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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THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES 189
this King, the Emperor can never say that I have died alone in a foreign land. But before I die you shall drink the blood of the best in his army.'
The Infidels who were standing by prayed Marsile to go back to his seat in order that the matter might be decided. ' You put yourself in the wrong,' said the old Caliph, ' when you wish to strike this Frank.'
' Sire,' answered Ganelon, 'I will suffer this insult patiently, but not all the treasure of your kingdom should hinder my delivering the message of my master.' With that he threw from his shoulders his mantle of zibeline, but kept light hold of his sword. ' See,' said the Saracens, ' did you ever behold a prouder warrior ? ' Ganelon drew near the King and repeated the message that Charles had given him. When he had finished he held out the letter, and Marsile, who had studied in the best schools of learn­ing, broke the seal and read it to himself. ' Listen to this, my Lords,' he cried, ' and say if ever you heard such mad­ness ! Charles bids me think of Basil and Bazan, whose heads I cut off, up there in the mountains. And if I wish my own life to be spared, I am to send him my uncle, the Caliph, to deal with as he thinks fit.' The Saracens heard the message in grim silence, which was broken by the voice of the King's son. ' Ganelon must be mad indeed to give such a message as that,' said he, ' and he deserves death for his boldness. Deliver him to me, and I will do justice on him.' Ganelon understood his words but said nothing, only he quietly placed his back against a pine tree, and played with the hilt of his sword.
King Marsile rose and went into his orchard, followed by his best councillors, Jorfalon his son, his uncle the Caliph, and others whom he most trusted. ' Summon the Frank also,' Blancandrin whispered in his ear, ' for he has promised to throw in his lot with us.' ' Bring him,' answered the King, and Blancandrin brought him into the orchard, where the web of treason was woven.
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