How the news came to King Lisuarte that the Romans had been ruined and Oriana had been rescued, and what he did about it.
King John of England hunting stags from the manuscript De Rege Johanne, 1300-1400, at the British Library.]
On the day that King Lisuarte delivered his daughter to the Romans, he spent some time with her a little outside of town, at times somewhat consoling her with great mercy as a father, and other times with excessive passion eliminating all hope that he might change his mind. But neither one way nor the other did he give her any consolation or recourse, and her wailing and sorrow was so great that no man in the world would not have been moved to pity. Although her father the King throughout all that affair had been hard and unyielding, he could not deny the paternal love that his distraught daughter deserved, and tears came to his eyes against his will.
Saying nothing more, he turned away more sadly than his face showed, and before leaving he spoke with Salustanquidio and Bronajel de Roca, urging them to take good care of her. He returned to his palace and found both men and women sobbing over Oriana’s departure, and the very strict orders that he had given did nothing to change that because the Princess was more beloved and more dear to everyone than anyone in Great Britain had ever been.
The King looked around his great hall and saw none of the usual knights except for Brandoivas, who told him that the Queen was in her chamber weeping with great sorrow. He went to the chamber where she was and found there none of the ladies and princesses and other damsels who usually accompanied her. And when he saw everything so deserted in different from how it had been, missing both knights and women, and those who were there were so sad, he felt great regret, and his heart was covered by a dark cloud, so for a while he did not speak. He entered into the chamber where the Queen was, and when she saw him enter, she fell senseless in a dead faint on an estrado. The King picked her up, holding her in his arms until she was awake, and when he saw her in a better disposition and more composed, he told her:
“My lady, it will not do for your discretion or virtue to show such weakness at any adversity, even more so for this which should be received as such an honor and advantage. And if ye wish to have my love and friendship, ye should cease this, and now should be the last of it, for your daughter is not going so bereft. She can still be considered the greatest princess there ever was in her lineage.”
The Queen could not respond in any way, and so just as she was she let herself fall face down on a bed sighing over the great suffering in her heart. The King left her and returned to his hall, where he found no one with whom to speak except for King Arban of North Wales and Sir Grumedan, who with their gestures and faces showed the sadness they held in their hearts. Although he was very wise and long-suffering and knew how to hide all things better than any other man, he could not do anything other than show in his own gestures and speech the sadness that he secretly held.
And so he thought that it would be good if he went away to the forest with his hunters until the time came that would cure what at present had no good remedy. He ordered King Arban to make ready the tents and all the equipment necessary for hunting in the forest, because he wished to go to the hills immediately the next morning. And so it was done, and that night he did not wish to sleep in the chambers of the Queen so she would not suffer more anguish than she already did.
The next day after he heard Mass, he went to hunt, and as he found himself alone, it greatly aggravated his sadness and meditation, and he found rest nowhere. This was a King so noble, so gracious, so careful to have the best knights with him that he could, as he once did; with them had come all the honor and good fortune and fate he had desired, but now in a short period of time he had seen it all changed contrary to the way it had been and the way he wished it to be, so he did not possess enough discretion nor was his heart strong enough, and many times he could not help falling into great suffering.
But as often happens when Fortune begins to make her changes, she is not content with the anger that men acquire by their own will, and instead with great cruelty she wishes to make it grow and increase, following her usual style, which is never to be orderly. There where the King was, she wished to show how he would forget that sorrow which to her seemed to have a very minor cause which he had accepted willingly, and to replace that pain with another that would strike him much harder than he had ever known.
Some of the Romans who had fled from Firm Island had arrived and learned where the King was, and they went to him and told him everything that had happened to them, just as the story has recounted, and they left nothing out since they had been present for everything. When the King heard this, although his pain was very great since it was such an extraordinary thing and had so much to do with him, he maintained a good expression and did not show any of his sorrow, as kings often do, and he told them:
“My friends, the death of Salustanquidio and your losses weigh heavily on me, and I am accustomed to receiving affronts and giving them to others in matters that concern me. Do not leave my court, and I shall order that everything ye need be provided.”
They kissed his hands and asked him the favor to remember the other companions and lords they had been prisoners with. He told them:
“My friends, do not worry about this, for it shall be solved in the best way for the honor of your lord and my own.”
