Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Chapter 21 [first third]

How Sir Galaor arrived badly injured at a convent and spent two weeks there, at the end of which he was well, and what happened to him after that.

[Fuente de Salud, "Spring of Health," near Enmedio Bridge in Roman road Via XXIV, which goes up Fuenfría Valley in the Guadarrama Mountains near Madrid, Spain. The road served as a major transportation route until 1788, when a more direct mountain pass between Madrid and Segovia was opened. These days, it's a popular hiking trail and part of the Madrid branch of the Camino de Santiago. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Sir Galaor spent two weeks recovering at the convent, brought there by the damsel he had rescued from imprisonment, and at the end of that time he felt well enough to take up arms. He left and rode where adventure guided him, for his will was no more to go one way than another.

At midday he found himself in a valley where there was a spring, and he saw an armed knight next to it who had no horse or other beast of burden, which was odd.

Galaor said:

"My lord knight, how did ye get here on foot?"

The knight at the spring responded:

"My lord, I was going through this forest to my castle, and I met some men who killed my horse, and I had to come back here on foot and I am very tired, but I must go back to the castle, for they do not know what has happened to me."

"Do not go back walking," Sir Galaor said. "Ye shall ride on my squire's palfrey."

"Many thanks," he said, "but before we go I want you to know the great virtue of this spring. No poison in the world is so strong that this water cannot cure it. Often poisoned wild animals come here to drink and are immediately relieved, and all the people of this region come here to cure their illnesses."

"Truly," Sir Galor said, "what ye say is amazing. I want to drink that water."

"And who would not want to?" said the knight at the spring. "Anywhere else, ye would need to search for such a spring."

Then Galaor dismounted and said to his squire:

"Get down and let us drink."

The squire dismounted and leaned Galaor's arms against a tree. The knight at the spring said:

"Go and drink. I will hold your horse."

Galaor went to the spring to drink, and while they drank, the other knight put on Galaor's helmet, picked up his shield and lance, and mounted his horse. He said:

"Lowly knight, I am going. Wait here until ye can fool someone else."

Galaor, who was drinking, turned and saw the knight leaving. He said:

"Truly, knight, not only have ye tricked me, ye have been greatly dishonest, and I shall prove it to you if ye wait."

"That will have to wait until ye find another horse and other arms with which to fight," said the knight. And spurring his horse, he went on his way.

Galaor was left greatly enraged, and after he had thought for a while, he rode on the palfrey that had carried his armor and went in the same direction that the knight had gone. When he came to a fork in the road, he stood there for a time wondering which way to go. He saw a damsel trotting down one of the roads on a palfrey, and he waited for her to approach.

When she arrived, he said:

"Damsel, by chance did ye see a knight who rode on a bay horse and who carried a white shield with a vermilion flower on it?"

"What do ye want from him?" the damsel said.

Galaor responded:

"Those arms and that horse are mine, and I want to get them back if I can, for he took them from me vilely."

"How did he take them?" the damsel said.

He told her everything that had happened.

"Then, what would ye do, being disarmed?" she said. "I doubt he took them from you in order to give them back."

"I only want to meet him," Galaor said.

"Well, if ye grant me a boon," she said, "I will take you to him."

Galaor, who wanted to talk to the knight very much, agreed.

"Now follow me," she said.

And turning back toward where she had come from, she rode down the road with Galaor behind her, but the damsel got far ahead, for the palfrey that Galaor rode on was not fast because it carried him and his squire. They went fully three leagues without seeing her, and after they had passed a thick grove of trees, he saw the damsel coming back toward him, and Galaor approached her.

But the damsel rode as a trick, for the other knight was her lover and she had gone to tell him that she was bringing Galaor there so he could take the rest of his arms. Thus prepared, the knight hid in a tent and told the damsel to bring Galaor there, so that he could kill him or dishonor him without danger.

So, as ye hear, Galaor and the damsel arrived at the tent, and the damsel said:

"Here is the knight that ye seek."

Galaor dismounted and went to the tent, but the other knight, who was in the doorway, said:

"Ye do not get a welcome here, for ye must give me the rest of your arms or ye are dead."

"Truly," Sir Galaor said, "from such a dishonest knight as you I fear nothing."

