Chapter 13:

How the king and Merlin went to an abbey to see a nobleman who pretended to be sick

So the king left him and the nobleman went to the abbey, and related to the abbot that he and the king had made an agreement which greatly pleased him, and that the king had sent him to say that he would soon come, and for the abbot to give the nobleman a bed to lie in because he would thus fulfill his service to the king. And the abbot sent later to call the king, and the king went there later with Merlin, and after the king heard mass the abbot passed through the colostrum with him and begged him to go and see a friar who lay sick. And the king asked Merlin whether he wanted to go there, and Merlin said, "Yes, willingly, but I want to speak with you and your brother Uter first."

Then he took them apart before the altar and said to both, "The more I speak with you, the more incredulous I find you. And do you think I do not know what death that fool who tests me will die? Yes, I know that I will soon tell you things at which you will marvel more than you did at what I told you the other two times."

And the king said, "Could it be that he will die thus, though it seem impossible?"

And Merlin said, "If that is not the truth, never believe a thing I tell you, for I know his death and yours. And know that I will see your brother Uter king before long."

And so they talked as they went to the place where the sick man lay. And the abbot said to the king, "Lord, for God's sake, have your diviner asked whether this sick man can recover."

And Merlin put on an air of anger and said, "He can rise when he pleases, for he suffers from nothing; he is lying and trying to test me, for I told him he had to die in those two guises, and soon I will tell him the third which is even stranger, that the day he dies he will break his neck and be hanged and die in water; and whoever sees his death will see all these things come to him. And he may securely test me, for I tell him the truth, and I know his heart well."

And the nobleman rose up from the bed and said to the king, "Lord, now you may see his madness; he does not know what he is saying. And how could this or anything else so unreasonable be true of me? And now decide whether you are wise for believing such a man."

And the king said, "I will believe nothing until I see your death."

Then the nobleman was very angry when he saw that Merlin was not cast out from the privy counsels of the king. Then each one began to consider whether what Merlin said could be true. And a long time after this it happened that this nobleman rode with two of his men, and it was said that they passed over a wooden bridge which was over a river, and the horse stumbled and went to its knees, and the nobleman fell off the horse and hit his head so that he broke his neck, and he fell from the horse in such guise that he was caught by his clothes on the bridge, so that he was hung by the legs, and his head and his shoulders were underwater, and so the nobleman died. And two good men who went with him, when they saw him thus fall, shouted aloud, and some of the people of the village came to the bridge, and the others came in boats, and when they took him out the good men said, "See if he has a broken neck."

And those who examined him said that he did, and the good men were amazed and said, "Merlin told the truth, when he said that this man would break his neck, and be hanged, and die in water, and he who would not believe what Merlin said would be a fool, since everything he says is true."

And they did what they should with the body. When Merlin found this out he told Uter, whom he loved, of the death of the nobleman just as it had been, and told him to tell the king. And the king marveled when he heard this and said to Uter, "Did Merlin tell you this?"

And Uter said that he had. And the king said, "Ask him when it was."

And Uter asked Merlin and Merlin said, "This night, and six days from now those who bring the news will be here and I wish to leave, for I do not want to be here when they come, for the men will ask me many things to which I will not respond, and I tell you that I will never say anything before the townsfolk, unless it be so obscurely that the men will not know what I am saying, save when they see it."

Thus Merlin left Uter, and Uter told it all to the king, and the king thought that Merlin had become angry and it grieved him much, and he asked Uter where Merlin had gone.

"Lord," said Uter, "I know no more."

So that remained, and Merlin went to Blaise in Urberlanda to recount all these things to him so that he could put them in his book, and so he was there for six days, when the messengers came and told the king the marvel of how the knight had died; and those who heard it said that there was no one in the world so wise as Merlin, for never had they heard him tell of things which were to come save that they had been true; and so the book of Merlin's prophecies was begun, from what he said of the kings of England, and of all the things which will be told after; but in this book nothing is said but what he said openly, save a little which he said to Uter.

In that time Merlin was a great favorite of Padragon and Uter, and both said to Merlin that they would put what he said in writing, and he told that to Blaise, and Blaise said, "Will they have such a book as mine made?"

"No," said Merlin, "for they will put nothing in writing save what they understand, and until it occurs they will not write about it."

