The Blue Flower/The Mill

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The Blue Flower by Henry van Dyke
The Mill

I[edit]

How the Young Martimor would Become a Knight and Assay Great Adventure

When Sir Lancelot was come out of the Red Launds where he did many deeds of arms, he rested him long with play and game in a land that is, called Beausejour. For in that land there are neither castles nor enchantments, but many fair manors, with orchards and fields lying about them; and the people that dwell therein have good cheer continually.

Of the wars and of the strange quests that are ever afoot in Northgalis and Lionesse and the Out Isles, they hear nothing; but are well content to till the earth in summer when the world is green; and when the autumn changes green to gold they pitch pavilions among the fruit-trees and the vineyards, making merry with song and dance while they gather harvest of corn and apples and grapes; and in the white days of winter for pastime they have music of divers instruments and the playing of pleasant games.

But of the telling of tales in that land there is little skill, neither do men rightly understand the singing of ballads and romaunts. For one year there is like another, and so their life runs away, and they leave the world to God.

Then Sir Lancelot had great ease for a time in this quiet land, and often he lay under the apple-trees sleeping, and again he taught the people new games and feats of skill. For into what place soever he came he was welcome, though the inhabitants knew not his name and great renown, nor the famous deeds that he had done in tournament and battle. Yet for his own sake, because he was a very gentle knight, fair-spoken and full of courtesy and a good man of his hands withal, they doted upon him.

So he began to tell them tales of many things that have been done in the world by clean knights and faithful squires. Of the wars against the Saracens and misbelieving men; of the discomfiture of the Romans when they came to take truage of King Arthur; of the strife with the eleven kings and the battle that was ended but never finished; of the Questing Beast and how King Pellinore and then Sir Palamides followed it; of Balin that gave the dolourous stroke unto King Pellam; of Sir Tor that sought the lady's brachet and by the way overcame two knights and smote off the head of the outrageous caitiff Abelleus,--of these and many like matters of pith and moment, full of blood and honour, told Sir Lancelot, and the people had marvel of his words.

Now, among them that listened to him gladly, was a youth of good blood and breeding, very fair in the face and of great stature. His name was Martimor. Strong of arm was he, and his neck was like a pillar. His legs were as tough as beams of ash-wood, and in his heart was the hunger of noble tatches and deeds. So when he heard of Sir Lancelot these redoubtable histories he was taken with desire to assay his strength. And he besought the knight that they might joust together.

But in the land of Beausejour there were no arms of war save such as Sir Lancelot had brought with him. Wherefore they made shift to fashion a harness out of kitchen gear, with a brazen platter for a breast-plate, and the cover of the greatest of all kettles for a shield, and for a helmet a round pot of iron, whereof the handle stuck down at Martimor's back like a tail. And for spear he got him a stout young fir-tree, the point hardened in the fire, and Sir Lancelot lent to him the sword that he had taken from the false knight that distressed all ladies.

Thus was Martimor accoutred for the jousting, and when he had climbed upon his horse, there arose much laughter and mockage. Sir Lancelot laughed a little, though he was ever a grave man, and said, "Now must we call this knight, La Queue de Fer, by reason of the tail at his back."

But Martimor was half merry and half wroth, and crying "'Ware!" he dressed his spear beneath his arm. Right so he rushed upon Sir Lancelot, and so marvellously did his harness jangle and smite together as he came, that the horse of Sir Lancelot was frighted and turned aside. Thus the point of the fir-tree caught him upon the shoulder and came near to unhorse him. Then Martimor drew rein and shouted: "Ha! ha! has Iron-Tail done well?"

"Nobly hast thou done," said Lancelot, laughing, the while he amended his horse, "but let not the first stroke turn thy head, else will the tail of thy helmet hang down afore thee and mar the second stroke!"

So he kept his horse in hand and guided him warily, making feint now on this side and now on that, until he was aware that the youth grew hot with the joy of fighting and sought to deal with him roughly and bigly. Then he cast aside his spear and drew sword, and as Martimor walloped toward him, he lightly swerved, and with one stroke cut in twain the young fir-tree, so that not above an ell was left in the youth's hand.

Then was the youth full of fire, and he also drew sword and made at Sir Lancelot, lashing heavily as, he would hew down a tree. But the knight guarded and warded without distress, until the other breathed hard and was blind with sweat. Then Lancelot smote him with a mighty stroke upon the head, but with the flat of his sword, so that Martimor's breath went clean out of him, and the blood gushed from his mouth, and he fell over the croup of his horse as he were a man slain.

