Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Chapter 129 [part 2 of 4]

[How Amadis confronted Balan and what he demanded of him, and how Grasandor came to search for Amadis.]

[Lancelot crossing the sword-bridge. Detail from the Church of Saint-Pierre, Caen, France. Photo by Roi.dagobert.]

And so as the story tells you, Amadis went with the giantess who was the wife of Balan into the castle, and when he was inside, they had the giant told that the knight whom he had fought was there and wished to speak to him. Balan ordered them to bring Amadis to his bed, and it was done. When Amadis was in the chamber, he said:

“Balan, I am very vexed with thee, for I came here looking for thee and placed myself in thy power, trusting thy word, to fight thee with the assurances thou gavest to the lady for whom I came and then to the knight from Prince Island, yet thy men broke thy promise and tried to kill me vilely. I fully believe that this did not please thee nor didst thou order it, but that did not keep me from danger, for I came very close to death. Yet however it was, I am content by what thou didst with thy son.

“I ask thee, Balan, to make amends to the lady who brought me here. If not, I cannot release thee from the battle until it is over, although it has already concluded, for it was up to me to kill thee or save thee. I love thee and esteem thee more than thou knowest for being a relative of Gandalac, the giant of the Peak of Galtares, for I have learned that thou art wed to his daughter. But although I hold this volition, I cannot permit myself to fail to make thee give this lady her justice.”

The giant answered him:

“Knight, although the pain and sorrow I find myself in for being defeated by a single knight is so great and so strange that I have never felt it before today, and it hurts more than death, it is nothing compared to what I feel over what my son and my men did to thee. And if my strength gave me the chance to carry it out myself, thou wouldst see how far the strength of my word could extend. But I can do no more than deliver to thee he who did it, although he be the only mirror in which his mother and I see ourselves. If thou desirest more, ask for it and thy will shall be satisfied.”

Amadis told him:

“I am content with what thou didst. Now tell me what thou shalt do regarding the lady.”

“Thou shalt see what I will do,” the giant said, “but I cannot make amends for the son of this lady, who is dead. I urge thee to ask of me what is possible.”

“So I shall,” Amadis said, “for otherwise would be madness.”

“Then say what thou wishest,” he said.

“What I wish,” Amadis said, “is that immediately thou shall release the husband of this lady, and her daughter, and all their company, and shall restore to them all their goods and their ship, and in exchange for the son thou killed, thou shall give thine own, who shall be wed to that daughter. Although thou art a great lord, I tell thee that of lineage and all goodness she owes thee nothing, because they are hardly lacking in estate and grandeur, for besides their great possessions and income, they are governors of one of my father’s kingdoms.”

When he heard this, the giant looked at him more closely than ever, and he said:

“I ask thee for the courtesy to tell me who thou art, for thou has placed thyself high, and tell me who thy father is.”

“Know,” Amadis said, “that my father is King Perion of Gaul, and I am his son Amadis.”

When the giant heard this, he immediately raised up his head as best he could, and he said:

“What is this? Is it true that thou art the Amadis who killed my father?”

“I am,” he said, “he who to rescue King Lisuarte, who was at the point of death, killed a giant, and they tell me he was thy father.”

“Then I tell thee, Amadis,” the giant said, “that I do not know to what to attribute this great daring to come to my lands, whether to thy great courage or to the reputation of my being true to my word.  But thy great heart has been the reason, which never feared nor failed to act and to defeat all dangers. And since fortune is so favorable to thee, it is not reasonable for me to contradict its efforts from here on, since it has shown me that my own efforts are not enough to harm thee. And as for what thou sayest about my son, I give him to thee to do thy will with him, and not for the goodness I had hoped of him but for the badness, for of he who does not keep his word no praise may be made. And likewise I release the knight and his daughter and their companions, as thou hast ordered, and I wish to become thy friend to do thy orders in all things that thou findest necessary for me.”

Amadis thanked him for this and said:

“I take thee as my friend for who thou art to Gandalac, and as a friend I ask thee from here on to abandon this bad custom on this island, for if thou dost not conform to the service of God, following His holy doctrines in all other things, although they may bring thee some hope of honor and advantage, in the end they cannot keep thee from falling into great misfortune. And thou canst see it is so: He wished to guide me here, where I had not meant to travel, and to give me strength to overcome and defeat thee, which given the great size of thy body and the oversized courage of thy valiant heart, I could not have prevailed and done thee harm without His mercy. But let us speak no more of this, for I believe thou shalt do what I ask. Forgive thy son for his young age, which was the cause of his error, because I love his mother like a sister. And have him and the damsel come here so that they may immediately be betrothed.”

