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Love and adventure

GENERYDES

Two manuscripts of Generydes survive, along with fragments of a printed edition, but there is no trace of the French original that these Middle English manuscripts acknowledge as their source. This present retelling in Modern English is taken from the stanzaic version found in Cambridge, Trinity College Library, MS O.5.2 and published by the Early English Text Society. It was probably composed in the late-fourteenth or early-fifteenth century. The story is curious in that the inclusion of many themes and motifs which mirror those in other works of medieval romance, as well as Breton lais and Celtic mythology, seem superfluous and unnecessary to the unfolding plot, as though parachuted in for no other reason than to uphold the tradition of the genre; episodes of disguise, the exchange of identity, a supernatural deer, a tear-stained cloth that only the herione can wash clean. Disregarding these, the work as a whole has almost the feel of an early novel.

PART 1: Destined for greatness

1 Enchanted hart

In olde Romans and storys as I rede · of Inde Sometyme ther was a nobyll kyng · ientill curteys, full trew in worde and dede · wyse and manly preuyd i euery thyng · to his people full good and eke lovyng … I’ve read in old tales and romances that there was once a king of India who was gentle, courteous, honest and fair, wealthy and wise, strong and courageous, loved his people and who was a good sovereign to them. His name was king Auferius. This noble and worthy prince had married a fair and well-born lady, and whatever lay in his power to do for her, he did. He gave everything to win her love; but he wasted his time, to be honest, and the riches he poured over her were all that he had to lose, for her love was worthless and she proved to be unfaithful.

The queen’s father was a powerful man, a king in Africa. His daughter had become a queen in India, endowed with the greatest riches and obeyed by all her subjects, and the story tells us that her name was Serenydes. Her husband, king Auferius, had a steward, a man of great renown who governed all the countryside round about and the towns as well, at least, those that belonged to the crown. His name was Sir Amelock, and everybody in the kingdom was eager to do what he wanted them to. It was not long before Serenydes felt such an attraction towards Sir Amelock that she thought about him constantly and did everything she could to please him. Oh, that she should set her sights so low!

One day, the king went hunting in the forest; for when he grew tired of the luxury of the court, he would take four or five hand-picked men with him and go to where the deer were running, leaving all his other knights and courtiers behind. He unleashed the hounds and soon a hart was spotted amongst the trees. The hart jumped to its feet and sped off, the hounds gave chase and the king followed, but soon, he'd lost contact with all his knights; the sound of the dogs receded until all was silence, and it was not long before the king found himself alone. He had lost sight of the stag as well, his men were a long way behind him now and he had no idea where they were. He rode along in great concern, for the light was beginning to fail and he prayed to God for some remedy to this worrying situation. And as God willed, the king quickly came upon a path that led him straight towards a fine building. God is ready to provide for all good people - the king thought - and with this consolation in mind he rode a little more easily. When he approached the entrance to this building, a maiden appeared and opened the gates for him.

The maiden welcomed king Auferius. She said that she lived in that castle with only two others; an elderly gentleman and her maidservant. They all did their best to make the king welcome. The maiden took him to her chamber, which was delightfully furnished. There was a bed there, enclosed all around with curtains and ingeniously constructed from gold and silk, and upon it was spread a spotlessly clean sheet. ‘Now that you have arrived,’ said the maiden, ‘it is my sole desire to attend to you. This house is yours to command.’ And just as she said this, a deer appeared at the door, foaming at the mouth as though after great exertion. The king was dismayed, for he sensed that this was the same hart that he’d been chasing all afternoon and suddenly suspected trickery.

‘Do not be afraid,’ said the maiden, seeing the king’s concern. ‘This is for your benefit. There is no danger. The old man here is one of the seven sages of Rome, the wisest of them, but he and his six fellows were cast into the sea to be tossed amongst the waves, and as the grace of God ordained, this good man was carried to the coast of Syria, where my father rules. He was exhausted and near to death, as you might imagine. When he was found on the sand, my father sent for him and made him his chief councillor. But he prophesied that the land of Syria would be laid waste by a giant because of the love for me that this giant bears, so on his advice I was sent away to this place in which you find me. And please take what I am about to say in good part, for it is for your own well-being and good fortune. For to come directly to the point, there shall be conceived between us, this night, a child who will grow to achieve wondrous things. He will endure many adventures and escape from them all. This old man can foresee this in every detail. It is for this reason that the deer has led you here, the one you have been chasing all day. He has guided you here and what I tell you is the truth. But you need to be aware of something else, concerning your queen, for she is doing things behind your back and deceiving you. She is false in everything. She and your steward are plotting to destroy you.’

The king was distressed to learn of his wife’s unfaithfulness; but as he gazed upon the maiden his thoughts improved more and more as he reflected upon the reason she had given for his being there. He invited the maiden to be more explicit about when this child of theirs might be conceived, but she said that she could not tell him.

‘This old man who lives here with me will know as well as anybody,’ she said.

The king was insistent that the old man should tell him everything, but the old man said: ‘As for this night of love, go to your bed, this is my advice. Tomorrow you will know everything.’

2 Joy and tears

Soon their supper was ready and the maiden served the king as befitted his status; he lacked for nothing. The food was delightful and her company was a pleasure. After supper she took him to his bed, by the light of a burning torch, and when they arrived in his room they were so pleased with each other’s company that she lay beside him in his arms; and as to the pleasure that they had that night, it was good, since you wish to know, but I shall not describe it to you in any detail – imagine it if you will. But whatever happened between them, the story tells us that a child was conceived. The king, after his day’s hunting and his travel and his weariness, fell asleep, but the maiden lay awake, sighing; and as she sighed, she began to weep and the tears fell onto his arms and the king felt it through his shirt as he slept and woke suddenly. He spoke her name affectionately and said:

‘I fear that you are having regrets about my being here.’

‘Regrets?’ she said. ‘No, no I assure you. Not of your being here, but of your departure. I shall lose you, but I have no choice. I will have nobody to aid me or give me comfort or reassurance, but this is what fate has decreed for me.’

‘My fair damsel,’ replied Auferius, ‘I do not expect that we shall part so quickly, and if we do, I’ll be heartbroken. I promise, tomorrow, before noon, we’ll speak with this old man you look after and he’ll tell us the truth of the matter.’

When day had dawned and it was time to get up, the old man went straight to the king and said: ‘What I shall say, you must believe without question. This night you have conceived a son between you. He will grow to be such a fine warrior that his prowess will be spoken of in every country. But you can stay here no longer, and for more than one reason, to be honest, but your shirt, I must tell you, upon which her tears fell last night, only she alone can wash away the stains left by these tears. Take it from me that she is the only one who can do so. Unless she washes them out, they cannot be removed. And to you, Madam, I say that you must depart at once, for your father is gravely ill and unless you ride swiftly to him without delay, you may never speak with him again.’

When the old man had finished, Auferius knew that it was no use disputing what he had said. The king knew that there was no other way; they must part, however much this grieved him. They were both so upset that neither of them could speak a word. King Auferius took his leave, and it made for a sorrowful sight. He mounted his horse and rode away with a heavy heart, hoping to meet with his knights if he could find them. At last, he came across them riding along a beautiful valley and he spurred his horse in their direction. They soon caught sight of him and when they all met up with one another along the path the knights could see how upset their king was, although none of them had the courage to ask him why. The king kept to himself what had happened, and even when he arrived home he said nothing about it.

But let us turn to the lady.

3 Medan’s nephew is born

The lady travelled to Syria with only two people to accompany her: her maid and the wise old gentleman. At last they arrived at a village where they could spend the night. The king’s palace was another day’s journey away.

The next day she travelled in sorrow to the court and came before her father, whom she found soaked in a fever and very weak. But he recognised his daughter and gave her his blessing, bequeathed upon her his lands and his wealth, and then he died. Then there was great weeping and many an exclamation of sadness and distress! As was the custom, everybody dressed in black. Soon all the arrangements for the funeral were made and it was to be a truly royal occasion. This fair young lady was accepted as queen, both by the nobility and by the commons. She was crowned with a sceptre in her hand and afterwards, all the lords paid homage to her.

The new queen was well loved by everybody. Her name was Serena. Her people humbly suggested that she might like to get married, this was their advice, but she flatly refused. But the time came when her pregnancy began to show, although she spoke nothing of it. She called her maid in private. The girl’s name was Medan and the queen trusted her and could tell her anything without fear of it going any further. So she confided in her.

‘Madam, with God’s grace, your secret shall be safe with me,’ the girl replied.

Serena carried her burden for the full term and then, when through God’s providence the time came for her to endure the pain of childbirth, she had no one to turn to but Medan. She gave birth to her baby without any noise and with no crying; but probably, I would imagine, with greater pain because of this. Everybody thought that her condition was due to something else, to some illness or infirmity, but this lady, with dignity and calm, gave birth to a healthy baby boy.

Medan took the baby and laid it in her lap, then went straight to a laundress. ‘This is my sister’s baby boy,’ she said. ‘Please look after the child well for me.’

‘Leave him with me,’ the laundress replied. ‘I shall take him to a good wet nurse and she will suckle him well, I promise.’

4 Learning the truth

The laundress took the child to a wet nurse as quickly as she could, then they went to a church to christen him and named the boy Generydes. His mother, when she had recovered from the ordeal of childbirth, asked Medan how she had done and the girl replied that she had done very well and told the queen all about it. When the child was able to speak and to walk, and understood what was said to him, the queen called Medan to her:

‘Medan, I want especially that my young son Generydes should be in court with me and that he should be honoured there.’

So Generydes arrived at court, a handsome young page. Nobody knew who he really was. They believed only that Medan was his aunt. He remained at court until he was a fine-looking youth, gentle and courteous, and everybody sang his praises.

One day, Generydes asked Medan about his father and mother. She answered: ‘Ask me again tomorrow, and I’ll tell you everything.’

Meden told the queen what Generydes had asked and she summoned the young man to see her. ‘Generydes,’ she said, ‘your father is the king of India and I am your mother. But you must not speak a word of this to anybody else, for nobody else at court knows, except for Medan.’

When Generydes understood the truth, he asked his mother if he might go to see the court where his father ruled; for it seemed to him to be a splendid thing to do service to this king, rather than in another foreign court. He would be so discrete that nobody would learn the truth, he vowed, except for the king. The queen answered him: ‘What you say is reasonable and you may do so with my blessing.’

Immediately, she called Natanell, a courteous gentleman, and told him everything about herself and Generydes, and how the young man wished to serve his father at the royal court of India. ‘Therefore,’ she said, ‘I ask you, serve my son faithfully and teach him all you know. All his expenses, his clothes and horses and any servants you may require, you will not lack the money for. But make certain that the king’s steward knows nothing of this. He is deceitful and disloyal and if he finds out the truth he will seek to destroy Generydes. So when you arrive you will say that he is the son of a duke, that he was born in Greece and has come to the court of India to honour the king and to seek preferment. And when a suitable opportunity presents itself, give the king my regards and show him this ring. He gave it to me before we parted and when he sees it, he will know that you are telling him the truth.’

‘I shall give all my attention to serving your son in the way that you wish me to,’ replied Natanell. ‘Whatever happens, with God’s grace, I shall stay beside him, have no fear.’

5 Generydes goes to his father

Generydes and Natanell set off in great splendour and rode without pause until they came at last into the land of India. Then Generydes sensibly inquired, from the many people he came across, where he could find the king. At Parentine, they all said, the greatest city in the kingdom.

As soon as he could, Natanell secured the best lodgings he could find for his master and himself and there they spent the night. The next morning, dressed in his finest attire, Generydes went to see the king, with Natanell at his side.

The king was seated in the hall with knights and squires in attendance. Natanell called to a porter and the man approached at once and gave them a courteous welcome. They were shown into the hall where they bowed before the king. Then Natanell spoke openly and assuredly to the king: ‘My noble sovereign, this gentleman whom you see beside me has come a long way to see you. He is the son of a Greek duke and desires to serve you here in your court, to gain experience of the world and to achieve honour. He comes with the blessing of his father, and his father hopes that you will accept him.’

When Natanell had complemented the king and said all that he had to say, the king replied that the young man was welcome and looked with pleasure at his face and at his bearing, and the memory came into his mind of the night he had spent with the lady. This young man reminded him of her and as the king gazed at Generydes, he wondered whether he could be his son. When the meal was finished the king rose and turning to Natanell said: ‘This young squire is very welcome and I shall provide for his comfort in every way possible, you may be certain of this.’ Natanell thanked the king very much.

Generydes gave his coat as a gift to the butler, and Natanell gave his to the porter, so as to make a good impression. Generydes lived in the court and was soon loved by everyone, he was such a fine example of a young nobleman. Handsome and strong, courteous and good-humoured, he behaved like a perfect gentleman.

6 Insults and flight to Persia

One day, the king went alone into a gallery of his palace and Natanell saw his opportunity to speak with him in private. He told him all he had been instructed to say. ‘Sir,’ he said. ‘If I may be so bold, I have a message to deliver to you from queen Serena. She sends you her regards and also your son, Generydes; and so that you may have no doubts that what I say is the truth, she sends also this ring that you gave to her when you parted from one another.’

The king took the ring and knew that it was his own. ‘Thank you, my friend,’ he said. ‘Your message, I know, is true, and what you have brought me makes my heart glad indeed. I thought he might be my son when I first saw him. Please, bring him to me now.’

Natanell went away and fetched Generydes. When he arrived, the king embraced him and admired his physique. One would be hard pressed to say which of them enjoyed the moment more. Then the king went to eat and confided to Natanell that, above everything else, he should look after Generydes to the best of his ability. Generydes served the queen at every meal, and did so with every grace.

Soon, the queen became so taken with Generydes that she fell in love with him and it was not long before she imagined that, unless he could return her love, she would die. Soon after this, the king went hunting, but Generydes did not accompany him. The queen was aware of this and quickly sent for him. Then, opening her heart to him: ‘Generydes,’ she said, ‘if I discovered that you loved me and promised to be faithful, I would love you just as much in return. I have felt like this about you for a long while now, but I could not tell you, and you must be discrete; but give me your answer. I promise that if you say yes, I shall quickly advance you at court and do everything I can think of that might be to your advantage.’

Generydes stood deep in thought and then replied: ‘Madam. I am bound to the king and I am his servant, here as everywhere, and so indebted to him that even if I was offered his kingdom to rule myself, I would not contemplate such disloyalty.’

With that, Generydes took his leave. When the queen saw how things had turned out, she swore at him, shouted that he’d be sorry and tore her hair – a dreadful sight to see! She screamed some spiteful things and the steward came running up to see what all the commotion was about. ‘Madam!’ he exclaimed. ‘What’s the meaning of all this shouting?’

‘There has been violence against me!’ screamed the queen.

‘Who? Tell me and I’ll deal with him at once. Whoever he is, he’ll regret this day, for putting you into such a state!’

‘It was Generydes,’ she cried, without hesitation. ‘He wanted to make love to me. He wouldn’t take no for an answer. See what he’s done!’

When the steward understood what had allegedly taken place: ‘Madam, he said, ‘calm yourself; this wrong can quickly be righted to your satisfaction.’ The steward drew his sword and went to find Generydes, intending to kill him. But Generydes had astutely judged the mood of the queen and made quickly for his lodgings in the town. The steward went to Generydes’s chamber and then sought high and low for him, but Generydes was safe with Natanell, to whom he explained, as to a friend, all that had just taken place.

‘We must stay here,’ advised Natanell, ‘until the king returns from hunting. Then you should go to serve the king as usual; for whatever happens, you will benefit from being in attendance upon him.’

The king returned from his hunting expedition with all his knights. Generydes, as was his custom, went to serve in the hall. The steward was angry when he saw the young man; he held a staff in his hand and made his way through the crowd towards him, threatening him with it. ‘What are you doing here?’ he shouted. ‘No one wants you here!’

Generydes said nothing. ‘Why don’t you speak?’ shouted the steward once more. ‘You’re an insolent fool to say nothing!’ and he seized Generydes by the hair and punched him in the face. Blood ran from the boy’s nose. When the king saw what was happening, he was very angry to see his son treated in this way, understandably so, and called to the steward by name:

‘You traitor!’ he shouted. ‘Shame on you! How has this gentle young squire so offended you that you should strike him like this in my presence? This isn’t the first time you’ve wronged me either,’ and the king drew a knife and stabbed the steward in the arm with it. ‘I warn you now,’ he cried. ‘Get out of my sight.’

The queen was very upset, knowing that this was all of her doing. The steward stormed out of the court and went straight to his castle, where he summoned a garrison, filled the place full of arms and supplies and brooded tirelessly over how he might take revenge upon the king. But let us leave the steward and return to Generydes.

The young man has been injured and rebuked and wants nothing more than to be away from the place. He made preparations to leave and went to declare his intentions to the king. He knelt before his father and said: ‘Sir, if it pleases your goodness to listen to me for a moment, I have served you faithfully and without causing you any trouble, but now the steward has struck me so viciously and so shamed me in front of you, for no reason at all, that my position here is now untenable. This dishonour cannot be undone and so I ask for your permission to leave. But although I will be gone, I shall remain your faithful servant wherever I am and will promote your interests wherever I can, for I owe you this much.’

When the king knew that Generydes wanted to leave – and there was no way that he could stop him – he was very unhappy and so were all the knights and squires, although they knew there was nothing that they could do. Generydes said farewell to the king with due deference, and then went around the hall, saying goodbye to all the friends he had made. Then he left.

Generydes and Natanell went directly to their lodgings and gathered up all their belongings. When this was done, Generydes said: ‘Let’s decide now which land we should set off for.’

‘Syria would be a good option,’ replied Natanell. ‘What do you think? Queen Serena will be very pleased to see you back.’

‘True enough,’ said Generydes. ‘But do you know what? I would rather be in a new place entirely, for I’m old enough now to bear arms and to be a knight and the more respect I can earn the better, as I see it.’

‘This is all true,’ replied Natanell. ‘And I can tell you, there is a land called Persia, a very wealthy country ruled over by a famous sultan who is known for his power and invincibility.’

‘Then let’s go there!’ exclaimed Generydes. ‘What do you say?’

‘I am in full agreement,’ said Natanell. ‘It is an ideal place and the sultan will be very pleased to see you, I’m sure.’

So their horses and men were all made ready and they set off and rode for so long that one evening they came within sight of a city, and when darkness had already fallen, they entered it.

7 Clarionas and Generydes fall in love

Generydes and Natanell went to seek lodgings, the best that they could find, in the city of Mountoner, the most magnificent city in the whole country and where the sultan had his residence, in a splendid palace. The next morning, dressed in their finest clothes, Generydes and Natanell made their way to this palace. When they came to where the sultan was to be found, they saw many knights and squires around him. He was walking in his gardens and they were waiting upon him. Generydes and Natanell approached and asked if they could see the sultan, whose name was Goffore, the story says.

Generydes bowed respectfully to the sultan and said: ‘Sir, if you desire, I would like to offer you my services, in any way that you may wish. Please accept me as your liege man, and I shall serve you to the best of my ability.’

The sultan stood and listened, and scrutinised Generydes’ demeanour and his bearing and liked what he saw. Without any further hesitation he welcomed the young man and said courteously: ‘I am content to have you in my service. What is your name?’

‘Generydes, Sir.’

‘Generydes, then may good fortune become your constant companion. You certainly seem to be a gentleman and destined for high honour, and I would like you to join my retinue.’

The sultan had a daughter, who was his heir, and she lived under his protection in the palace. She was very beautiful, with a truly feminine poise and countenance, as our source tells us, and she was beginning to become quite a celebrity at court – a paragon of virtue, in fact. The book says that her name was Clarionas. While the sultan was eating in his hall one day, he discretely called Generydes over to him and gave him a small dish of some fine cuisine to take to his daughter. ‘Certainly, Sir,’ Generydes obeyed. He went to her rooms. She looked carefully at Generydes and found him to be very handsome, and his manner very pleasing, and she fell in love with him at once.

Her head spins with delight as she offers him her cup to drink from. He courteously takes it from her and I perceive that he has never seen such beauty in a woman before. And as I guess, their hearts will soon belong to one another.

Generydes shortly took his leave – too short a time by far, Clarionas thought – and before he left, she gave him a kiss. He thanked her for it and offered her his service, telling her that he wished to be her man, her faithful and loyal servant.

Clarionas rose from her table and went to lie on her bed. Her maiden Mirabel wondered why she had done so and called softly: ‘Madam, what’s wrong? I hope you don’t feel unwell.’

‘To you, alone, I shall not lie,’ replied Clarionas. ‘You can keep a secret, I know. I’m in pain. Undeservedly so, but someone is hurting me, although I have never offended him. I don’t think there is any remedy, but I have never felt like this before; I tell you this in confidence.

‘But you haven’t told me who he is,’ said the maiden.

‘He’s the young squire who has just arrived at the court, and very handsome, may Paradise be mine.’

‘I’m sure you’re telling me the truth, but what’s his name?’

‘His name is Generydes, and now you know everything. And unless I can catch a glimpse of him very soon, I think I shall die very shortly, for I can’t get him out of my mind and its getting worse – I can’t find any peace!’

‘Madam,’ said Mirabel. ‘Cheer up and relax and don’t distress yourself. Everything will be fine. I shall happily arrange things so that you and he can meet again soon.’

Clarionas began at once to feel a little more comforted, and although she still looked deathly pale: ‘Dear Mirabel,’ she said. ‘Thank you. I feel a little better already. If I live, I shall reward you for this kindness.’

But let us leave Clarionas and turn to Generydes. His mind is so full of the young lady he has just seen that he feels that he has to leave the sultan’s court, his head is in such a turmoil. He went straight to his lodgings, as quickly as he could, and threw himself onto his bed. His master wondered what might be the matter. Generydes seemed very pale and out of sorts and Natanell, worried for his charge’s health, asked: ‘Sir, what’s the matter?’

‘Master, whatever lies in my heart, I shall not hide it from you. It is Clarionas. I suffer because of her alone, and to tell you the truth, I don’t understand why I feel like this about her.’

‘You know what, sir? – take my advice. Be merry! I can help you in this matter. Tomorrow I shall speak with the girl, and you will have your answer.’

‘Thank you master,’ replied Generydes. ‘You are the only one I trust. I give you leave to do all you think it right to do. I would give anything to know how she feels.’

‘Well, Sir, I can say no more, except to say that I shall do everything in my power.’

Natanell then left Generydes and the next morning, when all his duties had been performed, he went to the court to try to speak with fair Clarionas. When he came to where she was sitting, Mirabel approached him and said: ‘Where is your master?’

‘At his lodgings, and not at all well,’ replied Natanell. ‘He has been like it since yesterday. I don’t know what can be the matter with him, but he won’t relax and I can’t find anything to make him smile. And I cannot help but observe that it started, to be honest, just after he came to see your lady here, yesterday.’

When Mirabel understood what he meant, she was very encouraged. ‘Sir, I shall speak plainly. Since your master was here, I cannot lie, but my lady has been unwell also. She hasn’t slept a wink since yesterday. But if you have anything to say on behalf of your master, please go at once to my lady and tell her everything you wish to, for I’m sure she’ll be very pleased to speak with you.’

Natanell went straight to Clarionas. ‘Madam,’ he said. ‘My lord Generydes sends you his heartfelt complements. He is sad and sick at heart, and to be truthful, you have it in your power to bring him some relief, if you would be kind enough to agree to do so. Allow him this favour, and he will come at once to see you.’

‘Come to me, Mirabel,’ said Clarionas.

‘Madam, I know what the matter is. I think it would be perfectly correct for you to send for Generydes. His master here will go to fetch him.’

‘I am content that this should be so,’ replied Clarionas.

Mirabel took Natanell aside and said: ‘Do as I advise. My lady will sit at this window, and if Generydes can pace about in the garden below, there will be ample opportunity for him to speak with my lady in private. Off you go, for this is my advice.’

Natanell returned to his lodgings and found Generydes very dejected. ‘Have you any news – is there any hope?’ asked the young man.

‘Have no fear,’ replied Natanell. ‘When I tell you what has happened, you will be very pleased. For a start, she wants you to go to speak with her.’

Who is happy now! Generydes went straight to the court. He passed through a throng of people and made his way towards the royal gardens. But when he saw Clarionas at the window, he suddenly lost his nerve and felt foolish because of it; and she, similarly, could not pluck up the courage to call out to him. But at last, Generydes managed to say: ‘Madam, I have been told that you would not be unhappy to see me. And I must tell you the truth. My heart aches because of you, and has done so ever since I first saw you.’

‘How is this,’ asked Clarionas, innocently. ‘What cause do you have to accuse me so? I have never done anything to hurt you. It is not fair of you to accuse me of causing you pain.’

‘Truly, madam,’ replied Generydes. ‘Please don’t be offended. I thank you for it! Isn’t that strange? But you can help me by offering me your friendship, if it would please your ladyship to do so.’

‘If I have transgressed, then my honour demands that I should make amends for it. But how about you – shouldn’t you do the same if there is anybody who has languished in pain because of you? Perhaps I might be one of them. What would you do, if this was the case?’

‘Madam, are you telling me what I think you are?’

‘I believe so, for how could I honourably lie to you in such a matter? And everybody knows that nothing can stop the course of true love.’

‘May God allow this to be true,’ replied Generydes.

‘After all this skirmishing,’ interrupted Mirabel, ‘let there be peace! I must go, but be careful, for it is good to be wary of wagging tongues.’

Very quickly, in all truth, Generydes and Clarionas let each other know exactly how they felt about one another. Generydes gave Clarionas a ring and she gave him one in return; each as a token of the love they bore for one another and to pledge that whatever happened, they would remain true to each other, forever. By now, it was getting late in the day. ‘It is time you parted,’ said Mirabel.

Generydes reluctantly agreed and said his farewells. Clarionas was very sorry to see him go, and kissed him before he left.

