THE BOOK OF ROMANCE - online children's book

King Arthur, His Court and Knights in the Age of Chivalry, by Andrew Lang

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182 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
'Let us be very careful how we answer him,' cried the nobles with one voice.
At that Roland sprang to his feet. ' It is madness to put faith in Marsile,' said he; • seven years have we been in Spain, and many towns have I conquered for you, but Marsile we have always proved a traitor. Once before he sent us an embassy of Unbelievers each one bearing an olive branch, and they made you the same promises. Once before you called a meeting of your Barons who counselled you to do the thing they knew you wished, and you sent to the Court of the Unbelievers the noble Counts Basil and Bazan. And how did Marsile treat them ? He commanded that they should be led into the mountains and that their heads should be cut off, which was done. No ! Go on with the war, as you have begun it; march on Saragossa and lay siege to the town, though it should last to the end of your life, and avenge those whom Marsile put to death.'
With bent head the Emperor listened to Roland, twist­ing all the while his fingers in his moustache. He kept silent, turning over in his mind the things Roland had said, and the nobles kept silence, too, all except Gane-lon. For Ganelon rose and stood before Charles and began to speak. ' Believe none of us,' he said; ' think of nothing but your own advantage when Marsile offers to become your vassal, and to do homage for the whole of Spain, and to receive baptism besides ; he who wishes you to reject such offers cares nothing for the deaths the rest of us may die. Pay no attention to such madness, but listen to your wise men.'
He sat down in his place, and then the Duke Naimes took up his words. ' You have heard,' he said to Charles, 'the words of Ganelon. Wise council, if we only follow it! Marsile knows that he is conquered at last. You have won his towns, and vanquished him in battle, and he is reduced to beg for your pity. It would be shame­ful to ask for anything further, and the more so as you
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