26 HOW THE BOUND TABLE BEGAN
the haste he could till he came to the Castle of Cameliard, and told King Leodegrance who had sent him and why.
'That is the best news I have ever had,' replied Leodegrance, ' for little did I think that so great and noble a King should seek to marry my daughter. As for lands to endow her with, I would give whatever he chose ; but he has lands enough of his own, so I will give him instead something that will please him much more, the Round Table which Uther Pendragon gave me, where a hundred and fifty Knights can sit at one time. I myself can call to my side a hundred good Knights, but I lack fifty, for the wars have slain many, and some are absent.' And without more words King Leodegrance gave his consent that his daughter should wed King Arthur. And Merlin returned wTith his Knights and esquires, journeying partly by water and partly by land, till they drew near to London.
"When King Arthur heard of the coming of Merlin and of the Knights with the Round Table he was filled with joy, and said to those that stood about him, 'This news that Merlin has brought me is welcome indeed, for I have long loved this fair lady, and the Round Table is dearer to me than great riches.' Then he ordered that Sir Lancelot should ride to fetch the Queen, and that preparations for the marriage and her coronation should be made, which was done. ' Now, Merlin,' said the King, ' go and look about my kingdom and bring fifty of the bravest and most famous Knights that can be found throughout the land.' But no more than eight and twenty Knights could Merlin find. With these Arthur had to be content, and the Bishop of Canterbury was fetched, and he blessed the seats that were placed by the Round Table, and the Knights sat in them. ' Fair Sirs,' said Merlin, when the Bishop had ended his blessing, ' arise all of you, and pay your homage to the King.' So the Knights arose to do his bidding, and in every seat was the name of the Knight who had sat on it, written in