Page:Marie de France Lays Mason.djvu/132

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108
French Legends

king, with no loyalty in him. She who sets her love more highly than she can reach, may pluck no fruit from the tree. The rich man deems that love is his of right. He prays little of his friend, for he thinks none dare take her from his hand, and that her tenderness is his by prize of lordship."

When she had ceased, Equitan made answer,

" Lady, I can offer you but short thanks for your words, since they savour of scant courtesy. You speak of love as a burgess makes a bargain. Those who desire to get, rather than to give, often find that they have the worser half of the business. There is no lady under heaven—so she be courteous and kind and of a good heart—but would grant her grace to a true lover, even though she have beneath her cloak only a rich prince in his castle. Those who care but for a fresh face—tricksters in love as a cozener with dice—are justly flouted and deceived, as oftentimes we see. None wastes pity on him who receives the stripes he deserves. Dear lady, let me make myself plain. Do not regard me as your King; look on me as your servant and your friend. I give my word and plight my troth that all my happiness shall be found in your pleasure. Let me not die for your love. You shall be the Dame, and I the page; you shall be the scornful beauty, and I the prayer at your knee."

The King prayed the lady so urgently, so tenderly he sued for grace, that at the last she assured him of her love, and gave him the gift of her heart. They granted rings one to another, and pledged affiance between them. They kept this faith, and guarded this love, till they died together, and there was an end to all.

Equitan and the lady loved for a great while without it coming to the ears of any. When the King desired to have speech of his friend, he told his household that