Then Merlin returned to the court, and when he arrived they told him all the news, as if he had not known it already. Then Merlin began to say the obscure words which are contained in the great book of his prophecies, which no man could know until he saw them happen, and afterwards Merlin said humbly that he loved them greatly, and wanted all good and all honor for them. When they heard him humble himself so, they marveled greatly, and said that he should say what he liked, and Merlin said, "I will not hide anything I ought to tell you. Remember that when you threw the Saxons out of the land, as soon as they arrived home, they recounted the death of Anguis to his relatives; and Anguis was related to many high men, and they agreed to come avenge his death and to conquer this land. You should ready yourselves for this."

When they heard this they were quite amazed and said, "Where could they find such a great host to harry the land?"

He said, "You are in error, since for every good man of arms you have, they have two, and if you do not act prudently, they will destroy your land."

And they asked when they would come and he said, "The fifteenth day of June, and no one in your kingdom will know save you, and I tell you to send for all your noblemen and have them given gifts from your holdings, and do them much honor, and show them as much love as you can, and they will be with you the last week of June, on the field of Salibres, and you must assemble all your power there."

And the king said, "How can we leave them to bring so many against us?"

And Merlin said, "If you believe in me, move away good and far from the shore of the sea, so that they do not know that you are aware of them or that your people are assembled; and after your men are far away, send some of your people against the ships and they will pretend that they wish to defend the port, so that the Saxons do not put in there. When they see this, they will be very frightened, and one of you will go against them and the other will stay; and you should stop so near them that you make them camp on the flatland over the shore of the sea, and after they pass, there will be a great lack of good water, so that the hardiest will be very worried; and hold them thus for two days, and fight them the third day, and if you do so, I tell you truly that your people will win."

And they said, "By the faith which you owe to God, Merlin, tell us if we will die in this battle."

Merlin said, "There is nothing which has a beginning which does not have an end, nor should any man be frightened of death, if he receives it as he should, knowing that he must die and that no riches can guard him from it."

And Padragon said to him, "You told me once that you knew my death, and what awaits me in battle, and therefore I tell you to tell me of my death."

Merlin said to him, "I want you to have me brought the best relics you have, and that you both swear to me that you will do with your bodies and your possessions what I shall command you to your benefit. Then I will tell you what I see is good for you and what you need to do."

And they did just as Merlin said. They asked him why he made them swear. Merlin responded, "You asked me about your death, and what would come of this battle. I will tell you so much that you must not ask me more. Be good and loyal to God and yourselves in this battle, both of you, and I will teach you how to act. First confess yourselves very fully, for you should do that now more than other times, because you must fight with your enemies, and if you do this as I tell you, you will win, for they do not believe in the Trinity and you do, and even more, the battle is on your territory, and all those who die there will be with Jesus Christ. And I want you to know that since Christianity was begun in this land, there was never such a battle, and as it has been told us, be certain that one of you must die; and he who remains after the battle should command that a church be built, the most beautiful possible, and I will help so much that what I will do will endure as long as Christianity endures. Now resolve to be good and to do good with your bodies and your hearts, just as I tell you, because you will come before your Lord honorably, and I do not wish to say which one of you will die, because you are both good and greatly needed; and resolve to be of good and joyful heart and to do your deeds well and thus you will have the love of Jesus Christ."

Thus taught by Merlin, the brothers understood that he counseled them well, and they did what he commanded. Then they sent for their noblemen and received them very well, and gave them of their possessions, and begged them to accoutre themselves with horses and arms, and they did so with all pleasure, and they rallied the entire land, so that the last week of June they all would be ready to go to the entrance of the plains of Salabres, on the shore of Tamisa, and they said that they would do it willingly, and the time passed and the appointed day came, and the brothers did what Merlin commanded them, and went to hold their court for Pentecost on the shore of that river; and there the town assembled, and many possessions were given. And as they held court, news arrived of the ships which were in the port. And when the king found out that they had landed on the eleventh day of June, he understood that Merlin told the truth. Then he commanded the prelates of the church to prepare the Eucharist, and he exhorted the others who were not prelates to confess in this interval. And those of the ships descended there and took land, and camped against the shore of the sea eight days and the ninth day they moved. The king Padragon, when he found out the news through the spies they had with them, told Merlin and asked him what to do, and Merlin said, "Lord, send for your brother Uter in the morning, with his great host, and when they see that they are very far from the sea in the middle of you, he will come against them, so that he will make them camp by force, and if they want to move, he will go to them and you will not see there one who will dare ride or move. And do this for two days, and on the third day, which will be clear, you will see a scarlet dragon run through the air between the earth and the sky, which is a sign of your name, and you can fight securely, and know that you will win the field."