Cliges: A Romance
Chretien de Troyes

Part 2 out of 2

has taken the cup, for he has great trust in his nephew. He
drinks a mighty draught of the potion; and now he feels the
virtue of it; for it penetrates from the head to the heart, and
from the heart it returns to his head, and it permeates him again
and again. It saturates his whole body without hurting him. And
by the time the tables were removed, the emperor had drunk so
much of the beverage which had pleased him, that never will he
get free of it. Each night while asleep he will be intoxicated;
and yet it will excite him so much that though asleep, he will
dream that he is awake.

Now is the emperor mocked. Many bishops and abbots there were at
the benediction and consecration of the bed. When it was bedtime
the emperor, as it behoved him, lay with his wife that night. "As
it behoved him"--therein have I lied, for he never embraced or
touched her though they lay together in one bed. At first the
maiden trembles; for greatly does she fear and feel alarm lest
the potion take no effect. But it has so bewitched him that never
will he have his will of her or of another save when asleep. But
then he will have such ecstasy as one can have in dreaming; and
yet he will hold the dream for true. In one word I have told you
all: never had he other delight of her than in dreams. Thus must
he needs fare evermore if he can lead his bride away; but before
he can hold her in safety a great disaster, I ween, may befall
him. For when he will return home, the duke, to whom she was
first given, will be no laggard. The duke has gathered a great
force, and has occupied all the marches, and his spies are at the
court, and inform him each day of all he wants to know, and tell
him all the measures he must take, and how long they will tarry,
and when they will return, through what places, and by what
passes. The emperor did not long tarry after the wedding.
Blithely he departs from Cologne; and the emperor of Germany
escorts him with a very great company because he greatly fears
and dreads the might of the Duke of Saxony.

The two emperors proceed and stop not till they reach Ratisbon;
and on one evening they were lodged by the Danube in the meadow.
The Greeks were in their tents in the meadows beside the Black
Forest. The Saxons who were observing them were encamped opposite
them. The duke's nephew was left all alone on a hill to keep a
look-out, and see whether, peradventure, he might gain any
advantage over those yonder or wreak any mischief upon them.
>From his post of vantage he saw Cliges riding with three other
striplings who were taking their pleasure, carrying lances and
shields in order to tilt and to disport themselves. Now is the
duke's nephew bent on attacking and injuring them if ever he can.
With five comrades he sets out; and the six have posted
themselves secretly beside the wood in a valley, so that the
Greeks never saw them till they issued from the valley, and till
the duke's nephew rushes upon Cliges and strikes him, so that he
wounds him a little in the region of the spine. Cliges stoops and
bows his head, so that the lance glances off him; nevertheless,
it wounds him a little.

When Cliges perceives that he is wounded he has rushed upon the
stripling, and strikes him straightway with such violence that he
thrusts his lance right through his heart and fells him dead.
Then the Saxons, who fear him mightily, all take to flight and
scatter through the heart of the forest while Cliges, who knows
not of the ambush, commits a reckless and foolish act; for he
separates himself from his comrades, and pursues in that
direction in which the duke's force was. And now all the host
were preparing to make an attack on the Greeks. Cliges, all
alone, without aid, pursues them; and the youths all dismayed
because of their lord whom they have lost, come running into the
duke's presence; and, weeping, recount to him the evil hap of his
nephew. The duke thinks it no light matter; by God and all his
saints, he swears that never in all his life will he have joy or
good luck as long as he shall know that the slayer of his nephew
is alive. He says that he who will bring him Cliges' head shall
verily be deemed his friend, and will give him great comfort.
Then a knight has boasted that the head of Cliges will be offered
to the duke by him; let the duke but rely on him.

Cliges pursues the youths till he swooped down on the Saxons, and
is seen by the knight who has engaged to carry off his head.
Straightway, that knight departs and stays no longer. But Cliges
has retreated in order to elude his enemies; and he returned at
full gallop thither where he had left his comrades. But he has
found none of them there; for they had returned to the tents to
relate their adventure. And the emperor summoned Greeks and
Germans alike to horse. Through all the host the barons speedily
arm themselves and mount. But the Saxon knight, all armed, his
visor laced, has continued to pursue Cliges at a gallop. Cliges,
who never wished to have aught in common with a recreant or
coward, sees him come alone. First of all the knight has assailed
him with words: he stoutly calls him baseborn fellow, for he
could not conceal the mind he had of him. "Fellow," quoth he,
"here wilt thou leave the forfeit for my lord, whom thou hast
slain. If I bear not off thy head with me, then esteem me not
worth a bad Byzantine coin. I will to make the duke a present of
it, for I will not accept any other forfeit in its stead. So much
will I render to him for his nephew; and he will have had a good
exchange for him." Cliges hears that the Saxon is abusing him as
a madman and low-bred fellow. "Man," quoth he, "now defend
yourself; for I defy you to take my head, and you shall not have
it without my leave." Forthwith the one seeks the other. The
Saxon has missed his stroke; and Cliges thrusts so hard that he
made man and steed fall all in a heap. The steed falls backwards
on his rider with such violence that it completely breaks one of
his legs. Cliges dismounts on the green grass and disarms him.
When he had disarmed him, then he dons the arms himself, and has
cut off his head with the victim's own sword. When he had cut off
his head, he has fixed it on to the point of his lance; and says
that he will present it to the duke to whom his enemy had vowed
to present Cliges' own head if he could meet him in the fight. No
sooner had Cliges placed the helmet on his head, taken the shield
, (not his own, but the shield of him who had fought with him),
and no sooner had he mounted on the foeman's horse, leaving his
own rider-less in order to dismay the Greeks, than he saw more
than a hundred banners and battalions, great and fully equipped,
of Greeks and Germans mingled. Now will begin a very fierce and
cruel melee between the Saxons and the Greeks. As soon as Cliges
sees them come, he goes straight towards the Saxons; and the
Greeks exert themselves to pursue him; for on account of his arms
they do not know him; and his uncle, who sees the head that he is
bringing, is marvellously discomforted thereat. No wonder is it
if he fears for his nephew. The whole host musters in his wake;
and Cliges lets them pursue him in order to begin the melee till
the Saxons perceive him coming; but the arms with which he is
clad and furnished mislead them all. He has mocked at them and
scorned them; for the duke and all the others as he advanced with
hoisted lance, say: "Our knight is coming! On the point of the
lance that he holds he is bringing the head of Cliges; and the
Greeks follow after him. Now to horse to succour him!" Then they
all give the rein to their horses; and Cliges spurs towards the
Saxons, covering himself behind his shield and doubling himself
up, his lance upright, the head on its point. Not one whit less
courage than a lion had he, though he was no stronger than
another. On both sides they believe that he is dead--Saxons, and
Greeks and Germans--and the one side are blithe thereat; and the
other side, grieved; but soon will the truth be known. For now
has Cliges no longer held his peace: shouting, he gallops towards
a Saxon, and strikes him with his ashen lance with the head on
it, full in the breast, so that he has lost his stirrups; and he
calls out, "Barons, strike! I am Cliges whom you seek. On now,
bold freeborn knights! Let there be no coward, for ours is the
first shock. Let no craven taste of such a dainty dish."

The emperor greatly rejoiced when he heard his nephew, Cliges,
who thus addresses and exhorts them; right glad and comforted is
he thereof. And the duke is utterly dumfounded;, for now he knows
well that he is betrayed unless his force is the greater; he bids
his men close their ranks and keep together. And the Greeks, in
close array, have not gone far from them, for now they are
spurring and pricking. On both sides they couch their lances and
meet and receive each other as it behoved them to do in such a
fight. At the first encounter, they pierce shields and shatter
lances, cut girths, break stirrups; the steeds stand bereft of
those who fall upon the field. But no matter what the others do,
Cliges and the duke meet; they hold their lances couched; and
each strikes the other on his shield with so great valour that
the lances, which were strong and well wrought, break into
splinters. Cliges was a skilful horseman: he remained upright in
his saddle, never stumbling nor wavering. The duke has lost his
saddle, and in spite of himself has voided the saddle-bows.
Cliges thinks to take him and lead him away captive, and mightily
toils and strains; but the strength he needed was not his. For
the Saxons were all around, and they rescue their duke by force.
Nevertheless, Cliges leaves the field without injury; with a
prize; for he leads away the duke's steed which was whiter than
wool and which, for the use of a man of valour, was worth all the
possessions of Octavian of Rome: the steed was an Arab one. Great
joy manifest Greeks and Germans when they see Cliges mounted on
it; for they had seen the worth and the perfection of the Arab;
but they did not suspect an ambush nor will they ever perceive it
till they receive great loss therefrom.

A spy has come to the duke with news at which he has waxed full
joyous. "Duke," quoth the spy, "no man has been left in all the
tents of the Greeks who can defend himself. Now can thy men take
the daughter of the emperor, if thou wilt trust my words, while
thou seest the Greeks desperately bent on the fight and on the
battle. Give me a hundred of thy knights and I will give them thy
lady-love. By an old and lonely path, I will lead them so
prudently that they shall not be seen or met by Saxon or German
till they will be able to take the maiden in her tent, and lead
her away so unhindered that never will she be denied them." The
duke is blithe at this thing. He has sent a hundred and more wise
knights with the spy; and the spy has led them in such wise that
they take the maiden as a prize, nor have they spent great force
thereon, for easily were they able to lead her away. When they
had taken her some distance from the tents, they sent her away
attended by twelve of them, nor did the rest accompany the twelve
far. Twelve of them lead away the maiden; the others have told
the duke the news of their success. Nought else was there that
the duke had desired, and straightway he makes a truce with the
Greeks till the morrow. They have given and accepted a truce. The
duke's men have returned; and the Greeks without any delay return
, each one to his tent. But Cliges remained alone on a hill so
that no one noticed him till he saw the twelve coming, and the
damsel whom they were taking away at full speed and at a gallop.
Cliges, who longs to gain renown, forthwith dashes in their
direction, for he thinks to himself, and his heart tells him that
it is not for nothing they are fleeing. The very moment that he
saw them, he dashes after them; and they see him; but they think
and believe a foolish thing. "The duke is following us," each one
says, "let us wait for him a little; for he has left the host
unattended and is coming after us very swiftly." There is not a
single one who does not believe this. They all desire to go to
meet him; but each desires to go alone. Cliges must needs descend
into a great valley between two mountains. Never would he have
recognised their insignia if they had not come to meet him, or if
they had not awaited him. Six of them advanced to meet him; but
soon will they have had an ill meeting with him. The others stay
with the maiden and lead her on, gently, at a walking pace. And
the six go at full speed, spurring incessantly through the
valley. He who had the swiftest horse outstripped all the rest,
crying aloud: "Duke of Saxony! God preserve thee! Duke! We have
regained thy lady. Now shall the Greeks never carry her off; for
she will now be given and handed over to thee." When Cliges has
heard these words that the other cries out, no smile had he in
his heart; rather is it a marvel that frenzy does not seize him.
Never was any wild beast: leopardess, or tigress, or lioness, who
sees her young taken, so embittered, and furious, and lusting,
for the fight as was Cliges who cares not to live if he fail his
lady. Rather would he die than not have her. Very great wrath has
he for this calamity and exceeding great courage does it give
him. He spurs and pricks the Arab; and goes to deal the blazoned
shield of the Saxon such a blow that--I lie not--he made him feel
the lance at his heart. This has given Cliges confidence. More
than a full acre's measure has he spurred and pricked the Arab
before the second has drawn near, for they came, one by one. The
one has no fear for the other; for he fights with each singly and
meets them one by one, nor has the one aid of the other. He makes
an attack on the second, who thought to tell the supposed duke
news of Cliges' discomfiture, and to rejoice thereat as the first
had done. But Cliges recks little of words or of listening to his
discourse. He proceeds to thrust his lance in his body so that
when he draws it out again the blood gushes out; and he bereaves
his foe of life and speech. After the two, he joins issue with a
third who thinks to find him overjoyed and to gladden him with
news of his own discomfiture. He came spurring against him; but
before he has the chance to say a word, Cliges has thrust his
lance a fathom deep into his body. To the fourth he gives such a
blow on the neck, that he leaves him in a swoon on the field.
After the fourth, he gallops against the fifth, and then after
the fifth, against the sixth. Of these, none stood his ground
against him; rather does Cliges leave them all silent and dumb.
Still less has he feared and more boldly sought the rest of them.
After this has he no concern about these six.

