Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Chapter 70 [part 2 of 3]
[Detail of the Old Royal Palace at Prague Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.]
Sir Garadan called a squire who brought a chest, and he took out a letter with thirty seals hanging from it on silk cords, all silver except the one in the middle, which was gold and was the Emperor’s, and the others belonged to great lords of the empire. He gave it to the King, who withdrew with his noblemen, and they read it and found that what Garadan said was true, and without a doubt they could choose either of the battles.
The King asked for their advice. In their discussion, some thought a battle of hundreds against hundreds would be better, and others the dozen against dozen, saying that with fewer, the King could pick his best knights. Others said it would be better to keep the war as it had been so far, and not put his reign at risk over one battle. So their opinions were varied.
Then the Count of Galtines said:
“My lord, we should refer this to the Knight of the Green Sword, who may have seen many things and has a great desire to serve you.”
The King and all the others agreed to this, and they had him called. He and Grasandor had been spending a long time speaking with Sir Garadan. The Knight of the Green Sword had watched him closely, and saw that he had a valiant body so he would be very strong, something that made him hesitant to go into battle, but on the other hand saw him say many vain and arrogant things, which made him hope that God would give rise to break his pride.
When he heard the order of the King, he came, and the King said:
“Knight of the Dwarf, my great friend, I beg you not to abstain from giving your advice about what we are speaking of here.”
Then he recounted the different opinions the nobles had offered. The Knight of the Green Sword listened, then said:
“My lord, the determination of such great things is a grave issue because the outcome is in the hands of God and not in the judgement of men; but however that may be, speaking of what I would do if it were up to me, my lord, I say that if I had just one castle and a hundred men, and my enemy had ten castles and a thousand men and wished to overcome me, were God to guide things in such a way that this would be decided by a battle with an equal number of men, I would know what a great mercy He had done. And so I say to you, knights, do not fail to advise the King in what may be in his best service, and whatever you decide, I must place my person in it.”
He wished to go, but the King grabbed the edge of his cape and had him sit next to him, and told him:
“My good friend, we all agree with you, and I choose the battle between twelve knights. And God, who knows the strength I have, shall help me, just as He did for King Perion of Gaul not long ago, when King Abies of Ireland entered his land with a great force of men. Perion was about to lose when it was resolved by a battle that a single knight fought against King Abies himself, who was at the time one of the most valiant and brave knights in the world. The other was such a young man that he was not yet eighteen years old. [See Chapter 9.] In that battle, the King of Ireland died, and King Perion had his entire kingdom restored. And within a few days by an amazing blessing they found out that the young knight was his son. He had been called the Childe of the Sea, and after that he was called Amadis of Gaul, and he is renowned throughout the world as the most courageous and valiant knight ever. I do not know if ye know him.”
“I have never seen him,” the Knight of the Green Sword said, “but I dwelled for a time in those lands and heard a great deal about this Amadis of Gaul, and I know two of his brothers, who are not worse knights than he is.”
“Then having faith in God as did King Perion, I agree to accept the battle between twelve knights.”
“In the name of God,” the Knight of the Green Sword said, “this seems to me the best because, although the Emperor is greater than you and has more men, twelve good knights can be as easily found in your house and his. And if ye could convince Garadan that it would be even fewer, I would consider that good, even to come down to one against one. And if he wishes to do that, I would be the other, and I trust in God, due to your just cause and his excessive arrogance, that I shall give you vengeance on him and bring an end to the war that ye have been fighting with his lord.”
The King thanked him sincerely and went to where Garadan was complaining that they had taken too long to reply. When they arrived, the King told him:
“Sir Garadan, I do not know if it will be your pleasure, but I choose the battle between twelve knights. May it be fought early tomorrow.”
“May God save me,” Garadan said, “ye have responded as I wished, and I am very happy at your answer.”
He of the Green Sword said:
“Many times men are happy at first, but in the end it turns out differently for them.”
Garadan looked at him angrily and told him:
“Ye, sir knight, wish to speak about everything. Ye do seem to be a stranger here, for your discretion is so strange and limited. If I knew ye were one of the twelve, I would give you these gauntlets.”
He of the Green Sword took them and said:
“I assure you I shall be in the battle, and just as I take these gauntlets now, in the battle I shall take your head, which your great arrogance and immoderation shall give me.”
