Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book VIII Chapter 8
Back in Cornwall, Tristram isn’t doing so well himself. While he talked a good game, Tristram’s joust with Marhaus has left him bleeding from several substantial wounds, including a nasty spear-wound in his side that Marhaus opened up the fight with. As Marhaus sails away, Tristram collapses.
His old tutor Gouvernail finds him and carries him back to King Mark’s castle, and then Mark leads a procession taking Tristram back to Castle Tintagil. Tristram swoons, he’s got a nasty fever, it’s not good.
Mark cries over his nephew’s body — how tragic that such a promising young knight would die on his first strange adventure! “So God me help, I would not for all my lands that me nephew died.”
A month goes by. Tristram just lies there in bed. His wound’s infected, the spear was poisoned with some nasty Irish poison, it’s not looking good four our boy. Mark sends out the call for a doctor or healer who can treat and save Tristram. Dozens come, with their poultices and their leeches, and, nothing.
But then! In comes a mysterious lady that was a right wise lady. Her name? Malory doesn’t provide it, but let’s assume it rhymes with “Timue.”
“I can get him conscious,” says Nimue. “But to get him back on his feet… he’s poisoned with an Irish poison. He needs Irish antivenom, and there’s only one place you can get that.”
Mark nods slowly. “Go on.”
There’s a long pause, and then Nimue continues. “Ireland. Tristram needs to go to Ireland.”
After Nimue explains it a couple more times, Mark gets it. So he loads up a ship with food and sailors and such, and puts Tristram and Gouvernail and also Tristram’s harp on it.
The ship sails over to Ireland, and puts in at a harbor near Anguish’s castle. There, Tristram (still bedridden on the ship) takes his harp and plays a song. Not just any song, a merry lay. The merriest lay ever heard in Ireland! The Irish peasants who overhear it swoon, that such a merry lay could come out of a mysterious Cornish ship.
So Anguish gets word of this, and he calls for the mysterious minstrel to come to his court and play, and that’s how Anguish learns about how the minstrel has been poisoned with Irish poison and needs medical attention.
This piques Anguish’s interest, of course. “How did you come to be wounded, sir…?”
“I’m Sir Tristram. Wait. No. Forget that. I’m Sir, uh, Sir… Tram… trist.” Tristram is not a very good liar, but Anguish doesn’t pick up on it.
“Sir Tramtrist, pleased to meet you. How did you come to be wounded so?”
“I was jousting for the defense of a lady’s honor. You wouldn’t know her. She’s in Cornwall. Liones, actually. That’s where I’m from. I was defending her honor, and I got wounded.”
“I’m not Sir Tristram.”
“Well, that’s good to hear. For let me tell you about my poor brother-in-law, the late Sir Marhaus — he was in Cornwall, you might have heard about it? Slain by Sir Tristram, sword lodged in his skull, very tragic.”
“Oh, yes, I’m familiar with how Sir Marhaus fell. Very familiar. I couldn’t be more familiar if I saw it, nay, if I commited the deed myself!” Tristram laughs nervously.
Anguish nods. “Now then, I have no reason to question any aspect of your story, Tramtrist. Let’s get you healed up, eh? Some of that fine Irish antivenom — I know just who to name your caretaker. My daughter, the lovely Isoud!”
Primary Sources: Le Morte D’Arthur, Book VIII Chapter 8 — No Comments
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