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The Book Of Sir Balin Le Savage - III

( Originally Published Early 1900's )

THE meanwhile that this knight was making him ready to depart, there came into the court a lady, which hight (was called) the Lady of the Lake, and she came on horseback richly beseen, and saluted King Arthur, and there she asked him a gift that he had promised her when she gave him the sword.

"That is sooth," said King Arthur, "a gift I promised you ; but I have forgotten the name of the sword which ye gave me." "The name of it," said the lady, "is Excalibur, that is as much to say as cut-steel" "Ye say well," said King Arthur ; "ask what ye will, and ye shall have it, if it lie in my power to give it." "Well," said the Lady of the Lake, "I ask the head of the knight that hath won the sword, or else the damsel's head that brought it; and though I have both their heads I care not, for he slew my brother, a full good knight and a true, and the gentlewoman was causer of my father's death." "Truly," said King Arthur,"I may not grant you either of their heads with my worship; therefore ask what ye will else, and I shall fulfil your desire." "I will ask none other thing of you," said the lady. When Balin was ready to depart, he saw the Lady of the Lake there, by whose means was slain his own mother, and he had sought her three years. And when it was told him that she demanded his head of King Arthur, he went straight to her and said, "Evil be ye found, ye would have my head, and therefore ye shall lose yours ;" and with his sword lightly he smote off her head in the presence of King Arthur. "Alas ! for shame," said the king; "why have you done so? you have shamed me and all my court, for this was a lady that I was much beholden unto, and hither she came under my safe con-duct, I shall never forgive you that trespass." "My lord," said Balin, "me forethinketh much of your displeasure, for this lady was the untruest lady living ; and by her enchantment and witchcraft she bath been the destroyer of many good knights, and she was the cause that my mother was burnt through her falsehood and treachery." "What cause soever ye had," said King Arthur, "ye should have forborne her in my presence ; therefore think not the contrary, ye shall repent it, for such another despite had I never in my court afore ; therefore with-draw you out of my court in all the haste ye may." Then Balin took up the head of the lady, and bear it with him to his hostel, and there he met with his squire, that was sorry he had displeased King Arthur ; and so they rode forth out of the town. "Now," said Balin, "we must here depart ; take you this head and bear it to my friends, and tell them how I have sped, and tell my friends in Northumberland that my most foe is dead ; also tell them now I am out of prison, and also what adventure did befall me at the getting of this sword." "Alas," said the squire, "ye are greatly to blame for to displease King Arthur." "As for that," said Balin, "I will hie me with all the haste I may to meet with Rience, and destroy him, or else to die there-fore; and if it may happen me to win him, then will King Arthur be my good and gracious lord." "Where shall I meet with you?" said the squire. "In King Arthur's court," said Balin. So his squire and he departed at that time. Then King Arthur and all the court made great dole, and had great shame of the death of the Lady of the Lake. Then the king full richly buried her.

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