Then Sir Lancelot laughed no more, but grieved, for he weened that he had harmed the youth, and he liked him passing well. So he ran to him and held him in his arms fast and tended him. And when the breath came again into his body, Lancelot was glad, and desired the youth that he would pardon him of that unequal joust and of the stroke too heavy.

At this Martimor sat up and took him by the hand. "Pardon?" he cried. "No talk of pardon between thee and me, my Lord Lancelot! Thou hast given me such joy of my life as never I had before. It made me glad to feel thy might. And now am I delibred and fully concluded that I also will become a knight, and thou shalt instruct me how and in what land I shall seek great adventure."

II[edit]

How Martimor was Instructed of Sir Lancelot to Set Forth Upon His Quest

So right gladly did Sir Lancelot advise the young Martimor of all the customs and vows of the noble order of knighthood, and shew how he might become a well-ruled and a hardy knight to win good fame and renown. For between these two from the first there was close brotherhood and affiance, though in years and in breeding they were so far apart, and this brotherhood endured until the last, as ye shall see, nor was the affiance broken.

Thus willingly learned the youth of his master; being instructed first in the art and craft to manage and guide a horse; then to handle the shield and the spear, and both to cut and to foin with the sword; and last of all in the laws of honour and courtesy, whereby a man may rule his own spirit and so obtain grace of God, praise of princes, and favour of fair ladies.

"For this I tell thee," said Sir Lancelot, as they sat together under an apple-tree, "there be many good fighters that are false knights, breaking faith with man and woman, envious, lustful and orgulous. In them courage is cruel, and love is lecherous. And in the end they shall come to shame and shall be overcome by a simpler knight than themselves; or else they shall win sorrow and despite by the slaying of better men than they be; and with their paramours they shall have weary dole and distress of soul and body; for he that is false, to him shall none be true, but all things shall be unhappy about him."

"But how and if a man be true in heart," said Martimor, "yet by some enchantment, or evil fortune, he may do an ill deed and one that is harmful to his lord or to his friend, even as Balin and his brother Balan slew each the other unknown?"

"That is in God's hand," said Lancelot. "Doubtless he may pardon and assoil all such in their unhappiness, forasmuch as the secret of it is with him."

"And how if a man be entangled in love," said Martimor, "Yet his love be set upon one that is not lawful for him to have? For either he must deny his love, which is great shame, or else he must do dishonour to the law. What shall he then do?"

At this Sir Lancelot was silent, and heaved a great sigh. Then said he: "Rest assured that this man shall have sorrow enough. For out of this net he may not escape, save by falsehood on the one side, or by treachery on the other. Therefore say I that he shall not assay to escape, but rather right manfully to bear the bonds with which he is bound, and to do honour to them."'

"How may this be?" said Martimor.

"By clean living," said Lancelot, "and by keeping himself from wine which heats the blood, and by quests and labours and combats wherein the fierceness of the heart is spent and overcome, and by inward joy in the pure worship of his lady, whereat none may take offence."

"How then shall a man bear himself in the following of a quest?" said Martimor. "Shall he set his face ever forward, and turn not to right, or left, whatever meet him by the way? Or shall he hold himself ready to answer them that call to him, and to succour them that ask help of him, and to turn aside from his path for rescue and good service?"

"Enough of questions!" said Lancelot. "These are things whereto each man must answer for himself, and not for other. True knight taketh counsel of the time. Every day his own deed. And the winning of a quest is not by haste, nor by hap, but what needs to be done, that must ye do while ye are in the way."

Then because of the love that Sir Lancelot bore to Martimor he gave him his own armour, and the good spear wherewith he had unhorsed many knights, and the sword that he took from Sir Peris de Forest Savage that distressed all ladies, but his shield he gave not, for therein his own remembrance was blazoned. So he let make a new shield, and in the corner was painted a Blue Flower that was nameless, and this he gave to Martimor, saying: "Thou shalt name it when thou hast found it, and so shalt thou have both crest and motto."

"Now am I well beseen," cried Martimor, "and my adventures are before me. Which way shall I ride, and where shall I find them?"

"Ride into the wind," said Lancelot, "and what chance soever it blows thee, thereby do thy best, as it were the first and the last. Take not thy hand from it until it be fulfilled. So shalt thou most quickly and worthily achieve knighthood."

