One morning in the early summer, Queen Guinevere, with a lady at her side sat on her horse and waited on a hill to watch King Arthur as he hunted a deer.
While they stood there, Prince Geraint, a handsome and vigorous young man, rode up the hill and stopped his horse alongside of the queen. He was too late for the hunt, so he stayed with the queen and watched the woods in the distance and listened for the braying of the hounds.
Suddenly beyond the hill, on the winding road in the valley, a strange company of three, a knight, a lady and a dwarf who lagged behind were all riding toward them on horses. They scarcely made a sound as they reached the hilltop by the Queen.
The queen wondered who they were so she sent her lady to ask the dwarf what their names were.
When her lady returned she had a reddened bruise on her face and told the queen how arrogant the dwarf was. He refused to tell his master's name and then when the lady tried to go past him, took a whip and whipped her across her face.
At this Geraint clapped the spurs to his horse and pursued the dwarf. But he, too , fared in the same manner. In his first rage, Geraint laid hand to his sword, meaning to cut down the dwarf, but his noble nature rebelled against striking so weak a creature. Therefore he rode back to the queen, obtained her permission to ride after the knight who kept such an unmannerly follower, and then, armed only with a sword, set off to demand an apology for the insult.
He saw the three riders far ahead of him disappear over the hill and, following, discovered a little town in the valley below into which they had disappeared. When the young prince arrived in this town, no one would give him lodging or lend him arms, or, indeed take notice of him. The smithies rang with the sound of the hammering, there was a hurrying to and fro, and he learned that a great tourney was to be held on the morrow.
At last, however, an old earl, who lived in an almost ruined castle, received the young prince and the daughter of this earl, Enid by name, took Geraint's horse to the stable and waited upon him as he sat at dinner. Geraint fell in love with her immediately. She was fair, and the faded, simple dress she wore could not hide the dignity and nobility of her soul. Much amazed to find this earl and the beautiful Enid living in poverty, Geraint told why he had come to the town, and the old earl, in return, told his story.
The knight whose dwarf had insulted him was called Sparrow-hawk. He was a cruel and wicked man. He loved Enid, and because the earl would not give his beautiful daughter to so turbulent and bad a man, this Sparrow-Hawk had lied against the earl, and raised the town against him, and had even broken into his house and stole some of his finest possessions, turning their once beautiful castle into ruins.
Sparrow-Hawk had now built a castle in the town and took away all the privileges of the poor old earl.
Geraint's anger flared from within and he asked permission of the earl to fight for Enid in the tourney. The earl bid him favor and found armor for him and they prepared for the great tourney. Enid loved Geraint's noble face and was delighted that Geraint would fight for her.
Geraint overthrew all of his opponents. When Sparrow-Hawk bit the dust before him, Geraint gave the bad knight his life on condition that he rod to Arthur's court and begged for pardon of the queen for the insult done to her.
And now for Enid came the happy days of preparing for her marriage. She would have worn a glorious dress worthy of King Arthur's court, but Geraint, who loved her with a man's delight in pure simplicity, begged her to wear the simple gown she wore when he had first set eyes upon her. She obeyed Geraint's wish and dressed in a simple peasant dress, went with him to Camelot.
They were very happy on that ride to Camelot. They were full of play, like children. Enid asked, "What will the queen think of my ragged dress?"
The young prince kissed her fears away. With brave words he made her less afraid of entering King Arthur's court. When they arrived, everyone loved Enid. The queen clothed her for the marriage in dresses royal and magnificent. And Geraint was proud of his little, beautiful, dear wife, who had grown to womanhood in poverty and simplicity. Everyone was happy.
But soon after their marriage came those evil days when it was rumored that Queen Guinevere loved Lancelot more than the king, and the air of the court seemed full of whispering and slander.
The noble Prince Geraint, brooding on these tales, hated to see his young wife laughing among the other ladies at the court, and was determined to take her away.
