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Title: Guingamor, Lanval, Tyolet, Bisclaveret - Four lais rendered into English prose
Author: France, Marie de
Language: English
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  Unrepresented in Malory's
  "Morte d'Arthur"

  _No. III_

  Guingamor, Lanval, Tyolet,
  Le Bisclaveret.





  A Middle-English Romance retold in Modern Prose, with Introduction
  and Notes, by JESSIE L. WESTON. With Designs by M. M. CRAWFORD. 2nd
  Edition, 1909. 2s. net.


  Rendered into English from the German of Gottfried of Strassburg
  by JESSIE L. WESTON. With Designs by CAROLINE WATTS. Two vols. 4th
  Edition, 1910. 4s. net.


  Four Lays rendered into English Prose from the French of Marie de
  France and others by JESSIE L. WESTON. With Designs by CAROLINE WATTS.
  2nd Edition, 1910. 2s. net.


  Translated for the first time from the original Dutch by JESSIE L.
  WESTON. With Frontispiece and Designed Title-Page by CAROLINE WATTS.
  1901. 2s. net.


  Two Old English Metrical Romances rendered into prose by JESSIE L.
  WESTON. With Designs by CAROLINE M. WATTS. 1902. 2s. net.


  Three Versions from the Conte del Graal, Diu Crône, and the Prose
  Lancelot. By JESSIE L. WESTON. 1903. 2s. net.


  Translated for the first time from Wauchier de Denain's section of
  the Conte del Graal by JESSIE L. WESTON. With Designs by MORRIS M.
  WILLIAMS. 1907. 2s. net.


  Guingamor Lanval Tyolet Bisclaveret






  _Second Impression, 1910_


The previous volumes which have been published in this series have
contained versions belonging to what we may call the _conscious_ period
of romantic literature; the writers had not only a story to tell, but
had also a very distinct feeling for the literary form of that story
and the characterisation of the actors in it. In this present volume we
go behind the work of these masters of their craft to that great mass
of floating popular tradition from which the Arthurian epic gradually
shaped itself, and of which fragments remain to throw here and there an
unexpected light on certain features of the story, and to tantalise us
with hints of all that has been lost past recovery.

All who have any real knowledge of the Arthurian cycle are well aware
that the Breton _lais_, representing as they do the popular tradition
and folk-lore of the people among whom they were current, are of value
as affording indications of the original form and meaning of much of
the completed legend, but of how much or how little value has not yet
been exactly determined. An earlier generation of scholars regarded
them as of great, perhaps too great, importance. They were inclined
indiscriminately to regard the Arthurian romances as being but a series
of connected _lais_. A later school practically ignores them, and
sees in the Arthurian romances the conscious production of literary
invention, dealing with materials gathered from all sources, and
remodelled by the genius of a Northern French poet.

I believe, myself, that the eventual result of criticism will be to
establish a position midway between these two points, and to show that
though certain of the early Celticists exaggerated somewhat, they
were, in the main, correct--their theory did not account for all the
varied problems of the Arthurian story, but it was not for that to be
lightly dismissed. The true note of the Arthurian legend is evolution
_not_ invention; the roots of that goodly growth spring alike from
history, myth, and faëry; whether the two latter were not, so far
as the distinctively _Celtic_ elements of the legend are concerned,
originally _one_, is a question which need not here be debated.[1]

[1] In this connection, _cf._ Mr. Nutt's "Fairy Mythology of
Shakespeare"--Popular Studies, No. 6.

This much is quite certain; while the mythic element in the Arthurian
story is yet a matter for discussion, while we are as yet undecided
whether Arthur was, or was not, identical with the _Mercurius Artusius_
of the Gauls; whether he was, or was not, a _Culture Hero_; whether
Gawain does, or does not, represent the same hero as Cuchullin, and
both alike find origin in a solar myth; we at least know that both
Arthur and Gawain are closely connected with, and as their final
destination found rest in, Fairyland. It is, therefore, no matter for
surprise if we find such definitely fairy stories as the _lais_ of
_Guingamor_ and _Lanval_ (which, be it noted, represent a whole family
of kindred tales) connected with the Arthurian cycle, and their heroes
figuring as knights of Arthur's court.[2]

[2] _Cf._ Dr. Schofield's studies of the _lais_ of _Guingamor_,
_Graalent_, and _Lanval_, referred to in the Notes.

At that court the fairy, whether she be Morgain, the Lady of the Lake,
or the Mistress of Graalent, Lanval, or Gawain, is at home, to be
distinguished by nothing, save her superior beauty and wisdom, from the
mortals who surround her. (It is scarcely necessary to remark that the
fairies of the mediæval French romance writers are not the pigmies of
the Teutonic sagas and of Shakespeare.) The rôle of these maidens is,
generally speaking, a clearly defined one: they are immortals in search
of a mortal love,[3] and in this character the parallels carry us far
back to the earliest stages of Celtic tradition as preserved in ancient
Irish romance.

[3] To this rule _Nimue_, = the Lady of the Lake, appears to be the
only exception.

A special feature of these Breton _lais_, to be noted in this
connection, is that they often combine two features which are more
generally found apart, and which, as represented by their most famous
mediæval forms, are wont to be considered by us as belonging to two
different families of tradition, _i.e._, the _Tannhäuser_ legend (the
carrying off of a knight by the queen of the other world), and the
_Lohengrin_ legend (the rupture of a union between a mortal and an
immortal, and the penalties incurred by the former by the transgression
of a prohibition imposed by the latter). Two of the stories given in
this volume, _Guingamor_ and _Lanval_, in common with others which will
be found noted in Dr. Schofield's studies, combine both _motifs_.

Now that such tales as these, in themselves independent popular
folk-tales, sometimes became incorporated with, at other times by
the loan of incident and feature strongly influenced, the Arthurian
story, cannot I think be denied. Fairies such as the mistresses of
_Guingamor_ and _Lanval_ were, as I have said above, residents or
visitors at Arthur's court. Arthur himself is, like those knights,
carried to Avalon; even as _Guingamor_ in the extremity of mortal
weakness. That like Guingamor he was thought of as recovering, and
reigning with undiminished vigour over his fairy kingdom, is clear from
numerous references in mediæval romance. The authors of _La Bataille
de Loquifer_ and _Ogier le Danois_ knew him as King of Avalon; in _Huon
de Bordeaux_ he has been promised the reversion of Oberon's kingdom;
in _Lohengrin_ he reigns with Parzival, in a mysterious other-world
realm; he is as completely lord of Fairyland as any knight beloved of
fairy queen. The boyhood of _Tyolet_ is the boyhood of Perceval; the
mysterious stag guarded by lions wanders in and out of the mazes of
Arthurian romance.

Some might, of course, suggest that these stories are really
fragmentary borrowings from the Arthurian legend; but such a view is
scarcely compatible with the fact that in their earlier forms they are
entirely unconnected with that story. Thus we see that the _lai_ of
_Guingamor_ in the solitary version we possess knows nothing of Arthur;
neither the king or the queen, the fairy or her kingdom is named;
Chrétien de Troyes knew the lady as Morgain, and her land as Avalon,
and brings Guingamor to Arthur's court. The same remark applies to
_Graalent_, while _Lanval_ is in an Arthurian setting. If the stories
had originally formed part of the cycle it is difficult to see why
they should have been separated from it; while we can well understand
that already existing folk-tales would be swept into the vortex of an
increasingly popular tradition.

The story of _Tyolet_ as preserved in the _lai_ is certainly not in
its earliest form; it is in some points incomprehensible, and as I
have suggested in the Notes, the real meaning of the tale has been
already forgotten. But _Tyolet_ is never elsewhere mentioned as one of
Arthur's knights, and the adventure achieved by him when transferred to
Lancelot loses even the measure of coherence and plausibility it had
preserved. Thus Lancelot, though knowing what is to be the guerdon of
the successful knight, and voluntarily undertaking the adventure, when
achieved, leaves the lady under the pretext of summoning his kinsmen
and never returns; on no account would he be faithless to Guinevere.

In the _Were-Wolf_, again, the characters are anonymous; but Malory's
reference leaves no room for doubt that the hero later on figured as
one of Arthur's knights.

It is, I think, impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Arthurian
legend, in the process of evolution, borrowed with both hands from
already existing stores of popular folk-lore and tradition; and an
examination of the parallels with this folk-lore element makes it
equally clear that it was largely of Celtic origin.

But in what form was this popular tradition when the literary
masterpieces of the Arthurian cycle, the poems of Chrétien de Troyes
and his German rivals, were composed? We know that many of these
tales were told as Breton _lais_, and in this original form they have
practically disappeared. Those we possess are French translations,
and of these the best and largest collection we owe to the skill and
industry of Marie de France, an Anglo-Norman poetess who lived in the
reign of Henry II. and was therefore a contemporary of Chrétien de
Troyes. Of the four _lais_ here given, two, _Lanval_ and _Were-Wolf_
(_Bisclaveret_), are undoubtedly by her, and _Guingamor_ is very
generally considered to be also her work. The metre in which she wrote
was the eight-syllable verse, in rhymed pairs, adopted also by Chrétien
in common with most of the poets of his time. As we see, Marie, like
Chrétien, connected some of these _lais_ with Arthur. They are Breton
_lais_; Arthur is a Breton king; his legend certainly came to the
Northern French poets partly, if not entirely, from Breton sources; the
probability, therefore, is that the connection took place, in the first
instance, on Breton rather than on French ground--_i.e._, it is due
neither to Marie nor to Chrétien, but to the sources they used.

Setting hypothesis aside, however, this may be stated as an absolute
matter of fact: at the time that the longer Arthurian romances took
shape there were also current a number of short poems, both in Breton
and in French, the latter in the precise metre adopted for the longer
poems, connecting the Arthurian story with a great mass of floating
popular folk-tale, which short poems were known to the writers of the
longer and more elaborate romances. Are we seriously called upon to
believe that they made absolutely _no_ use of them? That they left
all this wealth of material rigidly on one side, and combined for
themselves out of their inventive faculties and classical knowledge
the romances that won such deserved repute? Such a solution of the
Arthurian problem I can scarcely think likely in the long run to be
accepted by serious students; certainly not by those whom the study
of comparative religion and folk-lore has taught how widely diffused
in extension, and how persistent in character, are the tales which
belong to the childhood of the race. That a large and important body
of genuine existing tradition should be, not merely superseded, but
practically beaten out of the field and destroyed by the power of mere
literary invention, would be a curious phenomenon at any date; in the
twelfth century it is absolutely inconceivable. The Arthurian legend
has its roots in folk-tradition, and the abiding charm of its literary
presentment is in reality due to the persistent vitality and pervasive
quality of that folk-lore element. Children of a land of eternal youth,
Arthur and his knights are ever young; it is true that some of the
romances tell us that in the last great war with Lancelot Arthur was
over ninety years old and Gawain above seventy, but one feels that
even for the writer such figures had no significance; their words and
actions are the words and actions of youth--we have here no Charlemagne
and his veterans _à la barbe fleurie_.

