Book VII - Chapter XXII - How at night came an armed knight, and fought with Sir Gareth, and he, sore hurt in the thigh, smote off the knight's head.
AND then she let fetch to-fore him Linet, the damosel that had ridden with him many wildsome ways. Then was Sir Gareth more gladder than he was to-fore. And then they troth-plight each other to love, and never to fail whiles their life lasteth. And so they burnt both in love, that they were accorded to abate their lusts secretly. And there Dame Lionesse counselled Sir Gareth to sleep in none other place but in the hall. And there she promised him to come to his bed a little afore midnight.
This counsel was not so privily kept but it was understood; for they were but young both, and tender of age, and had not used none such crafts to-fore. Wherefore the damosel Linet was a little displeased, and she thought her sister Dame Lionesse was a little over-hasty, that she might not abide the time of her marriage; and for saving their worship, she thought to abate their hot lusts. And so she let ordain by her subtle crafts that they had not their intents neither with other, as in their delights, until they were married. And so it passed on. At-after supper was made clean avoidance, that every lord and lady should go unto his rest. But Sir Gareth said plainly he would go no farther than the hall, for in such places, he said, was convenient for an errant-knight to take his rest in; and so there were ordained great couches, and thereon feather beds, and there laid him down to sleep; and within a while came Dame Lionesse, wrapped in a mantle furred with ermine, and laid her down beside Sir Gareth. And therewithal he began to kiss her. And then he looked afore him, and there he apperceived and saw come an armed knight, with many lights about him; and this knight had a long gisarm in his hand, and made grim countenance to smite him. When Sir Gareth saw him come in that wise, he leapt out of his bed, and gat in his hand his sword, and leapt straight toward that knight. And when the knight saw Sir Gareth come so fiercely upon him, he smote him with a foin through the thick of the thigh that the wound was a shaftmon broad and had cut a-two many veins and sinews. And therewithal Sir Gareth smote him upon the helm such a buffet that he fell grovelling; and then he leapt over him and unlaced his helm, and smote off his head from the body. And then he bled so fast that he might not stand, but so he laid him down upon his bed, and there he swooned and lay as he had been dead.
Then Dame Lionesse cried aloud, that her brother Sir Gringamore heard, and came down. And when he saw Sir Gareth so shamefully wounded he was sore displeased, and said: I am shamed that this noble knight is thus honoured. Sir, said Sir Gringamore, how may this be, that ye be here, and this noble knight wounded? Brother, she said, I can not tell you, for it was not done by me, nor by mine assent. For he is my lord and I am his, and he must be mine husband; therefore, my brother, I will that ye wit I shame me not to be with him, nor to do him all the pleasure that I can. Sister, said Sir Gringamore, and I will that ye wit it, and Sir Gareth both, that it was never done by me, nor by my assent that this unhappy deed was done. And there they staunched his bleeding as well as they might, and great sorrow made Sir Gringamore and Dame Lionesse.
And forthwithal came Dame Linet, and took up the head in the sight of them all, and anointed it with an ointment thereas it was smitten off; and in the same wise she did to the other part thereas the head stuck, and then she set it together, and it stuck as fast as ever it did. And the knight arose lightly up, and the damosel Linet put him in her chamber. All this saw Sir Gringamore and Dame Lionesse, and so did Sir Gareth; and well he espied that it was the damosel Linet, that rode with him through the perilous passages. Ah well, damosel, said Sir Gareth, I weened ye would not have done as ye have done. My lord Gareth, said Linet, all that I have done I will avow, and all that I have done shall be for your honour and worship, and to us all. And so within a while Sir Gareth was nigh whole, and waxed light and jocund, and sang, danced, and gamed; and he and Dame Lionesse were so hot in burning love that they made their covenant at the tenth night after, that she should come to his bed. And because he was wounded afore, he laid his armour and his sword nigh his bed's side.