir knight.” But the other was amazed to hear him speak, thinking there was no living soul aboard; so he answered in his astonishment: “Good fortune to you, sire, and in God’s name, if it may be, tell me who you are, for I greatly desire to know.” So he told his name, and said he was Lancelot of the Lake. “Then truly be welcome, sire,” said he; “it is God’s truth that I desired to see you and have you as a companion above all others in the world. And so it is natural, for it is from you that I am sprung.” Then the knight removed his helmet and set it in the middle of the boat. And Lancelot asked of him: “Ah! Galahad, is it you?” “Yes, sire,” said he, “it is truly I.” When he heard that, he ran to him with outstretched arms, and they began to embrace each other and rejoice in a way I could not describe.
Then each asked the other how he was. Then each told of the adventures which had befallen him since they had left the court. They continued thus in conversation until day dawned and the sun rose next morning. When the day was bright and clear, they could see and recognise each other, and they began to be exceeding glad. When Galahad beheld the damsel who lay in the boat, he recognised her as the one whom he had seen before. So he asked Lancelot if he knew who she was. “Yes,” he answered, “I know full well. For the letter by her head clearly reveals the truth. But for God’s sake tell me whether you have achieved the adventure of the Sword with the strange belt.” “Yes, sire,” said he, “and if you have never seen the Sword, behold it here.” When Lancelot looked at it, he knew at once that this was it; and he seized it by the hilt and began to kiss the pommel and the scabbard and the blade. Then he asked Galahad to tell him how and where he had found it. And he told him all about the ship which Solomon’s wife had had made, and the three planks, and how Eve, the first mother, had planted the first tree, whose shoots were by nature coloured white and green and red. And when he had told him all about the ship and the inscriptions they had found in it, Lancelot confessed that never had such a high adventure come to any knight as had befallen him.
Lancelot and Galahad abode in this ship for half a year and more, attentive to serve their Creator heartily. Many a time they came to strange islands far from human kind, where nothing but wild beasts dwelt, where they encountered and achieved marvellous adventures, partly by their own prowess and partly by the grace of the Holy Spirit which always aided them. But of these things the story of the Holy Grail makes no mention, for it would take too long to tell all that befell them.
After Easter, in the spring when all things turn green and the birds sing in the woods their sweet songs in welcome of the pleasant season, and everything turns more to joy than at any other season - about that time it happened one day at noon that they came to land at the edge of a forest in front of a cross. Then they saw a knight come forth from the forest armed in white armour; he was richly mounted himself and led another white horse by the bridle. When he saw the ship come to land, he came to the place as fast as he could, saluted the two knights in the name of the High Master, and said to Galahad: “Sir knight, you have been with your father long enough. Leave the ship and mount this fair white horse and go whither chance may lead you, seeking and accomplishing the adventures of the kingdom of Logres.”
When he heard this, he ran to his father, kissed him tenderly, and said to him weeping: “Fair gentle sire, I know not if I shall ever see you again. I commend you to Jesus Christ Himself, and may He preserve you in His service.” Then they both began to weep. When Galahad had left the ship and had mounted, there came a voice between them which said to them: “Now let each one think of doing right, for you shall not see each other again before the great and terrible day when Our Lord will render to every man according to his deserts: that will be on the day of judgment.” When Lancelot heard these words, he said in tears to Galahad: “Son, since I must depart from you forever, pray the High Master that He may not let me quit His service, but that He may keep me as His servant both on earth and in heaven.” Then Galahad replied: “Sire, no prayer is as potent as your own. So do not forget yourself.” Then they parted, and Galahad entered the forest. And a great and wonderful wind struck the ship and soon carried Lancelot from the shore.
Thus Lancelot was all alone in the ship, except for the corpse of the damsel. And he was carried for a month about the sea, sleeping little and in vigils much, praying Our Lord tenderly in tears to bring him where he might see something of the Holy Grail.
One evening it chanced that he came to land in front of a fair rich town well situated; and in the rear of the town there was a gate which opened toward the water, and which was always open day and night. No one who dwelt there stood on guard, for there were always two lions opposite each other guarding the entrance, so that anyone wishing to pass through that gate could do so only by passing between them.
When the ship came to land there, the moon was shining so brightly that one could see far and near. And straightway he heard a voice which said: “Lancelot, leave the ship and enter this town, where thou shalt find much of what thou seekest and hast yearned so ardently to behold.” Upon hearing this, he ran at once and seized his arms, leaving behind nothing which he had brought with him. And when he was on shore, he came to the gate and found the two lions; then he thought that he could not escape without a fight, so he drew his sword and prepared to defend himself. But as soon as he had drawn his sword, he looked up and saw a burning hand which struck him so forcibly on the arm that his sword flew from his hand. Then he heard a voice saying: “Ah! man poor in faith and trust, why dost thou trust more in thy hand than in thy Creator? Thou art very wretched, not to believe that He in whose service thou art engaged can avail more than thy arms!”
Lancelot was so abashed by these words and by the hand that had struck him that he fell to the ground stunned, and was so overcome that he did not know whether it was day or night. But after a while he stood up and said: “Ah! fair Father Jesus Christ, I thank you and adore you for deigning to reprove me for my misdeeds. Now I see clearly that you regard me as your servant, since you have shown me this token of my lack of faith.”
