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 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 learn."
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 sunshine.
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. The 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
When 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
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 pieces.
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.