[ Full Modern English spelling version of original text printed by William Caxton in 1485 ]
How Sir Tristram rescued a child from a knight, and how Gouvernail told him of King Anguish.
THE knight turned his horse and made him ready to fight. And then Sir Tristram smote him with a sword such a buffet that he tumbled to the earth. And then he yielded him unto Sir Tristram. Then come thy way, said Sir Tristram, and bring the child to the lady again. So he took his horse meekly and rode with Sir Tristram; and then by the way Sir Tristram asked him his name. Then he said, My name is Breuse Saunce Pite. So when he had delivered that child to the lady, he said: Sir, as in this the child is well remedied. Then Sir Tristram let him go again that sore repented him after, for he was a great foe unto many good knights of King Arthur’s court.
Then when Sir Tristram was in his pavilion Gouvernail, his man, came and told him how that King Anguish of Ireland was come thither, and he was put in great distress; and there Gouvernail told Sir Tristram how King Anguish was summoned and appealed of murder. So God me help, said Sir Tristram, these be the best tidings that ever came to me this seven years, for now shall the King of Ireland have need of my help; for I daresay there is no knight in this country that is not of Arthur’s court dare do battle with Sir Blamore de Ganis; and for to win the love of the King of Ireland I will take the battle upon me; and therefore Gouvernail bring me, I charge thee, to the king.
Then Gouvernail went unto King Anguish of Ireland, and saluted him fair. The king welcomed him and asked him what he would. Sir, said Gouvernail, here is a knight near hand that desireth to speak with you: he bade me say he would do you service. What knight is he? said the king. Sir, said he, it is Sir Tristram de Liones, that for your good grace that ye showed him in your lands will reward you in this country. Come on, fellow, said the king, with me anon and show me unto Sir Tristram. So the king took a little hackney and but few fellowship with him, until he came unto Sir Tristram’s pavilion. And when Sir Tristram saw the king he ran unto him and would have holden his stirrup. But the king leapt from his horse lightly, and either halsed other in their arms. My gracious lord, said Sir Tristram, gramercy of your great goodnesses showed unto me in your marches and lands: and at that time I promised you to do you service an ever it lay in my power. And, gentle knight, said the king unto Sir Tristram, now have I great need of you, never had I so great need of no knight’s help. How so, my good lord? said Sir Tristram. I shall tell you, said the king: I am summoned and appealed from my country for the death of a knight that was kin unto the good knight Sir Launcelot; wherefore Sir Blamore de Ganis, brother to Sir Bleoberis hath appealed me to fight with him, outher to find a knight in my stead. And well I wot, said the king, these that are come of King Ban’s blood, as Sir Launcelot and these other, are passing good knights, and hard men for to win in battle as any that I know now living. Sir, said Sir Tristram, for the good lordship ye showed me in Ireland, and for my lady your daughter’s sake, La Beale Isoud, I will take the battle for you upon this condition that ye shall grant me two things: that one is that ye shall swear to me that ye are in the right, that ye were never consenting to the knight’s death; Sir, then said Sir Tristram, when that I have done this battle, if God give me grace that I speed, that ye shall give me a reward, what thing reasonable that I will ask of you. So God me help, said the king, ye shall have whatsomever ye will ask. It is well said, said Sir Tristram.
How Sir Tristram fought for Sir Anguish and overcame his adversary, and how his adversary would never yield him.
NOW make your answer that your champion is ready, for I shall die in your quarrel rather than to be recreant. I have no doubt of you, said the king, that, an ye should have ado with Sir Launcelot du Lake— Sir, said Sir Tristram, as for Sir Launcelot, he is called the noblest knight of the world, and wit ye well that the knights of his blood are noble men, and dread shame; and as for Bleoberis, brother unto Sir Blamore, I have done battle with him, therefore upon my head it is no shame to call him a good knight. It is noised, said the king, that Blamore is the hardier knight. Sir, as for that let him be, he shall never be refused, an as he were the best knight that now beareth shield or spear.
