How Sir Launcelot saved the life
of Sir Blyant. How he escaped from the castle
of Sir Blyant, and how he slew the great wild boar
of Lystenesse and saved the life of King Arthur, his
Now it happened upon a day that Sir
Blyant rode in a little wood nigh to his castle, and
whilst he was thus alone he beheld two knights riding
side by side all in the clear bright springtime.
As these drew nigh to him Sir Blyant was aware from
the devices upon their shields that one of them was
Sir Breuce sans Pitié and that the other
was Sir Bertolet his brother, which same, you are
to know, were Sir Blyant’s bitter enemies.
For in the tournament at Astolat Sir Blyant had very
grievously hurt a young knight who was their brother,
and afterward that knight (whose name was Sir Gelotius)
had died of those hurts.
Yet though Sir Blyant wist that this
meeting boded ill for him yet would he not withdraw
therefrom but went forward. So it came about that
when he was pretty close to those two knights, the
foremost of them (who was Sir Breuce sans Pitié)
rode forth and bespoke him, saying, “Sir
Knight, who are you and whither go you?” Sir
Blyant said: “Messires, I am a knight of
these marches, riding errant in search of adventure.”
Sir Breuce said, “Art thou not Sir Blyant of
the White Castle?” Sir Blyant said, “Thou
sayest it and I am he.”
Then Sir Breuce sans Pitié
spoke very savagely, saying: “Sir Knight,
this is well that we meet you here who are the slayer
of our brother Sir Gelotius at the tournament of Astolat.”
To this Sir Blyant said: “Messires, what
do you have against me for that? Certes, it is
that I overthrew Sir Gelotius and that he died thereafter,
yet it was by chance of battle that this happened
and with no evil intent of mine. Moreover, your
brother, Sir Gelotius, took his chances of battle as
did all those who entered that tournament.”
“Say no more!” said Sir
Breuce. “Say no more! but prepare you straight
for battle with us who have every day sought you from
that time till now, and so have found you here to
“Messires,” cried Sir
Blyant, “would you fall upon me thus, two against
one?” They say, “Aye,” and thereupon
they drew sword and prepared themselves for battle.
Then Sir Blyant perceiving how it
was, and that there was no other way for him to do
than to fight this battle against odds, straightway
drew his sword and put himself into posture of defence.
Then in a moment they three came to battle together
in the woods, two of them against the one.
Yet, for a while, although he stood
one to two, Sir Blyant defended himself with great
courage and address, striking now upon this side and
now upon that, anon wheeling his horse away from a
stroke, anon lashing a stroke at his enemies.
And so great was the defence he made that it was a
long time ere that those two knights had their will
But one knight could not hope to fight
thus a continued battle against two who were his equals,
wherefore it befell that in a little while Sir Blyant
was wounded here and there, and in another place; and
then, in a little while longer it came about that,
what with weariness and what from the loss of blood,
he was aware that he must die in that battle alone
in the woodlands unless he saved himself from his enemies.
Therewith a great despair fell upon
him and with that he put his horse straight at Sir
Breuce as though to strike him a buffet. Then
as Sir Breuce drew aside to avoid that stroke, Sir
Blyant drave his horse very fiercely against
Sir Breuce’s horse, so that Sir Breuce’s
horse wellnigh fell to the ground with his rider upon
his back. Therewith Sir Blyant thrust past his
enemy and quickly fled away toward his castle with
all the speed that he could drive his horse to make.
Now at first those two knights were
astonished at the sudden escape of their enemy.
But immediately they awoke to his going and so set
spurs to horse upon their part and chased after Sir
Blyant; and if he sped fast, they sped as fast after
him. And ever and anon they lashed furiously at
him, yet because of his speed they could do him no
So Sir Blyant raced for his castle
and he rushed forward beneath the walls of the castle
with those two knights thundering after him amain.
And because they were so close upon him, Sir Blyant
could not draw rein to turn his steed into the drawbridge
of the castle, but must needs rush past the drawbridge,
calling for aid to those who were within the walls.
Now at that time Sir Launcelot lay
(chained as was aforetold) in a certain window of
the castle where the sun shone down strong and warm
upon him, and Sir Launcelot slumbered there in the
sunlight. And as Sir Launcelot so slumbered he
was aroused by the sound of galloping horses and a
loud noise of shouting and the din of lashing of blows.
