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Hero-Myths and Legends of the British Race

Page: 150

His Discontent

Yet in the midst of all this splendour the king was ill at ease, for he was a warlike knight and longed for some new adventure, and of late none had been known. Arthur sat moodily among his knights and drained the wine-cup in silence, and Queen Guenever, gazing at her husband, durst not interrupt his gloomy thoughts. At last the king raised his head, and, striking the table with his hand, exclaimed fiercely: “Are all my knights [Pg 267] sluggards or cowards, that none of them goes forth to seek adventures? You are better fitted to feast well in hall than fight well in field. Is my fame so greatly decayed that no man cares to ask for my help or my support against evildoers? I vow here, by the boar’s head and by Our Lady, that I will not rise from this table till some adventure be undertaken.” “Sire, your loyal knights have gathered round you to keep the holy Yuletide in your court,” replied Sir Lancelot; and Sir Gawayne said: “Fair uncle, we are not cowards, but few evildoers dare to show themselves under your rule; hence it is that we seem idle. But see yonder! By my faith, now cometh an adventure.”

The Damsel’s Request

Even as Sir Gawayne spoke a fair damsel rode into the hall, with flying hair and disordered dress, and, dismounting from her steed, knelt down sobbing at Arthur’s feet. She cried aloud, so that all heard her: “A boon, a boon,


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