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The Legend Of Sir Dinar
by [?]

“Which of you has slain my gerfalcon?”

And when Sir Dinar confessed and began to make his excuse, “Silly knight!” said she, “who couldst not guess that my falcon, too, was abroad to avenge the blessed Stephen. Or dost think that it was a hawk, of all birds, that sang a melody in the ears of his guards?”

With that she laughed, as if pacified, and asked of their affairs; and being told that they rode in search of the Sancgrael, she laughed again, saying–

“Silly knights all, that seek it before you be bearded! For three of you must faint and die on the quest, and you, sir,” turning to Sir Dinar, “must many times long to die, yet never reach nearer by a foot.”

“Let it be as God will,” answered Sir Dinar. “But hast thou any tidings, to guide us?”

“I have heard,” said she, “that it was seen latest in the land of Gore, beyond Trent Water.” And with her white finger she pointed down a narrow glade that led to the north-west. So they thanked her and pricked on, none guessing that she herself was King Urience’ wife, of Gore, and none other than Queen Morgan le Fay, the famous enchantress, who for loss of her gerfalcon was lightly sending Sir Dinar to his ruin.

So all that day they rode, two and two, in the strait alley that she had pointed out; and by her enchantments she made the winter trees to move with them, serried close on either hand, so that, though the four knights wist nothing of it, they advanced not a furlong for all their haste. But towards nightfall there appeared close ahead a blaze of windows lit and then a tall castle with dim towers soaring up and shaking to the din of minstrelsy. And finding a great company about the doors, they lit down from their horses and stepped into the great hall, Sir Dinar leading them. For a while their eyes were dazed, seeing that sconces flared along the walls and the place was full of knights and damsels brightly clad, and the floor shone. But while they were yet blinking, a band of maidens came and unbuckled their arms and cast a shining cloak upon each; which was hardly done when a lady came towards them out of the throng, and though she was truly the Queen Morgan le Fay, they knew her not at all, for by her necromancy she had altered her countenance.

“Come, dance,” said she, “for in an instant the musicians will begin.”

The other three knights tarried awhile, being weary with riding; but Sir Dinar stepped forward and caught the hand of a damsel, and she, as she gave it, looked in his eyes and laughed. She was dressed all in scarlet, with scarlet shoes, and her hair lay on her shoulders like waves of burnished gold. As Sir Dinar set his arm about her, with a crash the merry music began; and floating out with him into the dance, her scarlet shoes twinkling and her tossed hair shaking spices under his nostrils, she leaned back a little on his arm and laughed again.

Sir Galhaltin was leaning by the doorway, and he heard her laugh and saw her feet twinkle like blood-red moths, and he called to Sir Dinar. But Sir Dinar heard only the brassy music, nor did any of the dancers turn their heads, though Sir Galhaltin called a second time and more loudly. Then Sir Sentrail and Sir Ozanna also began to call, fearing they knew not what for their comrade. But the guests still drifted by as they were clouds, and Sir Dinar, with the red blood showing beneath the down on his cheeks, smiled always and whirled with the woman upon his arm.

By and by he began to pant, and would have rested: but she denied him.