| 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 HIS FRIENDS
IR LANCELOT was acknowledged by all the knights of the
Round Table to be the bravest of their number, and the
one whom the king loved most. He was not often at
court, because he was nearly always engaged in
adventures which took him away from the town of
Camelot. The knights were always sorry when he went
away, yet they were sure he would return safely and
with much to tell them.
One day Sir Lancelot called his nephew Sir Lionel, and
told him to mount his horse, for they must go to seek
adventures. Sir Lionel was very glad, for it was a
great honor to be chosen as a
 companion by Sir Lancelot. They rode off through a deep
forest, and then across a wide, treeless plain. The sun
was shining hot and bright, and when they reached a
clump of trees, Sir Lancelot bade Sir Lionel dismount.
Then the two sat in the shade to rest.
It was not long before Sir Lancelot fell asleep. While
Sir Lionel kept guard, he saw three knights furiously
pursued by another knight, who was very large. This
knight overtook the three knights, one after another,
and overthrew them, and bound them by the reins of
their bridles. Sir Lionel, who was young and
self-confident, thought that he would like to fight
with this knight. So he mounted his horse very quietly
without waking his uncle, and rode into the plain.
When the big knight saw him coming, he laughed and rode
up quickly. At the very first stroke, young Sir Lionel
fell to the earth. The strong knight bound him fast to
the other three knights and drove them all to his
castle. There he took off their armor and clothes, and
beat them with thorny sticks. After that he threw
 them into a deep dungeon where there were many other
Meanwhile Sir Hector, the foster father of King Arthur,
hearing that Sir Lancelot and Sir Lionel had gone in
search of adventures, determined to join them; so he
rode hastily in pursuit. When he had gone some distance
through the forest, he met a wood-cutter, and asked him
if he had seen Sir Lancelot and Sir Lionel. The man
replied that he had not.
"Then do you know of any adventure which I can seek?"
asked Sir Hector.
The man answered:
"Sir, a mile from here is a strong castle. On one side
of it is a large stream, and by that stream a large
tree. At the foot of the tree is a basin of copper. Go
and strike on that three times with your spear and you
will meet with an adventure."
"Thank you heartily," said Sir Hector.
He rode on and soon came to the tree. Hanging on it
were a great many shields, and among them Sir Lionel's.
There were also shields which belonged to other Knights
of the Round Table. Sir Hector
 knew that the knights must be prisoners, and he grew
He struck sharply on the copper basin, and at once a
huge knight appeared.
"Come forward and fight!" cried the knight.
"That I will," said Sir Hector.
"But I shall win," said the knight, "for I am the great
Sir Hector had heard of this powerful knight whom so
many of Arthur's lords had tried in vain to overthrow.
But he was a brave old man, and so he began to fight
fearlessly. He wounded the big knight once, but the
knight wounded him many times, and at last overcame
him. He picked Sir Hector up and carried him under his
right arm into the castle.
"You are very brave," he said, when they had reached
the great hall. "you are the first knight who has
wounded me these twelve years. Now I will give you your
freedom if you will swear to be a follower of mine."
"I will never swear that," said Sir Hector; "I am a
follower of King Arthur."
"I am sorry for that," said Sir
Tur-  quaine, "for now I must treat you as I do all my other
Then he took off Sir Hector's armor and clothes, and
beat him with the thorny stick, and threw him into the
dungeon. There the old man found Sir Lionel and many
"Is Sir Lancelot here?" asked Sir Hector, feebly.
"No," said Sir Lionel, and told how he had left Sir
Then Sir Hector became cheerful.
"Sir Lancelot will surely find us," he said, "and give
us our freedom."
But Sir Lancelot still slept on under the tree. Soon
four beautiful ladies rode by, and, seeing a sleeping
knight, dismounted to look at him. They at once
recognized him as Sir Lancelot, the bravest knight in
the land. One of these ladies was Morgan le Fay, whom
Arthur had forgiven for her treachery to him. She said
to her companions:
"I will cast a spell over him, and we will carry him to
my castle. Then, when he wakes, we will make him choose
one of us as his wife."
 The other three agreed, and Morgan le Fay cast her
spell. Then the four women lifted the knight upon his
horse and went with him to the castle of Morgan le Fay.
They put the knight in a richly decorated chamber and
In the morning he awoke and wondered where he was. Soon
a fair damsel entered with food, and he asked her to
explain how he came to be in that place.
"Sir, I cannot," she said. "But I can tell you this
much: you are under a spell. In twelve hours the spell
will break, and perhaps I can help you then."
After the damsel had gone out the four ladies entered.
They were clad in most beautiful robes. One had on silk
that looked like the foam of the sea. Another had on
velvet that seemed like moss from the forest. The third
wore satin that was the color of maple leaves in
autumn. Morgan le Fay wore a robe that looked like a
storm-cloud, and her diamonds were like stars.
"Choose one of us for your wife," she said, "and you
shall be very happy."
But Sir Lancelot said:
 "Fair ladies, I have no wish to marry. I would rather
fight for my good King Arthur who needs me."
At this the ladies were angry.
"You shall stay here till you choose,[should have a
close quote"] they said. "And if you will not choose,
then you shall die in prison."
They went out, and Sir Lancelot remained alone all day.
At dusk the fair damsel came to him.
