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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - VII

( Originally Published 1907 )

THEN king Arthur came out of his tower, and had underneath his gown a jessernaut of double mail, which was good and sure ; and there went with him the Archbishop of Canterbury, and Sir Boudwine, of Britain, and Sir Kaye, the seneschal, and Sir Brastias ; these were the men of most worship that were with him ; and when they were met together, there was but little meekness, for there was stout and hard words on both sides. But always king Arthur answered them and said, "That he would make them to bow, and he lived;" wherefore they de-parted with wrath, and king Arthur bade keep them well, and they bid the king keep him well. So the king returned to the tower again, and armed him and all his knights. "What will ye do?" said Merlin to the kings; "ye are better to stint, for here ye shall not prevail, though ye were ten times so many." "Be we well advised to be afraid of a dream-reader?" said king Lot. With that Merlin vanished away, and came to king Arthur, and bade him set on them fiercely ; and in the mean-while there were three hundred good men of the best that were with the kings, that went straight to king Arthur, and that comforted him greatly. "Sir," said Merlin to king Arthur, "fight not with the sword that you had by miracle, till you see that you go to the worst, then draw it out and do your best." So forthwithal king Arthur set upon them in their lodging, and Sir Boudwine, Sir Kaye, and Sir Brastias slew on the right hand and on the left, that it was marvel, and always king Arthur on horseback laid on with a sword, and did marvellous deeds of arms, that many of the kings had great joy of his deeds and hardiness. Then king Lot brake out on the backside, and the king with the hundred knights, and king Carados, and set on king Arthur fiercely behind him. With that king Arthur turned with his knights, and smote behind and before, and king Arthur was in the foremost press, t'11 his horse was slain under him. And therewith king Lot smote down king Arthur; and with that his four knights received him, and set him on horse-back. Then he drew his sword Excalibur; but it was so bright in his enemy's eyes that it gave light like thirty torches, and therewith he put them back, and slew much people. And then all the commons of Carlion arose with clubs and staves, and slew many knights; but all the knights' held them together with the knights that were left alive, and fled and departed. And Merlin came to king Arthur, and counselled him to follow them no farther.

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