158 LANCELOT AND GUENEVERE
attended on Sir Lancelot. He and the Queen wore dresses of white and gold tissue, and their horses were clothed in housings of the same, set with precious stones and pearls ; and no man had ever gazed on such a noble pair, as they rode from Joyous Gard to Carlisle. When they reached the castle, Sir Lancelot sprang from his horse and helped the Queen from hers, and led her to where King Arthur sat, with Sir Gawaine and many Lords around him. He kneeled down, and the Queen kneeled with him, and many Knights wept as though it had been their own kin. But Arthur sat still and said nothing. At that Sir Lancelot rose, and the Queen likewise, and, looking straight at the King, he spoke:
' Most noble King, I have brought to you my lady the Queen, as right requires ; and time hath been, my lord Arthur, that you have been greatly pleased with me when I did battle for my lady your Queen. And full well you know that she has been put to great wrong ere this, and it seems to me I had more cause to deliver her from this fire, seeing she would have been burnt for my sake.'
' Well, well, Sir Lancelot,' said the King, ' I have given you no cause to do to me as you have done, for I have held you dearer than any of my Knights.' But Sir Gawaine would not suffer the King to listen to anything Sir Lancelot said, and told him roughly that while one of them lived peace could never be made, and desired on behalf of the King that in fifteen days he should be gone out of the country. And still King Arthur said nothing, but suffered Sir Gawaine to talk as he would; and Sir Lancelot took farewell of him and of the Queen, and rode, grieving sorely, out of the Court, and sailed to his lands beyond the sea.
Though the Queen was returned again, and Sir Lancelot was beyond the sea, the hate of Sir Gawaine towards him was in no way set at rest, but he raised a great host and persuaded the King to follow him. And after many