(Vv. 2774-3230.) Senseless and deprived of speech, Yvain is unable to reply. And the damsel steps forth and takes the ring from his finger, commending to God the King and all the others except him, whom she leaves in deep distress. And his sorrow grows on him: he feels oppressed by what he hears, and is tormented by what he sees. He would rather be banished alone in some wild land, where no one would know where to seek for him, and where no man or woman would know of his whereabouts any more than if he were in some deep abyss. He hates nothing so much as he hates himself, nor does he know to whom to go for comfort in the death he has brought upon himself. But he would rather go insane than not take vengeance upon himself, deprived, as he is, of joy through his own fault. He rises from his place among the knights, fearing he will lose his mind if he stays longer in their midst. On their part, they pay no heed to him, but let him take his departure alone. They know well enough that he cares nothing for their talk or their society. And he goes away until he is far from the tents and pavilions. Then such a storm broke loose in his brain that he loses his senses; he tears his flesh and, stripping off his clothes, he flees across the meadows and fields, leaving his men quite at a loss, and wondering what has become of him. (18) They go in search of him through all the country around--in the lodgings of the knights, by the hedgerows, and in the gardens--but they seek him where he is not to be found. Still fleeing, he rapidly pursued his way until he met close by a park a lad who had in his hand a bow and five barbed arrows, which were very sharp and broad. He had sense enough to go and take the bow and arrows which he held. However, he had no recollection of anything that he had done. He lies in wait for the beasts in the woods, killing them, and then eating the venison raw. Thus he dwelt in the forest like a madman or a savage, until he came upon a little, low-lying house belonging to a hermit, who was at work clearing his ground. When he saw him coming with nothing on, he could easily perceive that he was not in his right mind; and such was the case, as the hermit very well knew. So, in fear, he shut himself up in his little house, and taking some bread and fresh water, he charitably set it outside the house on a narrow window-ledge. And thither the other comes, hungry for the bread which he takes and eats. I do not believe that he ever before had tasted such hard and bitter bread. The measure of barley kneaded with the straw, of which the bread, sourer than yeast, was made, had not cost more than five sous; and the bread was musty and as dry as bark. But hunger torments and whets his appetite, so that the bread tasted to him like sauce. For hunger is itself a well mixed and concocted sauce for any food. My lord Yvain soon ate the hermit's bread, which tasted good to him, and drank the cool water from the jar. When he had eaten, he betook himself again to the woods in search of stags and does. And when he sees him going away, the good man beneath his roof prays God to defend him and guard him lest he ever pass that way again. But there is no creature, with howsoever little sense, that will not gladly return to a place where he is kindly treated. So, not a day passed while he was in this mad fit that he did not bring to his door some wild game. Such was the life he led; and the good man took it upon himself to remove the skin and set a good quantity of the venison to cook; and the bread and the water in the jug was always standing on the window-ledge for the madman to make a meal. Thus he had something to eat and drink: venison without salt or pepper, and good cool water from the spring. And the good man exerted himself to sell the hide and buy bread made of barley, or oats, or of some other grain; so, after that, Yvain had a plentiful supply of bread and venison, which sufficed him for a long time, until one day he was found asleep in the forest by two damsels and their mistress, in whose service they were. When they saw the naked man, one of the three ran and dismounted and examined him closely, before she saw anything about him which would serve to identify him. If he had only been richly attired, as he had been many a time, and if she could have seen him then she would have known him quickly enough. But she was slow to recognise him, and continued to look at him until at last she noticed a scar which he had on his face, and she recollected that my lord Yvain's face was scarred in this same way; she was sure of it, for she had often seen it. Because of the scar she saw that it was he beyond any doubt; but she marvelled greatly how it came about that she found him thus poor and stripped. Often she crosses herself in amazement, but she does not touch him or wake him up; rather does she mount her horse again, and going back to the others, tells them tearfully of her adventure. I do not know if I ought to delay to tell you of the grief she showed; but thus she spoke weeping to her mistress: "My lady, I have found Yvain, who has proved himself to be the best knight in the world, and the most virtuous. I cannot imagine what sin has reduced the gentleman to such a plight. I think he must have had some misfortune, which causes him thus to demean himself, for one may lose his wits through grief. And