Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Chapter 2

[Photo: The door to the Golden Tower of Seville, built in 1220 to guard the port.]

How King Perion traveled home with his squire, and with his heart filled more by woe than by joy.

When King Perion left Little Brittany, as ye were already told, his spirit was tormented by great sorrow, both for the great loneliness that he felt for his dearest, whom he loved with all his heart, and for the dream that ye heard about which had overcome him. Once he arrived in his reign, he sent for all his nobles and ordered the bishops to send for the wisest clerics of his lands so they could explain that dream.

When his vassals learned of his arrival, those he had summoned as well as many others came with a great desire to see him, since he was well loved by all. Many times their hearts had been tormented to hear of the great combats that he entered into, fearing they would lose him. That is why they all wanted to have him with them, though it was not possible, for his mighty heart was not content except when his body was placed in great danger.

The King talked with them about the state of the kingdom and about other things they had done for his household, but always with such a woeful face that they were weighted with sadness.

Once this business was done, he sent them back to their estates, but had three clerics remain with him that he knew were the wisest in that which he wanted to know of. He took them with him to his chapel, where he had them swear by the sacred Host to answer his questions truthfully, fearing nothing, no matter how badly he took the news. That done, he sent the chaplain out and remained alone with them. Then he told them about the dream, which has been spoken of, and asked them to obtain from it what might happen to him.

One of them, named Ungan of Picardy, who knew the most, said:

"Lord, dreams are a vanity, and that is how they should be considered, but since it pleases you to have yours be understood, give us time to see to it."

"So be it," said the King, "and take twelve days to do it."

He sent them away with orders not to see or speak to each other during that time. Each cast his astrological divinations as best he knew. When the time came, they returned to the King, who took Albert of Champagne aside and told him:

"Ye know what ye swore: now speak."

"Let the others come," said the cleric, "and I will say it in front of them."

"Have them come," said the King.

And he had them called in. When they were all together, Albert said:

"My lord, I will tell thee what I understand. The chamber is properly locked and thou seest something enter by a small door. To me that seems to mean that thy kingdom is well protected and guarded, and from somewhere someone will enter to take something from thee. The same way that he put his hand inside thy ribs and took out thy heart and threw it in the river, he will take from thee a town or castle, and it will be under the power of someone from whom thou canst not take it back."

"And the other heart?" said the King. "The one he told me I still had and that he would make me lose against his will?"

"This," said the master, "to me means that another will enter in thy territory to take something similar of thine, much constrained by the power of someone that orders him to act against his will. But of this, my lord, I do not know what more to tell you."

The King ordered another, named Antales, to say what he had found. He confirmed everything the other had said:

"Except that my signs tell me that it is now done, and by that he who loves thee most. This makes me wonder because right now nothing is lost from thy kingdom, and if it were, it would not have been done by a person who loves thee much."

When he heard this, the King smiled a bit, since it seemed to him that nothing had been said. But Ungan the Picard, who knew much more than all, lowered his head and laughed from his heart, which he rarely did, since he was by nature a private and grave man. The King noticed it and said to him:

"Now, master, say what ye learned."

"My lord, perhaps I have seen things that should be told only to thee."

"Then let the rest leave," he said.

The doors were closed and the two remained. The master said:

"Know, King, that I laughed at those words that thou also found worthless. He said that it had already been done by the one who most loves thee. Now I want to speak to thee of that which thou hast kept well hidden and thinkest that no one knows. Thou lovest someone in that place where thou didst thy will, and she whom thou lovest is marvelously beautiful."

And he described her face as completely if she were in front of him.

"And concerning the chamber in which thou saw thyself, thou clearly knowest what it means, and how she, wishing to remove the trouble and sorrow from thy heart and from hers, wished to enter by the door that thou didst not perceive, and the hands she thrust between thy ribs is the joining of you both, and the heart she took out means the son or daughter that she will have by thee."

"But master," said the King, "what does it mean to throw it in the river?"

"That, my lord," he said, "thou dost not want to know, for it will serve thee nothing at all."

"Still," he said, "tell me without fear."

"As it pleases thee," said Ungan, "but I want thy assurance that, as a result of what I may say here, thou wilt never mistreat she who loves thee."

"I promise," said the King.

"Then know," he said, "that the child you will have will be thrown into the river the same way as thou hast seen it."

"And the other heart that remains with me," said the King, "what will that be?"

"By one for the other thou should understand," said the master, "that you will have another child and by some means you will lose it against the will of she who now will make thee lose the first one."

"You have told me extraordinary things, "said the King. "Pray to God that in his mercy that this last thing about the children will not be so true as that which thou saidst about the lady that I love."

