King Arthur’s Knights
TOLD TO THE CHILDREN BY
WITH PICTURES BY
LONDON: T. C. & E. C. JACK
NEW YORK: E. P. DUTTON & CO.
ABOUT THIS BOOK
More than four hundred years ago there
lived a diligent man called Sir Thomas
Malory, who wrote in English words many
of the beautiful Welsh tales about King
Arthur’s Knights, that the people of Wales
loved so well.
All the stories in this little book were
found in Malory’s big book, except ‘Geraint
and Enid.’ But it, too, is one of the old
Welsh tales that tell of the brave knights
and fair ladies of King Arthur’s court.
Many times, since Sir Thomas Malory
wrote his book, have these stories been
told again to old and young, but perhaps
never before have they been told to the
children so simply as in this little book.
LIST OF STORIES
Geraint and Enid
Lancelot and Elaine
Pelleas and Ettarde
Gareth and Lynette
Sir Galahad and the Sacred Cup
The Death of King Arthur
GERAINT AND ENID
Queen Guinevere lay idly in bed dreaming
beautiful dreams. The sunny morning hours
were slipping away, but she was so happy in
dreamland, that she did not remember that
her little maid had called her long ago.
But the Queen’s dreams came to an end at
last, and all at once she remembered that this
was the morning she had promised to go to
the hunt with King Arthur.
Even in the hunting-field, the King was not
quite happy if his beautiful Queen Guinevere
were not there. This morning he had waited
for her in vain, for in dreamland the Queen
had forgotten all about the hunt.
‘If I dress quickly, I shall not be very late,’
thought the Queen, as she heard the far-off
sound of the hunting-horn. And she was so
quick that in a very short time she and her
little waiting-maid were out, and riding up
to a grassy knoll. But the huntsmen were
already far away. ‘We will wait here to see
them ride homewards,’ said the Queen, and
they drew up their horses to watch and
They had not waited long, when they
heard the sound of horse’s hoofs, and turning
round, the Queen saw Prince Geraint,
one of Arthur’s knights. He was unarmed,
except that his sword hung at his side. He
wore a suit of silk, with a purple sash round
his waist, and at each end of the sash was a
golden apple, which sparkled in the sunlight.
‘You are late for the hunt, Prince Geraint,’
said the Queen.
‘Like you, I have come, not to join the
hunt, but to see it pass,’ said the Prince,
bowing low to the beautiful Queen. And
he asked to be allowed to wait with her
and the little maid.
As they waited, three people, a lady, a
knight and a dwarf, came out of the forest,
and rode slowly past. The knight had his
helmet off, and the Queen saw that he looked
young and bold.
‘I cannot remember if he is one of Arthur’s
knights. I must know his name,’ she said.
And she sent her little maid to find out who
the strange knight was.
But when the little maid asked the dwarf
his master’s name, the dwarf answered rudely
that he would not tell her.
‘Then I will ask your master himself,’
said the maid. But as she stepped towards
the knight, the dwarf struck her with his
whip, and the little maid, half-angry and half-frightened,
hurried back to the Queen, and
told her how the dwarf had treated her.
Prince Geraint was angry when he heard
how rude the dwarf had been to the Queen’s
little messenger, and said that he would go
and find out the knight’s name.
But the dwarf, by his master’s orders,
treated the Prince as rudely as he had treated
the little maid. When Geraint felt the dwarf’s
whip strike his cheek, and saw the blood
dropping on to his purple sash, he felt for the
sword at his side. Then he remembered that
while he was tall and strong, the dwarf was
small and weak, and he scorned to touch him.
Going back to the Queen, Geraint told her
that he had not been able to find out the
knight’s name either, ‘but with your leave, I
will follow him to his home, and compel him to
ask your pardon,’ said the Prince. And the
Queen allowed him to follow the knight.
‘When you come back, you will perhaps
bring a bride with you,’ said the Queen. ‘If
she be a great lady, or if she be only a beggar-maid,
I will dress her in beautiful robes, and
she shall stand among the fairest ladies of
‘In three days I shall come back, if I am
not slain in battle with the knight,’ said
Geraint. And he rode away, a little sorry
not to hear the merry sound of the hunter’s
horn, and a little vexed that he had undertaken
this strange adventure.
Through valleys and over hills Geraint
followed the lady, the knight and the dwarf,
till at last, in the evening, he saw them go
through the narrow streets of a little town,
and reach a white fortress. Into this fortress
the lady, the knight and the dwarf disappeared.
‘I shall find the knight there to-morrow,’
thought Geraint ‘Now I must go to an inn
for food and a bed,’ for he was hungry and
tired after his long ride.
But all the inns in the little town were full,
and every one seemed too busy to take any
notice of the stranger.
‘Why is there such a bustle in your
town this evening?’ asked Geraint, first of
one person and then of another. But they
hurried past him, muttering, ‘The Sparrow-hawk
has his tournament here to-morrow.’
‘The Sparrow-hawk! that is a strange
name,’ thought Geraint. But he did not
know that this was one of the names of the
knight he had followed so far.
Soon Geraint reached a smithy, and he
looked in, and saw that the smith was busy
sharpening swords and spears. ‘I will go
in and buy arms,’ thought Geraint.
And because the smith saw that the
stranger was dressed like a Prince, he
stopped his work for a moment to speak
‘Arms?’ he said, when Geraint told him
what he wanted. ‘There are no arms to
spare, for the Sparrow-hawk holds his tournament
‘The Sparrow-hawk again!’ thought
Geraint. ‘I wonder who he can be.’ Then
he turned to the smith again and said,
‘Though you cannot give me arms, perhaps
you can tell me where to find food and
‘The old Earl Yniol might give you
shelter. He lives in that half-ruined castle
across the bridge,’ said the smith. And he
turned again to his work, muttering, ‘Those
who work for the Sparrow-hawk have no
time to waste in talk.’
So Geraint rode wearily on across the
bridge and reached the castle. The courtyard
was quite empty and looked very
dreary, for it was all overgrown with weeds
and thistles. At the door of the half-ruined
castle stood the old Earl.
‘It is growing late. Will you not come in
and rest,’ said Earl Yniol, ‘although the castle
be bare, and the fare simple?’
And Geraint said he would like to stay
there, for he was so hungry that the plainest
food would seem a feast.
As he entered the castle, he heard some
one singing. The song was so beautiful,
and the voice was so pure and clear, that
Geraint thought it was the sweetest song in
all the world, and the old castle seemed less
gloomy as he listened.
Then Earl Yniol led Geraint into a long
low room, and this room was both dining-room
The Earl’s wife sat there, and she wore a
dress that must have been very grand once,
but now it was old.
Beside her stood her beautiful daughter,
and she wore a faded silk gown, but
Geraint thought he had never seen so fair
‘This is the maiden who sang the beautiful
song,’ he thought. ‘If I can win her for
my bride, she shall come back with me to
Queen Guinevere. But the brightest silks
the Queen can dress her in, will not make her
look more fair than she does in this old
gown,’ he murmured to himself.
‘Enid,’ said the Earl, ‘take the stranger’s
horse to the stable, and then go to the town
and buy food for supper.’
Geraint did not like the beautiful girl to
wait on him, and he got up eagerly to help
‘We are poor, and have no servants, but
we cannot let our guest wait upon himself,’
said the Earl proudly. And Geraint had to
sit down, while Enid took his horse to the
stall, and went across the bridge to the little
town to buy meat and cakes for supper.
And as the dining-room was the kitchen
too, Geraint could watch Enid as she cooked
the food and set the table.
At first it grieved him that she should
work at all, but afterwards he thought,
‘She touches everything with such grace
and gentleness, that the work grows beautiful
under her white hands.’
And when supper was ready, Enid stood
behind, and waited, and Geraint almost forgot
that he was very hungry, as he took the
dishes from her careful hands.
When supper was over, Geraint turned to
the Earl. ‘Who is this Sparrow-hawk of
whom all the townspeople chatter? Yet if
he should be the knight of the white fortress,
do not tell me his real name. That I must
find out for myself.’ And he told the Earl that
he was Prince Geraint, and that he had come
to punish the knight, because he allowed his
dwarf to be so rude to the Queen’s messengers.
The Earl was glad when he heard his
guest’s name. ‘I have often told Enid of
your noble deeds and wonderful adventures,’
he said, ‘and when I stopped, she would call
to me to go on. She loves to hear of the
noble deeds of Arthur’s knights. But now I
will tell you about the Sparrow-hawk. He
lives in the white fortress, and he is my
nephew. He is a fierce and cruel man, and
when I would not allow him to marry Enid,
he hated me, and made the people believe
I was unkind to him. He said I had stolen
his father’s money from him. And the people
believed him,’ said the Earl, ‘and were full of
rage against me. One evening, just before
Enid’s birthday, three years ago, they broke
into our home, and turned us out, and took
away all our treasures. Then the Sparrow-hawk
built himself the white fortress for
safety, but us he keeps in this old half-ruined
‘Give me arms,’ said Geraint, ‘and I will
fight this knight in to-morrow’s tournament.’
‘Arms I can give you,’ said the Earl,
‘though they are old and rusty; but you
cannot fight to-morrow.’ And the Earl
told Geraint that the Sparrow-hawk gave
a prize at the tournament. ‘But every
knight who fights to-morrow must have a
lady with him,’ said the Earl, ‘so that if
he wins the prize in fair fight from the
Sparrow-hawk, he may give it to her. But
you have no lady to whom you could give the
prize, so you will not be allowed to fight.’
‘Let me fight as your beautiful Enid’s
knight,’ said Geraint. ‘And if I win the
prize for her, let me marry her, for I love her
more than any one else in all the world.’
Then the Earl was pleased, for he knew
that if the Prince took Enid away, she would
go to a beautiful home. And though the
old castle would be more dreary than ever
without her, he loved his fair daughter too
well to wish to keep her there.
‘Her mother will tell Enid to be at the
tournament to-morrow,’ said the Earl, ‘if she
be willing to have you as her knight.’
And Enid was willing. And when she
slept that night she dreamed of noble deeds
and true knights, and always in her dream
the face of each knight was like the face
of Prince Geraint.
Early in the morning Enid woke her
mother, and together they went through the
meadows to the place where the tournament
was to be held.
And the Earl and Geraint followed, and
the Prince wore the Earl’s rusty arms, but
in spite of these, every one could see that he
was a Prince.
A great many lords and ladies and all the
townspeople came to see the tournament.
Then the Sparrow-hawk came to the front
of the great crowd, and asked if any one
claimed his prize. And he thought, ‘No one
here is brave enough to fight with me.’
But Geraint was brave, and he called out
loudly, ‘I claim the prize for the fairest lady
in the field.’ And he glanced at Enid in her
faded silk dress.
Then, in a great rage, the Sparrow-hawk
got ready for the fight with Enid’s champion,
and they fought so fiercely that three times
they broke their spears. Then they got off
their horses, and fought with their swords.
And the lords and ladies and all the townspeople
marvelled that Geraint was still alive,
for the Sparrow-hawk’s sword flashed like
lightning round the Prince’s head.
But Geraint, because he was fighting for
the Queen, and to win the gracious Enid
for his bride, brought down his sword with
all his strength on the Sparrow-hawk’s
helmet. The blow brought the knight to
the ground, and Geraint put his foot on
him, and demanded his name.
And all the pride of the Sparrow-hawk was
gone because Enid had seen his fall, and he
quickly told Geraint his name was Edyrn.
‘I will spare your life,’ said Geraint, ‘but
you must go to the Queen and ask her to
forgive you, and you must take the dwarf
with you. And you must give back to Earl
Yniol his earldom and all his treasures.’
Edyrn went to the Queen and she forgave
him; and he stayed at the court and
grew ashamed of his rough and cruel
deeds. At last he began to fight for King
Arthur, and lived ever after as a true
When the tournament was over, Geraint
took the prize to Enid, and asked her if she
would be his bride, and go to the Queen’s
court with him the next day. And Enid was
glad, and said she would go.
