[How Amadis spent his final days in Constantinople, and how Emperor Patin's delegation traveled to Great Britain.]
[Detail of the Hagia Sophia. Photo by Sue Burke.]
So as ye have heard, the Knight of the Green Sword spent six days in the court of the Emperor receiving the highest possible honors from him, the Empress, and the beautiful Leonorina. But he remembered that he had promised Grasinda to be with her within a year, and the date was nearing, so he spoke with the Emperor, saying that he needed to leave. He asked the Emperor by his grace to order him to serve him wherever he might be, for he would never be anywhere in such honor or pleasure or need that he would not leave it all behind to serve him, and if the knight were to learn that the Emperor needed his service, he would not wait for orders but would go where he needed to be.
The Emperor told him:
“My good friend, I am not pleased to have ye leave so soon, but ye may be excused so ye do not fail to fulfill your word.”
“My lord,” he said, “it cannot be avoided without greatly diminishing my honor and word, so as the doctor Elisabad knows, I have to be at a certain place and time as I promised.”
“If that is so,” he said, “I ask ye to rest here for three days.”
He said he would as he was ordered. At that moment, he was in the presence of the beautiful Leonorina, who took the edge of his cloak and said:
“My good friend, if at the request of my father ye shall be here for three days, I wish that by my request ye spend two with me, and these as the guest of myself and my damsels where I and they dwell, because we wish to speak with you without anyone interfering besides two knights whom ye would choose to give you company as ye eat and sleep. And I ask ye to give this boon with pleasure. If not, I shall have these damsels seize you, and I will not need to thank you for anything.”
Then he was surrounded by more than twenty very beautiful and finely attired damsels, and with pleasure and laughter, Leonorina said:
“Leave him be until he answers.”
He was delighted by what that beautiful lady did, holding it as the highest honor that had been done to him there, and he said:
“Blessed and beautiful lady, who would dare to fail to grant your will, since if he were not to, he would be placed in such a miserable prison? I grant what ye order, in this and any other service your father and mother and yourself may need. And, my good lady, I pray to God and His mercy that the time shall come when my lineage may properly thank and return the honors and gifts I receive from you.”
This would be entirely fulfilled not by the Knight of the Green Sword but by his son Esplandian, who would rescue the Emperor at a place and time when he needed help, as Urganda the Unrecognized will prophecy in the fourth book, and as shall be told in due time.
The damsels told him:
“Ye have made the right decision. Otherwise, ye could not escape a danger greater than the Endriago was.”
“I believe, my ladies,” he said, “that greater harm may come to me by angering angels than the devil, which it was.”
All this gave great pleasure to the Emperor and Empress and all the noblemen who were there, and the answers from the Knight of the Green Sword to everything that was said to him seemed very witty. This, even more than his great courage, convinced them he was high born, because courage and bravery are often found in people of low lineage and common judgement, but honest restraint and exquisite comportment are rarely found there, because this is due those who come from clean and noble blood. I do not affirm that all attain this, but I say that they are obliged to try to reach it, as the Knight of the Green Sword did, who surrounded his mighty heart with a border of great patience and loving kindness, protecting it so arrogance and ire would find no means to harm his high virtue.
So he of the Green Sword rested three days with the Emperor, who had his nephew Gastiles and the Marques of Saluder take him through the city to show him the amazing sites it held as the head and center of all Christendom. In the palace he spent the rest of his time in the chamber of the Empress speaking with her and the other great ladies who accompanied and waited on her.
Then he went to the rooms of the beautiful Leonorina, where he found many daughters of kings and dukes and counts and other great men, with whom he passed the most honored and amusing time he had spent in his life anywhere outside the presence of his lady Oriana. They happily asked him to tell them of the marvels of Firm Island where he had been, especially about the arch of the loyal lovers and the forbidden chamber, and who and how many had been able to see the wonderful images of Apolidon and Grimanesa, and to tell them about the ways of the ladies and damsels in the court of King Lisuarte, and the names of the most beautiful. He told them everything he knew with great discretion and humility, as he who had seen it and been there so many times, as this story has told.
