Subscribe for ad free access & additional features for teachers. Authors: 267, Books: 3,607, Poems & Short Stories: 4,435, Forum Members: 71,154, Forum Posts: 1,238,602, Quizzes: 344

Chapter 7

CHAPTER VII.
THE INVASION OF FRANCE, CONTINUED.

MANDRICARDO, having completed his story now turned to Rogero, and
proposed that arms should decide which of the two was most worthy to
bear the symbol of the Trojan knight.
Rogero felt no other objection to this proposal than the scruple
which arose on observing that his antagonist was without a sword.
Mandricardo insisted that this need be no impediment, since his oath
prevented him from using a sword until he should have achieved the
conquest of Durindana.
This was no sooner said than a new antagonist started up in
Gradasso, who now accompanied Mandricardo. Gradasso vindicated his
prior right to Durindana, to obtain which he had embarked (as was
related in the beginning) in that bold inroad upon France. A quarrel
was thus kindled between the kings of Tartary and Sericane. While
the dispute was raging, a knight arrived upon the ground,
accompanied by a damsel, to whom Rogero related the cause of the
strife. The knight was Florismart, and his companion Flordelis.
Florismart succeeded in bringing the two champions to accord, by
informing them that he could bring them to the presence of Orlando,
the master of Durindana.
Gradasso and Mandricardo readily made truce, in order to accompany
Florismart, nor would Rogero be left behind.
As they proceeded on their quest, they were met by a dwarf, who
entreated their assistance in behalf of his lady, who had been carried
off by an enchanter, mounted on a winged horse. However unwilling to
leave the question of the sword undecided, it was not possible for the
knights to resist this appeal. Two of their number, Gradasso and
Rogero, therefore accompanied the dwarf, Mandricardo persisted in
his search for Orlando, and, Florismart, with Flordelis, pursued their
way to the camp of Charlemagne.
Atlantes, the enchanter, who had brought up Rogero, and cherished
for him the warmest affection, knew by his art that his pupil was
destined to be severed from him, and converted to the Christian
faith through the influence of Bradamante, that royal maiden with whom
chance had brought him acquainted. Thinking to thwart the will of
Heaven in this respect, he now put forth all his arts to entrap Rogero
into his power. By the aid of his subservient demons, he reared a
castle on an inaccessible height, in the Pyrenean mountains, and, to
make it a pleasant abode to his pupil, contrived to entrap and
convey thither knights and damsels many a one, whom chance had brought
into the vicinity of his castle. Here, in a sort of sensual
paradise, they were but too willing to forget glory and duty, and to
pass their time in indolent enjoyment.
It was by the enchanter that the dwarf had now been sent to tempt
the knights into his power.
But we must now return to Rinaldo, whom we left interrupted in his
combat with Rodomont. In search of his late antagonist, and intent
on bringing their combat to a decision, he entered the forest of
Arden, whither he suspected Rodomont had gone. While engaged on this
quest, he was surprised by the vision of a beautiful child dancing
naked, with three damsels as beautiful as himself. While he was lost
in admiration at the sight, the child approached him, and, throwing at
him handfuls of roses and lilies, struck him from his horse. He was no
sooner down than he was seized by the dancers, by whom he was
dragged about and scourged with flowers till he fell into a swoon.
When he began to revive, one of the group approached him, and told him
that his punishment was the consequence of his rebellion against
that power before whom all things bend; that there was but one
remedy to heal the wounds that had been inflicted, and that was to
drink of the waters of Love. Then they left him.
Rinaldo, sore and faint, dragged himself toward a fountain which
flowed near by, and, being parched with thirst, drank greedily and
almost unconsciously of the water, which was sweet to the taste, but
bitter at the heart. After repeated draughts he recovered his strength
and recollection, and found himself in the same place where Angelica
had formerly awakened him with a rain of flowers, and whence he had
fled in contempt of her courtesy.
This remembrance of the scene was followed by the recognition of his
crime; and, repenting bitterly his ingratitude, he leaped upon Bayard,
with the intention of hastening to Angelica's country, and
soliciting his pardon at her feet.
Let us now retrace our steps, and revert to the time when the
paladins, having learned from Dudon the summons of Charlemagne to
return to France to repel the invaders, had all obeyed the command
with the exception of Orlando, whose passion for Angelica still held
him in attendance on her. Orlando, arriving before Albracca, found
it closely beleaguered. He, however, made his way into the citadel,
and related his adventures to Angelica, from the time of his departure
up to his separation from Rinaldo and the rest, when they departed
to the assistance of Charlemagne. Angelica, in return, described the
distresses of the garrison, and the force of the besiegers; and in
conclusion prayed Orlando to favor her escape from the pressing
danger, and escort her into France. Orlando, who did not suspect
that love for Rinaldo was her secret motive, joyfully agreed to the
proposal, and the sally was resolved upon.
