The Age of Chivalry eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 436 pages of information about The Age of Chivalry.

Sir Gawain made no reply; but, turning his eyes on his bride, what was his amazement to perceive that she wore no longer the unseemly aspect that had so distressed him.  She then told him that the form she had worn was not her true form, but a disguise imposed upon her by a wicked enchanter, and that she was condemned to wear it until two things should happen:  one, that she should obtain some young and gallant knight to be her husband.  This having been done, one-half of the charm was removed.  She was now at liberty to wear her true form for half the time, and she bade him choose whether he would have her fair by day, and ugly by night, or the reverse.  Sir Gawain would fain have had her look her best by night, when he alone would see her, and show her repulsive visage, if at all, to others.  But she reminded him how much more pleasant it would be to her to wear her best looks in the throng of knights and ladies by day.  Sir Gawain yielded, and gave up his will to hers.  This alone was wanting to dissolve the charm.  The lovely lady now with joy assured him that she should change no more, but as she now was, so would she remain by night as well as by day.

    “Sweet blushes stayned her rud-red cheek,
      Her eyen were black as sloe,
    The ripening cherrye swelled her lippe,
      And all her neck was snow. 
    Sir Gawain kist that ladye faire
      Lying upon the sheete,
    And swore, as he was a true knight,
      The spice was never so swete.”

The dissolution of the charm which had held the lady also released her brother, the “grim baron,” for he too had been implicated in it.  He ceased to be a churlish oppressor, and became a gallant and generous knight as any at Arthur’s court.



Caradoc was the son of Ysenne, the beautiful niece of Arthur.  He was ignorant who his father was, till it was discovered in the following manner:  When the youth was of proper years to receive the honors of knighthood, King Arthur held a grand court for the purpose of knighting him.  On this occasion a strange knight presented himself, and challenged the knights of Arthur’s court to exchange blow for blow with him.  His proposal was this—­to lay his neck on a block for any knight to strike, on condition that, if he survived the blow, the knight should submit in turn to the same experiment.  Sir Kay, who was usually ready to accept all challenges, pronounced this wholly unreasonable, and declared that he would not accept it for all the wealth in the world.  And when the knight offered his sword, with which the operation was to be performed, no person ventured to accept it, till Caradoc, growing angry at the disgrace which was thus incurred by the Round Table, threw aside his mantle and took it.  “Do you do this as one of the best knights?” said the stranger. 

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The Age of Chivalry from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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