FOR a whole month the host of Charlemagne lay encamped in the neighborhood of Montalban. But the proud white castle which shone so clear upon the mountain top was so strongly fortified, and the roads which led to it were so steep and narrow, that it was impossible to reach even its outer walls. Nor could they by any means shut up the garrison, or hinder them from getting food and recruits from their Pagan friends on the other side of the mountains.
"It is folly to besiege the eagle in his eyry," said Roland.
"You speak wisely," answered the king. "And
while we are here idly watching this stronghold, where
four rebels lie secure, a score of other traitors are
plotting mischief in other parts of our kingdom.
The next morning the watchman who stood above the gates of Montalban saw the French army on the move. A long line of steel-clad warriors, with the golden Oriflamme at their head, filed slowly past the foot of the mountain, and turned down the valley road which led back into France.
"Up, Reinold!" cried Allard. "Our enemies have abandoned the siege! Outwitted and ashamed, they go back to their homes. Let us saddle our steeds, and follow in their wake, and harass them on the road."
"Do no such thing!" said the dwarf Malagis. "They would draw you away from your safe stronghold, and lead you into an ambush. Let them march away quietly; and, when they see that you are too wise to fall into their trap, they will return into France, and annoy you no more. The king has enough to do to attend to his affairs at Paris, without wasting the whole summer here."
Through all their troubles, Malagis had been the firm friend of his cousins, the four sons of Aymon. And he was able sometimes to be of great use to them; for men looked upon him as a being of more than human power and knowledge, and he was allowed to pass from place to place, and from camp to camp, without question and without hinderance. Sometimes he was with Charlemagne, sometimes he was with the brothers; but oftener he was wandering hither and thither in company, as men believed, with his kinsfolk,—the wood sprites and the mountain goblins.
"Thou sayest wisely, my elfin cousin," said Reinold. "But, now that our foes have left us once more in quiet, there is one duty that I must do without delay. It is full ten years since I saw my mother, the Princess Aya. Above all things else in life, I long to see her once more; and I know that her tender heart yearns to meet her wayward sons again. I will dress me in a pilgrim's garb; and I will go now to the old home at Dordon, and make myself known to her."
"We will go with you!" cried all three of his brothers.
A few days after this, four humble pilgrims stood at the gate of the castle at Dordon. So poor they were, that there was scarcely a whole thread of cloth on their backs; and they seemed footsore with their long journeying, and weak from much fasting. They begged, that, for the love of Him who died on the cross, they might be given a crust of bread, and be allowed to rest for the night on the hard stones of the kitchen floor. The gentle Aya, when she was told how they stood at the gate, bade them to be brought into her presence. Much affrighted was she at their haggard faces, and bold, determined looks.
"These are no common pilgrims," said she; and yet her heart was strangely moved toward them. And she gave them food and clothing, and saw that every thing was done that could add to their comfort.
"This I do," said she, "for the love of God, the Gentle Father, who I pray may save my sons from danger and death. For I have not seen them these ten years."
"How is that?" asked one of the pilgrims. "Tell us about your sons."
Then Aya began to tell the story of the sad misfortunes that had driven her sons into exile and caused her so many years of anxiety and sorrow. But, as she spoke, the tallest of the four pilgrims withdrew his cowl from his head, and displayed a strange scar in the middle of his forehead. The princess started with surprise.
"Reinold!" she cried. "Fair son, if it be indeed thou, tell it me at once."
The great heart of the hero was too full for speech. He wept. The gentle mother knew now that these were her sons who stood before her. Weeping with great joy, she fell into Reinold's arms: tenderly they kissed her a hundred times over. Not one of them could speak a word, for aught that lives.
And the princess made a feast for her sons in the banquet hall. And she set before them all that was rarest and best in the way of meat and drink,—venison and fish and fowl, and white wine and red in a great cup. And she herself waited on them at table. While they were eating, Duke Aymon came home from hunting.
"Who are these men who eat like lords, but who are dressed like holy pilgrims?" he asked as he walked suddenly into the banquet room.
