صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

Rinaldo immediately hastened to Paris, to find Orlando absent and Charlemagne, defeated by the Moors, entrenching himself in the city and preparing to send to England for aid. Rinaldo must be his ambassador, and that without a day's delay.

Frantic with jealousy, Rinaldo leaped into a ship in the midst of a storm, and hastened on his errand. Driven upon the coast of Scotland, he won the king's gratitude by saving his daughter Ginevra from shame and death, and secured from him a promise of all the horsemen and arms that could be spared. He was equally successful in England, and was soon reviewing the troops preparatory to their embarkation.

The warrior maid, Bradamant, sister of Rinaldo, after overthrowing Sacripant, pursued her way through the forest in search of Rogero the pagan. They had met once in battle and had loved, and since then she had ever roamed through the land in search of him. In the forest she found Pinabel, lamenting because his beloved lady had been snatched from him by a wizard on a winged steed, and carried to an impregnable castle. Thither he had seen many warriors conveyed, among them Rogero and Gradasso, conquered first by the lance and then thrown into profound slumber by the glare of a magic shield carried by the wizard.

Bradamant, anxious to save Rogero, offered to rescue Pinabel's lady if he would guide her to the castle. But when the treacherous knight learned that she was Bradamant, between whose house and his there was a deadly feud, he planned to slay her, and soon, by his treachery, managed to hurl her down a precipice.

Bradamant was only stunned by the fall, however, and soon awoke, to find herself at the entrance of a cave, which was the tomb of Merlin. Melissa, the prophetess maid, welcomed her, assured her that Rogero should be her spouse, and showed her their phantom descendants, brave princes and beautiful princesses of the house of Este. She then told her that Brunello, a knight of King Agramant,

was hastening to the castle to release the prisoners by means of a magic ring, formerly the property of Angelica, which when put in the mouth would render one invisible, and, worn on the finger, made one proof against magic spells. Bradamant must overcome Brunello, wrest the ring from him, and herself free Rogero.

Following Melissa's advice, Bradamant overtook Brunello, seized the ring, and hastening to the castle, challenged Atlantes to battle. When he displayed the shield she pretended to become unconscious; but when he ran up to bind her she sprang up and seized him. He declared that he had imprisoned Rogero, his nephew, only to save him from the fate foretold by the stars, death by treachery at the hands of the Christians, and had brought the other knights and ladies there for his entertainment. Then Atlantes broke the spell and disappeared, together with the castle, and the prisoners trooped forth, Rogero among them.

Bradamant was happy, but alas ! only for a moment; for as she and Rogero went down the mountain together he thoughtlessly leaped on the hippogrif, which alighted near him, and the winged steed, refusing his control, rose in the air, leaving the tearful Bradamant behind. The hippogrif Aew rapidly over land and sea until it was directly above a small island, upon which it descended. Rogero sprang from its back, tied it to a myrtle tree, and, weary from his three thousand mile ride in heavy armor, prepared to drink from a rippling spring. The groves were of cedar, laurel, palm, and myrtle ; roses and lilies filled the air with their perfume, and the wild stag and timid hare ran fearlessly through the groves. As he stooped to drink he heard a voice issuing from the myrtle to which he had tied the hippogrif. It was that of Astolpho, the English knight, who told him that the greater part of the island was under the control of Alcina the enchantress, who had left only a small portion to her sister Logistilla, to whom it all rightfully belonged. He himself had been enticed thither by Alcina, who had loved him for a few weeks, and then, serving him as she did all her lovers, had transformed him to a tree.

Rogero determined to profit by this advice; but when he was driven from the narrow path to Logistilla's domain and met Alcina he fell under the power of her beauty, and thought Astolpho a traducer. The days passed so gayly in her beautiful home that Rogero forgot the pagan cause, forgot his duty, forgot Bradamant, and was roused from his lethargy only by Melissa, to whom Bradamant had given the magic ring to enable her to find and rescue her lover. Melissa found the young knight when apart from Alcina, and gave him the ring that he might with it be enabled to see the enchantress in her true form. She then instructed him how to escape and seek the kingdom of Logistilla. Rogero was disgusted when the beautiful enchantress appeared as a hideous, wrinkled old woman, but concealing his change of feeling, waited until the opportunity presented itself to get his armor, take a steed, and pass by the warders of the gate. With great difficulty he reached a stream which separated Alcina's lands from those of Logistilla, and while ferrying across was overtaken by the boats of Alcina. With the help of Atlantes' shield, they were overcome, and Alcina was forced to depart, weeping, with only one boat, while Rogero entered the castle of the fairy Logistilla, from whom he learned many noble lessons.

