How Sir Galaor and Florestan, on their way to the Kingdom of Sobradisa, found three damsels at the Spring of the Elms.
[Chivalry, by Sir Frank Bernard Dicksee, 1885.]
Sir Galaor and Florestan remained at Corisanda Castle, as ye have heard, until their wounds had healed, then they agreed to leave to look for Amadis. They thought they would find him in the Kingdom of Sobradisa, and they hoped that the battle to be fought there would not take place until they had arrived to share in the danger and the glory, God willing.
When Florestan said goodbye to his lover, her anguish and pain was so overwhelming with so many tears that they felt great pity for her. Florestan consoled her, promising to return to see her as soon as he could. Having said goodbye, they armed themselves, mounted their horses, and traveled by boat to the mainland with their squires. On the road to Sobradisa, Florestan said to Sir Galaor:
"My lord, grant me a gift as a courtesy."
"Will it be a burden to me, my lord and good brother?" said Sir Galaor.
"No, it will not," he said.
"Then ask for that which I can properly fulfill without shame, and I shall gladly do it."
"I ask you," Sir Florestan said, "that ye do not enter into combat on this road over anything that happens until ye see that I cannot accomplish it alone."
"Truly," Sir Galaor said, "what ye ask shall grieve me."
"It shall not," said Florestan, "for if I prove worthy of anything, the honor is as much yours as mine."
And so it happened that for four days they traveled on that road without finding an adventure worth recounting, and on the fourth day they arrived at a tower at the hour to seek shelter for the night. At the gate to the courtyard they found a knight who gladly invited them to stay, and they were pleased to remain there that night. He had them disarm, took their horses to be cared for, and gave them cloaks to wear. They spent some time walking, talking and relaxing until he took them into the tower and gave them a very good supper.
The knight who was their host was tall and handsome and well-spoken, but they sometimes saw him become so deeply sorrowful that the brothers looked at him and spoke between themselves about what could be the cause. Sir Galaor said:
"My lord, it seems to us that ye are not as happy as ye ought to be, and if your sadness is due to something that we could help you with, tell us and we shall do your will."
"Many thanks," said the knight, "and I realize that ye would do so as good knights, but my sadness is caused by the power of love, and I shall say no more now, for it would be to my great shame."
They spoke about other things until the time came to sleep. Their host retired to his bed, leaving them in a splendidly beautiful room where there were two beds, and they slept and rested that night. In the morning they were given their arms and horses and they took to the road.
Their host rode with them unarmed on a large and fast horse to keep them company and to see what would happen farther on because he was guiding them not by the most direct road that he knew but by another that led to a place where he could see if they were as good at arms as they seemed. They rode until they arrived at a spring called the Spring of the Three Elms because three big, tall elms were there. When they arrived, they saw three damsels alongside the spring who looked exceptionally beautiful and well dressed, and they saw a dwarf up in one of the elms.
Florestan went ahead to the damsels and saluted them very courteously, as one who was well and properly brought up. One of them said to him:
"May God give you health, my lord knight. If ye are as valiant as ye are handsome, God made you very well."
"Damsel," he said, "if I seem handsome, I shall seem even stronger to you if ye may need it."
"Well said," she told him, "and now I wish to see if ye are valiant enough to take me away from here."
"Truly," said Florestan, "for that little skill is needed, so if ye wish it so, I shall take you away."
Then he ordered his squires to put her on a palfrey that was tied to the branches of the elms. When the dwarf up in the elm saw that, he shouted:
"Come out, knights, come out, for they are taking away your lover."
And at that shout, a well-armed knight on a large horse came out of a valley, and he told Florestan:
"What is this, knight? Who told you to lay a hand on my damsel?"
"I do not hold her to be yours, for she freely asked me to take her from here."
The knight said:
"Although she may have asked you, I did not consent, and I have defended her from better knights than you."
"I do not know how that could be," Florestan said, "but if ye are only words, I ought to take her."
"Before that," he said, "ye shall learn about the knights in this valley and how they defend the women they love."
"Then be on guard," said Florestan.
