Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Chapter 4 [first half]

[Photo: La Tizona, traditionally said to be one of the swords of the Spanish knight El Cid (1034-1099). He took it from the Moorish King Bucar after defeating him in battle. Recent tests show that the blade is from the time of El Cid, but the hilt is from the late 1400s. Photo from http://www.xyfo.com, a facsimile weapons dealer.]


How King Lisuarte sailed the sea and made port in the Kingdom of Scotland, where he was received with great honors.

After King Lisuarte had listened to the envoy, he took to the sea with a grand fleet with help from his father-in-law. He sailed as far as the kingdom of Scotland, where he took port and where he was received with great honor by King Languines.

Lisuarte brought with him his wife, Brisena, and a daughter he had had with her while he lived in Denmark named Oriana, about ten years old. She was the most lovely child ever seen, so lovely that they called her without peer, because at that time no one was her equal. Because sea travel had made her ill, he decided to leave her there, and asked King Languines and the Queen to care for her. They were very happy to do it, and the Queen said:

"Ye may be sure that I shall care for her as her own mother would."

Lisuarte quickly got in his ships and docked in Great Britain, where he discovered that certain people opposed him, and there often are in these situations, and because of that he did not remember his daughter for some time. He took the throne with great effort, and he was the best king Great Britain had had up until then. He maintained the proper conduct of knighthood better than any other until King Arthur reigned, and surpassed all kings until Arthur in virtue, although many reigned between them.

The author leaves Lisuarte reigning with much peace and tranquility in Great Britain, and turns to the Childe of the Sea. At the time he was twelve years old, but in his height and development, he seemed more like fifteen. He served the Queen, and was much loved by her and all the ladies and damsels. But when Oriana arrived, the daughter of King Lisuarte, the Queen gave her the Childe of the Sea to serve her, saying:

"My dear, this is a youth who will serve you."

Oriana said it pleased her. The Childe held these words in his heart in such a way that they never left his memory. Without fail, as this story tells it, never a day in his life did he find it tiresome to serve her, and his heart was always hers. This love endured as long as they lived, and as much as he loved her, she loved him, and not for a single moment did they cease to love each other.

But the Childe of the Sea, who did not at all recognize or realize much she loved him, believed it very bold merely to think of her, as noble and as beautiful as she was, so he dared not speak a word to her about his love. She kept her heart-felt love secret and spoke not a word of it to him or anyone else so no one would suspect it. But it gave their eyes great pleasure to look upon each other as the person each loved most in the world. So they lived, without their words or deeds revealing a thing to each other.

Time passed, as I have told you, and the Childe of the Sea realized that he could take up arms if he found someone who would make him a knight. He wanted this because, as a knight, he could do things that might get him killed, but if he lived, his lady would hold him in esteem. With this wish, he went to the King, who was in a garden, knelt before him, and said:

"My lord, if it pleases you, I would now become a knight."

The King said:

"Why, Childe of the Sea! Are ye so brave to become a knight? Know that is easy to get and hard to keep. Whoever wants to become one and to uphold the honor of the title of knight must do many grave things that will often trouble his heart. If a knight out of fear or greed fails to do his duty, he would be better to die than to live in shame. I would hold it well for ye to wait for a while."

"Not for all this would I give up being a knight, and if I knew I could not comply with what ye have said, my heart would not strive to be one. And since I am a servant at your mercy, fulfill your duty. If not, I will find someone who will."

The King, who feared that he would do so, said:

"Childe of the Sea, know that when it is more honorably time for you to become one, I promise to do it, and at that time ye shall have your arms and all else that ye require. But to whom do ye think to go?"

"To King Perion," he said, "who they tell me is a good knight and who is married to the sister of my lady the Queen. If I told him that I am her servant, I thought he would willingly arm me as a knight."

"For now, be patient," said the King, "and when the time comes, ye shall be honorably knighted."

