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This story is suitable for children age 6 to 8 approx.
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When Christ was on earth, He had a little band of disciples who loved
him very much. The night before He went away from them, He took them to
a little upstairs room and there had a supper with them. And it was said
that at that supper, He used a beautiful golden cup in which He passed
the wine to them, and when He went away from earth, the disciples loved
everything He had touched, and they seemed to love most of all this
golden cup. They called it the Holy Grail, and it was given to a very
good man, who cared for it carefully, and for years it passed from one
good man to another, for it was said that if it ever fell into the hands
of a man who was not good and Christ-loving the cup would be lost.
So for many years it was carefully kept, and people took long journeys
to see the Holy Grail, which the Master himself used when He was on
earth. But one day the cup passed into the hands of one who was not
worthy, and, as it had been said, it was lost.
They searched for it far and near, but it could not be found. Finally
there came some men who called themselves knights. They were brave,
strong men, who did many wonderful things for the king, and many of them
said: "We will spend our lives hunting for the Holy Grail. We will take
long pilgrimages until we find it." And so the knights searched over
land and sea, over mountain and plain, hunting for the Holy Grail, but
still they found it not. Then there came a knight whose name was Sir
Launfal. He was very young--so young that he had never made a journey,
nor worn an armor, nor had he ever done a wonderful deed. But he was
brave, and said in his heart: "I will find the Holy Grail." So he went
to the silversmith and had a beautiful silver armor and golden spurs
made, and to the helmet-maker, who made him a helmet of shining silver.
Next he chose from the stables the finest steed, and he was then ready
for the journey, and Sir Launfal's heart was full of hope.
On the night before the pilgrimage he lay in his room, and the armor
hung on the wall before him, with the helmet beside it, and the horse
stood ready in the stable. At the first ray of morning he was to begin
his journey, and as he lay he slept, and dreamed a dream. He thought it
was already morning--the morning of his pilgrimage. He had on his armor
and his silver helmet, and was riding out of the castle gate on his
beautiful steed. It was a June morning, and everything was beautiful.
The very flowers and green grass beneath his feet seemed to bring Sir
Launfal a message of hope. And as he rode his heart was very glad, and
he said: "I shall find the Holy Grail." He was riding out of the great
castle gate when he heard a voice which was tired and weak, and it said:
"Will you please give me something?" Sir Launfal looked in surprise, and
there, crouching beside the castle gate, was a beggar, poor and ragged
and weak, and it was he who had asked in a tired voice, "Will you please
give me something?"
Sir Launfal looked at him and frowned, and said in
his heart, "Why does this beggar lie at my castle gate to spoil the
beauty of the morning?" But, because he was a knight and felt that he
must give something, he took from his purse a piece of gold and threw it
to the beggar. But the beggar looked at him and said, seeing his
scornful frown: "I do not wish your gold that you give with scorn.
Better to me a poor man's crust." But Sir Launfal rode proudly down the
road on his way, for he felt that he could no longer listen to the poor
beggar. Then he rode over land and sea, over mountain and plain,
searching everywhere for the Holy Grail, and, although it sometimes
seemed very near, he did not find it.
He had now grown to be an old man. The helmet and armor were rusted, his
clothes had become thin and ragged, he was stooped and gray, and his
eyes had grown dim with the years, but still he searched, and said in
his heart: "I will find the Holy Grail."
Then he seemed to be near his
old home one night, and he said to himself: "Before I go on my way I
will once more look at my old home." And he entered the gate, and as he
was walking up the path he heard a voice, tired and weak, and it said:
"Will you please give me something?" He looked down, and there by his
feet lay the beggar who had asked for something at his castle gate the
morning he had started on his pilgrimage.
This time Sir Launfal looked at him and smiled. Then he said: "I have
only a crust of bread, but I will gladly share it with you." Then,
taking from his pocket a single crust of bread, he stooped and gave the
half to the beggar. Then Sir Launfal said: "I will get you water to
quench your thirst," and he went to where the little spring ran merrily
along in the twilight, and, taking from his pocket a little tin cup,
battered and rusted from years of use, he filled it to the brim with
clear, cold water, and returned with it to the beggar.
As soon as the
tin cup touched the beggar's hand it turned into a shining cup of gold,
and behold! the beggar was no longer there, but in his place there stood
a man, tall, strong and beautiful, wearing shining white garments, and
around his head there seemed a radiant glow of light. The beautiful man
looked at Sir Launfal, and he said, in a voice full of love and
gentleness: "In your own castle yard you have found the Holy Grail by
doing kindly service to one of my needy ones."
The beautiful man was gone. Sir Launfal lay in his room. The morning
sunlight came in through the window, telling him it was time to arise
and go on his journey. And his helmet and armor still hung on the wall,
ready for him; but Sir Launfal lay long in thought. There was no need of
his long pilgrimage, for the poor and the needy were close to his door,
and he stayed to help them with gifts of love.