Tristan and Iseult: Kaherdin

Here is the translation of the Roman de Tristan et Iseult of 1900 by Joseph Bedier. Here is the sixteenth part: Kaherdin.



A few days later, Duke Hoël, his seneschal and all his hunters, Tristan, Iseut aux Blanches Mains and Kaherdin together left the castle to hunt in the forest. On a narrow road, Tristan rode to the left of Kaherdin, who with his right hand held the stable of Iseut with the White Hands by the reins. However, the palfrey stumbled in a puddle of water. His hoof made the water splash so strongly under Iseut's clothes that it was all wet and felt the coldness higher than his knee. She uttered a light cry, and with a spur lifted her horse, laughing with a laugh so loud and clear that Kaherdin, poignant after her and having joined her, asked him:

"Sister-in-law, why are you laughing?

- For a thought that occurred to me, brother-in-law. When this water gushed towards me, I said to him: “Water, you are more daring than the daring Tristan ever was! That's what I laughed at. But already I have spoken too much, brother, and I regret it. "

Kaherdin, astonished, pressed her so strongly that she finally told him the truth of her wedding.

So Tristan joined them, and all three rode in silence to the hunting lodge. There Kaherdin called Tristan to parliament, and said to him:

“Sire Tristan, my sister confessed to me the truth of her wedding. I held you as a peer and a companion. But you have distorted your faith and despised my relatives. From now on, if you don't do me right, know that I challenge you. "

Tristan answered him:

“Yes, I came among you to your misfortune. But learn of my misery, beautiful sweet friend, brother and companion, and perhaps your heart will be soothed. Know that I have another Iseut, more beautiful than all women, who suffered and who still suffers for me many sorrows. Certainly your sister loves and honors me; but, for the love of me, the other Iseut treats with even more honor than your sister treats me, a dog that I gave to him. Come ; let us quit this hunt, follow me where I will lead you; I will tell you the misery of my life. "

Tristan turned bridle and broached his horse. Kaherdin followed his tracks. Without a word, they ran to the depths of the forest. There, Tristan revealed his life to Kaherdin. He tells how, on the sea, he had drunk love and death; he speaks of the treachery of the barons and of the dwarf, the queen led to the stake, delivered to the lepers, and their loves in the wild forest; how he had returned it to King Mark, and how, having fled from him, he had wanted to love Iseut aux Blanches Mains; how he knew now that he could neither live nor die without the queen.

Kaherdin is silent and astonished. He feels her anger which in spite of himself subsides.

“Friend,” he said at last, “I hear wonderful words, and you have moved my heart to pity: for you have endured such sorrows which God keep each and every one! Let's go back to Carhaix: on the third day, if I can, I will tell you my thoughts. "

In her room, in Tintagel, Iseut the Blonde sighs because of Tristan whom she calls. To love him always, she has no other thought, no other hope, no other wanting. In him is all her desire, and for two years she has known nothing about him. Where is he ? in which country? does he only live?

In his room, Iseut the Blonde is seated, and makes a sad lay of love. She tells how Guron was surprised and killed for the love of the lady he loved over everything, and how by cunning the count gave Guron's heart to eat to his wife, and her grief.

The queen sings softly; she gives her voice to the harp. The hands are beautiful, the lay good, the tone low and the voice gentle.

Now, Kariado, a wealthy count from a distant island, comes along. He had come to Tintagel to offer the Queen his service, and several times since Tristan left he had asked her for love. But the queen rejected her request and held it madly. He was a handsome knight, proud and proud, well grasped, but he was better in the ladies' rooms than in battle. He found Iseut, who was doing his lay. He said to her, laughing:

"Lady, what a sad song, sad as that of the orchard! Don't we say that the orrass sings to announce death? No doubt it is my death that your lay announces: for I am dying for the love of you!

- Very well, said Iseut to him. I want my song to mean your death, because you never came here without bringing me painful news. It is you who have always been a silversmith or a cat-boo to slander Tristan. Today, what bad news will you tell me again? "

Kariado answered him:

Queen, you are irritated, and I do not know why; but very madman who is moved by your words! Whatever happens to the death that the orfray announces to me, here is the bad news that the owlcat brings you: Tristan, your friend, is lost for you, Lady Iseult. He took a wife in another land. From now on, you will be able to provide for yourself elsewhere, because he disdains your love. He took a wife with great honor, Iseult aux Blanches Mains, the daughter of the Duke of Brittany. "

Kariado leaves, angered. Iseut la Blonde lowers his head and begins to cry.

On the third day, Kaherdin calls Tristan:

“Friend, I took advice from my heart. Yes, if you have told me the truth, the life you lead in this land is forsennery and madness, and no good can result from it either for you or for my sister Iseut aux Blanches Mains. So hear my words. We will sail together towards Tintagel; you will see the queen again, and you will test whether she still regrets you and gives you faith. If she has forgotten you, then perhaps you will have dearer Iseut my sister, the simple, the beautiful. I will follow you: am I not your peer and your companion?

'Brother,' said Tristan, 'they say well: A man's heart is worth all the gold of a country. "

Soon, Tristan and Kaherdin took the staff and the cope of the pilgrims, as if they wanted to visit the holy bodies in distant lands. They took leave of Duke Hoel. Tristan led Gorvenal, and Kaherdin a single squire. Secretly, they equipped a ship and sailed towards the Cornwall.

The wind was light and good for them, as long as they landed one morning, before dawn, not far from Tintagel, in a deserted cove, near the castle of Lidan. There, no doubt, Dinas de Lidan, the good seneschal, would lodge them and would know how to hide their coming.

At dawn, the two companions were climbing towards Lidan, when they saw a man coming behind them who was following the same road, at a slow pace of his horse. They threw themselves into the woods, but the man passed without seeing them, for he was dozing in the saddle. Tristan recognized him:

“Brother,” he whispered to Kaherdin, “it's Dinas de Lidan himself. He is sleeping. No doubt he is returning from his friend's house and still dreams of her: it would not be courteous to wake her up, but follow me from afar. "

He rejoined Dinas, gently took his horse by the bridle, and walked noiselessly alongside him. Finally, a stumble on the horse awakened the sleeper. He opens his eyes, sees Tristan, hesitates:

"It's you, it's you, Tristan!" God bless the hour when I see you again: I have waited so long for it!

- Friend, God save you! What news will you tell me about the queen?

- Alas! hard news. The king cherishes her and wants to celebrate her; but since your exile she languishes and cries for you. Ah! why come back to her? Do you still want to seek her death and yours? Tristan, have mercy on the queen, leave her to her rest!

- Friend, said Tristan, give me a gift: hide me from Lidan, take my message to her and let me see her once, only once! "

Dinas replied:

"I pity my lady, and only want to send your message if I know that she is dear to you above all women."

- Ah! sire, tell her that she has remained dear to me above all women, and it will be true.

- So, follow me, Tristan; I will help you in your need. "

In Lidan, the seneschal lodged Tristan, Gorvenal, Kaherdin and his squire, and when Tristan had told him point by point the adventure of his life, Dinas went to Tintagel to inquire about the news of the court. He learned that three days later, Queen Iseut, King Mark, all his household, all his squires and all his huntsmen would leave Tintagel to settle at the Chateau de la Blanche-Lande, where great hunts were being prepared. So Tristan confided to the seneschal his ring of green jasper and the message he was to repeat to the queen.