: For Classes Iv. And V.
: Children Stories To Tell

Once there was a great king in Britain named Uther, and when he died the

other kings and princes disputed over the kingdom, each wanting it for

himself. But King Uther had a son named Arthur, the rightful heir to the

throne, of whom no one knew, for he had been taken away secretly while he

was still a baby by a wise old man called Merlin, who had him brought up

in the family of a certain Sir Ector, for fear of the malice of wicked<
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knights. Even the boy himself thought Sir Ector was his father, and he

loved Sir Ector's son, Sir Kay, with the love of a brother.

When the kings and princes could not be kept in check any longer, and

something had to be done to determine who was to be king, Merlin made the

Archbishop of Canterbury send for them all to come to London. It was

Christmas time, and in the great cathedral a solemn service was held, and

prayer was made that some sign should be given, to show who was the

rightful king. When the service was over, there appeared a strange stone

in the churchyard, against the high altar. It was a great white stone,

like marble, with something sunk in it that looked like a steel anvil; and

in the anvil was driven a great glistening sword. The sword had letters of

gold written on it, which read: "Whoso pulleth out this sword of this

stone and anvil is rightwise king born of all England."

All wondered at the strange sword and its strange writing; and when the

archbishop himself came out and gave permission, many of the knights tried

to pull the sword from the stone, hoping to be king. But no one could move

it a hair's breadth.

"He is not here," said the archbishop, "that shall achieve the sword; but

doubt not, God will make him known."

Then they set a guard of ten knights to keep the stone, and the archbishop

appointed a day when all should come together to try at the stone,--kings

from far and near. In the meantime, splendid jousts were held, outside

London, and both knights and commons were bidden.

Sir Ector came up to the jousts, with others, and with him rode Kay and

Arthur. Kay had been made a knight at Allhallowmas, and when he found

there was to be so fine a joust he wanted a sword, to join it. But he had

left his sword behind, where his father and he had slept the night

before. So he asked young Arthur to ride for it.

"I will well," said Arthur, and rode back for it. But when he came to the

castle, the lady and all her household were at the jousting, and there was

none to let him in.

Thereat Arthur said to himself, "My brother Sir Kay shall not be without a

sword this day." And he remembered the sword he had seen in the

churchyard. "I will to the churchyard," he said, "and take that sword with

me." So he rode into the churchyard, tied his horse to the stile, and went

up to the stone. The guards were away to the tourney, and the sword was

there, alone.

Going up to the stone, young Arthur took the great sword by the hilt, and

lightly and fiercely he drew it out of the anvil.

Then he rode straight to Sir Kay, and gave it to him.

Sir Kay knew instantly that it was the sword of the stone, and he rode off

at once to his father and said, "Sir, lo, here is the sword of the stone;

I must be king of the land." But Sir Ector asked him where he got the

sword. And when Sir Kay said, "From my brother," he asked Arthur how he

got it. When Arthur told him, Sir Ector bowed his head before him. "Now I

understand ye must be king of this land," he said to Arthur.

"Wherefore I?" said Arthur.

"For God will have it so," said Ector; "never man should have drawn out

this sword but he that shall be rightwise king of this land. Now let me

see whether ye can put the sword as it was in the stone, and pull it out


Straightway Arthur put the sword back.

Then Sir Ector tried to pull it out, and after him Sir Kay; but neither

could stir it. Then Arthur pulled it out. Thereupon, Sir Ector and Sir Kay

kneeled upon the ground before him.

"Alas," said Arthur, "mine own dear father and brother, why kneel ye to


Sir Ector told him, then, all about his royal birth, and how he had been

taken privily away by Merlin. But when Arthur found Sir Ector was not

truly his father, he was so sad at heart that he cared not greatly to be

king. And he begged his father and brother to love him still. Sir Ector

asked that Sir Kay might be seneschal when Arthur was king. Arthur

promised with all his heart.

Then they went to the archbishop and told him that the sword had found its

master. The archbishop appointed a day for the trial to be made in the

sight of all men, and on that day the princes and knights came together,

and each tried to draw out the sword, as before. But as before, none could

so much as stir it.

Then came Arthur, and pulled it easily from its place.

The knights and kings were terribly angry that a boy from nowhere in

particular had beaten them, and they refused to acknowledge him king. They

appointed another day, for another great trial.

Three times they did this, and every time the same thing happened.

At last, at the feast of Pentecost, Arthur again pulled out the sword

before all the knights and the commons. And then the commons rose up and

cried that he should be king, and that they would slay any who denied him.

So Arthur became king of Britain, and all gave him allegiance.