w-: M. a
... -- ----- -
.... ...... ..
.. .... .. ......
..... .. .....
....... ... \
. . .
...... .. ....
... ........... ..........
....... ..... .. .
The Baldwin Library
The Book of
"Ube 1kino oaw before Win a little jbip, apparelleb
The Book of King Arthur
Stories from Sir Thomas Malory's Morte Darthur
Introduction by John W. Hales
Illustrations from drawings by A. G. Walker, Sculptor
Wells Gardner, Darton & Co.
T HERE is no more delightful book of its kind in
the English language than Malory's Morte
Darthur, and there are few that in certain periods at
least have had more numerous or more illustrious
readers. It was written at a time when our language
was greatly unsettled, and it undoubtedly exercised
much influence in settling it. It furnished an excellent
specimen and a conspicuous standard of English
prose. At an epoch when the age of chivalry was
swiftly passing away, it caught and preserved its
fading colours. It reduced the old cumbrous and end-
less Romances to convenient and readable dimensions,
and provided a charming summary of them both for
its own age and all ages to come.
With a volume of such importance in so many
ways it is well to begin an acquaintance as soon as may
be. And it is hoped that this selection and simplifica-
tion of Malory's stories may be of service in introducing
young students to one of the masterpieces of medieval
literature, and in exciting in them a desire to know it
fully and directly. Such a knowledge will prove both
a pleasure and a profit; and we feel sure they will be
grateful for having been led towards it in their early
years, and having been betimes brought into the midst
of a society so famous as the Knights of the Round
Table, and so fascinatingly portrayed by one who
knew intimately both the older literature that de-
scribed it and the surviving customs that in a sense
We might dwell at length on any one of the points
of interest we have enumerated above; but we propose
to confine ourselves to a matter not there mentioned,
and about which till lately there has been very little to
be said, viz. the biography of the author of the Morte
This is a question to which it is impossible not to
feel attracted. When we read any work of power or
beauty, we always long to know who wrote it. We
are not content with the mere perusal of the written
words ; we like to picture to ourselves him who penned
them, his circumstances, his conduct and character,
and to feel assured that he writes with competence and
as one having authority. Moreover, some knowledge
of the life of an author explains and illustrates his
work; it gives us a clue to guide us through it; it
makes intelligible many things that would otherwise
be dark and obscure. Thus it is a real gain as well as a
true satisfaction that recent research has pretty certainly
identified the author of the great Arthurian abridgment
that is to this day the most popular production of the
close of the Middle Ages.
The credit of this interesting discovery, both as to
priority and as to detail, belongs to Professor Kittredge
of Harvard University, U.S.A. In the early spring
of the year 1894 he announced and shortly afterwards
published an article on it ; and then in 1896 contributed
a full statement of his case to- the volume issued by
some distinguished pupils of Professor Child's in
affectionate memory of that eminent scholar and most
kindly and genial man. But often it happens that a
discovery seems "in the air" ; and in that same year
1896 Mr. T. W. Williams, of Flax Bourton, Somerset,
noted the occurrence of the name of Sir Thomas
Malory in the Historical MSS. Commission's Report on
the MSS. preserved at Wells Cathedral, and shrewdly,
and there can be little doubt accurately, suspected this
might well be the famous writer. Then Mr. A. T.
Martin, of Clifton College, Bristol, took up the in-
vestigation, and though at first we think going off in
a wrong direction and attaching himself to a Thomas
Malory who was not a knight, he subsequently advanced
an alternative candidate who may with confidence be
identified with the Sir Thomas brought forward by
Professor Kittredge and by Mr. Williams, and in a
paper read before the Society of Antiquaries, and
published in the 56th volume of the Archeologia (1898),
gave the results of his very valuable researches as to
the history of the Malory family.
It perpetually happens that we go looking far away
in out-of-the-way places for what is close at hand.
We scrutinize the skiey tracts, says a Latin writer, for
what lies at our feet. And so it has been in the
present case. What the wide and indefatigable quest
of one of the best living researchers, Mr. Sidney Lee,
failed to find, lies ready to hand, as Professor Kittredge
pointed out, in such a well-known book as Dugdale's
Warwickshire. It is Dugdale who furnishes the leading
facts that concern us.
Dugdale tells us how one John Malory of Winwick
in Northamptonshire married Alice Revell, a daughter
of John Revell of Newbold Revell or Fenny Newbold
in the parish of Monks Kirby, some four or five miles
North-by-West of Rugby in Warwickshire; and how,
John Revell and his brothers dying without heirs, and
a partition of his estate being made, the son of the
said John Malory and Alice Revell had assigned him
the manor of Fenny Newbold "with certain lands in
Esenhall, Stretton, and Strod Aston and the capital
message or mannour house of Paplington." This
John was a man of some distinction in his day, and
held various important positions ; but his claim to our
attention just now is that he was the grandfather of
the famous Sir Thomas Malory who wrote the Morte
We will quote Dugdale's words, and then add some
other facts about this literary benefactor who has so long
been looked for in vain, and is at last revealed to us.
He, i.e. John, the son of the John Malory who
married Alice Revell, left issue Thomas, who in King
Henry V.'s time was of the retinue to Ric.
Beauchamp, Earl of Warwick, at the siege of Calais,
and served there with one lance and two archers,
receiving for his lance and one archer xx libras per
annum and their diet, and for the other archer x marks
and no diet. This Thomas, being a knight, in the
23rd year of Henry VI. [Sept. Ist, 1444-Aug.
3ISt, 1445] served for this Shire in the Parliament
then held at Westminster, and dying March 14, in the
Ioth year of Edward IV. [i. e. 1470, but there seems
an error here-the year should be 1471, as we learn
from two other original sources] lieth buried under a
marble in the Chapel of St. Francis [Stow says the Chapel
of the Apostles, but he is almost certainly inaccurate as
to this matter] at the Grey Friars near Newgate in the
suburbs of London. To whom succeeded Nicholas his
grandchild, viz. the son of Robert, who died in his
As careful research has discovered amongst many
Malorys in several parts of the country-in Yorkshire,
in Leicestershire, in Northamptonshire, in Cambridge-
shire, in Kent-no other Sir Thomas, and as the author
of the Morte Darthur specially describes himself as
Thomas Malory, Knight, and states that he finished his
work in the ninth year of Edward IV. (March 4, 1469-
March 3, 1470), there can be very little question that this
Sir Thomas Malory of Newbold Revell, Warwickshire,
is he who till now has been to his countless readers only
a voice crying in the wilderness of the fifteenth century.
This famous author then, whose work will probably
remain to the end of time the supreme embodiment
of Arthurian romance, belonged by birth to the Mid-
lands-belonged to the same county as Shakespeare
and George Eliot," not to mention many lesser and
yet brilliant lights ; and, if Dugdale's statement as to
his earliest military service is accurate-though what is
meant by the siege of Calais is obscure (" Calais is
in all probability a slip for "Rouen," 1418, as Mr.
Gairdner kindly suggests to us)-he must have been
born not later than the close of the reign of King
Richard II.-i. e. than 1399, or just before the death
of Chaucer. His connection with Richard Beauchamp,
Earl of Warwick, brought him into close familiarity
with one who was the best living impersonation of that
chivalry of which he was to be the chief and enduring
celebrator. He studied from life knight-errantry as
it still survived. And one can scarcely doubt that the
image of the great captain of his youth often gave
reality to the pictures of Sir Lancelot and other
legendary heroes which he painted with such knowledge
and sympathy; for, to quote Prof. Kittredge, "the
history of Warwick's life, as set down by John Rous,
chantry priest and antiquary, and almost a contem-
porary of the great earl, reads like a roman d'aventure."
When the time came to write, Malory had no need to
"get up his subject. He had spent all his years from
his very youth in studying it.
Beauchamp died in 439 ; but probably Malory's
connection with his house was unbroken. The Earl
of Warwick possessed large possessions and immense
influence all over the midland counties ; and Henry,
the son of Richard, a seemly lord of person," appeared
likely to occupy a scarcely less important position.
But at the age of twenty-two-
"Our flower was in flushing
When blighting was nearest "-
he died; and then only Henry's daughter's life lay
between Richard Neville, the future "King-maker," who
had married Anne, a sister of Henry's, and the Earldom
of Warwick. That daughter survived her father only
three years ; and in 1449 Richard Neville became
Earl of Warwick.
Meanwhile, Sir John Malory has been succeeded by
his son Thomas, in 1433 or '4; and Sir Thomas has
been one of the representatives of his county in the
Parliament of 1444 and '5.
At present we know little of Sir Thomas' career
beyond the three facts already mentioned. As we have
said, it may be presumed that his attachment to the
family of Beauchamp, three times linked by marriage
with the family of Neville, continued firm and true,
when the title of Warwick was held no longer by a
Beauchamp but by a Neville. And at the beginning of
the Wars of the Roses we may believe with fair certainty
that Sir Thomas Malory sided with the Earl of Warwick,
whose vigour and prowess were then winning him the
title of the King-maker ; nor can his so siding, if the
circumstances of the kingdom and the absolute incom-
petence of Henry VI. are considered, excite any mistrust
of his judgment or of his patriotism. We find him
marching under Edward IV. in 1462 against the
Lancastrian forces in the north. In some "Brief
Notes of occurrences under Henry VI. and Edward
IV.," published by the Camden Society (1880) from a
Lambeth Library MS., we have given the names of
dukes, earls, barons, and knights being with our
sovereign lord King Edward in his journey into
Scotland at the feast of Saint Andrew in the month of
December anno domini MCCCCLXII.," and amongst
the "milites" or knights is mentioned "Thomas
But in a year or two, as is well known, there began-
to be strained relations between the Yorkist king and
the subject to whom he owed so much. Probably
enough the yoke of the Nevilles was felt to be intoler-
able, and a prince never notable for any habit of
self-restraint resolved to throw it off altogether. It
would seem that for some time Sir Thomas Malory
adhered to the King-maker ; for in the autumn of 1468
we find him specially with several others excepted from
the King's pardon. For this discovery, as mentioned
above, we have to thank Mr. T. W. Williams. After
a long list of subjects in general to which the pardon
extends "-we quote from the Historical MSS. Com-
mission's Report on the MSS. of Wells Cathedral-" it
is provided that it shall not extend to any transgressions
committed subsequent [sic] to March 4, anno regni 5S
[ i. e. March 4, 1465] ; nor to Humphry Nevyll miles,
Thomas Malorie miles; Robert Marchall of Culveham
in Oxford county, armiger ; nor to Hugh Mulle, late
of London, gentilman; Gervase Clyston [Clyfton ?] late
of London, miles ; William Verdon, late of London,
scryvener; Peter House, late of London, armiger,"
and five others, four of them certainly Welshmen.
What immediately befell Sir Thomas in conse-
quence of this document we do not know. He may have
been taken prisoner, or he may have surrendered him-
self. It is plausibly conjectured by Mr. A. W. Pollard,
in the "Bibliographical Note" prefixed to the ex-
cellent edition of Le Morte Darthur prepared by him
for Messrs. Macmillan, that the author was for a time
in prison, and that some part at least of his admirable
version was executed while he was a prisoner, pre-
sumably in the Tower, with the shadow of death
enveloping him. His study was a dungeon, as was
Raleigh's and Bunyan's. Mr. Pollard calls attention
to a passage in which a personal cry seems audible,
though he is speaking of the woe of another. "So Sir
Tristram," writes Malory, "endured there [in Sir
Darras' cell] great pain, for sickness had overtaken
him, and that is the greatest pain a prisoner may have.
