[How Amadis sailed to Firm Island, and how the knights there agreed to rescue Oriana.]
[Although now only ruins remain, the Great Hall of Winchester Palace was built on the south bank of the Thames in London in about 1136 and enlarged and graced with a rose window in the 14th century. It was home to the Bishop of Winchester and was used for such events as the royal wedding of King James I of Scotland. Photo by Sue Burke.]
The damsel who had accompanied the knights came to the King and said:
“My lord, if ye please, listen to me in private before I go.”
The King made everyone leave, then told her:
“Now say what ye please.”
“My lord,” she said, “until now, ye have been the most esteemed king in the Christendom and your great reputation has always preceded you. One of your good qualities is always to consider the needs of damsels, giving them favors and doing justice for them and being very cruel against those who did them wrong. And now the great hope they had in you is lost. They all feel abandoned by you because they see what ye are doing to your daughter Oriana, without cause or reason disinheriting her from that which God made hers. They are terrified and frightened by how your noble nature has become so twisted, and they shall have little faith in your aid when against God, against your daughter, and against all your subjects ye act with such cruelty. More than anyone else ye are obliged, not as King, who must protect everyone’s rights, but as a father, for although she were forsaken by all the world, she should be protected and consoled by you. And this is not only a bad example to the world, but her laments and tears cry out to God. Heed this well, my lord, and make the end of your days like their beginning, for they have given ye more glory and fame than anyone else alive. And, my lord, may ye be commended to God, for I must go to those knights who are waiting for me.”
“May ye go with God,” the King said, “and may God help me, I consider ye good and wise.”
She went to the knights who were waiting, and they placed her on her horse between them and went to the galley, for the weather was becoming favorable for their voyage. Then they left the port, and because they knew what day that King Lisuarte was going to deliver his daughter Oriana to the Romans, they sought to travel fast to tell the Greek Knight. So in two days and two nights they reached his ships, and he was waiting for them.
He received them well and with great pleasure because their adventures had concluded with honor. The damsel told them how the battle had unfolded, and what had been done to help Sir Grumedan with the great need he had due to a lack of companions, and the pleasure he took from it and the thanks he sent to the Greek Knight for such help. She told everything and left out nothing.
Grasinda asked her:
“Do you know what the King has ordered done with his daughter?”
“Yes, my lady,” the damsel said. “Four days after ye left they shall send her to sea to be taken away in the custody of the Romans. But, my lady, to see her and her damsels and everyone in the kingdom weep is something that no one could recount.”
Tears came to Grasinda’s eyes, and she prayed to God to show Oriana mercy and send her some deliverance from that great injustice. But the Greek Knight was very happy with the news because in his heart knew he could rescue her, and now he could not wait for the moment to engage the Romans, for when it was over, he would enjoy his lady with relief in his sad heart, for he could not have her any other way. About King Lisuarte and the Emperor he had little worry, and he expected to give them more than they could manage. And what made his soul happiest was to think that this could be done with no shame to his lady.
Speaking and resting as ye hear, at the hour of the tierce they arrived at the great port of Firm Island. The people of the island, who knew from Gandalin that Amadis was coming, saw the ships when they were still far away and knew from their flags it was him. They were all joyful, for they loved him dearly, and they hurried to the seaside, among them all the great men of his family and all his friends, who were waiting for him.
When Grasinda was the port and so many people and how happy they were, she was amazed, and even more when she heard many of them say:
“Welcome, our lord, who has been away from us for so long!”
She said to the Greek Knight:
“My lord, why do these people do you such reverence and honor, saying ‘welcome, our lord’?”
“My lady, I beg your pardon because I disguised myself from you for so long, but I could do no less without risking great shame. I have done so in all the foreign lands where I roamed, and no one could find out my name. Now I wish ye to know that I am the lord of this island, and I am the Amadis of Gaul that ye have heard spoken of sometimes. Those knights are of my lineage and my friends, and those other people my vassals. And it would be hard to find as many other knights equal to them in the world.”
“Though I feel pleasure in learning your name, my lord,” she said, “my heart is sad not to have done the service that a man of such noble lineage deserved, and I feel very unfortunate for having treated you like a poor knight-errant. If one thing gives me consolation, it is the honors that I gave you in my land, if any of it pleased you, can be attributed to the worth of yourself alone and none of it to your high estate nor lineage, nor to these knights whom ye praise so greatly.”
Amadis told her:
“My lady, let us not speak more of this, for the honors and gifts that I received from you were so many and came at the time when I needed them. Neither I nor those that ye see here, for all that we are worth, could repay them.”
Then they arrived at the port where everyone awaited them, and there Sir Gandales had ready twenty palfreys which the women mounted to ride up to the castle. But for Grasinda they brought out a very beautiful palfrey from the ships with enameled gold and silver trappings, and she wore marvelously rich clothing. And from the skiff in which she and Amadis arrived, they set out strong planks to the sand so they could disembark.
On the shore awaited Agrajes, Sir Cuadragante, Sir Florestan, Gavarte of the Fearful Valley, the good Sir Dragonis, Orandin, Ganjes of Sadoca, Argamon the Brave, and Sadonan, brother of Angriote of Estravaus, and his nephews Pinores and Sarqiles, and Madansil of the Silver Bridge, and many other noblemen who sought adventures, more than thirty in all. And Enil, the good and wise, was already on the skiff speaking with Amadis, and Ardian the dwarf and Gandalin with the Grasinda’s damsels.
