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THE TALISMAN

By Sir Walter ScottBart.

INTRODUCTION TO THE TALISMAN.

The "Betrothed" did not greatly please one or two friendswho
thought that it did not well correspond to the general title of
The Crusaders.They urgedthereforethatwithout direct
allusion to the manners of the Eastern tribesand to the
romantic conflicts of the periodthe title of a "Tale of the
Crusaders" would resemble the playbillwhich is said to have
announced the tragedy of Hamletthe character of the Prince of
Denmark being left out. On the other handI felt the difficulty
of giving a vivid picture of a part of the world with which I was
almost totally unacquaintedunless by early recollections of the
Arabian Nights' Entertainments; and not only did I labour under
the incapacity of ignorance--in whichas far as regards Eastern
mannersI was as thickly wrapped as an Egyptian in his fog--but
my contemporaries weremany of themas much enlightened upon
the subject as if they had been inhabitants of the favoured land
of Goshen. The love of travelling had pervaded all ranksand
carried the subjects of Britain into all quarters of the world.
Greeceso attractive by its remains of artby its struggles for
freedom against a Mohammedan tyrantby its very namewhere
every fountain had its classical legend--Palestineendeared to
the imagination by yet more sacred remembrances--had been of late
surveyed by British eyesand described by recent travellers.
Had Ithereforeattempted the difficult task of substituting
manners of my own inventioninstead of the genuine costume of
the Eastalmost every traveller I met who had extended his route
beyond what was anciently called "The Grand Tour had acquired a
right, by ocular inspection, to chastise me for my presumption.
Every member of the Travellers' Club who could pretend to have
thrown his shoe over Edom was, by having done so, constituted my
lawful critic and corrector. It occurred, therefore, that where
the author of Anastasius, as well as he of Hadji Baba, had
described the manners and vices of the Eastern nations, not only
with fidelity, but with the humour of Le Sage and the ludicrous
power of Fielding himself, one who was a perfect stranger to the
subject must necessarily produce an unfavourable contrast. The
Poet Laureate also, in the charming tale of Thalaba had shown
how extensive might be the researches of a person of acquirements
and talent, by dint of investigation alone, into the ancient
doctrines, history, and manners of the Eastern countries, in
which we are probably to look for the cradle of mankind; Moore,
in his Lalla Rookh had successfully trod the same path; in
which, too, Byron, joining ocular experience to extensive
reading, had written some of his most attractive poems. In a
word, the Eastern themes had been already so successfully handled
by those who were acknowledged to be masters of their craft, that
I was diffident of making the attempt.

These were powerful objections; nor did they lose force when they


became the subject of anxious reflection, although they did not
finally prevail. The arguments on the other side were, that
though I had no hope of rivalling the contemporaries whom I have
mentioned, yet it occurred to me as possible to acquit myself of
the task I was engaged in without entering into competition with
them.

The period relating more immediately to the Crusades which I at
last fixed upon was that at which the warlike character of
Richard I., wild and generous, a pattern of chivalry, with all
its extravagant virtues, and its no less absurd errors, was
opposed to that of Saladin, in which the Christian and English
monarch showed all the cruelty and violence of an Eastern sultan,
and Saladin, on the other hand, displayed the deep policy and
prudence of a European sovereign, whilst each contended which
should excel the other in the knightly qualities of bravery and
generosity. This singular contrast afforded, as the author
conceived, materials for a work of fiction possessing peculiar
interest. One of the inferior characters introduced was a
supposed relation of Richard Coeur de Lion--a violation of the
truth of history which gave offence to Mr. Mills, the author of
the History of Chivalry and the Crusades who was not, it may
be presumed, aware that romantic fiction naturally includes the
power of such invention, which is indeed one of the requisites of
the art.

Prince David of Scotland, who was actually in the host, and was
the hero of some very romantic adventures on his way home, was
also pressed into my service, and constitutes one of my DRAMATIS
PERSONAE.

It is true I had already brought upon the field him of the lion
heart. But it was in a more private capacity than he was here to
be exhibited in the Talisman--then as a disguised knight, now in
the avowed character of a conquering monarch; so that I doubted
not a name so dear to Englishmen as that of King Richard I. might
contribute to their amusement for more than once.

I had access to all which antiquity believed, whether of reality
or fable, on the subject of that magnificent warrior, who was the
proudest boast of Europe and their chivalry, and with whose
dreadful name the Saracens, according to a historian of their own
country, were wont to rebuke their startled horses. Do you
think said they, that King Richard is on the trackthat you
stray so wildly from it?" The most curious register of the
history of King Richard is an ancient romancetranslated
originally from the Norman; and at first certainly having a
pretence to be termed a work of chivalrybut latterly becoming
stuffed with the most astonishing and monstrous fables. There is
perhaps no metrical romance upon record wherealong with curious
and genuine historyare mingled more absurd and exaggerated
incidents. We have placed in the Appendix to this Introduction
the passage of the romance in which Richard figures as an ogre
or literal cannibal.

A principal incident in the story is that from which the title is
derived. Of all people who ever livedthe Persians were perhaps
most remarkable for their unshaken credulity in amuletsspells
periaptsand similar charmsframedit was saidunder the
influence of particular planetsand bestowing high medical
powersas well as the means of advancing men's fortunes in
various manners. A story of this kindrelating to a Crusader of
eminenceis often told in the west of Scotlandand the relic
alluded to is still in existenceand even yet held in


veneration.

Sir Simon Lockhart of Lee and Gartland made a considerable figure
in the reigns of Robert the Bruce and of his son David. He was
one of the chief of that band of Scottish chivalry who
accompanied Jamesthe Good Lord Douglason his expedition to
the Holy Land with the heart of King Robert Bruce. Douglas
impatient to get at the Saracensentered into war with those of
Spainand was killed there. Lockhart proceeded to the Holy Land
with such Scottish knights as had escaped the fate of their
leader and assisted for some time in the wars against the
Saracens.

