The Knight with the Lion
Part II: Vv. 2329 - Vv. 4634
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #23
(Vv. 2329-2414.) (16) Mounted on great Spanish steeds, they all go to meet the King of Britain, saluting King Arthur first with great courtesy and then all his company. "Welcome," they say, "to this company, so full of honourable men! Blessed be he who brings them hither and presents us with such fair guests!" At the King's arrival the town resounds with the joyous welcome which they give. Silken stuffs are taken out and hung aloft as decorations, and they spread tapestries to walk upon and drape the streets with them, while they wait for the King's approach. And they make still another preparation, in covering the streets with awnings against the hot rays of the sun. Bells, horns, and trumpets cause the town to ring so that God's thunder could not have been heard. The maidens dance before him, flutes and pipes are played, kettle-drums, drums, and cymbals are beaten. On their part the nimble youths leap, and all strive to show their delight. With such evidence of their joy, they welcome the King fittingly. And the Lady came forth, dressed in imperial garb a robe of fresh ermine -- and upon her head she wore a diadem all ornamented with rubies. No cloud was there upon her face, but it was so gay and full of joy that she was more beautiful, I think, than any goddess. Around her the crowd pressed close, as they cried with one accord: "Welcome to the King of kings and lord of lords!" The King could not reply to all before he saw the lady coming toward him to hold his stirrup. However, he would not wait for this, but hastened to dismount himself as soon as he caught sight of her. Then she salutes him with these words: "Welcome a hundred thousand times to the King, my lord, and blessed be his nephew, my lord Gawain!" The King replies: "I wish all happiness and good luck to your fair body and your face, lovely creature!" Then clasping her around the waist, the King embraced her gaily and heartily as she did him, throwing her arms about him. I will say no more of how gladly she welcomed them, but no one ever heard of any people who were so honourably received and served. I might tell you much of the joy should I not be wasting words, but I wish to make brief mention of an acquaintance which was made in private between the moon and the sun. Do you know of whom I mean to speak? He who was lord of the knights, and who was renowned above them all, ought surely to be called the sun. I refer, of course, to my lord Gawain, for chivalry is enhanced by him just as when the morning sun sheds its rays abroad and lights all places where it shines. And I call her the moon, who cannot be otherwise because of her sense and courtesy. However, I call her so not only because of her good repute, but because her name is, in fact, Lunete.
(Vv. 2415-2538.) The damsel's name was Lunete, and she was a charming brunette, prudent, clever, and polite. As her acquaintance grows with my lord Gawain, he values her highly and gives her his love as to his sweetheart, because she had saved from death his companion and friend; he places himself freely at her service. On her part she describes and relates to him with what difficulty she persuaded her mistress to take my lord Yvain as her husband, and how she protected him from the hands of those who were seeking him; how he was in their midst but they did not see him. My lord Gawain laughed aloud at this story of hers, and then he said: "Mademoiselle, when you need me and when you don't, such as I am, I place myself at your disposal. Never throw me off for some one else when you think you can improve your lot. I am yours, and do you be from now on my demoiselle!" "I thank you kindly, sire," she said. While the acquaintance of these two was ripening thus, the others, too, were engaged in flirting. For there were perhaps ninety ladies there, each of whom was fair and charming, noble and polite, virtuous and prudent, and a lady of exalted birth, so the men could agreeably employ themselves in caressing and kissing them, and in talking to them and in gazing at them while they were seated by their side; that much satisfaction they had at least. My lord Yvain is in high feather because the King is lodged with him. And the lady bestows such attention upon them all, as individuals and collectively, that some foolish person might suppose that the charming attentions which she showed them were dictated by love. But such persons may properly be rated as fools for thinking that a lady is in love with them just because she is courteous and speaks to some unfortunate fellow, and makes him happy and caresses him. A fool is made happy by fair words, and is very easily taken in. That entire week they spent in gaiety; forest and stream offered plenty of sport for any one who desired it. And whoever wished to see the land which had come into the hands of my lord Yvain with the lady whom he had married, could go to enjoy himself at one of the castles which stood within a radius of two, three, or four leagues. When the King had stayed as long as he chose, he made ready to depart. But during the week they had all begged urgently, and with all the insistence at their command, that they might take away my lord Yvain with them. "What? Will you be one of those." said my lord Gawain to him, "who degenerate after marriage? (17) Cursed be he by Saint Mary who marries and then degenerates! Whoever has a fair lady as his mistress or his wife should be the better for it, and it is not right that her affection should be bestowed on him after his worth and reputation are gone. Surely you, too, would have cause to regret her love if you grew soft, for a woman quickly withdraws her love, and rightly so, and despises him who degenerates in any way when he has become lord of the realm. Now ought your fame to be increased! Slip off the bridle and halter and come to the tournament with me, that no one may say that you are jealous. Now you must no longer hesitate to frequent the lists, to share in the onslaught, and to contend with force, whatever effort it may cost! Inaction produces indifference. But, really, you must come, for I shall be in your company. Have a care that our comradeship shall not fail through any fault of yours, fair companion; for my part, you may count on me. It is strange how a man sets store by the life of ease which has no end. Pleasures grow sweeter through postponement; and a little pleasure, when delayed, is much sweeter to the taste than great pleasure enjoyed at once. The sweets of a love which develops late are like a fire in a green bush; for the longer one delays in lighting it the greater will be the heat it yields, and the longer will its force endure. One may easily fall into habits which it is very difficult to shake off, for when one desires to do so, he finds he has lost the power. Don't misunderstand my words, my friend: if I had such a fair mistress as you have, I call God and His saints to witness, I should leave her most reluctantly; indeed, I should doubtless be infatuated. But a man may give another counsel, which he would not take himself, just as the preachers, who are deceitful rascals, and preach and proclaim the right but who do not follow it themselves."
(Vv. 2539-2578.) My lord Gawain spoke at such length and so urgently that he promised him that he would go; but he said that he must consult his lady and ask for her consent. Whether it be a foolish or a prudent thing to do, he will not fail to ask her leave to return to Britain. Then he took counsel with his wife, who had no inkling of the permission he desired, as he addressed her with these words: "My beloved lady, my heart and soul, my treasure, joy, and happiness, grant me now a favour which will redound to your honour and to mine." The lady at once gives her consent. not knowing what his desire is, and says: "Fair lord, you may command me your pleasure, whatever it be." Then my lord Yvain at once asks her for permission to escort the King and to attend at tournaments, that no one may reproach his indolence. And she replies: "I grant you leave until a certain date; but be sure that my love will change to hate if you stay beyond the term that I shall fix. Remember that I shall keep my word; if you break your word I will keep mine. If you wish to possess my love, and if you have any regard for me, remember to come back again at the latest a year from the present date a week after St. John's day; for to-day is the eighth day since that feast. You will be checkmated of my love if you are not restored to me on that day."
(Vv. 2579-2635.) My lord Yvain weeps and sighs so bitterly that he can hardly find words to say: "My lady, this date is indeed a long way off. If I could be a dove, whenever the fancy came to me, I should often rejoin you here. And I pray God that in His pleasure He may not detain me so long away. But sometimes a man intends speedily to return who knows not what the future has in store for him. And I know not what will be my fate -- perhaps some urgency of sickness or imprisonment may keep me back: you are unjust in not making an exception at least of actual hindrance." "My lord," says she, "I will make that exception. And yet I dare to promise you that, if God deliver you from death, no hindrance will stand in your way so long as you remember me. So put on your finger now this ring of mine, which I lend to you. And I will tell you all about the stone: no true and loyal lover can be imprisoned or lose any blood, nor can any harm befall him, provided he carry it and hold it dear, and keep his sweetheart in mind. You will become as hard as iron, and it will serve you as shield and hauberk. I have never before been willing to lend or entrust it to any knight, but to you I give it because of my affection for you." Now my lord Yvain is free to go, but he weeps bitterly on taking leave. The King, however, would not tarry longer for anything that might be said: rather was he anxious to have the palfreys brought all equipped and bridled. They acceded at once to his desire, bringing the palfreys forth, so that it remained only to mount. I do not know whether I ought to tell you how my lord Yvain took his leave, and of the kisses bestowed on him, mingled with tears and steeped in sweetness. And what shall I tell you about the King how the lady escorts him, accompanied by her damsels and seneschal? All this would require too much time. When he sees the lady's tears, the King implores her to come no farther, but to return to her abode. He begged her with such urgency that, heavy at heart, she turned about followed by her company.