The knight raised his sword to attack, but Galaor dodged the blow, being so agile and strong that he had the skill for it. The knight missed and his sword met only air. Galaor struck him on top of his helmet with such a blow that he sank to the earth on his knees. Galaor took him by the helmet and tugged hard enough to pull it off his head and make him fall down. The knight called to his lover to help him, and when she heard it, she ran as fast as she could to the tent.

She shouted:

"Stay, knight! This is the boon that I asked for."

But Galaor, infuriated, had already injured him such that no doctor could have saved him. When the damsel saw him dead, she said:

"Oh, wretch, I came too late, and thinking cheat someone else, I was cheated!"

Then she said to Galaor:

"Oh, knight, may thou die a bad death. Thou hast killed the person I most loved in the world! But thou shalt die for him, for the boon thou hast promised me I shall demand somewhere where thou cannot escape death for all the strength that thou hast. And if thou dost not give me it, I shall tell everyone everywhere of thy failure."

Galaor replied:

"If I had realized it would sadden you so, I would not have killed him, although he deserved it. Ye ought to have come to his aid sooner."

"I was mistaken," she said, "and I shall remedy it, for I shall make thee give thy life for his."

Galaor mounted his horse, and the squire took his arms, and they left. But after they had only gone a league, he turned and saw the damsel coming behind him, and when she reached him, he said:

"My lady damsel, where do ye wish to go?"

"With you," she said, "until we come to where ye shall give me the boon that ye have promised me and I shall make ye die a bad death."

"It would be better," Sir Galaor said, "to take some other remedy from me, any other that ye wish, rather than the one that ye speak of."

"There is no other remedy but to give your soul for his," she said, "or to be a traitor and a liar."

So Galaor went on his way and the damsel with him, and she never stopped insulting him. After three days, they entered a forest named Angaduza.

Here the author ceases to speak of this, to return to it in its proper place, and turns to Amadis.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

The estrado: We aren't in Windsor Castle anymore

For centuries, Spanish women retained a Moorish custom that surprised foreign visitors.

[The estrado in the Museo Casa de Cervantes in Valladolid, where he lived between 1604 and 1606. The first edition of Don Quixote was published in 1605.]


In Chapter 20, Oriana was in her chamber when she learned that Amadis had been killed, and she collapsed. Mabilia "turned and saw Oriana lying on the estrado as if she were dead..."

What's an estrado? In Tesoro de la lengua castellana o española, published in 1611, Sebastían de Covarrubias defined it as: "The place were ladies sit on cushions and receive vistors."

There's a little more to it than that. Properly speaking, the estrado was a raised wooden platform in a corner of the room, but its name became synonymous with that room, which was used for receiving visitors and was usually the most richly decorated room of the house. A wealthy woman might also have an estrado in her personal chambers.

The raised dias offered protection against cold, damp floors. It would be covered with a rug or mat. Tapestries and draperies on the walls would also help keep out the cold. The furnishings, such as tables and desks, were low because the women sat on cushions, pillows, or low stools.

There they would sit and spin, sew, embroider, read, write, play music, receive visitors and chat with them there. Female visitors would join them on the estrado, but males would sit next to it on chairs. (Cervantes, little respectful of customs, described the estrado as a good place to take a siesta.)

The estrado, a custom inherited from the Moors, endured in Spain until almost 1700.

Amadis of Gaul takes place in far-off exotic locales -- exotic to 14th-century Spanish audiences -- in this case, in far-off exotic Windsor, which is written "Vindilisora" in the original Spanish text. The author knew about Britain only second- or third-hand at best, and so the details, including the names of places as well as their furnishings, are sometimes imprecise.

Every now and then a detail pops up that reminds us that this fantasyland was made in Spain.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Chapter 20

How Arcalaus brought the news to the court of King Lisuarte that Amadis was dead, and how everyone wept for him, especially Oriana.

[Detail from "Christ on the Cross" by Jean de Beaumetz, painted between 1390-1395. It formerly hung in a cell at the Carthusian monastery in Champmol, France, and now is in the Cleveland Museum of Art. From the Web Gallery of Art, a database and virtual museum.]

After Arcalaus left Amadis enchanted, he traveled so fast on Amadis's horse, wearing his armor, that in only ten days he arrived at sunrise at the court of King Lisuarte. At that moment King Lisuarte was riding with a large retinue from his palace toward the forest, and he saw Arcalaus coming toward him.