When he was free from care as regards these, he goes to make a
present of shame and of misfortune to the rest who are escorting
the maiden. He has overtaken them, and attacks them like a wolf ,
who famished and fasting rushes on his prey. Now seems it to him
that he was born in a good hour, since he can display his
chivalry and courage before her who is all his life. Now is he
dead if he free her not; and she, on the other hand, is likewise
dead; for she is greatly discomforted for him, but does not know
that he is so near her. Cliges, with feutred lance, has made a
charge which pleased her; and he strikes one Saxon and then
another so that with one single charge he has made them both bite
the dust, and splinters his ashen lance. The foemen fall in such
anguish that they have no power to rise again to hurt or molest
him, for they were sore wounded in their bodies. The other four,
in great wrath, go all together to strike Cliges; but he neither
stumbles nor trembles nor have they unhorsed him. Swiftly he
snatches from the scabbard his sword of sharpened Steel; and that
she who awaits his love may be right grateful to him, he
encounters with lightning swiftness a Saxon, and strikes him with
his sharp sword, so that he has severed from his trunk, his head
and half his neck: no tenderer pity had he for him. Fenice, who
watches and beholds, knows not that it is Cliges. Fain would she
that it were he; but because there is danger she says to herself
that she would not wish it. For two reasons is she his good
friend; for she fears his death and desires his honour. And
Cliges receives at the sword's point the three who offer him
fierce combat; they pierce and cleave his shield, but they cannot
get him into their power or cleave the links of his shirt of
mail. And nought that Cliges can reach stands firm before his
blow; for he cleaves and breaks asunder all; he wheels round more
quickly than the top which is urged on and driven by the whip.
Prowess and love entwine him and make him bold and keen in fight.
He has dealt so grievously with the Saxons that he has killed or
conquered them all, wounded some, and killed others; but he let
one of them escape because they were a match, one for the other,
and so that, by him, the duke might know his loss and mourn. But
before this man left him, he prevailed upon Cliges to tell him
his name; and went for his part to tell it to the duke, who had
great wrath thereat. Now the duke hears of his misfortune, and
had great grief and great care thereat. And Cliges leads away
Fenice, who thrills and tortures him with the pangs of love; but
if now he does not hear her confession, long time will love be
adverse to him; and also to her if she, on her side, is silent
and say not her will; for now in the hearing, one of the other,
can they reveal their inmost hearts. But so much do they fear
refusal that they dare not betray their hearts. He fears that she
might reject him; she, on her part, would have betrayed herself
if she had not feared rejection. And, nevertheless, the one
betrays his thoughts to the other with the eyes if they could
only have known it. They speak by glances with their eyes; but
they are so craven with their tongues that in no wise dare they
speak of the love which masters them. If she dare not begin it,
it is no marvel; for a maiden ought to be a simple and shy
creature. But why does he wait; and why does he delay, who is
thoroughly bold in her behalf, and has shown dread of none but
her? God! Whence comes this fear to him that he fears a single
maiden, weak and timid, simple and shy? At this, methinks, I see
dogs fleeing before the hare, and the fish hunting the beaver,
the lamb the wolf, the dove the eagle. So would it be if the
villein were to flee before his hoe by which he gains his
livelihood, and with which he toils. So would it be if the falcon
were to flee from the duck, and the gerfalcon from the heron, and
the great pike from the minnow, and if the stag were to chase the
lion; so do things go topsy-turvy. But a desire comes upon me to
give some reason why it happens to true lovers, that wit and
courage fail them to express what they have in their thoughts
when they have leisure and opportunity and time.

You who are being instructed in Love, who faithfully uphold the
customs and rites of his court, and who never broke his law
whatever might have befallen you for your obedience, tell me if
one can see anything which affords Love's delight but that lovers
shiver and grow pale thereat. Never shall there be a man opposed
to me that I do not convince of this; for he who does not grow
pale and shiver thereat, who does not lose wit and memory like a
thief, pursues and seeks that which is not fittingly his. A
servant who does not fear his lord, ought not to stay in his
retinue or serve him. He who does not esteem his lord, does not
fear him; and he who does not esteem him, does not hold him dear;
but rather seeks to cheat him and to pilfer somewhat of his
property. For fear ought a servant to tremble when his lord calls
him or sends for him. And he who commends himself to Love makes
Love his master and his lord; and it is meet that he have him in
Reverence; and greatly fear and honour him if he wishes to stand
well with his court. Love without fear and without dread is fire
without flame and without heat; daylight without sun; honeycomb
without honey; summer without flowers; winter without frost; sky
without moon; a book without letters. Thus do I wish to refute
such an opponent; for where fear is lacking there is no love
worth mentioning. It behoves him who wishes to love to fear also;
for if he does not he cannot love; but let him fear her only whom
he loves; and in her behoof let him be thoroughly bold.
Therefore, Cliges commits no fault or wrong if he fears his
lady-love. But for this fear he would not have failed forthwith
to have spoken to her of love and sought her love, however the
matter had happed if she had not been his uncle's wife. For this
cause his wound rankles in him; and it pains and grieves him the
more because he dare not say what he yearns to say.

Thus they return towards their company; and if they talk of
anything, there was in their talk nothing about which they cared.
Each sat on a white horse; and they rode quickly towards the army
where there was great lamentation. Throughout the host they are
beside themselves with grief; but they hit upon an untrue saying
when they say that Cliges is dead--thereat is the mourning very
great and loud. And they fear for Fenice; they deem not that they
will ever have her again; and both for her and for him the whole
host is in very great sorrow. But these two will not delay much
longer; and the whole state of matters will take a different
appearance; for already they have returned to the host and have
turned the sorrow into joy. Joy returns and sorrow flies. They
all come to meet them so that the whole host assembles. The two
emperors together, when they heard the news about Cliges and
about the maiden, go to meet them with very great joy; but each
one longs to hear how Cliges had found and rescued the lady.
Cliges tells them the tale; and those who hear it marvel greatly
Thereat; and much do they praise his prowess and valour. But on
the other side the duke, who swears and protests, is furious; and
declares that if Cliges dares there shall be a single combat
between the two of them; and that he will order matters in such
wise, that if Cliges wins the combat, the emperor shall go away
in safety, and take the maiden unhindered; but that if he kills
or conquers Cliges, who has done him many an injury, let there
for this be neither truce nor peace till after each has done his
utmost. This the duke essays; and through an interpreter of his,
who knew Greek and German, gives the two emperors to know that
thus he wishes to have the battle.

The messenger delivers his message in one and the other language
so well that all understood. The whole host resounds and is in an
uproar about it; and men say, that never may it please God, that
Cliges fight the battle; and both the emperors are in a very
great alarm thereat; but Cliges falls at their feet and prays
them let it not grieve them; but that, if ever he has done aught
that has pleased them, he may have this battle as a guerdon and
as a reward. And if it is denied him never will he for a single
day be a blessing and an honour to his uncle. The emperor, who
held his nephew as dear as duty bade him, with his hand raises
him up from his knees and says: "Fair nephew, greatly does it
grieve me that I know you to be so wedded to fighting; for after
joy I expect sorrow therefrom. You have made me glad; I cannot
deny it; but much it grieves me to grant this boon and send you
to the battle; for that I see you yet too young. And I know you
to be of such proud courage that in no wise dare I deny anything
that it please you to ask; for know well that it would be done
but to please you; but if my prayer availed aught, never would
you take on you this burden." "Sire, you are pleading in vain,"
quoth Cliges, "for may God confound me if I would accept the
whole world on condition that I did not fight this battle. I know
not why I should seek from you a long respite or a long delay."
The emperor weeps with pity, and Cliges, on his side, weeps with
joy when he grants him the battle. There had he wept many a
joyful tear, nor had he secured delay, nor limit of time, before
it was the hour of Prime; by his own messenger was the battle
announced to the duke, just as he had demanded it.

The duke, who thinks and believes and imagines that Cliges will
not be able to defend himself against him, but that he will soon
have slain or conquered him, quickly has himself armed. Cliges,
who is longing for the battle, thinks that he need have no care
as to how to defend himself against the duke. He asks the emperor
for arms, and prays him to dub him knight; and, of his grace, the
emperor gives him arms and Cliges takes them; for his heart is
enamoured of the battle and much does he desire and long for it.
He hastens full swiftly to arm himself; when he was armed from
head to foot, the emperor, who was full of anxiety, goes to gird
the sword on his side. Cliges mounts on the white Arab, fully
armed; from his neck he hangs by the straps a shield made of
elephant's bone, such that it will neither break nor split nor
had it blazon or device; the armour was all white, and the steed
and the harness were all whiter than any snow.

Cliges and the duke are armed, and the one has announced to the
other that they will meet half-way, and that, on both sides,
their men shall all be without swords and without lances, bound
by oaths and their word of honour that never, as long as the
combat shall last, will there be any so bold as to dare to move
for any reason, any more than he would dare to pluck out his own
eye. Bound by this covenant they have met, and the delay has
seemed very long to each champion; for each thinks to have the
glory and the joy of victory. But before there was a blow struck,
the maiden, who is much concerned for Cliges, has herself
escorted thither; but on this is she quite resolved: that if he
dies, she will die. Never will any hope of consolation avail to
deter her from dying with him; for without him life has no charm
for her.

When all had come into the field, high and low, young and hoary,
and the guards bad been set there, then have both champions taken
their lances; and they meet in no half-hearted way, so that each
breaks his lance, and both are unhorsed and fail to keep their
saddles. But quickly have they risen to their feet, for they were
not at all wounded, and again they encounter without delay. They
play a merry tune with their swords on the resounding helms, so
that their retinue are amazed; and it seems to those who watch
them that the helmets are on fire and ablaze. And when the swords
rebound, glowing sparks jet forth as from red-hot iron which the
smith hammers on the anvil when he draws it from the furnace.
Very lavish are both the warriors in dealing blows in great
Store; and each has a good will to pay back quickly what he
borrows; neither the one nor the other ceases from paying back
capital and interest immediately, all without count and without
stint. But the duke comes on in great anger, and right wroth and
furious is he because he has not quelled and slain Cliges at the
first encounter. He deals him a great blow, marvellous and
strong, such that at his feet Cliges has fallen on one knee.

At the blow whereby Cliges fell was the emperor much amazed; he
was no whit less bewildered than if he had been behind the shield
himself. Then Fenice, so much was she amazed, can no longer
restrain herself, whatever might come of it, from crying: "God!
Aid!" as loud as ever she could. But she had called out but one
word when, forthwith, her voice failed, and she fell swooning,
and with arms outstretched so that her face was a little wounded.
Two noble barons raised her, and have held her on her feet till
she has returned to her senses. But never did any who saw her,
whatever appearance she presented, know why she swooned. Never
did any man blame her for it; rather they have all praised her;
for there is not a single one who does not believe that she would
have done the same for his sake if he had been in Cliges' place;
but in all this there is no truth. Cliges, when Fenice cried,
heard and marked her right well. The sound restored to him
strength and courage, and be springs swiftly to his feet, and
advanced furiously to meet the duke, and thrusts at him, and
presses him so that the duke was amazed thereat; for he finds him
more greedy for combat, more strong and agile than he had found
him before, it seems to him, when they first encountered. And
because he fears his onset he says to him: "Knight, so may God
save me, I see thee right courageous and valiant. But if it had
not been for my nephew, whom I shall never forget, willingly
would I have made peace with thee, and would have released thee
from the quarrel; for never would I have meddled any more in the
matter." "Duke," says Cliges, "what may be your pleasure? Is it
not meet that he who cannot make good his claim yield it, one of
two evils; when one has to choose, one ought to choose the
lesser. When your nephew picked a quarrel with me, he acted
unwisely. I will serve you in the same way--be assured of it--if
I ever can, if I do not receive submission from you." The duke,
to whom it seems that Cliges was growing in strength every
moment, thinks that it is much better for him to stop short
half-way before he is altogether wearied out. Nevertheless, he
does not confess to him the truth quite openly, but he says:
"Knight, I see thee debonair and agile and of great courage. But
exceeding young art thou: for this reason I reflect, and I know
of a surety, that if I conquer and kill thee, never should I win
praise or esteem thereby, nor should I ever see any man of valour
in whose hearing I should dare to confess that I had fought with
thee, for I should do honour to thee and shame to myself. But if
those knowst what honour means, a great honour will it be to thee
for ever that thou hast stood thy ground against me, even for two
encounters only. Now a wish and desire has come to me, to release
thee from the quarrel and not to fight with thee any longer."
"Duke," quoth Cliges, "you talk idly. You shall say it aloud in
the hearing of all, and never shall it be told or related that
you have done me a kindness, or that you have had mercy on me. In
the hearing of one and all of these who are here, you will have
to declare it if you wish to make peace with me." The duke
declares it in the hearing of all. Thus have they made peace and
agreement; but whatever the issue of the matter, Cliges had the
honour and the renown of it; and the Greeks had very great joy
thereof. But the Saxons could not make light of the matter; for
well had they all seen their lord exhausted and worsted; nor is
there any question but that, if he had been able to do better for
himself, this peace would never have been made; rather would he
have rent the soul out of Cliges' body if he had been able to do

