Here followeth the story of Tristram, how he passed his youth, and how he became a knight of Cornwall of King Mark’s making.
The Story of Sir Tristram and the Lady Belle Isoult
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._
[Illustration: 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 at 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.”
[Sidenote: King Meliadus taketh the Lady Moeya to second wife] And King Meliadus took this counsel to heart, and after a while he said: “What you tell me is true, and so I shall take another Queen, even though it is not in me to love any other woman in all of the world but that dear one who is dead and gone.” So a while after that he took to wife the Lady Moeya, who was the daughter of King Howell of Britain.
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.