Flushed through her memory, and a swift thought came
Like sudden fear, a thought without a name,
An unvoiced question and a blind alarm;
And in sheer helplessness she reached an arm
Toward Gawayne scarcely knowing what she would;
Her eyes beheld him, and she understood.
And is it Gawayne? He? Yes, Elfinhart,
The hour has come, and you must play your part.
* * * * *
So now it’s all explained; and I intend
To go straight onward to the story’s end.
Sir Gawayne had cut off the Green Knight’s head,
And Arthur and his court had gone to bed;
In the great hall the dying embers shone
With a faint ghostly gleam, and there, alone,
While all the rest of Camelot was sleeping,
In the dark alcove Elfinhart lay weeping.
But as she lay there, all about her head
There fell a checkered beam of moonlight, shed
Through the barred casement; and she faintly stirred,
For in her troubled soul it seemed she heard
Vague music from some region far away!
She raised her head and, turning where she lay,
Saw in the silver moonlight the serene
And tranquil beauty of the fairy queen!
“We sent before you called us, Elfinhart,
For love lent keener magic to our art,
And warned us of the thoughts that in your breast
Awoke new rapture, trembling unconfessed.”
And Elfinhart moved closer to her knees
And hid her face in the white draperies
That veiled the fairy form, till, nestling there,
Her heart recovered from that blank despair,
And whispered her that whatsoe’er befell
Love ruled the world, and all would yet be well.
And the good fairy stroked the maiden’s head
And kissed her tear-starred eyes, and smiling said:
“Fie on you women’s hearts! Consistency
Hides her shamed head where mortal women be!
True love breeds faith and trust, it makes hearts strong;
The heart’s anointed king can do no wrong!
And yet you weep as if you feared to prove him;—
Upon my word, I don’t believe you love him!”
And Elfinhart replied: “Laugh if you will,
My queen, but let me be a woman still.
You fairies love where love is wise and just;
We mortal women love because we must:
And if I feared to prove him, I confess
I fear I still must love him none the less.”
She paused, for once again her eyes grew dim:
“Think you I love his virtues? I love him!
But yet you judged me wrongly, for believe me,
(And then laugh once again, and so forgive me),
If at the first I feared what you might do,
My doubts were not of Gawayne, but of you!”
And so both laughed, and for a little space
Folded each other in a glad embrace;
(For fairies, bathed the whole year round in bliss,
May yet be gladdened by a fair maid’s kiss);
And Elfinhart spoke on: “Do what you will,
I trust you with my all, and fear no ill.