The Quest for the Maiden
The senators were at first greatly amazed, and then one of them said: “My lord, will you not send out messengers to seek throughout all your lands for the maiden in the castle? Let each group of messengers search for one year, and return at the end of the year [Pg 47] with tidings. So shall you live in good hope of success from year to year.” The messengers were sent out accordingly, with wands in their hands and a sleeve tied on each cap, in token of peace and of an embassy; but though they searched with all diligence, after three years three separate embassies had brought back no news of the mysterious land and the beauteous maiden.
Then the groom of the chamber said to Maxen Wledig: “My lord, will you not go forth to hunt, as on the day when you dreamt this enthralling dream?” To this the emperor agreed, and rode to the place in the valley where he had slept. “Here,” he said, “my dream began, and I seemed to follow the river to its source.” Then the groom of the chamber said: “Will you not send messengers to the river’s source, my lord, and bid them follow the track of your dream?” Accordingly thirteen messengers were sent, who followed the river up until it issued from the highest mountain they had ever seen. “Behold our emperor’s dream!” they exclaimed, and they ascended the mountain, and descended the other side into a most beautiful and fertile plain, as Maxen Wledig had seen in his dream. Following the greatest river of all (probably the Rhine), the ambassadors reached the great seaport on the North Sea, and found the fleet waiting with one vessel larger than all the others; and they entered the ship and were carried to the fair island of Britain. Here they journeyed westward, and came to the mountainous land of Snowdon, whence they could see the sacred isle of Mona (Anglesey) and the fertile land of Arvon lying between the mountains and the sea. “This,” said the messengers, “is the land of our master’s dream, and in yon fair castle we shall find the maiden whom our emperor loves.”
The Finding of the Maiden
So they went through the lovely land of Arvon to the castle of Caernarvon, and in that lordly fortress was the great hall, with the two youths playing chess, the venerable man carving chessmen, and the maiden in her chair of gold. When the ambassadors saw the fair Princess Helena they fell on their knees before her and said: “Empress of Rome, all hail!” But Helena half rose from her seat in anger as she said: “What does this mockery mean? You seem to be men of gentle breeding, and you wear the badge of messengers: whence comes it, then, that ye mock me thus?” But the ambassadors calmed her anger, saying: “Be not wroth, lady: this is no mockery, for the Emperor of Rome, the great lord Maxen Wledig, has seen you in a dream, and he has sworn to wed none but you. Which, therefore, will you choose, to accompany us to Rome, and there be made empress, or to wait here until the emperor can come to you?” The princess thought deeply for a time, and then replied: “I would not be too credulous, or too hard of belief. If the emperor loves me and would wed me, let him find me in my father’s house, and make me his bride in my own home.”