Four Arthurian Romances, by Chretien DeTroyes

Part 6 out of 9

who were seeking him; how he was in their midst but they did not
see him. My lord Gawain laughed aloud at this story of hers, and
then he said: "Mademoiselle, when you need me and when you don't,
such as I am, I place myself at your disposal. Never throw me
off for some one else when you think you can improve your lot. I
am yours, and do you be from now on my demoiselle!" "I thank you
kindly, sire," she said. While the acquaintance of these two was
ripening thus, the others, too, were engaged in flirting. For
there were perhaps ninety ladies there, each of whom was fair and
charming, noble and polite, virtuous and prudent, and a lady of
exalted birth, so the men could agreeably employ themselves in
caressing and kissing them, and in talking to them and in gazing
at them while they were seated by their side; that much
satisfaction they had at least. My lord Yvain is in high feather
because the King is lodged with him. And the lady bestows such
attention upon them all, as individuals and collectively, that
some foolish person might suppose that the charming attentions
which she showed them were dictated by love. But such persons
may properly be rated as fools for thinking that a lady is in
love with them just because she is courteous and speaks to some
unfortunate fellow, and makes him happy and caresses him. A fool
is made happy by fair words, and is very easily taken in. That
entire week they spent in gaiety; forest and stream offered
plenty of sport for any one who desired it. And whoever wished
to see the land which had come into the hands of my lord Yvain
with the lady whom he had married, could go to enjoy himself at
one of the castles which stood within a radius of two, three, or
four leagues. When the King had stayed as long as he chose, he
made ready to depart. But during the week they had all begged
urgently, and with all the insistence at their command, that they
might take away my lord Yvain with them. "What? Will you be one
of those." said my lord Gawain to him, "who degenerate after
marriage? (17) Cursed be he by Saint Mary who marries and then
degenerates! Whoever has a fair lady as his mistress or his wife
should be the better for it, and it is not right that her
affection should be bestowed on him after his worth and
reputation are gone. Surely you, too, would have cause to regret
her love if you grew soft, for a woman quickly withdraws her
love, and rightly so, and despises him who degenerates in any way
when he has become lord of the realm. Now ought your fame to be
increased! Slip off the bridle and halter and come to the
tournament with me, that no one may say that you are jealous.
Now you must no longer hesitate to frequent the lists, to share
in the onslaught, and to contend with force, whatever effort it
may cost! Inaction produces indifference. But, really, you must
come, for I shall be in your company. Have a care that our
comradeship shall not fail through any fault of yours, fair
companion; for my part, you may count on me. It is strange how a
man sets store by the life of ease which has no end. Pleasures
grow sweeter through postponement; and a little pleasure, when
delayed, is much sweeter to the taste than great pleasure enjoyed
at once. The sweets of a love which develops late are like a
fire in a green bush; for the longer one delays in lighting it
the greater will be the heat it yields, and the longer will its
force endure. One may easily fall into habits which it is very
difficult to shake off, for when one desires to do so, he finds
he has lost the power. Don't misunderstand my words, my friend:
if I had such a fair mistress as you have, I call God and His
saints to witness, I should leave her most reluctantly; indeed, I
should doubtless be infatuated. But a man may give another
counsel, which he would not take himself, just as the preachers,
who are deceitful rascals, and preach and proclaim the right but
who do not follow it themselves."

(Vv. 2539-2578.) My lord Gawain spoke at such length and so
urgently that he promised him that he would go; but he said that
he must consult his lady and ask for her consent. Whether it be
a foolish or a prudent thing to do, he will not fail to ask her
leave to return to Britain. Then he took counsel with his wife,
who had no inkling of the permission he desired, as he addressed
her with these words: "My beloved lady, my heart and soul, my
treasure, joy, and happiness, grant me now a favour which will
redound to your honour and to mine." The lady at once gives her
consent. not knowing what his desire is, and says: "Fair lord,
you may command me your pleasure, whatever it be." Then my lord
Yvain at once asks her for permission to escort the King and to
attend at tournaments, that no one may reproach his indolence.
And she replies: "I grant you leave until a certain date; but be
sure that my love will change to hate if you stay beyond the term
that I shall fix. Remember that I shall keep my word; if you
break your word I will keep mine. If you wish to possess my
love, and if you have any regard for me, remember to come back
again at the latest a year from the present date a week after St.
John's day; for to-day is the eighth day since that feast. You
will be checkmated of my love if you are not restored to me on
that day."

(Vv. 2579-2635.) My lord Yvain weeps and sighs so bitterly that
he can hardly find words to say: "My lady, this date is indeed a
long way off. If I could be a dove, whenever the fancy came to
me, I should often rejoin you here. And I pray God that in His
pleasure He may not detain me so long away. But sometimes a man
intends speedily to return who knows not what the future has in
store for him. And I know not what will be my fate--perhaps
some urgency of sickness or imprisonment may keep me back: you
are unjust in not making an exception at least of actual
hindrance." "My lord," says she, "I will make that exception.
And yet I dare to promise you that, if God deliver you from
death, no hindrance will stand in your way so long as you
remember me. So put on your finger now this ring of mine, which
I lend to you. And I will tell you all about the stone: no true
and loyal lover can be imprisoned or lose any blood, nor can any
harm befall him, provided he carry it and hold it dear, and keep
his sweetheart in mind. You will become as hard as iron, and it
will serve you as shield and hauberk. I have never before been
willing to lend or entrust it to any knight, but to you I give it
because of my affection for you." Now my lord Yvain is free to
go, but he weeps bitterly on taking leave. The King, however,
would not tarry longer for anything that might be said: rather
was he anxious to have the palfreys brought all equipped and
bridled. They acceded at once to his desire, bringing the
palfreys forth, so that it remained only to mount. I do not know
whether I ought to tell you how my lord Yvain took his leave, and
of the kisses bestowed on him, mingled with tears and steeped in
sweetness. And what shall I tell you about the King how the lady
escorts him, accompanied by her damsels and seneschal? All this
would require too much time. When he sees the lady's tears, the
King implores her to come no farther, but to return to her abode.
He begged her with such urgency that, heavy at heart, she turned
about followed by her company.

(Vv. 2639-2773.) My lord Yvain is so distressed to leave his
lady that his heart remains behind. The King may take his body
off, but he cannot lead his heart away. She who stays behind
clings so tightly to his heart that the King has not the power to
take it away with him. When the body is left without the heart
it cannot possibly live on. For such a marvel was never seen as
the body alive without the heart. Yet this marvel now came
about: for he kept his body without the heart, which was wont to
be enclosed in it, but which would not follow the body now. The
heart has a good abiding-place, while the body, hoping for a safe
return to its heart, in strange fashion takes a new heart of
hope, which is so often deceitful and treacherous. He will never
know in advance, I think, the hour when this hope will play him
false, for if he overstays by single day the term which he has
agreed upon, it will be hard for him to gain again his lady's
pardon and goodwill. Yet I think he will overstay the term, for
my lord Gawain will not allow him to part from him, as together
they go to joust wherever tournaments are held. And as the year
passes by my lord Yvain had such success that my lord Gawain
strove to honour him, and caused him to delay so long that all
the first year slipped by, and it came to the middle of August of
the ensuing year, when the King held court at Chester, whither
they had returned the day before from a tournament where my lord
Yvain had been and where he had won the glory and the story tells
how the two companions were unwilling to lodge in the town, but
had their tents set up outside the city, and held court there.
For they never went to the royal court, but the King came rather
to join in theirs, for they had the best knights, and the
greatest number, in their company. Now King Arthur was seated in
their midst, when Yvain suddenly had a thought which surprised
him more than any that had occurred to him since he had taken
leave of his lady, for he realised that he had broken his word,
and that the limit of his leave was already exceeded. He could
hardly keep back his tears, but he succeeded in doing so from
shame. He was still deep in thought when he saw a damsel
approaching rapidly upon a black palfrey with white forefeet. As
she got down before the tent no one helped her to dismount, and
no one went to take her horse. As soon as she made out the King,
she let her mantle fall, and thus displayed she entered the tent
and came before the King, announcing that her mistress sent
greetings to the King, and to my lord Gawain and all the other
knights, except Yvain, that disloyal traitor, liar, hypocrite,
who had deserted her deceitfully. "She has seen clearly the
treachery of him who pretended he was a faithful lover while he
was a false and treacherous thief. This thief has traduced my
lady, who was all unprepared for any evil, and to whom it never
occurred that he would steal her heart away. Those who love
truly do not steal hearts away; there are, however, some men, by
whom these former are called thieves, who themselves go about
deceitfully making love, but in whom there is no real knowledge
of the matter. The lover takes his lady's heart, of course, but
he does not run away with it; rather does he treasure it against
those thieves who, in the guise of honourable men, would steal it
from him. But those are deceitful and treacherous thieves who
vie with one another in stealing hearts for which they care
nothing. The true lover, wherever he may go, holds the heart
dear and brings it back again. But Yvain has caused my lady's
death, for she supposed that he would guard her heart for her,
and would bring it back again before the year elapsed. Yvain,
thou wast of short memory when thou couldst not remember to
return to thy mistress within a year. She gave thee thy liberty
until St. John's day, and thou settest so little store by her
that never since has a thought of her crossed thy mind. My lady
had marked every day in her chamber, as the seasons passed: for
when one is in love, one is ill at ease and cannot get any
restful sleep, but all night long must needs count and reckon up
the days as they come and go. Dost thou know how lovers spend
their time? They keep count of the time and the season. Her
complaint is not presented prematurely or without cause, and I am
not accusing him in any way, but I simply say that we have been ~
betrayed by him who married my lady. Yvain, my mistress has no
further care for thee, but sends thee word by me never to come
back to her, and no longer to keep her ring. She bids thee send
it back to her by me, whom thou seest present here. Surrender it
now, as thou art bound to do."