Then Amadis took Grasinda by the arm and helped her from the skiff to the land, where she was received with great respect and courtesy by all those lords, and he gave her to Agrajes and Florestan, who put her on her palfrey. They were all impressed by her great beauty and rich attire. And so they brought her, as ye hear, and her ladies and damsels to the island, where they had her lodge in the beautiful rooms where Amadis and his brothers had stayed when they won the island. For greater celebration, almost all the knights ate with her, and Sir Gandales had everything well prepared. The chief servant for the meal was Ardian the dwarf, who could not contain his pleasure, and said many things that made them laugh.
But in all this celebrating, Amadis never left the side of doctor Elisabad. Instead, he took him by the hand and introduced him to all, saying that God and Elisabad had kept him alive, and at the table had him sit between himself and Sir Gavarte of the Fearful Valley. But all these pleasures and the sight of those knights whom Amadis loved so much could not keep his heart from conflict, worrying that the Romans could take Oriana across the sea before he could stop them, and he could find no rest or relaxation in anything because in comparison to she whom he loved so much, everything else seemed lonely.
After they had all eaten with great pleasure, and the tablecloths had been lifted, Amadis asked that no one leave his seat for he wished to speak with them, and they did as he asked. When Amadis saw all those knights sitting quietly at their tables waiting for what he would say, he spoke to them thus:
“Since ye last saw me, my noble lords, I have traveled through many foreign lands and so many great adventures happened to me that it would be long to recount, but the ones that occupied me most and brought me the greatest dangers were to rescue ladies and damsels who had suffered wrongs and injuries. Because they are born to obey with weak spirits and their most mighty arms are tears and sighs, those of strong hearts, among many other causes, theirs they ought to urgently take up, giving them aid, defending them from those who with little virtue mistreat and dishonor them, as the Greeks and Romans in ancient times did, crossing seas, destroying lands, winning battles, killing kings and expelling them from their kingdoms, only to obtain satisfaction for the rapes and injuries done to those women, and for that so much fame and glory remains in their stories that they shall last as long as the world itself shall last.
“And as for what is happening in our own times, who knows it better than you, my good lords? For ye have been witnesses and can testify to the many affronts and dangers that in this cause happen every day. I shall not speak long and place ancient true examples before you to embolden your hearts, which are already so mighty that if their excess could be shared across the world, no coward would remain in it. Because ye remember fine past deeds, with greater desire ye seek to achieve them in the present.
“Coming to my point, I knew before I came to these lands the great wrong and injury that King Lisuarte wished to do to his daughter Oriana, and as she is the legitimate successor to his kingdoms, against all that is just he is depriving her of them and sending her to be the wife of the Emperor of Rome, and, from what I have been told, wholly against the will of all the King’s subjects and of she herself, who protests mightily with great laments and exclaims these great wrongs to God and the world.
“And if it is true that this King Lisuarte is doing such cruelty without fear of God or his people, I tell you that at a horrible moment in time we were born if we do not seek to remedy this, and if we were to let it happen, all the danger and travail that we have endured so far to win honor and praise shall be placed in oblivion. Now let each one say what he thinks, if ye please, for I have made my thoughts manifest.”
Then, at the request of all, Agrajes responded and said:
“Although your presence, my lord and good cousin, has doubled our strength, and the things that we worried about, now with you here seem frivolous and insubstantial, we, having little hope for your arrival and knowing what King Lisuarte wishes to do, have determined to be the relief and aid for it. We will not allow such a great misdeed to happen, and instead they or we shall pass from life to death. And since we are all agreed and of the same will, let us get to work quickly, or that glory we wish to achieve may be lost by our negligence.”
When those knights heard Agrajes’ reply, in one voice they cheered it, and they said that Oriana must be rescued without delay, that if it were true that they had placed their lives in danger for trivial things, with greater will they must act on this, which would give them outstanding, perpetual glory in this world.
Grasinda, seeing them in complete agreement, embraced Amadis and said:
“Oh, Amadis, my lord! Now the great worth of you and of your friends and family is apparent in your will to bring about the greatest rescue ever done by knights, not only for such a fine lady but all the ladies and damsels of the world, because the good and courageous knights of other lands will take it as an example and shall place greater concern and daring in what they rightly ought to do for them, and decadent and vile men shall be more tightly constrained by fear and shall refrain from doing wrongs and injuries. My lord, go with the blessing of God, and He shall guide and help you. I will wait for you here to see how it ends, and then I shall do as ye ask.”
He thanked her sincerely and left her in the protection of Isanjo, the island’s governor, who wished to serve her and show her all the delightful things in the island, and do many honors for Amadis’s great friend doctor Elisabad. But the doctor told Amadis:
“Good lord, if I could serve you in some way, it would be in none other than these deeds that ye shall do, and while ye must exempt me from bearing arms because I am a priest, in no way shall I remain behind. Instead I wish to assist you with the skills God gave me, and if you please, my lord, I am sure ye shall be well served and helped by these skills, for I know of the madness of the Romans and your determination.”
Amadis embraced him and said:
“Oh, doctor, my true friend! May God be pleased in His mercy to allow me to reward you for what ye have done and shall do for me. And if ye are pleased to come, let us go immediately to the sea with the help of God.”
When the fleet was supplied with everything that would be necessary and its crew was ready, in the early hours of the night, Amadis ordered that all other routes be changed so that no news about his ships would learned, and they all embarked in their fleet. Without noise or commotion, they began to sail toward where the Romans would have to pass on the route they meant to take, where they would be intercepted.