Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 16

CHAPTER XVI.
THE END OF THE QUEST.

SIR BOHORT.

WHEN Sir Bohort departed from Camelot he met with a religious man,
riding upon an ass; and Sir Bohort saluted him. "What are ye?" said
the good man. "Sir," said Sir Bohort, "I am a knight that fain would
be counselled in the quest of the Sangreal." So rode they both
together till they came to a hermitage; and there he prayed Sir Bohort
to dwell that night with him. So he alighted, and put away his
armor, and prayed him that he might be confessed. And they went both
into the chapel, and there he was clean confessed. And they ate
bread and drank water together. "Now," said the good man, "I pray thee
that thou eat none other till thou sit at the table where the Sangreal
shall be." "Sir," said Sir Bohort, "but how know ye that I shall sit
there?" "Yea," said the good man "that I know well; but there shall be
few of your fellows with you." Then said Sir Bohort, "I agree me
thereto." And the good man, when he had heard his confession, found
him in so pure a life and so stable that he marvelled thereof.
On the morrow, as soon as the day appeared, Sir Bohort departed
thence, and rode into a forest unto the hour of midday. And there
befell him a marvellous adventure. For he met, at the parting of two
ways, two knights that led Sir Lionel, his brother, all naked, bound
upon a strong hackney, and his hands bound before his breast; and each
of them held in his hand thorns wherewith they went beating him, so
that he was all bloody before and behind; but he said never a word,
but, as he was great of heart, he suffered all that they did to him as
though he had felt none anguish. Sir Bohort prepared to rescue his
brother. But he looked on the other side of him, and saw a knight
dragging along a fair gentlewoman, who cried out, "Saint Mary!
succor your maid!" And when she saw Sir Bohort, she called to him
and said, "By the faith that ye owe to knighthood, help me!" When
Sir Bohort heard her say thus, he had such sorrow that he wist not
what to do. For if I let my brother be he must be slain, and that
would I not for all the earth; and if I help not the maid I am
shamed forever." Then lift he up his eyes and said, weeping, "Fair
Lord, whose liegeman I am, keep Sir Lionel, my brother, that none of
these knights slay him, and for pity of you, and our Lady's sake, I
shall succor this maid."
Then he cried out to the knight, "Sir knight, lay your hand off that
maid, or else ye be but dead." Then the knight set down the maid,
and took his shield, and drew out his sword. And Sir Bohort smote
him so hard that it went through his shield and habergeon, on the left
shoulder, and he fell down to the earth. Then came Sir Bohort to the
maid, "Ye be delivered of this knight this time." "Now," said she,
"I pray you lead me there where this knight took me." "I shall
gladly do it," said Sir Bohort. So he took the horse of the wounded
knight and set the gentlewoman upon it, and brought her there where
she desired to be. And there he found twelve knights seeking after
her; and when she told them how Sir Bohort had delivered her, they
made great joy, and besought him to come to her father, a great
lord, and he should be right welcome. "Truly," said Sir Bohort,
"that may not be; for I have a great adventure to do." So he commended
them to God and departed.
Then Sir Bohort rode after Sir Lionel, his brother, by the trace
of their horses. Thus he rode, seeking, a great while. Then he
overtook a man clothed in a religious clothing, who said, "Sir knight,
what seek ye?" "Sir," said Sir Bohort, "I seek my brother, that I
saw within a little space beaten of two knights." "Ah, Sir Bohort,
trouble not thyself to seek for him, for truly he is dead." Then he
showed him a new-slain body, lying in a thick bush; and it seemed
him that it was the body of Sir Lionel. And then he made such sorrow
that he fell to the ground in a swoon, and lay there long. And when he
came to himself again he said, "Fair brother, since the fellowship
of you and me is sundered, shall I never have joy again; and now He
that I have taken for my master He be my help!" And when he had said
thus, he took up the body in his arms, and put it upon the horse.
And then he said to the man, "Canst thou tell me the way to some
chapel, where I may bury this body?" "Come on," said the man, "here is
one fast by." And so they rode till they saw a fair tower, and
beside it a chapel. Then they alighted both, and put the body into a
tomb of marble.
Then Sir Bohort commended the good man unto God, and departed. And
he rode all that day, and harbored with an old lady. And on the morrow
he rode unto the castle in a valley, and there he met with a yeoman.
"Tell me," said Sir Bohort, "knowest thou of any adventure?" "Sir,"
said he, "here shall be, under this castle, a great and marvellous
tournament." Then Sir Bohort thought to be there, if he might meet
with any of the fellowship that were in quest of the Sangreal; so he
turned to a hermitage that was on the border of the forest. And when
he was come thither, he found there Sir Lionel his brother, who sat
all armed at the entry of the chapel door. And when Sir Bohort saw
him, he had great joy, and he alighted off his horse, and said,
