Part 16 out of 19
received them from their beaks, and carried them to a temple
placed upon a hill, and suspended them for all time upon a sacred
column, on which stood the statue of Immortality.
Astolpho was amazed at all this, and asked his guide to explain
it. He replied, "The old man is Time. All the names upon the
tickets would be immortal if the old man did not plunge them into
the river of oblivion. Those clamorous birds which make vain
efforts to save certain of the names are flatterers, pensioners,
venal rhymesters, who do their best to rescue from oblivion the
unworthy names of their patrons; but all in vain; they may keep
them from their fate a little while, but ere long the river of
oblivion must swallow them all.
"The swans, that with harmonious strains carry certain names to
the temple of Eternal Memory, are the great poets, who save from
oblivion worse than death the names of those they judge worthy of
immortality. Swans of this kind are rare. Let monarchs know the
true breed, and fail not to nourish with care such as may chance
to appear in their time."
THE WAR IN AFRICA
When Astolpho had descended to the earth with the precious phial,
St. John showed him a plant of marvellous virtues, with which he
told him he had only to touch the eyes of the king of Abyssinia to
restore him to sight. "That important service," said the saint,
"added to your having delivered him from the Harpies, will induce
him to give you an army wherewith to attack the Africans in their
rear, and force them to return from France to defend their own
country." The saint also instructed him how to lead his troops in
safety across the great deserts, where caravans are often
overwhelmed with moving columns of sand. Astolpho, fortified with
ample instructions, remounted the Hippogriff, thanked the saint,
received his blessing, and took his flight down to the level
Keeping the course of the river Nile, he soon arrived at the
capital of Abyssinia, and rejoined Senapus. The joy of the king
was great when he heard again the voice of the hero who had
delivered him from the Harpies. Astolpho touched his eyes with the
plant which he had brought from the terrestrial paradise, and
restored their sight. The king's gratitude was unbounded. He
begged him to name a reward, promising to grant it, whatever it
might be. Astolpho asked an army to go to the assistance of
Charlemagne, and the king not only granted him a hundred thousand
men, but offered to lead them himself.
The night before the day appointed for the departure of the troops
Astolpho mounted his winged horse, and directed his flight towards
a mountain, whence the fierce South-wind issues, whose blast
raises the sands of the Nubian desert, and whirls them onward in
overwhelming clouds. The paladin, by the advice of St. John, had
prepared himself with a leather bag, which he placed adroitly,
with its mouth open, over the vent whence issues this terrible
wind. At the first dawn of morning the wind rushed from its cavern
to resume its daily course, and was caught in the bag, and
securely tied up. Astolpho, delighted with his prize, returned to
his army, placed himself at their head, and commenced his march.
The Abyssinians traversed without danger or difficulty those vast
fields of sand which separate their country from the kingdoms of
Northern Africa, for the terrible South-wind, taken completely
captive, had not force enough left to blow out a candle.
Senapus was distressed that he could not furnish any cavalry, for
his country, rich in camels and elephants, was destitute of
horses. This difficulty the saint had foreseen, and had taught
Astolpho the means of remedying. He now put those means in
operation. Having reached a place whence he beheld a vast plain
and the sea, he chose from his troops those who appeared to be the
best made and the most intelligent. These he caused to be arranged
in squadrons at the foot of a lofty mountain which bordered the
plain, and he himself mounted to the summit to carry into effect
his great design. Here he found vast quantities of fragments of
rock and pebbles. These he set rolling down the mountain's side,
and, wonderful to relate, as they rolled they grew in size, made
themselves bodies, legs, necks, and long faces. Next they began to
neigh, to curvet, to scamper on all sides over the plain. Some
were bay, some roan, some dapple, some chestnut. The troops at the
foot of the mountain exerted themselves to catch these new-created
horses, which they easily did, for the miracle had been so
considerate as to provide all the horses with bridles and saddles.
Astolpho thus suddenly found himself supplied with an excellent
corps of cavalry, not fewer (as Archbishop Turpin asserts) than
eighty thousand strong. With these troops Astolpho reduced all the
country to subjection, and at last arrived before the walls of
Agramant's capital city, Biserta, to which he laid siege.
We must now return to the camp of the Christians, which lay before
Arles, to which city the Saracens had retired after being defeated
in a night attack led on by Rinaldo. Agramant here received the
tidings of the invasion of his country by a fresh enemy, the
Abyssinians, and learned that Biserta was in danger of falling
into their hands. He took counsel of his officers, and decided to
send an embassy to Charles, proposing that the whole quarrel
should be submitted to the combat of two warriors, one from each
side, according to the issue of which it should be decided which
party should pay tribute to the other, and the war should cease.
Charlemagne, who had not heard of the favorable turn which affairs
had taken in Africa, readily agreed to this proposal, and Rinaldo
was selected on the part of the Christians to sustain the combat.
The Saracens selected Rogero for their champion. Rogero was still
in the Saracen camp, kept there by honor alone, for his mind had
been opened to the truth of the Christian faith by the arguments
of Bradamante, and he had resolved to leave the party of the
infidels on the first favorable opportunity, and to join the
Christian side. But his honor forbade him to do this while his
former friends were in distress; and thus he waited for what time
might bring forth, when he was startled by the announcement that
he had been selected to uphold the cause of the Saracens against
the Christians, and that his foe was to be Rinaldo, the brother of
While Rogero was overwhelmed with this intelligence Bradamante on
her side felt the deepest distress at hearing of the proposed
combat. If Rogero should fall she felt that no other man living
was worthy of her love; and if, on the other hand, Heaven should
resolve to punish France by the death of her chosen champion,
Bradamante would have to deplore her brother, so dear to her, and
be no less completely severed from the object of her affections.
While the fair lady gave herself up to these sad thoughts, the
sage enchantress, Melissa, suddenly appeared before her. "Fear
not, my daughter," said she, "I shall find a way to interrupt this
combat which so distresses you."
Meanwhile Rinaldo and Rogero prepared their weapons for the
conflict. Rinaldo had the choice, and decided that it should be on
foot, and with no weapons but the battle-axe and poniard. The
place assigned was a plain between the camp of Charlemagne and the
walls of Arles.
Hardly had the dawn announced the day appointed for this memorable
combat, when heralds proceeded from both sides to mark the lists.
Erelong the African troops were seen to advance from the city,
Agramant at their head; his brilliant arms adorned in the Moorish
fashion, his horse a bay, with a white star on his forehead.
Rogero marched at his side, and some of the greatest warriors of
the Saracen camp attended him, bearing the various parts of his
armor and weapons. Charlemagne, on his part, proceeded from his
intrenchments, ranged his troops in semicircle, and stood
surrounded by his peers and paladins. Some of them bore portions
of the armor of Rinaldo, the celebrated Ogier, the Dane, bearing
the helmet which Rinaldo took from Mambrino. Duke Namo of Bavaria
and Salomon of Bretagne bore two axes, of equal weight, prepared
for the occasion.
The terms of the combat were then sworn to with the utmost
solemnity by all parties. It was agreed that if from either part
any attempt was made to interrupt the battle both combatants
should turn their arms against the party which should be guilty of
the interruption; and both monarchs assented to the condition that
in such case the champion of the offending party should be
discharged from his allegiance, and at liberty to transfer his
arms to the other side.
When all the preparations were concluded the monarchs and their
attendants retired each to his own side, and the champions were
left alone. The two warriors advanced with measured steps towards
each other, and met in the middle of the space. They attacked one
another at the same moment, and the air resounded with the blows
they gave. Sparks flew from their battle-axes, while the velocity
with which they managed their weapons astonished the beholders.
Rogero, always remembering that his antagonist was the brother of
his betrothed, could not aim a deadly wound; he strove only to
ward off those levelled against himself. Rinaldo, on the other
hand, much as he esteemed Rogero, spared not his blows, for he
eagerly desired victory for his own sake, and for the sake of his
country and his faith.
The Saracens soon perceived that their champion fought feebly, and
gave not to Rinaldo such blows as he received from him. His
disadvantage was so marked that anxiety and shame were manifest on
the countenance of Agramant. Melissa, one of the most acute
enchantresses that ever lived, seized this moment to disguise
herself under the form of Rodomont, that rude and impetuous
warrior, who had now for some time been absent from the Saracen
camp. Approaching Agramant, she said, "How could you, my lord,
have the imprudence of selecting a young man without experience to
oppose the most redoubtable warrior of France? Surely you must
have been regardless of the honor of your arms, and of the fate of
your empire! But it is not too late. Break without delay the
agreement which is sure to result in your ruin." So saying, she
addressed the troops who stood near, "Friends," said she, "follow
me; under my guidance every one of you will be a match for a score
of those feeble Christians." Agramant, delighted at seeing
Rodomont once more at his side, gave his consent, and the
Saracens, at the instant, couched their lances, set spurs to their
steeds, and swept down upon the French. Melissa, when she saw her
work successful, disappeared.
Rinaldo and Rogero, seeing the truce broken, and the two armies
engaged in general conflict, stopped their battle; their martial
fury ceased at once, they joined hands, and resolved to act no
more on either side until it should be clearly ascertained which
party had failed to observe its oath. Both renewed their promise
to abandon forever the party which had been thus false and
Meanwhile, the Christians, after the first moment of surprise, met
the Saracens with courage redoubled by rage at the treachery of
their foes. Guido the Wild, brother and rival of Rinaldo, Griffon
and Aquilant, sons of Oliver, and numerous others whose names have
already been celebrated in our recitals, beat back the assailants,
and at last, after prodigious slaughter, forced them to take
shelter within the walls of Arles.
We will now return to Orlando, whom we last heard of as furiously
mad, and doing a thousand acts of violence in his senseless rage.
One day he came to the borders of a stream which intercepted his
course. He swam across it, for he could swim like an otter, and on
the other side saw a peasant watering his horse. He seized the
animal, in spite of the resistance of the peasant, and rode it
with furious speed till he arrived at the sea-coast, where Spain
is divided from Africa by only a narrow strait. At the moment of
his arrival a vessel had just put off to cross the strait. She was
full of people who, with glass in hand, seemed to be taking a
merry farewell of the land, wafted by a favorable breeze.
The frantic Orlando cried out to them to stop and take him in; but
they, having no desire to admit a madman to their company, paid
him no attention. The paladin thought this behavior very uncivil;
and by force of blows made his horse carry him into the water in
pursuit of the ship. The wretched animal soon had only his head
above water; but as Orlando urged him forward, nothing was left
for the poor beast but either to die or swim over to Africa.
Already Orlando had lost sight of the bark; distance and the swell
of the sea completely hid it from his sight. He continued to press
his horse forward, till at last it could struggle no more, and
sunk beneath him. Orlando, nowise concerned, stretched out his
nervous arms, puffing the salt water from before his mouth, and
carried his head above the waves. Fortunately they were not rough,
scarce a breath of wind agitated the surface; otherwise, the
invincible Orlando would then have met his death. But fortune,
which it is said favors fools, delivered him from this danger, and
landed him safe on the shore of Ceuta. Here he rambled along the
shore till he came to where the black army of Astolpho held its
Now it happened, just before this time, that a vessel filled with
prisoners which Rodomont had taken at the bridge had arrived, and,
not knowing of the presence of the Abyssinian army, had sailed
right into port, where of course the prisoners and their captors
changed places, the former being set at liberty and received with
all joy, the latter sent to serve in the galleys. Astolpho thus
found himself surrounded with Christian knights, and he and his
friends were exchanging greetings and felicitations, when a noise
was heard in the camp, and seemed to increase every moment.
Astolpho and his friends seized their weapons, mounted their
horses, and rode to the quarter whence the noise proceeded.
