THE FAIR MAID OF ASTOLAT 127
' Fair damsel, I thank you,' said Sir Lancelot, ' but truly I shall never have a wife. But in token and thanks of all your good will towards me, gladly will I give a thousand pounds yearly when you set your heart upon some other Knight.'
' Of such gifts I will have none,' answered Elaine, ' and I would have you know, Sir Lancelot, that if you refuse to wed me, my good days are done.'
' Fair damsel,' said Sir Lancelot, 'I cannot do the thing that you ask.'
At these words she fell down in a swoon, and her maids bore her to her chamber, where she made bitter sorrow. Sir Lancelot thought it would be well for him to depart before she came to her senses again, and he asked Sir Lavaine what he would do.
'What should I do ?' asked Sir Lavaine, 'but follow you if you will have me.' Then Sir Bernard came and said to Sir Lancelot, ' I see well that my daughter Elaine will die for your sake.'
' I cannot marry her,' answered Sir Lancelot, ' and it grieves me sorely, for she is a good maiden, fair and gentle.'
' Father,' said Sir Lavaine, ' she is as pure and good as Sir Lancelot has said, and she is like me, for since first I saw him I can never leave him.' And after that they bade the old man farewell and came unto Winchester, where the King and all the Knights of the Round Table made great joy of him, save only Sir Agrawaine and Sir Mordred. But the Queen was angry and would not speak to him, though he tried by all means to make her. Now when the Fair Maid of Astolat knew he was gone, she would neither eat nor sleep, but cried after Sir Lancelot all the day long. And when she had spent ten days in this manner, she grew so weak that they thought her soul must quit this world, and the priest came to her, and bade her dwell no more on earthly things. She would not listen to him, but cried ever after