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first mass was done, there was seen in the church

yard, against the high altar, a great stone four 65 square, like unto a marble stone; and in midst

thereof was like an anvil of steel a foot on high, and therein stuck a fair sword naked by the point, and letters there were written in gold about the sword

that said thus: “Whoso pulleth out this sword 70 of this stone and anvil, is rightwise king born of all England.”

Then the people marveled, and told it to the Archbishop.

“I command,” said the Archbishop, “that ye 75 keep you within your church and pray unto God

still, that no man touch the sword till the high mass be all done." So when all masses were done all the lords went to behold the stone and the

sword. And when they saw the scripture? some 80 assayed,? such as would have been king. But none

might stir the sword nor move it. “He is not here,” said the Archbishop, “that shall achieve the sword, but doubt not God will make him known.

But this is my counsel," said the Archbishop, “that 85 we let purvey: ten knights, men of good fame, and

they to keep this sword.” So it was ordained, and then there was made a cry, that every man should assay that would, for to win the sword. And upon New Year's Day the barons let make a justs and a

1

Scripture, writing.

2 Assayed, tried. Purvey, provide.

3

1

2

tournament, that all knights that would joust' or 90 tourney? there might play, and all this was ordained for to keep the lords together and the commons, for the Archbishop trusted that God would make him known that should win the sword.

So upon New Year's Day, when the service was 95 done, the barons rode unto the field, some to joust and some to tourney, and so it happened that Sir Ector, that had great livelihood about London, rode unto the jousts, and with him rode Sir Kay his son, and young Arthur that was his nourished 4 brother; 100 and Sir Kay was made knight at All Hallowmass afore. So as they rode to the justs-ward, Sir Kay lost 6 his sword, for he had left it at his father's lodging, and so he prayed young Arthur for to ride for his sword.

“I will well,” said Arthur, and rode fast after the sword, and when he came home, the lady and all were out to see the jousting.

Then was Arthur wroth, and said to himself, “I will ride to the churchyard, and take the sword 110

105

1 Just (joust-), a game, or tilting match of two knights on horseback. Justs, a meeting for justing.

2 Tournament, a war game in which knights are opposed to one another.

3 Livelihood, possessions, estates.

4 Nourished brother, step-brother, cared for the mother.

5 To the justs-ward, toward the jousting. In old writing to-ward is often thus separated.

Lost, missed.

ame

6

with me that sticketh in the stone, for my brother Sir Kay shall not be without a sword this day."

So when he came to the churchyard, Sir Arthur alighted and tied his horse to the stile, and so he 115 went to the tent, and found no knights there, for they were at the jousting. And so he handled the sword by the handles, and lightly and fiercely pulled it out of the stone, and took his horse, and rode his way until he came to his brother Sir Kay, and 120 delivered him the sword.

And as soon as Sir Kay saw the sword, he wist well it was the sword of the stone, and so he rode to his father Sir Ector, and said: "Sir, lo here is the sword of the stone, wherefore I must be king of 125 this land."

When Sir Ector beheld the sword, he returned again and came to the church, and there they alighted all three, and went into the church. And anon1 he made Sir Kay swear upon a book how he 130 came to that sword.

"Sir," said Sir Kay, "by my brother Arthur, for he brought it to me."

"How gat ye this sword?" said Sir Ector to Arthur.

135 "Sir, I will tell you. When I came home for my brother's sword, I found nobody at home to deliver me his sword; and so I thought my brother Sir Kay should not be swordless, and so I came hither

1 Anon, in due time, soon.

eagerly and pulled it out of the stone without

any pain."'1

140

145

“Found ye any knights about this sword ?said Sir Ector.

“Nay,” said Arthur.

“Now,” said Sir Ector to Arthur, “I understand ye must be king of this land."

“Wherefore I,” said Arthur,“and for what cause ?”

“Sir," said Ector, "for God will have it so; for there should never man have drawn out this sword, but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now let me see whether ye can put the sword 150 there as it was, and pull it out again.”

"That is no mastery,” said Arthur, and so he put it in the stone; wherewithal Sir Ector assayed to pull out the sword and failed.

IV

How KING ARTHUR PULLED OUT THE SWORD

DIVERS? TIMES “ "Now assay,

3 said Sir Ector unto Sir Kay. And 155 anon 4 he pulled at the sword with all his might; but it would not be.

“Now shall ye assay,” said Sir Ector to Arthur.

“I will well,” said Arthur, and pulled it out easily. And therewithal Sir Ector knelt down to the earth, 160 and Sir Kay. 1 Pain, difficulty. 2 Divers, several. 3 Assay, try.

4 Anon, in due time, soon,

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170

“Alas,” said Arthur,“my own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to me?”

“Nay, nay, my lord Arthur, it is not so; I was 165 never your father nor of your blood, but I wot well

ye are of an higher blood than I weenedye were.” And then Sir Ector told him all, how he was betaken? him for to nourish him, and by whose commandment, and by Merlin's deliverance.3

Then Arthur made great dole4 when he understood that Sir Ector was not his father.

“Sir," said Ector unto Arthur, “will ye be my good and gracious lord when ye are king ?”

“Else were I to blame,” said Arthur, "for ye are 175 the man in the world that I am most beholden to,

and my good lady and mother your wife, that as well as her own hath fostered me and kept. And if ever it be God's will that I be king as ye say, ye

shall desire of me what I may do, and I shall not 180 fail you; God forbid I should fail you.”

“Sir," said Sir Ector, “I will ask no more of you, but that ye will make my son, your foster brother, Sir Kay, seneschals of all your lands.”

"That shall be done,” said Arthur, "and more, 185 by the faith of my body, that never man shall have

that office but he, while he and I live."

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1 Weened, supposed.

2 Was betaken, had taken. 3 Deliverance, delivery, meaning that Merlin delivered, or gave, the baby to Sir Ector.

4 Dole, expression of sorrow. 5 Seneschal, chief marshal.

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