The duke returns to Saxony, grieved and downcast and Ashamed; for
of his men--there are not two who do not hold him a conquered
man, a craven, and a coward. The Saxons, with all their shame,
have returned to Saxony. And the Greeks delay no longer; they
return towards Constantinople with great joy and with great
gladness; for well by his prowess has Cliges assured to them the
way. Now the emperor of Germany no further follows or attends
them. After taking leave of the Greek folk and of his daughter
and of Cliges and of the emperor, he has remained in Germany; and
the emperor of the Greeks goes away right glad and right joyful.
Cliges, the valiant, the well-bred, thinks of his father's
command. If his uncle the emperor will grant him leave, he will
go to request and pray him to let him go to Britain to speak to
his uncle the king; for he craves to know and see him. He sets
out for the presence of the emperor, and begs him if it please
him to let him go to Britain to see his uncle and his friends.
Very gently has he made this request; but his uncle refuses it to
him when he has heard and listened to the whole of his request
and his story. "Fair nephew," quoth he, "it pleases me not that
you should wish to leave me. Never will I give you this leave or
this permission without great grief; for right pleasant and
convenient is it that you should be my partner and co-ruler with
me of all my empire."

Now there is nothing which pleases Cliges, since his uncle denies
him what he asks and requests; and he says: "Fair Sire, it
becomes me not, nor am I brave or wise enough to be given this
partnership with you or with another so as to rule an empire;
very young am I and know but little. For this reason is gold
applied to the touchstone because one wishes to know if it is
real gold. So wish I--that is the end and sum of it--to assay and
prove myself where I think to find the touchstone. In Britain if
I am valiant I shall be able to put myself to the touch with the
Whetstone; and with the true and genuine assay by which I shall
test my prowess. In Britain are those valiant men of whom honour
and prowess boast. And he who wishes to gain honour, ought to
join himself to their company; for there the honour resides and
is won which appertains to the man of valour. Therefore, I ask
you this leave; and know of a surety that if you do not send me
thither and do not grant me the boon, then I shall go without
your leave." "Fair nephew, rather do I give it you freely when I
see you thus minded; for I would not have the heart to detain you
by force or by prayer. Now may God give you heart and will to
return soon since neither prayer nor prohibition nor force could
prevail in the matter. I would have you take with you a talent of
gold and of silver, and horses to delight you will I give you,
all at your choice." No sooner had he said his word than Cliges
has bowed to him. All whatsoever the emperor has devised and
promised was at once set before him. Cliges took as much wealth
and as many comrades as pleased and behoved him; but for his own
private use he takes away four different steeds: one white, one
sorrel, one dun, one black. But I was about to pass over one
thing that must not be omitted. Cliges goes to take leave of
Fenice, his lady-love, and to ask her leave to depart; for he
would fain commend her to God. He comes before her and kneels
down, weeping, so that he moistens with his tears all his tunic
and his ermine, and he bends his eyes to the ground; for he dares
not look straight in front of him, just as if he has committed
some wrong and crime towards her, and now shows by his mien that
he has shame for it. And Fenice, who beholds him timidly and
shyly, knows not what matter brings him; and she has said to him
in some distress: "Friend, fair sir, rise; sit by my side; weep
no more and tell me your pleasure." "Lady! What shall I say? What
conceal? I seek your permission to depart." "Depart? Why?"

"Lady! I must go away to Britain." "Tell me, then, on what quest,
before I give you permission." "Lady, my father, when he died and
departed this life, prayed me on no account to fail to go to
Britain as soon as I should be a knight. For nothing in the world
would I neglect his command. It will behove me not to play the
laggard as I go thither. It is a very long journey from here to
Greece; and if I were to go thither the journey from
Constantinople to Britain would be very long for me. But it is
meet that I take leave of you as being the lady whose I am
wholly." Many hidden and secret sighs and sobs had he made on
setting out; but no one had eyes so wide open or such good
hearing as to be able to perceive for a certainty from hearing or
sight, that there was love between the twain. Cliges, grievous
though it be to him, departs as soon as it is allowed him. He
goes away lost in thought; lost in thought remains the emperor
and many another; but Fenice is the most pensive of all: she
discovers neither bottom nor bound to the thought with which she
is filled, so greatly does it overflow and multiply in her. Full
of thought she has come to Greece: there was she held in great
honour as lady and empress; but her heart and spirit are with
Cliges wherever he turns, nor ever seeks she that her heart may
return to her unless he bring it back to her, he who is dying of
the malady with which he has slain her. And if he recovers, she
will recover; never will he pay dear for it unless she too pay
dear. Her malady appears in her complexion; for much has she
changed and pale has she grown. The fresh, clear, pure hue that
Nature had bestowed has wholly deserted her face. Often she
weeps, often sighs: little recks she of her empire and of the
wealth she has. She has always in her memory the hour that Cliges
departed, the farewell that he took of her, how he changed
countenance, how he blanched, his tears and his mien, for he came
to weep before her, humble, lowly, and on his knees, as if he
must needs worship her. All this is pleasant and sweet for her to
recall and to retrace. Then to provide herself with a luscious
morsel, she takes on her tongue in lieu of spice a sweet word;
and for all Greece she would not wish that he who said that word
should, in the sense in which she took it, have intended deceit;
for she lives on no other dainty nor does aught else please her.
This word alone sustains and feeds her and soothes for her all
her suffering. She seeks not to feed herself or quench her thirst
with any other meat or drink; for when it came to the parting,
Cliges said that he was "wholly hers". This word is so sweet and
good to her, that from the tongue it goes to her heart; and she
stores it in her heart as well as in her mouth, that she may be
the surer of it. She dares not hide this treasure behind any
other lock; and she would never be able to store it elsewhere so
well as in her heart. In no wise will she ever take it thence so
much she fears thieves and robbers; but it is without reason that
this fear comes to her; and without reason that she fears birds
of prey, for this possession is immovable; rather is it like a
building which cannot be destroyed by flood or by fire, and which
will never move from its place. But this she knows not, and hence
she gives herself agony and pain to seek out and learn something
on which she can lay hold; for in divers fashions does she
explain it. She holds debate within herself; and makes such
replies as these: "With what intention did Cliges say to me 'I am
wholly yours' if love did not cause him to say it? With what
power of mine can I sway him, that he should esteem me so highly
as to make me his lady? Is he not fairer than I, of much nobler
birth than I? I see nought but his love that can bestow on me
this gift. From my own case, for I cannot evade the scrutiny, I
will prove, that if he had not loved me he would never have
called himself wholly mine; for just as I could not be wholly
his, nor could in honour say so if love had not drawn me to him,
so Cliges, on his side, could not in any wise have said that he
was wholly mine if love has him not in his bonds. For if he loves
me not, he fears me not. Love, which gives me wholly to him,
perhaps , gives him wholly to me; but this thought quite dismays
me, that the phrase is one in common use and I may easily be
deceived; for many a man there is who in flattery says, even to
strangers: 'I am quite at your service, I, and whatsoever I
have.' And such men are more mocking than jays. So I know not
what to think; for it might well be that thus he spake to flatter
me. But I saw him change colour and weep right piteously. To my
mind his tears, his shamefaced and cast-down countenance, did not
come from deceit; no deceit or trickery was there. The eyes from
which I saw the tears fall did not lie to me. Signs enow could I
see there of love if I know aught of the matter. Yea! I grant
that evil was the hour in which I thought it. Evil was the hour
that I learnt it, and stored it in my heart; for a very great
misfortune has happed to me from it. A misfortune? Truly, by my
faith! I am dead, since I see not him who has flattered and
cajoled me so much that he has robbed me of my heart. Through his
deceit and smooth words, my heart is quitting its lodging and
will not stay with me, so much it hates my dwelling and my manor.
Faith! then, he who has my heart in his keeping has dealt ill
with me. He who robs me and takes away what is mine, loves me
not; I know it well. I know it? Why then did he weep? Why? It was
not for nothing, for he had reason enow. I ought to apply nought
of it to myself because a man's sorrow is very great at parting
from those whom he loves and knows. I marvel not that he had
grief and sorrow, and that he wept when he left his
acquaintances. But he who gave him this counsel to go and stay in
Britain could have found no better means of wounding me to the
heart. One who loses his heart is wounded to the heart. He who
deserves sorrow ought to have it; but I never deserved it. Alas!
Unhappy that I am! Why, then, has Cliges slain me without any
fault of mine? But in vain do I reproach him; for I have no
grounds for this reproach. Cliges would never, never, have
forsaken me--I know this well--if his heart had been in like case
with mine. In like case I think it is not. And if my heart has
joined itself to his heart, never will it leave it, never will
his go whither without mine; for mine follows him in secret so
close is the comradeship that they have formed. But to tell the
truth the two hearts are very different and contrary. How are
they different and contrary? His is lord, and mine is slave; and
the slave, even against his own will, must do what is for his
lord's good and leave out of sight all else. But what matters it
to me? He cares nought for my heart or for my service. This
division grieves me much; for thus the one heart is lord of the
two. Why cannot mine, all alone, avail as much as his with him?
Thus the two would have been of equal strength. My heart is a
prisoner; for it cannot move unless his moves. And if his wanders
or tarries, mine ever prepares to follow and go after him. God!
Why are not our bodies so near that I could in some way have
fetched my heart back? Have fetched it back? Poor fool! If I were
to take it from where it is lodged so comfortably, I might kill
it by so doing. Let it stay there. Never do I seek to remove it;
rather do I will that it stay with its lord until pity for it
come to him; for rather there than here will he be bound to have
mercy on his servant because the two hearts are in a strange
land. If my heart knows how to serve up flattery as one is bound
to serve it up at court, it will be rich before it returns. He
who wishes to be on good terms with his lord and to sit beside
him on his right, as is now the use and custom, must feign to
pluck the feather from his lord's head, even when there is no
feather there. But here we see an evil trait: when he flatters
him to his face, and yet his lord has in his heart either
baseness or villainy, never will he be so courteous as to tell
him the truth; rather he makes him think and believe that no one
could be a match for him in prowess or in knowledge; and the lord
thinks that the courtier is telling the truth. He who believes
another anent some quality which he does not possess knows
himself ill; for even if he is faithless and stubborn, base and
as cowardly as a hare, niggardly and foolish and malformed,
worthless in deeds and in words, yet many a man who mocks at him
behind his back, extols and praises him to his face; thus then
the courtier praises him in his hearing when he speaks of him to
another; and yet he pretends that the lord does not hear what
they are speaking about together, whereas if he really thought
that the lord did not hear, he would never say aught whereat his
master would rejoice. And if his lord wishes to lie, he is quite
ready with his assent; and whatever his lord says, he asserts to
be true; never will he who associates with courts and lords be
tongue-tied; his tongue must serve them with falsehood. My heart
must needs do likewise if it wishes to have grace of its lord;
let it be a flatterer and cajoler. But Cliges is such a brave
knight, so handsome, so noble, and so loyal, that never will my
heart be lying or false, however much it may praise him; for in
him is nothing that can be mended. Therefore, I will that my
heart serve him; for the peasant says in his proverb: 'He who
commends himself to a good man is base if he does not become
better in his service'." Thus Love works on Fenice. But this
torment is delight to her, for she cannot be wearied by it.

