One of England's mellowest legends concerns a Countess of Salisbury who found her garter slipping, in the merry, ardent days of Edward III (1312-77). Down and down slipped the garter until it tumbled before the knowing eyes of a pack of smirking courtiers. But Edward III, with instant chivalry, stooped, retrieved the ribbon, tied it just below his own royal knee, and exclaimed to the Courtiers in immortal reproof: "Honi soit qui mal y pense!" (Evil be to him who evil thinks!).

Soon no knightly honor was so prized as membership in the "Society of the Garter," founded by Edward...

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