The Princess Aya, weeping, answered,—
"They are your sons, the long-lost heroes of our house. They have braved every danger to see their mother once again. And I have given them shelter this one night, and food such as the sons of Duke Aymon should eat. When the morning dawns they will go away, and I know not if in all my life I shall see them again."
The iron-hearted duke was in truth pleased to see his sons, but with him duty was stronger than love. He tried to forget that he was a father, and to remember only that he was a knight, and a loyal vassal of the king. Roughly he spoke to the young men.
"Out upon you, you traitors!" he cried. "My castle is no abiding place for men who make war upon Charlemagne and his knights. You are no sons of mine. No favors shall ye seek of me."
Right angry was the courteous Reinold to hear these words from his father's lips. He sprang from the table. Had any other knight spoken thus, he would have made him rue it. But he checked his fiery temper.
"Baron," said the hero, "it is hard to hear one who should keep us and help us, through bad report as well as good, talk thus harshly and unreasonably. It is maddening to know that you thus disherit us for the sake of the most selfish of kings."
Duke Aymon's love now got the better of his loyalty. For a time he could not speak for weeping. Then he said, "Reinold, very worthy son of baron art thou. I know not thy peer on earth. But for my oath's sake I dare not give you aught of aid or comfort."
And very sorrowfully the duke turned away, and left the hall. And he mounted his steed, and rode away. And he came not back to Dordon until he heard that the king had pardoned his sons.
After he had gone, Reinold and his brothers laid aside their pilgrim garbs, and dressed themselves in apparel befitting their rank. And their mother gave them of her gold and silver, which she had in great abundance. And messengers were sent out into the city and into the countryside, to make it known to all men who were dissatisfied with the king and his doings, that the four sons of Aymon were resting for the night in their father's castle.
"Let all who would aid them against the tyranny of Charlemagne," said the messengers, "arm themselves, and join them, without delay."
At dawn the heroes rode boldly out of Dordon, and behind them followed seven hundred noble knights who had vowed to see them safe again in their mountain home of Montalban. On their way they were overtaken by the dwarf Malagis, who had with him four sumterloads of gold and silver. He had just come from the king's court at Paris. But, when he was asked where he had gotten the treasure which he brought, he said—
"The mountain goblins and the wood sprites have sent a part of their secret hoard to the heroes of Montalban."
When Charlemagne learned that the sons of Aymon had so boldly visited their mother at Dordon, and that they had gone back to their mountain stronghold with so great a following, his wrath waxed very hot, and he called his peers together to ask their advice. Duke Namon and Roland were in favor of peace.
"Grant the four knights your forgiveness," said they, "and you will gain four very powerful vassals, who will be of great help to you in your wars against the Saracens."
But Ganelon, the cunning mischief-maker, arose and said, "The king will scarcely humble himself by making terms with traitors. It would be better to try one more stratagem at least, ere we acknowledge ourselves outwitted by them. Now, there is the old Moorish chief, lvo, the father-in-law of Reinold. He loves nothing so much as money. He would sell his own children for gold. If we could only gain his friendship, he might be persuaded to betray the four brothers into our hands."
Charlemagne was delighted with this cunning suggestion: it pleased him better than the wiser plans for peace which Roland and Duke Namon had proposed. Secret messengers were at once sent to Chief Ivo with rich presents of gold and jewels, and promises of much more, if he would betray the four sons of Aymon. Ganelon was right when he had spoken of Ivo's great love of money. He listened eagerly to the offers of the king's messengers; and his heart grew black, and his long fingers itched for the promised rewards. And, without a single twitch of conscience, he agreed to sell Reinold and his brothers, and their mountain fortress, to the king.
One day the faithless Ivo went to Montalban, as he had been wont to do, to see his daughter Clarissa, and to talk with the hero brothers. He had just come from Paris, he said, and he brought glad news.
"Would you like to make peace with your uncle the king?"
"Nothing would gladden our hearts more," said Reinold. "It is hard to live thus outlawed and hunted down by our own kinsmen and those who should be our friends."
Then Ivo, with smooth, lying words, told them that the king had offered to let all bygones be bygones, and to receive them into the highest favor at his court, if they would only prove their sincerity by a single act of submission.