So, looking forth from that window, he beheld the
three knights as they came thundering past the walls
of the castle. And Sir Launcelot beheld that
the one knight who was pursued by the two knights was
his master, Sir Blyant; and he beheld that Sir Blyant
was much put to it to save his life; for he was all
covered over with blood and, whilst anon he would
wheel his horse and strike right and left, yet anon
he would wheel again and flee for his life; and Sir
Launcelot beheld that Sir Blyant reeled in his saddle
under every blow that his enemies lashed at him.
Meanwhile, in the castle was a great shouting and calling
to arms, wherefore it came to Sir Launcelot to know
that Sir Blyant was being slain.
Then a great rage of battle awoke
in Sir Launcelot’s heart against those who pressed
his beloved master, Sir Blyant, in that wise, wherefore
he would have hastened to the aid of Sir Blyant, but
could not because of the chains that bound him.
Then, in his madness, and being driven furious at
being thus bound, Sir Launcelot catched those strong
steel chains in his hands and wrestled with them.
And the chains bit deep into his flesh in his wrestlings
so that he was sore wounded by the iron. But
in spite of that Sir Launcelot put forth his entire
strength, and even though the blood flowed from his
arms and hands yet he snapped the chains that bound
his arms. After that he catched up a great stone
in his hands and he beat upon the chains that bound
his legs and brake those also, and so he was free
Then Sir Launcelot leaped upon the
window-ledge, and he leaped out of the window of the
castle and into the moat below and he swam the moat
and so came out upon the other side thereof.
Right there came Sir Blyant striving
to defend himself against those who followed him,
and at that time he was very nigh falling from his
horse at every blow he received. This Sir Launcelot
beheld and when he saw how those two knights ever
smote Sir Blyant and how that Sir Blyant reeled in
his saddle beneath those blows, he roared aloud in
pity and in rage.
Therewith, thus roaring, he straightway
rushed upon Sir Bertolet, who was nighest to him,
and he leaped up and catched that knight about the
body and dragged him down upon the pommel of his saddle
with great force of strength, and Sir Launcelot catched
the sword of Sir Bertolet and he wrestled with Sir
Bertolet and so plucked the sword out of Sir Bertolet’s
Then Sir Bertolet cried out to Sir
Breuce: “Help! Help! my brother!
For this madman slayeth me.”
Therewith Sir Breuce turned from Sir
Blyant for to succor his brother, and upon that Sir
Launcelot quitted Sir Bertolet and rushed at Sir Breuce.
And Sir Launcelot gave Sir Breuce such a buffet upon
the helm with the sword of Sir Bertolet that he smote
Sir Breuce with that one blow clean over the crupper
of his horse.
Then Sir Bertolet took his spear in
hand and therewith rushed his horse upon Sir Launcelot
with intent to pierce him through the body. But
from that assault Sir Launcelot leaped nimbly aside.
Thereupon he rushed in and catched the spear of Sir
Bertolet in his hand; and he ran up the length of
the spear, and reached forward, and smote Sir Bertolet
such a blow that he cut through the epaulier of the
shoulder and deep into the shoulder to the very bone
thereof, so that the arm of Sir Bertolet was half
cut away from the body at that blow. Then Sir
Launcelot would have struck again only that Sir Bertolet
let go his spear from his hand, shrieking aloud, and
wheeled his horse to escape.
Now by that time Sir Breuce sans
Pitié had got him to horse again wherefore, beholding
that terrible blow and beholding how his brother Sir
Bertolet fled away from that madman, he also drove
spurs to flank and fled away with might and main.
So it was that Sir Launcelot, unarmed,
save for the sword in his naked hand, defeated two
strong and doughty knights and so saved his master’s
But by now the castle folk had come
running to where were Sir Blyant and him whom they
called the mad fool of the castle, and they beheld
them both panting and bleeding. And Sir Blyant
looked upon Sir Launcelot and beheld how his arms
and hands were torn and bleeding from breaking those
chains, and he said, “Poor fool! and hast thou
suffered all that for my sake?” And at that
Sir Launcelot laughed and nodded. Then Sir Blyant
said to the folk of the castle: “Never let
those chains be put upon his body again, for he is
gentle and kind, and meaneth harm to no one.”
