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He spake and parted. Wroth but all | “Nay," said he, “surely.” “Wherein awe,
fore, let me hence," For twenty strokes of the blood, without She answer'd, “and find out our dear a word,
Lavaine." Linger'd that other, staring after him ; “Ye will not lose your wits for dear Then shook his hair, strode off, and Lavaine : buzz'd abroad
Bide," answer'd he: “we needs must About the maid of Astolat, and her love. hear anon All ears were prick'd at once, all tongues Of him, and of that other." “Ay," she were loosed :
said, “The maid of Astolat loves Sir Lancelot, “ And of that other, for I needs must hence Sir Lancelot loves the maid of Astolat.” And find that other, wheresoe'er he be, Some read the King's face, some the And with mineown hand give his diamond Queen's, and all
to him, Had marvel what the maid might be, but Lest I be found as faithless in the quest most
As yon proud Prince who left the quest Predoom'd her as unworthy. One old to me. dame
Sweet father, I behold him in my dreams Came suddenly on the Queen with the | Gaunt as it were the skeleton of himself, sharp news.
Death-pale, forlack of gentle maiden'said. She, that had heard the noise of it before, The gentler-born the maiden, the more But sorrowing Lancelot should have bound, stoop'd so low,
My father, to be sweet and serviceable Marr'd her friend's point with pale tran- To noble knights in sickness, as ye know, quillity.
When these have worn their tokens : let So ran the tale like fire about the court, me hence Fire in dry stubble a nine days' wonder I pray you." Then her father nodding flared :
said, Till ev'n the knights at banquet twice or “Ay, ay, the diamond: wit you well, my thrice
child, Forgot to drink to Lancelot and the Right fain were 1 to learn this knight Queen,
were whole, And pledging Lancelot and the lily maid | Being our greatest : yea, and you must Smiled at each other, while the Queen give itwho sat
And sure I think this fruit is hung too high With lips severely placid felt the knot Forany mouth togape forsave a Queen's -Climb in her throat, and with her feet Nay, I mean nothing : so then, get you unseen
gone, Crush'd the wild passion or' against the Being so very wilful you must go."
Beneath the banquet, where the meats Lightly, her suit allow'd, she slipt away, became
And while she made her ready for her ride, As wormwood, and she hated all who Her father's latest word humm'din her ear, pledged.
“Being so very wilful you must go,"
And changed itself and echoed in her But far away the maid in Astolat,
heart, Her guiltless rival, she that ever kept “Being so very wilful you must die." The one-day-seen Sir Lancelot in her But she was hapiny enough and shook it off, heart,
As we shake off the bee that buzzes at us ; Crept to lier father, while he mused alone, And in her heart she answer'd it and said, Sat on his knee, stroked his gray face and “What matter, so I help him back to
life?" “Father, you call me wilful, and the Then faraway with good Sir Torre for guide fault
Rode o'er the long backs of the bushless Is yours wholet melave my will, and now, downs Sweet father, will you let me lose my To Camelot, and before the city-gates
| Came on her brother with a happy face
Making a roan horse caper and curvet | And laid the diamond in his open hand. For pleasure all about a field of flowers : Her face was near, and as we kiss the child Whom when she saw, “Lavaine,” she That does the task assign'd, he kiss'd her cried, “Lavaine,
face. How fares my lord Sir Lancelot ?" He At once she slipt like water to the floor. amazed,
| “Alas," he said, “your ride has wearied “Torre and Elaine ! why here ? Sir Lan you. celot!
Rest must you have." "No rest for How know ye mylord's name is Lancelot ?" me," she said ; But when the maid had told him all her “Nay, for near you, fair lord, I am at rest.” tale,
What might she mean by that? his large Then turn'd Sir Torre, and being in his black eyes, moods
Yet larger thro' his leanness, dwelt upon Left them, and under the strange-statued
Till all her heart's sad secret blazed itself Where Arthur's wars were render'd mys In the heart's colors on her simple face ; tically,
And Lancelot look'd and was perplext in Past up the still rich city to his kin,
mind, His own far blood, which dwelt at Came- And being weak in body said no more ; lot:
But did not love the color ; woman's love, And her, Lavaine across the poplar grove Save one, he not regarded, and so Led to the caves : there first she saw the turn'd casque
Sighing, and feign'd a sleep until he slept. Of Lancelot on the wall: her scarlet sleeve, Tho' carved and cut, and half the pearls Then rose Elaine and glided thro' the away,
fields, Stream'd from it still ; and in her heart and past beneath the wildly-sculptured she laugh'd,
gates Because he had not loosed it from his helm, Far up the dim rich city to her kin; But meant once more perchance to tour. There bode the night but woke with ney in it.
dawn, and past And when they gain'd the cell in which Down thro' the dim rich city to the fields, he slept,
Thence to the cave: so day by day she past His battle-writhen arms and mighty In either twilight ghost-like to and fro hands
Gliding, and every day she tended him, Lay naked on the wolfskin, and a dream And likewise many a night: and Lancelot Of dragging down his enemy made them Would, tho' he call'd his wound a little move.
hurt Then she that saw him lying unsleek, Whereof he should be quickly whole, at unshorn,
times Gaunt as it were the skeleton of himself, Brain-feverous in his heat and agony, seem Uttered a little tender dolorous cry. Uncourteous, even he: but the meck maid The sound not wonted in a place so still Sweetly forebore him ever, being to him Woke the sick knight, and while he rollid Meeker than any child to a idugh nurse, his eyes
Milder than any mother to a sick child, Yet blank from sleep, she started to him, And never woman yet, since man's first saying
fall, “Your prize the diamond sent you by Did kindlier unto man, but her deep love the King":
Upbore her ; till the hermit, skill'd in all His eyes glisten'd: she fancied “is it for the simples and the science of that time,
Told him that her fine care had saved his And when the maid had told him all the life. tale
And the sick man forgot her simple blush, Of King and Prince, the diamond sent, Would call her friend and sister, sweet the quest
Elaine, Assign'd to her not worthy of it, she knelt Would listen for her coming and regret Full lowly by the corners of his bed, Her parting step, and held her tenderly,
And loved her with all love except the love | Then if the maiden, while that ghostly Of man and woman when they love their grace best
Beam'd on his fancy, spoke, he answer'd Closest and sweetest, and had died the not, death
Or short and coldly, and she knew right In any knightly fashion for her sake.
