its precincts, and in the darkness, not knowing what course to
take, were glad to meet an aged woman, who, in reply to their
inquiries, offered them such accommodations as her cottage could
supply. They thankfully accepted the offer, and entered the low
door. The good dame busily prepared the best fare her stores
supplied, - milk, figs, and peaches, - deeply regretting that the
bleak winds had nipped her almond-trees.
Sir Huon thought he had never in his life tasted any fare so good.
The old lady talked while her guests ate. She doubted not, she
said, they had come to be present at the great feast in honor of
the marriage of the Sultan's daughter, which was to take place on
the morrow. They asked who the bridegroom was to be, and the old
lady answered, "The Prince of Hyrcania," but added, "Our princess
hates him, and would rather wed a dragon than him." "How know you
that?" asked Huon; and the dame informed him that she had it from
the princess herself, who was her foster-child. Huon inquired the
reason of the princess's aversion; and the woman pleased to find
her chat excite so much interest, replied that it was all in
consequence of a dream. "A dream!" exclaimed Huon. "Yes! a dream.
She dreamed that she was a hind, and that the Prince, as a hunter,
was pursuing her, and had almost overtaken her, when a beautiful
dwarf appeared in view, drawn in a golden car, having by his side
a young man of yellow hair and fair complexion, like one from a
foreign land. She dreamed that the car stopped where she stood,
and that, having resumed her own form, she was about to ascend it,
when suddenly it faded from her view, and with it the dwarf and
the fair-haired youth. But from her heart that vision did not
fade, and from that time her affianced bridegroom, the Hyrcanian
prince, had become odious to her sight. Yet the Sultan, her
father, by no means regarding such a cause as sufficient to
prevent the marriage, had named the morrow as the time when it
should be solemnized, in presence of his court and many princes of
the neighboring countries, whom the fame of the princess's beauty
and the bridegroom's splendor had brought to the scene."
We may suppose this conversation woke a tumult of thoughts in the
breast of Huon. Was it not clear that Providence led him on, and
cleared the way for his happy success? Sleep did not early visit
the eyes of Huon that night; but, with the sanguine temper of
youth, he indulged his fancy in imagining the sequel of his
The next day, which he could not but regard as the decisive day of
his fate, he prepared to deliver the message of Charlemagne. Clad
in his armor, fortified with his ivory horn and his ring, he
reached the palace of Gaudisso when the guests were assembled at
the banquet. As he approached the gate a voice called on all true
believers to enter; and Huon, the brave and faithful Huon, in his
impatience passed in under that false pretention. He had no sooner
passed the barrier than he felt ashamed of his baseness, and was
overwhelmed with regret. To make amends for his fault he ran
forward to the second gate, and cried to the porter, "Dog of a
misbeliever, I command you in the name of Him who died on the
cross, open to me!" The points of a hundred weapons immediately
opposed his passage. Huon then remembered for the first time the
ring he had received from his uncle, the Governor. He produced it,
and demanded to be led to the Sultan's presence. The officer of
the guard recognized the ring, made a respectful obeisance, and
allowed him free entrance. In the same way he passed the other
doors to the rich saloon where the great Sultan was at dinner with
his tributary princes. At sight of the ring the chief attendant
led Huon to the head of the hall, and introduced him to the Sultan
and his princes as the ambassador of Charlemagne. A seat was
provided for him near the royal party.
The Prince of Hyrcania, the same whom Huon had rescued from the
lion, and who was the destined bridegroom of the beautiful
Clarimunda, sat on the Sultan's right hand, and the princess
herself on his left. It chanced that Huon found himself near the
seat of the princess, and hardly were the ceremonies of reception
over before he made haste to fulfill the commands of Charlemagne
by imprinting a kiss upon her rosy lips, and after that a second,
not by command, but by good will. The Prince of Hyrcania cried
out, "Audacious infidel! take the reward of thy insolence!" and
aimed a blow at Huon, which, if it had reached him, would have
brought his embassy to a speedy termination. But the ingrate
failed of his aim, and Huon punished his blasphemy and ingratitude
at once by a blow which severed his head from his body.
So suddenly had all this happened that no hand had been raised to
arrest it; but now Gaudisso cried out, "Seize the murderer!" Huon
was hemmed in on all sides, but his redoubtable sword kept the
crowd of courtiers at bay. But he saw new combatants enter, and
could not hope to maintain his ground against so many. He
recollected his horn, and raising it to his lips, blew a blast
almost as loud as that of Roland at Roncesvalles. It was in vain.
