Chapter 15:

How Merlin came eleven days after Pentecost and the king rode out to receive him with two of his favorites, not wanting to take a greater company with him, and received him at a lake of water which was near there, and so they began to talk

Eleven days after Pentecost Merlin came and the king was very happy and went out to receive him. And when Merlin saw the king, he said to him, "You did evil with that place at the table when you allowed that knight to test it."

And the king said, "He wanted to deceive you, and his own deception caught him."

Merlin said, "So it happens to many who want to deceive another and deceive themselves, as they did when they said that peasants had killed me."

And the king said that they had indeed said that. And Merlin said, "Consider yourself punished, and do not allow that place to be tested again, for I say in truth that harm could come to you from it, for the place and the table are of very great and high significance and much good will come to this kingdom because of them."

Uterpadragon asked him to tell what would come of him who would sit in that place, for he took the invisible submergence to be a very great marvel. Merlin said, "No good comes to you of asking nor is it worthwhile that you know; but think about what you began and how to maintain it as honorably as you can, and build something in this villa for love of the Round Table, for you know that you must honor it because of the test you witnessed, and I will go forth when you do what I told you."

And the king said that he would do it all. So Merlin left the king and went away. The king commanded great halls to be built in the villa in which he would always hold court, and he had it known throughout the land that during these three feasts he would always hold court in Cardoyl: the festival of Christmas, the day of Pentecost, and All Saints' Day. And for a long time he held his courts there, as he had made it his custom.

On one of these feast days it happened that King Uterpadragon sent for his noblemen, and sent to tell them that they should bring their wives with them for love of him and for honor's sake, and they did just as the king had commanded.

A great company of knights and ladies and damsels came there, and among them came the duke of Tintagel and his wife Iguerna, who was one of the beauties of the world. And as soon as Uter saw her, he loved her greatly, but did not show her his love, but watched her willingly. And as soon as she understood it, she endeavored some days to appear before the king as little as she could, for she was a good lady and much beloved of her husband. And the king because of his love sent gifts to all the ladies and damsels, and as Iguerna saw that he sent gifts to all of them, she did not fear to take her gifts, but she understood that he would not have sent anything to the others except so that she might receive hers. And so Uter held court so troubled by love that he did not know what to do, so he begged all the squires and knights to come to him for Pentecost and bring their wives, as they had brought them at that time, and they agreed to it.

So they left, and when they were to leave, the king went a long distance with the duke of Tintagel and honored him greatly, and upon leaving said to Iguerna, "Lady, you bear my heart with you."

But she pretended not to understand him, and the king left them, and the duke went away with his wife, and the king stayed in Cardoyl and honored the good men who sat at his table, but all his heart was certainly with Iguerna. And so he suffered his trouble until Pentecost. And on this day even more noblemen and ladies and damsels came than had come the other time, and the king was happy to see this, and he gave many thanks to God and gave many gifts to all the ladies and knights, and made an express mandate that all should be in Cardoyl with him for Easter and that they should bring their wives, and all were obligated to stay fifteen days, and they did just as the king had commanded.

That festival the king was crowned, and he gave many pieces of jewelry and horses to his noblemen and his knights and ladies and damsels and to all those who he understood would use them well. The king was very happy during this festival, and he spoke with a squire whose name was Ulfin whom he trusted more than anyone, and told him the great love he felt for Iguerna, so that he thought he would die if no counsel were to be had. And Ulfin said to him, "Lord, it is a bad idea to want to die for a woman, for I heard it said that no woman who is desired and followed after cannot be vanquished, and any good man may do his will upon her, especially if gifts are given to her and those she loves, and I never heard anything said of woman which could be held against this. And you, who are king, are cheerless? You should not think such, lord."

Then the king said to Ulfin, "You say well, and you know what is necessary to such a matter. I beg you to help me as best you can, and take from my possessions what you wish and give it as you have said, and fulfill each person's pleasure, and speak with Iguerna as you see you must."

And Ulfin said, "Believe that I will do everything in my power."

Ulfin said to the king, "Lord, love suffers and guards neither reason nor right measure, and since it is so, to complete the task we must court the Duke's love, and keep him company and do him honor as best you can, so that you have his love, and I will think about how I may speak with Iguerna."

And the king said that he could well do that. And so they spoke, and the king made great entertainments for the duke, and the duke was always in his company, and he gave many gifts to him and his company. And Ulfin spoke with Iguerna and told her what he knew would best please her and often brought her rich gifts, but she would not let herself take them and did not wish to say anything about such a matter as Ulfin asked of her. And it happened one day that Iguerna took Ulfin aside and said, "Ulfin, why do you give me these gifts?"

Ulfin responded, "Lady, I could not give you anything you merited more, for all the possessions of the kingdom are yours, to do with as will do you service."

She said, "How is this?"

"And Ulfin responded, "Because you have the heart of him who owns the kingdom, and his heart is yours, and for that reason all things are in your hand."

And Iguerna said, "Whose heart do you speak of?"

And Ulfin said, "The king's."

And she marveled and said, "Ah, God! How kings have become traitors! For this man pretends to love my lord to dishonor me. And I tell you never to speak more of this to me, because I will tell my husband, and if he finds out it will be your death."

And Ulfin said, "It would be honorable for me to die for my lord. But I beg you to have mercy on the king, since great good will come to you of it."

And Iguerna responded, "God willing, I shall defend myself."

So Ulfin left Iguerna, and went to the king and told him what Iguerna had said.

And the king said, "No good lady should allow herself to be vanquished in such a brief time, and I love her more for it."