“Since I am determined to be thy friend,” the giant said, “everything shall be done that thou considerest good.”

Then he ordered the knight to be brought there who was the husband of the lady, and their daughter and all their companions. Darioleta, like them, was as pleased to see the matter brought to such an end as if she were made lady of the world. And before them and the mother and grandmother of the boy they were betrothed, and Amadis ordered that the wedding be arranged promptly.

Now the story wishes to show you the reason for this wedding. First it would have ye know how Amadis ended that great adventure to his honor and to the satisfaction of that lady who brought him there to defeat the mighty Balan, and although he was his enemy because he had killed his father, he had dared to go to that island where he was put in great danger, as ye have heard.

The second reason is for ye to know that to Bravor, son of Balan, and to the daughter of Darioleta was born a son named Galeote, who took after his mother, for he was not so large nor so out of proportion as giants were. Galeote was lord of that island after his father Bravor’s life was over, and he married a daughter of Sir Galvanes and his wife, the beautiful Madasima. And from them was born another son who was named Balan like his great-grandfather. Thus one son succeeded the other, reigning over that island, for so long that from them was descended the valiant and courageous Sir Segurades, first cousin of the elderly knight who came to the court of King Arthur, 120 years old, and although for the 40 previous years he had ceased to bear arms due to his age, without a lance he brought down all the knights of great renown who were found in the court at that time.

Segurades lived in the time of Uther Pendragon, father of King Arthur and lord of Great Britain, and he left a son and ruler of that island named Bravor the Brun, who was given that name because he was excessively brave, for in the language of the time “brun” meant brave. Tristan of Leonis killed Bravor in a battle at that island, where by fate the sea had cast him and Isolda the Blonde, daughter of King Languines of Ireland, and their entire company, who were bringing her to marry King Mares of Cornwall, his uncle.

From Bravor the Brun came the great and courageous Prince Galeote the Brun, lord of the Far-off Islands, a great friend of Lancelot of the Lake, and so from this ye can know, if ye have read or shall read the book about Sir Tristan and Lancelot where these Bruns are mentioned, how his lineage was founded. And because they were descended from that giant, son of Balan, they were always called giants although their bodies did not conform too their size on his mother’s side, as we have told you, and also because all those in that lineage were very mighty and valiant at arms, and with a great part of the arrogance and treachery from which they had been descended.

But now we shall leave Amadis at that island where he spent some days resting to recover from the wounds Balan had given him in that fight, and which the giant and his wife had insisted on, where he was served very well. We shall tell you the story about what Grasandor did after the huntsman gave him Amadis’s orders and he learned that Amadis had gone with the lady in that boat out to sea.

This story has told you that when Amadis departed at the seashore with the lady in that boat and armed himself with the armor of the dead knight, he ordered one of his men to tell Grasandor how he had left and to inter the knight and win Amadis forgiveness from his lady Oriana. This man went immediately to the place where Grasandor was hunting, who did not know that Amadis had left. Instead, he thought that like all the rest he was with his hunting dog and the beaters where he had been assigned.

The man gave him Amadis’s orders, and when Grasandor heard them, he wondered what cause could have made Amadis depart, especially having left without first getting permission from his lady Oriana. He immediately left the hunt and ordered the mountaineer to guide him to where the dead knight was.

When they arrived, he saw him lying on the ground, but he saw nothing in the sea, since the boat with Amadis was already too distant. He immediately had the knight loaded onto a palfrey, and he brought together all the company to return to Firm Island, thinking hard about what he would do. When he arrived at the foot of the hill, he ordered the men with him to inter the knight in the monastery there, which Amadis had established to honor the Virgin Mary when he left for Poor Rock, as the second book of this story has recounted.

He went to where Oriana and his wife Mabilia were. When they saw him alone, they asked where Amadis was. He told them everything that had happened and what he knew, and he left nothing out, but he spoke with a happy expression on his face so he would not trouble them. When Oriana heard this, for a while she could not speak because she was so upset, and when she had recovered, she said:

“I am sure that if Amadis left without you and without telling me about it, he must have had a good reason.”

Grasandor told her:

“My lady, I believe the same, but I ask pardon from you on his behalf, which he left word for me to say with the man who saw him go.”

“My good lord,” Oriana said, “it is more necessary to ask God in His mercy to protect him than to ask me to pardon him. I know well that he has never failed me at any time in the past, nor shall he do so in the future, out of the faith I have in the great and true love he holds for me. But what do ye think ought to be done?”

