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In those old days, one summer noon, an arm
Rose up from out the bosom of the lake,
And took it, and have worn it, like a king :
And, wheresoever I am sung or told
In aftertime, this also shall be known:
But now delay not : take Excalibur,
And Aing him far into the middle mere: Watch what thou seëst, and lightly bring me
To him replied the bold Sir Bedivere:
“ It is not meet, Sir King, to leave thee thus, Aidless, alone, and smitten thro' the helni.
A little thing may harm a wounded man.
Yet I thy hest will all perform at full,
So saying, from the ruin'd shrine he stept
And in the moon athwart the place of tombs,
By zig-zag paths, and juts of pointed rock,
There drew he forth the brand Excalibur,
And sparkled keen with frost against the hilt:
For all the haft twinkled with diamond sparks,
Myriads of topaz-lights, and jacinth-work
Of subtlest jewellery. He gazed so long
Better to leave Excalibur conceal'd
There in the many-knotted waterflags,
That whistled stiff and dry about the marge.
So strode he back slow to the wounded King.
Then spake King Arthur to Sir Bedivere : “ Hast thou perform'd niy niission which I gave?
What is it thou hast seen ? or what hast heard ?"
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere :
“I heard the ripple washing in the reeds, And the wild water lapping on the crag."
To whom replied King Arthur, faint and pale : “ Thou hast betray'd thy nature and thy name, Not rendering true answer, as beseem'd Thy fëalty, nor like a noble knight: For surer sign had follow'd, either hand,
Or voice, or else a motion of the nere.
This is a shameful thing for men to lie.
now, I charge thee, quickly go again
As thou art lief and dear, and do the thing
I bad thee, watch, and lightly bring me word.”
Then went Sir Bedivere the second time
Across the ridge, and paced beside the mere,
“ And if indeed I cast the brand away,
Surely a precious thing, one worthy note,
Should thus be lost for ever from the earth,
Which might have pleased the eyes of many men. What good should follow this, if this were done? What harm, undone? deep harm to disobey,
Seeing obedience is the bond of rule.
Were it well to obey then, if a king demand
An act unprofitable, against himself?
What record, or what relic of my lord
Should be to astertime, but empty breath
Saying, 'King Arthur's sword, Excalibur,
Nine years she wrought it, sitting in the deeps
So might some old man speak in the aftertime
To all the people, winning reverence.
But now much honour and much fame were lost."
So spake he, clouded with his own conceit,
And hid Excalibur the second time,
And so strode back slow to the wounded King.
Then spoke King Arthur, breathing heavily :
“What is it thou hast seen? or what hast heard ?
And answer made the bold Sir Bedivere:
“ I heard the water lapping on the crag,