(Vv. 2774-3230.) Senseless and deprived of speech, Yvain is
unable to reply. And the damsel steps forth and takes the ring
from his finger, commending to God the King and all the others
except him, whom she leaves in deep distress. And his sorrow
grows on him: he feels oppressed by what he hears, and is
tormented by what he sees. He would rather be banished alone in
some wild land, where no one would know where to seek for him,
and where no man or woman would know of his whereabouts any more
than if he were in some deep abyss. He hates nothing so much as
he hates himself, nor does he know to whom to go for comfort in
the death he has brought upon himself. But he would rather go
insane than not take vengeance upon himself, deprived, as he is,
of joy through his own fault. He rises from his place among the
knights, fearing he will lose his mind if he stays longer in
their midst. On their part, they pay no heed to him, but let him
take his departure alone. They know well enough that he cares
nothing for their talk or their society. And he goes away until
he is far from the tents and pavilions. Then such a storm broke
loose in his brain that he loses his senses; he tears his flesh
and, stripping off his clothes, he flees across the meadows and
fields, leaving his men quite at a loss, and wondering what has
become of him. (18) They go in search of him through all the
country around--in the lodgings of the knights, by the
hedgerows, and in the gardens--but they seek him where he is
not to be found. Still fleeing, he rapidly pursued his way until
he met close by a park a lad who had in his hand a bow and five
barbed arrows, which were very sharp and broad. He had sense
enough to go and take the bow and arrows which he held. However,
he had no recollection of anything that he had done. He lies in
wait for the beasts in the woods, killing them, and then eating
the venison raw. Thus he dwelt in the forest like a madman or a
savage, until he came upon a little, low-lying house belonging to
a hermit, who was at work clearing his ground. When he saw him
coming with nothing on, he could easily perceive that he was not
in his right mind; and such was the case, as the hermit very well
knew. So, in fear, he shut himself up in his little house, and
taking some bread and fresh water, he charitably set it outside
the house on a narrow window-ledge. And thither the other comes,
hungry for the bread which he takes and eats. I do not believe
that he ever before had tasted such hard and bitter bread. The
measure of barley kneaded with the straw, of which the bread,
sourer than yeast, was made, had not cost more than five sous;
and the bread was musty and as dry as bark. But hunger torments
and whets his appetite, so that the bread tasted to him like
sauce. For hunger is itself a well mixed and concocted sauce for
any food. My lord Yvain soon ate the hermit's bread, which
tasted good to him, and drank the cool water from the jar. When
he had eaten, he betook himself again to the woods in search of
stags and does. And when he sees him going away, the good man
beneath his roof prays God to defend him and guard him lest he
ever pass that way again. But there is no creature, with
howsoever little sense, that will not gladly return to a place
where he is kindly treated. So, not a day passed while he was in
this mad fit that he did not bring to his door some wild game.
Such was the life he led; and the good man took it upon himself
to remove the skin and set a good quantity of the venison to
cook; and the bread and the water in the jug was always standing
on the window-ledge for the madman to make a meal. Thus he had
something to eat and drink: venison without salt or pepper, and
good cool water from the spring. And the good man exerted
himself to sell the hide and buy bread made of barley, or oats,
or of some other grain; so, after that, Yvain had a plentiful
supply of bread and venison, which sufficed him for a long time,
until one day he was found asleep in the forest by two damsels
and their mistress, in whose service they were. When they saw
the naked man, one of the three ran and dismounted and examined
him closely, before she saw anything about him which would serve
to identify him. If he had only been richly attired, as he had
been many a time, and if she could have seen him then she would
have known him quickly enough. But she was slow to recognise
him, and continued to look at him until at last she noticed a
scar which he had on his face, and she recollected that my lord
Yvain's face was scarred in this same way; she was sure of it,
for she had often seen it. Because of the scar she saw that it
was he beyond any doubt; but she marvelled greatly how it came
about that she found him thus poor and stripped. Often she
crosses herself in amazement, but she does not touch him or wake
him up; rather does she mount her horse again, and going back to
the others, tells them tearfully of her adventure. I do not know
if I ought to delay to tell you of the grief she showed; but thus
she spoke weeping to her mistress: "My lady, I have found Yvain,
who has proved himself to be the best knight in the world, and
the most virtuous. I cannot imagine what sin has reduced the
gentleman to such a plight. I think he must have had some
misfortune, which causes him thus to demean himself, for one may
lose his wits through grief. And any one can see that he is not
in his right mind, for it would surely never be like him to
conduct himself thus indecently unless he had lost his mind.
Would that God had restored to him the best sense he ever had,
and would that he might then consent to render assistance to your
cause! For Count Alier, who is at war with you, has made upon
you a fierce attack. I should see the strife between you two
quickly settled in your favour if God favoured your fortunes so
that he should return to his senses and undertake to aid you in
this stress." To this the lady made reply: "Take care now! For
surely, if he does not escape, with God's help I think we can
clear his head of all the madness and insanity. But we must be
on our way at once! For I recall a certain ointment with which
Morgan the Wise presented me, saying there was no delirium of the
head which it would not cure." Thereupon, they go off at once
toward the town, which was hard by, for it was not any more than
half a league of the kind they have in that country; and, as
compared with ours, two of their leagues make one and four make
two. And he remains sleeping all alone, while the lady goes to
fetch the ointment. The lady opens a case of hers, and, taking
out a box, gives it to the damsel, and charges her not to be too
prodigal in its use: she should rub only his temples with it, for
there is no use of applying it elsewhere; she should anoint only
his temples with it, and the remainder she should carefully keep,
for there is nothing the matter with him except in his brain.
She sends him also a robe of spotted fur, a coat, and a mantle of
scarlet silk. The damsel takes them, and leads in her right hand
an excellent palfrey. And she added to these, of her own store,
a shirt, some soft hose, and some new drawers of proper cut.
With all these things she quickly set out, and found him still
asleep where she had left him. After putting her horse in an
enclosure where she tied him fast, she came with the clothes and
the ointment to the place where he was asleep. Then she made so
bold as to approach the madman, so that she could touch and
handle him: then taking the ointment she rubbed him with it until
none remained in the box, being so solicitous for his recovery
that she proceeded to anoint him all over with it; and she used
it so freely that she heeded not the warning of her mistress, nor
indeed did she remember it. She put more on than was needed, but
in her opinion it was well employed. She rubbed his temples and
forehead, and his whole body down to the ankles. She rubbed his
temples and his whole body so much there in the hot sunshine that
the madness and the depressing gloom passed completely out of his
brain. But she was foolish to anoint his body, for of that there
was no need. If she had had five measures of it she would
doubtless have done the same thing. She carries off the box, and
takes hidden refuge by her horse. But she leaves the robe
behind, wishing that, if God calls him back to life, he may see
it all laid out, and may take it and put it on. She posts
herself behind an oak tree until he had slept enough, and was
cured and quite restored, having regained his wits and memory.
Then he sees that he is as naked as ivory, and feels much
ashamed; but he would have been yet more ashamed had he known
what had happened. As it is, he knows nothing but that he is
naked. He sees the new robe lying before him, and marvels
greatly how and by what adventure it had come there. But he is
ashamed and concerned, because of his nakedness, and says that he
is dead and utterly undone if any one has come upon him there and
recognised him. Meanwhile, he clothes himself and looks out into
the forest to see if any one was approaching. He tries to stand
up and support himself, but cannot summon the strength to walk
away, for his sickness has so affected him that he can scarcely
stand upon his feet. Thereupon, the damsel resolves to wait no
longer, but, mounting, she passed close by him, as if unaware of
his presence. Quite indifferent as to whence might come the
help, which he needed so much to lead him away to some lodging-
place, where he might recruit his strength, he calls out to her
with all his might. And the damsel, for her part, looks about
her as if not knowing what the trouble is. Confused, she goes
hither and thither, not wishing to go straight up to him. Then
he begins to call again: "Damsel, come this way, here!" And the
damsel guided toward him her soft-stepping palfrey. By this ruse
she made him think that she knew nothing of him and had never
seen him before; in so doing she was wise and courteous. When
she had come before him, she said: "Sir knight, what do you
desire that you call me so insistently?" "Ah," said he. "prudent
damsel, I have found myself in this wood by some mishap--I know
not what. For God's sake and your belief in Him, I pray you to
lend me, taking my word as pledge, or else to give me outright,
that palfrey you are leading in your hand." "Gladly, sire: but
you must accompany me whither I am going." "Which way?" says he.
"To a town that stands near by, beyond the forest." "Tell me,
damsel, if you stand in need of me." "Yes," she says, "I do; but
I think you are not very well. For the next two weeks at least
you ought to rest. Take this horse, which I hold in my right
hand, and we shall go to our lodging-place." And he, who had no
other desire, takes it and mounts, and they proceed until they
come to a bridge over a swift and turbulent stream. And the
damsel throws into the water the empty box she is carrying,
thinking to excuse herself to her mistress for her ointment by
saying that she was so unlucky as to let the box fall into the
water for, when her palfrey stumbled under her, the box slipped
from her gasp, and she came near falling in too, which would have
been still worse luck. It is her intention to invent this story
when she comes into her mistress' presence. Together they held
their way until they came to the town, where the lady detained my
lord Yvain and asked her damsel in private for her box and
ointment: and the damsel repeated to her the lie as she had
invented it, not daring to tell her the truth. Then the lady was
greatly enraged, and said: "This is certainly a very serious
loss, and I am sure and certain that the box will never be found
again. But since it has happened so, there is nothing more to be
done about it. One often desires a blessing which turns out to
be a curse; thus I, who looked for a blessing and joy from this
knight, have lost the dearest and most precious of my
possessions. However, I beg you to serve him in all respects."
"Ah, lady, how wisely now you speak! For it would be too bad to
convert one misfortune into two."

(Vv. 3131-3254.) Then they say no more about the box, but
minister in every way they can to the comfort of my lord Yvain,
bathing him and washing his hair, having him shaved and clipped,
for one could have taken up a fist full of hair upon his face.
His every want is satisfied: if he asks for arms, they are
furnished him: if he wants a horse, they provide him with one
that is large and handsome, strong and spirited. He stayed there
until, upon a Tuesday, Count Alier came to the town with his men
and knights, who started fires and took plunder. Those in the
town at once rose up and equipped themselves with arms. Some
armed and some unarmed, they issued forth to meet the plunderers,
who did not deign to retreat before them, but awaited them in a
narrow pass. My lord Yvain struck at the crowd; he had had so
long a rest that his strength was quite restored, and he struck a
knight upon his shield with such force that he sent down in a
heap, I think, the knight together with his horse. The knight
never rose again, for his backbone was broken and his heart burst
within his breast. My lord Yvain drew back a little to recover.
Then protecting himself completely with his shield, he spurred
forward to clear the pass. One could not have counted up to four
before one would have seen him cast down speedily four knights.
Whereupon, those who were with him waxed more brave, for many a
man of poor and timid heart, at the sight of some brave man who
attacks a dangerous task before his eves, will be overwhelmed by
confusion and shame, which will drive out the poor heart in his
body and give him another like to a hero's for courage. So these
men grew brave and each stood his ground in the fight and attack.
And the lady was up in the tower, whence she saw the fighting and
the rush to win and gain possession of the pass, and she saw
lying upon the ground many who were wounded and many killed, both
of her own party and of the enemy, but more of the enemy than of
her own. For my courteous, bold, and excellent lord Yvain made
them yield just as a falcon does the teal. And the men and women
who had remained within the town declared as they watched the
strife: "Ah, what a valiant knight! How he makes his enemies
yield, and how fierce is his attack! He was about him as a lion
among the fallow deer, when he is impelled by need and hunger.
Then, too, all our other knights are more brave and daring
because of him, for, were it not for him alone, not a lance would
have been splintered nor a sword drawn to strike. When such an
excellent man is found he ought to be loved and dearly prized.
See now how he proves himself, see how he maintains his place,
see how he stains with blood his lance and bare sword, see how he
presses the enemy and follows them up, how he comes boldly to
attack them, then gives away and turns about; but he spends
little time in giving away, and soon returns to the attack. See
him in the fray again, how lightly he esteems his shield, which
he allows to be cut in pieces mercilessly. Just see how keen he
is to avenge the blows which are dealt at him. For, if some one
should use all the forest of Argone (19) to make lances for him,
I guess he would have none left by night. For he breaks all the
lances that they place in his socket, and calls for more. And
see how he wields the sword when he draws it! Roland never
wrought such havoc with Durendal against the Turks at Ronceval or
in Spain! (20) If he had in his company some good companions
like himself, the traitor, whose attack we are suffering, would
retreat today discomfited, or would stand his ground only to find
defeat." Then they say that the woman would be blessed who
should be loved by one who is so powerful in arms, and who above
all others may be recognised as a taper among candles, as a moon
among the stars, and as the sun above the moon. He so won the
hearts of all that the prowess which they see in him made them
wish that he had taken their lady to wife, and that he were
master of the land.

(Vv. 3255-3340.) Thus men and women alike praised him, and in
doing so they but told the truth. For his attack on his
adversaries was such that they vie with one another in flight.
But he presses hard upon their heels, and all his companions
follow him, for by his side they feel as safe as if they were
enclosed in a high and thick stone wall. The pursuit continues
until those who flee become exhausted, and the pursuers slash at
them and disembowel their steeds. The living roll over upon the
dead as they wound and kill each other. They work dreadful
destruction upon each other; and meanwhile the Count flees with
my lord Yvain after him, until he comes up with him at the foot
of a steep ascent, near the entrance of a strong place which
belonged to the Count. There the Count was stopped, with no one
near to lend him aid; and without any excessive parley my lord
Yvain received his surrender. For as soon as he held him in his
hands, and they were left just man to man, there was no further
possibility of escape, or of yielding, or of self-defence; so the
Count pledged his word to go to surrender to the lady of Noroison
as her prisoner, and to make such peace as she might dictate.
And when he had accepted his word he made him disarm his head and
remove the shield from about his neck, and the Count surrendered
to him his sword. Thus he won the honour of leading off the
Count as his prisoner, and of giving him over to his enemies, who
make no secret of their joy. But the news was carried to the
town before they themselves arrived. While all come forth to
meet them, the lady herself leads the way. My lord Yvain holds
his prisoner by the hand, and presents him to her. The Count
gladly acceded to her wishes and demands, and secured her by his
word, oath, and pledges. Giving her pledges, he swears to her
that he will always live on peaceful terms with her, and will
make good to her all the loss which she can prove, and will build
up again the houses which he had destroyed. When these things
were agreed upon in accordance with the lady's wish, my lord
Yvain asked leave to depart. But she would not have granted him
this permission had he been willing to take her as his mistress.
or to marry her. But he would not allow himself to be followed
or escorted a single step, but rather departed hastily: in this
case entreaty was of no avail. So he started out to retrace his
path, leaving the lady much chagrined, whose joy he had caused a
while before. When he will not tarry longer she is the more
distressed and ill at ease in proportion to the happiness he had
brought to her, for she would have wished to honour him, and
would have made him, with his consent, lord of all her
possessions, or else she would have paid him for his services
whatever sum he might have named. But he would not heed any word
of man or woman. Despite their grief he left the knights and the
lady who vainly tried to detain him longer.

