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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194 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
from their necks and swords in their hands, were riding silently through the mountain passes with the intent of hiding themselves in a wood till the moment came. There they were, and the Franks knew nothing of it, nor what would come.
Charles slept, and in his sleep he dreamed that Gane-lon took his stout lance of ash wood from his hands and brandished it in the air, then broke it with his fists. After this dream came another. He was no longer shut fast in by the mountains, but was at home in France, standing in his chapel at Aix. Here a bear appeared before him and bit so deep into his arm that it reached the bone. Then from the other side, from the Ardennes, there sprang a leopard and would have torn him in pieces, had not a greyhound come to his aid, and attacked first the bear and then the leopard. ' A fight! a fight!' cried the Franks, but they knew not which would be victorious. And all the while Charles slept soundly. With the dawn a thousand horns awoke the sleepers, and the clamour of a camp began. 'My Lords,' said Charles, calling all his Barons together, 'you see these narrow defiles through which we must pass ? To whom shall I give the com­mand of the rear-guard which must protect the rest of my army ?'
'To Eoland, to Eoland my stepson,' cried Ganelon. ' No Knight is so brave as he, and we may trust to him the safety of our host.' Charles listened and looked him in the face. 'You must be the devil himself,' he said, ' for you seem as if your body was shaken by some evil passion. If Roland goes to the rear, who then shall com­mand the van ?'
' Ogier, the Dane,' answered Ganelon. ' There is no better man.'
When Count Eoland heard his name he pressed for­ward. 'Fair stepfather, I owe you much love for pro­posing me to lead the rear-guard of the army. Charles the King shall lose nothing through me ; not a horse or a
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