"Fair brother, when came ye hither?" As soon as Sir Lionel saw him, he
said, "Ah, Sir Bohort, make ye no false show, for, as for you, I might
have been slain, for ye left me in peril of death to go succor a
gentlewoman; and for that misdeed I now insure you but death, for ye
have right well deserved it." When Sir Bohort perceived his
brother's wrath, he kneeled down to the earth and cried him mercy,
holding up both his hands, and prayed him to forgive him. "Nay,"
said Sir Lionel, "thou shalt have but death for it, if I have the
upper hand; therefore leap upon thy horse and keep thyself; and if
thou do not, I will run upon thee there, as thou standest on foot, and
so the shame shall be mine, and the harm thine, but of that I reck
not." When Sir Bohort saw that he must fight with his brother or
else die, he wist not what to do. Then his heart counselled him not so
to do, inasmuch as Sir Lionel was his elder brother, wherefore he
ought to bear him reverence. Yet kneeled he down before Sir Lionel's
horse's feet, and said, "Fair brother, have mercy upon me, and slay me
not." But Sir Lionel cared not, for the fiend had brought him in
such a will that he should slay him. When he saw that Sir Bohort would
not rise to give him battle, he rushed over him, so that he smote
him with his horse's feet to the earth, and hurt him sore, that he
swooned of distress. When Sir Lionel saw this, he alighted from his
horse for to have smitten off his head; and so he took him by the
helm, and would have rent it from his head. But it happened that Sir
Colgrevance, a knight of the Round Table, came at that time thither,
as it was our Lord's will; and then he beheld how Sir Lionel would
have slain his brother, and he knew Sir Bohort, whom he loved right
well. Then leapt he down from his horse, and took Sir Lionel by the
shoulders, and drew him strongly back from Sir Bohort, and said,
"Sir Lionel, will ye slay your brother?" "Why," said Sir Lionel, "will
ye slay me? If ye interfere in this, I will slay you, and him
after." Then he ran upon Sir Bohort, and would have smitten him; but
Sir Colgrevance ran between them, and said, "If ye persist to do so
any more, we two shall meddle together." Then Sir Lionel defied him,
and gave him a great stroke through the helm. Then he drew his
sword, for he was a passing good knight, and defended himself right
manfully. So long endured the battle, that Sir Bohort rose up all
anguishly, and beheld Sir Colgrevance, the good knight, fight with his
brother for his quarrel. Then was he full sorry and heavy, and thought
that, if Sir Colgrevance slew him that was his brother, he should
never have joy, and if his brother slew Sir Colgrevance, the shame
should ever be his.
Then would he have risen for to have parted them, but he had not
so much strength to stand on his feet; so he staid so long that Sir
Colgrevance had the worse, for Sir Lionel was of great chivalry and
right hardy. Then cried Sir Colgrevance, "Ah, Sir Bohort, why come
ye not to bring me out of peril of death, wherein I have put me to
succor you?" With that, Sir Lionel smote off his helm, and bore him to
the earth. And when he had slain Sir Colgrevance, he ran upon his
brother as a fiendly man, and gave him such a stroke that he made
him stoop. And he that was full of humility prayed him, "For God's
sake leave this battle, for if it befell, fair brother, that I slew
you, or ye me, we should be dead of that sin." "Pray ye not me for
mercy," said Sir Lionel. Then Sir Bohort, all weeping, drew his sword,
and said, "Now God have mercy upon me, though I defend my life against
my brother." With that Sir Bohort lifted up his sword, and would
have stricken his brother. Then heard he a voice that said, "Flee, Sir
Bohort, and touch him not." Right so alighted a cloud between them, in
the likeness of a fire, and a marvellous flame, so that they both fell
to the earth, and lay there a great while in a swoon. And when they
came to themselves, Sir Bohort saw that his brother had no harm; and
he was right glad, for he dread sore that God had taken vengeance upon
him. Then Sir Lionel said to his brother, "Brother, forgive me, for
God's sake, all that I have trespassed against you." And Sir Bohort
answered, "God forgive it thee, and I do."
With that Sir Bohort heard a voice say, "Sir Bohort, take thy way
anon, right to the sea, for Sir Perceval abideth thee there." So Sir
Bohort departed, and rode the nearest way to the sea. And at last he
came to an abbey that was nigh the sea. That night he rested him
there, and in his sleep there came a voice unto him and bade him go to
the sea-shore. He started up, and made the sign of the cross on his
forehead, and armed himself and made ready his horse and mounted
him, and at a broken wall he rode out, and came to the sea-shore.
And there he found a ship, covered all with white samite. And he
entered into the ship; but it was anon so dark that he might see no
man, and he laid him down and slept till it was day. Then he awaked,
and saw in the middle of the ship a knight all armed, save his helm.
And then he knew it was Sir Perceval de Galis, and each made of
other right great joy. Then said Sir Perceval, "We lack nothing now
but the good knight Sir Galahad."

