Some knights in his train perceived at a distance the two
brothers-in-arms. Cloridan saw the troop, and, observing that they
dispersed themselves over the plain as if in search of booty, told
Medoro to lay down the body, and let each save himself by flight.
He dropped his part, thinking that Medoro would do the same; but
the good youth loved his prince too well to abandon him, and
continued to carry his load singly as well as he might, while
Cloridan made his escape. Near by there was a part of the wood
tufted as if nothing but wild animals had ever penetrated it. The
unfortunate youth, loaded with the weight of his dead master,
plunged into its recesses.
Cloridan, when he perceived that he had evaded his foes,
discovered that Medoro was not with him. "Ah!" exclaimed he, "how
could I, dear Medoro, so forget myself as to consult my own safety
without heeding yours?" So saying, he retraced the tangled passes
of the wood toward the place from whence he had fled. As he
approached he heard the noise of horses, and the menacing voices
of armed men. Soon he perceived Medoro, on foot, with the
cavaliers surrounding him. Zerbino, their commander, bade them
seize him. The unhappy Medoro turned now this way, now that,
trying to conceal himself behind an oak or a rock, still bearing
the body, which he would by no means leave. Cloridan not knowing
how to help him, but resolved to perish with him, if he must
perish, takes an arrow, fits it to his bow, discharges it, and
pierces the breast of a Christian knight, who falls helpless from
his horse. The others look this way and that, to discover whence
the fatal bolt was sped. One, while demanding of his comrades in
what direction the arrow came, received a second in his throat,
which stopped his words, and soon closed his eyes to the scene.
Zerbino, furious at the death of his two comrades, ran upon
Medoro, seized his golden hair, and dragged him forward to slay
him. But the sight of so much youth and beauty commanded pity. He
stayed his arm. The young man spoke in suppliant tones. "Ah!
signor," said he, "I conjure you by the God whom you serve,
deprive me not of life until I shall have buried the body of the
prince, my master. Fear not that I will ask you any other favor;
life is not dear to me; I desire death as soon as I shall have
performed this sacred duty. Do with me then as you please. Give my
limbs a prey to the birds and beasts; only let me first bury my
prince." Medoro pronounced these words with an air so sweet and
tender that a heart of stone would have been moved by them.
Zerbino was so to the bottom of his soul. He was on the point of
uttering words of mercy, when a cruel subaltern, forgetting all
respect to his commander, plunged his lance into the breast of the
young Moor. Zerbino, enraged at his brutality, turned upon the
wretch to take vengeance, but he saved himself by a precipitate
Cloridan, who saw Medoro fall, could contain himself no longer. He
rushed from his concealment, threw down his bow, and, sword in
hand, seemed only desirous of vengeance for Medoro, and to die
with him. In a moment, pierced through and through with many
wounds, he exerts the last remnant of his strength in dragging
himself to Medoro, to die embracing him. The cavaliers left them
thus to rejoin Zerbino, whose rage against the murderer of Medoro
had drawn him away from the spot.
Cloridan died; and Medoro, bleeding copiously, was drawing near
his end when help arrived.
A young maiden approached the fallen knights at this critical
moment. Her dress was that of a peasant-girl, but her air was
noble, and her beauty celestial; sweetness and goodness reigned in
her lovely countenance. It was no other than Angelica, the
Princess of Cathay.
When she had recovered that precious ring, as we have before
related, Angelica, knowing its value, felt proud in the power it
conferred, travelled alone without fear, not without a secret
shame that she had ever been obliged to seek protection in her
wanderings of the Count Orlando and of Sacripant. She reproached
herself too as with a weakness that she had ever thought of
marrying Rinaldo; in fine, her pride grew so high as to persuade
her that no man living was worthy to aspire to her hand.
Moved with pity at the sight of the young man wounded, and melted
to tears at hearing the cause, she quickly recalled to remembrance
the knowledge she had acquired in India, where the virtues of
plants and the art of healing formed part of the education even of
princesses. The beautiful queen ran into the adjoining meadow to
gather plants of virtue to staunch the flow of blood. Meeting on
her way a countryman on horseback seeking a strayed heifer, she
begged him to come to her assistance, and endeavor to remove the
wounded man to a more secure asylum.
