The Loathely Damsel

It is the morning after his visit to the Castle of the Grail. Awakening in the chamber to which he had been led the previous night, Sir Galahad finds the castle deserted, issuing forth, he sees his horse saddled and the drawbridge down. Thinking to find in the forest the inmates of the castle, he rides forth, but the drawbridge closes suddenly behind him; a wail of despair follows him, and voices mock him for having failed to ask the effectual Question. He fares forward and presently meets three damsels; the first, the Loathly Damsel, is riding upon a pale mule with a golden bridle. This lady, once beautiful in form and features, is now noble still in form, but hideous in feature, and she wears a red cloak, and a hood about her head, for she is bald; and in her arms is the head of a dead king, encircled with a gold crown. The second lady is riding in the manner of an esquire. The third is on – her feet, dressed as a stripling, and in her hand is a scourge with which she drives the two riders. These damsels are under the spell of the Castle of the Grail. Against her will, a magic power is used by the Loathly Damsel to tempt and destroy knights and kings. She, with her two companions, must continue to wander, doing deeds of wickedness, until the sinless Virgin Knight shall come to the castle and ask concerning the wonders he sees there. They now assail Sir Galahad with reproaches, cursing him for having failed on the previous day to ask the Question, which not only would have delivered them and the inmates of the castle, but would have restored peace and plenty to the land. The earth now must remain barren, and Sir Galahad, wandering forth again, is followed by the curses of the peasantry, while war rages throughout the land. He must encounter many adventures, suffer many sorrows, and many years must pass before he returns once more to the Castle of the Grail, where, having through all ordeals remained sinless, he will finally ask the Question which shall redeem the sin-stricken land.


I’m not too terribly pleased with my efforts here, either–the original photo of The Loathely Damsel, along with The Conquest of the 7 Deadly Sins and the Keys to the Castle:


The year after Connecticut Yankee came out, Edwin Austin Abbey, another American expatriate painter, was commissioned to create a 15 panel mural for the Book Delivery Room at the new Boston Public Library. The subject he chose was "The Quest for the Holy Grail."