In the early morning, Enid lay thinking
of her journey. ‘I have only my faded silk
dress to wear,’ she sighed, and it seemed to
her shabbier and more faded than ever, as it
hung there in the morning light. ‘If only I
had a few days longer, I would weave myself
a dress. I would weave it so delicately that
when Geraint took me to the Queen, he
would be proud of it,’ she thought. For in
her heart she was afraid that Geraint would
be ashamed of the old faded silk, when they
reached the court.
And her thoughts wandered back to
the evening before her birthday, three
long years ago. She could never forget
that evening, for it was then that their home
had been sacked. Then she thought of
the morning of that day when her mother
had brought her a beautiful gift. It was a
dress, made all of silk, with beautiful silk
flowers woven into it. If only she could have
worn that, but the robbers had taken it away.
But what had happened? Enid sat up and
rubbed her eyes. For at that moment her
mother came into the room, and over her
arm was the very dress Enid had been
‘The colours are as bright as ever,’ said
the mother, touching the silk softly. And
she told Enid how last night their scattered
treasures had been brought back, and how
she had found the dress among them.
‘I will wear it at once,’ said Enid, a glad
look in her eyes. And with loving hands
her mother helped her to put on the old
Downstairs the Earl was telling Geraint
that last night the Sparrow-hawk had sent
back all their treasures. ‘Among them is
one of Enid’s beautiful dresses. At last
you will see her dressed as a Princess,’ said
the Earl gladly.
But Geraint remembered that he had first
seen and loved Enid in the faded gown, and
he thought, ‘I will ask her to wear it again
to-day for my sake.’
And Enid loved the Prince so dearly, that
when she heard his wish, she took off the
beautiful dress she had been so glad to wear,
and went down to him in the old silk gown.
And when Geraint saw Enid, the gladness
in his face made her glad too, and she forgot
all about the old dress.
All that day Queen Guinevere sat in a high
tower and often glanced out of the window
to look for Geraint and his bride. When
she saw them riding along the white road,
she went down to the gate herself to welcome
them. And when the Queen had dressed
Enid in soft and shining silk, all the court
marvelled at her beauty.
But because Geraint had first seen and
loved her in the old faded silk, Enid folded
it up with care and put it away among the
things she loved.
And a feast was made for the wedding-day,
and in great joy Geraint and Enid were
Day by day Geraint loved his wife more
dearly. And Enid was happy in this strange
new life, and she wondered at the merry
lords and ladies, and she loved the beautiful
Queen, who was so kind to her.
And Geraint was glad that Enid was often
with the Queen, till one day he heard some
people say that though the Queen was very
beautiful, she was not good. And Geraint
heard this so often, that he learned to
‘I must take Enid away from the court,’
he thought, ‘for she worships the Queen and
may grow like her.’
So Geraint went to King Arthur, and
asked to be allowed to go to his own
country. He told the King that robbers
trampled down his cornfields, and carried
away his cattle. ‘I wish to go and fight
these robbers,’ he said. And King Arthur
allowed him to go.
And Enid left the Queen and the lords
and ladies gladly, to go with Geraint.
But all the time Geraint could not help
thinking, ‘Enid is longing for the knights
and ladies she knew at the court.’
When Geraint reached his own country,
he forgot all about the robbers, who were
destroying his land. He forgot to go to the
hunt, or the tournament, or to look after the
poor people. And this was all because he
loved Enid so much. He thought, ‘I will
stay with her all day. I will be so kind
to her that she will forget the gay lords
and ladies, and be happy here, alone with
But Enid grew sadder and paler every day.
She did not wish Geraint to wait on her and
forget every one else. She wanted him to be
a true knight.
And the people began to scoff and jeer
whenever Geraint’s name was spoken. ‘The
Prince is no knight,’ they said. ‘The robbers
spoil his land and carry off his cattle, but
he neither cares nor fights. He does nothing
but wait on the fair Lady Enid.’
Enid knew what the people said, and she
thought, ‘I must tell Geraint, and then surely
he will be ashamed, and become a brave
knight once more.’ But always her courage
‘I think I could buckle on his armour and
ride with him to battle,’ thought Enid, ‘but
how can I tell him he is no worthy knight?’
And her tears fell fast, and Geraint coming
in, saw her weeping, and thought, ‘She weeps
for the gay lords and ladies of Arthur’s court.’
Then all at once he hated his idle life.
‘It has only made Enid despise me,’ he
thought. ‘We will go together into the
wilderness, and I will show her I can still
fight.’ And half in anger and half in sadness
he called for his war-horse.
Then Geraint told Enid to put on her
oldest dress and ride with him into the
wilderness. And because he was angry with
himself for thinking that Enid wept for the
gay knights and ladies at Arthur’s court,
he would not ride with her, but told her to go
on in front, and ‘whatever you see or hear,
do not speak to me,’ he said sternly.
Then Enid remembered the old faded silk
gown. ‘I will wear that, for he loved me in
it,’ she thought.
Through woods and swamps Enid and
Geraint rode in silence. And while Enid’s
heart cried, ‘Why is Geraint angry with
me?’ her eyes were busy glancing into
every bush and corner, in case robbers
should attack her lord.
At last in the shadow of some trees, Enid
saw three tall knights. They were armed,
and she heard them whisper, when they saw
Geraint, ‘This is a craven-looking knight.
We will slay him, and take his armour and
And Enid thought, ‘Even if it makes Geraint
angry, I must tell him what the knights
say, or they will attack him before he knows
they are there.’ And Enid turned back.
Geraint frowned as he saw her coming to
speak to him, but Enid said bravely, ‘There
are three knights in front of us. They say
they will fight with you.’
‘I do not want your warning,’ said Geraint
roughly, ‘but you shall see I can fight.’
Sad and pale, Enid watched the three
knights spring suddenly out of their ambush
and attack her lord.
But Geraint threw his spear at the tallest
knight, and it pierced his breast. Then with
two sword thrusts, he stunned the other two.
Geraint dismounted, and took the armour
of the three fallen knights, and tied it round
their horses. Twining the three bridle reins
into one, he gave it to Enid.
‘Drive these horses in front, and whatever
you see or hear, do not speak to me,’ said
Geraint. But he rode a little nearer Enid
than before, and that made her glad.
Soon they came to a wood, and in the
wood Enid again saw three knights. One
was taller and looked stronger than Geraint,
and Enid trembled as she looked at him.
‘The knight hangs his head, and the
horses are driven by a girl,’ she heard them
mutter. ‘We will kill the knight, and take
his damsel and his horses for ourselves.’
‘Surely,’ thought Enid, ‘I may warn
Geraint this time, for he is faint and tired
after the last battle.’
And Enid waited till Geraint rode up
to her, and told him there were three evil
men in front of them. ‘One is stronger
than you,’ she said, ‘and he means to kill
And Geraint answered angrily, ‘If you
would but obey me, I would fight one
hundred knights gladly.’ Yet Geraint loved
Enid all the time, though he spoke so
Then Enid stood out of the way, and she
hardly dared to look as the strongest knight
attacked Geraint. But Geraint hurled his
spear through the strong knight’s armour,
and he fell over and died.
The other two knights came slowly towards
Geraint, but he shouted his battle-cry,
and they turned and fled. But Geraint
caught them, and killed them.
Again Geraint tied the armour of the three
slain knights round their horses. Then he
twisted the three reins together, and handed
them to Enid.
‘Drive these on in front,’ said Geraint.
And now Enid had six horses to drive,
and Geraint saw that they were difficult
to manage. Then he rode nearer Enid.
They had left the wood behind them now,
and were riding through cornfields, where
reapers were busy cutting down the waving
Coming down the path towards them, they
saw a fair-haired boy. He was carrying
food to the reapers. Geraint thought Enid
looked faint, and he was very hungry, so
he stopped the lad and asked for food.
‘I can give you some of this; it is the
reapers’ dinner,’ said the boy. ‘But it is
coarse and plain food,’ and he glanced
doubtfully at the lady with the sad eyes
and her stern-looking knight.
But Geraint thanked him, and took the
food to Enid. And to please him she ate
a little, but Geraint was so hungry that
he finished all the reapers’ dinner.
‘I will reward you,’ said Geraint, for the
lad was dismayed to find nothing left for
the reapers to eat. And he told him to take
one of the horses, with the suit of armour
bound round it.
Then the boy was full of glee, and thought
himself a knight, as he led the horse away.
Geraint and Enid then went to the little
village near the cornfields, and lodged there
for one night.
The country they were in belonged to
a cruel Earl. He had once wanted to
marry Enid. When he heard that she was
in his country, he made up his mind to
kill Geraint, and make Enid marry him
‘I will go to the inn while they are still
asleep,’ thought the Earl, ‘and kill the knight
and take Enid away.’
But Geraint and Enid had got up very
early that morning, and had left the five
horses and the five suits of armour with
the landlord, to pay him for their food
By the time the Earl reached the inn
Geraint and Enid had ridden a long way
into a wild country.
Then the wicked Earl galloped after them,
and Enid heard the sound of horse’s hoofs
coming nearer and nearer. As the horseman
dashed down upon Geraint, Enid hid
her face, and asked God to spare her dear
lord’s life once more.
The fight was long and fierce, but at
last Geraint overthrew the Earl, and left
him lying half-dead in the dust.
Still a little in front, Enid rode silently
on, and Geraint followed, but he had been
wounded in the fight with the Earl, though
he did not tell Enid. And the wound bled
inside his armour, till Geraint felt very faint,
and suddenly everything seemed black in
front of him. He reeled and fell from his
horse on to a bank of grass.
Enid heard the crash of his armour as
he fell, and in a moment she was beside him.
She unbuckled the armour and took off
his helmet Then she took her veil of faded
silk and bound up his wound. But Geraint
lay quite still.
Enid’s horse wandered into a forest and
was lost, but Geraint’s noble war-horse kept
watch with Enid, as if he understood.
About noon, the Earl, in whose country
they now were, passed along with his
followers. He saw the two by the wayside,
and shouted to Enid, ‘Is he dead?’
‘No, no, not dead; he cannot be dead.
Let him be carried out of the sun,’ she
And Enid’s great sorrow, and her great
beauty, made the Earl a little less rough, and
he told his men to carry Geraint to the hall.
‘His charger is a noble one, bring it too,’
shouted the Earl.
His men unwillingly carried Geraint to
the hall, and laid him down on a stretcher
there, and left him.
Enid bent over him, chafing his cold
hands, and calling him to come back to her.
After a long time Geraint opened his eyes.
He saw Enid tenderly watching him, and
he felt Enid’s tears dropping on his face.
‘She weeps for me,’ he thought; but he
did not move, but lay there as if he were
In the evening the Earl came into the
great hall and called for dinner, and many
knights and ladies sat down with him, but
no one remembered Enid. But when the
Earl had finished eating and drinking, his
eye fell on her. He remembered how she
had wept for her wounded lord in the
‘Do not weep any more, but eat and be
merry. Then I will marry you, and you
shall share my earldom, and I will hunt
for you,’ said the wild Earl.
Enid’s head drooped lower, and she
murmured, ‘Leave me alone, I beseech
you, for my lord is surely dead.’
The Earl hardly heard what she said, but
thought Enid was thanking him. ‘Yes,
eat and be glad,’ he repeated, ‘for you are
‘How can I ever be glad again?’ said
Enid, thinking, ‘Surely Geraint is dead.’
But the Earl was growing impatient. He
seized her roughly, and made her sit at the
table, and he put food before her, shouting,
‘No,’ said Enid, ‘I will not eat, till my lord
arises and eats with me.’
‘Then drink,’ said the Earl, and he thrust
a cup to her lips.
