Erec and Enide/Part III - Wikisource, the free online library
Chrétien de Troyes is arguably the creator of Arthurian romance, and it is on his work that Read Online · Download PDF; Save; Cite this Item Although important Arthurian texts and perhaps oral tales as well pre-dated his works, Was he from Troyes in Champagne as he asserts in his first romance,Erec et Enide(vs. The dating and order of Chrétien's works are based on dedications to patrons He names himself in Erec et Enide as “Crestïens de Troies,”. Chretien De Troyes has had the peculiar fortune of becoming the best known of the .. The psychological analysis of Erec's motives in the rude testing of Enide is in old French eight-syllable rhymed couplets, and which is dated by the most .
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. 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: Erec, for his part, was amazed when he beheld such beauty in her, and the vavasor said to her: See that he lack for nothing: 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: Take 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: 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.
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. 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.
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: When they shall all have gathered, there will be a great stir tomorrow; 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. 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. 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. 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. 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 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.
I am the son of a rich and puissant king: 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 tomorrow 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.
Is it true that you are Erec, the son of Lac? Then the host was greatly delighted and said: 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. Now they are all happy there: The maiden sat quiet; but she was very happy and glad that she was betrothed to him, because he was valiant and courteous: 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 charm11 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 places the lance in his hand, and when he had grasped it by the butt-end, he thus addressed the gentle vavasor: 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 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: 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. He sits well upon his steed and has the bearing of a valiant vassal, well-shapen in arm, in limb and foot. 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: 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: Yours it shall surely be so long as I live.
Four Arthurian Romances / Chrétien de Troyes
Step forward, my dear, and lift the hawk from the perch. 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. Lift the bird from the perch, for it is right that you should have it. 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.
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. Madness has brought thee here. If thou dost wish to have the hawk, thou shalt pay fight dearly for it. The battle is inevitable. 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: 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.
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. 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. I have not yet taken vengeance for the injury which this vassal permitted when his dwarf struck me in the wood.
Too long we have rested; let us now renew our strife. 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 made the crimson blood flow down to his waist-band.
Both of the vassals are hard fighters: 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.
Mercy now, and do not kill me, after having overcome me and taken me prisoner: If thou shouldst touch me more, thou wouldst do great villainy. Take here my sword; I yield it thee.
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. For I never saw you, that I can remember, and if I have done you any wrong, I place myself at your mercy. 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 tomorrow 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. 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. 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. Go, and tell her that it is I who have sent thee to her.
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.
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: If I am not mistaken, there are three in the party, for I see the dwarf and the damsel.
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! Seneschal, have you any news of him? Why have you mentioned him? If it is he, you may be sure that I shall tell you so, as soon as I see him.
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. 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.
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: No other news can he bring, I think. 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. As soon as Yder saw the Queen, he bowed low and first saluted her, then the King and his knights, and said: He has overcome me at arms and defeated me.
Lady, the dwarf I bring you here: I bring you myself, my damsel, and my dwarf to do with us as you please. But tell me now, so help thee God, what is thy name? Then the Queen arose, and going before the King, said: 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. 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.
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. Now we must revert to Erec, whom we left in the field where the battle had taken place. Erec defends Enide's beauty and she steps forward to take the bird.
They return to Enide's father, who gives permission for the two to marry. Erec refuses to accept gifts of new clothes for Enide, and takes her to Arthur's court in her ragged chemise. In spite of her appearance, the courtiers recognise Enide's inherent nobility and Queen Guinevere dresses her in one of her own richly embroidered gowns. The central half of the poem begins some time later when rumors spread that Erec has come to neglect his knightly duties due to his overwhelming love for Enide and desire to be with her.
He overhears Enide crying over this and orders her to prepare for a journey to parts unknown. He commands her to be silent throughout, but she disobeys several times to warn him of danger.
Erec defeats a string of knights and captures a string of horses, overcomes two counts who in turn attempt to kill him and have Enide, and, after defeating him in a joust, makes a friend of Guivret the Small, an Irish lord with family connections to Pembroke and Scotland.
The last quarter of the poem adds another episode, referred to as the "Joy of the Court," in which Erec and Enide set free prisoners and meet relations, before in time they are crowned King and Queen of Nantes in a lavishly described ceremony. King Evrain hears the news that men were arriving at his court who brought with them a numerous train, and by his harness it appeared that their leader was a count or king.
King Evrain comes down the street to meet them, and saluting them he cries: Nor was King Evrain backward when he saw Enide coming; but he straightway saluted her and ran to help her to dismount.