For all the while a prisoner may have his health of
body he may endure under the mercy of God and in
hope of good deliverance; but when sickness toucheth
a prisoner's body, then may a prisoner say all wealth
is him bereft, and then he hath cause to wail and to
weep. Right so did Sir Tristram when sickness had
undertaken him; for then he took such sorrow that
he had almost slain himself" (Book ix., chap. 37)-
And the closing words of the last chapter of the last
Book, taken in connection with a phrase in the passage
just quoted, seem to imply that he was still a prisoner:
"Pray for me," he says, "while I am on live that God
send me good deliverance, and when I am dead, I pray
you all pray for my soul."
These closing words were written in the ninth year
of King Edward the Fourth," i. e. in the year beginning
on March 4, 1469, and ending on March 3, 1470.
Very possibly Sir Thomas was pardoned and set free in
the autumn of 1469, when a general amnesty was pro-
claimed. The author of the historical fragment printed
by Hearne at the end of his edition of Sprott's
Chronicle tells us how certain rebels were pardoned
soon after All-Hallow-tide, 1469 ; and so the author
of the Chronicle of the Rebellion in Lincolnshire, 1470,
published in the Camden Society Miscellany, 1847,
records how our said sovereign lord [Edward IV.], as
a prince inclined to show his mercy and pity to his
subjects rather than rigour and straitness of his laws,
pardoned of late to his said rebels all reasons and
felonies, trespasses and offences committed and done
by them against his Highness afore the feast of
Christenmas last past, trusting that thereby he should
have courage, caused, and induced them from that
time forth to have been of good, kind, and loving
demeanour against his Highness." And Fabian in his
London Chronicle states that "this year , soon
after All-hallow-tide proclamations were made thorough
the city of London that theKing had pardoned the
northern men of their riot, and as well for the death
of the Lord Rivers as all displeasures by them before
that time done." Those amnesties have a special
reference, no doubt; but they serve to indicate what
was a fact, that a hopeful, however vain, attempt was
made that autumn to bring about a better condition
of things that might lead to a permanent peace; and
we may justifiably suppose it was then that Malory
was released from his durance vile, which however he
had turned to such. excellent account.
It may further be supposed that by this time he
was fully aware of the disloyalty and treason of his
feudal lord, and that he now finally severed himself
from dubious intrigues which had long been approach-
ing and were now manifestly reaching rebellion. The
King-maker had become more and more self-seeking
in his aims and purposes; his personal wrongs-it
may be allowed the King he had made treated him
somewhat ungratefully-outweighed all patriotic con-
siderations; his country was once more to be ravaged
by civil war, and an alliance formed with the party
he had so long detested and crushed rather than the
house of Neville should suffer any slight or suppression.
We venture to suggest that Malory's adherence to this
Earl of Warwick ended when the said Earl turned
traitor to all the principles that had determined his
career before the rise of the Woodvilles. We may
believe that Malory shared Warwick's dislike of that
so suddenly and extravagantly promoted family, and
was not unready to intrigue against it ; but it seems
clear that he was not one of those who out of spite
against the Woodvilles or out of devotion to the
Nevilles withdrew their allegiance from the dynasty of
York. The passage at the close of his work, from which
we have already made a quotation, fully recognizes the
domination of Edward IV., and it was written just when
Warwick's plans for its overthrow-plans of which
Malory must have had knowledge--were fully matur-
ing, if not matured. In fact the breach between the
King and his maker" was then irreparable, however
specious the faces they wore or tried to wear. There
can be little doubt, the date of the writing considered,
that in the beginning of his last book Malory is in his
own mind protesting against renewed unsettlement and
revolution. He has mentioned how the people had
in large numbers deserted King Arthur for the upstart
Mordred, and apostrophizes all Englishmen to see
"what a mischief here was." "Now might not," he
adds, "these Englishmen hold us [sic] content with
him. Lo, thus was the old custom and usage of this
land. And also men say that we of this land have not yet
lost nor forgotten that custom and usage. Alas, this is a
great default of all Englishmen, for there may no thing
please us no term." Surely this is a manifest remon-
strance against the re-opening of a war that had already
cost England so much blood, and been carried on
with such brutal fury.
And Malory was now an old man-for the Middle
Ages a very old man; he had lived his three score
years and ten; and they were not "by reason of
strength" to be four score years.
He died in the spring of 1471, on March i4th,
.according to the inscription on his tomb as preserved
in the Grey Friars Register (see the 5th volume of
the Collectanea Topographica et Genealogica), or on the
12th, according to the Inquis. post morlem, as noted
by Mr. A. T. Martin. He was buried in one of the
chapels of one of the most glorious churches of medieval
London-the church of the Grey Friars, just to the
north of St. Paul's Cathedral. Queens, duchesses,
countesses, earls, barons, and some thirty-four
knights," "in all six hundred sixty and three persons
of quality," lay or were to lie there. Not far off
was the field where he had witnessed many such
a chivalrous encounter as he so fondly chronicles, or
where he had himself jousted :
Like that Arthur who with lance in rest,
From spur to plume a star of tournament,
Shot thro' the lists of Camelot, and charged
Before the eyes of ladies and of Kings.
JOHN W. HALES.
erein mna be seen noble chitalrg, couriesl, humanity,
frietbliness, harbiness, lobe, frienbship, .oluarbice, murder,
hate, birtne, sin. ~ac after the goob, anb leabe ithe ebil, aub it
shall bring onu to goob fame anrb renolon .... All is
turitltl for our boItrine, anb for to beware that Wue fall not to
bite nor sin, but to exercise aub follow birtue, by ohich i e
may come anb attain to goob fame anb renoWn in this life,
anb after this short aub t.Aiint-itotI life to come unto eber-
1.i-till bliss in heab.en, the tohich re grant us, What
reigteth in heaben, the blesseb Zrinitg. Amaen."
KING ARTHUR- PAGF
THE MARVEL OF THE SWORD I
How ARTHUR WAS CROWNED KING 6
THE SIEGE OF THE STRONG TOWER II
THE BATTLE OF THE KINGS 15
A PROPHECY OF DOO 20
THE KNIGHT OF THE FOUNTAIN 24
THE SWORD EXCALIBUR 32
THE ROUND TABLE 35
THE MARVELLOUS ADVENTURE OF THE MAGIC SHIP 42
THE FALSE CRAFT OF MORGAN LE FAY 46
HOW KING ARTHUR GOT HIS OWN SWORD AGAIN 50
THE MANTLE OF PRECIOUS STONES. 55
THE DREAM OF THE DRAGON AND THE BOAR .
SIR LANCELOT OF THE LAKE-
THE STRONG KNIGHT OF THE FOREST .73
THE FOUR QUEENS 77
THE MANOR BY THE FORD 84
How SIR LANCELOT SLEW TWO GIANTS 91
CHAPEL PERILOUS AND THE WICKED SORCERESS .98
THE DECEIT OF THE FALCON 105
THE BOY OF THE KITCHEN-
THE THREE GIFTS 112
THE SCORNFUL DAMSEL 120
THE BLACK KNIGHT OF THE BLACK LAWNS 127
THE GREEN KNIGHT 133
THE SCORNFUL DAMSEL GROWS KIND 138
THE RED KNIGHT OF THE RED LAWNS 146
THE LADY OF CASTLE PERILOUS 152
THE FOREST KNIGHT-
THE BOYHOOD OF TRISTRAM 161
A KNIGHT ROYAL 167
LA BELLE ISEULT .. 176
THE BROKEN SWORD. 184
HOW SIR TRISTRAM CAME TO CAMELOT 188
"RATHER DEATH THAN DISHONOUR" 195
THE MAGIC DRAUGHT 201
THE DRINKING-HORN OF MORGAN I.E FAY 207
ISEULT OF BRITTANY 213
THE FOREST OF STRANGE ADVENTURES 219
THE WILD MAN OF THE WOODS 227
"FOR LOVE OF SIR LANCELOT!" 235
THE FALSE TREASON OF MORGAN I.E FAY 240
AT THE CASTLE OF MAIDENS 246
THE THIRD DAY OF THE TOURNAMENT 251
THE QUEST OF THE TEN KNIGHTS 255
THE STRANGE SHIELD OF MORGAN LE FAY 262
THE TOMBSTONE BY THE RIVER OF CAMELOT 269
OUT OF CORNWALL INTO ENGLAND 276
A FALSE KNIGHT-COWARD 282
CHASED BY THE KING'S FOOL 287
KING FOX AT CAMELOT 293
"BEWARE, I COUNSEL THEE, OF TREACHERY" 300
THE SIEGE OF TINTAGEL CASTLE 306
"FALSE HAST THOU EVER BEEN; SO WILT THOU END!" 313
THE QUEST OF THE HOLY GRAIL-
THE SIEGE PERILOUS 321
HOW GALAHAD WAS MADE KNIGHT 325
MARVELS, AND GREATER MARVELS 332
THE LAST TOURNAMENT 340
SIR GALAHAD'S WHITE SHIELD. 347
THE ADVENTURE OF THE CROWN OF GOLD 352
THE CASTLE OF MAIDENS 359
THE VISION AT THE CHAPEL IN THE FOREST 363
THE REPENTANCE OF SIR LANCELOT 367
THE CHAMBER WITH THE SHUT DOOR 374
How SIR GALAHAD SAW THE HOLY GRAIL 381
THE DEATH OF ARTHUR-
THE DEPARTING OF SIR LANCELOT 388
THE VENGEANCE OF SIR GAWAINE 395
THE BATTLE IN THE WEST 401
"THE NOBLEST KNIGHT OF THE WORLD" 409
" Arthur pulled the sword out easily."
FRONTISPIECE-" The King saw before him a little ship, apparelled
Heading to Introduction .
,, Contents .
