Chapter 20:

How King Arthur and Merlin came from the mountains to Cardoyl, speaking of how Arthur could be recognized as the son of King Uterpadragon

When the king arrived at Cardoyl, he descended into his palace, and after this he sent for his noblemen, and for Iguerna and Morgaina. When the queen heard this, she thought that he wanted to take her lands away from her, and sent for her son-in-law King Lot and her daughter, to help her in case the king chose to do her some outrage. And Merlin sent for Ulfin to come to court, and when Ulfin found out that Merlin was there, he was very happy and came very quickly. The king then sent for Antor, the lord who raised him, and when both came, Merlin took them aside and said to Ulfin, "You know that Uterpadragon gave me his son to do my will with him."

And Ulfin said, "I know that the day he was born, he was given to you."

Merlin said, "Antor, do you know who gave Arthur to you?"

And Antor looked at Merlin and said, "Certes, you gave him to me on such-and-such a day," and he named the day.

Then both agreed on the day and the hour, and understood by what Merlin had said that Arthur was the son of Uterpadragon. Great was the pleasure that Ulfin and Antor felt, for Merlin told them that the noblemen would believe them. And Merlin said, "Antor, make sure you have your neighbors with you, those who know that Arthur was given to you, as witnesses."

And Antor said, "They will give you such testimonials that they will be easy to believe."

And so Merlin was with the king until the day they came to court. And that day great numbers of people arrived there, and Iguerna came very richly with a great company of knights and ladies and damsels, and she felt a very great fear that the king might take away her lands, because she was a woman and ought not to have such great lands as she had. And when she came to court, the king received her very well, and commanded that all his noblemen do her much service, more than to anyone else who was there, and so they did; but they marveled greatly, because some there knew the doings of him and the wife of King Lot, and thought that he did honor to the mother because of the daughter.

That day a man could see many good and well-dressed knights in the palace, and many ladies and damsels, very well-dressed and very beautiful, and the daughter of Iguerna took the prize for beauty, and without doubt she was very beautiful until that season when she learned enchantments and witcheries. But after the devil entered her, she had the spirit of devilry and lust inside herself, and lost all her goodly appearance, and no one could look at her and take her for beautiful, but for an ugly enchantress, unless he himself were enchanted.

And when the tables were set and all were seated at them, Ulfin came before the king, and said so loudly that all could hear, "King Arthur, I marvel greatly that such a disloyal lady, and one who ought not to hold an inch of her land nor any other, eats at your table, and he who chooses to level suit against her as soon as truth shows itself, will truly find that there is perfidy and treachery in her. And since, lord, you are a man whom men take for good, you should not suffer such a thing here or no one will take you for a king."

The king when he heard this pretended that he was very angry, and said fiercely, "Ulfin, make sure you are saying something you can prove honestly and well, for it is certain you will be taken for a fool, and then much evil will come to you."

"Lord," said Ulfin, "if you wish to deny her perfidy and treachery, I will prove it against the best knight there is here."

"Certes," said the king, "you have said a great deal now, so that you must say the lady's name before everyone."

And Ulfin said, "Lord, this I will tell you, nor is she so bold that she would dare deny it. And this lady is Queen Iguerna who is over there."

Then the king affected to be frightened of that marvel and said to the queen, "Lady, you see what that knight says. Now watch what you do about this, since if he proves what he says, you will never hold any land in my power; and if I choose, you will suffer the loss of your land therefore, for, certainly, such harm as he says should not remain without punishment, but such a woman should be lost forever or buried alive."

And the queen was frightened by what Ulfin said, because he knew much about her doings, but Iguerna's counselors replied to the charges, and she with them, and she said, "Lord, if he chooses to enter the field to prove what he says, there is one here who will defend me with the help of God, for, certes, never did I meddle in such, and God knows this well."

And Ulfin said, "Lord and noblemen of the kingdom of Londres, truly this complaint which I give concerns you as much as to me, for you see here Queen Iguerna who conceived a son from Uterpadragon, who was our lord, the first time she slept with him. But she, who contemplated the destruction of the land more than her own benefit, did not choose to keep her son with her; but I believe she killed him, or had him killed, or whatever she did with him, so that we never knew anything about him, and she did such disloyalty and cruelty as King Arthur said. Certes, she did not have a heart like other women, for all mothers naturally love their sons."

