Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Chapter 48 [middle part]

How Amadis came to be called Beltenebros and went to Poor Rock.

[Detail of the Fiesole Altarpiece painted by Fra Angelico in 1424-1425.] 

Amadis rode all night and the next day until vespers. Then he entered a great meadow at the foot of the mountain, and in it there were two tall trees next to a spring. He went there to give his horse water, for he had ridden all day without finding any, and when he arrived at the spring, he saw a man of religious orders, his hair and beard white, who was giving water to his ass, and who wore a very simple habit of goat hair.

Amadis greeted him and asked if he was a priest. The good man told him that he had been one for a good forty years.

"May God have mercy!" Amadis said. "Now I ask you to remain here tonight and hear my penance, which I need very much."

"In the name of God," the good man said.

Amadis dismounted and put his arms on the ground, took the saddle from his horse, and let it graze in the grass. He removed his armor and knelt in front of the good man and began to kiss his feet. The good man took him by the hand and raised him up to sit next to him and saw how he was the most handsome knight that he had ever seen in his life, but how he was pale and his face and chest were bathed by the tears that he wept. He felt sad for him and said:

"Knight, it seems that ye have great sorrow, and if it is for some sin that ye have done and these tears are repentant, in a good hour ye were born to this world. But if your cause is some temporal thing, which due to your age and looks may be likely, think of God and ask mercy from He who brought you to His service."

And he raised his hand and blessed him and said:

"Now recount all the sins that ye can recall."

Amadis did so, telling him his life story, and left out nothing.

The good man told him:

"Due to your education and the high lineage from which ye come, ye should not kill yourself nor lose anything due you, especially over women, who are easily won and lost. I advise you to cease to think of such things and give up your madness, which ye do not do out of love of God, who is not pleased by such things. Even for worldly reasons ye ought to do so, for no man can nor ought to love someone who does not love him."

"My good lord," Amadis said, "I am injured to such a point that I cannot live much longer, and I beg you, by the mighty Lord whose faith ye keep, that it please you to take me with you for the little time that remains, and I shall take your counsel for my soul, and since now I shall have no need of my arms nor my horse, I shall leave them here and go with you on foot, doing whatever penance ye order. And if ye do not do this, ye do wrong to God, because I shall wander lost on this mountain without finding anyone to help me."

The good man, who saw him so prepared to do good with all his heart, told him:

"Truly, my lord, it is not proper for such a knight to abandon himself, as if all the world has failed you, and much less over a woman, whose love is never more lasting than what they hold in their sight and the words that they hear said to them, and when those pass, then they forget, especially in those false loves they enter into contrary to the service of the Lord. The same sin that engenders them sweet and delightful at first, later makes them cruel and bitter, as now ye have seen.

"And ye are outstanding and have land and lordship over many people, and are a loyal advocate and protector of all men and women who are wronged. Because ye do so much and so rightly, it would be a great misfortune and a harm and loss to the world if ye were to abandon them. I do not know who she is who has brought you to such a state, but it seems to me that if in only one woman were found all the goodness and beauty that were in all others,  such a man as you should not be lost over her."

"My good lord," Amadis said, "I do not seek counsel about that, for I do not need it, but I ask you to advise my soul and that it please you to take me with you, and if ye do not, I have no other remedy but to die on this mountain."

The good man began to weep with great sorrow, and tears fell down his beard, which was long and white, and he said:

"My son and lord, I dwell in a place very isolated and difficult to live in, which is a hermitage  a full seven leagues out in the sea on a high rock with cliffs so sheer that no boat can dock there except in summer. I have lived there thirty years, and he who would live there must leave behind the delights and pleasures of the world. I survive by the alms that people on land give me."

"All that," Amadis said, "is to my liking, and it would please me to pass such little life as remains for me with you. I beg you for the love of God to grant me this."

The good man granted this much against his will, and Amadis told him:

"Now tell me what to do, father, and I shall be obedient in everything."

The good man gave Amadis his blessing and said vespers, then he took bread and fish from his saddlebags and told Amadis to eat, but he did not, although he had spent three days without eating.

The priest said:

"Ye are in my command, and I order you to eat, and if not, your soul will be in great peril if you die."

Then Amadis ate, although very little, for he could not free himself from his great anguish. And when it was time to sleep, the good man lay down on his cloak and Amadis at his feet, but all night he did nothing more that toss and turn and sigh with sorrow. But finally, tired and overcome by exhaustion, he slept, and he dreamed he had been locked in a dark room and could see nothing. He could not find the way out and his heart felt troubled. Then it seemed that his cousin Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark came to him and before them there was a sunray that took away the darkness and lit the room. They took him by the hands and said:

"My lord, leave this great palace," and they seemed to have great joy, and when he left he saw his lady Oriana surrounded by great tongues of fire, and he shouted:

"Holy Mary, help her!" He ran through the fire but did not feel a thing, and he took her in his arms and carried her to a garden, the most green and beautiful that he had ever seen.

His shouts woke the good man, who took him by the hand and asked him what was the matter. He said:

"My lord, I was sleeping with great anguish and almost died."

"So it seemed by your shouts," he said, "but it is time for us to go."

Then he mounted his ass and got on the road. Amadis went on foot with him, but the good man made him mount his horse, which he did only on orders, and thus they left together as ye hear. Amadis begged him that he grant him a favor that would cost him nothing, which he readily agreed to. Amadis asked him that while he lived with him not to tell anyone who he was nor anything about his situation and not to call him by name but by some other that he chose, and when he was dead, to notify his brothers so that they could take him to his land.

"Your life and death is in God," he said, "and do not speak any more of it, for He will give ye help if ye know Him and serve and love Him as ye ought. But tell me, what name would ye wish to have?"

"The one that ye hold to be good," he said.

The good man looked at him and how handsome and well built he was and how he was suffering, and he said:

"I wish to give ye a name that conforms to your personage and to your anguish, for ye are young and handsome and your life has been placed in bitterness and in gloom. I wish ye to have the name Beltenebros [Handsome Gloom]."

Amadis was pleased and held the good man to be wise for having given him such a reasonable name, and he was called by that name for as long as he lived with him, and for a long time afterwards he was praised by it no less than he was by Amadis for the great things that he did, as shall be told further on.

So speaking about this and other things, they arrived at the sea after night had fallen, and they found a ship there to take the good man to his hermitage. Beltenebros gave his horse to the sailors, and they gave him a leather tunic and tabard of thick brown wool. They boarded the boat and went to the rock, and Beltenebros asked the good man what they called the place when he lived and what his name was.

"The place," he said, "is called Poor Rock, because there no one can live except in great poverty, and my name is Andalod, and I was a very learned cleric and spent my youth in great vanity, but God, by His mercy, made me understand that those who serve Him have great difficulties and obstacles in dealing with people. Due to our weakness, we are inclined to evil instead of good, and that is why I decided to retreat to place with such solitude, where I have spent thirty years and have never left it until now to go to my sister's interment."

Beltenebros was very taken by the solitude and isolation of that place, and thought that dying there would give him some rest. And so they sailed in the ship until they arrived at the rock. The hermit told the sailors:

"Go back."

They returned to shore in their ship, and Beltenebros considered the narrow and blessed life of the good man, and with many tears and groans not from devotion but from hopelessness, he believed that he could live there and bear everything with him for the rest of his life, which sadly would not be long.

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