Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Chapter 14 [final half]

[Love involves battles, just like war, and Amadis, the best and bravest knight in the world, must draw on his courage to speak to Oriana and beg for his life.]

[Window in the Casa de los Picos, built in the 15th century by Pedro López de Ayala, Count of Fuensalida, in Segovia, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Gandalin left Mabilia with the message to carry to his lord, who was waiting, expecting life or death according to the news he brought. At that time, without doubt he was so troubled that his strength could suffer no more. The great relief in being so close to his lady had turned into a deep desire to see her, a desire so troubled and anguished that he was at the point of passing away. When he saw Gandalin coming, he went to him and said:

"My friend Gandalin, what news doth thou bring?"

"Good news, my lord," he said.

"Didst thou see the Damsel of Denmark?"

"Yes, I did."

"And did she know what to do?"

"My lord," he said, "I bring better news than ye think."

Amadis trembled with pleasure and said:

"By God, tell me right away."

Gandalin told him everything that had happened with his lady, and what they had said to each other, and what his cousin Mabilia had said, and how they had arranged a meeting, so that nothing remained that he had not told. Ye can already imagine the great joy that this gave to Amadis, and he said to Gandalin:

"My true friend, thou wert more wise and daring on my behalf than I would have been, and this is no surprise, for thy father has both in abundance. Now tell me if thou knowest well the place where she has ordered me to go."

"Yes, my lord," he said, "for Oriana showed me."

"Oh, God!" Amadis said. "How shall I repay this lady for the great mercy that she has granted me? I do not know why I complain of my troubles."

Gandalin gave him the ring and said:

"Take this ring that your lady sent you because it is the one that she likes most."

He took it as tears came to his eyes, and kissing it, he put it immediately over his heart and for a while was unable to speak, but he put it on his finger and said:

"Oh, ring, thou wert just on the hand worth more than any other in the world!"

"My lord," Gandalin said, "go to the damsels and be happy, because this worry will destroy you and could cause much harm to your love affair."

He did so, and at dinner spoke more and with greater pleasure than usual, which made the damsels very happy, for he was the most gracious and pleasant knight in the world when his thoughts and troubles did not afflict him. When it was time to sleep, they went to their tents as usual, but when the hour came, Amadis got up and found that Gandalin already had the horses saddled and his arms ready. He armed himself, since he did not know what might happen, and they rode to the town.

They arrived at a grove a trees near the garden that Gandalin had seen that day. They dismounted and left their horses there, went on foot, and entered the garden through a small opening that the rain had made. When they arrived at the window, Gandalin called out softly. Oriana, who had made sure not to sleep, heard him. She got up, called Mabilia, and said:

"I think your cousin is here."

"It is my cousin," she said, "but ye have more interest in him than all his family."

Then they both went to the window and lit candles that gave off bright light, and they opened it. Amadis saw his lady by the light of the candles, and she seemed so attractive that no one would believe that so much beauty could be united in any woman in the world. She wore Indian silk worked with dense golden flowers. Her hair was loose and wonderfully beautiful, covered by nothing but a rich garland.

When Amadis saw her, he trembled all over with pleasure, and his heart jumped so high it could not be still. When Oriana saw him, she came to the window and said:

"My lord, you are very welcome in this land, where many of us have wanted to see you and have had great pleasure to hear of your good fortune both in arms and in learning about your mother and father."

Amadis, when he heard this, although he had been struck speechless, strove more than he had before in any other battle and said:

"My lady, if my discretion is not equal to the task of repaying the kindness of what ye said and did by sending the Damsel of Denmark, do not be surprised, because my heart is confused and a prisoner of overpowering love. It does not give me free will in speech. Thus I can subdue all things with sweet thoughts of you, but in your sight I am subdued, and none of my senses remain under my free will. If I, my lady, were so worthy, or if my service deserved it, I would ask you now to pity this much-troubled heart before it is undone by tears. I ask this pity, my lady, not for my relief, because upon nearing the things that are most truly loved, much more the desire and afliction grows and increases, but because, if it were to reach its end, it would kill he who thinks of nothing other than to serve you."