Arthur pulled the sword out easily
Heading to List of Illustrations
They arose and did their homage
So the child was delivered unto Merlin
His horse was slain underneath him
They rode forth well-horsed and well-armed
Merlin came by in the likeness of a child
List of Illustrations
" Knight, hold thy hand 29
" Damsel, what sword is that?" .33
Arthur went to consult Merlin 37
" Morgan le Fay sendeth you here your sword" .48
The King sent him on a horse-bier to Camelot .54
She took the scabbard and went her way 57
There he found a widow, sitting by a grave 65
There came a knight behind him, and bade him come out of
the water 72
There came upon him two great giants 73
On the morrow early came these four Queens 79
Sir Lancelot beat with all his might on the basin 87
The churl lashed at him with a great club 93
"Oh, knight," she said, "too much sorrow hast thou brought
"With falsehood ye would have slain me by treason" o9
So Beaumains was put into the kitchen 112
They went with him right up to the high dais 113
He rode at the robbers 123
He fell down into the water 129
" Let be, thou knave, slay him not" 36
They went to Sir Persant's pavilion 44
He blew the horn eagerly 149
"Truly she shall be my lady, and for her will I fight" 153
Young Tristram besought King Meliodas to grant him a boon 161
Under the shadow of a great tree 163
So each departed from the other, weeping sorely 173
He taught her to harp 79
The Queen espied the gap in the sword 185
"Gentle knight," said the King, "now have I great need of
Sir Tristram smote down Sir Blamor and his horse to the earth 197
List of Illustrations
" Madame Iseult, here is the best drink that ever ye drank" .203
Sir Tristram talked.with Queen Iseult. .209
On the rocks they found him 215
She rode up and down till she met with Sir Tristram 225
She would sit down and play upon the harp ; then would Sit
Tristram come and hearken to it 229
Sir Bors and his companions watched this battle 39
She told him how she had sought him far and wide 45
When King Arthur came the trumpets blew for the field 247
Sir Dinadan feared that he would have died 254
Right so came a damsel past Sir Palamides 259
So the shield was brought forth 265
They sat down on the tombstone and kissed each other 273
As soon as King Mark saw the shield he made his horse gallop
Amant and his companions buried the body of Bersules 279
They left Sir Berluse sore wounded 284
Dagonet was armed with Mordred's armour and shield 289
"Ah, fair damsels," said Amant, "commend me to La Belle
Secretly he had letters written 303
"Bear thy lord word from the King and me that we will do
battle with him to-morrow" 309
"How darest thou be so bold to sing this song before me ?" 314
There came a hand and bore away the holy vessel 321
He saw written on the tomb letters of gold 324
"He shall receive the high order of knighthood to-morrow 329
The King went down from the Palace to show Galahad the
adventure of the stone 337
Queen Guinevere went into her chamber so that no one should
see her grief 346
He traced on the shield a red cross 351
List of Illustrations
They came to a cross which parted two ways 353
"Lord God, I thank Thee, for I am healed of this sickness," he
The good man gave Sir Lancelot his blessing 371
Lancelot came to the lions 377
Sir Lancelot took his leave 388
"Here we are three alive, and with Sir Mordred there are none
King Arthur was borne away in the barge 413
The Marvel of the Sword
WHEN Uther Pendragon, King of England, died,
the country for a long while stood in great
danger, for every lord that was mighty gathered his
forces, and many wished to be King. For King
Uther's own son, Prince Arthur, who should have
succeeded him, was but a child, and Merlin, the mighty
magician, had hidden him away.
Now a strange thing had happened at Arthur's
birth, and this was how it was.
Some time before, Merlin had done Uther a great
service, on condition that the King should grant him
whatever he wished for. This' the King swore a
solemn oath to do. Then Merlin made him promise
that when his child was born it should be delivered to
Merlin to bring up as he chose, for this would be to
the child's own great advantage. The King had given
his promise so he was obliged to agree. Then Merlin
said he knew a very true and faithful man, one of
King Uther's lords, by name Sir Ector, who had
large possessions in many parts of England and Wales,
and that the child should be given to him to bring up.
On .the night the baby was born, while it was still
unchristened, King Uther commanded two knights and
two ladies to take it, wrapped in a cloth of gold, and
deliver it to a poor man whom they would find waiting
at the postern gate of the Castle. This poor man was
Merlin in disguise, although they did not know it.
So the child was delivered unto Merlin and he carried
him to Sir Ector, and made a holy man christen him,
and named him Arthur ; and Sir Ector's wife cherished
him as her own child.
Within two years King Uther fell sick of a great
malady, and for three days and three nights he was
speechless. All the Barons were in much sorrow, and
asked Merlin what was best to be done.
"There is no remedy," said Merlin, "God will
have His Will. But look ye all, Barons, come before
King Uther to-morrow, and God will make him speak."
So the next day Merlin and all the Barons came
before the King, and Merlin said aloud to King Uther:
"Sir, after your days shall your son Arthur be
King of this realm and all that belongs to it?"
Then Uther Pendragon turned him and said in
hearing of them all:
I give my son Arthur God's blessing and mine, and
"6jo the cbtlO was OclivercO unto MIerlin."
The Marvel of the Sword
bid him pray for my soul, and righteously and honour-
ably claim the Crown, on forfeiture of my blessing."
And with that, King Uther died.
But Arthur was still only a baby, not two years
old, and Merlin knew it would be no use yet to
proclaim him King. For there were many powerful
nobles in England in those days, who were all trying
to get the kingdom for themselves, and perhaps they
would kill the little Prince. So there was much strife
and debate in the land for a long time.
When several years had passed, Merlin went to the
Archbishop of Canterbury and counselled him to send
for all the lords of the realm, and all the gentlemen
of arms, that they should come to London at
Christmas, and for this cause-that a miracle would
show who should be rightly King of the realm. So
all the lords and gentlemen made themselves ready,
and came to London, and long before dawn on
Christmas Day they were all gathered in the great
church of St. Paul's to pray.
When the first service was over, there was seen in
the churchyard a large stone, four-square, like marble,
and in the midst of it was like an anvil of steel, a foot
high. In this was stuck by the point a beautiful
sword, with naked blade, and there were letters written
in gold about the sword, which said thus :
"~aboso pulletb tbit sworb out of tbfs stone
anb anvil is rtibtlI king of all Englanb."
Then the people marvelled, and told it to the
"I command," said the Archbishop, that you keep
within the church, and pray unto God still; and that
no man touch the sword till the service is over."
So when the prayers in church were over, all the
lords went to behold the stone and the sword; and
when they read the writing some of them-such as
wished to be King-tried to pull the sword out of the
anvil. But not one could make it stir.
The man is not here, that shall achieve the sword,"
said the Archbishop, "but doubt not God will make
him known. But let us provide ten knights, men of
good fame, to keep guard over the sword."
So it was ordained, and proclamation was made that
every one who wished might try to win the sword.
And upon New Year's Day the Barons arranged to
have a great tournament, in which all knights who
would joust or tourney might take a part. This was
ordained to keep together the Lords and Commons, for
the Archbishop trusted that it would be made known
who should win the sword.
How Arthur was Crowned King
On New Year's Day, after church, the Barons rode
to the field, some to joust, and some to tourney, and
so it happened that Sir Ector, who had large estates
near London, came also to the tournament; and with
him rode Sir Kay, his son, with young Arthur, his
As they rode, Sir Kay found he had lost his sword,
How Arthur was Crowned King
for he had left it at his father's lodging, so he begged
young Arthur to go and fetch it for him.
"That will I, gladly," said Arthur, and he rode
But when he came to the house, he found no one
at home to give him the sword, for every one had gone
to see the jousting. Then Arthur was angry and said
"I will ride to the churchyard, and take the
sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my
brother, Sir Kay, shall not be without a sword this
When he came to the churchyard he alighted, and
tied his horse to the stile, and went to the tent.. But
he found there no knights, who should have been
guarding the sword, for they were all away at the joust.
Seizing the sword by the handle he lightly and fiercely
pulled it out of the stone, then took his horse and rode
his way, till he came to Sir Kay his brother, to whom
he delivered the sword.
As soon as Sir Kay saw it, he knew well it was the
sword of the Stone, so he rode to his father Sir Ector,
and said :
Sir, lo, here is the sword of the Stone, wherefore
I must be King of this land."
When Sir Ector saw the sword he turned back, and
came to the church, and there they all three alighted
and went into the church, and he made his son swear
truly how he got the sword.
By my brother Arthur," said Sir Kay, "for he
brought it to me."
"How did you get this sword ?" said Sir Ector to
And the boy told him.
Now," said Sir Ector, I understand you must be
King of this land."
"Wherefore I ? said Arthur ; "and for what
Sir," said Ector, because God will have it so;
for never man could draw out this sword but he that
shall rightly be King. Now let me see whether you
can put the sword there as it was, and pull it out again."
"There is no difficulty," said Arthur, and he put it
back into the stone.
Then Sir Ector tried to pull out the sword, and
failed; and Sir Kay also pulled with all his might, but
it would not move.
Now you shall try," said Sir Ector to Arthur.
I will, well," said Arthur, and pulled the sword
At this Sir Ector and Sir Kay knelt down on the
ground before him.
"Alas," said Arthur, "mine own dear father and
brother, why do you kneel to me?."
"Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so; I was
never your father, nor of your blood ; but I know well
you are of higher blood than I thought you were."
Then Sir Ector told him all, how he had taken him
to bring up, and by whose command; and how he had
received him from Merlin. And when he understood
that Ector was not his father, Arthur was deeply
How Arthur was Crowned King
"Will you be my good, gracious lord, when you
are King? asked the knight.
If not, I should be to blame," said Arthur, for
you are the man in the world to whom I am the
most beholden, and my good lady and mother your
wife, who has fostered and kept me as well as her
own children. And if ever it be God's will that I
be King, as you say, you shall desire of me what I
shall do, and I shall not fail you; God forbid I should
Sir," said Sir Ector, "I will ask no more of you
but that you will make my son, your foster brother
Sir Kay, seneschal of all your lands."
"That shall be done," said Arthur, "and by my
faith, never man but he shall have that office while he
and I live."
Then they went to the Archbishop and told him
how the sword was achieved, and by whom.
On Twelfth Day all the Barons came to the Stone
in the churchyard, so that any who wished might try to
win the sword. But not one of them all could take it
out, except Arthur. Many of them therefore were
very angry, and said it was a great shame to them
and to the country to be governed by a boy not of high
blood, for as yet none of them knew that he was the
son of King Uther Pendragon. So they agreed to
delay the decision till Candlemas, which is the second
day of February.
But when Candlemas came, and Arthur once more
was the only one who could pull out the sword, they
put it off till Easter ; and when Easter came, and
Arthur again prevailed in presence of them all, they
put it off till the Feast of Pentecost.
Then by Merlin's advice the Archbishop summoned
some of the best knights that were to be got-such
knights as in his own day King Uther Pendragon had
best loved, and trusted most-and these were appointed
to attend young Arthur, and never to leave him night
or day till tfie Feast of Pentecost.
When the great day came, all manner of men once
more made the attempt, and once more not one of them
all could prevail but Arthur. Before all the Lords and
Commons there assembled he pulled out the sword,
whereupon all the Commons cried, out at once:
"We will have Arthur for our King We will put
him no more in delay, for we all see that it is God's
will that he shall be our King, and he who holdeth
against it, we will slay him."
And therewith they knelt down all at once, both rich
and poor, and besought pardon of Arthur, because they
had delayed him so long.
And Arthur forgave them, and took the sword in
both his hands, and offered it on the altar where the
Archbishop was, and so he was made knight by the best
After that, he was crowned at once, and there he
swore to his Lords and Commons to be a true King,
and to govern with true justice from thenceforth all
the days of his life.
The Siege of the Strong Tower
The Siege of the Strong Tower
After Arthur was crowned King many complaints
were made to him of great wrongs that had been done
since the death of King Uther; many Lords, Knights,
Ladies and Gentlemen having been deprived of their
lands. Thereupon King Arthur caused the lands to be
given again to them that owned them. When this was
done, and all the districts round London were settled,
he made Sir Kay Seneschal of England, Sir Baldwin
Constable of Britain, and Sir Ulfius, Chamberlain;
while Sir Brastias was appointed Warden of the country
north of the Trent. Most of this land was then held
by the King's enemies, but within a few years Arthur
had won all the north.
