Sacred Texts  European Texts  Index  Previous 


Part III: Vv. 4580 - Vv. 6598

(Vv. 4580-4778.) Erec continues to ride at great speed to the place where Enide was awaiting him in great concern, thinking that surely he had completely deserted her. And he, too, was in great fear lest some one, finding her alone, might have carried her off. So he made all haste to return. But the heat of the day was such, and his arms caused him such distress, that his wounds broke open and burst the bandages. His wounds never stopped bleeding before he came directly to the spot where Enide was waiting for him. She espied him and rejoiced: but she did not realise or know the pain from which he was suffering; for all his body was bathed in blood, and his heart hardly had strength to beat. As he was descending a hill he fell suddenly over upon his horse's neck. As he tried to straighten up, he lost his saddle and stirrups, falling, as if lifeless, in a faint. Then began such heavy grief, when Enide saw him fall to earth. Full of fear at the sight of him, she runs toward him like one who makes no concealment of her grief. Aloud she cries, and wrings her hands: not a shred of her robe remains untorn across her breast. She begins to tear her hair and lacerate her tender face. (33) "Ah God!" she cries, "fair gentle Lord, why dost Thou let me thus live on? Come Death, and kill me hastily!" With these words she faints upon his body. When she recovered, she said to herself reproachfully: "Woe is me, wretched Enide; I am the murderer of my lord, in having killed him by my speech. My lord would still be now alive, if I in my mad presumption had not spoken the word which engaged him in this adventure. Silence never harmed any one, but speech often worketh woe. The truth of this I have tried and proved in more ways than one." Beside her lord she took her seat, holding his head upon her lap. Then she begins her dole anew. "Alas," she says, "my lord, unhappy thou, thou who never hadst a peer; for in thee was beauty seen and prowess was made manifest; wisdom had given thee its heart, and largess set a crown upon thee, without which no one is esteemed. But what did I say? A grievous mistake I made in uttering the word which has killed my lord -- that fatal poisoned word for which I must justly be reproached; and I recognise and admit that no one is guilty but myself; I alone must be blamed for this." Then fainting she falls upon the ground, and when she later sat up again, she only moans again the more: "God, what shall I do, and why live on? Why does Death delay and hesitate to come and seize me without respite? Truly, Death holds me in great contempt! Since Death does not deign to take my life, I must myself perforce achieve the vengeance for my sinful deed. Thus shall I die in spite of Death, who will not heed my call for aid. Yet, I cannot die through mere desire, nor would complaining avail me aught. The sword, which my lord had gilded on, ought by right to avenge his death. I will not longer consume myself in distress, in prayer, and vain desire." She draws the sword forth from its sheath and begins to consider it. God, who is full of mercy, caused her to delay a little; and while she passes in review her sorrow and her misfortune, behold there comes riding apace a Count with numerous suite, who from afar had heard the lady's loud outcry. God did not wish to desert her; for now she would have killed herself, had she not been surprised by those who took away from her the sword and thrust it back into its sheath. The Count then dismounted from his horse and began to inquire of her concerning the knight, and whether she was his wife or his lady-love. "Both one and the other, sire," she says, "my sorrow is such as I cannot tell. Woe is me that I am not dead." And the Count begins to comfort her: "Lady," he says, "by the Lord, I pray you, to take some pity on yourself! It is meet that you should mourn, but it is no use to be disconsolate; for you may yet rise to high estate. Do not sink into apathy, but comfort yourself; that will be wise, and God will give you joy again. Your wondrous beauty holds good fortune in store for you; for I will take you as my wife, and make you a countess and dame of rank: this ought to bring you much consolation. And I shall have the body removed and laid away with great honour. Leave off now this grief of yours which in your frenzy you display." And she replies: "Sire, begone! For God's sake, let me be! You can accomplish nothing here. Nothing that one could say or do could ever make me glad again." At this the Count drew back and said: "Let us make a bier, whereon to carry away this body with the lady to the town of Limors. There the body shall be interred. Then will I espouse the lady, whether or not she give consent: for never did I see any one so fair, nor desire any as I do her. Happy I am to have met with her. Now make quickly and without delay a proper bier for this dead knight. Halt not for the trouble, nor from sloth." Then some of his men draw out their swords and soon cut two saplings, upon which they laid branches cross-wise. Upon this litter they laid Erec down; then hitched two horses to it. Enide rides alongside, not ceasing to make lament, and often fainting and falling back; but the horsemen hold her tight, and try to support her with their arms, and raise her up and comfort her. All the way to Limors they escort the body, until they come to the palace of the Count. All the people follow up after them -- ladies, knights, and townspeople. In the middle off the hall upon a dais they stretched the body out full length, with his lance and shield alongside. The hall is full, the crowd is dense. Each one is anxious to inquire what is this trouble, what marvel here. Meanwhile the Count takes counsel with his barons privily. "My lords," he says, "upon the spot I wish to espouse this lady here. We can plainly judge by her beauty and prudent mien that she is of very gentle rank. Her beauty and noble bearing show that the honour of a kingdom or empire might well be bestowed upon her. I shall never suffer disgrace through her; rather I think to win more honour. Have my chaplain summoned now, and do you go and fetch the lady. The half of all my land I will give her as her dower if she will comply with my desire." Then they bade the chaplain come, in accordance with the Count's command, and the dame they brought there, too, and made her marry him perforce; for she flatly refused to give consent. But in spite of all, the Count married her in accordance with his wish. And when he had married her, the constable at once had the tables set in the palace, and had the food prepared; for already it was time for the evening meal.

