BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
uch speed made Amadis, that, having over thrown the knight who would have known whither he went, he overtook him who misused the damsel, and cried to him, Sir knight, you have been committing great wrong: I pray you do so no more.- What wrong?- The shamefullest that could be devised, in striking that damsel. And you are come to chastise me?- Not so: but to counsel you for your own good. It will be more for yours to turn back as you came, said the knight. Thereat was Amadis angered : and he went to the squire and said, Let go the damsel, or thou diest! and the squire in fear put her down. Sir knight, you shall dearly abide this, quoth his master. Amadis answered, We shall see! and ran his career and drove him from his saddle, and was about to ride over him, but he cried out for mercy!- Swear then never to wrong dame or damsel. And, as he approached to receive the oath, the traitor stabbed his horse. Amadis recovered from the fall, and with one blow paid him for the treason.
The damsel then besought him to compleat his courtesy by accompanying her to a castle whither she was going. He took the horse of the slain, and they went on together, and by the way he learnt from her the history of Antebon. About midnight they came to a river-side, and, because the damsel would fain sleep, they stopt. Amadis spread Gandalin's cloak for her bed, and he laid his head upon his helmet, and they all slept. There came up a knight as they were sleeping, and he seeing the damsel, gently wakened her with the end of his lance. She seeing an armed knight, thought it was Amadis, and said, Do you wish us to depart? He answered, It is time! In God's name then, quoth she; and, being still drowsy, she suffered the stranger to place her before him; but then recollecting, What is this? she cried: the squire should have carried me. And when she saw it was a stranger, she shrieked out and called to Amadis, Let not a stranger carry me off! But the knight clapt spurs to his horse, and gallopped away.
Amadis awoke at her voice, and called to Gandalin for his horse, and pursued full speed till he entered a thicket and lost the track. Then albeit he were the mildest knight in the world; he was sorely wroth against himself. The damsel may well report, thought he, that I have done her as much wrong as succour; for, if I saved her from one ravisher, I have suffered her to be stolen by another. So he rode about, wearying his horse, till at length he heard a horn, and followed the sound, and came to a strong castle set upon a hill, walled high, and with strong towers, and the gate was shut. The watchman saw him, and called out to know what man was there at such an hour, and what he sought. A knight, quoth Amadis, who hath stolen a damsel from me.- We have seen none such. Then Amadis went round the castle, and in another part he found an open postern, and saw the knight on foot, and his men unsaddling the horse, who could not else pass through. Stop, sir knight, quoth Amadis, and tell me if you have taken my damsel?- You took no care to keep her.- You stole her from me in a way neither courteous nor knightly. Friend! quoth the knight, she came with me by her own will; I offered her no force, and here I have her. Shew me the damsel, said Amadis, and, if she says the same, I will rest contented. To-morrow you shall see her, here within, if you will enter upon the custom of the castle.What is the custom?- I will not now tell you, for it is night: if you wait till morning you may know. And he then shut the postern. So Amadis passed the remainder of the night under the trees.
When the sun was up he saw the gate open, and riding up to it saw an armed knight in the gateway, and the porter with him, who asked Amadis if he would enter? Why have I tarried here else? answered Amadis. First then, said the porter, you must hear our custom that you may not complain of it hereafter: if you enter here, you must do combat with this knight, and if he get the victory you must swear to obey the command of the lady of this castle, other wise you will be cast into a miserable prison; if the victory be yours, you will find two other knights at the next gate, and farther in three more; with all these you must fight under the same condition; but, if you bear away the honour in these attempts, not only will it be great renown of prowess, but right shall be done in whatsoever you demand. Dear terms! cried Amadis: but I must see the damsel. The first champion encountered him to his cost. Amadis held his lance to him as he lay on the ground, Yield or die! The knight cried, Mercy! and shewed a broken arm: then he of Gaul rode on. The two who kept the next pass ran at him; the one missed his blow, the other he drove down, all stunned, breaking his lance in his shield; then, with the truncheon of his lance, he smote the one who was on horseback, so that the helmet came off: both drew their swords. Knight, quoth Amadis, it is folly to continue the com bat bare-headed! Look to thine own head! was the answer ; but Amadis staggered him with one stroke, then with the side of the sword struck his head as he was reeling, Knight, it had been gone, if I had laid on with the edge ! And after this victory he past on.
There within he saw dames and damsels on the wall, and heard them say, if this knight pass the bridge in despite of the three, he will have done a most rare feat of chivalry. Presently there came out three knights, well armed on goodly coursers; Yield, said they, or swear to perform our lady's will. I am not yet won, quoth Amadis; and for the lady's will, I know not what it may be. With that there began a fierce battle, for the three of the castle were hardy knights, practised in arms, and he whom they encountered was not one that would leave off with shame. Amadis so displayed himself, that his antagonists, no longer able for many wounds and great loss of blood to sustain him, took to flight. The one he overtook and made him yield, the other twain he followed into the hall; there stood at the door thereof about twenty dames and damsels, and the fairest of them all said to him, Hold, sir knight, you have done enough. Lady, let them own themselves vanquished. Wherefore? how have they wronged you?- I was told to slay or conquer them before I could obtain my demand. They told you if you could penetrate here by force you should obtain it: say then what you would have. A damsel, whom a knight stole from me while I slept, and has brought hither. I pray you, sir, replied the lady, rest while I send for the knight to answer you.
Then he alighted, and the lady sate down by him, and asked him if he knew a knight called Amadis?- Why ask you?- Because all the guard you found in this castle was appointed for his sake; if he entered here, he should never depart till he revoked a promise which he has made.- What might it have been?- I will tell you, if you, will promise by arms or otherwise to make him revoke it, for it is an injustice. Lady, whatever Amadis hath so promised, I will with my utmost power make him discharge. Sir knight, quoth she, this Amadis promised Angriote of Estravaus to procure his lady's liking to him: this was ill done, for love should be of liking, not of force. Certes, lady, you say true, and that promise will I make him release, said Amadis ; no less glad for what had past than the lady, though for another cause. Belike then, you are that lady whom Angriote so loveth?- The same. Of a truth, I hold him for one of the best knights living, and methinks there is no lady, however honourable, who might not pride herself to have such a servant as he. I do not say this to recal the word which I have given you, but because he is a better knight than he who gave him that promise.