Grasandor told her:

“It seems to me, my lady, that it would be good if I went to look for him, and if I find him, to undergo the same good or trouble that he has, for I will not rest day or night until I find him.”

All those ladies agreed that Grasandor should do so immediately, but Mabilia never ceased to weep that night about it, thinking that during the voyage he could not avoid encountering great dangers and conflicts. But in the end, wishing more for honor for her husband than for satisfaction for her desires, she thought it best for him to go.

When morning came, Grasandor rose and heard Mass, bid farewell to Oriana and Mabilia and the other ladies, boarded a ship, and brought with him his arms, a horse, two squires with the necessary provisions, and a sailor to guide them. Then he went out to sea in the same direction that Amadis had gone.

Grasandor traveled on through the sea not knowing where he should go except where fate brought him, for he had no other certainty besides only knowing which way Amadis had gone. And so journeying as ye hear all that day and night and the next day, they sailed without finding a single person who could tell them any news, and his misfortune on the second night brought him to pass very close to Prince Island unable to see it in the darkness, for if he had put in port there, he could not have failed to find Amadis because he would have learned that Amadis had docked there and that the knight who governed that island had left in his company, and he would have immediately been sent to the Island of the Vermilion Tower.

But things happened differently, and he sailed on far that night, and the next day, and at night he found himself on the seashore at a large beach. There Grasandor ordered the ship to stop until morning to learn what that land was. And so they waited until day came and they could make out the land, and it seemed to them that it must be the mainland, filled with beautiful groves of trees.

Grasandor ordered his horse to be brought out, and he armed himself and told the sailor not to leave there until he returned or on his orders, because he wished to see where they had dropped anchor and to try to learn some news about whom he sought.

Then he mounted his horse, and with his squires on foot, for they had not bought palfreys so that the ship would travel lighter. So they went most of the day and did not find a single person, and they were very amazed that the land seemed unpopulated. He dismounted at the edge of a forest which lay alongside a spring he had found, and the squires gave food to him and his horse, and after they had eaten, they told him:

“My lord, let us go back to the ship, for this land seems uninhabited.”

Grasandor told them:

“Remain here, since ye cannot accompany me, and I shall ride on until I hear news. And if I do not find anything, I shall promptly return to you, and if ye see that I am late, return to the ship, and if I can, I shall be there.”

The squires, who were already tired and could not continue, commended him to God and told him that they would do as he ordered.


Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Chapter 129 [part 1 of 4]

How Darioleta lamented the great danger Amadis was in. 

[Petronilla of Aragon (1136-1173), Queen of Aragon from 1137 to 1164. From The Portuguese Genealogy, made in Lisbon, Portugal, between 1530 and 1534. At the British Library.]

Darioleta, the lady who had caused Amadis to come there, when she saw him surrounded by all his enemies without any chance or hope for rescue from any source, began to lament passionately and to curse her fate, which had brought her so much suffering and pain, saying:

“Oh, misfortunate wretch! What will become of me if the best knight ever born were to die because of me? How will I dare to appear before his father and mother and brothers knowing that I was the cause of his death? At the time of his birth, I labored to save his life, using my knowledge to make and build the ark so he could escape, from which I have received great rewards, but if he were to die now, he would die with nothing to his advantage, and not only would I have lost my past efforts, I would be worthy of dying with more sorrow and torment than any other person because I have brought death to him, the flower and height of the world.

“Oh, such is my affliction, because I did not give him time at the seashore when I arrived to let him return to Firm Island and bring some knights who could have aided him, or at least could have rightly died with him! But what can I say but that my rashness and passion were due to womanhood?”

So as ye hear Darioleta lamented beneath the entrance to a church with great anguish in her heart and no other expectation but to see Amadis die soon, and to see herself and her husband and daughter placed in a prison from which they would never leave.

Amadis was within the fissure between those rocks as we have told you, and he saw what the lady was doing because, with the large fire before him, he could watch the entire plaza although it was exceedingly large. He felt great sorrow to see her weeping and raising her hands to heaven as if to ask for mercy, and his rage grew so great that it drove him from his senses.

He thought that he would be in much more danger when day came than during the night, because at night most of the people of the island were resting and he would only have to protect himself from those before him, and when morning came many more men could attack him, so he could not escape being killed. Although they could not harm him there, sleep and hunger would overcome him and would place him in their hands.

With this rage he thought to risk everything, and gripping his shield, with his sword in hand, he prepared to attack his enemies. But the knight from Prince Island, who was very worried that he might be harmed and his promise broken despite the assurances he had given to him on behalf of the giant, was among them to make sure the men would not come at him until the health of the giant was determined, because he believed that when the giant regained his senses, he would correctly apply his will to the situation, and his promise would be kept.