Ulfin said, "If she chooses to deny it, I undertake to prove it and therefore I wear mail, for she knows that I tell the proven truth."

The king affected to marvel greatly, and looked at the queen and said to her, "Ah, lady! And is what this knight says the truth? Certainly you did evil, if it is."

And she felt such great shame that she did not know what to say, for she knew that the knight told the truth. A great tumult then arose in the court, and all said that Ulfin told the truth, and that the queen ought to receive death. The king made them all be silent and said to the queen, "Lady, respond to what this knight says."

And she was so frightened because she knew who he was, that she trembled with terror. And she said one word like a woman who feels fear, "Ah, Merlin, may you be damned for this trouble you got me into, for you took the child, but I do not know what you did with him."

Then Merlin spoke and said, "Lady, why do you curse Merlin? for many times he was good to you and to Uterpadragon your husband."

And she said, "If he was good to us, we bought it dearly, because he took away the first son that God gave us, and we never saw him after nor knew what he did with him. And certainly, he showed that he was the son of the devil, for he did not wait until the child should be a Christian, and so he kept him from being baptized, because he did not want God to have any part of him."

And Merlin said, "I could tell more of the truth of this if I wished."

"That is not true," said the queen, "for you do not know any of it. And how will you tell any more, for you cannot know as much about it as I do?"

And Merlin said to the king, "Lord, do you want me to tell how Merlin took away the child? As the queen said, Merlin truly took him away, and I will tell you how; but you must first make the queen swear that she will not disdain the truth of what I shall say."

And the king had the holy Gospels brought. And the queen said to Merlin, "I will swear as long as you tell me who you are."

And she then swore on the holy Gospels, that she would not turn aside from the truth, and kissed the book, and arose. And the king commanded her to be seated in her place and said to Merlin, "Tell what you began."

"Lord," he said, "willingly."

And the queen said, "Lord, I first wish you to tell me who you are."

And Merlin at that point turned into his true form, in which she had many times seen him, and said to her, "Lady, I will tell you my name, if you do not know it; but I believe you know me, for you have seen me many times."

And she looked at him and knew that he was Merlin. She said, "Ah, Merlin, I know that you had me accused of this deed and you did great wrong, for you know what I did with the child, which I did at the mandate of my lord the king, and you must give up the child or die for it, for as God may help and guard me in this disgrace, I know truly that he was given to you; and if you deny it, I will prove it on you and chastise you so harshly that all your enchantments will avail you nothing."

Then Merlin began to smile and said to the king, "Lord, the lady says what she chooses, and I will listen because she is such a high lady; but if it please you, I will tell you how I took away the child."

And the king said, "First I want to know if you are Merlin."

He responded, "Truly I am Merlin."

And many noblemen who had seen him many times and recognized him said, "Lord, you may be truly certain that this is Merlin."

And they did not know that the king already knew that. The king commanded all of them to be silent and said to Merlin, "And what do you respond to what the queen demands of you regarding the child you were given, as she says?"

And the queen said, "Lord, I demand from him the child he was given. Give me my rights."

And the king said, "Respond, for you must do so."

Merlin said, "I will do so willingly, and I will certainly not lie to you about anything I will tell you. It is true," said Merlin, "that the child was promised to me from the hour he was made in the womb of his mother, and when he was born he was given to me; and I loved his father greatly, and therefore I ought to have loved the son, and so as soon as he was given to me I put him in safe hands and good keeping, so that they raised him with greater love than their own son. And if he to whom I gave him wishes to deny it, I will have him admit it with his own mouth whether he wants to or not."

Then he returned to the place where Antor was, and said, "Antor, I demand what I gave you, that child that Uterpadragon begged you to raise, who is the one the queen demands of me."

And Antor responded, "I will not give you anything, for you did not give me anything."

And Merlin then changed to the form in which he gave him to him, and said to him, "Do you now know if I am the one who gave him to you?"

"Yes, without doubt," said Antor. "You are the man who gave him to me, and I guarded him so well that all the men in the world could not guard him better, and you should be very grateful to me."

And Merlin said, "Give him to me just as I gave him to you."

