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Sir Dinar

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A puff of wind shot over the hill, detaching the last Deceniber leaf from the sycamore on its snmmit. and swooped like a wave upon the roofs and chiinney stacks below. The smoke ascendiug through the chirnneya was caught midway and driveu back with showers of soot and wood ash, disconifiting the townsmen who lingered by their hearths to read the morning paper. The blast, its strength thus broken, feil flat upon the macadam of the inain street, scattering its fine dust into fan shaped figures, then died away westward in eddies. A in on g these eddies the sycamore leaf danced and twirled, now shooting along the gronnd upon its edge, like a tin disk, now whisked up to the level of the first story windows. A nurse, holding up a S-year-old ohild behind the pane, callee! out, poiuting after the leaf: "Look - there goes Sir Dinar!" Now the legend of Sir Dinar is as old as the round tablo, though later touches, easily detected, have been added to it. And this is how they teil it: Sir Dinar was the first sou and coineliest of King Geraint, who had left Arthur's court for his own castle above Portscathoin-Roseland and was buried, .when his time came, over the Nare, in his golden boat, with bis silver oars beside hini. To fill his seat at the round table he sent, in the lad's sixteenth year, this Dinar, who, in two years, was made knight by King Arthur, and in the third was turned an old man before he had achieved a single deed of note, as is to be shown. For on the fifth day after he was dubbed knight, upon the feast of Pentecost, there began the great quest of the Sancgrael, which took Sir Lancelot from the court, Sir Perceval, Sir Bors, Sir Gawaine, Sir Galahad and the flower of Arthur's knights. And because, after their going, it was all sad cheer at Camelot, and heavy, empty days Sir Dinar took two of his best f riends aside, both young knights, Sir Galhaltin and Sir Ozanua Ie Coeur Hardi, and spoke to them of riding from the court by stealth, "for," he said, "we have niany days beforo lis, and no villainy upou our conscience, and besides are eager. Who knows, then, but we may achieve this adventure of the Saucgrael?" So they listened and imparted it to another, Sir Sentrail, and the four rode forth privily one morning before the dawn and set their faces northward. Now, the day of their setting out was that next after Christmas and is the feast of Stephen the Martyr, and as they rode through a thick wood it came into Sir Dinar's mind that upon this day it was right to kill any bird that flew in remembrance that, when St. Stephen had all but. escaped froni the soldiers who guarded him, a small bird had snng in their ears and awakened them. By this the sky was growing white with the morning, but nothing yet clear to the sight, and while they pressed forward under the naked boughs, their horses' hoofs crackling the frozen undergrowth beneath them, Sir Dinar was aware of a bird's wing rnftiing ahead and let fly a bolt without warning his companions why he did this, who had forgotten what moruing it was and drew rein in their astonishment. But pressing forward in a minute they came npon a gerfalcou lying, with long lunes hanging about his feet and through his breast the hole that Sir Dinar's bolt had made. While they stooped over this bird the sun got up, and lifting their heads they saw a green glade before them, and in the midst of the glade three pavilions set, each of red sendal, that shoue at the first touch j of the morning. In the first pavilion slept seven knights, and in the second a score of damsels, but by the door of the third stood a lady, fair and tall, in a robe of samite, who, as they drew near to accost her, inquired of them: "Which of you four has slaiu my gerfalcon?" And when Sir Dinar confessed and began to make his excuse, "Silly knighc, " said she, "who couldst not guess that my falcon, too, was abroad to avenge the blessed Stephen ! Or dost think that it was a hawk, of all birds, that sang a sweet melody in the ears of his guards?" With that she laughed, as if pacified, and asked of their affairs, and being told that they rode in search of the Sancgrael she laughed again, saying: "Silly knights all, that seek it before you be bearded ! For three of you must faint and die on the quest, and you, sir, " turning to Sir Dinar, "must mauy times long to die, yet never reach nearer by a f oot. ' ' "Let it be as God will, " answered Sir Dinar. "But hast thou any tidings to guide us?" "I have heard, " said she, "that it was seen latest in the land of Gore, beyond Trent water. ' ' And with her white finger she pointed down a narrow glade that led to the northwest. So they thanked her and pricked on, none guessing that she herself was King ürience's wife of Gore, and none ether than Queen Morgan le Fay, the faroons enchantress, ! who for loss of her gerfalcou was ly sending Sir Dinar to his ruin. So al. that duy they rode, two and two, in ioe strait alley rhat she had poiuud out, and by her enchantnient9 : sho made the winter trees to move with j them, serried close on either hand, so j that, thougu thefour kuighte wist i ing of it, they advanced not a furlong for all their baste. But. toward uightfall there appearod close