While Mandricardo stood contemplating the prize a door opened behind him, and a bevy of fair damsels entered, dancing, who, taking up the armor piece by piece, led him away to the place where the shield was suspended; where he found the fairy of the castle seated in state.

Mandricardo, however, fell uppermost, and, preserving his advantage, compelled Gradasso to yield himself conquered. The damsel now interfered, congratulating the victor, and consoling the vanquished as well as she might. Mandricardo and the damsel proceeded to the gate of the castle, which they found undefended. As they entered they beheld a shield suspended from a pilaster of gold.

Before it, on a lawn, sat an armed knight on horseback, who was none other than Gradasso, king of Sericane, who, in his return home from his unsuccessful inroad into France, had fallen into the power of the fairy, and was held to do her bidding. Mandricardo, upon seeing him, dropt his visor, and laid his lance in rest.

He had been rejected by a lady, in favour of the Tartar king, Mandricardo, and mortified by the publicity of the rejection before his own lord paramount, Agramante, the leader of the infidel armies.

He had expired in her arms from wounds inflicted during a combat with Mandricardo; and she had been thrown by the loss into such anguish of mind that she would have died on his sword but for the intervention of the hermit now with her, who persuaded her to devote the rest of her days to God in a nunnery.

Mandricardo, who had been absent from the battle, heard the report of these achievements and determined to test for himself the valor of the knight so extolled. He it was who broke in upon the conference of Zerbino and Isabella, and their benefactor Orlando, as they stood occupied in mutual felicitations, after the happy reunion of the lovers by the prowess of the paladin.

Rogero felt no other objection to this proposal than the scruple which arose on observing that his antagonist was without a sword. Mandricardo insisted that this need be no impediment, since his oath prevented him from using a sword until he should have achieved the conquest of Durindana. This was no sooner said than a new antagonist started up in Gradasso, who now accompanied Mandricardo.

Mandricardo, when he was somewhat recovered, and assured himself of the destruction of the serpent, began to contemplate the place into which he had fallen, and saw that he was in a vault, incrusted with costly metals, and illuminated by a live coal.

"And what weapon hast thou," said he, "if thy lance fail thee?" "Do not concern yourself about that," said Mandricardo; "I have made many good knights give ground with no other weapon than you see. Know that I have sworn an oath never to bear a sword until I win back that famous Durindana that Orlando, the paladin, carries.

Before it, on a lawn, sat an armed knight on horseback, who was none other than Gradasso, king of Sericane, who, in his return home from his unsuccessful inroad into France, had fallen into the power of the fairy, and was held to do her bidding. Mandricardo, upon seeing him, dropt his visor, and laid his lance in rest.