Tuesday, January 13, 2009
Here begins the first book of the valiant and virtuous knight Amadis, son of King Perion of Gaul and Queen Elisena. It was corrected and amended by the honorable and virtuous knight Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo, councilman of the noble town of Medina del Campo. He corrected the originals, which were corrupt and badly composed in an antique style due to different and bad writers; he removed many superfluous words and placed others of a more polished and elegant style, referring to knighthood and its acts.
The story begins.
Not many years after the passion of our Redeemer and Savior Jesus Christ, there was a Christian king in Little Brittany by the name of Garinter. Being of the true faith, he practiced great devotion and good conduct.
This king had two daughters by his wife, a noble lady. The oldest was married to Languines, king of Scotland, and was called the Lady of the Garland because her husband, the King, never allowed her to cover her beautiful hair except with a rich garland, for it was so pleasurable to see. By them were engendered Agrajes and Mabilia; he was a knight, and she a damsel; of them much mention is made in this story.
The other daughter, named Elisena, was much more beautiful than her sister. And of all the great princes who were suitors to wed her, she was pleased by none. Due to her secluded and holy life, everyone called her the Lost Devotee because for a person of her great linage, gifted with such beauty and with so many petitions for marriage, her style of life seemed ill advised.
King Garinter, since he was rather advanced in age, to give rest to his spirit, sometimes went to hunt in the woods. He left a town of his named Alima one day and, in the woods, strayed from the beaters and the hunters. As he wandered through the forest, saying his prayers, he saw to his left the brave battle of a single knight in combat with two others. He knew the two as his vassals closely related to him by marriage, who had angered him many times with their arrogant and wicked conduct. But he did not know the knight who fought with them, and he could not trust in that knight's goodness enough to overcome the fear of the other two, so he watched them in battle from afar. In the end, the hand of the single combatant overcame the others, leaving them defeated and dead. At that, the knight came toward the King, and seeing that he was alone, he said:
"Good man, what land is this that knights-errant are assaulted?"
The King said to him:
"Do not marvel at that, knight, as in all lands there are good and bad knights, and so there are here. These of whom ye speak have done many great misdeeds and crimes, even against the king himself, their lord, but justice could not be done to them because they were related to the royal family and because of the denseness of these woods where they took refuge."
The knight told him:
"I have come from a far land in search of this king of whom ye speak, and I bring him news of a good friend of his. If ye know where I might find him, I beg you to tell me."
The King said:
"Happen what may, I will not fail to tell you the truth: know truly that I am the king of whom ye ask."
The knight removed his shield and helmet, gave them to his squire, and came to embrace him, saying that he was King Perion of Gaul, and he had greatly desired to meet him.
These two Kings were very happy to be thus together, and, speaking of many things, they went to join the other hunters in order to retire to the town. But first they overcame a deer, exhausted by the beaters. Both Kings raced after it on their horses, planning to kill it, but something else happened to them. From the thick underbrush, a lion jumped out in front of them, caught the deer and killed it, ripping it open with its fierce claws. Then, brave and angry, it challenged the Kings. Seeing it thus, King Perion said:
"Vicious though ye are, ye shall leave us part of the prey!"
Taking his arms, he got off his horse, which was afraid to get closer to the fierce lion. He raised his shield, sword in hand, and ran toward the lion, and King Garinter's shouts could not stop him. The lion left its prey and charged at him. They joined in combat, and the lion landed on top of him, about to kill him, but the King had lost none of his valor. He swung his sword and opened its belly. It fell dead before him. King Garinter, much amazed, said to himself:
"Not without cause he is renowned as the best knight in the world."
After that, the hunting party assembled, loaded the lion and deer on two palfreys, and, with great joy, they went to the villa. The Queen, their hostess, had been notified, so they found the palace halls grandly and sumptuously decorated, and the tables set. The Kings and Queen sat at the high table next to a table with Elisena, their daughter. There they were served as was fitting in the house of a such great man, and they dined in pleasure
The princess was very beautiful and King Perion was of equal handsomeness, and his fame in great deeds of arms was renowned in all parts of the world, so that the moment they looked at each other, her great modesty and piety could not keep her from falling prey to a great and incurable love. The King fell equally, for his heart was free, never having been conquered by another. Thus they both spent the meal out of their senses with love.
When the tables were cleared, the Queen wished to go to her room. As Elisena stood up, a beautiful ring fell from her skirt. She had taken it from her finger to wash her hands, and in her confusion, she had forgotten to put it back on. She reached down for it, but King Perion, who was next to her, wished to give it to her. Their hands arrived at the same time, and the King took her hand and held it tight. She blushed red, gazed at the King with love-filled eyes, and slowly said that she was grateful for his service to her.
"Oh, Lady," he said, "it will not be the final act, but my whole life will be dedicated to your service."
The princess followed her mother out, filled with such emotion that she could hardly see, and she could not withstand the might of this new pain that had overcome her old way of thinking. She told her secret to her damsel, Darioleta, and, with tears in her eyes and more in her heart, she asked for advice about how she could learn if King Perion loved another woman, and if the loving face he had shown her came from the same source and with the same force as the one she felt in her heart. The damsel, frightened by the sudden change in a person who had never been given to such behavior, and having pity for such pious tears, told her:
"My lady, I see that the tyrant of love has filled you with such excessive passion that there is no means left in your good judgment to give advice and reasonable counsel. I will do as ye bid not because I am in your service but from my own free will and obedience, and I will do it in the most honest way that my small prudence and great desire will allow me."
