[How Oriana sought help from Sir Florestan, and how he promised to give it.]
[Detail of a tower at the Lesser Quarter side of the Charles Bridge in Prague, Czech Republic, showing a poor woman. Bridge construction began in 1357. Photo by Sue Burke.]
Then they all went to the Queen’s chambers, which were delectable, with trees and fountains and fine rooms. Leaving her there with her ladies and damsels and Sir Grumedan, who remained to serve them, Oriana returned to her chamber. In private with Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark, she said she truly believed that the knight whom Queen Sardamira spoke of was Amadis. They said they also thought so and were sure of it.
“My lady, now I understand a dream I had last night, in which it seemed we were in a locked and enclosed room, and we heard a great noise from outside that terrified us. And your knight broke down the door and shouted for you, and I showed him where you were lying on an estrado. He took you by the hand and brought us all from there and put us in a marvelous high tower and said:
“ ‘Wait here in this tower and fear no one.’
“And that is when I awoke. And that is why, my lady, my heart is full of courage. He will save you.”
When Oriana heard this, she felt joyful and embraced her, weeping, tears falling down her beautiful cheeks, and told her:
“Oh, Mabilia, my good lady and true friend, how well you come to my aid with your courage and fine words! And may God order in His mercy that your dream will come true as you told it. And if this is not His will, may He make it so that Amadis will come and we will both die together and neither of us will remain alive.”
“Let us not speak of this,” Mabilia said, “for God, having made him so blessed in the wonderful things he does for others, will not forsake him in his own needs. And speak with Sir Florestan, showing him great affection, and ask that he and his friends do everything they can so that you are not taken from this land, and ask him to tell that to Sir Galaor on your behalf.”
But I tell you that Sir Galaor, without anyone having spoken to him, already felt this concern and had so counseled the King, and we shall tell you how he did so. Know that King Lisuarte was hunting with Sir Galaor, and after they had hunted, the King was heading toward a valley. He reigned in his palfrey, and after all the others had passed on ahead, he called Sir Galaor and told him:
“My good friend and loyal servant, I have never asked for your counsel about anything in which your advice did not serve me well. Ye already know of the great power and high standing of the Emperor of Rome, who has sent for my daughter to be the Empress. In it I see two things to my great advantage. First, by marrying my daughter so honorably, making her a lady of such a great realm, I shall have the Emperor for my aid whenever I may need it. Second, my daughter Leonoreta will be lady and heir to Great Britain. I wish to speak of this to my noblemen, whom I have sent for, to see what they may advise about this marriage. And I would like you to speak to me here, where we have privacy, if ye please, about how this seems to you. I know you well and I know that ye will advise me about this matter in every sense that would be to my honor.”
Sir Galaor, after he heard this, spent a while thinking, then he said:
“My lord, I do not have a great mind, nor do I have a lot of experience in affairs of this type to know the ins and outs of such a great matter as this. For that reason, my lord, may I be excused, if ye please, because in these matters ye speak of, your lords are the ones with whom ye ought to consult, and they will tell you much better what would be to your honor and service, because they understand it much better than I do.”
“Sir Galaor,” the King said, “yet I wish you to tell me. If not, it would be the greatest sorrow in the world, especially since until today I have never received anything from you but great pleasure and service.”
“May God keep me from angering you,” Sir Galaor said, “but since ye are still pleased to test my simple mind, I shall tell you. And I say that although ye believe that ye would marry your daughter very honorably and to high estate, I think the opposite because she is your heir and successor to these reigns after your days, and ye could not do worse than to take them from her and put them under the subjugation of a foreign man over whom she will have no authority nor power. And if she achieves the goal of such ladies, which is to bear sons, and these sons marry, then she will be placed in even greater subjugation and poverty than before, seeing another empress reign.
“And regarding what ye said, that he shall help you, given that ye and your knights and friends are so worthy and have enhanced your dominions and your great fame in the world, I think, rather, it would diminish you to think and believe that ye could to turn to him in need. Given the arrogant ways everyone says he has, I think instead it would be the opposite, and ye would always suffer opposition and expenses without reward from him. The worst of this is that ye would be subject to being in his service and being judged as his servant, and ye would always be remembered that way in the books and chronicles. That is why, my lord, while ye see this to your greater honor, I see this as the greatest dishonor that could happen to you.
“And as to what ye say about your daughter Leonoreta inheriting Great Britain, this is a very great error, and from it many other errors would follow if discretion did not intervene. If ye, my lord, were to take this reign from a daughter so outstanding in the world, who rightly deserves it, and give it to one who ought not have it, may it never please God for me to advise you to do so. I do not say this about your daughter, because even the poorest woman of the world should not have what is hers taken from her. I say this for the loyalty I owe to God and you and my soul, and your daughter, for I hold myself as your vassal and hers.
