BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
hile King Lisuarte was with such company in such pleasure, there came in a fair damsel clad in mourning, who falling on her knees before him, said, All here, sir, have joy but me, and I have grief and wretchedness, and only you can relieve me! Friend, quoth the king, how may that be? My father and uncle are in the prison of a lady, who will never deliver them till they give her two knights each as good in arms as one whom they have slain. Wherefore did they slay him? Because he vaunted that he alone could combat with them both, and defied them with such insolence, that they were compelled by shame to enter lists with him, and so he was slain. This was before the Castle of Guldenda, who immediately made my father and uncle prisoners, for that knight was engaged to wage a battle for her, and she swore never to release them till they gave her two other knights for that service, each as approved in arms. Know you not, said Lisuarte, where the battle is to be fought? She answered, I cannot tell: I only know my father and uncle are unjustly cast into prison, and none of their kin can help them. And with that she began to lament bitterly, so that the king, moved with pity, answered, Is the castle far from hence? You may go and return in five days, quoth she. Then said Lisuarte, chuse two knights, and take them with you. Sir, quoth she, I am of a strange land, and know none of them: if it please you, I will go to the queen my lady and ask her counsel.
The damsel repeated her tale to Brisena, and asked her to name two knights. O damsel? quoth the Queen, you ask me what I ought to do, but I am loth to forego the twain. Then she called for Amadis and Galaor: this knight, said she, is mine; the other is the king's; they are the best knights here or else where, Amadis and Galaor. What! quoth the damsel? are you Sir Amadis? the knight that hath no peer? now shall I of a certainty accomplish what I desire, if you and your brother will accompany me. Lady, for God's sake intreat them for me! The queen used her intreaties, but Amadis looked at Oriana for her permission; and she dropt her gloves in token that he should go, for that sign had been agreed on between them, and she had compassion on the damsel. Then he replied, that he would perform the queen's command. But Brisena commanded them to hasten back without delay, let what would happen. Then Amadis approached Mabilia and Oriana, as if to take leave of his cousin, and Oriana said, dear friend, I repent the leave I have given you; my heart misgives me: God grant that it be for good! Lady, quoth Amadis, may he who made you so fair, always give you much joy! wherever I may be, I am still yours to serve you. I commend you to God's good keeping, she replied: may he preserve and give you glory above all other knights! They then armed themselves, and took their leave, and departed with the damsel.
She guided them till it was past noon, and they entered a forest which was called the Forest of Ill Fortune, for never errant knight entered it without mishap; nor did these brethren escape without sore suffering. They ate of what their squires carried, and proceeded on till night: it was broad moon-light, and she still rode on apace. Damsel, quoth Amadis, shall we not rest? We shall find tents farther on, she answered, and those who will greatly rejoice at your coming; do you keep your pace, and I will ride forward and make them ready to receive you. So she went on. They had not followed far before they saw two tents by the wayside, where several damsels stood ready with her who had been their guide to welcome them. Sirs, said she, dismount here and rest, for you have travelled far. They alighted, and there were servants ready to take their horses, and to disarm them, and they took away all the arms. Why do you remove our arms? quoth Amadis. The damsel answered, They are taking them to the other tent, where you will sleep. Then they seated themselves upon the carpet, expecting supper, when on a sudden fifteen armed men, knights and others, came upon them, crying, Yield or you are but dead! They started up thereat, but they had nothing wherewith to defend themselves, and lances were pointed at their breasts and at their backs, and at their faces; then was Amadis so enraged that the blood gushed from his nostrils and eyes. Ah, traitors! quoth he, you see how this is! if we had our arms the business should end in another guise! That, said they, will not avail you: you are our prisoners! Cried Galaor, If we are it is by great treason, and that I will prove upon the two best of you; aye, the best three, if you will give me my arms! The knight answered, The proof is not wanted: if you talk more it will be to your cost. What! cried Amadis, we will rather die than be thus taken! The knight went to the door of the tent Madam, they will not yield: shall we slay them? She answered, Stay a little, and if they will not obey my will, then off with their heads. Then she entered: she was a right fair lady, and in great anger, and she said to the brethren, Yield to me, or ye die! Amadis was silent; but Galaor answered, Brother, we cannot now hesitate, since the lady wills it. Madam, let us have our arms and horses, and if your men cannot then take us, we will surrender ourselves to your pleasure ; as we are now, there is no merit in yielding. I shall not trust you this time, she replied; but I counsel you to yield yourselves. And they seeing they had no remedy yielded, and were thus made prisoners; the lady not knowing who they were, for the damsel would not tell their names, being assured that if she had named them they should immediately have been slain, and then would she be the most unhappy person in the world to have caused the death of two such knights; and she wished herself dead before she had committed so great a treason, but now she could do no more than keep secret their names. The lady then said, Now that ye are my prisoners I will propose a thing to you, to which if ye consent I will set ye free ; else shall ye be thrown into such a prison that it will be worse than death. Lady, quoth Amadis, it may be that what you require is a thing that we may readily grant; and it may be such, that if it is to our shame we shall rather suffer death. Of your shame, said she, I know nothing ; but if you will forsake the service of King Lisuarte, and go before him and tell him you do it by command of Madasina, Lady of Gantasi, I will set you free; and tell him that she does this because he keeps the knight in his court who slew the good knight Dardan. Galaor answered, If you do thus, lady, thinking to despite the king, it will not avail; for we are two knights, who have as yet nothing but our arms and horses, and as he has in his household so many of great prowess, he will care little for us, what we do, or whither we go ; but to us it would be great dishonour, so that we can in no ways consent.