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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210 THE BATTLE OF RONCEVALLES
God and of Charles. The cry was heard by Roland, who was slowly coining back to life, and he rose to his feet and went to the dead Archbishop and crossed his hands upon his breast. ' Ah, noble Knight,' he said, 'in God's hands I leave you, for never since the Apostles has He had a more faithful servant. May your soul hence­forth be free from sorrow, and may the Gates of Paradise stand wide for you to enter in!'
As he spoke, Roland knew that his own death wTas not far off. He made his peace with God, and took his horn in one hand and Durendal in the other. Then he mounted a small hill where stood two pine trees, but fell almost unconscious as soon as he reached the top. But a Saracen who had watched him, and had feigned to be dead, sprang up and seeing him cried, ' Conquered! he is conquered, the nephew of Charles ! and his famous sword will be carried into Arabia'; so he grasped Durendal tightly in his fist, and pulled Roland's beard in derision. If the Saracen had been wise he would have left Roland's beard alone, for at his touch the Count was brought back to consciousness. He felt his sword being taken from him, and with his horn, which was always beside him, he struck the Saracen such a blow on his helmet that he dropped Durendal, and sank dead to the earth. 'Coward,' said Roland, 'who has told you that you might dare to set hands on Roland, living or dead ? You were not worthy a blow from my horn.' Still death was pressing closer and closer, and Roland knew it. He rose panting for breath, his face as white as if he was already in the grave, and took Durendal out of its scabbard. Ten times he struck it hard on a brown rock before him, but the steel never gave way. ' 0 my faithful Durendal, do you know that the hour of our parting has come ? ' he-cried. ' You have gained many battles for me, and won Charles many kingdoms. You shall never serve another master after I am dead.' Again he smote the rock with all his force, but the steel of Durendal glanced aside.
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