Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Chapter 59 [part 2 of 3]

[How Amadis spoke with Oriana and Briolanja, and how his words to one were misunderstood by the other.] 

[Reliquary bust of Saint Mabilla, made in Sienna, circa 1370-1380. In the Musée National du Moyen Age, Paris, France.] 

King Lisuarte, when he and Amadis and all the other knights had largely recovered from their wounds, left for Fernisa, where his wife, Queen Brisena, was with Briolanja, Oriana, and all the other ladies and damsels of great estate. He was received better and with more happiness than any other man at any time. And after him, Amadis, for by then the Queen and all the ladies knew that he had not only saved their lord the King from death but that the battle had been won by his great courage. And in the same way they greeted all the other knights who were still alive.

But what Queen Briolanja did with Amadis cannot be in any way written. She took him by the hand and had him sit between herself and Oriana, and told him:

“My lord, the pain and sadness I felt when they said ye were lost I cannot tell you, and I immediately took one hundred of my knights and came to this court, where I knew that your brothers were, so that your brothers could split them up in search of you. But because the battle which just happened intervened, I decided to wait here until it was over. And how that, by God’s mercy, I have what I desired, tell me what ye wish me to do and I shall begin its labors it at once.”

“My good lady,” he said, “if ye think badly of me, ye have very good reason, and ye may truly believe that no man in all the world would more willingly fulfill your orders than I. And since ye have put your estate at my will, I think it good that ye remain here for ten days and finish your business with the King, and in that time we may learn some news about my brother Sir Galaor, as well as the battle Sir Florestan has set with Landin. Then I shall take you to your kingdom, and from there I must go to Firm Island, where I have much to do.”

“So it shall be,” Queen Briolanja said, “but I beg you, my lord, to tell us about the great marvels that ye found at that island.”

He wished to avoid that, but Oriana took him by the hand and said:

“Ye shall not leave us without telling us something.”

Then Amadis said:

“Know ye, good ladies, that although I might work hard to recount it, it would be impossible to do. But I tell you that the forbidden room is more rich and beautiful than could be found anywhere else in the world, and if it is not won by one of you, I think no other lady in the world could do so.”

Briolanja, who had grown somewhat quiet, said:

“I do not believe I could succeed in that venture, but however that may be, if ye do not think me mad, I shall try it.”

“My lady,” Amadis said, “I do not hold it as madness to test that in which so many others have failed for reasons of beauty, especially since God wished to give you so much. Instead, I think it would be honorable to want to win fame that will last long without being tarnished in any way.”

What Amadis said weighed on Oriana and she looked angry, which Amadis, whose eyes had never left her, immediately understood, and he was sorry for having said it, for his intention was to give her greater honor and praise, for he knew from the visit by Grimanesa that the beauty of Briolanja would not be enough to succeed in the test, but he had no doubts about that of his lady.

But Oriana became impassioned, fearing that something in the world that could be won by beauty would be obtained by Briolanja and not by her. She remained there a while and asked Briolanja that, if she entered the defended room, to tell her how it was, and then she went to find Mabilia, took her aside, and told her everything that had happened in her presence between Briolanja and Amadis, and said:

“This always happens to me with your cousin, of whom my poor heart never thinks except to please and do his will, without regard to God or the anger of my father, and he, knowing that he has full lordship over me, holds me as so little.”

Tears came to her eyes and fell down her beautiful cheeks.

Mabilia told her:

“I am amazed by you, my lady. What heart have ye? Ye have just left one vexation and now ye wish to enter into a new one? What great error is this that ye say my cousin has done to make ye so  upset, when ye know that he has never strayed from you in deed or thought, having seen with your own eyes the proof of the tests that he passed for you? Now I tell you, my lady, that ye lead me to understand that ye are not pleased to let him live, for despite what he has done for you, the least anger that he senses in you is death to him.

“And I do not know why ye are angry with him, for if Apolidon left that test there for every man and woman in general, how could Amadis be wrong, thinking that what Briolanja could do would make you less, if she could? Certainly, although ye will not be pleased by it, I think that neither her beauty nor yours will be enough to pass that test after one hundred years in which no woman, however beautiful, has succeeded. But ye wish to cruelly take his grave fate from him, which is nothing less than to be your abject servant and to abandon and disdain his estate and family for you, my lady, treating them like strangers and going wherever ye order.