And Cliges has crossed the sea and has come to Wallingford. There
he has demeaned himself in lordly fashion in a fine lodging at a
great cost, but he thinks ever of Fenice; never does he forget
her for an hour. In the place where he sojourns and tarries, his
retinue, as he had commanded, have inquired and questioned
persistently till they heard told and related that the barons of
King Arthur and the king, himself, in person, had set on foot a
tournament in the plains before Oxford which is near Wallingford.
In such wise was the joust arranged that it was to last four
days. But Cliges will be able to take time to arm his body if he
lacks anything meanwhile; for there were more than fifteen whole
days to the tournament. He speedily sends three of his squires to
London, and bids them buy three different sets of armour: one
black, another red, the third green; and as they return he bids
that each set of arms be covered with new canvas, so that if
anyone meets them on the way he may not know what will be the hue
of the arms which they will bring. The squires now set out, 90 to
London, and find ready all such equipment as they seek. Soon had
they finished, soon did they return; they have come back as soon
as they could. They show to Cliges the arms that they had
brought; and he praises them much. With these that the emperor
gave him on the Danube when he dubbed him knight, he has them
stored away and hidden. If anyone now were to ask me why he had
them stored away, I would not answer him; for in due time it will
be told and related to you, when all the high barons of the land
who will come there to gain fame will be mounted on their steeds.
On the day that was devised and appointed, the barons of renown
assemble. King Arthur, together with the lords whom he had chosen
from out the good knights, lay before Oxford. Towards Wallingford
went the greater part of his chivalry. Think not that I tell you
in order to spin out my tale: such and such kings were there,
such and such counts, and such and such others. When the barons
were to meet, a knight of great prowess of King Arthur's peers
rode out all alone between the two ranks to begin the tourney, as
was the custom at that time. But none dares ride forward to come
and joust against him. There is none who does not stay where he
is; and yet there are some who ask: "Why do these knights wait?
Why does none ride forth from the ranks? Surely someone will
straightway begin." And on the other side they say: "See ye not
what a champion our adversaries have sent us from their side? Let
him who has not yet known it know that, of the four bravest
known, this is a pillar equal to the rest." "Who is he, then?"
"See ye him not? It is Sagremors the Lawless." "Is it he?"
"Truly, without doubt." Cliges, who hears and hearkens to this,
sat on Morel, and had armour blacker than a ripe mulberry: his
whole armour was black. He separates himself from the others in
the rank and spurs Morel who comes out of the row; not one is
there who sees him but says to his neighbour: "This man rides
well with feutred lance; here have we a very skilful knight; he
bears his arms in the right fashion; well does the shield at his
neck become him. But one cannot but hold him mad as regards the
joust he has undertaken of his own accord against one of the
bravest known in all this land. But who is he? Of what land is he
a native? Who knows him?" "Not I!" "Nor I!" "But no snow has
fallen on him! Rather is his armour blacker than monk's or
priest's cape." Thus they engage in gossip; and the two champions
let their horses go; for no longer do they delay because right
eager and aflame are they for the encounter and the shock. Cliges
strikes so that he presses Sagremors' shield to his arm, and his
arm to his body. Sagremors falls at full length; Cliges acts
irreproachably, and makes him declare himself prisoner: Sagremors
gives his parole. Now the fight begins, and they charge in
rivalry. Cliges has rushed to the combat, and goes seeking joust
and encounter. He encounters no knight whom he does not take or
lay low. On both sides he wins the highest distinction; for where
he rides to joust, he brings the whole tourney to a standstill.
Yet he who gallops up to joust with him is not without great
prowess; but he wins more renown for standing his ground against
Cliges than for taking prisoner another knight; and if Cliges
leads him away captive, yet he enjoys great distinction for
merely daring to withstand him in the joust. Cliges has the
praise and distinction of the whole tournament. And even secretly
he has returned to his lodging so that none of them might accost
him about one thing or another. And in case any one should have
search made for the lodging marked by the black arms, he locks
them up in a room so that they may neither be found nor seen; and
he has the green arms openly displayed at the door, fronting the
road so that the passers by shall see them. And if any asks for
him and seeks him, he will not know where his lodging will be,
since he will see no sign of the black shield that he seeks. Thus
Cliges is in the town and hides himself by such a device. And
those who were his prisoners went from end to end of the town
asking for the black knight; but none could tell them where he
was. And even King Arthur sends up and down to seek him; but all
say: "We did not see him after we left the tourney and know not
what became of him." More than twenty youths whom the king has
sent seek him; but Cliges has so utterly blotted out his tracks
that they find no sign of him. King Arthur crosses himself when
it was recounted and told him, that neither great nor small is
found who can point out his dwelling any more than if he were at
Qesarea, or at Toledo, or in Candia. "Faith!" quoth he, "I know
not what to say in the matter, but I marvel greatly thereat. It
was perhaps a ghost that has moved among us. Many a knight has he
overthrown today; and he bears away the parole of the noblest men
who will not this year see home or land or country; and each of
whom will have broken his oath." Thus the king spake his pleasure
though he might very well have kept silence in the matter.

Much have all the barons spoken that night of the black knight,
for they spoke of nought else. On the morrow they returned to
arms, all without summons and without entreaty. Lancelot of the
Lake has dashed forth to make the first joust; for no coward is
he; with upright lance he awaits the joust. Lo! Cliges, greener
than meadow grass, galloping on a dun, long-maned steed. Where
Cliges pricks on the tawny steed, there is none, whether decked
with youth's luxuriant locks or bald, who does not behold him
with wonder; and they say on both sides: "This man is in all
respects much nobler and more skilful than he of yesterday with
the black arms, just as the pine is fairer than the beech, and
the laurel than the elder. But not yet have we learned who he of
yesterday was; but we will learn this very day who this one is.
If anyone know it, let him tell us." Each said: "I know him not,
never did I see him before to my thinking. But he is fairer than
the knight of yesterday and fairer than Lancelot of the Lake. If
he were arrayed in a sack and Lancelot in silver and gold, yet
this man would still be fairer." Thus all side with Cliges; and
the two prick their steeds as fast as they can spur and encounter
one another. Cliges proceeds to deal such a blow on the golden
shield with the painted lion, that he hurls its bearer from the
saddle and fell on him in order to receive his submission.
Lancelot could not defend himself and has given his parole. Then
the noise and the din and the crash of lances has begun. Those
who were on Cliges' side have all their trust in him; for he whom
he strikes after due challenge given will never be so strong but
that he must needs fall from his horse to the ground. Cliges,
this day, wrought so bravely, and threw down and captured so
many, that he has pleased those on his side twice as much, and
has had twice as much praise from them as he had the day before.
When evening has come he has repaired to his lodging as quickly
as he could; and speedily bids the red shield and the other
armour be brought forth. He orders that the arms which he bore
that day be stowed away; the landlord has carefully done it. Long
have the knights whom he had captured sought him that night
Again; but no news do they hear of him. The greater part of those
who speak of him at the inns laud and praise him.

Next day the knights return to arms, alert and strong. From the
array before Oxford rides out a knight of great renown; Percival
the Welshman, was he called. As soon as Cliges saw him ride forth
and heard the truth as to his name--for he heard him called
Percival--he greatly longs to encounter him. Forthwith has he
ridden forth from the rank on a sorrel, Spanish steed; and his
armour was red. Then they, one and all, regard him with great
wonder, more than they ever did before and say that never before
did they see so comely a knight. And the two prick forward at
once; for there was no delay. And the one and the other spurs on
so that they give and take mighty blows on their shields. The
lances, which were short and thick, bend and curve. In the sight
of all who were looking on, Cliges has struck Percival, so that
he smites him down from his horse, and makes him give parole
without much fighting, and without great ado. When Percival had
submitted, then they have begun the tourney; and they all
encounter together. Cliges encounters no knight but he fells him
to the ground. On this day one could not see him a single hour
absent from the fight. Each for himself strikes a blow at Cliges
as though at a tower: not merely two or three strike, for then
that was not the use or custom. Cliges has made an anvil of his
shield; for all play the smith and hammer upon it and cleave and
quarter it; but none strikes upon it but Cliges pays him back,
and throws him from his stirrups and saddle; and no one, except a
man who wished to lie, could have said on his departure that the
knight with the red shield had not won that whole day. And the
best and most courteous would fain have his acquaintances, but
that cannot be so soon; for he has gone away, secretly, when he
saw that the sun had set; and he has had his red shield and all
his other armour taken away; and he has the white arms brought in
which he had been newly knighted; and the arms and the steed were
placed in front of the door. But now they begin to perceive (for
the greater part who speak of it say so, and perceive it to be
so), that they have all been discomfited, and put to flight by a
single man, who each day changes his outward show, both horse and
armour, and seems another than himself; they have now for the
first time perceived it. And my lord Gawain has said that never
before did he see such a jouster; and because he would fain have
his acquaintance and know his name, he says that he will be first
tomorrow at the encounter of the knights. But he makes no boast;
rather he says that he thinks and believes that Cliges will have
the best of it and will win the renown when they strike with
lances; but with the sword, perhaps, Cliges will not be his
master; for never could Gawain find his master. Now will he prove
himself tomorrow on the strange knight, who every day dons
different armour and changes horse and harness. Soon he will be a
bird of many moltings if thus daily he makes a practice of taking
off his old feathers and putting on new ones. And thus Gawain too
doffed his armour, and put on other, and the morrow he sees
Cliges return, whiter than lily-flower, his shield held by the
straps behind it, on his trusty, white, Arab steed, as he had
devised the night before. Gawain, the valiant, the renowned, has
not gone to sleep on the field; but pricks, and spurs, and
advances, and puts forth all his utmost efforts to joust well if
he finds any with whom to joust. Soon both will be on the field
for Cliges had no wish to delay; for he had heard the murmur of
those who say: "It is Gawain who is no weakling, afoot or on
horseback. It is he with whom none dares to measure himself."
Cliges, who hears the words, charges into the middle of the field
towards him; both advance and encounter with a spring more swift
than that of a stag who hears the baying of dogs barking after
him. The lances strike on the shields; and so mighty is the
crash of the blows, that to their very ends they shatter into
splinters, and split, and go to pieces; and the saddle-bows
behind, break; moreover, the saddle-girth and breast harness
burst. They both alike fall to the ground and have drawn their
naked swords. The folk have pressed round to behold the battle.
King Arthur came in front of all to separate and reconcile them;
but they had broken and hewn in pieces the white hauberks, and
had cleft through and cut up the shields, and had fractured the
helmets before there was any talk of peace.

The king had gazed at them as long a time as it pleased him; and
so did many of the others who said that they esteemed the white
knight no whit less in arms than my lord Gawain; and up till now
they could not say which was the better, which the worse, nor
which would overcome the other if they were allowed to fight till
the battle was fought out. But it does not please or suit the
king that they do more than they have done. He advances to part
them and says to them: "Withdraw! If another blow be struck, it
will be to your harm. But make peace. Be friends. Fair nephew
Gawain, I entreat you; for it does not become a valiant man to
continue a battle or fight where he has no quarrel or hatred. But
if this knight would come to my court to pass his time with us,
it would be no grievance or hurt to him. Pray him to do so,
nephew." "Willingly, Sire." Cliges seeks not to excuse himself
from this; willingly he consents to go thither when the tourney
shall end; for now he has carried out to the uttermost his
father's command. And the king says that he cares not for a
tournament which lasts long; well may they straightway leave it.
The knights have dispersed, for the king wishes and commands it.
Cliges sends for all his armour, for it behoves him to follow the
king. With all speed he may have, he comes to the court; but he
was attired well beforehand and garbed after the French fashion.

As soon as he came to court each hastens to meet him, for neither
one nor the other remains behind; rather they manifest the
greatest possible joy and festivity. And all those whom he had
taken in the jousting acclaim him lord; but it is his wish to
disclaim it to all of them; and he says, that if they think and
believe that it was he who took them, they are all absolved of
their pledge. There is not a single one who did not say: "It was
you, well we know it. We prize highly your acquaintance, and much
ought we to love you, and esteem you, and acclaim you, lord, for
none of us is a match for you. Just as the sun puts out the
little stars, so that their light is not visible in the clouds
where the rays of the sun shine forth, so our deeds pale and wane
before yours; and yet our deeds were wont to be greatly renowned
throughout the world." Cliges knows not what reply to make to
them; for it seems to him that one and all of them praise him
more than they ought. Though it is very pleasant to him yet he is
ashamed of it. The blood rises into his face, so that they see
him all ashamed. They escort him through the hall, and have led
him before the king; but they all cease to address to him the
language of praise and flattery. Now was it the set hour for
eating, and those whose business it was, hastened to set the
tables. They have set the tables in the palace: some have taken
napkins, and others hold basins and give water to those who come.
All have washed; all are seated. The king has taken Cliges by the
hand and set him before him; for fain will he know this very day
who he is, if at all he may. No need is there to speak of the
food, for the dishes were as plentiful as though one could have
purchased an ox for a farthing.

