Then sprang the happier day from underground; And Lady Lyonors and her house, with dance And revel and song, made merry over Death, As being after all their foolish fears And horrors only proven a blooming boy. So large mirth lived and Gareth won the quest.
And he that told the tale in older times Says that Sir Gareth wedded Lyonors, But he, that told it later, says Lynette.
The Marriage of Geraint
The brave Geraint, a knight of Arthur's court, A tributary prince of Devon, one Of that great Order of the Table Round, Had married Enid, Yniol's only child, And loved her, as he loved the light of Heaven. And as the light of Heaven varies, now At sunrise, now at sunset, now by night With moon and trembling stars, so loved Geraint To make her beauty vary day by day, In crimsons and in purples and in gems. And Enid, but to please her husband's eye, Who first had found and loved her in a state Of broken fortunes, daily fronted him In some fresh splendour; and the Queen herself, Grateful to Prince Geraint for service done, Loved her, and often with her own white hands Arrayed and decked her, as the loveliest, Next after her own self, in all the court. And Enid loved the Queen, and with true heart Adored her, as the stateliest and the best And loveliest of all women upon earth. And seeing them so tender and so close, Long in their common love rejoiced Geraint. But when a rumour rose about the Queen, Touching her guilty love for Lancelot, Though yet there lived no proof, nor yet was heard The world's loud whisper breaking into storm, Not less Geraint believed it; and there fell A horror on him, lest his gentle wife, Through that great tenderness for Guinevere, Had suffered, or should suffer any taint In nature: wherefore going to the King, He made this pretext, that his princedom lay Close on the borders of a territory, Wherein were bandit earls, and caitiff knights, Assassins, and all flyers from the hand Of Justice, and whatever loathes a law: And therefore, till the King himself should please To cleanse this common sewer of all his realm, He craved a fair permission to depart, And there defend his marches; and the King Mused for a little on his plea, but, last, Allowing it, the Prince and Enid rode, And fifty knights rode with them, to the shores Of Severn, and they past to their own land; Where, thinking, that if ever yet was wife True to her lord, mine shall be so to me, He compassed her with sweet observances And worship, never leaving her, and grew Forgetful of his promise to the King, Forgetful of the falcon and the hunt, Forgetful of the tilt and tournament, Forgetful of his glory and his name, Forgetful of his princedom and its cares. And this forgetfulness was hateful to her. And by and by the people, when they met In twos and threes, or fuller companies, Began to scoff and jeer and babble of him As of a prince whose manhood was all gone, And molten down in mere uxoriousness. And this she gathered from the people's eyes: This too the women who attired her head, To please her, dwelling on his boundless love, Told Enid, and they saddened her the more: And day by day she thought to tell Geraint, But could not out of bashful delicacy; While he that watched her sadden, was the more Suspicious that her nature had a taint.
At last, it chanced that on a summer morn (They sleeping each by either) the new sun Beat through the blindless casement of the room, And heated the strong warrior in his dreams; Who, moving, cast the coverlet aside, And bared the knotted column of his throat, The massive square of his heroic breast, And arms on which the standing muscle sloped, As slopes a wild brook o'er a little stone, Running too vehemently to break upon it. And Enid woke and sat beside the couch, Admiring him, and thought within herself, Was ever man so grandly made as he? Then, like a shadow, past the people's talk And accusation of uxoriousness Across her mind, and bowing over him, Low to her own heart piteously she said:
'O noble breast and all-puissant arms, Am I the cause, I the poor cause that men Reproach you, saying all your force is gone? I am the cause, because I dare not speak And tell him what I think and what they say. And yet I hate that he should linger here; I cannot love my lord and not his name. Far liefer had I gird his harness on him, And ride with him to battle and stand by, And watch his mightful hand striking great blows At caitiffs and at wrongers of the world. Far better were I laid in the dark earth, Not hearing any more his noble voice, Not to be folded more in these dear arms, And darkened from the high light in his eyes, Than that my lord through me should suffer shame. Am I so bold, and could I so stand by, And see my dear lord wounded in the strife, And maybe pierced to death before mine eyes, And yet not dare to tell him what I think, And how men slur him, saying all his force Is melted into mere effeminacy? O me, I fear that I am no true wife.'
Half inwardly, half audibly she spoke, And the strong passion in her made her weep True tears upon his broad and naked breast, And these awoke him, and by great mischance He heard but fragments of her later words, And that she feared she was not a true wife. And then he thought, 'In spite of all my care, For all my pains, poor man, for all my pains, She is not faithful to me, and I see her Weeping for some gay knight in Arthur's hall.' Then though he loved and reverenced her too much To dream she could be guilty of foul act, Right through his manful breast darted the pang That makes a man, in the sweet face of her Whom he loves most, lonely and miserable. At this he hurled his huge limbs out of bed, And shook his drowsy squire awake and cried, 'My charger and her palfrey;' then to her, 'I will ride forth into the wilderness; For though it seems my spurs are yet to win, I have not fallen so low as some would wish. And thou, put on thy worst and meanest dress And ride with me.' And Enid asked, amazed, 'If Enid errs, let Enid learn her fault.' But he, 'I charge thee, ask not, but obey.' Then she bethought her of a faded silk, A faded mantle and a faded veil, And moving toward a cedarn cabinet, Wherein she kept them folded reverently With sprigs of summer laid between the folds, She took them, and arrayed herself therein, Remembering when first he came on her Drest in that dress, and how he loved her in it, And all her foolish fears about the dress, And all his journey to her, as himself Had told her, and their coming to the court.
For Arthur on the Whitsuntide before Held court at old Caerleon upon Usk. There on a day, he sitting high in hall, Before him came a forester of Dean, Wet from the woods, with notice of a hart Taller than all his fellows, milky-white, First seen that day: these things he told the King. Then the good King gave order to let blow His horns for hunting on the morrow morn. And when the King petitioned for his leave To see the hunt, allowed it easily. So with the morning all the court were gone. But Guinevere lay late into the morn, Lost in sweet dreams, and dreaming of her love For Lancelot, and forgetful of the hunt; But rose at last, a single maiden with her, Took horse, and forded Usk, and gained the wood; There, on a little knoll beside it, stayed Waiting to hear the hounds; but heard instead A sudden sound of hoofs, for Prince Geraint, Late also, wearing neither hunting-dress Nor weapon, save a golden-hilted brand, Came quickly flashing through the shallow ford Behind them, and so galloped up the knoll. A purple scarf, at either end whereof There swung an apple of the purest gold, Swayed round about him, as he galloped up To join them, glancing like a dragon-fly In summer suit and silks of holiday. Low bowed the tributary Prince, and she, Sweet and statelily, and with all grace Of womanhood and queenhood, answered him: 'Late, late, Sir Prince,' she said, 'later than we!' 'Yea, noble Queen,' he answered, 'and so late That I but come like you to see the hunt, Not join it.' 'Therefore wait with me,' she said; 'For on this little knoll, if anywhere, There is good chance that we shall hear the hounds: Here often they break covert at our feet.'
And while they listened for the distant hunt, And chiefly for the baying of Cavall, King Arthur's hound of deepest mouth, there rode Full slowly by a knight, lady, and dwarf; Whereof the dwarf lagged latest, and the knight Had vizor up, and showed a youthful face, Imperious, and of haughtiest lineaments. And Guinevere, not mindful of his face In the King's hall, desired his name, and sent Her maiden to demand it of the dwarf; Who being vicious, old and irritable, And doubling all his master's vice of pride, Made answer sharply that she should not know. 'Then will I ask it of himself,' she said. 'Nay, by my faith, thou shalt not,' cried the dwarf; 'Thou art not worthy even to speak of him;' And when she put her horse toward the knight, Struck at her with his whip, and she returned Indignant to the Queen; whereat Geraint Exclaiming, 'Surely I will learn the name,' Made sharply to the dwarf, and asked it of him, Who answered as before; and when the Prince Had put his horse in motion toward the knight, Struck at him with his whip, and cut his cheek. The Prince's blood spirted upon the scarf, Dyeing it; and his quick, instinctive hand Caught at the hilt, as to abolish him: But he, from his exceeding manfulness And pure nobility of temperament, Wroth to be wroth at such a worm, refrained From even a word, and so returning said:
'I will avenge this insult, noble Queen, Done in your maiden's person to yourself: And I will track this vermin to their earths: For though I ride unarmed, I do not doubt To find, at some place I shall come at, arms On loan, or else for pledge; and, being found, Then will I fight him, and will break his pride, And on the third day will again be here, So that I be not fallen in fight. Farewell.'
'Farewell, fair Prince,' answered the stately Queen. 'Be prosperous in this journey, as in all; And may you light on all things that you love, And live to wed with her whom first you love: But ere you wed with any, bring your bride, And I, were she the daughter of a king, Yea, though she were a beggar from the hedge, Will clothe her for her bridals like the sun.'
And Prince Geraint, now thinking that he heard The noble hart at bay, now the far horn, A little vext at losing of the hunt, A little at the vile occasion, rode, By ups and downs, through many a grassy glade And valley, with fixt eye following the three. At last they issued from the world of wood, And climbed upon a fair and even ridge, And showed themselves against the sky, and sank. And thither there came Geraint, and underneath Beheld the long street of a little town In a long valley, on one side whereof, White from the mason's hand, a fortress rose; And on one side a castle in decay, Beyond a bridge that spanned a dry ravine: And out of town and valley came a noise As of a broad brook o'er a shingly bed Brawling, or like a clamour of the rooks At distance, ere they settle for the night.
And onward to the fortress rode the three, And entered, and were lost behind the walls. 'So,' thought Geraint, 'I have tracked him to his earth.' And down the long street riding wearily, Found every hostel full, and everywhere Was hammer laid to hoof, and the hot hiss And bustling whistle of the youth who scoured His master's armour; and of such a one He asked, 'What means the tumult in the town?' Who told him, scouring still, 'The sparrow-hawk!' Then riding close behind an ancient churl, Who, smitten by the dusty sloping beam, Went sweating underneath a sack of corn, Asked yet once more what meant the hubbub here? Who answered gruffly, 'Ugh! the sparrow-hawk.' Then riding further past an armourer's, Who, with back turned, and bowed above his work, Sat riveting a helmet on his knee, He put the self-same query, but the man Not turning round, nor looking at him, said: 'Friend, he that labours for the sparrow-hawk Has little time for idle questioners.' Whereat Geraint flashed into sudden spleen: 'A thousand pips eat up your sparrow-hawk! Tits, wrens, and all winged nothings peck him dead! Ye think the rustic cackle of your bourg The murmur of the world! What is it to me? O wretched set of sparrows, one and all, Who pipe of nothing but of sparrow-hawks! Speak, if ye be not like the rest, hawk-mad, Where can I get me harbourage for the night? And arms, arms, arms to fight my enemy? Speak!' Whereat the armourer turning all amazed And seeing one so gay in purple silks, Came forward with the helmet yet in hand And answered, 'Pardon me, O stranger knight; We hold a tourney here tomorrow morn, And there is scantly time for half the work. Arms? truth! I know not: all are wanted here. Harbourage? truth, good truth, I know not, save, It may be, at Earl Yniol's, o'er the bridge Yonder.' He spoke and fell to work again.