any one can see that he is not in his right mind, for it would surely never be like him to conduct himself thus indecently unless he had lost his mind. Would that God had restored to him the best sense he ever had, and would that he might then consent to render assistance to your cause! For Count Alier, who is at war with you, has made upon you a fierce attack. I should see the strife between you two quickly settled in your favour if God favoured your fortunes so that he should return to his senses and undertake to aid you in this stress." To this the lady made reply: "Take care now! For surely, if he does not escape, with God's help I think we can clear his head of all the madness and insanity. But we must be on our way at once! For I recall a certain ointment with which Morgan the Wise presented me, saying there was no delirium of the head which it would not cure." Thereupon, they go off at once toward the town, which was hard by, for it was not any more than half a league of the kind they have in that country; and, as compared with ours, two of their leagues make one and four make two. And he remains sleeping all alone, while the lady goes to fetch the ointment. The lady opens a case of hers, and, taking out a box, gives it to the damsel, and charges her not to be too prodigal in its use: she should rub only his temples with it, for there is no use of applying it elsewhere; she should anoint only his temples with it, and the remainder she should carefully keep, for there is nothing the matter with him except in his brain. She sends him also a robe of spotted fur, a coat, and a mantle of scarlet silk. The damsel takes them, and leads in her right hand an excellent palfrey. And she added to these, of her own store, a shirt, some soft hose, and some new drawers of proper cut. With all these things she quickly set out, and found him still asleep where she had left him. After putting her horse in an enclosure where she tied him fast, she came with the clothes and the ointment to the place where he was asleep. Then she made so bold as to approach the madman, so that she could touch and handle him: then taking the ointment she rubbed him with it until none remained in the box, being so solicitous for his recovery that she proceeded to anoint him all over with it; and she used it so freely that she heeded not the warning of her mistress, nor indeed did she remember it. She put more on than was needed, but in her opinion it was well employed. She rubbed his temples and forehead, and his whole body down to the ankles. She rubbed his temples and his whole body so much there in the hot sunshine that the madness and the depressing gloom passed completely out of his brain. But she was foolish to anoint his body, for of that there was no need. If she had had five measures of it she would doubtless have done the same thing. She carries off the box, and takes hidden refuge by her horse. But she leaves the robe behind, wishing that, if God calls him back to life, he may see it all laid out, and may take it and put it on. She posts herself behind an oak tree until he had slept enough, and was cured and quite restored, having regained his wits and memory. Then he sees that he is as naked as ivory, and feels much ashamed; but he would have been yet more ashamed had he known what had happened. As it is, he knows nothing but that he is naked. He sees the new robe lying before him, and marvels greatly how and by what adventure it had come there. But he is ashamed and concerned, because of his nakedness, and says that he is dead and utterly undone if any one has come upon him there and recognised him. Meanwhile, he clothes himself and looks out into the forest to see if any one was approaching. He tries to stand up and support himself, but cannot summon the strength to walk away, for his sickness has so affected him that he can scarcely stand upon his feet. Thereupon, the damsel resolves to wait no longer, but, mounting, she passed close by him, as if unaware of his presence. Quite indifferent as to whence might come the help, which he needed so much to lead him away to some lodging- place, where he might recruit his strength, he calls out to her with all his might. And the damsel, for her part, looks about her as if not knowing what the trouble is. Confused, she goes hither and thither, not wishing to go straight up to him. Then he begins to call again: "Damsel, come this way, here!" And the damsel guided toward him her soft-stepping palfrey. By this ruse she made him think that she knew nothing of him and had never seen him before; in so doing she was wise and courteous. When she had come before him, she said: "Sir knight, what do you desire that you call me so insistently?" "Ah," said he. "prudent damsel, I have found myself in this wood by some mishap--I know not what. For God's sake and your belief in Him, I pray you to lend me, taking my word as pledge, or else to give me outright, that palfrey you are leading in your hand." "Gladly, sire: but you must accompany me whither I am going." "Which way?" says he. "To a town that stands near by, beyond the forest." "Tell me, damsel, if you stand in need of me." "Yes," she says, "I do; but I think you are not very well. For the next two weeks at least you ought to rest. Take this horse, which I hold in my right hand, and we shall go to our lodging-place." And