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    Chapter 11

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    Chapter 11
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    CHAPTER XI.
    ASTOLPHO'S ADVENTURES CONTINUED, AND ISABELLA'S BEGUN.

    WHEN Astolpho escaped from the cruel Alcina, after a short abode
    in the realm of the virtuous Logestilla, he desired to return to his
    native country. Logestilla lent him the best vessel of her fleet to
    convey him to the mainland. She gave him at parting a wonderful
    book, which taught the secret of overcoming all manner of
    enchantments, and begged him to carry it always with him, out of
    regard for her. She also gave him another gift, which surpassed
    everything of the kind that mortal workmanship can frame; yet it was
    nothing in appearance but a simple horn.
    Astolpho, protected by these gifts, thanked the good fairy, took
    leave of her, and set out on his return to France. His voyage was
    prosperous, and on reaching the desired port he took leave of the
    faithful mariners, and continued his journey by land. As he
    proceeded over mountains and through valleys, he often met with
    bands of robbers, wild beasts, and venomous serpents, but he had
    only to sound his horn to put them all to flight.
    Having landed in France, and traversed many provinces on his way
    to the army, he one day, in crossing a forest, arrived beside a
    fountain, and alighted to drink. While he stooped at the fountain, a
    young rustic sprang from the copse, mounted Rabican, and rode away. It
    was a new trick of the enchanter Atlantes. Astolpho, hearing the
    noise, turned his head just in time to see his loss; and, starting up,
    pursued the thief, who, on his part, did not press the horse to his
    full speed, but just kept in sight of his pursuer till they both
    issued from the forest; and then Rabican and his rider took shelter in
    a castle which stood near. Astolpho followed, and penetrated without
    difficulty within the court-yard of the castle, where he looked around
    for the rider and his horse, but could see no trace of either, nor any
    person of whom he could make inquiry. Suspecting that enchantment
    was employed to embarrass him, he bethought him of his book, and on
    consulting it discovered that his suspicions were well founded. He
    also learned what course to pursue. He was directed to raise the stone
    which served as a threshold, under which a spirit lay pent, who
    would willingly escape, and leave the castle free of access.
    Astolpho applied his strength to lift aside the stone. Thereupon the
    magician put his arts in force. The castle was full of prisoners,
    and the magician caused that to all of them Astolpho should appear
    in some false guise,- to some a wild beast, to others a giant, to
    others a bird of prey. Thus all assailed him, and would quickly have
    made an end of him, if he had not bethought him of his horn. No sooner
    had he blown a blast than, at the horrid alarm, fled the cavaliers and
    the necromancer with them, like a flock of pigeons at the sound of the
    fowler's gun. Astolpho then renewed his efforts on the stone, and
    turned it over. The under face was all inscribed with magical
    characters, which the knight defaced, as directed by his book; and
    no sooner had he done so, than the castle, with its walls and turrets,
    vanished into smoke.
    The knights and ladies set at liberty were, besides Rogero and
    Bradamante, Orlando, Gradasso, Florismart, and many more. At the sound
    of the horn they fled, one and all, men and steeds, except Rabican,
    which Astolpho secured, in spite of his terror. As soon as the sound
    had ceased, Rogero recognized Bradamante, whom he had daily met during
    their imprisonment, but had been prevented from knowing by the
    enchanter's arts. No words can tell the delight with which they
    recognized each other, and recounted mutually all that had happened to
    each since they were parted. Rogero took advantage of the
    opportunity to press his suit, and found Bradamante as propitious as
    he could wish, were it not for a single obstacle, the difference of
    their faiths. "If he would obtain her in marriage," she said, "he must
    in due form demand her of her father, Duke Aymon, and must abandon his
    false prophet, and become a Christian." The latter step was one
    which Rogero had for some time intended taking, for reasons of his
    own. He therefore gladly accepted the terms, and proposed that they
    should at once repair to the abbey of Vallombrosa, whose towers were
    visible at no great distance. Thither they turned their horses' heads,
    and we will leave them to find their way without our company.
