“You sure you’d like to try this someday, Arthur? It looks pretty brutal.”
Belle stood, wrapped up in her cloak, watching as the two horsemen charged one another. It had snowed quite heavily the night before and even though it had stopped, the place was still quite cold.
She was standing with Arthur, Kay, Ector and Pellinore, closer to the former and further away from the latter. The three of them were staring transfixed at the joust, and Belle was grateful that, for once, Kay’s attention was on something other than her.
Looking around the square as the knights charged at one another, Belle sought out another familiar face. The man who held authority over the joust, it seemed, was a tall, dark knight named Sir Bart. They had met him at the entrance to the tournament.
“Sign up my boy Kay for everything!” Ector had declared, slapping his son on the shoulder.
Sir Bart had nodded and admitted them entrance. As they passed, he acknowledged Arthur, laden with most of Kay’s equipment, with a curt nod and smile, and then Belle, in her eagerness to follow had accidently barged into him and dropped her book to the floor.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” she had exclaimed, blushing feverishly.
“No harm done,” chuckled Sir Bart, retrieving the book for her and wiping it free of snow. “Are u a relation to Sir Kay?”
Belle smiled. He had nice eyes, she decided, and a pleasant voice, and a trustworthy face. “No, I’m tutor to his young squire, sir.”
Sir Bart handed her back her book and then bowed her into the tournament. Belle smiled. “Thank you.”
Now she saw him at the front of the crowd, watching as the jousters finally met in the middle and their lances collided, knocking them both from their horses.
“Ooh!” the people in the crowd exclaimed as one, wincing.
Belle shuddered. “You sure you’d like to try this someday, Arthur? It looks pretty brutal.”
Arthur gulped. “M-maybe not...”
Ector laughed, clapping Kay on the arm. “You see that, Kay?” He pointed to the knights, who were now locked in armed combat. “Now it’s up to the swords!”
“Swords? Swords?” Arthur ran a hand through his blonde hair. “Oh no! Kay!”
He tugged at his foster brother’s arm. “What? What?” Kay grunted.
Arthur swallowed hard. “I forgot your sword.”
“Forgot my sword?” Kay snarled.
“I...I left it back at the inn,” Arthur stammered.
“Why, you-!” Kay went for him but Belle quickly stepped in front of Arthur, protective as a mother tiger.
“You leave him alone!” she snapped. “It was an accident!”
“Well, you’d better go get it!” Kay snapped to Arthur. “Or don’t u dare come back!”
Arthur took to his heels and fled back to the inn. Belle followed, with Archimedes flying alongside. They reached the inn and Arthur tugged at the door handle. The door didn’t budge. “Let me in, let me in!” Arthur begged, hammering on the door. “Come on, somebody, open up!”
Archimedes brushed snow from the window and peered inside. “It’s no use, boy. They’ve all gone to the tournament.”
Arthur groaned and leaned against the door. Belle patted his arm. “Arthur, it’s not your fault.”
“But what’ll I do, Belle? Kay’s got to have a sword.”
“Oh, look, boy, look!” Archimedes exclaimed suddenly. “In the churchyard!”
Belle and Arthur turned and Belle felt her jaw drop. Set in a large stone, an old anvil sat, untouched somehow door the snow, and protruding from the top, boven of this anvil, as if buried in both it and the stone, was...
“A sword!” Arthur exclaimed. “Oh, look, a sword!”
Belle followed him as he vaulted over the church fence. “Arthur, you’re going to have a hard time pulling that out,” she said, examining the sword. “Who leaves a sword stuck in a stone and anvil like this?”
Arthur rolled back his sleeves and took hold of the handle. Immediately a burst of light showered down as if from heaven , and a sound like angels singing, filled the air. Both Arthur and Belle leapt back, startled, and as Arthur let go of the handle, the sound stopped and the light faded.
“Arthur,” zei Belle, slowly, “do that again. Touch the sword.”
Arthur put one fingertip on the handle and the light and sound started up again.
“Better leave it alone!” exclaimed Archimedes, evidently spooked.
“But Kay’s gotta have a sword!” exclaimed Arthur, and in a terrific yank, he pulled the sword clean from the stone.
Belle jumped in shock. “Arthur, how on earth did u do that?”