"What is it?" asked they. "We will sacrifice every thing except our lives and our knightly honor, in order that there may be peace between us and the king."
"It is only this," said the cunning Ivo. "It is that you dress yourselves in the garb of pilgrims, like that which you wore when you visited your mother at Dordon, and that, bare-footed and unarmed, you ride to the fortress of Falkalone, and there do homage to the king, begging his forgiveness."
"That is easily done," said Reinold. "It is not half so hard a penance as we have suffered these ten years past. You may tell the king that we will do as he desires, for we are sadly tired of this strife."
A few weeks after this, a messenger came to Montalban, bringing word that the king with his peers had come to the castle of Falkalone, and that he waited there the submission of Reinold and his brothers. The four knights at once made ready to obey the summons. They donned their pilgrims' garbs, and, barefooted and unarmed, mounted the donkeys which were to carry them across the mountains. Then Clarissa, the wife of Reinold, prayed them not to go.
"My father, Chief Ivo," said she, "would stoop to any deed of treachery for the sake of gold. And my heart tells me that he is luring you to Falkalone to betray you. I beg you not to go thus unarmed into the lion's power."
But Reinold would not listen to his fair wife.
"An ungrateful daughter you are," said he, "thus to accuse your father of the basest crime of which a warrior can be guilty. I have ever found him trustworthy, and I will not now believe him to be false."
With these words he turned, and rode out through the castle gate, not even bidding Clarissa good-by. Richard and Guichard followed him, but Allard tarried a few moments in the courtyard.
"Take these good friends with you," said Clarissa; "you will have need of them, if I mistake not." And she handed him four swords, among which was Reinold's Flamberge.
Allard thanked the lady; and, taking the good weapons, he hid them carefully beneath his penitent's robe. Then giving whip to his donkey, he followed his brothers down the steep mountain road which led toward Falkalone.
As the heroes were passing through a narrow glen not more than a league from Falkalone, they were set upon by a party of horsemen who lay in ambush there. Then it was that Reinold thought of fair Clarissa's warning words, and bitterly he repented that he had not hearkened to her advice. But Allard quickly divided the swords among them; and, when Reinold saw his old friend Flamberge once more in his hand, his fears vanished, and he stood boldly on guard against his foes. But how could four men, mounted only on donkeys, and armed only with swords, defend themselves from the onset of three score steel-clad knights on horseback? Allard, Guichard, and Richard were soon overthrown, and made prisoners. What would Reinold not have given for a stout lance, and his trusty war steed, Bayard, at that moment? Yet bravely he fought, and more than one of his foes bit the dust. At last night came on; and, while the others were groping in the dusk, he turned his donkey about, and, as he knew the road well, he made his way safely back to Montalban.
Reinold expected that Charlemagne would again lay siege to his mountain castle, and try to gain by force what he had partly failed to gain by guile. He therefore doubled the guards on the walls, and sent out companies of armed men to watch every turn of the narrow road which led from the valley up to the fortress; and on the rocks and high places he caused great heaps of stones and other missiles to be piled, ready to be thrown down on the heads of any foes who should dare approach too near. But, at the very moment when the king was ready to begin the assault on Montalban, messengers came to him from Paris, bringing news which made it necessary for him to return home without further delay.
"Let the three rebels whom we have taken," said he, "be carried back with us in chains to Paris. As soon as our leisure serves us, they shall be hanged like so many thieves. Their fate will be a warning to all other traitors."
Then Reinold, when he heard it, resolved that he would at all hazards save the lives of his brothers. So he mounted his good steed Bayard, and set out alone for Paris. One day, at the noontide hour, he stopped to rest in the cool shade of a great oak. The sun shone very hot; the grass upon which he reclined was green and soft; the bees hummed drowsily among the leaves overhead; every thing was so calm and still, that, before Reinold knew it, he had fallen asleep. And Bayard, pleased with the pasturage which spread around, left his master's side, and wandered hither and thither, grazing the sweetest clover and the freshest leaves of grass. It so happened that some country folk who were passing that way saw the horse; and one of them, who had been at Dordon, said—
"See there! I verily believe that steed is Bayard."
But the others laughed at him.
