Clemence Housman

The Life of Sir Aglovale de Galis - Chapter V


THE next record of Aglovale begins with him lying low and very feeble, watching the boy Percivale come and go. To fulfil his penance he had so outgone his strength that his wounds, new and old, reopened and bled; wherefore Durnor had brought him to Severn-side, and so by water to Cardiff, to lay him in the keeping of the Queen their mother.

With no word did she reproach him, nor did any; and soon he grew aware by the simple reflections of Percivale that King Pellinore accorded to him living that one kindness he had besought after his death.

Percivale and his sister Saint whispered and played together within the bay of a window, while Aglovale rested his weary
heart with dreams as he watched the boy. When tramplings
sounded below the children leaned out their heads, and eagerly their tongues ran; till Percivale bethought him and stole from the sunny bay to look if Aglovale slept.

"May I serve you, brother?" he asked.

Aglovale answered "No," and asked idly who entered below.
"Sir Lamiel with his kin, and Sir Harvis," said Percivale.

Again to more clatter he ran and looked out; and so the noise went on with little pause till Aglovale roused to call him.

"For what cause to-day do so many enter?"

Percivale was troubled, and stood silent till Aglovale asked again.

"Alas! brother, I know little, and that I was bidden to
keep from you."

Aglovale turned his face to the wall and so lay silent. Percivale stood waiting awhile, and then he asked timidly, "Brother Sir Aglovale, are you now angry with me?"

"No, fair child," said Aglovale.

Percivale withdrew softly; but he found no happiness with Saint; and often he looked, and in vain, for any sign from his

In came Durnor, and Aglovale shifted and eyed him as with a moody countenance he paced up and down.

"Sir Durnor, are you bidden to keep me in the dark?"

"I take no bidding," said Durnor, and stamped about and swore loud, while Percivale and Saint nestled and peeped under cover of a curtain.

"Then what goes forward?" said Aglovale.
"Shame and wrong!" stormed Durnor. "I take no keep but you shall know. Aglovale, your birthright goes from you."

Quick and hard he breathed to the blow. "To Lamorak or to Tor?" he asked.

"To Lamorak."

"We may thank our mother for that. I dreaded it might be to the bastard."

"I would deem it less unkindness in a half-brother. Now fie on Lamorak! Though he, and Tor also, have worship above you, yet are you the firstborn of King Pellinore's Queen and his right heir. And as for the past, that has been paid for."

Aglovale lay quiet while Durnor swore himself hoarse; then he reached to his sword.

"I require you, Durnor, to help me to my harness."

"What would you do, brother?"

"Take no thought. I would have on my harness."

"I will well," said Durnor, and went with great strides.

He himself was in full harness when he came again with Brose bearing all pieces to arm his brother.

"I will stand with you, Sir Aglovale, in word and deed, whatsoever you say and do."

Aglovale looked at him hard, biting his lip. "I shall be glad. See you fail not."
"Ah, my master," said Brose, "you have not strength for the weight! For but little this wound would again break."

Yet Aglovale stood up lean and weak, and bade him brace on quickly.

Percivale came asking to serve. Brose let him take the spurs to fasten on, but Aglovale jerked and said, "I shall not need these." More kindly he answered to the boy's timid offer, "Yea, little brother, carry my helm for me if you will. I want it not now."

Brose looked at him then, startled to suspicion; but Durnor heard all heedlessly. Between them they had to lift him along, he was so weak; and Percivale followed after with the helm. So they all went down to the hall.

Filled with armed knights was the hall. Between the King and Queen stood Lamorak in arms complete. Tor was there also. Up the hall went a young knight bareheaded; kneeling down before Lamorak he advanced the hilts of his sword held between his two hands, and over them Lamorak laid his hands. Then the knight swore acknowledgment to Sir Lamorak as King Pellinore's heir; when he should rule in the King's stead his land and castle to hold under him, to serve him in war, to uphold his right against all soever. So he swore, and rose and passed.

Up the hall came Aglovale, leaning hard upon Durnor; and then alone he stood fonvard before King Pellinore and his Queen and Lamorak. Much wonder had they and little joy to see him there.

"Sire," said Aglovale, "you do me wrong, and so do all these who have acknowledged Sir Lamorak your heir; for none here present had right by birth or station to take precedence of me. Yet I promise you I will be of the first to serve, though now I be of the last to pledge."

With that Aglovale ungirt his sword, kneeled down before Lamorak, and advanced the hilts held between his two hands. Lamorak started back dismayed, and refused to hold.

"Fair brother, rise!" he cried; and then he caught him strongly by the hands to lift him from his knees.

"Nay, but it shall be so," said King Pellinore. He grasped Lamorak by either wrist; the Queen also put out a shaking hand to compel; then Aglovale gave out his formal oath of

"And now, Sir Lamorak, speak for me; that my father take his curse from me, and that my mother bless me."

He had all he asked and more: Lamorak's embrace with his tears and kiss upon his cheek.

"Ah, Sir Aglovale," cried Durnor, "falsely have you done to beguile me so!"

Yet he plucked off helmet and spurs, unbelted, and thumped to his knees; and offering his sword to Lamorak he swore in order.

"I give you to know," he said, "that this I do maugre my own will, and only for the sake of Sir Aglovale; and otherwise for his sake I had as lief present to you the blade as the hilts upon this occasion."

"He cannot stand or go," said Tor. He drew his brother's arm round his neck to hold him up, and as Lamorak came and lifted likewise on the other side their eyes met in pitiful remembrance of their day on Humber's bank.

Young Percivale at his distance by Brose watched all, wondering, and without understanding he was troubled. Close
he followed when his brothers passed out, Tor and Lamorak
linked to bear up Aglovale, Durnor at their heels. So graced
and attended by all his brothers, Aglovale left the hall, spent
and weary to death from forsaking his birthright.

Together they came to Aglovale's bed. Then Percivale took hold of his sword, kneeled down, and lifted up his hands on the hilts to Aglovale.

"I swear I will keep naught from you more. I swear your will shall be mine. Brother Sir Aglovale, I swear I love you."

The boy ended with a storm of tears; and the disinherited man bowed down his head to his young brother, while sobs drew him so fiercely that soon he swooned for pain.

"So as I said," muttered Brose, and pointed to fresh blood stains. Lamorak looked on, aware that the man eyed him with
ill-will. Then he heard Aglovale breathe his name as he came
to himself, and he was vanquished to contrition.

"Fair brother," he said, "could God and you both pardon me that once my heart was too bitter, now might I serve you."

"How think you!" said Durnor. "Does Maker God despise him as did you? Or would He mix scores as did King Arthur?"

None heeded him, so he turned and roamed the chamber, making language to himself. Lamorak, untouched by scoffs,
but greatly abashed by Aglovale's open love, kneeled down
beside him, and when he had prayed, all in diffidence softly he
searched and dressed the renewed wound.

"You are bought at a price, Sir Lamorak!" cried Durnor.

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