The following adventure is said by tradition to have befallen
him:--

He made prisoner in battle an Emir of considerable wealth and
consequence. The aged mother of the captive came to the
Christian campto redeem her son from his state of captivity.
Lockhart is said to have fixed the price at which his prisoner
should ransom himself; and the ladypulling out a large
embroidered purseproceeded to tell down the ransomlike a
mother who pays little respect to gold in comparison of her son's
liberty. In this operationa pebble inserted in a coinsome
say of the Lower Empirefell out of the purseand the Saracen
matron testified so much haste to recover it as gave the Scottish
knight a high idea of its valuewhen compared with gold or
silver. "I will not consent he said, to grant your son's
libertyunless that amulet be added to his ransom." The lady
not only consented to thisbut explained to Sir Simon Lockhart
the mode in which the talisman was to be usedand the uses to
which it might be put. The water in which it was dipped operated
as a stypticas a febrifugeand possessed other properties as a
medical talisman.

Sir Simon Lockhartafter much experience of the wonders which it
wroughtbrought it to his own countryand left it to his heirs
by whomand by Clydesdale in generalit wasand is still
distinguished by the name of the Lee-pennyfrom the name of his
native seat of Lee.

The most remarkable part of its historyperhapswas that it so
especially escaped condemnation when the Church of Scotland chose
to impeach many other cures which savoured of the miraculousas
occasioned by sorceryand censured the appeal to them
excepting only that to the amulet, called the Lee-penny, to
which it had pleased God to annex certain healing virtues which
the Church did not presume to condemn.It stillas has been
saidexistsand its powers are sometimes resorted to. Of late
they have been chiefly restricted to the cure of persons bitten
by mad dogs; and as the illness in such cases frequently arises
from imaginationthere can be no reason for doubting that water
which has been poured on the Lee-penny furnishes a congenial
cure.

Such is the tradition concerning the talismanwhich the author
has taken the liberty to vary in applying it to his own purposes.

Considerable liberties have also been taken with the truth of
historyboth with respect to Conrade of Montserrat's lifeas
well as his death. That Conradehoweverwas reckoned the enemy
of Richard is agreed both in history and romance. The general
opinion of the terms upon which they stood may be guessed from
the proposal of the Saracens that the Marquis of Montserrat


should be invested with certain parts of Syriawhich they were
to yield to the Christians. Richardaccording to the romance
which bears his namecould no longer repress his fury. The
Marquis he said, was a traitor, who had robbed the Knights
Hospitallers of sixty thousand pounds, the present of his father
Henry; that he was a renegade, whose treachery had occasioned the
loss of Acre; and he concluded by a solemn oath, that he would
cause him to be drawn to pieces by wild horses, if he should ever
venture to pollute the Christian camp by his presence. Philip
attempted to intercede in favour of the Marquis, and throwing
down his glove, offered to become a pledge for his fidelity to
the Christians; but his offer was rejected, and he was obliged to
give way to Richard's impetuosity.--HISTORY OF CHIVALRY.


Conrade of Montserrat makes a considerable figure in those wars
and was at length put to death by one of the followers of the
Scheikor Old Man of the Mountain; nor did Richard remain free
of the suspicion of having instigated his death.


It may be saidin generalthat most of the incidents introduced
in the following tale are fictitiousand that realitywhere it
existsis only retained in the characters of the piece.


ABBOTSFORD1st July1832


*


APPENDIX TO INTRODUCTION.


While warring in the Holy LandRichard was seized with an ague.


The best leeches of the camp were unable to effect the cure of
the King's disease; but the prayers of the army were more
successful. He became convalescentand the first symptom of his
recovery was a violent longing for pork. But pork was not likely
to be plentiful in a country whose inhabitants had an abhorrence
for swine's flesh; and


Though his men should be hanged,
They ne might, in that countrey,
For gold, ne silver, ne no money,
No pork find, take, ne get,
That King Richard might aught of eat.
An old knight with Richard biding,
When he heard of that tiding,
That the kingis wants were swyche,
To the steward he spake privyliche--
Our lord the king sore is sickI wis
After porck he alonged is;
Ye may none find to selle;
No man be hardy him so to telle!
If he did he might die.
Now behoves to done as I shall say
Tho' he wete nought of that.
Take a Saracenyoung and fat;
In haste let the thief be slain
Openedand his skin off flayn;
And sodden full hastily
With powder and with spicery
And with saffron of good colour.
When the king feels thereof savour
Out of ague if he be went
He shall have thereto good talent.



When he has a good taste
And eaten well a good repast
And supped of the BREWIS [Broth] a sup
Slept after and swet a drop
Through Goddis help and my counsail
Soon he shall be fresh and hail.'
The sooth to sayat wordes few
Slain and sodden was the heathen shrew.
Before the king it was forth brought:
Quod his men'Lordwe have pork sought;
Eates and sups of the brewis SOOTE[Sweet]
Thorough grace of God it shall be your boot.'
Before King Richard carff a knight
He ate faster than he carve might.
The king ate the flesh and GNEW [Gnawed] the bones
And drank well after for the nonce.
And when he had eaten enough
His folk hem turned awayand LOUGH.[Laughed]
He lay still and drew in his arm;
His chamberlain him wrapped warm.
He lay and sleptand swet a stound
And became whole and sound.
King Richard clad him and arose
And walked abouten in the close."


