Erec Et Enide (second segment)

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Posted by Sir Randal of Elstow on February 20, 1998 at 05:22:52:

As promised I am pleased to post the second segment here and will gladly
post the third segment soon.

Fellow Citizens and Nobels please remember that the establishment
of the "Knights of Ladonia" is progressing and all interest is
welcomed. To all those wishing to see this Order of Loyal
"Knights" please send me e-mail or if you prefer the conventional
method my address in the USA is 2325 Anderson Road, Suite 130,
Covington, Kentucky 41017 USA.

Thank you! Sir Randal MacNiall Bundy

(Vv. 411-458.) The maid was charming, in sooth, for Nature had used all her skill in forming her. Nature herself had
marvelled more than five hundred times how upon this one occasion she had succeeded in creating such a perfect
thing. Never again could she so strive successfully to reproduce her pattern. Nature bears witness concerning her that
never was so fair a creature seen in all the world. In truth I say that never did Iseut the Fair have such radiant golden
tresses that she could be compared with this maiden. (8) The complexion of her forehead and face was clearer and
more delicate than the lily. But with wondrous art her face with all its delicate pallor was suffused with a fresh crimson
which Nature had bestowed upon her. Her eyes were so bright that they seemed like two stars. God never formed
better nose, mouth, and eyes. What shall I say of her beauty? In sooth, she was made to be looked at; for in her one
could have seen himself as in a mirror. So she came forth from the work- room: and when she saw the knight whom
she had never seen before, she drew back a little, because she did not know him, and in her modesty she blushed.
Erec, for his part, was amazed when he beheld such beauty in her, and the vavasor said to her: "Fair daughter dear,
take this horse and lead him to the stable along with my own horses. See that he lack for nothing: take off his saddle
and bridle, give him oats and hay, look after him and curry him, that he may be in good condition."

(Vv. 459-546) The maiden takes the horse, unlaces his breast- strap, and takes off his bridle and saddle. Now the
horse is in good hands, for she takes excellent care of him. She throws a halter over his head, rubs him down, curries
him, and makes him comfortable. Then she ties him to the manger and puts plenty of fresh sweet hay and oats before
him. Then she went back to her father, who said to her: "Fair daughter dear, take now this gentleman by the hand and
show him all honour. Take him by the hand upstairs." The maiden did not delay (for in her there was no lack of
courtesy) and led him by the hand upstairs. The lady had gone before and prepared the house. She had laid
embroidered cushions and spreads upon the couches, where they all three sat down Erec with his host beside him,
and the maiden opposite. Before them, the fire burns brightly. The vavasor had only one man-servant, and no maid for
chamber or kitchen work. This one man was busy in the kitchen preparing meat and birds for supper. A skilful cook
was he, who knew how to prepare meal in boiling water and birds on the spit. When he had the meal prepared in
accordance with the orders which had been given him, he brought them water for washing in two basins. The table
was soon set, cloths, bread, and wine set out, and they sat down to supper. They had their fill of all they needed.
When they had finished and when the table was cleared, Erec thus addressed his host, the master of the house: "Tell
me, fair host." he asked, "why your daughter, who is so passing fair and clever, is so poorly and unsuitably attired."
"Fair friend," the vavasor replies, "many a man is harmed by poverty, and even so am I. I grieve to see her so poorly
clad, and yet I cannot help it, for I have been so long involved in war that I have lost or mortgaged or sold all my land.
(9) And yet she would be well enough dressed if I allowed her to accept everything that people wish to give her. The
lord of this castle himself would have dressed her in becoming fashion and would have done her every manner of
favour, for she is his niece and he is a count. And there is no nobleman in this region, however rich and powerful, who
would not willingly have taken her to wife had I given my consent. But I am waiting yet for some better occasion,
when God shall bestow still greater honour upon her, when fortune shall bring hither some king or count who shall lead
her away, for there is under Heaven no king or count who would be ashamed of my daughter, who is so wondrous
fair that her match cannot be found. Fair, indeed, she is; but yet greater far than her beauty, is her intelligence. God
never created any one so discreet and of such open heart. When I have my daughter beside me, I don't care a marble
about all the rest of the world. She is my delight and my pastime, she is my joy and comfort, my wealth and my
treasure, and I love nothing so much as her own precious self."