(Vv. 4779-4852.) After vespers, that day in May, Enide was in sore distress, nor did her grief cease to trouble her. And the Count urged her mildly by prayer and threat to make her peace and be consoled, and he made her sit down upon a chair, though it was against her will. In spite of her, they made her take a seat and placed the table in front of her. The Count takes his place on the other side, almost beside himself with rage to find that he cannot comfort her. "Lady," he says, "you must now leave off this grief and banish it. You can have full trust in me, that honour and riches will be yours. You must surely realise that mourning will not revive the dead; for no one ever saw such a thing come about. Remember now, though poor you were, that great riches are within your reach. Once you were poor; rich now you will be. Fortune has not been stingy toward you, in bestowing upon you the honour of being henceforth hailed as Countess. It is true that your lord is dead. If you grieve and lament because of this, do you think that I am surprised? Nay. But I am giving you the best advice I know how to give. In that I have married you, you ought to be content. Take care you do not anger me! Eat now, as I bid you do." And she replies: "Not I, my lord. In faith, as long as I live I will neither eat nor drink unless I first see my lord eat who is lying on yonder dais" "Lady, that can never be. People will think that you are mad when you talk such great nonsense. You will receive a poor reward if you give occasion to-day for further reproof." To this she vouchsafed no reply, holding his threats in slight esteem, and the Count strikes her upon the face. At this she shrieks, and the barons present blame the Count. "Hold. sire!" they cry to the Count; "you ought to be ashamed of having struck this lady because she will not eat. You have done a very ugly deed. If this lady is distressed because of her lord whom she now sees dead, no one should say that she is wrong." "Keep silence, all." the Count replies; "the dame is mine and I am hers, and I will do with her as I please." At this she could not hold her peace, but swears she will never be his. And the Count springs up and strikes her again, and she cries out aloud. "Ha! wretch," she says, "I care not what thou say to me, or what thou do! I fear not thy blows, nor yet thy threats. Beat me and strike me, as thou wilt. I shall never heed thy power so much as to do thy bidding more or less, even were thou with thy hands fight now to snatch out my eyes or flay me alive."

(Vv. 4853-4938.) In the midst of these words and disputes Erec recovered from his swoon, like a man who awakes from sleep. No wonder that he was amazed at the crowd of people he saw around. But great was his grief and great his woe when he heard the voice of his wife. He stepped to the floor from off the dais and quickly drew his sword. Wrath and the love he bore his wife gave him courage. He runs thither where he sees her, and strikes the Count squarely upon the head, so that he beats out his brains and, knocking in his forehead, leaves him senseless and speechless; his blood and brains flow out. The knights spring from the tables, persuaded that it is the devil who had made his way among them there. Of young or old there none remains, for all were thrown in great dismay. Each one tries to outrun the other in beating a hasty retreat. Soon they were all clear of the palace, and cry aloud, both weak and strong: "Flee, flee, here comes the corpse!" At the door the press is great: each one strives to make his escape, and pushes and shoves as best he may. He who is last in the surging throng would fain get into the foremost line. Thus they make good their escape in flight, for one dares not stand upon another's going. Erec ran to seize his shield, hanging it about his neck by the strap, while Enide lays hands upon the lance. Then they step out into the courtyard. There is no one so bold as to offer resistance; for they did not believe it could be a man who had thus expelled them, but a devil or some enemy who had entered the dead body. Erec pursues them as they flee, and finds outside in the castle-yard a stable-boy in the act of leading his steed to the watering-place, all equipped with bridle and saddle. This chance encounter pleased Erec well: as he steps up quickly to the horse, the boy in fear straightway yields him up. Erec takes his seat between the saddle-bows, while Enide, seizing the stirrup, springs up on to the horse's neck, as Erec, who bade her mount, commanded and instructed her to do. The horse bears them both away; and finding open the town gate, they make their escape without detention. In the town there was great anxiety about the Count who had been killed; but there is no one, however brave, who follows Erec to take revenge. At his table the Count was slain; while Erec, who bears his wife away, embraces and kisses and gives her cheer. In his arms he clasps her against his heart, and says: "Sweet sister mine, my proof of you has been complete! Be no more concerned in any wise, for I love you now more than ever I did before; and I am certain and rest assured that you love me with a perfect love. From this time on for evermore, I offer myself to do your will just as I used to do before. And if you have spoken ill of me, I pardon you and call you quit of both the offence and the word you spoke." Then he kisses her again and clasps her tight. Now Enide is not ill at ease when her lord clasps and kisses her and tells her again that he loves her still. Rapidly through the night they ride, and they are very glad that the moon shines bright.

(Vv. 4939-5058.) Meanwhile, the news has travelled fast, and there is nothing else so quick. The news had reached Guivret the Little that a knight wounded with arms had been found dead in the forest, and that with him was a lady making moan, and so wondrous fair that Iseut would have seemed her waiting-maid. Count Oringle of Limors had found them both, and had caused the corpse to be borne away, and wished himself to espouse the lady; but she refused him. When Guivret heard this news, he was by no means pleased; for at once the thought of Erec occurred to him. It came into his heart and mind to go and seek out the lady, and to have the body honourably interred. if it should turn out to be he. He assembled a thousand men-at-arms and knights to take the town. If the Count would not surrender of his own accord the body and the lady, he would put all to fire and flame. In the moonlight shining clear he led his men on toward Limors, with helmets laced, in hauberks clad, and from their necks the shields were hung. Thus, under arms, they all advanced until nearly midnight, when Erec espied them. Now he expects to be ensnared or killed or captured inevitably. He makes Enide dismount beside a thicket-hedge. No wonder if he is dismayed. "Lady, do you stay here," he says, "beside this thicket-hedge a while, until these people shall have passed. I do not wish them to catch sight of you, for I do not know what manner of people they are, nor of what they go in search. I trust we may not attract their attention. But I see nowhere any place where we could take refuge, should they wish to injure us. I know not if any harm may come to me, but not from fear shall I fail to sally out against them. And if any one assails me, I shall not fail to joust with him. Yet, I am so sore and weary that it is no wonder if I grieve. Now to meet them I must go, and do you stay quiet here. Take care that no one see you, until they shall have left you far behind." Behold now Guivret, with lance outstretched, who espied him from afar. They did not recognise each other, for the moon had gone behind the shadow of a dark cloud. Erec was weak and exhausted, and his antagonist was quite recovered from his wounds and blows. Now Erec will be far from wise if he does not promptly make himself known. He steps out from the hedge. And Guivret spurs toward him without speaking to him at all, nor does Erec utter a word to him: he thought he could do more than he could. Whoever tries to run farther than he is able must perforce give up or take a rest. They clash against each other; but the fight was unequal, for one was weak and the other strong. Guivret strikes him with such force that he carries him down to earth from his horse's back. Enide, who was in hiding, when she sees her lord on the ground, expects to be killed and badly used. Springing forth from the hedge, she runs to help her lord. If she grieved before, now her anguish is greater. Coming up to Guivret, she seized his horse's rein, and then said: "Cursed be thou, knight! For thou hast attacked a weak and exhausted man, who is in pain and mortally wounded, with such injustice that thou canst not find reason for thy deed. If thou hadst been alone and helpless, thou wouldst have rued this attack, provided my lord had been in health. Now be generous and courteous, and kindly let cease this battle which thou hast begun. For thy reputation would be no better for having killed or captured a knight who has not the strength to rise, as thou canst see. For he has suffered so many blows of arms that he is all covered with wounds" And he replies: "Fear not, lady! I see that loyally you love your lord, and I commend you for it. Have no fear whatsoever of me or of my company. But tell me now without concealment what is the name of your lord; for only advantage will you get from telling me. Whoever he be, tell me his name; then he shall go safe and unmolested. Neither he nor you have aught to fear, for you are both in safe hands."

