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and let all this pass and be merry, for he is proved to be a man of worship, and that is my joy.

CHAPTER XXVI

How King Arthur sent for the Lady Lionesse, and how she let cry a tourney at her castle, whereas came many knights.

THEN said Sir Gawaine and his brethren unto Arthur, Sir, an ye will give us leave, we will go and seek our brother. Nay, said Sir Launcelot, that shall ye not need; and so said Sir Baudwin of Britain: for as by our advice the king shall send unto Dame Lionesse a messenger, and pray her that she will come to the court in all the haste that she may, and doubt ye not she will come; and then she may give you best counsel where ye shall find him. This is well said of you, said the king. So then goodly letters were made, and the messenger sent forth, that night and day he went till he came unto the Castle Perilous. And then the lady Dame Lionesse was sent for, thereas she was with Sir Gringamore her brother and Sir Gareth. And when she understood this message, she bade him ride on his way unto King Arthur, and she would come after in all goodly haste. Then when she came to Sir Gringamore and to Sir Gareth, she told them all how King Arthur had sent for her. That is because of me, said Sir Gareth. Now advise me, said Dame Lionesse, <257>what shall I say, and in what manner I shall rule me. My lady and my love, said Sir Gareth, I pray you in no wise be ye aknowen where I am; but well I wot my mother is there and all my brethren, and they will take upon them to seek me, I wot well that they do. But this, madam, I would ye said and advised the king when he questioned with you of me. Then may ye say, this is your advice that, an it like his good grace, ye will do make a cry against the feast of the Assumption of our Lady, that what knight there proveth him best he shall wield you and all your land. And if so be that he be a wedded man, that his wife shall have the degree, and a coronal of gold beset with stones of virtue to the value of a thousand pound, and a white gerfalcon.

So Dame Lionesse departed and came to King Arthur, where she was nobly received, and there she was sore questioned of the king and of the Queen of Orkney. And she answered, where Sir Gareth was she could not tell. But thus much she said unto Arthur: Sir, I will let cry a tournament that shall be done before my castle at the Assumption of our Lady, and the cry shall be this: that you, my lord Arthur, shall be there, and your knights, and I will purvey that my knights shall be against yours; and then I am sure ye shall hear of Sir Gareth. This is well advised, said King Arthur; and so she departed. And the king and she made great provision to that tournament.

When Dame Lionesse was come to the Isle of Avilion, that was the same isle thereas her brother Sir Gringamore dwelt, then she told them all how she had done, and what promise she had made to King Arthur. Alas, said Sir Gareth, I have been so wounded with unhappiness sithen I came into this castle that I shall not be able to do at that tournament like a knight; for I was never thoroughly whole since I was hurt. Be ye of good cheer, said the damosel Linet, for I undertake within these fifteen days to make ye whole, and as lusty as ever ye were. And then she laid an ointment and a salve to him as it pleased to her, that he was never so fresh nor so lusty. Then said <258>the damosel Linet: Send you unto Sir Persant of Inde, and assummon him and his knights to be here with you as they have promised. Also, that ye send unto Sir Ironside, that is the Red Knight of the Red Launds, and charge him that he be ready with you with his whole sum of knights, and then shall ye be able to match with King Arthur and his knights. So this was done, and all knights were sent for unto the Castle Perilous; and then the Red Knight answered and said unto Dame Lionesse, and to Sir Gareth, Madam, and my lord Sir Gareth, ye shall understand that I have been at the court of King Arthur, and Sir Persant of Inde and his brethren, and there we have done our homage as ye commanded us. Also Sir Ironside said, I have taken upon me with Sir Persant of Inde and his brethren to hold part against my lord Sir Launcelot and the knights of that court. And this have I done for the love of my lady Dame Lionesse, and you my lord Sir Gareth. Ye have well done, said Sir Gareth; but wit you well ye shall be full sore matched with the most noble knights of the world; therefore we must purvey us of good knights, where we may get them. That is well said, said Sir Persant, and worshipfully.

And so the cry was made in England, Wales, and Scotland, Ireland, Cornwall, and in all the Out Isles, and in Brittany and in many countries; that at the feast of our Lady the Assumption next coming, men should come to the Castle Perilous beside the Isle of Avilion; and there all the knights that there came should have the choice whether them list to be on the one party with the knights of the castle, or on the other party with King Arthur. And two months was to the day that the tournament should be. And so there came many good knights that were at their large, and held them for the most part against King Arthur and his knights of the Round Table and came in the side of them of the castle. For Sir Epinogrus was the first, and he was the king’s son of Northumberland, and Sir Palamides the Saracen was another, and Sir Safere his brother, and Sir Segwarides his brother, but they were christened, and Sir Malegrine <259>another, and Sir Brian de les Isles, a noble knight, and Sir Grummore Grummursum, a good knight of Scotland, and Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, a noble knight, and Sir Turquine his brother, and Sir Arnold and Sir Gauter, two brethren, good knights of Cornwall. There came Sir Tristram de Liones, and with him Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, and Sir Sadok; but this Sir Tristram was not at that time knight of the Table Round, but he was one of the best knights of the world. And so all these noble knights accompanied them with the lady of the castle, and with the Red Knight of the Red Launds; but as for Sir Gareth, he would not take upon him more but as other mean knights.

CHAPTER XXVII

How King Arthur went to the tournament with his knights, and how the lady received him worshipfully, and how the knights encountered.

AND then there came with King Arthur Sir Gawaine, Agravaine, Gaheris, his brethren. And then his nephews Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, and Sir Aglovale, Sir Tor, Sir Percivale de Galis, and Sir Lamorak de Galis. Then came Sir Launcelot du Lake with his brethren, nephews, and cousins, as Sir Lionel, Sir Ector de Maris, Sir Bors de Ganis, and Sir Galihodin, Sir Galihud, and many more of Sir Launcelot’s blood, and Sir Dinadan, Sir La Cote Male Taile, his brother, a good knight, and Sir Sagramore, a good knight; and all the most part of the Round Table. Also there came with King Arthur these knights, the King of Ireland, King Agwisance, and the King of Scotland, King Carados and King Uriens of the land of Gore, and King Bagdemagus and his son Sir Meliaganus, and Sir Galahault the noble prince. All these kings, princes, and earls, barons, and other noble knights, as Sir Brandiles, Sir Uwaine les Avoutres, and Sir Kay, Sir Bedivere, Sir Meliot <260>de Logres, Sir Petipase of Winchelsea, Sir Godelake: all these came with King Arthur, and more that cannot be rehearsed.

Now leave we of these kings and knights, and let us speak of the great array that was made within the castle and about the castle for both parties. The Lady Dame Lionesse ordained great array upon her part for her noble knights, for all manner of lodging and victual that came by land and by water, that there lacked nothing for her party, nor for the other, but there was plenty to be had for gold and silver for King Arthur and his knights. And then there came the harbingers from King Arthur for to harbour him, and his kings, dukes, earls, barons, and knights. And then Sir Gareth prayed Dame Lionesse and the Red Knight of the Red Launds, and Sir Persant and his brother, and Sir Gringamore, that in no wise there should none of them tell not his name, and make no more of him than of the least knight that there was, For, he said, I will not be known of neither more nor less, neither at the beginning neither at the ending. Then Dame Lionesse said unto Sir Gareth: Sir, I will lend you a ring, but I would pray you as you love me heartily let me have it again when the tournament is done, for that ring increaseth my beauty much more than it is of himself. And the virtue of my ring is that, that is green it will turn to red, and that is red it will turn in likeness to green, and that is blue it will turn to likeness of white, and that is white it will turn in likeness to blue, and so it will do of all manner of colours. Also who that beareth my ring shall lose no blood, and for great love I will give you this ring. Gramercy, said Sir Gareth, mine own lady, for this ring is passing meet for me, for it will turn all manner of likeness that I am in, and that shall cause me that I shall not be known. Then Sir Gringamore gave Sir Gareth a bay courser that was a passing good horse; also he gave him good armour and sure, and a noble sword that sometime Sir Gringamore’s father won upon an heathen tyrant. And so thus every knight made him ready to that tournament. And King Arthur was come two days to-fore the <261>Assumption of our Lady. And there was all manner of royalty of all minstrelsy that might be found. Also there came Queen Guenever and the Queen of Orkney, Sir Gareth’s mother.

And upon the Assumption Day, when mass and matins were done, there were heralds with trumpets commanded to blow to the field. And so there came out Sir Epinogrus, the king’s son of Northumberland, from the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and either of them brake their spears to their hands. And then came in Sir Palamides out of the castle, and there encountered with him Gawaine, and either of them smote other so hard that both the good knights and their horses fell to the earth. And then knights of either party rescued their knights. And then came in Sir Safere and Sir Segwarides, brethren to Sir Palamides; and there encountered Sir Agravaine with Sir Safere and Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Segwarides. So Sir Safere smote down Agravaine, Sir Gawaine’s brother; and Sir Segwarides, Sir Safere’s brother. And Sir Malegrine, a knight of the castle, encountered with Sir Uwaine le Blanchemains, and there Sir Uwaine gave Sir Malegrine a fall, that he had almost broke his neck.

CHAPTER XXVIII

How the knights bare them in the battle.

THEN Sir Brian de les Isles and Grummore Grummursum, knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Aglovale, and Sir Tor smote down Sir Grummore Grummursum to the earth. Then came in Sir Carados of the dolorous tower, and Sir Turquine, knights of the castle; and there encountered with them Sir Percivale de Galis and Sir Lamorak de Galis, that were two brethren. And there encountered Sir Percivale with Sir Carados, and either brake their spears unto their hands, and then Sir Turquine with Sir Lamorak, and either of them smote down other’s horse and all to the <262>earth, and either parties rescued other, and horsed them again. And Sir Arnold and Sir Gauter, knights of the castle, encountered with Sir Brandiles and Sir Kay, and these four knights encountered mightily, and brake their spears to their hands. Then came in Sir Tristram, Sir Sadok, and Sir Dinas, knights of the castle, and there encountered Sir Tristram with Sir Bedivere, and there Sir Bedivere was smitten to the earth both horse and man. And Sir Sadok encountered with Sir Petipase, and there Sir Sadok was overthrown. And there Uwaine les Avoutres smote down Sir Dinas, the Seneschal. Then came in Sir Persant of Inde, a knight of the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Launcelot du Lake, and there he smote Sir Persant, horse and man, to the earth. Then came Sir Pertolepe from the castle, and there encountered with him Sir Lionel, and there Sir Pertolepe, the Green Knight, smote down Sir Lionel, brother to Sir Launcelot. All this was marked by noble heralds, who bare him best, and their names.

And then came into the field Sir Perimones, the Red Knight, Sir Persant’s brother, that was a knight of the castle, and he encountered with Sir Ector de Maris, and either smote other so hard that both their horses and they fell to the earth. And then came in the Red Knight of the Red Launds, and Sir Gareth, from the castle, and there encountered with them Sir Bors de Ganis and Sir Bleoberis, and there the Red Knight and Sir Bors [either] smote other so hard that their spears brast, and their horses fell grovelling to the earth. Then Sir Bleoberis brake his spear upon Sir Gareth, but of that stroke Sir Bleoberis fell to the earth. When Sir Galihodin saw that he bade Sir Gareth keep him, and Sir Gareth smote him to the earth. Then Sir Galihud gat a spear to avenge his brother, and in the same wise Sir Gareth served him, and Sir Dinadan and his brother, La Cote Male Taile, and Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and Sir Dodinas le Savage. All these he bare down with one spear.