So they did not chain Sir Launcelot
again, but suffered him to go free, and after that
he wandered whithersoever he willed to go, and no one
stayed him in his going or his coming. And ever
he was kind and gentle to all so that no one in all
that place had any fear of him but all were pleased
and merry with him.
Yet ever there lay within the heart
of Sir Launcelot some remembrance that told him that
he was too worthy to content himself with being a mad
fool in a lord’s castle, wherefore it was always
in his will to escape from the castle of Sir Blyant
if he was able to do so.
So now, being unchained, it happened
one night when none observed him, that he dropped
privily from the wall of the castle into the moat
thereof, and swam the moat to the other side.
And after he had thus escaped into the night he ran
on without stopping until he had reached the forest,
and there he roamed once more altogether wild as he
had been aforetime. For the remnant of his knighthood
said to him that it would be better for him to die
alone there in the woodlands than to dwell in shame
in a lord’s castle.
Now at that time there was a great
wild boar in those parts that was the terror of all
men, and this boar was called the boar of Lystenesse-taking
its name from that part of the forest which was called
the Forest of Lystenesse.
So word of this great wild boar, and
news of its ravages came to the ears of King Arthur,
whereupon the King ordained that a day should be set
apart for a hunt in which the beast should be slain
and the countryside set free from the ravages thereof.
Thus it befell that upon a time Sir
Launcelot, where he lived in his madness alone in
the forest, was aware of the baying of hounds and the
shouting of voices sounding ever nearer and nearer
to where he was. Anon the baying of the hounds
approached him very near indeed, and presently there
came a great cracking and rending of the bushes and
the small trees. Thereupon as he gazed, there
burst out of the forest that great savage wild boar
of Lystenesse. And lo! the jowl of that boar was
all white with the foam that was churned by his tusks,
and the huge tusks of the boar gleamed white in the
midst of the foam. And the bristles of that great
beast were like sharp wires of steel, and they too
were all flecked with the foam that had fallen from
the jowl of the beast. And the eyes of the wild
boar gleamed like to two coals of fire, and it roared
like to a devil as it fled, rending, through the forest.
And ever the hounds pursued the boar, hanging upon
its flanks but not daring to grapple with it in its
flight, because of the terror that surrounded it.
Then when Sir Launcelot beheld that
sight the love of the chase flamed up within his heart
and thereupon he shouted aloud and fell to running
beside the dogs after the boar, tearing his way through
the briars and thorns and thickets, even as the boar
and the hounds burst through them. And so Sir
Launcelot and the dogs chased the boar for a great
while, until at last the beast came to bay, with his
back set against a great crag of stone, and there
the dogs surrounded it, yelling and baying. And
ever Sir Launcelot shouted them on to the assault,
yet not one of the hounds dared to grapple with the
wild beast because of the terror of its appearance.
So as Sir Launcelot and the dogs joined
in assault about the boar, there came the sound of
a horseman riding with speed and winding his horn.
Then in a moment there came King Arthur himself, bursting
out of the forest alone; for he had outridden all
his court and was the first of all upon the field.
Then King Arthur, beholding the boar
where he stood at bay, set his lance in rest with
intent to charge the beast and to pierce him through
the body. But the boar, all fierce and mad with
the chase it had suffered, did not wait that charge
of the King but himself charged the horseman.
And at that charge King Arthur’s horse was affrighted,
with the terror of the beast and flung suddenly aside
so that the lance of King Arthur failed of its aim.
Therewith the boar ran up under the
point of the lance and he catched the horse of the
King with his tusks and ripped the horse so that both
horse and rider fell to the ground; King Arthur beneath
the wounded animal, so that he could not free his
leg to rise from his fall.
Then it would have been ill indeed
with King Arthur but for that forest madman.
For beholding the fall of the King, Sir Launcelot ran
straightway to him. And he seized the sword of
the King and plucked it forth from its sheath.
Therewith he leaped at the boar and lashed at it a
mighty buffet, and as he did so his foot slipped in
the blood of the horse which there lay upon the ground,
and he fell flat with the force of that blow which
he purposed should destroy the boar.
Thereupon the boar, finding himself
thus attacked by another, turned upon that other and
ere Sir Launcelot could arise from his fall it was
upon him. And the boar ripped Sir Launcelot with
its tusks through the flesh of the thigh, even to
the hip bone.