he, who had no other desire, takes it and mounts, and they proceed until they come to a bridge over a swift and turbulent stream. And the damsel throws into the water the empty box she is carrying, thinking to excuse herself to her mistress for her ointment by saying that she was so unlucky as to let the box fall into the water for, when her palfrey stumbled under her, the box slipped from her gasp, and she came near falling in too, which would have been still worse luck. It is her intention to invent this story when she comes into her mistress' presence. Together they held their way until they came to the town, where the lady detained my lord Yvain and asked her damsel in private for her box and ointment: and the damsel repeated to her the lie as she had invented it, not daring to tell her the truth. Then the lady was greatly enraged, and said: "This is certainly a very serious loss, and I am sure and certain that the box will never be found again. But since it has happened so, there is nothing more to be done about it. One often desires a blessing which turns out to be a curse; thus I, who looked for a blessing and joy from this knight, have lost the dearest and most precious of my possessions. However, I beg you to serve him in all respects." "Ah, lady, how wisely now you speak! For it would be too bad to convert one misfortune into two."
(Vv. 3131-3254.) Then they say no more about the box, but minister in every way they can to the comfort of my lord Yvain, bathing him and washing his hair, having him shaved and clipped, for one could have taken up a fist full of hair upon his face. His every want is satisfied: if he asks for arms, they are furnished him: if he wants a horse, they provide him with one that is large and handsome, strong and spirited. He stayed there until, upon a Tuesday, Count Alier came to the town with his men and knights, who started fires and took plunder. Those in the town at once rose up and equipped themselves with arms. Some armed and some unarmed, they issued forth to meet the plunderers, who did not deign to retreat before them, but awaited them in a narrow pass. My lord Yvain struck at the crowd; he had had so long a rest that his strength was quite restored, and he struck a knight upon his shield with such force that he sent down in a heap, I think, the knight together with his horse. The knight never rose again, for his backbone was broken and his heart burst within his breast. My lord Yvain drew back a little to recover. Then protecting himself completely with his shield, he spurred forward to clear the pass. One could not have counted up to four before one would have seen him cast down speedily four knights. Whereupon, those who were with him waxed more brave, for many a man of poor and timid heart, at the sight of some brave man who attacks a dangerous task before his eves, will be overwhelmed by confusion and shame, which will drive out the poor heart in his body and give him another like to a hero's for courage. So these men grew brave and each stood his ground in the fight and attack. And the lady was up in the tower, whence she saw the fighting and the rush to win and gain possession of the pass, and she saw lying upon the ground many who were wounded and many killed, both of her own party and of the enemy, but more of the enemy than of her own. For my courteous, bold, and excellent lord Yvain made them yield just as a falcon does the teal. And the men and women who had remained within the town declared as they watched the strife: "Ah, what a valiant knight! How he makes his enemies yield, and how fierce is his attack! He was about him as a lion among the fallow deer, when he is impelled by need and hunger. Then, too, all our other knights are more brave and daring because of him, for, were it not for him alone, not a lance would have been splintered nor a sword drawn to strike. When such an excellent man is found he ought to be loved and dearly prized. See now how he proves himself, see how he maintains his place, see how he stains with blood his lance and bare sword, see how he presses the enemy and follows them up, how he comes boldly to attack them, then gives away and turns about; but he spends little time in giving away, and soon returns to the attack. See him in the fray again, how lightly he esteems his shield, which he allows to be cut in pieces mercilessly. Just see how keen he is to avenge the blows which are dealt at him. For, if some one should use all the forest of Argone (19) to make lances for him, I guess he would have none left by night. For he breaks all the lances that they place in his socket, and calls for more. And see how he wields the sword when he draws it! Roland never wrought such havoc with Durendal against the Turks at Ronceval or in Spain! (20) If he had in his company some good companions like himself, the traitor, whose attack we are suffering, would retreat today discomfited, or would stand his ground only to find defeat." Then they say that the woman would be blessed who should be loved by one who is so powerful in arms, and who above all others may be recognised as a taper among candles, as a moon among the stars, and as the sun above the moon. He so won the hearts of all that the prowess which they see in him made them wish that he had taken their lady to wife, and that he were master of the land.
