Merlin and the Young Squires
MERLIN AND THE YOUNG SQUIRES: FOOTNOTES1 ledde, experienced.
2 abode, waited upon.
4 of, by.
5 be, by.
6 ese, ease.
7 moste, must.
8-9 nought for that, not because.
9 pereile, peril.
10 do yow to wite, want you to know; beth, are.
11 to many, too many [invaders].
12 her, their.
13 moo, more.
15 departed, divided; oo, one.
16 yede upon, went against.
18 hadde i-be, had occurred.
19 discounfitures, fierce encounters.
20 asege, besiege.
24 cleped, called.
25 do yow to wete, want you to know; but, unless.
27 be take but, be defeated unless.
29 nothir hider ne thider, neither here nor there, i. e., nowhere.
31 yef, if.
34 noon evell, no ill will.
36 er than, before.
37 comaunde, commend.
38 thens, thence.
39 than, then.
42 seth, since.
42-43 were fallen to, had befallen.
48 meyné, army; logged, encamped.
52 seth, since.
54 that, [and then] that.
55 trussed theire harneys, readied their gear.
56 so as thei, just like those.
57 fonde not of whom, found no one.
58 brent, burned.
59 ne wiste no worde, knew nothing; blusshed, came.
60 dessevered on, separated into.
61 noon hem ne letted of the pray, no one stopped them from taking the booty.
63 childeren, young warriors.
65 tho, those.
66 eiled, ailed.
68 than, then.
74 what wey stondeth, which way is.
75 right well, perfectly.
77 dureth wele, i.e., stretches for.
80 as armes, to arms.
82 bere nought, take nothing; be, by; dere solde, dearly bought.
83 hem thourgh, through them.
84 be, by; mystere, skill.
85 do on, put on.
87 coiffes, hoods of mail.
89 seche, seek.
89-90 renged clos, gathered closely.
90 on a sop as starlinges, as starlings on a piece of bread.
93-94 were fallen seth, had occurred since.
96 cote, coat; moche, tall; courbed, bent over.
97 entermedled, mixed.
98-99 drof gret foyson of beestes, drove a great many beasts.
101 here, hear; yede, went.
104 whiche, what; lese, lose.
107 sowle, soul.
108 very, true.
109 man, one.
110 dispitousely, pitifully; martired, put to death; defaute, lack.
111 carl, rustic fellow.
113 he, i.e., Gawain.
114 kepe, protect; wiste, knew.
117 karll, rustic; cleped, called; high, loud.
118 hedir, here; thow aylest, troubles you.
119 regratynge, lamenting.
121 leide, put his hand; as, as if.
124 waymented, lamented; bestes, animals.
128 Certeys, Surely.
130 angwisshouse, anxious.
131 waymented, lamented.
132 Howe, Stop.
134 in travers, the other way; as, as if.
135 eftesoones, again; lefte, raised.
136 lothly, ugly; rivelid, shriveled.
138 wilt thow, do you want.
139 nerre, nearer.
140 diche, dry moat.
141 will, wish.
142 whi that, why; what, who; regreted, lamented.
143 graunte, promise.
144 delyver, rescue.
147 wite, know.
148 what, who.
151 ayen, against; contened, fought.
153 what be thei, who are they.
158 ne, nor; Netherdeles, Nevertheless.
159 avaunte, boast.
160 emprise, enterprise.
163 sue, follow.
165 what oon what other, all told.
166 ther, where.
167 childeren, youths.
168 thinge, i.e., purpose; formest, in front; theras, to where.
169 neyhed nygh, came near.
171 hem, them (Saxons).
172 prowesse, deeds.
175 as, as if; be, been; see, sea.
177 perce thourgh, break through; so, such.
178 raught, struck.
179 durst, dared.
180 launched to, hurled at; gleyves, lances.
181 that, unless.
182 but as, except that.
184 kepte hem, held them; short and streite, tightly together; noon, none; felly, fiercely.
188 ne hadde, had not.
190 stour, battle; mischief, danger.
191 shofte, thrust.
193 contene, fight.
194 renge, field.
195 wratthed, angered.
196 fonde, found.
199 moche, large.
200 araught, struck; warant, protected.
204 what, who.
205 delyverly, quickly; myster, need.
206 renged, grouped; lete renne, charged.
208 agein, against; of, by.
210-11 withoute hem, not counting those.
211 brente, burned.
212 saugh, saw; felly, fiercely.
215 iyen, eyes.
217 plites, folds.
221 Saisne, Saxon; wende, intended.
222 douted, feared.
225 cercle, helmet band.
226 chyne, backbone; he, i.e., Orienx; blusht, fell.
227 drof, fell.
229 heed fley, head flew.
230 at, on.
231 environ, around.
232 presse, fray; stonyed of, stunned from.
