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CHARLEMAIN, having proclaimed a solemn feast and tournament in Paris, at which were present many foreign princes and knights from various parts of the world, as well Pagan as Christian, on a certain day, when all the nobles and strangers were assembled, an unknown knight and lady entered the hall, attended by four giants of a dreadful stature. The lady, whose personal charms dazzled all the spectators, addressed herself to the emperor; and begging an audience, told him, that her name was Angelica, that she came with her brother Uberto, from a distant kingdom, attracted by the fame of the magnificence of his court; that her brother, who earnestly desired to prove his valour with the warriors then present, was ready to meet any of them in the field, whether Saracen or Christian, upon condition, that whoever was unhorsed by him, should immediately become his prisoner; but that if he himself should be over- thrown, he promised to depart with his giants, and leave his sister as the prize of the conqueror: she concluded with saying, that her brother would expect them at his pavilion without the city.
The lady, having received a gracious answer, retired with her company, while every knight, captivated with · her charms, felt the utmost impatience to enter the list with the stranger: but above the rest, Orlando, whose eyes had been rivetted on so beautiful an object, confessed the poison of love, though he studiously endeavoured to conceal his inward emotions: even Namus could not resist the power of such perfections, nor was Charlemain himself wholly exempted from the general contagion.
In the mean time Malagigi, a cousin to Rinaldo, who was deeply skilled in magic, suspecting that the uncommon visit of these strangers foreboded no good to the Christians, had recourse to his art, and upon consulting his spirits, received intelligence, that the lady was daughter to Galaphron, king of Cathay; that the knight her brother was not called Uberto, but Argalia; that the king their father, to effect a great design which he meditated, had procured for his son a suit of enchanted armour, a golden lance of such hidden virtue, that the least touch of it would dismount the stoutest warrior, and a horse of incomparable swiftness : to these gifts he added a ring of such wonderful efficacy, that being conveyed into the mouth, it made the person invisible, and, being worn upon the finger, had the power to frustrate all enchantments: but that the king confided chiefly in the beauty of his daughter, not doubting, but her charms would fascinate the champions of Charlemain,
and that she would bring them prisoners to the throne of Cathay.
Malagigi having heard this, conceived the design of delivering his country from the impending danger: he caused himself to be transported, by his spirits, to the pavilion of Argalia, whom he found asleep, with Angelica near him, guarded by the four giants: these he soon cast into a deep slumber by the force of his spells, and drew his sword, with a determination to put an end to the life of this dangerous beauty : but, as he approached her, he began to feel sensations of a very different nature, till every resolution, giving way to the softer passions that inspired him, from a nearer view of her charms, he could no longer resist the powerful impulse, but advanced to embrace her.
Angelica, who had the ring upon her finger, which preserved her from the force of his incantations, suddenly awaked, and finding herself in the arms of a man, uttered a loud cry: Argalia ran to her assistance, and seized Malagigi, while the princess made herself mistress of his magical book, and calling upon his spirits, commanded them to convey the prisoner to her father's kingdom; which was performed in an instant.
In order to put an end to the dissention that had arisen in the Chuistian court, each champion claiming the preference to enter first the list with Argalia, the emperor commanded that lots should be drawn; when the names that appeared were Astolpho, Ferrau, Rinaldo, and next Charlemain, who would not be excluded, notwithstanding his age : after these came a number more before the name of Orlando appeared.'
· Astolpho being armed, as the first on the list of combatants, presented himself to encounter Argalia, was unhorsed by the golden lance, and sent prisoner into the pavilion. Next morning, at day-break, Ferrau, a Spanish knight, came from the city to try his fortune, and was overthrown in the same manner: but refusing to yield to the conditions of the combat, the giants endeavoured to seize his person; these he slew, and compelled Argalia to engage him on foot. Angelica, fearing the issue of their combat, fled; when Argalia, perceiving her flight, followed her, and was as suddenly pursued by Ferrau.
Ferrau, after some time, entering the forest of Arden, found Argalia asleep, who had not been able to overtake his sister. The Spaniard, determined that he should not escape him, turned Argalia's horse loose, and waited, with the utmost impatience, till his enemy awaked. An obstinate battle then ensued, till victory at last declared for Ferrau, when Argalia, finding himself mortally wounded, entreated that when he was dead, his body, with all his arms, might be thrown into the river, that no one might wear them after him, and reproach his memory for suffering himself to be vanquished when he was defended with impenetrable armour. Ferrau promised to grant his request, having first desired the use of his helmet for a few days, his own being demolished in the battle.
After the departure of Argalia, Angelica, and Ferrau, Astolpho having recovered his liberty, mounted his horse, took the golden lance which Argalia had left behind him, and returned to the city; in his way he met Rinaldo, who was impatient to learn the issue of the combat; and having heard what had passed, determined to go in search of Angelica.
Orlando, who had felt no ease since the appearance of the lovely stranger, after Astolpho's return, left the court of Charlemain, and set out likewise to follow Angelica, and in his way met with various adventures.
When Rinaldo first left the court of Charlemain to follow Angelica, he entered the forest of Arden, where he came to the enchanted fountain made by Merlin the magician, to cure Sir Tristram of his passion for Isotta ; but though it so happened that the knight never tasted of the water, yet the virtue of it remained ever after. Rinaldo arriving here, drank of the fountain, and immediately found his love for Angelica converted into hatred: he then came to the other fountain, likewise the work of Merlin, called the Fountain of Love, which had the faculty of inspiring the breast with that passion: here, tempted by the beauty of the place, he alighted from his horse, yet, as he had before quenched his thirst, he drank not of the stream, but stretching himself on the turf, soon fell into a profound sleep.
Angelica, who had fled while her brother was engaged with Ferrau, was led by chance to the same place where Rinaldo lay; the princess, fatigued with her flight, and invited by the clearness of the water, drank a large draught, and conceived a violent passion for the sleeping knight, whom she stood contemplating with inexpressible pleasure, till he awaked. As soon as Rinaldo opened his eyes, and beheld Angelica, who was now become the object of his most bitter aversion, he remounted his horse, and left the place with the utmost precipitation,