Chapter 33:

How Merlin made Tor's mother tell who Tor's father was, and his father appeared to be King Pelinor

Merlin said to King Arthur, "Lord, have Tor's mother come before you, and you will see whether what I told you is the truth."

And the king sent for her, and, when the messenger arrived, she marveled that the king wanted her, and came then to the palace, and sent her man and a page to let the king know that she had come and to ask his command. The king, when he heard this, went apart to a room, and had Merlin and King Pelinor and others of the best men in his household come with him, and the king seated himself, and had Tor's mother enter, and when she had entered, Merlin said to the lady, "Lady, you see here King Arthur, who is your lord, who begs you to introduce to him the father of this knight."

And he showed her Tor, and she answered and said, "Lord, his father may, if he chooses, introduce himself to you very well, for he is a poor man, a laborer of the earth, and I believe you saw him once, for he brought Tor here to be made a knight."

"Lady," said Merlin, "we ask no more about he who raised Tor, but he who engendered him. We know well and truly that Tor came from no peasant, but a man of high birth, and I know this better than you, since I know the hour and the end for which he was engendered."

[And then the lady was very angry and very frightened, and she blushed with shame, and said, "What is your name, lord, who dares to tell the truth about my deeds?"

"Ah, lady," he said, "my name is Merlin, and the more you see me, the less you will know me."][1]

"Certes," said the lady, "I believe you, since the devil has the power to teach his knowledge in so many forms and ways, that there is no man in the world so wise that he cannot be deceived by him sometimes. And I know, just as many say, that you were the son of the devil, so that it is no marvel that I should not recognize you when I see you, for the devil covers his tracks and hides himself always as best he can."

Then those who were there began to laugh, and said to Merlin, "What do you think of this lady?"

Merlin said, "I can say nothing but good of her, for the good lady is telling the truth, but she does not choose to understand what I say; but I will tell you why she does this."

And she answered angrily, with the ire she felt for him, and said, "Now I know without fail, Merlin, that you are not the same as the other devils. This we know, since they always want the sins of everyone to be hidden, so that they do not leave the sinner's mouth, if not by disgrace or insult; and you want me to reveal mine, and I will reveal it; but believe that God will not bless you for it, for you do not do it for love of him or to make amends to me, but to show off your knowledge."

Then the noblemen said, "Merlin, does this lady not seem wise to you?"

Merlin said, "And such a good lady, that I would suffer her to say worse things about me than she has."

Then the lady said to the king, "Certes, sir, I will not lie to you, but I will tell you everything, since I must tell. Know that Tor, my son, is not my husband's son; but a knight begot him in me the week I was married, since he slept with me on a mountain when I was yet virgin. When I was a young girl, a knight came to me and slept with me, and I conceived this son of him, and God knows this well, and never afterward did I see that knight nor hear news of him; and, certes, he had me virgin, for I was no older than fifteen."

And the king said, "In all this you are telling me, you do not say who Tor's father is."

"Certes," she said, "I do not, since I do not know."

Then Merlin began to laugh and said, "If he were shown to you, would you recognize him?"

"No," she said, "as I believe; for I only saw him once, and that a long time ago."

And Merlin said, "Then know that he is here among us."

And he took King Pelinor by the hand and said to her, "Lady, see him here."

And she crimsoned with shame and he as well. And Merlin said, "I will give you signs by which you may know it is he. You found her in a small copse, and a hound and a mastiff were near her, and you had all your men go before you, because you pretended that you wanted to speak with a hermit about penance, and this was three bow-shots from a castle whose name is Amina. And you, when you saw her to be so beautiful, dismounted, and gave her the horse to hold until you disarmed, and you slept with her twice to her great grief. And after you had fulfilled your desire, you said to her, `I believe that you are pregnant.'

"And you armed, mounted your horse, and wished to take her with you; but she did not so wish, but began to flee as fast as she could cursing you from the heart. And when you saw that she did not want to go with you, you took her hound, which was all white, and carried it away, and said that you would love and guard it for love of her, and it befell just as I say. Now see, king, if I tell the truth."

"Certainly," said the king, "you have missed nothing, since everything was just as you say."

Then Merlin said to the lady, "Lady, does it seem to you that I am telling the truth?"

"Yes," she said. "And how those who give testimony against you err, when they say that you do not tell the truth about all things!"

"Do you know this man?"

She said, "Yes I know him, by that wound which was healed in this court."

The king said, "And do you believe for certain that this was Tor's father?"

"Yes," she said, "I know it in truth."

Then Merlin said to Tor, "Now you may see and know that you are not the son of a peasant, for, certes, if you were a peasant's son, you would have no memory of knighthood; but noble birth must show itself, however enclosed and hidden it may be."

Then he said to King Pelinor, "Now you have gained as much as you lost; for you recover one and lose another."

And the king begged him to help him understand that better.

"I will not tell you now," said Merlin, "but you will know shortly, and you would gain nothing if I told you now; but this much I will tell you, that this is your son and you should love him, for he will demonstrate that he is your son in chivalry, for if he lives long enough, there will be only a few knights in this household better than he."

So those who were there were very happy. And King Pelinor ran to Tor, and Tor to him, and the father kissed the son and the son the father many times, and Tor said that he held himself fortunate that King Pelinor was his father, and King Pelinor said the same of Tor, and that he held himself for the richest man in the world, for he saw so much good in Tor's beginning that he knew that he would not fail to be a good man if he lived. And the lady, as soon as she saw matters stood thus, said farewell to King Arthur, and kissed her son and said to him, "Son, you were raised in poverty, and Our Lord loves you so, that he chooses to raise you up and put you in the way of good fortune; therefore give thanks to Our Lord, for he is powerful enough to exalt you and to lower you and return you to nothing, and you should look well to this, for he gave you only one soul to guard; and if you do right, then he will hold you as good and as his loyal knight; and if you put it in the power of the Other and give it to the devil, certainly, you would be better off a poor laborer like one of your brothers."

And Tor answered her, "Madam, I will think about it, if God wills."

And she then departed from the court, and many good and honorable men went with her, and King Pelinor did her much good afterwards, which is not mentioned here. And when Tor's mother departed from the court, and all these things had passed, the king asked the Huntress Damsel, as soon as he gave her the hounds and the brachet and the head of the stag, "Damsel, are we acquitted in your eyes?"

"Certes," said the damsel, "yes, since I did not believe you could do it so well. And since I lack nothing for which I came, I wish to say farewell to you and go to my lands."

"Damsel," said the king, "you will rest here first with the ladies and damsels of the queen, and I tell you that you will be feasted and honored, as much as if you were the highest lady in the world."

"God help me," said Merlin, "you do great right, knowing as I do who she is."

Then he went to the king and told him that she was the daughter of a king and queen, "and if you do her honor, all the world will be grateful to you." And the king said that he would show her all honor and love.

Then he begged the queen to take her and do her honor over all the other damsels in his household, and the queen said that she would do it very willingly, and he begged her so, that she granted that the damsel could stay with them some days. And the queen asked her what her baptismal name was, and she told her that her name was Niviana, and that she was the daughter of a good man in Little Britain, but she did not choose to say that she was the king's daughter. And, as it is said in the French chronicles, this damsel was she who was afterwards called the Damsel of the Lake, and she raised Lanzarote for a long time afterwards, and therefore he had the name Lanzarote of the Lake, just as the history of Lanzarote recounts it; but the history of the Holy Grail does not speak of this at all, but speaks of other things, as you will hear in the said chronicle.

[1] The Burgos edition has garbled the text a bit; the Seville Demanda provides a clear reading.