Tristan and Iseult: The Adventurous Ford

Here is the translation of the Roman de Tristan et Iseult of 1900 by Joseph Bedier. Here is the eleventh part: The Adventurous Ford.

The Adventurous Ford

The Adventurous Ford

Marc awakened his chaplain and handed him the letter. The clerk broke the wax and first saluted the king in the name of Tristan; then, having skilfully deciphered the written words, he reported to her what Tristan had told him. Marc listened to her without saying a word and rejoiced in his heart, for he still loved the queen.

He summoned by name the most valued of his barons, and when they were all assembled, they were silent and the king spoke:

“Lords, I have received this brief. I am king over you and you are my rascals. Listen to the things that are told to me; then, advise me, I ask you, since you owe me the advice. "

The chaplain rose, untied the writ with both hands, and, standing before the king:

“Lords,” he said, “Tristan first sends greetings and love to the king and all his barony. “King,” he adds, “when I had slain the dragon and conquered the daughter of the King of Ireland, it was given to me; I was in charge of keeping it, but I did not want it: I brought it to your country and delivered it to you. However, no sooner had you taken her for a wife, when the felons made you believe their lies. In your anger, beautiful uncle, my lord, you wanted to make us burn without judgment. But God was taken with compassion: we begged him, he saved the queen, and it was justice; I too, rushing from a high rock, escaped, by the power of God. what did I do since, that we can blame? The queen was delivered to the sick, I came to her rescue, I carried her away: could I therefore be missed in this need by the one who had almost died, innocent, because of me? I fled with her through the woods: could I then, to give her back to you, get out of the forest and go down into the plain? had you not ordered that we be taken dead or alive? But, today as then, I am ready, handsome sire, to give my pledge and to support against all comers by battle that the queen never had for me, nor I for the queen, of love which was one for you. insulted. Order the fight: I do not challenge any adversary, and, if I cannot prove my right, burn me in front of your men. But if I triumph and if it please you to resume Iseut with a clear face, none of your barons will serve you better than me; If, on the contrary, you don't care about my service, I will cross the sea, I will offer myself to the king of Gavoie or to the king of Friesland, and you will never hear talk about me. Sire, take advice, and if you do not agree to any agreement, I will bring Isolde back to Ireland, where I took it; she will be queen in her country. »

When the Cornish barons heard that Tristan was offering them battle, they all said to the king:

"Sire, continue the queen: it is fools who slandered her to you." As for Tristan, let him go, as he offers, to fight in Gavoie or near the King of Friesland. Ask him to bring Iseut to you, on such and such a day and soon. "

The king asked three times:

Doesn't anyone stand up to accuse Tristan? "

All were silent. So he said to the chaplain:

So keep it short as soon as possible; you have heard what to put there; Hurry to write it: Iseut suffered too much in his younger years! And let the charter hang from the Red Cross branch before tonight; be quick ! "

He added :

You will also say that I send them both greetings and love. "

Towards midnight, Tristan crossed the Blanche-Moor, found the brief, and brought it sealed to the hermit Ogrin. The hermit read him the letters: Mark consented, on the advice of all his barons, to retake Iseut, but not to keep Tristan as a bribe; for Tristan, he would have to cross the sea, when, three days later, at the Adventurous Ford, he would have handed the queen over to Marc.

" God ! said Tristan, what mourning to lose you, friend! It is necessary, however, since the suffering which you endure because of me, I can now spare you it. When the moment comes to separate us, I will give you a present, token of my love. From the unknown country where I am going, I will send you a messenger; he will tell me your desire again, friend, and, at the first call, from distant lands, I will run. "

Iseut sighed and said:

"Tristan, let me have Husdent, your dog." No price sleuth has ever been held in greater pride. When I see it, I will remember you and be less sad. Friend, I have a ring of green jasper, take it for the love of me, wear it on your finger: if ever a messenger claims to come from you, I will not believe it, no matter what he does or let him say, until he shows me that ring. But, as soon as I see it, no power, no royal defense, will prevent me from doing what you have told me to do, whether it be wisdom or folly.

- Friend, I give you Husdent.

- Friend, take this ring as a reward. "

And both kissed each other on the lips.

Now, leaving the lovers in the hermitage, Ogrin had walked on his crutch as far as the Mount; there he bought vair, gray, ermine, sheets of silk, purple and scarlet, and a chainse whiter than fleur-de-lis, and again a palfrey harnessed in gold, which ambled gently. People laughed at seeing him dispense, for these strange and magnificent purchases, his money which had long been collected; but the old man loaded the rich stuff on the palfrey and returned to Iseut:

“Queen, your clothes are falling apart; accept these presents, so that you will be more beautiful the day you go to the Adventurous Ford; I fear they will displease you: I am no expert at choosing such attire. "

However, the king made shouts through the Cornwall the news that three days later, at the Ford Aventureux, he would make an agreement with the queen. Ladies and knights came in crowds to this assembly; everyone wanted to see Queen Isolde again, everyone loved her, except the three felons who still survived.