"At any rate," said he, "he is a rich prize. See the gold-red saddle on his back, the golden stirrups at his sides, and the silken reins that rest upon his neck. He belongs to no common knight. I mean to take him to Paris, and claim a reward for having found him. He would be a handsome gift to present to the king."
Now, this man was no common countryman, or he would not have dared think of touching so rare and rich a prize; nor could he, without the help of magic, have come near the horse. But he had seen something of the world; and in his youth he had lived some time with an old wizard, from whom he had learned something of witchery and enchantment. So, as he drew near the grazing horse, he mumbled many strange, uncouth words, and scattered a fine white powder to the winds. Yet, even with all these precautions, it was with the greatest difficulty that he caught hold of the reins of Bayard, and seated himself on his back. The horse at once set off at a full gallop toward Paris; and so swift was his passage, that early the next morning he stood in the courtyard of the king's palace.
When word was brought to Charlemagne, that Bayard, the matchless steed of the Montalban hero, was at the door, he could not believe it. But when he went out, and saw for himself that horse, the like of which there was none on earth, his joy was greater than if it had been Reinold himself.
"Verily, this horse is worth more than a province!" said he.
And he at once conferred the honor of knighthood upon the countryman, loading him with rich presents of gold and silver, and giving him as a fief the lands and castles of the dead Duke Gilmer of Vermandois.
Now let us go back to Reinold, whom we left sleeping in the shade of the friendly oak. When he awoke, the sun was sloping far down toward the west. He had never before slept so long and so carelessly by the roadside. He arose and looked around. His steed was nowhere to be seen. He called him, at first softly, then very loudly, "Bayard!" He listened to hear the shrill whinny with which the horse always answered his call. And when no sound came back save the echo of his own anxious voice, then Reinold knew that Bayard was lost, and he threw himself in despair upon the ground.
"What need to live longer," said he, "when I have lost every living being that I loved? False fealty, force, and fraud have deprived me of a father's love, of a mother's caresses, of my brothers' companionship. I have not kith nor kin to whom I may go for sympathy and fellowship. And now my horse, whom I loved as a fourth brother, has been stolen from me."
As he spoke, his eyes fell upon his golden spurs, the symbol of his knighthood. He seized them in his hands, and wrenched them from his ankles.
"What need of these, when Bayard is gone!" he cried. "Without a horse, I am no longer a knight."
"Good-day to you, my lord!" said a shrill, harsh voice at his elbow.
He looked up, and saw a little old man, bent almost double with the infirmities of age, standing very close to him, and gazing at him with a strange, quizzical look on his little dried-up features. The old man was dressed in the garb of a begging pilgrim, his long white beard fell in tangled masses halfway to his feet, and his twinkling gray eyes were almost hidden beneath his heavy white eyebrows.
"Good-day to you, my lord!" he said a second time, bowing very low.
"It may be a good day to you, old man," said Reinold. "But, as for me, I have scarcely known a good day in all my life."
"My lord," said the pilgrim, "why should your heart lose hope? Do but give me a present as a token of your faith, and I will pray Heaven to help you. Prayer is the poor man's defence, and it has sometimes relieved the rich and the great from their distresses."
"Your prayers may do me much good," answered Reinold; "but I have no faith in them, nor indeed in aught else. Yet no beggar has ever gone away from me empty-handed. Here are my spurs, the priceless gifts that my mother buckled to my ankles on the day that I was dubbed a knight. Take them: I shall never wear them again."
The pilgrim took the spurs, and, bowing low, said, "My lord, these spurs may be worth ten pounds; but my prayers are worth much more. Have you nothing else to give?"
Reinold's down-heartedness began now to give place to anger. "A fig for your prayers!" answered he. "If it were not for your gray hairs, I would give you a sound drubbing for a present."
"Ah, good sir," said the old man, "it is not thus that Christians give alms to pious pilgrims. If every one of whom I have begged had beaten me, the churches and the convents would have been but poorly furnished. But some have shared their last crust with me, and great has been their reward. Therefore, I ask thee again, if thou hast any thing to spare, give it me."
