How Beltenebros and Oriana sent the Damsel of Denmark to the court to learn about the guarantee they had asked of the King, and how they went to the test and won honor above all others.
[This sword, known as the Ainkhürn-Shwert or the Unicorn Sword, at one time belonged to Philip the Good, Duke of Burgundy (1390-1467). It is made from a narwhal tooth, which in the Middle Ages was often believed to be a unicorn horn. Philip founded the chivalric Order of the Golden Fleece, and the sword became part of the order's treasure. It is now held in the Secular Treasury at Kunsthistorisches Museum in the Hofburg Palace in Vienna.]
The next day they send the Damsel of Denmark to London to learn the answer the King had given to Enil, and to tell the Queen and all the ladies and damsels that Oriana felt ill and would stay in bed. The Damsel left immediately on her errand and did not return until quite late.
She was delayed because the King had gone to receive Queen Briolanja, who had arrived in London, and who brought a hundred knights to search for Amadis wherever his brothers would want to send them. She also brought twenty damsels dressed in black, just as she was and would be until she learned news about Amadis, for she had been dressed that way when he returned her realm to her. She wished to stay in London with the Queen until her knights returned or she had news about Amadis.
Then Oriana said:
"Did she seem as beautiful as they say?"
"So help me God," she said, "besides yourself, my lady, the most beautiful and gentile woman of all those whom I have seen. And she told me to tell you that she will see you when ye find it best for her to visit."
"I would be very pleased to see her," Oriana said, "for she is the person in the world I would like most to see."
"Honor her," Beltenebros said, "for she is worthy, despite anything that ye, my lady, may have thought."
"My beloved," she said, "let us leave this, for I am sure my thoughts were not true."
"Well, I believe that as a result of this test," he said, "soon your thoughts shall be much relieved of that and much more subject to me."
"If that can happen, it is because of the excessive love I have for you," Oriana said. "I have faith in God that the wreath of flowers will give testimony to it."
The Damsel also told them how the King had granted Enil all the guarantees that he had asked for.
In these and other things that gave them pleasure, they passed that day and the following days until it was time for the test. On the night before, they arose at midnight and dressed Oriana in the cape ye have heard about and put veils in front of her face. Beltenebros wore the strong new armor that Enil brought him. They went over the wall in the garden, and she mounted the palfrey that Gandalin brought and Beltenebros mounted his horse, and they went alone through the forest to the Spring of the Three Streams.
Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark had no little fear that the two would be recognized and their splendor of joy would be changed into great gloom. And when Oriana found herself alone in the night with her beloved, she had such terror that her body trembled and she could not speak. She feared that if she failed the test of the wreath, her beloved, in whom her love surely was, might come to doubt her. She wished she had not set out on that road.
Beltenebros, seeing how she was upset, told her:
"So help me God, my lady, if I had thought that ye would be so worried by this trip, and I would rather die than put you in it. It would be good for us to turn back."
Then he turned his horse and her palfrey around toward where they had come from, but when Oriana saw that because of her, a great venture would be abandoned, her heart changed, and she told him:
"My beloved, do not pay attention to the fear that I as a woman have at being in such a strange place, and instead be concerned with what ye must do as a good knight."
"My good lady," he said, "forgive me if your discretion overcomes my madness, for I ought not dare to say or do anything except what ye willingly order me to do."
Then they went on as before and arrived at the Spring of the Three Streams an hour before dawn. When the day grew light, Enil arrived, which pleased them greatly, and Beltenebros said:
"My lady, this is the squire who I told you would go before the King for me. Let us learn what news he has brought."
Enil told them that everything Beltenebros had wanted had been ordered by the King, and that after Mass, the test would begin. Beltenebros gave him his shield and lance, but he did not take off his helmet, and they took the road to London. They rode until they entered the town gate.
Everyone looked at them and said:
"This is the good knight Beltenebros who sent Sir Cuadragante and the giants here. Truly, this is the use of arms at its highest. The damsel who comes under his protection must be very blessed."
Oriana, who heard all this, felt proud to find herself the lady of he who with his great valor was lord over so many others.
