278 ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE
and cherish him, and bring him with you to the Aliscans. For with his staff he will slay many Pagans.'
' Yes,' answered Kainouart, ' wherever I appear the Pagans will fall dead at the sight of me.' Aimeri and William laughed to hear him, but ere four days were past they had learnt what he was worth.
Eainouart went back to the kitchen and slept soundly, but as he had drunk much wine the cooks and scullions thought to play jokes upon him, and lighted some wooden shavings with which to burn his moustache. At the first touch of the flame Rainouart leapt to his feet, seized the head cook by his legs, flung him on to the blazing fire, and turned for another victim, but they had all fled.
At daybreak they went to William to complain of the death of their chief, and to pray for vengeance on his murderer. If the Count would not forbid him the kitchen, not a morsel of food would thev cook. But William only laughed at their threats, and said, ' Beware henceforth how you meddle with Rainouart, or it will cost you dear. Did I not forbid anyone to mock at him, and do you dare to disobey my orders ? Lady Gibourc, take Rainouart to your chamber, and keep him beside you.'
So the Countess went to the kitchen to look for Rainouart and found him sitting on a bench, his head leaning against his staff. She sat down by him and said graciously, ' Brother, come with me. I will give you my ermine pelisse and a mantle of marten, and we will have some talk together.'
' Willingly,' answered Rainouart, ' the more as I can hardly keep my hands off these low-born scoundrels.'
He followed Gibourc to her room, and then she questioned him about himself and the days of his childhood. '
' Have you brothers or sisters ? ' asked she.
' Yes,' he answered, ' beyond the sea I have a brother who is a King, and a sister who is more beautiful than a