In this volume there follows the fourth and last series of those histories relating to the life and to the kingship of Arthur, King of England. In this it shall first be told how it befell with Sir Geraint; then it shall be told how the Holy Grail was achieved by Sir Galahad, the son of Sir Launcelot; and then it shall be told how King Arthur passed from this life, and how, after doing battle right royally for his crown and having overcome his enemies, he was slain by one of them whom he had wounded to death.
Much in this is sad, but much is not sad; for all endings are sad, and the passing of any hero is a sad thing to tell of; but the events and the adventures and the achievements of such a man are not sad. Thus it is here said that much of this is sad, but much is not sad.
Now I have for seven years been writing these four books, and in them I have put the best that I have to say concerning such things. Wherefore I now hope that you may like that which I have thus written, for if you do not like it, then I have written in vain; but if you do like these narratives, and the several various incidents in them recounted, then you put the seal of your approval upon my work, and my reward is full.
Know you that it is a very glorious thing for any man to achieve the approval of others; for all men write for approval, and all would win approval of their fellows if they were able to do so; wherefore, it is my strong hope that you may set the seal of your approval upon these books.
Be it said that some things in these histories are not recounted in other histories of this momentous reign, but that most of the things that I have written are recounted in such histories, and all those things so recounted I have told to you as they have been aforetime written by other men. In this I have shaped them and adapted them from the ancient style in which they were first written so as to fit them to the taste of those who read them to-day.
And I thank God that He has spared my life to finish this work, and also I hope that He may spare me that life still further, to achieve other works which I desire to undertake. But nevertheless it would have been a great regret to me to leave these books unfinished. For I have made a study of this history and have read much concerning it; wherefore, it was my earnest wish to finish that which I had begun if God would spare me my life to do so. This He has done.
So now I take leave of you upon the threshold of this book, and bid you godspeed in reading it. And the first of these adventures that you shall read shall be “The Story of Sir Geraint,” which was the first time written in the ancient Welsh, but which is here re-written for your delectation in the manner which I here set it forth.
King Arthur proclaims a hunting.
Upon a certain time, at Michaelmas tide, King Arthur held a high hunting near to his court at Carleon-upon-Usk. Upon the morning of the day appointed for this hunting, all the attendants of the King were gathered in the courtyard of the castle ready to depart. The King cast his eyes about him, but he did not see the Queen near at hand. Quoth he, “Where is the Queen this morning, that I do not see her here?” One replied to him, “Lord, she is yet abed and asleep; shall we go wake her?” The King said, “No, if she would rather sleep than hunt, let her lie abed.”
Then another said, “Lord, Sir Geraint is not here either. Shall we call him?” King Arthur laughed. “Nay,” quoth he, “let him also lie abed if he be drowsy.” Therewith they took horse and rode away into the dewy sweetness of the early morning; the birds chaunting their roundelays and the sun bathing the entire earth as in a great bath of golden radiance.