Chapter 32:

How Tor fought with the knight who had taken the brachet, and killed him

Then Tor left the hermitage, and went on his way, and had not gone half a league, when he saw a thunder of horses come after him, and he waited to see what it was, and he saw a knight coming at a great pace, as if death came after him, and he came alone and well armed, so that he lacked nothing.

"Ah, sir," said the dwarf, "you cannot leave without battle. And do you know who this is?"

"Yes," he said, "for this is he I sought, who took the brachet from the court."

Then he took his shield and lance which the dwarf brought him, and directed the horse into the middle of the road. And the other said to him in the loudest shout he could manage, "Ah evil knight, you took the brachet from the women by your ill fortune, for you will give it back through your dishonor."

And Tor did not respond at all to what he said to him, but directed the horse's head toward him, and they came at each other not in any great hurry, although good horses bore them; but they struck each other so hard that their lances flew in pieces, and they encountered each other on horseback so fiercely that both were thrown to the earth, so that neither of them could manage not to have his helmet covered in dust; but they were lively and light and of great strength. They arose as soon as they could, and put their hands to their swords, and began to fight each other. And you would have seen the shields cloven and broken at the first blows, and the helmets dented, and the arms broken and their chain links shattered, for they were both of great goodness, and strong, and vigorous in a great way.

And they fought so manfully, that they lessened the worth of their arms, and blood flowed from them on all sides, since the battle between them endured from the hour of prime until the hour of tierce. Then they were weary and tired, for each had lost much blood; but Abelin was very troubled, more than Tor, because his sword was not so good, and Tor's was very good. This was something which was very valuable to him that day, since he did much harm to the other. And a little before the hour of tierce Abelin began to weaken, so that he shortly lost much blood, and could not give such great blows as he had given before, nor as often as he had before. And Tor understood that he was weary, and began to give him very great blows of the sword, so that he made blood flow from him in more than ten places, and he suffered it well always and could not amend his will so soon. And Tor drove him here and there, forwards and back, wherever he wished, and when he saw that he had him almost in his hands, said to him, "Knight, you see that you are dead, if I wish, for you have not the power to defend yourself; but because you are a good knight, I will do you a good turn which you would not have done me, if you had fared so well against me as I against you."

"Now tell me," said Abelin, "what that could be that I would thank you for, and it could be such a thing that I would not."

"If you choose to hold yourself vanquished, and put yourself under the power of one to whom I will send you, your life will be saved, and I will hold you quit, and you may go where you wish, except that the brachet will stay with me."

And Abelin looked at him askance and said, "May he who does so have ill fortune, while he lives and has his soul in his body, for after I knew myself to be a coward, I would never afterwards have honor. As God may help me, I would rather die a hundred times, if I could be born a hundred times, than do one thing alone which would turn against me in disgrace."

"What?" said Tor. "Do you wish to die then, instead of doing what I tell you?"

"Yes," said Abelin, "in good faith."

And Tor said, "Then death is upon you."

Then he charged at him, and struck on the helmet with such a great swordstroke that he made him fall to the earth in a faint, and he threw himself on him and seized his helmet, and pulled at it, and threw it far away, and gave him three such blows with the pommel of his sword that the points of the metal went into his head, and shouted to him to yield himself vanquished; and if not, he would kill him. And Abelin responded with very great labor and said, "I will not yield myself vanquished for whatever power you have, and now do with me as you please, for not even in fear of death will I say anything which could come back to shame me."

And then Tor struck him in the face with the pommel of the sword, so that he made the blood flow, but he would not render himself up at that. Matters standing thus, a damsel came on a small white palfrey at a very great pace, and when she arrived there and saw that Tor had that knight in a way to cut off his head, she dismounted and knelt and said, "Ah, good knight! By the faith you owe knighthood, give me a boon, for you are certainly the first knight of whom I ever asked a boon."

He said: "I tell you that you are the first damsel who ever asked me a boon since I became a knight, and because of this there is nothing in the world I would not give you, if you could have it, by labor or by travail."