He brooded so long about the matter that he began to wonder if Enid loved him best. It seemed to him that her eyes shone as brightly for others as for himself, and that she was as pleased to talk with the other knights as with her own husband. Thus did the noble heart of Prince Geraint become first suspicious and afterwards, bitter as gall. So he got permission of King Arthur to go to his own land and there he dwelt with Enid, and gave himself up to loving her.
But Enid, sorrowing that her brave lord had retired from his brave life, blamed herself, and one night, in her sleep she cried aloud. "Oh, me, I fear that I am no true wife!"
Geraint heard her, and his soul staggered within him. He believed her false.
On the morrow he said roughly to her, "Put on your worst and meanest dress," and bad her get to her horse and ride on ahead of him. Whatever was to happen, she was not to speak to him. So Enid did what he asked and wore the dress in which he had first loved her. Geraint's heart grew sad. They rode into the wilderness together.
Toward sunset Enid saw three tall knights waiting in ambush for her lore, and she rode back and told him. Geraint rebuked her for breaking silence, and went forward. He overthrew the knights, stripped them of their armor, which he had laid upon their horses, and then, knotting the reins of the horses together, told Enid to follow behind them.
Shortly afterwards Enid came upon a lady weeping over a knight who lay dead on the ground. She returned and told Geraint, and he rode up and said, "Lady, what has happened to you?"
"Noble knight, " she replied, "as we rode through the forest three villains set upon my husband and killed him."
So Geraint rode on and killed the three false knights.
Enid and Geraint continued their journey and soon came to a town that was under the rule of the Earl Sparrow-Hawk, who had loved Enid years ago.
Seeing the sadness in Enid's eyes, Sparrow-Hawk tried to convince Enid she would be better if Geraint were dead, and that she would become his proud wife and live in wealth and honor in his castle. Enid feared that Sparrow-Hawk would murder Geraint, so she told Sparrow-Hawk to come for her at dawn.
Before dawn that next morning, Enid woke Geraint and told him the story and while it was still night they rode away. The earl and his followers pursued. Geraint slew the terrible earl and put his followers to flight.
They rode on a very short way when Enid turned around and didn't see Geraint following her. She went back to find Geraint lying on the ground in the rambling bushes, bleeding from an almost mortal wound. Enid wept over her husband's body thinking him dead. The bandit Earl Doorm, with a great company came charging by. The earl asked two of his men to carry Geraint to his castle and they rode forward again.
They arrived at the castle of Earl Doorm. Geraint still laying upon his shield, his sword at his side as if he were dead remained like that the whole day.
That night a great feast had been prepared. The Earl Doorm was eating and looked up to see Enid sitting in the shadow by her deathlike knight. Earl Doorm called Enid to his side.
"Eat!" he commanded.
"Not until my lord arises," said Enid.
"Drink!" cried Doorm.
"Not until my lord arises!" said Enid.
Then Doorm swore a great oath. He told her to stop thinking about the dead man. He offered to make her his wife. He sent for a beautiful gown and told her she would rule over his land. But Enid shook her head and replied she loved only Geraint.
Doorm laughed scornfully, and pointed at her torn and tattered dress. "How well he loves you! You wear rags!"
And Enid answered that in that very dress her lord had first looked upon her and loved her. Angered by Enid's remarks, the wrathful earl strode towards her and struck her on the cheek.
At that moment, Geraint sprang, sword in hand, from the shield, and with one stroke "shore through he swarthy neck" of Doorm.
At the sight of the head rolling on the floor, and at the sight of Geraint, risen, as it seemed from the dead, the people fled terror stricken from the hall, and they were left alone in a great silence.
Then Geraint looked up at Enid and she embraced him in her arms. Very softly he begged her forgiveness. He had heard her words to Earl Doorm. He knew her now for his true wife. All suspicion was swept from before his eyes. He saw her in all her gentle sweetness and truth. Nevermore would he think ill of her. She could only answer with her arms and lips.
At that same moment they became aware of a sudden stir without, and expecting danger, went forth, to find King Arthur and his knights before the castle. The king had come to punish the wicked bandit earl, and Geraint found himself once more, happy and glad among his friends.
Enid lived to be know by all people as Enid the Fair and Enid the Good and Geraint loved her to the end of their days.
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