Page:A book of myths.djvu/327

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search
This page has been validated.
271
ROLAND THE PALADIN

my golden cup stolen from me, be it done by ever so sturdy a robber. Tell me, who sent thee out to steal?"

And Roland, an erect, gallant, little figure, his hand still in the iron grip of the King, fearlessly and proudly gazed back into the eyes of Charlemagne.

"No one sent me," he said. "My mother lay very cold and still and would not speak, and she had said my father would come back no more, so there was none but me to seek her food. Give me the wine, I say! for she is so cold and so very, very white"—and the child struggled to free his hand that still held the cup.

"Who art thou, then?" asked Charlemagne.

"My name is Roland—let me go, I pray thee," and again he tried to drag himself free. And Charlemagne mockingly said:

"Roland, I fear thy father and mother have taught thee to be a clever thief."

Then anger blazed in Roland's eyes.

"My mother is a lady of high degree!" he cried, "and I am her page, her cupbearer, her knight! I do not speak false words!"—and he would have struck the King for very rage.

Then Charlemagne turned to his lords and asked—"Who is this child?"

And one made answer: "He is the son of thy sister Bertha, and of Milon the knight, who was drowned these three weeks agone."

Then the heart of Charlemagne grew heavy with remorse when he found that his sister had so nearly died