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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - XI

( Originally Published 1907 )

THEN after that king Ban and king Bois were departed, king Arthur rode unto Carlion, and thither came to him Lot's wife, of Orkney, in manner of a messenger; but she was sent thither to espy the court of king Arthur, and she came richly beseen with her four sons, Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, and Gareth, with many other knights and ladies; and she was a passing fair lady, wherefore the king cast great love unto her, and in this wise was Mordred begotten. And she was his sister, on the mother's side, Igraine. So there she rested her month, and, at the last, she departed. Then, on a time, the king dreamed a marvellous dream, whereof he was right sore afraid; but all this time king Arthur knew not that king Lot's wife was his sister. This was king Arthur's dream. Him thought that there was come into this land many griffins and serpents, and him thought that they burnt and slew all the people in the land, and then him thought that he fought with them, and that they did him passing great damage, and wounded him full sore ; but, at the last, he slew them all. When the king awoke he was passing heavy, and right pensive of his dream; and so, for to put away all these thoughts, he made him ready, with many knights, to ride on hunting. As soon as he was in the forest, the king saw a great hart afore him. "This hart will I chase," said king Arthur. And so he spurred his horse, and rode long after; and so, by fine force,. oft he was like to have smitten the hart; whereas the king had chased the hart so long, that his horse had lost his breath, and fell down dead. Then a yeoman set the king another horse; the king saw the hart in ambush, and his horse dead, he sat him down by the fountain, and there he fell in great thoughts. And as he sat there alone, him thought he heard a noise of hounds to the number of thirty ; and with that the king saw coming toward him the strangest beast that ever he saw or heard tell of. So the beast went to the fountain, and drank, and the noise was in the beast's belly, like unto the questing of thirty couple of hounds ; but all the while that the beast drank there was no noise in the beast's belly. And there-with the beast departed, with a great noise, whereof the king had great marvel; and so he was in great thought, and there-with he fell on sleep. Right so there came a knight on foot to king Arthur, and said, "Knight, full of thought, and sleepy, tell me if thou sawest a strange beast pass this way?" "Such a one saw I," said king Arthur unto the knight, "that is past two miles. What would you with that beast?" said king Arthur. "Sir, I have followed that beast a long time, and have killed my horse, so would God I had another to follow my quest." Right so came one with the king's horse; and when the knight saw the horse, he prayed the king to give him that horse; for I have followed the quest these twelve months, and either I shall achieve him, or bleed of the best blood of my body. King Pellinore that time followed the questing beast, and after his death Sir Palomides followed it.

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