Then rode Geraint, a little spleenful yet, Across the bridge that spanned the dry ravine. There musing sat the hoary-headed Earl, (His dress a suit of frayed magnificence, Once fit for feasts of ceremony) and said: 'Whither, fair son?' to whom Geraint replied, 'O friend, I seek a harbourage for the night.' Then Yniol, 'Enter therefore and partake The slender entertainment of a house Once rich, now poor, but ever open-doored.' 'Thanks, venerable friend,' replied Geraint; 'So that ye do not serve me sparrow-hawks For supper, I will enter, I will eat With all the passion of a twelve hours' fast.' Then sighed and smiled the hoary-headed Earl, And answered, 'Graver cause than yours is mine To curse this hedgerow thief, the sparrow-hawk: But in, go in; for save yourself desire it, We will not touch upon him even in jest.'
Then rode Geraint into the castle court, His charger trampling many a prickly star Of sprouted thistle on the broken stones. He looked and saw that all was ruinous. Here stood a shattered archway plumed with fern; And here had fallen a great part of a tower, Whole, like a crag that tumbles from the cliff, And like a crag was gay with wilding flowers: And high above a piece of turret stair, Worn by the feet that now were silent, wound Bare to the sun, and monstrous ivy-stems Claspt the gray walls with hairy-fibred arms, And sucked the joining of the stones, and looked A knot, beneath, of snakes, aloft, a grove.
And while he waited in the castle court, The voice of Enid, Yniol's daughter, rang Clear through the open casement of the hall, Singing; and as the sweet voice of a bird, Heard by the lander in a lonely isle, Moves him to think what kind of bird it is That sings so delicately clear, and make Conjecture of the plumage and the form; So the sweet voice of Enid moved Geraint; And made him like a man abroad at morn When first the liquid note beloved of men Comes flying over many a windy wave To Britain, and in April suddenly Breaks from a coppice gemmed with green and red, And he suspends his converse with a friend, Or it may be the labour of his hands, To think or say, 'There is the nightingale;' So fared it with Geraint, who thought and said, 'Here, by God's grace, is the one voice for me.'
It chanced the song that Enid sang was one Of Fortune and her wheel, and Enid sang:
'Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel and lower the proud; Turn thy wild wheel through sunshine, storm, and cloud; Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.
'Turn, Fortune, turn thy wheel with smile or frown; With that wild wheel we go not up or down; Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.
'Smile and we smile, the lords of many lands; Frown and we smile, the lords of our own hands; For man is man and master of his fate.
'Turn, turn thy wheel above the staring crowd; Thy wheel and thou are shadows in the cloud; Thy wheel and thee we neither love nor hate.'
'Hark, by the bird's song ye may learn the nest,' Said Yniol; 'enter quickly.' Entering then, Right o'er a mount of newly-fallen stones, The dusky-raftered many-cobwebbed hall, He found an ancient dame in dim brocade; And near her, like a blossom vermeil-white, That lightly breaks a faded flower-sheath, Moved the fair Enid, all in faded silk, Her daughter. In a moment thought Geraint, 'Here by God's rood is the one maid for me.' But none spake word except the hoary Earl: 'Enid, the good knight's horse stands in the court; Take him to stall, and give him corn, and then Go to the town and buy us flesh and wine; And we will make us merry as we may. Our hoard is little, but our hearts are great.'
He spake: the Prince, as Enid past him, fain To follow, strode a stride, but Yniol caught His purple scarf, and held, and said, 'Forbear! Rest! the good house, though ruined, O my son, Endures not that her guest should serve himself.' And reverencing the custom of the house Geraint, from utter courtesy, forbore.
So Enid took his charger to the stall; And after went her way across the bridge, And reached the town, and while the Prince and Earl Yet spoke together, came again with one, A youth, that following with a costrel bore The means of goodly welcome, flesh and wine. And Enid brought sweet cakes to make them cheer, And in her veil enfolded, manchet bread. And then, because their hall must also serve For kitchen, boiled the flesh, and spread the board, And stood behind, and waited on the three. And seeing her so sweet and serviceable, Geraint had longing in him evermore To stoop and kiss the tender little thumb, That crost the trencher as she laid it down: But after all had eaten, then Geraint, For now the wine made summer in his veins, Let his eye rove in following, or rest On Enid at her lowly handmaid-work, Now here, now there, about the dusky hall; Then suddenly addrest the hoary Earl:
'Fair Host and Earl, I pray your courtesy; This sparrow-hawk, what is he? tell me of him. His name? but no, good faith, I will not have it: For if he be the knight whom late I saw Ride into that new fortress by your town, White from the mason's hand, then have I sworn From his own lips to have it—I am Geraint Of Devon—for this morning when the Queen Sent her own maiden to demand the name, His dwarf, a vicious under-shapen thing, Struck at her with his whip, and she returned Indignant to the Queen; and then I swore That I would track this caitiff to his hold, And fight and break his pride, and have it of him. And all unarmed I rode, and thought to find Arms in your town, where all the men are mad; They take the rustic murmur of their bourg For the great wave that echoes round the world; They would not hear me speak: but if ye know Where I can light on arms, or if yourself Should have them, tell me, seeing I have sworn That I will break his pride and learn his name, Avenging this great insult done the Queen.'
Then cried Earl Yniol, 'Art thou he indeed, Geraint, a name far-sounded among men For noble deeds? and truly I, when first I saw you moving by me on the bridge, Felt ye were somewhat, yea, and by your state And presence might have guessed you one of those That eat in Arthur's hall in Camelot. Nor speak I now from foolish flattery; For this dear child hath often heard me praise Your feats of arms, and often when I paused Hath asked again, and ever loved to hear; So grateful is the noise of noble deeds To noble hearts who see but acts of wrong: O never yet had woman such a pair Of suitors as this maiden: first Limours, A creature wholly given to brawls and wine, Drunk even when he wooed; and be he dead I know not, but he past to the wild land. The second was your foe, the sparrow-hawk, My curse, my nephew—I will not let his name Slip from my lips if I can help it—he, When that I knew him fierce and turbulent Refused her to him, then his pride awoke; And since the proud man often is the mean, He sowed a slander in the common ear, Affirming that his father left him gold, And in my charge, which was not rendered to him; Bribed with large promises the men who served About my person, the more easily Because my means were somewhat broken into Through open doors and hospitality; Raised my own town against me in the night Before my Enid's birthday, sacked my house; From mine own earldom foully ousted me; Built that new fort to overawe my friends, For truly there are those who love me yet; And keeps me in this ruinous castle here, Where doubtless he would put me soon to death, But that his pride too much despises me: And I myself sometimes despise myself; For I have let men be, and have their way; Am much too gentle, have not used my power: Nor know I whether I be very base Or very manful, whether very wise Or very foolish; only this I know, That whatsoever evil happen to me, I seem to suffer nothing heart or limb, But can endure it all most patiently.'
'Well said, true heart,' replied Geraint, 'but arms, That if the sparrow-hawk, this nephew, fight In next day's tourney I may break his pride.'
And Yniol answered, 'Arms, indeed, but old And rusty, old and rusty, Prince Geraint, Are mine, and therefore at thy asking, thine. But in this tournament can no man tilt, Except the lady he loves best be there. Two forks are fixt into the meadow ground, And over these is placed a silver wand, And over that a golden sparrow-hawk, The prize of beauty for the fairest there. And this, what knight soever be in field Lays claim to for the lady at his side, And tilts with my good nephew thereupon, Who being apt at arms and big of bone Has ever won it for the lady with him, And toppling over all antagonism Has earned himself the name of sparrow-hawk.' But thou, that hast no lady, canst not fight.'
To whom Geraint with eyes all bright replied, Leaning a little toward him, 'Thy leave! Let me lay lance in rest, O noble host, For this dear child, because I never saw, Though having seen all beauties of our time, Nor can see elsewhere, anything so fair. And if I fall her name will yet remain Untarnished as before; but if I live, So aid me Heaven when at mine uttermost, As I will make her truly my true wife.'
Then, howsoever patient, Yniol's heart Danced in his bosom, seeing better days, And looking round he saw not Enid there, (Who hearing her own name had stolen away) But that old dame, to whom full tenderly And folding all her hand in his he said, 'Mother, a maiden is a tender thing, And best by her that bore her understood. Go thou to rest, but ere thou go to rest Tell her, and prove her heart toward the Prince.'
So spake the kindly-hearted Earl, and she With frequent smile and nod departing found, Half disarrayed as to her rest, the girl; Whom first she kissed on either cheek, and then On either shining shoulder laid a hand, And kept her off and gazed upon her face, And told them all their converse in the hall, Proving her heart: but never light and shade Coursed one another more on open ground Beneath a troubled heaven, than red and pale Across the face of Enid hearing her; While slowly falling as a scale that falls, When weight is added only grain by grain, Sank her sweet head upon her gentle breast; Nor did she lift an eye nor speak a word, Rapt in the fear and in the wonder of it; So moving without answer to her rest She found no rest, and ever failed to draw The quiet night into her blood, but lay Contemplating her own unworthiness; And when the pale and bloodless east began To quicken to the sun, arose, and raised Her mother too, and hand in hand they moved Down to the meadow where the jousts were held, And waited there for Yniol and Geraint.
