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They will gain more credit in your
hands than they have won in mine."

Palamides thereupon exchanged armor with him, and, taking his shield,
which shone like silver, rode into the field. He now joined the party of
King Arthur, and rode spitefully against Tristram, who had just struck
down three knights. They met with such force that both spears splintered
to their hands, though neither lost his seat. Then they dashed eagerly
together with drawn swords and fought with the courage and fury of two
lions. But Tristram wondered much what knight this was that faced him
so valiantly, and grew angry as he felt that he was wasting in this
single combat the strength he wished to treasure up for the day's work.

La Belle Isolde, who had watched Palamides from her window, had seen him
change his armor with the wounded knight. And when his treacherous
purpose came to her mind she wept so heartily and was so deeply
disturbed that she swooned away.

At this juncture in the fray Lancelot rode again into the field, and
when the knights of Arthur's party saw him the cry went up. "Return,
return, here comes Sir Lancelot du Lake!"

And some said to him, "Sir Lancelot, yonder knight in the black harness
is your man. He is the best of our opponents, and has nearly overcome
the good knight with the silver shield."

At this Lancelot rode between the combatants, and cried to Palamides,--

"Let me have this battle; you need repose."

Palamides knew Lancelot, and readily gave way, hoping through his mighty
aid to gain revenge upon his rival. Then Lancelot fell upon Tristram,
and, unknowing who he was, dealt him blows that would have stunned a
less hardy fighter. Tristram returned them but feebly, for he knew well
with whom he fought. And Isolde, who saw it all, was half out of her
mind with grief.

Dinadan now told Gareth who the knight in black armor was, and said,
"Lancelot will get the better of him, for one is weary and the other
fresh, and Tristram is not fighting with his old vim. Let us to his
aid."

"I am with you," said Gareth. "Yonder fellow with the silver shield is
waiting to fall on Tristram, if he can to advantage. It is our business
to give our friend what help we can."

Then they rode in, and Gareth struck Lancelot a sword-blow that made his
head swim, while Dinadan followed with a spear-thrust that bore horse
and man together to the earth.

"Why do you this?" cried Tristram, angrily. "It is not a knightly act,
and does not that good knight any dishonor. I was quite his match
without you."

Then Palamides came to Lancelot's aid, and a close medley of fighting
began, in which Dinadan was unhorsed and Tristram pulled Palamides from
his saddle, and fell with him. Dinadan now sprang up and caught
Tristram's horse by the bridle, calling out, with purpose to end the
fight,--

"My lord Sir Tristram, take your horse."

"What is this?" cried Lancelot. "What have I done? Sir Tristram, why
came you here disguised? Surely I would not have drawn sword on you, had
I known you."

"Sir," said Tristram, "this is not the first honor you have done me."

Then they mounted their horses again, while the people on one side gave
Lancelot the honor of the fray, and those on the other side gave it to
Tristram.

"The honor is not mine," said Lancelot. "He has been longer in the
field, and has smitten down many more knights; so I give my voice for
Sir Tristram, and pray to all my lords and fellows to do the same."

This was the verdict of the judges, and the prize of that day's tourney
was by all voted to the noble Sir Tristram.

Then the trumpets blew to lodging, and the knights left the field, while
Queen Isolde was conducted to her pavilion. But her heart burned hot
with wrath against Palamides, all whose treachery she had seen. As
Tristram rode forward with Gareth and Dinadan, Palamides joined them,
still disguised.

"Sir knight," said Tristram, "you are not of our party, and your company
is not welcome. So begone."

"Not I," he answered. "One of the best knights in the world bade me keep
fellowship with you, and till he relieve me from that service I must
obey him."

"Ha, Palamides, I know you now!" said Tristram. "But, by my faith, I did
not know you before, for I deemed you a worthy knight and not a traitor.
I could have handled you well enough, but you brought Lancelot to your
aid against me."

"Are you my lord, Sir Tristram?" said Palamides, in a tone of surprise.

"That you know, well enough."

"How should I know it any more than you knew me? I deemed you the king
of Ireland, for you bear his arms."

"I won them in battle, from his champion Sir Marhaus," said Tristram.

"Sir," answered Palamides, "I fancied you had joined Lancelot's party,
and that caused me to turn to the same side."

"If that be so, I forgive you," said Tristram.

But when they reached the pavilion and had disarmed and washed, and were
come to table, Isolde grew red with wrath on seeing Palamides.

