作者：Clay, Beatrice E. (Beatrice Elizabeth)
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Stories from Le Morte D'Arthur and the Mabinogion试读：
版权信息书名：Stories from Le Morte D'Arthur and the Mabinogion作者：Clay, Beatrice E. (Beatrice Elizabeth)排版：Cicy出版时间：2017-11-28本书由当当数字商店（公版书）授权北京当当科文电子商务有限公司制作与发行。— · 版权所有 侵权必究 · —CHAPTER IOF ARTHUR'S BIRTH; AND HOW HE BECAME KING
Long years ago, there ruled over Britain a king called Uther Pendragon. A mighty prince was he, and feared by all men; yet, when he sought the love of the fair Igraine of Cornwall, she would have naught to do with him, so that, from grief and disappointment, Uther fell sick, and at last seemed like to die.
Now in those days, there lived a famous magician named Merlin, so powerful that he could change his form at will, or even make himself invisible; nor was there any place so remote but that he could reach it at once, merely by wishing himself there. One day, suddenly he stood at Uther's bedside, and said: "Sir King, I know thy grief, and am ready to help thee. Only promise to give me, at his birth, the son that shall be born to thee, and thou shalt have thy heart's desire." To this the king agreed joyfully, and Merlin kept his word: for he gave Uther the form of one whom Igraine had loved dearly, and so she took him willingly for her husband.
When the time had come that a child should be born to the King and Queen, Merlin appeared before Uther to remind him of his promise; and Uther swore it should be as he had said. Three days later, a prince was born, and, with pomp and ceremony, was christened by the name of Arthur; but immediately thereafter, the King commanded that the child should be carried to the postern-gate, there to be given to the old man who would be found waiting without.
Not long after, Uther fell sick, and he knew that his end was come; so, by Merlin's advice, he called together his knights and barons, and said to them: "My death draws near. I charge you, therefore, that ye obey my son even as ye have obeyed me; and my curse upon him if he claim not the crown when he is a man grown." Then the King turned his face to the wall and died.
Scarcely was Uther laid in his grave before disputes arose. Few of the nobles had seen Arthur or even heard of him, and not one of them would have been willing to be ruled by a child; rather, each thought himself fitted to be king, and, strengthening his own castle, made war on his neighbours until confusion alone was supreme, and the poor groaned because there was none to help them.
Now when Merlin carried away Arthur—for Merlin was the old man who had stood at the postern-gate—he had known all that would happen, and had taken the child to keep him safe from the fierce barons until he should be of age to rule wisely and well, and perform all the wonders prophesied of him. He gave the child to the care of the good knight Sir Ector to bring up with his son Kay, but revealed not to him that it was the son of Uther Pendragon that was given into his charge.
At last, when years had passed and Arthur was grown a tall youth well skilled in knightly exercises, Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and advised him that he should call together at Christmas-time all the chief men of the realm to the great cathedral in London; "For," said Merlin, "there shall be seen a great marvel by which it shall be made clear to all men who is the lawful King of this land." The Archbishop did as Merlin counselled. Under pain of a fearful curse, he bade barons and knights come to London to keep the feast, and to pray heaven to send peace to the realm.
The people hastened to obey the Archbishop's commands, and, from all sides, barons and knights came riding in to keep the birth-feast of our Lord. And when they had prayed, and were coming forth from the cathedral, they saw a strange sight. There, in the open space before the church, stood, on a great stone, an anvil thrust through with a sword; and on the stone were written these words: "Whoso can draw forth this sword, is rightful King of Britain born."
At once there were fierce quarrels, each man clamouring to be the first to try his fortune, none doubting his own success. Then the Archbishop decreed that each should make the venture in turn, from the greatest baron to the least knight; and each in turn, having put forth his utmost strength, failed to move the sword one inch, and drew back ashamed. So the Archbishop dismissed the company, and having appointed guards to watch over the stone, sent messengers through all the land to give word of great jousts to be held in London at Easter, when each knight could give proof of his skill and courage, and try whether the adventure of the sword was for him.
Among those who rode to London at Easter was the good Sir Ector, and with him his son, Sir Kay, newly made a knight, and the young Arthur. When the morning came that the jousts should begin, Sir Kay and Arthur mounted their horses and set out for the lists; but before they reached the field, Kay looked and saw that he had left his sword behind. Immediately Arthur turned back to fetch it for him, only to find the house fast shut, for all were gone to view the tournament. Sore vexed was Arthur, fearing lest his brother Kay should lose his chance of gaining glory, till, of a sudden, he bethought him of the sword in the great anvil before the cathedral. Thither he rode with all speed, and the guards having deserted their post to view the tournament, there was none to forbid him the adventure. He leaped from his horse, seized the hilt, and instantly drew forth the sword as easily as from a scabbard; then, mounting his horse and thinking no marvel of what he had done, he rode after his brother and handed him the weapon.
