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How the letters were found written in the Siege Perilous
and of the marvellous adventure of the sword in a stone.

NOW fair sir, said Sir Launcelot, will ye come with me
unto the court of King Arthur?  Nay, said he, I will not
go with you as at this time.  Then he departed from them
and took his two cousins with him, and so they came unto
Camelot by the hour of underne on Whitsunday.  By that
time the king and the queen were gone to the minster to
hear their service.  Then the king and the queen were
passing glad of Sir Bors and Sir Lionel, and so was all the
fellowship.  So when the king and all the knights were
come from service, the barons espied in the sieges of the
Round Table all about, written with golden letters:  Here
ought to sit he, and he ought to sit here.  And thus they
went so long till that they came to the Siege Perilous,
where they found letters newly written of gold which said:
Four hundred winters and four and fifty accomplished
after the passion of our Lord Jesu Christ ought this siege
to be fulfilled.  Then all they said:  This is a marvellous
thing and an adventurous.  In the name of God, said Sir
Launcelot; and then accompted the term of the writing
from the birth of our Lord unto that day.  It seemeth me
said Sir Launcelot, this siege ought to be fulfilled this same
day, for this is the feast of Pentecost after the four hundred
and four and fifty year; and if it would please all parties,
I would none of these letters were seen this day, till he be
come that ought to enchieve this adventure.  Then made
they to ordain a cloth of silk, for to cover these letters in
the Siege Perilous.

Then the king bade haste unto dinner.  Sir, said Sir
Kay the Steward, if ye go now unto your meat ye shall
break your old custom of your court, for ye have not used
on this day to sit at your meat or that ye have seen some
adventure.  Ye say sooth, said the king, but I had so
great joy of Sir Launcelot and of his cousins, which be
come to the court whole and sound, so that I bethought
me not of mine old custom.  So, as they stood speaking,
in came a squire and said unto the king:  Sir, I bring unto
you marvellous tidings.  What be they? said the king.
Sir, there is here beneath at the river a great stone which
I saw fleet above the water, and therein I saw sticking a
sword.  The king said:  I will see that marvel.  So all
the knights went with him, and when they came to the
river they found there a stone fleeting, as it were of red
marble, and therein stuck a fair rich sword, and in the
pommel thereof were precious stones wrought with subtle
letters of gold.  Then the barons read the letters which
said in this wise:  Never shall man take me hence, but
only he by whose side I ought to hang, and he shall be the
best knight of the world.

When the king had seen the letters, he said unto Sir
Launcelot:  Fair Sir, this sword ought to be yours, for I
am sure ye be the best knight of the world.  Then Sir
Launcelot answered full soberly:  Certes, sir, it is not my
sword; also, Sir, wit ye well I have no hardiness to set
my hand to it, for it longed not to hang by my side.
Also, who that assayeth to take the sword and faileth of
it, he shall receive a wound by that sword that he shall not
be whole long after.  And I will that ye wit that this same
day shall the adventures of the Sangreal, that is called the
Holy Vessel, begin