The Knight with the Lion
Part III: Vv. 4635 - Vv. 6818
Online Medieval and Classical Library Release #23
(Vv. 4635-4674.) Then he goes away in great distress, and there is no one who recognises him save Lunete, who accompanied him a long distance. Lunete alone keeps him company, and he begs her insistently never to reveal the name of her champion. "Sire," says she, "I will never do so." Then he further requested her that she should not forget him, and that she should keep a place for him in his mistress' heart, whenever the chance arose. She tells him to be at ease on that score; for she will never be forgetful, nor unfaithful, nor idle. Then he thanks her a thousand times, and he departs pensive and oppressed, because of his lion that he must needs carry, being unable to follow him on foot. He makes for him a litter of moss and ferns in his shield. When he has made a bed for him there, he lays him in it as gently as he can, and carries him thus stretched out full length on the inner side of his shield. Thus, in his shield he bears him off, until he arrives before the gate of a mansion, strong and fair. Finding it closed, he called, and the porter opened it so promptly that he had no need to call but once. He reaches out to take his rein, and greets him thus: "Come in, fair sire. I offer you the dwelling of my lord, if it please you to dismount." "I accept the offer gladly," he replies, "for I stand in great need of it, and it is time to find a lodging."
(Vv. 4675-4702.) Thereupon, he passed through the gate, and saw the retainers in a mass coming to meet him. They greeted him and helped him from his horse, and laid down upon the pavement his shield with the lion on it. And some, taking his horse, put it in a stable: while others very properly relieved him of his arms and took them. Then the lord of the castle heard the news, and at once came down into the courtyard, and greeted him. And his lady came down, too, with all her sons and daughters and a great crowd of other people, who all rejoiced to offer him a lodging. They gave him a quiet room, because they deemed that he was sick; but their good nature was put to a test when they allowed the lion to go with him. His cure was undertaken by two maidens skilled in surgery, who were daughters of the lord. I do not know how many days he stayed there, until he and his lion, being cured, were compelled to proceed upon their way.
(Vv. 4703-4736.) But within this time it came about that my lord of Noire Espine had a struggle with Death, and so fierce was Death's attack that he was forced to die. After his death it happened that the elder of two daughters whom he had, announced that she would possess uncontested all the estates for herself during her entire lifetime, and that she would give no share to her sister. And the other one said that she would go to King Arthur's court to seek help for the defence of her claim to the land. When the former saw that her sister would by no means concede all the estates to her without contest, she was greatly concerned, and thought that, if possible, she would get to court before her. At once she prepared and equipped herself, and without any tarrying or delay, she proceeded to the court. The other followed her, and made all the haste she could; but her journey was all in vain, for her eider sister had already presented her case to my lord Gawain, and he had promised to execute her will. But there was an agreement between them that if any one should learn of the facts from her, he would never again take arms for her, and to this arrangement she gave consent.
(Vv. 4737-4758.) Just then the other sister arrived at court, clad in a short mantle of scarlet cloth and fresh ermine. It happened to be the third day after the Queen had returned from the captivity in which Maleagant had detained her with all the other prisoners; but Lancelot had remained behind, treacherously confined within a tower. And on that very day, when the damsel came to court, news was received of the cruel and wicked giant whom the knight with the lion had killed in battle. In his name, my lord Gawain was greeted by his nephews and niece, who told him in detail of all the great service and great deeds of prowess he had done for them for his sake, and how that he was well acquainted with him, though not aware of his identity.
(Vv. 4759-4820.) All this was heard by her, who was plunged thereby into great despair and sorrow and dejection; for, since the best of the knights was absent, she thought she would find no aid or counsel at the court. She had already made several loving and insistent appeals to my lord Gawain; but he had said to her: "My dear, it is useless to appeal to me; I cannot do it; I have another affair on hand, which I shall in no wise give up." Then the damsel at once left him, and presented herself before the King. "O King," said she, "I have come to thee and to thy court for aid. But I find none, and I am very much mazed that I can get no counsel here. Yet it would not be right for me to go away without taking leave. My sister may know, however, that she might obtain by kindness whatever she desired of my property; but I will never surrender my heritage to her by force, if I can help it, and if I can find any aid or counsel." "You have spoken wisely," said the King; "since she is present here, I advise, recommend, and urge her to surrender to you what is your right." Then the other, who was confident of the best knight in the world, replied: "Sire, may God confound me, if ever I bestow on her from my estates any castle, town, clearing, forest, land, or anything else. But if any knight dares to take arms on her behalf and desires to defend her cause, let him step forth at once." "Your offer to her is not fair; she needs more time," the King replied; "if she desires, she may have forty days to secure a champion, according to the practice of all courts." To which the elder sister replied: "Fair King, my lord, you may establish your laws as it pleases you, and as seems good, nor is it my place to gainsay you, so I must consent to the postponement, if she desires it." Whereupon, the other says that she does desire it, and she makes formal request for it. Then she commended the King to God, and left the court resolving to devote her life to the search through all the land for the Knight with the Lion, who devotes himself to succouring women in need of aid.
(Vv. 4821-4928.) Thus she entered upon her quest, and traversed many a country without hearing any news of him, which caused her such grief that she fell sick. But it was well for her that it happened so; for she came to the dwelling of a friend of hers, by whom she was dearly loved. By this time her face showed clearly that she was not in good health. They insisted upon detaining her until she told them of her plight; whereupon, another damsel took up the quest wherein she had been engaged, and continued the search on her behalf. So while the one remained in this retreat, the other rode rapidly all day long, until the darkness of night came on, and caused her great anxiety. (24) And her trouble was doubled when the rain came on with terrible violence, as if God Himself were doing His worst, while she was in the depths of the forest. The night and the woods cause her great distress, but she is more tormented by the rain than by either the woods or the night. And the road was so bad that her horse was often up to the girth in mud; any damsel might well be terrified to be in the woods, without escort, in such bad weather and in such darkness that she could not see the horse she was riding. So she called on God first, and His mother next, and then on all the saints in turn, and offered up many a prayer that God would lead her out from this forest and conduct her to some lodging-place. She continued in prayer until she heard a horn, at which she greatly rejoiced; for she thought now she would find shelter, if she could only reach the place. So she turned in the direction of the sound, and came upon a paved road which led straight toward the horn whose sound she heard; for the horn had given three long, loud blasts. And she made her way straight toward the sound, until she came to a cross which stood on the right side of the road, and there she thought that she might find the horn and the person who had sounded it. So she spurred her horse in that direction, until she drew near a bridge, and descried the white walls and the barbican of a circular castle. Thus, by chance she came upon the castle, setting her course by the sound which had led her thither. She had been attracted by the sound of the horn blown by a watchman upon the walls. As soon as the watchman caught sight of her, he called to her, then came down, and taking the key of the gate, opened it for her and said: "Welcome, damsel, whoe'er you be. You shall be well lodged this night." "I have no other desire than that," the damsel replied, as he let her in. After the toil and anxiety she had endured that day, she was fortunate to find such a lodging-place; for she was very comfortable there. After the meal the host addressed her, and inquired where she was going and what was her quest. Whereupon, she thus replied: "I am seeking one whom I never saw, so far as I am aware, and never knew; but he has a lion with him, and I am told that, if I find him, I can place great confidence in him." "I can testify to that," the other said: "for the day before yesterday God sent him here to me in my dire need. Blessed be the paths which led him to my dwelling. For he made me glad by avenging me of a mortal enemy and killing him before my eyes. Outside yonder gate you may see to-morrow the body of a mighty giant, whom he slew with such ease that he hardly had to sweat." "For God's sake, sire," the damsel said, "tell me now the truth, if you know whither he went, and where he is." "I don't know," he said, "as God sees me here; but to-morrow I will start you on the road by which he went away from here." "And may God," said she, "lead me where I may hear true news of him. For if I find him, I shall be very glad."
