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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - XII

( Originally Published 1907 )

"SIR KNIGHT," said king Arthur, "leave that quest and suffer me to have it, and I will follow it another twelve months." "Ah! fool," said the knight to king Arthur, "thy desire is vain; for it shall never be achieved but by me, or by my next kin." There-with he started to the king's horse, and mounted into the saddle, and said, "Gramercy, this horse is mine." "Well," said king Arthur, "thou mayest take my horse by force ; but, and I might prove thee whether thou wert better on horseback or I, I would be content." "Well," said the knight, "seek me here when thou wilt, and here nigh this well thou shalt find me." And so passed forth on his way. Then sat king Arthur in a great study, and bade his men fetch his horse as fast as ever they might. Right so came Merlin, like a child of fourteen years of age, and saluted the king, and asked him. "Why he was so pensive and heavy?" "I may well be pensive and heavy," said the king, "for here even now I have seen the most marvellous sight that ever I saw." "That know I well," said Merlin, "as well as thyself, and of all thy thoughts ; but thou art but a fool to take thought, for it will not amend thee ; also I know what thou art, and also who was thy father, and also on whom thou wert begotten; king Utherpendragon was thy father, and begat thee on Igraine." "That is false," said king Arthur, "how shouldst thou know it? for thou art not so old of years for to know my father." "Yes," said Merlin, "I know it better than you, or any man living." "I will not believe thee," said King Arthur, and was wrath with the child. So Merlin departed, and came again in the likeness of an old man of fourscore years of age, whereof the king was glad, for he seemed to be a right wise man. "Then," said the old man, "why are you so sad?" "I may well be heavy," said king Arthur, "for divers things; also here was a child, and told me many things that me seemeth he should not know ; for he was not of age for to know my father." "Yes," said the old man, "the child told you the truth, and more would he have told you, and you would have suffered him; but you have done a thing late wherefore God is displeased with you ; for you have gotten a child by your sister, that shall destroy you and all the knights of your realm." "What are you," said king Arthur, "that tell me these tidings ?" "I am Merlin, and I was he in the child's likeness." "Ah !" said king Arthur, "ye are a marvellous man ; but I marvel much at thy words, that I must die in battle." "Marvel not," said Merlin, "for it is God's will that your body be punished for your foul deeds ; but I may well be sorry," said Merlin, "for I shall die a shameful death and be put into the earth all quick; and ye shall die a worshipful death." As they thus talked came one with the king's horses ; and so the king mounted on his horse, and Merlin on another, and so rode to Carlion. And anon the king asked Ector and Ulfius how he was begotten? and they told him that Utherpendragon was his father, and queen Igraine his mother. Then king Arthur said unto Merlin, "I will that my mother be sent for, that I may speak with her ; and if she say so herself, then will I believe it." In all haste the queen was sent for ; and she came anon, and brought with her Morgan le Fay, her daughter, that was as fair a lady as any might be; and the king welcomed Igraine in the best manner.

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