And thither came the twain, and when Geraint Beheld her first in field, awaiting him, He felt, were she the prize of bodily force, Himself beyond the rest pushing could move The chair of Idris. Yniol's rusted arms Were on his princely person, but through these Princelike his bearing shone; and errant knights And ladies came, and by and by the town Flowed in, and settling circled all the lists. And there they fixt the forks into the ground, And over these they placed the silver wand, And over that the golden sparrow-hawk. Then Yniol's nephew, after trumpet blown, Spake to the lady with him and proclaimed, 'Advance and take, as fairest of the fair, What I these two years past have won for thee, The prize of beauty.' Loudly spake the Prince, 'Forbear: there is a worthier,' and the knight With some surprise and thrice as much disdain Turned, and beheld the four, and all his face Glowed like the heart of a great fire at Yule, So burnt he was with passion, crying out, 'Do battle for it then,' no more; and thrice They clashed together, and thrice they brake their spears. Then each, dishorsed and drawing, lashed at each So often and with such blows, that all the crowd Wondered, and now and then from distant walls There came a clapping as of phantom hands. So twice they fought, and twice they breathed, and still The dew of their great labour, and the blood Of their strong bodies, flowing, drained their force. But either's force was matched till Yniol's cry, 'Remember that great insult done the Queen,' Increased Geraint's, who heaved his blade aloft, And cracked the helmet through, and bit the bone, And felled him, and set foot upon his breast, And said, 'Thy name?' To whom the fallen man Made answer, groaning, 'Edyrn, son of Nudd! Ashamed am I that I should tell it thee. My pride is broken: men have seen my fall.' 'Then, Edyrn, son of Nudd,' replied Geraint, 'These two things shalt thou do, or else thou diest. First, thou thyself, with damsel and with dwarf, Shalt ride to Arthur's court, and coming there, Crave pardon for that insult done the Queen, And shalt abide her judgment on it; next, Thou shalt give back their earldom to thy kin. These two things shalt thou do, or thou shalt die.' And Edyrn answered, 'These things will I do, For I have never yet been overthrown, And thou hast overthrown me, and my pride Is broken down, for Enid sees my fall!' And rising up, he rode to Arthur's court, And there the Queen forgave him easily. And being young, he changed and came to loathe His crime of traitor, slowly drew himself Bright from his old dark life, and fell at last In the great battle fighting for the King.
But when the third day from the hunting-morn Made a low splendour in the world, and wings Moved in her ivy, Enid, for she lay With her fair head in the dim-yellow light, Among the dancing shadows of the birds, Woke and bethought her of her promise given No later than last eve to Prince Geraint— So bent he seemed on going the third day, He would not leave her, till her promise given— To ride with him this morning to the court, And there be made known to the stately Queen, And there be wedded with all ceremony. At this she cast her eyes upon her dress, And thought it never yet had looked so mean. For as a leaf in mid-November is To what it is in mid-October, seemed The dress that now she looked on to the dress She looked on ere the coming of Geraint. And still she looked, and still the terror grew Of that strange bright and dreadful thing, a court, All staring at her in her faded silk: And softly to her own sweet heart she said:
'This noble prince who won our earldom back, So splendid in his acts and his attire, Sweet heaven, how much I shall discredit him! Would he could tarry with us here awhile, But being so beholden to the Prince, It were but little grace in any of us, Bent as he seemed on going this third day, To seek a second favour at his hands. Yet if he could but tarry a day or two, Myself would work eye dim, and finger lame, Far liefer than so much discredit him.'
And Enid fell in longing for a dress All branched and flowered with gold, a costly gift Of her good mother, given her on the night Before her birthday, three sad years ago, That night of fire, when Edyrn sacked their house, And scattered all they had to all the winds: For while the mother showed it, and the two Were turning and admiring it, the work To both appeared so costly, rose a cry That Edyrn's men were on them, and they fled With little save the jewels they had on, Which being sold and sold had bought them bread: And Edyrn's men had caught them in their flight, And placed them in this ruin; and she wished The Prince had found her in her ancient home; Then let her fancy flit across the past, And roam the goodly places that she knew; And last bethought her how she used to watch, Near that old home, a pool of golden carp; And one was patched and blurred and lustreless Among his burnished brethren of the pool; And half asleep she made comparison Of that and these to her own faded self And the gay court, and fell asleep again; And dreamt herself was such a faded form Among her burnished sisters of the pool; But this was in the garden of a king; And though she lay dark in the pool, she knew That all was bright; that all about were birds Of sunny plume in gilded trellis-work; That all the turf was rich in plots that looked Each like a garnet or a turkis in it; And lords and ladies of the high court went In silver tissue talking things of state; And children of the King in cloth of gold Glanced at the doors or gamboled down the walks; And while she thought 'They will not see me,' came A stately queen whose name was Guinevere, And all the children in their cloth of gold Ran to her, crying, 'If we have fish at all Let them be gold; and charge the gardeners now To pick the faded creature from the pool, And cast it on the mixen that it die.' And therewithal one came and seized on her, And Enid started waking, with her heart All overshadowed by the foolish dream, And lo! it was her mother grasping her To get her well awake; and in her hand A suit of bright apparel, which she laid Flat on the couch, and spoke exultingly:
'See here, my child, how fresh the colours look, How fast they hold like colours of a shell That keeps the wear and polish of the wave. Why not? It never yet was worn, I trow: Look on it, child, and tell me if ye know it.'
And Enid looked, but all confused at first, Could scarce divide it from her foolish dream: Then suddenly she knew it and rejoiced, And answered, 'Yea, I know it; your good gift, So sadly lost on that unhappy night; Your own good gift!' 'Yea, surely,' said the dame, 'And gladly given again this happy morn. For when the jousts were ended yesterday, Went Yniol through the town, and everywhere He found the sack and plunder of our house All scattered through the houses of the town; And gave command that all which once was ours Should now be ours again: and yester-eve, While ye were talking sweetly with your Prince, Came one with this and laid it in my hand, For love or fear, or seeking favour of us, Because we have our earldom back again. And yester-eve I would not tell you of it, But kept it for a sweet surprise at morn. Yea, truly is it not a sweet surprise? For I myself unwillingly have worn My faded suit, as you, my child, have yours, And howsoever patient, Yniol his. Ah, dear, he took me from a goodly house, With store of rich apparel, sumptuous fare, And page, and maid, and squire, and seneschal, And pastime both of hawk and hound, and all That appertains to noble maintenance. Yea, and he brought me to a goodly house; But since our fortune swerved from sun to shade, And all through that young traitor, cruel need Constrained us, but a better time has come; So clothe yourself in this, that better fits Our mended fortunes and a Prince's bride: For though ye won the prize of fairest fair, And though I heard him call you fairest fair, Let never maiden think, however fair, She is not fairer in new clothes than old. And should some great court-lady say, the Prince Hath picked a ragged-robin from the hedge, And like a madman brought her to the court, Then were ye shamed, and, worse, might shame the Prince To whom we are beholden; but I know, That when my dear child is set forth at her best, That neither court nor country, though they sought Through all the provinces like those of old That lighted on Queen Esther, has her match.'
Here ceased the kindly mother out of breath; And Enid listened brightening as she lay; Then, as the white and glittering star of morn Parts from a bank of snow, and by and by Slips into golden cloud, the maiden rose, And left her maiden couch, and robed herself, Helped by the mother's careful hand and eye, Without a mirror, in the gorgeous gown; Who, after, turned her daughter round, and said, She never yet had seen her half so fair; And called her like that maiden in the tale, Whom Gwydion made by glamour out of flowers And sweeter than the bride of Cassivelaun, Flur, for whose love the Roman Caesar first Invaded Britain, 'But we beat him back, As this great Prince invaded us, and we, Not beat him back, but welcomed him with joy And I can scarcely ride with you to court, For old am I, and rough the ways and wild; But Yniol goes, and I full oft shall dream I see my princess as I see her now, Clothed with my gift, and gay among the gay.'
But while the women thus rejoiced, Geraint Woke where he slept in the high hall, and called For Enid, and when Yniol made report Of that good mother making Enid gay In such apparel as might well beseem His princess, or indeed the stately Queen, He answered: 'Earl, entreat her by my love, Albeit I give no reason but my wish, That she ride with me in her faded silk.' Yniol with that hard message went; it fell Like flaws in summer laying lusty corn: For Enid, all abashed she knew not why, Dared not to glance at her good mother's face, But silently, in all obedience, Her mother silent too, nor helping her, Laid from her limbs the costly-broidered gift, And robed them in her ancient suit again, And so descended. Never man rejoiced More than Geraint to greet her thus attired; And glancing all at once as keenly at her As careful robins eye the delver's toil, Made her cheek burn and either eyelid fall, But rested with her sweet face satisfied; Then seeing cloud upon the mother's brow, Her by both hands she caught, and sweetly said,
'O my new mother, be not wroth or grieved At thy new son, for my petition to her. When late I left Caerleon, our great Queen, In words whose echo lasts, they were so sweet, Made promise, that whatever bride I brought, Herself would clothe her like the sun in Heaven. Thereafter, when I reached this ruined hall, Beholding one so bright in dark estate, I vowed that could I gain her, our fair Queen, No hand but hers, should make your Enid burst Sunlike from cloud—and likewise thought perhaps, That service done so graciously would bind The two together; fain I would the two Should love each other: how can Enid find A nobler friend? Another thought was mine; I came among you here so suddenly, That though her gentle presence at the lists Might well have served for proof that I was loved, I doubted whether daughter's tenderness, Or easy nature, might not let itself Be moulded by your wishes for her weal; Or whether some false sense in her own self Of my contrasting brightness, overbore Her fancy dwelling in this dusky hall; And such a sense might make her long for court And all its perilous glories: and I thought, That could I someway prove such force in her Linked with such love for me, that at a word (No reason given her) she could cast aside A splendour dear to women, new to her, And therefore dearer; or if not so new, Yet therefore tenfold dearer by the power Of intermitted usage; then I felt That I could rest, a rock in ebbs and flows, Fixt on her faith. Now, therefore, I do rest, A prophet certain of my prophecy, That never shadow of mistrust can cross Between us. Grant me pardon for my thoughts: And for my strange petition I will make Amends hereafter by some gaudy-day, When your fair child shall wear your costly gift Beside your own warm hearth, with, on her knees, Who knows? another gift of the high God, Which, maybe, shall have learned to lisp you thanks.'
He spoke: the mother smiled, but half in tears, Then brought a mantle down and wrapt her in it, And claspt and kissed her, and they rode away.
Now thrice that morning Guinevere had climbed The giant tower, from whose high crest, they say, Men saw the goodly hills of Somerset, And white sails flying on the yellow sea; But not to goodly hill or yellow sea Looked the fair Queen, but up the vale of Usk, By the flat meadow, till she saw them come; And then descending met them at the gates, Embraced her with all welcome as a friend, And did her honour as the Prince's bride, And clothed her for her bridals like the sun; And all that week was old Caerleon gay, For by the hands of Dubric, the high saint, They twain were wedded with all ceremony.
