Meet us on:
 
Entire Site
    Try our fun game

    Dueling book covers…may the best design win!

    Random Quote
    "We must be willing to get rid of the life we've planned, so as to have the life that is waiting for us."
     

    Subscribe to Our Newsletter

    Follow us on Twitter

    Never miss a good book again! Follow Read Print on Twitter

    Chapter 6

    • Rate it:
    Launch Reading Mode Next Chapter
    Chapter 6
    Previous Chapter
    CHAPTER VI.
    THE INVASION OF FRANCE.

    AGRAMANT, King of Africa, convoked the kings, his vassals, to
    deliberate in council. He reminded them of the injuries he had
    sustained from France, that his father had fallen in battle with
    Charlemagne, and that his early years had hitherto not allowed him
    to wipe out the stain of former defeats. He now proposed to them to
    carry war into France.
    Sobrino, his wisest councillor, opposed the project, representing
    the rashness of it; but Rodomont, the young and fiery king of Algiers,
    denounced Sobrino's counsel as base and cowardly, declaring himself
    impatient for the enterprise. The king of the Garamantes, venerable
    for his age and renowned for his prophetic lore, interposed, and
    assured the King that such an attempt would be sure to fail, unless he
    could first get on his side a youth marked out by destiny as the
    fitting compeer of the most puissant knights of France, the young
    Rogero, descended in direct line from Hector of Troy. This prince
    was now a dweller upon the mountain Carena, where Atlantes, his
    fosterfather, a powerful magician, kept him in retirement, having
    discovered by his art that his pupil would be lost to him if allowed
    to mingle with the world. To break the spells of Atlantes, and draw
    Rogero from his retirement, one only means was to be found. It was a
    ring possessed by Angelica, Princess of Cathay, which was a talisman
    against all enchantments. If this ring could be procured, all would go
    well; without it, the enterprise was desperate.
    Rodomont treated this declaration of the old prophet with scorn, and
    it would probably have been held of little weight by the council,
    had not the aged king, oppressed by the weight of years, expired in
    the very act of reaffirming his prediction. This made so deep an
    impression on the council, that it was unanimously resolved to
    postpone the war until an effort should be made to win Rogero to the
    camp.
    King Agramant thereupon proclaimed that the sovereignty of a kingdom
    should be the reward of whoever should succeed in obtaining the ring
    of Angelica. Brunello, the dwarf, the subtlest thief in all Africa,
    undertook to procure it.
    In prosecution of this design, he made the best of his way to
    Angelica's kingdom, and arrived beneath the walls of Albracca while
    the besieging army was encamped before the fortress. While the
    attention of the garrison was absorbed by the battle that raged below,
    he scaled the walls, approached the Princess unnoticed, slipped the
    ring from her finger, and escaped unobserved. He hastened to the
    seaside, and, finding a vessel ready to sail, embarked, and arrived at
    Biserta, in Africa. Here he found Agramant, impatient for the talisman
    which was to foil the enchantments of Atlantes and to put Rogero
    into his hands. The dwarf, kneeling before the King, presented him
    with the ring, and Agramant, delighted at the success of his
    mission, crowned him in recompense King of Tingitana.
    All were now anxious to go in quest of Rogero. The cavalcade
    accordingly departed, and in due time arrived at the mountain of
    Carena.
    At the bottom of this was a fruitful and well-wooded plain,
    watered by a large river, and from this plain was descried a beautiful
    garden on the mountain-top, which contained the mansion of Atlantes;
    but the ring, which discovered what was before invisible, could not,
    though it revealed this paradise, enable Agramant or his followers
    to enter it. So steep and smooth was the rock by nature, that even
    Brunello failed in every attempt to scale it. He did not, for this,
    despair of accomplishing the object; but, having obtained Agramant's
    consent, caused the assembled courtiers and knights to celebrate a
    tournament upon the plain below. This was done with the view of
    seducing Rogero from his fastness, and the stratagem was attended with
    success.
    Rogero joined the tourney, and was presented by Agramant with a
    splendid horse, Frontino, and a magnificent sword. Having learned from
    Agramant his intended invasion of France, he gladly consented to
    join the expedition.
    Rodomont, meanwhile, was too impatient to wait for Agramant's
    arrangements, and embarked with all the forces he could raise, made
    good his landing on the coast of France, and routed the Christians
    in several encounters. Previously to this, however, Gano, or Ganelon
    (as he is sometimes called), the traitor, enemy of Orlando and the
    other nephews of Charlemagne, had entered into a traitorous
    correspondence with Marsilius, the Saracen king of Spain, whom he
    invited into France. Marsilius, thus encouraged, led an army across
    the frontiers, and joined Rodomont. This was the situation of things
    when Rinaldo and the other knights who had obeyed the summons of Dudon
    set forward on their return to France.
    When they arrived at Buda in Hungary, they found the king of that