(Vv. 2639-2773.) My lord Yvain is so distressed to leave his lady that his heart remains behind. The King may take his body off, but he cannot lead his heart away. She who stays behind clings so tightly to his heart that the King has not the power to take it away with him. When the body is left without the heart it cannot possibly live on. For such a marvel was never seen as the body alive without the heart. Yet this marvel now came about: for he kept his body without the heart, which was wont to be enclosed in it, but which would not follow the body now. The heart has a good abiding-place, while the body, hoping for a safe return to its heart, in strange fashion takes a new heart of hope, which is so often deceitful and treacherous. He will never know in advance, I think, the hour when this hope will play him false, for if he overstays by single day the term which he has agreed upon, it will be hard for him to gain again his lady's pardon and goodwill. Yet I think he will overstay the term, for my lord Gawain will not allow him to part from him, as together they go to joust wherever tournaments are held. And as the year passes by my lord Yvain had such success that my lord Gawain strove to honour him, and caused him to delay so long that all the first year slipped by, and it came to the middle of August of the ensuing year, when the King held court at Chester, whither they had returned the day before from a tournament where my lord Yvain had been and where he had won the glory and the story tells how the two companions were unwilling to lodge in the town, but had their tents set up outside the city, and held court there. For they never went to the royal court, but the King came rather to join in theirs, for they had the best knights, and the greatest number, in their company. Now King Arthur was seated in their midst, when Yvain suddenly had a thought which surprised him more than any that had occurred to him since he had taken leave of his lady, for he realised that he had broken his word, and that the limit of his leave was already exceeded. He could hardly keep back his tears, but he succeeded in doing so from shame. He was still deep in thought when he saw a damsel approaching rapidly upon a black palfrey with white forefeet. As she got down before the tent no one helped her to dismount, and no one went to take her horse. As soon as she made out the King, she let her mantle fall, and thus displayed she entered the tent and came before the King, announcing that her mistress sent greetings to the King, and to my lord Gawain and all the other knights, except Yvain, that disloyal traitor, liar, hypocrite, who had deserted her deceitfully. "She has seen clearly the treachery of him who pretended he was a faithful lover while he was a false and treacherous thief. This thief has traduced my lady, who was all unprepared for any evil, and to whom it never occurred that he would steal her heart away. Those who love truly do not steal hearts away; there are, however, some men, by whom these former are called thieves, who themselves go about deceitfully making love, but in whom there is no real knowledge of the matter. The lover takes his lady's heart, of course, but he does not run away with it; rather does he treasure it against those thieves who, in the guise of honourable men, would steal it from him. But those are deceitful and treacherous thieves who vie with one another in stealing hearts for which they care nothing. The true lover, wherever he may go, holds the heart dear and brings it back again. But Yvain has caused my lady's death, for she supposed that he would guard her heart for her, and would bring it back again before the year elapsed. Yvain, thou wast of short memory when thou couldst not remember to return to thy mistress within a year. She gave thee thy liberty until St. John's day, and thou settest so little store by her that never since has a thought of her crossed thy mind. My lady had marked every day in her chamber, as the seasons passed: for when one is in love, one is ill at ease and cannot get any restful sleep, but all night long must needs count and reckon up the days as they come and go. Dost thou know how lovers spend their time? They keep count of the time and the season. Her complaint is not presented prematurely or without cause, and I am not accusing him in any way, but I simply say that we have been ~ betrayed by him who married my lady. Yvain, my mistress has no further care for thee, but sends thee word by me never to come back to her, and no longer to keep her ring. She bids thee send it back to her by me, whom thou seest present here. Surrender it now, as thou art bound to do."
(Vv. 2774-3230.) Senseless and deprived of speech, Yvain is unable to reply. And the damsel steps forth and takes the ring from his finger, commending to God the King and all the others except him, whom she leaves in deep distress. And his sorrow grows on him: he feels oppressed by what he hears, and is tormented by what he sees. He would rather be banished alone in some wild land, where no one would know where to seek for him, and where no man or woman would know of his whereabouts any more than if he were in some deep abyss. He hates nothing so much as he hates himself, nor does he know to whom to go for comfort in the death he has brought upon himself. But he would rather go insane than not take vengeance upon himself, deprived, as he is, of joy through his own fault. He rises from his place among the knights, fearing he will lose his mind if he stays longer in their midst. On their part, they pay no heed to him, but let him take his departure alone. They know well enough that he cares nothing for their talk or their society. And he goes away until he is far from the tents and pavilions. Then such a storm broke loose in his brain that he loses his senses; he tears his flesh and, stripping off his clothes, he flees across the meadows and fields, leaving his men quite at a loss, and wondering what has become of him. (18) They go in search of him through all the country around -- in the lodgings of the knights, by the hedgerows, and in the gardens -- but they seek him where he is not to be found. Still fleeing, he rapidly pursued his way until he met close by a park a lad who had in his hand a bow and five barbed arrows, which were very sharp and broad. He had sense enough to go and take the bow and arrows which he held. However, he had no recollection of anything that he had done. He lies in wait for the beasts in the woods, killing them, and then eating the venison raw. Thus he dwelt in the forest like a madman or a savage, until he came upon a little, low-lying house belonging to a hermit, who was at work clearing his ground. When he saw him coming with nothing on, he could easily perceive that he was not in his right mind; and such was the case, as the hermit very well knew. So, in fear, he shut himself up in his little house, and taking some bread and fresh water, he charitably set it outside the house on a narrow window-ledge. And thither the other comes, hungry for the bread which he takes and eats. I do not believe that he ever before had tasted such hard and bitter bread. The measure of barley kneaded with the straw, of which the bread, sourer than yeast, was made, had not cost more than five sous; and the bread was musty and as dry as bark. But hunger torments and whets his appetite, so that the bread tasted to him like sauce. For hunger is itself a well mixed and concocted sauce for any food. My lord Yvain soon ate the hermit's bread, which tasted good to him, and drank the cool water from the jar. When he had eaten, he betook himself again to the woods in search of stags and does. And when he sees him going away, the good man beneath his roof prays God to defend him and guard him lest he ever pass that way again. But there is no creature, with howsoever little sense, that will not gladly return to a place where he is kindly treated. So, not a day passed while he was in this mad fit that he did not bring to his door some wild game. Such was the life he led; and the good man took it upon himself to remove the skin and set a good quantity of the venison to cook; and the bread and the water in the jug was always standing on the window-ledge for the madman to make a meal. Thus he had something to eat and drink: venison without salt or pepper, and good cool water from the spring. And the good man exerted himself to sell the hide and buy bread made of barley, or oats, or of some other grain; so, after that, Yvain had a plentiful supply of bread and venison, which sufficed him for a long time, until one day he was found asleep in the forest by two damsels and their mistress, in whose service they were. When they saw the naked man, one of the three ran and dismounted and examined him closely, before she saw anything about him which would serve to identify him. If he had only been richly attired, as he had been many a time, and if she could have seen him then she would have known him quickly enough. But she was slow to recognise him, and continued to look at him until at last she noticed a scar which he had on his face, and she recollected that my lord Yvain's face was scarred in this same way; she was sure of it, for she had often seen it. Because of the scar she saw that it was he beyond any doubt; but she marvelled greatly how it came about that she found him thus poor and stripped. Often she crosses herself in amazement, but she does not touch him or wake him up; rather does she mount her horse again, and going back to the others, tells them tearfully of her adventure. I do not know if I ought to delay to tell you of the grief she showed; but thus she spoke weeping to her mistress: "My lady, I have found Yvain, who has proved himself to be the best knight in the world, and the most virtuous. I cannot imagine what sin has reduced the gentleman to such a plight. I think he must have had some misfortune, which causes him thus to demean himself, for one may lose his wits through grief. And any one can see that he is not in his right mind, for it would surely never be like him to conduct himself thus indecently unless he had lost his mind. Would that God had restored to him the best sense he ever had, and would that he might then consent to render assistance to your cause! For Count Alier, who is at war with you, has made