(Vv. 3255-3340.) Thus men and women alike praised him, and in doing so they but told the truth. For his attack on his adversaries was such that they vie with one another in flight. But he presses hard upon their heels, and all his companions follow him, for by his side they feel as safe as if they were enclosed in a high and thick stone wall. The pursuit continues until those who flee become exhausted, and the pursuers slash at them and disembowel their steeds. The living roll over upon the dead as they wound and kill each other. They work dreadful destruction upon each other; and meanwhile the Count flees with my lord Yvain after him, until he comes up with him at the foot of a steep ascent, near the entrance of a strong place which belonged to the Count. There the Count was stopped, with no one near to lend him aid; and without any excessive parley my lord Yvain received his surrender. For as soon as he held him in his hands, and they were left just man to man, there was no further possibility of escape, or of yielding, or of self-defence; so the Count pledged his word to go to surrender to the lady of Noroison as her prisoner, and to make such peace as she might dictate. And when he had accepted his word he made him disarm his head and remove the shield from about his neck, and the Count surrendered to him his sword. Thus he won the honour of leading off the Count as his prisoner, and of giving him over to his enemies, who make no secret of their joy. But the news was carried to the town before they themselves arrived. While all come forth to meet them, the lady herself leads the way. My lord Yvain holds his prisoner by the hand, and presents him to her. The Count gladly acceded to her wishes and demands, and secured her by his word, oath, and pledges. Giving her pledges, he swears to her that he will always live on peaceful terms with her, and will make good to her all the loss which she can prove, and will build up again the houses which he had destroyed. When these things were agreed upon in accordance with the lady's wish, my lord Yvain asked leave to depart. But she would not have granted him this permission had he been willing to take her as his mistress. or to marry her. But he would not allow himself to be followed or escorted a single step, but rather departed hastily: in this case entreaty was of no avail. So he started out to retrace his path, leaving the lady much chagrined, whose joy he had caused a while before. When he will not tarry longer she is the more distressed and ill at ease in proportion to the happiness he had brought to her, for she would have wished to honour him, and would have made him, with his consent, lord of all her possessions, or else she would have paid him for his services whatever sum he might have named. But he would not heed any word of man or woman. Despite their grief he left the knights and the lady who vainly tried to detain him longer.
