THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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Long, long ago, after -Uther Pendragon died, there was no King in Britain, and every Knight hoped to, seize the crown for himself The country was like to fare ill when laws were broken on every side, .and the .coin which was to give the poor bread was trodden underfoot, and there was none to bring the evildoer to justice. Then, when things were at their worst, came "forth Merlin the magi­cian, and fast he rode to the place where the Arch­bishop of Canterbury had his dwelling. And they took counsel together, and agreed that all the lords and gentle­men of Britain should ride to London and meet on Christ­mas Day, now at hand, in the Great Church. So this was done. And on Christinas morning, as they left the church, they saw in the churchyard a large stone, and on it a bar of steel, and in the steel a naked sword was held, and about it was written in letters of gold, ' Whoso pulleth out this sword is by right of birth King of Eng­land.' They marvelled at these words, and called for the Archbishop, and brought him into the place where the stone stood. Then those Knights who fain would be King could not hold themselves back, and they tugged at the sword with all their might; but it never stirred. The Archbishop watched them in silence, but when they were faint from pulling he spoke : ' The man is not here who shall lift out that sword, nor do I know where to find him. But this is my counsel — that two Knights be chosen, good and true men, to keep guard over the sword.'
Thus it was done. But the lords and gentlemen-at-
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