[ Full Modern English spelling version of original text printed by William Caxton in 1485 ]
How King Mark, by the advice of his council, banished Sir Tristram out of Cornwall the term of ten years.
THEN the queen departed, but the brachet would not from him; and therewithal came King Mark, and the brachet set upon him, and bayed at them all. There withal Sir Andred spake and said: Sir, this is Sir Tristram, I see by the brachet. Nay, said the king, I cannot suppose that. Then the king asked him upon his faith what he was, and what was his name. So God me help, said he, my name is Sir Tristram de Liones; now do by me what ye list. Ah, said King Mark, me repenteth of your recovery. And then he let call his barons to judge Sir Tristram to the death. Then many of his barons would not assent thereto, and in especial Sir Dinas, the Seneschal, and Sir Fergus. And so by the advice of them all Sir Tristram was banished out of the country for ten year, and thereupon he took his oath upon a book before the king and his barons. And so he was made to depart out of the country of Cornwall; and there were many barons brought him unto his ship, of the which some were his friends and some his foes. And in the meanwhile there came a knight of King Arthur’s, his name was Dinadan, and his coming was for to seek after Sir Tristram; then they showed him where he was armed at all points going to the ship. Now fair knight, said Sir Dinadan, or ye pass this court that ye will joust with me I require thee. With a good will, said Sir Tristram, an these lords will give me leave. Then the barons granted thereto, and so they ran together, and there Sir Tristram gave Sir Dinadan a fall. And then he prayed Sir Tristram to give him leave to go in his fellowship. Ye shall be right welcome, said then Sir Tristram.
And so they took their horses and rode to their ships together, and when Sir Tristram was in the sea he said: Greet well King Mark and all mine enemies, and say them I will come again when I may; and well am I rewarded for the fighting with Sir Marhaus, and delivered all this country from servage; and well am I rewarded for the fetching and costs of Queen Isoud out of Ireland, and the danger that I was in first and last, and by the way coming home what danger I had to bring again Queen Isoud from the Castle Pluere; and well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Bleoberis for Sir Segwarides’ wife; and well am I rewarded when I fought with Sir Blamore de Ganis for King Anguish, father unto La Beale Isoud; and well am I rewarded when I smote down the good knight, Sir Lamorak de Galis, at King Mark’s request; and well am I rewarded when I fought with the King with the Hundred Knights, and the King of Northgalis, and both these would have put his land in servage, and by me they were put to a rebuke; and well am I rewarded for the slaying of Tauleas, the mighty giant, and many other deeds have I done for him, and now have I my warison. And tell King Mark that many noble knights of the Table Round have spared the barons of this country for my sake. Also am I not well rewarded when I fought with the good knight Sir Palomides and rescued Queen Isoud from him; and at that time King Mark said afore all his barons I should have been better rewarded. And forthwithal he took the sea.
How a damosel sought help to help Sir Launcelot against thirty knights, and how Sir Tristram fought with them.
AND at the next landing, fast by the sea, there met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, Sir Ector de Maris and Sir Bors de Ganis; and there Sir Ector jousted with Sir Dinadan, and he smote him and his horse down. And then Sir Tristram would have jousted with Sir Bors, and Sir Bors said that he would not joust with no Cornish knights, for they are not called men of worship; and all this was done upon a bridge. And with this came Sir Bleoberis and Sir Driant, and Sir Bleoberis proffered to joust with Sir Tristram, and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Bleoberis. Then said Sir Bors de Ganis: I wist never Cornish knight of so great valour nor so valiant as that knight that beareth the trappings embroidered with crowns. And then Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan departed from them into a forest, and there met them a damosel that came for the love of Sir Launcelot to seek after some noble knights of King Arthur’s court for to rescue Sir Launcelot. And so Sir Launcelot was ordained, for-by the treason of Queen Morgan le Fay to have slain Sir Launcelot, and for that cause she ordained thirty knights to lie in await for Sir Launcelot, and this damosel knew this treason. And for this cause the damosel came for to seek noble knights to help Sir Launcelot. For that night, or the day after, Sir Launcelot should come where these thirty knights were. And so this damosel met with Sir Bors and Sir Ector and with Sir Driant, and there she told them all four of the treason of Morgan le Fay; and then they promised her that they would be nigh where Sir Launcelot should meet with the thirty knights. And if so be they set upon him we will do rescues as we can.
