Arthur/亚瑟王，Merlin/莫林法师，King of Britain/英国之王
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"Whoso can draw
forth this sword,
is rightful King of Britain born."
Arthur and the Sword in the Stone (I)
LONG years ago, there ruled over
Britain a King called Uther Pendragon. A mighty prince was he,
and feared by all men; yet, when he sought the love of the fair
Igraine of Cornwall, she would have naught to do with him, so
that, from grief and disappointment, Uther fell sick, and at
last seemed like to die.
Now in those days, there lived a
famous magician named Merlin, so powerful that he could change
his form at will, or even make himself invisible; nor was there
any place so remote but that he could reach it at once, merely
by wishing himself there. One day, suddenly he stood at Uther's
bedside, and said: "Sir King, I know thy grief, and am ready to
help thee. Only promise to give me, at his birth, the son that
shall be born to thee, and thou shalt have thy heart's desire."
To this the King agreed joyfully, and Merlin kept his word: for
he gave Uther the form of one whom Igraine had loved dearly, and
so she took him willingly for her husband.
When the time had come that a
child should be born to the King and Queen, Merlin appeared
before Uther to remind him of his promise; and Uther swore it
should be as he had said. Three days later, a prince was born
and, with pomp and ceremony, was christened by the name of
Arthur; but immediately thereafter, the King commanded that the
child should be carried to the postern-gate, there to be given
to the old man who would be found waiting without.
Not long after, Uther fell sick,
and he knew that his end was come; so, by Merlin's advice; he
called together his knights and barons, and said to them: "My
death draws near. I charge you, therefore, that ye obey my son
even as ye have obeyed me; and my curse upon him if he claim not
the crown when he is a man grown." Then the King turned his face
to the wall and died.
Scarcely was Uther laid in his
grave before disputes arose. Few of the nobles had seen Arthur
or even heard of him, and not one of them would have been
willing to be ruled by a child; rather, each thought himself
fitted to be King, and, strengthening his own castle, made war
on his neighbours until confusion alone was supreme and the poor
groaned because there was none to help them.
Now when Merlin carried away
Arthur—for Merlin was the old man who had stood at the
postern-gate—he had known all that would happen, and had taken
the child to keep him safe from the fierce barons until he
should be of age to rule wisely and well, and perform all the
wonders prophesied of him. He gave the child to the care of the
good knight Sir Ector to bring up with his son Kay, but revealed
not to him that it was the son of Uther Pendragon that was given
into his charge.
At last, when years had passed
and Arthur was grown a tall youth well skilled in knightly
exercises, Merlin went to the Archbishop of Canterbury and
advised him that he should call together at Christmas-time all
the chief men of the realm to the great cathedral in London;
"For," said Merlin, "there shall be seen a great marvel by which
it shall be made clear to all men who is the lawful King of this
land." The Archbishop did as Merlin counselled. Under pain of a
fearful curse, he bade barons and knights come to London to keep
the feast, and to pray heaven to send peace to the realm.
The people hastened to obey the
Archbishop's commands, and, from all sides, barons and knights
came riding in to keep the birth-feast of our Lord. And when
they had prayed, and were coming forth from the cathedral, they
saw a strange sight. There, in the open space before the church,
stood, on a great stone, an anvil thrust through with a sword;
and on the stone were written these words: "Whoso can draw forth
this sword, is rightful King of Britain born."