(Vv. 4929-4964.) Thus they continued in long converse until at last they went to bed. When the day dawned, the maid arose, being in great concern to find the object of her quest. And the master of the house arose with all his companions, and set her upon the road which led straight to the spring beneath the pine. And she, hastening on her way toward the town, came and asked the first men whom she met, if they could tell her where she would find the lion and the knight who travelled in company. And they told her that they had seen him defeat three knights in that very place. Whereupon, she said at once: "For God's sake, since you have said so much, do not keep back from me anything that you can add." "No," they replied; "we know nothing more than we have said, nor do we know what became of him. If she for whose sake he came here, cannot give you further news, there will be no one here to enlighten you. You will not have far to go, if you wish to speak with her; for she has gone to make prayer to God and to hear Mass in yonder church, and judging by the time she has been inside, her orisons have been prolonged."
(Vv. 4965-5106.) While they were talking thus, Lunete came out from the church, and they said: "There she is." Then she went to meet her, and they greeted each other. She asked Lunete at once for the information she desired; and Lunete said that she would have a palfrey saddled; for she wished to accompany her, and would take her to an enclosure where she had left him. The other maiden thanked her heartily. Lunete mounts the palfrey which is brought without delay, and, as they ride, she tells her how she had been accused and charged with treason, and how the pyre was already kindled upon which she was to be laid, and how he had come to help her in just the moment of her need. While speaking thus, she escorted her to the road which led directly to the spot where my lord Yvain had parted from her. When she had accompanied her thus far, she said: "Follow this road until you come to a place where, if it please God and the Holy Spirit, you will hear more reliable news of him than I can tell. I very well remember that I left him either near here, or exactly here, where we are now; we have not seen each other since then, and I do not know what he has done. When he left me, he was in sore need of a plaster for his wounds. So I will send you along after him, and if it be God's will, may He grant that you find him to-night or to-morrow in good health. Now go: I commend you to God. I must not follow you any farther, lest my mistress be displeased with me." Then Lunete leaves her and turns back; while the other pushed on until she found a house, where my lord Yvain had tarried until he was restored to health. She saw people gathered before the gate, knights, ladies and men-at-arms, and the master of the house; she saluted them, and asked them to tell her, if possible, news of a knight for whom she sought. "Who is he?" they ask. "I have heard it said that he is never without a lion." "Upon my word, damsel," the master says, "he has just now left us. You can come up with him to-night, if you are able to keep his tracks in sight, and are careful not to lose any time." "Sire," she answers, "God forbid. But tell me now in what direction I must follow him." And they tell her: "This way, straight ahead," and they beg her to greet him on their behalf. But their courtesy was not of much avail; for, without giving any heed, she galloped off at once. The pace seemed much too slow to her, though her palfrey made good time. So she galloped through the mud just the same as where the road was good and smooth, until she caught sight of him with the lion as his companion. Then in her gladness she exclaims: "God, help me now. At last I see him whom I have so long pursued, and whose trace I have long followed. But if I pursue and nothing gain, what will it profit me to come up with him? Little or nothing, upon my word. If he does not join in my enterprise, I have wasted all my pains." Thus saying, she pressed on so fast that her palfrey was all in a sweat; but she caught up with him and saluted him. He thus at once replied to her: "God save you, fair one, and deliver you from grief and woe." "The same to you, sire, who, I hope, will soon be able to deliver me." Then she draws nearer to him, and says: "Sire, I have long searched for you. The great fame of your merit has made me traverse many a county in my weary search for you. But I continued my quest so long, thank God, that at last I have found you here. And if I brought any anxiety with me, I am no longer concerned about it, nor do I complain or remember it now. I am entirely relieved; my worry has taken flight the moment I met with you. Moreover, the affair is none of mine: I come to you from one that is better than I, a woman who is more noble and excellent. But if she be disappointed in her hopes of you, then she has been betrayed by your fair renown, for she has no expectation of other aid. My damsel, who is deprived of her inheritance by a sister, expects with your help to win her suit; she will have none but you defend her cause. No one can make her believe that any one else could bear her aid. By securing her share of the heritage, you will have won and acquired the love of her who is now disinherited, and you will also increase your own renown. She herself was going in search for you to secure the boon for which she hoped; no one else would have taken her place, had she not been detained by an illness which compels her to keep her bed. Now tell me, please, whether you will dare to come, or whether you will decline." "No," he says; "no man can win praise in a life of ease; and I will not hold back, but will follow you gladly, my sweet friend, whithersoever it may please you. And if she for whose sake you have sought me out stands in some great need of me, have no fear that I shall not do all I can for her. Now may God grant me the happiness and grace to settle in her favour her rightful claim."
(Vv. 5107-5184.) (25) Thus conversing, they two rode away until they approached the town of Pesme Avanture. They had no desire to pass it by, for the day was already drawing to a close. They came riding to the castle, when all the people, seeing them approach, called out to the knight: "Ill come, sire, ill come. This lodging-place was pointed out to you in order that you might suffer harm and shame. An abbot might take his oath to that." "Ah," he replied, "foolish and vulgar folk, full of all mischief, and devoid of honour, why have you thus assailed me?" "Why? you will find out soon enough, if you will go a little farther. But you shall learn nothing more until you have ascended to the fortress." At once my lord Yvain turns toward the tower, and the crowd cries out, all shouting aloud at him: "Eh, eh, wretch, whither goest thou? If ever in thy life thou hast encountered one who worked thee shame and woe, such will be done thee there, whither thou art going, as will never be told again by thee." My lord Yvain, who is listening, says: "Base and pitiless people, miserable and impudent, why do you assail me thus, why do you attack me so? What do you wish of me, what do you want, that you growl this way after me?" A lady, who was somewhat advanced in years, who was courteous and sensible, said: "Thou hast no cause to be enraged: they mean no harm in what they say; but, if thou understoodest them aright, they are warning thee not to spend the night up there; they dare not tell thee the reason for this, but they are warning and blaming thee because they wish to arouse thy fears. This they are accustomed to do in the case of all who come, so that they may not go inside. And the custom is such that we dare not receive in our own houses, for any reason whatsoever, any gentleman who comes here from a distance. The responsibility now is thine alone; no one will stand in thy way. If thou wishest, thou mayst go up now; but my advice is to turn back again." "Lady," he says, "doubtless it would be to my honour and advantage to follow your advice; but I do not know where I should find a lodging-place to-night." "Upon my word," says she, "I'll say no more, for the concern is none of mine. Go wherever you please. Nevertheless, I should be very glad to see you return from inside without too great shame; but that could hardly be." "Lady," he says, "may God reward you for the wish. However, my wayward heart leads me on inside, and I shall do what my heart desires." Thereupon, he approaches the gate, accompanied by his lion and his damsel. Then the porter calls to him, and says: "Come quickly, come. You are on your way to a place where you will be securely detained, and may your visit be accursed."