    country about despatching his son, Ottachiero, with an army to the
    succor of Charlemagne. Delighted with the arrival of Rinaldo, he
    placed his son and troops under his command. In due time the army
    arrived on the frontiers of France, and, united with the troops of
    Desiderius, king of Lombardy, poured down into Provence. The
    confederate armies had not marched many days through this gay tract,
    before they heard a crash of drums and trumpets behind the hills,
    which spoke the conflict between the paynims, led by Rodomont, and the
    Christian forces. Rinaldo, witnessing from a mountain the prowess of
    Rodomont, left his troops in charge of his friends, and galloped
    towards him with his lance in rest. The impulse was irresistible,
    and Rodomont was unhorsed. But Rinaldo, unwilling to avail himself
    of his advantage, galloped back to the hill, and having secured Bayard
    among the baggage, returned to finish the combat on foot.
    During this interval the battle had become general, the Hungarians
    were routed, and Rinaldo, on his return, had the mortification to find
    that Ottachiero was wounded, and Dudon taken prisoner. While he sought
    Rodomont in order to renew the combat, a new sound of drums and
    trumpets was heard, and Charlemagne, with, the main body of his
    army, was descried advancing in battle array.
    Rodomont, seeing this, mounted the horse of Dudon, left Rinaldo, who
    was on foot, and galloped off to encounter this new enemy.
    Agramant, accompanied by Rogero, had by this time made good his
    landing, and joined Rodomont with all his forces. Rogero eagerly
    embraced this first opportunity of distinguishing himself, and
    spread terror wherever he went, encountering in turn, and overthrowing
    many of the bravest knights of France. At length he found himself
    opposite to Rinaldo, who, being interrupted, as we have said, in his
    combat with Rodomont, and unable to follow him, being on foot, was
    shouting to his late foe to return and finish their combat. Rogero
    also was on foot, and seeing the Christian knight so eager for a
    contest, proffered himself to supply the place of his late antagonist.
    Rinaldo saw at a glance that the Moorish prince was a champion
    worthy of his arm, and gladly accepted the defiance. The combat was
    stoutly maintained for a time; but now fortune declared decisively
    in favor of the infidel army, and Charlemagne's forces gave way at all
    points in irreparable confusion. The two combatants were separated
    by the crowd of fugitives and pursuers, and Rinaldo hastened to
    recover possession of his horse. But Bayard, in the confusion, had got
    loose, and Rinaldo followed him into a thick wood, thus becoming
    effectually separated from Rogero.
    Rogero, also seeking his horse in the medley, came where two
    warriors were engaged in mortal combat. Though he knew not who they
    were, he could distinguish that one was a paynim and the other a
    Christian; and, moved by the spirit of courtesy, he approached them,
    and exclaimed, "Let him of the two who worships Christ pause, and hear
    what I have to say. The army of Charles is routed and in flight, so
    that if he wishes to follow his leader he has no time for delay."
    The Christian knight, who was none other than Bradamante, a female
    warrior, in prowess equal to the best of knights, was thunderstruck
    with the tidings, and would gladly leave the contest undecided, and
    retire from the field; but Rodomont, her antagonist, would by no means
    consent. Rogero, indignant at his discourtesy, insisted upon her
    departure, while he took up her quarrel with Rodomont.
    The combat, obstinately maintained on both sides, was interrupted by
    the return of Bradamante. Finding herself unable to overtake the
    fugitives, and reluctant to leave to another the burden and risk of
    a contest which belonged to herself, she had returned to reclaim the
    combat. She arrived, however, when her champion had dealt his enemy
    such a blow as obliged him to drop both his sword and bridle.
    Rogero, disdaining to profit by his adversary's defenceless situation,
    sat apart, upon his horse, while that of Rodomont bore his rider,
    stunned and stupefied, about the field.
    Bradamante approached Rogero, conceiving a yet higher opinion of his
    valor on beholding such an instance of forbearance. She addressed him,
    excusing herself for leaving him exposed to an enemy from his
    interference in her cause; pleading her duty to her sovereign as the
    motive. While she spoke, Rodomont, recovered from his confusion,
    rode up to them. His bearing was, however, changed; and he
    disclaimed all thoughts of further contest with one who, he said, "had
    already conquered him by his courtesy." So saying, he quitted his
    antagonist, picked up his sword, and spurred out of sight.
    Bradamante was now again desirous of retiring from the field, and
    Rogero insisted in accompanying her, though yet unaware of her sex.
    As they pursued their way, she inquired the name and quality of
    her new associate; and Rogero informed her of his nation and family.
    He told her that Astyanax, the son of Hector of Troy, established
    the kingdom of Messina in Sicily. From him were derived two
    branches, which gave origin to two families of renown. From one sprang
    the royal race of Pepin and Charlemagne, and from the other, that of
    Reggio, in Italy. "From that of Reggio am I derived," he continued.