An attack of the Saracens was repelled by Richard in personthe
consequence of which is told in the following lines :-


When King Richard had rested a whyle,
A knight his arms 'gan unlace,
Him to comfort and solace.
Him was brought a sop in wine.
'The head of that ilke swine,
That I of ate!' (the cook he bade,)
'For feeble I am, and faint and mad.
Of mine evil now I am fear;
Serve me therewith at my soupere!'
Quod the cook, 'That head I ne have.'
Then said the king, 'So God me save,
But I see the head of that swine,
For sooth, thou shalt lesen thine!'
The cook saw none other might be;
He fet the head and let him see.
He fell on knees, and made a cry--
'Lo, here the head! my Lord, mercy!'


The cook had certainly some reason to fear that his master would
be struck with horror at the recollection of the dreadful banquet
to which he owed his recovery; but his fears were soon
dissipated.


The swarte vis [Black face] when the king seeth,
His black beard and white teeth,
How his lippes grinned wide,
'What devil is this?' the king cried,
And 'gan to laugh as he were wode.
'What! is Saracen's flesh thus good?
That never erst I nought wist!
By God's death and his uprist,
Shall we never die for default,
While we may in any assault,
Slee Saracens, the flesh may take,
And seethen and roasten and do hem bake,
[And] Gnawen her flesh to the bones!



Now I have it proved once,
For hunger ere I be wo,
I and my folk shall eat mo!'


The besieged now offered to surrenderupon conditions of safety
to the inhabitants; while all the public treasuremilitary
machinesand arms were delivered to the victorstogether with
the further ransom of one hundred thousand bezants. After this
capitulationthe following extraordinary scene took place. We
shall give it in the words of the humorous and amiable George
Ellisthe collector and the editor of these Romances:--


Though the garrison had faithfully performed the other articles
of their contract, they were unable to restore the cross, which
was not in their possession, and were therefore treated by the
Christians with great cruelty. Daily reports of their sufferings
were carried to Saladin; and as many of them were persons of the
highest distinction, that monarch, at the solicitation of their
friends, dispatched an embassy to King Richard with magnificent
presents, which he offered for the ransom of the captives. The
ambassadors were persons the most respectable from their age,
their rank, and their eloquence. They delivered their message in
terms of the utmost humility; and without arraigning the justice
of the conqueror in his severe treatment of their countrymen,
only solicited a period to that severity, laying at his feet the
treasures with which they were entrusted, and pledging themselves
and their master for the payment of any further sums which he
might demand as the price of mercy.


King Richard spake with wordes mild.
'The gold to takeGod me shield!
Among you partes [Divide] every charge.
I brought in shippes and in barge
More gold and silver with me
Than has your lordand swilke three.
To his treasure have I no need!
But for my love I you bid
To meat with me that ye dwell;
And afterward I shall you tell.
Thorough counsel I shall you answer
What BODE [Message] ye shall to your lord bear.


The invitation was gratefully accepted. Richard, in the
meantime, gave secret orders to his marshal that he should repair
to the prison, select a certain number of the most distinguished
captives, and, after carefully noting their names on a roll of
parchment, cause their heads to be instantly struck off; that
these heads should be delivered to the cook, with instructions to
clear away the hair, and, after boiling them in a cauldron, to
distribute them on several platters, one to each guest, observing
to fasten on the forehead of each the piece of parchment
expressing the name and family of the victim.


'An hot head bring me beforn
As I were well apayed withall
Eat thereof fast I shall;
As it were a tender chick
To see how the others will like.'


This horrible order was punctually executed. At noon the guests
were summoned to wash by the music of the waits. The king took
his seat attended by the principal officers of his court, at the
high table, and the rest of the company were marshalled at a long
table below him. On the cloth were placed portions of salt at



the usual distances, but neither bread, wine, nor water. The
ambassadors, rather surprised at this omission, but still free
from apprehension, awaited in silence the arrival of the dinner,
which was announced by the sound of pipes, trumpets, and tabours;
and beheld, with horror and dismay, the unnatural banquet
introduced by the steward and his officers. Yet their sentiments
of disgust and abhorrence, and even their fears, were for a time
suspended by their curiosity. Their eyes were fixed on the king,
who, without the slightest change of countenance, swallowed the
morsels as fast as they could be supplied by the knight who
carved them.


Every man then poked other;
They said'This is the devil's brother
That slays our menand thus hem eats!'


Their attention was then involuntarily fixed on the smoking
heads before them. They traced in the swollen and distorted
features the resemblance of a friend or near relation, and
received from the fatal scroll which accompanied each dish the
sad assurance that this resemblance was not imaginary. They sat
in torpid silence, anticipating their own fate in that of their
countrymen; while their ferocious entertainer, with fury in his
eyes, but with courtesy on his lips, insulted them by frequent
invitations to merriment. At length this first course was
removed, and its place supplied by venison, cranes, and other
dainties, accompanied by the richest wines. The king then
apologized to them for what had passed, which he attributed to
his ignorance of their taste; and assured them of his religious
respect for their characters as ambassadors, and of his readiness
to grant them a safe-conduct for their return. This boon was all
that they now wished to claim; and


King Richard spake to an old man
'Wendes home to your Soudan!
His melancholy that ye abate;
And sayes that ye came too late.
Too slowly was your time y-guessed;
Ere ye camethe flesh was dressed
That men shoulden serve with me
Thus at noonand my meynie.
Say himit shall him nought avail
Though he for-bar us our vitail
Breadwinefishfleshsalmonand conger;
Of us none shall die with hunger
While we may wenden to fight
And slay the Saracens downright
Wash the fleshand roast the head.
With OO [One] Saracen I may well feed
Well a nine or a ten
Of my good Christian men.
King Richard shall warrant
There is no flesh so nourissant
Unto an English man
Partridgeploverheronne swan
Cow ne oxsheep ne swine
As the head of a Sarazyn.
There he is fatand thereto tender
And my men be lean and slender.
While any Saracen quick be
Livand now in this Syrie
For meat will we nothing care.
Abouten fast we shall rare
And every day we shall eat



All as many as we may get.
To England will we nought gon
Till they be eaten every one.'"


