When Isolt's accomplice Tristan had carried her to firm ground there at the city of Carliun while doing as she had directed, he lost no time in departing from Engeland for Swales to visit the duke Gilan. This man was a bachelor, not only young, but rich as well, footloose and adventuresome. He welcomed Tristan heartily, having already heard of his many manly exploits and amazing accomplishments. He also showed high regard for Tristan's personal honor, also his comfort and diversions. Gilan was anxious to promote anything that offered promise of bringing him enjoyment, and spared no pains to do so, especially considering how downcast Tristan remained at every hour of the day, always brooding and sorrowing over the turn his fate had taken.
One day it came to pass, while Tristan sat with Gilan, dwelling on his many troubles and sighing absentmindedly, that Gilan, observing his distress, called his servant to bring him the little dog Petitcreiu, his heart's delight from Avalun, a pleasure to behold. The servant did as commanded. 15800 A rich, purple coverlet, exotic and most marvelous, was laid on the table before them, which it had been cut to fit. A small dog was displayed there, most elegant, as I have heard, which had been sent to the duke from Avalun, the magic land, by a certain goddess as a token of affection. This creature was so curiously endowed in two respects, its color and magic qualities, that no tongue was so supple nor any heart so perceptive as to be able to describe its strange beauty or effects. Its coloration blended with such unusual art that no one truly knew what its hue really was. Its coat was so variegated that when regarded from the front, anyone would declare it to be whiter than the snow; the loins, greener than clover, one side, redder than scarlet, the other, yellower than saffron, the underside, like blue sapphire, from above, such a blending of beautiful infusions that no color among them stood out from the others. Then it was not green or red, not white, not black, not yellow or blue, and yet some shade of each was there, a sort of rich, purple luster. This little marvel from Avalun— never was there a man so wise as to comprehend its color, when seen against its coat's grain. It was of so many hues and so entirely confusing as colors, it seemed, could never be. Around its tiny neck it had a chain of gold, on which hung a bell, that rang so sweetly and brightly with every move it made that Tristan, sorrow's victim, 15850 was relieved of all oppression and utterly forgot all the woe and misery he had chanced to suffer on Isolt's behalf. Anyone who heard how sweetly the bell sounded was at once restored from all sorrows and unease.
Tristan heard and observed this marvelous miracle, now paying closer attention to both the dog and its bell, regarding each in detail, the dog with its strange coat, the bell and its enchanting tinkle. Each of them astonished him, and yet, as he considered them, the secret marvel of the dog seemed even more wonderful that the soothing note of the bell, which sang clearly in his ear, extinguishing his every care. What a strange adventure, that he could see clearly the deception of his eyes at this multitude of colors, no one of which he recognized, however closely he tried to look. He reached out carefully and stroked it with his hand. It seemed at once to Tristan that through his fingers was flowing the most refined Palma silk, so smooth and soft everywhere. The dog neither barked nor growled, showing not the least impatience, however he petted or handled it. The story also maintains that it neither ate nor drank.
When it had been taken away, all Tristan's pain and sorrow returned at once, fresh as ever, indeed with sorrowing still greater. One thought filled his mind, blotting out all others. He began to contemplate by what chance or means or some clever plan he might get possession 15900 of Petitcreiu, the little dog, for his lady, the queen Isolt, so that the pain of her yearning might be magically softened. However, he could see no way in which this could be accomplished by request or calculation, since he knew very well that Gilan would never part with it for anything he had seen, except, perhaps, to save his life. This longing and dissatisfaction lay always deeply in his heart, but he pretended unconcern. According to the true story of Tristan's brave deeds, near the borders of Swales at the time of Tristan's visit a giant was in residence, whose name was Urgan li vilus, very bold and arrogant, with his lair on the riverbank. Gilan and his land Swales were subject to this monster, required to pay him tribute to leave the land untroubled and let its people live in peace. It was announced in Gilan's court that the giant Urgan had arrived, to make his usual demand that his fee should be collected, in cattle, sheep, and swine, which he ordered driven away. Gilan then began to tell the story to his friend Tristan of how they had been first subjected to the payment of this tribute by force of arms and enmity. "Now tell me, sir," Tristan said, "if I can absolve you of this and help you in a short time to be released from this tax for as long as you may live, what will you give me in return?" "Indeed, sir," Gilan replied, "I'll give you gladly whatever I have." Tristan went a little further. "Sir, assure me of that, and by whatever means I may, I will surely help you 15950 to be free of Urgan forever in a very short time, or forfeit my life in trying." "Certainly, sir," Gilan promised, "I will give you what you ask. Whatever it is, so shall it be." He sealed the bargain with his hand.
