THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAAL 71
THE ADVENTURE OF SIR GALAHAD
Now Sir Galahad had as yet no shield, and he rode four days without meeting any adventure, till at last he came to a White Abbey, where he dismounted and asked if he might sleep there that night. The brethren received him with great reverence, and led him to a chamber, where he took off his armour, and then saw that he was in the presence of two Knights. ' Sirs,' said Sir Galahad, ' what adventure brought you, hither ? ' ' Sir,' replied they, ' we heard that within this Abbey is a shield that no man may hang round his neck without being dead within three days, or some mischief befalling him. And if we fail in the adventure, you shall take it upon you.' ' Sirs,' replied Sir Galahad, ' I agree well thereto, for as yet I have no shield.'
So on the morn they arose and heard Mass, and then a monk led them behind an altar where hung a shield white as snow, with a red cross in the middle of it. ' Sirs,' said the monk, ' this shield can be hung round no Knight's neck, unless he be the worthiest Knight in the world, and therefore I counsel you to be well advised.'
'Well,' answered one of the Knights, whose name was King Bagdemagus, ' I know truly that I am not the best Knight in the world, but yet shall I try to bear it,' and he bare it out of the Abbey. Then he said to Sir Galahad, ' I pray you abide here still, till you know how I shall speed,' and he rode away, taking with him a squire to send tidings back to Sir Galahad.
After King Bagdemagus had ridden two miles he entered a fair valley, and there met him a goodly Knight