233 ne meve no membre, nor move any limb.
234 lothly chere, terrible looks; so hidouse semblant, such a hideous appearance; wende, thought.
235 doell, mourning.
239 yef, if; be, by.
242 wiste, knew.
244 salvde, greeted; deboner, gracious.
246 seth that, since.
247 repeyre, abide; what, who.
250 not elles, no reason.
254 what abide ye, why do you tarry.
255 worle, tumult.
257 so grete foison, so many.
260 and hit, if it.
261 go we hens, [let us] go hence.
262 streite, tightly.
264 entended, attended.
265 disturdison, [his] distress.
268 acooley, blow.
269 aquyte, pay back.
270 wende, thought.
271 were go thens, had gone hence.
272 ensigne, flag-bearer.
274 oon ne abode not, one did not wait for.
277 nyghed nygh to atteyne, nearly reached; Cristin, Christians.
278 than, when; yeve, given.
279 hasted sore, urged; tother, others.
280 gretter paas, faster pace.
280-81 were sore hasted, had to hurry.
283 harneys, gear; heirde, herdsman.
285 over charged, knocked down.
286 nas, was not any; durste, dared.
287 wheras as, where; ne, nor.
291 chielde, youth (knight).
292 rought litill, cared little.
293 restreyne, stop.
294 wight and delyver, quick and agile.
295 flat, i.e., the side of the ax.
296 wiste, knew; heilde, held.
297 astoned, stunned.
300-01 berafte, cut off.
301 caught, grabbed.
304 cours, charge.
305 rested upon, set upon; have take, capture.
306 suffre, allow.
307 tho, those.
308 slough, slew.
309 stered, conducted.
312 diffouled, trampled.
313 tobrosed, bruised.
314 saf, except.
315 be, by; seth, since; remeved, departed.
316 delyverly, freely.
318 a softe paas, an easy pace.
320 disturdison, his distress.
321 wode, crazed.
322 bailly, custody; do hem be flain all quyk, have them skinned alive.
323 full fell pawtener, terrible fellow.
325 bailly, custody.
326 warantise, protect.
332 remeve, move.
333 walop, gallop.
334 yoven, given.
339 evell, poorly; demened, conducted yourselves.
341 come yow, i.e., give you; foulé, foully.
343 chivalries, fine deeds; yoven, given.
344 that1, so that.
345 theras, when.
349 repress, disgrace.
351 shamefest, ashamed; mate, dejected.
352 nadde, had not.
353 felon, a horrible.
356 yates, gates.
358 hooll, whole.
360 arson, bow.
363 stynte for, refused; conjured, begged.
365 what it, who he.
367 wend, thought.
369 seth, since.
370 saf, except for.
371 trowe, believe; paraventure, perhaps.
372 seche, seek.
373 yef, if.
374 for defaute, by default.
376 knave, youth.
381 drough, drew; yates, gates.
383 talent, desire.
387 wherfore, why.
389 of oon and other, by everyone.
391 bounté, ability.
392 moche, large.
397 agein, against.
MERLIN AND THE YOUNG SQUIRES: NOTES
Merlin and the Young Squires
[Fols. 90r (line 12)-103v (line 29)]
Making considerable use of his shape-shifting abilities, Merlin tests the mettle of the Young Squires; Gawain, in particular, proves himself up to the challenge. Here Sir Sagremor, who has come all the way from Constantinople to be knighted by Arthur, establishes himself as one of the best young knights within the group also.
87-88 lefte theire palfreyes and lepe upon stedes. Here the young knights exchange their riding horses (their palfreys) for their warhorses (their steeds).
Summary Based on EETS 21, pp. 271-95.
[Merlin and the Young Squires]
Full grete was the joye that thei ledde in the town of Toraise for the victorie and
the wynnynge that thei hadde upon theire enmyes; and thei abode theire peple that
assembled every day on every part. And the Kynge Arthur ther was full richely
served and honoured of the Kynge Leodogan and of his doughter, that moche her
peyned be the comaundement of hir fader.
And upon a day as the Kynge Arthur was moche worshiped and in grete ese,
than Merlin com and toke the thre kynges apart and seide, "Sirs, I moste go into
the reame of Logres, for ther is now grete nede of counseyle and of helpe, nought
for that the londe hath eny pereile, but that it shall well be deffended from evell
doers. And I do yow to wite that the princes and the barouns beth moche greved
with the Saisnes that to many have in her londes; and thei have beseged two citees
thourgh her pride, wherof that oon is Vandesberes and the tother is Clarence. And
ther be assembled the peple of moo than forty dyverse regiouns, and yet thei
encrece every day more and more."