Here came the other knights freed from Alcina's enchantment by Melissa, and Melissa herself with Astolpho, on the hippogrif, which she had learned to control. Astolpho was in his own armor and bore his wondrous spear, which had the power of overthrowing every one whom it so much as touched.

After a short rest among the pleasant gardens of Logistilla, Rogero departed on the hippogrif, and although anxious to see his Bradamant again, took the opportunity to pass over all the known world by this novel method of travel. He saw the troops in England gathering to go to the aid of Charlemagne, and rescued the beautiful Angelica, who had been taken by pirates and sold to the people of Ebuda, who chained her upon a rock as a victim for the orc.

Rogero put the orc to sleep with his magic shield, giving Angelica the ring that the sight of the shield might not affect her as well. But when, charmed by the maid, he became too lover-like in his attentions, she put the ring in her mouth and disappeared. The angry Rogero turned, only to find that his hippogrif had broken its rein and was gone. Hastening through the forest, vexed with himself and the maiden, he fancied he saw Bradamant carried off by a giant, and following her, entered a magic castle of Atlantes, where he spent his days vainly trying to overtake his beloved and her captor.

Orlando could think only of his lost Angelica ; and forgetful of the fact that his uncle Charlemagne was sorely pressed by the heathen, he stole from the camp one night in disguise, and went in search of her. Passing the isle of Ebuda he slew the orc, rescued Olympia, who was exposed as its victim, avenged her wrongs, and continued on his way until he reached the castle of Atlantes, and, fancying he saw Angelica, entered, and began the mad round of pursuit with many other Christian and pagan knights who were rendered unconscious of one another's presence by the magic of the wizard.

Hither came Angelica, invisible by means of the ring, to find a knight to protect her on her way to Cathay. Unfortunately as she showed herself to Sacripant, she was seen by Ferrau and Orlando, and all three pursued her from the castle. When they were sufficiently removed from it Angelica slipped the ring in her mouth and disappeared, and Ferrau and Orlando began to quarrel about Orlando's helmet, which the Moor was determined to win and wear. As Ferrau wore no helm until he could win Orlando's, that paladin hung his on a tree while they fought. Unseen by them, Angelica took it down, intending to restore it to Orlando later, and slipped away. When the knights discovered her absence they went in search of her, and Ferrau, coming upon her, took the helmet as she disappeared in fright. Orlando, assuming another crest, which he did not need, as his body was charmed and could not be hurt by any weapon, went forward, still in search of his love, and on the way encountered and almost totally destroyed two squadrons of Moors, and rescued from a robber's cave the beautiful Isabel, betrothed of Zerbino.

Melissa returned to Bradamant with the news that while Rogero was freed from the enchantment of Alcina, he was imprisoned in Atlantes' castle, from which she herself could rescue him by slaying the wizard, who would appear to her in the form of her lover. Bradamant resolved to do so ; but when she saw the seeming Rogero set upon by two giants, she forgot her resolution, believed Melissa to be false, and spurring after him, became a prisoner in that wondrous castle, through which day and night she pursued her everfeeing lover.

When the Moors discovered the destruction of the two squadrons, Mandricardo, the Tartar king, determined to seek and do battle with the knight (unknown to him by name) who had wrought such destruction. The Tartar wore the arms of Hector save the sword, which was the property of Orlando, and until he gained it, he bore no weapon save the lance. With this, however, he stormed through the battlefield, striking terror to the hearts of all. With it alone, he destroyed a band of men conveying to Rodomont, the Saracen chief, his betrothed bride, Doralice, and won the maid for himself.

Outside Paris raged the infidel, chief among them the giant King Rodomont. Smiting those of his troops who hesitated to mount the scaling ladders, he waded through the wet moat, scaled the first wall, leaped the dry ditch, mounted the second wall, and ran alone through the city, spreading terror, death, and fire, while Charlemagne, ignorant of his presence, was busied in the defence of one of the gates against Agramant.

Now Rinaldo's army approached, unsuspected by the heathen, because of the aid of Silence, summoned by Saint Michael. Through these, welcomed by Charlemagne, Rodomont cut his way, hewing down fifteen or twenty foes at once, and, casting himself into the Seine, escaped, angry that he had not succeeded in destroying the city.

« السابقةمتابعة »