And this was on the last year's Whitsuntide. But Enid ever kept the faded silk, Remembering how first he came on her, Drest in that dress, and how he loved her in it, And all her foolish fears about the dress, And all his journey toward her, as himself Had told her, and their coming to the court.
And now this morning when he said to her, 'Put on your worst and meanest dress,' she found And took it, and arrayed herself therein.
Geraint and Enid
O purblind race of miserable men, How many among us at this very hour Do forge a life-long trouble for ourselves, By taking true for false, or false for true; Here, through the feeble twilight of this world Groping, how many, until we pass and reach That other, where we see as we are seen!
So fared it with Geraint, who issuing forth That morning, when they both had got to horse, Perhaps because he loved her passionately, And felt that tempest brooding round his heart, Which, if he spoke at all, would break perforce Upon a head so dear in thunder, said: 'Not at my side. I charge thee ride before, Ever a good way on before; and this I charge thee, on thy duty as a wife, Whatever happens, not to speak to me, No, not a word!' and Enid was aghast; And forth they rode, but scarce three paces on, When crying out, 'Effeminate as I am, I will not fight my way with gilded arms, All shall be iron;' he loosed a mighty purse, Hung at his belt, and hurled it toward the squire. So the last sight that Enid had of home Was all the marble threshold flashing, strown With gold and scattered coinage, and the squire Chafing his shoulder: then he cried again, 'To the wilds!' and Enid leading down the tracks Through which he bad her lead him on, they past The marches, and by bandit-haunted holds, Gray swamps and pools, waste places of the hern, And wildernesses, perilous paths, they rode: Round was their pace at first, but slackened soon: A stranger meeting them had surely thought They rode so slowly and they looked so pale, That each had suffered some exceeding wrong. For he was ever saying to himself, 'O I that wasted time to tend upon her, To compass her with sweet observances, To dress her beautifully and keep her true'— And there he broke the sentence in his heart Abruptly, as a man upon his tongue May break it, when his passion masters him. And she was ever praying the sweet heavens To save her dear lord whole from any wound. And ever in her mind she cast about For that unnoticed failing in herself, Which made him look so cloudy and so cold; Till the great plover's human whistle amazed Her heart, and glancing round the waste she feared In ever wavering brake an ambuscade. Then thought again, 'If there be such in me, I might amend it by the grace of Heaven, If he would only speak and tell me of it.'
But when the fourth part of the day was gone, Then Enid was aware of three tall knights On horseback, wholly armed, behind a rock In shadow, waiting for them, caitiffs all; And heard one crying to his fellow, 'Look, Here comes a laggard hanging down his head, Who seems no bolder than a beaten hound; Come, we will slay him and will have his horse And armour, and his damsel shall be ours.'
Then Enid pondered in her heart, and said: 'I will go back a little to my lord, And I will tell him all their caitiff talk; For, be he wroth even to slaying me, Far liefer by his dear hand had I die, Than that my lord should suffer loss or shame.'
Then she went back some paces of return, Met his full frown timidly firm, and said; 'My lord, I saw three bandits by the rock Waiting to fall on you, and heard them boast That they would slay you, and possess your horse And armour, and your damsel should be theirs.'
He made a wrathful answer: 'Did I wish Your warning or your silence? one command I laid upon you, not to speak to me, And thus ye keep it! Well then, look—for now, Whether ye wish me victory or defeat, Long for my life, or hunger for my death, Yourself shall see my vigour is not lost.'
Then Enid waited pale and sorrowful, And down upon him bare the bandit three. And at the midmost charging, Prince Geraint Drave the long spear a cubit through his breast And out beyond; and then against his brace Of comrades, each of whom had broken on him A lance that splintered like an icicle, Swung from his brand a windy buffet out Once, twice, to right, to left, and stunned the twain Or slew them, and dismounting like a man That skins the wild beast after slaying him, Stript from the three dead wolves of woman born The three gay suits of armour which they wore, And let the bodies lie, but bound the suits Of armour on their horses, each on each, And tied the bridle-reins of all the three Together, and said to her, 'Drive them on Before you;' and she drove them through the waste.
He followed nearer; ruth began to work Against his anger in him, while he watched The being he loved best in all the world, With difficulty in mild obedience Driving them on: he fain had spoken to her, And loosed in words of sudden fire the wrath And smouldered wrong that burnt him all within; But evermore it seemed an easier thing At once without remorse to strike her dead, Than to cry 'Halt,' and to her own bright face Accuse her of the least immodesty: And thus tongue-tied, it made him wroth the more That she could speak whom his own ear had heard Call herself false: and suffering thus he made Minutes an age: but in scarce longer time Than at Caerleon the full-tided Usk, Before he turn to fall seaward again, Pauses, did Enid, keeping watch, behold In the first shallow shade of a deep wood, Before a gloom of stubborn-shafted oaks, Three other horsemen waiting, wholly armed, Whereof one seemed far larger than her lord, And shook her pulses, crying, 'Look, a prize! Three horses and three goodly suits of arms, And all in charge of whom? a girl: set on.' 'Nay,' said the second, 'yonder comes a knight.' The third, 'A craven; how he hangs his head.' The giant answered merrily, 'Yea, but one? Wait here, and when he passes fall upon him.'
And Enid pondered in her heart and said, 'I will abide the coming of my lord, And I will tell him all their villainy. My lord is weary with the fight before, And they will fall upon him unawares. I needs must disobey him for his good; How should I dare obey him to his harm? Needs must I speak, and though he kill me for it, I save a life dearer to me than mine.'
And she abode his coming, and said to him With timid firmness, 'Have I leave to speak?' He said, 'Ye take it, speaking,' and she spoke.
'There lurk three villains yonder in the wood, And each of them is wholly armed, and one Is larger-limbed than you are, and they say That they will fall upon you while ye pass.'
To which he flung a wrathful answer back: 'And if there were an hundred in the wood, And every man were larger-limbed than I, And all at once should sally out upon me, I swear it would not ruffle me so much As you that not obey me. Stand aside, And if I fall, cleave to the better man.'
And Enid stood aside to wait the event, Not dare to watch the combat, only breathe Short fits of prayer, at every stroke a breath. And he, she dreaded most, bare down upon him. Aimed at the helm, his lance erred; but Geraint's, A little in the late encounter strained, Struck through the bulky bandit's corselet home, And then brake short, and down his enemy rolled, And there lay still; as he that tells the tale Saw once a great piece of a promontory, That had a sapling growing on it, slide From the long shore-cliff's windy walls to the beach, And there lie still, and yet the sapling grew: So lay the man transfixt. His craven pair Of comrades making slowlier at the Prince, When now they saw their bulwark fallen, stood; On whom the victor, to confound them more, Spurred with his terrible war-cry; for as one, That listens near a torrent mountain-brook, All through the crash of the near cataract hears The drumming thunder of the huger fall At distance, were the soldiers wont to hear His voice in battle, and be kindled by it, And foemen scared, like that false pair who turned Flying, but, overtaken, died the death Themselves had wrought on many an innocent.
Thereon Geraint, dismounting, picked the lance That pleased him best, and drew from those dead wolves Their three gay suits of armour, each from each, And bound them on their horses, each on each, And tied the bridle-reins of all the three Together, and said to her, 'Drive them on Before you,' and she drove them through the wood.
He followed nearer still: the pain she had To keep them in the wild ways of the wood, Two sets of three laden with jingling arms, Together, served a little to disedge The sharpness of that pain about her heart: And they themselves, like creatures gently born But into bad hands fallen, and now so long By bandits groomed, pricked their light ears, and felt Her low firm voice and tender government.
So through the green gloom of the wood they past, And issuing under open heavens beheld A little town with towers, upon a rock, And close beneath, a meadow gemlike chased In the brown wild, and mowers mowing in it: And down a rocky pathway from the place There came a fair-haired youth, that in his hand Bare victual for the mowers: and Geraint Had ruth again on Enid looking pale: Then, moving downward to the meadow ground, He, when the fair-haired youth came by him, said, 'Friend, let her eat; the damsel is so faint.' 'Yea, willingly,' replied the youth; 'and thou, My lord, eat also, though the fare is coarse, And only meet for mowers;' then set down His basket, and dismounting on the sward They let the horses graze, and ate themselves. And Enid took a little delicately, Less having stomach for it than desire To close with her lord's pleasure; but Geraint Ate all the mowers' victual unawares, And when he found all empty, was amazed; And 'Boy,' said he, 'I have eaten all, but take A horse and arms for guerdon; choose the best.' He, reddening in extremity of delight, 'My lord, you overpay me fifty-fold.' 'Ye will be all the wealthier,' cried the Prince. 'I take it as free gift, then,' said the boy, 'Not guerdon; for myself can easily, While your good damsel rests, return, and fetch Fresh victual for these mowers of our Earl; For these are his, and all the field is his, And I myself am his; and I will tell him How great a man thou art: he loves to know When men of mark are in his territory: And he will have thee to his palace here, And serve thee costlier than with mowers' fare.'
Then said Geraint, 'I wish no better fare: I never ate with angrier appetite Than when I left your mowers dinnerless. And into no Earl's palace will I go. I know, God knows, too much of palaces! And if he want me, let him come to me. But hire us some fair chamber for the night, And stalling for the horses, and return With victual for these men, and let us know.'
'Yea, my kind lord,' said the glad youth, and went, Held his head high, and thought himself a knight, And up the rocky pathway disappeared, Leading the horse, and they were left alone.
But when the Prince had brought his errant eyes Home from the rock, sideways he let them glance At Enid, where she droopt: his own false doom, That shadow of mistrust should never cross Betwixt them, came upon him, and he sighed; Then with another humorous ruth remarked The lusty mowers labouring dinnerless, And watched the sun blaze on the turning scythe, And after nodded sleepily in the heat. But she, remembering her old ruined hall, And all the windy clamour of the daws About her hollow turret, plucked the grass There growing longest by the meadow's edge, And into many a listless annulet, Now over, now beneath her marriage ring, Wove and unwove it, till the boy returned And told them of a chamber, and they went; Where, after saying to her, 'If ye will, Call for the woman of the house,' to which She answered, 'Thanks, my lord;' the two remained Apart by all the chamber's width, and mute As two creatures voiceless through the fault of birth, Or two wild men supporters of a shield, Painted, who stare at open space, nor glance The one at other, parted by the shield.
