274 ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE
rest, eager to avenge their comrades' death, prepared to overcome him with numbers, and in spite of his strength it might have gone ill with Rainouart had not Aimeri de ISTarbonne. hearing the noise, forbade more brawling.
Count William was told of the unseemly scuffle, and ashed the King who and what the young man was who could keep at bay so many of his fellows. 'I bought him once at sea,' said Louis, ' and paid a hundred marks for him. They pretend that he is the son of a Saracen, but he will never reveal the name of his father. Not knowing what to do with him, I sent him to the kitchen.'
' Give him to me, King Louis,' said William, smiling, 'I promise you he shall have plenty to eat.'
' Willingly,' answered the King.
Far off in the kitchen Eainouart knew nothing of what was passing between the King and the Count, and his soul chafed at the sound of the horses' hoofs, and at the scraps of talk he heard let fall by the Knights, who were seeing to the burnishing of their armour before they started to fight the Unbelievers. 'To think,' he said to himself, ' that I, who am of right King of Spain, should be loitering here, heaping logs on the fire and skimming the pot. But let King Louis look to himself! Before a year is past I will snatch the crown from his head.'
When the army had finished its preparations and was ready to march he made up his mind what to do, and it was thus that he sought out William in the great hall. ' Noble Count, let me come with you, I implore you. I can help to look after the horses and cook the food, and if at any time blows are needed I can strike as well as any man.'
' Good fellow,' answered William, who wished to try what stuff he was made of, 'you dream idle dreams! How could you, who have passed your clays in the warmth of the kitchen, sleeping on the hearth when you were not busy turning the spit—how could you bear all