Not arch, like The Favershams--but a playful ballad of gallantry, devotion, and wisdom, mesmerizing in design and illustration. Sir Cedric sets out, properly, ""to find some adventure and fun""--a bald-pated knight-let atop a long, long-legged white steed. ""Four square on the bridge stood a fierce-looking knight/who was known far and wide as Black Ned./He had Fat Matilda locked up in his tower/and he'd threatened to chop off her head./Matilda, though fat, was a princess, you see/and could have any man that she chose/But Black Ned was bad-tempered, dirty and mean/and had hairs growing out of his nose."" Black Ned will be brought down, of course; Sir Cedric and Matilda will come together. And, in a final stunning sequence (out of the Renaissance, comic opera, and Boutet de Monvel) Sir Cedric will turn back Black Ned's attempted revenge: ""For Ned is that kind of fellow/who likes to push people around./And if you don't stop them, they only get worse./ At least, that's what I've always found."" The sumptuous border decorations echo the sly formality of the text; the illustrations are striking in design, pattern, texture--and packed with incidental detail. But they're also meaningful. This is at once historical pageantry and satirical comedy, on a child's-eye level.