And it happened that as he looked at the great and full beauty of the Princess and her damsels, he began to think about his lady Oriana and how if she were there, all the beauty in the world would be brought together in one place. And he thought about how far away she had been for so long and how he had no hope of seeing her, and he became faint and almost senseless. Thus the ladies realized that he was hearing nothing that they said. He spent some time that way until Queen Menoresa, who was lady of a great island named Gabasta, the most beautiful woman of all Greece besides Leonorina, took him by the hand and made him come back from where he had been lost in thought, which he left moaning and sighing as a man who felt great anguish. But when he was more self-aware, he felt great embarrassment, and realized that he ought to be reprehended by all those ladies.
“My ladies, do not consider it odd or surprising that he who sees the great beauty and grace, which God has placed in you, may think of some good fortune that he has experienced with great honor and pleasure, and remember its loss in such a way that I do not know when I may recover it either through desire or any labor I might do.”
He said this with the sadness that his tormented heart sent to his face, and all the ladies were moved to pity for him. But with great effort he retained the tears that his heart sent to his eyes and tried to return the lost happiness to himself and to them. In this way and others like it the Knight of the Green Sword spent the time he had promised there, and when he needed to say farewell, the ladies gave him very fine jewels. But he did not wish to take any of them besides the six swords that Queen Menoresa gave him, which were the most handsome and finely decorated that could be found in the world, and she said that she only gave them to him so that, when he gave them to his friends, he would think of her and those ladies and how much they loved him.
The beautiful Leonorina told him:
“My lord Knight of the Dwarf, I ask the courtesy of you that, if ye can, ye must come and see us again soon and be with my father, who esteems you highly. And I know that ye give him and all the nobles of his court great pleasure, and even more to us, because we find ourselves under your protection and defense if anyone were to trouble us. And if this cannot be done, I and all these ladies beg you to send us a knight of your lineage to serve us as may be necessary and whom we may speak to, thinking of you and forgetting some of the loneliness that your departure gives us. We fully believe from seeing you that ye must have relatives who would not cause you much shame.”
“My lady,” he said, “it can be said with truth that in my lineage there are such knights whose excellence makes mine look like nothing, and among them there is one whom I trust that if by the mercy of God he were to come to your service, he would return the great honors and gifts that I have received from your father and yourselves undeservedly, so that wherever I may be, I may believe that I am no longer in your debt.”
He said this thinking of having his brother Galaor come there to increase his honor, where his great skills would be appreciated as much as they ought to be. But that did not happen as the Knight of the Green Sword expected. Instead, in place of his brother, Sir Galaor, another knight of his lineage came there at such a time that he made the beautiful lady suffer so much anguish and worry that it would be hard to recount, because at sea and on land he had such amazing and dangerous adventures that not in his time nor for a long time afterwards could an equal be found, as shall be told in a branch of these books called The Exploits of Esplandian, as ye have already been told.
After the lady Leonorina earnestly begged him to return or send or the knight he spoke of, and he had promised to do so, she gave him permission to go. All the ladies went up to the windows, which they did not leave until they had lost sight of his galley in the sea.
Ye have been told earlier how the Emperor Patin sent his cousin Salustanquidio accompanied by a great many knights, and Queen Sardamira with many ladies and damsels, to King Lisuarte to ask for his daughter to marry. Now know that these messengers, wherever they went, sent letters from the Emperor to the princes and grandees they found on the way that asked them to honor and serve the Empress Oriana, daughter of King Lisuarte, whom he already considered his wife.
Although their words expressed their good will to do so, privately they prayed to God that such a fine lady, daughter of such a king, would not be taken by a man as scorned and despised by all those who knew him. They did that for good reason, for his immoderate behavior and arrogance was so overwhelming that, no matter how great anyone was within his realm or who had been conquered, none of them received any honor from him. Instead, he despised and vilified them, as if in that way he thought he could make himself more safe and lofty.
Oh, how mad is it for any prince to think that if he deserves to be despised by those whom he rules, he may be beloved by God! And if he is despised by God, what can he hope for in this world and the next? Truly, he can hope for nothing in one or the other except to be dishonored and destroyed and his soul forever sent to hell.
The ambassadors arrived at a port facing Great Britain called Zamando, and they waited there until they could find ships to carry them across. Meanwhile they sent word to King Lisuarte that they were coming to him with a message from their lord the Emperor that would please him greatly.