Tuesday, February 24, 2009
[Photo: Detail of the royal castle at Segovia, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]
How Urganda the Unrecognized brought a lance to the Childe of the Sea.
The Childe of the Sea gave his shield and helmet to Gandalin and went on his way, but he had not traveled far before he saw a damsel coming toward him on a palfrey who carried a lance decorated with a braid. He saw another damsel coming on another road. The two young women met, and as they approached him, they talked with each other, and when they arrived, the damsel with the lance said to him:
"My lord, take this lance, for I tell you that within three days, with it ye shall strike so hard that ye shall set free the house from which ye first left."
He was astonished by what she said, and told her:
"Damsel, how can a house die or live?"
"It will be as I say," she told him. "I give you the lance for some favors that I expect from you. The first will be when ye do honor to a friend of yours, for which he shall be placed in a bigger and more dangerous confrontation than any knight in the last ten years."
"Damsel," he said, "I would not give friend of mine that kind of honor, God willing."
"I know well that it shall happen as I have said," she told him.
And spurring her palfrey, she went on her way. Know ye that she was Urganda the Unrecognized. The other damsel remained with him and said:
"Sir knight, I am from a foreign land and if ye wish, I will remain with you until the third day, instead of going to my lady."
"And where are ye from?" he said.
"From Denmark," the damsel said.
And he knew she told the truth because of the language she spoke, which he had heard his lady Oriana speak sometimes when she was younger. He said:
"Damsel, I would be well pleased, if it is no trouble to you."
He asked her if she knew the damsel who had given her the lance. She said that she had never seen her before, but the other damsel had said that she brought the lance to the best knight in the world:
"And she told me that after she left, I should tell you that she was Urganda the Unrecognized, and that she loved you dearly."
"By God," he said, "how unfortunate I am not to have realized it was her! But I shall not look for her because no one can find her against her will."
He traveled with the damsel until nightfall, when he met a squire in the road who said:
"My lord, where are ye going?"
"Along this road," he said.
"That is true," said the squire, "but if ye wish to lodge anywhere populated, it would be best to leave the road, since there is nothing near here except for a fortress that belongs to my father, where he will give you all ye require."
The damsel said that it would be wise, and the Childe agreed. The squire guided them off the road, and he did so because it was the custom of the castle where they were going and because he wanted to see what the Childe would do, for he had never seen a knight-errant fight.
They arrived, and that night they were well served. But the Childe of the Sea did not sleep well because he spent most of the night thinking about his lady, whom he had left behind. In the morning, he armed himself and went on his way with the damsel and his squire. The squire said he would accompany him as far as the next castle.
So they rode three leagues and saw a handsome castle alongside a river, which had a drawbridge with a tall, beautiful tower at its far end. The Childe of the Sea asked the squire if there was another way across the river besides the drawbridge. He said no, that everyone crossed it:
"And we are going pass over it."
The damsel and the squires went first, and the Childe of the Sea last, and he went so lost in thoughts of his lady that he noticed nothing. When the damsel was on the bridge, six foot-soldiers armed with helmets and breastplates took the reins of her horse, and they said:
"Damsel, ye must swear. If not, ye are dead."
"What must I swear?"
"Thou shalt swear never to make love to thy beloved if thou dost not promise to support King Abies against King Perion."
The damsel shouted that the soldiers wanted to kill her. The Childe of the Sea rode up and said:
"Rude villeins, who ordered you to lay a hand on a lady or damsel, especially when she is under my protection?"
He approached the biggest one, grabbed his battle ax, and gave him such a blow with the shaft that he knocked him to the ground. The other soldiers began to attack him, but he hit one of them so hard that he split his head down to his eyes, and he struck another on the shoulder, cutting clear to the bones of his ribs. When the others saw those two knocked dead, they were frightened and began to flee. He threw the hatchet at one of them and cut his leg in half. He said to the damsel:
"Go forward, and any villein who believes he has the right to lay a hand on a lady or damsel shall pay for it."
Then they went ahead on the bridge, and they heard fighting in the castle at the other end. The damsel said:
"Those people are making such a noise, I think ye should take up your arms."
"Fear not," he said. "Wherever women are mistreated, they shall be made safe, and no man is worthy otherwise."
"My lord," she said, "if ye do not take up arms, I dare not go any further."
So he did and went ahead, and when he entered the gate of the castle, he saw a squire who came to him weeping and said:
"By God, they are killing the best knight in the world because he would not swear an oath he cannot properly keep."
