Now, whoever wants to hear the story, their lives, their death, their joy, their sorrow, has but to lend heart and ear— you'll have the fill of your desires. There was a lord of Parmenie, although not yet a man in years. (All this I've read in the true account of what befell him in this life.) By birth he ranked with any king, in lands and property a prince, 250 a handsome fellow, sound of limb, loyal, generous, and bold. This young master in his day shed happiness upon his land as does the sun its brilliance. A delight to all the world, to knighthood an example, an honor to his race, his country's trust and cornerstone. He lacked of all the qualities a lord should have but one: prudence in adversity. He let his heart's desires and whims be the authors of his actions. and thus in time he came to grief. So has it ever been, and is: surging youth and high ambition conspire with wealth to bring disaster. Forbearance, that many another man would know to use, when hard pressed, simply never occurred to him. An eye for an eye, tooth for tooth, might against might, meet force with force— that's the way he thought and lived. But in the long run it doesn't pay to counter every turn of fate with iron visage and mailed fist. God knows, it's give and take by which alone a man escapes some of the bruises life will deal. Whoever won't accept bruises may only bring them on himself. It's a fatal error, easy to make. That's the way bears are baited-- the creature deals out blow for blow until it's overcome by them. So it happened to this man also. By dealing vengeance with a will he brought it down upon himself. That he came to ruin in the end was not because of wickedness, that all too common human failing, but from the ungoverned temptations of youth's exuberance. It was just from youthful thoughtlessness, as do young men first tasting power, that he worked against his own fortune. A childish spirit of adventure with all the pride it brings flourished in his heart. 300 He acted as boys so often do who never try to look ahead and throw all caution to the wind— just live and live and live today. When first his life dawned to living, like the rising of the daystar laughing down on all the world, he thought it would go on forever— something that has yet to happen— that life's sweetness would stay the same. No. Life's very beginning was but short-lived for him. Upon the morning sunlight in his world of joy, even as it first sparkled, fell the sudden evening he had not seen coming, and turned his morning to night. The history of his adventures tells us what his name was; legend tells us how it shone. Riwalin was his proper name, but he also was called Canelengres. There are many who believe he was a native of Lohnois, and they, recounting his birth and deeds, make him king of that land. But Thomas, who has read the sources, knows the truth, and leaves no doubt that he was indeed of Parmenie and held another land in fief from a great Britunish lord and to him owed fealty, the noble and powerful Duke Morgan. Now, when the young lord Riwalin had practiced knighthood some three years, much to his credit and renown, and in his own country had acquired every resource of that skill, all the power of siege and warfare— riches, land, and men were his— moved by need or haughtiness, one or the other, I know not which (the story doesn't plainly say)— accusing Morgan of some wrong, he attacked his overlord. Armed and mounted he invaded the land and used his force to such effect that soon many a fortress fell into his hands. 350 Towns and cities had to yield and ransom back their goods and lives, like it as they might, or not. As he kept collecting plunder, soon he had enough support to multiply his mounted forces into a mighty army, so that now he moved at will. Be it city, be it stronghold, nothing more could stand against him. He had also suffered losses, spent the lives of many men, for Morgan wasn't caught off guard and threw his forces into battle, striking back with all his might. Losses and gains are part and parcel with warfare and knighthood. That's the way wars go— both lose and win— that's what war is all about. Morgan used the same tactics, subduing fortresses and castles, taking over goods and men from the cities of his enemy, doing what harm he could. But little did it avail him, since in return for every strike Riwalin did equal damage and counterattacked every time until he had the upper hand. Morgan found himself hard pressed and nowhere safety or defense outside his own castles, the strongest and the best. Riwalin besieged them all, throwing attacks and skirmishes against them so relentlessly that soon he drove every defender scurrying back behind the gates, and right there before them displayed his knights in tournaments. While holding his foe under siege he ravaged the entire country, pillaging and burning, until Morgan asked for parlance and only after much entreaty managed to gain an agreement