‘No,’ said Enid, ‘I will not drink, till my
lord arises and drinks with me; and if he
does not arise, I will not drink wine till
The Earl strode up and down the hall
in a great rage. ‘If you will neither eat
nor drink, will you take off this old faded
dress?’ said the Earl. And he told one of
his women to bring Enid a robe, which had
been woven across the sea, and which was
covered with many gems.
But Enid told the Earl how Geraint had
first seen and loved her in the dress she
wore, and how he had asked her to wear it
when he took her to the Queen. ‘And when
we started on this sad journey, I wore it
again, to win back his love,’ she said, ‘and I
will never take it off till he arises and bids
Then the Earl was angry. He came close
to Enid, and struck her on the cheek with
And Enid thought, ‘He would not have
dared to strike me, if he had not known
that my lord was truly dead,’ and she gave
a bitter cry.
When Geraint heard Enid’s cry, with one
bound he leaped to where the huge Earl
stood, and with one swing of his sword cut
off the Earl’s head, and it fell down and
rolled along the floor.
Then all the lords and ladies were afraid,
for they had thought Geraint was dead, and
they fled, and Geraint and Enid were left
And Geraint never again thought that
Enid loved the gay lords and ladies at King
Arthur’s court better than she loved him.
Then they went back to their own land.
And soon the people knew that Prince
Geraint had come back a true knight, and
the old whispers that he was a coward
faded away, and the people called him
‘Geraint the Brave.’
And her ladies called Enid, ‘Enid the Fair,’
but the people on the land called her ‘Enid
LANCELOT AND ELAINE
Her name was Elaine. But she was so fair
that her father called her ‘Elaine the Fair,’
and she was so lovable that her brothers
called her ‘Elaine the Lovable,’ and that
was the name she liked best of all.
The country people, who lived round about
the castle of Astolat, which was Elaine’s
home, had another and a very beautiful
name for her. As she passed their windows
in her white frock, they looked at the white
lilies growing in their gardens, and they
said, ‘She is tall and graceful and pure as
these,’ and they called her the ‘Lily Maid
Elaine lived in the castle alone with her
father and her two brothers, and an old
dumb servant who had waited on her since
she was a baby.
To her father Elaine seemed always a
bright and winsome child, though she was
growing up now. He would watch her
serious face as she listened to Sir Torre,
the grave elder brother, while he told her
that wise maidens stayed at home to cook
and sew. And he would laugh as he saw
her, when Sir Torre turned away, run off
wilfully to the woods.
Elaine spent long happy days out of doors
with her younger brother Lavaine. When
they grew tired of chasing the butterflies
and gathering the wildflowers, they would
sit under the pine-trees and speak of Arthur’s
knights and their noble deeds, and they
longed to see the heroes of whom they
‘And the tournament will be held at
Camelot this year,’ Lavaine reminded his
sister. ‘If some of the knights ride past
Astolat, we may see them as they pass.’
And Elaine and Lavaine counted the days
till the tournament would begin.
Now Arthur had offered the prize of a
large diamond to the knight who fought
most bravely at the tournament.
But the knights murmured to each other,
‘We need not hope to win the prize, for Sir
Lancelot will be on the field, and who can
stand before the greatest knight of Arthur’s
And the Queen heard what the knights
said to each other, and she told Lancelot
how they lost courage and hope when he
came on to the field. ‘They begin to think
some magic is at work when they see you,
and they cannot fight their best. But I
have a plan. You must go to the tournament
at Camelot in disguise. And though
the knights do not know with whom they
fight, they will still fall before the strength
of Lancelot’s arm,’ added the Queen, smiling
up to him.
Then Lancelot disguised himself, and left
the court and rode towards Camelot. But
when he was near Astolat he lost his way,
and wandered into the old castle grounds,
where Elaine stood, with her father and
And as Elaine’s father, the old Baron,
welcomed the knight, Lavaine and Elaine
whispered together, ‘This is better than to
see many knights passing on their way to
And Lancelot stayed at Astolat till evening,
and he told many tales of Arthur’s court.
As Elaine and Lavaine listened to his
voice, and looked at his face, with the scars
of many battles on it, they loved him. ‘I
will be his squire and follow him,’ thought
Lavaine, and Elaine wished that she might
follow the strange knight too. But Sir Torre,
the grave elder brother, looked gloomily at
the stranger, and wished he had not come
In the evening Sir Lancelot told the Baron
how he was going in disguise to the tournament,
and how, by mistake, he had brought
his own shield with him. ‘If you can lend
me another, I will leave my shield with
you till I come back from Camelot,’ said
Then they gave him Sir Torre’s shield, for
Sir Torre had been wounded in his first
battle, and could not go to the tournament.
And Elaine came running gladly to take
the strange knight’s shield under her care.
But none of them knew that it was Sir
Lancelot’s shield, for he had not told them
And Elaine, carrying the shield with her,
climbed the tower stair, up to her own little
room. And she put the shield carefully into
a corner, thinking, ‘I will sew a cover for it,
to keep it safe and bright.’ Then she went
downstairs again, and saw that the knight
was going, and that Lavaine was going
‘He has asked the knight to take him as
his squire,’ she thought. ‘But although I
cannot go,’ she murmured sadly, ‘I can ask
him to wear my favour at the tournament.’
For in those days a knight often wore the
colours of the lady who loved him.
Very shyly Elaine told the knight her wish.
Would he wear her favour at the tournament?
It was a red sleeve, embroidered with white
Lancelot thought how fair Elaine was, as
she looked up at him with love and trust in
her eyes, but he told her gently that he had
never yet worn a lady’s favour, and that he
could not wear hers.
‘If you have never worn one before, wear
this,’ she urged timidly. ‘It will make your
disguise more complete.’ And Lancelot
knew that what she said was true, and he
took the red sleeve embroidered with pearls,
and tied it on his helmet.
So Elaine was glad, and after the knight
and Lavaine had ridden away, she went up
the turret stair again to her little room. She
took the shield from the corner, and handled
the bruises and dints in it lovingly, and made
pictures to herself of all the battles and
tournaments it had been through with her
Then Elaine sat down and sewed, as Sir
Torre would have wise maidens do. But
what she sewed was a beautiful cover for the
shield, and that Sir Torre would not have
her do, for he cared neither for the strange
knight nor his shield.
Lancelot rode on towards Camelot, with
Lavaine as his squire, till they came to a
wood where a hermit lived. And they
stayed at the hermitage all night, and the
next morning they rode on till they reached
And when Lavaine saw the King sitting
on a high throne, ready to judge which
knight was worthy to have the diamond, he
did not think of the grandeur of the throne,
nor of the King’s marvellous dress of rich
gold, nor of the jewels in his crown. He
could think only of the nobleness and beauty
of the great King’s face, and wish that his
fair sister Elaine might see him too.
Then many brave knights began to fight,
and all wondered why Sir Lancelot was not
there. And they wondered more at the
strange knight, with the bare shield and the
red sleeve with pearls on his helmet, who
fought so bravely and overthrew the others
one by one.
And the King said, ‘Surely this is Sir
Lancelot himself.’ But when he saw the
lady’s favour on the knight’s helmet, he said,
‘No, it cannot be Sir Lancelot.’
When at last the tournament was over,
the King proclaimed that the strange knight
who wore the red sleeve embroidered with
pearls had won the prize, and he called him
to come to take the diamond.
But no one came, and the knight with the
red sleeve was nowhere to be seen. For Sir
Lancelot had been wounded in his last fight,
and when it was over, had ridden hastily
from the field, calling Lavaine to follow.
And when they had ridden a little way into
the wood, Sir Lancelot fell from his horse.
‘The head of the spear is still in my side,’
he moaned; ‘draw it out, Lavaine.’
At first Lavaine was afraid, for he thought
of the pain it would give the knight, and he
was afraid too that the wound would bleed
till his knight bled to death. But because
Sir Lancelot was in great suffering, Lavaine
at last took courage, and pulled the head of
the spear out of Lancelot’s side. Then he,
with great difficulty, helped the knight on to
his horse, and slowly and painfully they rode
towards the hermitage.
They reached it at last, and the hermit
came out and called two of his servants
to carry the knight into his cell; and they
unarmed him and put him to bed. Then
the hermit dressed the knight’s wound and
gave him wine to drink.
When King Arthur found the strange
knight had disappeared, and heard that he
was wounded, he said that the prize should
be sent to so gallant a victor. ‘He was tired
and wounded, and cannot have ridden far,’
said the King. And turning to Sir Gawaine,
he gave him the diamond, and told him to go
and find the knight and give him the prize
he had won so bravely.
But Sir Gawaine did not want to obey the
King. He did not want to leave the feasting
and merriment that followed the tournament.
Yet since all Arthur’s knights had taken a
vow of obedience, Gawaine was ashamed
not to go, so sulkily, like no true knight,
he left the feast.
And Sir Gawaine rode through the wood
and past the hermitage where the wounded
knight lay; and because he was thinking
only of his own disappointment, his search
was careless, and he did not see the shelter
Sir Lancelot had found. He rode on till
he came to Astolat. And when Elaine and
her father and her brother Sir Torre saw
the knight, they called to him to come in
and tell them about the tournament, and
who had won the prize.
Then Sir Gawaine told how the knight
with the red sleeve embroidered with white
pearls had gained the prize, but how, being
wounded, he had ridden away without claiming
it. He told too how the King had sent
him to find the unknown knight and to
give him the diamond.
But because Elaine was very fair, and
because he did not greatly wish to do the
order of the King, Sir Gawaine lingered
there, wandering in the old castle garden,
with ‘the Lily Maid of Astolat.’ And he
told Elaine courtly tales of lords and ladies,
and tried to win her love, but she cared for
no one but the knight whose shield she
One day, as Elaine grew impatient with
the idle Sir Gawaine, she said she would
show him the shield the strange knight
had left with her. ‘If you know the arms
engraved on the shield, you will know the
name of the knight you seek, and perhaps
find him the sooner,’ she said.
And when Sir Gawaine saw the shield he
cried, ‘It is the shield of Sir Lancelot, the
noblest knight in Arthur’s court.’
Elaine touched the shield lovingly, and
murmured, ‘The noblest knight in Arthur’s
‘You love Sir Lancelot, and will know
where to find him,’ said Sir Gawaine. ‘I
will give you the diamond, and you shall
fulfil the King’s command.’
And Sir Gawaine rode away from Astolat,
kissing the hands of the fair Elaine, and
leaving the diamond with her. And when
he reached the court he told the lords and
ladies about the fair maid of Astolat who
loved Sir Lancelot. ‘He wore her favour,
and she guards his shield,’ he said.
But when the King heard that Sir Gawaine
had come back, without finding the strange
knight, and leaving the diamond with the
fair maid of Astolat, he was displeased.
‘You have not served me as a true knight,’
he said gravely; and Sir Gawaine was silent,
for he remembered how he had lingered at
When Elaine took the diamond from Sir
Gawaine she went to her father. ‘Let me
go to find the wounded knight and Lavaine,’
she said. ‘I will nurse the knight as
maidens nurse those who have worn their
favours.’ And her father let her go.
With the grave Sir Torre to guard her,
Elaine rode into the wood, and near the
hermitage she saw Lavaine.
‘Take me to Sir Lancelot,’ cried the Fair
Elaine. And Lavaine marvelled that she
knew the knight’s name.
Then Elaine told her brother about Sir
Gawaine, and his careless search for
Lancelot, and she showed him the diamond
she brought for the wounded knight.
‘Take me to him,’ she cried again. And
as they went, Sir Torre turned and rode
gloomily back to Astolat, for it did not please
him that the Fair Elaine should love Sir
When Lavaine and Elaine reached the
hermitage, the hermit welcomed the fair maid,
and took her to the cell where Lancelot lay.
‘The knight is pale and thin,’ said Elaine;
‘I will nurse him.’
Day by day and for many nights Elaine
nursed him tenderly as a maiden should,
till at last one glad morning the hermit
told her she had saved the knight’s life.