(Vv. 5059-5172.) Then Enide learns that she is safe, she answers him briefly in a word: "His name is Erec; I ought not to lie, for I see you are honest and of good intent." Guivret, in his delight, dismounts and goes to fall at Erec's feet, where he was lying on the ground. "My lord," he says, "I was going to seek for you, and was on my way to Limors, where I expected to find you dead. It was told and recounted to me as true that Count Oringle had carried off to Limors a knight who was mortally wounded, and that he wickedly intended to marry a lady whom he had found in his company; but that she would have nothing to do with him. And I was coming urgently to aid and deliver her. If he refused to hand over to me both the lady and you without resistance, I should esteem myself of little worth if I left him a foot of earth to stand upon. Be sure that had I not loved you dearly I should never have taken this upon myself. I am Guivret, your friend; but if I have done you any hurt through my failure to recognise you, you surely ought to pardon me." At this Erec sat up, for he could do no more, and said: "Rise up, my friend. Be absolved of the harm you have done me, since you did not recognise me." Guivret gets up, and Erec tells him how he has killed the Count while he sat at meat, and how he had gained possession again of his steed in front of the stable, and how the sergeants and the squires had fled across the yard, crying: "Flee, flee, the corpse is chasing us;" then, how he came near being caught, and how he escaped through the town and down the hill, carrying his wife on his horse's neck: all this adventure of his he told him. Then Guivret said, "Sire, I have a castle here close by, which is well placed in a healthful site. For your comfort and benefit I wish to take you there to-morrow and have your wounds cared for. I have two charming and sprightly sisters who are skilful in the care of wounds: they will soon completely cure you. (34) To-night we shall let our company lodge here in the fields until morning; for I think a little rest to-night will do you much good. My advice is that we spend the night here." Erec replies: "I am in favour of doing so." So there they stayed and spent the night. They were not reluctant to prepare a lodging-place, but they found few accommodations, for the company was quite numerous. They lodge as best they may among the bushes: Guivret had his tent set up, and ordered tinder to be kindled, that they might have light and cheer. He has tapers taken out from the boxes, and they light them within the tent. Now Enide no longer grieves, for all has turned out well. She strips her lord of his arms and clothes, and having washed his wounds, she dried them and bound them up again; for she would let no one else touch him. Now Erec knows no further reason to reproach her, for he has tried her well and found that she bears great love to him. And Guivret, who treats them kindly, had a high, long bed constructed of quilted coverlids, laid upon grass and reed, which they found in abundance. There they laid Erec and covered him up. Then Guivret opened a box and took out two patties. "Friend," says he, "now try a little of these cold patties, and drink some wine mixed with water. I have as much as six barrels of it, but undiluted it is not good for you; for you are injured and covered with wounds. Fair sweet friend, now try to eat; for it will do you good. And my lady will eat some too -- your wife who has been to-day in sore distress on your account. But you have received full satisfaction for all that, and have escaped. So eat now, and I will eat too, fair friend." Then Guivret sat down by Erec's side, and so did Enide who was much pleased by all that Guivret did. Both of them urge him to eat, giving him wine mixed with water'; for unmixed it is too strong and heating. Erec ate as a sick man eats, and drank a little -- all he dared. But he rested comfortably and slept all night; for on his account no noise or disturbance was made.

