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But answer'd 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 answer'd 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 answer'd. 'Here !'
(And fill'd a horn with wine and held it to her,) Lo! I, myself, when flush'd 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 your 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 turn'd all red and paced his hall, Now gnaw'd his under, now his upper lip, And coming up close to her, said at last;
'Girl, for I see you scorn my courtesies, Take warning: yonder man is surely dead; And I compel all creatures to my will.
Nor 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 you 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 you 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 Display'd a splendid silk of foreign loom, Where like a shoaling sea the lovely blue Play'd 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 answer'd, 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 array'd me like the sun : In this poor gown he bade me clothe myself, When now we rode upon this fatal quest Of honour, where no honour can be gain'd: 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 thro' 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 thro' the swarthy neck, and like a ball The russet-bearded head roll'd 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
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, tho' mine own ears heard you yester-morn
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,
Neigh'd with all gladness as they came, and stoop'd
With a low whinny toward the pair: and she
Kiss'd the white star upon his noble front,
Glad also; then Geraint upon the horse
Mounted, and reach'd a hand, and on his foot
She set her own and climb'd; he turn'd his face
And kiss'd 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 thro' 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,
Shriek'd 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 shriek'd 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 scatter'd,' 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; you surely have endured
Strange chances here alone;' that other flush'd,
And hung his head, and halted in reply,
Fearing the mild face of the blameless King,
And after madness acted question ask'd:
Till Edyrn crying, 'If you will not go