WHEREIN THEY REACH THE CASTLE OF THE DREAM After leaving the forest, they crossed a bridge over a small river, below a castle that Faith named Shalott. (17) They came to another crossroads, where many roads branched from the highway. Faith turned to Pilgrim, and said, "Here are other roads that thou might travel at a later time, for they lead to the Country of Avalon (11), and to Logres (11), and Markland (19), and Narnia (20). There is also the way to Middle Earth (21) and Lankhmar (22), and the Glass Castle (11), and the Commonwealth (23), and Cimmeria (24), and even that place called Sanctuary (25). Many, many other places of enchantment and renown will be thine to explore. They are good to visit from time to time, and offer much in adventure. Thou can'st even visit Camelot in many guises, though one of them is indeed a silly place." (26) Justice smiled a grim smile, and indicated another road, that led to a precipice. "Beware of that road, Pilgrim, for that is the road taken by those that cannot ... or will not ... see the reality of Mundania, and try to live in this Dream at the cost of their obligations to that bleak country. Mundania is drear, and cheerless, but we all must preserve our contact with it, and believe in it just as much as we believe in these Enchanted Lands. Take that road, and thou shalt surely die on the jagged rocks at the bottom of yon cliff." Prudence spoke low, and said, "Some might call such a thing worthy of the Seneshal Cynicism, but it is not so foul, but merely a regarding of our fair land with clear eyes." They continued up the central road, thru a countryside of surpassing beauty, with many meadows and small woods, and on some of the meadows there were Tournaments, and archers shot at the clout, and fair ladies rode a-Maying, and there were Faires and other diversions. Many knights passed them, traveling to adventures, and each saluted the travelers most courteously as they passed. There was one that bore a red horse's head as his cognizance (27), and another dressed all in green, with his armour worked into the forms of leaves and branches, who carried a great axe with an edge of exceeding sharpness. His companion was a knight who bore a shield emblazoned with "Gules, a Pentagram Or," and the two of them traded jokes about "where they were headed," and "how to get ahead," and "don't lose thy head over it," and laughed mightily over them. (28) There was even one, that was greeted with grave and great courtesy by all, that was an old man, of exceeding thinness, mounted upon a spavined nag, with rusty armor, and followed by a short, fat man upon a mule. "There," said Hope, "Is proof that this Dream of our is - not- at all impossible, but in its way very real indeed." (29) There were others that passed them too, in garb that was strange to Pilgrim's eyes; garb that seemed to be almost medieval, but partook of a strange, fantastic quality. There were warriors in fur, with painted faces, and their ladies in almost nothing at all, and seeming Vikings, but with winged helmets that no Viking would have worn, and other very strange and exotic costumes that seemed -almost- right, but were subtly different. "What are those?" Pilgrim inquired, looking very confused. "That is no garb of these lands that I have seen?" Charity smiled, and said, "They perhaps are not - historical,- but they certainly fit the seeming fantasy we build here. There is room enough in the Known Worlde for all who follow the Dream, no matter how strange their garb, or different their persona, for Chivalry knows no continent, and, an it be before 1650 of the Common Era, if it be chivalrous, then we make it welcome." "And, many times," she said, as an afterthought, "They provide a most refreshing change from the usual!" "And," Prudence added, "Remember that -thy- Dream may not be quite the same as another's, but that is no reason to deny that other's Dream, and lose the chance of adding to thine own!" There was also a Tournament that had ended, and there were several folk upon the empty field, picking up every scrap of paper and trash, and scouring the ground to pristine cleanliness. Pilgrim gazed upon them, and said, "I knew not that there were servants in this Dream." Temperance smiled, and said, "Those are no servants, but Peers of the Dream, who make the field clean after our use of it. It is our duty, and our honor, to leave any place cleaner than when we found it. That is where one might find the -real- Peerage: doing the work needed to maintain this Faerie Kingdom!" The