Preview this item Preview this item. Arthur, dismount and eat. By my faith, I will never eat until I have learned that which I am in search of. For so greatly was the wolf held in dread that no one dared to go to rest anywhere around, but everyone kept watch the whole night long against his inroads. Torleil confessed that he knew absolutely nothing about the matter, and directed Arthur to his third brother.

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Read at Meeting, 17th December, And as they were joyfully partaking of the feast of rich abundance, Arthur, in his excessive joy, threw his arms around the Queen, who was sitting beside him, and embracing her, kissed her very affectionately in the sight of all. But she was dumbfounded at his conduct, and, blushing deeply, looked up at him and asked why he had kissed her thus at such an unusual place and hour.

Because amidst all my riches I have nothing so pleasing and amidst all my delights nothing so sweet, as thou art. The Queen. Well, if, as you say, you love me so much, you evidently think that you know my heart and my affection. I doubt not that your heart is well disposed towards me, and I certainly think that your affection is absolutely known to me. You are undoubtedly mistaken, Arthur, for you acknowledge that you have never yet fathomed either the nature or the heart of a woman.

I call heaven to witness that if up to now they have lain hid from me, I will exert myself, and sparing no pains, I will never taste food until by good hap I fathom them.

But let the rest remain and entertain my guests in my stead until I return. Now immediately on the further side of that valley there was a lofty mountain, surrounded by a pleasant wood, in whose recesses was visible a very strong fortress built of polished stone.

And Arthur, when he saw it at a distance, commanded Caius to hasten on before him with all speed, and bring back word to him to whom the town belonged. So Caius, urging on his steed, hastened forward and entered the fortress, and on his return met Arthur just as he was entering the outer trench, and told him that the town belonged to King Gargol, to whom they were making their way.

And King Gargol said to him, "Who art thou? And wherefore hast thou entered into our presence with such haste? Yours is a weighty question, Arthur, and there are very few who know how to answer it. But take my advice now, dismount and eat with me, and rest to-day, for I see that you are overwrought with your toilsome journey; and to-morrow I will tell you what I know of the matter. Arthur denied that he was overwrought, pledging himself withal that he would never eat until he had learnt what he was in search of.

At last, however, pressed by the King and by the company who were feasting with him, he assented, and, having dismounted, he sat at table on the seat which had been placed for him opposite the King. But as soon as it was dawn, Arthur, remembering the promise which had been made to him, went to King Gargol and said, "O my dear King, make known to me, I beg, that which you promised yesterday you would tell me to-day. You are displaying your folly, Arthur. Until now I thought you were a wise man: as to the heart, the nature, and the ways of woman, no one ever had a conception of what they are, and I do not know that I can give you any information on the subject.

But I have a brother. King Torleil by name, whose kingdom borders on my own. He is older and wiser than I am: and indeed, if there is any one skilled in this matter, about which you are so anxious to know, I do not think it has escaped him. Seek him out, and desire him on my account to tell you what he knows of it. What is it? I have applied my mind to investigate the heart, the nature, and the ways of women, and have been unable to find anyone to tell me what they are. Do you therefore, to whom I have been sent, instruct me in these matters, and if they are known to you, do not keep them back from me.

Yours is a weighty question, Arthur, and there are few who know how to answer it. Wherefore, as this is not the time to discuss such matters, dismount and eat, and rest to-day, and to-morrow I will tell you what I know about them.

Arthur replied, "I shall be able to eat enough by-and-by. By my faith, I will never eat until I have learned that which I am in search of. But in the morning he came to King Torleil and began to ask him to tell what he had promised. Torleil confessed that he knew absolutely nothing about the matter, and directed Arthur to his third brother.

King Gorlagon, who was older than himself, telling him that he had no doubt that Gorlagon was mighty in the knowledge of the things he was inquiring into, if indeed it was certain that anyone had any knowledge of them. Dismount and eat: and to-morrow I will tell you what you wish to know. So when King Gorlagon saw that he could not by any means prevail upon him to dismount, he said, "Arthur, since you persist in your resolve to take no food until you know what you ask of me, although the labour of telling you the tale be great, and there is little use in telling it, yet I will relate to you what happened to a certain king, and thereby you will be able to test the heart, the nature, and the ways of women.

