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The Good King Arthur

Source: Myths And Legends Of All Nations.

Probably every one knows the story of the great King Arthur who, the
legends say, ruled in Britain so many, many years ago and gathered
about him in his famous Round Table, knights of splendid courage,
tried and proven. So well loved was the story of Arthur in other
countries as well as in England that it was among the very first works
ever printed in Europe, and it was still welcomed centuries later when
the great English poet, Alfred Tennyson, told it in his _Idylls of the

The boy Arthur was really the son of King Uther Pendragon, but few
persons knew of his birth. Uther had given him into the care of the
enchanter Merlin, who had carried him to the castle of Sir Hector,[A]
an old friend of Uther's. Here the young prince lived as a child of
the house.

Now Merlin was a very wise man, and when King Uther died several years
later the noblemen asked his advice in choosing a new king.

"Gather together in St. Stephen's Church in London, on Christmas Day,"
was all the enchanter answered.

So the knights assembled, and when the mass was over and they passed
out into the churchyard, there they beheld a large block of stone,
upon which rested a heavy anvil. The blade of a jeweled sword was sunk
deeply into the anvil.

Wondering, the noblemen drew near. One of them discovered an
inscription upon the hilt which said that none but the man who could
draw out the sword should ever rule in Uther's place. One by one they
tried, but the sword was firmly imbedded. No one could draw it forth.

Arthur was only a baby at this time, but some years later Sir Hector
traveled up to London, bringing with him his own son, Sir Kay, and his
foster son, Arthur. Sir Kay had just reached manhood and was to take
part in his first tournament. Imagine his distress, therefore, when,
on arriving at the tourney ground, he discovered that he had forgotten
to bring his sword.

"I will fetch it for you," cried the young Arthur, anxious to be of

He found the apartment of Sir Kay closed and locked; but he was
determined to get a sword for his brother, and remembering the huge
anvil he had seen in the churchyard, he hurried toward it. Grasping
the hilt of the projecting sword, he drew it out easily.

Happy over his good fortune, Arthur returned to the tourney ground and
gave the new sword to his foster brother. Sir Hector, who stood near,
recognized it.

"Where did you get that sword?" he asked.

"From the great anvil in the churchyard of St. Stephen's I drew it,"
was the answer.

But Sir Hector still doubted, and when the tournament was over, he and
all the principal nobles of the realm rode back to the churchyard.

Arthur replaced the sword in the anvil and stood aside while all
present tried to draw it forth. None succeeded. Then Arthur again
stepped up, grasped the hilt and pulled out the blade.

"The king, the king!" the people cried; for they knew that at last
they had found a worthy successor to the good King Uther.

So Arthur was crowned king and entered upon that wise and kingly rule
of which the praises have so often been sung.

Following are the stories of the coming and passing of Arthur as they
are related by Tennyson:

Next: The Coming Of Arthur

Previous: Beowulf And Grendel

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