With this she threw the sword aside. Through her tears she spoke, "Alas, that I should live to see this day." Her sagacious mother rebuked her: "Oh, daughter of my heart, those torments your heart now bears are lamentably also mine, but more and harder for me— in his grace, God has laid them on me more heavily than on you. My brother is dead. So far, that has been my greatest grief. But now I fear for your sake. Truly, daughter, this new dread afflicts me worse than ever, for it is you that I cherish most. Rather than see something happen to you that I would deeply regret, sooner would I forget this feud. It will be easier for me 10300 to bear one sorrow than two. Now my main concern must be about that miserable man challenging us to formal combat. This is something we must deal with. If not, the king your father, as well as I and you, will forfeit every claim to honor and never again know happiness." The man in the bath had this to say: "Blessed ladies, both of you, I have aggrieved you, I confess, but only under great compulsion. You should remember, if you will, and know clearly what I faced— my life, no less, was at stake. No man will go to his death while there's hope of avoiding it. But be all that as it may, put these concerns of yours aside about this blustering seneschal with his deadlines and demands. I will straighten all that out— provided, of course, you let me live, and death does not prevent me. My Lady Isolt, and again, Isolt, Well I know that you are ever zealous for good and reason, loyal and circumspect. If I might be allowed to speak to your advantage, both of you, and if you would but moderate your hostile stance toward me and the steady antagonism you have long held toward Tristan, I could give you welcome news."
Isolt, the mother of Isolt stared long at him, and flushed red. Her shining eyes spilled tears. "Ah," she groaned, "I know that voice— now I'm certain, it is he. I doubted it until this moment, but you have shown me the truth without my having asked for it. Alas, alas, Sir Tristan, that I had you in my power, as firmly as I have you now, and yet am unable to use it as I would sorely wish, to my own ends and advantage! 10350 But power is no simple thing— I believe I can divert this force against my enemies, and bend the law to go against a wicked scoundrel. Ah, God, shall I do it? Yes, indeed, I think I shall."
At that moment, Brangaene came, she so proud, so clever, with a smile, silently, in beautiful attire. She slipped in, and saw first the sword, lying there, then both ladies in distress. "What on earth—" she gasped, "why are you standing there like that? What's going on—the three of you? My Ladies—your eyes—I see, so sad, so full of tears— but what's this sword doing here?" "Now, look," the queen was first to speak, "see, Brangaene, dearest niece, how we have all been deceived. Blindly we have worked to raise a serpent in place of songbirds, grinding for the ravens grain that should have gone to the doves. How have we, Lord Almighty, spared the foe as our friend, twice preserved from certain death with our own ignorant hands our mortal enemy, Tristan! See, there he sits, Tristan himself. Shall I kill him? I don't know whether to take revenge or not— what do you think, Cousin, shall I?" "No, My Lady, don't say such things! Your good fortune and your reason are far above the likes of that— never could you convince yourself to commit any crime so base, or ever be so misled as to even contemplate doing manslaughter, all the less upon a man you've taken into your protection, and guaranteed immunity. You never intended such a thing— for God's sake, no, you didn't. You also need to think of this— 10400 it's your reputation that's at stake, so deal with him accordingly. Would you surrender your good name for just the life of one enemy?" —"What then would you have me do?" —"You, My Lady, must decide. Come along, let him retire. Meanwhile, we can take counsel as to the best course of action." With this, the three women went to confer in a private chamber. The experienced Isolt began: "Now, you two, tell me this— what is this fellow's game? First of all, he told us both that if we would let him live and renounce our old vendetta against him, he could give us welcome news. What could it possibly be, I wonder?" Brangaene said, "I think it wise not to let him be afraid he's going to be mistreated until we find out what it is. He may mean us well, and be on your side, after all. You have to set your sails whichever way the wind blows. Who knows? His having come to Irlant could be to your advantage. Spare him for the time being, and thank God for this, at least— that he may be the tool we need to finish off this travesty of a false, lying seneschal. God himself had a hand when we were searching for him— if we hadn't found him at the last moment, God knows, he surely would be dead. Then, by Christ, Lady Isolt, we'd have been worse off than now. It would be wrong to threaten him, for if he sees that you're hostile and finds a way to escape, he'd have every reason to do so. Consider this, both of you. Show him he is in your favor, as indeed he deserves to be. Listen to me—I tell you this: Tristan ranks as your equal, 10450 is courtly and well educated, complete in his nobility. However you may feel toward him, treat him with proper courtesy. Whatever his intentions were, his mission is a serious one. He's plainly trying to accomplish some matter of great importance." So they ended their discussion and returned to where Tristan sat quietly on his bed. Not forgetting courtesy, he quickly rose at their entrance, then fell prostrate before them and lay in humble supplication at the noble feet of the ladies, addressing them from servile posture. "Mercy, sweetest ladies, have mercy upon me! Do not do away with me for having come to your realm for your honor and advantage!" The radiant company, these three luminaries, turned their gaze aside and looked each at the other. There they stood, while he lay. "My Lady," Brangaene murmured, "you leave a knight lying there." That moved the queen to speak. "What would you have me do with him? I cannot find it in my heart to declare myself friendly to him. What would be right? I don't know." "My Lady," Brangaene suggested, "this is what I propose, to you and to my Lady Isolt. This I know, perfectly, that in your hearts and minds you can hardly forgive him for injuries in the past. But the two of you can grant him at least his personal safety. Then he may be inclined to say more in his defense." "Granted," the royal ladies said. They commanded him to rise. Under protection of their truce, the four of them sat down together. Tristan now revealed his mission. 