Howard Pyle's The
Champions of the Round Table
How Sir Tristram did justice in the island, and thereby released Sir Lamorack
from captivity. Also how Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorack renewed their great
tenderness toward one another.
Now after Sir Tristram had overcome Sir
Nabon le Noir, and had slain the son
of Sir Nabon as has been just told, he went straightway to the castle that had
been Sir Nabon's, and commanded that they should bring forth the seneschal and
the officers thereof unto him. Meantime, being a little wounded in that battle,
he sat himself down upon a bench of wood that stood in the hall of the castle,
and there he held his court.
So, in a little while, there came the seneschal and several of the officers
of the household to where Sir Tristram was, and when the seneschal came before
Sir Tristram, he fell down upon his knees and besought pardon and mercy.
Then Sir Tristram said: "I will consider thy case anon, and if I may assure
myself that thou and these others are truly repentant, and if I may have
assurity that ye will henceforth be faithful in your duty toward that lady who is now again the
mistress of this castle and land, then I shall have mercy. But if ye show
yourselves recreant and treacherous, according to the manners of this Sir Nabon
who is dead, then I shall of a surety return hither and shall punish you even as
ye beheld me punish that wicked knight and his young son."
Then Sir Tristram said, "Who is the porter of this castle?" And the porter
lifted his hand and said, "Lord, I am he." Sir Tristram said, "What captives
have ye in this place?" The porter said: "Lord, there be four knights and three
ladies who are held captive here for ransom." Then Sir Tristram said, "Bring
them forth hither to me."
So the porter and several other of the castle folk departed with all speed
and presently returned bringing with them those miserable captives whom they had
liberated from the dungeons of the castle. These they led to where Sir Tristram
still sat in justice upon the bench of wood. And Sir Tristram looked upon them
with pity and beheld that they were in a very sad and forlorn condition and
so sorrowful from their captivity that some of them wept from pure weakness of
heart. Then Sir Tristram said: "Comfort ye, and take no more sorrow to
yourselves, for now your troubles are past and gone, and happiness lieth before
you. Sir Nabon is dead, and so is his son, and there is no one now to torment
you. Moreover, I dare say that there is much treasure gathered at this place by
Sir Nabon, and all that treasure shall be divided amongst you, for to comfort
ye, wherefore when ye leave this place, ye shall go away a great deal richer
than ye were when ye came."
So spake Sir Tristram, promising them much for to comfort them a little.
As to that treasure he spake of, ye shall immediately be told how it was. For
when Sir Tristram had summoned the treasurer of that place, he brought Sir
Tristram down into the vaults of the castle and there he beheld seven strong
chests bolted and locked. Then Sir Tristram summoned the locksmith of that
castle; and the smith came and burst open the chests; and lo! the eyes of all
were astonished and bedazzled with the treasure which they therewith beheld; for
in those chests was heaped an incalculable treasure of gold and silver and
precious gems of many divers sorts.
And besides this treasure, you are to know that they found in that vault many
bales of cloths--some of silk and velvet, and some of tissues of cloth of gold
and silver; and they found many precious ornaments, and many fine suits of
armor, and many other valuable things. For in several years Sir Nabon had
gathered all that treasure in toll from those ships that had sailed past that land.
All this treasure Sir Tristram had them bring forth into the light of day,
and he divided it into several equal parcels. Then he said to those sad,
sorrowful captives: "Look! See! all this shall be yours for to comfort ye! Take each of you one parcel
and depart hence in joy!" Then all they were greatly astonished at Sir
Tristram's generosity, and they said: "Lord, how is this? Do you not then take
any of this treasure for yourself?"
To them Sir Tristram made reply: "Nay, why should I take it? I am not sad,
nor sick, nor troubled at heart as you poor captives are. All this I have taken
for to comfort you, and not for to satisfy my own covetousness. So let each take
his share of it and see that ye all use it in comfort and peace and for the
advantage of other men and women who are in trouble as ye have been. For, as
hitherto this treasure hath been used for evil purpose, so shall it be
henceforth that it shall be used to good purpose."
So there was great rejoicing amongst all those poor people who had been so
sad and sorrowful before.