(Vv. 5173-5366.) In the early morning they awoke, and prepared again to mount and ride. Erec was so devoted to his own horse that he would ride no other. They gave to Enide a mule, for she had lost her palfrey. But she was not concerned; to judge by her looks, she gave the matter no thought. She had a good mule with an easy gait that bore her very comfortably. And it gave her great satisfaction that Erec was not cast down, but rather assured them that he would recover completely. Before the third hour they reached Penevric, a strong castle, well and handsomely situated. There dwelt the two sisters of Guivret; for the place was agreeable enough. Guivret escorted Erec to a delightful, airy room in a remote part of the castle. His sisters, at his request, exerted themselves to cure Erec; and Erec placed himself in their hands, for they inspired him with perfect confidence. First, they removed the dead flesh, then applied plaster and lint, devoting to his care all their skill, like women who knew their business well. Again and again they washed his wounds and applied the plaster. Four times or more each day they made him eat and drink, allowing him, however, no garlic or pepper. But whoever might go in or out Enide was always with him, being more than any one else concerned. Guivret often came in to ask and inquire if he wanted anything. He was well kept and well served, and everything that he wished was willingly done. But the damsels cheerfully and gladly showed such devotion in caring for him that by the end of a fortnight he felt no hurt or pain. Then, to bring his colour back, they began to give him baths. There was no need to instruct the damsels, for they understood the treatment well. When he was able to walk about. Guivret had two loose gowns made of two different kinds of silk, one trimmed with ermine, the other with vair. One was of a dark purple colour, and the other striped, sent to him as a present by a cousin of his from Scotland. Enide had the purple gown trimmed with ermine, which was very precious, while Erec had the striped stuff with the fur, which was no less valuable. Now Erec was strong and well, cured and recovered. Now that Enide was very happy and had everything she desired, her great beauty returned to her; for her great distress had affected her so much that she was very pale and wan. Now she was embraced and kissed, now she was blessed with all good things, now she had her joy and pleasures; for unadorned they lie in bed and each enfolds and kisses the other; nothing gives them so much joy. They have had so much pain and sorrow, he for her, and she for him, that now they have their satisfaction. Each vies in seeking to please the other. Of their further sport I must not speak. Now they have so welded their love and forgotten their grief that they scarcely remember it any more. But now they must go on their way; so they asked his leave to depart from Guivret, in whom they had found a friend indeed; for he had honoured and served them in every way. When he came to take leave, Erec said: "Sire, I do not wish to delay longer my departure for my own land. Order everything to be prepared and collected, in order that I may have all I need. I shall wish to start to-morrow morning, as soon as it is day. I have stayed so long with you that I feel strong and vigorous. God grant, if it please Him, that I may live to meet you again somewhere, when I may be able in my turn to serve and honour you. Unless I am captured or detained, I do not expect to tarry anywhere until I reach the court of King Arthur, whom I hope to find either at Robais or Carduel." To which Guivret makes prompt reply, "Sire, you shall not go off alone! For I myself shall go with you and shall take companions with us, if it be your pleasure." Erec accedes to this advice, and says that, in accordance with his plans, he wishes the journey to be begun. That night they make preparations for their journey, not wishing to delay there longer. They all make ready and prepare. In the early morning, when they awake, the saddles are placed upon the steeds. Before he leaves, Erec goes to bid farewell to the damsels in their rooms; and Enide (who was glad and full of joy) thither follows him. When their preparations for departure were made, they took their leave of the damsels. Erec, who was very courteous, in taking leave of them, thanks them for his health and life, and pledges to them his service. Then he took one of them by the hand she who was the nearer to him and Enide took the other's hand: hand in hand they came up from the bedroom into the castle hall. Guivret urges them to mount at once without delay. Enide thinks the time will never come for them to mount. They bring around to the block for her a good-tempered palfrey, a soft stepper, handsome and well shaped. The palfrey was of fine appearance and a good mount: it was no less valuable than her own which had stayed behind at Limors. That other one was dappled, this one was sorrel; but the head was of another colour: it was marked in such a way that one cheek was all white, while the other was raven black. Between the two colours there was a line, greener than a grape-vine leaf, which separated the white from the black. Of the bridle, breast-strap, and saddle I can surely say that the workmanship was rich and handsome. All the breast- strap and bridle was of gold set with emeralds. The saddle was decorated in another style, covered with a precious purple cloth. The saddle-bows were of ivory, on which was carved the story of how Aeneas came from Troy, how at Carthage with great joy Dido received him to her bed, how Aeneas deceived her, and how for him she killed herself, how Aeneas conquered Laurentum and all Lombardy, of which he was king all his life. (35) Cunning was the workmanship and well carved, all decorated with fine gold. A skilful craftsman, who made it spent more than seven years in carving it, without touching any other piece of work. I do not know whether he sold it; but he ought to have obtained a good price for it. Now that Enide was presented with this palfrey, she was well compensated for the loss of her own. The palfrey, thus richly apparelled, was given to her and she mounted it gladly; then the gentlemen and squires quickly mounted too. For their pleasure and sport Guivret caused to be taken with them rich falcons, both young and moulted, many a tercel and sparrow-hawk, and many a setter and greyhound.

(Vv. 5367-5446.) (36) They rode straight on from morn till eve more than thirty Welsh leagues, and then came to the towers of a stronghold, rich and fair, girt all about with a new wall. And all around, beneath this wall, ran a very deep stream, roaring rushing like a storm. Erec stops to look at it, and ask and find out if any one could truly tell him who was the lord of this town. "Friend," said he to his kind companion, "could you tell me the name of this town, and whose it is? Tell me if it belongs to a count or a king. Since you have brought me here, tell me, if you know." "Sire," he says, "I know very well, and will tell you the truth about it. The name of the town is Brandigant, and it is so strong and fine that it fears neither king nor emperor. If France, and all of England, and all who live from here to Liege were ranged about to lay a siege, they would never take it in their lives; for the isle on which the town stands stretches away four leagues or more, and within the enclosure grows all that a rich town needs: fruit and wheat and wine are found; and of wood and water there is no lack. It fears no assault on any side, nor could anything reduce it to starvation. King Evrain had it fortified, and he has possessed it all his days unmolested, and will possess it all his life. But not because he feared any one did he thus fortify it; but the town is more pleasing so. For if it had no wall or tower, but only the stream that encircles it, it would still be so secure and strong that it would have no fear of the whole world." "God!" said Erec, "what great wealth! Let us go and see the fortress, and we shall take lodging in the town, for I wish to stop here." "Sire," said the other in great distress, "were it not to disappoint you, we should not stop here. In the town there is a dangerous passage." "Dangerous?" says Erec; "do you know about it? Whatever it be, tell us about it; for very gladly would I know." "Sire," says he, "I should fear that you might suffer some harm there. I know there is so much boldness and excellence in your heart that, were I to tell you what I know of the perilous and hard adventure, you would wish to enter in. I have often heard the story, and more than seven years have passed since any one that went in quest of the adventure has come back from the town; yet, proud, bold knights have come hither from many a land. Sire, do not treat this as a jest: for you will never learn the secret from me until you shall have promised me, by the love you have sworn to me, that never by you will be undertaken this adventure, from which no one escapes without receiving shame or death."

(Vv. 5447-5492.) Now Erec hears what pleases him, and begs Guivret not to be grieved, saying: "Ah, fair sweet friend, permit that our lodging be made in the town, and do not be disturbed. It is time to halt for the night, and so I trust that it will not displease you; for if any honour comes to us here you ought to be very glad. I appeal to you conceding the adventure that you tell me just the name of it, and I'll not insist upon the rest." "Sire." he says, "I cannot be silent and refuse the information you desire. The name is very fair to say, but the execution is very hard: for no one can come from it alive. The adventure, upon my word, is called `the Joy of the Court.'" "God! there can be nothing but good in joy," says Erec; "I go to seek it. Don't go now and discourage me about this or anything else, fair gentle friend; but let us have our lodgings taken, for great good may come to us of this. Nothing could restrain me from going to seek the Joy." "Sire," says he, "God grant your prayer, that you may find joy and return without mishap. I clearly see that we must go in. Since otherwise it may not be, let us go in. Our lodging is secured; for no knight of high degree, as I have heard it said and told, can enter this castle with intent to lodge here but that King Evrain offers to shelter him. So gentle and courteous is the King that he has given notice to all his townsmen, appealing to their love for him, that any gentleman from afar should not find lodging in their houses, so that he himself may do honour to all gentlemen who may wish to tarry here."