When all had had their meat and drink, then has the king no
longer kept silence. "Friend," quoth he, "I would know if it is
from pride that you forbore and disdained to come to my court as
soon as you entered this land, and why you thus withdraw yourself
from folk and change your arms. Now impart to me your name, and
say of what race you are born." Cliges replies: "Never shall it
be concealed." He has told and related to the king whatsoever he
demands from him; and when the king has learned his name then he
embraces him; then he rejoices over him; there is none who does
not greet him in clue form. And my Lord Gawain knew him, who,
above all, embraces and greets him. All greet him and fall on his
neck; and all those who speak of him say that he is right fair
and valiant. The king loves him and honours him more than any of
all his nephews.

Cliges stays with the king until the beginning of summer; by that
time he has been over all Britain and over France and over
Normandy, and has wrought many a knightly deed, so that he has
well proved himself. But the love with which he is wounded grows
neither lighter nor easier. The wish of his heart keeps him ever
constant to one thought: he remembers Fenice who far from him is
torturing her heart. A longing seizes him to return home; for too
long has he abstained from seeing the lady more yearned for than
any lady, that ever heard of man has yearned for. And he will not
abstain longer from her. He prepares for the journey to Greece;
he has taken leave and returns. Much, I ween, did it grieve my
lord Gawain and the king when they can no longer keep him. But he
longs to reach her whom he loves and desires; and he hastens o'er
sea and land; and the way seems very long to him, so eagerly does
he yearn to see her who takes away and purloins his heart from
him. But she yields him a fair return; and well does she pay and
compensate him for the toll she has extorted from him; for she in
her turn gives her own heart in payment to him, whom she loves no
less. But he is not a whit certain about it; never had he pledge
or promise in the matter; and he grieves cruelly. And she also
laments; for her love of him is tormenting and killing her; and
nothing can give pleasure or joy in her eyes since that hour when
she ceased to see him. She does not even know if he is alive,
whereof great sorrow strikes her to the heart. But Cliges gets
nearer each day, and in his journey he has had good luck; for he
has had a fair wind and calm weather, and has anchored with joy
and delight before Constantinople. The news reached the city; it
was welcome to the emperor and a hundred times more welcome to
the empress. If anyone doubt this it will be to his own sorrow.
Cliges and his company have repaired to Greece, straight to the
port of Constantinople. All the most powerful and noble come to
the port to meet him. And when the emperor who had advanced in
front of all meets him, and the empress who walks by his side,
the emperor, before all, runs to fall on his neck and to greet
him. And when Fenice greets him, the one changes colour because
of the other; and the marvel is how when they come close to each
other they keep from embracing and kissing each other with such
kisses as please Love. But folly would it have been and madness.
The folk run up in all directions and delight to see him. They
all lead him through the midst of the town, some on foot and some
on horseback, as far as the imperial palace. Of the joy that
there was made will never word here be told, nor of the honour,
nor of the homage; but each has striven to do whatever he thinks
and believes will please Cliges and be welcome to him. And his
uncle yields to him all that he has save the crown. He is right
willing that Cliges take at his pleasure whatsoever he shall wish
to obtain from him, be it land or treasure; but Cliges makes no
account of silver or of gold, since he dare not disclose his
thought to her for whom he loses his rest; and yet he has leisure
and opportunity for telling her if only he were not afraid of
being refused; for every day he can see her and sit alone by her
side without anyone gainsaying or forbidding; for nobody imagines
or thinks evil of it.

A space of time after he had returned, one day he came unattended
into the room of her who was not forsooth his enemy, and be well
assured that the door was not shut against the meeting. He was
close by her side and all the rest had gone away, so that no one
was sitting near them who could hear their words. Fenice first of
all questioned him about Britain. She asks him concerning the
disposition and courtesy of my lord Gawain, and at last she
ventures to speak of what she dreaded. She asked him if he loved
dame or maiden in that land. To this Cliges was not unwilling or
slow to reply. Quickly was he able to explain all to her, as soon
as she challenged him on the point. "Lady," quoth he, "I was in
love while yonder; but I loved none who was of yonder land. In
Britain my body was without a heart like bark without timber.
When I left Germany, I knew not what became of my heart, save
that it went away hither after you. Here was my heart and there
my body. I was not absent from Greece, for my heart had gone
thither, and to reclaim it have I come back here; but it neither
comes nor returns to me, and I cannot bring it back to me, and
yet I seek it not and cannot do so. And how have you fared since
you have come into this land? What joy have you had here? Do the
people, does the land please you? I ought to ask you nothing
further save this--whether the land please you." "Formerly it
pleased me not; but now there dawns for me a joy and a pleasure
that I would not lose, be assured, for Pavia or for Placentia;
for I cannot dissever my heart from it, nor shall I ever use
force to do so. In me is there nought save the bark, for without
my heart I live and have my being. Never was I in Britain, and
yet my heart has made I know not what contract in Britain without
me." "Lady, when was your heart there? Tell me when it went, at
what time and at what season, if it is a matter that you can
reasonably tell me or another. Was it there when I was there?"
"Yes, but you knew it not. It was there as long as you were there
and departed with you." "God! and I neither knew nor saw it
there. God! why did I know it not? If I had known it, certainly,
lady, I would have borne it good company." "Much would you have
comforted me and well would it have become you to do so, for I
would have been very gracious to your heart, if it had pleased it
to come there where it might have known me to be." "Of a surety,
lady, it came to you." "To me? Then it came not into exile, for
mine also went to you." "Lady, then are both our hearts here with
us as you say; for mine is wholly yours." "Friend, and you on
your side have mine, and so we are well matched. And know well
that, so may God guard me, never had your uncle share in me, for
neither did it please me nor was it permitted to him. Never yet
did he know me as Adam knew his wife. Wrongly am I called dame;
but I know well that he who calls me dame knows not that I am a
maid. Even your uncle knows it not, for he has drunk of the
sleeping draught and thinks he is awake when he sleeps, and he
deems that he has his joy of me, just as he fain would have it,
and just as though I were lying between his arms; but well have I
shut him out. Yours is my heart, yours is my body, nor indeed
will any one by my example learn to act vilely; for when my heart
set itself on you, it gave and promised you my body, so that
nobody else shall have a share in it. Love for you so wounded me
that never did I think to recover any more than the sea can dry
up. If I love you and you love me, never shall you be called
Tristram, and never shall I be Iseult, for then the love would
not be honourable. But I make you a vow that never shall you have
other solace of me than you now have, if you cannot bethink
yourself how I may be stolen from your uncle and from his bed, so
that he may never find me again, or be able to blame either you
or me or have anything he may lay hold of herein. To-night must
you bend your attention to the matter and to-morrow you will be
able to tell me the best device that you will have thought of,
and I also will ponder on the matter. To-morrow, when I shall
have risen, come early to speak to me, and each will say his
thought, and we will carry out that which we shall consider

When Cliges heard her wish, he has granted her all, and says that
it shall be right well done. He leaves her blithe, and blithe he
goes away, and each lies awake in bed all night and they think
with great delight over what seems best to them. The morrow they
come again together, as soon as they were risen, and they took
counsel in private, as there was need for them to do. First
Cliges says and recounts what he had thought of in the night.
"Lady," quoth he, "I think and believe that we could not do
better than go away to Britain: thither have I devised to take
you away. Now take heed that the matter fall not through on your
side. For never was Helen received at Troy with such great joy,
when Paris had brought her thither, that there will not be yet
greater joy felt throughout the whole land of the king, my uncle,
anent you and me. And if this please you not well, tell me your
thought; for I am ready, whatever come of it, to cleave to your
thought." She replies: "And I shall speak it. Never will I go
with you thus, for then, when we had gone away, we should be
spoken of throughout the world as the blonde Iseult and Tristram
are spoken of; but here and there all women and men would blame
our happiness. No one would believe or could be expected to
believe the actual truth of the matter. Who would believe then as
regards your uncle that I have gone off and escaped from him
still a maid, but a maid to no purpose? Folk would hold me a
light-of-love and a wanton, and you a madman. But it is meet to
keep and observe the command of St. Paul, for St. Paul teaches
him who does not wish to remain continent to act so wisely that
he may never incur outcry nor blame nor reproach. It is well to
stop an evil mouth, and this I think I can fully accomplish, if
it be not too grievous for you; for if I act as my thought
suggests to me, I will pretend to be dead. I will shortly feign
sickness, and do you on your side lavish your pains to provide
for my tomb. Set your attention and care on this, that both tomb
and bier be made in such fashion that I die not there nor
suffocate, and let no one perceive you that night when you will
be ready to take me away. And you will find me a refuge, such
that never any save you may see me; and let no one provide me
with anything of which I have need or requirement, save you to
whom I grant and give myself. Never in all my life do I seek to
be served by any other man. You will be my lord and my servant,
good will be to me whatsoever you will do to me, nor shall I ever
be lady of the empire, if you be not lord of it. A poor, dark,
and sordid place will be to me more splendid than all these
halls, when you shall be together with me. If I have you and see
you, I shall be lady of all the wealth in the world, and the
whole world will be mine. And if the thing is done wisely, never
will it be interpreted ill, and none will ever be able to point
the finger of scorn at me, for through the whole empire folk will
believe that I have rotted in the grave. And Thessala, my nurse,
who has brought me up and in whom I have great trust, will aid me
in good faith, for she is very wise and I have great confidence
in her." And Cliges, when he heard his love, replies: "Lady, if
so it can be, and if you think that your nurse is likely to
counsel you rightly in the matter, all you have to do is to make
preparations and to carry them out speedily; but if we act not
wisely, we are lost beyond recovery. In this town there is a
craftsman who carves and works in wood wondrous well; there is no
land where he is not famed for the works of art that he has made
and carved and shaped. John is his name, and he is my serf. No
handicraft is there, however peculiar it be, in which anyone
could rival him, if John set his mind to it with a will. For
compared with him they are all novices like a child at nurse. It
is by imitating his works that the inhabitants of Antioch and of
Rome have learned to do whatever they can accomplish, and no more
loyal man is known. But now will I put him to the test, and if I
can find loyalty in him, I will free him and all his heirs, and I
will not fail to tell him our plan, if he swears and vows to me
that he will aid me loyally therein and will never betray me in
this matter." She replies: "Now be it so."

