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An Arthurian Miscellany at




For months it rested in the stone,
          The sword Excalibur;
The noblest knights of England's realm
          Strove hard the steel to stir;
For word had gone through all the land
          That he who drew the blade
Should fill the sovereign's empty throne,
          The rightful king be made.

The flower of island chivalry
          Had come from far and near,
To try their skill at tournament
          The first day of the year.
Mid the barons went Sir Ector,
          His valiant son, Sir Kaye,
And his foster-child, young Arthur,
          Forth to the courtly fray.

Unknown to all, dead Uther's son
          Mix'd with the noble throng,
Who dream'd not that to stripling page
          Could crown and throne belong.
"Now, grammercy," quoth Arthur,
          In riding by Sir Kaye,
"Good brother mine, how came you out
          Without a sword to-day?"

Sir Kaye look'd down, and paled to see
          No weapon at his side:
Then back his comrade spurr'd his steed,
          Across the meadows wide,
To where lay idle in its sheath
          The knight's forgotten blade,
But found that not a single squire
          Had in the castle stay'd.

Quoth Arthur then, with sudden wrath,
           "From yonder mystic stone
I'll pluck the sword, that good Sir Kaye
          May wield it as his own!"
So, lighting down from off his horse,
          Towards the empty tent
In which was kept Excalibur
          His eager footsteps bent.

In golden-letter'd hilt was bright,
          Its knightly guards away;
And so, with brave and fearless heart,
          He made his bold essay.
He grasp'd the handle in his hand,
          Its point leap'd sharp and free.
"My brother shall not go unarm'd
          To battle now!" cried he.

When old Sir Ector saw the blade
          Flash in the morning light,
He knew it was the Sword of Fate
          That met his wondering sight,
And ask'd of Arthur, "Whither came
          The steel thou gavest Sir Kaye?"
"I bore it," was the plain reply,
           "From stone and tent away."

"Then, by my faith," the gray knight swore,
           "An' thou canst draw again
The sword from out the selfsame place,
          A monarch thou shalt reign!"
And back within the marble stone
          Prince Arthur thrust the blade,
While long in vain to pluck it thence
          Both high and low essay'd.

"Come hither; strive again, my son!"
          And quick on Ector's sight,
In Arthur's hand, the marvellous steel
          Was flashing keen and bright.
Then kneel'd Sir Ector and Sir Kaye,
          With every squire and lord,
To greet as lawful king the youth
          Who lean'd upon the Sword!

Then spoke his aged foster-sire.
           "Ye hail no child of mine!"
But wist not buried Uther's heir
          Was king by right divine.
Thus Arthur through Excalibur
          Received his father's crown;
And ever through Excalibur
          He kept his high renown!

Next: The Death of Lanceor, by Sallie Bridges [1864]