Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Chapter 72 [part 1 of 2]

How after the Knight of the Green Sword left King Tafinor of Bohemia for the islands of Romania, he saw Grasinda approaching with a crowd of people and a knight of hers named Bradansidel who wanted to make the Knight of the Green Sword come by force before his lady; and how he fought him and won.

[Detail from an illustration for William of Tyre’s Historia. The chronicle, written in Latin between 1170 and 1184, covers the First Crusade and the political history of Jerusalem. The artwork depicts the well-deserved death of Byzantine Emperor Andronikos I Komnenos and appears in a 15th-century French version of the Historia.]


We have told you how when the Knight of the Green Sword left King Tafinor of Bohemia, his intention was to go to the islands of Romania because he had heard that brave people were there. And so he did, but not by the most direct road, but by wandering from one place to another, resolving and setting right many injuries and grievances that arrogant knights had inflicted on weak people, both men and women. Many times he was injured and other times he was ill, so against his will he needed to rest.

But when he reached Romania, there he faced mortal danger from knights and brave giants, and placing his life at risk, God granted him victory over all of them, and he gained so much praise and honor that he was looked upon by all with wonder. But even so, those great confrontations and labors were not enough to remove the burning flames and mortal afflictions and desires for his lady Oriana from his heart. And certainly ye may believe that were it not for Gandalin’s advice, who always encouraged him, by himself he would not have had the strength to keep his sad and troubled heart from being undone by tears.

And so as he traveled through that land in the manner that ye hear, wandering to as many places as he could without rest for his body or spirit, he came upon a port town on the sea facing Greece located on a beautiful site with many great towers and gardens at the edge of terra firma named Sadiana. Because the greater part of the day was yet to pass, he did not wish to enter the town, but he gazed at it, and it seemed beautiful, and he was pleased to view the sea, which he had not seen since he left Gaul now more than two years earlier.

He saw a large company of knights and ladies and damsels coming along the shore toward the town, and among them was a lady dressed in fine clothing, and a beautiful cloth on four poles was carried above her to protect her from the sun. The Knight of the Green Sword, who did not enjoy meeting people but instead preferred to travel alone thinking about his lady, left the road so he would not have to encounter them.

He had not gotten far when he saw a well-armed knight coming toward him on a large horse, brandishing a lance as if he wished to charge with it. The knight had a valiant bearing and a muscular body, and he rode well, so he seemed to be strong, and a damsel from the company of the lady, finely dressed, accompanied him. When he saw they were coming, he waited. The damsel arrived first, and she said:

“My lord knight, that lady there, who is my lady, has told me to deliver orders to you to come immediately to her. She tells you this for your own good.”

Although she spoke in German, The Knight of the Dwarf understood her perfectly because he always tried to learn the languages of the places where he traveled, and he responded:

“My lady damsel, may God give honor to your lady and to you. But tell me, what does that knight want?”

“That is not to your benefit,” she said, “but do as I say.”

“I shall not go with you at all if ye do not tell me.”

She responded thus:

“If that is how it is, I shall tell you, although against my will. Know, my lord knight, that my lady saw you and this dwarf with whom ye travel, and because it has been said that such a foreign knight is traveling through these lands doing marvelous feats of arms the likes of which have never been seen, she thinks it is you and wishes to do you great honor and share the secret in her heart which until now no one has known. And as this knight serves her wishes, he said that he would make you come at her orders, even against your wishes, which he can well do as he is more powerful in arms than anyone else in these lands. So I advise you to come with me rather than leaving it to him.”

“Damsel,” he said, “I am very ashamed to tell you that I cannot comply with the orders of your lady, but I wish ye to see if he will do as he said.”

“I am very sorry,” she said, “for I am very pleased by your speech and conduct.”

Then she left him, and the Knight of the Green Sword continued down the road as before. When the other knight saw this, he shouted:

“Ye, vile sir knight who did not wish to go with this damsel, get off your horse and mount it backwards, holding the tail in your hand as the reins and wearing your shield backwards, and present yourself in that state before the lady if ye do not wish to lose your head. Choose what ye prefer.”