He ordered them to go to the town where the Queen was, and to say nothing about that until he came, and they did so. The King spent three days hunting with the anguish that ye can understand he had, and then he returned to where the Queen was. To everyone he looked happy, although in his heart he felt what ought to be felt in such a case. He dismounted and went to the Queen’s chambers. And as she was one of the most noble and wise women in the world, in order not to anger him further, seeing how that would do little to remedy her desires, she acted much more consoled.
When the King arrived, he ordered everyone to leave the chamber, sat down with her on the estrado, and told her:
“In things of little substance that come by accident, people have some ability and license to show a little suffering and melancholy, but just as it comes with little cause, so easily and with a small remedy it can also be set aside. But in things that are very grave and painful, especially in cases of honor, it is the opposite, and these things ought to be felt and shown little gravity, yet the vengeance and rigor should be very great. And getting to the point, ye, Queen, felt great sorrow at the absence of our daughter, as is the custom of mothers, and have displayed many feelings over that and over the wedding, as is often the case. But I said then that in brief time it would be forgotten, but what has become of this is such that without showing excessive anger, amends must be sought with great diligence and a great heart.
“Know that the Romans who had taken your daughter, and their entire fleet were destroyed and taken prisoners, many of them killed along with their Prince Salustanquidio, and she and all her ladies and damsels were taken by Amadis and his knights to Firm Island, where they hold her in great victory and with pleasure. And so it could well be said that such a great and exceptional thing as this has never happened before in the memory of any man in the world. So it is necessary that ye with great discretion as a woman, and I with great courage as a King and knight, work to remedy this for your honesty and my honor with deeds rather than with excessive sentiment.”
After the Queen heard this, for some time she did not respond. And as she was one of the ladies who most loved her husband in the world, she thought that in something such as this and with such men, it was more important to create concord then discord, and she said:
“My lord, although ye consider very important what has happened and what ye have learned about your daughter, if ye were to judge it in light of that time when ye were a knight errant and were to think of the clamor and suffering of Oriana and of all of her damsels, and the great period of time in which it took place and became publicly known everywhere so everyone was speaking about it, although the attack was a great act of violence, no man should be amazed that those knights dared to do what they did, as men who do nothing else but to rescue ladies and damsels when they receive some harm and injury. And, my lord, although she is your daughter, ye had already delivered her to those who had come for her on behalf of the Emperor, and thus the violence and injury is more a matter for him than for you. Now as the response commences, it should be taken with temperance so that ye do not seem to be at the head of this conflict, for if it were done otherwise, it could hardly be hidden.”
The King told her:
“Now, my lady, remember to act in keeping with your honesty, as I have told you, and as for what regards me, with the help of God, amends shall be made with the grandeur that your estate and mine require.”
With that he left her and went to his hall. He had King Arban of North Wales and Sir Grumedan called, along with Guilan the Pensive, who now had recovered from his injury. He took them aside and told them everything that has happened about his daughter and with the Queen, because these three were the knights in whom he had the most trust of all those in his kingdom. And he asked and ordered them to think about it deeply and tell him what they thought he should do to best fulfill his honor, but at that time without more deliberation he did not wish them to respond.
Thus the King spent several days thinking about what he ought to do. The Queen remain very thoughtful and anguished to see the rigors of her husband the King, and how he used it against those whom he well knew would prefer to lose their lives than the least part of their honor, which she also expected from the King himself. And so of all the conflicts that had come to him, no matter how large they were, as this great story has recounted, in comparison to this they seemed like nothing.
So as she was in her chamber with infinite things going through her mind about how to achieve the remedy of such a rupture, a damsel entered and told him that Durin, the brother of the Damsel of Denmark, had arrived from Firm Island and wished to speak to her. The Queen ordered him to enter, and he knelt and kissed her hands and gave her a letter from her daughter Oriana, for apparently when Oriana saw the determination of the knights at Firm Island to send Sir Cuadragante and Brian of Monjaste to her father the King with the mission that ye have heard about, she decided it would be good to prepare for them before they arrived at the court of her father the King by writing a letter to her mother the Queen and sending it with Durin, and that was what she had done.
When the Queen received the letter, tears of loneliness came to her eyes for her daughter because there was no way to recover her if God in His mercy did not provide a solution to the great danger and confrontation that faced her lord the King. And so she was quiet for a while and could not say anything to Durin, and before asking him anything, she opened the letter to read it.