They recognized his horse and armor, and everyone thought he was Amadis. The King was very happy, but as he drew near, he saw that he was not whom he thought, for Arcalaus had left his face and hands uncovered. They were shocked.

Arcalaus came before the King and said:

"My lord, I come to you because I promised to appear here to tell how I killed a knight in battle. Certainly, I come in shame because I would prefer to be praised by others and not by myself. But I cannot do otherwise because the agreement between him and me was that the winner would cut off the head of the loser and would present himself to you on this day. It saddened me greatly that he said he was the knight of the Queen. I said that if he killed me, that he killed Arcalaus, for that is my name. He said that his name was Amadis of Gaul. And thus, he received death, and I took honor and the fame from the battle."

"Oh, holy Mary, help me!" the King said. "The best and bravest knight in the world is dead. Oh, my lord God, why did it please you to have that knight be so promising?"

Then he began to weep dreadfully, as did everyone with him. Arcalaus turned back toward where he had come from, irate, because everyone who saw him cursed him and prayed to God, begging Him to deliver a cruel death to Arcalaus, which they themselves would have done except that, from what he had said, they had no right to kill him.

The King left for his palace deep in thought and extraordinarily sad. The news was heard everywhere until it reached the chambers of the Queen. When the damsels heard that Amadis was dead, they began to weep, for he was well loved and cherished by them all. Oriana, who was in her room, sent the Damsel of Denmark to learn what had caused the grieving. She left, and when she found out, she returned, striking her face with her palms and weeping loudly, looked at Oriana, and said:

"Oh, my lady, what anguish and what sorrow!"

Oriana trembled and said:

"Oh, holy Mary, Amadis is dead!"

The Damsel said:

"Oh, woe to him, he is dead!"

Oriana's heart failed her, and she fell to the floor in a dead faint. The Damsel saw it, stopped weeping, and went to Mabilia, who was grieving and tearing out her hair. She said:

"My lady Mabilia, help my lady, or she will die."

Mabilia turned and saw Oriana lying on the ladies' dais as if she were dead, and although her own sorrow could not have been greater, she tried to help her as best she could. She ordered the Damsel to close the door so that no one would see her thus. She took Oriana in her arms and had the Damsel splash cold water on her face. Immediately, she came to a little, and when she could speak, she said, weeping:

"Oh, my friends, by God, do not delay my death if ye wish me to rest. Do not make me so unfaithful that I would live a single hour without him, for with the love he has for me, he would not live a single hour after my death."

Then she said:

"Oh, highest model of all knighthood, how grave and unnatural your death is to me. Not only myself but everyone in the world will suffer for it, for they have lost their great leader and captain both in arms and in all other virtues, whom they could take as a living example! But the only comfort it may give my sad heart is that, if he could not survive that cruel injury, he has left my heart and gone to Yours. Our hearts will lie in the cold earth, where the passion of our love, nurtured so tenderly in them, will be undone and consumed. In this life, burning with love, they were apart, but that love will be better sustained in the next life, where they will be together, if Ye shall grant this to them."

Then she fainted, and they both feared she was dead. Her beautiful tresses lay around her on the ground, and her hands lay over her heart, where furious death was overcoming her as she suffered in the extremes of cruel sadness, for she had lost the pleasures and delights that their love had given her. Thus it happens in all cases of such deep love.

Mabilia, who truly thought she was dead, said:

"Oh, my lord God! May it not please Thee to let me live any longer, for the two people whom I loved most in the world are dead!"

The Damsel told her:

"By God, my lady, do not lose your good sense in this moment, and help her, for she can be saved."

Mabilia, gathering her strength, got up, and they took Oriana and placed her on her bed. Oriana sighed and swung her arms from side to side as if her soul was being torn from her. When Mabilia saw this, she got some water again and threw it on her face and chest. Oriana opened her eyes and came to a little more.

Mabilia told her:

"Oh, my lady, how unwise ye are to let yourself die over the unconfirmed news that that knight brought. Ye do not know if it is true. He might have won those arms and horse from your beloved, or perhaps he got them by stealing them. He might not have gotten them the way he said, for God did not make your beloved so helpless that he could be so easily taken from this world. If your grief becomes known, ye shall be lost to each other forever."