Angelica, having prepared the plants by bruising them between two
stones, laid them with her fair hand on Medoro's wound. The remedy
soon restored in some degree the strength of the wounded man, who,
before he would quit the spot, made them cover with earth and turf
the bodies of his friend and of the prince. Then surrendering
himself to the pity of his deliverers, he allowed them to place
him on the horse of the shepherd, and conduct him to his cottage.
It was a pleasant farmhouse on the borders of the wood, bearing
marks of comfort and competency. There the shepherd lived with his
wife and children. There Angelica tended Medoro, and there, by the
devoted care of the beautiful queen, his sad wound closed over,
and he recovered his perfect health.
O Count Rinaldo, O King Sacripant! what availed it you to possess
so many virtues and such fame? What advantage have you derived
from all your high deserts? O hapless king, great Agrican! if you
could return to life, how would you endure to see yourself
rejected by one who will bow to the yoke of Hymen in favor of a
young soldier of humble birth? And thou, Ferrau, and ye numerous
others who a hundred times have put your lives at hazard for this
cruel beauty, how bitter will it be to you to see her sacrifice
you all to the claims of the humble Medoro!
There, under the low roof of a shepherd, the flame of Hymen was
lighted for this haughty queen. She takes the shepherd's wife to
serve in place of mother, the shepherd and his children for
witnesses, and marries the happy Medoro.
Angelica, after her marriage, wishing to endow Medoro with the
sovereignty of the countries which yet remained to her, took with
him the road to the East. She had preserved through all her
adventures a bracelet of gold enriched with precious stones, the
present of the Count Orlando. Having nothing else wherewith to
reward the good shepherd and his wife, who had served her with so
much care and fidelity, she took the bracelet from her arm and
gave it to them, and then the newly-married couple directed their
steps toward those mountains which separate France and Spain,
intending to wait at Barcelona a vessel which should take them on
their way to the East.
Orlando, on the loss of Angelica, laid aside his crest and arms,
and arrayed himself in a suit of black armor expressive of his
despair. In this guise he carried such slaughter among the ranks
of the infidels that both armies were astonished at the
achievements of the stranger knight. Mandricardo, who had been
absent from the battle, heard the report of these achievements and
determined to test for himself the valor of the knight so
extolled. He it was who broke in upon the conference of Zerbino
and Isabella, and their benefactor Orlando, as they stood occupied
in mutual felicitations, after the happy reunion of the lovers by
the prowess of the paladin.
Mandricardo, after contemplating the group for a moment, addressed
himself to Orlando in these words: "Thou must be the man I seek.
For ten days and more I have been on thy track. The fame of thy
exploits has brought me hither, that I may measure my strength
with thine. Thy crest and shield prove thee the same who spread
such slaughter among our troops. But these marks are superfluous,
and if I saw thee among a hundred I should know thee by thy
martial bearing to be the man I seek."
"I respect thy courage," said Orlando; "such a design could not
have sprung up in any but a brave and generous soul. If the desire
to see me has brought thee hither, I would, if it were possible,
show thee my inmost soul. I will remove my visor, that you may
satisfy your curiosity; but when you have done so I hope that you
will also try and see if my valor corresponds to my appearance."
"Come on," said the Saracen, "my first wish was to see and know
thee; I will not gratify my second."
Orlando, observing Mandricardo was surprised to see no sword at
his side, nor mace at his saddle-bow. "And what weapon hast thou,"
said he, "if thy lance fail thee?"
"Do not concern yourself about that," said Mandricardo; "I have
made many good knights give ground with no other weapon than you
see. Know that I have sworn an oath never to bear a sword until I
win back that famous Durindana that Orlando, the paladin, carries.
That sword belongs to the suit of armor which I wear; that only is
wanting. Without doubt it was stolen, but how it got into the
hands of Orlando I know not. But I will make him pay dearly for it
when I find him I seek him the more anxiously that I may avenge
with his blood the death of King Agrican, my father, whom he
treacherously slew. I am sure he must have done it by treachery,
for it was not in his power to subdue in fair fight such a warrior
as my father."
"Thou liest," cried Orlando; "and all who say so lie. I am
Orlando, whom you seek; yes, I am he who slew your father
honorably. Hold, here is the sword: you shall have it if your
courage avails to merit it. Though it belongs to me by right, I
will not use it in this dispute. See, I hang it on this tree; you
shall be master of it, if you bereave me of life; not else."