When King Agwisance of Ireland saw Sir Gareth fare so, he marvelled what he might be that one time seemed <263>green, and another time, at his again coming, he seemed blue. And thus at every course that he rode to and fro he changed his colour, so that there might neither king nor knight have ready cognisance of him. Then Sir Agwisance, the King of Ireland, encountered with Sir Gareth, and there Sir Gareth smote him from his horse, saddle and all. And then came King Carados of Scotland, and Sir Gareth smote him down horse and man. And in the same wise he served King Uriens of the land of Gore. And then came in Sir Bagdemagus, and Sir Gareth smote him down, horse and man, to the earth. And Bagdemagus’ son, Meliganus, brake a spear upon Sir Gareth mightily and knightly. And then Sir Galahault, the noble prince, cried on high: Knight with the many colours, well hast thou jousted; now make thee ready that I may joust with thee. Sir Gareth heard him, and he gat a great spear, and so they encountered together, and there the prince brake his spear; but Sir Gareth smote him upon the left side of the helm that he reeled here and there, and he had fallen down had not his men recovered him.

So God me help, said King Arthur, that same knight with the many colours is a good knight. Wherefore the king called unto him Sir Launcelot, and prayed him to encounter with that knight. Sir, said Launcelot, I may well find in my heart for to forbear him as at this time, for he hath had travail enough this day; and when a good knight doth so well upon some day, it is no good knight’s part to let him of his worship, and namely, when he seeth a knight hath done so great labour; for peradventure, said Sir Launcelot, his quarrel is here this day, and peradventure he is best beloved with this lady of all that be here; for I see well he paineth him and enforceth him to do great deeds, and therefore, said Sir Launcelot, as for me, this day he shall have the honour; though it lay in my power to put him from it I would not.

<264>
CHAPTER XXIX

Yet of the said tournament.

THEN when this was done there was drawing of swords, and then there began a sore tournament. And there did Sir Lamorak marvellous deeds of arms; and betwixt Sir Lamorak and Sir Ironside, that was the Red Knight of the Red Launds, there was strong battle; and betwixt Sir Palamides and Bleoberis there was a strong battle; and Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram met, and there Sir Gawaine had the worse, for he pulled Sir Gawaine from his horse, and there he was long upon foot, and defouled. Then came in Sir Launcelot, and he smote Sir Turquine, and he him; and then came Sir Carados his brother, and both at once they assailed him, and he as the most noblest knight of the world worshipfully fought with them both, that all men wondered of the noblesse of Sir Launcelot. And then came in Sir Gareth, and knew that it was Sir Launcelot that fought with the two perilous knights. And then Sir Gareth came with his good horse and hurtled them in-sunder, and no stroke would he smite to Sir Launcelot. That espied Sir Launcelot, and deemed it should be the good knight Sir Gareth: and then Sir Gareth rode here and there, and smote on the right hand and on the left hand, and all the folk might well espy where that he rode. And by fortune he met with his brother Sir Gawaine, and there he put Sir Gawaine to the worse, for he put off his helm, and so he served five or six knights of the Round Table, that all men said he put him in the most pain, and best he did his devoir. For when Sir Tristram beheld him how he first jousted and after fought so well with a sword, then he rode unto Sir Ironside and to Sir Persant of Inde, and asked them, by their faith, What manner a knight is yonder knight that seemeth in so many divers colours? Truly, meseemeth, said Tristram, that he putteth himself in great pain, for he <265>never ceaseth. Wot ye not what he is? said Sir Ironside. No, said Sir Tristram. Then shall ye know that this is he that loveth the lady of the castle, and she him again; and this is he that won me when I besieged the lady of this castle, and this is he that won Sir Persant of Inde, and his three brethren. What is his name, said Sir Tristram, and of what blood is he come? He was called in the court of King Arthur, Beaumains, but his right name is Sir Gareth of Orkney, brother to Sir Gawaine. By my head, said Sir Tristram, he is a good knight, and a big man of arms, and if he be young he shall prove a full noble knight. He is but a child, they all said, and of Sir Launcelot he was made knight. Therefore he is mickle the better, said Tristram. And then Sir Tristram, Sir Ironside, Sir Persant, and his brother, rode together for to help Sir Gareth; and then there were given many strong strokes.

And then Sir Gareth rode out on the one side to amend his helm; and then said his dwarf: Take me your ring, that ye lose it not while that ye drink. And so when he had drunk he gat on his helm, and eagerly took his horse and rode into the field, and left his ring with his dwarf; and the dwarf was glad the ring was from him, for then he wist well he should be known. And then when Sir Gareth was in the field all folks saw him well and plainly that he was in yellow colours; and there he rased off helms and pulled down knights, that King Arthur had marvel what knight he was, for the king saw by his hair that it was the same knight.

CHAPTER XXX

How Sir Gareth was espied by the heralds, and how he escaped out of the field.

BUT before he was in so many colours, and now he is but in one colour; that is yellow. Now go, said King Arthur <266>unto divers heralds, and ride about him, and espy what manner knight he is, for I have spered of many knights this day that be upon his party, and all say they know him not. And so an herald rode nigh Gareth as he could; and there he saw written about his helm in gold, This helm is Sir Gareth of Orkney. Then the herald cried as he were wood, and many heralds with him:–This is Sir Gareth of Orkney in the yellow arms; wherby[*4] all kings and knights of Arthur’s beheld him and awaited; and then they pressed all to behold him, and ever the heralds cried: This is Sir Gareth of Orkney, King Lot’s son. And when Sir Gareth espied that he was discovered, then he doubled his strokes, and smote down Sir Sagramore, and his brother Sir Gawaine. O brother, said Sir Gawaine, I weened ye would not have stricken me.

[*4] So W. de Worde; Caxton “that by.”

So when he heard him say so he thrang here and there, and so with great pain he gat out of the press, and there he met with his dwarf. O boy, said Sir Gareth, thou hast beguiled me foul this day that thou kept my ring; give it me anon again, that I may hide my body withal; and so he took it him. And then they all wist not where he was become; and Sir Gawaine had in manner espied where Sir Gareth rode, and then he rode after with all his might. That espied Sir Gareth, and rode lightly into the forest, that Sir Gawaine wist not where he was become. And when Sir Gareth wist that Sir Gawaine was passed, he asked the dwarf of best counsel. Sir, said the dwarf, meseemeth it were best, now that ye are escaped from spying, that ye send my lady Dame Lionesse her ring. It is well advised, said Sir Gareth; now have it here and bear it to her, and say that I recommend me unto her good grace, and say her I will come when I may, and I pray her to be true and faithful to me as I will be to her. Sir, said the dwarf, it shall be done as ye command: and so he rode his way, and did his errand unto the lady. Then she said, Where is my knight, Sir Gareth? Madam, said the dwarf, he bade me say that he would not be long from you. And so lightly the dwarf came again unto Sir Gareth, that would full fain <267>have had a lodging, for he had need to be reposed. And then fell there a thunder and a rain, as heaven and earth should go together. And Sir Gareth was not a little weary, for of all that day he had but little rest, neither his horse nor he. So this Sir Gareth rode so long in that forest until the night came. And ever it lightened and thundered, as it had been wood. At the last by fortune he came to a castle, and there he heard the waits upon the walls.

CHAPTER XXXI

How Sir Gareth came to a castle where he was well lodged, and he jousted with a knight and slew him.

THEN Sir Gareth rode unto the barbican of the castle, and prayed the porter fair to let him into the castle. The porter answered ungoodly again, and said, Thou gettest no lodging here. Fair sir, say not so, for I am a knight of King Arthur’s, and pray the lord or the lady of this castle to give me harbour for the love of King Arthur. Then the porter went unto the duchess, and told her how there was a knight of King Arthur’s would have harbour. Let him in, said the duchess, for I will see that knight, and for King Arthur’s sake he shall not be harbourless. Then she yode up into a tower over the gate, with great torchlight.

When Sir Gareth saw that torch-light he cried on high: Whether thou be lord or lady, giant or champion, I take no force so that I may have harbour this night; and if it so be that I must needs fight, spare me not to-morn when I have rested me, for both I and mine horse be weary. Sir knight, said the lady, thou speakest knightly and boldly; but wit thou well the lord of this castle loveth not King Arthur, nor none of his court, for my lord hath ever been against him; and therefore thou were better not to come within this castle; for an thou come in this night, thou must come in under such form, that wheresomever <268>thou meet my lord, by stigh or by street, thou must yield thee to him as prisoner. Madam, said Sir Gareth, what is your lord, and what is his name? Sir, my lord’s name is the Duke de la Rowse. Well madam, said Sir Gareth, I shall promise you in what place I meet your lord I shall yield me unto him and to his good grace; with that I understand he will do me no harm: and if I understand that he will, I will release myself an I can with my spear and my sword. Ye say well, said the duchess; and then she let the drawbridge down, and so he rode into the hall, and there he alighted, and his horse was led into a stable; and in the hall he unarmed him and said, Madam, I will not out of this hall this night; and when it is daylight, let see who will have ado with me, he shall find me ready. Then was he set unto supper, and had many good dishes. Then Sir Gareth list well to eat, and knightly he ate his meat, and eagerly; there was many a fair lady by him, and some said they never saw a goodlier man nor so well of eating. Then they made him passing good cheer, and shortly when he had supped his bed was made there; so he rested him all night.

And on the morn he heard mass, and brake his fast and took his leave at the duchess, and at them all; and thanked her goodly of her lodging, and of his good cheer; and then she asked him his name. Madam, he said, truly my name is Gareth of Orkney, and some men call me Beaumains. Then knew she well it was the same knight that fought for Dame Lionesse. So Sir Gareth departed and rode up into a mountain, and there met him a knight, his name was Sir Bendelaine, and said to Sir Gareth: Thou shalt not pass this way, for either thou shalt joust with me, or else be my prisoner. Then will I joust, said Sir Gareth. And so they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body; and Sir Bendelaine rode forth to his castle there beside, and there died. So Sir Gareth would have rested him, and he came riding to Bendelaine’s castle. Then his knights and servants espied that it was he that had slain their lord. Then they armed twenty good men, and <269>came out and assailed Sir Gareth; and so he had no spear, but his sword, and put his shield afore him; and there they brake their spears upon him, and they assailed him passingly sore. But ever Sir Gareth defended him as a knight.

CHAPTER XXXII

How Sir Gareth fought with a knight that held within his castle thirty ladies, and how he slew him.

SO when they saw that they might not overcome him, they rode from him, and took their counsel to slay his horse; and so they came in upon Sir Gareth, and with spears they slew his horse, and then they assailed him hard. But when he was on foot, there was none that he fought but he gave him such a buffet that he did never recover. So he slew them by one and one till they were but four, and there they fled; and Sir Gareth took a good horse that was one of theirs, and rode his way.