And than he hem tolde how that the Saisnes were departed, and how that oo
parte yede upon the Kynge of Cornewaile, and the tother upon the Kynge Loot,
and the thirde upon the Kynge Clarion and the Duke Escam. And after that he
tolde hem alle the tidinges and alle the batailes and all the trouble that hadde i-be,
and all the discounfitures betwene the Saisnes and Cristin kynges, and the grete
parliament that the Saisnes heilden for to asege the two townes; and how Ewein
the Grete and Ewein the Avoutres were departed fro Kynge Urien her fader; and
how Dodinell the Savage and Kay Destranx and Kehedin Lebeus com on thetother
side toward Logres to abide ther with Gawein, and seide how thei wolde never be
cleped knyghtis unto the tyme that the Kynge Arthur hem girde with her swerdes.
"And I do yow to wete that thei may not endure but thei have other counseile
than her owne, for the Saisnes be so spredde aboute thourgh the londe that thei
shull be take but thei have better counseile than hemself. And that is the cause
that I will go. And loke that ye be mery and well at ese and resteth yow, that ye go
nothir hider ne thider till that ye se me. And I shall not longe tarye."
"Ha, feire frende," seide the Kynge Ban, "ne abide not longe, for than sholde
we alle be deed and distroied; yef ye us now forsake, we myght sey that ye hadde
us alle betraied." "How is that, feire lordes? Have ye doute that I sholde not come
agein? Now bewar that never ye it thinke, for than have ye loste my love." "Sir,"
seide the Kynge Ban, "I thenke it for noon evell that I have to yow, but for to have
your companye that I so moche love." "Now lete it be," quod Merlin, "for ye
shull me have here agein with yow er than ye have bataile in this reame. And
therfore I yow comaunde to God, for I may here no lenger tarien." And with that
he departed so sodeynly thens that thei knewe not where he was become.
And than he com the same nyght to Blase his maister in Northumbirlonde, that
grete joye hym made whan he hym saugh, as he that loved moche his companye.
And Merlin tolde hym alle these aventures that were befallen in the reme of
Tamelide seth that he departed; and after that he tolde hym alle thinges that were
fallen to the kynges of the reame of Grete Bretaigne, that nought he lefte untolde.
And he wrote in hys booke worde for worde like as he hym tolde; and by hym
have we the knowinge therof into this tyme. And whan he hadde alle these thinges
writen, thanne he tolde hym for what nede he hadde lefte the thre kynges in the
reame of Tamelide. And the same nyght that Merlin spake thus with Blase was
Orienx and his meyné logged upon the river of Humbir, enteringe into the londe.
But now resteth the processe of Merlin and of Blase a while, and of the Saisnes,
and speketh of Seigramor that is departed fro Costantynnoble with thre hundred
felowes for to be made knyghtes of Kynge Arthurs honde.
Now seith the booke of Blase that so hath Seigramor hym spedde seth that he
departed fro the riche citee of Costantynnoble, that he com to the port of Hucent,
that thei arived at the port of Dover. And whan thei were alle come to the londe,
thei were right gladde, and trussed theire harneys and lepe on theire horse and
toke theire wey toward Kamelot, and journeyed so as thei that knewe not the
weyes ne fonde not of whom to aske after the Kynge Arthur, and fonde also the
contrey brent and wasted as the Saisnes hadde passeth thourgh. And the childeren
ne wiste no worde till sodeinly thei blusshed upon a grete parté of Saisnes that
Orienx hadde dessevered on a companye; and [thei] were twenty thousand and
wente robbinge aboute Norhant that noon hem ne letted of the pray that theire
peple hadde gadered.
Whan these childeren aproched the Saisnes withynne a myle, thei mette with
peple of the contrey that fledde to the wode for drede, for in the londe was grete
sorow and desese in tho dayes. Whan the childeren hem mette, thei asked what
hem eiled; and thei hem tolde that thei fledde for the Saisnes that all the contré
distroied. And than Seigramor asked, "Where is the Kynge Arthur?" And thei
ansuered that he was gon into the reame of Tamelide. "And who is than in this
londe?" quod Seigramor. Than seide the men of the contrey that the sones of
Kynge Loot of Orcanye, that were nevewes of Kynge Arthur, were come for to
serve for to take theire armes of Kynge Arthur. "And where ben thei?" quod
Seigramor. "At Camelot," seide thei. "But for Goddes love, feire gentill knyghtes,
ne go not ferther, for than shull ye alle be slain and distroied."
"Now," quod Seigramor, "telle us what wey stondeth Camelot." "Trewly," seiden
thei, "ye be right well in the wey, yef it ne were for these false sarazins that here
be comynge; and therfore fleeth, or ye be alle deed." "How fer is it hens to Camelot?"
quod Seigramor. "Sir, it is six mile unto a plain that dureth wele two myle fro
Whan Seigramor undirstode that he hadde but eight myle, he cried to his felowes
and seide, "Gentill squyers, now as armes, for now shall be sein who is noble and
worthi; and loke that thise mysbelevinge Saisnes that thus distroieth the Cristin
feith ne bere nought awey of youres be force but it be dere solde; for yef we may
passe hem thourgh and gete betwene hem and Camelot, we shull than come thider
be strengthe of oure horse yef we have grete mystere."