On a sudden, many a voice along the street, And heel against the pavement echoing, burst Their drowse; and either started while the door, Pushed from without, drave backward to the wall, And midmost of a rout of roisterers, Femininely fair and dissolutely pale, Her suitor in old years before Geraint, Entered, the wild lord of the place, Limours. He moving up with pliant courtliness, Greeted Geraint full face, but stealthily, In the mid-warmth of welcome and graspt hand, Found Enid with the corner of his eye, And knew her sitting sad and solitary. Then cried Geraint for wine and goodly cheer To feed the sudden guest, and sumptuously According to his fashion, bad the host Call in what men soever were his friends, And feast with these in honour of their Earl; 'And care not for the cost; the cost is mine.'
And wine and food were brought, and Earl Limours Drank till he jested with all ease, and told Free tales, and took the word and played upon it, And made it of two colours; for his talk, When wine and free companions kindled him, Was wont to glance and sparkle like a gem Of fifty facets; thus he moved the Prince To laughter and his comrades to applause. Then, when the Prince was merry, asked Limours, 'Your leave, my lord, to cross the room, and speak To your good damsel there who sits apart, And seems so lonely?' 'My free leave,' he said; 'Get her to speak: she doth not speak to me.' Then rose Limours, and looking at his feet, Like him who tries the bridge he fears may fail, Crost and came near, lifted adoring eyes, Bowed at her side and uttered whisperingly:
'Enid, the pilot star of my lone life, Enid, my early and my only love, Enid, the loss of whom hath turned me wild— What chance is this? how is it I see you here? Ye are in my power at last, are in my power. Yet fear me not: I call mine own self wild, But keep a touch of sweet civility Here in the heart of waste and wilderness. I thought, but that your father came between, In former days you saw me favourably. And if it were so do not keep it back: Make me a little happier: let me know it: Owe you me nothing for a life half-lost? Yea, yea, the whole dear debt of all you are. And, Enid, you and he, I see with joy, Ye sit apart, you do not speak to him, You come with no attendance, page or maid, To serve you—doth he love you as of old? For, call it lovers' quarrels, yet I know Though men may bicker with the things they love, They would not make them laughable in all eyes, Not while they loved them; and your wretched dress, A wretched insult on you, dumbly speaks Your story, that this man loves you no more. Your beauty is no beauty to him now: A common chance—right well I know it—palled— For I know men: nor will ye win him back, For the man's love once gone never returns. But here is one who loves you as of old; With more exceeding passion than of old: Good, speak the word: my followers ring him round: He sits unarmed; I hold a finger up; They understand: nay; I do not mean blood: Nor need ye look so scared at what I say: My malice is no deeper than a moat, No stronger than a wall: there is the keep; He shall not cross us more; speak but the word: Or speak it not; but then by Him that made me The one true lover whom you ever owned, I will make use of all the power I have. O pardon me! the madness of that hour, When first I parted from thee, moves me yet.'
At this the tender sound of his own voice And sweet self-pity, or the fancy of it, Made his eye moist; but Enid feared his eyes, Moist as they were, wine-heated from the feast; And answered with such craft as women use, Guilty or guiltless, to stave off a chance That breaks upon them perilously, and said:
'Earl, if you love me as in former years, And do not practise on me, come with morn, And snatch me from him as by violence; Leave me tonight: I am weary to the death.'
Low at leave-taking, with his brandished plume Brushing his instep, bowed the all-amorous Earl, And the stout Prince bad him a loud good-night. He moving homeward babbled to his men, How Enid never loved a man but him, Nor cared a broken egg-shell for her lord.
But Enid left alone with Prince Geraint, Debating his command of silence given, And that she now perforce must violate it, Held commune with herself, and while she held He fell asleep, and Enid had no heart To wake him, but hung o'er him, wholly pleased To find him yet unwounded after fight, And hear him breathing low and equally. Anon she rose, and stepping lightly, heaped The pieces of his armour in one place, All to be there against a sudden need; Then dozed awhile herself, but overtoiled By that day's grief and travel, evermore Seemed catching at a rootless thorn, and then Went slipping down horrible precipices, And strongly striking out her limbs awoke; Then thought she heard the wild Earl at the door, With all his rout of random followers, Sound on a dreadful trumpet, summoning her; Which was the red cock shouting to the light, As the gray dawn stole o'er the dewy world, And glimmered on his armour in the room. And once again she rose to look at it, But touched it unawares: jangling, the casque Fell, and he started up and stared at her. Then breaking his command of silence given, She told him all that Earl Limours had said, Except the passage that he loved her not; Nor left untold the craft herself had used; But ended with apology so sweet, Low-spoken, and of so few words, and seemed So justified by that necessity, That though he thought 'was it for him she wept In Devon?' he but gave a wrathful groan, Saying, 'Your sweet faces make good fellows fools And traitors. Call the host and bid him bring Charger and palfrey.' So she glided out Among the heavy breathings of the house, And like a household Spirit at the walls Beat, till she woke the sleepers, and returned: Then tending her rough lord, though all unasked, In silence, did him service as a squire; Till issuing armed he found the host and cried, 'Thy reckoning, friend?' and ere he learnt it, 'Take Five horses and their armours;' and the host Suddenly honest, answered in amaze, 'My lord, I scarce have spent the worth of one!' 'Ye will be all the wealthier,' said the Prince, And then to Enid, 'Forward! and today I charge you, Enid, more especially, What thing soever ye may hear, or see, Or fancy (though I count it of small use To charge you) that ye speak not but obey.'
And Enid answered, 'Yea, my lord, I know Your wish, and would obey; but riding first, I hear the violent threats you do not hear, I see the danger which you cannot see: Then not to give you warning, that seems hard; Almost beyond me: yet I would obey.'
'Yea so,' said he, 'do it: be not too wise; Seeing that ye are wedded to a man, Not all mismated with a yawning clown, But one with arms to guard his head and yours, With eyes to find you out however far, And ears to hear you even in his dreams.'
With that he turned and looked as keenly at her As careful robins eye the delver's toil; And that within her, which a wanton fool, Or hasty judger would have called her guilt, Made her cheek burn and either eyelid fall. And Geraint looked and was not satisfied.
Then forward by a way which, beaten broad, Led from the territory of false Limours To the waste earldom of another earl, Doorm, whom his shaking vassals called the Bull, Went Enid with her sullen follower on. Once she looked back, and when she saw him ride More near by many a rood than yestermorn, It wellnigh made her cheerful; till Geraint Waving an angry hand as who should say 'Ye watch me,' saddened all her heart again. But while the sun yet beat a dewy blade, The sound of many a heavily-galloping hoof Smote on her ear, and turning round she saw Dust, and the points of lances bicker in it. Then not to disobey her lord's behest, And yet to give him warning, for he rode As if he heard not, moving back she held Her finger up, and pointed to the dust. At which the warrior in his obstinacy, Because she kept the letter of his word, Was in a manner pleased, and turning, stood. And in the moment after, wild Limours, Borne on a black horse, like a thunder-cloud Whose skirts are loosened by the breaking storm, Half ridden off with by the thing he rode, And all in passion uttering a dry shriek, Dashed down on Geraint, who closed with him, and bore Down by the length of lance and arm beyond The crupper, and so left him stunned or dead, And overthrew the next that followed him, And blindly rushed on all the rout behind. But at the flash and motion of the man They vanished panic-stricken, like a shoal Of darting fish, that on a summer morn Adown the crystal dykes at Camelot Come slipping o'er their shadows on the sand, But if a man who stands upon the brink But lift a shining hand against the sun, There is not left the twinkle of a fin Betwixt the cressy islets white in flower; So, scared but at the motion of the man, Fled all the boon companions of the Earl, And left him lying in the public way; So vanish friendships only made in wine.
Then like a stormy sunlight smiled Geraint, Who saw the chargers of the two that fell Start from their fallen lords, and wildly fly, Mixt with the flyers. 'Horse and man,' he said, 'All of one mind and all right-honest friends! Not a hoof left: and I methinks till now Was honest—paid with horses and with arms; I cannot steal or plunder, no nor beg: And so what say ye, shall we strip him there Your lover? has your palfrey heart enough To bear his armour? shall we fast, or dine? No?—then do thou, being right honest, pray That we may meet the horsemen of Earl Doorm, I too would still be honest.' Thus he said: And sadly gazing on her bridle-reins, And answering not one word, she led the way.
But as a man to whom a dreadful loss Falls in a far land and he knows it not, But coming back he learns it, and the loss So pains him that he sickens nigh to death; So fared it with Geraint, who being pricked In combat with the follower of Limours, Bled underneath his armour secretly, And so rode on, nor told his gentle wife What ailed him, hardly knowing it himself, Till his eye darkened and his helmet wagged; And at a sudden swerving of the road, Though happily down on a bank of grass, The Prince, without a word, from his horse fell.
And Enid heard the clashing of his fall, Suddenly came, and at his side all pale Dismounting, loosed the fastenings of his arms, Nor let her true hand falter, nor blue eye Moisten, till she had lighted on his wound, And tearing off her veil of faded silk Had bared her forehead to the blistering sun, And swathed the hurt that drained her dear lord's life. Then after all was done that hand could do, She rested, and her desolation came Upon her, and she wept beside the way.
And many past, but none regarded her, For in that realm of lawless turbulence, A woman weeping for her murdered mate Was cared as much for as a summer shower: One took him for a victim of Earl Doorm, Nor dared to waste a perilous pity on him: Another hurrying past, a man-at-arms, Rode on a mission to the bandit Earl; Half whistling and half singing a coarse song, He drove the dust against her veilless eyes: Another, flying from the wrath of Doorm Before an ever-fancied arrow, made The long way smoke beneath him in his fear; At which her palfrey whinnying lifted heel, And scoured into the coppices and was lost, While the great charger stood, grieved like a man.
But at the point of noon the huge Earl Doorm, Broad-faced with under-fringe of russet beard, Bound on a foray, rolling eyes of prey, Came riding with a hundred lances up; But ere he came, like one that hails a ship, Cried out with a big voice, 'What, is he dead?' 'No, no, not dead!' she answered in all haste. 'Would some of your people take him up, And bear him hence out of this cruel sun? Most sure am I, quite sure, he is not dead.'
Then said Earl Doorm: 'Well, if he be not dead, Why wail ye for him thus? ye seem a child. And be he dead, I count you for a fool; Your wailing will not quicken him: dead or not, Ye mar a comely face with idiot tears. Yet, since the face is comely—some of you, Here, take him up, and bear him to our hall: An if he live, we will have him of our band; And if he die, why earth has earth enough To hide him. See ye take the charger too, A noble one.' He spake, and past away, But left two brawny spearmen, who advanced, Each growling like a dog, when his good bone Seems to be plucked at by the village boys Who love to vex him eating, and he fears To lose his bone, and lays his foot upon it, Gnawing and growling: so the ruffians growled, Fearing to lose, and all for a dead man, Their chance of booty from the morning's raid, Yet raised and laid him on a litter-bier, Such as they brought upon their forays out For those that might be wounded; laid him on it All in the hollow of his shield, and took And bore him to the naked hall of Doorm, (His gentle charger following him unled) And cast him and the bier in which he lay Down on an oaken settle in the hall, And then departed, hot in haste to join Their luckier mates, but growling as before, And cursing their lost time, and the dead man, And their own Earl, and their own souls, and her. They might as well have blest her: she was deaf To blessing or to cursing save from one.
