114 THE FAIR MAID OF ASTOLAT
King, ' for you will not have seen so noble a company gathered together this seven years past, save at the Whitsuntide when Galahad departed from the Court.'
' Truly,' answered the Queen, ' the sight will be grand. Nevertheless you must hold me excused, for I cannot be there.'
Sir Lancelot likewise declared that his wounds were not healed and that he could not bear himself in a tourney as he was wont to do. At this the King was wroth, that he might not have either his Queen or his best Knight with him, and he departed towards Winchester and by the way lodged in a town now called Guildford, but then Astolat. And when the King had set forth, the Queen sent for Sir Lancelot, and told him he was to blame for having excused himself from going with the King, who set such store by his company ; and Sir Lancelot said he would be ruled by her, and would ride forth next morning on his way to Winchester; ' but I should have you know,' said he, ' that at the tourney I shall be against the King and his Knights.'
' You must do as you please,' replied the Queen, ' but if you will be ruled by my counsel, you will fight on his side.'
' Madam,' said Sir Lancelot, ' I pray you not to be displeased with me. I will take the adventure as it comes,' and early next morning he rode away till at eventide he reached Astolat. He went through the town till he stopped before the house of an old Baron, Sir Bernard of Astolat, and as he dismounted from his horse, the King spied him from the gardens of the castle. ' It is well,' he said smiling to the Knights that were beside him, ' I see one man who will play his part in the jousts, and I will undertake that he will do marvels.'
' Who is that ?' asked they all. ' You must wait to know that,' replied the King, and went into the castle. Meantime Sir Lancelot had entered his lodging, and the old Baron bade him welcome, but he knew not