(Vv. 3341-3484.) Pensively my lord Yvain proceeded through a
deep wood, until he heard among the trees a very loud and dismal
cry, and he turned in the direction whence it seemed to come.
And when he had arrived upon the spot he saw in a cleared space a
lion, and a serpent which held him by the tail, burning his hind-
quarters with flames of fire. My lord Yvain did not gape at this
strange spectacle, but took counsel with himself as to which of
the two he should aid. Then he says that he will succour the
lion, for a treacherous and venomous creature deserves to be
harmed. Now the serpent is poisonous, and fire bursts forth from
its mouth--so full of wickedness is the creature. So my lord
Yvain decides that he will kill the serpent first. Drawing his
sword he steps forward, holding the shield before his face in
order not to be harmed by the flame emerging from the creature's
throat, which was larger than a pot. If the lion attacks him
next, he too shall have all the fight he wishes; but whatever may
happen afterwards he makes up his mind to help him now. For pity
urges him and makes request that he should bear succour and aid
to the gentle and noble beast. With his sword, which cuts so
clean, he attacks the wicked serpent, first cleaving him through
to the earth and cutting him in two, then continuing his blows
until he reduces him to tiny bits. But he had to cut off a piece
of the lion's tail to get at the serpent's head, which held the
lion by the tail. He cut off only so much as was necessary and
unavoidable. When he had set the lion free, he supposed that he
would have to fight with him, and that the lion would come at
him; but the lion was not minded so. Just hear now what the lion
did! He acted nobly and as one well-bred; for he began to make
it evident that he yielded himself to him, by standing upon his
two hind-feet and bowing his face to the earth, with his fore-feet
joined and stretched out toward him. Then he fell on his
knees again, and all his face was wet with the tears of humility.
My lord Yvain knows for a truth that the lion is thanking him and
doing him homage because of the serpent which he had killed,
thereby delivering him from death. He was greatly pleased by
this episode. He cleaned his sword of the serpent's poison and
filth; then he replaced it in its scabbard, and resumed his way.
And the lion walks close by his side, unwilling henceforth to
part from him: he will always in future accompany him, eager to
serve and protect him. (21) He goes ahead until he scents in the
wind upon his way some wild beasts feeding; then hunger and his
nature prompt him to seek his prey and to secure his sustenance.
It is his nature so to do. He started ahead a little on the
trail, thus showing his master that he had come upon and detected
the odour and scent of some wild game. Then he looks at him and
halts, wishing to serve his every wish, and unwilling to proceed
against his will. Yvain understands by his attitude that he is
showing that he awaits his pleasure. He perceives this and
understands that if he holds back he will hold back too, and that
if he follows him he will seize the game which he has scented.
Then he incites and cries to him, as he would do to hunting-dogs.
At once the lion directed his nose to the scent which he had
detected, and by which he was not deceived, for he had not gone a
bow-shot when he saw in a valley a deer grazing all alone. This
deer he will seize, if he has his way. And so he did, at the
first spring, and then drank its blood still warm. When he had
killed it he laid it upon his back and carried it back to his
master, who thereupon conceived a greater affection for him, and
chose him as a companion for all his life, because of the great
devotion he found in him. It was near nightfall now, and it
seemed good to him to spend the night there, and strip from the
deer as much as he cared to eat. Beginning to carve it he splits
the skin along the rib, and taking a steak from the loin he
strikes from a flint a spark, which he catches in some dry brush-
wood; then he quickly puts his steak upon a roasting spit to cook
before the fire, and roasts it until it is quite cooked through.
But there was no pleasure in the meal, for there was no bread, or
wine, or salt, or cloth, or knife, or anything else. While he
was eating, the lion lay at his feet; nor a movement did he make,
but watched him steadily until he had eaten all that he could eat
of the steak. What remained of the deer the lion devoured, even
to the bones. And while all night his master laid his head upon
his shield to gain such rest as that afforded, the lion showed
such intelligence that he kept awake, and was careful to guard
the horse as it fed upon the grass, which yielded some slight

(Vv. 3485-3562.) In the morning they go off together, and the
same sort of existence, it seems, as they had led that night,
they two continued to lead all the ensuing week, until chance
brought them to the spring beneath the pine-tree. There my lord
Yvain almost lost his wits a second time, as he approached the
spring, with its stone and the chapel that stood close by. So
great was his distress that a thousand times he sighed "alas!"
and grieving fell in a swoon; and the point of his sharp sword,
falling from its scabbard, pierced the meshes of his hauberk
right in the neck beside the cheek. There is not a mesh that
does not spread, and the sword cuts the flesh of his neck beneath
the shining mail, so that it causes the blood to start. Then the
lion thinks that he sees his master and companion dead. You
never heard greater grief narrated or told about anything than he
now began to show. He casts himself about, and scratches and
cries, and has the wish to kill himself with the sword with which
he thinks his master has killed himself. Taking the sword from
him with his teeth he lays it on a fallen tree, and steadies it
on a trunk behind, so that it will not slip or give way, when he
hurls his breast against it, His intention was nearly
accomplished when his master recovered from his swoon, and the
lion restrained himself as he was blindly rushing upon death,
like a wild boar heedless of where he wounds himself. Thus my
lord Yvain lies in a swoon beside the stone, but, on recovering,
he violently reproached himself for the year during which he had
overstayed his leave, and for which he had incurred his lady's
hate, and he said: "Why does this wretch not kill himself who has
thus deprived himself of joy? Alas! why do I not take my life?
How can I stay here and look upon what belongs to my lady? Why
does the soul still tarry in my body? What is the soul doing in
so miserable a frame? If it had already escaped away it would
not be in such torment. It is fitting to hate and blame and
despise myself, even as in fact I do. Whoever loses his bliss
and contentment through fault or error of his own ought to hate
himself mortally. He ought to hate and kill himself. And now,
when no one is looking on, why do I thus spare myself? Why do I
not take my life? Have I not seen this lion a prey to such grief
on my behalf that he was on the point just now of thrusting my
sword through his breast? And ought I to fear death who have
changed happiness into grief? Joy is now a stranger to me. Joy?
What joy is that? I shall say no more of that, for no one could
speak of such a thing; and I have asked a foolish question. That
was the greatest joy of all which was assured as my possession,
but it endured for but a little while. Whoever loses such joy
through his own misdeed is undeserving of happiness."

(Vv. 3563-3898.) While he thus bemoaned his fate, a lorn damsel
in sorry plight, who was in the chapel, saw him and heard his
words through a crack in the wall. As soon as he was recovered
from his swoon, she called to him: "God," said she, "who is that
I hear? Who is it that thus complains?" And he replied: "And
who are you?" "I am a wretched one," she said, "the most
miserable thing alive." And he replied: "Be silent, foolish one!
Thy grief is joy and thy sorrow is bliss compared with that in
which I am cast down. In proportion as a man becomes more
accustomed to happiness and joy, so is he more distracted and
stunned than any other man by sorrow when it comes. A man of
little strength can carry, through custom and habit, a weight
which another man of greater strength could not carry for
anything." "Upon my word," she said, "I know the truth of that
remark; but that is no reason to believe that your misfortune is
worse than mine. Indeed, I do not believe it at all, for it
seems to me that you can go anywhere you choose to go, whereas I
am imprisoned here, and such a fate is my portion that to-morrow
I shall be seized and delivered to mortal judgment." "Ah, God!"
said he, "and for what crime?" "Sir knight, may God never have
mercy upon my soul, if I have merited such a fate! Nevertheless,
I shall tell you truly, without deception, why I am here in
prison: I am charged with treason, and I cannot find any one to
defend me from being burned or hanged to-morrow." "In the first
place," he replied, "I may say that my grief and woe are greater
than yours, for you may yet be delivered by some one from the
peril in which you are. Is that not true:" "Yes, but I know not
yet by whom. There are only two men in the world who would dare
on my behalf to face three men in battle." "What? In God's
name, are there three of them?" "Yes, sire, upon my word. There
are three who accuse me of treachery." "And who are they who are
so devoted to you that either one of them would be bold enough to
fight against three in your defence?" "I will answer your
question truthfully: one of them is my lord Gawain, and the other
is my lord Yvain, because of whom I shall to-morrow be handed
over unjustly to the martyrdom of death." "Because of whom?" he
asked, "what did you say?" "Sire, so help me God, because of the
son of King Urien." "Now I understand your words, but you shall
not die, without he dies too. I myself am that Yvain, because of
whom you are in such distress. And you, I take it, are she who
once guarded me safely in the hall, and saved my life and my body
between the two portcullises, when I was troubled and distressed,
and alarmed at being trapped. I should have been killed or
seized, had it not been for your kind aid. Now tell me, my
gentle friend, who are those who now accuse you of treachery, and
have confined you in this lonely place?" "Sire, I shall not
conceal it from you, since you desire me to tell you all. It is
a fact that I was not slow in honestly aiding you. Upon my
advice my lady received you, after heeding my opinion and my
counsel. And by the Holy Paternoster, more for her welfare than
for your own I thought I was doing it, and I think so still. So
much now I confess to you: it was her honour and your desire that
I sought to serve, so help me God! But when it became evident
that you had overstayed the year when you should return to my
mistress, then she became enraged at me, and thought that she had
been deceived by putting trust in my advice. And when this was
discovered by the seneschal--a rascally, underhanded, disloyal
wretch, who was jealous of me because in many matters my lady
trusted me more than she trusted him, he saw that he could now
stir up great enmity between me and her. In full court and in
the presence of all he accused me of having betrayed her in your
favour. And I had no counsel or aid except my own; but I knew
that I had never done or conceived any treacherous act toward my
lady, so I cried out, as one beside herself, and without the
advice of any one, that I would present in my own defence one
knight who should fight against three. The fellow was not
courteous enough to scorn to accept such odds, nor was I at
liberty to retreat or withdraw for anything that might happen.
So he took me at my word, and I was compelled to furnish bail
that I would present within forty days a knight to do battle
against three knights. Since then I have visited many courts; I
was at King Arthur's court, but found no help from any there, nor
did I find any one who could tell me any good news of you, for
they knew nothing of your affairs." "Pray tell me. Where then
was my good and gentle lord Gawain? No damsel in distress ever
needed his aid without its being extended to her." "If I had
found him at court, I could not have asked him for anything which
would have been refused me; but a certain knight has carried off
the Queen, so they told me; surely the King was mad to send her
off in his company. (22) I believe it was Kay who escorted her
to meet the knight who has taken her away; and my lord Gawain in
great distress has gone in search for her. He will never have
any rest until he finds her. Now I have told you the whole truth
of my adventure. To-morrow I shall be put to a shameful death,
and shall be burnt inevitably, a victim of your criminal
neglect." And he replies: "May God forbid that you should be
harmed because of me! So long as I live you shall not die! You
may expect me tomorrow, prepared to the extent of my power to
present my body in your cause, as it is proper that I should do.
But have no concern to tell the people who I am! However the
battle may turn out, take care that I be not recognised!"
"Surely, sire, no pressure could make me reveal your name. I
would sooner suffer death, since you will have it so. Yet, after
all, I beg you not to return for my sake. I would not have you
undertake a battle which will be so desperate. I thank you for
your promised word that you would gladly undertake it, but
consider yourself now released, for it is better that I should
die alone than that I should see them rejoice over your death as
well as mine; they would not spare my life after they had put you
to death. So it is better for you to remain alive than that we
both should meet death." "That is very ungrateful remark, my
dear," says my lord Yvain; "I suppose that either you do not wish
to be delivered from death, or else that you scorn the comfort I
bring you with my aid. I will not discuss the matter more, for
you have surely done so much for me that I cannot fail you in any
need. I know that you are in great distress; but, if it be God's
will, in whom I trust, they shall all three be discomfited. So
no more upon that score: I am going off now to find some shelter
in this wood, for there is no dwelling near at hand." "Sire,"
she says, "may God give you both good shelter and good night, and
protect you as I desire from everything that might do you harm!"
Then my lord Yvain departs, and the lion as usual after him.
They journeyed until they came to a baron's fortified place,
which was completely surrounded by a massive, strong, and high
wall. The castle, being extraordinarily well protected, feared
no assault of catapult or storming-machine; but outside the walls
the ground was so completely cleared that not a single hut or
dwelling remained standing. You will learn the cause of this a
little later, when the time comes. My lord Yvain made his way
directly toward the fortified place, and seven varlets came out
who lowered the bridge and advanced to meet him. But they were
terrified at sight of the lion, which they saw with him, and
asked him kindly to leave the lion at the gate lest he should
wound or kill them. And he replies: "Say no more of that! For I
shall not enter without him. Either we shall both find shelter
here or else I shall stay outside; he is as dear to me as I am
myself. Yet you need have no fear of him! For I shall keep him
so well in hand that you may be quite confident." They made
answer: "Very well!" Then they entered the town, and passed on
until they met knights and ladies and charming damsels coming
down the street, who salute him and wait to remove his armour as
they say: "Welcome to our midst, fair sire! And may God grant
that you tarry here until you may leave with great honour and
satisfaction!" High and low alike extend to him a glad welcome,
and do all they can for him, as they joyfully escort him into the
town. But after they had expressed their gladness they are
overwhelmed by grief, which makes them quickly forget their joy,
as they begin to lament and weep and beat themselves. Thus, for
a long space of time, they cease not to rejoice or make lament:
it is to honour their guest that they rejoice, but their heart is
not in what they do, for they are greatly worried over an event
which they expect to take place on the following day, and they
feel very sure and certain that it will come to pass before
midday. My lord Yvain was so surprised that they so often
changed their mood, and mingled grief with their happiness, that
he addressed the lord of the place on the subject. "For God's
sake," he said, "fair gentle sir, will you kindly inform me why
you have thus honoured me, and shown at once such joy and such
heaviness?" "Yes, if you desire to know, but it would be better
for you to desire ignorance and silence. I will never tell you
willingly anything to cause you grief. Allow us to continue to
lament, and do you pay no attention to what we do!" "It would be
quite impossible for me to see you sad and nor take it upon my
heart, so I desire to know the truth, whatever chagrin may result
to me." "Well, then," he said, "I will tell you all. I have
suffered much from a giant, who has insisted that I should give
him my daughter, who surpasses in beauty all the maidens in the
world. This evil giant, whom may God confound, is named Harpin
of the Mountain. Not a day passes without his taking all of my
possessions upon which he can lay his hands. No one has a better
right than I to complain, and to be sorrowful, and to make
lament. I might well lose my senses from very grief, for I had
six sons who were knights, fairer than any I knew in the world,
and the giant has taken all six of them. Before my eyes he
killed two of them, and to-morrow he will kill the other four,
unless I find some one who will dare to fight him for the
deliverance of my sons, or unless I consent to surrender my
daughter to him; and he says that when he has her in his
possession he will give her over to be the sport of the vilest
and lewdest fellows in his house, for he would scorn to take her
now for himself. That is the disaster which awaits me to-morrow,
unless the Lord God grant me His aid. So it is no wonder, fair
sir, if we are all in tears. But for your sake we strive for the
moment to assume as cheerful a countenance as we can. For he is
a fool who attracts a gentleman to his presence and then does not
honour him; and you seem to be a very perfect gentleman. Now I
have told you the entire story of our great distress. Neither in
town nor in fortress has the giant left us anything, except what
we have here. If you had noticed, you must have seen this
evening that he has not left us so much as an egg, except these
walls which are new; for he has razed the entire town. When he
had plundered all he wished, he set fire to what remained. In
this way he has done me many an evil turn."

