| King Arthur and His Knights|
|by Maude Radford Warren|
|Twenty-one stories from the Arthurian legends specially selected and adapted for children and told in simple well-written prose. The stirring tales of these chivalrous knights awaken the readerís admiration for courage and gentleness and high sense of honor essential in all ages. Ages 9-12 |
SIR LANCELOT AND SIR BRUNE
FTER Sir Brune, the Knight with the Badly Made Coat, had
been at Arthur's Court for some months, he became eager
to seek for the enemy of his father. Sir Lancelot, who
took an interest in the big young knight, advised him
to wait and try his strength at some smaller adventure
One day, when Sir Lancelot was away hunting, a damsel
entered Arthur's hall. She carried a black shield which
had painted on it a white hand holding a sword. She
bowed to the king and said:
"My lord, I come for a knight to undertake the
adventure of the black shield."
"And what is that adventure, fair damsel?" asked the
 "That I may not tell you," answered the damsel, "except
that it will cause much fighting and bloodshed to the
knight who chooses it."
Some of the knights were eager to go, and Sir Kay
pressed forward to finger the shield.
"Do not touch it, good Sir Kay," said the maiden, "for
this adventure is not for you. I am to choose the
She passed up and down the hall, looking into the face
of each one. When she had seen them all she came back
to Sir Brune and said:
"Young Knight with the Ugly Coat, will you take this
"Gladly, if my king allows," said the knight.
Then Arthur gave his permission, and Sir Brune followed
the damsel out of the hall. Her horse was black, and
wore white trappings. Sir Brune's horse was as brown
as an autumn leaf. The two mounted and rode away. Sir
Brune began to talk to the damsel, whose name was
Elinor. At first she was agreeable, but after they had
ridden many miles
 she became scornful, and told him she was sorry she had
Sir Brune felt sad, because he had begun to love the
damsel. He was afraid she did not like him because his
coat was poor. He did not speak to her any more, but
rode on sorrowfully beside her. After a long time they
came to a castle enclosed by high walls. The gate stood
open, and the damsel Elinor pointed to it and said,
"Since you have not left me as I hoped you would, go in
there. You will find your first adventure. I may not
tell you what it is.
Sir Brune galloped inside the gate. There he saw a
hundred knights on horseback, armed and waiting for
him. He had to think and act quickly. So he decided to
rush in between the knights and put his back against
the castle wall. Then he could fight with his back
protected. He did this, though not without receiving
some spear-wounds. Then he began to fight.
The lady of the castle, whom the knights were keeping
 the fight out of the window, and grieved for the brave
young man who had so many against him. She began to
speak to him in a low voice:
"Young knight, if you can only get to the left side of
the castle wall, there is a secret door through which
you can escape. If you look, you will see that one
portion of the wall is made of black stones. Strike the
stones with the hilt of your sword, and a door will
open through which you can ride out."
The other knights did not hear what the lady said, for
they were farther away from her than Sir Brune was.
Even he could hardly catch her words. He took a quick
glance to the left and saw that there was indeed a
portion of the wall marked with black stones. Then he
began to work his way carefully towards the secret
He was obliged to move slowly for fear the knights
would guess what he was doing. Moreover, it was
becoming very hard to fight, because of his many
wounds. However, he at last came near the door; then he
backed his brown horse up
 against it, struck the black with the handle of his
sword, and the door opened. The knights shouted with
rage, but they were unable to reach him in time. Sir
Brune escaped, leaving behind him twelve men dead.
He was very weak, and he made his way painfully to the
side of the wall where the maiden Elinor waited for
him. She ran to meet him, and led him gently to a brook
in a forest near by. There she took off his armor and
bathed his wounds, anointing them with a precious salve
Sir Brune thought that she was sorry because she had
been scornful of him, and he began to talk to her. But
"Do not talk to me. If you want to please me, go back
to Arthur's Court."
Sir Brune did not know why she spoke so, but he was too
tired to think. So he lay down on the grass by the
brook and went to sleep.
