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Tristram succors the Lady Moeya.
How the new Queen of Lyonesse sought Tristram's life; how he went to France, and how he returned again to Lyonesse and was received with love al that place.
SO King Meliadus grieved very bitterly for the Lady Elizabeth for the space of seven years, and in that time he took but little pleasure in life, and still less pleasure in that son who had been born to him in that wise. Then one day a certain counsellor who was in great favor with the King came to him and said: "Lord, it is not fitting that you should live in this wise and without a mate; for you should have a queen, and you should have other children besides Tristram, else all the fate of this kingdom shall depend upon the life of that one small child."
And King Meliadus took this counsel to heart, and after a while he said:
|King Meliadus taketh the Lady Moeya to second Wife.|
Now Queen Moeya had been married to an Earl of Britain, and by him she had a son who was about the age of Tristram. So she brought this son to Lyonesse with her, and he and Tristram were very good companions.
But the Lady Moeya took great hatred of Tristram, for she said in her heart: "Except for this Tristram, mayhap my son might be King and overlord of this land." And these thoughts brooded with her, so that after a while she began to meditate how she might make away with Tristram so that her own son might come into his inheritance.
Now at that time Tristram was about thirteen years of age and very large and robust of form and of extraordinary strength of body and beauty of countenance. But the son of Queen Moeya was not of such a sort, so the more beautiful and noble Tristram was the more the Queen hated him. So one day she called to her a very cunning chemist and she said to him: "Give me a drink of such and such a sort, so that he who drinks thereof shall certainly die, maugre help of any kind." And the chemist gave her what she desired, and it was in a phial and was of a golden color.
Now Tristram and the son of the Lady Moeya were wont to play ball in a certain court of the castle, and when they would play there they would
|The Lady Moeya devises mischief against Tristram.|
So the two youths played very fiercely at their game, and they waxed exceedingly hot and presently were both very violently athirst. Then Tristram said, "I would I had somewhat to drink," and his stepbrother said, "Look, yonder is a chalice of water; drink! and when thou hast quenched thy thirst, then I will drink also." But Tristram said: "Nay, brother, drink thou first, for thou art more athirst than I." Then at first the son of the Lady Moeya would not have it so, but would have Tristram drink; but afterward he did as Tristram bade him, and, taking the chalice in both hands, he drank freely of that poison which his own mother had
|The son of the Queen drinks of the poison.|
Then the Lady Moeya was in great torment of soul, and beat her breast
and tore her hair and King Meliadus had much ado for to comfort her. And after this she hated Tristram worse than ever before, for she would say to herself: "Except for this Tristram, my own son would yet be alive!"
So she brooded upon these things until she could not rest, whether by day or night. Then one day she took the rest of the poison that was in the phial and poured it into a goblet of yellow wine. This goblet she gave to one of her pages, saying: "Take this to Tristram, and offer it to him when I shall tell you to do so!"
Therewith she went down to the hall where Tristram was, and she said, "Tristram, let there be peace betwixt us." And Tristram said: "Lady, that meets my wishes, for I have never had in my heart aught
|The Lady Moeya seeks Tristram's life a second time.|
Now at that moment King Meliadus came into the hall fresh from the chase, and he was much heated and greatly athirst, wherefore, when he saw that cup of wine he said: "Stay, Tristram, let me drink, for I am greatly athirst. After I have quenched my thirst, then thou shalt drink."
Therewith he took the goblet of wine and made to lift it to his lips. But at that the Lady Moeya cried out, in a very loud and piercing voice, "Do not drink of that wine!" The King said, "Why should I not drink of it?" "No matter," said the Lady Moeya, "thou shalt not drink of it, for there is death in it."
Therewith she ran to the King and catched him by the hand, and she plucked away the goblet so that the wine was spilled out of it upon the ground.
Then King Meliadus gazed at the Lady Moeya, and he thought of many things in very little time. Thereupon he seized her by the hair and dragged her forward, so that she fell down upon her hands and knees to
|King Meliadus threatens to slay the Queen.|
mayst deal with me according to the law, for indeed I am not fit to live." So therewithal the Lady Moeya confessed everything to the King.