(Vv. 547-690.) When Erec had listened to all that his host told him, he asked him to inform him whence came all the
chivalry that was quartered in the town. For there was no street or house so poor and small but it was full of knights
and ladies and squires. And the vavasor said to him: "Fair friend, these are the nobles of the country round; all, both
young and old, have come to a fete which is to be held in this town tomorrow; therefore the houses are so full. When
they shall all have gathered, there will be a great stir to-morrow; for in the presence of all the people there will be set
upon a silver perch a sparrow-hawk of five or six moultings -- the best you can imagine. Whoever wishes to gain the
hawk must have a mistress who is fair, prudent, and courteous. And if there be a knight so bold as to wish to defend
the worth and the name of the fairest in his eyes, he will cause his mistress to step forward and lift the hawk from the
perch, if no one dares to interpose. This is the custom they are observing, and for this each year they gather here."
Thereupon Erec speaks and asks him: "Fair host, may it not displease you, but tell me, if you know, who is a certain
knight bearing arms of azure and gold, who passed by here not long ago, having close beside him a courtly damsel,
preceded by a hump- backed dwarf." To him the host then made reply: "That is he who will win the hawk without any
opposition from the other knights. I don't believe that any one will offer opposition; this time there will be no blows or
wounds. For two years already he has won it without being challenged; and if he wins it again this year, he will have
gained permanent possession of it. Every succeeding year he may keep it without contest or challenge." Quickly Erec
makes reply: "I do not like that knight. Upon my word, had I some arms I should challenge him for the hawk. Fair
host, I beg you as a boon to advise me how I may be equipped with arms whether old or new, poor or rich, it matters
not." And he replies to him generously: "It were a pity for you to feel concern on that score! I have good fine arms
which I shall be glad to lend you. In the house I have a triple-woven hauberk, (10) which was selected from among
five hundred. And I have some fine valuable greaves, polished, handsome, and light in weight. The helmet is bright and
handsome, and the shield fresh and new. Horse, sword, and lance all I will lend you, of course; so let no more be
said." "Thank you kindly, fair gentle host! But I wish for no better sword that this one which I have brought with me,
nor for any other horse than my own, for I can get along well enough with him. If you will lend me the rest, I shall
esteem it a great favour. But there is one more boon I wish to ask of you, for which I shall make just return if God
grant that I come off from the battle with honour." And frankly he replies to him: "Ask confidently for what you want,
whatever it be, for nothing of mine shall lack you." Then Erec said that he wished to defend the hawk on behalf of his
daughter; for surely there will be no damsel who is one hundredth part as beautiful as she. And if he takes her with
him, he will have good and just reason to maintain and to prove that she is entitled to carry away the hawk. Then he
added: "Sire, you know not what guest you have sheltered here, nor do you know my estate and kin. I am the son of
a rich and puissant king: my father's name is King Lac, and the Bretons call me Erec. I belong to King Arthur's court,
and have been with him now three years. I know not if any report of my father or of me has ever reached this land.
But I promise you and vow that if you will fit me out with arms, and will give me your daughter to-morrow when I
strive for the hawk, I will take her to my country, if God grant me the victory, and I will give her a crown to wear, and
she shall be queen of three cities." "Ah, fair sir! Is it true that you are Erec, the son of Lac?" "That is who I am, indeed"
quoth he. Then the host was greatly delighted and said: "We have indeed heard of you in this country. Now I think all
the more of you, for you are very valiant and brave. Nothing now shall you be refused by me. At your request I give
you my fair daughter." Then taking her by the hand, he says: "Here, I give her to you." Erec received her joyfully, and
now has all he desired. Now they are all happy there: the father is greatly delighted, and the mother weeps for joy.
The maiden sat quiet; but she was very happy and glad that she was betrothed to him, because he was valiant and
courteous: and she knew that he would some day be king, and she should receive honour and be crowned rich queen.