“I am leaving tomorrow, God willing, for Gaul, to see my father the King, who for some reason has called for me. If ye please, I shall leave a letter explaining all that I have said under my name that ye may show to all the noblemen. If there is a knight who says otherwise, holding himself to be wiser, I shall fight him and make him know that what I have said is the truth.”
The King, having heard this, felt unsatisfied by his reasoning, although he did not show it, and he said:
“My friend Sir Galaor, if ye wish to go, leave me the letter.”
But he did not plan to show it to others unless it became very necessary.
And so as ye have heard, King Lisuarte rode with Sir Galaor until they arrived at his palace, and that night they rested with pleasure, everyone talking about the wedding, especially the King, who felt very eager for it. The next day Sir Galaor gave him the letter, said farewell to him and the noblemen, and left for Gaul. And know ye that the intention of Sir Galaor at this time was to prevent that wedding because he did not think it was to the advantage of the King, and he also suspected an affair between Amadis and Oriana, daughter of King Lisuarte, although no one had told him about it. He wished to go far away where he would no longer hear it spoken of, knowing that the King was already totally determined for it to happen. And Oriana knew nothing of this, and this is why she asked Sir Florestan to speak about it on her behalf with Sir Galaor, as ye have heard.
So that is how the day passed, as ye hear, at Miraflores. Queen Sardamira was very astounded by Oriana’s great beauty and could not believe that any mortal could be so lovely, although her beauty had been greatly diminished due to the great anguish and tribulations her heart gave her, fearing the marriage to the Emperor and hearing no news from her beloved friend Amadis of Gaul. And she did not wish for the Queen to speak to her about the Emperor but rather of other news and pleasure. But the next day she did speak of him, and such was the reply of Oriana, although with honor and courtesy, that she did not dare to speak of it again.
Then Oriana, knowing that Sir Florestan wished to leave, took him and went beneath some trees where there was a very fine estrado, had him sit facing her, and told him plainly and with her entire will about how her father was forcing her to be disinherited and sent to foreign lands, and she hoped for no other thing but death. And she wished to express her grievances not only to Sir Florestan, who loved her so well and in whom she had all hope and faith, but to all the grandees in all the kingdom, and to all the knights-errant, so they would have sorrow and pity for her and beg her father to change his mind.
“And ye, my good lord and friend Sir Florestan,” she said, “ask to advise him so he will understand the great sin that he is doing to me with this great cruelty and offense.”
Sir Florestan said:
“My good lady, without a doubt ye may well believe that I must serve you in everything that ye may order with the same will and humility as I would do for my father and lord King Perion. But I could not request this of your father at all because I am not his vassal nor would he take me into his counsel knowing the disdain I have over the ills he has done to me and my lineage. If he has had some service from me, he has no reason to be grateful to me, since I did it on the orders of my brother and lord Amadis, whom I could never contradict. It is not because your father the King would have lost these lands in the battle of the seven kings but because ye would have, Amadis placed himself in that battle and brought King Perion and myself with him, as ye know.
“He did that because he holds you to be one of the finest princesses in the world, and if he knew now about how ye are being coerced and wronged against your entire volition, my lady, believe that, with all his strength, he and his friends would put it right. I do not say this because ye are the high lady that ye are, since he would do this for the poorest woman that could be found in the world. So, my good lady, have hope, for there is still time to save you, if God wills, and I shall not stop until I am at Firm Island, where the knight Agrajes is, who is very willing to serve you because his father and mother raised you and because of the great love ye have for his sister Mabilia. And there we shall meet and decide what we can do.”
“Do you know,” Oriana said, “if Agrajes is there for certain?”
“I know it,” he said, “for Sir Grumedan told me he knew it because he sent a squire of his to him.”
“May God have mercy and guide him,” she said, “and give him my greetings. And tell him that I have great hopes in him and I rightly ought to. In the meantime if ye hear some news about your brother Amadis, let me know so I can tell it to his cousin Mabilia, who is dying from loneliness for him. May God guide you and Agrajes to come to a good agreement about my situation.”
Sir Florestan kissed her hands and said farewell. He took Sir Grumedan with him and went to Queen Sardamira and told her:
“My lady, I wish to go, and wherever I go I am your knight and servant, so I ask ye to think of me as such and order me to do anything that may serve you.”
The Queen said:
“Any woman who would not wish the service and honor of a man of such worth as you, Sir Florestan, would be foolish, and if God wills, I shall not fall into such great error. Instead, I receive your fine courtesy and I thank you as much as I can, and I shall always remember to ask you for anything you could do.”
Sir Florestan, who was studying her closely, said:
“May God, who has made ye so beautiful, thank you on my behalf for your answer, since I can give you nothing now more than my will and my word.”
And with that, he said goodby to her and to Mabilia and all the other ladies that were there, and he asked Sir Grumedan that if he heard any news about Amadis, to send it to him at Firm Island. He went to his lodging and armed himself, mounted his horse, and, with his squires, took the road that went straight to Firm Island, where he wished to speak with Agrajes and arrange with his friends to save Oriana if her father were to give her to the Romans.