« PreviousContinue »
In act to throw : but at the last it seem'd
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere : “ Hast thou perform'd my mission which I gave ? What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard ?” ,
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere: “ I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, And the wild water lapping on the crag.”
To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale : “ Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy name, Not rendering true answer, as beseem'd Thy fëalty, nor like a noble knight: For surer sign had follow'd, either hand, Or voice, or else a motion of the meer. This is a shameful thing for men to lie. Yet now, I charge thee, quickly go again As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing I bade thee, watch, and lightly bring me word.”
Then went Sir Bedivere the second time,
Counting the dewy pebbles, fix'd in thought;
“ And if indeed I cast the brand away, .
Upon the hidden bases of the hills.'
So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily : “ What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard ?
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere : “I heard the water lapping on the crag, And the long ripple washing in the reeds.”
To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath : “ Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue, Unknightly, traitor-hearted ! Woe is me! Authority forgets a dying king, Laid widowed of the power in his eye That bowed the will. . I see thee what thou art. For thou, the latest-left of all my krights, In whom should meet the offices of all, Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt ; Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.
Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath : “ Now see I by thine eyes that this is done. Speak out ; what is it thou hast heard, or seen! ”
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere : “Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems Should blind my purpose, for I never saw, Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die, Not though I live three lives of mortal men, So great a miracle as yonder hilt. Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him, But when I look'd again, behold an arm, Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, That caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him Three times, and drew him under in the meer.”
And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard :
So saying, from the pavement he half rose,