Then he rode a great pace till that he came to a castle, and there he heard much mourning of ladies and gentlewomen. So there came by him a page. What noise is this, said Sir Gareth, that I hear within this castle? Sir knight, said the page, here be within this castle thirty ladies, and all they be widows; for here is a knight that waiteth daily upon this castle, and his name is the Brown Knight without Pity, and he is the periloust knight that now liveth; and therefore sir, said the page, I rede you flee. Nay, said Sir Gareth, I will not flee though thou be afeard of him. And then the page saw where came the Brown Knight: Lo, said the page, yonder he cometh. Let me deal with him, said Sir Gareth. And when either of other had a sight they let their horses run, and the Brown Knight brake his spear, and Sir Gareth smote him throughout the body, that he overthrew him to the ground stark dead. So Sir Gareth rode into the castle, and prayed the ladies that he might repose him. Alas, said the ladies, <270>ye may not be lodged here. Make him good cheer, said the page, for this knight hath slain your enemy. Then they all made him good cheer as lay in their power. But wit ye well they made him good cheer, for they might none otherwise do, for they were but poor.

And so on the morn he went to mass, and there he saw the thirty ladies kneel, and lay grovelling upon divers tombs, making great dole and sorrow. Then Sir Gareth wist well that in the tombs lay their lords. Fair ladies, said Sir Gareth, ye must at the next feast of Pentecost be at the court of King Arthur, and say that I, Sir Gareth, sent you thither. We shall do this, said the ladies. So he departed, and by fortune he came to a mountain, and there he found a goodly knight that bade him, Abide sir knight, and joust with me. What are ye? said Sir Gareth. My name is, said he, the Duke de la Rowse. Ah sir, ye are the same knight that I lodged once in your castle; and there I made promise unto your lady that I should yield me unto you. Ah, said the duke, art thou that proud knight that profferest to fight with my knights; therefore make thee ready, for I will have ado with you. So they let their horses run, and there Sir Gareth smote the duke down from his horse. But the duke lightly avoided his horse, and dressed his shield and drew his sword, and bade Sir Gareth alight and fight with him. So he did alight, and they did great battle together more than an hour, and either hurt other full sore. At the last Sir Gareth gat the duke to the earth, and would have slain him, and then he yield him to him. Then must ye go, said Sir Gareth, unto Sir Arthur my lord at the next feast, and say that I, Sir Gareth of Orkney, sent you unto him. It shall be done, said the duke, and I will do to you homage and fealty with an hundred knights with me; and all the days of my life to do you service where ye will command me.

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CHAPTER XXXIII

How Sir Gareth and Sir Gawaine fought each against other, and how they knew each other by the damosel Linet.

SO the duke departed, and Sir Gareth stood there alone; and there he saw an armed knight coming toward him. Then Sir Gareth took the duke’s shield, and mounted upon horseback, and so without biding they ran together as it had been the thunder. And there that knight hurt Sir Gareth under the side with his spear. And then they alighted and drew their swords, and gave great strokes that the blood trailed to the ground. And so they fought two hours.

At the last there came the damosel Linet, that some men called the damosel Savage, and she came riding upon an ambling mule; and there she cried all on high, Sir Gawaine, Sir Gawaine, leave thy fighting with thy brother Sir Gareth. And when he heard her say so he threw away his shield and his sword, and ran to Sir Gareth, and took him in his arms, and sithen kneeled down and asked him mercy. What are ye, said Sir Gareth, that right now were so strong and so mighty, and now so suddenly yield you to me? O Gareth, I am your brother Sir Gawaine, that for your sake have had great sorrow and labour. Then Sir Gareth unlaced his helm, and kneeled down to him, and asked him mercy. Then they rose both, and embraced either other in their arms, and wept a great while or they might speak, and either of them gave other the prize of the battle. And there were many kind words between them. Alas, my fair brother, said Sir Gawaine, perdy I owe of right to worship you an ye were not my brother, for ye have worshipped King Arthur and all his court, for ye have sent him[*5] more worshipful knights this twelvemonth than six the best of the Round Table have done, except Sir Launcelot.

[*5] So W. de Worde; Caxton “me.”

<272>

Then came the damosel Savage that was the Lady Linet, that rode with Sir Gareth so long, and there she did staunch Sir Gareth’s wounds and Sir Gawaine’s. Now what will ye do? said the damosel Savage; meseemeth that it were well done that Arthur had witting of you both, for your horses are so bruised that they may not bear. Now, fair damosel, said Sir Gawaine, I pray you ride unto my lord mine uncle, King Arthur, and tell him what adventure is to me betid here, and I suppose he will not tarry long. Then she took her mule, and lightly she came to King Arthur that was but two mile thence. And when she had told him tidings the king bade get him a palfrey. And when he was upon his back he bade the lords and ladies come after, who that would; and there was saddling and bridling of queens’ horses and princes’ horses, and well was him that soonest might be ready.

So when the king came thereas they were, he saw Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth sit upon a little hill-side, and then the king avoided his horse. And when he came nigh Sir Gareth he would have spoken but he might not; and therewith he sank down in a swoon for gladness. And so they stert unto their uncle, and required him of his good grace to be of good comfort. Wit ye well the king made great joy, and many a piteous complaint he made to Sir Gareth, and ever he wept as he had been a child. With that came his mother, the Queen of Orkney, Dame Morgawse, and when she saw Sir Gareth readily in the visage she might not weep, but suddenly fell down in a swoon, and lay there a great while like as she had been dead. And then Sir Gareth recomforted his mother in such wise that she recovered and made good cheer. Then the king commanded that all manner of knights that were under his obeissance should make their lodging right there for the love of his nephews. And so it was done, and all manner of purveyance purveyed, that there lacked nothing that might be gotten of tame nor wild for gold or silver. And then by the means of the damosel Savage Sir Gawaine and Sir Gareth were healed of their wounds; and there they sojourned eight days.

<273>
Then said King Arthur unto the damosel Savage: I marvel that your sister, Dame Lionesse, cometh not here to me, and in especial that she cometh not to visit her knight, my nephew Sir Gareth, that hath had so much travail for her love. My lord, said the damosel Linet, ye must of your good grace hold her excused, for she knoweth not that my lord, Sir Gareth, is here. Go then for her, said King Arthur, that we may be appointed what is best to be done, according to the pleasure of my nephew. Sir, said the damosel, that shall be done, and so she rode unto her sister. And as lightly as she might she made her ready; and she came on the morn with her brother Sir Gringamore, and with her forty knights. And so when she was come she had all the cheer that might be done, both of the king, and of many other kings and queens.

CHAPTER XXXIV

How Sir Gareth acknowledged that they loved each other to King Arthur, and of the appointment of their wedding.

AND among all these ladies she was named the fairest, and peerless. Then when Sir Gawaine saw her there was many a goodly look and goodly words, that all men of worship had joy to behold them. Then came King Arthur and many other kings, and Dame Guenever, and the Queen of Orkney. And there the king asked his nephew, Sir Gareth, whether he would have that lady as paramour, or to have her to his wife. My lord, wit you well that I love her above all ladies living. Now, fair lady, said King Arthur, what say ye? Most noble King, said Dame Lionesse, wit you well that my lord, Sir Gareth, is to me more liefer to have and wield as my husband, than any king or prince that is christened; and if I may not have him I promise you I will never have none. For, my lord Arthur, said Dame Lionesse, wit ye well he is my first love, and he shall be the last; and if ye will suffer him to <274>have his will and free choice I dare say he will have me. That is truth, said Sir Gareth; an I have not you and wield not you as my wife, there shall never lady nor gentlewoman rejoice me. What, nephew, said the king, is the wind in that door? for wit ye well I would not for the stint of my crown to be causer to withdraw your hearts; and wit ye well ye cannot love so well but I shall rather increase it than distress it. And also ye shall have my love and my lordship in the uttermost wise that may lie in my power. And in the same wise said Sir Gareth’s mother.

Then there was made a provision for the day of marriage; and by the king’s advice it was provided that it should be at Michaelmas following, at Kink Kenadon by the seaside, for there is a plentiful country. And so it was cried in all the places through the realm. And then Sir Gareth sent his summons to all these knights and ladies that he had won in battle to-fore, that they should be at his day of marriage at Kink Kenadon by the sands. And then Dame Lionesse, and the damosel Linet with Sir Gringamore, rode to their castle; and a goodly and a rich ring she gave to Sir Gareth, and he gave her another. And King Arthur gave her a rich pair of beads[*6] of gold; and so she departed; and King Arthur and his fellowship rode toward Kink Kenadon, and Sir Gareth brought his lady on the way, and so came to the king again and rode with him. Lord! the great cheer that Sir Launcelot made of Sir Gareth and he of him, for there was never no knight that Sir Gareth loved so well as he did Sir Launcelot; and ever for the most part he would be in Sir Launcelot’s company; for after Sir Gareth had espied Sir Gawaine’s conditions, he withdrew himself from his brother, Sir Gawaine’s, fellowship, for he was vengeable, and where he hated he would be avenged with murder, and that hated Sir Gareth.

[*6] So W. de Worde; Caxton “bee.”

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CHAPTER XXXV

Of the Great Royalty, and what officers were made at the feast of the wedding, and of the jousts at the feast.

SO it drew fast to Michaelmas; and thither came Dame Lionesse, the lady of the Castle Perilous, and her sister, Dame Linet, with Sir Gringamore, her brother, with them for he had the conduct of these ladies. And there they were lodged at the device of King Arthur. And upon Michaelmas Day the Bishop of Canterbury made the wedding betwixt Sir Gareth and the Lady Lionesse with great solemnity. And King Arthur made Gaheris to wed the Damosel Savage, that was Dame Linet; and King Arthur made Sir Agravaine to wed Dame Lionesse’s niece, a fair lady, her name was Dame Laurel.

And so when this solemnization was done, then came in the Green Knight, Sir Pertolepe, with thirty knights, and there he did homage and fealty to Sir Gareth, and these knights to hold of him for evermore. Also Sir Pertolepe said: I pray you that at this feast I may be your chamberlain. With a good will, said Sir Gareth sith it liketh you to take so simple an office. Then came in the Red Knight, with three score knights with him, and did to Sir Gareth homage and fealty, and all those knights to hold of him for evermore. And then this Sir Perimones prayed Sir Gareth to grant him to be his chief butler at that high feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, that ye have this office, and it were better. Then came in Sir Persant of Inde, with an hundred knights with him, and there he did homage and fealty, and all his knights should do him service, and hold their lands of him for ever; and there he prayed Sir Gareth to make him his sewer-chief at the feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, that ye have it and it were better. Then came the Duke de la Rowse with an hundred knights with him, and there he did homage and fealty to Sir Gareth, and so to hold their <276>lands of him for ever. And he required Sir Gareth that he might serve him of the wine that day of that feast. I will well, said Sir Gareth, and it were better. Then came in the Red Knight of the Red Launds, that was Sir Ironside, and he brought with him three hundred knights, and there he did homage and fealty, and all these knights to hold their lands of him for ever. And then he asked Sir Gareth to be his carver. I will well, said Sir Gareth, an it please you.