When he saw that Amadis was preparing to come out and attack, he came to him as fast as he could and said:

“My lord knight, I ask you for the courtesy of listening to me a little before ye come out.”

Amadis remained still, and the knight told him everything he had discussed with Bravor, the giant’s son, and how nothing would happen until morning came, and by then the giant would be much better and conscious. Beyond all doubt Amadis could believe that the giant would fulfill everything he had obliged himself to, even if he were close to death. If Amadis would wait until then, he had faith that God would solve and take care of everything.

Amadis listened to him speak and believed it was all true because in the brief time that he had known him, he had come to consider him a good man. He said:

“For your love I shall wait this time, but I tell you, knight, that all the effort ye place in this will be lost if the first thing he does is not to make amends to the lady.”

The knight told him:

“He shall do this and much more, or I cannot consider myself a knight nor this giant to be who I have always thought he was. Ye may believe that he possesses great virtue and truth.”

Amadis remained quietly in place where he was. And so, as ye hear, he was surrounded by his enemies, trapped between rough rocks, and both he and they were waiting for morning.

Now the story says that after the giant’s men had carried him to the castle as stunned as if he were dead, they placed him in his bed, where he spent most of the night unable to speak and only laid his hand directly over his heart to show that this was where the pain came from. When his mother and wife saw that, they had the doctors examine him, and they immediately found his trouble, and they gave him so many potions and tended to him in other ways that before dawn he was completely conscious.

When he could speak, he asked where he was. The doctors told him he was in his bed.

“Then, the battle that I had with that knight,” he said, “how did it go?”

They told him the entire truth, for they did not dare lie about anything, as is right to speak to truthful men, telling him everything that had happened, and how when the knight from Firm Island had him on the ground, his son Bravor, thinking he was dead, had come out with his men from the castle, and they had the knight surrounded between some rocks in the plaza where the battle had been, and were waiting for his orders.

When the giant heard this, he said:

“Is the knight alive?”

“Yes,” they said.

“Then have my son come here and all the men who are with him, and let the knight go free.”

This was immediately done, and when the giant saw his son, he said:

“Traitor, why hast thou broken my promise? What honor and gain could come to thee from what thou hast done? For if I were dead, thou couldst do nothing to restore me, and much more dead would be thy honor, with greater loss to my lineage by that broken promise and thy deeds than my death as a knight, and nothing could be done about it. If I were to live, dost thou not know that thou canst not escape death from me anywhere for what thou wouldst have done? Thus thou and all those who do not keep their word stray far from their intent, for by thinking to avenge injuries, they fall into them with more shame and dishonor than ever. But I shall make thee suffer for what thou hast done wrong.”

Then he ordered him seized and tied hand and foot and placed before the knight from Firm Island, and he should be told how wrong his son had been in breaking his word, and the knight should take what amends he wished with him. And so they brought him before Amadis and placed him at his feet. The boy’s mother, when she saw this, was afraid that the knight, as a man done wrong, would do the boy some harm, and as a mother she came, without the giant knowing it, as fast as she could to where Amadis was.

At that time, Amadis had his helmet in his hand, which he had never removed from his head earlier when he was surrounded, and his sword in its sheath, and was untying the giant’s son to set him free. When the lady arrived and saw his face, she immediately recognized him as Amadis, and came to him, alone and weeping, and said:

“My lord, do ye recognize me?”

Amadis, although he immediately saw that she was the daughter of Gandalac, his brother Sir Galaor’s foster father, he answered her by saying:

“My lady, I do not know you.”

“Well,” she said, “my lord, I am well aware that you are Amadis, brother of my lord Sir Galaor. And if ye would prefer that your name be secret, I shall do so, and if ye wish it to be known, do not fear the giant, for he has given you his assurance. Ye shall see that he is willing to keep his word by what he does, for he has sent you his son and mine, who broke his promise, so that ye may take any vengeance on him that ye wish, and for which I ask mercy from you.”

“My good lady,” Amadis said, “ye already know how obliged we all are who are the brothers and sisters and friends of Sir Galaor to whatever involves your father and his children. I also wish to show you the same consideration in another matter very dear to you, and ye have no need to thank me for it, because without your request I was letting him go. I do not wish to take vengeance except against those who try to defend their evil deeds.

“And as for what ye say about my name and whether I would prefer to have it be made known or kept secret, I say that I would rather the giant know who I am and that ye tell him that I shall not leave here in any fashion until he makes the amends that I order him to do for the lady who brought me here.