OF SIR LAUNCELOT AGAIN.

It befell upon a night Sir Launcelot arrived before a castle,
which was rich and fair. And there was a postern that opened toward
the sea, and was open without any keeping, save two lions kept the
entry; and the moon shined clear. Anon Sir Launcelot heard a voice
that said, "Launcelot, enter into the castle, where thou shalt see a
great part of thy desire." So he went unto the gate, and saw the two
lions; then he set hands to his sword, and drew it. Then there came
suddenly as it were a stroke upon the arm, so sore that the sword fell
out of his hand, and he heard a voice that said, "O man of evil faith,
wherefore believest thou more in thy armor than in thy Maker?" Then
said Sir Launcelot, "Fair Lord, I thank thee of thy great mercy,
that thou reprovest me of my misdeed; now see I well that thou holdest
me for thy servant." Then he made a cross on his forehead, and came to
the lions; and they made semblance to do him harm, but he passed
them without hurt, and entered into the castle, and he found no gate
nor door but it was open. But at the last he found a chamber whereof
the door was shut; and he set his hand thereto, to have opened it, but
he might not. Then he listened, and heard a voice which sung so
sweetly that it seemed none earthly thing; and the voice said, "Joy
and honor be to the Father of heaven." Then Sir Launcelot kneeled down
before the chamber, for well he wist that there was the Sangreal in
that chamber. Then said he, "Fair, sweet Lord, if ever I did
anything that pleased thee for thy pity show me something of that
which I seek." And with that he saw the chamber door open, and there
came out a great clearness, that the house was as bright as though all
the torches of the world had been there. So he came to the chamber
door, and would have entered; and anon a voice said unto him, "Stay,
Sir Launcelot, and enter not." And he withdrew him back, and was right
heavy in his mind. Then looked he in the midst of the chamber, and saw
a table of silver, and the holy vessel, covered with red samite, and
many angels about it; whereof one held a candle of wax burning, and
another held a cross, and the ornaments of the altar. Then, for very
wonder and thankfulness, Sir Launcelot forgot himself, and he
stepped forward and entered the chamber. And suddenly a breath that
seemed intermixed with fire smote him so sore in the visage, that
therewith he fell to the ground, and had no power to rise. Then felt
he many hands about him, which took him up, and bare him out of the
chamber, without any amending of his swoon, and left him there,
seeming dead to all the people. So on the morrow, when it was fair
daylight, and they within were arisen, they found Sir Launcelot
lying before the chamber door. And they looked upon him and felt his
pulse, to know it there were any life in him. And they found life in
him, but he might neither stand nor stir any member that he had. So
they took him and bare him into a chamber, and laid him upon a bed,
far from all folk, and there he lay many days. Then the one said he
was alive, and others said nay. But said an old man, "He is as full of
life as the mightiest of you all, and therefore I counsel you that
he be well kept till God bring him back again." And after
twenty-four days he opened his eyes; and when he saw folk, he made
great sorrow, and said, "Why have ye wakened me? for I was better at
ease than I am now." "What have ye seen?" said they about him. "I have
seen," said he, "great marvels that no tongue can tell, and more
than any heart can think." Then they said, "Sir, the quest of the
Sangreal is achieved right now in you, and never shall ye see more
of it than ye have seen." "I thank God," said Sir Launcelot, "of His
great mercy, for that I have seen, for it sufficeth me." Then he
rose up and clothed himself; and when he was so arrayed, they
marvelled all, for they knew it was Sir Launcelot, the good knight.
And, after four days, he took his leave of the lord of the castle, and
of all the fellowship that were there, and thanked them for their
great labor and care of him. Then he departed, and turned to
Camelot, where he found King Arthur and Queen Guenever; but many of
the knights of the Round Table were slain and destroyed, more than
half. Then all the court was passing glad of Sir Launcelot; and he
told the king all his adventures that had befallen him since he
departed.

