Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Chapter 33 [first half]

How, as King Lisuarte was enjoying himself, a damsel dressed in mourning knelt before him to ask for a mercy, which he granted.

[Statue of Violant of Hungary (c.1216-1253). In 1235, she married James I "the Conquerer" of Aragon after James had his marriage annulled to Eleanor of Castile, granddaughter of Eleanor of Aquitaine. Violant and James had ten children, and she played an important role in the governance of his kingdom.]


As the King and his followers were enjoying themselves, as ye have heard, Fate wished to begin her work and turn the festivities into disorder, so an extremely beautiful damsel dressed in mourning entered the gate of the palace and knelt in front of the King. She said:

"My lord, everyone is happy except me. I must be troubled and sad, and I can be freed from it only by you."

"My friend," the King said, "what is this trouble of yours?"

"My lord," she said, "it is over my father and my uncle, who are imprisoned by a lady, and they can never be freed until she is given two knights as skilled at arms as the one that they killed."

"And why did they kill him?" the King said.

"Because he boasted that he alone could fight them both, such was his pride and arrogance," she said. "He taunted them until, overcome by shame, they met him on the field, where they won and he was left dead. This took place in front of the castle of Galdena, and she, being the lady of the castle, ordered both my father and uncle to be seized immediately. She swore that they would not be released, because they killed the knight that she needed to do battle. My father told her:

" 'Lady, do not hold me or my brother, for I shall fight this battle.'

" 'Truly,' she said, 'I cannot entrust my justice to those such as you. I tell you that ye shall not leave here until I have been brought two knights, each one is as good and as proven at arms as the one ye killed. That way the harm that his death has brought me shall be remedied.' "

The King said:

"Do ye know where the lady wants them to fight?"

"My lord," the damsel said, "I do not know this, I only know that my father and my uncle are being held prisoners completely unjustly, where their friends cannot help them." She began to weep bitterly.

The King, who was very compassionate, felt pity for her and said:

"Now tell me if the place where these knights are being held is far away."

"To travel there and back would take only five days," the damsel said.

"Then choose two knights that ye like from those here and they shall go with you."

"My lord," she said, "I am from a foreign land and I know no one, but if ye please, I shall go to the Queen, my lady, and she shall advise me."

"In the name of God," he said.

She went to the Queen and explained her circumstance just as she had to the King, and finished by telling how he had granted her two knights to go with her. And since she did not know whom to choose, she begged the Queen, by her mercy and by the faith she owed to God and the King, to select the two who could best solve her troubles.

"Oh, damsel," the Queen said, "as ye beg it of me, I must do so, but it hurts me to send them away from here."

Then she had Amadis and Galaor called. They came before her, and she said to the damsel:

"This knight is mine, and that one the King's, and I tell you that these two are the best that I know of here or anywhere else."

The damsel asked what their names were. The Queen said:

"This one is called Amadis, and the other Galaor."

"Why, my lord, are ye Amadis," she said, "the outstanding knight who has no equal among all others? By God, what I ask for shall be done as soon as ye and your brother arrive." She said to the Queen, "My lady, by God I beg you to ask them to come with me."

The Queen asked them, and the damsel blessed her for it. Amadis glanced at his lady, Oriana, to see if she would grant the trip, and she, having pity on the damsel, let her gloves fall from her hands, which was a signal that they had arranged between them of her assent. When he saw this, he said to the Queen that he would be pleased to carry out her order. She asked them to return as fast as they could and forbid them to tarry for any reason.

Amadis approached Mabilia, who was speaking with Oriana, as if he wished to say goodbye to her, and Oriana told him:

"My dear, may God help me, it troubles me to see you go, and my heart feels great anguish. May God grant that it be for the best."

"My lady," Amadis said, "may He who made you so beautiful always give you joy, and wherever I am, I am yours to serve you."

"My love and lord," she said, "since it cannot be otherwise, may ye go with God, and may He keep you and give you honor above all other knights in the world."

Then they left, armed themselves, said goodbye to the King and to their friends, and took to the road with the damsel. They rode where the damsel guided them until afternoon, when they entered a forest named Ill Fortune because no knight errant who had ever entered there encountered good fortune or luck. Indeed, Amadis and Galaor would suffer great troubles before they left it.

After they ate what their squires had brought, they traveled until night fell and was lit by a full moon. The damsel was in a hurry and kept going. Amadis told her:

"Damsel, do ye not wish to rest a while?"

"I will," she said, "but farther on, where we will find some tents and people who will be glad to see us. Continue at your speed, and I shall go forward to arrange your reception."

