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The Book Of Sir Balin Le Savage - I

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

AFTER the death of King Utherpendragon reigneth King Arthur, his son, which had great wars in his days, for to get all England into his hands; for there were many kings at that time within the realm of England, in Wales, in Scotland, and in Cornwall. So it befel upon a time, when King Arthur was at London, there came a knight that brought the king tidings how that Rience, of North Wales, had reared a great number of people, and were entered into the land, and burnt and slew the king's true liege people. "If that be true," said King Arthur, "it were great shame unto mine estate, but that he were mightily withstanden." "It is truth," said the knight, "for I saw the host myself." Then King Arthur let make a cry, that all the lords, knights, and gentlemen of arms, should draw unto a castle, that was called in those days Camelot, and the king would let make a council general, and a great joust. So when the king was come thither, with all his baronage, and lodged as them seemed best, there came a damsel, which was sent on message from the great Lady Lily, of Avelion; and, when she came before King Arthur, she told him from whom she came, and how she was sent on message unto him for these causes. And she let her mantle fall, that was richly furred, and then she was girded with a noble sword, whereof the king had great marvel, and said, "Damsel, for what cause are ye gird with that sword, it beseemeth you not?" "Now shall I tell you," said the damsel, "This sword, that I am gird withal, doth me great sorrow and remembrance; for I may not be delivered of this sword but by a good knight ; and he must be a passing good man of his hands, and of his deeds, and without villainy or treachery. If I may find such a knight that hath all these virtues, he may draw out this sword of the scabbard. For I have been at King Rience ; for it was told that there was passing good knights, and he and all his knights have assayed it, and none can speed."

"This is a great marvel," said King Arthur, "and if be sooth, I will myself assay to draw out the sword ; not presuming upon myself that I am the best knight, but that I will begin to draw at your sword, in giving example to all the barons, that they shall assay every one after other, when I have assayed." Then King Arthur took the sword by the scabbard and the girdle, and pulled at it eagerly, but the sword would not out. "Sir," said the damsel, "ye need not pull half so hard ; for he that shall pull it out shall do it with little might." "Ye say well," said King Arthur : "now assay ye, all my barons ; but beware ye be not defiled with shame, treachery, nor guile." "Then it will not avail," said the damsel; "for he must be a clean knight, without villainy, and of gentle stream of father's side and mother's side." Most of all the barons of the Round Table, that were there at the time, assayed all in turn, but none might speed. Wherefore the damsel made great sorrow out of measure, and said, "Alas ! I weened in this court had been the best knights, without treachery or treason." "By my faith," said King Arthur, "here are as good knights as I deem any be in the world; but their grace is not to help you, wherefore I am greatly displeased."

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