Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK IX CHAPTER XX
Legends and Sagas
How it was noised how Sir Tristram was dead, and how
La Beale Isoud would have slain herself.
THEN Sir Andred, that was cousin unto Sir Tristram, made a lady
that was his paramour to say and to noise it that she was with
Sir Tristram or ever he died. And this tale she brought unto
King Mark's court, that she buried him by a well, and that or he
died he besought King Mark to make his cousin, Sir Andred, king
of the country of Liones, of the which Sir Tristram was lord of.
All this did Sir Andred because he would have had Sir Tristram's
lands. And when King Mark heard tell that Sir Tristram was dead
he wept and made great dole. But when Queen Isoud heard of these
tidings she made such sorrow that she was nigh out of her mind;
and so upon <385>a day she thought to slay herself and never to
live after Sir Tristram's death. And so upon a day La Beale
Isoud gat a sword privily and bare it to her garden, and there
she pight the sword through a plum tree up to the hilt, so that
it stuck fast, and it stood breast high. And as she would have
run upon the sword and to have slain herself all this espied King
Mark, how she kneeled down and said: Sweet Lord Jesu, have mercy
upon me, for I may not live after the death of Sir Tristram de
Liones, for he was my first love and he shall be the last. And
with these words came King Mark and took her in his arms, and
then he took up the sword, and bare her away with him into a
tower; and there he made her to be kept, and watched her surely,
and after that she lay long sick, nigh at the point of death.
This meanwhile ran Sir Tristram naked in the forest with the
sword in his hand, and so he came to an hermitage, and there he
laid him down and slept; and in the meanwhile the hermit stole
away his sword, and laid meat down by him. Thus was he kept
there ten days; and at the last he departed and came to the
herdmen again. And there was a giant in that country that hight
Tauleas, and for fear of Sir Tristram more than seven year he
durst never much go at large, but for the most part he kept him
in a sure castle of his own; and so this Tauleas heard tell that
Sir Tristram was dead, by the noise of the court of King Mark.
Then this Tauleas went daily at large. And so he happed upon a
day he came to the herdmen wandering and langering, and there he
set him down to rest among them. The meanwhile there came a
knight of Cornwall that led a lady with him, and his name was Sir
Dinant; and when the giant saw him he went from the herdmen and
hid him under a tree, and so the knight came to that well, and
there he alighted to repose him. And as soon as he was from his
horse this giant Tauleas came betwixt this knight and his horse,
and took the horse and leapt upon him. So forthwith he rode unto
Sir Dinant and took him by the collar, and pulled him afore him
upon his horse, and there would <386>have stricken off his head.
Then the herdmen said unto Sir Tristram: Help yonder knight.
Help ye him, said Sir Tristram. We dare not, said the herdmen.
Then Sir Tristram was ware of the sword of the knight thereas it
lay; and so thither he ran and took up the sword and struck off
Sir Tauleas' head, and so he yede his way to the herdmen.