    "My mother, driven from her home by the chance of war, died in
    giving me life, and I was taken in charge by a sage enchanter, who
    trained me to feats of arms amidst the dangers of the desert and the
    chase."
    Having thus ended his tale, Rogero entreated a similar return of
    courtesy from his companion, who replied, without disguise, that she
    was of the race of Clermont, and sister to Rinaldo, whose fame was
    perhaps known to him. Rogero, much moved by this intelligence,
    entreated her to take off her helmet, and, at the discovery of her
    face, remained transported with delight.
    While absorbed in this contemplation, an unexpected danger
    assailed them. A party which was placed in a wood, in order to
    intercept the retreating Christians, broke from its ambush upon the
    pair, and Bradamante, who was uncasqued, was wounded in the head.
    Rogero was in fury at this attack; and Bradamante, replacing her
    helmet, joined him in taking speedy vengeance on their enemies. They
    cleared the field of them, but became separated in the pursuit; and
    Rogero, quitting the chase, wandered by hill and vale in search of her
    whom he had no sooner found than lost.
    While pursuing this quest, be fell in with two knights, whom he
    joined, and engaged them to assist him in the search of his companion,
    describing her arms, but concealing, from a certain feeling of
    jealousy, her quality and sex.
    It was evening when their joined company, and having ridden together
    through the night, the morning was beginning to break, when one of the
    strangers, fixing his eyes upon Rogero's shield, demanded of him by
    what right he bore the Trojan arms. Rogero declared his origin and
    race, and then, in his turn, interrogated the inquirer as to his
    pretensions to the cognizance of Hector, which he bore. The stranger
    replied, "My name is Mandricardo, son of Agrican, the Tartar king,
    whom Orlando treacherously slew. I say treacherously, for in fair
    fight he could not have done it. It is in search of him that I have
    come to France, to take vengeance for my father, and to wrest from him
    Durindana, that famous sword, which belongs to me, and not to him."
    When the knights demanded to know by what right he claimed
    Durindana, Mandricardo thus related his history:-
    "I had been, before the death of my father, a wild and reckless
    youth. That event awakened my energies, and drove me forth to seek for
    vengeance. Determined to owe success to nothing but my own
    exertions, I departed without attendants or horse or arms.
    Travelling thus alone, and on foot, I espied one day a pavilion,
    pitched near a fountain, and entered it, intent on adventure. I
    found therein a damsel of gracious aspect, who replied to my
    inquiries, that the fountain was the work of a fairy, whose castle
    stood beyond a neighboring hill, where she kept watch over a
    treasure which many knights had tried to win, but fruitlessly,
    having lost their life or liberty in the attempt. This treasure was,
    the armor of Hector, prince of Troy, whom Achilles treacherously slew.
    Nothing was wanting but his sword Durindana, and this had fallen
    into the possession of a queen named Penthesilea, from whom it
    passed through her descendants to Almontes, whom Orlando slew, and
    thus became possessed of the sword. The rest of Hector's arms were
    saved and carried off by AEneas, from whom this fairy received them in
    recompense of service rendered. 'If you have the courage to attempt
    their acquisition,' said the damsel, 'I will be your guide.'"
    Mandricardo went on to say that he eagerly embraced the proposal,
    and being provided with horse and armor by the damsel, set forth on
    his enterprise, the lady accompanying him.
    As they rode, she explained the dangers of the quest. The armor
    was defended by a champion, one of the numerous unsuccessful
    adventurers for the prize, all of whom had been made prisoners by
    the fairy and compelled to take their turn, day by day, in defending
    the arms against all comers. Thus speaking they arrived at the castle,
    which was of alabaster, overlaid with gold. Before it, on a lawn,
    sat an armed knight on horseback, who was none other than Gradasso,
    king of Sericane, who, in his return home from his unsuccessful inroad
    into France, had fallen into the power of the fairy, and was held to
    do her bidding. Mandricardo, upon seeing him, dropt his visor, and
    laid his lance in rest. The champion of the castle was equally
    ready, and each spurred towards his opponent. They met one another
    with equal force, splintered their spears, and, returning to the
    charge, encountered with their swords. The contest was long and
    doubtful, when Mandricardo, determined to bring it to an end, threw
    his arms about Gradasso, grappled with him, and both fell to the
    ground. Mandricardo, however, fell uppermost, and, preserving his
    advantage, compelled Gradasso to yield himself conquered. The damsel
    now interfered, congratulating the victor, and consoling the
    vanquished as well as she might.
    Mandricardo and the damsel proceeded to the gate of the castle,
    which they found undefended. As they entered, they beheld a shield
    suspended from a pilaster of gold. The device was a white eagle on
    an azure field, in memory of the bird of Jove, which bore away
    Ganymede, the flower of the Phrygian race. Beneath was engraved the
    following couplet:-