For many weeks afterwards, they arranged times to meet with one another secretly. But there was nothing underhand about this and Generydes meant Clarionas no dishonour, but only to serve her faithfully. Generydes held his head up when he entered the hall, served with great energy and care and was soon considered by everybody to be a fine asset to the palace, particularly on the jousting field. He was good at hunting and hawking, and at everything a gentleman should be skilled at doing, and no one in the hall was as eager to do it as he. Everybody at court grew to love him, with one exception, a knight called Sir Malichias.

But let us leave Generydes now and speak of the king of India and his steward, Sir Amelock, whose mind is set upon some fatal harm that he might do to his lord.

8 The king of India becomes an earl in Thrace

Sir Amelock has gathered sympathisers and followers, four or five thousand of them, many of them knights and warriors, and arranged for this army to lie in wait near the city with the aim of capturing it and winning it for himself. The queen is aware of Sir Amelock’s scheming; she approves of it and, in fact, many of the steward’s supporters are of her family.

The king had done nothing to deserve this insurrection and knew nothing about it, which made his position even more pitiable. And to get quickly to the point, when Sir Amelock’s army was in place, three lords approached the king with the suggestion that he and they should go hunting. The king agreed, and soon he was riding out with these three noblemen, whose intentions were far from honourable. Two squires were with them, my source tells me, and while the king was busy chasing the deer, the treacherous steward seized the city by force – the city of Parentine – and had himself declared king and sovereign. Nobody had the courage nor the means to defy him.

The king remained totally unaware of all this until a forester came riding up to him. Tearful and distraught, barely able to speak even, he managed to inform the king of the steward’s treachery and of the hostile army that was now in control of the city.

‘By my advice,’ said the forester, ‘you must be aware that the queen is behind it all. The three lords who are hunting with you are loyal to her as well.’

When the king understood what was happening, he abandoned the hunt and rode miserably onwards until he came upon the three lords. ‘Traitors!’ he cried. ‘May God punish you for what you are doing. I’ve never done you the slightest harm and you should be ashamed of yourselves!’

They simply laughed. ‘Accept what has been done,’ they called back, disrespectfully. The king drew his sword and thrust it at one of them so hard that there was no chance of him ever getting up from the ground again. He was dead. The other two galloped away in fear and the king pursued them both, caught up with them long before the day had drawn to a close and killed them both as well. ‘Foolish deceivers!’ he cried. ‘Neither of you can boast of your treachery now.’

The king rode back to his squires, who were quite a distance behind him, ‘I have found you to be loyal and true,’ he said. ‘But now I have no means with which to keep and reward you, and so I can do no more but to bid you a fond farewell.’

‘Sir, do you really believe that we don’t wish to continue helping you? Even though things look bleak at the moment, they may begin to look up, with God’s grace, and we would like to be of as much service to you as our intelligence and ability will allow.’

The king was pleased to hear them say this, and asked them which country they thought it might be best to seek refuge in. ‘Follow the setting sun,’ said one of them. ‘It will lead you to Thrace, where there is a noble king.’

So they rode towards this land, which was known to be very wealthy, and as soon as they arrived, the king went to see the king of Thrace and very humbly asked if he and his two squires could enter his service in any capacity that the king might think appropriate. The king seemed very pleased to see him and offered to give him such employment as could only serve to increase the honour and esteem in which he was held.

So it can be seen that after hardship, God sends rest and comfort to every worthy creature.

The king of India began a new life in Thrace, his true identity unknown to anybody. He waited upon the king, with his two squires, as he had pledged to do, and continued in his chosen role as a well-trusted and loyal servant to the king. The king cherished him and found his service pleasing in every way. All that he did was done with great intelligence and his bearing was so admirable that everybody praised him. Soon he stood so well in the king’s favour that, after a while, the king made him his steward; the king gave to him full control over all his lands. Auferius executed his new responsibilities with distinction and to the increasing honour of his king. The land was ruled with justice, and nobody had any reason to complain. The king of Thrace made him an earl, as befitted the responsibilities of his new status, and gave him lands that he had newly acquired. But let us leave them now and speak again of Generydes’ mother, queen Serena.

9 Reunion

Queen Serena had heard what had happened to Generydes’ father, the king of India. Her thoughts were with him and with her son Generydes, and she felt that she could never find happiness until she knew that they were both safe. She could find no pleasure in her role as queen except for the possibility it afforded her of seeking out the whereabouts of king Auferius, so she called an earl to her, one who had married her cousin, as my source tells me, a fine lady and one of the queen’s closest relatives, and told him everything she knew about what had happened to Auferius and her son, and how the king had been betrayed. She trusted this man unwaveringly, for he was worldly wise, and very loyal.

‘I have resolved to find him,’ she declared. ‘I propose therefore to hand over the reins of government to you. I shall confer upon you all the powers that I hold. My men will obey you, and whatever destiny may hold, if I fail to return then you shall assume the kingship of this realm.’

‘Madam,’ he replied, ‘you have bestowed upon me, along with this privilege, a very large responsibility. It is no little thing to govern a country. You have been born to it, I have not. Yet, since I know that you intend to leave this kingdom, I shall comply with your wishes to the full, as far as my powers and the grace of God will allow me.’

Queen Serena set out on her journey, taking with her a trusted knight and two squires, along with some people to look after the horses. They travelled to the realm of India and very soon arrived at the city of Parentine. A suitable lodging was found for the lady and by chance, the man who owned the hostelry had been on friendly terms with the king – he was the very forester who had ridden to warn him of the steward’s treachery! Before retiring for the night, the queen spoke to this man.

‘Good Sir,’ she said, ‘tell me, where is the king? I have great need of his help for I was once a noble lady but now, through the force of harsh circumstance, I have been banished from my rightful inheritance.’

‘Madam, he replied. ‘There is no help for you here. The king has been banished himself, through the high treason of his steward and his queen, whose power I greatly lament. I was formerly quite highly regarded but now I’ve lost all the land that I had. I’d be happy to join you in looking for him, to be honest.’

‘Sir, I would like you to accompany me. It is my intention to find him and I will pay all your expenses.’

‘Then I’ll be delighted to go with you,’ he replied.

Early the next morning, queen Serena made her departure and the former forester went with her. They travelled for many days until they came within sight of the realm of Thrace and headed straight for it. Soon they came to a fair and populous city, through which ran a great river where ships were loading and unloading all manner of fine things; and as the story reminds us, Auferius was the governor there and here he had determined to live for a while, to further the king’s business. Queen Serena found lodgings beside the river and when she learned that Auferius had recently arrived in the city, God knows, she was delighted! She went one day to take the air and began to walk along the riverbank. Soon she came to a bridge where she saw, as my source tells me, three washerwomen trying their hardest to wash a shirt.

‘What are you doing, fair sisters?’ she asked them.

‘I wish I knew!’ replied one of them. ‘It is marvellous work, I can tell you! We are washing a shirt and will be forever, I reckon. We’ve been at it for the last two years and still cannot get the stains out. They call us useless, although we’ve been washerwomen for many years.’

‘Show me the shirt,’ said queen Serena.

She took the item of clothing, washed it once and rinsed it so clean that the spots and stains were completely gone. When she had finished, she gave the shirt back to the washerwomen and returned to her lodgings. The washerwomen were astounded; they tried to understand how she might have managed to clean the shirt, but they went home and when it was dry, they brought it to Auferius. He was in a beautiful castle, and when he saw the shirt so clean and spotless, he froze and a shiver passed over him as he remembered how the aged man in the castle in the forest had once told him about this shirt, and about many other things as well which had subsequently come true, like the birth of his son.

The forester went to the castle, for he was very eager to meet his lord again. He was brought before Auferius and when the opportunity arose, he was able to speak to him. Auferius recognised the man at once and was very pleased to see him, although Auferius seemed to the forester to be in a very sombre mood.

‘Sir, if it pleases your lordship,’ he said, ‘tell me what is troubling you. It saddens me to see you looking so despondent. If I could, I would gladly try to help. It’s often found, even in weighty matters, that a simple man’s advice may be of value.’

Auferius replied: ‘I know your honesty, I always have done, and to tell you the truth, it’s something that happened yesterday. It will explain,’ and he told him about queen Serena, and how a child had been born to them both and about the shirt on which her tears had fallen and how she alone could wash out the stain. ‘Now the shirt is clean, which worries me greatly, for I can only think that she must now be dead.’

‘No,’ said the forester. ‘Sir, I am sure that she is not. You will have better news I can assure you. I saw recently beside the river, someone washing a shirt, I don’t know whose it was.’

‘Who was she,’ asked Auferius, excitedly.

‘A fair lady. I travelled with her from India, where she took lodgings in my house. She asked me where she could find you and I told her that I did not know. She has left all that she has behind, and risked everything to find you. I’ve travelled with her to this city.’

‘Then earn my love and help me to find her,’ replied Auferius. ‘It must be her, the woman I love more than anything else in all this world.’

‘Sir, I shall take you to her, whenever you want. She is staying hereabouts, beside the river.’ said the forester.

What more needs to be said? Without delay, Auferius rode his horse beside the river to where Serena was staying. The moment she knew that he was coming, be in no doubt but she was happy! When he saw her, he was so overjoyed that he couldn’t speak. When she saw him, she fell to the ground in a faint. Auferius hesitated for a moment, uncertain, then rushed over and took her into his arms. Feeling his warm embrace, she recovered her senses. Then there was joy! – as they kissed and held one another.

10 King Auferius of Thrace

Auferius had a fine castle not far from the city. It was only two or three miles away. He went there and sent for all the nobility, and when they had all arrived, he told them that they should go into the city and bring queen Serena with them back to the castle, for he intended to marry her as soon as he could.

They went off, and quickly returned with the queen. Everybody was very pleased and offered her their humble service. Queen Serena remained happily in the castle and waited for the marriage ceremony. But soon, the king’s messenger arrived, a man named Curlas. He addressed Auferius in person:

‘My lord,’ he said, ‘you must come to the king at once. He is very ill and I fear he may be close to death.’

When Auferius head this, he went pale and made ready to depart immediately. He was very worried, I can tell you. When he arrived at the king’s residence, he found that he was too late. The king was already dead.

The dead monarch was given great honour. The people wept as they busied themselves with the funeral arrangements, and everybody was put to work in order to give the king a royal send-off. After he had been laid to rest, a parliament was called, by Auferius and other lords, to discuss the problem of succession, since the late king had left no heir. When they had assembled and debated the matter thoroughly, all the lords concluded, because of the great love that he bore for them all and for his fine judgement and ability in all things, that Auferius should be their new king.

So to cut a long story short, the nobility and the common people were in complete accord. They all swore allegiance to him.

When this was concluded, Auferius sent for queen Serena and, as quickly as decorum might allow, married her with great splendour and celebration. Such a fine gathering had never been seen before in that country. Every lord in that land was invited to the wedding feast, and many ladies as well.

Not long afterwards, the queen became pregnant and in due course, she gave birth to a little boy. The child was healthy and strong and when he had grown into a man’s stature, he was called Ismael the Wild. This was a good name for him, until he acquired some maturity; but in all honesty, he later grew to become a noble knight.

But let us turn now to Generydes, who is suffering for his love of Clarionas, because of the cursed Malichias, whom we learnt about briefly before.

11 Slander and subterfuge

Generydes arose one morning and made his way to Clarionas’s chamber. Malichias saw him and followed him at a distance, hoping to be able to cause some trouble. He climbed a tree in the garden and listened intently to everything they said to one another as he hid there. Unfortunately, Generydes had chosen that morning to open his heart to Clarionas. Malichias went and told the sultan what he had heard, mixing truth with lies, to their dishonour.

When the sultan heard what Malichias had to tell him, he swore that they should be put to death immediately, both of them.

‘I would advise you to spare your daughter,’ replied Malichias. ‘But do what you wish with Generydes.’

But for all his anger, the sultan knew that if Generydes was slain immediately, without a trial, his people would think it unfair and an injustice, so when his anger had subsided a little, he ameliorated somewhat and decided to let the matter drop for the present. Malichias was angry because of this and considered himself wronged. The thought of Generydes being put to death had pleased him a lot, and although he seemed to have failed on this occasion, he did not intend to give up. He continued to plot Generydes’ downfall.

A short while afterwards, Malichias went to the sultan again and said: ‘My lord, it seems that you do not believe what I tell you, but if you were to take my advice now, you’d know exactly what’s going on.’

‘Well, the sooner you tell me what you mean, the sooner you’ll discover what I intend to do about it,’ replied the sultan.

‘My lord, If it pleases you to get up one morning and do as I advise, you’ll quickly know the truth of the matter for yourself; and in all honesty, it pains me immensely that you do not believe what I tell you. I cannot say how much I would rather that this was not the case.’

‘Then I shall do as you suggest,’ replied the sultan.

So one day, when the weather was bright and the sky clear, the sultan arose early and, in company with Malichias, went directly to his daughter’s chamber. He was alone, except for Malichias, and they both stood silently beside a window as Generydes, following what was now his custom, crept secretly into Clariona’s room. And, although he had never mistrusted anyone before, he did so now. He stood and sighed.

‘Why so glum?’ asked Clarionas.

‘I’ve had a bad dream,’ he replied. ‘It was about Malichias. He and I were in a place, alone, and he took away all my clothes, so I drew my sword to get him to give them back to me again, but then the sultan appeared and threw me into a deep pit. It was horrible. As I fell, my sword flew out of my hand and caught Malichias on the head. He fell bleeding to the ground, but I now found myself in this pit which I couldn’t get out of, however hard I tried. Then you came and let me out.’

‘I’m frightened of Malichias,’ said Clarionas. ‘I had a dream about him as well. He wanted to kill me, but didn’t have the power to, although he kept menacing us.’

After they’d said this to one another, believing that their conversation was in private, the sultan had Generydes seized and instructed Malichias to tie him up, throw him into the deepest dungeon that he could find and to leave him there for as long as any life remained in him. Or to put him to a shameful death, if he preferred – as he knew that this was what Malichias wanted. Then he sent for his daughter and shouted at her, scolded her and accused her of many things she hadn’t done and for which he had no proof. He found himself thinking the worst of her, which made him very unhappy and which he was later to regret.

Generydes was taken away by Maliachus, with his hands tied behind his back, and led to a tower where the sultan’s prison was. He was given to Anasore, a gentle knight who had responsibility for the prison. Anasore’s instructions were that Generydes should be given no special favours but treated like all the rest of the criminals there. And as a true indication of his despicable nature, Malichias had Generydes’ legs put into irons and shackled him himself, so dreadfully that every time Maliachus brought the heavy hammer down, Generydes’ flesh was hit, so that the bone was bruised and his skin split open. His legs were soon covered in blood.

Anasore had had enough.

‘You insult me!’ he cried to Malichias. ‘It’s my responsibility to see to the prisoners. I’m the jailor here. And I can see no reason to give this one so much grief and intolerable pain.’

Malichias kept at his task, however. At last, Generydes could take no more, and neither did he have any intention of dying there, so he threw a punch into Maliachas’ face while he was still able to. The blow was so hard that both the man’s eyes fell out of their sockets and he fell lifeless to the ground.

When Anasore saw that Malichias was dead, he felt sorry for Gererydes, because he knew that, when the sultan learned what had happened and that Generydes had killed one of his most trusted officials, he would fly into a dreadful rage. So with the advice of those who were with him, he came up with a plan. They would pretend that Malichias had brought Generydes to the prison as the sultan had instructed and then left again, but that his luck had run out as he made his way out of the tower and that he had tripped and fallen headlong down the staircase, breaking his neck in the process. And to prove that this was the case, they took the body and laid it at the very bottom of the stairway.

They all agreed that Generydes was to be freed of all blame. Amongst them was a knight who was a good friend of Anasore, always in his company and the two of them always concurred with one another. His name was Darell, and he supported Anasore now. Darell advised Ansore to go straight to the sultan, tell him the story they had concocted and that he would back him up to the hilt and pretend to be an eye-witness. So this is what Anasore did.

Before he went, though, he removed the irons from Generydes’ legs so that the young man might be a little more comfortable and out of pain; for despite all the rumours and gossip, Anasore was sure that, as far as Clarionas was concerned, Generydes was innocent of all charges.

When he came before the sultan, Anasore said: ‘I’m afraid I have to report something a little out of the ordinary, sir. Malichias took it upon himself to carry out the instructions you entrusted to me, and did more even than you commanded, for he shackled Generydes in leg-irons until blood ran everywhere. But when he’d finished and was descending the long flight of steps out of my prison, he fell down head first and broke his neck. He’s dead.’

When the sultan heard this, he flew into a rage, just as Anasore had predicted. ‘ What, sir? I don’t believe a word of it! You, keeper of my prison, what’s going on? It’s all a fabrication! You’re concealing something from me, I know it! Gererydes will die tomorrow, you can be sure of that.’

‘Sir, if it pleases your lordship to listen,’ replied Anasore. ‘Your dignity and reputation require that you do not act in haste but take advice. See that your ground is secure before coming to a judgement in this matter, or else your good name will surely suffer for it.’

As Anasore spoke, the sultan’s anger lessened. Seeing that he had achieved what he had set out to, Anasore took his leave. The sultan called for his chamberlain.

‘Go quickly,’ he instructed, ‘and see that Maliachus’s body is carried carefully to the temple and laid there with honour and respect.’

12 The sultan’s wrath

The chamberlain went off, with everybody in the palace instructed to obey his commands, but when they came to where the body lay, intending to bring it for burial, they found a pack of dogs there, attacking the corpse in a feeding frenzy. There were too many to count; some were red, some were black, some other colours, but soon they had completely torn the body to shreds and carried off pieces of flesh in their mouths, flesh, bone, entrails, everything. The chamberlain went back to the sultan fretting over what his lord’s reaction to this might be, but he faithfully related everything he had seen. The sultan was not pleased and became even angrier than he had been before.

He sent for all his noblemen and they assembled at once. Generydes, anxious about what was now happening, was brought from the prison. He was placed in front of all the lords, and the sultan said:

‘This scoundrel here, this young man whom you see before you, led me to believe that he was as pleased to be in my service as I was, at the time, to have him. His name is Generydes, as you all know, but instead, he has shamed me by sleeping with my daughter and having sex with her. I have seen him speak with her covertly, and I know what’s been going on between them. I shall reward him for this. Trust me, he will die for it, so that others may see what happens when such treason takes place under my roof, and take heed of it.’

‘My lord,’ replied Generydes, ‘if you kill me, you will commit an injustice. I take God to witness that I am innocent and I will prove this through a trial by combat. Put any knight or squire you choose against me and I will prove my innocence.’

‘You wish for a trial by combat? No, you will die tomorrow like a common criminal, and if anyone here wishes to speak in your defence, I can assure them, their career will not prosper. I require you all to agree to this judgement.’

All the lords stood silently and said nothing. Then at last, Anasore spoke up, as a knight should.

‘My lords,’ he said. ‘How can this be? I have never encountered such a thing. The sultan pays us a disrespect, in my opinion, to ask us to condemn a man without due process of law. I for one shall not give my assent to it, given what I have heard this young man say for himself, and I won’t be bullied by any fear of the withdrawal of preferment,’

The sultan’s patience was wearing thin and he spoke roughly to Anasore:

‘You are too bold in my presence,’ he warned. ‘You speak openly against me and although I understand what you say, it is a sign, perhaps, that you do not love me as much as you should. You will not get your way in this.’

Then Darell, whom we met in the prison, spoke up in support of his friend, He was a noble and well-born young knight and did not lack the courage to fight when he considered that honour required it, or that his help might be needed.

‘I marvel that Anasore should receive such a shabby hearing,’ he said, addressing his fellow knights, lords and particularly the sultan. ‘Nobody works harder than he does in your service, sir, and nobody does more for you in every way that he can. Both Generydes and he deserve better treatment.’

The lords and knights then turned to the sultan and asked him to think again, for the sake of the esteem in which he was held, because it was against all reason to condemn a man to death so swiftly and without any trail.

The sultan was as angry as he had ever been, but didn’t know what to say. There was a knight who had served him for many years, as the story tells us, whom the sultan had always found to be in accord with what he was thinking, and his name was Lucas.

‘I think, sir, that these lords and knights speak the truth,’ Lucas told the sultan. ‘Jumping to conclusions is in nobody’s interest and will lead you to no great honour or success. Accept the advice of others and decide what to do when you have wise counsel to guide you.’

By the time the sultan had heard him out, his anger was subsiding and, taking heed of this advice, and weighing once again the things he had heard and seen, he decided not to be obstinate but to give them twenty-one days to determine the truth of the matter. The lords were very pleased at this and grateful that their lord was now showing some wisdom. Gererydes was sent back to prison, but in much better spirits than before, since Ansore gave him a free run of the entire prison complex, and Generydes trusted him.

Whilst in prison, Generydes thought about Clarionas all the time. He thought that if he could have her as his own, it would be worth all the pain in the world, for such hardship was as nothing in comparison to the value of her love.

13 Generydes’ trial

From her chamber, Clarionas asked every man who passed if he knew what had happened to Generydes, and whether he was still alive. They all told her that he had been taken back to prison and was certainly alive, which comforted her a little.

The sultan made sure his lords knew the day that they’d all agreed to, and that they had to keep to it. So they assembled again at the due time, and there were so many of them present that the hall was not large enough to accommodate them all, so the sultan brought them to a larger place outside. Then Generydes was brought from the prison and the sultan explained once more his grievance and the charge against him, and how he expected justice to be done. Suddenly, in the midst of it all, a messenger appeared unexpectedly.

The man rode briskly up and said to the sultan:

‘I have come to speak plainly to you. There is a king not far from here, who is the greatest ruler under the sky. He is the king of Egypt, and, since you have a reputation for wisdom, he thinks it a great wonder that you haven’t yet come to offer him your allegiance. He therefore requires you to yield up your lands to him and become his vassal. And in order that you might have time to reflect upon the wisdom of doing this, he grants you a month to gather advice and to decide, and then to let him know what your decision is. Also, he suggests that you send your daughter Clarionas to him, so that he might look more favourably upon you in future.’

When this messenger had finished, the sultan’s mood became very sombre and serious. He instructed Anasore to take Generydes back to the prison and if he escaped, to kill him, since he had more pressing matters to deal with all of a sudden.

‘Now tell me, what kind of a man is he, this king of yours, who believes himself to be so powerful?’ the sultan asked the messenger.

‘If it pleases you to know, then I shall tell you. His name is Belyn the Bold, and men call him King of Kings. He is camped beside a river not far from here, with his army, and has given word that he will not move until he has an answer from you.’

‘Then I can tell you that, regarding my daughter, I will not let her anywhere where she might come to any dishonour, and so you can tell your master to go to hell on that score! As for the rest of your message, here is my answer and I shall not hinder you from leaving with it: say to your prince, wherever he may be, that it will be clear to him what I intend to do within a month and a day and that I shall send my final word to him then.’

The messenger, having received his answer, took his leave.

The sultan immediately gathered all his noblemen and his advisors together to receive their counsel regarding this serious matter. He asked the advice of them all, not just one or two in particular.

‘Sir, have no fear,’ cried Lucas, after much discussion. ‘We shall overcome this, with God’s grace, Since time immemorial, this land has been a sovereign power, subject to no other, and we are determined that it shall remain so.’

The lords all assented to this and agreed with Lucas.

‘We are all in agreement,’ confirmed Sir Darell. ‘We believe that we can gain victory in combat over this mighty prince in less than two months. But we require that Generydes be shown favour, for we know that he’s done nothing wrong and we think it would be better for you to forgive him. Sir, we ask that you stop threatening him, because he may well be able to help in this matter and do service in a way that will be pleasing to you. Furthermore, if it pleases you to listen to us, we advise you to send for your army, and every lord here to send for his own troops and to raise as many fighting men as he can, fully equipped, and in this way, we shall defend your land so that it owes no tribute.

The sultan listened carefully to these words and was pleased with them.

‘Sirs, since you have all pleaded for Generydes, I shall not refuse you. You may tell him that he is restored back into my favour and may continue as before.

The lords cheered at this!

Anasore and Darell went straight to the prison where Generydes lay.

‘What news?’ asked Generydes.

‘It’s very good,’ they replied. ‘The sultan has pardoned you and you’ve nothing more to be afraid of.’ Then they quickly took off his leg irons, much to Gererydes’ relief.

Without any further delay, Sir Darell, Sir Anasore and Generydes rode back to the sultan, and there Generydes proffered himself before his lord in humble obedience.

‘I beseech you, Sir, grant me your grace,’ he implored. ‘I have done nothing to offend you and nothing that might have caused offense, neither to you nor to Clarionas, but I have tried to worship and serve her in everything that I’ve done, as is my duty, for as long as I’ve been in your service. Moreover, as far the messenger goes, it grieves me that such a thing should be said to you and had I been there, I might have struck this messenger and killed him. But with your permission, I would like to foil this king’s intent, and if I understand your own intentions correctly, I would welcome a chance to fight hand to hand with this over-proud king in your defence. As long as I draw breath, this king shall never dishonour your daughter, and the hour will never come that sees you paying any tribute to him. This land shall never be put into that position. With your permission, sir, and for all his strength, I would like to help you to defeat him.’

When the sultan had heard Generydes speak so courageously, he said: ‘Generydes, all the animosity I felt for you is forgiven. Your reputation henceforth shall be as high as it’s ever been. I know now that you have wished only to serve me truly. Tomorrow, I will make you a knight, and a hundred more besides you, for your sake, and then I shall embark upon a campaign to free my land of this danger and to prevent it from falling into servitude.’

Then the sultan’s thoughts turned to his daughter. It had been a while since he’d seen her and he wanted to make it up to her and try to recapture those good times that he could remember; he wanted all those who were there to see how highly he thought of her and he wanted her to forgive him. Anasore was sent to fetch her. When Clarionas was brought before him, the sultan took her in his arms.