Oriana sat up a bit and looked at the window where, in the springtime, Amadis had come and they had spoken. She said with a weak voice, as one who had lost her strength:

"Oh, window, how fondly I recall that beautiful conversation that we had at thee. I know well that thou shalt never see the day when others speak through thee so truthfully and honestly!"

Furthermore, she said:

"Oh, my beloved, paragon of all knights, how many have lost their aid and defender with your death! What sorrow and pain it will be to them, but mine will be much greater and more bitter, as she who meant the most to you! All my joy and happiness was in you, so losing you has turned instead into grave and unsufferable torment. My spirit will weaken until death comes to me, which I desire, for that will be when my soul is united with you in greater respite than I have had in my troubled life."

Mabilia, her face angry, said:

"My lady, how can ye think that if I believed this news, I could have the strength to console anyone? The love I have for my cousin is not small nor fickle. But ye can believe, may God save me, that neither ye nor anyone else in this world who loves him well could not show or suffer more sorrow than I at his death. What ye are doing will accomplish nothing and could cause great harm, for with, very soon that which ye have kept secret will be discovered."

Oriana responded:

"I have little worry about this, for now, sooner or later, it will be obvious to all, and although I had tied to hide it, I have no more desire to live, so I fear no danger that may come."

They continued like this, as ye have heard, all that day. The Damsel of Denmark told everyone that Oriana did not dare leave Mabilia because she might kill herself, so great was her sorrow. As night came, they grew more tired. Oriana fainted so many times that they thought she would not last until dawn, such was the grief and sorrow in her heart.

The next day, at the time when the dinner tables were being set for the King, Brandoivas entered the gate of the palace, leading Grindalaya by the hand, for she had great affection for him. Those who knew him were very pleased to see him, for a long time had passed without news about him.

They both knelt before the king. The King, who had great esteem for him, said:

"Brandoivas, ye are very welcome. Why did ye tarry so, when we love ye so much?"

He responded:

"My lord, I was put into a great prison from which there was no way to escape except by the courtesy of the honorable knight Amadis of Gaul. He rescued me and this lady and many others from it by doing feats at arms that none other could have done. He would have died in the worst deception ever seen, the work of the traitorous Arcalaus. But he was saved by two damsels who must hold more than a little love for him."

When the King heard this, he rose to his feet and said:

"My friend, by the faith ye owe to God and to me, tell me that Amadis is alive!"

"By this faith that ye speak of, my lord, I say that it is true. I left him alive and well not more than ten days ago. But why do ye ask?"

"Because yesterday Arcalaus came to us to say that he had killed him," the King said. He recounted Arcalaus's story.

"Oh, holy Mary!" Brandoivas said. "What a vile traitor! Things are worse for him than he thought."

Then he told the King what had happened to them with Arcalaus, leaving out nothing, as ye have already heard. When they heard it, the King and everyone in his court could not have been more happy, and he ordered Grindalaya be taken to the Queen to tell her the news about her knight.

She was received by the Queen and all the other ladies with much love and great joy for the good news that she told them. The Damsel of Denmark, when she heard it, went as fast as she could to tell it to her lady, who was wavering between life and death. She ordered the Damsel to go to the Queen and have her send them the lady because Mabilia wanted to talk to her. She did so immediately.

Grindalaya went to Oriana's chamber and told them the all good news that she carried. They did her many honors and did not want her to eat anywhere other than at their table so they could learn more about that which had put great joy in their hearts, which had been so sad. But when Grindalaya told them about how Amadis had entered the jail, and how he had killed the jailers, and how he had taken her from where she had suffered so, and the battle that he had with Arcalaus, and everything else that had happened, she moved her friends to great mercy.

Thus, as ye hear, their dinner turned their great sadness into joy.

Grindalaya left them and returned to the Queen, and found there King Arban of North Wales, who loved her dearly and had come to look for her, knowing that she had gone there. The great pleasure that they both had to see each other could not be told to you. They agreed between them that she should stay with the Queen, for she would not receive such honors in any other court.

Arban of North Wales told the Queen that the lady was the daughter of King Adroid of Serelois, and that all the suffering she had endured was due to him. He begged her out of kindness to keep Grindalaya with her, for she wanted to serve her.

