256 AD VENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE
God, you alone can save me. My Lady Gibourc, shall I ever again behold you ? My good horse,' added he,' you are very tired. If you had had only five hours' rest, I would have led you to the charge; but I see plainly that I can get no help from you, and I cannot blame you for it, as you have served me well all day, and for this I thank you greatly. If ever we reach Orange you shall wear no saddle for twenty days, your food shall be the finest corn, and you shall drink out of a golden trough. But how should I bear it if the Pagans captured you and carried you to Spain ?'
And the horse understood as well as a man, and he threw up his head, and pawed the ground, and his strength came back to him as of old. At this sight William Short Nose felt more glad than if he had been given fourteen cities.
But no sooner had he entered a valley that led along the road to Orange than he saw a fresh body of Pagans blocking one end. He turned to escape into another path, but in front of him rode a handful of his enemies. ' By the faith that I swore to my dear Lady Gibourc,' he said, ' I had better die than never strike a blow,' and so went straight at Telamon, their leader, on his horse Marchepierre. 'William!' cried the Saracen, 'this time you will not escape me.' But the sun was in his eyes, and his sword missed his aim. Before he could strike another blow William had borne him from his horse and galloped away on Bausant.
The mountain that he was climbing now was beset with Infidels, like all the rest, and William looked in vain for a way of escape. He jumped from his horse and rubbed his flanks, saying to him the while, ' Bausant, what will you do ? Your sides are all bloody, and you can scarcely stand; but remember, if once you fall it means my death.' At these words Bausant neighed, pricked up his ears and shook himself, and as he did so the blood seemed to flow strongly in his veins, as of old.