Chapter 12:

How Merlin came to Uter in the guise of a hermit and brought him some letters from his ladylove, and he received them happily

Merlin took the form of an old man, Uter's ladylove with him, and he went to the man who was with the king, he being in his palace that day richly arrayed and with three crowns on his head, since kings in that time were accustomed to be thus; and no one was with them, but they were alone with the king's chamberlain. Merlin said to the king, "Lord, my lady sends you greeting, and sends me to beg you to receive these letters."

The chamberlain took them and was very pleased, for he understood how it was, and had them read to Uter, and found in them words saying they should trust the messenger. And Merlin told him what he understood would bring him most pleasure, and so Merlin was with the king and his brother all that day. Uter did him much honor, and when night came, the king marveled that Merlin did not come, as he might have been with him already. And the next morning Merlin took that form in which he had spoken to Uter, and when Uter saw him, he was pleased with him, and went to tell the king that the good old man who had guarded him from death had come. And the king was pleased with him, but he was in the middle of important business. Meanwhile, Uter spoke with the good man and told him, "Lord, you saved me from death, and I marvel how my brother told me what you said to me and what I did about it. He told me that last night you were supposed to come to me and he begged me to let him know when you would do so, and I told him already, and he marveled how much you delayed."

And Uter went for the king and commanded that no one enter the room he had left. And as soon as Uter had left, Merlin took the form of him who had brought the letters, and when Uter returned and found the servant, he was frightened and said to the king, "I see marvels, for I just now left the good man I told you of here, and now I find no one but the one who gave us the letters the other day. Wait here and I will go ask the gatekeepers if they saw anyone enter or leave here."

And Uter went out and the king said, "This seems to me to be the good man, because he had me come here."

And Uter said, "Lord, this cannot be."

And the king said, "Let us go out, and if he wishes, we will find him."

Then they went out, and after a long space the king said to a knight, "Go to Uter, who is inside there."

And the knight went and found a good man in a bed laughing, and he returned to the king and told him. And when Uter heard it, he was quite amazed, and they went there and said to the king, "You will see there without fail the good man who saved you from death."

And when the king heard it, he was very pleased, and asked him, "Do you wish me to tell my brother your name?"

And the good man said, "I wish it."

The king said that he recognized Merlin. He said, "Brother, where is the young man who brought you the letters?"

And Uter said, "Now he is here. What do you want of him?"

And the king and Merlin began to laugh, and Merlin told the king privately what he knew of Uter and his ladylove, and the king said to Uter, "Brother, did you lose the young man who brought you the letters?"

And Uter marveled and said, "Why do you ask?"

And he said, "Because he brought you good news about your ladylove and you did not give him any reward."

And the king said, "I will tell you what I know of that in front of this good man."

Uter said, "It pleases me greatly," for he truly thought that no one knew save for him who had told him of it.

The king told all he knew, just as the boy had told him. When Uter heard it he marveled much about it and said, "By God, brother, tell me, if it please you, how you know these things, for what you say is a marvel."

And the king said, "I will tell you, if this good man wishes it, but I cannot say anything if he does not command me to do so."

Then Uter looked at the good man and said to him, "Lord, I beg you to tell my brother to tell me what I asked him, if it please you."

The good man told the king, "It would please me much if you said it."

Then the king said, "Brother, do you really know who this good man is? Know that this is the wisest man in the world and the man we most need, and know that he has such power as I will tell you, that he, and no old man, came to you; and this is he who told you of your private matters and of your ladylove."

And when Uter heard this, he was amazed and said, "Lord, how can I believe this?"

And the king said to him, "Believe it as you would the thing in the world you most believe."

And he said, "I cannot believe it, if I do not see him in another guise."

Then the king begged Merlin to make some demonstration to Uter, if it pleased him, so that Uter would believe him.And the good man told them to go out, and as soon as they left he left also in the form of a boy, and called Uter and told him that he wanted to leave, and asked what Uter wanted him to say to Uter's ladylove. And the king called his brother and said to him privately, "Brother, what do you think of this boy? Can you believe at all that this is he who talked with us in the room?"

And Uter said, "Lord, I am so astonished that I don't know what to say to you."

"Brother," said the king, "know that this is he who told you that Anguis wanted to kill you, and he who brought you the letters, and he who talked with you in your house, and he whom I went to Urberlanda to seek, and he has such power that he knows all things said and done and a great part of those which are to be, and for this reason I would beg you that we do all our deeds by his counsel."

And Uter answered, "That would be a great good, if it pleased him, for such a man would greatly aid us, as you say."

Both brothers then begged Merlin to stay with them, and swore to him that they would believe what he told them.

Merlin said to Uter,

"Now you may believe that I know all the things I told you about your death and your loves, that which you thought that no one knew."

And Uter said, "You told me the truth entirely, and therefore I would wish that you stay with my brother."

Merlin said, "I will stay with him willingly, but I want you to know my deed in secret. Know that I must at times, by force of nature, walk in the air above the peoples, but in all the places I go, I will rule myself by your deeds, more than any other's. When I realize that you need my counsel, I will come to counsel you. So I beg you, if you wish to keep me, not to be heavy of heart when I go, and to receive me well before your people whenever I come to you. The good men will therefore love me, and the evil ones, who do not love you, will not love me. If you give me a good reception, they will not dare to test it. Know that I will not change my form for a long time, save in private for you, and I will go about in this form, and afterwards I will make shift to return in the form in which the people know me, and when I come to your house and they recognize me, go and say, 'The good diviner is here.' And pretend that you are very happy because of it, and if they tell you to consult me, consult me boldly and I will give you an answer for everything."

