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And all in passion uttering a dry shriek,
Dash'd on Geraint, who closed with him, and bore
Down by the length of lance and arm beyond
The crupper, and so left him stunn'd or dead,
And overthrew the next that follow'd him,
And blindly rush'd on all the rout behind.
But at the flash and motion of the man
They vanish'd 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 you, shall we strip him there Your lover? has your palfrey heart enough To bear his armour? shall we fast, or dine? No? then do you, 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 prick'd
In combat with the follower of Limours,
Bled underneath his armour secretly,
And so rode on, nor told his gentle wife
What ail'd him, hardly knowing it himself,
Till his eye darken'd and his helmet wagg'd;
And at a sudden swerving of the road,
Tho' 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 drain'd her dear lord's
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 murder'd 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 scour'd 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 answer'd in all haste.
'Would some of your kind 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
Why wail you for him thus? you seem a child.
And be he dead, I count you for a fool;
Your wailing will not quicken him: dead or not,
You 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,
He spake, and past away,
But left two brawny spearmen, who advanced,
Each growling like a dog, when his good bone
Seems to be pluck'd 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 growl'd,
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
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. And at the last he waken'd 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 feign'd 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 return'd The huge Earl Doorm with plunder to the hall. His lusty spearmen follow'd him with noise: Each hurling down a heap of things that rang Against the pavement, cast his lance aside, And doff'd his helm: and then there flutter'd in, Half-bold, half-frighted, with dilated eyes, A tribe of women, dress'd in many hues, And mingled with the spearmen: and Earl Doorm Struck with a knife's haft hard against the board, And call'd 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 Doorin had eaten all he would,
He roll❜d his eyes about the hall, and found
A damsel drooping in a corner of it.
Then he remember'd 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
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 you 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 unswallow'd piece, and turning stared;
While some, whose souls the old serpent long had drawn
Down, as the worm draws in the wither'd leaf
And makes it earth, hiss'd 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,