Andrew Lang.

Tales of the Round table; based on the tales in the Book of romance online

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(See p. 745. >

LANCELOT BEARS OFF GUENEVERE



TALES OF
THE ROUND TABLE



BASED ON THE TALES IN THE
BOOK OF EOMANCE EDITED BY

ANDREW ^^ANQ



WITH 4 COLOURED PLATES AND 21 OTHER ILLUSTRATIONS

By H. J. FORD



^^ OF THF

OF

ifEW IMPRESSION



LONGMANS, GEEEN, AND CO.

39 PATERNOSTER ROW, LONDON

NEW YORK, BOMBAY, AND CALCUTTA

1908






CONTENTS.



(^



PAGE



The Drawing of the Sword . . . • .


• % 1


The Story of Sir Balin . . . . » i


» . * 8


The Questing Beast


. . 17


How Morgan le Fay Tried to Kill King Arthur ,


. . 26


How the Round Table Began . . . .


. 33


The Death of Merlin


. . 37


What Beaumains Asked of the King . . «


. . , 38


The Quest of the Holy Graal . . . .


. 69


The Fight for the Queen ....


. 101


The Fair Maid of Astolat


, . . 109


Lancelot and Guenevere . , - •


. 129


The End of It All ,


. . . 151



co,A9S2



ILLUSTEATIONS.



COLOUEED PLATES.

Lancelot Bears off Guenevere (p. 145) .

Lancelot at the Chapel

Guenevere and Sir Bors ....
Lancelot Brings Guenevere to Arthur



Frontispiece
Face vaoe IQ

112



ILLUSTEATIONS IN THE TEXT



How Arthur Drew the Sword .....

The Damsel Warns Sir Balin

The Death of Balin and Balan .....

Arthur and the Questing Beast

Morgan le Fay Casts away the Scabbard .

Merlin and Vivien

Gareth and Linet—" Faugh, Sir! You Smell of the

Kitchen"

Linet and the Black Knight

The Lady of Lyonesse Sees Sir Gareth

Sir Galahad Opens the Tomb

Sir Percivale Slays the Serpent

How Sir Bors was Saved from Killing his Brother .

Sir Mador Accuses Guenevere

Arthur and Guenevere Kiss before all the People
Elaine Ties her Sleeve round Sir Lancelot's Helmet

The Blflck Barget

Guenevere Sends her Page to Lancelot for Help

The Archers Threaten Lancelot

Lancelot Comes out of Guenevere's Koom .

Sir Mordred — The Last Battle

Excalibur Returns to the Mere ,..*-.



Page



5

13
15
21
29
39

48

62

61

79

87

91

103

108

114

127

132

134

141

156

169



^.c^^^



THE DRAWING OF THE SWOED

Part I

Long, long ago, after Uther Pendragon died,
there was no King in Britain, and every Knight
hoped to seize the crown for himself. The
country was likely to fare ill when laws were
broken on every side, when the corn which was
to give the poor bread was trodden underfoot,
and there was no one to bring the evildoer to
justice.

When things were at their worst forth came
Merlin the magician, and fast rode he to the
place where the Archbishop of Canterbury
dwelt. They took counsel together, and agreed
that all the lords and gentlemen of Britain should
ride to London on Christmas Day, and meet in
the Great Church. So this was done.

On Christmas morning, as they left the
church, they saw in the churchyard a large stone,
and on it a bar of steel, and in the steel a naked



2 THE DBAWING OF THE SWOBD,

sword, and about it was written in letters of
gold, '' Whoso pulleth out this sword is by right
of birth King of England ".

They marvelled at these words, and called for
the Archbishop, and brought him to the place
where the stone stood. Then those Knights who
fain would be King tugged at the sword with
all their might ; but it did not stir.

The Archbishop watched them in silence, and
when they were faint from pulling he said : '^ The
man who shall lift out that sword is not here,
nor do I know where to find him. This is my
counsel, therefore, that two Knights be chosen,
good and true men, to keep guard over the sword,'
until some one comes who can draw it forth."

This was done. But the lords and gentlemen-
at-arms cried out that every man had a right to
try to win the sword, and they decided that on
New Year's Day a tournament should be held,
and that any Knight who wished might enter
the lists.

So on New Year's Day the Knights, accord-
ing to custom, went to hear service in the Great
Church, and when this was over they met in the
field to make ready for the tourney. Among
them was a brave Knight called Sir Ector, who



THE DB AWING OF THE SWOBD. 3

brought with him Sir Kay, his son, and Arthur,
Kay's foster-brother.