(Vv. 5185-5346.) The porter, after addressing him with this very ungracious welcome, hurried upstairs. But my lord Yvain, without making reply, passed straight on, and found a new and lofty hall; in front of it there was a yard enclosed with large, round, pointed stakes, and seated inside the stakes he saw as many as three hundred maidens, working at different kinds of embroidery. Each one was sewing with golden thread and silk, as best she could. But such was their poverty, that many of them wore no girdle, and looked slovenly, because so poor; and their garments were torn about their breasts and at the elbows, and their shifts were soiled about their necks. Their necks were thin, and their faces pale with hunger and privation. They see him, as he looks at them, and they weep, and are unable for some time to do anything or to raise their eyes from the ground, so bowed down they are with woe. When he had contemplated them for a while, my lord Yvain turned about and moved toward the door; but the porter barred the way, and cried: "It is no use, fair master; you shall not get out now. You would like to be outside: but, by my head, it is of no use. Before you escape you will have suffered such great shame that you could not easily suffer more; so you were not wise to enter here, for there is no question of escaping now." "Nor do I wish to do so, fair brother," said he; "but tell me, by thy father's soul, whence came the damsels whom I saw in the yard, weaving cloths of silk and gold. I enjoy seeing the work they do, but I am much distressed to see their bodies so thin, and their faces so pale and sad. I imagine they would be fair and charming, if they had what they desire." "I will tell you nothing," was the reply; "seek some one else to tell you." "That will I do, since there is no better way." Then he searches until he finds the entrance of the yard where the damsels were at work: and coming before them, he greets them all, and sees tears flowing from their eyes, as they weep. Then he says to them: "May it please God to remove from your hearts, and turn to joy, this grief, the cause of which I do not know." One of them answers: "May you be heard by God, to whom you have addressed your prayer. It shall not be concealed from you who we are, and from what land: I suppose that is what you wish to know." "For no other purpose came I here," says he. (26) "Sire, it happened a long while ago that the king of the Isle of Damsels went seeking news through divers courts and countries, and he kept on his travels like a dunce until he encountered this perilous place. It was an unlucky hour when he first came here, for we wretched captives who are here receive all the shame and misery which we have in no wise deserved. And rest assured that you yourself may expect great shame, unless a ransom for you be accepted. But, at any rate, so it came about that my lord came to this town, where there are two sons of the devil (do not take it as a jest) who were born of a woman and an imp. These two were about to fight with the king, whose terror was great, for he was not yet eighteen years old, and they would have been able to cleave him through like a tender lamb. So the king, in his terror, escaped his fate as best he could, by swearing that he would send hither each year, as required, thirty of his damsels, and with this rent he freed himself. And when he swore, it was agreed that this arrangement should remain in force as long as the two devils lived. But upon the day when they should be conquered and defeated in battle, he would be relieved from this tribute, and we should be delivered who are now shamefully given over to distress and misery. Never again shall we know what pleasure is. But I spoke folly just now in referring to our deliverance, for we shall never more leave this place. We shall spend our days weaving cloths of silk, without ever being better clad. We shall always be poor and naked, and shall always suffer from hunger and thirst, for we shall never be able to earn enough to procure for ourselves any better food. Our bread supply is very scarce -- a little in the morning and less at night, for none of us can gain by her handiwork more than fourpence a day for her daily bread. And with this we cannot provide ourselves with sufficient food and clothes. For though there is not one of us who does not earn as much as twenty sous (27) a week, yet we cannot live without hardship. Now you must know that there is not a single one of us who does not do twenty sous worth of work or more, and with such a sum even a duke would be considered rich. So while we are reduced to such poverty, he, for whom we work, is rich with the product of our toil. We sit up many nights, as well as every day, to earn the more, for they threaten to do us injury, when we seek some rest, so we do not dare to rest ourselves. But why should I tell you more? We are so shamefully treated and insulted that I cannot tell you the fifth part of it all. But what makes us almost wild with rage is that we very often see rich and excellent knights, who fight with the two devils, lose their lives on our account. They pay dearly for the lodging they receive, as you will do to-morrow. For, whether you wish to do so or not, you will have to fight singlehanded and lose your fair renown with these two devils." "May God, the true and spiritual, protect me," said my lord Yvain, "and give you back your honour and happiness, if it be His will. I must go now and see the people inside there, and find out what sort of entertainment they will offer me." "Go now, sire, and may He protect you who gives and distributes all good things."
(Vv. 5347-5456.) Then he went until he came to the hall where he found no one, good or bad, to address him. Then he and his companion passed through the house until they came to a garden. They never spoke of, or mentioned, stabling their horses. But what matters it? For those who considered them already as their own had stabled them carefully. I do not know whether their expectation was wise, for the horses' owners are still perfectly hale. The horses, however, have oats and hay, and stand in litter up to their belly. My lord Yvain and his company enter the garden. There he sees, reclining upon his elbow upon a silken rug, a gentleman, to whom a maiden was reading from a romance about I know not whom. There had come to recline there with them and listen to the romance a lady, who was the mother of the damsel, as the gentleman was her father; they had good reason to enjoy seeing and hearing her, for they had no other children. She was not yet sixteen years old, and was so fair and full of grace that the god of Love would have devoted himself entirely to her service, if he had seen her, and would never have made her fall in love with anybody except himself. For her sake he would have become a man, and would lay aside his deity, and would smite his own body with that dart whose wound never heals unless some base physician attends to it. It is not fitting that any one should recover until he meets with faithlessness. Any one who is cured by other means is not honestly in love. I could tell you so much about this wound, if you were pleased to listen to it, that I would not get through my tale to-day. But there would be some one who would promptly say that I was telling you but an idle tale; for people don't fall in love nowadays, nor do they love as they used to do, so they do not care to hear of it. (28) But hear now in what fashion and with what manner of hospitality my lord Yvain was received. All those who were in the garden leaped to their feet when they saw him come, and cried out: "This way, fair sire. May you and all you love be blessed with all that God can do or say." I know not if they were deceiving him, but they receive him joyfully and act as if they are pleased that he should be comfortably lodged. Even the lord's daughter serves him very honourably, as one should treat a worthy guest. She relieves him of all his arms, nor was it the least attention she bestowed on him when she herself washed his neck and face. The lord wishes that all honour should be shown him, as indeed they do. She gets out from her wardrobe a folded shirt, white drawers, needle and thread for his sleeves, which she sews on, thus clothing him. (29) May God want now that this attention and service may not prove too costly to him! She gave him a handsome jacket to put on over his shirt, and about his neck she placed a brand new spotted mantle of scarlet stuff. She takes such pains to serve him well that he feels ashamed and embarrassed. But the damsel is so courteous and open-hearted and polite that she feels she is doing very little. And she knows well that it is her mother's will that she shall leave nothing undone for him which she thinks may win his gratitude. That night at table he was so well served with so many dishes that there were too many. The servants who brought in the dishes might well have been wearied by serving them. That night they did him all manner of honour, putting him comfortably to bed, and not once going near him again after he had retired. His lion lay at his feet, as his custom was. In the morning, when God lighted His great light for the world, as early as was consistent in one who was always considerate, my lord Yvain quickly arose, as did his damsel too. They heard Mass in a chapel, where it was promptly said for them in honour of the Holy Spirit.
