Chapter 26:

Of the honorable interment which King Arthur gave King Lot and the great mourning which was done for him

The queen, King Lot's wife, came to the burial of her husband accompanied by many bishops and prelates and with her four sons, who were very small and young. And great and extreme mourning was done by all there; and King Urian came there, and his wife Morgaina, who was very malicious and knew much trickery and other evils. And when King Lot was buried, his eldest son, who was a very lovely child and no more than eleven years old then, made great dole for his father; so that all those who saw him had pity on him, and after he made his dole, which no man of his age could have done more elegantly, he said words that were heard by all and never afterwards forgotten. And he began by saying, "Ah, God, my lord! How King Pelinor did me such great harm and caused me great pain when he killed you, and how he lowered your lineage, and made it poorer by your death, and the kingdom itself will find itself weakened more by your death than by the deaths of the best seven kings that could be found today! And now I do not ask God to let me do knightly deeds worthy of name until I take vengeance, as is right, that king should be killed for king."

And all those who heard marveled at these words, for they were very great to be spoken by such a little boy, and there were many there who said: "this boy will avenge his father." And so it was, that he afterwards killed King Pelinor and three of his sons. So the obsequies of King Lot were honorably done, so that they lasted fifteen days.

After this King Arthur, who was very happy at the great good that God had done him in freeing him from those battles, said that he would do the octaves of that victory, and he had metal images of the thirteen kings made, and adorned them well, and each king had a very rich gold crown on his head, and his name written on his breast, and he had an image of his own semblance made better than all the others, and had candles put in the hands of each of the thirteen kings. And King Arthur had in his hand a naked sword which seemed to menace the thirteen kings and the other people. And after this was done, he had them put on top of the best tower in his castle, so that all those in the city could see it, and in the middle of them all was King Arthur, higher than the rest, and they all had their heads raised, as if they begged mercy of him for a great crime. And after all this was done, the festivals began, which lasted eight days; but on the first day King Arthur said to Merlin, "This work would seem very good to me, if these candles lasted forever."

Merlin said: "I will make them last longer than you think."

Then he did his enchantment and said to the king, "Certes, believe that these candles will not die until the day my soul departs from my body. And in that time when they die, two marvels will occur in the land, for I will be killed by the trickery of woman, and the Knight of the Two Swords will strike the Dolorous Blow despite the safeguard of Our Lord, so that the adventures of the Holy Grail will often come to the Kingdom of Londres. Then troubles and tempests will begin in Great Britain, so that all will be frightened, and this will endure twenty-two years."

The king said: "Merlin, am I to understand through this your death and the day on which it is to be?"

And Merlin said: "In truth you will see on that day that the adventures will come first, for then these candles will die, and this will be at the midday hour, and a great darkness will come over the whole land, in which no one will be able to see anything. And it will come in that hour that you will go on the hunt, and you will descend near a fountain to kill a beast. Then the great darkness will come, so that you will know nothing of your beast, and I tell you well that you will be very afraid."

And the king marveled greatly and said, "Merlin, can you tell me at what hour this will be?"

"In good faith," said Merlin, "this neither you nor anyone else will know."

Then the king stopped asking him, and spoke to him of other things and said to him, "Tell me where King Pelinor and the other two knights went who were so good in battle; and I have had them sought near and far and no one could find them, and they did so much for me that I will never feel pleasure until I give them reward."

"I tell you," said Merlin, "that you will never see the brothers again."

And Merlin said this because they had killed each other unknowingly. They spoke a long time that day about many things, so that Merlin said to King Arthur:"I will not be here much longer, but I will tell you one thing: and believe, if you are wise, that you must guard well the scabbard of your sword, for I tell you that you will never find another such, if you lose it; nor should you put it in any other hand save of someone you greatly trust, for if it is taken from you, never again will you have it. And you saw in the battle how much the scabbard is worth, for you were wounded with many wounds in the battle, but you never lost even a drop of blood."