ELLIS'S SPECIMENS OF EARLY ENGLISH METRICEL ROMANCES.

The reader may be curious to know owing to what circumstances so
extraordinary an invention as that which imputed cannibalism to
the King of England should have found its way into his history.
Mr. Jamesto whom we owe so much that is curiousseems to have
traced the origin of this extraordinary rumour.

With the army of the cross also was a multitude of men,the
same author declareswho made it a profession to be without
money. They walked barefoot, carried no arms, and even preceded
the beasts of burden in their march, living upon roots and herbs,
and presenting a spectacle both disgusting and pitiable.

A Normanwhoaccording to all accountswas of noble birth
but whohaving lost his horsecontinued to follow as a foot
soldiertook the strange resolution of putting himself at the
head of this race of vagabondswho willingly received him as
their king. Amongst the Saracens these men became well known
under the name of THAFURS (which Guibert translates TRUDENTES)
and were beheld with great horror from the general persuasion
that they fed on the dead bodies of their enemies; a report which
was occasionally justifiedand which the king of the Thafurs
took care to encourage. This respectable monarch was frequently
in the habit of stopping his followersone by onein a narrow
defileand of causing them to be searched carefullylest the
possession of the least sum of money should render them unworthy
of the name of his subjects. If even two sous were found upon
any onehe was instantly expelled the society of his tribethe
king bidding him contemptuously buy arms and fight.

This troop, so far from being cumbersome to the army, was
infinitely serviceable, carrying burdens, bringing in forage,
provisions, and tribute; working the machines in the sieges; and,
above all, spreading consternation among the Turks, who feared
death from the lances of the knights less than that further
consummation they heard of under the teeth of the Thafurs.
[James's "History of Chivalry."]

It is easy to conceive that an ignorant minstrelfinding the
taste and ferocity of the Thafurs commemorated in the historical
accounts of the Holy Warshas ascribed their practices and
propensities to the Monarch of Englandwhose ferocity was
considered as an object of exaggeration as legitimate as his
valour.

ABBOTSFORD1st July1832.

*

TALES OF THE CRUSADERS. TALE II.--THE TALISMAN.

*

CHAPTER I.


Theytooretired
To the wildernessbut 'twas with arms. PARADISE REGAINED.


The burning sun of Syria had not yet attained its highest point
in the horizonwhen a knight of the Red Crosswho had left his
distant northern home and joined the host of the Crusaders in
Palestinewas pacing slowly along the sandy deserts which lie in
the vicinity of the Dead Seaoras it is calledthe Lake
Asphaltiteswhere the waves of the Jordan pour themselves into
an inland seafrom which there is no discharge of waters.


The warlike pilgrim had toiled among cliffs and precipices during
the earlier part of the morning. More latelyissuing from those
rocky and dangerous defileshe had entered upon that great
plainwhere the accursed cities provokedin ancient daysthe
direct and dreadful vengeance of the Omnipotent.


The toilthe thirstthe dangers of the waywere forgottenas
the traveller recalled the fearful catastrophe which had
converted into an arid and dismal wilderness the fair and fertile
valley of Siddimonce well wateredeven as the Garden of the
Lordnow a parched and blighted wastecondemned to eternal
sterility.


Crossing himselfas he viewed the dark mass of rolling waters
in colour as in duality unlike those of any other lakethe
traveller shuddered as he remembered that beneath these sluggish
waves lay the once proud cities of the plainwhose grave was dug
by the thunder of the heavensor the eruption of subterraneous
fireand whose remains were hideven by that sea which holds no
living fish in its bosombears no skiff on its surfaceandas
if its own dreadful bed were the only fit receptacle for its
sullen waterssends notlike other lakesa tribute to the
ocean. The whole land aroundas in the days of Moseswas
brimstone and salt; it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass
groweth thereon.The land as well as the lake might be termed
deadas producing nothing having resemblance to vegetationand
even the very air was entirely devoid of its ordinary winged
inhabitantsdeterred probably by the odour of bitumen and
sulphur which the burning sun exhaled from the waters of the lake
in steaming cloudsfrequently assuming the appearance of
waterspouts. Masses of the slimy and sulphureous substance
called naphthawhich floated idly on the sluggish and sullen
wavessupplied those rolling clouds with new vapoursand
afforded awful testimony to the truth of the Mosaic history.


Upon this scene of desolation the sun shone with almost
intolerable splendourand all living nature seemed to have
hidden itself from the raysexcepting the solitary figure which
moved through the flitting sand at a foot's paceand appeared
the sole breathing thing on the wide surface of the plain. The
dress of the rider and the accoutrements of his horse were
peculiarly unfit for the traveller in such a country. A coat of
linked mailwith long sleevesplated gauntletsand a steel
breastplatehad not been esteemed a sufficient weight of armour;
there were also his triangular shield suspended round his neck
and his barred helmet of steelover which he had a hood and
collar of mailwhich was drawn around the warrior's shoulders
and throatand filled up the vacancy between the hauberk and the
headpiece. His lower limbs were sheathedlike his bodyin
flexible mailsecuring the legs and thighswhile the feet
rested in plated shoeswhich corresponded with the gauntlets. A
longbroadstraight-shapeddouble-edged falchionwith a
handle formed like a crosscorresponded with a stout poniard on



the other side. The knight also boresecured to his saddle
with one end resting on his stirrupthe long steel-headed lance
his own proper weaponwhichas he rodeprojected backwards
and displayed its little pennoncelleto dally with the faint
breezeor drop in the dead calm. To this cumbrous equipment
must be added a surcoat of embroidered clothmuch frayed and
wornwhich was thus far useful that it excluded the burning rays
of the sun from the armourwhich they would otherwise have
rendered intolerable to the wearer. The surcoat borein several
placesthe arms of the owneralthough much defaced. These
seemed to be a couchant leopardwith the mottoI sleep; wake
me not.An outline of the same device might be traced on his
shieldthough many a blow had almost effaced the painting. The
flat top of his cumbrous cylindrical helmet was unadorned with
any crest. In retaining their own unwieldy defensive armourthe
Northern Crusaders seemed to set at defiance the nature of the
climate and country to which they had come to war.

