Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Chapter 24 [last half]

[How Sir Galaor came to learn who the dead knight was and how he died.]

[Inside the Royal Castle in Segovia, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Sir Galaor remained alone with the dead knight, since he had ordered his squire to chase after his horse, and waited for more than five hours in the night. Then sleep overcame him, and he laid his head on his helmet and placed his shield over him and slept for a long time. But when he woke up, he did not see the light of any of the candles that had been burning before, nor did he find the dead knight, which troubled him greatly, and he said to himself:

"Surely, I ought not to attempt what worthy men do, for I knew to do nothing other than sleep, and because of that I have failed to keep my promise. But I shall pay the price that my negligence deserves, and I shall search on foot for that which, had I been awake, I would have learned without any trouble."

As he thought about how he could find the trail of those who had come, he heard a horse whinny, and he went toward it, but he could not find it anywhere. Then he heard another horse somewhat farther away, and he continued traveling down that road. When he had gone some distance, dawn broke, and he saw two armed men before him. One was on foot, reading the words that were written on a stone, and he said to the other one:

"They were too free in sending me here, for it seems like a rather pointless errand to me."

He mounted his horse, and they left together. Galaor called out:

"My lord knights, would ye be able to tell me who took a dead knight that lay beneath the tree at the crossroads?"

"Truly," one of them said, "we do not know, but after midnight we saw three damsels and ten squires go by, and they carried a bier."

"Well, where were they headed?" Galaor said.

They showed him the way and left, and he went down that road. Soon he saw a damsel coming toward him, and he said to her:

"Damsel, by chance do ye know who took a dead knight from under the tree at the crossroads?"

"If ye promise me to avenge his death, which was a great sorrow to many men and women due to his noble character, I shall tell you."

"I promise that," he said, "since it seems to you that vengeance may be taken justly."

"That is very certain," she said. "Now come with me and ride on this palfrey, and I shall ride behind you on its haunches."

She wished to have him to ride in the sidesaddle, which he did not want to do at all, and riding behind her, they went where the damsel guided the horse. When they had gone two leagues, they saw a very beautiful castle, and the damsel said:

"There we shall find what ye ask for."

They arrived at the gate of the castle, and the damsel said:

"Enter, and I shall go. And tell me your name and where I may find you."

"My name," he said, "is Sir Galaor, and I believe that ye shall find me in the court of King Lisuarte sooner than anywhere else."

She left, and he entered the castle. He saw the dead knight lying in the center of the courtyard, and many people were mourning over him. He came up to an old knight who was there and asked who the dead knight was.

"My lord," he said, "he was such that everyone in the world rightly ought to mourn his death."

"And what was his name?" Galaor said.

"Antebon," he said. "And he was born in Gaul."

Galaor felt more pity for him than before, and he said:

"I beg you to tell me the cause of his death."

"I shall gladly tell you," he said. "This knight came to this land and, being noble, he married that lady who weeps over him, who is the proprietress of this castle. They had a very beautiful daughter, who was loved by a knight who lives near here in another fortress. But she disdained him more than anyone else. The dead knight had the custom of going to the tree at the crossroads because he often encountered adventures as a knight errant and was able to correct the wrongdoers who went past, and he accomplished so much at arms that in these lands he was greatly praised.

"One day, as he was there, by chance the knight who loved his daughter rode past him to the castle where the damsel was with her mother. He rode into this very courtyard where she was playing with other women. He took her by the arm and left before anyone could close the gate, and brought her to his castle. There the damsel did nothing but weep, and the knight told her:

" 'My dear, I am a knight and I love you very much. Will ye not take me in marriage, since I have more riches and a higher rank than your father?'

" 'No,' she said, 'not willingly, because I have sworn an oath to my mother.'

" 'And what oath was this?'

" 'Not to wed nor to love any knight except he who is praised for his feats at arms, like the knight whom my mother married and who is my father.'

" 'Do not refuse me for that, for I am not less valiant than your father, and within three days ye shall know it.'

"Then he left the castle armed and on his horse, and he went to the tree in the crossroads, where he found this knight on foot beside his horse with his arms next to him. When he arrived, without saying a word, he struck Antebon with his lance in the throat as ye see here, before he could take up his arms, and he fell to the earth mortally wounded. The knight then dismounted and gave him all those blows with his sword that ye see here until he killed him."

"May God help me," Galaor said, "the knight's death is a great injustice, and everyone ought to mourn him. Now tell me why they put him beneath the tree at the crossroads."

"Because many knights errant pass by there, and they were told what I have told you so that perhaps one of them would be such as to avenge him."

"Why did ye leave him unattended?" Galaor said.

"There were always four squires with him," the knight said, "until last night, when they left because the other knight had sent them threats, and that is why we took him from there."

"I am very sorry that I did not see you," Galaor said.

"What?" he said. "Are you the one we saw asleep, lying on his helmet?"

"I am," he said.

"And why did ye remain there?" the knight said.

"To avenge his death, if it can be justly done," Galaor said.

"Ye are willing to do that now?"

"Yes, truly," he said.

"Why, my lord," the knight said, "may God in His mercy let you do so in honor."

He took him by the hand, brought him to the bier, made the mourners be quiet, and said to the lady:

"My lady, this knight says he will do his best to avenge the death of your husband."

She fell at his feet to kiss them, and said:

"Oh, good knight! May God give thee thy reward, for my husband has no family or friends in this land to do it for him because he is a foreigner here, but when he was alive, many looked well on him."

Galaor said:

"My lady, he is from the land where I am from, so I have more cause to avenge him, since I was born where he was."

"My dear sir," the lady said, "by chance are ye the son of the King of Gaul, who my lord said was in the court of King Lisuarte?"

"I was never in his court," he said, "but tell me who killed your husband and where I can find him."

"My good sir," she said, "I shall tell you and guide you there, but I am afraid that ye may fail to do your duty out of fear, as did others who were sent there."

"My lady," he said, "this is what separates good men from bad men."

The lady ordered two damsels to guide him.

"My lady," Galaor said, "I arrived here on foot." He told her how he had lost his horse, and said, "Order one to be given to me when I go."

"I shall do so willingly," she said, "provided that if ye do not avenge him, ye shall return the horse to me."

"I agree," Galaor said.

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