Imagine their astonishment when they saw that the tumult was
caused by a single man, perfectly naked, and browned with dirt and
exposure, but of a force and fury so terrible that he overturned
all that offered to lay hands on him.
Astolpho, Dudon, Oliver, and Florimart gazed at him with
amazement. It was with difficulty they knew him. Astolpho, who had
been warned of his condition by his holy monitor, was the first to
recognize him. As the paladins closed round Orlando, the madman
dealt one and another a blow of his fist, which, if they had not
been in armor, or he had had any weapon, would probably have
despatched them; as it was, Dudon and Astolpho measured their
length on the sand. But Florimart seized him from behind,
Sansonnet and another grasped his legs, and at last they succeeded
in securing him with ropes. They took him to the water-side and
washed him well, and then Astolpho, having first bandaged his
mouth so that he could not breathe except through his nose,
brought the precious phial, uncorked it, and placed it adroitly
under his nostrils, when the good Orlando took it all up in one
breath. O marvellous prodigy! The paladin recovered in an instant
all his intelligence. He felt like one who had awakened from a
painful dream, in which he had believed that monsters were about
to tear him to pieces. He seemed prostrated, silent, and abashed.
Florismart, Oliver, and Astolpho stood gazing upon him, while he
turned his eyes around and on himself. He seemed surprised to find
himself naked, bound, and stretched on the sea-shore. After a few
moments he recognized his friends, and spoke to them in a tone so
tender that they hastened to unbind him, and to supply him with
garments. Then they exerted themselves to console him, to diminish
the weight with which his spirits were oppressed, and to make him
forget the wretched condition into which he had been sunk.
Orlando, in recovering his reason, found himself also delivered
from his insane attachment to the queen of Cathay. His heart felt
now no further influenced by the recollection of her than to be
moved with an ardent desire to retrieve his fame by some
distinguished exploit. Astolpho would gladly have yielded to him
the chief command of the army, but Orlando would not take from the
friend to whom he owed so much the glory of the campaign; but in
everything the two paladins acted in concert, and united their
counsels. They proposed to make a general assault on the city of
Biserta, and were only waiting a favorable moment, when their plan
was interrupted by new events.
Agramant, after the bloody battle which followed the infraction of
the truce, found himself so weak that he saw it was in vain to
attempt to remain in France. So, in concert with Sobrino, the
bravest and most trusted of his chiefs, he embarked to return to
his own country, having previously sent off his few remaining
troops in the same direction. The vessel which carried Agramant
and Sobrino approached the shore where the army of Astolpho lay
encamped before Biserta, and having discovered this fact before it
was too late, the king commanded the pilot to steer eastward, with
a view to seek protection of the King of Egypt. But the weather
becoming rough, he consented to the advice of his companions, and
sought harbor in an island which lies between Sicily and Africa.
There he found Gradasso, the warlike king of Sericane, who had
come to France to possess himself of the horse Bayard and the
sword Durindana; and having procured both these prizes was
returning to his own country.
The two kings, who had been companions in arms under the walls of
Paris, embraced one another affectionately. Gradasso learned with
regret the reverses of Agramant, and offered him his troops and
his person. He strongly deprecated resorting to Egypt for aid.
"Remember the great Pompey," said he, "and shun that fatal shore.
My plan," he continued, "is this: I mean to challenge Orlando to
single combat. Possessed of such a sword and steed as mine, if he
were made of steel or bronze, he could not escape me. He being
removed, there will be no difficulty in driving back the
Abyssinians. We will rouse against them the Moslem nations from
the other side of the Nile, the Arabians, Persians, and Chaldeans,
who will soon make Senapus recall his army to defend his own
Agramant approved this advice except in one particular. "It is for
me," said he, "to combat Orlando; I cannot with honor devolve that
duty on another."
"Let us adopt a third course," said the aged warrior Sobrino. "I
would not willingly remain a simple spectator of such a contest.
Let us send three squires to the shore of Africa to challenge
Orlando and any two of his companions in arms to meet us three in
this island of Lampedusa."
This counsel was adopted; the three squires sped on their way; and
now presented themselves, and rehearsed their message to the
Orlando was delighted, and rewarded the squires with rich gifts.
He had already resolved to seek Gradasso and compel him to restore
Durindana, which he had learned was in his possession. For his two
companions the Count chose his faithful friend Florismart and his
The three warriors embarked, and sailing with a favorable wind,
the second morning showed them, on their right, the island where
this important battle was to be fought. Orlando and his two
companions, having landed, pitched their tent. Agramant had placed
Next morning, as soon as Aurora brightened the edges of the
horizon, the warriors of both parties armed themselves and mounted
their horses. They took their positions, face to face, lowered
their lances, placed them in rest, clapped spurs to their horses,
and flew to the charge. Orlando met the charge of Gradasso. The
paladin was unmoved, but his horse could not sustain the terrible
shock of Bayard. He recoiled, staggered, and fell some paces
behind. Orlando tried to raise him, but, finding his efforts
unavailing, seized his shield, and drew his famous Balisardo.
Meanwhile Agramant and the brave Oliver gained no advantage, one
or the other; but Florismart unhorsed the King Sobrino. Having
brought his foe to the ground, he would not pursue his victory,
but hastened to attack Gradasso, who had overthrown Orlando.
Seeing him thus engaged, Orlando would not interfere, but ran with
sword upraised upon Sobrino, and with one blow deprived him of
sense and motion. Believing him dead, he next turned to aid his
beloved Florismart. That brave paladin, neither in horse nor arms
equal to his antagonist, could but parry and evade the blows of
the terrible Durindana. Orlando, eager to succor him, was delayed
for a moment in securing and mounting the horse of the King
Sobrino. It was but an instant, and with sword upraised, he rushed
upon Gradasso who, noways disconcerted at the onset of this second
foe, shouted his defiance, and thrust at him with his sword, but,
having miscalculated the distance, scarcely reached him, and
failed to pierce his mail. Orlando, in return, dealt him a blow
with Balisardo, which wounded as it fell face, breast, and thigh,
and, if he had been a little nearer, would have cleft him in
twain. Sobrino, by this time recovered from his swoon, though
severely wounded, raised himself on his legs, and looked to see
how he might aid his friends. Observing Agramant hard pressed by
Oliver, he thrust his sword into the bowels of the latter's horse,
which fell, and bore down his master, entangling his leg as he
fell, so that Oliver could not extricate himself. Florismart saw
the danger of his friend, and ran upon Sobrino with his horse,
overthrew him, and then turned to defend himself from Agramant.
They were not unequally matched, for though Agramant, mounted on
Brigliadoro, had an advantage over Florismart, whose horse was but
indifferent, yet Agramant had received a serious wound in his
encounter with Oliver.
Nothing could exceed the fury of the encounter between Orlando and
Gradasso. Durindana, in the hands of Gradasso, clove asunder
whatever it struck; but such was the skill of Orlando, who
perfectly knew the danger to which he was exposed from a stroke of
that weapon, it had not yet struck him in such a way as to inflict
a wound. Meanwhile, Gradasso was bleeding from many wounds, and
his rage and incaution increased every moment. In his desperation
he lifted Durindana with both hands, and struck so terrible a blow
full on the helmet of Orlando, that for a moment it stunned the
paladin. He dropped the reins, and his frightened horse scoured
with him over the plain. Gradasso turned to pursue him, but at
that moment saw Florismart in the very act of striking a fatal
blow at Agramant, whom he had unhorsed. While Florismart was
wholly intent upon completing his victory, Gradasso plunged his
sword into his side. Florismart fell from his horse, and bathed
the plain with his blood.
Orlando recovered himself just in time to see the deed. Whether
rage or grief predominated in his breast, I cannot tell; but,
seizing Balisardo with fury, his first blow fell upon Agramant,
who was nearest to him, and smote his head from his shoulders. At
this sight Gradasso for the first time felt his courage sink, and
a dark presentiment of death came over him. He hardly stood on his
defence when Orlando cast himself upon him, and gave him a fatal
thrust. The sword penetrated his ribs, and came out a palm's
breadth on the other side of his body.
Thus fell beneath the sword of the most illustrious paladin of
France the bravest warrior of the Saracen host. Orlando then, as
if despising his victory, leaped lightly to the ground, and ran to
his dear friend Florismart, embraced him, and bathed him with his
tears. Florismart still breathed. He could even command his voice
to utter a few parting words: "Dear friend, do not forget me,--
give me your prayers,--and oh! be a brother to Flordelis." He died
in uttering her name.
After a few moments given to grief Orlando turned to look for his
other companion and his late foes. Oliver lay oppressed with the
weight of his horse, from which he had in vain struggled to
liberate himself. Orlando extricated him with difficulty; he then
raised Sobrino from the earth, and committed him to his squire,
treating him as gently as if he had been his own brother. For this
terrible warrior was the most generous of men to a fallen foe. He
took Bayard and Brigliadoro, with the arms of the conquered
knights; their bodies and their other spoils he remitted to their
But who can tell the grief of Flordelis when she saw the warriors
return, and found not Florismart as usual after absence hasten to
her side. She knew by the aspect of the others that her lord was
slain. At the thought, and before the question could pass her
lips, she fell senseless upon the ground. When life returned, and
she learned the truth of her worst fears, she bitterly upbraided
herself that she had let him depart without her. "I might have
saved him by a single cry when his enemy dealt him that
treacherous blow, or I might have thrown myself between and given
my worthless life for his. Or if no more, I might have heard his
last words, I might have given him a last kiss." So she lamented,
and could not be comforted.
ROGERO AND BRADAMANTE
After the interruption of the combat with Rinaldo, as we have
related, Rogero was perplexed with doubts what course to take. The
terms of the treaty required him to abandon Agramant, who had
broken it, and to transfer his allegiance to Charlemagne; and his
love for Bradamante called him in the same direction; but
unwillingness to desert his prince and leader in the hour of
distress forbade this course. Embarking, therefore, for Africa, he
took his way to rejoin the Saracen army; but was arrested midway
by a storm which drove the vessel on a rock. The crew took to
their boat, but that was quickly swamped in the waves, and Rogero
with the rest were compelled to swim for their lives. Then while
buffeting the waves Rogero bethought him of his sin in so long
delaying his Christian profession, and vowed in his heart that, if
he should live to reach the land, he would no longer delay to be
baptized. His vows were heard and answered; he succeeded in
reaching the shore, and was aided and relieved on landing by a
pious hermit, whose cell overlooked the sea. From him he received
baptism, having first passed some days with him, partaking his
humble fare, and receiving instruction in the doctrines of the
While these things were going on, Rinaldo, who had set out on his
way to seek Gradasso and recover Bayard from him, hearing on his
way of the great things which were doing in Africa, repaired
thither to bear his part in them. He arrived too late to do more
than join his friends in lamenting the loss of Florismart, and to
rejoice with them in their victory over the Pagan knights. On the
death of their king the Africans gave up the contest, Biserta
submitted, and the Christian knights had only to dismiss their
forces, and return home. Astolpho took leave of his Abyssinian
army, and sent them back laden with spoil to their own country,
not forgetting to intrust to them the bag which held the winds, by
means of which they were enabled to cross the sandy desert again
without danger, and did not untie it till they reached their own
Orlando now, with Oliver, who much needed the surgeon's care, and
Sobrino, to whom equal attention was shown, sailed in a swift
vessel to Sicily, bearing with him the body of Florismart, to be
laid in Christian earth. Rinaldo accompanied them, as did
Sansonnet and the other Christian leaders. Arrived at Sicily, the
funeral was solemnized with all the rites of religion, and with
the profound grief of those who had known Florismart, or had heard
of his fame. Then they resumed their course, steering for
Marseilles. But Oliver's wound grew worse instead of better, and
his sufferings so distressed his friends that they conferred
together, not knowing what to do. Then said the pilot, "We are not
far from an isle where a holy hermit dwells alone in the midst of
the sea. It is said none seek his counsel or his aid in vain. He
hath wrought marvellous cures, and if you resort to that holy man
without doubt he can heal the knight." Orlando bade him steer
thither, and soon the bark was laid safely beside the lonely rock;
the wounded man was lowered into their boat, and carried by the
crew to the hermit's cell. It was the same hermit with whom Rogero
had taken refuge after his shipwreck, by whom he had been
baptized, and with whom he was now staying, absorbed in sacred
studies and meditations.