(Vv. 3341-3484.) Pensively my lord Yvain proceeded through a deep wood, until he heard among the trees a very loud and dismal cry, and he turned in the direction whence it seemed to come. And when he had arrived upon the spot he saw in a cleared space a lion, and a serpent which held him by the tail, burning his hind- quarters with flames of fire. My lord Yvain did not gape at this
strange spectacle, but took counsel with himself as to which of the two he should aid. Then he says that he will succour the lion, for a treacherous and venomous creature deserves to be harmed. Now the serpent is poisonous, and fire bursts forth from its mouth--so full of wickedness is the creature. So my lord Yvain decides that he will kill the serpent first. Drawing his sword he steps forward, holding the shield before his face in order not to be harmed by the flame emerging from the creature's throat, which was larger than a pot. If the lion attacks him next, he too shall have all the fight he wishes; but whatever may happen afterwards he makes up his mind to help him now. For pity urges him and makes request that he should bear succour and aid to the gentle and noble beast. With his sword, which cuts so clean, he attacks the wicked serpent, first cleaving him through to the earth and cutting him in two, then continuing his blows until he reduces him to tiny bits. But he had to cut off a piece of the lion's tail to get at the serpent's head, which held the lion by the tail. He cut off only so much as was necessary and unavoidable. When he had set the lion free, he supposed that he would have to fight with him, and that the lion would come at him; but the lion was not minded so. Just hear now what the lion did! He acted nobly and as one well-bred; for he began to make it evident that he yielded himself to him, by standing upon his two hind-feet and bowing his face to the earth, with his fore-feet joined and stretched out toward him. Then he fell on his knees again, and all his face was wet with the tears of humility. My lord Yvain knows for a truth that the lion is thanking him and doing him homage because of the serpent which he had killed, thereby delivering him from death. He was greatly pleased by this episode. He cleaned his sword of the serpent's poison and filth; then he replaced it in its scabbard, and resumed his way. And the lion walks close by his side, unwilling henceforth to part from him: he will always in future accompany him, eager to serve and protect him. (21) He goes ahead until he scents in the wind upon his way some wild beasts feeding; then hunger and his nature prompt him to seek his prey and to secure his sustenance. It is his nature so to do. He started ahead a little on the trail, thus showing his master that he had come upon and detected the odour and scent of some wild game. Then he looks at him and halts, wishing to serve his every wish, and unwilling to proceed against his will. Yvain understands by his attitude that he is showing that he awaits his pleasure. He perceives this and understands that if he holds back he will hold back too, and that if he follows him he will seize the game which he has scented. Then he incites and cries to him, as he would do to hunting-dogs. At once the lion directed his nose to the scent which he had detected, and by which he was not deceived, for he had not gone a bow-shot when he saw in a valley a deer grazing all alone. This deer he will seize, if he has his way. And so he did, at the first spring, and then drank its blood still warm. When he had killed it he laid it upon his back and carried it back to his master, who thereupon conceived a greater affection for him, and chose him as a companion for all his life, because of the great devotion he found in him. It was near nightfall now, and it seemed good to him to spend the night there, and strip from the deer as much as he cared to eat. Beginning to carve it he splits the skin along the rib, and taking a steak from the loin he strikes from a flint a spark, which he catches in some dry brush- wood; then he quickly puts his steak upon a roasting spit to cook before the fire, and roasts it until it is quite cooked through. But there was no pleasure in the meal, for there was no bread, or wine, or salt, or cloth, or knife, or anything else. While he was eating, the lion lay at his feet; nor a movement did he make, but watched him steadily until he had eaten all that he could eat of the steak. What remained of the deer the lion devoured, even to the bones. And while all night his master laid his head upon his shield to gain such rest as that afforded, the lion showed such intelligence that he kept awake, and was careful to guard the horse as it fed upon the grass, which yielded some slight nourishment.
