Tristan and Iseult: The dwarf Frocin

Here is the translation of the Roman de Tristan et Iseult of 1900 by Joseph Bedier. Here is the seventh part: The dwarf Frocin.

The dwarf Frocin

The dwarf Frocin

King Mark made his peace with Tristan. He gave him leave to return to the castle, and, as before, Tristan slept in the king's chamber among the private and the faithful. At will, he can enter it, he can leave it: the king no longer cares about it. But who can long keep their love affairs secret?

Mark had forgiven the felons, and as Seneschal Dinas of Lidan had one day found in a distant forest, wandering and miserable, the hunchbacked dwarf, he brought him back to the king, who had pity and forgave him his misdeed.

But his kindness only aroused the hatred of the barons; having again surprised Tristan and the queen, they bound themselves by this oath: if the king did not drive his nephew out of the country, they would retire to their strong castles to fight him. They called the king to parliament:

"Lord, love us, hate us, your choice: but we want you to drive out Tristan. He loves the queen, and sees him who wants; but we will no longer suffer it. "

The king hears them, sighs, lowers his forehead to the ground, is silent.

"No, king, we will not suffer it any longer, for we now know that this once strange news is no longer to surprise you and that you consent to their crime." What will you do ? Deliberate and take advice. For us, if you do not remove your nephew without return, we will retire to our baronies and we will also drag our neighbors out of your court, because we cannot bear them staying there. Phone is the choice we offer you; choose therefore!

- Lords, once I believed in the ugly words you said of Tristan, and I repented of it. But you are my fairies, and I do not want to lose the service of my men. So advise me, I ask you, you who owe me the advice. You know very well that I avoid all pride and excess.

- So, lord, send here the dwarf Frocin. You distrust him for the adventure of the orchard. Yet hadn't he read in the stars that the queen would come that evening under the pine tree? He knows many things; take his advice. "

He came running up, the cursed hunchback, and Denoalen hugged him. Hear what treason he taught the king:

"Sire, command your nephew that tomorrow, at dawn, at a gallop, he rides towards Carduel to bring King Arthur a brief on parchment, well sealed with wax. King, Tristan is sleeping by your bed. Go outside from your room at the hour of the first sleep, and, I swear it to you by God and by the law of Rome, if he loves Iseut with mad love, he will want to come and speak to him before his departure; but, if he comes there without my knowing it and without you seeing it, then kill me. For the rest, let me do my own thing and be careful not to tell Tristan about this message before bedtime.

- Yes, answered Marc, so be it! "

So the dwarf made an ugly felony. He entered a baker's house and took him for four denarii of flour, which he hid in the lap of his dress. Ah! who would have ever thought of such a treachery? At nightfall, when the king had taken his meal and his men were asleep in the large room next to his room, Tristan came, as he was accustomed to, to King Mark's bedtime.

"Beautiful nephew, do my will: you will ride towards King Arthur until Carduel, and you will have him unfold this brief. Greet him for me and stay only one day with him.

- King, I'll wear it tomorrow.

- Yes, tomorrow, before daybreak. "

Here is Tristan in great turmoil. From his bed to Marc's bed there was indeed the length of a spear. A furious desire seized him to speak to the queen, and he promised himself in his heart that, towards dawn, if Marc slept, he would come closer to her. Ah! God ! crazy thought!

The dwarf slept, as was his custom, in the king's bedroom. When he thought that they were all asleep, he got up and spread the flower of flour between Tristan's bed and that of the queen: if one of the two lovers joined the other, the flour would keep the shape of his footsteps. But, as he scattered it around, Tristan, who was still awake, saw it:

"What to say? this dwarf is not in the habit of serving me for my own good; corn he will be disappointed: very crazy who would let him take the imprint of his footsteps! "

At midnight the king rose and went out, followed by the hunchbacked dwarf. It was dark in the room: no lighted candle, no lamp. Tristan stood up on his bed. God ! why did he have this thought? He puts his feet together, estimates the distance, leaps and falls back on the king's bed. Alas! the day before, in the forest, the ram of a large boar had grieved his leg, and, to his misfortune, the wound was not bandaged.

In the effort of this leap, it opens, bleeds, but Tristan does not see the leaking blood and reddens the sheets. And outside, at the moon, the dwarf, by his magic art, knew that the lovers were reunited. He trembled with joy and said to the king:

"Go, and now, if you don't catch them together, hang me!" "

They therefore come towards the room, the king, the dwarf and the four felons. But Tristan heard them: he gets up, rushes forward, reaches his bed… Alas! by the way, the blood badly sank from the wound onto the flour.

Here is the king, the barons, and the dwarf, who bears a light. Tristan and Iseut pretended to be asleep; they were left alone in the room, with Perinis, who slept at Tristan's feet and did not move. But the king saw the ruddy sheets on the bed and the flower of flour soaked in fresh blood on the floor.

So the four barons, who hated Tristan for his prowess, keep him on his bed, and threaten the queen and mock her, taunt her and promise her good justice. They find the bleeding wound:

“Tristan,” said the king, “no denial would be valid henceforth; you will die tomorrow. "

He shouts at her:

“Give me thanks, Lord! In the name of the God who suffered the Passion, Lord, have mercy on us!

- Lord, avenge yourself! Answer the felons.

“Beautiful uncle, it is not for me that I implore you; what do I care if I die? Certainly, were it not for the fear of angering you, I would sell this affront dearly to the cowards who, without your protection, would not have dared to touch my body with their hands; but, out of respect and for the love of you, I book at your mercy; do with me as you please. Here I am, lord, but pity the queen! »

And Tristan bows and humbles himself at his feet.

"Pity the queen, because if there is a man in your house bold enough to support this lie that I loved her with guilty love, he will find me standing before him in a closed field. Sire, thanks for her, in the name of the Lord God! "

But the three barons tied him in ropes, he and the queen. Ah! if he had known that he would not be admitted to prove his innocence in single combat, he would have been dismembered alive before he had suffered from being vilely bound.

But he trusted in God and knew that closed field no one would dare to brandish a weapon against him. And, of course, he just trusted in God. When he swore he had never loved the guilty love queen, the felons laughed at the insolent deception. But I am calling you, lords, you who know the truth of the potion drunk on the sea and who understand, was he telling a lie?

It is not the fact that proves the crime, but the judgment. Men see the fact, but God sees hearts, and he alone is true judge. He therefore instituted that any accused man could uphold his right by battle, and himself combat with the innocent. This is why Tristan demanded justice and battle and took care not to miss King Mark in any way. But if he could have foreseen what happened, he would have killed the felons. Ah! God ! why didn't he kill them?