(Vv. 3899-3956.) My lord Yvain listened to all that his host
told him, and when he had heard it all he was pleased to answer
him: "Sire, I am sorry and distressed about this trouble of
yours; but I marvel greatly that you have not asked assistance at
good King Arthur's court. There is no man so mighty that he
could not find at his court some who would be glad to try their
strength with his." Then the wealthy man reveals and explains to
him that he would have had efficient help if he had known where
to find my lord Gawain. "He would not have failed me upon this
occasion, for my wife is his own sister; but a knight from a
strange land, who went to court to seek the King's wife, has led
her away. However, he could not have gotten possession of her by
any means of his own invention, had it not been for Kay, who so
befooled the King that he gave the Queen into his charge and
placed her under his protection. He was a fool, and she
imprudent to entrust herself to his escort. And I am the one who
suffers and loses in all this; for it is certain that my
excellent lord Gawain would have made haste to come here, had he
known the facts, for the sake of his nephews and his niece. But
he knows nothing of it, wherefore I am so distressed that my
heart is almost breaking, for he is gone in pursuit of him, to
whom may God bring shame and woe for having led the Queen away."
While listening to this recital my lord Yvain does not cease to
sigh. Inspired by the pity which he feels, he makes this reply:
"Fair gentle sire, I would gladly undertake this perilous
adventure, if the giant and your sons should arrive to-morrow in
time to cause me no delay, for tomorrow at noon I shall be
somewhere else, in accordance with a promise I have made." "Once
for all, fair sire," the good man said, "I thank you a hundred
thousand times for your willingness." And all the people of the
house likewise expressed their gratitude.

(Vv. 3957-4384.) Just then the damsel came out of a room, with
her graceful body and her face so fair and pleasing to look upon.
She was very simple and sad and quiet as she came, for there was
no end to the grief she felt: she walked with her head bowed to
the ground. And her mother, too, came in from an adjoining room,
for the gentleman had sent for them to meet his guest. They
entered with their mantles wrapped about them to conceal their
tears; and he bid them throw back their mantles, and hold up
their heads, saying: "You ought not to hesitate to obey my
behests, for God and good fortune have given us here a very well-
born gentleman who assures me that he will fight against the
giant. Delay no longer now to throw yourselves at his feet!"
"May God never let me see that!" my lord Yvain hastens to
exclaim; "surely it would not be proper under any circumstances
for the sister and the niece of my lord Gawain to prostrate
themselves at my feet. May God defend me from ever giving place
to such pride as to let them fall at my feet! Indeed, I should
never forget the shame which I should feel; but I should be very
glad if they would take comfort until to-morrow, when they may
see whether God will consent to aid them. I have no other
request to make, except that the giant may come in such good time
that I be not compelled to break my engagement elsewhere; for I
would not fail for anything to be present to-morrow noon at the
greatest business I could ever undertake." Thus he is unwilling
to reassure them completely, for he fears that the giant may not
come early enough to allow him to reach in time the damsel who is
imprisoned in the chapel. Nevertheless, he promises them enough
to arouse good hope in them. They all alike join in thanking
him, for they place great confidence in his prowess, and they
think he must be a very good man, when they see the lion by his
side as confident as a lamb would be. They take comfort and
rejoice because of the hope they stake on him, and they indulge
their grief no more. When the time came they led him off to bed
in a brightly lighted room; both the damsel and her mother
escorted him, for they prized him dearly, and would have done so
a hundred thousand times more had they been informed of his
prowess and courtesy. He and the lion together lay down there
and took their rest. The others dared not sleep in the room; but
they closed the door so tight that they could not come out until
the next day at dawn. When the room was thrown open he got up
and heard Mass, and then, because of the promise he had made, he
waited until the hour of prime. Then in the hearing of all he
summoned the lord of the town and said: "My lord, I have no more
time to wait, but must ask your permission to leave at once; I
cannot tarry longer here. But believe truly that I would gladly
and willingly stay here yet awhile for the sake of the nephews
and the niece of my beloved lord Gawain, if I did not have a
great business on hand, and if it were not so far away." At this
the damsel's blood quivered and boiled with fear, as well as the
lady's and the lord's. They were so afraid he would go away that
they were on the point of humbling themselves and casting
themselves at his feet, when they recalled that he would not
approve or permit their action. Then the lord makes him an offer
of all he will take of his lands or wealth, if only he will wait
a little longer. And he replied: "God forbid that ever I should
take anything of yours!" Then the damsel, who is in dismay,
begins to weep aloud, and beseeches him to stay. Like one
distracted and prey to dread, she begs him by the glorious queen
of heaven and of the angels, and by the Lord, not to go but to
wait a little while; and then, too, for her uncle's sake, whom he
says he knows, and loves, and esteems. Then his heart is touched
with deep pity when he hears her adjuring him in the name of him
whom he loves the most, and by the mistress of heaven, and by the
Lord, who is the very honey and sweet savour of pity. Filled
with anguish he heaved a sigh, for were the kingdom of Tarsus at
stake he would not see her burned to whom he had pledged his aid.
If he could not reach her in time, he would be unable to endure
his life, or would live on without his wits on the other hand,
the kindness of his friend, my lord Gawain, only increased his
distress; his heart almost bursts in half at the thought that he
cannot delay. Nevertheless, he does not stir, but delays and
waits so long that the giant came suddenly, bringing with him the
knights: and hanging from his neck he carried a big square stake
with a pointed end, and with this he frequently spurred them on.
For their part they had no clothing on that was worth a straw,
except some soiled and filthy shirts: and their feet and hands
were bound with cords, as they came riding upon four limping
jades, which were weak, and thin, and miserable. As they came
riding along beside a wood, a dwarf, who was puffed up like a
toad, had tied the horses' tails together, and walked beside
them, beating them remorselessly with a four-knotted scourge
until they bled, thinking thereby to be doing something
wonderful. Thus they were brought along in shame by the giant
and the dwarf. Stopping in the plain in front of the city gate,
the giant shouts out to the noble lord that he will kill his sons
unless he delivers to him his daughter, whom he will surrender to
his vile fellows to become their sport. For he no longer loves
her nor esteems her, that he should deign to abase himself to
her. She shall be constantly beset by a thousand lousy and
ragged knaves, vacant wretches, and scullery boys, who all shall
lay hands on her. The worthy man is well-nigh beside himself
when he hears how his daughter will be made a bawd, or else,
before his very eyes, his four sons will be put to a speedy
death. His agony is like that of one who would rather be dead
than alive. Again and again he bemoans his fate, and weeps aloud
and sighs. Then my frank and gentle lord Yvain thus began to
speak to him: "Sire, very vile and impudent is that giant who
vaunts himself out there. But may God never grant that he should
have your daughter in his power! He despises her and insults her
openly. It would be too great a calamity if so lovely a creature
of such high birth were handed over to become the sport of boys.
Give me now my arms and horse! Have the drawbridge lowered, and
let me pass. One or the other must be cast down, either I or he,
I know not which. If I could only humiliate the cruel wretch who
is thus oppressing you, so that he would release your sons and
should come and make amends for the insulting words he has spoken
to you, then I would commend you to God and go about my
business." Then they go to get his horse, and hand over to him
his arms, striving so expeditiously that they soon have him quite
equipped. They delayed as little as they could in arming him.
When his equipment was complete, there remained nothing but to
lower the bridge and let him go. They lowered it for him, and he
went out. But the lion would by no means stay behind. All those
who were left behind commended the knight to the Saviour, for
they fear exceedingly lest their devilish enemy, who already had
slain so many good men on the same field before their eyes, would
do the same with him. So they pray God to defend him from death,
and return him to them safe and sound, and that He may give him
strength to slay the giant. Each one softly prays to God in
accordance with his wish. And the giant fiercely came at him,
and with threatening words thus spake to him: "By my eyes, the
man who sent thee here surely had no love for thee! No better
way could he have taken to avenge himself on thee. He has chosen
well his vengeance for whatever wrong thou hast done to him."
But the other, fearing naught, replies: "Thou treatest of what
matters not. Now do thy best, and I'll do mine. Idle parley
wearies me." Thereupon my lord Yvain, who was anxious to depart,
rides at him. He goes to strike him on the breast, which was
protected by a bear's skin, and the giant runs at him with his
stake raised in air. My lord Yvain deals him such a blow upon
the chest that he thrusts through the skin and wets the tip of
his lance in his body's blood by way of sauce. And the giant
belabours him with the stake, and makes him bend beneath the
blows. My lord Yvain then draws the sword with which he knew how
to deal fierce blows. He found the giant unprotected, for he
trusted in his strength so much that he disdained to arm himself.
And he who had drawn his blade gave him such a slash with the
cutting edge, and not with the flat side, that he cut from his
cheek a slice fit to roast. Then the other in turn gave him such
a blow with the stake that it made him sing in a heap upon his
horse's neck. Thereupon the lion bristles up, ready to lend his
master aid, and leaps up in his anger and strength, and strikes
and tears like so much bark the heavy bearskin the giant wore,
and he tore away beneath the skin a large piece of his thigh,
together with the nerves and flesh. The giant escaped his
clutches, roaring and bellowing like a bull, for the lion had
badly wounded him. Then raising his stake in both hands, he
thought to strike him, but missed his aim, when the lion leaded
backward so he missed his blow, and fell exhausted beside my lord
Yvain, but without either of them touching the other. Then my
lord Yvain took aim and landed two blows on him. Before he could
recover himself he had severed with the edge of his sword the
giant's shoulder from his body. With the next blow he ran the
whole blade of his sword through his liver beneath his chest; the
giant falls in death's embrace. And if a great oak tree should
fall, I think it would make no greater noise than the giant made
when he tumbled down. All those who were on the wall would fain
have witnessed such a blow. Then it became evident who was the
most fleet of foot, for all ran to see the game, just like hounds
which have followed the beast until they finally come up with
him. So men and women in rivalry ran forward without delay to
where the giant lay face downward. The daughter comes running,
and her mother too. And the four brothers rejoice after the woes
they have endured. As for my lord Yvain they are very sure that
they could not detain him for any reason they might allege, but
they beseech him to return and stay to enjoy himself as soon as
he shall have completed the business which calls him away. And
he replies that he cannot promise them anything, for as yet he
cannot guess whether it will fare well or ill with him. But thus
much did he say to his host: that he wished that his four sons
and his daughter should take the dwarf and go to my lord Gawain
when they hear of his return, and should tell and relate to him
how he has conducted himself. For kind actions are of no use if
you are not willing that they be known. And they reply: "It is
not right that such kindness as this should be kept hid: we shall
do whatever you desire. But tell us what we can say when we come
before him. Whose praises can we speak, when we know not what
your name may be?" And he answers them: "When you come before
him, you may say thus much: that I told you `The Knight with the
Lion' was my name. And at the same time I must beg you to tell
him from me that, if he does not recognise who I am, yet he knows
me well and I know him. Now I must be gone from here, and the
thing which most alarms me is that I may too long have tarried
here, for before the hour of noon be passed I shall have plenty
to do elsewhere, if indeed I can arrive there in time." Then,
without further delay, he starts. But first his host begged him
insistently that he would take with him his four sons: for there
was none of them who would not strive to serve him, if he would
allow it. But it did not please or suit him that any one should
accompany him; so he left the place to them, and went away alone.
And as soon as he starts, riding as fast as his steed can carry
him, he heads toward the chapel. The path was good and straight,
and he knew well how to keep the road. But before he could reach
the chapel, the damsel had been dragged out and the pyre prepared
upon which she was to be placed. Clad only in a shift, she was
held bound before the fire by those who wrongly attributed to her
an intention she had never had. My lord Yvain arrived, and,
seeing her beside the fire into which she was about to be cast,
he was naturally incensed. He would be neither courteous nor
sensible who had any doubt about that fact. So it is true that
he was much incensed; but he cherishes within himself the hope
that God and the Right will be on his side. In such helpers he
confides; nor does he scorn his lion's aid. Rushing quickly
toward the crowd, he shouts: "Let the damsel be, you wicked folk!
Having committed no crime, it is not right that she should be
cast upon a pyre or into a furnace." And they draw off on either
side, leaving a passage-way for him. But he yearns to see with
his own eyes her whom his heart beholds in whatever place she may
be. His eyes seek her until he finds her, while he subdues and
holds in check his heart, just as one holds in check with a
strong curb a horse that pulls. Nevertheless, he gladly gazes at
her, and sighs the while; but he does not sigh so openly that his
action is detected; rather does he stifle his sighs, though with
difficulty. And he is seized with pity at hearing, seeing, and
perceiving the grief of the poor ladies, who cried: "Ah, God, how
hast Thou forgotten us! How desolate we shall now remain when we
lose so kind a friend, who gave us such counsel and such aid, and
interceded for us at court! It was she who prompted madame to
clothe us with her clothes of vair. Henceforth the situation
will change, for there will be no one to speak for us! Cursed be
he who is the cause of our loss! For we shall fare badly in all
this. There will be no one to utter such advice as this: `My
lady, give this vair mantle, this cloak, and this garment to such
and such an honest dame! Truly, such charity will be well
employed, for she is in very dire need of them.' No such words
as these shall be uttered henceforth, for there is no one else
who is frank and courteous; but every one solicits for himself
rather than for some one else, even though he have no need."

