Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Chapter 79 [part 1 of 2]

How the Greek Knight and his companions brought Grasinda from the sea and took her and her retinue to the battlefield, where her knight would defend her plight to fulfill her quest.

[A moment in the International Jousting Tournament at the Tennessee Renaissance Festival.]

They took Grasinda from the sea with four damsels and went to hear Mass in the tents, then they mounted, the three knights in their armor on their horses, and Grasinda looking beautiful on her palfrey in clothing of gold and silk, with precious stones and pearls, so fine that the greatest empress in the world would not have worn better jewels. Since she had always been hoping for this day that had finally come, she had prepared by obtaining the most beautiful and finest things she could as the great lady she was, and since she had no husband or children or family to care for, and being supplied with a large territory and income, she only spent it on the things ye have heard of. And her damsels were also dressed in precious clothing.

Since Grasinda was naturally beautiful, these artificial fineries only increased her comeliness. Everyone who saw her marveled at it, and her appearance gave great courage to he who would have to fight for her. On her head she wore only the crown she had won in Romania as a sign that she was the most beautiful of all the ladies there, as ye have heard.

The Greek Knight led her horse by its reins, wearing armor that Grasinda had had made for him. His coat of mail was white as the moon, and he wore a tunic of the same livery and colors as Grasinda’s clothing, held in place with cords woven from gold, and his helmet and shield were painted with the same heraldic markings as his tunic.

Sir Bruneo wore green armor and the shield bore the figure of a damsel, before whom stood a knight whose armor was decorated with spirals of gold and scarlet, and he seemed to be asking a boon from her. Angriote d’Estravaus rode on a mighty and lively horse and wore armor in a vair pattern of silver and gold, and he carried the reins for the damsel who had brought the message to the King, as ye have heard. Sir Bruneo carried the reins of her sister, and they all wore their helmets laced on, as did the majordomo and his sons, who rode with them.

In such a company they arrived at the place at the edge of the town where battles were usually held. In the middle of the field was a marble column as high as a man was tall, and those who came there to seek jousts and battles would place his shield and helmet or a bouquet of flowers or a glove on it as a sign of duel. When the Greek Knight and his companions arrived, they saw the King at one end of the field and at the other the Romans, and between them was Salustanquidio, wearing black armor decorated with gold and silver serpents. He was so large he seemed like a giant, and he rode an amazingly big horse.

The Queen was at her windows with the princesses next to her, as well as Olinda the Lovely, who along with her fine attire wore a splendid crown on her beautiful hair.

When the Greek Knight arrived at the field, he saw the Queen and princesses and other ladies and damsels of high estate, and when he did not spot his lady Oriana as he usually did, his heart trembled with longing for her. He observed Salustanquidio looking brave and strong, and when he turned to look at Grasinda and saw her close to fainting, he told her:

“My lady, do not be frightened by the sight of a man so extraordinarily large, for God will be on your side, and I shall win that which will give your heart contentment.”

“May it please Him in His compassion,” she said.

Then he took the fine crown she wore on her head and slowly rode to put it on top of the marble column, and returned at once to where his squires were, who carried three strong lances with fine pennants in various colors. He took the one that seemed best, put his shield around his neck and went to where the King was, and said, after bowing, in Greek:

“May God save thee, King. I am a foreign knight who has come from the Greek Empire thinking to test myself with thy knights, who are so skilled, and not by my will but by the will of she who can command me in this matter. And now, as my good fortune guides me, it seems that the challenge shall be between myself and the Romans. Order them to put the damsels’ crown on the column as I have placed my lady’s for thee.”

Then, fiercely blandishing his lance and spurring his horse as fast as he could, he rode to one end of the field. The King did not know what he had said since he did not understand Greek, but he said to Argamon, who was beside him:

“It seems to me, Uncle, that the knight did not wish to do anything to bring discredit to himself.”

“That is true, my lord,” the Count said, “and although ye suffer some shame by having these men from Rome in your court, it would be a joy to see a bit of their arrogance broken.”

“I do not know if that shall be,” the King said, “but I believe a beautiful joust is being readied.”

The knights and other men from the King’s court, when they saw what the Greek Knight had done, were amazed and said that they had never seen such a well-attired and handsome knight in armor except for Amadis. Salustanquidio was near and noted how everyone only had eyes for the Greek Knight and praised him, and he said with great ire:

“What is this, men of Great Britain? Why do ye marvel at a crazy Greek knight who knows nothing except how to play in a field? It seems ye do not know them as well as we do, and how they fear the name ‘Roman’ like fire. It shows that ye have not seen or experienced great feats of arms if this small man frightens you. Well, now ye shall see how that handsome armored man will seem to you when he is cold and dishonored on the ground.”

Then he rode over to the Queen and said to Olinda:

“My lady, give me your crown, for you are the one I love and value above all other women. Give it to my, my lady, and do not hesitate, for I shall return soon with the one on the column, and ye shall enter Rome with it, if the King and Queen shall be content to let me take you with Oriana, for I shall make you lady over myself and my lands.”