"Of things ordained and permitted by God," said the master, "no one can prevent nor know how they will be resolved. This is why men should not feel sad or happy over events, because often that which seems ill or good can occur to them in a different manner than they expected. And thou, noble King, forget that which with so much interest thou hast wanted to know here, and remember to always pray to God. In this and all things that thou doest, be in His holy service, because it is without doubt for the best."

King Perion felt very satisfied by that which he wanted to know, and even more by the advice from Ungan of Picardy. He always kept him near, giving him many boons and favors.

Leaving the palace, he found a damsel whose attire was more beautiful than her looks, and she told him:

"Know thou, King Perion, that when thou recoverest thy loss, the dominion of Ireland will lose its glory."

And she left, and he could not detain her. Thus the King was left pondering this and other things.

The author ceases to speak of this and turns to the boy that Gandales was raising, called Childe of the Sea. He was brought up with great care by Sir Gandales and his wife, and was so handsome that all who saw him marveled. One day Gandales rode out armed. He was a great and good knight, very valiant, and he had always been accompanied King Languines during the time when the King had followed that habit, although by then he had given it up. Gandales had not, and instead rode armed often, and going out one day, as I tell you, he encountered a damsel who said to him:

"Ah, Gandales, if many noblemen knew what I know now, they would cut off thy head!

"Why?" he said.

"Because thou bearest their death," she said.

Know ye that this was the damsel who told King Perion that when his loss was recovered, the dominion of Ireland would lose its glory. Gandales, who did not understand, said:

"Damsel, I beg ye by God to tell me what that means."

"I shall not tell thee," she said, "but even still it shall come to pass."

And leaving him there, she went on her way. Gandales was left worrying about what she said, but after a short while he saw her returning on her palfrey, shouting:

"Oh, Gandales, help me, or I am dead!"

He looked and saw coming behind her an armed knight with his sword in his hand. Gandales spurred his horse and put himself between them, and said:

"Lowly knight, God curse you, what do ye want with the damsel?"

"What!" he said. "Do you want to protect that woman who tricked me into losing my body and soul?"

"I know nothing of this," said Gandales, "but I must protect her against you, because women must not be punished this way, even if they deserve it."

"Now you shall see," said the knight.

He put his sword in its scabbard and rode to a grove of trees, where a very beautiful damsel gave him a shield and a lance. He began to charge at Gandales, and Gandales charged at him. Their lances broke on their shields and flew off in pieces. The horses and the men crashed into each other so fiercely that both men flew to the ground, and the horses with them. Each one got up as fast as he could, and they did battle on foot, but not for long. The damsel who had fled put herself between them and said:

"Knights, be still."

The knight who had chased her stepped back, and she told him:

"Come and obey me."

"I will come readily," he said, "as to the thing in the world that I most love."

He threw down the shield from around his neck and the sword from his hand, and knelt in front of her. Gandales was greatly amazed by it. She said to the knight in front of her:

"Tell the woman under the tree to go away at once. If not, ye shall cut off her head."

The knight turned toward her and said:

"Evil woman, I am amazed that I have not taken off thy head!"

The damsel saw that her beloved was enchanted. Weeping, she got on her palfrey and left immediately. The other damsel said:

"Gandales, I thank you for what you did. Go with good fortune, and if this knight wronged me, I forgive him."

"I know nothing of your pardon," Gandales said, "but I do not release him from battle if he does not acknowledge defeat."

"Release him," she said, "for even if ye were the best knight in the world, I would make him defeat you."

"Ye may do as ye might," he said, "but I will not release him if ye do not tell me why ye said that I bear the death of many noblemen."

"I shall tell thee," she said, "because I love this knight as my beloved, and thee as my protector."

Then she stepped aside and told him:

"Pledge to me as a worthy knight that none shall hear this from thee until I order it."

He pledged, and she said to him:

"I tell thee that he whom thou foundst in the sea will be the most brilliant of the knights of his time. He will make the strong shake with fear. He will carry out all the things at which others have failed, and he will accomplish them with honor. He will do such things that no mortal man could manage to undertake or complete. He will make the prideful act with good grace. He will have a cruel heart against those who deserve it, and even more, I tell thee he will be the knight who will love the most faithfully of all in the world, and he will love someone who is proper for his high deeds. Know that he comes from royal bloodlines on both sides. Now go," she said. "Believe firmly that all will come to pass as I tell thee, and if thou were speak of it, more bad than good will come to thee."

"Oh, lady," said Gandales, "I beg you by God to tell me where I can find you to speak with you of his deeds."

"Thou shalt not know this from me nor from anyone," she said.

"Then tell me your name, for the trust that you owe to he that in the world you most love."

"Thou begst me so much that I shall tell thee, but I know that he whom I most love feels less for me than anyone in the world, and he is this most handsome knight against whom thou fought. But even so, I will not cease to force him to obey me, nor let him do otherwise. And know that my name is Urganda the Unrecognized. Now look at me well and recognize me if thou couldst."

