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How Sir Tristram de Liones was born, and how his mother
died at his birth, wherefore she named him Tristram.

IT was a king that hight Meliodas, and he was lord and king of
the country of Liones, and this Meliodas was a likely knight as
any was that time living.  And by fortune he wedded King Mark's
sister of Cornwall, and she was called Elizabeth, that was called
both good and fair.  And at that time King Arthur reigned, and he
was whole king of England, Wales, and Scotland, and of many other
realms: howbeit there were many kings that were lords of many
countries, but all they held their lands of King Arthur; for in
Wales were two kings, and in the north were many kings; and in
Cornwall and in the west were two kings; also in Ireland were two
or three kings, and all were under the obeissance of King Arthur. 
So was the King of France, and the King of Brittany, and all the
lordships unto Rome.

So when this King Meliodas had been with his wife, within a while
she waxed great with child, and she was a full meek lady, and
well she loved her lord, and he her again, so there was great joy
betwixt them.  Then there was a lady in that country that had
loved King Meliodas long, and by no mean she never could get his
love; therefore she let ordain upon a day, as King Meliodas rode
a-hunting, for he was a great chaser, and there by an enchantment
she made him chase an hart by himself alone <279>till that he
came to an old castle, and there anon he was taken prisoner by
the lady that him loved.  When Elizabeth, King Meliodas' wife,
missed her lord, and she was nigh out of her wit, and also as
great with child as she was, she took a gentlewoman with her, and
ran into the forest to seek her lord.  And when she was far in
the forest she might no farther, for she began to travail fast of
her child.  And she had many grimly throes; her gentlewoman
helped her all that she might, and so by miracle of Our Lady of
Heaven she was delivered with great pains.  But she had taken
such cold for the default of help that deep draughts of death
took her, that needs she must die and depart out of this world;
there was none other bote.

And when this Queen Elizabeth saw that there was none other bote,
then she made great dole, and said unto her gentlewoman:  When ye
see my lord, King Meliodas, recommend me unto him, and tell him
what pains I endure here for his love, and how I must die here
for his sake for default of good help; and let him wit that I am
full sorry to depart out of this world from him, therefore pray
him to be friend to my soul.  Now let me see my little child, for
whom I have had all this sorrow.  And when she saw him she said
thus:  Ah, my little son, thou hast murdered thy mother, and
therefore I suppose, thou that art a murderer so young, thou art
full likely to be a manly man in thine age.  And because I shall
die of the birth of thee, I charge thee, gentlewoman, that thou
pray my lord, King Meliodas, that when he is christened let call
him Tristram, that is as much to say as a sorrowful birth.  And
therewith this queen gave up the ghost and died.  Then the
gentlewoman laid her under an umbre of a great tree, and then she
lapped the child as well as she might for cold.  Right so there
came the barons, following after the queen, and when they saw
that she was dead, and understood none other but the king was
destroyed, [*7]then certain of them would have slain the child,
because they would have been lords of the country of Liones.

[*7] Printed by Caxton as part of chap. ii.