Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Chapter 35

How Amadis and Galaor learned about the betrayal, and how they decided to free the King and Oriana if they could.

[Peñalara Natural Park in the Guadarrama Mountains northwest of Madrid, Spain. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Amadis and Galaor had also been brought close to death while they were prisoners of the lady of Gantasi Castle, and now they were on the road to London. When they were two leagues from the city, they saw Ardian the dwarf coming as fast as his horse could go. Amadis recognized him and said:

"There is my dwarf, and I do not doubt that he is concerned about someone and is looking for us."

The dwarf arrived and told them all the news about how Oriana had been taken away.

"Oh, Holy Mary, help us!" Amadis said. "Which way did they take her?"

"Next to the town is the fastest road," the dwarf said.

Amadis spurred the horse and began to ride in that direction as rapidly as he could, so furious that he could not even speak to his brother, who followed him. Together, they passed the city of London as fast as their horses could carry them, and they stopped for nothing, except when Amadis asked those whom he saw where Oriana had been taken, and they pointed the way.

His squire Gandalin passed below the windows where the Queen and many other women were, and the Queen called him and threw him the King's sword, which was one of the best that any knight ever wore on his belt, and told him:

"Give this sword to thy lord, and may God help him with it, and tell him and Galaor that the King left this morning with a damsel and has not returned, and we do not know where she took him."

Gandalin took the sword and left as fast as he could. Amadis, who paid no attention to where he was going due to his great worry and grief, missed the ford through a stream and tried to jump to the other side further on. His horse, which was tired, could not do it and fell into the mud. Amadis got off and pulled it by the reins.

There Gandalin caught up, gave him the King's sword, and said how the Queen had given it to him. Amadis took Gandalin's horse and returned to the road, with Galaor behind him. He rode until he found some tracks where it seemed some knights had gone, and waited for his brother. They left the road and followed the trail, and soon they found some loggers. The peasants had seen the King and Oriana in trouble, but they had not known who they were nor had they dared to come near them. Instead they had hidden in some thick brush. One of them said:

"Knights, do ye come from London?"

"Why do ye ask?" Galaor said.

"Because there they might be missing a knight or damsel," he said, "for here we saw something fateful."

Then they told how they had seen Oriana and the King, and the brothers learned then that the King and been taken prisoner by treachery.

Amadis said:

"Do ye know who they were and who attacked the King?"

"No," one of them said, "but I heard the damsel who brought him here shout to one Arcalaus."

"Oh, my lord God!" Amadis said. "May it please You to bring me to that traitor!"

The peasants showed them which way the ten knights had taken the King and the five Oriana. And one of them said:

"One of the five was the best knight I have ever seen."

"Why, that was the traitor Arcalaus," Amadis said. And he said to Galaor, "My lord brother, go ye after the King, and may God guide you and me."

He spurred his horse and went one way, and Galaor went as fast as he could the way the King had been taken.

Amadis left his brother and rode so hard that at sunset, he could not make his horse go faster than a walk. Full of worry, he saw to his right next to the road a dead knight with a squire at his side who held the reins of a grand horse. Amadis came to him and said:

"My friend, who killed this knight?"

The squire said, "He was killed by a traitor, who passed here and was carrying away by force the most beautiful damsels in the world. He killed my lord for no reason, only because he asked who they were, and I cannot find anyone to help me take him from here."

Amadis told him:

"I shall leave my squire here to help thee, and give me this horse, and I promise to give thee two better horses for it."

The squire agreed. Amadis got on the horse, which was very handsome, and told Gandalin:

"Help this squire, and when thou hast left the knight in some town, return to this road and come after me."

Then he left and began to ride down the road as fast as he could, and close to dawn found himself in a valley where he saw a hermitage, and he went to it to see if anyone lived there. He found a hermit and asked him if five knights carrying two damsels had passed there.

"My lord," the good man said, "they did not, as far as I saw, but did ye see that castle over there?"

"No," Amadis said. "Why do ye ask?"

"Because," he said, "a young man just left there, my nephew, and he told me that Arcalaus the Sorcerer is staying there, and he brought with him some beautiful damsels by force."

"By God!" Amadis said. "That is the traitor that I seek!"

"Truly," the hermit said, "he has done much evil on this earth, and may God take such a vile man from the world or correct him. But do ye not bring anyone to help you?"

