268 ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE
the Countess was seated next the Queen, while the Knights placed themselves on the floor of the hall. And William sat also, but alone and apart, nursing his anger.
At last he rose, and, advancing to the middle of the floor, he said with a loud voice: ' Heaven protect my mother, my father, my brothers, and my friends; but may His curse alight on my sister and on the King, who have no hearts, and have left me to be the butt of all the mockers of the Court. By all the Saints! were not my father sitting next him, this sword should ere now have cloven his skull.' The King listened, pale with fright, and the Queen wished herself at Paris or at Senlis. The rest whispered to each other,' William is angry, something will happen!'
When Ermengarde and Aimeri saw their son standing before them great joy filled their souls. They left their seats and flung themselves on his neck, and William's brother also ran to greet him. The Count told them how he had been vanquished at the Aliscans, how Vivian had been killed, and he himself had fled to Orange, and of the distress in which he had left Gibourc. 'It was at her bidding I came here to ask aid from Louis, the base King, but from the way he has treated me I see plainly that he has no heart. By St. Peter ! he shall repent before I go, and my sister also.'
The King heard and again waxed cold with fear; the Nobles heard and whispered low, ' Who is strong enough to compass this matter ? No man, be he the bravest in France ever went to his help and came back to tell the tale. Let him abandon Orange, and let the King give him instead the Vermandois.'
It was the Lady Ermengarde who broke the silence. '0 God,' she cried, 'to think that the Franks should be such cowards! And you, Sir Aimeri, has your courage failed you also ? Have no fear, fair son William, I have still left gold that would fill thirty chariots, and I will