THE SWORD EXCALIBUR
King Arthur had fought a hard battle with the tallest Knight in all the land, and though he struck hard and well, he would have been slain had not Merlin enchanted the Knight and cast him into a deep sleep, and brought the King to a hermit who had studied the art of healing, and cured all his wounds in three days. Then Arthur and Merlin waited no longer, but gave the hermit thanks and departed.
As they rode together Arthur said, 'I have no sword,' but Merlin bade him be patient and he would soon give him one. In a little while they came to a large lake, and in the midst of the lake Arthur beheld an arm rising out of the water, holding up a sword. ' Look !' said Merlin, 'that is the sword I spoke of.' And the King looked again, and a maiden stood upon the water. ' That is the Lady of the Lake,' said Merlin, 'and she is coming to you, and if you ask her courteously she will give you the sword.' So when the maiden drew near Arthur saluted her and said, ' Maiden, I pray you tell me whose sword is that which an arm is holding out of the water ? I wish it were mine, for I have lost my sword.'
' That sword is mine, King Arthur,' answered she, 'and I will give it to you, if you in return will give me a gift when I ask you.'
' By my faith,' said the King, ' I will give you whatever gift you ask.' ' Well,' said the maiden,' get into the