(Vv. 5493-5668.) (37) Thus they proceed toward the castle, passing the list and the drawbridge; and when they passed the listing-place, the people who were gathered in the streets in crowds see Erec in all his beauty, and apparently they think and believe that all the others are in his train. Marvelling much, they stare at him; the whole town was stirred and moved, as they take counsel and discuss about him. Even the maidens at their song leave off their singing and desist, as all together they look at him; and because of his great beauty they cross themselves, and marvellously they pity him. One to another whispers low: "Alas! This knight, who is passing, is on his way to the `Joy of the Court.' He will be sorry before he returns; no one ever came from another land to claim the `Joy of the Court' who did not receive shame and harm, and leave his head there as a forfeit." Then, that he may hear their words, they cry-aloud: "God defend thee, knight, from harm; for thou art wondrously handsome, and thy beauty is greatly to be pitied, for to-morrow we shall see it quenched. Tomorrow thy death is come; to-morrow thou shalt surely die if God does not guard and defend thee." Erec hears and understands that they are speaking of him through the lower town: more than two thousand pitied him; but nothing causes him dismay. He passes on without delay, bowing gaily to men and women alike. And they all salute him too; and most of them swear with anxiety, fearing more than he does himself, for his shame and for his hurt. The mere sight of his countenance, his great beauty and his bearing, has so won to him the hearts of all, that knights, ladies, and maids alike fear his harm. 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: "Welcome to this company, both to the master and all his suite. Welcome, gentlemen! Dismount." They dismounted, and there were plenty to receive and take their horses. 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: birds, venison, and fruit, and wines of different sorts. 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: he remembered `the Joy', and began a conversation about it in which King Evrain joined. "Sire" says he, "it is time now to tell you what I intend, and why I have come here. Too long I have refrained from speech, and now can no longer conceal my object. I ask you for `the Joy' of the Court, for I covet nothing else so much. Grant it to me, whatever it be, if you are in control of it." "In truth, fair friend." the King replies, "I hear you speak great nonsense. 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! Hold your peace! 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." Erec hears him and admits that the King with reason counsels him. But the greater the wonder and the more perilous the adventure, the more he covets it and yearns for it, saying: "Sire, I can tell you that I find you a worthy and a loyal man, and I can put no blame on you. I wish to undertake {his boon, however it may fall out with me. 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." "I know that well," the King replied; "you are acting against my will. 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."

(Vv. 5669-5738.) 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: "Alas, alas! oh knight, the Joy that thou wishest to win has betrayed thee, and thou goest to win but grief and death." And there is not one but says: "God curse this joy! which has been the death of so many gentlemen. To-day it will wreak the worst woe that it has ever yet wrought." Erec hears well and notes that up and down they said of him: "Alas, alas, ill-starred wert thou, fair, gentle, skilful knight! Surely it would not be just that thy life should end so soon, or that harm should come to wound and injure thee." He hears clearly the words and what they said; but notwithstanding, he passes on without lowering his head, and without the bearing of a craven. 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.

(Vv. 5739-5826.) (38) The garden had around it no wall or fence except of air: yet, by a spell, the garden was on all sides so shut in by the air that nothing could enter there any more than if the garden were enclosed in iron, unless it flew in over the top. 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. (40) He knows not what this signifies, yet draws not back a step for that; rather does he ask the King, who was beside him at the right, what this can be. The King speaks and explains to him: "Friend," he says, "do you know the meaning of this thing that you see here? 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. (41) However, he who shall succeed in blowing it his fame and honour will grow until it distance all those of his country, and he shall find such renown that all will come to do him honour, and will hold him to be the best of them all. Now there is no more of this matter. Have your men withdraw; for `the Joy' will soon arrive, and will make you sorry, I suspect."

(Vv. 5827-6410.) 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: "Fair sister dear, gentle, loyal, and prudent lady, I am acquainted with your thoughts. 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: if there were in me only so much courage as your love inspires, truly I should not fear to face any man alive. 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." Then he kisses her and commends her to God, and she him. 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: "Vassal, vassal! 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! Stand back!" And Erec stops and looks at him, and the other, too, stood still. Neither made advance until Erec had replied all that he wished to say to him. "Friend," he says, "one can speak folly as well as good sense. 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." "Nay," quoth he, "so help me God! know that you shall have the battle, for I defy and challenge you." And you may know, upon my word, that then the reins were not held in. 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. 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: "I cannot deny it, you have beaten me; but much it goes against my will. 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." "Friend, dost thou wish to know my name?" says Erec; "Well, I shall tell thee ere I leave here; but it will be upon condition that thou tell me now why thou art in this garden. 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." "Sire," says he, "fearlessly I will tell you all you wish to know." Erec no more withholds his name, but says: "Didst thou ever hear of King Lac and of his son Erec?" "Yea, sire, I knew him well; for I was at his father's court for many a day before I was knighted, and, if he had had his will, I should never have left him for anything." "Then thou oughtest to know me well, if thou weft ever with me at the court of my father, the King." "Then, upon my faith, it has turned out well. 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. You have given great joy to the court of my uncle and my friends; for now I shall be released from here; and because all those who are at the court will have joy of it, therefore those who awaited the joy called it `Joy of the Court'. 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. Rise up, sire! Go quickly now! Go take the horn right joyfully; for you have no further cause to wait; so do that which you must do." Now Erec rose, and the other rises with him, and both approach the horn. 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. And those who were in the garden hastened to remove Erec's arms, and in emulation they all sang a song about the Joy; and the ladies made up a lay which they called `the Lay of Joy', (42) but the lay is not well known. 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: "I am the niece of the Count who holds sway over Lalut, the daughter of his own sister; at Lalut I was born and brought up." The other cannot help smiling, without hearing more, for she is so delighted that she forgets her sorrow. Her heart leaps with joy which she cannot conceal. She runs and embraces Enide, saying: "I am your cousin! 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." "Fair cousin, he married me in such a way that my father knew all about it, and my mother was greatly pleased. 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." Then she told and related to her how Erec came to Lalut; for she had no desire to conceal it. 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: "May God save him through whom joy and gladness come to our court! God save the most blessed man whom God has ever brought into being!" Thus they bring him to the court, and strive to show their glee as their hearts dictate. 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. Before she goes, she kisses her cousin very tenderly and embraces her. Then they go and the Joy is over.