At once a squire was sent to bring Tristan his horse and armor. He requested to be shown by what path this get of Satan would be leaving with his plunder. Tristan was quickly put on the trail of Urgan, through a wild, tangled woods, which adjoined the giant's land at a place where the booty was driven back across a bridge. Giant and gains soon arrived. But Tristan was ahead of him, and blocked the herd from passing. As soon as that wicked monster saw them balk at the bridge, he immediately advanced brandishing a steel bar, very stout and long, carrying it high, ready to strike. When he saw the knight there in full, splendid armor, he addressed him discourteously— "you on the horse, who are you? Why are you keeping me and my property from crossing? By God, just for that, it's going to cost you your life unless you surrender to me!" "They call me Tristan, fellow," he on the horse retorted, "and get this straight—I'm not afraid of you or that club of yours, not half a bean's worth. So get out of here, right now. And you'd better get this straight, too— what you stole goes no further than where I put a stop to it." "Ah, Sir Tristan," sneered the giant. You're proud of having stood up to Morolt the Irlanter— that fight you picked with him was completely illegal. 16000 You started it over nothing, and then killed him to show off. Well, it's not at all the same with me as with that Gandin you made a fool of with your tunes and then took away his beauty, that pretty little flower, Isolt, that he was ready to fight for. No, I live here on this river bank, and my name is Urgan li vilus. So now get out of my way!" With this he began to take two-handed measure for a mighty throw and a slice aimed in Tristan's direction, a long and strong swipe indeed. As the aiming point for his release he had set his sights point-blank on Tristan's life, so if he hit the bull's-eye, that would be the end of him. As he wound up for his throw with his huge steel pole, Tristan had begun to dodge, but he didn't move quickly enough to keep the shot from cutting his horse right in two, ahead of the croup. The huge giant gave a shout and called laughingly to his target, "God help you now, Sir Tristan! Don't be hasty to ride away— kindly wait a moment for me so I can humbly plead with you to let me keep my landholdings honorably, with your permission, for some time yet to come!" With his mount cut in half, Tristan landed on the grass. He counterattacked with his spear, scoring a hit on his enemy, wounding the fiendish Urgan severely in one eye. At this the ungainly giant broke away and made all speed toward where the pole, his weapon, lay. Tristan had already thrown his spear aside, and now charged at top speed with his sword. As the giant reached for his rod, Tristan struck, with true aim, 16050 cutting off the giant's hand that he put out to grasp his weapon so that it landed on the ground. Then he gave him another thrust into the thigh, and withdrew. Urgan, wounded as he was, reached down with his left hand, snatching up his fallen pole, with which he rushed at his opponent. He pursued the dodging Tristan all around under the trees, through many a perilous twist and turn. This caused the flow of gore to come so freely from Urgan's wounds that this satanic adversary began to realize the danger from such a loss of blood, that it would not be very long before his strength and courage ebbed. Leaving knight and cattle there, he picked up the severed hand and beat a hasty retreat back into his own fortress.
