AD VENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE 265
shall know how to defend ourselves if the Unbelievers should seek to take the city by assault.'
William's heart bounded at her words; he took her in his arms, and promised that he himself would go, and more, that he would never lie soft nor eat delicately nor kiss the cheek of any lady, however fair, till he returned again to Orange.
Thus William Short Nose set forth and the next day passed through Orleans. There he met with his brother Ernaut, who had ridden home from escorting King Louis back to Paris. Ernaut promised his help and that of his father and brothers, but counselled William to go to Laon, where a great feast would be held and many persons would be assembled. The Count followed Ernaut's counsel, but refused the troop of Knights and men-at-arms which Ernaut offered him, liking rather to ride alone.
He made his entrance into Laon on Sunday, and the people laughed at him and made jests on his tall thin horse; but William let them laugh, and rode on until he reached the Palace. There he alighted under an olive tree, and, fastening his horse to one of the branches, took off his helmet and unbuckled his breastplate. The people stared as they passed by, but nobody spoke to him.
Someone told the King that a strange man without a squire or even a man-at-arms was sitting before the Palace under an olive tree. The King's face grew dark as he heard their tale, for he loved to keep his gardens for his own pleasure. ' Sanson,' he called to one of his guards, ' go and find out who this stranger is and whence he comes, but beware of bringing him hither.'
Sanson hastened to do his errand, and William answered : ' My name is one that is known to France. I am William Short Nose, and I come from Orange. My body is worn out with much riding; I pray you hold my horse until I have spoken to King Louis.'
' Noble Count,' replied Sanson, ' let me first return to