THE TALE OF THE LOST LAND
CHAPTER 3: KNIGHTS OF THE TABLE ROUND
Everybody praised the valor and magnanimity of Sir Launcelot; and
as for me, I was perfectly amazed, that one man, all by himself,
should have been able to beat down and capture such battalions
of practiced fighters. I said as much to Clarence; but this mocking
featherhead only said:
"An Sir Kay had had time to get another skin of sour wine into him,
ye had seen the accompt doubled."
I looked at the boy in sorrow; and as I looked I saw the cloud of
a deep despondency settle upon his countenance. I followed the
direction of his eye, and saw that a very old and white-bearded
man, clothed in a flowing black gown, had risen and was standing
at the table upon unsteady legs, and feebly swaying his ancient
head and surveying the company with his watery and wandering eye.
The same suffering look that was in the page's face was observable
in all the faces around--the look of dumb creatures who know that
they must endure and make no moan.
"Marry, we shall have it again," sighed the boy; "that same old
weary tale that he hath told a thousand times in the same words,
and that he will tell till he dieth, every time he hath gotten his
barrel full and feeleth his exaggeration-mill a-working. Would
God I had died or I saw this day!"
"Who is it?"
"Merlin, the mighty liar and magician, perdition singe him for
the weariness he worketh with his one tale! But that men fear
him for that he hath the storms and the lightnings and all the
devils that be in hell at his beck and call, they would have dug
his entrails out these many years ago to get at that tale and
squelch it. He telleth it always in the third person, making
believe he is too modest to glorify himself--maledictions light
upon him, misfortune be his dole! Good friend, prithee call me