Then Lancelot took his sword and replaced it in the scabbard, saying he would never draw it out again, but would trust in the mercy of Our Lord. “And if it please Him that I die, it will be the salvation of my soul. And if it so be that I escape death, it will redound to my greater honour.” Then he crossed himself upon his forehead and, commending himself to Our Lord, approached the lions. When they saw him drawing near, they remained passive and gave no evidence of intending to do him harm. So he passed between them without their touching him. And he came to the main thoroughfare and walked up through the town until he reached the citadel. Everyone had retired throughout the town, for it might have been midnight by now. He went up the steps until he found himself in the main hall, all armed as he was. And when he was upstairs, he looked everywhere, but saw no man or woman, which greatly surprised him, for he could not believe that such a fine palace and such handsome apartments should be deserted. So he passed on and decided he would continue until he found someone who would tell him where he was, for he did not even know what country he was in.
So Lancelot kept on until he reached a chamber of which the door was closed and locked. He put his hand on the door and tried to open it, but in vain; he even made a great effort, but he could do nothing to effect an entrance. Then he listened, and heard a voice chanting so sweetly that it seemed to be the voice rather of some heavenly than of a mortal creature. And the voice seemed to be saying: “Glory, praise and honour to Thee, Father in heaven!” When Lancelot heard what the voice was saying, his heart was melted; and he knelt beside the chamber door, for he thought the Holy Grail might be inside. So he said weeping: “Fair sweet Father Jesus Christ, if I ever did aught which pleased Thee, fair Lord, in Thy pity do not bear me any grudge, but show me some revelation of what I am seeking.”
As soon as Lancelot had said this, he looked in front of him and saw the door of the chamber open, and through it there shone as bright a light as if the sun were lodged therein. Because of the bright light which issued forth, the whole building was illuminated as if all the candles in the world were lighted. When he saw this, he was very happy and felt such a desire to see whence this brightness came that he forgot all else. So he approached the chamber door and was about to enter in, when a voice said to him: “Flee, Lancelot, do not enter, for you must not do so. If you go in despite this prohibition, you shall repent of it.” When Lancelot heard this, he drew back sorrowfully, like one who would fain go in but yet refrained because of the prohibition he had heard.
Yet he looked into the room and saw the Holy Vessel covered with a red silk cloth. And all around he saw angels serving the Holy Vessel, some holding silver censers and lighted candles, others holding crosses and altar vessels, and there was none who was not doing his part. In front of the Holy Vessel there sat an old man dressed like a priest, and it appeared that he was assisting at the sacrament of the mass. When he was about to elevate the body of Our Lord, it seemed to Lancelot that above the good man’s hands there appeared the figures of three men in the air, two of whom placed the youngest of them in the priest’s hands; and thus he raised him on high and appeared to manifest him to the people.
Then Lancelot, who beheld these things, was not a little astonished: for he saw that the priest was so burdened with the figure he held up, that it seemed he must succumb beneath the weight. When he saw this, he wished to go to aid him, for he thought that none of the others present had any intention to lend a hand. Then his desire to come forward was so great that he forgot the prohibition which had been laid upon him not to set foot within the room. Then he advanced quickly to the door, saying: “Ah! fair Father Jesus Christ, may it not bring me to punishment and loss if I wish to help this worthy man in his necessity.” Then he went in and walked toward the silver table. And when he approached it, he felt a breath of air, as it seemed to him, as hot as if it were mixed with flame, which smote him in the face so fiercely that he felt as if his face were blasted with the heat. Then his strength failed him, like one whose power of body and of hearing and seeing is affected, and all his limbs were powerless. Then he felt several hands seize him and carry him away. And when they had roughly picked him up, they cast him out of the room and deserted him there.
The next morning, when the day appeared bright and clear, the people of the place arose and found Lancelot lying before the chamber door and they marvelled greatly what the cause could be. When they bade him rise, he showed no sign of hearing them and did not stir. Thereupon, they supposed that he was dead. So they quickly removed his arms and examined him all over to find out if he was alive. And they found that he was not dead, but full of life; but he had no power to speak or to utter a word, but lay like a clod of earth. So they picked him up bodily in their arms and carried him into one of the rooms, where they laid him upon a very rich bed, far from the crowd, that he might not be disturbed by any noise. And they took the best care of him they could, remaining beside him all day, and often speaking to him to see if he would reply. But he answered never a word and gave the appearance of never having been able to speak. They examined his pulse and his veins, and thought it very strange that a knight who was fully alive could not speak to them; but some said that they could not explain the cause for this unless it was some vengeance or manifestation of Our Lord.
All that day the people stayed with Lancelot, as well as the third and fourth, some saying that he was dead, and others that he was alive. “In God’s name,” said an old man who was present and who knew something of medicine, “I tell you truly that he is not dead, but as full of life as the healthiest of us all; so my advice is that he be cared for well and richly until Our Lord restores him to his customary health; then we shall know the truth about him, who he is and from what land. And truly, if I ever knew anything aright, I believe that he has been one of the good knights in the world, and shall be so yet again, if Our Lord wills: he need not yet be afraid of death, it seems to me, though I do not say that he may not languish for some time in his present state.” Thus spake the old man of Lancelot, as one who was very wise. And every word he said turned out to be true. For they cared for Lancelot for twenty-four days and nights, and in all that time he neither drank nor ate, nor did a word come from his mouth, nor did he stir foot or hand or any other member, nor did he give any evidence of being alive. Yet every time they examined him, they concluded that he was alive. So all the men and women pitied him, saying: “God! what a pity it is about this knight, who appears to have been so valiant and excellent and handsome, and now God has reduced him to this state of confinement!” Thus they often spoke of Lancelot and wept for him; yet, with all their inquiries, they did not recognise him as Lancelot. Nevertheless, many knights were there who had often seen him and ought to have recognised him.
