Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Chapter 17 [first half]

How Amadis was well loved in the court of King Lisuarte, and of the news that he learned about his brother Galaor.

[Illustration of backgammon (tables), from The Book of Chess, Dice, and Tables, created between 1251 and 1283 by commission of Alfonso X the Wise, King of Castile, León, and Galicia, Spain.]


It has been told to you how Amadis remained in the court of King Lisuarte as a knight of the Queen after he killed the arrogant and valiant Dardan in a battle. He was well loved and honored by the King and by all others there.

One day the Queen sent for him to speak with her, and while he was before her, a damsel entered a gate of the palace, knelt in front of the Queen, and said:

"My lady, is there a knight here who bears arms with an insignia of lions?"

She understood immediately that she asked about Amadis, and she said:

"Damsel, what do ye wish of him?"

"My lady," she said, "I bring him a message from a new knight who has made the greatest and most noble beginning of chivalry ever done by any knight in all the isles."

"Ye say much," the Queen said, "for there are many knights in the isles and ye do not know what they have all done."

"My lady," she said, "that is true, but when ye know what he did, ye shall agree with me."

"Then I beg you to tell me," the Queen said.

"If I could see that good knight whom he esteems more than all others," she said, "I would tell him this and many other things I was sent to say."

The Queen, who wished to hear this, said:

"Ye see here the good knight whom ye ask for, and I tell ye that truly it is him."

"My lady," the damsel said, "I believe it, for a such a good lady as yourself would say nothing but the truth."

Then she said to Amadis:

"My lord, my message is from the handsome young nobleman whom ye made a knight at Baldoid Castle when ye defeated two knights on the bridge and three on the causeway, took the lord of the castle prisoner and by force of arms rescued the lover of Urganda from inside it. This nobleman sends you his commendations as he who holds you as his lord. He sent me to tell you that he shall strive to be a good man or he shall pay with his death. He will tell you of your estate more than ye know, and if he does not merit your esteem, he shall be silent."

This made Amadis remember his brother, and tears came to his eyes, which the ladies and damsels there wondered about, his lady most of all, who was shocked, thinking that if the damsel could cause such great concern that it made him weep, and not in pain, then she must have brought him great pleasure.

The Queen said:

"Now tell us of the beginning of his knighthood that ye praised so much."

"My lady," said the damsel, "the first place where he showed himself was at the Rock of Galtares, doing battle with the brave and strong giant named Abadan. Fighting one-on-one, he defeated and killed the giant."

Then she recounted the battle the way she saw it happen and the reason why it was fought. The Queen and everyone else was very amazed by such an extraordinary deed.

"Damsel," Amadis said, "do ye know where the knight went after he killed the giant?"

"My lord," she said, "I departed after he won the battle and left him with another damsel who was to guide him to her lady, who had sent her there. I can tell you nothing more." And she left them.

The Queen said:

"Amadis, do ye know who that knight might be?"

"My lady, I know, though I do not know him." Then he said that it was his brother, whom a giant had taken away when he was a child, and recounted what Urganda had said about him.

"Truly," said the Queen, "your childhood and his are two strange wonders. How could it be that your family did not know of you? It would give me great pleasure to see such a knight in the company of my lord the King."

So they spent some time talking, as ye hear, but Oriana, who was too far away to listen to any of it, was very angry because she had seen Amadis weep. She said to Mabilia:

"Call your cousin, and we will find out what happened."

She called him, and Amadis went to them, and when he saw his lady before him, he forgot everything else in the world. Oriana, with an angry and disturbed look, said:

"Whom were ye remembering with the news from the damsel, which made ye weep?"

He told her everything as it was told to the Queen. Oriana lost all her ire and became very happy, and told him:

"My lord, I beg you to forgive me, for I suspected something I should not have."

"Oh, my lady," he said, "there is nothing to forgive, for my heart could never be angry with you." Then he said, "My lady, may it please you for me to go and look for my brother and bring him here in your service, for he will not come any other way."

Amadis said this so he could find him, whom he loved deeply, and because he feared he would spend too much time resting at the palace without looking for adventures where he could earn fame and honor.

Oriana told him:

"May God help me, I would be very happy if that knight were to come here and live with us. I grant you permission to go, but speak to the Queen so it may seem that ye go by her orders."

He thanked her very humbly and went to the Queen and said:

"My lady, it would be good if we were to have that knight in the company of the King."

"That is true," she said. "I would be happy if it could be done."