Then came into the court thirty ladies, and all they seemed widows, and those thirty ladies brought with them many fair gentlewomen. And all they kneeled down at once unto King Arthur and unto Sir Gareth, and there all those ladies told the king how Sir Gareth delivered them from the dolorous tower, and slew the Brown Knight without Pity: And therefore we, and our heirs for evermore, will do homage unto Sir Gareth of Orkney. So then the kings and queens, princes and earls, barons and many bold knights, went unto meat; and well may ye wit there were all manner of meat plenteously, all manner revels and games, with all manner of minstrelsy that was used in those days. Also there was great jousts three days. But the king would not suffer Sir Gareth to joust, because of his new bride; for, as the French book saith, that Dame Lionesse desired of the king that none that were wedded should joust at that feast.

So the first day there jousted Sir Lamorak de Galis, for he overthrew thirty knights, and did passing marvellously deeds of arms; and then King Arthur made Sir Persant and his two brethren Knights of the Round Table to their lives’ end, and gave them great lands. Also the second day there jousted Tristram best, and he overthrew forty knights, and did there marvellous deeds of arms. And there King Arthur made Ironside, that was the Red Knight of the Red Launds, a Knight of the Table Round to his life’s end, and gave him great lands. The third day there jousted Sir Launcelot du Lake, and he overthrew fifty knights, and did many marvellous deeds of arms, that all men wondered on him. And there King Arthur <277>made the Duke de la Rowse a Knight of the Round Table to his life’s end, and gave him great lands to spend. But when these jousts were done, Sir Lamorak and Sir Tristram departed suddenly, and would not be known, for the which King Arthur and all the court were sore displeased. And so they held the court forty days with great solemnity. And this Sir Gareth was a noble knight, and a well-ruled, and fair- languaged.

Thus endeth this tale of Sir Gareth of Orkney that wedded Dame Lionesse of the Castle Perilous. And also Sir Gaheris wedded her sister, Dame Linet, that was called the Damosel Sabage. And Sir Agrabaine wedded Dame Laurel, a fair lady and great, and mighty lands with great riches gave with them King Arthur, that royally they might live till their lives’ end.

Here followeth the viii. book, the which is the first book of Sir Tristram de Liones, and who was his father and his mother, and how he was born and fostered, and how he was made knight.

BOOK VIII
CHAPTER I

How Sir Tristram de Liones was born, and how his mother died at his birth, wherefore she named him Tristram.

IT was a king that hight Meliodas, and he was lord and king of the country of Liones, and this Meliodas was a likely knight as any was that time living. And by fortune he wedded King Mark’s sister of Cornwall, and she was called Elizabeth, that was called both good and fair. And at that time King Arthur reigned, and he was whole king of England, Wales, and Scotland, and of many other realms: howbeit there were many kings that were lords of many countries, but all they held their lands of King Arthur; for in Wales were two kings, and in the north were many kings; and in Cornwall and in the west were two kings; also in Ireland were two or three kings, and all were under the obeissance of King Arthur. So was the King of France, and the King of Brittany, and all the lordships unto Rome.

So when this King Meliodas had been with his wife, within a while she waxed great with child, and she was a full meek lady, and well she loved her lord, and he her again, so there was great joy betwixt them. Then there was a lady in that country that had loved King Meliodas long, and by no mean she never could get his love; therefore she let ordain upon a day, as King Meliodas rode a-hunting, for he was a great chaser, and there by an enchantment she made him chase an hart by himself alone <279>till that he came to an old castle, and there anon he was taken prisoner by the lady that him loved. When Elizabeth, King Meliodas’ wife, missed her lord, and she was nigh out of her wit, and also as great with child as she was, she took a gentlewoman with her, and ran into the forest to seek her lord. And when she was far in the forest she might no farther, for she began to travail fast of her child. And she had many grimly throes; her gentlewoman helped her all that she might, and so by miracle of Our Lady of Heaven she was delivered with great pains. But she had taken such cold for the default of help that deep draughts of death took her, that needs she must die and depart out of this world; there was none other bote.

And when this Queen Elizabeth saw that there was none other bote, then she made great dole, and said unto her gentlewoman: When ye see my lord, King Meliodas, recommend me unto him, and tell him what pains I endure here for his love, and how I must die here for his sake for default of good help; and let him wit that I am full sorry to depart out of this world from him, therefore pray him to be friend to my soul. Now let me see my little child, for whom I have had all this sorrow. And when she saw him she said thus: Ah, my little son, thou hast murdered thy mother, and therefore I suppose, thou that art a murderer so young, thou art full likely to be a manly man in thine age. And because I shall die of the birth of thee, I charge thee, gentlewoman, that thou pray my lord, King Meliodas, that when he is christened let call him Tristram, that is as much to say as a sorrowful birth. And therewith this queen gave up the ghost and died. Then the gentlewoman laid her under an umbre of a great tree, and then she lapped the child as well as she might for cold. Right so there came the barons, following after the queen, and when they saw that she was dead, and understood none other but the king was destroyed, [*7]then certain of them would have slain the child, because they would have been lords of the country of Liones.

[*7] Printed by Caxton as part of chap. ii.

<280>
CHAPTER II

How the stepmother of Sir Tristram had ordained poison for to have poisoned Sir Tristram.

BUT then through the fair speech of the gentlewoman, and by the means that she made, the most part of the barons would not assent thereto. And then they let carry home the dead queen, and much dole was made for her.

Then this meanwhile Merlin delivered King Meliodas out of prison on the morn after his queen was dead. And so when the king was come home the most part of the barons made great joy. But the sorrow that the king made for his queen that might no tongue tell. So then the king let inter her richly, and after he let christen his child as his wife had commanded afore her death. And then he let call him Tristram, the sorrowful born child. Then the King Meliodas endured seven years without a wife, and all this time Tristram was nourished well. Then it befell that King Meliodas wedded King Howell’s daughter of Brittany, and anon she had children of King Meliodas: then was she heavy and wroth that her children should not rejoice the country of Liones, wherefore this queen ordained for to poison young Tristram. So she let poison be put in a piece of silver in the chamber whereas Tristram and her children were together, unto that intent that when Tristram were thirsty he should drink that drink. And so it fell upon a day, the queen’s son, as he was in that chamber, espied the piece with poison, and he weened it had been good drink, and because the child was thirsty he took the piece with poison and drank freely; and therewithal suddenly the child brast and was dead.

When the queen of Meliodas wist of the death of her son, wit ye well that she was heavy. But yet the king understood nothing of her treason. Notwithstanding the <281>queen would not leave this, but eft she let ordain more poison, and put it in a piece. And by fortune King Meliodas, her husband, found the piece with wine where was the poison, and he that was much thirsty took the piece for to drink thereout. And as he would have drunken thereof the queen espied him, and then she ran unto him, and pulled the piece from him suddenly. The king marvelled why she did so, and remembered him how her son was suddenly slain with poison. And then he took her by the hand, and said: Thou false traitress, thou shalt tell me what manner of drink this is, or else I shall slay thee. And therewith he pulled out his sword, and sware a great oath that he should slay her but if she told him truth. Ah! mercy, my lord, said she, and I shall tell you all. And then she told him why she would have slain Tristram, because her children should rejoice his land. Well, said King Meliodas, and therefore shall ye have the law. And so she was condemned by the assent of the barons to be burnt; and then was there made a great fire, and right as she was at the fire to take her execution, young Tristram kneeled afore King Meliodas, and besought him to give him a boon. I will well, said the king again. Then said young Tristram, Give me the life of thy queen, my stepmother. That is unrightfully asked, said King Meliodas, for thou ought of right to hate her, for she would have slain thee with that poison an she might have had her will; and for thy sake most is my cause that she should die.

Sir, said Tristram, as for that, I beseech you of your mercy that you will forgive it her, and as for my part, God forgive it her, and I do; and so much it liked your highness to grant me my boon, for God’s love I require you hold your promise. Sithen it is so, said the king, I will that ye have her life. Then, said the king, I give her to you, and go ye to the fire and take her, and do with her what ye will. So Sir Tristram went to the fire, and by the commandment of the king delivered her from the death. But after that King Meliodas would never have ado with her, as at bed and board. But by the <282>good means of young Tristram he made the king and her accorded. But then the king would not suffer young Tristram to abide no longer in his court.

CHAPTER III

How Sir Tristram was sent into France, and had one to govern him named Gouvernail, and how he learned to harp, hawk, and hunt.

AND then he let ordain a gentleman that was well learned and taught, his name was Gouvernail; and then he sent young Tristram with Gouvernail into France to learn the language, and nurture, and deeds of arms. And there was Tristram more than seven years. And then when he well could speak the language, and had learned all that he might learn in that country, then he came home to his father, King Meliodas, again. And so Tristram learned to be an harper passing all other, that there was none such called in no country, and so on harping and on instruments of music he applied him in his youth for to learn.

And after, as he grew in might and strength, he laboured ever in hunting and in hawking, so that never gentleman more, that ever we heard read of. And as the book saith, he began good measures of blowing of beasts of venery, and beasts of chase, and all manner of vermin, and all these terms we have yet of hawking and hunting. And therefore the book of venery, of hawking, and hunting, is called the book of Sir Tristram. Wherefore, as meseemeth, all gentlemen that bear old arms ought of right to honour Sir Tristram for the goodly terms that gentlemen have and use, and shall to the day of doom, that thereby in a manner all men of worship may dissever a gentleman from a yeoman, and from a yeoman a villain. For he that gentle is will draw him unto gentle tatches, and to follow the customs of noble gentlemen.

Thus Sir Tristram endured in Cornwall until he was <283>big and strong, of the age of eighteen years. And then the King Meliodas had great joy of Sir Tristram, and so had the queen, his wife. For ever after in her life, because Sir Tristram saved her from the fire, she did never hate him more after, but loved him ever after, and gave Tristram many great gifts; for every estate loved him, where that he went.

CHAPTER IV

How Sir Marhaus came out of Ireland for to ask truage of Cornwall, or else he would fight therefore.

THEN it befell that King Anguish of Ireland sent unto King Mark of Cornwall for his truage, that Cornwall had paid many winters. And all that time King Mark was behind of the truage for seven years. And King Mark and his barons gave unto the messenger of Ireland these words and answer, that they would none pay; and bade the messenger go unto his King Anguish, and tell him we will pay him no truage, but tell your lord, an he will always have truage of us of Cornwall, bid him send a trusty knight of his land, that will fight for his right, and we shall find another for to defend our right. With this answer the messengers departed into Ireland. And when King Anguish understood the answer of the messengers he was wonderly wroth. And then he called unto him Sir Marhaus, the good knight, that was nobly proved, and a Knight of the Table Round. And this Marhaus was brother unto the queen of Ireland. Then the king said thus: Fair brother, Sir Marhaus, I pray you go into Cornwall for my sake, and do battle for our truage that of right we ought to have; and whatsomever ye spend ye shall have sufficiently, more than ye shall need. Sir, said Marhaus, wit ye well that I shall not be loath to do battle in the right of you and your land with the best knight of the Table Round; for I know them, <284>for the most part, what be their deeds; and for to advance my deeds and to increase my worship I will right gladly go unto this journey for our right.

