Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IX CHAPTER XVII

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CHAPTER XVII

How Sir Tristram came to La Beale Isoud, and how
Kehydius began to love Beale Isoud, and of a letter
that Tristram found.

AND then at a day set Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorak met at the
well; and then they took Kehydius at the forester's house, and so
they rode with him to the ship where they left Dame Bragwaine and
Gouvernail, and so they sailed into Cornwall all wholly together. 
And by assent and information of Dame Bragwaine when they were
landed they rode unto Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, a trusty friend
of Sir Tristram's.  And so Dame Bragwaine and Sir Dinas rode to
the court of King Mark, and told the queen, La Beale Isoud, that
Sir Tristram was nigh her in that country.  Then for very pure
joy La Beale Isoud swooned; and when she might speak she said: 
Gentle knight Seneschal, help that I might speak with him, outher
my heart will brast.  Then Sir Dinas and Dame <379>Bragwaine
brought Sir Tristram and Kehydius privily unto the court, unto a
chamber whereas La Beale Isoud had assigned it; and to tell the
joys that were betwixt La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram, there is
no tongue can tell it, nor heart think it, nor pen write it.  And
as the French book maketh mention, at the first time that ever
Sir Kehydius saw La Beale Isoud he was so enamoured upon her that
for very pure love he might never withdraw it.  And at the last,
as ye shall hear or the book be ended, Sir Kehydius died for the
love of La Beale Isoud.  And then privily he wrote unto her
letters and ballads of the most goodliest that were used in those
days.  And when La Beale Isoud understood his letters she had
pity of his complaint, and unavised she wrote another letter to
comfort him withal.

And Sir Tristram was all this while in a turret at the
commandment of La Beale Isoud, and when she might she came unto
Sir Tristram.  So on a day King Mark played at the chess under a
chamber window; and at that time Sir Tristram and Sir Kehydius
were within the chamber over King Mark, and as it mishapped Sir
Tristram found the letter that Kehydius sent unto La Beale Isoud,
also he had found the letter that she wrote unto Kehydius, and at
that same time La Beale Isoud was in the same chamber.  Then Sir
Tristram came unto La Beale Isoud and said:  Madam, here is a
letter that was sent unto you, and here is the letter that ye
sent unto him that sent you that letter.  Alas, Madam, the good
love that I have loved you; and many lands and riches have I
forsaken for your love, and now ye are a traitress to me, the
which doth me great pain.  But as for thee, Sir Kehydius, I
brought thee out of Brittany into this country, and thy father,
King Howel, I won his lands, howbeit I wedded thy sister Isoud la
Blanche Mains for the goodness she did unto me.  And yet, as I am
true knight, she is a clean maiden for me; but wit thou well, Sir
Kehydius, for this falsehood and treason thou hast done me, I
will revenge it upon thee.  And therewithal Sir Tristram drew out
his sword and said:  Sir Kehydius, keep thee, and then <380>La
Beale Isoud swooned to the earth.  And when Sir Kehydius saw Sir
Tristram come upon him he saw none other boot, but leapt out at a
bay-window even over the head where sat King Mark playing at the
chess.  And when the king saw one come hurling over his head he
said:  Fellow, what art thou, and what is the cause thou leapest
out at that window?  My lord the king, said Kehydius, it fortuned
me that I was asleep in the window above your head, and as I
slept I slumbered, and so I fell down.  And thus Sir Kehydius
excused him.



CHAP TER XVIII

How Sir Tristram departed from Tintagil, and how he
sorrowed and was so long in a forest till he was out
of his mind.

THEN Sir Tristram dread sore lest he were discovered unto the
king that he was there; wherefore he drew him to the strength of
the Tower, and armed him in such armour as he had for to fight
with them that would withstand him.  And so when Sir Tristram saw
there was no resistance against him he sent Gouvernail for his
horse and his spear, and knightly he rode forth out of the castle
openly, that was called the Castle of Tintagil.  And even at gate
he met with Gingalin, Sir Gawaine's son.  And anon Sir Gingalin
put his spear in his rest, and ran upon Sir Tristram and brake
his spear; and Sir Tristram at that time had but a sword, and
gave him such a buffet upon the helm that he fell down from his
saddle, and his sword slid adown, and carved asunder his horse's
neck.  And so Sir Tristram rode his way into the forest, and all
this doing saw King Mark.  And then he sent a squire unto the
hurt knight, and commanded him to come to him, and so he did. 
And when King Mark wist that it was Sir Gingalin he welcomed him
and gave him an horse, and asked him what knight it was that had
<381>encountered with him.  Sir, said Gingalin, I wot not what
knight he was, but well I wot that he sigheth and maketh great
dole.

Then Sir Tristram within a while met with a knight of his own,
that hight Sir Fergus.  And when he had met with him he made
great sorrow, insomuch that he fell down off his horse in a
swoon, and in such sorrow he was in three days and three nights. 
Then at the last Sir Tristram sent unto the court by Sir Fergus,
for to spere what tidings.  And so as he rode by the way he met
with a damosel that came from Sir Palomides, to know and seek how
Sir Tristram did.  Then Sir Fergus told her how he was almost out
of his mind.  Alas, said the damosel, where shall I find him?  In
such a place, said Sir Fergus.  Then Sir Fergus found Queen Isoud
sick in her bed, making the greatest dole that ever any earthly
woman made.  And when the damosel found Sir Tristram she made
great dole because she might not amend him, for the more she made
of him the more was his pain.  And at the last Sir Tristram took
his horse and rode away from her.  And then was it three days or
that she could find him, and then she brought him meat and drink,
but he would none; and then another time Sir Tristram escaped
away from the damosel, and it happed him to ride by the same
castle where Sir Palomides and Sir Tristram did battle when La
Beale Isoud departed them.  And there by fortune the damosel met
with Sir Tristram again, making the greatest dole that ever
earthly creature made; and she yede to the lady of that castle
and told her of the misadventure of Sir Tristram.  Alas, said the
lady of that castle, where is my lord, Sir Tristram?  Right here
by your castle, said the damosel.  In good time, said the lady,
is he so nigh me; he shall have meat and drink of the best; and
an harp I have of his whereupon he taught me, for of goodly
harping he beareth the prize in the world.  So this lady and
damosel brought him meat and drink, but he ate little thereof. 
Then upon a night he put his horse from him, and then he unlaced
his armour, and then Sir Tristram would go into the wilderness,
<382>and brast down the trees and boughs; and otherwhile when he
found the harp that the lady sent him, then would he harp, and
play thereupon and weep together.  And sometime when Sir Tristram
was in the wood that the lady wist not where he was, then would
she sit her down and play upon that harp: then would Sir Tristram
come to that harp, and hearken thereto, and sometime he would
harp himself.  Thus he there endured a quarter of a year.  Then
at the last he ran his way, and she wist not where he was become. 
And then was he naked and waxed lean and poor of flesh; and so he
fell in the fellowship of herdmen and shepherds, and daily they
would give him some of their meat and drink.  And when he did any
shrewd deed they would beat him with rods, and so they clipped
him with shears and made him like a fool.