BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
madis, after he had left Urganda, rode on through the forest till he was benighted. After some time he saw a light above the trees, and rode toward it thinking to find a lodging. He came at length to a goodly fortress wherein were the lights that he had seen, which were from the window of a tower, and he heard the voices of men and women singing and making mirth. He called at the gate, but they heard him not; at last those in the tower saw him through the battlements, and a knight asked who was there? A strange knight. So it seems, quoth he, you must be a strange knight to go about in the dark; I believe it is for fear lest you should be obliged to do battle with us by day-light, and now you can meet none but the devils. Amadis answered, If you were good for any thing you would know that many are benighted who cannot help it. Be gone ! quoth the knight, you shall not enter here. As God shall help me, said Amadis, I think thou hast no man of valour in thy company ! tell me thy name before we part.- That shall I do on condition that whensoever we meet thou wilt fight me. To that Amadis, who was in wrath, readily assented. Know then that my name is Dardan, and badly as thou wilt fare this night, thou wilt fare much worse the day that I shall meet thee! Come out, quoth Amadis, and let them light us by those torches to do battle!What! said Dardan, arm myself at this hour to fight with thee ? ill fall the knight who should put on his spurs and harness for such an enemy ! and with that he went in.
Amadis proceeded through the forest, seeking some bush under which he might shelter himself. Presently he heard voices, and proceeding faster he came up to two damsels on their palfreys, attended by a squire. They saluted courteously, and Amadis recounted his adventure. Know you the knight's name ? said they. He told me it was Dardan. True ! he is called Dardan the Proud, the haughtiest knight in this country : but, sir, seeing that you are so unprovided of lodging, will you abide this night in our tents which are pitched near at hand? He, glad of their courtesy, rode with them; and having there alighted he unarmed, and when the damsels saw how fair he was they delighted to see him. So they supped cheerfully together, and a tent was spread for him wherein he should sleep. Meantime they asked him whither he was bound? To the court of King Lisuarte. And we are going there also ; to see what will happen to a lady, one of the 'best and noblest in the land : all that she hath in the world is put upon the issue of a combat, which is to be performed within ten days before King Lisuarte ; but we know not who will appear to defend her, for he against whom her champion must fight is the best knight in Great Britain, that very Dardan the Proud, whom you so lately left. And on what cause, said Amadis, ariseth the combat?- This Dardan loveth the daughter of a knight, who at his second nuptials, married the lady I speak of. Now hath this damsel conceived such hatred against her stepmother, that she hath vowed never to love Dardan unless he bring her to King Lisuarte's court, and affirm that all her step-mother's goods appertain to her, and maintain it by battle against whomsoever dare gainsay; and the dame, who was not well advised, said she would produce a champion, and this she did for her manifest right, thinking that one would be found to combat for her; but Dardan is so good a knight in arms, that be it for right or wrong all fear him. These tidings rejoiced Amadis, for the knight was against all pride, and now might he indulge his own anger in a just cause, and that in the presence of Oriana. I pray ye, sir, said one of the damsels, for courtesy acquaint us with the reason of your sudden musing. Willingly, if you will promise me, as loyal damsels, not to reveal it, I mean, quoth he, to combat for the lady. Gentle sir, that thought proceedeth from a high resolved mind : God grant it a good issue! So gave they each to other the good night, and went to rest.
In the morning the damsels intreated that he would not leave them, seeing they were bound to one place, and that in the forest kept men of evil behaviour. They rode along with sundry discoursings, and among other talk they asked the knight, since God had placed them in company, that he would tell them his name; the which he did, but charged them to let none know it. So they proceeded through unfrequented ways, lodging in their tents, and regaling on the food they took with them. At length they saw two knights under a tree, armed and on horseback, who seeing them placed themselves in the way, the one saying to his companion, which of these damsels will you have ? This ! quoth he, and seized the one, as his comrade did the other. What, sirs! quoth Amadis, what manner of behaviour is this? what would ye do with the damsels?- Make them our mistresses! So lightly think ye to win them? said he, and took his helm and shield and lance; now release them ! The one knight met him bravely, and broke his lance ; but Amadis gave him such an attaint that he lay with his heels upwards. The second came on, and pierced through his arms, and slightly wounded Amadis. He on his part failed with his lance, but shields and horses met, and Amadis seized him and plucked him from the saddle, and dashed him down, and then rode on  with the damsels.
When at length they came near Windsor, Amadis said, fair friends, I would remain in secret here till such time as the knight come to the combat, and, when the hour is, let your squire bring me hither tidings thereof. Sir, quoth the damsel, if it please you we will remain with you; so they pitched their tents apart from the road, by the river-side. Meanwhile Amadis went upon a little eminence to look at the town, and there he sate under a tree, and looked toward the towers and the high walls, and he said in his heart, ah, God ! the flower of the world is there! and thou city containest now the lady that hath no peer for goodness and beauty; and who is more loved than all others that are loved, and that would I prove upon the best knight in the world. And in these thoughts the tears trilled down his cheeks, and he sat heedless of every thing about him. But Gandalin, who saw a troop of knights and ladies coming up, called to him, and asked if he did not see that company? he neither heard nor answered. With that Gandalin took him by the arm, So help me God, sir, you afflict yourself more than need is ; take courage as you do in other things ! Ah, Gandalin, quoth he, you had better counsel me to die, than to endure this hopeless sorrow ! Then could not the squire refrain from lamenting. This excessive love is a great misfortune ; as God shall help me, I do not think that there is any one, how good and beautiful soever she may be, who can equal your worth, or whom you might not have. At this was Amadis greatly enraged: Go, idiot! said he, how dare you talk so madly? if ever you again repeat such thoughts, you shall go no farther with me. Dry your eyes, said Gandalin, and let not them who are coming see you thus ! It was the lady coming to her trial, weeping and lamenting as she went, for there was none to defend her right.