But this is an element which in our rightful appreciation of the
literary masterpieces of the cycle we are apt to ignore, nor is it
other than scantily represented in English literature; it has therefore
been thought well, in such a series as this to include a volume which
shall direct attention less to the completed Arthurian epic than to the
materials from which that epic was formed, since if we mistake not, it
is to the nature of that material even more than to the skill of its
fashioners, that the unexampled popularity of the Arthurian legend is

  BOURNEMOUTH, _May 1900_.



    "_Graislemiers de Fine Posterne
    I amena conpeignons vint,
    Et Guigomars ses frere i vint;
    De l'Isle d'Avalon fu sire.
    De cestui avons oi dire
    Qu'il fu amis Morgain la fee,
    Et ce fu veritez, provee._"

  CHRETIEN DE TROYES.--_Erec._ vv. 1952-58.

I will tell ye here a fair adventure, nor think ye that 'tis but mine
own invention, for 'tis truth, this tale I tell ye, and men call the
lay wherein 'tis writ the lay of Guingamor.

       *       *       *       *       *

In Brittany of old time there reigned a king who held all the land in
his sway, and was lord of many noble barons--his name I cannot tell ye.
This king had a nephew who was both wise and courteous, a very brave
and skilful knight, and Guingamor was he called. For his bravery and
his beauty the king held him passing dear, and thought to make him his
heir since he had no son. All men loved Guingamor; he knew how to
promise, and how to give; knights and squires alike honoured him for
his frankness and his courtesy; and his praises went abroad throughout
all that land.

One day the king went forth to hunt and to disport himself in the
forest. His nephew had that morn been bled and was still feeble, so
might not go forth into the woodland, but would abide in his hostel,
and with him were many of the king's companions.

At prime Guingamor arose and went forth to the castle to seek solace.
The seneschal met him and threw his arm around his neck, and they spake
together awhile, and then sat them down to play at chess. And as they
sat there the queen came even to the door of the chamber, on her way
to the chapel. She was tall and fair and graceful; and there she stood
awhile to gaze on the knight whom she saw playing chess, and stayed her
still and moved not.

Very fair did he seem to her in form and face and feature; he sat
over against a window, and a ray of sunlight fell upon his face and
illumined it with a fair colour. And the queen looked upon him till
her thoughts were changed within her, and she was seized with love for
him, for his beauty and his courtesy.

Then the queen turned her back, and called a maiden, and said: "Go thou
to the knight who sitteth within playing chess, Guingamor, the king's
nephew, and bid him come to me straightway."

So the maiden went her way to the knight, and bare him her lady's
greeting, and her prayer that he come forthwith and speak with her; and
Guingamor let his game be, and went with the maiden.

The queen greeted him courteously, and bade him sit beside her; but
little did he think wherefore she made such fair semblance to him.

The queen spake first: "Guingamor, thou art very valiant, brave and
courteous and winning--a fair adventure awaits thee--thou canst set
thy love in high places! Thou hast a fair and courteous friend, I know
neither dame nor damsel in the kingdom her equal! She loveth thee
dearly, and thou canst have her for thy love."

The knight answered: "Lady, I know not how I can dearly love one
whom I have never seen nor known; never have I heard speak of this
aforetime, nor have I besought love from any."

And the queen spake: "Friend, be not so shamefaced; _me_ canst thou
very well love, for of a sooth I am not to be refused; I love thee well
and will love thee all my days."

Then Guingamor was much abashed, and answered discreetly: "Well do I
know, lady, that I ought to love thee; thou art wife to my lord the
king, and I am bound to honour thee as my liege lady."

But the queen answered: "I say not that thou shalt love me thus, but I
would love thee as my lover, and be thy lady. Thou art fair, and I am
gracious; if it be thy will to love me very joyful shall we both be,"
and she drew him towards her and kissed him.

Guingamor understood well what she said, and what love she desired of
him, and thereof had he great shame, and blushed rosy-red, and sprang
up thinking to go forth from the chamber. The queen would fain keep him
with her, and laid hold on his mantle, so that the clasp broke and he
came forth without it.

Then Guingamor went back to the chessboard, and seated himself, much
troubled at heart; so startled had he been that he had no thought for
his mantle, but turned to his game without it.

The queen was much terrified when she thought of the king, for when
Guingamor had so spoken, and showed her his mind she feared lest he
should accuse her to his uncle. Then she called a maiden whom she
trusted much, and gave her the mantle, and bade her bear it to the
knight; and she laid it around his shoulders, but so troubled in mind
was he that he knew not when she brought it to him; and the maiden
returned to the queen.

So were the two in great fear till vesper-tide, when the king returned
from the chase and sat him down to meat. They had had good sport that
day, and he and his comrades were very joyful. After meat they laughed
and made sport, and told their adventures, each spake of his deeds, who
had missed, who had hit fair. Guingamor had not been with them, whereof
he was sorrowful. So he held his peace, and spake no word.

But the queen watched him, and thinking to make him wrathful, she
devised words of which each one should weigh heavily. She turned
herself to the knights and spake: "Much do I hear ye boast, and tell of
your adventures, yet of all whom I see here is none brave enough (were
one to give him a thousand pounds of gold) to dare hunt or wind horn
in the forest here without, where the white boar wanders. Marvellous
praise would he win who should take that boar!"

Then all the knights held their peace, for none would assay that
venture. Guingamor knew well that it was for him she spake thus.
Throughout the hall all were silent, there was nor sound nor strife.

The king answered her first: "Lady, thou hast often heard of the
adventure of the forest, and this thou knowest; it displeaseth me much
when in any place I hear it spoken of. No man may go thither to hunt
the boar who may return therefrom, so adventurous is the land, and so
perilous the river. Much mischief have I already suffered; ten knights,
the best of the land, have I lost; they set forth to seek the boar and
came never again."

Then he said no more, but the company departed from each other, the
knights went to their hostel to slumber and the king betook himself to
his couch.

Guingamor did not forget the word which he had heard, but went his way
to the king's chamber and knelt before him. "Sire," he said, "I ask of
thee somewhat whereof I have great need, and which I pray thee to grant
me, nor in any wise to refuse the gift."

The king said: "Fair nephew, I grant thee what thou prayest from me,
ask securely, for in naught would I deny thy will."

The knight thanked him, and said: "This is that which I demanded, and
the gift which thou hast given me. I go to hunt in the forest." Then he
prayed him to lend him his horse, his bloodhound, his brachet, and his
pack of hounds.

When the king heard what his nephew said, and knew the gift he had
given, he was very sorrowful and knew not what to do. Fain would he
have taken back his word and bade him let the matter be, for such a
gift should he not have asked; never would he suffer him, even for his
weight in gold, to go chase the white boar, for never might he return.
And if he lent him his good brachet and his steed then would he lose
them both and never see them again, and naught had he that he valued so
highly; there was nothing on earth he would have taken for them--"an I
lose them I shall grieve all the days of my life."

And Guingamor answered the king: "Sire, by the faith I owe thee, for
naught that thou could'st give me, were it the wide world, would I do
other than I have said and chase the boar to-morrow. If thou wilt not
lend me thy steed, and the brachet thou dost hold dear, thy hound and
thine other dogs, then must I e'en take my own, such as they are."

With that came the queen who had heard what Guingamor desired (and know
ye that it pleased her well), and she prayed the king that he would
do as the knight required, for she thought thus to be delivered from
him, and never, in all her life, to see him again. So earnestly did she
make her prayer that at length the king granted all she might ask. Then
Guingamor prayed leave, and went joyful to his dwelling; naught might
he sleep that night, but when he saw dawn he arose in haste and made
ready, and called to him all his companions, the king's household, who
were in much fear for him, and would gladly have hindered his going an
they might. He bade them bring him the king's steed which he had lent
him the night before, and his brachet, and his good horn, which he
would not have given for its weight in gold. Two packs of the king's
good dogs did Guingamor take with him, and forgat not the bloodhound.
The king himself would accompany him forth from the town, and with him
came the burghers and the courtiers, rich and poor, making great cry
and lamentation, and with them too were many ladies sorrowing sorely.

To the thicket nearest the city went all the huntsmen, taking with them
the bloodhound, and seeking for the track of the wild boar, for they
knew well where he was wont to haunt. They found the track and knew it,
for many a time had they seen it, and traced the beast to his lair in
the thick bushes and loosed the bloodhound, and by force drove forth
the boar.

Then Guingamor sounded his horn and bade them uncouple one pack of
dogs and the other lead forward to await him near the forest, but they
should not enter therein. Thus Guingamor began the chase and the boar
fled before him, leaving his lair unwillingly. The dogs followed,
giving tongue, and hunted him to the verge of the forest, but further
might they not go, since they were weary, wherefore they uncoupled the
others. Guingamor rode on winding his horn, and the pack ran yelping on
the boar's track; return to his lair he might not, but plunged into the
forest, and the knight followed after, carrying the brachet which he
had borrowed from the king.

They who had borne him company, the king and his fellowship and the men
of the city, stayed without the wood, nor would go further. There they
abode so long as they might hear the blast of the horn and the barking
of the dogs, and then they commended the knight to God and turned them
back to the town.

The boar ran further and further till he had wearied out the dogs,
then Guingamor took the brachet and loosened the leash, and set it on
the track, which it followed of right good will, while the knight did
what he might to aid and encourage his uncle's dog by blowing gaily on
his horn. Much did the sounds of the chase please him, but ere long
he had lost both brachet and boar, he heard neither yelp nor cry and
became sorrowful and much displeased; he deemed he had lost the brachet
through the thickness of the forest, and he was passing sorrowful for
the sake of his uncle who loved the dog so well. So he went still
forward into the forest, and coming to a high hill he stayed awhile,
very sorrowful and much at a loss.

The sky was clear and the day fair, all around him sang the birds but
he hearkened not to their song. Ere long he heard the brachet give
tongue afar off and he began to wind his horn, troubled at heart till
he saw the dog. Through a little plantation towards the open ground he
saw the brachet and the boar come swiftly, and thought to reach them
easily. He spurred his steed to a gallop, nor would delay, rejoicing
much at heart and saying to himself that might he take the boar, and
return whole and unharmed to court, he would win much fame, and his
deed would be spoken of for all time.

In the joy of his heart he set the horn to his lips and blew a
marvellous great blast. Afore him passed the boar with the brachet
close upon its track. Guingamor rode after swiftly, through the
adventurous land, across the perilous river, over the meadowland where
the turf was green and flowery; well nigh had he overtaken his prey
when he looked ahead and saw the walls of a great palace, well built,
yet without mortar. 'Twas all enclosed of green marble, and above the
entry was a tower which seemed to him of silver, so great was the
clearness it gave. The doors were of fine ivory, inlaid with golden
trefoils, nor was there bar nor lock.