    "Let none with hand profane my buckler wrong
    Unless he be himself as Hector strong."

    The damsel, alighting from her palfrey, made obeisance to the
    arms, bending herself to the ground. The Tartar king bowed his head
    with equal reverence; then advancing towards the shield, touched it
    with his sword. Thereupon an earthquake shook the ground, and the
    way by which he had entered closed. Another and an opposite gate
    opened, and displayed a field bristling with stalks and grain of gold.
    The damsel, upon this, told him that he had no means of retreat but by
    cutting down the harvest which was before him, and by uprooting a tree
    which grew in the middle of the field. Mandricardo, without
    replying, began to mow the harvest with his sword, but had scarce
    smitten thrice when he perceived that every stalk that fell was
    instantly transformed into some poisonous or ravenous animal, which
    prepared to assail him. Instructed by the damsel, he snatched up a
    stone and cast it among the pack, A strange wonder followed; for no
    sooner had the stone fallen among the beasts, than they turned their
    rage against one another, and rent each other to pieces. Mandricardo
    did not stop to marvel at the miracle, but proceeded to fulfil his
    task, and uproot the tree. He clasped it round the trunk, and made
    vigorous efforts to tear it up by the roots. At each effort fell a
    shower of leaves, that were instantly changed into birds of prey,
    which attacked the knight, flapping their wings in his face, with
    horrid screeching. But undismayed by this new annoyance, he
    continued to tug at the trunk till it yielded to his efforts. A
    burst of wind and thunder followed, and the hawks and vultures flew
    screaming away.
    But these only gave place to a new foe; for from the hole made by
    tearing up the tree issued a furious serpent, and, darting at
    Mandricardo, wound herself about his limbs with a strain that almost
    crushed him. Fortune, however, again stood his friend, for, writhing
    under the folds of the monster, he fell backwards into the hole, and
    his enemy was crushed beneath his weight.
    Mandricardo, when he was somewhat recovered, and assured himself
    of the destruction of the serpent, began to contemplate the place into
    which he had fallen, and saw that he was in a vault, incrusted with
    costly metals, and illuminated by a live coal. In the middle was a
    sort of ivory bier, and upon this was extended what appeared to be a
    knight in armor, but was in truth an empty trophy, composed of the
    rich and precious arms once Hector's, to which nothing was wanting but
    the sword. While Mandricardo stood contemplating the prize, a door
    opened behind him, and a bevy of fair damsels entered, dancing, who,
    taking up the armor, piece by piece, led him away to the place where
    the shield was suspended; where he found the fairy of the castle
    seated in state. By her he was invested with the arms he had won,
    first pledging his solemn oath to wear no other blade but Durindana,
    which he was to wrest from Orlando, and thus complete the conquest
    of Hector's arms.

    Next Chapter
    Chapter 6
    Previous Chapter
    If you're writing a Thomas Bulfinch essay and need some advice, post your Thomas Bulfinch essay question on our Facebook page where fellow bookworms are always glad to help!

    Top 5 Authors

    Top 5 Books

    Book Status
    Finished
    Want to read
    Abandoned

    Are you sure you want to leave this group?