Then when Sir Lancelot grew stronger,
Elaine gave him the diamond, and told him
how the King had sent him the prize he had
won so hardly. And Lancelot grew restless,
and longed to be at the King’s court once
When the knight was able to ride, he
went back to Astolat with Elaine and
Lavaine. And as he rested there, he
thought, ‘Before I go, I must thank the
Lily Maid, and reward her for all she has
done for me.’
But when he asked Elaine how he could
reward her, she would answer only that she
loved him, and wished to go to court with
him, as Lavaine would do.
‘I cannot take you with me,’ said the
knight courteously; ‘but when you are
wedded, I will give you and your husband
a thousand pounds every year.’
But Elaine wanted nothing but to be
with Sir Lancelot.
‘My Lily Maid will break her heart,’ said
her father sadly, ‘unless the knight treats
her less gently.’
But Sir Lancelot could not be unkind to
the maid who had nursed him so tenderly.
Only, next morning when he rode away,
carrying his shield with him, though he
knew Elaine watched him from her turret
window, he neither looked up nor waved
farewell. And Elaine knew she would never
see Sir Lancelot again.
Then day by day she grew more sad and
still. ‘She will die,’ said her father sadly,
as he watched her; and the grave Sir Torre
sobbed, for he loved his sister dearly.
One day Elaine sent for her father to
come to her little turret room.
‘Promise me that when I die you will do
as I wish. Fasten the letter I shall write
tightly in my hand, and clothe me in
my fairest dress. Carry me down to the
river and lay me in the barge, and, alone
with our old dumb servant, let me be taken
to the palace.’
And her father promised. And when Elaine
died there was great sadness in Astolat.
Then her father took the letter and bound
it in her hand, and by her side he placed
a lily. And they clothed her in her fairest
dress, and carried her down to the river,
and laid her in the barge, alone with the
old dumb servant.
And the barge floated quietly down the
stream, guided by the old dumb man.
Then when it reached the palace steps,
it stopped, and the King and the Queen and
all the knights and ladies came to see the
And the King took the letter from the fair
maid’s hand and read it aloud.
‘I am the Lily Maid of Astolat, and because
Sir Lancelot left me, I make unto all ladies
my moan. Pray for my soul.’
When they heard it the lords and ladies
wept with pity.
And Sir Lancelot buried Elaine sadly.
And sometimes when those who loved him
were jealous and unkind, he thought tenderly
of the pure and simple love of the Lily Maid
PELLEAS AND ETTARDE
Far away in a dreary land there lived a lad
called Pelleas. The men were rough and
the women grave in the dreary land where
To this far-away country there had come
tales of the gay lords and ladies of Arthur’s
Pelleas heard, in great astonishment, that
the men in Arthur’s country were brave and
gentle, and that the women smiled. He
would go away from his own land, he
thought, and see these strange and happy
Soon the rough men in his country laughed
at Pelleas, for he began to grow brave and
gentle like the knights who were so often in
And the grave women looked at each other
in surprise, as they saw the lad’s bright face
and caught the smile on his lips. Pelleas
had been dreaming about the gay ladies he
had heard of, till some of their gladness had
passed into his face.
When he was older Pelleas left his country
and all the land that belonged to him there.
He would take his horse and his sword and
ask the great King Arthur to make him
one of his knights, for had he not learned
knightly ways from the wonderful tales he
had heard long ago?
After many days Pelleas reached the court.
And when the King had listened to the
young man’s story, and had seen his beauty
and strength, he gladly made him his knight.
Then Pelleas was ready to begin his adventures.
He would go to Carleon, where,
for three days, the King’s tournament was to
The King had promised a golden circlet
and a good sword to the knight who showed
himself the strongest. The golden circlet
was to be given to the fairest lady in the
field, and she was to be called the ‘Queen of
On his way to Carleon, Pelleas rode along
a hot and dusty road. There were no trees
to shelter him from the scorching sun, but
he rode on steadfastly, for he knew that a
great shady forest lay before him.
When at last Pelleas reached the forest,
he was so hot and tired that he dismounted,
and tying his horse to a tree, he lay down
gratefully under a large oak and fell asleep.
Sounds of laughter and merriment woke
him, and opening his eyes he saw a group of
maidens close by.
Pelleas was bewildered. Could they be
wild woodland nymphs, he thought, as, only
half-awake, he lay there, and watched them
flitting in and out among the tall trees.
They wore bright dresses, blue and yellow
and purple, and to Pelleas the forest seemed
The maidens were talking together, and
looking first in one direction and then in
another. They were lost in the forest, on
their way to the great tournament at
Then the lost maidens caught sight of the
knight, lying half-asleep under the oak-tree.
‘He will be able to show us the way,’ they
said joyfully to one another, for they guessed
that he too was on his way to the tournament.
‘I will speak to the knight,’ said the Lady
Ettarde, the tallest and most beautiful of
all the maidens, and she left the others and
went towards Pelleas. But when she told
the knight that she and her lords and ladies
had lost their way, and asked him to tell
her how to reach Carleon, he only looked
at her in silence. Was she one of the
woodland nymphs? Was he still dreaming,
and was she the lady of his dreams?
As the lady still stood there, he roused
himself and tried to speak. But because he
was bewildered by her beauty, he stammered
and answered foolishly.
The Lady Ettarde turned to the merry
lords and ladies who had followed her. ‘The
knight cannot speak, though he is so strong
and good-looking,’ she said scornfully.
But Sir Pelleas was wide-awake at last.
He sprang to his feet, and told the Lady
Ettarde that he had been dreaming, and
that she had seemed to him a part of his
dream. ‘But I too am going to Carleon,’
he added, ‘and I will show you the way.’
And as they rode through the forest
Sir Pelleas was always at his lady’s side.
When the branches were in her way he
pushed them aside, when the path was
rough he guided her horse. In the evening
when the Lady Ettarde dismounted, Pelleas
was there to help her, and in the morning
again it was Pelleas who brought her horse
and helped her to mount.
Now the Lady Ettarde was a great lady
in her own land; knights who had fought
many battles and won great fame had served
her, and she cared nothing for the young
untried knight’s love and service.
‘Still he looks so strong, that I will
pretend to care for him,’ she thought, ‘and
then perhaps he will try to win the golden
circlet for me, and I shall be called the
“Queen of Beauty.”’ For the Lady Ettarde
was a cruel and vain lady, and cared more
for the golden circlet and to be called the
‘Queen of Beauty,’ than for the happiness
of the young knight Pelleas. And so for
many days the Lady Ettarde was kind to
Sir Pelleas, and at last she told him that she
would love him if he would win the golden
circlet for her.
‘The lady of my dreams will love me,’
the knight murmured. And aloud he said
proudly that if there were any strength
in his right arm, he would win the prize
for the Lady Ettarde.
Then the lords and ladies that were with
Ettarde pitied the young knight, for they
knew their lady only mocked him.
At last they all reached Carleon, and the
next morning the tournament began.
And the Lady Ettarde watched her
knight merrily, as each day he overcame
and threw from their horses twenty men.
‘The circlet will be mine,’ she whispered
to her lords and ladies. But they looked
at her coldly, for they knew how unkindly
she would reward Sir Pelleas.
At the end of three days the tournament
was over, and King Arthur proclaimed that
the young knight Pelleas had won the
golden circlet and the sword.
Then in the presence of all the people,
Sir Pelleas took the golden circlet and
handed it to the Lady Ettarde, saying
aloud that she was the fairest lady on the
field and the Queen of Beauty.
The Lady Ettarde was so pleased with
her prize, that for a day or two she was
kind to her knight, but soon she grew tired
of him, and wished that she might never
see him again.
Still even when she was unkind, Sir
Pelleas was happy, for he trusted the
beautiful lady, and said to himself, ‘She
proves me, to see if I really love her.’
But the Lady Ettarde knew she would
never love Sir Pelleas, even if he died for
Then her ladies were angry, as they saw
how she mocked the knight, for they knew
that greater and fairer ladies would have
loved Sir Pelleas for his strength and great
‘I will go back to my own country,’ said
the Lady Ettarde, ‘and see my faithful
knight no more.’
When Pelleas heard that the Lady
Ettarde was going home he was glad.
He remembered the happy days he had
spent as they rode together through the
forest, and he looked forward to other
happy days in the open air, when he could
again shield the lady from the roughness
of the road.
But when the Lady Ettarde saw that
Sir Pelleas was following her into her own
country, she was angry.
‘I will not have the knight near me,’ she
said proudly to her ladies. ‘I will have an
older warrior for my love.’ And they knew
their lady’s cruel ways, and in pity kept
the knight away.
As they rode along the days seemed long
to Pelleas, for he neither saw nor spoke
to the Lady Ettarde.
When she got near her own castle, she
rode on more swiftly, telling her lords and
ladies to follow her closely. The drawbridge
was down, and the Lady Ettarde rode
across it, and waiting only till her lords and
ladies crossed it, ordered the bridge to be
drawn up, while Pelleas was still on the
The knight was puzzled. Was this a
test of his love too, or did the lady for whom
he had won the golden circlet indeed not
care for him? But that he would not believe.
‘She will grow kinder if I am faithful,’ he
thought, and he lived in a tent beneath the
castle walls for many days.
The Lady Ettarde heard that Pelleas still
lingered near the castle, and in her anger she
said, ‘I will send ten of my lords to fight
this knight, and then I shall never see
his face again.’
But when Pelleas saw the ten lords
coming towards him, he armed himself, and
fought so bravely that he overthrew each
But after he had overthrown them, he
allowed them to get up and to bind him
hand and foot, and carry him into the castle.
‘For they will carry me into the presence of
the Lady Ettarde,’ he thought.
But when she saw Pelleas, the Lady
Ettarde mocked him, and told her lords to
tie him to the tail of a horse and turn
him out of the castle.
‘She does it to find out if I love her truly,’
thought Sir Pelleas again, as he struggled
back to his tent below the castle.
Another ten lords were sent to fight the
faithful knight, and again Pelleas overthrew
them, and again he let himself be bound
and carried before the Lady Ettarde.
But when she spoke to him even more
unkindly than before, and mocked at his
love for her, Sir Pelleas turned away. ‘If
she were good as she is beautiful, she could
not be so cruel,’ he thought sadly.
And he told her that though he would
always love her, he would not try to see her
Now one of King Arthur’s knights, called
Sir Gawaine, had been riding past the castle
when the ten lords attacked Sir Pelleas.
And Sir Gawaine had looked on in dismay.
He had seen the knight overthrow
the ten lords, and stand there quietly while
the conquered men got to their feet. He had
seen them bind him hand and foot, and carry
him into the castle.
‘To-morrow I will look for him, and offer
him my help,’ thought Sir Gawaine, for he
was sorry for the brave young knight.
The next morning he found Sir Pelleas in
his tent, looking very sad. And when Sir
Gawaine asked the knight why he was so
sad, Sir Pelleas told him of his love for
the Lady Ettarde and of her unkindness.
‘I would rather die a hundred times
than be bound by her lords,’ he said, ‘if
it were not that they take me into her
Then Sir Gawaine cheered Sir Pelleas and
offered to help him, for he too was one of
And Sir Pelleas trusted him, for had not
all King Arthur’s knights taken the vows of
brotherhood and truth?
‘Give me your horse and armour,’ said Sir
Gawaine. ‘I will go to the castle with them,
and tell the Lady Ettarde that I have slain
you. Then she will ask me to come in, and
I will talk of your great love and strength,
till she learns to love you.’
And Sir Gawaine rode away, wearing the
armour and helmet of Sir Pelleas, and promising
to come back in three days.
The Lady Ettarde was walking up and down
outside the castle, when she saw the knight
approaching. ‘Sir Pelleas again,’ she thought
angrily, and turned to go into the castle.
