Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471). The Holy Grail. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Sixteenth Book
How Sir Bors Met with His Brother Sir Lionel, and How Sir Lionel Would Have Slain Sir Bors
THEN went Sir Bors from thence and commended the abbot unto God. And then he rode all that day, and harboured with an old lady. And on the morn he rode to a castle in a valley, and there he met with a yeoman going a great pace toward a forest. Say me, said Sir Bors, canst thou tell me of any adventure? Sir, said he, here shall be under this castle a great and a marvellous tournament. Of what folks shall it be? said Sir Bors. The Earl of Plains shall be in the one party, and the ladys nephew of Hervin on the other party. Then Bors thought to be there if he might meet with his brother Sir Lionel, or any other of his fellowship, which were in the quest of the Sangreal. And then he turned to an hermitage that was in the entry of the forest. And when he was come thither he found there Sir Lionel, his brother, which sat all armed at the entry of the chapel door for to abide there harbour till on the morn that the tournament shall be. And when Sir Bors saw him he had great joy of him, that it were marvel to tell of his joy. And then he alit off his horse, and said: Fair sweet brother, when came ye hither? Anon as Lionel saw him he said: Ah Bors, ye may not make none avaunt, but as for you I might have been slain; when ye saw two knights leading me away beating me, ye left me for to succour a gentlewoman, and suffered me in peril of death; for never erst ne did no brother to another so great an untruth. And for that misdeed now I ensure you but death, for well have ye deserved it; therefore keep thee from henceforward, and that shall ye find as soon as I am armed. When Sir Bors understood his brothers wrath he kneeled down to the earth and cried him mercy, holding up both his hands, and prayed him to forgive him his evil will. Nay, said Lionel, that shall never be an I may have the higher hand, that I make mine avow to God, thou shalt have death for it, for it were pity ye lived any longer. Right so he went in and took his harness, and mounted upon his horse, and came tofore him and said: Bors, keep thee from me, for I shall do to thee as I would to a felon or a traitor, for ye be the untruest knight that ever came out of so worthy an house as was King Bors de Ganis which was our father, therefore start upon thy horse, and so shall ye be most at your advantage. And but if ye will I will run upon there as ye stand upon foot, and so the shame shall be mine and the harm yours, but of that shame ne reck I nought. When Sir Bors saw that he must fight with his brother or else to die, he nist what to do; then his heart counselled him not thereto, inasmuch as Lionel was born or he, wherefore he ought to bear him reverence; yet kneeled he down afore Lionels horses feet, and said: Fair sweet brother, have mercy upon me and slay me not, and have in remembrance the great love which ought to be between us twain. What Sir Bors said to Lionel he recked not, for the fiend had brought him in such a will that he should slay him. Then when Lionel saw he would none other, and that he would not have risen to give him battle, he rushed over him so that he smote Bors with his horse, feet upward to the earth, and hurt him so sore that he swooned of distress, the which he felt in himself to have died without confession. So when Lionel saw this, he alit off his horse to have smitten off his head. And so he took him by the helm, and would have rent it from his head. Then came the hermit running unto him, which was a good man and of great age, and well had heard all the words that were between them, and so fell down upon Sir Bors.