The Childe of the Sea continued on and saw King Perion, who had made him a knight, in grave danger. His horse had been killed, and two knights with ten armed foot-soldiers were attacking him. The knights said to the King:
"Swear. If not, thou art dead."
The Childe shouted:
"Stand back, evil and arrogant men! Lay no hand on the best knight in the world, or ye shall
die for it."
Then one of the knights and five foot-soldiers left the others, charged at the Childe, and told him:
"Ye too must swear or ye are dead."
"How can I swear against my will?" he said. "It shall never be, so help me God."
The others shouted to the gatekeeper to shut the gate. The Childe of the Sea let his horse charge, and his lance hit the other knight's shield so hard that he knocked him to the ground over the haunches of the horse. As he fell, he hit his head on the ground, twisted his neck, and died.
The Childe rode past the foot-soldiers who were attacking him and charged at the other knight. His lance passed through his shield and hauberk and lodged in his ribs, and no surgeon could have saved him. When King Perion saw this and realized that he had help, he fought even harder. He slashed against the foot-soldiers with his sword, and the Childe of the Sea charged unrestrained into them on his horse and struck such mortal and fierce blows that most of them fell to the ground. That attack, combined with the King's, quickly defeated them all.
Some of the foot-soldiers who had fled began to climb a wall, but the Childe got off his horse and chased them. They were so afraid that in their haste they threw themselves over the wall, falling down the other side, except for two, who ran toward a chamber. The Childe chased them and followed them into the room, where he saw a man lying in a cot who was so old that he could not rise from it. The old man shouted:
"Base villeins! Who do you flee?"
"From a knight who fights like the devil," they said, "and who has killed both your nephews and all our companions."
The Childe told one of the soldiers:
"Show me to thy lord, otherwise thou art dead."
He showed him the old man who was lying in the bed.
The Childe began to cross himself and said:
"Vile old man, thou art close to death and thou hast such ignoble conduct? If ye could take up arms, I would show you here that ye are a traitor both to God and to your own soul."
Then he acted as if he were about to strike him with his sword, and the old man said:
"My lord, mercy. Do not kill me!"
"Ye are dead," said the Childe of the Sea, "if ye do not swear to never conduct yourself so badly again for the rest of your life."
He swore to it.
"Now tell me why ye have done this."
"Because of King Abies of Ireland," he said. "He is my nephew, and since I could not help him with my own body, I wanted to send him the help of knights-errant."
"Treacherous old man," said the Childe. "What have knights to do with your help or hindrance?"
Then he kicked the cot and tipped it over, and commending them all to the devils of Hell, he went out to the courtyard. There he took one of the horses belong to the knights that he had killed, brought it to the King, and said:
"Ride off, my lord. I do not like this place nor the people in it."
Then they rode out of the castle, but the Childe of the Sea kept his helmet on so the King would not recognize him. When they were outside, the King said:
"My lord and friend, who are ye? Ye helped me when I was close to death, and ye saved me from the attacks of many knights-errant, and saved the friends of the damsels who were passing by here, because I am the one they were being called to swear against."
"My lord," said the Childe of the Sea, "I am a knight who wished to serve you."
"Knight," he said, "I realize this well. A man could hardly find better help. But I will not leave without knowing who ye are."
"This would not be to the advantage of either of us."
"Still, I beg you to take off your helmet out of courtesy."
The Childe lowered his head and did not respond, but the King asked the damsel to remove it, and she told the youth:
"My lord, do as the King asks, because it means so much to him."
But the Childe did not wish to. The damsel took off his helmet against his will, and when the King saw his face, he knew it was the youth he had made a knight at the request of the damsels. He embraced him and said:
"By God, my friend, now I know you better than ever."
"My lord," the Childe said, "I knew you well when ye gave me the honor of knighthood, and if it pleases God, I will serve you in your war in Gaul, may it be granted to me, but until then I do not wish to let my identity be known."
"I thank you truly," the King said. "Ye have done so much ye could hardly do more. I give thanks for what I have done."
He said this because he had made the Childe a knight, for he neither knew nor imagined that he was his father.
As they spoke, they arrived at a crossroads, and the Childe of the Sea said:
"My lord, which of these roads do ye wish to follow?"
"This one to the left," he said, "because it goes right to my kingdom."
"Go with God," he said. "I will take the other one."
"May God be your guide," the King said, "and remember what ye promised. Your help has relieved me of much of my fear, and it gives me hope that it will remedy my loss."
