Then Sir Launcelot and Sir Gawain departed a great way asunder, and then they came together with all their horses’ might, and each smote the other in the middle of their shields, but neither of them was unhorsed, but their horses fell to the earth. And then they leapt from their horses, and drew their swords, and gave many sad strokes, so that the blood burst out in many places. Now Sir Gawain had this gift from a holy man, that every day in the year, from morning to noon, his strength was increased threefold, and then it fell again to its natural measure. Sir Launcelot was aware of this, and therefore, during the three hours that Sir Gawain’s strength was at the height, Sir Launcelot covered himself with his shield, and kept his might in reserve. And during that time Sir Gawain gave him many sad brunts, that all the knights that looked on marvelled how Sir Launcelot might endure them. Then, when it was past noon, Sir Gawain had only his own might; and when Sir Launcelot felt him so brought down he stretched himself up, and doubled his strokes, and gave Sir Gawain such a buffet that he fell down on his side; and Sir Launcelot drew back and would strike no more. “Why withdrawest thou, false traitor?” then said Sir Gawain; “now turn again and slay me, for if thou leave me thus when I am whole again, I shall do battle with thee again.” “I shall endure you, sir, by God’s grace,” said Sir Launcelot, “but know thou well Sir Gawain, I will never smite a felled knight.” And so Sir Launcelot went into the city, and Sir Gawain was borne into King Arthur’s pavilion, and his wounds were looked to.
Thus the siege endured, and Sir Gawain lay helpless near a month; and when he was near recovered came tidings unto King Arthur that made him return with all his host to England.
Sir Modred was left ruler of all England, and he caused letters to be written, as if from beyond sea, that King Arthur was slain in battle. So he called a Parliament, and made himself be crowned king; and he took the queen Guenever, and said plainly that he would wed her, but she escaped from him and took refuge in the Tower of London. And Sir Modred went and laid siege about the Tower of London, and made great assaults thereat, but all might not avail him. Then came word to Sir Modred that King Arthur had raised the siege of Sir Launcelot, and was coming home. Then Sir Modred summoned all the barony of the land; and much people drew unto Sir Modred, and said they would abide with him for better and for worse; and he drew a great host to Dover, for there he heard say that King Arthur would arrive.
“I hear the steps of Modred in the west,
And with him many of thy people, and knights
Once thine, whom thou hast loved, but grosser grown
Than heathen, spitting at their vows and thee”
—The Passing of Arthur.