But Sir Gawaine called to her to stay. ‘I
am not Sir Pelleas, but a knight who has
‘Take off your helmet that I may see your
face,’ said the Lady Ettarde, as she turned
to look at him.
When she saw that it was really a strange
knight, she took him into her castle. ‘Because
you have slain Sir Pelleas, whom I hated, I
will love you,’ said the cruel Lady Ettarde.
Sir Gawaine saw how beautiful the lady
was, and he forgot her unkindness to Sir
Pelleas, and he loved her. And because he
was not a true knight, Sir Gawaine did not
think of Pelleas, who waited so anxiously
for his return.
Three days passed, but he did not go back,
and in the castle all was joy and merriment.
Six days passed, and still Sir Gawaine
stayed with the beautiful Lady Ettarde.
At last Sir Pelleas could bear his loneliness
no longer. That night he went up to
the castle, and swam across the river.
When he reached the front of the castle,
he saw a great many tents. And all the
lords and ladies were asleep in their tents,
and Sir Gawaine was there too.
‘He has forgotten me, and will stay here
always with the Lady Ettarde,’ muttered Sir
Pelleas in scorn, and he drew the sword he
had won at the tournament, to slay the false
knight Sir Gawaine.
Then, all at once, he remembered the vows
he had taken, when the great King had
knighted him, and slowly he sheathed his
sword, and went gloomily down to the
But Sir Pelleas could not make up his
mind to go away, and again he turned and
went back to the tent, where Sir Gawaine
lay, still asleep.
Once more Sir Pelleas drew his sword, and
laid it across the false knight’s bare neck.
When Sir Gawaine woke in the morning,
he felt the cold steel, and putting up his
hand, he found the sword that Sir Pelleas
Sir Gawaine did not know how the sword
had come there, but when he told the Lady
Ettarde what had happened, and showed her
the sword, she knew it was the one that Sir
Pelleas had won at the tournament, when he
had given her the golden circlet.
‘You have not slain the knight who loved
me,’ cried the Lady Ettarde, ‘for he has been
here, and left his sword across your throat.’
And then she hated Gawaine because he had
told her a lie, and she drove him from her
And the Lady Ettarde thought of her true
knight Sir Pelleas, and at last she loved him
with all her heart.
But when he had left his sword across Sir
Gawaine’s throat, Pelleas had gone sadly
back to his tent, and taking off his armour,
had lain down to die.
Then the knight’s servant was in great
distress, because his master would neither
eat nor sleep, but lay in his tent getting
more pale and more thin day by day. And
the servant was wandering sadly along the
bank of the river, wondering how he could
help his master, when he met a beautiful
maiden called the ‘Lady of the Lake.’
The maiden asked why he looked so sad,
and, won by her gentleness, he told her how
his master had been hated by the Lady
Ettarde, and betrayed by the false knight
‘Bring me to your master,’ said the Lady
of the Lake.
And when she had come to the tent and
saw Sir Pelleas, she loved him.
‘I will send him to sleep,’ she murmured,
‘and when he wakes he will be well.’ And
she threw an enchantment over him, and he
When Sir Pelleas awoke, he felt strong
once more, and at last he knew that the
cruel Lady Ettarde had never been the lady
of his dreams, and he loved her no longer.
But when the Lady Ettarde knew that Sir
Pelleas loved her no more, she wept sorrowfully,
and died of her grief.
Then the gentle Lady of the Lake asked
Pelleas to come with her to her own beautiful
Lake-land. And as they rode together, her
simple kindness made the knight happy
again, and he learned to love the Lady of the
Lake, and they lived together and loved each
other all their lives long.
GARETH AND LYNETTE
Gareth was a little prince. His home was
an old grey castle, and there were great
mountains all round the castle. Gareth loved
these mountains and his beautiful home at
the foot of them. He had lived there all his
Gareth had no little boys or girls to play
with, for there were no houses near his
But Gareth was happy all day long. Sometimes
in the bright summer mornings the
streams would call to him. Then he would
follow them up the mountains, till he found
the place where the streams ended in tiny
Sometimes the birds and beasts, his woodland
friends, would call to him, and then
Gareth would wander about in the forest
with them till evening came. Then he
would tell his mother the wonderful things
he had seen, and the wonderful things he
had heard in the forests and on the mountain-sides.
Gareth’s mother, the Queen of Orkney,
loved the little prince so much that she was
never dull. She had no one to talk to except
her little son, for her husband was old, so old
that he could not talk to his Queen. And if
she talked to him, he was almost too deaf
to hear what she said.
But though the Queen was never dull, she
was sometimes unhappy. She was afraid
that some day, when Gareth was older, he
would want to leave her to go into the world,
perhaps to go to the great King Arthur’s
court, as his three brothers had done.
Now Gareth had already heard stories
about the brave deeds of King Arthur’s
knights. He knew that they were strong
men, and that they fought for the weak
people, and that they often had great
adventures, when they were sent to punish
the King’s enemies. And Gareth longed
to be a man, for ‘when I am a man, I
will be one of Arthur’s knights, too,’ he
At last, one day, his mother knew that
what she had been afraid of had come to pass.
She knew that Gareth would not be content
to stay among the mountains much longer.
But when he threw his arms round her, and
coaxed her to let him go, she thought, ‘Surely
I can keep him a little longer.’ And she said,
‘Your father is old, and your brothers have
left me, you will not leave me alone, Gareth.
You will stay and be a great huntsman and
follow the deer.’ But all the time her heart
whispered, ‘He will not stay.’
And Gareth said, ‘Let me go, sweet mother.
Now I am a man, I must do a man’s work.
“Follow the deer!” No; now I must follow
But still his mother would not let him go.
‘The next time he asks me, I will try another
way,’ she thought. And when Gareth came
again and pleaded to be allowed to go to the
court, she said, ‘Yes, you may go, if for one
whole year you will tell no one your name,
or that you are a prince, and if for that
whole year you will go into the King’s kitchen
and work there.’ ‘These things will be too
difficult for my princely boy,’ she thought.
But Gareth wanted to go so much, that he
promised not to tell any one his name, nor
that he was a prince. ‘And I will go to the
court, only to work in the King’s kitchen for
a year,’ promised Gareth proudly. And then
his mother knew that her plan had failed,
and she wept.
But Gareth was glad. He got up early
one morning, and without saying good-bye
to his mother, for he could not bear to see
her sad face again, he left his mountain home,
and went out into the wide world.
When three men, dressed like ploughmen,
left the castle, no one would have known
that one of them was a prince. For Gareth
had left all his beautiful clothes behind him,
and was dressed just like the two servants
he took with him. But still he was glad,
for though he remembered he was going to
work in a kitchen, he thought a year would
soon pass, and then, perhaps, King Arthur
would make him one of his knights.
On a certain day, every year, there was a
great feast at Arthur’s court. Now the King
would not sit down to the feast till he had
heard if any of his people were in trouble,
and if they wished one of his knights to go
to help them. And on this day too, people
could come into the King’s presence to ask
for any boon or good thing they wished.
Gareth reached the court, with his two
servants, on one of these feast-days.
‘The King will listen to my wish to-day.
I will go to him at once,’ thought Gareth.
And leaning on the shoulders of his servants,
so as to look less princely, he came
into the large dining-hall.
‘Grant me only this boon,’ Gareth entreated
the King, ‘that I may work in your kitchen
and eat and drink there for a year. After
that I will fight.’
And King Arthur looked at Gareth, and
saw that though he leaned on his servants
he was tall and strong, and that though he
wore rough clothes, he was as noble-looking
as any of his knights.
‘You ask but a small boon,’ said the King.
‘Would you not rather serve me as my
And Gareth longed to say ‘Yes.’ But as he
could not break the promise he had given to
his mother, he said again, that the only boon
he asked was to be allowed to work in the
Then the King sent for Sir Kay, the
steward of his kitchen, and told him to
make Gareth one of his kitchen-boys. But
Sir Kay did not wish this noble-looking lad
in his kitchen, and he made fun of him and
mocked him, because he would not tell his
name, nor where his home was.
But Sir Lancelot, the noblest knight in all
the land, was kind to Gareth, and Gareth’s
brother, Sir Gavaine, who had gone to
Arthur’s court long ago, was kind to him
too. Yet Sir Gavaine did not know that
Gareth was his brother, for the little prince
he had left at home looked very different
to the King’s new kitchen-boy.
In the kitchen Gareth soon began to find
out what a difficult task he had undertaken,
for the sake of one day being a knight. He
ate his meals with rough kitchen-boys, and
as Gareth’s mother had taught her little
prince daintily, he did not like their rough
ways; and at night he slept in a shed with
And because Sir Kay did not like Gareth,
he would bustle and hurry him, and make
him work harder than any of the other lads,
and give him all the roughest work to do.
It was Gareth who had to draw the water
and cut the wood, while the other servants
But when at last his work was done,
Gareth would listen gladly as the servants
talked of Lancelot and the King. He loved
to hear how Lancelot had twice saved the
King’s life, and how since then there had
grown up a great friendship between the
King and his brave knight.
And Gareth was glad when he heard that
though Lancelot was first in all the tournaments
or mock battles, yet on the battle-field
his hero King was mightiest of all.
But when the servants’ talk was rough and
rude, Gareth would not listen, but sang some
of his old mountain-songs, carolling like any
lark, and the servants stopped their talk to
It seemed a long year to Gareth, the
longest year in all his life, but at last it
came to an end. A whole year had passed,
and another of the King’s great feast-days
Gareth woke up on that morning, thinking,
‘Now at last I can be one of King
Arthur’s knights; now at last I am free.’
In the dining-room he sprang eagerly to
the King’s side. ‘A boon, King Arthur,
grant me this boon,’ he cried, ‘that I serve
you no longer as a kitchen-page, but as a
Arthur loved the noble-looking lad, and
was pleased with his eagerness. ‘I make
you my knight, to win glory and honour for
our land,’ said the King. But the secret of
Gareth’s knighthood was to be kept from all
but Sir Lancelot, till the new knight, Sir
Gareth, had won for himself great fame.
‘You shall begin at once,’ said the King.
And he promised Gareth that he should be
the first of all his knights to leave his court
As he spoke, a beautiful lady called Lynette
came into the hall, in great haste. ‘A knight
to rescue my sister, King Arthur,’ she cried.
‘Who is your sister, and why does she
need a knight?’ asked the King.
And Lynette told Arthur that her sister
was called the Lady Lyonors, and that
Lyonors was rich and had many castles of
her own, but a cruel knight, called the Red
Knight, had shut her up in one of her own
castles. The name of the castle in which
she was a prisoner was Castle Dangerous.
And the Red Knight said he would keep
Lady Lyonors there, till he had fought King
Arthur’s bravest knight. Then he would
make Lyonors his wife. ‘But,’ said Lynette,
‘my sister will never be the bride of the Red
Knight, for she does not love him.’
Then Arthur, looking round his knights,
saw Gareth’s eyes growing bright, and heard
Gareth’s voice ringing out, ‘Your promise,
And the King said to Gareth, ‘Go and
rescue the Lady Lyonors from the Red
‘A kitchen-page go to rescue the Lady
Lyonors!’ shouted Sir Kay in scorn.
When Lynette heard that, she was angry,
and said, ‘I came for Sir Lancelot, the greatest
of all your knights, and you give me a
kitchen-boy.’ In her anger, she walked out
of the palace gates, and rode quickly down
the streets. She neither looked nor waited
to see if Gareth followed.
‘I will wait for nothing,’ thought the
new knight, and he hurried after Lynette
to the palace gates, but there he was
Gareth’s mother had not forgotten that a
year had passed since her boy had left her.
In her quiet castle she had been busy planning
a surprise for her prince.
‘Gareth will be a knight to-day,’ she
thought. ‘I will send our dwarf to him
with a noble war-horse and armour fit for a
knight. Surely he will begin his adventures
the more gladly, that I help to send him
forth,’ she murmured, thinking half-regretfully
of the long year she had made him
spend in the kitchen.