(Vv. 4385-4474.) Thus they were bemoaning their fate; and my
lord Yvain who was in their midst, heard their complaints, which
were neither groundless nor assumed. He saw Lunete on her knees
and stripped to her shift, having already made confession, and
besought God's mercy for her sins. Then he who had loved her
deeply once came to her and raised her up, saying: "My damsel,
where are those who blame and accuse you? Upon the spot, unless
they refuse, battle will be offered them." And she, who had
neither seen nor looked at him before, said: "Sire. you come from
God in this time of my great need! The men who falsely accuse me
are all ready before me here; if you had been a little later I
should soon have been reduced to fuel and ashes. You have come
here in my defence, and may God give you the power to accomplish
it in proportion as I am guiltless of the accusation which is
made against me!" The seneschal and his two brothers heard these
words. "Ah!" they exclaim, "woman, chary of uttering truth but
generous with lies! He indeed is mad who for thy words assumes
so great a task. The knight must be simple-minded who has come
here to die for thee, for he is alone and there are three of us.
My advice to him is that he turn back before any harm shall come
to him." Then he replies, as one impatient to begin: "Whoever is
afraid, let him run away! I am not so afraid of your three
shields that I should go off defeated without a blow. I should
be indeed discourteous, if, while yet unscathed and in perfect
case, I should leave the place and field to you. Never, so long
as I am alive and sound, will I run away before such threats.
But I advise thee to set free the damsel whom thou hast unjustly
accused; for she tells me, and I believe her word, and she has
assured me upon the salvation of her soul, that she never
committed, or spoke, or conceived any treason against her
mistress. I believe implicitly what she has told me, and will
defend her as best I can, for I consider the righteousness of her
cause to be in my favour. For, if the truth be known, God always
sides with the righteous cause, for God and the Right are one;
and if they are both upon my side, then I have better company and
better aid than thou." (23) Then the other responds imprudently
that he may make every effort that pleases him and is convenient
to do him injury, provided that his lion shall not do him harm.
And he replies that he never brought the lion to champion his
cause, nor does he wish any but himself to take a hand: but if
the lion attacks him, let him defend himself against him as best
he can, for concerning him he will give no guarantee. Then the
other answers: "Whatever thou mayst say; unless thou now warn thy
lion, and make him stand quietly to one side, there is no use of
thy longer staying here, but begone at once, and so shalt thou be
wise; for throughout this country every one is aware how this
girl betrayed her lady, and it is right that she receive her due
reward in fire and flame." "May the Holy Spirit forbid!" says he
who knows the truth; "may God not let me stir from here until I
have delivered her!" Then he tells the lion to withdraw and to
lie down quietly, and he does so obediently.

(Vv. 4475-4532.) The lion now withdrew, and the parley and
quarrel being ended between them two, they all took their
distance for the charge. The three together spurred toward him,
and he went to meet them at a walk. He did not wish to be
overturned or hurt at this first encounter. So he let them split
their lances, while keeping his entire, making for them a target
of his shield, whereon each one broke his lance. Then he
galloped off until he was separated from them by the space of an
acre; but he soon returned to the business in hand, having no
desire to delay. On his coming up the second time, he reached
the seneschal before his two brothers, and breaking his lance
upon his body, he carried him to earth in spite of himself, and
he gave him such a powerful blow that for a long while he lay
stunned, incapable of doing him any harm. And then the other two
came at him with their swords bared, and both deal him great
blows, but they receive still heavier blows from him. For a
single one of the blows he deals is more than a match for two of
theirs; thus he defends himself so well that they have no
advantage over him, until the seneschal gets up and does his best
to injure him, in which attempt the others join, until they begin
to press him and get the upper hand. Then the lion, who is
looking on, delays no longer to lend him aid; for it seems to him
that he needs it now. And all the ladies, who are devoted to the
damsel, beseech God repeatedly and pray to Him earnestly not to
allow the death or the defeat of him who has entered the fray on
her account. The ladies, having no other weapons, thus assist
him with their prayers. And the lion brings him such effective
aid, that at his first attack, he strikes so fiercely the
seneschal, who was now on his feet, that he makes the meshes fly
from the hauberk like straw, and he drags him down with such
violence that he tears the soft flesh from his shoulder and all
down his side. He strips whatever he touches, so that the
entrails lie exposed. The other two avenge this blow.

(Vv. 4533-4634.) Now they are all even on the field. The
seneschal is marked for death, as he turns and welters in the red
stream of warm blood pouring from his body. The lion attacks the
others; for my lord Yvain is quite unable, though he did his best
by beating or by threatening him, to drive him back; but the lion
doubtless feels confident that his master does not dislike his
aid, but rather loves him the more for it: so he fiercely attacks
them, until they have reason to complain of his blows, and they
wound him in turn and use him badly. When my lord Yvain sees his
lion wounded, his heart is wroth within his breast, and rightly
so; but he makes such efforts to avenge him, and presses them so
hard, that he completely reduces them; they no longer resist him,
but surrender to him at discretion, because of the lion's help,
who is now in great distress; for he was wounded everywhere, and
had good cause to be in pain. For his part, my lord Yvain was by
no means in a healthy state, for his body bore many a wound. But
he is not so anxious about himself as about his lion, which is in
distress. Now he has delivered the damsel exactly in accordance
with his wish, and the lady has very willingly dismissed the
grudge that she bore her. And those men were burned upon the
pyre which had been kindled for the damsel's death; for it is
right and just that he who has misjudged another, should suffer
the same manner of death as that to which he had condemned the
other. Now Lunete is joyous and glad at being reconciled with
her mistress, and together they were more happy than any one ever
was before. Without recognising him, all present offered to him,
who was their lord, their service so long as life should last;
even the lady, who possessed unknowingly his heart, begged him
insistently to tarry there until his lion and he had quite
recovered. And he replied: "Lady, I shall not now tarry here
until my lady removes from me her displeasure and anger: then the
end of all my labours will come." "Indeed," she said, "that
grieves me. I think the lady cannot be very courteous who
cherishes ill-will against you. She ought not to close her door
against so valorous a knight as you, unless he had done her some
great wrong." "Lady,' he replies, "however great the hardship
be, I am pleased by what ever may be her will. But speak to me
no more of that; for I shall say nothing of the cause or crime,
except to those who are informed of it." "Does any one know it,
then, beside you two?" "Yes, truly, lady." "Well, tell us at
least your name, fair sir; then you will be free to go." "Quite
free, my lady? No, I shall not be free. I owe more than I can
pay. Yet, I ought not to conceal from you my name. You will
never hear of `The Knight with the Lion' without hearing of me;
for I wish to be known by that name." "For God's sake, sir, what
does that name mean? For we never saw you before, nor have we
ever heard mentioned this name of yours." "My lady, you may from
that infer that my fame is not widespread." Then the lady says:
"Once more, if it did not oppose your will, I would pray you to
tarry here." "Really, my lady, I should not dare, until I knew
certainly that I had regained my lady's good-will." "Well, then,
go in God's name, fair sir; and, if it be His will, may He
convert your grief and sorrow into joy." "Lady," says he, "may
God hear your prayer." Then he added softly under his breath:
"Lady, it is you who hold the key, and, though you know it not,
you hold the casket in which my happiness is kept under lock."

(Vv. 4635-4674.) Then he goes away in great distress, and there
is no one who recognises him save Lunete, who accompanied him a
long distance. Lunete alone keeps him company, and he begs her
insistently never to reveal the name of her champion. "Sire,"
says she, "I will never do so." Then he further requested her
that she should not forget him, and that she should keep a place
for him in his mistress' heart, whenever the chance arose. She
tells him to be at ease on that score; for she will never be
forgetful, nor unfaithful, nor idle. Then he thanks her a
thousand times, and he departs pensive and oppressed, because of
his lion that he must needs carry, being unable to follow him on
foot. He makes for him a litter of moss and ferns in his shield.
When he has made a bed for him there, he lays him in it as gently
as he can, and carries him thus stretched out full length on the
inner side of his shield. Thus, in his shield he bears him off,
until he arrives before the gate of a mansion, strong and fair.
Finding it closed, he called, and the porter opened it so
promptly that he had no need to call but once. He reaches out to
take his rein, and greets him thus: "Come in, fair sire. I offer
you the dwelling of my lord, if it please you to dismount." "I
accept the offer gladly," he replies, "for I stand in great need
of it, and it is time to find a lodging."