"Just as you gave him," said Antor, "I cannot give him back, for he is not now with me, but I am with him; but I will show him to you tall and handsome, and you gave me a tiny infant."

Then Antor arose and went to the king and said to him, "Lord, do not grieve because I come to you."

And the king said, "Certes, it will not grieve me."

Then Antor took him by the hand and said, "You see here what you gave me; guard him well, if you see that this is he."

Merlin said when he heard this, "I will not believe in any manner that this is he, until you make me recognize him better."

And Antor said, "I will prove it to you with all of my neighbors, who know the day he was given to me, and saw him raised afterwards, and saw him made king after that."

Then all the neighbors whom Antor had had come arose, and gave testimony that all that was true.

Merlin said, "All of you are not telling me what I asked you; tell me if you know the time he was given to him."

And they said, "Yes, very well."

"Then how long ago was it?" said Merlin.

And they said, "Soon it will have been seventeen years."

And the chaplain who had baptized the child said that his name had been Arthur.

And Merlin said, "I baptized him with my own hand and his name is as they say, since so it was commanded to me by Padragon."

Then Merlin said against the noblemen, "Lords, are these testimonies to be believed?"

"Yes," they said, "for these men are good and loyal."

"By God," said Merlin, "from today on I wish to excuse myself from the fault of which they accuse me in this court."

And he said to the lady, "You demanded of me your first son who was given to me."

Then he took Arthur by the hand and said, "Arthur, your father gave me to you in reward for my service, and when you were mine, he left you; so that, certes, soon I will be able to call you my son by rights. But I tell you upon my soul and upon what I have of God and His good beliefs, that Queen Iguerna who is here is your mother, and you are her son, and that King Padragon engendered you the first night he slept with her, and you must go to her and receive her for your mother, and she you for her son."

Then he changed to the form which he usually used, and said to the noblemen, "Lords of the kingdom of Londres, you who until now despised your lord because you did not know his lineage, I am Merlin, who by the grace of God knows all things dark and hidden and many of those which are to come; and this you know, so that you should believe what I tell you. And certainly, you should love and prize your lord, primarily because you have him through the grace of God and not by any other manner, and after this because he is the most prudent and wise prince the kingdom of Londres has ever had, and additionally because he is of great stature as the son of Uterpadragon, your natural king. And because until now you took him for one of low condition in your hearts which did not know him, I beg you not to have contrary hearts from now on, but to love him and serve him as you would your legitimate and natural lord."

Then very great happiness began in the court, and the king arose, and went to where the queen his mother was, and kissed her and embraced her as his mother, and she him again, and both of them wept with great pleasure. And when the noblemen heard this, they praised and blessed God, and said that never had Merlin done such great good or such great pleasure for the kingdom of Londres as he had in that hour, and all said, "Blessed be God who brought him here, and who made us recognize our natural lord, for we will always value ourselves and the queen more because of him."

And these festivals lasted fifteen days. And one day on which the festival was great and plentiful and the king went to eat, during the first course they brought him, a squire from the road came, and entered the palace on horseback, and brought before him a knight wounded to death, and the squire was a little wounded by a lance stroke through his body, and he still wore all of his arms. And the squire dismounted then, and put his lord on the ground and said, "King Arthur, I come to you in great trouble, and I will tell you, as is already well-known, that you are king of this land by the grace of God; and, when the kingdom was turned over to you, you promised your people that you would amend all the injuries and wrongs that were done in your land. And now it has happened that a knight, I do not know who, has killed my lord in that mountain near here, and now we will see how you will administer justice and avenge the death of my lord."

The king felt great grief at this news, and began to think a great deal but did not respond at all to anything the squire had said. And Merlin looked at him very closely, and afterwards said to him, "King, do this news frighten you? Do not be afraid, for many such things you will have to fulfill, and if you are frightened every time such news comes to your court, you will be a troubled man. And this is the first adventure which has come to your court. Such a beginning grieves me greatly, for the sign is very evil and troubling; and have this adventure and all the others which will come after this one put in writing, for, certes, before you pass from this world they will be so many that there will be a great book made from the script you will make. I told you this because I do not want you to be afraid of the adventures which will come to you, but I do want you to maintain yourself very valiantly when you see that they are coming."