‘Daughter, it was all my fault,’ he said. ‘You were wrongfully accused and I absolve you of all blame. You are blameless and you are free to see me whenever you like.’

Clarionas was delighted to hear this, and took leave of her father very courteously. Generydes was delighted also, to witness such a heartfelt reconciliation. He glanced at Clarionas as she turned away, and she returned his glance with a smile. Two knights were ordered to escort her to her chambers.

14 Persia prepares for war

The next morning, the sultan and all his lords came into the hall, with Generydes at the forefront of them all. One by one, the lords all took their leave in order to prepare themselves for the battle ahead. The fellowship departed in order to be able to return again as quickly as possible with horses, arms and men. They agreed to assemble in a month’s time.

The sultan sent messengers to ride as fast as they could to neighbouring kings and princes, to urge them to gather fighting men and to ride in the defence of his country, as quickly as they could. When they received these letters, there was not a king or a prince among them who did not reply favourably. The first to arrive was Croves, the king of Arabia. He brought two thousand knights with him and a significant number of archers as well, trained and capable soldiers. This king was advanced in years and although it was difficult for him to have to travel so far, he was not going to renege upon his obligations. The sultan was pleased to see him, especially since he had brought his son Anasore with him, who was fit and strong.

Next, a mighty prince of Turkey arrived with a thousand armed warriors, the finest he could find in his country. He brought with him also his two sons who were , in all honesty, a magnificent pair of knights; the eldest was called Sir David and the younger, Sir Abel, who was fearless, and they were both very well respected. Their father was a very active man also, and he loved Clarionas, although, as we know, she has set her affections elsewhere.

Then came a prince who ruled Caesarea, accompanied by seven hundred of his knights. The story says that his name was Cherydon and he brought along with him his son, Sir Darell. Cherydon was a capable fighter, his archers and infantry were well-equipped and well-respected and the sultan was very pleased to see him. Soon afterwards, the king of Sicily arrived, a man named Obeth, with five hundred knights and a similar number of foot soldiers. He was a keen warrior and was very pleased to have been asked along to the party! Then came the king of Nicomedia, on the southern shores of the Black Sea. He arrived with three thousand men who were as black as coal, except for their teeth, but the story says that they were strong men and that their king’s name was Essence, a courteous and well-mannered knight. From Ethiopia came another king with two thousand knights and a great many more men on foot. After these came a mighty host from Macedonia and Arcadia; so many that they could not be counted. Moab, the king of a land in western Turkey arrived in haste, and alongside him were two noble knights, Balam and Iferus, the king of Damascus and the King of Armenia. They brought with them fifteen thousand warriors with shields and spears.

Soon after this came the king of Orkney, and with him another king, and then two more, one of whom ruled a third of Sicily, and my author says that it was a wonder to see all the men they brought with them.

I have mentioned fifteen kings, as briefly as I can, with their armies and their mighty warriors, so great in number that the city was unable to accommodate them all. On a plain beside a forest near to the city the sultan set up his pavilion. It was made of silk and gold, and soon there were many other impressive pavilions to see there as well, so many tents that anyone gazing from a mile or so away would have guessed that it was a town or a city they were looking at.

One fine summer’s day the sultan went out of his city to take the air and to view all the tents and pavilions round about, and it seemed to him that the people camped outside his city were beyond number. He said to the lords and princes who came to greet him: ‘In this country somebody has arrived calling himself the King of Kings, which I deem to be completely absurd and unacceptable, since nobody can claim that title except for He who made this world. He asks for tribute as well, which is equally unacceptable.’

The son of the king of Turkey spoke up: ‘As for the land of Persia, I shall say this – it should pay no tribute. In no way should it pay tribute! Our enemies shall never see that day, for we are strong, and I for one promise to keep it from all humiliation. To make this good with spear and shield I propose that we meet them in the field tomorrow. But do as you wish, this is only my advice, although I ask you to remember that when the land of Persia has given battle in the past, my father has been the standard-bearer and he and his heirs regard it as their duty to be at the head of the fighting and to be given a position of high responsibility and leadership. This is Turkey’s right. So I beseech you, with humble obedience, to be pleased that this should remain so now, and that I should hold the banner, rightfully, as my father has done.’

‘It shall be so,’ replied the sultan.

The king of Turkey thanked the sultan very gracefully for allowing his son this honour. Then they all went to their pavilions and prepared their weapons and their armour, so that they would be ready for whatever the morning might bring.

PART 2: Generydes wins his spurs

15 Initial engagement

At first light, these kings, princes and all their knights assembled wearing glittering arms; dukes and earls and barons, their helmets flashing with pearls and diamonds, their horses resplendent. The city was full of noise and the streets were crowded with warriors intent upon coming out to do battle. The sultan appeared, and rode directly out to his pavilion, surrounded by all his lords.

When all was ready and everybody had assembled, they could be seen to number sixty thousand. Battle formations were organised and the king of Turkey led out the vanguard, by right of inheritance. He was in command of three thousand knights, as well as archers and foot soldiers, and his son Abel carried the banner. A second battalion was commanded by the king of Arabia and comprised two thousand knights. Sir Anasore commanded a third battalion alongside Generydes and all the freshly-knighted young men, together with fifteen hundred archers and foot soldiers. Sir Darell’s father, the prince of Caesarea, led a fourth battalion of fine-looking knights. Next came the king of Sicily with three thousand knights, along with archers and foot soldiers. After that came the king of Nicomedia with five thousand knights; these were a wonder to behold, they were so tall and strong, and they were as black as coal, as I have said before, and he led the sixth battalion, as I find it written in my book.

The king of Ethiopia led a seventh battalion that was fully equipped to meet the enemy, and an eighth battalion was led by the king of Macedonia and two other kings. A ninth battalion consisted of three thousand knights who looked fully capable of inflicting grief upon their enemies. It was led by the king of Cappadocia. King Balam had taken command of the tenth battalion, with three thousand knights, I believe. An eleventh battalion was led by the courageous prince Zepharus.

A twelfth battalion was led by the king of Orkney with a large host, a thirteenth battalion by king Phares and a fourteenth by the king of Barbery. These three princes had six thousand knights in total under their command. The final battalion was led by the sultan himself, with three thousand knights, some from his own country, others from distant lands, and each in magnificent arms. Sir Darell, the son of the prince of Caesarea, was his standard-bearer, and the book says that he looked superb and every inch the part.

Soon all the banners were being held aloft, and it made for a fine spectacle. Each knight was mounted upon a handsome steed, in splendid armour and wearing coat arms of silver and gold. They all began to advance in formation and the trumpets blew – it was a joy to hear!

Let us leave them advancing on horseback and turn to this mighty King of Kings, who’s considering how he may best arrange his own forces and who shall lead his own battalions into battle. He placed himself in the vanguard along with three kings and six thousand knights. His son Gwynon was his standard-bearer. Then came Sir Amelock, the king of India, whose land, God knows, had been seized illegally by the betrayal of a noble king. He was in command of the second battalion, which contained two kings beside himself. A third battalion was commanded by Sanic, the king of Africa and the father of Serenydes, who so treacherously betrayed her husband Auferius and helped Sir Amelock to seize the crown of India. There were two other kings in this battalion as well. The king of Thrace was in command of the fourth battalion, a young and energetic man named Madan, and my author is very clear about this [sic]. Barachias, the king of Europe, was in command of a fifth battalion. It was a similar size to all of the others, for each battalion was made up of a similar number of men.

A sixth battalion was commanded by king Ermones, a rabble of ill-disciplined and ugly folk who were all so fat that no horse could carry them, so they rode on camels. They made for a magnificent sight, though, because they carried no swords or lances but huge axes shaped like mattocks with long handles that they could bring down upon their enemy with great weight. He had two kings in his battalion, who were as fat and ugly as their men, and both of them rode camels. In command of the seventh battalion was the king of Assyria; Galad was his name I see, and he was a worthy prince. Manassen was in charge of the eighth battalion, and his son Rubin was second-in-command. The ninth battalion was led by the king of Libya, whose name was Lamadon and the tenth, and last, by Auferius, the well-beloved king who’d ruled India until he was put out from his inheritance, as you’ve already heard. Two other kings were with him, along with knights from Thrace, all willing to serve under him. He was completely unaware, however, that he was going to be fighting against his own son Generydes.

Auferius was given the last battalion because Sir Amelock was in command of the second battalion and, being at other ends of the battlefield, they might be able to keep out of each other’s way. Everything was ready. Men of arms, with lance and shield, began to advance with great courage.

The sultan rode amongst his men, urging his army forwards and sent three knights to ride ahead to see what the enemy was doing. They came back to tell him that the enemy was advancing as well, so they rode for half the night, until both armies were facing each other across the battlefield.

They lost no time, but each advanced towards the enemy without any hesitation, and be in no doubt, it was a grievous encounter. Each knight set upon an opponent with great courage and in all honesty, it was marvellous to hear the lances crashing together and splintering. The King of Kings rode here and there, ahead of all his forces, and there were few of the enemy who could stand a stroke from him. Many knights were unhorsed by his blows. He made for a magnificent sight! A comely prince and, in the field, a fine leader.

The prince of Turkey carried the Persian banner. He advanced towards an enemy king and they clashed, the king was pierced through the body and fell from his horse onto the ground, dead. Then the prince cried out in hasty celebration to the King of Kings: ‘Good Sir, how do you like this game, then?’

King Belyn, the King of Kings, didn’t like it at all and thought it best to offer like for like, so he galloped towards Sir Abel, the king of Turkey’s son, with such an eager will that Sir Abel was scarcely able to remain in his saddle as they clashed, and the Persian banner dropped to the ground. The king of Turkey saw the banner fall and galloped as fast as he could to the scene where, with a hundred knights, he managed to restore it to his son. Then there was some fierce fighting and many were slain, and after a while, the Persian forces were forced to give ground. Anasore and Generydes saw what was happening and led their battalion with all its knights into the fray, and after a while, they won back the ground that had been lost.

Generydes saw Gwynon, the son of king Belyn, riding with lance and shield, and rode straight into the attack. Gwynon turned to face him and broke Generydes’ shield with his lance. Generydes rode the impact effortlessly and inflicted such a blow upon his adversary that the prince fell from his horse onto the ground. Without a care about who might be aggrieved, Generydes seized the stray horse and led it away.

A little distance from the thick of the fighting, Generydes encountered a man who seemed to be some sort of herald. ‘Good sir,’ he said. ‘Will you do me a favour?’

‘What is it?’ the man asked.

‘Will you swap the saddles around on these two horses. When you have done this, you can take my steed.’

Sygrem did as Generydes asked, for this was the man’s name; he was an intelligent and responsible fellow, respected by both sides and a man of great worth to a gentleman, offering good service and good company.

Generydes leapt up onto his new horse and it was the best he’d ever ridden. I have it on good authority that king Belyn had given it to his son just before the battle started. Sygrem was pleased with his new horse as well, for he hadn’t rated his own very highly. Generydes said to him: ‘Tell me, is Sir Amelock here, that despicable man who seized my father’s lands? I’d love to know if he’s anywhere within striking distance.

‘Yes he is,’ replied Sygrem. ‘But I don’t know your name. I know Sir Amelock well enough, he’s in the first battalion but one over there. But tell me who you are, and I’ll gladly offer you my service.’

‘I will not lie to you,’ replied Generydes. ‘King Auferius is my father, who was the King of India and is now the King of Thrace [sic], but keep this to yourself.’

‘King Auferius? I know him well. I’m pretty sure that he’s in the last battalion of all. Sir Amelock is not his friend, I can tell you, and because of this the King of Kings has kept them as far apart as possible, to make sure that they don’t start fighting with each other.’

‘How can I recognise Sir Amelock?’

‘He’s riding a grey horse with a white head. His arms are a field of gules with three gold stripes.’

Generydes was delighted to hear this and rode off with Sygrem, hoping to find Sir Amelock. As they rode along, talking together, Sygrem spotted Sir Amelock on some lower ground, riding as if to find some rest from the fighting.

‘There’s Sir Amelock over there. He only has one companion with him,’ Sygrem pointed.

‘Then it’s time for me to be off,’ said Generydes, and he rode away.

Sir Amelock saw Generydes approaching him with lance and shield and manoeuvred his horse to meet the attack. The first impact split Generydes’ shield in two, but Sir Amelock’s went clattering to the ground as well.

‘Now I’m pleased,’ cried Generydes. ‘You can’t mock me for losing my shield since you’ve lost your own as well. And you can be clear about one thing – you’ve lost yours for good because, as mine’s broken, I’m going to use yours.’

The fighting began and no quarter was given, they both hated each other so much. Sir Amelock was beside himself with anger. ‘You’ll pay for this!’ he shouted, and gave a swipe with his sword against Generydes’ body, that troubled the young man for a moment. ‘Give me back my shield!’

‘You’re not getting it, you deceitful traitor, and if you take a step nearer you’ll get what’s coming to you. You deprived my father of his rightful inheritance, which was his joy and his life, and you struck me in my father’s presence which, God knows, I’ve neither forgotten nor forgiven. I wouldn’t forgive myself now if I let you go without paying for it,’ and Generydes struck him such a blow on the head that Sir Amelock’s helmet split into two pieces and the edge of his sword sliced away his nose and his lips. Sir Amelock began to bleed so profusely that he lost consciousness.

‘Do you want me to bring you your shield now? I think you have need of one to carry you off the field,‘ taunted Generydes.

Sir Amalock raised his head from the ground and tried to get up, but Generydes struck him back down again. He intended to kill him, but two knights rode quickly up, set Sir Amelock back onto a horse and led him off as slowly and gently as they could get the horse to go. They were very upset to see him in such a bad way.

Generydes gathered up Sir Amelock’s horse, mounted his own and rode back towards the battlefield leading his prize. Sygrem spotted him.

‘My friend,’ said Generydes when they met. ‘Can I ask you to do something for me? Take this horse and present it to my dear father, King Auferius, and tell him that I have won him off that deceitful traitor Amelock. If he wants proof as to who has sent this horse and why, tell him that his own son Generydes has sent him and remind him how Sir Amelock struck his son in the palace, in front of him, and how he managed to injure Sir Amelock in the arm with a knife on that occasion.’

‘Sir, on my life, I shall do as you instruct me to. I’ll seek out king Auferius at once.'

‘Ride as fast as you can!’

When Auferius received the horse and learnt who it was from, he was delighted.

‘’Sygrem, so that I may well reward you, tell me how I may recognise my son.’

‘Of course Sir,’ and he described Generydes in detail to the king – the colour of his horse, the sort of armour he was wearing, and all his heraldic arms. King Auferius was well content and rewarded Sygrem handsomely. But let us leave them now and return to Generydes.

16 Clarionas dies a thousand deaths

Generydes found his comrades tired and in peril, having fought hard all day. But their spirits rose when they saw him approaching and they plunged with fresh hearts into the battle, which raged hard and long, but they kept together and fought as one. Generydes fought tirelessly and wherever he struck with his sword, his opponent fell from the saddle. The men of Persia took heart from this.

The King of Kings noticed it and called Sygrem to him.

‘Who is that knight over there?’ he asked. ‘Do you know? He seems to be getting the better of everyone and it seems that there is no knight here who can do him any harm. What’s more, he seems to be riding my son’s horse. I don’t like to see that. But you seem to know how good a knight he is already, Sygrem. I wish he was fighting on our side. I would give him a great deal of gold and silver, towns and castles to rule over, and many other things as well, if he’d do so.’

‘Sir, it would be no use trying,’ replied Sygrem. ‘He’s a very noble young man and in line for a great inheritance, as I understand it. He receives no money from the sultan and to tell you the truth, he hopes to win the hand of Clarionas in marriage.

‘Clarionas? No way! She’s mine! But do you know what? By Christ! I’ll fight him for her.’

When Sygrem understood what king Belyn had in mind, he rode quickly to Generydes and told him what he’d just heard.

King Belyn, the King of Kings, began searching through the field of conflict looking for Generydes, and as he skirted around the main battle he spotted him in a valley, made straight for him and shouted: ‘Turn and face me now! You’re riding my horse Blanchard! I’ll soon get him off you!’

Generydes heard the shouting, turned his steed and without another word they galloped at one another; their lances struck and they were both unhorsed. Both remounted and fought together hand to hand. Neither showed the other any favour and both gave and received some hard strokes with the sword. There were no two better knights in all the land. They fought for a long while, with no letting up and oblivious to the wider battle raging around them.

The fighting went on and on as lords and knights regrouped and rode back into the fray, until many were badly injured and many more were lying dead. Lucas spotted Manassen and galloped towards him with his shield to the fore and his lance levelled in anger. He rode a good horse and gave Manassen such a blow with the point of his spear that it went through the man’s armour, through his shoulder bone and out through his back, killing him stone dead.

‘Have this one on me!’ he shouted to king Belyn. ‘And I’ll be sending you more presents like this, I hope!’

The King of Kings heard this mocking, levelled his lance, spurred his horse to a gallop and struck Sir Lucas so hard that he tumbled to the ground. Generydes saw Sir Lucas suddenly in great danger, rode into the fray and rescued him at once. Then he galloped straight at king Belyn once more, continuing their earlier engagement, and slashed at his head with his sword. The king’s helmet split in two and the sword continued downwards and sliced into the king’s horse so that it fell dead beneath him. Knocked nearly senseless, the king blew his horn. A thousand knights responded to the call. They set him quickly upon another horse, thankful that he was still alive, and led him to safety. All at once, the handsome men of Upper India, whom this story has already introduced, came galloping in on their camels. They pushed all before them; their weapons were truly fearsome, fashioned strangely, like mattocks with spikes everywhere, and no man could carry a fight against such blows. The men of Persia were beaten back and when the sultan realised this, he rode quickly into the fray. He gave his knights words of encouragement and thanked them for everything they had done so far.

‘Sir,’ replied Sir Darell. ‘If it was the case that these were men we were fighting against, we would have no fear in meeting them on equal terms, but they are surely devils! No man can do anything against their weapons! Sir, this is my advice – that we retreat towards the city and form up again, so that it doesn’t look as though we are fleeing the battlefield.’

The sultan agreed that this was the only option and reluctantly gave his assent. They began to make their way without any sign of panic or ill discipline towards the city. The sultan blew his horn to summon the lords and knights of his own guard and they rode up a once, but as they began to ride all together the enemy made another assault and the sultan was barely able to escape with his life. He lost at least a thousand horses and five hundred of his men in that engagement, amongst them some of his best lords and knights.

At last the day came to a close and the sultan managed to reach the safety of his city.

Generydes had no idea what was going on, since he and Anasore had been fully occupied fighting with the forces of Galad, the king of Assyria. But when at last they learnt what had occurred and how the sultan had come so close to defeat, they were saddened beyond words. Yet they fought on and nobody came to rescue them, nor seemed likely to, as far as they could see. Their men were tired and wounded, with many slain. At last it seemed that the only course of action was to try to make their way by themselves back into the city. They tried to do so, but it was not long before they found their way blocked by the enemy. There seemed to be no way for them to get past. Then Anasore remembered a postern gate and they tried to skirt around towards it. But they could see that they would have their work cut out reaching safety.

Let us turn to the sultan. Listen to the anguish that he shows! He requested an account from every man, a true account of who was dead and who had been captured. The people in the city began to wail and lament when the names of the dead were made known, and especially for Anasore and Generydes, for it seemed certain that they’d been brought down in the fighting.

‘It’s a great pity to lose two knights of their calibre,’ cried Darrell, and he rode off, beseeching God to be his help and his guide in finding Generydes, alive or dead.

When the rumour went around that Generydes and Anasore might be dead, there was a great deal of lamentation, which came to the ears of Clarionas who, when she heard what was being said, began to weep uncontrollably. Mirabel saw her distress and said: ‘Madam, these rumours are not true, I will lay anything on it. If it would please you to walk up into the tower, you may well see something from there which will comfort you.’

‘I shall do as you advise, regardless of what I may find,’ replied Clarionas. So she made her way to the high tower, but couldn’t see much of the battlefield because her eyes were too full of tears.

Darell soon found Generydes and Anasore, who were both delighted and relieved to see him, for they had spent a long time in danger and discomfort. Their spirits lifted as Darell approached and Generydes explained how they had managed to disengage from the enemy and to take some rest, and soon he and Darell were exchanging news.

Clarionas was still on the tower. She managed to stop her crying and then she spotted Anasore riding across the battlefield towards the city; she knew it was him for certain by his arms and immediately a large measure of her sadness vanished. Generydes was with Anasore, but she didn’t know this because he was wearing Sir Amelock’s shield, which he’d taken from him when they fought together, and which sported Sir Amelock’s heraldic device, and he was riding Blanchard, a horse that he’d won from king Belyn’s son in the field. They made they way in full view of her, with spear and shield, towards the city.

But watching them also was a man who was standing with King Auferius and who turned to his lord at once and pointed them out. King Auferius immediately took five hundred knights with him to cut off their retreat. Leading the company was Ismael the Wild, King Auferious’s son and Generydes’ own brother. Ismael rode ahead of all the other knights and Generydes soon became aware of him. He took his lance and they both galloped into the attack.

Ismael struck Generydes on the shield so hard that Generydes almost came off his horse, but he recovered quickly enough, he wasn’t hurt, and gave Ismael such a blow on the shield with his sword that the shield broke in two. But they fought on fearlessly and neither of them would yield to the other, until Generydes struck Ismael so hard upon the head that his helmet was swept away and Generydes saw his face and recognised similar features to his father, and to himself.

‘Good sir!’ cried Generydes. ‘For the love of God! Tell me truthfully – who are you? Which country do you come from?’

‘I have no reason to lie to you,’ replied Ismael. ‘King Auferius of Thrace is my father, it is no disgrace to admit. I was born and raised in that country and my name is Ismael the Wild. This is the truth.’

‘A thousand thanks, my friend! We have fought together for too long, I assure you,’ and Generydes embraced him. ‘We are brothers! King Auferious is my father as well. But I cannot stay. I must go – my comrades must be wondering what on earth is going on! – but I’ll speak to you soon, in friendship.’

They parted reluctantly, with great heaviness. Generydes quickly saw his father’s men advancing on great warhorses towards him and knowing that he was dangerously exposed and alone, with no hope of being able to take them all on single-handedly, he galloped back to his comrades. When he met with them, a throng of men could be seen advancing along a valley, with fine equipment and obviously intent upon cutting off their means of escape. At their head rode a knight whom Generydes spotted immediately and set off in preparation for an attack. They came together in full sight of everyone and Generydes’ lance smashed through the knight’s shield, breaking it into two pieces, and passed right through the knight’s body.

Clarionas thought that she knew who must have achieved this wonderful feat of arms, and said to Mirabel: ‘Who is this knight who performs so admirably?’

‘It is your love,’ Mirabel assured her. ‘I can see the red pennon that you gave him. Gwynot your chamberlain took it to him.’

‘Then, Mirabel, how do you advise me? Because I think you’re right. But I’m dying a thousand deaths seeing him so alone without any rescue. They’ll all be killed, he and his companions, but its him I cry for. There is no knight better than him anywhere, you only need to use your eyes to see this. I vow to be his, for as long as I breath.’

While she was saying this, Ismael came riding with lance and shield and ran at Sir Darrell, forcing both horse and man to the ground. Immediately, the whole company appeared and although Darrell was hoping for rescue, a knight came and kept him down on the ground and rode over him, preparing to kill him with his sword. But then, from out of the heaviest fighting, Generydes appeared as though from nowhere, rode straight at this knight and struck him on the head with his sword so hard that the man fell to the ground, bleeding profusely. Generydes captured his horse and brought it to Darrell, who mounted it gratefully and escaped.

Clarionas had been watching all this. ‘There’s the man I love,’ she said.

‘I told you it was him,’ Mirabel replied. ‘He won’t let you down, so let all these anxious thoughts go away. It’s certainly him.’

17 Clarionas receives a gift

Darrel was speaking with Generydes, anxiously weighing the situation in his mind, and as they were riding a little away from the main action they came suddenly upon king Auferius, who was fully armed and looking magnificent. Darrel immediately rode into the attack with all the strength he had. He struck Auferius on the head and but for the steel of his helmet the king would have died there and then. But Auferius was able to return a similar blow that sent sparks flying. Then he turned his horse around and cried: ‘Young knights, who are so proud of themselves, can still be struck by old men, can you see!’

Generydes heard the raised voice of his father and rode towards them both. Approaching his father in humility he said: ‘Sir, do not attack me. Let me speak first. I’ve come to separate the two of you, for I love you both; but you, King Auferius, I love especially. And as for this knight, I assure you I shall never fail him for as long as I have breath in my body.’

‘Who are you, then, that you fight against us so valiantly?’ asked king Auferius.

‘I was born in Syria and my name is Generydes.’ Then he turned and rode off towards his own knights.

King Auferius was dismayed that the young man had ridden away so quickly, after telling him that he was his son. But he was very pleased, as you might imagine, that Generydes had grown into such a fine young knight.

The battle raged on and the king’s knights grew more and more numerous. At last, Darrel said to Generydes: ‘Your pleasure will bring us to grief!’

‘My pleasure?’

‘Yes! Yes! Absolutely so. Your eye is always darting in a certain direction.’

‘Which direction is that? If you mean the king, I can’t see him anywhere.’

‘No, I don’t mean king Belyn. I’m talking about that high tower over there. I can see what’s compelling you to show such bravery. Do you follow me?’

‘No, you have it all wrong. I wasn’t aware that she was there, even. But since I can see her now, I’m even more inclined to do well and to win her favour. Don’t be angry, but with your permission I’m going to test myself one more time.’

‘Very well, then,’ said Darrel. ‘Let’s go.’