Meantime, at Arthur's Court Sir Lancelot had returned
from his hunting expedition, and was told how Sir Brune
 had gone out with a damsel on the adventure of the
"Oh!" cried Sir Lancelot, "what have you done! He will
surely be killed. Merlin has told me what this
adventure of the shield is. Many and many a knight has
taken it up and each has been killed. A knight who vows
to follow this adventure has to meet dangers of all
sorts. This young untried Sir Brune will certainly be
He called for his horse and arms, and said to the king:
"My lord, I will ride after this poor young man and
give him what help I can. Perhaps I shall be too late;
but if not, I shall ask him to give me this adventure
of the shield."
Then Sir Lancelot mounted his horse and rode after Sir
Brune. When he came near the brook where Sir Brune and
the damsel had rested, he heard the sound of a great
combat. Spurring forward he saw Sir Brune, fighting
single-handed against six knights. Sir Lancelot rushed
to the rescue and quickly overthrew the enemy. He found
 belonged to the company of the hundred knights whom Sir
Brune had attacked. He ordered them, first of all, to
free the lady of the castle, and then to go to Arthur's
Court and surrender themselves to the mercy of the
Poor Sir Brune was almost dead, but Sir Lancelot
revived him, and in a feeble voice he thanked Sir
Lancelot for his help. But the damsel begged:
"Take him back to the Court of your king. I do not want
him to follow this quest any longer."
"This is surely ungrateful of you," said Sir Lancelot.
"He has fought bravely and well."
"The maiden scorns me, though I love her," bitterly
said Sir Brune.
Then the damsel Elinor cried out:
"I will tell the truth. I love you and I am afraid you
will be killed. Therefore, I wish you to return to
Sir Brune was very glad, and he said:
"I have pledged my word and must follow this quest.
When I have succeeded we shall go together back to
 "Give this adventure to me," said Sir Lancelot, "and go
back now with the damsel."
But Sir Brune refused. Then Sir Lancelot said that they
must undertake the adventure together, and Sir Brune
consenting, they rode slowly forward. Soon they came to
an abbey, where they rested for some days until Sir
Brune was well.
Then they traveled as the damsel gave directions. She
always knew what they had to do. At times they passed
through woods full of wild beasts, some of which
attacked them. Again they passed over enchanted meadows
where wicked magicians tried to cast spells over them.
They also fought with many knights. However, they
escaped all dangers, although it is certain that Sir
Brune would never have succeeded without the help of
At length the damsel Elinor told them that they were
nearing the last adventure. She pointed to a castle on
a hill; a square structure built of black stones, with
a turret on top. The damsel told
 them that at the gate of the castle were two huge
dragons. These they must slay.
"Whose is the castle?[should include a close quote
"It belongs now to the wicked Lord Brian of the Isles,"
answered the damsel.
At this Sir Brune gave such a loud shout that the
dragons on top of the hill heard him and roared in
"Ah!" cried he, "that is the name of my enemy, who
killed my dear father. At last I shall slay him."
He rode off so quickly that Sir Lancelot had much
trouble to keep up with him. It seemed scarcely five
minutes before they came to the dragons; terrible
creatures, all of green, with eyes and tongues of
flame. And their wings were as large as the sails of a
Sir Brune had never before seen a dragon, but he was
not afraid. He fought very bravely, and even when the
teeth of the dragons crunched on his helmet, he did not
lose courage. After a fierce fight of half an hour, the
two knights had killed the dragons.
They hoped to rest, but at that moment
 the castle gate opened and a porter appeared.
"Enter and fight," he said.
Both spurred forward, but the porter said:
"Only one may enter."
"Let me go," said Sir Brune to Sir Lancelot. "Remember
I am to avenge my father's death. It may be that Lord
Brian of the Isles is waiting just inside the gate."
Sir Lancelot consented, and the porter led in Sir Brune
and locked the gate. Inside were two great knights, the
brothers of Lord Brian of the Isles. They were almost
as large as Sir Brune. Together they set upon him. He
was already tired from his fight with the dragons, but
his desire to avenge his father strengthened his arm.
One brother was soon overthrown. When the other saw
that, he yielded. Then Sir Brune sent them both to Sir
Lancelot outside the gate.
While Sir Brune was looking about him, a third knight
appeared at the end of the courtyard. He was quite as
large as Sir Brune, and as he came spurring up, the
 noise of his horse's hoofs was deafening. Sir Brune
recognized him as Sir Plenorius, the cousin of Lord
"Ah," cried he, "where is that wretch, Lord Brian? Am I
to fight with all his family before I meet with him?"