SIR GALAHAD.

Now when Sir Galahad had rescued Perceval from the twenty knights,
he rode into a vast forest, wherein he abode many days. Then he took
his way to the sea, and it befell him that he was benighted in a
hermitage. And the good man was glad when he saw he was a
knight-errant. And when they were at rest, there came a gentlewoman
knocking at the door; and the good man came to the door to wit what
she would. Then she said, "I would speak with the knight which is with
you." Then Galahad went to her, and asked her what she would. "Sir
Galahad," said she, "I will that ye arm you, and mount upon your
horse, and follow me; for I will show you the highest adventure that
ever knight saw." Then Galahad armed himself and commended himself
to God, and bade the damsel go before, and he would follow where she
led.
So she rode as fast as her palfrey might bear her, till she came
to the sea; and there they found the ship where Sir Bohort and Sir
Perceval were, who cried from the ship, "Sir Galahad, you are welcome;
we have awaited you long," And when he heard them, he asked the damsel
who they were. "Sir," said she, "leave your horse here, and I shall
leave mine, and we will join ourselves to their company." So they
entered the ship, and the two knights received them both with great
joy. For they knew the damsel, that she was Sir Perceval's sister.
Then the wind arose and drove them through the sea all that day and
the next, till the ship arrived between two rocks, passing great and
marvellous; but there they might not land, for there was a
whirlpool; but there was another ship, and upon it they might go
without danger. "Go we thither," said the gentlewoman, and there shall
we see adventures, for such is our Lord's will." Then Sir Galahad
blessed him, and entered therein, and then next the gentlewoman, and
then Sir Bohort and Sir Perceval. And when they came on board, they
found there the table of silver, and the Sangreal, which was covered
with red samite. And they made great reverence thereto, and Sir
Galahad prayed a long time to our Lord, that at what time he should
ask to pass out of this world, he should do so; and a voice said to
him, "Galahad, thou shalt have thy request; and when thou askest the
death of thy body thou shalt have it, and then shalt thou find the
life of thy soul.
And anon the wind drove them across the sea, till they came to the
city of Sarras. Then they took our of the ship the table of silver,
and he took it to Sir Perceval and Sir Bohort to go before, and Sir
Galahad came behind, and right so they came to the city, and at the
gate of the city they saw an old man, crooked. Then Sir Galahad called
him and bade him help bear this heavy thing. "Truly," said the old
man, "it is ten years ago that I might not go save with crutches."
"Care thou not," said Sir Galahad, "but arise up and show thy good
will." And so he assayed and found himself as whole as ever he was.
Then ran he to the table and took one part against Sir Galahad. And
anon arose there a great noise in the city, that a cripple was made
whole by knights marvellous that entered into the city. Then anon
after, the three knights went to the water, and brought up into the
palace Sir Perceval's sister. And when the king of the city, which was
cleped Estorause, saw the fellowship, he asked them of whence they
were, and what thing it was they had brought upon the table of silver.
And they told him the truth of the Sangreal, and the power which God
had set there. Then the king was a tyrant, and was come of the line of
Paynims, and took them and put them in prison in a deep hole.
But as soon as they were there, our Lord sent them the Sangreal,
through whose grace they were always filled while that they were in
prison. So at the year's end it befell that this king Estorause lay
sick, and felt that he should die. Then he sent for the three knights,
and they came afore him, and he cried them mercy of that he had done
to them, and they forgave it him goodly, and he died anon. When the
king was dead, all the city was dismayed, and wist not who might be
their king. Right so they were in council, there came a voice among
them, and bade them choose the youngest knight of them three to be
their king, "for he shall well maintain you and all yours." So they
made Sir Galahad king by all the assent of the whole city, and else
they would have slain him. And when he was come to behold the land, he
had made about the table of silver a chest of gold and of precious
stones that covered the holy vessel, and every day early the three
fellows would come afore it and make their prayers. Now at the
year's end, and the next day after Sir Galahad had borne the crown
