To this the lady made reply: "Take care now! For surely, if he does not escape, with God's help I think we can clear his head of all the madness and insanity. But we must be on our way at once! For I recall a certain ointment with which Morgan the Wise presented me, saying there was no delirium of the head which it would not cure.”
Thereupon, they go off at once toward the town, which was hard by, for it was not any more than half a league of the kind they have in that country; and, as compared with ours, two of their leagues make one and four make two. And he remains sleeping all alone, while the lady goes to fetch the ointment. The lady opens a case of hers, and, taking out a box, gives it to the damsel, and charges her not to be too prodigal in its use: she should rub only his temples with it, for there is no use of applying it elsewhere; she should anoint only his temples with it, and the remainder she should carefully keep, for there is nothing the matter with him except in his brain. She sends him also a robe of spotted fur, a coat, and a mantle of scarlet silk. The damsel takes them, and leads in her right hand an excellent palfrey. And she added to these, of her own store, a shirt, some soft hose, and some new drawers of proper cut. With all these things she quickly set out, and found him still asleep where she had left him. After putting her horse in an enclosure where she tied him fast, she came with the clothes and the ointment to the place where he was asleep. Then she made so bold as to approach the madman, so that she could touch and handle him: then taking the ointment she rubbed him with it until none remained in the box, being so solicitous for his recovery that she proceeded to anoint him all over with it; and she used it so freely that she heeded not the warning of her mistress, nor indeed did she remember it. She put more on than was needed, but in her opinion it was well employed. She rubbed his temples and forehead, and his whole body down to the ankles. She rubbed his temples and his whole body so much there in the hot sunshine that the madness and the depressing gloom passed completely out of his brain. But she was foolish to anoint his body, for of that there was no need. If she had had five measures of it she would doubtless have done the same thing. She carries off the box, and takes hidden refuge by her horse. But she leaves the robe behind, wishing that, if God calls him back to life, he may see it all laid out, and may take it and put it on. She posts herself behind an oak tree until he had slept enough, and was cured and quite restored, having regained his wits and memory. Then he sees that he is as naked as ivory, and feels much ashamed; but he would have been yet more ashamed had he known what had happened. As it is, he knows nothing but that he is naked. He sees the new robe lying before him, and marvels greatly how and by what adventure it had come there. But he is ashamed and concerned, because of his nakedness, and says that he is dead and utterly undone if any one has come upon him there and recognised him. Meanwhile, he clothes himself and looks out into the forest to see if any one was approaching. He tries to stand up and support himself, but cannot summon the strength to walk away, for his sickness has so affected him that he can scarcely stand upon his feet. Thereupon, the damsel resolves to wait no longer, but, mounting, she passed close by him, as if unaware of his presence. Quite indifferent as to whence might come the help, which he needed so much to lead him away to some lodging-place, where he might recruit his strength, he calls out to her with all his might. And the damsel, for her part, looks about her as if not knowing what the trouble is. Confused, she goes hither and thither, not wishing to go straight up to him. Then he begins to call again: "Damsel, come this way, here!" And the damsel guided toward him her soft-stepping palfrey. By this ruse she made him think that she knew nothing of him and had never seen him before; in so doing she was wise and courteous. When she had come before him, she said: "Sir knight, what do you desire that you call me so insistently?”
“Ah," said he, "prudent damsel, I have found myself in this wood by some mishap—I know not what. For God's sake and your belief in Him, I pray you to lend me, taking my word as pledge, or else to give me outright, that palfrey you are leading in your hand.”
"Gladly, sire: but you must accompany me whither I am going.”
"Which way?" says he .
“To a town that stands near by, beyond the forest.”
"Tell me, damsel, if you stand in need of me.”
"Yes," she says, "I do; but I think you are not very well. For the next two weeks at least you ought to rest. Take this horse, which I hold in my right hand, and we shall go to our lodging-place.”
And he, who had no other desire, takes it and mounts, and they proceed until they come to a bridge over a swift and turbulent stream. And the damsel throws into the water the empty box she is carrying, thinking to excuse herself to her mistress for her ointment by saying that she was so unlucky as to let the box fall into the water for, when her palfrey stumbled under her, the box slipped from her gasp, and she came near falling in too, which would have been still worse luck. It is her intention to invent this story when she comes into her mistress' presence. Together they held their way until they came to the town, where the lady detained my lord Yvain and asked her damsel in private for her box and ointment: and the damsel repeated to her the lie as she had invented it, not daring to tell her the truth. Then the lady was greatly enraged, and said: "This is certainly a very serious loss, and I am sure and certain that the box will never be found again. But since it has happened so, there is nothing more to be done about it. One often desires a blessing which turns out to be a curse; thus I, who looked for a blessing and joy from this knight, have lost the dearest and most precious of my possessions. However, I beg you to serve him in all respects.”
"Ah, lady, how wisely now you speak! For it would be too bad to convert one misfortune into two."