Generydes and Darrel rode into the fighting once again, to test their skill and their courage. Natanell was with them, carrying a fine, sturdy lance. Generydes came upon king Ruben, whose lance and shield were ready for action, and they galloped at one another. King Ruben, who was a mighty warrior, struck Generydes on the shield, splitting it in two; but Generydes’ blow was so powerful that it toppled Ruben from his horse and Generydes was able to capture the steed and give it to Natanell.

‘Sir, take this horse and give it to my lady, with my compliments, and say that I won him here.’

‘Sir, I know exactly what you want me to do. I will go to her as quickly as I can.’

Natanell led the horse from the fighting, entered the city and went straight to Clarionas.

‘Madam,’ he said. ‘My lord Generydes sends you his humble greetings along with a horse that he has won on the battlefield. He wishes to give it to you. It is the one that king Ruben was riding.’

‘You are very welcome Natanell,’ replied Clarionas. ‘I am delighted to accept it, and even more delighted to hear that he is alive and well.’

‘Madam, I wish with all my heart that he was here with you now.’

‘So do I,’ said Clarionas, and she gave Natanell a ring to give to Generydes, as a token of her love.

Natanell took his leave and returned to the battlefield, where he found Generydes a little way away from the main fighting. He told him everything and gave him the ring, and Generydes was very pleased. He took courage from it and rode back into the thick of the fighting where there were very few, neither young nor old, who could suffer the blows that he gave. King Auferius’s battalion moved towards the city as Generydes rested for a while in the open.

18 Generydes is a rock

The King of Kings was in his pavilion and had no idea that all this was going on outside. He heard a noise and, wondering what it could be, took his horse, rode out and blew his horn so that all his men would hear. They quickly gathered around him, and when Darrel saw the King of King’s knights gathering like this he turned to Generydes and said: ‘For the love of God, let’s get back into the city.’

‘What’s the matter?’ asked Generydes. ‘I can’t see any cause for concern. We’ll have some fun and then get clean away, I promise you.’

‘Alright,’ replied Sir Darrell. ‘Let’s go at them then.’

Sir Ansore was with them, and when Generydes blew his horn, his whole fellowship gathered around him, ready to do whatever he instructed. They prepared for battle, and although there were so few of them, Generydes, Anasore and Darell performed such marvellous feats of arms that each of them killed three enemy knights and the remainder were sent fleeing for their lives.

While this fighting was going on, the city sent out sixty knights, armed with spear and shield. Generydes was very pleased: ‘Lo! Sirs!’ he cried. ‘Now I can return to the city,’ and he put all his forces under their command.

Generydes, Anasore and Darell rode together and made their way to the city gates, where they were welcomed in. Then there was joy, I promise you! There was singing in every street. Celebratory fires were lit and everybody, rich and poor alike, heaped endless praise upon Generydes. The sultan sent for him, thanked him for all he had done and promised that he would never fail to be his friend.

The King of Kings rose early the next morning and sent for craftsmen and engineers to construct siege engines in order to smash a way into the city and lay it waste. But when the equipment was all assembled, king Ermones rose up before them all and addressed king Belyn.

‘I can’t see the necessity for any of this,’ he said. ‘There’s nothing particularly difficult or commendable about destroying this city. It would bring you much more honour, and a more enduring reputation, if you could manage to save the city and win a victory on the field of battle instead.’

‘How will that happen, though?’ asked king Ayeyn. ‘Your advice is sound, I concede, but then all that the people inside the city have to do is to stay within their walls and not come out. What is your advice in this case? What shall we do?’

‘Sir, on my life, this won’t happen. If you put every man into the field, they’ll respond in kind and come out of their city to meet us, I’m certain of this. For there’s one amongst them who will lead them – he’s the best knight in all the world, and the bravest.’

‘Steady on!’ exclaimed the king. ‘That shall be shown to be a lie, for as far as honour and knighthood goes, I know of no man who can prove himself to be as good as me. But nevertheless, let us act on your advice; let’s gather our army once more and soon we’ll see which force is the stronger.’

At once, the army was brought onto the plain in battle formation and it began to approach the city. Madan, the king of Thrace [sic], said: ‘I think we’re doing the right thing. They’ll come out to meet us or else they’ll give in, you’ll see.’

When the people in the city saw the army approaching, they did not hesitate but gathered arms themselves and a great number of men in fine array hurried out to confront the opposing army. The engagement soon began. Sir Darrel spotted King Sanik and ran at him so swiftly that he broke the man’s arm in two. King Barakias, the sovereign of Europe, came forward. Anasore galloped at him and knocked him off his horse so heavily that king Barakias’s leg was broken and he couldn’t get up. The king of Thrace galloped forward – his name was Madan, I believe [sic] – and Generydes rode to meet him, well-armed with a fine spear in his hand that no armour could withstand. He struck Madan so hard that the spear went right through him and the pennon on the end of it was sticking out of his back as he fell to the ground, dead.

The King of Kings saw this and did not loiter but rode as fast as he could to where Madan lay dead. He looked down at him sorrowfully, complaining bitterly since Madan had been a loyal and hardworking friend, and along with Ermones, the king of Upper India, these two were always in his thoughts, and for this reason, and because he had sworn to avenge his death, he was so angry that he rode at once into the thickest of the fighting and came upon Abel who was holding the banner of Persia. His lance went through the man’s shield and armour and wounded him badly. The King of Kings followed up with blows from his sword that the weakened man could not defend, and soon Abel was dead.

Abel was carried from the field with great sorrow, about half a mile, no more, into the city and buried with full honours.

The battle raged on and many lords were slain on both sides, but the sultan’s forces had been so long in the field that they began to tire at last and had to retreat back into the safety of the city. Many of them were killed before making it back.

The sultan was furious to see his knights in such disarray and in full retreat. Generydes, seeing the sultan in such distress, said: ‘Sir, don’t be downhearted. Now the sun shines and now it rains. God sends it all, and although this day has been their victory, another shall be ours. Let’s rest for a day or two, then we’ll be fresh and able to take the battle to them once again, as soon as we can, and with God’s grace, be in no doubt, we will overcome them.’

19 Killed by a devil

The sultan’s forces are rested now and ready to continue the fight; a thousand knights ride out together, each willing to take on his enemy once again, and with the courage to prevail. When the other side saw this, they rode out to meet them.

They made contact in a valley and the battle began at once, there was no truce, no agreement, just full scale conflict. Many knights were killed and Generydes was able to topple from his horse every knight he met with. Sir Anasore and Sir Darell, and all their fellow knights, acquitted themselves marvellously well and slew many knights of king Belyn’s host, until they began to push them backwards and force a full retreat upon their enemy. As they fled, the story tells us that Ermones, the king of Upper India, launched a counter attack with his strange and mighty warriors, just as before, with their foul and terrifying weapons. They flailed about to left and to right, and it didn’t take king Ermones long to spot Sir Anasore and he rode into the attack with his long, grim weapon. He slew Sir Anasore’s horse and hit the knight on the head, leaving him for dead on the ground. But despite all appearances, Sir Anasore was not dead and through the grace of God he was quickly able to get to his feet again. He made his way back to his comrades, his mind full of thoughts of revenge, and taking another horse he rode straight towards a knight of India, splitting his head into two pieces with his sword. The man fell dead to the ground.

When king Ermones learned of this, he was not pleased. He made straight for Generydes, but Generydes was aware of him and rode to meet him with his sword brandished. As soon as he was close enough, King Ermones swung his dreadful mattock at Generydes with all his might and the blow split Generydes’ shield into two pieces before cutting on down through leather and armour so grievously that Generydes was lucky to be alive. But he was able to return a stroke of his own, with his sword, that hit king Ermones on the top of his helmet, splitting his head into two pieces before finishing with the blade in his chest.

King Ermones was dead. His knights disengaged from the battle in order to gather up their king and to bring him away. There was nothing else they could do, and soon they were a long distance from the fighting, dejected and leaderless. As they complained, they were approached by king Belyn, who tried to raise their spirits and encouraged them to turn back towards the fighting, but it was to no avail. One of the Indian knights, whose name was Otran, as the story says, replied:

‘Let us be blunt with you. In that army we’re facing there’s a knight who, whatever he is, he’s no man but a devil I tell you! He’s frightened of nobody. Our king is dead, which is a great tragedy to us for we shall not find another prince like him and it was the devil that killed him’

When the King of Kings heard this, he was downhearted and angry and rode in search of Generydes, coming across him at last in the thick of the battle. But the intensity of the fighting was starting to diminish, because the men of Persia were fortunate enough to have gained the upper hand and their enemies were retreating as fast as they could. When king Belyn saw that his forces were being put to flight and weren’t prepared to fight any more, he resigned himself to defeat and went back to his tent.

Generydes rode into the city with many knights and squires, and everybody welcomed him with open arms. Feasts were prepared. Generydes went to the sultan, who gave him special thanks and great gifts, which were all very well deserved.

PART 3: Supreme

20 Challenge accepted

The King of Kings was in his tent, seething with anger so much that no one could console him. He knew that he could find no contentment until he had fought with Generydes in single combat, just the two of them, and to this end he called a meeting in order to try to bring this about. His lords responded to his summons and when they were all assembled he said to them in a loud voice: ‘Now that you are all here, this is what I want to say. It’s been a quarter of a year since we arrived and we find ourselves no further forward than we were on day one. And yet, I know that it lies within me to destroy this sultan and I have no shortage of provisions from his lands. But nevertheless, if he will agree to find a knight who is sufficiently well-born and of high lineage to fight with me for all this inheritance in single combat, it will make an end to all this war between the two of us, and if he doesn’t do this, I will destroy his lands far and wide, both his land and himself, and moreover, since I wish this thing to be ended as soon as possible, the combat needs to take place within the next four days.’

King Lamadon took it upon himself to reply, without making a very good argument. In fact, this coward did the sultan a service, to be honest, for he was content to simply flatter the King of Kings: ‘My lords,’ he said, ‘it seems to me that the king is absolutely right,’ and quickly advised that a treaty should be made. All the others were happy to go along with this and gave their support. The King of Kings was delighted and appointed three lords to act as messengers, to go to speak with the sultan and all his barons. One of the messengers was from Corinth and his name was Samson, so the story says. The second had been born, as had all his ancestors, in Damascas, the book informs us, a very responsible and a well-respected man, and the third was from Ethiopia, and his name was Jonathas.

These lords set off at once, each carrying an olive branch, as a token of peace, to ensure their safe arrival and safe return, as I understand, since this was the custom at the time. So off they went, to deliver their message to the sultan.

When these messengers were brought before the sultan, they quickly explained everything in full, just as you’ve heard it, but with an extra condition that the King of Kings had instructed them to demand as an alternative, which was this: that he could send his daughter to him, which would mean an end to hostilities at once. They required an answer to this, yes or no.

When they had finished speaking, everybody was silent; not a word was spoken by any knight or lord. The sultan didn’t know what to say. Generydes saw this and approached his lord.

‘Sir, if you will hear what I have to say, I would like, with your permission, to answer on your behalf.’ And turning to the assembled lords he said: ‘These messengers should be left in no doubt that there is one knight here who will undertake to defend this land, for I myself will do it. Here is my glove. I am willing to make an end of this matter within the next four days. King Belyn will do no dishonour to your daughter Clarionas while I have breath left in my body. And if I understood these messengers correctly, no man can take on this enterprise who is not well-born and of true nobility. So I shall tell you now, because it is not well known, that I am a king’s son, and my mother is a queen. So now you all know that although he is a noble prince, it will be no shame for him to fight with me.’

When the sultan understood what Generydes was offering, he was very pleased, and very happy to learn of his pedigree as well. He also felt guilty for treating Generydes as badly as he had done, and began to regret it.

When the messengers had heard what Generydes had to say, one of them said to him: You would be wise to listen to some advice before putting yourself into such danger. You are agreeing to meddle with a prince who has no equal. He is renowned throughout the world for his strength and prowess.

‘King Belyn is a noble knight, undoubtedly’ replied Generydes. ‘But my quarrel is grounded upon right, which gives me the courage to risk my life like this, and I vow that I will not fail to appear before your king at the appointed time. Do you agree to this?’

The messengers took up the glove and carried it back to the King of Kings with a full account of the answer that Generydes had given. At once, the king made preparations. He made a proclamation that there was to be a single combat and that his entire army should retire to a distance of two miles and not to interfere in any way. There was to be no rescue.

The people in the city were not at all happy that Generydes had taken this matter into his own hands, for they loved him very much. ‘There is no better knight anywhere,’ they complained. When Clarionas learned that he was to take on this combat, she was understandably concerned.

‘Mirabel, what should I do? What’s your advice? I wish to God that Generydes would take my advice, which would be to not take on this fight.’

‘Don’t think like that,’ replied Mirabel. ‘He’s taken it on to uphold the right and he cannot back out of it now. Nor will he, Madam.’

‘Then this is what we’ll do. I’ll send my chamberlain, Gwynot to give him this red pennon. And before he goes out to fight, I’ll arrange for him to speak with me, either today or tomorrow.’

‘That’s a great idea,’ enthused Mirabel.

Clarionas instructed her chamberlain: ‘Go quickly to Generydes and take him this red pennon which I’ve embroidered all by myself. And ask him if he will come to see me before he leaves the city.’

So off went her chamberlain. He made his way to Generydes as swiftly as he could, with this token of her love, gave it to him and didn’t forget to ask Generydes to make every effort to go to see his mistress before he left. Generydes was very happy to receive this message and rewarded the chamberlain handsomely. And he gave him a love token to take back to Clarionas, to show her that her message had been truly understood, and he instructed the chamberlain to say that he would come to see her as quickly as he could.

Generydes made his way to Clarionas’s chamber at the first opportunity and found a way to speak with her at leisure, and with no dishonour – at a window, I believe. There was great sadness when he had to leave, and as they said their farewells, they promised to be true to each other. But let us now speak of Belyn, the King of Kings, who looks forward to riding out alone onto the field of battle, with spear and shield.

21 Single combat

On the third morning, as soon as the sun had risen, King Belyn rose and made himself ready. His horse, Morel, was beautifully equipped with embroidered trappings, and the king was magnificently armed in a way that made him look invincible. He wore a beautiful helmet that was embellished with pearls and precious stones as he rode alone onto the field, as had been agreed between the two of them. His people were banished, every one of them, and there he waited, certain that nobody would be so bold as to come out to fight with such a magnificent warrior as he.

Word went out throughout the city that king Belyn was waiting, armed and alone, on the field of battle. Generydes thought he had tarried too long. He had his steed Grissel saddled and made ready – a fine horse, strong and reliable, which the sultan had given him for his own personal and exclusive use. His trappings were of the finest, embellished with magnificent pearls, he was fully armed with a helmet set with precious stones and carried the red pennon that Clarionas had given to him hanging from his spear. Anyone looking would have judged him to be a powerful warrior.

All the people in the city, men and women, began to pray devoutly, beseeching God to give Generydes the success he would need to save their country. Clarionas prayed constantly that the news she would soon receive might be good.

The sultan accompanied Generydes to the city gate, followed by all the citizens, then Gererydes took his leave and rode off into the field. He found the King of Kings riding to and fro and galloped up to him. When the king saw him approaching, he rode to meet him. ‘Tell me, are you a messenger?’ he asked.

‘I am a messenger, yes,’ replied Generydes. ‘I have come from the sultan and this is my message: you do wrong to my lord by making war on him. He told me as I left to tell you to remove yourself from his land immediately, and to be quick about it. Go back to your own land, that’s the best thing for you to do. If you will do this, I shall return as a messenger and faithfully convey your answer to him. But if you will not follow this advice, then you’ll see that I have been lying to you and that I'm not a messenger at all, but shall defend this land myself, as a knight, rightfully to keep it from all bondage and disgrace, with God’s grace, and you’ll come to bitterly regret that you’ve demanded tribute from it.’

When King Belyn heard this and knew why Generydes was there, he turned pale, his mood changed suddenly and he covered himself with his shield. Generydes saw this and did not hesitate but readied his own shield and took up a lance. Without any more ado, they galloped at each other, met violently and struck one another on the shield. Their spears held firm and didn’t break, so they rode on past and prepared for another attack. Both their horses were strong and courageous. Generydes turned his mount and galloped again, striking the King of Kings on the helmet, right in the face, giving him a cruel and significant wound. The king struck Generydes on the side, piercing his armour to the skin and causing the blood to flow; but it was only a flesh wound, by God’s grace.

‘You would appear to have been injured in your side!’ cried king Belyn in mockery. ‘My advice is that you give up this fight at once. Go home, and escape with your life.’

‘I’ll escape with my life, whether you wish me to or not,’ replied Generydes. ‘This bleeding on my side is nothing and only increases my courage. Concern yourself with the wound on your face, for it will leave you with a nasty scar, for as long as you live.’

This made the king angrier still, make no mistake. They circled around one another and then galloped into the attack once again. Their horses met with such ferocity that each of them stumbled and fell, throwing their riders to the ground. The people in the city gasped as they watched this spectacle, fearing for Generydes’ safety. Clarionas was busy at her prayers, fearful how things might turn out.

Generydes and the king were shaken and dismayed, but they both managed to scramble to their feet and in the confusion each mounted the other’s horse, much to their great annoyance. But they drew their swords and fought together viciously, delivering some powerful strokes, Generydes’ sword was a very fine one. The story makes it clear that it had once belonged to the Roman Emperor Julian; the sultan had acquired it after the Emperor’s death and had cherished it night and day, keeping it attentively and tenderly before passing it on to Generydes.

As the battle raged, each of them delivered crushing blows to the other and beat each other savagely. ‘What’s wrong with you, that you take on this fight?’ cried king Belyn at last. ‘You’re foolish to endure pain and exhaustion for something that doesn’t concern you. I invite you to become my man. If you do, there’ll soon be peace between us. I’ll advance you with honour and bestow generous gifts upon you, and I’m in a far better position to do this than the sultan. And as far as Clarionas goes, when she’s mine, here’s a proposal: you can have her whenever you want. If you don’t agree to all this, you need to be absolutely clear that you’ll die at my hands this day. I will give you no more courtesy. I’ve offered you all that I’m prepared to, as a gentleman, and I need an answer from you now, yes or no.’

‘I can see that if I bind myself in your service, there’ll be peace between us,’ replied Generydes. ‘But this possibility has never entered my mind. It’s not in my nature to be unfaithful and I’ll not break a promise for anything. And as for Clarionas, I see that you’re offering her to me, but she doesn’t belong to you so how can you give her as a gift? But I’ll say one thing, if I ever find joy with her, so save me God, it won’t be because I’ve had her off you!’

Then the king became even angrier and they both began exchanging blows with redoubled effort, some frightening strokes that echoed across the plain. The horse that was really the king’s began to tire under Generydes, which worried him greatly, and no wonder. The horse that the king was riding was still strong, barely sweating in fact, despite the fierce battle. When the king saw that Generydes’ horse was faltering he increased his onslaught. Both their horses came together shoulder to shoulder and Generydes’ horse fell, casting him to the ground. The sword fell from his hand, but as God willed he gathered it up and quickly got to his feet again, balanced and in good order. He strode over to King Belyn’s horse and grabbed it by the bridle. The king spurred his horse and would have broken free, but Generydes cried:

‘Stay here, you won’t escape from me like this. This horse has served you well, I’m sorry to say; you have him against my will and you shall have him no longer. This horse is mine, you know it is. Get off him at once, before I make you get off!’

The king tried to break away again, but Generydes held fast to the reins. In the struggle the horse reared and the king fell.

‘A moment ago you had me in this predicament, but now the tables are turned!’ cried Generydes and he took up his sword – Clariet it was called so the story says, no finer one anywhere – and as the king got up and tried to back away, discomforted from the fall, Generydes happily laid into him with this sword. He cut off a quarter of the king’s shield and the blade carried on down to the king’s knee where it tore away the armour and left the knee bare for all to see. King Belyn was livid and struck at Generydes with all his strength, wounding him badly in the teeth.

‘By all accounts, I seem to have paid you back, and I’m happy about that!’ he cried. ‘The next blow I give will leave you in no doubt. I’ll have the advantage from now on.’

This made Generydes angry and they laid into one another with increased ferocity, until Generydes delivered such a stroke upon the king’s helmet that his face became fully exposed; the sword was sharp and it ran down by the king’s ear and cut it off. The ear fell onto the grass. King Belan was astonished and confounded. They were both very weary, I can tell you, despite their strength and endurance and their strong hearts, and there wasn’t a piece of armour that wasn’t bent or out of place, plate or mail, it was all wrong, and no wonder, they’d been fighting for such a long time. And yet, in anger and pain, the king attacked Generydes once more and struck him on the head so hard that Generydes didn’t know where he was for a moment.

‘If you’d listened to my advice,’ cried the king, ‘you wouldn’t be in this plight.’

‘If I haven’t listened to a word you’ve said, believe me, I have no regrets on that score,’ cried Generydes and he struck the king so hard on the head that the edge cut down dreadfully into the side that was already injured and it bled so much that the king could no longer remain on his feet. He fell to the ground and lay unconscious for lack of blood.

Generydes stood and looked at him. Then out of pity he took him up and dragged him onto his shield, and the king said softly: ‘Here is my sword, I yield it to you. You are the worthiest knight I have ever fought against. I relinquish my claims to this land, and to Clarionas as well. You’ll have to work hard to win her, though, unless she loves you already. But grant me this before you leave: that I might return to where my people are, so that I can be taken back to my own country.’

‘I will do this for you, certainly’ said Generydes, and he lifted the king in his two arms and set him gently onto his horse. Then the king rode on, slowly and solemnly, and when his people saw how injured he was, they came to meet him very despondently.

Generydes rested on the plain, weary and faint, it’s no disgrace to admit. When he had rested for a while, he headed back towards the city, and those who were there knew well enough that it was he, by his arms, and were very happy to see him riding towards them on his own, with his two swords. The lords rushed outside the city to meet him, and all the citizens as well – there were minstrels playing various instruments, priests and prelates in royal procession and children singing so happily that I can’t find the words to describe it.

Clarionas was as pleased as anybody, although she kept her composure and contained her joy within her own heart and mind.

PART 4: Excursion to Egypt

22 Like father, like son

Generydes was led directly to the sultan, who thanked him profusely and gave him great gifts for his service. Good surgeons were summoned from all over the place, the best that could be found, and it didn’t take them long to declare that Generydes would soon be fit and well again, for they could heal every wound and injury that he had, which the sultan was very pleased to hear.

King Belyn lay grievously ill and told his lords who were standing before him that he relinquished all his claims regarding Persia and Clarionas, His wounds were bleeding so much that nobody had any confidence that he would live, and he died within a day or two.

His people made great sorrow and prepared to take the body back to Egypt, with much lamentation and regret. And when this was done, with great honour and solemnity, the lords all returned to their own districts. But let us leave them all in their own lands, for the moment. They’ll be sent for again soon. Very soon, in fact, because king Belyn’s son Gwynan desires to be their king and sovereign, and they agree to this, that he alone should rule over them all. And to keep it brief, by the unanimous consent of all the land of Egypt, he was crowned and made king. Then he said to them all: ‘Regarding such matters as my father had in hand, concerning the sultan and Clarionas, you should know how I feel regarding this, and as far as the land of Persia is concerned, I’ll tell you my thoughts plainly. My lord and father relinquished all his claims to it, yet despite that, I did not give my assent to the decision and I do not agree with it. And as for Clarionas – the same is true. I’m not happy with the way things were concluded, and I did not agree to it.’

There was a man of great power in that land, a man held in high esteem by the king and trusted by the people, an intelligent man and a good organiser and his name was Sir Euell, so the story tells us. The king consulted him in secret and said: ‘I’ll tell you what happened to me once: I caught sight of the beautiful Clarionas and fell in love with her. I’d have done anything I could to possess her, but I restrained myself while my father was alive. But now that he’s dead, I ask you to give me your advice. How best can my desire be satisfied?’

‘I would be very pleased to help you achieve everything you want,’ the knight answered. ‘I’ll give it my best attention and my most careful thought. To begin with, I must have a ship that is strong and seaworthy, fast when its sails are full, and it should be provisioned with enough men and supplies for seven years. Given this much time, I assure you, I’ll be able to send her back to this country, and hopefully much sooner than this.’

The king was content with this promise and thanked him heartily. A ship was provided, just as you’ve heard described, and just as Fortune stores up her thanks and saves her favours for those who deserve it the least, so the wind turned immediately into the right direction and with a favourable breeze, Sir Euell set sail, and I believe that it was not very many days before he saw the land of Persia coming into view. When he approached the coast he found an inlet and steered for it, and when they were safely inside an estuary, they quickly cast out the anchors, for they intended to stay for a while. On the shores of this inlet lay a fair city, stretching along the banks of a river, and this knight rowed for land with only two others and a third acting as guide. The rest were to stay with the ship for a day or two, and then they had orders to disguise themselves as merchants and make their way independently to the city, to buy and sell as other merchants were doing, until such time as they heard from him again.

So off he went, and on the plain he met an old man with long hair and a shaggy beard, like a pilgrim, and this knight said to him: ‘Father, what time is it?’

‘It’s two o’clock in the afternoon.’

‘I’m hoping to visit this town, if I may, and then return to my ship.’

‘You’ll have plenty of time to do that today.’

‘What’s this town called?’

‘Sir, it’s called Clarionet.’

‘Good father, I’d be delighted to know where the sultan is staying. Tell me please, so that I can witness his splendour.’

‘The sultan, sir? He’s at Mountoner, which is a very wealthy city. I was there recently, in fact, and he was arranging a great festival when I left. There’s a knight called Generydes whom he’s made the steward of all the land. This knight fought a single combat with King Belyn and won a victory over him and kept this land from slavery and peril. He’s in love with Clarionas, the sultan’s daughter, has been for a long while, and because she seems pretty much in love with him as well – that’s what everybody at the court is saying – those in the know reckon they’ll be married soon.’

