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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

Then began he to sigh right deeply


[Sidenote: The scene of the kiss.]

"Ha!" said she then, "I know who you are--Lancelot of the Lake is your name." And he was silent. "They know it at court," said she, "this sometime. Messire Gawain was the first to bring your name there...." Then she asked him why he had allowed the worst man in the world to lead him by the bridle. "Lady," said he, "as one who had command neither of his heart nor of his body." "Now tell me," said she, "were you at last year's assembly?" "Yes, Lady," said he. "And what arms did you bear?" "Lady, they were all of vermilion." "By my head," said she, "you say true. And why did you do such deeds at the meeting the day before yesterday?" Then he began to sigh very very deeply. And the Queen cut him short as well, knowing how it was with him.

"Tell me," she said, "plainly, how it is. I will never betray you. But I know that you did it for some lady. Now, tell me, by the faith you owe me, who she is." "Ah, Lady," said he, "I see well that it behoves me to speak. Lady, it is you." "I!" said she. "It was not for me you took the spears that my maiden brought you. For I took care to put myself out of the commission." "Lady," said he, "I did for others what I ought, and for you what I could." "Tell me, then, for whom have you done all the things that you _have_ done?" "Lady,"

said he, "for you." "How," said she, "do you love me so much?" "So much, Lady, as I love neither myself nor any other." "And since when have you loved me thus?" "Since the hour when I was called knight and yet was not one."[52] "Then, by the faith you owe me, whence came this love that you have set upon me?" Now as the Queen said these words it happened that the Lady of the Puy of Malahault[53] coughed on purpose, and lifted her head, which she had held down. And he understood her now, having oft heard her before: and looked at her and knew her, and felt in his heart such fear and anguish that he could not answer the Queen. Then began he to sigh right deeply, and the tears fell from his eyes so thick, that the garment he wore was wet to the knees. And the more he looked at the Lady of Malahault the more ill at ease was his heart. Now the Queen noticed this and saw that he looked sadly towards the place where her ladies were, and she reasoned with him. "Tell me," she said, "whence comes this love that I am asking you about?" and he tried as hard as he could to speak, and said, "Lady, from the time I have said." "How?" "Lady, you did it, when you made me your friend, if your mouth lied not." "My friend?" she said; "and how?" "I came before you when I had taken leave of my Lord the King all armed except my head and my hands. And then I commended you to God, and said that, wherever I was, I was your knight: and you said that you would have me to be your knight and your friend. And then I said, 'Adieu, Lady,' and you said, 'Adieu, fair sweet friend.' And never has that word left my heart, and it is that word that has made me a good knight and valiant--if I be so: nor ever have I been so ill-bested as not to remember that word. That word comforts me in all my annoys. That word has kept me from all harm, and freed me from all peril, and fills me whenever I hunger. Never have I been so poor but that word has made me rich." "By my faith," said the Queen, "that word was spoken in a good hour, and God be praised when He made me speak it. Still, I did not set it as high as you did: and to many a knight have I said it, when I gave no more thought to the saying. But


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