86 THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAAL
were overcome for want of him. ' Never ere now was I at tournament or jousts but I had the best,' moaned Sir Lancelot to himself, as soon as the Knights had left him and he was alone. 'But now am I shamed, and I am persuaded that I am more sinful than ever I was.' Sorrowfully he rode on till he passed a chapel, where stood a nun, who called to him and asked him his name and what he was seeking.
So he told her who he was, and what had befallen him at the tournament, and the vision that had come to him in his sleep. ' Ah, Lancelot,' said she, ' as long as you were a Knight of earthly knighthood you were the most wonderful man in the world and the most adventurous. But now, since you are set among Knights of heavenly adventures, if you were worsted at that tournament it is no marvel. For the tournament was meant for a sign, and the earthly Knights were they who were clothed in black in token of the sins of which they were not yet purged. And the white Knights were they who had chosen the way of holiness, and in them the quest has already begun. Thus you beheld both the sinners and the good men, and when you saw the sinners overcome you went to their help, as they were your fellows in boasting and pride of the world, and all that must be left in that quest. And that caused your misadventure. Now that I have warned you of your vain-glory and your pride, beware of everlasting pain, for of all earthly Knights I have pity of you, for I know well that among earthly sinful Knights you are without peer.'