Tristan stood there in the forest, alone with the stolen cattle. He was more than a little alarmed at Urgan's having escaped alive. He sat down there on the grass to consider the implications, with one concern uppermost, that he had nothing to show what he had accomplished except the tribute of cattle. All the risk and exertions he had put into getting them would not have helped him one bit if Gilan should perhaps decide not to honor the agreement they had settled on between them. So he returned to the fray, following carefully the trail that Urgan had left in retreat, where the ground and the grass were all stained with blood. Reaching Urgan's stronghold, He reconnoitered cautiously to discover where Urgan was. But he did not find him there, nor any other living thing. The severely wounded giant, 16100 as the story tells it, had left his severed hand on a table in his hall, while he had gone from his castle down the mountain to dig herbs which he required for his hurts, understanding well their powers for aiding his recovery. It was his intention, that if, by sciences knew, he could reattach the hand in time, before it had reached the point of being irretrievably dead, he would have come through with the hand and one eye. But this was not to be, for Tristan, hot on his trail, discovered the hand lying there. With nothing to prevent him, he took it with him, and went back by the same way he had come. Urgan, returning, realized that the hand was gone for good. In great pain and fury he threw down his remedies and went in pursuit of Tristan.
Having recrossed the bridge, Tristan clearly perceived that the giant was coming after him. He quickly took the hand and hid it beneath a stump. Now he had good cause to fear this huge and frightening man, for there could be no doubt that one of them would die, either he or the giant. He turned back toward the bridge to take him at spearpoint, but broke the spear with his thrust. No sooner had he made his stroke that his adversary was upon him. Urgan with his mighty shaft lunged at him and struck. Had the blow not overshot, it would have been the end of him, even if he were solid bronze. The only thing that saved him was Urgan's over-eagerness. Because he charged in too close, the main force of his swing 16150 had landed well beyond its target. Before the ungainly man could get his club back in position, Tristan, with a quick feint, aimed a stroke at his eye. It went home, straight and true, through the only eye the giant had. Urgan flailed wildly about as one blinded can but do. He launched blows in all directions while Tristan stood well aside, leaving him to thrash about with his remaining left hand. In his frenzy he came near the outer edge of the bridge. Tristan made a desperate rush, putting all his strength and skill into this deed of arms. With all his speed and weight, he used both hand to tip the brute off the bridge into the chasm. Down he went, far down, until his ungainly bulk shattered on the rocks below.
With another victory to his credit, Tristan went and retrieved Urgan's hand. On his return, he met Gilan, the duke, riding out to meet him, who anxiously regretted that Tristan should have dared to undertake this exploit, which it seemed most unlikely he could survive, as he survived. Seeing his friend approach on foot, Gilan hailed him in relief. "A bien venjanz, gentil Tristan!" Lucky man, tell me all— how did it go? Are you all right?" As reply, Tristan showed him the dead hand of the giant, then told him the whole story of the fortunate outcome crowning his adventure, at which Gilan was delighted. They rode together back to the bridge, and found there the evidence of what Tristan had told, the remains of Urgan, at which they greatly marvelled. 16200 Then they retraced their steps, driving the recovered cattle cheerfully home to their land.
