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Sir Tristram of Lyonesse.
THERE was a certain kingdom called Lyonesse, and the King of that country was hight Meliadus, and the Queen thereof who was hight the Lady Elizabeth, was sister to King Mark of Cornwall.
In the country of Lyonesse, there was a very beautiful lady, who was a cunning and wicked sorceress. This lady took great love for King Meliadus, who was of an exceedingly noble appearance, and she meditated continually how she might bring him to her castle so as to have him near her.
Now King Meliadus was a very famous huntsman, and he loved the chase above all things in the world, excepting the joy he took in the love of his Queen, the Lady Elizabeth. So, upon a certain day, in
|King Meliadus rides a-hunting.|
About the prime of the day the hounds started, of a sudden, a very wonderful stag. For it was white and its horns were gilded very bright, shining like pure gold, so that the creature itself appeared like a living miracle in the forest. When this stag broke cover, the hounds immediately set chase to it with a great outcry of yelling, as though they were suddenly gone frantic, and when the King beheld the creature, he also was immediately seized as with a great fury for chasing it. For, beholding it, he shouted aloud and drove spurs into his horse, and rushed away at such a pass that
his court was, in a little while, left altogether behind him, and he and the chase were entirely alone in the forest.
The stag, with the hounds close behind it, ran at a great rate through the passes of the woodlands, and King Meliadus pursued it with might and main until the chase burst out of the forest into an open plain beyond the
|King Meliadus chases the stag.|
But when the hounds that pursued the stag came to that frozen water, they stinted their pursuit and stood whimpering upon the brink, for the ice and the water repelled them. But King Meliadus made no such pause, but immediately leaped off from his horse, and plunged into the water and swam across in pursuit of the stag. And when he reached the other side, he chased the stag afoot with great speed, and therewith the stag ran to the castle and into the court-yard thereof, and King Meliadus ran after it. Then, immediately he had entered in, the gates of the castle were shut and King Meliadus was a prisoner.
(Now you are to know that that castle was the abode of the beautiful enchantress afore spoken of, and you are to know that she had sent that
|King Meliadus is made prisoner at an enchanted castle.|
Now, when those who were with the King returned to the castle of Lyonesse without him, and when the King did not return that day nor the
|The Lady Elizabeth grieves to distraction.|
So for a long time they kept her within the castle; but upon a certain day she broke away from her keepers and ran out from the castle and into the forest ere those in attendance upon her knew she had gone. Only
one gentlewoman saw her, and she called upon a young page to follow her, and thereupon ran after the Queen whither she went, with intent to bring her back again.
But the Lady Elizabeth ran very deep into the forest, and the gentlewoman and the page ran after her; and the Queen thought that she was going to find her lord in the forest. So she ran very rapidly
|The Lady Elizabeth escapes into the forest.|
Now the gentlewoman, seeing how it was with the Queen, called the page to her and said: "Make haste! Go back to the castle of Lyonesse, and bring some of the knights of the castle with all speed, else the Queen will die at this place." And upon that the page ran off with great speed to do her bidding and the Queen was left alone with her gentlewoman.
Then the gentlewoman said, "Lady, what cheer?" And the Queen said, "Alas, I am sick to death." The gentlewoman said, "Lady, cannot you bear up a little until help cometh?" Thereupon the Lady Elizabeth fell to weeping very piteously, and said, "Nay, I cannot bear up any longer, for the cold hath entered into my heart." (Yea, even at that time death was upon her because of the cold at her heart.)
Then by and by in the midst of her tears and in very sore travail a man-child was born to the Queen, and when that came to pass a great peace fell suddenly upon her.
Then she said, speaking to the nurse like one in great weariness, "What child is it that I have given unto the world?" The nurse said, "It is a man-child." The Queen said to her, "Hold him up until I see him."
|How Tristram is born in the forest.|
Then in a little while the Lady died, and the gentlewoman stood weeping beside her, making great outcry in that cold and lonely forest.
Anon there came those knights who were sent from the castle to find the Queen; and when they came to that place, they beheld that she lay upon the ground all cold and white like to a statue of marble stone. So they lifted her up and bare her away upon a litter, and the gentlewoman followed weeping and wailing in great measure, and bearing the child wrapped in a mantle.
So Tristram was born in that wise, and so his name was given to him because of the tears that were shed at his birth.
And now it is to be told how King Meliadus returned from that castle of enchantment where he was held prisoner.
At this time Merlin was still living in the world, for Vivien had not yet bewitched him, as hath been told in the Book of King Arthur. So by and
|King Meliadus is released from durance.|
Here followeth the story of Tristram, how he passed his youth, and how he became a knight of Cornwall of King Mark's making.
HERE followeth the story of Sir Tristram of Lyonesse, who, with Sir Launcelot of the Lake, was deemed to be one of the two most worthy and perfect knights champion of his day.
Likewise herein shall be told the story Of the Lady Belle Isoult, who next to Queen Guinevere, was reckoned to be the most fair, gentle lady in all of the world.