Leaving lights burning in the fortress, they departed at
nightfall, and passed in safety through the enemy's camp. After
encountering numerous adventures, they reached the sea-side, and
embarked on board a pinnace for France. The vessel arrived safely, and
the travellers, disembarking in Provence, pursued their way by land.
One day, heated and weary, they sought shelter from the sun in the
forest of Arden, and chance directed Angelica to the fountain of
Disdain, of whose waters she eagerly drank.
Issuing thence, the Count and damsel encountered a stranger
knight. It was no other than Rinaldo, who was just on the point of
setting off on a pilgrimage in search of Angelica, to implore her
pardon for his insensibility, and urge his new-found passion. Surprise
and delight at first deprived him of utterance, but soon recovering
himself, he joyfully saluted her, claiming her as his, and exhorting
her to put herself under his protection. His presumption was
repelled by Angelica with disdain, and Orlando, enraged at the
invasion of his rights, challenged him to decide their claims by arms.
Terrified at the combat which ensued, Angelica fled amain through
the forest, and came out upon a plain covered with tents. This was the
camp of Charlemagne, who led the army of reserve destined to support
the troops which had advanced to oppose Marsilius. Charles, having
heard the damsel's tale, with difficulty separated the two cousins,
and then consigned Angelica, as the cause of quarrel, to the care of
Namo, Duke of Bavaria, promising that she should be his who should
best deserve her in the impending battle.
But these plans and hopes were frustrated. The Christian army,
beaten at all points, fled from the Saracens; and Angelica,
indifferent to both her lovers, mounted a swift palfrey and plunged
into the forest, rejoicing, in spite of her terror, at having regained
her liberty. She stopped at last in a tufted grove, where a gentle
zephyr blew, and whose young trees were watered by two clear
runnels, which came and mingled their waters, making a pleasing
murmur. Believing herself far from Rinaldo, and overcome by fatigue
and the summer heat, she saw with delight a bank covered with flowers,
so thick that they almost hid the green turf, inviting her to alight
and rest. She dismounted from her palfrey, and turned him loose to
recruit his strength with the tender grass which bordered the
streamlets. Then, in a sheltered nook tapestried with moss and
fenced in with roses and hawthorn-flowers, she yielded herself to
grateful repose.
She had not slept long when she was awakened by the noise made by
the approach of a horse. Starting up she saw an armed knight who had
arrived at the bank of the stream. Not knowing whether he was to be
feared or not, her heart beat with anxiety. She pressed aside the
leaves to allow her to see who it was, but scarce dared to breathe for
fear of betraying herself. Soon the knight threw himself on the
flowery bank, and, leaning his head on his hand, fell into a
profound reverie. Then arousing himself from his silence, be began
to pour forth complaints, mingled with deep sighs. Rivers of tears
flowed down his cheeks, and his breast seemed to labor with a hidden
flame. "Ah, vain regrets!" he exclaimed; "cruel fortune! others
triumph, while I endure hopeless misery! Better a thousand times to
lose life, than wear a chain so disgraceful and so oppressive!"
Angelica by this time had recognized the stranger, and perceived
that it was Sacripant, king of Circassia, one of the worthiest of
her suitors. This prince had followed Angelica from his country, at
the very gates of the day, to France, where he heard with dismay
that she was under the guardianship of the Paladin Orlando, and that
the Emperor had announced his decree to award her as the prize of
valor to that one of his nephews who should best deserve her.
As Sacripant continued to lament, Angelica, who had always opposed
the hardness of marble to his sighs, thought with herself that nothing
forbade her employing his good offices in this unhappy crisis.
Though firmly resolved never to accept him as a spouse, she yet felt
the necessity of giving him a gleam of hope in reward for the
service she required of him. All at once, like Diana, she stepped
forth from the arbor. "May the gods preserve thee," she said, "and put
far from thee all hard thoughts of me!" Then she told him all that had
befallen her since she parted with him at her father's court, and
how she had availed herself of Orlando's protection to escape from the
beleaguered city. At that moment the noise of horse and armor was
heard as of one approaching; and Sacripant, furious at the
interruption, resumed his helmet, mounted his horse, and placed his
lance in rest. He saw a knight advancing, with scarf and plume of
snowy whiteness. Sacripant regarded him with angry eyes, and, while he
was yet some distance off, defied him to the combat. The other, not
moved by his angry tone to make reply, put himself on his defence.