‘Father, I would ask you, because you obviously know this country very well, could you give me directions to this city? I’ll pay you handsomely.’

‘I’d be delighted to. See that forest over there? That’s the way you’ll have to take, it’s the most direct route. That road will bring you onto a plain which will take you four days to cross, and at the end of the fourth day, you’ll see the city ahead of you.’

Sir Euell rewarded the man very generously and set off in the direction he had indicated. Just after noon on the fourth day, he came into sight of the city and by three o’clock in the afternoon, Sir Euell entered the city of Mountoner. He went straight to the sultan and when he was able to speak to him, he prepared to deliver his pack of lies.

‘Sir, may it please you to hear why I’m here. The truth is that I’ve come to offer you my service. King Gwynon has banished me from his lands – let me explain the reason for this: his father made a claim to this country, a claim to which I was always opposed, and therefore his son now bears great animosity towards me. His father was killed here, in this land, and ever since that moment I’ve been in fear of my life. I can no longer remain in Egypt.’

‘You are welcome,’ replied the sultan. ‘It stands to reason that I must look after you, since you’ve suffered for your loyalty to me. You shall be in service at my court, and if you’ve felt any grief before, your pleasure from now on will more than compensate for it.’

Sir Euell bided his time, serving conscientiously, happy to prosper and displaying all the noble virtues, being polite and friendly to everyone, and all the time concealing his deceit and hiding his true motives and treasonable intent. And one day, when the sultan was walking to and fro in a garden by himself, Sir Euell saw that he was alone and went to speak to him.

‘May I tell you something in private?’ he asked. ‘It will be to your benefit to hear it. There’s a knight here in your palace called Generydes, who occupies himself tirelessly by scheming how to make off with your daughter Clarionas. He’s constantly waiting for an opportunity to bring this about, if he may. I’m telling you the truth.’

The sultan believed every word that he said. ‘What do you advise me to do?’ he asked.

‘Do as I shall say and I promise that he won’t succeed. Go deer hunting tomorrow and you’ll quickly learn the truth of the matter. Take Generydes with you, although he’ll try to make excuses not to go and he’ll almost certainly ride back early, but then you’ll be able to see what he does next. It’ll be best if I stay behind and lie low. In that way, he won’t be able to achieve what he desires.’

23 Deceit

The sultan agreed to this plot that Sir Euell had concocted and organised a hunting trip into the forest, taking Generydes with him and a suitable number of other knights as well. As soon as Sir Euell was sure that the sultan had gone off, he sent a man to go as quickly as he could to his ship to give the command to make it ready to sail. Then he took his two squires outside and said: ‘Help me to put my armour on, then arm yourselves as well and make sure that nobody sees you. But be ready on horseback outside the city, and wait there until I arrive.’

Sir Euell’s horse was made ready, and then he went off towards Clarionas’s private chamber. ‘Madam,’ he said when he arrived. ‘My lord, your dear father, has sent me to convey a message to you.’

‘Please tell me what my father wants,’ she replied.

‘Madam, he’s having such a wonderful time in the forest that he’d like you to be there with him, so that you can enjoy it as well.’

‘What a lovely excuse to go hunting!’ Clarionas exclaimed. ‘I would be delighted to comply with his command.’

Two riding ponies were quickly saddled and fetched from the stables, one for Clarionas and another for Mirabel, and they set off at once. As arranged, Sir Euell’s two squires were waiting outside the city wall. Clarionas rode onwards, oblivious to what was going on. When they were about two miles outside the city, Mirabel began to suspect that something was wrong, for she could see that Sir Euell was leading them away from the forest. As discreetly as she could, she persuaded her lady to dismount.

Sir Euell kept his composure and managed to conceal his anger.

‘Madam,’ said Mirabel. ‘It’s clear to me that this isn’t right. God knows, this isn’t the way!’

As they sat together nervously, Natanell came galloping into view, in full pursuit of a stag. Mirabel waved her scarf at him in order to attract his attention and courteously, he abandoned his chase and came riding up.

‘Natanell, for God’s love, help us!’ she exclaimed. ‘Sir Euell has betrayed my lady here, by telling us that her father requested her presence at the chase, so that she might enjoy the hunting and see him riding after the deer. But now I see that this cannot be true. So please, go to your master and tell him that there’s something wrong. He’ll come at once, I’m sure – say that he needs to get here as quickly as possible.’

‘I’ll go as fast as I can,’ said Natanell.

Natanell rode straight to the city, gathered Generydes’s armour and then rode back into the forest to give it to him, telling him all that he’d been told. When Generydes understood that Mirabel feared treason, he abandoned his hunting and rode off at once.

Clarionas was almost distraught. Sir Euell tried to placate and comfort her: ‘Madam,’ he said. ‘I can promise you, you’ll be married to a king, the mightiest in all the world, so don’t be dismayed. Let these anxieties slip away.’

Just as he said this, Generydes emerged from the forest, armed and riding as hard as he could. He rode straight for Sir Euell with his sword drawn. When Sir Euell saw him coming, he tried to put on a show of innocence, although he was really very frightened. Attempting a calm and friendly manner he said:

‘Good sir, there’s no need to be like this. I can explain everything. This is how things stand. The noble king of Egypt desires to have this lady as his wife. It’s for this reason that I’m here in this country. This is the truth, I assure you, and I have no desire to displease the sultan, or you, in any way, you must believe this. Such thoughts could not be further from my mind. Take this lady by the hand and I shall go back into the city, so that no man shall think the worse of me. And I beg you not to repeat anything that I have told you here in confidence. But it’s too late in the day for you to travel any distance with her now. Go back with her to the city at first light tomorrow.’

‘I shall do that,’ said Generydes, not realising that the man intended to betray him immediately. Generydes quickly and innocently made a lodge for Clarionas and another for himself, and there they rested for the night.

In accordance with his dastardly subterfuge, Sir Euell went straight to the sultan, deciding to be forthright. ‘Concerning your daughter and Generydes,’ he said, ‘you’ll see that it’s exactly as I predicted. They’re already outside the city and intend to elope together. If you go at once, you’ll find them. I shall be your guide.’

‘Yes,’ said the sultan. ‘I shall ride there, and we shall go as fast as we can, secretly, just you and me.’

24 Abduction

The sultan and Sir Euell rode out, and Sir Euell asked if Generydes could be killed, as his principal reward for rendering this service to him. The sultan agreed to this. Shortly, by the side of the forest, they came to a lodge. The sultan went in while Sir Euell kept watch outside. Within, the sultan saw Generydes asleep. He was still wearing his armour, his sword was drawn and lying on the ground. The sultan was very reluctant to kill him, remembering the service that Generydes had performed for him on many occasions in the past, more than any other man, in fact, and for this reason he did not act hastily but left him lying there. The sultan picked up the sword that was on the ground and placed his own there in its place.

Nearby he found another lodge where Clarionas and Mirabel lay sleeping inside. The sultan looked closely at his daughter’s face to make sure that it was her, they were both sleeping so soundly, then he lifted his daughter up and carried her in his arms out of the lodge and gave her to Sir Euell. She was still sleeping. He told Sir Euell that he had killed Generydes. When Sir Euell heard this he was very pleased, as you can imagine.

The sultan returned to his knights and huntsmen and Sir Euell promised to take Clarionas back to the city and return her to her chamber. But his intentions were quite the opposite. The sultan thought that his daughter would soon be safely back in her own bed, but in fact, Sir Euell intended to abduct her.

Clarionas awoke, and when she saw what was happening, she was truly distraught. God knows, her situation is piteous and it’s no wonder she’s terrified. She would much rather die than have this happen to her. Sir Euell set Clarionas upon a riding pony and led her towards the ship.

Generydes awoke as soon as it was light and found Mirabel alone.

‘Where is my sweet lady Clarionas?’ he asked.

Mirabel woke up, saw that Clarionas wasn’t there and screamed. ‘Alas! What’s happened?’ she cried. ‘My lady’s vanished! This treason is all Sir Euell’s doing – I’ve been dreaming about him all night. I pray that God might give him sorrow now! This is the second time that he’s betrayed us!’

‘But is she gone?’ asked Generydes.

‘Yes,’ replied Mirabel. ‘Oh God, what a disaster!’

‘What should I do?’

‘Go after her! Go as quickly as you can! ‘I’ll go to the sultan,’ said Mirabel. ‘I’ll tell him everything, as soon as I possibly can, for he’ll trust that I’m speaking the truth.’

Generydes readied his armour in preparation for a hot pursuit, searched for his sword and found that it was gone; there was another one in its place. He recognised it at once as the sultan’s.

‘My lord the sultan has been here,’ he confided to Mirabel. ‘This is a great comfort to me, because he must know now that I’m blameless in this, otherwise he would have killed me as I slept, that’s for sure.’

‘I think you’re right,’ agreed Mirabel. ‘I’ll tell him the truth when I see him, and I’ll speak to him as soon as I can find him.’

‘Tell Natanell to ride after me as quickly as he can.’

‘I certainly will,’ she replied. ‘Ride as swiftly as you can, with God’s grace.’

25 Hot pursuit

Generydes rode onwards, looking for Sir Euell, intending to capture him. Mirabel lost no time but went to look for the sultan, to tell him what had happened. But the sultan already knew. Someone had already told him that they’d seen Sir Euell with Clarionas and he was in a terrible state. He rode at once, with a large company, to the place where he’d last seen Generydes, in order to discover more. On the way, deep in thought and weighed down with worry, he met Mirabel.

‘Tell me, where is my daughter now?’ he asked her, urgently.

‘Sir, she’s been betrayed!’ Mirabel replied anxiously. ‘Sir Euell said that you’d sent for her and that he was carrying out your instructions, but on the way it was clear to me that he wasn’t telling the truth, so we managed to stop and dismount and Generydes rode up to rescue her, but the day was nearly gone by then so he thought it best if we stayed where we were for the night; but while we slept, this cursed knight Sir Euell must have abducted her! I know it was him. As for Generydes, I can say with the utmost conviction that he’s not the sort of man who would dishonour your daughter in any way, and never will, while breath remains in his body.’

‘I believe you, Mirabel. With his flattery and fine talking, Sir Euell’s deceived us both. But where’s Generydes now?’

‘Sir, he’s gone after him. He instructed me to tell you this.’

‘What do you think is the best thing for me to do?’

‘Generydes has gone after this knight to capture him if he can, and with good fortune he'll be able to succeed – he’ll do his utmost to do so, I assure you.’

As they were speaking, Natanell approached them as fast as he could ride. Mirabel saw quickly who it was and frantically waved him to a stop. Immediately, he reined in his horse and asked: ‘Tell me, how can I help?’

‘Sir Euell has abducted Clarionas, while we were both sleeping. Generydes has gone after him and wants you to follow him as quickly as you can.’

‘Mistress,’ replied Natanell, ‘Trust me, I’ll ride like the wind.’

26 Across the sea

Sir Euell reached the ship. All was ready to take fair Clarionas away and it was not long before they were under sail. When Generydes arrived, Sir Euell recognised him immediately, by his stature and by his features, and called out to him on the shore.

‘Generydes, you’ve come too late to take her back! You slept for too long, and I was awake to my opportunities! My intention all along was to blacken your name in the eyes of the sultan, while I served at court. I’ll take no notice of any of your threats. You’ve lost her.’

Generydes was beside himself with grief to hear himself being mocked in this way, but there was nothing that he could do about it. Clarionas gazed down at him and fainted with grief herself. Sir Euell was left in no doubt how upset she was because, as the story tells us, she fainted fifteen times! He tried his best to comfort her and to lift her spirits, but it was all to no effect.

Generydes rode the length of the harbour looking for a ship and found a large, well-built galley with a good complement of men on board. The master of the ship was with his crew and Generydes went to speak with him.

‘Where have you sailed from? Which country? Tell me the truth.’ He asked.

The ship’s master saw Generydes armed and dressed as a knight, guessed by his demeanour that he was a man of some power and so, to tell the truth, he was a little frightened of him and said:

‘Sir, please don’t be offended, but because I don’t know who you are you must understand that I’d like to have my fears put to rest.’

‘You’re safe,’ Generydes assured him. ‘There’s nothing to fear. It’s just that I have some business I need to do and I want to ask your advice.’

‘Then my opinion will be that of a simple man, sir, but I’ll be happy to give it. I’ll tell you how we come to be here: I’m from Syria and from those parts, where king Auferius rules through marriage and where he’s living with all his lords and noblemen. When I left port, there were a hundred ships there – I was part of that fleet – bound for India in order to win back king Auferius’s right to kingship there and, to tell you the truth, the right of his sons as well. One of them is a fine-looking young man call Ismael the Wild. His father has given him Thrace to rule over. Furthermore, he has a brother, as I understand it, as good a knight as there is in any land. His name is Generydes, and when king Auferius is dead he shall have Syria to rule over, and all of India if it can be won back again. That’s the whole point. My job is to come to this land and look for him, and I’ve already learned that he’s here. If you know where I can find him, please tell me, I’d be very pleased to know.’

Generydes reflected upon how he was not one to give away his identity so easily, and yet he said: ‘My friend, I’ll speak plainly to you. I’m the man you’re looking for. My name is Generydes and king Auferius is my father. But I’m full of cares at the moment, because so much has happened in the last few days that you wouldn’t believe it! My lord’s daughter Clarionas has been faithlessly and deceitfully betrayed. Only a moment ago she was under sail in this very harbour, abducted by an Egyptian knight.’

‘Then don’t be downhearted. This ship isn’t here to carry cargo. Take my advice and with God’s grace we’ll catch up with her – we’ll make the ship ready and if you come with us, you’ll overtake him easily.’

’Agreed,’ said Generydes. ‘For Christ’s sake, let’s go!’

So the master of the vessel made the ship ready as quickly as he could, and Generydes prepared to sail with them. And when they were ready to depart, Natanell appeared on the quayside, leading his master’s horse. When Generydes spotted him, he was very happy to see his friend and asked the ship’s master to delay embarkation for a moment, while they loaded the horses on board.’

Now Generydes and the ship’s master are on the open sea.

They unfurled the sails and made good progress, until the wind began to drop; and if this hadn’t happened, in all honesty, they would have overtaken them without any trouble at all. But shortly afterwards, Sir Euell made land with Clarionas.

Sir Euell guided Clarionas onwards, for he knew Egypt very well. He led her straight to where King Gwynon lived, in a palace in a city called Egidias. Only a few hours after Sir Euell’s ship made land, the galley arrived carrying Generydes. The men on board decided to pretend that they were merchants, to act not at all like men of war but as peaceful traders, taking on this disguise in order to listen to all the gossip and the news.

When word came to king Gwynon that Sir Euell had landed with Clarionas, there was no happier man alive. Nobody could have been more ecstatic than he. The city organised feasts and celebrations, knights rode out to meet her and the king followed behind, wearing his most sumptuous regalia.

27 Generydes rescues Clarionas

King Gwynon of Egypt sent word to all his noblemen that they should come to celebrate his wedding. In response to this instruction, they all arrived in the city and as custom dictated – as it always does in the event of a royal wedding – to be brief, there was a solemn feast that lasted for many days, as my author explains, and adherence to another longstanding custom, which was that whenever a king was married in that land, during the course of the formal gathering, the king and his new spouse couldn’t meet with one another until the feast was over.

There’s no way that strength and courage alone will accomplish what you want,’ cautioned the ship’s master to Generydes, ‘But I can devise a ploy that, if all goes well. will help you to achieve everything you want. I have a thing that you can put on your face which will make you seem like a leper – but don’t worry, it only takes a short while to remove, you can do that whenever you want, and your face will be as fair and unblemished, as clean and healthy-looking as it always was, after a single wash. However, you should exchange your clothes with some poor man and wear his rags, have some token about you that she’ll recognise and then find a place to stand on the route that she takes to pass to and fro from the palace. Play your part as well as God gives you the grace to and I promise, she’ll find a way to arrange a meeting with you. As to the rest, you’ll have to arrange it between yourselves, but I advise that you ask Natanell to be ready to bring your horse to you at a moment’s notice.’

Generydes followed the man’s advice and exchanged his clothes with a beggar. The poor man thought it was for his benefit and was very pleased, for he was in great need.

‘When were you last at the court?’ Generydes asked him.

‘I’ve come from there today,’ the man replied. ‘I saw the queen in all her royal splendour, but I thought, as she came from the temple, that she didn’t like the pomp and ceremony and seemed very displeased about something, although I shouldn’t say this, I know.’

‘Now go, father, and may Jesus guide you.’

Generydes made his way to the court, his cloths torn, holding his cup and his clapper. He had laid an ointment on his face to bring about the effect he was intending, and found a place to stand right where he wanted, outside the temple where she would see him. When he’d rested for a moment he put a ring on his finger so she would see it, and when she emerged from the temple he pushed his way through the crowd towards her, asking for alms – for Saint Charity! – and she noticed the ring on his finger and recognised it.

‘I shall soon get some news,’ she thought to herself. ‘Good man, where are you from?’ she asked.

‘Madam, I shall tell you the truth. ‘I was conceived in India and born in Syria, and in all honesty I’ve just come from Persia, where I’ve been living ever since I became a young man. You are a lady born of that country and God has led me to you to beg that I might be your alms man.’

The queen replied with a demure countenance: ‘You can be sure of my alms.’

At once, she instructed that he should be brought to her private rooms. He was taken very shortly to her chamber and there he spoke with her alone.

‘Madam, don’t be dismayed. Although my face is not very pleasant to look at, it will all wash off, but trust me when I tell you that I’m your true servant Generydes.’

‘Generydes!’ she exclaimed. No, it can’t be! I don’t believe you!’

‘Madam, you’ll soon be in no doubt. If it pleases you to look at a ring I have here, you’ll recognise it as one that you gave to me. And although I seem to be a leper, it’s just a disguise, that’s all.’

‘I know this ring,’ she replied. ‘But as for yourself, this makes me wonder all the more.’

Generydes was carrying some water with him and he quickly used it to wash away all the disguise, so that he was soon as handsome as he’d ever been. When she saw that it was him, she took him into her arms, and was so pleased that she couldn’t utter a word.

‘Madam,’ said Generydes. ‘Truly, it is possible, if you wish to give up all this splendour and if it pleases you to set some time and place, then Natenall and I can be there with horses, by God’s grace, all saddled and ready, whenever you wish. There’s a ship ready to sail, just waiting for me to return with you.’

‘Generydes, I can’t believe that you have any doubt that I might wish to return with you. Even if he was the king of ten realms I’d go with you! You must believe this. Let’s make plans at once. You can come into my garden at nightfall, you and Natanell. Stay together and keep out of sight; there are shrubberies to hide in and trees to conceal you. I’ll be there, I promise you, when darkness falls.’

Generydes went out of the castle and into the forest to meet up with Nathanell again. He took off his ragged garment, threw his dish, his clapper and everything else away, and dressed himself in his normal clothes. Then he made his way to the garden as they had arranged.

Clarionas is deep in thought, trying to think of a plan that will allow her to grab this opportunity. At last she remembered someone she felt she could confide in, a laundress, and she explained to her what she wanted to do.

‘You’re a woman who can be trusted, more than any in this place, so I’d be pleased to let you in on what I’m thinking,’ she said.

‘At your pleasure, madam. Whatever you wish. I’ll be happy to do anything for you, if it lies within my power.’

‘Thank you,’ replied Clarionas. ‘I am a stranger here in this country and, well, I’ll tell you plainly, the king, who is my lord and sovereign, is the man I’ve set my heart upon. I think about him day and night. My greatest fear is that he will not love me. But if the stars and my actions allow it, I hope and trust to God that I will stay foremost in his thoughts, wherever he is, and enjoy his favour for longer than any other woman. I would like to go into my garden, when it is pitch dark and the stars are all out, to study the sky and to see how I may best proceed; but I must go in disguise, so that no one will recognise me. I could wear your shawl and each of us could wear a headdress and veil. This is what I’d like to do.’

‘Madam, I will be your servant and keep everything you’ve told me to myself. I trust no fault shall be found in me. Here’s my hand as a pledge. I wouldn’t betray you for anything.’

Straight away and as quickly as she could, the laundress went to her house and returned with a shawl. As the day drew to a close and darkness descended, the queen took off all her fine accoutrements and put on the plain shawl, tucked up her skirts so that her legs were bare and hung a veil over her face from a headdress. Then they each bound up their hair and hurried off – they had no need of a guide.

‘Wait! Wait!’ exclaimed the laundress. ‘Your white legs will give us away.’

‘You’re right. Do you know what you have to do?’ said the queen. ‘Go and fetch some water and a cup of ashes, and then, when my legs are washed in it, the white will all be gone.’

So the laundress did this, and then they went off towards the garden. They crept through the hall, softly and unnoticed, then through the court, before meeting by chance with the cursed Sir Euell. Clarionas heard someone speaking ahead of them and recognised the voice. There was no way of avoiding him. She stopped and drew back a little, but he spotted her and approached.

‘Whom have you here?’ he asked, addressing the laundress. ‘I think it’s a pretty maid. Am I right?’ and he began to lift up the veil. Clarionas was so frightened that her headdress began to fall, but the laundress thought quickly and said: ‘Stop it! By heaven’s king! Leave my maid alone, sir. We’re both in a dreadful hurry. These are the queen’s clothes and we have to have them ready for her again tomorrow.’

‘And yet I must ask you again. Who is she and where is she from?’

‘Sir, what is the point of causing a scene here? If you want to do the right thing and satisfy yourself regarding her, then I advise that we meet at a more convenient time. This is how it is: I’m her mistress and her guardian. Her father is a merchant of this town. There’s a knight who woos her every hour of the day, not for marriage but just for sex, and her friends want to protect her from him. It’s for this reason that she’s here with me now. But notwithstanding, go to my house and wait there until I’ve finished this washing, then I’ll do this much for you: I’ll bring her with me when I come home, then you’ll be able to see her and speak to her as much as you want, and you’ll be able to do so in the privacy of my house.’

‘Will you do this for me? Then I agree.’

He left them standing there and hurried towards the laundress’s house as quickly as he could. The laundress went off with Clarionas in an entirely different direction and they arrived in the garden. They took off their headdresses.

‘Now, fair Madam,’ said the laundress. ‘I suggest that you do what you want to do as quickly as you can.’

Natanell shortly appeared. Clarionas saw him at once.

‘Where is your master?’ she asked.

‘Here in the garden. He’s waiting for you. Everything is ready.’

Clarionas was very pleased to hear this, but the laundress was dismayed.

‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ she said, suddenly. ‘We’re not doing anything you said, or anything you described. Madam, what’s going on?’

‘Don’t be angry,’ replied Clarionas. ‘I’ll tell you the truth.’

‘No, I don’t want to know what’s going on! I don’t like it. I’m going to call for help!’

‘No! You promised me that you would keep faith and not betray me! If you call for help, you should know that it will harm you every bit as much as it will harm me. It’s much better for you to do as I advise and it will surely be to your advantage. I’ll tell you everything. There’s a knight nearby whom I love more than anybody in the world and he loves me just as much in return. He’ll be here in a moment. We’re going to go back together, to my own country. Why don’t you come along with us? If you stay here, you’ll live in fear and anxiety – I can’t imagine any other outcome – and I can promise that if you do as I ask, I’ll do everything in my power to make your life a comfortable and happy one.’

The laundress considered how she’d already deceived Sir Euell and that if she stayed behind she’d be in deep trouble, for certain.

‘I agree, then. I’ll go with you,’ she said.

Clarionas was very pleased to hear this; not least because she would otherwise have been the only woman there, which wouldn’t have been an honourable situation for her to be in. As the three of them went off together, Generydes came into the garden and, for a moment, he didn’t know which one of them was Clarionas.

‘Where are you, my lady?’ he asked.

But why string this story out? Clarionas sat behind Generydes, Natanell lifted the laundress onto his horse and they all rode away. All this while, Sir Euell was waiting for the laundress to bring the girl to him, as she’d said she would. And as the saying goes, some beat around the bush while others get straight to the point, and whether I’m brave enough to do that or not, I have to be true to my source because that’s the task I’ve been entrusted with, and if a man intends to commit a shameful act, it’s no sin to say so outright. At last, Sir Euell began to give up hope of the laundress ever arriving with the girl and strode off, feeling aggrieved, towards the queen’s chamber.

‘Where is the queen?’ he shouted. ‘Tell me at once.’

‘She was here a short while ago, with the laundress.’

When he heard this, his heart froze, guessing instantly what might have happened.

‘That unhappy laundress is the cause of all this, for certain,’ he thought. ‘But I’ll do my best to seize Generydes, and if I succeed, God help them all!’

He armed himself and, leaving his palace duties unattended to, rode off as quickly as he could, with only his page for company. He rode hard after Generydes and at last caught sight of him. Clarionas was the first to spot Sir Euell behind them.

‘Here comes your mortal enemy!’ she cried to Generydes. ‘He terrifies me! But now’s your chance. Don’t be deceived by anything he says, and don’t let him escape.’

‘There’s no need to be frightened,’ replied Generydes. ‘Before I finish with him, he’ll be more than pleased to abandon this quarrel.’

Clarionas dismounted and Generydes took up his arms, while Natanell stood by with his lance. Sir Euell galloped towards Generydes and struck him on the shield. Generydes managed to escape unharmed from this blow, turned his horse and attacked Sir Euell in return, shattering Sir Euell’s shield with his lance and injuring him so severely that he fell to the ground. He captured Sir Euell’s horse, a fine and mighty steed, and gave it to Natanell to look after.

‘Look after this horse well, for it’s a good one.’

Then Generydes dismounted. Sir Euell saw that there was nothing else for it, so he struggled onto his knees and said: ‘Mercy, Generydes. I have offended you. I shall do so no more.’

‘Don’t trust him!’ cried Clarionas, anxiously. ‘If you do, you’ll regret it. Remember that he’s deceived you twice already!’