(Vv. 5457-5770.) After the Mass my lord Yvain heard bad news, when he thought the time had come for him to leave and that nothing would stand in his way; but it could not be in accordance with his wish. When he said: "Sire, if it be your will, and with your permission, I am going now," the master of the house replied: "Friend, I will not grant you permission yet. There is a reason why I cannot do so, for there is established in this castle a very terrible practice which I am bound to observe. I shall now cause to approach two great, strong fellows of mine, against whom, whether right or wrong, you must take arms. If you can defend yourself against them, and conquer and slay them both, my daughter desires you as her lord, and the suzerainty of this town and all its dependencies awaits you." "Sire," said he, "for all this I have no desire. So may God never bestow your daughter upon me, but may she remain with you; for she is so fair and so elegant that the Emperor of Germany would be fortunate to win her as his wife." "No more, fair guest," the lord replied: "there is no need of my listening to your refusal, for you cannot escape. He who can defeat the two, who are about to attack you, must by right receive my castle, and all my land, and my daughter as his wife. There is no way of avoiding or renouncing the battle. But I feel sure that your refusal of my daughter is due to cowardice, for you think that in this manner you can completely avoid the battle. Know, however, without fail that you must surely fight. No knight who lodges here can possibly escape. This is a settled custom and statute, which will endure yet for many a year, for my daughter will never be married until I see them dead or defeated." "Then I must fight them in spite of myself. But I assure you that I should very gladly give it up. In spite of my reluctance, however, I shall accept the battle, since it is inevitable." Thereupon, the two hideous, black sons of the devil come in, both armed with a crooked club of a cornelian cherry- tree, which they had covered with copper and wound with brass. They were armed from the shoulders to the knees, but their head and face were bare, as well as their brawny legs. Thus armed, they advanced, bearing in their hands round shields, stout and light for fighting. The lion begins to quiver as soon as he sees them, for he sees the arms they have, and perceives that they come to fight his master. He is aroused, and bristles up at once, and, trembling with rage and bold impulse, he thrashes the earth with his tail, desiring to rescue his master before they kill him. And when they see him they say: "Vassal, remove the lion from here that he may not do us harm. Either surrender to us at once, or else, we adjure you, that lion must be put where he can take no part in aiding you or in harming us. You must come alone to enjoy our sport, for the lion would gladly help you, if he could." My lord Yvain then replies to them: "Take him away yourselves if you are afraid of him. For I shall be well pleased and satisfied if he can contrive to injure you, and I shall be grateful for his aid." They answer: "Upon my word that will not do; you shall never receive any help from him. Do the best you can alone, without the help of any one. You must fight single-handed against us two. If you were not alone, it would be two against two; so you must follow our orders, and remove your lion from here at once, however much you may dislike to do so." "Where do you wish him to be?" he asks, "or where do you wish me to put him?" Then they show him a small room, and say: "Shut him up in there." "It shall be done, since it is your will." Then he takes him and shuts him up. And now they bring him arms for his body, and lead out his horse, which they give to him, and he mounts. The two champions, being now assured about the lion, which is shut up in the room, come at him to injure him and do him harm. They give him such blows with the maces that his shield and helmet are of little use, for when they hit him on the helmet they batter it in and break it; and the shield is broken and dissolved like ice, for they make such holes in it that one could thrust his fists through it: their onslaught is truly terrible. And he -- what does he do against these two devils? Urged on by shame and fear, he defends himself with all his strength. He strains every nerve, and exerts himself to deal heavy, and telling blows; they lost nothing by his gifts, for he returned their attentions with double measure. In his room, the lion's heart is heavy and sad, for he remembers the kind deed done for him by this noble man, who now must stand in great need of his service and aid. If now he could escape from there, he would return him the kindness with full measure and full bushel, without any discount whatsoever. He looks about in all directions, but sees no way of escape. He hears the blows of the dangerous and desperate fight, and in his grief he rages and is beside himself. He investigates, until he comes to the threshold, which was beginning to grow rotten; and he scratches at it until he can squeeze himself in as far as his haunches, when he sticks fast. Meanwhile, my lord Yvain was hard pressed and sweating freely, for he found that the two fellows were very strong, fierce, and persistent. He had received many a blow, and repaid it as best he could, but without doing them any harm, for they were well skilled in fencing, and their shields were not of a kind to be hacked by any sword, however sharp and well tempered it might be. So my lord Yvain had good reason to fear his death, yet he managed to hold his own until the lion extricated himself by continued scratching beneath the threshold. If the rascals are not killed now, surely they will never be. For so long as the lion knows them to be alive, they can never obtain truce or peace with him. He seizes one of them, and pulls him down to earth like a tree-trunk. The wretches are terrified, and there is not a man present who does not rejoice. For he whom the lion has dragged down will never be able to rise again, unless the other succours him. He runs up to bring him aid, and at the same time to protect himself, lest the lion should attack him as soon as he had despatched the one whom he had thrown down; he was more afraid of the lion than of his master. But my lord Yvain will be foolish now if he allows him longer life, when he sees him turn his back, and sees his neck bare and exposed; this chance turned out well for him. When the rascal exposed to him his bare head and neck, he dealt him such a blow that he smote his head from his shoulders so quietly that the fellow never knew a word about it. Then he dismounts, wishing to help and save the other one from the lion, who holds him fast. But it is of no use, for already he is in such straits that a physician can never arrive in time; for the lion, coming at him furiously, so wounded him at the first attack, that he was in a dreadful state. Nevertheless, he drags the lion back, and sees that he had torn his shoulder from its place. He is in no fear of the fellow now, for his club has fallen from his hand, and he lies like a dead man without action or movement; still he has enough strength to speak, and he said as clearly as he could: "Please take your lion away, fair sire, that he may not do me further harm. Henceforth you may do with me whatever may be your desire. Whoever begs and prays for mercy, ought not to have his prayer refused, unless he addresses a heartless man. I will no longer defend myself, nor will I ever get up from here with my own strength; so I put myself in your hands." "Speak out then," he says, "if thou dost admit that thou art conquered and defeated." "Sire," he says, "it is evident. I am defeated in spite of myself, and I surrender, I promise you." "Then thou needest have no further fear of me, and my lion will leave thee alone." Then he is surrounded by all the crowd, who arrive on the scene in haste. And both the lord and his lady rejoice over him, and embrace him, and speak to him of their daughter, saying: "Now you will be the lord and master of us all, and our daughter will be your wife, for we bestow her upon you as your spouse." "And for my part," he says. "I restore her to you. Let him who has her keep her. I have no concern with her, though I say it not in disparagement. Take it not amiss if I do not accept her, for I cannot and must not do so. But deliver to me now, if you will, the wretched maidens in your possession. The agreement, as you well know, is that they shall all go free." "What you say is true," he says: "and I resign and deliver them freely to you: there will be no dispute on that score. But you will be wise to take my daughter with all my wealth, for she is fair, and charming, and sensible. You will never find again such a rich marriage as this." "Sire," he replies, "you do not know of my engagements and my affairs, and I do not dare to explain them to you. But, you may be sure, when I refuse what would never be refused by any one who was free to devote his heart and intentions to such a fair and charming girl, that I too would willingly accept her hand if I could, or if I were free to accept her or any other maid. But I assure you that I cannot do it: so let me depart in peace. For the damsel, who escorted me hither, is awaiting me. She has kept me company, and I would not willingly desert her whatever the future may have in store." "You wish to go, fair sire? But how? My gate will never be opened for you unless my judgment bids me give the command; rather shall you remain here as my prisoner. You are acting haughtily and making a mistake when you disdain to take my daughter at my request." "Disdain, my lord? Upon my soul, I do not disdain her. Whatever the penalty may be, I cannot marry a wife or tarry here. I shall follow the damsel who is my guide: for otherwise it cannot be. But, with your consent, I will pledge you my right hand, and you may take my word, that, just as you see me now, I will return if possible, and then will accept your daughter's hand, whenever it may seem good ro you." "Confound any one," he says, "who asks you for your word or promise or pledge. If my daughter pleases you, you will return quickly enough. You will not return any sooner. I think, for having given your word or sworn an oath. Begone now. I release you from all oaths and promises. If you are detained by rain or wind, or by nothing at all, it is of no consequence to me. I do not hold my daughter so cheap as to bestow her upon you forcibly. Now go about your business. For it is quite the same to me whether you go or whether you stay."