Oberon heard it; but the sin of which Huon had been guilty in
bearing, though but for a moment, the character of a believer in
the false prophet, had put it out of Oberon's power to help him.
Huon, finding himself deserted, and conscious of the cause, lost
his strength and energy, was seized, loaded with chains, and
plunged into a dungeon.
His life was spared for the time, merely that he might be reserved
for a more painful death. The Sultan meant that, after being made
to feel all the torments of hunger and despair, he should be
But an enchanter more ancient and more powerful than Oberon
himself interested himself for the brave Huon. The enchanter was
Love. The Princess Clarimunda learned with horror the fate to
which the young prince was destined. By the aid of her governante
she gained over the keeper of the prison, and went herself to
lighten the chains of her beloved. It was her hand that removed
his fetters, from her he received supplies of food to sustain a
life which he devoted from thenceforth wholly to her. After the
most tender explanations the princess departed, promising to
repeat her visit on the morrow.
The next day she came according to promise, and again brought
supplies of food. These visits were continued during a whole
month. Huon was too good a son of the Church to forget that the
amiable princess was a Saracen, and he availed himself of these
interviews to instruct her in the true faith. How easy it is to
believe the truth when uttered by the lips of those we love!
Clarimunda ere long professed her entire belief in the Christian
doctrines, and desired to be baptized.
Meanwhile the Sultan had repeatedly inquired of the jailer how his
prisoner bore the pains of famine, and learned to his surprise
that he was not yet much reduced thereby. On his repeating the
inquiry, after a short interval, the keeper replied that the
prisoner had died suddenly, and had been buried in the cavern. The
Sultan could only regret that he had not sooner ordered the
execution of the sentence.
While these things were going on the faithful Sherasmin, who had
not accompanied Huon in his last adventure, but had learned by
common rumor the result of it, came to the court in hopes of doing
something for the rescue of his master. He presented himself to
the Sultan as Solario, his nephew. Guadisso received him with
kindness, and all the courtiers loaded him with attentions. He
soon found means to inform himself how the Princess regarded the
brave but unfortunate Huon, and having made himself known to her,
confidence was soon established between them. Clarimunda readily
consented to assist in the escape of Huon, and to quit with him
her father's court to repair to that of Charlemagne. Their united
efforts had nearly perfected their arrangement, a vessel was
secretly prepared, and all things in forwardness for the flight,
when an unlooked-for obstacle presented itself. Huon himself
positively refused to go leaving the orders of Charlemagne
Sherasmin was in despair. Bitterly he complained of the fickleness
and cruelty of Oberon in withdrawing his aid at the very crisis
when it was most necessary. Earnestly he urged every argument to
satisfy the prince that he had done enough for honor, and could
not be held bound to achieve impossibilities. But all was of no
avail, and he knew not which way to turn, when one of those events
occurred which are so frequent under Turkish despotisms. A courier
arrived at the court of the Sultan, bearing the ring of his
sovereign, the mighty Agrapard, Caliph of Arabia, and bringing the
bow-string for the neck of Gaudisso. No reason was assigned; none
but the pleasure of the Caliph is ever required in such cases; but
it was suspected that the bearer of the bow-string had persuaded
the Caliph that Gaudisso, whose rapacity was well known, had
accumulated immense treasures, which he had not duly shared with
his sovereign, and thus had obtained an order to supersede him in
The body of Gaudisso would have been cast out a prey to dogs and
vultures, had not Sherasmin, under the character of nephew of the
deceased, been permitted to receive it, and give it decent burial,
which he did, but not till he had taken possession of the beard
and grinders, agreeably to the orders of Charlemagne.
No obstacle now stood in the way of the lovers and their faithful
follower in returning to France. They sailed, taking Rome in their
way, where the Holy Father himself blessed the union of his
nephew, Duke Huon of Bordeaux, with the Princess Clarimunda.
Soon afterward they arrived in France, where Huon laid his
trophies at the feet of Charlemagne, and, being restored to the
favor of the Emperor, hastened to present himself and his bride to
the Duchess, his mother, and to the faithful liegemen of his
province of Guienne and his city of Bordeaux, where the pair were
received with transports of joy.