Some parts of Wales still stood out against him, but
in due time he overcame them all, as he did the rest,
by the noble prowess of himself, and the Knights
of the Round Table.
Then King Arthur went into Wales, and proclaimed
a great feast, to be held at Pentecost, after his crowning
in the city of Carleon. To this feast came many rich
and powerful Kings, with great retinues of knights.
Arthur was glad of their coming, for he thought that
the Kings and the knights had come in love, and to do
him honour at his feast, wherefore he rejoiced greatly,
and sent them rich presents.
The Kings, however, would receive none of them,
but rebuked the messengers shamefully, saying it gave
them no pleasure to receive gifts from a beardless boy
of low blood. They sent him word that they would
have none of his gifts, but they would come and give
him gifts with hard swords betwixt the neck and the
shoulders. It was for that they came hither, so they
told the messengers plainly, for it was a great shame to
them all to see such a boy have the rule of so noble a
realm as this land.
When the messengers brought this answer to King
Arthur, by the advice of his Barons he betook himself
with five hundred good men to a strong tower. And
all the Kings laid siege to him, but King Arthur had
plenty of food.
Within fifteen days Merlin, the great magician,
came into the city of Carleon. All the Kings were
very glad to see him, and asked him :
"For what cause is that boy Arthur made your
"Sirs," said Merlin, "I will tell you the cause,
because he is King Uther Pendragon's son. And who-
soever saith Nay,' Arthur shall be King, and overcome
all his enemies, and before he dies he shall long have
been King of all England, and have under his sway
Wales, Ireland, and Scotland, and more realms than I
will now relate."
Some of the Kings marvelled at Merlin's words,
and deemed it well that it should be as he said ; and
some of them, such as King Lot of Orkney, laughed at
him ; and others called him a wizard. But they all
consented that King Arthur should come out and speak
with them, and gave their assurance that he should come
safely and should return safely.
The Siege of the Strong Tower
So Merlin went to King Arthur, and told him what
he had done, and bade him fear not, but come out
boldly and speak with them.
Spare them not," he said, "but answer them as
their King and Chieftain, for ye shall overcome them
all, whether they will or not."
Then King Arthur came out of his tower, having
under his gown a cuirass of double mail; and there
went with him the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir
Baldwin, Sir Kay, and Sir Brastias. When he met the
Kings there was no meekness, but stout words on both
sides, King Arthur ready with an answer to all they
said, and declaring that if he lived he would make them
bow. They departed therefore in wrath, and King
Arthur returned to the tower and armed himself and
all his knights.
What will you do ? said Merlin to the Kings;
you had better refrain, for you will not prevail here,
were you ten times as many."
"Are we well advised to be afraid of a dream-
reader ? sneered King Lot.
With that, Merlin vanished away, and came to
King Arthur, and bade him set on them fiercely. And
the magician counselled Arthur not to fight at first with
the sword he had got by miracle; but if he found him-
self getting the worst of the fight, then to draw it and
do his best.
Meanwhile, three hundred of the best men who
were with the Kings, went straight over to Arthur, and
this comforted him greatly. All his knights fought
gallantly, and the battle raged with fury. King Arthur
himself was ever in the foremost
horse was slain underneath him.
Lot smote down King Arthur.
of the press, till his
And therewith King
Four of his knights rescued him and set him on
horseback. Then he drew forth his sword, and it was
so bright in his enemies' eyes that it gave light like
The Battle of the Kings
thirty torches; and thus he drove back his foes and
slew many of them.
Then the citizens of Carleon arose with clubs and
stones, and slew many knights. But all the Kings
banded together with their knights who were alive, and
so fled and departed.
And Merlin came to Arthur, and counselled him to
follow them no farther.
The Battle of the Kings
After the feast and the tourney Arthur came to
London, and called all his Barons to a Council. For
Merlin had told him that the six Kings who had made
war upon him, and whom he had defeated, would hasten
to wreak their vengeance on him and his lands. The
Barons could give no counsel, but said they were big
enough to fight.
You say well," said Arthur, I thank you for
your good courage ; but will all of you who love me
speak with Merlin ? You know well that he has done
much for me, and knows many things, and when he is
with you I wish that you would beseech him to give
you his best advice."
All the Barons said they would gladly hear what
Merlin counselled, so the magician was sent for.
I warn you well," said Merlin, that your enemies
are passing strong for you, and they are as good men of
arms as any alive. By this time, too, they have got to
themselves four Kings more, and a mighty Duke, and
unless our King can get more horsemen with him than
are to be found within the bounds of his own realm, if
he fight with them in battle he shall be overcome and
"What is best to be done? asked the Barons.
I will tell you my advice," said Merlin. There
are two brethren beyond the sea, and they are both
Kings, and marvellously powerful men. One is called
King Ban, of Benwick, and the other King Bors, of
Gaul-that is, France. And against these two brothers
wars a mighty man, the King Claudas, and strives with
them for a castle ; and there is great war betwixt them.
But because Claudas is very rich he gets many good
knights to fight for him, and for the most part puts
these two Kings to the worse. Now this is my counsel
-that our King and Sovereign Lord send to Kings
Ban and Bors .two trusty knights, with letters stating
that if they will come and see Arthur and his Court,
and help him in his wars, then he will swear to help
them in their wars against King Claudas. Now, what
do you say to this counsel ?"
"This is well counselled ?" said the King and the
So in all haste it was settled.
Ulfius and Brastias were chosen as the messengers,
and they rode forth well-horsed and well-armed; and
so crossed the sea, and rode towards the city of
Benwick. Here in a narrow place they were attacked
by eight knights of King Claudas, who tried to kill
them or take them prisoners. But Ulfius and Brastias,
fighting with them two by two, in turn overcame them
vcb~c toteftb xvcI1-hor~eb aiib well ariiie.'"
The Battle of the Kings
all, and left them lying sorely hurt and bruised on the
When they came to Benwick it fortunately happened
that both the Kings, Ban and Bors, were there. As
soon as the Kings knew they were messengers of
Arthur's, they gave them the very heartiest greeting,
and when Ban and Bors read the letters, they were
made even more welcome than before.
So Ulfius and Brastias had good cheer, and rich
gifts, as many as they could carry away, and they took
back this answer with them-that the two Kings would
come to Arthur in all the haste they could.
King Arthur was very glad to get this message,
and, when the time came for the Kings to arrive, he
proclaimed a great feast and went ten miles out of
London to meet them. After the feast there was a
splendid tournament, in which seven hundred knights
took part. Arthur, Ban, and Bors, with the Arch-
bishop of Canterbury, and Sir Ector (Kay's father)
sat in a place covered with cloth of gold, like a hall,
with ladies and gentlewomen, to behold who did best,
and to give judgment thereon. The knights who won
the prizes were three of King Arthur's household, Sir
Kay, Sir Lucas, and Sir Griflet.
With the help of King Ban and King Bors Arthur
utterly defeated and put to rout the eleven Kings who
were warring against him. When his enemies were
scattered, King Ban and King Bors, laden with rich
gifts, returned to their own countries. And they
made a compact with. Arthur that if they had need of
him to help them against King Claudas, they would
send to him for succour ; and on the other hand, if
Arthur had need of them, he was to send, and they
would not tarry.
A Prophecy of Doom
After the departure of Ban and Bors King Arthur
rode to Carleon. Then there arrived the wife of King
Lot of Orkney, one of the Kings who had been
fighting against him. She came in great state, in the
manner of a messenger, but it was really to spy the
Court of King Arthur. With her were her four sons,
Gawaine, Gaheris, Agrivaine, and Gareth, and many
other knights and ladies. Though. very cunning and
deceitful she was a most beautiful woman, therefore
she quite won the heart of King Arthur. He did not
know that in reality she was his own half-sister, for
she was the daughter of his mother Igraine, who
before her marriage with Uther Pendragon had been
the wife of a mighty Duke of Cornwall. Another
daughter was Morgan le Fay, who was also extremely
beautiful and treacherous, and well skilled in magic.
King Lot's wife stayed a month at Carleon, and
then went away, and after her departure King Arthur
dreamed a marvellous dream, which filled him with
great dread. He thought that there came into this
land griffins and serpents; and he thought that they
burnt and slew all the people in the land, and then he
thought he fought with them, and they did him passing
A Prophecy of Doom
great harm, and wounded him sorely, but at the last
he slew them.
When the King awoke he was very sorrowful
because of his dream, and so to put it out of his
thoughts he made ready with many knights to ride
hunting. As soon as he was in the forest the King
saw a great hart before him, and he rode after it so
fast that his poor horse fell exhausted.
While the King was sitting waiting for one of his
men to fetch him another horse, Merlin came by in
the likeness of a child of fourteen years, and saluting
the King, asked why he was so pensive. Arthur
replied that he had much to make him pensive,
whereupon Merlin made him very angry by saying he
knew all his thoughts, who he was, and all about him.
Then Merlin departed, and presently came again in
the likeness of an old man of four-score years of age,
and in this guise he again asked the King why he was
"I may well be sad," said Arthur, "because of
And he told the old man about his dream, and also
about the strange child who had just been there, and
who had told him things he never knew before about
his own father and mother. Then Merlin told him
that everything the child said was quite true; and he
went on to say that in the years to come much evil
would fall upon the land, for King Lot's wife would
have a child who would destroy Arthur and all the
knights of his realm.
"What are you," said Arthur, "that tell me these
I am Merlin," replied the magician, "and I was
he in the child's likeness."
"Ah," said King Arthur, "you are a marvellous
man; but I wonder much at your words that I must
die in battle."
A Prophecy of Doom
Wonder not," said Merlin, for it is God's will
to punish your body for wrong deeds done on earth.
But I may well be sorry," added the old man, for I
shall die a shameful death-to be put into the earth
alive ; but you shall die an honourable death."
As they talked thus, there came one with the King's
horse, so Arthur mounted, and Merlin got on another
horse, and they rode to Carleon.
The prophecy that Merlin foretold of his own
death, really came to pass. For some years later the
great magician fell in love with a damsel of the Court,
named Nimue, or as some call her "Vivien," who pre-
tended to like him in return till she had learned all
manner of things that she desired. He taught her all
kinds of magic and enchantments, so that she could
work spells herself. But Merlin got so foolish in his
affection that he would never let her out of his sight,
and the lady grew quite weary of his love, and longed
to be free. She was afraid of Merlin because he was a
magician, and she could find no way to get rid of him.
At last it happened that once Merlin showed her a
wonderful rock, in which was a great stone that worked
by enchantment. Then Nimue cunningly persuaded
Merlin to step into the rock to let her know of the
marvels there, but when he was once inside she replaced
the great stone by the spells he had taught her, so that
in spite of all his crafts he could never again come out.
Then Nimue fled away and left Merlin in the rock.