(Vv. 5771-5871.) Thereupon my lord Yvain turns away and delays no longer in the castle. He escorted the poor and ill-clad wretches, who were now released from captivity, and whom the lord committed to his care. These maidens feel that now they are rich, as they file out in pairs before him from the castle. I do not believe that they would rejoice so much as they do now were He who created the whole world to descend to earth from Heaven. Now all those people who had insulted him in every possible way come to beseech him for mercy and peace, and escort him on his way. He replies that he knows nothing of what they mean. "I do not understand what you mean," he says; "but I have nothing against you. I do not remember that you ever said anything that harmed me." They are very glad for what they hear, and loudly praise his courtesy, and after escorting him a long distance, they all commend him to God. Then the damsels, after asking his permission, separated from him. When they left him, they all bowed to him, and prayed and expressed the wish that God might grant him joy and health, and the accomplishment of his desire, wherever in the future he should go. Then he, who is anxious to be gone, says that he hopes God will save them all. "Go," he says, "and may God conduct you into your countries safe and happy." Then they continue their way joyfully; and my lord Yvain departs in the other direction. All the days of that week he never ceases to hurry on under the escort of the maid, who was well acquainted with the road, and with the retired place where she had left the unhappy and disconsolate damsel who had been deprived of her inheritance. But when she heard news of the arrival of the maiden and of the Knight with the Lion. There never was such joy as she felt within her heart. For now she thinks that, if she insists, her sister will cede her a part of her inheritance. The damsel had long lain sick, and had just recovered from her malady. It had seriously affected her, as was apparent from her face. Straightway she went forth to meet them, greeting them and honouring them in every way she could. There is no need to speak of the happiness that prevailed that night in the house. No mention will be made of it, for the story would be too long to tell. I pass over all that, until they mounted next morning and went away. They rode until they saw the town where King Arthur had been staying for a fortnight or more. And there, too, was the damsel who had deprived her sister of her heritage, for she had kept close to the court, waiting for the arrival of her sister, who now draws near. But she does not worry much, for she does not think that her sister can find any knight who can withstand my lord Gawain's attack, and only one day of the forty yet remains. If this single day had passed, she would have had the reasonable and legal right to claim the heritage for herself alone. But more stands in the way than she thinks or believes. That night they spent outside the town in a small and humble house, where, in accordance with their desire, they were not recognised. At the first sign of dawn the next morning they necessarily issue forth, but ensconce themselves in hiding until broad daylight.
(Vv. 5872-5924.) I know not how many days had passed since my lord Gawain had so completely disappeared that no one at court knew anything about him, except only the damsel in whose cause he was to fight. He had concealed himself three or four leagues from the court, and when he returned he was so equipped that even those who knew him perfectly could not recognise him by the arms he bore. The damsel, whose injustice toward her sister was evident, presented him at court in the sight of all, for she intended with his help to triumph in the dispute where she had no rights. So she said to the King: "My lord, time passes. The noon hour will soon be gone, and this is the last day. As you see, I am prepared to defend my claim. If my sister were going to return, there would be nothing to do but await her arrival. But I may praise God that she is not coming back again. It is evident that she cannot better her affairs, and that her trouble has been for naught. For my part, I have been ready all the time up to this last day, to prove my claim to what is mine. I have proved my point entirely without a fight, and now I may rightfully go to accept my heritage in peace; for I shall render no accounting for it to my sister as long as I live, and she will lead a wretched and miserable existence." Then the King, who well knew that the damsel was disloyally unjust toward her sister, said to her: "My dear, upon my word, in a royal court one must wait as long as the king's justice sits and deliberates upon the verdict. It is not yet time to pack up, for it is my belief that your sister will yet arrive in time." Before the King had finished, he saw the Knight with the Lion and the damsel with him. They two were advancing alone, having slipped away from the lion, who had stayed where they spent the night.
(Vv. 5925-5990.) The King saw the damsel whom he did not fail to recognise, and he was greatly pleased and delighted to see her, for he was on her side of the quarrel, because he had regard for what was right. Joyfully he cried out to her as soon as he could: "Come forward, fair one: may God save you!" When the other sister hears these words, she turns trembling, and sees her with the knight whom she had brought to defend in her claim: then she turned blacker than the earth. The damsel, after being kindly welcomed by all, went to where the King was sitting. When she had come before him, she spoke to him thus: "God save the King and his household. If my rights in this dispute can be settled by a champion, then it will be done by this knight who has followed me hither. This frank and courteous knight had many other things to do elsewhere; but he felt such pity for me that he cast aside all his other affairs for the sake of mine. Now, madame, my very dear sister, whom I love as much as my own heart, would do the right and courteous thing if she would let me have so much of what is mine by right that there might be peace between me and her; for I ask for nothing that is hers." "Nor do I ask for anything that is thine," the other replied; "for thou hast nothing, and nothing shalt thou have. Thou canst never talk so much as to gain anything by thy words. Thou mayest dry up with grief." Then the other, who was very polite and sensible and courteous, replied with the words: "Certainly I am sorry that two such gentlemen as these should fight on our behalf over so small a disagreement. But I cannot disregard my claim, for I am in too great need of it. So I should be much obliged to you if you would give me what is rightly mine." "Surely," the other said, "any one would be a fool to consider thy demands. May I burn in evil fire and flame if I give thee anything to ease thy life! The banks of the Seine will meet, and the hour of prime will be called noon, before I refuse to carry out the fight." "May God and the right, which I have in this cause, and in which I trust and have trusted till the present time, aid him, who in charity and courtesy has offered himself in my service, though he knows not who I am, and though we are ignorant of each other's identity."
