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.
so strong, that he departed secretly from Nantes, and hid himself in a hermitage.  He was sought far and near by the knights of Arthur’s court, and Cador made a vow never to desist from the quest till he should have found him.  After long wandering, Cador discovered his friend in the hermitage, reduced almost to a skeleton, and apparently near his death.  All other means of relief having already been tried in vain, Cador at last prevailed on the enchanter Eliaures to disclose the only method which could avail for his rescue.  A maiden must be found, his equal in birth and beauty, and loving him better than herself, so that she would expose herself to the same torment to deliver him.  Two vessels were then to be provided, the one filled with sour wine, and the other with milk.  Caradoc must enter the first, so that the wine should reach his neck, and the maiden must get into the other, and, exposing her bosom upon the edge of the vessel, invite the serpent to forsake the withered flesh of his victim for this fresh and inviting food.  The vessels were to be placed three feet apart, and as the serpent crossed from one to the other. a knight was to cut him in two.  If he failed in his blow, Caradoc would indeed be delivered, but it would be only to see his fair champion suffering the same cruel and hopeless torment.  The sequel may be easily foreseen.  Guimier willingly exposed herself to the perilous adventure, and Cador, with a lucky blow, killed the serpent.  The arm in which Caradoc had suffered so long recovered its strength, but not its shape, in consequence of which he was called Caradoc Briefbras, Caradoc of the Shrunken Arm.

Caradoc and Guimier are the hero and heroine of the ballad Of the “Boy and the Mantle,” which follows: 

    “The boy and the mantle

    “In Carlisle dwelt King Arthur,
      A prince of passing might,
    And there maintained his Table Round,
      Beset with many a knight.

    “And there he kept his Christmas,
      With mirth and princely cheer,
    When lo! a strange and cunning boy
      Before him did appear.

    “A kirtle and a mantle
      This boy had him upon,
    With brooches, rings, and ouches,
      Full daintily bedone.

    “He had a sash of silk
      About his middle meet;
    And thus with seemly curtesie
      He did King Arthur greet: 

    “’God speed thee, brave King Arthur. 
      Thus feasting in thy bower,
    And Guenever, thy goodly queen,
      That fair and peerless flower.

    “’Ye gallant lords and lordlings,
      I wish you all take heed,
    Lest what ye deem a blooming rose
      Should prove a cankered weed.’

    “Then straightway from his bosom
      A little wand he drew;
    And with it eke a mantle,
      Of wondrous shape and hue.

    “’Now have thou here, King Arthur,
      Have this here of me,
    And give unto thy comely queen,
      All shapen as you see.

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The Age of Fable from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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