Guingamor came on swiftly, and when he saw the door stand wide and the
entrance free, he thought him he would go within and find the goodman
who kept the gate, for fain would he know who was lord of the palace,
since 'twas the fairest he had ever seen. Much it pleased him to look
upon its beauties, for he thought he might lightly overtake the boar
ere it had run far, since it was wearied by the chase. So he rode
within and drew bridle in the palace, and looked all around, but no
man might he see, naught was there about him but fine gold; and the
chambers which opened from the hall seemed of stones of Paradise. That
he found neither man nor woman there pleased him not, else was he glad
that he had found so fair an adventure to tell again in his own land.

Then he turned him back, and rode quickly through the meadows by the
river, but naught did he see of his boar, quarry and dog were alike
lost. Then was Guingamor wrathful. "Of a truth," he said, "I am
betrayed, men may well hold me for a fool. Methinks that to look upon
a house have I lost all my labour. If I find not my dog and my boar
little joy or pleasure shall I have henceforward, and never more may I
return to my own land." Much troubled, he betook himself to the high
ground of the forest, and began to listen if he might hear the cry of
the dog.

Then he heard the brachet give tongue afar off to his right hand, and
he waited and hearkened till he surely heard both dog and boar. Then he
began again to wind his horn, and rode towards them. The boar passed
before him, and Guingamor rode after, encouraging the brachet with hue
and cry.

Thus he came into the open country, and found a spring beneath an
olive tree, wide-spreading, and covered with leaves. The water of the
spring was clear and fair, and the gravel thereof gold and silver. In
the water a maiden was bathing herself while another combed her hair
and washed her feet and hands. Fair was she, long-limbed and softly
rounded, in all the world was there nothing so fair, neither lily nor
rose, as that naked maiden.

As soon as Guingamor beheld her he was stirred by her beauty. He
saw her garments on a bush, and turned his horse's bridle thither;
he stayed not, but taking her robes, set them high in the fork of a
great oak. When he had taken the boar, he thought to return and speak
with the maiden, for he knew well that she would not go thence naked.
But the maiden saw his deed, and called the knight to her, and spake
proudly: "Guingamor, let be my robes; an God will, never shall it be
told among knights that thou didst so discourteous a deed as to hide
the garments of a maiden in the fork of a tree! Come hither, and fear
not. To-day shalt thou abide with me, thou hast laboured all day and
hast had but ill success."

Then Guingamor went towards her, and proffered her robe, and thanked
her for her courtesy, and said he might not lodge with her, since he
must seek the boar and the brachet which he had lost.

The maiden answered him: "Friend, all the knights in the world let them
labour as they might should not find those two, an I gave them not mine
aid. Let that folly be, and make this covenant with me; come with me
and I pledge thee loyally that I will give thee the boar as a prize,
and the brachet shalt thou have again to take with thee into thine own
land, on the third day hence."

"Fair lady," said the knight, "by this covenant will I gladly abide
even as thou hast spoken."

Then he dismounted, and the maiden clad herself in a short space, and
she who was with her brought her a mule well and richly harnessed,
and a palfrey, better had never count nor king. Guingamor lifted the
maiden to her saddle, and rode beside her, holding her bridle in his
hand. Often did he look upon her, and seeing her so fair and tall and
graceful of good will would he become her lover. He looked upon her
gently, and prayed her earnestly that she would grant him her love;
never aforetime had his heart been troubled for any woman he had looked
upon, nor had he thought of love.

The maiden, who was wise and courteous, answered Guingamor that she
would willingly grant him her love, whereof the knight was joyful, and
since she had pledged herself to be his lady, he laid his arm around
her and kissed her.

The waiting maiden had ridden on quickly to the palace wherein
Guingamor had entered, and they had decked it richly, and bidden the
knights mount and ride out to meet their lady, to do honour to the
lover whom she brought with her. Three hundred or more of them there
were, nor was there one but was clad in vest of silk wrought with
gold thread. Each knight led with him his lady. 'Twas a passing fair
company. There were squires with hawks, and fair falcons that had
passed their moulting. In the palace were there as many playing at
chess and other games.

When Guingamor dismounted he beheld the ten knights who had gone forth
to chase the boar, and been lost from his land. They rose from their
seats to meet him, and greeted him right joyfully, and Guingamor kissed
them each one. A fair lodging was his that night, great plenty of rich
meats, with much rejoicing, and great state; there was the sound of
harps and viols, the song of youths and maidens. Much did he marvel at
the noble fare, the beauty and the richness of all around. He bethought
him that he would abide there two days, and on the third would take his
way homeward; the dog and the boar would he take, and make known to his
uncle the adventure which had befallen him, then would he return again
to his lady.

Yet otherwise than he deemed had it chanced to him; not three days but
three hundred years had he been in that palace; dead was the king, and
dead his household and the men of his lineage, and the cities he had
known had fallen into destruction and ruin.

On the third day Guingamor prayed leave of his love that he might go
to his own land, and that she would give him the brachet and the boar,
according to her covenant; and the maiden answered: "Friend, thou shalt
have them, but know that thou wilt go hence for naught; 'tis three
hundred years past since thou camest hither, thine uncle and his folk
are dead; neither friends nor kinsmen shalt thou find. One thing I tell
thee, ask where thou wilt, nowhere shalt thou find a man so old that he
may tell thee aught of those thou seekest."

"Lady," quoth Guingamor, "I may not believe that thou sayest sooth, but
if the thing be so then I swear to thee that I will straightway return

And she answered, "I charge thee when thou hast passed the river to
return to thine own land, that thou neither eat nor drink, however
great may be thy need, till thou return once more to this land,
otherwise art thou undone."

Then she bade them bring his steed, and the great boar, and the brachet
which she gave him in leash, and Guingamor took the boar's head, more
might he not carry, and mounted his steed and went forth. His lady
rode with him to the river, and had him put across in a boat, then she
commended him to God and left him.

The knight rode forward and wandered till midday in the forest, nor
might he find a way out. 'Twas all so ill-looking and overgrown that he
might know the way no longer. Then afar to the left he heard the axe of
a wood-cutter, who had made a fire and burnt charcoal, and he spurred
towards the sound, and gave the man greeting, and asked where his uncle
the king abode, and at what castle he should seek for him.

But the charcoal-burner answered: "Of a faith, sire, I know naught;
the king of whom thou speakest 'tis over three hundred years since he
died, he and all his folk, and the castles of which thou askest have
long been in ruins. There are certain of the old folk who full oft
tell tales of that king, and of his nephew who was a wondrous valiant
knight, how he went one day to hunt within this forest and was seen
no more." Guingamor heard what he said, and a great pity seized him
for the king his uncle, whom he had thus lost, and he spake to the
charcoal-burner: "Hearken what I say to thee, for I will tell thee
what has befallen me. _I_ am he who went hunting in this forest, and
I thought to return and bring with me the white boar." Then he began
to tell of the palace he had found, and the maiden whom he had met,
how she had lodged him royally for two days; "and on the third did I
depart, and she gave me my dog and the boar." Then he gave him the
boar's head and bade him keep it well till he returned to his home,
and might tell the folk of the land how he had seen and spoken with
Guingamor the king's nephew.

The poor man thanked him, and Guingamor bade him farewell, and turned
him back and left him. 'Twas already past nones and the day drew
towards vesper-tide; so great a hunger seized the knight that he became
well-nigh ravening; by the roadside as he went there grew a wild apple
tree, the boughs well laden with fruit; he drew near and plucked three
and ate them. He did ill in that he forgat his lady's command, for even
as he tasted the fruit he was aged and undone, so feeble of limb that
he fell from his steed, and might move neither hand nor foot; when he
might speak he began in a feeble voice to bemoan himself.

The charcoal-burner had followed him and seen what had chanced, and it
seemed to him that he might scarce live till the evening. But as he
would go to his aid there came riding two fair maidens, well and richly
dressed, who dismounted beside Guingamor, and blamed him much, and
reproached him for that he had so ill kept his lady's command. Gently
they lifted the knight and set him on his horse, and led him to the
river, where they placed him, his steed, and his dog, in a boat and
rowed them over.

The peasant turned him back, and that night he sought his home bearing
with him the boar's head; far and wide he told the tale, and affirmed
it by his oath. The head he gave unto the king, who caused it to be
shown at many a feast; and that none might forget the adventure the
king bade make a lay which bare the name of Guingamor--and so do the
Breton call it.

Sir Launfal


  _This is the adventure of the rich and noble knight Sir Launfal, even
   as the Breton lay recounts it._

The valiant and courteous King, Arthur, was sojourning at Carduel,
because of the Picts and the Scots who had greatly destroyed the land,
for they were in the kingdom of Logres and often wrought mischief

In Carduel, at Pentecost, the King held his summer court, and gave
rich gifts to the counts, the barons, and all the knights of the Round
Table. Never before in all the world were such gifts given. Honours and
lands he shared forth to all, save to one alone, of those who served

This was Sir Launfal; of him and his the King thought not; and yet all
men loved him, for worthy he was, free of hand, very valiant, and fair
to look upon. Had any ill happened to this knight, his fellows would
have been but ill-pleased.

Launfal was son to a king of high descent, but his heritage was far
hence in a distant land; he was of the household of King Arthur, but
all his money was spent, for the King gave him nothing, and nothing
would Launfal ask from him. But now Sir Launfal was much perplexed,
very sorrowful, and heavy of heart. Nor need ye wonder at it, for one
who is a stranger and without counsel is but sorrowful in a foreign
land when he knows not where to seek for aid.

This knight of whom I tell ye, who had served the King so well, one day
mounted his horse and rode forth for diversion. He left the city behind
him, and came all alone into a fair meadow through which ran a swift
water. As he rode downwards to the stream, his horse shivered beneath
him. Then the knight dismounted, and loosening the girth let the steed
go free to feed at its will on the grass of the meadow. Then folding
his mantle beneath his head he laid himself down; but his thoughts were
troubled by his ill fortune, and as he lay on the grass he knew nothing
that might pleasure him.

Suddenly, as he looked downward towards the bank of the river, he saw
two maidens coming towards him; never before had he seen maidens so
fair. They were richly clad in robes of purple grey, and their faces
were wondrous beautiful. The elder bore in her hands a basin of gold
finely wrought (indeed it is but truth I tell you); the other held a
snow-white towel.

They came straight to where the knight was lying, and Launfal, who was
well taught in courteous ways, sprang to his feet in their presence.
Then they saluted him, and delivered to him their message. "Sir
Launfal," said the elder, "my lady, who is most fair and courteous, has
sent us to you, for she wills that you shall return with us. See, her
pavilion is near at hand, we will lead you thither in all safety."

Then Launfal went with them, taking no thought for his steed, which was
grazing beside him in the meadow. The maidens led him to the tent, rich
it was and well placed. Not even the Queen Semiramis in the days of her
greatest wealth and power and wisdom, nor the Emperor Octavian, could
have equalled from their treasures the drapery alone.

