Le Morte d'Arthur BOOK X CHAPTER XXVIII

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CHAPTER XXVIII

How Sir Tristram was hurt, and of a war made to King
Mark; and of Sir Tristram how he promised to rescue
him.


NOW turn we again unto Sir Tristram and to King Mark.
As Sir Tristram was at jousts and at tournament it fortuned
he was sore hurt both with a spear and with a sword, but
yet he won always the degree.  And for to repose him he
went to a good knight that dwelled in Cornwall, in a castle,
whose name was Sir Dinas le Seneschal.  Then by misfortune
there came out of Sessoin a great number of men of
arms, and an hideous host, and they entered nigh the Castle
of Tintagil; and their captain's name was Elias, a good
man of arms.  When King Mark understood his enemies
were entered into his land he made great dole and sorrow,
for in no wise by his will King Mark would not send for
Sir Tristram, for he hated him deadly.

So when his council was come they devised and cast
many perils of the strength of their enemies.  And then they
concluded all at once, and said thus unto King Mark:  Sir,
wit ye well ye must send for Sir Tristram, the good knight,
or else they will never be overcome.  For by Sir Tristram
they must be foughten withal, or else we row against the
stream.  Well, said King Mark, I will do by your counsel;
but yet he was full loath thereto, but need constrained him
to send for him.  Then was he sent for in all haste that
might be, that he should come to King Mark.  And when
he understood that King Mark had sent for him, he
mounted upon a soft ambler and rode to King Mark.
And when he was come the king said thus:  Fair nephew
Sir Tristram, this is all.  Here be come our enemies of
Sessoin, that are here nigh hand, and without tarrying they
must be met with shortly, or else they will destroy this
country.  Sir, said Sir Tristram, wit ye well all my power
is at your commandment.  And wit ye well, sir, these
eight days I may bear none arms, for my wounds be not
yet whole.  And by that day I shall do what I may.  Ye
say well, said King Mark; then go ye again and repose
you and make you fresh, and I shall go and meet the
Sessoins with all my power.

So the king departed unto Tintagil, and Sir Tristram
went to repose him.  And the king made a great host
and departed them in three; the first part led Sir Dinas
the Seneschal, and Sir Andred led the second part, and Sir
Argius led the third part; and he was of the blood of
King Mark.  And the Sessoins had three great battles,
and many good men of arms.  And so King Mark by the
advice of his knights issued out of the Castle of Tintagil
upon his enemies.  And Dinas, the good knight, rode out
afore, and slew two knights with his own hands, and then
began the battles.  And there was marvellous breaking of
spears and smiting of swords, and slew down many good
knights.  And ever was Sir Dinas the Seneschal the best
of King Mark's party.  And thus the battle endured long
with great mortality.  But at the last King Mark and Sir
Dinas, were they never so loath, they withdrew them to
the Castle of Tintagil with great slaughter of people; and
the Sessoins followed on fast, that ten of them were put
within the gates and four slain with the portcullis.

Then King Mark sent for Sir Tristram by a varlet,
that told him all the mortality.  Then he sent the varlet
again, and bade him:  Tell King Mark that I will come as
soon as I am whole, for erst I may do him no good.  Then
King Mark had his answer.  Therewith came Elias and
bade the king yield up the castle:  For ye may not hold
it no while.  Sir Elias, said the king, so will I yield up the
castle if I be not soon rescued.  Anon King Mark sent
again for rescue to Sir Tristram.  By then Sir Tristram
was whole, and he had gotten him ten good knights of
Arthur's; and with them he rode unto Tintagil.  And
when he saw the great host of Sessoins he marvelled wonder
greatly.  And then Sir Tristram rode by the woods and
by the ditches as secretly as he might, till he came nigh
the gates.  And there dressed a knight to him when he
saw that Sir Tristram would enter; and Sir Tristram
smote him down dead, and so he served three more.  And
everych of these ten knights slew a man of arms.  So
Sir Tristram entered into the Castle of Tintagil.  And
when King Mark wist that Sir Tristram was come he was
glad of his coming, and so was all the fellowship, and of
him they made great joy.