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La Belle
Isolde, fearing treachery, went to a faithful knight named Sir Sadok,
and begged him to try and discover what had become of the missing
knight. Sadok set himself diligently to work; and soon learned that
Tristram was held captive in the castle of Lyonesse. Then he went to
Dinas, the seneschal, and others, and told them what had been done, at
which they broke into open rebellion against King Mark, and took
possession of all the towns and castles in the country of Lyonesse,
filling them with their followers.

But while the rebellious army was preparing to march on Tintagil, and
force King Mark to set free his prisoner, Tristram was delivered by the
young knight Sir Percivale, who had come thither in search of
adventures, and had heard of King Mark's base deed. Great was the joy
between these noble knights, and Tristram said,--

"Will you abide in these marches, Sir Percivale? If so, I will keep you
company."

"Nay, dear friend, I cannot tarry here. Duty calls me into Wales."

But before leaving Cornwall he went to King Mark, told him what he had
done, and threatened him with the revenge of all honorable knights if he
sought again to injure his noble nephew.

"What would you have me do?" asked the king. "Shall I harbor a man who
openly makes love to my wife and queen?"

"Is there any shame in a nephew showing an open affection for his
uncle's wife?" asked Percivale. "No man will dare say that so noble a
warrior as Sir Tristram would go beyond the borders of sinless love, or
will dare accuse the virtuous lady La Belle Isolde of lack of chastity.
You have let jealousy run away with your wisdom, King Mark."

So saying, he departed; but his words had little effect on King Mark's
mind. No sooner had Percivale gone than he began new devices to gratify
his hatred of his nephew. He sent word to Dinas, the seneschal, under
oath, that he intended to go to the Pope and join the war against the
infidel Saracens, which he looked upon as a nobler service than that of
raising the people against their lawful king.

So earnest were his professions that Dinas believed him and dismissed
his forces, but no sooner was this done than King Mark set aside his
oath and had Tristram again privately seized and imprisoned.

This new outrage filled the whole realm with tumult and rebellious
feeling. La Belle Isolde was at first thrown into the deepest grief, and
then her heart swelled high with resolution to live no longer with the
dastard who called her wife. Tristram at the same time privately sent
her a letter, advising her to leave the court of her villanous lord, and
offering to go with her to Arthur's realm, if she would have a vessel
privately made ready.

The queen thereupon had an interview with Dinas and Sadok, and begged
them to seize and imprison the king, since she was resolved to escape
from his power.

Furious at the fox-like treachery of the king, these knights did as
requested, for they formed a plot by which Mark was privately seized,
and they imprisoned him secretly in a strong dungeon. At the same time
Tristram was delivered, and soon sailed openly away from Cornwall with
La Belle Isolde, gladly shaking the dust of that realm of treachery from
his feet.

In due time the vessel touched shore in King Arthur's dominions, and
gladly throbbed the heart of the long-unhappy queen as her feet touched
that free and friendly soil. As for Tristram, never was lover fuller of
joy, and life seemed to him to have just begun.

Not long had they landed when a knightly chance brought Lancelot into
their company. Warm indeed was the greeting of those two noble
companions, and glad the welcome which Lancelot gave Isolde to English
soil.

"You have done well," he said, "to fly from that wolf's den. There is no
noble knight in the world but hates King Mark and will honor you for
leaving his palace of vile devices. Come with me, you shall be housed at
my expense."

Then he rode with them to his own castle of Joyous Gard, a noble
stronghold which he had won with his own hands. A royal castle it was,
garnished and provided with a richness which no king or queen could
surpass. Here Lancelot bade them use everything as their own, and
charged all his people to love and honor them as they would himself.

"Joyous Gard is yours as long as you will honor it by making it your
home," he said. "As for me, I can have no greater joy than to know that
my castle is so nobly tenanted, and that Tristram of Lyonesse and Queen
Isolde are my honored guests."

Leaving them, Lancelot rode to Camelot, where he told Arthur and
Guenever of what had happened, much to their joy and delight.

"By my crown," cried Arthur, joyfully, "the coming of Tristram and
Isolde to my realm is no everyday event, and is worthy of the highest
honor. We must signalize it with a noble tournament."

Then he gave orders that a stately passage-at-arms should be held on
May-day at the castle of Lonazep, which was near Joyous Gard. And word
was sent far and near that the knights of his own realm of Logris, with
those of Cornwall and North Wales, would be pitted against those of the
rest of England, of Ireland and Scotland, and of lands beyond the seas.




CHAPTER II.

HOW TRISTRAM BEFOOLED DINADAN.