(Vv. 691-746.) They had sat up very late that night. But now the beds were prepared with white sheets and soft
pillows, and when the conversation flagged they all went to bed in happy frame. Erec slept little that night, and the next
morn, at crack of dawn, he and his host rose early. They both go to pray at church, and hear a hermit chant the Mass
of the Holy Spirit, not forgetting to make an offering. When they had heard Mass both kneel before the altar and then
return to the house. Erec was eager for the battle; so he asks for arms, and they are given to him. The maiden herself
puts on his arms (though she casts no spell or charm), (11) laces on his iron greaves, and makes them fast with thong
of deer-hide. She puts on his hauberk with its strong meshes, and laces on his ventail. The gleaming helmet she sets
upon his head, and thus arms him well from tip to toe. At his side she fastens his sword, and then orders his horse to
be brought, which is done. Up he jumped clear of the ground. The damsel then brings the shield and the strong lance:
she hands him the shield, and he takes it and hangs it about his neck by the strap. She places the lance in his hand, and
when he had grasped it by the butt-end, he thus addressed the gentle vavasor: "Fair sire," quoth he, "if you please,
make your daughter ready now; for I wish to escort her to the sparrow-hawk in accordance with our agreement." The
vavasor then without delay had saddled a bay palfrey. There can nothing be said of the harness because of the dire
poverty with which the vavasor was afflicted. Saddle and bridle were put on, and up the maiden mounted all free and
in light attire, without waiting to be urged. Erec wished to delay no longer; so off he starts with the host's daughter by
his side, followed by the gentleman and his lady.

(Vv. 747-862.) Erec rides with lance erect and with the comely damsel by his side. All the people, great and small,
gaze at them with wondering eyes as they pass through the streets. And thus they question each other: "Who is yonder
knight? He must be doughty and brave, indeed, to act as escort for this fair maid. His efforts will be well employed in
proving that this damsel is the fairest of them all." One man to another says: "In very truth, she ought to have the
sparrow-hawk." Some praised the maid, while many said: "God! who can this knight be, with the fair damsel by his
side?" "I know not." "Nor I." Thus spake each one. "But his gleaming helmet becomes him well, and the hauberk, and
shield, and his sharp steel sword. He sits well upon his steed and has the bearing of a valiant vassal, well- shapen in
arm, in limb and foot." While all thus stand and gaze at them, they for their part made no delay to take their stand by
the sparrow-hawk, where to one side they awaited the knight. And now behold! they see him come, attended by his
dwarf and his damsel. He had heard the report, that a knight had come who wished to obtain the sparrow-hawk, but
he did not believe there could be in the world a knight so bold as to dare to fight with him. He would quickly defeat
him and lay him low. All the people knew him well, and all welcome him and escort him in a noisy crowd: knights,
squires, ladies, and damsels make haste to run after him. Leading them all the knight rides proudly on, with his damsel
and his dwarf at his side, and he makes his way quickly to the sparrow-hawk. But all about there was such a press of
the rough and vulgar crowd that it was impossible to touch the hawk or to come near where it was. Then the Count
arrived on the scene, and threatened the populace with a switch which he held in his hand. The crowd drew back, and
the knight advanced and said quietly to his lady: "My lady, this bird, which is so perfectly moulted and so fair, should
be yours as your just portion; for you are wondrous fair and full of charm. Yours it shall surely be so long as I live.
Step forward, my dear, and lift the hawk from the perch." The damsel was on the point of stretching forth her hand
when Erec hastened to challenge her, little heeding the other's arrogance. "Damsel," he cries, "stand back! Go dally
with some other bird, for to this one you have no right. In spite of all, I say this hawk shall never be yours. For a better
one than you claims it -- aye, much more fair and more courteous." The other knight is very wroth; but Erec does not
mind him, and bids his own maiden step forward. "Fair one." he cries, "come forth. Lift the bird from the perch, for it
is right that you should have it. Damsel, come forth! For I will make boast to defend it if any one is so bold as to
intervene. For no woman excels you in beauty or worth, in grace or honour any more than the moon outshines the
sun." The other could suffer it no longer, when he hears him so manfully offer himself to do battle. "Vassal," he cries,
"who art thou who dost thus dispute with me the hawk?" Erec boldly answers him: "A knight I am from another land.
This hawk I have come to obtain; for it is right, I say it in spite of all, that this damsel of mine should have it." "Away!"
cries the other, "it shall never be. Madness has brought thee here. If thou dost wish to have the hawk, thou shalt pay
fight dearly for it." "Pay, vassal; and how?" "Thou must fight with me, if thou dost not resign it to me." "You talk
madness," cries Erec; "for me these are idle threats; for little enough do I fear you." "Then I defy thee here and now.
The battle is inevitable." Erec replies: "God help me now; for never did I wish for aught so much." Now soon you will
hear the noise of battle.