"You traitor and felon!" she cried, "how dare you thrust yourself into
this goodly company? You know not how falsely he has treated you, my
lord Tristram. I saw it all. He watched you when you rode to your tent
and donned the black armor. Then he changed armor with a wounded knight
and rode back and wilfully changed sides, and drew sword upon you. I saw
it all, my lord, and I impeach him of treason."

"Madam," said Palamides, calmly, "you may say what you will. I cannot in
courtesy deny you. Yet by my knighthood I declare I knew not Sir
Tristram."

"I will take your excuse," said Tristram, "though it seems a lame one.
You spared me little in the field, but all that I have pardoned."

At this, Isolde held down her head in despite and said no more.

While they were still at table two knights rode to the pavilions, and
entered in full armor.

"Fair sirs," said Tristram, "is this courtesy, to come upon us thus
armed at our meal?"

"We come with no ill intent," said one, "but as your friends, Sir
Tristram."

"I am come," said the other, "to greet you as a friend and comrade, and
my companion is eager to see and welcome La Belle Isolde."

"Then remove your helms, that I may see what guests I have."

"That we do, willingly."

No sooner were their helmets off than Tristram sprang hastily to his
feet.

"Madam, arise," he cried; "this is none less than my lord King Arthur;
and this my very dear friend Sir Lancelot."

Then the king and queen kissed, and Lancelot and Tristram warmly
embraced, while deep joy filled all hearts there. At the request of
Isolde the visitors removed their armor and joined them at their meal.

"Many is the day that I have longed to see you," said Arthur to Isolde,
"for much praise have I heard of you, and not without warrant. For a
nobler match for beauty and valor than you and Sir Tristram the world
does not hold."

"We thank you heartily," replied Tristram and Isolde. "Such praise from
King Arthur is the highest honor that men's lips could give."

Then they talked of other things, but mainly of the tournament.

"Why were you against us?" asked Arthur. "You are a Knight of the Round
Table, and have fought to-day against your own."

"Here is Dinadan, and your own nephew Gareth. You must blame them for
that," said Tristram, smiling.

"You may lay all the blame on my shoulders, if Tristram wishes it," said
Gareth.

"Not on mine, then," said Dinadan. "Mine are only broad enough to carry
my own sins. It was this unhappy Tristram brought us to the tournament,
and I owe to him a whole body full of aches and pains as it is, without
taking any of his sins in my sack, to boot."

At this the king and Lancelot laughed heartily, and the more so at the
sour grimace with which Dinadan ended.

"What knight was he with the shield of silver that held you so short?"
asked Arthur.

"Here he sits," said Tristram.

"What! was it Palamides?"

"None less than he," said Isolde.

"That was not a courteous action."

"Sir," said Palamides, "Tristram was so disguised that I knew him not."

"That may well be," said Lancelot, "for I knew him no better."

"However it be, we are friends again," said Tristram, "and I hope will
continue so."

And so the evening passed, till the time came for Arthur and Lancelot to
take their leave.

That night Palamides slept not for the pain and envy that burned in his
heart. But when his friends entered his chamber in the morning they
found him fast asleep, with his cheeks stained with tears.

"Say nothing," said Tristram. "The poor fellow has been deeply wounded
by the rebuke that I and Isolde gave him. Lay no heavier load upon his
heart."




CHAPTER VII.

THE WOES OF TWO LOVERS.


Early on the third morning of the tournament the knights of Tristram's
party were up and armed, they now being all arrayed in red, as was also
Isolde and her maidens. And rare was the show they made as they rode
gayly to the priory, where they left Isolde and her maidens to occupy
their proper seats. As the knights turned thence towards the field they
heard three loud bugle-blasts, and saw the throng of armed knights press
eagerly forward, while already from the listed space came the thunder of
hoofs and the cries of combatants.

Into the field they rode, Palamides in advance, and such havoc did he
make in the opposing ranks that shouts of approval went up from all the
seats. But Tristram now rode forward at the full speed of his great
war-horse, hurled Kay the seneschal from his saddle, smote down three
other knights with the same spear, and then, drawing his sword, laid
about him like a roused giant.

Quickly changed the cry from Palamides. "O Tristram! O Tristram!"
shouted the throng of spectators, and the deeds of this new champion
threw those of the former victor into the shade.

Gareth and Dinadan also nobly aided the two champions, rousing the
admiration of Arthur and Lancelot by their gallantry, and the four
knightly comrades soon cleared a wide space in the ranks before them.

"Come," said Arthur, "we must to the rescue, or our side will be driven
from the field before the day is an hour old.



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