Ladies Fetched

Then was Gawain full glad, and merrily he laughed; ÒNow I thank you especially for this above all other things; now that my quest is achieved, I shall dwell at your will, and do whatever else ye decide.Ó

Then the sire seized him and set him beside him, and let the ladies be fetched to please them the better. Fair entertainment they had quietly among themselves; the lord in his jovial, friendly demeanor behaved as a man out of 40 his wits that knew not what he did. Then he spake to the knight, crying loud, ÒYe have agree to do the deed that I bid. Will ye hold this hest here at once?Ó

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ÒYea, sir, forsooth,Ó said the true hero, Òwhile I stay in your castle I shall be obedient to your hest.Ó

ÒSince ye have travelled from afar,Ó quoth the warrior, Òand then have sat late with me, ye are not well nourished, I know, either with sustenance or with sleep. Ye shall linger in your loft and lie at your ease tomorrow till mass time; and go to meat when ye will with my wife, who shall sit with you and comfort you with her company till I return home; and I shall rise early and go hunting.Ó Gawain grants all this, bowing courteously.

ÒYet further,Ó quoth the hero, Òlet us make an agreement. Whatsoever I win in the wood, it shall be yours; and whatsoever fortune ye achieve, exchange with me therefor. Sweet sir, swap we so, swear truly, whichever one of us gets the worse or the better.Ó

ÒBy God,Ó quoth Gawain the good, ÒI consent thereto; and whatever game you like, agreeable it seems to me.Ó

ÒOn this beverage just brought the bargain is made,Ó said the lord of that people; and both laughed.

Then they drank and played and amused themselves, these lords and ladies, so long as it pleased them; and then with polite demeanour and many fair gestures, they stood up and lingered a while, and talked quietly, kissed full comely, and took their leave. With many a gay servant and gleaming torches each hero was brought to his bed full softly at the last. Yet before they went to bed they oft rehearsed the covenants. The old lord of that people knew well how to keep up a jest.


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