“And if he is as truthful as everyone says, he should return and place himself here as he was when I had defeated him in this field so that I may do whatever I will, for if he was taken from here senseless he has some excuse, but now that he has consciousness, he has no honest reason to avoid it.”

The lady thanked him with great humility and said:

“My lord, do not doubt my husband, for he shall return here as ye say or fulfill everything ye order. And without any concern ye may come with me to see him.”

“My good lady and friend,” he said, “without concern I would trust you with my life, but I do fear the nature of giants, who are rarely governed by and submitted to reason, since their great fury and rage governs them in all things.”

“That is true,” the lady said, “but for what I know about this giant, I ask you to come with me without any fear.”

“If this pleases you,” Amadis said, “I consider it good.”

Then he put his helmet on his head, picked up his shield, put his hand on his sword, and went with her, considering that he could be more safe there than where he had been expecting death without any hope for aid, for even if he were to have killed all the men surrounding him, that would not have been enough to save himself. Before he could have set out to sea, because everything there was under the control of the giant’s men, the people of the island themselves would kill him; for although in other places where giants ruled, they were despised for their arrogance and cruelty, Balan was not hated by his people because he protected their safety without taking anything from them. So for Amadis to think he could withstand those people was impossible.

For those reasons he risked, without any more assurance than he had been given at first and that the lady had provided, to enter into that great castle armed as he was, and if they were doing that to trick him, he would do amazing things before they could kill him.


Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Chapter 128 [part 3 of 3]

[Of the greater danger that befell Amadis after defeating the giant.]

[Targe and pavise shields of Lluís Cornell, from the end of the 14th century, in the Fine Arts Museum of Castellón, Spain.]

When the giant fell, Amadis immediately came to him, took off his helmet, put the point of his sword in his face, and said:

“Balan, thou art dead if thou dost not satisfy the lady for the harm that thou didst to her.”

But Balan did not respond or understand what he had said, for he was as if dead. Then the knight from Prince Island, who had come with Amadis, drew near and said:

“My lord knight, is the giant dead?”

“I do not believe so,” Amadis said, “but the giant cannot breathe, as ye see, and I did not observe any mortal blow at all.”

And he said the truth, for the blow to the giant’s chest that impaired his breathing he had not noticed or felt himself give. The knight said:

“My lord, out of courtesy I ask you not to kill him until he has regained consciousness and sufficient judgement to satisfy this lady by his free will. As well, you should not kill him because if he dies, no one will be powerful enough to save your life.”

“For that reason,” Amadis said, “although I shall not fail to do as I wish with him, because of your love for him and because he is related to Gandalac, I shall refrain from killing him until he knows whether he wishes to agree to what I asked.”

As they were speaking, they saw the son of the giant and as many as thirty armed men leaving the castle, and they came shouting:

“Die, die traitor!”

When Amadis heard this, ye may understand what kind of hope he had for his life seeing them all coming furiously to kill him. But he decided not to seek their mercy, and if death came to him it would be after having done everything in his power without failing in a single thing. He looked to one side and the other around him, and he saw a crack between some rocks that surrounded the plaza, for it had been made by removing all of its stones and rocks, but many of them still remained around it.

He ran there and raised up the giant’s shield, which was large and strong, and put it at the entrance to that crack, so they could only hurt him except from the front, and not from above because there was an overhang. When the men arrived, some went to the giant to see if he was dead, and others charged at Amadis. Three men came up to him and attacked with their lances, but they could not do him harm because as we have told you, the shield was very large and strong and covered most of his body and legs, and it, after God, saved his life.

One of the three attacked him with his sword, and when Amadis saw him approaching, he came at him and gave him a blow on the top of his head, which sunk down to his neck and knocked him dead at his feet.

When the other guards saw that he had left the rocks, they all tried to kill him, but he quickly went back, and to the first one who arrived he gave a blow on the shoulder. That man’s armor did him no good, and his arm fell to the ground and he next to it, dead. This made the rest so wary that none dared to come close. They surrounded him at the front and sides, which were the only parts they could, and they threw so many lances, darts, and stones that half his body was covered, but they could do him no harm because his shield protected him from everything.

In the meanwhile they took the giant to the castle in deep mourning and placed him in his bed as if he were dead and senseless, and they immediately returned to help their companions. When they arrived, they saw that no one was approaching him and he had two dead men next to him, and as they were rested and enraged, and they had not seen or heard about his mighty blows, they came to attack him with their lances. But Amadis remained where he was, well covered by his shield, and when one of them came forward and struck his shield hard with his lance, Amadis gave him such a blow that his head flew some distance away. The men immediately backed off to join the others, and no one dared to get close.