The king said, "I will guard it with all my power."

That day King Rion did homage to King Arthur, and he put kings in all the lands where there had been kings who had died in battle. And that day many people talked to each other, of many things and of the candles which burnt so. And when Morgaina found out that Merlin had done such an enchantment, she thought she would meet him, and that she would learn as much from him as would help her to do what she wanted. And so she acted so that she and Merlin met each other, and she begged him to teach her what he knew, and that she would swear him homage and do for him whatever he wanted. And Merlin, who saw her to be marvelously lovely, began to love her well and said to her, "Lady, I will not hide anything from you. I love you so much, that there is nothing in the world you could ask me which I would not do for you."

"Many thanks," said Morgaina, "and I will test that later. Now I beg you to teach me so much of enchantment, that no woman in this land will know more than I do."

And Merlin said that he would do so with pleasure, and he showed her so much in a short time, that she found out a great part of what she wished to know, for she was very subtle and tricky, and ardently wished to learn the science of necromancy.

And when the time came, she had a male child, whose baptismal name was Yvan, and who was afterwards a renowned knight of great excellence and great deeds; and as soon as she had learned as much necromancy as she wanted, she put Merlin away from her, for she saw that he loved her madly, and she said to him that she would make a great mockery of him if he came to any place where she was again. And Merlin, when he heard this, felt great grief, for he loved her infinitely, and for love of King Arthur who loved her, he fled and departed the court.

In that season, there was in the kingdom a very handsome knight and a good knight at arms who loved Queen Morgaina greatly, and she him, and they progressed so in their love, that they were joined as one, and she loved him over all the men of the world; and in that season she was in the house of the king, and took care about her deeds, and governed the household because the king did not have a wife. And the king trusted her more than anything in the world, because of the great confidence he had in her, and he gave her the sword to guard and said to her, "Guard this for me very well, and guard the scabbard even better, for this is the trapping in the world which I most love and most prize."

And when she heard this, she marveled and told this to the knight she loved. And the knight begged her to ask the king why he loved it so, and she said she would do it. And one day she asked the king why he loved that scabbard so, and the king, who loved his sister very much, told her the truth about the scabbard, and she said, "In good faith, I will not put it in the hand of any man save your own, and from today on I will guard it better than before."

And that night her paramour came, and he asked her what she knew about the scabbard. And she told him what the king had told her about the scabbard.

"By God," he said, "since there is such great virtue in it, I want to have it."

And she said: "I want that as well, but wait until I make another which resembles it. If the king asks it from me and I do not give it, or another that resembles it, he will kill me."

And he said: "Then see that you do so, for I will never be happy until I have it in my power."

Then Morgaina sent for one who was master of such works, and she showed him the scabbard and told him to make another such, and the master said that he would do so as soon as he had the other before him. And Morgaina put him in her house so that the scabbard would not be lost, and he made another like it, so that they resembled each other so closely, that no man could have told one from the other. And when Morgaina saw that they resembled each other so closely, she felt fear that the master would discover what he was working on, and she commanded his head to be cut off and his body thrown in the sea. Then she sent for her paramour. And while they were standing there examining the scabbard, King Arthur arrived from his hunt, and they feared that if the king found them thus, he would think something evil of them, and each one of them fled away, and left the scabbards on a bed one on top of the other, and the sword on a coverlet. And King Arthur went to his room and found Morgaina there, and after he had been with her a while and she with him, she returned to the bed she had parted from and examined the scabbards, but she could not decide which was which, for they resembled each other closely, and she was frightened.

Then it came as God willed, that she took one scabbard and put the sword in it, but she did not worry about which one, and gave the other to her paramour, and he took it, thinking that it was the better. And it came thus, that that same week the knight fought another knight, and was badly wounded, and the scabbard he trusted was worthless, since so much blood left him that he could hardly stay in the saddle, and therefore he thought that Morgaina had changed them on purpose and said that he would avenge himself on her. And he went to his lodgings and worked to heal himself with all his strength.

