How Uther Pendragon sent for the duke of Cornwall and Igraine his wife, and of their departing suddenly again.
IT befell in the days of Uther Pendragon, when he was king of all England, and so reigned, that there was a mighty duke in Cornwall that held war against him long time. And the duke was called the Duke of Tintagil. And so by means King Uther sent for this duke, charging him to bring his wife with him, for she was called a fair lady, and a passing wise, and her name was called Igraine.
So when the duke and his wife were come unto the king, by the means of great lords they were accorded both. The king liked and loved this lady well, and he made them great cheer out of measure, and desired to have lain by her. But she was a passing good woman, and would not assent unto the king. And then she told the duke her husband, and said, I suppose that we were sent for that I should be dishonoured; wherefore, husband, I counsel you, that we depart from hence suddenly, that we may ride all night unto our own castle. And in like wise as she said so they departed, that neither the king nor none of his council were ware of their departing. All so soon as King Uther knew of their departing so suddenly, he was wonderly wroth. Then he called to him his privy council, and told them of the sudden departing of the duke and his wife.
Then they advised the king to send for the duke and his wife by a great charge; and if he will not come at your summons, then may ye do your best, then have ye cause to make mighty war upon him. So that was done, and the messengers had their answers; and that was this shortly, that neither he nor his wife would not come at him.
Then was the king wonderly wroth. And then the king sent him plain word again, and bade him be ready and stuff him and garnish him, for within forty days he would fetch him out of the biggest castle that he hath.
When the duke had this warning, anon he went and furnished and garnished
two strong castles of his, of the which the one hight Tintagil, and the
other castle hight Terrabil. So his wife Dame Igraine he put in the
castle of Tintagil, and himself he put in the castle of Terrabil, the
which had many issues and posterns out. Then in all haste came Uther
with a great host, and laid a siege about the castle of Terrabil. And
there he pight many pavilions, and there was great war made on both
parties, and much people slain. Then for pure anger and for great love
of fair Igraine the king Uther fell sick. So came to the king Uther Sir
Ulfius, a noble knight, and asked the king why he was sick. I shall tell
thee, said the king, I am sick for anger and for love of fair Igraine,
that I may not be whole. Well, my lord, said Sir Ulfius, I shall seek
Merlin, and he shall do you remedy, that your heart shall be pleased. So
Ulfius departed, and by adventure he met Merlin in a beggar's array, and
there Merlin asked Ulfius whom he sought. And he said he had little ado
to tell him. Well, said Merlin, I know whom thou seekest, for thou
seekest Merlin; therefore seek no farther, for I am he; and if King
Uther will well reward me, and be sworn unto me to fulfil my desire,
that shall be his honour and profit more than mine; for I shall cause
him to have all his desire. All this will I undertake, said Ulfius, that
there shall be nothing reasonable but thou shalt have thy desire. Well,
said Merlin, he shall have his intent and desire. And therefore, said
Merlin, ride on your way, for I will not be long behind.
Excerpted from Le Morte D'Arthur by Thomas Malory Copyright © 2000 by Thomas Malory. Excerpted by permission.
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