"Many thanks," she said. "Sir knight, I beg you to give me the head of this knight you have in your power."

"What? Do you want me to cut it off?"

"Yes," she said, "for I ask nothing else."

"It grieves me greatly," he said, "for he was a good knight."

"Do not grieve," she said, "for his knighthood; for know in truth that this is the most disloyal knight and the most arrogant there ever was in Great Britain."

When the knight understood what the damsel said, he said to Tor, "Ah good knight, by God, do not believe her nor kill me at her begging, for you must know that this is the most disloyal thing you ever saw; but leave me, for I hold myself vanquished, and I will render myself prisoner to whomever you wish."

Tor said: "Ah knight! This was very late, for I will give the damsel the boon I promised her, for if I did not give it, she could reproach me."

When he heard this, he clasped his hands, and begged mercy from the damsel and said to her, "Ah, good damsel! In God's name, have mercy on me, do not have me killed; for you will gain nothing by my death, but if I live you will gain a knight like me; for never while I live will I serve anyone but you, nor will I do anything against your will."

"Ah, damsel, in God's name," said Tor, "if this knight did not err so greatly against you that he deserves death, have mercy on him, and you will do a great courtesy."

She said, "May God not have mercy on my soul, if I have mercy on him; for he killed my brother before me, and never chose to hear my begging, although I was before him, weeping from my eyes. Now do what you have promised me, if you please."

And he said that he would do so, since he could do nothing else. Abelin rose then, and felt better and thought to flee; but Tor did not let him, and gave him such a blow on the neck that he made his head fly more than an arm's length from his body, and the damsel then went to take it with very great happiness, and she thanked Tor very much and said to him, "This boon will be well rewarded, if I can do it."

Then Tor said to the dwarf: "I am tired, for I have lost much of my blood, and if you know where I can rest, I would rest."

"By God," said the damsel, "you have lost much of your blood, and near here, in this forest, there is a rich and lovely hermitage, where you can rest today and tomorrow, if you wish; but, certes, it would please me greatly if you came to my house."

"Then let us ride," said Tor, "for I would wish to be anywhere, I feel so badly wounded."

Then they rode. And she went ahead and they arrived at the hermitage, and the hermitage was beautiful and very strong, and she called a youth, and he then came and opened the postern. And she said to him, "Open that great door."

And you never saw such great happiness, as was there felt for Tor, when they saw the head the damsel bore, and all said in one voice, "Blessed be the hour in which you were born, knight, for you put us in peace and happiness forever, since you killed our mortal enemy and the man in the world who did us the most ill, and who never let us have rest or peace."

That night Tor was very well served and provided with all the goods those inside could get, and they were very pleased with him; and in the morning, after he heard mass in a chapel, he took his arms, and rode and said farewell to the damsel and all the others, and they begged him to lodge with them if by chance he passed by there, since that lodging was already his. And he thanked the damsel and them for it.

And he left there, and traveled until he arrived at Camelot, and he found Galvan who had arrived the day before, and King Pelinor had not come. And when those of the court saw Tor come, they were very pleased, for they already knew news of him through the two knights of the tents whom he had sent, and the king received him very honorably and asked how he had fulfilled his quest. He said, "Very well, my lord, and see here the brachet the knight took."

"And did you find news," he said, "of the knight?"

"Yes," he said.

The king had the sacred Gospels brought and made him swear, and he swore that he would tell the truth about all his deeds, in what manner they had passed during his quest, and that he would not leave the tale for honor or for dishonor, and he then began to recount before all those of the Round Table what had come to him, just as the above story has related it; and after he had recounted it all, the scribes put it all in writing and through that we know the truth.

King Arthur said: "Now only King Pelinor is lacking."

Merlin said: "Do not be angry at him, for he will be here before it is night."

Merlin said: "What do you think of your knight, whom you thought was the son of a cowherd?"

"That if he were, he would not have begun as well as he began."

"Know," said Merlin, "that the nature of his lineage and right excellent birth taught him thus in as little a time as you saw."

