# Lancelot: Or, the Knight of the Cart

## Part 2: Verses 1841 - 3684

(Vv. 1841-1966.) Thereupon the knight turns away, without longer remaining in the field, and the damsel accompanies him. They leave in haste, while the father and his son ride after them through the mown fields until toward three o'clock, when in a very pleasant spot they come upon a church; beside the chancel there was a cemetery enclosed by a wall. The knight was both courteous and wise to enter the church on foot and make his prayer to God, while the damsel held his horse for him until he returned. When he had made his prayer, and while he was coming back, a very old monk suddenly presented himself; whereupon the knight politely requests him to tell him what this place is; for he does not know. And he tells him it is a cemetery. And the other says: "Take me in, so help you God!" "Gladly, sire," and he takes him in. Following the monk's lead, the knight beholds the most beautiful tombs that one could find as far as Dombes (13) or Pampelune; and on each tomb there were letters cut, telling the names of those who were destined to be buried there.

(Vv. 1967-2022.) Then the damsel takes leave of him, and rides swiftly after the knight. Then those who were following them come up and see the hermit standing alone before the church. The old knight in his shirt sleeves said: "Sire, tell us, have you seen a knight with a damsel in his company?" And he replies: "I shall not be loath to tell you all I know, for they have just passed on from here. The knight was inside yonder, and did a very marvellous thing in raising the stone from the huge marble tomb, quite unaided and without the least effort. He is bent upon the rescue of the Queen, and doubtless he will rescue her, as well as all the other people. You know well that this must be so, for you have often read the inscription upon the stone. No knight was ever born of man and woman, and no knight ever sat in a saddle, who was the equal of this man." Then the father turns to his son, and says: "Son, what dost thou think about him now? Is he not a man to be respected who has performed such a feat? Now thou knowest who was wrong, and whether it was thou or I. I would not have thee fight with him for all the town of Amiens; and yet thou didst struggle hard, before any one could dissuade thee from thy purpose. Now we may as well go back, for we should be very foolish to follow him any farther." And he replies: "I agree to that. It would be useless to follow him. Since it is your pleasure, let us return." They were very wise to retrace their steps. And all the time the damsel rides close beside the knight, wishing to compel him to give heed to her. She is anxious to learn his name, and she begs and beseeches him again and again to tell her, until in his annoyance he answers her: "Have I not already told you that I belong in King Arthur's realm? I swear by God and His goodness that you shall not learn my name." Then she bids him give her leave to go, and she will turn back, which request he gladly grants.

And he says: "Sire, you have undertaken a very grievous task.

The road you are travelling will lead you straight to the sword- bridge. (14) You surely need advice. If you would heed my counsel, you would proceed to the sword-bridge by a surer way, and I would have you escorted thither." Then he, whose mind is fixed upon the most direct way, asks him: "Is the road of which you speak as direct as the other way?" "No, it is not," he says; "it is longer, but more sure." Then he says: "I have no use for it; tell me about this road I am following!" "I am ready to do so," he replies; "but I am sure you will not fare well if you take any other than the road I recommend. To-morrow you will reach a place where you will have trouble: it is called the stony passage'. Shall I tell you how bad a place it is to pass?

Only one horse can go through at a time; even two men could not pass abreast, and the passage is well guarded and defended. You will meet with resistance as soon as you arrive. You will sustain many a blow of sword and lance, and will have to return full measure before you succeed in passing through." And when he had completed the account, one of the gentleman's sons, who was a knight, stepped forward, saying: "Sire, if you do not object, I will go with this gentleman." Then one of the lads jumps up, and says: "I too will go." And the father gladly gives them both consent. Now the knight will not have to go alone, and he expresses his gratitude, being much pleased with the company.

(Vv. 2199-2266.) Then the conversation ceases, and they take the knight to bed, where he was glad to fall asleep. As soon as daylight was visible he got up, and those who were to accompany him got up too. The two knights donned their armour and took their leave, while the young fellow started on ahead. Together they pursued their way until they came at the hour of prime to "the stony passage." In the middle of it they found a wooden tower, where there was always a man on guard. Before they drew near, he who was on the tower saw them and cried twice aloud: "Woe to this man who comes!" And then behold! A knight issued from the tower, mounted and armed with fresh armour, and escorted on either side by servants carrying sharp axes. Then, when the other draws near the passage, he who defends it begins to heap him with abuse about the cart, saying: "Vassal, thou art bold and foolish, indeed, to have entered this country. No man ought ever to come here who had ridden upon a cart, and may God withhold from him His blessing!" Then they spur toward each other at the top of their horses' speed. And he who was to guard the passage- way at once breaks his lance and lets the two pieces fall; the other strikes him in the neck, reaching him beneath the shield, and throws him over prostrate upon the stones. Then the servants come forward with the axes, but they intentionally fail to strike him, having no desire to harm or damage him; so he does not deign to draw his sword, and quickly passes on with his companions.

