Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chapter 52

How the Damsel of Denmark left to search for Amadis, and how by fortune and after much labor, she docked at Poor Rock, where Amadis had the name of Beltenebros, and how they came to see his lady Oriana. 

[Illustration from Le recueil des histoires de Troye (The Book of the History of Troy), a French courtly romance written by Raoul le Fèvre in about 1464. Le Fèver was chaplain to Philip III "the Good," Duke of Burgundy. The book is now in the Bibliothèque Nacionale de France.] 

The Damsel of Denmark was with the Queen of Scotland for ten days, not so much because it pleased her but because the sea was stormy and dangerous. In addition, she had not heard news about Amadis in that land, where she had come with much hope to learn something, and she thought that bringing a poor notice to her lady would result in her death.

She bid farewell, gathered the gifts the Queen was sending to Queen Brisena and Oriana and her daughter Mabilia, and took to the sea to return from her errand without good fortune, but not knowing what more to do.

But when people seem to be without hope and aid, the Lord of the world wishes to show something of His power to make it understood to all that no one, no matter how wise or discrete, cannot be helped without His help. He changed her voyage, to the great fear and tribulation of herself and all those in the ship, to give them the end she sought with joy and good fortune.

So it was that the sea became rough, and a storm without comparison befell them. They rode the waves without a rudder or course, with sailors' intuition completely lost, and they had no confidence their lives would be saved. Finally one morning, as dawn broke, they docked at the foot of Poor Rock, which the sailors recognized, and some of them knew of Andalod, the holy hermit who lived in the hermitage at the peak.

They told that to the Damsel of Denmark, and because the danger had passed and certain death had given way to life, she ordered that they take her to the top of the peak so that, hearing Mass from that good man, she could give thanks to the Virgin Mary for the mercy her glorious Son had given them.

At that time, Beltenebros was at the spring below the trees as ye have heard, where he spent the nights, and his health had reached such a point where he did not expect to live two weeks more. From so much weeping and loss of weight, his face was sunken and dark, more than it would have been from a grave illness, and as a result no one could have recognized him.

He looked at the ship for a while and saw that a damsel and two squires were climbing up the peak, but now his thoughts were only in seeking death, and everything that until then he would have taken great pleasure in, such as seeing new people and getting to know them and helping them in their fortune, and anything like it, was abhorred in his great desperation.

He went to the hermitage and said to the hermit:

"It seems people have left a ship and are coming to you."

And he knelt before the altar and prayed, begging God to have mercy on his soul, which soon would be given to His account. The hermit dressed to say Mass, and the Damsel with Durin and Enil entered the door, praying, and then they removed the veil she wore over her face.

Beltenebros, after praying a while, rose and turned toward them, and he recognized the Damsel and Durin. His alteration was so great that he could not remain on his feet and fell on the ground as if dead. When the hermit saw that, he thought Beltenebros was at the final point of his life and said:

"Oh, Lord almighty, why hast Thou not taken pity on this man who could do so much in Thy service?"

Many tears fell down his white beard, and he said:

"Good damsel, have these men help me take this man to his room, for this is the final good deed ye could do for him."

Then Enil and Durin, with the hermit, took him to the house where he stayed and put him in a poor and simple bed, and neither of them recognized him.

The Damsel heard Mass, and wishing to eat on land, for the sea was still rough, happened to ask the hermit who the man was who suffered from such a grave illness. The good man told her:

"He is a knight who is doing penance here."

"His guilt must be great," she said, "if he wished to do it in a place so difficult."

"It is as ye say," he said, "but he does it more for the vain and fleeting things of this world than for service to God."

"I wish to see him," the Damsel said, "for ye tell me that he is a knight, and I can give him some things I bring in the ship that may give him aid."

"Do so," the good man said, "but I believe that his death is so near that it shall save you the trouble."

Alone, the damsel entered the room where Beltenebros was. He was unable to decide what to do, for if he let her recognize him, he would be disobeying his lady, but if not, then she, who was the only remaining help for his life, would leave him with no hope at all if she left without recognizing him. In the end, thinking it worse to anger his lady than to suffer death, decided not to make himself known in any way.

The Damsel came close to the bed and said:

"Good man, according to the hermit ye are a knight, and because damsels are much obliged to all knights for the great dangers in which they place themselves for our defense, I thought to see you and leave everything here from the supplies on the ship that ye need for your health."

He did not respond, yet he sobbed and groaned such that the damsel thought his soul would leave his flesh, and she felt great sorrow. Because there was little light in the room, she opened a small window that was closed and came to the bed to see if he was dead and began to study him, and he her, still weeping and sobbing. She stood there a while but never recognized him because she did not think to find the one she sought in such a place as that.

