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When lo! her own, that broadening from her feet,
And blackening, swallow'd all the land, and in it
Far cities burnt, and with a cry she woke.
And all this trouble did not pass but
Till even the clear face of the guileless King,
And trustful courtesies of household life, Became her bane; and at the last she said:
"O Lancelot, get thee hence to thine own land,
For if thou tarry we shall meet again, And if we meet again some evil chance Will make the smouldering scandal break and blaze
Before the people and our lord the King." And Lancelot ever promised, but remain'd
And still they met and met. Again she said,
"O Lancelot, if thou love me get thee hence.
There will I hide thee till my life shall end,
There hold thee with my life against the world."
She answer'd: “Lancelot, wilt thou hold me so ?
Nay, friend, for we have taken our farewells.
Would God that thou couldst hide me from myself!
Mine is the shame, for I was wife, and thou
Unwedded; yet rise now, and let us fly, For I will draw me into sanctuary,
And bide my doom." So Lancelot got her horse,
Set her thereon, and mounted on his own,
And then they rode to the divided way, There kiss'd, and parted weeping; for he passed,
Love-loyal to the least wish of the Queen, Back to his land; but she to Almesbury Fled all night long by glimmering waste
Late, late, so late! and dark the night and
Late, late, so late! but we can enter still.
"No light had we; for that we do repent, And learning this, the bridegroom will relent. Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
"No light! so late! and dark and chill the night!
^, let us in, that we may find the light! Too late, too late! ye cannot enter now.
"Have we not heard the bridegroom is so sweet!
O, let us in, tho' late, to kiss his feet!
So sang the novice, while full passionately,
Her head upon her hands, remembering Her thought when first she came, wept the sad Queen.
Then said the little novice, prattling to her:
And Modred whom he left in charge of all,
The traitor-Ah, sweet lady, the King's grief
For his own self, and his own Queen and realm,
Must needs be thrice as great as any of ours!
For me, I thank the saints, I am not great;
For if there ever come a grief to me
But even were the griefs of little ones As great as those of great ones, yet this grief
Is added to the griefs the great must bear,
That, howsoever much they may desire Silence, they cannot weep behind a
To whom the little novice garrulously: Yea, but I know; the land was full of signs
And wonders ere the coming of the Queen.
So said my father, and himself was knight
Of the great Table-at the founding of it,
And rode thereto from Lyonnesse ; and
That as he rode, an hour or maybe twain After the sunset, down the coast, he heard
Strange music, and he paused, and turning-there,
All down the lonely coast of Lyonnesse, Each with a beacon-star upon his head, And with a wild sea-light about his feet, He saw them-headland after headland
Far on into the rich heart of the west. And in the light the white mermaiden
And strong man-breasted things stood from the sea,
And sent a deep sea-voice thro' all the
To which the little elves of chasm and cleft
Made answer, sounding like a distant horn.
So said my father-yea, and further.
Next morning, while he past the dim-lit woods
Himself beheld three spirits mad with joy
Come dashing down on a tall wayside flower,
That shook beneath them as the thistle shakes
When three gray linnets wrangle for the seed.
And still at evenings on before his horse
The flickering fairy-circle wheel'd and broke
Flying, and link'd again, and wheel'd and broke
Flying, for all the land was full of life.
And in the hall itself was such a feast
With all their dewy hair blown back like flame.
So said my father-and that night the bard
Sang Arthur's glorious wars, and sang the King
As wellnigh more than man, and rail'd at those
Who call'd him the false son of Gorloïs. For there was no man knew from whence he came ;
But after tempest, when the long wave broke
All down the thundering shores of Bude and Bos,
There came a day as still as heaven and then
They found a naked child upon the sands
Of dark Tintagil by the Cornish sea, And that was Arthur, and they foster'd him
Till he by miracle was approven King; And that his grave should be a mystery From all men, like his birth; and could
Sir Lancelot's, were as noble as the King's,
As I could think, sweet lady, yours would be
Such as they are, were you the sinful Queen."
So she, like many another babbler, hurt
Whom she would soothe, and harm'à where she would heal;
For here a sudden flush of wrathful heat Fired all the pale face of the Queen, who cried:
"Such as thou art be never maiden more For ever! thou their tool, set on to plague
And play upon and harry me, petty spy And traitress!" When that storm of anger brake
From Guinevere, aghast the maiden rose, White as her veil, and stood before the Queen
As tremulously as foam upon the beach Stands in a wind, ready to break and fly, And when the Queen had added, "Get thee hence!"
Fled frighted. Then that other left alone
Sigh'd, and began to gather heart again, Saying in herself: "The simple, fearful
Meant nothing, but my own too-fearful guilt,
Simpler than any child, betrays itself. But help me, Heaven, for surely I repent!
For what is true repentance but in thought
Not even in inmost thought to think again
The sins that made the past so pleasant to us?
And I have sworn never to see him more, To see him more."
And even in saying this, Her memory from old habit of the mind Went slipping back upon the golden days In which she saw him first, when Lancelot came,
Reputed the best knight and goodliest
Ambassador, to yield her to his lord Arthur, and led her forth, and far ahead Of his and her retinue moving, they, Rapt in sweet talk or lively, all on love And sport and tilts and pleasure,-for the time