BY ROBERT SOUTHEY 1872.
bout ten days after the departure of the prince, there came three ships from Great Britain, wherein as chief was the good knight Galdar de Rascuyl, accompanied by an hundred knights, and with a suitable train of dames and damsels for Oriana. Lisuarte sent them to give to King Languines his hearty thanks for the gentle entreatance of the princess his daughter, and to request that Mabilia would now come with her, who should be in like manner received and entertained. Right joyfully did Languines consent, and adorned them well, and made due preparations for their voyage. Oriana, knowing that she must needs go, made ready; and when she was putting her jewels in order, she found among them the wax which she had taken from the Child of the Sea. That recollection brought tears into her eyes, and she clasped her hands in thought, so that the wax brake, and she saw the writing within, and read, This is Amadis, son of a king; but, when she had read this, never did such joy enter the heart of man as she felt. Without delay she called the damsel of Denmark, and said to her, My friend, I will tell you something which no other than you and my own heart must know; therefore, do you keep it as the secret of such a princess as I am, and of the best knight in the world. That will I do, quoth the damsel, and doubt not to confide in me. Then so it is, dear friend, said Oriana, you must go and seek that young knight whom you know—he is called the Child of the Sea, and. ye shall find him at the war in Gaul: if "he be not there, await his coming, and give him this writing, wherein he shall find his name written at the time when he was cast into the sea. He is the son of a king, and, if he was so good when he knew not who he was, now will he be yet better. And tell him that I am sent for to my father's court, and I bid him, when he leaves the war, come there also, that he may dwell there till I appoint him what to do. With this errand the damsel of Denmark set out for Gaul. The princesses now embarked, Languines and the queen commending them to God. The weather was prosperous, and in a short time they reached Great Britain.
The Child of the Sea remained fifteen days in that castle, where the damsel looked to his wounds, and then, though they were hardly healed, departed. It was on a Sunday morning that he and Gandalin took leave of his host and his gentle leech, and entered a great forest. This was in the month of April, and he heard the birds sing in the wood, and saw the flowers on all sides, and then he thought of his love, and said aloud, Ah Child without lands and without lineage ! how hast thou dared to place thy heart upon her who excels all other in goodness, and beauty, and parentage? For each of these three things the best knight should not dare to love her, for more avails her beauty than the worth of the best knight in the world, and her goodness than the wealth of the wealthiest; and I, who know not what I am, must live with the pain of my own rashness, and die without declaring it! He had made this moan with his head hanging down, and now looking up he espied a knight on horseback, who had overheard him. The knight perceiving that he stopt, came before him and said, It seems you love your mistress, sir, better than yourself, when in commending her you dispraise yourself: tell me who she is, that I may love her, as you by your own confession are not worthy. Sir knight, replied the Child, you have some reason for what you say, but you shall know nothing more, and, if you were to love her, you would have no success. The knight answered, Toil and danger for the love of one's lady ought to be deemed an honour, for at the end comes the reward, and he that loveth in so high a place as you do, should not be aggrieved at aught that may happen. The Child of the Sea thought that he spake well, and would have proceeded, but the other cried, Stay, knight, for either by will or by force you must tell me what I demanded ! Go to, then ! quoth the child. So gan they lace their helmets, and took their shields and lances, and as they were separating for the joust, a damsel came up and cried, Stay, knights, and answer me one thing first, for I am in haste, and cannot tarry the end of your combat. At these words they stayed.—Have you seen a young knight called the Child of the Sea ? And what would you with him ? said the Child.—I bring him tidings from his friend Agrayes, son of the King of Scotland. Wait a little, replied he, and I will give ye news of him—and with that he turned towards the knight, who was calling to him to defend himself. They ran their course : the lance of the knight flew up in shivers, and both he and his horse were borne to the ground. The horse rose and was starting away, but the child caught him and said, Sir knight, take your horse, and henceforth seek not to know any thing against a man's will.
Then turning to the damsel, he asked her if she knew him for whom she enquired? No, said she, but Agrayes told me he would make himself known so soon as I should say that I came from him. Right, quoth the Child, for I am he! And with these words he unlaced his helmet; and when she saw his face, the damsel cried, In truth do I believe it, for I have heard him speak wonders of your beauty.—Where did you leave Agrayes ?—Hard by the shore, not far hence, where he is about to embark with his troops for Gaul, and he wished to learn tidings of you, that you might cross with him. God reward him! said the Child, lead on and show the way.