She was right. Generydes knew this. Clarionas looked and saw that Sir Euell was concealing a knife in his hand. ‘Look out!’ she shouted. ‘He’s got a dagger!’

Sir Euell lunged forwards and caught Generydes on the thigh; he’d been waiting for such an opportunity, only pretending to be badly injured. Generydes cried out in anger and split Sir Euell’s head into two halves with his sword. Then he leapt back onto his horse, setting Clarionas, his dear lady, behind him, Natanell set the laundress on his own horse and they all rode off together, free now from any danger, and chatting merrily about what had just happened.

28 Threat or premonition?

Generydes and his companions rode steadily onwards until they came to the sea. The master of the ship was very pleased to see them and let them all safely aboard his vessel.

Sir Euell’s page put his master’s body on his horse and carried it to the court. King Gwynon was very aggrieved when he saw it. He made great lamentation for Sir Euell and urged the page to tell him exactly what had happened. ‘Now I’ve lost my greatest friend!’ he complained, and was so disconsolate and unhappy that the entire court became very concerned.

‘There is no one Clarionas loves more than Generydes,’ declared the page, as he explained the circumstances of Sir Euell’s death to the king. ‘Generydes, that valiant knight, killed my lord last night and led Clarionas away. She’s been his love for a long time – it was a mistake for Sir Euell to bring her here, and he’s found his death because of it.’

‘Alas’ cried the king. ‘This news is very unwelcome. But there’s no need to follow them. I’ll be meeting with them again, soon enough, I can assure you.’

PART 5: War in India

29 Urgent summons

Generydes found good weather and they very quickly crossed the sea back to Persia. Everyone was pleased to see him, and Generydes sent a messenger to the sultan to tell him that they’d arrived back. The sultan rejoiced to hear it and went to meet them. He welcomed his daughter with great happiness, and welcomed Generydes back very sincerely as well. All the lords of the land came to greet them, and there were games and entertainments galore as the sultan organised a feast in the city.

Just as they were being served the first course at this celebratory feast, three knights entered the hall and bowed before the sultan. They carried a letter for him; he broke the seal and read it at once. This was what it said:

‘Auferius, the king of Thrace and Syria, humbly requests, if it may please your sense of honour, that you allow his son Generydes, who is the rightful heir of the kingdom of Syria, to go to his father so that he might accompany king Auferius into India to fight against Sir Amelock – who holds my lands unlawfully and has done so for many years – and when India is quickly won, Generydes, who is the king’s eldest son, shall be given that land as a gift, and when his mother dies he shall inherit Syria as well. Sir Ismael the Wild, king Auferius’s youngest son, shall inherit Thrace when his father is dead, with Generydes’ blessing it is hoped, so that there shall be no ill-feeling. The king’s army is gathered and all his ships are ready to sail, so the king eagerly and faithfully requests that you send his dear son Generydes to Syria as quickly as possible, to help to win back his inheritance in India.’

The knights delivered this message, the sultan read and understood the letter, and he reflected upon the good service he had always had from Generydes and marvelled that the young man had never told him that he was king Auferius’s son. Before now he’d had no idea – even when Generydes had been so eager to please him for the sake of his daughter Clarionas. He called for Generydes and when he arrived, he explained everything to him, read him the letter and made a great fuss of him.

‘Now I know that you’re a king’s son, I’ll treat you with the respect that is due to you. And especially for the good service that you’ve given me. Through the skill and strength of your hands you’ll soon be the king of many countries, and more honour even than this shall come your way if you take my advice, for I shall give you half of Persia to rule over as well, while I live, and the whole if it when I’m dead, if you will take my daughter Clarionas as your wife, to live with in great joy, for she is a noble young lady and comes with a fine dowry. I’m sure she will not be against this marriage.’

There is no man on Earth,’ replied Generydes, with great humility, ’be he a duke, a king or an emperor, who can offer a more valuable thing than the hand in marriage of his daughter and heir. I will be true to you forevermore. But Sir, I beg you not to take this the wrong way, but grant me, if you would, that I may go with my father into India, for if the campaign goes well, I hope to be crowned king. Then my lady, your daughter, shall be a queen, with a great deal more honour, to you as well as to her, than if I was to marry her now. So let me put off this marriage until I have won India, and then, when I am king there, you will certainly not find me faithless. I shall marry your daughter then, and no other, if she and you agree; for truly, Sir, I love her so much that I would do anything for her and nothing to harm her, and by that Lord who sits above, although she’s my greatest love, there’s never been any impropriety between us and I have never let her down, neither in word, deed or even thought, unless you count the time when I slept so soundly that I let Sir Euell deceive me and carry her off. The only villainy I’ve ever done to my lady was to allow her to be taken in that way, and the man has now paid the ultimate price for it.

‘Sir, give me a hundred knights of my choosing to take with me and it won’t be very long before we return. Then I shall marry your daughter, with your permission, and fulfil all that you desire, you can be sure of that. I promise you this, upon my word.’

‘Thank you,’ said the sultan. ‘Anything I have, or can acquire for you, money, provisions, men, anything at all to ensure your success, for my love, you shall have. I would even offer to come along with you myself, but I fear the wickedness of the king of Egypt. If he hears that you’re out of the country he may gather an army and come here to destroy us, if he can, because you seized Clarionas back from him.’

‘Don’t worry, I won’t let that happen, replied Generydes. ‘Let me have Sir Darell and those knights who took part in the battle outside the city that afternoon, when we fought a brave rearguard action against the forces of king Belyn. These are all the men I ask for, to accompany me into India.’

‘In God’s name! Take with you whoever you want! They’ll all be eager to go I’m sure, for the love of your company.’

‘Return at once, my dear friends,’ said Generydes to the messengers, ‘and tell my father king Auferius that I shall come as quickly as I can.’

30 Misgivings

The messengers were given some fine gifts, then they departed and made their way back to tell the king and queen that they would soon see their son. ‘You can rest assured, he’s coming,’ they said.

King Auferius was very pleased to hear this and made preparations at once to sail for India. Generydes also made arrangements and gathered provisions for a campaign abroad. He told Sir Darell what he intended, which pleased the knight very much, and they gathered all their knights and equipment together and were soon ready to depart. Generydes had every man’s trust and confidence.

The next morning, at dawn: ‘Let my dear daughter come to see me,’ the sultan commanded.

When Clarionas arrived, the sultan explained that he had promised her in marriage to Generydes, and all of Persia in due course. ‘And to put this on a more formal footing, we have both exchanged assurances that he shall marry you.’

Clarionas was delighted to hear this. ‘My lord,’ she said. ‘When is the wedding to take place? What date have you arranged?’

‘Daughter, he must first travel to Syria, for he is the son of the king of that land and heir to that kingdom; and also to India as well, for his father lost that land through treason and Generydes is going to help his father to win it back. When he’s gained victory there, I’m confident that he’ll be crowned king of India and then he’ll take you as his wife and queen. I’ve no doubt about this, for he’s a man to be trusted. This is what he waits for – to be a king, and to have you as his queen.’

Clarionas was quite dismayed to hear that Generydes was going to embark on such a long journey and would be away for such a long time before marrying her. He’d be an unequalled catch for any princess and she couldn’t utter a word, she felt faint and had to sit down.

At last, she was able to say, quietly. ‘Father, whatever you wish.’

With this, she arose and went quickly to her chamber. She was very pleased for Generydes, but her heart was filled with sorrow and foreboding when she thought of him leaving her. She fell onto her bed in a faint. Mirabel saw this and was alarmed to hear her mistress moaning and to see her face so pale and drained of all colour.

‘Alas!’ said Mirabel. ‘Will your troubles never end? For weeks and months now, fear and anxiety have been your constant companions, and now look at you!’

‘No Mirabel, you’re wrong. I’ve never felt anything like this. I’ve never had anything deal a blow to me like this before. I’ve been frightened and uncomfortable, but nothing like this. I was always comforted by hope, a hope for something that can never happen now. My hopes have all been dashed. Oh God! I wish I was still in Egypt. I wish I hadn’t left Egypt! I was married there and made a queen, with every comfort to look forward to. Now I have nothing but death to look forward to.

‘Generydes has deceived me. My father has given him half his inheritance and my hand in marriage, and all he wants to do is to go off at once and travel to India. He says he’ll be made a king there and when he is, he’ll come back and marry me. Does this sound likely? Haven’t you heard stories of this before? He’ll find someone else! Someone he prefers to me. I know it!’

‘Good Madam,’ replied Mirabel, ‘for God’s love, stop all these fantasies! Generydes won’t be unfaithful to you. Do you imagine that he would leave you for someone else? No! His honour and faith are beyond doubt.’

‘What makes you so certain of that? You’ll see that what I’ve predicted will come true. He’ll marry me, he says, when he is a king! It’s all just falsehood and delay.’

Clarionas lay sorrowfully on her bed as Mirabel left the chamber. Soon, Mirabel met Generydes and told him what her mistress was doing to herself: ‘Come quickly,’ she said. ‘She’s managed to convince herself that you intend to abandon her for somebody else.’

‘Abandon her? Why does she think this? My heart belongs to her, my faith, my service, everything. Why does she doubt me? By that Lord who shaped me from nothing, I’ve never entertained a thought of marrying anybody else.’

‘I’ve explained this to her, but she takes no notice. You must come to see her as quickly as you can, it’s the only way.’

‘I’ll come at once.’

Generydes went with Mirabel to see Clarionas. He took a step inside her chamber and she knew he was there at once.’

‘What do you want?’ she asked. ‘You, the most unfaithful of all knights. I was stupid enough to believe your promises. Your being here is very unpleasant for me. Please go away. Go back to your old girlfriend. Sir Amelock has a daughter and peace will soon be made between the two of you, for your heart is very fond of caprice and whim. She’s very pretty and her name is Lucidas. For myself, I can say that no one has loved you more than I have, but that’s all over now. I will love you no more.’

Generydes was thunderstruck. He fell to the floor in a faint. He grew as pale as a corpse. Clarionas hesitated, remembering suddenly what kind of a man he was, and the service he’d given to her father, always ready to risk his life for him.

‘What have you done!’ exclaimed Mirabel. ‘You misjudge the poor man. Go and kiss him, at the very least.’

‘If you think that it’s the best thing to do, then I shall. With all my heart.’

Greatly upset to see Generydes lying motionless like this, Clarionas bent down and kissed him. He started, with a terrified expression on his face.

‘Please listen to me,’ he said. ‘I can explain. There’s no one who would do more to advance your honour than myself. As for meeting up with an old girlfriend, I’ve not the slightest idea what you mean. I swear! You have no fears on that score. I’ve always been faithful and true to you. God knows, your fears are groundless.’

When he’d explained everything to her, with obvious sincerity, Clarionas was reassured enough to feel able to say: ‘All is forgiven between us. I truly forgive you. Let our friendship continue as it was.’

‘Truly, yes!’ said Generydes, and they both found ways to assure one another of their love.

Shortly afterwards, Generydes said farewell to the sultan and to Clarionas, He gave Clarionas a little dog, which she was soon carrying about with her everywhere, and she valued it like a little jewel.

31 The siege of Vice begins

Generydes soon reached Syria, where king Auferius had assembled his army, in the city of Damascus, and everybody there was delighted to see him arrive, They took ship at once and found the winds to be so consistently favourable, as they steered their course towards India, that soon the coast of that land came into sight. There were some lovely harbours on that coastline and they quickly landed, without any difficulty at all.

Onwards they marched, and announcements were made in every village that all those who would obey the rightful king would keep their lives and their property. Everybody had a month in which to take advice and to come to their decision about this, before declaring it openly – this was the king’s own decision. But the army travelled onwards, with king Auferius at its head, taking every town and every castle they came to, one by one, except for a strong and well-defended city which, as the story tells us, would not surrender. It was called Vice, a beautiful city. Sir Amelock was staying a little distance away from it, although he was not aware at all that king Auferius was in the land. A knight arrived in a hurry and found Sir Amelock playing chess.

‘What time is this, to play at chess?’ he censured. ‘You say ‘check’ to your friend here, but I could say ‘check mate’ to you! King Auferius is not far away. Towns and castles have gone over to him already and Generydes is with him. Act quickly, or all will be lost.’

When Sir Amelock heard this, he was beside himself with rage. Letters were sent out immediately, summoning his noblemen with all their battle gear and arms and as many men as they could muster to fill every town and city with a garrison, stock it with provisions and enough armed men to hold it, and especially the beautiful city of Vice. He did all that he could think of. But the army of king Auferius was only two miles away, and there was a guide with him who knew the country intimately – a forester, the same forester, in fact, who had travelled to Thrace once to seek him out, in the company of queen Serena.

When the army was assembled in front of the city, king Auferius rode around the battlefield he had chosen, studying the lie of the land. He ordered his forces into twenty battalions, each with a thousand men in it. Those in the town were aware of what was going on and sent out their own forces to set up defensive positions. They lost no time but sallied out, fully armed, everybody who could carry a weapon, and organised their defence upon the plain – fifteen thousand men in all.

It was not long before hostilities began. The first knight from king Auferius’s forces to offer battle was Generydes, who was riding a magnificent war horse. The story tells us that he defeated a knight called Ananyell, who was a brother of Sir Amelock and a very powerful warrior. Generydes captured his horse and gave it to Natanell to look after; but before he could make this knight his prisoner, the knight’s comrades who were nearby saw that he was unhorsed, rode up and rescued him.

This knight had a friend named Sir Amysell. Sir Darrell rode at him, cast him to the ground and led the man’s horse back to his own men. Generydes unhorsed another knight and then rode forwards once again, into the thickest of the fighting.

The opposing army began to advance en masse, disquieted by these individual defeats. King Lamedon was at the very front and he was eager to put on a good display because of his feelings for the fair and lovely Lucidas, the daughter of Sir Amelock and Queen Serenydes. Lucidas was a very well-mannered and faithful young lady and she did not inherit her mother’s evil disposition at all.

The battle raged. Sir Amelock galloped towards a knight and impaled him through the chest with his lance. ‘Take this present and go,’ he cried to king Auferius. ‘Or else there’ll be plenty more gifts for you like this one, before nightfall.’

King Auferius listened to this taunting, galloped angrily into the melee with his lance lowered and killed Serenydes’ father, king Sanic, who was the king of Africa, the story tells us. King Sanic’s son Sir Esore looked down at his father’s dead body and hissed at Sir Amelock: ‘A curse that we ever met! Your nasty disposition, untrustworthiness and political incompetence has brought this about.’

As soon as he was able to, Sir Esore instructed knights to carry his father’s body into the city. A thousand warriors keened the corpse and priests joined in procession, along with many others, as he was carried to his place of burial.’

‘Look at everybody over there,’ said Serenydes with interest, without understanding what was going on. There was a man nearby who took it upon himself to enlighten the queen.

‘Madam, I shall not lie to you. Your father the king is dead. Knights are carrying his body back on his shield. King Auferius has killed him in battle.’

When queen Serenydes understood what had happened, she was very upset.

‘Now all my joy is gone, and all my good fortune,’ she confided to her daughter Lucidas. ‘I might have guessed that it would end like this, and I’ve probably deserved worse. It’s because of my faithlessness and lack of loyalty. I had a wonderful husband but now he’s gone forever and there’s no use hoping for any mercy from him now. I was married to King Auferius once, but I betrayed him and took another husband, much to my regret. This has already come back on me, and will do so still. My daughter, while you’re young, keep this in your thoughts and remember all the time that you should never do anything to cause dishonour to yourself.’

While queen Serenydes was pouring out her grief and sorrow to her daughter, the battle raged on outside, with many hurt and many slain. Sir Esore rode eagerly at Generydes with his lance lowered, willing to fight and use his strength and courage to avenge his father’s death. Generydes watched him approach and made ready to respond. They galloped towards one another, Sir Esore struck Generydes on the shield, causing Generydes’ horse to turn sharply and nearly throwing him to the ground. Generydes recovered his balance and, deciding to return two blows of his own for this one, he cut the shield of his opponent into two pieces with one swing of his sword. The blade carried on down and cut Sir Esore’s shoulder to the bone. He was so badly injured, and with no rescue in sight, that he yielded to Generydes and offered him his sword in capitulation.

‘Who is this knight whom I’ve conquered?’ asked Generydes.

‘I’m the son of the king you killed earlier, and heir to all his lands. Queen Serenydes is my sister.’

‘Serenydes? I know her well. She’s the root cause of this war. But despite this, you shall go free, and you can tell your sister that the knight who defeated you is he whom she most wanted to destroy, and that I believe she’ll live to regret it.’

Sir Esore was badly wounded; he’d lost so much blood that he cold hardly stand, let alone stay upright on a horse, so Generydes supported him with his hand as he rode his horse back, so that men might know how a noble and valiant knight behaves towards his defeated enemy. Sir Esore approached the city, riding alone now, slowly and gently. Serenydes saw him and called to Lucidas: ‘God knows, I can see no end to this nightmare. Over there is my brother, and he looks dreadfully wounded.’

Her daughter tried to comfort her. Meanwhile, Sir Esore arrived in the city. He endured the agony of dismounting and then went straight to his sister, rehearsing the words that Generydes had instructed him to convey. When Serenydes sensed her brother approaching, she cried out in distress, frightened that his injuries might have turned him against her.

32 Sir Darell falls in love

Outside, the battle raged on. Many had been killed on both sides and much ground had been given by Sir Amelock’s forces. Sir Darell galloped with his spear lowered towards an earl named Iaotan, a European who, as the story makes very clear, was sent sprawling to the ground as a result, horse and man. Sir Darell seized this earl’s horse and, as the man was being rescued by his knights, he rode along beside the city walls until he came to a tower and saw sitting in this tower a maiden who seemed to be exceptionally beautiful. He called out to Sygrem: ‘Who’s that over there, in the tower?’

‘Sir, I will not lie to you. It’s Sir Amelock’s virtuous and well-mannered daughter.’

‘I shall offer her my service,’ replied Sir Darell. ’I think she’s very pretty, although I’m not sure whether Generydes will be angry with me for it.’

‘I shouldn’t worry about that,’ replied Sygrem. ‘Although he harbours no love for her father, he bears no hatred for the daughter. Lucidas is very highly regarded.’

‘Is that Lucidas?’

‘Yes it is. I’ll carry a token of your esteem to her if you like, and I’ll bring you back her answer.’

‘That would be very good of you,’ said Sir Darell, and he produced a ring which he gave to Sygrem. ‘Take this to Lucidas, as quickly as you can, and speak to her in your most eloquent terms.’ Then he rode back into the fray and quickly brought down Ananyell, who was Lucidas’s uncle.

Lucidas saw this from her vantage point on the city wall and thought that however things turned out, nobody could think badly of her for setting her heart on such a knight as this. ‘Do you know which of those knights down below is Generydes?’ she asked her mother. ‘There’s one riding a black horse and has arms to match. He’s a very noble knight and I’ll tell you this: he’s just knocked my uncle to the ground. There’s another knight there as well, riding a white horse, and they’re the best two knights on the field, by a long way.’

‘I think you’re right,’ replied Serenydes. ‘But as to which of them is Generydes, I wouldn’t like to say, although I can tell you for certain that I hope peace can be made between us shortly. And when it is, I’d like you and Generydes to be married.’

As she was saying this, Sygrem approached and found them both sitting, talking to one another. Serenydes noticed him and said: ‘Sygrem, can you point out to me the knights of king Auferius?’

‘By all means,’ he replied. ‘I know Generydes, and many others, and if you want to know which of them is which, Generydes will be coming into view very shortly, I’m sure. His horse is white, and he has another very worthy knight with him, riding a fine, black horse, a nobleman whose father is the prince of Caesarea, a very keen and conscientious knight.’

‘What is his name?’

‘Sir Darell.’

When Lucidas heard this, she blushed a little. Serenydes noticed this but didn’t say anything as she got to her feet. As they were leaving, Sygrem affectionately called Lucidas over to him and gave her the ring. Lucidas was delighted, but hesitant to accept it and slightly anxious about the message that came with it.

‘I’ve never received a ring or such a message from a gentleman before, as far as I can recall,’ she said. ‘But I trust that his intentions are honourable, so I will gratefully receive it.’ She took the ring and gave Sygrem another, to take back with him.

Now Sygrem is galloping as fast as he can to the battlefield, to fulfil his errand. He gave the ring to Sir Darell, who was delighted with it and said: ‘Sir, I thank you heartily for your goodwill and excellent service. The next horse that I win shall be yours, I promise.‘ Then he galloped off into the thick of the fighting and singled out king Lamedon to aim his lance at. The two closed together in brutal combat and, catching a glimpse of his lady in a tower, Sir Darell scored a direct hit upon the king’s shield and sent horse and man sprawling to the ground. He captured the king’s horse and, remembering his promise, rode back and gave it to Sygrem as a gift.

Lucidas watched all this from a tower and was very pleased. Serenydes observed her and understood, but gave nothing away, as the battle ebbed and flowed, with many slain and with more and more meeting their end as the day went on.

King Lamedon was given another horse, intending to get revenge for his earlier encounter and galloped hard at Generydes. The two warriors closed upon one another with great ferocity and Generydes was able to deliver the point of his lance straight through the king’s head, cutting right through his brain. King Lamedon fell dead at once. There was great mourning and consternation from the opposing side, which quickly lost heart and, appearing to accept defeat, began to flee the field of battle. Retreating knights raced back into the city, and the last to arrive shut the gates firmly behind them. All those on king Auferius’s side began to raise their tents around the city, surrounding it as quickly as they could. First of all the king’s pavilion was erected, and a crown was set upon it. Then siege engines were brought up, to cast stones at the city walls to try to break them down.

33 Ring

While the lords and knights of king Auferius’s army besieged the city of Vice, word reached king Gwynon that Generydes had gone into India with many Persian knights to help his father win back his lands there. King Gwynon at once made plans to take an army into Persia, to avenge his father’s death, and to seize Clarionas, since he considered her to be his by right. He instructed a messenger to ride as swiftly as he could into India, to tell Sir Amelock to stay where he was and not to take any risks: ‘I will send an army into Persia and when I’ve defeated the sultan there I’ll travel directly to India to rescue you from king Auferius.’

The messenger took ship, sailed to India without any delay and delivered his message to Sir Amelock, who was very glad to hear it. Queen Serenydes was also very pleased at the news, for she hoped for peace. She said playfully to Lucidas: ‘Tell me, daughter, let on, what did Sygrem say to you?’

Lucidas blushed. ‘Madam, if it pleases you to hear, I’ll tell you the truth. There is a well-regarded knight who has sent me a ring, not for anything other than as a token of his respect, and his desire to honour and worship me. What do you think?’

‘What is this knight’s name?’

‘Sir Darrel. He’s the son of the prince of Caesarea, a fine warrior and a noble knight, and heir to all his father’s lands. There, I’ve told you. Please don’t be displeased.’

‘Have no fears on that score, darling. But let me tell you what’s in my mind. If this knight does, indeed, love you, then you’ll know it for certain very shortly, for he’ll be eager to do anything you want. Send for Sygrem, and tell him to go to Sir Darrel and ask him, if he’s truly offering you his faith and his service, to go to Generydes and ask for the gold ring that Clarionas gave to him in Persia. This is the reason why I’m saying this: I have a friend who is very ill, constantly in pain, and he’s dreamt that he’ll be cured if he has this ring. It would be a great pity if we had to bury him so soon, when a ring could save him. So I’m asking you, daughter, please send for Sygrem and explain this to him.’

Not understanding her mother’s duplicity, Lucidas answered in all innocence: ‘Madam, I’ll do my best to bring this about for you.’

Sygrem was sent on his errand, delivered his message, and neither he nor Sir Darell suspected anything other than that they were dealing with an innocent request. But you know, it’s often said, and it’s true, that scheming takes advantage of the good faith of others. Sygren came out well from it, however: Lucidas gave him a fine cloth for bringing her the ring.

34 Deception

Serenydes saw the ring delivered and knew that her prayers had been answered. Immediately, she called Lucidas to her and said: ‘Daughter, I’m very pleased, for now I can see that you’ve chosen a man who will strive to please you in every way that he can. And fair daughter,’ she said, ‘may I ask that you show me the ring?’

‘Madam, you know that I’ve never disobeyed you, in any way, and never will.’ And because she would not dream of disobeying her mother, Lucidas took the ring from the lace that it was hanging by and gave it to her. When Serenydes had possession of it, she was very pleased and called one of her pages, a man who had been brought up in her retinue, who was not shy and seemed destined for high office, a confident young man who had been born in Ethiopia. His name was Gusare.

‘You must take a message for me, into Persia’ she said. ‘And take this ring with you.’

‘Whatever you wish, Madam.’

‘This is what your mission involves, Gusare. Take this ring, and keep it safe until you have an opportunity to give it to Clarionas, the sultan’s daughter, for she gave it to Generydes. They are both very much in love with one another, but I would be very happy to see this love broken, if I can, and this is your task. It is the only way that peace can be achieved in India, and my wellbeing secured. If you carry out this errand successfully, you’ll have every reason to pray for me, for your reward will be great, I promise you.’

‘Madam, it shall be done, have no fear.’

Gusare mounted a horse and rode into Persia, where he came upon a poor pilgrim on the road, and being adroit at mixing deception and cunning: ‘Good father,’ he began, ‘where have you come from?’

‘I’ve taken a direct route from Mountoner.’

‘Then good sir, before you go, tell me, is the sultan in residence?’

‘When I left yesterday, he was in the city, with a great many people around him, and his daughter was with him, fair Clarionas.’

‘Where is her love, Generydes?’

‘He’s gone to India, to pursue and maintain his father’s rights there, for that land will be his inheritance.’

‘Father, tell me one more thing before you go. What token of his love did he give to her before he went?’