Taking her white and tender hand, he led her up into the palace, as was required by courtesy, and honoured her in every way he could, for he knew right well what he ought to do, without nonsense and without malice. He ordered a chamber to be scented with incense, myrrh, and aloes.
When they entered, they all complimented King Evrain on its fine appearance. Hand in hand they enter the room, the King escorting them and taking great pleasure in them.
But why should I describe to you the paintings and the silken draperies with which the room was decorated?
I should only waste time in folly, and I do not wish to waste it, but rather to hasten on a little; for he who travels the straight road passes him who turns aside; therefore I do not wish to tarry. When the time and hour arrived, the King orders supper to be prepared; but I do not wish to stop over that if I can find some more direct way. That night they had in abundance all that heart desires and craves: But better than all is a happy cheer!
For of all dishes the sweetest is a joyful countenance and a happy face. They were very richly served until Erec suddenly left off eating and drinking, and began speaking of what rested most upon his heart: Too long I have refrained from speech, and now can no longer conceal my object. Grant it to me, whatever it be, if you are in control of it. This is a very parlous thing, which has caused sorrow to many a worthy man; you yourself will eventually be killed and undone if you will not heed my counsel.
But if you were willing to take my word, I should advise you to desist from soliciting so grievous a thing in which you would never succeed. Speak of it no more! It would be imprudent on your part not to follow my advice. I am not at all surprised that you desire honour and fame; but if I should see you harmed or injured in your body I should be distressed at heart.
And know well that I have seen many a man ruined who solicited this joy. They were never any the better for it, but rather did they all die and perish. Before to-morrow's evening come you may expect a like reward. If you wish to strive for the Joy, you shall do so, though it grieve me sore. It is something from which you are free to retreat and draw back if you wish to work your welfare.
Therefore I tell you, for I should commit treachery and do you wrong were I not to tell you all the truth. But the greater the wonder and the more perilous the adventure, the more he covets it and yearns for it, saying: The die is cast, for I shall never draw back from anything I have undertaken without exerting all my strength before I quit the field.
You shall have the Joy which you desire. But I am in great despair; for I greatly fear you will be undone. But now be assured that you shall have what you desire. If you come out of it happily, you will have won such great honour that never did man win greater; and may God, as I desire, grant you a joyous deliverance.
All that night they talked of it, until the beds were prepared and they went to rest. In the morning, when it was daylight, Erec, who was on the watch, saw the clear dawn and the sun, and quickly rising, clothed himself. Enide again is in distress, very sad and ill at ease; all night she is greatly disquieted with the solicitude and fear which she felt for her lord, who is about to expose himself to great peril. But nevertheless he equips himself, for no one can make him change his mind.
For his equipment the King sent him, when he arose, arms which he put to good use. Erec did not refuse them, for his own were worn and impaired and in bad state. He gladly accepted the arms and had himself equipped with them in the hall. When he was armed, he descends the steps and finds his horse saddled and the King who had mounted. Every one in the castle and in the houses of the town hastened to mount.
In all the town there remained neither man nor woman, erect or deformed, great or small, weak or strong, who is able to go and does not do so. When they start, there is a great noise and clamour in all the streets; for those of high and low degree alike cry out: To-day it will wreak the worst woe that it has ever yet wrought.
Surely it would not be just that thy life should end so soon, or that harm should come to wound and injure thee. Whoever may speak, he longs to see and know and understand why they are all in such distress, anxiety, and woe. The King leads him without the town into a garden that stood near by; and all the people follow after, praying that from this trial God may grant him a happy issue.
But it is not meet that I should pass on, from weariness and exhaustion of tongue, without telling you the whole truth about the garden, according as the story runs.
And all through the summer and the winter, too, there were flowers and ripe fruits there; and the fruit was of such a nature that it could be eaten inside; the danger consisted in carrying it out; for whoever should wish to carry out a little would never be able to find the gate, and never could issue from the garden until he had restored the fruit to its place.
And there is no flying bird under heaven, pleasing to man, but it sings there to delight and to gladden him, and can be heard there in numbers of every kind. And the earth, however far it stretch, bears no spice or root of use in making medicine, but it had been planted there, and was to be found in abundance. Through a narrow entrance the people entered -- King Evrain and all the rest.
Erec went riding, lance in rest, into the middle of the garden, greatly delighting in the song of the birds which were singing there; they put him in mind of his Joy the thing he most was longing for. But he saw a wondrous thing, which might arouse fear in the bravest warrior of all whom we know, be it Thiebaut the Esclavon, 39 or Ospinel, or Fernagu.