Their horses, struck at the same moment with the spur, rushed upon one
another with the impetuosity of a tempest, Their shields were
pierced each with the other's lance, and only the temper of their
breastplates saved their lives. Both the horses recoiled with the
violence of the shock; but the unknown knight's recovered itself at
the touch of the spur; the Saracen king's fell dead, and bore down his
master with him. The white knight, seeing his enemy in this condition,
cared not to renew the combat, but, thinking he had done enough for
glory, pursued his way through the forest and was a mile off before
Sacripant had got free from his horse.
As a ploughman, stunned by a thunder-clap which has stricken dead
the oxen at his plough, stands motionless, sadly contemplating his
loss, so Sacripant stood confounded and overwhelmed with mortification
at having Angelica a witness of his defeat. He groaned, he sighed,
less from the pain of his bruises than for the shame of being
reduced to such a state before her. The princess took pity on him, and
consoled him as well as she could. "Banish your regrets, my lord," she
said, "this accident has happened solely in consequence of the
feebleness of your horse, which had more need of rest and food than of
such an encounter as this. Nor can your adversary gain any credit by
it, since he has hurried away, not venturing a second trial." While
she thus consoled Sacripant they perceived a person approach, who
seemed a courier, with bag and horn. As soon as he came up, he
accosted Sacripant, and inquired if he had seen a knight pass that
way, bearing a white shield and with a white plume to his helmet. "I
have, indeed, seen too much of him," said Sacripant, "it is he who has
brought me to the ground; but at least I hope to learn from you who
that knight is." "That I can easily inform you," said the man; "know
then that, if you have been overthrown, you owe your fate to the
high prowess of a lady as beautiful as she is brave. It is the fair
and illustrious Bradamante who has won from you the honors of
victory."
At these words the courier rode on his way, leaving Sacripant more
confounded and mortified than ever. In silence he mounted the horse of
Angelica, taking the lady behind him on the croup, and rode away in
search of a more secure asylum. Hardly had they ridden two miles
when a new sound was heard in the forest, and they perceived a gallant
and powerful horse, which, leaping the ravines and dashing aside the
branches that opposed his passage, appeared before them, accoutred
with a rich harness adorned with gold.
"If I may believe my eyes, which penetrate with difficulty the
underwood," said Angelica, "that horse that dashes so stoutly
through the bushes is Bayard, and I marvel how he seems to know the
need we have of him, mounted as we are both on one feeble animal."
Sacripant, dismounting from the palfrey, approached the fiery courser,
and attempted to seize his bridle, but the disdainful animal,
turning from him, launched at him a volley of kicks enough to have
shattered a wall of marble. Bayard then approached Angelica with an
air as gentle and loving as a faithful dog could his master, after a
long separation. For he remembered how she had caressed him, and
even fed him, in Albracca. She took his bridle in her left hand, while
with her right she patted his neck. The beautiful animal, gifted
with wonderful intelligence, seemed to submit entirely. Sacripant,
seizing the moment to vault upon him, controlled his curvetings, and
Angelica, quitting the croup of the palfrey, regained her seat.
But, turning his eyes toward a place where was heard a noise of
arms, Sacripant beheld Rinaldo. That hero now loves Angelica more than
his life, and she flies him as the timid crane the falcon.
The fountain of which Angelica had drunk produced such an effect
on the beautiful queen, that, with distressed countenance and
trembling voice, she conjured Sacripant not to wait the approach of
Rinaldo, but to join her in flight.
"Am I, then," said Sacripant, "of so little esteem with you that you
doubt my power to defend you? Do you forget the battle of Albracca,
and how, in your defence, I fought single-handed against Agrican and
all his knights?"
Angelica made no reply, uncertain what to do; but already Rinaldo
was too near to be escaped. He advanced menacingly to the Circassian
king, for he recognized his horse.
"Vile thief," he cried, "dismount from that horse, and prevent the
punishment that is your due for daring to rob me of my property.
Leave, also, the princess in my hands; for it would indeed be a sin to
suffer so charming a lady and so gallant a charger to remain in such
keeping."
The king of Circassia, furious at being thus insulted, cried out,
"Thou liest, villain, in giving me the name of thief, which better
belongs to thyself than to me. It is true, the beauty of this lady and
the perfection of this horse are unequalled; come on, then, and let us
try which of us is most worthy to possess them."
