Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Chapter 76 [part 2 of 3]

[How Sir Florestan defeated all the knights but was restrained from killing Gradamor.] 

[Knights fighting with a lance, which was usually made of a single long piece of wood tipped with iron or steel.]

The knight rode across the river and prepared his arms to meet Sir Florestan, who, seeing that the knight had crossed the river and was coming toward him, spurred his horse and charged, and the Roman did the same. The lances missed, horses and shields met each other, and the Roman, who was the poorer horseman, went to the ground immediately. It was such a great fall that his right arm was broken and he was dazed. To those who were watching he seemed dead, for that was how it looked.

Sir Florestan ordered one of his squires to dismount and take the shield and hang it from a tree, and also had him take the horse, and he returned to the place where he had been, obviously unhappy with himself for having missed. He put the tip of the lance on the ground and waited.

Then he saw another knight coming at him and charged as fast as his horse could carry him, but he did not miss this time. Instead, he struck the knight so hard on the shield that it gave way and with such force that he was thrown from the horse with the saddle on top of him. The lance had penetrated his shield and flesh and came out the other side. Sir Florestan rode past him looking handsome and riding well, then turned back to him and said:

“Sir Roman knight, the saddle ye wear may be yours, but the horse is mine, and if ye wish to recount this in Rome, I grant you permission.”

He spoke loudly enough that the Queen and her ladies and damsels could hear him clearly. And I tell you that Sir Grumedan was especially joyful to hear the knight from Great Britain say and do this to the knight from Rome. He said to Gradamor:

“My lord, if ye and your companions do not show yourself to be better, ye shall have no reason to bring down the walls of Rome to enter when ye arrive there.”

Gradamor told him:

“You think too highly of what happened, but if my companions complete their jousts well, I shall make ye say otherwise, and not with as much satisfaction as ye have now.”

“We are close to seeing that,” Sir Grumedan said, “for it seems to me that the knight from Firm Island can defend his shield well. I am confident in him and doubt we will have to fight the battle that I have set with you.”

Gradamor began to laugh without humor and said:

“When that time comes true, I shall grant you all that ye have said.”

“In the name of God,” Sir Grumedan said, “and I shall have my horse and my arms ready to fulfill what I said, because it seems to you that the knight in the field will not last long against your fellows, but I believe he thinks of you very differently from how you think of him.”

The Queen felt sorrow to hear the mad words of Gradamor and the other Romans. Sir Florestan had the shield and horse taken from the knight, who lay as if dead and senseless on the ground, but when they pulled the piece of lance from him, the knight shouted in a pain-filled voice asking for confession.

Sir Florestan took a lance and returned to the same place where he had been. Soon he saw another knight on a large and handsome horse coming toward him, but with less valor than the first. He charged at Sir Florestan as fast as he could, but the encounter came at an angle and his lance was knocked aside and broken. Sir Florestan struck him on the helmet, broke its laces, and knocked it from his head to roll on the field, and made the knight grab the neck of the horse, although he did not fall.

Sir Florestan raised his lance and came at him with ire, and the knight, who saw him coming, raised his shield. Sir Florestan struck it so hard that the shield hit him in the face, stunning him, and he dropped his reins. When Sir Florestan he was addled, he dropped the lance and grabbed the other knight’s shield so hard that he pulled it from his neck, then struck two blows with it on his head so hard that they made him fall from his horse senseless, and he rolled across the field.

He ordered that the other knight’s horse and shield be taken from him, and he went to the Roman and told him:

“From this day on, if ye lose, ye may return to Rome and praise the Knights of Great Britain.”

He straightened himself in the saddle and charged at the fourth knight, whom he saw coming at him. But the joust was determined at the first encounter, when Sir Florestan met him so hard that he and his horse were thrown to the ground, and the knight had his leg broken near his foot. When the horse stood up, the knight remained on the ground, unable to arise.

Sir Florestan had his shield and his horse taken like the rest.

He took a very good lance from his squire and saw that Gradamor was coming at him wearing handsome new arms and riding a large, beautiful, peach-colored horse, brandishing a lance with the hope of breaking it on him. The threat filled Sir Florestan with anger.

Gradamor shouted:

“Sir Grumedan, do not bother to put on your armor, for before you can mount your horse I shall make this knight before me need your help.”

“Now we shall see,” Sir Grumedan said, “but despite your praise of yourself, I do not know if my help will be needed until I see what happens.”

Gradamor, who had already crossed the river, saw Sir Florestan charging at him as fast as his horse could gallop, well covered with his shield, his lance lowered to attack, and he rode toward him as fast as his horse could go. Both knights were strong and valiant, and Gradamor’s lance passed through his shield a good palm-width deep, and there it snapped off. Sir Florestan’s passed through his shield from right to left and broke the plates on Gradamor’s armor by the force of the blow, which threw him from the saddle into a ditch full of water and mud.

As he passed, Sir Florestan ordered his squires to take his horse. Sir Grumedan, seeing this, told the Queen:

“My lady, it seems to me that ye may rest for a bit while Gradamor dries his armor and seeks another horse on which to fight.”

The Queen said:

“May their madness and arrogance be damned, with everyone becoming irate at each other and then falling into shame.”

Gradamor spent a while struggling in the water and mud, and when he was able to get out, he felt great sorrow over what had happened to him. He took off his helmet and wiped the water and mud from his eyes and face with his hand, shook his hand clean as best he could, and laced his helmet back on. When Sir Florestan saw that, he rode to him and said:

“My lord threatening knight, I tell you that if you do not help yourself better with your sword than with your lance, ye shall not take my shield or my name to Rome.”