Above the tent was an eagle of gold, its worth I know not how to tell
you; neither can I tell that of the silken cords and shining lances
which upheld the tent; there is no king under heaven who could purchase
its equal, let him offer what he would for it.

Within this pavilion was a maiden, of beauty surpassing even that
of the lily and the new-blown rose, when they flower in the fair
summer-tide. She lay upon a rich couch, the covering of which was worth
the price of a castle, her fair and gracious body clothed only in a
simple vest. Her costly mantle of white ermine, covered with purple of
Alexandria, had she cast from her for the heat, and face and throat and
neck were whiter than flower of the thorn. Then the maiden called the
knight to her, and he came near and seated himself beside the couch.

"Launfal," she said, "fair friend, for you have I come forth from my
own land; even from Lains have I come to seek you. If you be of very
truth valiant and courteous then neither emperor, count nor king have
known such joy as shall be yours, for I love you above all things."

Then Love smote him swiftly, and seized and kindled his heart, and he

"Fair lady, if it so please you, and such joy may be my portion that
you deign to love me, then be the thing folly or wisdom you can command
nothing that I will not do to the utmost of my power. All your wishes
will I fulfil, for you I will renounce my folk and my land, nor will I
ever ask to leave you, if that be what you most desire of me."

When the maiden heard him whom she could love well speak thus she
granted him all her heart and her love.

And now was Launfal in the way to good fortune. A gift the lady
bestowed upon him: there should be nothing so costly but that it might
be his if he so willed it. Let him give or spend as freely as he would
he should always have enough for his need. Happy indeed was Launfal,
for the more largely he spent the more gold and silver should he have.

"Friend," said the maiden, "of one thing must I now warn you, nay more,
I command and pray you, reveal this your adventure to no man. The
reason will I tell you; if this our love be known you would lose me for
ever, never again might you look upon me, never again embrace me."

Then he answered that he would keep faithfully all that she should
command him.

Thus were the two together even till the vesper-tide, and if his lady
would have consented fain would Launfal have remained longer.

"Friend," said she, "rise up, no longer may you linger here, you must
go and I must remain. But one thing will I tell you, when you wish to
speak with me (and I would that may ever be when a knight may meet his
lady without shame and without reproach) I shall be ever there at your
will, but no man save you shall see me, or hear me speak."

When the knight heard that he was joyful, and he kissed his lady and
rose up, and the maidens who had led him to the tent brought him new
and rich garments, and when he was clad in them there was no fairer
knight under heaven. Then they brought him water for his hands, and a
towel whereon to dry them, and laid food before him, and he supped with
his lady. Courteously were they served, and great was the joy of Sir
Launfal, for ever and again his love kissed him and he embraced her

When they were risen from supper his horse was brought to him, saddled
and bridled; right well had they tended it. Then the knight took leave
of his lady, and mounted and rode towards the city; but often he looked
behind him, for he marvelled greatly at all that had befallen him, and
he rode ever thinking of his adventure, amazed and half-doubting, for
he scarcely knew what the end thereof should be.

Then he entered his hostel and found all his men well clad, and he held
great state but knew not whence the money came to him. In all the city
there was no knight that had need of lodging but Launfal made him come
unto him and gave him rich service. Launfal gave costly, gifts; Launfal
ransomed prisoners; Launfal clothed the minstrels; Launfal lavished
wealth and honours; there was neither friend nor stranger to whom he
gave not gifts. Great were his joy and gladness, for whether by day or
by night he might full often look upon his lady, and all things were at
his commandment.

Now in the self-same year, after the feast of St. John, thirty of the
knights went forth to disport themselves in a meadow, below the tower
wherein the queen had her lodging. With them went Sir Gawain and his
cousin, the gallant Iwein. Then said Gawain, the fair and courteous,
who was loved of all: "Pardieu, my lords, we do ill in that we have not
brought with us our companion, Sir Launfal, who is so free-handed and
courteous, and son to so rich a king." Then they turned back to his
hostelry, and by their prayers persuaded Launfal to come with them.

It so chanced that the queen leant forth from an open casement, and
three of her chosen ladies with her. She looked upon Sir Launfal and
knew him. Then she called one of her ladies, and bade her command the
fairest and most graceful of her maidens to make ready and come forth
with her to the meadow. Thirty or more she took with her, and descended
the stairway of the tower. The knights were joyful at their coming, and
hastened to meet them, and took them by the hand with all courtesy. But
Sir Launfal went apart from the others, for the time seemed long to him
ere he could see his lady, kiss her, and hold her in his arms. All
other joys were but small to him if he had not that one delight of his

When the queen saw him alone she went straight towards him, and seated
herself beside him; then, calling him by his name, she opened her heart
to him.

"Launfal," she said, "greatly have I honoured, cherished and loved you.
All my love is yours if you will have it, and if I thus grant you my
favour, then ought you to be joyful indeed."

"Lady," said the knight, "let me be; I have small desire of your love.
Long have I served King Arthur; I will not now deny my faith. Neither
for you nor for your love will I betray my liege lord."

The queen was angry, and in her wrath she spoke scoffingly. "They but
spake the truth," she said, "who told me that you knew not how to love.
Coward and traitor, false knight, my lord has done ill to suffer you so
long about him; he loses much by it, to my thinking."

When Sir Launfal heard that he was wroth, and answered her swiftly,
and by misfortune he said that of which he afterwards repented sorely.
"Lady," he said, "you have been ill-advised. I love and I am loved by
one who deserves the prize of beauty above all whom I know. One thing I
will tell you, hear and mark it well; one of her serving maidens, even
the meanest among them, is worth more than you, my lady queen, in face
and figure, in beauty, wisdom, and goodness."

Then the queen rose up and went weeping to her chamber, shamed and
angered that Launfal should have thus insulted her. She laid herself
down on her bed as if sick; never, she said, would she arise off it
till the king did justice on the plaint she would lay before him.

King Arthur came back from the woods after a fair day's hunting and
sought the queen's chamber. When she saw him she cried out, and fell at
his feet, beseeching his favour, and saying that Sir Launfal had shamed
her, for he had asked her love, and when she refused him had mocked and
insulted her, for he had boasted of his lady that she was so fair, so
noble, and so proud that even the lowest of her waiting women was worth
more than the queen.

At this King Arthur fell into a rage, and swore a solemn oath that
unless the knight could defend himself well and fully in open court,
he should be hanged or burnt.

Forth from the chamber went the king, and called three of his barons to
him, and bade them fetch Sir Launfal, who indeed was now sad and sorry
enough. He had returned to his hostelry, but alas! he learnt all too
soon that he had lost his lady, since he had revealed the secret of
their love. He was all alone in his chamber, full of anguish. Again and
again he called upon his love, but it availed him nothing. He wept and
sighed, and once and again fell on the ground in his despair. A hundred
times he besought her to have mercy on him, and to speak once more to
her true knight. He cursed his heart and his mouth that had betrayed
him; 'twas a marvel he did not slay himself. But neither cries nor
blows nor lamentations sufficed to awaken her pity, and make her show
herself to his eyes.

Alas, what comfort might there be for the unhappy knight who had thus
made an enemy of his king? The barons came and bade him follow them to
court without delay, for the queen had accused him, and the king, by
their mouth, commanded his presence. Launfal followed them, sorrowing
greatly; had they slain him it would have pleased him well. He stood
before the king, mute and speechless, his countenance changed for

The king spoke in anger: "Vassal," he said, "you have greatly wronged
me; an evil excuse have you found to shame and injure me, and insult
the queen. Foolish was your boast, and foolish must be your lady to
hold that her maid-servant is fairer than my queen."

Sir Launfal denied that he had dishonoured himself or insulted his
liege lord. Word by word he repeated what the queen had said to him;
but of the words he himself had spoken, and the boast he had made
concerning his love, he owned the truth; sorrowful enough he was, since
by so doing he had lost her. And for this speech he would make amends,
as the court might require.

The king was sorely enraged against him, and conjured his knights to
say what might rightfully be done in such a case, and how Launfal
should be punished. And the knights did as he bade them, and some
spake fair, and some spake ill. Then they all took counsel together
and decreed that judgment should be given on a fixed day; and that Sir
Launfal should give pledges to his lord that he would return to his
hostelry and await the verdict. Otherwise, he should be held a prisoner
till the day came. The barons returned to the king, and told him what
they had agreed upon; and King Arthur demanded pledges, but Launfal was
alone, a stranger in a strange land, without friend or kindred.

Then Sir Gawain came near, with all his companions, and said to the
king: "Take pledges of all ye hold of mine and these my friends, fiefs
or lands, each for himself." And when they had thus given pledges for
him who had nothing of his own, he was free to go to his hostelry. The
knights bore Sir Launfal company, chiding him as they went for his
grief, and cursing the mad love that had brought him to this pass.
Every day they visited him that they might see if he ate and drank, for
they feared much that he would go mad for sorrow.

At the day they had named the barons were all assembled, the king was
there, and the queen, and the sureties delivered up Launfal. Very
sorrowful they were for him. I think there were even three hundred of
them who had done all in their power without being able to deliver
him from peril. Of a great offence did they accuse him, and the king
demanded that sentence should be given according to the accusation and
the defence.

Then the barons went forth to consider their judgment, heavy at heart,
many of them, for the gallant stranger who was in such stress among
them. Others, indeed, were ready to sacrifice Launfal to the will of
their seigneur.

Then spoke the Duke of Cornwall, for the right was his, whoever might
weep or rage, to him it pertained to have the first word, and he said:

"The king lays his plea against a vassal, Launfal ye call him, of
felony and misdeed he accuses him in the matter of a love of which he
boasted himself, thus making my lady, the queen, wrathful. None, save
the king, has aught against him; therefore do ye as I say, for he who
would speak the truth must have respect unto no man, save only such
honour as shall be due to his liege lord. Let Launfal be put upon
his oath (the king will surely have naught against it) and if he can
prove his words, and bring forward his lady, and that which he said and
which so angered the queen be true, then he shall be pardoned; 'twas no
villainy that he spake. But if he cannot bring proof of his word, then
shall we make him to know that the king no longer desires his service
and gives him dismissal from his court."

Then they sent messengers to the knight, and spake, and made clear to
him that he must bring forth his lady that his word might be proved,
and he held guiltless. But he told them that was beyond his power,
never through her might succour come to him. Then the messengers
returned to the judges, who saw there was no chance of aid, for the
king pressed them hard, urged thereto by the queen, who was weary of
awaiting their judgment.

But as they arose to seek the king they saw two maidens come riding on
white palfreys. Very fair they were to look upon, clad in green sendal
over their white skin. The knights beheld them gladly, and Gawain, with
three others, hastened to Sir Launfal and told him what had chanced,
and bade him look upon the maidens; and they prayed him eagerly to say
whether one of the twain were his lady, but he answered them nay.

The two, so fair to look upon, had gone forward to the palace, and
dismounted before the daïs whereon King Arthur was seated. If their
beauty was great, so also was their speech courteous.