“Oh, how badly employed is all he has done and his lineage and brothers, when the prize for all that is to arrive unjustly at death! And I, my lady, for all that I have waited on you and served you, in exchange I get as a prize to see the flower of my lineage die before my eyes, he who loves me so. But may it please God, this death and this trouble I shall not see, for my brother Agrajes and my uncle Galvanes shall take me to my land, for it would be a great error to serve someone who so poorly recognizes and thanks such service.”

Then she began to weep and said:

“May it please God that this cruelty to him and his lineage be repaid, although I am certain that his loss, however great it be, will not equal yours, because he has forgotten his family and only loves you above all things that are loved.”

When Mabilia said this, Oriana was so frightened that heart closed up, and she could not speak for a while. When she had become more calm, she said, weeping from her heart:

“Oh, I am the most unfortunate wretch of all the women who have ever been born! What can become of me if you think of me thus? I come for help for my great concern, having no other who can counsel me, and ye make my heart worse, suspecting what I never thought. And my misfortune is such that ye took what I told you wrongly, for I tell you that, may God not save me or help me, if my heart ever thought any of what ye said. Do no doubt that what your cousin means to me is only the complete satisfaction of my desires. But what I greatly fear is that, having won lordship of the island, if another woman passes that test before I do, the pain for me would be like death, and I feel badly for what he may have said with good intention. But whatever may have happened, I ask forgiveness from you for what I never deserved from you, and I beg for the great love that ye have for your cousin to be pardoned, and that ye counsel me on what would be best for him and for me.”

Then, laughing beautifully, she embraced her and told her:

“My true friend above all others in the world, I promise that I shall never speak of this to your cousin nor let him know that I saw this in him. But speak with him how ye see fit and I shall hold it good.”

Mabilia told her:

“My lady, I pardon you if ye agree with me that, although ye may be angry with him, ye do not show it to him unless I intervene first so that ye do not commit an error like the one that ye did in the past.”

And with that they were agreed, as those between whom there could never be any disfavor. But Mabilia, who did not forget what Amadis had said, confronted him with bitter anger and told him how wrong and hurtful it was to have said what he did to Briolanja in front of his lady, and reminded him of the danger that his life had been placed in because of her, and advised him to always have great care when he spoke with her, and to think of what trouble it was to place jealousy in the heart of a woman, and told him of the passion that his lady had felt and how she had calmed her.

Amadis, after thanking her with great courtesy, understanding what he had done, promised, if he lived, to make her a queen, and told her:

“My lady and good cousin, my thoughts were very different from what my lady suspected, because it was one of the best services that I could do for her. That was not only to advise Briolanja to try that test, but for me to go with her to wherever it would be, and it is because of this: everyone says Briolanja is one of the most beautiful women of the world, so much that without a doubt they think her beauty is enough to enter that room without a problem. I think the opposite, because I have seen Grimanesa, and Briolanja does not come close to her equal in beauty, so I am sure Briolanja would win the same honor all the rest have, yet I do not doubt that Oriana would succeed the moment she attempted it. But if she did this before Briolanja tried it, everyone would say that if Briolanja had gone first, she would have succeeded. And if Briolanja were the first, since I am sure she would fail, all the glory would then remain for my lady. This is why I dared to say what I did.”

Mabilia was very content with what Amadis said, and Oriana even more when she knew it, and was very regretful for the angry passion she had felt, remembering how at another time, for a similar accident, she had placed herself and her beloved in great danger. And to make amends for that error, they agreed that by using an old tunnel from a garden to the rooms of Oriana and Queen Briolanja, Amadis could enter to relax and speak with her. With that agreement, Amadis left Mabilia.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Welcome back

Book II continues. 

“Knights” by xkcd.


It’s good to be back after summer vacation.

Amadis of Gaul consists of four books, and between now and July 2013, the translation for Book II will be competed.

As you may recall, Book II began as Amadis won Firm Island with all its beauty and enchantments — then he received a letter from his beloved Oriana. In it, she called him a faithless liar and ordered him never to appear before her again.

Amadis retired to a solitary island and almost died of sorrow before Oriana realized her error and sent the Damsel of Denmark to rescue him. (Yes, a damsel rescued a knight in distress.) Using the name Beltenebros, he returned to Great Britain and secretly stayed with Oriana in her castle. Together, they won the magic sword and wreath of loyal lovers. As Beltenebros, he quickly earned great fame, most of all by being decisive in the battle between King Cildadan and Oriana’s father, King Lisuarte. At the height of the battle, Amadis revealed his true identity, to the terror of his opponents and the joy of Lisuarte’s other knights. After the victory, his injured brother Sir Galaor and King Cildadan were taken away by mysterious maidens.

Over the coming chapters, sorcerers will perform amazing magic. Amadis will face dire perils and win even greater honor. Then things will go horribly wrong.

