Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Chapter 84

How Princess Grasinda, when she learned of Amadis’s victory, attired herself and went to meet Oriana, accompanied by many knights and ladies. 

[Gardens of Generalife Palace, part of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain. Photo by Cindy Van Vreede.]

Among those whom I spoke of and who had remained on the island was the very beautiful Grasinda. When she learned of the arrival of the fleet and of everything that had happened at sea, with great diligence she immediately prepared to meet Oriana, whom she wished to see more than anyone else in the world because of the great things that had been said about her everywhere. And as she was a lady of great means and very rich, and she wished to show her wealth, she quickly put on a gown and an overdress with a pattern of golden roses created with superb art, decorated and surrounded by pearls and precious stones of great value, which until then she had not worn nor shown to anyone because she was keeping it for the test of the forbidden chamber, which she would do later.

On her beautiful hair she wished to wear none other than the very costly crown that by her beauty and by the great skill of the Greek Knight she had won in an outstanding victory for both of them from all the damsels who at that time were in the court of King Lisuarte.

She rode on a white palfrey whose saddle and reins and other adornments covered with enameled gold worked with great artifice. She had this clothing and saddlery so that if by good fortune she were able to successfully complete the test of the forbidden chamber, she could return to the court of King Lisuarte with this grand and fine attire to make her achievement known to Queen Brisena, her daughter Oriana, and the other princesses and ladies and damsels, and with great glory return to her lands. But things seemed to be happening very differently from what she had thought, because although she was finely attired and beautiful in the opinion of many people, and even more beautiful in her own opinion, she was far from equal to the beauty of Queen Briolanja, who had already tried that test and failed.

So with this grand attire, as ye hear, she left her lodging, attended by her ladies and damsels, also richly dressed, and ten knights on foot, who carried the reins and accompanied her so no one could approach her. She went to the seaside, where with great haste they had constructed the bridge ye have heard of to the ship that carried Oriana. When Grasinda arrived, she stood at the entrance to the bridge waiting for Oriana, who by then was ready, and all the knights had gone to her ship to accompany her.

Dressed more in keeping with her misfortune and her modesty than to accent her beauty, Oriana saw her and asked Sir Bruneo who that lady was who had come to the court of her father the King and won the crown from the damsels. Sir Bruneo told her who she was, and that she should be honored and welcomed, for she was one of the finest ladies in the world in her condition. And he told her a great deal about her and of the great honors that Amadis and Angriote and he himself had received from her.

Oriana told him:

“It is very proper that ye and your friends honor her and love her dearly, and so I shall myself.”

Then Sir Cuadragante and Agrajes took her by the arm, Sir Florestan and Angriote took Queen Sardamira, Amadis took Mabilia, Sir Bruneo and Dragonis took Olinda, and other knights took the rest of the princesses and ladies. All the knights wore their armor and were very happy, laughing to give courage and pleasure to the ladies. When Oriana neared the land, Grasinda dismounted from her palfrey and knelt next to the bridge, and took her hands to kiss them. But Oriana pulled her hands back and did not wish to give them; instead she embraced her with great love as one who was customarily very humble and gracious toward those whom she ought to be. Grasinda, seeing her so close and looking at her great beauty, was startled, although she had heard her thoroughly praised. She found her so much different in person that she could not believe that a mortal person could achieve such great beauty.

And, on her knees, for Oriana could not make her rise, she said:

“Now, my good lady, I must rightly give great thanks to our Lord and serve him for the great kindness he did me in not having you in the court of your father the King when I came there, for surely, although I brought the best knight in the world as my guard and protector in my quest to be judged for my beauty, I say that he could have been in great danger if God had helped the knight at arms who was in the right, as God is said to do. If I had been trying to win the honor that I won given the extreme disadvantage that my beauty has to yours, I would have failed in my quest, and it would not concluded as it did, even if the knight fighting for you had been very weak.”

Then she looked at Amadis and told him:

“My lord, if ye have received any offense from this, forgive me, because my eyes have never seen anything like that which is before them now.”

Amadis, who was very joyful to see his lady receive such praise, said:

“My lady, it would be a great injustice to take wrongly what you have said to this noble lady, and if I were to complain about that, I would speak against the greatest truth that has ever been said.”

Oriana, who was a little embarrassed to hear herself praised like that, and thinking more about the misfortune she had just suffered for being so appreciated for her beauty, answered:

“My lady, I do not wish to respond to what you have said about me, for were I to contradict you, I would err against a person who was very wise, and if I were to agree, it would be a great shame and dishonor for me. I only wish that ye know how much I am happy that your honor was increased, inasmuch as I can as the poor and disinherited damsel that I am.”