The accoutrements of the horse were scarcely less massive and
unwieldy than those of the rider. The animal had a heavy saddle
plated with steeluniting in front with a species of
breastplateand behind with defensive armour made to cover the
loins. Then there was a steel axeor hammercalled a mace-of-armsand which hung to the saddle-bow.
The reins were secured
by chain-workand the front-stall of the bridle was a steel
platewith apertures for the eyes and nostrilshaving in the
midst a shortsharp pikeprojecting from the forehead of the
horse like the horn of the fabulous unicorn.

But habit had made the endurance of this load of panoply a second
natureboth to the knight and his gallant charger. Numbers
indeedof the Western warriors who hurried to Palestine died ere
they became inured to the burning climate; but there were others
to whom that climate became innocent and even friendlyand among
this fortunate number was the solitary horseman who now traversed
the border of the Dead Sea.

Naturewhich cast his limbs in a mould of uncommon strength
fitted to wear his linked hauberk with as much ease as if the
meshes had been formed of cobwebshad endowed him with a
constitution as strong as his limbsand which bade defiance to
almost all changes of climateas well as to fatigue and
privations of every kind. His disposition seemedin some
degreeto partake of the qualities of his bodily frame; and as
the one possessed great strength and enduranceunited with the
power of violent exertionthe otherunder a calm and
undisturbed semblancehad much of the fiery and enthusiastic
love of glory which constituted the principal attribute of the
renowned Norman lineand had rendered them sovereigns in every
corner of Europe where they had drawn their adventurous swords.

It was nothoweverto all the race that fortune proposed such
tempting rewards; and those obtained by the solitary knight
during two years' campaign in Palestine had been only temporal
fameandas he was taught to believespiritual privileges.
Meantimehis slender stock of money had melted awaythe rather
that he did not pursue any of the ordinary modes by which the
followers of the Crusade condescended to recruit their diminished
resources at the expense of the people of Palestine--he exacted
no gifts from the wretched natives for sparing their possessions
when engaged in warfare with the Saracensand he had not availed
himself of any opportunity of enriching himself by the ransom of
prisoners of consequence. The small train which had followed him
from his native country had been gradually diminishedas the


means of maintaining them disappearedand his only remaining
squire was at present on a sick-bedand unable to attend his
masterwho travelledas we have seensingly and alone. This
was of little consequence to the Crusaderwho was accustomed to
consider his good sword as his safest escortand devout thoughts
as his best companion.

Nature hadhoweverher demands for refreshment and repose even
on the iron frame and patient disposition of the Knight of the
Sleeping Leopard; and at noonwhen the Dead Sea lay at some
distance on his righthe joyfully hailed the sight of two or
three palm-treeswhich arose beside the well which was assigned
for his mid-day station. His good horsetoowhich had plodded
forward with the steady endurance of his masternow lifted his
headexpanded his nostrilsand quickened his paceas if he
snuffed afar off the living waters which marked the place of
repose and refreshment. But labour and danger were doomed to
intervene ere the horse or horseman reached the desired spot.

As the Knight of the Couchant Leopard continued to fix his eyes
attentively on the yet distant cluster of palm-treesit seemed
to him as if some object was moving among them. The distant form
separated itself from the treeswhich partly hid its motions
and advanced towards the knight with a speed which soon showed a
mounted horsemanwhom his turbanlong spearand green caftan
floating in the windon his nearer approach showed to be a
Saracen cavalier. "In the desert saith an Eastern proverb, no
man meets a friend." The Crusader was totally indifferent
whether the infidelwho now approached on his gallant barb as if
borne on the wings of an eaglecame as friend or foe--perhaps
as a vowed champion of the Crosshe might rather have preferred
the latter. He disengaged his lance from his saddleseized it
with the right handplaced it in rest with its point half
elevatedgathered up the reins in the leftwaked his horse's
mettle with the spurand prepared to encounter the stranger with
the calm self-confidence belonging to the victor in many
contests.

The Saracen came on at the speedy gallop of an Arab horseman
managing his steed more by his limbs and the inflection of his
body than by any use of the reinswhich hung loose in his left
hand; so that he was enabled to wield the lightround buckler of
the skin of the rhinocerosornamented with silver loopswhich
he wore on his armswinging it as if he meant to oppose its
slender circle to the formidable thrust of the Western lance.
His own long spear was not couched or levelled like that of his
antagonistbut grasped by the middle with his right handand
brandished at arm's-length above his head. As the cavalier
approached his enemy at full careerhe seemed to expect that the
Knight of the Leopard should put his horse to the gallop to
encounter him. But the Christian knightwell acquainted with
the customs of Eastern warriorsdid not mean to exhaust his good
horse by any unnecessary exertion; andon the contrarymade a
dead haltconfident that if the enemy advanced to the actual
shockhis own weightand that of his powerful chargerwould
give him sufficient advantagewithout the additional momentum of
rapid motion. Equally sensible and apprehensive of such a
probable resultthe Saracen cavalierwhen he had approached
towards the Christian within twice the length of his lance
wheeled his steed to the left with inimitable dexterityand rode
twice around his antagonistwhoturning without quitting his
groundand presenting his front constantly to his enemy
frustrated his attempts to attack him on an unguarded point; so
that the Saracenwheeling his horsewas fain to retreat to the


