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These two things shalt thou do, or else thou
First, thou thyself, thy lady, and thy dwarf,
Shalt ride to Arthur's court, and being 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 answer'd, '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 himself, and grew
To hate the sin that seem'd so like his own
Of Modred, Arthur's nephew, 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 seem'd 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 look'd so mean.
For as a leaf in mid-November is
To what it was in mid-October, seem'd
The dress that now she look'd on to the dress
She look'd on ere the coming of Geraint.
And still she look'd, 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 seem'd 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 branch'd and flower'd 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 sack'd their house,
And scatter'd all they had to all the winds:
For while the mother show'd it, and the two
Were turning and admiring it, the work
To both appear'd 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 wish'd
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 patch'd and blurr'd and lustreless
Among his burnish'd 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 burnish'd sisters of the pool;
But this was in the garden of a king;
And tho' 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 look'd
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 gambol'd 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 overshadow'd 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 you know it.'
And Enid look'd; but all confused at first, Could scarce divide it from her foolish dream: Then suddenly she knew it and rejoiced, And answer'd, '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 thro' the town, and everywhere
He found the sack and plunder of our house
All scatter'd thro' the houses of the town;
And gave command that all which once was ours,
Should now be ours again: and yester-eve,
While you 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 slipt from sun to shade,
And all thro' that young traitor, cruel need
Constrain'd us, but a better time has come;
So clothe yourself in this, that better fits
Our mended fortunes and a Prince's bride:
For tho' you won the prize of fairest fair,
And tho' 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 pick'd a ragged-robin from the hedge,
And like a madman brought her to the court,
Then were you shamed, and, worse, might shame
To whom we are beholden; but I know,
When my dear child is set forth at her best,
That neither court nor country, tho' they sought Thro' 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 listen'd 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, Help'd by the mother's careful hand and eye, Without a mirror, in the gorgeous gown; Who, after, turn'd her daughter round, and said, She never yet had seen her half so fair; And call'd 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 Cæsar 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 call'd 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 answer'd; 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 abash'd she knew not why,