But of these three, one will die by the sword, the other will perish pierced by an arrow, the other drowned; and, as for the forester, Perinis the Frank, the Blond, will knock him out with his stick in the woods. So God, who hates all excess, will avenge the lovers of their enemies!

On the day designated for the assembly, at the Adventurous Ford, the meadow shone in the distance, all tended and adorned with the rich tents of the barons. In the forest, Tristan rode with Iseut, and, for fear of a snare, he had put on his hauberk under his rags. Suddenly, both appeared at the threshold of the forest and saw in the distance, among the barons, King Mark.

“Friend,” said Tristan, “here is the king your lord, his knights and his bribes; they come to us; in a moment we won't be able to talk to each other. By the mighty and glorious God, I beseech you: if I ever send you a message, do as I tell you!

- Friend Tristan, as soon as I see the green jasper ring again, neither tower, nor wall, nor strong castle will prevent me from doing my friend's will.

- Iseut, may God be grateful to you! "

Their two horses were walking side by side: he drew her towards him and hugged her in his arms.

“Friend,” said Iseut, “hear my last prayer: you are going to leave this country; at least wait a few days; hide yourself, as long as you know how the king treats me, in his anger or his kindness!… I am alone: who will defend me from the felons? I am scared ! Forester Orri will give you a secret shelter; slip into the ruined cellar at night: I'll send Perinis there to tell you if no one is mistreating me.

- Friend, no one will dare. I will remain hidden with Orri: whoever insults you, let him beware of me as of the Enemy! "

The two troops had come close enough to exchange their salutes. Within an arc's reach in front of his family, the king rode boldly; with him, Dinas de Lidan.

When the barons had joined him, Tristan, holding the palfrey of Iseut by the reins, greeted the king and said:

"King, I return Iseut the Blonde to you. Before the men of your land, I ask you to admit me to defend myself in your court. I have never been judged. Make me justify myself by battle: vanquished, burn me in sulfur; conqueror, keep me close to you; or, if you don't want to hold me back, I'll go to a distant land. "

No one accepted Tristan's challenge. Then, Mark, in his turn, took Iseut's palfrey by the reins, and, entrusting her to Dinas, stepped aside to take advice.

Merry, Dinas did the queen many honor and many courtesy. He took off her lavish scarlet cap, and her body appeared graceful under the fine tunic and large silk bliaut. And the queen smiled at the memory of the old hermit, who had not spared his money. Her dress is rich, her limbs delicate, her eyes wide, her hair as light as rays of the sun.

When the felons saw her as beautiful and honored as of old, irritated, they rode towards the king. At this time, a baron, André de Nicole, tried to persuade him:

“Sire,” he said, “keep Tristan close to you; you will be, thanks to him, a more feared king. "

And, little by little, he softened Marc's heart. But the felons came against and said:

“King, listen to the advice we give you in loyalty. They have spoken ill of the queen; wrongly, we grant it to you; but if she and Tristan return to your court together, we'll talk about it again. Instead, let Tristan go away for a while; one day, no doubt, you will call him back. "

Marc did so: he ordered his barons to leave Tristan without delay. So, Tristan came to the queen and said goodbye to her. They looked at each other. The queen was ashamed of the assembly and blushed.

But the king was moved with pity, and, speaking to his nephew for the first time:

"Where will you go, under these rags?" Take what you want from my treasure, gold, silver, vair and gray.

'King,' said Tristan, 'I will take neither a denarius nor a mesh. As best I can, I will go and serve the rich King of Friesland to great joy. "

He turned around and went down towards the sea. Iseut followed him with his gaze, and, so long as she could see him in the distance, did not turn away.

At the news of the agreement, young and old, men, women and children flocked out of the city to meet Iseut; and, in deep mourning for Tristan's exile, they were celebrating their rediscovered queen. At the sound of the bells, through the well-strewn streets, embellished with silk, the king, the counts and the princes made him procession; the doors of the palace were opened to all comers; rich and poor alike were able to sit down and eat, and, to celebrate this day, Mark, having freed a hundred of his serfs, gave the sword and the hauberk to twenty bachelors whom he armed with his hand.

However, when night comes, Tristan, like he had promised it to the queen, slipped into the forester Orri, who secretly lodged him in the ruined cellar. Let the felons beware!