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Book Of Merlin, And The Coming Of Arthur - IX

( Originally Published 1907 )

KING Arthur and the two knights let dispart the seven hundred knights in two parties ; and there were three hundred knights of the realm of Benwicke, and they of Gaul turned on the other side. Then they dressed their shields, and many good knights couched their spears. So Sir Griflet was the first that met with a knight, that was called Ladinas, and they met so eagerly that all men had wonder ; and they fought so that their shields fell to pieces, and horse and men fell to the earth; and both the English knight and the French knight lay so long, that all men weened that they had been dead. And when Lucas, the butler, saw Griflet lay so, he quickly horsed him again, and they two did marvellous deeds of arms with many batchelors ; and also Sir Kaye came out of an ambushment with five good knights with him, and they smote other five down, horse and man. But Sir Kaye did that day marvellous deeds of arms, that there was none that did so well as he on that day. Then there came in, fiercely, Sir Ladinas and Sir Grastian, two knights of France, and did passing well, that all men praised them. Then came there Sir Placidas, a good knight, and met with Sir Kaye, and smote him down, horse and man; wherefore Sir Griflet was wrath, and met with SIr Placidas so hard, that horse and man fell to the earth. But when the five knights wist that Sir Kaye had a fall, they were wondrous wrath, and then with each of them five bear down a knight. When king Arthur and the two kings saw them begin to wax wrath on both parts, they leaped on small hackneys, and let cry that all men should depart unto their lodging; and so they went home and unarmed them, and so to evensong and supper. And after the three kings went into a garden, and gave the prize unto Sir Kaye and to Sir Lucas, the butler, and to Sir Griflet; and then they went to counsel, and with them Gwenbaus, brother unto Sir Ban and Bors, a wise clerk, and thither went Ulfius and Brastias, and Merlin ; and, after they had been in counsel, they went to bed. And on the morrow they heard mass, and after went to dinner, and so their counsel, and made many arguments what were best to do. At the last they were concluded that Merlin should go with a token of king Ban, and that was a ring, unto his men and king Bors ; and Gracian and Placidas should go again and keep their castles and their countries, as king Ban, of Benwicke, and king Bors, of Gaul, had ordained them, and so passed the sea and came to Benwicke. And when the people saw king Ban's ring, and Gracian and Placidas, they were glad, and asked how the king fared, and made great joy of their welfare and accordance; and, according unto their sovereign lord's desire, the men of war made them ready in all haste possible, so that they had fifteen thousand on horseback and on foot, and they had great plenty of victuals with them,, by Merlin's provision. But Gracian and Placidas were left to furnish and garnish the castles, for dread of king Claudas. Right so Merlin passed the sea, well victualled, both by water and by land; and, when he came to the sea, he sent home the footmen again, and took no more with him but ten thousand men on horseback, the most part men of arms, and so shipped and passed the sea into England, and landed at Dover; and through the wit of Merlin he led the host northward, the priviest way that could be thought, unto the forest of Bedgraine, and there in a valley he lodged them secretly. Then rode Merlin unto king Arthur and the two kings, and told them how he had sped; whereof they had great marvel, that man, on earth might speed so soon, and go and come. So Merlin told them that ten thousand were in the forest of Bedgraine, well armed at all points. Then was there no more to say, but to horseback went all the host, as king Arthur had afore purveyed. So, with twenty thousand, he passed by night and day, but there was made such an ordinance afore by Merlin, that there should no man of war ride nor go in no country, on this side Trent water, but if he had a token from king Arthur; where the king's enemies durst not ride, as they did before, to espy.

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