CHAPTER XVIII How Sir Marhaus jousted with Sir Gawaine and Sir Uwaine, and overthrew them both.
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AND then Sir Marhaus rode unto his shield, and saw how it was defouled, and said, Of this despite I am a part avenged, but for her love that gave me this white shield I shall wear thee, and hang mine where thou wast; and so he hanged it about his neck.
Then he rode straight unto Sir Gawaine and to Sir Uwaine, and asked them what they did there?
They answered him that they came from King Arthur's court to see adventures.
Well, said Sir Marhaus, here am I ready, an adventurous knight that will fulfil any adventure that ye will desire; and so departed from them, to fetch his range.
Let him go, said Sir Uwaine unto Sir Gawaine, for he is a passing good knight as any is living; I would not by my will that any of us were matched with him.
Nay, said Sir Gawaine, not so, it were shame to us were he not assayed, were he never so good a knight.
Well, said Sir Uwaine, I will assay him afore you, for I am more weaker than ye, and if he smite me down then may ye revenge me.
So these two knights came together with great raundon, that Sir Uwaine smote Sir Marhaus that his spear brast in pieces on the shield, and Sir Marhaus smote him so sore that horse and man he bare to the earth, and hurt Sir Uwaine on the left side.
Then Sir Marhaus turned his horse and rode toward Gawaine with his spear, and when Sir Gawaine saw that he dressed his shield, and they aventred their spears, and they came together with all the might of their horses, that either knight smote other so hard in midst of their shields, but Sir Gawaine's spear brake, but Sir Marhaus' spear held; and therewith Sir Gawaine and his horse rushed down to the earth. And lightly Sir Gawaine rose on his feet, and pulled out his sword, and dressed him toward Sir Marhaus on foot, and Sir Marhaus saw that, and pulled out his sword and began to come to Sir Gawaine on horseback.
Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, alight on foot, or else I will slay thy horse.
Gramercy, said Sir Marhaus, of your gentleness ye teach me courtesy, for it is not for one knight to be on foot, and the other on horseback.
And therewith Sir Marhaus set his spear against a tree and alighted and tied his horse to a tree, and dressed his shield, and either came unto other eagerly, and smote together with their swords that their shields flew in cantels, and they bruised their helms and their hauberks, and wounded either other. But Sir Gawaine from it passed nine of the clock waxed ever stronger and stronger, for then it came to the hour of noon, and thrice his might was increased. All this espied Sir Marhaus and had great wonder how his might increased, and so they wounded other passing sore.
And then when it was past noon, and when it drew toward evensong, Sir Gawaine's strength feebled, and waxed passing faint that unnethes he might dure any longer, and Sir Marhaus was then bigger and bigger.
Sir knight, said Sir Marhaus, I have well felt that ye are a passing good knight and a marvellous man of might as ever I felt any, while it lasteth, and our quarrels are not great, and therefore it were pity to do you hurt, for I feel ye are passing feeble.
Ah, said Sir Gawaine, gentle knight, ye say the word that I should say.
And therewith they took off their helms, and either kissed other, and there they swore together either to love other as brethren. And Sir Marhaus prayed Sir Gawaine to lodge with him that night.
And so they took their horses, and rode toward Sir Marhaus' house. And as they rode by the way, Sir knight, said Sir Gawaine, I have marvel that so valiant a man as ye be love no ladies nor damosels.
Sir, said Sir Marhaus, they name me wrongfully those that give me that name, but well I wot it be the damosels of the turret that so name me, and other such as they be. Now shall I tell you for what cause I hate them: for they be sorceresses and enchanters many of them, and be a knight never so good of his body and full of prowess as man may be, they will make him a stark coward to have the better of him, and this is the principal cause that I hate them; and to all good ladies and gentlewomen I owe my service as a knight ought to do.
As the book rehearseth in French, there were many knights that overmatched Sir Gawaine, for all the thrice might that he had: Sir Launcelot de Lake, Sir Tristram, Sir Bors de Ganis, Sir Percivale, Sir Pelleas, and Sir Marhaus, these six knights had the better of Sir Gawaine.
Then within a little while they came to Sir Marhaus' place, which was in a little priory, and there they alighted, and ladies and damosels unarmed them, and hastily looked to their hurts, for they were all three hurt. And so they had all three good lodging with Sir Marhaus, and good cheer; for when he wist that they were King Arthur's sister's sons he made them all the cheer that lay in his power, and so they sojourned there a sennight, and were well eased of their wounds, and at the last departed.
Now, said Sir Marhaus, we will not depart so lightly, for I will bring you through the forest; and rode day by day well a seven days or they found any adventure. At the last they came into a great forest, that was named the country and forest of Arroy, and the country of strange adventures.
In this country, said Sir Marhaus, came never knight since it was christened but he found strange adventures; and so they rode, and came into a deep valley full of stones, and thereby they saw a fair stream of water; above thereby was the head of the stream a fair fountain, and three damosels sitting thereby.
And then they rode to them, and either saluted other, and the eldest had a garland of gold about her head, and she was three score winter of age or more, and her hair was white under the garland. The second damosel was of thirty winter of age, with a circlet of gold about her head. The third damosel was but fifteen year of age, and a garland of flowers about her head.
When these knights had so beheld them, they asked them the cause why they sat at that fountain?
We be here, said the damosels, for this cause: if we may see any errant knights, to teach them unto strange adventures; and ye be three knights that seek adventures, and we be three damosels, and therefore each one of you must choose one of us; and when ye have done so we will lead you unto three highways, and there each of you shall choose a way and his damosel with him. And this day twelvemonth ye must meet here again, and God send you your lives, and thereto ye must plight your troth.
This is well said, said Sir Marhaus.
Questions. Make sure you can answer these questions about what you just read:
Languages / Anthropology 3043: Folklore & Mythology.
Laura Gibbs, Ph.D.
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