Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Chapter 75 [part 1 of 3]

How the Knight of the Green Sword left Constantinople to fulfill the promise he had made to the very beautiful Grasinda, deciding to leave with her for Great Britain to carry out her orders, and how he found Sir Bruneo de Bonamar badly injured while he was out hunting; and the adventure by which Angriote d’Estravaus encountered them, and how they all went together to the house of the beautiful Grasinda.

[A view of the Bran Castle bailey in Romania. From 1438 to 1442, this castle in a mountain valley between Transylvania and Wallachia was used to defend against the Ottoman Empire.]

When the Knight of the Green Sword left the port of Constantinople, the weather was good and the wind was right for his trip, which in time would lead to the land where his lady Oriana was. This made him joyful, although at the time he was more anxious and tormented than ever over her because he had lived for three years in Germany and two in Romania and Greece, and in that time he had not only received no message from her, he had not heard any news about her at all.

So he found it agreeable that in twenty days they made port in the town where Grasinda was. When she learned they had arrived, she was very happy for she already knew how he had slain the Endriago and defeated and killed the mighty giants in the Romanian islands. She adorned herself in her best to receive them, being a great and rich lady, and ordered horses be brought to him and to the doctor Elisabad when they left the galley.

He of the Green Sword dressed in fine clothing. He was mounted on a handsome horse and the doctor on a palfrey, and they rode to the town, where his rare and famous deeds were already known, and he was regarded at and honored by all as a marvel, and the doctor as well, who was of an illustrious and rich family in that land. Grasinda came out to meet them in the courtyard with all her ladies and damsels.

He dismounted and knelt deeply to her and she to him, as those who shared a fine love for each other.

Grasinda told him:

“My lord knight of the Green Sword, God has made you constant in all things, for having surpassed many dangers and accomplished amazing things, He has wished that your great good fortune bring you here to fulfill and complete the promise that ye gave me, for five days from today is the end of the year that ye had promised. May it please Him to give your heart so completely to fulfill the other boon that I have yet to ask of you.”

“My lady,” he said, “God willing, never would I fail to do what I have promised, especially to such a fine lady as yourself who has done me so much good, and if I place myself in your service, ye ought not thank me, for you gave me the doctor Elisabad, and because of that I still have my life.”

“His service is well-employed,” she said, “since it is so well appreciated. And now come to eat, for I have desire to ask nothing of you that your great valor cannot fulfill.”

Then she took him to a courtyard with beautiful trees where he had once been treated for his injuries, as ye have been told. There he and the doctor Elisabad were served as was fitting in a house of a lady who loved them so, and the Knight of the Green Sword lodged in a chamber adjacent to the courtyard for the night.

Before he went to bed, he spoke for a long while with Gandalin, telling how his heart was joyful to travel toward the place where his lady was, if the boon of that lady did not stop him.

Gandalin told him:

“My lord, take pleasure when it comes, and leave the rest to our Lord God, for it may be that the lady’s boon will serve to increase your pleasure.”

So he slept that night more peacefully, and in the morning he arose and went to hear Mass with Grasinda in her chapel, which she attended with her ladies and damsels. After it was said, she ordered everyone outside, took him by the hand, and sat next to him on a stone bench set into the wall. At his side, she said:

“Knight of the Green Sword, know ye that a year before ye came here, all the ladies of this land who were by far the most beautiful of all were together at a wedding for the Duke of Vaselia, where I went accompanied by the Marques Saluder, my brother, whom ye know. And when we were together, including myself, all the noblemen who had come to that wedding entered the hall. My brother the Marques, whether for his convictions or for madness, proclaimed loudly so that all would hear that my beauty was so great that it exceeded all the other ladies there, and if someone were to disagree, he would make them say it was true so by force of arms.

“I do not know if it was because of his courage or because the others agreed, but no one responded, and I stood judged as the most beautiful lady of all the beauties of Romania, which is a great land, as ye know. My heart has always been joyful and flattered by this, and it would be even more so and held more highly if ye can achieve what my heart desires so much. I would not hesitate to do what it might involve nor to spend money from my estate, no matter how much.”