well And peradventure had he seen her first What the rough sickness meant, but what She might have made this and that other this meant world
She knew not, and the sorrow dimm'd Another world for the sick man ; but now her sight, The shackles of an old love straiten'd | And drave her ere her time across the fields him,
Far into the rich city, where alone His honor rooted in dishonor stood, She murmur'd “vain, in vain : it can. And faith unfaithful kept him falsely true. not be.
He will not love me : how then? must Yet the great knight in his mid-sick
I die." ness made
Then as a little helpless innocent bird, Full mnany a holy vow and pure resolve. That has but one plain passage of few notes, These, as but born of sickness, could not Will sing the simple passage o'er and o'er live :
For all an April morning, till the ear For when the blood ran lustier in him Wearies to hear it, so the simple maid again,
| Went half the night repeating, “must Full often the sweet image of one face,
I die?" Making a treacherous quiet in his heart, And now to right she turn'd, and now Dispersed his resolution like a cloud,
Aud found no ease in turning or in rest; | But like a ghost without the power to And “him or death" she mutter'd, “death or him,"
And Lancelot saw that she withheld her Again and like a burthen, “him or death." wish,
And bode among them yet a little space But when Sir Lancelot's deadly hurt | Till he should learn it; and one morn was whole,
it chanced To Astolat returning rode the three. He found her in among the garden yews, There morn by morn, arraying her sweet And said, “Delay no longer, speak your self
wish, In that wherein she deem'd she look'd Seeing I must go to-day" : then out sho her best,
I brake; She came before Sir Lancelot, for she “Going? and we shall never see you more. thought
And I must die for want of one bold word.” “If I be loved, these are my festal robes, “Speak : that I live to hear," he said, If not, the victim's flowers before he fall.” “is yours." And Lancelot ever prest upon the maid Then suddenly and passionately she That she should ask some goodly gift of spoke : him
“I have gone mad. I love you : let For herown self or hers; "and do not shun
me die." To speak the wish most dear to your " Ah, sister,” answer'd Lancelot, “what true heart;
is this?" Such service have ye done me, that I | Andinnocently extending her white arms, make
“Your love,” she said, "your love - to My will of yours, and Prince and Lordam I be your wife." In inine own land, and what I will I can." And Lancelot answer'd, “Had I chos'p Then like a ghost she lifted up her face, to wed,
I had been wedded earlier, sweet Elaine :, I fear me, that will strike my blossom dead. But now there never will be wifeof mine." Too courteous are you, fair Lord Lancelot. “No, no," she cried, “I care not to be I pray you, use some rough discourtesy wife,
To blunt or break her passion.” But to be with you still, to see your face,
Lancelot said, To serve you, and to follow you thro’ the “That were against me : what I can I world.”
will" ; And Lancelot answer'd, “Nay, the And there that day remain'd, and toward world, the world,
even All ear and eye, with such a stupid heart Sent for his shield : full meekly rose the Tointerpret ear andeye, and such a tongue maid, To blare its own interpretation - nay, Stript off the case, and gave the naked Full ill then should I quit your brother's shield;
Then, when she heard his horse upon And your good father's kindness.” And the stones, she said
Unclasping flung the casement back, and “Not to be with you, not to see your face
look'd Alas for me then, my good days are done." Down on his helm, from which her sleeve ble maid. " he answer'd, “ten
had gone. times nay !
| And Lancelot knew the little clinking This is not love': but love's first flash in sound; youth,
And she by tact of love was well aware Most common : yea I know it of mine That Lancelot knew that she was looking own self :
at him. And you yourself will smile at your own And yet he glanced not up, nor wavel
his hand, Hereafter, when you yield your flower Nor bade farewell, but sadly rode away. of life
This was the one discourtesy that he useil. To one more fitly yours, not thrice your age :
So in her tower alone the maiden sat : And then will I, for true you are and His very shield was goue ; only the case, sweet
| Herown poor work, her empty labor, left. Beyond mine old belief in womanhood, | But still she heard him, still his picture More speciaily should your good knight formid be poor,
And grew between her and the pictured Endow you with broad land and territory wall. Even to the half iny realm beyond the seas, Then came her father, saying in low tones So that would make you happy : further | “Have comfort,” whom she greeted more,
quietly. Ev'n to the death, as tho' ye were my | Then came her brethren saying, “ Peace blood,
to thee In all your quarrels will I be your knight. Sweet sister," whom she answer'd with This will I do, dear damsel, for your sake, all calm. And more than this I cannot.”
But when they left her to lierself again,
While he spoke Death, like a friend's voice from a distant She neither blush'd nor shook, but field deathly pale
Approaching thro' the darkness, call'd ; Stood grasping what was nearest, then the owls replied;
Wailing had power upon her, and she mixt “Of all this will I nothing"; and so fell, Her fancies with the sallow-risteil glooms And thus they bore her swooning to her Of evening, and the moanings of the wind. tower.
And in those days she made a little song, Then spake, to whom thro' those black And call’d her song “The Song of Love walls of yew
and Death," Their talk had pierced, her father. “Ay, And sang it: sweetly could she make a flash,