[How Amadis spoke with Oriana and Briolanja, and how his words to one were misunderstood by the other.]
[Reliquary bust of Saint Mabilla, made in Sienna, circa 1370-1380. In the Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris, France.]
King Lisuarte, when he and Amadis and all the other knights had largely recovered from their wounds, left for Fernisa, where his wife, Queen Brisena, was with Briolanja, Oriana, and all the other ladies and damsels of great estate. He was received better and with more happiness than any other man at any time. And after him, Amadis, for by then the Queen and all the ladies knew that he had not only saved their lord the King from death but that the battle had been won by his great courage. And in the same way they greeted all the other knights who were still alive.
But what Queen Briolanja did with Amadis cannot be in any way written. She took him by the hand and had him sit between herself and Oriana, and told him:
“My lord, the pain and sadness I felt when they said ye were lost I cannot tell you, and I immediately took one hundred of my knights and came to this court, where I knew that your brothers were, so that your brothers could split them up in search of you. But because the battle which just happened intervened, I decided to wait here until it was over. And how that, by God’s mercy, I have what I desired, tell me what ye wish me to do and I shall begin its labors it at once.”
“My good lady,” he said, “if ye think badly of me, ye have very good reason, and ye may truly believe that no man in all the world would more willingly fulfill your orders than I. And since ye have put your estate at my will, I think it good that ye remain here for ten days and finish your business with the King, and in that time we may learn some news about my brother Sir Galaor, as well as the battle Sir Florestan has set with Landin. Then I shall take you to your kingdom, and from there I must go to Firm Island, where I have much to do.”
“So it shall be,” Queen Briolanja said, “but I beg you, my lord, to tell us about the great marvels that ye found at that island.”
He wished to avoid that, but Oriana took him by the hand and said:
“Ye shall not leave us without telling us something.”
Then Amadis said:
“Know ye, good ladies, that although I might work hard to recount it, it would be impossible to do. But I tell you that the forbidden room is more rich and beautiful than could be found anywhere else in the world, and if it is not won by one of you, I think no other lady in the world could do so.”
Briolanja, who had grown somewhat quiet, said:
“I do not believe I could succeed in that venture, but however that may be, if ye do not think me mad, I shall try it.”
“My lady,” Amadis said, “I do not hold it as madness to test that in which so many others have failed for reasons of beauty, especially since God wished to give you so much. Instead, I think it would be honorable to want to win fame that will last long without being tarnished in any way.”
What Amadis said weighed on Oriana and she looked angry, which Amadis, whose eyes had never left her, immediately understood, and he was sorry for having said it, for his intention was to give her greater honor and praise, for he knew from the visit by Grimanesa that the beauty of Briolanja would not be enough to succeed in the test, but he had no doubts about that of his lady.
But Oriana became impassioned, fearing that something in the world that could be won by beauty would be obtained by Briolanja and not by her. She remained there a while and asked Briolanja that, if she entered the defended room, to tell her how it was, and then she went to find Mabilia, took her aside, and told her everything that had happened in her presence between Briolanja and Amadis, and said:
“This always happens to me with your cousin, of whom my poor heart never thinks except to please and do his will, without regard to God or the anger of my father, and he, knowing that he has full lordship over me, holds me as so little.”
Tears came to her eyes and fell down her beautiful cheeks.
Mabilia told her:
“I am amazed by you, my lady. What heart have ye? Ye have just left one vexation and now ye wish to enter into a new one? What great error is this that ye say my cousin has done to make ye so upset, when ye know that he has never strayed from you in deed or thought, having seen with your own eyes the proof of the tests that he passed for you? Now I tell you, my lady, that ye lead me to understand that ye are not pleased to let him live, for despite what he has done for you, the least anger that he senses in you is death to him.