Thus they arrived at the palace of the King, where he and all his knights and the Queen and all her ladies and damsels had gathered in a hall for the test. When their arrival became known, the King came to received them at the entrance to the hall, and when they were before him, they knelt to kiss his hands, but the King did not offer them and said:
"My good friend, know that I would happily do all that ye may ask, for in the little time ye have served me, ye have done more than any knight has done for any king."
Beltenebros thanked him with great humility and did not try to speak, and went with his damsel to the Queen. Oriana's flesh trembled in dread to find herself before her father and mother, fearing she would be recognized, but her lover never let go of her hand. They knelt before the Queen, and she raised them up by the hands and said:
"Damsel, I do not know who ye are, for I have never seen you, but for the great service that this knight who brings you has done, and for your own worth, he and ye shall receive every honor and mercy that ye ought."
Beltenebros thanked her, but Oriana made no response and held her head down in a sign of humility.
The King placed himself with all the knights on one side of the hall, and the Queen on the other with all the ladies and damsels. Beltenebros told the King that he wished to remain with his damsel apart to be the last to try the test. The King granted that.
Then the King went to take the sword, which was on a table, and took it a out the length of a hand and no more. Macandon, which was the name of the squire who had brought it, told him:
"King, if in your court no one is more in love than you, I shall not leave here with what I desire."
And he put back the sword, as he had to do each time. Next Galaor tried it, but he could not pull it out more than three fingers' width. And after him it was tested by Florestan, Galvanes, Grumedan, Brandoivas, and Ladasin, and none of them could take it out as much as Sir Florestan, who had pulled it out the width of a palm.
Then Sir Guilan the Pensive tried it and took it halfway out. Macandon told him:
"If ye loved twice as much, ye would win the sword, and I would win what I have been seeking for so long."
After him, more than a hundred knights of renown tested it, and none of them pulled out the sword all the way, and some could pull it out not at all. Macandon said that they were heretics of love.
Then Agrajes came to test it, and before he tried, he looked where his lady Olinda was, and thought that with the loyal and true love he had for her, the sword was his. He pulled it out so far that only a hands'-width remained inside, and he tried so hard to pull it out farther that the glowing side of the sword touched his clothing and burned part of it. He felt happy for having done more than anyone else had, and he left it and returned to where he had been, but first Macandon told him:
"My lord knight, so close ye came to achieving happiness for you and satisfaction for me!"
And then Palomir and Dragonis tried it, who had arrived at the court the day before, and they pulled out the sword as much as Sir Galaor had, and Macandon told them:
"Knights, if ye broke the sword where ye had taken it out, ye would have little with which to defend yourselves."
"Ye speak the truth," Dragonis said, "but if at the end of this test ye are made a knight, ye will not be too young to remember any of this."
Everyone laughed about what Dragonis said, but now there was no one left in the court to take that test, and Beltenebros rose and took his lady by the hand and went to where the sword was, and Macandon told him:
"My lord knight from far away, the sword ye hope to win may suit you better than the one you wear now, but it would be better not to give up yours yet, because this sword more by heartfelt loyalty than by force must to be won."
But Beltenebros grasped the sword and pulled it fully out of the sheath, and immediately the burning half became as bright as the other half, and it seemed to be all one piece. When Macandon saw this, he knelt before him and said:
"Oh good knight! May God honor thee as thou hast honored this court. Rightly thou should be loved and desired by she whom thou lovest, unless she is the most false and foolish woman in the world. I ask the honor of knighthood from thee. It must come from thy hand or no one, for I may not take it from anyone else, and with it thou shalt give me my lands and lordship over many noblemen."
"My good friend," Beltenebros said, "proceed with the test of the wreath, and then I shall do with you what by rights I must do."
Then he made the sign of the cross over the sword and left his for whoever might want it, put the new one around his neck, and, taking his lady by the hand, returned to where they had been.
But the praise from all those who were in the court for his prowess and love was so great that it inflamed the anger of Sir Galaor and Florestan, believing it a great dishonor that anyone in the world but their brother Amadis should be held in more esteem than them. So they decided that the first thing they would do after the battle between King Lisuarte and King Cildadan, if they were still alive, would be to fight with him and die or show everyone the difference between him and their brother Amadis.