    I know not if my readers recollect that, at the moment when Rogero
    had just delivered Angelica from the voracious Orc, that scornful
    beauty placed her ring in her mouth, and vanished out of sight. At the
    same time the Hippogriff shook off his bridle, soared, away, and
    flew to rejoin his former master, very naturally returning to his
    accustomed stable. Here Astolpho found him, to his very great delight.
    He knew the animal's powers, having seen Rogero ride him, and he
    longed to fly abroad over all the earth, and see various nations and
    peoples from his airy course. He had heard Logestilla's directions how
    to guide the animal, and saw her fit a bridle to his head. He
    therefore was able, out of all the bridles he found in the stable,
    to select one suitable, and, placing Rabican's saddle on the
    Hippogriff's back, nothing seemed to prevent his immediate
    departure. Yet before he went, he bethought him of placing Rabican
    in hands where he would be safe, and whence he might recover him in
    time of need. While he stood deliberating where he should find a
    messenger, he saw Bradamante approach. That fair warrior had been
    parted from Rogero on their way to the abbey of Vallombrosa, by an
    inopportune adventure which had called the knight away. She was now
    returning to Montalban, having arranged with Rogero to join her there.
    To Bradamante, therefore, his fair cousin, Astolpho committed Rabican,
    and also the lance of gold, which would only be an encumbrance in
    his aerial excursion. Bradamante took charge of both; and Astolpho,
    bidding her farewell, soared in air.

    Among those delivered by Astolpho from the magician's castle was
    Orlando. Following the guide of chance, the paladin found himself at
    the close of day in a forest, and stopped at the foot of a mountain.
    Surprised to discern a light which came from a cleft in the rock, he
    approached, guided by the ray, and discovered a narrow passage in
    the mountain-side, which led into a deep grotto.
    Orlando fastened his horse, and then, putting aside the bushes
    that resisted his passage, stepped down from rock to rock till he
    reached a sort of cavern. Entering it, he perceived a lady, young
    and handsome, as well as he could discover through the signs of
    distress which agitated her countenance. Her only companion was an old
    woman, who seemed to be regarded by her young partner with terror
    and indignation; The courteous paladin saluted the women respectfully,
    and begged to know by whose barbarity they had been subjected to
    such imprisonment.
    The younger lady replied, in a voice often broken with sobs:-
    "Though I know well that my recital will subject me to worse
    treatment by the barbarious man who keeps me here, to whom this
    woman will not fail to report it, yet I will not hide from you the
    facts. Ah! why should I fear his rage? If he should take my life, I
    know not what better boon than death I can ask.
    "My name is Isabella. I am the daughter of the king of Galicia, or
    rather I should say misfortune and grief are my parents. Young,
    rich, modest, and of tranquil temper, all things appeared to combine
    to render my lot happy. Alas! I see myself to-day poor, humbled,
    miserable, and destined perhaps to yet further afflictions. It is a
    year since, my father having given notice that he would open the lists
    for a tournament at Bayonne, a great number of chevaliers from all
    quarters came together at our court. Among these, Zerbino, son of
    the king of Scotland, victorious in all combats, eclipsed by his
    beauty and his valor all the rest. Before departing from the court
    of Galicia he testified the wish to espouse me, and I consented that
    he should demand my hand of the king, my father. But I was a
    Mahometan, and Zerbino a Christian, and my father refused his consent.
    The prince, called home by his father to take command of the forces
    destined to the assistance of the French Emperor, prevailed on me to
    be married to him secretly, and to follow him to Scotland. He caused a
    galley to be prepared to receive me, and placed in command of it the
    chevalier Oderic, a Biscayan, famous for his exploits both by land and
    sea. On the day appointed, Oderic brought his vessel to a sea-side
    resort of my father's, where I embarked. Some of my domestics
    accompanied me, and thus I departed from my native land.