"King," they said, "command that chambers be assigned to us, fair with
silken hangings, wherein our mistress can fitly lodge, for with you
will she sojourn awhile."

They said no more, and the king called two knights, and bade them lead
the maidens to the upper chambers.

Then the king demanded from his barons their judgment and their
verdict, and said he was greatly wroth with them for their long delay.

"Sire," they answered, "we were stayed by the coming of the damsels.
Our decision is not yet made, we go but now to take counsel together."
Then they reassembled, sad and thoughtful, and great was the clamour
and strife among them.

While they were yet in perplexity, they saw, descending the street,
two maidens of noble aspect, clad in robes broidered with gold, and
mounted on Spanish mules. Then all the knights were very joyful, and
said each to the other: "Surely now shall Sir Launfal, the valiant and
courteous, be safe."

Gawain and six companions went to seek the knight. "Sir," they said,
"be of good courage, for the love of God speak to us. Hither come two
damsels, most beautiful, and richly clad, one of them must of a truth
be your lady!" But Launfal answered simply; "Never before to-day have I
looked upon, or known, or loved them."

Meantime, the maidens had come to the palace and stood before the king.
Many praised them for their beauty and bright colour, and some deemed
them fairer even than the queen.

The elder was wise and courteous, and she delivered her message
gracefully. "King," she said, "bid your folk give us chambers wherein
we may lodge with our lady; she comes hither to speak with you."

Then the king commanded that they should be led to their companions
who had come before them. Nor as yet was the judgment spoken. So when
the maidens had left the hall, he commanded his barons to deliver their
verdict, their judgment already tarried too long, and the queen waxed
wrathful for their delay.

But even as they sought the king, through the city came riding a
maiden, in all the world was none so fair. She rode a white palfrey,
that bore her well and easily. Well shaped were its head and neck,
no better trained steed was there in all the world. Costly were the
trappings of that palfrey, under heaven was there no king rich enough
to purchase the like, save that he sold or pledged his land.

And thus was the lady clad: her raiment was all of white, laced on
either side. Slender was her shape, and her neck whiter than snow on
the bough. Her eyes were blue, her skin fair. Straight was her nose,
and lovely her mouth. Her eyebrows were brown, her forehead white,
and her hair fair and curling. Her mantle was of purple, and the
skirts were folded about her; on her hand she bare a hawk, and a hound
followed behind her.

In all the Burg there was no one, small nor great, young nor old, but
was eager to look upon her as she passed. She came riding swiftly, and
her beauty was no mere empty boast, but all men who looked upon her
held her for a marvel, and not one of those who beheld her but felt his
heart verily kindled with love.

Then those who loved Sir Launfal went to him, and told him of the
maiden who came, if by the will of heaven she might deliver him. "Sir
knight and comrade, hither comes one, no nutbrown maid is she, but
the fairest of all fair women in this world." And Launfal heard, and
sighed, for well he knew her. He raised his head and the blood flew to
his cheek as he made swift answer: "Of a faith," he said, "_this_ is my
lady! Now let them slay me if they will and she has no mercy on me. I
am whole if I do but see her."

The maiden reached the palace; fairer was she than any who had entered
there. She dismounted before the king that all might behold her; she
had let her mantle fall that they might the better see her beauty. King
Arthur, in his courtesy, had risen to meet her, and all around him
sprang to their feet, and were eager to offer their service. When they
had looked well upon her, and praised her beauty, she spoke in these
words, for no will had she to delay:

"King Arthur, I have loved one of your knights, behold him there,
seigneur, Sir Launfal. He hath been accused at your court, but it
is not my will that harm shall befall him. Concerning that which he
said, know that the queen was in the wrong; never on any day did he
pray her for her love. Of the boast that he hath made, if he may by
me be acquitted, then shall your barons speak him free, as they have
rightfully engaged to do."

The king granted that so it might be, nor was there a single voice but
declared that Launfal was guiltless of wrong, for their own eyes had
acquitted him.

And the maiden departed; in vain did the king pray her to remain; and
many there were who would fain have served her. Without the hall was
there a great block of grey marble, from which the chief knights of
the king's court were wont to mount their steeds; on this Launfal took
his stand, and when the maiden rode forth from the palace he sprang
swiftly upon the palfrey behind her. Thus, as the Bretons tell us, he
departed with her for that most fair island, Avalon; thither the fairy
maiden had carried her knight, and none hath heard man speak further of
Sir Launfal. Nor know I more of his story.



  _This is the Lay of Tyolet_

Aforetime when King Arthur reigned over the country of Britain, which
is now called England, there were, I think me, far fewer folk in the
land than there are to-day. But Arthur, whose valour men highly praise,
had in his company many brave and noble knights. Of a sooth there are
even now knights of high fame and renown, yet are they not such manner
of men as they were of old time.

For then the best and bravest knights were wont to wander through the
land seeking adventures by day and by night, with never a squire for
company, and it might well be that in the day's journey they found
neither house nor tower, or again perchance they would find two or
three such. Or by dusky night they might find fair adventures, the
which they would tell again at court, even as they had befallen. And
the clerks of the court would write them fairly on parchment in the
Latin tongue, so that in days to come, men, an they would, might
hearken to them.

And these tales were turned from Latin into Romance, and from them, as
our ancestors tell us, did the Britons make many a lay.

And one lay they made will I tell ye, even as I myself heard the tale.
'Twas of a lad, fair and skilful, proud and brave and valiant. Tyolet
was he called, and he knew strange wiles, for by whistling could he
call the beasts of the woodland to him and trap them, even as many as
he would. A fairy had taught him this skill, and never a beast that
God had made but would come to him at his whistle. A lady had he for
mother, who dwelt in the wide woodland where her lord had made his
abode by day and by night, and the spot was passing lonely, for ten
leagues round was there no other dwelling.

Now the knight, his father, had been dead fifteen years, and Tyolet had
grown fair and tall, but never an armed knight had he seen in all his
days, and but rarely other folk in that wide woodland where his mother
dwelt. Never had he gone forth into the world beyond, for his mother
held him passing dear, but in the forest might he wander as it pleased
him, and no other pastime had he ever known. When he whistled as the
fay had taught him, and the beasts heard him, then they came to him
swiftly and he slew what he would and bore them home to his mother, and
on this they lived, they twain alone, for neither brother nor sister
had he, and his mother was a noble and courteous lady of good and loyal

One day she called her son unto her and prayed him gently (for she
loved him much) to go into the wood and slay her a stag; and the lad at
her command went straightway into the forest and wandered the groves
till noontide, but neither stag nor beast of any kind might he see.
Then he was sorely vexed at heart and bethought him to turn again
homewards, since nothing might he find in the woodland, when under
a tree he saw a stag which was both great and fair, and at once he
whistled to it.

The stag heard his whistle and looked towards him, but it came not at
his call nor awaited his coming, but at a gentle pace issued forth from
the wood, and Tyolet followed it till it came to a water and passed
over. The stream was deep and swift-flowing, wide-reaching and perilous
to pass, and the stag stood safe upon the further shore. Tyolet looked
up and down, and saw a roebuck fat and well-grown coming towards him,
then he stayed his steps and whistled, and as the deer came closer he
put forth his hand and drew his knife and plunged it into its body, and
so slew it straightway.

But even as he did so he looked across the river, and lo! the stag
which had passed the water changed its shape and became a knight, fully
armed as a knight should be, and mounted on a gallant warhorse. Thus he
stood on the river bank, and the lad, who never in his life had seen
the like, deemed it a great marvel and stood silent, gazing long upon
him, and wondering what might be the meaning of this strange gear.

Then the knight spake to him across the water with gentle words,
courteously asking his name, and who he was and what he sought. And
Tyolet answered him: "Son am I to the widow lady who dwelleth in the
great forest, and Tyolet do they call me who would name my name. Now
tell me who thou art, and what may be thy name?"

Then he who stood on the bank of the river spake: "_Knight_ do men call

"What manner of beast may _Knight_ be," quoth Tyolet; "where doth it
dwell and whence doth it come?"

"Of a faith that will I tell thee, truly and with no lie. 'Tis a beast
that is greatly feared for it taketh and eateth other beasts. Oft-times
doth it abide in the wood and oft-times in the open lands."

"Of a faith," said Tyolet, "'tis a marvel--for never since I might
wander in the wilderness have I seen such a beast; yet know I bears
and lions, and every sort of venison. Nor is there a beast in all the
forest that I know not, but I take them all without pain or trouble;
thou alone I may not know. Yet thou seemest a brave beast. Tell me,
thou Knight-Beast, what dost thou bear on thy head? And what is it that
hangeth at thy neck, and is red and shining?"

"Of a truth I will tell thee, and lie not. That which I bear on my head
is a coif, which men call helmet, with steel all around; and this is a
mantle in which I am wrapped, and this at my neck a shield, banded with

"And with what hast thou clad thyself, it seemeth me pierced through
with little holes?"

"'Tis a coat of wrought mail, men call it a hauberk."

"And with what art thou shod? Tell me of thy friendship."

"Shoes and greaves of iron have I, right well wrought."

"And what hast thou girt at thy side? Tell me an thou wilt."

"Men call it a sword, 'tis fair to look upon, and the blade is hard and

"And that long wood thou holdest? Tell me, and hide it not from me."

"Dost wish to know?"

"Yea, of a truth."

"'Tis a lance, this that I bear with me. Now have I told thee the truth
of all thou hast required of me."

"Sir," quoth Tyolet, "I thank thee, and I would to God that I had also
such vesture as thou hast, so fair and so comely; a coat and a coif and
mantle even as thou wearest. Tell me, Knight-Beast, for the love of
God and His fair Feast, if there be other beasts such as thou and as
fair to look upon?"

"Of a truth," spake the knight, "I will shew thee more than a hundred

For as the tale telleth in a little space there came through the meadow
two hundred armed knights, all of the king's court; they had even taken
a stronghold at his command, and set it in fire and flames, and now
they went their way homeward riding in three ranged squadrons.

The Knight-Beast spake to Tyolet and bade him come forward a little
step and look beyond the river; and the lad did as he bade him, and
saw the knights ride armed on their chargers; and cried aloud, "Now
see the beasts who all bear coifs on their heads! Ne'er have I seen
such a sight! If it please God and His fair Feast I too will be a

Then the knight who stood on the bank of the river spake again and
said: "Wilt thou be brave and valiant?"

"Yea, of a truth, I swear it to thee."

"Then go thy way, and when thy mother seeth thee, she will say, 'Fair
son, tell me, what aileth thee, and of what art thou thinking?' and
thou shalt answer that thou hast much to think on, for thou would'st
fain be like a Knight-Beast which thou hast seen in the forest, and for
that art thou thoughtful; and she will tell thee that it grieveth her
much that thou hast seen such a beast which deceiveth and devoureth
others. Then shalt thou say, Of a faith little joy shall she have of
thee if thou may'st not be even such a beast, and wear such a coif on
thy head; and when she heareth that, swiftly will she bring thee other
raiment, coat and mantle, helm and sword, greaves, and a long lance,
even as thou hast seen here."