of gold, he rose up early, and his fellows, and came to the palace,
and saw before them the holy vessel, and a man kneeling on his
knees, in likeness of a bishop, that had about him a great
fellowship of angels, as it had been Jesus Christ himself. And then he
arose and began a mass of Our Lady. And when he came to the
sacrament of the mass, and had done, anon he called Sir Galahad, and
said to him, "Come forth, the servant of Jesus Christ, and thou
shalt see that thou hast much desired to see." And then he began to
tremble right hard, when the deadly flesh began to behold the
spiritual things. Then he held up his hands toward heaven, and said,
"Lord, I thank thee. for now I see that that hath been my desire
many a day. Now. blessed Lord. would I not longer live; if it might
please thee, Lord." And therewith the good man took our Lord's body
betwixt his hands and proffered it to Sir Galahad, and he received
it right gladly and meekly. "Now, wottest thou what I am?" said the
good man. "Nay," said Sir Galahad. "I am Joseph of Arimathea, which
our Lord hath sent here to bear thee fellowship. And wottest thou
wherefore that he hath sent me more than any other? For thou hast
resembled me in two things, in that thou hast seen the marvels of
the Sangreal, and in that thou hast been a clean maiden as I have been
and am." And when he had said these words Sir Galahad went to Sir
Perceval and kissed him, and commended him to God. And so he went to
Sir Bohort and kissed him, and commended him to God, and said, "Fair
lord, salute me to my lord Sir Launcelot, my father, and as soon as ye
see him bid him remember of this unstable world." And therewith he
kneeled down before the table and made his prayers, and then
suddenly his soul departed to Jesus Christ, and a great multitude of
angels bare his soul up to heaven, that the two fellows might well
behold it. Also the two fellows saw come from heaven a hand, but
they saw not the body; and then it came right to the vessel, and
took it and the spear, and so bare it up to heaven. Sithen there was
never man so hardy to say that he had seen the Sangreal.
When Sir Perceval and Sir Bohort saw Sir Galahad dead they made as
much sorrow as ever did two men; and if they had not been good men
they might lightly have fallen into despair. And the people of the
country and of the city were right heavy. And then he was buried.
And as soon as he was buried Sir Perceval yielded him to an
hermitage out of the city, and took a religious clothing; and Sir
Bohort was always with him, but never changed he his secular clothing,
for that he purposed to go again into the realm of Loegria. Thus a
year and two months lived Sir Perceval in the hermitage a full holy
life, and then he passed out of this world. And Sir Bohort let bury
him by his sister and by Sir Galahad.
And when Sir Bohort saw that he was in so far countries as in the
parts of Babylon, he departed from Sarras, and armed him, and came
to the sea, and entered into a ship, and so it befell him in good
adventure he came into the realm of Loegria. And he rode so fast
till he came to Camelot, where the king was. And then was there
great joy made of him in the court, for they wend all he had been
dead, forasmuch as he had been so long out of the country. And when
they had eaten, the king made great clerks to come afore him, that
they should chronicle of the high adventures of the good knights. Then
Sir Bohort told him of the adventures of the Sangreal, such as had
befallen him and his three fellows, that was Sir Launcelot, Sir
Perceval, and Sir Galahad. Then Sir Launcelot told the adventures of
the Sangreal that he had seen. All this was made in great books, and
put in almeries in Salisbury. And anon Sir Bohort said to Sir
Launcelot, "Galahad, your own son, saluted you by me, and after you
King Arthur, and all the court, and so did Sir Perceval; for I
buried them with mine own hands in the city of Sarras. Also, Sir
Launcelot, Galahad prayeth you to remember of this uncertain world, as
ye behight him when ye were together more than half a year." "This
is true," said Sir Launcelot; "now I trust to God his prayer shall
avail me." Then Sir Launcelot took Sir Bohort in his arms, and said,
"Gentle cousin, ye are right welcome to me, and all that ever I may do
for you and for yours, ye shall find my poor body ready at all times
whiles the spirit is in it, and that I promise you faithfully, and
never to fail. And wit ye well, gentle cousin Sir Bohort, that ye
and I will never part in sunder whilst our lives may last." "Sir,"
said he, "I will as ye will."
Thus endeth the history of the Sangreal, which is a story chronicled
as one of the truest and holiest that is in this world.