So the damosel departed, and by adventure the damosel met with Sir Tristram and with Sir Dinadan, and there the damosel told them all the treason that was ordained for Sir Launcelot. Fair damosel, said Sir Tristram, bring me to that same place where they should meet with Sir Launcelot. Then said Sir Dinadan: What will ye do? it is not for us to fight with thirty knights, and wit you well I will not thereof; as to match one knight two or three is enough an they be men, but for to match fifteen knights that will I never undertake. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, do but your part. Nay, said Sir Dinadan, I will not thereof but if ye will lend me your shield, for ye bear a shield of Cornwall; and for the cowardice that is named to the knights of Cornwall, by your shields ye be ever forborne. Nay, said Sir Tristram, I will not depart from my shield for her sake that gave it me. But one thing, said Sir Tristram, I promise thee, Sir Dinadan, but if thou wilt promise me to abide with me, here I shall slay thee, for I desire no more of thee but answer one knight. And if thy heart will not serve thee, stand by and look upon me and them. Sir, said Sir Dinadan, I promise you to look upon and to do what I may to save myself, but I would I had not met with you.
So then anon these thirty knights came fast by these four knights, and they were ware of them, and either of other. And so these thirty knights let them pass, for this cause, that they would not wrath them, if case be that they had ado with Sir Launcelot; and the four knights let them pass to this intent, that they would see and behold what they would do with Sir Launcelot. And so the thirty knights passed on and came by Sir Tristram and by Sir Dinadan, and then Sir Tristram cried on high: Lo, here is a knight against you for the love of Sir Launcelot. And there he slew two with one spear and ten with his sword. And then came in Sir Dinadan and he did passing well, and so of the thirty knights there went but ten away, and they fled. All this battle saw Sir Bors de Ganis and his three fellows, and then they saw well it was the same knight that jousted with them at the bridge; then they took their horses and rode unto Sir Tristram, and praised him and thanked him of his good deeds, and they all desired Sir Tristram to go with them to their lodging; and he said: Nay, he would not go to no lodging. Then they all four knights prayed him to tell them his name. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, as at this time I will not tell you my name.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan came to a lodging where they must joust with two knights.
THEN Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan rode forth their way till they came to the shepherds and to the herdmen, and there they asked them if they knew any lodging or harbour there nigh hand. Forsooth, sirs, said the herdmen, hereby is good lodging in a castle; but there is such a custom that there shall no knight be harboured but if he joust with two knights, and if he be but one knight he must joust with two. And as ye be therein soon shall ye be matched. There is shrewd harbour, said Sir Dinadan; lodge where ye will, for I will not lodge there. Fie for shame, said Sir Tristram, are ye not a knight of the Table Round? wherefore ye may not with your worship refuse your lodging. Not so, said the herdmen, for an ye be beaten and have the worse ye shall not be lodged there, and if ye beat them ye shall be well harboured. Ah, said Sir Dinadan, they are two sure knights. Then Sir Dinadan would not lodge there in no manner but as Sir Tristram required him of his knighthood; and so they rode thither. And to make short tale, Sir Tristram and Sir Dinadan smote them down both, and so they entered into the castle and had good cheer as they could think or devise.
