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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 1

And then she told him all the chivalry of Lancelot

_your_ thought was no base

one, but gentle and debonair; wherefore joy has come to you of it, and it has made you a good knight. Yet, nevertheless, this way is not that of knights who make great matter to many a lady of many a thing which they have little at heart. And your seeming shows me that you love one or other of these ladies better than you love me. For you wept for fear and dared not look straight at them: so that I well see that your thought is not so much of me as you pretend. So, by the faith you owe the thing you love best in the world, tell me which one of the three you love so much?" "Ah! Lady," said he, "for the mercy of God, as God shall keep me, never had one of them my heart in her keeping." "This will not do," said the Queen, "you cannot dissemble. For many another such thing have I seen, and I know that your heart is there as surely as your body is here." And this she said that she might well see how she might put him ill at ease. For she thought surely enough that he meant no love save to her, or ill would it have gone on the day of the Black Arms.[54] And she took a keen delight in seeing and considering his discomfort. But he was in such anguish that he wanted little of swooning, save that fear of the ladies before him kept him back. And the Queen herself perceived it at the sight of his changes of colour, and caught him by the shoulder that he might not fall, and
called to Galahault. Then the prince sprang forward and ran to his friend, and saw that he was disturbed thus, and had great pain in his own heart for it, and said, "Ah, Lady! tell me, for God's sake, what has happened." And the Queen told him the conversation. "Ah, Lady!" said Galahault, "mercy, for God's sake, or you may lose me him by such wrath, and it would be too great pity." "Certes," said she, "that is true. But know you why he has done such feats of arms?" "Nay, surely, Lady," said he. "Sir," said she, "if what he tells me is true, it was for me." "Lady," said he, "as God shall keep me, I can believe it. For just as he is more valiant than other men, so is his heart truer than all theirs." "Verily," said she, "you would say well that he is valiant if you knew what deeds he has done since he was made knight," and then she told him all the chivalry of Lancelot ... and how he had done it all for a single word of hers [_Galahault tells her more, and begs mercy for L._]. "He could ask me nothing," sighed she, "that I could fairly refuse him, but he will ask me nothing at all."... "Lady," said Galahault, "certainly he has no power to do so. For one loves nothing that one does not fear." [_And then comes the immortal kiss, asked by the Prince, delayed a moment by the Queen's demur as to time and place, brought on by the "Galeotto"-speech._ "Let us three corner close together as if we were talking secrets," _vouchsafed by Guinevere in the words_, "Why should I make me longer prayer for what I wish more than you or he?" _Lancelot still hangs back, but the Queen_ "takes him by the chin and kisses him before Galahault with a kiss long enough" so that the Lady of Malahault knows it.] And then said the Queen, who was a right wise and gracious lady, "Fair sweet friend, so much have you done that I am yours, and right great joy have I thereof. Now see to it that the thing be kept secret, as it should be. For I am one of the ladies of the world who have the fairest fame, and if my praise grew worse through you, then it would be a foul and shameful thing."

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