Gradamor told him:

“I regret the test of the lances, but I did not bring this sword for any other reason than to avenge myself, and with it I shall soon see if you dare to maintain the custom of this land.”

Sir Florestan, who knew it better than he did, told him:

“And what custom is this that ye speak of?

“Either give me my horse,” he said, “or dismount from yours, and on feet we shall test our swords. The game shall be equal and the one who plays more poorly shall be left without blessing or mercy.”

Sir Florestan told him:

“I well believe that ye would not maintain this custom if ye were victorious, but I wish to dismount because it would not be right if a handsome Roman knight like yourself were to mount a horse only to be knocked from it again.”

Then he dismounted and gave his horse to his squires and put his hand on his sword. He covered himself carefully with his shield and strode toward him with rage, and their swords struck bravely. The battle was fierce and dangerous to all watching due to the anger between the two knights. But it did not last long, for Sir Florestan, who was stronger and more robust in use of arms, knowing that the Queen and her ladies were watching him along with Sir Grumedan, more knowledgeable in combat than them, used all his exertion, delivering such great and weighty blows that Gradamor, although he was valiant, could not withstand them. He retreated from the field of combat in the direction of the Queen’s tent, trusting that Sir Florestan, out of respect for her, would not follow him.

But Sir Florestan stopped him and made him turn back, and soon Gradamor was exhausted and dropped to the ground, having lost all his strength. His sword fell from his hand. Sir Florestan took his shield and gave it to his squires, and grabbed the other knight’s helmet, pulling so hard that he dragged him for a while around the field, took it off, and threw it into the muddy ditch ye have already heard about. He came back to Gradamor and took him by a leg and wanted to throw him into the same ditch as the helmet. Gradamor began to shout to have mercy on him in the name of God.

The Queen, who saw that, said:

“That wretch bargained poorly when he declared that the winner should have no quarter nor mercy on the loser.”

Sir Florestan said to Gradamor:

“A pact that such an honorable knight as yourself proposed ought not be broken, and I shall fulfill it with you completely, as ye shall now see.”

When Gradamor heard this, he said:

“Oh, poor me! I am dead.”

“So it shall be,” Sir Florestan said, “if you do not follow my orders about two things.”

“Give the orders,” he said, “and I shall obey.”

“First,” Sir Florestan said, “by your hand, and with the blood of yourself and your companions, write your name and theirs on the bosses of the shields, and when this is done, I shall tell you the second thing I want you to do.”

As Sir Florestan said this, he waved his sword over Gradamor, who trembled beneath it in fear. He called his scribe and ordered him to empty the ink from his inkwell and fill it with his blood and write his name on his shield, since he could not, and all the names of his companions on the other shields, and to do so quickly because he did not wish to have his head cut off. This was immediately done, and Sir Florestan cleaned his sword and put it in its sheath. He mounted his horse so easily it seemed he had done no labor that day. He gave his shield to his squire, but he kept on his helmet so Sir Grumedan would not recognize him.

The horse he rode was large and handsome and of an unusual color, and the knight was of a size and height so attractive that few could be found that looked as good as he did in armor. He picked up a lance with a fine and handsome pendant and held it over Gradamor, who had by then stood up.

Waving the lance, Sir Florestan said:

“Your life is not safe unless Sir Grumedan asks me not to kill you in front of him.”

Gradamor began to shout, calling on Grumedan to help him in the name of God, for it was a matter of life or death. Sir Grumedan came immediately on foot and said:

“Truly, Gradamor, if you do not deserve mercy or pity, this is proper, for in your arrogance this is what you asked from this lord, but I shall ask him to let you live because in that way he shall please me and serve me.”

“I shall happily do so for you,” Sir Florestan said, “as I would in everything that may be to your honor and pleasure.” Then he said:

“Ye, Sir Roman knight, from this day on, when ye are judged in Rome, if ye go there, ye may tell them of the great arrogant threats that ye declared against the knights of Great Britain, and what happened with them, and of the great praise and honor ye achieved in the short space of a single day. Ye may say so to your Emperor and to his potentates so that they may take pleasure in it. And I shall make it known on Firm Island how the knights of Rome are so generous and giving that they gladly present their horses and arms to strangers. But I do not have to thank you for your gifts, instead I shall thank God, who wished you to give them to me.”

Gradamor was so badly injured that his soul was about to leave him, but when he heard this, the words hurt more than his injuries.

Sir Florestan told him:

“My lord knight, ye make take back to Rome all the arrogance that ye brought from there, for they love and value it there. The knights of this land care not for it, and prefer that which ye abhor, which is courtesy and good will. And if ye, my lord, have a beloved equal to your courage at arms, and if ye wish me to take you to Firm Island, ye may try the enchanted arch of loyal lovers there, where men test their faithfulness to their beloved ladies. With the praise and honor that ye take from Great Britain, your beloved ought to love you more, and if it is true, she shall not leave you for another.”

I tell ye that Sir Grumedan felt great pleasure to hear those words, and laughed heartily to see the Roman’s pride broken that way. But Gradamor did not feel the same. Instead, those words broke his heart, and he said to Sir Grumedan:

“My good lord, by God, order me taken to the tents, for I am badly hurt.”

“It seems that ye are, from your appearance and your armor,” he said, “and it is your own fault.”

Then he had the squires take him away.


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