‘Oh, I know all about that,’ he replied. ‘When he left the city, I remember clearly that he gave her a little dog. You’ll likely see her with it.’

‘Father, will you do me a favour? Let the two of us exchange our clothes.’

‘Certainly, if you wish.’

Gusare travelled onwards, having given the palmer a generous amount of money for his help, and came to the city of Mountoner, dressed in the beggar’s clothes. Soon, news arrived in the city that king Gwynon had invaded Persia, with the intention of subduing the entire land by force.

But to get on with the story, Gusare is now very busy, thinking up a way to successfully bring about the purpose of his mission. As the palmer had done before, in his ragged clothes, so Gusare did now. He made his way into the temple where the sultan was worshipping with his daughter Clarionas. Gusare set the ring on his finger and shouldered his way insistently through the crowd until he came to a place near to where Clarionas was sitting, so that he could stand before her. Letting no one take his place, he stood there for a while, displaying the ring upon his finger, until she noticed it. She didn’t say anything, but her heart pounded and her face took on an anxious look. Mirabel noticed this and said: ‘Madam, something is disturbing you. Tell me what’s wrong.’

‘I’ll tell you, and it will surprise you. ‘I’ve seen a palmer standing in the crowd, wearing the ring that I gave to Generydes.’

‘Really? That’s hard to understand. But don’t worry. I’m sure everything’s alright. I’ll go and speak with him. I’ll invite him to your chamber, then you can find out what’s going on.’

Mirabel quickly vanished and brought the palmer to meet with Clarionas. When he saw her, he knelt down on one knee. ‘Madam,’ he said, ‘please don’t be upset by things that cannot now be changed, for regarding this, I must tell you plainly that Generydes is now married. It was less than a fortnight ago that he was wedded to Sir Amelock’s daughter Lucidas. It was wholly against his will, but there was no way out of it for him and he couldn’t say no. His father insisted upon it, as part of a peace accord. If you find this hard to believe, here is a ring which he gave me to give back to you – it’s the one that you gave to him, I believe. In addition, he asked me to see that you understand that you are now perfectly free and at liberty to marry whomever you please.’

When she heard this, Clarionas’s legs collapsed from under her and she fell to the ground in an agony of distress. Mirabel ran and held her in her arms, doing her best to comfort her. When Clarionas had regained her senses she went to the palmer and dashed the ring out of his hand – she couldn’t stop herself. Mirabel went over and picked it up, concealing it safely.

‘Madam, I have forgotten something,’ Gusare said to Clarionas. ‘I was commanded to say that you should keep the little dog and look after it well.’

‘As for the dog,’ replied Clarionas. ‘Here it is! I shall no longer keep it, nor anything else that once belonged to him.’ She threw the dog at him, but Mirabel managed to catch it. ‘You won’t go back to him,’ said Mirabel to the little dog. ‘Lucidas will never play with you. I’ll have you for my own.’

When Gusare saw that there was nothing more for him to do or say, he hastily took his leave and set off for home. Clarionas retired to her private rooms, with many sighs, oblivious to anything but her own thoughts, a woeful woman, in floods of tears as she recalled the moments she had shared with Generydes. She complained bitterly of his unfaithfulness, which was completely undeserved. Mirabel suspected that there was treason afoot.

When the sultan learnt that his daughter was so upset, he went straight to her chamber, through courtesy and also compassion, and found her lying on her bed in great distress.

‘Daughter, what’s wrong?’ he asked. ‘There’s something amiss. Tell me what it is.’

‘My lord, I must tell you, you gave your consent that Generydes and I would be married and you gave him half your land to rule over, but now he’s been unfaithful, for no cause whatsoever – he’s made peace with Sir Amelock and married his daughter Lucidas!’

‘This is all very sudden and unexpected,’ her father replied. ‘Are you sure it’s true?’

‘Absolutely, my lord. I’m sure of it. He’s sent me back this ring that I gave to him.’

‘Then who would have thought that he would do such a thing? I’m astounded! It’s utterly unjust and against all reason. But if he’s shown you such unkindness, for all that, don’t be downcast. I’ll arrange for your life to take another course and probably a much better one, may I say. King Gwynon will be very pleased, I’m sure, if he and I can come to an agreement concerning you and he, and if you will agree to this, a marriage between the two of you may well bring lasting peace to this land.’

Clarionas said nothing against it, which upset Mirabel a lot.

‘My lord,’ she said, ‘as far as I’m concerned, I cannot imagine that Generydes would be such a false knight as to break his word like this, and I don’t think that he has.’

‘Mirabel, you know quite well that he’s sent me back the ring,’ interrupted Clarionas.

‘I know. But I also know this, that what the messenger told you was all a pack of lies.’

The sultan listened to what Mirabel said, and was pleased with what he heard. ‘What do you suggest that we do?’ he asked.

‘Let me go to India as a messenger,’ replied Mirabel, ‘and when I return, you’ll have the truth of the matter. This is my advice, and then you must do as you see fit. But if I go, I ask one thing – that I may have your assurance that any wedding between my lady and king Gwynon will be delayed until my return, for then I’ll be able to tell you everything I know.’

The sultan did not refuse her request, but straight away gave her permission to go.

35 Nightmare

Mirabel journeyed into India, with only two squires to accompany her and two pages to look after the horses, so that they could all travel as quickly as possible.

Now I shall tell you a strange thing. Generydes was sleeping and he dreamed that the sultan and Clarionas came towards him hand in hand, and she was sighing and complaining, and then she began to cry, and the sultan started shouting at him: ‘Wake up!’ Generydes, wake up! You haven’t kept the promises you made to me, and to my daughter. You have committed treason under a cloak of honour and fidelity. You’ve taken another wife!’ Clarionas screamed: ‘Give me back my ring! I shall marry king Gwynon.’ Then the dreamscape changed and he saw king Gwynon leading Clarionas into Egypt, but then Mirabel appeared and snatched Clarionas away from king Gwynon. At this point, he awoke.

Generydes went at once to tell Natenall and Sir Darell what he had dreamt. Sir Darell was alarmed as soon as he heard the ring mentioned, thinking that the dream might hint that the ring had been lost, and was anxious to know what was going on, so he called Sygrem to him. When the herald arrived, he told him about Generydes’ dream.

‘Go to Lucidas,’ he asked him, ‘and find out what’s happened to the ring. Tell her that I’ll be entirely hers to command if she’ll have it sent back to me.’

‘Sir, I’ll do this at once and come back with the ring if I can.’

Sygrem made his way to Lucidas and explained everything that he’d been asked to, and especially that the principal reason for his visit was that Sir Darell would like to have the ring back.

‘I shall find out where it is at once,’ she told him, and went to her mother and asked her in a very friendly way if she could return the ring. But do what she might, she had to leave without it; she did so complaining bitterly at the unkindness and disloyalty shown to her, when she had acted in good faith. She returned to Sygrem.

‘I must tell you the truth,’ she said. ‘I can’t get the ring back for you. My efforts have been in vain and I sense that something’s wrong. There may be treason in the air. And I swear before Generydes that, although Sir Darell is likely to carry the blame for this, it wasn’t his fault at all, I can vouch for that. Please tell Sir Darell that I said so, and do this as quickly as you can; and tell him also that I’ve learnt that king Gwynon has sent an army into Persia, and his intention is clear: to destroy the sultan and all his lands. Tell this to Sir Darell and ask him to get permission to leave for Persia at once. Say that this is my advice: that he’s likely to get news of the ring while he’s there, and find out who stole it and where it is. But all this must be done with the utmost secrecy, so that only he and you and I know of it.’

Sygrem returned, in sombre mood, and met Sir Darell riding on the plain outside the city. He told him all that Lucidas had asked him to, and explained how his errand had otherwise been a complete failure: he’d had to return without the ring. When Sir Darell heard this, he was angry and rode off at once to Generydes.

‘Give me permission, sir, to ride into Persia,’ he said. ‘I’ll find out what’s going on there, for your dream troubles me greatly.’

Generydes was very grateful. ‘Go on your way in God’s name,’ he said. ‘Go as quickly as you can, and then return swiftly, for I want to know what’s going on there as well. And Darell, please bring me news of my lady Clarionas.’

‘I shall not forget to do so,’ laughed Sir Darell. Then he took his leave and made his way into the land of Persia.

36 Anxious comings and goings

By now, Gusare, that miserable wretch, had arrived back in India. Seeking the quickest way to get to Generydes so that he could attempt to dupe him with his lies, he sought him out, and at last found him in his tent.

‘My lord, I have come from Persia,’ he said. ‘The sultan has given me news to convey to you. King Gwynon is there with a great army, but he and the sultan are reconciled and they are now of one mind. Peace is proclaimed everywhere and the king has married Clarionas. Sir Anasore has sent me to tell you this, and there is another duty for me to discharge as well: Clarionas had a little dog which she instructed me to return to you, but when it was time for me to depart, it disappeared suddenly, so I had to leave without it.’

Generydes listened with a growing sense of devastation. ‘Good sir,’ he said, ‘tell me, when did this marriage take place?’

‘On the very day that I departed. My haste was such that I couldn’t stay to witness it.’

Generydes was mortified. He poured out his complaints to Natanell, who tried to console him as best he could.

Mirabel is riding as quickly as she can into India, to seek out Generydes.

When she was nearing that land, she met Sir Darell who was riding along the same path. She was very frightened initially, for she had no reason to know who this knight was that was approaching her, but when she saw who it was and heard him speak, she was relieved and very happy to see him.

‘How is the sultan?’ he asked her. ‘And how is Clarionas? Is she married?’

‘Married? Of course not. She won’t marry anybody, except for Generydes. He is always in her thoughts, and as for any new man, there is none, I can tell you that for certain. She would rather die first. But please tell me – is Generydes married?’

‘No! Such a thought would never enter his head! If I may presume to speak for him, then I can assure you that he’ll marry no woman except for Clarionas.’

‘No peace has been made, then, between Generydes and Sir Amelock?’

‘Certainly not!’

‘Then hurry on your journey and tell this to my lady Clarionas. It will set her heart at ease, for she’s dreadfully upset at the moment.’

‘I’ll go at once. Generydes is very anxious as well. He’s had a dream that worries him more than anything has ever done before, because he thinks it’s a reflection of the truth. He imagines that Clarionas has married king Gwynon, with the sultan’s blessing, so you can tell him it’s all a fantasy.’

They departed and quickly continued onwards, he to Persia and she to India.

When Miranda arrived near the city of Vice, after a little searching she made her way towards Generydes’ tent and found Gusare inside. This delighted her, and she instructed her two squires immediately to jump on him. ‘Seize that scoundrel!’ she cried.

When Gusare saw her, he fled outside, but Miranda was able to grab him by the head and hold on to him. Then someone, who could see clearly what she wanted, delivered a blow onto his cheek so hard that it was a waste of time the man asking for a physician. He died soon afterwards.

Generydes was nonplussed when he came out from his tent to find this scene before him. Mirabel accompanied him back into the tent.

‘Maid Mirabel, welcome. What are you doing here?’

‘I’ll tell you. That deceitful traitor who’s just been killed came and told my lady Clarionas that you had married Lucidas. On his finger was the ring that she gave to you when you left for India, which he said he was returning. Despite his arrogance, I was able to get this ring – my lady wanted to have nothing to do with it, she was so angry – and she threw the little dog at him too, but I was able to rescue that as well. Now, I’ve told you all there is to know.’

Generydes thanked her courteously and rewarded her for her trouble.

‘Here is the ring,’ she said, and she gave it to him. Generydes recognised it at once. ‘Darell asked me for it,’ he said, with a puzzled frown. ‘That’s very curious. He’s a faithful and wholly trustworthy fellow, I’ve known Darell for a long time and I can’t believe that any fault lies with him. Fair Mirabel, go straight back to your mistress, for I’m sure that she won’t believe what’s happened with total conviction unless she hears it from you. Darell will tell her everything he can, but she’ll be far more reassured if you’re there to back up what he says.

‘Moreover, say this to her: that she is being very unreasonable to mistrust me, for I can say one thing that is unequivocally true – she will never find me unfaithful. And ask her to recall the expression ‘quid pro quo’ for me.’

Mirabel smiled, then took her leave and set off for Persia. But let us speak of Sir Darell, who is riding as fast as he can and whose journey is nearing its completion. He arrived in Persia and quickly went to the splendid city of Mountoner and made his way directly to Clarionas’s chamber. He knocked gently on the door, as was the custom, and a maid appeared.

‘Please go away,’ she said. ‘My lady had a very disturbed night and has only just managed to get to sleep.’

Sir Darell tried to persuade her to let him in, but to no avail, and when he saw that his entreaties were hopeless: ‘Madam!’ he shouted out. ‘Please see me! It’s Darell and I need to talk with you.’

‘Open the door,’ Clarionas called to her maid. Darell entered and knelt.

‘I’ve come straight from India. Generydes commends himself to your grace and goodwill and wishes you to know that he’s had a dream that’s causing him much anxiety.’

Then he explained everything to her. She heard him out and then said: ‘Enough! What you’re telling me is a pack of lies. Do you imagine that I don’t know what you’re doing? Generydes is married to Lucidas, this is the truth. You should be speaking with her, not coming to me with these tales. I’ve done with you all.’

‘Good Madam, why are you saying this? My message is to you, and to you alone. Remember how faithful and loyal Generydes has always been to you. He hasn’t changed, I know. And you have no reason to distrust Lucidas either, for I can tell you the truth and say that I love her myself. She asked me to get that ring off Generydes in good faith, believing her mother to be telling her the truth when she said that she needed it for a sick friend. But it was all a deception. She had that faithless messenger Gusare come to you with it solely to cause a rift between you and Generydes. This is the truth. Make me swear that it’s the truth upon anything you like.’

Clarionas felt her fears lessening. ‘I don’t mean to disbelieve you. I’m sure that you’re not lying to me.’

‘Madam, if I’d thought you might not believe me, I wouldn’t have embarked upon this journey.’

Clarionas smiled and reassured him.

When the sultan heard that Sir Darell was in the palace, he went straight to his daughter’s chambers to hear the news that Sir Darell had brought. ‘Welcome! What news is there?’ he asked.

‘I will tell you everything I know, such as it is. The city of Parentine is under a much greater stranglehold than it was before. The gates are all shut and there is no food getting in. King Auferius keeps it under such a tight siege that nobody can get in or out. Generydes is laying siege to the city of Vice, which is the strongest city in all the land. He has it completely surrounded, and the whole country round about is under his control.’

‘I’m very happy to hear this,’ encouraged the sultan. ‘But I wish he was back here with me now. Tell that to him, Darell, tell him that king Gwynon is in this country and that he’s causing a huge amount of damage, and I have great need of his service.’

‘Sir, I will return to India as quickly as I can and take this message to him.’

Sir Darell took his leave and prepared to return to India. Has ever a man given less cause for doubt? He and Mirabel met together on the road, going in opposite directions, and exchanged news, but both were anxious to complete their journeys as quickly as possible so they did not pause for long.

While this was taking place, Sir Amelock rode out of the city of Vice with a number of his followers, for he had been told by what he took to be reliable sources that Generydes lay sick in his tent, and this had emboldened him. Yet these people were wrong, for this was old news. Generydes was back on his horse and riding out in front of the city, with renewed vigour.

Sir Darell arrived in India and rode swiftly in search of Generydes, to tell him everything that he had to say. Coming to his tent, he found it to be empty, so he rode off to see if he could find Generydes out in the field, and quickly encountered an Ethiopian duke on a warhorse. The man was barring his way, so they set upon one another with relish, and very shortly the duke lay dead on the ground. Lucidas witnessed this from a vantage point on the city wall and was delighted to see that Sir Darell had returned. Generydes spotted Sir Darell as well and came riding over to greet him.

‘Darell, welcome! What news is there from Clarionas?’

‘There’s no time to tell you now, but carry on with what you’re doing. Everything’s fine!’

Generydes was very relieved to hear this and with his mind full of joyful thoughts, he joined battle once more.

37 Temporary truce

Out in the field, Generydes came upon Ananyel, an intelligent and cautious warrior who was not given to indiscretion. He was Sir Amelock’s brother, and they galloped towards each other with sharpened spears lowered in anger. A direct hit on Generydes’ shield smashed it into pieces and, by good luck alone, the point of the spear ran down the side of Generydes’ armour so that he wasn’t injured by it. He could easily have been killed. But Generydes delivered a blow that impaled Ananyel on the point of his spear and killed him instantly. He fell dead from his horse.

When Sir Amelock saw his, he was very upset and angry, and galloped towards Sir Darell with his lance lowerd. Lucidas’ heart was filled suddenly with anxiety, to see her father and the man she loved closing upon one another in mortal combat, and she naturally prayed that they would disengage very quickly, But her prayers were to no avail. Their lances met, and they fought together for a long time, and would have fought for even longer had their horses not collapsed from under them in exhaustion. Both men fell to the ground and the fighting around them was so intense that Sir Darell could not get away. He defended himself where he lay. Help, of course, came for Sir Amelock and he was taken to safety, and at last, Sir Darell was able to remount as well. Generydes came riding alongside him, and wherever he went on the battlefield after that, Sir Darell swept all before him.

The opposing side laid Ananyell’s dead body on a shield and carried it into the city. Sir Amelock’s men were so dismayed to see this that soon they all fled towards the city themselves and many were overrun and killed – a hundred of Sir Amelock’s knights were slain in this retreat.

When all the men were inside the city, the gates were shut fast and Ananyell was buried. Then, as quickly as they could, they sent two knights as emissaries, to ask Generydes to allow a truce to be called, for two months, so that all Sir Amelock’s slain knights could be buried. Generydes was happy to agree to this. He called Natanell and Sir Darell to him and said: ‘A truce is going to be brought into effect between the city and myself, for two months, and I intend to use this time to go back to see Clarionas. Darell, I’d like to ask you to be so kind as to take on the responsibility of commanding the men in my absence, as lord and chief captain, until I return. If anything unexpected happens and you need me suddenly, then I’ll return as quickly as I can.

‘I’ll take a hundred knights and squires with me, and no more than this, and there must be no fanfare. It must be done with secrecy. Tell Sygrem to come also, for he knows the land intimately and I’ll need him as a guide.’

While this day of battle was proceeding, Mirabel arrived back in Persia. She went straight to see Clarionas.

‘Madam, Generydes commends himself to you humbly and, regarding Lucidas, he wishes you to know that any thoughts of marriage between she and him have never so much as entered his head. The messenger who brought you this blatant lie has been killed.’ Then she told Clarionas how she’d found Generydes in a fair measure of despondency over the accusation, and told her everything else that had happened as well.

‘Thank you for all the trouble you have gone to,’ Clarionas replied.

But let us leave them here with their newfound peace of mind, and return to Generydes. For, as Clarionas and Mirabel are enjoying the evening, he is riding towards Persia, reluctant to stop for anything before he reaches it. Sygrem is with him, choosing the best routes to take, and it will not be long before they arrive in Persia.

As soon as he neared his destination, it was clear to him that the country was being destroyed. He saw a lady riding quickly beside a forest, and galloped towards her. She saw him approaching, turned her horse and made to flee. There were eighteen people with her. Generydes rode so fast that he caught up with her.

‘Lady, don’t be afraid. Why are you travelling so quickly, and so anxiously. No one will harm you, I guarantee.’

‘I am a widow,’ she replied. ‘The sultan is my uncle. King Gwynon has commanded that I shall be married to his cousin. This is the truth. I’m running away because I refuse to do this. I hope to reach Mountoner, where I can stay with my uncle, for my life is in danger here.’

‘Madam, may God be your guide,’ replied Generydes. ‘I intend to take up arms against king Gwynon and I’d happily learn where he is staying and the route I can take to get to him.’

’He’s in a castle beside a forest nearby, only a mile or two away,’ said the lady. ‘Keep riding in the direction you were going and you’ll find him. He’s waiting for king Otran of Spain, who’s agreed to help him in his war against my uncle.’

‘Who does he have in the castle with him? How many?’

‘Less than two hundred men, as far as I know. But they are all hand-picked and well-armed. He’s not expecting any trouble and goes hunting every day.’

‘Madam, then may I ask you, when you see your uncle, to tell him that a knight of Syria would gladly see him, but he can’t at present because he’s too busy seeking out king Gwynon.’

The lady continued onwards to Mountoner and Generydes made his way into the forest. When it was well into the afternoon, Generydes organised his men so that they could mount an ambush, then he called Sygrem to him.

‘I want you to find out exactly where king Gwynon is and what he’s doing,’ he instructed. ‘I’ll stay here with my men.’

‘Sir, it shall be done at once. I’ll go and find out, and then come back here.’

Sygrem went directly to Monperson, and quickly discovered that the king was there. The town was close to the castle where the king was staying, and Sygrem went among the people and rode all around the town, looking at everything and gleaning all the information that he could, then he returned to Generydes.

‘Sir, I can tell you in all honesty that they were sitting down to dinner when I left, and he said that he intends to go hunting in this forest later. They’ll all be well-armed, and my suggestion is that when you hear them coming, you let them go without giving away your own presence in any way, and when they’ve passed, you can come out into the open and confront them. They way, you’ll be between them and the castle and they’ll be trapped.’

‘If you want to know which one of them is king Gwynon,’ he continued, ‘he’ll be dressed in white, riding a white horse. No one else will be dressed and mounted in this way. Moreover, his spear will be white as well. But now I’ve told you all that I know. Do as you see fit, but he’s coming here to hunt very soon.’

Shortly afterwards, Generydes heard king Gwynon approaching and everybody remained as quiet as they could. No one moved a muscle, as the king passed. When they’d all gone by, Generydes broke cover, took a good look at the hunting party and cried out: ‘Turn around!’

King Gwynon turned his horse around and cried to his knights: ‘Sirs, now is the time to show our mettle and our courage, for these men intend to bar our way back.’

At once, they charged, and in the ensuing battle, twenty of king Gwynon’s knights were killed and fifteen were captured, which angered the king very much. He swore that, whatever happened, he would exact revenge for this, and in his rage he galloped at Lucas with his lance lowered and impaled him on it, killing him instantly. Everyone in Generydes’ party was very sad to see this, and Generydes was particularly upset, remembering the great kindness that Lucas had once shown to him when he’d supported him in front of the sultan and saved him from the sultan’s anger, and probably from death, when he was a prisoner because of Clarionas. He thought it dishonourable not to try to avenge his death, so Generydes galloped towards the king, intending to engage him in battle. But one of the king’s nephews rode between them. He turned to face Generydes: these warriors met and the point of Generydes’ spear, to tell you the truth, went straight through his opponent’s shield and out through the man’s back, killing him at once. In the face of these defeats, the king’s knights began to scatter and retreat, which angered the king greatly, to see them so undisciplined and out of formation. He blew his horn, to try to get them to regroup.

‘There’s no point staying here,’ shouted one of the king’s knights, a Cornishman named Sampson. ‘Let’s get back inside the castle. We’re just loosing men to no purpose here.’

So the king skirted around and retreated back towards the town of Monperson, chased and harried by Generydes’ forces. ‘Rather than tire ourselves by pursuing them directly,’ said Sygrem, ‘why don’t we try to cut them off by getting between them and the town gates.’

Generydes followed Sygrem’s advice. He cried to his trusty steed: ‘Blanchard, you never fail me! When riding you I’ve never been outridden.‘ And turning quickly, he followed a route that brought him after a little while to a place that was about half a mile ahead of king Gwynon. When the king saw Generydes ahead of him, he became silent and afraid, not wanting to put Generydes’ courage and skill to the test now. He had no stomach for this engagement. But Generydes barred his way.

‘You won’t get past here without fighting for Clarionas!’ Generydes cried out.

The king realised that he had no other option, so he prepared himself and turned to face Generydes. They rode towards one another over open ground and each broke his lance against the other. They attacked one another with their swords and delivered some vicious blows, sending sparks flying from plate and chain mail, with no thoughts now of coming to terms or reaching a settlement. There was no feeling of love or friendship between them! The king was strong and courageous and marvelled that a knight should last so long against him. He gave Generydes a blow with his sword that tore his shield into pieces and the handle fell off. It was only by the grace of God that Generydes managed to avoid losing an arm.’

‘If you want to live, go now, and consider yourself fortunate,’ cried the king.

Generydes was angry that he should be invited to flee, and remembering Clarionas, who was so dear to him, he attempted to bring some comfort to his anguish by swinging his sword with all his might against king Gwynan’s helmet. The helmet broke with the impact and a quarter of it fell off, the sword ran down, split his shield into two pieces and cut off two of the king’s fingers in the process. King Gwynan’s face was now fully exposed, he was in great pain and bleeding profusely, and didn’t know quite what to do.

‘What kind of a man are you?’ the king asked. ‘Who are you? I will fight with you here no longer. I yield to you my sword. What is your name? Tell me!’

‘I shall not lie to you. My name is Generydes.’

The king gave him his sword. ‘I cannot be blamed for fighting against you, then, since you are the one who killed my father. But I forgive you for it, and would ask also if I may have safe passage back to my own country. In return I shall promise not to trouble the sultan any further, for never in all my life, since attaining a man’s strength and stature, have I ever crossed swords with as good a knight as you.

Generydes laughed and said: ‘And what about Clarionas?’

‘Sir, you have gone to a great deal of trouble to win her. Now fortune and grace decree that she is yours. I am content that this should be so. For my part, I am done with it all.’

38 Peace again in Persia

Peace was made. King Gwynon sent word of this to his army and the peace was proclaimed throughout all the surrounding countryside. All his men were very pleased to hear it, and especially his commanders. ‘Sirs,’ said king Gwynon, when all his men had assembled before him. ‘I wish you all to return home, without any delay. The war is over. Prepare yourselves quickly to leave at once, this is all I wish to say. I shall follow you as soon as I can.’ Then Generydes and the king retired to the city of Monperson.