If you’re new to this blog, you can find links to summaries of previous chapters in the left-hand column, along with other items of interest.

Without further ado, we shall return to the Middle Ages and this centuries-old novel full of admirable deeds outside the order of nature.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Chapter 59 [part 1 of 3]

How King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were taken away to be healed, and one was put in a strong tower surrounded by the sea, and the other in a garden with high walls adorned by iron fences, where each one became conscious and thought he was in prison, but they did not know by whom they had been brought there or what else had happened to them. 

[Tower of Juan II at Segovia Castle. Photo by Katheline Vrenati-Finn.] 

Now we shall tell you what became of King Cildadan and Galaor. Know that the damsels who took them away also cared for their wounds, and on the third day they were fully conscious.

Sir Galaor found himself in a garden in a beautifully made building with four marble pillars, enclosed from one pillar to the next by strong wrought iron screens, so he could view the garden from the bed in which he was lying. From what he could manage to see, it was surrounded by a tall wall in which there was a small door covered by iron plates. He was frightened to find himself there, believing himself imprisoned, and he was in great pain from his wounds, so he expected nothing but death. Then he remembered how he had been in a battle, but he did not know who had taken him from it nor how he had been brought there.

When King Cildadan returned to full consciousness, he found himself inside a vaulted room in a large tower lying on a rich bed next to a window. He looked from one end to another, but he saw no one else, and he heard someone speaking above the ceiling, but he could see no door or entrance to the chamber where he was. He put his head out of the window to look, and he saw the sea and that he was in a tall tower built on a sharp peak, and there seemed to be sea on all three sides.

He remembered how he had been in a battle, although he did not know how he had been taken from it. But he well believed that since he was in such bad condition and was a prisoner, his men would not be free. As he saw there was nothing more he could do, he lay down in his bed, groaning and in great pain from his wounds, waiting to see what would befall him.

Sir Galaor, in the house in the garden as ye have heard, saw the small door open and raised his head with great effort. He saw a beautiful, well-dressed damsel enter, and with her a man who was so weak and old it was amazing he could walk. They came to the iron screen at the bed and they said:

“Sir Galaor, think of your soul, or we cannot save or protect you.”

Then the damsel took out two boxes, one iron and the other silver, showed them to Sir Galaor, and said:

“The man who brought you here does not wish ye to die before he learns if ye shall do his will, so he wants your wounds to be healed and ye be given food.”

“Good damsel,” he said, “if the will of whom ye speak wishes me to do what I ought not, then it would be harder for me than death, but otherwise, I ought to save my life.”

“Ye may do the best that ye can,” she said, “for what ye speak of we cannot help you. To live or die is in your hands.”

Then the old man opened the door in the screen and they entered. She took the iron box and told the old man to leave, which he did. She said to Sir Galaor:

“My lord, I am so sad for you that, to save your life, I wish to risk death. I shall tell you what my orders were. I was to fill this box with poison and the other with an unguent that will make you sleep, because the poison works best during sleep, so that when the poison would be put in your wounds and then the other for sleep, ye would die soon. But it hurt me to have such a good knight die, so I did the contrary, and here I put such medicine that if ye take it every day, in seven days ye shall be so well that ye can easily ride a horse.”

Then she put that unguent in his wounds, and it was so effective that the swelling and the pain were immediately soothed. He found himself very relieved, and he told her:

“Good damsel, I am very grateful for what ye have done for me, and if I leave here by your hand, never has the life of a knight been so well rewarded as yours shall be. But if by chance your effort is not enough and ye wish to do something for me, find a way to let Urganda the Unrecognized know that I am in this dangerous prison, for I have great hope in her.”

The damsel began to laugh out loud, and she said:

“What? Ye have such faith in Urganda, who does so little for your good or harm?”

“Yes,” he said, “for she knows the will of others, and so she knows mine is to serve her.”

“Do not be concerned about this Urganda but about me,” she said, “because, Sir Galaor, as ye made such an effort to place your health in danger, ye ought equally to try to make it well, and your great and brave heart ought to show itself in this fight as in others. I want ye to grant me a boon for the danger that I am putting myself in to heal you and to get you out of here, and it shall not be to your loss or harm.”

“I will grant it,” he said, “if I can do it rightly.”

“Then I shall leave until it is time to see each other again. Lie down and look like you are sound asleep.”

He did so, and the damsel called the old man and said:

“Look at how this knight sleeps. Soon the poison shall work in him.”