One of them remarks to the other: "No one has ever seen so good a knight, nor has he any equal. Is not this a marvellous thing, that he has forced a passage here?" And the knight says to his brother: "Fair brother, for God's sake, make haste to go and tell our father of this adventure." But the lad asserts and swears that he will not go with the message, and will never leave the knight until he has dubbed and knighted him; let his brother go with the message, if he is so much concerned.

Then the others were much dismayed to see themselves shut in, and they think they must be bewitched. But he, of whom I have more to tell, wore upon his finger a ring, whose stone was of such virtue that any one who gazed at it was freed from the power of enchantment. (15) Holding the ring before his eyes, he gazed at it, and said: "Lady, lady, so help me God, now I have great need of your succour!" (16) This lady was a fairy, who had given it to him, and who had cared for him in his infancy. And he had great confidence that, wherever he might be, she would aid and succour him. But after appealing to her and gazing upon the ring, he realises that there is no enchantment here, but that they are actually shut in and confined. Then they come to the barred door of a low and narrow postern gate. Drawing their swords, they all strike it with such violence that they cut the bar. As soon as they were outside the tower, they see that a fierce strife was already begun down in the meadows, and that there are at least a thousand knights engaged, beside the low-bred infantry. While they were descending to the plain, the wise and moderate son of the vavasor remarked: "Sire, before we arrive upon the field, it would be wise for us, it seems to me, to find out and learn on which side our people are. I do not know where they are placed, but I will go and find out, if you wish it so." "I wish you would do so," he replies, "go quickly, and do not fail to come back again at once." He goes and returns at once, saying: "It has turned out well for us, for I have plainly seen that these are our troops on this side of the field." Then the knight at once rode into the fight and jousted with a knight who was approaching him, striking him in the eye with such violence that he knocked him lifeless to the ground.

(Vv. 2793-2978.) While he is thus beseeching him, behold across the field a maiden riding on a tawny mule, her head uncovered and her dress disarranged. In her hand she held a whip with which she belaboured the mule; and in truth no horse could have galloped so fast as was the pace of the mule. The damsel called out to the Knight of the Cart: "May God bless thy heart, Sir Knight, with whatever delights thee most!" And he, who heard her gladly, says: "May God bless you, damsel, and give you joy and health!" Then she tells him of her desire. "Knight," she says, "in urgent need I have come from afar to thee to ask a favour, for which thou wilt deserve the best guerdon I can make to thee; and I believe that thou wilt yet have need of my assistance."

for leave to depart from their host who had served them so honourably. Then they ride along the road until the day draws to a close, and late in the afternoon they reach the sword-bridge.

For prowess cannot accomplish so much as wickedness and sloth can do: it is true beyond a doubt that it is possible to do more evil than good.

(Vv. 3319-3490.) Then the king goes down and orders them to bring his horse. A large steed is brought to him, upon which he springs by the stirrup, and he rides off with some of his men: three knights and two squires he bade to go with him. They did not stop their ride downhill until they came to the bridge, where they see him stanching his wounds and wiping the blood from them. The king expects to keep him as his guest for a long time while his wounds are healing; but he might as well expect to drain the sea. The king hastens to dismount, and he who was grievously wounded, stood up at once to meet him, though he did not know him, and he gave no more evidence of the pain he felt in his feet and hands than if he had been actually sound. The king sees that he is exerting himself, and quickly runs to greet him with the words: "Sire, I am greatly amazed that you have fallen upon us in this land. But be welcome, for no one will ever repeat the attempt: it never happened in the past, and it will never happen in the future that any one should perform such a hardy feat or expose himself to such peril. And know that I admire you greatly for having executed what no one before ever dared to conceive. You will find me very kindly disposed, and loyal and courteous toward you. I am the king of this land, and offer you freely all my counsel and service; and I think I know pretty well what you have come here to seek. You come, I am sure, to seek the Queen." "Sire," he replies, "your surmise is correct; no other cause brings me here." "Friend, you must suffer hardship to obtain her," he replies; "and you are sorely wounded, as I see by the wounds and the flowing blood. You will not find him who brought her hither so generous as to give her up without a struggle; but you must tarry, and have your wounds cared for until they are completely healed. I will give you some of the three Marys' ointment, (18) and something still better, if it can be found, for I am very solicitous about your comfort and your recovery.

And the Queen is so confined that no mortal man has access to her -- not even my son, who brought her here with him and who resents such treatment, for never was a man so beside himself and so desperate as he. But I am well disposed toward you, and will gladly give you, so help me God, all of which you stand in need.