On that same day the king was at table and the duke with him. And the king had before him a very beautiful and rich cup of gold, and Ulfin knelt before the king and said to him, "Lord, send that cup to Iguerna, the wife of the lord duke."

The king said, "You say well."

And he was very happy, and the king said to the duke, "You see here a very beautiful cup; send it to Iguerna, your wife, so she may take it and drink from it."

The duke responded as one who expected no evil and said to the king, "Lord, many thanks."

And he took it very willingly and called one of his knights whose name was Bretel and said to him, "Take this cup, and bear it to your lady on behalf of the king."

And Bretel took the cup and went to the room where Iguerna was eating, and knelt before her and said to her, "Lady, take this cup which the king sends to you, and my lord commands you to take it and drink from it for love of the king."

And when she heard this, she was very heavy of heart, and blushed, and did not dare refuse to take the cup, and took it and drank from it, for the cup was full of wine. And after she drank from it, she said to Bretel to take it back to the king, and Bretel said, "My lord commands you to take it, and the king begged that very much."

And when she saw that matters stood thus, she took the cup, and Bretel returned to the king and said that she had been very grateful; and he lied in this, since she had said nothing to him.

The king wished to know why Iguerna had taken the cup, and Ulfin went to the palace, where Iguerna was eating with other ladies, to see how her countenance appeared, and found her very angry and pensive. And after they removed the tables she called Ulfin and said to him, "Your lord sent me the cup through great treachery, but know that he will gain nothing from it; I will make him greatly shamed before the day breaks, for I will tell my lord the treachery you and the king pursue."

And Ulfin responded, "Do not be so foolish as to say such things to your lord, since he will not believe you, and therefore you had better watch yourself well."

And she said, "May evil come to anyone who guards such knowledge."

Then Ulfin left her and went for the king who had risen from table and was very happy. And he took the duke by the hand and said to him, "Let us go to see the ladies."

And the duke said, "That pleases me."

And they went to the palace where Iguerna and the other ladies were eating. Many knights went there to see the ladies. But Iguerna knew that the king only came there to see her, and she suffered all that day, and she went back to her lodging at night. And when the duke went there, he found her weeping, and took her in his arms as one who loved her much and asked her what was wrong, and she said that she wished she were dead. And the duke marveled and asked her why, and she said, "I will not hide it from you. Know that the king loves me very much, and all these courtesies you see him do, he only does for my sake, and all these ladies he had come, he only invited so that you would bring me here; and I always defended myself from him and his gifts, and now you made me take the cup and sent to me to tell me to drink from it for love of the king; and because of this and because I cannot defend myself from him or from Ulfin his counselor I want to be dead; therefore I feared that if I told you that you would not be able to leave him without ill result. And I beg you as my lord to return me to Tintagel, for I do not want to stay in this villa any more."

And when the duke heard that his lord the king loved his wife, he was so angry that he could not be angrier, and sent for his knights secretly and said to them, "Make ready all your things and prepare to ride as secretly as we can, and do not ask why until I tell you, and do not take anything of your own, save your horses and arms, because I want the king not to know that we are going."

And all was done just as the duke had said, and they rode out as secretly as they could and went toward their land. And in the morning the tumult in the villa from those who had remained there was great, and they prepared to go after him. In the morning, when the king found out that the duke had gone, he was very angry and sent for his noblemen and told them of the dishonor the duke had done him, and they marveled greatly that he would do such folly, and none of them knew why the duke did it nor how the problem could be amended. And he told them that he would counsel them on how amends could be made, and recounted to them how much honor and love he had given the duke, more than to any of the others. They said that they marveled why he did it, and the king said, "I will send to him, if you counsel me so, to come to make amends for the wrong he did me, and to return to me just as he left."

All agreed to this counsel and the king sent two good men, and they went to the duke and told him the message. And when the duke heard that he was commanded to return as he had come, he understood that it was said so that he would bring Iguerna with him, and he said to the messengers, "Lords, tell the king that I will not return to his court, for I have received such wrong from him that I will not enter his court nor his power, but I call God to judge between him and me, for he knows what wrong he wanted to do me that I should never more take him for my lord or love him."

And with that answer the messengers left him, and they went back and told the message to the king. The duke then sent for his vassals and favorites, and told them the reason he left Cardoyl, and the disloyalty the king contemplated with his wife.

When they heard this they marveled greatly and said, "This cannot be, and certes, he who seeks to do such treachery should receive evil."

And the duke said to them, "Lords, I beg you in God's name to help me to defend my land if the king wishes to make war on me, for the sake of your honor and because it is what you ought to do."

All said as one that they would do that willingly and that they would risk their bodies and possessions to serve him. In this manner the duke came to an agreement with his vassals.

The king, when he heard the mandate that the messengers brought him, begged his noblemen to help him to avenge his great wrong and the dishonor to his court, and they took the duke for a madman, whom they had used to take for wise, and all said that they would do it willingly, but that the king should send first to challenge him. And the king begged them to go with him that day in accord, and it was so, and the king sent to challenge the duke. And the duke answered them that he would defend himself as best he could, and the messengers returned to the king with this defiance. And the duke had his vassals and friends assemble and told them how the king had sent them challenge, and asked them how it seemed to them. They, when they heard this, answered that they would help him very willingly with all their strength. And the duke said to them, "You know how I have two very strong castles, where if the king should take them, he could defend himself very well and much to his safety. And certes, they are such that they king and his entire kingdom could not take them by force while I live."

And he prepared very well, and took his wife and put her with two hundred knights in a castle which was called Tintagel, for he knew that that castle had no other defenders. And the duke with all his knights went to another castle which was very great, but was not strong, for he well knew that he could not defend the other lands. And so the duke made ready as best he could to await the king and defend himself from him.