(Vv. 5991-6148.) So they talked until their conversation ceased, and then produced the knights in the middle of the court. Then all the people crowd about, as people are wont to do when they wish to witness blows in battle or in joust. But those who were about to fight did not recognise each other, though their relations were wont to be very affectionate. Then do they not love each other now? I would answer you both "yes" and "no." And I shall prove that each answer is correct. In truth, my lord Gawain loves Yvain and regards him as his companion, and so does Yvain regard him, wherever he may be. Even here, if he knew who he was, he would make much of him, and either one of them would lay down his head for the other before he would allow any harm to come to him. Is not that a perfect and lofty love? Yes, surely. But, on the other hand, is not their hate equally manifest? Yes; for it is a certain thing that doubtless each would be glad to have broken the other's head, and so to have injured him as to cause his humiliation. Upon my word, it is a wondrous thing, that Love and mortal Hate should dwell together. God! How can two things so opposed find lodging in the same dwelling-place? It seems to me they cannot live together; for one could not dwell with the other, without giving rise to noise and contention, as soon as each knew of the other's presence. But upon the ground- floor there may be several apartments: for there are halls and sleeping-rooms. It may be the same in this case: I think Love had ensconced himself in some hidden room, while Hate had betaken herself to the balconies looking on the high-road, because she wishes to be seen. Just now Hate is in the saddle, and spurs and pricks forward as she can, to get ahead of Love who is indisposed to move. Ah! Love, what has become of thee? Come out now, and thou shalt see what a host has been brought up and opposed to thee by the enemies of thy friends. The enemies are these very men who love each other with such a holy love for love, which is neither false nor feigned, is a precious and a holy thing. In this case Love is completely blind, and Hate, too, is deprived of sight. For if Love had recognised these two men, he must have forbidden each to attack the other, or to do any thing to cause him harm. In this respect, then, Love is blind and discomfited and beguiled; for, though he sees them, he fails to recognise those who rightly belong to him. And though Hate is unable to tell why one of them should hate the other, yet she tries to engage them wrongfully, so that each hates the other mortally. You know, of course, that he cannot be said to love a man who would wish to harm him and see him dead. How then? Does Yvain wish to kill his friend, my lord Gawain? Yes, and the desire is mutual. Would, then, my lord Gawain desire to kill Yvain with his own hands, or do even worse than I have said? Nay, not really, I swear and protest. One would not wish to injure or harm the other, in return for all that God has done for man, or for all the empire of Rome. But this, in turn, is a lie of mine, for it is plainly to be seen that, with lance raised high in rest, each is ready to attack the other, and there will be no restraint of the desire of each to wound the other with intent to injure him and work him woe. Now tell me! When one will have defeated the other, of whom can he complain who has the worst of it? For if they go so far as to come to blows, I am very much afraid that they will continue the battle and the strife until victory be definitely decided. If he is defeated, will Yvain be justified in saying that he has been harmed and wronged by a man who counts him among his friends, and who has never mentioned him but by the name of friend or companion? Or, if it comes about perchance that Yvain should hurt him in turn, or defeat him in any way, will Gawain have the right to complain? Nay, for he will not know whose fault it is. In ignorance of each other's identity, they both drew off and took their distance. At this first shock, their lances break, though they were stout, and made of ash. Not a word do they exchange, for if they had stopped to converse their meeting would have been different. In that case, no blow would have been dealt with lance or sword; they would have kissed and embraced each other rather than sought each other's harm. For now they attack each other with injurious intent. The condition of the swords is not improved, nor that of the helmets and shields, which are dented and split; and the edges of the swords are nicked and dulled. For they strike each other violently, not with the fiat of the swords, but with the edge, and they deal such blows with the pommels upon the nose- guards and upon the neck, forehead and cheeks, that they are all marked black and blue where the blood collects beneath the skin. And their hauberks are so torn, and their shields so broken in pieces, that neither one escaped without wounds. Their breath is almost exhausted with the labour of the strife; they hammer away at each other so lustily that every hyacinth and emerald set in their helmets is crushed and smashed. For they give each other such a battering with their pommels upon the helmets that they are quite stunned, as they almost beat out each other's brains. The eyes in their heads gleam like sparks, as, with stout square fists, and strong nerves, and hard bones, they strike each other upon the mouth as long as they can grip their swords, which are of great service to them in dealing their heavy blows.
(Vv. 6149-6228.) When they had for a long time strained themselves, until the helmets were crushed, and the hauberks' meshes were torn apart with the hammering of the swords, and the shields were split and cracked, they drew apart a little to give their pulse a rest and to catch their breath again. However, they do not long delay, but run at each other again more fiercely than before. And all declare that they never saw two more courageous knights. "This fight between them is no jest, but they are in grim earnest. They will never be repaid for their merits and deserts." The two friends, in their bitter struggle, heard these words, and heard how the people were talking of reconciling the two sisters; but they had no success in placating the elder one. And the younger one said she would leave it to the King, and would not gainsay him in anything. But the elder one was so obstinate that even the Queen Guinevere and the knights and the King and the ladies and the townspeople side with the younger sister, and all join in beseeching the King to give her a third or a fourth part of the land in spite of the elder sister, and to separate the two knights who had displayed such bravery, for it would be too bad if one should injure the other or deprive him of any honour. And the King replied that he would take no hand in making peace, for the elder sister is so cruel that she has no desire for it. All these words were heard by the two, who were attacking each other so bitterly that all were astonished thereat; for the battle is waged so evenly that it is impossible to judge which has the better and which the worse. Even the two men themselves, who fight, and who are purchasing honour with agony, are filled with amazement and stand aghast, for they are so well matched in their attack, that each wonders who it can be that withstands him with such bravery. They fight so long that the day draws on to night, while their arms grow weary and their bodies sore, and the hot, boiling blood flows from many a spot and trickles down beneath their hauberks: they are in such distress that it is no wonder if they wish to rest. Then both withdraw to rest themselves, each thinking within himself that, however long he has had to wait, he now at last has met his match. For some time they thus seek repose, without daring to resume the fight. They feel no further desire to fight, because of the night which is growing dark, and because of the respect they feel for each other's might. These two considerations keep them apart, and urge them to keep the peace. But before they leave the field they will discover each other's identity, and joy and mercy will be established between them.