The holy man received Orlando and the rest with kindness, and
inquired their errand; and being told that they had come for help
for one who, warring for the Christian faith, was brought to
perilous pass by a sad wound, he straightway undertook the cure.
His applications were simple, but they were seconded by his
prayers. The paladin was soon relieved from pain, and in a few
days his foot was perfectly restored to soundness. Sobrino, as
soon as he perceived the holy monk perform that wonder, cast aside
his false prophet, and with contrite heart owned the true God, and
demanded baptism at his hands. The hermit granted his request, and
also by his prayers restored him to health, while all the
Christian knights rejoiced in his conversion almost as much as at
the restoration of Oliver. More than all Rogero felt joy and
gratitude, and daily grew in grace and faith.
Rogero was known by fame to all the Christian knights, but not
even Rinaldo knew him by sight, though he had proved his prowess
in combat. Sobrino made him known to them, and great was the joy
of all when they found one whose valor and courtesy were renowned
through the world no longer an enemy and unbeliever, but a convert
and champion of the true faith. All press about the knight; one
grasps his hand, another locks him fast in his embrace; but more
than all the rest, Rinaldo cherished him, for he more than any
knew his worth.
It was not long before Rogero confided to his friend the hopes he
entertained of a union with his sister, and Rinaldo frankly gave
his sanction to the proposal. But causes unknown to the paladin
were at that very time interposing obstacles to its success.
The fame of the beauty and worth of Bradamante had reached the
ears of the Grecian Emperor, Constantine, and he had sent to
Charlemagne to demand the hand of his niece for Leo, his son, and
the heir to his dominions. Duke Aymon, her father, had only
reserved his consent until he should first have spoken with his
son Rinaldo, now absent.
The warriors now prepared to resume their voyage. Rogero took a
tender farewell of the good hermit who had taught him the true
faith. Orlando restored to him the horse and arms which were
rightly his, not even asserting his claim to Balisarda, that sword
which he himself had won from the enchantress.
The hermit gave his blessing to the band, and they reembarked. The
passage was speedy, and very soon they arrived in the harbor of
Astolpho, when he had dismissed his troops, mounted the
Hippogriff, and at one flight shot over to Sardinia, thence to
Corsica, thence, turning slightly to the left, hovered over
Provence, and alighted in the neighborhood of Marseilles. There he
did what he had been commanded to do by the holy saint; he
unbridled the Hippogriff, and turned him loose to seek his own
retreats, never more to be galled with saddle or bit. The horn had
lost its marvellous power ever since the visit to the moon.
Astolpho reached Marseilles the very day when Orlando, Rinaldo,
Oliver, Sobrino, and Rogero arrived there. Charles had already
heard the news of the defeat of the Saracen kings, and all the
accompanying events. On learning the approach of the gallant
knights, he sent forward some of his most illustrious nobles to
receive them, and himself, with the rest of his court, kings,
dukes, and peers, the queen, and a fair and gorgeous band of
ladies, set forward from Arles to meet them.
No sooner were the mutual greetings interchanged, than Orlando and
his friends led forward Rogero, and presented him to the Emperor.
They vouch him son of Rogero, Duke of Risa, one of the most
renowned of Christian warriors, by adverse fortune stolen in his
infancy, and brought up by Saracens in the false faith, now by a
kind Providence converted, and restored to fill the place his
father once held among the foremost champions of the throne and
Rogero had alighted from his horse, and stood respectfully before
the Emperor. Charlemagne bade him remount and ride beside him; and
omitted nothing which might do him honor in sight of his martial
train. With pomp triumphal and with festive cheer the troop
returned to the city; the streets were decorated with garlands,
the houses hung with rich tapestry, and flowers fell like rain
upon the conquering host from the hands of fair dames and damsels,
from every balcony and window. So welcomed, the mighty Emperor
passed on till he reached the royal palace, where many days he
feasted, high in hall, with his lords, amid tourney, revel, dance,
When Rinaldo told his father, Duke Aymon, how he had promised his
sister to Rogero, his father heard him with indignation, having
set his heart on seeing her united to the Grecian Emperor's son.
The Lady Beatrice, her mother, also appealed to Bradamante herself
to reject a knight who had neither title nor lands, and give the
preference to one who would make her Empress of the wide Levant.
But Bradamante, though respect forbade her to refuse her mother's
entreaty, would not promise to do what her heart repelled, and
answered only with a sigh, until she was alone, and then gave a
loose to tears.
Meanwhile Rogero, indignant that a stranger should presume to rob
him of his bride, determined to seek the Prince of Greece, and
defy him to mortal combat. With this design he donned his armor,
but exchanged his crest and emblazonment, and bore instead a white
unicorn upon a crimson field. He chose a trusty squire, and,
commanding him not to address him as Rogero, rode on his quest.
Having crossed the Rhine and the Austrian countries into Hungary,
he followed the course of the Danube till he reached Belgrade.
There he saw the imperial ensigns spread, and white pavilions,
thronged with troops, before the town. For the Emperor Constantine
was laying siege to the city to recover it from the Bulgarians,
who had taken it from him not long before.
A river flowed between the camp of the Emperor and the Bulgarians,
and at the moment when Rogero approached, a skirmish had begun
between the parties from either camp, who had approached the
stream for the purpose of watering. The Greeks in that affray were
four to one, and drove back the Bulgarians in precipitate rout.
Rogero, seeing this, and animated only by his hatred of the
Grecian prince, dashed into the middle of the flying mass, calling
aloud on the fugitives to turn. He encountered first a leader of
the Grecian host in splendid armor, a nephew of the Emperor, as
dear to him as a son. Rogero's lance pierced shield and armor, and
stretched the warrior breathless on the plain. Another and another
fell before him, and astonishment and terror arrested the advance
of the Greeks, while the Bulgarians, catching courage from the
cavalier, rally, change front, and chase the Grecian troops, who
fly in their turn. Leo, the prince, was at a distance when this
sudden skirmish rose, but not so far but that he could see
distinctly, from an elevated position which he held, how the
changed battle was all the work of one man, and could not choose
but admire the bravery and prowess with which it was done. He knew
by the blazonry displayed that the champion was not of the
Bulgarian army, though he furnished aid to them. Although he
suffered by his valor, the prince could not wish him ill, for his
admiration surpassed his resentment. By this time the Greeks had
regained the river, and crossing it by fording or swimming, some
made their escape, leaving many more prisoners in the hands of the
Bulgarians. Rogero, learning from some of the captives that Leo
was at a point some distance down the river, rode thither with a
view to meet him, but arrived not before the Greek prince had
retired beyond the stream, and broken up the bridge. Day was
spent, and Rogero, wearied, looked round for a shelter for the
night. He found it in a cottage, where he soon yielded himself to
repose. It so happened, a knight who had narrowly escaped Rogero's
sword in the late battle also found shelter in the same cottage,
and, recognizing the armor of the unknown knight, easily found
means of securing him as he slept, and next morning carried him in
chains and delivered him to the Emperor. By him he was in turn
delivered to his sister Theodora, mother of the young knight, the
first victim of Rogero's spear. By her he was cast into a dungeon,
till her ingenuity could devise a death sufficiently painful to
satiate her revenge.
Bradamante, meanwhile, to escape her father's and mother's
importunity, had begged a boon of Charlemagne, which the monarch
pledged his royal word to grant; it was that she should not be
compelled to marry any one unless he should first vanquish her in
single combat. The Emperor therefore proclaimed a tournament in
these words: "He that would wed Duke Aymon's daughter must contend
with the sword against that dame, from the sun's rise to his
setting; and if, in that time, he is not overcome the lady shall
Duke Aymon and the Lady Beatrice, though much incensed at the
course things had taken, brought their daughter to court, to await
the day appointed for the tournament. Bradamante, not finding
there him whom her heart required, distressed herself with doubts
what could be the cause of his absence. Of all fancies, the most
painful one was that he had gone away to learn to forget her,
knowing her father's and her mother's opposition to their union,
and despairing to contend against them. But oh, how much worse
would be the maiden's woe, if it were known to her what her
betrothed was then enduring!
He was plunged in a dungeon where no ray of daylight ever
penetrated, loaded with chains, and scantily supplied with the
coarsest food. No wonder despair took possession of his heart, and
he longed for death as a relief, when one night (or one day, for
both were equally dark to him) he was roused with the glare of a
torch and saw two men enter his cell. It was the Prince Leo, with
an attendant, who had come as soon as he had learned the wretched
fate of the brave knight whose valor he had seen and admired on
the field of battle. "Cavalier," said he, "I am one whom thy valor
hath so bound to thee, that I willingly peril my own safety to
lend thee aid." "Infinite thanks I owe you," replied Rogero, "and
the life you give me I promise faithfully to render back upon your
call, and promptly to stake it at all times for your service." The
prince then told Rogero his name and rank, at hearing which a tide
of contending emotions almost overwhelmed Rogero. He was set at
liberty, and had his horse and arms restored to him.
Meanwhile, tidings arrived of King Charles' decree that whoever
aspired to the hand of Bradamante must first encounter her with
sword and lance. This news made the Grecian prince turn pale, for
he knew he was no match for her in fight. Communing with himself,
he sees how he may make his wit supply the place of valor, and
employ the French knight, whose name was still unknown to him, to
fight the battle for him. Rogero heard the proposal with extreme
distress; yet it seemed worse than death to deny the first request
of one to whom he owed his life. Hastily he gave his assent "to do
in all things that which Leo should command." Afterward, bitter
repentance came over him; yet, rather than confess his change of
mind, death itself would be welcome. Death seems his only remedy;
but how to die? Sometimes he thinks to make none but a feigned
resistance, and allow her sword a ready access, for never can
death come more happily than if her hand guide the weapon. Yet
this will not avail, for, unless he wins the maid for the Greek
prince, his debt remains unpaid. He had promised to maintain a
real, not a feigned encounter. He will then keep his word, and
banish every thought from his bosom except that which moved him to
maintain his truth.
The young prince, richly attended, set out, and with him Rogero.
They arrived at Paris, but Leo preferred not to enter the city,
and pitched his tents without the walls, making known his arrival
to Charlemagne by an embassy. The monarch was pleased, and
testified his courtesy by visits and gifts. The prince set forth
the purpose of his coming, and prayed the Emperor to dispatch his
suit--"to send forth the damsel who refused ever to take in
wedlock any lord inferior to herself in fight; for she should be
his bride, or he would perish beneath her sword."
Rogero passed the night before the day assigned for the battle
like that which the felon spends, condemned to pay the forfeit of
his life on the ensuing day. He chose to fight with sword only,
and on foot, for he would not let her see Frontino, knowing that
she would recognize the steed. Nor would he use Balisarda, for
against that enchanted blade all armor would be of no avail, and
the sword that he did take he hammered well upon the edge to abate
its sharpness. He wore the surcoat of Prince Leo, and his shield,
emblazoned with a golden, double-headed eagle. The prince took
care to let himself be seen by none.
