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Chapter 9
--------In the midst was seen
A lady of a more majestic mien,
By stature and by beauty mark'd their sovereign Queen.
* * * * *
And as in beauty she surpass'd the choir,
So nobler than the rest was her attire;
A crown of ruddy gold enclosed her brow,
Plain without pomp, and rich without a show;
A branch of Agnus Castus in her hand,
She bore aloft her symbol of command.
The Flower and the Leaf
William de Wyvil and Stephen de Martival, the marshals of the field, were the first to
offer their congratulations to the victor, praying him, at the same time, to suffer his
helmet to be unlaced, or, at least, that he would raise his visor ere they conducted him
to receive the prize of the day's tourney from the hands of Prince John. The Disinherited
Knight, with all knightly courtesy, declined their request, alleging, that he could not at
this time suffer his face to be seen, for reasons which he had assigned to the heralds
when he entered the lists. The marshals were perfectly satisfied by this reply; for amidst
the frequent and capricious vows by which knights were accustomed to bind themselves
in the days of chivalry, there were none more common than those by which they
engaged to remain incognito for a certain space, or until some particular adventure was
achieved. The marshals, therefore, pressed no farther into the mystery of the
Disinherited Knight, but, announcing to Prince John the conqueror's desire to remain
unknown, they requested permission to bring him before his Grace, in order that he
might receive the reward of his valour.
John's curiosity was excited by the mystery observed by the stranger; and, being
already displeased with the issue of the tournament, in which the challengers whom he
favoured had been successively defeated by one knight, he answered haughtily to the
marshals, "By the light of Our Lady's brow, this same knight hath been disinherited as
well of his courtesy as of his lands, since he desires to appear before us without
uncovering his face. ---Wot ye, my lords," be said, turning round to his train, "who this
gallant can be, that bears himself thus proudly?"
"I cannot guess," answered De Bracy, "nor did I think there had been within the four
seas that girth Britain a champion that could bear down these five knights in one day's
jousting. By my faith, I shall never forget the force with which he shocked De Vipont.
The poor Hospitaller was hurled from his saddle like a stone from a sling."