When Kay looked at it, he saw at once that it was the wondrous sword from the stone. In great joy he sought his father, and showing it to him, said: "Then must I be King of Britain." But Sir Ector bade him say how he came by the sword, and when Sir Kay told how Arthur had brought it to him, Sir Ector bent his knee to the boy, and said: "Sir, I perceive that ye are my King, and here I tender you my homage"; and Kay did as his father. Then the three sought the Archbishop, to whom they related all that had happened; and he, much marvelling, called the people together to the great stone, and bade Arthur thrust back the sword and draw it forth again in the presence of all, which he did with ease. But an angry murmur arose from the barons, who cried that what a boy could do, a man could do; so, at the Archbishop's word, the sword was put back, and each man, whether baron or knight, tried in his turn to draw it forth, and failed. Then, for the third time, Arthur drew forth the sword. Immediately there arose from the people a great shout: "Arthur is King! Arthur is King! We will have no King but Arthur"; and, though the great barons scowled and threatened, they fell on their knees before him while the Archbishop placed the crown upon his head, and swore to obey him faithfully as their lord and sovereign.
Thus Arthur was made King; and to all he did justice, righting wrongs and giving to all their dues. Nor was he forgetful of those that had been his friends; for Kay, whom he loved as a brother, he made Seneschal and chief of his household, and to Sir Ector, his foster-father, he gave broad lands.CHAPTER IITHE ROUND TABLE
Thus Arthur was made King, but he had to fight for his own; for eleven great kings drew together and refused to acknowledge him as their lord, and chief amongst the rebels was King Lot of Orkney who had married Arthur's sister, Bellicent.
By Merlin's advice, Arthur sent for help overseas, to Ban and Bors, the two great Kings who ruled in Gaul. With their aid, he overthrew his foes in a great battle near the river Trent; and then he passed with them into their own lands and helped them drive out their enemies. So there was ever great friendship between Arthur and the Kings Ban and Bors, and all their kindred; and afterwards some of the most famous Knights of the Round Table were of that kin.
Then King Arthur set himself to restore order throughout his kingdom. To all who would submit and amend their evil ways, he showed kindness; but those who persisted in oppression and wrong he removed, putting in their places others who would deal justly with the people. And because the land had become overrun with forest during the days of misrule, he cut roads through the thickets, that no longer wild beasts and men, fiercer than the beasts, should lurk in their gloom, to the harm of the weak and defenceless. Thus it came to pass that soon the peasant ploughed his fields in safety, and where had been wastes, men dwelt again in peace and prosperity.
Amongst the lesser kings whom Arthur helped to rebuild their towns and restore order, was King Leodegrance of Cameliard. Now Leodegrance had one fair child, his daughter Guenevere; and from the time that first he saw her, Arthur gave her all his love. So he sought counsel of Merlin, his chief adviser. Merlin heard the King sorrowfully, and he said: "Sir King, when a man's heart is set, he may not change. Yet had it been well if ye had loved another."
So the King sent his knights to Leodegrance, to ask of him his daughter; and Leodegrance consented, rejoicing to wed her to so good and knightly a King. With great pomp, the princess was conducted to Canterbury, and there the King met her, and they two were wed by the Archbishop in the great Cathedral, amid the rejoicings of the people.
On that same day did Arthur found his Order of the Round Table, the fame of which was to spread throughout Christendom and endure through all time. Now the Round Table had been made for King Uther Pendragon by Merlin, who had meant thereby to set forth plainly to all men the roundness of the earth. After Uther died, King Leodegrance had possessed it; but when Arthur was wed, he sent it to him as a gift, and great was the King's joy at receiving it. One hundred and fifty knights might take their places about it, and for them Merlin made sieges or seats. One hundred and twenty-eight did Arthur knight at that great feast; thereafter, if any sieges were empty, at the high festival of Pentecost new knights were ordained to fill them, and by magic was the name of each knight found inscribed, in letters of gold, in his proper siege. One seat only long remained unoccupied, and that was the Siege Perilous. No knight might occupy it until the coming of Sir Galahad; for, without danger to his life, none might sit there who was not free from all stain of sin.