"Merlin," said the king, "you know him better than he knows himself."

"It is true," said Merlin, "for he does not know who his father is, and I know it well."

"And who is he?" said King Arthur. "For you could tell us, if it pleased you."

Merlin said in his ear, very softly, "When you see King Pelinor near him, you can say that one is the father and the other is the son, for you will know that King Pelinor begot him in the wife of that cowherd, before she was his wife; for King Pelinor had her virgin. Then he begot Tor in her; but the peasant had her to wife that same week that King Pelinor slept with her, and because of this he truly thought that Tor was his son; but he is not, for it happened just as I tell you."

The king began to laugh and said: "Certes, I believe that it is so; but tell me if the young woman was the daughter of anyone important."

"No," he said, "since she was a laborer before who guarded her flocks in a meadow; but she was so beautiful, that the king coveted her and slept with her. Then he engendered Tor."

The king marveled and said: "Certes, here there was a lovely adventure, and I will never be content until I have all three before me: King Pelinor, and Tor, and his mother, who will make us certain of this."

"Then send for the mother," said Merlin, "for you have Tor here, and Pelinor will be with you today."

"But you," said the king, "must send for her, for you know where she is."

And the king said that with his advice he would send someone to find her. And so it remains to tell how Tor was made aware whose son he was, and the story turns to speak of what succeeded to King Pelinor, who followed his road in a great hurry to go after the knight who took the damsel, and it grieved him much that he had delayed so long. And when he was near the forest, he found a young man who came on a skinny and weary hack, and he asked him if he had found a knight who had taken a damsel.

"Yes," he said to the king, "but he is very far from here; but I never saw a damsel make such great moan."

"By what road is he going?" said the king.

"Lord," he said, "he goes straight to a place which is called Vivas, by the great road."

Then the young man parted from the king, and the king put himself on the road on which the knight was going, and he then found the track of the knight, and set himself to ride; and he traveled so far that he found a very beautiful damsel near a fountain, and she had her wounded lover near her, and she made great dole, and cried from the heart, and he passed by like one who had no will to delay. And when she saw him pass, she cried out and said, "In God's name, knight, turn back and do me a good deed in which you will receive little labor."

And he understood the damsel, but he did not choose to turn back, for he had much to do. And when she saw that he did not return, she began to make greater dole than before, and she said to him, "Ah, evil and arrogant knight! May God make you live so long that you have a need as great as I have now, and that you beg help when you are in need, and that you find no more help than I find in you."

After she said this, she fell in a faint; but with all this he did not choose to delay, for it seemed to him that he greatly delayed in reaching the knight who had taken the damsel. And when she looked at her husband, who was already dead from a great wound he had through his breast, she called herself ill-chanced and caitiff, and the most unfortunate of all those born, and she said that since her husband had died for lack of help, that she could have no help but the succor of God, since she did not wish to live any longer. She took her lover's sword and struck herself through the breast with it, so that the point came out the other side, and fell dead to the earth; and King Pelinor who paid no attention, rode as fast as he could, and when it came to the hour of vespers, he found a peasant who walked along with a woodcutter's axe and asked him, "Tell me, friend. Did you see a knight who carried a damsel with him?"

And the peasant said: "Lord, I certainly did see him. And it happened that he passed through a plain, and a knight came out of a tent and told him that he would not carry off the damsel, for she was his first cousin, and that he would instead fight with him, and he would take her away in peace. And the knight then put the damsel on the ground, and said that he wanted battle, if she were put in such a guard that he who vanquished the other would have her. And he then put her in a tent, in the guard of two squires and two ladies, and they then began the battle, in such a manner that you will still find them at it, and I do not believe that they will finish until you arrive, if you do not delay in riding."

When King Pelinor heard this news, he was very happy and he parted from the peasant, and rode as fast as he could, since he did not think he would arrive on time, and he did not travel far before he ran into the tent where the damsel he sought was, and she was outside on the grass with other ladies and with the squires; and the knights fought strongly, and each one of them had many wounds and lost much blood, so that they had no strength and were near death, for both were very good and of good heart. And the king then went to the damsel and said to her, "You were taken from the court very wrongly, and I will return you there for that reason, for King Arthur sent me here, in whose house you were taken."

