Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Chapter 60 [part 2 of 3]

[In which Urganda says that none can escape their fate, even if they were to know it.] 

[The Crystal Ball, by John William Waterhouse, 1902, a Pre-Raphaelite painter.] 

Urganda went to see the Queen accompanied by the four knights. The Queen, along with Oriana and Queen Briolanja and all the other ladies and damsels of great estate, received her with deep affection. Urganda gazed long at the beauty of Briolanja but saw well that she did not at all equal that of Oriana, yet she greatly enjoyed looking at them both.

She said to the Queen:

“My lady, I have come to this court to see your Highnesses, both you and the King, and to see the greatest height of arms and the flower of beauty in the world, which I truly believe could not be found in the company of any other emperor or prince. To prove this, we have as testimony the winning of Firm Island with greater courage than that of the valiant Apolidon, and we have the death of the brave giants and the painful and cruel battle in which was shown the extent of the bravery of your husband the King and all his men. Who would be so daring and ill informed as to affirm that the equal in beauty to these two ladies could be found anywhere in the world? None, truly. And thus, seeing these things, my heart is put at full ease and rest. And I say further, that faithful love is kept here more than in any other age, which has been shown by the test of the burning sword and the wreath of flowers, which for sixty years had been taken all over the world but had never found the ones who could win them. She who won the flowers knows well that she outshines everyone else in the world in being loyal to her lover.”

When Oriana heard this, she lost her color and felt very faint, thinking that if Urganda had learned anything about herself and her beloved, they would be in great danger and shame, as did all the ladies there who had lovers. Above all Mabilia and the Damsel of Denmark were afraid, believing that the greatest danger would befall them. Oriana looked at Amadis, who was nearby, and when he saw her fear, he came to her and said:

“My lady, do not be afraid, for she will not speak as ye think.”

Then he said to the Queen:

“My lady, ask Urganda who the woman was who took the wreath of flowers from here.”

And the Queen said to her:

“My friend, tell us, if ye would, what Amadis wishes to know.”

Urganda laughed and said:

“He would know better than I, for he traveled in her company and had the great task of freeing her from the hands of Arcalaus the Sorcerer and Lindoraque.”

“I, my lady?” Amadis said. “It cannot be that I know her nor myself, as ye know, and although she had wished to cover her face from me, in vain would she try to keep you from finding out who she was.”

“Since that is so,” she said, “I wish to say what I know.”

Then she spoke loudly so all could hear her, and she said:

“Although Amadis brought her to the test as a damsel, I am certain that she is a lady, and she came to be one by deeply loving he for whom she would win the wreath of flowers. And know that she is from the reign of this King, and your subject, but on her mother’s side she is not from these lands. She has made her dwelling in this land and is well endowed in it. If she is lacking anything, it is not having at her will as much as she wishes he whom she loves so much. And I shall not tell you more of her estate, for may God forbid that things be revealed by me that ought to be hidden. And whoever wishes to find her may look for her in the reign of this King, where their effort will be lost.”

Oriana’s heart relaxed, as did those of the others. The Queen told her:

“I believe what ye say, but I know as much as I knew before, except that ye say she is a lady instead of a damsel.”

“This will be enough for ye to know,” Urganda said, “since by showing her faithfulness she honored your court.”

With this Oriana was relieved of her concern as were all the other women. And with this, they went to eat, which was well prepared, as is to be expected in a house where this is customary. Urganda asked the Queen if she could be lodged with Oriana and Queen Briolanja.

“So it shall be,” the Queen said, “but understand that their foolishness may upset you.”

“Their beauty,” Urganda said, “will cause more upset among knights who do not protect themselves from it, for not courage nor valor nor discretion can save them from its danger, which is more serious than death.”

The Queen said, laughing:

“I understand that they will easily release the knights who until now have been tormented and killed.”

Urganda took great pleasure in what the Queen said, and taking her leave, went with Oriana to her chamber, which was a room with four beds: one for Queen Briolanja, and the others for Oriana, Mabilia, and Urganda. There they relaxed and spoke of many things that gave them pleasure until they went to bed. But after they were all asleep, Urganda saw that Oriana was awake, and told her:

“My friend and lady, if ye do not sleep, it is because ye are awakened by he who never sleeps or rests without the sight of you, and so he is avenged upon you.”

Oriana was embarrassed by what she said, but Urganda, who understood that, told her:

“My lady, do not fear me because I know your secrets. I shall keep them as you do, and if I say anything, it shall be so hidden that, when it is known, danger cannot harm you.”

Oriana said:

“My lady, speak quietly, so these ladies do not hear.”

Urganda said:

“I shall relieve you of that worry.”

Then she took a book so small that she had kept it hidden in her hand, had Oriana hold it in her hand, and began to read from it. Then she said:

“Now know that no matter what, they shall not awaken, and if someone were to enter this room, they would fall to the floor asleep.”

Oriana went to Queen Briolanja and tried to wake her, but she could not, and began to laugh. She shook her head and arms and pulled her from the bed, and did the same to Mabilia, but they did not awaken. And she called the Damsel of Denmark, who was at the door of the room, and when she came inside, she fell asleep. Then she happily lay with Urganda in her bed and told her:

“My lady, I beg you that, since your great discretion and wisdom reaches to things are yet to happen, tell me something about what will happen to me before it comes to pass.”

Urganda looked at her, laughing as if with disdain, and said:

“My dear child, do you think that by knowing what ye ask, if it were to your harm, ye could avoid it? Do not believe it, for of what is permitted and ordained by the Lord on high, none of us is powerful enough to stop, be it good or bad, if He does not interfere. But since ye are so eager to know something I can tell you, I shall do so, and ye shall see if knowing it is to your benefit.”

Then she said,

“In that time when great sorrow shall be thine, and for thee many people shall be tormented with great sadness, a mighty lion shall appear with his beasts and with his great roars thy protectors shall be frightened, and thou shalt be left in his powerful claws. And this renowned lion shall throw from thy head the high crown that shall never be thine again. And the hungry lion shall take your flesh and hide it in his caves, and with it his ravenous hunger shall be eased. Now, my good child, watch what thou doest, for this shall come to pass.”

“My lady,” Oriana said, “I would have been very happy not to have asked you anything, for now ye have terrified me with this strange and cruel turn of events.”

“My lady and lovely child,” she said, “do not seek to now that which neither thy discretion nor thy strength is enough to prevent. But many times people fear hidden things that ought to make them happy, and so be very happy to know that God has made ye the daughter of the best king and queen in the world, and with such beauty that it is spoken of in all parts as a marvel. And He made ye love a man who, above all others, shines with honor and esteem like the sun over the shadows. And by the things ye have seen of him in the past and shall in the future, without a doubt ye may be sure to be she whom he loves more than his own life. For this, my lady, ye deserve to receive the glory of reigning over him, and he deserves to be the lord of the entire world. And now it is time to awaken these ladies.”

Then, she took the book out of the room, and everyone became conscious again. And so as ye hear, Urganda rested in that house, being well attended in all that she needed.

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