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Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 980 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

      “Under tower and balcony,
      By garden-wall and gallery,
      A gleaming shape she floated by,
      A corse between the houses high,
          Silent into Camelot. 
      Out upon the wharfs they came,
      Knight and burgher, lord and dame,
      And round the prow they read her name,
          ‘The Lady of Shalott’

      “Who is this? and what is here? 
      And in the lighted palace near
      Died the sound of royal cheer;
      And they crossed themselves for fear,

      All the knights at Camelot. 
      But Launcelot mused a little space;
      He said, ’She has a lovely face;
      God in his mercy lend her grace,
          The Lady of Shalott.’”

CHAPTER XI

QUEEN GUENEVER’S PERIL

It happened at this time that Queen Guenever was thrown into great peril of her life.  A certain squire who was in her immediate service, having some cause of animosity to Sir Gawain, determined to destroy him by poison, at a public entertainment.  For this purpose he concealed the poison in an apple of fine appearance, which he placed on the top of several others, and put the dish before the queen, hoping that, as Sir Gawain was the knight of greatest dignity, she would present the apple to him.  But it happened that a Scottish knight of high distinction, who arrived on that day, was seated next to the queen, and to him as a stranger she presented the apple, which he had no sooner eaten than he was seized with dreadful pain, and fell senseless.  The whole court was, of course, thrown into confusion; the knights rose from table, darting looks of indignation at the wretched queen, whose tears and protestations were unable to remove their suspicions.  In spite of all that could be done the knight died, and nothing remained but to order a magnificent funeral and monument for him, which was done.

Some time after Sir Mador, brother of the murdered knight, arrived at Arthur’s court in quest of him.  While hunting in the forest he by chance came to the spot where the monument was erected, read the inscription, and returned to court determined on immediate and signal vengeance.  He rode into the hall, loudly accused the queen of treason, and insisted on her being given up for punishment, unless she should find by a certain day a knight hardy enough to risk his life in support of her innocence.  Arthur, powerful as he was, did not dare to deny the appeal, but was compelled with a heavy heart to accept it, and Mador sternly took his departure, leaving the royal couple plunged in terror and anxiety.

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