(Vv. 863-1080.) The large place was cleared, with the people gathered all around. They draw off from each other the
space of an acre, then drive their horses together; they reach for each other with the tips of their lances, and strike
each other so hard that the shields are pierced and broken; the lances split and crack; the saddle-bows are knocked
to bits behind. They must needs lose their stirrups, so that they both fall to the ground, and the horses run off across
the field. Though smitten with the lances, they are quickly on their feet again, and draw their swords from the
scabbards. With great fierceness they attack each other, and exchange great sword blows, so that the helmets are
crushed and made to ring. Fierce is the clash of the swords, as they rain great blows upon neck and shoulders. For
this is no mere sport: they break whatever they touch, cutting the shields and shattering the hauberks. The swords are
red with crimson blood. Long the battle lasts; but they fight so lustily that they become weary and listless. Both the
damsels are in tears, and each knight sees his lady weep and raise her hands to God and pray that He may give the
honours of the battle to the one who strives for her. "Ha! vassal," quoth the knight to Erec, "let us withdraw and rest a
little; for too weak are these blows we deal. We must deal better blows than these; for now it draws near evening. It
is shameful and highly discreditable that this battle should last so long. See yonder that gentle maid who weeps for thee
and calls on God. Full sweetly she prays for thee, as does also mine for me. Surely we should do our best with our
blades of steel for the sake of our lady-loves." Erec replies: "You have spoken well." Then they take a little rest, Erec
looking toward his lady as she softly prays for him. While he sat and looked on her, great strength was recruited
within him. Her love and beauty inspired him with great boldness. He remembered the Queen, to whom he pledged
his word that he would avenge the insult done him, or would make it greater yet. "Ah! wretch," says he, "why do I
wait? I have not yet taken vengeance for the injury which this vassal permitted when his dwarf struck me in the wood."
His anger is revived within him as he summons the knight: "Vassal," quoth he, "I call you to battle anew. Too long we
have rested; let us now renew our strife." And he replies: "That is no hardship , to me." Whereupon, they again fall
upon each other. They were both expert fencers. At his first lunge the knight would have wounded Erec had he not
skilfully parried. Even so, he smote him so hard over the shield beside his temple that he struck a piece from his
helmet. Closely shaving his white coif, the sword descends, cleaving the shield through to the buckle, and cutting more
than a span from the side of his hauberk. Then he must have been well stunned, as the cold steel penetrated to the
flesh on his thigh. May God protect him now! If the blow had not glanced off, it would have cut right through his body.
But Erec is in no wise dismayed: he pays him back what is owing him, and. attacking him boldly, smites him upon the
shoulder so violently a blow that the shield cannot withstand it, nor is the hauberk of any use to prevent the sword
from penetrating to the bone. He made the crimson blood flow down to his waist-band. Both of the vassals are hard
fighters: they fight with honours even, for one cannot gain from the other a single foot of ground. Their hauberks are so
torn and their shields so hacked, that there is actually not enough of them left to serve as a protection. So they fight all
exposed. Each one loses a deal of blood, and both grow weak. He strikes Erec and Erec strikes him. Erec deals him
such a tremendous blow upon the helmet that he quite stuns him. Then he lets him have it again and again, giving him
three blows in quick succession, which entirely split the helmet and cut the coif beneath it. The sword even reaches the
skull and cuts a bone of his head, but without penetrating the brain. He stumbles and totters, and while he staggers,
Erec pushes him over, so that he falls upon his right side. Erec grabs him by the helmet and forcibly drags it from his
head, and unlaces the ventail, so that his head and face are completely exposed. When Erec thinks of the insult done
him by the dwarf in the wood, he would have cut off his head, had he not cried for mercy. "Ah! vassal," says he, "thou
hast defeated me. Mercy now, and do not kill me, after having overcome me and taken me prisoner: that would never
bring thee praise or glory. If thou shouldst touch me more, thou wouldst do great villainy. Take here my sword; I yield
it thee." Erec, however, does not take it, but says in reply: "I am within an ace of killing thee." "Ah! gentle knight,
mercy! For what crime, indeed, or for what wrong shouldst thou hate me with mortal hatred? I never saw thee before
that I am aware, and never have I been engaged in doing thee any shame or wrong." Erec replies: "Indeed you have."
"Ah, sire, tell me when! For I never saw you, that I can remember, and if I have done you any wrong, I place myself
at your mercy." Then Erec said: "Vassal, I am he who was in the forest yesterday with Queen Guinevere, when thou
didst allow thy ill-bred dwarf to strike my lady's damsel. It is disgraceful to strike a woman. And afterwards he struck
me, taking me for some common fellow. Thou wast guilty of too great insolence when thou sawest such an outrage
and didst complacently permit such a monster of a lout to strike the damsel and myself. For such a crime I may well
hate thee; for thou hast committed a grave offence. Thou shalt now constitute thyself my prisoner, and without delay
go straight to my lady whom thou wilt surely find at Cardigan, if thither thou takest thy way. Thou wilt reach there this
very night, for it is not seven leagues from here, I think. Thou shalt hand over to her thyself, thy damsel, and thy dwarf,
to do as she may dictate; and tell her that I send her word that to-morrow I shall come contented, bringing with me a
damsel so fair and wise and fine that in all the world she has not her match. So much thou mayst tell her truthfully. And
now I wish to know thy name." Then he must needs say in spite of himself: "Sire, my name is Yder, son of Nut. This
morning I had not thought that any single man by force of arms could conquer me. Now I have found by experience a
man who is better than I. You are a very valiant knight, and I pledge you my faith here and now that I will go without
delay and put myself in the Queen's hands. But tell me without reserve what your name may be. Who shall I say it is
that sends me? For I am ready to start." And he replies: "My name I will tell thee without disguise: it is Erec. Go, and
tell her that it is I who have sent thee to her." "Now I'll go, and I promise you that I will put my dwarf, my damsel, and
myself altogether at her disposal (you need have no fear), and I will give her news of you and of your damsel." Then
Erec received his plighted word, and the Count and all the people round about the ladies and the gentlemen were
present at the agreement. Some were joyous, and some downcast; some were sorry, and others glad. The most
rejoiced for the sake of the damsel with the white raiment, the daughter of the poor vavasor she of the gentle and open
heart; but his damsel and those who were devoted to him were sorry for Yder.

