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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

So she asked Monseigneur Ywain what was the Childe's name


The King and the Queen came to meet him: and both took him by his two hands and went to seat themselves on a couch: while the Childe seated himself before them on the fresh green grass with which the Hall was spread. And the King gazed on him right willingly: for if he had seemed fair at his first coming, it was nothing to the beauty that he now had. And the King thought he had mightily grown in stature and thews.[48] So the Queen prayed that God might make him a man of worth, "for right plenty of beauty has He given him," and she looked at the Childe very sweetly: and so did he at her as often as he could covertly direct his eyes towards her. Also marvelled he much how such great beauty as he saw appear in her could come: for neither that of his lady, the Lady of the Lake, nor of any woman that he had ever seen, did he prize aught as compared with hers. And no wrong had he if he valued no other lady against the Queen: for she was the Lady of Ladies and the Fountain of Beauty. But if he had known the great worthiness that was in her he would have been still more fain to gaze on her. For none, neither poor nor rich, was her equal.

So she asked Monseigneur Ywain what was the Childe's name, and he answered that he knew not. "And know you," said she, "whose son he is and of what birth?" "Lady," said he, "nay, except I know so much

as that he is of the land of Gaul. For his speech bewrayeth him."[49] Then the Queen took him by the hand and asked him of whom he came. And when he felt it [the touch] he shuddered as though roused from sleep, and thought of her so hard that he knew not what she said to him. And she perceived that he was much abashed, and so asked him a second time, "Tell me whence you come." So he looked at her very sheepishly and said, with a sigh, that he knew not. And she asked him what was his name; and he answered that he knew not that. So now the Queen saw well that he was abashed and _overthought_.[50] But she dared not think that it was for her: and nevertheless she had some suspicion of it, and so dropped the talk. But that she might not make the disorder of his mind worse, she rose from her seat and, in order that no one might think any evil or perceive what she suspected, said that the Childe seemed to her not very wise, and whether wise or not had been ill brought up. "Lady," said Messire Ywain, "between you and me, we know nothing about him: and perchance he is forbidden[51] to tell his name or who he is." And she said, "It may well be so," but she said it so low that the Childe heard her not.

[_Here follows (with a very little surplusage removed perhaps) the scene which Dante has made world-famous, but which Malory (I think for reasons) has "cut." I trust it is neither Philistinism nor perversity which makes me think of it a little, though only a little, less highly than some have done. There is (and after all this makes it all the more interesting for us historians) the least little bit of anticipation of_ Marivaudage _about it, and less of the adorable simplicity such as that (a little subsequent to the last extract given) where Lancelot, having forgotten to take leave of the Queen on going to his first adventure, and having returned to do so, kneels to her, receives her hand to raise him from the ground, "and much was his joy to feel it bare in his." But the beauty of what follows is incontestable, and that Guinevere was "exceeding wise in love" is certain._]


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