“Stand off, good Nigel,” sang out Hugo. “None shall say I beat him by foul means.”
With this, after sundry passes that came to naught, he drove his good sword straight into his enemy’s side; for, indeed, Geoffroy was wild in his swordplay, and left openings clear to a cool man.
Le Grand Sarrasin rolled heavily on the sand, and we knew that never again would the pirates gather head to harm our island.
“Had I but gained the ship,” he howled, “I would have been duke yet.”
Now this was the last he said, for a great spurt of blood coming from his side, he raised himself a moment on his arm, and then fell back upon the sand.
We knew not what face of horror we should gaze upon as we essayed to pull the helm from the head of Le Grand Sarrasin, that never showed his face to men.
The helm came off in our hands. It was no hideous countenance that it had masked, nor did we fear to gaze on it in death.
It was the face of my Lord Archbishop of Rouen, whom I had visited in his house hard by, and whom I had seen disguised in Normandy, that I now plainly saw.
Where, then, was Le Grand Sarrasin? Le Grand Sarrasin had been none other than this exiled man, that among the most evil of mankind had sought to raise a power that might one day overthrow William himself.
And in this ruin of his glory, achieved by grace of Heaven through our hands, Le Grand Sarrasin was brought to naught.
“Thou knowest who this was?” said Hugo, calmly.
“Ay, well I know,” I said.
“Thou and I alone know this dark thing,” he said. “Is it well that it should enter into men’s mouths and minds?”
“Thou knowest best, Hugo,” I said.
“Then,” said he, “I say it were well for the Church of God, and for men’s love of honour, and for truth and righteousness, that none know but ourselves this dead man’s secret. Let him die Le Grand Sarrasin, a heathen Moor and no baptized Norman.”
“But Maugher will be missed,” I said.
“Yea; and a meeter tale than this will serve,” said Hugo. “A false step, a squall at sea—anything but this.” He pointed to the body. “Wilt thou keep silence?”
“If it be thy will,” I said.
“Assist me, then,” said Hugo.
So we dragged the body of the exile a short way over some rocks, whose black bases the deep water washed upon, and weighting it with some great stones, pushed it into the dark deeps. Thence none would raise him again to discover what manner of face wore Le Grand Sarrasin; and none would guess it was no dark visage of the south, but the face of an evil traitor, so much the more evil that he was called by the two high names Norman and Christian. There shall he lie till the great blare of Heaven’s trump call good and ill to judgment.
Conclusion. How, the above matters being finished, I was made known to my father.