Yet, Arthur, I beg you, dismount and eat, for yours is a weighty question and few there are who know how to answer it, and when I have told you my tale you will be but little the wiser.

Tell on as you have proposed, and speak no more of my eating. Well, let your companions dismount and eat. Very well, let them do so. So when they had seated themselves at table, King Gorlagon said, "Arthur, since you are so eager to hear this business, give ear, and keep in mind what I am about to tell you.

There was a king well known to me, noble, accomplished, rich, and far-famed for justice and for truth. Now concerning this sapling, it had been decreed by fate that whoever should cut it down, and striking his head with the slenderer part of it, should say, "Be a wolf and have the understanding of a wolf," he would at once become a wolf, and have the understanding of a wolf.

And for this reason the King watched the sapling with great care and with great diligence, for he had no doubt that his safety depended upon it. So he surrounded the garden with a strong and steep wall, and allowed no one but the guardian, who was a trusted friend of his own, to be admitted into it; and it was his custom to visit that sapling three or four times a day, and to partake of no food until he had visited it, even though he should fast until the evening.

So it was that he alone understood this matter thoroughly. For she loved a youth, the son of a certain pagan king; and preferring his love to that of her lord, she had taken great pains to involve her husband in some danger so that the youth might be able lawfully to enjoy the embraces for which he longed. And observing that the King entered the garden so many times a day, and desiring to know the reason, she often purposed to question him on the subject, but never dared to do so.

The King answered that that was a matter which did not concern her, and that he was under no obligation to divulge it to her; whereupon she became furious, and improperly suspecting that he was in the habit of consorting with an adulteress in the garden, cried out, "I call all the gods of heaven to witness that I will never eat with you henceforth until you tell me the reason.

To which she replied, "You ought to have no secrets from your wife, and you must know for certain that I would rather die than live, so long as I feel that I am so little loved by you," and he could not by any means persuade her to take refreshment. Then the King, in too changeable and irresolute a mood and too devoted in his affection for his wife, explained to her how the matter stood, having first exacted an oath from her that she would never betray the secret to anyone, and would keep the sapling as sacred as her own life.

The Queen, however, having got from him that which she had so dearly wished and prayed for, began to promise him greater devotion and love, although she had already conceived in her mind a device by which she might bring about the crime she had been so long deliberating.

So on the following day, when the King had gone to the woods to hunt, she seized an axe, and secretly entering the garden, cut down the sapling to the ground, and carried it away with her. Dismount now and eat, and afterwards I will relate at greater length what remains. For yours is a weighty question, and there are few who know how to answer it, and when I have told you all you will be but little the wiser. The matter goes very well and pleases me much. Follow up, follow up what you have begun.

You are pleased then to hear what follows. Be attentive and I will proceed. But the wolf, after roaming for a space of two years in the recesses of the woods to which he had fled, allied himself with a wild she-wolf, and begot two cubs by her. And remembering the wrong done him by his wife as he was still possessed of his human understanding , he anxiously considered if he could in any way take his revenge upon her.

Now near that wood there was a fortress [5] at which the Queen was very often wont to sojourn with the King. When the bystanders saw too late what had happened they pursued the wolves with shouts. The wolves, when what they had done was made known, fled swiftly away and escaped in safety. The Queen, however, overwhelmed with sorrow at the calamity, gave orders to her retainers to keep a careful watch for the return of the wolves.

No long time had elapsed when the wolf, thinking that he was not yet satisfied, again visited the town with his companions, and meeting with two noble counts, brothers of the Queen, playing at the very gates of the palace, he attacked them, and tearing out their bowels gave them over to a frightful death.

Hearing the noise, the servants assembled, and shutting the doors caught the cubs and hanged them. But the wolf, more cunning than the rest, slipped out of the hands of those who were holding him and escaped unhurt.