Meanwhile, the sultan, who had no idea that peace had been declared, had a vivid dream in which he saw king Gwynon and Generydes fighting hand to hand until at last Generydes threw the king into a river. The king begged for mercy, and Generydes forgave him. The sultan told Clarionas what he had dreamed, and by chance, the lady who had spoken to Generydes was there, and she remembered the message from that Syrian knight which she’d forgotten to relay.

‘Please forgive me,’ she asked humbly. ‘I have offended you, sir, for I have a message that I should have given to you, but I forgot. A knight has come into this country who wanted me to greet you on his behalf. He wouldn’t tell me his name, but only that he is a noble knight who was born in Syria. He was very well-armed and regretted not being able to see you in person, but said that he was too busy.’

Clarionas wasn’t very pleased to hear this at all. She guessed that it was likely to be Generydes and this seemed to confirm all her fears to her, for she was still unsure of his intentions and thought that he might be trying to avoid her, or even to abandon her. And indeed, my author tells me that Generydes had chosen to enjoy some time with king Gwynon in Monperson, and that he stayed there for a little over two days, and that the king then set off for an appointed place. Sygrem was sent on ahead, to go as quickly as he could to the sultan to tell him that the war was over.

Sygrem took this message and carried the news to the sultan. ‘Peace has been made between king Gwynon and Generydes,’ he told him, ‘and the king promises never to invade Persia again. Sureties have been given to this effect.’ The sultan was overjoyed to hear this and went to tell the news to his daughter in person, and to tell her that he was to meet king Gwynon at a place in the forest that had been decided upon, to ratify a peace agreement.’

‘Do you believe this to be true?’ asked Clarionas.

‘Yes, for certain I do,’ replied her father. ‘Sygrem has brought the news, and he’s a very trustworthy and reliable fellow. He’s come straight from the battlefield and was a witness to it all. He’ll tell you himself very shortly.’

Sygrem made his way as quickly as he could to Clarionas’s chamber, to tell her the news.

‘I understand that the war is over,’ she said.

‘Madam, there is peace.’

‘Where is Generydes?’

‘Truly, I left him with king Gwynon, at Monperson.’

‘Will he not come here?’

‘Madam, regarding this, I really cannot say. I believe not, for he intends to ride as quickly as he can back to India, for his army is there and they’re expecting him back.

Sygrem left at once and returned to the sultan. ‘My lord,’ he said, ‘if you intend to meet king Gwynon, as I’m sure you do, then it’s time to set off.’

The sultan departed with a fine retinue, with many lords and knights, towards the forest.

Clarionas, meanwhile, stayed in her chamber, thoughtful, anxious and increasingly unhappy as she mused upon what Sygrem had said. She remembered how she had mistrusted Generydes before, fearing that she would never see him again. She opened her heart to Mirabel and poured out all her fears to her.

‘Madam, for any pain or injury he’s ever suffered,’ said Mirabel, ‘I’ve never known him to be churlish. You will never find him discourteous. Furthermore, I guarantee that it won’t be long before he’s standing here beside you.’

The sultan rode to the appointed place in the forest and first of all met with Generydes. Then king Gwynon approached, and when all these groups had met, a final peace was agreed, sureties were offered and accepted and they all rode away together in true concord and mutual friendship. The king took his leave and went back to Egypt. The sultan made ready to return to Mountoner, and Generydes rode alongside him for a little of the way. but then begged the sultan to allow him to return immediately to India, The sultan was astonished that he wished to return so quickly.

‘Will you not come and see Clarionas?’ he asked.

‘I can’t’ replied Generydes. ‘I must implore you to forgive me in this, but I must return to India at once. I’ll see her another time, that’s for sure, you can rely on it. I love her very much.’

Generydes took his leave but then said to his men: ‘I want you all to go back to Monperson and wait for me there. Sygrem and I will go to Mountoner alone, in secret.

Sygrem accompanied Generydes to Mountoner, just the two of them, They arrived at night, and Generydes made his way quietly, by the light of the stars, to the garden that lay outside Clarionas’s chamber. When he arrived, he heard a woman’s voice weeping and complaining, saying that death was the only option left to her, she had to endure such unkindness and was so unhappy, now Generydes was in the country but wouldn’t see her.

Generydes recognised the voice and the pain of it nearly broke his heart. He was so distressed that he couldn’t speak for a while but stood weeping. Mirabel heard the sound and spotted him outside very quickly. ‘What’s this?’ she said. ‘I don’t believe it. My lady is distraught with grief and you just stand there!’

‘Who are you speaking to,’ asked Clarionas.

‘Madam, here at the window is Generydes!’

Clarionas got up and went to the window, with some trepidation. Generydes moved towards her and without a word, they kissed each other. No words were spoken for a long while, but all unhappiness had vanished.

‘Generydes, why have you been so unkind as to be in Persia for so long and not come to see me,’ asked Clarionas at last. ‘I thought you didn’t want to.’

‘Please forgive me, but something was troubling me,’ replied Generydes. ‘You thought that I had married Lucidas, you doubted me, which hurt me very much. I’ve always been true and faithful to you, but all the time you mistrust me and question my honesty. But now I’ve seen for myself how you feel, and all is forgiven. I have to ask you, though, if you’ll allow me to go back to India straight away, for I must do so very quickly. My knights need me and I fear the stratagems that Sir Amelock might have dreamed up in my absence. I’d like to return to India as quickly as I can, and the sooner I go, the sooner I can be back.

‘Of course you can go,’ she said. ‘Your people will be glad of your presence and your country will profit from it, so you must go at once.’

PART 6: Generydes marries at last

39 Amelock is defeated

Generydes and Clarionas spent the rest of the night together, as I have read, without succumbing to any shame or wickedness, but just enjoying each other’s company. They were both very sad to see the dawn breaking. But then Generydes rode back to Monperson, with Sygrem for company. He found his men waiting there for his return, as he had instructed. Without any more delay, they all rode back to India, making for a very splendid array of horse and armour.

When Gererydes and his knights arrived back at the siege of Vice, his people were very pleased to see him. Sir Amelock had gained confidence and was trying to reach an accord with Sir Darell which might result in a peace treaty, although Darell was fully aware of the stratagem and was alert to it.

Generydes rode straight into battle with all his knights, eager to get going. He rode a black horse and carried a black shield and a black lance. Shortly, he engaged Sampson the Cornish knight with great vigour and struck him so heavily that the man tumbled over his horse’s backside and hit the ground so hard that he died.

Sir Amelock appeared, seeking revenge for Sampson’s death. He struck Generydes on the head, breaking off a quarter of his helmet.

‘You thoughtfully noticed that I might fight better with a clearer view of you!’ retorted Generydes, jokingly, ‘and you’re right,’ and with this, he struck Sir Amelock on the head with his sword so hard that it shattered his helmet into two pieces, slicing off one of his ears into the bargain. The ear fell to the ground, along with one of Sir Amelock’s arms as well, which the sword also cut off. Sir Amelock fell from his horse in a dreadful state, in great pain and anguish. He men rushed up to rescue him and carried him off on his shield. He was very badly injured.

‘I have deserved this, and more,’ he lamented.

Sir Darell did not know that Generydes had returned, but with his suspicions aroused he rode into the thick of the melee and said to Sygrem: ‘Who is that knight I can see riding the black horse? Is it Generydes?’

‘Yes it is. He arrived back from Persia a short while ago and has done magnificently well! He defeated king Gwynan in battle, brought about a peace treaty and ended the war in Persia. The sultan is at peace!’

Sir Amelock lay on his bed, regretting the things that he had done. Faint and weary through loss of blood, he called for Serenydes. Very anxiously, she came to her husband’s bedside.

‘Madam,’ he said, ‘you know that since I first began to love you, my heart, my service, my loyalty, everything, has been directed towards you. But reason now forces me to call to mind and to conclude that both you and I have done wrong. You were the wife of king Auferius, who was my lord and sovereign, and I treacherously seduced you and made you forsake him and then falsely elicited the support and sympathy of the people in a rebellion against our sovereign lord.

‘I give no thought to the present war that has been the cause of such pain to me now, and were I to suffer more even than this, I think, in truth, that it would be no more than I deserve. I don’t think I have long to live, and I would rather that my conscience was clear. Call a messenger and tell him to go to Sir Darell and ask him to come and speak with me. I would gladly seek his advice about how I may persuade king Auferius to find it in his heart to have mercy upon me.’

Serenydes was distraught. She wept continually and no one could stop her.

‘Daughter, this is what I wish for,’ she sobbed to Lucidas. ‘Your father is intent upon sending for Sir Darell and I think it would be good if Sygrem carried this message, asking him to go to your father quickly.’

Sygrem was sent for and he rode out at once to find Sir Darell.

‘The maid Lucidas has sent me and I am following her instructions,’ he said when he found him. ‘Her father, by the grace of God, is very weak and I assure you that he’s not long for this world. This is what I’ve come to ask you, that you will be so generous as to go to see her father, for I know that this will be a great comfort to him. He wishes to speak with you about reconciliation, and she gives you her assurance that you will be able to go there safely, and to return safely as well.

Darell was pleased with this message, but he thought that he ought to obtain permission from Generydes first; he had no intention of going against Generydes’ wishes, so he went to see him and told him of Sir Amelock’s repentance and what he had been asked to do.

‘If what he’s saying is true, then I’ll be very pleased indeed for you to go,’ said Generydes.

‘His daughter Lucidas has arranged this meeting,’ replied Darell. ‘She’s guaranteed me safe passage. And I must tell you, sir, the reason why he’s sent for me in particular is because I have vowed to serve his daughter to the best of my ability.’

‘Are you happy to do this?’ asked Generydes.

‘’I am, sir, or I wouldn’t be asking.’

Generydes was pleased and said, with a smile: ‘Darell, I’ve known for a while that she’s rarely out of your thoughts. You are in love with her, I know, which pleases me a lot. I’ll do everything I can to help you to win her. So go at once, in God’s name’

Sir Darell arrived at the castle. Lucidas was there to meet him. She greeted him and thanked him for coming, then without any delay, took him to where her father lay weak and near to death. Sir Amelock welcomed him.

‘Sir Darell, please be a witness to what I am about to say. I desire, above all else, to be pardoned by Generydes. I have done him a great wrong. But nevertheless, I ask for his pity and mercy, regarding everything that has happened, and also his father Auferius, if it might be possible for him to forgive me as well. Never has a man been more unfaithful that I was to him. My life is near its end, and I would like you to persuade Generydes to make my peace with his father.

‘In return, here is my daughter Lucidas who, if I understand correctly, you love with all your heart and keep always in your thoughts. She shall be yours. This is your reward, along with all my legitimate land when you marry her. And also, Darell, concerning Serenydes, I implore you, treat her well and let her live in peace; let her live out her days in comfort, and see that this happens. Ask Generydes to come to speak with me now. I wish to God that he was here. This is all I have to say.’

Then he said to Lucidas: ‘Daughter, here is a noble knight. His ancestors were men of great power and he is descended from princes. I have promised you to him, and he shall have your hand in marriage, and all my land, if you agree to it. What are your thoughts about this?’

‘Sir, what you’ve told me that you want is very pleasing to me also. I shall obey you willingly.’

Sir Darell returned quickly to Generydes and told him all that he had heard, and seen. ‘And he asked me to ask you humbly, and with compassion, to go to see him before he dies.’

After a little effort, Sir Darell persuaded Generydes to go to see Sir Amelock. By now he lay in great distress; he was almost delirious, musing of times past and said to Generydes, like a man involved in a great struggle: ‘Mercy! Mercy, noble Generydes. Let me make peace with you, and with your father, king Auferius. It’s he whom I have especially offended, more than any other man living, for I treacherously seized his kingdom from him, I plead guilty to this, before God and before him, and I ask for his forgiveness, or otherwise, I know this for certain, my soul shall lie in everlasting pain.

‘One thing I ask also: you should know that Darell is to marry my daughter Lucidas and inherit my land. Be a good lord to him, and be good to Serenydes as well, so that she may pray for you, and live in peace. And moreover, I remember how I once shamefully and villainously struck you in full view of everyone in the court, with scant regard for your worthiness, and so it is with poetic justice, perhaps, that you see me missing that arm now. I humbly beg you to forgive me for that.’

With this, he fell back and lost consciousness for a moment, through the pain, which caused Generydes to feel pity for him. When Generydes saw that he was awake again, he said: ‘Sir Amelock, for my part, everything that has happened in the past between us is completely forgiven. I shall make your peace with my father as well, if I can, and with Serenydes, and before you die I would ask you to forgive me as well, before I leave.’

‘Truly, sir, that is quickly done. As far as I’m concerned, you have done me no injustice, nothing I haven’t deserved, and as far as God will give me the grace to, I shall depart this world with nothing but love and charity towards every person alive.’

Serenydes was in great distress. She tore her hair pitifully and appeared before Generydes with a naked sword. ‘For God’s love, take this sword and kill me with it!’ she cried. ‘Do it now, before you go, and release me from the pain that I’m in. I have well deserved an end like this.’

‘Away, madam! God forbid such a thing!’ cried Generydes, and he took her into his arms. ‘All that has been wrong between us can be mended, so comfort yourself. I’ve promised to go to my father and make peace between you and he.’

Generydes quickly departed.

Sir Amelock lay in agony and distress, sighing and moaning, and within a day or two he was dead. Serenydes took Sir Amelock’s death very badly, and her sorrow seemed to increase more and more. She lay across his body motionless – it was pitiful to see – and could not be moved for anything or anybody, young or old, and made no response to entreaties. Soon she grew pale and cold and within an hour, she was dead herself.

Lucidas was very upset to see both her parents dead in such a short space of time. She sat alone all day, weeping, and no one was able to give her any comfort, except that more and more her thoughts turned to Sir Darell, who had been so courteous and kind to her.

40 Make way for the new

Generydes sent a messenger to his father to tell him that Sir Amelock had died, and that he’d yielded up the realm of India and recognised king Auferius as his rightful lord before he did so, with piteous words of repentance over his theft and offence, and had humbly begged for his forgiveness. The king was very happy when he heard this, and prepared to abandon the siege of Parentine and ride back to Syria.

‘Tell my son to stay here, to restore order and bring the land under his own governance,’ he instructed the messenger. ‘I bequeath it to him. It’s his inheritance and it is his to rule over as he sees fit.’

Shortly afterwards, king Auferius fell ill, but nevertheless he gathered his knights and travelled directly to Syria. When he arrived, the first thing that he heard was the most distressing thing he could possibly have been told: that queen Serena had died only the day before. There was huge lamentation and mourning for the queen. The king went to where her body lay and fainted twice amongst those who stood with him. All of his men were very sorry to see this. They took him up and carried him to his chamber, but he seemed deep in thought and in great distress and they became very concerned for him. As the hours passed he became weaker and weaker, and, what with his own illness and the shock of losing his wife, he died just two days later.

The country was then in deep mourning, to have lost such a well-beloved queen, and now their king as well. They were all so grief-stricken that they didn’t know what to do. A great ceremony was prepared, prelates and priests sang at the burials, great lords paid their respects, ladies wore black and wept. But let us leave them now and speak of Generydes.

Generydes remained in India, doing his best to restore order and good governance, punishing those who had committed crimes and advancing those who displayed good leadership and intelligence, remembering constantly the duties of a ruler and making sure that justice prevailed and was a right of all men. He did this so well that everyone in the whole country applauded him. As king Auferius’s rightful heir, they gratefully accepted him as their king and crowned him accordingly. By common assent, they put themselves under his governance; he was so good, so courteous and so generous that they all grew to love him.

The forester, who had first alerted king Auferius to the treason against him all those years ago, who lost his rank and his occupation as a result of it and travelled to Thrace with queen Serena looking for the king, was given land worth a hundred pounds a year for his loyalty and had his rank restored, and his old occupation back.

One day, three knights rode out of Caesarea and travelled as fast as they could to Sir Darell, to tell him that his own father had died. They urged him to return with them and to ask the country’s lords and barons for their support, and to claim his inheritance. When they had delivered their message, you can imagine how upset Sir Darell was. He went straight to Generydes to tell him the news, begging him, in a sorrowful voice, to allow him to travel to Caesarea. Generydes, of course, gave him permission to go.

When Sir Darell had taken leave to depart, despite all the pain he felt over his father’s death, and the grief, his thoughts were of the maiden Lucidas and he went to see her in her chamber. Farewells were said with much kissing, the book says. Then he went directly to Caesarea. The people there were very pleased to see him and made him their prince. Everybody pledged their fealty, with a willing heart, he was so generous and well-liked, and he had the support of both the commons and the nobility.

When Darell had arranged everything to his liking in Caesarea, maintained order and justice and appointed suitable officials whom he thought would keep the country well in his absence, he travelled as quickly as he could back to India, to rejoin Generydes. Generydes had been waiting for him, and the long and short of it is that the prince of Caesarea was quickly married to Lucidas. When the marriage feast was over, because of the great affection and regard he held them both in, Generydes gave to Sir Darell the lands which were Sir Amelock’s originally, and signed official documents to the effect that Sir Darell, prince of Caesarea, to his great honour, was to govern India with full powers in Generydes’ absence. Generydes, the king of India, then prepared at once to return to Syria.

I find it written that on the way, two officials met him on his journey. One of them was the chief administrator of all of Syria, and the other was the governor of Damascas. Both of them looked very sad and serious, and Generydes wondered what the reason could be. He invited them to step forwards and to tell him what they had to say, and when they hesitated, he commanded them to do so.

They were reluctant to, for bad news always seems premature. But when they saw that they had no other choice, they said: ‘Sir, if it pleases you to take it with as much patience and resignation as you can, we have to tell you that your father has died, and also your mother, queen Serena. They died within three days of each another. It is a great sorrow to the entire country, although it must have been God’s will.’

When Generydes heard this, he fell from his horse in a faint and lay there completely still. When at last he regained consciousness, they did their utmost to get him back onto his horse, and took him to Damascus as quickly as they could, where Generydes looked very ill as he lay on his bed. His face was pale and colourless, his mood one of great sadness and grief.

‘Go to Sygrem,’ he said to Natanell, ‘and ask him to come to see me.’

When Sygrem arrived: ‘I’ve sent for you,’ said Generydes, ‘because, God knows, I’m in a bad way, as you can see. Go to Clarionas, my dear lady, and take this ring with you. Take it to her for me, for I’m afraid I may never see her again. Tell her this, and recommend me to her, humbly, and ask if she will pray for me. This is all I ask of her.’

’Of course, sir.’

Sygrem rode quickly into Persia and arrived at the city of Mountoner bearing this message, as he had been commanded to. He went straight to Clarionas, told her about Generydes and how sick he was, and when he’d finished, Clarionas was so distressed that she fainted. Mirabel was very concerned. ‘Madam, what’s the matter?’ she cried, and hurried over . ‘Don’t hurt yourself, I beg you!’ she said.

With these words, Clarionas awoke. ‘You are always a comfort to me,’ she told Mirabel. ‘But now I have no idea what to do.’

‘Madam, this is what you can do. Shall I tell you?’

‘Please tell me. If it lies in my power to do what you say, I shall do it.’

‘Then my advice is this: travel to Syria in secret, dressed in the clothes of a poor person who hasn’t any money. Take your chamberlain, Gwynot, with you, and someone to look after your horse, but that’s all. If you take the trouble to do this, you’ll be able to restore him to health, I guarantee.’

‘Then I’ll do this,’ replied Clarionas. ‘We’ll set out early tomorrow morning.’

Clarionas rode out from Mountoner early the next day, with Sygrem to guide her, in disguise, so that no one in the city knew that it was her. Onwards they rode, towards Syria, and as quickly as possible, they came to the city of Damascus. There, Sygrem left Clarionas to make her own way to the castle. When she arrived, she called up to the gatekeeper and he called back down and asked her who she was.

‘I’ve been told that the king is sick, and I trust God that I have the power to make him better,’ she said. ‘I know all the herbs and medicines that are able to effect a cure, and are beneficial to people, and I’m well experienced in this. So please, tell someone that I am here, so I can see the king.’

‘Damsel, I will do this for you.’

The gatekeeper went inside and spoke a few words with Natanell, then he led him to her. Neither of them recognised Clarionas. ‘You are welcome, sister,’ he said. ‘Tell me, what is it that you want?’

‘I’m a poor woman and I’ve heard that the king is sick,’ she said. ‘This makes me very sad, and I’d like to do my best, trusting to God with what skill that I have, to make him better again.’

Natanell recognised the ring that was on the woman’s finger, but he had no idea that it was Clarionas wearing it. He went straight to the king. ‘Sir, if it pleases you, there’s a woman at the castle gate who says that she’s good with herbs and medicines,’ he said, ‘and she speaks convincingly enough. She says that she thinks she can heal you. She’s wearing a ring on her finger, which seems an odd thing to me, for I’m sure it’s the one you gave to Clarionas, which I find hard to explain.’

‘Bring her to me,’ said Generydes.

Natanell returned to the gates of the castle and led the woman straight to the king, but she was wearing clothing that concealed her face so that – you know what? Generydes had no idea who she was. He noticed the ring, which looked to him very like the one that he’d given to Clarionas, but for all this, it didn’t occur to him that it might be Clarionas herself.

‘Sir, please don’t be despondent. If it pleases you to listen, I can tell you that I’ve travelled a long way to see you.’ Then, in a very courteous way, she offered to kiss him.

‘No, sister,’ objected Generydes. ‘By the grace of God, I must beg your pardon in this, but I will kiss no woman, even if she should heal me completely, unless it is the woman whom I love, the maiden Clarionas. If she was here now, and if I could kiss her, I think, may God save me, but that would be the best medicine I could ever have.’

‘I’ve brought a picture of her with me.’

‘You have? Let me see it.’

‘Clarionas took off her headdress. ‘It is this face,’ she said, delightedly.

‘God bless you! How did you accomplish this?’ exclaimed Generydes. ‘Why have you gone to so much trouble?’ and he took her into his arms and kissed her. They stayed together until darkness fell, and they remained together all that night, as happy as it is possible for two people to be.

In the morning, Clarionas set off on her journey back to Mountoner. Generydes had fully recovered his health and his spirits, and his heart was at ease. Three days later, he was crowned king of Syria, and all the lords and noblemen of the kingdom pledged their fealty to him, and did him homage with humble obedience.

When he had made sure that the country was in good order and that justice prevailed, he rode into Persia with a magnificent entourage of knights and lords, taking the shortest route to Mountoner, where the sultan was, in order to be married to Clarionas. When he arrived, the city rose up in celebration, for at times of the most extreme necessity, he had risen to the occasion himself and defended them from their enemies. He was their shield from adversity, and three days later, very solemnly and with great occasion, he married Clarionas.

King Gwynon of Egypt was there amongst the guests, and Ismael the Wild, Generydes’ brother, the king of Thrace. And to control all the guests and with everybody’s agreement, Sir Darell, the prince of Caesarea, was appointed chief steward at the feast. There were many other great lords and ladies there as well. The sultan arranged for some splendid jousting, and every entertainment imaginable. For young and old alike, is was a wonder to behold.

Soon afterwards, when everybody had gone back home to their own country, it happened that the sultan died, much to everyone’s grief and sadness. The men of the city gave voice to genuine lamentation, but took comfort in the faith and trust that they had in king Generydes to look after them. Generydes, king of India and of Syria, assumed control of the sultan’s lands by virtue of his marriage to Clarionas, and tested the fealty of every lord and baron, both young and old; and without exception, they were as happy to see him rule over them as any population has ever been to welcome a prestigious and immensely popular leader.

Generydes ruled with love and generosity, and saw that the law was observed throughout all of Persia. No one was wronged in any way that anyone could see, and there were few complaints, or even none at all. Generydes governed Persia with fairness and courtesy, and if any man committed a crime, it was swiftly punished. And because he did not forget the good and faithful service that Natanell had given to him – who had endured and suffered much on his behalf – he thought it fitting to reward him in a way that would bring him honour, so he gave him the maiden Mirabel in marriage, and bestowed upon them both as a wedding gift the lovely city of Sevre, in Syria, and all the land for a dozen miles around it, and six thousand pounds a year in maintenance, and made him Chief Justice of Syria, to oversee the rule of law.

Neither was Sir Anasore forgotten, either. Generydes made him the lord of a great barony in Persia, which had fallen back into the sultan’s possession when Lucas was killed, for he’d been the lord of the city of Idony and had died without heirs. And because of the great trust that Generydes had in him, he made Sir Anasore steward of Persia, to administer it on his behalf.

Sygrem was married to the laundress who had been willing to put her own safety in jeopardy in order to travel with Clarionas, and they were both given, by special dispensation, a noble rank and lands worth a hundred and fifty pounds a year.

In this way, Generydes rewarded all those who had helped him, and to put it boldly, it can be said that a better prince has never been seen, and that he was the best ruler who has ever worn a crown. He was a man of great fame and celebration, sultan of Persia and all its nobility, king of India and of Syria. Clarionas and he were greatly honoured and led a good life together for many years, in comfort and prosperity. They had children who were very dear to them, and who grew to be respected lords and ladies in their own right. One of his daughters was married to the king of Egypt when she was fifteen years old.

Generydes’ other children achieved great honour as well, but I must make an end to this story, beseeching He who is our Lord and Saviour to pardon and release us from our sins and to grant us a place for eternity in that joy and bliss that lasts forever – in Paradise, where all the saints live.

Here ends the book of Generydes and of his fair lady Clarionas

Translation and retelling of Generydes copyright © 2015, 2016 by Richard Scott-Robinson

references

Generydes – a romance in seven-line stanzas – William Aldis Wright, 1878, published by the Early English Text Society, available for download through the Internet Archive.

Generydes – Database of Middle English Romance, University of York

Complete text of Generydes, in Middle English, edited by W Aldis Wright from a manuscript in the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, available through the Early English Text Society (EETS)

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