So for long hours sat Enid by her lord, There in the naked hall, propping his head, And chafing his pale hands, and calling to him. Till at the last he wakened from his swoon, And found his own dear bride propping his head, And chafing his faint hands, and calling to him; And felt the warm tears falling on his face; And said to his own heart, 'She weeps for me:' And yet lay still, and feigned himself as dead, That he might prove her to the uttermost, And say to his own heart, 'She weeps for me.'
But in the falling afternoon returned The huge Earl Doorm with plunder to the hall. His lusty spearmen followed him with noise: Each hurling down a heap of things that rang Against his pavement, cast his lance aside, And doffed his helm: and then there fluttered in, Half-bold, half-frighted, with dilated eyes, A tribe of women, dressed in many hues, And mingled with the spearmen: and Earl Doorm Struck with a knife's haft hard against the board, And called for flesh and wine to feed his spears. And men brought in whole hogs and quarter beeves, And all the hall was dim with steam of flesh: And none spake word, but all sat down at once, And ate with tumult in the naked hall, Feeding like horses when you hear them feed; Till Enid shrank far back into herself, To shun the wild ways of the lawless tribe. But when Earl Doorm had eaten all he would, He rolled his eyes about the hall, and found A damsel drooping in a corner of it. Then he remembered her, and how she wept; And out of her there came a power upon him; And rising on the sudden he said, 'Eat! I never yet beheld a thing so pale. God's curse, it makes me mad to see you weep. Eat! Look yourself. Good luck had your good man, For were I dead who is it would weep for me? Sweet lady, never since I first drew breath Have I beheld a lily like yourself. And so there lived some colour in your cheek, There is not one among my gentlewomen Were fit to wear your slipper for a glove. But listen to me, and by me be ruled, And I will do the thing I have not done, For ye shall share my earldom with me, girl, And we will live like two birds in one nest, And I will fetch you forage from all fields, For I compel all creatures to my will.'
He spoke: the brawny spearman let his cheek Bulge with the unswallowed piece, and turning stared; While some, whose souls the old serpent long had drawn Down, as the worm draws in the withered leaf And makes it earth, hissed each at other's ear What shall not be recorded—women they, Women, or what had been those gracious things, But now desired the humbling of their best, Yea, would have helped him to it: and all at once They hated her, who took no thought of them, But answered in low voice, her meek head yet Drooping, 'I pray you of your courtesy, He being as he is, to let me be.'
She spake so low he hardly heard her speak, But like a mighty patron, satisfied With what himself had done so graciously, Assumed that she had thanked him, adding, 'Yea, Eat and be glad, for I account you mine.'
She answered meekly, 'How should I be glad Henceforth in all the world at anything, Until my lord arise and look upon me?'
Here the huge Earl cried out upon her talk, As all but empty heart and weariness And sickly nothing; suddenly seized on her, And bare her by main violence to the board, And thrust the dish before her, crying, 'Eat.'
'No, no,' said Enid, vext, 'I will not eat Till yonder man upon the bier arise, And eat with me.' 'Drink, then,' he answered. 'Here!' (And filled a horn with wine and held it to her,) 'Lo! I, myself, when flushed with fight, or hot, God's curse, with anger—often I myself, Before I well have drunken, scarce can eat: Drink therefore and the wine will change thy will.'
'Not so,' she cried, 'by Heaven, I will not drink Till my dear lord arise and bid me do it, And drink with me; and if he rise no more, I will not look at wine until I die.'
At this he turned all red and paced his hall, Now gnawed his under, now his upper lip, And coming up close to her, said at last: 'Girl, for I see ye scorn my courtesies, Take warning: yonder man is surely dead; And I compel all creatures to my will. Not eat nor drink? And wherefore wail for one, Who put your beauty to this flout and scorn By dressing it in rags? Amazed am I, Beholding how ye butt against my wish, That I forbear you thus: cross me no more. At least put off to please me this poor gown, This silken rag, this beggar-woman's weed: I love that beauty should go beautifully: For see ye not my gentlewomen here, How gay, how suited to the house of one Who loves that beauty should go beautifully? Rise therefore; robe yourself in this: obey.'
He spoke, and one among his gentlewomen Displayed a splendid silk of foreign loom, Where like a shoaling sea the lovely blue Played into green, and thicker down the front With jewels than the sward with drops of dew, When all night long a cloud clings to the hill, And with the dawn ascending lets the day Strike where it clung: so thickly shone the gems.
But Enid answered, harder to be moved Than hardest tyrants in their day of power, With life-long injuries burning unavenged, And now their hour has come; and Enid said:
'In this poor gown my dear lord found me first, And loved me serving in my father's hall: In this poor gown I rode with him to court, And there the Queen arrayed me like the sun: In this poor gown he bad me clothe myself, When now we rode upon this fatal quest Of honour, where no honour can be gained: And this poor gown I will not cast aside Until himself arise a living man, And bid me cast it. I have griefs enough: Pray you be gentle, pray you let me be: I never loved, can never love but him: Yea, God, I pray you of your gentleness, He being as he is, to let me be.'
Then strode the brute Earl up and down his hall, And took his russet beard between his teeth; Last, coming up quite close, and in his mood Crying, 'I count it of no more avail, Dame, to be gentle than ungentle with you; Take my salute,' unknightly with flat hand, However lightly, smote her on the cheek.
Then Enid, in her utter helplessness, And since she thought, 'He had not dared to do it, Except he surely knew my lord was dead,' Sent forth a sudden sharp and bitter cry, As of a wild thing taken in the trap, Which sees the trapper coming through the wood.
This heard Geraint, and grasping at his sword, (It lay beside him in the hollow shield), Made but a single bound, and with a sweep of it Shore through the swarthy neck, and like a ball The russet-bearded head rolled on the floor. So died Earl Doorm by him he counted dead. And all the men and women in the hall Rose when they saw the dead man rise, and fled Yelling as from a spectre, and the two Were left alone together, and he said:
'Enid, I have used you worse than that dead man; Done you more wrong: we both have undergone That trouble which has left me thrice your own: Henceforward I will rather die than doubt. And here I lay this penance on myself, Not, though mine own ears heard you yestermorn— You thought me sleeping, but I heard you say, I heard you say, that you were no true wife: I swear I will not ask your meaning in it: I do believe yourself against yourself, And will henceforward rather die than doubt.'
And Enid could not say one tender word, She felt so blunt and stupid at the heart: She only prayed him, 'Fly, they will return And slay you; fly, your charger is without, My palfrey lost.' 'Then, Enid, shall you ride Behind me.' 'Yea,' said Enid, 'let us go.' And moving out they found the stately horse, Who now no more a vassal to the thief, But free to stretch his limbs in lawful fight, Neighed with all gladness as they came, and stooped With a low whinny toward the pair: and she Kissed the white star upon his noble front, Glad also; then Geraint upon the horse Mounted, and reached a hand, and on his foot She set her own and climbed; he turned his face And kissed her climbing, and she cast her arms About him, and at once they rode away.
And never yet, since high in Paradise O'er the four rivers the first roses blew, Came purer pleasure unto mortal kind Than lived through her, who in that perilous hour Put hand to hand beneath her husband's heart, And felt him hers again: she did not weep, But o'er her meek eyes came a happy mist Like that which kept the heart of Eden green Before the useful trouble of the rain: Yet not so misty were her meek blue eyes As not to see before them on the path, Right in the gateway of the bandit hold, A knight of Arthur's court, who laid his lance In rest, and made as if to fall upon him. Then, fearing for his hurt and loss of blood, She, with her mind all full of what had chanced, Shrieked to the stranger 'Slay not a dead man!' 'The voice of Enid,' said the knight; but she, Beholding it was Edyrn son of Nudd, Was moved so much the more, and shrieked again, 'O cousin, slay not him who gave you life.' And Edyrn moving frankly forward spake: 'My lord Geraint, I greet you with all love; I took you for a bandit knight of Doorm; And fear not, Enid, I should fall upon him, Who love you, Prince, with something of the love Wherewith we love the Heaven that chastens us. For once, when I was up so high in pride That I was halfway down the slope to Hell, By overthrowing me you threw me higher. Now, made a knight of Arthur's Table Round, And since I knew this Earl, when I myself Was half a bandit in my lawless hour, I come the mouthpiece of our King to Doorm (The King is close behind me) bidding him Disband himself, and scatter all his powers, Submit, and hear the judgment of the King.'
'He hears the judgment of the King of kings,' Cried the wan Prince; 'and lo, the powers of Doorm Are scattered,' and he pointed to the field, Where, huddled here and there on mound and knoll, Were men and women staring and aghast, While some yet fled; and then he plainlier told How the huge Earl lay slain within his hall. But when the knight besought him, 'Follow me, Prince, to the camp, and in the King's own ear Speak what has chanced; ye surely have endured Strange chances here alone;' that other flushed, And hung his head, and halted in reply, Fearing the mild face of the blameless King, And after madness acted question asked: Till Edyrn crying, 'If ye will not go To Arthur, then will Arthur come to you,' 'Enough,' he said, 'I follow,' and they went. But Enid in their going had two fears, One from the bandit scattered in the field, And one from Edyrn. Every now and then, When Edyrn reined his charger at her side, She shrank a little. In a hollow land, From which old fires have broken, men may fear Fresh fire and ruin. He, perceiving, said:
'Fair and dear cousin, you that most had cause To fear me, fear no longer, I am changed. Yourself were first the blameless cause to make My nature's prideful sparkle in the blood Break into furious flame; being repulsed By Yniol and yourself, I schemed and wrought Until I overturned him; then set up (With one main purpose ever at my heart) My haughty jousts, and took a paramour; Did her mock-honour as the fairest fair, And, toppling over all antagonism, So waxed in pride, that I believed myself Unconquerable, for I was wellnigh mad: And, but for my main purpose in these jousts, I should have slain your father, seized yourself. I lived in hope that sometime you would come To these my lists with him whom best you loved; And there, poor cousin, with your meek blue eyes The truest eyes that ever answered Heaven, Behold me overturn and trample on him. Then, had you cried, or knelt, or prayed to me, I should not less have killed him. And so you came,— But once you came,—and with your own true eyes Beheld the man you loved (I speak as one Speaks of a service done him) overthrow My proud self, and my purpose three years old, And set his foot upon me, and give me life. There was I broken down; there was I saved: Though thence I rode all-shamed, hating the life He gave me, meaning to be rid of it. And all the penance the Queen laid upon me Was but to rest awhile within her court; Where first as sullen as a beast new-caged, And waiting to be treated like a wolf, Because I knew my deeds were known, I found, Instead of scornful pity or pure scorn, Such fine reserve and noble reticence, Manners so kind, yet stately, such a grace Of tenderest courtesy, that I began To glance behind me at my former life, And find that it had been the wolf's indeed: And oft I talked with Dubric, the high saint, Who, with mild heat of holy oratory, Subdued me somewhat to that gentleness, Which, when it weds with manhood, makes a man. And you were often there about the Queen, But saw me not, or marked not if you saw; Nor did I care or dare to speak with you, But kept myself aloof till I was changed; And fear not, cousin; I am changed indeed.'