Now Kay had unbuckled his sword the
evening before, and in his haste to be at the
tourney had forgotten to put it on again, and he
begged Arthur to ride back and fetch it for him.
So Arthur set out, and when he reached the
house, found that the door was locked, for the
women had gone out to see the tourney, and
though he tried his best to get in he could not.

He rode away greatly vexed, and said to
himself, " Kay shall not be without a sword this
day, I will take that sword in the churchyard,
and give it to him". He galloped fast till he
reached the gate of the churchyard. Here he
jumped down, tied his horse to a tree, and run-
ning up to the stone, seized the handle of the
sword, and drew it out; he then mounted his
horse again, and delivered the sword to Sir
Kay.

The moment Sir Kay saw the sword he knew
it was not his own, but the sword of the stone,
and he sought out his father. Sir Ector, and said
to him, ^' Sir, this is the sword of the stone, there-
fore I am the rightful King ". Sir Ector made
no answer, but signed to Kay and Arthur to



4 THE DB AWING OF THE SWOBD.

follow him, and they all three went back to the
church.



THE DEAWING OF THE SWOED

Part II

Leaving their horses outside, the two Knights
and Arthur entered the church, and walked
into the choir. There, upon a holy book. Sir
Ector bade Sir Kay swear how he came by the
sword.

" My brother Arthur gave it to me," said Sir
Kay.

" How did you come by it ? " asked Sir Ector,
turning to Arthur.

Arthur described the manner in which he
had drawn it from the stone.

"Were any Knights present when you did
this?" asked Sir Ector.

" None," replied Arthur.

" By drawing that sword," said Sir Kay, '' you
have proved yourself to be the rightful King
of this land, for, the sword being enchanted,
no other man could have drawn it. Put the
sword back again into the stone, and we will
see you draw it forth."



6 TEE DB AWING OF THE 8W0BD.

Arthur pulled it out as, easily as if it had
been in its sheath.

''Arthur/' said Sir Ector, "you are not my
son, although I have brought you up as if you
were. You were brought to me when a baby
by Merlin himself, who promised that when the
time came I should know from whom you sprang.
You must be the son of Uther Pendragon, for
no one else could have drawn the sword."

Arthur was grieved to hear that Sir Ector
was not his father. ''If I am King," he said,
"ask what you will and it shall be given you.
I owe more to you and my lady than to any one
in the world, for you have loved me and treated
me as a son."

"Sir," replied Sir Ector, "I ask only that
you should make your foster-brother. Sir Kay,
Seneschal of all your lands."

"That I will do," answered Arthur, "and
while he and I live, no other shall fill that office."

Sir Ector then bade them come with him
and seek the Archbishop to tell him what had
happened.

Arthur had left the sword standing in the
stone, and on Twelfth-day it was arranged that
the Knights and Barons should again try to draw



THE DBAWING OF THE SWOBD. 7

the sword. None could draw it, and when
the Barons saw Arthur do what no one else
could do, they vowed that they would never
allow him to be King, a boy whose blood was
no better than their own.

It was agreed to repeat the test at Candle-
mas, when more Knights would be present, and
meanwhile the sword was to be carefully
guarded.

At Candlemas the same thing happened, and
at Easter also. When Pentecost came, the
common people were present, and saw Arthur
draw the sword. They cried with one voice
that he should be their King, and no other
Knight having been able to pass the test, they
all had to acknowledge Arthur as their King.

Rich and poor fell upon their knees before
him, and Arthur took the sword, and before the
Archbishop, offered it upon the altar, and the
best man there knighted him. The crown was
then placed upon his head, and he swore to be
a true King, and to do justice all the days of
his life.



8 THE STOEY OF SIB BALIN,

THE STOEY OF SIE BALIN ^"

Part I

In those days many Kings reigned in England,
and they were constantly waging war upon one
another. Arthur, hearing that his country was
being ravaged by Eyons, King of North Wales,
called all his Knights and gentlemen-at-arms to
Camelot, there to hold a council.

When they had assembled, and the town was
filled with armed men and horses, a damsel rode
into Camelot with a message from the Lady Lile
of Avelion.

She asked to be led before King Arthur, and
when in his presence, she allowed her fur cloak
to slip from her shoulders, thus displaying a
richly wrought sword buckled at her side.

"Why do you wear this sword, damsel?"
asked King Arthur, "it is not an ornament for
a woman."

" I would that I could find a Knight to rid
me of the burden," she replied, " for its weight is
intolerable to me. The man who can deliver me
from it must be mighty of deeds and pure of
heart, for no other can draw the sword from its



THE STOBY OF SIB BALIN, 9

sheath. The Knights of King Eyons' Court have
each tried and failed."

