LANCELOT AND GUENEVERE 149
'Well, Madam,' answered Lancelot, 'since it is so I shall sell my life as dear as I may, and a thousandfold I am more heavy for you than for myself.'
Therewith Sir Lancelot wrapped his mantle thickly round his arm, and stood beside the door, which the Knights without were trying to break in by aid of a stout wooden form.
' Fair Lords,' said Sir Lancelot, ' leave this noise, and I will open the door, and you may do with me what you will.'
' Open it then,' answered they, ' for well you know you cannot escape us, and we will save your life and bring you before King Arthur.' So Sir Lancelot opened the door and held it with his left hand, so that but one man could come in at once. Then came forward a strong Knight, Sir Colgrevance of Gore, who struck fiercely at Lancelot with his sword. But Sir Lancelot stepped on one side, that the blow fell harmless, and with his arm he gave Sir Colgrevance a buffet on the head so that he fell dead. And Sir Lancelot drew him into the chamber, and barred the door.
Hastily he unbuckled the dead Knight's armour, and the Queen and her ladies put it on him, Sir Agrawaine and Sir Mordred ever calling to him the while, ' Traitor Knight, come out of that chamber!' But Sir Lancelot cried to them all to go away and he would appear next morning before the King, and they should accuse him of what they would, and he would answer them, and prove his words in battle. ' Fie on you, traitor,' said Sir Agrawaine,' we have you in our power, to save or to slay, for King Arthur will listen to our words, and will believe what we tell him.'
' As you like,' answered Sir Lancelot, ' look to yourself,' and he flung open the chamber door, and strode in amongst them and killed Sir Agrawaine with his first blow, and in a few minutes the bodies of the other twelve Knights lay on the ground beside his, for no man ever