For before them, on sharpened stakes, there stood bright and shining helmets, and each one had beneath the rim a man's head. But at the end there stood a stake where as yet there was nothing but a horn. The King speaks and explains to him: You must be in great terror of it, if you care at all for your own body; for this single stake which stands apart, where you see this horn hung up, has been waiting a very long time, but we know not for whom, whether for you or someone else.
Take care lest thy head be set up there; for such is the purpose of the stake. I had warned you well of that before you came here. I do not expect that you will escape hence, but that you will be killed and rent apart. For this much we know, that the stake awaits your head. And if it turns out that it be placed there, as the matter stands agreed, as soon as thy head is fixed upon it another stake will be set up beside it which will await the arrival of some one else -- I know not when or whom.
I will tell you nothing of the horn; but never has any one been able to blow it. Now there is no more of this matter.
Meanwhile King Evrain leaves his side, and Erec stoops over before Enide, whose heart was in great distress, although she held her peace; for grief on lips is of no account unless it also touch the heart. And he who well knew her heart, said to her: You are in fear, I see that well, and yet you do not know for what; but there is no reason for your dismay until you shall see that my shield is shattered and that my body is wounded, and until you see the meshes of my bright hauberk covered with blood, and my helmet broken and smashed, and me defeated and weary, so that I can no longer defend myself, but must beg and sue for mercy against my will; then you may lament, but now you have begun too soon.
Gentle lady, as yet you know not what this is to be; no more do I. You are troubled without cause. But know this truly: But I am foolish to vaunt myself; yet I say it not from any pride, but because I wish to comfort you. So comfort yourself, and let it be! I cannot longer tarry here, nor can you go along with me; for, as the King has ordered, I must not take you beyond this point.
But she is much chagrined that she cannot follow and escort him, until she may learn and see what this adventure is to be, and how he will conduct himself. But since she must stay behind and cannot follow him, she remains sorrowful and grieving. And he went off alone down a path, without companion of any sort, until he came to a silver couch with a cover of gold-embroidered cloth, beneath the shade of a sycamore; and on the bed a maiden of comely body and lovely face, completely endowed with all beauty, was seated all alone.
I intended to say no more of her; but whoever could consider well all her attire and her beauty might well say that never did Lavinia of Laurentum, who was so fair and comely, possess the quarter of her beauty. Erec draws near to her, wishing to see her more closely, and the onlookers go and sit down under the trees in the orchard. Then behold, there comes a knight armed with vermilion arms, and he was wondrous tall; and if he were not so immeasurably tall, under the heavens there would be none fairer than he; but, as every one averred, he was a foot taller than any knight he knew.
Before Erec caught sight of him, he cried out: You are mad, upon my life, thus to approach my damsel. I should say you are not worthy to draw near her. You will pay dearly for your presumption, by my head! Neither made advance until Erec had replied all that he wished to say to him. Threaten as much as you please, and I will keep silence; for in threatening there is no sense. Do you know why? A man sometimes thinks he has won the game who afterward loses it.
So he is manifestly a fool who is too presumptuous and who threatens too much. If there are some who flee there are plenty who chase, but I do not fear you so much that I am going to run away yet. I am ready to make such defence, if there is any who wishes to offer me battle, that he will have to do his uttermost, or otherwise he cannot escape.
The lances they had were not light, but were big and square; nor were they planed smooth, but were rough and strong. Upon the shields with mighty strength they smote each other with their sharp weapons, so that a fathom of each lance passes through the gleaming shields.
But neither touches the other's flesh, nor was either lance cracked; each one, as quickly as he could, draws back his lance, and both rushing together, return to the fray. One against the other rides, and so fiercely they smite each other that both lances break and the horses fall beneath them.
Erec and Enide/Part III
But they, being seated on their steeds, sustain no harm; so they quickly rise, for they were strong and lithe. They stand on foot in the middle of the garden, and straightway attack each other with their green swords of German steel, and deal great wicked blows upon their bright and gleaming helmets, so that they hew them into bits, and their eyes shoot out flame.
No greater efforts can be made than those they make in striving and toiling to injure and wound each other. Both fiercely smite with the gilded pommel and the cutting edge. Such havoc did they inflict upon each other's teeth, cheeks, nose, hands, arms, and the rest, upon temples, neck, and throat that their bones all ache. They are very sore and very tired; yet they do not desist, but rather only strive the more.