But when she saw a scar on his face that Arcalaus the Sorcerer had caused with the blade of his lance when he had taken Oriana from him, as has been told to you in the first book, she was reminded of what she had never expected to see there, and she recognized him clearly as Amadis. She said:

"Why, Holy Mary, help me! What is this that I see! Oh, my lord, ye are the one for whom I have made so much effort!"

And she fell on her face against the bed, and knelt and kissed his hands again and again, and told him:

"My lord, now ye must have pity and forgiveness against she who wronged you, whose evil suspicions put you unjustly in such straits. Because of that, she is rightly suffering a life more bitter than death."

Beltenebros took her in his arms and held her without being able to speak. She gave him the letter and said:

"Your lady sent you this, and would have me tell you that if ye are the Amadis that ye were, that she loves you so much that if ye can forget what has passed, soon ye shall be with her in her castle in Miraflores, where with much pleasure she shall made amends. Her overwhelming love for you has caused your pain and anguish."

He took the letter, and after kissing it many times, he put it over his heart and said:

"Oh, tormented heart, for so long and with so much anguish thou has shed so many tears, yet thou hast been able to sustain yourself almost up to the straits of cruel death. Receive this medicine, for nothing else could save thy health. Disperse these clouds of great gloom that up to now have covered thee. Take strength in how thou canst serve thy lady to prepay her mercy for taking thee from death."

Then he opened the letter to read it, and it said:

Letter from Oriana to Amadis

"If great errors done with enmity are worthy to be pardoned when they are changed into humility, then what shall become of those that were caused by an excess of love? Even so, my true beloved, I admit that I do not deserve much pity. Just as one ought to consider that in prosperity and happiness lie the reversals of fortune to place one in poverty, I rightly ought to have considered your discretion and your honesty, which up until now have never erred in anything. And above all my sad heart surrenders, for it is nothing unless it is enclosed by yours, and if it senses that by chance some of your ardor has cooled, mine has been the cause for which the mortal desires that it desires have subsided.

"But I erred as those women whose good fortune and great certainty in those they love was too much for them to bear, and more willfully than reasonably they take the words of innocent or lying people of little truth and less virtue, and try to obscure their great joy with the cloud of little sufferance. So, my loyal lover, as a guilty person who recognizes her error with humility, receive my damsel, who besides the letter will give you news of the extremity that my life is in, for which, not because it deserves it but because it may aid your own, ye may have pity."

Having read the letter, Beltenebros's happiness was so extreme that, just as in the past he had fainted with sorrow, he fainted now, unable to feel the tears falling down his cheeks. He soon made it known to all that he wanted those who had came with the Damsel, as a service to God, to take him from that place, where he could not get care for his health. This was done, and within the hour they had returned to the ship and headed for the shore.

But first Beltenebros bid farewell to the hermit and told him how that Damsel, by the mercy of God and great fortune, was brought there for his recovery. He implored him to take charge of the reformation of the monastery that he had promised to make at the foot of the cliff on Firm Island. He agreed, and Amadis headed out to sea, and only the Damsel knew who he was.

They arrived at land and the sailors said farewell to the Damsel. She and her company began to travel toward where her lady was. They found a village on a riverbank with many fine and beautiful trees, and at the Damsel's request they rested there so that Beltenebros could recover somewhat from his weakness.

And if his longing for his lady had not tormented him, he could have had a more agreeable life for his health there than in other part of the world, because beneath those trees, at the feet of which the springs flowed, he had dinner and supper. They spent the nights in the lodgings they had in the village.

There Amadis and the Damsel spoke of things in the past, and there she told him how his lady Oriana wailed and mourned when Durin returned after bringing him the letter, and how neither she nor Mabilia had known what she had written in it.

Beltenebros told her about his sufferings and the life he had had on Poor Rock, and the many and diverse memories that occurred to him each day. He told how Corisanda had come, the lover of his brother Sir Florestan, and the great anguish she had suffered for him. When he saw how she was dying for her beloved and knew how he himself had been discarded and abhorred by his own lover for no reason, it made him approach death more quickly. He told how he had taught Corisanda's damsels the song that he had written and many other things that would be lengthy to recount.

And so, now being free of the cruel death that had awaited him, he felt such joy that after the ten days that they rested there, he was so improved that his heart ordered him to take up arms. He made himself known to Durin, and took Enil, a nephew of Sir Gandales, his foster father, as his squire, without Enil knowing who he was nor whom he served, though Enil was content with him for his kind words.

They left there and after traveling four days, they arrived at a monastery of lay sisters near a fine town, where they agreed that the Damsel and Durin would leave, and he would stay with Enil awaiting orders from his lady. And so they did, and the Damsel left Beltenebros with the money he would need for arms and a horse and clothing. She deliberately forgot some of the gifts with him so that, when it was noticed, Durin could return with the reply.

She went on her way straight to Miraflores, where she expected to find her lady Oriana, given what she had said before the Damsel had left.

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