124 THE FAIR MAID OF ASTOLAT
heavy, and also the hearts of his kinsmen. But when the Queen heard that Sir Lancelot bore the red sleeve of the Fair Maid of Astolat, she was nearly mad with wrath, and summoned Sir Bors before her in haste.
' Ah, Sir Bors,' she cried when he was come, 'have the tidings reached you that Sir Lancelot has been a false Knight to me ?'
' Madam,' answered Sir Bors, ' I pray you say not so, for I cannot hear such language of him.'
' Why, is he not false and a traitor when, after swearing that for right or wrong he would be my Knight and mine only, he bore the red sleeve upon his helm at the great jousts at Camelot ?'
' Madam,' said Sir Bors, ' I grieve bitterly as to that sleeve-bearing, but I think he did it that none of his kin should know him. For no man before that had seen him bear the token of any lady, be she what she may.'
' Fie on him !' said the Queen, 'I myself heard Sir Gawaine tell my lord Arthur of the great love that is between the Fair Maiden of Astolat and him.'
' Madam,' answered Sir Bors, ' I cannot hinder Sir Gawaine from saying what he pleases, but as for Sir Lancelot, I am sure that he loves no one lady or maiden better than another. And therefore I will hasten to seek him wherever he be.'
Meanwhile fair Elaine came to Winchester to find Sir Lancelot, who lay in peril of his life in the hermit's dwelling. And when she was riding hither and thither, not knowing where she should turn, she fell on her brother Sir Lavaine, who was exercising his horse. ' How doth my lord Sir Lancelot ? ' asked she.
' Who told you, sister, that my lord's name was Sir Lancelot ? ' answered Sir Lavaine.
' Sir Gawaine, who came to my father's house to rest after the tourney, knew him by his shield,' said she, and they rode on till they reached the hermitage, and Sir Lavaine brought her to Sir Lancelot. And when she saw