Now, after all this had been settled, Sir Tristram cast about how he might
put that land under good government upon behalf of the Lady Loise. To this
intent he chose from amongst those captives whom he had
liberated a certain very worthy honorable knight of Cornwall hight Sir
Segwarides. Him Sir Tristram appointed to be governor of that island, giving him
liberty to rule it as he chose saving only that he should do homage to the Lady
Loise as lady paramount. And Sir Tristram ordained that Sir Segwarides should
pay tribute to that lady every year such an amount as should be justly
determined upon betwixt them. For Sir Tristram wist that some strong worthy
knight should rule that island, or else, from its position, it might again some
time fall from the Lady Loise's possession into the hands of such an evil and
malignant overlord as Sir Nabon had been.
So it was done as Sir Tristram had ordained. And it may here be said that Sir
Segwarides ruled that land very justly and that he and the Lady Loise became
dear friends, so that at the end of three years from that time he and she were
made husband and wife.
Now Sir Tristram remained in that island several days, with intent to see to
it that the power of Sir Segwarides should be established. And he made all the
people of that land come before Sir Segwarides for to pledge obedience to him.
Amongst these came Sir Lamorack in the guise of a swineherd, and Sir Tristram
knew him not, because that he was clad in rags and in the skins of animals and
because that his beard and his hair were uncut and unkempt, and hung down very
shaggy upon his breast. But Sir Lamorack knew Sir Tristram yet would not
acknowledge him, being ashamed that Sir Tristram should discover him in such a
guise and so ragged and forlorn as he then was. So he kept his eyes from Sir
Tristram, and Sir Tristram passed him by and knew him not.
But amongst other of the people of the castle that passed before Sir
Tristram, there came a woman, very fair to look upon, and she had been a
house-slave to Sir Nabon. As this woman passed before Sir Tristram, he beheld that she wore upon
her thumb a very fair and shining ring, that bare a green stone set in wrought
gold. And when he looked again he saw it was that ring of carven emerald that he
had given to Sir Lamorack as aforetold.
At this Sir Tristram was astonished beyond measure, and he ordered that woman
to come before him, and she came and stood before him trembling. Then Sir
Tristram said: "Fear not, but tell me where got ye that ring that I behold upon
your hand?" And the woman said: "Lord, I will tell you the very truth. My husband
is the chief fisherman of this place, and one day,
some while ago, he gave me this ring when I had favor in his sight."
Sir Tristram said, "Where is your husband?" The slave-woman said, "Yonder he
stands." Then Sir Tristram said: "Come hither, Sirrah!" And therewith the
fisherman came and stood before Sir Tristram as his wife had done, and he also
trembled with fear as she had done.
To him Sir Tristram said, "Why do you tremble so?" And the fisherman said,
"Lord, I am afeard!" Sir Tristram said: "Have no fear, unless you have done wrong, but tell me
the truth. Where got ye that ring that yonder woman weareth?" "Lord," said the
fisherman, "I will tell you the perfect truth. One day I and several of my
fellows found a man lying naked in a bed of heather near the seaside. At first
we thought he was dead, but he awoke and arose when he heard our voices. He was
naked and hungry, and he besought us for clothes to cover his nakedness and for
food to eat. So we gave him what we could, demanding that ring in payment. So he
gave the ring tome, who am the chief of the fishermen, and I gave it to that
woman who is my wife; and that, lord, is the very truth."
Then Sir Tristram was very much disturbed in mind, for he feared that it
might have gone ill with Sir Lamorack. And he said, "Where now is that man of
whom ye speak?" The fisherman replied: "Lord, he was set to keep the swine, and
he is the swineherd of the castle to this day."
At this Sir Tristram was very glad that no more ill had befallen Sir
Lamorack, and that he was yet alive.
Then, after the fisherman had departed from that place, Sir Tristram sat for
a while sunk into deep thought. And he said to himself: "Alas, that so noble a
knight should be brought to such a pass as that! How greatly must my friend be
abased when he would not acknowledge himself to me nor claim my assistance
because of the shame of his appearance! Meseems it is not fitting for me to send
for him to come to me in the guise which he now wears, for it would be
discourteous a thing for me to do, to make him so declare himself. So first I
shall see to it that he is clothed in such a manner as shall be fitting to his
high estate, and then haply he will be willing to make himself manifest to me.