So as they stood there with nothing to do but throw many darts and an infinite number of rocks at him, the knight from Prince Island took great pity to see him thus, and believed that if they killed him, the best knight who ever bore arms would die. He immediately went to the son of the giant, who was unarmed due to his tender age, and told him:

“Bravor, why dost thou do this, contrary to the word and promise of thy father, which never before today has been broken? Consider that thou art his son, and thou shouldst resemble him in his good conduct. And consider that thy father had assured that knight’s safety from all his subjects except for himself, and if thou lettest them kill him, it will never be proper for thee to appear before good men, who will always hold this in thy account and will hold thee in great disrespect.”

The boy told him:

“How can I stand to see my father dead before me and not take vengeance against the one who killed him?”

“Thy father,” he said, “is not dead and has no mortal blow on him, for I looked at him when he was on the ground at the request of that knight. He told me that he esteemed thy father for being in the family of Gandalac, and he did not kill him when it was in his hand to do so.”

“Then what shall I do?” the boy said.

“I shall tell thee,” the knight said. “Keep him surrounded that way all night without suffering any harm, and between now and the morning we shall see how thy father is, and depending on that, thou shalt decide, for at thy hand and will is the life or death of that knight, who cannot leave except at thy orders.”

The boy said:

“I thank thee deeply for thy advice, for if the knight were to die and my father live, I could not survive anywhere in the world if my father knew, for I am certain that he would seek me out to kill me.”

“Since thou knowest this,” he said, “do as I have advised thee.”

“Let me speak first with my grandmother and mother to get their counsel.”

“I think that is wise,” the knight said, “and in the meantime order thy men to do no more than they have done.”

The boy said:

“That order will serve for little, since it seems to me that the knight can protect his life from everything except hunger, and I see no other way to kill him, but I shall do what thou hast offered as advice.”

Then he ordered them to stay there and guard the knight well so he could not leave, and to do him no harm, while he went to the castle. They all did as he ordered, and he left and spoke with those ladies, and despite their great passion and sadness, since the knight could not escape, and the giant was breathing better and recovering consciousness, they feared to break his promise. They told him to do what the knight from Prince Island had advised. It greatly helped when the boy’s mother learned that the knight loved her father Gandalac, for she had feared he might be Sir Galaor, whom her father had raised and who had returned to him his reign over the Peak of Galtares by killing Albadan, the brave giant who was holding it by force, as the first book of this story has recounted at greater length.

She knew Sir Galaor well and loved him with all her heart because they had been raised together, and if it would not have been a great impropriety because her husband was in such condition and he might learn of it, she herself in person would have gone to find out whether that knight was Sir Galaor or one of his brothers. She had seen them all when she was in the court of King Lisuarte, where she had spent some time during the battle King Lisuarte fought with King Cildadan, in which her father and brother fought, and they did amazing feats at arms in the service of King Lisuarte out of love for Sir Galaor, as the second book of this story has told at greater length.

With that agreement, the boy returned after night had already fallen and ordered a large fire be built in front of where Amadis was, who knew nothing about the agreement, and told his men to keep careful watch over him, well armed, so the knight could not get out and do them any harm, for he frightened them to death.

Amadis remained in the place where he had been, with the point of the shield on the ground and one hand on the handle and the other on his sword, expecting to die before he would let them take him prisoner. He thought that despite Balan’s promise, those men were trying to kill him, so no other promise they gave him would be kept. He would not consider asking for mercy even if he knew he would die a thousand times, except to ask for mercy from God, to Whom he always commended everything regarding himself with his whole heart, and even more that night when he had no other aid or help and expected none except from Him.


Tuesday, January 24, 2017

Chapter 128 [part 2 of 3]

[How Amadis fought the giant Balan.] 

[The portal of the Church of Our Lady beneath the Chain, of the Sovereign Military Hospitaller Order of Saint John of Jerusalem of Rhodes and of Malta, in Prague, Czech Republic. Photo by Sue Burke.]

The knight went to his boat and returned to Amadis. When Amadis heard the answer, without hesitation he went to the port and immediately disembarked on the shore. But first he took aside the man who had guided the lady in the ship and told him:

“My friend, I ask thee not to say my name to anyone. If I must die here, it shall be discovered, and if I am the victor, I shall give thee a great reward for doing this.”

The sailor promised to do so. Then they went up toward the castle, and they found the giant unarmed in the great plaza before its gate. When they arrived, the giant studied him and said to the lady:

“Is this one of the sons of King Perion, whom thy wert to bring?”