Bradamante, meanwhile, prepared herself for the combat far
differently. Instead of blunting the edge of her falchion she
whets the steel, and would fain infuse into it her own acerbity.
As the moment approached she seemed to have fire within her veins,
and waited impatiently for the trumpet's sound. At the signal she
drew her sword, and fell with fury upon her Rogero. But as a well-
built wall or aged rock stands unmoved the fury of the storm, so
Rogero, clad in those arms which Trojan Hector once wore,
withstood the strokes which stormed about his head and breast and
flank. Sparks flew from his shield, his helm, his cuirass; from
direct and back strokes, aimed now high, now low, falling thick
and fast, like hailstones on a cottage roof; but Rogero, with
skilful ward, turns them aside, or receives them where his armor
is a sure protection, careful only to protect himself, and with no
thought of striking in return. Thus the hours passed away, and, as
the sun approached the west, the damsel began to despair. But so
much the more her anger increases, and she redoubles her efforts,
like the craftsman who sees his work unfinished while the day is
wellnigh spent. O miserable damsel! didst thou know whom thou
wouldst kill,--if, in that cavalier matched against thee thou
didst but know Rogero, on whom thy very life-threads hang, rather
than kill him thou wouldst kill thyself, for he is dearer to thee
King Charles and the peers, who thought the cavalier to be the
Grecian prince, viewing such force and skill exhibited, and how
without assaulting her the knight defended himself, were filled
with admiration, and declared the champions well matched, and
worthy of each other.
When the sun was set Charlemagne gave the signal for terminating
the contest, and Bradamante was awarded to Prince Leo as a bride.
Rogero, in deep distress, returned to his tent. There Leo unlaced
his helmet, and kissed him on both cheeks. "Henceforth," said he,
"do with me as you please, for you cannot exhaust my gratitude."
Rogero replied little, laid aside the ensigns he had worn, and
resumed the unicorn, then hasted to withdraw himself from all
eyes. When it was midnight he rose, saddled Frontino, and sallied
from his tent, taking that direction which pleased his steed. All
night he rode absorbed in bitter woe, and called on Death as alone
capable of relieving his sufferings. At last he entered a forest,
and penetrated into its deepest recesses. There he unharnessed
Frontino, and suffered him to wander where he would. Then he threw
himself down on the ground, and poured forth such bitter wailings
that the birds and beasts, for none else heard him, were moved to
pity with his cries.
Not less was the distress of the lady Bradamante, who, rather than
wed any one but Rogero, resolved to break her word, and defy
kindred, court, and Charlemagne himself; and, if nothing else
would do, to die. But relief came from an unexpected quarter.
Marphisa, sister of Rogero, was a heroine of warlike prowess equal
to Bradamante. She had been the confidante of their loves, and
felt hardly less distress than themselves at seeing the perils
which threatened their union. "They are already united by mutual
vows," she said, "and in the sight of Heaven what more is
necessary?" Full of this thought she presented herself before
Charlemagne, and declared that she herself was witness that the
maiden had spoken to Rogero those words which they who marry
swear; and that the compact was so sealed between the pair that
they were no longer free, nor could forsake the one the other to
take another spouse. This her assertion she offered to prove, in
single combat, against Prince Leo, or any one else.
Charlemagne, sadly perplexed at this, commanded Bradamante to be
called, and told her what the bold Marphisa had declared.
Bradamante neither denied nor confirmed the statement, but hung
her head, and kept silence. Duke Aymon was enraged, and would fain
have set aside the pretended contract on the ground that, if made
at all, it must have been made before Rogero was baptized, and
therefore void. But not so thought Rinaldo, nor the good Orlando,
and Charlemagne knew not which way to decide, when Marphisa spoke
"Since no one else can marry the maiden while my brother lives,
let the prince meet Rogero in mortal combat, and let him who
survives take her for his bride."
This saying pleased the Emperor, and was accepted by the prince,
for he thought that, by the aid of his unknown champion, he should
surely triumph in the fight. Proclamation was therefore made for
Rogero to appear and defend his suit; and Leo, on his part, caused
search to be made on all sides for the knight of the Unicorn.
Meanwhile Rogero, overwhelmed with despair, lay stretched on the
ground in the forest night and day without food, courting death.
Here he was discovered by one of Leo's people, who, finding him
resist all attempts to remove him, hastened to his master, who was
not far off, and brought him to the spot. As he approached he
heard words which convinced him that love was the cause of the
knight's despair; but no clew was given to guide him to the object
of that love. Stooping down, the prince embraced the weeping
warrior, and, in the tenderest accents, said: "Spare not, I
entreat you, to disclose the cause of your distress, for few such
desperate evils betide mankind as are wholly past cure. It grieves
me much that you would hide your grief from me, for I am bound to
you by ties that nothing can undo. Tell me, then, your grief, and
leave me to try if wealth, art, cunning, force, or persuasion
cannot relieve you. If not, it will be time enough after all has
been tried in vain to die."
He spoke in such moving accents that Rogero could not choose but
yield. It was some time before he could command utterance; at last
he said, "My lord, when you shall know me for what I am, I doubt
not you, like myself, will be content that I should die. Know,
then, I am that Rogero whom you have so much cause to hate, and
who so hated you that, intent on putting you to death, he went to
seek you at your father's court. This I did because I could not
submit to see my promised bride borne off by you. But, as man
proposes and God disposes, your great courtesy, well tried in time
of sore need, so moved my fixed resolve, that I not only laid
aside the hate I bore, but purposed to be your friend forever. You
then asked of me to win for you the lady Bradamante, which was all
one as to demand of me my heart and soul. You know whether I
served you faithfully or not. Yours is the lady; possess her in
peace; but ask me not to live to see it. Be content rather that I
die; for vows have passed between myself and her which forbid that
while I live she can lawfully wive with another."
So filled was gentle Leo with astonishment at these words that for
a while he stood silent, with lips unmoved and steadfast gaze,
like a statue. And the discovery that the stranger was Rogero not
only abated not the good will he bore him, but increased it, so
that his distress for what Rogero suffered seemed equal to his
own. For this, and because he would appear deservedly an Emperor's
son, and, though in other things outdone, would not be surpassed
in courtesy, he says: "Rogero, had I known that day when your
matchless valor routed my troops that you were Rogero, your virtue
would have made me your own, as then it made me while I knew not
my foe, and I should have no less gladly rescued you from
Theodora's dungeon. And if I would willingly have done so then,
how much more gladly will I now restore the gift of which you
would rob yourself to confer it upon me. The damsel is more due to
you than to me, and though I know her worth, I would forego not
only her, but life itself, rather than distress a knight like
This and much more he said to the same intent; till at last Rogero
replied, "I yield, and am content to live, and thus a second time
owe my life to you."
But several days elapsed before Rogero was so far restored as to
return to the royal residence, where an embassy had arrived from
the Bulgarian princes to seek the knight of the unicorn, and
tender to him the crown of that country, in place of their king,
fallen in battle.
Thus were things situated when Prince Leo, leading by the hand
Rogero, clad in the battered armor in which he had sustained the
conflict with Bradamante, presented himself before the king.
"Behold," he said "the champion who maintained from dawn to
setting sun the arduous contest; he comes to claim the guerdon of
the fight." King Charlemagne, with all his peerage, stood amazed;
for all believed that the Grecian prince himself had fought with
Bradamante. Then stepped forth Marphisa, and said, "Since Rogero
is not here to assert his rights, I, his sister, undertake his
cause, and will maintain it against whoever shall dare dispute his
claim." She said this with so much anger and disdain that the
prince deemed it no longer wise to feign, and withdrew Rogero's
helmet from his brow, saying, "Behold him here!" Who can describe
the astonishment and joy of Marphisa! She ran and threw her arms
about her brother's neck, nor would give way to let Charlemagne
and Rinaldo, Orlando, Dudon, and the rest, who crowded round,
embrace him, and press friendly kisses on his brow. The joyful
tidings flew fast by many a messenger to Bradamante, who in her
secret chamber lay lamenting. The blood that stagnated about her
heart flowed at that notice so fast, that she had wellnigh died
for joy. Duke Aymon and the Lady Beatrice no longer withheld their
consent, and pledged their daughter to the brave Rogero before all
that gallant company.
Now came the Bulgarian ambassadors, and, kneeling at the feet of
Rogero, besought him to return with them to their country, where,
in Adrianople, the crown and sceptre were awaiting his acceptance.
Prince Leo united his persuasions to theirs, and promised, in his
royal father's name, that peace should be restored on their part.
Rogero gave his consent, and it was surmised that none of the
virtues which shone so conspicuously in him so availed to
recommend Rogero to the Lady Beatrice as the hearing her future
son-in-law saluted as a sovereign prince.
THE BATTLE OF RONCESVALLES
After the expulsion of the Saracens from France Charlemagne led
his army into Spain, to punish Marsilius, the king of that
country, for having sided with the African Saracens in the late
war. Charlemagne succeeded in all his attempts, and compelled
Marsilius to submit, and pay tribute to France. Our readers will
remember Gano, otherwise called Gan, or Ganelon, whom we mentioned
in one of our early chapters as an old courtier of Charlemagne,
and a deadly enemy of Orlando, Rinaldo, and all their friends. He
had great influence over Charles, from equality of age and long
intimacy; and he was not without good qualities: he was brave and
sagacious, but envious, false, and treacherous. Gan prevailed on
Charles to send him as ambassador to Marsilius, to arrange the
tribute. He embraced Orlando over and over again at taking leave,
using such pains to seem loving and sincere, that his hypocrisy
was manifest to every one but the old monarch. He fastened with
equal tenderness on Oliver, who smiled contemptuously in his face,
and thought to himself, "You may make as many fair speeches as you
choose, but you lie." All the other paladins who were present
thought the same, and they said as much to the Emperor, adding
that Gan should on no account be sent ambassador to the Spaniards.
But Charles was infatuated.
Gan was received with great honor by Marsilius. The king, attended
by his lords, came fifteen miles out of Saragossa to meet him, and
then conducted him into the city with acclamations. There was
nothing for several days but balls, games, and exhibitions of
chivalry, the ladies throwing flowers on the heads of the French
knights, and the people shouting, "France! Mountjoy and St.
After the ceremonies of the first reception the king and the
ambassador began to understand one another. One day they sat
together in a garden on the border of a fountain. The water was so
clear and smooth it reflected every object around, and the spot
was encircled with fruit-trees which quivered with the fresh air.
As they sat and talked, as if without restraint, Gan, without
looking the king in the face, was enabled to see the expression of
his countenance in the water, and governed his speech accordingly.
Marsilius was equally adroit, and watched the face of Gan while he
addressed him. Marsilius began by lamenting, not as to the
ambassador, but as to the friend, the injuries which Charles had
done him by invading his dominions, charging him with wishing to
take his kingdom from him and give it to Orlando; till at length
he plainly uttered his belief that if that ambitious paladin were
but dead good men would get their rights.
Gan heaved a sigh, as if he was unwillingly compelled to allow the
force of what the king said; but unable to contain himself long he
lifted up his face, radiant with triumphant wickedness, and
exclaimed: "Every word you utter is truth; die he must, and die
also must Oliver, who struck me that foul blow at court. Is it
treachery to punish affronts like these? I have planned
everything,--I have settled everything already with their
besotted master. Orlando will come to your borders--to
Roncesvalles--for the purpose of receiving the tribute. Charles
will await him at the foot of the mountains. Orlando will bring
but a small band with him: you, when you meet him, will have
secretly your whole army at your back. You surround him, and who
receives tribute then?"
The new Judas had scarcely uttered these words when his exultation
was interrupted by a change in the face of nature. The sky was
suddenly overcast, there was thunder and lightning, a laurel was
split in two from head to foot, and the Carob-tree under which Gan
was sitting, which is said to be the species of tree on which
Judas Iscariot hung himself, dropped one of its pods on his head.