So in all haste there was made purveyance for Sir Marhaus, and he had all things that to him needed; and so he departed out of Ireland, and arrived up in Cornwall even fast by the Castle of Tintagil. And when King Mark understood that he was there arrived to fight for Ireland, then made King Mark great sorrow when he understood that the good and noble knight Sir Marhaus was come. For they knew no knight that durst have ado with him. For at that time Sir Marhaus was called one of the famousest and renowned knights of the world. And thus Sir Marhaus abode in the sea, and every day he sent unto King Mark for to pay the truage that was behind of seven year, other else to find a knight to fight with him for the truage. This manner of message Sir Marhaus sent daily unto King Mark.

Then they of Cornwall let make cries in every place, that what knight would fight for to save the truage of Cornwall, he should be rewarded so that he should fare the better, term of his life. Then some of the barons said to King Mark, and counselled him to send to the court of King Arthur for to seek Sir Launcelot du Lake, that was that time named for the marvelloust knight of all the world. Then there were some other barons that counselled the king not to do so, and said that it was labour in vain, because Sir Marhaus was a knight of the Round Table, therefore any of them will be loath to have ado with other, but if it were any knight at his own request would fight disguised and unknown. So the king and all his barons assented that it was no bote to seek any knight of the Round Table. This mean while came the language and the noise unto King Meliodas, how that Sir Marhaus abode battle fast by Tintagil, and how King Mark could find no manner knight to fight for him. When young Tristram heard of this he was wroth, and sore ashamed that there durst no knight in Cornwall have ado with Sir Marhaus of Ireland.

<285>
CHAPTER V

How Tristram enterprized the battle to fight for the truage of Cornwall, and how he was made knight.

THEREWITHAL Tristram went unto his father, King Meliodas, and asked him counsel what was best to do for to recover Cornwall from truage. For, as meseemeth, said Sir Tristram, it were shame that Sir Marhaus, the queen’s brother of Ireland, should go away unless that he were foughten withal. As for that, said King Meliodas, wit you well, son Tristram, that Sir Marhaus is called one of the best knights of the world, and Knight of the Table Round; and therefore I know no knight in this country that is able to match with him. Alas, said Sir Tristram, that I am not made knight; and if Sir Marhaus should thus depart into Ireland, God let me never have worship: an I were made knight I should match him. And sir, said Tristram, I pray you give me leave to ride to King Mark; and, so ye be not displeased, of King Mark will I be made knight. I will well, said King Meliodas, that ye be ruled as your courage will rule you. Then Sir Tristram thanked his father much. And then he made him ready to ride into Cornwall.

In the meanwhile there came a messenger with letters of love from King Faramon of France’s daughter unto Sir Tristram, that were full piteous letters, and in them were written many complaints of love; but Sir Tristram had no joy of her letters nor regard unto her. Also she sent him a little brachet that was passing fair. But when the king’s daughter understood that Sir Tristram would not love her, as the book saith, she died for sorrow. And then the same squire that brought the letter and the brachet came again unto Sir Tristram, as after ye shall hear in the tale.

So this young Sir Tristram rode unto his eme, King Mark of Cornwall. And when he came there he heard say that there would no knight fight with Sir Marhaus. <286>Then yede Sir Tristram unto his eme and said: Sir, if ye will give me the order of knighthood, I will do battle with Sir Marhaus. What are ye, said the king, and from whence be ye come? Sir, said Tristram, I come from King Meliodas that wedded your sister, and a gentleman wit ye well I am. King Mark beheld Sir Tristram and saw that he was but a young man of age, but he was passingly well made and big. Fair sir, said the king, what is your name, and where were ye born? Sir, said he again, my name is Tristram, and in the country of Liones was I born. Ye say well, said the king; and if ye will do this battle I shall make you knight. Therefore I come to you, said Sir Tristram, and for none other cause. But then King Mark made him knight. And therewithal, anon as he had made him knight, he sent a messenger unto Sir Marhaus with letters that said that he had found a young knight ready for to take the battle to the uttermost. It may well be, said Sir Marhaus; but tell King Mark I will not fight with no knight but he be of blood royal, that is to say, other king’s son, other queen’s son, born of a prince or princess.

When King Mark understood that, he sent for Sir Tristram de Liones and told him what was the answer of Sir Marhaus. Then said Sir Tristram: Sithen that he saith so, let him wit that I am come of father side and mother side of as noble blood as he is: for, sir, now shall ye know that I am King Meliodas’ son, born of your own sister, Dame Elizabeth, that died in the forest in the birth of me. O Jesu, said King Mark, ye are welcome fair nephew to me. Then in all the haste the king let horse Sir Tristram, and armed him in the best manner that might be had or gotten for gold or silver. And then King Mark sent unto Sir Marhaus, and did him to wit that a better born man than he was himself should fight with him, and his name is Sir Tristram de Liones, gotten of King Meliodas, and born of King Mark’s sister. Then was Sir Marhaus glad and blithe that he should fight with such a gentleman. And so by the assent of King Mark and of Sir Marhaus they let ordain that they <287>should fight within an island nigh Sir Marhaus’ ships; and so was Sir Tristram put into a vessel both his horse and he, and all that to him longed both for his body and for his horse. Sir Tristram lacked nothing. And when King Mark and his barons of Cornwall beheld how young Sir Tristram departed with such a carriage to fight for the right of Cornwall, there was neither man nor woman of worship but they wept to see and understand so young a knight to jeopardy himself for their right.

CHAPTER VI

How Sir Tristram arrived into the Island for to furnish the battle with Sir Marhaus.

SO to shorten this tale, when Sir Tristram was arrived within the island he looked to the farther side, and there he saw at an anchor six ships nigh to the land; and under the shadow of the ships upon the land, there hoved the noble knight, Sir Marhaus of Ireland. Then Sir Tristram commanded his servant Gouvernail to bring his horse to the land, and dress his harness at all manner of rights. And then when he had so done he mounted upon his horse; and when he was in his saddle well apparelled, and his shield dressed upon his shoulder, Tristram asked Gouvernail, Where is this knight that I shall have ado withal? Sir, said Gouvernail, see ye him not? I weened ye had seen him; yonder he hoveth under the umbre of his ships on horseback, with his spear in his hand and his shield upon his shoulder. That is truth, said the noble knight, Sir Tristram, now I see him well enough.

Then he commanded his servant Gouvernail to go to his vessel again: And commend me unto mine eme King Mark, and pray him, if that I be slain in this battle, for to inter my body as him seemed best; and as for me, let him wit that I will never yield me for cowardice; and if I be slain and flee not, then they have lost no truage for <288>me; and if so be that I flee or yield me as recreant, bid mine eme never bury me in Christian burials. And upon thy life, said Sir Tristram to Gouvernail, come thou not nigh this island till that thou see me overcome or slain, or else that I win yonder knight. So either departed from other sore weeping.

CHAPTER VII

How Sir Tristram fought against Sir Marhaus and achieved his battle, and how Sir Marhaus fled to his ship.

AND then Sir Marhaus avised Sir Tristram, and said thus: Young knight, Sir Tristram, what dost thou here? me sore repenteth of thy courage, for wit thou well I have been assayed, and the best knights of this land have been assayed of my hand; and also I have matched with the best knights of the world, and therefore by my counsel return again unto thy vessel. And fair knight, and well-proved knight, said Sir Tristram, thou shalt well wit I may not forsake thee in this quarrel, for I am for thy sake made knight. And thou shalt well wit that I am a king’s son born, and gotten upon a queen; and such promise I have made at my uncle’s request and mine own seeking, that I shall fight with thee unto the uttermost, and deliver Cornwall from the old truage. And also wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, that this is the greatest cause that thou couragest me to have ado with thee, for thou art called one of the most renowned knights of the world, and because of that noise and fame that thou hast thou givest me courage to have ado with thee, for never yet was I proved with good knight; and sithen I took the order of knighthood this day, I am well pleased that I may have ado with so good a knight as thou art. And now wit thou well, Sir Marhaus, that I cast me to get worship on thy body; and if that I be not proved, I trust to God that I shall be worshipfully proved upon thy body, and to <289>deliver the country of Cornwall for ever from all manner of truage from Ireland for ever.

When Sir Marhaus had heard him say what he would, he said then thus again: Fair knight, sithen it is so that thou castest to win worship of me, I let thee wit worship may thou none lose by me if thou mayest stand me three strokes; for I let thee wit for my noble deeds, proved and seen, King Arthur made me Knight of the Table Round.

Then they began to feutre their spears, and they met so fiercely together that they smote either other down, both horse and all. But Sir Marhaus smote Sir Tristram a great wound in the side with his spear, and then they avoided their horses, and pulled out their swords, and threw their shields afore them. And then they lashed together as men that were wild and courageous. And when they had stricken so together long, then they left their strokes, and foined at their breaths and visors; and when they saw that that might not prevail them, then they hurtled together like rams to bear either other down. Thus they fought still more than half a day, and either were wounded passing sore, that the blood ran down freshly from them upon the ground. By then Sir Tristram waxed more fresher than Sir Marhaus, and better winded and bigger; and with a mighty stroke he smote Sir Marhaus upon the helm such a buffet that it went through his helm, and through the coif of steel, and through the brain-pan, and the sword stuck so fast in the helm and in his brain-pan that Sir Tristram pulled thrice at his sword or ever he might pull it out from his head; and there Marhaus fell down on his knees, the edge of Tristram’s sword left in his brain-pan. And suddenly Sir Marhaus rose grovelling, and threw his sword and his shield from him, and so ran to his ships and fled his way, and Sir Tristram had ever his shield and his sword.

And when Sir Tristram saw Sir Marhaus withdraw him, he said: Ah! Sir Knight of the Round Table, why withdrawest thou thee? thou dost thyself and thy kin great shame, for I am but a young knight, or now I was never proved, and rather than I should withdraw me from <290>thee, I had rather be hewn in an hundred pieces. Sir Marhaus answered no word but yede his way sore groaning. Well, Sir Knight, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee thy sword and thy shield shall be mine; and thy shield shall I wear in all places where I ride on mine adventures, and in the sight of King Arthur and all the Round Table.

CHAPTER VIII

How Sir Marhaus after that he was arrived in Ireland died of the stroke that Sir Tristram had given him, and how Tristram was hurt.

ANON Sir Marhaus and his fellowship departed into Ireland. And as soon as he came to the king, his brother, he let search his wounds. And when his head was searched a piece of Sir Tristram’s sword was found therein, and might never be had out of his head for no surgeons, and so he died of Sir Tristram’s sword; and that piece of the sword the queen, his sister, kept it for ever with her, for she thought to be revenged an she might.

Now turn we again unto Sir Tristram, that was sore wounded, and full sore bled that he might not within a little while, when he had taken cold, unnethe stir him of his limbs. And then he set him down softly upon a little hill, and bled fast. Then anon came Gouvernail, his man, with his vessel; and the king and his barons came with procession against him. And when he was come unto the land, King Mark took him in his arms, and the king and Sir Dinas, the seneschal, led Sir Tristram into the castle of Tintagil. And then was he searched in the best manner, and laid in his bed. And when King Mark saw his wounds he wept heartily, and so did all his lords. So God me help, said King Mark, I would not for all my lands that my nephew died. So Sir Tristram lay there a month and more, and ever he was like to die of that stroke that Sir Marhaus smote him first with the spear. For, as the <291>French book saith, the spear’s head was envenomed, that Sir Tristram might not be whole. Then was King Mark and all his barons passing heavy, for they deemed none other but that Sir Tristram should not recover. Then the king let send after all manner of leeches and surgeons, both unto men and women, and there was none that would behote him the life. Then came there a lady that was a right wise lady, and she said plainly unto King Mark, and to Sir Tristram, and to all his barons, that he should never be whole but if Sir Tristram went in the same country that the venom came from, and in that country should he be holpen or else never. Thus said the lady unto the king.