Then the damsel left and they went more slowly, but they had not gone far before they saw two tents near the road, and they found the damsel and other people there who waited for them. She said:

"My lords, dismount and rest in this tent, for today ye have traveled far."

They did that, and they found servants who took their arms and horses and who went outside with them.

Amadis told them:

"Why did ye take our arms?"

"Because, my lord," the damsel said, "ye shall sleep in the tent where they have put them."

Then, disarmed, they were seated on a rug awaiting dinner, when soon some fifteen men including knights and well-armed foot soldiers entered and said:

"Be prisoners. If not, ye are dead."

When Amadis heard this, he rose and said:

"By Holy Mary, brother! We have been brought here falsely to the greatest treason in the world!"

Then they stood close to each other, wishing to defend themselves, but they had nothing to fight with. The men pointed their lances at their chests and their swords at their faces. Amadis was so angry that blood flowed from his nose and eyes, and he said to the knights:

"Oh, traitors! Understand this: if we had weapons, this would end differently."

"That will not help you," a knight said. "Give yourselves up as prisoners."

Galaor said:

"If we did that, it would be by treachery. And I will prove this against your two best knights, even your best three, if ye would give me my arms."

"That proof will not be necessary," the knight said. "And if ye keep talking that way, ye will be harmed."

"What do ye want?" Amadis said. "We would sooner be dead than prisoners, above all by treachery."

The knight turned to the entrance of the tent and said:

"My lady, they do not wish to surrender. Shall we kill them?"

She said:

"Wait a bit, and if they do not do my will, cut off their heads."

The lady entered the tent. She was very beautiful and angry. She told King Lisuarte's knights:

"Be my prisoners. If not, ye are dead."

Amadis did not speak, and Galaor said to him:

"Brother, now we need not doubt, since the lady wishes it so." He told her: "Order them to give us our arms and horses, my lady, and if your men cannot take us, then we shall go to your prison, for we have done nothing up to now by you to deserve it."

"I do not think so," she said. "Instead, I advise you to be my prisoners."

They agreed, since they saw they could do nothing else. This way, as ye hear, they gave themselves up without the lady knowing who they were. The damsel did not wish to tell her because she knew for certain that the lady would immediately wish to kill them, and that would have left the damsel without any good fortune in the world, since these two knights would have died because of her. She would have rather died than done what she had done that day, but she could only keep their secret.

The lady told them:

"Knights, ye are now my prisoners, and I wish to propose a deal. If you grant it, ye shall be free, but otherwise, know that I shall place you in a prison so vile that it will seem worse than death."

"My lady," Amadis said, "if your deal can be done without great distress, we shall grant it, but if it is to our shame, we would rather suffer death."

"I know nothing of your shame," she said, "but if ye agree to go to King Lisuarte and declare that ye are no longer his vassals and tell him that ye do this by order of Madasima, the lady of Gantasi, I shall order you freed."

She said this because the King had as one of his men the knight who killed the good knight Dardan.

Galaor told her:

"My lady, if ye order this because of the King, it is sad, and do not believe otherwise. We are just two knights who have only arms and horses, and since he maintains many others of great valor to serve him, he will care little if we stay or go, but for us this would be a great shame, so much that we in no way shall do it."

"What?" she said. "Ye would rather be put in that prison than be parted from the most dishonest king in the world?"

"My lady," Galaor said, "we cannot agree with you, for the King is good and loyal, and I would prove that there is not one bit of falsehood in him to any knight in the world."

"Truly," she said, "at a bad moment ye have loved him so much."

And she ordered that their hands be tied.

"I shall do this happily," said a knight, "and if ye order it, I shall cut off their heads."

He grabbed Amadis by the arm, but Amadis pulled back and tried to strike him in the head. The knight dodged the blow and hit him on the chest so hard that Amadis fell to the ground, stunned. Then there was a great commotion in the tent, and everyone tried to kill Amadis, but an old knight put his hand on his sword and began to threaten those who wanted to harm him and made them pull back, but not before they had injured Amadis on the right shoulder with a lance, although not badly.

The old knight said to the lady:

"Ye do the greatest devilry in the world to keep noble knights as your prisoners and let them be killed."

"How can they not kill the most mad knight in the world, "she said, "who at a bad time did something so wild?"

Galaor said:

"My lady, we do not consent to have our hands tied by anyone but yourself, for you are our lady and very beautiful, and we are your prisoners, thus we must owe you obedience."

"So be it," she said. "I shall do so."

She took them by the hands and tied them tightly with a leather strap. She ordered the tents struck. She had them put on palfreys with their hands tied, had men take the reins, and began to travel. Gandalin and Galaor's squire went on foot, tied with rough rope. Thus they traveled all night through the forest.

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