| Stories of Roland Told to the Children|
|by H. E. Marshall|
|Ten illustrated stories from the song of Roland, simply but effectively told, relating how Roland and Oliver died, of Charlemagne's vengeance on Marsil the Saracen and of the punishment of the traitor Ganelon. The treatment is romantic, the style picturesque. Ages 8-10 |
THE PUNISHMENT OF GANELON
 The Emperor sat upon his throne with all his wise men around
him, and into the hall came Aude, the fair sister of Oliver.
At the foot of the throne she knelt. "Sire," she said,
"where is Roland, whose bride I am?"
Full of grief the Emperor bent his head. Tears stood in his
eyes, and at first he could not speak. Then gently taking
Aude by the hand, "Dear sister," he said, "dear friend, thou
askest news of a dead man. But grieve not. Thou art not left
without a lover. Thou shalt be the bride of Louis, my son."
Then Aude stood up. Her face was very pale. With both hands
she pushed back her golden hair from her face. "What
strange words are these?" she said. "If
 Roland be dead, what
is any man to me? Please God and His saints and angels, I
too may die." And so speaking she fell at the Emperor's feet.
Charlemagne thought that she had but fainted, and springing
up, he lifted her in his arms. But her head fell back upon
her shoulder, and he saw that she was dead. Then calling
four countesses he bade them carry her to a convent near.
And so tended by the greatest ladies in the land, fair Aude
was laid to rest with chant, and hymn, and great state and
pomp as befits a hero's bride.
He saw that she was dead
Then, with chains upon his hands and feet, Ganelon was
brought into the hall of judgment. Sitting upon his throne,
the Emperor spoke to his wise men who were gathered around
him, and told them all the tale of Ganelon's treachery, and
of how for gold he had betrayed his comrades.
Proud and haughty as ever, Ganelon stood before his judges.
"It is true," he said; "I will never deny it. I hated
Roland, for his riches made me wrathful against him. I
 sought to bring him to shame and death. But I do not admit
that it was treason."
"Of that we shall be the judges," said the Franks.
Tall and straight and proud, Ganelon stood before the
Emperor. With haughty looks he eyed his judges, and then his
thirty kinsmen who stood near him. "Hear me, barons," he
cried, in a bold, loud voice. "When I was with the army of
the Emperor, I served him in faith and love. But Roland his
nephew hated me. He condemned me to death, yea, to a very
miserable death, in sending me to the court of Marsil. That
I escaped that death I owe to mine own skill. And I defied
Roland, I defied Oliver and all his companions, before the
face of Charlemagne and his barons. Well knew the Emperor of
that defiance. It was just vengeance, then, that I took. Of
no treason am I guilty."
"We shall judge of that," said the Franks. And so they
passed into the council chamber.
Then when Ganelon saw that it was like
 to go ill with him,
he gathered his thirty kinsmen about him, and begged them to
plead for him. But it was chiefly in Pinabel, his nephew,
that he trusted, for he was wise and could plead well, and
as a good soldier there was none like him. "In thee do I
trust," said Ganelon, "thou art he who must save me from
death and shame."
"I will be thy champion," replied Pinabel. "If any Frank say
that thou art a traitor, I will give him the lie with the
steel of my sword."
Then Ganelon fell upon his knees and kissed Pinabel's hand.
And when all the wise men and barons were gathered together,
Pinabel pleaded so well for Ganelon that at last they said,
"Let us pray the Emperor to pardon Ganelon this once.
Henceforward he will serve him in love and faith. Roland is
dead. Not all the gold or all the silver in the world can
bring him to life again. To fight about it, that were
Only one knight, called Thierry, would not
 agree. "Ganelon
is a traitor worthy of death," he said. But the others would
not listen to him, and they all returned to Charlemagne, to
tell him what they had decided. "Sire," they said, "we come
to beg thee to set Ganelon free. He is a true knight, though
this once he hath done ill. He repents him, and will
henceforth serve thee in love and faith. Roland is dead, and
not all the gold or silver in the world can bring him back
When the Emperor heard these words, his face grew dark with
anger. "Ye are all felons," he cried. Then dropping his head
upon his breast, "Unhappy man that I am," he moaned, "to be
thus forsaken of all."
Out of the crowd stepped Thierry. He was slim and slight,
but very knightly to look upon. "Sire," he cried, "thou art
not forsaken of all. By my forefathers I have a right to be
among the judges in this cause. What quarrel lay between
Roland and Ganelon hath nought to do with this. Ganelon, I
say, is a felon. Ganelon is a traitor. Ganelon is a liar.
Let him be
 hanged and his body thrown to the dogs. Such is
the punishment of traitors. And if any of his kin say I lie,
I am ready to prove the truth of my words with my good sword
which hangeth by my side."