At these words Orlando drew Durindana, and hung it on one of the
branches of a tree near by.
Both knights, boiling with equal ardor, rode off in a semicircle;
then rushed together with reins thrown loose, and struck one
another with their lances. Both kept their seats, immovable. The
splinters of their lances flew into the air, and no weapon
remained for either but the fragment which he held in his hand.
Then those two knights, covered with iron mail, were reduced to
the necessity of fighting with staves, in the manner of two
rustics, who dispute the boundary of a meadow, or the possession
of a spring.
These clubs could not long keep whole in the hands of such sturdy
smiters, who were soon reduced to fight with naked fists. Such
warfare was more painful to him that gave than to him that
received the blows. They next clasped, and strained each his
adversary, as Hercules did Antaeus. Mandricardo, more enraged than
Orlando, made violent efforts to unseat the paladin, and dropped
the rein of his horse. Orlando, more calm, perceived it. With one
hand he resisted Mandricardo, with the other he twitched the
horse's bridle over the ears of the animal. The Saracen dragged
Orlando with all his might, but Orlando's thighs held the saddle
like a vise. At last the efforts of the Saracen broke the girths
of Orlando's horse; the saddle slipped; the knight, firm in his
stirrups, slipped with it, and came to the ground hardly conscious
of his fall. The noise of his armor in falling startled
Mandricardo's horse, now without a bridle. He started off in full
career, heeding neither trees nor rocks nor broken ground. Urged
by fright, he ran with furious speed, carrying his master, who,
almost distracted with rage, shouted and beat the animal with his
fists, and thereby impelled his flight. After running thus three
miles or more, a deep ditch opposed their progress. The horse and
rider fell headlong into it, and did not find the bottom covered
with feather-beds or roses. They got sadly bruised; but were lucky
enough to escape without any broken limbs.
Mandricardo, as soon as he gained his feet, seized the horse by
his mane with fury; but, having no bridle, could not hold him. He
looked round in hopes of finding something that would do for a
rein. Just then fortune, who seemed willing to help him at last,
brought that way a peasant with a bridle in his hand, who was in
search of his farm horse that had strayed away.
Orlando, having speedily repaired his horse's girths, remounted,
and waited a good hour for the Saracen to return. Not seeing him,
he concluded to go in search of him. He took an affectionate leave
of Zerbino and Isabella, who would willingly have followed him;
but this the brave paladin would by no means permit. He held it
unknightly to go in search of an enemy accompanied by a friend,
who might act as a defender. Therefore, desiring them to say to
Mandricardo, if they should meet him, that his purpose was to
tarry in the neighborhood three days, and then repair to the camp
of Charlemagne, he took down Durindana from the tree, and
proceeded in the direction which the Saracen's horse had taken.
But the animal, having no guide but its terror, had so doubled and
confused its traces that Orlando, after two days spent in the
search, gave up the attempt.
It was about the middle of the third day when the paladin arrived
on the pleasant bank of a stream which wound through a meadow
enamelled with flowers. High trees, whose tops met and formed an
arbor, over-shadowed the fountain; and the breeze which blew
through their foliage tempered the heat. Hither the shepherds used
to resort to quench their thirst, and to enjoy the shelter from
the midday sun. The air, perfumed with the flowers, seemed to
breathe fresh strength into their veins. Orlando felt the
influence, though covered with his armor. He stopped in this
delicious arbor, where everything seemed to invite to repose. But
he could not have chosen a more fatal asylum. He there spent the
most miserable moments of his life.
He looked around, and noted with pleasure all the charms of the
spot. He saw that some of the trees were carved with inscriptions
- he drew near, and read them, and what was his surprise to find
that they composed the name of Angelica! Farther on he found the
name of Medoro mixed with hers. The paladin thought he dreamed. He
stood like one amazed - like a bird that, rising to fly, finds its
feet caught in a net.
Orlando followed the course of the stream, and came to one of its
turns where the rocks of the mountain bent in such a way as to
form a sort of grotto. The twisted stems of ivy and the wild vine
draped the entrance of this recess, scooped by the hand of nature.