And the squires and the ladies arose and said, "Ah, sir! You will not do such villainy as to take the damsel whom we have in guard from us; but you see those two knights who gave her to us in guard. Have them command us, and we will give her to you."

"I ask no more," said the king, "and I do not wish to take her in such a manner as to grieve you, if I can have her another way."

Then he went toward the two knights and said to them, "Sirs, wait a little, and I will speak with you."

And the knights waited, and put their shields before them, and he said to them, "Sirs, this damsel for whom you fight was taken from King Arthur's court by force, and I came after her, who will return her there whence she was taken."

And they responded, "This cannot be."

"And now tell me," he said to one of them, "for what reason you wish to have her."

"Because she is my first cousin," he said, "and I wish to take her to her friends and relatives who love her very much, because they have not seen her in a long time."

"And you," he said to the other, "why do you want her?"

"Because I conquered her," he said, "by my excellence, and I took her before King Arthur and all his company and brought her here, and therefore it seems to me that I ought to have her before any other."

"Now you ought to hold yourselves fools," said the king, "because you fight for her, for neither of you will have her. This I certify you, since I will take her to the house of King Arthur whence she was taken."

"It is true," they said, "if you can have her, but first we will fight with you."

"The battle," he said, "I would not keep from you; but I will take the damsel, no matter what you say."

"Yes," they said, "if you can, and now we shall see."

Then they called their battle quits, and agreed that they would help each other until death. And when the king saw that they made ready to attack him, he said, "What? Are you eager for battle?"

"You will see," they said.

And they charged at him, their swords in their hands, and one gave him a blow on the left side of his horse, which killed it and felled it to earth. And the king, who was very agile, jumped to the other side and said, "Ah, knight! What a great villainy and evil you have done to kill my horse!"

And with the great anger he felt, he raised his sword and wounded him so hard, that he clove his head to the eyes and he fell to the earth dead, and this one was he who had taken the damsel from the court. And when the other saw this blow, he was not sure of himself, for he saw that he was alone, and felt weary and tired and badly wounded, and he pulled away and said, "Sir knight, I began this battle with you in folly, for I know that you did not come here for the damsel's dishonor, but for her honor and to avenge her on him who took her by force, and I leave her to you, since I do not think to gain much in this battle; but I beg you in God's name to guard her as the daughter of a king ought to be guarded, for know that she is the daughter of a king and queen; but she is as pleased with the hunt of wild beasts and finds such relish in it, that she wishes neither husband nor lover, but laughs at whoever speaks to her of such things."

"Now know," said the king, "that no one will be found to grieve her while I have her in guard, and I thank you very much for quitting the battle; but give me counsel about a horse, if it please you."

And the knight said to him: "I will give you a very good one; but you must stay here with me, since it is already late, for you will not find anywhere else to lodge."

The king agreed, because he saw that he was telling the truth. And that night the king was in the country, in one of the knight's tents. And in the morning, after he had dressed, he took his arms, and his host gave him a good horse, and the king thanked him very much for it. And they gave the damsel a palfrey, and both then rode away, and the knight went a league with them and then returned. And since they traveled until the hour of prime, they entered a mountainous region and a valley very bad for riding, for it was all full of rocks and boulders. And the damsel's palfrey, which could not help itself, fell over a boulder, and she took such a great fall on her left arm, that she thought that she had dislocated her shoulder, and she felt such great trouble that she fainted. And when she returned to consciousness, she said, "Ah, knight! I am dead."

And he then dismounted, and put his shield and lance on the ground, and went there, and found her unconscious, and took her in his arms, and when she revived, he asked her how she felt.

And she said all trembling: "Never did I feel worse pain, since I thought that I had torn off my shoulder or arm; but it is not so, thanks to God."

