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and by she smiled very pitifully and said: "Ah, Tristram, I believe I am
more sorry for thee than I am for myself."

"Lady," said Tristram, "I would God that I lay here dead before you. But I
am not able to die, but am altogether strong and hale - only very sorrowful
at heart." And therewith he turned and left that place. Only when he had
come to a place where he was entirely by himself with no one but God to see
him, he hid his face in his hands and wept as though his heart were
altogether broken. So it was that Sir Tristram fulfilled his pledge.

[Sidenote: Belle Isoult and Sir Tristram depart for Cornwall] After that,
King Angus furnished a very noble and beautiful ship with sails of satin
embroidered with figures of divers sorts, and he fitted the ship in all
ways such as became the daughter of a king and the wife of a king to embark
upon. And that ship was intended for the Lady Belle Isoult and Sir Tristram
in which to sail to the court of Cornwall.

And it was ordained that a certain very excellent lady of the court of the
Queen, who had been attendant upon the Lady Belle Isoult when she was a
little child and who had been with her in attendance ever since that time,
should accompany her to the Court of Cornwall. And the name of this lady
was the Lady Bragwaine.

[Sidenote: The Queen of Ireland provides a love potion for King Mark and
Belle Isoult] Now the day before the Lady Belle Isoult was to take her
departure from Ireland, the Queen of Ireland came to the Lady Bragwaine and
she bare with her a flagon of gold very curiously wrought. And the Queen
said: "Bragwaine, here is a flask of a very singular and precious sort of
an elixir; for that liquor it is of such a sort that when a man and a woman
drink of it together, they two shall thereafter never cease to love one
another as long as they shall have life. Take this flask, and when you have
come to Cornwall, and when the Lady Belle Isoult and King Mark have been
wedded, then give them both to drink of this elixir; for after they have
drunk they shall forget all else in the world and cleave only to one
another. This I give you to the intent that the Lady Isoult may forget Sir
Tristram, and may become happy in the love of King Mark whom she shall
marry."

Soon thereafter the Lady Belle Isoult took leave of the King and the Queen
and entered into that ship that had been prepared for her. Thus, with Sir
Tristram and with Dame Bragwaine and with their attendants, she set sail
for Cornwall.

Now it happened that, whilst they were upon that voyage, the Lady Bragwaine
came of a sudden into the cabin of that ship and there she beheld the Lady
Belle Isoult lying upon a couch weeping. Dame Bragwaine said, "Lady, why do
you weep?" Whereunto the Lady Belle Isoult made reply: "Alas, Bragwaine,
how can I help but weep seeing that I am to be parted from the man I love
and am to be married unto another whom I do not love?"

Dame Bragwaine laughed and said: "Do you then weep for that? See! Here is a
wonderful flask as it were of precious wine. When you are married to the
King of Cornwall, then you are to quaff of it and he is to quaff of it and
after that you will forget all others in the world and cleave only to one
another. For it is a wonderful love potion and it hath been given to me to
use in that very way. Wherefore dry your eyes, for happiness may still lay
before you."

When the Lady Belle Isoult heard these words she wept no more but smiled
very strangely. Then by and by she arose and went away to where Sir
Tristram was.

When she came to him she said, "Tristram, will you drink of a draught with
me?" He said, "Yea, lady, though it were death in the draught."

She said, "There is not death in it, but something very different," and
thereupon she went away into the cabin where that chalice aforesaid was
hidden. And at that time Dame Bragwaine was not there.

Then the Lady Belle Isoult took the flagon from where it was hidden, and
poured the elixir out into a chalice of gold and crystal and she brought it
to where Sir Tristram was. When she had come there, she said, "Tristram, I
drink to thee," and therewith she drank the half of the elixir there Was in
the chalice. Then she said, "Now drink thou the rest to me."

Upon that Sir Tristram took the chalice and lifted it to his lips, and
drank all the rest of that liquor that was therein.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram and Belle Isoult drink the love potion] Now
immediately Sir Tristram had drunk that elixir he felt it run like fire
through every vein in his body. Thereupon he cried out, "Lady, what is this
you have given me to drink?" She said: "Tristram, that was a powerful love
potion intended for King Mark and me. But now thou and I have drunk of it
and never henceforth can either of us love anybody in all of the world but
the other."