- What! will you rather be cast into that prison than forsake the falsest king in the world? Lady, said Galaor, these speeches but ill beseem you: the king is good and loyal, and no knight lives against whom I would not prove that there is no falsehood in him. Certes, quoth she, you utter your love for him in a luckless time; and she ordered her people to tie their hands. That will I do willingly, said one of her knights, and off with their heads too if you let me! and he took Amadis by the arms; but Amadis caught hold of him, and smote him in the breast with such force that he fell at his feet senseless. With that they all fell upon him to kill him, but an old knight drew his sword, and stood between and drove them off; yet not till Amadis had received a spear wound in his right shoulder, though it was not deep. Madam, quoth the old knight, you are doing the greatest devilry in the world, to suffer knights and hidalgos who are your prisoners to be slain. She answered, Why should they not slay the most foolish knight living, who at such a time was so rash? Then said Galaor, We will suffer none to tie our hands but you; for you are a fair lady, and we are your prisoners, and it is just that we obey you. Then I will do it, quoth she; and she took their hands, and tied them tight with a leathern thong; and she ordered the tents to be struck, and placed her prisoners upon two palfreys that were led by her servants. Gandalin and Galaor's esquire went on foot, tied with a rope, and in this manner they proceeded all night through the forest. And I tell you that Amadis then wished himself dead, not for what he suffered, for he could endure such chances better than any one beside, but because of what the lady demanded; for if he refused, he should be thrown where he could not see Oriana; and if he assented, he must quit her father's court, and so be separated from her: these thoughts greatly troubled him. The old knight saw his trouble, and thought it was for the pain of his wound. Now the damsel who had deceived them was his daughter, and she told him who they were, and besought him for mercy and for God's sake to save their lives, if he could. He then came nigh to Amadis, and asked him if his wound pained him, and how he fared. Amadis seeing that it was the old knight who had saved him from death, answered, Sir, my friend, I have no wound to pain me; but I complain of a damsel who brought us here by deceit to give her succour, and has foully betrayed us. You have indeed been deceived, replied the knight; I know you better than you imagine, and would willingly serve you, for if it be discovered who you are, you are but dead: take my advice; you are a handsome knight, and the lady has heard that you are one of the best in the world: carry yourself fairly towards her, and woo her in marriage or elseways, for she is a woman whose heart is to take her pleasure; but lose no time, for she will send from the place where we are to sleep to learn your names, which the damsel who brought you here has concealed. Amadis, who regarded Oriana more than death, answered, My friend, God's will be done? but this never shall be, even though she herself requested my love, and would therefore set me free! Certes, quoth the knight, this is a great marvail, that you are in the point of death, and will not seek to help yourself. Such help, cried Amadis, by God's blessing I will never seek! but talk with that other knight, whom you may with more reason commend than me.
When the old knight repeated his advice to Galaor, Galaor was greatly pleased : If you bring this about, said he, that I can win the lady, we shall always be bound to serve you. The knight then rode on, and coming up to his lady, said, You are leading away your prisoners, and know not whom you have taken. Why do you say this? Because you have taken the best knight that I know, and the most accomplished in all good manners. Is it Amadis, whose life I so much desire to take away?-- No; I speak of the first: besides his great courage, he is the handsomest young knight that ever I saw, and you are discourteous to him. You should not do this, for it is great villainy: you have imprisoned him who does not deserve it, because you hate another; it were better to treat him honourably, and show favour to him, for by that way should you more readily win his consent to what you demand. I will wait, said she, and see what sort of man he is. You will see the fairest knight that ever you beheld. By this the two brethren had come close to each other: Brother, said Galaor, I see you in danger of death; I beseech you follow my counsel. I will, said Amadis, and God give you more honour than fear. The lady had stopped her palfry, and waited for him. She saw him, better than she had done in the night, and thinking him the handsomest man in the world, asked him how he fared? Worse than you should fare, lady, he replied, if you were in my power as I am in yours; for I would do you what service and pleasure possible I could, and I know not why you should do all the contrary to me who have not deserved this treatment; reason being that I should rather be your knight to serve and love you as my lady, than to be thrown into your prison which is so little agreeable. Mada- sima, who was greatly taken with him, replied, Knight, if I should chuse you for my friend, and deliver you from prison, would you forsake the company of King Lisuarte for my sake, and tell him wherefore you for sook him? Yes, quoth Galaor, and will make what covenant you please to do it; and so shall my companion, who will not refuse what I shall command him. You shall swear this, said Madasima, before a lady with whom we are going to lodge. Meantime, promise me not to depart from me, and your hands shall be untied. Whereupon they were unbound, and their squires likewise released, to whom a palfrey without a saddle was given that they might ride.
All the day Madasima and Galaor went on communing ; at sunset they came to Castle Abies, the lady whereof honourably welcomed them, because of the great friendship between her and Madasima. Then before that lady and two knights, her sons, she said, Hear a covenant between us: this knight is my prisoner, and I chuse him for my friend; so also is the other, and the covenant is in this manner: they shall both for sake the service of King Lisuarte, telling him how for my sake they do it, and I will set them free on this condition; and you and your sons shall meet them before King Lisuarte, and see that they fulfil their promise; wherein if they fail, ye shall every where publish abroad their falsehood; and ten days I give them to execute this. Good friend, said the lady of the castle, I am well pleased to do this, if they consent thereto. We will perform it! quoth Galaor. So Galaor that night took his pleasure with Madasiina, a lady who was very fair, and of good wealth and high lineage, but not of such great worth as beseemed her. In the morning their arms and horses were restored them, and they departed divers ways ; she to her castle Gantasi, the brethren towards London, right glad of their escape, and weening that they should honourably discharge their covenant. That night they were lodged in a hermitage, and had poor fare for their supper; the next day they continued their road.