Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK XVII  Previous  Next 

 Of the marvels of the sword and of the scabbard.
 AND then beheld they the scabbard, it seemed to be of a
 serpent's skin, and thereon were letters of gold and silver.
 And the girdle was but poorly to come to, and not able
 to sustain such a rich sword.  And the letters said:  He
 which shall wield me sought to be more harder than any
 other, if he bear me as truly as me ought to be borne.
 For the body of him which I ought to hang by, he shall
 not be shamed in no place while he is girt with this girdle,
 nor never none be so hardy to do away this girdle; for
 it ought not be done away but by the hands of a maid,
 and that she be a king's daughter and queen's, and she
 must be a maid all the days of her life, both in will and in
 deed.  And if she break her virginity she shall die the
 most villainous death that ever died any woman.  Sir, said
 Percivale, turn this sword that we may see what is on the
 other side.  And it was red as blood, with black letters as
 any coal, which said:  He that shall praise me most, most
 shall he find me to blame at a great need; and to whom I
 should be most debonair shall I be most felon, and that
 shall be at one time.
 Fair brother, said she to Percivale, it befell after a
 forty year after the passion of Jesu Christ that Nacien, the
 brother-in-law of King Mordrains, was borne into a town
 more than fourteen days' journey from his country, by the
 commandment of Our Lord, into an isle, into the parts of
 the West, that men cleped the Isle of Turnance.  So befell
 it that he found this ship at the entry of a rock, and he
 found the bed and this sword as we have heard now.  Not
 for then he had not so much hardiness to draw it; and
 there he dwelled an eight days, and at the ninth day there
 fell a great wind which departed him out of the isle, and
 brought him to another isle by a rock, and there he found
 the greatest giant that ever man might see.  Therewith
 came that horrible giant to slay him; and then he looked
 about him and might not flee, and he had nothing to
 defend him with.  So he ran to his sword, and when he
 saw it naked he praised it much, and then he shook it,
 and therewith he brake it in the midst.  Ah, said Nacien,
 the thing that I most praised ought I now most to blame,
 and therewith he threw the pieces of his sword over his
 bed.  And after he leapt over the board to fight with the
 giant, and slew him.
 And anon he entered into the ship again, and the wind
 arose, and drove him through the sea, that by adventure
 he came to another ship where King Mordrains was, which
 had been tempted full evil with a fiend in the Port of
 Perilous Rock.  And when that one saw the other they
 made great joy of other, and either told other of their
 adventure, and how the sword failed him at his most need
 When Mordrains saw the sword he praised it much:  But
 the breaking was not to do but by wickedness of thy
 selfward, for thou art in some sin.  And there he took the
 sword, and set the pieces together, and they soldered as
 fair as ever they were to-fore; and there put he the sword
 in the sheath, and laid it down on the bed.  Then heard
 they a voice that said:  Go out of this ship a little while,
 and enter into the other, for dread ye fall in deadly sin,
 for and ye be found in deadly sin ye may not escape but
 perish: and so they went into the other ship.  And as
 Nacien went over the board he was smitten with a sword
 on the right foot, that he fell down noseling to the ship's
 board; and therewith he said:  O God, how am I hurt.
 And then there came a voice and said:  Take thou that
 for thy forfeit that thou didst in drawing of this sword,
 therefore thou receivest a wound, for thou were never
 worthy to handle it, as the writing maketh mention.  In
 the name of God, said Galahad, ye are right wise of these