Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Chapter 27

How Amadis fought with the knight who had stolen the damsel from him while he was sleeping, and how he defeated him.
[Montségur Fortress, France, near the Pyrenees. The Cathars succumbed to a siege here in 1234-1244, and the fortress was destroyed and later rebuilt. Legend says the Holy Grail was at one time here. Photo by Gwyneth Box.]


While Amadis and the lady were speaking, a knight came to them fully armed except for his head and hands. He was tall, robust, and obviously strong. He said to Amadis:

"My lord knight, they tell me ye seek a damsel whom I brought here. I did not take her by force from you in any way, for she wished to come with me rather than stay with you, so I must say that I have no reason to give her to you."

"Then show her to me," Amadis said.

"I have no reason to show her to you," the knight said, "but if ye say she ought not be mine, I must prove it to you by battle."

"Surely," Amadis said, "I shall prove to anyone that ye do not have her by right if the damsel does not grant it."

"Then ye are in battle," the knight said.

"That shall greatly please me," Amadis said.

Now know ye that this knight was named Gasinan, and he was the paternal uncle of the woman Angriote loved, and he was the family member whom she most loved in the world. And because he was the best knight at arms in his lineage, she managed her affairs by his advice.

They brought Gasinan a large horse. He took up his arms, then Amadis also mounted and took up his, and the lady, who was named Grovenesa, said:

"Uncle, I beg you not to let this battle happen, for I would be greatly saddened if anything bad were to happen to either of you, for you are the man whom I love most in the world, and this knight swore to me that he would put an end to what Amadis promised Angriote."

"Niece," Gasinan said, "how do ye believe that he or any other man could make the best knight in the world fail to keep his word?"

Grovenesa told him:

"So help me God, I hold this man to be the best knight in the world, and if he were not, he would not have entered here by force of arms."

"What!" Gasinan said, "Do ye think so highly of him for getting past the gates and those who guarded them? Truly, that was fine knighthood, but I do not fear him much for that. If he is so skilled, now ye shall see it, and may God not help me if I fail to protect the damsel as best I can."

Grovenesa backed away, and the knights charged at each other as fast as their horses could go, lances lowered. They struck each others' shields so bravely that their lances were immediately shattered, and their shields and helmets collided with such force that it was frightening to see. Gasinan, who was weaker, was thrown from his saddle and fell hard, but he got up fast for he had great strength and courage. He put his hand on his sword and moved toward a stone pillar that stood high in the middle of the courtyard, for he thought that there Amadis could not harm him with his horse, but if he approached, he could kill him.

Amadis charged at him to attack, and Gasinan struck with his sword on the face of the horse, which made Amadis irate and want to deliver a blow with all his strength. Gasinan stepped back, and the blow hit the pillar, which was solid stone, and knocked a piece from it, and Amadis's sword was broken into three pieces. When he saw that, he felt great concern since he was in danger of death and had no means with which to defend himself. As fast as he could, he dismounted his horse.

Gasinan, who saw that he was in trouble, said:

"Knight, grant that the damsel is mine, if not, ye are dead."

"That shall not be," he said, "unless she says that it pleases her."

Then Gasinan charged at him and began to attack on all sides, for he had great strength and sensed that he could win the damsel. But Amadis covered himself with his shield so well and for so long that all the blows landed on it or missed him. Several times he struck with the hilt of his sword, which had remained in his hand, delivering such blows that he made Gasinan's helmet twist back and force on his head.

So the battle went on for such a long time, while the ladies and damsels were amazed by how Amadis could carry on without a means to attack. But once he saw that his chain mail had been cut open in many places and his shield had grown small, he put everything in a life or death move and came at Gasinan with great ire so fast that the other had no time to attack. They grabbed each other, each trying to throw the other down.

This went on for some time, and Amadis never let go and allowed the other to escape. They were near a great stone that was in the courtyard, and Amadis shoved with all his strength, more than anyone would have thought he had for he was not big, and threw him onto it so hard that Gasinan was completely stunned and could move neither hand nor foot. Amadis quickly took up the sword that had fallen from his hand, cut the laces of his helmet, and pulled it from his head. The knight came to a bit but could not get up, and Amadis said:

"Base knight, ye have caused me great trouble for no reason, and now I shall avenge myself." And he raised the sword as if he wished to strike him.

Grovenesa shouted, "Oh, good knight, by God! Have mercy and do not do it!" She ran at him weeping.

When Amadis saw that it would hurt her so, he acted even more as if he meant to kill him and said:

"Lady, do not beg me to let him go, for he has caused me so much trouble that by no means shall I fail to cut off his head."

"Oh, my lord knight," she said, "by God, order us to do anything ye wish and it shall be done as long as he does not die."

"Lady," he said, "there is nothing in the world to make me stop except for two things that I wish ye to do."

"What are they?" she said.

"Give me the damsel," he said, "and also swear to me as a lady of good faith that ye shall go to the first court that King Lisuarte holds and there ye shall give me the other gift that I shall ask for."

Gasinan, who was become more aware of his surroundings, saw that he was in great danger, and he said:

"Why, niece, by the mercy of God, do not let him kill me! Have pity on me and do as the knight says!"

She granted Amadis what he had asked for, so he moved away from the knight and said:

"Lady, I shall make good the promise that I gave ye, and ye must keep the one that ye swore to, and do not fear that I shall ask for something that will go against your honor."

"Many thanks," she said, "for ye have done all that is just."

"Then, now bring the damsel that I seek."

The lady made her come, and the damsel knelt in front of Amadis and said:

"Truly my lord, ye have striven greatly for me, and although Gasinan brought me here by trickery, I know that he loves me well, for he wished to fight rather than give me back."

"My dear lady," Gasinan said, "if it seems to you that I loved you, may God help me, ye have seen a great truth, and I beg you to remain with me."

"So I shall do," she said, "if it pleases this knight."

"Truly, damsel," Amadis said, "ye have chosen one of the greatest knights that ye could find, but if this is not your pleasure, then tell me or do not blame me for anything that may happen to you."

"My lord," she said, "I would thank God very much if ye were to leave me here."

"In the name of God," Amadis said.

Then he asked for his horse, and Grovenesa wished him to remain for the night, but he did not do so. He mounted it, said goodbye to her, ordered Gandalin to take the pieces of his sword, and left the castle. But first Gasinan begged him to take his sword, and Amadis thanked him very much and took it. Grovenesa had him brought a lance. And so he took the road that led straight to the tree at the crosswords, where he thought to find Galaor and Balais.

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