(Vv. 3485-3562.) In the morning they go off together, and the same sort of existence, it seems, as they had led that night, they two continued to lead all the ensuing week, until chance brought them to the spring beneath the pine-tree. There my lord Yvain almost lost his wits a second time, as he approached the spring, with its stone and the chapel that stood close by. So great was his distress that a thousand times he sighed "alas!" and grieving fell in a swoon; and the point of his sharp sword, falling from its scabbard, pierced the meshes of his hauberk right in the neck beside the cheek. There is not a mesh that does not spread, and the sword cuts the flesh of his neck beneath the shining mail, so that it causes the blood to start. Then the lion thinks that he sees his master and companion dead. You never heard greater grief narrated or told about anything than he now began to show. He casts himself about, and scratches and cries, and has the wish to kill himself with the sword with which he thinks his master has killed himself. Taking the sword from him with his teeth he lays it on a fallen tree, and steadies it on a trunk behind, so that it will not slip or give way, when he hurls his breast against it, His intention was nearly accomplished when his master recovered from his swoon, and the lion restrained himself as he was blindly rushing upon death, like a wild boar heedless of where he wounds himself. Thus my lord Yvain lies in a swoon beside the stone, but, on recovering, he violently reproached himself for the year during which he had overstayed his leave, and for which he had incurred his lady's hate, and he said: "Why does this wretch not kill himself who has thus deprived himself of joy? Alas! why do I not take my life? How can I stay here and look upon what belongs to my lady? Why does the soul still tarry in my body? What is the soul doing in so miserable a frame? If it had already escaped away it would not be in such torment. It is fitting to hate and blame and despise myself, even as in fact I do. Whoever loses his bliss and contentment through fault or error of his own ought to hate himself mortally. He ought to hate and kill himself. And now, when no one is looking on, why do I thus spare myself? Why do I not take my life? Have I not seen this lion a prey to such grief on my behalf that he was on the point just now of thrusting my sword through his breast? And ought I to fear death who have changed happiness into grief? Joy is now a stranger to me. Joy? What joy is that? I shall say no more of that, for no one could speak of such a thing; and I have asked a foolish question. That was the greatest joy of all which was assured as my possession, but it endured for but a little while. Whoever loses such joy through his own misdeed is undeserving of happiness."
(Vv. 3563-3898.) While he thus bemoaned his fate, a lorn damsel in sorry plight, who was in the chapel, saw him and heard his words through a crack in the wall. As soon as he was recovered from his swoon, she called to him: "God," said she, "who is that I hear? Who is it that thus complains?" And he replied: "And who are you?" "I am a wretched one," she said, "the most miserable thing alive." And he replied: "Be silent, foolish one! Thy grief is joy and thy sorrow is bliss compared with that in which I am cast down. In proportion as a man becomes more accustomed to happiness and joy, so is he more distracted and stunned than any other man by sorrow when it comes. A man of little strength can carry, through custom and habit, a weight which another man of greater strength could not carry for anything." "Upon my word," she said, "I know the truth of that remark; but that is no reason to believe that your misfortune is worse than mine. Indeed, I do not believe it at all, for it seems to me that you can go anywhere you choose to go, whereas I am imprisoned here, and such a fate is my portion that to-morrow I shall be seized and delivered to mortal judgment." "Ah, God!" said he, "and for what crime?" "Sir knight, may God never have mercy upon my soul, if I have merited such a fate! Nevertheless, I shall tell you truly, without deception, why I am here in prison: I am charged with treason, and I cannot find any one to defend me from being burned or hanged to-morrow." "In the first place," he replied, "I may say that my grief and woe are greater than yours, for you may yet be delivered by some one from the peril in which you are. Is that not true:" "Yes, but I know not yet by whom. There are only two men in the world who would dare on my behalf to face three men in battle." "What? In God's name, are there three of them?" "Yes, sire, upon my word. There are three who accuse me of treachery." "And who are they who are so devoted to you that either one of them would be bold enough to fight against three in your defence?" "I will answer your question truthfully: one of them is my lord Gawain, and the other is my lord Yvain, because of whom I shall to-morrow be handed over unjustly to the martyrdom of death." "Because of whom?" he asked, "what did you say?" "Sire, so help me God, because of the son of King Urien." "Now I understand your words, but you shall not die, without he dies too. I myself am that Yvain, because of whom you are in such distress. And you, I take it, are she who once guarded me safely in the hall, and saved my life and my body between