distance of a hundred yards. A second timelike a hawk
attacking a heronthe heathen renewed the chargeand a second
time was fain to retreat without coming to a close struggle. A
third time he approached in the same mannerwhen the Christian
knightdesirous to terminate this illusory warfarein which he
might at length have been worn out by the activity of his foeman
suddenly seized the mace which hung at his saddle-bowandwith
a strong hand and unerring aimhurled it against the head of the
Emirfor such and not less his enemy appeared. The Saracen was
just aware of the formidable missile in time to interpose his
light buckler betwixt the mace and his head; but the violence of
the blow forced the buckler down on his turbanand though that
defence also contributed to deaden its violencethe Saracen was
beaten from his horse. Ere the Christian could avail himself of
this mishaphis nimble foeman sprung from the groundand
calling on his steedwhich instantly returned to his sidehe
leaped into his seat without touching the stirrupand regained
all the advantage of which the Knight of the Leopard hoped to
deprive him. But the latter had in the meanwhile recovered his
maceand the Eastern cavalierwho remembered the strength and
dexterity with which his antagonist had aimed itseemed to keep
cautiously out of reach of that weapon of which he had so lately
felt the forcewhile he showed his purpose of waging a distant
warfare with missile weapons of his own. Planting his long spear
in the sand at a distance from the scene of combathe strung
with great addressa short bowwhich he carried at his back;
and putting his horse to the galloponce more described two or
three circles of a wider extent than formerlyin the course of
which he discharged six arrows at the Christian with such
unerring skill that the goodness of his harness alone saved him
from being wounded in as many places. The seventh shaft
apparently found a less perfect part of the armourand the
Christian dropped heavily from his horse. But what was the
surprise of the Saracenwhendismounting to examine the
condition of his prostrate enemyhe found himself suddenly
within the grasp of the Europeanwho had had recourse to this
artifice to bring his enemy within his reach! Even in this
deadly grapple the Saracen was saved by his agility and presence
of mind. He unloosed the sword-beltin which the Knight of the
Leopard had fixed his holdandthus eluding his fatal grasp
mounted his horsewhich seemed to watch his motions with the
intelligence of a human beingand again rode off. But in the
last encounter the Saracen had lost his sword and his quiver of
arrowsboth of which were attached to the girdle which he was
obliged to abandon. He had also lost his turban in the struggle.

These disadvantages seemed to incline the Moslem to a truce. He
approached the Christian with his right hand extendedbut no
longer in a menacing attitude.

There is truce betwixt our nations,he saidin the lingua
franca commonly used for the purpose of communication with the
Crusaders; "wherefore should there be war betwixt thee and me?
Let there be peace betwixt us."

I am well contented,answered he of the Couchant Leopard; "but
what security dost thou offer that thou wilt observe the truce?"

The word of a follower of the Prophet was never broken,
answered the Emir. "It is thoubrave Nazarenefrom whom I
should demand securitydid I not know that treason seldom dwells
with courage."

The Crusader felt that the confidence of the Moslem made him


ashamed of his own doubts.

By the cross of my sword,he saidlaying his hand on the
weapon as he spokeI will be true companion to thee, Saracen,
while our fortune wills that we remain in company together.

By Mohammed, Prophet of God, and by Allah, God of the Prophet,
replied his late foemanthere is not treachery in my heart
towards thee. And now wend we to yonder fountain, for the hour
of rest is at hand, and the stream had hardly touched my lip when
I was called to battle by thy approach.

The Knight of the Couchant Leopard yielded a ready and courteous
assent; and the late foeswithout an angry look or gesture of
doubtrode side by side to the little cluster of palm-trees.

CHAPTER II.

Times of danger have alwaysand in a peculiar degreetheir
seasons of good-will and security; and this was particularly so
in the ancient feudal agesin whichas the manners of the
period had assigned war to be the chief and most worthy
occupation of mankindthe intervals of peaceor rather of
trucewere highly relished by those warriors to whom they were
seldom grantedand endeared by the very circumstances which
rendered them transitory. It is not worth while preserving any
permanent enmity against a foe whom a champion has fought with
to-dayand may again stand in bloody opposition to on the next
morning. The time and situation afforded so much room for the
ebullition of violent passionsthat menunless when peculiarly
opposed to each otheror provoked by the recollection of private
and individual wrongscheerfully enjoyed in each other's society
the brief intervals of pacific intercourse which a warlike life
admitted.

The distinction of religionsnaythe fanatical zeal which
animated the followers of the Cross and of the Crescent against
each otherwas much softened by a feeling so natural to generous
combatantsand especially cherished by the spirit of chivalry.
This last strong impulse had extended itself gradually from the
Christians to their mortal enemies the Saracensboth of Spain
and of Palestine. The latter wereindeedno longer the
fanatical savages who had burst from the centre of Arabian
desertswith the sabre in one hand and the Koran in the other
to inflict death or the faith of Mohammedorat the best
slavery and tributeupon all who dared to oppose the belief of
the prophet of Mecca. These alternatives indeed had been offered
to the unwarlike Greeks and Syrians; but in contending with the
Western Christiansanimated by a zeal as fiery as their ownand
possessed of as unconquerable courageaddressand success in
armsthe Saracens gradually caught a part of their mannersand
especially of those chivalrous observances which were so well
calculated to charm the minds of a proud and conquering people.
They had their tournaments and games of chivalry; they had even
their knightsor some rank analogous; and above allthe
Saracens observed their plighted faith with an accuracy which
might sometimes put to shame those who owned a better religion.
Their truceswhether national or betwixt individualswere
faithfully observed; and thus it was that warin itself perhaps
the greatest of evilsyet gave occasion for display of good
faithgenerosityclemencyand even kindly affectionswhich
less frequently occur in more tranquil periodswhere the


passions of menexperiencing wrongs or entertaining quarrels
which cannot be brought to instant decisionare apt to smoulder
for a length of time in the bosoms of those who are so unhappy as
to be their prey.