So Merlin stayed that night with Padragon and Uter and got to know them. In the morning he left them for a while to go to their lodging, and he left in the guise of a young man. When he was outside the city, he changed to that form which the people knew and returned to the house of the king, and when those who were once Verenguer's privy counselors saw him and recognized him, they were very happy and went to the king and said to him, "Lord, we have Merlin in the house."

The king pretended that it pleased him greatly and went to him, and those who went with Merlin said to him, "See here the king, who comes to receive you."

And great was the pleasure of Merlin to be with the king, and the king to be with him, and he took him to his palace, and those who were with the king said to him, "Lord, ask him how to take the castle and to tell you what end the war between you and the Saxons may have, for he will tell you, if he wishes."

When the king heard this he told them he would ask, but he let it be because he wanted to do Merlin honor by way of a good reception. When it was the dinner hour, the king had all his counselors called so he could ask Merlin before them what they had counseled him to ask, and he asked Merlin, saying to him, "Friend, I beg you for love of me to explain all the things which I shall tell you and ask of you; for it is well known by all who know you that you can elaborate upon them very well, since to you they are not hidden, and you will do me a service: How may I take this castle and the Saxons who are in this land, if I can force them to leave?"

And Merlin said, "Know that after they lost Anguis, they have no other wish than to leave this land, and send to talk to them and they will send to say that they will give you ten armed knights, ten damsels, one hundred falcons, one hundred greyhounds, one hundred horses and one hundred palfreys in tribute every year."

And the king sent his counselor and two other knights to say it, and Merlin told them to ask for a truce on the part of the king. And the knights went to the castle and asked for a truce for two months, and those of the castle said that they would take counsel, and then the highest ranking men of the castle assembled, and one rose from among them and said, "Lords, you already know how we received a great loss by the death of Anguis and we have nothing more to eat. Let us grant the king a truce and send to him to ask him to raise his siege from us and that we will return the castle and give him for vassalage ten armed knights, ten damsels, one hundred falcons, one hundred greyhounds, one hundred horses, and one hundred palfreys."

And they agreed to this and told the messengers. And they returned and told the king and Merlin and the rich men, and all were therefore amazed at the great knowledge of Merlin. And when the king heard it, he asked Merlin what to do, and Merlin said, "Do not go there to him by my counsel, for much evil would come to the land afterwards ; but now send to say that they must leave the castle without more invitation, for you know that they have nothing to eat and otherwise you will make them die an evil death, and if they wish to leave there you will let them go safely and give them a means to leave."

And when they heard this they had never felt such great pleasure nor did they ask any other terms, and the king did just as Merlin had told him.

The next morning the king sent his messengers with this message to the castle, and when they heard they might leave safely, and saw themselves without a lord to counsel or save them, they left the castle to the king, and the king had them guided to the port, and gave them ships in which they left. And thus Merlin knew of the deed of the Saxons, and Padragon there did what Merlin told him, and the Saxons were thrown out of the land by the counsel of Merlin, save for those who wished to stay as captives of the king to give him his vassalage. And thus Merlin remained lord of the counsel and secrets of the king, and he lived with him a long time until he spoke to the king of a great deed, and therefore upset one of his noblemen, so much so that one day that nobleman came to the king and said to him, "Lord, I marvel why you believe this man who has no intelligence save the devil's, and what he tells you, he tells you through the devil, and I will make you understand that if you wish."

And the king said, "I wish it, but not in such wise that you anger him."

And he said, "I will not anger him, nor will I make him heavyhearted."

And the king granted it all, and the nobleman was happy; and that nobleman, to the seeming of the world, was a man good and intelligent and rich in a great way, and very vigorous and powerful, and well connected. One day that nobleman came to Merlin, as if happy, and asked his counsel before the king in secret, so that no more than five men were there, and he said to the king, "Lord, you see here Merlin, who is one of the wisest men of the world and gives the best counsel, and I heard him say that Verenguer would die by fire, and so it was; and because of this I beg you and those who are here, lord, to plead for me because I am ill, and ask him to tell what death I shall die, if he chooses; for if it pleases him, he can well tell me."

And all begged it of Merlin, and Merlin said that he understood what that man said to him, and why it was said, and the envy and evil heart he had. And he said, "You beg me to tell you your death. I tell you that you will fall from a horse or break your neck, and so you will die that day."

When the nobleman heard this, he said: "God guard me." Then he took the king aside and said, "Lord, now remember what he said, and I will go and then return to test him another way."

So he went for his land and changed to other garments and returned to the king, and pretended to be ill and sent for the king in great secrecy, and asked that he bring Merlin with him, in such guise that no one knew who the sick man was. The king said that he would go willingly and that Merlin would not know anything of his deed through him. And he said to Merlin, "Let us go, you and I, to see a sick man."

Merlin said, "I will not go, unless twenty good men go with you."

And they took those that he wished and went to see the sick man. And as soon as they got there, his wife threw herself at the feet of the king by her husband's counsel, and said to him, "Lord, have your diviner say whether my lord will recover from this illness."

And the king said to Merlin, "Can you know anything about what this woman says?"

Merlin said, "He will not die of this illness nor in this bed."

He said, "Then what death shall I die?"

And Merlin said, "The day you die, they will find you hanged."

And after he said this, Merlin left, as one angered, and left the king in the house. He did this so that the nobleman would speak with the king. And when Merlin left, the nobleman said to the king, "Lord, you see how he lies; he gave me two deaths, one unlike the other. And I want to test him a third time before you. I will go to an abbey and pretend to be ill, and the abbot and I will send to you begging you to say that you will come to see one of his monks who is ill; and go there and take Merlin with you."

The king said he would do it.