Monday, November 25, 2013

Chapter 66 [part 1 of 2]

On their way to the court of King Lisuarte, how King Cildadan and Sir Galaor met a lady who brought a handsome young nobleman accompanied by twelve knights, and she begged them to ask the King to make him a knight, which was done; then the King learned he was his son. 

[Madonna holding the Christ-child in a rosebush, from a Book of Hours made in South Holland in 1489. Now at the National Library of the Netherlands.] 

While King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were traveling to where King Lisuarte was, they were told that he was preparing to sail to the Island of Mongaza, so they hurried to arrive in time to go with him. And it happened that when they were sleeping in a forest, they heard a church bell ring for Mass at dawn, and they went there to hear it.

When they entered the hermitage, around the altar they saw a dozen handsome shields, each beautifully painted with a cardinal-red field figured with golden castles, and in the middle of these red shields was a white shield trimmed with gold and precious stones. After they had prayed, they asked some squires there who the shields belonged to, and they said they could in no way say, but if they went to the court of King Lisuarte, they would find out soon.

At that moment, the knights who owned the shields entered, each leading a damsel by the hand, and behind them came a novice knight speaking with a lady who was not very young. He was so well built, handsome and well dressed, that it would be hard to find anyone of equal appearance. King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were amazed to see such an unusual man, and they thought he must have come from some distant land, since they could not remember ever seeing him.

They all went to the altar where they heard Mass. After it had been said, the lady asked them if they were from the court of King Lisuarte.

“Why do ye ask?” they said.

“Because we would wish your company, if it pleases you, because the King is in the forest near here with the Queen and many of his retinue in tents, hunting and relaxing.”

“Then, what would be your pleasure of us?” they said.

“We wish,” the lady said, “that ye would do the courtesy of asking the King and Queen and their daughter Oriana to come here and make this squire a knight for us, for he is such that he deserves all the honor that could be done to him.”

“Lady,” they said, “we would be glad to do what you say, and we think the King would do it just as he is proper and well measured in all things.”

Then they and the lady and damsels mounted, and they rode together to a hilltop near the road on which the King would be coming. Soon they saw him, along with the Queen and their company. The King rode ahead and saw the damsels and the two armed knights, and thought they wanted to joust. He sent Sir Grumedan, who accompanied him along with thirty knights to guard him, to tell them not to seek to joust but to come to see him. Sir Grumedan went to them, and the King waited. When King Cildadan and Sir Galaor saw that Lisuarte had stopped, they came down the hill with the damsels and rode toward him. After they had ridden a little way, Sir Galaor recognized Grumedan and told King Cildadan:

“My lord, look, here comes one of the best men in the world.”

“Who is he?” the King said.

“Sir Grumedan,” Galaor said, “the one who carried the flag of King Lisuarte in the battle against you.”

“You can say this with truth,” the King said, “because I was the one who tried to take the flag,  and I could never get it from his hands until the staff broke. Then I saw him doing such feats at arms against me and my men that I wished I had not broken it.”

After they took off their helmets so they could be recognized, Sir Grumedan, who was now even closer, recognized Sir Galaor, and shouted, as he often did:

“Oh, my friend Sir Galaor, ye are as welcome as the angels of Paradise!”

He rode as fast as he could toward him, and when he arrived, Sir Galaor said:

“My lord Sir Grumedan, approach King Cildadan.”

He went to kiss his hands, and he was well received. He turned immediately to Sir Galaor and embraced him many times as those who love each other from the heart, and he told them:

“My lords, continue on slowly, and I shall tell the King ye are arriving.”

He left them, went to the King, and told him:

“My lord, I bring news that will make you happy, for your vassal and friend Sir Galaor is coming here, who never fails you in times of need, and the other man is King Cildadan.”

“I am very happy they are coming,” the King said, “and I thought rightly that since he was well and free, he would not fail to come to me just as I would do whatever was for his honor.”

