Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER XXI

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How Sir Elias and Sir Tristram fought together for the
truage, and how Sir Tristram slew Elias in the field.

NOT for then when all this was said, they could find no
knight that would do battle with him.  Sir king, said they
all, here is no knight that dare fight with Elias.  Alas,
said King Mark, then am I utterly ashamed and utterly
destroyed, unless that my nephew Sir Tristram will take
the battle upon him.  Wit you well, they said all, he had
yesterday overmuch on hand, and he is weary for travail,
and sore wounded.  Where is he? said King Mark.  Sir,
said they, he is in his bed to repose him.  Alas, said King
Mark, but I have the succour of my nephew Sir Tristram,
I am utterly destroyed for ever.

Therewith one went to Sir Tristram where he lay, and
told him what King Mark had said.  And therewith Sir
Tristram arose lightly, and put on him a long gown, and
came afore the king and all the lords.  And when he saw
them all so dismayed he asked the king and the lords
what tidings were with them.  Never worse, said the
king.  And therewith he told him all, how he had word
of Elias to find a knight to fight for the truage of
Cornwall, and none can I find.  And as for you, said the king
and all the lords, we may ask no more of you for shame;
for through your hardiness yesterday ye saved all our lives.
Sir, said Sir Tristram, now I understand ye would have my
succour, reason would that I should do all that lieth in my
power to do, saving my worship and my life, howbeit I
am sore bruised and hurt.  And sithen Sir Elias proffereth
so largely, I shall fight with him, or else I will be slain in
the field, or else I will deliver Cornwall from the old
truage.  And therefore lightly call his messenger and he
shall be answered, for as yet my wounds be green, and
they will be sorer a seven night after than they be now;
and therefore he shall have his answer that I will do battle
to-morn with him.

Then was the messenger departed brought before King
Mark.  Hark, my fellow, said Sir Tristram, go fast unto
thy lord, and bid him make true assurance on his part for
the truage, as the king here shall make on his part; and
then tell thy lord, Sir Elias, that I, Sir Tristram, King
Arthur's knight, and knight of the Table Round, will as
to-morn meet with thy lord on horseback, to do battle as
long as my horse may endure, and after that to do battle
with him on foot to the utterance.  The messenger beheld
Sir Tristram from the top to the toe; and therewithal he
departed and came to his lord, and told him how he was
answered of Sir Tristram.  And therewithal was made
hostage on both parties, and made it as sure as it might
be, that whether party had the victory, so to end.  And
then were both hosts assembled on both parts of the field,
without the Castle of Tintagil, and there was none but Sir
Tristram and Sir Elias armed.

So when the appointment was made, they departed
in-sunder, and they came together with all the might that
their horses might run.  And either knight smote other
so hard that both horses and knights went to the earth.
Not for then they both lightly arose and dressed their
shields on their shoulders, with naked swords in their
hands, and they dashed together that it seemed a flaming
fire about them.  Thus they traced, and traversed, and
hewed on helms and hauberks, and cut away many cantels
of their shields, and either wounded other passing sore, so
that the hot blood fell freshly upon the earth.  And by
then they had foughten the mountenance of an hour Sir
Tristram waxed faint and for-bled, and gave sore aback.
That saw Sir Elias, and followed fiercely upon him, and
wounded him in many places.  And ever Sir Tristram
traced and traversed, and went froward him here and there,
and covered him with his shield as he might all weakly,
that all men said he was overcome; for Sir Elias had given
him twenty strokes against one.

Then was there laughing of the Sessoins' party, and
great dole on King Mark's party.  Alas, said the king,
we are ashamed and destroyed all for ever: for as the
book saith, Sir Tristram was never so matched, but if it
were Sir Launcelot.  Thus as they stood and beheld both
parties, that one party laughing and the other party
weeping, Sir Tristram remembered him of his lady, La
Beale Isoud, that looked upon him, and how he was likely
never to come in her presence.  Then he pulled up his
shield that erst hung full low.  And then he dressed up
his shield unto Elias, and gave him many sad strokes,
twenty against one, and all to-brake his shield and his
hauberk, that the hot blood ran down to the earth.  Then
began King Mark to laugh, and all Cornish men, and that
other party to weep.  And ever Sir Tristram said to Sir
Elias:  Yield thee.

Then when Sir Tristram saw him so staggering on the
ground, he said:  Sir Elias, I am right sorry for thee, for
thou art a passing good knight as ever I met withal, except
Sir Launcelot.  Therewithal Sir Elias fell to the earth, and
there died.  What shall I do, said Sir Tristram unto King
Mark, for this battle is at an end? Then they of Elias'
party departed, and King Mark took of them many
prisoners, to redress the harms and the scathes that he had
of them; and the remnant he sent into their country to
borrow out their fellows.  Then was Sir Tristram searched
and well healed.  Yet for all this King Mark would fain
have slain Sir Tristram.  But for all that ever Sir Tristram
saw or heard by King Mark, yet would he never beware
of his treason, but ever he would be thereas La Beale
Isoud was.