upon you a fierce attack. I should see the strife between you two quickly settled in your favour if God favoured your fortunes so that he should return to his senses and undertake to aid you in this stress." To this the lady made reply: "Take care now! For surely, if he does not escape, with God's help I think we can clear his head of all the madness and insanity. But we must be on our way at once! For I recall a certain ointment with which Morgan the Wise presented me, saying there was no delirium of the head which it would not cure." Thereupon, they go off at once toward the town, which was hard by, for it was not any more than half a league of the kind they have in that country; and, as compared with ours, two of their leagues make one and four make two. And he remains sleeping all alone, while the lady goes to fetch the ointment. The lady opens a case of hers, and, taking out a box, gives it to the damsel, and charges her not to be too prodigal in its use: she should rub only his temples with it, for there is no use of applying it elsewhere; she should anoint only his temples with it, and the remainder she should carefully keep, for there is nothing the matter with him except in his brain. She sends him also a robe of spotted fur, a coat, and a mantle of scarlet silk. The damsel takes them, and leads in her right hand an excellent palfrey. And she added to these, of her own store, a shirt, some soft hose, and some new drawers of proper cut. With all these things she quickly set out, and found him still asleep where she had left him. After putting her horse in an enclosure where she tied him fast, she came with the clothes and the ointment to the place where he was asleep. Then she made so bold as to approach the madman, so that she could touch and handle him: then taking the ointment she rubbed him with it until none remained in the box, being so solicitous for his recovery that she proceeded to anoint him all over with it; and she used it so freely that she heeded not the warning of her mistress, nor indeed did she remember it. She put more on than was needed, but in her opinion it was well employed. She rubbed his temples and forehead, and his whole body down to the ankles. She rubbed his temples and his whole body so much there in the hot sunshine that the madness and the depressing gloom passed completely out of his brain. But she was foolish to anoint his body, for of that there was no need. If she had had five measures of it she would doubtless have done the same thing. She carries off the box, and takes hidden refuge by her horse. But she leaves the robe behind, wishing that, if God calls him back to life, he may see it all laid out, and may take it and put it on. She posts herself behind an oak tree until he had slept enough, and was cured and quite restored, having regained his wits and memory. Then he sees that he is as naked as ivory, and feels much ashamed; but he would have been yet more ashamed had he known what had happened. As it is, he knows nothing but that he is naked. He sees the new robe lying before him, and marvels greatly how and by what adventure it had come there. But he is ashamed and concerned, because of his nakedness, and says that he is dead and utterly undone if any one has come upon him there and recognised him. Meanwhile, he clothes himself and looks out into the forest to see if any one was approaching. He tries to stand up and support himself, but cannot summon the strength to walk away, for his sickness has so affected him that he can scarcely stand upon his feet. Thereupon, the damsel resolves to wait no longer, but, mounting, she passed close by him, as if unaware of his presence. Quite indifferent as to whence might come the help, which he needed so much to lead him away to some lodging- place, where he might recruit his strength, he calls out to her with all his might. And the damsel, for her part, looks about her as if not knowing what the trouble is. Confused, she goes hither and thither, not wishing to go straight up to him. Then he begins to call again: "Damsel, come this way, here!" And the damsel guided toward him her soft-stepping palfrey. By this ruse she made him think that she knew nothing of him and had never seen him before; in so doing she was wise and courteous. When she had come before him, she said: "Sir knight, what do you desire that you call me so insistently?" "Ah," said he. "prudent damsel, I have found myself in this wood by some mishap -- I know not what. For God's sake and your belief in Him, I pray you to lend me, taking my word as pledge, or else to give me outright, that palfrey you are leading in your hand." "Gladly, sire: but you must accompany me whither I am going." "Which way?" says he. "To a town that stands near by, beyond the forest." "Tell me, damsel, if you stand in need of me." "Yes," she says, "I do; but I think you are not very well. For the next two weeks at least you ought to rest. Take this horse, which I hold in my right hand, and we shall go to our lodging-place." And he, who had no other desire, takes it and mounts, and they proceed until they come to a bridge over a swift and turbulent stream. And the damsel throws into the water the empty box she is carrying, thinking to excuse herself to her mistress for her ointment by saying that she was so unlucky as to let the box fall into the water for, when her palfrey stumbled under her, the box slipped from her gasp, and she came near falling in too, which would have been still worse luck. It is her intention to invent this story when she comes into her mistress' presence. Together they held their way until they came to the town, where the lady detained my lord Yvain and asked her damsel in private for her box and ointment: and the damsel repeated to her the lie as she had invented it, not daring to tell her the truth. Then the lady was greatly enraged, and said: "This is certainly a very serious loss, and I am sure and certain that the box will never be found again. But since it has happened so, there is nothing more to be done about it. One often desires a blessing which turns out to be a curse; thus I, who looked for a blessing and joy from this knight, have lost the dearest and most precious of my possessions. However, I beg you to serve him in all respects." "Ah, lady, how wisely now you speak! For it would be too bad to convert one misfortune into two."
(Vv. 3131-3254.) Then they say no more about the box, but minister in every way they can to the comfort of my lord Yvain, bathing him and washing his hair, having him shaved and clipped, for one could have taken up a fist full of hair upon his face. His every want is satisfied: if he asks for arms, they are furnished him: if he wants a horse, they provide him with one that is large and handsome, strong and spirited. He stayed there until, upon a Tuesday, Count Alier came to the town with his men and knights, who started fires and took plunder. Those in the town at once rose up and equipped themselves with arms. Some armed and some unarmed, they issued forth to meet the plunderers, who did not deign to retreat before them, but awaited them in a narrow pass. My lord Yvain struck at the crowd; he had had so long a rest that his strength was quite restored, and he struck a knight upon his shield with such force that he sent down in a heap, I think, the knight together with his horse. The knight never rose again, for his backbone was broken and his heart burst within his breast. My lord Yvain drew back a little to recover. Then protecting himself completely with his shield, he spurred forward to clear the pass. One could not have counted up to four before one would have seen him cast down speedily four knights. Whereupon, those who were with him waxed more brave, for many a man of poor and timid heart, at the sight of some brave man who attacks a dangerous task before his eves, will be overwhelmed by confusion and shame, which will drive out the poor heart in his body and give him another like to a hero's for courage. So these men grew brave and each stood his ground in the fight and attack. And the lady was up in the tower, whence she saw the fighting and the rush to win and gain possession of the pass, and she saw lying upon the ground many who were wounded and many killed, both of her own party and of the enemy, but more of the enemy than of her own. For my courteous, bold, and excellent lord Yvain made them yield just as a falcon does the teal. And the men and women who had remained within the town declared as they watched the strife: "Ah, what a valiant knight! How he makes his enemies yield, and how fierce is his attack! He was about him as a lion among the fallow deer, when he is impelled by need and hunger. Then, too, all our other knights are more brave and daring because of him, for, were it not for him alone, not a lance would have been splintered nor a sword drawn to strike. When such an excellent man is found he ought to be loved and dearly prized. See now how he proves himself, see how he maintains his place, see how he stains with blood his lance and bare sword, see how he presses the enemy and follows them up, how he comes boldly to attack them, then gives away and turns about; but he spends little time in giving away, and soon returns to the attack. See him in the fray again, how lightly he esteems his shield, which he allows to be cut in pieces mercilessly. Just see how keen he is to avenge the blows which are dealt at him. For, if some one should use all the forest of Argone (19) to make lances for him, I guess he would have none left by night. For he breaks all the lances that they place in his socket, and calls for more. And see how he wields the sword when he draws it! Roland never wrought such havoc with Durendal against the Turks at Ronceval or in Spain! (20) If he had in his company some good companions like himself, the traitor, whose attack we are suffering, would retreat today discomfited, or would stand his ground only to find defeat." Then they say that the woman would be blessed who should be loved by one who is so powerful in arms, and who above all others may be recognised as a taper among candles, as a moon among the stars, and as the sun above the moon. He so won the hearts of all that the prowess which they see in him made them wish that he had taken their lady to wife, and that he were master of the land.