After that, perhaps his love will return to me again, and remain with me as it
was at first."
So Sir Tristram called to him several of the people of that castle, and he
bade them do certain things according to his command, and straightway they
departed to do as he ordained.
Now turn we to Sir Lamorack: whilst he sat keeping watch over his swine there
came to him four men from the castle. These say to him, "You must come
straightway with us." Sir Lamorack said, "Whither would you take me?" They say:
"That we are not permitted to tell you, only that you are to go with us as we
So Sir Lamorack arose and went with those four, much wondering what it was
that was to befall him, and whether that which was to happen was good or evil.
The four men brought him to the castle and they entered in thereat, and they
escorted Sir Lamorack, still greatly wondering, up the stairway of the castle,
and so into a noble and stately apartment, hung with tapestries and embroidered
hangings. And there Sir Lamorack beheld a great bath of tepid water, hung within
and without with linen. There were at this place several attendants; these took
Sir Lamorack and unclothed him and brought him to the bath, and bathed him and
dried him with soft linen and with fine towels. Then there came the barber and
he shaved Sir Lamorack and clipped his hair, and when he was thus bathed and
trimmed, his nobility shone forth again as the sun shines forth from a thick
cloud that hides its effulgence for a while, only to withdraw so that the
glorious day-star may shine forth again with redoubled splendor.
Then there came divers other attendants and clothed Sir Lamorack in rich and
handsome garments such as were altogether fitting for a knight-royal to wear.
And after that there came several esquires and brought a very splendid suit of
armor; and they clad Sir Lamorack in that armor; and the armor gleamed as bright
as daylight, being polished to a wonderful clearness, and inlaid with figures of
Then Sir Lamorack said, "What means all this that ye do to me?" And they
said, "Wait, Messire, and you shall see."
So after all these things were done, five other esquires
appeared to conduct Sir Lamorack away
from that place. These led him through several passages and hallways until at
last they came to a great space of hall wherein stood a single man; and that man
was Sir Tristram.
And Sir Tristram gazed upon Sir Lamorack and his heart yearned over him with
great loving-kindness. But he would not betray his love to those who had come
with Sir Lamorack, so he contained himself for a little, and he said to those in
attendance, "Get ye gone," and straightway they departed.
Then Sir Lamorack lifted up his eyes and he came to where Sir Tristram
was standing and he said: "Is it thou, Tristram, who hath bestowed all these
benefits upon me?" And he said: "From thy nobility of soul such things may be
Then Sir Tristram wept for joy, and he said: "Lamorack, it is little that I
have done to pleasure thee, and much that I have done to affront thee." Then Sir Lamorack said: "Nay; it
is much that thou hast done to comfort me, and little to cause me discomfort.
For lo! thou hast uplifted me from misery into happiness, and thou hast brought
me from nakedness and want into prosperity and ease, and what more may one man
do for another man than that?"
"Lamorack," said Sir Tristram, "there is much more than one man may do for
another man than that. For if one man hath given offence to another man, he may
be reconciled to that one so offended, and so the soul of that other shall be
clothed with peace and joy, even as thy body hath been clothed with garments of
silk and fine linen." Then Sir Tristram took Sir Lamorack by the hand, and he
said, "Dear friend, art thou now strong and fresh of body?" And Sir Lamorack,
greatly wondering, said, "Ay."
"Then," said Sir Tristram, "I may now offer thee reparation for that offence
which I one time unwillingly committed against thee. For lo! I have had thee
clad in the best armor that it is possible to provide, and now that thou art
fresh and hale and strong, I am ready to do battle with thee at any time thou
mayst assign. For if, before, thou wert overcome because thou wert weary with
battle, now thou mayst prove thy prowess upon me being both strong and sound in
wind and limb."