Than alight the squyers and hem armed. Ther sholde ye have sein hem do on
fressh newe hauberkes, bright shynynge as fin silveir; and thei hadden hattes of
fin steill above their coiffes of iren upon their heedes. And than thei lefte theire
palfreyes and lepe upon stedes covered in maile that thei hadde ther, so goode and
so feire that no man neded to seche better in no londe. And than thei hem renged
clos on a sop as starlinges, and rode forth toward the Saisnes that saugh hem
comynge. But now a litill resteth of hem and speke of Merlyn that was in
Northumberlonde with Blase.
Whan Merlin hadde tolde to Blase alle the merveiles of the londe as thei were
fallen seth he departed from hym, in the morowe erly he com before the town of
Camelot. And he com in the semblaunce of an olde man and hadde on a russet
cote, torne and all thredebare; and he was moche and longe and courbed and brode
sholdered and leene for age, and the heer of his heede entermedled white and
broun, and longe berde, and bar a grete staff on his nekke, and drof gret foyson of
beestes before hym.
And whan he com before the town, he began to make grete sorow and cried
high and cleer that thei withynne upon the walles myght wele it here how he yede,
seyinge, "Ha! Lorde God! How grete pité is it that so feire children shull thus be
slayn and alle tohewen with wronge and grete synne! A-Ha! Kynge Arthur! Goode
sir, whiche frendes thow shalt lese this day that moche thee sholdenhelpe, yef
thei myght lyve, thi londe to mayntene! Ha! Seigramor! Gentill squyer, fre and
deboneir, that thow shalt thus suffre angwissh of deth! Now oure Lorde God yow
socoure and helpe that ye be not slain; and yef that ye be ded, He have the sowle
of yow that it be never turmentid in the peynes of Helle, as He is a very God and
man full of mercy and grace, and also to save and helpe yowre felowes in the
manere that thus dispitousely shull be martired for defaute of socoure."
These wordes that the carl seide undirstode well Gawein and his bretheren that
were upon the walles of the towne. And [thei] were alleredy armed and beheilde
the fier and the smoke of the Saisnes as thei brente the contrey aboute, for he was
come to Camelot for to kepe the town as soone as thei wiste the Saisnes were
entred the contrey, and were gon upon the walles to see yef the Saisnes come for
to assaile the town. And Gawein hadde wele herde and undirstonde the wordes
that the karll hadde seide. Than Gawein hym cleped with an high voyse and seide,
"Man! Man! Com hedir and speke with me and tell us what thow aylest and whi
thow makest this sorow; and telle us who is that that thow goist thus regratynge
And the carll leide to the deef ere and smote his staff on the grounde as he
hadde ben oute of his mynde for grete sorow that he hadde at his herte. And than
he lenyd hym upon his staff and began to make grete sorowe. And whan he hadde
thus hym longe waymented, he drof agein his bestes as though he wolde have
fledde to the forest. And than he seide agein with an high voyce, "A-Haa! Chivalrie
of Logres, where art thow become? For withynne these eight dayes men seide
ther was come into this contrey all the socoure of the worlde, and I herde sey that
the nevewes of Kynge Arthur sholde defende this contrey. Certeys, evell it sheweth
whan he suffreth to be slain the merveile of the worlde."
Whan that Gawein undirstode these wordes, he was right angwisshouse for to
knowe whi the carll hadde this seide and whi he so waymented, and clepedhym
agein with a lowde voyce thre or foure tymes and seide, "Howe, karll, howe!
Speke to me and telle me what thow eilest."
And ever he turned the heed in travers and made semblant as he hadde hym not
herde. And Gawein hym cleped eftesoones, and than he lefte up his heed that was
lothly and rivelid and loked on high to hym with oon eye open and another clos,
and grennynge with his teth as a man that loked agein the sonne, and ansuered,
"What wilt thow?"
Quod Gawein, "Come a litill nerre and speke with me." And he drough ner till
he com undir the walles of the town upon the diche and seide, "Now maist thow
sey what thow wilt, but sey hastely, for my bestes gon." "I will," quod Gawein,
"that thow telle whi that thow wepest, and what he is that thow hast thus regreted,
and whi thow hast so blamed the chyvalrie of this contrey." "Yef thow wilt graunte
me that thow shalt do thi power to delyver hym, I will telle thee." "I thee graunte,"
quod Gawein, "as I am trewe squyer that I shall therto do all my myght that I have
in the worlde."