Then they say no more about the box, but minister in every way they can to the comfort of my lord Yvain, bathing him and washing his hair, having him shaved and clipped, for one could have taken up a fist full of hair upon his face. His every want is satisfied: if he asks for arms, they are furnished him: if he wants a horse, they provide him with one that is large and handsome, strong and spirited. He stayed there until, upon a Tuesday, Count Alier came to the town with his men and knights, who started fires and took plunder. Those in the town at once rose up and equipped themselves with arms. Some armed and some unarmed, they issued forth to meet the plunderers, who did not deign to retreat before them, but awaited them in a narrow pass. My lord Yvain struck at the crowd; he had had so long a rest that his strength was quite restored, and he struck a knight upon his shield with such force that he sent down in a heap, I think, the knight together with his horse. The knight never rose again, for his backbone was broken and his heart burst within his breast. My lord Yvain drew back a little to recover. Then protecting himself completely with his shield, he spurred forward to clear the pass. One could not have counted up to four before one would have seen him cast down speedily four knights. Whereupon, those who were with him waxed more brave, for many a man of poor and timid heart, at the sight of some brave man who attacks a dangerous task before his eyes, will be overwhelmed by confusion and shame, which will drive out the poor heart in his body and give him another like to a hero's for courage. So these men grew brave and each stood his ground in the fight and attack. And the lady was up in the tower, whence she saw the fighting and the rush to win and gain possession of the pass, and she saw lying upon the ground many who were wounded and many killed, both of her own party and of the enemy, but more of the enemy than of her own. For my courteous, bold, and excellent lord Yvain made them yield just as a falcon does the teal. And the men and women who had remained within the town declared as they watched the strife: "Ah, what a valiant knight! How he makes his enemies yield, and how fierce is his attack! He was about him as a lion among the fallow deer, when he is impelled by need and hunger. Then, too, all our other knights are more brave and daring because of him, for, were it not for him alone, not a lance would have been splintered nor a sword drawn to strike. When such an excellent man is found he ought to be loved and dearly prized. See now how he proves himself, see how he maintains his place, see how he stains with blood his lance and bare sword, see how he presses the enemy and follows them up, how he comes boldly to attack them, then gives away and turns about; but he spends little time in giving away, and soon returns to the attack. See him in the fray again, how lightly he esteems his shield, which he allows to be cut in pieces mercilessly. Just see how keen he is to avenge the blows which are dealt at him. For, if some one should use all the forest of Argone to make lances for him, I guess he would have none left by night. For he breaks all the lances that they place in his socket, and calls for more. And see how he wields the sword when he draws it! Roland never wrought such havoc with Durendal against the Turks at Ronceval or in Spain! If he had in his company some good companions like himself, the traitor, whose attack we are suffering, would retreat today discomfited, or would stand his ground only to find defeat.”
Then they say that the woman would be blessed who should be loved by one who is so powerful in arms, and who above all others may be recognised as a taper among candles, as a moon among the stars, and as the sun above the moon. He so won the hearts of all that the prowess which they see in him made them wish that he had taken their lady to wife, and that he were master of the land.
Thus men and women alike praised him, and in doing so they but told the truth. For his attack on his adversaries was such that they vie with one another in flight. But he presses hard upon their heels, and all his companions follow him, for by his side they feel as safe as if they were enclosed in a high and thick stone wall. The pursuit continues until those who flee become exhausted, and the pursuers slash at them and disembowel their steeds. The living roll over upon the dead as they wound and kill each other. They work dreadful destruction upon each other; and meanwhile the Count flees with my lord Yvain after him, until he comes up with him at the foot of a steep ascent, near the entrance of a strong place which belonged to the Count. There the Count was stopped, with no one near to lend him aid; and without any excessive parley my lord Yvain received his surrender. For as soon as he held him in his hands, and they were left just man to man, there was no further possibility of escape, or of yielding, or of self-defence; so the Count pledged his word to go to surrender to the lady of Noroison as her prisoner, and to make such peace as she might dictate. And when he had accepted his word he made him disarm his head and remove the shield from about his neck, and the Count surrendered to him his sword. Thus he won the honour of leading off the Count as his prisoner, and of giving him over to his enemies, who make no secret of their joy. But the news was carried to the town before they themselves arrived. While all come forth to meet them, the lady herself leads the way. My lord Yvain holds his prisoner by the hand, and presents him to her. The Count gladly acceded to her wishes and demands, and secured her by his word, oath, and pledges. Giving her pledges, he swears to her that he will always live on peaceful terms with her, and will make good to her all the loss which she can prove, and will build up again the houses which he had destroyed. When these things were agreed upon in accordance with the lady's wish, my lord Yvain asked leave to depart. But she would not have granted him this permission had he been willing to take her as his mistress, or to marry her. But he would not allow himself to be followed or escorted a single step, but rather departed hastily: in this case entreaty was of no avail. So he started out to retrace his path, leaving the lady much chagrined, whose joy he had caused a while before. When he will not tarry longer she is the more distressed and ill at ease in proportion to the happiness he had brought to her, for she would have wished to honour him, and would have made him, with his consent, lord of all her possessions, or else she would have paid him for his services whatever sum he might have named. But he would not heed any word of man or woman. Despite their grief he left the knights and the lady who vainly tried to detain him longer.