The unhappy paladin, on entering the grotto, saw letters which
appeared to have been lately carved. They were verses which Medoro
had written in honor of his happy nuptials with the beautiful
queen. Orlando tried to persuade himself it must be some other
Angelica whom those verses celebrated, and as for Medoro, he had
never heard his name. The sun was now declining, and Orlando
remounted his horse, and went on his way. He soon saw the roof of
a cottage whence the smoke ascended; he heard the barking of dogs
and the lowing of cattle, and arrived at a humble dwelling which
seemed to offer an asylum for the night. The inmates, as soon as
they saw him, hastened to tender him service. One took his horse,
another his shield and cuirass, another his golden spurs. This
cottage was the very same where Medoro had been carried, deeply
wounded, - where Angelica had tended him, and afterwards married
him. The shepherd who lived in it loved to tell everybody the
story of this marriage, and soon related it, with all its details,
to the miserable Orlando.
Having finished it, he went away, and returned with the precious
bracelet which Angelica, grateful for his services, had given him
as a memorial. It was the one which Orlando had himself given her.
This last touch was the finishing stroke to the excited paladin.
Frantic, exasperated, he exclaimed against the ungrateful and
cruel princess who had disdained him, the most renowned, the most
indomitable of all the paladins of France, - him, who had rescued
her from the most alarming perils, - him, who had fought the most
terrible battles for her sake, - she to prefer to him a young
Saracen! The pride of the noble Count was deeply wounded.
Indignant, frantic, a victim to ungovernable rage, he rushed into
the forest, uttering the most frightful shrieks.
"No, no!" cried he, "I am not the man they take me for! Orlando is
dead! I am only the wandering ghost of that unhappy Count, who is
now suffering the torments of hell!"
Orlando wandered all night, as chance directed, through the wood,
and at sunrise his destiny led him to the fountain where Medoro
had engraved the fatal inscription. The frantic paladin saw it a
second time with fury, drew his sword, and hacked it from the
Unlucky grotto! you shall no more attract by your shade and
coolness, you shall no more shelter with your arch either shepherd
or flock. And you, fresh and pure fountain, you may not escape the
rage of the furious Orlando! He cast into the fountain branches,
trunks of trees which he tore up, pieces of rocks which he broke
off, plants uprooted, with the earth adhering, and turf and
brushes, so as to choke the fountain, and destroy the purity of
its waters. At length, exhausted by his violent exertions, bathed
in sweat, breathless, Orlando sunk panting upon the earth, and lay
there insensible three days and three nights.
The fourth day he started up and seized his arms. His helmet, his
buckler, he cast far from him; his hauberk and his clothes he rent
asunder; the fragments were scattered through the wood. In fine,
he became a furious madman. His insanity was such that he cared
not to retain even his sword. But he had no need of Durindana, nor
of other arms, to do wonderful things. His prodigious strength
sufficed. At the first wrench of his mighty arm he tore up a pine-
tree by the roots. Oaks, beeches, maples, whatever he met in his
path, yielded in like manner. The ancient forest soon became as
bare as the borders of a morass, where the fowler has cleared away
the bushes to spread his nets. The shepherds, hearing the horrible
crashing in the forest, abandoned their flocks to run and see the
cause of this unwonted uproar. By their evil star, or for their
sins, they were led thither. When they saw the furious state the
Count was in, and his incredible force, they would fain have fled
out of his reach, but in their fears lost their presence of mind.
The madman pursued them, seized one and rent him limb from limb,
as easily as one would pull ripe apples from a tree. He took
another by the feet, and used him as a club to knock down a third.
The shepherds fled; but it would have been hard for any to escape,
if he had not at that moment left them to throw himself with the
same fury upon their flocks. The peasants, abandoning their
ploughs and harrows, mounted on the roofs of buildings and
pinnacles of the rocks, afraid to trust themselves even to the
oaks and pines. From such heights they looked on, trembling at the
raging fury of the unhappy Orlando. His fists, his teeth, his
nails, his feet, seize, break, and tear cattle, sheep, and swine;
the most swift in flight alone being able to escape him.
When at last terror had scattered everything before him, he
entered a cottage which was abandoned by its inhabitants, and
there found that which served for food. His long fast had caused
him to feel the most ravenous hunger. Seizing whatever he found
that was eatable, whether roots, acorns, or bread, raw meat or
cooked, he gorged it indiscriminately.
