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mine, and it is named EXCALIBUR, or Cut Steel. Get thee into yonder barge and row thyself to the sword, and take it and the scabbard with it, for it is thine." Then King Arthur and Merlin alighted, and tied their horses to two 5 trees, and went into the barge, and when they came to the sword that the hand held, King Arthur grasped it by the hilt. Then the arm and the hand disappeared under the water. And King Arthur looked upon the sword and liked it well. "Which do you like the better," said 10 Merlin," the sword or the scabbard ?" "The sword," said King Arthur. "You are unwise," said Merlin; "the scabbard is worth ten of the sword, for while you have the scabbard upon you, you shall never lose blood even if you are sorely wounded."
A. J. CHURCH: Heroes of Chivalry and Romance.
rev'er ence, respect deeply; arch bish'op, chief bishop; dam'sel, young lady, an old-fashioned word; barge, boat; scab'bard, sheath.
1. Who was King Arthur? About when did he live? Find on your maps the country over which he ruled. What do we now call it? 2. What is a wizard? What is a miracle? 3. What were the vows that every knight took? 4. Tell the story of how Arthur was made king. Compare this story of the taking of the sword with that in Siegfried. 5. What was a tournament like? 6. What was a knighterrant? 7. Tell in your own words how Arthur got his sword.
Written Composition. Find out something about the ceremony of conferring knighthood, and write a short composition about it. Write under some such headings as these: 1. The training a boy received in preparation for knighthood. 2. The vows he took when he was made a knight. 3. How knighthood was conferred upon him.
KING ARTHUR AND HIS KNIGHTS (Concluded)
LATER, it befell on a time that King Arthur said to Merlin, "My barons will let me have no rest, but they will have it that I shall take a wife, and I will take none except by thy counsel and by thy advice." "It is well," said Merlin, "that you should take a wife, for a man of 5 your nobleness should not be without one. Now, is there any fair lady that you love better than another?" "Yea," said King Arthur, "I love Guenevere, the daughter of King Leodegrance; for this damsel is the gentlest and fairest lady living." So Merlin went to King Leodegrance 10 and told him the desire of Arthur. "That is to me," said King Leodegrance, "the best tidings that I have heard, that so worthy a king will wed my daughter. And I would give him land for a marriage gift, but he hath lands enough and needeth no more. But I shall send him 15 a gift that will please him much more, for I shall send him the Round Table which King Uther, his father, gave Around it may sit one hundred knights and fifty, and with it I will send a hundred knights." And so King Leodegrance delivered his daughter Guenevere unto King 20 Arthur and the Round Table with the hundred knights.
When King Arthur heard of the coming of Guenevere and the hundred knights with the Round Table, he
rejoiced greatly and said, "This lady is exceedingly wel come to me, for I have loved her long, and these knights of the Round Table please me more than great riches." Then King Arthur said to Merlin, "Go thou throughout 5 the land and find me fifty knights of the greatest prowess." Within a short time Merlin found twenty and eight brave knights, but no more could he find.
Then the Archbishop came and blessed the seats at the Round Table, and when all the knights arose to do homage 10 unto King Arthur, the name of each knight was found written on the seat in letters of gold. But on one seat no name was written, and that seat was called the Seat Perilous, "for thereon," said Merlin, "shall no one sit except the bravest and purest of all, and whoever else attempts 15 to sit there shall die. And the seat shall be vacant until he comes.'
Thus King Arthur gathered around him a band of noble knights, and added to their number, until all the seats at the Round Table were filled save the Seat 20 Perilous.
The best of all his knights was Sir Lancelot of the Lake, who was said to be the head of all the Christian knights, the courtliest knight that ever bore shield, the trustiest friend that ever bestrode horse, the truest lover 25 of all mortal men, the kindest man that ever struck with sword, the goodliest person ever seen in battle, the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in a hall among
ladies, and the sternest knight to his mortal foe that ever put spear in rest.
The noblest and most saintly of King Arthur's knights was Sir Galahad, Sir Lancelot's son, who had been from childhood trained to a life of purity and of bravery and 5 self-sacrifice. He it was who sat in the Seat Perilous. And with Sir Lancelot and the other knights, King Arthur did great deeds, fighting always for the right and defending the truth, until peace again smiled upon the land, and justice reigned, and the weak and lowly lived 10 under the protection of the strong.
But evil days came again. Many of the Round Table had died in battle or wandered afar in search of adventures, and those who remained quarreled one with another and broke their vows; even Guenevere no longer loved 15 Arthur, but Lancelot, and fled with him. And Sir Modred, one of Arthur's knights, conspired against him, and the kingdom was in great turmoil, and King Arthur's knights and those of Sir Modred met in a great battle by the sea. There was a terrible slaughter on both sides, and King 20 Arthur slew Sir Modred, but was himself sorely wounded.
Then he spoke to his only surviving knight, Sir Bedivere, and said, "My time cometh fast; therefore take thou Excalibur, my good sword, and go down with it to yonder water side, and when thou comest there, I charge 25 thee to throw my sword into the water and come again and tell me what thou seest there."
"My lord," said Bedivere, "your commandment shall be done, and I will quickly bring you word again." So Sir Bedivere departed, and as he went he looked at the noble sword and saw that the hilt was studded thick with 5 precious stones. Then he said to himself, "If I throw this rich sword into the water, no good shall come therefrom, but harm and loss." And so Sir Bedivere hid Excalibur under a tree. Then he came again to the King, and said he had thrown the sword into the water. 10" What saw'st thou there?" said the King. "Sir," he said, "I saw nothing but waves and winds." "Thou hast spoken untruly," said the King; "therefore go thou quickly back again and do my command. As thou art dear to me, spare not the sword, but throw it in."
15 Then Sir Bedivere returned again, and took the sword in his hand, and again he thought it a sin and shame to throw away the noble sword, and so he hid it and returned again, and told the King that he had been to the water and done his command. "What didst thou see there?" 20 said the King. "Sir," he said, "I saw nothing but the water and the waves." "Now hast thou betrayed me twice," said King Arthur. "Who would have thought that thou, who hast been so true to me and art called a noble knight, would have betrayed me for the riches of a 25 sword? Now go quickly again, for thy long tarrying hath put me in great danger of my life, and unless thou dost now as I bid thee, I will slay thee with mine own hands."