BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
his history has related to you how Amadis promised Briolania to revenge her father's death, and how she gave him a sword, and that when in his combat with Gasinan he broke the sword, he gave the pieces to Gandalin's care: you shall now hear how the battle was performed, and what great danger he underwent because of that broken sword, not from any fault of his own, but for the ignorance of his dwarf Ardian.
Amadis now recollecting that the time was come to perform his promise, acquainted Oriana, and requested her leave, though to him it was like dividing his heart from his bosom to leave her; and she granted it, albeit with many tears, and a sorrow that seemed to presage what evil was about to happen. Amadis took the queen's leave for form's sake, and departed with Galaor and Agrayes. They had gone about half a league, when he asked Gandalin if he had brought the three pieces of the sword which Briolania had given him, and finding he had not, bade him return and fetch them. The dwarf said he would go, for he had nothing to delay him; and this was the means whereby Amadis and Oriana were both brought into extreme misery, neither they nor the dwarf himself being culpable.
The dwarf rode back to his master's lodging, found the pieces of the sword, put them in his skirt, and was retiring, when, as he passed the palace, he heard himself called. Looking up, he saw Oriana and Mabilia, who asked him why he had not gone with his master. I set out with him, said he, but returned for this; and he showed her the broken sword. What can your master want a broken sword for? quoth Oriana. Because, said the dwarf, he values it more than the two best whole ones, for her sake who gave it him. And who is she? The lady for whom he undertakes this combat, and though you are daughter to the best king in the world, yet, fair as you are, you would rather win what she has won, than possess all your father's lands. What gain so precious hath she made? perchance she hath gained your master?- Yes, she has, his whole heart! and he remains her knight to serve her! Then, giving his horse the lash, he galloped away, little thinking the wrong he had done. Oriana remained pale as death; she burst into bitter reproaches against the falsehood of Amadis, and wrung her hands, and her heart was so agitated that not a tear did she shed. It was in vain that Mabilia and the damsel of Denmark strove to allay her rage with reasonable words: as passionate women will do, she followed her own will, which led her to commit so great an error, that God's mercy was necessary to repair it.
The dwarf rejoined his master, and showed him the pieces of his sword, but Amadis asked him no questions, and he said nothing of what had passed. Presently they met a damsel, who asked whither they were going. Along this road. I advise you to leave it. Why? Because no knight hath taken it for fifteen days but he hath either been slain or wounded. And who hath done all this mischief? quoth Amadis. The best knight in arms that I have ever seen. Damsel, said Agrayes, you must shew us this knight.- He will shew himself so soon as you enter the forest. The damsel then followed them; they looked all round the forest in vain, till, as they were at the other side thereof, they saw a knight of good stature completely armed, on a roan horse, holding a lance, and a squire by him with four other lances. He speaking to his squire, the man laid the lances against a tree, and came up to the knights. Sirs, yonder knight sends to inform ye that he hath kept this forest for fifteen days against all knights errant with fair fortune, and for the pleasure of the joust hath yet stayed a day and a half longer than his time appointed; he says, that if it please you to joust with him he is ready, but there shall be no sword combat, for in that he hath done much evil against his own will, and will avoid it henceforth if he can. Agrayes had taken his helm and thrown his shield round his neck, while the squire was speaking: tell him to defend himself! quoth he. They ran their race, their spears brake, and Agrayes was dismounted, and his horse ran loose, whereat he was greatly ashamed. Galaor took his arms to avenge him; the lances were broken: their bodies met with such force, that Galaor's horse, being the weaker and more weary, fell and threw him, and then ran away. Amadis seeing this, blessed himself: In truth, said he, the knight may well be praised, for he hath proved himself against two of the best in the world; but as he went on to take his turn he found Galaor on foot, with his sword in hand defying the knight to battle, but the knight laughed at him; and Amadis said, Brother, do not chafe yourself; it was the covenant that there should be no sword-battle. Then he bade the stranger defend himself, and they ran at each other: their spears flew up in splinters; they came against each other, shield and helmet; the horse fell with Amadis, and the horse broke his shoulder; the knight of the forest was dismounted, but he held the reins, and lightly took the saddle again. Quoth Amadis, You must joust again, for this encounter was equal, we both fell. I do not chuse to joust again, said he. Amadis replied, Knight, you do me wrong. Right yourself when you can! said the other: I am bound no farther, as I sent to tell you! and then he galloped away through the forest.
Amadis leapt upon Gandalin's horse, and told his companions to follow him as fast as they could to find that knight, for they were all greatly abashed. Quoth the damsel, It will be a foolish quest: all the knights of King Lisuarte's household would fail to find him without a guide. My friend, said Galaor, belike you know who he is, and where to be found? If I do, quoth she, I mean not to tell you, for I would bring no harm to so good a man. Ah, damsel, said Galaor, by the faith you owe to God, and by the thing in the world which you love best, tell me what you know of him. She answered, I care not for these conjurings, and will not discover him for nothing. Ask what you will, quoth Amadis. Tell me your name, and promise me each a boon hereafter, when I shall demand it. They in their earnestness promised. When she heard the name of Amadis, she exclaimed, God be praised, for I was seeking you- !And wherefore?- You shall know when it is time; but tell me, have you forgot your promise to the daughter of the King of Sobradisa, who let loose the lions to save you? I am now going, replied Amadis, to perform the battle. Why then, quoth she, would you turn astray to follow this knight, who is not so easy to find as you imagine, when your day is appointed for the combat? She says true, sir brother, said Galaor: go you with Agrayes upon this business; I will follow the knight with this damsel, for I shall never have joy till I find him, and I will join you in time for the battle if it be possible. In God's name! cried Amadis, but tell us, damsel, the name of the knight. I know it not, yet once I was a month with him and saw never else such deeds of arms; but I can show where he is to be found. Then Galaor departed with her.
Amadis and Agrayes proceeded till they came to the castle of Torin, the dwelling of that fair young damsel, who was now grown so beautiful that she appeared like a bright star. What think you of her? said Amadis. Agrayes answered, If her Maker designed to make her beautiful, he has most perfectly accomplished his will. They were disarmed, and mantles given them, and they were conducted into the hall. But when Briolania saw Amadis how young he was, for he was not twenty, and how beautiful, for even the scars in his face became him, and of what fair renown he was, she thought him the best knight in the world, and greatly affected him; so that when by his help she had recovered her kingdom, she would have given him herself and that, but Amadis told right loyally how he was another's.