Book IX - Chapter I - How a young man came into the court of King Arthur, and how Sir Kay called him in scorn La Cote Male Taile.
AT the court of King Arthur there came a young man and bigly made, and he was richly beseen: and he desired to be made knight of the king, but his over-garment sat over-thwartly, howbeit it was rich cloth of gold. What is your name? said King Arthur. Sir, said he, my name is Breunor le Noire, and within short space ye shall know that I am of good kin. It may well be, said Sir Kay, the Seneschal, but in mockage ye shall be called La Cote Male Taile, that is as much to say, the evil-shapen coat It is a great thing that thou askest, said the king; and for what cause wearest thou that rich coat? tell me, for I can well think for some cause it is. Sir, he answered, I had a father, a noble knight, and as he rode a-hunting, upon a day it happed him to lay him down to sleep; and there came a knight that had been long his enemy, and when he saw he was fast asleep he all to-hew him; and this same coat had my father on the same time; and that maketh this coat to sit so evil upon me, for the strokes be on it as I found it, and never shall be amended for me. Thus to have my father's death in remembrance I wear this coat till I be revenged; and because ye are called the most noblest king of the world I come to you that ye should make me knight. Sir, said Sir Lamorak and Sir Gaheris, it were well done to make him knight; for him beseemeth well of person and of countenance, that he shall prove a good man, and a good knight, and a mighty; for, Sir, an ye be remembered, even such one was Sir Launcelot du Lake when he came first into this court, and full few of us knew from whence he came; and now is he proved the man of most worship in the world; and all your court and all your Round Table is by Sir Launcelot worshipped and amended more than by any knight now living. That is truth, said the king, and to-morrow at your request I shall make him knight.
So on the morrow there was an hart found, and thither rode King Arthur with a company of his knights to slay the hart. And this young man that Sir Kay named La Cote Male Taile was there left behind with Queen Guenever; and by sudden adventure there was an horrible lion kept in a strong tower of stone, and it happened that he at that time brake loose, and came hurling afore the queen and her knights. And when the queen saw the lion she cried and fled, and prayed her knights to rescue her. And there was none of them all but twelve that abode, and all the other fled. Then said La Cote Male Taile: Now I see well that all coward knights be not dead; and therewithal he drew his sword and dressed him afore the lion. And that lion gaped wide and came upon him ramping to have slain him. And he then smote him in the midst of the head such a mighty stroke that it clave his head in sunder, and dashed to the earth. Then was it told the queen how the young man that Sir Kay named by scorn La Cote Male Taile had slain the lion. With that the king came home. And when the queen told him of that adventure, he was well pleased, and said: Upon pain of mine head he shall prove a noble man and a faithful knight, and true of his promise: then the king forthwithal made him knight. Now Sir, said this young knight, I require you and all the knights of your court, that ye call me by none other name but La Cote Male Taile: in so much as Sir Kay hath so named me so will I be called. I assent me well thereto, said the king.