Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER XXVI
Legends and Sagas
How King Arthur, the Queen, and Launcelot received letters
out of Cornwall, and of the answer again.
NOW leave we Sir Palomides and Sir Dinadan in the Castle
of Beale-Valet, and turn we again unto King Arthur.
There came a knight out of Cornwall, his name was Fergus,
a fellow of the Round Table. And there he told the king
and Sir Launcelot good tidings of Sir Tristram, and there
were brought goodly letters, and how he left him in the
castle of Tintagil. Then came the damosel that brought
goodly letters unto King Arthur and unto Sir Launcelot,
and there she had passing good cheer of the king, and of
the Queen Guenever, and of Sir Launcelot. Then they
wrote goodly letters again. But Sir Launcelot bade ever
Sir Tristram beware of King Mark, for ever he called him
in his letters King Fox, as who saith, he fareth all with
wiles and treason. Whereof Sir Tristram in his heart
thanked Sir Launcelot. Then the damosel went unto La
Beale Isoud, and bare her letters from the king and from
Sir Launcelot, whereof she was in passing great joy. Fair
damosel, said La Beale Isoud, how fareth my Lord Arthur,
and the Queen Guenever, and the noble knight, Sir
Launcelot? She answered, and to make short tale: Much
the better that ye and Sir Tristram be in joy. God reward
them, said La Beale Isoud, for Sir Tristram suffereth great
pain for me, and I for him.
So the damosel departed, and brought letters to King
Mark. And when he had read them, and understood
them, he was wroth with Sir Tristram, for he deemed that
he had sent the damosel unto King Arthur. For Arthur
and Launcelot in a manner threated King Mark. And
as King Mark read these letters he deemed treason by Sir
Tristram. Damosel, said King Mark, will ye ride again
and bear letters from me unto King Arthur? Sir, she
said, I will be at your commandment to ride when ye will.
Ye say well, said the king; come again, said the king,
to-morn, and fetch your letters. Then she departed and told
them how she should ride again with letters unto Arthur.
Then we pray you, said La Beale Isoud and Sir Tristram,
that when ye have received your letters, that ye would
come by us that we may see the privity of your letters.
All that I may do, madam, ye wot well I must do for Sir
Tristram, for I have been long his own maiden.
So on the morn the damosel went to King Mark to
have had his letters and to depart. I am not avised, said
King Mark, as at this time to send my letters. Then
privily and secretly he sent letters unto King Arthur, and
unto Queen Guenever, and unto Sir Launcelot. So the
varlet departed, and found the king and the queen in
Wales, at Carlion. And as the king and the queen were
at mass the varlet came with the letters. And when mass
was done the king and the queen opened the letters privily
by themself. And the beginning of the king's letters
spake wonderly short unto King Arthur, and bade him
entermete with himself and with his wife, and of his
knights; for he was able enough to rule and keep his