But upon this Sir Lamorack ran to Sir Tristram and catched him in his arms
and kissed him upon the cheek. And he said: "Tristram, thou art indeed a very
noble soul. I will do no battle with thee, but instead I will take thee into my
heart and cherish thee there forever."
Sir Tristram said, "Art thou altogether satisfied?" And Sir Lamorack said,
"Yea." And therewith Sir Tristram wept for pure joy.
Then Sir Tristram said: "Let us go to Sir Launcelot of the Lake, so that I
may make my peace with him also. For he hath writ me a letter chiding me for having done battle with
thee when thou wert weary and winded with fighting. And I was upon my way to see
Sir Launcelot and to plead my cause with him when I came hither by good hap, and
was able to uplift thee out of thy distress." To this Sir Lamorack said: "I will
go with thee to Sir Launcelot whenever it shall please thee; and I will bear
full testimony to thy knightliness and to thy courtesy."
So when the next morning had come they took boat and sailed away
from that island. And the night of that day they abided at the castle Of the
Lady Loise, who gave thanks without measure to Sir Tristram for ridding the
world of so wicked and malign a being as Sir Nabon, and for restoring her
inheritance of that land unto her again. And upon the morning of the next day
those two good knights betook their way to Camelot, where they found Sir
Launcelot. There Sir Lamorack exculpated Sir Tristram, and Sir Launcelot
immediately withdrew his rebuke for that battle which Sir Tristram had aforetime
done against Sir Lamorack.
After that Sir Tristram and Sir Lamorack abode at the court of King Arthur
for nigh a year, and during that time they went upon many quests and adventures
of various sorts--sometimes alone, sometimes together. All these have been set
down in ancient histories that tell of the adventures of Sir Tristram and Sir
Lamorack. Some of them I would like right well to tell you of, but should I
undertake to do so, the story of those happenings would fill several volumes
such as this. Nevertheless, I may tell you that they did together many knightly
deeds, the fame whereof hath been handed down to us in several histories of
chivalry. Therein you may read of those things if you should care to do so.
All this I leave to tell you how Sir Tristram returned into Cornwall, and
likewise to tell you of one more famous adventure that he did at this time.
Sir Tristram had been at the court of King Arthur for about a year when one
day there came a messenger unto the court at Camelot with news that Sir
Palamydes, the Saracen knight aforetold of in this history, had through a cunning trick
seized the Lady Belle Isoult and had carried her away to a lonely tower in the
forest of Cornwall. The messenger bore a letter from King Mark beseeching Sir
Tristram to return as immediately as possible unto Cornwall and to rescue that
lady from her captivity. And the letter further said that two knights of
Cornwall had already essayed to rescue the Lady Belle Isoult, but that they had
failed, having been overcome and sorely wounded in battle by Sir Palamydes. And
the letter said that it was acknowledged by all men that Sir Tristram was the
only knight of Cornwall who could achieve the rescue of Belle Isoult from so
wonderful and puissant a knight as Sir Palamydes.
So in answer to that letter, Sir Tristram immediately left the court of King
Arthur and returned in all haste to Cornwall, and there he found them all in
great perturbation that the Lady Belle Isoult had thus been stolen away.
But Sir Tristram did not remain at court very long for, after he had
obtained such information as he desired, he immediately left Tintagel and
plunged into the forest with Gouvernail as his companion in quest of that lonely
tower where Belle Isoult was said to be held prisoner.
After several adventures of no great note he came at last very, very deep
into the forest and into an open space thereof; and in the midst of that open
space he beheld a lonely tower surrounded by a moat. And he wist that that must
be the place where the Lady Belle Isoult was held prisoner.
But when Sir Tristram drew nigh to this tower he perceived a single
knight sitting at the base of the
tower with head hanging down upon his breast as though he were broken-hearted
with sorrow. And when he came still more nigh, Sir Tristram was astonished to
perceive that that mournful knight was Sir Palamydes the Saracen, and he
wondered why Sir Palamydes should be so broken-hearted.
And now it must be told why it was that Sir Palamydes came to be in such a
sorry case as that; for the truth was that he was locked and shut outside of the
tower, whilst the Lady Belle Isoult was shut and locked inside thereof.
