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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THE END OF IT ALL
167
'My lord,' answered Sir Bedivere, 'your command­ment shall be done,' and he departed. But when he looked at that noble sword, and beheld the jewels and gold that covered the pommel and hilt, he said to him­self, ' If I throw this rich sword into the water no good will come of it, but only harm and loss'; so he hid Excalibur under a tree, and returned unto the King and told him his bidding was done. ' What did you see there ?' asked the King.
' Sir,' answered Sir Bedivere, ' I saw nothing but the winds and waves.'
t You have not dealt truly with me,' said the King. ' Go back, and do my command ; spare not, but throw it in.' But again Sir Bedivere's heart failed him, and he hid the sword, and returned to tell the King he had seen nothing but the wan water.
' Ah, traitor !' cried King Arthur, ' this is twice you have betrayed me. If you do not now fulfil my bidding, with mine own hands will I slay you, for you would gladly see me dead for the sake of my sword.' Then Sir Bedivere was shamed at having disobeyed the King, and drew forth the sword from its hiding place, and carried it to the water side, and with a mighty swing threw it far into the water. And as it flew through the air, an arm and hand lifted itself out of the water, and caught the hilt, and brandished the sword thrice, and vanished with it beneath the water. So Sir Bedivere came again unto the King, and told him what he saw.
' Alas!' said the King, c help me hence, for I have tarried overlong,' and Sir Bedivere took him on his back, and bare him to the water side. And when they stood by the bank, a little barge containing many fair ladies and a Queen, all in black hoods, drew near, and they wept and shrieked when they beheld King Arthur.
'Now put me into the barge,' said the King, and Sir Bedivere laid him softly down, and the ladies made great mourning and the barge rowed from the land.
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