An Arthurian tale featuring an order of knights dedicated to the ideals of the Roman Republic, by then long-gone but not forgotten. Faced with a Britain that, unified under Arthur, leaves no space in which they might establish a New Republic, they cross the channel and embark upon a decades-long quest through France, seeking a place for their dream.
Eventually all of the knights have either died or abandoned the quest. One last, however — by then old and grey — both survives and holds to the quest. At last he finds himself travelling through a trackless forest. He comes upon a pair of saplings that have grown up crossing each other, creating a crude, pointed archway. Through this arboreal gap the light seems brighter; riding through in curiosity, he meets a beautiful lady who he had not seen before crossing. She hails him and asks his quest; he answers, and she smiles. She tells him that her country recently lost its leader, and that its people were desirous of change; that it was ripe for the establishment of a republic.
For a moment hope flares in the old knight's breast, until the memory of his age crushes out the flame. He tells the woman that his frailty leaves him in no position to found a government, that he had held to the quest more out of a moral refusal to relinquish what he held to be right and true than out of hope of success. But the lady laughs, and with a gesture bids him look into a nearby still pool. He obeys, and to his startlement see reflected a man in his prime, just as the knight had been in his day. He turns to the lady, and she simply smiles and offers to him her hand. He takes it, and, leaving behind his horse, goes with her into her country and a New Republic built on the memory and hope of the Old.
Gawain and the Green Knight