When the Queen heard this, she was very pleased to receive her in her company, both for the good news that she brought about Amadis, and for being high born. Taking her by the hand, as the daughter of a king, she had her sit and asked pardon for not having given her proper honors because she had not known who she was.

The Queen also learned that Grindalaya had a sister, a very beautiful damsel named Aldeva, who had been raised in the house of the Duke of Bristol. The Queen ordered her to be brought immediately so that she could live in her court because Grindalaya wanted to see her very much. This Aldeva was the lover of Sir Galaor, she for whom he had suffered so many troubles from the dwarf, as ye have heard tell.

And so, as ye hear, King Lisuarte and all his court were very happy and wished to see Amadis. The bad news they had been told about him had given them a great shock.

The story ceases to speak of them, and will tell about Sir Galaor, for it has been a long time since it has spoken of him or given thought to him.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

First published in 1508?

Literary detectives suspect that an earlier, lost edition of Amadís de Gaula existed.

[The Golden Tower of Seville, part of the city defenses constructed in 1220 by the Moors. A twin tower stood at the other side of the Guadalquivir River, and thick chain between them controlled ship traffic for the port. Trade with the New World made Seville one of the richest cities of Europe. Photo by Sue Burke.]


The earliest surviving copy of Amadís de Gaula was printed in 1508 in Zaragoza. (Here's my commentary on that handsome tome.) But it might not be the first time Amadís appeared in print.

Juan Manuel Cacho Blueca, one of Spain's top Amadis scholars, believes that Garci Rodríguez de Montalvo may have started rewriting medieval manuscripts of Amadís before 1492, the year the war of Reconquest ended in Granada, and probably finished it and the sequel about Amadis's son, Sergas de Espandian (Exploits of Espandian), between 1495 to 1497. He believes that because comments in Sergas seem to relate to events during those years in the real world.

Other scholars date the completion even earlier, although the prologue for Books I, II, and III in the novel could only have been written between the end of the war and the death of Queen Isabel I in 1504 due to specific references its content. Likewise, Book IV and Sergas, which Rodríguez de Montalvo composed himself instead of rewriting existing works, must have been finished before the prologue was written, too. He probably died before 1505; we don't know much about his life.

In any case, in the late 1400s, novels of chivalry were an established popular genre. The printing press had spread fast throughout Europe. Some German printers brought their mastery of that new technology to Spain, at the time a leading world power, in search of steady work. This is why Spain's earliest printers include names like Cromberger and Hagembach.

Specifically, Meinardo Ungut and Stanilao Polono seem to be the most likely suspects to have printed Amadís de Gaula in Seville in 1496 or later, when they had a shop in that city, which at the time was a bustling seaport. In those days, a book was composed either from a manuscript or from an existing book. Small but consistent differences in spelling and grammar show that some of the editions of Amadís in the early 1500s were composed using a different version from the 1508 one — apparently the missing 1496-or-later edition.

A book published before 1501 is called an "incunabulum," from the Latin word for "swaddling clothes" or "cradle." Few of these tender infant tomes have survived. Many other books besides Amadís have lost first editions, and in fact editions of Amadís printed in Seville in 1511 and Toledo in 1524 have no surviving copies.

In the end, history gives us frustratingly few facts and precious few artifacts — and plenty of speculation and controversy. Rodríguez de Montalvo's version of Amadís de Gaula probably wasn't first published in 1508. But no one sure.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Chapter 19

How Amadis was entranced by Arcalaus the Sorcerer because he tried to unchain the lady Grindalaya and others and take them from prison, and how he escaped the spells that Arcalaus had placed on him.

[Beneath the House of the Moorish King in Ronda, Spain, a gallery with 365 steps cut into stone leads down to the gorge of the Guadalevín River. This "Water Mine" was built in the 1300s by King Abomelik, and it included guard rooms, weapons rooms, dungeons, and an ossuary for the corpses of the slaves who died carrying water up to the city. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]


Grindalaya, which was the name of the imprisoned lady, grieved deeply over Amadis, and it was sorrowful to hear. She said to Arcalaus's wife and to the other ladies who were with her:

"Oh, my ladies! Do ye not see how handsome the knight is and how young? He was one of the best knights in the world. Cursed be those who know enchantments, for they can do so much evil and harm to good people. Oh, my God, what suffering Thou hast willed!"