He had previously seen her as a damsel who seemed no more than eighteen years old, and now he saw her so old and worn that he marveled that she could maintain herself on her palfrey. He began to cross himself at that marvel. When she saw him thus, she put her hand on a box that she kept in the lap of her gown. Then passing her hand over herself, she changed back to what she had been before and said:

"Dost thou think thou couldst find me even if thou wert to seek me? I tell thee be not eager for it, for if all those of this world were to try, they would not find me if I did not wish it so."

"God save me, lady," he said, "I believe it. But I beg you by God that ye remember the childe who is abandoned by all except by me."

"Think not in that," Urganda said, "for he who is abandoned shall become refuge and protection for many, and I love him more than thou thinkest. Because I watch over him, I yield two sources of help where no other could provide guidance. He will receive two rewards, which will make him very happy. Now I commend thee to God, for I must go, and thou shalt see me again sooner than thou thinkest."

She took the helmet and shield of her beloved to take with her. When Gandales saw his head bare, he seemed the most handsome knight ever seen. And so each went their way.

Here we leave Urganda to go with her beloved, and we will tell you of Sir Gandales, who turned from her to go to his castle. On the road, he encountered the maiden who had accompanied Urganda's beloved, weeping alongside a spring. When she saw Gandales, she recognized him and said:

"What is this, knight? Why did not that treacherous woman whom ye helped have you killed?"

"She is not traitorous," Gandales said, "but rather good and wise, and if ye were a knight, I would make you pay well for the folly that ye spoke."

"Oh, that vile woman," she said, "she knows how to deceive everyone!"

"And what treachery has she done to you?" he said.

"She took from me that handsome knight that you saw. Of his free will he would rather live with me than with her."

"She did indeed deceive him thus," he said, "but to me it seems that both ye and she have put him outside of his right mind."

"Be that as it may," she said, "if I can, I will seek vengeance."

"Your mind is deranged," he said, "to want to anger she who will know your thoughts before you can even act on them."

"Go now," she said. "Often those who know the most fall into the most dangerous traps."

Gandales left her and went on his way as before, pondering the deeds of his childe. When he arrived at the castle, before he took off his armor, he took the childe in his arms and began to kiss him. Tears came to his eyes, and he said in his heart:

"My beautiful son, if God wishes, I will see your time come."

The childe was then three years old, and his great handsomeness was a marvel to behold. When he saw his foster father cry, he put is hands on his eyes as if he wished to wipe them dry. It made Gandales happy to think that, when he was older, he would understand his sadness even more. He put him down and took off his armor, and from then on he continued to care for him with even greater love.

When he was five years old, Gandales made a child-sized bow for him, and one for his son Gandalin, and he had them shoot for him. And so he continued to care for him until he was seven years old.

At this time, King Languines, traveling through his kingdom with his wife and his entire court from one town to another, came to Gandales's castle, which was on the way, and where he was well feted. But Gandales sent the Childe of the Sea, his son Gandalin, and other noble boys to a courtyard where he would not be seen.

The Queen, whose room was in highest part of the castle, looked from window and saw the children shooting their bows. Among them, the Childe of the Sea was so outstanding and so handsome that it was a great marvel to behold him. She noticed that he was better dressed than all of them and seemed to be their lord. Since there was no one from Sir Gandales's court to ask, she called her ladies and damsels and said:

"Come, look at the most beautiful child ever seen!"

He seemed amazingly advanced in handsomeness for his age, and as they were all watching him, the childe became thirsty, so he put his bow and arrows down and went to a spout on a fountain to drink. A boy older than the rest picked up his bow and wanted to shoot with it, but Gandalin would not let him. The other boy shoved him down roughly. Gandalin said:

"Help me, Childe of the Sea!"

When he heard that, he stopped drinking and charged at the big boy, who let go of the bow. The Childe took it in his hand and said:

"You picked a bad time to hurt my brother."

And he gave the boy a big blow on top of his head as hard as he could, and they both fought. The big boy began to lose, and he ran and found the tutor who watched over them, who said:

"What happened?"

"The Childe of the Sea hurt me," he said.

Then the tutor went for him with a strap and said:

"How could ye do that, Childe of the Sea! Do ye now dare to hurt youngsters? Now ye shall see how ye are punished for it."

The childe knelt before him and said:

"Sir, I would rather have ye hurt me than to have someone dare to do wrong to my brother in front of me."

Tears come to his eyes. The tutor took pity and said to him:

"If ye do it again, I will really make you cry."

The Queen saw all this clearly, and she wondered why they called him Childe of the Sea.


  1. I just want to say thank you for translating this - I'm very engrossed in the story now and looking forward to more chapters. ^_^

  2. Thank you. For me, it's a lot of fun, and there's much more excitement ahead.