chapter  8
12 Pages

Chrétien de Troyes, Perceval, or The Story of the Grail Grail excerpts

ByNorris J. Lacy

While they were talking of one thing and another, 3190 a youth entered from another room. He was carrying a shining lance, grasping it by the shaft. He passed between the fire and those who were seated on the bed. And all who were there saw the white lance and the white point; a drop of blood came from the point of the lance head, and the red blood flowed down 3200 to the youth’s hand. The young man saw this marvel that occurred there that evening. He wanted to ask how this happened, but he remembered the lesson taught him by the man

who had made him a knight and who had instructed him to refrain from talking too much. 3210 And he feared that if he asked about this, he would be considered uncouth; for that reason he did not ask a question. Then two other youths entered, carrying candelabras of fine gold, inlaid with enamel. Those who were carrying them were very handsome. In each candelabra there burned at least ten candles. 3220 And a young woman, beautiful and attractively attired, entered with the youths and was carrying a grail. When she entered the room, the grail that she was holding gave off such an intense light that the candles lost their brilliance, just as the stars do when the sun or moon rises. That young woman was followed by another 3230 who was carrying a silver platter. The grail, which came first, was fashioned of fine gold, and all kinds of precious stones, among the richest and most prized to be found on land or sea, adorned the grail. The stones that were set in the grail surely surpassed all others. It passed before the bed, 3240 just as the lance had done, and went from one room into another. And the youth saw them pass but did not dare ask who was served with the grail, because he recalled the advice of the wise man. I fear that harm may befall him

because I have heard it said that one can be too reticent, 3250 just as one can talk too much. Whether for good or ill, he did not ask any question. The lord ordered his servants to bring water and spread tablecloths. Those whose duty and practice it was did as they were commanded. The lord and the young man washed their hands in warm water. And two servants brought a table 3260 that was made of ivory, and the story asserts that it was made of a single piece. They held it briefly before the lord and the youth, until two other servants brought in two wooden trestles. The wood of which the trestles were made had two qualities that caused it to last forever: 3270 because they were made of ebony, there was no danger that they might decay or burn. That was not a matter of concern. The table was set on the trestles, and the cloth was spread on it. What can I say about the tablecloth? No legate or cardinal or pope ever ate from one so white. The first course was a haunch of venison 3280 cooked in its fat and with pepper. There was no lack of clear strong wine pleasantly drunk from gold cups. A squire carved the peppered venison in their presence, having placed it upon the silver carving platter, and he placed the pieces of meat on a large and flat piece of bread. Meanwhile, the grail 3290

passed before them again, but the youth did not ask who was served with the grail, because he was mindful of the good man who had gently admonished him not to talk too much, and he recalled that warning and was intent on obeying it. But he remained silent longer than he should, for at each course served to them, he saw the grail, uncovered, 3300 pass before them. He did not know who was served with it, and he wanted to know, and he decided to ask one of the squires before leaving the castle, but he would wait until morning when he was taking leave of the lord and of the entire household. The matter was thus postponed, 3310 and he set about drinking and eating. An abundance of food and wine, all of it excellent and delicious, was brought to the table. The dinner was splendid: that evening the good man and the youth with him were served a meal fit for a king or queen or emperor. Following the dinner, the two of them 3320 sat and talked for some time.