company rounded a turn in the road, and beheld a castle, shining in the short distance. It was crafted of purest white stone, and was brave with banners. The castle was in the center of a field filled with roses of all tinctures. There were trumpeters sounding a salute as they rode across the drawbridge, and they heard cheering. "This is the Castle of the Dream," said Faith. "This is our home. Welcome, and thrice welcome indeed!" In the Castle were many who served the Dream: Knights, and Ladies, and Cavaliers, and Saracens, and Mongols, and even Barbarians in fur and leather, and Samurai and their ladies from the island of Japan. There were folk dressed in all styles, from the simple to the fabulous, from poor to rich, but all held to the Light, and all welcomed the Travelers with smiles and cheering. They offered goblets, full with the Milk of Human Kindness, and the Wine of Gladness, and cried "Welcome, sisters! Welcome, brothers! Welcome and well met indeed!" There were fair banners, and music, and dancing, and it seemed to Pilgrim that he had come to a home he had yearned for, but had not known he had lost. They rode across the outer court into the inner courtyard, and beheld a sturdy keep, with stone steps sweeping down from its massive doors. "Behold!" said Faith, "The High King and his Queen!" Down the steps of the keep came two crowned figures. King Honour was somewhat middle-aged, and wore his hair to his shoulders. Iron-grey it was, and his beard was the same. His eyes were crinkled at the corners from much smiling, but they were stern withal, and he walked lightly for a man of such size. His Queen, called Love, was slender, dressed in purest white, and her beauty made the very stones of the castle weep for joy. She carried a single Rose, and she glided beside her Lord with grace and dignity. There was with them also their Fool, called Humor, and he aped the King to such perfection that even the King and Queen laughed. "What is this?" said the Mongol. "Dost thou suffer such an august personage to be mocked?" "Nay, good Master!" laughed Prudence. "Humor is here to remind us that we needs must not take ourselves -too- seriously, and become grim and cheerless within this Dream!" "I see." the Mongol said. "I am reminded of one of ours, who was known as Basta." And he smiled as if remembering many good times. The Fool carried a small, grey duck, and would, from time to time, pull forth from its mouth a silver-grey riband, sticky on one side, and wave it to the crowd, with many droll caperings. "What is the meaning of that riband, and the duck?" said Pilgrim. Temperance laughed mightily, and said, "The duck produces a riband that holds the Universe together, Pilgrim. That tape is most vital to our endeavors, indeed!" "Besides," she continued, giggling, "It weighs the same as a piece of wood, or a very small rock, and floats on water." "It's a fair cop!" snickered Hope. Faith looked at them, and smiled, and said, "Thou both art wise in the ways of Science!" And all three fell to smothered laughter. (26) There came also a Minstrel, called Master Song, playing upon a fair-bedecked lute, and singing glad music, and the Seneshal of the Castle, Sir Joy, with his ring of keys, and beside him, dressed in the black and gold of his office, was Sir Courtesie, the Marshall. Leading the small procession was Sir Service, and he wore the green and gold of a Herald. Following close beside the Queen was another lady, and Pilgrim froze in fear for an instant. "Look! Lust has entered the castle!" He spoke with much agitation, and his face paled in fear. Hope laughed, and said, "Look again, for that is Desire, and she is verily the twin of Lust at first glance, but a second glance will show the difference indeed." Pilgrim looked again, and saw that indeed she was the twin of Lust, but shone with a radiant and warm purity, as the Sun of the morning, and was neither twisted nor deformed, but stood straight, and smiled at the company with a smile that lit their hearts with a warmth that would never leave them. Behind came a procession of men and ladies, each crowned, and the crowds cheered them with love and trust. "Who are they, that receive such honor?" asked Pilgrim. Charity smiled, and said, "Those are the Barons and Baronessess of the Known Worlde, and it is upon their shoulders that the Worlde rests. They are the support, and backbone of our Faerieland." "And look thou upon those that follow," said Hope. Behind the Barons and Baronesses walked children, of all ages, from