Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Chapter 55 [first part]

How Beltenebros ordered arms and equipment made so he could go see his lady Oriana, and the adventures that happened to him on the road, defeating Sir Cuadragante and the giants Famongomadan and Basagante. 

[13th century Jewish representation of David and Goliath from France.]

Returning to Beltenebros, who was waiting at a convent for orders from his lady, the story says that now much of his health and strength had returned due to his great contentment. He ordered Enil to go to the village nearby and have some arms made with a green field and as many golden lions as could fit on it, and a matching tabard, and to buy a good horse and a sword and the best chain mail he could. Enil went to the village and did all that he had been told, and in the space of twenty days everything necessary had been supplied.

At this time, Durin arrived with the message he carried, which gave Beltenebros great pleasure, and in front of Enil he asked him how fared Durin's sister, the good Damsel of Denmark, and why he had come. Durin he said that the Damsel sent him her best regards, and that he had come for the two pieces of jewelry they had forgotten, which had been left between the cushions on which she had slept. And he told Enil that his cousin Gandalin sent him his greetings, and everything else that he had been instructed to say.

Beltenebros asked him who this Gandalin was.

"A squire and my cousin," he said, "who spent a long time serving a knight called Amadis of Gaul."

Then Beltenebros took Durin with him and walked through a plaza, asking him about news of his sister, but when they had gone a ways away, Durin told him the message from his lady, who was waiting for him at Miraflores, and she how had prepared well for him there, but he should come very secretly. And he told Beltenebros how his brothers and Agrajes were at the court, and how they would fight in the battle that King Lisuarte had set with King Cildadan of Ireland, and about the challenge that Famongomadan and the other giants and knights had made, and how they had demanded that Oriana be the damsel of Madasima and marry Basagante, son of Famongomadan.

When Beltenebros heard this, his flesh shook with the great ire within him, and his heart burned with rage, and he decided that until he saw his lady, he would not take upon himself another battle or quest except to look for Famongomadan and fight with him, and to either die or kill him over what he had said about Oriana.

After telling Beltenebros everything that ye have heard, Durin took the gifts, said goodbye, and returned, very happy because he had completed what he had come to do.

Beltenebros remained, giving many thanks to God because He had helped return the mercy of his lady to him, which, by losing, had placed his life in the extremity that we have told you. That night, he said farewell to the nuns, and an hour before dawn, he put on those new green arms and, on a beautiful strong horse, and with Enil, who carried his shield, helmet, and lance, he got on the road to go see his lady, whom he loved so much. As he rode down the road on that clear day, he spurred his horse and made it gallop from side to side in such a way that Enil, who was watching, was amazed and said:

"My lord, I know nothing of the burning of your heart, but I have never seen a knight who seemed so handsome when armed."

"The hearts of men," Beltenebros said, "do good things, not their appearances, but when God puts both together, He grants a great gift. And how that thou hast judged the appearance, judge the heart by what thou seest of its merits."

And so he went talking and laughing with him, since the great gloom that had hung over him had been dispersed, and he had been returned to the delight that he could not live without. They traveled that way until night, when they lodged at the home of an elderly knight, who did them many honors, and the next day, at his departure, Beltenebros wore his helmet on his head so as not to be recognized. He traveled seven days without finding adventure, but on the eighth it happened that, going past the foot of a mountain, he saw a knight so large and muscular that he could only be a giant coming down a side road on a grand bay horse, along with two squires who carried his arms. When he had neared, the large knight shouted at Beltenebros:

"Ye lowly knight who comes here, stay and go no further until I learn from you what I want to know."

Beltenebros waited in the wide field through which he had been traveling, and looked at the shield of the knight and saw that it had three flowers of gold on an indigo field, and recognized him as Sir Cuadragante. He had seen that shield displayed higher than the others on Firm Island because Cuadragante had gained the most honor in the test of the protected chamber. It troubled him because he had hoped to avoid him in battle, since he had planned to fight with Famongomadan and, due to that, wished to avoid all other fights, and because he wanted to fulfill the orders that his lady had sent, and he feared that the great skill of that knight might cause some problem.

He remained still, called Enil, and told him:

"Come to me and give me my arms if they are needed."

"God save you," Enil said, "for this man seems more like the devil than a knight to me."

"He is not the devil," Beltenebros said, "only a good knight about whom I have heard others speak."

At that, Sir Cuadragante arrived and told him:

"Knight, ye must tell me if ye serve King Lisuarte."