(Vv. 6229-6526.) My brave and courteous lord Yvain was the first to speak. But his good friend was unable to recognise him by his utterance; for he was prevented by his low tone and by his voice which was hoarse, weak, and broken; for his blood was all stirred up by the blows he had received. "My lord," he says, "the night comes on! I think no blame or reproach will attach to us if the night comes between us. But I am willing to admit, for my own part, that I feel great respect and admiration for you, and never in my life have I engaged in a battle which has made me smart so much, nor did I ever expect to see a knight whose acquaintance I should so yearn to make. You know well how to land your blows and how to make good use of them: I have never known a knight who was so skilled in dealing blows. It was against my will that I received all the blows you have bestowed on me to-day; I am stunned by the blows you have I struck upon my head." "Upon my word," my lord Gawain replies, "you are not so stunned and faint but that I am as much so, or more. And if I should tell you the simple truth, I think you would not be loath to hear it, for if I have lent you anything of mine, you have fully paid me back, principal and interest; for you were more ready to pay back than I was to accept the payment. But however that may be, since you wish me to inform you of my name, it shall not be kept from you: my name is Gawain the son of King Lot." As soon as my lord Yvain heard that, he was amazed and sorely troubled; angry and grief- stricken, he cast upon the ground his bloody sword and broken shield, then dismounted from his horse, and cried: "Alas, what mischance is this! Through what unhappy ignorance in not recognising each other have we waged this battle! For if I had known who you were, I should never have fought with you; but, upon my word, I should have surrendered without a blow." "How is that?" my lord Gawain inquires, "who are you, then?" "I am Yvain, who love you more than any man in the whole wide world, for you have always been fond of me and shown me honour in every court. But I wish to make you such amends and do you such honour in this affair that I will confess myself to have been defeated." "Will you do so much for my sake?" my gentle lord Gawain asks him; "surely I should be presumptuous to accept any such amends from you. This honour shall never be claimed as mine, but it shall be yours, to whom I resign it." "Ah, fair sire, do not speak so. For that could never be. I am so wounded and exhausted that I cannot endure more." "Surely, you have no cause to be concerned." his friend and companion replies; "but for my part, I am defeated and overcome; I say it not as a compliment; for there is no stranger in the world, to whom I would not say as much, rather than receive any more blows." Thus saying, he got down from his horse, and they threw their arms about each other's neck, kissing each other, and each continuing to assert that it is he who has met defeat. The argument is still in progress when the King and the knights come running up from every side, at the sight of their reconciliation; and great is their desire to hear how this can be, and who these men are who manifest such happiness. The King says: "Gentlemen, tell us now who it is that has so suddenly brought about this friendship and harmony between you two, after the hatred and strife there has been this day?" Then his nephew, my lord Gawain, thus answers him: "My lord, you shall be informed of the misfortune and mischance which have been the cause of our strife. Since you have tarried in order to hear and learn the cause of it, it is right to let you know the truth. I, Gawain, who am your nephew, did not recognise this companion of mine, my lord Yvain, until he fortunately, by the will of God, asked me my name. After each had informed the other of his name, we recognised each other, but not until we had fought it out. Our struggle already has been long; and if we had fought yet a little longer, it would have fared ill with me, for, by my head, he would have killed me, what with his prowess and the evil cause of her who chose me as her champion. But I would rather be defeated than killed by a friend in battle." Then my lord Yvain's blood was stirred, as he said to him in reply: "Fair dear sire, so help me God, you have no right to say so much. Let my lord, The King, well know in this battle I am surely the one who has been defeated and overcome!" "I am the one" "No, I am." Thus each cries out, and both are so honest and courteous that each allows the victory and crown to be the other's prize, while neither one of them will accept it. Thus each strives to convince the King and all the people that he has been defeated and overthrown. But when he had listened to them for a while, the King terminated the dispute. He was well pleased with what he heard and with the sight of them in each other's arms, though they had wounded and injured each other in several places. "My lords," he says, "there is deep affection between you two. You give clear evidence of that, when each insists that it is he who has been defeated. Now leave it all to me! For I think I can arrange it in such a way that it will redound to your honour, and every one will give consent." Then they both promised him that they would do his will in every particular. And the King says that he will decide the quarrel fairly and faithfully. "Where is the damsel," he inquires, "who has ejected her sister from her land, and has forcibly and cruelly disinherited her?" "My lord," she answers, "here I am." "Are you there? Then draw near to me! I saw plainly some time ago that you were disinheriting her. But her right shall no longer be denied; for you yourself have avowed the truth to me. You must now resign her share to her." "Sire," she says, "if I uttered a foolish and thoughtless word, you ought not to take me up in it. For God's sake, sire, do not be hard on me! You are a king, and you ought to guard against wrong and error." The King replies: "That is precisely why I wish to give your sister her rights; for I have never defended what is wrong. And you have surely heard how your knight and hers have left the matter in my hands. I shall not say what is altogether pleasing to you; for your injustice is well known. In his desire to honour the other, each one says that he has been defeated. But there is no need to delay further: since the matter has been left to me, either you will do in all respects what I say, without resistance, or I shall announce that my nephew has been defeated in the fight. That would be the worst thing that could happen to your cause, and I shall be sorry to make such a declaration." In reality, he would not have said it for anything; but he spoke thus in order to see if he could frighten her into restoring the heritage to her sister; for he clearly saw that she never would surrender anything to her for any words of his unless she was influenced by force or fear. In fear and apprehension, she replied to him: "Fair lord, I must now respect your desire, though my heart is very loath to yield. Yet, however hard it may go with me, I shall do it, and my sister shall have what belongs to her. I give her your own person as a pledge of her share in my inheritance, in order that she may be more assured of it." "Endow her with it, then, at once," the King replies; "let her receive it from your hands, and let her vow fidelity to you! Do you love her as your vassal, and let her love you as her sovereign lady and as her sister." Thus the King conducts the affair until the damsel takes possession of her land, and offers her thanks to him for it. Then the King asked the valiant and brave knight who was his nephew to allow himself to be disarmed; and he requested my lord Yvain to lay aside his arms also; for now they may well dispense with them. Then the two vassals lay aside their arms and separate on equal terms. And while they are taking off their armour, they see the lion running up in search of his master. As soon as he catches sight of him, he begins to show his joy. Then you would have seen people draw aside, and the boldest among them takes to flight. My lord Yvain cries out: "Stand still, all! Why do you flee? No one is chasing you. Have no fear that yonder lion will do you harm. Believe me, please, when I say that he is mine, and I am his, and we are both companions." Then it was known of a truth by all those who had heard tell of the adventures of the lion and of his companion that this must be the very man who had killed the wicked giant. And my lord Gawain said to him: "Sir companion, so help me God, you have overwhelmed me with shame this day. I did not deserve the service that you did me in killing the giant to save my nephews and my niece. I have been thinking about you for some time, and I was troubled because it was said that we were acquainted as loving friends. I have surely thought much upon the subject: but I could not hit upon the truth, and had never heard of any knight that I had known in any land where I had been, who was called `The Knight with the Lion.'" While they chatted thus they took their armour off, and the lion came with no slow step to the place where his master sat, and showed such joy as a dumb beast could. Then the two knights had to be removed to a sick-room and infirmary, for they needed a doctor and piaster to cure their wounds. King Arthur, who loved them well, had them both brought before him, and summoned a surgeon whose knowledge of surgery was supreme. He exercised his art in curing them, until he had healed their wounds as well and as quickly as possible. When he had cured them both, my lord Yvain. who had his heart set fast on love, saw clearly that he could not live, but that he finally would die unless his lady took pity upon him; for he was dying for love of her; so he thought he would go away from the court alone, and would go to fight at the spring that belonged to her, where he would cause such a storm of wind and rain that she would be compelled perforce to make peace with him; otherwise, there would be no end to the disturbance of the spring, and to the rain and wind.
