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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porter's words, and she left the Palace and mounted the battlements, where she called across the fosse, ' Warrior, what is your will ? '
' Oh, lady!' answered he, ' open the gate, and that quickly. Twenty thousand Saracens are close upon my track ; if they reach me, I am a dead man.'
' You cannot enter,' replied Gibourc. ' I am alone here except for this porter, a priest, a few children, and some ladies whose husbands are all at the war. Neither gate nor wicket will be opened until the return of my beloved lord, William the Count.' Then William bowed his head for a moment, and two tears ran down his cheeks.
' My lady, I am William himself,' said he. ' Do you not know me ? '
' Infidel, you lie,' replied Gibourc. ' Take off your helmet, and let me see who you are !'
But the Count in his thought felt the earth trembling under his feet from the step of the accursed ones. 'Noble Countess,' cried he, 'this is no time to parley. Look round you! Is not every hill covered with Pagans ?'
' Ah, now I know you are not William,' answered she, ' for all the Pagans in the world would never have stirred him with fear. By St. Peter ! neither gate nor wicket shall be opened till I have seen your face. I am alone and must defend myself. The voices of many men are alike.'
Then the Count lifted his helmet: ' Lady, look and be content. I am William himself. Now let me in.'
Gibourc knew that it was indeed the Count who had returned, and was about to order the gates to be opened when there appeared in sight a troop of Saracens escort­ing two hundred prisoners, all of them young Knights, and thirty ladies with fair white faces. Each one was loaded with chains, and they cowered under the blows of their captors. Their cries and prayers for mercy reached the
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