When King Mark understood that, he let purvey for Sir Tristram a fair vessel, well victualled, and therein was put Sir Tristram, and Gouvernail with him, and Sir Tristram took his harp with him, and so he was put into the sea to sail into Ireland; and so by good fortune he arrived up in Ireland, even fast by a castle where the king and the queen was; and at his arrival he sat and harped in his bed a merry lay, such one heard they never none in Ireland before that time.

And when it was told the king and the queen of such a knight that was such an harper, anon the king sent for him, and let search his wounds, and then asked him his name. Then he answered, I am of the country of Liones, and my name is Tramtrist, that thus was wounded in a battle as I fought for a lady’s right. So God me help, said King Anguish, ye shall have all the help in this land that ye may have here; but I let you wit, in Cornwall I had a great loss as ever had king, for there I lost the best knight of the world; his name was Marhaus, a full noble knight, and Knight of the Table Round; and there he told Sir Tristram wherefore Sir Marhaus was slain. Sir Tristram made semblant as he had been sorry, and better knew he how it was than the king.

<292>
CHAPTER IX

How Sir Tristram was put to the keeping of La Beale Isoud first for to be healed of his wound.

THEN the king for great favour made Tramtrist to be put in his daughter’s ward and keeping, because she was a noble surgeon. And when she had searched him she found in the bottom of his wound that therein was poison, and so she healed him within a while; and therefore Tramtrist cast great love to La Beale Isoud, for she was at that time the fairest maid and lady of the world. And there Tramtrist learned her to harp, and she began to have a great fantasy unto him. And at that time Sir Palamides, the Saracen, was in that country, and well cherished with the king and the queen. And every day Sir Palamides drew unto La Beale Isoud and proffered her many gifts, for he loved her passingly well. All that espied Tramtrist, and full well knew he Sir Palamides for a noble knight and a mighty man. And wit you well Sir Tramtrist had great despite at Sir Palamides, for La Beale Isoud told Tramtrist that Palamides was in will to be christened for her sake. Thus was there great envy betwixt Tramtrist and Sir Palamides.

Then it befell that King Anguish let cry a great jousts and a great tournament for a lady that was called the Lady of the Launds, and she was nigh cousin unto the king. And what man won her, three days after he should wed her and have all her lands. This cry was made in England, Wales, Scotland, and also in France and in Brittany. It befell upon a day La Beale Isoud came unto Sir Tramtrist, and told him of this tournament. He answered and said: Fair lady, I am but a feeble knight, and but late I had been dead had not your good ladyship been. Now, fair lady, what would ye I should do in this matter? well ye wot, my lady, that I may not joust. Ah, Tramtrist, said La Beale Isoud, why will ye not have ado at that tournament?<293> well I wot Sir Palamides shall be there, and to do what he may; and therefore Tramtrist, I pray you for to be there, for else Sir Palamides is like to win the degree. Madam, said Tramtrist, as for that, it may be so, for he is a proved knight, and I am but a young knight and late made; and the first battle that I did it mishapped me to be sore wounded as ye see. But an I wist ye would be my better lady, at that tournament I will be, so that ye will keep my counsel and let no creature have knowledge that I shall joust but yourself, and such as ye will to keep your counsel, my poor person shall I jeopard there for your sake, that, peradventure, Sir Palamides shall know when that I come. Thereto, said La Beale Isoud, do your best, and as I can, said La Beale Isoud, I shall purvey horse and armour for you at my device. As ye will so be it, said Sir Tramtrist, I will be at your commandment.

So at the day of jousts there came Sir Palamides with a black shield, and he overthrew many knights, that all the people had marvel of him. For he put to the worse Sir Gawaine, Gaheris, Agravaine, Bagdemagus, Kay, Dodinas le Savage, Sagramore le Desirous, Gumret le Petit, and Griflet le Fise de Dieu. All these the first day Sir Palamides struck down to the earth. And then all manner of knights were adread of Sir Palamides, and many called him the Knight with the Black Shield. So that day Sir Palamides had great worship.

Then came King Anguish unto Tramtrist, and asked him why he would not joust. Sir, he said, I was but late hurt, and as yet I dare not adventure me. Then came there the same squire that was sent from the king’s daughter of France unto Sir Tristram. And when he had espied Sir Tristram he fell flat to his feet. All that espied La Beale Isoud, what courtesy the squire made unto Sir Tristram. And therewithal suddenly Sir Tristram ran unto his squire, whose name was Hebes le Renoumes, and prayed him heartily in no wise to tell his name. Sir, said Hebes, I will not discover your name but if ye command me.

<294>
CHAPTER X

How Sir Tristram won the degree at a tournament in Ireland, and there made Palamides to bear no more harness in a year.

THEN Sir Tristram asked him what he did in those countries. Sir, he said, I came hither with Sir Gawaine for to be made knight, and if it please you, of your hands that I may be made knight. Await upon me as to-morn secretly, and in the field I shall make you a knight.

Then had La Beale Isoud great suspicion unto Tramtrist, that he was some man of worship proved, and therewith she comforted herself, and cast more love unto him than she had done to-fore. And so on the morn Sir Palamides made him ready to come into the field as he did the first day. And there he smote down the King with the Hundred Knights, and the King of Scots. Then had La Beale Isoud ordained and well arrayed Sir Tristram in white horse and harness. And right so she let put him out at a privy postern, and so he came into the field as it had been a bright angel. And anon Sir Palamides espied him, and therewith he feutred a spear unto Sir Tramtrist, and he again unto him. And there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Palamides unto the earth. And then there was a great noise of people: some said Sir Palamides had a fall, some said the Knight with the Black Shield had a fall. And wit you well La Beale Isoud was passing glad. And then Sir Gawaine and his fellows nine had marvel what knight it might be that had smitten down Sir Palamides. Then would there none joust with Tramtrist, but all that there were forsook him, most and least. Then Sir Tristram made Hebes a knight, and caused him to put himself forth, and did right well that day. So after Sir Hebes held him with Sir Tristram.

And when Sir Palamides had received this fall, wit ye well that he was sore ashamed, and as privily as he might <295>he withdrew him out of the field. All that espied Sir Tristram, and lightly he rode after Sir Palamides and overtook him, and bade him turn, for better he would assay him or ever he departed. Then Sir Palamides turned him, and either lashed at other with their swords. But at the first stroke Sir Tristram smote down Palamides, and gave him such a stroke upon the head that he fell to the earth. So then Tristram bade yield him, and do his commandment, or else he would slay him. When Sir Palamides beheld his countenance, he dread his buffets so, that he granted all his askings. Well said, said Sir Tristram, this shall be your charge. First, upon pain of your life that ye forsake my lady La Beale Isoud, and in no manner wise that ye draw not to her. Also this twelvemonth and a day that ye bear none armour nor none harness of war. Now promise me this, or here shalt thou die. Alas, said Palamides, for ever am I ashamed. Then he sware as Sir Tristram had commanded him. Then for despite and anger Sir Palamides cut off his harness, and threw them away.

And so Sir Tristram turned again to the castle where was La Beale Isoud; and by the way he met with a damosel that asked after Sir Launcelot, that won the Dolorous Guard worshipfully; and this damosel asked Sir Tristram what he was. For it was told her that it was he that smote down Sir Palamides, by whom the ten knights of King Arthur’s were smitten down. Then the damosel prayed Sir Tristram to tell her what he was, and whether that he were Sir Launcelot du Lake, for she deemed that there was no knight in the world might do such deeds of arms but if it were Launcelot. Fair damosel, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well that I am not Sir Launcelot, for I was never of such prowess, but in God is all that he may make me as good a knight as the good knight Sir Launcelot. Now, gentle knight, said she, put up thy visor; and when she beheld his visage she thought she saw never a better man’s visage, nor a better faring knight. And then when the damosel knew certainly that he was not Sir Launcelot, then she took her leave, and departed <296>from him. And then Sir Tristram rode privily unto the postern, where kept him La Beale Isoud, and there she made him good cheer, and thanked God of his good speed. So anon, within a while the king and the queen understood that it was Tramtrist that smote down Sir Palamides; then was he much made of, more than he was before.

CHAPTER XI

How the queen espied that Sir Tristram had slain her brother Sir Marhaus by his sword, and in what jeopardy he was.

THUS was Sir Tramtrist long there well cherished with the king and the queen, and namely with La Beale Isoud. So upon a day the queen and La Beale Isoud made a bain for Sir Tramtrist. And when he was in his bain the queen and Isoud, her daughter, roamed up and down in the chamber; and therewhiles Gouvernail and Hebes attended upon Tramtrist, and the queen beheld his sword thereas it lay upon his bed. And then by unhap the queen drew out his sword and beheld it a long while, and both they thought it a passing fair sword; but within a foot and an half of the point there was a great piece thereof out-broken of the edge. And when the queen espied that gap in the sword, she remembered her of a piece of a sword that was found in the brain-pan of Sir Marhaus, the good knight that was her brother. Alas then, said she unto her daughter, La Beale Isoud, this is the same traitor knight that slew my brother, thine eme. When Isoud heard her say so she was passing sore abashed, for passing well she loved Tramtrist, and full well she knew the cruelness of her mother the queen.

Anon therewithal the queen went unto her own chamber, and sought her coffer, and there she took out the piece or the sword that was pulled out of Sir Marhaus’ head after that he was dead. And then she ran with that piece of iron to the sword that lay upon the bed. And <297>when she put that piece of steel and iron unto the sword, it was as meet as it might be when it was new broken. And then the queen gripped that sword in her hand fiercely, and with all her might she ran straight upon Tramtrist where he sat in his bain, and there she had rived him through had not Sir Hebes gotten her in his arms, and pulled the sword from her, and else she had thrust him through.

Then when she was let of her evil will she ran to the King Anguish, her husband, and said on her knees: O my lord, here have ye in your house that traitor knight that slew my brother and your servant, that noble knight, Sir Marhaus. Who is that, said King Anguish, and where is he? Sir, she said, it is Sir Tramtrist, the same knight that my daughter healed. Alas, said the king, therefore am I right heavy, for he is a full noble knight as ever I saw in field. But I charge you, said the king to the queen, that ye have not ado with that knight, but let me deal with him.

Then the king went into the chamber unto Sir Tramtrist, and then was he gone unto his chamber, and the king found him all ready armed to mount upon his horse. When the king saw him all ready armed to go unto horseback, the king said: Nay, Tramtrist, it will not avail to compare thee against me; but thus much I shall do for my worship and for thy love; in so much as thou art within my court it were no worship for me to slay thee: therefore upon this condition I will give thee leave for to depart from this court in safety, so thou wilt tell me who was thy father, and what is thy name, and if thou slew Sir Marhaus, my brother.