After this had passed, it happened one day that the king went to the hunt, and the knight thought to stay with him, and it happened that he separated from his company, save from the one knight who stayed with him. And after he had followed the exercise of the hunt so that it contented him, he came back speaking of many things with the knight. The knight said, "Lord, I would like to tell you something, but I am terrified to do so, and, certes, believe that I say nothing that is not to your good."

And the king said to him, "Tell on, for no ill will come to you of it, but great good, if I see that it is to my benefit."

And the knight said, "Lord, I beg you in mercy to hear me with all attention. Know that Morgaina hates you and I do not know why; but she hates you so mortally that she seeks your death, and therefore she sent for me the other day, and had me swear that I would do what she commanded. And after I swore, she said to me: 'I want you to avenge me on Arthur, who killed my nephew, and my brother-in-law, and I want you to kill him for me.' And I said to her: 'Lady, this I could not do, for I am afraid to kill the man who has done and is doing so many good things for me and who is my lord.' And she said: 'Do not be afraid of this, since I will give you such a safeguard that, while you bear it, you will not lose a drop of blood nor will you receive a mortal wound.' Then she gave me the scabbard of a sword, and told me that it had such a virtue that it would make me rich forever if I killed you; but I did not want to do it, because I am your subject, and because I have no right to wish you evil. And therefore I reveal this secret to you, and I beg you to guard yourself from her."

When the king heard this, he crossed himself because of the marvel he heard, and he told him to show him the scabbard, and the knight showed it to him, and the king took it for his in truth, and he said to the knight:"Give it to me, and I will avenge myself for that great treachery."

And the knight gave it to him, since he thought his deed was good, and the king turned back to the place where he had parted from his sister.

But Merlin, who knew what the knight had said to the king, and saw that the king was so angry that he would kill Morgaina if he did not get other counsel, went to her and told her all the counsel of the king and the knight. This guarding of her he did because he loved her from the heart, and he did not remember how she had parted from him so cleverly. And when she heard this, she was very afraid and knelt before Merlin, and said, "Have mercy on me, and help me in this, for if not, I am dead; for you know that I never said that to the knight."

"And how can I help you?" said Merlin.

"This I will tell you," she said. "Stay here, and I will mount my palfrey, and go outside the village and pretend that I wish to leave. And when the king comes and asks for me, tell him that the scabbard of the sword was stolen, and that I fled in fear; and if you say this, I will have the love of the king, and the knight will be disgraced."

And Merlin said, "I will do that for love of you."

And Morgaina hid the scabbard she had, so that the king could not find it. And she rode away on a palfrey, and in a little bit the king arrived and asked for his sister.

And Merlin said to him: "Lord, ill news came to her, so that she fled, and she is going back to her kingdom."

"Why?" he said.

"Because the scabbard was stolen from her," Merlin said, "that you gave her to guard, and she fled in fear of you."

When the king heard this, he thought something different from what he had thought before, for he believed that the knight had stolen the scabbard, and that he had said what he said for some hatred he felt for Arthur's sister. Then he looked at the knight very angrily and said, "I was only a little bit away from doing the worst excess and crime that ever a king did, for I was going to kill my sister because of your false report."

Then he put his hand to his sword with very great ire and said, "See here the reward for your lie."

And he gave him such a great blow, that he struck off his head. And he said to Merlin, "Do you know where I shall find my sister?"

And he told where she was. And he then sent for her, and they found her in a convent, and brought her before the king; and when the king saw her, he gave her the scabbard, and said to her, "Guard this better than you guarded it the other time, for I have taken it back, and if you fail in this, you will buy it dearly."

And he said this because he believed that that was his scabbard which he had given her with his sword. So Morgaina made peace with her brother, whose death she sought as she could; but the king never understood where his evil lay, and so he kept her with him.