Issuing thence again, the frantic Orlando gave chase to whatever
living thing he saw, whether men or animals. Sometimes he pursued
the deer and hind, sometimes he attacked bears and wolves, and
with his naked hands killed and tore them, and devoured their
Thus he wandered, from place to place, through France, imperilling
his life a thousand ways, yet always preserved by some mysterious
providence from a fatal result. But here we leave Orlando for a
time, that we may record what befell Zerbino and Isabella after
their parting with him.
The prince and his fair bride waited, by Orlando's request, near
the scene of the battle for three days, that, if Mandricardo
should return, they might inform him where Orlando would give him
another meeting. At the end of that time their anxiety to know the
issue led them to follow Orlando's traces, which led them at last
to the wood where the trees were inscribed with the names of
Angelica and Medoro. They remarked how all these inscriptions were
defaced, and how the grotto was disordered, and the fountain
clogged with rubbish. But that which surprised them and distressed
them most of all was to find on the grass the cuirass of Orlando,
and not far from it his helmet, the same which the renowned
Almontes once wore.
Hearing a horse neigh in the forest, Zerbino turned his eyes in
that direction, and saw Brigliadoro, with the bridle yet hanging
at the saddle-bow. He looked round for Durindana, and found that
famous sword, without the scabbard, lying on the grass. He saw
also the fragments of Orlando's other arms and clothing scattered
on all sides over the plain.
Zerbino and Isabella stood in astonishment and grief, not knowing
what to think, but little imagining the true cause. If they had
found any marks of blood on the arms or on the fragments of the
clothing, they would have supposed him slain, but there were none.
While they were in this painful uncertainty they saw a young
peasant approach. He, not yet recovered from the terror of the
scene, which he had witnessed from the top of a rock, told them
the whole of the sad events.
Zerbino, with his eyes full of tears, carefully collected all the
scattered arms. Isabella also dismounted to aid him in the sad
duty. When they had collected all the pieces of that rich armor
they hung them like a trophy on a pine; and to prevent their being
violated by any passers-by, Zerbino inscribed on the bark this
caution: "These are the arms of the Paladin Orlando."
Having finished this pious work, he remounted his horse, and just
then a knight rode up, and requested Zerbino to tell him the
meaning of the trophy. The prince related the facts as they had
happened; and Mandricardo, for it was that Saracen knight, full of
joy, rushed forward, and seized the sword, saying, "No one can
censure me for what I do; this sword is mine; I can take my own
wherever I find it. It is plain that Orlando, not daring to defend
it against me, has counterfeited madness to excuse him in
Zerbino vehemently exclaimed, "Touch not that sword. Think not to
possess it without a contest. If it be true that the arms you wear
are those of Hector, you must have got them by theft, and not by
Immediately they attacked one another with the utmost fury. The
air resounded with thick-falling blows. Zerbino, skilful and
alert, evaded for a time with good success the strokes of
Durindana; but at length a terrible blow struck him on the neck.
He fell from his horse, and the Tartar king, possessed of the
spoils of his victory, rode away.
ZERBINO AND ISABELLA
Zerbino's pain at seeing the Tartar prince go off with the sword
surpassed the anguish of his wound; but now the loss of blood so
reduced his strength that he could not move from where he fell.
Isabella, not knowing whither to resort for help, could only
bemoan him, and chide her cruel fate. Zerbino said, "If I could
but leave thee, my best beloved, in some secure abode, it would
not distress me to die; but to abandon thee so, without
protection, is sad indeed." She replied, "Think not to leave me,
dearest; our souls shall not be parted; this sword will give me
the means to follow thee." Zerbino's last words implored her to
banish such a thought, but live, and be true to his memory.
Isabella promised, with many tears, to be faithful to him so long
as life should last.
When he ceased to breathe, Isabella's cries resounded through the
forest, and reached the ears of a reverend hermit, who hastened to
the spot. He soothed and calmed her, urging those consolations
which the word of God supplies; and at last brought her to wish
for nothing else but to devote herself for the rest of life wholly
As she could not bear the thoughts of leaving her dead lord
abandoned, the body was, by the good hermit's aid, placed upon the
horse, and taken to the nearest inhabited place, where a chest was