THE HOLY GRAIL
NOTE.—Thomas Malory completed his quaint history of King Arthur in 1469, and sixteen years later the book was printed from the famous old Caxton press. Only one perfect copy of that work is now in existence; but several editions have since been issued with the text modernized, so as to make it easier for us to read, yet with the quaintness and originality of Malory’s tale preserved. So charming is it, that the following incidents in the story of the search for the Holy Grail are told nearly as they are now in the Aldine edition of Le Morte d’Arthur.
Some rearrangement has been necessary, and a few changes have been made in phraseology. Omissions have been made and paragraphs are indicated and quotation marks used as is now the custom in printing.
Many of the knights joined in the quest for the Grail, and their adventures are told by Malory. Even Launcelot himself failed. We tell the story of the one who succeeded.
THE KNIGHTING OF SIR GALAHAD
At the vigil of Pentecost, when all the fellowship of the Round Table were come unto Camelot and there heard their service, and the tables were set ready to the meat, right so, entered into the hall a full fair gentlewoman on horseback, that had ridden full fast, for her horse was all besweated. Then she there alit and came before the King and saluted him and he said, “Damosel, God thee bless.”
“Sir,” said she, “for God’s sake say me where Sir Launcelot is.”
“Yonder ye may see him,” said the King.
Then she went unto Launcelot and said, “Sir Launcelot, I require you to come along with me hereby into a forest.”
“What will ye with me?” said Sir Launcelot.
“Ye shall know,” said she, “when ye come thither.”
“Well,” said he, “I will gladly go with you.”
So Sir Launcelot bade him his squire saddle his horse and bring his arms.
Right so departed Sir Launcelot with the gentlewoman and rode until he came into a forest, and into a great valley, where they saw an abbey of nuns; and there was a squire ready and opened the gates, and so they entered and descended off their horses; and there came a fair fellowship about Sir Launcelot, and welcomed him and were passing glad of his coming.
And they led him into the Abbess’s chamber and unarmed him; and therein came twelve nuns that brought with them Galahad, the which was passing fair and well made, that unnethe in the world men might not find his match: and all those ladies wept.
[Footnote 1: This is an old word meaning with difficulty.]
“Sir,” said they all, “we bring you here this child the which we have nourished, and we pray you to make him a knight, for of a worthier man’s hand may he not receive the order of knighthood.”
Then said Sir Launcelot, “Cometh this desire of himself?”