"And you, do you feel well now?" said the king.

"Fine," she said, "but I cannot ride until I rest a little."

"Let it be so," said the king, "since even if we did not depart from here until the hour of vespers, we might well arrive at Camelot."

Then he took her and put her under a tree, and took some of the grass and put it under her head, and told her to go to sleep, since it would greatly benefit her; and she fell asleep, and he thought about the beasts, and took off their reins and saddles and let them graze, and he lay down to sleep at the side of his damsel, and they slept until night. When the night came, the air began to cool, and both awoke and found that it was dark night. And the king said, "By God, damsel, we have slept a lot."

"Sir," she said, "we must stay here until morning, since even if we wanted to go on we do not know the road; and when we should think we were going well, we would get lost."

The knight said: "Let it be so, since it pleases you; but tell me: how do you feel?"

"Very good," she said, "thanks to God; but I think weariness made us sleep so much."

And while they spoke of this, they heard knights who were coming along the road in front of them. The king said, "Some man will come here, from whom we will hear news."

She said: "It could be."

While they spoke of this, they saw two armed knights, one of whom came from Camelot and the other of whom was going there, and they came near them, and the knights recognized each other, as soon as one came close to the other. And they stopped to speak with each other.

And he who was going to Camelot said: "What news do you bring?"

"I bring none from which you will receive pleasure, for King Arthur has so many powerful friends, and knights, that he has the best knights of the world, and he has earned the hearts of his men, and he is very frank and so on, so that if all the kings of the islands came against him, he would not worry over them; and because of this I am returning to my lord, and I will tell him to leave off this folly he began, for he has neither the power nor the men to be able to disinherit King Arthur or throw him out of his land, and King Arthur can damage him more than he can King Arthur. And such are the news which I am bringing the king my lord. And you, who are you or where are you going?"

"I am going whence you came," said the other. "I believe that this war will be finished as soon as I arrive at the court."

"And how can that be?" said the other.

"This can very well be, since I have here a flask full of such marvelous poison, that there is no man in the world who would not die after tasting it. And in the court there is a knight whom the king greatly loves and who is his favorite, who promised my lord that he would give him this poison to drink, as soon as I bring it to him, and I am bringing it. Now I will see what he will do."

"Guard yourself," said the other knight, "so that he does not find you out; for if man must do treachery, he must do it so sagaciously that [no one knows of it save those who must do it."

"Do not worry," said the other, "for we will do it so sagaciously that][1] no one will know of it until it is done, and, if God wills, you will shortly hear such news that all our land will be frightened."

"I do not know," said the other, "how it will happen, for if I were you I would not meddle in such a thing, for it cannot be that you will not be found out and that you will not be dishonored. And because of this I would counsel you to turn back, and not to go there."

And he said that he would not turn back, since he believed he would do whatever he began well and easily.

"Then I commend you to God," said the other, "since you do not choose to believe my counsel, and do not blame me if ill comes to you from this."

"Do not fear," said the other.

And they then parted from each other, and he who had come from Camelot went to the mountain, and the other went to Camelot. And when they were some distance from there, King Pelinor who had heard all they said, said to the damsel, "Did you hear what they said?"

"Yes," she said.

"I believe for certain that our Lord placed us here to hear this news and tell it to King Arthur, for it does not please Him that he should die so soon, especially through such great disloyalty; and as God may help me, this adventure was very lovely, and it pleases me greatly that I heard this, for if God wills, I will tell it to the king, to take away the chance that he might die by such great treachery."

"Then," she said, "we ought not to delay more; let us move on then, since we will be there by mealtime, for I know truly that that disloyal knight will choose to do that treachery, if he sees the opportunity."

And the king thought a little and said: "Do not doubt; for if Merlin is in the court, he will no suffer in any manner the king to be killed thus, for he loves him with all his heart."

"What?" she said. "And Merlin is in the court?"

"Yes," said the king, "for I left him there."

