Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Chapter 34 [final half]

[How King Lisuarte fell to the treachery of Arcalaus the Sorcerer and became his prisoner.]

[Detail of San Martín Church, Segovia, Spain, built in the 11th century. Photo by Sue Burke.]


But now we shall tell you what happened to the King. He was traveling with twenty knights and was about to enter the forest, as ye have heard, having driven back all the other knights who had come there, when he saw the damsel approaching to whom he had promised a boon to prove himself and make known the courage in his heart. She came on a fast palfrey, and she bore around her neck a well-embellished sword and a lance with a beautiful iron tip and a painted shaft.

When she had approached the King, she said:

"My lord, may God keep you and give you happiness and courage, and may you abide by what you promised me in Windsor in front of your knights."

"Damsel," the King said, "I need more happiness than I have now, but however that may be, I well remember what I promised you, and I shall fulfill it."

"My lord," she said, "with that hope I come to you, the most faithful king in the world. Now give me vengeance on a knight who is in this forest. He killed my father in the worst mutiny in the world, and forced himself on me, then enchanted himself so that he cannot die unless the most honorable man in the kingdom of London strikes him with this lance and again with this sword. He gave the sword to his girlfriend to keep, thinking that she loved him dearly, but she did not. She hated him mortally, and she gave it and the lance to me so that I may take vengeance. I know that if not by your hand, for you are most honorable, then by none could he be killed. If ye dare to take vengeance, ye must go alone, because I promised him to bring one knight to fight today. This is why he has gone there, thinking that I could not have this sword and lance. The agreement between us is that if he wins, I shall forgive him, but if he is defeated, I shall do my will with him."

"In the name of God," the King said, "I will go with you."

He ordered his armor brought, and he put it on at once, and mounted his horse, which he esteemed greatly. The damsel told him to wear the sword that she brought, so he left his behind, which was the best in the world. The damsel carried his helmet and the painted lance, and he went with her, ordering everyone not to dare to follow him.

So they rode a while down the road, but the damsel had him leave it and guided him a different way close to some trees where those who had carried off Oriana were waiting. There the King saw a fully-armed knight on a black horse with a green shield at his neck and a matching helmet.

The damsel said:

"My lord, take your helmet, for ye see there the knight about whom I told you."

He laced it on immediately, took the lance, and said:

"Arrogant and ill-willed knight, now protect yourself."

He lowered his lance and the knight lowered his. They charged at each other as fast as their horses could go and struck each other's shields with their lances, which broke. But the King's broke so easily that he did not even feel it in his hand and thought his blow had missed. He put his hand on his sword, and the knight on his, and they struck each other on their helmets. The knight's sword entered fully halfway into the King's helmet, but the King's sword broke immediately above the hilt and the blade fell to the ground.

Thus he realized that he had been betrayed. The knight began to strike him and his horse on all sides, and when the King saw that his horse was being killed, he grabbed at the knight, and he at him, and they fell to the ground, the knight below him. The King took the sword that had fallen from the other's hand and began to give him the fiercest blows he could.

The damsel saw this and shouted:

"Oh, Arcalaus, help, for ye delay and will let your cousin die!"

As the King was about to kill the knight, he heard a great thunder, turned his head, and saw ten knights charging at him, and one rode ahead shouting:

"King Lisuarte, ye are dead, and not one day more shall ye reign nor wear a crown on your head!"

When the King heard this, he feared death, but he said with the great courage he had always had and still possessed:

"It may well be that I die, since ye have such an advantage over me, but ye shall all die by me as the traitors and liars that ye are!"

The knight came as fast as his horse could gallop, struck his lance on the King's shield with all his strength, and immediately knocked him hands on the ground. But the King got up right away as one who wished to fight until death, which was close to him. He gave such a cruel blow with the sword to the horse's leg that he cut it through, and the knight fell along with his horse.

Then all the knights attacked the King, and he defended himself bravely, but it did him no good. He was struck by the chests of the horses. The two knights on foot grabbed him and took the sword from his hands. Then they pulled his shield from his neck and his helmet from his head, and wrapped a thick chain around his neck which had two leads. They made him mount a palfrey, and two knights each took a lead, and they began to take him away.

When they arrived at the trees in the valley, they found Arcalaus, who had Oriana and the Damsel of Denmark. The knight that rode before the King said:

"Cousin, ye see here King Lisuarte!"

"Indeed," Arcalaus said, "and it is good to see him, for I shall make it so that I shall never fear him nor his house again."

"Oh, traitor!" said the King, "well I know that thou wouldst do any treachery. I would make thee understand it, although I am injured, if thou wouldst fight me now."

"Truly," Arcalaus said, "defeating such a knight as yourself would not bring me more esteem."

Then they all rode back to the road, where they split into two groups. Arcalaus called one of his pages and said:

"Go thou to London as fast as thou canst and tell Barsinan to seek to become king, and I shall do what I told him, for it is all ready now."

The page left right away, and Arcalaus told his company:

"Go to Danagel with ten of these knights and take Lisuarte and put him in my prison, and I shall take Oriana with these four, for I must bring her to where I have my books and possessions at Mount Aldin."

This was one of the strongest castles in the world.

Then the group was split apart. Ten knights went with the King, and five went with Oriana, including Arcalaus, showing that he could fight as well as five knights.

And hat shall we say here to you, emperors, kings, and grandees in high estates? On the same day that King Lisuarte thought to reign grandly over the world, he lost his daughter, who was the successor to his kingdom, and he became a disgraced prisoner in chains under the control of a cruel and evil sorcerer, with no hope.

Take care, take care, be aware of God, for although He grants great and high stations, He wishes your wills and hearts to be humble and low. Ye shall not remain in place by forgetting to give Him the thanks and services that He deserves. Ye who think ye can keep your stations despite your great arrogance and overweening greed, and by doing the opposite of what He wishes, ye shall lose everything with equal disgrace.

Above all, consider His mighty and secret judgments, for if this King Lisuarte, who was so just and frank and gracious, was allowed to come to such a cruel reversal, what shall be done to those who are have all the contrary against them? Do ye know? In consideration of that King's good works, He willed him to be rescued from this cruel danger. But those who do not do good works nor place limits on their evil shall suffer in their flesh in this world and shall lose their spirits in the next.

Thus the most powerful Lord, content to have given such a hard lash to the King and to have shown him how His power could bring low the mighty or raise them up, sent the help that ye shall now hear about.

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