Thus the prophecy relating to his own fate was ful-
filled, and later on what he had foretold with regard to
King Arthur also came to pass. For Merlin once said
that the person who should destroy Arthur should
be born on May-Day. So the King sent for all the
children who were born on the first of May; there were
a great many sons of lords and ladies, and among the
rest was his nephew Mordred, the son of King Lot's
wife. All the children were put into a ship, and sent
away out of the country, and some were only four
weeks old. But the ship drove against a rock, and was
wrecked to pieces, and all the children perished, except-
ing one. Little Mordred was cast up by the sea, and
a good man found him, and 'took care of him till he
was fourteen years old, when he brought him to Court.
Mordred, like his mother, was very sly and treacherous,
and as will be seen later on he brought much misery
on the noble fellowship of the Knights of the Round
Many of the lords and barons of the realm were
very angry because of this loss of their children; but
many put the blame more on Merlin than on Arthur;
so what for dread and for love they held their peace.
The Knight of the Fountain
When King Arthur learnt from Merlin that his
mother Igraine was still alive, he sent for her in all
haste ; and the Queen came, and brought with her
Morgan le Fay, her daughter, who was as fair a lady as
any might be. Igraine had never known what became
of the little babe she entrusted to Merlin, for she had
never seen the child afterwards, and did not even know
The Knight of the Fountain
what name was given to it. Then Merlin took the
King by the hand, saying, "This is your mother."
Therewith Arthur took his mother, Queen Igraine, into
his arms, and kissed her, and each wept over the other.
Then the King commanded a feast to be held that
lasted eight days.
One day there came to the Court a squire on horse-
back, leading a knight before him, wounded to death.
He told how there was a knight in the forest who had
reared a pavilion by a well, and how he had slain his
master, a good knight; and he besought that his
master might be buried, and some knight might revenge
There was much stir in the Court because of this
knight's death, every one giving his advice, and a young
squire called Griflet, who was about the same age as
Arthur, came to the King, and besought him to make
him a knight.
"Thou art full young and tender," said Arthur,
"to take so high an order on thee."
"Sir," said Griflet, I beseech you make me
"Sir, it were great pity to lose Griflet," said
Merlin, "for he will be a passing good man when
he is of age, abiding with you the term of his
So the King made him knight.
"Now," he said, "since I have made you knight,
you must give me a gift."
"What you will," said Griflet.
Then the King made him promise that when he
had fought with the knight at the fountain he would
return straight to the Court without further debate.
So Griflet took his horse in great haste, and got
ready his shield, and took a spear in his hand, and
rode at a gallop till he came to the fountain. There
he saw a rich pavilion, and near by under a cloth stood
a fair horse, well saddled and bridled, and on a tree
a shield of many colours, and a great spear. Griflet
smote on the shield with the butt of his spear, so
that the shield fell to the ground.
With that the knight came out of the pavilion,
and said: "Fair knight, why smote you down my
Because I would joust with you," said Griflet.
It is better you do not," said the knight, "for
you are but young and lately made knight, and your
might is nothing tomine."
As for that," said Griflet, I will joust with you."
I am loath to do it," said the knight, but since
I needs must, I will make ready. Whence be ye ?"
Sir, I am of Arthur's Court."
The two knights ran together, so that Griflet's
spear was all shivered to pieces, and therewith the
other knight, whose name was Pellinore, smote Griflet
through the shield and left side, and broke his own
spear, while horse and knight fell down.
When Pellinore saw Griflet lie so on the ground
he alighted, and was very sad, for he thought he had
slain him. He unlaced his helm, and gave him air,
and set him again on his horse, saying he had a mighty
heart, and if he lived he would prove a passing good
The Knight of the Fountain
knight. So Sir Griflet rode back to Court, where
great dole was made for him. But through good
doctors he was healed and saved.
King Arthur was very wrathful because of the
hurt to Sir Griflet, and he commanded one of his men
to have his horse and armour ready waiting for him
outside the city before daylight on the following
morning. On the morrow, before dawn, he mounted
and took spear and shield, telling the man to wait
there till he came again.
He rode softly till day, and then he was aware of
Merlin being chased by three churls, who would have
slain him. The King rode towards them, and bade
them Flee, churls !" They were frightened when
they saw a knight, and fled.
O, Merlin," said Arthur, "here hadst thou been
slain, for all thy crafts, had I not been here !"
"Nay, not so," said Merlin, "for I could save
myself if I would. And thou art nearer thy death
than I am, for thou art going towards thy death, if
God be not thy friend."
As they went thus talking they came to the
fountain, and the rich pavilion there beside it. Then
King Arthur was aware where sat a knight, armed, in
"Sir Knight," said Arthur, "for what cause abidest
thou here, that no knight may ride this way unless he
joust with thee ? I counsel thee to leave that custom."
"This custom," said Pellinore, "I have used, and
will use, despite who saith nay ; and whoever is grieved
with my custom, let him mend it who will."
I will amend it," said Arthur.
"I shall prevent you," said Pellinore.
He quickly mounted his horse, adjusted his shield,
and took his spear. They met so hard against each
other's shields that their spears shivered. Thereupon
Arthur at once pulled out his sword.
"Nay, not so," said the knight, "it is fairer that
we twain run once more together with sharp spears."
"I will, readily," said Arthur, if I had any more
I have enough," said Pellinore.
A squire came and brought two good spears, and
again the knight and the King spurred together with
all their might, so that both the spears were broken
off short. Then Arthur set hand on his sword.
Nay," said the knight, '' ye shall do better. Ye
are a passing good jouster as ever I met withal, and for
the love of the high order of knighthood let us joust
I assent," said Arthur.
Then two. more great spears were brought, and each
knight took one, and they ran together, so that Arthur's
spear was all shivered. But Pellinore hit him so hard
in the middle of the shield that horse and man fell to
the earth. Then Arthur eagerly pulled out his sword,
saying, I will assay thee, Sir Knight, on foot, for I have
lost the honour on horseback," and he ran towards him
with his sword drawn.
When Pellinore saw that, he too alighted, for he
thought it no honour to have a knight at such dis-
advantage, for himself to be on horseback, and the other
"1kiligbt, bol tb02 banO."
The Knight of the Fountain
on foot. Then began a strong battle with many great
strokes, both hacking and hewing, till the field was wet
with blood. They fought long, and rested, and then
went to battle again. At last they both smote together,
so that their swords met evenly, but Pellinore's sword
smote Arthur's in two pieces, wherefore the King was
Then said the knight unto Arthur:
Thou art in danger-whether I choose to save thee
or to slay thee ; and unless thou yield thee as overcome
and recreant thou shalt die."
"As for death," said Kihg Arthur, "welcome be it,
when it cometh; but to yield me unto thee as recreant,
I had rather die than be so shamed." And with that
he leapt unto Pellinore, and threw him down, and tore
off his helm.
When the knight felt this he was sorely frightened,
though he was a very big and mighty man ; but he
quickly got Arthur underneath, and rased off his helm,
and would have smitten off his head.
But up came Merlin, and said :
Knight, hold thy hand, for if thou slay that knight
thou puttest this realm in the greatest damage that ever
realm was in. For this knight is a man of more honour
than thou art aware of."
Why, who is he ?" said Pellinore.
It is King Arthur."
Then Pellinore would have slain himself, for dread
of his wrath, and lifted up his sword. But Merlin cast
an enchantment on the knight, so that he fell to the
earth in a great sleep.
The Sword Excalibur
After throwing Pellinore into an enchanted sleep,
Merlin took up King Arthur, and rode forth on
"Alas!" said Arthur, "what hast thou done,
Merlin ? Hast thou slain this good knight by thy
crafts ? There lived not so worshipful a knight as he
was ; I would rather than a year's income that he were
Do not be troubled," said Merlin, for he is less
hurt than you. He is only asleep, and will awake within
three hours. There liveth not a greater knight than
he is, and he shall hereafter do you right good service.
His name is Pellinore, and he shall have two sons, that
shall be passing good men,-Percival of Wales, and
Lamerack of Wales."
Leaving Sir Pellinore, King Arthur and Merlin went
to a hermit, who was a good man, and skilled in the art
of healing. He attended so carefully to the King's
wounds, that in three days they were quite well, and
Arthur was able to go on his way with Merlin. Then
as they rode, Arthur said, I have no sword."
"No matter," said Merlin, near by is a sword
that shall be yours if I can get it."
So they rode till they came to a lake, which was a
fair water and broad ; and in the midst of the lake,
Arthur saw an arm, clothed in white samite, that held
in its hand a beautiful sword.
The Sword Excalibur
Lo," said Merlin, yonder is the sword I spoke of."
With that they saw a damsel rowing. across the
What damsel is that ? said Arthur.
That is the Lady of the Lake," said Merlin, and
within that lake is a rock, and therein is as fair a place
as any on earth, and richly adorned. This damsel will
soon come to you; then speak you fair to her, so that
she will give you that sword."
Presently the damsel came to Arthur, and saluted
him, and he her again.
Damsel," said Arthur, what sword is that which
yonder the arm holdeth above the water ? I would it
were mine, for I have no sword."
"Sir Arthur, King," said the damsel, "that sword
is mine ; the name of it is Excalibur, that is as much as
to say Cut-Steel. If you will give me a gift when I ask
you, ye shall have it."
By my faith," said Arthur, I will give you what
gift ye shall ask."
Well," said the damsel, "go you into yonder barge,
and row yourself to the sword, and take it and the
scabbard with you, and I will ask my gift when I see
So King Arthur and Merlin alighted, and tied their
horses to two trees, and went into the barge, and when
they came to the sword that the hand held, Arthur lifted
it by the handle, and took it with him. And the arm
and hand went under the water ; and so they came to
the land, and rode away.
Then King Arthur looked on the sword, and liked
it passing well.
"Which like you the better, the sword or the scab-
bard ?" asked Merlin.
I like the sword better," replied Arthur.
"You are the more unwise," said Merlin, for the
scabbard is worth ten of the sword. While you have
The Round Table
the scabbard upon you, ye shall never lose any blood,
be ye never so sorely wounded. Therefore keep well
the scabbard always with you."
So they returned to Carleon, where King Arthur's
knights were passing glad to see him. When they
heard of his adventures they marvelled that he would
so jeopardy himself alone. But all men of honour said
it was merry to be under such a chieftain who would
put his person in adventures as other poor knights did.
Some time after this, Merlin again warned King
Arthur to keep the scabbard of the sword Excalibur
very securely, for as long as he had it upon him he
would never lose any blood, however sorely he might
be wounded. For greater safety, Arthur entrusted the
sword and scabbard to his sister, Morgan le Fay. But
Morgan le Fay was a false and treacherous woman.
She loved another knight better than her husband King
Uriens, or her brother King Arthur, and she made up a
wicked plot, by which they would both be slain. Then
she meant to marry this other knight, Sir Accolon, and
place him on King Arthur's throne, when she herself
would become Queen of the whole realm. Therefore
she made by enchantment another scabbard exactly like
Excalibur's, which she gave to Arthur when he was
going to fight; but Excalibur and its scabbard she
kept for Sir Accolon.
The Round Table
When Arthur had been King for some years, and
had fought and overcome many of his enemies, his
Barons were anxious that he should take a wife, so
according to his usual custom he went and consulted
"It is well," said Merlin, "for a man of your
bounty and nobleness should not be without a wife.
