Rinaldo and Gradasso, seeing Bayard’s escape, agreed to suspend their battle till they could recover the horse, the object of contention. Gradasso mounted his steed, and followed the foot-marks of Bayard into the forest. Rinaldo, never more vexed in spirit, remained at the spot, Gradasso having promised to return thither with the horse, if he found him. He did find him, after long search, for he had the good fortune to hear him neigh. Thus he became possessed of both the objects for which he had led an army from his own country, and invaded France. He did not forget his promise to bring Bayard back to the place where he had left Rinaldo, but only muttering, “Now I have got him, he little knows me who expects me to give him up; if Rinaldo wants the horse let him seek him in India, as I have sought him in France,”—he made the best of his way to Arles, where his vessels lay; and in possession of the two objects of his ambition, the horse and the sword, sailed away to his own country.
When we last parted with the adventurous paladin Astolpho, he was just commencing that flight over the countries of the world from which he promised himself so much gratification. Our readers are aware that the eagle and the falcon have not so swift a flight as the Hippogriff on which Astolpho rode. It was not long, therefore, before the paladin, directing his course toward the southeast, arrived over that part of Africa where the great river Nile has its source. Here he alighted, and found himself in the neighborhood of the capital of Abyssinia, ruled by Senapus, whose riches and power were immense. His palace was of surpassing splendor; the bars of the gates, the hinges and locks, were all of pure gold; in fact, this metal, in that country, is put to all those uses for which we employ iron. It is so common that they prefer for ornamental purposes rock crystal, of which all the columns were made. Precious stones of different kinds, rubies, emeralds, sapphires, and topazes were set in ornamental designs, and the walls and ceilings were adorned with pearls.
It is in this country those famous balms grow of which there are some few plants in that part of Judaea called Gilead. Musk, ambergris, and numerous gums, so precious in Europe, are here in their native climate. It is said the Sultan of Egypt pays a vast tribute to the monarch of this country to hire him not to cut off the source of the Nile, which he might easily do, and cause the river to flow in some other direction, thus depriving Egypt of the source of its fertility.
At the time of Astolpho’s arrival in his dominions, this monarch was in great affliction. In spite of his riches and the precious productions of his country, he was in danger of dying of hunger. He was a prey to a flock of obscene birds called Harpies, which attacked him whenever he sat at meat, and with their claws snatched, tore, and scattered everything, overturning the vessels, devouring the food, and infecting what they left with their filthy touch. It was said this punishment was inflicted upon the king because when young, and filled with pride and presumption, he had attempted to invade with an army the terrestrial paradise, which is situated on the top of a mountain whence the Nile draws its source. Nor was this his only punishment. He was struck blind.