Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Chapter 55 [middle part]

[How Beltenebros was challenged by ten knights to joust, and what happened to them.] 

[Illustration for the month of May from The Très Riches Heures du Duc de Berry.]

Beltenebros saw Enil, his squire, who was holding Sir Cuadragante's horse and was very happy and joyful at the blessing that God had given his lord. Beltenebros mounted the horse and give his arms to Enil and returned to the road, but he had not traveled far before he found a damsel hunting with a falcon, and three other damsels with her who had seen the battle and heard every word that had been spoken.

When they saw how injured he was and how he needed to rest, they begged him to go with her to her castle where he would have everything at his service in payment for the will that he had shown to serve their lord the King. He agreed, because he was in great pain from his labors. But when they got there, he checked to see if he was injured, and he found no other wound besides the small one on his nipple, which had bled a lot. After three days he left there and rode the entire day without finding adventure, and that night he stayed at the house of a man who lived near the road.

The next day he rode until noon and climbed a hill, from which he saw the city of London, and to his right the castle of Miraflores, where his lady Oriana was. When he saw that, he felt great joy in his soul. Then he spent a while thinking about how he could separate from Enil, and said to him:

"Dost thou know this land where we are?"

"Yes, I do," he said. "London is in that valley, where King Lisuarte is."

"Are we so close to London?" he said. "Well, I do not wish to make myself known to the King nor anyone else until my deeds merit it, for, as thou seest, I am a young man, and I have not done much that could be considered worthy. But since we are so close to London, go to see that squire Gandalin that Durin gave thee regards from, and learn what they say in the court about me, and when the battle with King Cildadan will be."

"How can I leave you alone?" Enil said.

"Do not worry," he said, "for at times I am accustomed to traveling with no one else, but first, I want us to decide on some place where thou shalt find me."

Then they continued on their way, and soon they saw two tents standing alongside a river, and between those two a third which was very fine. Knights and damsels were relaxing in front of them. He saw five shields at the doorway of one tent, and five more at the other tent, thus ten armed knights, but since he had no reason to joust with them, he left the road that led to them.

The knights at the tents called him to come and joust.

"I do not wish to joust now," he said, "for ye are many and rested, and I am alone and tired."

"But I think," one of them said, "that ye avoid fighting out of fear of losing your horse."

"And why would I lose it?" he said.

"Because it would belong to the one who knocks you from it," the knight said. "It is more certain that we would win than you."

"Well, if that is how it must be," Beltenebros said, "I would rather ride on it than place it at risk." And he began to ride away from them again.

The knights told him:

"It seems to us, knight, that your arms are better protected by pretty words than by the courage of your heart. You could keep them to put on your tomb, though ye may live for a hundred years."

"Ye may think of me as ye will," he said, "and nothing ye say shall diminish my skills, whatever they are."

"May God now grant ye the sudden urge to fight," one of them said, "and ye shall not seek refuge on this horse as a penalty for being a traitor, or this year I shall not mount another."

Beltenebros said:

"My good lord, I doubt that, and that is why I am going another way."

All of them began to say:

"Oh, Holy Mary help us, what a frightened knight!"

But he did not reply and went on his way, and when he came to a ford in the river that he wanted to cross, he heard someone tell him:

"Stop, knight!"

He looked to see who it was and saw a well-attired damsel on a beautiful palfrey, who came up to him and said:

"My lord knight, in that tent is Leonoreta, the daughter of King Lisuarte, and she and all the damsels beg you to joust with those knights. Do this for their love, for ye are more obligated by their request by that of the knights."

"What," he said, "the daughter of the King is there?"

"My lord, yes," she said.

"I am sorry to have enmity with those knights, for I would prefer to serve her, but since she orders it, I must ask that those knights do not ask for anything more than a joust from me."

The damsel returned with his request and Beltenebros took up his arms. Returning to the tents, he found a good, flat field and waited there, and soon he saw the knight come who had said he would not let him leave on his horse unless he jousted with him. Beltenebros had thought a lot about him, so he was glad to see that he was the first. When he got closer, they let their horses charge as fast as they could. The knight broke his lance, and Beltenebros struck him so hard that he threw him out of the saddle to roll around on the field.

He ordered Enil to take his horse, and the knight remained broken from the fall, senseless, and came to groaning and thrashing on the ground, as one who had three ribs and a hip broken.

Beltenebros told him:

"My lord knight, if your word is true, for the next year ye will not fall again from a horse, as ye had promised if ye did not win mine."

At this point, he saw that another knight come to joust, shouting at Beltenebros to protect himself, so he charged at him and knocked him down like the first one. He did the same to the third and the fourth, and on that one he broke his lance, but the knight was badly hurt, for the lance had passed through his shield and his arm. Beltenebros had all their horses taken and tied to the branches of some trees, and since he had knocked down those four knights, he wanted to leave, but he saw another knight coming, ready to joust. He brought a squire who carried four lances, and he said:

"My lord knight, Leonoreta sends you these lances, and sends word to do with them what ye must with the knights that remain, since ye knocked down their companions."