Sir Plenorius wasted no words. He rushed upon Sir Brune
and struck him with his long spear. The blow broke Sir
Brune's helmet, and he had much trouble to guard his
head with his shield. He fought courageously, but he
became weaker and weaker. Then Sir Plenorius stopped
"I know you will never yield," he said. "You are the
bravest knight I have yet seen. In truth I loved your
good father, and grieved because my cousin slew him. I
have no love for my cousin, Lord Brian of the Isles,
but I am vowed to fight for him as long as he lives, or
until I am overcome."
Sir Brune was about to answer, but he fell back in a
swoon. Sir Plenorius lifted him gently in his arms and
bore him into the castle. He carried him up the winding
stairs to the turret room, and gently
 laid him on a bed. Then he went back to the courtyard.
Meantime, Sir Lancelot, hearing the porter shout that
Sir Brune was killed, beat on the gate, but nobody
would let him in. Then with great difficulty he
climbed the castle wall and leaped down. Sir Plenorius
was just about to care for the horse of Sir Brune.
"Give me back my friend!" cried Sir Lancelot, fiercely.
"Where is my friend?"
Then he began to fight with Sir Plenorius. Sir
Plenorius was so much larger than Sir Lancelot that he
thought he could easily overcome him. As the fight went
on, however, he found himself all but defeated.
"Yield now to me," said Sir Lancelot. "I am Sir
Lancelot of the Lake."
Then Sir Plenorius said:
"Ah, my good lord, I know of your fame, if we go on
fighting, you will certainly kill me. Yet I do not want
to yield, so I ask you to treat me as I have treated
When Sir Lancelot heard how Sir Plenorius had spared
Sir Brune, he said:
 "You are a gentle knight. I am sorry you are vowed to
the service of Lord Brian of the Isles. He shall surely
Sir Plenorius answered:
"When he is dead, I will come to Arthur's Court as one
of his followers."
All this time Sir Brune was lying in a swoon on the bed
in the turret room. But at last he came to himself and
looked about him. He saw near him his sword and shield;
so he lifted them up beside him. As he lay still,
trying to recover his strength, he heard stealthy
footsteps coming up the turret stairs. They came nearer
and nearer. Suddenly, in rushed Lord Brian of the
Isles. He knew that Sir Brune was there, alone and
wounded, and he intended to kill him as he lay
defenseless. Sir Brune understood this and he cried:
"Ah, wretch, you were ever a
coward. You come to kill me as I lie wounded here, just
as you killed my poor father while he slept. But the
sight of you makes me forget my wounds."
At these words, and at the fierce rage
 which shone in Sir Brune's eyes, Lord Brian, who was
indeed a coward, tried to retreat. But Sir Brune sprang
to the doorway.
"You shall never go down by these stairs, villain," he
said, "for I will kill you!"
Lord Brian rushed to the window and sprang out upon the
battlements. Sir Brune followed him, though with
difficulty. The two began to fight, and Sir Brune soon
saw that his enemy was trying to push him close to the
edge of the battlements, that he might fall down into
the courtyard below.
Sir Brune, at this, put himself behind Lord Brian,
determined to cast him off instead. Slowly he pushed
him, until Lord Brian was but a step from the edge.
Then Sir Brune lifted his shield and struck his enemy
with it. The wicked lord lost his footing, and was
dashed to pieces at the feet of Sir Lancelot and Sir
Plenorius in the courtyard below.
HIM UNTIL HE WAS BUT A STEP FROM THE EDGE
They ordered his soldiers to bury him, and while Sir
Lancelot went to care for Sir Brune, Sir Plenorius went
 hill to find the damsel Elinor. She came back with
tears of joy to Sir Brune.
When Sir Brune was well enough to travel, he visited
all the castles of Lord Brian, in search of his lost
mother. He was very much afraid that she was dead, but
at last he found her alive, in the very castle which
had belonged to his father. There was great joy at
their meeting. He took her to Arthur's Court, whither
Sir Lancelot had already conducted the damsel Elinor. A
few days afterward Sir Brune and the damsel were
married amid great festivities.
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