Then Reinold took off his mantle,—a beautiful garment of velvet, embroidered with silk and gold,—and gave it to the pilgrim.
"Take this," said he. "It is the last gift of my wife, the charming Clarissa, the fair Pagan, whose love for me is, I fear, greater and more sincere than I deserve."
The old man folded the mantle carefully, and put it in his wallet. Then, with another low bow, he said, "My lord, have you nothing else that you would give me for the sake of kind remembrance?"
Reinold's wrath now got the better of him. Fiercely he drew Flamberge from his scabbard. He seized the pilgrim by the beard. "Wouldst thou rob me?" he cried. "Even thy age shall not save thee!"
The old man quietly pushed back his hood. His long beard fell off in Reinold's grasp. He looked at the hero with a smile.
"Good Sir Remold," said he, "wouldst thou slay thy cousin Malagis?"
It was indeed the wizard dwarf Malagis, who, for some reason best known to himself, had chosen to come before Reinold in this disguise.
"Cheer up, brave cousin!" said he. "Faith and hope have brought about greater wonders than the wizard's wand ever accomplished. But despair has never yet gained a victory. Your brothers are prisoners in the king's castle, and Bayard is on his way to Paris. But, if you will trust me, all will yet be well."
He then took from his wallet an old gown, like that which he himself wore, and bade Reinold put it on over his armor, instead of the rich mantle which he had just given away. He unlaced his helmet, and hid it in a clump of shrubs, and, instead of it, he drew over his head a ragged gray hood, which hid more than half his face beneath its folds. A false beard and a few touches of paint were all that was needed now to change the hero into the likeness of a pious pilgrim.
"Malagis," said Reinold, embracing the wizard, "thou art truly a godsend! I believe in thee."
A few days after this, two pilgrims, old and lame, limped through the streets of Paris, begging alms of the good people whom they met. They stood on the bridge over the Seine, and watched a grand procession of lords and ladies crossing the river, on their way to a tournament which was to be held in the meadows on the other side.
"Put on your spurs, cousin," said the wizard; "for, believe me, you will soon need them."
By and by a great shouting was heard; and the king was seen riding toward the bridge, with Roland and the other peers in his train. In front of him was the great war steed Bayard, led by four stout grooms. The horse was most richly apparelled. The bridle was of silver and gold, with reins of fine sable and silk-covered leather; the saddle was wonderfully wrought of leather and cloth and rare metals; and over all were trappings of crimson velvet bordered with cloth-of-gold, on which fair ladies' fingers had deftly embroidered the white lilies of France. It was hard to tell which the people applauded more,—the grand old king who sat so proudly on his own charger, or the noble steed who walked before him like the monarch of his kind.
"They are leading the horse to the lists," said a monk who stood near. "The knights are there to make trial of their skill in mounting and riding him, and he who succeeds best is to have him as a present from the king."
"When will kings cease to give away the things that do not belong to them?" asked Malagis.
All at once the horse was noticed to stop. He had seen the poor pilgrims on the bridge. With a sudden toss of the head he jerked away from the grooms; and, neighing joyfully, he ran forward, and laid his head on Reinold's shoulder.
"Never saw I such a horse as Bayard," said Roland to the king. "He seems to scorn our company, and to like those ragged beggars better than knights and noblemen."
"Come, Bayard," said the king, riding forward and laying his hand on the reins. "Thou shouldst be more choice of thy comrades."
"And is this, indeed, Bayard!" asked one of the pilgrims. "How lucky we are to happen here at this moment!"
Then, turning to Charlemagne, he said, "Most gracious king, I pray you to grant us a boon. This my poor brother has been deaf and dumb and blind these many days, and there is in life no joy for him. He wanders with me from place to place in great distress; and, do what he will, he can find no relief. But yesterday a wizard told me, that, if he could be allowed to ride even ten steps on the great steed Bayard, he should be healed."
The king and his courtiers laughed.
"I have half a mind to let him try," said Charlemagne; "for, although I have heard of miracles, I have never yet seen one."
"Even if he should not be healed," said Roland, "it would be equally a miracle. It would be as wonderful to see a cripple ride the great Bayard as to see the blind restored to sight."
