Nightbringer | The Arthurian Online Encyclopedia

Wondrous Bed

Crafted by Igraine’s clerk to test the worth of adventuresome knights, this bed waited in the middle of Canguin’s brightly floored hall, being the first thing one saw on entering through the ivory and ebony doors. The bed had silver cords; all the rest of it was gold, with a brilliant carbuncle in each of its four posts. It stood on dogs carved with grotesque faces, the dogs in turn resting on castors that allowed the light touch of a finger to send the bed rolling from one colorfully painted marble wall to another. It was spread with a heavy silk coverlet, and at each intersection of the cords hung a bell.

To sit upon this bed was perilous indeed, but no warning the Ferryman of Canguin could give had any power to prevent Gawaine from essaying the adventure. The knight waited only until the boatman, choosing to spare himself the coming sights, had left the room. As soon as our hero sat, the hall resounded with the alarm of ringing bells and screeching bedcords. The clear glass windows opened to let in a cloud of bolts and arrows, more than seven hundred of which struck Gawaine’s shield, some of them wounding him. When the windows closed again, he began to pull the missiles from his shield, but was interrupted by the opening of the door to admit a fierce lion, which plunged its claws into his shield as if into wax. He had to stop its attack by using his sword to strike off its head and the two feet in his shield: the paws were still hanging there next day, to prove the truth of his tale when he recounted it to Guiromelant.

The conquest of the lion ended the trial, along with the marvels (or at least the perilous ones), of the place, marking Gawaine as the long-awaited lord of the Rock of Canguin. He had not expected this lordship and, on learning that it entailed an obligation never again to leave the castle, naturally fell into a depression, one so severe that the Ferryman soon persuaded Queen Igraine to relax the residency requirement a bit.

See also
Castle of the Deadly Bed | The Legend of King Arthur
Perilous Bed | The Legend of King Arthur