And he responded that he had never seen such things come to pass in his land, and therefore he was more frightened, especially if they came often. Then he asked the squire where the knight who had killed his lord was.

"By God," said the squire, "whoever wants to go there, will find him in the entrance to the mountain, on a plain which is surrounded by a grove and has a tent, and this next to a fountain, and the tent is the most honorable I have ever seen, and he is there night and day, and has two squires with him, and has them put lances and shields in a tree which is next to the tent, and each one who passes by there must joust with him."

"By God," said the king, "this knight's travail is a great marvel, and the desire to try whatever knights pass by there comes from a great heart."

"Now you must take counsel about this," said the squire, "for he began something which no one will dare to try to stop."

The king said, "You who know the things which men are to do, I beg you," said the king to Merlin, "to counsel me."

"Certes," said Merlin, "I will do this, and this method I shall show you now, will be held all your life; but after you, no one so good in all this land will come who will be able to keep this custom, for they will not be worth so much as you. And now listen and I will tell you how. And you, knights who are here, if it seems to you that I say good or ill, tell me. It is true that this knight began adventures of one knight against another at first, and since he started them, the wrong he does must be amended by a knight of this court who must go there."

Merlin said these words before a squire who served the king and whose name was Griflet, son of Sir Queas, and the king loved him greatly because he was good and handsome and the same age as the king, and had always lived with him since he was a child. And Griflet came before the king and said to him, "Lord, I have served you as best I could until now. I beg you to give me arms and a horse in reward for my service and to make me knight, and I will go to see that knight who through his pride began to kill the knights who passed by him; and if your court is not avenged by me, do not blame me, for it will not be diminished because of me."

And the king said to him, "Friend Griflet, you are young to begin so great a thing, much less against a proven knight, of whom, certes, anyone could understand that he would not have begun so great a deed if he were not a great knight. Therefore I counsel you to suffer this, and I will send another who is better used to this than you are."

"Lord," said Griflet, "this is the first gift I have asked of you since you were made king, and you should not deny it me."

And he fell to his knees on the ground and begged him affectionately to agree to it.

The king said, "I will do it; but it will grieve me greatly if it does you no good. And since you want it so, wait for me until morning and I will do what you beg me. Then you may go to the knight."

And Griflet was very grateful for it, but he wanted it to be done right then. So that matter remained, and the king had the wounded knight carried to a room, but he did not live more than three days. Then Merlin said to the king, "You love Griflet a great deal and that is right, for he loves you with all his heart and was raised almost by your side. And I tell you that, if there is no other counsel, he will not return alive from there, for he of the mountain is a good knight. And do you know who he is?" said Merlin.

And the king said, "No."

And Merlin said, "He is the knight you talked to who chased the Barking Beast. And if Griflet dies in that battle, it will be a great pity; for if he lives, he will be as good a knight as that one, and even better. And I tell you that he will be the one knight in the world who will serve you most loyally, and when he leaves you, it will not be at his will or willingness, but at yours."

When the king heard this, he began to think a great deal, for he understood that Merlin spoke of his death, and he was frightened. And Merlin said, "What are you thinking about? For so it is to be, and things must be as God has them ordered; and do not be frightened, for this I tell you of will not happen in my time. And if you die, so each man dies; and if you knew how honorably you are to die, you should be well content and happy that so it will be; but you could say that my death is far different from yours, for you will die honorably and I dishonored, and you will be richly interred and I put in earth alive, and such a death is shameful."

The king, when he heard this, said as he crossed himself, "What, Merlin? Will you really die as dishonorably as you say?"

"Yes," said Merlin, "believe it, and I see nothing which will hinder it, save God alone."

"This is a great marvel," said the king, "that you cannot guard yourself from such misadventure through such a great wit as yours."

"Now we will leave off talking of this," said Merlin, "for I can say nothing, and so it will be. But let us speak of Griflet, who is in peril of death; for if you do not give him counsel, I tell you truly that no man in the world will be able to stop him from going to joust with that knight, who is of great strength. And it will thus occur, that the knight will throw him to earth, in the first joust. And when they come to wound each other with swords, there Griflet will waste all his effort, for the other fights better with the sword than any man on this earth; and now decide what you will do."