"My lord," Oriana said, "all that you say I believe without doubt, because what my heart feels shows it to be true, but I tell you that it does not seem prudent to me that ye suffer as much as Gandalin told me. It can benefit nothing and may cause our love to be discovered, which could do us great harm, and if the life of one were to end, the other could not withstand it. Because of that and by the dominion that I have over you, I order you to temper your life and thus to temper mine, which thinks of nothing other than how your desires may find relief."

"My lady," he said, "I shall do all that ye command, except that for which my strength will not be sufficient."

"And what is that?" she said.

"The thought," he said, "that my sanity cannot resist those mortal desires by which it is so cruelly tormented."

"I do not ask ye to set aside everything," she said, "but rather that ye act in such a way ye are not vexed before good men, because by destroying your life, ye already know what ye shall reap, as I have said. And, my lord, I tell you to remain with my father if he asks you, for the things that ye do ye shall do for me. From here forward speak to me without shame and tell me the things that would make you most happy, and I shall do all that I possibly can."

"My lady," he said, "I am yours and I came at your orders. I will do nothing other than that which you command."

Mabilia arrived and said:

"My lady, let me speak a bit with this knight."

"Come," Oriana said, "for I wish to see him while you speak with him."

Then Mabilia said:

"My lord and cousin, you are very welcome, for ye have given us much joy."

"My lady and cousin," he said, "ye are well met, and while I was obliged to cherish and love ye elsewhere, even more so am I here. Have mercy on me for my debt to you."

She said:

"In your service I shall place my life and my service, but I well know from what this lady has told me, they might not be needed."

Gandalin, who saw that morning was approaching, said:

"My lord, however much it may not please ye, the day shall come soon, and it obliges us to leave here."

Oriana said:

"My lord, go now, and do as I said."

Amadis took her hands, which she had placed through the bars on the window to wipe the tears that streamed down his face, and he kissed them many times, then left the damsels.

They rode on their horses and arrived before dawn broke at the tents, where he disarmed himself and went to his bed without anyone hearing. The damsels got up, and one remained to provide company to Amadis and the other went to the town. Know ye that they were sisters and first cousins to the lady for whom Amadis had fought.

Amadis slept until the sun had risen, and when he got up, he called for Gandalin and told him to go to the town as his lady and Mabilia had ordered. Gandalin left and Amadis remained talking with the damsel, but soon he saw the other one coming back from the town, weeping hard, and riding as fast as her palfrey could go.

Amadis said:

"What is this, my good friend? Who made ye sad? May God help me, that person shall be taught a good lesson, if my body can deliver this."

"My lord," she said, "ye alone can solve it."

"Tell me now," he said, "and if I do not make it right, never again ride in the company of a strange knight."

When she heard this, the damsel said:

"My lord, our cousin, the lady for whom ye fought, is a prisoner. The King ordered her to make the knight who fought for her come forward. If not, she may not leave the town by any means. And ye know well that she cannot make it happen because she knows nothing about you. The King has ordered you to be sought everywhere and is very angry with her, believing that she knows where ye are hidden."

"I would prefer there were another way," he said, "because I am not well enough renowed to make myself known to such an distinguished man. I tell you that although everyone in his court were to find me, I would not take one step towards it even by force. But I cannot be here and not do what ye wish, for I love and value you both."

The damsels knelt before him and thanked him deeply.

"Now one of you should go to the lady," he said, "and tell her to make an agreement with the King to ask nothing from the knight against his will, and I shall be there tomorrow at the third hour of the day."

The damsel returned immediately and told the lady, which made her very happy, and she went before the King and said:

"My lord, if ye grant that ye shall not ask the knight to do anything against his will, he shall be here tomorrow at the third hour of the day. And if not, not even I can make him known to you, for God help me, I do not know who he is nor why he wished to fight for me."

The King granted her request, for he greatly desired to know who the knight was. With that, the lady left. The news was heard throughout the palace and the town: "The good knight who won the battle will be here tomorrow." And everyone was very happy because they had despised Dardan for his arrogance and bad behavior.

The damsel returned to Amadis and told him that an agreement had been made with the King as the lady had asked.

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