"My lord," she said, "the spell is broken now, and I
can help you. These ladies are not kind to me, and I am
going to run away. I will take you with me on one
"Name it, damsel," he said.
"I am a king's daughter," she said. My father is King
"He is a good man," Sir Lancelot said. "I know him
"My father has been fighting in a tournament," said the
maiden, "and has been overcome, with all his knights.
He feels very sad. Now, in two days there will be
another tournament at which he must fight. If you will
help him, he will surely win and be happy again."
 "I will gladly help him," said Sir Lancelot.
Then the damsel bade him walk softly with her. She
opened twelve great doors one after another. Each had a
lock with a key so heavy that the maiden had to use
both hands to turn it. At last they reached the
courtyard, and there she gave Sir Lancelot his horse
and armor. She also mounted a horse, and the two rode
After riding all night, they came to the court of King
Bagdemagus. He was overjoyed to welcome Sir Lancelot,
for well he knew that none could overcome that good
knight in combat. All day there was music and dancing
and feasting. Sir Lancelot, however, could not be
merry. He kept thinking of his nephew, Sir Lionel, and
wondering where he was.
On the morning of the tournament Sir Lancelot asked
King Bagdemagus to furnish him with a white shield,
because he did not want to be known. The king did so,
and also gave each of the three knights who rode with
him a shield of the same color. Sir Lancelot went
 with the knights into a little leafy wood near the
field where the tournament was to be held.
Meanwhile King Bagdemagus rode to the tournament with
sixty men, and met there the king of Northgalis with
eighty men. They began to fight, and soon those on the
side of King Bagdemagus began to be worsted. Then Sir
Lancelot, with the three knights, dashed out of the
little wood and into the thick of the fight.
No one could stand against Sir Lancelot. One of King
Arthur's knights, Sir Modred, the brother of Sir Gawain
and Sir Gareth, was fighting against King Bagdemagus.
Not knowing who Sir Lancelot was, he rushed upon him.
Sir Lancelot unhorsed him, but would not hurt him
because he was a Knight of the Round Table. Years
afterward he was sorry he had not killed him, for Sir
Modred proved to be a traitor to King Arthur.
Sir Lancelot fought so well that, for his sake, all the
prizes of the tournament were given to King Bagdemagus,
who was greatly rejoiced, and offered large
 gifts to Sir Lancelot, and begged him to be his guest
for a time. But Sir Lancelot was so anxious to find out
what had become of Sir Lionel that he could not remain.
So the next day he set forth.
He rode back towards the clump of trees where he had
fallen asleep while Sir Lionel kept watch. On the
highway he met a damsel riding on a white palfrey.
"Fair damsel," said Sir Lancelot, "can you tell me of
any adventures hereabouts? I am Sir Lancelot of the
"Oh, Sir Lancelot," said she, "It is indeed fortunate
that you have come, for there is here a knight named
Sir Turquaine who has put in prison many of the Knights
of the Round Table. You shall fight with him for the
freedom of your friends."
Then she turned her horse, and Sir Lancelot gladly
followed her. She brought him to the tree on which hung
the shields of his brother knights. Sir Lancelot let
his horse drink a little water, and then he struck on
the iron basin at the foot of the tree so fiercely that the
bottom fell out.
HE STRUCK SO FIERCELY THE
BOTTOM FELL OUT
No one appeared, however. Then he
 rode up to the castle of Sir Turquaine. Near the gate
he met the big knight. He was on foot, driving his
horse before him. On the horse lay a knight, securely
bound. Sir Lancelot recognized him as Sir Gaheris, the
brother of Sir Gawain and Sir Gareth.
"Put down the knight," said Sir Lancelot. "Mount and
"Gladly," said Sir Turquaine. "Before long you will be
sorry for your challenge."
Then the two rode at each other. Their horses' feet
beat the dust into clouds, and they used their swords
so fiercely that their armor rang continually like the
clanging of heavy bells. They fought until they were
breathless, each bleeding from many wounds. Then Sir
Turquaine, leaning on his sword, said:
"By my faith, never have I fought with such a strong
man before. I admire you, and I would be your friend.
You fight as they say that knight does whom I hate most
in all this world. If you are not that knight, I give
you my friendship, and shall free all my prisoners for
 "That is well said," replied Sir Lancelot. "Tell me who
this knight is whom you hate so much."
"He is Sir Lancelot of the Lake. For hatred of him, I
kill or imprison all the knights of the Round Table
whom I can find.
"Then let us begin to fight again," said Sir Lancelot,
"for I am Sir Lancelot of the Lake."
Then they struck at each other furiously, and soon gave
each other so many wounds that the ground was covered
with blood. Sir Turquaine was a brave man, but he was
not so strong as Sir Lancelot. After a long conflict he
fell, mortally wounded, to the ground. Then Sir
Lancelot unlaced his helmet and eased him as well as he
could till he died. Afterwards he left Sir Turquaine,
and went to the porter who held the keys of the castle.
Sir Lancelot took the keys and unlocked the doors of
the prison. He led the poor knights out into the
daylight and struck off their chains. Sir Lionel and
Sir Hector were overjoyed to see that their deliverer
was indeed Sir Lancelot.
 Each knight found his own armor in the armory, and his
own horse in the stables. After that a servant came
with four horses laden down with venison, and the poor
knights, who for a long time had had nothing but bread
and water, enjoyed a good meal. Then Sir Lancelot rode
away in search of new adventures.
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