(Vv. 1081-1170.) Yder, compelled to execute his promise, did not wish to tarry longer, but mounted his steed at
once. But why should I make a long story? Taking his dwarf and his damsel, they traversed the woods and the plain,
going on straight until they came to Cardigan. In the bower (12) outside the great hall, Gawain and Kay the seneschal
and a great number of other lords were gathered. The seneschal was the first to espy those approaching, and said to
my lord Gawain: "Sire, my heart divines that the vassal who yonder comes is he of whom the Queen spoke as having
yesterday done her such an insult. If I am not mistaken, there are three in the party, for I see the dwarf and the
damsel." "That is so," says my lord Gawain; "it is surely a damsel and a dwarf who are coming straight toward us with
the knight. The knight himself is fully armed, but his shield is not whole. If the Queen should see him, she would know
him. Hello, seneschal, go call her now!" So he went straightway and found her in one of the apartments. "My lady,"
says he, "do you remember the dwarf who yesterday angered you by wounding your damsel?" "Yes, I remember him
right well. Seneschal, have you any news oś him? Why have you mentioned him?" "Lady, because I have seen a
knight-errant armed coming upon a grey horse, and if my eyes have not deceived me, I saw a damsel with him; and it
seems to me that with him comes the dwarf, who still holds the scourge from which Erec received his lashing." Then
the Queen rose quickly and said: "Let us go quickly, seneschal, to see if it is the vassal. If it is he, you may be sure that
I shall tell you so, as soon as I see him." And Kay said: "I will show him to you. Come up into the bower where your
knights are assembled. It was from there we saw him coming, and my lord Gawain himself awaits you there. My lady,
let us hasten thither, for here we have too long delayed." Then the Queen bestirred herself, and coming to the
windows she took her stand by my lord Gawain, and straightway recognised the knight. "Ha! my lords," she cries, "it
is he. He has been through great danger. He has been in a battle. I do not know whether Erec has avenged his grief,
or whether this knight has defeated Erec. But there is many a dent upon his shield, and his hauberk is covered with
blood, so that it is rather red than white." "In sooth, my lady," quoth my lord Gawain, "I am very sure that you are
quite right. His hauberk is covered with blood, and pounded and beaten, showing plainly that he has been in a fight.
We can easily see that the battle has been hot. Now we shall soon hear from him news that will give us joy or gloom:
whether Erec sends him to you here as a prisoner at your discretion, or whether he comes in pride of heart to boast
before us arrogantly that he has defeated or killed Erec. No other news can he bring, I think." The Queen says: "I am
of the same opinion." And all the others say: "It may well be so."