(Vv. 3255-3340.) Thus men and women alike praised him, and in doing so they but told the truth. For his attack on his adversaries was such that they vie with one another in flight. But he presses hard upon their heels, and all his companions follow him, for by his side they feel as safe as if they were enclosed in a high and thick stone wall. The pursuit continues until those who flee become exhausted, and the pursuers slash at them and disembowel their steeds. The living roll over upon the dead as they wound and kill each other. They work dreadful destruction upon each other; and meanwhile the Count flees with my lord Yvain after him, until he comes up with him at the foot of a steep ascent, near the entrance of a strong place which belonged to the Count. There the Count was stopped, with no one near to lend him aid; and without any excessive parley my lord Yvain received his surrender. For as soon as he held him in his hands, and they were left just man to man, there was no further possibility of escape, or of yielding, or of self-defence; so the Count pledged his word to go to surrender to the lady of Noroison as her prisoner, and to make such peace as she might dictate. And when he had accepted his word he made him disarm his head and remove the shield from about his neck, and the Count surrendered to him his sword. Thus he won the honour of leading off the Count as his prisoner, and of giving him over to his enemies, who make no secret of their joy. But the news was carried to the town before they themselves arrived. While all come forth to meet them, the lady herself leads the way. My lord Yvain holds his prisoner by the hand, and presents him to her. The Count gladly acceded to her wishes and demands, and secured her by his word, oath, and pledges. Giving her pledges, he swears to her that he will always live on peaceful terms with her, and will make good to her all the loss which she can prove, and will build up again the houses which he had destroyed. When these things were agreed upon in accordance with the lady's wish, my lord Yvain asked leave to depart. But she would not have granted him this permission had he been willing to take her as his mistress. or to marry her. But he would not allow himself to be followed or escorted a single step, but rather departed hastily: in this case entreaty was of no avail. So he started out to retrace his path, leaving the lady much chagrined, whose joy he had caused a while before. When he will not tarry longer she is the more distressed and ill at ease in proportion to the happiness he had brought to her, for she would have wished to honour him, and would have made him, with his consent, lord of all her possessions, or else she would have paid him for his services whatever sum he might have named. But he would not heed any word of man or woman. Despite their grief he left the knights and the lady who vainly tried to detain him longer.
(Vv. 3341-3484.) Pensively my lord Yvain proceeded through a deep wood, until he heard among the trees a very loud and dismal cry, and he turned in the direction whence it seemed to come. And when he had arrived upon the spot he saw in a cleared space a lion, and a serpent which held him by the tail, burning his hind- quarters with flames of fire. My lord Yvain did not gape at this strange spectacle, but took counsel with himself as to which of the two he should aid. Then he says that he will succour the lion, for a treacherous and venomous creature deserves to be harmed. Now the serpent is poisonous, and fire bursts forth from its mouth -- so full of wickedness is the creature. So my lord Yvain decides that he will kill the serpent first. Drawing his sword he steps forward, holding the shield before his face in order not to be harmed by the flame emerging from the creature's throat, which was larger than a pot. If the lion attacks him next, he too shall have all the fight he wishes; but whatever may happen afterwards he makes up his mind to help him now. For pity urges him and makes request that he should bear succour and aid to the gentle and noble beast. With his sword, which cuts so clean, he attacks the wicked serpent, first cleaving him through to the earth and cutting him in two, then continuing his blows until he reduces him to tiny bits. But he had to cut off a piece of the lion's tail to get at the serpent's head, which held the lion by the tail. He cut off only so much as was necessary and unavoidable. When he had set the lion free, he supposed that he would have to fight with him, and that the lion would come at him; but the lion was not minded so. Just hear now what the lion did! He acted nobly and as one well-bred; for he began to make it evident that he yielded himself to him, by standing upon his two hind-feet and bowing his face to the earth, with his fore- feet joined and stretched out toward him. Then he fell on his knees again, and all his face was wet with the tears of humility. My lord Yvain knows for a truth that the lion is thanking him and doing him homage because of the serpent which he had killed, thereby delivering him from death. He was greatly pleased by this episode. He cleaned his sword of the serpent's poison and filth; then he replaced it in its scabbard, and resumed his way. And the lion walks close by his side, unwilling henceforth to part from him: he will always in future accompany him, eager to serve and protect him. (21) He goes ahead until he scents in the wind upon his way some wild beasts feeding; then hunger and his nature prompt him to seek his prey and to secure his sustenance. It is his nature so to do. He started ahead a little on the trail, thus showing his master that he had come upon and detected the odour and scent of some wild game. Then he looks at him and halts, wishing to serve his every wish, and unwilling to proceed against his will. Yvain understands by his attitude that he is showing that he awaits his pleasure. He perceives this and understands that if he holds back he will hold back too, and that if he follows him he will seize the game which he has scented. Then he incites and cries to him, as he would do to hunting-dogs. At once the lion directed his nose to the scent which he had detected, and by which he was not deceived, for he had not gone a bow-shot when he saw in a valley a deer grazing all alone. This deer he will seize, if he has his way. And so he did, at the first spring, and then drank its blood still warm. When he had killed it he laid it upon his back and carried it back to his master, who thereupon conceived a greater affection for him, and chose him as a companion for all his life, because of the great devotion he found in him. It was near nightfall now, and it seemed good to him to spend the night there, and strip from the deer as much as he cared to eat. Beginning to carve it he splits the skin along the rib, and taking a steak from the loin he strikes from a flint a spark, which he catches in some dry brush- wood; then he quickly puts his steak upon a roasting spit to cook before the fire, and roasts it until it is quite cooked through. But there was no pleasure in the meal, for there was no bread, or wine, or salt, or cloth, or knife, or anything else. While he was eating, the lion lay at his feet; nor a movement did he make, but watched him steadily until he had eaten all that he could eat of the steak. What remained of the deer the lion devoured, even to the bones. And while all night his master laid his head upon his shield to gain such rest as that afforded, the lion showed such intelligence that he kept awake, and was careful to guard the horse as it fed upon the grass, which yielded some slight nourishment.