With pomp and ceremony did each knight take upon him the vows of true knighthood: to obey the King; to show mercy to all who asked it; to defend the weak; and for no worldly gain to fight in a wrongful cause: and all the knights rejoiced together, doing honour to Arthur and to his Queen. Then they rode forth to right the wrong and help the oppressed, and by their aid, the King held his realm in peace, doing justice to all.CHAPTER IIIOF THE FINDING OF EXCALIBUR
Now when Arthur was first made King, as young knights will, he courted peril for its own sake, and often would he ride unattended by lonely forest ways, seeking the adventure that chance might send him. All unmindful was he of the ruin to his realm if mischief befell him; and even his trusty counsellors, though they grieved that he should thus imperil him, yet could not but love him the more for his hardihood.
So, on a day, he rode through the Forest Perilous where dwelt the Lady Annoure, a sorceress of great might, who used her magic powers but for the furtherance of her own desires. And as she looked from a turret window, she descried King Arthur come riding down a forest glade, and the sunbeams falling upon him made one glory of his armour and of his yellow hair. Then, as Annoure gazed upon the King, her heart grew hot within her, and she resolved that, come what might, she would have him for her own, to dwell with her always and fulfil all her behests. And so she bade lower the drawbridge and raise the portcullis, and sallying forth accompanied by her maidens, she gave King Arthur courteous salutation, and prayed him that he would rest within her castle that day, for that she had a petition to make to him; and Arthur, doubting nothing of her good faith, suffered himself to be led within.
Then was a great feast spread, and Annoure caused the King to be seated in a chair of state at her right hand, while squires and pages served him on bended knee. So when they had feasted, the King turned to the Lady Annoure and said courteously: "Lady, somewhat ye said of a request that ye would make. If there be aught in which I may pleasure you, I pray you let me know it, and I will serve you as knightly as I may." "In truth," said the lady, "there is that which I would fain entreat of you, most noble knight; yet suffer, I beseech you, that first I may show you somewhat of my castle and my estate, and then will I crave a boon of your chivalry." Then the sorceress led King Arthur from room to room of her castle, and ever each displayed greater store of beauty than the last. In some the walls were hung with rich tapestries, in others they gleamed with precious stones; and the King marvelled what might be the petition of one that was mistress of such wealth. Lastly, Annoure brought the King out upon the battlements, and as he gazed around him, he saw that, since he had entered the castle, there had sprung up about it triple walls of defence that shut out wholly the forest from view. Then turned he to Annoure, and gravely he said: "Lady, greatly I marvel in what a simple knight may pleasure one that is mistress of so wondrous a castle as ye have shown me here; yet if there be aught in which I may render you knightly service, right gladly would I hear it now, for I must forth upon my way to render service to those whose knight I am sworn." "Nay, now, King Arthur," answered the sorceress mockingly, "ye may not think to deceive me; for well I know you, and that all Britain bows to your behest." "The more reason then that I should ride forth to right wrong and succour them that, of their loyalty, render true obedience to their lord." "Ye speak as a fool," said the sorceress; "why should one that may command be at the beck and call of every hind and slave within his realm? Nay, rest thee here with me, and I will make thee ruler of a richer land than Britain, and give thee to satisfy thy every desire." "Lady," said the King sternly, "I will hear and judge of your petition at this time, and then will I forth upon my way." "Nay," said Annoure, "there needs not this harshness. I did but speak for thine advantage. Only vow thee to my service, and there is naught that thou canst desire that thou shalt not possess. Thou shalt be lord of this fair castle and of the mighty powers that obey me. Why waste thy youth in hardship and in the service of such as shall render thee little enough again?"
Thereupon, without ever a word, the King turned him about and made for the turret stair by which he had ascended, but nowhere could he find it. Then said the sorceress, mocking him: "Fair sir, how think ye to escape without my good-will? See ye not the walls that guard my stronghold? And think ye that I have not servants enow to do my bidding?" She clapped her hands and forthwith there appeared a company of squires who, at her command, seized the King and bore him away to a strong chamber where they locked him in.