Report of this accomplishment spread throughout the land of Swales. Everyone, everywhere, sang Tristan's praises and honor, such that no manly exploit was ever more highly regarded in that country, before or since. Now when Gilan and Tristan, proven winner that he was, had returned to Gilan's dwelling, they reviewed once more the story of their accomplishments. Then Tristan, the wonder-worker, put his case to the duke. "My Lord Duke, be mindful of your pledge and assurance as we had agreed upon and as you promised me." "Sir, I am," Gilan replied, "and that gladly. Now say, what do you wish, or desire?" —"Gilan, Sir, I enjoin you, give me the dog Petitcreiu." "Take something better," Gilan said. "What would that be?" Tristan asked. —"Leave my little dog to me, and have instead my lovely sister, plus the half of all I own." —"No, My Lord Duke Gilan, be now mindful of your word. Not all the wealth of all lands would I take in substitution if given the choice of doing so. I killed Urgan li vilus, for no reward but Petitcreiu." —"In truth, then, Sir Tristan, if that is what you would prefer to all else I have offered you, then I will hold to my word and do as you desire. Never will I cheat or try to deceive. However unwillingly, what you request, that shall I do." With this he sent to have the dog brought before himself and Tristan. "You see, sir, I tell you now— 16250 upon my word and oath, and hope for salvation, that nothing in my possession or anything I more cherish, except my honor and my life, would I give you more gladly than my little dog Petitcreiu. Take him. He is yours. God grant he give you pleasure, even though you have taken from me the delight of my eyes and the joy of my heart." Once Tristan had the little dog firmly in his possession, truly, Rome and all its riches, or lands whatever across what seas, none of the world's treasures would he have valued as its equal. And yet his heart knew no joy except in the presence of Isolt. He took into his confidence a minstrel from Gales, a man skilled and wise, accomplished and perceptive. He began to instruct him in how to bring the queen, Isolt the most lovely, some degree of joy. He used this countryman's rote in which to conceal the tiny dog, then wrote letters to send along, telling her where and with what labor he had acquired it for her. The minstrel, also told of this, and given other exact instructions, then set out on his way and finally arrived in Tintajel, at the castle of King Marke, without having suffered any mishaps or difficulty. He went and found Brangaene, delivering the dog and letters, which she in turn gave to Isolt.
The queen carefully examined this miraculous marvel in every aspect and detail of the houndlet and its enchantments. At once she rewarded the minstrel in payment for his services ten marks of fine gold. 16300 She also wrote and sent letters entreating Tristan in the most earnest terms, since now her lord, Marke, esteemed him as before, and did not hold any of recent events against him, that he should by all means come— she had settled everything. Tristan did as he was asked, returning home once again. King and court, land and people, honored him again, as before, now even more highly that earlier at court, except that Marjodoc's respects did not come from his heart, as was also the case with Melot. In the honors paid him by these former enemies there was very little honor.
I hear the chorus asking if it's all done in sham, is that honor, or is it not? No, I answer, and also yes. No and yes both are in it. No to him who renders it, yes for him who receives it. Both answers are in both acts— you can find there yes and no. What more can I say to that? It's honor without honor. Now Isolt the queen told her lord that her mother, the sagacious queen of Irlant, had sent her the little dog. She put her artisans to work, who used precious materials, only the most select jewelry and fine gold, to make a charming little house, which was carpeted inside with a silken pad for it to lie on. This display, day and night, both in company and solitude, delighted Isolt's gaze. It became her steady custom to keep it always in her sight, wherever she stayed or traveled. It was always taken along 16350 so that she could keep it in view, but not for the comfort it afforded. The story tells that she did it to keep her yearning always fresh for her beloved Tristan, who sent it to her for love. She took no solace from it, nor was it her source of respite. The moment the steadfast queen for the first time laid eyes on the strange little creature and heard the tinkle of its bell which caused her to forget all cares, the first thing she thought of was how her lover Tristan suffered because of her.
At once she reproached herself— "ah, alas, if I take pleasure, what unfaithfulness is this? How shall I have enjoyment for any hour, any moment, while he bears woe because of me, he who has sacrificed all joy and life on my account? How can I rejoice without him, I, who am his joy and sorrow? What reason could I have to laugh the while his very heart can know not the least comfort unless my heart share it? He has no life apart from mine— how shall I live without him, in pleasure and joyfulness while he must suffer sadness? May the good Lord forbid that in my heart and mind I know pleasure he cannot share!" With this she broke the bell off, leaving the chain in place. This caused the bell to lose all its magic soothing power. Now it no longer sounded with the same effect as before. It is said that never again, no matter how closely one listened, did it ever alleviate the heaviness of any heart. This did not concern Isolt— she did not want to be happy, remaining loyal in her yearning, 16400 having devoted life and joy to Tristan and longing.
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