"No," Amadis said, "only the help of God."

"My lord," the hermit said, "did ye not say that there were five knights, and that Arcalaus is the best knight in the world, and he is fearless?"

"Be he as he may," Amadis said, "he is an arrogant traitor, as those with him surely are as well, so I shall not fear them."

Then the hermit asked who the damsel was, and Amadis told him. The hermit said:

"Oh, may Holy Mary help you! Such a good lady ought not be in the power of such a vile man."

"Do ye have some barley for this horse?" Amadis said.

"Yes," he said, "and I shall gladly give you it."

While the horse ate, Amadis asked him to whom the castle belonged. The good man said:

"It belongs to a knight called Gruman, the first cousin of Dardan, the one who was killed at the court of King Lisuarte, and I believe that this is why those who despise King Lisuarte are staying there."

"Now may God be with you," Amadis said, "and I ask you to keep me in your prayers, and to show me the road that leads to this castle."

The good man showed it to him, and Amadis rode until he arrived there and saw that it had high walls and thick towers. He came close to it but did not hear anyone speaking inside, which pleased him, for he realized that Arcalaus had not yet left. He rode around the castle and saw that it had only one gate. Then he withdrew among some rocks, got off the horse, took its reins, and was still, always keeping his eyes on the gate, as one who had no desire for sleep.

When dawn broke, he mounted this horse and moved further back into a valley, for he feared that if he were seen, they would not leave the castle, suspecting that even more men awaited outside. He went up on a knoll covered with tall, thick brush. Then he saw a knight leave the gate of the castle and go up an even higher hill and survey the land all around. After that, he returned to the castle, and soon he saw Arcalaus leave with his four companions, all well armed. With them the very beautiful Oriana.

He said:

"Oh, God! Now and always help me and guide me to protect her."

Then, Arcalaus and the others passed very close to Amadis, and Oriana was saying:

"My beloved lord, now I shall never see you, because soon my death shall come to me."

Tears came to Amadis's eyes. He rode down the knoll as fast as he could and came upon them as they entered a wide field. He said:

"Oh, Arcalaus, traitor, thou art not fit to carry off such a fine lady!"

Oriana, who recognized the voice of her beloved, trembled all over. Arcalaus and the others charged at him, and he at them. His lance hit Arcalaus, who rode ahead, so hard that he knocked him to the earth over the haunches of his horse. Some of the others hit Amadis but the rest failed. He rode past them, turned his horse fast, and struck Grumen, the lord of the castle, who was one of the knights, and the iron tip and the shaft of the lance came out of his back. He fell dead, and the lance was broken.

Then Amadis put his hand on the King's sword and charged at the others. He fought them with such courage and wrath that the blows he gave them were amazing. Strength and burning courage rose in him, and he rode so bravely and nimbly that it seemed that if the field had been full of knights, they would not have been able to endure and defend themselves against his good sword.

As he did such wonders as ye hear, the Damsel of Denmark said to Oriana:

"My lady, ye are saved, for here is our heaven-sent knight. Look at the amazing things he is doing."

Then Oriana said:

"Oh, my beloved! God help you and keep you, for no one else in the world shall help us nor is more worthy."

The squire who had her on his horse said:

"Truly, I shall not have the blows that those helmets and suits of mail cannot resist nor stop fall on my head." He put her on the ground and fled as fast as he could.

Amadis, who rode among the knights at his will, gave one such a blow on the arm that it fell to the earth, and that knight began to flee, shouting with the ravings of death. He attacked another whose helmet he had already knocked from his head, and his sword cut through to his neck. When the remaining knight saw the destruction of his companions, he began to flee as fast as he could.

Amadis, who was chasing after him, heard his lady shout. He turned quickly and saw that Arcalaus had mounted again. He took Oriana by the arm and put her ahead of him on the saddle, and left with her as fast as he could. Amadis immediately went after him and overtook them while still in the wide field, but hesitated to strike, for the sword was such that he feared he would kill both Arcalaus and his lady. He struck him on the shoulders, but not with all his force. Still, he knocked off a piece of his chain mail and leather from his shoulder. Then Arcalaus, so he could leave faster, let Oriana fall to the earth, for he feared death.

Amadis told him:

"Why, Arcalaus, turn back and see if I am dead as thou didst say."

