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struck him a blow that brake the helm to shivers on his throbbing head. Nevertheless, Roland for all his pain took him tenderly down, and spake with much gentleness, saying, "Dear comrade, I fear that thou art grievously 5 wounded." Oliver said, "Thy voice is like Roland's voice; but I cannot see thee." Roland answered, "It is I, thy comrade." Then he said: "Forgive me if I smote thee. It is so dark that I cannot see thy face; give me thy hand; God bless thee, Roland; God bless Charles and France!" 10 So saying, he fell upon his face and died.

A heavy-hearted man was Roland; little cared he for his life since Oliver, his good comrade, was parted from him. Then he turned and looked for the famous rear guard of King Charles the Great. Only two men were 15 left besides himself.

Turpin the Archbishop, Count Walter, and Roland set themselves together to sell their lives as dearly as they might; and when the pagans ran upon them in a multitude with shouts and cries, Roland slew twenty, Count 20 Walter six, and Turpin five. Then the pagans drew back and gathered together all the remnant of their army, forty thousand horsemen and a thousand footmen with spears, and charged upon the three. Count Walter fell at the first shock. The Archbishop's horse was killed, and he, 25 being brought to earth, lay there dying, with four wounds. in his breast.

Then Roland took the horn and sought to wind it yet

again. Very feeble was the sound, yet Charles heard it away beyond the mountains, where he marched fast to help his guard. And the king said: "Good barons, great is Roland's distress; I know it by the sighing of the horn. Spare neither spur nor steed for Roland's sake." Then he commanded to sound all the trumpets long and loud; and the mountains tossed the sound from peak to peak, so that it was plainly heard down in the Valley of Roncesvalles.

The pagans heard the trumpets ringing behind the 10 mountains, and they said: "These are the trumpets of Charles the Great. Behold Charles cometh upon us with his host, and we shall have to fight the battle again if we remain. Let us rise up and depart quickly. There is but one man more to slay." Then four hundred of the bravest 15 rode at Roland; and he, spurring his weary horse against them, strove still to shout his battle cry, but could not, for voice failed him. And when he was come within spearcast, every pagan flung a spear at him, for they feared to go nigh him, and said, "There is none born of woman that 20 can slay this man." Stricken with twenty spears, his faithful steed dropped dead. Roland fell under him, his armor pierced everywhere with spearpoints. Stunned with the fall, he lay there in a swoon. The pagans came and looked on him, and gave him up for dead. Then they 2: left him and made all speed to flee before Charles should come. They hastened up the mountain sides, and left the

gloomy valley piled with dead, and fled away towards Spain.

Roland lifted his eyes and beheld the pagans fleeing up the mountain passes; and he was left alone among the 6 dead. Then in great pain he drew his limbs from underneath his horse, and got upon his feet, but scarce could stand. He dragged himself about the valley, and looked upon his dead friends and comrades. Round about each one there lay a full score of pagan corpses, and Roland 10 said, "Charles will see that the guard has done its duty." He came to where Oliver lay, and he lifted the body tenderly in his arms, saying, "Dear comrade, thou wast ever a good and gentle friend to me; better warrior never broke a spear, nor wielded sword; wise wert thou of 15 counsel, and I repent me that once only I hearkened not to thy voice. God rest thy soul. A sweeter friend and truer comrade no man ever had than thou." And in the Valley of Death, Roland wept for the last of his friends.

When he found death coming on him, Roland took 20 his sword Durendal in one hand, and his horn in the other, and crawled away about a bowshot to a green hillock, whereupon four marble steps were built beneath the trees. There he lay down in his agony. A certain pagan was plundering there among the dead, and watched till 25 Roland ceased to moan in his pain; then, thinking there was no more breath in him, the thief stole slowly up, and seeing the glitter of the hilt of Durendal, put forth his

hand and drew it from its sheath. Roland lifted his eyes and saw the thief bend over him with the sword in his hand. He seized the horn from beside him, and dealt the man a blow upon the crown that broke his skull.


Then he took Durendal into his hands, and prayed 5 that it might not fall into the power of his enemies. He said: "O Durendal, how keen of edge, how bright of blade thou art! God sent thee by his angel to King Charles, to be his captain's sword. Charles girt thee at my side. How many countries thou hast conquered for him in my 10 hands! O Durendal, though it grieves me sore, I had rather break thee than that pagan hands should wield thee against France." Then he prayed that God would now give him strength to break his sword; and lifting it in his hands, he smote mightily upon the topmost marble 15 step. The gray stone chipped and splintered, but the good blade broke not, neither was its edge turned. He smote the second step; the blade bit it, and leaped back, but blunted not, nor broke. The third step he smote with all his might; it powdered where he struck, but 20 the sword broke not, nor lost its edge. And when he could no more lift the sword, his heart smote him that he had tried to break the holy blade; and he said, “O Durendal, the angels will keep thee safe for Charles and France!"


Then Roland, when he felt death creep upon him, lay down and set his face toward Spain and toward his ene


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