Again Tristan and Isolt had overcome their tribulation, and were at ease in the court, while the court again paid them full honor, according them their highest renown. They enjoyed again the confidence of Marke, lord to both of them. They also took great precautions. Whenever they were not safely able to enjoy each other's company, the desire to do so served as recompense for true lovers. Just looking forward to the ways by which might be accomplished that which the heart longs for always inspires the heart with lust for life and new power. This is intimacy at its best, replenishing both love and passion with their highest meaning— whenever the deed is forbidden that would give passion its full sway, to be willing to abstain and take the will for the deed. When the will is firm enough, although there be no chance to do it, the urge to do it can be stilled with a will firm enough. Playmates and companions should never will too strongly what situation forbids, lest they will themselves trouble. It's always a losing game to want what you cannot have. Want what is possible— that's a better way to play. It causes much less heartbreak.
When the players Isolt and Tristan had no opportunity, they let it go at that, knowing what they both wanted. They traded desire back and forth delightfully between them in an energetic game. Love in common, common minds, this they knew was sweet and good. The pair of lovers concealed their love at all times 16450 before the court and from Marke to the utmost extent permitted by the blind love that suffused both of them. However, love's enmity and its seed are such that wherever it is strewn it quickly strikes roots and thrives so fruitfully with such generous yield from very little watering that it hardly ever wilts or can be eradicated. Ever-bearing suspicion soon enough began to wrap Tristan and Isolt in its tendrils and rank growth. It was watered all too well with suggestive behavior which gave evidence enough of unrelenting passion. It has been truly said that no matter how we deny it, there are two affinities: the eyes for the heart, and the finger for the itch. Those lodestars of the heart are always searching eagerly at the direction of the heart, just as the hand and the finger, over and over, no matter what, go straight to the itch. Just so did the lovers. By no means were they able to avoid what they most feared, even inviting suspicion with many a tender glance, often and repeatedly— unfortunately, as I said, the eyes, those servants of the heart, always followed the heart's direction as the hand reached for the itch.
The two of them, between them, soon began so to entangle their eyes and hearts with one another that they couldn't disengage from the thicket of their glances quickly enough to prevent Marke from detecting the fragrant balm of passion, 16500 by which he finally saw through them. His eye never missed its target. He always saw, without their knowing, the truth shining through their eyes without needing anything else except what showed in their faces. What he saw was so tender, so sweet and full of yearning, that it went straight to his heart and filled him with such rage, such envy and such hatred that those two old irritants, doubt and suspicion, ran all together into one. Insult and anger overrode discretion. It was death to his senses that his heart's love Isolt should give her affections to anyone but himself, for he esteemed nothing more highly than Isolt, an allegiance he always kept. In his unrestrained fury, his beloved woman still was dear and dearer than his life, and yet, however adorable, this intolerable burden and uncontrollable chagrin obliterated all of that, leaving nothing but the fury which consumed him entirely.
Now he cared not one hair if there was any truth in it. Blinded by his pain and anger, he summoned the two of them to the palace, before the court, with all retainers in attendance. There, in public, he told Isolt before the eyes and ears of all. "Lady Isolt of Irlant, this whole land and people know the gossip that has linked you how long now—and since when— to my nephew Tristan. Well, I have tried everything, all sorts of tests and stratagems, to get you to rein in this foolishness for my sake, and yet, for me, you will not. 16550 I am not such a fool as not to know, when I watch you that your heart and your eyes both openly and in secret are fastened on my nephew every hour, day and night. You show and render him sweeter attentions that you do me. From such behavior I understand that I mean less to you than he. Whatever precautions I take as to you or to him accomplish nothing at all. All of it goes for naught, however much I may try. I have kept you two apart physically as much as possible, and so it surprises me no end that your hearts still are as one, always, after all this time. I have interrupted your sweet looks of love and yet I cannot interrupt this love you bear each other, which I have already borne too long. Now I come to the point. I will no longer tolerate this depravity and shame that you have tried so hard to hide but still inflicted upon me. I'll not stand for this dishonor ever again, from this moment. Yet I am unwilling to take such revenge on you as by law indeed I should, if that were what I wanted. Tristan, nephew, Isolt, wife, that I should execute you both or cause you some great grief— you are too dear to me for that, however it pains me to say so. Since I see that you both are always given to each other more fervently than you love me, as much as I regret it, now go and be with each other to your own satisfaction. Don't refrain for fear of me. Since your love is so great, I will not, from this time on, 16600 compel you or interfere in any of your affairs. Take each other by the hand and then--get out of my land. I will neither see nor hear you cause me any more trouble. We were once three companions, but that can now no longer be. I leave it all to you two, and will retire from it alone, tear myself away somehow. Yes, this threesome is vile! I'm glad to set things to rights. A king, who mixes in affairs of passion with his eyes wide open— that's utter debauchery. Go, both of you, in God's protection. Live your lives and love however your desires may dictate, but our companionship is over."
|Next Episode||Index of Episodes|