Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471). The Holy Grail. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Seventeenth Book
How Sir Launcelot Had Lain Four and Twenty Days and As Many Nights As a Dead Man, and Other Divers Matters
IN such manner they kept Launcelot four and twenty days and all so many nights, that ever he lay still as a dead man; and at the twenty-fifth day befell him after midday that he opened his eyes. And when he saw folk he made great sorrow, and said: Why have ye awaked me, for I was more at ease than I am now. O Jesu Christ, who might be so blessed that might see openly thy great marvels of secretness there where no sinner may be! What have ye seen? said they about him. I have seen, said he, so great marvels that no tongue may tell, and more than any heart can think, and had not my son been here afore me I had seen much more. Then they told him how he had lain there four and twenty days and nights. Then him thought it was punishment for the four and twenty years that he had been a sinner, wherefore Our Lord put him in penance four and twenty days and nights. Then looked Sir Launcelot afore him, and saw the hair which he had borne nigh a year, for that he forethought him right much that he had broken his promise unto the hermit, which he had avowed to do. Then they asked how it stood with him. For sooth, said he, I am whole of body, thanked be Our Lord; therefore, sirs, for Gods love tell me where I am. Then said they all that he was in the castle of Carbonek. Therewith came a gentlewoman and brought him a shirt of small linen cloth, but he changed not there, but took the hair to him again. Sir, said they, the quest of the Sangreal is achieved now right in you, that never shall ye see of the Sangreal no more than ye have seen. Now I thank God, said Launcelot, of His great mercy of that I have seen, for it sufficeth me; for as I suppose no man in this world hath lived better than I have done to achieve that I have done. And therewith he took the hair and clothed him in it, and above that he put a linen shirt, and after a robe of scarlet, fresh and new. And when he was so arrayed they marvelled all, for they knew him that he was Launcelot, the good knight, And then they said all: O my lord Sir Launcelot, be that ye? And he said: Truly I am he. Then came word to King Pelles that the knight that had lain so long dead was Sir Launcelot. Then was the king right glad, and went to see him. And when Launcelot saw him come he dressed him against him, and there made the king great joy of him. And there the king told him tidings that his fair daughter was dead. Then Launcelot was right heavy of it, and said: Sir, me forthinketh the death of your daughter, for she was a full fair lady, fresh and young. And well I wot she bare the best knight that is now on the earth, or that ever was sith God was born. So the king held him there four days, and on the morrow he took his leave at King Pelles and at all the fellowship, and thanked them of their great labour. Right so as they sat at their dinner in the chief hall, then was it so that the Sangreal had fulfilled the table with all manner of meats that any heart might think. So as they sat they saw all the doors and the windows of the place were shut without mans hand, whereof they were all abashed, and none wist what to do. And then it happened suddenly that a knight came to the chief door and knocked, and cried: Unto the door. But they would not. And ever he cried: Undo; but they would not. And at last it annoyed him so much that the king himself arose and came to a window where the knight called. Then he said: Sir knight, ye shall not enter at this time while the Sangreal is here, and therefore go into another; for certes ye be none of the knights of the quest, but one of them which hath served the fiend, and hast left the service of Our Lord: and he was passing wroth at the kings words. Sir knight, said the king, sith ye would so fain enter, say me of what country ye be. Sir, said he, I am of the realm of Logris, and my name is Ector de Maris, and brother unto my lord, Sir Launcelot. In the name of God, said the king, me forthinketh of what I have said, for your brother is here within. And when Ector de Maris understood that his brother was there, for he was the man in the world that he most dread and loved, and then he said: Ah God, now doubleth my sorrow and shame. Full truly said the good man of the hill unto Gawaine and to me of our dreams. Then went he out of the court as fast as his horse might, and so throughout the castle.