The Madness of Sir Tristram
Here followeth the story of how Sir Tristram was driven out of Cornwall and of how he went mad because of his troubles. Likewise it shall be told how he performed several very wonderful adventures whilst he was in that state, and of how he was brought back into his senses again.
[Illustration: Sir Tristram assaults King Mark]
How Sir Tristram was discovered with the Lady Belle Isoult; how he assaulted King Mark, and how he escaped from Tintagel into the forest.
After Sir Tristram had thus rescued the Lady Belle Isoult from the hand of Sir Palamydes, he dwelt very peacefully at the court of Cornwall for all of that winter and until the spring that followed, and during that time he was given every meed of praise and honor. But although King Mark and his court gave praise to Sir Tristram with the lips, yet he and many of his people hated Sir Tristram at heart, and there were many mischief-makers about the court who were ever ready to blow the embers of the King’s wrath into a flame.
Now the chiefest of all these mischief-makers was Sir Andred, who was nephew unto King Mark, and cousin-germaine unto Sir Tristram. Sir Andred was a fierce strong knight, and one very dextrous at arms; but he was as mean and as treacherous as Sir Tristram was generous and noble, wherefore he hated Sir Tristram with great bitterness (though he dissembled that hatred) and sought for every opportunity to do Sir Tristram a harm by bringing him and the King into conflict.
[Sidenote: Sir Andred of Cornwall sets spies upon Sir Tristram] So Sir Andred set spies upon Sir Tristram, and he himself spied upon his cousin, yet neither he nor they were able to find anything with which to accuse Sir Tristram. Then one day Sir Andred came to Sir Tristram and said: “Sir, the Lady Belle Isoult wishes to see you to talk with you.” Sir Tristram said, “Where is she?”
And Sir Andred said, “She is in her bower.” Then Sir Tristram said, “Very well, I will go to her.”
So Sir Tristram arose and departed from where he was with intent to find the lady; and therewith Sir Andred hurried to where King Mark was, and said: “Lord, arise, for Sir Tristram and the Lady Isoult are holding converse together.”
King Mark said, “Where are they?” And Sir Andred said, “They are in the bower of the Queen.” At that King Mark’s rage and jealousy blazed up into a flame, so that he was like one seized with a sudden frensy. So, in that madness of rage, he looked about for some weapon with which to destroy Sir Tristram, and he perceived a great sword where it hung against the wall. Thereupon he ran to the sword and took it down from where it was, and ran with all speed to that place where Sir Tristram and the Lady Isoult were, and Sir Andred guided him thither.