|The Story of Roland|
|by James Baldwin|
|Here are related the daring feats and great exploits of Roland, worthiest of the barons of France in the time of Charlemagne, and those of Oliver and Reinold and Ogier the Dane, all heroes who were his companions in arms and who rivalled him in the number and greatness of their exploits. The story is culled from the works of song-writers and poets of five centuries and in as many languages. Ages 11-14 |
HOW REINOLD FARED TO CATHAY
 YOU are curious to know how it happened that Reinold of
Montalban had been entrapped in the castle of
Forgetfulness to be liberated just in time to carry aid
to the distressed Albraccans? I will tell you.
When the Princess Angelica returned to her father's
dwelling, after that fateful day in the wood of
Ardennes, she could not forget the noble form and
bearing of the hero of Montalban, as he had appeared
to her when she last saw him by the fountain of Merlin.
So she ordered that Malagis the wizard should be freed
from his dungeon beneath the sea, and brought into her
presence. The little old man, very glad to see the
light of day once more, bowed reverently to the
princess, and humbly waited for her to speak.
"Knowest thou the French knight who is called Reinold
of Montalban?" asked she.
"I do, most worthy lady," was the wizard's answer. "He
is my cousin and my dearest friend."
"Listen, then," said the princess. "If thou wilt
promise to bring this noble knight, by fair means or
foul, to Cathay, thou shalt have thy freedom, thy book,
and thy wizard's ring."
The old man bowed low, and promised. He would have
hazarded his soul for those things. He took his book
and his ring, and without a day's delay hastened to
return to France.
"Where hast thou been, wise cousin?" asked Reinold, as
the dwarf bowed himself into his chamber.
"Only across the sea," was the answer.
"And what didst thou find across the sea?"
"A very great treasure, but it is guarded by a dragon
so fierce and wakeful that I dared not go near it. Men
say that this treasure has lain there for ages, waiting
the coming of a hero brave enough to face the dragon,
and strong enough to slay him. Methought that my
cousin, Reinold of Montalban, might be that hero."
Very cunning were the wizard's words, and it was not
hard for him to persuade Reinold to go in quest of the
treasure. A ship with sails all set, impatient for the
wind, awaited the knight as he rode down to the
seashore. He stepped aboard, leading the horse Bayard
behind him. A light breeze sprang up: the sails filled,
and the ship sped gayly on its way across the sea.
There was no one on board save Reinold and his steed;
but the wizard had assured him that the ship needed
neither pilot nor oarsman, and that it would sail
straight to the shore where the treasure lay under the
watchful eyes of the dragon. Two days the little vessel
sped over the waves like a thing of life; nor did
 once doubt that the end of the voyage would be
as the wizard had said. On the third day he came to a
long, low shore and a goodly island, which seemed to be
one large garden adorned and beautified with every
thing that is pleasant to the sight. Close by the shore
was a wondrous castle, the fairest that Reinold had
ever seen. It was built of marble so white and clear
that the walls seemed like great mirrors in which were
painted the garden, the sea, and the sky. As the boat
touched the shore, three ladies, handsome as fairies,
came out of the castle, and greeted the knight.
"Welcome, brave hero!" said they. "Welcome to Joyous
Castle! Welcome in the name of our queen, Angelica of
Reinold heard the name of the fair princess with
loathing. He remembered her only as she had seemed to
him after he had drunk from the mystic waters of
Merlin's fountain. He thought of an old witch, haggard
and toothless and crippled, blear-eyed and gray,
mumbling her weird spells, and muttering curses. Such
to him was Angelica of Cathay. How he hated and loathed
her! He turned him about in the ship, and would not
look at the fairy palace and the gardens, which were
said to be hers. The breeze again filled the sails, and
the little bark left the shore, and the marble towers
of Joyous Castle were soon out of sight. And a great
storm arose on the sea, and the waves ran mountain
high, and the ship was at the mercy of the winds. A
dark night came on, and Reinold was in fearful peril
 but he stood calmly at the helm, and cared not at all
for the danger. In the morning the vessel ran upon a
wild, rock-bound shore, and was dashed in pieces by
the waves; but the hero and his horse escaped with
great difficulty by swimming to the land.