(Vv. 3485-3562.) In the morning they go off together, and the same sort of existence, it seems, as they had led that night, they two continued to lead all the ensuing week, until chance brought them to the spring beneath the pine-tree. There my lord Yvain almost lost his wits a second time, as he approached the spring, with its stone and the chapel that stood close by. So great was his distress that a thousand times he sighed "alas!" and grieving fell in a swoon; and the point of his sharp sword, falling from its scabbard, pierced the meshes of his hauberk right in the neck beside the cheek. There is not a mesh that does not spread, and the sword cuts the flesh of his neck beneath the shining mail, so that it causes the blood to start. Then the lion thinks that he sees his master and companion dead. You never heard greater grief narrated or told about anything than he now began to show. He casts himself about, and scratches and cries, and has the wish to kill himself with the sword with which he thinks his master has killed himself. Taking the sword from him with his teeth he lays it on a fallen tree, and steadies it on a trunk behind, so that it will not slip or give way, when he hurls his breast against it, His intention was nearly accomplished when his master recovered from his swoon, and the lion restrained himself as he was blindly rushing upon death, like a wild boar heedless of where he wounds himself. Thus my lord Yvain lies in a swoon beside the stone, but, on recovering, he violently reproached himself for the year during which he had overstayed his leave, and for which he had incurred his lady's hate, and he said: "Why does this wretch not kill himself who has thus deprived himself of joy? Alas! why do I not take my life? How can I stay here and look upon what belongs to my lady? Why does the soul still tarry in my body? What is the soul doing in so miserable a frame? If it had already escaped away it would not be in such torment. It is fitting to hate and blame and despise myself, even as in fact I do. Whoever loses his bliss and contentment through fault or error of his own ought to hate himself mortally. He ought to hate and kill himself. And now, when no one is looking on, why do I thus spare myself? Why do I not take my life? Have I not seen this lion a prey to such grief on my behalf that he was on the point just now of thrusting my sword through his breast? And ought I to fear death who have changed happiness into grief? Joy is now a stranger to me. Joy? What joy is that? I shall say no more of that, for no one could speak of such a thing; and I have asked a foolish question. That was the greatest joy of all which was assured as my possession, but it endured for but a little while. Whoever loses such joy through his own misdeed is undeserving of happiness."
(Vv. 3563-3898.) While he thus bemoaned his fate, a lorn damsel in sorry plight, who was in the chapel, saw him and heard his words through a crack in the wall. As soon as he was recovered from his swoon, she called to him: "God," said she, "who is that I hear? Who is it that thus complains?" And he replied: "And who are you?" "I am a wretched one," she said, "the most miserable thing alive." And he replied: "Be silent, foolish one! Thy grief is joy and thy sorrow is bliss compared with that in which I am cast down. In proportion as a man becomes more accustomed to happiness and joy, so is he more distracted and stunned than any other man by sorrow when it comes. A man of little strength can carry, through custom and habit, a weight which another man of greater strength could not carry for anything." "Upon my word," she said, "I know the truth of that remark; but that is no reason to believe that your misfortune is worse than mine. Indeed, I do not believe it at all, for it seems to me that you can go anywhere you choose to go, whereas I am imprisoned here, and such a fate is my portion that to-morrow I shall be seized and delivered to mortal judgment." "Ah, God!" said he, "and for what crime?" "Sir knight, may God never have mercy upon my soul, if I have merited such a fate! Nevertheless, I shall tell you truly, without deception, why I am here in prison: I am charged with treason, and I cannot find any one to defend me from being burned or hanged to-morrow." "In the first place," he replied, "I may say that my grief and woe are greater than yours, for you may yet be delivered by some one from the peril in which you are. Is that not true:" "Yes, but I know not yet by whom. There are only two men in the world who would dare on my behalf to face three men in battle." "What? In God's name, are there three of them?" "Yes, sire, upon my word. There are three who accuse me of treachery." "And who are they who are so devoted to you that either one of them would be bold enough to fight against three in your defence?" "I will answer your question truthfully: one of them is my lord Gawain, and the other is my lord Yvain, because of whom I shall to-morrow be handed over unjustly to the martyrdom of death." "Because of whom?" he asked, "what did you say?" "Sire, so help me God, because of the son of King Urien." "Now I understand your words, but you shall not die, without he dies too. I myself am that Yvain, because of whom you are in such distress. And you, I take it, are she who once guarded me safely in the hall, and saved my life and my body between the two portcullises, when I was troubled and distressed, and alarmed at being trapped. I should have been killed or seized, had it not been for your kind aid. Now tell me, my gentle friend, who are those who now accuse you of treachery, and have confined you in this lonely place?" "Sire, I shall not conceal it from you, since you desire me to tell you all. It is a fact that I was not slow in honestly aiding you. Upon my advice my lady received you, after heeding my opinion and my counsel. And by the Holy Paternoster, more for her welfare than for your own I thought I was doing it, and I think so still. So much now I confess to you: it was her honour and your desire that I sought to serve, so help me God! But when it became evident that you had overstayed the year when you should return to my mistress, then she became enraged at me, and thought that she had been deceived by putting trust in my advice. And when this was discovered by the seneschal -- a rascally, underhanded, disloyal wretch, who was jealous of me because in many matters my lady trusted me more than she trusted him, he saw that he could now stir up great enmity between me and her. In full court and in the presence of all he accused me of having betrayed her in your favour. And I had no counsel or aid except my own; but I knew that I had never done or conceived any treacherous act toward my lady, so I cried out, as one beside herself, and without the advice of any one, that I would present in my own defence one knight who should fight against three. The fellow was not courteous enough to scorn to accept such odds, nor was I at liberty to retreat or withdraw for anything that might happen. So he took me at my word, and I was compelled to furnish bail that I would present within forty days a knight to do battle against three knights. Since then I have visited many courts; I was at King Arthur's court, but found no help from any there, nor did I find any one who could tell me any good news of you, for they knew nothing of your affairs." "Pray tell me. Where then was my good and gentle lord Gawain? No damsel in distress ever needed his aid without its being extended to her." "If I had found him at court, I could not have asked him for anything which would have been refused me; but a certain knight has carried off the Queen, so they told me; surely the King was mad to send her off in his company. (22) I believe it was Kay who escorted her to meet the knight who has taken her away; and my lord Gawain in great distress has gone in search for her. He will never have any rest until he finds her. Now I have told you the whole truth of my adventure. To-morrow I shall be put to a shameful death, and shall be burnt inevitably, a victim of your criminal neglect." And he replies: "May God forbid that you should be harmed because of me! So long as I live you shall not die! You may expect me tomorrow, prepared to the extent of my power to present my body in your cause, as it is proper that I should do. But have no concern to tell the people who I am! However the battle may turn out, take care that I be not recognised!" "Surely, sire, no pressure could make me reveal your name. I would sooner suffer death, since you will have it so. Yet, after all, I beg you not to return for my sake. I would not have you undertake a battle which will be so desperate. I thank you for your promised word that you would gladly undertake it, but consider yourself now released, for it is better that I should die alone than that I should see them rejoice over your death as well as mine; they would not spare my life after they had put you to death. So it is better for you to remain alive than that we both should meet death." "That is very ungrateful remark, my dear," says my lord Yvain; "I suppose that either you do not wish to be delivered from death, or else that you scorn the comfort I bring you with my aid. I will not discuss the matter more, for you have surely done so much for me that I cannot fail you in any need. I know that you are in great distress; but, if it be God's will, in whom I trust, they shall all three be discomfited. So no more upon that score: I am going off now to find some shelter in this wood, for there is no dwelling near at hand." "Sire," she says, "may God give you both good shelter and good night, and protect you as I desire from everything that might do you harm!" Then my lord Yvain departs, and the lion as usual after him. They journeyed until they came ro a baron's fortified place, which was completely surrounded by a massive, strong, and high wall. The castle, being extraordinarily well protected, feared no assault of catapult or storming-machine; but outside the walls the ground was so completely cleared that not a single hut or dwelling remained standing. You