Marsilius, as well as Gan, was appalled at this omen; but on
assembling his soothsayers they came to the conclusion that the
laurel-tree turned the omen against the Emperor, the successor of
the Caesars, though one of them renewed the consternation of Gan
by saying that he did not understand the meaning of the tree of
Judas, and intimating that perhaps the ambassador could explain
it. Gan relieved his vexation by anger; the habit of wickedness
prevailed over all other considerations; and the king prepared to
march to Roncesvalles at the head of all his forces.
Gan wrote to Charlemagne to say how humbly and submissively
Marsilius was coming to pay the tribute into the hands of Orlando,
and how handsome it would be of the Emperor to meet him half-way,
and so be ready to receive him after the payment at his camp. He
added a brilliant account of the tribute, and the accompanying
presents. The good Emperor wrote in turn to say how pleased he was
with the ambassador's diligence, and that matters were arranged
precisely as he wished. His court, however, had its suspicion
still, though they little thought Gan's object in bringing Charles
into the neighborhood of Roncesvalles was to deliver him into the
hands of Marsilius, after Orlando should have been destroyed by
Orlando, however, did as his lord and sovereign desired. He went
to Roncesvalles, accompanied by a moderate train of warriors, not
dreaming of the atrocity that awaited him. Gan, meanwhile, had
hastened back to France, in order to show himself free and easy in
the presence of Charles, and secure the success of his plot; while
Marsilius, to make assurance doubly sure, brought into the passes
of Roncesvalles no less than three armies, which were successively
to fall on the paladin in case of the worst, and so extinguish him
with numbers. He had also, by Gan's advice, brought heaps of wine
and good cheer to be set before his victims in the first instance;
"for that," said the traitor, "will render the onset the more
effective, the feasters being unarmed. One thing, however, I must
not forget," added he; "my son Baldwin is sure to be with Orlando;
you must take care of his life for my sake."
"I give him this vesture off my own body," said the king; "let him
wear it in the battle, and have no fear. My soldiers shall be
directed not to touch him."
Gan went away rejoicing to France. He embraced the sovereign and
the court all round with the air of a man who had brought them
nothing but blessings, and the old king wept for very tenderness
"Something is going on wrong, and looks very black," thought
Malagigi, the good wizard; "Rinaldo is not here, and it is
indispensably necessary that he should be. I must find out where
he is, and Ricciardetto too, and send for them with all speed."
Malagigi called up by his art a wise, terrible, and cruel spirit,
named Ashtaroth. "Tell me, and tell me truly, of Rinaldo," said
Malagigi to the spirit. The demon looked hard at the paladin, and
said nothing. His aspect was clouded and violent.
The enchanter, with an aspect still cloudier, bade Ashtaroth lay
down that look, and made signs as if he would resort to angrier
compulsion; and the devil, alarmed, loosened his tongue, and said,
"You have not told me what you desire to know of Rinaldo."
"I desire to know what he has been doing, and where he is."
"He has been conquering and baptizing the world, east and west,"
said the demon, "and is now in Egypt with Ricciardetto."
"And what has Gan been plotting with Marsilius?" inquired
Malagigi; "and what is to come of it?"
"I know not," said the devil. "I was not attending to Gan at the
time, and we fallen spirits know not the future. All I discern is
that by the signs and comets in the heavens something dreadful is
about to happen--something very strange, treacherous, and bloody;
and that Gan has a seat ready prepared for him in hell."
"Within three days," cried the enchanter, loudly, "bring Rinaldo
and Ricciardetto into the pass of Ronces-Valles. Do it, and I
hereby undertake to summon thee no more."
"Suppose they will not trust themselves with me?" said the spirit.
"Enter Rinaldo's horse, and bring him, whether he trust thee or
"It shall be done," returned the demon.
There was an earthquake, and Ashtaroth disappeared.
Marsilius now made his first movement towards the destruction of
Orlando, by sending before him his vassal, King Blanchardin, with
his presents of wines and other luxuries. The temperate but
courteous hero took them in good part, and distributed them as the
traitor wished; and then Blanchardin, on pretence of going forward
to salute Charlemagne, returned, and put himself at the head of
the second army, which was the post assigned him by his liege-
lord. King Falseron, whose son Orlando had slain in battle, headed
the first army, and King Balugante the third. Marsilius made a
speech to them, in which he let them into his design, and
concluded by recommending to their good will the son of his friend
Gan, whom they would know by the vest he had sent him, and who was
the only soul amongst the Christian they were to spare.
This son of Gan, meanwhile, and several of the paladins, who
distrusted the misbelievers, and were anxious at all events to be
with Orlando, had joined the hero in the fatal valley; so that the
little Christian host, considering the tremendous valor of their
lord and his friends, were not to be sold for nothing. Rinaldo,
alas! the second thunderbolt of Christendom, was destined not to
be there in time to meet the issue. The paladins in vain begged
Orlando to be on his guard against treachery, and send for a more
numerous body of men. The great heart of the Champion of the Faith
was unwilling to harbor suspicion as long as he could help it. He
refused to summon aid which might be superfluous; neither would he
do anything but what his liege-lord had directed. And yet he could
not wholly repress a misgiving. A shadow had fallen on his heart,
great and cheerful as it was. The anticipations of his friends
disturbed him, in spite of the face with which he met them.
Perhaps by a certain foresight he felt his death approaching; but
he felt bound not to encourage the impression. Besides, time
pressed; the moment of the looked-for tribute was at hand, and
little combinations of circumstances determine often the greatest
King Marsilius was to arrive early next day with the tribute, and
Oliver, with the morning sun, rode forth to reconnoitre, and see
if he could discover the peaceful pomp of the Spanish court in the
distance. He rode up the nearest height, and from the top of it
beheld the first army of Marsilius already forming in the passes.
"O devil Gan," he exclaimed, "this then is the consummation of thy
labors!" Oliver put spurs to his horse, and galloped back down the
mountain to Orlando.
"Well," cried the hero, "what news?"
"Bad news," said his cousin, "such as you would not hear of
yesterday. Marsilius is here in arms, and all the world is with
The paladins pressed round Orlando, and entreated him to sound his
horn, in token that he needed help. His only answer was to mount
his horse, and ride up the mountain with Sansonetto.
As soon, however, as he cast forth his eyes, and beheld what was
round about him, he turned in sorrow, and looked down into
Roncesvalles, and said, "O miserable valley! the blood shed in
thee this day will color thy name forever."
Orlando's little camp were furious against the Saracens. They
armed themselves with the greatest impatience. There was nothing
but lacing of helmets and mounting of horses, while good
Archbishop Turpin went from rank to rank exhorting and encouraging
the warriors of Christ. Orlando and his captains withdrew for a
moment to consultation. He fairly groaned for sorrow, and at first
had not a word to say, so wretched he felt at having brought his
people to die in Roncesvalles. Then he said: "If it had entered
into my heart to conceive the king of Spain to be such a villain
never would you have seen this day. He has exchanged with me a
thousand courtesies and good words; and I thought that the worse
enemies we had been before, the better friends we had become now.
I fancied every human being capable of this kind of virtue on a
good opportunity, saving, indeed, such base-hearted wretches as
can never forgive their very forgivers; and of these I did not
suppose him to be one. Let us die, if die we must, like honest and
gallant men, so that it shall be said of us it was only our bodies
that died. The reason why I did not sound the horn was partly
because I thought it did not become us, and partly because our
liege lord could hardly save us, even if he heard it." And with
these words Orlando sprang to his horse, crying, "Aways against
the Saracens!" But he had no sooner turned his face than he wept
bitterly, and said, "O Holy Virgin, think not of me, the sinner
Orlando, but have pity on these thy servants!"
And now with a mighty dust, and an infinite sound of horns and
tambours, which came filling the valley, the first army of the
infidels made its appearance, horses neighing, and a thousand
pennons flying in the air. King Falseron led them on, saying to
his officers: "Let nobody dare to lay a finger on Orlando. He
belongs to myself. The revenge of my son's death is mine. I will
cut the man down that comes between us." "Now, friends," said
Orlando, "every man for himself, and St. Michael for us all! There
is not one here that is not a perfect knight." And he might well
say it, for the flower of all France was there, except Rinaldo and
Ricciardetto--every man a picked man, all friends and constant
companions of Orlando.
So the captains of the little troop and of the great army sat
looking at one another, and singling one another out as the latter
came on, and then the knights put spear in rest, and ran for a
while two and two in succession, one against the other.
Astolpho was the first to move. He ran against Arlotto of Sorio,
and thrust his antagonist's body out of the saddle, and his soul
into the other world. Oliver encountered Malprimo, and, though he
received a thrust which hurt him, sent his lance right through the
heart of Malprimo.
Falseron was daunted at this blow. "Truly," thought he, "this is a
marvel." Oliver did not press on among the Saracens, his wound was
too painful; but Orlando now put himself and his whole band in
motion, and you may guess what an uproar ensued. The sound of the
rattling of blows and helmets was as if the forge of Vulcan had
been thrown open. Falseron beheld Orlando coming so furiously,
that he thought him a Lucifer who had burst his chain, and was
quite of another mind than when he purposed to have him all to
himself. On the contrary, he recommended himself to his gods, and
turned away, meaning to wait for a more auspicious season of
revenge. But Orlando hailed him with a terrible voice, saying, "O
thou traitor! was this the end to which old quarrels were made
up?" Then he dashed at Falseron with a fury so swift, and at the
same time with a mastery of his lance so marvellous, that, though
he plunged it in the man's body so as instantly to kill him, and
then withdrew it, the body did not move in the saddle. The hero
himself, as he rushed onwards, was fain to see the end of a stroke
so perfect, and turning his horse back, touched the carcass with
his sword, and it fell on the instant!
When the infidels beheld their leader dead such fear fell upon
them that they were for leaving the field to the paladins, but
they were unable. Marsilius had drawn the rest of his forces round
the valley like a net, so that their shoulders were turned in
vain. Orlando rode into the thick of them, and wherever he went
thunderbolts fell upon helmets. Oliver was again in the fray, with
Walter and Baldwin, Avino and Avolio, while Arch-bishop Turpin
had changed his crosier for a lance, and chased a new flock before
him to the mountains.
Yet what could be done against foes without number? Marsilius
constantly pours them in. The paladins are as units to thousands.
Why tarry the horses of Rinaldo and Ricciardetto?
The horses did not tarry, but fate had been quicker than
enchantment. Ashtaroth had presented himself to Rinaldo in Egypt,
and, after telling his errand, he and Foul-mouth, his servant,
entered the horses of Rinaldo and Ricciardetto, which began to
neigh, and snort, and leap with the fiends within them, till off
they flew through the air over the pyramids and across the desert,
and reached Spain and the scene of action just as Marsilius
brought up his third army. The two paladins on their horses
dropped right into the midst of the Saracens, and began making
such havoc among them that Marsilius, who overlooked the fight
from a mountain, thought his soldiers had turned against one
another. Orlando beheld it, and guessed it could be no other but
his cousins, and pressed to meet them. Oliver coming up at the
same moment, the rapture of the whole party is not to be
expressed. After a few hasty words of explanation they were forced
to turn again upon the enemy, whose numbers seemed perfectly
Orlando, making a bloody passage towards Marsilius, struck a youth
on the head, whose helmet was so strong as to resist the blow, but
at the same time flew off, Orlando prepared to strike a second
blow, when the youth exclaimed, "Hold! you loved my father; I am
Bujaforte!" The paladin had never seen Bujaforte, but he saw the
likeness to the good old man, his father, and he dropped his
sword. "O Bujaforte," said he, "I loved him indeed; but what does
his son do here fighting against his friends?"