The lady told him:

“This is a knight who seeks thee for the wrong that thou didst to me.”

Then Amadis said:

“Balan, thou hast no need to know who I am. It is enough for thee to know that I come to ask thee to make right the great wrong thou didst to this lady. Without any reason, thou hast killed her son and taken her husband and daughter prisoner. If thou makest it right, I shall not have to fight with thee, but if not, prepare thyself for battle.”

The giant said, laughing:

“The best amends I can give thee is to release thee from thy quest and from death, for since thou hast come at thy free will to amend her loss, thou must hold thy life as dearly as hers. And although I am not accustomed to doing this for anyone unless they first test the edge of my sword, I shall do it for thee because thou hast come in ignorance to seek thy own harm unwittingly.”

“If I feared thy threats as much as thou thinkest,” Amadis said, “I would be excused from coming to find thee from such a far-off land. Do not believe, Balan, that I seek thee out of ignorance, for I well know that thou art one of the most famous giants in the world. But as I see that thy custom here is so counter to the service of the most high Lord, and what I seek to do conforms with His holy law, I do not consider thy valor to be much, because He shall fulfill what I lack. And because I consider thee highly and I love thee for what others love in thee, I beg thee to make amends to this lady as is just.”

When the giant heard this, he said:

“Thou has made such fine demands that if I would not suffer shame for granting them, I would do all that I could for the contentment of this lady, but first I wish to test and see what the knights of Firm Island are like. And because it is now late, I shall send thee food and two very good horses so that thou mayst select the one thou preferest, and two lances. Prepare thyself with all thy courage, which thou shalt need, to fight here in three hours. And for thy comfort if thou wishest other arms, I shall give thee the best, for I think that I can offer a great quantity from the knights I have defeated.”

Amadis told him:

“Thou hast acted like a good knight, and the more courtesy I see in thee, the more it troubles me that thou hast no understanding of what thou ought to do. I shall take a horse and lance and no other arms besides those that I have brought, for the blood on it from he whom thou hast killed without cause will give me more courage to avenge him.”

The giant returned to the castle without responding, and Amadis to his company and the knight from Prince Island, who did not want to leave his side no matter how much the giant asked him to come with him to the castle. They remained beneath the portal of a church that was at the edge of the plaza, where soon they were brought food. There they rested, speaking of things that most contented them, waiting for the giant to appear.

The knight frequently studied Amadis’ face to see if the great confrontation had affected him, and he always seemed to see him display greater courage, by which he was very amazed.

When the time came that the giant had set, two very large and beautiful horses were brought to Amadis with fine tackle for such a use, and he took the one that seemed better. After examining it, and since it came with a saddle, he mounted it, put his helmet on and his shield around his neck, and when he was ready in the great plaza, he sent the man who had brought the horses to take the other back and tell the giant that he was waiting for him and not to make the day be in vain.

All the people of the island who could come were around the plaza to see the battle, and the walkways and windows of the castle were filled with ladies and damsels.

And so as ye hear, he saw three trumpeters playing a sweet song in harmony in the great Vermilion Tower, which was the sign that the giant was coming out to fight, as was the custom every time he did battle. Amadis asked those present about it. They told him the reason for it, which seemed good to him and the act of a great lord, and he thought that when he was at Firm Island, with his lady, if he had the occasion to do battle with someone who came seeking it, that he would order the same thing done because he thought it would serve to increase the courage of the knight for whom it was played.

When the trumpets were done, the gates of the castle opened, and the giant came out on the other horse that he had sent to Amadis, his lance in hand and armed in steel polished clean like a mirror. The helmet like the shield were made to his measure, and plate armor covered the rest of his body. When he saw Amadis, he told him:

“Knight of Firm Island, now that thou seest me armed, dost thou dare wait for me?”

“Now I wish thee to make amends to this lady for the wrong thou hast done to her,” he said, “and if not, protect thyself from me.”

Then the giant came at him as fast as his horse could go, and he was so large that there was no knight in the world, no matter how courageous he was, who would not have felt terror. And as he came hard with a great eagerness to meet him, he lowered his lance so much to avoid erring in the blow that it struck Amadis’s horse in the center of its forehead and the lance came out a ways from the back of its neck.

But Amadis, unaffected by his size or valor, for he had already experienced such things, struck the giant on his large and strong shield so hard that the force threw the giant from the saddle and he fell on the field, which was very hard, in a great tumble that seriously injured him. Amadis’s horse fell dead with him on the ground, and he arose as fast as he could, although with great effort because one of his legs was caught beneath the horse.