They soon came to the shore whereon the tents were pitched ; and being now near them, they heard a voice behind, Stay, knight, for you shall tell me what I asked. He turned, and saw the knight whom he had dismounted, and another now with him, and taking his arms met them both with their spears in rest and careering at him, full speed. And they from the tents saw him how firm he rode in the saddle, so that they marvelled, for there was no knight of his time who rode better, or jousted with more grace, so that by this he 'was often discovered when he wished not to be known. Their both spears struck his shield which failed him, but his breast-plate not. He ran at the knight whom he had before overthrown, and threw him again so roughly that in the fall he brake his arm. The Child lost his lance; he turned with his sword against the other, and gave it him on the head that he pierced the helmet, and he drew back the sword so forcibly that the laces brake, and the helmet came with the sword. The Child then passed the sword to his left hand, and caught his enemy's shield, and plucked it from his neck and dashed it on his head, so that he fell stunned. Then the Child gave his arms to Gandalin, and proceeded to the tents.
Agrayes went to meet him, wondering who he might be that had so soon discomfited two knights, he knew him, and they embraced,.and there was great joy when it was known that the Child of the Sea was arrived. The prince then sent for the two knights to his tent. Believe me, friends, said he, you attempted great folly to meddle with this knight. True, said he with the broken arm, yet I saw him in such plight that I little thought to find any resistance from him ! and then he told what had past in the forest, only the lamentation of the Child he durst not repeat.
The next day they decamped, and rode to Palingues, a sea-town opposite to Gaul. Then they entered the ships of Agrayes, and with fair wind soon reached a town in Gaul, called Galfan, and from thence the Castle Baladin, wherein was King Perion, who had lost many of his people, and was right glad of their coming. Agrayes went to visit Queen Elisena, taking with him the Child of the Sea, and two other knights of good account. When Perion saw the Child, he took him by the hand and led him to the queen.— This is the good knight, of whom I told ye heretofore, who defended me from the greatest danger that ever I was in, and this I tell you that you may love him better than any other knight. The queen advanced herself to embrace him, and he fell on his knee and said, Lady, I am the servant of your sister, and for her sake come to serve you, with like obedience as to her person. The queen thanked him lovingly, and seeing him how fair he was, she thought of her own sons who were lost, and the tears came; so she wept for him who was before her, and she knew him not. Do not weep, lady, quoth he, you shall be restored to your chearfulness with the help of God, and the king, and this knight your nephew, and me, who willingly will serve you. When Agrayes departed he would have taken the Child with him, but Elisena said he was her sister's knight, and should be lodged with them. So he became his mother's guest.
King Abies and Daganel soon heard that succour was arrived. Now, said the king, if King Perion has a heart to fight he will give us battle. Daganel replied, he feareth you too much, for Abies was then the best knight known. Galayn, Duke of Normandy, who was present, then said, I will tell you how we will make him. Daganel and I will set out to-night, and at break of day we will appear before his town with a reasonable force. King Abies with the rest of the army shall lie in ambush in the forest. He will take heart and sally out upon us ; we will feign a fear, and take flight towards the forest, and there shall they all be destroyed. You say well, replied Abies, let it be done. Presently they and all their people were armed and entered the forest, and there the king remained, while Daganel and Galayn proceeded.