It was under the influence of these milder feelings which soften
the horrors of warfare that the Christian and Saracenwho had so
lately done their best for each other's mutual destructionrode
at a slow pace towards the fountain of palm-trees to which the
Knight of the Couchant Leopard had been tendingwhen interrupted
in mid-passage by his fleet and dangerous adversary. Each was
wrapt for some time in his own reflectionsand took breath after
an encounter which had threatened to be fatal to one or both; and
their good horses seemed no less to enjoy the interval of repose.

That of the Saracenhoweverthough he had been forced into much
the more violent and extended sphere of motionappeared to have
suffered less from fatigue than the charger of the European
knight. The sweat hung still clammy on the limbs of the latter
when those of the noble Arab were completely dried by the
interval of tranquil exerciseall saving the foam-flakes which
were still visible on his bridle and housings. The loose soil on
which he trod so much augmented the distress of the Christian's
horseheavily loaded by his own armour and the weight of his
riderthat the latter jumped from his saddleand led his
charger along the deep dust of the loamy soilwhich was burnt in
the sun into a substance more impalpable than the finest sand
and thus gave the faithful horse refreshment at the expense of
his own additional toil; foriron-sheathed as he washe sunk
over the mailed shoes at every step which he placed on a surface
so light and unresisting.

You are right,said the Saracen--and it was the first word that
either had spoken since their truce was concluded; "your strong
horse deserves your care. But what do you in the desert with an
animal which sinks over the fetlock at every step as if he would
plant each foot deep as the root of a date-tree?"

Thou speakest rightly, Saracen,said the Christian knightnot
delighted at the tone with which the infidel criticized his
favourite steed--"rightlyaccording to thy knowledge and
observation. But my good horse hath ere now borne mein mine
own landover as wide a lake as thou seest yonder spread out
behind usyet not wet one hair above his hoof."

The Saracen looked at him with as much surprise as his manners
permitted him to testifywhich was only expressed by a slight
approach to a disdainful smilethat hardly curled perceptibly
the broadthick moustache which enveloped his upper lip.

It is justly spoken,he saidinstantly composing himself to
his usual serene gravity; "List to a Frankand hear a fable."

Thou art not courteous, misbeliever,replied the Crusaderto
doubt the word of a dubbed knight; and were it not that thou
speakest in ignorance, and not in malice, our truce had its
ending ere it is well begun. Thinkest thou I tell thee an
untruth when I say that I, one of five hundred horsemen, armed in
complete mail, have ridden--ay, and ridden for miles, upon water
as solid as the crystal, and ten times less brittle?

What wouldst thou tell me?answered the Moslem. "Yonder
inland sea thou dost point at is peculiar in thisthatby the
especial curse of Godit suffereth nothing to sink in its waves


but wafts them awayand casts them on its margin; but neither
the Dead Seanor any of the seven oceans which environ the
earthwill endure on their surface the pressure of a horse's
footmore than the Red Sea endured to sustain the advance of
Pharaoh and his host."

You speak truth after your knowledge, Saracen,said the
Christian knight; "and yettrust meI fable notaccording to
mine. Heatin this climateconverts the soil into something
almost as unstable as water; and in my land cold often converts
the water itself into a substance as hard as rock. Let us speak
of this no longerfor the thoughts of the calmclearblue
refulgence of a winter's lakeglimmering to stars and moonbeam
aggravate the horrors of this fiery desertwheremethinksthe
very air which we breathe is like the vapour of a fiery furnace
seven times heated."

The Saracen looked on him with some attentionas if to discover
in what sense he was to understand words whichto himmust have
appeared either to contain something of mystery or of imposition.
At length he seemed determined in what manner to receive the
language of his new companion.

You are,he saidof a nation that loves to laugh, and you
make sport with yourselves, and with others, by telling what is
impossible, and reporting what never chanced. Thou art one of
the knights of France, who hold it for glee and pastime to GAB,
as they term it, of exploits that are beyond human power.
[Gaber. This French word signified a sort of sport much used
among the French chivalry, which consisted in vying with each
other in making the most romantic gasconades. The verb and the
meaning are retained in Scottish.] I were wrong to challenge,
for the time, the privilege of thy speech, since boasting is more
natural to thee than truth.

I am not of their land, neither of their fashion,said the
Knightwhich is, as thou well sayest, to GAB of that which they
dare not undertake--or, undertaking, cannot perfect. But in this
I have imitated their folly, brave Saracen, that in talking to
thee of what thou canst not comprehend, I have, even in speaking
most simple truth, fully incurred the character of a braggart in
thy eyes; so, I pray you, let my words pass.

They had now arrived at the knot of palm-trees and the fountain
which welled out from beneath their shade in sparkling profusion.

We have spoken of a moment of truce in the midst of war; and
thisa spot of beauty in the midst of a sterile desertwas
scarce less dear to the imagination. It was a scene which
perhapswould elsewhere have deserved little notice; but as the
single speckin a boundless horizonwhich promised the
refreshment of shade and living waterthese blessingsheld
cheap where they are commonrendered the fountain and its
neighbourhood a little paradise. Some generous or charitable
handere yet the evil days of Palestine beganhad walled in and
arched over the fountainto preserve it from being absorbed in
the earthor choked by the flitting clouds of dust with which
the least breath of wind covered the desert. The arch was now
brokenand partly ruinous; but it still so far projected over
and covered in the fountain that it excluded the sun in a great
measure from its waterswhichhardly touched by a straggling
beamwhile all around was blazinglay in a steady reposealike
delightful to the eye and the imagination. Stealing from under
the archthey were first received in a marble basinmuch


defaced indeedbut still cheering the eyeby showing that the
place was anciently considered as a stationthat the hand of man
had been there and that man's accommodation had been in some
measure attended to. The thirsty and weary traveller was
reminded by these signs that others had suffered similar
difficultiesreposed in the same spotanddoubtlessfound
their way in safety to a more fertile country. Againthe scarce
visible current which escaped from the basin served to nourish
the few trees which surrounded the fountainand where it sunk
into the ground and disappearedits refreshing presence was
acknowledged by a carpet of velvet verdure.