Then she asked Agrajes to place Grasinda next to Olinda, which he did, and she remained with Sir Cuadragante. They all left the bridge and Oriana mounted a palfrey more richly adorned than any that she had ever seen, adornments that her mother Queen Brisena had provided for her entrance into Rome. They put Queen Sardamira on another horse, and all the ladies on other horses, and Grasinda on hers. And no matter how much Oriana objected, she could not disuade all those lords and knights from accompanying her on foot, which made her very upset, but they considered that every honor and service they could give her would be returned to them in their own praise.

And so, as ye hear, they entered the island through the castle, and they took the ladies with Oriana to the tower in the garden, where Sir Gandales had prepared their lodgings. It was the main tower of the entire island, and although in many other places there were rich and elaborately made houses that Apolidon had enchanted, as Book II has recounted in greater detail, his principal place of residence and where he spent the most time was that tower. For that reason he had decorated it with such things and riches that the greatest emperor in the world would not dare even to try to reproduce.

It contained nine rooms, three on each floor, one above another, each one different, and although some of them had been made with the ingenuity of men who were very wise, all the rest was done by the art and great wisdom of Apolidon, so amazingly worked that no one in the world would be able to appreciate it, much less understand its great subtlety. And because it would be very tedious to describe in detail, it will only be said that this tower was located in the middle of a garden. A very beautiful masonry wall surrounded the garden, which contained the most beautiful trees and other plants of all types ever seen, and fountains flowing with very sweet water. Many of the trees bore fruit throughout the year, and others lovely flowers. Inside this garden, an arcade along the wall was wrought with gold grillwork through which greenery could be seen, and one could walk within it around the garden and could only enter and leave by a single doorway.

The ground was paved with stones, some white and like glass, some colored and clear like rubies, and others of various kinds, which Apolidon had ordered brought from islands in the Orient where precious stones and other amazing things are produced and transported to other lands. They are created by the great heat of the sun that burns there continuously, but the islands are only populated by fearsome beasts. People living nearby had warned about them and had never gone there themselves. But that wise Apolidon ingeniously made artifices so his men could move among them without fear of being killed. And since that time, many things have been brought to the rest of the world that had never before been seen, and from them Apolidon earned great wealth.

The four sides of this tower were encircled by four fountains with water from the high mountains, brought by metal pipes, and the water fell from high up on pillars of gilded copper, from the mouths of animals. From the first floor windows, water could easily be reached, which was collected in round golden basins that were set into the pillars themselves. From these four fountains the entire garden was watered.

In this tower that ye hear of were lodged Princess Oriana and the other ladies that ye know of, each one in her chamber as she merited and as Princess Mabilia ordered. There they were served by ladies and damsels with everything they could possibly need, which Amadis had ordered supplied for them. And no knight could enter the garden or the chambers at Oriana’s preference. She sent word to those lords to ask for their understanding, for she wished to remain there as if cloistered until her father the King offered some promise to agree to peace and concord. They all held her idea to be very virtuous and praised her good intentions, and they sent a message to say in that, as in every other thing in her service, they could do nothing but follow her will.

Amadis’s anguished heart could nowhere find repose nor remedy except in the presence of his lady, because she was the only source of his rest, and without her presence he was continuously tormented by and suffered from great mortal desires, as ye have heard many times throughout this great story, but he wished even more for her contentment and feared more the loss of her honor than dying himself a hundred thousand times. So, beyond anyone else, he showed contentment and pleasure at what that lady considered proper and honest. As a remedy for his passions and anguish, he knew that he had her in his power and in a place where she had nothing to fear in the world, and where before losing her he would lose his own life; at death, the great flames that continually seared his sad heart would cool and grow still.

All the great lords and knights and the common men were given lodging according to their tastes in places on the island that were appropriate for their conditions and qualities, and they were supplied generously with everything necessary for a good and pleasant life. Although Amadis had always traveled as a poor knight, he had found on that island great treasures to provide him income, and he had many jewels of great worth that his mother the Queen and other great ladies had given him, and since he had had no need for them, they had been sent there. And besides that, all of the residents and inhabitants of the island, who were very rich and prudent with their wealth, were happy to serve him by providing generous provisions of bread and meat and wine, and the other things that they could give him.

And so as ye hear Princess Oriana was brought to Firm Island with those ladies and was given lodging, as were all the knights who were in her service and assistance.


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