And whan the karll herde that Gawein was so desirouse for to wite whi he was
come thider, he seide to Gawein, "Feire sir, what be ye?" "My name," quod he,
"is Gawein, the nevew of Kynge Arthur." "Treuly, I have grete pitee of a companye
of yonge gentilmen that beth high mennes sones that beth fightinge at the ende of
this launde ayen the Saisnes, that never so fewe men contened so longe agein so
moche peple, for thei [be] but thre hundred that fighten agein thre thousande."
"And what be thei," quod Gawein, "and what go thei for to seche?"
Quod the karll, "Thei sey that the lorde of hem is cleped Seigramor, the nevew
of the emperour of Costantinnoble, that is come into this contrey for to take his
armes of the Kynge Arthur. Now have I seide all that I knowe; but I knowe it well
that ye will not hym socoure, and so I have loste my laboure, for I knowe well
that ye have not the herte ne the hardynesse for to go thider. Netherdeles, yef ye
go thider and ye may hym socoure, ye may yow avaunte that ye havewonne a
feire emprise and a riche."
Whan Gawein undirstode the wordes of the karll that so hym cleped cowarde,
he was ashamed and cried, "Now to horse, gentill knyghtes and gentill felowes,
and sue me, for I go!" And as sone as he hadde seide that worde, he lepe to horse
and alle his felowes after, and rode oute of the town in all haste; and whan thei
were alle oute, thei were four thousand what oon what other. And Gawein com all
before and come to the karll and seide, "Lepe upon this horse and lede us ther
these childeren fighten." And the karll dide his comaundement that for noon other
thinge was come theder, and rode formest theras thei were fightynge.
And whan thei neyhed nygh, thei founde the childeren fightinge merveilously
and hadde slain of the Saisnes moo than seven hundred; but ther were so many of
hem that thei myght not longe endure. And ther dide Seigramoor the grettest
prowesse that eny man saugh ever, for he heilde an axe with bothe hondes and
was before his felowes upon a stede that was swyfte and right stronge; for whan
thei gan hym assaile, he smote in amonge hem so harde and so depe that he was
loste as it hadde be in a see from the sight of his felowes. And the Saisnes hym
enclosed on alle sides, and Seigramor, that heilde the ax that was sharp igrounde,
thought to perce thourgh to his felowes. He smote so grete strokes on bothe sides
that he slowgh all that he raught a full stroke, and thei fledde on every side from
hym that knewen his strokes; and noon was so hardy that durst hym abyde but
launched to hym sharpe grounde speres and gleyves and other wepnes.
But thus myght thei not longe endure that thei ne sholde have be deed or elles
taken but as Gawein com with his companye, for Orienx peyned hym moche hem
for to take, that was a noble knyght and a sure. And he sette upon the childeren
and kepte hem in so short and streite that noon myght passe, and foughten so felly
that the childeren were waxen feble for lakke of breth; and yefit ne hadde be for
Seigramor only, ther hadde noon of hem ascaped. But his defence was so grete all
aboute hym that merveile it was how he myght it endure; but in the ende availed
litill the well-doynge of hym or eny other, ne hadde Gawein come soone with his
companye of yonge bachelers.
And as Gawein com to the stronge stour, the childeren were in gret mischief;
and than he and his felowes spronge upon hem so sharply that at the first shofte
thei threw of hem to grounde mo than two thousande. And of that was Orienx
sorowfull, for never hadde he sein so fewe peple so well hem contene. And he
heilde a stronge spere and the heed sharp igrounde, and rode into the renge formest,
and seide he wolde be avenged on hem that hadde hym wratthed. And Gawein
hadde so smyten aboute hym on every side that he fonde the childeren full wery
for travaile; and [he] saugh Seigramor that was afore in the fronte and hielde an
axe in bothe handes wherwith he smote grete strokes out of mesure. And he was
moche and semly and therto the beste shapen chielde to have sought thourgh eny
reame; and whom that he araught was hitte so harde that it warant neither iren ne
stiell ne noon armour that he ne smot thourgh owther arme or sholder or thigh or
other member, and shewde merveiles all aboute.
And whan Gawein saugh all this, he asked of the olde man that was by hym
what he was. And he seide it was Segramor, the nevew of the emperour of
Costantinnoble. "But helpe hym delyverly, for it is grete myster." Than Gawein
renged his companye and lete renne at hem so fiercely that in her comynge thei
threwe to grounde of the Saisnes grete plenté, deed and wounded thourgh with
sharpe wepenes. Grete was the bataile agein Orienx of the chylderen, but at grete
myschief thei were, for on Gaweins side were but four thousand and thre hundred
that Seigramor hadde brought; and of the Saisnes were twenty thousand, withoute
hem that ronne thourgh the contrey that brente and robbed, of whiche were forty
thousand. Whan that Orienx saugh that so small a peple withstode hym so felly, he
hadde therof grete dispite and cried to his men and swor that inevell tyme sholde
eny ascape he caught; and [he] com drivinge agein Agravain that oon of his nevewes
hadde slain before his iyen.
