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CHAPTER XVI

How Sir Tristram fought with two knights of the Round Table.

THEN within a while Sir Tristram saw them afore him, two likely knights. Sir, said Gouvernail unto his master, Sir, I would counsel you not to have ado with them, for they be two proved knights of Arthur's court. As for that, said Sir Tristram, have ye no doubt but I will have ado with them to increase my worship, for it is many day sithen I did any deeds of arms. Do as ye list, said Gouvernail. And therewithal anon Sir Tristram asked them from whence they came, and whither they would, and what they did in those marches. Sir Sagramore looked upon Sir Tristram, and had scorn of his words, and asked him again, Fair knight, be ye a knight of Cornwall? Whereby ask ye it? said Sir Tristram. For it is seldom seen, said Sir Sagramore, that ye Cornish knights be valiant men of arms; for within these two hours there met us one of your Cornish knights, and great words he spake, and anon with little might he was laid to the earth. And, as I trow, said Sir Sagramore, ye shall have the same handsel that he had. Fair lords, said Sir Tristram, it may so happen that I may better withstand than he did, and whether ye will or nill I will have ado with you, because he was my cousin that ye beat. And therefore here do your best, and wit ye well but if ye quit you the better here upon this ground, one knight of Cornwall shall beat you both.

When Sir Dodinas le Savage heard him say so he gat a spear in his hand, and said, Sir knight, keep well thyself: And then they departed and came together as it had been thunder. And Sir Dodinas' spear brast in-sunder, but Sir Tristram smote him with a more might, that he smote him clean over the horse-croup, that nigh he had broken his neck. When Sir Sagramore saw his fellow have such a fall he marvelled what knight he might be. And he dressed his spear with all his might, and Sir Tristram against him, and they came together as the thunder, and there Sir Tristram smote Sir Sagramore a strong buffet, that he bare his horse and him to the earth, and in the falling he brake his thigh.

When this was done Sir Tristram asked them: Fair knights, will ye any more? Be there no bigger knights in the court of King Arthur? it is to you shame to say of us knights of Cornwall dishonour, for it may happen a Cornish knight may match you. That is truth, said Sir Sagramore, that have we well proved; but I require thee, said Sir Sagramore, tell us your right name, by the faith and troth that ye owe to the high order of knighthood. Ye charge me with a great thing, said Sir Tristram, and sithen ye list to wit it, ye shall know and understand that my name is Sir Tristram de Liones, King Meliodas' son, and nephew unto King Mark. Then were they two knights fain that they had met with Tristram, and so they prayed him to abide in their fellowship. Nay, said Sir Tristram, for I must have ado with one of your fellows, his name is Sir Bleoberis de Ganis. God speed you well, said Sir Sagramore and Dodinas. Sir Tristram departed and rode onward on his way. And then was he ware before him in a valley where rode Sir Bleoberis, with Sir Segwarides' lady, that rode behind his squire upon a palfrey.

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