CHAPTER XII

How Sir Tristram departed from the king and La Beale Isoud out of Ireland for to come into Cornwall.

SIR, said Tristram, now I shall tell you all the truth: my father’s name is Sir Meliodas, King of Liones, and my <298>mother hight Elizabeth, that was sister unto King Mark of Cornwall; and my mother died of me in the forest, and because thereof she commanded, or she died, that when I were christened they should christen me Tristram; and because I would not be known in this country I turned my name and let me call Tramtrist; and for the truage of Cornwall I fought for my eme’s sake, and for the right of Cornwall that ye had posseded many years. And wit ye well, said Tristram unto the king, I did the battle for the love of mine uncle, King Mark, and for the love of the country of Cornwall, and for to increase mine honour; for that same day that I fought with Sir Marhaus I was made knight, and never or then did I battle with no knight, and from me he went alive, and left his shield and his sword behind.

So God me help, said the king, I may not say but ye did as a knight should, and it was your part to do for your quarrel, and to increase your worship as a knight should; howbeit I may not maintain you in this country with my worship, unless that I should displease my barons, and my wife and her kin. Sir, said Tristram, I thank you of your good lordship that I have had with you here, and the great goodness my lady, your daughter, hath shewed me, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, it may so happen that ye shall win more by my life than by my death, for in the parts of England it may happen I may do you service at some season, that ye shall be glad that ever ye shewed me your good lordship. With more I promise you as I am true knight, that in all places I shall be my lady your daughter’s servant and knight in right and in wrong, and I shall never fail her, to do as much as a knight may do. Also I beseech your good grace that I may take my leave at my lady, your daughter, and at all the barons and knights. I will well, said the king.

Then Sir Tristram went unto La Beale Isoud and took his leave of her. And then he told her all, what he was, and how he had changed his name because he would not be known, and how a lady told him that he should never be whole till he came into this country where the <299>poison was made, wherethrough I was near my death had not your ladyship been. O gentle knight, said La Beale
Isoud, full woe am I of thy departing, for I saw never man that I owed so good will to. And therewithal she wept heartily. Madam, said Sir Tristram, ye shall understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, gotten of King Meliodas, and born of his queen. And I promise you faithfully that I shall be all the days of my life your knight. Gramercy, said La Beale Isoud, and I promise you there-against that I shall not be married this seven years but by your assent; and to whom that ye will I shall be married to him will I have, and he will have me if ye will consent.

And then Sir Tristram gave her a ring, and she gave him another; and therewith he departed from her, leaving her making great dole and lamentation; and he straight went unto the court among all the barons, and there he took his leave at most and least, and openly he said among them all: Fair lords, now it is so that I must depart: if there be any man here that I have offended unto, or that any man be with me grieved, let complain him here afore me or that ever I depart, and I shall amend it unto my power. And if there be any that will proffer me wrong, or say of me wrong or shame behind my back, say it now or never, and here is my body to make it good, body against body. And all they stood still, there was not one that would say one word; yet were there some knights that were of the queen’s blood, and of Sir Marhaus’ blood, but they would not meddle with him.

CHAPTER XIII

How Sir Tristram and King Mark hurted each other for the love of a knight’s wife.

SO Sir Tristram departed, and took the sea, and with good wind he arrived up at Tintagil in Cornwall; and <300>when King Mark was whole in his prosperity there came tidings that Sir Tristram was arrived, and whole of his wounds: thereof was King Mark passing glad, and so were all the barons; and when he saw his time he rode unto his father, King Meliodas, and there he had all the cheer that the king and the queen could make him. And then largely King Meliodas and his queen departed of their lands and goods to Sir Tristram.

Then by the license of King Meliodas, his father, he returned again unto the court of King Mark, and there he lived in great joy long time, until at the last there befell a jealousy and an unkindness betwixt King Mark and Sir Tristram, for they loved both one lady. And she was an earl’s wife that hight Sir Segwarides. And this lady loved Sir Tristram passingly well. And he loved her again, for she was a passing fair lady, and that espied Sir Tristram well. Then King Mark understood that and was jealous, for King Mark loved her passingly well.

So it fell upon a day this lady sent a dwarf unto Sir Tristram, and bade him, as he loved her, that he would be with her the night next following. Also she charged you that ye come not to her but if ye be well armed, for her lover was called a good knight. Sir Tristram answered to the dwarf: Recommend me unto my lady, and tell her I will not fail but I will be with her the term that she hath set me. And with this answer the dwarf departed. And King Mark espied that the dwarf was with Sir Tristram upon message from Segwarides’ wife; then King Mark sent for the dwarf, and when he was come he made the dwarf by force to tell him all, why and wherefore that he came on message from Sir Tristram. Now, said King Mark, go where thou wilt, and upon pain of death that thou say no word that thou spakest with me; so the dwarf departed from the king.

And that same night that the steven was set betwixt Segwarides’ wife and Sir Tristram, King Mark armed him, and made him ready, and took two knights of his counsel with him; and so he rode afore for to abide by the way for to wait upon Sir Tristram. And as Sir Tristram came <301>riding upon his way with his spear in his hand, King Mark came hurtling upon him with his two knights suddenly. And all three smote him with their spears, and King Mark hurt Sir Tristram on the breast right sore. And then Sir Tristram feutred his spear, and smote his uncle, King Mark, so sore, that he rashed him to the earth, and bruised him that he lay still in a swoon, and long it was or ever he might wield himself. And then he ran to the one knight, and eft to the other, and smote them to the cold earth, that they lay still. And therewithal Sir Tristram rode forth sore wounded to the lady, and found her abiding him at a postern.

CHAPTER XIV

How Sir Tristram lay with the lady, and how her husband fought with Sir Tristram.

AND there she welcomed him fair, and either halsed other in arms, and so she let put up his horse in the best wise, and then she unarmed him. And so they supped lightly, and went to bed with great joy and pleasaunce; and so in his raging he took no keep of his green wound that King Mark had given him. And so Sir Tristram be-bled both the over sheet and the nether, and pillows, and head sheet. And within a while there came one afore, that warned her that her lord was near-hand within a bow-draught. So she made Sir Tristram to arise, and so he armed him, and took his horse, and so departed. By then was come Segwarides, her lord, and when he found her bed troubled and broken, and went near and beheld it by candle light, then he saw that there had lain a wounded knight. Ah, false traitress, then he said, why hast thou betrayed me? And therewithal he swang out a sword, and said: But if thou tell me who hath been here, here thou shalt die. Ah, my lord, mercy, said the lady, and held up her hands, saying: Slay me not, and I shall tell you all who hath <302>been here. Tell anon, said Segwarides, to me all the truth. Anon for dread she said: Here was Sir Tristram with me, and by the way as he came to me ward, he was sore wounded. Ah, false traitress, said Segwarides, where is he become? Sir, she said, he is armed, and departed on horseback, not yet hence half a mile. Ye say well, said Segwarides.

Then he armed him lightly, and gat his horse, and rode after Sir Tristram that rode straightway unto Tintagil. And within a while he overtook Sir Tristram, and then he bade him, Turn, false traitor knight. And Sir Tristram anon turned him against him. And therewithal Segwarides smote Sir Tristram with a spear that it all to-brast; and then he swang out his sword and smote fast at Sir Tristram. Sir knight, said Sir Tristram, I counsel you that ye smite no more, howbeit for the wrongs that I have done you I will forbear you as long as I may. Nay, said Segwarides, that shall not be, for either thou shalt die or I.

Then Sir Tristram drew out his sword, and hurtled his horse unto him fiercely, and through the waist of the body he smote Sir Segwarides that he fell to the earth in a swoon. And so Sir Tristram departed and left him there. And so he rode unto Tintagil and took his lodging secretly, for he would not be known that he was hurt. Also Sir Segwarides’ men rode after their master, whom they found lying in the field sore wounded, and brought him home on his shield, and there he lay long or that he were whole, but at the last he recovered. Also King Mark would not be aknown of that Sir Tristram and he had met that night. And as for Sir Tristram, he knew not that King Mark had met with him. And so the king askance came to Sir Tristram, to comfort him as he lay sick in his bed. But as long as King Mark lived he loved never Sir Tristram after that; though there was fair speech, love was there none. And thus it passed many weeks and days, and all was forgiven and forgotten; for Sir Segwarides durst not have ado with Sir Tristram, because of his noble prowess, and also because he was <303>nephew unto King Mark; therefore he let it overslip: for he that hath a privy hurt is loath to have a shame outward.

CHAPTER XV

How Sir Bleoberis demanded the fairest lady in King Mark’s court, whom he took away, and how he was fought with.

THEN it befell upon a day that the good knight Bleoberis de Ganis, brother to Blamore de Ganis, and nigh cousin unto the good knight Sir Launcelot du Lake, this Bleoberis came unto the court of King Mark, and there he asked of King Mark a boon, to give him what gift that he would ask in his court. When the king heard him ask so, he marvelled of his asking, but because he was a knight of the Round Table, and of a great renown, King Mark granted him his whole asking. Then, said Sir Bleoberis, I will have the fairest lady in your court that me list to choose. I may not say nay, said King Mark; now choose at your adventure. And so Sir Bleoberis did choose Sir Segwarides’ wife, and took her by the hand, and so went his way with her; and so he took his horse and gart set her behind his squire, and rode upon his way.

When Sir Segwarides heard tell that his lady was gone with a knight of King Arthur’s court, then he armed him and rode after that knight for to rescue his lady. So when Bleoberis was gone with this lady, King Mark and all the court was wroth that she was away. Then were there certain ladies that knew that there were great love between Sir Tristram and her, and also that lady loved Sir Tristram above all other knights. Then there was one lady that rebuked Sir Tristram in the horriblest wise, and called him coward knight, that he would for shame of his knighthood see a lady so shamefully be taken away from his uncle’s court. But she meant that either of them had loved other with entire heart. But Sir Tristram <304>answered her thus: Fair lady, it is not my part to have ado in such matters while her lord and husband is present here; and if it had been that her lord had not been here in this court, then for the worship of this court peradventure I would have been her champion, and if so be Sir Segwarides speed not well, it may happen that I will speak with that good knight or ever he pass from this country.

Then within a while came one of Sir Segwarides’ squires, and told in the court that Sir Segwarides was beaten sore and wounded to the point of death; as he would have rescued his lady Sir Bleoberis overthrew him and sore hath wounded him. Then was King Mark heavy thereof, and all the court. When Sir Tristram heard of this he was ashamed and sore grieved; and then was he soon armed and on horseback, and Gouvernail, his servant, bare his shield and spear. And so as Sir Tristram rode fast he met with Sir Andred his cousin, that by the commandment of King Mark was sent to bring forth, an ever it lay in his power, two knights of Arthur’s court, that rode by the country to seek their adventures. When Sir Tristram saw Sir Andred he asked him what tidings. So God me help, said Sir Andred, there was never worse with me, for here by the commandment of King Mark I was sent to fetch two knights of King Arthur’s court, and that one beat me and wounded me, and set nought by my message. Fair cousin, said Sir Tristram, ride on your way, and if I may meet them it may happen I shall revenge you. So Sir Andred rode into Cornwall, and Sir Tristram rode after the two knights, the which one hight Sagramore le Desirous, and the other hight Dodinas le Savage.