And whan Orienx saugh that, he spored his steede and smote Agravain upon
the shelde that he perced through the plites of his haubreke undir the side, that the
spere hede shewed on the tother side; and he shof theron so sore that he bar hym
from his horse to the grounde. Whan Gawein saugh his brother falle, he hadde
grete drede leste that he hadde be deed; and he heilde a trenchant axe and come to
the Saisne that hadde him unhorsed and wende to smyte hym upon the helme. But
whan Orienx saugh the stroke come, he it douted and covered hym with his shielde;
and Gawein hym smote that the axe bente and slit the sheilde in two, the stroke
was [so] grete; and Orienx spored his horse forth. The stroke descended upon
the helme and kut the cercle and a quarter of the helme and the mayle of the
haubreke behynde and the horse chyne asonder, that he blusht to the grounde.
And Gaheries smote so Solunant thourgh the heed with an axe that ded he drof to
the erthe; and Gaheret smote Vabibre thourgh the helme that he slit hym to the
teth; and Galashin smote Pinadoos that the heed fley into the feilde.
Whan the Saisnes saugh Orienx lye at the grounde, thei hadde grete drede that
he hadde be deed, and shof alle to the rescewe ther aboute hym environ, and bar
hym oute of the presse into the feilde. But he was stonyed of the stroke that he
myght not stonde on his feet ne meve no membre that he hadde; and therto he
made so lothly chere and so hidouse semblant that alle wende he hadde ben deed,
and made amonge hem grete doell and wepynge that all the bataile lefte.
And the childeren have Agravain taken up ther he was fallen and set hym on
horse. And the karll that hadde brought thider Gawein hadde chaunged his forme
to another and hadde take the semblance of a knyght armed, and than com to
Gawein and to his other bretheren and seide, "Feire lordes, yef ye do be my
counseile, lete us take the wey now right towarde Camelot while these Saisnes
entende to make this sorowe."
Whan Gawein undirstode these wordes, he wiste wele his counseile was wise
and withoute trecherie. And [he] com anoon to Seigramore and seide he was right
welcome and his companye; and he agein hym salvde as deboner and curteys.
And than he seid, "Ha! Seigramor, feire frende, it is tyme now that we go and lede
with us the peple that is us belefte, for inough have we wonne seth that saf and
sounde we repeyre." Than Seigramor asked what he was that so spake unto hym.
And he seide, "My name is Gawein, the nevew of Kynge Arthur, and the sone of
Kynge Loot of Orcanye; and [we] kepe the londes of myn oncle, I and my bretheren,
till he be come from Tamelide. And we be come hider for not elles but yow for to
helpe and to socoure, for in the morowe it was tolde how ye were assailed of the
Saisnes right sore."
Than com forth the knyght that hadde spoke to Gawein and cried, "A! Gawein,
feire sir, what abide ye that ye come not forth youre wey? Se not ye that all the
worle of peple cometh upon us, wherefore we may not ascape yef ye abide?"
Whan Gawein herde hym so haste to garison, he beheilde and saugh come so
grete plenté of Saisnes and so grete foison that all the feilde was covered. And thei
were alle armed and com rydinge fiercely and made soche noyse and soche mur-
mur that a myle of lengthe it myght have ben herde. And whan that Gawein saugh
the Saisnes come in soche maner he seide to Seigramor, "Sir, and hit plese yow,
go we hens." And he hym ansuerde and seide, "With goode will." And thei than
rode forth toward Camelot clos togeder and streite that ye myght have caste a
glove over her hedes covered undir steill.
And the Saisnes yet entended to Orienx, makynge doell and sorowe. But with-
ynne a while aroos the Saisne fro disturdison, and saugh hem aboute hym made
grete sorowe and hevynesse. Than he asked a newe helme and sheilde and spere,
for he was of grete herte and a goode knyght and hardy as of his age. And he
swore yef he myght with hym that yaf hym that acooley whereof he hadde so
leyen in swowne at erthe, he sholde it hym wele aquyte. And than he lepe tohorse
that was stronge and swyfte rennynge, and rode that wey as he wende to have hem
founden; but thei were go thens a myle. Whan Orienx saugh hem gon in this maner,
he cried his ensigne and seide, "Now after hem!" And than he swore that noon of
hem sholde ascape.
Than pressed forth the Saisnes hastely alle that myght, that oon ne abode not
another; and the shoute and the noyse aroos so grete that wonder it was to here,
and the duste and the powder aroos so thikke that the clier air was troubled; and
thei com drivinge on so faste that thei nyghed nygh to atteyne the Cristin.