As much as Arcalaus was given to cruelty and evil, his wife was given to virtue and pity, and what her husband had done weighed heavily on her heart. In her prayers, she always begged God to mend his ways. She consoled the Grindalaya as best she could.

As they stood there, two damsels entered by the palace gate. They carried many lit candles in their hands, and they placed them in the corners of the chamber where Amadis lay. The ladies there could not speak nor move from where they stood.

One of the damsels took a book from a small box that she carried under her arm. She began to read it aloud. Sometimes, a voice responded. She continued reading, and finally many voices — it seemed like a hundred — responded together within the chamber.

Then a book appeared from the floor, rolling as if the wind blew it, and stopped at the feet of the damsel. She took it and ripped it into four parts. She burned each in the corners of the chamber where the candles blazed.

Then she returned to Amadis, took him by the right hand, and told him:

"My lord, arise, for ye have lain troubled for too long."

Amadis got up and said:

"Holy Mary! What was this? What happened? I almost died."

"Truly, my lord," the damsel said, "a man like you must not die thus, for God would prefer that by your hand others die who deserve it more."

And both damsels turned and left without saying more.

Amadis asked what had happened to Arcalaus, and Grindalaya told him he had been enchanted and recounted everything that Arcalaus had said, and how he left wearing Amadis's armor on his horse for the court of King Lisuarte to tell how he had killed him.

Amadis said:

"I felt it well when he disarmed me, but everything seemed to be a dream."

Then he left the chamber, put on Arcalaus's armor, and left the palace. He asked what had been done to Gandalin and the dwarf. Grindalaya said they had been put in the prison.

Amadis said to Arcalaus's wife:

"Protect this lady for me as your own head until I return."

Then he went down the stairway and into the courtyard. When Arcalaus's men saw him in that armor, they fled in every direction. He immediately went to the jail and entered the chamber where he had killed the men. From there he went on into the prison where the captives were.

The prisoners were many and the chamber was narrow, more than one hundred spans of outstretched arms in length, but only one-and-a-half wide. And there in the darkness, where neither light nor air could enter, there were more prisoners than could fit.

He entered the doorway and called for Gandalin, but he was already half-dead. When he heard Amadis's voice, he trembled and could not believe it was him, for he thought Amadis was dead and he was bewitched.

Amadis hurried forward and said:

"Gandalin, where art thou? By God, how bad thou makest me feel by not responding!"

He said to the others:

"Tell me, by God, if the squire they put in here is alive."

The dwarf, who heard this, recognized Amadis and said:

"My lord, we lie here and we are alive, although we would have preferred death."

Amadis was very happy to hear that, and took candles that were next to a lamp in the chamber. He lit them and returned to the prison, saw where Gandalin and the dwarf were, and said:

"Gandalin, come out, and all the rest that are here behind thee. Let none remain!"

And they all said:

"Oh, good knight! May God give thee a good reward, for thou hast saved us!"

He took the chain from Gandalin, who was at its end, then behind him the dwarf, and then all the others who were prisoners there, one hundred fifteen men and thirty knights. They all followed Amadis and left the dungeon, and they said:

"Oh, blessed knight, our Savior Jesus Christ left Hell this way when He took His servants out. May He give thee thanks for the mercy thou hast done us!"

They entered the courtyard, where they saw the sun and the sky. They fell to their knees with their arms raised up and gave many thanks to God for having given the strength to that knight to take them from a place so cruel and harsh. Amadis watched them, sad to see that they had been so mistreated that their faces seemed more dead than alive.

He saw among them one who was tall and well-built, though the suffering had disfigured him. He came to Amadis and said:

"My lord knight, who shall we say liberated us from this cruel prison and terrifying gloom?"

"My lord," Amadis said, "I shall tell you gladly. Know that my name is Amadis of Gaul, son of King Perion, and I am from the court of King Lisuarte and a knight of Queen Brisena, his wife. I came in search of a knight and was brought here by a dwarf to comply with a boon I had promised him."

"Well, I am from his court," said the knight, "and well-known to the King and to his men, where I was held with more honors than I have now."

"Ye are from his court?" Amadis said.

"Yes, I am, truly," the knight said, "and I had just left there when I was put into this ill-fated place from which ye saved me."

"And what is your name?" Amadis said.

"Brandoivas," he said.