(Vv. 6411-6509.) They go off and the others return. Erec and Guivret do not tarry, but keep joyfully on their way, until they came in nine days to Robais, where they were told the King was. The day before he had been bled privately in his apartments; with him he had only five hundred nobles of his household. Never before at any time was the King found so alone, and he was much distressed that he had no more numerous suite at his court. At that time a messenger comes running, whom they had sent ahead to apprise the King of their approach. This man came in before the assembly, found the King and all his people, and saluting him correctly, said: "I am a messenger of Erec and of Guivret the Little." Then he told him how they were coming to see him at his court. The King replies: "Let them be welcome, as valiant and gallant gentlemen! Nowhere do I know of any better than they two. By their presence my court will be much enhanced." Then he sent for the Queen and told her the news. The others have their horses saddled to go and meet the gentlemen. In such haste are they to mount that they did not put on their spurs. I ought to state briefly that the crowd of common people, including squires, cooks, and butlers, had already entered the town to prepare for the lodgings. The main party came after, and had already drawn so near that they had entered the town. Now the two parties have met each other, and salute and kiss each other. They come to the lodgings and make themselves comfortable, removing their hose and making their toilet by donning their rich robes. When they were completely decked out, they took their way to the court. They come to court, where the King sees them, and the Queen, who is beside herself with impatience to see Erec and Enide. The King makes them take seats beside him, kisses Erec and Guivret; about Enide's neck he throws his arms and kisses her repeatedly, in his great joy. Nor is the Queen slow in embracing Erec and Enide. One might well rejoice to see her now so full of joy. Every one enters with spirit into the merry-making. Then the King causes silence to be made, and appeals to Erec and asks news of his adventures. When the noise had ceased, Erec began his story, telling him of his adventures, without forgetting any detail. Do you think now that I shall tell you what motive he had had in starting out? Nay, for you know the whole truth about this and the rest, as I have revealed it to you. To tell the story again would burden me; for the tale is not short, that any one should wish to begin it afresh and re-embelish it, as he told and related it: of the three knights whom he defeated, and then of the five, and then of the Count who strove to do him harm, and then of the two giants -- all in order, one after the other, he told him of his adventures up to the point where he met Count Oringle of Limors. "Many a danger have you gone through, fair gentle friend," said the King to him; "now tarry in this country at my court, as you are wont to do." "Sire, since you wish it, I shall remain very gladly three or four years entire. But ask Guivret to remain here too a request in which I would fain join." The King prays him to remain, and he consents to stay. So they both stay: the King kept them with him, and held them dear and honoured them.

(Vv. 6510-6712.) Erec stayed at court, together with Guivret and Enide, until the death of his father, the king, who was an old man and full of years. The messengers then started out: the nobles who went to seek him, and who were the greatest men of the land, sought and searched for him until they found him at Tintagel three weeks before Christmas; they told him the truth what had happened to his old, white-haired father, and how he now was dead and gone. This grieved Erec much more than he showed before the people. But sorrow is not seemly in a king, nor does it become a king to mourn. There at Tintagel where he was, he caused vigils for the dead and Masses to be sung; he promised and kept his promises, as he had vowed to the religious houses and churches; he did well all that he ought to do: he chose out more than one hundred and sixty-nine of the wretched poor, and clothed them all in new garments. To the poor clerks and priors he gave, as was right, black copes and warm linings to wear beneath. For God's sake he did great good to all: to those who were in need he distributed more than a barrel of small coins. When he had shared his wealth, he then did a very wise thing in receiving his land from the King's hand; and then he begged the King to crown him at his court. The King bade him quickly be prepared; for they shall both be crowned, he together with his wife, at the approaching Christmastide; and he added: "You must go hence to Nantes in Brittany; there you shall carry a royal ensign with crown on head and sceptre in hand; this gift and privilege I bestow upon you." Erec thanked the King, and said that that was a noble gift. At Christmas the King assembles all his nobles, summoning them individually and commanding them to come to Nantes. He summoned them all, and none stayed behind. Erec, too, sent word to many of his followers, and summoned them to come thither; but more came than he had bidden, to serve him and do him honour. I cannot tell you or relate who each one was, and what his name; but whoever came or did not come, the father and mother of my lady Enide were not forgotten. Her father was sent for first of all, and he came to court in handsome style, like a great lord and a chatelain. There was no great crowd of chaplains or of silly, gaping yokels, but of excellent knights and of people well equipped. Each day they made a long day's journey, and rode on each day with great joy and great display, until on Christmas eve they came to the city of Nantes. They made no halt until they entered the great hall where the King and his courtiers were. Erec and Enide see them, and you may know how glad they were. To meet them they quickly make their way, and salute and embrace them, speaking to them tenderly and showing their delight as they should. When they had rejoiced together, taking each other by the hand, they all four came before the King, saluting him and likewise the Queen, who was sitting by his side. Taking his host by the hand, Erec said: "Sire, behold my good host, my kind friend, who did me such honour that he made me master in his own house. Before he knew anything about me, he lodged me well and handsomely. All that he had he made over to me, and even his daughter he bestowed upon me, without the advice or counsel of any one." "And this lady with him," the King inquires, "who is she?" Erec does not conceal the truth: "Sire," says he, "of this lady I may say that she is the mother of my wife." "Is she her mother?" "Yes, truly, sire." "Certainly, I may then well say that fair and comely should be the flower born of so fair a stem, and better the fruit one picks; for sweet is the smell of what springs from good. Fair is Enide and fair she should be in all reason and by right; for her mother is a very handsome lady, and her father is a goodly knight. Nor does she in aught belie them; for she descends and inherits directly from them both in many respects." Then the King ceases and sits down, bidding them be seated too. They do not disobey his command, but straightway take seats. Now is Enide filled with joy when she sees her father and mother, for a very long time had passed since she had seen them. Her happiness now is greatly increased, for she was delighted and happy, and she showed it all she could, but she could not make such demonstration but that her joy was yet greater. But I wish to say no more of that, for my heart draws me toward the court which was now assembled in force. From many a different country there were counts and dukes and kings, Normans, Bretons. Scotch, and Irish: from England and Cornwall there was a very rich gathering of nobles; for from Wales to Anjou, in Maine and in Poitou, there was no knight of importance, nor lady of quality, but the best and the most elegant were at the court at Nantes, as the King had bidden them. Now hear, if you will, the great joy and grandeur, the display and the wealth, that was exhibited at the court. Before the hour of nones had sounded, King Arthur dubbed four hundred knights or more all sons of counts and of kings. To each one he gave three horses and two pairs of suits, in order that his court may make a better showing. Puissant and lavish was the King; for the mantles he bestowed were not of serge, nor of rabbit-skins, nor of cheap brown fur, but of heavy silk and ermine, of spotted fur and flowered silks, bordered with heavy and stiff gold braid. Alexander, who conquered so much that he subdued the whole world, and who was so lavish and rich, compared with him was poor and mean. Caesar, the Emperor of Rome, and all the kings whose names you hear in stories and in epic songs, did not distribute at any feast so much as Arthur gave on the day that he crowned Erec; nor would Caesar and Alexander dare to spend so much as he spent at the court. The raiment was taken from the chests and spread about freely through the halls; one could take what he would, without restraint. In the midst of the court, upon a rug, stood thirty bushels of bright sterlings; (43) for since the time of Merlin until that day sterlings had currency throughout Britain. There all helped themselves, each one carrying away that night all that he wanted to his lodging-place. At nine o'clock on Christmas day, all came together again at court. The great joy that is drawing near for him had completely filched Erec's heart away. The tongue and the mouth of no man, however skilful, could describe the third, or the fourth, or the fifth part of the display which marked his coronation. So it is a mad enterprise I undertake in wishing to attempt to describe it. But since I must make the effort, come what may, I shall not fail to relate a part of it, as best I may.