for a year's peace between them, and both pledged security with fortresses and formal oaths 400 as required by law and custom. Riwalin, well satisfied, took his men and started homeward. He shared the spoil with a free hand among them all, riches in plenty. Then he dismissed them honorably. Each took well-earned leave to return to his own household. Having reached his aims thus far, Canel now thought of other things, and very soon made up his mind to start another expedition, more for pleasure than for gain, this time with rich display suited to his new ambitions. Equipage and finery, everything to meet his needs, enough to make a year's supply, was put aboard a ship for him. He had heard so many tell how courtly and respected the young King Marke was, noble Lord of Curnewal, whose star of fame was rising. Already Marke held in sway both Curnewal and Engelant, Curnewal being his by birth. Engelant was a different story: he had ruled in that country ever since the Sahsens drove the Brituns from the land of Gales, and made themselves masters there. Once called Britanje for its people, now the country was renamed for those who had been driven out: from Gales comes now En-gal-lant. The while they occupied that realm, and split it up among themselves, each tried to be a petty king, a lord acknowledging no master, to no one's gain, to the loss of all. Soon they were at each other's throats, murdering, fighting viciously, until they had to appeal to Marke pledging to him their lands in peace. In times since they served him well, so respectfully and faithfully, that never has another kingdom followed any king so well. We also learn from the histories 450 that in every neighboring land that recognized his name no other king was honored more. Just the court for Riwalin. There he planned to stay and pass the year with Marke, bettering himself by that example, learning further skills of knighthood, and polishing his manners. His noble heart told him to. He saw the good in foreign ways and learned from them to mend his own to his own credit and renown. With this in mind he started out, having given land and people into the keeping of his marshal, a ranking lord born and bred there, a man whose loyalty he trusted, named Rual li foitenant. Then Riwalin set sail to cross the sea with twelve companions. He didn't need a bigger army— they would be force enough. Time and tides at length brought him to the coasts and shores of Curnewal, where, before he went on land, he learned that the excellent Marke had gone on to Tintajel, and so, continuing his journey, he sailed there, and found the king, much to his satisfaction. First he put on proper dress and gave his men rich outfits. So they made their way to court and there Marke in his power received him with proper ceremony and with him all his men. The welcome given Riwalin, the honor and reception, were such as he had not been shown anywhere at any time so worthily as given him there. Such elegance soon set him thinking and attracted him to courtly manners. He reflected, more than once: "By heaven's name, God himself must have brought me to this people! Good fortune has smiled on me. All I've heard tell of Marke— it's all true. Here it is. 500 He lives well, in courtly style." Then he revealed to Marke with what purpose he had come. When Marke had listened to his story and understood what he intended, he spoke thus: "My heartiest welcome! My own person and possessions, all are yours to command." Canelengres was deeply pleased and just as deeply pleased the court: everyone, rich or poor, immediately liked the young worthy and were fonder of him than any guest. Well he deserved such affection— Riwalin in his excellence was more than willing, and well able, to serve the entire company in the full spirit of comradeship, both with riches and in person. Thus worthily entertained, and held in high esteem, he quietly learned every day more of courtly quality. Now Marke declared his festival. This was a celebration that Marke had decreed by law as well as by invitation. Whenever he proclaimed it, all knighthood, from far and near, in all the kingdom of Engelant, made the journey every year to come together at Curnewal. They brought with them in company retinues of lovely ladies and many another example of beauty. Now the festival was set, proclaimed and appointed, for all the month of May, from the sweetness of its entrance to last until it takes its leave. Right before Tintajel, there the company came together on the loveliest of meadows any eye has ever seen in any age, before or since. Summer in her gentleness with all her sweet industry had smoothed the fields for idleness. All the small woodland songbirds whose purpose is to please the ear, 550 the blossoms, grass, greenery, all that's restful to the eye and fills receptive hearts with pleasure, the summer field had them all. All was there that one could wish, whatever riches May could offer. Both sun and