ROLAND BECOMES A KNIGHT
 CHARLEMAGNE had a sister named Bertha, who was very much in love with a young knight, Milon by name.
Charlemagne knew that Milon was poor and obscure, and said to his sister, "Why do you desire so
unworthy a match? Your suitor is poor and unknown, and you would be laughed at in this court where
all the knights have many possessions and are well known for their bravery and many deeds of
 To this Bertha had but one answer and that was enough for her and the poor knight, Milon. "My lord
and king, my heart chooses Milon. I shall wed no other."
The king stormed at his sister and drove her from his court. "If you will choose Milon, then you
choose between him and me, and this court. Go live with him in his poverty and if you find
consolation in his love, you are welcome to it. I shall have none of you or him henceforth." And the
angry king sent his sister away, but she went gladly, for Milon was waiting outside.
For a number of years Bertha and her knight were very happy. Of course, they were poor and long
since forgotten by her brother, the king, and those who waited on him. But Bertha cared very little,
for was not Roland, her young son, the image of his father, and was not his father a brave and
gentle knight, even if he did not have the favor of the king?
Milon would say to his son, "Roland, you will some day be a knight, for you are nephew to King
Charlemagne; you must never forget your mother, who is a gentle lady, nor must you do anything
unworthy of a knight." The boy looked very solemn, and promised his father to do as he said.
Now Milon was at one time engaged in rescuing some persons from a dreadful flood. The waters
 were coming in vast waves and many lives were in danger. The brave Milon spurred his horse into the
angry waters, but was overcome in the rush of the flood and was carried beneath. He perished in the
knightly act of serving others, and poor Bertha and the young Roland were left alone in the world.
Bertha was at last reduced to great extremity of want and hunger. She had no food, while Charlemagne
was feasting with his lords not far away. Roland looked angrily into his mother's wasted face, and
thought bitterly of the king's abundance, and of his cruelty toward his sister, the boy's mother.
"I shall go to the king, my uncle, and tell him my mother needs food. I shall not be afraid, for she
is a gentle lady, and since my father is gone, I am the only knight she has to defend her."
So saying, Roland marched off to the castle, into the banquet hall, and up to the table where the
king was feasting. Without saying a word the boy took a dish of meat from the table and started away
The servants started to stop the lad, but the king, somewhat amused, called out, "Let the lad alone.
Such assurance as that betokens courage, and perhaps he needs the meat more than these here, who, by
my sword, have eaten enough."
 Soon Roland returned, and this time he marched boldly up to where the king was seated and took his
cup full of rich wine. This was a little more than Charlemagne had counted on, and so he challenged
the lad, saying, "What means this, my son, that you take the king's meat and then the king's wine?
Do you not know that this is the royal table?"
Roland, not a bit abashed, replied, "This meat and wine are for my mother, a gentle lady in
distress. I am her cupbearer, her page, and her knight. She is in need, and I am out for her succor.
Not having anything at home, I came to find it here."
"And who is your mother?" asked the king.
"My mother is the Lady Bertha, your sister, my lord. My father was the brave knight, Milon, now
dead. I am your nephew, Roland, who hopes some day to be a knight in your service." And Roland bowed
low with the reverence which his father had taught him was due the king.
The king was greatly moved. He had forgotten his sister entirely. Turning to the young Roland, he
ordered him to go to his mother and bring her at once to court. It was not long before Bertha
appeared. She and her son knelt before the king, who took her by the hand and raised her from her
 "My sister and my nephew," said the king, "my heart reproaches me for the wrongs I have done you
both. Bertha shall live in peace and plenty hereafter and Roland shall be a page in my service."
And thus Roland came to the court of Charlemagne.
Another version of the story is that Milon was not really drowned, but that he became reconciled to
Charlemagne, and came with Bertha to live at the king's' castle and followed him as a knight, and
that Roland was the squire of his own father. Either version makes a good story, and one may take
If we accept the latter story we find Milon and Bertha with Roland, now grown into a fine young
squire of fifteen or sixteen years of age, following his father in all his adventures.
Charlemagne heard that the robber knight of the forest of Ardennes had a priceless jewel which was
set in his shield. The king called his own knights together, and ordered them to go forth
separately, each with his own squire, or page, and find the robber knight. Having overcome the
robber in battle, the knight must bring the jewel to the king himself.
A day was set for the return of the knights whether
 they were successful or not, and the king promised to give each one a patient hearing. The knights
set forth, Milon among them, accompanied by Roland, his squire and armor bearer. The forest of
Ardennes was searched high and low, each knight hoping to meet the robber knight and win the jewel.
Milon spent many days in a vain search for the knight, when one day, exhausted by a long ride, he
dismounted from his horse, removed his heavy armor, and lay down under a tree. Soon he was fast
asleep with Roland keeping watch by his side.
It came into Roland's mind that he might win renown himself, if he could ever meet the robber knight
alone. Carefully he put on his father's armor, seized his sword, sprang on his horse, and rode into
the forest in search of adventures. He had not gone very far when he saw a gigantic horseman
approaching, and by the glittering stone set in his shield he recognized the robber of which all the
knights were in quest.
Up to this time the robber had been invincible. Roland called out to him, "Halt, Sir Knight, and
yield thee to my arms, or else prepare to meet my charge."
The robber knight laughed in scorn, lowered his visor, and placed his lance at rest. Roland prepared
for the charge, and put spurs to his horse. Both
 steeds sprang forward and the men came together in the forest with a great noise. For the first time
in his life the robber knight was unhorsed and fell to the ground.
In a great rage the knight sprang up and drew his sword. Roland quickly dismounted and met his
advance. For a long hour they fought, blows resounding on the armor, until both combatants were
nearly exhausted. By a gallant stroke the sword of Roland pierced the joints of the robber's armor
and the keen blade entered his bosom.
In a short while the robber was dead, and Roland, wrenching the jewel from the shield, concealed it
in his breast. Riding back to his father, who was still asleep, Roland took off his armor, and
removed all dust, and blood, and other signs of conflict. When the knight awoke he had no idea his
son had been engaged in a deadly combat.
Resuming the quest Milon soon came upon the dead body of the knight. "Ah! someone has been ahead of
me, and slain the robber, and taken his jewel. I shall now have to report to the king that while I
slept another was fighting his enemies," said he.
Sadly Milon rode back to the court, and waited for the other knights to return, wondering which one
had brought back the shining jewel. One by
 one they came in, but judging by their downcast looks none of them was victorious.
The day came for Charlemagne to receive them. Seated on his throne he bade the knights enter and
relate their adventures. One after another approached him, and all told him of how they had scoured
the forest, and had at last found the robber knight slain and the jewel gone, but no one knew who
the victorious knight was.
Milon came last of all. His brow was lowered, and he hesitated in his step. Behind him came Roland,
bearing a shield in the center of which shone the radiant jewel. Milon knew nothing of this, for
Roland had kept his secret.
Milon began his story, saying that he had also found the dead giant, and the jewel gone, but had no
idea who the knight was that had slain the robber.
The king laughed and said, "Sir Milon, look behind you and behold the jewel for which you have been
Looking around, to his astonishment he saw Roland bearing his shield, and the blazing stone in the
Roland now told his story, at which all were amazed, and some envious. The king, however, was
delighted, praised his nephew for his skill and
 bravery, and made him a knight. Roland became one of the most famous of the paladins that were
attached to the service of Charlemagne.
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