will learn the cause of this a little later, when the time comes. My lord Yvain made his way directly toward the fortified place, and seven varlets came out who lowered the bridge and advanced to meet him. But they were terrified at sight of the lion, which they saw with him, and asked him kindly to leave the lion at the gate lest he should wound or kill them. And he replies: "Say no more of that! For I shall not enter without him. Either we shall both find shelter here or else I shall stay outside; he is as dear to me as I am myself. Yet you need have no fear of him! For I shall keep him so well in hand that you may be quite confident." They made answer: "Very well!" Then they entered the town, and passed on until they met knights and ladies and charming damsels coming down the street, who salute him and wait to remove his armour as they say: "Welcome to our midst, fair sire! And may God grant that you tarry here until you may leave with great honour and satisfaction!" High and low alike extend to him a glad welcome, and do all they can for him, as they joyfully escort him into the town. But after they had expressed their gladness they are overwhelmed by grief, which makes them quickly forget their joy, as they begin to lament and weep and beat themselves. Thus, for a long space of time, they cease not to rejoice or make lament: it is to honour their guest that they rejoice, but their heart is not in what they do, for they are greatly worried over an event which they expect to take place on the following day, and they feel very sure and certain that it will come to pass before midday. My lord Yvain was so surprised that they so often changed their mood, and mingled grief with their happiness, that he addressed the lord of the place on the subject. "For God's sake," he said, "fair gentle sir, will you kindly inform me why you have thus honoured me, and shown at once such joy and such heaviness?" "Yes, if you desire to know, but it would be better for you to desire ignorance and silence. I will never tell you willingly anything to cause you grief. Allow us to continue to lament, and do you pay no attention to what we do!" "It would be quite impossible for me to see you sad and nor take it upon my heart, so I desire to know the truth, whatever chagrin may result to me." "Well, then," he said, "I will tell you all. I have suffered much from a giant, who has insisted that I should give him my daughter, who surpasses in beauty all the maidens in the world. This evil giant, whom may God confound, is named Harpin of the Mountain. Not a day passes without his taking all of my possessions upon which he can lay his hands. No one has a better right than I to complain, and to be sorrowful, and to make lament. I might well lose my senses from very grief, for I had six sons who were knights, fairer than any I knew in the world, and the giant has taken all six of them. Before my eyes he killed two of them, and to-morrow he will kill the other four, unless I find some one who will dare to fight him for the deliverance of my sons, or unless I consent to surrender my daughter to him; and he says that when he has her in his possession he will give her over to be the sport of the vilest and lewdest fellows in his house, for he would scorn to take her now for himself. That is the disaster which awaits me to-morrow, unless the Lord God grant me His aid. So it is no wonder, fair sir, if we are all in tears. But for your sake we strive for the moment to assume as cheerful a countenance as we can. For he is a fool who attracts a gentleman to his presence and then does not honour him; and you seem to be a very perfect gentleman. Now I have told you the entire story of our great distress. Neither in town nor in fortress has the giant left us anything, except what we have here. If you had noticed, you must have seen this evening that he has not left us so much as an egg, except these walls which are new; for he has razed the entire town. When he had plundered all he wished, he set fire to what remained. In this way he has done me many an evil turn."
(Vv. 3899-3956.) My lord Yvain listened to all that his host told him, and when he had heard it all he was pleased to answer him: "Sire, I am sorry and distressed about this trouble of yours; but I marvel greatly that you have not asked assistance at good King Arthur's court. There is no man so mighty that he could not find at his court some who would be glad to try their strength with his." Then the wealthy man reveals and explains to him that he would have had efficient help if he had known where to find my lord Gawain. "He would not have failed me upon this occasion, for my wife is his own sister; but a knight from a strange land, who went to court to seek the King's wife, has led her away. However, he could not have gotten possession of her by any means of his own invention, had it not been for Kay, who so befooled the King that he gave the Queen into his charge and placed her under his protection. He was a fool, and she imprudent to entrust herself to his escort. And I am the one who suffers and loses in all this; for it is certain that my excellent lord Gawain would have made haste to come here, had he known the facts, for the sake of his nephews and his niece. But he knows nothing of it, wherefore I am so distressed that my heart is almost breaking, for he is gone in pursuit of him, to whom may God bring shame and woe for having led the Queen away." While listening to this recital my lord Yvain does not cease to sigh. Inspired by the pity which he feels, he makes this reply: "Fair gentle sire, I would gladly undertake this perilous adventure, if the giant and your sons should arrive to-morrow in time to cause me no delay, for tomorrow at noon I shall be somewhere else, in accordance with a promise I have made." "Once for all, fair sire," the good man said, "I thank you a hundred thousand times for your willingness." And all the people of the house likewise expressed their gratitude.
(Vv. 3957-4384.) Just then the damsel came out of a room, with her graceful body and her face so fair and pleasing to look upon. She was very simple and sad and quiet as she came, for there was no end to the grief she felt: she walked with her head bowed to the ground. And her mother, too, came in from an adjoining room, for the gentleman had sent for them to meet his guest. They entered with their mantles wrapped about them to conceal their tears; and he bid them throw back their mantles, and hold up their heads, saying: "You ought not to hesitate to obey my behests, for God and good fortune have given us here a very well- born gentleman who assures me that he will fight against the giant. Delay no longer now to throw yourselves at his feet!" "May God never let me see that!" my lord Yvain hastens to exclaim; "surely it would not be proper under any circumstances for the sister and the niece of my lord Gawain to prostrate themselves at my feet. May God defend me from ever giving place to such pride as to let them fall at my feet! Indeed, I should never forget the shame which I should feel; but I should be very glad if they would take comfort until to-morrow, when they may see whether God will consent to aid them. I have no other request to make, except that the giant may come in such good time that I be not compelled to break my engagement elsewhere; for I would not fail for anything to be present to-morrow noon at the greatest business I could ever undertake." Thus he is unwilling to reassure them completely, for he fears that the giant may not come early enough to allow him to reach in time the damsel who is imprisoned in the chapel. Nevertheless, he promises them enough to arouse good hope in them. They all alike join in thanking him, for they place great confidence in his prowess, and they think he must be a very good man, when they see the lion by his side as confident as a lamb would be. They take comfort and rejoice because of the hope they stake on him, and they indulge their grief no more. When the time came they led him off to bed in a brightly lighted room; both the damsel and her mother escorted him, for they prized him dearly, and would have done so a hundred thousand times more had they been informed of his prowess and courtesy. He and the lion together lay down there and took their rest. The others dared not sleep in the room; but they closed the door so tight that they could not come out until the next day at dawn. When the room was thrown open he got up and heard Mass, and then, because of the promise he had made, he waited until the hour of prime. Then in the hearing of all he summoned the lord of the town and said: "My lord, I have no more time to wait, but must ask your permission to leave at once; I cannot tarry longer here. But believe truly that I would gladly and willingly stay here yet awhile for the sake of the nephews and the niece of my beloved lord Gawain, if I did not have a great business on hand, and if it were not so far away." At this the damsel's blood quivered and boiled with fear, as well as the lady's and the lord's. They were so afraid he would go away that they were on the point of humbling themselves and casting themselves at his feet, when they recalled that he would not approve or permit their action. Then the lord makes him an offer of all he will take of his lands or wealth, if only he will wait a little longer. And he replied: "God forbid that ever I should take anything of yours!" Then the damsel, who is in dismay, begins to weep aloud, and beseeches him to stay. Like one distracted and prey to dread, she begs him by the glorious queen of heaven and of the angels, and by the Lord, not to go but to wait a little while; and then, too, for her uncle's sake, whom he says he knows, and loves, and esteems. Then his heart is touched with deep pity when he hears her adjuring him in the name of him whom he loves the most, and by the mistress of heaven, and by the Lord, who is the very honey and sweet savour of pity. Filled with anguish he heaved a sigh, for were the kingdom of Tarsus at stake he would not see her burned to whom he had pledged his aid. If he could not reach her in