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 in euery thyng · to his people full good and eke lovyng – In old tales and romances, as I read, there was once a king of India who was gentle and courteous, honest in word and deed, valiant in battle and a wise ruler who loved his people, and his name was King Auferius. This 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 earn her love. But it was all wasted time, to be honest, for 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, and his daughter was a queen in India, endowed with the greatest riches and obeyed by all her subjects. The story tells us that her name was Serenydes.
King Auferius had a steward, a man of great renown who governed all the countryside and the towns as well, at least, those that belonged directly 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 Queen 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. He often grew tired of the luxury of the court and then 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. On this occasion he unleashed the hounds and soon a hart was spotted amongst the trees. The animal jumped to its feet and sped off, the hounds gave chase and the king quickly followed. Soon he lost contact with all his knights. They tried to follow him but the sound of the dogs receded until all was silence. It was not long before the king had lost contact with the dogs and the hart as well, and found himself alone. 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 and by the grace of God 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, but when he was found on the sand, my father sent for him and made him his chief counsellor. He has prophesied that the land of Syria will be laid waste by a giant because of the love for me that this giant bears, so on his advice I have been 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 that you have been chasing all day. He has guided you here and what I tell you is the truth. But I must tell you 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,’ she said.
The king was insistent that the old man should tell him everything, but the wise man said: ‘As for this night of love, go to your bed, this is my advice. Tomorrow you will know everything.’
2Joy 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 quite quickly, but the maiden lay awake, sighing, and as she sighed, she began to weep and her tears fell onto his arms. 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.’
‘No, no I assure you. I have no regrets for your being here,’ she said, ‘only for your departure. I shall lose you, but I have no choice. I shall 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, for if we do, I’ll be heartbroken. I promise, tomorrow, before noon, we’ll speak with this old man that you look after, and he’ll tell us the truth of the matter.’
But when day had dawned and it was time to get up, it was the old man who sought out the king. ‘What I shall say, you must believe without question,’ he said. ‘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 the stains from, the stains left by these tears. Take it from me that only she can do it. Unless she washes them out with her own hands, 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 had all met up with one another along the path his 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.
3Medan’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 exclamations of sadness and distress.
As was the custom, everybody dressed in black, and soon all the arrangements for the funeral had been made. 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 it. 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 little baby boy.
Medan took the infant 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.’
4Learning 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: ‘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.’
5Generydes 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. Generydes sensibly inquired, from the many people he came across, where he could find the king. In 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, and 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. The man approached at once and gave them a courteous welcome. They were shown into the hall and they bowed before the king. Then Natanell spoke openly and assuredly: ‘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 good example of a fine young nobleman. Handsome and strong, courteous and good-humoured, he behaved like a perfect gentleman to everybody.
6Insults 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 over, 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 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.’ He drew his sword and went to find Generydes, intending to kill him. But Generydes had astutely judged the character of the queen and made quickly for his lodgings in the town. The steward went to Generydes’ chamber and then sought high and low for him, but Generydes was safe with Natanell, to whom he explained, as to a friend, what had just taken place.
‘We must remain 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 became 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 at once and went to declare his intentions to the king. He knelt before his father and said: ‘Sir, if it pleases your grace 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 that there was no way he could stop him – he was very unhappy, and so were all the knights and squires. They knew that there was nothing 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 departed.
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.
7Clarionas and Generydes fall in love
Generydes and Natanell went to seek lodgings, the best that they could find. The city was called Mountoner, the most magnificent city in the whole of Persia, and it was where the sultan had his residence. The next morning, dressed in their finest clothes, Generydes and Natanell made their way to the sultan’s splendid 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, 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,’ said Generydes, and went to her rooms. She looked carefully at Generydes when he arrived and found him to be very handsome, and his manner very pleasing.
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. She fell in love with him at once.
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. I have never offended him, and I don’t think there is any remedy, but I have never felt like this before; I tell you this in confidence.
‘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 that’s all I know. But unless I can catch a glimpse of him very soon, I think I shall die very shortly. I can’t get him out of my mind.’
‘Madam,’ said Mirabel. ‘Cheer up and relax. Don’t distress yourself. I shall happily arrange things so that you and he can meet again very soon. Everything will be fine.’
Clarionas began at once to feel a little more comforted, although she still looked deathly pale. ‘Dear Mirabel, thank you,’ she said. ‘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.’
‘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 about me.’
‘Well, Sir, you will have your answer. I can say no more, except to say that I shall do everything in my power.’
The next morning, when all his duties had been performed, Natanell 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 anxious. ‘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. 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. It 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.’
‘Madam,’ replied Generydes. ‘Please don’t be offended. I thank you for it! 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 second that,’ replied Generydes.
