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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254 AD VENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE
and they were many. The Franks whom he led followed after him, and slew the Pagans as they came on; but the Christians were in comparison but a handful, and their enemies as the sands of the sea. The young warriors whom William had brought with him were prisoners or dying men, and from far he saw Vivian, whom he loved the best, charging a multitude with his naked sword. 'Montjoie! Montjoie!' cried he, '0 noble Count! 0 Bertrand my cousin, come to my aid! 0 my Lady Gibourc, never more shall my eyes look upon you!'
Bertrand heard and pressed to his side. ' Kide to the river,' he said, 'and I will protect you with my life'; but Vivian was too weak even to sit on his horse, and fell half fainting at the feet of Bertrand.
At this moment there rode at them a large troop of Saracens, headed by their King Haucebier, and the Christian Knights knew that all was lost. 'It is too late now for me to think of life,' said Vivian, 'but I will die righting,' and again they faced their enemies till Ber-trand's horse was killed under him. Then Vivian seized the horse of a dead Infidel, and thrust the bridle into Bertrand's hand: ' Fly, for God's sake, it is your only chance. Where is my uncle ? If he is dead, we have lost the battle.'
But Bertrand did not fly, though every instant made the danger more deadly. ' If I forsake you, if I take flight,' he said, 'I shall bring eternal shame upon my­self.'
' No, no,' cried Vivian, ' seek my uncle down there in the Aliscans, and bring him to my aid.'
'Never till my sword breaks,' answered Bertrand, and laid about him harder than ever. And to their joy they heard a war cry sounding in their ears, and five Frankish Counts, cousins of Vivian and of Bertrand, galloped up. Fight they did with all their might, but none fought like Vivian. ' Heavens ! what a warrior !' cried the Counts as they saw his blows, while the Saracens asked themselves
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