When Amadis heard this, he felt happy and went to embrace him, and said:

"Thanks be to God for sending me to take you from such cruel suffering! Many times I heard King Lisuarte and everyone in the court speak of you when I was there, praising your virtues and feats of chivalry. They were very troubled to hear no news about your life."

Then all the prisoners came to Amadis and said:

"Our lord, we are at your mercy. What do ye order us to do? We will gladly do it, for ye so truly deserve it."

"My friends," he said, "each one of you should go where ye choose and where ye can do the most good."

"Our lord," they said, "though ye do not know us, nor from where we come from, we all recognize you as the one whom we serve, and when the time comes to help you, we will not wait for your order, but without it we will hurry to wherever ye are."

With that, each one went on his way as fast as he could, as well they needed to. Amadis took Brandoivas along with two of his squires who had been prisoners, and went to where Arcalaus's wife and the other women were. He found Grindalaya with her, and said:

"My lady, I will refrain from burning this castle because of you and your women, despite the great evil your husband did me here. Knights must be restrained out of the respect that they owe to ladies and damsels."

The lady told him, weeping:

"As God is my witness, my lord knight, my spirit feels pain and woe for that which my lord Arcalaus does, but I can do nothing other than obey my husband and pray to God for him. It is up to your virtue to do with me as ye wish, my lord."

"I shall do as I said," he said, "but I ask you to give some fine clothing to this lady, who is of high rank, and to give arms to this knight, whose were taken from him here, and a horse. But if this seems too much, I will not ask it. But I will take the arms of Arcalaus as mine, and his horse as mine, yet I tell you that I would prefer my sword, which he carries, to all of this."

"My lord," the lady said, "what ye ask is just, and even if it were not, knowing your restraint, I would do it gladly."

Then she ordered Brandoivas's own arms brought out and given to him, along with a horse, and brought the lady to her chamber and dressed her in her finest clothing, then brought her before Amadis and begged him to eat before he left. He agreed, so the lady had him given the best food she could.

Grindalaya could not eat, for she was so anxious to leave the castle, and Amadis and Brandoivas laughed at that, and even more at the dwarf, who was so terrified that he could not eat or talk and had lost all his color.

Amadis told him:

"Dwarf, shall we wait for Arcalaus and give him the boon that thou released me from?"

"My lord," he said, "this has cost me so much that I shall never ask another boon from you nor from anyone else for as long as I live. Let us leave here before the Devil sends him back. I cannot bear to stand on this leg that he had me hanging by, and my nose is still full of the sulfur that he put me over. I have not stopped sneezing and even doing worse things."

Great was the laughter of Amadis and Brandoivas and even the ladies and damsels over what he said. But as soon as the tablecloths were lifted, Amadis said goodbye to the wife of Arcalaus. She commended him to God and said:

"May God put concord between my lord and you."

"Agreed, my lady," Amadis said, "though I do not have the tenderness for him that I have for you, for you deserve it."

And the time would come when these words that he said here meant a lot to the lady, as will be told to you in the fourth book of this story. Then they mounted their horses and Grindalaya her palfrey, left the castle and rode all day until nightfall, when they lodged in the house of a prince who lived five leagues from the castle, and where they were served with great honor. The next day, they heard Mass, then bid farewell to their host and got on the road.

Amadis said to Brandoivas:

"My good lord, I ride in search of a knight, as I told you, and ye ride greatly fatigued. It would be good if we parted."

"My lord," he said, "I must ride to the court of King Lisuarte, and if ye order it, I shall wait for you there."

"I thank you much for that," Amadis said, "and since it suits me to ride alone, take this lady wherever she wishes to go."

"My lord," she said, "I will go with this knight where he goes, because there I will find him for whom I was held prisoner, and he will be pleased to see me."

"In the name of God," Amadis said, "and may ye go commended by God."

Thus they parted, as ye hear, and Amadis said to the dwarf:

"My friend, what wilt thou do?"

"Whatever ye order," he said.

"What I order," Amadis said, "is that thou dost what pleases thee most."

"My lord," he said, "since ye order that, I would wish to be your vassal and to serve you, for I do not feel I could live with anyone better now."

"If it pleases thee," Amadis said, "it pleases me, and I receive thee as my vassal."

The dwarf kissed his hand.