The country in which Reinold now found himself was
covered with a dark forest, where the owls hooted
dismally, and the wolves howled, and the goblins of the
wood held high carnival. As he made his way through the
dense underbrush, and among the dead and decaying
trees, he espied a low-built, gloomy castle standing in
the middle of a marsh. He rode up to the gate, and
called out loudly to the warder to open and let him in.
For a time there was no answer; and, indeed, no sign or
sound of life did he hear. Then, suddenly, there was a
rattling of chains and a ringing of iron bars; and the
gate flew open, and four giants rushed out upon the
knight. Before he could draw his sword, or in the least
defend himself, he was dragged from his horse, and
bound with iron chains, and carried into the
"Why this rudeness to a stranger and a knight?" he
asked as soon as he was given time to speak.
The giants answered him not a word, but left him lying
helpless and alone on the stone floor. After a while,
an old woman came in to jeer and laugh at his mishaps.
"A fine morsel thou wilt be for the dragon," said she.
"It is not often that he has a real Christian knight
 his dinner, and thou wilt indeed make him gentle
Reinold asked the woman what she meant, and was told
that on the morrow he was to be given to a terrible
dragon who had overrun and ravaged all that country,
and who could be appeased only by human blood.
"I fear him not," said the knight, "if they will but
unbind me, and give me my good Flamberge."
All night long Reinold lay bound in the cold and
desolate courtyard, while Bayard galloped hither and
thither in the forest, seeking vainly for his master.
Early in the morning the four giants came again; and,
after unbinding Reinold, they threw him, with his arms
and armor, into a deep-walled pit where the dragon was
wont to come for his daily meals. The knight, glad to
find that his limbs were free, and that his good sword
Flamberge was in his hand, waited fearlessly for the
coming of the monster.
Not long, however, had he to wait. The horrid beast,
his teeth gnashing with rage, and his nostrils flaming
with poisonous fumes, rushed into the area, expecting
to find, as usual, an easy prey. But Reinold attacked
him bravely with his good sword, and made him pause in
his hasty onset. Fierce and terrible was the fight that
followed. The sharp claws of the beast tore off the
knight's armor piece by piece. His head was laid bare;
his hauberk and breastplate were broken; the strokes of
his sword fell harmless on the iron scales which
protected the creature's sides. Hard would it have gone
with the knight, had not good
for-  tune favored him. Six
feet above his head a beam projected into the pit. He
felt his strength failing him; the great jaws of the
beast were about to close upon him. He called up all
his energy, and with one mighty effort leaped upon the
beam. He was safe. The dragon raged and fumed and
threatened, but could not reach him. Yet how, after
all, would the good knight escape? The walls rose, high
and smooth, still many feet above him. There was no way
to get out of the pit, save by passing the dread
IN THE DRAGON'S DEN.
While the knight sat half-despairing on the friendly
beam, he heard a whirring of wings above him; and a
fairy, which he at first mistook for a bird, alighted
by his side.
"Most worthy knight," said she, "fortune comes always
to the help of the brave. Now here are a ball of wax
and a strong net, which you may use as your good sense
may direct. But you must never forget that this aid has
been sent you by the Princess Angelica of Cathay."
With these words the fairy flew away, and was seen no
more. But Reinold wondered whether she were not really
the princess herself in disguise. It was easy for him
to understand what to do with the presents she had
brought. He threw the cake of wax to the raging dragon
below. Eagerly the beast seized it between his jaws,
and, lo! as Reinold had foreseen, his teeth were glued fast
together. Then, as the creature madly sought to remove
the wax with his claws, it was easy
 for the knight to
cast the net over him, and draw it tightly about his
limbs and body. Helpless now, the great beast rolled
upon the ground, an easy victim to Reinold's trenchant
It was no hard matter for Reinold to find his way out
of the pit, and into the wood again. There the good
horse Bayard waited for him, and greeted his coming
with a shrill neigh of pleasure. He looked around for
the gloomy castle where he had spent so many miserable
hours, but it was nowhere to be seen. He rubbed his
eyes, and fancied, that, after all, he might have been
only dreaming; for his armor was whole as ever, and his
good blade Flamberge was clear and bright, and no whit
tarnished with foul dragon's blood. He mounted his
steed, and rode slowly and thoughtfully out of the
forest. But just beyond, he came to the River of
Forgetfulness and the bridge which spans it; and there,
like Roland, he drank of the cup which the maiden
offered him, and was led helplessly away to the
care-forgetting castle of Old Oblivion.
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