Then they embraced like brothers; and each bade other keep him well; and Sir Lancelot in leather jerkin, with naked head, but with his shield and sword, rode to the south toward Camelot; and Martimor rode into the wind, westward, over the hill.

III[edit]

How Martimor Came to the Mill a Stayed in a Delay

So by wildsome ways in strange countries and through many waters and valleys rode Martimor forty days, but adventure met him none, blow the wind never so fierce or fickle. Neither dragons, nor giants, nor false knights, nor distressed ladies, nor fays, nor kings imprisoned could he find.

"These are ill times for adventure," said he, "the world is full of meat and sleepy. Now must I ride farther afield and undertake some ancient, famous quest wherein other knights have failed and fallen. Either I shall follow the Questing Beast with Sir Palamides, or I shall find Merlin at the great stone whereunder the Lady of the Lake enchanted him and deliver him from that enchantment, or I shall assay the cleansing of the Forest Perilous, or I shall win the favour of La Belle Dame Sans Merci, or mayhap I shall adventure the quest of the Sangreal. One or other of these will I achieve, or bleed the best blood of my body." Thus pondering and dreaming he came by the road down a gentle hill with close woods on either hand; and so into a valley with a swift river flowing through it; and on the river a Mill.

So white it stood among the trees, and so merrily whirred the wheel as the water turned it, and so bright blossomed the flowers in the garden, that Martimor had joy of the sight, for it minded him of his own country. "But here is no adventure," thought he, and made to ride by.

Even then came a young maid suddenly through the garden crying and wringing her hands. And when she saw him she cried him help. At this Martimor alighted quickly and ran into the garden, where the young maid soon led him to the millpond, which was great and deep, and made him understand that her little hound was swept away by the water and was near to perishing.

There saw he a red and white brachet, caught by the swift stream that ran into the race, fast swimming as ever he could swim, yet by no means able to escape. Then Martimor stripped off his harness and leaped into the water and did marvellously to rescue the little hound. But the fierce river dragged his legs, and buffeted him, and hurtled at him, and drew him down, as it were an enemy wrestling with him, so that he had much ado to come where the brachet was, and more to win back again, with the brachet in his arm, to the dry land.

Which when he had done he was clean for-spent and fell upon the ground as a dead man. At this the young maid wept yet more bitterly than she had wept for her hound, and cried aloud, "Alas, if so goodly a man should spend his life for my little brachet!" So she took his head upon her knee and cherished him and beat the palms of his hands, and the hound licked his face. And when Martimor opened his eyes he saw the face of the maid that it was fair as any flower.

Then was she shamed, and put him gently from her knee, and began to thank him and to ask with what she might reward him for the saving of the brachet.

"A night's lodging and a day's cheer," quoth Martimor.

"As long as thee liketh," said she, "for my father, the miller, will return ere sundown, and right gladly will he have a guest so brave."

"Longer might I like," said he, "but longer may I not stay, for I ride in a quest and seek great adventures to become a knight."

So they bestowed the horse in the stable, and went into the Mill; and when the miller was come home they had such good cheer with eating of venison and pan-cakes, and drinking of hydromel, and singing of pleasant ballads, that Martimor clean forgot he was in a delay. And going to his bed in a fair garret he dreamed of the Maid of the Mill, whose name was Lirette.

IV[edit]

How the Mill was in Danger and the Delay Endured


In the morning Martimor lay late and thought large thoughts of his quest, and whither it might lead him, and to what honour it should bring him. As he dreamed thus, suddenly he heard in the hall below a trampling of feet and a shouting, with the voice of Lirette crying and shrieking. With that he sprang out of his bed, and caught up his sword and dagger, leaping lightly and fiercely down the stair.

There he saw three foul churls, whereof two strove with the miller, beating him with great clubs, while the third would master the Maid and drag her away to do her shame, but she fought shrewdly. Then Martimor rushed upon the churls, shouting for joy, and there was a great medley of breaking chairs and tables and cursing and smiting, and with his sword he gave horrible strokes.

One of the knaves that fought with the miller, he smote upon the shoulder and clave him to the navel. And at the other he foined fiercely so that the point of the sword went through his back and stuck fast in the wall. But the third knave, that was the biggest and the blackest, and strove to bear away the Maid, left bold of her, and leaped upon Martimor and caught him by the middle and crushed him so that his ribs cracked.

Thus they weltered and wrung together, and now one of them was above and now the other; and ever as they wallowed Martimor smote him with his dagger, but there came forth no blood, only water.