**Let me try," said Arthur, "not that I
pretend to be the best Knight, but it is meet
that I should try first." The King took the
sword by the hilt and pulled with all his
strength, but the sword held fast.

" Sir," said the damsel, " there is no need to
pull so hard to draw the sword, which, if it is
to be drawn at all, will come with little trouble."

"I cannot draw it," said Arthur, "and now
it is for my Knights to try."

"Alas! alas!" cried the damsel, when each
Knight had tried without success, " if there are
no Knights in this Court both true of heart and
blameless, then I know not where to go."

Now at this time there chanced to be at
Arthur's Court a poor Knight, who had been
kept a prisoner for a year and a half because
he had slain the King's cousin.

He was of high birth, and his name was Sir
Balin. Having but recently been set free, Balin
stood apart and watched the others try to draw
the maiden's sword. His heart beat fast when
his turn came to try, and he shrank from per-
forming the duty because he was meanly dressed.



10 THE STOBY OF SIR BALIN.

The damsel had bidden the King and his Court
farewell, and was setting out on her homeward
journey, when Balin called to her, and begged
that in spite of the meanness of his dress she
would allow him the privilege of trying to draw
the sword.

"Sir," replied the damsel, ''fine clothes do
not make fine deeds, therefore try I pray you."
The Knights, who had walked up while Balin
had been speaking to the damsel, then saw the
sword glide from its sheath by the damsel's side
and held in Balin' s hand.

" In truth," said the damsel, '' this is the best
Knight that I have ever found ; but, Sir, I pray
you, give me the sword."

" No," said Balin, " I pray you let me keep
it."

" It is for your own sake that I ask for it,"
replied the damsel, " for if you keep that sword
you will with it kill the man you love best, and
it will bring about your own ruin."

"I will take what befalls me," said Balin,
'' but I pray you let me keep the sword."

The damsel left in great sorrow, and the next
day Sir Balin armed with his new sword rode
away in search of adventures.



TEE STOBY OF SIB BALIN. 11

He was the victor of every fight he entered
in, and won such renown that he became known
as Sir Balin le Savage, the Knight of the two
swords.

THE STOEY OF SIR BALIN

Part II

One day he was riding forth when at the turn-
ing of a road he saw a cross, upon which was
written in letters of gold, " Let no Knight ride
towards this castle ".

Sir Balin was still reading the writing when
there came towards him an old man with white
hair, who said, " Sir Balin le Savage, this is not
the way for you, so turn again and choose some
other path ". The old man vanished, and a horn
blew loudly, as a horn is blown at the death of
a beast. ^^That blast," said Balin, "is for me,
but I am still alive," and he rode to the castle,
and was met and welcomed by a number of
Knights and ladies.

"When they had feasted, the lady of the
castle said to him, ''Knight with the two
swords, it is our wish that you fight the Knight
who guards yonder island. According to our



12 THE STOBY OF SIB BALIN.

law, we can permit no man to leave this castle
until he has fought before us."

" That is a bad custom," replied Balin, " and
my horse is weary, still I should be unwilling
to depart without gratifying your wish."

"Sir," said a Knight to him, "your shield
does not look strong ; I will lend you another."

Sir Balin took the proffered shield, and led
his horse to the shore, whence they were ferried
across to the island.

The boat had no sooner grounded upon the
farther shore, than a maiden came running
towards him and cried, "O Knight Balin, why
have you left your own shield behind? How
can you be known if you carry another's shield ? "

"I truly regret having left my own shield
behind," said Balin, " and I regret having come
to this country at all, but for very shame I must
go on."

He then examined his shield and armour,
and mounted his horse.

After riding a short distance towards a
castle that stood upon the island, he perceived
a Knight, clothed in red, and riding a horse
with red trappings, coming towards him.

The Red Knight looked at Balin, and noticed



U THE STOBY OF SIB BALIN.

that lie carried two swords. " There is only one
Knight that carries two swords," thought he,
"yet it cannot be Balin for that is not his
shield."

They rode at each other with their spears
in rest, and were so evenly matched that they
bore one another to the ground, where they lay
unconscious for some minutes. As soon as they
had recovered their senses, each Knight rose,
and such a fight began that all beholders were
filled with dread lest either of the gallant
Knights should be killed, so valiantly did they
fight.

At last the place was red with their blood,
seven great rents in the armour of each dis-
playing the wounds beneath.

" What Knight are you ? " asked Sir Balin
le Savage, leaning upon his sword.

"My name," said the other, "is Balan, and
I am a brother of the good Knight Balin."