Then he ordered all the equipment be made that would be necessary for the order of knighthood, and sent word to Gandales of all that had happened with his ward. It made Gandales very happy, and he sent a damsel to bring the Childe the sword, the ring, and the letter covered by wax that been in the ark when he found him.

One day, as the beautiful Oriana, along with other ladies and damsels, were at their leisure in the palace while the Queen slept, the Childe of the Sea was with them. He dared not even look at his lady, and he said to himself:

"Oh, God, why does it please Ye to have put so much beauty in this lady and so much trouble and pain in me because of her? It was a terrible moment when I set my eyes on her, for if they lose her light, and they will pay with death for the madness they have placed in my heart."

As he stood there, lost in thought, a page entered and told him:

"Childe of the Sea, a foreign damsel awaits you outside who brings gifts and wants to see you."

He wanted to go see her, but the heart of she who loved him shuddered when she heard it. Anyone who would have looked at Oriana could have seen how upset she was, but no one thought to do so. She said:

"Childe of the Sea, stay here and have the damsel enter, so we may see the gifts."

He remained, and the damsel entered, the one that Gandales had sent, who said:

"My lord Childe of the Sea, your foster father Gandales send you glad greetings, and as one who loves you, he sends you this sword, this ring, and this wax, and asks you to wear this sword for as long as ye shall live as a sign of his love."

He took the gifts and put the ring and the wax on his lap. He began to unwrap the sword from the linen cloth that surrounded it, wondering why it had no scabbard, and meanwhile Oriana took the wax, thinking that there was nothing else to it, merely wax, and told him:

"I would like this from these gifts."

He would have been more pleased to have her take the ring, which was one of the most beautiful in the world. As he was examining the sword, the King entered and said:

"Childe of the Sea, what do you think of this sword?"

"My lord, it seems very handsome, but I do not know why it has no scabbard."

"It has not had one for at least fifteen years," the King said.

He took him by the hand, led him aside, and told him:

"Ye wish to be a knight but ye do not know if ye have a right to it, and I want ye to know your estate as I know it."

And he told him how he had been found in the sea with that sword and ring inside an ark, as ye have heard it. The Childe said:

"I believe what ye say because that damsel told me that my foster-father Gandales sent me this sword, and I thought she misspoke when she did not say he was my father. But what hurts me is not what ye say but rather not knowing my lineage and family, just as they do not know me. But I believe I am a noble, and my heart gives me strength. And now, my lord, knighthood suits me more than ever, because with it I can gain honor and glory, and I do not know where I come from or if all those in my lineage are dead, since I do not know them, nor they me."

The King knew that he would be a brave and valiant man in every way, but as they were speaking, a knight came and told him:

"My lord, King Perion of Gaul has arrived at your house."

"My house? How?" said the King.

"He is at your palace," said the knight.

The King left quickly, as someone how knows how to honor all guests. After the two Kings saw each other and greeted each other, Languines said:

"My lord, why did ye come to this land so unexpectedly?"

"I came to find friends," King Perion said, "which I need now more than ever because King Abies of Ireland is at war with me. He has all his forces in my lands, camped in the countryside, and he is coming with Daganel, his cousin. Both have raised many men against me, so I need to enlist all my relatives and friends. I lost many men in the war, and I need all those who are loyal to me."

Languines told him:

"Brother, I am deeply saddened by your troubles, and I will help you as best I can."

Agrajes was already a knight, and he knelt in front of his father and said:

"My lord, I ask a gift from you."

Languines, who loved him as himself, said,

"Son, ask what ye wish."

"I ask you, my lord, that ye let me go to defend the Queen, my aunt."

"I grant that," he said, "and I shall send thee as honorably and finely as I can."

At that, King Perion was very happy.


  1. I thought that the sword in the photo looked familiar. Then, I realized that my wife owns a sword that looks very similar. We never knew it before, but apparently it is a replica of El Cid's famous sword.

  2. La Tizona is a common souvenir here in Spain. My letter opener is a mini-Tizona.