OGIER, THE DANE
OGIER, the Dane, was the son of Geoffrey, who wrested Denmark from
the Pagans, and reigned the first Christian king of that country.
When Ogier was born, and before he was baptized, six ladies of
ravishing beauty appeared all at once in the chamber of the
infant. They encircled him, and she who appeared the eldest took
him in her arms, kissed him, and laid her hand upon his heart. "I
give you," said she, "to be the bravest warrior of your times."
She delivered the infant to her sister, who said, "I give you
abundant opportunities to display your valor." "Sister," said the
third lady, "you have given him a dangerous boon; I give him that
he shall never be vanquished." The fourth sister added, as she
laid her hand upon his eyes and his mouth, "I give you the gift of
pleasing." The fifth said, "Lest all these gifts serve only to
betray, I give you sensibility to return the love you inspire."
Then spoke Morgana, the youngest and handsomest of the group.
"Charming creature, I claim you for my own; and I give you not to
die till you shall have come to pay me a visit in my isle of
Avalon." Then she kissed the child and departed with her sisters.
After this the king had the child carried to the font and baptized
with the name of Ogier.
In his education nothing was neglected to elevate him to the
standard of a perfect knight, and render him accomplished in all
the arts necessary to make him a hero.
He had hardly reached the age of sixteen years when Charlemagne,
whose power was established over all the sovereigns of his time,
recollected that Geoffroy, Ogier's father, had omitted to render
the homage due to him as Emperor, and sovereign lord of Denmark,
one of the grand fiefs of the empire. He accordingly sent an
embassy to demand of the king of Denmark this homage, and on
receiving a refusal, couched in haughty terms, sent an army to
enforce the demand. Geoffroy, after an unsuccessful resistance,
was forced to comply, and as a pledge of his sincerity delivered
Ogier, his eldest son, a hostage to Charles, to be brought up at
his court. He was placed in charge of the Duke Namo of Bavaria,
the friend of his father, who treated him like his own son.
Ogier grew up more and more handsome and amiable every day. He
surpassed in form, strength, and address all the noble youths his
companions; he failed not to be present at all tourneys; he was
attentive to the elder knights, and burned with impatience to
imitate them. Yet his heart rose sometimes in secret against his
condition as a hostage, and as one apparently forgotten by his
The King of Denmark, in fact, was at this time occupied with new
loves. Ogier's mother having died, he had married a second wife,
and had a son named Guyon. The new queen had absolute power over
her husband, and fearing that, if he should see Ogier again, he
would give him the preference over Guyon, she had adroitly
persuaded him to delay rendering his homage to Charlemagne, till
now four years had passed away since the last renewal of that
ceremony. Charlemagne, irritated at this delinquency, drew closer
the bonds of Ogier's captivity until he should receive a response
from the king of Denmark to a fresh summons which he caused to be
sent to him.
The answer of Geoffroy was insulting and defiant, and the rage of
Charlemagne was roused in the highest degree. He was at first
disposed to wreak his vengeance upon Ogier, his hostage; but at
the entreaties of Duke Namo, who felt towards his pupil like a
father, consented to spare his life, if Ogier would swear fidelity
to him as his liege-lord, and promise not to quit his court
without his permission. Ogier accepted these terms, and was
allowed to retain all the freedom he had before enjoyed.
The Emperor would have immediately taken arms to reduce his
disobedient vassal, if he had not been called off in another
direction by a message from Pope Leo, imploring his assistance.
The Saracens had landed in the neighborhood of Rome, occupied
Mount Janiculum, and prepared to pass the Tiber and carry fire and
sword to the capital of the Christian world. Charlemagne hesitated
not to yield to the entreaties of the Pope. He speedily assembled
an army, crossed the Alps, traversed Italy, and arrived at
Spoleto, a strong place to which the Pope had retired. Leo, at the
head of his Cardinals, advanced to meet him, and rendered him
homage, as to the son of Pepin, the illustrious protector of the
Holy See, coming, as his father had done, to defend it in the hour
Charlemagne stopped but two days at Spoleto, and learning that the
Infidels, having rendered themselves masters of Rome, were
besieging the Capitol, which could not long hold out against them,
marched promptly to attack them.
