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his own person what can he do ? less perhaps than another man. Can he govern his estates with that? you can answer me.* Can his treasures lighten him of that care? not unless they are well expended : it is plain then that human wisdom and human strength are the real treasures. By this liberality have the noblest chiefs been made famous, the great Alexander, the mighty Julius Cæsar, the haughty Hannibal. Good friends, therefore, not only do I think it best to seek the service of good knights, but I beseech ye all to assist me in the search, and bring them to my court, that I being the more honoured in foreign parts, your honour may also be the greater: and be ye sure that I never shall forget old friends for new ; and let me know the best who are come to my court, that we may have them in our company before they depart. This accordingly was done, and the king having the list, summoned them all before him after his meal, and besought them to enter loyally into his service, and not to quit his court without his permission, and he on his part promised to honour and reward them.
To this all who were present agreed, excepting Amadis, for he was the queen's knight. This done, the queen requested them to hear her, for if it pleased them she would speak. They all drew near her in silence, and she said to the king, Since you, my lord, have so favoured and honoured your knights, reasonable it is that I should do the like to my dames and damsels, and for their sake to all others wheresoever they be; therefore, I beg a boon of you and of these good men, for in festivals like these good boons ought to be asked and granted. Lisuarte looked round his company, Friends, what answer shall we make the queen? They all answered, Grant her what she may demand. What else, quoth Galaor, but to obey so excellent a lady? Then said the king, seeing you are all content, let the boon be granted, how weighty soever it may be to perform. And they all answered, so be it ! The boon I ask is this, said Brisena, that ye always defend dames and damsels from all wrong; and if by chance you have made promise of two suits, one to a man, the other to a woman, you shall accomplish the woman's request first, as being the weakest person, and who hath most need to be holpen. Thus shall women travel more safely along the highways, and discourteous and cruel men shall fear to offer them force or injury. Greatly were Lisuarte and all his knights contented with that request, and the king commanded that it should be observed, as it long was in Great Britain, never knight breaking it; but how it was at last broken, is not to the purpose here to say.
CHAP. XXXIV.-How King Lisuarte being in great pleasure
a damsel covered with mourning humbled herself before him to beg a boon, the which was by him granted.
HILE King Lisuarte was with such company
in such pleasure, there came in a fair damsel RAK clad in mourning, who falling on her knees before him, said, All here, sir, have joy but me, and I have grief and wretchedness, and only you can relieve me! Friend, quoth the king, how may that be? My father and uncle are in the prison of a lady, who will never deliver them till they give her two knights each as good in arms as one whom they have slain. Wherefore did they slay him ? Because he vaunted that he alone could combat with them both, and defied VOL. I.
them with such insolence, that they were compelled by shame to enter lists with him, and so he was slain. This was before the Castle of Guldenda, who immediately made my father and uncle prisoners, for that knight was engaged to wage a battle for her, and she swore never to release them till they gave her two other knights for that service, each as approved in arms. Know you not, said Lisuarte, where the battle is to be fought? She answered, I cannot tell : I only know my father and uncle are unjustly cast into prison, and none of their kin can help them. And with that she began to lament bitterly, so that the king, moved with pity, answered, Is the castle far from hence ? You may go and return in five days, quoth she. Then said Lisuarte, chuse two knights, and take them with you. Sir, quoth she, I am of a strange land, and know none of them : if it please you, I will go to the queen my lady and ask her counsel.
The damsel repeated her tale to Brisena, and asked her to name two knights. O damsel ? quoth the Queen, you ask me what I ought to do, but I am loth to forego the twain. Then she called for Amadis and Galaor: this knight, said she, is mine; the other is the king's; they are the best knights here or elsewhere, Amadis and Galaor. What! quoth the damsel ? are you Sir Amadis ? the knight that hath no peer ? now shall I of a certainty accomplish what I desire, if you and your brother will accompany me. Lady, for God's sake intreat them for me! The queen used her intreaties, but Amadis looked at Oriana for her permission ; and she dropt her gloves in token that he should go, for that sign had been agreed on between them, and she had compassion on the damsel. Then he replied, that he would perform the queen's command. But Brisena commanded them to hasten back without delay, let what would happen. Then Amadis approached Mabilia and Oriana, as if to take leave of his cousin, and Oriana said, dear friend, I repent the leave I have given you ; my heart misgives me : God grant that it be for good! Lady, quoth Amadis, may he who made you so fair, always give you much joy! wherever I may be, I am still yours to serve you. I commend you to God's good keeping, she replied : may he preserve and give you glory above all other knights ! They then armed themselves, and took their leave, and departed with the damsel.
She guided them till it was past noon, and they entered a forest which was called the Forest of Ill Fortune, for never errant knight entered it without mishap; nor did these brethren escape without sore suffering. They ate of what their squires carried, and proceeded on till night : it was broad moon-light, and she still rode on apace. Damsel, quoth Amadis, shall we not rest? We shall find tents farther on, she answered, and those who will greatly rejoice at your coming ; do you keep your pace, and I will ride forward and make them ready to receive you. So she went on. They had not followed far before they saw two tents by the wayside, where several damsels stood ready with her who had been their guide to welcome them. Sirs, said she, dismount here and rest, for you have travelled far. They alighted, and there were servants ready to take their horses, and to disarm them, and they took away all the arms. Why do you remove our arms ? quoth Amadis. The damsel answered, They are taking them to the other tent, where you will sleep. Then they seated themselves
upon the carpet, expecting supper, when on a sudden fifteen armed men, knights and others, came upon them, crying, Yield or you are but dead! They started up thereat, but they had nothing wherewith to defend themselves, and lances were pointed at their breasts and at their backs, and at their faces; then was Amadis so enraged that the blood gushed from his nostrils and eyes. Ah, traitors ! quoth he, you see how this is ! if we had our arms the business should end in another guise ! That, said they, will not avail you : you are our prisoners ! Cried Galaor, If we are it is by great treason, and that I will prove upon the two best of you; aye, the best three, if you will give me my arms! The knight answered, The proof is not wanted : if you talk more it will be to your cost. What! cried Amadis, we will rather die than be thus taken! The knight went to the door of the tentMadam, they will not yield : shall we slay them ? She answered, Stay a little, and if they will not obey my will, then off with their heads. Then she entered : she was a right fair lady, and in great anger, and she said to the brethren, Yield to me, or ye die! Amadis was silent; but Galaor answered, Brother, we cannot now hesitate, since the lady wills it. Madam, let us have our arms and horses, and if your men cannot then take us, we will surrender ourselves to your pleasure; as we are now, there is no merit in yielding. I shall not trust you this time, she replied ; but I counsel you to yield yourselves. And they seeing they had no remedy yielded, and were thus made prisoners; the lady not knowing who they were, for the damsel would not tell their names, being assured that if she had named them they should immediately have been slain, and then would she be the most