Thus Lancelot lay for twenty four days while the people of the place awaited his death. But on the twenty-fourth day about noon he opened his eyes. And when he saw the people, he began to lament bitterly, and said: “Ah! God, why have you awakened me so soon? Just now I was more comfortable than I shall ever be again! Ah! fair Father Jesus Christ, who could ever be so favoured or so worthy as to behold clearly the great marvels of your secrets in that place where my sinful gaze and my sight befouled by worldly lusts were blinded?” When those who surrounded Lancelot heard these words, they were very joyful and asked him what he had seen. “I have seen,” said he, “such great wonders and blessings that my tongue could not reveal them to you, nor could my heart itself conceive of them, so great are they. For they are not earthly things, but things of the spirit. And were it not for my great sin and misfortune, I should have seen still more; but I lost the sight of my eyes and the strength of my body because of the great disloyalty which God saw in me.”
Then Lancelot said to those who were present: “Fair lords, I marvel greatly how I happen to be here. For I do not recollect how or in what manner I got here.” Then they told him all they had seen of him, and how he had been with them twenty-four days without their knowing whether he was dead or alive. When he heard this, he began to consider the meaning of his having continued so long in that state. And finally he reflected that he had served the devil for twenty four years, wherefore Our Lord had punished him by depriving him of the strength of his body and members for twenty-four days. Then Lancelot looked beside him and espied the hair shirt which he had worn for nearly half a year, but of which he was now deprived. He grieved sorely about this, for he thought that he had violated his vow in this respect. Then they asked him how he felt, and he replied that he felt sound and healthy, thank God. “But for God’s sake tell me where I am,” he said. And they told him that he was in the castle of Corbenyc.
Then there came a damsel carrying to Lancelot a fresh new linen robe; but he would not put it on, preferring the hair shirt. When those who were about him saw this, they said: “Sir knight, you may well give up the hair shirt, for your quest is at an end; there is no use of your striving further in search of the Holy Grail; for be very sure that you shall see no more of it than you have already seen. Now may God bring us those who are destined to see more of it!” But Lancelot would not be persuaded to give it up, but took the hair shirt and put it on, and over it the linen robe, and then a scarlet robe which was brought to him. When he was dressed and apparelled, all the people came to see him and considered marvellous what God had done with him. Then as soon as they looked at him, they recognised him and said: “Ah! my lord Lancelot, is it you?” And he said that it was. Then great and wondrous joy was felt. And the news spread until King Pellés heard of it; for a knight said to him: “Sire, I can tell you something wonderful.” “About what?” the king inquired. “Upon my word, this knight who has lain here so long like a dead man has just now got up sound and healthy; well, know that he is my lord Lancelot of the Lake.” When the king heard that, he was very glad and went to visit him. And when Lancelot saw him approaching, he rose to meet him and welcomed him, and received him joyfully. The king told him about his fair daughter who was dead, and who was the mother of Galahad. Lancelot was much distressed, because she was such a gentle woman and was descended from such a noble line.
Four days more Lancelot tarried there, which caused the king great joy, for he had long desired to have him with him. But on the fifth day when they were seated at dinner it befell that the Holy Grail had filled the tables so marvellously that no one could imagine a more bounteous provision. While they were eating, something happened which they regarded as a great marvel. For they saw plainly that the doors of the palace closed of themselves without anyone touching them: at which they were greatly amazed. Then a knight fully armed, and mounted on a mighty steed, appeared before the main door and began to shout: “Open, open!” But those within would not open for him. Still he continued to shout, and he annoyed them so that the king himself left the table and went to one of the palace windows looking out on the place where the knight was. He looked at him, and seeing him stationed before the door, he said to him: “Sir knight, you shall not enter here; no one who is seated so high as you shall enter so long as the Holy Grail is here. But begone to your own country, for you do not belong to the companions of the Quest, but are one of those who have deserted the service of Jesus Christ and have enlisted in the devil’s service.”
When the knight heard that, he was greatly distressed, and was so sorrowful that he knew not what to do. So he turned away; but the king called him back and said to him: “Sir knight, since you have come thus far, I pray you to tell me who you are.” “Sire,” he replied, “I am from the kingdom of Logres, my name is Hector des Mares, and I am brother to my lord Lancelot of the Lake.” “In God’s name,” said the king, “now I know you well, and am more sorry than before; I did not care much before, but now I care indeed because of my affection for your brother who is here within.”
When Hector heard that his brother was inside, the man in the world whom he respected most because of the love he bore him, he exclaimed: “Ah! God, now my shame is doubled and increases more and more! Never again shall I be so bold as to come into my brother’s presence, since I have proved derelict where the worthy and true knights will never be found wanting. Truly spake the good man on the hill who expounded to me and my lord Gawain the meaning of our dreams!”
Thereupon Hector left the courtyard and rode away through the town as fast as his horse could carry him. And when the townspeople saw him flee, they cried after him, taunting him and cursing the hour he was born, and calling him a bad and faithless knight; and this made his heart so sore that he wished he were dead. He fled away out of the town and struck into the forest where it appeared to be thickest. Then King Pellés came back to Lancelot and told him about his brother, which grieved Lancelot so deeply that he did not know what he ought to do. The others present could not fail to mark his feelings, when they saw the tears running down his cheeks. So the king regretted having spoken to him about his brother; for he would not have done it for anything had he thought that Lancelot would have taken it so to heart.
When they had eaten, Lancelot requested of the king that his arms might be brought to him, for he would fain journey to the kingdom of Logres where he had not been for over a year. “Sire,” said the king, “I beg of you for God’s sake to pardon me for telling you about your brother.” And he said that he pardoned him willingly. Then the king ordered his arms to be brought, and when they were brought, he took them. When he was equipped and ready to mount, the king had brought into the middle of the courtyard a strong swift horse, which he mounted at the king’s request. Then, when he had mounted and had bidden farewell to the people of the place, he departed and rode far through strange lands.