So King Anguish departed unto King Carados and the kings that were that time as judges, and told them that he had found his champion ready. Then by the commandment of the kings Sir Blamore de Ganis and Sir Tristram were sent for to hear the charge. And when they were come before the judges there were many kings and knights beheld Sir Tristram, and much speech they had of him because that he slew Sir Marhaus, the good knight, and because he for-jousted Sir Palamides the good knight. So when they had taken their charge they withdrew them to make them ready to do battle.
Then said Sir Bleoberis unto his brother, Sir Blamore: Fair dear brother, remember of what kin we be come of, and what a man is Sir Launcelot du Lake, neither farther nor nearer but brother’s children, and there was never none of our kin that ever was shamed in battle; and rather suffer death, brother, than to be shamed. Brother, said Blamore, have ye no doubt of me, for I shall never shame none of my blood; howbeit I am sure that yonder knight is called a passing good knight as of his time one of the world, yet shall I never yield me, nor say the loath word: well may he happen to smite me down with his great might of chivalry, but rather shall he slay me than I shall yield me as recreant. God speed you well, said Sir Bleoberis, for ye shall find him the mightiest knight that ever ye had ado withal, for I know him, for I have had ado with him. God me speed, said Sir Blamore de Ganis; and therewith he took his horse at the one end of the lists, and Sir Tristram at the other end of the lists, and so they feutred their spears and came together as it had been thunder; and there Sir Tristram through great might smote down Sir Blamore and his horse to the earth. Then anon Sir Blamore avoided his horse and pulled out his sword and threw his shield afore him, and bade Sir Tristram alight: For though an horse hath failed me, I trust to God the earth will not fail me. And then Sir Tristram alighted, and dressed him unto battle; and there they lashed together strongly as racing and tracing, foining and dashing, many sad strokes, that the kings and knights had great wonder that they might stand; for ever they fought like wood men, so that there was never knights seen fight more fiercely than they did; for Sir Blamore was so hasty that he would have no rest, that all men wondered that they had breath to stand on their feet; and all the place was bloody that they fought in. And at the last, Sir Tristram smote Sir Blamore such a buffet upon the helm that he there fell down upon his side, and Sir Tristram stood and beheld him.
How Sir Blamore desired Tristram to slay him, and how Sir Tristram spared him, and how they took appointment.
THEN when Sir Blamore might speak, he said thus: Sir Tristram de Liones, I require thee, as thou art a noble knight, and the best knight that ever I found, that thou wilt slay me out, for I would not live to be made lord of all the earth, for I have liefer die with worship than live with shame; and needs, Sir Tristram, thou must slay me, or else thou shalt never win the field, for I will never say the loath word. And therefore if thou dare slay me, slay me, I require thee. When Sir Tristram heard him say so knightly, he wist not what to do with him; he remembering him of both parties, of what blood he was come, and for Sir Launcelot’s sake he would be loath to slay him; and in the other party in no wise he might not choose, but that he must make him to say the loath word, or else to slay him.
Then Sir Tristram stert aback, and went to the kings that were judges, and there he kneeled down tofore them, and besought them for their worships, and for King Arthur’s and Sir Launcelot’s sake, that they would take this matter in their hands. For, my fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it were shame and pity that this noble knight that yonder lieth should be slain; for ye hear well, shamed will he not be, and I pray to God that he never be slain nor shamed for me. And as for the king for whom I fight for, I shall require him, as I am his true champion and true knight in this field, that he will have mercy upon this good knight. So God me help, said King Anguish, I will for your sake; Sir Tristram, be ruled as ye will have me, for I know you for my true knight; and therefore I will heartily pray the kings that be here as judges to take it in their hands. And the kings that were judges called Sir Bleoberis to them, and asked him his advice. My lords, said Bleoberis, though my brother be beaten, and hath the worse through might of arms, I dare say, though Sir Tristram hath beaten his body he hath not beaten his heart, and I thank God he is not shamed this day; and rather than he should be shamed I require you, said Bleoberis, let Sir Tristram slay him out. It shall not be so, said the kings, for his part adversary, both the king and the champion, have pity of Sir Blamore’s knighthood. My lords, said Bleoberis, I will right well as ye will.
