During their sojourn there, the sorrowful King Marke, sorrowing excessively, suffered great discontent, anxious for his wife and honor. Both his mind and his health showed the strain from day to day, as he neglected wealth and honor. It came to pass at that time that he hunted in the same forest more as solace for his sorrow than for any joy of sport. When the party reached the thickets, the huntsmen with their leashed hounds discovered a grazing herd. The dogs were loosed and the chase began. Very soon the coursing hounds had singled out from the herd a most remarkable stag, with a mane like a horse, very big, strong, and white, but with only a small rack just beginning to regrow, the old one having been cast but a short time ago. They put it to the chase 17300 and followed in hot pursuit almost until darkness fell. At that point they lost the spoor as the stag evaded them, taking flight in retreat back toward where it had come from, namely where the fossiure was. Having fled there, it escaped. Marke was much disappointed, and his huntsmen even more so, to have lost this animal, most unusual as it was with its strange mane and color. They all regretted their bad luck. They called in all the hounds and bedded down for the night, being in need of a good rest. Of course, Tristan and Isolt had plainly heard all that day the racket sounding through the woods of hounds and hunting horns, and immediately suspected that it was none other than Marke. This troubled them greatly, each sharing the other's fear that someone had betrayed them. Very early the next morning the master huntsman rose before the light of day appeared. He ordered his assistants to wait there until full light, and then to come after him. He selected one hound from the pack and leashed it, setting it back on the scent. It led him on and on over many obstacles, across cliffs and stones, wasteland and meadow, through which the stag had fled during the preceding night. He stayed right on the track to where the defile first broadened and the sun was well up. He found himself standing beside Tristan's fountain. On that morning, Tristan, hand in hand with his partner, had gone out as usual, so that they had arrived 17350 very early, while the dew still sparkled on the blossoms covering the delightful vale. The skylark and nightingale were tuning up their chorus to welcome their compatriots. They always sang their greetings to Tristan and Isolt— these wild songsters of the wood promulgated their welcome sweetly in their native Latin. Many a charming little songbird was very glad to see them. All of them had untertaken the very pleasant obligation of greeting the familiar lovers. They caroled from their twigs in most delightful style with countless variations. There was many a tuneful tongue that schantoit and discantoit a schanzune and a refloit to entertain the lovers. They relished the cool spring which leaped up to meet their gaze and tinkled brightly in their ears, murmuring toward them as it came to receive them with its murmur. It murmured delightful welcomes to the lovers. They saluted the linden also with its gentle breezes that soothed both without and within the hearing and the senses. The flourishing trees, the shining meadow, the blossoms, the evergreen grass, and all that stood there in flower laughed in welcome to them. The dew in its sweetness also gave them its greeting, not only cooling their feet but satisfying their hearts. And when they had their fill of this they slipped back into their cavern there to take counsel together what they should do at this point, troubled as they both were by fears of what in fact would happen, that at some time, someone 17400 out of that hunting party might discover their hiding place. Tristan conceived a plan to which both of them agreed. They went back to their bed and lay down again upon it separate from one another as well might man and man, not at all as man and wife. So they lay, one here, one there, in estranged composure. Furthermore, Tristan laid his bared sword between them— he on one side, she on the other. They lay divided, one from one, and thus they slept, apart and together. The huntsman, as I have read, who found his way to the spring, could see in the dew where Tristan and his lady had stolen away ahead of him. But at first he only supposed it was the track the stag had left. Dismounting, he went up the path, following the visible spoor that the lovers had left in the dew as far as the door to the fossiure. It was barred by its two bolts, preventing him from going further. Finding he could not advance, he explored other directions, and while prowling all around he came entirely by chance upon a hidden window high up on the fossiure. Cautiously, he peered inside and saw, there below him, one woman and one man, the consort of love. He gazed at them in surprise, for it seemed to him that no creature could have been of woman borne anywhere on this earth so splendid as that woman. He remained there but a moment, since, catching sight of the sword lying unsheathed between them, he recoiled in consternation. It seemed to him a