"Well spoken! well spoken!" cried the Franks.
Then before the Emperor, Pinabel advanced. He was tall and
strong, and with his sword most skilful. "Sire," he cried,
"thine is the right to decide this cause. Thierry hath dared
to judge in it. I say he lieth. Battle thereon will I do," and so speaking he flung his glove on the ground.
"Good," said Charlemagne, well pleased. "But I must have
hostages. Thirty of Ganelon's kinsmen shall be held in ward
until this jousting be done."
Then Thierry too drew off his glove and gave it to the
Emperor. For him also thirty hostages were held in ward
until it should be seen who should have right in this
Beyond the walls of Aix there was a fair meadow, and there
the champions met. All
 around there were seats set so that
the knights and barons might look on, and in the middle of
them was Charlemagne's throne.
The champions were both clad in new and splendid armour, the
trumpets sounded, and springing to horse they dashed upon
each other. Fiercely they fought. Their shields were dinted
by many a blow, their armour battered and broken, and at
last they met with such a shock that both were unhorsed and
fell to the ground.
"Oh, Heaven!" cried
Charlemagne, "show me which hath right." Then
he remembered his dream of the bear and his thirty
brethren, and of how the hound from out his palace hall had
grappled with the greatest of them.
Both knights sprang lightly from their fall and began to
fight on foot. "Yield thee, Thierry," cried Pinabel, "and I
will henceforth be thy man and serve thee in faith and love.
All my treasure will I give to thee, if thou but pray the
Emperor to forgive Ganelon."
Thierry, "shame be to me
 should I think
thereon. Let God decide between me and thee this day."
So they fought on.
"Pinabel," said Thierry presently, "thou art a true knight.
Thou art tall and strong, and all men know of thy courage,
so yield thee, and make thy peace with Charlemagne. As to
Ganelon, let justice be done on him, and let us never more
speak his name."
"Nay," replied Pinabel, "God forbid that I should so forsake
my kinsman, and to mortal man I will never yield. Rather let
me die than earn such disgrace."
So once again they closed in fight. Thicker and faster fell
the blows. Their chain-mail was hacked to pieces. The jewels
of their helmets sparkled on the grass. Thierry was wounded
in the face. Blood blinded him, but raising his sword with
all his remaining strength, he brought it crashing down on
For a moment the knight waved his sword wildly in the air.
Then he fell to the ground dead. The fight was over.
 "Now by the judgment of God, is it proved that Ganelon is a
traitor," cried the Franks. "He deserves to be hanged, both
he and all his kindred who have answered for him."
And as all the people cheered the champion of Roland's
cause, Charlemagne rose from his throne, and going to him
took him in his arms and kissed him, and threw his royal
mantle around his shoulders. Then very tenderly his squires
disarmed the wounded knight, set him upon a gently pacing
mule, and led him back in triumph to Aix.
Once again Charlemagne called all his wise men and barons
together. "What shall be done with the hostages who pled for
Ganelon?" he asked.
"Let them all die the death," replied the Franks.
Then the Emperor called an old provost to him. "Go," he said,
"hang them all on the gallows there. And if one escape, by
my long white beard, thou shalt die the death."
"None shall escape," replied the provost, "trust me." Then
taking with him a hundred
 sergeants he hanged the thirty
high upon the gallows tree.
But a still more fearful death was to be the fate of the
traitor Ganelon himself. Bound hand and foot, he was led
through the town riding upon a common cart-horse, while the
people cursed him as he passed. And beyond the walls, where
his champion had fought and died for him, he was torn to
pieces by wild horses.
The people cursed him as he passed
And thus in fearful wise was Ganelon repaid for his
treachery, and thus was Roland avenged.
Now when the Emperor's anger was satisfied, he called all
his bishops together. "In my house," he said, "there is a
prisoner of noble race. 'Tis Bramimonde the Saracen Queen.
She hath been taught in grace, and hath opened her heart to
the true light. Let her now be baptized, so that her soul
may be saved."
Then many noble ladies were gathered together to be sponsors
for the Queen, and a great crowd of knights and nobles came
too, and Bramimonde was baptized and became
 Christian, and
was no longer called Bramimonde, but Julienne.
Then at last had the Emperor rest. The long day was over,
quiet night came, and Charlemagne lay down to sleep. But as
he lay in his vaulted chamber the angel Gabriel stood beside
him. "Charlemagne, Charlemagne," he called, "gather all the
armies of thy kingdom. March quickly to the land of Bire to
help the Christian King Vivien, for there the heathen
besiege him in his city and the Christians cry aloud for
Then the Emperor turned upon his couch and wept. He longed
for rest from his great labours, and yet he could not
disobey the command.
"Alas," he cried, "what a life of toil is mine!"
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