HOW THE BOUND TABLE BEGAN 27
letters of gold, but two seats were empty. After that young Gawaine came to the King, and prayed him to make him a Knight on the day that he should wed Guenevere. ' That I will gladly,' replied the King, ' for you are my sister's son.'
As the King was speaking, a poor man entered the Court, bringing with him a youth about eighteen years old, riding on a lean mare, though it was not the custom for gentlemen to ride on mares. ' Where is King Arthur ? ' asked the man. ' Yonder,' answered the Knights. 'Have you business with him ?' ' Yes,' said the man, and he went and bowed low before the King : ' I have heard, 0 King Arthur, flower of Knights and Kings, that at the time of your marriage you would give any man the gift he should ask for.'
' That is truth,' answered the King, ' as long as I do no wrong to other men or to my kingdom.'
' I thank you for your gracious words,' said the poor man; ' the boon I would ask is that you would make my son a Knight.' ' It is a great boon to ask,' answered the King. ' What is your name ?'
' Sir, my name is Aries the cowherd.'
' Is it you or your son that has thought of this honour ?'
' It is my son who desires it, and not I,' replied the man. ' I have thirteen sons who tend cattle, and work in the fields if I bid them; but this boy will do nothing but shoot and cast darts, or go to watch battles and look on Knights, and all day long he beseeches me to bring him to you, that he may be knighted also.'
' What is your name ?' said Arthur, turning to the young man.
' Sir, my name is Tor.?
' Where is your sword that I may knight you ?' said the King.
' It is here, my lord.'
' Take it out of its sheath,' said the King, ' and