Now, when Sir Launcelot felt the pang
of that dreadful wound which the boar gave him he
yelled aloud. At the same time his soul was filled
with a great passion of rage and madness so that,
ere the boar could charge him again, he leaped to
his feet and rushed upon the boar. And Sir Launcelot
smote the boar such a terrible dreadful stroke that
he cut through the bristles of the neck and through
the spine of the neck and half-way through the neck
itself, so that the head of the boar was wellnigh
cut away from its body.
Therewith the boar fell down dead
and Sir Launcelot staggered and stood leaning upon
the sword, groaning amain with the bitter pangs of
pain that racked him.
Right so, as Sir Launcelot stood thus,
the other huntsmen of the King’s party came
bursting out of the forest with the sound of horses
and of shouting voices.
Then when Sir Launcelot beheld them
he thought, because of his madness and the raging
of his torments, that these were they who had hurt
him. So therewith he roared like to a wild beast
and he ran at those newcomers, whirling the sword
of King Arthur like lightning around his head.
Then several of those set their lances
in rest with intent to run the madman through the
body ere he could do a harm to any one, but King Arthur
cried out: “Beware what you do! Do
him no harm, for he hath saved my life.”
So those who would else have charged Sir Launcelot
held their hands and drew away in retreat before him.
But already Sir Launcelot’s
strength was failing him, for his brains were even
then swimming with faintness. So in a little he
sank down in a swoon and lay all of a heap upon the
Then the King, and the others who
were there came to where he lay bleeding and swooning,
and all looked down upon him, and because he was all
naked and unkempt they knew him not. But nevertheless,
they beheld that he was of great girth and that he
was covered over with a great many scars of battle,
and they all felt deep pity for him as he lay there.
Then King Arthur said: “This is the framework
of a mighty champion. Pity indeed that he should
have come to this as we behold him.” And
he said: “Lift him up tenderly and bear
him hence to where he may have comfort and nourishment.”
So they lifted Sir Launcelot with
great gentleness, and they bare him away from that
place, and they brought him to the hut of that hermit
where he had been healed aforetime when he had received
that grievous wound in the tournament at Astolat.
So the hermit received Sir Launcelot
and wist not who he was. For though he beheld
that here was a man of mighty girth and stature, yet
was the great champion so changed by his madness and
by his continued fasting in the forest that even his
nearest friends might not know him. Nevertheless,
though the hermit knew him not, yet he had them lay
that forest madman upon a cot in his cell, and he
searched that wound in the madman’s thigh and
bathed it with tepid water, and anointed it with balm
and bound it up with bands of smooth white linen, so
that that wound was in all ways well searched and
And the hermit looked upon Sir Launcelot
and beheld that he was all gaunt and hollow with hunger
and he said: “If this poor mad creature
is not fed, he will die in a little while.”
So when Sir Launcelot had revived him from that swoon,
the good old man fetched milk and white bread and
offered them to the sick man. But he would not
touch that food. For, though he was dying of
hunger, yet he loathed that food because of his madness.
So Sir Launcelot lay there wounded
and famishing and the hermit wist not what to do to
make him eat. And he lay in that wise for three
days and ever the hermit watched him and tried to
make him partake of food, and ever the madman would
fling away from the food that was offered him.
Now upon the fourth day, the hermit
being at his orisons in the chapel, Sir Launcelot
made assay to rise, and in spite of his weakness, he
did arise. And having thus arisen, he found strength
in some wise for to crawl out of the hut of the hermit,
and the hermit at his prayers wist not that the wounded
man was gone. And after that Sir Launcelot crept
away into the forest and so hid himself, very cunningly,
like to a wild creature, so that, though the hermit
searched for him ever so closely, yet he was not able
to find him. And the hermit said: “Alas
for this! For certes this poor madman will die
of his wound and of starvation all alone here in the
forest, and no one can bring him succor.”
So it was that Sir Launcelot escaped
from the cell of the hermit a second time. And
now it remaineth to be told how he returned to Corbin
and to the Lady Elaine the Fair, and how the Lady Elaine
cherished him and brought him back to health and strength
and comeliness again. So I pray you to read that
which followeth if you would fain learn concerning