By her leave Cliges came forth from the chamber and departed. And
she sends for Thessala, her nurse, whom she had brought from the
land where she was born. And Thessila came forthwith, for she
neither lingers nor delays: but she knows not why her mistress
sends for her. Fenice asks her in private conference what she
counsels and what seems good to her. She neither hides nor
conceals from Thessala even the smallest part of her thought.
"Nurse," says she, "I know well that never a thing that I tell
you will afterwards become known through you, for I have proved
you right well and have found you very wise. You have done so
much for me that I love you. Of all my evils I complain to you,
nor do I take counsel elsewhere. You know well why I lie awake
and what I think and what I wish. My eyes can see nothing to
please me, save one thing, but I shall have from it neither
enjoyment nor comfort, if I do not pay very dearly for it
beforehand. And yet I have found my mate; for if I desire him,
he, on his side, desires me too; if I grieve, he, on his side,
grieves with my sorrow and my anguish. Now I must confess to you
a thought and a parley, in which we two in solitude have resolved
and agreed." Then she has told and related to her that she
intends to feign herself ill, and says that she will complain so
much that finally she will appear dead, and Cliges will steal her
away in the night, and they will be always henceforth together.
In no other way, it seems to her, could she continue firm in her
resolve. But if she were assured that Thessala would help her in
it, the thing could be done according to her wish; "But too long
do joy and good fortune for me delay and tarry." Forthwith her
nurse assures her that she will lend all her aid to the
enterprise, let her now have neither fear nor dread in regard to
aught; and she says she will take so much pains about the matter,
as soon as she shall undertake it, that never will there be any
man who sees her who will not believe quite surely that her soul
is severed from the body, when Thessala shall have given her a
drink that will make her cold and wan and pale and stiff, without
speech and without breath; and yet she will be quite alive and
sound, and will feel neither good nor ill, nor will she suffer
any harm during a day and a whole night in the tomb and in the

When Fenice had heard it, thus has she spoken and replied:
"Nurse, I put myself in your care, I give you free leave to do
what you will with me. I am at your disposal; think for me, and
bid the folk here that there be none who does not go away. I am
ill and they disturb me." The nurse tells them courteously: "My
lords, my lady is unwell and wishes you all to go away, for you
speak too much and make too much noise, and noise is bad for her.
She will have neither rest nor case as long as you are in this
room. Never heretofore that I remember had she illness of which I
heard her complain so much, so very great and grievous is her
sickness. Depart, and it vex you not." They speedily go, one and
all, as soon as Thessala had commanded it. And Cliges has quickly
sent for John to his lodging, and has said to him privily: "John,
knowest thou what I will say? Thou art my serf, I am thy lord,
and I Can give thee or sell thee and take thy body and thy goods
as a thing that is my own. But if I could trust thee concerning
an affair of mine that I am thinking of, thou wouldst for
evermore be free, and likewise the heirs which shall be born of
thee." John, who much desires freedom, forthwith replies: "Sir,"
says he, "there is no thing that I would not do wholly at your
will, provided that thereby I might see myself free and my wife
and children free. Tell me your will; never will there be
anything so grievous that it will be toil or punishment to me,
nor will it be any burden to me. And were it not so, yet it will
behove me to do it even against my will, and set aside all my own
business." "True, John, but it is such a thing that my mouth dare
not speak it, unless thou warrant me and swear to me, and unless
thou altogether assure me that thou wilt faithfully aid me and
will never betray me." "Willingly, Sir," quoth John, "never be
doubtful of that. For this I swear you and warrant you that as
long as I shall be a living man I will never say aught that I
think will grieve or vex you." "Ah, John! not even on pain of
death is there a man to whom I should dare to say that concerning
which I wish to seek counsel of thee; rather would I let my eyes
be plucked out. Rather would I that thou shouldst kill me than
that thou shouldst say it to any other man. But I find thee so
loyal and prudent, that I will tell thee what is in my heart.
Thou wilt accomplish my pleasure well, as I think, as regards
both thy aid and thy silence." "Truly, Sir! so aid me God!"
Forthwith Cliges relates to him and tells him the enterprise
quite openly. And when he has disclosed to him the truth, as ye
know it who have heard me tell it, then John says that he
promises him to make the tomb well and put therein his best
endeavour, and says that he will take him to see a house of his
own building, and he will show him this that he has made, which
never any man, woman, or child yet saw, if it pleases him to go
with him there where he is working and painting and carving all
by himself without any other folk. He will show him the fairest
and most beautiful place that he ever saw. Cliges replies: "Let
us then go."

Below the town in a sequestered spot had John built a tower, and
he had toiled with great wisdom. Thither has he led Cliges with
him, and leads him over the rooms, which were adorned with images
fair and finely painted. He shows him the rooms and the
fireplaces, and leads him up and down. Cliges sees the house to
be lonely, for no one stays or dwells there. He passes from one
room to another till he thinks to have seen all, and the tower
has pleased him well, and he said that it was very beautiful. The
lady will be safe there all the days that she will live; for no
man will ever know her to be there. "No, truly, lord, she will
never be known to be here. But think you to have seen all my
tower and all my pleasaunce? Still are there lurking-places such
as no man would be able to find. And if it is allowed you to try
your skill in searching as well as you can, never will you be
able to ransack so thoroughly as to find more rooms here, however
subtle and wise you are, if I do not show and point them out to
you. Know that here baths are not lacking, nor anything that I
remember and think of as suitable for a lady. She will be well at
her ease here. This tower has a wider base underground, as you
shall see, and never will you be able to find anywhere door or
entrance. With such craft and such art is the door made of hard
stone that never will you find the join thereof." "Now hear I
marvel," quoth Cliges; "go forward; I shall follow, for I long to
see all this." Then has John started off, and leads Cliges by the
hand to a smooth and polished door, which is all painted and
coloured. At the wall has John stopped, and he held Cliges by the
right hand. "Lord," quoth he, "no man is there who could have
seen door or window in this wall, and think you that one could
pass it in any wise without doing it injury and harm?" Cliges
answers that he does not think he could, nor ever will think it,
unless he sees it with his own eyes. Then says John that his lord
shall see it, for he will open for him the door of the wall.
John, who himself had wrought the work, unlocks and opens to him
the door of the wall, so that he neither hurts it nor injures it,
and the one passes before the other, and they descend by a spiral
staircase to a vaulted room where John wrought at his craft, when
it was his pleasure to construct aught. "Lord," quoth he, "here
where we are was never one of all the men whom God created save
us two; and the place has all that makes for comfort, as you will
see in a trice. I advise that your retreat be here, and that your
lady-love be hidden in it. Such a lodging is meet for such a
guest, for there are rooms and baths and in the baths hot water,
which comes through a pipe below the earth. That man who would
seek a convenient spot to place and hide his lady would have to
go far before he found one so delightful. You will deem it a very
fitting refuge when you have been all over it." Then has John
shown him all, fair chambers and painted vaults, and he has shown
him much of his workmanship, which pleased him mightily. When
they had seen the whole tower, then said Cliges: "John, my
friend, I free you and your heirs one and all, and I am wholly
yours. I desire that my lady be here all alone, and that no one
ever know it save me and you and her, and not another soul." John
replies: "I thank you. Now we have been here long enough, now we
have no more to do, so let us start on the return journey." "You
have said well," Cliges replies, "let us depart." Then they turn
and have issued forth from the tower. On their return they hear
in the town how one tells another in confidence: "You know not
the grave news about my lady the empress. May the Holy Spirit
give health to the wise and noble lady, for she lies in very
great sickness."

When Cliges hears the report, he went to the court at full speed;
but neither joy nor pleasure was there; for all were sad and
dejected on account of the empress, who feigns herself ill;
feigns--for the evil whereof she complains gives her no pain or
hurt; she has said to all that as long as the malady whereby her
heart and head feel pain holds her so strongly, she will have no
man save the emperor or his nephew enter her chamber; for she
will not deny herself to them; though if the emperor, her lord,
come not, little will it irk her. She must needs risk great
suffering and great peril for Cliges' sake, but it weighs on her
heart that he comes not; she desires to see naught save him.
Cliges will soon be in her presence and stay there till he shall
have related to her what he has seen and found. He comes before
her and has told her; but he remained there a short time only,
for Fenice, in order that people may think that what pleases her
annoys her, has said aloud: "Away! Away! You tire me greatly, you
weary me much; for I am so oppressed with sickness that never
shall I be raised from it and restored to health." Cliges, whom
this greatly pleases, goes away, making a doleful
countenance--for never before did you see it so doleful.
Outwardly he appears full sad; but his heart is blithe within,
for it looks to have its joy.

The empress, without having any illness, complains and feigns
herself ill; and the emperor, who believes her, ceases not to
make lamentation, and sends to seek leeches for her; but she will
not let that one see her, nor does she let herself be touched.
This grieves the emperor, for she says that never will she have
leech except one, who will know how to give her health quickly,
when it shall be his will. He will make her die or live; into his
keeping she puts herself for health and for life. They think that
she is speaking of God, but a very different meaning has she, for
she means none other than Cliges. He is her God, who can give her
health and who can make her die.

Thus the empress provides that no leech attend her, and she will
not eat or drink, in order the better to deceive the emperor,
until she is both pale and wan all over. And her nurse stays near
her, who with very wondrous craft sought secretly through all the
town, so that no one knew it, until she found a woman sick of a
mortal sickness without cure. In order the better to carry out
the deception, she went often to visit her and promised her that
she would cure her of her ill, and each day she would bring a
glass to see her water, till she saw that medicine would no
longer be able to aid her and that she would die that very day.
She has brought this water and has kept it straitly until the
emperor rose. Now she goes before him and says to him: "If you
will, sire, send for all your leeches, for my lady, who is
suffering from a sore sickness, has passed water and wishes that
the leeches see it, but that they come not in her presence." The
leeches came into the hall; they see the water very bad and pale,
and each says what seems to him the truth, till they all agree
together that never will she recover, and will not even see the
hour of None, and if she lives so long, then at the latest God
will take her soul to himself. This have they murmured secretly.
Then the emperor has bidden and conjured them that they tell the
truth of the matter. They reply that they have no hope at all of
her recovery, and that she cannot pass the hour of None, for
before that hour she will have given up the ghost. When the
emperor has heard the word, scarcely can he refrain from swooning
to the ground, and likewise many a one of the others who heard
it. Never did any folk make such mourning as then prevailed
through all the palace. I spare you the account of the mourning,
and you shall hear what Thessala is about, who mixes and brews
the draught. She has mixed and stirred it, for long beforehand
she had provided herself with all that she knew was needed for
the draught. A little before the hour of None she gives her the
draught to drink. As soon as she had drunk it, her sight grew
dim, and her face was as pale and white as if she had lost her
blood, nor would she have moved hand or foot even if one had
flayed her alive; she neither stirs nor says a word, and yet she
hearkens to and hears the mourning which the emperor makes, and
the wailing with which the hall is full. And o'er all the city
the folk wail who weep and say: "God! what a sorrow and a
calamity has accursed death dealt us! Greedy death! Covetous
death! Death is worse than any she-wolf, for death cannot be
sated. Never couldst thou give a worse wound to the world. Death,
what hast thou done? May God confound thee who hast extinguished
all beauty. Thou hast slain the choicest creature and the fairest
picture--if she had but remained alive!--that God ever laboured
to fashion. Too patient is God, since He suffers thee to have the
power to ruin His handiwork. Now should God be wroth with thee
and cast thee forth from thy dominion, for thou hast committed
too wanton and great arrogance and great insult." Thus all the
people storm, they wring their hands and beat their palms, and
the clerks read there their psalms, who pray for the good lady
that God may show mercy to her soul.