And Gareth was glad when he saw his
mother’s gift; and when he had put on the
armour, there was no more handsome
knight in all King Arthur’s court than Sir
Gareth. He mounted his horse, and, telling
the dwarf to follow, rode quickly after
But Gareth had not gone far, when he
heard shouts behind him, and, turning, he
saw that Sir Kay was riding after him.
‘If it is possible, I will bring my kitchen-boy
boy back again,’ thought Sir Kay, ‘for he
works well.’ ‘Have you forgotten that I am
your master?’ he shouted, as he reached
‘You are no longer my master,’ said
Gareth, ‘and I know that you are the most
unkind of all Arthur’s knights.’
Then Sir Kay was so angry that he drew
his sword, and Gareth drew his and struck
Sir Kay so hard a blow, that he tumbled off
his horse, and lay on the ground as if he
were dead. Then Gareth took away his old
master’s sword and shield, and telling the
dwarf to take Sir Kay’s horse, he once more
hurried on to reach Lynette.
Both Lancelot and Lynette had seen Sir
Gareth fight with Sir Kay, for the King had
asked Sir Lancelot to ride on before Gareth,
that he might know if his new knight could
use his sword.
When Lancelot had seen Sir Kay fall to
the ground, he rode back to the court to tell
King Arthur that his knight, Sir Gareth, was
strong and true. And he sent men to bring
home the wounded Sir Kay.
Now Lynette was more cross than ever
because Lancelot had left her, and when
Gareth at last rode up to her, she cried
rudely, ‘You are only a kitchen-knave. Your
clothes smell of cooking, and your dress is
soiled with grease and tallow. Ride further
off from me.’
But what she said was not true, for Gareth
had put on the beautiful armour his mother
had sent him.
As Lynette mocked, Gareth rode quietly
behind. In spite of her unkindness, he was
happy. After the long days spent in the hot
kitchen, the forest breeze seemed to touch
him more gently than in the old days, and
the trees seemed to him more beautiful.
But though the streams seemed more clear,
they still called to him, just as the streams
in his own mountains used to do.
But Gareth had not much time to think of
the trees and streams, for suddenly he heard
the steps of some one hurrying through the
forest, crushing the fallen twigs and crisp
leaves underfoot in his great haste. Was it
‘Where are you running to?’ said Gareth,
as a man came in sight.
‘O sir, six thieves have fallen upon my
lord, and bound him to a tree, and I am
afraid they will kill him.’
‘Show me where your lord is,’ said Gareth.
And they rode together to the place where
the knight was tied to a tree.
Then Gareth struck the first robber down
with his sword, and killed another, and slew
the third as he turned to run away.
‘There were six thieves,’ thought Gareth;
but when he turned to look for the other
three, they were nowhere to be seen. They
had all run away in great fright.
Then Gareth unbound the knight. And
the knight was very grateful, and said,
‘Come and stay at my castle to-night, and
to-morrow I will reward you.’
‘I want no reward,’ said Gareth. ‘And
besides, I must follow this lady.’ But when
he rode up to Lynette, she said, ‘Ride
further off, for still you smell of the kitchen.’
‘You are no knight, though you killed the
Then the knight who had been set free
rode up, and asked Lynette to come to his
castle, and as it was getting dark in the
forest, she was glad to stay with him that
At supper-time, the knight put a chair for
Gareth beside Lynette.
‘Sir Knight, you are wrong to put a
kitchen-knave beside me,’ said the lady, ‘for
I am of noble birth.’
‘The noble-looking knight a kitchen-knave!
What does the lady mean!’ But
he took Gareth to another table, and sat
there himself with him.
The next morning Gareth and Lynette
thanked the knight, and rode on, till they
came to another great forest, and at the end
of the forest they reached a broad river.
There was only one place where the river
was narrow and could be crossed, and this
passage was guarded by two knights.
‘Will you fight two knights,’ mocked
Lynette, ‘or will you turn back again?’
‘Six knights would not make me turn
back,’ said Gareth, as he rushed into
the river. One knight rushed in from the
further side, and Gareth and he fought with
their swords in the middle of the stream.
At last Gareth smote him on the helmet so
violently that he fell down into the water
and was drowned.
Then Gareth spurred his horse up the
bank where the other knight stood waiting
for him, and this knight fought so fiercely
that he broke Gareth’s spear. Then they
both drew their swords, and fought for a long
time, till in the end Gareth won the victory.
Gareth then crossed over the river again
to Lynette, and told her to ride on, for the
passage across the river was clear.
‘Alas, that a kitchen-page should kill
two brave knights!’ cried Lynette. ‘But do
not think your skill killed these men.’ And
she told Gareth she had seen the horse of
the first knight stumble, and that that was
why he was drowned. ‘And, as for the second
knight, you came behind and slew him like
a coward,’ she said.
‘Lady,’ said Gareth, ‘say what you like;
but lead on, and I follow to deliver your
sister.’ So Gareth and the lady rode on
In the evening they came to a strange
and dreary country, where everything looked
black. On one side of a black hawthorn
hung a black banner, on the other side hung
a black shield. Beside the shield there was
a long black spear, and close to the spear
there was a great black horse, covered with
silk, and the silk was black. And looking
blacker than all the rest was a huge black
Through the darkness they could see some
one sitting near the rock. It was a knight,
and he was armed in black armour, and his
name was ‘the Knight of the Black Land.’
Lynette saw the knight. ‘Flee down the
valley, before the Black Knight saddles his
horse,’ she called to Gareth. But she knew
that even the Black Knight would not
frighten her kitchen-knave.
The Black Knight saddled his horse and
rode up to them. ‘Is this your knight,
and has he come to fight me?’ he asked
‘He is only a kitchen-boy, he is no knight
of mine,’ Lynette answered. And in a cruel
voice she added, ‘I wish you could slay him
and take him out of my way; but he does
wonderful deeds with his sword, and has
just slain two knights.’
‘If he is no knight, I will take his horse
and armour, and let him go. It would be a
shame to take his life,’ said the Black Knight.
Gareth was very angry when he heard this.
‘I am on my way to Castle Dangerous, and
I mean to reach it,’ he said to the Black
Knight. ‘And as for my horse and armour,
you cannot have them unless you take them
from me in fair fight.’
Then they began to fight on foot, and
the Black Knight wounded Gareth, but
Gareth smote him with such strength, that
his sword cut through the knight’s armour,
and then the Black Knight fell to the
ground and died. This was the fiercest
fight Gareth had ever fought, and it lasted
for an hour and a half.
Once more Gareth went back to Lynette
a conqueror, but still she cried, ‘Do not come
near me, kitchen-knave. You have slain a
noble knight. Let me ride on alone.’
‘Whatever happens I will follow you till
we reach the Lady Lyonors,’ said Gareth.
They were coming near to Castle Dangerous
now, but before they reached it, a knight
dressed all in green stopped them.
And Gareth fought the Green Knight too.
But when he had struck him to the ground,
the Green Knight begged Gareth to spare
‘It is useless to ask me to spare your life,
for you shall die, unless the Lady Lynette
asks me to set you free,’ said Gareth. And
he began to undo the helmet of the Green
Knight, as if he meant to slay him.
‘I will never ask a favour of a kitchen-page,’
said Lynette haughtily. ‘I will never
ask you to spare the Green Knight’s life.’
‘Spare my life,’ entreated the Green
Knight, ‘and I and my thirty followers will
serve you for ever.’
‘It is useless for you to ask me,’ repeated
Gareth. ‘Only the Lady Lynette can save
your life.’ And again he lifted his sword, as
if to slay the Green Knight.
‘You will not slay him, for if you do, you
will be sorry,’ stammered Lynette, as she
saw Gareth’s sword coming down to kill the
Gareth heard Lynette’s voice, and at once
put away his sword, and gave the Green
Knight his freedom.
In his gratitude the knight persuaded
Gareth and Lynette to stay with him that
night, ‘and in the morning I will help you
to reach Castle Dangerous,’ he said.
That evening at supper-time, Lynette
again mocked Gareth. He had never asked
her to be more gentle to him, but now
he said, ‘Mock me no more, for in spite
of all your taunts I have killed many
knights, and cleared the forests of the
Now Lynette had begun to feel ashamed
of her unkindness, and as she listened to
Gareth, and thought how loyally he had
served her, she felt sorry that she had been
so unkind. And she asked Gareth to forgive
her for being so rude.
‘I forgive you with all my heart,’ said
Gareth, and at last they rode on happily
side by side.
Then Gareth sent his dwarf on in front to
tell Lynette’s sister that they were near her
castle. And the Lady Lyonors asked the
dwarf a great many questions about his
‘He is a noble knight and a kind master,’
said the dwarf; and he told the lady of all
the adventures they had met on their way
to her castle. And Lyonors longed to see
the knight who had fought so often and
so bravely to reach her.
And now there was only the Red Knight
between Gareth and the Lady Lyonors.
On the great tree, outside the castle,
Gareth saw hanging the bodies of forty
knights, with their shields round their
necks and their spurs on their heels. As
he looked at this terrible sight, Gareth was
Then Lynette reminded him of all his
victories, and of how even the Black Knight
had yielded to him. But what encouraged
Gareth more than all Lynette said was that,
when he looked up to the castle, he saw a
beautiful lady at one of the windows. She
smiled and waved her hands to him, and
he knew that this was the Lady Lyonors.
Then all his courage came back.
‘This is the fairest lady I have ever seen,’
thought Gareth. ‘I ask nothing better than
to be allowed to do battle for her, and win
her from the Red Knight.’
Outside the castle, hanging on a sycamore
tree, was a great horn, made of an elephant’s
bone, and whoever wished to fight the Red
Knight must blow this horn.
Gareth looked again at the window where
Lyonors still watched, and hesitating no
longer, blew the horn so piercingly and so
long, that he woke all the echoes of the
Then the Knight of the Red Lands armed
himself in great haste, and his barons
brought him a red spear, and a steed
covered with red silk. And the Red Knight
rode proudly down into the valley, to slay
Gareth, as he had slain the other forty
‘Do not look any longer at the castle
window,’ said the Red Knight roughly to
Gareth. ‘The Lady Lyonors is mine. I
have fought many battles for her.’
‘I know that the Lady Lyonors does not
love you nor your ways, for they are cruel,’
said Gareth, ‘and I will rescue her from you,
‘Look at the dead knights on those trees,
and beware,’ said the Red Knight, ‘or soon
I will hang your body beside theirs.’
‘That is a sight that makes me only more
anxious to fight,’ said Gareth, ‘for you break
the rules of all true knights by your cruelty.’
‘Talk no more,’ said the Red Knight, ‘but
get ready for the combat.’
Then Gareth told Lynette to go further
off, to a place of safety.
And the two knights smote each other
so fiercely in the front of their shields that
they both fell off their horses, still holding
the reins in their hands. And they lay
stunned on the ground so long, that those
who were watching from the castle thought
their necks were broken.
But after a time, leaving their horses, they
fought on foot. And the battle was so rough
that great pieces of their shields and armour
were knocked off, and left lying on the field.
And they fought till twelve o’clock. But
by that time they were so worn out that
they staggered about, scarcely knowing
where they went, and their wounds bled so
much that they were faint.
They fought till evening, and then they
both agreed to rest for a little while.
Then Gareth took off his helmet, and looked
up to the castle window. And when he saw
the Lady Lyonors looking down at him, with
great kindness in her eyes, his heart felt all
at once light and glad.
And her kindness made him strong, and
he started up quickly and called to the Red
Knight to fight, ‘and this time to the death,’
In his fury the Red Knight knocked the
sword out of Gareth’s hand, and before he
could get it again, he gave him such a blow
on his helmet that Gareth stumbled and fell
to the ground.
Then Lynette called out, ‘O Gareth, have
you lost your courage? My sister weeps
and breaks her heart, because her true
knight has fallen.’