At these words the king of Circassia and Rinaldo attacked one
another with all their force, one fighting on foot, the other on
horseback. You need not, however, suppose that the Saracen king
found any advantage in this; for a young page, unused to horsemanship,
could not have failed more completely to manage Bayard than did this
accomplished knight. The faithful animal loved his master too well
to injure him, and refused his aid as well as his obedience to the
hand of Sacripant, who could strike but ineffectual blows, the horse
backing when he wished him to go forward, and dropping his head and
arching his back, throwing out with his legs, so as almost to shake
the knight out of the saddle. Sacripant, seeing that he could not
manage him, watched his opportunity, rose on his saddle, and leapt
lightly to the earth; then, relieved from the embarrassment of the
horse, renewed the combat on more equal terms. Their skill to thrust
and parry was equal; one rises, the other stoops; with one foot set
firm, they turn and wind, to lay on strokes or to dodge them. At
last Rinaldo, throwing himself on the Circassian, dealt him a blow
so terrible that Fusberta, his good sword, cut in two the buckler of
Sacripant, although it was made of bone, and covered with a thick
plate of steel well tempered. The arm of the Saracen was deprived of
its defence, and almost palsied with the stroke. Angelica,
perceiving how victory was likely to incline, and shuddering at the
thought of becoming the prize of Rinaldo, hesitated no longer. Turning
her horse's head, she fled with the utmost speed; and, in spite of the
round pebbles which covered a steep descent, she plunged into a deep
valley, trembling with the fear that Rinaldo was in pursuit. At the
bottom of this valley she encountered an aged hermit, whose white
beard flowed to his middle, and whose venerable appearance seemed to
assure his piety.
This hermit, who appeared shrunk by age and fasting, travelled
slowly, mounted upon a wretched ass. The princess, overcome with fear,
conjured him to save her life, and to conduct her to some port of
the sea, whence she might embark and quit France, never more to hear
the odious name of Rinaldo.
The old hermit was something of a wizard. He comforted Angelica, and
promised to protect her from all peril. Then he opened his scrip,
and took from thence a book, and had read but a single page when a
goblin, obedient to his incantations, appeared, under the form of a
laboring man, and demanded his orders. He received them, transported
himself to the place where the knights still maintained their
conflict, and boldly stepped between the two.
"Tell me, I pray you," he said, "what benefit will accrue to him who
shall get the better in this contest? The object you are contending
for is already disposed of; for the Paladin Orlando, without effort
and without opposition, is now carrying away the princess Angelica
to Paris. You had better pursue them promptly, for if they reach
Paris, you will never see her again."
At these words you might have seen those rival warriors
confounded, stupefied, silently agreeing that they were affording
their rival a fair opportunity to triumph over them. Rinaldo,
approaching Bayard, breathes a sigh of shame and rage, and swears a
terrible oath that, if he overtakes Orlando, he will tear his heart
out. Then mounting Bayard and pressing his flanks with his spurs, he
leaves the king of Circassia on foot in the forest.
Let it not appear strange that Rinaldo found Bayard obedient at
last, after having so long prevented any one from even touching his
bridle; for that fine animal had an intelligence almost human; he
had fled from his master only to draw him on the track of Angelica,
and enable him to recover her. He saw when the princess fled from
the battle, and Rinaldo being then engaged in a fight on foot,
Bayard found himself free to follow the traces of Angelica. Thus he
had drawn his master after him, not permitting him to approach, and
had brought him to the sight of the princess. But Bayard now, deceived
like his master with the false intelligence of the goblin, submits
to be mounted and to serve his master as usual, and Rinaldo,
animated with rage, makes him fly toward Paris, more slowly than his
wishes, though the speed of Bayard outstripped the winds. Full of
impatience to encounter Orlando, he gave but a few hours that night to
sleep. Early the next day he saw before him the great city, under
the walls of which the Emperor Charles had collected the scattered
remains of his army. Foreseeing that he would soon be attacked on
all sides, the Emperor had caused the ancient fortifications to be
repaired, and new ones to be built, surrounded by wide and deep
ditches. The desire to hold the field against the enemy made him seize
every means of procuring new allies. He hoped to receive from
England aid sufficient to enable him to form a new camp, and as soon
as Rinaldo rejoined him, he selected him to go as his ambassador
into England, to plead for auxiliaries. Rinaldo was far from pleased
with this commission, but he obeyed the Emperor's commands, without
giving himself time to devote a single day to the object nearest to
his heart. He hastened to Calais, and lost not a moment in embarking
for England, ardently desiring a hasty despatch of his commission, and
a speedy return to France.

Thomas Bulfinch

Sorry, no summary available yet.