Then he went on his way, and the Childe remained with the damsel, to who said to him:
"My lord knight, I stayed with you because of what the damsel with the lance said: that she brought it to the best knight in the world. From what I have seen, I know it is true. Now I wish to travel again to my lady, as I said before."
"And who is she?" said the Childe of the Sea.
"Oriana, the daughter of King Lisuarte," she said.
When he heard his lady mentioned, his heart shook so hard that he almost fell off his horse, and Gandalin, seeing him so stricken, held him up. The Childe said:
"I am slain by my heart."
The damsel, who thought it was due to something else, said:
"My lord knight, take off your armor, for ye are injured."
"It is not necessary," he said. "I often suffer this illness."
The squire of whom ye have already heard said to the damsel:
"Do ye go to the house of King Languines?"
"Yes," she said.
"Then I shall accompany you," he said, "because I have an appointment there."
And saying goodbye to the Childe of the Sea, they turned back the way they had come, and he continued on the road where fate took him.
The author here ceases to speak of the Childe of the Sea and turns to tell of Sir Galaor, his brother, whom the giant had taken away. He was being raised by a hermit, as ye have heard, and now Sir Galaor was eighteen years old and strong of body and limb.
He had always read the books that the hermit had given him about the deeds that knights at arms had done in the past, and both due to that and to his natural disposition, he felt moved by a great desire to become a knight. However, he did not know if he had to right to be one, and he often asked the hermit who raised him to tell him. But the hermit, knowing full well that if he became a knight he would have to fight with the giant Albadan, told him, with tears in his eyes:
"My son, it would be better to take another, safer path for your soul than to take up arms and the order of knighthood, which has great burdens to bear."
"My lord," Galaor said, "it would be very hard for me to follow something that I took up against my will, and if I get my heart's desire and if God gives me good fortune, I will enter into His service. Without it, I do not wish to keep living."
The hermit, who saw his intentions, said:
"I see it is so, and I tell you truly that if ye do not fail, your lineage will not fail you, for ye are the son of a king and queen. But do not let the giant know that I told you."
When Galaor heard this, he could not have been happier, and he said:
"Up until now, I thought it too much to think of becoming a knight, but now I see it is not too much at all, because of what ye have told me."
The hermit, fearing that Galaor would leave, sent a message to the giant that the boy he was raising was at the age to become a knight and desired to become one, so the giant should make preparations. When he heard this, the giant rode there and saw that Galaor was unusually handsome and brave for his age, and told him:
"Son, I know that ye wish to become a knight, and I want to take you with me, and I will work with you so that ye shall become one honorably."
"Father," he said, "that is everything I wish."
Then the giant got him a horse so he could to leave, but first Galaor said goodbye to the hermit who had raised him, begging him on his knees to remember him. The hermit, weeping, kissed him repeatedly, and gave him his blessing.
Galaor left with the giant, and, when they arrived at his castle, the giant had armor made for him, and taught him to ride and jump on horseback in the countryside. He got two swordsmen to teach him to fight, and they showed how to use with a shield and sword effectively. The giant had Galaor learn everything about arms that a knight needed to know. After a year, he saw that there was nothing to stop the youth from becoming a knight.
Here the author ceases to tell of this, because in time he will make mention of what Galaor does, and instead he recounts what happened to the Childe of the Sea after he left King Perion, the Damsel of Denmark, and the castle of the old man.
He rode for two days without finding any adventure, and on the third day, at midday, a beautiful castle came into sight that belonged to a knight named Galpano. He was the most valiant and strongest knight of all in that region, and he was much feared and dreaded by all. Though he had great courage and a mighty castle, he conducted himself with extreme arrogance, and he had made himself infamous for doing more in service to the enemy of God than to the Lord on high, which would have made him more celebrated than all other knights.
Ye shall now hear what he did:
He made the ladies and damsels that passed through there come to the castle, where he forced his will on them, then made them swear that while he lived, they would not take another lover, for if they did, he would cut off their heads. As for the knights, he told them they would have to fight his two brothers, and if they could defeat them, they would have to fight him, and his skill at arms was so great that no one in the region dared to face him in the field of battle. So he made them swear to be called "Vanquished by Galpano" or he would cut off their heads. He took whatever they had from them and made them leave him on foot.
But God was angered by such great cruelty that had gone on for too long, and he let Fortune turn against them. They had been arrogant and had delighted themselves in excessive pleasures at the expense of others for a long time, but very quickly things went against them. They paid dearly for their evil, and they served as a fearful example to others to mend their ways, as ye shall now hear told.