“And I do not know why ye are angry with him, for if Apolidon left that test there for every man and woman in general, how could Amadis be wrong, thinking that what Briolanja could do would make you less, if she could? Certainly, although ye will not be pleased by it, I think that neither her beauty nor yours will be enough to pass that test after one hundred years in which no woman, however beautiful, has succeeded. But ye wish to cruelly take his grave fate from him, which is nothing less than to be your abject servant and to abandon and disdain his estate and family for you, my lady, treating them like strangers and going wherever ye order.
“Oh, how badly employed is all he has done and his lineage and brothers, when the prize for all that is to arrive unjustly at death! And I, my lady, for all that I have waited on you and served you, in exchange I get as a prize to see the flower of my lineage die before my eyes, he who loves me so. But may it please God, this death and this trouble I shall not see, for my brother Agrajes and my uncle Galvanes shall take me to my land, for it would be a great error to serve someone who so poorly recognizes and thanks such service.”
Then she began to weep and said:
“May it please God that this cruelty to him and his lineage be repaid, although I am certain that his loss, however great it be, will not equal yours, because he has forgotten his family and only loves you above all things that are loved.”
When Mabilia said this, Oriana was so frightened that heart closed up, and she could not speak for a while. When she had become more calm, she said, weeping from her heart:
“Oh, I am the most unfortunate wretch of all the women who have ever been born! What can become of me if you think of me thus? I come for help for my great concern, having no other who can counsel me, and ye make my heart worse, suspecting what I never thought. And my misfortune is such that ye took what I told you wrongly, for I tell you that, may God not save me or help me, if my heart ever thought any of what ye said. Do no doubt that what your cousin means to me is only the complete satisfaction of my desires. But what I greatly fear is that, having won lordship of the island, if another woman passes that test before I do, the pain for me would be like death, and I feel badly for what he may have said with good intention. But whatever may have happened, I ask forgiveness from you for what I never deserved from you, and I beg for the great love that ye have for your cousin to be pardoned, and that ye counsel me on what would be best for him and for me.”
Then, laughing beautifully, she embraced her and told her:
“My true friend above all others in the world, I promise that I shall never speak of this to your cousin nor let him know that I saw this in him. But speak with him how ye see fit and I shall hold it good.”
Mabilia told her:
“My lady, I pardon you if ye agree with me that, although ye may be angry with him, ye do not show it to him unless I intervene first so that ye do not commit an error like the one that ye did in the past.”
And with that they were agreed, as those between whom there could never be any disfavor. But Mabilia, who did not forget what Amadis had said, confronted him with bitter anger and told him how wrong and hurtful it was to have said what he did to Briolanja in front of his lady, and reminded him of the danger that his life had been placed in because of her, and advised him to always have great care when he spoke with her, and to think of what trouble it was to place jealousy in the heart of a woman, and told him of the passion that his lady had felt and how she had calmed her.
Amadis, after thanking her with great courtesy, understanding what he had done, promised, if he lived, to make her a queen, and told her:
“My lady and good cousin, my thoughts were very different from what my lady suspected, because it was one of the best services that I could do for her. That was not only to advise Briolanja to try that test, but for me to go with her to wherever it would be, and it is because of this: everyone says Briolanja is one of the most beautiful women of the world, so much that without a doubt they think her beauty is enough to enter that room without a problem. I think the opposite, because I have seen Grimanesa, and Briolanja does not come close to her equal in beauty, so I am sure Briolanja would win the same honor all the rest have, yet I do not doubt that Oriana would succeed the moment she attempted it. But if she did this before Briolanja tried it, everyone would say that if Briolanja had gone first, she would have succeeded. And if Briolanja were the first, since I am sure she would fail, all the glory would then remain for my lady. This is why I dared to say what I did.”
Mabilia was very content with what Amadis said, and Oriana even more when she knew it, and was very regretful for the angry passion she had felt, remembering how at another time, for a similar accident, she had placed herself and her beloved in great danger. And to make amends for that error, they agreed that by using an old tunnel from a garden to the rooms of Oriana and Queen Briolanja, Amadis could enter to relax and speak with her. With that agreement, Amadis left Mabilia.