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CHAP. IX.-Relating how, Beltenebros being upon a Poor Rock,
Corisanda came there in a ship in search of her lover Florestan, and of what happened, and what she said in the Court of King Lisuarte.
ELTENEBROS and the hermit were one day
sitting on the stone-bench by the door of
their chapel, when the old man said, I pray you, son, tell me what it was that made you cry out so in your sleep, when we were by the fountain of the plain? That shall I willingly, father, he replied, and I beseech you tell me what you understand by it. Then he related to him the manner of his dream, only the names of the women, those he did not tell. The good man mused for a while, and then said, with a cheerful countenance, Beltenebros, you have given me great pleasure by this account, and you also have great reason to rejoice. The dark chamber, in the which you thought yourself to be, and from whence you could not get out, signifieth this great tribulation which you now endure. The damsels who opened the door, are those friends who continually solicit your cause with her whom you love so much, and they will succeed so well as to withdraw you from this place. The sun-beam which went before them, is the joyful news that they are to send you here; and the fire, wherein you saw your lady enveloped, is the great pain of love which she suffers for you as well as you for her : from that fire you delivered her, that is, from the pain which your presence will remove; and the pleasant garden is a sign of great happiness, wherewith you shall pass your lives. Truly, I know a man of my habit should not discourse of such things as these, yet it is more for God's service to speak the
truth that may comfort you, than to conceal it, seeing your desperate state.
Beltenebros knelt down and kissed the old man's hands, thanking God for having given him such a friend in his need, and praying with tears that he would mercifully be pleased to accomplish the words of that holy man his servant. Then he besought him to tell the interpretation of the dream he had dreamt before Durin gave him the letter, which when the hermit had heard, he answered, This I can show you clearly, for it is all accomplished. The place overshadowed with trees, was the Firm Island, and the people who made such great joy about you, signified the great pleasure of the islanders in gaining you for their lord. The man who came to you with the box of bitter electuary, was the messenger of your lady, for the bitterness of her words, you, who have proved them, can best tell: and you laid aside your arms. The stony place amidst the water, is this poor rock; and the religious man who spoke to you in an unknown tongue, am I, who tell you the holy word of God, which before you neither knew nor thought of.
Verily, said Beltenebros, you tell me the truth of this dream, for these things have all come to pass, and therefore great cause have I to hope for the future. Yet was not this hope so great or so certain as to remove his sorrow, for he would often sit with his eyes fixed upon the ground, remembering what he had been, and his life would have been endangered by exceeding melancholy, had it not been for the counsel of that good man. And sometimes, to take him away from that pensiveness, the hermit would make him go with two nephews that kept him company there, to
angle in a little stream hard by, where they caught plenty of fish.
Here Beltenebros dwelt in penitence and great grief, and he past the night most frequently 'under some large trees in the garden near the chapel, that he might there lament, without the knowledge of the hermit or the boys; and calling to mind the great wrong he endured, he made this song in his passion :
Sith that the victory of right deserved
He had passed one night as usual under these trees, when towards morning he heard certain instruments
* This is the version in the English translation from the French : the matter is preserved, the manner lost. The poem is curious from its age; it is printed with these marks :
touched so sweetly, that he took great delight in hearing them, and marvelled what it might be, knowing that in that place there dwelt none else than the hermit and his nephews. He rose, and went softly towards the sound, and saw that there were two damsels by a fountain, who, tuning their voices to their lutes, did sing a most pleasant song. He stood awhile listening, then advanced, and said, God save you, gentle damsels, but your sweet music has made me lose my matins! They wondered who he should be, and said to him, Tell us, friend, for courtesy, what place is this where we have landed, and who are you who speak to us? Ladies, he replied, they call it the Rock of the Hermitage, because of the hermit that dwells here. As for me, I am a poor man who bear him company, doing great and hard penance for the sins that I have committed. Then said they, Friend, is there any house here where our lady could rest for two or three days? for she is very sick : she is a lady of high rank and wealth, whom love hath greatly tormented Beltenebros answered, here is a little cabin, it is very small, in which I lodge : if the hermit pleases, you shall have it, and I will asleep abroad in the field, as I often use to do. For this courtesy the damsels heartily thanked him. By this the day began to break, and Beltenebros saw under some trees the lady of whom they spake, lying upon a rich bed; four armed knights and five serving men, who attended her, were sleeping on the shore, and a well appointed ship rode at anchor. The lady was young and beautiful, so that he took pleasure in beholding her.
Beltenebros then went to the hermit, who was robing himself to say mass. Father, said he, there are strangers here: it will be well to wait mass for them. So they both went out from the chapel. The knights and serving-men were carrying the sick lady towards them, and her damsels were coming with her, and they asked the hermit if there was any house wherein they could place her. He answered, Here are two cabins: I live in the one, and by my will never woman shall enter that. This poor man, who makes his penitence here, lodges in the other, and I will not remove him against his will. To this Beltenebros replied, Father, you may well give them that, for I will rest under the trees, as I often do. They then entered the chapel to hear mass; but the sight of knights and damsels reminded Beltenebros of what he had been, and of his own lady, and renewed in him his exceeding sorrow, so that he sobbed aloud, and kneeling down at the altar, besought the Virgin Mary to help him in his affliction. The knights and damsels, who saw how he wept, held him for a man of good life, and marvelled how he could employ his youth and beauty in that desert place, for any sin that he could have committed, seeing that the mercy of God may be obtained in all places alike, by such as truly repent. As soon as mass was ended, they carried the lady into his cabin, and laid her in her rich bed, and she lay there weeping and wringing her hands. The damsels went for their lutes to solace her, and Beltenebros asked them wherefore she appeared so distressed. Friend, said they, this lady hath great possessions, and is of high rank and beautiful, though her sorrow doth now diminish her fairness, and we will tell you the cause of her sorrow, tho' it should not be told to others. It is excessive love that afflicts her: she is going to seek him whom she loves at the court of King Lisuarte, and God