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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198 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
our Franks will fight hard, and with what joy! It was an ill day for the Unbelievers when they came here, for none, I tell you, none will escape death.'
' 0 Roland, I pray you sound your horn, and Charles will hear it as he passes the defiles, and the Franks, I will swear it, will come to our help.'
' Now God forbid,' said Roland, ' that through me my parents should be shamed, or that I should bring dishonour on the fair land of France. No; but my sword Durendal knows how to strike. The Unbelievers have come to their death, and they will find it.'
' I see no dishonour,' said Oliver. ' With my own eyes have I beheld the Saracens of Spain; the mountains and the valleys alike are full of them. And how few are we !'
' Then we shall have the more fighting,' answered Roland. ' God forbid that I should turn my Franks into cowards! Rather death than dishonour. The more we kill, the better the Emperor will love us.'
Roland was brave, but Oliver was wise also, and the souls of both were as high as their words. ' Look round you, and think for a moment,' said Oliver ; ' they are close to us, and Charles is far. Ah ! if you would only have sounded your horn, the King would have been here, and our troops would not have been in danger. The poor rear-guard will never more be again such as it is to-day.'
' You speak foolishly,' answered Roland. ' Cursed be he whose heart is afraid. We will be strong to hold our ground. From us will come the blows, from us the battle.'
When Roland saw that he must give battle to the Infidels, he called his Franks and bade Oliver stand beside him. ' Do not say these things, my friend and comrade,' said he. ' The Emperor has left us twenty thousand picked men, with not one craven heart amongst them. For our liege lord, one must be ready to suffer cold and heat, hunger and thirst, and cheerfully shed his blood and endure every ill. Strike with your lance, Oliver,
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