And than the knyght that hadde yeve Gawein this counseile saugh hem come so
faste, he hasted sore Gawein and alle the tother for to go faste, and spake unto
hem that thei rode a gretter paas; but er thei com to the town of Camelot thei were
sore hasted. But the noble Gawein and Agravain and Gaheret and Gaheries and
Galaishin and Seigramor were the laste, and sente in theire felowes and her peple
and her harneys before, as the heirde driveth his bestes to pasture, and therwhile
thei suffred the Saisnes to breke theire speres. And whan thei saugh eny of her
felowes over charged, thei hem delyvered at her power as thei that were of high
prowesse. And thei dide so well that ther nas Saisne so hardy that durste that wey
go wheras as thei were, ne of hem abide a stroke.
Than com Orienx with the grete baner and hadde a grete spere whereof the
heed is sharp and trenchaunt. And [he] saugh hym that hadde hym smyte to grounde
and knewe hym full well, and swoor by his god that he wolde be avenged. Than
he spored his horse fiercely; and the chielde saugh hym come, but he made
semblaunt as therof he rought litill. And whan he com even at the metynge, Gawein
lefte the wey and lete hym passe forth that his horse cowde not restreyne. And
Gawein, that was wight and delyver, returned his horse upon hym and smote hym
upon the heed with bothe hondes, but it was with the flat for the haste that he
hadde hym tosmyte, so that he wiste not how he it heilde. And thestroke was so
grete and hevy that the fier sparkeled up in the aire, and astoned hym so sore that
he fill flat to the erthe.
And Seigramor smote Driant the Rede thurgh the sholder so harde that it dis-
severed fro the body. And Galaishin smote so Placidas that his heed he hym be-
rafte. And Agravain and Gaheret and Gaheries hadde eche of hem caught a short
spere, the iren sharp and trenchaunt, and that oon smote Gynebant and the tother
Taurus and the thridde smote Fannell, that eche bar his to the erthe from theyre
horse all blody; and with the same cours thei smote thre other. And Gawein and
Galaishin and Seigramor rested upon Orienx, for thei wolde hym have take yef
thei myght. But the Saisnes ne wolde it not suffre, but assembled so thikke aboute
tho thre felowes that thei hadde many grete strokes taken and yeven. And thei thre
were noble and worthi and slough of hem so many that her armes and her brestes
were alle blody, and also their horse heer; and so thei hem stered that noon was so
hardy to abyde of hem eny stroke.
Whan the thre felowes saugh thei moste nede forsake Orienx and saugh a worlde
of peple that upon hem com drivinge, thei ronne upon Orienx and hym diffouled
with theire horse feet till he was all tobrosed. And whan he was all tobrosed and
hym diffouled at her lust saf thei have hym not slain, than thei rode after her
felowes that be that tyme myght be nygh Camelot, for never seth thei remeved
were thei not enchased but wente forth delyverly. And whan the thre felowes
saugh her men were withynne the town, thei were gladde and mery; and than thei
rode a softe paas.
And the Saisnes abode aboute her lorde that was caste down and so diffouled
under horse feet; whereof he was so sorowfull whan he aroos from disturdison
that thei be so ascaped, that nygh he was wode for wratthe and ire, and swor yef
he myght hem gete in his bailly that he sholde do hem be flain all quyk and drawen
asondre with horse. "Sir," seide his men, "a full fell pawtener is he thattwies this
day thus hath yow smyten to grounde." "Ye," quod Orienx, "but yef I may have
bailly over his body, he shall so be deffouled that ther ne shall nothinge in the
worlde hym warantise."
And thei hadde so riden that thei com before Camelot, whereas thei abode stille,
and asked oon of another where the other thre were become. But ther was noon
that ought cowde sey. Whan Agravain and Gaheret and Gaheries undirstode how
that Gawein her brother, and her cosin, and the nevew of the emperoure were
loste, thei turned bakke and seide thei wolde not reste till thei hadde hem founden,
and comaunded her felowes not to remeve till thei saugh hem com agein; and than
alle thre rode agein a walop as thei hadde com. But thei hadde but litill while riden
whan thei mette the karll that satte upon the steede that Gawein hadde hym yoven,
the same that hadde brought tidinges of Seigramor. And whan he mette these
three bretheren, he asked whider thei wente; and thei seide thei sought Gawein her
brother and her cosin Galaishin and the nevew of the emperour, for thei wiste not
where thei were becomen.
"Full evell," seide he, "have ye yow demened, and well sheweth the worthi and
noble where thei ben, and loo heere where thei come. But whom it displese, thei
owe to come yow no thonke of her lyves, for ye lefte hem foulé as cowardes; and
well it sheweth theras thei abode for to socour these other that now ben saf at
garison. And thei have doon many feire chivalries and yoven many grete strokes
that thei ought to be comended and preised of all the worlde that therof heren
speke, and to holde yow for soche as ye be. And wele have ye it shewed theras ye
lefte youre felowes at soche nede, and thei ne lefte yow never for deth ne for lif.