Then Tyolet departed, for it seemed to him long ere he might be at
home, and he gave his mother the roebuck he had brought, and told her
all his adventures even as they had chanced. And his mother answered
that it grieved her much that he had seen such a beast, "For it taketh
and devoureth many another."

"Of a truth," said Tyolet, "now is it thus: if I may not be even such
a beast as I saw, little joy shalt thou have of me henceforward." When
his mother heard that she answered straightway that all the arms she
had would she bring him, and she brought those which had belonged to
her lord, and armed her son therewith, and when he was mounted on his
horse he seemed indeed to be a Knight-Beast.

"Now," said she, "fair son, dost know what thou must do? Thou shalt go
straight to King Arthur, and take good heed to my words, company not
with man or woman save with those of gentle birth and breeding." Then
she embraced and kissed him, and the lad went on his way, and journeyed
for many days over hills and plains and valley, till he came to the
court of King Arthur, that valiant and courteous monarch.

The King was seated at meat, for he was wont to be richly served, but
Tyolet waited not at the hall entrance; clad even as he was in his
armour and mounted on his steed, he rode up to the daïs, whereon sat
Arthur the King, and spake no word, nor gave greeting to any man.

"Friend," quoth the King, "dismount, and come, eat with us. Then shalt
thou tell me what thou seekest, and who thou art, and what men call

"Of a truth," said the lad, "I will tell thee that ere ever I eat.
King, my name is Knight-Beast; many a beast have I slain, and men call
me Tyolet. Well do I know how to catch venison, for, an it please thee,
sire, I am son to the widow of the forest, and of a surety she hath
sent me to thee to learn skill and wisdom and courtesy. I would learn
of knighthood, of tourney, and jousting, how I may spend, and how I may
give, for never aforetime came I in a king's court, and I think me well
that never again shall I come where I may learn such fair nurture and
courtesy. Now have I told thee what I seek. What is thy mind thereon,
Sir King?"

And Arthur said, "Sir Knight, thou shalt be my man, come now and eat."

"Sire," he said, "I thank thee well."

Then Tyolet dismounted, and they disarmed him and clothed him in a
surcoat and light mantle, and brought water for his hands and he sat
down to meat.

With that there entered a maiden, a proud and noble lady; of her beauty
I may not speak, but I deem well that neither Dido nor Helen herself
was so fair. She was daughter unto the King of Logres, and came riding
upon a snow-white palfrey, bearing with her a white brachet of smooth
and shining hair, at whose neck hung a little golden bell. Thus she
rode up before the King, and gave him greeting: "King Arthur, God the
all powerful who reigneth on high have thee in His keeping."

"Fair friend, may He who counteth the faithful for His own guard thee."

"Sire, I am a maiden, daughter unto king and queen, and my father
ruleth over Logres. I ask of thee for love, as of a right valiant
monarch, if there be one among thy knights who is of such prowess that
for me he will smite off the white foot of a certain stag. If there be
give him to me, I pray thee, sire, and I will take him for my lord;
for indeed, none other will I have. For no man may win my favour if he
bring me not the white foot of that great and fair stag, the hair of
which shineth like gold, and which is guarded by seven lions."

"Of a faith," said the King, "such covenant will I make with thee that
he who bringeth hither the stag's foot shall have thee for wife."

"And I, Sir King, swear to thee that such shall be the covenant."

So they made the pact fast between them, and never a knight in the
hall who was of any praise or renown but said he would go and seek the
stag, did he but know where it might be found.

The maiden spake: "This brachet shall guide ye where the stag is wont
to have his dwelling-place."

Then Lodoer, who desired greatly to be the first to seek the stag,
prayed the boon from Arthur, and the King would not say him nay. So he
took the brachet, and mounted and set forth to seek the stag's foot.
But the dog which went with him led him straight to a water which was
great and wide, black, swollen, and hideous to look upon, four hundred
fathoms was it wide, and well on a hundred deep, and the brachet sprang
straightway into the flood, deeming perchance, as a dog may, that the
knight was following it closely.

But follow it would Lodoer in no wise: he had no mind to enter the
stream, for he had little desire of death, and he said within himself:
"He who hath not himself hath naught; he keepeth a castle well, I think
me, who taketh heed that it be not mishandled."

Then the dog came forth out of the water, and returned to Lodoer, and
Lodoer turned himself again and took the brachet, and went swiftly on
his way to the court, where was a great company assembled, and gave
back her brachet to the maiden, the King's daughter of Logres.

Then King Arthur asked him if he had brought the foot; and Lodoer
answered that an another would risk his life, the venture yet awaited
him. Then they mocked at him throughout the hall, but he wagged his
head at them and bade them go seek the foot, if by hap they might bring
it back.

Then many set forth to seek the stag, and to win the damsel, but never
a one might sing another song than that which Lodoer of need must sing
(for he was indeed a valiant knight) save one only, who was brave and
swift-footed, and whom men called _Knight-Beast_, though his name, as
ye know well, was Tyolet. For this knight went his way to King Arthur,
and prayed him straitly that the maiden be held at the court for him,
since he would go forth to conquer the adventure of the stag's foot;
never, he said, would he return till he had smitten off the white right
foot of the stag.

The King gave him leave, and Tyolet armed himself right well, and went
to the maiden and prayed of her the loan of her white brachet, which
she granted him freely, and he took leave of her. When he had ridden
and roved long enough he came to the ford of that great and rushing
water which was deep and deadly to look upon; the brachet sprang into
the stream, and swam straightway, and Tyolet plunged in after it and
thus mounted on his steed he followed the dog till he came forth on dry
land. And the brachet ran ever before him and guided him till he came
to where he might see the stag; seven lions they were that guarded it,
and loved it with a great love.

Then Tyolet looked, and saw the stag where it fed alone in a meadow,
and none of the lions were near at hand; and he set spurs to his horse,
and passed before it whistling as he went. The stag came swiftly
towards him, and when Tyolet had whistled seven times it stood still.
Then Tyolet drew his sword, and taking the white right foot in his hand
smote it off at the joint, and hid it within his robe. The stag at
this gave a loud cry, and the lions, who were none too far off, came
swiftly to its aid and beheld the knight.

One of the lions sprang upon the steed Tyolet bestrode, and wounded
it so sorely that it tore away all the skin and flesh from the right
shoulder, and when Tyolet saw it he smote the lion a mighty blow in the
chest, cleaving asunder nerve and sinew--and with that lion had he no
more ado. The steed fell to the ground, and even as the knight sprang
clear the lions were upon him on all sides. They tore the good hauberk
from his back, and the flesh from his arms and ribs, and wounded him
so sorely that they went nigh to devour him altogether. Sorely was he
torn, but at last he slew them, though scarce might he be delivered
from their claws. Then he fell senseless beside the lions, for so torn
and mauled was he that he might not stand upright.

Now as he lay senseless there came thither a knight mounted upon an
iron-grey steed, and drew his bridle, and looked upon the young knight,
and lamented over him. Then Tyolet opened his eyes, and told him all
that had chanced, and bade him take the foot from out his breast.
This the knight did, rejoicing greatly within himself, for much had he
longed to win that foot.

But as he turned his bridle to ride away, he bethought him that by
chance the young knight might even yet live, and if he did, then ill
would it be for him; so he turned himself back thinking to slay the
knight there and then lest he challenge him later. So he drew his
sword, and thrust Tyolet through the body, and went his way, thinking
that he had slain him.

Then came that traitor knight to the court of King Arthur, and shewed
the white foot, and demanded the hand of the maiden. But the white
brachet, which had led Tyolet to the stag had he not brought--of that
knew he naught.

Then he claimed by covenant that fair maiden, since, he said, he had
smitten off the white foot of the stag and brought it to court. But the
King, who was wise enow, demanded eight days' grace to await Tyolet's
return, ere he would assemble his court, for he had with him but those
of his household--good knights all, frank and courteous. So the knight
must needs grant that respite--and abide at court till the eight days
were ended.

But he knew not that that good and courteous knight, Sir Gawain, had
set forth secretly to seek Tyolet, for the brachet had come back to
court alone, and Gawain deemed surely it would guide him to the knight.
And indeed it led him truly to the meadow where he found Tyolet lying
lifeless among the lions.

When Gawain saw the knight and the slaughter he had wrought, he mourned
the ill-chance greatly, and dismounting spake softly to his friend,
and Tyolet answered him feebly, telling him what had brought him to
this pass; and as he spake there rode up a maiden, fair to look upon,
mounted upon a mule, and greeted Gawain courteously. Then Gawain
returned her greeting, and called her to him, and embraced her, praying
her very gently and very courteously that she would bear this knight,
who was indeed a right valiant knight, to the leech of the Black
Mountain; and the maiden did even as he besought her, and bare Tyolet
to the leech, praying him to care for him for the sake of Sir Gawain.

The leech willingly received the knight, and did off his armour, laying
him on a table. Then he washed his wounds, and freed them from the
clotted blood which was all around them, and saw that he would do well,
and would be whole again within the month. But Sir Gawain went his way
back to court and dismounted within the hall. And he found there the
knight who had brought the white foot; he had dwelt at court till the
eight days were passed, and now he came to the King, saluting him, and
praying him to keep the covenant which the maiden of Logres had herself
devised, and to which King Arthur had given consent--to wit, that
whosoever should bring her the white foot, him would she take for lord;
and King Arthur said, "'Tis the truth."

But when Gawain heard this he sprang forward swiftly, and said to the
King: "Sire, 'tis not so; were it not that here before thee who art
the king I may not give the lie to any man, be he knight or squire, I
would say that he doth lie, and never won the white foot or the stag
in the manner of which he vaunteth himself. Great shame doth he do to
knights who would boast himself of another's deeds and clothe himself
with another's mantle; who would steal the goods from another's store,
and deck himself with that which belongeth to another; who by the hand
of another would joust, and draw forth from the thicket the fearsome
serpent. Nor shall it thus be seen in this court; what thou sayest is
worth naught, make thine assault elsewhere, seek elsewhere for what
thou desirest, this maiden is not for thee!"

"Of a faith," quoth the knight, "Sir Gawain, now dost thou hold me for
a coward and a villain, since thou sayest that I dare not lay lance in
rest for jousting, and know how to steal goods from another's store,
and draw the serpent from the thicket by another's hand. But thou
speakest falsely as thou wilt find, if thou thinkest to prove thy words
by force of arms, and deemest that thou wilt not find me in the field!"

While they thus strove together behold Tyolet, who had come thither in
haste and had dismounted without the hall. The King rose from his seat
to meet him, and threw his arms around his neck, and kissed him for
the great love which he bare to him; and Tyolet bowed before him as
fitting before his lord.

Then Gawain embraced him, and Urian, and Kay, and Yvain the son of
Morgain, and the good knight Lodoer, and all the other knights.

But the knight who would fain win the maiden through the foot which
Tyolet had given to him, and which he had brought thither, spake again
to Arthur, and again made request.