Bujaforte could not at once speak for weeping. At length he said:
"I am forced to be here by my lord and master, Marsilius; and I
have made a show of fighting, but have not hurt a single
Christian. Treachery is on every side of you. Baldwin himself has
a vest given him by Marsilius, that everybody may know the son of
his friend Gan, and do him no harm."
"Put your helmet on again," said Orlando, "and behave just as you
have done. Never will your father's friend be an enemy to the
The hero then turned in fury to look for Baldwin, who was
hastening towards him at that moment, with friendliness in his
"'Tis strange," said Baldwin, "I have done my duty as well as I
could, yet nobody will come against me. I have slain right and
left, and cannot comprehend what it is that makes the stoutest
infidels avoid me."
"Take off your vest," said Orlando, contemptuously, "and you will
soon discover the secret, if you wish to know it. Your father has
sold us to Marsilius, all but his honorable son."
"If my father," said Baldwin, impetuously tearing off the vest,
"has been such a villain, and I escape dying, I will plunge this
sword through his heart. But I am no traitor, Orlando, and you do
me wrong to say it. Think not I can live with dishonor."
Baldwin spurred off into the fight, not waiting to hear another
word from Orlando, who was very sorry for what he had said, for he
perceived that the youth was in despair.
And now the fight raged beyond all it had done before; twenty
pagans went down for one paladin, but still the paladins fell.
Sansonetto was beaten to earth by the club of Grandonio, Walter
d'Amulion had his shoulder broken, Berlinghieri and Ottone were
slain, and at last Astolpho fell, in revenge of whose death
Orlando turned the spot where he died into a lake of Saracen
blood. The luckless Bujaforte met Rinaldo, and before he could
explain how he seemed to be fighting on the Saracen side received
such a blow upon the head that he fell, unable to utter a word.
Orlando, cutting his way to a spot where there was a great
struggle and uproar, found the poor youth Baldwin, the son of Gan,
with two spears in his breast. "I am no traitor now," said
Baldwin, and those were the last words he said. Orlando was
bitterly sorry to have been the cause of his death, and tears
streamed from his eyes. At length down went Oliver himself. He had
become blinded with his own blood, and smitten Orlando without
knowing him. "How now, cousin," cried Orlando, "have you too gone
over to the enemy?" "O my lord and master," cried the other, "I
ask your pardon. I can see nothing; I am dying. Some traitor has
stabbed me in the back. If you love me, lead my horse into the
thick of them, so that I may not die unavenged."
"I shall die myself before long," said Orlando, "out of very toil
and grief; so we will go together."
Orlando led his cousin's horse where the press was thickest, and
dreadful was the strength of the dying man and his tired
companion. They made a street through which they passed out of the
battle, and Orlando led his cousin away to his tent, and said,
"Wait a little till I return, for I will go and sound the horn on
the hill yonder."
"'Tis of no use," said Oliver, "my spirit is fast going and
desires to be with its Lord and Saviour."
He would have said more, but his words came from him imperfectly,
like those of a man in a dream, and so he expired.
When Orlando saw him dead he felt as if he was alone on the earth,
and he was quite willing to leave it, only he wished that King
Charles, at the foot of the mountains, should know how the case
stood before he went. So he took up the horn and blew it three
times, with such force that the blood burst out of his nose and
mouth. Turpin says that at the third blast the horn broke in two.
In spite of all the noise of the battle, the sound of the horn
broke over it like a voice out of the other world. They say that
birds fell dead at it, and that the whole Saracen army drew back
in terror. Charlemagne was sitting in the midst of his court when
the sound reached him, and Gan was there. The Emperor was the
first to hear it.
"Do you hear that?" said he to his nobles. "Did you hear the horn
as I heard it?"
Upon this they all listened, and Gan felt his heart misgive him.
The horn sounded a second time.
"What is the meaning of this?" said Charles.
"Orlando is hunting," observed Gan, "and the stag is killed."
But when the horn sounded yet a third time, and the blast was one
of so dreadful a vehemence, everybody looked at the other, and
then they all looked at Gan in a fury. Charles rose from his seat.
"This is no hunting of the stag," said he. "The sound goes to my
very heart. O Gan! O Gan! Not for thee do I blush, but for myself.
O foul and monstrous villain! Take him, gentleman, and keep him in
close prison. Would to God I had not lived to see this day!"
But it was no time for words. They put the traitor in prison and
then Charles, with all his court, took his way to Roncesvalles,
grieving and praying.
It was afternoon when the horn sounded, and half an hour after it
when the Emperor set out; and meantime Orlando had returned to the
fight that he might do his duty, however hopeless, as long as he
could sit his horse. At length he found his end approaching, for
toil and fever, and rode all alone to a fountain where he had
before quenched his thirst. His horse was wearier than he, and no
sooner had his master alighted than the beast, kneeling down as if
to take leave, and to say, "I have brought you to a place of
rest," fell dead at his feet. Orlando cast water on him from the
fountain, not wishing to believe him dead; but when he found it to
no purpose, he grieved for him as if he had been a human being,
and addressed him by name with tears, and asked forgiveness if he
had ever done him wrong. They say that the horse, at these words,
opened his eyes a little, and looked kindly at his master, and
then stirred never more. They say also that Orlando then summoning
all his strength, smote a rock near him with his beautiful sword
Durindana, thinking to shiver the steel in pieces, and so prevent
its falling into the hands of the enemy, but though the rock split
like a slate, and a great cleft remained ever after to astonish
the eyes of pilgrims, the sword remained uninjured.
And now Rinaldo and Ricciardetto came up, with Turpin, having
driven back the Saracens, and told Orlando that the battle was
won. Then Orlando knelt before Turpin and begged remission of his
sins, and Turpin gave him absolution. Orlando fixed his eyes on
the hilt of his sword as on a crucifix, and embraced it, and he
raised his eyes and appeared like a creature seraphical and
transfigured, and bowing his head, he breathed out his pure soul.
And now King Charles and his nobles came up. The Emperor, at sight
of the dead Orlando, threw himself, as if he had been a reckless
youth, from his horse, and embraced and kissed the body, and said:
"I bless thee, Orlando; I bless thy whole life, and all that thou
wast, and all that thou ever didst, and the father that begat
thee; and I ask pardon of thee for believing those who brought
thee to thine end. They shall have their reward, O thou beloved
one! But indeed it is thou that livest, and I who am worse than
Horrible to the Emperor's eyes was the sight of the field of
Roncesvalles. The Saracens indeed had fled, conquered; but all his
paladins but two were left on it dead, and the whole valley looked
like a great slaughter-house, trampled into blood and dirt, and
reeking to the heat. Charles trembled to his heart's core for
wonder and agony. After gazing dumbly on the place he cursed it
with a solemn curse, and wished that never grass might grow in it
again, nor seed of any kind, neither within it nor on any of its
mountains around, but the anger of Heaven abide over it forever.
Charles and his warriors went after the Saracens into Spain. They
took and fired Saragossa, and Marsilius was hung to the carob-tree
under which he had planned his villainy with Gan; and Gan was hung
and drawn and quartered in Roncesvalles, amidst the execrations of
RINALDO AND BAYARD
CHARLEMAGNE was overwhelmed with grief at the loss of so many of
his bravest warriors at the disaster of Roncesvalles, and bitterly
reproached himself for his credulity in resigning himself so
completely to the counsels of the treacherous Count Gan. Yet he
soon fell into a similar snare when he suffered his unworthy son,
Charlot, to acquire such an influence over him, that he constantly
led him into acts of cruelty and injustice that in his right mind
he would have scorned to commit. Rinaldo and his brothers, for
some slight offence to the imperious young prince, were forced to
fly from Paris, and to take shelter in their castle of Montalban;
for Charles had publicly said, if he could take them he would hang
them all. He sent numbers of his bravest knights to arrest them,
but all without success. Either Rinaldo foiled their efforts and
sent them back, stripped of their armor and of their glory, or,
after meeting and conferring with him, they came back and told the
king they could not be his instruments for such a work.
At last Charles himself raised a great army, and went in person to
compel the paladin to submit. He ravaged all the country round
about Montalban, so that supplies of food should be cut off, and
he threatened death to any who should attempt to issue forth,
hoping to compel the garrison to submit for want of food.
Rinaldo's resources had been brought so low that it seemed useless
to contend any longer. His brothers had been taken prisoners in a
skirmish, and his only hope of saving their lives was in making
terms with the king.
So he sent a messenger, offering to yield himself and his castle
if the king would spare his and his brothers' lives. While the
messenger was gone Rinaldo, impatient to learn what tidings he
might bring, rode out to meet him. When he had ridden as far as he
thought prudent he stopped in a wood, and alighting, tied Bayard
to a tree. Then he sat down, and, as he waited, he fell asleep.
Bayard meanwhile got loose, and strayed away where the grass
tempted him. Just then came along some country people, who said to
one another, "Look, is not that the great horse Bayard that
Rinaldo rides? Let us take him, and carry him to King Charles, who
will pay us well for our trouble." They did so, and the king was
delighted with his prize, and gave them a present that made them
rich to their dying day.
When Rinaldo woke he looked round for his horse, and, finding him
not, he groaned, and said, "O unlucky hour that I was born! how
fortune persecutes me!" So desperate was he that he took off his
armor and his spurs, saying, "What need have I of these, since
Bayard is lost?" While he stood thus lamenting, a man came from
the thicket, seemingly bent with age. He had a long beard hanging
over his breast, and eyebrows that almost covered his eyes. He
bade Rinaldo good day. Rinaldo thanked him, and said, "A good day
I have hardly had since I was born." Then said the old man,
"Signor Rinaldo, you must not despair, for God will make all
things turn to the best." Rinaldo answered, "My trouble is too
heavy for me to hope relief. The king has taken my brothers, and
means to put them to death. I thought to rescue them by means of
my horse Bayard, but while I slept some thief has stolen him." The
old man replied, "I will remember you and your brothers in my
prayers. I am a poor man, have you not something to give me?"
Rinaldo said, "I have nothing to give," but then he recollected
his spurs. He gave them to the beggar, and said, "Here, take my
spurs. They are the first present my mother gave me when my
father, Count Aymon, dubbed me knight. They ought to bring you ten
The old man took the spurs, and put them into his sack, and said,
"Noble sir, have you nothing else you can give me?" Rinaldo
replied, "Are you making sport of me? I tell you truly if it were
not for shame to beat one so helpless, I would teach you better
manners." The old man said, "Of a truth, sir, if you did so you
would do a great sin. If all had beaten me of whom I have begged I
should have been killed long ago, for I ask alms in churches and
convents, and wherever I can." "You say true," replied Rinaldo,
"if you did not ask, none would relieve you." The old man said,
"True, noble sir, therefore I pray if you have anything more to
spare, give it me." Rinaldo gave him his mantle, and said, "Take
it, pilgrim. I give it you for the love of Christ, that God would
save my brothers from a shameful death, and help me to escape out
of King Charles's power."
The pilgrim took the mantle, folded it up, and put it into his
bag. Then a third time he said to Rinaldo, "Sir, have you nothing
left to give me that I may remember you in my prayers?" "Wretch!"
exclaimed Rinaldo, "do you make me your sport?" and he drew his
sword, and struck at him; but the old man warded off the blow with
his staff, and said, "Rinaldo, would you slay your cousin,
Malagigi?" When Rinaldo heard that he stayed his hand, and gazed
doubtingly on the old man, who now threw aside his disguise, and
appeared to be indeed Malagigi. "Dear cousin," said Rinaldo, "pray
forgive me. I did not know you. Next to God, my trust is in you.