Then the black churl broke away from him and ran out at the door of the mill, and Martimor after. So they ran through the garden to the river, and there the churl sprang into the water, and swept away raging and foaming. And as he went he shouted, "Yet will I put thee to the worse, and mar the Mill, and have the Maid!"'

Then Martimor cried, "Never while I live shalt thou mar the Mill or have the Maid, thou foul, black, misbegotten churl!" So he returned to the Mill, and there the damsel Lirette made him to understand that these three churls were long time enemies of the Mill, and sought ever to destroy it and to do despite to her and her father. One of them was Ignis, and another was Ventus, and these were the twain that he had smitten. But the third, that fled down the river (and he was ever the fiercest and the most outrageous), his name was Flumen, for he dwelt in the caves of the stream, and was the master of it before the Mill was built.

"And now," wept the Maid, "he must have had his will with me and with the Mill, but for God's mercy, thanked be our Lord Jesus!"

"Thank me too," said Mlartimor.

"So I do," said Lirette, and she kissed him. "Yet am I heavy at heart and fearful, for my father is sorely mishandled and his arm is broken, so that he cannot tend the Mill nor guard it. And Flumen is escaped; surely he will harm us again. Now I know not, where I shall look for help."

"Why not here?" said Martimor.

Then Lirette looked him in the face, smiling a little sorrily. "But thou ridest in a quest," quoth she, "thou mayst not stay from thy adventures"

"A month," said he.

"Till my father be well?" said she.

"A month," said he.

"Till thou hast put Flumen to the worse?" said she.

"Right willingly would I have to do with that base, slippery knave again" said he, "but more than a month I may not stay, for my quest calls me and I must win worship of men or ever I become a knight."

So they bound up the miller's wounds and set the Mill in order. But Martimor had much to do to learn the working of the Mill; and they were busied with the grinding of wheat and rye and barley and divers kinds of grain; and the millers hurts were mended every day; and at night there was merry rest and good cheer; and Martimor talked with the Maid of the great adventure that he must find; and thus the delay endured in pleasant wise.

V[edit]

Yet More of the Mill, and of the Same Delay, also of the Maid

Now at the end of the third month, which was November, Martimor made Lirette to understand that it was high time he should ride farther to follow his quest. For the miller was now recovered, and it was long that they had heard and seen naught of Flumen, and doubtless that black knave was well routed and dismayed that he would not come again. Lirette prayed him and desired him that he would tarry yet one week. But Martimor said, No! for his adventures were before him, and that he could not be happy save in the doing of great deeds and the winning of knightly fame. Then he showed her the Blue Flower in his shield that was nameless, and told her how Sir Lancelot had said that he must find it, then should he name it and have both crest and motto.

"Does it grow in my garden?" said Lirette.

"I have not seen it," said he, "and now the flowers are all faded."

"Perhaps in the month of May?" said she.

"In that month I will come again," said he, "for by that time it may fortune that I shall achieve my quest, but now forth must I fare."

So there was sad cheer in the Mill that day, and at night there came a fierce storm with howling wind and plumping rain, and Martimor slept ill. About the break of day he was wakened by a great roaring and pounding; then he looked out of window, and saw the river in flood, with black waves spuming and raving, like wood beasts, and driving before them great logs and broken trees. Thus the river hurled and hammered at the mill-dam so that it trembled, and the logs leaped as they would spring over it, and the voice of Flumen shouted hoarsely and hungrily, "Yet will I mar the Mill and have the Maid!"

Then Martimor ran with the miller out upon the dam, and they laboured at the gates that held the river back, and thrust away the logs that were heaped over them, and cut with axes, and fought with the river. So at last two of the gates were lifted and one was broken, and the flood ran down ramping and roaring in great raundon, and as it ran the black face of Flumen sprang above it, crying, "Yet will I mar both Mill and Maid."

"That shalt thou never do," cried Martimor, "by foul or fair, while the life beats in my body."

So he came back with the miller into the Mill, and there was meat ready for them and they ate strongly and with good heart. "Now," said the miller, "must I mend the gate. But how it may be done, I know not, for surely this will be great travail for a man alone."

"Why alone?" said Martimor.

"Thou wilt stay, then?" said Lirette.

"Yea," said he.

"For another month?" said she.

"Till the gate be mended," said he.