“Truly, knight,” he said, “I do not have the heart to choose either of these two at this time. Instead, I wish that they be for you.”

“Well, now ye shall see how I can make you accept one,” he said.

Then he spurred his horse intending to knock him from his saddle in their first meeting, as he had done to many other knights because he was the best jouster in the entire area. The Knight of the Dwarf, who had taken up his arms, rode at him well covered by his shield, and that joust was finished in its first encounter when the lances were broken. The knight who had threatened him was thrown from his saddle, but his lance pierced the shield and mail of the Knight of the Green Sword, and the blade of the lance wounded him seriously in the throat.

He rode past the other knight and took out the piece of lance from the shield where it was lodged.
Then he turned toward Bradansidel, as the knight was called, and saw him laying on the field as if he were dead. He said to Gandalin:

“Dismount and pull off the shield and helmet from this knight, and see if he is dead.”

So he did, and the knight took some air and became more conscious, but not enough to regain his senses. He of the Green Sword put the point of his sword in his face and struck him several times, and said:

“Ye, sir knight, who threatens and disdains those whom ye do not know, now ye must lose your head or do what ye had instructed earlier.”

He, in fear of death, became more aware and lowered his face. And he of the Green Sword said:

“Do ye not wish to speak? I ought to cut off your head.”

Then the other knight said:

“Oh, knight, mercy, by God! I would rather do as ye order than lose my soul, as this is the state I am now in.”

“Then let it be done without delay.”

Bradansidel called the squires he had there, and on his orders they put him on his horse backwards, put the tail in his hand, and put his shield around his neck backwards, and in that manner they brought him before the beautiful lady and through the town: thus all could see him and he could serve as an example for those who due to their arrogance wish to shame and despise those whom they do not know, including God if they could reach him, not considering the misadventures they will have in this world and then in the other as they deserve.

The lady and her company and the people of the town were so surprised when they saw the misfortune of the knight they had considered so strong. They exalted and lauded the knight who had defeated him even more, for it confirmed the great things they had heard about him.

When this was done, the Knight of the Green Sword saw the damsel who had called him and had seen the battle and heard everything that had been said. He went to her and said:

“My lady damsel, now I shall go at the orders of your lady, if ye please.”

“I am very pleased,” she said, “and so shall be my lady Grasinda,” for that was her name.

They went quickly, and when they arrived, he of the Green Sword saw the most lovely and lively lady he had met since he left his sister Melicia. And, likewise, to her he seemed to be the most well-born and handsome knight with the best arms of all those she had seen in her life. She said:

“My lord, I have heard many amazing things said about what ye have done at arms since you entered these lands. From what I have seen of you in person, it seems to me that it must be true. And they have also told me that ye were in the court of King Tafinor of Bohemia, and of the honor and benefit that ye gave him, and they tell me that ye are called the Knight of the Green Sword or of the Dwarf. Because I see him with ye, I shall call you that. But I ask you for your own good, for I see ye are injured, to be my guest in my town. We shall treat your wounds, and ye shall find no place better for that in these lands.”

He told her:

“My lady, seeing the good will of your request, if there is anything that I can do to serve you, be it dangerous or risky, I shall, even more because of the needs of my injury.”

The lady took him with her and went to the town. An old knight, who carried the reins of the lady, reached out and gave them to the Knight of the Green Sword, then he rode to town to prepare the knight’s lodging, for he was the lady’s majordomo. The Knight of the Dwarf led the lady, speaking with her of various things, and if earlier she had thought highly of him, she esteemed him even more seeing his great discretion and gentlemanly speech. He thought the same of her, for she was very beautiful and was gracious in everything she said.

When they entered the town, all its people came to their doors and windows to see their lady, who was well loved by them all, and the knight who was so highly considered for his great deeds, and he seemed the most handsome and well-bred they had ever seen. And they thought that there was no greater feat at arms than to have defeated Bradansidel, who was feared by all.


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