Sir Thomas Malory (d. 1471). The Holy Grail. The Harvard Classics. 190914.
The Thirteenth Book
How Galahad Gat Him a Shield, and How They Sped That Presumed to Take Down the Said Shield
NOW rideth Sir Galahad yet without shield, and so he rode four days without any adventure. And at the fourth day after evensong he came to a White Abbey, and there he was received with great reverence, and led to a chamber, and there he was unarmed; and then was he ware of two knights of the Round Table, one was King Bagdemagus, and that other was Sir Uwaine. And when they saw him they went unto him and made of him great solace, and so they went to supper. Sirs, said Sir Galahad, what adventure brought you hither? Sir, said they, it is told us that within this place is a shield that no man may bear about his neck but if that he be mischieved or dead within three days, or else maimed for ever. Ah sir, said King Bagdemagus, I shall it bear to-morrow for to essay this strange adventure. In the name of God, said Sir Galahad. Sir, said Bagdemagus, an I may not achieve the adventure of this shield ye shall take it upon you, for I am sure ye shall not fail. Sir, said Galahad, I agree right well thereto, for I have no shield. So on the morn they arose and heard mass. Then King Bagdemagus asked where the adventurous shield was. Anon a monk led him behind an altar where the shield hung as white as any snow, but in the middes was a red cross. Sir, said the monk, this shield ought not to be hanged about no knights neck but he be the worthiest knight of the world, and therefore I counsel you knights to be well advised. Well, said King Bagdemagus, I wot well that I am not the best knight of the world, but yet shall I essay to bear it. And so he bare it out of the monastery; and then he said unto Sir Galahad: If it will please you I pray you abide here still, till ye know how I shall speed. I shall abide you here, said Galahad. Then King Bagdemagus took with him a squire, the which should bring tidings unto Sir Galahad how he sped. Then when they had ridden a two mile and came in a fair valley afore an hermitage, then they saw a goodly knight come from that part in white armour, horse and all; and he came as fast as his horse might run, with his spear in the rest, and King Bagdemagus dressed his spear against him and brake it upon the white knight. But the other struck him so hard that he brake the mails, and thrust him through the right shoulder, for the shield covered him not as at that time; and so he bare him from his horse. And therewith he alighted and took the white shield from him saying: Knight, thou has done thyself great folly, for this shield ought not to be borne but by him that shall have no peer that liveth. And then he came to King Bagdemagus squire and said: Bear this shield unto the good knight Sir Galahad, that thou left in the abbey, and greet him well from me. Sir, said the squire, what is your name? Take thou no heed of my name, said the knight, for it is not for thee to know nor for none earthly man. Now, fair sir, said the squire, at the reverence of Jesu Christ, tell me for what cause this shield may not be borne but if the bearer thereof be mischieved. Now sith thou hast conjured me so, said the knight, this shield behoveth unto no man but unto Galahad. And the squire went unto Bagdemagus and asked whether he were sore wounded or not. Yea, forsooth, said he, I shall escape hard from the death. Then he fetched his horse, and brought him with great pain unto an abbey. Then was he taken down softly and unarmed, and laid in a bed, and there was looked to his wounds. And as the book telleth, he lay there long, and escaped hard with the life.