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MALORY, Thomas

Le Morte d’Arthur

Book XXI

CHAPTER II: Excerpt

How after that King Arthur had tidings, he returned and

came to Dover, where Sir Mordred met him to let his

landing; and of the death of Sir Gawaine

AND so as Sir Mordred was at Dover with his host, there

came King Arthur with a great navy of ships, and galleys,

and carracks. And there was Sir Mordred ready awaiting

upon his landing, to let his own father to land upon the

land that he was king over. Then there was launching

of great boats and small, and full of noble men of arms;

and there was much slaughter of gentle knights, and

many a full bold baron was laid full low, on both parties.

But King Arthur was so courageous that there might no

manner of knights let him to land, and his knights fiercely

followed him; and so they landed maugre Sir Mordred

and all his power, and put Sir Mordred aback, that he

fled and all his people.

So when this battle was done, King Arthur let bury

his people that were dead. And then was noble Sir

Gawaine found in a great boat, lying more than half dead

When Sir Arthur wist that Sir Gawaine was laid so low;

he went unto him; and there the king made sorrow out

of measure, and took Sir Gawaine in his arms, and thrice

he there swooned. And then when he awaked, he said:

Alas, Sir Gawaine, my sister's son, here now thou liest;

the man in the world that I loved most; and now is my

joy gone, for now, my nephew Sir Gawaine, I will discover

me unto your person: in Sir Launcelot and you I most

had my joy, and mine affiance, and now have I lost my

joy of you both; wherefore all mine earthly joy is gone

from me. Mine uncle King Arthur, said Sir Gawaine,

wit you well my death-day is come, and all is through

mine own hastiness and wilfulness; for I am smitten upon

the old wound the which Sir Launcelot gave me, on the

which I feel well I must die; and had Sir Launcelot been

with you as he was, this unhappy war had never begun;

and of all this am I causer, for Sir Launcelot and his

blood, through their prowess, held all your cankered

enemies in subjection and daunger. And now, said Sir

Gawaine, ye shall miss Sir Launcelot. But alas, I would

not accord with him, and therefore, said Sir Gawaine, I

pray you, fair uncle, that I may have paper, pen, and ink,

that I may write to Sir Launcelot a cedle with mine own

hands.