Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Chapter 17 [final half]

[How Amadis travels until he learns of a lady in distress, and what he fearlessly decides to do for her.]

[The Dwarf Don Sebastián de Morra, by Diego Velázquez, 1643-44. The Prado Museum, Madrid.]


Amadis continued on the road until he left the forest and entered a wide and beautiful meadow, where he savored the green grass that he saw on all sides, as one who himself was blooming in love's green heights.

He looked to his right and saw a dwarf with a very deformed face on a palfrey, and he called to him to ask asked where he came from. The dwarf responded:

"I come from the house of the Count of Clare."

"By chance," Amadis said, "hast thou seen there a new knight named Galaor?"

"My lord, no," the dwarf said, "but I know where, three days' ride from here, there is probably the best knight that ever entered this earth."

When he heard this, Amadis said:

"Why, dwarf, by the faith that thou owest to God, take me there so I may see him."

"Yes, I shall take you there," the dwarf said, "provided that ye grant me a boon and afterwards go with me where I ask."

Amadis, who had a great desire to meet his brother Galaor, said:

"I give you that boon."

"May our way be in the name of God," the dwarf said. "Now I shall guide you to where ye will see the good knight, very valiant in arms."

Then Amadis said:

"I beg thee by my love to take me by the road that will get us there the fastest."

"I will do that," he said.

Then they left that road, took another, and traveled all day without finding adventure. When night fell, they were next to a fortress.

"My lord," the dwarf said, "ye may lodge here, where there is a lady who will serve you."

Amadis entered the fortress and found the lady, who gave him good lodging, diner, and a fine bed to sleep in, but he hardly slept all night. Instead, he thought only about his lady. The next day, he bid farewell to the lady, and the dwarf guided him again. He traveled until midday, when he saw a knight fighting with two others. When he approached them, he said:

"Stay, my lords, if it please you, and tell me why ye are fighting."

They pulled back, and one of the two said:

"Because this one says that he himself, alone, is so good that he could do as great a deed as both of us together."

"Surely," Amadis said, "that is a petty reason, for one man's courage does not make another man's less."

They saw that he was right and stopped fighting. They asked Amadis if he knew the knight who had fought for the lady at the court of King Lisuarte, in which the good knight Dardan had been killed.

"Why do ye ask?" he said.

"Because we wish to find him," they said.

"I do not know if ye mean that for good or ill," he said, "but I saw him not long ago in the house of King Lisuarte."

Then he left them and went on his way.

The knights spoke among themselves, then spurred their horses to go after Amadis. When he saw them coming, he took his arms, but neither he nor they carried lances, which they had broken in their jousts. The dwarf said:

"What is this, my lord? Do ye not see that those are three knights?"

"I am not worried," he said. "If they do something unreasonable, I will defend myself if I can."

They arrived and said:

"Knight, we wish to ask ye a boon, and give us it. If not, ye shall not leave us."

"I would prefer to give it," he said, "if I can do it rightly."

"Then tell us," said one, "as an honest knight, where do ye think we may find the knight who killed Dardan."

He, who could not do anything other than tell the truth, said:

"I am he, and if I had known that was the boon, I would not have granted it, to avoid boasting."

When the knights heard that, they all said:

"Oh, traitor, ye are dead!"

They put their hands on their swords and came at him bravely. Amadis took his sword as one who had brave heart, and came at them irate because he had ended their fight and now they attacked him so wrongly. He struck one on the top of his helmet with such a blow that it reached the shoulder, and the sword cut the armor, flesh and bone, and drove as far down as the ribs. With his arm hanging loose, the knight fell off his horse.

He came at the two, who were attacking him wildly, and he gave one such a blow on the helmet that he made it fly from his head, and the sword swung onto the back of his neck and cut most of the way through it, and he fell from his horse. The other, when he saw this, began to flee from where he had come. Amadis, who saw that he had a good running horse that had quickly put a lot of distance between them, stopped his pursuit and returned to Gandalin.

The dwarf said:

"Truly, my lord, I am more sure about the boon that ye promised me than I had thought. Now let us go forward."

And so they went that day, and lodged in the house of a hermit, where they had a very simple supper. In the morning, he returned to the road as the dwarf guided him and traveled until the third hour of day, and there the dwarf showed him, in a beautiful valley, two tall pines and a fully armed knight beneath them on a large horse. Two knights chased across the field after their horses, which fled. The knight below the pines had knocked them from their saddles. Another knight lay beneath a different pine, resting his head on his helmet with his shield next to him and more than twenty lances around a pine tree, and near him two horses with saddles.

As he looked at them, Amadis said to the dwarf:

"Dost thou know these knights?"

The dwarf said:

"Do ye see, my lord, the knight lying under the pine?"

"I see him," he said.

"He is the good knight that I wanted to show you," the dwarf said.

"Dost thou know his name?" Amadis said.

"Yes, I do, my lord. He is named Angriote d'Estravaus, and he is the best knight that I could show you in all the lands around here."

"Now tell me why he has so many lances there."

"I shall tell you," the dwarf said. "He loved a lady of these lands and she did not love him, but he fought so hard with her parents that they finally delivered her by force. And when he had her in his power, he said he felt himself the richest man in the world. She told him:

" 'It is not courteous to take a lady by force. Ye may possess me, but ye shall never have my love by my will, unless ye do something first.'

" 'My lady,' Agriote said, 'is it something I can do?'

" 'Yes,' she said.

" 'Then order it, and I shall comply unto death.'

"The lady, who deeply hated him, thought to put him where he would die or create so many enemies that they would defend her from him. She ordered him and his brother to guard this valley of pine trees from all knights-errant who passed through it and make them promise by force of arms that, when they arrived at the court of King Lisuarte, they would swear that the beauty of Angriote's lover was greater than theirs.

"And if by chance this knight, his brother, whom ye see on horseback, were to be defeated and could no longer fight, all the duty would fall on Angriote alone and he would have to guard the valley for one year. During the day, they guard it, and at night they lodge in a castle that lies beyond the little hill ye see. But I tell you that they began this three months ago, and until now Agriote has never had to take arms against a knight, for his brother has defeated them all."

"I believe that thou tellest me the truth," Amadis said, "for I heard in the court of King Lisuarte that there was a knight there who swore that lady was more beautiful than his beloved, and I think her name was Grovenesa."

"That is right," said the dwarf, "and, my lord, I have fulfilled my promise. Now give me that which ye promised me and come with me where ye must."

"Very happily," said Amadis. "What is the shortest road?"

"Through that valley," said the dwarf, "but I do not want to go through there, since it has that problem."

"Do not worry about that," he said.

Then he went forward and, at the entrance to the valley, he met a squire who told him:

"My lord knight, ye may not pass further if ye do not grant that the beloved of the knight lying beneath the pine is more beautiful than yours."

"May God will that I will never grant such a big lie," Amadis said, "and neither can they make me say it by force or at the cost of my life."

When the squire heard this, he said:

"Then turn back. If not, ye must fight with them."

Amadis said:

"If they attack me, I will defend myself if I can."

And he continued forward without fear.

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