Then King Meliadus shouted aloud and called the attendants and said: "Take this woman and cast her into prison, and see that no harm befall her there; for the lords of this country shall adjudge her, and not I." And therewith he turned away and left her.
And thereafter, in due season, the Lady Moeya was brought to trial and was condemned to be burned at the stake.
Now when the day came that she was to be burnt, Tristram was very sorry for her. So when he beheld her tied fast to the stake he came to
|Tristram begs mercy for the Queen.|
Then King Meliadus was very wroth that Tristram should interfere with, the law; but yet he had granted that boon to his son and could not withdraw. So after a while of thought he said: "Well, I have promised, and so I will perform my promise. Her life is thine; go to the stake and take her. But when thou hast done so I bid thee go forth from this place and show thy face here no more. For thou hast interfered with the law, and hast done ill that thou, the son of the King, should save this murderess. So thou shalt leave this place, for I mistrust that between you two some murder will befall in this country."
So Tristram went weeping to where the Queen was bound to the stake; and he cut her bonds with his dagger and set her free. And he said: "Lady, thou art free; now go thy way, and may God forgive thee as I do." Then the Queen wept also, and said, "Tristram, thou art very good to me." And because she was barefoot and in her shift, Tristram took his cloak and wrapped it about her.
After that, Tristram straightway left Lyonesse, and King Meliadus appointed that a noble and honorable lord of the: court, hight Gouvernail,
|Tristram departs from Lyonesse.|
During the time that he was in France he became the greatest hunter
in the world, and he wrote many books on venery that were read and studied long after he had ceased to live. Also he became so skilful with the harp that no minstrel in the world was his equal. And ever he waxed more sturdy of frame and more beautiful of countenance, and more well-taught in all the worship of knighthood. For during that time he became so wonderfully excellent in arms that there was no one in France who was his equal.
Thus Tristram dwelt at peace in that land for five years, but even he longed for his own home with all the might and main of his heart. So one day he said to Gouvernail: "Gouvernail, I cannot deny myself any longer from seeing my father and my own country, for I feel that I must see them or else my heart will certainly break because of its great longing." Nor would he listen to anything that Gouvernail might say contrary to this. So they two took their departure from France, and Tristram travelled as a harper and Gouvernail as his attendant. Thus they came to Lyonesse in that wise.
One day whilst King Meliadus sat at meat, they two came into the hall, and Gouvernail wore a long white beard which altogether disguised him so that no one knew him. But Tristram shone with such a
|How Tristram returns to Lyonesse.|
Then King Meliadus' heart was melted at Tristram's minstrelsy, and he said: "That is wonderful harping. Now ask what thou wilt of me, and it shall be thine, whatever it may be."
To this Tristram said, "Lord, that is a great thing that thou sayest.
"Nevertheless," said King Meliadus, "it shall be as I say." Then Tristram left his harp and he came to where King Meliadus sat, and he kneeled down
before him and he said: "Lord, if so be that is the case, then that which I ask of thee is this: that thou wilt forgive me and bring me back into thy favor again."
At that King Meliadus was filled with a great wonder, and he said: "Fair youth, who art thou, and what have I to forgive thee?" "Lord," said
|King Meliadus is reconciled to Tristram.|
At this King Meliadus cried out with joy, and he came down from where he sat and he took Tristram into his arms and kissed him upon the face, and Tristram wept and kissed his father upon the face.
So they were reconciled.
After that, Tristram abode in peace in Lyonesse for some while, and during that time he made peace betwixt King Meliadus and Queen Moeya, and the Queen loved him because he was so good to her.
Now after the return of Tristram as aforesaid, King Meliadus would have made him a knight, but Tristram would not suffer the honor of
|Tristram refuses knighthood.|
So spoke Sir Tristram, and his words sounded well to King Meliadus, wherefore from thenceforth King Meliadus refrained from urging knighthood upon him.
Now the way that Sir Tristram achieved knighthood shall be told in that' which followeth, and also it shall then be told how he fought his first battle, which was one of the most famous that ever he fought in all of his life.