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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

He is committed to the care of Ywain


[_Lancelot, still under the tutelage of the Lady of the Lake and ignorant of his own parentage, has met his cousins, Lionel and Bors, and has been greatly drawn to them._]

[Sidenote: Illustrative extracts translated from the "Vulgate." The youth of Lancelot.]

Now turns herself the Lady back to the Lake, and takes the children with her. And when she had gone[44] a good way, she called Lancelot a little way off the road and said to him very kindly, "King's son,[45] how wast thou so bold as to call Lionel thy cousin? for he _is_ a king's son, and of not a little more worth and gentry than men think." "Lady," said he, who was right ashamed, "so came the word into my mouth by adventure that I never took any heed of it." "Now tell me," said she, "by the faith thou owest me, which thinkest thou to be the greater gentleman, thyself or him?" "Lady," said he, "you have adjured me strongly, for I owe no one such faith as I owe you, my lady and my mother: nor know I how much of a gentleman I am by lineage. But, by the faith I owe you, I would not myself deign to be abashed at that for which I saw him weep.[46] And they have told me that all men have sprung from one man and one woman: nor know I for what reason one has more gentry than another, unless he win it by prowess, even as lands and other honours. But

know you for very truth that if greatness of heart made a gentleman I would think yet to be one of the greatest." "Verily, fair son," said the Lady, "it shall appear. And I say to you that you lose nothing of being one of the best gentlemen in the world, if your heart fail you not." "How, Lady!" said he, "say you this truly, _as_ my lady?" And she said, "Yes, without fail." "Lady," said he, "blessed be you of God, that you said it to me so soon [_or_ as soon as you have said it]. For to that will you make me come which I never thought to attain. Nor had I so much desire of anything as of possessing gentry."

[_The first meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere. The Lady of the Lake has prevailed upon the King to dub Lancelot on St. John's Day (Midsummer, not Christmas). His protectress departing, he is committed to the care of Ywain, and a conversation arises about him. The Queen asks to see him._]

[Sidenote: The first meeting of Lancelot and Guinevere.]

Then bid he [the King] Monseigneur[47] Ywain that he should go and look for Lancelot. "And let him be equipped as handsomely as you know is proper: for well know I that he has plenty." Then the King himself told the Queen how the Lady of the Lake had requested that he would not make Lancelot knight save in his own arms and dress. And the Queen marvelled much at this, and thought long till she saw him. So Messire Ywain went to the Childe [_vallet_] and had him clothed and equipped in the best way he could: and when he saw that nothing could be bettered, he led him to Court on his own horse, which was right fair. But he brought him not quietly. For there was so much people about that the whole street was full: and the news was spread through all the town that the fair Childe who came yester eve should be a knight to-morrow, and was now coming to Court in knightly garb. Then sprang to the windows they of the town, both men and women. And when they saw him pass they said that never had they seen so fair a Childe-knight. So he came to the Court and alighted from his horse: and the news of him spread through hall and chamber; and knights and dames and damsels hurried forth. And even the King and the Queen went to the windows. So when the Childe had dismounted, Messire Ywain took him by the hand, and led him by it up to the Hall.


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