She said: "The king need not fear, for Merlin knows what is done inside and outside the court, and because of this what must be truly believed is that we will find that knight dead, and the other of whom he spoke, as soon as we arrive at court."

"I well believe it," said the king.

Then they left off talking and slept until morning, and when it was morning the king arose and saddled the horses, and armed and had the damsel mount her horse, and mounted himself, and they went on their way to Camelot. They traveled so far that they arrived at the fountain where he had found the damsel who had asked him to turn back and would have spoken with him, and they found the knight dead and the damsel as well, and eaten by beasts and birds, save for the heads alone and the bones that remained there. And when the king saw this, he felt great grief and said, "Ah, God! This damsel was killed for lack of my help, for if I had turned back when she called me and succored her, she would not have died so. Ah, God, what a sinner and caitiff I am, since this evil adventure came to me for my sins, and this damsel and this knight were killed because of me!"

And he began to make great dole, for he wished to die, and called himself caitiff, more than all other knights. And the damsel who heard this, felt great grief and said to him, "Sir, what is this you do? Certes, I never saw a man as small-hearted as you, who cry for the death of a damsel. Do not do it, for it is not good. Certes, no one who heard this would not think you small-souled."

And the king responded with great grief: "Certes, damsel, if I feel pain, it is no marvel, since I know well and truly that this came to me for my sin."

"Why do you want to kill yourself?" she said. "Since this is already done, and you ought to think that if you make such great moan, nothing will come to you from it but ill."

"It is true," he said, "but it grieves me, since I feel guilty; but counsel me what to do."

She said, "Take the damsel's head to court so that they know of this marvel, and take the knight to that hermitage where he will be buried."

And she showed him the hermitage, which was near a high cliff, and he said that this was the best counsel that she had. Then he gave the head to the damsel, who carried it tied before her, and he took the knight and put him before him, and took him to the hermitage, and found that the hermit did not leave his cell, and he went down into a little enclosure of the chapel, and put the knight inside, and told the hermit how he had found the knight dead, and that he did not know the manner in which he had died, and he begged him to have the knight buried. And the hermit told him that after he had finished his mass that he would bury him inside his chapel, and that he could do him no greater honor.

"Sir," said the king, "you say well."

The hermit did as he had said, and after he had done it, the king thanked him very much, and departed from there with his damsel; and they went to Camelot speaking of whatever pleased them, and they arrived at the hour of vespers. And when those of the court saw the king and the damsel return, they were amazed, even more so that he came back in fine shape, and they received him very honorably, and King Arthur was very happy with him, for he loved him greatly. And as soon as he was disarmed, he took the damsel by the hand and said, "King, see here my quest well fulfilled."

"Yes, certainly," said the king, "and God be thanked. Never did I hear tell of men to whom such good came as to all three of you who left here. Not one of you did not come back healthy and good, and all of you finished your quests."

Then they brought the holy Gospels, and King Pelinor swore, just like the others. And King Arthur commanded him to recount all that had befallen him in the quest, and King Pelinor told it all, as it had succeeded, and how he had heard tell of the poison which was to be given to the king.

"By God," said the king, "we were advised of this, since Merlin revealed it all, and those who chose to do such treachery are already known."

And he told him all that had befallen, as it was said before, and he showed him the head of the damsel who had called to him on his way out, and whom he had found dead on his return, and God was witness to the grief he felt for her.

"Certes," said the king, "it is right that you should feel great grief, for you are greatly to blame; for I well and truly believe that if you had returned, that the damsel would not have died and that she would have found some counsel in you."

And Merlin arrived as the king was saying this and said to King Pelinor, "Lord, do you know who the damsel is?"

"Certainly not," said the king, "and I would wish to know."

And Merlin began to think and said, "Certes, lord, there is no man as good as you in all the household of King Arthur, nor anywhere else would he find such great loyalty, if he needed it; but, certes, our Lord always sends anger and grief to the good and righteous in this world, which he does not do to the evil men, and this ought to console you greatly in this matter of the damsel."

"Merlin," said King Arthur, "you say true, since this always happens as you say."

