Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Chapter 123 [part 2 of 2]

[Of the arrival of a great dragon from the sea, and whom it bore within.] 

[Lithograph from an 1838 edition of Amadis de Gaula printed in Madrid by M. Pita.]

The day after they arrived was spent resting from the journey, then the Kings met with great pleasure to arrange the manner in which the weddings would be performed, and to plan the return to their lands, where they had much to do, some of them to go to win the kingdoms of their enemies, and others to lend them help.

As they were meeting beneath some trees next to the fountains that ye have been told of, they heard shouting from outside of the garden, and a great deal of outcry. They asked what it was about, and they were told that the most terrifying and strange thing ever seen was coming by sea. Then all the Kings called for their horses and mounted, as did all the other knights, and they went to the port. And the Queens and all the ladies climbed to the height of the tower, where they could see a great deal of the land and sea.

They spotted a great cloud of smoke, the darkest and most frightening they had ever seen, coming over the water. They all stood still waiting to learn what it could be. And soon the smoke began to clear, and they saw in its center a dragon much larger than the largest ship or galley in the world, and it had great wings longer than the flight of an arrow from a bow, and a tail spiraling upwards much taller than a great tower. Its head and mouth and teeth were so large, and its eyes so terrifying, that no one dared to look at it, and from time to time it blew black smoke from its nostrils that rose up to the sky and covered it. It made snorts and hisses so loud and so frightful that it seemed that the sea was about to collapse, and it spit so much water from its mouth so hard and so far that no ship, no matter how large it was, could approach it without being sunk.

The Kings and knights, regardless of how brave they were, looked at each other and did not know what to say, for against such a fearful and ghastly thing they did not believe or imagine that any resistance could suffice, but they stood their ground. The great dragon, as it drew closer, rose up from the water three or four times, showing its ferocity and flapping its wings so hard that the clatter of its scales could be heard from half a league.

When those lords’ horses saw it, no rider was able to contain his mount, and they fled away through the fields until the lords were able to force them to let them dismount. Some said that it would be good to arm themselves against it, and others said that since it was a wild beast of the water, it would not dare to come onto land, and in case it did, they would have time to take shelter within the island, for already, having seen the land, it had begun to slow.

As they stood in astonishment at such a thing, the likes of which they had never heard nor seen, they saw that from the side of the dragon was launched a skiff covered with rich golden cloth. A  lady was in it with young noblemen on either side, all richly dressed, whose shoulders she held for support. Two very ugly and strange-looking dwarves were rowing, and they brought the skiff toward land. The lords were very amazed to see such an extraordinary thing, but King Lisuarte said:

“If I am not wrong, this is Urganda the Unrecognized. And ye should recall,” he said to Amadis, “the fear it gave us when we were in my town of Fenusa and we saw those flames coming across the sea.”

“I also thought so after I saw that skiff,” Amadis said, “but earlier I was sure that dragon was some devil against which we would have a difficult struggle.”

At this time the skiff neared the shore, and as it did, they knew that the lady was Urganda the Unrecognized, for she had chosen to show her real form, which she rarely did. Instead she would often appear in strange bodies, sometimes exceptionally old, other times as a small child, as has been told in many places in this story.

So she arrived with her very handsome and well-dressed young noblemen, and their clothing was adorned in many places and worked with precious stones of great value. The Kings and lords came forward on foot, as they were, to the part of the beach where she landed. And when she arrived, she left the skiff holding the hands of her handsome youths, and immediately went to King Lisuarte to kiss his hands, but the King embraced her and did not wish to give them, as did King Perion and King Cildadan. Then she turned to the Emperor and told him:

“My good lord, although ye do not know me nor have I ever seen you, I know a lot about your estate and who ye are and the great worth of your noble personage and your great state. And because of this and for the service that ye shall receive from me soon, along with the Empress, I wish to have your love and consideration so that ye shall remember me when ye are in your empire and shall send me news about anything in which I may serve you, for although it may seem to you that the lands where I live are very far from yours, it would not be a great effort for me to travel the entire distance in a single day.”

The Emperor told her:

“My good friend and lady, I am more content to have won your love and goodwill than to have won most of my empire. And since by your virtue ye have invited me to make use of it, do not forget what ye have promised, for if my heart and will are prepared to thank you with all my ability, ye know better than I do.”

Urganda told him:

“My lord, I shall see you at a time when through me the first fruit of your engenderment shall be restored to you.”

Then she looked at Amadis, with whom she had not had time to speak, and she said:

“Of you, noble knight, no embrace should be forsaken, but given how favorable fortune has raised you into such grandeur and heights, ye may no longer have much consideration for the few services and pleasures that we can provide, because these mundane things, given the nature of the world, with or without cause may come and go quickly. It may seem that now ye may enjoy your life without care, especially since ye have the thing that ye most desired in the world in your power, without which all the rest left you with painful loneliness. Yet now it is more necessary than ever to sustain them with redoubled effort, for fortune is even more content to attack and show its strength at such heights because a much larger loss and disgrace to your great honor may be caused by losing what ye have won than it would have been before ye had won it.”

Amadis told her:

“Given the great benefits that I have received from you, my good lady, with the great love that ye have always had for me, although I now find myself in a powerful position and with the satisfaction of my will, I would find it very poor to place such matters in my own hands that involve your honor and that should be placed in yours. What I have cannot be so much, even if it were the whole world, that it would be unreasonable to risk it that way.”

Urganda told him:

“The great love that I have for you makes me speak foolishly and give advice where there is none needed.”

Then all the knights arrived and greeted her. And she said to Sir Galaor:

“And to you, my good lord, nor to King Cildadan shall I say anything now, for I shall dwell here with you for some days, and we shall have time to speak.”

Turning to her dwarves, she ordered them to return to the Great Dragon and bring her palfrey in a boat, and a horse for each of her young noblemen, and so it was immediately done. The horses of the Kings and lords were some distance away, and the fear of that fierce beast did not permit them to be brought near. They left men there to put her on her palfrey, and they went on foot to get their mounts.

She asked the men to agree that no one should escort her besides those two youths, who were her beloved, and so it was done, and they all went on to the castle, she in the rear with her company. They rode until they reached the garden where the Queens and great ladies were, for she did not wish to be lodged anywhere else.

Before she entered, she said to Esplandian:

“Very handsome youth, I commend to you my treasure to guard, for none so fine shall be found in many lands.”

Then she delivered the two youths by the hand, and she entered the garden, where she was received by all the ladies there better than any woman anywhere. When she saw so many Queens, Princesses, and an infinite number of other ladies of great esteem and worth, she looked at them all with great pleasure and said:

“Oh, my heart! What canst thou see ever again that could not cause thee more melancholy? For in one day thou hast seen the best and most virtuous and courageous knights in the world, and the most honorable and beautiful queens and ladies ever born. Truly, I can say that of the one and the other, here is perfection. And I can say even more, that just as here is brought together all height at arms and all beauty of the world, so love is upheld with greater loyalty than could be found at any other time.”

So she entered the tower with the ladies, and she asked permission from the Queens to be able to lodge with Oriana and with the ladies who were with her, and they brought her up to their quarters. When she was in her chamber, she could not take her eyes from Oriana and Queen Briolanja, and from Melicia and Olinda, for their beauty could not be equaled, and she merely embraced them one after another. And so she was with them as if she were out of her mind with pleasure, and they did her such honor as if she were the lady reigning over them all.


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