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King Arthur Stories Part 4 The Sword Excalibur.

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Merlin took up King Arthur, and rode forth with him upon the knight's horse. As they rode King Arthur said, "I have no sword." "No matter," said Merlin, "hereby is a sword that shall be yours, Sir King." So they rode till they came to a lake, which was a fair water and a broad; and in the midst of the lake King Arthur was aware of an arm clothed in white samite, that held a fair sword in the hand. "Lo," said Merlin unto the king, "yonder is the sword that I spake of." With that they saw a damsel going upon the lake. "What damsel is that?" said the king. "That is the Lady of the Lake," said Merlin, "and within that lake is a reach, and therein is as fair a place as any is on earth, and richly beseen; and this damsel will come to you anon, and then speak fair to her that she will give you that sword." Therewith came the damsel to King Arthur and saluted him, and he her again. "Damsel," said the king, "what sword is that which the arm holdeth yonder above the water? I would it were mine, for I have no sword." "Sir king," said the damsel of the lake, "that sword is mine, and if ye will give me a gift when I ask it you, ye shall have it."--"By my faith," said King Arthur, "I will give you any gift that you will ask or desire.

"Well," said the damsel, "go ye into yonder barge, and row yourself unto the sword, and take it and the scabbard with you; and I will ask my gift when I see my time." So King Arthur and Merlin alighted, tied their horses to two trees, and so they went into the barge. And when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur took it up by the handles, and took it with him: and the arm and the hand went under the water, and so King Arthur came to the land, and rode forth. * * * Then the king looked upon the sword, and liked it passing well. "Whether liketh you better," said Merlin, "the sword or the scabbard?" "Me liketh better the sword," said King Arthur.--"Ye are more unwise," said Merlin; "for the scabbard is worth ten of the sword; for while ye have the scabbard upon you ye shall lose no blood, be ye never so sore wounded; therefore keep well the scabbard alway with you." * * * Then Arthur proclaimed 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 have 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, sent on message from the great Lady Lily, of Avilion; 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 villany 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 were 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 besooth, 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 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 villany, 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 that 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." It happened so, at that time, that there was a poor knight with King Arthur, that had been prisoner with him half a year and more, for slaying of a knight, which was cousin to King Arthur. The knight was named Balin le Savage: and by good means of the barons he was delivered out of prison; for he was a good man named of his body, and he was born in Northumberland. And so he went privily into the court, and saw this adventure, whereof his heart rose, and would assay it as other knights did; but for because he was poor, and poorly arrayed, he put him not far in press.


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The Sword Excalabur continued.
Part 4 The Sword Excalibur continued.