PictureIgraine by Julek Heller. Illustration from King Arthur and His Knights, 1990
I almost wish I had not read this work, and therefore still did not know the truth. Before I was ashamed and embarrassed. I did not know who the man was who came to me, disguised, the night my husband died. Now I know, and the sting of shame is joined by that of betrayal. 

How could Merlin, whose own mother suffered the shame of having a child whose father she could not name, have helped Uther to trick me so? What manner of man is he that he would use his gifts to aid in so dishonorable an enterprise? And then, to demand my infant son as payment for his sinful work? It is monstrous!

And my lord Uther. To think that he could have done something so base...I thought his behavior low when he first sought my love behind the back of my husband, his loyal vassal, but this, this is so much worse. I am so ashamed! After all I did to resist Uther, he succeeded in taking my honor. As my beloved husband lay dying at the hands of Uther's soldiers, dying for the sake of Uther's lust and wounded pride, I lay in bed beside him. And now, I am his wife, his to command and to do with as he pleases. I don not know if I can bear it, now I know the truth. My only consolation is the thought that my son, raised by strangers, may grow to be a better man than his deceitful father. 

 


Merlin
10/24/2013 9:07pm

Ah darling Ygerne, please do not hate me for what has been done. Though I cannot deny you have been betrayed know that my actions were for the sole purpose of bringing noble King Arthur into this world. I rightfully accept your hatred and scorn for it my fault any my fault alone that you believed Uther to be the duke but is it not better to believe that you are in bed with the one you love rather than with one you do not? In a way I have done you a great service for the king would have you one way or another with or without my meddling. Think of it as something of a gift for becoming accustomed to your new husband and not of the treachery which it entails and you shall live a far happier life.

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Guinevere
10/25/2013 4:26am

My dear Mother in law, do not despair. It was through not fault of your own that such magic was used against you. You were an honorable and faithful wife to your loving husband the Duke. Your love for one another was true and it was a testament to your relationship. And although the King has made you his wife as a way to repay you for the loss of your precious husband, he may well never know the depths of feelings you have held for that first true love. The King was single minded in finding a way to be with you even employing the use of that sorcerer Merlin and his magic. Although you could never know this part of the plot against your husband you should rest easy knowing now that you have never done anything that would bring shame upon yourself or your original marriage.

Guinevere

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Arthur
10/25/2013 6:47am

Dear mother, though I was birthed through sin know that I have dedicated my life to God. I do his work and I do it earnestly to atone for my father's doing. Though if it were not for him and this sin I may not have seen the light of day and that his act may have been God's will so that I may draw breath as I do now. Know that you will bear a son and I will make it so my name will survive through the ages. Arthur Son of Ygerne. The shame you feel will be temporary but the pride you will take will last forever. Take heed dear mother with my life I will honor you. And may the day my birth comes that your shame if even a little before I am grown begins to fade. My father's actions may have been selfish but as the king of the land he had his rites. Though I do not agree with his methods his actions caused my birth and for my life I am thankful to him as my gratitude is to you for having me.

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Sir Galahad
10/25/2013 10:28am

What Merlin did was low down I agree, and what Uther did was far worse. My father was tricked much the same way you were. I can sympathize with you. Most times, like in my case, the son does end up being better than their father if that's any consolation. Merlin had no business in doing what he was doing, but I am sure it was all for what he believed a good purpose. You are correct Merlin is a bastard, but from what I heard he was baptized and lived a virtuous life. I don't know what could have made him act so sneaky like a snake in the grass. Uther should be ashamed of himself as well. There was no honor in his actions. He should have never lusted for a married woman. He should have understood that it was against the code of chivalry. But think for a second, if none of this happened,

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Uther
10/25/2013 12:37pm

God in heaven, what have I done. I beg that God take mercy on my mortal soul, for I shall toil in the flames of hell for eternity to atone for the sin I was led to commit. With the aid of what I now realize can only be black magic wielded by a servant of The Enemy, I have broken the sanctimonious bonds of christian marriage in a crime of passion. Worse still, I feigned the shape of a woman's husband to know her better without her knowledge or consent. Oh what a fool am I, blinded by lust. In committing this dishonorable sin, I've betrayed the lovely Ygerne and ruined any chance of redemption with her or her husband the Duke who had only ever returned my courtly charms in sincere friendship. I will live out the rest of my days in sin and regret, anguishing in what I lost by giving into temptation. My only redeeming hope is that the son conceived in that sinful passion is born a good and honest man. I can only hope that he will have the strength to lead a more righteous life by the word of God than I.

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Kay
10/25/2013 12:38pm

To speak honestly, I feel more pity for your husband rather than yourself. To have his wife sleep with another man while committed to marriage would bring him much shame if he were to know of it (for he is dead now). Merlin is an honorable man, and was only fulfilling the king's wishes. Devotion to your lord is above all else, so you, my lady, were the only one committing wrong.

To sleep with another, you have brought shame to your husband. Of course, it's only natural and expected for a woman to cheat (even woman who don't want to can't escape it, it seems--that is how natural it is). You should consider yourself lucky to be able to wed the king and repent for your mistake.

But really, it is too difficult to pity a cheating woman. I only pray that you will not do the same to your poor king.

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