Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IV CHAPTER XIV

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CHAPTER XIV

How Queen Morgan le Fay made great sorrow for the
death of Accolon, and how she stole away the scabbard
from Arthur.

THEN came tidings unto Morgan le Fay that Accolon was dead, and
his body brought unto the church, and how <123>King Arthur had
his sword again.  But when Queen Morgan wist that Accolon was
dead, she was so sorrowful that near her heart to-brast.  But
because she would not it were known, outward she kept her
countenance, and made no semblant of sorrow.  But well she wist
an she abode till her brother Arthur came thither, there should
no gold go for her life.

Then she went unto Queen Guenever, and asked her leave to ride
into the country.  Ye may abide, said Queen Guenever, till your
brother the king come home.  I may not, said Morgan le Fay, for I
have such hasty tidings, that I may not tarry.  Well, said
Guenever, ye may depart when ye will.  So early on the morn, or
it was day, she took her horse and rode all that day and most
part of the night, and on the morn by noon she came to the same
abbey of nuns whereas lay King Arthur; and she knowing he was
there, she asked where he was.  And they answered how he had laid
him in his bed to sleep, for he had had but little rest these
three nights.  Well, said she, I charge you that none of you
awake him till I do, and then she alighted off her horse, and
thought for to steal away Excalibur his sword, and so she went
straight unto his chamber, and no man durst disobey her
commandment, and there she found Arthur asleep in his bed, and
Excalibur in his right hand naked.  When she saw that she was
passing heavy that she might not come by the sword without she
had awaked him, and then she wist well she had been dead.  Then
she took the scabbard and went her way on horseback.  When the
king awoke and missed his scabbard, he was wroth, and he asked
who had been there, and they said his sister, Queen Morgan had
been there, and had put the scabbard under her mantle and was
gone.  Alas, said Arthur, falsely ye have watched me.  Sir, said
they all, we durst not disobey your sister's commandment.  Ah,
said the king, let fetch the best horse may be found, and bid Sir
Ontzlake arm him in all haste, and take another good horse and
ride with me.  So anon the king and Ontzlake were well armed, and
rode after this lady, and so they came by a cross and found a
cowherd, and they asked the <124>poor man if there came any lady
riding that way.  Sir, said this poor man, right late came a lady
riding with a forty horses, and to yonder forest she rode.  Then
they spurred their horses, and followed fast, and within a while
Arthur had a sight of Morgan le Fay; then he chased as fast as he
might.  When she espied him following her, she rode a greater
pace through the forest till she came to a plain, and when she
saw she might not escape, she rode unto a lake thereby, and said,
Whatsoever come of me, my brother shall not have this scabbard. 
And then she let throw the scabbard in the deepest of the water
so it sank, for it was heavy of gold and precious stones.

Then she rode into a valley where many great stones were, and
when she saw she must be overtaken, she shaped herself, horse and
man, by enchantment unto a great marble stone.  Anon withal came
Sir Arthur and Sir Ontzlake whereas the king might know his
sister and her men, and one knight from another.  Ah, said the
king, here may ye see the vengeance of God, and now am I sorry
that this misadventure is befallen.  And then he looked for the
scabbard, but it would not be found, so he returned to the abbey
where he came from.  So when Arthur was gone she turned all into
the likeliness as she and they were before, and said, Sirs, now
may we go where we will.