One night it happened that Lancelot was lodged in an abbey of White Friars, who showed him great honour because he was a knight-errant. In the morning, when he had heard mass and was about to leave the monastery, he looked to the right and saw a rich fair tomb which had been recently constructed, as he thought. So he turned in that direction to see what it was. And when he drew near, he saw that it was so handsome that he knew that some rich prince must lie beneath it. When he looked at the head, he saw an inscription which said: “Here lies King Bademagus of Gorre, whom Gawain, King Arthur’s nephew, killed.” When he learned this, he sorrowed not a little, for he loved with a great love King Bademagus. If it had been any other than my lord Gawain who had killed him, he could not have escaped paying the penalty of death. As it was, he wept tenderly and made lament, saying that this was indeed a heavy blow to those of King Arthur’s household as well as to many another worthy man.
That day Lancelot tarried there grieving much and in distress for love of the good man who had shown him many an honour. The next morning, when he was armed, he mounted his steed and, commending the friars to God’s keeping, he resumed his journey. And in his wanderings he came by chance to the tombs where the swords were set up. As soon as he beheld this strange sight, he rode inside on his horse and examined the tombs. Then he left there and rode until he came to King Arthur’s court where all gave him a joyous welcome as soon as they caught sight of him; for greatly had they desired his return and that of the other companions, very few of whom had as yet come back. And those who had returned were ashamed of having accomplished nothing in the Quest. Now the story ceases to speak of them all, and returns to Galahad, the son of Lancelot of the Lake.

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Chapter XV

Now the story tells how Galahad, after he had separated from Lancelot, rode for many a day as chance led him, one hour forward and another hour back again, until he came to an abbey where King Mordrain was; and when he heard that the king was waiting for the Good Knight, he thought he would go to see him. So the next day, as soon as he had heard mass, he went where the king was. As soon as he got inside, the king, who for a long time had lost his sight and the strength of his body by Our Lord’s will, immediately regained his sight when he drew near him. And at once he sat up straight and said to Galahad: “Galahad, servant of God, true knight whose arrival I have so long awaited, embrace me and allow me to rest upon thy breast, in order that I may pass away in thy arms; for thou art pure and chaste above all other knights, as the fleur-de-lys, which is the emblem of virginity, is whiter than all other flowers. Thou art like the lily in purity, and also like the rose for perfect virtue and flaming hue; for the flame of the Holy Spirit is so kindled and warm in thee that my flesh, which was all dead and worn out, is now all rejuvenated and healthy.”
When Galahad heard these words, he sat down by the head of the king’s bed, and took him in his arms upon his lap, because the good man wished to rest there. Then the king reclined upon him and, putting his arms about him, began to embrace him, and said: “Fair Father Jesus Christ, now I have my desire fulfilled! Now I beseech Thee to come to fetch me where I am, for there could be no easier and more appropriate place for me to die than this. There is nothing but lilies and roses in this sweet contentment I have so long craved.” As soon as he had addressed this request to Our Lord, it became clear that Our Lord had heard his prayer, for he promptly returned his soul to Him whom he had served so long, and died in the arms of Galahad. When the others in the abbey learned of this, they came and found that the wounds which he had so long borne on his body were wholly healed: and this they regarded as a miracle. Then they rendered to the body the rites due to a king, and buried it there.
Galahad tarried there two days. On the third he went away, and rode until he came to the Perilous Forest, where he found the boiling spring, of which the story spoke some distance back. But as soon as he put his hand in it, the heat left the water, because in him there had never been any heat of lust. The people of the country considered this a marvellous thing, as soon as they heard that the water had turned cool. So the spring lost the name it had borne before, and was henceforth known as Galahad’s Spring.
When he had completed this adventure, he came by chance to the entrance of the country of Gorre, where he found an abbey once visited by Lancelot, where the latter had come upon the tomb of Galahad King of Hoselice, son of Joseph of Arimathæa, and the tomb of Simeon where he had failed. Having arrived there, he looked down into the crypt which was beneath the monastery, and when he saw the tomb burning so marvellously, he asked the friars what it was. “Sire,” said they, “this is a strange adventure which can be achieved only by him who shall surpass in goodness and chivalry all the companions of the Round Table.” “I should like,” said he, “if it pleased you, to have you take me to the entrance of the crypt,” which they said they would gladly do. So they took him to the entrance of the crypt, and he went down the steps. As soon as he drew near, the tomb of fire, which for many a day had burned bright and strong, subsided and the flame flickered, because of the arrival of him in whom was no sinful heat. When he came to the tomb, he raised it up and saw within the body of Simeon who had died; and as soon as the heat had ceased, he heard a voice which said: “Galahad, Galahad, you ought to render profound thanks to Our Lord for granting you such a favour: for because of your good life, you can retrieve souls from punishment on earth and set them in the joys of paradise. I am your relative Simeon who for three hundred and fifty four years have dwelt here in this burning heat to expiate a sin which I once committed against Joseph of Arimathæa. I should have been lost and damned with the punishment which I have endured. But the grace of the Holy Spirit, which in you avails more than earthly chivalry, has looked upon me with pity because of the great humility in you, and in its mercy has delivered me from earthly woe and set me in the joy of heaven through the favour afforded by your arrival.” The others present, who had come down as soon as the flame was extinguished, heard these words, and considered it a great marvel and miracle. Then Galahad took the body and removed it from the tomb where it had so long been, and carried it into the middle of the church. Then the friars took it and buried it as befitted a knight, for such he had been, and held a suitable service with interment in front of the high altar. Then they came to Galahad and showed him the greatest honour in their power, and asked him whence he came and to whom he belonged. And he told them the truth about it all.