“My lady,” he said, “ask for what would please you most, and if it is anything that I can do, I shall immediately execute it.”

“My lord,” she said, “what I ask for you as a boon is this: I know for certain that the court of King Lisuarte, Lord of Great Britain, holds the most beautiful women in the world. I ask that ye bring me there, and by force of arms if it cannot be by other means, ye have me win the glorious victory of beauty over all the damsels there in the same way that here I was victorious over all the ladies, as I told you, saying in his court that there is no damsel as beautiful as is the lady that ye bring. And if anyone were to contradict you, ye shall have them recognize the truth by force of arms. I shall bring a fine crown for you to wager for me, and the knight whom you might fight shall wager another, and the victor shall take both crowns to show that he has the most beautiful lady.

“If God has us leave there in honor, ye must take me to a place they call Firm Island, where they say there is a forbidden chamber where no woman, be she lady or damsel, may enter unless her beauty exceeds that of the very beautiful Grimanesa, who in her time had no par. This is the boon that I ask for.”

When the Knight of the Green Sword heard this, he grew pale, and he said with a mournful face:

“Oh, my lady, ye have killed me. If ye have done me well in the past, now ye have placed me in greater trouble.”

And so he was shocked senseless. He thought that if he were to go to the court of King Lisuarte for that reason, he would lose his lady Oriana, which he feared more than death. He knew well that there were many good knights who would defend her, and they would have righteousness and reason entirely on their side. So great was the difference in the beauty of Oriana and all other women in the world that he could not carry out that boon without dishonor or death.

He also thought that if he failed to comply with his word to that lady, even without considering all the honors and gifts that he had received from her, his honor and fame would be lost. Thus he was placed in the greatest confrontation since he had left Gaul. He cursed himself and his fate and the hour when he was born and when he had come to the lands of Romania.

But then he thought of a great remedy to the situation, which was that Oriana was not a damsel, and whoever fought over her would not have justice on his side. Afterwards he could see Oriana and make her understand what had happened. Having found this remedy, he ceased to worry over what had placed him in a more difficult position than he thought he would ever be in.

He became very happy, as could be seen on his face, as if nothing had happened. He told Grasinda:

“My good lady, I ask pardon for the affront I have done you, for I wish to fulfill all that ye ask of me, if it is the will of God. And if I hesitated, it was not due to my will but due to the lady of my heart, whom I cannot resist and for whom I had wished to travel elsewhere. That was the reason for what I said, for in all things she holds me subjugated. But the honors that I have received from you are so great that they overcome hers and leave me free to do what I can to bring about what ye wish without obstacle.”

Grasinda told him:

“Truly, my good lord, I fully believe what ye tell me. But I say that I was very upset when I saw you thus.”

And she reached out with her very beautiful arms, put them on his shoulders, and forgave what had happened, saying:

“My lord, when shall I see the day when your great skill at arms shall place on my head the crown that ye shall win from the most beautiful damsels in Great Britain, and I shall return to my lands with a great glory that shall set me apart from all the ladies of Romania?”

He told her:

“My lady, whoever is to travel that road must be careful, for ye shall have to pass through many foreign lands and people who speak unintelligible languages, suffering great travail and danger. If my boon had not been promised, and ye were to ask my advice, it would be none other than this: someone of such honor and high estate as yourself ought not to face such a challenge to win that without which she can still have glory due to her great loveliness and beauty.”

“My lord,” she said, “I am more impressed by your valor to travel than your advice, since having such help as yours, without any concern I hope to satisfy my desire, which for a long time I have ached to fulfill. And these strange lands and people that you speak of may be avoided, since we shall travel better by the sea rather than the land, according to what I have been told by many who know the way.”

“My lady,” he said, “I shall protect and serve you. Order me to do what shall best satisfy your will, and I shall labor to do so.”

“I deeply thank you,” she said, “and ye may expect to have such attire and company that a leader like you deserves.”

“In the name of God,” he said, “may it all be so.”

And that was what they decided.


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