And so the King abode that night, the prisoner of that evil sorceress, with little hope that day, when it dawned, should bring him better cheer. Yet lost he not courage, but kept watch and vigil the night through lest the powers of evil should assail him unawares. And with the early morning light, Annoure came to visit him. More stately she seemed than the night before, more tall and more terrible; and her dress was one blaze of flashing gems, so that scarce could the eye look upon her. As a queen might address a vassal, so greeted she the King, and as condescending to one of low estate, asked how he had fared that night. And the King made answer: "I have kept vigil as behoves a knight who, knowing him to be in the midst of danger, would bear himself meetly in any peril that should offer." And the Lady Annoure, admiring his knightly courage, desired more earnestly even than before to win him to her will, and she said: "Sir Arthur, I know well your courage and knightly fame, and greatly do I desire to keep you with me. Stay with me and I promise you that ye shall bear sway over a wider realm than any that ever ye heard of, and I, even I, its mistress, will be at your command. And what lose ye if ye accept my offer? Little enough, I ween, for never think that ye shall win the world from evil and men to loyalty and truth." Then answered the King in anger: "Full well I see that thou art in league with evil and that thou but seekest to turn me from my purpose. I defy thee, foul sorceress. Do thy worst; though thou slay me, thou shalt never sway me to thy will"; and therewith the King raised his cross-hilted sword before her. Then the lady quailed at that sight. Her heart was filled with hate, but she said: "Go your way, proud King of a petty realm. Rule well your race of miserable mortals, since more it pleasures you than to bear sway over the powers of the air. I keep you not against your will." With these words, she passed from the chamber, and the King heard her give command to her squires to set him without her gates, give him his horse, and suffer him to go on his way.
And so it came to pass that the King found himself once more at large, and marvelled to have won so lightly to liberty. Yet knew he not the depths of treachery in the heart of Annoure; for when she found she might not prevail with the King, she bethought her how, by mortal means, she might bring the King to dishonour and death. And so, by her magic art, she caused the King to follow a path that brought him to a fountain, whereby a knight had his tent, and, for love of adventure, held the way against all comers. Now this knight was Sir Pellinore, and at that time he had not his equal for strength and knightly skill, nor had any been found that might stand against him. So, as the King drew nigh, Pellinore cried: "Stay, knight, for none passes this way except he joust with me." "That is no good custom," said the King; "it were well that ye followed it no more." "It is my custom, and I will follow it still," answered Pellinore; "if ye like it not, amend it if ye may." "I will do my endeavour," said Arthur, "but, as ye see, I have no spear." "Nay, I seek not to have you at advantage," replied Pellinore, and bade his squire give Arthur a spear. Then they dressed their shields, laid their lances in rest, and rushed upon each other. Now the King was wearied by his night's vigil, and the strength of Pellinore was as the strength of three men; so, at the first encounter, Arthur was unhorsed. Then said he: "I have lost the honour on horseback, but now will I encounter thee with my sword and on foot." "I, too, will alight," said Pellinore; "small honour to me were it if I slew thee on foot, I being horsed the while." So they encountered each other on foot, and so fiercely they fought that they hewed off great pieces of each other's armour and the ground was dyed with their blood. But at the last, Arthur's sword broke off short at the hilt, and so he stood all defenceless before his foe. "I have thee now," cried Pellinore; "yield thee as recreant or I will slay thee." "That will I never," said the King, "slay me if thou canst." Then he sprang on Pellinore, caught him by the middle, and flung him to the ground, himself falling with him. And Sir Pellinore marvelled, for never before had he encountered so bold and resolute a foe; but exerting his great strength, he rolled himself over, and so brought Arthur beneath him. Then had Arthur perished, but at that moment Merlin stood beside him, and when Sir Pellinore would have struck off the King's head, stayed his blow, crying: "Pellinore, if thou slayest this knight, thou puttest the whole realm in peril; for this is none other than King Arthur himself." Then was Pellinore filled with dread, and cried: "Better make an end of him at once; for if I suffer him to live, what hope have I of his grace, that have dealt with him so sorely?" But before Pellinore could strike, Merlin caused a deep sleep to come upon him; and raising King Arthur from the ground, he staunched his wounds and recovered him of his swoon.
But when the King came to himself, he saw his foe lie, still as in death, on the ground beside him; and he was grieved, and said: "Merlin, what have ye done to this brave knight? Nay, if ye have slain him, I shall grieve my life long; for a good knight he is, bold and a fair fighter, though something wanting in knightly courtesy." "He is in better case than ye are, Sir King, who so lightly imperil your person, and thereby your kingdom's welfare; and, as ye say, Pellinore is a stout knight, and hereafter shall he serve you well. Have no fear. He shall wake again in three hours and have suffered naught by the encounter. But for you, it were well that ye came where ye might be tended for your wounds." "Nay," replied the King, smiling, "I may not return to my court thus weaponless; first will I find means to purvey me of a sword." "That is easily done," answered Merlin; "follow me, and I will bring you where ye shall get you a sword, the wonder of the world."
So, though his wounds pained him sore, the King followed Merlin by many a forest path and glade, until they came upon a mere, bosomed deep in the forest; and as he looked thereon, the King beheld an arm, clothed in white samite, shoot above the surface of the