Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK I CHAPTER XX
Legends and Sagas
How King Pellinore took Arthur's horse and followed the
Questing Beast, and how Merlin met with Arthur.
SIR knight, said the king, leave that quest, and suffer me
to have it, and I will follow it another twelvemonth. Ah,
fool, said the knight unto Arthur, it is in vain thy desire,
<37>for it shall never be achieved but by me, or my next kin.
Therewith he started unto the king's horse and mounted into the
saddle, and said, Gramercy, this horse is my own. Well, said the
king, thou mayst take my horse by force, but an I might prove
thee whether thou were better on horseback or I.--Well, said the
knight, seek me here when thou wilt, and here nigh this well thou
shalt find me, and so passed on his way. Then the king sat in a
study, and bade his men fetch his horse as fast as ever they
might. Right so came by him Merlin like a child of fourteen year
of age, and saluted the king, and asked him why he was so
pensive. I may well be pensive, said the king, for I have seen
the marvellest sight that ever I saw. That know I well, said
Merlin, as well as thyself, and of all thy thoughts, but thou art
but a fool to take thought, for it will not amend thee. Also I
know what thou art, and who was thy father, and of whom thou wert
begotten; King Uther Pendragon was thy father, and begat thee on
Igraine. That is false, said King Arthur, how shouldest thou
know it, for thou art not so old of years to know my father?
Yes, said Merlin, I know it better than ye or any man living. I
will not believe thee, said Arthur, and was wroth with the child.
So departed Merlin, and came again in the likeness of an old man
of fourscore year of age, whereof the king was right glad, for he
seemed to be right wise.
Then said the old man, Why are ye so sad? I may well be heavy,
said Arthur, for many things. Also here was a child, and told me
many things that meseemeth he should not know, for he was not of
age to know my father. Yes, said the old man, the child told you
truth, and more would he have told you an ye would have suffered
him. But ye have done a thing late that God is displeased with
you, for ye have lain by your sister, and on her ye have gotten a
child that shall destroy you and all the knights of your realm.
What are ye, said Arthur, that tell me these tidings? I am
Merlin, and I was he in the child's likeness. Ah, said King
Arthur, ye are a marvellous man, but I marvel much of thy words
that I must die in battle. Marvel not, said Merlin, for it is
<38>God's will your body to be punished for your foul deeds; but
I may well be sorry, said Merlin, for I shall die a shameful
death, to be put in the earth quick, and ye shall die a
worshipful death. And as they talked this, came one with the
king's horse, and so the king mounted on his horse, and Merlin on
another, and so rode unto Carlion. And anon the king asked Ector
and Ulfius how he was begotten, and they told him Uther Pendragon
was his father and Queen Igraine his mother. Then he said to
Merlin, I will that my mother be sent for that I may speak with
her; and if she say so herself then will I believe it. In all
haste, the queen was sent for, and she came and brought with her
Morgan le Fay, her daughter, that was as fair a lady as any might
be, and the king welcomed Igraine in the best manner.