Now is there any that you love more than another ? "
"Yes," said King Arthur, I love Guinevere, the
daughter of King Leodegrance, of the land of Cameliard.
Leodegrance holdeth in his house the Table Round,
which he had of my father, Uther, and this damsel is
the most noble and beautiful that I know living, or yet
that ever I could find."
"Sir," said Merlin, as to her beauty, she is one of
the fairest alive. But if you loved her not as well as
you do, I could find you a damsel of beauty and good-
ness, that would like you and please you,--if your heart
were not set. But where a man's heart is set, he will
be loath to go back."
That is truth," said King Arthur.
Then Merlin warned the King that it would not be
wise for him to marry Guinevere ; Merlin had the gift
of prophecy, and knew that if this marriage took place
much unhappiness would come of it. But nothing
would persuade the King from his purpose. So Merlin
carried a message to Leodegrance, who rejoiced greatly.
"Those are the best tidings I ever heard," he said,
" that a King of prowess and nobleness will wed my
daughter. And as for my lands I would give him them
if I thought it would please him, but he hath lands
enough, he needeth none, but I shall send him a gift
which shall please him much more. For I shall give
'Zirtbur went to consult Merlin."
The Round Table
him the Round Table which Uther Pendragon gave
me, and when it is full complete there are a hundred
knights and fifty. As for a hundred good knights, I
have them myself, but I lack fifty, for so many have
been slain in my days."
So King Leodegrance delivered his daughter to
Merlin, and the Round Table, with the hundred
knights; and they rode briskly, with great royalty, by
water and by land, till they came near to London.
When King Arthur heard of the coming of
Guinevere, and the hundred knights with the Round
Table, he made great joy because of their coming, and
that rich present.
"This fair lady is passing welcome unto me," he
said, "for I have loved her long, and therefore there is
nothing so dear to me. And these knights with the
Round Table please me more than right great riches."
Then in all haste the King commanded preparations
for the marriage and coronation to be made in the
most honourable way that could be devised; and he
bade Merlin go forth and seek fifty knights of the
greatest prowess and honour, and fill the vacant places
at the Round Table.
Within a short time Merlin had found such knights
as would fill twenty-eight places, but no more could
Then the Archbishop of Canterbury was fetched,
and he blessed the seats with great splendour and
devotion, and there sat the eight-and-twenty knights
in their seats.
When this was done, Merlin said
Fair sirs, ye must all arise and come to King
Arthur to do him homage," so they arose and did their
And when they were gone Merlin found in every
seat letters of gold, that told the knights' names that
had sat there ; but two places were empty.
Soon after this came young Gawaine, son of King
Lot of Orkney, and asked a gift of the King.
"Ask," said the King, "and I shall grant it
"Sir, I ask that ye will make me knight that same
day ye shall wed Guinevere."
I will do it with a good will," said King Arthur,
"and do unto you all the honour I can, because you
are my nephew, my sister's son."
So the King made Gawaine knight, and at the same
time, at the wedding feast, he also knighted a son of
King Pellinore, a noble and gallant youth, whose name
Then King Arthur asked Merlin what was the cause
why there were two places empty among the seats
at the Round Table.
"Sir," said Merlin, there shall no man sit in those
places, except they shall be of the greatest honour.
But in the Siege Perilous there shall no man sit therein
but one, and if there be any so hardy to do it, he shall
be destroyed; and he that shall sit there shall have
Therewith Merlin took King Pellinore by the hand,
and leading him next the two seats and the Siege
Perilous, he said in open audience:
The Round Table
This is your place, and best worthy ye are to sit
therein of any that is here."
At this Sir Gawaine sat in great envy, and he said
to Gaheris, his brother :
"Yonder knight is put in great honour, which
grieveth me sorely, for he slew our father, King Lot;
therefore I will slay him with a sword that was sent me,
which is passing trenchant."
Ye shall not do so at this time," said Gaheris, "for
at present I am only a squire. When I am made knight
I will be avenged on him ; and therefore, brother, it is
best ye endure till another time, that we may have him
out.of the Court; for if we killed him here we should
trouble this high feast."
"I will do as you wish," said Gawaine.
Then was the high feast made ready, and the King
was wedded at Camelot to Dame Guinevere, in the
church of St. Stephen's, with great solemnity.
Then the King established all his knights, and to
those who were not rich he gave lands, and charged
them never to do outrage nor murders and always to
flee treason. Also by no means to be cruel, but to give
mercy to him that asked mercy, upon pain of forfeiture
of their honour and lordship of King Arthur for ever-
more; and always to do ladies, damsels, and gentle-
women succour, upon pain of death. Also that no
man should take battle in a wrongful quarrel for any
law, nor for world's goods.
Unto this were all the Knights of the Round Table
sworn, both old and young. And every year they
renewed their vows at the high Feast of Pentecost.
The Marvellous Adventure of the Magic Ship
It befell one day that Arthur and many of his
knights rode hunting into a great forest; the King
himself, Sir Accolon of Gaul, and King Uriens, husband
of Morgan le Fay, followed a fine hart, and their
horses were so swift that in a little while they were
ten miles ahead of their companions. Worn out with
the chase, at last their horses fell exhausted, but still in
front of them they saw the hart, passing weary.
"What shall we do ? said King Arthur. We
are hard bestead."
"Let us go on foot," said King Uriens, till we
meet with some lodging."
Then they saw that the hart lay on the bank of a
large lake, and the dogs had got hold of him, so King
Arthur blew the prise," which is the note blown by
the hunter on the death of the quarry.
After this he looked all around, and saw before him
on the lake a little ship, apparelled with silk, down to
the water ; and the ship came right up to them and
grounded on the sands. King Arthur went to the bank
and looked in, and saw no earthly creature therein.
"Come," said the King, let us see what is in the
So they all three went in, and found it richly
hung with cloth of silk. By then it was dark night,
and suddenly there were about them a hundred torches,
set upon all the sides of the ship, which gave great
Adventure of the Magic Ship
light. Therewith came out twelve fair damsels, who
saluted King Arthur on their knees, and called him by
his name, and said he was right welcome, and such cheer
as they had he should have of the best. The King
thanked them courteously.
The damsels led the King and his two companions
into a beautiful chamber, where there was a table richly
spread with all manner of good things ; and here they
were served with all the wines and meats they could
think of, which made the King greatly marvel, for he
had never fared better in his life at any one supper.
When they had supped at their leisure King Arthur
was led into another chamber, more richly adorned than
he had ever seen ; and so also was King Uriens served;
and Sir Accolon was led into a third chamber, passing
richly and well adorned ; and so they went gladly to
bed, and fell asleep at once.
But on the morrow when he awoke, King Uriens
found himself in Camelot, with his wife, Morgan le Fay,
and this greatly astonished him, for on the evening
before, he was two days' journey from Camelot.
And when King Arthur awoke he found himself in
a dark prison, hearing about him many complaints of
"What are ye that so complain ?" said King
We be here twenty knights prisoners," said they,
"and some of us have lain here seven years, and some
more and some less."
For what cause ? said Arthur.
"We will tell you," said the knights.
"The lord of this Castle is named Sir Damas, and
he is the falsest knight alive, and full of treason, and
the veriest coward that ever lived. He has a younger
brother, a good knight of prowess, named Sir Ontzlake,
and this traitor Damas, the elder brother, will give
him no part of his heritage, except what Sir Ontz-
lake can keep through his own prowess. But the
younger brother holds a full fair manor and a rich, and
therein he dwells in honour, and is well beloved of all
people, while Sir Damas is equally ill beloved, for he is
without mercy, and a coward. Great war has been
betwixt them both, but Ontzlake always gets the
better; and he keeps offering Damas to fight for the
heritage, man against man, and if he will not do it
himself, to find a knight to fight for him.
"Unto this Sir Damas agreed, but he is so hated
that there is never a knight will fight for him. Seeing
this, Damas hath daily lain in wait with many knights,
and taken all the other knights in this country separately
by force, as they rode on their adventures, and brought
them to his prison. And many good knights, to the
number of eighteen, have died in this prison from hunger.
If any of us that have been here would have fought with
his brother Ontzlake, he would have delivered us, but
because this Damas is so false and so full of treason we
would never fight for him, And we be so lean with
hunger we can hardly stand on our feet."
God in His mercy deliver you," said Arthur.
Just then there came a damsel to Arthur, and asked
him "What cheer ?"
I cannot say," said he.
Adventure of the Magic Ship
Sir," said she, if you will fight for my lord you
shall be delivered out of prison, otherwise you will never
escape with life."
Now," said Arthur, that is hard, but I would
rather fight with a knight than die in prison. On
condition that I may be delivered, and all these prisoners,
I will do the battle."
"Yes," said the damsel.
I am ready," said Arthur, "if I had horse and
"Ye shall lack nothing," was the reply.
It seems to me, damsel, that I have seen you in
the Court of Arthur ?"
"Nay," said the damsel, I never went there, I
am the daughter of the lord of this Castle."
Yet was she false, for she was one of the damsels
of Morgan le Fay.
Then she went quickly to Sir Damas, and told him
how Arthur would do battle for him, and so he sent
for Arthur. And when he came he was so handsome
and well-made that all the knights who saw him said
it was a pity that such a knight should die in prison.
Then Sir Damas and he agreed that he should fight
for him on this covenant-that all the other knights
should be delivered. Sir Damas swore to Arthur that
this should be done, and Arthur, in return, swore to do
battle to the uttermost.
And with that, all the twenty knights were brought
out of the dark prison into the hall, and set at liberty.
And so they all waited to see the battle.
The False Craft of Morgan le Fay
Now let us turn to Sir Accolon of Gaul, who was
with King Arthur and King Uriens when they went to
sleep on the magic ship.
When he awoke he found himself by the side of a
deep well, within half a foot of the edge, in great peril
of death. Out of the fountain came a pipe of silver,
and out of the pipe ran water all on high in a marble
When Sir Accolon saw this, he said:
"Heaven save my lord King Arthur and King
Uriens, for these damsels in the ship have betrayed us.
They were demons, and no women, and if I escape this
misadventure, I shall destroy wherever I find them all
false damsels that use enchantments."
At that moment up came a dwarf with a great
mouth and a flat nose, who saluted Sir Accolon, and
said he had come from Queen Morgan le Fay.
She greeteth you well, and biddeth you be of
strong heart, for ye shall fight to-morrow with a knight
at the hour of noon, and therefore she hath sent you
here Excalibur, Arthur's sword, and the scabbard. She
biddeth you, as ye love her, that ye do the battle to the
uttermost, without any mercy, exactly as you promised
her when ye spake together in private. And the damsel
who brings her the head of the knight with whom ye
shall fight, she will make her a queen."
"Now I understand you well," said Accolon. I
The False Craft of Morgan le Fay
shall keep my promise now that I have the sword.
Commend me unto my lady queen, and tell her all
shall be done that I promised her, or else I shall die for
it. Now I suppose," he added, "she has made all
these crafts and enchantments for this battle ?"
"Ye may well believe it," said the dwarf.
Then up came a knight with a lady and six squires,
who saluted Sir Accolon, and begged him to go and
rest himself at his manor. This knight was Sir Ontzlake,
brother of Sir Damas, with whom King Arthur had
already promised Damas to fight. So Accolon mounted
a spare horse, and went with the knight to a fair manor
by a priory, where he had passing good cheer.