10500 "Your Royal Highness," he began, "if I may rely on your good graces, I'm empowered to negotiate within the next two days, no less, without any intended deception, that a noble king shall accept your much-beloved daughter, a man well worthy to be her lord, both tolerant and handsome, a knight noble and elect to the brotherhood of spear and shield, himself sprung from the race of kings and moreover, I should add, much richer than her father is." "Certainly," the queen replied, "if I could believe what you say, I would gladly comply with what is being offered." "My Lady," Tristan continued, "I can assure you of this: if you grant me amnesty, and I fail to prove what I say, you may revoke your pardon and take my life in revenge." "Brangaene," said the wise woman, "how does this sound to you?" —"His offer seems good to me, and I advise you to accept it. Put aside all your doubts— rise and kiss him, both of you. My station in our injured clan may be lower than a queen's, but I must also seal this peace." They kissed him then, all three of them, not something young Isolt could do without long hesitation. So they were at last reconciled. Tristan again addressed them: "God knows, in his goodness, that never before has my mind been so filled with joy, as now. I have overcome finally The dangers I anticipated that might well befall me in trying to regain your favor. My uncertainty is gone, and I'm assured of your grace. You, too, can drop all your cares— I came to Irlant from Curnewal entirely on your behalf. 10550 Since my earlier voyage here, which resulted in my healing, I have never ceased to sing your praises and your excellence before my lord, King Marke, until with all my reports I turned his thoughts toward you, and at last persuaded him. It wasn't easy, and this is why: he feared your enmity here, and also he had pledged to remain without a wife, for my sake, making me his sole heir after he should live no more. But I dissuaded him from this, until at last he consented. Thus the two of us agreed that I should undertake this voyage. That is why I came to Irlant, and also why I killed the dragon. And since you have spared no pains to work kindly on my behalf, in turn my young lady shall be First Lady and Queen over Curnewal and Engelant. Now you know my secret mission. Blessed company, thrice-blessed three, hold all this in confidence." "Yes, but tell me," said the queen, "may I not tell my lord, to obtain a reconciliation? Would I be acting unwisely?" "No, My Lady, not at all— he has every right to know. But take care when you do that I come to no harm thereby." "Sir, you need have no such fears— this will not cause any trouble." Then the three ladies retired to a secluded chamber and there began to marvel at the luck of his achievements in all his undertakings. Each one had her say about his cleverness, the mother thus, Brangaene so. "Mother, see," the daughter said, "by what rare luck I discovered that his real name was Tristan— 10600 once I figured out the sword, I began to study the names Tantris and Tristan. As I turned them this way and that, they soon seemed to me to have something common to both of them. That led me to look closely and take careful notice— so I found, using the letters you need to spell both of them that in fact both were one. No matter which way I read them, there were no other letters than in Tantris or Tristan, and always the same in each. Now look, Mother, take apart just the name Tantris, to make a tan and a tris. Then say the tris before the tan, and see, you've said Tristan. Then say the tan before the tris, and you're right back to Tantris." The queen her mother crossed herself. "God bless me," she exclaimed, "wherever did you get such wit?"
Now as the three among themselves were discussing these matters, the queen sent for the king, who soon came and joined them. "My Lord," she spoke, "now hear me. You may grant us a request, which we three much desire. If you do, we all shall profit." "I will do as I am asked— what you wish, you shall have." "You will let me have my way?" the queen reassured herself. "I will. Ask, it shall be done." "My Lord, I will rely on you. I have here in custody Tristan, the man who slew my brother. You shall grant him your favor and be reconciled with him. His mission to us is such as makes it wise to do so." "Certainly," the king declared, "I gladly leave this up to you, since it concerns you more than me. Your brother Morolt was your kin, closer to you than to me. 10650 If you have forgiven this injury, then so have I, if you will." She then related Tristan's story in full detail to the king, as he had told it to her. The king found Tristan's proposal quite pleasing, but cautioned her, "see to it, that he keeps his word." Then the queen sent Brangaene to summon Tristan to appear. He came, and upon entering, threw himself at the king's feet. "Mercy, Your Majesty," he implored. "Arise, Sir Tristan, come to me," commanded Gurmun. "Kiss me. I do not lightly grant forgiveness, yet I renounce our enmity, as our royal ladies have renounced it." "My Lord," Tristan replied, "does your peace extend to include my king and his lands?" "Sir, it does," Gurmun conceded.
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