BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
fter Agrayes had returned from the war of Gaul, he prepared to cross to Norway, where was his Lady Olinda. One day, when he was hunting, he came to a high rock upon the sea shore, and there arose a sudden storm, and he saw a ship in great peril, wherewith he being moved to pity, kindled up great fires as the night came on, that the light might direct them, and there he himself awaited to see the end. At last, by the skill of the mariners, and above all by the mercy of the true God, the ship that was so often at the point of perishing, took safe harbour. There landed from it some damsels; Agrayes sent his huntsmen to assist them, and lodged them in his hunting-huts. The mariners meantime took their suppers round the fires that he had kindled, and fell asleep. The prince after some time went to the apartment where the damsels were, and coming to the door he saw them seated round a fire, and among them the fair princess, his Lady Olinda, daughter of the King of Norway. Amazed at seeing her, he exclaimed Holy Mary, help me! the lady of my heart! Great joy was there at that meeting, and full happily did those lovers, thus unexpectedly met, pass the night together. Six days they remained there, concealing their loves so well, that none save her damsels knew what passed. At the end of that time the weather abated. Olinda told him she was on her way to Great Britain, to live with Queen Brisena, and there Agrayes promised to follow, since he had no reason to visit Norway, and at Lisuarte's court he should find his cousin Amadis, and enjoy his lady's company. So they parted, and Olinda took ship again, and arrived safely at the Island of Windsor.
Now remained Agrayes on the shore giving many a long look after the ship, till having lost sight of it he returned to Briantes, where the king his father sojourned, and finding there his uncle Galvanes, who was called Lackland, he proposed to him to visit King Lisuarte's court, for there, said he, we may gain honour and fame, which cannot be done in this land. To this Galvanes willingly assented, for he had no lordship to detain him, and they took leave of Languines, and embarked with their squires and horses, and sailed prosperously till they reached the town called Bristol. There they landed, and proceeded on through a forest till they met a damsel, who enquired if that way led to the rock of Galtares. They told her no, and asked why she went thither. To seek a good knight, who will remedy the trouble I endure. Damsel, said Agrayes, you go wrong, for at that rock you will only find the great giant Albadan, and if you take sorrow to him he will double it. But, said she, the knight whom I seek hath slain Albadan in single fight. Certes, damsel, you tell us wonder! how, quoth Galvanes, for never knight fought singly with a giant, save only King Abies of Ireland, who fought with one, himself being armed and the giant naked, by which advantage he slew him; yet was this under taking thought a madness : your speeches then sound not to any likelihood, for this Albadan is the fiercest giant in all the islands of the sea. Sirs, said the damsel, this knight hath slain him; and then she related how the battle had been, and that the knight's name was Don Galaor, son of the King of Gaul. Ah, damsel, quoth Agrayes, you tell me the news in the world that rejoices me most! to hear of my cousin, whom I held as rather dead than alive; but what would you have with him?- Sir, I seek his aid in behalf of a damsel who is imprisoned on his account, by the accusation of a dwarf, the most villainous creature that ever was born ; and then she told him what had passed with Galaor and the dwarf, but concerning Aldeva's love she said nothing; and because the damsel will not confess what the dwarf hath avouched, the Duke of Bristol hath sworn that within ten days she shall be burnt alive ; and this is a great grief to the other ladies, lest the damsel for fear of death should accuse any of them that for her sake Galaor came into the castle, and four days of the ten are now past. Agrayes answered, since it is so, you need travel no farther; guide us thither, and we will perform what Galaor should do, if not in strength yet in good will. So she turned back, and they arrived at the duke's castle the day before the execution should be. The duke was then at table; they dismounted, and entered the hall where he was, armed as they were; and he saluted them, and bade them eat. Sir, said they, we must first declare the cause of our coming. And Don Galvanes then proceeded: Duke, you detain a damsel prisoner upon the false and wicked accusation of a dwarf. We beseech you to deliver her, because she hath no way misdone; and if it be needful to prove her innocence let come two others to maintain his quarrel, for we are ready as her defenders. You say much! quoth the duke, and with that called for the dwarf, and asked him what reply he would make. Sir, said he, I have a champion who will prove the truth of what I say; and he called a knight, who was his nephew, but so strong and large of limb, that he did not look to be of the same kin, and he presented himself to do battle for the accuser. The duke rose from his meal to see the fight. I shall not, said he, determine the damsel's fate by the issue of this battle. Sir, said Agrayes, you have imprisoned her upon the dwarfs accusation, and if I defeat his champion you are bound in right to acquit her. I have told you my mind, replied the duke.
