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.

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