time, he would be unable to endure his life, or would live on without his wits on the other hand, the kindness of his friend, my lord Gawain, only increased his distress; his heart almost bursts in half at the thought that he cannot delay. Nevertheless, he does not stir, but delays and waits so long that the giant came suddenly, bringing with him the knights: and hanging from his neck he carried a big square stake with a pointed end, and with this he frequently spurred them on. For their part they had no clothing on that was worth a straw, except some soiled and filthy shirts: and their feet and hands were bound with cords, as they came riding upon four limping jades, which were weak, and thin, and miserable. As they came riding along beside a wood, a dwarf, who was puffed up like a toad, had tied the horses' tails together, and walked beside them, beating them remorselessly with a four-knotted scourge until they bled, thinking thereby to be doing something wonderful. Thus they were brought along in shame by the giant and the dwarf. Stopping in the plain in front of the city gate, the giant shouts out to the noble lord that he will kill his sons unless he delivers to him his daughter, whom he will surrender to his vile fellows to become their sport. For he no longer loves her nor esteems her, that he should deign to abase himself to her. She shall be constantly beset by a thousand lousy and ragged knaves, vacant wretches, and scullery boys, who all shall lay hands on her. The worthy man is well-nigh beside himself when he hears how his daughter will be made a bawd, or else, before his very eyes, his four sons will be put to a speedy death. His agony is like that of one who would rather be dead than alive. Again and again he bemoans his fate, and weeps aloud and sighs. Then my frank and gentle lord Yvain thus began to speak to him: "Sire, very vile and impudent is that giant who vaunts himself out there. But may God never grant that he should have your daughter in his power! He despises her and insults her openly. It would be too great a calamity if so lovely a creature of such high birth were handed over to become the sport of boys. Give me now my arms and horse! Have the drawbridge lowered, and let me pass. One or the other must be cast down, either I or he, I know not which. If I could only humiliate the cruel wretch who is thus oppressing you, so that he would release your sons and should come and make amends for the insulting words he has spoken to you, then I would commend you to God and go about my business." Then they go to get his horse, and hand over to him his arms, striving so expeditiously that they soon have him quite equipped. They delayed as little as they could in arming him. When his equipment was complete, there remained nothing but to lower the bridge and let him go. They lowered it for him, and he went out. But the lion would by no means stay behind. All those who were left behind commended the knight to the Saviour, for they fear exceedingly lest their devilish enemy, who already had slain so many good men on the same field before their eyes, would do the same with him. So they pray God to defend him from death, and return him to them safe and sound, and that He may give him strength to slay the giant. Each one softly prays to God in accordance with his wish. And the giant fiercely came at him, and with threatening words thus spake to him: "By my eyes, the man who sent thee here surely had no love for thee! No better way could he have taken to avenge himself on thee. He has chosen well his vengeance for whatever wrong thou hast done to him." But the other, fearing naught, replies: "Thou treatest of what matters not. Now do thy best, and I'll do mine. Idle parley wearies me." Thereupon my lord Yvain, who was anxious to depart, rides at him. He goes to strike him on the breast, which was protected by a bear's skin, and the giant runs at him with his stake raised in air. My lord Yvain deals him such a blow upon the chest that he thrusts through the skin and wets the tip of his lance in his body's blood by way of sauce. And the giant belabours him with the stake, and makes him bend beneath the blows. My lord Yvain then draws the sword with which he knew how to deal fierce blows. He found the giant unprotected, for he trusted in his strength so much that he disdained to arm himself. And he who had drawn his blade gave him such a slash with the cutting edge, and not with the flat side, that he cut from his cheek a slice fit to roast. Then the other in turn gave him such a blow with the stake that it made him sing in a heap upon his horse's neck. Thereupon the lion bristles up, ready to lend his master aid, and leaps up in his anger and strength, and strikes and tears like so much bark the heavy bearskin the giant wore, and he tore away beneath the skin a large piece of his thigh, together with the nerves and flesh. The giant escaped his clutches, roaring and bellowing like a bull, for the lion had badly wounded him. Then raising his stake in both hands, he thought to strike him, but missed his aim, when the lion leaded backward so he missed his blow, and fell exhausted beside my lord Yvain, but without either of them touching the other. Then my lord Yvain took aim and landed two blows on him. Before he could recover himself he had severed with the edge of his sword the giant's shoulder from his body. With the next blow he ran the whole blade of his sword through his liver beneath his chest; the giant falls in death's embrace. And if a great oak tree should fall, I think it would make no greater noise than the giant made when he tumbled down. All those who were on the wall would fain have witnessed such a blow. Then it became evident who was the most fleet of foot, for all ran to see the game, just like hounds which have followed the beast until they finally come up with him. So men and women in rivalry ran forward without delay to where the giant lay face downward. The daughter comes running, and her mother too. And the four brothers rejoice after the woes they have endured. As for my lord Yvain they are very sure that they could not detain him for any reason they might allege, but they beseech him to return and stay to enjoy himself as soon as he shall have completed the business which calls him away. And he replies that he cannot promise them anything, for as yet he cannot guess whether it will fare well or ill with him. But thus much did he say to his host: that he wished that his four sons and his daughter should take the dwarf and go to my lord Gawain when they hear of his return, and should tell and relate to him how he has conducted himself. For kind actions are of no use if you are not willing that they be known. And they reply: "It is not right that such kindness as this should be kept hid: we shall do whatever you desire. But tell us what we can say when we come before him. Whose praises can we speak, when we know not what your name may be?" And he answers them: "When you come before him, you may say thus much: that I told you `The Knight with the Lion' was my name. And at the same time I must beg you to tell him from me that, if he does not recognise who I am, yet he knows me well and I know him. Now I must be gone from here, and the thing which most alarms me is that I may too long have tarried here, for before the hour of noon be passed I shall have plenty to do elsewhere, if indeed I can arrive there in time." Then, without further delay, he starts. But first his host begged him insistently that he would take with him his four sons: for there was none of them who would not strive to serve him, if he would allow it. But it did not please or suit him that any one should accompany him; so he left the place to them, and went away alone. And as soon as he starts, riding as fast as his steed can carry him, he heads toward the chapel. The path was good and straight, and he knew well how to keep the road. But before he could reach the chapel, the damsel had been dragged out and the pyre prepared upon which she was to be placed. Clad only in a shift, she was held bound before the fire by those who wrongly attributed to her an intention she had never had. My lord Yvain arrived, and, seeing her beside the fire into which she was about to be cast, he was naturally incensed. He would be neither courteous nor sensible who had any doubt about that fact. So it is true that he was much incensed; but he cherishes within himself the hope that God and the Right will be on his side. In such helpers he confides; nor does he scorn his lion's aid. Rushing quickly toward the crowd, he shouts: "Let the damsel be, you wicked folk! Having committed no crime, it is not right that she should be cast upon a pyre or into a furnace." And they draw off on either side, leaving a passage-way for him. But he yearns to see with his own eyes her whom his heart beholds in whatever place she may be. His eyes seek her until he finds her, while he subdues and holds in check his heart, just as one holds in check with a strong curb a horse that pulls. Nevertheless, he gladly gazes at her, and sighs the while; but he does not sigh so openly that his action is detected; rather does he stifle his sighs, though with difficulty. And he is seized with pity at hearing, seeing, and perceiving the grief of the poor ladies, who cried: "Ah, God, how hast Thou forgotten us! How desolate we shall now remain when we lose so kind a friend, who gave us such counsel and such aid, and interceded for us at court! It was she who prompted madame to clothe us with her clothes of vair. Henceforth the situation will change, for there will be no one to speak for us! Cursed be he who is the cause of our loss! For we shall fare badly in all this. There will be no one to utter such advice as this: `My lady, give this vair mantle, this cloak, and this garment to such and such an honest dame! Truly, such charity will be well employed, for she is in very dire need of them.' No such words as these shall be uttered henceforth, for there is no one else who is frank and courteous; but every one solicits for himself rather than for some one else, even though he have no need."
