THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES 187
message I would have you bear to King Marsile. If he agrees to become my vassal, and to receive Holy Baptism, I will give him half of Spain as a fief. The other half will be held by Eoland, my nephew. If these terms do not please King Marsile, I will myself besiege Saragossa, and will take him and bind him in chains. Then he shall be brought to Aix, where he shall be put to a shameful death. So take this letter which is sealed with my seal, and give it into the hand of the Infidel.' When Ganelon had put the letter in safety, the King held out to him his glove, but the Count was not quick to seize it, and it fell to the ground. 'Heavens,' cried the Franks who were standing round, ' how dreadful an omen ! This message will be the cause of dire misfortunes.' ' I will send you news of them,' Ganelon answered. And he said to Charles, ' Let me depart, sire, as I must go. I wish to lose no time.'
'Go then,' replied the King, making over him the sign of the cross and giving him the wand of office. And Ganelon went.
It was not long before he overtook the Saracens, who had lingered, hoping he might join them, and Blancandrin began to sing the praises of Charles and his conquests. 'He is a wonderful man,' answered Ganelon, ' and of such a strong will that no man may strive against it.'
' How brave are these Franks,' went on Blancandrin; ' but your nobles were ill-advised in the counsel they gave the King upon this matter. It bodes evil to Charles and to many beside him.'
'None of them merit this blame,' said Ganelon, 'save Roland only, and the shame will be on his head. His pride is so great that he thinks no sword can touch him, but until he is really dead peace we can never have.' Here the Saracen glanced at Ganelon beside him. ' He is a fine man,' thought he, ' but there is cunning in his eye,' and then Blancandrin spoke. ' Let us understand each other plainly,' he said; 'is it your wish to be