Myths and Legends of All Nations Famous Stories from the Greek, German, English, Spanish, Scandinavian, Danish, French, Russian, Bohemian, Italian and other sources

Page: 102

When at last the mound was completed, the noble warriors gathered together and rode around it, lamenting their king and singing the praise of his valor and mighty deeds.

Thus mourned the people of the Geats for the fall of Beowulf, who of all kings in the world was the mildest and kindest, the most gracious to his people, and the most eager to win their praise.

[Pg 179]


Probably every one knows the story of the great King Arthur who, the legends say, ruled in Britain so many, many years ago and gathered about him in his famous Round Table, knights of splendid courage, tried and proven. So well loved was the story of Arthur in other countries as well as in England that it was among the very first works ever printed in Europe, and it was still welcomed centuries later when the great English poet, Alfred Tennyson, told it in his Idylls of the King.

The boy Arthur was really the son of King Uther Pendragon, but few persons knew of his birth. Uther had given him into the care of the enchanter Merlin, who had carried him to the castle of Sir Hector,[A] an old friend of Uther's. Here the young prince lived as a child of the house.


[A] This name is otherwise given as Sir Ector, and by Tennyson as Sir Anton.

Now Merlin was a very wise man, and when King Uther died several years later the noblemen asked his advice in choosing a new king.

"Gather together in St. Stephen's Church in London, on Christmas Day," was all the enchanter answered.

So the knights assembled, and when the mass was over and they passed out into the churchyard, there they beheld a large block of stone, upon which rested a heavy anvil. The blade of a jeweled sword was sunk deeply into the anvil.

Wondering, the noblemen drew near. One of them discovered an inscription upon the hilt which said that none but the man who could draw out the sword should ever rule in Uther's place. One by one they tried, but the sword was firmly imbedded. No one could draw it forth.

[Pg 180] Arthur was only a baby at this time, but some years later Sir Hector traveled up to London, bringing with him his own son, Sir Kay, and his foster son, Arthur. Sir Kay had just reached manhood and was to take part in his first tournament. Imagine his distress, therefore, when, on arriving at the tourney ground, he discovered that he had forgotten to bring his sword.

"I will fetch it for you," cried the young Arthur, anxious to be of service.

He found the apartment of Sir Kay closed and locked; but he was determined to get a sword for his brother, and remembering the huge anvil he had seen in the churchyard, he hurried toward it. Grasping the hilt of the projecting sword, he drew it out easily.

Happy over his good fortune, Arthur returned to the tourney ground and gave the new sword to his foster brother. Sir Hector, who stood near, recognized it.