King Urian lived a long time with King Arthur for love of his wife who ruled Arthur's house; and because she was wise in many things, King Arthur loved her. But afterwards he hated her mortally, and, certainly, with great right, for he had to kill her. And after this, King Urian had a lovely nephew, bold and sharp-witted for his age, so much so that everyone marveled, and there was no such graceful child in the kingdom, and he was eighteen years old. King Urian loved nothing in the world so much as he, and his name was Bandemagus, who loved the company of Galvan and Gariet more than others, and he was six years older than Galvan. And one day they served the king, and after they had eaten, all three took each other by the hands and went from the room, and Bandemagus went in the middle, and had his right hand in Galvan's and his left in Gariet's, and they passed by the place where Merlin was. Merlin said in the manner of one angry, "Ah Bandemagus, at your right and left are those through whom you will be lost, and this will be a great shame, for in your time no wiser prince than you will die."

And many heard these words, but did not understand them, and the king begged him to say them again. He did not choose to, and King Arthur was told what he said; but never could anyone know or understand that prophecy; and it happened just as he said, that Galvan killed Bandemagus.

Everyone spoke much of Bandemagus in the court; and on that day it befell that Nabor, Sagramor's father, he who brought up Mordred, was near King Urian, and he came that day to the court, and said to the king, "Lord, you ought to have been and ought to be happy with such a good child as you have made Bandemagus, and, certes, I do not know anything in this land which ought to please you more, and now may it please God that I have just such a son; if God helps me, I will love him and prize him greatly."

"If God values me," said King Urian, "I will love him as much as if he were my son, and I love him more for the good I see in him, than for the lineage I share with him."

While they said this, Merlin arose and said to the father of Sagramor, "King Urian can be happier about his son than you about yours, and he will see his strive for good, and you will see that yours will kill you with a lance; and one of these who are here will kill the other, and so you can well say that you have put the wolf with the lamb; since just as the wolf is happy with the death of the lamb, so will one be happy with the death of the other. And this will come on the day when a mortal battle will occur on the plains of Salabres, when the noble knighthood of the kingdom of Londres will be killed and defeated."

And those who heard this were amazed at it, and spoke of it much, and told it to the king and said, "This is from the prophecies of Merlin."

And he had it written down with the others. Then the king said to Merlin: "Tell me if these things you said before me will happen in my time."

"Yes," said Merlin, "truly, and I say nothing you will not see before your death."

"That pleases me greatly," said the king.

The next day, at the midday hour, it happened that the king had his tents pitched outside the castle, in a meadow on the road, and he sat down grieved from a pain that came to him, and he lay down in his bed and commanded that the tent be shut, so that no one save servants could enter there. And while he was lying thus, he began to think about a thing that displeased him greatly. And while he was lying thus, he heard a great sound of horses that came upon the road, and he arose and went out to see what it was, and he found his servants sleeping, and saw an armed knight come toward the castle of Camelot, and he made the greatest dole in the world, "Ah, God! Why did I merit the necessity to do such great evil and such great disloyalty? for I was not accustomed, Lord, to do such great treachery."

And after he had said this, he began to make greater dole than before, and when the king arrived, the king said to him, "Ah knight, I beg you of your courtesy to tell me why you are so sad."

"Lord," he said, "I will not tell you, for you are not powerful enough to give me counsel."

And thus it was that he said nothing more to him. The king was very grieved at this, and watched the knight as long as he could see him, and while he watched, he saw the Knight of the Two Swords cross the road, the man he loved most in the world, who was coming directly toward him, and when the king saw him coming, he said to him, "Friend, you are welcome."

And he dismounted as soon as he recognized the king, and went to him very humbly, and said to him, "Lord, all my heart is with you, to serve you in all the ways in the world I might do so."

And the king said: "You showed me that not a long time ago; but I still beg you to do one thing for me which will not be very difficult for you."

"I will do it, if I can, since you command me," said the knight."I beg you," said the king, "to go after a knight who went by here, and make him come to me, and know that I do not do this to do him ill; but I would like to know why he was making such great dole."