(Vv. 6527-6658.) As soon as my lord Yvain felt that he was cured and sound again, he departed without the knowledge of any one. But he had with him his lion, who never in his life wished to desert him. They travelled until they saw the spring and made the rain descend. Think not that this is a lie of mine, when I tell you that the disturbance was so violent that no one could tell the tenth part of it: for it seemed as if the whole forest must surely be engulfed. The lady fears for her town, lest it, too, will crumble away; the walls totter, and the tower rocks so that it is on the verge of falling down. The bravest Turk would rather be a captive in Persia than be shut up within those walls. The people are so stricken with terror that they curse all their ancestors, saying: "Confounded be the man who first constructed a house in this neighbourhood, and all those who built this town! For in the wide world they could not have found so detestable a spot, for a single man is able here to invade and worry and harry us." "You must take counsel in this matter, my lady," says Lunete; "you will find no one who will undertake to aid you in this time of need unless you seek for him afar. In the future we shall never be secure in this town, nor dare to pass beyond the walls and gate. You know full well that, were some one to summon together all your knights for this cause, the best of them would not dare to step forward. If it is true that you have no one to defend your spring, you will appear ridiculous and humiliated. It will redound greatly to your honour, forsooth, if he who has attacked you shall retire without a fight! Surely you are in a bad predicament if you do not devise some other plan to benefit yourself." The lady replies: "Do thou, who art so wise, tell me what plan I can devise, and I will follow thy advice." "Indeed, lady, if I had any plan, I should gladly propose it to you. But you have great need of a wiser counsellor. So I shall certainly not dare to intrude, and in common with the others I shall endure the rain and wind until, if it please God, I shall see some worthy man appear here in your court who will assume the responsibility and burden of the battle; but I do not believe that that will happen to-day, and we have not yet seen the worst of your urgent need." Then the lady replies at once: "Damsel, speak now of something else! Say no more of the people of my household; for I cherish no further expectation that the spring and its marble brim will ever be defended by any of them. But, if it please God, let us hear now what is your opinion and plan; for people always say that in time of need one can test his friend." (30) "My lady, if there is any one who thinks he could find him who slew the giant and defeated the three knights, he would do well to go to search for him. But so long as he shall incur the enmity, wrath, and displeasure of his lady, I fancy there is not under heaven any man or woman whom he would follow, until he had been assured upon oath that everything possible would be done to appease the hostility which his lady feels for him, and which is so bitter that he is dying of the grief and anxiety it causes him." And the lady said: "Before you enter upon the quest, I am prepared to promise you upon my word and to swear that, if he will return to me, I will openly and frankly do all I can to bring about his peace of mind." Then Lunete replies to her: "Lady, have no fear that you cannot easily effect his reconciliation, when once it is your desire to do so; but, if you do not object, I will take your oath before I start." "I have no objection," the lady says. With delicate courtesy, Lunete procured at once for her a very precious relic, and the lady fell upon her knees. Thus Lunete very courteously accepted her upon her oath. In administering the oath, she forgot nothing which it might be an advantage to insert. "Lady," she says, "now raise your hand! I do not wish that the day after to-morrow you should lay any charge upon me; for you are not doing anything for me, but you are acting for your own good. If you please now, you shall swear that you will exert yourself in the interests of the Knight with the Lion until he recover his lady's love as completely as he ever possessed it." The lady then raised her right hand and said: "I swear to all that thou hast said, so help me God and His holy saint, that my heart may never fail to do all within my power. If I have the strength and ability, I will restore to him the love and favour which with his lady he once enjoyed."
(Vv. 6659-6716.) Lunete has now done well her work; there was nothing which she had desired so much as the object which she had now attained. They had already got out for her a palfrey with an easy pace. Gladly and in a happy frame of mind Lunete mounts and rides away, until she finds beneath the pine-tree him whom she did not expect to find so near at hand. Indeed, she had thought that she would have to seek afar before discovering him. As soon as she saw him, she recognised him by the lion, and coming toward him rapidly, she dismounted upon the solid earth. And my lord Yvain recognised her as soon as he saw her, and greeted her, as she saluted him with the words: "Sire, I am very happy to have found you so near at hand." And my lord Yvain said in reply: "How is that? Were you looking for me, then?" "Yes, sire, and in all my life I have never felt so glad, for I have made my mistress promise, if she does not go back upon her word, that she will be again your lady as was once the case, and that you shall be her lord; this truth I make bold to tell." My lord Yvain was greatly elated at the news he hears, and which he had never expected to hear again. He could not sufficiently show his gratitude to her who had accomplished this for him. He kisses her eyes, and then her face, saying: "Surely, my sweet friend, I can never repay you for this service. I fear that ability and time will fail me to do you the honour and service which is your due." "Sire, she replies, "have no concern, and let not that thought worry you! For you will have an abundance of strength and time to show me and others your good will. If I have paid this debt I owed, I am entitled to only so much gratitude as the man who borrows another's goods and then discharges the obligation. Even now I do not consider that I have paid you the debt I owed." "Indeed you have, as God sees me, more than five hundred thousand times. Now, when you are ready, let us go. But have you told her who I am?" "No, I have not, upon my word. She knows you only by the name of `The Knight with the Lion.'"
(Vv. 6717-6758.) Thus conversing they went along, with the lion following after them, until they all three came to the town. They said not a word to any man or woman there, until they arrived where the lady was. And the lady was greatly pleased as soon as she heard that the damsel was approaching, and that she was bringing with her the lion and the knight, whom she was very anxious to meet and know and see. All clad in his arms, my lord Yvain fell at her feet upon his knees, while Lunete, who was standing by, said to her: "Raise him up, lady, and apply all your efforts and strength and skill in procuring that peace and pardon which no one in the world, except you, can secure for him." Then the lady bade him rise, and said: "He may dispose of all my power! I shall be very happy, if possible, to accomplish his wish and his desire." "Surely, my lady," Lunete replied, "I would not say it if it were not true. But all this is even more possible for you than I have said: but now I will tell you the whole truth, and you shall see: you never had and you never will have such a good friend as this gentleman. God, whose will it is that there should be unending peace and love between you and him, has caused me to find him this day so near at hand. In order to test the truth of this, I have only one thing to say: lady, dismiss the grudge you bear him! For he has no other mistress than you. This is your husband, my lord Yvain."
(Vv. 6759-6776.) The lady, trembling at these words, replied: "God save me! You have caught me neatly in a trap! You will make me love, in spite of myself, a man who neither loves nor esteems me. This is a fine piece of work, and a charming way of serving me! I would rather endure the winds and the tempests all my life: And if it were not a mean and ugly thing to break one's word, he would never make his peace or be reconciled with me. This purpose would have always lurked within me, as a fire smoulders in the ashes; but I do not wish to renew it now, nor do I care to refer to it, since I must be reconciled with him."
(Vv. 6777-6798.) My lord Yvain hears and understands that his cause is going well, and that he will be peacefully reconciled with her. So he says: "Lady, one ought to have mercy on a sinner. I have had to pay, and dearly to pay, for my mad act. It was madness that made me stay away, and I now admit my guilt and sin. I have been bold, indeed, in daring to present myself to you; but if you will deign to keep me now, I never again shall do you any wrong." She replied: "I will surely consent to that; for if I did not do all I could to establish peace between you and me, I should be guilty of perjury. So, if you please, I grant your request." "Lady," says he, "so truly as God in this mortal life could not otherwise restore me to happiness, so may the Holy Spirit bless me five hundred times!"
(Vv. 6799-6813.) Now my lord Yvain is reconciled, and you may believe that, in spite of the trouble he has endured, he was never so happy for anything. All has turned out well at last; for he is beloved and treasured by his lady, and she by him. His troubles no longer are in his mind; for he forgets them all in the joy he feels with his precious wife. And Lunete, for her part, is happy too: all her desires are satisfied when once she had made an enduring peace between my polite lord Yvain and his sweetheart so dear and so elegant.
(Vv. 6814-6818.) Thus Chretien concludes his romance of the Knight with the Lion; for I never heard any more told of it, nor will you ever hear any further particulars, unless some one wishes to add some lies.
[End of "Yvain"]
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NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by "(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.
(24) A similar description of a distressed damsel wandering at night in a forest is found in "Berte aus grans pies", by Adenet le Roi (13th century).
(25) The lion is forgotten for the moment, but will appear again v. 5446. (F.)
(26) This entire passage belongs in the catagory of widespread myths which tell of a tribute of youths or maidens paid to some cruel monster, from which some hero finally obtains deliverance. Instances are presented in the adventures of Theseus and Tristan.
(27) The old French monetary table was as follows: 10 as = 1 denier; 12 deniers = 1 sol; 20 sous = 1 livre
(28) It appears to be the poet's prerogative in all epochs of social history to bemoan the degeneracy of true love in his own generation.
(29) The sleeves of shirts were detachable, and were sewed on afresh when a clean garment was put on. (F.)
(30) This was an axiom of feudal society, and occurs more frequently in feudal literature than any other statement of mediaeval social relations.