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The Romance of Tristan

The Romance of Tristan


by Béroul

The Romance of Tristan Part 2 Summary

The Tryst Under the Tree

  • Mark's barons make him suspicious that Tristan and Yseut might be lovers, leading him to force Tristan to take lodgings in town, from where he arranges trysts with Yseut in the palace orchard.
  • Tristan signals his presence to Yseut by throwing twigs into a stream that flows through the palace grounds; when Yseut sees these twigs, she hastens to their pre-arranged meeting place.
  • A wicked dwarf named Frocin tells Mark that he can prove the lovers' guilt. He advises Mark to climb a tree near where Tristan and Yseut plan to meet.
  • When Tristan and Yseut arrive at their meeting, both of them notice the king's shadow. (What is this, amateur hour? You've got to give the guy credit for trying, anyway.)
  • Tristan and Yseut engage in an elaborate deception in which they pretend to be unaware of Mark's presence while having a conversation that clears them of wrongdoing:
  • Yseut tells Tristan not to send for her again, and that Mark's barons are trying to dishonor them both by convincing Mark that they are lovers.
  • She claims she would rather have her ashes scattered to the wind than love a man who is not her lord, and that she only loves Tristan like a brother, for Mark's sake.
  • Recognizing her ruse, Tristan responds by expressing his sorrow that Mark has believed the "lies" of his barons.
  • Tristan asks Yseut to intercede on his behalf with the king, even promising to walk through fire or undergo one-on-one combat to prove his innocence.
  • Yseut responds that she is too afraid of what Mark will do to her if she talks about Tristan to say anything to Mark about it.
  • Yseut leaves and Tristan laments his misfortune some more, announcing his plan to go into exile with Governal.
  • Convinced by Tristan and Yseut's ruse, Mark decides to hang the wicked dwarf who convinced him of their guilt, and to believe his wife from now on, instead of his barons.
  • However, the dwarf, Frocin, can predict the future by looking at the courses of the stars and planets. He learns that Mark is about to have him killed and goes into exile in Wales. (Don't question it. It's just how things went down back then.)
  • Yseut tells Brangain what happened at the stream and how she and Tristan managed to deceive Mark. Brangain thanks God. Governal does too, when he learns from Tristan what has happened.
  • Mark comes to Yseut's chamber and asks her whether she has seen Tristan. After promising to tell him the whole truth, she responds that she has seen and spoken with him underneath the pine tree.
  • Yseut repeats the sentiments she expressed under the pine tree: that she honors Tristan on account of Mark and that his barons are liars. She also tells Mark of Tristan's plan to go into exile.
  • The king embraces and kisses her, promising never again to distrust her or Tristan.
  • He tells Yseut that he was hiding in the pine tree. He talks about how guilty and sorry he felt when Tristan recalled how he fought Morholt for him. He tells her that their exchange convinced him of their innocence.
  • Mark sends Brangain to fetch Tristan. Brangain complains that Tristan is mad at her because he thinks she is the cause of Mark's suspicion.
  • Brangain tells Tristan to pretend to be angry with her and reluctant to come to King Mark.
  • When Tristan arrives, Mark asks him for forgiveness for both himself and Brangain.
  • Tristan responds that Mark has deeply wounded him, that he and Yseut never thought of becoming lovers, and that Mark should not trust those who slander him or Yseut. It's hard to keep the truth straight with all this pretending going on! Whose side are we on, anyway?
  • Mark agrees, and they reconcile. Tristan moves back into the palace.

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