When Gareth heard that, he got up,
and with a great effort leaped to where
his sword lay, and caught it in his hand,
and began to fight as if he fought a new
And his strokes fell so quickly on his foe,
that the Red Knight lost his sword and fell
to the ground, and Gareth threw himself on
him to slay him. But the knight begged
piteously for his life.
‘Go to the castle and yield your homage
to the Lady Lyonors,’ said Gareth. ‘And if
she is willing to pardon you, you are free,
after you restore the lands and castles
you have taken from her.’
Then the Red Knight gladly restored all
he had stolen. And after he had been forgiven
by the Lady Lyonors, he journeyed
to the court, and told Arthur all that Sir
Gareth had done.
And Lynette came and took off Gareth’s
armour and bathed his wounds, and he
rested in his tent for ten days.
‘I will go to the castle and ask Lyonors
to come home with me and be my wife,’
thought Gareth, as soon as his wounds
were healed. But when he came to the
castle, he found the drawbridge pulled up,
and many armed men were there, who
would not let him enter.
‘But Lyonors, I must see Lyonors,’
thought Gareth. ‘Surely she will wish to
see me,’ and he looked wistfully up to the
window, and there beautiful as ever, was
his Lady Lyonors.
‘I cannot love you altogether,’ said
Lyonors, ‘till you have been King Arthur’s
knight for another year, and helped to clear
the land from his enemies.’
Though he was a good knight, Gareth’s
heart was heavy as he listened. ‘If I do
not see Lyonors for a year,’ he thought,
‘the months will pass more slowly and
seem more empty than those long months I
spent in the King’s kitchen.’ But as Gareth
was a right loyal knight, he bowed to his
lady’s will. He had freed the castle from
the Red Knight, and now it was open to
every one, only he himself was banished.
And he went away sadly but faithfully to
find new adventures.
And when Gareth slept in the forests or
on the wild mountain-sides, he often dreamed
of the day that would come when his year’s
wanderings were over, when Lyonors would
be his wife, and together they would go back
to King Arthur’s court, and he would at last
be known to every one as Sir Gareth and a
He dreamed, too, of the happier day, when
he would take the beautiful Lyonors to his
mother, and show her the mountain home he
loved so well.
SIR GALAHAD AND THE
‘My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure,’
sang Galahad gladly. He was only a boy,
but he had just been made a knight by Sir
Lancelot, and the old abbey, where he had
lived all his life, rang with the echo of his
Sir Lancelot heard the boy’s clear voice
singing in triumph. As he stopped to listen,
he caught the words,
‘My strength is as the strength of ten,
Because my heart is pure,’
and the great knight wished he were a boy
again, and could sing that song too.
Twelve nuns lived in the quiet abbey, and
they had taught Galahad lovingly and carefully,
ever since he had come to them as a
beautiful little child. And the boy had dwelt
happily with them there in the still old abbey,
and he would be sorry to leave them, but he
was a knight now. He would fight for the
King he reverenced so greatly, and for the
country he loved so well.
Yet when Sir Lancelot left the abbey the
next day, Galahad did not go with him. He
would stay in his old home a little longer, he
thought. He would not grieve the nuns by
a hurried farewell.
Sir Lancelot left the abbey alone, but as
he rode along he met two knights, and
together they reached Camelot, where the
King was holding a great festival.
King Arthur welcomed Sir Lancelot and
the two knights. ‘Now all the seats at our
table will be filled,’ he said gladly. For it
pleased the King when the circle of his
knights was unbroken.
Then all the King’s household went to
service at the minster, and when they came
back to the palace they saw a strange sight.
In the dining-hall the Round Table at
which the King and his knights always sat
seemed strangely bright.
The King looked more closely, and saw
that at one place on this Round Table were
large gold letters. And he read, ‘This is
the seat of Sir Galahad, the Pure-hearted.’
But only Sir Lancelot knew that Sir Galahad
was the boy-knight he had left behind him
in the quiet old abbey.
‘We will cover the letters till the Knight
of the Pure Heart comes,’ said Sir Lancelot;
and he took silk and laid it over the glittering
Then as they sat down to table they were
disturbed by Sir Kay, the steward of the
‘You do not sit down to eat at this
festival,’ Sir Kay reminded the King, ‘till you
have seen or heard some great adventure.’
And the King told his steward that the
writing in gold had made him forget his
As they waited a squire came hastily
into the hall. ‘I have a strange tale to
tell,’ he said. ‘As I walked along the
bank of the river I saw a great stone,
and it floated on the top of the water,
and into the stone there has been thrust
Then the King and all his knights went
down to the river, and they saw the stone,
and it was like red marble. And the sword
that had been thrust into the stone was
strong and fair. The handle of it was studded
with precious stones, and among the stones
there were letters of gold.
The King stepped forward, and bending
over the sword read these words: ‘No
one shall take me away but he to whom
I belong. I will hang only by the side of
the best knight in the world.’
The King turned to Sir Lancelot. ‘The
sword is yours, for surely there lives no
But Sir Lancelot answered gravely, ‘The
sword is not mine. It will never hang by
my side, for I dare not try to take it.’
The King was sorry that his great knight’s
courage failed, but he turned to Sir Gawaine
and asked him to try to take the sword.
And at first Sir Gawaine hesitated. But
when he looked again at the precious stones
that sparkled on the handle, he hesitated
no longer. But he no sooner touched the
sword than it wounded him, so that he
could not use his arm for many days.
Then the King turned to Sir Percivale.
And because Arthur wished it, Sir Percivale
tried to take the sword; but he could not
move it. And after that no other knight
dared to touch the fair sword; so they
turned and went back to the palace.
In the dining-hall the King and his knights
sat down once more at the Round Table,
and each knight knew his own chair. And
all the seats were filled except the chair
opposite the writing in gold.
It had been a day full of surprise, but
now the most wonderful thing of all
happened. For as they sat down, suddenly
all the doors of the palace shut with a loud
noise, but no one had touched the doors.
And all the windows were softly closed, but
no one saw the hands that closed them.
Then one of the doors opened, and there
came in a very old man dressed all in white,
and no one knew whence he came.
By his side was a young man in red
armour. He had neither sword nor shield,
but hanging by his side was an empty
There was a great silence in the hall
as the old man said slowly and solemnly,
‘I bring you the young knight Sir Galahad,
who is descended from a king. He shall
do many great deeds, and he shall see the
‘He shall see the Holy Grail,’ the knights
repeated, with awe on their faces.
For far back, in the days of their boyhood,
they had heard the story of the Holy Grail.
It was the Sacred Cup out of which their
Lord had drunk before He died.
And they had been told how sometimes
it was seen carried by angels, and how
at other times in a gleam of light. But
in whatever way it appeared, it was seen
only by those who were pure in heart.
And as the old man’s words, ‘He shall see
the Holy Grail,’ fell on their ears, the knights
thought of the story they had heard so long
ago, and they were sorry, for they had never
seen the Sacred Cup, and they knew that
it was unseen only by those who had done
But the old man was telling the boy-knight
to follow him. He led him to the empty
chair, and lifted the silk that covered the
golden letters. ‘This is the seat of Sir
Galahad, the Pure-hearted,’ he read aloud.
And the young knight sat in the empty
seat that belonged to him.
Then the old man left the palace, and
twenty noble squires met him, and took him
back to his own country.
When dinner was ended, the King went
over to the chair where his boy-knight sat,
and welcomed him to the circle of the Round
Table. Afterwards he took Sir Galahad’s
hand, and led him out of the palace to show
him the strange red stone that floated on
the river. When Sir Galahad heard how
the knights could not draw the sword out
of the stone, he knew that this adventure
‘I will try to take the sword,’ said the
boy-knight, ‘and place it in my sheath, for
it is empty,’ and he pointed to his side.
Then he laid his hand on the wonderful
sword, and easily drew it out of the stone,
and placed it in his sheath.
‘God has sent you the sword, now He
will send you a shield as well,’ said King
Then the King proclaimed that the next
day there would be a tournament in the
meadows of Camelot. For before his knights
went out to new adventures, he would see
Sir Galahad proved.
And in the morning the meadows lay
bright in the sunshine. And the boy-knight
rode bravely to his first combat, and overthrew
many men; but Sir Lancelot and
Sir Percivale he could not overthrow.
When the tournament was over the King
and his knights went home to supper, and
each sat in his own seat at the Round Table.
All at once there was a loud crashing
noise, a noise that was louder than any peal
of thunder. Was the King’s wonderful
palace falling to pieces?
But while the noise still sounded a
marvellous light stole into the room, a light
brighter than any sunbeam.
As the knights looked at one another,
each seemed to the other to have a new
glory and a new beauty in his face.
And down the sunbeam glided the Holy
Grail. It was the Sacred Cup they had all
longed to see. But no one saw it, for it
was invisible to all but the pure-hearted
As the strange light faded away, King
Arthur heard his knights vowing that they
would go in search of the Holy Grail, and never
give up the quest till they had found it.
And the boy-knight knew that he too
would go over land and sea, till he saw
again the wonderful vision.
That night the King could not sleep, for
his sorrow was great. His knights would
wander into far-off countries, and many of
them would forget that they were in search
of the Holy Grail. Would they not have
found the Sacred Cup one day if they
had stayed with their King and helped to
clear the country of its enemies?
In the morning the streets of Camelot
were crowded with rich and poor. And the
people wept as they watched the knights
ride away on their strange quest. And the
King wept too, for he knew that now there
would be many empty chairs at the Round
The knights rode together to a strange
city and stayed there all night. The next day
they separated, each going a different way.
Sir Galahad rode on for four days without
adventure. At last he came to a white
abbey, where he was received very kindly.
And he found two knights there, and one
was a King.
‘What adventure has brought you here?’
asked the boy-knight.
Then they told him that in this abbey
there was a shield. And if any man tried
to carry it, he was either wounded or dead
within three days.
‘But to-morrow I shall try to bear it,’
said the King.
‘In the name of God, let me take the
shield,’ said Sir Galahad gravely.
‘If I fail, you shall try to bear it,’ said the
King. And Galahad was glad, for he had
still no shield of his own.
Then a monk took the King and the
young knight behind the altar, and showed
them where the shield hung. It was as
white as snow, but in the middle there
was a red cross.
‘The shield can be borne only by the
worthiest knight in the world,’ the monk
warned the King.
‘I will try to bear it, though I am no
worthy knight,’ insisted the King; and he
took the shield and rode down into the valley.
And Galahad waited at the abbey, for the
King had said he would send his squire
to tell the young knight how the shield had
For two miles the King rode through the
valley, till he reached a hermitage. And
he saw a warrior there, dressed in white
armour, and sitting on a white horse.
The warrior rode quickly towards the
King, and struck him so hard that he broke
his armour. Then he thrust his spear
through the King’s right shoulder, as
though he held no shield.
‘The shield can be borne only by a peerless
knight. It does not belong to you,’ said
the warrior, as he gave it to the squire,
telling him to carry it back to the abbey
and to give it to Sir Galahad with his
‘Then tell me your name,’ said the
‘I will tell neither you nor any one on
earth,’ said the warrior. And he disappeared,
and the squire saw him no more.
‘I will take the wounded King to an
abbey, that his wounds may be dressed,’
thought the squire.
And with great difficulty the King and
his squire reached an abbey. And the
monks thought his life could not be saved,
but after many days he was cured.
Then the squire rode back to the abbey
where Galahad waited. ‘The warrior who
wounded the King bids you bear this shield,’
Galahad hung the shield round his neck
joyfully, and rode into the valley to seek the
warrior dressed in white.
And when they met they saluted each
other courteously. And the warrior told
Sir Galahad strange tales of the white
shield, till the knight thanked God that
now it was his. And all his life long the
white shield with the red cross was one
of his great treasures.
