(1) I will tell you the story of another Lay. It relates the adventures of a rich and mighty baron,and the Breton calls it, the Lay of Sir Launfal.(2) King Arthur—that fearless knight and courteous lord—removed to Wales, and lodged at Caerleon-on-Usk, since the Picts and Scots did much mischief in the land. For it was the wont of the wild people of the north to enter in the realm of Logres, and burn and damage at their will. At the time of Pentecost.[*] the King cried a great feast. Thereat he gave many rich gifts to his counts and barons, and to the Knights of the Round Table. Never were such worship and bounty shown before at any feast, for Arthur bestowed[^] honours and lands on all his servants—save only on one. This lord, who was forgotten and misliked of the King, was named Launfal. He was beloved by many of the Court, because of his beauty and prowess[*], for he was a worthy knight, open of heart and heavy of hand. These lords, to whom their comrade was dear, felt little joy to see so stout a knight misprized[^]. Sir Launfal was son to a King of high descent, though his heritage was in a distant land. He was of the King's household, but since Arthur gave him naught[*], and he was of too proud a mind to pray for his due, he had spent all that he had. Right heavy was Sir Launfal, when he considered these things, for he knew himself taken in the toils[^]. Gentles, marvel not overmuch hereat[*]. Ever must the pilgrim go heavily in a strange land, where there is none to counsel and direct him in the path.(3) Now, on a day, Sir Launfal got him on his horse, that he might take his pleasure for a little.He came forth from the city, alone, attended by neither servant nor squire. He went his way through a green mead, till he stood by a river of clear running water. Sir Launfal would have crossed this stream, without thought of pass or ford[*], but he might not do so, for reason thathis horse was all fearful and trembling. Seeing that he was hindered in this fashion, Launfal unbitted[^] his steed, and let him pasture in that fair meadow, where they had come. Then he folded his cloak to serve him as a pillow, and lay upon the ground. Launfal lay in great misease[*], because of his heavy thoughts, and the discomfort of his bed. He turned from side to side, and might not sleep. Now as the knight looked towards the river he saw two damsels[*] coming towards him; fairer maidens Launfal had never seen. These two maidens were richly dressed in kirtles[*] closely laced and shapen to their persons and wore mantles[^] of a goodly purple hue. Sweet and dainty were the damsels, alike in raiment[*] andin face. The elder of these ladies carried in her hands a basin of pure gold, cunningly wroughtby some crafty smith—very fair and precious was the cup; and the younger bore a towel of soft white linen. These maidens turned neither to the right hand nor to the left, but went directly to the place where Launfal lay. When Launfal saw that their business was with him, he stood upon his feet, like a discreet[*] and courteous gentleman. After they had greeted theknight, one of the maidens delivered the message with which she was charged.