Help my brothers to escape out of prison, I entreat you. I have
lost my horse, and therefore cannot render them any assistance."
Malagigi answered, "Cousin Rinaldo, I will enable you to recover
your horse. Meanwhile, you must do as I say."
Then Malagigi took from his sack a gown, and gave it to Rinaldo to
put on over his armor, and a hat that was full of holes, and an
old pair of shoes to put on. They looked like two pilgrims, very
old and poor. Then they went forth from the wood, and after a
little while saw four monks riding along the road. Malagigi said
to Rinaldo, "I will go meet the monks, and see what news I can
Malagigi learned from the monks that on the approaching festival
there would be a great crowd of people at court, for the prince
was going to show the ladies the famous horse Bayard that used to
belong to Rinaldo. "What!" said the pilgrim; "is Bayard there?"
"Yes," answered the monks; "the king has given him to Charlot,
and, after the prince has ridden him the king means to pass
sentence on the brothers of Rinaldo, and have them hanged." Then
Malagigi asked alms of the monks, but they would give him none,
till he threw aside his pilgrim garb, and let them see his armor,
when, partly for charity and partly for terror, they gave him a
golden cup, adorned with precious stones that sparkled in the
Malagigi then hastened back to Rinaldo, and told him what he had
The morning of the feast-day Rinaldo and Malagigi came to the
place where the sports were to be held. Malagigi gave Rinaldo his
spurs back again, and said, "Cousin, put on your spurs, for you
will need them." "How shall I need them," said Rinaldo, "since I
have lost my horse?" Yet he did as Malagigi directed him.
When the two had taken their stand on the border of the field
among the crowd the princes and ladies of the court began to
assemble. When they were all assembled the king came also, and
Charlot with him, near whom the horse Bayard was led, in the
charge of grooms, who were expressly enjoined to guard him safely.
The king, looking round on the circle of spectators, saw Malagigi
and Rinaldo, and observed the splendid cup that they had, and said
to Charlot, "See, my son, what a brilliant cup those two pilgrims
have got. It seems to be worth a hundred ducats." "That is true,"
said Charlot; "Let us go and ask where they got it." So they rode
to the place where the pilgrims stood, and Charlot stopped Bayard
close to them.
The horse snuffed at the pilgrims, knew Rinaldo, and caressed his
master. The king said to Malagigi, "Friend, where did you get that
beautiful cup?" Malagigi replied, "Honorable sir, I paid for it
all the money I have saved from eleven years' begging in churches
and convents. The Pope himself has blessed it, and given it the
power that whosoever eats or drinks out of it shall be pardoned of
all his sins." Then said the king to Charlot, "My son, these are
right holy men; see how the dumb beast worships them."
Then the king said to Malagigi, "Give me a morsel from your cup,
that I may be cleared of my sins." Malagigi answered, "Illustrious
lord, I dare not do it, unless you will forgive all who have at
any time offended you. You know that Christ forgave all those who
had betrayed and crucified him." The king replied, "Friend, that
is true; but Rinaldo has so grievously offended me, that I cannot
forgive him, nor that other man, Malagigi, the magician. These two
shall never live in my kingdom again. If I catch them I will
certainly have them hanged. But tell me, pilgrim, who is that man
who stands beside you?" "He is deaf, dumb, and blind," said
Malagigi. Then the king said again, "Give me to drink of your cup,
to take away my sins." Malagigi answered, "My lord king, here is
my poor brother, who for fifty days has not heard, spoken, nor
seen. This misfortune befell him in a house where we found
shelter, and the day before yesterday we met with a wise woman,
who told him the only hope of a cure for him was to come to some
place where Bayard was to be ridden, and to mount and ride him;
that would do him more good than anything else." Then said the
king, "Friend, you have come to the right place, for Bayard is to
be ridden here to-day. Give me a draught from your cup, and your
companion shall ride upon Bayard." Malagigi, hearing these words,
said, "Be it so." Then the king, with great devotion, took a
spoon, and dipped a portion from the pilgrim's cup, believing that
his sins should be thereby forgiven.
When this was done, the king said to Charlot, "Son, I request that
you will let this sick pilgrim sit on your horse, and ride if he
can, for by so doing he will be healed of all his infirmities."
Charlot replied, "That will I gladly do." So saying, he
dismounted, and the servants took the pilgrim in their arms, and
helped him on the horse.
Wher Rinaldo was mounted, he put his feet in the stirrups, and
said, "I would like to ride a little." Malagigi, hearing him
speak, seemed delighted, and asked him whether he could see and
hear also. "Yes," said Rinaldo, "I am healed of all my
infirmities." When the king heard it he said to Bishop Turpin, "My
lord bishop, we must celebrate this with a procession, with
crosses and banners, for it is a great miracle."
When Rinaldo remarked that he was not carefully watched, he spoke
to the horse, and touched him with the spurs. Bayard knew that his
master was upon him, and he started off upon a rapid pace, and in
a few moments was a good way off. Malagigi pretended to be in
great alarm. "O noble king and master," he cried, "my poor
companion is run away with; he will fall and break his neck." The
king ordered his knights to ride after the pilgrim, and bring him
back, or help him if need were. They did so, but it was in vain.
Rinaldo left them all behind him, and kept on his way till he
reached Montalban. Malagigi was suffered to depart, unsuspected,
and he went his way, making sad lamentation for the fate of his
comrade, who he pretended to think must surely be dashed to
Malagigi did not go far, but having changed his disguise, returned
to where the king was, and employed his best art in getting the
brothers of Rinaldo out of prison. He succeeded; and all three got
safely to Montalban, where Rinaldo's joy at the rescue of his
brothers and the recovery of Bayard was more than tongue can tell.
DEATH OF RINALDO
THE distress in Rinaldo's castle for want of food grew more severe
every day, under the pressure of the siege. The garrison were
forced to kill their horses, both to save the provision they would
consume, and to make food of their flesh. At last all the horses
were killed except Bayard, and Rinaldo said to his brothers,
"Bayard must die, for we have nothing else to eat." So they went
to the stable and brought out Bayard to kill him. But Alardo said,
"Brother, let Bayard live a little longer; who knows what God may
do for us?"
Bayard heard these words, and understood them as if he was a man,
and fell on his knees, as if he would beg for mercy. When Rinaldo
saw the distress of his horse his heart failed him, and he let him
Just at this time Aya, Rinaldo's mother, who was the sister of the
Emperor, came to the camp, attended by knights and ladies, to
intercede for her sons. She fell on her knees before the king, and
besought him that he would pardon Rinaldo and his brothers: and
all the peers and knights took her side, and entreated the king to
grant her prayer. Then said the king, "Dear sister, you act the
part of a good mother, and I respect your tender heart, and yield
to your entreaties. I will spare your sons their lives if they
submit implicitly to my will."
When Charlot heard this he approached the king and whispered in
his ear. And the king turned to his sister and said, "Charlot must
have Bayard, because I have given the horse to him. Now go, my
sister, and tell Rinaldo what I have said."
When the Lady Aya heard these words she was delighted, thanked God
in her heart, and said, "Worthy king and brother, I will do as you
bid me." So she went into the castle, where her sons received her
most joyfully and affectionately, and she told them the king's
offer. Then Alardo said, "Brother, I would rather have the king's
enmity than give Bayard to Charlot, for I believe he will kill
him." Likewise said all the brothers. When Rinaldo heard them he
said, "Dear brothers, if we may win our forgiveness by giving up
the horse, so be it. Let us make our peace, for we cannot stand
against the king's power." Then he went to his mother, and told
her they would give the horse to Charlot, and more, too, if the
king would pardon them, and forgive all that they had done against
his crown and dignity. The lady returned to Charles and told him
the answer of her sons.
When the peace was thus made between the king and the sons of
Aymon, the brothers came forth from the castle, bringing Bayard
with them, and, falling at the king's feet, begged his
forgiveness. The king bade them rise, and received them into favor
in the sight of all his noble knights and counsellors, to the
great joy of all, especially of the Lady Aya, their mother. Then
Rinaldo took the horse Bayard, gave him to Charlot, and said, "My
lord and prince, this horse I give to you; do with him as to you
seems good." Charlot took him, as had been agreed on. Then he made
the servants take him to the bridge, and throw him into the water.
Bayard sank to the bottom, but soon came to the surface again and
swam, saw Rinaldo looking at him, came to land, ran to his old
master, and stood by him as proudly as if he had understanding,
and would say, "Why did you treat me so?" When the prince saw that
he said, "Rinaldo, give me the horse again, for he must die."
Rinaldo replied, "My lord and prince, he is yours without
dispute," and gave him to him. The prince then had a millstone
tied to each foot, and two to his neck, and made them throw him
again into the water. Bayard struggled in the water, looked up to
his master, threw off the stones, and came back to Rinaldo.
When Alardo saw that, he said, "Now must thou be disgraced
forever, brother, if thou give up the horse again." But Rinaldo
answered, "Brother, be still. Shall I for the horse's life provoke
the anger of the king again?" Then Alardo said, "Ah, Bayard! what
a return do we make for all thy true love and service!" Rinaldo
gave the horse to the prince again, and said, "My lord, if the
horse comes out again I cannot return him to you any more, for it
wrings my heart too much." Then Chariot had Bayard loaded with the
stones as before, and thrown into the water; and commanded Rinaldo
that he should not stand where the horse would see him. When
Bayard rose to the surface he stretched his neck out of the water
and looked round for his master, but saw him not. Then he sunk to
Rinaldo was so distressed for the loss of Bayard that he made a
vow to ride no horse again all his life long, nor to bind a sword
to his side, but to become a hermit. He resolved to betake himself
to some wild wood, but first to return to his castle, to see his
children, and to appoint to each his share of his estate.
So he took leave of the king and of his brothers, and returned to
Montalban, and his brothers remained with the king. Rinaldo called
his children to him, and he made his eldest born, Aymeric, a
knight, and made him lord of his castle and of his land. He gave
to the rest what other goods he had, and kissed and embraced them
all, commended them to God, and then departed from them with a
He had not travelled far when he entered a wood, and there met
with a hermit, who had long been retired from the world. Rinaldo
greeted him, and the hermit replied courteously, and asked him who
he was and what was his purpose. Rinaldo replied, "Sir, I have led
a sinful life; many deeds of violence have I done, and many men
have I slain, not always in a good cause, but often under the
impulse of my own headstrong passions. I have also been the cause
of the death of many of my friends, who took my part, not because
they thought me in the right, but only for love of me. And now I
come to make confession of all my sins, and to do penance for the
rest of my life, if perhaps the mercy of God will forgive me." The
hermit said, "Friend, I perceive you have fallen into great sins,
and have broken the commandments of God, but his mercy is greater
than your sins; and if you repent from your heart, and lead a new
life, there is yet hope for you that he will forgive you what is
past." So Rinaldo was comforted, and said, "Master, I will stay
with you, and what you bid ane I will do." The hermit replied,
"Roots and vegetables will be your food; shirt or shoes you may
not wear; your lot must be poverty and want if you stay with me."
Rinaldo replied, "I will cheerfully bear all this, and more." So
he remained three whole years with the hermit, and after that his
strength failed, and it seemed as if he was like to die.
One night the hermit had a dream, and heard a voice from heaven,
which commanded him to say to his companion that he must without
delay go to the Holy Land, and fight against the heathen. The
hermit, when he heard that voice, was glad, and calling Rinaldo,
he said, "Friend, God's angel has commanded me to say to you that
you must without delay go to Jerusalem, and help our fellow-
Christians in their struggle with the Infidels." Then said
Rinaldo, "Ah! master, how can I do that? It is over three years
since I made a vow no more to ride a horse, nor take a sword or
spear in my hand." The hermit answered, "Dear friend, obey God,
and do what the angel commanded." "I will do so," said Rinaldo,
"and pray for me, my master, that God may guide me right." Then he
departed, and went to the seaside, and took ship and came to
Tripoli in Syria.