Agrayes, tarrying for no more words, turned his horse, running a brave career against the dwarfs knight; they brake their staves gallantly in the encounter, meeting likewise so furiously with their bodies that they were both laid along the ground ; yet quickly they recovered, and unsheathed their swords, and delivered fierce and cruel strokes to each other ; their swords were sharp, and the knights valiant and haughtily disposed, by means whereof their armour, helmets and shields were in a short time made of slender resistance. At length the dwarf's nephew gave back and said, we have combated enough, and it appears to me that neither the knight, whose cause you have undertaken, is guilty, nor yet the dwarf my uncle to blame, for otherwise the battle could not have lasted so long: if it please you, then, let them both be held as loyal. Certes, quoth the prince, the knight is a loyal knight, but the dwarf is a false dwarf and a wicked, and I will not leave you till your own mouth confess him so. The battle was then renewed, but the dwarf's nephew was now so sorely pressed, that the duke returned lest he should see his death, and said aloud as he went, Henceforth I swear to take vengeance upon all knights errant. A foolish war hast thou denounced, quoth Galvanes, against errant knights, who go about to redress wrong!
By this time his antagonist was at the feet of Agrayes, who plucked off his helmet and struck at his face with the hilt of his sword, saying, confess the disloyalty of the dwarf towards the knight. Ah, gentle knight, quoth he, do not slay me! I own that he for whom you combat is good and loyal, and I promise to gain the damsel's release; but for God's sake do not make me say that the dwarf is false, for he is my uncle and he bred me up. At these words all the assistants marvelled, and Agrayes was moved to pity. He replied, let be the dwarf! but for you, who are a good knight, I release you, provided you will do your uttermost to deliver the damsel.
While this past the duke got near the castle, but Galvanes laid hold on his bridle, and pointed where his champion lay at the prince's feet;- he is slain or conquered! what say you of the damsel ?Knight, you are more than mad if you think I will do otherwise with her than I have resolved and sworn. And what have you sworn?- That she shall be burnt to-morrow unless she confess for whom she in troduced the knight into my palace. What! will you not deliver her? No, quoth the duke, and if you tarry longer in this land I shall find you also employment here ! As he said this, certain of his attendants came up. Galvanes then let loose the bridle ;- You threaten us, and you will not release the damsel as right is, therefore I defy you on my own behalf, and for all errant knights! And I defy you and all, replied the duke; in an evil hour shall any of you come here! Greatly enraged was Agrayes at hearing what had passed: a man like this, quoth he, from, whom no right can be obtained, should not be the lord of a land. Then he cried to the dwarf's nephew, remember what thou hast promised; and with that he and his uncle departed. It was now about vespers, and they entered the forest of Arunda. Nephew, said Galvanes, let us lie in wait here for the duke or some of his people! So they turned aside from the path into a thicket, and dismounted, and sent their squires into the town for what things were needful, and there they remained that night.
The duke meantime in great wrath sent for the damsel, and bade her look to her soul, for she should be burnt to-morrow unless she confessed; but she would disclose nothing. The dwarf's nephew then knelt down, and told the duke what he had promised to Agrayes, and besought him for God's sake to release the damsel; but the duke swore he would rather lose his whole estates than break the vow he had sworn ; and the knight was greatly troubled, for he hoped to have discharged himself of his fealty. In the morning, the duke called again for the damsel; Chuse, said he, the truth or the fire ! one or the other! She replied, you must do your will, but against all right! Then he commanded two knights and twelve men at arms to take charge of her, and he himself mounted his horse with only a truncheon in his hand, and went with them to burn the damsel at the forest edge; and when they arrived and all was ready, he said, Now set fire to her, and let her die in her obstinacy ! All this Galvanes and his nephew saw, and as they were already armed they mounted, and commanded one of their squires to attend to nothing but the damsel, but to place her in safety; and then they rode towards the smoke. But now had the damsel so great a fear, that she cried out, Sir, I will confess! and the duke came nigh to hear her, when he saw Don Galvanes and Agrayes come galloping up, and they cried out, deliver the damsel! His two knights were lightly dismounted, and his men at arms slain or maimed, and he himself fled full speed towards the town, and Galvanes shouted after him, Stay, sir duke, and make proof of the enemies whom you have defied !
The duke speedily armed himself and collected all his company, and sallied out to pursue them; and coming to the forest he divided them into parties of five, and sent them different ways. He himself with his five companions had the lot to find whom he sought. Now nephew, quoth Galvanes, show your worth ! In the combat the duke encountered Agrayes; Agrayes made a blow at him that only struck his vizor, but it went through and sheared his nose clean away; and the duke, who thought he had been slain, turned bridle and galloped away. The prince then turned to his uncle's assistance, and soon forced the two knights, who still kept their saddles, to make the best use of their horses in flight.
This battle won, they asked the damsel if there was any place of lodging near. Yes, said she, I know the dwelling of a knight hard by, named Olivas, a mortal enemy to the duke ; and she guided them there, where Olivas gave then the better welcome for what had happened. The morrow morning as they were about to depart, Olivas said to them, Sirs, the duke slew my cousin treacherously, and I shall accuse him for his death before King Lisuarte; and for this I beseech your advice, and your aid as errant knights who redress wrong, if need should be. That did the knights readily promise, and Olivas accompanied them to Windsor.