Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Chapter 26 [first half]

Which recounts what happened to Amadis as he chased after the damsel that the knight was carrying off and mistreating.

[The duel between Islan the Monk and Volker the Minstrel from Rosengarten zu Worms, a 13th-century German chivalric epic.]


Amadis chased after the knight who was carrying off the damsel by force and mistreating her. He galloped a long way to try to catch them, but before he could, he met another armed knight on horseback who said:

"What great concern do ye have that ye are in such a hurry to get there?"

"What does it matter to you if I go fast or slow?" Amadis said.

"If ye are fleeing someone, I ought to help you."

"I do not need your protection now," Amadis said.

The knight took the bridle of Amadis's horse and said:

"Ye should tell me, or ye are in battle."

"I would be more pleased at that," Amadis said, "because it would take longer for me to tell you than to get you out of my way. With your behavior, I think I could not tell you anything without ye wishing to know even more."

The knight drew back and then came at him as fast as his horse could go, and Amadis came at him. The knight struck him squarely on the shield and his lance few to pieces, but Amadis hit him so hard that he knocked him to the ground with his horse on top of him, and the knight's leg was so badly injured that he could hardly get up.

Amadis went past him on the road. This was the knight who would soon set loose Sir Galaor's horse.

Amadis traveled so fast that he caught up with the knight who was carrying off the damsel, and said:

"Ye have been behaving discourteously for a long time, and now I ask ye to stop."

"And what discourtesy am I doing?" the knight said.

"The worst ye could do," Amadis said, "for ye carried off a damsel by force and even injured her."

"It seems that ye wish to tell me what to do," the knight said.

"I do not. I am only telling you what is in your own good."

"I think it would be good for you to go back to where ye came from."

Amadis became angry and approached the squire, saying:

"Set the damsel free. If not, ye are dead."

The squire, in fear, put her on the ground. The knight said:

"Lowly knight, ye are mad."

"Now we shall see," Amadis said.

And lowering their lances, they struck each other such that both lances were broken and the other knight went to the ground, but he got up as fast as he fell. Amadis came at him planning to hit him with the chest of his horse. The other knight said:

"Stay, my lord, for although I was discourteous, ye should not be. Have mercy on me."

"Then swear," Amadis said, "that ye shall not force neither lady nor damsel to do anything against her will."

"Very willingly," the knight said.

Amadis approached to take his oath, and the knight, who had his sword in his hand, used it to slash the belly of Amadis's horse and make it fall. Amadis quickly jumped off, put his hand on his sword, and charged at the knight with extraordinary fury. The knight told him:

"Now I shall make you see that ye came at a bad moment."

Amadis was too angry to respond, but he hit him on the helmet under the visor and cut so deeply that the sword reached flesh and cut off his nose and half his face, and the knight fell. But Amadis, not content, cut off his head.

He put his sword in its scabbard and went to the damsel. It was now well into night and the moon shown brightly. She told him:

"My lord knight, may God grant you honor for the help ye have given me, and more if ye finish your help and take me where I wish to go, though now is not the time to begin any trip for any reason."

"Damsel," he said, "I shall take ye anywhere willingly."

At this moment, Gandalin arrived, and Amadis told him:

"Give me the horse of that knight, since he killed mine, and take the damsel with thee on thy palfrey, and let us travel to wherever she guides us."

And so they left that road to take another that the damsel knew. Amadis asked her if she knew the name of the dead knight under the tree at the crossroads. She said she did, and told him everything about him and his death, which she knew well. By then they had arrived at a riverbank, and since it was midnight and the damsel felt very sleepy, at her request they agreed to rest there a while. They dismounted and laid out Gandalin's cloak for her to sleep on. Amadis laid down with his helmet under his head near her, and Gandalin on her other side.

While they were sleeping, as ye have heard, a knight happened to arrive coming upriver, and when he saw them, he leaned over while on his horse and put the handle of his lance between the arms of the damsel to wake her up. When she saw the armed knight, she thought it was the one protecting her, and she got up sleepily and said:

"My lord, do ye wish to go?"

"I do," said the knight.

"In the name of God," she said.

The knight leaned down, took her by the arm, put her ahead of himself on the horse, and began to leave.

"What is this?" she said. "It would be better for the squire to take me."

"He shall not," he said, "since ye wished to go with me."

She looked around and saw Amadis sleeping soundly, and shouted:

"Oh, my lord, save me, for someone I do not know is taking me!"

The knight spurred his horse and left with her as fast as he could. Amadis awoke at the shouts of the damsel and saw that the knight was taking her away. He was distressed to see it. He quickly shouted to Gandalin to bring him his horse while he laced on his helmet and took up his shield and lance. He mounted and rode in the direction he had seen the other knight go, but he did not get far before he found himself in a thick woods where he lost the road.

He did not know where to go, but as he was the knight most true to his word in the world, he grew angry at himself and said:

"Now I say that the damsel could well claim that I did her as much harm as good, for if I defended her against one rapist, I let her fall into the hands of another."

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