(Vv. 4675-4702.) Thereupon, he passed through the gate, and saw
the retainers in a mass coming to meet him. They greeted him and
helped him from his horse, and laid down upon the pavement his
shield with the lion on it. And some, taking his horse, put it
in a stable: while others very properly relieved him of his arms
and took them. Then the lord of the castle heard the news, and
at once came down into the courtyard, and greeted him. And his
lady came down, too, with all her sons and daughters and a great
crowd of other people, who all rejoiced to offer him a lodging.
They gave him a quiet room, because they deemed that he was sick;
but their good nature was put to a test when they allowed the
lion to go with him. His cure was undertaken by two maidens
skilled in surgery, who were daughters of the lord. I do not
know how many days he stayed there, until he and his lion, being
cured, were compelled to proceed upon their way.

(Vv. 4703-4736.) But within this time it came about that my lord
of Noire Espine had a struggle with Death, and so fierce was
Death's attack that he was forced to die. After his death it
happened that the elder of two daughters whom he had, announced
that she would possess uncontested all the estates for herself
during her entire lifetime, and that she would give no share to
her sister. And the other one said that she would go to King
Arthur's court to seek help for the defence of her claim to the
land. When the former saw that her sister would by no means
concede all the estates to her without contest, she was greatly
concerned, and thought that, if possible, she would get to court
before her. At once she prepared and equipped herself, and
without any tarrying or delay, she proceeded to the court. The
other followed her, and made all the haste she could; but her
journey was all in vain, for her eider sister had already
presented her case to my lord Gawain, and he had promised to
execute her will. But there was an agreement between them that
if any one should learn of the facts from her, he would never
again take arms for her, and to this arrangement she gave

(Vv. 4737-4758.) Just then the other sister arrived at court,
clad in a short mantle of scarlet cloth and fresh ermine. It
happened to be the third day after the Queen had returned from
the captivity in which Maleagant had detained her with all the
other prisoners; but Lancelot had remained behind, treacherously
confined within a tower. And on that very day, when the damsel
came to court, news was received of the cruel and wicked giant
whom the knight with the lion had killed in battle. In his name,
my lord Gawain was greeted by his nephews and niece, who told him
in detail of all the great service and great deeds of prowess he
had done for them for his sake, and how that he was well
acquainted with him, though not aware of his identity.

(Vv. 4759-4820.) All this was heard by her, who was plunged
thereby into great despair and sorrow and dejection; for, since
the best of the knights was absent, she thought she would find no
aid or counsel at the court. She had already made several loving
and insistent appeals to my lord Gawain; but he had said to her:
"My dear, it is useless to appeal to me; I cannot do it; I have
another affair on hand, which I shall in no wise give up." Then
the damsel at once left him, and presented herself before the
King. "O King," said she, "I have come to thee and to thy court
for aid. But I find none, and I am very much mazed that I can
get no counsel here. Yet it would not be right for me to go away
without taking leave. My sister may know, however, that she
might obtain by kindness whatever she desired of my property; but
I will never surrender my heritage to her by force, if I can help
it, and if I can find any aid or counsel." "You have spoken
wisely," said the King; "since she is present here, I advise,
recommend, and urge her to surrender to you what is your right."
Then the other, who was confident of the best knight in the
world, replied: "Sire, may God confound me, if ever I bestow on
her from my estates any castle, town, clearing, forest, land, or
anything else. But if any knight dares to take arms on her
behalf and desires to defend her cause, let him step forth at
once." "Your offer to her is not fair; she needs more time," the
King replied; "if she desires, she may have forty days to secure
a champion, according to the practice of all courts." To which
the elder sister replied: "Fair King, my lord, you may establish
your laws as it pleases you, and as seems good, nor is it my
place to gainsay you, so I must consent to the postponement, if
she desires it." Whereupon, the other says that she does desire
it, and she makes formal request for it. Then she commended the
King to God, and left the court resolving to devote her life to
the search through all the land for the Knight with the Lion, who
devotes himself to succouring women in need of aid.

(Vv. 4821-4928.) Thus she entered upon her quest, and traversed
many a country without hearing any news of him, which caused her
such grief that she fell sick. But it was well for her that it
happened so; for she came to the dwelling of a friend of hers, by
whom she was dearly loved. By this time her face showed clearly
that she was not in good health. They insisted upon detaining
her until she told them of her plight; whereupon, another damsel
took up the quest wherein she had been engaged, and continued the
search on her behalf. So while the one remained in this retreat,
the other rode rapidly all day long, until the darkness of night
came on, and caused her great anxiety. (24) And her trouble was
doubled when the rain came on with terrible violence, as if God
Himself were doing His worst, while she was in the depths of the
forest. The night and the woods cause her great distress, but
she is more tormented by the rain than by either the woods or the
night. And the road was so bad that her horse was often up to
the girth in mud; any damsel might well be terrified to be in the
woods, without escort, in such bad weather and in such darkness
that she could not see the horse she was riding. So she called
on God first, and His mother next, and then on all the saints in
turn, and offered up many a prayer that God would lead her out
from this forest and conduct her to some lodging-place. She
continued in prayer until she heard a horn, at which she greatly
rejoiced; for she thought now she would find shelter, if she
could only reach the place. So she turned in the direction of
the sound, and came upon a paved road which led straight toward
the horn whose sound she heard; for the horn had given three
long, loud blasts. And she made her way straight toward the
sound, until she came to a cross which stood on the right side of
the road, and there she thought that she might find the horn and
the person who had sounded it. So she spurred her horse in that
direction, until she drew near a bridge, and descried the white
walls and the barbican of a circular castle. Thus, by chance she
came upon the castle, setting her course by the sound which had
led her thither. She had been attracted by the sound of the horn
blown by a watchman upon the walls. As soon as the watchman
caught sight of her, he called to her, then came down, and taking
the key of the gate, opened it for her and said: "Welcome,
damsel, whoe'er you be. You shall be well lodged this night."
"I have no other desire than that," the damsel replied, as he let
her in. After the toil and anxiety she had endured that day, she
was fortunate to find such a lodging-place; for she was very
comfortable there. After the meal the host addressed her, and
inquired where she was going and what was her quest. Whereupon,
she thus replied: "I am seeking one whom I never saw, so far as I
am aware, and never knew; but he has a lion with him, and I am
told that, if I find him, I can place great confidence in him."
"I can testify to that," the other said: "for the day before
yesterday God sent him here to me in my dire need. Blessed be
the paths which led him to my dwelling. For he made me glad by
avenging me of a mortal enemy and killing him before my eyes.
Outside yonder gate you may see to-morrow the body of a mighty
giant, whom he slew with such ease that he hardly had to sweat."
"For God's sake, sire," the damsel said, "tell me now the truth,
if you know whither he went, and where he is." "I don't know,"
he said, "as God sees me here; but to-morrow I will start you on
the road by which he went away from here." "And may God," said
she, "lead me where I may hear true news of him. For if I find
him, I shall be very glad."

(Vv. 4929-4964.) Thus they continued in long converse until at
last they went to bed. When the day dawned, the maid arose,
being in great concern to find the object of her quest. And the
master of the house arose with all his companions, and set her
upon the road which led straight to the spring beneath the pine.
And she, hastening on her way toward the town, came and asked the
first men whom she met, if they could tell her where she would
find the lion and the knight who travelled in company. And they
told her that they had seen him defeat three knights in that very
place. Whereupon, she said at once: "For God's sake, since you
have said so much, do not keep back from me anything that you can
add." "No," they replied; "we know nothing more than we have
said, nor do we know what became of him. If she for whose sake
he came here, cannot give you further news, there will be no one
here to enlighten you. You will not have far to go, if you wish
to speak with her; for she has gone to make prayer to God and to
hear Mass in yonder church, and judging by the time she has been
inside, her orisons have been prolonged."

(Vv. 4965-5106.) While they were talking thus, Lunete came out
from the church, and they said: "There she is." Then she went to
meet her, and they greeted each other. She asked Lunete at once
for the information she desired; and Lunete said that she would
have a palfrey saddled; for she wished to accompany her, and
would take her to an enclosure where she had left him. The other
maiden thanked her heartily. Lunete mounts the palfrey which is
brought without delay, and, as they ride, she tells her how she
had been accused and charged with treason, and how the pyre was
already kindled upon which she was to be laid, and how he had
come to help her in just the moment of her need. While speaking
thus, she escorted her to the road which led directly to the spot
where my lord Yvain had parted from her. When she had
accompanied her thus far, she said: "Follow this road until you
come to a place where, if it please God and the Holy Spirit, you
will hear more reliable news of him than I can tell. I very well
remember that I left him either near here, or exactly here, where
we are now; we have not seen each other since then, and I do not
know what he has done. When he left me, he was in sore need of a
plaster for his wounds. So I will send you along after him, and
if it be God's will, may He grant that you find him to-night or
to-morrow in good health. Now go: I commend you to God. I must
not follow you any farther, lest my mistress be displeased with
me." Then Lunete leaves her and turns back; while the other
pushed on until she found a house, where my lord Yvain had
tarried until he was restored to health. She saw people gathered
before the gate, knights, ladies and men-at-arms, and the master
of the house; she saluted them, and asked them to tell her, if
possible, news of a knight for whom she sought. "Who is he?"
they ask. "I have heard it said that he is never without a lion."
"Upon my word, damsel," the master says, "he has just now left
us. You can come up with him to-night, if you are able to keep
his tracks in sight, and are careful not to lose any time."
"Sire," she answers, "God forbid. But tell me now in what
direction I must follow him." And they tell her: "This way,
straight ahead," and they beg her to greet him on their behalf.
But their courtesy was not of much avail; for, without giving any
heed, she galloped off at once. The pace seemed much too slow to
her, though her palfrey made good time. So she galloped through
the mud just the same as where the road was good and smooth,
until she caught sight of him with the lion as his companion.
Then in her gladness she exclaims: "God, help me now. At last I
see him whom I have so long pursued, and whose trace I have long
followed. But if I pursue and nothing gain, what will it profit
me to come up with him? Little or nothing, upon my word. If he
does not join in my enterprise, I have wasted all my pains."
Thus saying, she pressed on so fast that her palfrey was all in a
sweat; but she caught up with him and saluted him. He thus at
once replied to her: "God save you, fair one, and deliver you
from grief and woe." "The same to you, sire, who, I hope, will
soon be able to deliver me." Then she draws nearer to him, and
says: "Sire, I have long searched for you. The great fame of
your merit has made me traverse many a county in my weary search
for you. But I continued my quest so long, thank God, that at
last I have found you here. And if I brought any anxiety with
me, I am no longer concerned about it, nor do I complain or
remember it now. I am entirely relieved; my worry has taken
flight the moment I met with you. Moreover, the affair is none
of mine: I come to you from one that is better than I, a woman
who is more noble and excellent. But if she be disappointed in
her hopes of you, then she has been betrayed by your fair renown,
for she has no expectation of other aid. My damsel, who is
deprived of her inheritance by a sister, expects with your help
to win her suit; she will have none but you defend her cause. No
one can make her believe that any one else could bear her aid.
By securing her share of the heritage, you will have won and
acquired the love of her who is now disinherited, and you will
also increase your own renown. She herself was going in search
for you to secure the boon for which she hoped; no one else would
have taken her place, had she not been detained by an illness
which compels her to keep her bed. Now tell me, please, whether
you will dare to come, or whether you will decline." "No," he
says; "no man can win praise in a life of ease; and I will not
hold back, but will follow you gladly, my sweet friend,
whithersoever it may please you. And if she for whose sake you
have sought me out stands in some great need of me, have no fear
that I shall not do all I can for her. Now may God grant me the
happiness and grace to settle in her favour her rightful claim."

