KING ARTHUR AND THE PRINCESS GUINEVERE
FTER Arthur had been established in his Court for some
time, his neighbor, Leodogran, the king of Cameliard
asked him for help in a battle. To this Arthur
cheerfully consented, and gathered his warrior men
It chanced, as he and his men were marching past the
castle of Leodogran to meet the enemy, the king's
daughter, Guinevere, who was the most beautiful lady in
all that land, stood on the castle wall to watch her
father's allies pass. Now she did not know, of all the
knights who rode by, which was Arthur. Many wore gold
and jewels on their armor, while the king's armor was
But Arthur saw her bending over the
 wall. She was slender and graceful; her black hair fell
in two long heavy braids over each shoulder; her eyes
were large and black. And Arthur felt a warm love
spring from his heart for her, and said to himself:
"If I win this battle for Leodogran, I shall ask him to
give me the princess Guinevere for wife."
ARTHUR SAW GUINEVERE BENDING
OVER THE WALL
His love for Guinevere made him fight even more bravely
than usual, and he soon won the battle. After he had
returned to Camelot, he told his knights that he wished
to marry the princess. They were very glad, because
they, too, had seen her and thought her the most
beautiful lady they had ever beheld.
Then Arthur said:
"I will send my three good knights, Sir Ulfius and Sir
Brastias and Sir Bedivere, to King Leodogran to ask for
The three knights set forth gaily, feeling certain that
King Leodogran would be glad to marry his daughter to
their great Arthur. When, however, they came to the
castle of Leodogran with
 their request, the king
hesitated. He bade them wait for a little while in the
room adjoining his large hall. Then he said to himself:
"Arthur has helped me, indeed. I know, too, that he is
powerful. But I hear strange stories of his birth.
There are people who say that he is not a king's son.
However great he is, I cannot give him my only daughter
unless he is really a true king, born of royal blood."
He called the oldest knight in his kingdom and said to
"Do you know anything about Arthur's birth?"
The old man looked very wise and said:
"There are two men who do know; the younger of them is
twice as old as I am. They are Merlin, and Bleys, the
master of Merlin. Bleys has written down the secret of
Arthur's birth in a book."
Then King Leodogran laughed a little and said:
"My friend, your words have not helped me much. If
Arthur had not
 helped me in my time of need more than you have helped
me now, I should have been lost indeed. Go and call Sir
Ulfius and Sir Brastias and Sir Bedivere."
So the old man brought in the three knights, and
Leodogran said to them:
"I hear strange tales of your king's birth. Some say
that he is indeed the son of the late King Uther, but
others say that he is the son of Sir Hector. Do you
believe that he is Uther's son?"
They said "Yes," and then told
King Leodogran that Sir Hector had brought up King
Arthur as his son, for fear that those who wanted the
throne would kill the child; and that Arthur was
undoubtedly Uther's son.
Still King Leodogran could not make up his mind. He
bade the three lords remain with him for a few days.
Meanwhile the beautiful Queen Bellicent came to the
Court, and Leodogran asked her advice.
"Do you think Arthur is a great king?" he asked. "Will
he always be great?"
"He is very great," said the queen. "And all his people
love him. Perhaps
 he has not many lords, but their deep love makes up for
their small number."
"That may be true," replied the king.
"Besides that," added the queen, "they are good men. As
you know, the Knights of the Round Table are bound by
vows to be kind and true and merciful and helpful."
"I have heard it," said the king.
"Moreover," went on Queen Bellicent, "Arthur has
powerful friends: Merlin, the magician, and the Lady of
the Lake, who gave him his sword Excalibur, and the
three fair queens, who will help him when he needs help
"Yes, yes," said King Leodogran, "if all this is true,
Arthur must prevail over his enemies. But is he the son
of King Uther and Queen Yguerne? You are the daughter
of Queen Yguerne by an earlier marriage, and,
therefore, Arthur's half sister if Arthur is really
Uther's son. You ought surely to know the truth."
Bellicent waited a little while, and then said:
"King Leodogran, I do not know what the truth is. There
are two stories: the
 story Merlin tells and the story Bleys tells. Merlin
says that Arthur is Uther's son, and indeed I should
like to believe it."
"But you are not sure?" asked the king.
"I am not sure. For my mother Yguerne was dark, and
King Uther was dark. Their hair and eyes were black
like mine. Yet Arthur's hair is as bright as gold.
Besides, there is the story of old Bleys."
"What is his story?"
"He says that Uther died, weeping because he had no
heir. Then Bleys and Merlin, who were present at his
death, passed together out of the castle. It was a
stormy night, and as they walked along by the lake they
were forced by the roar of the tempest to look out upon
the waves, whipped by the wind.
"Suddenly they saw a ship on the water. It had the
shape of a winged dragon. All over its decks stood a
multitude of people shining like gold. Then the ship
vanished, and a number of great waves began to roll in
 The ninth of these waves seemed as large as half the
sea. It was murmuring with strange voices and rippling
with flames. In the midst of the flames was a little
fair-haired baby who was borne to Merlin's feet. Merlin
stooped and picked it up, and cried, ‘The King! Here is
an heir for Uther!' This, King Leodogran, is the story
Bleys told me before he died."
King Leodogran wondered very much. Then he said:
"But did you not question Merlin about this?"
"Yes," answered Queen Bellicent. "I asked him if this
story of Bleys was true. He would only answer me with a
As King Leodogran was still silent, she said:
"Do not fear to give your daughter to Arthur, for he
will be the greatest king the world has ever seen."
Leodogran felt less doubtful. While he was thinking, he
fell asleep and had a dream. He saw in his dream a
field covered with mist and smoke, and a phantom king
standing in the cloud. He heard a voice which said,
"This is not our king;
 This is not the son of Uther." But suddenly the mist
disappeared and the king stood out in heaven, crowned.
King Leodogran took this dream for a good sign. He
called the three knights, Sir Ulfius and Sir Brastias
and Sir Bedivere, and said to them;
"Say to your king that I will give him Guinevere for
So the three hastily returned to King Arthur, who was
overjoyed with their message.
In the month of May he sent Sir Lancelot, the son of
King Ban, for Guinevere. When she came, the Archbishop
of Canterbury married them. And he blessed them and
said that they, with the help of the Knights of the
Round Table, must do much good for the land.