Tristan and Isolde have escaped to the forest of Morrios, where, together with Tristan's squire and tutor, Governal, they wait out the wrath of king Mark...
Anyone who would now like to hear a story that shows the benefits of training an animal should listen to me well. You will hear about Tristan's good hunting dog. No king or count ever had one like it. He was fast and alert; he was beautiful and he ran well, and his name was Husdent. He was leashed, and he kept watch from the dungeon. He was unhappy because he missed his master, and he refused all food. he whined and pawed the ground, tears in his eyes. What pity people felt for the dog! They all said: "If he were mine, I would let him go; it would be a shame if he went mad. Oh, Husdent, there never will be another hunting dog who grieves so much for his master. No animal never loved anyone so much. Solomon correctly said that his dog was his best friend. You are proof of that, because you have refused to eat since your master was captured. King, release the dog!" The king, thinking the dog was going mad because he missed his master said to himself: "This dog is most discerning, for in all of Cornwall I do not think that in our time we could find a knight equal of Tristan." The three barons of Cornwall urged the king: "Sir, unleash Husdent. Then we will see whether he is grieving for his master; for if he is mad, he will bite somebody or something as soon as he is free, and his tongue will hang out of his mouth." The king called a squire to have Husdent released. Everyone climbed up on benches and stools for fear of the dog. Everyone said: "Husdent is mad!" But he paid no attention to them. as son as he was released, he ran past them without hesitation; he raced out the door and ran to the house where he used to meet Tristan. The king and the others watched him. the dog barked and whined and appeared to be very sad. Then he picked up his master's trail, and he followed every step that Tristan had taken when he was captured and was to be burned. Everyone urged the dog on. Husdent entered the room where Tristan had been betrayed and arrested; he bounded out of the room, barking, and ran toward the chapel, with the people close behind. Now that he was finally free, he did not stop until he reached the church built on the cliff. the faithful Husdent ran into the chapel without pausing; he jumped onto the alter and, not seeing his master there, jumped out the window. He fell down the cliff and injured his leg. He sniffed the ground and barked. At the edge of the woods where Tristan had taken refuge Husdent paused briefly, then plunged into the forest. Everyone who saw him felt pity for him. The knights said to the king: "Let's stop following the dog. We might not be able to get back easily from where he is leading us." They left the dog and turned back. Husdent found a trail, and the sound of the happy dog barking filled the woods. Tristan was deep in the forest, with the Queen and Governal. They heard the sound; Tristan listened and said: "I am sure that is Husdent I hear." They were frightened. Tristan jumped up and grabbed his bow, and they hid in a thicket. They were afraid of the king and thought he might be with the dog. Husdent, following the trail, wasted no time. When he saw Tristan he recognized him, he raised his head and wagged his tail. Anyone who had seen him weep with joy would have said that no one had ever witnessed such happiness. Husdent ran to the blonde Isolde, and then to Governal. He was happy to see all of them-- even the horse. Tristan felt pity for the dog. "Oh, God," he said, "it is unfortunate that the dog followed us. People in hiding have no need for a dog that will not remain silent in the forest. We have to stay in the woods, hated by the king. Lady, Mark has people searching for us on the plains, in the forest, everywhere! If he found us and captured us, he would have us burned or hanged. We don't need a dog. We can be sure that if Husdent stays with us, he will bring us nothing but trouble. it is better to kill him than to let ourselves be captured because of his barking. I regret that such a noble animal came here only to die; it was his noble nature that made him do it. but what else can I do? It grieves me that I have to kill him. Help me make the decision; we have to protect ourselves!" Isolde told him: "Sir, take pity on him! A dog barks while hunting as much from training as from instinct. After Arthur became king, I heard of a Welsh forester who had trained his hunting dog so that when he wounded a stag with an arrow, the dog would follow the stag anywhere without barking or making a sound. Tristan, it would be wonderful if we could train Husdent not to bark while hunting." Tristan stood and listened to her. He took pity on the animal; he thought a moment and then said: "If I could train Husdent not to bark, he would be of great value to us, and I will try to do it before the week is out. I don't want to kill him; but I am afraid of his barking, because someday when I am with you or Governal, his barking might cause us to be captured. So I will do my best to train him to hunt without barking." Tristan went hunting in the forest. He was a skilled hunter, and he shot a buck. Blood flowed from its wound; the dog barked, and the wounded buck fled. The barking of the excite dog echoed through the forest. Tristan struck him violently. Husdent stopped at his master's side, ceased barking and abandoned the chase. He looked up at Tristan, not knowing what to do. Tristan forced the dog forward, using a stick to clear the path. Husdent wanted to bark again, but Tristan continued to train him. Before the month was up, the dog was so well trained that he followed trails without a sound. Whether on snow, on grass, or on ice, he never abandoned his prey, however fleet or agile it might be. Now the dog was a great help to them, and he served them well. If he caught a deer or buck in the woods, he would hide it carefully, covering it with branches. And if he caught it in the open, as he often did, he would throw grass over it. He would then return to his master and lead him to the place where he had killed the deer. Indeed dogs are very useful animals! . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Listen now to what happened to one of the three whom God has cursed, and through whom the lovers were discovered. he was a powerful man who was highly respected. He loved to hunt with dogs. The people of Cornwall were so afraid of the forest of Morrois that none of them dared enter it. They had good reason to be afraid, for if Tristan would capture them, he would hang them on trees. They were right to avoid the forest! One day Governal was alone with his horse, beside a stream that flowed out of a little spring, He had unsaddled his horse, and it was grazing on the tender grass. Tristan was lying in his hut, with his arms tightly around the queen, for whom he had suffered such hardship and torment; they were both asleep. Governal was hidden, and by chance he heard dogs that were pursuing a stag at full speed. They were the dogs of one of the three whose advise had incited the king's wrath against the queen. the dogs ran, and the stag fled. Governal followed a path and came to a heath; far behind him he saw the man whom his lord hated more than anything, and he was approaching alone, without a squire. he spurred and whipped his horse sharply, so that it sprang forward. the horse stumbled on a stone. Stopping beside a tree, Governal hid and waited for the baron, who was approaching rapidly, but would be slow to flee! The wheel of fortune cannot be turned backward: he was not on his guard against the anger that he inspired in Tristan. Governal, under the tree, saw him coming and waited resolutely. he told himself he would rather have his ashes scattered in the wind than pass up a chance for revenge, for it was because of this man and his actions that all of them nearly perished. The dogs were following the fleeting stag, and the man came after them. Governal jumped out of hiding, and thinking of all the evil the man had done, he cut him to pieces with his sword. He took the head and rode away. the hunters, who had flushed out the frightened stag, were still pursuing it when they saw the headless body of the lord under the tree. they fled as quickly as they could. they were sure that this had been done by Tristan, the object of the king's proclamation.
-- Beroul (ca.1191) The Romance of Tristan. Quoted in The Romance of Arthur: an Anthology of Medieval Texts in Translation.. Ed. James J. Wilhelm. New, expanded edition. Garland Reference Library of the Humanities; vol. 1267. (New York : Garland Publishing, 1994). pp243-246.
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