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The Sword In The Stone

2006-07-14 00:20

  There are many famous stories about king Arthur of Britain. There stories about how he fought to right the wrong and how the wrong quite often won. There are stories about round tables and holy grails. There are stories of the perils and adventures that befell his knights in close encounters with dragons, witches, maidens and enchanters.

  The first tale of all tells how Arthur became king, long before the deeds were even thought of. This is the tale of the sword in the stone.

  It all began, so to speak, when Uther, King of Britain, fell in love. He was pacing up and down the battlements of Tintagel, staring moodily into the night, when a bright star burst into the shape of a blazing dragon in the sky.

  'Good gracious me!' said Uther. 'Is that what love is all about?'

  'Something of the sort,' said Merlin the magician. 'I was half expecting this.'

  'What's it about?' the king asked.

  'It's a sign,' said Merlin.

  'I can see that, you old fool,' said Uther. 'Is it good or bad? Is it love or war? Do I win the lady I love or not?'

  'You win her,' Merlin said, 'and have a child.'

  'Bravo!' the king cried out. 'But how? The lady that I love is the lady Ygerne, wife to the Duke of Cornwall, who has safely shut her up in the strongest tower he has. Or had you forgotten that?'

  'Things can always be arranged,' said Merlin, 'if you know a little magic.'

  'We can hardly have a child if we never even see each other,' grumbled Uther.

  'I'll change your shape so that you look like the Duke of Cornwall,' Merlin said. 'You can visit her whenever you like.'

  'Not a very nice disguise,' said Uther, 'but if it is the best that you can do, then that is it.'

  'First you must make a promise,' Merlin said.

  'Yes, yes. I knew there would be something,' Uther sighed.

  'When Ygerne has the child, I want it,' Merlin said.

  'That's a bit hard!' Uther cried.

  'It's not that bad,' said Merlin. 'That dragon in the sky, you see, foretells a great king will be born. Great kings need a good upbringing, and your style of life is not quite what it ought to be!'

  'Oh, very well,' sighed Uther. 'Have it your own way.'

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