The advanced posts of the army were commanded by Duke Namo, on
whom Ogier waited as his squire. He did not yet bear arms, not
having received the order of knighthood. The Oriflamme, the royal
standard, was borne by a knight named Alory, who showed himself
unworthy of the honor.
Duke Namo, seeing a strong body of the Infidels advancing to
attack him, gave the word to charge them. Ogier remained in the
rear, with the other youths, grieving much that he was not
permitted to fight. Very soon he saw Alory lower the Oriflamme,
and turn his horse in flight. Ogier pointed him out to the young
men, and seizing a club, rushed upon Alory and struck him from his
horse. Then, with his companions, he disarmed him, clothed himself
in his armor, raised the Oriflamme, and mounting the horse of the
unworthy knight, flew to the front rank, where he joined Duke
Namo, drove back the Infidels, and carried the Oriflamme quite
through their broken ranks. The Duke, thinking it was Alory, whom
he had not held in high esteem, was astonished at his strength and
valor. Ogier's young companions imitated him, supplying themselves
with armor from the bodies of the slain; they followed Ogier and
carried death into the ranks of the Saracens, who fell back in
confusion upon their main body.
Duke Namo now ordered a retreat, and Ogier obeyed with reluctance,
when they perceived Charlemagne advancing to their assistance. The
combat now became general, and was more terrible than ever.
Charlemagne had overthrown Corsuble, the commander of the
Saracens, and had drawn his famous sword, Joyeuse, to cut off his
head, when two Saracen knights set upon him at once, one of whom
slew his horse, and the other overthrew the Emperor on the sand.
Perceiving by the eagle on his casque who he was, they dismounted
in haste to give him his deathblow. Never was the life of the
Emperor in such peril. But Ogier, who saw him fall, flew to his
rescue. Though embarrassed with the Oriflamme, he pushed his horse
against one of the Saracens and knocked him down; and with his
sword dealt the other so vigorous a blow that he fell stunned to
the earth. Then helping the Emperor to rise, he remounted him on
the horse of one of the fallen knights. "Brave and generous
Alory!" Charles exclaimed, "I owe to you my honor and my life!"
Ogier made no answer; but, leaving Charlemagne surrounded by a
great many of the knights who had flown to his succor, he plunged
into the thickest ranks of the enemy, and carried the Oriflamme,
followed by a gallant train of youthful warriors, till the
standard of Mahomet turned in retreat, and the Infidels sought
safety in their intrenchments.
Then the good Archbishop Turpin laid aside his helmet and his
bloody sword (for he always felt that he was clearly in the line
of his duty while slaying Infidels), took his mitre and his
crosier, and intoned Te Deum.
At this moment Ogier, covered with blood and dust, came to lay the
Oriflamme at the feet of the Emperor. He was followed by a train
of warriors of short stature, who walked ill at ease loaded with
armor too heavy for them. Ogier knelt at the feet of Charlemagne,
who embraced him, calling him Alory, while Turpin from the height
of the altar, blessed him with all his might. Then young Orlando,
son of the Count Milone, and nephew of Charlemagne, no longer able
to endure this misapprehension, threw down his helmet, and ran to
unlace Ogier's, while the other young men laid aside theirs. Our
author says he cannot express the surprise, the admiration, and
the tenderness of the Emperor and his peers. Charles folded Ogier
in his arms, and the happy fathers of those brave youths embraced
them with tears of joy. The good Duke Namo stepped forward, and
Charlemagne yielded Ogier to his embrace. "How much do I owe you,"
he said, "good and wise friend, for having restrained my anger! My
dear Ogier! I owe you my life! My sword leaps to touch your
shoulder, yours and those of your brave young friends." At these
words he drew that famous sword, Joyeuse, and while Ogier and the
rest knelt before him, gave them the accolade conferring on them
the order of knighthood. The young Orlando and his cousin Oliver
could not refrain, even in the presence of the Emperor, from
falling upon Ogier's neck, and pledging with him that brotherhood
in arms, so dear and so sacred to the knights of old times; but
Charlot, the Emperor's son, at the sight of the glory with which
Ogier had covered himself, conceived the blackest jealousy and
The rest of the day and the next were spent in the rejoicings of
the army. Turpin in a solemn service implored the favor of Heaven
upon the youthful knights, and blessed the white armor which was
prepared for them. Duke Namo presented them with golden spurs,
Charles himself girded on their swords. But what was his
astonishment when he examined that intended for Ogier! The loving
Fairy, Morgana, had had the art to change it, and to substitute
one of her own procuring, and when Charles drew it out of the
scabbard, these words appeared written on the steel: "My name is
Cortana, of the same steel and temper as Joyeuse and Durindana."