And when they were unarmed, and thought to be merry and in good rest, there came in at the gates Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris, requiring to have the custom of the castle. What array is this? said Sir Dinadan, I would have my rest. That may not be, said Sir Tristram; now must we needs defend the custom of this castle, insomuch as we have the better of the lords of this castle, and therefore, said Sir Tristram, needs must ye make you ready. In the devil’s name, said Sir Dinadan, came I into your company. And so they made them ready; and Sir Gaheris encountered with Sir Tristram, and Sir Gaheris had a fall; and Sir Palomides encountered with Sir Dinadan, and Sir Dinadan had a fall: then was it fall for fall. So then must they fight on foot. That would not Sir Dinadan, for he was so sore bruised of the fall that Sir Palomides gave him. Then Sir Tristram unlaced Sir Dinadan’s helm, and prayed him to help him. I will not, said Sir Dinadan, for I am sore wounded of the thirty knights that we had but late ago to do withal. But ye fare, said Sir Dinadan unto Sir Tristram, as a madman and as a man that is out of his mind that would cast himself away, and I may curse the time that ever I saw you, for in all the world are not two such knights that be so wood as is Sir Launcelot and ye Sir Tristram; for once I fell in the fellowship of Sir Launcelot as I have done now with you, and he set me a work that a quarter of a year I kept my bed. Jesu defend me, said Sir Dinadan, from such two knights, and specially from your fellowship. Then, said Sir Tristram, I will fight with them both. Then Sir Tristram bade them come forth both, for I will fight with you. Then Sir Palomides and Sir Gaheris dressed them, and smote at them both. Then Dinadan smote at Sir Gaheris a stroke or two, and turned from him. Nay, said Sir Palomides, it is too much shame for us two knights to fight with one. And then he did bid Sir Gaheris stand aside with that knight that hath no list to fight. Then they rode together and fought long, and at the last Sir Tristram doubled his strokes, and drove Sir Palomides aback more than three strides. And then by one assent Sir Gaheris and Sir Dinadan went betwixt them, and departed them in-sunder. And then by assent of Sir Tristram they would have lodged together. But Sir Dinadan would not lodge in that castle. And then he cursed the time that ever he came in their fellowship, and so he took his horse, and his harness, and departed.
Then Sir Tristram prayed the lords of that castle to lend him a man to bring him to a lodging, and so they did, and overtook Sir Dinadan, and rode to their lodging two mile thence with a good man in a priory, and there they were well at ease. And that same night Sir Bors and Sir Bleoberis, and Sir Ector and Sir Driant, abode still in the same place thereas Sir Tristram fought with the thirty knights; and there they met with Sir Launcelot the same night, and had made promise to lodge with Sir Colgrevance the same night.
How Sir Tristram jousted with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous, and how Sir Gawaine turned Sir Tristram from Morgan le Fay.
BUT anon as the noble knight, Sir Launcelot, heard of the shield of Cornwall, then wist he well that it was Sir Tristram that fought with his enemies. And then Sir Launcelot praised Sir Tristram, and called him the man of most worship in the world. So there was a knight in that priory that hight Pellinore, and he desired to wit the name of Sir Tristram, but in no wise he could not; and so Sir Tristram departed and left Sir Dinadan in the priory, for he was so weary and so sore bruised that he might not ride. Then this knight, Sir Pellinore, said to Sir Dinadan: Sithen that ye will not tell me that knight’s name I will ride after him and make him to tell me his name, or he shall die therefore. Beware, sir knight, said Sir Dinadan, for an ye follow him ye shall repent it. So that knight, Sir Pellinore, rode after Sir Tristram and required him of jousts. Then Sir Tristram smote him down and wounded him through the shoulder, and so he passed on his way. And on the next day following Sir Tristram met with pursuivants, and they told him that there was made a great cry of tournament between King Carados of Scotland and the King of North Wales, and either should joust against other at the Castle of Maidens; and these pursuivants sought all the country after the good knights, and in especial King Carados let make seeking for Sir Launcelot du Lake, and the King of Northgalis let seek after Sir Tristram de Liones. And at that time Sir Tristram thought to be at that jousts; and so by adventure they met with Sir Kay, the Seneschal, and Sir Sagramore le Desirous; and Sir Kay required Sir Tristram to joust, and Sir Tristram in a manner refused him, because he would not be hurt nor bruised against the great jousts that should be before the Castle of Maidens, and therefore thought to repose him and to rest him. And alway Sir Kay cried: Sir knight of Cornwall, joust with me, or else yield thee to me as recreant. When Sir Tristram heard him say so he turned to him, and then Sir Kay refused him and turned his back. Then Sir Tristram said: As I find thee I shall take thee. Then Sir Kay turned with evil will, and Sir Tristram smote Sir Kay down, and so he rode forth.