Amid the tears and the wails, as the writings tell us, have come
three aged physicians from Salerno, where they had been a long
time. They have stopped on account of the great mourning, and ask
and inquire the reason of the wails and tears, why folk are thus
demented and distressed. And they tell them and reply: "God!
Lords, know ye not? At this ought the whole world, each place in
turn, to become frenzied together with us, if it knew the great
mourning and grief and hurt and the great loss which this day has
opened to our ken. God! whence then are you come, since you know
not what has happened but now in the city? We will tell you the
truth, for we wish to join you with us in the mourning wherewith
we mourn. Know you nought of ravenous death, who desires all and
covets all and in all places lies in wait for the best, and how
great an act of folly he hath to-day committed, as he is wont?
God had lit the world with a brilliance, with a light. But Death
cannot choose but do what he is wont to do. Ever with his might
he blots out the best that he can find. Now doth he will to prove
his power, and has taken in one body more worth than he has left
in the world. If he had taken the whole world, he could not have
done one whit worse, provided that he left alive and sound that
prey whom he now leads away. Beauty, courtesy, and knowledge, and
whatsoever appertaining to goodness a lady can have, has Death,
who has destroyed all good in the person of my lady the empress,
snatched from us and cheated us of. Thus hath Death slain us."
"Ah, God!" say the leeches, "thou hatest this city, we know it
well, for that we came not here a little space ago. If we had
come yesterday, Death might have esteemed himself highly, if he
had taken aught from us by force." "Lords, my lady would not for
aught have allowed that you should have seen her or troubled
yourself about her. There were enough and to spare of good
leeches, but never did my lady please that one or other of them
should see her who could meddle with her illness." "No?" "By my
faith, that did she truly not." Then they remembered Solomon, and
that his wife hated him so much that she betrayed him under a
pretence of death. Perhaps this lady has done the same thing; but
if they could by any means succeed in touching her, there is no
man born for whose sake they would have lied or would refrain
from speaking the whole truth about it, if they can see deceit
there. Towards the court they go forthwith, where one would not
have heard God thundering, such noise and wailing there was. The
master of them, who knew the most, has approached the bier. None
says to him: "You touch it at your peril." Nor does any one pull
him back from it. And he puts his hand on her breast and on her
side and feels beyond a doubt that she has her life whole in her
body; well he knows it and well he perceives it. He sees before
him the emperor, who is frenzied and readv to kill himself with
grief. He cries aloud and says to him: "Emperor, comfort thyself.
I know and see for a certainty that this lady is not dead. Leave
thy mourning and console thyself. If I give her not back to thee
alive, either slay me or hang me." Now all the wailing throughout
the palace is calmed and hushed, and the emperor tells the leech
that now it is permitted him to give orders and to speak his will
quite freely. If he brings back the empress to life, he will be
lord and commander over him; but he will be hanged as a robber,
if he has lied to him in aught. And he says to him: "I accept the
condition; never have mercy on me, if I do not make the lady here
speak to you. Without hesitation or delay have the palace cleared
for me. Let not one or another stay here. I must see privately
the evil from which the lady suffers. These two leeches alone,
who are of my company, shall stay here with me, and let all the
others go without." This thing Cliges, John, and Thessala would
have gainsaid: but all those who were there would have
interpreted it to their harm, if they had attempted to prevent
it. Therefore they keep silence and give the counsel that they
hear the others give, and have gone forth from the palace. And
the three leeches have by force ripped up the lady's
winding-sheet, for there was neither knife nor scissors: then
they say: "Lady, have no fear, be not dismayed, but speak in all
safety. We know for a surety that you are quite sound and well.
Now be wise and amenable, and despair of nought; for if you seek
advice from us, we will assure you all three of us, that we will
help you with all our power, where it be concerning good or
concerning evil. We will be right loyal towards you, both in
keeping your secret and in aiding you. Do not compel us to reason
long with you. From the moment that we place our power and
services at your disposal, you ought not to refuse us
compliance." Thus they think to befool and to cheat her, but it
avails nought; for she cares and recks nought of their service,
so that when the physicians see that they will avail nothing with
regard to her by cajolery or by entreaty, then they take her off
the bier and strike her and beat her; but their fury is to no
purpose, since for all this they draw not a word from her. Then
they threaten and frighten her and say that, if she does not
speak, she will that very day find out the folly of her action;
for they will inflict on her such dire treatment that never
before was its like inflicted on any body of caitiff woman. "Well
we know that you are alive and do not deign to speak to us. Well
we know that you are feigning and would have deceived the
emperor. Have no fear of us at all. But if any man has angered
you, disclose your folly, before we have further wounded you, for
you are acting very basely; and we will aid you, alike in wisdom
or in folly." It cannot be, it avails them nought. Then once more
they deal her blows on the back with their straps, and the
stripes that run downwards become visible, and so much do they
beat her tender flesh that they make the blood gush out from it.
When they have beaten her with straps till they have lacerated
her flesh, and till the blood which issues through her wounds
runs down from them, and when for all that they can do nothing
nor extort sigh or word promise her; they are meddling to no
purpose. And from her, and she never moves nor stirs, then they
tell her that they must seek fire and lead, and that they will
melt it and will pour it into her palms rather than fail to make
her speak. They seek and search for fire and lead; they kindle
the fire; they melt the lead. Thus the base villains maltreat and
torture the lady, for they have poured into her palms the lead,
all boiling and hot just as they have taken it from the fire. Nor
yet is it enough for them that the lead has passed through and
through the palms, but the reprobate villains say that, if she
speak not soon, straightway they will roast her till she is all
grilled. She is silent and forbids them not to beat or ill-treat
her flesh. And even now they were about to put her to the fire to
roast and grill, when more than a thousand of the ladies, who
were in front of the palace, come to the door and see through a
tiny chink the torture and the unhappy fate that they were
preparing for the lady, for they were making her suffer martyrdom
from the coal and from the flame. To break in the door and
shatter it they bring hatchets and hammers. Great was the din and
the attack to break and smash the door. If now they can lay hold
on the leeches, without delay all their desert shall be rendered
them. The ladies enter the palace all together with one bound,
and Thessala is among the press, whose one anxiety is to get to
her lady. She finds her all naked at the fire, much injured and
much mishandled. She has laid her back on the bier and covered
her beneath the pall. And the ladies proceed to tender and pay to
the three leeches their deserts; they would not send for or await
emperor or seneschal. They have hurled them down through the
windows full into the court, so that they have broken the necks
and ribs and arms and legs of all three; better never wrought any
ladies. Now the three leeches have received from the ladies right
sorry payment for their deeds; but Cliges is much dismayed and
has great grief, when he hears tell of the great agony and the
torture that his lady has suffered for him. Almost does he lose
his reason; for he fears greatly and indeed with justice--that
she may be killed or maimed by the torture caused her by the
three leeches, who have died in consequence; and he is despairing
and disconsolate. And Thessala comes bringing a very precious
salve with which she has anointed full gently the lady's body and
wounds. The ladies have enshrouded her again in a white Syrian
pall, wherein they had shrouded her before, but they leave her
face uncovered. Never that night do they abate their wailing or
cease or make an end thereof. Through all the town they wail like
folk demented-high and low, and poor and rich-and it seems that
each sets his will on outdoing all the others in making
lamentation, and on never abandoning it of his own will. All
night is the mourning very great. On the morrow John came to
court, and the emperor sends for him and bids him, requests and
commands him: "John! if ever thou madest a good work, now set all
thy wisdom and thy invention to making a tomb, such that one
cannot find one so fair and well decorated." And John, who had
already done it, says that he has prepared a very fair and
well-carved one; but never, when he began to make it, had he
intention that any body should be laid there save a holy one.
"Now, let the empress be enclosed within in lieu of relics; for
she is, I ween, a very holy thing." "Well said," quoth the
emperor, "in the minster of my lord Saint Peter shall she be
buried, there outside where one buries other bodies; for before
she died, she begged and prayed me with all her heart that I
would have her laid there. Now go and busy yourself about it, and
set your tomb, as is right and meet, in the fairest place in the
cemetery." John replies: "Gladly, sire." Forthwith John departs,
prepares well the tomb, and did thereat what a master of his
craft would do. Because the stone was hard, and even more on
account of the cold, he has placed therein a feather bed; and
moreover, that it may smell sweet to her, he has strewn thereon
both flowers and foliage. But he did it even more for this, that
none should spy the mattress that he had placed in the grave. Now
had the whole office been said in chapels and in parish churches,
and they were continually tolling as it is meet to toll for the
dead. They bid the body be brought, and it will be placed in the
tomb, whereat John has worked to such effect that he has made it
very magnificent and splendid. In all Constantinople has been
left neither great nor small who does not follow the corpse
weeping, and they curse and revile Death; knights and squires
swoon, and the dames and the maidens beat their breasts and have
railed against Death. "Death!" quoth each, "why took'st thou not
a ransom for my lady? Forsooth, but a small booty hast thou
gained, and for us the loss is great." And Cliges, of a truth,
mourns so much that he wounds and maltreats himself more than all
the others do, and it is a marvel that he does not kill himself;
but still he postpones suicide till the hour and the time come
for him to disinter her and hold her in his arms, and know
whether she is alive or not. About the grave are the lords, who
lay the body there; but they do not meddle with John in the
setting up of the tomb, and indeed they could see nought of it,
but have all fallen swooning to the earth, and John has had good
leisure to do all he listed. He so set up the tomb that there was
no other creature in it; well does he seal and join and close it.
Then might that man well have boasted himself who, without harm
or injury, would have been able to take away or disjoin aught
that John had put there.

Fenice is in the tomb, until it came to dark night; but thirty
knights guard her, and there are ten tapers burning, and they
made a great light. The knights were sated and weary with
mourning, and have eaten and drunk in the night till they all lay
asleep together. At night Cliges steals forth from the court and
from all the folk. There was not knight or servant who ever knew
what had become of him. He did not rest till he came to John, who
gives him all the counsel that he can. He puts on him a suit of
armour, which he will never need. Both all armed go forth to the
cemetery at post haste; but the cemetery was enclosed all around
by a high wall; and the knights, who were sleeping, and had
closed the door within that none might enter, thought they were
safe. Cliges sees not how he may pass, for he cannot enter by the
door, and yet by hook or by crook he must enter, for love exhorts
and admonishes him. He grips the wall and mounts up, for right
strong and agile was he. Within was an orchard and there were
trees in plenty. Near the wall one had been planted so that it
touched the wall. Now has Cliges what he wished for; he let
himself down by this tree. The first thing that he did was to go
and open the door to John. They see the knights sleeping and they
have extinguished all the tapers, so that no light remains there.
And now John uncovers the grave and opens the tomb, so that he
injures it not at all. Cliges leaps into the grave and has
carried forth his lady, who is very weak and lifeless, and he
falls on her neck and kisses and embraces her. He knows not
whether to rejoice or mourn; for she moves not nor stirs. And
John has closed again the tomb with all the speed he may, so that
it does not in any wise appear that it had been touched. They
have approached the tower as quickly as ever they could. When
they had put her within the tower in the rooms that were
underground, then they took off the grave-clothes, and Cliges,
who knew nothing of the draught that she had within her body,
which makes her dumb and prevents her stirring, thinks in
consequence that she is dead, and he loses hope and comfort
thereat, and sighs deeply and weeps. But soon the hour will have
come that the draught will lose its force. And Fenice, who hears
him lament, tries and strains that she may be able to comfort him
either by word or by look. Her heart nearly breaks because of the
mourning she hears him make. "Ha! Death," quoth he, "how base
thou art, in that thou sparest and passest by worthless and
outcast creatures! Such thou dost allow to last and live. Death!
art thou mad or drunk that thou has killed my love without
killing me? This that I see is a marvel: my love is dead and I am
alive. Ah, sweet love! why does your lover live and see you dead?
Now might one rightly say that you are dead for my sake, and that
I have killed and slain you. Loved lady! then am I the Death who
has killed you; is not that unjust? For I have taken away my life
in you and yet have kept yours in me. For were not your health
and your life mine, sweet friend? And were not mine yours? For I
loved nought but you: we twain were one being. Now have I done
what I ought, for I keep your soul in my body, and mine is gone
forth of yours; and yet the one was bound to bear the other
company, wherever it was, and nothing ought to have parted them."
At this she heaves a sigh and says in a weak, low voice: "Friend!
friend! I am not wholly dead, but well-nigh so. But I hope nought
about my life. I thought to have a jest and to feign: but now
must I needs complain, for Death loves not my jest. A marvel
'twill be if I escape alive, for much have the leeches wounded
me, broken and lacerated my flesh; and nevertheless, if it could
be that my nurse were here with me, she would make me quite
whole, if care could avail aught herein." "Friend! then let it
not distress you," quoth Cliges, "for this very night I will
bring her here for you.....Friend! rather will John go." John
goes thither and has sought till he found her, and he imparts to
her how greatly he desires her to come; never let any excuse
detain her; for Fenice and Cliges summon her to a tower where
they await her; for Fenice is sore mishandled, and she must come
provided with salves and electuaries, and let her know that the
lady will live no longer if she succour her not speedily.
Thessala forthwith runs and takes ointment and plaster and an
electuary that she had made, and has joined company with John.
Then they issue from the town secretly and go till they come
straight to the tower. When Fenice sees her nurse, she thinks she
is quite cured, so much she loves her and believes in her and
trusts her. And Cliges embraces and greets her and says:
"Welcome, nurse! for I love and esteem you greatly. Nurse, in
God's name what think you of this damsel's illness? What is your
opinion? Will she recover? "Ay, sir! fear not that I cannot cure
her right well. A fortnight will not have passed before I make
her whole, so that never at any time was she more whole and gay."