Never were two happier lovers than Tristram and Isolde at Joyous Gard.
Their days were spent in feasting and merriment, Isolde's heart
overflowing with joy to be free from the jealousy of her ill-tempered
spouse, and Tristram's to have his lady love to himself, far from
treacherous plots and murderous devices.

Every day Tristram went hunting, for at that time men say he was the
best courser at the chase in the world, and the rarest blower of the
horn among all lovers of sport. From him, it is said, came all the
terms of hunting and hawking, the distinction between beasts of the
chase and vermin, all methods of dealing with hounds and with game, and
all the blasts of the chase and the recall, so that they who delight in
huntsmen's sport will have cause to the world's end to love Sir Tristram
and pray for his soul's repose.

Yet Isolde at length grew anxious for his welfare, and said,--

"I marvel that you ride so much to the chase unarmed. This is a country
not well known to you, and one that contains many false knights, while
King Mark may lay some plot for your destruction. I pray you, my dear
love, to take more heed to your safety."

This advice seemed timely, and thereafter Tristram rode in armor to the
chase, and followed by men who bore his shield and spear. One day, a
little before the month of May, he followed a hart eagerly, but as the
animal led him by a cool woodland spring, he alighted to quench his
thirst in the gurgling waters.

Here, by chance, he met with Dinadan, who had come into that country in
search of him. Some words of greeting passed between them, after which
Dinadan asked him his name, telling his own. This confidence Tristram
declined to return, whereupon Dinadan burst out in anger.

[Illustration: MARRIAGE OF SIR TRISTRAM.]

"You value your name highly, sir knight," he said. "Do you design to
ride everywhere under a mask? Such a foolish knight as you I saw but
lately lying by a well. He seemed like one asleep, and no word could be
got from him, yet all the time he grinned like a fool. The fellow was
either an idiot or a lover, I know not which."

"And are not you a lover?" asked Tristram.

"Marry, my wit has saved me from that craft."

"That is not well said," answered Tristram. "A knight who disdains love
is but half a man, and not half a warrior."

"I am ready to stand by my creed," retorted Dinadan. "As for you,
sirrah, you shall tell me your name, or do battle with me."

"You will not get my name by a threat, I promise you that," said
Tristram. "I shall not fight till I am in the mood; and when I do, you
may get more than you bargain for."

"I fear you not, coward," said Dinadan.

"If you are so full of valor, here is your man," said Tristram, pointing
to a knight who rode along the forest aisle towards them. "He looks
ready for a joust."

"On my life, it is the same dull-plate knave I saw lying by the well,
neither sleeping nor waking," said Dinadan.

"This is not the first time I have seen that covered shield of azure,"
said Tristram. "This knight is Sir Epinegris, the son of the king of
Northumberland, than whom the land holds no more ardent lover, for his
heart is gone utterly out to the fair daughter of the king of Wales.
Now, if you care to find whether a lover or a non-lover is the better
knight, here is your opportunity."

"I shall teach him to grin to more purpose," said Dinadan. "Stand by and
you shall see."

Then, as the lover approached, he cried,--

"Halt, sir knight, and make ready to joust, as is the custom with errant
knights."

"Let it be so, if you will," answered Epinegris. "Since it is the custom
of you knight-errant to make a man joust whether he will or no, I am
your man."

"Make ready, then, for here is for you."

Then they spurred their horses and rode together at full speed, Dinadan
breaking his spear, while Epinegris struck him so shrewd a blow that he
rolled upon the earth.

"How now?" cried Tristram. "It seems to me that the lover has best
sped."

"Will you play the coward?" queried Dinadan. "Or will you, like a good
knight, revenge me?"

"I am not in the mood," answered Tristram. "Take your horse, Sir
Dinadan, and let us get away from here, where hard blows are more
plentiful than soft beds."

"Defend me from such fellowship as yours!" roared Dinadan. "Take your
way and I will take mine. We fit not well together."

"I might give you news of Sir Tristram."

"Sir Tristram, if he be wise, will seek better company. I can do without
your news, as I have had to do without your help," and he rode on in
high dudgeon.

"Farewell, then," cried Tristram, laughing. "It may happen we shall soon
meet again."

Tristram rode back in much amusement to Joyous Gard, but on coming near
he heard in the neighboring town a great outcry.

"What means this noise?" he asked.

"Sir," he was told, "a knight of the castle has just been slain by two
strangers, and for no other cause than saying that Sir Lancelot was a
better knight than Sir Gawaine."

"Who would dispute that?" said Tristram.



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