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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and looked around. Of all the twenty thousand men, not one was left except himself, and Turpin and Gautier. And these three placed themselves shoulder to shoulder, and sent many an Infidel to join his dead brothers. But the wounds they received in their bodies were without number, and at length the Archbishop tottered and fell. But they had not slain him yet; with a mighty struggle he rose to his feet and looked round for Roland. ' I am not conquered yet,' he said ; 'a brave man dies but never surrenders.' Then with his good sword he rushed into the melee dealing death around him. Roland fought as keenly as his friend, but the moments seemed long till Charles brought them help. Again he sounded his horn, though the wound in his head burst out afresh with his effort. And the Emperor heard it, and stopped for an instant on his march. ' My Lords,' he said, ' things are going badly with us ; we shall lose my nephew Roland to-day, for I know by the way he blows his horn that he has not long to live. "Spur your horses, for I would fain see him before he dies. And let every trumpet in the army sound its loudest!' The Unbelievers heard the noise of the trumpets, which echoed through the moun­tains and valleys, and they whispered fearful]y to each other, ' It is Charles who is coming, it is Charles !' It was their last chance, and a band of their best warriors rode straight at Roland. At that sight the strength rushed back into his veins, and he waited for them proudly. 'I will fight beside you,' he said to Turpin, ' and till I am dead I will never leave you. Let them strike as hard as they will; Durendal knows how to strike back.'
' Shame be upon every man who does not fight his best,' answered the Archbishop, 'for this is our last bat­tle. Charles draws near, and will avenge us.'
The Infidels said afterwards that an army could not have wrought the ruin that was done that day by the Archbishop and Roland. Veillantif received thirty wounds in his body and then fell dead under his master.
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