Then Sir Tristram catched her into his arms and he cried out: "Isoult!
Isoult! what hast thou done to us both? Was it not enough that I should
have been unhappy but that thou shouldst have chosen to be unhappy also?"

Thereat the Lady Belle Isoult both wept and smiled, looking up into Sir
Tristram's face, and she said: "Nay, Tristram; I would rather be sorry with
thee than happy with another." He said, "Isoult, there is much woe in this
for us both." She said, "I care not, so I may share it with thee."

Thereupon Sir Tristram kissed her thrice upon the face, and then
immediately put her away from him and he left her and went away by himself
in much agony of spirit.

Thereafter they reached the kingdom of Cornwall in safety, and the Lady
Belle Isoult and King Mark were wedded with much pomp and ceremony and
after that there was much feasting and every appearance of rejoicing.




PART II


The Story of Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorack

And now shall be told the story of Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorack of Gales,
how they became brothers-in-arms; how Sir Lamorack took offence at Sir
Tristram, and how they became reconciled again.

But first of all you must know that Sir Lamorack of Gales was deemed to be
one of the greatest knights alive. For it was said that there were three
knights that were the greatest in all of the world, and those three were
Sir Launcelot of the Lake, Sir Tristram of Lyonesse, and Sir Lamorack of
Gales.

Sir Lamorack was the son of King Pellinore, of whom it hath already been
told in the Book of King Arthur that he was the greatest knight during that
time; and he was the brother of Sir Percival, of whom it is to be told
hereinafter that he was the peer even of Sir Launcelot of the Lake. So
because that house produced three such great and famous knights, the house
of King Pellinore hath always been singularly renowned in all histories of
chivalry. For indeed there was not any house so famous as it saving only
the house of King Ban of Benwick, which brought forth those two peerless
knights beyond all compare: - to wit, Sir Launcelot of the Lake and Sir
Galahad, who achieved the quest of the San Grail.

So I hope that you may find pleasure in the story of how Sir Tristram and
Sir Lamorack became acquainted, and of how they became brothers-in-arms.

[Illustration: Sir Lamorack of Gales]




Chapter First


_How Sir Lamorack of Gales came to Tintagel and how he and Sir Tristram
sware friendship together in the forest._

After these happenings, Sir Tristram abode for awhile at the Court of
Cornwall, for so King Mark commanded him to do. And he sought in every way
to distract his mind from his sorrows by deeds of prowess. So during this
time he performed several adventures of which there is not now space to
tell you. But these adventures won such credit to his knighthood that all
the world talked of his greatness.

And ever as he grew more and more famous, King Mark hated him more and
more. For he could not bear to see Sir Tristram so noble and so sorrowful
with love of the Lady Belle Isoult.

Also Sir Tristram spent a great deal of time at chase with hawk and hound;
for he hoped by means also of such sports to drive away, in some measure,
his grief for the loss of Belle Isoult.

Now the season whereof this chapter speaketh was in the autumn of the year,
what time all the earth is glorious with the brown and gold of the
woodlands. For anon, when the wind would blow, then the leaves would fall
down from the trees like showers of gold so that everywhere they lay heaped
like flakes of gold upon the russet sward, rustling dry and warm beneath
the feet, and carpeting all the world with splendor. And the deep blue sky
overhead was heaped full of white, slow-moving clouds, and everywhere the
warm air was fragrant with the perfume of the forest, and at every strong
breeze the nuts would fall pattering down upon the ground like hailstones.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram rides ahunting] And because the world was so
beautiful and so lusty, Sir Tristram took great pleasure in life in spite
of that trouble that lay upon him. So he and his court rode very joyfully
amid the trees and thickets, making the woodlands merry with the music of
winding horns and loud-calling voices and with the baying of hounds
sounding like sweet tolling bells in the remoter aisles of the forest
spaces.

Thus Sir Tristram made sport all one morning, in such an autumn season, and
when noon had come he found himself to be anhungered. So he gave orders to
those who were in attendance upon him that food should be spread at a
certain open space in the forest; and therewith, in accordance with those
orders, they in attendance immediately opened sundry hampers of wicker, and
therefrom brought forth a noble pasty of venison, and manchets of bread and
nuts and apples and several flasks and flagons of noble wine of France and
the Rhine countries. This abundance of good things they set upon a cloth as
white as snow which they had laid out upon the ground.