Then she left her and went to the room where King Perion was staying. She found his squire at the door about to bring him his clothing and told him:
"My friend, ye may go do some other thing, and I will wait on your lord and will treat him well."
The squire, thinking that she did so as a further honor, gave her the clothes and left. The damsel entered the room where the King was in bed. When he saw her, he remembered her as the one to whom Elisena had spoken most often, as if she placed her trust in her more than in any other. He believed that she had come for no other reason than to remedy his mortal desires, and as his heart trembled, he said to her:
"Good damsel, what is that ye wish?"
"To give you your clothing," she said.
"It must be for my heart," he said, "which is dispossessed and disrobed of pleasure and happiness."
"How is that?" she said.
"I came to these lands," the King said, "with complete freedom, fearing only the adventures of arms that might befall me. I do not know how, when I entered in the home of your lords, I received a mortal wound. If ye, good damsel, can get me some medicine, I will greatly reward you."
"Certainly, sir, "she said, "I would be very happy to serve such a noble man and good knight as yourself, if I knew how."
"If ye promise me," said the King, "as a faithful damsel, not to reveal my secret except where it be right, I will tell you."
"Speak without distrust," she said, "for I will protect you completely."
"Then, my dear lady," he said, "I tell you that I was struck hard the moment when I saw the great beauty of Elisena, your lady. I am tormented by troubles and anguish to the point of dying, and if I find no remedy, I cannot avoid death."
When she heard this, the damsel, who knew fully her lady's heart in this matter, as ye have heard earlier, felt very happy, and she said to him:
"My lord, if ye promise me as a king and thus bound more than all others to maintain the truth, and as a knight of whom it is said ye have withstood so many labors and dangers, that ye shall take her as wife when ye can, I will place her where not only your heart will be satisfied but hers as well, which as much or perhaps even more feels the troubles and pain of this same wound. But if ye do not do this, ye shall not have her, and I will not believe your words come from faithful and honest love."
The King, whose soul had already received the permission of God to go forward with what ye shall soon hear of, took his sword, which was beside him, and put his right hand on the handle, which was in the form of a cross, and said:
"I swear on this cross and sword, with which I received the order of knighthood, to do that which ye, damsel, have asked me, when your lady Elisena may demand it of me."
"For the moment, be comforted," she said, "and I will do what ye asked."
Leaving him, she returned to her lady and told her what the King had agreed to, which made her very happy. Elisena embraced her and said:
"My true friend, when will I see the time when I shall hold in my arms the lord whom ye have given me?"
"I will tell you," she said. "Ye know, my lady, that the room where King Perion is, has a door that leads to the garden where your father sometimes goes to rest, and which is now covered by a curtain. I have the key to it, and when the King leaves, I will open it, and because it will be in the darkness of night when everyone is asleep, we can enter there without being seen, and when it is time to leave, I will call you and return you to your bed."
When Elisena heard this, she so astonished by joy that she could not speak, but when she returned to herself, she said:
"My friend, I put all my estate in your hands, but how can it be done as ye say, since my father is staying in the same chamber as King Perion? If he hears, we will all be in great danger."
"Leave that to me," said the damsel. "I will solve it."
With that they ceased to speak of it, and the next day the two Kings and the Queen and Princess Elisena dined and supped as before, and when it was night, Darioleta drew aside the squire of King Perion and said:
"Oh, my friend, tell me if ye are a nobleman."
"Yes, I am," he said, "in fact the son of a knight. But why do ye ask?"
"I will tell you," she said. "I wish to know a certain thing, and I beg you, by your faith in God and by the King your lord, to tell me."
"By holy Mary," he said, "I will tell you anything I know, as long as it does no harm to my lord."
"I promise the same to you," she said. "Nothing I will ask will do him harm, nor may nothing ye say be false. I want you to tell me who is the damsel that your lord holds in extreme love."
"My lord," he said, "loves all women in general, but in truth I know of none that he loves as much as ye say."
As they were speaking, King Garinter arrived. He saw Darioleta with the squire, and called her over to ask:
"What have ye to speak about with the squire of the King?"
"By God, lord, I will tell you. He called for me and told me that his lord has the custom of sleeping alone, and in truth your presence gives him great discomfort."
The King left her and went to King Perion and told him:
"My lord, I have many things to do and must get up at the hour of matins, and if it may not anger you, I shall leave you alone in the chamber."
King Perion told him:
"My lord, do as it gives you pleasure."
"So it does," he said.
Then he knew that the damsel had told the truth, and ordered his servants to remove his bed from the chamber of King Perion. When Darioleta saw that what she had wished for had come to pass, she went to Elisena, her lady, and told her what would happen.
"My friend and lady," Elisena said, "now I believe, since God has put things in place, that this, which now seems like an error, will be a great service to Him. Tell me what we shall do, for my great joy has left me unable to think for myself."
"My lady," said the damsel, "we shall do tonight that which has been agreed upon, and I shall open the door to the chamber that I spoke of."
"Then I will leave it to you to take me when the time comes."
And thus they were until all had gone to sleep.