He lay thus, while the herald read aloud the law, “twelve sols in silver—six ounces of flesh from near the heart—thus Sir Enguerrand protects the pleasures of the nobles.” He did not look up, when his skin was cut open, so that the smell of blood should attract the falcon, and when it plunged its beak in his breast, he did not utter a cry, merely quivered, so that the bird’s eyes flashed angrily, and it stretched out its wings as if about to flap them.
The seneschal’s daughters leaned their heads forward with a gleam of interest in their strangely dreamy eyes, but they did not raise their hands from their laps, and their robes lay as before in unruffled folds. The horses snorted at the smell of blood and stamped on the frosty ground, so that the red cloths fluttered in the blue pallor of the morning air; but Renaud lay silent, and the huntsmen stood in vain with distended cheeks and their horns at their lips, ready to drown his cry of pain.
The first pang had torn at his most delicate fibers; it was as if his heart would go with it, but afterwards he had almost grown insensible with satisfaction, with dizzy torpor, and as the blood flowed warm from the wound, and the keen beak tore at his breast, Renaud dreamed himself in the lofty azure atmosphere of his dreams, and he understood all, death and honor, and he felt how it burned and dazzled—the golden sun of the heroic sagas.
When Sir Enguerrand thought that the six ounces of the law were fulfilled, he gave the signal to his men to blow, and the falcon was lifted off, satiated with blood, his eyes again filled with calm pride. The procession was again set in motion, with greater mirth than before, toward the reeds which shone yellow in the distance; but Renaud could not be wakened. He had dreamed himself to death. They merely unbound him and let him lie with red heather beneath his head.
But the Iceland falcon was never allowed to sit on his master’s hand, for Sir Enguerrand did not love to drink from a goblet on which the lips of another had imprinted a kiss.