Tuesday, February 2, 2010

Chapter 26 [final half]

[What Amadis must do to rescue the damsel, and who he meets in the castle.]

[The Ambassador's Hall of the Nazaríes Palace (left) and the towers of the Alcazaba Fortress (right), of the Alhambra, in Granada, Spain. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]


Amadis rode for a long while in the countryside, making his horse suffer more than it deserved. Eventually he heard a horn, and he went in that direction, hoping that he would find the knight there. Soon he spied a beautiful, well-guarded fortress in front of him on a high, isolated hill. When he arrived, he saw tall walls and strong towers, and the gate was tightly closed. The guards saw him and asked him what kind of man he was traveling armed at that hour.

"I am a knight," he said.

"And what do ye seek?" they asked from up on the wall.

"I seek a knight who took a damsel from me," he said.

"We did not see him," they said from up on the wall.

Amadis went around the castle, and on the other side he found a small open gate and saw the knight who had taken the damsel. He was on foot, and his men were removing the saddle from his horse, which would not fit into the doorway otherwise. Amadis, knowing it was him, said:

"My lord knight, wait a bit and do not go inside before telling me if ye were the one who took a damsel from me."

"If I took her, ye guarded her poorly," he said.

"Ye stole her from me by force and guile," Amadis said. "It would not have been so easy otherwise, and surely ye did no courtesy nor won any fame as a knight."

The knight told him:

"My friend, I have the damsel, who wished to come with me of her own free will. I insist that I did not force her."

"My lord knight," Amadis said, "show her to me, and if she says so, I shall cease to ask for her."

"I shall show you her tomorrow inside here, if ye wish to enter according to the custom of the castle."

"And what custom is this?"

"Tomorrow they shall tell you, and do not take it lightly if ye venture for her."

"If I were to wish to see her now, would they let me in?"

"No," the knight said, "because it is night. But if you wait until day, we shall see what they can do here." And he went inside and shut the gate.

Amadis went off into some trees, where he dismounted and spoke with Gandalin about many things until morning. When the sun rose, he saw the gate open, so he mounted his horse and approached it. He saw a fully armed knight there on a large horse. The gatekeeper told him:

"My lord knight, do ye wish to enter here?"

"I do," Amadis said. "That is why I have come here."

"Then first I shall tell you the custom, so that ye may not complain," the gatekeeper said. "I tell you that as soon as ye enter, ye must fight this knight, and if he defeats you, ye must swear to obey the lady of this castle, and if not, they shall throw you into a vile prison. And even if ye win, ye may not leave but must continue forward to where ye shall find another gate with two more knights. And further on, another two knights, and ye must fight all of them the same as the first, and if ye are so skilled that you comport yourself honorably, besides gaining great fame at arms, ye shall have the right to what ye seek."

"Surely," Amadis said, "if ye speak the truth, this place carries a high price for those who come here, but be it as it may, I still wish to see the damsel that they have here, if I can."

Then he entered the gate of the castle. The knight shouted for him to protect himself and charged at him, and Amadis at the knight. Their lances struck each others' shields, and the knight broke his lance. Amadis put him on the ground so bravely that he broke his right arm. Amadis came over him, put his lance on his chest, and said:

"Ye are dead if ye do not grant your defeat."

The knight said:

"My lord, mercy," and showed him his broken arm. Amadis passed him by and went forward, and saw another gate with two armed men, who told him:

"Enter, knight, if ye wish to fight with us. If not, ye are captive."

"Truly," he said, "I would fight before willfully becoming as a prisoner."

He covered himself with his shield, lowered his lance, and charged at them, and they at him. One missed with his blow, but the other struck Amadis, pierced his shield, hit his left arm, and broke his lance into pieces. Amadis struck him so hard that he threw both the knight and his horse on the ground, and the knight was knocked so senseless by the fall that he did not know where he was.

Amadis charged at the other, who was still on his horse, and though his lance had no iron tip, which had remained in the shield of the other knight, he struck him on the helmet and took it from his head, while the knight struck Amadis on the edge of his shield at an angle such that the blow had no consequence and the lance was unharmed.