He saw the giant get up somewhat stunned but not so much that he did not immediately put his hand on the strong steel sword he carried. He believed no knight in the world would dare to wait for two blows from it, for they would leave him dazed or dead.

Amadis put his hand on his own very good sword and covered himself with his shield, and went at him. The giant did the same and charged with his arm held high to strike him without care, both because of his great arrogance and because in his encounter with Amadis, the lance had come right at his heart and with such force that it pushed the shield against his chest so hard that his flesh was bruised and his cartilage broken, so he was in great pain and had lost much of his strength and ability to breathe.

Amadis, seeing him approach, realized that he was defeated, and he raised his shield as high as he could to receive the blow. The giant hit so hard that the sword easily cut through the boss down and took off a third of the shield, but did not strike deeper. If he had struck further, he would have also sent Amadis and his arm to the ground.

Amadis, who in such straits had great experience and knew how to free himself from danger, neither neglecting nor forgetting anything he ought to do, before the giant could pull back his arm, struck him such a blow next to the elbow that although the sleeve of the plate armor was strong and of thick mail, it could not stop or delay his very fine sword from cutting through much of the flesh and one of the forearm bones.

The giant felt the blow deeply and pulled back a ways, but Amadis immediately charged him and gave him another blow on the top of the helmet with all his strength, and the sparks flew as if it had somehow been set on fire. It twisted the helmet on his head, so he could not see.

When the governing knight from Prince Island, who had come with Amadis, saw the blows that Amadis gave, and the encounter with the lance which had thrown from the saddle someone as valiant and as heavy as that giant, and what Amadis had done with his sword, he began to cross himself many times and said to the lady, who was next to him:

“My lady, where did ye find that devil who does such things that no other mortal knight has done?”

The lady told him:

“If many such devils like him were in the world, there would not be so many injuries and deaths from arrogant and evil men as there are.”

The giant quickly placed his hands on his helmet to straighten it, and he felt that his right arm had lost much of its strength for he could barely hold his sword in his hand, and he pulled farther back, but Amadis immediately came at him as he had from the first and gave him another great blow on the center of his shield, hoping to strike him on his head, but he could not, for when the giant saw such a fierce blow coming, he raised his shield to receive it. The sword sunk so deep into it that when Amadis tried to pull it out, he could not.

The giant tried to attack him, but he could only raise his arm a little, so his blow was weak. Then Amadis pulled on his sword as hard as he could, and the giant tugged on his shield, so that the great strength of the one and the other made the straps that held it around his neck break. Amadis pulled away the shield with his sword, which brought great danger to the giant because he had no way to use his own sword.

When the giant understood that and realized he had no shield, he took his sword in his left hand and began to strike Amadis with great blows, who ably protected himself with his shield, but he could in no way keep the giant’s blows from cutting through his chain mail in several places and reaching his flesh. And certainly, if the giant could have attacked with his right hand, he knew he would be in great danger of death, but with the left hand, although the blows were mighty and strong, they were poorly aimed, and most of them missed and were in vain.

Amadis, who wanted to wield his sword to attack, raised it up stuck in the shield, only seeking to defend himself. But seeing himself in such difficulty and danger, he decided to try to resolve the situation as fast as he could, and he pulled back a bit and took his own shield from his neck and threw it in the field between himself and the giant. He put a foot on the giant’s shield and pulled with both hands on the sword so hard that he pulled it free.

Meanwhile the giant picked up Amadis’s shield with his right hand, and although it was very lightweight, he could hardly raise it up and hold it in his hand, for the injury next to his elbow was so serious and with all the blood that had flowed from his arm, it felt almost dead, so he could only raise up and use his hand weakly. What impeded and fatigued him more were the bruised flesh and broken bones over his heart from the encounter with the lance ye have heard about, which cut his breath so much he could hardly breathe.

But as he was valiant both in strength and spirit, and he saw his fate approaching death, he withstood with great effort because after Amadis’s sword had been stuck in the shield with that great blow, Amadis could not attack or ward off blows with it. But when he pulled the sword out and it was free and unimpeded, he took the giant’s shield by its handles and could barely lift it up, given its size and weight, and charged to attack with great blows, using all his strength, so that the giant was harried, and both from the speed of Amadis’ attacks and from his haste to protect himself and attack, his heart collapsed on itself from the pain he felt within it, and he fell as if he were dead on the field.

When the men watching in the castle saw this, they shouted, and the ladies and damsels shrieked, saying:

“Our lord is dead! Death to the traitor who killed him!”