fearful thing— surely, he thought, this must be 17450 something quite unnatural, which filled him with apprehension. He climbed down from the cliff and quickly rode back toward his hounds. Marke, in the meantime, had ridden out after him well ahead of the other hunters and met him hastening back. "Sire," gasped the huntsman, "My Lord King, I bring news— just now I have had a marvellous adventure"— —"Indeed, what did you find?" —"I found a love fossiure!" —"What? How? Where is it?" —"Sire, right here, in these woods." —"Out here in this wilderness? Is there anybody in it?" —"Sire, yes, down inside are a man and a goddess— lying there on a bed, sleeping very soundly. The man looks like any man, but I don't know about the other— I'm not sure his bedpartner is even a human being— it's magically beautiful. I don't see how anything made of flesh and bone could be so lovely on this earth. And something I can't figure out— a sword is lying there between them, a splendid one, shiny and bare." "Show me where!" ordered the king. His huntsman led the way back up the rugged path to where he had dismounted. The king also dismounted there and proceeded further up the path until the huntsman stopped. Marke saw the barred door, then turned aside and climbed along the stony side of the cliff, and as it began to narrow he followed many a twist and turn as his hunter had instructed until he found a little window, to which he put his eye to his delight and dismay. There he saw the two of them 17500 at rest high upon the crystal, still in slumber, as before. He found them, as had his man, turned away from one another, one this way, the other that, with the naked sword between them. He knew them, nephew and wife— his heart within him and all his limbs went cold with anguish as well as with affection. Their pose of separation might bode well or ill. Well, I say, as a sign that they were innocent, but ill, I mean, as his suspicions. He said, deep within his heart, "most Merciful Savior, what can all this mean? If something has been going on between them, as I long suspected, then why do they lie like this? With her lover, a woman lies closely wrapped in his embrace, as though glued to his side. Why are they so far apart?" But a moment later he was thinking, "is there something more to this? Do I see guilt or not?" And instantly, doubt returned. "Guilty? Yes, certainly." Then again: "Guilty? No." He tossed this verdict to and fro until in utter confusion Marke could not decide anything at all. Then reconciling Passion insinuated herself in her most seductive guise to remarkable effect. The paleness of her face she had tinted over with the gold of denial, her most becoming color: No. The word sparkled and shone straight into the king's heart. That painful opposite, the distasteful word Yes, the king could nowhere see— it had vanished altogether, leaving no uncertainty or doubt. 17550 Golden innocence, by Passion overgilded, drew his eyes and his senses by the power of her enchantment straight to where the Eastertide of all his pleasure lay. He stood and gazed intently upon Isolt, his heart's delight, who never before had seemed to him quite so beautiful as now. I know not by what exercise— told somewhere in this story— she had become so heated that her color and radiance, as lovely and enticing as a variegated rose, beamed up to the watching man. Her mouth seemed to burn with fire just as does a glowing coal. I do know, come to think of it, how she had exerted herself— Isolt, as I have already told you, had made her way to the meadow through the early morning dew. It was the walk that warmed her. One slender ray of sunlight also streamed in through the window, playing softly over her cheek, on her chin, and around her mouth. Two beauties had combined in producing this spectacle, two brilliancies shone together— heaven's sun and her sun had joined there to create a delight and celebration of Isolt's blessedness. Her chin, her mouth, her glowing body were so wonderfully pleasing, so lovely, so alluring, that she charmed Marke entirely. Filled with lust and desire, he longed to kiss her. Passion turned up her flames, Passion inflamed the man with the beauty of her body— her feminine attractiveness riveted all his senses upon her form and her love. His eye took in everything. He examined avidly 17600 the features her gown revealed, her lovely throat and breast, her arms and her hands. She wore a wreath of clover tied into her hair. To her lord she now seemed more desirable than ever. As he realized the sunlight streaming down through the window was shining full in her face, he feared it might damage her delicate complexion. He gathered leaves, grass, and blossoms which he used to block the window and pronounced a blessing on her beauty. Commending her to God's care, he turned away, weeping. Thus sunk deep in sorrow, he returned to his hounds, and there cancelled the hunt. He commanded the hunting party to return home immediately, taking the pack with them. His intention in doing so was to assure that no one else might chance to discover her.
Next Episode Index of Episodes