THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES 191
silver, and offer twenty other hostages, on condition he returns himself to France, leaving his rear-guard behind him. This, being the post of danger, will be claimed by his nephew Roland, whose comrade Oliver is always by his side. It will be easy to manage that the two Counts shall meet their deaths, and Roland and Oliver once dead the King will have no more heart for war.'
' Fair Lord,' replied Marsile, ' what shall I have to do in order to kill Roland ? '
' That I can easily tell you,' answered Ganelon. ' When Charlemagne has passed safely through the mountains, with the most part of his soldiers, his baggage and his hostages, then have a hundred thousand of your Infidels ready to fall upon Roland and his rear-guard of twenty thousand men. The Franks will fight hard, but they cannot stand against such numbers, though of their foes many will be left upon the field. Then lose not a moment, but give them battle a second time. They will be too few and too weak to fight long, and for the rest of your life you will have peace. If you kill Roland, you will have cut off the Emperor's right arm. Farewell to the splendid armies of the Franks; never more will such forces be gathered together; never will Charles wear again his golden crown, but all Spain shall be in peace.'
Marsile heard the words of Ganelon, and stooped and kissed his neck, and ordered his costliest treasures to be brought before him. Then he said : ' There is no further need of speech between us; swear that I shall find him in the rear-guard, and I shall swear that you shall have your revenge.' And Ganelon swore. But Marsile was not content with the oath that Ganelon made. He commanded that a copy of the Koran should be brought, the sacred book of Mahomet, and placed it on a chair of ivory, which stood under an olive tree. With his hand on the book Marsile also took his oath, that if among the rear-guard of Charlemagne's army he found Roland, he would fall upon him with all his host and compass his