Tennyson has among his shorter poems one on Sir Galahad which we add
as being the conception of this purest of knights held by the poet who
has loved best of all English poets the old stories of the Knights
of the Round Table:-

SIR GALAHAD.

"My good blade carves the casques of men,
My tough lance thrusteth sure,
My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure.
The shattering trumpet shrilleth high,
The hard brands shiver on the steel,
The splintered spear-shafts crack and fly,
The horse and rider reel:
They reel, they roll in clanging lists,
And when the tide of combat stands,
Perfume and flowers fall in showers,
That lightly rain from ladies' hands

"How sweet are looks that ladies bend
On whom their favors fall!
For them I battle to the end,
To save from shame and thrall:
But all my heart is drawn above,
My knees are bound in crypt and shrine:
I never felt the kiss of love,
Nor maiden's hand in mine.
More bounteous aspects on me beam,
Me mightier transports move and thrill;
So keep I fair thro' faith and prayer,
A virgin heart in work and will.

"When down the stormy crescent goes,
A light before me swims,
Between dark stems the forest glows,
I hear a noise of hymns:
Then by some secret shrine I ride;
I hear a voice, but none are there;
The stalls are void, the doors are wide,
The tapers burning fair.
Fair gleams the snowy altar-cloth,
The silver vessels sparkle clean,
The shrill bell rings, the censer swings,
And solemn chants resound between.

"Sometimes on lonely mountain meres
I find a magic bark;
I leap on board; no helmsman steers:
I float till all is dark,
A gentle sound, an awful light!
Three angels bear the holy Grail:
With folded feet, in stoles of white,
On sleeping wings they sail.
Ah, blessed vision! blood of God!
My spirit beats her mortal bars,
As down dark tides the glory slides
And star-like mingles with the stars.

"When on my goodly charger borne
Thro' dreaming towns I go,
The cock crows ere the Christmas morn,
The streets are dumb with snow.
The tempest crackles on the leads,
And, ringing, springs from brand and mail;
But o'er the dark a glory spreads
And gilds the driving hail.
I leave the plain, I climb the height;
No branchy thicket shelter yields;
But blessed forms in whisking storms
Fly o'er waste fens and windy fields.

"A maiden knight- to me is given
Such hope, I know not fear;
I yearn to breathe the airs of heaven
That often meet me here.
I muse on joy that will not cease,
Pure spaces clothed in living beams,
Pure lilies of eternal peace,
Whose odors haunt my dreams;
And stricken by an angel's hand,
This mortal armour that I wear,
This weight and rise, this heart and eyes,
Are touched, are turned to finest air.

"The clouds are broken in the sky,
And thro' the mountain-walls
A rolling organ-harmony
Swells up, and shakes and falls.
Then move the trees, the copses nod,
Wings flutter, voices hover clear:
O just and faithful knight of God!
Ride on! the prize is near!
So pass I hostel, hall, and grange;
By hedge and ford, by park and pale,
All armed I ride, whate'er betide,
Until I find the holy Grail."

Thomas Bulfinch