But when the gate was mended there came another flood and brake the second gate. And when that was mended there came another flood and brake the third gate. So when all three were mended firm and fast, being bound with iron, still the grimly river hurled over the dam, and the voice of Flumen muttered in the dark of winter nights, "Yet will I mar--mar--mar--yet will I mar Mill and Maid."

"Oho!" said Martimor, "this is a durable and dogged knave. Art thou feared of him Lirette?"

"Not so," said she, "for thou art stronger. But fear have I of the day when thou ridest forth in thy quest."

"Well, as to that," said he, "when I have overcome this false devil Flumen, then will we consider and appoint that day."

So the delay continued, and Martimor was both busy and happy at the Mill, for he liked and loved this damsel well, and was fain of her company. Moreover the strife with Flumen was great joy to him.

VI[edit]

How the Month of May came to the Mill, and the Delay was Made Longer

Now when the month of May came to the Mill it brought a plenty of sweet flowers, and Lirette wrought in the garden. With her, when the day was spent and the sun rested upon the edge of the hill, went Martimor, and she showed him all her flowers that were blue. But none of them was like the flower on his shield.

"Is it this?" she cried, giving him a violet. "Too dark," said he.

"Then here it is," she said, plucking a posy of forget-me-not.

"Too light," said he.

"Surely this is it," and she brought him a spray of blue-bells.

"Too slender," said he, "and well I ween that I may not find that flower, till I ride farther in my quest and achieve great adventure."

Then was the Maid cast down, and Martimor was fain to comfort her.

So while they walked thus in the garden, the days were fair and still, and the river ran lowly and slowly, as it were full of gentleness, and Flumen had amended him of his evil ways. But full of craft and guile was that false foe. For now that the gates were firm and strong, he found a way down through the corner of the dam, where a water-rat had burrowed, and there the water went seeping and creeping, gnawing ever at the hidden breach. Presently in the night came a mizzling rain, and far among the hills a cloud brake open, and the mill-pond flowed over and under, and the dam crumbled away, and the Mill shook, and the whole river ran roaring through the garden.

Then was Martimor wonderly wroth, because the river had blotted out the Maid's flowers. "And one day," she cried, holding fast to him and trembling, "one day Flumen will have me, when thou art gone."

"Not so," said he, "by the faith of my body that foul fiend shall never have thee. I will bind him, I will compel him, or die in the deed."

So he went forth, upward along the river, till he came to a strait Place among the hills. There was a great rock full of caves and hollows, and there the water whirled and burbled in furious wise. "Here," thought he, "is the hold of the knave Flumen, and if I may cut through above this rock and make a dyke with a gate in it, to let down the water another way when the floods come, so shall I spoil him of his craft and put him to the worse."

Then he toiled day and night to make the dyke, and ever by night Flumen came and strove with him, and did his power to cast him down and strangle him. But Martimor stood fast and drave him back.

And at last, as they wrestled and whapped together, they fell headlong in the stream.

"Ho-o!" shouted Flumen, "now will I drown thee, and mar the Mill and the Maid."

But Martimor gripped him by the neck and thrust his head betwixt the leaves of the gate and shut them fast, so that his eyes stood out like gobbets of foam, and his black tongue hung from his mouth like a water-weed.

"Now shalt thou swear never to mar Mill nor Maid, but meekly to serve them," cried Martimor. Then Flumen sware by wind and wave, by storm and stream, by rain and river, by pond and pool, by flood and fountain, by dyke and dam.

"These be changeable things," said Martimor, swear by the Name of God."

So he sware, and even as the Name passed his teeth, the gobbets of foam floated forth from the gate, and the water-weed writhed away with the stream, and the river flowed fair and softly, with a sound like singing.

Then Martimor came back to the Mill, and told how Flumen was overcome and made to swear a pact. Thus their hearts waxed light and jolly, and they kept that day as it were a love-day.


VII[edit]

How Martimor Bled for a Lady and Lived for a Maid, and how His Great Adventure Ended and Began at the Mill

Now leave we of the Mill and Martimor and the Maid, and let us speak of a certain Lady, passing tall and fair and young. This was the Lady Beauvivante, that was daughter to King Pellinore. And three false knights took her by craft from her father's court and led her away to work their will on her. But she escaped from them as they slept by a well, and came riding on a white palfrey, over hill and dale, as fast as ever she could drive.

Thus she came to the Mill, and her palfrey was spent, and there she took refuge, beseeching Martimor that he would hide her, and defend her from those caitiff knights that must soon follow.

"Of hiding," said he, "will I hear naught, but of defending am I full fain. For this have I waited."

