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Then quickly from the foughten field

he sent Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere, His new-made knights, to King Leodo

gran, Saying, "If I in aught have served thee

well, Give me thy daughter Guinevere to wife.'

And dazed all eyes, till Arthur by main

might, And mightier of his hands with every

blow, And leading all his knighthood threw the

kings Carádos, Urien, Cradlemont of Wales, Claudias, and Clariance of Northumber.

land, The King Brandagoras of Latangor, With Anguisant of Erin, Morganore, And Lot of Orkney. Then, before a voice As dreadful as the shout of one who sees To one who sins, and deems himself alone And all the world asleep, they swerved

and brake Flying, and Arthur call'd to stay the

brands That hack'd among the flyers, 'Ho! they

yield ! So like a painted battle the war stood Silenced, the living quiet as the dead, And in the heart of Arthur joy was lord. He laugh'd upon his warrior whom he

loved And honour'd most. Thou dost not

doubt me King,

Whom when he heard, Leodogran in

heart Debating— How should I that am a

king, However much he holp me at my need, Give my one daughter saving to a king, And a king's son ?'—lifted his voice, and

call'd A hoary man, his chamberlain, to whom He trusted all things, and of him required His counsel : Knowest thou aught of

Arthur's birth ?'

Then spake the hoary chamberlain and

said, "Sir King, there be but two old men that

know : And each is twice as old as I ; and one Is Merlin, the wise man that ever served

King Uther thro' his magic art; and one Is Merlin's master (so they call him) Bleys, Who taught him magic; but the scholar

ran

Before the master, and so far, that Bleys Laid magic by, and sat him down, and

wrote All things and whatsoever Merlin did In one great annal-book, where after

years Will learn the secret of our Arthur's

birth.'

'Sir, there be many rumours on this

head : For there be those who hate him in their

hearts, Call him baseborn, and since his ways

are sweet, And theirs are bestial, hold him less than

man : And there be those who deem him more

than man, And dream he dropt from heaven : but

my belief In all this matter-so ye care to learn — Sir, for ye know that in King Uther's

time The prince and warrior Gorlois, he that

To whom the King Leodogran replied, "O friend, had I been holpen half as well By this King Arthur as by thee to-day, Then beast and man had had their share

held

of me:

But summon here before us yet once more Ulfius, and Brastias, and Bedivere.'

Tintagil castle by the Cornish sea,
Was wedded with a winsome wife,

Ygerne:
And daughters had she borne him,-one

whereof, Lot's wife, the Queen of Orkney, Belli

Then, when they came before him, the

King said, 'I have seen the cuckoo chased by lesser

fowl, And reason in the chase : but wherefore

cent,

now

Do these your lords stir up the heat of

war, Some calling Arthur born of Gorlois, Others of Anton ? Tell me, ye your.

selves, Hold ye this Arthur for King Uther's son?'

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And Ulfius and Brastias answer'd,

*Ay.' Then Bedivere, the first of all his knights Knighted by Arthur at his crowning,

spakeFor bold in heart and act and word was

he, Whenever slander breathed against the

King

And overthrown was Gorlois and slain. Then Uther in his wrath and heat besieged Ygerne within Tintagil, where her men, Seeing the mighty swarm about their

walls, Left her and fled, and Uther enter'd in, And there was none to call to but himself. So, compass'd by the power of the King, Enforced she was to wed him in her tears, And with a shameful swiftness : after

ward,

Or else baseborn.” Yet Merlin thro' his

craft, And while the people clamour’d for a

king, Had Arthur crown'd; but after, the great

lords Banded, and so brake out in open war.'

Not many moons, King Uther died him.

self, Moaning and wailing for an heir to rule After him, lest the realm should go to

wrack, And that same night, the night of the new

year, By reason of the bitterness and grief That vext his mother, all before his time Was Arthur born, and all as soon as born Deliver'd at a secret postern.gate To Merlin, to be holden far apart Until his hour should come ; because the

lords Of that fierce day were as the lords of this, Wild beasts, and surely would have torn

the child Piecemeal among them, had they known;

for each But sought to rule for his own self and

hand, And many hated Uther for the sake Of Gorloïs. Wherefore Merlin took the

child, And gave him to Sir Anton, an old knight And ancient friend of Uther; and his wife Nursed the young prince, and rear'd him

with her own ; And no man knew. And ever since the

lords Have foughten like wild beasts among

themselves, So that the realm has gone to wrack :

but now, This year, when Merlin (for his hour had

come) Brought Arthur forth, and set him in the

hall, Proclaiming, “Here is Uther's heir, your

king," A hundred voices cried, “ Away with him! No king of ours ! a son of Gorloïs he, Or else the child of Anton, and no king,

Then while the King debated with

himself If Arthur were the child of shameful

ness, Or born the son of Gorlois, after death, Or Uther's son, and born before his time, Or whether there were truth in anything Said by these three, there came to Came

liard, With Gawain and young Modred, her two

sons, Lot's wife, the Queen of Orkney, Belli

cent; Whom as he could, not as he would, the

King Made feast for, saying, as they sat at

meat,

'A doubtful throne is ice on summer

seas.

