THE GOOD SWORD EXCALIBUR
OON after the crowning of King Arthur, he was
journeying through the land with Merlin, the wise old
magician, when they met a knight who challenged Arthur
to a combat. The two fought, and at last the knight
wounded Arthur severely. In the end the king was
victorious, but he had lost so much blood that he could
go no farther. Merlin took him to a good hermit who
healed his wound in three days. Then the king departed
with Merlin, and as they were slowly riding along he
"I am still weak from the blood I have lost, and my
sword is broken."
"Do not fear," said Merlin. "You
 shall lose no more blood and you shall have a good
sword. Ride on trustfully with me."
They rode in silence until they came to a lake, large
and quiet, and as beautiful in color as a pearl. While
Arthur was looking at its beauty, he became suddenly
aware of three tall women, with fair, sweet faces,
standing on the bank.
"Who are they?" the king asked.
"Three queens who shall help you at your worst need,"
answered Merlin. "Now look out upon the lake again."
Arthur turned his eyes upon the lake and saw that in
the distance a slight mist had arisen. Through it the
figure of a lady glided over the surface of the water.
Her robe appeared to be made of waves which streamed
away in flowing curves from her body. Her head and
shoulders seemed wrapped in foam tinted with the colors
of the rainbow, and her arms glittered with sparkles
which came from bubbles of water. She was so wonderful
that Arthur looked at her for some time before he asked
"Who is she?"
ARTHUR AND THE LADY OF THE LAKE
 "She is the Lady of the Lake," said Merlin. "She lives
in a rock in the middle of the lake. See she is coming
toward us. Look at what is beyond her in the water."
Arthur looked and saw rising above the surface of the
water an arm clothed in pure white. This arm held a
huge cross-hilted sword, so brilliant that Arthur's
eyes were dazzled.
When the Lady of the Lake approached nearer, he said:
"Damsel, what sword is that? I wish it were mine, for I
The lady smiled, saying:
"Step into yonder boat, row to the sword, and take it,
together with the scabbard."
So Arthur entered a little boat that was tied to the
shore, and rowed out to the sword. As he took it and
the scabbard, all gleaming with jewels, the hand and
arm vanished into the water. And when Arthur looked
about, the three queens and the Lady of the Lake were
As Arthur, still gazing at the sword, rowed to shore,
Merlin said to him:
 "My lord Arthur, which pleases you more, sword or
"In truth, the sword," replied the king.
"Let me assure you," said Merlin smiling gravely, "that
the scabbard is worth ten of the sword. While you have
it with you you shall never lose blood, no, no matter
how sorely you are wounded. So see that you guard it
The king, who was looking at the sword, sighed.
"There is writing on the sword," he said.
"True, my lord, written in the oldest tongue in the
"Take me on one side," said Arthur, "and Cast
me away on the other. I am glad to take the sword,
but it saddens me to think of casting it away."
Merlin's face grew sad, too. He was so wise that he
knew what was going to happen in the future, and he was
well aware that when the time came to cast the sword
away, much evil would have befallen the good King
Arthur. But he
 knew that the time was yet very far off; so he said:
"You have taken the sword. Now use it to make justice
and right prevail in all the land. Do not think of
casting it away until you must."
Arthur grew joyful again as he felt the strength of the
good sword in his hand, and the two rode cheerfully
forward through the country.