Gateway to the Classics: Stories of Charlemagne by Alfred J. Church
Stories of Charlemagne by  Alfred J. Church

Of Reynaud's End

I t must now be told in a few words what Reynaud did in the Holy Land, and what befell him afterwards.

First, then, when he was come to the city of Constantinople, he lighted by chance on his cousin Mawgis, who was lying sick in a certain house. So much did Mawgis rejoice to see Reynaud, that he was straightway made whole of the sickness that he had. Then the two went on together, and coming to Jerusalem, did excellent service for the true faith, delivering the city out of the hand of the Sultan of Persia, who had taken it by treachery.

This done the two departed, for they would not take any reward, and came to Rome. There they confessed their sins to the Pope, and having received absolution, made their way with all the speed they could to the city of Ardennes, where the brethren and all the people received them gladly.

Reynaud said, "I marvel much that I see not here either my wife or my children." Richard answered, "Your sons are at Montalban in all health and prosperity." "That is well," said Reynaud, but perceiving that his brethren were troubled, he bade them tell him the truth, for "I see," said he, "that you have heavy tidings." Then said Alard, "We may not hide from you that your wife, the Lady Clare, is dead. For when you left, she sorrowed continually, weeping both by day and by night, and so wasted away that she died."

Reynaud said, "Take me now to the place where you buried her." So they took him to the church wherein was her sepulchre. As he stood there weeping, there came to him his children, for they had been brought from Montalban, and kneeled down before him. And Reynaud kissed them and said, "See that you be good men, for I fear that I shall not be long with you."

Ten days afterwards he and his two sons and Mawgis departed from Ardennes, and came to Montalban. As for Mawgis, he returned to the Hermitage where he had dwelt at the first, and died there after seven years, being much honoured as a holy man.

Not long after the Duke Aymon died, bequeathing much wealth to his children. All this Reynaud divided among his brethren, keeping for himself the castle of Montalban, and this for a time only, for he was resolved to give up all worldly things.

In Montalban, therefore, he dwelt awhile, with his two sons, teaching them and training them in all honourable and godly ways. When he saw that they were each instructed in arms and in all other things that a good knight should know, he bade his steward furnish them with goodly clothing and arms and all other things needful. This done, he charged them that they should bear themselves honourably. "Be courteous," he said, "to all ladies; reverence those above you; be ready to help those that are in need; love your neighbour; so shall you have praise of all men." And when he had said these words, he bade them farewell, not without tears.

How these two fared at the King's Court, how they were in great favour with the King, and how they overcame their enemies—for the children of a certain lord that had hated their father sought to do them an injury—cannot be told in this place. Let it suffice to say that they prospered exceedingly.

Now must be told the end of Reynaud. When he saw that his sons were well established in dignity, he departed from Montalban and journeyed to the city of Cologne, in which city there was now in course of building a very fair church. He said to the master-mason, "Let me now serve the masons with such things as they need." The master-mason said, "Sir, you are more like to a king than a labourer, and it shames me to set you to such work." Reynaud answered, "Say not so; I will serve with a good will." And the man was well content to have it so.

After a while, the master-mason said to him, "See you those poor men that seek to carry a stone yonder? Go you and help them, for they are but weaklings." So Reynaud went; he said to the men, "Go and do what else is appointed of you, for I will deal with this stone." So he carried the stone to its place, though it were of such a bigness that four men could scarcely handle it. And after this he fetched other stones and mortar, and these in such plenty that the masons had much ado to deal with them.

When it was evening the masons came to be paid, and each man's wage was five pennies. But when the master-mason saw Reynaud, he said, "You shall have twenty pence, for you have laboured so as I have never seen any man labour. And you shall have as much every day." "Nay," answered Reynaud, "give me one penny only, that I may have wherewithal to keep me, for I work not for wages, but for the love of my God."

Then Reynaud found a lodging in the town, and bought for himself one pennyworth of bread, and of this and some water he made his supper. The next day he went to his work, and this he did many days, taking for his wage but one penny only.

But the other masons grew jealous of him, because that he was much better and stronger than they. So they laid a plot against him, and on a certain day when he slept they slew him, and having put his body into a sack, they cast it into the river.

Of the marvellous things that happened in respect of this said Reynaud, they that will may read elsewhere. Let it suffice to say in this place that the body was found after certain days and was honourably buried in the church of Cologne, and that year by year a feast is held in the memory of the Lord Reynaud, for indeed he was a very perfect, gentle knight.

And now it remains only to tell of the horse Bayard that was delivered, as has been said, to the King. When the host, returning to Paris, came to the river Meuse, a millstone was tied about his neck, and he was cast into the river. Some have said that this was done by command of the King; but this is not a thing to be believed. In any case, the good horse was not harmed, for he brake with his feet the stone from off his neck, and swimming to the shore, escaped to the forest of Ardennes, where he lived for many years, but suffered neither man nor woman to come near him.

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