Now just as Sir Tristram was about to seat himself at this goodly feast he
beheld amid the thin yellow foliage that there rode through a forest path
not far away a very noble-seeming knight clad all in shining armor and with
vestments and trappings of scarlet so that he shone like a flame of fire in
the woodlands.

Then Sir Tristram said to those who stood near him, "Know ye who is yonder
knight who rides alone?" They say, "No, Lord, we know him not." Sir
Tristram said, "Go and bid that knight of his courtesy that he come hither
and eat with me."

So three or four esquires ran to where that knight was riding, and in a
little they came attending him to where Sir Tristram was, and Sir Tristram
went to meet him.

Then Sir Tristram said: "Sir Knight, I pray you for to tell me your name
and degree, for it seems to me that you are someone very high in order of
knighthood."

[Sidenote: Sir Lamorack meets Sir Tristam] "Messire," quoth the other, "I
shall be very glad to tell you my name if so be you will do the like
courtesy unto me. I am Sir Lamorack of Gales, and I am son of the late King
Pellinore, who was in his days held to be the foremost knight in this
realm. I come to these parts seeking Sir Tristram of Lyonesse, of whose
fame I hear told in every court of chivalry whither I go. For I have never
beheld Sir Tristram, and I have a great desire to do so."

"Well," quoth Sir Tristram, "meseems I should be greatly honored that you
should take so much trouble for nothing else than that; for lo! I am that
very Sir Tristram of Lyonesse whom you seek."

Then Sir Lamorack immediately leaped down from his war-horse and putting up
the umbril of his helmet, he came to Sir Tristram and took him by the hand
and kissed him upon the cheek. And Sir Tristram kissed Sir Lamorack again,
and each made great joy of the other.

After that, Sir Lamorack, with the aid of these esquires attendant upon Sir
Tristram, put aside his armor, and bathed his face and neck and hands in a
cold forest brook, as clear as crystal, that came brawling down out of the
woodlands. Therewith, being greatly refreshed he and Sir Tristram sat down
to that bountiful feast together, and ate and drank with great joy and
content of spirit. And whiles they ate each made inquiry of the other what
he did, and each told the other many things concerning the goodly
adventures that had befallen him.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram sings to Sir Lamorack] And after they were through
eating and drinking, Sir Tristram took his harp in hand and sang several
excellent ballads and rondels which he had made in honor of Belle Isoult,
and Sir Lamorack listened and made great applause at each song that Sir
Tristram sang. And so each knight loved the other more and more the longer
they sat together.

Then, after a while, Sir Tristram said: "Dear friend, let us swear
brotherhood to one another, for I find that my heart goeth out to thee with
a wonderful strength."

"Ha, Tristram," said Sir Lamorack, "I would rather live in brotherhood with
thee than with any man whom I know, for I find that the longer I am with
thee, the greater and the stronger my love groweth for thee."

Then Sir Tristram drew from his finger a very splendid ring (for the ring
held an emerald carved into the likeness of the head of a beautiful woman,
and that emerald was set into the gold of the ring) and Sir Tristram said:
"Give me that ring upon thy finger, O Lamorack! and take thou this ring in
its stead; so we shall have confirmed our brotherhood to one another."

Then Sir Lamorack did very joyfully as Sir Tristram bade him, and he took
the ring that Sir Tristram gave him and kissed it and put it upon his
finger; and Sir Tristram kissed the ring that Sir Lamorack gave him and put
it upon his finger.

Thus they confirmed brotherhood with one another that day as they sat
together in the forest at feast, with the golden leaves falling about them.
And so they sat together all that afternoon and until the sun began to hang
low in the west; after that, they arose and took horse, and rode away
together toward Tintagel in great pleasure of companionship.

[Sidenote: Sir Lamorack is honored at Tintagel] Now all the court at
Tintagel was greatly rejoiced at the presence of so famous a knight as Sir
Lamorack of Gales; so there was great celebration upon that account, and
everybody did the most that he was able to give pleasure to Sir Lamorack.
And during the time that Sir Lamorack was at Tintagel there were several
joustings held in his honor, and in all these assays at arms Sir Lamorack
himself took part and overthrew everyone who came against him, so that he
approved himself to be so wonderful a champion that all men who beheld his
performance exclaimed with astonishment at his prowess.