Now it hath already been told how the letter of King Mark had said to Sir
Tristram that two knights of Cornwall went both against Sir Palamydes for to
challenge him and to rescue the Lady Belle Isoult.
The second of these knights was Sir Adthorp, and he had followed Sir
Palamydes so closely through the forest that he had come to the forest tower not
more than an hour after Sir Palamydes had brought the Lady Belle Isoult thither.
Therewith Sir Adthorp gave
loud challenge to Sir Palamydes to come forth and do him battle, and therewith
Sir Palamydes came immediately out against him, full of anger that Sir Adthorp
should have meddled in that affair.
But immediately Sir Palamydes had thus issued forth to do battle with Sir
Adthorp, the Lady Belle Isoult ran down the tower stairs and immediately shut
the door through which he had passed, and she locked it and set a great bar of
oak across the door.
So when Sir Palamydes had overthrown the Cornish knight, and when he would
have returned to the tower, he could not, for lo! it was fastened against him. So now for three days he
had set there at the foot of the tower and beside the moat, sunk in sorrow like
to one who had gone out of his mind.
So Sir Tristram found him, and perceiving that it was Sir Palamydes who was
sitting there, he said to Gouvernail: "Go thou and bid that knight to come and
do battle with me."
So Gouvernail went to Sir Palamydes and he said: "Sir, arise, for here is a
knight would speak with you!" But Sir Palamydes would not move, Then Gouvernail
touched him with his lance, and said: "Sir Palamydes, arise and bestir yourself,
for here is Sir Tristram come to do battle with you." With that, Sir Palamydes
awoke from his stupor and arose very slowly and stiffly. And he gathered up his
helmet which was lying beside him and put it upon his head. Then he took down
his shield from where it hung against the wall and he mounted upon his horse,
doing all as though he were moving in a dream.
But as soon as he was upon horseback he suddenly aroused himself, for his
fierce spirit had come back to him once more. Then he gnashed his teeth, crying
out in a loud voice, "Tristram, this time either thou or I shall perish."
Therewith he rushed upon Sir Tristram and smote him so violently that Sir
Tristram had much ado to defend himself. And Sir Palamydes smote him again and
again; and with that Sir Tristram smote in return. And if the blows of Sir
Palamydes were terrible, the blows of Sir Tristram were terrible likewise. Then
by and by Sir Tristram smote Sir Palamydes so sore a buffet that the Saracen
knight fell down from his horse and was unable immediately to arise. Then Sir
Tristram ran to him and rushed off his helmet and catched him by the hair with
intent to cut his head from off his body.
But with that the Lady Belle Isoult came running from out the tower and cried
out: "Tristram, is it thou? Spare that mistaken knight and have mercy upon him
as thou hopest for mercy."
"Lady," said Sir Tristram, "for thy sake and at thy bidding I will spare
him." Then he said to Sir Palamydes, "Arise." And Sir Palamydes arose very
painfully, and Sir Tristram said: "Get thee hence, and go to the court of King
Arthur and make thy confession to the King and ask him to forgive thee, and if
he forgive thee, then also I will forgive thee."
Therewith Sir Palamydes mounted upon his horse and rode away without speaking
another word, his head bowed with sorrow upon his breast for shame and despair.
Then Sir Tristram took the Lady Belle Isoult up behind him on his horse, and
he and she and Gouvernail departed from that place.
So Sir Tristram brought the Lady Isoult back to Cornwall, and there he was received with
loud praise and great rejoicing, for everybody was glad that Belle Isoult had
been brought safely back again.
And now it shall be told what reward Sir Tristram received for this deed of arms.
For, though at first King Mark was greatly beholden to Sir Tristram, that he
had thus rescued the Lady Belle Isoult, yet, by little and little, he grew to
hate that noble knight more bitterly than ever. For he heard men say to one
another: "Lo, Sir Tristram is, certes, the very champion of Cornwall, for who is
there in this country is his equal?" So King Mark, hearing these things said to
himself: "The more noble Tristram is, the more ignoble will men deem me to be
who am under obligations to such an enemy." So he would say in his heart, "Yea,
Tristram; I hate thee more than death."