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CHAPTER XXXI

How Sir Gareth came to a castle where he was well lodged, and he jousted with a knight and slew him.

THEN Sir Gareth rode unto the barbican of the castle, and prayed the porter fair to let him into the castle. The porter answered ungoodly again, and said, Thou gettest no lodging here. Fair sir, say not so, for I am a knight of King Arthur's, and pray the lord or the lady of this castle to give me harbour for the love of King Arthur. Then the porter went unto the duchess, and told her how there was a knight of King Arthur's would have harbour. Let him in, said the duchess, for I will see that knight, and for King Arthur's sake he shall not be harbourless. Then she yode up into a tower over the gate, with great torchlight.

When Sir Gareth saw that torch-light he cried on high: Whether thou be lord or lady, giant or champion, I take no force so that I may have harbour this night; and if it so be that I must needs fight, spare me not to-morn when I have rested me, for both I and mine horse be weary. Sir knight, said the lady, thou speakest knightly and boldly; but wit thou well the lord of this castle loveth not King Arthur, nor none of his court, for my lord hath ever been against him; and therefore thou were better not to come within this castle; for an thou come in this night, thou must come in under such form, that wheresomever thou meet my lord, by stigh or by street, thou must yield thee to him as prisoner. Madam, said Sir Gareth, what is your lord, and what is his name? Sir, my lord's name is the Duke de la Rowse. Well madam, said Sir Gareth, I shall promise you in what place I meet your lord I shall yield me unto him and to his good grace; with that I understand he will do me no harm: and if I understand that he will, I will release myself an I can with my spear and my sword. Ye say well, said the duchess; and then she let the drawbridge down, and so he rode into the hall, and there he alighted, and his horse was led into a stable; and in the hall he unarmed him and said, Madam, I will not out of this hall this night; and when it is daylight, let see who will have ado with me, he shall find me ready. Then was he set unto supper, and had many good dishes. Then Sir Gareth list well to eat, and knightly he ate his meat, and eagerly; there was many a fair lady by him, and some said they never saw a goodlier man nor so well of eating. Then they made him passing good cheer, and shortly when he had supped his bed was made there; so he rested him all night.

And on the morn he heard mass, and brake his fast and took his leave at the duchess, and at them all; and thanked her goodly of her lodging, and of his good cheer; and then she asked him his name. Madam, he said, truly my name is Gareth of Orkney, and some men call me Beaumains. Then knew she well it was the same knight that fought for Dame Lionesse. So Sir Gareth departed and rode up into a mountain, and there met him a knight, his name was Sir Bendelaine, and said to Sir Gareth: Thou shalt not pass this way, for either thou shalt joust with me, or else be my prisoner. Then will I joust, said Sir Gareth. And so they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body; and Sir Bendelaine rode forth to his castle there beside, and there died. So Sir Gareth would have rested him, and he came riding to Bendelaine's castle. Then his knights and servants espied that it was he that had slain their lord. Then they armed twenty good men, and came out and assailed Sir Gareth; and so he had no spear, but his sword, and put his shield afore him; and there they brake their spears upon him, and they assailed him passingly sore. But ever Sir Gareth defended him as a knight.

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