But from all these affairs at arms Sir Tristram held himself aloof, and
would not take part in them. For he took such pleasure in Sir Lamorack's
glory that he would not do anything that might imperil the credit that his
friend thus gained by his prowess. For though Sir Tristram dearly loved
such affairs, he would ever say to himself: "Perhaps if I should enter the
lists against my friend it might be my mishap to overthrow him and then his
glory would be forfeited unto me."

[Sidenote: Sir Lamorack does famous battle] Now upon a certain time there
was held a great day of jousting in honor of Sir Lamorack, and in that
affair at arms twenty of the best knights, both of Cornwall and the
countries circumadjacent, took the field to hold it against all comers. Of
these knights, several were well-known champions, so that they maintained
the field for a long while, to the great credit both of themselves and of
Cornwall. But some while after the prime of day, there came Sir Lamorack
into that field, and, the day being cool and fresh, he was filled with a
wonderful strength and spirit of battle. So he challenged first one of
those Cornish champions and then another, and in all such challenges he was
successful, so that he overthrew of those knights, the one after the other,
fifteen men, some of whom were sorely hurt in the encounter. Upon this, the
other five of those champions, beholding the prowess and strength and skill
of Sir Lamorack said to one another: "Why should we venture against this
man? Of a verity, this knight is no mere man, but a demon of strength and
skill. Wherefore no man may hope to stand against him in an assault of
arms; for lo! if he doth but touch a man with his lance that man
straightway falleth from his saddle." So they withdrew themselves from that
encounter and would not have to do with Sir Lamorack.

Now at that time Sir Tristram was sitting with the court of the King, and
not far from the Lady Belle Isoult, overlooking the meadow of battle.

To him King Mark said: "Messire, why do you take no part against this
knight? Is it that you fear him?"

To this Sir Tristram replied with great calmness: "Nay, I fear not him nor
any man alive, and that you know, Lord, better than anyone in all of the
world."

"I am glad to hear of your courage and fearlessness," quoth King Mark, "for
meseems it is a great shame to all of us that this gentleman, who is a
stranger amongst us, should win so much credit to the disadvantage of all
the knights of Cornwall. Now, as you say you have no fear of him, I pray
you go down into the field and do battle with him in our behalf." So said
King Mark, for he thought to himself: "Perhaps Sir Lamorack may overthrow
Sir Tristram, and so bring him into disrepute with those who praise him so
greatly."

But Sir Tristram said: "No; I will not go down to battle against Sir
Lamorack this day whatever I may do another day. For I have sworn
brotherhood to that noble and gentle champion, and it would ill beseem me
to assault him now, when he is weary and short of breath from this great
battle which he hath done to-day against such odds. For if I should
overthrow him now, it would bring great shame upon him. Some other day and
in some other place I may assay him in friendliness, with honor and credit
both to myself and him."

[Sidenote: King Mark commands Sir Tristram to do battle] "Well," said King
Mark, "as for that, I do not choose to wait. Nor am I pleased that you
should sit by and suffer this knight to carry away all the credit of arms
from Cornwall in despite of the knights of Cornwall. For not only would
this be a great shame to the knights of Cornwall (of whom you are the
acknowledged champion), but it would be equally a shame unto this lady whom
you have fetched hither from Ireland to be Queen of Cornwall. So I lay this
command upon you - not only because I am your King, but because I am he who
made you knight - that you straightway go down into yonder meadow and do
battle with this knight who beareth himself so proudly in our midst."

Then Sir Tristram looked upon King Mark with great anger and bitterness,
and he said: "This is great shame and despite which you seek to put upon me
by giving such commands unto me. Verily, it would seem that in all ways you
seek to put shame and sorrow upon me. And yet I have ever been your true
knight, and have saved your kingdom from truage to Ireland and have served
you very faithfully in all ways. Would to God I had been made knight by any
man in the world rather than by you."

At this King Mark smiled very bitterly upon Tristram. "Sirrah," quoth he,
"meseems you speak very outrageously to me who am your King. Now I herewith
command you to go straightway down into that field without any further
words and to do my bidding against yonder knight."

Then Sir Tristram groaned in spirit, and then he said, "I go."

