Now what was Tristan to do, Tristan the homeless? Yes, he sat down and began to cry, for that's all children know to do when everything is going wrong. Comfortless and lost, he raised his folded hands fervently to God. "Ah," he prayed, "bountiful God, in the fullness of your mercy, by your great benevolence, dear God, I humbly pray to you that you be merciful to me and that you deal kindly with me, since it was by your design that I was thus stolen away. Be my guide, and show me how to find someone, somewhere here! No matter which way I look, 2500 I see no signs of life at all. This wilderness frightens me-- wherever I turn my eyes, it looks like the end of the world. Whichever way I go, I find nothing more than silent, empty fields, barren desolation, wild cliffs and the wild sea. All these fears are bad enough, but even more, I'm afraid the wolves and wild things will eat me, no matter which way I turn. It's also very late, and soon it will be dark. It would be very bad to waste any more time in getting away from here, because unless I hurry, night will catch me here, and that will be the end of me. There I see in front of me many lofty cliffs and hills-- I think I'll climb one of them, if I can--it won't be easy-- and look around, while there's still light. Maybe I can see a house or farther off some kind of dwelling where I might find some people and go to them for help. Then maybe I'll get out of this, be it one way or another."
So he stood up and started off. He wore a coat and a splendid cape of finest silk, very rich, a marvelous piece of workmanship. The Saracens had made it with little braids and borders, elegant and exotic, decorated and embroidered in the heathen pattern. It had been so carefully tailored to fit his handsome form that never before had anyone done a nobler job of cutting a suit of fine clothes to fit. The story then goes on to mention that the fine cloth it was made from was brighter green than the grass in May, and the lining sewn into it 2550 was the purest white ermine, as white as white could be. In this he now wrapped himself, still crying and very miserable, for the rigors of his coming journey, for go he must--he had no choice. First he pulled the coat up a little higher, beneath his belt. Then after folding the cape and laying it over his shoulder, he set off into the wilds, through forest and through fields. There was neither way nor path except what he made himself. He broke a path with his feet, by hand he made his way. For mount he had his arms and legs. Over stones and through the rough he kept climbing, always higher, until at last he reached a hilltop. There he chanced to find the trace of a rude woodland path, narrow and overgrown with grass. He followed it down the other side, hoping it would lead somewhere. It brought him in a little way to a well-constructed road, laid out straight and broad, bearing marks of heavy traffic. Beside this highway he sat down to rest awhile, weeping still. In his heart he yearned to see his friends and native land again, to be with people he knew-- the thought of them grieved him deeply. Once again he began to pray, making his grievances known to God. Devoutly turning his gaze toward heaven, he said, "dear God, almighty master, my father and my mother-- how they must be missing me! Had I but renounced, alas, my accursed love of chess-- may I never play again! Falcons, merlins, sparrow hawks-- to the Devil with them all! They're what took me from my father-- because of them I'm torn away from family and friends. And those who wished me well 2600 and rejoiced in my good fortune are worrying and grieving, filled with sorrow because of me. My sweet mother, well I know how you must torment yourself-- father, your heart is filled with pain. Yes, both of you, I know, are overburdened with grief. Dear Lord, alas, if I but knew that they knew I was still alive, here unharmed, and in good health, that would be God's greatest gift to both of them, and also me. Instead I know only too well that never again can they find peace if God himself does not ordain that they discover I'm alive. Oh, great counselor in grief, dear Lord, let this come to pass!"
Then it happened, while he sat weeping there, as I have told you, he saw, approaching from a distance, two aged pilgrims, pleasing in God's sight, full of days and years, bearded and unshorn, as those who earnestly aspire to be God's children often are. These wanderers on their pilgrimage were wearing simple linen cowls and other such garments as pilgrims always wear. Their outer cloaks and coats were oversewn with seashells and many a strange device. Each one bore in his hand a pilgrim's staff, long and stout. Their headgear and their other dress proclaimed the state they had assumed. These servants of the Lord wore to cover their legs rough linen trousers, rolled a span above their ankles and tied firmly there. This left feet and ankles bare, exposed to hazards of the path. Fastened upright on their backs, as symbols of their penitence, they carried holy palm fronds. Their psaltery and prayers 2650 and other supplications they chanted ceaselessly. Tristan, at the sight of them, anxiously said to himself, "Dear God, preserve me, now what am I going to do? Those two men coming this way-- I hope they haven't seen me yet. If so, they'll try to catch me!" But as they came closer and he saw what they were by their staffs and dress, he knew they lived by holy rule and began to take heart at this, and so his spirits rose a little. Fervently he prayed again, "God the Lord be praised! Surely these will be good fellows-- I needn't be afraid of them."
A moment later, they caught sight of the boy sitting there, and as they came nearer, he rose to greet them courteously, politely crossing his hands before him. At this gesture, the pair of pilgrims looked at him with greater interest, noticing his courtly manners. Approaching him in friendliness, they gently greeted him with this sweet greeting: "Deu sal, beas amis! Dear friend, whoever you may be, God preserve and keep you!" Tristan bowed to the elders. "Ah," he spoke, "de benie, si sainte companie! May God in his great power bless so pious a companionship!" In reply, they questioned him: "Where did you come from, young man, or who has brought you to this place?" The young Tristan's imagination was developed far beyond his years. He began inventing a wondrous tale: "Holy sirs," he said to them, "I am a native of this land, and this afternoon was riding, I and several others, hunting in the forest here. Somehow I got separated 2700 from the hounds and hunters. They knew all the forest paths and how to track, as I do not. Once off the path, I got confused, and soon I was completely lost. I found a very meager trail that led me only to a ditch, where I couldn't stop my horse from going straight down into it. A moment later, horse and I were lying there in a heap. I wasn't fast enough in trying to get my foot back in the stirrup-- he pulled the reins out of my hand and off he went, into the woods. I finally found a little path and followed it as far as this. Now I haven't any idea where I am, or where I'm going. Good people, if you'll be so kind, tell me, where is it you're headed?" "Well, friend," one of them replied, "if our Savior wills, by tonight we expect to be in the city of Tintajel." Tristan asked them courteously to let him go with them there. "Indeed, so be it, dear young sir," said the pilgrims. "Come with us, if that is where you wish to go."
Tristan joined them on their way. They fell to talking among themselves about many a thing. Tristan, by courtly manners, had learned to speak carefully, so when they asked him this or that, he answered only insofar as was required by the question. He practiced modesty both in speech and actions so well that these men, in the wisdom that comes with age, saw great promise in him, and once again remarked his fine behavior and his manners, and what a handsome boy he was-- the elegant garments he was wearing made a deep impression on them by the richness of the fabrics and their excellent workmanship. 2750 To themselves they said, "Gracious Lord God, who is this child, and where's he from? So polished and so well-behaved!" They wondered as they walked, watching his every move (and quite a diversion it was) for a good country mile.
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