But Tyolet, when he knew that he demanded the maiden, spake courteously
to him, and asked him gently: "Sir Knight, tell me here in the presence
of the King, by what right dost thou claim this maiden?"

"Of a faith," he said, "I will tell thee. It is because I brought her
the white foot of the stag; the King and she herself had so pledged it."

"Didst thou then smite off the foot? If it be true, it may not be

"Yea, I smote it off, and brought it hither with me."

"And who then slew the seven lions?"

The knight looked upon him and said never a word, but reddened, and
waxed wrathful.

Then Tyolet spake again: "Sir Knight, who was he who was smitten with
the sword, and who was he who smote him? Tell me, I pray thee, for of a
truth I think me that last wast thou!" And the knight frowned, as one

"But that was, methinks, to return evil for good when thou didst that
deed. In all good faith I gave thee the foot which I had smitten from
off the stag, and for that didst thou give me such guerdon as went nigh
to slay me; dead ought I to be in very truth. I gave thee a gift: of
that do I now repent me. With the sword thou didst carry didst thou
smite me through the body, thinking to have slain me. If thou would'st
deny it, here will I tend to King Arthur my gage that I will prove it
before this noble company."

But when the knight heard that, since he feared death more than shame,
he cried him mercy, knowing that he spake truth. Nothing dared he
gainsay, but yielded himself to King Arthur to do his commandment.

Then Tyolet, taking counsel with the King and his barons, pardoned him,
and the knight fell on his knees and kissed his feet. Then Tyolet
raised him up and kissed him, and from that day forward they spake no
more of that matter. The knight gave back the stag's foot, and Tyolet
gave it to the damsel.

The lily and the new-blown rose, when it bloometh first in the fair
summer-time, are less fair than was that maiden. Then Tyolet prayed
her hand in marriage, and with her consent did King Arthur give her to
him. She led him back with her to her land, there was he king, and she
queen--and here the lay of Tyolet findeth ending.

The Were-Wolf


  "_Sir Marrok, the good knight that was betrayed with his wife, for she
  made him seven year a Werwolf._"--MORTE D'ARTHUR, book xix. chap. 11.

In the days of King Arthur there lived in Brittany a valiant knight of
noble birth and fair to look upon; in high favour with his lord and
much loved by all his fellows. This knight was wedded to a fair and
gracious lady whom he loved tenderly, and she too loved her lord, but
one thing vexed her sorely--three days in every week would her husband
leave her, and none knew whither he went, or what he did while thus

And every time the lady vexed herself more and more, till at last she
could no longer keep silence, and when her husband came back, joyful
and glad at heart after one of these journeys, she said to him: "My
dear lord, there is somewhat I would fain ask thee, and yet I scarce
dare, for I fear lest thou be angry with me."

Then her lord drew her to him, and kissed her tenderly. "Lady," he
said, "fear not to ask me, there is nothing I would not gladly tell
thee, if it be in my power."

"I' faith," she said, "now is my heart at rest. My lord, didst thou
but know how terrified I am in the days I am left alone; I rise in the
morning affrighted, and lie down at night in such dread of losing thee
that if I be not soon reassured I think me I shall die of it. Tell me,
I pray thee, where thou goest, and on what errand, that I who love thee
may be at rest during thine absence."

"Lady," he answered, "for the love of God ask me no more, for indeed if
I told thee evil would surely come of it; thou would'st cease to love
me, and I should be lost."

When the lady heard this she was but ill-pleased, nor would she let
her lord be at peace, but day by day she besought him with prayers and
caresses, till at length he yielded and told her all the truth. "Lady,"
he said, "there is a spell cast upon me: three days in the week am I
forced to become a were-wolf; and when I feel the change coming upon
me I hide me in the thickest part of the forest, and there I live on
prey and roots till the time has expired."

When he had told her this his wife asked him what of his garments? Did
he still wear them in his wolf's shape?

"Nay," he said, "I must needs lay them aside."

"And what dost thou do with them?"

"Ah, that I may not tell thee, for if I were to lose them, or they
should be stolen from me, then must I needs be a wolf all my days,
nothing could aid me save that the garments be brought to me again. So
for my own safety I must needs keep the matter secret."

"Ah, my dear lord, why hide it from _me_? Surely thou hast no fear of
me who love thee above all else in the world? Little love canst thou
have for me! What have I done? What sin have I committed that thou
should'st withdraw thy confidence? Thou wilt do well to tell me."

Thus she wept and entreated till at length the knight yielded, and told
her all.

"Wife," he said, "without the forest on the highway, at a cross road,
is an old chapel wherein I have often found help and succour. Close to
it, under a thick shrub, is a large stone with a hollow beneath it;
under that stone I hide my garments till the enchantment hath lost its
power, and I may turn me homewards."

Now when the lady had heard this story it fell out even as her husband
had foretold, for her love was changed to loathing, and she was seized
with a great dread and fear of him. She was terrified to be in his
presence, yet he was her lord, and she knew not how she might escape
from him.

Then she bethought her of a certain knight of that country, who had
loved her long, and wooed her in vain ere she wedded her lord; and one
time when her husband went forth, she sent for him in secret, and bade
him come and give her counsel on a matter that troubled her much. When
he came she bade him swear an oath to keep secret what she might tell
him, and when he had sworn she told him all the story, and prayed him
for the sake of the love he once bore her to free her from one who was
neither beast nor man, and yet was both.

The knight, who loved her still, was ready to do all she might desire,
and she said, "'Tis but to steal his clothes, for then he can no more
become a man, but must dwell in the forest as a wolf all his days, and
some one will assuredly slay him." So he went forth, and did after her
bidding and brought her the garments, and she hid them away saying,
"Now am I safe, and that monster can return no more to terrify me."

When the time went on, and her husband came not, the lady feigned to be
anxious for his welfare, and she sent his men forth to seek him; they
went through all the country but could find no trace of their lord, so
at length they gave up the search, and all deemed he had been slain on
one of his mysterious journeys. And when a year had passed, and the
lady thought the wolf had surely been killed, she wedded the knight who
had aided her and thought no more of the husband she had betrayed.

But the poor were-wolf roamed the forest in suffering and sorrow, for
though a beast outwardly yet he had the heart and brain of a man, and
knew well what had happened, and he grieved bitterly, for he had loved
his wife truly and well.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now it chanced one day that the king of that land rode a-hunting in
that very forest, and the hounds came on the track of the were-wolf
and roused him from his lair and gave chase to him. All day he fled
before them through the woodland, and at last when they were close upon
him and he was in sore peril of being overtaken and torn in pieces the
king came riding after the hounds, and the wolf swerved aside and fled
to him, seizing him by the stirrup, and licking his foot in sign of

The king was much astonished, and called to his companions to come
swiftly. "See here, my lords," he said, "what think ye of this marvel?
See how this beast entreats mercy of me; he hath the sense of a man!
Drive off the dogs, for I will not have him injured. Turn we homewards,
I take this beast in my peace, and will hunt no more in this forest
lest by chance he be slain."

With that they turned their bridles and rode homewards; but the wolf
followed behind, and would not be driven back, even when they came to
the royal castle. The king was greatly pleased, for he thought the
matter strange and marvellous; no such tale had he ever heard before;
and since he had taken a great liking for the beast he bade his knights
not merely to do the wolf no harm, but to treat him with all care and
kindness, on pain of losing the royal favour. So all day the wolf
roamed the court, free among the knights, and at night he slept in the
king's own chamber. Wherever the king went, there he would have his
wolf go too, and all the courtiers made much of the beast, seeing that
it pleased their lord, and finding that he did no harm to any man among

Now when a long time had passed the king had occasion to hold a solemn
court; he summoned all his barons from far and near, and among them
came the knight who had betrayed the were-wolf, and wedded his lady; he
had little thought that his rival was yet in life, still less that he
was so near at hand. But as soon as the wolf beheld him he sprang upon
him savagely, tearing him with his teeth, and would have slain him if
the king had not called him off, and even then twice again he would
have seized him.

Every one in the castle was astonished at the rage shown by the beast,
which had always been so tame and gentle, and a whisper went round that
surely there must be something which no one knew against the knight,
for the wolf would scarce have attacked him without cause. All the time
the court lasted the wolf had to be kept in close guard. When at length
it broke up the knight who had been attacked was one of the first to
leave--and small marvel it he were. But when the knight had gone the
wolf was once more as tame and friendly as he had been from the first,
and all the courtiers made a pet of him as they had done aforetime, and
forgot, as time went on, that he had ever shown himself so savage.

       *       *       *       *       *

At length the king bethought him that he would make a progress through
his kingdom, and at the same time hunt for a while in the forest where
he had found the wolf. As his custom was he took the beast with him.

Now the lady, the were-wolf's treacherous wife, hearing that the king
would abide some time in that part of the country, prayed for an
audience that she might win the royal favour by presenting rich gifts,
for she knew well that the king loved not her second husband as he had
loved the first.

The king appointed a day and hour for the audience, but when the lady
entered the presence chamber suddenly the wolf flew upon her, and
before any could hinder had bitten the nose from off her face. The
courtiers drew out their weapons and would have slain the beast, when a
wise man, one of the king's councillors, stayed them. "Sire," he said,
"hearken to me--this wolf has been long with us, there is not one of
us here who has not been near to him, and caressed him, over and over
again; yet not a man of us has he ever touched, or even shown ill-will
to any. But two has he ever attacked, this lady here and the lord, her
husband. Now, sire, bethink thee well--this lady was the wife of the
knight thou didst hold dear aforetime, and who was lost long since, no
man knowing what came to him. Take my counsel, put this lady in guard,
and question her closely as to whether she can give any reason why the
wolf should hate her. Many a marvel hath come to pass in Brittany, and
methinks there is something stranger than we wot of here."

The king thought the old lord's counsel good; he caused the lady and
her husband to be put in prison apart, and questioned separately with
threats if they kept silence; till at length the lady, terrified,
confessed how she had betrayed her first husband, by causing his
garments to be stolen from him when he was in a wolf's shape. Since
that time he had disappeared; she knew not whether he were alive or
dead, but she thought that perchance this wolf was he. When the king
heard this he commanded them to fetch the garments belonging to the
lost knight, whether it were pleasing to the lady or no; and when they
were brought he laid them before the wolf and waited to see what would

But the wolf made as if he saw them not, and the wise councillor said,
"Sire, if this beast be indeed a were-wolf he will not change shapes
while there are any to behold him; since it is only with great pain
and difficulty he can do so. Bid them take wolf and garments into thine
own chamber, and fasten the doors upon him; then leave him for a while,
and we shall see if he become man."

The king thought this counsel good, and he himself took the beast into
his chamber and made the doors fast.

Then they waited for a space that seemed long enough to the king, and
when the old lord told him he might well do so, he took two nobles with
him, and unlocked the doors, and entered, and lo, on the king's couch
lay the long lost knight in a deep slumber!

