Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER LXXXVI

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CHAPTER LXXXVI

How Sir Tristram and Launcelot, with Palomides, came to
joyous Gard; and of Palomides and Sir Tristram.


FAIR knight, said Sir Tristram unto Sir Launcelot, of
whence be ye?  I am a knight errant, said Sir Launcelot,
that rideth to seek many adventures.  What is your name?
said Sir Tristram.  Sir, at this time I will not tell you.
Then Sir Launcelot said unto Sir Tristram and to Palomides:
Now either of you are met together I will depart
from you.  Not so, said Sir Tristram; I pray you of
knighthood to ride with me unto my castle.  Wit you
well, said Sir Launcelot, I may not ride with you, for I
have many deeds to do in other places, that at this time
I may not abide with you.  Ah, mercy Jesu, said Sir
Tristram, I require you as ye be a true knight to the order
of knighthood, play you with me this night.  Then Sir
Tristram had a grant of Sir Launcelot: howbeit though
he had not desired him he would have ridden with them,
outher soon have come after them; for Sir Launcelot came
for none other cause into that country but for to see Sir
Tristram.  And when they were come within Joyous
Gard they alighted, and their horses were led into a stable;
and then they unarmed them.  And when Sir Launcelot
was unhelmed, Sir Tristram and Sir Palomides knew him.
Then Sir Tristram took Sir Launcelot in arms, and so did
La Beale Isoud; and Palomides kneeled down upon his
knees and thanked Sir Launcelot.  When Sir Launcelot
saw Sir Palomides kneel he lightly took him up and said
thus:  Wit thou well, Sir Palomides, I and any knight in
this land, of worship ought of very right succour and
rescue so noble a knight as ye are proved and renowned,
throughout all this realm endlong and overthwart.  And
then was there joy among them, and the oftener that
Sir Palomides saw La Beale Isoud the heavier he waxed
day by day.

Then Sir Launcelot within three or four days departed,
and with him rode Sir Ector de Maris; and Dinadan and
Sir Palomides were there left with Sir Tristram a two
months and more.  But ever Sir Palomides faded and
mourned, that all men had marvel wherefore he faded so
away.  So upon a day, in the dawning, Sir Palomides went
into the forest by himself alone; and there he found a
well, and then he looked into the well, and in the water he
saw his own visage, how he was disturbed and defaded,
nothing like that he was.  What may this mean? said Sir
Palomides, and thus he said to himself:  Ah, Palomides,
Palomides, why art thou defaded, thou that was wont to be
called one of the fairest knights of the world?  I will no
more lead this life, for I love that I may never get nor
recover.  And therewithal he laid him down by the well.
And then he began to make a rhyme of La Beale Isoud
and him.

And in the meanwhile Sir Tristram was that same day
ridden into the forest to chase the hart of greese; but Sir
Tristram would not ride a-hunting never more unarmed,
because of Sir Breuse Saunce Pit.  And so as Sir Tristram
rode into that forest up and down, he heard one sing
marvellously loud, and that was Sir Palomides that lay by
the well.  And then Sir Tristram rode softly thither, for
he deemed there was some knight errant that was at the
well.  And when Sir Tristram came nigh him he descended
down from his horse and tied his horse fast till a tree, and
then he came near him on foot; and anon he was ware
where lay Sir Palomides by the well and sang loud and
merrily; and ever the complaints were of that noble
queen, La Beale Isoud, the which was marvellously and
wonderfully well said, and full dolefully and piteously
made.  And all the whole song the noble knight, Sir
Tristram, heard from the beginning to the ending, the
which grieved and troubled him sore.

But then at the last, when Sir Tristram had heard all
Sir Palomides' complaints, he was wroth out of measure,
and thought for to slay him thereas he lay.  Then Sir
Tristram remembered himself that Sir Palomides was
unarmed, and of the noble name that Sir Palomides had,
and the noble name that himself had, and then he made a
restraint of his anger; and so he went unto Sir Palomides
a soft pace and said:  Sir Palomides, I have heard your
complaint, and of thy treason that thou hast owed me
so long, and wit thou well therefore thou shalt die; and
if it were not for shame of knighthood thou shouldest
not escape my hands, for now I know well thou hast
awaited me with treason.  Tell me, said Sir Tristram,
how thou wilt acquit thee?  Sir, said Palomides, thus I
will acquit me: as for Queen La Beale Isoud, ye shall wit
well that I love her above all other ladies in this world;
and well I wot it shall befall me as for her love as befell
to the noble knight Sir Kehydius, that died for the love
of La Beale Isoud.  And now, Sir Tristram, I will that
ye wit that I have loved La Beale Isoud many a day, and
she hath been the causer of my worship, and else I had
been the most simplest knight in the world.  For by her,
and because of her, I have won the worship that I have;
for when I remembered me of La Beale Isoud I won the
worship wheresomever I came for the most part; and yet
had I never reward nor bount of her the days of my life,
and yet have I been her knight guerdonless.  And therefore,
Sir Tristram, as for any death I dread not, for I had
as lief die as to live.  And if I were armed as thou art, I
should lightly do battle with thee.  Well have ye uttered
your treason, said Tristram.  I have done to you no
treason, said Palomides, for love is free for all men, and
though I have loved your lady, she is my lady as well as
yours; howbeit I have wrong if any wrong be, for ye
rejoice her, and have your desire of her, and so had I
never nor never am like to have, and yet shall I love her
to the uttermost days of my life as well as ye.