“Le Morte D’Arthur,” said Rev. Alcuin, finding the spot he was looking for. “Book XIII, Chapter 2. Do you know what happens in this passage?”
Morgan shook his head.
“This is where the quest for the Holy Grail begins.” Peter jabbed a finger at a full-color illustration that filled the entire right-hand page. “This is how it all started.”
The picture showed a band of knights in bright, heraldic regalia, standing on a sward of emerald green beside a crystal river. In their midst was a tall man with golden crown on his head. Arthur himself, thought Morgan. On the water floated—yes, floated—a large stone. And in the middle of the stone, stuck halfway in, was a long blue sword with a shining pommel, a golden hilt, and a large curved quillion or crossguard.
“Let me read it to you,” said Rev. Alcuin. “This is what the text says:”
So, as they stood speaking, in came a squire and said unto the king, ‘Sir, I bring unto you marvelous tidings. There is here beneath at the river a great stone which I saw float above the water, and therein I saw sticking a sword.’
The king said, ‘I will see that marvel.’
So all the knights went with him, and when they came unto the river, they found there a stone floating, and therein stuck a fair and rich sword.
Then said the king unto Sir Launcelot, ‘Fair sir, this sword ought to be yours.’
But Sir Launcelot answered soberly, ‘Certes, sir, it is not my sword. And I will that ye wit that this same day will the adventures of the Holy Grail begin.’
The Reverend looked up from the page.
“I’m not sure I understand,” said Morgan. “I thought the Sword in the Stone comes at the beginning of the story—before Arthur was king, back when he was just a boy.”
“You’re right,” said Peter. “But this is the other Sword in the Stone.”
Morgan frowned. “Other? I don’t remember that.”
“Well, then, take note. There were two. And it wasn’t Arthur who pulled this Sword from this Stone. Nor Launcelot. It was Sir Galahad—the hero of the Grail Quest. And the story goes on to say that the Grail itself appeared in Arthur’s hall that very night and fed him and all the fellowship of the Round Table ‘with such meats and drinks as every man loved best in this world.’”
Morgan felt as if he were in the middle of a thick fog. He pictured himself standing in a swirling mist through which a point of dim light was just barely visible. There was something, he sensed, in what Rev. Alcuin was saying—something important, something he could almost grasp, something he desperately needed to know if only he could clear away the clouds from his muddled brain. He struggled to lay his finger on it.
“Don’t you see?” said Peter after another short silence. “There is a link here. Not only between the Sword and the Stone, but between the Sword and the Stone and the Grail! That’s what I find so fascinating about all this.”
Morgan stared. The Reverend continued.
“You haven’t forgotten what I said to you about the Grail once before, have you? Here in this very room? How Wolfram von Eschenbach calls it the Gral and says that it wasn’t the cup of Christ at all, but a miraculous stone?”
For Morgan it was as if a pair of scales had fallen from his eyes. “I remember!” he said. “And I remember something else, too. Something about knights being fed with all their favorite meats and drinks. That was Lia Fail, wasn’t it, Reverend? ‘The Satisfaction of All Desire!’”
“Exactly what I’m thinking,” Peter responded. “I wonder what it can possibly mean?” A puzzled look clouded his gray eyes.
Morgan felt hot. He was blushing again. Hastily he got up and shoved his papers and drawings into his pack.
“I think I’d better go now,” he stammered. “It’s getting late. Mom will be wondering where I am. You’ve given me a lot to think about, Rev. Alcuin. Thanks.”
Then he hurried to the door. As he turned the knob, he happened to see the Reverend’s face reflected in a large mirror that hung beside the entrance. Its expression startled him. He’d only seen that look on the minister’s usually jovial countenance a couple of times before—a look of deep concern mingled with a hint of pain.
“You may want to remember,” he heard the Reverend say as he stepped across the threshold, “that the beginning of the Grail Quest was the beginning of the end. The end of Arthur’s reign and the Table Round.”
* * * * * * * * * *