(Vv. 6713-6809.) The King had two thrones of white ivory, well constructed and new, of one pattern and style. He who made them beyond a doubt was a very skilled and cunning craftsman. For so precisely did he make the two alike in height, in breadth, and in ornamentation, that you could nor look at them from every side to distinguish one from the other and find in one aught that was not in the other. There was no part of wood, but all of gold and fine ivory. Well were they carved with great skill, for the two corresponding sides of each bore the representation of a leopard, and the other two a dragon's shape. A knight named Bruiant of the Isles had made a gift and present of them to King Arthur and the Queen. King Arthur sat upon the one, and upon the other he made Erec sit, who was robed in watered silk. As we read in the story, we find the description of the robe, and in order that no one may say that I lie, I quote as my authority Macrobius, (44) who devoted himself to the description of it. Macrobius instructs me how to describe, according as I have found it in the book, the workmanship and the figures of the cloth. Four fairies had made it with great skill and mastery. (45) One represented there geometry, how it estimates and measures the extent of the heavens and the earth, so that nothing is lacking there; and then the depth and the height, and the width, and the length; then it estimates, besides, how broad and deep the sea is, and thus measures the whole world. Such was the work of the first fairy. And the second devoted her effort to the portrayal of arithmetic, and she strove hard to represent clearly how it wisely enumerates the days and the hours of time, and the water of the sea drop by drop, and then all the sand, and the stars one by one, knowing well how to tell the truth, and how many leaves there are in the woods: such is the skill of arithmetic that numbers have never deceived her, nor will she ever be in error when she wishes to apply her sense to them. The third design was that of music, with which all merriment finds itself in accord, songs and harmonies, and sounds of string: of harp, of Breton violin, and of viol. This piece of work was good and fine; for upon it were portrayed all the instruments and all the pastimes. The fourth, who next performed her task, executed a most excellent work; for the best of the arts she there portrayed. She undertook astronomy, which accomplishes so many marvels and draws inspiration from the stars, the moon, and the sun. Nowhere else does it seek counsel concerning aught which it has to do. They give it good and sure advice. Concerning whatever inquiry it make of them, whether in the past or in the future, they give it information without falsehood and without deception. This work was portrayed on the stuff of which Erec's robe was made, all worked and woven with thread of gold. The fur lining that was sewed within, belonged to some strange beasts whose heads are all white, and whose necks are as black as mulberries, and which have red backs and green bellies, and dark blue tail. These beasts live in India and they are called "barbiolets". They eat nothing but spices, cinnamon, and fresh cloves. What shall I tell you of the mantle? It was very rich and fine and handsome; it had four stones in the tassels -- two chrysolites on one side, and two amethysts on the other, which were mounted in gold.

(Vv. 6810-6946.) As yet Enide had not come to the palace. When the King sees that she delays, he bids Gawain go quickly to bring her and the Queen. Gawain hastens and was not slow, and with him King Cadoalant and the generous King of Galloway. Guivret the Little accompanies them, followed by Yder the son of Nut. So many of the other nobles ran thither to escort the two ladies that they would have sufficed to overcome a host; for there were more than a thousand of them. The Queen had made her best effort to adorn Enide. Into the palace they brought her the courteous Gawain escorting her on one side, and on the other the generous King of Galloway, who loved her dearly on account of Erec who was his nephew. When they came to the palace, King Arthur came quickly toward them, and courteously seated Enide beside Erec; for he wished to do her great honour. Now he orders to be brought forth from his treasure two massive crowns of fine gold. As soon as he had spoken and given the command, without delay the crowns were brought before him, all sparkling with carbuncles, of which there were four in each. The light of the moon is nothing compared with the light which the least of the carbuncles could shed. Because of the radiance which they shed, all those who were in the palace were so dazzled that for a moment they could see nothing; and even the King was amazed, and yet filled with satisfaction, when he saw them to be so clear and bright. He had one of them held by two damsels, and the other by two gentlemen. Then he bade the bishops and priors and the abbots of the Church step forward and anoint the new King, as the Christian practice is. Now all the prelates, young and old, came forward; for at the court there were a great number of bishops and abbots. The Bishop of Nantes himself, who was a very worthy and saintly man, anointed the new King in a very holy and becoming manner, and placed the crown upon his head. King Arthur had a sceptre brought which was very fine. Listen to the description of the sceptre, which was clearer than a pane of glass, all of one solid emerald, fully as large as your fist. I dare to tell you in very truth that in all the world there is no manner of fish, or of wild behest, or of man, or of flying bird that was not worked and chiselled upon it with its proper figure. The sceptre was handed to the King, who looked at it with amazement; then he put it without delay into King Erec's right hand; and now he was King as he ought to be. Then he crowned Enide in turn. Now the bells ring for Mass, and they go to the main church to hear the Mass and service; they go to pray at the cathedral. You would have seen weeping with joy the father of Queen Enide and her mother, Carsenefide. In truth this was her mother's name, and her father's name was Liconal. Very happy were they both. When they came to the cathedral, the procession came out from the church with relics and treasures to meet them. Crosses and prayerbooks and censers and reliquaries, with all the holy relics, of which there were many in the church, were all brought out to meet them; nor was there any lack of chants made. Never were seen so many kings, counts, dukes, and nobles together at a Mass, and the press was so great and thick that the church was completely filled. No low-born man could enter there, but only ladies and knights. Outside the door of the church a great number still remained, so many were there come together who could not get inside the church. When they had heard all the Mass they returned to the palace. It was all prepared and decorated: tables set and cloths spread five hundred tables and more were there; but I do not wish to make you believe a thing which does not seem true. It would seem too great a lie were I to say that five hundred tables were set in rows in one palace, so I will not say it; rather were there five hails so filled with them that with great difficulty could one make his way among the tables. At each table there was in truth a king or a duke or a count; and full a hundred knights were seated at each table. A thousand knights served the bread, and a thousand served the wine, and a thousand the meat -- all of them dressed in fresh fur robes of ermine. All are served with divers dishes. Even if I did not see them, I might still be able to tell you about them; but I must attend to something else than to tell you what they had to eat. They had enough, without wanting more; joyfully and liberally they were served to their heart's desire.

