Marke fixed his gaze on Tristan. “Tristan, my friend? Is that your name?” “It is, my Lord, Tristan, deu sal!" --“deu sal, beas vassal!” “merci,” said Tristan, “gentil rois, noble king and Curnewalois, thou and all thy company, be ye of God’s children all now and ever blessed!” The court attendants could hardly merci enough for sheer astonishment. They all were singing the same tune now, “Tristan, Tristan li Parmenois, cum est beas et cum courtois!” Now Marke addressed Tristan again: “Let me tell you, Tristan, what to do: you must grant me one request, nor will I hear of your refusing.” “Whatever you command, my Lord.” “You shall be Master of my hunt!” Laughter rang across the court while Tristan composed an answer. “My Lord, command me as you will. Whatever you command, I am: your huntsman and your loyal servant I shall be, as best I can.” “And gladly, friend,” Marke replied. “We have spoken. Be it so.”
Tristan now has returned home unknowingly, as you have heard, still believing himself lost. The kin he never hoped to see, Marke the much accomplished, here acted well and wisely. And well it was he did so now. He requested and required of all, the whole courtly company, that they show this new arrival their kindness and good will, and treat him with respect in all address and companionship. To this they readily agreed and were glad to do so. And so the noble Tristan was taken into the king’s service. Marke looked on him with pleasure, for his heart, too, was drawn to him, and warmed to his frequent company. And Tristan, also, on every occasion attended Marke courteously, 3400 being ever ready to serve whenever in the royal presence. Wherever Marke was, or went, there Tristan was at his side. Marke was very pleased with this, for having grown so fond of him, he took delight in Tristan’s presence. And so before a week had passed it came about in the course of things that Marke and he rode out to hunt, with a numerous courtly retinue to watch how Tristan hunted and see what he could do. Then Marke ordered his own courser to be brought, and presented it to Tristan. Never had Tristan been so well mounted, for this horse was powerful, sleek, and fast. And to this gift the king added a hunting horn, high and clear. "Tristan," he said, "I now command that you shall be my Master of Hunt, and shall show us all your hunting craft. Call your hounds and ride out. Station your drivers in the blinds just where you think they should be." "No, my Lord, that won't do," replied Tristan, the courtly huntsman. "You deploy your own drivers. Let them man the blinds and unleash the hounds when ready. They are the ones who know this land far better than I possibly could, and where the stag retires, fleeing from the pack. They know all the advantages. I have never ridden here, being a stranger, at your command." "God knows, Tristan, you are right. This isn't the place to prove yourself. Let the hunters do their job as they themselves well know how."
The hunters thereupon spread out putting their hounds on leash and setting up their blinds in the right places, which they knew. Soon they had a stag up and drove it hard, in full cry, until evening began to fall. The hounds brought it to bay just at the last hour 3450 when Marke, and with him Tristan, and others of the royal hunt closed in for the kill. A great chorus of horns sounded, first one call, then another. So sonorously they played that Marke was deeply pleased, as were many of his company. Having brought down the stag they summoned their master huntsman, Tristan, their now familiar guest, and requested that he show them how to dress the kill, from start to finish. Tristan was ready. "So be it, then!" and as he spoke, prepared himself. Now, I have reason to suppose that it would be superfluous to lay before you the same story, once right after the other, twice. Exactly as I told you before, the last time they killed a stag, he dressed this one the same way. And as they watched him do it, the breaking-up and the fork, the quarry, with every elegance, one and all proclaimed again that no one knew this skill as well or better than he, or possibly could invent it. At the king's command, the stag was loaded, and then the hunt set out homeward. The king and his master huntsman Tristan, with all his splendid retinue, the fork preceded by horns resounding, rode in style back to quarters. And so the worthy Tristan became a favorite member of the court. The king and all of his beholden received him into their company. And in return he did his best to serve the highest and the lowest. He was glad to have a chance to give to any one of them special help and protection. God had granted him this blessing, that he should live for one and all. Laughing, dancing, singing, riding, racing, leaping, with decorum or without, he was one of them. 3500 He did just as he pleased, as the young ought to. Whatever someone was up to, he was ready to go along.
|Next Episode||Index of Episodes|