The king ran to him and embraced him warmly; and when the first wonder
had somewhat passed, he bade him take back all the lands of which he
had been robbed, and over and above he bestowed upon him many rich

The treacherous wife and her second husband were banished from the
country; many years they lived in a strange land, and had children and
grand-children--but all their descendants might be known by this, that
the maidens were born without noses, so that they won the surname of

And the old books say that this adventure was verily true, and that it
was in order that the memory of it should be preserved to all time that
the Bretons put it in verse, and called it "The Lai of the Were-Wolf."



This charming lay was first published by M. Gaston Paris (Romania
VIII.) from the same MS. collection as the _Lay of Tyolet_. The
author is unnamed, but the general consensus of critical opinion has
attributed it to Marie de France, the famous Anglo-Norman poetess.
Certainly both in manner and matter it is a remarkably favourable
specimen of the Breton lay.

The story of Guingamor evidently represents a very favourite class of
tales; setting aside the numerous parallels cited by Dr. Schofield in
his study of the lay (_The Lay of Guingamor_, "Harvard Studies and
Notes in Philology and Literature," vol. v.), we have among the French
translations of Breton lays which have descended to us no fewer than
three which closely correspond in subject and treatment, the lays of
_Guingamor_, _Graalent_, and _Lanval_. In each of these the hero is
tempted by a queen; rejects her proffered love; wins a fairy bride,
and departs to dwell with her in her own land. Guingamor and Graalent
agree in the circumstances under which the knight meets the fairy
maiden (a feature in which Dr. Schofield sees the influence of the
_Wayland_ story--_cf._ _The Lays of Graalent and Lanval, and the Story
of Wayland_, W. H. Schofield); while Lanval and Graalent agree in the
subsequent development of the story.

Of the three, Guingamor is distinctly the most tragic. The knight who
after two days spent in the delights of love and the festivities of
the wondrous palace returns on the third day to his own land to find
that kinsmen and friends have passed away, and his own name and fate
but a folk-tale centuries old, is a really pathetic figure. We need
not wonder that the story was a popular one; not only does Chrétien de
Troyes in the quotation prefixed to my translation mention it, but it
is again referred to as a well-known tale by Gautier de Doulens, one
of the continuators of Chrétien's unfinished _Conte del Graal_. The
knight who is coupled with Guingamor in our extract, _Graislemiers de
Fine Posterne_, is by Prof. Foerster and other scholars identified with
_Graalent mor_, and it seems probable that it was the close resemblance
between their stories, noted above, which led the French poet to
represent them as brothers.

PAGE 6.--_He knew how to promise and how to give._ "Bien sot promestre
et bien doner." This should be compared with Wace's description of
Gawain, "plus volt faire que il ne dist, Et plus doner qu'il ne
promist." It is impossible not to feel that Arthur's gallant nephew,
who had a fairy for his love, and who according to Chaucer found his
final home in fairy-land, stands in very close connection with these
heroes of the earlier stratum of Arthurian legend.

PAGE 18.--_Taking her robes set them high in the fork of a great
oak._ This apparently unknightly proceeding on the part of the hero
was doubtless originally connected with the supernatural character of
the lady, and seems to have taken its rise in a confusion between a
fay and a swan-maiden. As we know from Northern tradition (Brynhild's
_Hell-reid_ and the _Wieland-saga_) to steal the "swan-shift" of such a
maiden was the recognised means of effecting her capture. This has been
well discussed by Dr. Schofield in the study quoted above.

PAGE 22.--_I charge thee--that thou neither eat nor drink._

This is evidently a somewhat confused introduction of the well-known
feature that partaking of food in any land brings the eater under the
operation of the laws of that land, but we generally find the incident
of reverse application, as in the case of Persephone, who having tasted
of the pomegranate seeds must needs continue an inhabitant of the other
world. Guingamor having already eaten of the food of faëry, would, one
would think, be incapable of returning to the other world. Such a fate
as befalls him is, however, often brought about by coming in contact
with the _earth_; thus in the _Voyage of Bran_, when the hero and his
companions return from the Magic Isles, they are warned not to set foot
on the shore of Ireland; one of the company disobeys the injunction
and immediately falls to ashes, as one many years dead. Mr. Hartland,
in his work on _The Science of Fairy-tales_, gives other instances of
this belief. From the references made to the story by later writers,
however, it is quite clear that Guingamor was supposed to have
regained his youth on his return to Fairyland, and to enjoy practical
immortality as the lord of its queen.


This is a translation of the _Lai de Lanval_, by Marie de France, the
_original_ source being, as in the case of all the other stories, a
Breton _lai_ which the Anglo-Norman poetess translated into French.

The English poem of the same name, by Thomas of Chester, is not,
strictly speaking, a _translation_ of Marie's _lai_, but an adaptation,
into which features borrowed from other sources have been worked. Thus
the author evidently knew the lay of _Graalent_, which, as I have
stated in the note to Guingamor, recites precisely the same story as
_Lanval_, only with certain variations in the incidents. Dr. Schofield,
in the study to which I have previously referred, decides that the
original hero is _Lanval_.

The _Graalent_ version contains a weirdly pathetic feature which was
either unknown to Marie or disregarded by her. The hero rides off, not
on the lady's steed, but on his own; crossing the river he is swept
from the saddle, and only saved from drowning by his mistress, who
takes him up behind her on her palfrey. The knight's charger, reaching
the shore, vainly seeks for his master, and the Bretons tell how
yearly, on the anniversary of Graalent's disappearance, the horse may
be heard neighing loudly for the vanished knight. Thomas of Chester
refers to this story evidently, but appears to think that the steed had
rejoined its master, as after telling how "_every yer, upon a certayn
day, Men may here Launfale's stede nay_," he goes on to tell how any
who desires a joust to keep his arms from rusting "_may fynde justes
anow wyth Syr Launfal the knyght_."


This lay is the translation of one published by M. Gaston Paris
(Romania VIII. 1879) from a MS. in the Bibliothèque Nationale, and
previously unknown. It will be seen that it really consists of two
distinct stories: (_a_) Tyolet's _Enfances_; (_b_) his achieving of
the adventure of the white-footed stag. Whether these two stories
originally related to the same hero is doubtful, but both are of
considerable importance for the criticism of the Arthurian legend.

(_a_) Tyolet's _Enfances_.--This story certainly bears a strong
resemblance to the "Perceval" story as related by Chrétien de Troyes
and Wolfram von Eschenbach; but while in some points it seems to have
preserved more archaic features, in others it is distinctly more
modern. Thus the lad's confusion of the knight with a beast seems a
primitive trait, as does also his fairy gift of attracting beasts
by whistling, and the curious transformation of the stag, while
his behaviour on arriving at court, on the other hand, is far more
civilised than that of Perceval. One naturally asks where had he
learnt of tourneys and joustings and the knightly duty of "largesse"?
The probability is that we have here a revised, and independent,
version of the popular folk-tale which under the hands of certain
twelfth-century poets developed into the Perceval romance.

(_b_) _Le cerf au pied blanc._ This story is also found in the vast
compilation of Arthurian romance known as the Dutch _Lancelot_.
There the adventure is attributed to Lancelot, but with certain
variants--_e.g._, Kay, and not Lodoer, is the first to attempt the
adventure, and to fail through cowardice (a trait entirely in accord
with the rôle played by Kay in the later Arthurian story); Lancelot
slays the lions _before_ cutting off the foot of the stag; and he
does not marry the lady, who in this version has not herself visited
Arthur's court but has sent a messenger. This at once points to a later
redaction of the story; the hero certainly ought to marry the maiden at
whose instigation he undertakes the adventure.

The part played by the traitor knight did not, I venture to think,
originally belong to the story; it is part of a very widely spread
Aryan folk-tale, generally relating to the slaying of a dragon or
similar monster. Mr. Hartland has given a long list of the variants
of this in _The Legend of Perseus_, vol. iii. A very fine specimen is
contained in the early _Tristan_ poems, notably that of Gottfried von
Strassburg, and another version, that contained in the poem of _Morien_
ascribes the adventure to _Lancelot_. It may be remarked that in both
the "Lancelot" versions, as in this _lai_ of Tyolet, it is Gawain who
seeks the hero, and chivalrously defends his claim against that of
the traitor. The story certainly must have become connected with the
Arthurian legend at a time when Gawain was still the _beau-ideal_ of
knightly courtesy.

The original tale at the root of the _Cerf au pied blanc_ was, I
believe, a transformation tale; the stag was the enchanted relative
of the lady who instigated the adventure, and the spell could only
be broken by smiting off the animal's foot (as in many instances it
is necessary to cut off the head of the victim of magic spells); this
seems to me the only explanation of what is here a pointless act of
cruelty. Probably the connecting link with the tale of Tyolet is
the mysterious stag-knight of the first part, not the fairy gift of
whistling as M. Gaston Paris suggested. I believe the story to be the
origin of the white stag guarded by _six_ lions in the Prose Lancelot,
which in the "Queste" changes with its _four_ attendant lions into Our
Lord and the Four Evangelists. The real meaning of the story has here
been preserved. This solution is also indicated by the fact that one of
the shapes assumed by Merlin in his numerous transformations is that of
a stag _with one white foot_ (_cf._ "Merlin," Sommer's edition, xxiii.
p. 302).

In connection with this it may be noted that a story published in the
_Scottish Celtic Review_, vol. i., "Macphie's Black Dog," contains a
striking parallel to _Tyolet_. The hero goes forth to shoot and sees a
royal stag, but whenever he raises his gun to fire the animal changes
into a woman. I think it is clear that in _Tyolet_ we have the Perceval
Enfances plus a transformation tale.


The source of this is the _Lai du Bisclavaret_, by Marie de France. She
was evidently relating a popular tradition, and there can be little
doubt that it is the story referred to by Malory in the passage quoted
at the heading of the tale. In Marie's _Lai_ none of the characters are

The same story appears to be at the root of a Celtic folk-tale,
_Morraha_, published by Mr. Jacobs in his collection entitled, "More
Celtic Fairy Tales," here, however, being only subsidiary, a story
within a story. Elsewhere I have found no trace of it, but the
reference in Malory appeared to justify its inclusion among Arthurian

Since writing this note Mr. Nutt has drawn my attention to a tale
published in the _Scottish Celtic Review_, referred to above, "How
the Great Tuairisgeul was put to Death." This tale strongly resembles
_Morraha_, only the transformation is brought about by the spells of
a witch employed by the stepmother, and is not the deed of the wife.
_Morraha_ seems to occupy a position between our tale and this. It
may be suggested that there is a certain resemblance between the name
Morraha, and that given by Malory for the hero of the story _Marrok_.
It is worth noting that in both these tales the sympathy of the reader
is invited for the wolf. As a rule a were-wolf is an object of dread
and abhorrence.

  Tavistock Street, Covent Garden, London


Obvious printer errors have been corrected. Otherwise, the author's
original spelling, punctuation and hyphenation have been left intact.

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