“I don’t know; I just pulled it and it came out.”
“Quick,” zei Archimedes, “let’s get out of here.”
The trio raced back to the tournament, just in time to hear Ector say “You’re up next, son. Better get ready.”
“Kay, here’s a sword!” cried Arthur.
Kay snatched it up and then examined the thing. “This is not MY sword!”
“Hold on, boy!” exclaimed Ectr, blinking at the sword. “Wait a minute!” He grabbed the sword and stared at the inscription on the hilt. “Who so pulleth out this sword...why, it’s the Sword in the Stone!”
“The Sword in the Stone?” Sir Bart, who was standing nearby, took the sword. “It can’t be!”
“But look!” Ector pointed to the inscription. “It is!”
“It’s the marvellous Sword!” cried Pellinore.
“The Sword in the Stone?” Belle repeated, dazed. “How did I not realise that?”
“Hold everything!” Sir Bart commanded, and everyone ceased what they were doing. “Someone has pulled the Sword from the Stone!”
A crowd had now gathered around them. “Where did u get it, boy?” growled Ector, softly.
“I pulled it out of an anvil that was on top, boven of a stone in a churchyard,” Arthur stammered.
The people in the crowd began to laugh.
“It’s true!” Belle snapped, causing them to quieten down. “I saw him with my own eyes! And so did Archie!”
“Then go on, prove it!” Ector said, giving Arthur a little shove forwards.
“Yes, prove it!” called someone else in the crowd, and so Arthur, Belle and Archimedes found themselves hustled back in the direction of the churchyard. “I don’t get it,” Arthur muttered to Belle. “What’s the Sword in the Stone?”
Belle took a deep breath. “Well, when King Uther died, he left his sword in the stone and anvil in the hope that the person who was able to pull it out would become the volgende King of England. Don’t look now, but it looks like it might be you.”
They reached the anvil and Ector slid the sword into it as easily as sliding a mes through butter. “Alright, boy, perform the miracle!” he commanded.
Arthur took a step forwards but before he could touch the sword, Kay seized his arm. “Hang on a minute,” he said, stepping up to the sword. “Anyone can pull it once it’s been pulled.”
But though he tried, nothing happened. The sword remained stubbornly in the stone. Ector and a few other knights ran to help him, but still the sword remained where it was.
“Now, hold on!” commanded Sir Bart. “That’s not fair!”
“I say we let the boy try,” zei Pellinore, stepping forwards.
“That’s what I say,” agreed Sir Bart. “Give the boy a chance.”
Belle gave him a grateful smile.
“Go ahead, son,” zei Pellinore, gently, touching Arthur’s shoulder.
Arthur gave them all a determined look and then took hold of the sword handle. Again the light light from heaven shone down on him. Again the sound like angels singing filled the air. And then Arthur leapt back as he pulled the sword from the stone.
“It’s a miracle,” zei Sir Bart, softly. “Ordained door Heaven, this boy is our king.”
“Well, door Jove,” whispered Sir Ector.
Belle looked at him. “You didn’t know?”
Ector looked at her and shrugged. “I had no idea.” Belle believed him; he seemed as stunned about all this as the rest of them.
“What’s the lad’s name?” asked Sir Bart.
“Er, Wart. Oh, I mean Arthur.”
“Hail, King Arthur!” the crowd cheered. “Hail King Arthur! Long live the King! Long live the King!”
“Ooh-hoo-hoo-hoo!” laughed Archimedes. “I can’t believe it!”
“Congratulations!” Belle exclaimed, hugging Arthur, fiercely.
Ector went down on his knees. “Oh, forgive me, boy,” he said, taking Arthur’s hand. “Forgive me.”
“Oh, please don’t, sir,” Arthur said, awkwardly.
“Kay,” commanded Ector, “Bow down to your king.”
Kay did so, and he looked genuinely regretful for his former treatment of Arthur. Belle felt sorry for him. “Hey, cheer up,” she smiled to both of them. “A king needs loyal knights in his service, after all.”
“She’s right,” Sir Bart smiled. “And we must sort out a coronation at once.”
“Hail, King Arthur!” the crowd cheered again.
“Arthur, how on earth did you do that?”
“Give the boy a chance.”