Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Chapter 21 [final third]

[How Amadis came to pledge his aid to the beautiful girl.]

[Detail from "The Lady and the Unicorn," a series of six wool and silk tapestries made from designs drawn in Paris in the late 1400s, on display at the Musée National du Moyen Âge, Paris, France.]


The lions paced from one side of the courtyard to the other and tried to get out through the gate. The people in the castle did not dare leave the building, not even the damsel who cared for the animals, for they were so excited and enraged by the bloodshed that they would obey no one. The people inside did not know what to do.

They asked the lady to beg Amadis to open the gate, for they thought that he would do it for her rather than for anyone else because she was a woman. But she, thinking of the great and evil misdeed she had done him, did not dare ask for any mercy. Finally, when she could not hope for any other remedy, she came to the window and said:

"My lord knight, we have erred badly against you without realizing it, yet may your humble courtesy prevail over our guilt, and if it please ye, open the gate for the lions, because if they leave, we shall be unafraid and free from danger. Thus everything will be set right with you, as it ought to be, for what we did and committed. However, I also wish to say that my intention and will was only to have you imprisoned."

He gently responded:

"My lady, ye did not have to do what ye did, for I was willingly yours, as I am for all the ladies and damsels who need my service."

"Then, my lord," she said, "will ye not open the gate?"

"No, may God help me," he said. "Ye shall not have this courtesy from me."

The lady left the window weeping. The beautiful girl said:

"My lord knight, there are those here who are not guilty of the evil ye received. Instead, they deserve thanks for doing that which ye do not know of."

Amadis felt great affection for her, and said:

"My pretty friend, do ye wish me to open the gate?"

"I would be very thankful to you for it," she said.

Amadis went to open it, and the girl said:

"My lord knight, wait a little, and I will tell the lady to deliver you your men who are here."

Amadis appreciated that greatly and considered her discreet. The lady agreed and said that she would give him Gandalin and the dwarf immediately. And the old knight, of whom ye have heard, told Amadis to take a shield and a mace so he could kill the lions when they left the gate.

"I want those for another reason," Amadis said, "and may God not help me if I do ill to someone who has helped me so well."

"Truly, my lord," he said, "ye esteem loyalty in men as much as ye do in wild beasts."

Then they threw him a mace and a shield. Amadis put what remained of his sword in its scabbard and put the shield on his arm. With the mace in hand, he went to open the gate. The lions, when they realized it was open, ran out and fled into the fields.

Amadis, who had hidden at the side of the gate, entered the castle. Immediately the lady and everyone else came out and went to him and he to them, and they received him very well and brought him Gandalin and the dwarf.

Amadis told her:

"My lady, I lost my horse here. You may order another to be given to me, but if not, I shall leave on foot."

"My lord," the lady said, "remove your armor and rest here tonight, for it is late. Ye shall have a horse, since it would be unreasonable for such a knight to go on foot."

Amadis took what she said for the best, and went immediately to disarm in a chamber. They gave him a cloak to cover himself and took him to the windows, where the lady and the girl were waiting for him. When they saw him, they were amazed by how handsome he was and by his age, being so young to do such amazing feats at arms.

Amadis looked at the girl, who seemed even more beautiful to him, and then said to the lady:

"Tell me, lady, if ye please, why did the statue in the carriage have its head cut in two?"

"Knight," she said, "if ye promise to do what must be done, I will tell you, but if not, I must not."

"My lady," he said, "it is not wise for a man to grant what he does not know, but when I know it, if it is something that touches upon that which a knight may reasonably do, I will not fail to do it."

The lady said he had spoken well, and ordered all the ladies and damsels and other people to leave. She held the girl close and said:

"My lord knight, that figure in stone that ye saw was made in the memory of the father of this beautiful girl, and he lies within the tomb in the carriage. He was the crowned king, and he was sitting in his throne during a feast. His brother came up and said that the crown on his head equally belonged to him, since they were both in line for it. Then he took out his sword, which he had brought in under his cloak, and struck him on top of the crown. The sword drove through his head as ye saw it depicted.