Sweat, and the blood which flows down with it, dim their eves, so that they can hardly see a thing; and very often they missed their blows, like men who did not see to wield their swords upon each other.
They can scarcely harm each other now; yet, they do not desist at all from exercising all their strength. Because their eyes are so blinded that they completely lose their sight, they let their shields fall to the ground, and seize each other angrily.
Each pulls and drags the other, so that they fall upon their knees. Thus, long they fight until the hour of noon is past, and the big knight is so exhausted that his breath quite fails him. Erec has him at his mercy, and pulls and drags so that he breaks all the lacing of his helmet, and forces him over at his feet.
He falls over upon his face against Erec's breast, and has not strength to rise again. Though it distresses him, he has to say and own: And yet you may be of such degree and fame that only credit will redound to me; and insistently I would request, if it may be in any way, that I might know your name, and he thereby somewhat comforted.
If a better man has defeated me, I shall be glad, I promise you; but if it has so fallen out that a baser man than I has worsted me, then I must feel great grief indeed. Concerning that I will know all what is thy name and what the Joy; for I am very anxious to hear the truth from beginning to end of it. Now hear who has detained me so long in this garden. I will tell the truth in accordance with your injunction, whatever it may cost me.
That damsel who yonder sits, loved me from childhood and I loved her. It pleased us both, and our love grew and increased, until she asked a boon of me, but did not tell me what it was.
Who would deny his mistress aught? There is no lover but would surely do all his sweet-heart's pleasure without default or guile, whenever he can in any way. I agreed to her desire; but when I had agreed, she would have it, too, that I should swear. I would have done more than that for her, but she took me at my word. I made her a promise, without knowing what. Time passed until I was made a knight. King Evrain, whose nephew I am, dubbed me a knight in the presence of many honourable men in this very garden where we are.
My lady, who is sitting there, at once recalled to me my word, and said that I had promised her that I would never go forth from here until there should come some knight who should conquer me by trial of arms. It was right that I should remain, for rather than break my word, I should never have pledged it.
Since I knew the good there was in her, I could nor reveal or show to the one whom I hold most dear that in all this I was displeased; for if she had noticed it, she would have withdrawn her heart, and I would not have had it so for anything that might happen.
Thus my lady thought to detain me here for a long stay; she did not think that there would ever enter this garden any vassal who could conquer me. In this way she intended to keep me absolutely shut up with her all the days of my life. And I should have committed an offence if I had had resort to guile and not defeated all those against whom I could prevail; such escape would have been a shame. And I dare to assure you that I have no friend so dear that I would have feigned at all in fighting with him.
Never did I weary of arms, nor did I ever refuse to fight. You have surely seen the helmets of those whom I have defeated and put to death; but the guilt of it is not mine, when one considers it aright. I could not help myself, unless I were willing to be false and recreant and disloyal.
Now I have told you the truth, and be assured that it is no small honour which you have gained. They have awaited it so long that now it will be granted them by you who have won it by your fight. You have defeated and bewitched my prowess and my chivalry. Now it is right that I tell you my name, if you would know it.
I am called Mabonagrain; but I am not remembered by that name in any land where I have been, save only in this region; for never, when I was a squire, did I tell or make known my name. Sire, you knew the truth concerning all that you asked me. But I must still tell you that there is in this garden a horn which I doubt not you have seen.
I cannot issue forth from here until you have blown the horn; but then you will have released me, and then the Joy will begin. Whoever shall hear and give it heed no hindrance will detain him, when he shall hear the sound of the horn, from coming straight-way to the court.
Go take the horn right joyfully; for you have no further cause to wait; so do that which you must do. Erec takes it and blows it, putting into it all his strength, so that the sound of it reaches far. Greatly did Enide rejoice when she heard the note, and Guivret was greatly delighted too. The King is glad, and so are his people; there is not one who is not well suited and pleased at this.
No one ceases or leaves off from making merry and from song. Erec could boast that day, for never was such rejoicing made; it could not be described or related by mouth of man, but I will tell you the sum of it briefly and with few words.
The news spreads through the country that thus the affair has turned out. Then there was no holding back from coming to the court. All the people hasten thither in confusion, some on foot and some on horse, without waiting for each other. Erec was well sated with joy and well served to his heart's desire; but she who sat on the silver couch was not a bit pleased. The joy which she saw was not at all to her taste. But many people have to keep still and look on at what gives them pain.
Enide acted graciously; because she saw her sitting pensive, alone on the couch, she felt moved to go and speak with her and tell her about her affairs and about herself, and to strive, if possible, to make her tell in return about herself, if it did not cause her too great distress.
