THE QUESTING BEAST 13
him till he was out of sight, then turned to his squire and bade him bring another horse as quickly as he could. While he was waiting for it the wizard Merlin came along in the likeness of a boy, and asked the King why he was so thoughtful.
' I may well be thoughtful,' replied the King, ' for I have seen the most wonderful sight in all the world.'
' That I know well,' said Merlin, ' for I know all your thoughts. But it is folly to let your mind dwell on it, for thinking will mend nothing. I know, too, that Uther Pendragon was your father, and your mother was the Lady Igraine.'
' How can a boy like you know that ?' cried Arthur, growing angry; but Merlin only answered, ' I know it better than any man living,' and passed, returning soon after in the likeness of an old man of fourscore, and sitting down by the well to rest.
' What makes you so sad ? ' asked he.
' I may well be sad,' replied Arthur, ' there is plenty to make me so. And besides, there was a boy here who told me things that he had no business to know, and among them the names of my father and mother.'
' He told you the truth,' said the old man, ' and if you would have listened he could have told you still more: how that your sister shall have a child who shall destroy you and all your Knights.'
' Who are you ?' asked Arthur, wondering.
' I am Merlin, and it was I who came to you in the likeness of a boy. I know all things ; how that you shall die a noble death, being slain in battle, while my end will be shameful, for I shall be put alive into the earth.'
There was no time to say more, for the man brought up the King's horse and he mounted, and rode fast till he came to Carlion.