'* O unhappy day ! " cried Balin, and he fell
fainting to the ground. Balan pulled off his
brother's helmet so that the fresh air might
revive him.

" Woe is me ! " said Balin, opening his eyes.
" All this has been wrought by the Knight who




I tLtie latattt op TS^ttti ana la^l^i^



16 THE STOBY OF SIB BALIN.

gave me his shield in exchange for my own.
If I could live I would destroy that unhappy
castle, and the Knight whose treachery has
brought me to this."

"Alas! brother," said Balan, "had you
killed me it would only have been to make
yourself a captive, for I have been forced to
guard this castle ever since I slew the Knight
who kept it before me."

The lady of the castle and her companions
then came forward and made great moan over
the dying Knights. Balan begged her to bury
them side by side where they lay, and this she
promised to do, weeping with her ladies as she
gave the promise.

The Knights died, and the lady placed a
tomb over their grave, and upon it she wrote
Balan's name only, for she did not know the
name of the other Knight.

But Merlin knew, and the next morning he
wrote Balin's name upon the tomb also. Then
he imscrewed the pommel of Balin's sword, and
screwing another pommel on it, bade the Knight
who was with him handle it. The Knight could
not, and Merlin said, " No man but the best man
in the world shall handle that sword, and he will




LANCQ-OT AT THE CHAPEL ^



IV.



[See p. 83.)



OF THE

UfSHVERSITY

r.F



TEE QUESTING BEAST. 17

be either Sir Lancelot or his son Sir Galahad.
With that sword also Sir Lancelot will slay
the man he loves best, and his name is Sir
Gawaine."

He wrote these words on the pommel of
the sword.

He then made a bridge of steel to the island,
six inches in breadth, over which no man who
was guilty of any evil deed could pass.

The scabbard of the sword he left on that
side of the island, so that Sir Galahad should
find it. The sword itself he put in a magic
stone which floated down the stream to Camelot.
And the same day Galahad found the scabbard,
and riding to Camelot he spied the stone and
drew the sword from it.



THE QUESTING BEAST

Part I

King Arthur fought and won many a battle

before he was acknowledged by the other Kings

of the country to be lord of them all.

Many times the course he pursued was that

directed by Merlin the magician, without whose
IV. 2



18 THE QUESTING BEAST,

advice King Arthur would not have succeeded
in his object. By means of his svs^ord Excalibur
he won a fame for invincibility, although, in
obedience to Merlin's orders, he never drew it
until things were going ill with him.

It was this sword Excalibur which had been
given to him by the Lady of the Lake. Eiding
with Merlin one night, Arthur came to a lake,
and from the middle he beheld an arm upraised,
holding aloft a sword.

" Look ! " said Merlin, " that is the sword of
which I told you."

The King looked again ; across the surface of
the water he saw a maiden moving towards him.
" Maiden," said he, " I pray you tell me whose
sword that is out in the lake yonder."

'' That sword is mine," the maiden answered,
^'and I will give it to you if in return you will
make me a gift when I ask it of you."

" By my faith," said the King, " I will give
you whatever you ask."

King Arthur and Merlin rowed to the sword
in a barge that floated by the shore, and when it
was taken by the handle the arm disappeared,
and they rowed back to the land bearing the
sword and the scabbard that belonged to it.



THE QUESTING BEAST. 19

The virtue of this sword lay in its brightness.
When wielded in combat it dazzled the eyes of
the foe, and the scabbard, when buckled about
the King, rendered him unassailable, for its magic
power prevented him from losing blood however
sorely he might be wounded.

Attracted by the successes that attended him
in whatsoever he attempted, many Knights flocked
to King Arthur's standard. Among them was
Sir Ban, King of Gaul, who remained ever his
steadfast friend.

It was in one of the wars in which at that
time King Arthur was continually engaged, in
company with King Ban and Sir Bors, that he
met Guenevere, the daughter of the King of
Cameliard, the lady whom he afterwards
married.

Having parted with King Ban and Sir
Bors, who departed for a while to their own
countries, the King went to Carlion, a town
on the river Usk, where he dreamed a strange
dream.

Throughout the night he wandered over his
country, which was overrun with gryphons and
serpents slaying and eating his people. He
attacked the monsters, and, after many fearful



20 TEB QUESTING BEAST.

contests, killed the last, although sorely wounded
himself.

He woke from his dream with the memory
of the ugly creatures in his mind, and to shake
it off he summoned his Knights to hunt with
him, and they rode fast for the forest. The
King spied a hart crossing his path, and giving
chase, he soon lost his companions. The chase
was a long one ; the hart still went as fast as
ever, and at last the King's horse fell dead
beneath him.