"Lord," said the knight, "I hold you in mercy because you were pleased to command this. I will go very willingly, and I will bring him to you, if God wills it."

Then he mounted his horse and went after the knight, and reached him, and he wore arms and coverings of white. The Knight of the Two Swords hastened so, that he came to him at the foot of a mountain, and found a damsel with him who was asking him, "Why are you making such dole?"

And he responded to her: "I would like to have been dead ten years ago, so as not to follow this adventure."

Then the Knight of the Two Swords said to him, "God save you."

And the knight returned him greetings.

"Sir," said the Knight of the Two Swords, "I beg you by God and by the honor of knighthood to return to King Arthur who sends for you."

And the knight said, "Sir, let it not grieve you that I can in no way return this time; and by God I beg you not to take this ill, for, certes, I would do it if I could."

The Knight of the Two Swords said, "Ah, knight, lord, by God, do not say that, for you will have made me fall into failure; for I promised the king I would not leave you in any guise."

And he said to him that he could not return, for if he returned great ill would come to him. And the Knight of the Two Swords said to him, "Return; if not, then you will find battle; and it would grieve me greatly, God help me, for you seem to me a good man and I would not want to anger you."

"And what?" he said. "So I must fight with you, if I do not return?"

"Yes, without fail," said the Knight of the Two Swords, "and it grieves me; but I must do so, for I promised it to the king."

"In good faith," said the other, "evil will come to me in some way, for I must leave this quest I entered into. And if I leave it, who will take it?"

"I will," said the Knight of the Two Swords, "and I will never leave it save because of death, if you promise this to me."

Then the knight said: "I will go with you; but I want you to take me safely under your guard, in such manner that if evil comes to me, the guilt will be yours."

And he of the Two Swords said that he wanted it thus. Then the Knight of the Two Swords returned and the other with him and he said to him, "Go ahead, for I will follow you."

And they rode thus until they were near the king's tents, as far away as a shot from a bow might travel. Then the knight who went after the other, shouted out and said, "Ah, knight who bears two swords, I am dead despite your guard, and the dishonor is yours and the damage mine."

Then the Knight of the Two Swords turned back, and saw the knight fall to earth. And he dismounted then, and found him wounded by a lance stroke through his body, although he did not know who had done it; and it was such a great blow that the head appeared out the other side, and he felt such great grief that he had never felt more from anything that had come to him and he said, "Ah, God, I am disgraced, that this knight was killed thus under my guard."

And the knight said to him with great agony, "Sir knight, I am dead. And the guilt is yours, and now you must enter the quest which I began, and finish it to the best of your power; and mount my horse, which is better than yours, and go after the damsel you found with me, and she will take you where I was to go and show you him who killed me, and now we shall see how you avenge me."

And as soon as he had said that, he died; but the king, who had come there before he died, heard a great piece of what he had said, and the knight said to him, "Sir, I am disgraced, since such a good man as this died under my guard."

"Certes," said the king, "I never saw such a great marvel, for I saw him wounded and I did not see who wounded him."

Then the Knight of the Two Swords took the lance with which the knight had been wounded, and pulled it from him, and afterwards said to the king, "Lord, I am going and I commend you to God, and I tell you that I will never feel pleasure until I avenge this knight and finish what the dead knight began to seek."

And he took his shield and went after the damsel, and the king stayed with the knight, so frightened that he could not have been more so.

While the king was examining the knight thus, his noblemen came and asked him who had killed that knight, and the king said that he did not know. And while they spoke of this, Merlin arrived and said to the king, "Do not be frightened of this adventure, for soon you will see many more marvels; but build a very rich and lovely sepulchre here, and put the knight inside, and have this written on the monument: "Here lies the Unknown Knight." And know that the day that you find out his name, there will be such great happiness in your court, that there will have been none such either before or afterwards, and until then you will not know the name."

And the king did what Merlin said, and the matter remained thus, and the king returned to see to the matters of his court.