At that moment the knights arrived, and the King received them with great love. Sir Galaor wanted to kiss his hands, but he would not let him. Instead, he embraced him in such a way that all those who saw them understood that he loved him with all his heart. Then they told him what the lady and the damsels wanted, and how they had learned that the novice wished to be a knight, and how he was very handsome and well built. The King thought a bit, since he was not accustomed to making a man a knight who was not worthy, and he asked whose son he was.

The lady told him:

“This ye shall not know, but I swear to you by the faith I owe God that he comes from legitimate kings on both sides.”

The King said to Sir Galaor:

“How does all this seem to you?”

“It seems to me, my lord, that ye should do it and not find any excuse to avoid it, for the novice is exceedingly graceful and handsome, and he could not fail to be a good knight.”

“If it seems so to you,” the King said, “it shall be done.”

He ordered Sir Grumedan to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor to the Queen and tell her to come to the hermitage where he was going. They immediately left, and it does not need to be told how they were received by the Queen and Oriana and all the other damsels, for none were welcomed better or with more love.

The Queen learned what the King had ordered, so she and Oriana followed him to the hermitage. When they saw the shields and the white one so beautiful and richly decorated among them, they looked at it with wonder, and even more at the exceeding handsomeness of the novice, but they could not imagine who he was because up until then they had never heard him spoken of.

The novice kissed the hands of the King with great humility, and neither the Queen nor Oriana wished to give him theirs because he was a highborn man. The King made him a knight, and told him:

“Take the sword from whomever ye choose.”

“If it pleases your mercy,” he said, “I would take it from Oriana, and with that my wish will be satisfied and my heart’s desire will be fulfilled.”

“Make what ye say be so,” the King said, “as it pleases you.”

He called Oriana and told her:

“My beloved daughter, if it pleases you, give the sword to this knight, for he wishes to take it from your hand instead of any other.”

Oriana felt great shyness, for she did not know him at all, but she took the sword and gave it to him, and so he was fully made a knight.

When this was done, as ye have just heard, the lady told the King:

“My lord, my damsels and I must leave immediately, for those are my orders, and I can do nothing else, although I would prefer to spend several days here. If ye order it, Norandel, who is the man ye have just knighted, will remain in your service, and the twelve knights who came with him.”

When the King heard this, he felt great pleasure, for he was very taken by this novice knight, and told her:

“My lady, go with God.”

She said goodbye to the Queen and the very beautiful Oriana, her daughter. And when she came to say goodbye to the King, she put a letter in his hand that no one saw, and told him privately as quietly as she could:

“Read this letter without letting anyone see it, and then do what ye most please.”

With that, she went to her ship. The King thought about what she had said, and told the Queen to take King Cildadan and Sir Galaor with her and go to the tents, and if he came back late from hunting, to relax and dine. The Queen did so. When the King was alone, he opened the letter.

Letter from Princess Celinda to King Lisuarte:

“Most high Lisuarte, King of Great Britain: I, Princess Celinda, daughter of King Hegido, kiss your hands in greeting. Ye may well remember, my lord, the times ye rode as a knight errant in search of adventures, achieving many to your great honor. Fate and good fortune brought you to help the kingdom of my father, who at that time had left this world, and ye found me under siege in my castle named the Great Rosebush. Antifon the Brave, whom I had disdained for marriage because his lineage was not equal to mine, wished to take all my land from me. A battle was set between him and yourself, and while he was confident in his great victory because I was a weak damsel, ye put yourself in great danger and fought him, and in the end he was defeated and killed. Thus ye won glory in that vicious battle, and ye gave me freedom and great blessings.

“Then as ye entered the castle, my lord, either because of my beauty or because Fortune wished it so, I was very taken by you beneath that rosebush. While many roses and flowers bloomed above us, I lost my flower, which I had held until then, and this young nobleman was engendered. Given his exceeding handsomeness, the lovely fruit which that sin gave rise to, by the most powerful Lord he shall be forgiven. And this ring, which ye gave me with so much love and which I kept, I send with him as witness of all that this letter recounts. Honor him and love him, my good lord, make him a knight, for he is royal on both sides of his family. From your side he takes your burning heart and from my side the burning love that I had for you, so it should be dearly hoped that all that he has inherited shall be put to good use.”

