Thus fell beneath the sword of the most illustrious paladin of France the bravest warrior of the Saracen host. Orlando then, as if despising his victory, leaped lightly to the ground, and ran to his dear friend Florismart, embraced him, and bathed him with his tears. Florismart still breathed. He could even command his voice to utter a few parting words: “Dear friend, do not forget me,— give me your prayers,—and oh! be a brother to Flordelis.” He died in uttering her name.
After a few moments given to grief Orlando turned to look for his other companion and his late foes. Oliver lay oppressed with the weight of his horse, from which he had in vain struggled to liberate himself. Orlando extricated him with difficulty; he then raised Sobrino from the earth, and committed him to his squire, treating him as gently as if he had been his own brother. For this terrible warrior was the most generous of men to a fallen foe. He took Bayard and Brigliadoro, with the arms of the conquered knights; their bodies and their other spoils he remitted to their attendants.
But who can tell the grief of Flordelis when she saw the warriors return, and found not Florismart as usual after absence hasten to her side. She knew by the aspect of the others that her lord was slain. At the thought, and before the question could pass her lips, she fell senseless upon the ground. When life returned, and she learned the truth of her worst fears, she bitterly upbraided herself that she had let him depart without her. “I might have saved him by a single cry when his enemy dealt him that treacherous blow, or I might have thrown myself between and given my worthless life for his. Or if no more, I might have heard his last words, I might have given him a last kiss.” So she lamented, and could not be comforted.
ROGERO AND BRADAMANTE
After the interruption of the combat with Rinaldo, as we have related, Rogero was perplexed with doubts what course to take. The terms of the treaty required him to abandon Agramant, who had broken it, and to transfer his allegiance to Charlemagne; and his love for Bradamante called him in the same direction; but unwillingness to desert his prince and leader in the hour of distress forbade this course. Embarking, therefore, for Africa, he took his way to rejoin the Saracen army; but was arrested midway by a storm which drove the vessel on a rock. The crew took to their boat, but that was quickly swamped in the waves, and Rogero with the rest were compelled to swim for their lives. Then while buffeting the waves Rogero bethought him of his sin in so long delaying his Christian profession, and vowed in his heart that, if he should live to reach the land, he would no longer delay to be baptized. His vows were heard and answered; he succeeded in reaching the shore, and was aided and relieved on landing by a pious hermit, whose cell overlooked the sea. From him he received baptism, having first passed some days with him, partaking his humble fare, and receiving instruction in the doctrines of the Christian faith.