Then he made ready his horse and his armour, and took both spear and sword, and stood forth in the bridge. Now this bridge was strait, so that none could pass there but singly, and that not till Martimor yielded or was beaten down.

Then came the three knights that followed the Lady, riding fiercely down the hill. And when they came about ten spear-lengths from the bridge, they halted, and stood still as it had been a plump of wood. One rode in black, and one rode in yellow, and the third rode in black and yellow. So they cried Martimor that he should give them passage, for they followed a quest.

"Passage takes, who passage makes!" cried Martimor. "Right well I know your quest, and it is a foul one."

Then the knight in black rode at him lightly, but Martimor encountered him with the spear and smote him backward from his horse, that his head struck the coping of the bridge and brake his neck. Then came the knight in yellow, walloping heavily, and him the spear pierced through the midst of the body and burst in three pieces: so he fell on his back and the life went out of him, but the spear stuck fast and stood up from his breast as a stake.

Then the knight in black and yellow, that was as big as both his brethren, gave a terrible shout, and rode at Martimor like a wood lion. But he fended with his shield that the spear went aside, and they clapped together like thunder, and both horses were overthrown. And lightly they avoided their horses and rushed together, tracing, rasing, and foining. Such strokes they gave that great pieces were clipped away from their hauberks, and their helms, and they staggered to and fro like drunken men. Then they hurtled together like rams and each battered other the wind out of his body. So they sat either on one side of the bridge, to take their breath, glaring the one at the other as two owls. Then they stepped together and fought freshly, smiting and thrusting, ramping and reeling, panting, snorting, and scattering blood, for the space of two hours. So the knight in black and yellow, because he was heavier, drave Martimor backward step by step till he came to the crown of the bridge, and there fell grovelling. At this the Lady Beauvivante shrieked and wailed, but the damsel Lirette cried loudly, "Up! Martimor, strike again!"

Then the courage came into his body, and with a great might he abraid upon his feet, and smote the black and yellow knight upon the helm by an overstroke so fierce that the sword sheared away the third part of his head, as it had been a rotten cheese. So he lay upon the bridge, and the blood ran out of him. And Martimor smote off the rest of his head quite, and cast it into the river. Likewise did he with the other twain that lay dead beyond the bridge. And he cried to Flumen, "Hide me these black eggs that hatched evil thoughts." So the river bore them away.

Then Martimor came into the Mill, all for-bled; "Now are ye free, lady," he cried, and fell down in a swoon. Then the Lady and the Maid wept full sore and made great dole and unlaced his helm; and Lirette cherished him tenderly to recover his life.

So while they were thus busied and distressed, came Sir Lancelot with a great company of knights and squires riding for to rescue the princess. When he came to the bridge all bedashed with blood, and the bodies of the knights headless, "Now, by my lady's name," said he, "here has been good fighting, and those three caitiffs are slain! By whose hand I wonder?"

So he came into the Mill, and there he found Martimor recovered of his swoon, and had marvellous joy of him, when he heard how he had wrought.

"Now are thou proven worthy of the noble order of knighthood," said Lancelot, and forthwith he dubbed him knight.

Then he said that Sir Martimor should ride with him to the court of King Pellinore, to receive a castle and a fair lady to wife, for doubtless the King would deny him nothing to reward the rescue of his daughter.

But Martimor stood in a muse; then said he, "May a knight have his free will and choice of castles, where he will abide?"

"Within the law," said Lancelot, "and by the King's word he may."

"Then choose I the Mill," said Martimor, "for here will I dwell."

"Freely spoken," said Lancelot, laughing, "so art thou Sir Martimor of the Mill; no doubt the King will confirm it. And now what sayest thou of ladies?"

"May a knight have his free will and choice here also?" said he.

"According to his fortune," said Lancelot, "and by the lady's favour, he may."

"Well, then," said Sir Martimor, taking Lirette by the hand, "this Maid is to me liefer to have and to wield as my wife than any dame or princess that is christened."

"What, brother," said Sir Lancelot, "is the wind in that quarter? And will the Maid have thee?"

"I will well," said Lirette.

"Now are you well provided," said Sir Lancelot, "with knighthood, and a castle, and a lady. Lacks but a motto and a name for the Blue Flower in thy shield."

"He that names it shall never find it," said Sir Martimor, "and he that finds it needs no name."

So Lirette rejoiced Sir Martimor and loved together during their life-days; and this is the end and the beginning of the Story of the Mill.