They put their hands on their swords and gave each other great blows, then Amadis told him:

"Truly, knight, it is madness to fight with your head disarmed."

"I shall guard my head better than ye shall guard yours," he said.

"Now we shall see," Amadis said.

Then he hit him on the shield with such a fierce blow that the sword passed through it, and the knight lost his stirrups and fell. Amadis, seeing that he was in trouble, struck him on the head with the side of his sword, stunning him, then put his hand on his shoulder and said:

"Knight, ye protected your head poorly, and ye would have lost it had I given ye a proper blow."

The knight let his sword fall from his hand and said, "I do not wish to lose my body over more madness, since ye have given it to me once already. Go forward."

Amadis asked for the knight's lance, which lay on the ground, and he gave it to him. When he arrived at the next gate, he saw ladies and damsels up on the castle wall and heard them say:

"If this knight goes over the drawbridge in spite of the three, he will have achieved the greatest knighthood in the world!"

Then three well-armed knights came out at him on large and beautiful horses, and one of them told him:

"Knight, become our prisoner or swear that ye shall obey the lady of the castle."

"I shall not be prisoner, as long as I can defend myself," Amadis said, "and I do not know what the will of the lady is."

"Then protect yourself," they said.

And together they came at him so bravely that they almost knocked him off his horse. Amadis struck one so fiercely that he put the iron tip of the lance into his ribs, and there he broke his lance just as the others broke theirs on him. They put their hands on their swords and attacked so fiercely that those who watched could only marvel, for the three knights were valiant and accomplished at arms, and he whom they had before them did not wish any shame on himself.

The battle was brave but it did not last long, for Amadis, showing his strength, gave them such blows that his sword reached their flesh and heads. Soon he had them to a point where they could take no more and they fled to the castle, with him in pursuit. When he reached them, one of them dismounted, and Amadis told him:

"Do not dismount, for I shall not let you go unless ye declare defeat."

"Truly, my lord, I shall do that willingly," he said. "All those who have fought you ought to do so after what ye have done."

And he gave him his sword. Amadis returned it and went after the others, and saw them enter a great hall. At its doorway he saw at least twenty ladies and damsels, and the most beautiful of them said:

"Stay, my lord knight, for ye have accomplished much."

Amadis stopped and said:

"My lady, have them grant that they were defeated."

"And what does it matter to you?"

"Because they told me at the gate that I needed to kill or defeat them, and in no other way shall I receive what is my right."

"But they told you," the lady said, "that if ye were to enter here in spite of them, that they would grant you the right to what ye seek, so now say what ye would wish."

"I seek the damsel that a knight took from me on a riverbank while I slept and brought her to this castle against her will."

"Be seated now," she said, "and the knight shall come and speak for himself and ye for yourself, and each one shall have his chance. Dismount for a while until the knight comes."

Amadis got off his horse and the lady had him sit beside her, and she said:

"Do ye know a knight named Amadis?"

"Why do ye ask?" he said.

"Because all the guards that ye see at this castle are placed against him. And I tell ye well that if he were to enter, he would not leave here by any means until he went back something that he promised."

"And what was this?" he said.

"I shall tell ye," the lady said, "if ye promise that ye shall use all your power to make him break his promise, whether by arms or by other means, for he did not do it rightly."

Amadis said:

"I tell you, my lady, that anything that Amadis may have promised, I shall try make him end in any way I can with all my strength."

She, who did not understand why he said that, said:

"Then know ye, my lord knight, that this Amadis whom I have spoken of to you promised Angriote d'Estravaus that he would make me be his lover, and this is the promise I want you to make him break, since such a bond should be made voluntarily and not by force, as God and reason both wish it to be done."

"Truly," Amadis said, "ye are right, and if I can, I shall make him end it."

The lady thanked him very much. But he was not less happy, because by carrying out his promise he would end it.

"And by chance," he said, "are ye, my lady, she whom Angriote loves?"

"My lord," she said, "I am."

"Truly, my lady," he said, "I hold Angriote to be one of the best knights in the world, and to my thinking, no well-bred lady would fail to esteem such a knight, and I say that not to go back on what I promised, instead I say it because he is a better knight than the one who made that promise."

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