Then the kings called the King of Ireland, and found him goodly and treatable. And then, by all their advices, Sir Tristram and Sir Bleoberis took up Sir Blamore, and the two brethren were accorded with King Anguish, and kissed and made friends for ever. And then Sir Blamore and Sir Tristram kissed together, and there they made their oaths that they would never none of them two brethren fight with Sir Tristram, and Sir Tristram made the same oath. And for that gentle battle all the blood of Sir Launcelot loved Sir Tristram for ever.
Then King Anguish and Sir Tristram took their leave, and sailed into Ireland with great noblesse and joy. So when they were in Ireland the king let make it known throughout all the land how and in what manner Sir Tristram had done for him. Then the queen and all that there were made the most of him that they might. But the joy that La Beale Isoud made of Sir Tristram there might no tongue tell, for of all men earthly she loved him most.
How Sir Tristram demanded La Beale Isoud for King Mark, and how Sir Tristram and Isoud drank the love drink.
THEN upon a day King Anguish asked Sir Tristram why he asked not his boon, for whatsomever he had promised him he should have it without fail. Sir, said Sir Tristram, now is it time; this is all that I will desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud, your daughter, not for myself, but for mine uncle, King Mark, that shall have her to wife, for so have I promised him. Alas, said the king, I had liefer than all the land that I have ye would wed her yourself. Sir, an I did then I were shamed for ever in this world, and false of my promise. Therefore, said Sir I Tristram, I pray you hold your promise that ye promised me; for this is my desire, that ye will give me La Beale Isoud to go with me into Cornwall for to be wedded to King Mark, mine uncle. As for that, said King Anguish, ye shall have her with you to do with her what it please you; that is for to say if that ye list to wed her yourself, that is me liefest, and if ye will give her unto King Mark, your uncle, that is in your choice. So, to make short conclusion, La Beale Isoud was made ready to go with Sir Tristram, and Dame Bragwaine went with her for her chief gentlewoman, with many other.
Then the queen, Isoud’s mother, gave to her and Dame Bragwaine, her daughter’s gentlewoman, and unto Gouvernail, a drink, and charged them that what day King Mark should wed, that same day they should give him that drink, so that King Mark should drink to La Beale Isoud, and then, said the queen, I undertake either shall love other the days of their life. So this drink was given unto Dame Bragwaine, and unto Gouvernail. And then anon Sir Tristram took the sea, and La Beale Isoud; and when they were in their cabin, it happed so that they were thirsty, and they saw a little flasket of gold stand by them, and it seemed by the colour and the taste that it was noble wine. Then Sir Tristram took the flasket in his hand, and said, Madam Isoud, here is the best drink that ever ye drank, that Dame Bragwaine, your maiden, and Gouvernail, my servant, have kept for themselves. Then they laughed and made good cheer, and either drank to other freely, and they thought never drink that ever they drank to other was so sweet nor so good. But by that their drink was in their bodies, they loved either other so well that never their love departed for weal neither for woe. And thus it happed the love first betwixt Sir Tristram and La Beale Isoud, the which love never departed the days of their life.
So then they sailed till by fortune they came nigh a castle that hight Pluere, and thereby arrived for to repose them, weening to them to have had good harbourage. But anon as Sir Tristram was within the castle they were taken prisoners; for the custom of the castle was such; who that rode by that castle and brought any lady, he must needs fight with the lord, that hight Breunor. And if it were so that Breunor won the field, then should the knight stranger and his lady be put to death, what that ever they were; and if it were so that the strange knight won the field of Sir Breunor, then should he die and his lady both. This custom was used many winters, for it was called the Castle Pluere, that is to say the Weeping Castle.
On to CHAPTER XXV...
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