And every gentillman that therof hereth speke ought yow to blame be right and
reson and have yow ever suspect in every nede. And wite it well, it shall turne
yow to repress." With that the cherll departed, that lenger with hem ne wolde
And thei passeden forth all shamefest and mate and sory of the wordes the karll
hadde spoken. But thei nadde but litill wey riden whan thei mette the threfelowes
that were so araied that it semed by her armes that thei were come from felon
place. And whan thei mette togeder thei made grete joye. Than Gawein asked
tidinges of her other felowes where thei were, and thei seide that thei hem lefte
before the yates of Camelot where thei abide. Than thei rode forth togeder, gladde
and mery for her newe feliship that be come hem to helpe, and of that thei have
hem thus rescewed, and he and his companye hooll and sounde.
But er thei hade a while riden togeder, thei mette the cherles horse sore affraied
that com fleynge, and saugh the arson of the sadell all blody. And whan these
felowes that he hadde reprovid saugh the horse, that oon beheilde the tother and
begonne to laugh. Of that toke hede Gawein and Galashin and asked whi thei
lowghen, and thei stynte for to tellen; and thei hem conjured another tyme right
harde for to tellen the trouthe. And Gaheries tolde hym alle the wordes that the
cherll hadde hem seide. And whan that thei it herde, thei merveiled what it myght
be; and than com Gawein to the horse that fledde and toke hym by the bridell and
saugh that all the arson was blody, and wend that the karll hadde be slayn.
Than he asked of Agravain and of the tother yef thei mette eny of the Saisnes
seth thei departed fro Camelot. And thei seide how thei mette neyther man ne
woman seth thei departed from theire men, saf the cherll that satte upon that horse.
Quod Gawein, "I trowe he be slayn or wounded sore, or paraventure he is fallen
whereso it be to grounde; and therfore lete us hym seche till we may hym fynde.
And yef he be alyve, lete us bere hym to Camelot, for it were synne to suffre hym
to dye for defaute here in the feilde." And than thei sought up and down in the
feilde and amonge the busshes, but yet thei myght have sought hym into this
tyme, for he was come into her hoste in the semblaunce of a knave on foote with
a tronchon of a spere in his honde.
And whan Gawein saugh he myght not be founde, thei repeired to Kamelot and
fonde her felowes hem abydynge at the brigge foot, that thei were of hem joyfull
whan thei saugh hem hooll and sounde. And than thei entred into the town and
drough up the brigge and shette the yates, and than wente upon the walles for to
loke yef the Saisnes come toward the town it for to assaile. But thei thertohadde
no talent, for thei desired not ther so longe to sojourne till thei hadde it taken, for
it was right stronge.
And the childeren hem unarmed and wente to theire loggyngis, and hem esed of
all thinge that to mannys body belongeth. And grete joye and feste thei made of
Seigramor whan thei hym knewen. And whan he hadde hem tolde wherfore he
was come fro Costantinnoble to Kynge Arthur to take of hym his armes, and than
was he moche worshiped and moche preised of oon and other, and seiden that he
was of grete herte and hardy, for thei hadde hym sein in bataile, and he was of
merveilouse bounté. And moche reverence and worship dide hym the noble
gentilmen therinne, and disported and pleide and beheilde Seigramor that was moche
and semly and well furnysshed of membres.
And thus thei lyven in disporte and joye thre dayes, that nothinge thei ne herde
on noo part but that the Saisnes wente into the Northumberlonde and into the
londe of the Duke Escam of Cambenyk, that ther foughten sore bataile at the
strayte of the Roche Magot agein the peple of Orienx upon the river of Savarne.
[Summary. The narrative then offers a lengthy description of the struggles of King
Clarion and Duke Escam against King Orienx and the Saxon invaders, before return-
ing to describe the deeds of the Young Squires, led by Gawain, against the Saxons
who have been ravaging the lands of King Ydiers near the Castle of Arondell. Merlin,
in the guise of a yeoman, bears a letter to Gawain, urging him to come to the aid of his
cousin Ewain, the son of King Uriens, who is sorely beset by the Saxons. Gawain and
the other Squires rescue Ewain and his companions, who are joyfully added to their
group. Fighting together, the Young Squires perform gloriously against the Saxons.
The Saxons retreat, and the Squires ride toward the Castle of Arondell, which they
discover is besieged by yet another group of Saxons. They force the Saxons to lift the
siege, and they are welcomed joyfully by those within the castle. The story then shifts
to King Lot, Gawain's father, against whom the Saxons have been waging a fierce
campaign. Fols. 95r (line 17)-103v (line 29).]
Go To Gawain's Rescue of His Mother