cooling shadow, the linden by the water, the easy, gentle breezes, each in its own special way gave pleasure to Marke's company. From bedewed grasses rose the blossoms' laughter. The green meadow, May's companion, wore her brightest summer vestment newly woven out of flowers to the gathering's great pleasure, and glistened in their sight. The fragrant bushes seemed to smile on everyone so earnestly that mind and heart, then the eyes, were moved to inspiration, and on both sides, nodding faces traded smiles with sparkling glances. The birds' gentle chorus, so sweet, so beautiful, as pleasant to the hearing as refreshing to the mind, echoed over hill and valley. Blessed be the nightingale, that little champion of song, may it ever sing so sweetly! It warbled in the bushes so enthusiastically as to lift many a heart in that high-spirited company. Everywhere on the green grass the company's pavilions were set up for one and all to take their ease according to their own desires. Depending on how each sought pleasure, every camp had its own flavor. The wealthy showed their riches, the elegant their taste. Some reclined in silken shelters; others lay among the flowers, the linden being roof enough. Still others made themselves cabins of fresh, green branches. Neither visitors nor retinue 600 had ever camped so delightfully as on the lovely meadow there. And there too was a wealth of plenty, a perfect festival of things, splendid food and dress, such as each might wish and had prepared for the occasion. All of this Marke observed, the finery and riches, and saw that all were living well in elegance, and were happy. Thus the festival began. Anything that might inspire the observant man to high spirits— here he had the chance to see it, such sights as he might only wish. Some strolled about to see the ladies, others went to watch the dances, some the shows of horsemanship, others the noble sport of jousting. Whatever a man's heart desired, there he had more than enough, for everyone there was in the prime of life, vying with one another in a festive contest of pleasures. And the excellent Marke, courtly and noble-minded, in addition to the noted beauties who had their place in his pavilion, had brought one more: a unique marvel, his own sister, Blanscheflur, a lovely girl, the equal of whom was not found among women. All the stories of her beauty declare that no man alive could ever give her more than a glance and not be filled with desire for all that's womanly and good. This feast for the eyes, spread on the meadow, charged many a man with vigor and many a heart with high spirits. Everywhere on the lawn there were other lovely women, each and every one of whom by beauty's rank might be a queen. Merely by their presence there they inspired everyone 650 and made many a heart happy. Now the teams for the tournament were being formed, both hosts and guests, and all the best and worthiest rode in from all directions. Marke himself was one of them, with his companion Riwalin, who had left his own men to see to it otherwise that their attendance and performance should attract due attention and be a credit to all of them. Everywhere, suddenly, there was horse, in splendid trappings decked out in rare fabrics, snow-white or brilliant scarlet, golden, violet, green, or blue. Whichever way the eye might turn, there were others, in woven silks, and others still, particolored with every kind of subtle detail, a pageant of variety. The mounted knights displayed dress of wonderful sumptuousness, intricate with cuts and pleats. Summer itself showed its wish to be there with Marke in person, to whom it paid wondrous tribute with many a coronet of blossoms. In this delight of summertime they practiced knighthood's finest crafts: rows of riders, troop on troop, wove together, in and out, up across the field and back, until they passed in review before the place where Blanscheflur, one of the world's true wonders, and many another lovely woman had gathered to see the show— these men who rode with such skill, so majestically, that every eye was upon them. But among the finest performers it was the courtly Riwalin, as though it had been so ordained, who earned the prize that day, and excelled before all others. This wasn't lost on the ladies, who declared that, of the company, 700 no one rode so expertly as he, by the rules of horsemanship. They praised everything he did. "Look," went the cry, "that young man— what a gift he has! See how with every move he shows himself among the best! And what a handsome thing he is! He's so well put together— really formed splendidly! And watch how he holds his shield— you might think it was glued in place! How well the lance fits his hand, and isn't he dressed elegantly? Look how he holds his head, the way he sits, the way he moves— oh, what a wonderful man! And how lucky the woman will be who loses her heart for his sake!"
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