He spoke, and Enid easily believed, Like simple noble natures, credulous Of what they long for, good in friend or foe, There most in those who most have done them ill. And when they reached the camp the King himself Advanced to greet them, and beholding her Though pale, yet happy, asked her not a word, But went apart with Edyrn, whom he held In converse for a little, and returned, And, gravely smiling, lifted her from horse, And kissed her with all pureness, brother-like, And showed an empty tent allotted her, And glancing for a minute, till he saw her Pass into it, turned to the Prince, and said:
'Prince, when of late ye prayed me for my leave To move to your own land, and there defend Your marches, I was pricked with some reproof, As one that let foul wrong stagnate and be, By having looked too much through alien eyes, And wrought too long with delegated hands, Not used mine own: but now behold me come To cleanse this common sewer of all my realm, With Edyrn and with others: have ye looked At Edyrn? have ye seen how nobly changed? This work of his is great and wonderful. His very face with change of heart is changed. The world will not believe a man repents: And this wise world of ours is mainly right. Full seldom doth a man repent, or use Both grace and will to pick the vicious quitch Of blood and custom wholly out of him, And make all clean, and plant himself afresh. Edyrn has done it, weeding all his heart As I will weed this land before I go. I, therefore, made him of our Table Round, Not rashly, but have proved him everyway One of our noblest, our most valorous, Sanest and most obedient: and indeed This work of Edyrn wrought upon himself After a life of violence, seems to me A thousand-fold more great and wonderful Than if some knight of mine, risking his life, My subject with my subjects under him, Should make an onslaught single on a realm Of robbers, though he slew them one by one, And were himself nigh wounded to the death.'
So spake the King; low bowed the Prince, and felt His work was neither great nor wonderful, And past to Enid's tent; and thither came The King's own leech to look into his hurt; And Enid tended on him there; and there Her constant motion round him, and the breath Of her sweet tendance hovering over him, Filled all the genial courses of his blood With deeper and with ever deeper love, As the south-west that blowing Bala lake Fills all the sacred Dee. So past the days.
But while Geraint lay healing of his hurt, The blameless King went forth and cast his eyes On each of all whom Uther left in charge Long since, to guard the justice of the King: He looked and found them wanting; and as now Men weed the white horse on the Berkshire hills To keep him bright and clean as heretofore, He rooted out the slothful officer Or guilty, which for bribe had winked at wrong, And in their chairs set up a stronger race With hearts and hands, and sent a thousand men To till the wastes, and moving everywhere Cleared the dark places and let in the law, And broke the bandit holds and cleansed the land.
Then, when Geraint was whole again, they past With Arthur to Caerleon upon Usk. There the great Queen once more embraced her friend, And clothed her in apparel like the day. And though Geraint could never take again That comfort from their converse which he took Before the Queen's fair name was breathed upon, He rested well content that all was well. Thence after tarrying for a space they rode, And fifty knights rode with them to the shores Of Severn, and they past to their own land. And there he kept the justice of the King So vigorously yet mildly, that all hearts Applauded, and the spiteful whisper died: And being ever foremost in the chase, And victor at the tilt and tournament, They called him the great Prince and man of men. But Enid, whom her ladies loved to call Enid the Fair, a grateful people named Enid the Good; and in their halls arose The cry of children, Enids and Geraints Of times to be; nor did he doubt her more, But rested in her fealty, till he crowned A happy life with a fair death, and fell Against the heathen of the Northern Sea In battle, fighting for the blameless King.
Balin and Balan
Pellam the King, who held and lost with Lot In that first war, and had his realm restored But rendered tributary, failed of late To send his tribute; wherefore Arthur called His treasurer, one of many years, and spake, 'Go thou with him and him and bring it to us, Lest we should set one truer on his throne. Man's word is God in man.' His Baron said 'We go but harken: there be two strange knights Who sit near Camelot at a fountain-side, A mile beneath the forest, challenging And overthrowing every knight who comes. Wilt thou I undertake them as we pass, And send them to thee?' Arthur laughed upon him. 'Old friend, too old to be so young, depart, Delay not thou for aught, but let them sit, Until they find a lustier than themselves.'
So these departed. Early, one fair dawn, The light-winged spirit of his youth returned On Arthur's heart; he armed himself and went, So coming to the fountain-side beheld Balin and Balan sitting statuelike, Brethren, to right and left the spring, that down, From underneath a plume of lady-fern, Sang, and the sand danced at the bottom of it. And on the right of Balin Balin's horse Was fast beside an alder, on the left Of Balan Balan's near a poplartree. 'Fair Sirs,' said Arthur, 'wherefore sit ye here?' Balin and Balan answered 'For the sake Of glory; we be mightier men than all In Arthur's court; that also have we proved; For whatsoever knight against us came Or I or he have easily overthrown.' 'I too,' said Arthur, 'am of Arthur's hall, But rather proven in his Paynim wars Than famous jousts; but see, or proven or not, Whether me likewise ye can overthrow.' And Arthur lightly smote the brethren down, And lightly so returned, and no man knew.
Then Balin rose, and Balan, and beside The carolling water set themselves again, And spake no word until the shadow turned; When from the fringe of coppice round them burst A spangled pursuivant, and crying 'Sirs, Rise, follow! ye be sent for by the King,' They followed; whom when Arthur seeing asked 'Tell me your names; why sat ye by the well?' Balin the stillness of a minute broke Saying 'An unmelodious name to thee, Balin, "the Savage"—that addition thine— My brother and my better, this man here, Balan. I smote upon the naked skull A thrall of thine in open hall, my hand Was gauntleted, half slew him; for I heard He had spoken evil of me; thy just wrath Sent me a three-years' exile from thine eyes. I have not lived my life delightsomely: For I that did that violence to thy thrall, Had often wrought some fury on myself, Saving for Balan: those three kingless years Have past—were wormwood-bitter to me. King, Methought that if we sat beside the well, And hurled to ground what knight soever spurred Against us, thou would'st take me gladlier back, And make, as ten-times worthier to be thine Than twenty Balins, Balan knight. I have said. Not so—not all. A man of thine today Abashed us both, and brake my boast. Thy will?' Said Arthur 'Thou hast ever spoken truth; Thy too fierce manhood would not let thee lie. Rise, my true knight. As children learn, be thou Wiser for falling! walk with me, and move To music with thine Order and the King. Thy chair, a grief to all the brethren, stands Vacant, but thou retake it, mine again!'
Thereafter, when Sir Balin entered hall, The Lost one Found was greeted as in Heaven With joy that blazed itself in woodland wealth Of leaf, and gayest garlandage of flowers, Along the walls and down the board; they sat, And cup clashed cup; they drank and some one sang, Sweet-voiced, a song of welcome, whereupon Their common shout in chorus, mounting, made Those banners of twelve battles overhead Stir, as they stirred of old, when Arthur's host Proclaimed him Victor, and the day was won.
Then Balan added to their Order lived A wealthier life than heretofore with these And Balin, till their embassage returned.
'Sir King' they brought report 'we hardly found, So bushed about it is with gloom, the hall Of him to whom ye sent us, Pellam, once A Christless foe of thine as ever dashed Horse against horse; but seeing that thy realm Hath prospered in the name of Christ, the King Took, as in rival heat, to holy things; And finds himself descended from the Saint Arimathaean Joseph; him who first Brought the great faith to Britain over seas; He boasts his life as purer than thine own; Eats scarce enow to keep his pulse abeat; Hath pushed aside his faithful wife, nor lets Or dame or damsel enter at his gates Lest he should be polluted. This gray King Showed us a shrine wherein were wonders—yea— Rich arks with priceless bones of martyrdom, Thorns of the crown and shivers of the cross, And therewithal (for thus he told us) brought By holy Joseph thither, that same spear Wherewith the Roman pierced the side of Christ. He much amazed us; after, when we sought The tribute, answered "I have quite foregone All matters of this world: Garlon, mine heir, Of him demand it," which this Garlon gave With much ado, railing at thine and thee.
'But when we left, in those deep woods we found A knight of thine spear-stricken from behind, Dead, whom we buried; more than one of us Cried out on Garlon, but a woodman there Reported of some demon in the woods Was once a man, who driven by evil tongues From all his fellows, lived alone, and came To learn black magic, and to hate his kind With such a hate, that when he died, his soul Became a Fiend, which, as the man in life Was wounded by blind tongues he saw not whence, Strikes from behind. This woodman showed the cave From which he sallies, and wherein he dwelt. We saw the hoof-print of a horse, no more.'
Then Arthur, 'Let who goes before me, see He do not fall behind me: foully slain And villainously! who will hunt for me This demon of the woods?' Said Balan, 'I'! So claimed the quest and rode away, but first, Embracing Balin, 'Good my brother, hear! Let not thy moods prevail, when I am gone Who used to lay them! hold them outer fiends, Who leap at thee to tear thee; shake them aside, Dreams ruling when wit sleeps! yea, but to dream That any of these would wrong thee, wrongs thyself. Witness their flowery welcome. Bound are they To speak no evil. Truly save for fears, My fears for thee, so rich a fellowship Would make me wholly blest: thou one of them, Be one indeed: consider them, and all Their bearing in their common bond of love, No more of hatred than in Heaven itself, No more of jealousy than in Paradise.'