Amadis traveled on the road as fate guided him, and soon he met one of the damsels who had helped him, weeping loudly, and he said:

"My lady damsel, why do ye weep?"

"I weep," she said, "for a box that a knight took who is riding off there. It will do him no good, although what was in it saved the best knight in the world from death only three days ago. And I weep because my companion was taken by another knight by force to dishonor her."

The damsel did not recognize Amadis for the helmet that he had put on when he had first seen the knights in the distance. When he heard that, he went on past the damsel, caught up with the knight, and said:

"Truly, knight, it is not a courtesy to make that damsel back there weep. I advise you to cease this immoderation and return her box."

The knight began to laugh, and Amadis asked him:

"Why do ye laugh?"

"I laugh at you," he said. "I think ye are an idiot to give advice to someone who does not ask for it and who will not do anything that ye say."

"It may be that no good will come to you for that," Amadis said. "Give her her box, for it will do nothing for you."

"It seems that ye threaten me," the knight said.

"Your great arrogance is threatening you," Amadis said, "for it makes ye use force against someone whom ye should not."

The knight put the box in a tree and said:

"If your daring is equal to your words, come and get it and give it to its owner."

And the knight turned to face him. Amadis, who was now irate, rode at him. The other knight came as fast as he could to attack, and when they met, he broke Amadis's shield, but his lance did not pass through his hauberk, which was strong, and his lance broke. Amadis hit him so hard that he knocked him to the ground, and his horse fell on top of him. He was so badly injured that he could not get up.

Amadis took the box, gave it to the damsel, and said:

"Wait here while I rescue the other girl."

Then he rode as fast as he could toward where he had seen the knight, and soon he saw him among some trees where he had tied his horse and the damsel's palfrey. He had pulled her off her mount to dishonor her, and she was screaming as he dragged her by the hair toward some bushes.

Full of anguish, she said:

"Oh, traitor, my enemy, may ye die soon and badly for what ye do to me, for ye wish to dishonor me, and I did you no injury!"

At this, Amadis arrived, shouting to let the damsel go. The knight saw him coming and went immediately to get his arms. He mounted his horse and said:

"At a bad moment you stopped me from doing my will."

"May God confound the will that makes a knight loose his shame," Amadis said.

"Truly, if I cannot take my vengeance on you," the knight said, "I never bore arms."

"The world will lose very little if you abandoned them," Amadis said, "for you use them for infamy, forcing yourself on women, when knights ought to protect them."

Then they had their horses gallop, and they struck each other so hard it was amazing. The knight broke his lance, but Amadis threw him over the back of his saddle. He struck the ground with his helmet and his body fell over his neck, twisting it in such a way that he was more dead than alive. Amadis, seeing him so injured, led his horse over him, saying:

"Thus ye lose your dishonest ardor."

And he said to the lady:

"My friend, ye need not fear this man any more."

"So it seems to me, my lord," she said, "but I fear for my companion, the other damsel, from whom they took a box. I do not wish her to be harmed."

"Fear not," Amadis said. "I made him give it back to her, and ye see her coming with my squire."

Then he took off his helmet, and the damsel recognized him, and he she, for she was the one who had taken him to Urganda the Unrecognized when he was coming from Gaul, and then Urganda had him take her lover from Baldoid Castle by force of arms. He got off his horse and went to embrace her, as he embraced the other damsel when she arrived.

They said to him:

"My lord, if we had known we had such a defender, we would not fear being taken by force. And ye may well say that if we saved you, it was because ye deserved it, for ye have saved us."

"My ladies," Amadis said, "I was in greater danger, and I beg ye to tell me how ye knew."

The damsel who had taken him by the hand to raise him up from his deathbed told him:

"My lord, my aunt Urganda ordered me ten days ago to hurry to arrive there at that moment to free you."

"May God reward her," he said. "I will serve her in whatever she commands and wishes, and you, for the good that ye have done. Tell me if I may be of further service."

My lord," they said, "go back to the road that ye left, and we shall go on ours."

"Go with God," he said, "and commend me to your lady, and tell her that she already knows that I am her knight."

The damsels went on their way, and Amadis turned to his, and it remains to be told what Arcalaus did.

After an August break, regular posting has resumed. But due to the increased demands of my day job, I will only be posting a new chapter or a new commentary in alternate weeks. As they say in Spain, please forgive the inconvenience.