The Age of Fable eBook

Thomas Bulfinch
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,207 pages of information about The Age of Fable.

Then the king and he departed, and went till they came to a hermit, that was a good man and a great leech.  So the hermit searched all his wounds, and applied good salves; and the king was there three days, and then were his wounds well amended, that he might ride and go.  So they departed, and as they rode Arthur said, “I have no sword.”  “No matter,” said Merlin; “hereby is a sword that shall be yours.”  So they rode till they came to a lake, which was a fair water and broad.  And in the midst of the lake Arthur was aware of an arm clothed in white samite, [Footnote:  Samite, a sort of silk stuff.] that held a fair sword in the hand.  “Lo!” said Merlin, “yonder is that sword that I spake of.  It belongeth to the Lady of the Lake, and, if she will, thou mayest take it; but if she will not, it will not be in thy power to take it.”

So Sir Arthur and Merlin alighted from their horses, and went into a boat.  And when they came to the sword that the hand held Sir Arthur took it by the handle and took it to him, and the arm and the hand went under the water.

Then they returned unto the land and rode forth.  And Sir Arthur looked on the sword and liked it right well.

So they rode unto Caerleon, whereof his knights were passing glad.  And when they heard of his adventures they marvelled that he would jeopard his person so alone.  But all men of worship said it was a fine thing to be under such a chieftain as would put his person in adventure as other poor knights did.



Sir Gawain was nephew to King Arthur, by his sister Morgana, married to Lot, king of Orkney, who was by Arthur made king of Norway.  Sir Gawain was one of the most famous knights of the Round Table, and is characterized by the romancers as the sage and courteous Gawain.  To this Chaucer alludes in his “Squiere’s Tale,” where the strange knight “salueth” all the court

    “With so high reverence and observance,
    As well in speeche as in countenance,
    That Gawain, with his olde curtesie,
    Though he were come agen out of faerie,
    Ne coude him not amenden with a word.”

Gawain’s brothers were Agrivain, Gahariet, and Gareth.


Once upon a time King Arthur held his court in merry Carlisle, when a damsel came before him and craved a boon.  It was for vengeance upon a caitiff knight, who had made her lover captive and despoiled her of her lands.  King Arthur commanded to bring him his sword, Excalibar, and to saddle his steed, and rode forth without delay to right the lady’s wrong.  Ere long he reached the castle of the grim baron, and challenged him to the conflict.  But the castle stood on magic ground, and the spell was such that no knight could tread thereon but straight his courage fell and his strength decayed.  King

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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