Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Chapter 13 [final half]

[In which Amadis fought with Dardan, and how he seemed to be struck by cowardice.]

[Codex Manesse, c. 1320, a German illuminated manuscript of love songs.]


The next day they traveled without any incident to recount until they arrived at Windsor, where King Lisuarte was. As they came close to the town, Amadis said to the damsels:

"My friends, I do not wish to be known by anyone, and until the knight comes for the battle, I will remain here hidden somewhere. Send one of these squires who knows me to call me when it is time."

"My lord," they said, "there remain only two days until the date. If ye wish, we will stay with you and send someone to town to tell us when the knight has arrived."

"So be it," he said.

Then they left the road and had the tents put up along a riverbank. The damsels said that they wanted to go to the town and would return soon. Amadis mounted his horse, unarmed, and with Gandalin, went to a hillock where they thought they could see the town better. Near it was a wide road. Amadis sat at the foot of a tree, began to gaze at the town, and saw its towers and walls raised high. He said in his heart:

"Oh, God! Where in there is the flower of the world? Oh, town, how lofty thou art to have now in thee the lady who is without par in goodness or beauty in all the world, and I even say that she is the most loved of all the women who are loved. I would prove this to the best knight in the world, if she were to grant it to me!"

After having praised his lady, a great distress came to him, and tears to his eyes. His heart failed, and he fell into a deep melancholy in which he was so lost that he was unaware of himself and everyone else. Gandalin saw a company of ladies and knights coming down the wide road toward his lord, so he went to him and said:

"My lord, do ye not see the company coming here?"

But he did not respond. Gandalin took him by the hand and pulled him up. He arose, sighing deeply, and his face was all wet with tears. Gandalin told him:

"May God help me, my lord, your melancholy worries me greatly, for ye take such distress in things which any other knight in the world would not. Ye must confront them and have courage, as ye do in other things."

Amadis told him:

"Oh, my friend Gandalin, how my heart suffers! Since thou lovest me, I know that thou wilt advise death rather than living in such great distress and desiring that which I cannot see."

Gandalin, who could not refrain from crying, said:

"My lord, this is a misadventure of excessively deep love and, God help me, I think there is no woman so noble nor so beautiful to equal your goodness, nor shall there be."

Amadis, when he heard this, grew angry and told him:

"Go! How darest thou, crazy and senseless, rave like that? Can I or anyone else be worth as much as she in whom all the goodness in the world is gathered? And if thou sayest that again, thou shalt not go one step more with me."

Gandalin said:

"Wipe your eyes so that those who are coming do not see your tears."

"What?" he said. "Someone is coming?"

"Yes," Gandalin said.

Then he showed him the ladies and knights that were now close to the hillock. Amadis mounted his horse, rode toward them, and greeted them, and they him. He saw among them a lady exceedingly beautiful and well dressed, who was crying uncontrollably. Amadis said to her:

"My lady, may God make you happy."

"And may He give you honor," she said, "but happiness now is far away from me, if God does not grant me help."

"May God grant it," he said. "But what sorrow is it that ye suffer?"

"My friend," she said, "all I own is at risk and on trial by combat."

He understood then that she was the lady of whom the damsels had spoken, and he told her:

"My lady, do ye have someone who will fight for you?"

"No," she said, "and the date is tomorrow."

"Then, what do ye think will happen?" he said.

"In the court of the King, if there is no one who will duel for me and take on this combat out of mercy and righteousness," she said, "I will lose all."

"May God give you good help," Amadis said. "It would please me greatly, both for you and because I despise he whom ye face."

"God make you a good man," she said, "and quickly give you and me vengeance on him."

Amadis went to his tents and the lady with her companions to the town, and the damsels arrived soon to tell him that Dardan was now in the town, well-prepared to do battle. Amadis told them how he met the lady and what happened. That night they rested, and at dawn of day the damsels arose and told Amadis that they were going to the town and that they would send someone to say what the knight was doing.

"I wish to go with you to be close by," he said, "and when Dardan comes on the field, one of you should come tell me."

And then he armed himself and they all left together, and when they were close to the town, Amadis remained at the edge of the forest and the damsels went on. He got off his horse and took off his helmet and shield, and waited.