After the King had read the letter, he immediately remembered the time when he rode as a knight errant in the Kingdom of Denmark, and due to his great deeds at arms he came to be loved by the very beautiful Brisena, princess and daughter of the King, whom he took as his wife, as has been already told. He remembered how he had found Princess Celinda under siege and how everything had happened as was recounted in the letter. Seeing the ring, he was more certain that it was true. And although the great handsomeness of the novice promised that he would be a good knight, he decided to keep the secret until his works gave testimony to his virtue.

So he went hunting with success and returned to the tents very happily, where the Queen was. He went to the tent where they told him King Cildadan and Sir Galaor were to do them honor, and came accompanied by the most honorable knights, all richly dressed. Before them all, he began to praise the great deeds of Galaor and Cildadan, which they deserved, and for the great help he expected to get from them in the war he would face against the best knights in the world. With great pleasure he recounted what he did in the hunt, and how he would not let them eat any of it, laughing and joking with them. He ordered it given to his daughter Oriana and the other princesses and sent word for them to say that they would share their food with King Cildadan and Sir Galaor. He ate there with them happily.

When the tablecloths were lifted, he took Sir Galaor and went beneath some trees, put his arm over his shoulder, and told him:

“My good friend Sir Galaor, as God knows how much I love and appreciate you because your great efforts and counsel have always served me well, and I have great faith in your trustworthiness to the point that what I would not disclose to you I would not tell to my own heart. And leaving aside the most grave things that will always be made known by me to you, I wish you to know something that is happening now.”

Then he gave him the letter for him to read, and when Sir Galaor saw that Norandel was the King’s son, he was delighted, and he said:

“My lord, the effort and danger that ye suffered to save that damsel was well repaid by such a handsome son. And may God save me, I think he will be so good that your concern to keep him a secret now will eventually become a much greater concern to make him known. And if it pleases you, my lord, I would like to have him as a companion all this year so that some of the desire I have to serve you may be employed in something that is so close to your blood.”

“I truly thank you for doing this,” the King said, “because when this is no longer a secret, all the honor that he shall do will be mine. But how shall I give a mere apprentice to you as a companion when we do not know how he will fight, although I would be very happy and honored to have him with you? But if it pleases you, so it shall be done.”

Then they returned to the tent where King Cildadan and Norandel and many other fine knights were. And when they were all quiet, Galaor stood up and told the King:

“My lord, ye know well that the custom in your house and the entire Kingdom of London is that the first boon that any knight or damsel asks of a new knight must rightly be awarded.”

“That is true,” the King said. “But why are you saying that?”

“Because I am a knight,” Galaor said, “and I ask Norandel to grant me the boon that I ask of him, which is that we shall be in each others’ company for a full year, in which time we shall be loyal to each other and not part except for death or imprisonment.”

When Norandel heard this, he was surprised by what Galaor had said and very happy because he already knew of his great fame and had seen the extreme honor that the King gave him among so many other fine and esteemed knights; and because except for his brother Amadis, no one else in the world surpassed him at skill of arms. He said:

“My lord Sir Galaor, considering your great skills and achievements and my small ones, it well seems that ye ask for this boon more from your own great virtue than from my worth. But be that as it may, I grant it and thank you as the thing in this world, except for the service to my lord the King, that could befall me and make me most happy.”

King Cildadan, who had observed what had happened, said:

“Given your age and the handsomeness of you both, for good reason this boon could be asked and given. May God make it good, as it is with things that are asked for with deep thought rather than passing desire.”

Once the companionship between Sir Galaor and Norandel was granted, just as ye have heard, King Lisuarte told them that he had decided to set sail in three days because, according to the news that had come to him from the Island of Mongaza, it was very necessary to go.

“In the name of God it shall be,” King Cildadan said, “and we shall serve you in everything that is to your honor.”

And Sir Galaor said:

“My lord, since ye have the whole hearts of your men, ye need fear only God.”

“So I believe,” the King said, “and although your strength is great, your love and affection make me feel much more secure.”


1 comment:

  1. Posted early due to holiday plans. Happy Thanksgiving!