BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
madis and Galaor were within two leagues of London when they saw Ardan the dwarf coming towards them as fast as horse could gallop. Never trust me, quoth Amadis, if he comes not with the news of some great mishap to seek us. Presently the dwarf came up and related all his tidings, and how Oriana was carried away. Holy Mary, help me! cried Amadis: which way did they take her?- By the city is the nearest road. Amadis immediately spurred his horse, and galloped amain towards London, so confounded with the terror of this news that he never spoke a word to Galaor, who followed him full speed. They passed close by the town without stopping a minute, only Amadis enquired of all he saw which way the Princess had been taken; but as Gandalin passed under the windows where the queen and her ladies were, the queen called him, and threw the king's sword to him, which was the best sword that ever knight girded on: Take it to your master, quoth she, and God speed hirn with it! and tell Galaor that the king went from hence with a damsel this morning, and is not yet returned, and we know not where she has led him. Gandalin took the sword and rode as fast as he could after Amadis, who coming to a brook missed the bridge in his hurry, and forcing the horse to leap, the tired animal fell short into the mud; then Gandalin came up to him and gave him the sword, and the horse which he himself rode. Presently they turned aside from the road to follow the track of horsemen, and there they saw some woodmen, who asked them if they came from London, for if a knight and a damsel be missing there, said they, we have seen an adventure; and then they told them what they had beheld. Who is it that has taken them? quoth Amadis ; for he knew it was Lisuarte by the description. They answered, The damsel who led the knight here called loudly for Arcalaus. Lord God! quoth Amadis : let me but find that traitor! The woodmen then told them how the party had separated, and said that one of the five knights who went with the damsel was the biggest knight they had ever seen. Amadis knew that that was Arcalaus; and bidding Galaor follow where the king went, he spurred on after Oriana. By sunset the horse could carry him no farther, and he being greatly distressed, saw a little to the right of the road a knight lying dead, and a squire by him holding his horse. Who slew that knight? cried Amadis. A traitor that passed by, carrying the fairest damsel in the world by force, and he slew my master only for asking who they were, and here is no one to help me to remove the body. -My squire shall help you: give me your master's horse: I promise to give you two better in return. . He told Gandalin to follow him after the body was disposed of, and gallopped on. Towards day-break he came to a hermitage in a valley, and asked the hermit if he had seen five knights pass carrying with them two damsels? Do you see yonder castle? he replied: my nephew tells me that Arcalaus the enchanter is lodged there, and with him two fair damsels whom he hath taken by violence. By God the very villain whom I seek! He hath done much evil in this land, replied the hermit. God remove him or mend him! Then Amadis asked him if he had any barley for his horse; and while the horse was feeding, enquired who was the lord of the castle. Grumen, said the good man, cousin to Dardan who was slain in Lisuarte's court, and therefore the king's enemies put up there. Now God be with you, father! quoth Amadis; I beseech you remember me in your prayers! which way to the castle?- Amadis followed the path which the good man had pointed out, and came up to it, and saw that the wall was high and the towers strong. He listened and could hear no sound within, and that pleased him, for he knew that Arcalaus was not gone forth; and he rode round, and saw that it had only one issue. Then he retired among some crags, and, dismounting, stood holding the bridle, and with his eyes fixed upon the gate, like one who had no will to sleep. By this the morning broke, and he removed farther across a valley to a hill that was well wooded, for he feared that if those of the castle saw him they would suspect there were others at hand, and therefore not come out. Presently the gate opened, and a knight came out, and went to a high eminence and looked all round; then returned into the castle. It was not long before he saw Arcalaus and his four companions come out, all well armed, and among them Oriana. Ah, God! quoth he, now and for ever help me in her defence! They drew near him, and he heard Oriana say, Dear friend, I shall never see thee more, for I go to my death. The tears came into his eyes; he descended the