The Good King Arthur





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

King_.



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

service.



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:





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