Beltenebros said:

"For the love of Leonoreta, who is daughter of such a good king, I shall do what she orders, but for the knights I tell you that I would do nothing, since I hold them very unjust to make knights who are going on their way fight against their will."

He took a lance and charged at the knight and knocked him down like the others, and so he did against all of them, except the last, who jousted with him twice and broke two lances against him, but could not move him from his saddle, until finally Beltenebros knocked him down like the others. And if anyone were to ask who he was, I say it was Nicoran of the Fearful Bridge, who at that time was one of the best jousters in the Kingdom of Great Britain.

Having completed these jousts, as ye have heard, he sent all the horses he had won to Leonoreta, and ordered her to tell her knights either to be more courteous to those who passed them on the road or to joust better, for a knight might come who could make them wind up traveling on foot. The knights were so ashamed of what had happened that they did not reply. They were amazed that they were knocked down by a single knight, and they could not imagine who he was, for none had seen a knight who wore arms with those colors.

Nicoran said:

"If Amadis were alive and well, I would say he was him, for I do not know of any other knight who could leave us in this condition."

"Truly," said Galiseo, "it must not be him, for one of us would have recognized him, and especially because he would not wish to joust, for he knows us all as his friends."

Giontes, nephew of the King, said:

"If God were pleased to have him be Amadis, He used him well to give us shame, but whoever he is, may God give him good fortune wherever he goes, for although he rightly won our horses, he was good enough to return them to us."

"May he be cursed," said Lasanor, "for I am suffering from broken ribs and a broken hip, but it is my fault, for I and no one else sought my own harm." That knight was the first to joust.

Beltenebros left them and felt very happy about how what had happened, and he went on his way talking with Enil and looking at the lance that he had acquired, which seemed very good. It was hot and the jousting had made him thirsty, and when he had gone a quarter of a league, he saw a hermitage covered with trees, and he went there to pray and to drink water. He saw three palfreys at the gate with saddles for damsels and another two for squires. He dismounted and entered, but he saw no one inside, and he prayed from his heart to God and the Virgin Mary. When he left the hermitage, he saw three damsels under some trees at a spring, and the squires with them, and they told him:

"Knight, are ye of the court of King Lisuarte?"

"My good damsels," he said, "I would like to be such a knight that they would want me in his company. But as for you, where are you going?"

"To Miraflores," they said, "to see our aunt who is abbess of a convent, and to see Oriana, the daughter of King Lisuarte. We decided to rest here until the heat passed."

"In the name of God," he said, "I shall keep you company until it is time to leave." And he asked them about the name of that spring.

"We do not know," they said, "nor of any other that is in this forest, except for the one in that valley next to those big trees, which is called the Spring with Three Streams."

They showed him the valley nearby, but he knew it better than them, for he had often traveled there hunting, and he wanted that spring to be the place where Enil would look for him, from whom he wanted to separate so he could go see his lady.

So they were speaking, as ye hear, and soon they saw a cart coming along the same road on which Beltenebros had traveled. Twelve palfreys pulled the cart, and two dwarfs on it guided them. In it they saw many armed knights in chains, and their shields hung from its sides, and among them were beautiful damsels and girls who were wailing. In front of the cart came a giant so huge that he was terrifying to see, riding on a black horse and wearing strong plate armor and a helmet that shined brightly. He carried a long iron spear. Behind the cart rode another giant who was even bigger and more frightening than the first.

The damsels with Beltenebros were so frightened that they hid among the trees. The giant in front turned to the dwarfs and told them:

"I shall tear you into a thousand pieces unless ye make sure the damsels do not spill their blood, for I wish to make a sacrifice with it to the god I worship."

When Beltenebros heard this, he knew that was Famongomadan, who had a custom that he would never abandon, which was to cut the throats of many damsels in front of an idol that he kept at the Boiling Lake, by whose advice and declarations he was guided in all things. He kept it content with those sacrifices, since the Evil Enemy could be satisfied with such vile works.

Although Beltenebros had wanted to fight with him for what he had said about Oriana, he had not wanted to find him until he had passed the night with his lady, as had been arranged, and he was tired after having jousted with those ten knights. But since he knew the knights in the cart, and Leonoreta and the damsels with them, he felt great sorrow to see them, and he knew how it would hurt his lady if such ill fortune were to befall her sister. It seemed likely that, after he had departed from the jousts, as ye have heard, leaving those knights injured, those two giants soon arrived, father and son, who had challenged King Lisuarte. They had taken the knights and damsels and put them, as ye heard, into the cart which they brought with them to carry any prisoners they could take.

Beltenebros immediately mounted his horse and asked Enil to give him his arms, who told him:

"Why do ye want them? First let those devils go past."

"Give me them," Beltenebros said, "for before they go past, I wish to test the mercy of God, and if whether will please Him to have me put an end to the labors of these enemies of His."

"Oh, my lord," he said, "why do ye want to end the joy of your youth? Even the twenty best knights that King Lisuarte has would fail here, and they would not dare to do this."

"Do not worry," he said, "for if this went past me and I did not do what I could, I would not be fit to appear before good men. Thou shalt see what my fate will be."

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