The next morning, when Galahad had heard mass, he left there, commending the friars to God, and rode five full years before coming to the residence of the Cripple King. And during all these five years Perceval bore him company wherever he went. Within that time they had so completely achieved the adventures of the kingdom of Logres that few were ever seen there afterward except some miraculous revelation of Our Lord. And wherever they passed, and whatever the number of their foes, they could never be discomfited or dismayed or frightened.
One day it happened that they came forth from a great and marvellous forest. And there they met at a cross-road Bors who was riding alone. When they recognised him, do not ask whether they were glad and happy, for they had long been without his company and greatly desired to see him. So they made much of each other, celebrating the honour and good fortune of the meeting. Then they asked him how he was, and he told them the truth and how he had fared: and he said that full five years had passed without his lying four times in any bed or in any house where people lived; but he had slept in lonely woods and distant mountains, where he would have died more than a hundred times, had it not been for the grace of the Holy Spirit which had comforted and cheered him in his distress. “And did you find what we are looking for?” asked Perceval. “Certainly not,” said he, “yet I believe that we shall not separate before we have finished that for which we started upon this Quest.” “God grant us that!” said Galahad, “for so help me God, I know of nothing which could make me so happy as your arrival which delights me and satisfies my desire.”
Thus chance brought the three companions together as chance had previously separated them. They journeyed together for a long time until one day they came to the castle of Corbenyc. When they were inside and the king recognised them, the joy was great and marvellous, for it was generally known that with their arrival the adventures of the castle would end, which had so long existed. And the news travelled far and wide, until all the inhabitants came to see them. King Pellés wept over Galahad, his nephew, and so did the others who had seen him as a little child.
When they had removed their arms, Elyezer, the son of King Pellés, brought to them the Broken Sword, of which the story has already been told, and with which Joseph had been smitten through the thigh. And when he had drawn it from the scabbard and had told them how it came to be broken, Bors took it to see if he could join it again, but without success. When he saw that he was not equal to the task, he handed it to Perceval, saying: “Sire, see whether you can achieve this adventure.” “Willingly,” he replied. So he took the sword just as it was and fitted the two pieces together, but could by no means join them. Seeing this, he said to Galahad: “Sire, we have failed in this adventure. Now you must try, and if you fail, I think it will never be achieved by mortal man.” Then Galahad took the two pieces of the sword and fitted them together. And at once the pieces became joined so marvellously that no one in the world could detect the break or know that it had ever been broken.
When the companions beheld this, they said that God had granted them a good beginning, and that they believed that they would easily accomplish the other adventures, since this one had now been achieved.
When the others present saw that the adventure of the sword had been concluded, they were very happy. They presented it to Bors, saying that it could not be in better hands, for he was such a wonderfully fine knight and worthy man.
When the vesper hour arrived, the weather changed, the sky grew dark, and a great and marvellous wind arose which fairly struck the palace; and the heat of the wind was so fierce that many of them expected to be burned, and some fainted with fear. Then they heard a voice saying: “Let those who are not entitled to sit at the table of Jesus Christ withdraw; for the true knights are about to be fed with food from heaven.”
Upon hearing this, all went out without delay, except King Pellés, who was a worthy man of holy life, his son Elyezer and a damsel who was the king’s niece, the most holy and religious creature known in those days in any land. With these three the three companions remained to see what revelation Our Lord would be pleased to grant them. After waiting a little while, they saw coming through the door nine armed knights, who took off their helmets and armour; then approaching Galahad, they bowed to him and said: “Sire, we have come in haste to be present with you at the table when the precious food is to be broken.” Then he replied that they had arrived in time, for they too had just got there. Then they all sat down in the midst of the palace, and Galahad asked them whence they came. Three of them said they came from Gaul, and three from Ireland, and the other three from Denmark.
While they were conversing thus, they saw come out from one of the adjoining chambers a wooden bed borne by four damsels. Upon the bed there lay a worthy man apparently in great distress, and he had a golden crown upon his head. When the damsels had carried him into the middle of the hall, they set him down and withdrew. Then he lifted his head and said to Galahad: “Welcome, sire! I have long desired to see you and have long waited for you to come, being in such pain and anguish the while that any other could not have endured the trial. But now, if it please God, has come the hour when my grief is to be relieved, and I shall depart from this life as it was long ago promised me.”
While they were speaking thus, they heard a voice saying: “Anyone who has not been a companion of the Quest of the Holy Grail should now withdraw: for he may not longer remain here.” As soon as these words were uttered, King Pellés and his son Elyezer and the damsel withdrew. When the palace was emptied of all except those who knew themselves to be companions of the Quest, it seemed at once to those who had remained that there came from heaven a man dressed in the garb of a bishop, with a crozier in his hand and a mitre upon his head; and four angels carried him upon a rich seat and seated him at the table on which was the Holy Grail. He who had been carried in like a bishop had words on his brow which said: “Behold Josephe, the first Christian bishop, whom Our Lord anointed in the city of Sarraz, in the temple there.” And the knights seeing this understood the words, but marvelled how it could be true; for this Josephe to whom the words referred had been dead more than three hundred years. But he spoke to them at once, and said: “Ah! knights of God, servants of Jesus Christ, marvel not to see me before you as I am in the presence of this Holy Vessel; for just as I served it in the flesh, so I serve it being a spirit.”