(Vv. 6947-6958.) When this celebration was concluded, the King dismissed the assemblage of kings, dukes, and counts, of which the number was immense, and of the other humble folk who had come to the festival. He rewarded them liberally with horses, arms and silver, cloths and brocades of many kinds, because of his generosity, and because of Erec whom he loved so much. Here the story ends at last.

[End of "Erec et Enide"]

NOTE: Endnotes supplied by Prof. Foerster are indicated by "(F.)"; all other endnotes are supplied by W.W. Comfort.

(33) There follows and excellent example of an old French lament
     for the dead.  Such a wail was known in old French as a
     "regret", a word which has lost its specific meaning in

(34) Many examples will be met of women skilled in the practice of medicine and surgery. On the subject, cf. A. Hertel, "Versauberte Oertlichkeiten und Gegenstande in der altfranzosschen Dichtung" (Hanover, 1908); Georg Manheimer, "Etwas liber die Aerzte im alten Frankreich" in "Romanische Forschungen", vi. 581-614.

(35) The reference here and in v.5891 is probably suggested by the "Roman d'Eneas", which tells the same story as Virgil's "Aeneid", in old French eight-syllable rhymed couplets, and which is dated by the most recent scholarship 1160 circ. Cf. F.M. Warren in "Modern Philology", iii. 179-209; iii. 513-539; iv. 655-675. Also M. Wilmotte, "L'Evolution du roman francais aux environs de 1150" (Paris, 1903). Scenes from classical and medieval romance were for a long time favourite subject of portrayal upon cloths and tapestries, as well as of illuminations for manuscripts.

(36) Various conjectures have been advanced concerning the significance of this strange adventure and its mysterious name "La Joie de la cour". It is a quite extraneous episode, and Tennyson in his artistic use of our hero and heroine in the Idyl of "Geraint and Enid" did well to omit it. Chretien's explanation, a little farther on, of "La Joie de la cour" is lame and unsatisfactory, as if he himself did not understand the significance of the matter upon which he was working. Cf. E. Philipot in "Romania", xxv. 258-294; K. Othmer, "Ueber das Verhaltnis Chrestiens Erec und Enide zu dem Mabinogion des rothen Buch von Hergest" (Bonn, 1889); G. Paris in "Romania", xx. 152 f.

(37) The following description of Erec's reception is repeated with variations at the time of Yvain's entrance in the "Chastel de Pesme Avanture" ("Yvain", 5107 f.) (F.).

(38) For such conventional mediaeval descriptions of other-world castles, palaces, and landscapes, cf. O.M. Johnston in "Ztsch fur romanische Philologie", xxxii. 705-710.

(39) Tiebaut li Esclavon, frequently mentioned in the epic poems, was a Saracen king, the first husband of Guibourne, who later married the Christian hero Guillaume d'Orange. Opinel was also a Saracen, mentioned in "Gaufrey", p. 132, and the hero of a lost epic poem (see G. Paris, "Historie poetique de Charlemagne", p. 127). Fernagu was another Saracen king, killed in a famous encounter by Roland, "Otinel", p. 9 (F.). For further references to these characters, see E. Langlois, "Table des noms propres de toute nature compris dans les chansons de geste" (Paris, 1904).

(40) There is a similar picket fence topped with helmets in the "Las de la Mule sanz frain", v. 433 (ed. By R.T. Hill, Baltimore, 1911).

(41) For such magic horns, cf. A. Hertel, "Verzauberte Oertlichkeiten", etc. (Hanover, 1908).

(42) In fact, nothing is known of this "lai", if, indeed, it ever existed. For a recent definition of "lai", se L. Foulet in "Ztsch. fur romanische Philologie", xxxii. 161 f.

(43) The sterling was the English silver penny, 240 of which equalled 1 Pound Sterling of silver of 5760 grains 925 fine. It is early described as "denarius Angliae qui vocatur sterlingus" ("Ency. Brit").

(44) Macrobus was a Neoplatonic philosopher and Latin grammarian of the early part of the 5th century A.D. He is best known as the author of the "Saturnalia" and of a commentary upon Cicero's "Somnium Scipionis" in that author's "De republica". It is this latter work that is probably in the mind of Chretien, as well as of Gower, who refers to him in his "Mirour l'omme", and of Jean de Meun, the author of the second part of the "Roman de la Rose".

(45) For fairies and their handiwork in the Middle Ages, cf. L.F.A. Maury, "Les Fees du moyen age" (Paris, 1843); Keightley, "Fairy Mythology" (London, 1860); Lucy A. Paton, "Studies in the Fairy Mythology of Arthurian Romance", Radcliffe Monograph (Boston, 1903); D.B. Easter, "The Magic Elements in the romans d'aventure and the romans bretons" (Baltimore, 1906).