the two portcullises, when I was troubled and distressed, and alarmed at being trapped. I should have been killed or seized, had it not been for your kind aid. Now tell me, my gentle friend, who are those who now accuse you of treachery, and have confined you in this lonely place?" "Sire, I shall not conceal it from you, since you desire me to tell you all. It is a fact that I was not slow in honestly aiding you. Upon my advice my lady received you, after heeding my opinion and my counsel. And by the Holy Paternoster, more for her welfare than for your own I thought I was doing it, and I think so still. So much now I confess to you: it was her honour and your desire that I sought to serve, so help me God! But when it became evident that you had overstayed the year when you should return to my mistress, then she became enraged at me, and thought that she had been deceived by putting trust in my advice. And when this was discovered by the seneschal--a rascally, underhanded, disloyal wretch, who was jealous of me because in many matters my lady trusted me more than she trusted him, he saw that he could now stir up great enmity between me and her. In full court and in the presence of all he accused me of having betrayed her in your favour. And I had no counsel or aid except my own; but I knew that I had never done or conceived any treacherous act toward my lady, so I cried out, as one beside herself, and without the advice of any one, that I would present in my own defence one knight who should fight against three. The fellow was not courteous enough to scorn to accept such odds, nor was I at liberty to retreat or withdraw for anything that might happen. So he took me at my word, and I was compelled to furnish bail that I would present within forty days a knight to do battle against three knights. Since then I have visited many courts; I was at King Arthur's court, but found no help from any there, nor did I find any one who could tell me any good news of you, for they knew nothing of your affairs." "Pray tell me. Where then was my good and gentle lord Gawain? No damsel in distress ever needed his aid without its being extended to her." "If I had found him at court, I could not have asked him for anything which would have been refused me; but a certain knight has carried off the Queen, so they told me; surely the King was mad to send her off in his company. (22) I believe it was Kay who escorted her to meet the knight who has taken her away; and my lord Gawain in great distress has gone in search for her. He will never have any rest until he finds her. Now I have told you the whole truth of my adventure. To-morrow I shall be put to a shameful death, and shall be burnt inevitably, a victim of your criminal neglect." And he replies: "May God forbid that you should be harmed because of me! So long as I live you shall not die! You may expect me tomorrow, prepared to the extent of my power to present my body in your cause, as it is proper that I should do. But have no concern to tell the people who I am! However the battle may turn out, take care that I be not recognised!" "Surely, sire, no pressure could make me reveal your name. I would sooner suffer death, since you will have it so. Yet, after all, I beg you not to return for my sake. I would not have you undertake a battle which will be so desperate. I thank you for your promised word that you would gladly undertake it, but consider yourself now released, for it is better that I should die alone than that I should see them rejoice over your death as well as mine; they would not spare my life after they had put you to death. So it is better for you to remain alive than that we both should meet death." "That is very ungrateful remark, my dear," says my lord Yvain; "I suppose that either you do not wish to be delivered from death, or else that you scorn the comfort I bring you with my aid. I will not discuss the matter more, for you have surely done so much for me that I cannot fail you in any need. I know that you are in great distress; but, if it be God's will, in whom I trust, they shall all three be discomfited. So no more upon that score: I am going off now to find some shelter in this wood, for there is no dwelling near at hand." "Sire," she says, "may God give you both good shelter and good night, and protect you as I desire from everything that might do you harm!" Then my lord Yvain departs, and the lion as usual after him. They journeyed until they came to a baron's fortified place, which was completely surrounded by a massive, strong, and high wall. The castle, being extraordinarily well protected, feared no assault of catapult or storming-machine; but outside the walls the ground was so completely cleared that not a single hut or dwelling remained standing. You will learn the cause of this a little later, when the time comes. My lord Yvain made his way directly toward the fortified place, and seven varlets came out who lowered the bridge and advanced to meet him. But they were terrified at sight of the lion, which they saw with him, and asked him kindly to leave the lion at the gate lest he should wound or kill them. And he replies: "Say no more of that! For I shall not enter without him. Either we shall both find shelter here or else I shall stay outside; he is as dear to me as I am myself. Yet you need have no fear of him! For I shall keep him so well in