So Sir Tristram arose and went away from that place very full of bitterness
and anger against the King and his court. For whiles there were some of
that court who were sorry for the affront that King Mark had put upon him
in public before the eyes of the entire court, yet there were others who
smiled and were glad of his humiliation. For even so true and noble a
gentleman as Sir Tristram, when he groweth great and famous, is like to
have as many enemies as friends. For there are ever those who envy truth
and nobility in a man, as well as others who hate meanness and falsity, and
so Sir Tristram ever had many enemies whithersoever he went. And that also
was the case with Sir Launcelot and Sir Lamorack, and with other noble
knights at that time.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram arms himself] But though Sir Tristram was so
filled with indignation he said nothing to any man, but went to his lodging
and summoned Gouvernail, and bade Gouvernail to help him to his armor and
his horse.

Gouvernail said: "Lord, what would you do for to arm and horse yourself at
this hour?" Sir Tristram made reply: "The King hath commanded me to do
battle with Sir Lamorack, and yet Sir Lamorack is my very dear friend and
sworn brother-in-arms. He is already weary with battle, and of a surety I
shall be very likely to overthrow him in an assault at arms at this time."
Gouvernail said, "Lord, that would be great shame to you as well as to
him." And Sir Tristram said, "Yea, it is great shame." Then Gouvernail
beheld Sir Tristram's face, how it was all filled with a passion of shame
and indignation, and so he guessed what had passed, and held his peace.

So when Sir Tristram was armed and mounted, he rode down into the meadow of
battle, where was Sir Lamorack parading with great glory before the
applause of all who looked down upon that field.

[Sidenote: Sir Lamorack speaks to Sir Tristram] But when Sir Lamorack
beheld that it was Sir Tristram who came against him, he was greatly
astonished, and cried out: "Ha, Tristram, how is this? Is it you who come
against me? Have you then forgot that I am your brother-in-arms and a
fellow of the Round Table?"

To this Sir Tristram said: "Messire, I come not of my own free will, but
only because I must needs come, being so commanded by the King of
Cornwall."

"Very well," said Sir Lamorack, "so be it as you will, though I am very
much surprised that you should do battle against me, after all that hath
passed betwixt us. More especially at this season when, as you very well
know, I am weary and winded with battle."

Thereupon and without further parley, each knight took stand for the
encounter at the position assigned to him. Then when they were in all ways
prepared, the marshal of the field blew upon his trumpet a call for the
assault.

So rushed those two together like two stones, flung each out of a catapult;
and therewith they two smote together in the midst of their course like to
a clap of thunder.

[Sidenote: Sir Tristram overthrows Sir Lamorack] In that encounter the
spear of Sir Lamorack brake into as many as twenty or thirty pieces; but
the spear of Sir Tristram held, so that the horse of Sir Lamorack, which
was weary with the several charges he had made, was overthrown into a great
cloud of dust.

But Sir Lamorack did not fall with his steed; for he voided his saddle with
a very wonderful agility and dexterity, so that he himself kept his feet,
although his horse fell as aforesaid. Then he was filled with great rage
and shame that he had been so overthrown before all those who looked upon
him; wherefore he immediately drew his sword and cried out aloud: "Come
down, Sir Knight, and do battle with me afoot, for though my horse hath
failed me because of his weariness, yet you shall find that my body shall
not so fail me."

But that while Sir Tristram sat very sorrowful, and he said: "Nay, I will
not have to do with thee again this day, for it was against my will that I
came hither to do battle with thee, and it is to my shame that I did so.
Wherefore I will not now do further battle with thee. But wait until
to-morrow and until thou art fresh, and then I will give thee the chance of
battle again."

To this Sir Lamorack made answer very bitterly: "Sir, I think you talk to
amuse me; for first you put shame upon me in this encounter, and then you
bid me wait until to-morrow ere I purge me of that shame. Now I demand of
you to do battle with me upon this moment and not to-morrow."

Sir Tristram said: "I will not do battle with thee, Lamorack, for I have
done wrong already, and I will not do more wrong."

[Sidenote: Sir Lamorack reproves Sir Tristram] Upon this, Sir Lamorack was
so filled with anger that he scarce knew what to say or to do. Wherefore he
turned him to several who had come down into the meadow of battle, and he
said: "Hear ye all, and listen to my words: This knight came against me in
this field after I had had to do with fifteen other knights. In that
encounter he overthrew me, because of the weariness of my horse. Having
done that unknightly deed, he now refuseth me any further test of battle,


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Online LibraryHoward PyleThe Story of the Champions of the Round Table → online text (page 16 of 28)