Saying this, he drew near the silver table and prostrated himself on his elbows and knees before the altar. And when he had continued thus for some space, he listened and heard the chamber door open and slam loudly. So he looked in that direction, as did all the others. And they saw the angels come in who had carried Josephe, two of them bearing two tapers, and the third a red silk cloth, and the fourth a lance which dripped blood so freely that the drops fell down into a box in his other hand. Then the two set the tapers upon the table, and the third laid the cloth beside the Holy Vessel, and the fourth held the lance straight up over the Holy Vessel so that the blood which was flowing down the lance dropped into it. As soon as they had done all this, Josephe arose and removed the lance a little from the Holy Vessel and covered the latter with the cloth.
Then Josephe prepared to celebrate the sacrament of the mass. And after waiting a little, he took in the sacred Vessel a wafer apparently of bread. And at the elevation there came down from heaven a figure as of a child with a face as red as if it were aflame with fire; and He entered into the bread so that those present saw clearly that the bread had assumed the form of carnal man. When Josephe had held it thus a while, he put it back in the Holy Vessel.
When Josephe had performed the priest’s part in the service of the mass, he came up to Galahad and kissed him, and told him in like manner to kiss all his brothers. And so he did. When this ceremony was over, he said to them: “Servants of Jesus Christ, who have striven and toiled to behold a part of the wonders of the Holy Grail, sit down now at this table, and you shall be filled with the best and most precious food that ever knights tasted, and this from the very hand of your Saviour. And you can say that you have toiled to good purpose, for you shall receive to-day the highest reward that ever knights received.” Having said this, Josephe vanished from their midst, so that they never knew what had become of him. Then they sat down at once at the table in great fear, and wept so tenderly that their faces were all wet with tears.
Then the companions looked and saw come forth from the Holy Vessel a man as it were quite naked, and His hands and feet and body were bleeding; and He said to them: “My knights and servants and My loyal sons, who while yet in this mortal life have become spiritual, who have sought for Me so long that I can no longer conceal Myself from you, it is fitting that you should behold a part of My mysteries and secrets, for you have proved yourselves worthy to sit at My table, where no knight ever ate since the time of Joseph of Arimathæa. Some of the others have partaken as faithful servants: that is, some of the knights here and many others have been satisfied with the grace of the Holy Vessel; but they have never been in the same position which you now occupy. Now take and receive the precious food which you have so long desired, and for which you have endured such toil.”
Then He Himself took the Holy Vessel and came to Galahad, to whom when he had kneeled, He gave to partake of his Saviour. And he received Him joyfully with folded hands. So did each of the others, and there was none to whom it did not seem that something like bread was placed in his mouth. When they had all received of this precious food, which seemed to them so marvellously sweet that they thought that all the savours they could imagine were entering their bodies, He who had regaled them thus said to Galahad; “Son, so pure and clean as mortal man can be, dost thou know what I am holding in My hands?” “Nay,” he replied, “unless you tell me.” He replied: “It is the bowl from which Jesus Christ ate of the lamb on Easter Day with His disciples. This is the bowl which has served acceptably all those whom I have found serving Me; this is the bowl which no faithless man ever beheld without suffering for it. And because it has thus served all manner of people acceptably, it is properly called the Holy Grail. Now thou hast seen what thou hast so desired to see and what thou hast coveted. But thou hast not yet beheld it so clearly as thou shalt yet see it. And knowest thou where it is to be? In the temple in the city of Sarraz, and therefore it behoves thee to proceed thither and bear this holy Vessel company, which to-night will leave the kingdom of Logres so that it shall never be seen there again, nor shall it cause any more adventures there. And knowest thou why it is going away? Because its claims are no more served or honoured by the people of this land. For they have turned to a lower worldly life, in spite of having been nourished with grace from this Holy Vessel. And because they have so ill repaid the favour, I divest them of the honour which I had done them. Therefore I wish thee to go to-morrow to the sea, and there thou shalt find the ship in which thou didst find the Sword with the strange belt. In order that thou mayst not go alone, I wish thee to take with thee Perceval and Bors. However, since I do not wish thee to leave this country without curing the Cripple King, I wish thee to take some blood from this lance and anoint his legs with it; for by this shall he be cured, and by nothing else.” “Ah! Sire,” said Galahad, “why will you not permit all the others to come with me?” “Because I will not have it so,” He said, “but I wish to do it after the manner of My disciples. For just as they ate with me at the Last Supper, so you have eaten now with me at the table of the Holy Grail. And you are twelve just as the disciples were, I being over you as the thirteenth, who am to be your Master and Shepherd. Just as I separated them and sent them over the world to preach the true gospel, so I send you, one here and another there. And you shall all die in this service, except one of you.” Then He gave them His blessing and vanished, so that they knew not what became of Him, except that they saw Him ascend toward heaven.
And Galahad came to the lance which was lying on the table and touched the blood; then he went to the Cripple King and anointed his legs with it where he had been wounded. Then the king clothed himself and left the bed healthy and whole. And he thanked Our Lord for having so promptly regarded him with His favour. He lived a long time yet, but not in the world, for he withdrew at once into a community of White Friars. And Our Lord performed many a fine miracle for love of him, of which the story does not tell in this place, as there is no need of it.
About midnight, when they had prayed for a long time to Our Lord that in His mercy He would conduct them with safety for their souls whithersoever they might go, a voice descended in their midst which said: “Ye who are My true sons and not My step-sons, My friends and not My enemies, be gone from here and go where you think you will fare best, as chance may lead you.” When they heard this, they all answered with one voice: “Father in heaven, blessed be Thou who hast deigned to call us Thy sons and Thy friends! Now we see clearly that we have not wasted our efforts.”
