ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE 267
William heard and vowed vengeance. But if the King and the courtiers had no hearts, in his need a friend came to him, Guimard, a citizen of Laon, who took the Count home and offered him rich food. But because of his vow to the Lady Gibourc, he would only eat coarse bread, and drink water from the spring; and as soon as it was light he rose up from his bed of fresh hay, and dressed himself. ' Where are you going ?' asked his host.
' To the Palace, to entreat the aid of the King, and woe be to him who tries to stop me.'
' May God protect you, Sir,' answered Guimard. ' Today the King crowns Blanchefleur, your sister, who no doubt loves you well. And he gives her the Vermandois for her dower, the richest land in all fair France, but a land that is never at peace.'
' Well,' said William, ' I will be present at the ceremony. Indeed they cannot do without me, for all France is under my care, and it is my right to bear her standard in battle. And let them beware how they move me to wrath, lest I depose the King of France and tear the crown from his head.'
The Count placed a breastplate under his jerkin and hid his sword under his cloak. The gates of the Palace opened before him and he entered the vaulted hall. It was filled with the greatest Nobles in the land, and ladies with rich garments of silk and gold. Lords and ladies both knew him, but not one gave him welcome — not even his sister, the Queen. His fingers played with his sword, and he had much ado not to use it. But while his wrath was yet kindling the heralds announced that his father Aimeri had come.
The Lord of ISTarbonne stepped on to the grass with Ermengarde, his noble Countess, his four sons, and many servants. King Louis and the Queen hastened to meet them, and amid cries of joy they mounted the steps into the hall. Aimeri sat beside the King of Saint-Denis, and