It was sunrise, and at this time, as ye hear, King Lisuarte rode with a large company of good men to a field between the town and the forest. Dardan arrived there well-armed on a beautiful horse, and he brought his beloved by the reins, as well-dressed as he could make her, and he stopped with her in front of King Lisuarte and said:

"My lord, order that all be delivered to this lady which ought to be hers, and if there is a knight who says no, I shall fight him."

King Lisuarte ordered to have the other lady called up. She came before him, and he said:

"My lady, do ye have someone who will fight for you?"

"My lord, no," she said, weeping.

The King felt great pity for her, because she was a good lady. Dardan went and stood in the place where he would have to wait, armed, until the third hour of day, and if no knight came to challenge him, the King would have to find in his favor, as that was the custom.

When the damsels saw him waiting, one went as fast as she could to tell Amadis. He rode and, taking his arms, told Gandalin and the damsel to leave by another route, and if he left the battle with his honor, to go to the tents, where he would arrive. Then he left the forest fully armed on a white horse, and he rode toward where Dardan was readying his weapons. When the King and the townspeople saw a knight leave the forest, they wondered who it was, for no one could recognize him, and they said that they had never seen a knight with such handsome arms and horse. The King said to the lady who had been challenged:

"My lady, who is this knight who wishes to take up your cause?"

"May God help me," she said, "I do not know and never recall seeing him."

Amadis entered the field where Dardan was and said:

"Dardan, now defend the cause of thy beloved, and I shall defend that of the other lady with the help of God, and free myself of what I promised thou."

"What didst thou promise me?" he said.

"That I would fight with thee," Amadis said, "for learning thy name when thou wert villainous toward me."

"Now I value you less than before," Dardan said.

"Now nothing ye say means anything to me," Amadis said, "because I am here to avenge myself, if God gives me fortune."

"Let the lady come and pledge thee as her knight," Dardan said, "then avenge thyself if thou canst."

Then the King arrived with his knights to see what was happening. Dardan said to the lady:

"This knight wishes to fight for you. Do ye grant him that right?"

"I grant it," she said, "and may God give him a fine reward for it."

The King looked at Amadis and saw that his shield had been damaged in many places, and the edge was cut by sword blows. He said to the other knights:

"If that unknown knight were to ask for a shield, give him it immediately, for he merits it."

But Amadis was so intent on fighting Dardan that he had thoughts of nothing else, holding his foul words in his memory more fresh and recent than when they happened, for which all ought to take example and rein in their tongues, especially with those whom they do not know, because grave consequences have occurred over similar incitements.

The King drew back, along with everyone else. Dardan and Amadis came at each other from a distance. Their horses were fleet and light, and the knights very strong, and they hit each other with their lances so bravely that all their armor failed, but neither was injured, though the lances were broken. The bodies of their horses and their shields collided so fiercely that it was amazing.

Dardan went to the earth in that first joust, but it went well for him because he kept the reins in his hand. Amadis passed by him, and Dardan remounted quickly and rode as skillfully as before. He bravely put his hand on his sword.

When Amadis turned toward him on his horse, he saw him ready to attack, so he put his hand on his sword, and both attacked so fiercely that all were frightened to see the battle. The townspeople were in the towers, on the wall, and everywhere where they could best see the fight. The rooms of the Queen overlooked the wall and had many windows filled by ladies and damsels, and they watched the knights battle, which terrified them to see.

They struck each other on their helmets, which were of fine steel, so that it seemed to all that their heads were burning due to the great sparks that flew off. Their hauberks and other armor fell to the earth in pieces, in fragments of mail, and in many slices of their shields.

Their battle was so brutal that all who saw it took fright, and the knights did not pause in their attacks from all sides. Each one showed the other his strength and spirit. King Lisuarte watched them, and of the many combats he had fought in or had seen with his own eyes, all seemed like nothing compared to this. He said:

"This is the bravest battle that man has seen. I want to see how it ends and have a statue of the victor placed at gate of my palace so that all those who hope to win honor may see it."

The knights continued their battle with great spirit, as ye have heard, attacking with fearsome blows and without even a brief rest. Amadis had deep anger with Dardan and hoped to find a place in the court of the King where his lady awaited, so he could serve her. He saw that the other knight was becoming slower, and he began to give bigger and harder blows, because he wished to show his worth there more than anywhere else, for there was where his lady was.

