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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-broider'd 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 he caught, and sweetly said.
'O my new mother, be not wroth or grieved
At your 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 reach'd this ruin'd hold,
Beholding one so bright in dark estate,
I vow'd that could I gain her, our kind 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; for I wish the two
To love each other: how should Enid find
A nobler friend? Another thought I had;
I came among you here so suddenly,
That tho' her gentle presence at the lists
Might well have served for proof that I was loved,
I doubted whether filial tenderness,
Or easy nature, did 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 dangerous glories: and I thought,
That could I someway prove such force in her
Link'd 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 custom; 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 learn'd to lisp you
He spoke the mother smiled, but half in tears, Then brought a mantle down and wrapt her in it, And claspt and kiss'd her, and they rode away.
Now thrice that morning Guinevere had climb❜d 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 Look'd 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 array'd herself therein.
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, thro' 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 you ride before, Ever a good way on before; and this. I charge you, on your 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 hurl'd it toward the squire. So the last sight that Enid had of home Was all the marble threshold flashing, strown With gold and scatter'd coinage, and the squire
Chafing his shoulder: then he cried again,
To the wilds!' and Enid leading down the tracks
Thro' which he bade her lead him on, they past
The marches, and by bandit-haunted holes,
Gray swamps and pools, waste places of the hern,
And wildernesses, perilous paths, they rode:
Round was their pace at first, but slacken'd soon:
A stranger meeting them had surely thought,
They rode so slowly and they look'd so pale,
That each had suffer'd 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
In every 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 arm'd, 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 ponder'd 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 liever 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.
Your silence or your warning? one command
I laid upon you, not to speak to me,
And thus you keep it! Well then, look — for
Whether you 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 thro' his breast
And out beyond; and then against his brace
Of comrades, each of whom had broken on him
A lance that splinter'd like an icicle,
Swung from his brand a windy buffet out
Once, twice, to right, to left, and stunn'd 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