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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - XVI

( Originally Published 1907 )

THEREWITHAL came Merlin and said, "Knight, hold thy hand, for and 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 worship than thou wottest of." "Why, who is he?" said the knight. "It is King Arthur." Then would he have slain him for dread of his wrath, and heaved up his sword, and therewith Merlin cast an enchantment on the knight, that he fell to the earth in a great sleep. Then Merlin took up King Arthur, and rode forth with him upon the knight's horse. "Alas!" said King 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 had rather than the loss of my land a year that he were alive." "Care ye not," said Merlin, "for he is wholer than ye, for he is but asleep, and will awake within three hours. I told you," said Merlin, "what a knight he was ; here had ye been slain had I not been. Also. there liveth not a better knight than he is one, and he shall do you hereafter right good service, and his name is Pellinore ; and he shall have two sons that shall be passing good men, and, save one, they shall have no fellow of prowess and of good living; the one shall be named Percivale of Wales, and the other Lamoracke of Wales ; and they shall tell you the name of your own begotten son that shall be the destruction of all this realm." Right so the king and he departed, and went unto a hermitage, whereas was a good man and a great leech. So the hermit searched all his wounds and gave good salves ; and the king was there three days, and then were his wounds well amended that he might ride and go. And so Merlin and he de-parted, and as they rode King Arthur said, "I have no sword." "No matter," said Merlin, "hereby is a sword that shall be yours and I may." So they rode till they came to a lake, which was a fair water and a broad; and in the midst of the lake King Arthur was aware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in the hand. "Lo," said Merlin unto the king, "yonder is the sword that I spake of." With that they saw a damsel going upon the lake. "What damsel is that?" said the king. "That is the Lady of the Lake," said Merlin, "and within that lake is a reach, and therein is as fair a place as any is on earth, and richly beseen ; and this damsel will come to you anon, and then speak fair to her that she will give you that/ sword." Therewith came the damsel to King Arthur and saluted him, and he her again. "Damsel," said the king, "what sword is that which the arm holdeth yonder above the water? I would it were mine, for I have no sword." "Sir king," said the damsel of the lake, "that sword is mine, and if ye will give me a gift when I ask it, ye shall have it." "By my faith," said King Arthur, "I will give you any gift that you will ask or desire." "Well," said the damsel, "go ye into yonder barge, and row yourself unto the sword, and take it and the scabbard with you; and I will ask my gift when I see my time." So King Arthur and Merlin alighted, tied their horses to two trees, and so they went into the barge. And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up by the handles, and took it with him; and the arm and the hand went under the' water, and so came to the land, and rode forth. Then King Arthur saw a rich pavilion. "What signifieth yonder pavilion ?" "That is the knight's pavilion, that ye fought with last, Sir Pellinore; but he is out; for he is not there; he hath had to do with a knight of yours ; that hight Eglame, and they have foughten together a great while, but at the last Eglame fled, and else he had been dead and Sir Pellinore hath chased him to Carlion, and we shall anon meet with him in the highway." "It is well said," quoth King Arthur, "now have I a sword, and now will I wage battle with him, and be avenged on him." "Sir, ye shall not do so," said Merlin, "for the knight is weary of fighting and chasing; so that ye shall have no worship to have to do with him. Also he will not lightly be matched of one knight living, and therefore my counsel is that ye let him pass ; for he shall do you good service in short time, and his sons after his days. Also ye shall see that day in short space, that ye shall be right glad to give him your sister to wife." "When I see him," said King Arthur, "I will do as ye advise me." Then King Arthur looked upon the sword, and liked it passing well. "Whether liketh you better," said Merlin, "the sword or the scabbard?' "Me liketh better the sword," said King Arthur. "Ye are more unwise," said Merlin ; "for the scabbard is worth ten of the sword ; for while ye have the scab-bard upon you, ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded, therefore keep well the scabbard alway with you." So they rode on to Carlion, and by the way they met with Sir Pellinore. But Merlin had done such a craft, that Pellinore saw not Arthur, and so he passed by without any words. "I marvel," said the king, "that the knight would not speak." "Sir," said Merlin, "he saw you not; for and he had seen you, he had not lightly departed." So they came unto Carlion, whereof the knights were passing glad; and when they heard of his adventures, they marvelled that he would jeopard his person so alone. But all men of worship said it was merry to be under such a chieftain, that would put his person in adventure as other poor knights did.

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