"Since he had planned this treason, he had brought many knights with him, and because the King was dead, leaving no other son or daughter besides this girl, the brother immediately took over the kingdom, which he still has in his power. At that time, the old knight who brought you to this girl was on guard. He fled with her and brought her here to me in this castle because she is my niece. Then I acquired the body of her father, and every day I put it in the carriage and go with it through the countryside. I swore that I would show it to no one except by force of arms, and would not tell the victorious knight about it unless he agrees to avenge that treason.

"And if ye, good knight, obliged by reason and virtue, wish to justly employ the great valor and brave heart that God gave you in that mission, having you, I shall continue in the same way until I find two more knights, which shall be necessary so that you three can fight in this cause with that traitor and his two sons, since they have an agreement among themselves not to fight one by one but to be together in battle if they are challenged."

"My lady," Amadis said, "ye have done right to see a way to avenge the greatest treason I have ever heard of. And truly, he who did it cannot last for long without being dishonored, for God will not suffer it. If ye could manage that they came to fight one by one, with the help of God I would accept that battle."

"They will not," the lady said.

"Then, what do ye wish me to do?" he said.

"Be here a year from today if you are alive and have free will," she said. "By then I will have found the two knights, and ye shall be the third."

"I will gladly do that," Amadis said, "and do not trouble to look for the other two, for I plan to bring them on that date, and they will fight to do what is right."

He said this because he believed he would have found his brother Sir Galaor and his cousin Agrajes by then, and with them he would dare to attempt such a great deed.

The lady and girl thanked him sincerely, telling him to look for very good knights because they would have to be the best to win, for he could be sure that the evil king and his sons were among the most valiant and brave knights in the world.

Amadis said:

"If I find one of the knights that I seek, I would not be troubled much for the third, no matter how brave they are."

"My lord," the lady said, "where are ye from and where shall we seek you?"

"My lady," Amadis said, "I am from the court of King Lisuarte, and I am a knight of Queen Brisena, his wife."

"Well, now," she said, "let us eat, for after making such a pact, it will do us good."

Then they entered a very beautiful hall where they were given a fine meal, and when it was time to sleep, they took Amadis to a chamber to lodge in, and only the damsel who had set free the lions remained with him. She said:

"My lord knight, there is someone here who helped you, although ye do not know it."

"And how was that?" Amadis said.

"It was to save you from death, which had closed in on you," she said. "By order of my lady, that beautiful girl, who pitied you because of those who were doing you wrong, I let loose the lions."

Amadis was surprised by the discretion of a person of such a young age, and the damsel said:

"Truly, I believe that if she lives, she will have in her two things far above all else, beauty and wisdom."

Amadis said:

"Indeed, so it seems to me. Tell her that I owe her thanks, and she should consider me her knight."

"My lord," the damsel said, "what ye say gives me great pleasure, and she will be very happy when I tell her."

She left the chamber, and Amadis went to his bed, and Gandalin and the dwarf to another bed that lay at the feet of their lord. They had heard all that had been said. The dwarf, who did not know about the history of his lord and Oriana, thought that he loved the beautiful girl because he had paid so much attention to her and had promised to be her knight. This belief proved not to help Amadis and in time led to a disaster that brought Amadis close to a cruel death, as shall be told farther along.

The night passed and morning came. Amadis got up, heard Mass with the lady, and then asked for the names of those whom he would have to fight. She said:

"The father is called Abiseos, the older son Darasion and the other son Dramis, and all three are greatly experienced in arms."

"And the land," Amadis said, "what is its name?"

"Sobradisa," she said, "which shares a border with Serolois, and its other border is surrounded by the sea."

Then he armed himself, mounted a horse that the lady had given him, and, as he was about to say goodbye, the beautiful girl came with a fine sword in her hands that had been her father's. She said:

"My lord knight, for my love, carry this sword for as long as it lasts, and may God help you with it."

Amadis thanked her, laughing, and said:

"My dear lady, ye have me as your knight do to all things that may be to your benefit and honor."

She was delighted with that, and it showed in her face. The dwarf, who saw all this, said:

"Truly, lady, ye have won no small thing to have such a knight as yours."

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