Thus by the third hour of day, all had realized that Dardan was getting the worst of the battle, but he could still defend himself so well that no one there was so valiant as to dare to fight him. But that made no difference, for the unknown knight had only improved in strength and in spirit, attacking as fiercely as he had in the beginning. Everyone said that nothing about him waned except his horse, which was now not as effective as it should have been, the same as the horse of his combatant. Both often stumbled, or fell to their knees with their riders on top, and could hardly be made to charge. Dardan, who believed he could fight better on foot than on horseback, said to Amadis:

"Knight, our horses are failing, for they are very tired, and this is making our fight last longer. I believe that if we had fought on foot, I would have quickly defeated thee."

He said this loudly so that the King and all those with him could hear it. The unknown knight was greatly shamed by this, and said:

"Well, if thou believest thyself better defended on foot than on horse, let us dismount. Defend thyself as necessary, although it seems to me that a knight ought not leave his horse as long as he can stay on it."

So they immediately got off their horses, and each one took what remained of his shield, and with great spirit they went at each other, attacking more bravely than before, which amazed those who watched. But the unknown knight was better than ever and landed truer blows than the other, and struck harder and more frequently, never allowing him to rest, although he saw that Dardan needed it. Often he made him swing from one side to the other, and fall to his knees, so much that everyone said:

"Dardan was mad to ask to fight on foot with that knight, who could not land blows from his horse, which was very tired."

As so the unknown knight had Dardan at his bidding, who now was trying more than ever to protect himself from the blows of the other knight's attacks and was retreating toward the Queen's palace. The damsels and all others said that Dardan would die if he kept fighting. When they were below the windows, they all called out:

"Holy Mary! Dardan is dead!"

Thus Amadis heard the Damsel of Denmark, recognizing her voice. He looked up and saw his lady Oriana in a window with the Damsel. As soon as he looked at her, his sword swung in his hand, and he lost sight of the battle and everything else. Dardan took it a as a chance rest. He saw that his enemy was looking elsewhere, and he took his sword in both hands and gave him such a blow on his helmet that he made it twist on his head. In response, Amadis only straightened it, rather than return the blow, and Dardan began to attack on all sides. Amadis barely fought back, for his thoughts were muted by seeing his lady. At this time Dardan began to improve, and Amadis to worsen. The Damsel of Denmark shouted:

"At a bad moment that knight saw someone in this window, because he lost himself and allowed Dardan to recover, who was at the point of death. Surely, a knight ought not to fail in his task at such a time."

Amadis heard this and felt such shame that he wished to die out of fear that his lady might find him cowardly. He charged at Dardan and struck him on the top of his helmet with so mighty a blow that he made him fall to his hands on the earth. Then he took Dardan by the helmet, tugged until he pulled it off his head, and hit him with it so hard that he fell stunned. Then Amadis hit him in the face with the pummel of his sword and said:

"Dardan, thou art dead if thou dost not free that lady of thy challenge."

He said:

"Oh, knight, mercy, do not kill me, I free her!"

Then the King and the knights came to hear him. Amadis, who was ashamed over what had happened, mounted his horse and galloped as fast as he could toward the forest.

Dardan's lover came to where he was injured, and said to him:

"Dardan, from today on do not look at me as a lover, not ye nor any other man in the world, only that fine knight who has just fought this battle."

"What?" Dardan said. "I have been defeated and disgraced for thee, and thou wishest to leave me for the knight who caused thee harm and me dishonor? By God, what a woman thou art, what things thou sayest! I will give thee the reward thy treachery merits."

He put his hand on his sword, which he still had on its belt, and gave her such a blow that her head fell at her feet. Then he realized what he had done and said:

"Oh, miserable me! What did I do? I killed the person whom I most loved in the world. But I will avenge her death."

He took his sword by its point and drove it into himself, and no one could keep him from dying, though they tried.

Since everyone had come to see the fight, it is a wonder that no one went after Amadis to find out who he was. But that death had greatly pleased everyone, because, although Dardan was the most valiant and courageous knight in all Great Britain, his arrogance and bad conduct made him employ his skills to the injury of many, taking things illegally, and holding his strength and the passion of his heart more highly than the justice of the Lord on high, Who with very little of His power can make the very strong defeated and dishonored by the very weak.

No comments:

Post a Comment