He sat under a tree and rested, and presently
he heard the baying of hounds sounding in the
woods. The noise was so great that he fancied
it must be a full pack, though what pack
hunted that neighbourhood he did not know.
He raised his head to look for the leading
hound, and crawling towards him he saw- a
strange beast, making by itself the noise of a
pack of hounds.




/f KT>tVX-/W D 'TTOl'QVESTING-BE.K^f'

• ■ .-....■ - . - ^ . ^ , - ■■



j>'



22 THE QUESTING BEAST,

THE QUESTING BEAST

Part II

The beast crawled to the edge of the well close
to the King's side, and having drunk its fill it
went on its way.

While the King was conjecturing as to the
manner of creature it could be, a Knight rode up,
and seeing the King beneath the tree, addressed
him as follows : *' Knight of meditations, I pray
you rouse from your sleepiness to tell me if in
your wakeful moments, you have seen a strange
beast pass this way ".

" Yes, indeed," answered Arthur, " and by
now it must be two miles distant. What do you
want with it ? "

"Sir, I have followed the beast from afar,"
replied he, " and have ridden my horse to death.
If I could find another I would pursue the
creature and overtake it, for I have never been
so near to it before, during the twelve months
of my search."

At this moment the King's Squire led a fresh
horse up for his master, and the strange Knight
begged the King to let him have it.




or
'HE QUESTING BEAST. 23

'' Sir Knight," said the King, " let me follow
the quest for you ; the adventure pleases me."

*' Ah fool 1 " replied the Knight, whose name
was Sir Pellinore, " it would be in vain, for none
can slay the beast except me or my next of kin;"
and without more words he sprang into the
saddle and rode a little way off. "You may
take my horse by trickery ; " cried the King,
" but I should like to prove to you that I am the
better Knight."

" When you want me," answered the Knight,
" come to this spring ; here you will always find
me," and spurring his horse he galloped away.
The King watched him out of sight, and then
bade his Squire bring him another horse as
quickly as he could.

The Squire would have some way to go, and
the King sat himself down again beneath the
tree to await his return. The silence of the
woods around, and the babbling of a brook that
made its way down the hillside near by, soothed
the King into his former drowsiness, and from
meditation he fell into sleep. From the shadows
of the woods a boy stole out, walked to the
sleeping King, and having carefully taken stock
of him, returned to the woods.



24 TEE QUESTING BEAST.

Presently he walked to the King again, and
the King woke from his sleep.

"You have been very thoughtful," said the
boy, ^^and for some reason. It was truly a
wonderful beast that passed you a few hours
ago. It was unfortunate, too, that Sir Pellinore
should have taken your horse by trickery, for he
would not have won it in fair fight. It is folly,
however, to let the mind dwell on matters of
small moment, however irritating they may
be."

The King was amazed at the temerity dis-
played by the youth in addressing him in tliis
way, and at the knowledge of his own thoughts
and actions possessed by him.

'*I know all your thoughts," continued the
boy, '^and that Uther Pendragon was your
father, and your mother was the Lady Igraine."

" How can you have this knowledge, boy ? "
said Arthur angrily, but the boy answered, "I
know your history better than any man living,
and I know how you will die, and can detail
the manner of death that awaits you." The boy
at this point walked away again.

Presently an old man came to the well and
sat down to rest.



THE QUESTING BEAST, 25

" What makes you so sad ? " said he to the
King.

'' I may well be sad," replied Arthur, " there
is plenty to make me so. The responsibilities
of a crown are heavier than many imagine. A
boy just now told me things which he had no
business to know, the names of my father and
mother being one of them."

" He told you the truth," said the old man,
" and he could have told you many things more
had he been minded to do so. He could have
told you that your sister would have a child,
Mordred by name, who would some day destroy
you and all your Knights."

" Who are you ? " asked Arthur, in a wonder-
ing voice.

" I am Merlin, and it was I who came to you
in the likeness of a boy. I know all things ;
how you will die a noble death, receiving your
death wound surrounded by your fallen Knights.
My end, on the other hand, will be shameful,
for I shall be buried alive."

There was no time then to say more, for the
Squire returned leading a horse, and the King
mounted and rode fast to Carlion.



26 HOW LE FAY TRIED TO KILL KING ABTHUB,

HOW MOEGAN LE FAY TEIED TO
KILL KING AETHUR

Part I

King Arthur's sister, Morgan le Fay, was skilled
in magic of all kinds. She bore her brother a
grudge because he had slain in battle the Knight
she loved, and she determined to have revenge


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