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A History of the French Novel, Vol. 2

Bretagne tells him what has happened since the Maid's death


[362]

With a bow and arrows, remember; not a Browning pistol.

[363] The indebtedness to Michelet is pretty obvious.

[364] It may be well to illustrate this, lest it be said that having been more than just to the father (_v. sup._) I am still less than just to the son. Merlin is made to visit Morgane la Fee in the _eleventh_ century. It is quite true that people generally began to hear about Merlin and Morgane at that time. But he had then been for about half a millennium in the sweet prison of the Lady of the Lake--over whom even Morgane had no power. The English child-King, for whom Bedford was regent, is repeatedly called Henry _IV_. There would have been quite other fish for Joan to fry, and other thread for her to retwist, if she had had to do with Henry of Bolingbroke instead of Henry of Windsor. Tristan's Mauthe Doog--not a bad kind of hound, though--bears the "Celtic" name of Thor. Of course all these things are trifles, but they are annoying and useless. When the father abridged Charles the First's captivity from years to days, he did it for the good of his story. The son had no such justification. He is also very careless about minute joinings of the flats at a most important point of the conclusion (_v. inf._). Tristan has no sword, begs one of the _bourreau_, and is refused. He goes straight to church, and immediately afterwards we find him sword in hand. Where did he get it? By an unmentioned miracle?

style="text-align: justify;">[365] Tristan defeats an effort of Xaintrailles to rescue her, in a way vaguely resembling the defeat, in the greater Alexander's work, of the rescue of King Charles by the Four.

[366] Unluckily, with a young man's misjudgment, Dumas would not let it be the actual end, though that is not a couple of pages off. After the fight Tristan goes out of the tomb to rest himself; and meets the herald Bretagne, whom he had saved from the wolves in the overture. Bretagne tells him what has happened since the Maid's death, including the fate of his half-brother on the father's side, Gilles de Retz, who, like himself, has repented in time to save his soul, if not his life. Having also seen afar off a cavalcade in which are Olivier and Alix, now married and rapturous, Tristan retires into the tomb, which closes over him. His horse "Baal" and his dogs, the "Celtically" (in the latter case we may say _Piratically_) named Thor and Brinda, are petrified round its entrance.

[367] Crusading times, and Jof or Edessa for Rouen and Poitiers as places, might seem preferable. But the fifteenth century did a lot of _diablerie_ in the West.

[368] A curious variant of this fancy of his will be noticed later. What is more curious still need, perhaps, hardly be indicated for any intelligent reader--the "sicklying over" of Paul-de-Kockery with a "cast of thought"--"pale," or "dry," or up to "Old Brown" in strength and character as it may seem to different people.


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