Ganelon trembled with passion and said, “this is Roland’s work,” for he knew he would never return alive to his wife and child. The quarrel between Roland and Ganelon was bitter indeed. “I hate thee,” Ganelon hissed at last. “I hate thee!” Then, struggling to be calm, he turned to the Emperor and said, “I am ready to do thy will.”
“Fair Sir Ganelon,” said Charlemagne, “this is my message to the heathen King Marsil. Say to him that he shall bend the knee to gentle Christ and be baptized in His name. Then will I give him full half of Spain to hold in fief. Over the other half Count Roland, my nephew, well beloved, shall reign.”
Without a word of farewell Ganelon went to his own house. There he clad himself in his finest armor. Commending his wife and child to the care of the knights who pressed round to bid him Godspeed, Ganelon, with bent head, turned slowly from their sight and rode to join the heathen Blancandrin.
As Ganelon and Blancandrin rode along together beneath the olive-trees and through the fruitful vineyards of sunny Spain, the heathen began to talk cunningly. “What a wonderful knight is thy Emperor,” he said. “He hath conquered the world from sea to sea. But why cometh he within our borders? Why left he us not in peace?”
“It was his will,” replied Ganelon. “There is no man in all the world so great as he. None may stand against him.”
“You Franks are gallant men indeed,” said Blancandrin, “but your dukes and counts deserve blame when they counsel the Emperor to fight with us now.”
“There is none deserveth that blame save Roland,” said Ganelon. “Such pride as his ought to be punished. Oh, that some one would slay him!” he cried fiercely. “Then should we have peace.”
“This Roland is very cruel,” said Blancandrin, “to wish to conquer all the world as he does. But in whom does he trust for help?”
“In the Franks,” said Ganelon. “They love him with such a great love that they think he can do no wrong. He giveth them gold and silver, jewels and armor, so they serve him. Even to the Emperor himself he maketh rich presents. He will not rest until he hath conquered all the world, from east to west.”
The Saracen looked at Ganelon out of the corner of his eye. He was a noble knight, but now that his face was dark with wrath and jealousy, he looked like a felon.
“Listen thou to me,” said Blancandrin softly. “Dost wish to be avenged upon Roland? Then, by Mahomet! deliver him into our hands. King Marsil is very generous; for such a kindness he will willingly give unto thee of his countless treasure.”
Ganelon heard the tempter’s voice, but he rode onward as if unheeding, his chin sunken upon his breast, his eyes dark with hatred.
But long ere the ride was ended and Saragossa reached, the heathen lord and Christian knight had plotted together for the ruin of Roland.