“Dear sister,” said Gunther, as she bowed before him, “I have pledged my word to a warrior that thou wilt become his bride, wilt thou help me to keep my promise?” Now Siegfried was standing by the King’s side as he spoke.
Then the gentle maiden answered meekly, “Thy will, dear brother, is ever mine. I will take as lord him to whom thou hast promised my hand.” And she glanced shyly at Siegfried, for surely this was the warrior to whom her royal brother had pledged his word.
Right glad then was the King, and Siegfried grew rosy with delight as he received the lady’s troth. Then together they went to the banquet-hall, and on a throne next to King Gunther sat the hero-prince, the lady Kriemhild by his side.
When the banquet was ended, the King was wedded to Queen Brunhild, and Siegfried to the maiden whom he loved so well, and though he had no crown to place upon her brow, the Princess was well content.
For seven long years the great Emperor Charlemagne had been fighting in Spain against the Saracens; Saragossa alone remained unconquered, but word had gone forth that it, too, was doomed.
King Marsil, not knowing how to save his city from the conqueror, called a council of his wise men. Blancandrin, a knight of great valor, was chosen with ten others to set out with olive-branches in their hands, followed by a great train of slaves bearing presents, to seek the court of the great Christian King and sue for peace.
Bending low before Charlemagne, Blancandrin promised for King Marsil vassalage to the Emperor and baptism in the name of the Holy Christ. To assure the truth of his words, he said “We will give thee hostages, I will even send my own son if we keep not faith with thee.”
In the morning Charlemagne called his wise men and told them the message of Blancandrin.
Then Roland, one of the twelve chosen knights and the nephew of Charlemagne, rose flushed with anger and cried, “Believe not this Marsil, he was ever a traitor. Carry the war to Saragossa. War! I say war!”
Ganelon a knight, who hated Roland, strode to the foot of the throne, saying, “Listen not to the counsel of fools but accept King Marsil’s gifts and promises.”
Following the counsel of Duke Naimes the wisest of the court, Charlemagne declared that some one should be sent to King Marsil and asked the lords whom he should send.
“Send me,” cried Roland. “Nay,” said Oliver, “let me go rather.” But the Emperor said, “Not a step shall ye go, either one or other of you.”
“Ah!” said Roland, “if I may not go, then send Ganelon my stepfather.” “Good!” replied the great Emperor, “Ganelon it shall be.”