Then, by the king's command, the grooms lifted the supposed pilgrim into the saddle. Men wondered why the horse should stand so gently, and allow himself to be backed by the awkward, ragged beggar, when he had refused to let the noblest barons put feet in his stirrups. But their wonder grew to astonishment when the dumb pilgrim spoke the word "Bayard!" and the horse, with his rider sitting gracefully in the saddle, dashed across the bridge and galloped away more swiftly than horse had ever before been known to gallop. The king and all his peers put spurs to their steeds, and followed. But in less than a minute the wonderful Bayard was out of sight, and none of his pursuers saw him again. More swiftly than a bird could fly through the air, he sped southward over hill and dale and forest and stream, and stopped not once until he had carried his master safely back to Montalban.
"Fools that we are!" said the king. "Again have we been outwitted by that villain Reinold and his cunning cousin, Malagis. If ever the wizard comes within my reach, he shall suffer for this."
But Malagis had taken care to slip away during the confusion; and, though the king ordered that search should everywhere be made for him, he was not to be found in Paris.
That same night a little man dressed in gray made his way, silent and unseen, to the prison tower of the king's castle. The guards before the doors were asleep, and the sentinels who stood on the ramparts above nodded at their posts. He touched the great oaken doors. The iron bolts flew back with a faint click; the chains were unfastened without a rattle; the doors turned silently on their hinges. Some men say that the cunning wizard, for it was Malagis, did all this through magic: others say that he had bribed the watchmen. Be this as it may, he had no trouble in finding his way to a narrow dungeon, where the air seemed heavy and cold, and the water oozed and trickled through the ceiling, and the horrible gloom of the grave seemed to brood over all. There three men were chained to the wall. They were Allard, Guichard, and Richard. When they heard him enter, they supposed it was the jailer, come to lead them out to their death. And they were glad, for death in any shape would have been better than life in such a place. The wizard touched them, and their chains fell from their limbs. He must have had the jailer's keys.
"Up, cousins!" he cried. "You are saved. I am Malagis. Follow me."
Silently they groped their way out of the prison. At the castle gate four fleet horses, ready saddled, waited for them. They mounted them, and, ere the morning dawned, were many leagues away from Paris, riding straight for Montalban.
Very angry was the king when he learned, next day, that he had been again outwitted, and that the sons of Aymon had escaped. He vowed that he would not rest, nor cease his efforts, until he had dined in the broad feast hall of Montalban. And he called together his host, and marched with all haste back, for the third time, to the country of the Pyrenees.
The mountain stronghold was surrounded on every side by the men of Charlemagne. Every road and every pass leading to it were carefully guarded. The king knew that he could never reach the walls, or hope to carry the place by assault, and therefore that the only way to capture it was to starve the garrison into surrender. Yet week after week passed by, and neither party seemed to gain any advantage over the other. Once a company of knights, under Reinold, made a sally into the plain below, and had a brief passage-at-arms with some of Charlemagne's men. Roland and Reinold measured their lances with each other; and Roland, for the first and only time in his life, was unhorsed.
"Ah, good cousin!" cried Reinold, "that was your horse's failure, and no fault of yours."
And he at once called off his men, and rode back to the castle. Roland was very much grieved at the disgrace of his fall: but, instead of feeling angry, he cherished the warmest feelings of friendship for his gallant cousin; and he vowed, that, if ever the king should forgive Reinold, he would love him next to Oliver, and Ogier the Dane.
It happened one night, that Malagis—as, indeed, he had often done before—went out as a spy into Charlemagne's camp. The soldiers were sleeping quietly in their tents; and, as the wizard crept stealthily from one place to another, he threw a white sleeping powder into the air, which caused even the most watchful sentinels to close their eyes. Thus he made his way into the very heart of the camp; and, without any fear of awakening the sleepers, he stood in the door of the king's tent. Suddenly, and to his great surprise, he felt himself seized by the collar, and lifted from the ground. He looked around, and saw that he was in the strong grasp of Oliver, who, from some reason which the wizard could never understand, was not made drowsy by the sleeping powders. Malagis earnestly begged the knight to set him free. But Oliver would not listen to a word. He aroused the sleepers in the tent, and carried the struggling dwarf into the king's presence.