Enide thought to go alone, wishing to take no one with her, but some of the most noble and fairest dames and damsels followed her out of affection to bear her company, and also to comfort her to whom the joy brings great chagrin; for she assumed that now her lover would be no longer with her so much as he had been, inasmuch as he desired to leave the garden.
However disappointing it may be, no one can prevent his going away, for the hour and the time have come. Therefore the tears ran down her face from her eyes. Much more than I can say was she grieving and distressed; nevertheless she sat up straight. But she does not care so much for any of those who try to comfort her that she ceases her moan. Enide salutes her kindly; but for a while the other could not reply a word, being prevented by the sighs and sobs which torment and distress her.
Some time it was before the damsel returned her salutation, and when she had looked at her and examined her for a while, it seemed that she had seen and known her before.
But not being very certain of it, she was not slow to inquire from whence she was, of what country, and where her lord was born; she inquires who they both are. Enide replies briefly and tells her the truth, saying: Her heart leaps with joy which she cannot conceal. She runs and embraces Enide, saying: This is the very truth, and you are my father's niece; for he and your father are brothers.
But I suspect that you do not know and have never heard how I came into this country. The Count, your uncle, was at war, and to him there came to fight for pay knights of many lands. Thus, fair cousin, it came about, that with these hireling knights there came one who was the nephew of the king of Brandigan.
He was with my father almost a year. That was, I think, twelve years ago, and I was still but a little child. He was very handsome and attractive. There we had an understanding between us that pleased us both. I never had any wish but his, until at last he began to love me and promised and swore to me that he would always be my lover, and that he would bring me here; that pleased us both alike.
He could not wait, and I was longing to come hither with him; so we both came away, and no one knew of it but ourselves. In those days you and I were both young and little girls. I have told you the truth; so now tell me in turn, as I have told you, all about your lover, and by what adventure he won you. All our relatives knew it and rejoiced over it, as they should do.
Even the Count was glad. For he is so good a knight that better cannot be found, and he does not need to prove his honour and knighthood, and he is of very gentle birth: I do not think that any can be his equal. He loves me much, and I love him more, and our love cannot be greater. Never yet could I withhold my love from him, nor should I do so. For is not my lord the son of a king? For did he not take me when I was poor and naked? Through him has such honour come to me that never was any such vouchsafed to a poor helpless girl.
And if it please you, I will tell you without lying how I came to be thus raised up; for never will I be slow to tell the story. She told her the adventure word for word, without omission. But I pass over it now, because he who tells a story twice makes his tale now tiresome.
While they were thus conversing, one lady slipped away alone, who sent and told it all to the gentlemen, in order to increase and heighten their pleasure too. All those who heard it rejoiced at this news. And when Mabonagrain knew it he was delighted for his sweetheart because now she was comforted.
And she who bore them quickly the news made them all happy in a short space. Even the King was glad for it; although he was very happy before, yet now he is still happier, and shows Erec great honour. Enide leads away her fair cousin, fairer than Helen, more graceful and charming. Now Erec and Mabonagrain, Guivret and King Evrain, and all the others run to meet them and salute them and do them honour, for no one is grudging or holds back. Mabonagrain makes much of Enide, and she of him.
Erec and Guivret, for their part, rejoice over the damsel as they all kiss and embrace each other. They propose to return to the castle, for they have stayed too long in the garden.
They are all prepared to go out; so they sally forth joyfully, kissing each other on the way. All go out after the King, but before they reached the castle, the nobles were assembled from all the country around, and all those who knew of the Joy, and who could do so, came hither.
Great was the gathering and the press. Every one, high and low, rich and poor, strives to see Erec. Each thrusts himself before the other, and they all salute him and bow before him, saying constantly: God save the most blessed man whom God has ever brought into being! Breton zithers, harps, and viols sound, fiddles, psalteries, and other stringed instruments, and all kinds of music that one could name or mention.
But I wish to conclude the matter briefly without too long delay. The King honours him to the extent of his power, as do all the others ungrudgingly. There is no one who does not gladly offer to do his service.
Three whole days the Joy lasted, before Erec could get away. On the fourth he would no longer tarry for any reason they could urge. There was a great crowd to accompany him and a very great press when it came to taking leave. If he had wished to reply to each one, he would not have been able in half a day to return the salutations individually. The nobles he salutes and embraces; the others he commends to God in a word, and salutes them.
Enide, for her part, is not silent when she takes leave of the nobles. She salutes them all by name, and they in turn do the like.