Thereupon they left the palace and came down into the courtyard where they found arms and horses. Then they equipped themselves and mounted at once. And when they were mounted, they rode out from the castle and asked each other where they came from, in order that they might recognise each other. Thus they discovered that among the three who came from Gaul was Claudin, the son of Claudas, and that the others, from whatever land they came, were gentlemen of high lineage. When the time came to separate, they embraced each other like brothers and wept very tenderly, and they all said to Galahad: “Sire, you must know that we were never so happy as when we knew that we should be in your company, nor was grief ever so bitter as ours now that we must depart from you so soon. But we see that this separation is pleasing to Our Lord; and therefore we must part without grieving.” “Fair gentlemen,” said Galahad, “if you liked my company, I liked yours just as much. But you see that we must not remain together. Therefore I commend you to God, and pray you, if you come to King Arthur’s court, to salute my father, my lord Lancelot, and those of the Round Table.” And they said that, if they passed that way, they would not forget the commission.
Then they separated. Then Galahad with his two companions rode until they came to the sea in less than four days. They would have reached it sooner, but they did not travel directly, not being acquainted with the roads.
Upon reaching the sea, they found on the shore the ship in which the Sword with the strange belt had been discovered, and they saw the inscription on the side of the ship which forbade anyone to enter unless he believed firmly in Jesus Christ. When they came to the side and looked in, they saw in the middle of the bed, which was in the ship, the silver table which they had left at the Cripple King’s. And the Holy Grail was upon it, covered with a red silk cloth like a napkin. When the companions beheld this strange thing, they showed it to one another, and said that they were fortunate indeed to have what they most loved and cherished bear them company where they were to dwell. Then they crossed themselves and, commending themselves to Our Lord, they entered the ship. And as soon as they were on board, the wind, which before had been quiet and calm, struck the sail so violently that it drove the ship from the shore and out to sea. Then it began to sail very swiftly, as the wind drove it more and more.
Thus they sailed over the sea for a long time without knowing whither God was leading them. Every time that Galahad lay down or rose up, he prayed to Our Lord that whensoever He should require of him his translation from this world, He would send for him. He prayed this prayer so often at morning and evening that the divine voice said to him: “Fear not, Galahad, for Our Lord will perform thy desire concerning this: whenever thou shalt request the death of thy body, thou shalt have thy request, and shalt receive the life of thy soul with eternal bliss.” This request, which Galahad had so often preferred, was heard by Perceval; and he wondered greatly why he made it; so he begged him in the name of the comradeship and the faith which united them, to tell him why he sought such a favour. “I will tell you,” Galahad replied. “At that time when we saw a part of the marvels of the Holy Grail which Our Lord revealed to us in His holy mercy, as I beheld the mysteries which are not discovered to everyone, but only to the ministers of Jesus Christ - at that moment when I saw these things which the heart of mortal man could not conceive nor tongue describe, my heart was enthralled in such sweet bliss that if I had passed at once from this life, I believe that no man ever died in such contentment as I would then have done. For there stood then before me such a great company of angels and such a host of heavenly powers that I should have been then translated from the earthly to the heavenly life in the satisfaction of the glorious martyrs and the friends of Our Lord. And because I believe that I shall be sometime again in as favourable a position, or mayhap in a better one than I was in then, to behold this great joy, I prefer this request that you have heard. Thus I expect to leave this world, in accordance with Our Lord’s will, while beholding the marvels of the Holy Grail.”
Thus Galahad announced to Perceval the approach of his death, as it had been revealed to him by the divine message. In this manner, as I have told you, the people of the country of Logres because of their sins lost the Holy Grail, which so often had fed and nourished them. Just as Our Lord sent it to Galahad, to Joseph, and to their posterity because of their virtues, so He cut the wicked heirs off from it because of their wickedness and the evil He found in them. Thus one can see clearly that the wicked lost through their perversity what the good preserved through their virtue.
The companions continued a long time at sea, until one day they said to Galahad: “Sire, you have never lain upon this bed which, according to the inscription. was prepared for you. You ought to do so, for the letters state that you shall lie upon it.” So he said that he would do so. And he lay down and slept for a long time. When he awoke, he looked about him and beheld the city of Sarraz. Then there came to them a voice which said: “Leave the ship, knights of Jesus Christ, take this silver table between you three, and carry it just as it is into the city, not setting it down before you enter the temple where Our Lord first consecrated Josephe as bishop.”
When they were about to remove the table from the ship, they looked across the water and saw approaching the vessel in which they had long before laid the sister of Perceval. At the sight of it, they exclaimed to each other: “In God’s name, this damsel has kept the promise to us in following us here.” Then they took the silver table and removed it from the ship, Bors and Perceval carrying it in front, and Galahad behind. Then they started to enter the city. But when they came to the gate, Galahad was exhausted by the weight of the table which was heavy. And he saw a man with crutches sitting under the gate who was awaiting alms from the passers by, who often gave him something out of love for Jesus Christ. As Galahad approached him, he called him, saying: “Good man, come here and help me carry this table up the temple.” “Ah! sir, in God’s name,” said he, “what are you saying? It is more than ten years since I have been able to move without help.” “Never mind,” Galahad replied, “but rise and have no hesitation, for thou art cured.” When Galahad had said this, he tried to see if he could get up; and as soon as he made the effort, he found himself as well and healthy as if he had never had any infirmity in his life. Then he ran to the table and took hold of it opposite to Galahad. And when he was within the city, he told all those whom he met of the miracle which God had wrought in him.
When they had come up into the temple, they saw the seat which Our Lord had formerly prepared for Josephe to occupy. And at once all the people of the city ran together to see the maimed man who had recently been made whole. When the companions had done what was commanded them, they returned to the water-side and entered the ship in which Perceval’s sister lay. Then they carried her body upon the bed into the temple, and buried her with honours befitting a king’s daughter.