"Ah, thou cunning wizard!" cried the king, "I have thee at last! And, even though the unseen powers be on thy side, thou shalt not get off easily."
Then he ordered Malagis to be bound and carried out of the camp and thrown from the top of a precipice.
"My lord," said the wizard, "I have but one favor to ask of you. Let me live long enough to sit once more with you and your peers at the banquet table."
"It shall be as thou desirest," said the king; "but thy life shall not be much the longer thereby."
Then he ordered a feast to be made ready at once, and he sent out and invited the noblest of his barons to come and eat with him. It was midnight when the king and his knights sat down to supper, and much did they enjoy the good food and the rich wine which were placed before them. But soon they began to feel drowsy. One by one they closed their eyes, and fell back in their seats fast asleep. In a short time not a single person in all the camp, save Malagis, was awake. His eyes twinkled merrily; and he could not help jumping upon the table, and dancing about in glee, as he saw how the magic powder had again cast a spell of slumber over all. Then he stepped softly to the side of the sleeping Charlemagne; and, after giving him an extra pinch of the snuff, he lifted him on his shoulders, and carried him out of the tent. It was a great burden for the little man to carry, but we must believe that his magic increased his strength tenfold as he toiled up the narrow mountain paths with his kingly burden on his back.
When he reached the castle, the gate was opened; and he carried the king, still fast asleep, into the broad hall. Great was the astonishment of Reinold and his brothers when they saw what kind of a prisoner the dwarf had brought them.
"Your troubles are at an end, my cousins," said he. "You may now make peace on your own terms."
The king was carried to the best guest chamber in the castle, and every thing was done that could add to his comfort. But he did not awaken until noon the next day. You may imagine his surprise when he opened his eyes, and found himself, not, as he supposed, in his tent, but in a sumptuous castle, furnished as grandly as his own palace. For a long time he would not believe but that it was all a dream; and not until Reinold and Malagis came into his presence, and told him where he was, and how he came there, did he recover from his bewilderment. At first he was very angry, and harshly upbraided them for their treason. But Reinold did not once forget the courtesy that is due from a knight to his king. As Charlemagne was very hungry after his long sleep, he was persuaded to sit down with the sons of Aymon at the banquet table, and partake of the choice food and the rare wines with which Montalban was well supplied. But when the brothers spoke to him of peace, and prayed that he would let bygones be bygones, and receive them again into his kingly favor, he grew angry and morose, and bade them open the castle gates, and let him go back to his friends, who were anxiously seeking him in the valley below.
"Never will I make peace with you!" he cried.
"It shall not be said that I have dealt harshly with the king," said Reinold. "He shall have his freedom; and, if our kindness has no power to touch his heart, then we must still defend ourselves in Montalban."
And the king went out of the castle, and back to his own camp, without a word of forgiveness for his unhappy nephews.
As Reinold passed through the courtyard soon afterward, he saw Malagis the wizard burning a great heap of papers and boxes and odd mixtures, and making strange motions and gestures over them, as the flames consumed them.
"What are you doing, cousin?" he asked.
"I am burning all the tools of my trade," said Malagis sadly. "The wizard's art is thrown away upon such men as you. I am going to leave Montalban, never to return again. Had you been wise, you would have kept the king a prisoner, and forced him to grant you peace."
After Charlemagne had gone back to his camp, he began to think more seriously about this long and profitless war with his nephews.
"Why not bring it to a close by granting them your forgiveness?" asked Roland.
"But my oath," said Charlemagne. "I dare not forget my oath."
"True," answered Roland. "But what was your oath?—that you would not make peace, nor grant your forgiveness, until you had dined in the banquet hall of Montalban?"
"That was my oath, and it shall be remembered."
"But have you not dined
The king was silent, and he went and shut himself up alone in his tent. The next day he sent a messenger to the heroes of Montalban, offering to make peace with them on their own terms, to grant them full pardon for all past offences, and to restore to them all the honors, fiefs, and dignities which were theirs by right. And thus the sorrowful wars with Duke Aymon's sons were ended.