<305>
CHAPTER XVI

How Sir Tristram fought with two knights of the Round Table.

THEN within a while Sir Tristram saw them afore him, two likely knights. Sir, said Gouvernail unto his master, Sir, I would counsel you not to have ado with them, for they be two proved knights of Arthur’s court. As for that, said Sir Tristram, have ye no doubt but I will have ado with them to increase my worship, for it is many day sithen I did any deeds of arms. Do as ye list, said Gouvernail. And therewithal anon Sir Tristram asked them from whence they came, and whither they would, and what they did in those marches. Sir Sagramore looked upon Sir Tristram, and had scorn of his words, and asked him again, Fair knight, be ye a knight of Cornwall? Whereby ask ye it? said Sir Tristram. For it is seldom seen, said Sir Sagramore, that ye Cornish knights be valiant men of arms; for within these two hours there met us one of your Cornish knights, and great words he spake, and anon with little might he was laid to the earth. And, as I trow, said Sir Sagramore, ye shall have the same handsel that he had. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it may so happen that I may better withstand than he did, and whether ye will or nill I will have ado with you, because he was my cousin that ye beat. And therefore here do your best, and wit ye well but if ye quit you the better here upon this ground, one knight of Cornwall shall beat you both.

When Sir Dodinas le Savage heard him say so he gat a spear in his hand, and said, Sir knight, keep well thyself: And then they departed and came together as it had been thunder. And Sir Dodinas’ spear brast in-sunder, but Sir Tristram smote him with a more might, that he smote him clean over the horse-croup, that nigh he had broken his neck. When Sir Sagramore saw his fellow have such a <306>fall he marvelled what knight he might be. And he dressed his spear with all his might, and Sir Tristram against him, and they came together as the thunder, and there Sir Tristram smote Sir Sagramore a strong buffet, that he bare his horse and him to the earth, and in the falling he brake his thigh.

When this was done Sir Tristram asked them: Fair knights, will ye any more? Be there no bigger knights in the court of King Arthur? it is to you shame to say of us knights of Cornwall dishonour, for it may happen a Cornish knight may match you. That is truth, said Sir Sagramore, that have we well proved; but I require thee, said Sir Sagramore, tell us your right name, by the faith and troth that ye owe to the high order of knighthood. Ye charge me with a great thing, said Sir Tristram, and sithen ye list to wit it, ye shall know and understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, King Meliodas’ son, and nephew unto King Mark. Then were they two knights fain that they had met with Tristram, and so they prayed him to abide in their fellowship. Nay, said Sir Tristram, for I must have ado with one of your fellows, his name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis. God speed you well, said Sir Sagramore and Dodinas. Sir Tristram departed and rode onward on his way. And then was he ware before him in a valley where rode Sir Bleoberis, with Sir Segwarides’ lady, that rode behind his squire upon a palfrey.

CHAPTER XVII

How Sir Tristram fought with Sir Bleoberis for a lady, and how the lady was put to choice to whom she would go.

THEN Sir Tristram rode more than a pace until that he had overtaken him. Then spake Sir Tristram: Abide, he said, Knight of Arthur’s court, bring again that lady, or deliver her to me. I will do neither, said Bleoberis, for I dread no Cornish knight so sore that me list to deliver her. <307>Why, said Sir Tristram, may not a Cornish knight do as well as another knight? this same day two knights of your court within this three mile met with me, and or ever we departed they found a Cornish knight good enough for them both. What were their names? said Bleoberis. They told me, said Sir Tristram, that the one of them hight Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and the other hight Dodinas le Savage. Ah, said Sir Bleoberis, have ye met with them? so God me help, they were two good knights and men of great worship, and if ye have beat them both ye must needs be a good knight; but if it so be ye have beat them both, yet shall ye not fear me, but ye shall beat me or ever ye have this lady. Then defend you, said Sir Tristram. So they departed and came together like thunder, and either bare other down, horse and all, to the earth.

Then they avoided their horses, and lashed together eagerly with swords, and mightily, now tracing and traversing on the right hand and on the left hand more than two hours. And sometime they rushed together with such a might that they lay both grovelling on the ground. Then Sir Bleoberis de Ganis stert aback, and said thus: Now, gentle good knight, a while hold your hands, and let us speak together. Say what ye will, said Tristram, and I will answer you. Sir, said Bleoberis, I would wit of whence ye be, and of whom ye be come, and what is your name? So God me help, said Sir Tristram, I fear not to tell you my name. Wit ye well I am King Meliodas’ son, and my mother is King Mark’s sister, and my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, and King Mark is mine uncle. Truly, said Bleoberis, I am right glad of you, for ye are he that slew Marhaus the knight, hand for hand in an island, for the truage of Cornwall; also ye overcame Sir Palamides the good knight, at a tournament in an island, where ye beat Sir Gawaine and his nine fellows. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well that I am the same knight; now I have told you my name, tell me yours with good will. Wit ye well that my name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis, and my brother hight Sir Blamore de Ganis, that is called a <308>good knight, and we be sister’s children unto my lord Sir Launcelot du Lake, that we call one of the best knights of the world. That is truth, said Sir Tristram, Sir Launcelot is called peerless of courtesy and of knighthood; and for his sake, said Sir Tristram, I will not with my good will fight no more with you, for the great love I have to Sir Launcelot du Lake. In good faith, said Bleoberis, as for me I will be loath to fight with you; but sithen ye follow me here to have this lady, I shall proffer you kindness, courtesy, and gentleness right here upon this ground. This lady shall be betwixt us both, and to whom that she will go, let him have her in peace. I will well, said Tristram, for, as I deem, she will leave you and come to me. Ye shall prove it anon, said Bleoberis.

CHAPTER XVIII

How the lady forsook Sir Tristram and abode with Sir Bleoberis, and how she desired to go to her husband.

So when she was set betwixt them both she said these words unto Sir Tristram: Wit ye well, Sir Tristram de Liones, that but late thou wast the man in the world that I most loved and trusted, and I weened thou hadst loved me again above all ladies; but when thou sawest this knight lead me away thou madest no cheer to rescue me, but suffered my lord Segwarides ride after me; but until that time I weened thou haddest loved me, and therefore now I will leave thee, and never love thee more. And therewithal she went unto Sir Bleoberis.

When Sir Tristram saw her do so he was wonderly wroth with that lady, and ashamed to come to the court. Sir Tristram, said Sir Bleoberis, ye are in the default, for I hear by this lady’s words she before this day trusted you above all earthly knights, and, as she saith, ye have deceived her, therefore wit ye well, there may no man hold that will away; and rather than ye should be heartily <309>displeased with me I would ye had her, an she would abide with you. Nay, said the lady, so God me help I will never go with him; for he that I loved most I weened he had loved me. And therefore, Sir Tristram, she said, ride as thou came, for though thou haddest overcome this knight, as ye was likely, with thee never would I have gone. And I shall pray this knight so fair of his knighthood, that or ever he pass this country, that he will lead me to the abbey where my lord Sir Segwarides lieth. So God me help, said Bleoberis, I let you wit, good knight Sir Tristram, because King Mark gave me the choice of a gift in this court, and so this lady liked me best–notwithstanding, she is wedded and hath a lord, and I have fulfilled my quest, she shall be sent unto her husband again, and in especial most for your sake, Sir Tristram; and if she would go with you I would ye had her. I thank you, said Sir Tristram, but for her love I shall beware what manner a lady I shall love or trust; for had her lord, Sir Segwarides, been away from the court, I should have been the first that should have followed you; but sithen that ye have refused me, as I am true knight I shall her know passingly well that I shall love or trust. And so they took their leave one from the other and departed.

And so Sir Tristram rode unto Tintagil, and Sir Bleoberis rode unto the abbey where Sir Segwarides lay sore wounded, and there he delivered his lady, and departed as a noble knight; and when Sir Segwarides saw his lady, he was greatly comforted; and then she told him that Sir Tristram had done great battle with Sir Bleoberis, and caused him to bring her again. These words pleased Sir Segwarides right well, that Sir Tristram would do so much; and so that lady told all the battle unto King Mark betwixt Sir Tristram and Sir Bleoberis.

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CHAPTER XIX

How King Mark sent Sir Tristram for La Beale Isoud toward Ireland, and how by fortune he arrived into England.

THEN when this was done King Mark cast always in his heart how he might destroy Sir Tristram. And then he imagined in himself to send Sir Tristram into Ireland for La Beale Isoud. For Sir Tristram had so praised her beauty and her goodness that King Mark said that he would wed her, whereupon he prayed Sir Tristram to take his way into Ireland for him on message. And all this was done to the intent to slay Sir Tristram. Notwithstanding, Sir Tristram would not refuse the message for no danger nor peril that might fall, for the pleasure of his uncle, but to go he made him ready in the most goodliest wise that might be devised. For Sir Tristram took with him the most goodliest knights that he might find in the court; and they were arrayed, after the guise that was then used, in the goodliest manner. So Sir Tristram departed and took the sea with all his fellowship. And anon, as he was in the broad sea a tempest took him and his fellowship, and drove them back into the coast of England; and there they arrived fast by Camelot, and full fain they were to take the land.

And when they were landed Sir Tristram set up his pavilion upon the land of Camelot, and there he let hang his shield upon the pavilion. And that same day came two knights of King Arthur’s, that one was Sir Ector de Maris, and Sir Morganor. And they touched the shield, and bade him come out of the pavilion for to joust, an he would joust. Ye shall be answered, said Sir Tristram, an ye will tarry a little while. So he made him ready, and first he smote down Sir Ector de Maris, and after he smote down Sir Morganor, all with one spear, and sore bruised them. And when they lay upon the earth they asked Sir <311>Tristram what he was, and of what country he was knight. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well that I am of Cornwall. Alas, said Sir Ector, now am I ashamed that ever any Cornish knight should overcome me. And then for despite Sir Ector put off his armour from him, and went on foot, and would not ride.

CHAPTER XX

How King Anguish of Ireland was summoned to come to King Arthur’s court for treason.

THEN it fell that Sir Bleoberis and Sir Blamore de Ganis, that were brethren, they had summoned the King Anguish of Ireland for to come to Arthur’s court upon pain of forfeiture of King Arthur’s good grace. And if the King of Ireland came not in, at the day assigned and set, the king should lose his lands. So it happened that at the day assigned, King Arthur neither Sir Launcelot might not be there for to give the judgment, for King Arthur was with Sir Launcelot at the Castle Joyous Garde. And so King Arthur assigned King Carados and the King of Scots to be there that day as judges. So when the kings were at Camelot King Anguish of Ireland was come to know his accusers. Then was there Sir Blamore de Ganis, and appealed the King of Ireland of treason, that he had slain a cousin of his in his court in Ireland by treason. The king was sore abashed of his accusation, for-why he was come at the summons of King Arthur, and or he came at Camelot he wist not wherefore he was sent after. And when the king heard Sir Blamore say his will, he understood well there was none other remedy but for to answer him knightly; for the custom was such in those days, that an any man were appealed of any treason or murder he should fight body for body, or else to find another knight for him. And all manner of murders in those days