hand that you may be quite confident." They made answer: "Very well!" Then they entered the town, and passed on until they met knights and ladies and charming damsels coming down the street, who salute him and wait to remove his armour as they say: "Welcome to our midst, fair sire! And may God grant that you tarry here until you may leave with great honour and satisfaction!" High and low alike extend to him a glad welcome, and do all they can for him, as they joyfully escort him into the town. But after they had expressed their gladness they are overwhelmed by grief, which makes them quickly forget their joy, as they begin to lament and weep and beat themselves. Thus, for a long space of time, they cease not to rejoice or make lament: it is to honour their guest that they rejoice, but their heart is not in what they do, for they are greatly worried over an event which they expect to take place on the following day, and they feel very sure and certain that it will come to pass before midday. My lord Yvain was so surprised that they so often changed their mood, and mingled grief with their happiness, that he addressed the lord of the place on the subject. "For God's sake," he said, "fair gentle sir, will you kindly inform me why you have thus honoured me, and shown at once such joy and such heaviness?" "Yes, if you desire to know, but it would be better for you to desire ignorance and silence. I will never tell you willingly anything to cause you grief. Allow us to continue to lament, and do you pay no attention to what we do!" "It would be quite impossible for me to see you sad and nor take it upon my heart, so I desire to know the truth, whatever chagrin may result to me." "Well, then," he said, "I will tell you all. I have suffered much from a giant, who has insisted that I should give him my daughter, who surpasses in beauty all the maidens in the world. This evil giant, whom may God confound, is named Harpin of the Mountain. Not a day passes without his taking all of my possessions upon which he can lay his hands. No one has a better right than I to complain, and to be sorrowful, and to make lament. I might well lose my senses from very grief, for I had six sons who were knights, fairer than any I knew in the world, and the giant has taken all six of them. Before my eyes he killed two of them, and to-morrow he will kill the other four, unless I find some one who will dare to fight him for the deliverance of my sons, or unless I consent to surrender my daughter to him; and he says that when he has her in his possession he will give her over to be the sport of the vilest and lewdest fellows in his house, for he would scorn to take her now for himself. That is the disaster which awaits me to-morrow, unless the Lord God grant me His aid. So it is no wonder, fair sir, if we are all in tears. But for your sake we strive for the moment to assume as cheerful a countenance as we can. For he is a fool who attracts a gentleman to his presence and then does not honour him; and you seem to be a very perfect gentleman. Now I have told you the entire story of our great distress. Neither in town nor in fortress has the giant left us anything, except what we have here. If you had noticed, you must have seen this evening that he has not left us so much as an egg, except these walls which are new; for he has razed the entire town. When he had plundered all he wished, he set fire to what remained. In this way he has done me many an evil turn."
(Vv. 3899-3956.) My lord Yvain listened to all that his host told him, and when he had heard it all he was pleased to answer him: "Sire, I am sorry and distressed about this trouble of yours; but I marvel greatly that you have not asked assistance at good King Arthur's court. There is no man so mighty that he could not find at his court some who would be glad to try their strength with his." Then the wealthy man reveals and explains to him that he would have had efficient help if he had known where to find my lord Gawain. "He would not have failed me upon this occasion, for my wife is his own sister; but a knight from a strange land, who went to court to seek the King's wife, has led her away. However, he could not have gotten possession of her by any means of his own invention, had it not been for Kay, who so befooled the King that he gave the Queen into his charge and placed her under his protection. He was a fool, and she imprudent to entrust herself to his escort. And I am the one who suffers and loses in all this; for it is certain that my excellent lord Gawain would have made haste to come here, had he known the facts, for the sake of his nephews and his niece. But he knows nothing of it, wherefore I am so distressed that my heart is almost breaking, for he is gone in pursuit of him, to whom may God bring shame and woe for having led the Queen away." While listening to this recital my lord Yvain does not cease to sigh. Inspired by the pity which he feels, he makes this reply: "Fair gentle sire, I would gladly undertake this perilous adventure, if the giant and your sons should arrive to-morrow in time to cause me no delay, for tomorrow at noon I shall be somewhere else, in accordance with a promise I have made." "Once for all, fair sire," the good man said, "I thank you a hundred thousand times for your willingness." And all the people of the house likewise expressed their gratitude.