188 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
avenged of Roland ? Then, by the beard of Mahomet, deliver him into our hands. King Marsile is a generous master, and knows how to repay those who serve him.' Ganelon heard his words, and bent his head in silence.
But the silence did not last long: before they had arrived at Saragossa, Ganelon had made an agreement with Blancandrin, that they would find some means of causing Roland to perish. This decided, they rode through the gates of the town, and dismounted from their horses. In the shadow of a pine, a throne was placed covered with soft silk from Alexandria, and on it sat he who was once the master of the whole of Spain. Twenty thousand Saracens stood around him, but not a sound was made, so eager they were to hear Charles's answer. Blancandrin advanced to the King's throne, leading Ganelon by the wrist. ' Greeting, great King,' said he ; t we delivered your message to Charles, and he raised his two hands to heaven, and answered nothing. But he has sent you one of his great Lords, and he will tell you if it is peace or no peace.'
'Let him speak,' replied Marsile, 'and we will listen.' Ganelon waited a little before he spoke, for he knew that one careless word might prove his own ruin. ' Greeting,' he said, when at last he had made ready his speech. ' This is the message sent you by Charlemagne. You must receive Holy Baptism, and Charles will allow you to do homage for half of Spain. The other half he gives to Roland, his nephew, and a proud neighbour you will find him. If these terms do not please you, he will lay siege to Saragossa, and will seize your person, and carry you to Aix, the capital of the Empire, where you will die a shameful death.' When he heard this, Marsile trembled with rage, and drawing a dart he would have thrown it at Ganelon had not someone held him from behind. Ganelon looked on, his hand on his sword, which he drew a little from its scabbard. ' Sword,' said he, ' you are sharp and bright. While I wear you at the Court of