"Lord Merlin," said King Pelinor, "in God's name, you who know all things, which will be hidden to us, tell me what I shall ask you, and if you make me certain, you will do me a great signal honor."

"I know," said Merlin, "what you wish to ask. Wait, and I will tell you, so obscurely that you will not understand it. You want me to tell you who that damsel is whose head you brought here. I will not tell you her name now, nor who her father and mother were, but I will tell you one word by which you may know her, if you are wise. Remember the time you were in Monter, two years ago, in one of your cities, and you held court there, and a great fellowship of knights came there from far and near."

"I remember it well," said King Pelinor, "and I was never so happy as I was that day."

"It could well be," said Merlin, "and now I will tell you why I said that to you. When you were at table with your noblemen, and dressed in royal clothing and your crown on your head, and when they had brought you your meal, a man came before you who said to you: `King, take that crown off your head, for it does not suit you well; and if you do not take it off, the son of the dead king will take it off you, and so you will lose it and that will be no great marvel, for because of your evil and your idleness you will leave lions to eat your meat. This same year you will be put in another's power.' Thus that man told you significances of your death, and that you would enter the power of another; although he did not know what he was saying, but said what came into his mouth."

"Certes," said the king, "he said all that to me, and I know something of it; and what he told me about entering the power of another is true, for I am in the company of my lord King Arthur; but what he told me about leaving lions to eat my meat, I do not know what it is, if you do not know it."

Merlin said: "You will know it afterwards, for he told you nothing which will not happen to you. And if he told you that the son of the dead king would take away your crown, and it does not happen, he will have lied to you. Certes, when this happens, it will be a great harm to the kingdom of Londres."

"Even with all this," said the king, "you do not tell me what I asked you: who the damsel was."

"I have already told you what I could," said Merlin, "and I will reveal no more to you, because you will shortly know it, and when you find out, believe that you will never have felt such grief. And I will even tell you more that you did not know."

And because of the great pleasure he took in knowing it, he begged him to tell him, and not for anything in the world to hide a bit of it, "since I know that you do not tell me anything to my detriment."

"Certes," said Merlin, "that is true, and I choose to tell you because you beg me to do so. Did you hear what the damsel told you, when you passed: `Ah evil and arrogant knight! May God make you live so long that you have as great a need of help as I have now, and that you find no more help than I have found in you'? The damsel said all that to you."

"It is true," said the king.

"Certes," said Merlin, "she was such a holy damsel and such a good woman, that our Lord heard her plea. Believe that all will come to you as she begged God, that you will die for lack of help, just as she did. Then a word will be fulfilled which was spoken to you the first day you took the crown; and I will tell you which, and I know you will remember. When your archbishops and bishops crowned you, and you heard mass and went before the altar, and began to beg Our Lord with tears to defend you, so that you would not die by someone's failure, a voice came to you and told you to be without fear or fault. And that was not a voice, but the answer and mandate of God, which said: `King Pelinor, just as you fail your flesh and blood, your flesh and blood will fail you.'"

"Certes," said the king, "so truly that word was, and I think about it a lot, for I cannot understand what it means. And therefore I would and do beg you who know it to tell me."

"This I would not tell you," said Merlin, "in any way, for there is no reason I should reveal the things which the high Master placed in your will, and know that no man who lives in the world can tell you save I, and because of this you will not know until the day of your death; but then without fail you will know as well as I do."

"Now let my life and death be," said the king, "according to the will of Him who made me; for if He chooses, I will be lost, and if He chooses, I will escape all peril."

Then tears began to fall from his eyes. And Merlin said:

"You do not need to be of faint heart, for no one who is not God can hinder the will of God."

"Leave this be," said Arthur, "and let us speak of other things. Do not grieve at death, for old and young alike must pass that road, since none will escape it."

They spoke of these things and many others that day, and Merlin said that if they wished to know whose son Tor was, he would make them see. The king said that he greatly wished to know.

[1] Once again, the Burgos edition is missing text, which has been supplied from the Demanda.