When Garadan heard this, he was so irate that he seemed to be out of his mind, and he shouted:
“Oh, I have such ill fortune! Would that it were tomorrow and we were in battle, so that everyone would see, Sir Knight of the Dwarf, how your madness would be punished!”
He of the Green Sword said:
“If from here to tomorrow seems like a long time to you, this day is still long enough so that one of us might have the good fortune to kill the other. Let us arm ourselves, if ye wish, and begin the battle on this condition: he who remains alive may help his companions tomorrow.”
Sir Garadan told him:
“Surely, Sir Knight, if ye dare to do that, I shall pardon you for what ye have said to me.”
He began to ask for his arms with haste. The Knight of the Dwarf ordered Gandalin to bring his, which he did. Sir Garadan’s companions armed him, and he of the Green Sword was armed by the King and his son. Then they went outside, leading the two in the field where they would fight.
Sir Garadan mounted a large, handsome horse, galloped fiercely into the field, turned to his companions, and said:
“Ye may expect this King to remain subject to the Emperor, and without ye having to inflict a single blow, and with great honor. I tell you this because all the hope of our opponents is on this knight, who, if he dares to face me, I shall quickly defeat, and when he is dead, tomorrow they will not dare to enter the field against me or you.”
The Knight of the Green Sword told him:
“What dost thou do, Garadan? Dost thou have so few cares that thou spendest the day praising thyself? The time has drawn near when each shall show who he is, and flattery will not do the deed.”
Spurring his horse, he charged at him, and the other came at him. Their lances struck their shields, which, although they were very strong, did not stop the lances, so great were the blows, and the lances were broken. But they met each other with their shields and helmets so bravely that he of the Green Sword’s horse stumbled back stunned, but it did not fall, while Garadan was knocked from his saddle. He landed so hard on the ground that he almost lost consciousness.
He of the Green Sword saw him rolling on the field trying but unable to get up, and wanted to attack him, but his horse could not move, so badly was it hurt. He had been injured on the left arm by the lance, which had passed through the shield. He immediately dismounted, as one with great anger.
He put his hand on his burning sword and went to Garadan, who was badly shaken up but a little more conscious, waving his sword in his hand and well protected by his shield, but not as bravely as before.
They attacked so fiercely and with such mortal blows that those who watched were very amazed. But he of the Green Sword, since he had taken caught Garadan stunned by the fall, and he was very angry, charged at him with so many heavy blows that Garadan could not withstand them. He pulled back a little and said:
“Truly, Knight of the Green Sword, now I know you better than before, and I despise you more than ever, and although much of your skill has been demonstrated to me, mine is not in a disposition to know which of us will be the winner. If ye wish, we may rest a bit, but if not, come to fight.”
He of the Green Sword told him:
“Certainly, Sir Garadan, I think it would be a much better game to rest than to fight me, but given your great skill and fine deeds at arms, it would run contrary to what ye have said today. And so that such a good man as yourself may not be put to shame, I do not wish to stop fighting until the battle is finished.”
Sir Garadan was sorry to hear this because he was in a bad condition to fight, and his armor and flesh had been cut in many places and bled a lot, and he felt shaken by the fall. Then he remembered his arrogance, especially against the man who stood before him, but showing good courage, he labored to bring to an end his misfortune using all his strength, and they immediately began to fight as if they had just started.
But it did not take long for the Knight of the Dwarf to deliver all his means and will, so that everyone watching saw that even if Garadan were twice as good, his courage would give him no advantage. And as both continued to fight, Garadan fell senseless on the field, stunned by a great blow that the Knight of the Dwarf had struck on the top of his helmet.
He of the Dwarf was hardly able to withdraw his sword. He immediately launched himself over Garadan with great courage, took the helmet from his head, and saw that the blow had sunk so deep that his brains were splattered inside it. That pleased him greatly, both for the sorrow it would give the Emperor and for the pleasure it would give the King he wished to serve.
He cleaned his sword and put it in its sheath, and knelt and gave thanks to God for the honor and mercy He had given him. The King, when he saw this, dismounted from his palfrey with two other knights and came to he of the Green Sword, seeing his hands stained by blood, both his own and his opponent’s, and said:
“My good friend, how do ye feel?”
“Very well,” he said. “Thanks to God, I shall still be here tomorrow with my companions in the battle.”
Then they had him mount and took him to the town with great honor, where he was disarmed in his chamber and his wounds were tended to.