Ye come from Arthur's court. Victor his

men Report him! Yea, but ye-think ye this

kingSo many those that hate him, and so

strong, So few his knights, however brave they

beHath body enow to hold his foemen

down?'

"O King,' she cried, 'and I will tell

thee : few, Few, but all brave, all of one mind with

him ;

For I was near him when the savage yells Of Uther's peerage died, and Arthur sat Crown'd on the daïs, and his warriors cried, “ Be thou the king, and we will work thy

will Who love thee.” Then the King in low

deep tones, And simple words of great authority, Bound them by so strait vows to his own

self, That when they rose, knighted from

kneeling, some Were pale as at the passing of a ghost, Some flush'd, and others dazed, as one

who wakes Half-blinded at the coming of a light.

Who knows a subtler magic than his

ownClothed in white samite, mystic, wonder

ful. She gave the King his huge cross-hilted

sword, Whereby to drive the heathen out: a mist Of incense curl'd about her, and her face Wellnigh was hidden in the minster

gloom; But there was heard among the holy

hymns A voice as of the waters, for she dwells Down in a deep, calm, whatsoever storms May shake the world, and when the

surface rolls, Hath power to walk the waters like our

Lord.

* But when he spake and cheer'd his

Table Round With large divine and comfortable words Beyond my tongue to tell thee-I beheld From eye to eye thro' all their Order flash A momentary likeness of the King : And ere it left their faces, thro' the cross And those around it and the Crucified, Down from the casement over Arthur,

smote Flame-colour, vert and azure, in three

*There likewise I beheld Excalibur Before him at his crowning borne, the

sword That rose from out the bosom of the lake, And Arthur row'd across and took it-rich With jewels, elfin Urim, on the hilt, Bewildering heart and eye-the blade so

bright That men are blinded by it-on one side, Graven in the oldest tongue of all this

world, “Take me,” but turn the blade and ye

shall see, And written in the speech ye speak your•

self, “ Cast me away !” And sad was Arthur's

rays,

One falling upon each of three fair queens, Who stood in silence near his throne, the

friends Of Arthur, gazing on him, tall, with bright Sweet faces, who will help him at his

need.

face

. And there I saw mage Merlin, whose

vast wit And hundred winters are but as the hands Of loyal vassals toiling for their liege.

Taking it, but old Merlin counsell'd him, “Take thou and strike ! the time to cast

away Is yet far-off.” So this great brand the

king Took, and by this will beat his foemen

down.'

* And near him stood the Lady of the

Lake,

Thereat Leodogran rejoiced, but

thought To sift his doubtings to the last, and ask'd, Fixing full eyes of question on her face, “The swallow and the swift are near akin, But thou art closer to this noble prince, Being his own dear sister ;' and she said, • Daughter of Gorloïs and Ygerne am I;' * And therefore Arthur's sister?' ask'd

the King She answer'd, “These be secret things,'

and sign'd To those two sons to pass and let them be. And Gawain went, and breaking into song Sprang out, and follow'd by his flying hair Ran like a colt, and leapt at all he saw : But Modred laid his ear beside the doors, And there half heard ; the same that

afterward Struck for the throne, and striking found

his doom.

He found me first when yet a little maid : Beaten I had been for a little fault Whereof I was not guilty ; and out I ran And flung myself down on a bank of

heath, And hated this fair world and all therein, And wept, and wish'd that I were dead;

and he I know not whether of himself he came, Or brought by Merlin, who, they say,

can walk Unseen at pleasure-he was at my side And spake sweet words, and comforted

my heart, And dried my tears, being a child with me. And many a time he came, and evermore As I grew greater grew with me; and sad At times he seem'd, and sad with him

was I, Stern too at times, and then I loved him

not, But sweet again, and then I loved him

well. And now of late I see him less and less, But those first days had golden hours for

me, For then I surely thought he would be

king.

And then the Queen made answer,

* What know I? For dark my mother was in eyes and hair, And dark in hair and eyes am I; and dark Was Gorlois, yea and dark was Uther too, Wellnigh to blackness ; but this King is

fair Beyond the race of Britons and of men. ; Moreover, always in my mind I hear A cry from out the dawning of my life, A mother weeping, and I hear her say, “O that ye had some brother, pretty one, To guard thee on the rough ways of the

world."

* But let me tell thee now another tale : For Bleys, our Merlin's master, as they

say, Died but of late, and sent his cry to me, To hear him speak before he left his life. Shrunk like a fairy changeling lay the

mage ; And when I enter'd told me that himself And Merlin ever served about the King, Uther, before he died; and on the night. When Uther in Tintagil past away Moaning and wailing for an heir, the two Left the still King, and passing forth to

breathe,

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thee true :

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