Lady of the Deadly Bed

The Dwarf of the Cart brought Lancelot and Gawaine to a castle or keep apparently held by this lady near the marches of Gore. Though Lancelot had arrived riding in a cart and Gawaine on horseback, the chatelaine treated them with equal hospitality.

At bedtime, she assigned each of them a long, wide, handsome bed, adding that a third bed, which waited raised half an ell above the other two, was not to be slept in by anybody who did not merit it. Gawaine accepted this with his usual quiet courtesy, while Lancelot demanded to know why the third bed was forbidden. Now she scorned him for having ridden in a cart, telling him it was not for any knight so shamed to ask or know the reason.

All the more determined, Lancelot climbed into the forbidden bed, which had a fine mattress covered with sable furs, white sheets, and a yellow velvet coverlet starred with gold. At midnight a lance with blazing pennon shot down like lightning from the rafters and almost skewered the occupant as it set the bed afire. Only grazed, Lancelot sat up, put out the fire, threw the lance into the middle of the hall, then lay back down and slept as soundly as before.

In the morning, they saw Meliagrant’s party pass the castle. Now the lady, who may meanwhile have enjoyed a flirtation with Gawaine, made it up to Lancelot for her ridicule about the cart by giving him a horse and a lance so that he could continue with Gawaine in their pursuit of Meliagrant.


See also
Castle of the Deadly Bed | The Legend of King Arthur
Wondrous Bed | The Legend of King Arthur
Merlin’s Bed | The Legend of King Arthur
Castle Meliot | The Legend of King Arthur