(Vv. 5107-5184.) (25) Thus conversing, they two rode away until
they approached the town of Pesme Avanture. They had no desire
to pass it by, for the day was already drawing to a close. They
came riding to the castle, when all the people, seeing them
approach, called out to the knight: "Ill come, sire, ill come.
This lodging-place was pointed out to you in order that you might
suffer harm and shame. An abbot might take his oath to that."
"Ah," he replied, "foolish and vulgar folk, full of all mischief,
and devoid of honour, why have you thus assailed me?" "Why? you
will find out soon enough, if you will go a little farther. But
you shall learn nothing more until you have ascended to the
fortress." At once my lord Yvain turns toward the tower, and the
crowd cries out, all shouting aloud at him: "Eh, eh, wretch,
whither goest thou? If ever in thy life thou hast encountered
one who worked thee shame and woe, such will be done thee there,
whither thou art going, as will never be told again by thee." My
lord Yvain, who is listening, says: "Base and pitiless people,
miserable and impudent, why do you assail me thus, why do you
attack me so? What do you wish of me, what do you want, that you
growl this way after me?" A lady, who was somewhat advanced in
years, who was courteous and sensible, said: "Thou hast no cause
to be enraged: they mean no harm in what they say; but, if thou
understoodest them aright, they are warning thee not to spend the
night up there; they dare not tell thee the reason for this, but
they are warning and blaming thee because they wish to arouse thy
fears. This they are accustomed to do in the case of all who
come, so that they may not go inside. And the custom is such
that we dare not receive in our own houses, for any reason
whatsoever, any gentleman who comes here from a distance. The
responsibility now is thine alone; no one will stand in thy way.
If thou wishest, thou mayst go up now; but my advice is to turn
back again." "Lady," he says, "doubtless it would be to my
honour and advantage to follow your advice; but I do not know
where I should find a lodging-place to-night." "Upon my word,"
says she, "I'll say no more, for the concern is none of mine. Go
wherever you please. Nevertheless, I should be very glad to see
you return from inside without too great shame; but that could
hardly be." "Lady," he says, "may God reward you for the wish.
However, my wayward heart leads me on inside, and I shall do what
my heart desires." Thereupon, he approaches the gate,
accompanied by his lion and his damsel. Then the porter calls to
him, and says: "Come quickly, come. You are on your way to a
place where you will be securely detained, and may your visit be

(Vv. 5185-5346.) The porter, after addressing him with this very
ungracious welcome, hurried upstairs. But my lord Yvain, without
making reply, passed straight on, and found a new and lofty hall;
in front of it there was a yard enclosed with large, round,
pointed stakes, and seated inside the stakes he saw as many as
three hundred maidens, working at different kinds of embroidery.
Each one was sewing with golden thread and silk, as best she
could. But such was their poverty, that many of them wore no
girdle, and looked slovenly, because so poor; and their garments
were torn about their breasts and at the elbows, and their shifts
were soiled about their necks. Their necks were thin, and their
faces pale with hunger and privation. They see him, as he looks
at them, and they weep, and are unable for some time to do
anything or to raise their eyes from the ground, so bowed down
they are with woe. When he had contemplated them for a while, my
lord Yvain turned about and moved toward the door; but the porter
barred the way, and cried: "It is no use, fair master; you shall
not get out now. You would like to be outside: but, by my head,
it is of no use. Before you escape you will have suffered such
great shame that you could not easily suffer more; so you were
not wise to enter here, for there is no question of escaping
now." "Nor do I wish to do so, fair brother," said he; "but tell
me, by thy father's soul, whence came the damsels whom I saw in
the yard, weaving cloths of silk and gold. I enjoy seeing the
work they do, but I am much distressed to see their bodies so
thin, and their faces so pale and sad. I imagine they would be
fair and charming, if they had what they desire." "I will tell
you nothing," was the reply; "seek some one else to tell you."
"That will I do, since there is no better way." Then he searches
until he finds the entrance of the yard where the damsels were at
work: and coming before them, he greets them all, and sees tears
flowing from their eyes, as they weep. Then he says to them:
"May it please God to remove from your hearts, and turn to joy,
this grief, the cause of which I do not know." One of them
answers: "May you be heard by God, to whom you have addressed
your prayer. It shall not be concealed from you who we are, and
from what land: I suppose that is what you wish to know." "For
no other purpose came I here," says he. (26) "Sire, it happened
a long while ago that the king of the Isle of Damsels went
seeking news through divers courts and countries, and he kept on
his travels like a dunce until he encountered this perilous
place. It was an unlucky hour when he first came here, for we
wretched captives who are here receive all the shame and misery
which we have in no wise deserved. And rest assured that you
yourself may expect great shame, unless a ransom for you be
accepted. But, at any rate, so it came about that my lord came
to this town, where there are two sons of the devil (do not take
it as a jest) who were born of a woman and an imp. These two
were about to fight with the king, whose terror was great, for he
was not yet eighteen years old, and they would have been able to
cleave him through like a tender lamb. So the king, in his
terror, escaped his fate as best he could, by swearing that he
would send hither each year, as required, thirty of his damsels,
and with this rent he freed himself. And when he swore, it was
agreed that this arrangement should remain in force as long as
the two devils lived. But upon the day when they should be
conquered and defeated in battle, he would be relieved from this
tribute, and we should be delivered who are now shamefully given
over to distress and misery. Never again shall we know what
pleasure is. But I spoke folly just now in referring to our
deliverance, for we shall never more leave this place. We shall
spend our days weaving cloths of silk, without ever being better
clad. We shall always be poor and naked, and shall always suffer
from hunger and thirst, for we shall never be able to earn enough
to procure for ourselves any better food. Our bread supply is
very scarce--a little in the morning and less at night, for
none of us can gain by her handiwork more than fourpence a day
for her daily bread. And with this we cannot provide ourselves
with sufficient food and clothes. For though there is not one of
us who does not earn as much as twenty sous (27) a week, yet we
cannot live without hardship. Now you must know that there is
not a single one of us who does not do twenty sous worth of work
or more, and with such a sum even a duke would be considered
rich. So while we are reduced to such poverty, he, for whom we
work, is rich with the product of our toil. We sit up many
nights, as well as every day, to earn the more, for they threaten
to do us injury, when we seek some rest, so we do not dare to
rest ourselves. But why should I tell you more? We are so
shamefully treated and insulted that I cannot tell you the fifth
part of it all. But what makes us almost wild with rage is that
we very often see rich and excellent knights, who fight with the
two devils, lose their lives on our account. They pay dearly for
the lodging they receive, as you will do to-morrow. For, whether
you wish to do so or not, you will have to fight singlehanded and
lose your fair renown with these two devils." "May God, the true
and spiritual, protect me," said my lord Yvain, "and give you
back your honour and happiness, if it be His will. I must go now
and see the people inside there, and find out what sort of
entertainment they will offer me." "Go now, sire, and may He
protect you who gives and distributes all good things."

(Vv. 5347-5456.) Then he went until he came to the hall where he
found no one, good or bad, to address him. Then he and his
companion passed through the house until they came to a garden.
They never spoke of, or mentioned, stabling their horses. But
what matters it? For those who considered them already as their
own had stabled them carefully. I do not know whether their
expectation was wise, for the horses' owners are still perfectly
hale. The horses, however, have oats and hay, and stand in
litter up to their belly. My lord Yvain and his company enter
the garden. There he sees, reclining upon his elbow upon a
silken rug, a gentleman, to whom a maiden was reading from a
romance about I know not whom. There had come to recline there
with them and listen to the romance a lady, who was the mother of
the damsel, as the gentleman was her father; they had good reason
to enjoy seeing and hearing her, for they had no other children.
She was not yet sixteen years old, and was so fair and full of
grace that the god of Love would have devoted himself entirely to
her service, if he had seen her, and would never have made her
fall in love with anybody except himself. For her sake he would
have become a man, and would lay aside his deity, and would smite
his own body with that dart whose wound never heals unless some
base physician attends to it. It is not fitting that any one
should recover until he meets with faithlessness. Any one who is
cured by other means is not honestly in love. I could tell you
so much about this wound, if you were pleased to listen to it,
that I would not get through my tale to-day. But there would be
some one who would promptly say that I was telling you but an
idle tale; for people don't fall in love nowadays, nor do they
love as they used to do, so they do not care to hear of it. (28)
But hear now in what fashion and with what manner of hospitality
my lord Yvain was received. All those who were in the garden
leaped to their feet when they saw him come, and cried out: "This
way, fair sire. May you and all you love be blessed with all
that God can do or say." I know not if they were deceiving him,
but they receive him joyfully and act as if they are pleased that
he should be comfortably lodged. Even the lord's daughter serves
him very honourably, as one should treat a worthy guest. She
relieves him of all his arms, nor was it the least attention she
bestowed on him when she herself washed his neck and face. The
lord wishes that all honour should be shown him, as indeed they
do. She gets out from her wardrobe a folded shirt, white
drawers, needle and thread for his sleeves, which she sews on,
thus clothing him. (29) May God want now that this attention and
service may not prove too costly to him! She gave him a handsome
jacket to put on over his shirt, and about his neck she placed a
brand new spotted mantle of scarlet stuff. She takes such pains
to serve him well that he feels ashamed and embarrassed. But the
damsel is so courteous and open-hearted and polite that she feels
she is doing very little. And she knows well that it is her
mother's will that she shall leave nothing undone for him which
she thinks may win his gratitude. That night at table he was so
well served with so many dishes that there were too many. The
servants who brought in the dishes might well have been wearied
by serving them. That night they did him all manner of honour,
putting him comfortably to bed, and not once going near him again
after he had retired. His lion lay at his feet, as his custom
was. In the morning, when God lighted His great light for the
world, as early as was consistent in one who was always
considerate, my lord Yvain quickly arose, as did his damsel too.
They heard Mass in a chapel, where it was promptly said for them
in honour of the Holy Spirit.