And as he went on his way his strength returned to him, till it
was equal to what it was in his best days. And though he never
mounted a horse, nor took a sword in his hand, yet with his
pilgrim's staff he did good service in the armies of the
Christians; and it pleased God that he escaped unhurt, though he
was present in many battles, and his courage inspired the men with
the same. At last a truce was made with the Saracens, and Rinaldo,
now old and infirm, wishing to see his native land again before he
died, took ship and sailed for France. When he arrived he shunned
to go to the resorts of the great, and preferred to live among the
humble folk, where he was unknown. He did country work, and lived
on milk and bread, drank water, and was therewith content. While
he so lived he heard that the city of Cologne was the holiest and
best of cities, on account of the relics and bodies of saints who
had there poured out their blood for the faith. This induced him
to betake himself thither. When the pious hero arrived at Cologne
he went to the monastery of St. Peter, and lived a holy life,
occupied night and day in devotion. It so happened that at that
time in the next town to Cologne there raged a dreadful
pestilence. Many people came to Rinaldo, to beg him to pray for
them, that the plague might be stayed. The holy man prayed
fervently, and besought the Lord to take away the plague from the
people, and his prayer was heard. The stroke of the pestilence was
arrested, and all the people thanked the holy man and praised God.
Now there was at this time at Cologne a bishop, called Agilolphus,
who was a wise and understanding man, who led a pure and secluded
life, and set a good example to others. This bishop undertook to
build the Church of St. Peter, and gave notice to all stonemasons
and other workmen round about to come to Cologne, where they
should find work and wages. Among others came Rinaldo; and he
worked among the laborers and did more than four or five common
workmen. When they went to dinner he brought stone and mortar so
that they had enough for the whole day. When the others went to
bed he stretched himself out on the stones. He ate bread only, and
drank nothing but water; and had for his wages but a penny a day.
The head workman asked him his name, and where he belonged. He
would not tell, but said nothing and pursued his work. They called
him St. Peter's workman, because he was so devoted to his work.
When the overseer saw the diligence of this holy man he chid the
laziness of the other workmen, and said, "You receive more pay
than this good man, but do not do half as much work." For this
reason the other workmen hated Rinaldo, and made a secret
agreement to kill him. They knew that he made it a practice to go
every night to a certain church to pray and give alms. So they
agreed to lay wait for him, with the purpose to kill him. When he
came to the spot, they seized him, and beat him over the head till
he was dead. Then they put his body into a sack, and stones with
it, and cast it into the Rhine, in the hope the sack would sink to
the bottom, and be there concealed. But God willed not that it
should be so, but caused the sack to float on the surface, and be
thrown upon the bank. And the soul of the holy martyr was carried
by angels, with songs of praise, up to the heavens.
Now at that time the people of Dortmund had become converted to
the Christian faith; and they sent to the Bishop of Cologne, and
desired him to give them some of the holy relics that are in such
abundance in that city. So the Bishop called together his clergy
to deliberate what answer they should give to this request. And it
was determined to give to the people of Dortmund the body of the
holy man who had just suffered martyrdom.
When now the body with the coffin was put on the cart, the cart
began to move toward Dortmund without horses or help of men, and
stopped not till it reached the place where the church of St.
Rinaldo now stands. The Bishop and his clergy followed the holy
man to do him honor, with singing of hymns, for a space of three
miles. And St. Rinaldo has ever since been the patron of that
place, and many wonderful works has God done through him, as may
be seen in the legends.
HUON OF BORDEAUX
WHEN Charlemagne grew old he felt the burden of government become
heavier year by year, till at last he called together his high
barons and peers to propose to abdicate the empire and the throne
of France in favor of his sons, Charlot and Lewis.
The Emperor was unreasonably partial to his eldest son; he would
have been glad to have had the barons and peers demand Charlot for
their only sovereign; but that prince was so infamous, for his
falsehood and cruelty, that the council strenuously opposed the
Emperor's proposal of abdicating, and implored him to continue to
hold a sceptre which he wielded with so much glory.
Amaury of Hauteville, cousin of Ganelon, and now head of the
wicked branch of the house of Maganza, was the secret partisan of
Charlot, whom he resembled in his loose morals and bad
dispositions. Amaury nourished the most bitter resentment against
the house of Guienne, of which the former Duke, Sevinus, had often
rebuked his misdeeds. He took advantage of this occasion to do an
injury to the two young children whom the Duke Sevinus had left
under the charge of the Duchess Alice, their mother; and at the
same time, to advance his interest with Charlot by increasing his
wealth and power. With this view he suggested to the prince a new
He pretended to agree with the opinion of the barons; he said that
it would be best to try Charlot's capacity for government by
giving him some rich provinces before placing him upon the throne;
and that the Emperor, without depriving himself of any part of his
realm, might give Charlot the investiture of Guienne. For although
seven years had passed since the death of Sevinus, the young Duke,
his son, had not yet repaired to the court of Charlemagne to
render the homage due to his lawful sovereign.
We have often had occasion to admire the justice and wisdom of the
advice which on all occasions the Duke Namo of Bavaria gave to
Charlemagne, and he now discountenanced, with indignation, the
selfish advice of Amaury. He represented to the Emperor the early
age of the children of Sevinus, and the useful and glorious
services of their late father, and proposed to Charlemagne to send
two knights to the Duchess at Bordeaux, to summon her two sons to
the court of the Emperor, to pay their respects and render homage.
Charlemagne approved this advice, and sent two chevaliers to
demand the two young princes of their mother. No sooner had the
Duchess learned the approach of the two knights, than she sent
distinguished persons to receive them; and as soon as they entered
the palace she presented herself before them, with her elder and
younger sons, Huon and Girard.
The deputies, delighted with the honors and caresses they
received, accompanied with rich presents, left Bordeaux with
regret and on their return represented to Charlemagne that the
young Duke Huon seemed born to tread in the footsteps of his brave
father, informing him that in three months the young princes of
Guienne would present themselves at his court.
The Duchess employed the short interval in giving her sons her
last instructions. Huon received them in his heart, and Girard
gave as much heed to them as could be expected from one so young.
The preparations for their departure having been made, the Duchess
embraced them tenderly, commending them to the care of Heaven, and
charged them to call, on their way, at the celebrated monastery of
Cluny, to visit the Abbot, the brother of their father. This
Abbot, worthy of his high dignity, had never lost an opportunity
of doing good, setting an example of every excellence, and making
virtue attractive by his example.
He received his nephews with the greatest magnificence; and, aware
how useful his presence might be to them with Charlemagne, whose
valued counsellor he was, he took with them the road to Paris.
When Amaury learned what reception the two deputies of Charlemagne
had received at Bordeaux, and the arrangements made for the visit
of the young princes to the Emperor's court, he suggested to
Charlot to give him a troop of his guards, with which he proposed
to lay wait for the young men in the wood of Montlery, put them to
death, and thereby give the prince Charlot possession of the duchy
A plan of treachery and violence agreed but too well with
Charlot's disposition. He not only adopted the suggestion of
Amaury, but insisted upon taking a part in it. They went out
secretly, by night, followed by a great number of attendants, all
armed in black, to lie in ambuscade in the wood where the brothers
were to pass.
Girard, the younger of the two, having amused himself as he rode
by flying his hawk at such game as presented itself, had ridden in
advance of his brother and the Abbot of Cluny. Charlot, who saw
him coming, alone and unarmed, went forth to meet him, sought a
quarrel with him, and threw him from his horse with a stroke of
his lance. Girard uttered a cry as he fell; Huon heard it, and
flew to his defence, with no other weapon than his sword. He came
up with him, and saw the blood flowing from his wound. "What has
this child done to you, wretch!" he exclaimed to Charlot. "How
cowardly to attack him when unprepared to defend himself!" "By my
faith," said Charlot, "I mean to do the same by you. Know that I
am the son of Duke Thierry of Ardennes, from whom your father,
Sevinus, took three castles; I have sworn to avenge him, and I
defy you." "Coward," answered Huon, "I know well the baseness that
dwells in your race; worthy son of Thierry, use the advantage that
your armor gives you; but know that I fear you not." At these
words Charlot had the wickedness to put his lance in rest, and to
run upon Huon, who had barely time to wrap his arm in his mantle.
With this feeble buckler he received the thrust of the lance. It
penetrated the mantle, but missed his body. Then, rising upon his
stirrups, Sir Huon struck Charlot so terrible a blow with his
sword that the helmet was cleft asunder, and his head too. The
dastardly prince fell dead upon the ground.
Huon now perceived that the wood was full of armed men. He called
the men of his suite, and they hastily put themselves in order,
but nobody issued from the wood to attack him. Amaury, who saw
Charlot's fall, had no desire to compromit himself; and, feeling
sure that Charlemagne would avenge the death of his son, he saw no
occasion for his doing anything more at present. He left Huon and
the Abbot of Cluny to bind up the wound of Girard, and, having
seen them depart and resume their way to Paris, he took up the
body of Charlot, and, placing it across a horse, had it carried to
Paris, where he arrived four hours after Huon.
The Abbot of Cluny presented his nephew to Charlemagne, but Huon
refrained from paying his obeisance, complaining grievously of the
ambush which had been set for him, which he said could not have
been without the Emperor's permission. Charlemagne, surprised at a
charge which his magnanimous soul was incapable of meriting, asked
eagerly of the Abbot what were the grounds of the complaints of
his nephew. The Abbot told him faithfully all that had happened,
informing him that a coward knight, who called himself the son of
Thierry of Ardennes, had wounded Girard, and run upon Huon, who
was unarmed; but by his force and valor he had overcome the
traitor, and left him dead upon the plain.
Charlemagne indignantly disavowed any connection with the action
of the infamous Thierry, congratulated the young Duke upon his
victory, himself conducted the two brothers to a rich apartment,
stayed to see the first dressing applied to the wound of Girard,
and left the brothers in charge of Duke Namo of Bavaria, who,
having been a companion in arms of the Duke Sevinus, regarded the
young men almost as if they were his own sons.
Charlemagne had hardly quitted them when, returning to his
chamber, he heard cries, and saw through the window a party of
armed men just arrived. He recognized Amaury, who bore a dead
knight stretched across a horse; and the name of Charlot was heard
among the exclamations of the people assembled in the court-yard.
Charles's partiality for this unworthy son was one of his
weaknesses. He descended in trepidation to the court-yard, ran to
Amaury, and uttered a cry of grief on recognizing Charlot. "It is
Huon of Bordeaux," said the traitor Amaury, "who has massacred
your son before it was in my power to defend him." Charlemagne,
furious at these words, seized a sword, and flew to the apartment
of the two brothers to plunge it into the heart of the murderer of
his son. Duke Namo stopped his hand for an instant, while Charles
told him the crime of which Huon was accused. "He is a peer of the
realm," said Namo, "and if he is guilty, is he not here in your
power, and are not we peers the proper judges to condemn him to
death? Let not your hand be stained with his blood." The Emperor,
calmed by the wisdom of Duke Namo, summoned Amaury to his
presence. The peers assembled to hear his testimony, and the
traitor accused Huon of Bordeaux of having struck the fatal blow
without allowing Charlot an opportunity to defend himself, and
though he knew that his opponent was the Emperor's eldest son.
The Abbot of Cluny, indignant at the false accusation of Amaury,
advanced, and said, "By Saint Benedict, sire, the traitor lies in
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