So Balan warned, and went; Balin remained: Who—for but three brief moons had glanced away From being knighted till he smote the thrall, And faded from the presence into years Of exile—now would strictlier set himself To learn what Arthur meant by courtesy, Manhood, and knighthood; wherefore hovered round Lancelot, but when he marked his high sweet smile In passing, and a transitory word Make knight or churl or child or damsel seem From being smiled at happier in themselves— Sighed, as a boy lame-born beneath a height, That glooms his valley, sighs to see the peak Sun-flushed, or touch at night the northern star; For one from out his village lately climed And brought report of azure lands and fair, Far seen to left and right; and he himself Hath hardly scaled with help a hundred feet Up from the base: so Balin marvelling oft How far beyond him Lancelot seemed to move, Groaned, and at times would mutter, 'These be gifts, Born with the blood, not learnable, divine, Beyond my reach. Well had I foughten—well— In those fierce wars, struck hard—and had I crowned With my slain self the heaps of whom I slew— So—better!—But this worship of the Queen, That honour too wherein she holds him—this, This was the sunshine that hath given the man A growth, a name that branches o'er the rest, And strength against all odds, and what the King So prizes—overprizes—gentleness. Her likewise would I worship an I might. I never can be close with her, as he That brought her hither. Shall I pray the King To let me bear some token of his Queen Whereon to gaze, remembering her—forget My heats and violences? live afresh? What, if the Queen disdained to grant it! nay Being so stately-gentle, would she make My darkness blackness? and with how sweet grace She greeted my return! Bold will I be— Some goodly cognizance of Guinevere, In lieu of this rough beast upon my shield, Langued gules, and toothed with grinning savagery.'
And Arthur, when Sir Balin sought him, said 'What wilt thou bear?' Balin was bold, and asked To bear her own crown-royal upon shield, Whereat she smiled and turned her to the King, Who answered 'Thou shalt put the crown to use. The crown is but the shadow of the King, And this a shadow's shadow, let him have it, So this will help him of his violences!' 'No shadow' said Sir Balin 'O my Queen, But light to me! no shadow, O my King, But golden earnest of a gentler life!'
So Balin bare the crown, and all the knights Approved him, and the Queen, and all the world Made music, and he felt his being move In music with his Order, and the King.
The nightingale, full-toned in middle May, Hath ever and anon a note so thin It seems another voice in other groves; Thus, after some quick burst of sudden wrath, The music in him seemed to change, and grow Faint and far-off. And once he saw the thrall His passion half had gauntleted to death, That causer of his banishment and shame, Smile at him, as he deemed, presumptuously: His arm half rose to strike again, but fell: The memory of that cognizance on shield Weighted it down, but in himself he moaned:
'Too high this mount of Camelot for me: These high-set courtesies are not for me. Shall I not rather prove the worse for these? Fierier and stormier from restraining, break Into some madness even before the Queen?'
Thus, as a hearth lit in a mountain home, And glancing on the window, when the gloom Of twilight deepens round it, seems a flame That rages in the woodland far below, So when his moods were darkened, court and King And all the kindly warmth of Arthur's hall Shadowed an angry distance: yet he strove To learn the graces of their Table, fought Hard with himself, and seemed at length in peace.
Then chanced, one morning, that Sir Balin sat Close-bowered in that garden nigh the hall. A walk of roses ran from door to door; A walk of lilies crost it to the bower: And down that range of roses the great Queen Came with slow steps, the morning on her face; And all in shadow from the counter door Sir Lancelot as to meet her, then at once, As if he saw not, glanced aside, and paced The long white walk of lilies toward the bower. Followed the Queen; Sir Balin heard her 'Prince, Art thou so little loyal to thy Queen, As pass without good morrow to thy Queen?' To whom Sir Lancelot with his eyes on earth, 'Fain would I still be loyal to the Queen.' 'Yea so' she said 'but so to pass me by— So loyal scarce is loyal to thyself, Whom all men rate the king of courtesy. Let be: ye stand, fair lord, as in a dream.'
Then Lancelot with his hand among the flowers 'Yea—for a dream. Last night methought I saw That maiden Saint who stands with lily in hand In yonder shrine. All round her prest the dark, And all the light upon her silver face Flowed from the spiritual lily that she held. Lo! these her emblems drew mine eyes—away: For see, how perfect-pure! As light a flush As hardly tints the blossom of the quince Would mar their charm of stainless maidenhood.'
'Sweeter to me' she said 'this garden rose Deep-hued and many-folded! sweeter still The wild-wood hyacinth and the bloom of May. Prince, we have ridden before among the flowers In those fair days—not all as cool as these, Though season-earlier. Art thou sad? or sick? Our noble King will send thee his own leech— Sick? or for any matter angered at me?'
Then Lancelot lifted his large eyes; they dwelt Deep-tranced on hers, and could not fall: her hue Changed at his gaze: so turning side by side They past, and Balin started from his bower.
'Queen? subject? but I see not what I see. Damsel and lover? hear not what I hear. My father hath begotten me in his wrath. I suffer from the things before me, know, Learn nothing; am not worthy to be knight; A churl, a clown!' and in him gloom on gloom Deepened: he sharply caught his lance and shield, Nor stayed to crave permission of the King, But, mad for strange adventure, dashed away.
He took the selfsame track as Balan, saw The fountain where they sat together, sighed 'Was I not better there with him?' and rode The skyless woods, but under open blue Came on the hoarhead woodman at a bough Wearily hewing. 'Churl, thine axe!' he cried, Descended, and disjointed it at a blow: To whom the woodman uttered wonderingly 'Lord, thou couldst lay the Devil of these woods If arm of flesh could lay him.' Balin cried 'Him, or the viler devil who plays his part, To lay that devil would lay the Devil in me.' 'Nay' said the churl, 'our devil is a truth, I saw the flash of him but yestereven. And some do say that our Sir Garlon too Hath learned black magic, and to ride unseen. Look to the cave.' But Balin answered him 'Old fabler, these be fancies of the churl, Look to thy woodcraft,' and so leaving him, Now with slack rein and careless of himself, Now with dug spur and raving at himself, Now with droopt brow down the long glades he rode; So marked not on his right a cavern-chasm Yawn over darkness, where, nor far within, The whole day died, but, dying, gleamed on rocks Roof-pendent, sharp; and others from the floor, Tusklike, arising, made that mouth of night Whereout the Demon issued up from Hell. He marked not this, but blind and deaf to all Save that chained rage, which ever yelpt within, Past eastward from the falling sun. At once He felt the hollow-beaten mosses thud And tremble, and then the shadow of a spear, Shot from behind him, ran along the ground. Sideways he started from the path, and saw, With pointed lance as if to pierce, a shape, A light of armour by him flash, and pass And vanish in the woods; and followed this, But all so blind in rage that unawares He burst his lance against a forest bough, Dishorsed himself, and rose again, and fled Far, till the castle of a King, the hall Of Pellam, lichen-bearded, grayly draped With streaming grass, appeared, low-built but strong; The ruinous donjon as a knoll of moss, The battlement overtopt with ivytods, A home of bats, in every tower an owl. Then spake the men of Pellam crying 'Lord, Why wear ye this crown-royal upon shield?' Said Balin 'For the fairest and the best Of ladies living gave me this to bear.' So stalled his horse, and strode across the court, But found the greetings both of knight and King Faint in the low dark hall of banquet: leaves Laid their green faces flat against the panes, Sprays grated, and the cankered boughs without Whined in the wood; for all was hushed within, Till when at feast Sir Garlon likewise asked 'Why wear ye that crown-royal?' Balin said 'The Queen we worship, Lancelot, I, and all, As fairest, best and purest, granted me To bear it!' Such a sound (for Arthur's knights Were hated strangers in the hall) as makes The white swan-mother, sitting, when she hears A strange knee rustle through her secret reeds, Made Garlon, hissing; then he sourly smiled. 'Fairest I grant her: I have seen; but best, Best, purest? thou from Arthur's hall, and yet So simple! hast thou eyes, or if, are these So far besotted that they fail to see This fair wife-worship cloaks a secret shame? Truly, ye men of Arthur be but babes.'
A goblet on the board by Balin, bossed With holy Joseph's legend, on his right Stood, all of massiest bronze: one side had sea And ship and sail and angels blowing on it: And one was rough with wattling, and the walls Of that low church he built at Glastonbury. This Balin graspt, but while in act to hurl, Through memory of that token on the shield Relaxed his hold: 'I will be gentle' he thought 'And passing gentle' caught his hand away, Then fiercely to Sir Garlon 'Eyes have I That saw today the shadow of a spear, Shot from behind me, run along the ground; Eyes too that long have watched how Lancelot draws From homage to the best and purest, might, Name, manhood, and a grace, but scantly thine, Who, sitting in thine own hall, canst endure To mouth so huge a foulness—to thy guest, Me, me of Arthur's Table. Felon talk! Let be! no more!' But not the less by night The scorn of Garlon, poisoning all his rest, Stung him in dreams. At length, and dim through leaves Blinkt the white morn, sprays grated, and old boughs Whined in the wood. He rose, descended, met The scorner in the castle court, and fain, For hate and loathing, would have past him by; But when Sir Garlon uttered mocking-wise; 'What, wear ye still that same crown-scandalous?' His countenance blackened, and his forehead veins Bloated, and branched; and tearing out of sheath The brand, Sir Balin with a fiery 'Ha! So thou be shadow, here I make thee ghost,' Hard upon helm smote him, and the blade flew Splintering in six, and clinkt upon the stones. Then Garlon, reeling slowly backward, fell, And Balin by the banneret of his helm Dragged him, and struck, but from the castle a cry Sounded across the court, and—men-at-arms, A score with pointed lances, making at him— He dashed the pummel at the foremost face, Beneath a low door dipt, and made his feet Wings through a glimmering gallery, till he marked The portal of King Pellam's chapel wide And inward to the wall; he stept behind; Thence in a moment heard them pass like wolves Howling; but while he stared about the shrine, In which he scarce could spy the Christ for Saints, Beheld before a golden altar lie The longest lance his eyes had ever seen, Point-painted red; and seizing thereupon Pushed through an open casement down, leaned on it, Leapt in a semicircle, and lit on earth; Then hand at ear, and harkening from what side The blindfold rummage buried in the walls Might echo, ran the counter path, and found His charger, mounted on him and away. An arrow whizzed to the right, one to the left, One overhead; and Pellam's feeble cry 'Stay, stay him! he defileth heavenly things With earthly uses'—made him quickly dive Beneath the boughs, and race through many a mile Of dense and open, till his goodly horse, Arising wearily at a fallen oak, Stumbled headlong, and cast him face to ground.