    "Sailing with a fair wind, after some hours we were assailed by a
    violent tempest. It was to no purpose that we took in all sail; we
    were driven before the wind directly upon the rocky shore. Seeing no
    other hopes of safety, Oderic placed me in a boat, followed himself
    with a few of his men, and made for land. We reached it through
    infinite peril, and I no sooner felt the firm land beneath my feet,
    than I knelt down and poured out heart-felt thanks to the Providence
    that had preserved me.
    "The shore where we landed appeared to be uninhabited. We saw no
    dwelling to shelter us, no road to lead us to a more hospitable
    spot. A high mountain rose before us, whose base stretched into the
    sea. It was here the infamous Oderic, in spite of my tears and
    entreaties, sold me to a band of pirates, who fancied I might be an
    acceptable present to their prince, the Sultan of Morocco. This cavern
    is their den, and here they keep me under the guard of this woman,
    until it shall suit their convenience to carry me away."
    Isabella had hardly finished her recital, when a troop of armed
    men began to enter the cavern. Seeing the prince Orlando, one said
    to the rest, "What bird is this we have caught, without even setting a
    snare for him?" Then addressing Orlando, "It was truly civil in you,
    friend, to come hither with that handsome coat of armor and vest,
    the very things I want." "You shall pay for them, then," said Orlando;
    and, seizing a half-burnt brand from the fire, he hurled it at him,
    striking his head, and stretching him lifeless on the floor.
    There was a massy table in the middle of the cavern, used for the
    pirates' repasts. Orlando lifted it and hurled it at the robbers as
    they stood clustered in a group towards the entrance. Half the gang
    were laid prostrate, with broken heads and limbs; the rest got away as
    nimbly as they could.
    Leaving the den and its inmates to their fate, Orlando, taking
    Isabella under his protection, pursued his way, for some days, without
    meeting with any adventure.
    One day they saw a band of men advancing, who seemed to be
    guarding a prisoner, bound hand and foot, as if being carried to
    execution. The prisoner was a youthful cavalier, of a noble and
    ingenuous appearance. The band bore the ensigns of Count Anselm,
    head of the treacherous house of Maganza. Orlando desired Isabella
    to wait, while he rode forward to inquire the meaning of this array.
    Approaching, he demanded of the leader who his prisoner was, and of
    what crime he had been guilty. The man replied, that the prisoner
    was a murderer, by whose hand Pinabel, the son of Count Anselm, had
    been treacherously slain. At these words, the prisoner exclaimed, "I
    am no murderer, nor have I been in any way the cause of the young
    man's death." Orlando, knowing the cruel and ferocious character of
    the chiefs of the house of Maganza, needed no more to satisfy him that
    the youth was the victim of injustice. He commanded the leader of
    the troop to release his victim, and, receiving an insolent reply,
    dashed him to the earth with a stroke of his lance; then, by a few
    vigorous blows, dispersed the band, leaving deadly marks on those
    who were slowest to quit the field.
    Orlando then hastened to unbind the prisoner, and to assist him to
    reclothe himself in his armor, which the false Magencian had dared
    to assume. He then led him to Isabella, who now approached the scene
    of action. How can we picture the joy, the astonishment, with which
    Isabella recognized in him Zerbino, her husband, and the prince
    discovered her whom he had believed overwhelmed in the waves! They
    embraced one another, and wept for joy. Orlando, sharing in their
    happiness, congratulated himself in having been the instrument of
    it. The princess recounted to Zerbino what the illustrious paladin had
    done for her, and the prince threw himself at Orlando's feet, and
    thanked him as having twice preserved his life.
    While these exchanges of congratulation and thankfulness were
    going on, a sound in the underwood attracted their attention, and
    caused the two knights to brace their helmets and stand on their
    guard. What the cause of the interruption was, we shall record in
    another chapter.

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