154 LANCELOT AND GUENEVERE
all his kin, or till they have destroyed me. My heart was never so heavy as it is now, and far more grievous to me is the loss of my good Knights than of my Queen; for Queens I might have in plenty, but no man had ever such a company of Knights, and it hurts me sore that Sir Lancelot and I should be at war. It is the ill will borne by Sir Agrawaine and Sir Mordred to Sir Lancelot that has caused all this sorrow.' Then one came to Sir Gawaine and told him that Sir Lancelot had borne off the Queen, and that twenty-four Knights had been slain in the combat. ' I knew well he would deliver her,' said Sir Gawaine, ' and in that, he has but acted as a Knight should and as I would have done myself. But where are my brethren ? I marvel they have not been to seek me.'
' Truly,' said the man, ' Sir Gaheris and Sir Gareth are slain.'
' Heaven forbid any such thing,' returned Sir Gawaine. ' I would not for all the world that that had happened, especially to my brother, Sir Gareth.'
' He is slain,' said the man, ' and it is grievous news.'
' Who slew him ?' asked Sir Gawaine.
' Sir Lancelot slew them both,' answered the man.
' He cannot have slain Sir Gareth,' replied Sir Gawaine, ' for my brother Gareth loved him better than me and all his brethren, and King Arthur too. And had Sir Lancelot desired my brother to go with him, he would have turned his back on us all. Therefore I can never believe that Sir Lancelot slew my brother.'
' Sir, it is in everyone's mouth,' said the man. At this Sir Gawaine fell back in a swoon and lay long as if he were dead. Then he ran to the King, crying, ' 0 King Arthur, mine uncle, my good brother Sir Gareth is slain, and Sir Gaheris also,' and the King wept with him. At length Sir Gawaine said, ' Sir, I will go and see my brother Sir Gareth.'
' You cannot do that,' returned the King, ' for I have