Arthur, dismount and eat, for yours is a weighty question and there are few who know how to answer it. And when I have told you all, you will be but little the wiser. The wolf, overwhelmed with very great grief for the loss of his cubs and maddened by the greatness of his sorrow, made nightly forays against the flocks and herds of that province, and attacked them with such great slaughter that all the inhabitants, placing in ambush a large pack of hounds, met together to hunt and catch him; and the wolf, unable to endure these daily vexations, made for a neighbouring country and there began to carry on his usual ravages.

Now it chanced that a king was reigning over that country, young in years, of a mild disposition, and far-famed for his wisdom and industry: and when the countless destruction both of men and beasts wrought by the wolf was reported to him, he appointed a day on which he would set about to track and hunt the brute with a strong force of huntsmen and hounds. For so greatly was the wolf held in dread that no one dared to go to rest anywhere around, but everyone kept watch the whole night long against his inroads.

So one night when the wolf had gone to a neighbouring village, greedy for bloodshed, and was standing under the eaves of a certain house listening intently to a conversation that was going on within, it happened that he heard the man nearest him tell how the King had proposed to seek and track him down on the following day, much being added as to the clemency and kindness of the King.

When the wolf heard this he returned trembling to the recesses of the woods, deliberating what would be the best course for him to pursue. The King was wonderfully moved, and after looking at the wolf for some time and perceiving that there was no fierceness in him, but that he was rather like one who craved for pardon, was much astonished, and commanded that none of his men should dare to inflict any harm on him, declaring- that he had detected some signs of human understanding in him; so putting down his right hand to caress the wolf he gently stroked his head and scratched his ears.

Then the King seized the wolf and endeavoured to lift him up to him. But the wolf, perceiving that the King was desirous of lifting him up, leapt up, and joyfully sat upon the neck of the charger in front of the King. The King recalled his followers, [8] and returned home. Then the King said"I will try if there is any worth or strength in my wolf, and whether he can accustom himself to obey my commands. The wolf, well knowing how to capture this kind of prey, sprang up and pursued the stag, and getting in front of it attacked it, and catching it by the throat laid it dead in sight of the King.

Then the King called him back and said, "Of a truth you must be kept alive and not killed, seeing that you know how to show such service to us. Arthur, dismount and eat. For yours is a weighty question, and there are few who know how to answer it; and when I have told you all my tale you will be but little the wiser. If all the gods were to cry from heaven "Arthur, dismount and eat," I would neither dismount nor eat until I had learnt the rest. Whatever the King commanded him he performed, and he never showed any fierceness towards or inflicted any hurt upon any one.

He daily stood at table before the King at dinner time with his forepaws erect, eating of his bread and drinking from the same cup. Now it happened that the King had to go on a long journey outside his kingdom to confer with another king, and to go at once, as it would be impossible for him to return in less than ten days. So he called his Queen, and said, "As I must go on this journey at once, I commend this wolf to your protection, and I command you to keep him in my stead, if he will stay, and to minister to his wants.

However, if you have any doubt of it, I will have a chain made and will have him fastened up to my bed-ladder. For yours is a weighty question, there are few who know how to answer it; and when I have told you all my tale you will be but little the wiser. I have no wish to eat; and I beg you not to invite me to eat any more.

So the King set out, and the wolf remained with the Queen. But she did not show the care for him which she ought to have done. For he always lay chained, up though the King had commanded that he should be chained up at night only.

So on the eighth day after the King had started, they met in the bedchamber at midday and mounted the bed together, little heeding the presence of the wolf. And when he saw they had no intention of desisting from the iniquity on which they had embarked, he gnashed his teeth, and dug up the ground with his paws, and venting his rage over all his body, with awful howls he stretched the chain with such violence that it snapped in two.


Arthur et Gorlagon - Résumé



Arthur and Gorlagon



Folk-Lore/Volume 15/Arthur and Gorlagon




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