When the king of the city, named Escorant, saw the three companions, he asked them whence they came and what they had carried in on the silver table. And they answered his inquiries truthfully, and told him of the marvel of the Holy Grail and the power which God had conferred on it. But he was treacherous and cruel, being a member of the cursed pagan line. So he believed nothing of what they told him, but said they were faithless deceivers. Waiting until he saw them remove their arms, he had them seized by his men and thrown into prison; and he held them closely in confinement for a year without allowing them any freedom. But this turned out well for them; for as soon as they were cast into prison, Our Lord, who was not forgetful of them, sent the Holy Grail to bear them company, by whose favour they were daily nourished so long as they were confined.
At the end of the year Galahad complained to Our Lord one day, saying: “Sire, it seems to me that I have survived in this world long enough: if it please you, release me from it soon.” Now that day it happened that King Escorant lay sick unto death. So he sent for them and begged their forgiveness for having wrongfully treated them so ill. They willingly pardoned him, and he died at once.
When he was interred, those of the city were greatly dismayed, for they knew not whom they could make their king. So they took lengthy counsel together; and while they were thus engaged, they heard a voice which said to them: “Take the youngest of the three companions, and he will take care of you and be your counsellor so long as he remains with you.” So they obeyed the command of the voice, and took Galahad, making him their unwilling master, and put the crown upon his head. All this he regretted much; but seeing that it must needs be so, he permitted it, for otherwise they would have killed him.
When Galahad had become lord of the land, he constructed on the silver table an ark of gold and precious stones to cover the sacred Vessel. And every morning, as soon as he arose, he and his companions came to the sacred Vessel to make their prayers and orisons.
When the end of the year came around, on the anniversary of the day when he had first won the crown, he and his companions arose early in the morning. And when they came into the temple, they looked at the sacred Vessel; and there they saw a handsome man garbed like a bishop, and he was on his knees before the table making his confession; and about him there was such a great company of angels as if he were Jesus Christ Himself. After remaining upon his knees for a long time, he got up and began the mass of the glorious Mother of God. And when he came to the mystery of the mass and had removed the platter from the sacred Vessel, he called Galahad, and said to him: “Come forward, servant of Jesus Christ, and thou shalt behold what thou hast so desired to see.” Then he stepped forward and looked within the sacred Vessel. And when he had looked in, he began to tremble violently, as soon as mortal flesh began to gaze upon things of the spirit. Then Galahad stretched forth his hands toward heaven, and said: “Lord, I adore Thee and thank Thee that Thou hast brought my desire to pass, for now I see clearly what tongue could not tell nor heart conceive. Here I behold the motive of courage and the inspiration of prowess; here I see the marvel of marvels! And since it is so, fair gentle Lord, that you have accomplished my desire and allowed me to see what I have always longed to see, now I pray you, just as I am and in this great bliss, to permit me to pass from this earthly life to that in heaven.”
As soon as Galahad had addressed this request to Our Lord, the good man who stood before the altar, dressed like a priest, took the Body of Our Lord from the table and offered it to Galahad. Humbly and devoutly he received it. And when he had partaken of it, the good man said to him: “Knowest thou who I am?” “Nay, lord, unless you tell me.” “Know, then,” said he, “that I am Josephe, son of Joseph of Arimathæa, whom Our Lord has sent to bear thee company. And knowest thou why He has sent me rather than another? Because thou hast resembled me in two respects: in that thou hast beheld the marvels of the Holy Grail as I have done, and in that thou hast been virgin as I am too; and it is right that one pure man should bear another company.”
When he heard this, Galahad came up to Perceval and kissed him; then he did the same to Bors, saying to him: “Bors, salute my father, my lord Lancelot, as soon as you see him.” Then Galahad prostrated himself on his elbows and knees before the table; but he had not been there long before he fell forward upon his face on the temple floor, for the soul was already gone from his body. And the angels bore him away with jubilation, blessing Our Lord.
As soon as Galahad had passed away, a great miracle happened there. For the two companions saw plainly that a hand came down from heaven; but they saw no body to which the hand belonged. Coming straight to the Holy Vessel, it seized it and the lance as well, and carried it up toward heaven, so that since then no man has been bold enough to assert that he had seen the Holy Grail.
When Perceval and Bors saw that Galahad was dead, never were men so sorrowful; and had they not been such good men of virtuous life, they might readily have fallen into despair for the great love they bore him. The people of the country mourned him sorely too, and were in deep distress. His grave was dug there where he died; and as soon as he was interred, Perceval withdrew to a hermitage without the city and assumed the religious garb. Bors accompanied him, but without laying aside his worldly dress, because he was desirous of returning to King Arthur’s court. Perceval lived a year and three days in the hermitage, and then died; and Bors had him buried with his sister and with Galahad in the temple.
When Bors saw that he was all alone in such a distant land as in these regions of Babylon, he left Sarraz all armed, and coming to the sea entered a ship. And he had such good fortune that in a very short time he arrived in the kingdom of Logres. When once in the country, he rode until he came to Camelot, where King Arthur was. Never was such joy made over anyone as over him; for they thought they had lost him forever, seeing that he had been so long absent from the country.
When they had finished their meal, the king sent for the clerks who used to set down in writing the adventures of the knights of the court. So when Bors had related the adventures of the Holy Grail just as he had beheld them, they were committed to writing and kept among the rolls at Salisbury. Master Walter Map got them from there to make his book of the Holy Grail for love of his lord King Henry, who ordered the story to be translated from Latin into French. Here the story concludes, without further mention of the Adventures of the Holy Grail.
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