Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK II CHAPTER II

Sacred Texts  Legends and Sagas  Index  BOOK II  Previous  Next 


How Balin, arrayed like a poor knight, pulled out the sword,
which afterward was the cause of his death.

THEN fell it so that time there was a poor knight with King
Arthur, that had been prisoner with him half a year and more for
slaying of a knight, the which was cousin unto King Arthur.  The
name of this knight was called Balin, and by good means of the
barons he was delivered out of prison, for he was a good man
named of his body, and he was born in Northumberland.  And so he
went privily into the court, and saw this adventure, whereof it
raised his heart, and he would assay it as other knights did, but
for he was poor and poorly arrayed he put him not far in press. 
But in his heart he was fully assured to do as well, if his grace
happed him, as any knight that there was.  And as the damosel
took her leave of Arthur and of all the barons, so departing,
this knight Balin called unto her, and said, Damosel, I pray you
of your courtesy, suffer me as well to assay as these lords;
though that I be so poorly clothed, in my heart meseemeth I am
fully assured as some of these others, and meseemeth in my heart
to speed right well.  The damosel beheld the poor knight, and saw
he was a likely man, but for his poor arrayment she thought he
should be of no worship without villainy or treachery.  And then
she said unto the knight, Sir, it needeth not to put me to more
pain or labour, for it seemeth not you to speed there as other
have failed.  Ah! fair damosel, said Balin, worthiness, and good
tatches, and good deeds, are not only in arrayment, but manhood
and worship is hid within man's person, and many a worshipful
knight is not known unto all people, and therefore worship and
hardiness is not in arrayment.  By God, said the damosel, ye say
sooth; therefore ye shall assay to do what ye may.  Then Balin
took the sword by the girdle <52>and sheath, and drew it out
easily; and when he looked on the sword it pleased him much. 
Then had the king and all the barons great marvel that Balin had
done that adventure, and many knights had great despite of Balin. 
Certes, said the damosel, this is a passing good knight, and the
best that ever I found, and most of worship without treason,
treachery, or villainy, and many marvels shall he do.  Now,
gentle and courteous knight, give me the sword again.  Nay, said
Balin, for this sword will I keep, but it be taken from me with
force.  Well, said the damosel, ye are not wise to keep the sword
from me, for ye shall slay with the sword the best friend that ye
have, and the man that ye most love in the world, and the sword
shall be your destruction.  I shall take the adventure, said
Balin, that God will ordain me, but the sword ye shall not have
at this time, by the faith of my body.  Ye shall repent it within
short time, said the damosel, for I would have the sword more for
your avail than for mine, for I am passing heavy for your sake;
for ye will not believe that sword shall be your destruction, and
that is great pity.  With that the damosel departed, making great

Anon after, Balin sent for his horse and armour, and so would
depart from the court, and took his leave of King Arthur.  Nay,
said the king, I suppose ye will not depart so lightly from this
fellowship, I suppose ye are displeased that I have shewed you
unkindness; blame me the less, for I was misinformed against you,
but I weened ye had not been such a knight as ye are, of worship
and prowess, and if ye will abide in this court among my
fellowship, I shall so advance you as ye shall be pleased.  God
thank your highness, said Balin, your bounty and highness may no
man praise half to the value; but at this time I must needs
depart, beseeching you alway of your good grace.  Truly, said the
king, I am right wroth for your departing; I pray you, fair
knight, that ye tarry not long, and ye shall be right welcome to
me, and to my barons, and I shall amend all miss that I have done
against you; God thank your great lordship, said Balin, and
therewith made him ready to depart.  Then the most <53>part of
the knights of the Round Table said that Balin did not this
adventure all only by might, but by witchcraft.