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.

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