ADVENTURES OF WILLIAM SHORT NOSE 281
fairy,' and as he spoke he bent his head. Something in her heart told Gibourc that this might be her brother, but she only asked again, ' Where do you come from ? '
' Lady,' he replied, ' I will answer that question the day I come back from the battle which William shall have won, thanks to my aid.'
Gibourc kept silence, but she opened a chest and drew from it a white breastplate that had belonged to the Emir Tournefer, her uncle, which was so finely wrought that no sword could pierce it. Likewise a helmet of steel and a sword that could cut through iron more easily than a scythe cuts grass. ' My friend,' she said, ' buckle this sword to your left side. It may be useful to you.' Rainouart took the sword and drew it from its scabbard, but it seemed so light that he threw it down again. ' Lady,' he cried, ' what good can such a plaything do me ? But with my staff between my hands there is not a Pagan that can stand up against me, and if one escapes then let Count AVilliam drive me from his door.'
At this Gibourc felt sure this was indeed her brother, but she did not yet like to ask him more questions, and in her joy and wonder she began to weep. 'Lady Countess,' said Rainouart, ' do not weep. As long as my staff is whole William shall be safe.'
' My friend, may Heaven protect you,' she answered, ' but a man without armour is soon cut down; one blow will be his death. So take these things and wear them in battle,' and she laced on the helmet, and buckled the breastplate, and fastened the sword on his thigh. ' If your staff breaks, it may serve you,' said she.
Rainouart's heart was proud indeed when the armour was girded on him, and he sat himself down well pleased at William's table. The Knights vied with each other in pouring him out bumpers of wine, and after dinner every man tried to lift his iron-bound staff, but none could raise it from the ground, except William himself, who by putting forth all his strength lifted it the height of a foot.