Now Galahad rode back to the abbey, and
the monks were glad to see him again. ‘We
have need of a pure knight,’ they said,
as they took Sir Galahad to a tomb in the
A pitiful noise was heard, and a voice
from the tomb cried, ‘Galahad, servant of
God, do not come near me.’ But the young
knight went towards the tomb and raised
Then a thick smoke was seen, and through
the smoke a figure uglier than any man
leaped from the tomb, shouting, ‘Angels are
round thee, Galahad, servant of God. I can
do you no harm.’
The knight stooped down and saw a body
all dressed in armour lying there, and a
sword lay by its side.
‘This was a false knight,’ said Sir Galahad.
‘Let us carry his body away from this place.’
‘You will stay in the abbey and live with us,’
entreated the monks. But the boy-knight
could not rest. Would he see the light that
was brighter than any sunbeam again?
Would his adventures bring him at last to
the Holy Grail?
Sir Galahad rode on many days, till at last
he reached a mountain. On the mountain
he found an old chapel. It was empty and
very desolate. Galahad knelt alone before
the altar, and asked God to tell him what to
And as he prayed a voice said, ‘Thou brave
knight, go to the Castle of Maidens and
Galahad rose, and gladly journeyed on to
the Castle of Maidens.
There he found seven knights, who long
ago had seized the castle from a maiden to
whom it belonged. And these knights had
imprisoned her and many other maidens.
When the seven knights saw Sir Galahad
they came out of the castle. ‘We will take
this young knight captive, and keep him
in prison,’ they said to each other, as they
fell upon him.
But Sir Galahad smote the first knight to
the ground, so that he almost broke his
neck. And as his wonderful sword flashed in
the light, sudden fear fell on the six knights
that were left, and they turned and fled.
Then an old man took the keys of the castle
to Galahad. And the knight opened the
gates of the castle, and set free many
prisoners. He gave the castle back to the
maiden to whom it belonged, and sent for
all the knights in the country round about
to do her homage.
Then once again Sir Galahad rode on in
search of the Holy Grail. And the way
seemed long, yet on and on he rode, till at
last he reached the sea.
There, on the shore, stood a maiden, and
when she saw Sir Galahad, she led him to a
ship and told him to enter.
The wind rose and drove the ship, with
Sir Galahad on board, between two rocks.
But when the ship could not pass that way,
the knight left it, and entered a smaller one
that awaited him.
In this ship was a table, and on the table,
covered with a red cloth, was the Holy Grail.
Reverently Sir Galahad sank on his knees.
But still the Sacred Cup was covered.
At last the ship reached a strange city,
and on the shore sat a crippled man. Sir
Galahad asked his help to lift the table from
‘For ten years I have not walked without
crutches,’ said the man.
‘Show that you are willing, and come to
me,’ urged the knight.
And the cripple got up, and when he found
that he was cured, he ran to Sir Galahad,
and together they carried the wonderful
table to the shore.
Then all the city was astonished, and the
people talked only of the great marvel.
‘The man that was a cripple for ten years
can walk,’ each said to the other.
The King of the city heard the wonderful
tale, but he was a cruel King and a tyrant.
‘The knight is not a good man,’ he said to
his people, and he commanded that Galahad
should be put in prison. And the prison
was underneath the palace, and it was dark
and cold there.
But down into the darkness streamed the
light that had made Galahad so glad long
ago at Camelot. And in the light Galahad
saw the Holy Grail.
A year passed and the cruel King was very
ill, and he thought he would die. Then he
remembered the knight he had treated so
unkindly, and who was still in the dark, cold
prison. ‘I will send for him, and ask him to
forgive me,’ murmured the King.
And when Galahad was brought to the
palace, he willingly forgave the tyrant who
had put him in prison.
Then the King died, and there was great
dismay in the city, for where would they find
a good ruler to sit on the throne?
As they wondered, they heard a voice that
told them to make Sir Galahad their King,
and in great joy the knight was crowned.
Then the new King ordered a box of gold
and precious stones to be made, and in this
box he placed the wonderful table he had
carried away from the ship. ‘And every
morning I and my people will come here to
pray,’ he said.
For a year Sir Galahad ruled the country
well and wisely.
‘A year ago they crowned me King,’
thought Galahad gravely, as he woke one
morning. He would get up early, and go to
pray at the precious table.
But before the King reached the table he
paused. It was early. Surely all the city
was asleep. Yet some one was already
there, kneeling before the table on which,
uncovered, stood the Sacred Cup.
The man kneeling there looked holy as
the saints look. Surrounding him was a
circle of angels. Was it a saint who kneeled,
or was it the Lord Himself?
When the man saw Sir Galahad, he said,
‘Come near, thou servant of Jesus Christ,
and thou shalt see what thou hast so much
longed to see.’
And with joy Sir Galahad saw again the
Holy Grail. Then as he kneeled before it in
prayer, his soul left his body and was carried
by angels into heaven.
THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR
It was not to win renown that King Arthur
had gone far across the sea, for he loved his
own country so well, that to gain glory at
home made him happiest of all.
But a false knight with his followers was
laying waste the country across the sea, and
Arthur had gone to wage war against him.
‘And you, Sir Modred, will rule the country
while I am gone,’ the King had said. And
the knight smiled as he thought of the
power that would be his.
At first the people missed their great King
Arthur, but as the months passed they began
to forget him, and to talk only of Sir Modred
and his ways.
And he, that he might gain the people’s
praise, made easier laws than ever Arthur
had done, till by and by there were many
in the country who wished that the King
would never come back.
When Modred knew what the people
wished, he was glad, and he made up his
mind to do a cruel deed.
He would cause letters to be written from
beyond the sea, and the letters would tell
that the great King Arthur had been slain
And when the letters came the people
read, ‘King Arthur is dead,’ and they believed
the news was true.
And there were some who wept because
the noble King was slain, but some had no
time to weep. ‘We must find a new King,’
they said. And because his laws were
easy, these chose Sir Modred to rule over
The wicked knight was pleased that the
people wished him to be their King. ‘They
shall take me to Canterbury to crown me,’
he said proudly. And the nobles took him
there, and amid shouts and rejoicings he was
But it was not very long till other letters
came from across the sea, saying that King
Arthur had not been slain, and that he was
coming back to rule over his own country
When Sir Modred heard that King Arthur
was on his way home, he collected a great
army and went to Dover to try to keep the
King from landing.
But no army would have been strong
enough to keep Arthur and his knights away
from the country they loved so well. They
fought fiercely till they got on shore and
scattered all Sir Modred’s men.
Then the knight gathered together another
army, and chose a new battle-field.
But King Arthur fought so bravely that he
and his men were again victorious, and Sir
Modred fled to Canterbury.
Many of the people began to forsake the
false knight now, and saying that he was a
traitor, they went back to King Arthur.
But still Sir Modred wished to conquer
the King. He would go through the counties
of Kent and Surrey and raise a new army.
Now King Arthur had dreamed that if he
fought with Sir Modred again he would be
slain. So when he heard that the knight
had raised another army, he thought, ‘I will
meet this traitor who has betrayed me. When
he looks in my face, he will be ashamed and
remember his vow of obedience.’
And he sent two bishops to Sir Modred.
‘Say to the knight that the King would
speak with him alone,’ said Arthur.
And the traitor thought, ‘The King wishes
to give me gold or great power, if I send my
army away without fighting.’ ‘I will meet
King Arthur,’ he said to the bishops.
But because he did not altogether trust
the King he said he would take fourteen
men with him to the meeting-place, ‘and the
King must have fourteen men with him too,’
said Sir Modred. ‘And our armies shall keep
watch when we meet, and if a sword is lifted
it shall be the signal for battle.’
Then King Arthur arranged a feast for Sir
Modred and his men. And as they feasted all
went merrily till an adder glided out of a
little bush and stung one of the knight’s
men. And the pain was so great, that the
man quickly drew his sword to kill the adder.
And when the armies saw the sword flash
in the light, they sprang to their feet and
began to fight, ‘for this is the signal for
battle,’ they thought.
And when evening came there were many
thousand slain and wounded, and Sir Modred
was left alone. But Arthur had still two
knights with him, Sir Lucan and Sir Bedivere.
When King Arthur saw that his army was
lost and all his knights slain but two, he
said, ‘Would to God I could find Sir Modred,
who has caused all this trouble.’
‘He is yonder,’ said Sir Lucan, ‘but remember
your dream, and go not near him.’
‘Whether I die or live,’ said the King, ‘he
shall not escape.’ And seizing his spear he
ran to Sir Modred, crying, ‘Now you shall
And Arthur smote him under the shield,
and the spear passed through his body, and
Then, wounded and exhausted, the King
fainted, and his knights lifted him and
took him to a little chapel not far from a
As the King lay there, he heard cries
of fear and pain from the distant battle-field.
‘What causes these cries?’ said the King
wearily. And to soothe the sick King, Sir
Lucan said he would go to see.
And when he reached the battle-field, he
saw in the moonlight that robbers were on
the field stooping over the slain, and taking
from them their rings and their gold. And
those that were only wounded, the robbers
slew, that they might take their jewels
Sir Lucan hastened back, and told the
King what he had seen.
‘We will carry you farther off, lest the
robbers find us here,’ said the knights. And
Sir Lucan lifted the King on one side and Sir
Bedivere lifted him on the other.
But Sir Lucan had been wounded in the
battle, and as he lifted the King he fell back
Then Arthur and Sir Bedivere wept for the
Now the King felt so ill that he thought he
would not live much longer, and he turned
to Sir Bedivere: ‘Take Excalibur, my good
sword,’ he said, ‘and go with it to the lake,
and throw it into its waters. Then come
quickly and tell me what you see.’
Sir Bedivere took the sword and went
down to the lake. But as he looked at the
handle with its sparkling gems and the richness
of the sword, he thought he could not
throw it away. ‘I will hide it carefully here
among the rushes,’ thought the knight. And
when he had hidden it, he went slowly to the
King and told him he had thrown the sword
into the lake.
‘What did you see?’ asked the King
‘Nothing but the ripple of the waves as
they broke on the beach,’ said Sir Bedivere.
‘You have not told me the truth,’ said the
King. ‘If you love me, go again to the lake,
and throw my sword into the water.’
Again the knight went to the water’s edge.
He drew the sword from its hiding-place.
He would do the King’s will, for he loved him.
But again the beauty of the sword made him
pause. ‘It is a noble sword; I will not throw
it away,’ he murmured, as once more he hid
it among the rushes. Then he went back
more slowly, and told the King that he had
done his will.
‘What did you see?’ asked the King.
‘Nothing but the ripples of the waves as
they broke on the beach,’ repeated the
‘You have betrayed me twice,’ said the
King sadly, ‘and yet you are a noble knight!
Go again to the lake, and do not betray me
for a rich sword.’
Then for the third time Sir Bedivere went
to the water’s edge, and drawing the sword
from among the rushes, he flung it as far as
he could into the lake.
And as the knight watched, an arm and a
hand appeared above the surface of the lake.
He saw the hand seize the sword, and shaking
it three times, disappear again under the
water. Then Sir Bedivere went back quickly
to the King, and told him what he had seen.
‘Carry me to the lake,’ entreated Arthur,
‘for I have been here too long.’
And the knight carried the King on his
shoulders down to the water’s side. There
they found a barge lying, and seated in it were
three Queens, and each Queen wore a black
hood. And when they saw King Arthur they
‘Lay me in the barge,’ said the King. And
when Sir Bedivere had laid him there,
King Arthur rested his head on the lap of the
fairest Queen. And they rowed from land.
Sir Bedivere, left alone, watched the barge
as it drifted out of sight, and then he went
sorrowfully on his way, till he reached a
hermitage. And he lived there as a hermit
for the rest of his life.
And the barge was rowed to a vale where
the King was healed of his wound.
And some say that now he is dead, but
others say that King Arthur will come again,
and clear the country of its foes.
Edinburgh: Printed by T. and A. Constable