Page:Folk-lore - A Quarterly Review. Volume 16, 1905.djvu/470

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The Legend of Merlin.

vided for the construction of the citadel. Materials were, therefore, procured from all parts a second and a third time, and again vanished as before, leaving and rendering every effort ineffectual. Vortigern inquired of his wise men and astronomers the cause of this opposition to his undertaking, and of so much useless expense of labour. They replied: "You must find a child born without a father, put him to death, and sprinkle with his blood the ground on which the citadel is to be built, or you will never accomplish your purpose."

In consequence of this reply the king sent messengers throughout Britain to search for a child born without a father. After having inquired in all the provinces, three out of seven came to the field of Aelecti, in the district of Glevesing, where a party of boys were playing at ball. And two of them quarrelling, one said to the other, "O boy without a father, no good will ever happen to you." Upon this the messengers drew their swords, conceiving they had found what they sought. But Merlin—for he was the boy—after rebuking his companion for his indiscretion, ran to the messengers, and, to their great astonishment, told them the whole circumstances of their mission, assuring them at the same time that Vortigern's wise men were fools, and that all the blood in his veins would not in any way contribute to the solidity of the intended castle. He then conducted them to his mother, who told them the history of his miraculous birth, which is, in short, as follows:—She was one of three sisters, of whom the two first went astray, and she herself was deceived by a (devil) semi-demon in shape of a man. As soon as this was found out she was brought before the Judge to be condemned to death. But St. Blaise, her confessor, believed her, and interfered in her favour to postpone the judgment until two years after the birth of the child. When that event took place St. Blaise baptised it immediately, and counteracted the wicked purposes of