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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - III

( Originally Published 1907 )

Then the queen Igraine drew daily near her time when the child Arthur should be born, and it fell, within half a-year, that king Uther asked her by the faith she owed unto him, who was father to her child? Then was she sore abashed to give an answer. "Fear you not," said the king ; "but tell me the truth, and I shall love you the better by that faith of my body." "Sir," said she, "I shall tell you the tr th. The same night that my lord was dead, that hour of his d ath, there came unto my castle of Tintagil a man like my lord i speech and countenance, and two knights with him in likeness of his two knights, Brastias and Jordains ; and so I receited him as I ought to do my lord ; and that same night, as I shall answer unto God, the hild was begotten." "That is truth," said the king, "as you say, for it was I myself that came in his likeness; and, there-fore, fear you not, for I am father to the child." And there he told her all the cause how it was by Merlin's counsel. Then the queen made great joy when she knew who was the father of her child. Soon came Merlin unto the king, and said, "Sir, you must provide you for the nourishing of your child." "As thou wilt," said the king, "be it." "Well," said Merlin, "I know a lord of yours, in this land, that is a passing true man, and faithful, and he shall have the nourishing of your child ; his name is Sir Ector, and he is a lord of fair livelihood, in many parts of England and Wales. And this lord, Sir Ector, let him be sent for, for to come and speak with you, and desire him yourself, as he loveth you, that he will put his own child to nourishing to another woman, and that his wife nourish yours ; and when the child is born, let it be delivered unto me, at yonder postern, unchristened." As Merlin had devised, so it was done. And when Sir Ector was come, he made affiance to the king for to nourish the child, like as the king desired ; and there the king granted Sir Ector great rewards. Then when the queen was delivered, the king commanded two knights and two ladies to take the child, bound in rich cloth of gold, "And deliver him to what poor man you meet at the postern gate of the castle." So the child was delivered unto Merlin, and so he bore it forth unto Sir Ector, and made a holy man to christen him, and named him Arthur; and so Sir Ector's wife nourished him with her own breasts.

Then within two years king Uther fell sick of a great malady; and in the meanwhile his enemies usurped upon him, and did a great battle upon his men, and slew many of his people. "Sir," said Merlin, "you may not lie so as you do, for you must to the field, though you ride in a horse-litter ; for you shall never have the better of your enemies but if your person be there, and then shall you have the victory." So it was done as Merlin had devised, and they carried the king forth in a horse-litter, with a great host towards his enemies. And at Saint Alban's there met with the king a great host of the north ; and that day Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias did great deeds of arms, and king Uther's men overcame the northern battle, and slew much people, and put the remnant to flight; and then the king returned to London, and made great joy of his victory. And within a while after he was passing s re sick, so that three days and three nights he was speechless, wherefore all the barons made great sorrow, and asked Merli what counsel were best? "There is none other remedy," said Merlin, "but God will have his will ; but look ye that all his barons be before him tomorrow, and God and I shall make him to speak." So on the morrow all the barons, with Merlin, came before the king; then Merlin said aloud unto king Uther, "Sir, shall your son Arthur be king after your days of this realm, with all the appurtenances?" Then Uth rpendragon turned him and said, in hearing of them all, "I give him God's blessing and mine, and bid him pray for my soul, and righteously and worshipfully that he claim the crown upon forfeiture of my blessing." And therewith he yielded up he ghost. And then he was interred as belonged unto a king; wherefore Igraine, the queen, made great sorrow, and all the realm in great jeopardy a long while, mighty of men made him strong, an been king. Then 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 they should Christmas, upon pain of cursing; an Jesus was born on that night, that He would of His great mercy show some miracle as He was come to be king of all mankind, for to show some miracle who should be rightness king of this realm. So the archbishop, by the advice of Merlin, sent for all the lords and gentlemen of arms, that they should come by Christmas eve to London; and' many of them made them clean of their lives, that their prayer might be the more barons. Then stood the for every lord that was and many keened to have Archbishop of Canterbury, lords of the realm, and all should come to London before and for this cause, that as acceptable to God. So in the greatest church of London (whether it were Paul's or not the French book maketh no mention) all the estates and lords were long or it was day in the church for to pray. And when matins and the first mass was done, there was seen in the churchyard, against the high altar, a great stone, four-square, like to a marble stone, and in the midst thereof was an anvil of steel, a foot of height, and therein stuck a fair sword, naked by the point, and letters of gold were written about the sword that said thus : "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this stone and anvil is rightwise king born of England." Then the people marvelled and told it to the archbishop. "I command you," said the archbishop, "that you keep you within your church ; and pray unto God still that no man touch the sword till the high mass be all done." So when all the masses were done, all the estates went for to behold the stone and the sword, and when they saw the scripture, some assayed, such as would have been king; but none might stir the sword, nor move it. "He is not yet here," said the archbishop, "that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not God will make him to be known. "But this is my counsel," said the archbishop, "that we let purvey ten knights, men of good fame, and they to keep this sword." And so it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man should assay that would for to win the sword. And, upon new year's day, the barons let make a joust and tournament, that all knights that would joust and tourney there might play; and all this was ordained for to keep the lords together, and the commons, for the archbishop trusted that God would make him known that should win the sword. So, upon new year's day, when the service was done, the barons rode to the field, some to joust, and some to tourney. And so it happened that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London, rode to the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kaye, his son, and young Arthur, that was his nourished brother ; and Sir Kaye was made knight at Allhallowmas afore. So as they rode towards the jousts, Sir Kaye had lost his sword, for he had left it at his father's lodging; and so he prayed young Arthur to ride for his sword. "I will with a good will," said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword; and when he came home, the lady and a1 were gone out to see the jousting. Then was Arthur wrath, and said to himself, "I will ride to the churchyard and take t e sword with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother, Sir Kaye, shall not be without a sword this day." And so, when he came to the churchyard, Arthur alighted, and tied his horse to the stile, and so went to the tent, and found no knights there, for they were all at the jousting; and so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely he pulled it out of the stone, and took his horse, and rode his way till he ca ne to his brother, Sir Kaye, and delivered him the sword. And, as soon as Sir Kaye saw the sword, he wist well that it was the sword of the stone ; and 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 beheld the sword, he returned again, and came to the church, and there they alighted all three, and went into the church; and anon he male Sir Kaye to swear upon a book how he came to that sword. "Sir," said Sir Kaye, "by my brother, Arthur; for he brought it to me." "How gat you this sword?" said Sir Ector to Arthur. "Sir, I will tell you; when I came home for my brother's sword I found nobody at home for to deliver me his sword ; and so I thought my brother, Sir Kaye, should not be swordless, a d so I came thither eagerly, and pulled it out of the sto e without any pain." "Found ye any knights about this sword?" said Sir Ector. "Nay," said Arthur. "Now," said Sir 1 Ector to Arthur, "I understand that you must be king of this land." "Wherefore I?" said Arthur, "and for what cause?" "Sii," said Sir Ector, "for God will have it so ; for there should never no man have drawn out this sword, but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now, let me see whether ye can put the Sword there as it was, and pull it out again." "That is no mastery," said Arthur; and so he put it in the stone. Therewith Sir Ector assayed to pull out the sword, and failed.

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