(Vv. 5457-5770.) After the Mass my lord Yvain heard bad news,
when he thought the time had come for him to leave and that
nothing would stand in his way; but it could not be in accordance
with his wish. When he said: "Sire, if it be your will, and with
your permission, I am going now," the master of the house
replied: "Friend, I will not grant you permission yet. There is
a reason why I cannot do so, for there is established in this
castle a very terrible practice which I am bound to observe. I
shall now cause to approach two great, strong fellows of mine,
against whom, whether right or wrong, you must take arms. If you
can defend yourself against them, and conquer and slay them both,
my daughter desires you as her lord, and the suzerainty of this
town and all its dependencies awaits you." "Sire," said he, "for
all this I have no desire. So may God never bestow your daughter
upon me, but may she remain with you; for she is so fair and so
elegant that the Emperor of Germany would be fortunate to win her
as his wife." "No more, fair guest," the lord replied: "there is
no need of my listening to your refusal, for you cannot escape.
He who can defeat the two, who are about to attack you, must by
right receive my castle, and all my land, and my daughter as his
wife. There is no way of avoiding or renouncing the battle. But
I feel sure that your refusal of my daughter is due to cowardice,
for you think that in this manner you can completely avoid the
battle. Know, however, without fail that you must surely fight.
No knight who lodges here can possibly escape. This is a settled
custom and statute, which will endure yet for many a year, for my
daughter will never be married until I see them dead or
defeated." "Then I must fight them in spite of myself. But I
assure you that I should very gladly give it up. In spite of my
reluctance, however, I shall accept the battle, since it is
inevitable." Thereupon, the two hideous, black sons of the devil
come in, both armed with a crooked club of a cornelian cherry-
tree, which they had covered with copper and wound with brass.
They were armed from the shoulders to the knees, but their head
and face were bare, as well as their brawny legs. Thus armed,
they advanced, bearing in their hands round shields, stout and
light for fighting. The lion begins to quiver as soon as he sees
them, for he sees the arms they have, and perceives that they
come to fight his master. He is aroused, and bristles up at
once, and, trembling with rage and bold impulse, he thrashes the
earth with his tail, desiring to rescue his master before they
kill him. And when they see him they say: "Vassal, remove the
lion from here that he may not do us harm. Either surrender to
us at once, or else, we adjure you, that lion must be put where
he can take no part in aiding you or in harming us. You must
come alone to enjoy our sport, for the lion would gladly help
you, if he could." My lord Yvain then replies to them: "Take him
away yourselves if you are afraid of him. For I shall be well
pleased and satisfied if he can contrive to injure you, and I
shall be grateful for his aid." They answer: "Upon my word that
will not do; you shall never receive any help from him. Do the
best you can alone, without the help of any one. You must fight
single-handed against us two. If you were not alone, it would be
two against two; so you must follow our orders, and remove your
lion from here at once, however much you may dislike to do so."
"Where do you wish him to be?" he asks, "or where do you wish me
to put him?" Then they show him a small room, and say: "Shut him
up in there." "It shall be done, since it is your will." Then
he takes him and shuts him up. And now they bring him arms for
his body, and lead out his horse, which they give to him, and he
mounts. The two champions, being now assured about the lion,
which is shut up in the room, come at him to injure him and do
him harm. They give him such blows with the maces that his
shield and helmet are of little use, for when they hit him on the
helmet they batter it in and break it; and the shield is broken
and dissolved like ice, for they make such holes in it that one
could thrust his fists through it: their onslaught is truly
terrible. And he--what does he do against these two devils?
Urged on by shame and fear, he defends himself with all his
strength. He strains every nerve, and exerts himself to deal
heavy, and telling blows; they lost nothing by his gifts, for he
returned their attentions with double measure. In his room, the
lion's heart is heavy and sad, for he remembers the kind deed
done for him by this noble man, who now must stand in great need
of his service and aid. If now he could escape from there, he
would return him the kindness with full measure and full bushel,
without any discount whatsoever. He looks about in all
directions, but sees no way of escape. He hears the blows of the
dangerous and desperate fight, and in his grief he rages and is
beside himself. He investigates, until he comes to the
threshold, which was beginning to grow rotten; and he scratches
at it until he can squeeze himself in as far as his haunches,
when he sticks fast. Meanwhile, my lord Yvain was hard pressed
and sweating freely, for he found that the two fellows were very
strong, fierce, and persistent. He had received many a blow, and
repaid it as best he could, but without doing them any harm, for
they were well skilled in fencing, and their shields were not of
a kind to be hacked by any sword, however sharp and well tempered
it might be. So my lord Yvain had good reason to fear his death,
yet he managed to hold his own until the lion extricated himself
by continued scratching beneath the threshold. If the rascals
are not killed now, surely they will never be. For so long as
the lion knows them to be alive, they can never obtain truce or
peace with him. He seizes one of them, and pulls him down to
earth like a tree-trunk. The wretches are terrified, and there
is not a man present who does not rejoice. For he whom the lion
has dragged down will never be able to rise again, unless the
other succours him. He runs up to bring him aid, and at the same
time to protect himself, lest the lion should attack him as soon
as he had despatched the one whom he had thrown down; he was more
afraid of the lion than of his master. But my lord Yvain will be
foolish now if he allows him longer life, when he sees him turn
his back, and sees his neck bare and exposed; this chance turned
out well for him. When the rascal exposed to him his bare head
and neck, he dealt him such a blow that he smote his head from
his shoulders so quietly that the fellow never knew a word about
it. Then he dismounts, wishing to help and save the other one
from the lion, who holds him fast. But it is of no use, for
already he is in such straits that a physician can never arrive
in time; for the lion, coming at him furiously, so wounded him at
the first attack, that he was in a dreadful state. Nevertheless,
he drags the lion back, and sees that he had torn his shoulder
from its place. He is in no fear of the fellow now, for his club
has fallen from his hand, and he lies like a dead man without
action or movement; still he has enough strength to speak, and he
said as clearly as he could: "Please take your lion away, fair
sire, that he may not do me further harm. Henceforth you may do
with me whatever may be your desire. Whoever begs and prays for
mercy, ought not to have his prayer refused, unless he addresses
a heartless man. I will no longer defend myself, nor will I ever
get up from here with my own strength; so I put myself in your
hands." "Speak out then," he says, "if thou dost admit that thou
art conquered and defeated." "Sire," he says, "it is evident. I
am defeated in spite of myself, and I surrender, I promise you."
"Then thou needest have no further fear of me, and my lion will
leave thee alone." Then he is surrounded by all the crowd, who
arrive on the scene in haste. And both the lord and his lady
rejoice over him, and embrace him, and speak to him of their
daughter, saying: "Now you will be the lord and master of us all,
and our daughter will be your wife, for we bestow her upon you as
your spouse." "And for my part," he says. "I restore her to you.
Let him who has her keep her. I have no concern with her, though
I say it not in disparagement. Take it not amiss if I do not
accept her, for I cannot and must not do so. But deliver to me
now, if you will, the wretched maidens in your possession. The
agreement, as you well know, is that they shall all go free."
"What you say is true," he says: "and I resign and deliver them
freely to you: there will be no dispute on that score. But you
will be wise to take my daughter with all my wealth, for she is
fair, and charming, and sensible. You will never find again such
a rich marriage as this." "Sire," he replies, "you do not know
of my engagements and my affairs, and I do not dare to explain
them to you. But, you may be sure, when I refuse what would
never be refused by any one who was free to devote his heart and
intentions to such a fair and charming girl, that I too would
willingly accept her hand if I could, or if I were free to accept
her or any other maid. But I assure you that I cannot do it: so
let me depart in peace. For the damsel, who escorted me hither,
is awaiting me. She has kept me company, and I would not
willingly desert her whatever the future may have in store."
"You wish to go, fair sire? But how? My gate will never be
opened for you unless my judgment bids me give the command;
rather shall you remain here as my prisoner. You are acting
haughtily and making a mistake when you disdain to take my
daughter at my request." "Disdain, my lord? Upon my soul, I do
not disdain her. Whatever the penalty may be, I cannot marry a
wife or tarry here. I shall follow the damsel who is my guide:
for otherwise it cannot be. But, with your consent, I will
pledge you my right hand, and you may take my word, that, just as
you see me now, I will return if possible, and then will accept
your daughter's hand, whenever it may seem good ro you."
"Confound any one," he says, "who asks you for your word or
promise or pledge. If my daughter pleases you, you will
return quickly enough. You will not return any sooner. I think,
for having given your word or sworn an oath. Begone now. I
release you from all oaths and promises. If you are detained by
rain or wind, or by nothing at all, it is of no consequence to
me. I do not hold my daughter so cheap as to bestow her upon you
forcibly. Now go about your business. For it is quite the same
to me whether you go or whether you stay."

(Vv. 5771-5871.) Thereupon my lord Yvain turns away and delays
no longer in the castle. He escorted the poor and ill-clad
wretches, who were now released from captivity, and whom the lord
committed to his care. These maidens feel that now they are
rich, as they file out in pairs before him from the castle. I do
not believe that they would rejoice so much as they do now were
He who created the whole world to descend to earth from Heaven.
Now all those people who had insulted him in every possible way
come to beseech him for mercy and peace, and escort him on his
way. He replies that he knows nothing of what they mean. "I do
not understand what you mean," he says; "but I have nothing
against you. I do not remember that you ever said anything that
harmed me." They are very glad for what they hear, and loudly
praise his courtesy, and after escorting him a long distance,
they all commend him to God. Then the damsels, after asking his
permission, separated from him. When they left him, they all
bowed to him, and prayed and expressed the wish that God might
grant him joy and health, and the accomplishment of his desire,
wherever in the future he should go. Then he, who is anxious to
be gone, says that he hopes God will save them all. "Go," he
says, "and may God conduct you into your countries safe and
happy." Then they continue their way joyfully; and my lord Yvain
departs in the other direction. All the days of that week he
never ceases to hurry on under the escort of the maid, who was
well acquainted with the road, and with the retired place where
she had left the unhappy and disconsolate damsel who had been
deprived of her inheritance. But when she heard news of the
arrival of the maiden and of the Knight with the Lion. There
never was such joy as she felt within her heart. For now she
thinks that, if she insists, her sister will cede her a part of
her inheritance. The damsel had long lain sick, and had just
recovered from her malady. It had seriously affected her, as was
apparent from her face. Straightway she went forth to meet them,
greeting them and honouring them in every way she could. There
is no need to speak of the happiness that prevailed that night in
the house. No mention will be made of it, for the story would be
too long to tell. I pass over all that, until they mounted next
morning and went away. They rode until they saw the town where
King Arthur had been staying for a fortnight or more. And there,
too, was the damsel who had deprived her sister of her heritage,
for she had kept close to the court, waiting for the arrival of
her sister, who now draws near. But she does not worry much, for
she does not think that her sister can find any knight who can
withstand my lord Gawain's attack, and only one day of the forty
yet remains. If this single day had passed, she would have had
the reasonable and legal right to claim the heritage for herself
alone. But more stands in the way than she thinks or believes.
That night they spent outside the town in a small and humble
house, where, in accordance with their desire, they were not
recognised. At the first sign of dawn the next morning they
necessarily issue forth, but ensconce themselves in hiding until
broad daylight.

(Vv. 5872-5924.) I know not how many days had passed since my
lord Gawain had so completely disappeared that no one at court
knew anything about him, except only the damsel in whose cause he
was to fight. He had concealed himself three or four leagues
from the court, and when he returned he was so equipped that even
those who knew him perfectly could not recognise him by the arms
he bore. The damsel, whose injustice toward her sister was
evident, presented him at court in the sight of all, for she
intended with his help to triumph in the dispute where she had no
rights. So she said to the King: "My lord, time passes. The
noon hour will soon be gone, and this is the last day. As you
see, I am prepared to defend my claim. If my sister were going
to return, there would be nothing to do but await her arrival.
But I may praise God that she is not coming back again. It is
evident that she cannot better her affairs, and that her trouble
has been for naught. For my part, I have been ready all the time
up to this last day, to prove my claim to what is mine. I have
proved my point entirely without a fight, and now I may
rightfully go to accept my heritage in peace; for I shall render
no accounting for it to my sister as long as I live, and she will
lead a wretched and miserable existence." Then the King, who
well knew that the damsel was disloyally unjust toward her
sister, said to her: "My dear, upon my word, in a royal court one
must wait as long as the king's justice sits and deliberates upon
the verdict. It is not yet time to pack up, for it is my belief
that your sister will yet arrive in time." Before the King had
finished, he saw the Knight with the Lion and the damsel with
him. They two were advancing alone, having slipped away from the
lion, who had stayed where they spent the night.

(Vv. 5925-5990.) The King saw the damsel whom he did not fail to
recognise, and he was greatly pleased and delighted to see her,
for he was on her side of the quarrel, because he had regard for
what was right. Joyfully he cried out to her as soon as he
could: "Come forward, fair one: may God save you!" When the
other sister hears these words, she turns trembling, and sees her
with the knight whom she had brought to defend in her claim: then
she turned blacker than the earth. The damsel, after being
kindly welcomed by all, went to where the King was sitting. When
she had come before him, she spoke to him thus: "God save the
King and his household. If my rights in this dispute can be
settled by a champion, then it will be done by this knight who
has followed me hither. This frank and courteous knight had many
other things to do elsewhere; but he felt such pity for me that
he cast aside all his other affairs for the sake of mine. Now,
madame, my very dear sister, whom I love as much as my own heart,
would do the right and courteous thing if she would let me have
so much of what is mine by right that there might be peace
between me and her; for I ask for nothing that is hers." "Nor do
I ask for anything that is thine," the other replied; "for thou
hast nothing, and nothing shalt thou have. Thou canst never talk
so much as to gain anything by thy words. Thou mayest dry up
with grief." Then the other, who was very polite and sensible
and courteous, replied with the words: "Certainly I am sorry that
two such gentlemen as these should fight on our behalf over so
small a disagreement. But I cannot disregard my claim, for I am
in too great need of it. So I should be much obliged to you if
you would give me what is rightly mine." "Surely," the other
said, "any one would be a fool to consider thy demands. May I
burn in evil fire and flame if I give thee anything to ease thy
life! The banks of the Seine will meet, and the hour of prime
will be called noon, before I refuse to carry out the fight."
"May God and the right, which I have in this cause, and in which
I trust and have trusted till the present time, aid him, who in
charity and courtesy has offered himself in my service, though he
knows not who I am, and though we are ignorant of each other's

(Vv. 5991-6148.) So they talked until their conversation ceased,
and then produced the knights in the middle of the court. Then
all the people crowd about, as people are wont to do when they
wish to witness blows in battle or in joust. But those who were
about to fight did not recognise each other, though their
relations were wont to be very affectionate. Then do they not
love each other now? I would answer you both "yes" and "no."
And I shall prove that each answer is correct. In truth, my lord
Gawain loves Yvain and regards him as his companion, and so does
Yvain regard him, wherever he may be. Even here, if he knew who
he was, he would make much of him, and either one of them would
lay down his head for the other before he would allow any harm to
come to him. Is not that a perfect and lofty love? Yes, surely.
But, on the other hand, is not their hate equally manifest? Yes;
for it is a certain thing that doubtless each would be glad to
have broken the other's head, and so to have injured him as to
cause his humiliation. Upon my word, it is a wondrous thing,
that Love and mortal Hate should dwell together. God! How can
two things so opposed find lodging in the same dwelling-place?
It seems to me they cannot live together; for one could not dwell
with the other, without giving rise to noise and contention, as
soon as each knew of the other's presence. But upon the ground-
floor there may be several apartments: for there are halls and
sleeping-rooms. It may be the same in this case: I think Love
had ensconced himself in some hidden room, while Hate had betaken
herself to the balconies looking on the high-road, because she
wishes to be seen. Just now Hate is in the saddle, and spurs and
pricks forward as she can, to get ahead of Love who is indisposed
to move. Ah! Love, what has become of thee? Come out now, and
thou shalt see what a host has been brought up and opposed to


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