"Certes," said the king, "I do not know."

Merlin said, "You will make him knight tomorrow, and after he is armed, he cannot fail to do you the first service you ask of him; and ask him that as soon as he jousts with the lance with the knight, he will return."

The next morning the king made Griflet knight, and said to him, "Griflet, I beg you to do something I will tell you, and you cannot excuse yourself from this."

"Lord," he said, "ask, and I will do it willingly."

The king said, "I want you to return on foot or on horseback to me when you have ridden the first joust with that knight, whether good or evil comes to you."

He said, "Lord, since it pleases you, I will do it, although I receive dishonor thereby."

Then he asked for his horse and his arms and mounted, and he wanted neither squire nor page to go with him.

And the king stayed in his palace very sad for Griflet. And while the king remained thus, twelve men dressed in white samite entered, and each one carried in his hand a green olive branch, in significance of peace, and when they came before the king, they greeted him, and he greeted them, and one of them said for the others, "King Arthur, the emperor of Rome, whom all natural lords should obey, commands you to send to Rome the fifth part of your tribute, and do not squander it, for it was collected for him before now. Now make sure that you command this to be looked into so wisely that no evil nor harm comes to the land; and in that way you can guard yourself from death if you choose."

And when they had said this, the king responded, "Friends, I hold nothing from Rome, nor would I wish nor do I wish to do so, and this which I have, I have from God only, since He gave me this land and this power on pain of the destruction of my soul if I did not do what I ought to do, and my salvation is holding this land in peace. And that Lord who gave me this height and this honor, to Him I will give tribute from all my goods and honors which He gave me, but I am not beholden to any other. I want you to tell this to your lord: that it was not well advised to ask me to send such a thing, for I am one who holds nothing from him, nor will he have tribute from here on; but I tell you that, if he enters my land, that he will never return to Rome, if God does not choose to hinder me. And make sure that you are not so daring as to come to me with such news another time, for evil could come to you of it, and if you were not messengers, I would have you punished."

And he who spoke for the others said to the king, "Will you not give another answer?"

And he said, "No."

And they said, "Then we now challenge you on behalf of the emperor and all those who obey him, and we tell you that never have you done or said anything through which such harm will come to you."

"Go from here," said the king, "for you have gained an answer to your command."

Then the messengers left, and the king stayed with his people, and began to speak much about the emperor, and he said that he was not very wise to send to him to ask tribute. So they spoke to each other of this.

Returning to the history: When Sir Griflet left the court, he rode so fast, even armed, that he arrived at the plain where the knight was, and saw the fountain and the tent as lovely as he had been told. And in the entrance of the tent he saw a terrifyingly great and strong knight, and blacker than pitch, and in front of the knight, in a small tree, was his shield; and when he saw it, he went to the shield and cast it to earth, and the knight then came out and said, "Ah, Sir Knight, you do not do as a courteous man, since you cast down my shield, and you ought to do so to me, not my shield which merits nothing of the sort, if I did you harm."

And Griflet said that he would do so to him with dispatch, and that he would demand that of him if he wished.

The knight said to him, "Tell me of courtesy whose knight you are."

And Griflet said to him that he was King Arthur's knight. He said, "Tell me by the faith you owe him. How long have you been knight?"

"Today," he said, "he made me knight."

"Ah, God!" he said. "Such a new knight you are, and eager to combat with me who am one of the named knights in my land? Go, and may God make you a good knight, for, certainly, you will be one, if God wishes, since you have begun with such a high knightly deed."

"What, Sir Knight?" said Griflet. "You want me to go, and not to joust with you? This cannot be."

"It will be so," said the knight, "for I will not joust with you in any way, for I have hopes that you will soon be a good knight."

"All this avails you nothing," said Griflet, "since you will not excuse yourself from jousting with me; and if you refuse, you will make me do something shameful, for I am on horseback and I will wound you on foot where you stand."

When the knight heard this, he responded laughing, "By God, new knight, do not begin to do villainy because of a failing of mine."

And he took his shield and his lance, and got on his horse and said to him, "Sir Knight, I will still praise you if you leave this joust."

And Griflet said, "In no way, for I will not leave it."

So the knight said that he would not beg it of him more.