184 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
'No,' replied Ganelon, 'it is Roland's doing, and to the end of my life I will bear him hatred for it. Oliver also will I hate, since Oliver is his friend. And never more will I love the twelve peers, for they love him. Under your own eyes, sire, I throw down my challenge.'
' You are angry about nothing,' said the King, ' and as I have commanded you, you will go.'
' I can go, but it will be my death, as it was the death of Basil and of his brother Bazan. Who goes there, returns not. But, sire, do not forget that your sister is my wife and that I have a son Baldwin, who, if he lives, will be the bravest of the brave. To him I leave all my lands. Guard him well, for I shall see him no more.'
' Your heart is too tender,' said Charles, ' but there is no help for it, you must go.'
At the words of the King, Ganelon flung his fur mantle to the ground in fury. ' It is to you,' he cried, turning to Roland, 'that I owe this peril. I am your stepfather, and that is reason enough that you send me to lose my head at the Court of King Marsile. Let it be so; but if ever I return I will bring on you such trouble that it will only end with your life.'
'Youtalk like a madman,' said Roland. 'All men know that I care nothing for threats. But it needs a wise man to go on such a mission, and if the King pleases, I will go in your place.'
'You will not go in my place,' answered Ganelon. 'I am not your vassal, to do as you bid me. Charles has commanded me to go to Saragossa, therefore to Sara-gossa I go. But beware of what I do when I get there.'
At this Roland began to laugh, and when Ganelon saw him laughing, it seemed as if his heart would burst with anger. ' I hate you,' he muttered to Roland. ' I should never have been chosen but for you. Great Emperor,' he said aloud to Charles, ' behold me ready to obey your orders.'
' Listen, fair Count,' replied Charles, ' for this is the