hill as fast as he could, and came after them into a great plain, and then cried, Arcalaus! traitor! it becomes not one like thee to carry away so excellent a lady! Oriana knew the voice, and shook all over; but Arcalaus and the other ran at him. He took his aim at Arcalaus, and bore him right over the crupper; then turned his horse and smote at Grumen, so that the point and part of the stave of the spear came out at his back, and he fell down dead, and the spear broke in him. Then he drew the king's sword, and laid about with such rage and violence, and felt such strength in him self, that he thought if the whole plain were full of knights they could not stand before him. We are succoured! quoth the damsel of Denmark: it is the fortunate knight! look at the wonders he performeth! Ah, God protect thee, dear friend ! cried Oriana: none other in the world can save us. The squire who had her in his keeping seeing what had passed, cried out, Certes I shall not wait till those blows come upon my head which shields and helmets cannot resist! and he put the princess down, and rode off full speed. By this Amadis had cut thro' the arm of another, and sent him away howling with the agony of death; and he cleft a third down to the neck. The fourth began to fly, and Amadis was after him, when he. heard his lady cry: and looking round, saw that Arcalaus had mounted again, and was dragging her up by the arm. Amadis soon came up' to them, and lifting up his sword dared not put forth his strength lest he should slay both, but with a half-blow he smote him on the shoulder, and cut away part of the cuirass and the skin; then Arcalaus let Oriana fall, that he might escape the better. Turn, Arcalaus, cried Amadis, and see if I be dead as thou hast reported! but he in fear of death spurred on, and threw his shield from off his neck for speed. The blow made at him just reached his loins with the sword-end, and fell upon the horse's flank and wounded it, so that the beast rode away more furiously. Amadis, albeit he so hated the enchanter, did not pursue him further, lest he should lose his mistress, he turned towards her, and alighted and knelt before her, and kissed her hand, saying, Now let God do with me what he will! I never thought to see you again. She being among the dead was in great terror, and could not speak, but she embraced him. The damsel of Denmark going to hold his horse saw the sword of Arcalaus on the ground, and admiring its beauty gave it to Amadis; but he seeing it was right glad thereof, for it was King Perion's sword which had been placed in his cradle, and which Arcalaus had taken when he enchanted him. Presently Gandalin came up, who had travelled all night long: a joyful man was he seeing how the quest had ended.
Amadis then placed Oriana upon the damsel's palfrey, while Gandalin caught one of the loose horses for the damsel, and taking her bridle they left the place of battle. But Amadis as they went along reminded Oriana how she had promised to be his; Hitherto, said he, I have known that it was not in your power to show me more favour than you did; but now that you are at full liberty, how should I support disappointments without the worst despair that ever destroyed man!, Dear friend, quoth she, never for my sake shall you suffer, for I am at your will: though it be an error and a sin now, let it not be so before God.- When they had proceeded about three leagues they entered a thick wood, and about a league farther there was a town. Oriana, who had not slept a wink since she left her father's house, complained of fatigue: let us rest in that valley, said Amadis. There was a brook there and soft herbage; there Amadis took her from her palfrey: The noon, said he, is coming on very hot, let us sleep here till it be cooler, and meantime Gandalin shall go bring us food from the town. He may go, replied Oriana, but who will give him food?- They will give it him for his horse, which he may leave in pledge, and return on foot. No: said Oriana, let him take my ring, which was never before so useful: and she gave it to Gandalin, who, as he went by Amadis, said to him, He who loses a good opportunity, sir, must wait long before he find another. Oriana laid herself down upon the damsel's cloak, while Amadis disarmed, of which he had great need, and the damsel retired farther among the trees to sleep. Then was his lady in his power, nothing loth ; and the fairest damsel in the world became a woman. Yet was their love encreased thereby, as pure and true love alway is.
When Gandalin returned, the damsel prepared the food ; and, though they had neither many serving-men, nor vessels of gold and silver, yet was that a sweet meal upon the green grass in the forest.