THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES 199
as I shall strike with Durendal, the sword which was given me by the King himself. And if I am slain, the man who wins it may say, " it was the sword of a noble vassal."'
Then from a little hill Turpin the Archbishop spoke to them. 'Charles has left us here; he is our King, and it is our duty to die for him. Christianity is in danger, and you must defend it. You cannot escape a battle; then fight, and ask God's pardon for your sins. In His Name, I will give you absolution, and already they wait for you in Paradise.' The Franks got off their horses and knelt on the ground, and the Archbishop blessed them. After this they mounted again, and placed themselves in order of battle.
Like lightning Roland on his horse Veillantif swept along the defiles, his face bright and smiling, his lance in rest. Oliver his friend was close behind him, and the Franks said to each other, ' Look at our champion !' He glanced proudly at the Infidels, but when his eyes fell upon the Franks they were soft and gentle. ' Go slowly, noble Barons,' said he; 'the Unbelievers to-day are seeking tlieir martyrdom, and you will find richer booty than ever King of France did before.'
' Words of mine are useless,' said Oliver; ' you would not let Charles know of our peril, so you cannot blame him for our danger. Ride as hard as you can, and think only of two things, how best to give and receive blows. And do not forget the battle cry of King Charles.'
'Montjoie ! Montjoie !' shouted the Franks, as the two armies came together with a crash.
It were long to tell of that battle and of the brave deeds that were done both by Christians and Unbelievers. Roland was there where the strife was hardest, and struck with his lance till the wood snapped. Then he drew Durendal from the scabbard and drove a bloody path through the ranks of the Infidels. Oliver and the Twelve Peers were not far behind him, and the ground was