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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200 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
red from the corpses of the pagans. ' AVell fought, well fought!' cried the Archbishop, ' Montjoie, Montjoie !'
Oliver seemed to be everywhere at once. His lance was broken in two, and there was only the head and a splinter remaining, but it dealt more death blows than the sword of many another man. 'What are you doing, comrade ?' cried Roland, when for a moment their horses touched. ' It is not wood that is needed in this bat­tle, but well-tempered steel! Where is your sword Haute-clair, with its guard of gold and its handle of crystal ?'
' I have no time to draw it,' said Oliver. ' There are too many blows to strike.'
Fiercer and fiercer grew the combat; thicker and thicker the corpses lay on the ground. Who could count the Franks who were stretched there, never more to see their wives or their mothers, or the comrades that awaited them in the defiles ? But the number of the dead Sara­cens was greater even than theirs. And while they fought on Spanish soil, a strange tempest arose in France, thunder and wild winds, and a trembling of the earth; walls fell down, and at mid-day there was darkness. Men whispered to each other, ' It is the end of the world.' No, no; the end of all things was not yet, it was nature mourning for the death of Roland. At length the Saracens turned and fled, and the Franks pursued them, and Margaris the Valiant was left alone. His lance was broken, his shield pierced with holes, his sword-blade bloody, while he himself was sorely wounded. Heavens ! what a warrior he would have made if he had only been a Christian. He rode fast to Marsile the King, and cried to him to mount his horse, and rally his men, and bring up fresh soldiers to deal the Franks a last blow, while they were exhausted from the long fight. ' It will be easy to revenge the thousands that they have slain,' said he; ' but if you let them slip now the tide of battle may turn against us.'
The King Marsile sent for fresh forces, and at sight
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