Sir Damas, meanwhile, had sent to his brother to
bid him make ready by the next day, at the hour of
noon, and to be in the field to fight with a good knight,
for he had found a good knight who was ready to do
battle at all points. When this word came to Sir
Ontzlake he was much disturbed, for he was already
wounded through both thighs with a spear, but hurt as
he was he would have taken the battle in hand. But
when Sir Accolon heard of the battle, and how Ontzlake
was wounded, he said he would fight for him, because
Morgan le Fay had sent him Excalibur and the sheath,
to fight with the knight on the morrow. Then Sir
Ontzlake was very glad, and thanked Sir Accolon with
all his heart that he would do so much for him.
The next morning when King Arthur was mounted
and ready to ride forth, there came a damsel from
Morgan le Fay, who brought to the King a sword like
Excalibur, and the scabbard, and said:
"Morgan le Fay sendeth you here your sword for
He thanked her, and thought it had been so, but
she was false, for the sword and the scabbard were
counterfeit, and brittle, and false.
Then King Arthur and Sir Accolon made ready,
The False Craft of Morgan le Fay
and their horses rushed so swiftly together, that each
smote the other with their spear's head in the midst of
the shield, so that both horse and man were borne to
the earth ; and then both knights started up and pulled
out their swords. The wicked Queen had cast a spell
over them, so that neither knew the other. But while
they were thus fighting, came the damsel of the lake,
who had put Merlin under the stone, and she came for
love of Arthur, for she knew how Morgan le Fay had
so ordained that Arthur should be slain that day;
therefore Nimue came to save his life.
Thus they went eagerly to the battle, and gave
many great strokes. But King Arthur's sword never
hit like Sir Accolon's sword ; nearly every stroke that
Accolon gave he sorely wounded Arthur, so that it was
a marvel he stood, and always his blood fell from him
fast. When Arthur saw the ground all covered with
blood, he was dismayed, and guessed there was treason,
and that his sword had been changed. For his sword
bit not steel as it was wont to do, wherefore he feared
to be killed; it seemed to him that the sword in
Accolon's. hand was Excalibur, for at every stroke it
drew blood, but he was so full of knighthood that he
nobly endured the pain. And all the men that beheld
him said they never saw knight fight so well as Arthur
did, considering how sorely he was wounded. All
the people were sorry for him, but the two brothers
Sir Damas and Sir Ontzlake would not agree, so the
knights went on fighting fiercely. Then suddenly
King Arthur's sword broke at the hilt, and fell in the
grass, leaving the pommel and the handle in his hand.
When he saw that, he greatly feared he would be killed,
but always he held up his shield, and lost no ground,
and bated no cheer.
How King Arthur got his own Sword again
When Sir Accolon saw that King Arthur's sword
was broken he tried to tempt him to give in.
"Knight, thou art overcome and mayst not endure,
and also thou art weaponless, and thou hast lost much
blood; I am full loath to slay thee; therefore yield
thee to me as recreant."
"Nay," said Arthur, I may not so, for I have
promised to do battle to the uttermost by the faith
of my body, while life lasteth; and therefore I had
rather die with honour than live with shame ; and if it
were possible to die a hundred times, I would rather
die so often than yield me to thee, for though I lack
weapon, I shall lack no honour, and if thou slay me
weaponless, that shall be thy shame."
Well," said Accolon, as for the shame I will not
spare; now keep thee from me, for thou art but a
dead man," and therewith he gave him such a stroke
that he fell nearly to the earth, and he hoped Arthur
would have cried him mercy.
But the King pressed forward to Accolon, and gave
him such a buffet with the pommel of the broken sword
that the knight went three strides back.
When the damsel of the lake beheld Arthur, and
how valorous he was, and the false treason that was
How Arthur got his Sword again
wrought to have him slain, she had great pity that so
good a knight and noble a man should be destroyed.
And by her enchantment, at the next stroke the sword
fell out of Accolon's hand to the earth. Then Arthur
leaped lightly to it, and got it in his hand, and im-
mediately he knew that it was his own sword Excalibur.
"Thou hast been from me all too long," he cried,
" and much damage hast thou done me."
Then he espied the scabbard hanging by Accolon's
side, and he suddenly started to him, and seized the
scabbard, and threw it from him as far as he could.
knight!" he said, "now are ye come unto
your death, for I warrant ye shall be as well rewarded
with this sword before ever we depart, as thou hast
rewarded me." Therewith he rushed on him with all
his might, and pulled him to the ground, and dashed
off his helm, and gave him such a buffet on the head
that it nearly killed him.
"Now will I slay thee," said Arthur.
"Slay me ye well' may, if it please you," said
Accolon, "for ye are the best knight that ever I found,
and I see well that God is with you. But because I
promised to do this battle to the uttermost, and never
to be recreant while I lived, therefore shall I never
yield me with my mouth, but God do with my body
what He will."
Then King Arthur remembered him, and thought
-he must have seen this knight.
"Now tell me," he said, "or I will slay thee, of
what country art thou, and of what Court ?"
"Sir Knight," said Sir Accolon, "I am of the
Court of King Arthur, and my name is Accolon of
Then was Arthur more dismayed than before, for
he remembered his sister Morgan le Fay, and the
enchantment of the ship.
O, Sir Knight," he said, I pray you tell me who
gave you this sword ?"
Then Sir Accolon told him how Morgan le Fay
had sent it him to the intent that he might kill King
Arthur her brother. For King Arthur was the man in
the world whom she most hated, because of his valour
and renown. And if she should succeed in killing
Arthur by her crafts, she would also lightly slay her
husband, and then she had devised that Accolon should
be king in the land, and she would be queen.
But that is now done," said Accolon, for I am
sure of my death. But now I have told you truth, I
pray you tell me whence ye are, and of what Court ? "
Accolon," said Arthur, now I let you know
that I am King Arthur, to whom thou hast done great
When Accolon heard that, he cried aloud:
Fair sweet lord, have mercy on me, for I knew
you not "
Mercy thou shalt have, Sir Accolon," said
Arthur, because I see that just now thou knewest
not my person. But I understand well by thy words
that thou hast agreed to my death, and therefore thou
art a traitor ; but I blame thee the less, for my sister
Morgan le Fay by her false crafts made thee agree and
consent to her wickedness."
How Arthur got his Sword again
Then King Arthur called the keepers of the field,
and told them what had happened.
Had either of us known the other, here had been
no battle, nor stroke stricken," he said.
Then Sir Accolon cried aloud to all the knights
and men that were there gathered together, "
lords, this noble knight that I have fought with,
for which I sorely repent, is the greatest man or
prowess, of manhood, and of worship in the world,
for it is King Arthur himself, the liege lord of
us all! "
Then all the people fell down on their knees, and
cried mercy of King Arthur, which the King at once
Then he went on to deliver judgment between the
two brothers for whom he and Sir Accolon had
fought. As Sir Damas was a haughty knight, and full
of villainy, he commanded that he should give to his
younger brother the manor and all that belonged to it,
and that in return Sir Ontzlake should yearly give him
a palfrey to ride upon, for that would become him better
to ride on than a charger. And on pain of death Sir
Damas was evermore forbidden to distress any knights-
errant who rode on adventure. And to those twenty
knights whom he had so long kept prisoner he was to
restore all their armour.
"And if any of them come to my Court and
complain of thee, by my head thou shalt die for it,"
said the King. And to you, Sir Ontzlake, because
ye are named a good knight, and full of prowess, and
true and gentle in all your deeds, this shall be your
charge: I bid you that in all goodly haste ye come
unto me and my Court ; and ye shall be a knight of
mine; and if your deeds be truly thus, I will so prefer
you by the grace of God, that ye shall. in a short time
easily live in as much state as Sir Damas."
Then King Arthur and Sir Accolon rode to a rich
abbey near at hand, to rest themselves and have their
The Mantle of Precious Stones
wounds attended to, and soon the King was well
recovered. But Sir Accolon died within four days, for
he was sorely hurt.
When Accolon was dead, the King had him sent on
on a horse-bier, with six knights to Camelot, and said :
Bear him to my sister Morgan le Fay, and say
that I send him to her as a present; and tell her that I
have my sword Excalibur and the scabbard."
The Mantle of Precious Stones
When tidings came to Morgan le Fay that Accolon
was dead, and that Arthur had his sword again, she
was so sorrowful that her heart was like to break.
But because she would not have it known, she out-
wardly kept her countenance and made no sign of
sorrow. But she knew well that if she abode where
she was till her brother Arthur came, no gold would
save her life, for he had sworn to be avenged.
She went, therefore, to Queen Guinevere, and
asked her leave to ride into the country.
"You can wait," said Queen Guinevere, "till your
brother the King comes."
I can not," said Morgan le Fay, for I have such
hasty tidings that I may not tarry."
Well," said Guinevere, "you may depart when
So early on the morrow, before it was day, she
took her horse, and rode all that day and most part
of the night, and on the morrow by noon she came to
the same abbey where King Arthur was. Knowing he
was there, she asked how he was, and they answered
that he was asleep in bed, for he had had but little rest
these three nights.
"Well," she said, I charge you that none of you
awake him till I do."
Then she alighted off her horse, and thought to
steal away Excalibur, his sword. So she went straight
to his chamber, and no man durst disobey her command,
and there she found Arthur asleep on his bed, and
Excalibur in his right hand naked. When she saw
that, she was greatly vexed that she could not get the
sword unless she waked him, which she knew well
would be her death. So she took the scabbard, and
went her way on horseback.
When the King awoke and missed the scabbard
he was very angry, and he asked who had been there.
They told him it was his sister, Morgan le Fay, who
had put the scabbard under her mantle, and was gone.
"Alas!" said Arthur, "falsely have ye watched
"Sir," said they all, "we durst not disobey your
Fetch the best horse that can be found," said the
King, "and bid Sir Ontzlake arm in all haste, and take
another good horse and ride with me."
So the King and Ontzlake were quickly well armed,
and rode after Queen Morgan le Fay. Presently they
met a cowherd, whom they asked if any lady had
lately ridden that way.
"Sir," said the poor man, "just now came a lady
"!be tooh tTe ocabbarO anb went ber wa2."
The Mantle of Precious Stones
riding with forty horsemen, and she rode to yonder
Then they spurred their horses, and followed fast,
and within a little while Arthur had a sight of Morgan
le Fay; then he chased as fast as he could. When
she espied him following her, she quickened her pace
through the forest till she came to a plain. And when
she saw she could not escape she rode to a lake thereby,
and said: "Whatsoever becometh of me, my brother
shall not have this scabbard," and she threw it into
the deepest of the water, so that it sank, for it was
heavy with gold and precious stones.
Then she rode into a valley, where many great
stones were, and seeing that she must be overtaken she
shaped herself, by enchantment, into a great marble
stone. When the King came, with Ontzlake, he did
not know his sister and her men, nor one knight from
"Ah," said the King, here ye may see the venge-
ance of God, and now I am sorry that this misadventure
Then he looked for the scabbard, but it could not be
found. So he returned to the abbey where he came from.
