116 THE FAIR MAID OF ASTOLAT
who were long on the road, and when they had arrived they all set forth, and were followed by Sir Lancelot and Sir Lavaine, both with white shields, and Sir Lancelot bore besides the red sleeve that was a token. Now Camelot was filled with a great number of Kings and Lords and Knights, but Sir Lavaine found means to lodge both himself and Sir Lancelot secretly with a rich burgess, and no man knew who they were or whence they came. And there they stayed till the day of the tourney. At earliest dawn the trumpets blew, and King Arthur took his seat upon a high scaffold, so that he might see who had done best; but he would not suffer Sir Gawaine to go from his side, for Sir Gawaine never won the prize when Sir Lancelot was in the field, and as King Arthur knew, Sir Lancelot oftentimes disguised himself.
Then the Knights formed into two parties and Sir Lancelot made him ready, and fastened the red sleeve upon his helmet, and he and Sir Lavaine rode into a little wood that lay behind the Knights who should fight against those of the Bound Table. ' Sir,' said Sir Lancelot, 'yonder is a company of good Knights and they hold together as boars that are vexed with dogs.'
' That is truth,' said Sir Lavaine.
' Now,' said Sir Lancelot, ' if you will help me a little, you shall see King Arthur's side, which is winning, driven back as fast as they came.'
' Spare not, Sir,' answered Sir Lavaine, 'for I shall do what I may.' So they rode into the thickest of the press, and smote so hard both with spear and sword that the Knights of the Bound Table fell back. ' 0 mercy !' cried Sir Gawaine, ' what Knight is that yonder who does such marvellous deeds ?'
' I know well who it is,' said King Arthur, ' but I will not tell you yet.'
'Sir,' answered Sir Gawaine, 'I should say it was Sir Lancelot by the blows he deals and the manner that he rides, but it cannot be he, for this man has a red sleeve