Olinda, upon hearing this, wanted nothing to do with his madness. Her heart and flesh shook, and her face grew livid, but she would not give him the crown. When Salustanquidio saw this, he said:

“My lady, do not be afraid to give me the crown, for I shall make you win the honor and that crazy lady shall leave without it, relying on the strength of that cowardly Greek.”

But for all of that, Olinda did not wish to give it to him at all, but the Queen took if from her head and sent it to him. He took it and went to put it on the column on top of the other one. He hurriedly asked for his arms, and three Roman knights immediately gave him them. He placed his shield around his neck, put his helmet on his head, took the thickest lance with a large, sharp iron point, and spurred his horse.

As everyone was gazing at him, so large and well armed, his courage and arrogance grew, and he said to the King:

“Now I want your knights to see the difference between them and the Romans, for I shall defeat that Greek. He said that if he defeated me, he would fight two other knights, so I shall fight with the two best knights he brings, and if they lack courage, let them bring a third.”

Sir Grumedan, who was boiling with anger to hear that and to see the King’s patience, told him:

“Salustanquidio, ye have forgotten about the battle that ye must fight with me if ye survive this one, and now you demand another.”

“It will be easy to carry out,” Salustanquidio said.

And the Greek Knight shouted:

“Ill-formed vile beast, what art thou talking about? Why art thou letting the day go by? Pay attention to what thou ought to be doing.”

When Salustanquidio heard that, he turned his horse and they charged at one another at a gallop, their lances lowered, protecting themselves with their shields. The horses were agile and fast, the knights strong and irate, and they met in the middle of the field and neither failed with his blow. The Greek Knight struck him below the boss of his shield and pierced it, but the lance struck some of the strong plates of his armor and could not pass through them. He hit him so hard he threw him from his saddle, and everyone was amazed. The Greek Knight rode past handsomely bearing Salustanquidio’s lance through his shield and into the sleeve of his chain mail, so everyone thought he was injured, but he was not.

He pulled the lance from his shield and took it in one of his hands and rode to where Salustanquidio was, and saw that he did not move and lay as if he were dead. That was no surprise, for he was large and heavy and had fallen from his horse, which was tall, and the armor was heavy and the field hard. All that caused him to be close to death, which he was. Above all, his left arm had broken when he fell over it just above his hand, and most of his ribs had been dislocated.

The Greek Knight, who had expected him to be more courageous, stopped beside him, still on his horse, and put the iron tip of the lance in his face, since his helmet had fallen off with the force of the fall, and told him:

“Knight, do not be of such ill will that ye refuse to yield the damsel’s crown to that beautiful lady, for she deserves it.”

Salustanquidio did not respond, so he left him there and rode to the King and said in Greek:

“Good King, that knight, although he is no longer arrogant, does not wish to yield the crown to that lady who waits for it, nor does he wish to defend it or answer me. Grant it to her by your judgement, as is right. If not, I must cut off his head so in that way the crown shall be yielded.”

Then he returned to where knight lay. The King asked what he had said, and his uncle the Count told him and added:

“It would be your fault to let that knight die before you, since he cannot defend himself, and by right ye may judge that the crowns are for the Greek Knight.”

“My lord,” Sir Grumedan said, “let the knight do what he wishes, for the Romans have more tricks than foxes do, and if Salustanquidio lives, he will say that he was still able to continue fighting if you had not been so fast in delivering judgement.”

Everyone laughed at what Sir Grumedan said, and the Romans’ hearts broke. The King, who saw that the Greek Knight had dismounted and meant to cut off Salustanquidio’s head, told Argamon:

“Uncle, run fast and tell him to desist in killing him and take the crowns, for I award them, and he should deliver them where he ought.”

Argamon hurried toward him shouting to listen to the King’s orders. The Greek Knight stepped back and put his sword on his shoulder. By then the Count had arrived, and he said:

“Knight, the King asks you on his behalf to desist in killing that knight, and orders ye to take the crowns.”

“I am pleased by that,” he said, “and know, my lord, that if I were to fight with one of the King’s vassals, I would not kill him if there were another way to end what had been begun, but with the Romans, I would kill and dishonor them as the vile men they are, alike in the false behavior of that arrogant Emperor, their lord, from whom they all learn to be arrogant and, in the end, cowards.”

The Count returned to the King, and told him what the knight had said. The knight remounted his horse and took both crowns from the column and brought them to Grasinda. He put the damsels’ crown on her head, and he gave the other to one of her damsels to keep.

The Greek Knight said to Grasinda:

“My lady, your plight is now in the state you desired, and I, by the mercy of God, have completed the boon I promised you. If ye please, ye may go to the tents to rest now, and I shall wait to see if the Romans enter the field despite their sorrow.”

“My lord,” she said, “I shall not depart from you for any reason, for I can have no greater rest or pleasure than to see your great deeds as a knight.”

“As ye will,” he said.


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