When Arthur had gone, Morgan le Fay turned
herself and all her knights back into the likeness that
they were before, and said: "Sirs, now we may go
where we will."
So she departed into the country of Gore, where
she was richly received ; and she made her castles and
towns passing strong, for always she dreaded much
After the King had well rested at the abbey, he rode
to Camelot, where he found his Queen and his Barons
right glad at his coming. When they'heard of his
strange adventures they all marvelled at the falsehood
of Morgan le Fay; and because of her wicked
enchantments many of the knights wished her burnt.
The next day there came a damsel from Morgan
to King Arthur, and she brought with her the richest
mantle that ever was seen in that Court, for it was set
as full of precious stones as they could stand one by
another, and they were the richest stones that ever the
"Your sister sendeth you this mantle," said the
damsel, and desireth that you should take this gift of
her, and in what thing she hath offended you she will
mend it at your own pleasure."
When the King beheld the mantle it pleased him
much, but he said but little.
With that came the damsel of the lake to the King,
and said : "Sir, I must speak with you in private."
"Say on," said the King, "what ye will."
"Sir," said the damsel, "do not put this mantle
on you till ye have seen more, and in no wise let it
come on you nor on any knight of yours till ye
command the bringer thereof to put it on her."
"Well," said King Arthur, "it shall be done as
you counsel me." Then he said to the damsel who
came from his sister, "Damsel, this mantle that ye
have brought me I will see it upon you."
"Sir," said she, "it will not beseem me to wear a
Dream of the Dragon and the Boar
"By my head," said Arthur, "ye shall wear it
before it goes on my back, or any man's that is here."
So the mantle was put on her, and immediately she
fell dead, and never spoke a word after, for she was
burnt to a cinder.
Then was Arthur terribly wroth, more than he was
beforehand, and he said to King Uriens :
"My sister, your wife, is always about to betray
me, and well I know that either you or my nephew,
your son, is in council with her to have me destroyed.
As for you, I do not much think you are in her
council, for Accolon confessed to me with his own
mouth that she would have destroyed you as well as
me, therefore I hold you excused. But as for your
son, Sir Uwaine, I hold him suspected, therefore I
charge you put him out of my Court."
So Sir Uwaine was dismissed.
When Sir Gawaine, King Lot's son, knew this, he
made ready to go with him.
"Whoso banisheth my cousin shall banish me," he
said, so they two departed.
When Arthur was aware that Sir Gawaine had left
the Court, there was much sorrow among all the lords.
"Now," said Gaheris, Gawaine's brother, "we have
lost two good knights for the sake of one."
The Dream of the Dragon and the Boar
After long war King Arthur rested, and held a
royal feast with his allies of kings, princes, and noble
knights, all of the Round Table. And as he sat on
his royal throne, there came into the hall twelve
ancient men, bearing each of them a branch of olive,
in token that they came as ambassadors and messengers
from Lucius, Emperor of Rome. Having done their
obeisance to the King they delivered their greeting
from the Emperor Lucius, commanding Arthur to
acknowledge him as lord, and pay the tribute due from
England to Rome, as his father and predecessors had
done before. If he refused this demand, then strong
war would be made against him, his realms and his
subjects, so that it would be a perpetual example to all
kings and princes who dared to deny tribute to Rome,
sovereign of the whole world.
When they had delivered their message, the King
commanded them to withdraw, and called together all
his lords and knights of the Round Table, for counsel
on the matter, and to give their advice. They all said
the demand for tribute was unjust, and every man
agreed to make war and to aid after his power ; the
King of Scotland, the King of Little Britain, and the
lord of West Wales, all promised men and money,
and Sir Lancelot and the other knights also pro-
mised likewise. When King Arthur understood their
courage and goodwill he thanked them heartily. The
ambassadors, laden with presents, were sent back to
Rome, with the answer that he owed no tribute to
earthly prince, Christian or heathen; he claimed
sovereignty of the realm of England by right of his
predecessors ; and he was fully determined to go with
a strong and powerful army to Rome, by the Grace of
Dream of the Dragon and the Boar
God to take possession of the empire, and to subdue
those that were rebellious.
When the ambassadors returned with this message
to Lucius, the Emperor sent over the whole world, to
all dominions that were subject to the Empire of Rome,
to summon warriors to fight against Arthur. So a
great multitude of kings and dukes and captains,.and
thousands of people assembled round about Rome.
Also he had with him fifty giants, who were ordained
to guard his person, and to break the front of the
battle of King Arthur.
In the meanwhile King Arthur held a Parliament at
York, and appointed that, during his absence, Queen
Guinevere and the realm should be in the governance
of Sir Baldwin of Britain and Sir Constantine, son of
Sir Cador of Cornwall, who, after his death, became
king of the realm. Then King Arthur, with all his
army, departed, sailing from Sandwich, with a great
multitude of ships, galleys, boats, and men-of-war.
And as the King lay in his cabin in the ship he fell
asleep, and dreamt a marvellous dream. It seemed to
him that a dreadful dragon drowned much of his people,
and he came flying out of the west; his head was
enamelled with azure, and his shoulders shone as gold,
his body like mail of a marvellous hue, his tail full of
tatters, his feet covered with sable, and his claws like
fine gold; a hideous flame of fire flew out of his mouth,
as if land and water all flamed fire.
After him there came out of the east a grimly boar,
all black, in a cloud ; his paws were as big as a post, he
was rough and rugged-looking-the vilest beast that
ever man saw ; he roared and growled so hideously
that it was a marvel to hear.
Then the dreadful dragon advanced, and fought
with the boar, who gnashed at him with his tusks, so
that all the sea was red with blood ; but at last the
dragon smote the boar to powder, both flesh and
bones, so that it was scattered in fragments all abroad
on the sea.
Therewith King Arthur awoke, and was sorely
abashed because of this dream, and he sent at once to a
wise philosopher, commanding him to tell the meaning
"Sir," said the philosopher, the dragon that thou
dreamedst of betokeneth thine own person, and the
colour of his wings be the realms that thou hast won;
and his tail which is all tattered signifieth the noble
Knights of the Round Table. And the boar which the
dragon slew, coming from the clouds, betokeneth some
tyrant that tormenteth the people, or else thou art like
to fight with some giant thyself, whose peer ye never
yet saw. Wherefore of this dreadful dream doubt ye
nothing, but as a conqueror go forth thyself."
Soon after King Arthur's dream of the dragon and
the boar they arrived in France, and here a husbandman
came to Arthur and told him that for seven years a
fearful giant had been ravaging the land of Brittany,
and had slain, murdered, and devoured many people of
the country. Lately he had seized the Duchess of
Brittany as she rode with her train, and had carried her
to his dwelling, which was in a mountain, to keep to
her life's end. Many people followed her, more than
-cbere be founo a wioow, a6ittting Di2a rave newoiiiac."
Dream of the Dragon and the Boar
five hundred, but not all of them together could rescue
I She was wife to thy cousin, Duke Howell, whom
we call full nigh of thy blood," ended the man ; now,
as thou art a rightful King, have pity on this lady; and,
as thou art a noble conqueror, revenge us all."
"Alas said King Arthur, "this is a great mischief!
I had rather than the best realm I have that I had been
a furlong before him, to have rescued that lady. Now,
fellow, canst thou bring me there where this giant
"Yea, sir," said the good man, lo, yonder where
thou seest those two great fires, there thou shalt find
him, and more treasure than I suppose there is in all
When the King understood this piteous case, he
returned into his tent. There he called to him Sir
Kay and Sir Bedivere, and commanded them secretly to
make ready horse and armour for himself and them
twain, for after evensong he would ride on pilgrimage
with those two only to St. Michael's Mount. So they
three departed, and rode forth as fast as ever they
could, till they came to the foot of the Mount. There
they alighted, and the King commanded them to tarry
there, for he would himself go up into the Mount.
He ascended the hill till he came to a great fire,
and there he found a widow wringing her hands, and
making great sorrow, sitting by a grave new-made.
King Arthur saluted her, and asked her why she made
"Sir knight, speak soft," she answered, for yonder
is a devil. If he hear thee speak he will come and
destroy thee. O unhappy man, what dost thou here
in this mountain ? If ye were fifty such as ye be, ye
were not able to make resistance against this monster.
Here lieth a duchess dead, who was the fairest of all
the world, wife to Howell, Duke of Brittany-he hath
Dame," said the King, I come from the noble
conqueror King Arthur, to treat with that tyrant for his
Fie upon such treaties said the widow, for he
setteth not by the King, nor by any man. Beware,
approach him not too near, for he hath vanquished
fifteen kings, and hath made him a coat full of precious
stones, embroidered with their beards, which they sent
him to save their people this last Christmas. And
if thou wilt, speak with him at yonder great fire, at
"Well," said Arthur, for all your fearful words, I
will accomplish my message."
Then he went forth by the crest of the hill, and
saw the giant where he sat at supper, gnawing a huge
bone, and baking his broad limbs by the fire, while
three fair damsels turned three spits, whereon were
broached twelve young children, like young birds.
When King Arthur beheld this piteous sight, he had
great compassion for them, so that his heart bled for
sorrow, and he hailed the giant, saying:
He that wieldeth all the world give thee short life
and shameful death Why hast thou murdered these
young innocent children, and slain this duchess ? Arise
Dream of the Dragon and the Boar
and make ready, thou glutton, for this day thou shalt
die at my hand."
Then the giant started up at once, and took a great
club in his hand, and smote at the King, so that his
helmet was crushed, and the King hit him again, and
wounded him sorely. Then the giant threw away his
club, and caught the King in his arms, so that he
crushed his ribs. Then the three maidens knelt down
and called to Christ for help and comfort to Arthur.
The King wrestled and strove, so that sometimes he
was under, and sometimes above, and thus wrestling
and striving, they rolled down the hill, till they came to
the sea-mark ; and ever as they wrestled, Arthur smote
the giant with his dagger ; and thus it happened they
came to the place where the two knights were with
When they saw the King in the giant's arms they
came and set him free, and by that time the giant was
dead. King Arthur commanded them to smite off his
head, and to set it on a spear, and bear it to Duke
Howell, and tell him that his enemy was slain; and
afterwards to put the head on a tower that all people
might behold it.
And go ye two up the mountain, and fetch me
my shield, my sword, and the club of iron," said King
Arthur. And as for the treasure, take ye it, for ye
shall find there goods out of number. So that I have
the kirtle and the club, I desire no more."
Then the knights fetched the club and the kirtle,
and some of the treasure they took to themselves, and
returned again to the army. And this was immediately
known all through the country, wherefore the people
came and thanked the King. But he answered :
"Give the thanks to God, and part the goods
And after that, King Arthur commanded his cousin
Duke Howell that he should ordain a church to be
built on that same mountain, in honour of St. Michael.
The next day the King set out again on his
expedition against the Emperor Lucius. After many
fierce battles he defeated the Romans, killed Lucius,
and was crowned Emperor of all the lands from Rome
to France. Then he returned home in triumph with
all his knights, crossing the sea, and landing at Sandwich,
where Queen Guinevere, his wife, came to meet him.
All the people in every city and burgh received him
nobly, and great gifts were presented to welcome him
at his home-coming.