"Yes, it can," he said, "if ye give me permission to look for him and bring him back, my lady, for there is no other way to have him here without much time passing during which he will have earned more honor."

"In the name of God," she said, "I give you leave, provided that when ye find him, ye shall return."

Amadis was very happy, and bid farewell to her and his lady and the other women, and went to his lodging. The next morning, after he heard Mass, he armed himself, mounted his horse, and took to the road with only Gandalin and the arms that he brought. He rode until night, and lodged in the house of an elderly prince.

The next day, he continued on the road, entered a forest, and after traveling for six hours, he saw a lady coming with two damsels and four squires, who carried a knight in a litter. They were all weeping loudly.

Amadis approached her and said:

"My lady, whom do ye carry in that litter?"

"I carry all my care and woe," she said. "It is the knight to whom I am wed, and he is so badly hurt that I fear he shall die."

He went to the litter and lifted a sheet that covered it, and saw within a quite big and well-built knight, but he looked not at all handsome, for his face with black and swollen and in many places wounded.

Amadis put his hand on him and said:

"My lord knight, from whom did you receive these injuries?"

He did not respond and moved his head a little. Amadis said to the lady:

"From whom did this knight receive such injuries?"

"My lord," she said, "from a knight who guards a bridge ahead here on this road, which we wished to pass over. He said that my lord would first have to say if he came from the court of King Lisuarte, and my lord asked why he wanted to know. The knight said:

" 'Because none from his court shall pass here whom I will not kill.'

"And my lord asked why he hated King Lisuarte's knights so much.

" 'I hate them because I want to have him in my power to avenge myself.'

"My husband asked why he hated him so much. He said:

" 'Because he has in his court a knight who killed the famous and brave Dardan, and for that, he will receive dishonor from myself and from many other knights.'

"And when my husband heard this, the words of the knight weighed on him, and he said:

" 'Know that I am King Lisuarte's and his vassal, and I will not deny it to you nor to anyone.'

"Then the knight on the bridge, with great wrath, took up his arms as quickly as he could and they began to fight, very brutally and savagely, and at the end, my husband was badly injured, as ye see him now, my lord. The knight thought he was dead and ordered us to take him to King Lisuarte the following day."

Amadis said:

"My lady, give me one of his squires to take me to the knight, since he suffered this harm out of love of me, and it behooves me more than any other to avenge him."

"Why," she said, "are ye the one for whom he hates King Lisuarte?"

"I am he," he said, "and if I can, I will end his hatred for him and for all others."

"Oh, good knight," she said, "God guide you well and give you strength!"

She gave him a squire to go with him, and said goodbye. The lady continued on her way as before, and Amadis on his, and he rode until he reached the bridge. He saw that the knight was playing backgammon with another knight, but promptly left the game, came at him fully armed on a horseback, and said:

"Stay, knight. Ye shall not cross the bridge if ye do not first swear."

"And what shall I swear?" Amadis said.

"Whether ye are from the court of King Lisuarte. And if ye are, I shall make you lose your head."

"I do not know about that," Amadis said, "but I tell you that I am from his court and a knight of the Queen, his wife, although not for long."

"How long has it been?" said the knight on the bridge.

"Since a lady came there with a challenge."

"What!" the knight said. "Are ye the one who fought for her?"

"I let her keep what was rightfully hers," Amadis said.

"By my head," said the knight, "I will make you pay with your head if I can, for ye killed one of the best men in my family."

"I did not kill him," Amadis said. "I made him release the arrogant claim that he had made, and he killed himself in a sinful, faithless act."

"That makes no difference," the knight said, "for he was killed by you and no one else, and ye shall die for it."

Then he came at him as fast as his horse could gallop, and Amadis at him. Both their lances hit each others' shields and immediately broke, but the knight of the bridge went to the ground without being able to detain his fall, and he was amazed by how easily he had been thrown down.

Amadis's helmet had been knocked askew, and while he was straightening it, the knight had time to remount his horse and give him three blows with his sword before Amadis could put his hand on his. But once he did, he came at the knight and struck the edge of his helmet in the back and cut a piece of it off, and the sword reached his neck and cut it so deeply that his head could not support itself and fell, hanging over his chest, and he died immediately.

When the others on the bridge saw this, they fled. The lady's squire was amazed by the two blows, one with the lance and the other with the sword.

Amadis told him:

"Go now and tell thy lady what thou has seen."

When he heard this, he quickly went on his way, and Amadis crossed the bridge with nothing to prevent him.

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