But the sorcerer did not want to believe it and threw his shield from his neck. Amadis leaned out and gave him a blow that cut the belt of his sword and his chain mail and his flesh, and the point of the sword reached the horse on its flank and cut deep, so the horse, in fear, began to gallop, and that soon it had gotten far away.

Amadis, despite how much he despised Arcalaus and wanted to kill him, did not go after him because he did not wish to abandon his lady. He returned to her, got off his horse, knelt before her, and kissed her hands. He said:

"Now may God do with me what He will, for my lady, I feared I would never see you again."

She was so frightened that she could not speak, and held him close, for she was terrified by the dead knights who were all around her. The Damsel of Denmark went to get Amadis's horse and saw Arcalaus's sword on the ground, picked it up, brought it to Amadis, and she said:

"Look, my lord, what a beautiful sword!"

He looked at it and saw it to be the one with which he had been cast into the sea and which Arcalaus had taken from him when he defeated Amadis by magic. And thus, as ye hear, while Amadis was seated next to his lady, who did not have the strength to stand up, Gandalin arrived, who had spent the entire night traveling, having left the dead knight in a hermitage.

They were very glad to see him, but he was just has happy to see that the danger had been resolved. Then Amadis ordered him to put the Damsel of Denmark on one of the horses that was loose, and he put Oriana on the Damsel's palfrey, and they could not have been more happy as they left. Amadis led his lady's horse by the reins, and she told him how she was so frightened of the dead knights that she could not turn around, but he said:

"Much more frightening and cruel is the death that I would suffer for you. And my lady, feel sorrow for me and remember what ye have promised me. If that has sustained me to this point, it is only because I believed it was not in your hands or your power to give me more than ye had given me. But here and now, my lady, finding yourself in such freedom, if ye do not help me, now nothing would be enough to keep me alive, and I would be brought down by the most hungry hope that ever killed anyone."

Oriana said:

"In good faith, my beloved, never because of me, if I can help it, would you be put in this danger. I shall do what ye wish. Do it, and although it may seem here like an error and sin, it shall not be thus before God."

So they rode three leagues until they entered a thick forest of trees that was a league away from a village. Oriana felt very tired, as someone who had not slept at all the night before, and she said:

"My dear, I am so sleepy that I cannot go on."

"My lady," he said, "let us go to that valley, and ye shall sleep."

And they left the road and went to a valley, where they found a small stream and very fresh green grass. There Amadis helped his lady from her horse and said:

"My lady, the afternoon is becoming very warm. Sleep here until it becomes cooler. Meanwhile, I shall send Gandalin to the village to bring us something to refresh us."

"If he goes," Oriana said, "who will give him anything?"

Amadis said:

"They will give him something in exchange for the horse, and he shall return on foot."

"Not like that," she said. "Instead, take this ring, for it will never be worth as much to us as it is now." She took it from her finger and gave it to Gandalin.

As he was leaving, he said quietly to Amadis, "My lord, he who has a chance and loses it, shall regret it later." And having said this, he left, and Amadis understood well why he had said it.

Oriana lay on the cloak of the Damsel, while Amadis removed his armor and the Damsel helped him, which he needed. After he was disarmed, she went to sleep in some thick brush.

Amadis turned to his lady, and when he saw her so beautiful and in his possession, having given herself to his will, he was so struck by joy and shyness that he did not dare even to gaze at her. So it could well be said that in that green grass, on that cloak, more by the quiet grace of Oriana rather than the bold courage of Amadis, did the most beautiful maiden in the world become a woman.

And though they thought that with it, the flames of their passion would be cooled, instead they grew even bigger, brighter, and stronger, as will happen with healthy and true love. Thus they were together in loving acts, which he and she whose hearts have been wounded by similar arrows of love can understand and share, until Gandalin's return made Amadis arise.

He called to the Damsel and asked them to prepare something to eat, which they all needed. There, though they had no staff of servants nor grand gold and silver dinnerware, nothing could diminish the sweet delight that that meal gave them in the green grass. And so, as ye hear, the two lovers enjoyed such pleasure than neither the one nor the other would have left that forest for the rest of their lives if need and shame would have permitted.

We shall leave them there to rest and be happy, while we tell what happened to Sir Galaor as he sought the King.

1 comment:

  1. Here is a tapestry made in Amsterdam in 1590 that illustrates the events of this chapter.