Under King Constantine

Katrina Trask
Under King Constantine, by
Katrina Trask

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Title: Under King Constantine
Author: Katrina Trask
Release Date: December 18, 2003 [eBook #10495]
Language: English
Character set encoding: ISO-8859-1
E-text prepared by Ted Garvin, Rosanna Yuen, and Project Gutenberg
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Under King Constantine

By Katrina Trask
Third Edition

To My Husband.

The following tales, which have no legendary warrant, are supposed to
belong to the time, lost in obscurity, immediately subsequent to King
Arthur's death; when, says Malory, in the closing chapter of LA MORT
D'ARTHURE, "Sir Constantine, which was Sir Cadors son of
Cornwaile, was chosen king of England; and hee was a full noble
knight, and worshipfully hee ruled this realme"

The great King Constantine is at the hunt; The brilliant cavalcade of
knights and dames, On palfreys and on chargers trapped in gold And
silver and red purple, ride in mirth Along the winding way, by hill and
tarn And violet-sprinkled dell. Impatient hounds Sniff the keen
morning air, and startled birds Rustle the foliage redolent with spring.
From time to time some courtier reins his steed Beside the
love-enkindling Gwendolaine, Whose wayward moods do vary as the
winds,-- Now wooing with her soft, seductive grace; Now fascinating
with her stately pride; Anon, bewitching by her recklessness Of wilful
daring in some wild caprice Which no one could anticipate or stay.
How fair she is to-day! How beautiful! Her hunting-robe is bluer than
the sky,-- Matching one phase of her great, changeful eyes,-- Clasped
with twin falcons of unburnished gold, The colour of her brown hair in
the sun. The white plumes, drooping from her hunting-cap, Leave her
alluring lips in tempting sight, But hide the growing shadow in her eyes.
For she marks none of all the court to-day Save Sir Sanpeur, the

passing noble knight Whose bearing doth bespeak heroic deeds, There
where he rides with the sweet maid Ettonne.
Sir Torm, the husband of fair Gwendolaine, Is all unconscious of aught
else beside The outward seeming, 'tis enough for him That she is gay
and beautiful, and smiles. He has a nature small and limited By sight,
and sense, and self, and his desires; A heart as open as the day to all
That touches his quick impulse, when it costs Him naught of sacrifice.
The needy poor Flock to his castle for the careless gift Of falling dole,
but his esquire is faint From his exacting service, night and day His
Lady Gwendolaine is satiate With costly gems, palfreys, and samite
thick With threads of gold and silver, but the sweet Heart subtleties and
fair observances Are lost in the of course of married life. He sees, too
quickly, does she fail to smile, But never sees the shadow in her eyes
His hounds are beaten till they scarce draw breath, And then caressed
beyond the worth of hounds. His vassals know not if, from day to day,
He will approve, or strike them with a curse. His humours are the
byword of the court, And, were it not for his good-heartedness, His
prowess, and undaunted strength at arms, Men would speak lightly of
him in disdain; He is so often in a stormy rage, Or supplicating humour
to atone,-- Too petty to repent in very truth, Too light and yielding in
repentance, when His temper's force is spent, for dignity Of truest
knighthood. No one feels his faults So quickly, with such flushing of
regret And shame, as Gwendolaine. But she is wife, His honour is her
own, and she would hide From all the world, and even from herself,
His pettiness and narrowness of soul. So she forgets, or doth pretend
forget, Where he has failed, save when he passes bounds; Then her
swift scorn--a piercing force he dreads-- Flashes upon him like a
probing lance, To silence merriment if it be coarse, To hush his wrath
when it is violent.
Though powerful to check, she ne'er could change The underflow and
current of their life. In the first years, gone by, ere she had grown A
woman of the world, she had essayed To stem the tide of shallow
vanity, To realise her girlhood's high ideal, And make her home more
reverent, and more fine. Sir Torm had overborne her words with jest
And noisy laughter, vowing she would learn Romance and sweet

simplicity were well For harper minstrel, singing in the hall, But
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