ahead a blaze of Windows lit and then a tall castle with dim towers soaring up and shaking to the din of minstrelsy. And fiiidiug a great company about the doors they lit down froni their horsen and stepped into the great linll, Sir Dinar leadiug them. For awhilü their eyeswere dazed, seeing that scouces flared in every window, and the place was full of knights and danisels brightly ciad, and the floor j shone. But while they were yet ing a baxid of maidens carne and uubuckled their arms and cast a shiuing cloak npon eaoh, whichwas hardlydono when :v lady came toward them out of the throng, and though she was truly the Queen Morgan Ie F;y they know her not at all, for by her uecroniancy she had alr vod her countenance. "Come, dance, " said she, "for in an instant the musicians will begin." Now the other three knights tarried awhile, boiug weary, but Sir Dinar stepped forward and caught the hand of a damsel, and she, as she gave it, laughed in his eyes. Sho was dressed all in scarlet, with scavlet shoes, and the hair lay on her shoulders like burnished gold. As Sir Diñar set his arm around her with a crah the merryband began, and floating out with him into the dance, her red shotjs twinkling and her tossed hair shaking spices uuder his nostrils, she leaned back a little in his arms and laughed again. It happened that Sir Galhaltin, leaning by the doorway, heard the laugh and saw her feet twinkle like blood i-ed moths, and he called to Sir Dinar. But Sir Diñar heard nothing, nor did any of the daucers turn their heads, though he called again more loudly. Then Sir Sentrail and Sir Ozanna also began to cali, fearing they knew not what for their comrade. But the guests still drif ted by as they were ghosts, and Sir Dinar, with the red blood showing beneath the down on his cheeks, smiled and whirled with the woruan upon his arm. By aud by his breath came shortly, and he would have rested, but she denied him. "For a moment, " he said, "because I have ridden f ar today. " But ahe hung the more heavily upon his arm, aud still the ïnusic went on. And now, gazing upon her, he was frightened, lor ifc seemed she was growing olderunder his eyes, withdeep lines sinking iuto her face, and the flesh of her neck and bosom shriveliug up so that the skin hung loose and gathered in wrinkles. And now he heard the voices of his companions calling about the door and wouid have cast off the Borceress and run to them. But when he tried, his arm was welded aiound her waist, nor could he stay his feet. The three knights now, seeing sweat upon his faoe, and the looks he cast toward tlietn, would have broken in and freed him, but they, too, were by enohantment huid there in the doorway. So, vvith thcir eyes starting, they must ueeds stay thcre and watch it all, and whilt) they stood the boards became as molten brass uuder Sir Dinar'sfeet, and the hag slowly withered in bis embrace, and still the mnsic played, and the other daucers cast him never a look as ho whirled round and round again. But at length, with never a stay in tho music, his partner's feet trailed hoavily, and bending forward she shook her whito locksclearof hergaunt eyes, and lauglied a third time, bringing her hps close to his. And the poison of death was in her lips as she kissed him upon the mouth. With that kiss there was a crash, the lights went out, and the music died away in a wail, and the three knights by the door were caught away suddenly and stunned by a great wind. Awaking, they found thernselves lying in the glade where they had come upon the three red pavilions. Their horses were cropping at the turf beside them, and Sir Dinar's horse stood in sight a little way off. But Sir Dinar himself was deep in the forest, twirling and spinning among the rotten leaves, and on his arm hung a corrupting corpse. For a whole day they sought him and found him not (for he heard nothing of their shouts), and toward evening mounted and rode forward after the Sancgrael, on which quest they died, all three, eaoh in his turn. But Sir Dinar remained and twirled and skipped tili the body he held was a skeleton, and still he twirled till it dropped away piecerneal, and yet again till it was but a stain of dust on his ragged sleeve. But before this his hair was white and his face wizened with age. But on a day a kuight in white armor came riding tiirough the forest, 1 ing somewhat heavily on his saddle bow as he rode, aud was aware of an old decrepit man that ran toward him, jigging and capering as if for gladness, yet caught him by Üje stirrup and looked up with rheumy tears in his eyes. "In God's name, who art thou?" asked the knight. He, too, was past his youth, but his face shone with a marvelous, strange glory. "I ani young Sir Dinar, that was made a knight of the round table but five days before Pentecost, and I know thee. Thon are Sir Galahad, who shouldst win the Sancgrael. Therefore by Christ'a power rid me of this enchantment. " "I have not won it yet," Sir Galahad answered, sighing. "Yet, poorcomrade, I may do sornething for thee, though I cannot stay thy dancing. " So he stretched out his hand and touched Sir Dinar, and by his touch Sir Dinar became a withered leaf of the wood. And when mothers see him dancing before the wind they teil this story


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