Thessala sets her mind on curing the lady, and John goes to
provide the tower with whatsoever store is meet. Cliges comes and
goes to the tower boldly, in view of all, for he has left there a
goshawk moulting, and says that he comes to see it, and none can
guess that he goes there for any other reason save only on
account of the hawk. Much does he tarry there both night and day.
He makes John guard the tower, that no one may enter there
against his will. Fenice has no hurt whereof she need grieve, for
well has Thessala cured her. If now Cliges had been duke of
Almeria or of Morocco or of Tudela, he would not have prized such
honour a berry in comparison of the joy he has. Certes, Love
abased himself no whit when he put them together; for it seems to
both when one embraces and kisses the other that the whole world
is made better for their joy and their pleasure. Ask me no more
about it; I will but say that there is nought that one wills that
the other does not welcome. So is their will at one as if they
twain were but one. All this year and some space of the next, two
months and more, I ween, has Fenice been in the tower, until the
spring of the year. When flowers and foliage bud forth, and the
little birds are making merry--for they delight in their
bird-language--it happened that Fenice heard one morning the
nightingale sing. Cliges was holding her gently with one arm
about her waist and the other about her neck, and she him in like
manner, and she has said to him: "Fair, dear friend, much joy
would an orchard afford me, where I could take my pleasure. I
have seen neither moon nor sun shine for more than fifteen whole
months. If it might be, full gladly would I sally forth into the
daylight, for I am pent up in this tower. If near by there were
an orchard where I could go to disport myself, great good would
this do me often. Then Cliges promises that he will seek counsel
of John as soon as he shall see him. And now it has happened that
lo! John has come thither, for he was often wont to come. Cliges
has spoken with him of Fenice's desire. "All is prepared and
already at hand," quoth John, "whatsoever she orders. This tower
is well provided with all that she wishes and asks for." Then is
Fenice right blithe and bids John lead her thither, and John
makes no demur. Then goes John to open a door, such that I have
neither skill nor power to tell or describe the fashion of it.
None save John could have had the skill to make it, nor could any
one ever have told that there was door or window there, as long
as the door was not opened, so hidden and concealed was it.

When Fenice saw the door open and the sun which she had not seen
for a long time shine in, she has all her blood awhirl with joy
and says that now she seeks nothing more, inasmuch as she can
come forth out of the hiding-place, and seeks no refuge
elsewhere. By the door she has entered the orchard, and this
greatly pleases and delights her. In the midst of the orchard
there was a grafted tree loaded with flowers and very leafy, and
it formed a canopy above. The branches were so trained that they
hung towards the ground and bent almost to the earth, all save
the top from which they sprang, for that rose straight upwards.
Fenice desires no other place. And below the grafted tree the
meadow is very delectable and very fair, nor ever will the sun be
so high even at noon, when it is hottest, that ever a ray can
pass that way, so skilled was John to arrange things and to guide
and train the branches. There Fenice goes to disport herself, and
all day she makes her couch there; there they are in joy and
delight. And the orchard is enclosed around with a high wall
which joins the tower, so that no creature could enter it, unless
he had climbed to the top of the tower.

Now is Fenice in great delight: there is nought to displease her,
nor lacks she aught that she could wish, when 'neath the flowers
and leaves it lists her embrace her lover. At the time when folk
go hunting with the sparrow-hawk and with the hound, which seeks
the lark and the stonechat and tracks the quail and the
partridge, it happened that a knight of Thrace, a young and
sprightly noble, esteemed for his prowess, had one day gone
a-hawking quite close beside this tower; Bertrand was the
knight's name. His sparrow-hawk had soared high, for it had
missed the lark that was its aim. Now will Bertrand consider
himself ill served by fate, if he lose his sparrow-hawk. He saw
it descend and settle below the tower in an orchard, and it
pleased him much to see this, for now he reckons that he will not
lose it. Forthwith he goes to scale the wall, and wins to get
over it. Under the grafted tree he saw Fenice and Cliges sleeping
together side by side. "God!" quoth he, "what has befallen me?
What kind of miracle is it that I see? Is it not Cliges? Yea,
faith. Is not that the empress by his side? Nay, but she
resembles her, for no other being ever was so like. Such a nose,
such a mouth, such a brow she has as the empress, my lady, had.
Never did nature better succeed in making two beings of the same
countenance. In this lady see I nought that I should not have
seen in my lady. If she had been alive, truly I should have said
that it was she." At that moment a pear drops and falls just
beside Fenice's ear. She starts, awakes, sees Bertrand and cries
aloud: "Friend, friend, we are lost! Here is Bertrand! If he
escapes you, we have fallen into an evil trap. He will tell folk
that he has seen us." Then has Bertrand perceived that it is the
empress beyond all doubt. Need is there for him to depart, for
Cliges had brought his sword with him into the orchard, and had
laid it beside the couch. He springs up and has taken his sword,
and Bertrand flees swiftly. With all the speed he might he grips
the wall, and now he was all but over it, when Cliges has come
after, raises now his sword, and strikes him, so that beneath the
knee he has cut off his leg as clean as a stalk of fennel.
Nevertheless, Bertrand has escaped ill-handled and crippled, and
on the other side he is received by his men, who are beside
themselves with grief and wrath, when they see him thus maimed;
they have asked and inquired who it is that had done it to him.
"Question me not about it," quoth he, "but raise me on my horse.
Never will this story be recounted till it is told before the
emperor. He who has done this to me ought not forsooth to be
without fear--nor is he, for he is nigh to deadly peril." Then
they have put him on his palfrey, and, mourning, they lead him
away in great dismay through the midst of the town. After them go
more than twenty thousand, who follow him to the court. And all
the people flock there, the one after the other, and the devil
take the hindmost.

Now has Bertrand made his plea and complaint to the emperor in
the hearing of all, but they consider him an idle babbler because
he says that he has seen the empress stark naked. All the town is
stirred thereat; some, when they hear this news, esteem it mere
folly, others advise and counsel the emperor to go to the tower.
Great is the uproar and the tumult of the folk who set out after
him. But they find nothing in the tower, for Fenice and Cliges
are on their way, and have taken Thessala with them, who comforts
and assures them, and says that, even if perchance they see folk
coming after them who come to take them, they need have no fear
for aught, for never to do them harm or injury would they come
within the distance that one could shoot with a strong crossbow
stretched by windlass.

Now the emperor is in the tower and he has John sought out and
fetched: he bids that he be tied and bound, and says that he will
have him hanged or burned and the ashes scattered to the wind.
For the shame that the emperor has suffered, John shall pay the
penalty (but it will be a bootless penalty!) because he has
secreted in his tower the nephew and the wife of the emperor.
"I'faith you speak the truth," quoth John; "I will not lie in the
matter; I will stick to the truth throughout, and if I have done
wrong in any point, right meet is it that I be taken. But on this
score I could well excuse myself, that a serf ought to refuse
nought that his rightful lord commands him. And it is known full
surely that I am his and the tower is his." "Nay, John, rather is
it thine." "Mine, sire? Truly, as his serf I am not even my own,
nor have I anything that is mine, save in so far as he grants it
to me. And if you would say that my lord has done you wrong, I am
ready to defend him from the charge without his bidding me so to
do. But the knowledge that I must die makes me bold to speak out
freely my will and my mind as I have fashioned and moulded it.
Now, be that as it may be, for if I die for my lord, I shall not
die in dishonour. Surely without a doubt is known the oath and
promise that you pledged to your brother, that after you, Cliges,
who is going away into exile, should be emperor. And if it please
God, he will yet be emperor. And you are to be blamed for this,
for you ought not to have taken wife, but all the same you took
one and wronged Cliges, and he has wronged you in nought. And if
I am done to death by you and die for him unjustly, if he lives,
he will avenge my death. Now do your utmost, for if I die, you
will die too.

Beads of wrath break out on the emperor's brow when he has heard
the words and the insult that John has uttered against him.
"John," quoth he, "thou shalt have respite until what time thy
lord be found, for base has he proved himself towards me, who
held him right dear, nor thought to defraud him. But thou shalt
be kept fast in prison. If thou knowest what has become of him,
tell me straightway, I bid thee." "Tell you? And how should I
commit so great a treason? Of a surety, I would not betray to you
my lord, not though you were to rend my life out of my body, if I
knew it. And besides this, so may God be my guard, I cannot say
any more than you in what direction they have gone. But you are
jealous without a cause. Too little do I fear your wrath not to
tell you truly in the hearing of all how you are deceived, and
yet I shall never be believed in this matter. By a potion that
you drank, you were tricked and deceived the night that you
celebrated your wedding. Never at any time, save when you slept
and it happened to you in your dreams, did any joy come to you of
her; but the night made you dream, and the dream pleased you as
much as if it had happened in your waking hours that she held you
in her arms; and no other boon came to you from her. Her heart
clave so straitly to Cliges that for his sake she pretended to be
dead; and he trusted me so much that he told me and placed her in
my house, of which he is lord by right. You ought not to lay the
blame on me for it; I should have merited to be burnt or hanged,
if I had betrayed my lord and refused to do his will."

When the emperor heard tell of the potion which it delighted him
to drink, and by which Thessala deceived him, then first he
perceived that he had never had joy of his wife--well he knew
it--unless it had happened to him in a dream, and that such joy
was illusory. He says that, if he take not vengeance for the
shame and the disgrace brought on him by the traitor who has
carried off from him his wife, never again will he have joy in
his life. "Now, quick!" quoth he, "to Pavia, and from there to
Germany, let neither castle, town, nor city be left where he be
not sought. He who shall bring them both prisoners will be more
cherished by me than any other man. Now, set well to work and
search both up and down and near and far!" Then they start with
great zeal, and they have spent all the day in searching; but
Cliges had such friends among them that, if they found the
lovers, they rather would lead them to a place of refuge than
bring them back. Throughout a whole fortnight with no small pains
they have pursued them, but Thessala, who is guiding them, leads
them so safely by art and by enchantment that they have no fear
or alarm for all the forces of the emperor. In no town or city do
they lie, and yet they have whatsoever they wish and desire, as
good as or better than they are wont to have, for Thessala seeks
and procures and brings for them whatsoever they wish, and no one
follows or pursues them, for all have abandoned the quest. But
Cliges does not delay; he goes to his uncle, King Arthur. He
sought him till he found him, and has made to him a complaint and
an outcry against his uncle the emperor, who, in order to
disinherit him, had taken wife dishonourably, when he should not
have done so, seeing that he had pledged his word to Cliges'
father that never in his life would he have a wife. And the king
says that with a navy will he sail to Constantinople, and fill a
thousand ships with knights and three thousand with infantry,
such that nor city nor borough nor town nor castle, however
strong or high it be, will be able to endure their onset. And
Cliges has not forgotten to thank the king then and there for the
aid which he is granting him. The king sends to seek and to
summon all the high barons of his land, and has ships and boats,
cutters and barques sought out and equipped. With shields, with
lances, with targes, and with knightly armour he has a hundred
ships filled and laden. The king makes so great a preparation to
wage war that never had even Cesar or Alexander the like. He has
caused to be summoned and mustered all England and all Flanders,
Normandy, France, and Brittany, and all tribes, even as far as
the Spanish passes. Now were they about to put to sea when
messengers came from Greece, who stayed the expedition and kept
back the king and his men. With the messengers who came was John,
who was well worthy to be believed, for he was witness and
messenger of nought that was not true and that he did not know
for certain. The messengers were high men of Greece, who were
seeking Cliges. They sought and asked for him until they found
him at the court of the king, and they have said to him: "God
save you, sire. On the part of all the inhabitants of your
empire, Greece is yielded and Constantinople given to you,
because of the right that you have to it. Your uncle--as yet you
know it not--is dead of the grief that he had because he could
not find you. He had such grief that he lost his senses: never
afterwards did he either eat or drink, and he died a madman. Fair
sire, return now hence, for all your barons send for you. Greatly
do they desire and ask for you, for they will to make you
emperor." Many there were who were blithe at this message, but on
the other hand there were man who would gladly have left their
homes, and who would have been mightily pleased if the host had
set out for Greece. But the expedition has fallen through
altogether, for the king sends away his men, and the host
disperses and returns home. But Cliges hastens and prepares
himself, for his will is to return into Greece, no care has he to
tarry longer. He has prepared himself, and has taken leave of the
king and all his friends: he takes Fenice with him, and they
depart and do not rest till they are in Greece, where men receive
him with great joy, as they ought to do their lord, and give him
his lady-love to wife; they crown them both together. He has made
his lady-love his wife, but he calls her lady-love and dame, nor
does she for that cease to be cherished as his lady-love, and she
cherishes him every whit as much as one ought to cherish one's
lover. And each day their love grew; never did he mistrust her
nor chide her for aught. She was never kept in seclusion, as
those who came after her later have been kept (for henceforth
there was no emperor who was not afraid lest his wife might
deceive him, when he heard tell how Fenice deceived Alis, first
by the potion that he drank and then by the other treason). For
which reason the empress, whoever she be, be she of never so
splendid and high degree, is guarded in Constantinople; for the
emperor trusts her not as long as he remembers Fenice.

Here ends the work of Chretien.



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