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

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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."

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"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."

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The Blue Flower
Henry van Dyke

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