Charles saw that a superior power watched over the destinies of
Ogier; he vowed to love him as a father would, and Ogier promised
him the devotion of a son. Happy had it been for both if they had
always continued mindful of their promises.
The Saracen army had hardly recovered from its dismay when
Carahue, King of Mauritania, who was one of the knights overthrown
by Ogier at the time of the rescue of Charlemagne, determined to
challenge him to single combat. With that view he assumed the
dress of a herald, resolved to carry his own message. The French
knights admired his air, and said to one another that he seemed
more fit to be a knight than a bearer of messages.
Carahue began by passing the warmest eulogium upon the knight who
bore the Oriflamme on the day of the battle, and concluded by
saying that Carahue, King of Mauritania, respected that knight so
much that he challenged him to the combat.
Ogier had risen to reply, when he was interrupted by Charlot, who
said that the gage of the King of Mauritania could not fitly be
received by a vassal, living in captivity; by which he meant
Ogier, who was at that time serving as hostage for his father.
Fire flashed from the eyes of Ogier, but the presence of the
Emperor restrained his speech, and he was calmed by the kind looks
of Charlemagne, who said, with an angry voice, "Silence, Charlot!
By the life of Bertha, my queen, he who has saved my life is as
dear to me as yourself. Ogier," he continued, "you are no longer a
hostage. Herald! report my answer to your master, that never does
knight of my court refuse a challenge on equal terms. Ogier, the
Dane, accepts of his, and I myself am his security."
Carahue, profoundly bowing, replied, "My lord, I was sure that the
sentiments of so great a sovereign as yourself would be worthy of
your high and brilliant fame; I shall report your answer to my
master, who I know admires you, and unwillingly takes arms against
you." Then, turning to Charlot, whom he did not know as the son of
the Emperor, he continued, "As for you, Sir Knight, if the desire
of battle inflames you, I have it in charge from Sadon, cousin of
the King of Mauritania, to give the like defiance to any French
knights who will grant him the honor of the combat."
Charlot, inflamed with rage and vexation at the public reproof
which he had just received, hesitated not to deliver his gage.
Carahue received it with Ogier's, and it was agreed that the
combat should be on the next day in a meadow environed by woods
and equally distant from both armies.
The perfidious Charlot meditated the blackest treason. During the
night he collected some knights unworthy of the name, and like
himself in their ferocious manners; he made them swear to avenge
his injuries, armed them in black armor, and sent them to lie in
ambush in the wood, with orders to make a pretended attack upon
the whole party, but in fact, to lay heavy hands upon Ogier and
the two Saracens.
At the dawn of day Sadon and Carahue, attended tonly by two pages
to carry their spears, took their way to the appointed meadow; and
Charlot and Ogier repaired thither also, but by different paths.
Ogier advanced with a calm air, saluted courteously the two
Saracen knights, and joined them in arranging the terms of combat.
While this was going on the perfidious Charlot remained behind and
gave his men the signal to advance. That cowardly troop issued
from the wood and encompassed the three knights. All three were
equally surprised at the attack, but neither of them suspected the
other to have any hand in the treason. Seeing the attack made
equally upon them all, they united their efforts to resist it, and
made the most forward of the assailants bite the dust. Cortana
fell on no one without inflicting a mortal wound, but the sword of
Carahue was not of equal temper and broke in his hands. At the
same instant his horse was slain, and Carahue fell, without a
weapon, and entangled with his prostrate horse. Ogier, who saw it,
ran to his defence, and leaping to the ground covered the prince
with his shield, supplied him with the sword of one of the fallen
ruffians, and would have him mount his own horse. At that moment
Charlot, inflamed with rage, pushed his horse upon Ogier, knocked
him down, and would have run him through with his lance if Sadon,
who saw the treason, had not sprung upon him and thrust him back.
Carahue leapt lightly upon the horse which Ogier presented him,
and had time only to exclaim, "Brave Ogier, I am no longer your
enemy, I pledge to you an eternal friendship," when numerous
Saracen knights were seen approaching, having discovered the