When the morning came, Perion and the queen went into the Child's chamber, whom they found rising and washing his hands, and they saw that his eyes were red and his cheeks marked with tears, so that it was plain he had slept little that night, and truly he had been thinking of his lady, and how hopeless his love was, and that death was all he could expect. Queen Elisena took Gandalin aside, and asked him the cause of his master's sadness, if it was for any offence that he had received there. He replied, He hath received great honour here, and this madam, is his custom : he is wont to weep at night, as you see. While they were discoursing, the townsmen saw their enemies near, and shouted, to arms! to arms ! Right glad was the Child of the Sea at this alarm : they armed themselves and rode to the gate, where they found Agrayes in wrath, because the wardens would not let him go forth, for he was one of the most spirited knights in the world, and if his strength had been like his courage, there would have been none to surpass him in prowess. At the king's command the gates were opened, and all the knights went forth ; but, seeing their enemies to be so great a number, there were some who said it would be folly to attack them. But Agrayes spurred his horse, exclaiming ill luck to him who tarries longer; and the Child of the Sea had already advanced before him,— so they went to the charge. Daganel and Galayn made ready to receive them as those whom they heartily hated. The Child of the Sea encountered Galayn, who was foremost, and overthrew both man and horse, and the duke brake his leg in the fall. The Child had broken his lance; he laid hold of his sword, and rode among them, striking on all sides so fiercely that nothing could withstand his blows, till he was beset that his horse could not move for the throng. Agrayes with some of his followers forced their way to him, and made a great destruction among their enemies; and king Perion with his people came up, whom Daganel as well received. Then were the armies mingled together: there might you have seen the Child of the Sea doing wonders, felling all that opposed him, hewing and chining his enemies, and showing such chivalry that none durst abide him. Agrayes, at seeing him, took the more courage, and cried aloud to encourage his men, Look at the best knight that ever was born ! When Daganel saw the Child of the Sea, what havoc he made, he made up to him, and strove to kill his horse, that he might fall among the throng; but that he could not effect, for the Child gave him such a stroke on the helmet that the laces burst, and it fell off, and King Perion, who had come to the Child's succour, with another blow cleft him to the teeth. Then were they of Ireland and the Normans conquered, and they fled to the forest, crying aloud for King Abies that he should not tarry longer, and suffer them to be destroyed; and Perion and his company pursued till they saw Abies and his main army advance, crying, Set on them ! leave not a man alive ! enter the town with them! When the knights of Gaul found themselves thus surprised they were affrighted, for they were weary and their lances broken, and King Abies was the best knight in the world, and the one whom they most feared.
But the Child of the Sea cried, Now, sirs, ye must maintain your honour ! it will be seen what each is worth! The Irish came on like fresh men, and who had a great heart to do mischief. King Abies left not a knight in his saddle so long as his spear lasted ; then drew he his sword, and laid about him so valiantly that King Perion's men could not withstand him, and they retreated towards the town. The Child seeing that, bestirred himself more angrily, and fought in the front, so that he gave the Gauls leisure to retire in some order, and prevented their utter rout. Agrayes and Perion always kept by him, and they three were the safety of the host, and enough to do had those Irishmen whom Abies had sent forward to enter the town, that the war might be finished. And now the Gauls had entered the gates, and King Abies came up, hoping that his men had entered with them, and greatly was he grieved to see that it was other wise, and the more for he now heard how that Galayn and Daganel were slain. One of his people came up to him, and said, Sire, do you see that knight on the white horse, who does nothing but what is marvellous ? he it is who slew your captains. It was the Child of the Sea, who rode the white horse of Galpano. With that King Abies rode up to him and said, Knight! thou hast slain the man in the world whom I most love, and dearly shalt thou abide it if thou wilt come out and continue the battle. The Child replied, This is not a time to fight with you: for your men are many in number and fresh, and we are but few, and so travailed, that it is a wonder how we have resisted you; but if ye will show the great hardiness for which you are renowned, and revenge him of whom ye speak like a knight, chuse you of your people as many as you think fit, and I will do the same, and then being equal you may gain the more honour; which is not to be won by coming with so great a number to take what is not your own. King Abies replied of how many shall the battle be? Since you leave it in my choice, said the Child, I will propose what may please you better. You are mine enemy for what I have done to-day, and I yours for the wrong you have done this land. It is not reasonable that any other than ourselves should suffer. Let the battle be between you and me, and presently, if you will, only let neither side stir till the end.—So let it be, said Abies; and he called ten of his best knights, who, with ten knights of the Child's party, were appointed to keep the field. King Perion and Agrayes would have had him delay the combat till the next day, seeing that he was sore wounded ; but he would not be moved, desiring the battle above all things, that he might prove himself against him who had the renown of the best knight in the world, and thinking that if he conquered, the war would be finished, and he might return to his lady Oriana, on whom his heart and all his desires were fixed.