(Vv. 1171-1243.) Meanwhile Yder enters the castle gate, bringing them news. They all came down from the bower,
and went to meet him. Yder came up to the royal terrace and there dismounted from his horse. And Gawain took the
damsel and helped her down from her palfrey; the dwarf, for his part, dismounted too. There were more than one
hundred knights standing there, and when the three newcomers had all dismounted they were led into the King's
presence. As soon as Yder saw the Queen, he bowed low and first saluted her, then the King and his knights, and
said: "Lady, I am sent here as your prisoner by a gentleman, a valiant and noble knight, whose face yesterday my
dwarf made smart with his knotted scourge. He has overcome me at arms and defeated me. Lady, the dwarf I bring
you here: he has come to surrender to you at discretion. I bring you myself, my damsel, and my dwarf to do with us as
you please." The Queen keeps her peace no longer, but asks him for news of Erec: "Tell me," she says, "if you please,
do you know when Erec will arrive?" "To-morrow, lady, and with him a damsel he will bring, the fairest of all I ever
knew." When he had delivered his message, the Queen, who was kind and sensible, said to him courteously: "Friend,
since thou hast thrown thyself upon my mercy, thy confinement shall be less harsh; for I have no desire to seek thy
harm. But tell me now, so help thee God, what is thy name?" And he replies: "Lady, my name is Yder, son of Nut."
And they knew that he told the truth. Then the Queen arose, and going before the King, said: "Sire, did you hear?
You have done well to wait for Erec, the valiant knight. I gave you good advice yesterday, when I counselled you to
await his return. This proves that it is wise to take advice." The King replies: "That is no lie; rather is it perfectly true
that he who takes advice is no fool. Happily we followed your advice yesterday. But if you care anything for me,
release this knight from his durance, provided he consent to join henceforth my household and court; and if he does
not consent, let him suffer the consequence." When the King had thus spoken, the Queen straightway released the
knight; but it was on this condition, that he should remain in the future at the court. He did not have to be urged before
he gave his consent to stay. Now he was of the court and household to which he had not before belonged. Then
valets were at hand to run and relieve him of his arms.

end second segment

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