(Vv. 4385-4474.) Thus they were bemoaning their fate; and my lord Yvain who was in their midst, heard their complaints, which were neither groundless nor assumed. He saw Lunete on her knees and stripped to her shift, having already made confession, and besought God's mercy for her sins. Then he who had loved her deeply once came to her and raised her up, saying: "My damsel, where are those who blame and accuse you? Upon the spot, unless they refuse, battle will be offered them." And she, who had neither seen nor looked at him before, said: "Sire. you come from God in this time of my great need! The men who falsely accuse me are all ready before me here; if you had been a little later I should soon have been reduced to fuel and ashes. You have come here in my defence, and may God give you the power to accomplish it in proportion as I am guiltless of the accusation which is made against me!" The seneschal and his two brothers heard these words. "Ah!" they exclaim, "woman, chary of uttering truth but generous with lies! He indeed is mad who for thy words assumes so great a task. The knight must be simple-minded who has come here to die for thee, for he is alone and there are three of us. My advice to him is that he turn back before any harm shall come to him." Then he replies, as one impatient to begin: "Whoever is afraid, let him run away! I am not so afraid of your three shields that I should go off defeated without a blow. I should be indeed discourteous, if, while yet unscathed and in perfect case, I should leave the place and field to you. Never, so long as I am alive and sound, will I run away before such threats. But I advise thee to set free the damsel whom thou hast unjustly accused; for she tells me, and I believe her word, and she has assured me upon the salvation of her soul, that she never committed, or spoke, or conceived any treason against her mistress. I believe implicitly what she has told me, and will defend her as best I can, for I consider the righteousness of her cause to be in my favour. For, if the truth be known, God always sides with the righteous cause, for God and the Right are one; and if they are both upon my side, then I have better company and better aid than thou." (23) Then the other responds imprudently that he may make every effort that pleases him and is convenient to do him injury, provided that his lion shall not do him harm. And he replies that he never brought the lion to champion his cause, nor does he wish any but himself to take a hand: but if the lion attacks him, let him defend himself against him as best he can, for concerning him he will give no guarantee. Then the other answers: "Whatever thou mayst say; unless thou now warn thy lion, and make him stand quietly to one side, there is no use of thy longer staying here, but begone at once, and so shalt thou be wise; for throughout this country every one is aware how this girl betrayed her lady, and it is right that she receive her due reward in fire and flame." "May the Holy Spirit forbid!" says he who knows the truth; "may God not let me stir from here until I have delivered her!" Then he tells the lion to withdraw and to lie down quietly, and he does so obediently.
(Vv. 4475-4532.) The lion now withdrew, and the parley and quarrel being ended between them two, they all took their distance for the charge. The three together spurred toward him, and he went to meet them at a walk. He did not wish to be overturned or hurt at this first encounter. So he let them split their lances, while keeping his entire, making for them a target of his shield, whereon each one broke his lance. Then he galloped off until he was separated from them by the space of an acre; but he soon returned to the business in hand, having no desire to delay. On his coming up the second time, he reached the seneschal before his two brothers, and breaking his lance upon his body, he carried him to earth in spite of himself, and he gave him such a powerful blow that for a long while he lay stunned, incapable of doing him any harm. And then the other two came at him with their swords bared, and both deal him great blows, but they receive still heavier blows from him. For a single one of the blows he deals is more than a match for two of theirs; thus he defends himself so well that they have no advantage over him, until the seneschal gets up and does his best to injure him, in which attempt the others join, until they begin to press him and get the upper hand. Then the lion, who is looking on, delays no longer to lend him aid; for it seems to him that he needs it now. And all the ladies, who are devoted to the damsel, beseech God repeatedly and pray to Him earnestly not to allow the death or the defeat of him who has entered the fray on her account. The ladies, having no other weapons, thus assist him with their prayers. And the lion brings him such effective aid, that at his first attack, he strikes so fiercely the seneschal, who was now on his feet, that he makes the meshes fly from the hauberk like straw, and he drags him down with such violence that he tears the soft flesh from his shoulder and all down his side. He strips whatever he touches, so that the entrails lie exposed. The other two avenge this blow.
(Vv. 4533-4634.) Now they are all even on the field. The seneschal is marked for death, as he turns and welters in the red stream of warm blood pouring from his body. The lion attacks the others; for my lord Yvain is quite unable, though he did his best by beating or by threatening him, to drive him back; but the lion doubtless feels confident that his master does not dislike his aid, but rather loves him the more for it: so he fiercely attacks them, until they have reason to complain of his blows, and they wound him in turn and use him badly. When my lord Yvain sees his lion wounded, his heart is wroth within his breast, and rightly so; but he makes such efforts to avenge him, and presses them so hard, that he completely reduces them; they no longer resist him, but surrender to him at discretion, because of the lion's help, who is now in great distress; for he was wounded everywhere, and had good cause to be in pain. For his part, my lord Yvain was by no means in a healthy state, for his body bore many a wound. But he is not so anxious about himself as about his lion, which is in distress. Now he has delivered the damsel exactly in accordance with his wish, and the lady has very willingly dismissed the grudge that she bore her. And those men were burned upon the pyre which had been kindled for the damsel's death; for it is right and just that he who has misjudged another, should suffer the same manner of death as that to which he had condemned the other. Now Lunete is joyous and glad at being reconciled with her mistress, and together they were more happy than any one ever was before. Without recognising him, all present offered to him, who was their lord, their service so long as life should last; even the lady, who possessed unknowingly his heart, begged him insistently to tarry there until his lion and he had quite recovered. And he replied: "Lady, I shall not now tarry here until my lady removes from me her displeasure and anger: then the end of all my labours will come." "Indeed," she said, "that grieves me. I think the lady cannot be very courteous who cherishes ill-will against you. She ought not to close her door against so valorous a knight as you, unless he had done her some great wrong." "Lady,' he replies, "however great the hardship be, I am pleased by what ever may be her will. But speak to me no more of that; for I shall say nothing of the cause or crime, except to those who are informed of it." "Does any one know it, then, beside you two?" "Yes, truly, lady." "Well, tell us at least your name, fair sir; then you will be free to go." "Quite free, my lady? No, I shall not be free. I owe more than I can pay. Yet, I ought not to conceal from you my name. You will never hear of `The Knight with the Lion' without hearing of me; for I wish to be known by that name." "For God's sake, sir, what does that name mean? For we never saw you before, nor have we ever heard mentioned this name of yours." "My lady, you may from that infer that my fame is not widespread." Then the lady says: "Once more, if it did not oppose your will, I would pray you to tarry here." "Really, my lady, I should not dare, until I knew certainly that I had regained my lady's good-will." "Well, then, go in God's name, fair sir; and, if it be His will, may He convert your grief and sorrow into joy." "Lady," says he, "may God hear your prayer." Then he added softly under his breath: "Lady, it is you who hold the key, and, though you know it not, you hold the casket in which my happiness is kept under lock."
Continue to Part III
NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by "(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.
(16) It is hoped that the following passage may have retained in the translation some of the gay animation which clothes this description of a royal entry into a mediaeval town.
(17) This idea forms the dominating motive, it will be recalled, in "Erec et Enide" (cf. note to "Erec", v. 2576).
(18) The parallel between Yvain's and Roland's madness will occur to readers of Ariosto's "Orlando Furioso", though in the former case Yvain's madness seems to be rather a retribution for his failure to keep his promise, while Roland's madness arises from excess of love.
(19) Argonne is the name of a hilly and well-wooded district in the north-east of France, lying between the Meuse and the Aisne.
(20) An allusion to the well-known epic tradition embodied in the "Chanson de Roland". It was common for mediaeval poets to give names to both the horses and the swords of their heroes.
(21) For the faithful lion in the Latin bestiaries and mediaeval romances, see the long note of W.L. Holland, "Chretien von Troies" (Tubingen, 1854), p. 161 f., and G. Baist in Zeitschrift fur romanische Philologie, xxi. 402-405. To the examples there cited may be added the episodes in "Octavian" (15th century), published in the "Romanische Bibliothek" (Heilbronn, 1883).
(22) This is the first of three references in this poem to the abduction of Guinevere as fully narrated in the poem of "Lancelot". The other references are in v. 3918 and v.4740 f.
(23) Yvain here states the theory of the judicial trial by combat. For another instance see "Lancelot", v. 4963 f. Cf. M. Pfeffer in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philogie", ix. 1- 74, and L. Jordan, id. Xxix. 385-401.