babes to young men and women in the first glow of adulthood, and all had eyes that shone with a light that echoed the glow from the candle of Arthur. Hope smiled, and said, "Those are the children, our real hope, for they were born to the Dream. Some leave us for Mundania, and never return, but those that remain, or return, are truly our most valuble wealth, for they will carry on after us." The King and Queen walked to the travelers, and embraced the Seven Children of Virtue, and called them "daughter" and "son." "What is this?" said Pilgrim. "Art thou truly the children of this Crown?" Faith gazed gravely upon him, and spoke. "We are indeed sisters and brothers! Faith, Hope and Charity, and our youngest sister, Prudence, and Justice, Temperance and Fortitude." said Faith. "I am the Chatelaine of the Castle of the Dream, and it is only thru us that one may win unto the Dream, and survive the Seven Children of Darkness, that are called by some, the Seven Deadly Sins." "Thou hast gained the prize, and won to the Castle. Come, and stand before our father and mother!" Faith smiled. The Herald came before Faith, and she gave him Arthur's Candle, and the Herald raised it before the multitude, and its light seemed multiplied a thousand times. The Herald cried, in a mighty voice, "Behold! The Candle of Arthur and the Light of Chivalry!" And all the dwellers within the castle cheered a mighty cheer of true gladness and joy. Pilgrim strode to the High King and Queen, and bowed, and the King spoke unto him, and said: "Welcome indeed, Pilgrim!" "Thou hast proven thyself already to be a Knight...of the Sword, and of the Laurel and of the Pelican. We do not and cannot create thee as such, but we do and can recognize thee as a Knight, and proclaim thee to Our people." "Therefore kneel, and take the Oath, Pilgrim." Princess Faith stepped forth, bearing the White Belt, and Princess Hope brought the Golden Chain, that bore the badges of the Laurel and of the Pelican pendant therefrom, and Princess Charity the Spurs, whilst Princess Prudence presented him with the old and battered shield, that had renewed itself, and shone with the device "Or, a Laurel Wreath vert." Prince Justice girded him with a Sword, full bedecked with jewels that glowed in the light, and Prince Temperance led forth five Squires, who armed him in shining plate of proof. Prince Fortitude then came forward, and gave unto him a helm, with a single White Plume thereon (the Cavalier was heard to mutter, "Ha! I told thee so!") and Pilgrim knelt to take the Oath. He knelt, and all in the Hall knelt with him, and a hush fell over the assembled crowd. The King drew forth his Sword, that has no Name but that given by each that sees it, and held it above Pilgrim's head. A silver glow seemed to emanate from the blade, that enfolded King, Queen and Pilgrim in one shining nimbus of light. Pilgrim repeated the Oath, in a voice filled with emotion.
"I, Pilgrim, swear upon this Sword and by my Honour:"
The King struck Pilgrim lightly upon the shoulders and head with the flat of the Sword, and said, quietly, "Therefore, thus I dub thee Knight! Be thou faithful, and true to thine honor!" Pilgrim rose, and all in the great Hall rose with him, and cheered mightily, until the echoes of the cheering filled the Castle of the Dream. And it seemed that a vision appeared behind the Thrones, of a still, quiet lake, and an arm, clothed in white samite rose from the waters bearing a Sword, and shook it three times, filling the room with a great light. (11) The Minstrel stepped forth, and tuned his lute, and the crowd grew silent, and sang these words with him:Go back to the home page! Go to the End Notes and Appendix!
"Last night I had the strangest dream In this bleak century: I dreamed that people the world around Believed in Chivalry." "I dreamed I saw a Kingly Crown Enshrined in laurel leaves, With Grace and Joy and Purity Attendant at his feet." "I dreamed I saw the perfect Knight Receive his accolade; And minstrels sang and children laughed An some soft forest glade." "I dreamed I saw the finest thing That ever man could make Grow great and strong and undefiled: Pray God I never wake!" "Last night I had the strangest dream In this bleak century: I dreamed that people the world around Believed in Chivalry." (30)
Thus did Pilgrim Laurelshield win unto the Dream, and find the Castle of the Dream, in that land of Faery called the Known Worlde. And thus may all that read these words find their Dream, and know joy and happiness therefrom.