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Left her and fled, and Uther enter'd in,
And there was none to call to but himself.
So, compass'd by the power of the king,
Enforced she was to wed him in her tears,
And with a shameful swiftness: afterward,
Not many moons, King Uther died himself,
Moaning and wailing for an heir to rule.

After him, lest the realm should go to wrack.

And that same night, the night of the new year,

By reason of the bitterness and grief

That vext his mother, all before his time

Was Arthur born, and all as soon as born

Deliver'd at a secret postern-gate

To Merlin, to be holden far apart

Until his hour should come; because the lords

Of that fierce day were as the lords of this,
Wild beasts, and surely would have torn the child
Piecemeal among them, had they known; for each

But sought to rule for his own self and hand,

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Nursed the young prince, and rear'd him with her


And no man knew. And ever since the lords

Have foughten like wild beasts among themselves,
So that the realm has gone to wrack: but now,
This year, when Merlin (for his hour had come)
Brought Arthur forth, and set him in the hall,
Proclaiming, "Here is Uther's heir, your king,"
A hundred voices cried, "Away with him!

No king of ours! a son of Gorloïs he,

Or else the child of Anton, and no king,

Or else baseborn." Yet Merlin thro' his craft,

And while the people clamour'd for a king,

Had Arthur crown'd; but after, the great lords

Banded, and so brake out in open war.'

Then while the king debated with himself
If Arthur were the child of shamefulness,
Or born the son of Gorloïs, after death,

Or Uther's son, and born before his time,
Or whether there were truth in anything
Said by these three, there came to Cameliard,
With Gawain and young Modred, her two sons,
Lot's wife, the Queen of Orkney, Bellicent ;
Whom as he could, not as he would, the king
Made feast for, saying, as they sat at meat,

'A doubtful throne is ice on summer seasYe come from Arthur's court: think ye this king

So few his knights, however brave they be—

Hath body enow to beat his foemen down?'

'O king,' she cried, 'and I will tell thee: few,

Few, but all brave, all of one mind with him
For I was near him when the savage yells

Of Uther's peerage died, and Arthur sat

Crown'd on the daïs, and his warriors cried,

"Be thou the king, and we will work thy will


Who love thee." Then the king in low deep tones,

And simple words of great authority,

Bound them by so strait vows to his own self,

That when they rose, knighted from kneeling, some

Were pale as at the passing of a ghost,

Some flush'd, and others dazed, as one who wakes

Half-blinded at the coming of a light.

'But when he spake and cheer'd his Table Round

With large divine and comfortable words
Beyond my tongue to tell thee—I beheld

From eye to eye thro' all their Order flash

A momentary likeness of the king:

And ere it left their faces, thro' the cross
And those around it and the Crucified,

Down from the casement over Arthur, smote
Flame-colour, vert and azure, in three rays,

One falling upon each of three fair queens,
Who stood in silence near his throne, the friends

Of Arthur, gazing on him, tall, with bright

Sweet faces, who will help him at his need.

'And there I saw mage Merlin, whose vast wit

And hundred winters are but as the hands

Of loyal vassals toiling for their liege.

'And near him stood the Lady of the Lake, Who knows a subtler magic than his own— Clothed in white samite, mystic, wonderful. She gave the king his huge cross-hilted sword,


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