On the day of the trial the damsels rose at dawn, and told Amadis that they would go before to the town, and send him word when it was time to appear. He rode with them to the edge of the forest, and there awaited. By this it was sunrise, and King Lisuarte with a goodly company went out to the field which was between the city and the forest; and there came Dardan, well armed and on a fair courser, leading the bridle of his lady, who was as richly adorned as she could be; and thus they stopped before King Lisuarte. And Dardan said, Sir, command that this lady have that which is her own delivered to her; or, if there be a knight to gainsay it, I am ready to combat him. Lisuarte then called the dame, and asked her if she was provided with a champion. She answered, No; and wept; and the king greatly pitied her, for she was a virtuous lady. So Dardan entered the lists, to remain there till the hour of tierce , by which time if no champion appeared, the king was to pronounce judgment in his favour, according to the custom. Then one of the damsels hastened to call Amadis, and he took his arms and told the damsels and Gandalin that if he sped well he would return to them in the tents, and with that he rode on, on his white courser. When the king saw the knight approach, how firmly he rode and his arms how fair they were and his horse how goodly a one, he marvelled who he might be, and asked the dame, who was brought to trial, if she knew the knight who came to defend her cause. I never saw him before, quoth she, nor know I who he is. By this, Amadis entered the lists and rode up to his enemy,- Dardan, defend your lady's cause, as I shall maintain and acquit the promise which I made thee ! And what didst thou promise me? quoth Dardan. To fight thee, and that was when thou toldest me thy name, and hadst dealt with me villainously. I make the less account of thee now, said Dardan; And I, said Amadis, care less for thy words, for I am about to have vengeance. Let the dame then, replied Dardan, accept thee for her champion, and avenge thyself if thou canst. The king then came up ; the dame was asked if she would admit that knight for her defender. She replied, Yes, and God reward him ! Lisuarte saw that the shield of Amadis was pierced in many places, and that the rim had many sword cuts, and he said, if the knight demanded another shield, he could lawfully give him one; but Amadis was in no temper for delay, for he remembered the insults he had received. They ran their course, both lances pierced through shield and armour and shivered, but without wound ing ; their horses and shields met, and Dardan was thrown, but he held the rein fast, and sprung readily upon the horse again, and drew his sword, and they attacked each other so fiercely that all who beheld them were astonished. The town's people were on the towers and on the wall and wherever else they could see the combat, and the windows of the queen's palace, which were above the wall, were full of dames and damsels, all marvelling at the valour of the combatants, for the fire flew from their helmets as if they were all ablaze, and plates and splinters fell on all sides from their shields and mail, and neither a whit abated of his courage. King Lisuarte had been himself in many a hard conflict and seen many a one, but all appeared nothing to this. This is the bravest combat, said he, that ever man hath seen, and I will have the conqueror's image placed over my palace gate, that all who are desirous to gain honour may behold it.
But before the hour of tierce it was evident that Dardan's force failed, though Amadis was nothing abated of his strength, only his horse was faint, and Dardan's also stumbled, and he, thinking to have the advantage on foot, said to Amadis, Knight, our horses fail us for fatigue : if we were on foot I should soon conquer thee. This he said so loud that the king and all with him could hear; and Amadis, somewhat ashamed at the threat, answered, Alight then! though a knight should never leave his horse while he can sit on it. Then alighting they both took what of their shields remained, and assailed each other more fiercely than before ; but Amadis now prest on him, and Dardan retreated and staggered, and sometimes bent his knees, so that all the beholders said he had committed a great folly in proposing to fight on foot; and he still giving back from the sword of Amadis, came under the queen's window, and there was a cry there, "Holy Mary, Dardan is slain !" and Amadis heard among them the voice of the damsel of Denmark. Then he looked up, and saw his lady Oriana at the window, and the damsel by her : that sight so overcame him that the sword hung loose in his hand, and he continued looking up regardless of his situation. Dardan, recovering by this respite, noticed his confusion and took heart again ; and, lifting the sword with both hands, smote him on the helmet so that it was twisted on his head. Amadis did not return the blow, he only placed his helmet right again, and with that Dardan laid on him at all parts, and he feebly defended him self, and Dardan's courage increased. Then cried the damsel of Denmark, In an ill minute did that knight look up and see one here who made him forget himself when his enemy was at the point of death ! Certes such a knight ought not to fail in such a time ! At these words Amadis had such shame that willingly would he have been dead lest his lady should suspect there was any cowardice in him, and he struck a blow at Dardan that brought him down; and plucked his helmet off, and held the sword to his face,- Dardan, you are dead, unless you yield the cause! Mercy, knight! quoth he, and I yield it. Then the king came up; but Amadis, for the shame of what had befallen him, would make no tarriance, but sprung to his horse, and rode the fastest that he could into the forest.
The mistress of Dardan, who saw him so rudely handled, came up to him now and said, Seek now, Dardan, some other mistress, for I will neither love thee nor any other than that good knight who over came thee! What! said Dardan, have I been so wounded and conquered in your quarrel, and now you forsake me for the very enemy! Go ! thou art a right woman to say this, and I will give thee thy reward ! and he took his sword, and in a moment smote her head from her body. Then, after a minute's thought, he cried, Ah, wretch ! I have slain the thing in the world that I loved best! and he ran himself through before any one could stop his hand. In the uproar that this occasioned, none thought of following Amadis ; and though Dardan was so brave a knight, yet most who were present now rejoiced at his death, for his strength had always been unjustly and tyrannically employed.
 A sword combat with the same knights, who followed to revenge themselves, is omitted.