"Why do ye ask?" Beltenebros said.

"Because I have challenged him," Cuadragante said, "and not just him but all his men and friends, and I shall kill all of them that I meet."

Great anger came over Beltenebros, who told him:

"Are ye one of those who have challenged him?"

"I am," he said, "and I shall do all the harm I can to him and all his men."

"And what is your name?" Beltenebros said.

"My name is Sir Cuadragante," he said.

"Certainly, Cuadragante, however grand your lineage may be and however high your feats at arms, it is great madness to challenge the best king in the world. Knights must do what they should, and when they go beyond that, it should be taken more as madness than courage. I am not a vassal of this King of whom ye speak, nor native to his lands, but by his merits my heart is given to his service, so I may rightly be challenged by you, and if ye wish a battle, ye shall have it. If not, go on your way."

Sir Cuadragante told him:

"I well think, knight, that ye know little of me to speak to me with such daring and madness, and I ask ye to tell me your name."

"I am called Beltenebros," he said, "and with such a little-renowned name, ye know no more about me than before, but although I may be from a foreign and distant land, I have heard that ye seek Amadis of Gaul, and from what I know of him, ye are better off not finding him."

"What," said Sir Cuadragante, "ye hold him whom I disdain to be better than me? Know thou that thou hast found thy death. Take up thy arms, if thou darest defend thyself with them."

"Against others I would hesitate," Beltenebros said, "but not against you, due to your arrogance and threats."

Then, taking up their arms with great anger, they had their horses charge, and they met so hard that Beltenebros's horse almost fell, but Sir Cuadragante was knocked from his saddle, and each was hurt in the encounter. The nipple of Beltenebros's breast was cut by the blade of the lance, and the other knight was injured in the ribs, but the wound was slight, and he immediately arose, as one who was very brave and agile.

He put his hand on his sword and went at Beltenebros, who was straightening his helmet and so did not see him. Cuadragante struck the horse with the point of his sword and thrust half its length into its hindquarters, and the wound made it go bucking across the field. But Beltenebros immediately dismounted and, with his shield on his arm and his sword in hand, he went at Sir Cuadragante with great ire and bravery, because he had killed his horse, and said:

"Knight, ye did not show great courage in what ye did, but it shall be enough for he who will win victory in this battle."

Then they fought so bravely that it frightened those who watched, and the noise their swords made as they cut each other's armor was as if ten knights were fighting. At times they grabbed each other's arms to knock the other down, and so each one tested all his strength and valor against the other.

The squires watched them, very frightened to see such cruelty in the two knights, and they did not expect either could survive. And so they fought in their battle from the third hour [9 a.m.] until vespers [sunset], and neither knight rested nor spoke a word. But at that moment Sir Cuadragante was breathless from exhaustion and injured by a blow that Beltenebros had given him on his helmet, and he fell powerless and senseless on the field, as if he were dead. Beltenebros pulled the helmet from his head and to see if he were dead, but giving him air almost brought him back to his senses.

Amadis put the point of his sword in his face and told him:

"Cuadragante, think of thy soul, for thou art dead."

He had become more conscious and said:

"Oh, Beltenebros, I beg you, by God, let me live for the sake of my soul!"

He answered:

"If ye wish to live, declare that ye are defeated and that ye shall do what I order."

"I shall do your will," he said, "to save my life, but I rightly ought not to declare my defeat, for no one is defeated who showed no cowardice in defending himself and did all he could until he had no more strength or breath and fell at the feet of his enemy. Defeated is he who ceases to do all that he could for lack of spirit."

"Truly," Beltenebros said, "ye have spoken rightly, and I am pleased by what I have just learned about you. Give me your hand and pledge that ye shall do what I order."

He did so as best he could.

Then Beltenebros called the squires to watch and told him:

"I order you, by the agreement ye have made, to go immediately to the court of King Lisuarte and not to leave it until Amadis is there, the knight that ye are looking for. And when he comes, ye shall put yourself in his power and pardon him for the death of your brother, King Abies of Ireland, since, from what I know, they challenged each other of their own free will and entered in battle alone, so such death should not be avenged even among low men, and much less among those as yourself, given the great feats at arms that ye have done so virtuously. And I also order ye to retract your challenge of the King and all his men, and to take arms against no one in his service."

Cuadragante agreed to all that greatly against his will, but he did so out of his great fear of death, which was very close to him. Then he ordered his squires to make a litter and take him where Beltenebros had ordered so he could fulfill his promise.

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