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Little he recked of his earldom's loss,
255 No more on his surcoat was blazoned the cross, But deep in his soul the sign he wore,
The badge of the suffering and the poor.
Sir Launfal's raiment thin and spare Was idle mail 'gainst the barbed air, 260 For it was just at the Christmas time;
So he mused, as he sat, of a sunnier clime,
He sees the snake-like caravan crawl
265 O'er the edge of the desert, black and small, Then nearer and nearer, till, one by one, He can count the camels in the sun,
As over the red-hot sands they pass
To where, in its slender necklace of grass, 270 The little spring laughed and leapt in the shade, And with its own self like an infant played, And waved its signal of palms.
"For Christ's sweet sake, I beg an alms; The happy camels may reach the spring, 275 But Sir Launfal sees only the grewsome thing, The leper, lank as the rain-blanched bone, That cowers beside him, a thing as lone And white as the ice-isles of Northern seas In the desolate horror of his disease.
180 And Sir Launfal said,
"I behold in thee
An image of Him who died on the tree;