Then Sir Sagramore le Desirous rode after Sir Tristram, and made him to joust with him, and there Sir Tristram smote down Sir Sagramore le Desirous from his horse, and rode his way; and the same day he met with a damosel that told him that he should win great worship of a knight adventurous that did much harm in all that country. When Sir Tristram heard her say so, he was glad to go with her to win worship. So Sir Tristram rode with that damosel a six mile, and then met him Sir Gawaine, and therewithal Sir Gawaine knew the damosel, that she was a damosel of Queen Morgan le Fay. Then Sir Gawaine understood that she led that knight to some mischief. Fair knight, said Sir Gawaine, whither ride you now with that damosel? Sir, said Sir Tristram, I wot not whither I shall ride but as the damosel will lead me. Sir, said Sir Gawaine, ye shall not ride with her, for she and her lady did never good, but ill. And then Sir Gawaine pulled out his sword and said: Damosel, but if thou tell me anon for what cause thou leadest this knight with thee thou shalt die for it right anon: I know all your lady’s treason, and yours. Mercy, Sir Gawaine, she said, and if ye will save my life I will tell you. Say on, said Sir Gawaine, and thou shalt have thy life. Sir, she said, Queen Morgan le Fay, my lady, hath ordained a thirty ladies to seek and espy after Sir Launcelot or Sir Tristram, and by the trains of these ladies, who that may first meet any of these two knights they should turn them unto Morgan le Fay’s castle, saying that they should do deeds of worship; and if any of the two knights came there, there be thirty knights lying and watching in a tower to wait upon Sir Launcelot or upon Sir Tristram. Fie for shame, said Sir Gawaine, that ever such false treason should be wrought or used in a queen, and a king’s sister, and a king and queen’s daughter.
How Sir Tristram and Sir Gawaine rode to have foughten with the thirty knights, but they durst not come out.
SIR, said Sir Gawaine, will ye stand with me, and we will see the malice of these thirty knights. Sir, said Sir Tristram, go ye to them, an it please you, and ye shall see I will not fail you, for it is not long ago since I and a fellow met with thirty knights of that queen’s fellowship; and God speed us so that we may win worship. So then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram rode toward the castle where Morgan le Fay was, and ever Sir Gawaine deemed well that he was Sir Tristram de Liones, because he heard that two knights had slain and beaten thirty knights. And when they came afore the castle Sir Gawaine spake on high and said: Queen Morgan le Fay, send out your knights that ye have laid in a watch for Sir Launcelot and for Sir Tristram. Now, said Sir Gawaine, I know your false treason, and through all places where that I ride men shall know of your false treason; and now let see, said Sir Gawaine, whether ye dare come out of your castle, ye thirty knights. Then the queen spake and all the thirty knights at once, and said: Sir Gawaine, full well wottest thou what thou dost and sayest; for by God we know thee passing well, but all that thou speakest and dost, thou sayest it upon pride of that good knight that is there with thee. For there be some of us that know full well the hands of that knight over all well. And wit thou well, Sir Gawaine, it is more for his sake than for thine that we will not come out of this castle. For wit ye well, Sir Gawaine, the knight that beareth the arms of Cornwall, we know him and what he is.
Then Sir Gawaine and Sir Tristram departed and rode on their ways a day or two together; and there by adventure, they met with Sir Kay and Sir Sagramore le Desirous. And then they were glad of Sir Gawaine, and he of them, but they wist not what he was with the shield of Cornwall, but by deeming. And thus they rode together a day or two. And then they were ware of Sir Breuse Saunce Pite chasing a lady for to have slain her, for he had slain her paramour afore. Hold you all still, said Sir Gawaine, and show none of you forth, and ye shall see me reward yonder false knight; for an he espy you he is so well horsed that he will escape away. And then Sir Gawaine rode betwixt Sir Breuse and the lady, and said: False knight, leave her, and have ado with me. When Sir Breuse saw no more but Sir Gawaine he feutred his spear, and Sir Gawaine against him; and there Sir Breuse overthrew Sir Gawaine, and then he rode over him, and overthwart him twenty times to have destroyed him; and when Sir Tristram saw him do so villainous a deed, he hurled out against him. And when Sir Breuse saw him with the shield of Cornwall he knew him well that it was Sir Tristram, and then he fled, and Sir Tristram followed after him; and Sir Breuse Saunce Pite was so horsed that he went his way quite, and Sir Tristram followed him long, for he would fain have been avenged upon him. And so when he had long chased him, he saw a fair well, and thither he rode to repose him, and tied his horse till a tree.
On to CHAPTER XXVII...
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