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قراءة كتاب King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

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‏اللغة: English
King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table

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دار النشر: Project Gutenberg
الصفحة رقم: 9

other means, or worse loss still awaits us. See ye not what people we have lost in waiting on the footmen, and that it costs ten horsemen to save one of them? Therefore it is my counsel to put away our footmen from us, for it is almost night, and King Arthur will not stay to slaughter them. So they can save their lives in this great wood hard by. Then let us gather into one band all the horsemen that remain, and whoso breaketh rank or leaveth us, let him be straightway slain by him that seeth him, for it is better that we slay a coward than through a coward be all slain. How say ye?" said King Lot; "answer me, all ye kings."

"It is well said," replied they all.

And swearing they would never fail each other, they mended and set right their armor and their shields, and took new spears and set them steadfastly against their thighs, waiting, and so stood still as a clump of trees stands on the plain; and no assaults could shake them, they held so hard together; which when King Arthur saw he marveled greatly, and was very wroth. "Yet," cried he, "I may not blame them, by my faith, for they do as brave men ought to do, and are the best fighting men and knights of most prowess that I ever saw or heard tell of." And so said also Kings Ban and Bors, and praised them greatly for their noble chivalry.

But now came forty noble knights out of King Arthur's host, and prayed that he would suffer them to break the enemy. And when they were allowed, they rode forth with their spears upon their thighs, and spurred their horses to their hottest. Then the eleven kings, with a party of their knights, rushed with set spears as fast and mightily to meet them; and when they were encountered, all the crash and splinter of their spears and armor rang with a mighty din, and so fierce and bloody was their onset that in all that day there had been no such cruel press, and rage, and smiting. At that same moment rode fiercely into the thickest of the struggle King Arthur and Kings Ban and Bors, and slew downright on both hands right and left, until their horses went in blood up to the fetlocks.

And while the slaughter and the noise and shouting were at their greatest, suddenly there came down through the battle Merlin the Wizard, upon a great black horse, and riding to King Arthur, he cried out, "Alas, my Lord! will ye have never done? Of sixty thousand have ye left but fifteen thousand men alive. Is it not time to stay this slaying? for God is ill pleased with ye that ye have never ended, and yonder kings shall not be altogether overthrown this time. But if ye fall upon them any more, the fortune of this day will turn, and go to them. Withdraw, Lord, therefore, to thy lodging, and there now take thy rest, for to-day thou hast won a great victory, and overcome the noblest chivalry of all the world. And now for many years those kings shall not disturb thee. Therefore, I tell thee, fear them no more, for now they are sore beaten, and have nothing left them but their honor; and why shouldest thou slay them to take that?"

Then said King Arthur, "Thou sayest well, and I will take thy counsel." With that he cried out, "Ho!" for the battle to cease, and sent forth heralds through the field to stay more fighting. And gathering all the spoil, he gave it not amongst his own host, but to Kings Ban and Bors and all their knights and men-at-arms, that he might treat them with the greater courtesy as strangers.

Then Merlin took his leave of Arthur and the two other kings, and went to see his master, Blaise, a holy hermit, dwelling in Northumberland, who had nourished him through all his youth. And Blaise was passing glad to see him, for there was a great love ever between them; and Merlin told him how King Arthur had sped in the battle, and how it had ended; and told him the names of every king and knight of worship who was there. So Blaise wrote down the battle, word for word, as Merlin told him; and in the same way ever after, all the battles of King Arthur's days Merlin caused Blaise, his master, to record.