“This is necessary,” the old man said, “so that he who brought him here can be avenged. And since ye have complied with your duty, from here on ye may come without a guard. Keep him thus for two weeks, not dead and not alive except in great pain, and in that time people will come to give him his due for the offense he has done to them.”

Galaor heard all this, and it truly seemed to him that the old man was his mortal enemy. But he took hope in what the damsel had said, that he would be healed in seven days, and if fate would catch him healthy, he could free himself from danger. So he found great courage, as the damsel had counseled him.

With that, she and the old man left, but soon he saw her return with two very beautiful and well-dressed young damsels, and they brought Sir Galaor food. They opened the door and entered, and the damsel fed him and left the two little damsels with him so they could keep him company and to read him books of stories and so he would not sleep during the day. Galor was greatly consoled by that, for he observed that the damsel had kept her promise, and he thanked her sincerely. Then she left, closing the doors, and the girls remained to accompany him.

At the same time, as ye have heard, King Cildadan found himself enclosed in a tall tower surrounded by the sea, and soon, while he was deep in thought, he saw a stone door open that was inserted in the tower so closely that it seemed to be the wall itself, and he saw a middle-aged lady and two armed knights enter. They came to the bed where he was. They did not offer him a greeting, but he did, speaking to them in a friendly way, but they did not respond at all. The lady removed his blanket and studied his wounds, put medicine in them, and fed him. And then they returned to where they had come from without having said a word, and closed the door as it had been before.

Having seen this, the King thought that he was truly in prison in the power of someone who did not hold his life in safety, but he tried to be as brave as he could, for he could do nothing else.

The damsel who was caring for Galaor returned to him when it was time and asked him how he was. He said he was well, and that he thought he would be in a good state of health within the time limit she had set.

“I am pleased by that,” she said, “and do not doubt that which I told you, for it shall be fulfilled. But I want you to give me a boon as a faithful knight: do not try to leave here except by my hand, because it will be to your mortal harm and a danger to your life, and in the end you would not manage to leave.”

Galaor granted it, and begged her to tell him her name. She said:

“Why, Sir Galaor, do you not know my name? Now I tell you that I am disappointed in you, because there was a time when I did you a service, which it seems ye do not remember. And if I must remind you of my name, know that they call me Sapience over Sapience.”

She immediately left, and he thought about it. He remembered the beautiful sword that Urganda had given him when his brother Amadis made him a knight. He suspected she might be her, but he doubted that because on that occasion he had seen her quite old and now she was young, so he did not recognize her.

He looked for the two little damsels and did not see them, but in their place he saw his squire Gasaval and Amadis’s dwarf Ardian, and he was surprised and happy. They were sleeping, so he called them until they woke. When they saw him, they came weeping with pleasure to kiss his hands and tell him:

“Oh, our good lord, blessed be God who brought us here where we might serve you!”

He asked them how they had come there. They told him that they only knew that “Amadis and Agrajes and Florestan sent us with you.” Then they told him the state of his life at the end of the battle and how, when Amadis held his head in his lap, the damsels had come to ask for Galaor, and how, by agreement between the damsels and his friends, he had been given to the damsels, since he was at the point of death, and how they had put him in a ship with King Cildadan.

Sir Galaor asked them:

“How was Amadis found at such a time?”

“My lord,” they said, “know that the knight who was called Beltenebros is your brother Amadis, and by his great effort the battle was won for King Lisuarte.”

And they told him how Beltenebros had rescued the King, who was being carried off beneath the arm of a giant, and how he had then declared himself Amadis.

“Ye have told me great things,” Galaor said, “and I take pleasure in the news about my brother, although if he did not have a legitimate cause for hiding himself from me for so long, I shall be very angry with him.”

And this, as ye hear, was the state of King Cildadan and Sir Galaor, one in the tall tower and the other in the house in the garden, where their wounds were healed until they could go where they wished without danger. Then Urganda made herself known to them, in whose power they were, on her island called Unfound. She told them she had made them afraid so that they would recover their health more quickly, which was necessary because of the great peril their lives were in.

She ordered two nieces of hers to serve them and finish their care. They were very beautiful damsels, daughters of King Falangris, the late brother of King Lisuarte, by Urganda’s own sister, Grimota, when he was a young man. One of them was named Julianda, the other Solisa, and as a result of their visits they became pregnant with two sons: the one by Sir Galaor was called Tanlanque; and the one by King Cildadan called Maneli the Discrete. Both became very valiant and brave knights, as shall be told later. Galaor and Cildadan had great pleasure with these damsels while they were there until Urganda chose to release them, as ye shall hear farther on.