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Upon the hidden bases of the hills.'
So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily : “ What is it thou hast seen ? or what hast heard ?”
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere : “I heard the water lapping on the crag, And the long ripple washing in the reeds.”
To whom replied King Arthur, much in wrath : “ Ah, miserable and unkind, untrue, Unknightly, traitor-hearted ! Woe is me! Authority forgets a dying king, Laid widow'd of the power in his eye That bow'd the will. I see thee what thou art. For thou, the latest-left of all my knights, In whom should meet the offices of all, Thou wouldst betray me for the precious hilt ; Either from lust of gold, or like a girl
Valuing the giddy pleasure of the eyes.
Then quickly rose Sir Bedivere, and ran,
Then spoke King Arthur, drawing thicker breath :
“ Now see I by thine eyes that this is done. Speak out : what is it thou hast heard, or seen!”
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere : , “Sir King, I closed mine eyelids, lest the gems Should blind my purpose, for I never saw, Nor shall see, here or elsewhere, till I die, Not though I live three lives of mortal men, So great a miracle as yonder hilt. Then with both hands I flung him, wheeling him ; But when I look'd again, behold an arm, Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful, That caught him by the hilt, and brandish'd him Three times, and drew him under in the meer.”
And answer made King Arthur, breathing hard :
So saying, from the pavement he half rose,
Remorsefully regarded thro' his tears,
But, as he walk’d, King Arthur panted hard,
Then saw they how there hove a dusky barge, Dark as a funeral scarf from stem to stern, Beneath them ; and descending they were ware That all the decks were dense with stately forms Black-stoled, black-hooded, like a dream—by these Three Queens with crowns of gold—and from them rose A cry that shiver'd to the tingling stars, And, as it were one voice, an agony Of lamentation, like a wind, that shrills All night in a waste land, where no one comes, Or hath come, since the making of the world.
Then murmur'd Arthur,“ Place me in the barge,” And to the barge they came. There those three Queens Put forth their hands, and took the King, and wept. But she, that rose the tallest of them all And fairest, laid his head upon her lap, And loosed the shatter'd casque, and chafed his hands, And call’d him by his name, complaining loud, And dropping bitter tears against his brow Striped with dark blood : for all his face was white And colourless, and like the wither’d moon Smote by the fresh beam of the springing east ;