Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Chapter 55 [final part]

[Which tells how Beltenebros challenged the giants Basagante and Famongomadan.] 

[A helmet on display at Prague Castle. Photo by Sue Burke.]


Beltenebros took his arms from Enil, who was sobbing, and rode down the hillside toward the giant. But before he arrived, he looked toward Miraflores and said:

"Oh, my lady Oriana, wherever I have been, I have never begun a great deed with my own strength, but with yours. Now, my good lady, help me, for I shall need it dearly."

With that it seemed to him that great strength came over him and made him lose all fear. He told the dwarfs to halt. When the giant heard this, he turned toward him with such rage that smoke came out of the visor of his helmet, and he shook the spear in his hands so that it bent double, and he said:

"Luckless wretch, who gave thee such courage that ye dare to appear before me?"

"The Lord Whom thou hast offended," Beltenebros said, "and Who will give me the strength today to break thy great arrogance."

"Then come, come," said the giant, "and ye shall see if your strength is enough to protect you from mine."

Beltenebros held the lance tightly under his arm and charged as fast as his horse could gallop, and he struck the strong plate armor beneath the giant's belt so hard that the force broke the plates, and the lance entered the giant's belly and came out the other side. The blow was so strong that the lance struck the back of the saddle and broke the girths, so that the saddle turned with the giant on it underneath his horse, and the giant had a piece of the lance stuck in his body. But before he fell, he threw the spear, and it struck the hindquarters of his horse and came out between its legs.

Beltenebros left the encounter as fast as he could and put his hand on his sword, but the giant was fatally injured, and the horse dragged him along beneath it, to his great injury. But with his strength, the giant quickly got out, removed the piece of lance and threw it at Beltenebros and hit him on the helmet and shield with such a blow that it almost knocked him to the earth. But with the force that the giant had used to throw it, the rest of his entrails came out of his wound, and he fell to the ground shouting:

"Help me, my son Basagante, and come quickly, for I am dead!"

With these shouts, Basagante arrived as fast as his horse could run, and he brought a heavy steel axe. He came at Beltenebros to strike him and chop him in two, but Beltenebros, with his great valor, protected himself from the blow with his shield. As he passed, he tried to injure the giant's horse but could not, and reached out with the point of his sword and cut the stirrup strap and part of the giant's leg.

The giant, in his great anger, did not feel it, although he felt that he had lost the stirrup, and turned toward him. Beltenebros took the shield from his neck and held it by the arm straps. The giant struck a great blow on it with his axe and knocked it to the earth, and Beltenebros struck him on the arm with his sword and cut plate armor and flesh, and the sword went under the fine steel plates and broke so that all that remained for Beltenebros was the hilt.

But this did not make him faint or lose his great heart. Instead he saw that the giant was trying to take the axe from the shield but could not no matter how hard he tried. Beltenebros's good fortune guided him to the side missing the stirrup, and as they both fought for the shield, the giant was turned around, and his horse bucked and ran off, so the giant fell to the ground.

The axe remained Beltenebros's hand. The giant got up with great effort and drew a long sword that he carried, wishing to charge at Beltenebros, but he could not because the nerves in his leg were cut, and he fell to his knee on the ground. Beltenebros struck him with the axe on the top of his helmet with such a great blow that the force broke all its laces and made it fly off his head.

Basagante, who saw Beltenebros so close, thought to cut off his head, but he struck him toward the top of his helmet and cut off its crest and the hair beneath it, but did not reach the flesh. Beltenebros pulled back, and the helmet, with nothing to support it, fell to his shoulders, and Basagante's sword fell to the ground, struck some stones, and was broken in two.

Those who watched thought that Beltenebros's head had been cut in half, and they began to mourn, especially Leonoreta and her girls and damsels, who were on their knees in the cart, raising their hands to the heavens and begging God to free them from danger. They tore their hair and screamed and shouted to the Virgin Mary.

But Beltenebros took off the helmet and felt his head with his hand to see if he was mortally wounded and felt nothing. He charged at the giant with the axe, and although Basagante was very strong, when he saw him coming, his heart weakened and he could not protect himself. Beltenebros gave him a great blow on the top of the head, and an ear and jawbone fell to the ground. The giant struck him with the half-sword and cut him a little on the leg, then fell back, thrashing in the field in the throes of death.

By then Famongomadan had taken the helmet from his head and put his hands in the wounds to stop the bleeding. When he saw his son dead, he began to blaspheme God and His mother Holy Mary, saying that he regretted dying only because he had not destroyed His churches and monasteries and because They had allowed him and his son to be defeated and killed by a single knight, when they had not expected to be defeated by a hundred.

Beltenebros knelt on the ground, gave thanks to God for the great mercy He had done, and told Famongomadan:

"Having abandoned God and His blessed Mother, now thou shalt pay for thy great cruelties." He made him take his hands from the wound and told him, "Pray to thy idol for all the innocent blood that thou hast offered to it, and ask it to keep this blood from leaving thee, which shall take thy life."

The giant only cursed God and His saints. Beltenebros took the spear from the horse and thrust it into the giant's mouth so that a full palm-length passed out the other side and into the soil. He took Basagante's helmet and put it on his head so he would not be recognized, and mounting Famongomadan's horse, which Enil gave him, he went to the cart. The knights and damsels and girls knelt, thanking him for the help he had given them. He had the knights' chains removed and asked them to mount their horses, which had been tethered to the cart, and to put the giants into the cart, and Leonoreta and her damsels on the palfreys of the squires, who had also been taken prisoner. He told them to bring the giants to King Lisuarte on behalf of an unknown knight named Beltenebros, who wished to serve him, and tell him why he had killed them. And he asked them to give Basagante's large and handsome horse to the King on his behalf to use in the battle with King Cildadan.

The knights were very happy to do what he had ordered, and they put the giants in the cart, and although it was big, they had to double their legs at the knees to make them fit, the giants were so tall. Leonoreta and the girls and damsels made garlands out of flowers from the forest for their heads, and with much joy, laughing and singing, went to London where all were astounded to see them enter the town like that, and to see the horrible things that the giants were.

When the King learned of the great danger his daughter had been in and how Beltenebros had freed her at his great peril and danger, Sir Cuadragante had already arrived and presented himself before the King as someone who had been defeated by Beltenebros. The King wondered who the knight could be who had just done such amazing feats at arms beyond what all those in his land could do

He praised him for some time, asking everyone if they knew him, but no one could tell him anything except that Corisanda, the beloved of Sir Florestan, had spoken of finding a suffering knight named Beltenebros at Poor Rock.

"May it please God to have such a man among us," the King said. "I would give him anything he asked that I could."

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