Then they had their horses charge and they struck each others' shields with their lances. The knight broke his lance, and Florestan made the edge of the knight's shield strike his helmet, and its laces broke and it fell from his head. He could not maintain himself in his saddle, and he fell over his sword and broke it in two.
Florestan rode past him and picked up his lance in one hand. He turned back toward the knight, saw him almost dead, put the lance in his face, and said:
"Ye are dead."
"Oh, my lord, mercy!" said the knight. "Ye see that I am almost dead now."
"That will not help you," he said, "if ye do not grant that the damsel is mine."
"She is yours," the knight said, "and damned be she and the day that I saw her, for all the insanities she has made me do until I have lost my body and my life."
Florestan left him, went to the damsel, and told her:
"Ye are mine."
"Ye have won me well," she said, "and ye may do with me as ye please."
"Then we shall leave now," he said.
But another of the damsels who remained at the fountain told him:
"Lord knight, ye take away a good companion, for we have been together for a year, and it grieves us to separate thus."
"If ye wish to go with me, I shall take you, and thus ye shall not be parted from your companion, but I can do nothing else because I shall not leave behind such a lovely damsel as this one."
"Yes, she is beautiful," she said, "and I do not consider myself so ugly that any knight would not do a great deed for me, but I do not believe that ye are the one who will dare to do it."
"What!" said Florestan. "Do ye think I would leave you behind out of fear? May God help me, I would only do that if ye wished to stay, as ye shall now see."
Then he ordered another palfrey brought, and the dwarf shouted as he had for the first damsel, and soon another well-armed knight who seemed very well bred and on a good horse left the valley, and behind him came a squire who carried two lances. He told Sir Florestan:
"Lowly knight, ye have won one damsel, and not content with her, ye take another. Now ye shall lose both and your head with them, for it is not fit for a lowly knight such as yourself to have in your possession a woman of such high birth as the damsel."
"Ye brag too much," said Florestan, "for there are two knights in my family such that I would sooner want one of them to help me rather than someone like you."
"It means little to me," the knight said, "that thou dost value thy lineage so much, for I hold thee and them as nothing. But thou hast won a damsel from someone not strong enough to save her, and if I defeat thee, she shall be my damsel, and if I am defeated, take her with the other whom I protect."
"I am content with this agreement," Florestan said.
Now be on guard if ye can," the knight said.
Then they had their horses charge as fast as they could, and the knight struck Florestan on the shield, which failed, but the lance was stopped by his chain mail, which was strong and well-made, and the lance broke. Florestan missed with his lance and rode past him. The knight took the other lance from the squire who had brought them. Forestan, who was very ashamed and angry because his blow had failed in front of his brother, charged at him and hit him so hard on his shield that it failed, and the arm that held it, and the lance reached his coat of mail with such force that it pushed him onto the haunches of his horse. When it felt him there, it bucked so bravely that it threw him on the field. The ground was so hard and the fall so great that he lay motionless, hand and foot.
Florestan, when he saw that, said to the damsel:
"Ye are mine, and your friend cannot protect you nor even himself."
"So it seems," she said.
Sir Florestan looked at the third damsel who remained alone at the spring, and saw that she was very sad, and told her:
"Damsel, if it does not trouble ye, I shall not leave ye here alone."
The damsel looked at the host and told him:
"I advise ye to leave here, for well ye know that these two knights are not enough to protect you from the one who shall come now, and if he overtakes you, there is nothing for you but death."
"In spite of that," the host said, "I wish to see what shall happen, for my horse is fast and my tower is near, so there is no danger."
"Oh," she said, "protect yourself, for ye together are only three, and ye are not armed, and well ye know that against him, all this is like nothing."
When Sir Florestan heard this, he was more anxious than ever to take the damsel to see the knight they spoke of so highly. So he had her mount a palfrey like the others, and the dwarf, who was up in the tree, said:
"Lowly knight, at a bad moment ye have been so daring, and now ye shall see who shall avenge himself on you and the others." Then he shouted, "Come, my lord, for it is time."