‘After all this skirmishing,’ interrupted Mirabel, ‘let there be peace! I must go shortly, and let your hearts bear to be apart for a while when I do, for it is good to be wary of wagging tongues.’
But 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 love for the 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 one another secretly. 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.
8The King of India becomes an earl in Thrace
Sir Amelock had 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 where the king had his palace, 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. I warn you, the three lords who are hunting with you are loyal to her.’
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 lay 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 won’t wish to continue helping you? Even though things look bleak at the moment, they may begin to look up again, with God’s grace, and we would like to remain 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 the land of Thrace, which was known to be very wealthy, and as soon as they arrived, Auferious 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 he 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 and gave 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.
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 myself. 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 to.’
So 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 – in fact 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 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 this 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 what the aged man in the castle in the forest had once told him, and many other things as well which had subsequently come true, like the birth of his son.
10King Auferius of Thrace
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. 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 he had been told that only she alone could wash out the stain. ‘Now the shirt is clean, and this 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 Queen 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! They kissed and held one another.
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 question 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, 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 found themselves in complete accord. They all swore allegiance to him, and when they had done so, Auferius sent for Queen Serena and, as quickly as decorum might allow, he 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, but in all honesty, he later acquired some maturity and 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.
11Slander and subterfuge
Malichias saw Generydes early one morning make his way to Clarionas’s chamber 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 that they said to one another as he hid there. Unfortunately, Generydes had chosen that morning to open his heart to Clarionas. Malichias went to tell the sultan everything that he had heard, mixing truth with lies.
When the sultan heard what Malichias had to say, he swore that they should be put to death immediately, both of them.
‘I would advise you to spare your daughter,’ replied Malichias, with insincerity. ‘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 know what I intend to do about it,’ replied the sultan.
‘My lord, if it pleases you to get up early 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.’
‘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 Clarionas’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,’ Generydes 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 rescued me.’
‘I’m frightened of Malichias,’ said Clarionas. ‘I dreamt that he wanted to kill me, although he didn’t have the power to, but he wanted to harm us both.’
After they’d said this to one another, believing that their conversation was in private, the sultan had Generydes seized. He instructed Malichias to tie him up, throw him into the deepest dungeon that he could find and leave him there for as long as any life remained in him. Or to put him to a shameful death, if he preferred, because he knew that this was what Malichias wanted. He sent for his daughter and shouted at her, scolded her and accused her of many things that she hadn’t done and for which he had no proof. He found himself believing the worst of her, which soon made him very unhappy and which he would later 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, and at last, Generydes could take no more. He had no 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 eyeballs fell out of their sockets. 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 stone 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 should 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 Anasore to go straight to the sultan, tell him the story that they had concocted and that he would back him up to the hilt and pretend to be an eyewitness. 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 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.’
12The 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 and bone 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 faithfully related everything that he had seen. The sultan was not pleased at all and became even angrier than he had been before.
He sent for all his noblemen. 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, once led me to believe that he was as pleased to be in my service as I was with him. His name is Generydes, as you all know. But now he has shamed me by sleeping with my daughter and having sex with her. I have seen him meet 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 be committing a grave injustice. I take God to witness that I am innocent and I will prove this through a trial by combat if necessary. 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! If anyone here wishes to speak in your defence, I can assure them that their career will not prosper. I require everybody 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 his honour required it, or that his help might be needed.
‘I marvel that Anasore should receive such a shabby hearing in this place,’ he said, addressing his fellow knights, lords but 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 justice 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 that 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 Anasore 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 her love.
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 that his lords knew the day that they’d all agreed to, and that they must keep to it. So they assembled again at the due time, and there were so many of them present in the hall that it was not large enough to accommodate them all, so the sultan took 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.’
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 the 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. 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 should be determined that it will remain so.’
The lords all assented to this and agreed with Lucas.
‘We are all in accordance,’ 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 should 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 Generydes’ 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 offence, 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 as 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 over-proud king’s intent, and if I understand your own intentions correctly, I would welcome a chance to fight hand to hand with him 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 replied: ‘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 from this danger and 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 into his arms. ‘Daughter, it has all been my fault,’ he said. ‘You were wrongfully accused and I absolve you of all guilt. You are blameless and you are free to see me whenever you like.’
Clarionas was delighted to hear this. She 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.
14Persia prepares for war
The next morning, the sultan and all his lords came into the hall, with Generydes at the front 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 far and wide 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 amongst 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, all of them trained and capable soldiers. This king was advanced in years and although it had been difficult for him to travel such a distance, he was not going to renege upon his obligations. The sultan was pleased to see him, especially since he had brought along his son Anasore, 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, in fact 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 accompanying him was his son, Sir Darell, whom we have already met at the sultan's court. Cherydon was a capable fighter, his archers and infantry were brave and well-equipped 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 that they had brought along 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 the case 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.