In this delightful spot the two warriors haltedand eachafter
his own fashionproceeded to relieve his horse from saddlebit
and reinand permitted the animals to drink at the basinere
they refreshed themselves from the fountain headwhich arose
under the vault. They then suffered the steeds to go loose
confident that their interestas well as their domesticated
habitswould prevent their straying from the pure water and
fresh grass.

Christian and Saracen next sat down together on the turfand
produced each the small allowance of store which they carried for
their own refreshment. Yetere they severally proceeded to
their scanty mealthey eyed each other with that curiosity which
the close and doubtful conflict in which they had been so lately
engaged was calculated to inspire. Each was desirous to measure
the strengthand form some estimate of the characterof an
adversary so formidable; and each was compelled to acknowledge
thathad he fallen in the conflictit had been by a noble hand.

The champions formed a striking contrast to each other in person
and featuresand might have formed no inaccurate representatives
of their different nations. The Frank seemed a powerful man
built after the ancient Gothic cast of formwith light brown
hairwhichon the removal of his helmetwas seen to curl thick
and profusely over his head. His features had acquiredfrom the
hot climatea hue much darker than those parts of his neck which
were less frequently exposed to viewor than was warranted by
his full and well-opened blue eyethe colour of his hairand of
the moustaches which thickly shaded his upper lipwhile his chin
was carefully divested of beardafter the Norman fashion. His
nose was Grecian and well formed; his mouth rather large in
proportionbut filled with well-setstrongand beautifully
white teeth; his head smalland set upon the neck with much
grace. His age could not exceed thirtybut if the effects of
toil and climate were allowed formight be three or four years
under that period. His form was tallpowerfuland athletic
like that of a man whose strength mightin later lifebecome
unwieldybut which was hitherto united with lightness and
activity. His handswhen he withdrew the mailed gloveswere
longfairand well-proportioned; the wrist-bones peculiarly
large and strong; and the arms remarkably well-shaped and brawny.
A military hardihood and careless frankness of expression
characterized his language and his motions; and his voice had the
tone of one more accustomed to command than to obeyand who was
in the habit of expressing his sentiments aloud and boldly
whenever he was called upon to announce them.

The Saracen Emir formed a marked and striking contrast with the
Western Crusader. His stature was indeed above the middle size
but he was at least three inches shorter than the Europeanwhose
size approached the gigantic. His slender limbs and longspare
hands and armsthough well proportioned to his personand


suited to the style of his countenancedid not at first aspect
promise the display of vigour and elasticity which the Emir had
lately exhibited. But on looking more closelyhis limbswhere
exposed to viewseemed divested of all that was fleshy or
cumbersome; so that nothing being left but bonebrawnand
sinewit was a frame fitted for exertion and fatiguefar beyond
that of a bulky championwhose strength and size are
counterbalanced by weightand who is exhausted by his own
exertions. The countenance of the Saracen naturally bore a
general national resemblance to the Eastern tribe from whom he
descendedand was as unlike as possible to the exaggerated terms
in which the minstrels of the day were wont to represent the
infidel championsand the fabulous description which a sister
art still presents as the Saracen's Head upon signposts. His
features were smallwell-formedand delicatethough deeply
embrowned by the Eastern sunand terminated by a flowing and
curled black beardwhich seemed trimmed with peculiar care. The
nose was straight and regularthe eyes keendeep-setblack
and glowingand his teeth equalled in beauty the ivory of his
deserts. The person and proportions of the Saracenin short
stretched on the turf near to his powerful antagonistmight have
been compared to his sheeny and crescent-formed sabrewith its
narrow and light but bright and keen Damascus bladecontrasted
with the long and ponderous Gothic war-sword which was flung
unbuckled on the same sod. The Emir was in the very flower of
his ageand might perhaps have been termed eminently beautiful
but for the narrowness of his forehead and something of too much
thinness and sharpness of featureor at least what might have
seemed such in a European estimate of beauty.

The manners of the Eastern warrior were gravegracefuland
decorous; indicatinghoweverin some particularsthe habitual
restraint which men of warm and choleric tempers often set as a
guard upon their native impetuosity of dispositionand at the
same time a sense of his own dignitywhich seemed to impose a
certain formality of behaviour in him who entertained it.

This haughty feeling of superiority was perhaps equally
entertained by his new European acquaintancebut the effect was
different; and the same feelingwhich dictated to the Christian
knight a boldbluntand somewhat careless bearingas one too
conscious of his own importance to be anxious about the opinions
of othersappeared to prescribe to the Saracen a style of
courtesy more studiously and formally observant of ceremony.
Both were courteous; but the courtesy of the Christian seemed to
flow rather from a good humoured sense of what was due to others;
that of the Moslemfrom a high feeling of what was to be
expected from himself.

The provision which each had made for his refreshment was simple
but the meal of the Saracen was abstemious. A handful of dates
and a morsel of coarse barley-bread sufficed to relieve the
hunger of the latterwhose education had habituated them to the
fare of the desertalthoughsince their Syrian conqueststhe
Arabian simplicity of life frequently gave place to the most
unbounded profusion of luxury. A few draughts from the lovely
fountain by which they reposed completed his meal. That of the
Christianthough coarsewas more genial. Dried hog's flesh
the abomination of the Moslemahwas the chief part of his
repast; and his drinkderived from a leathern bottlecontained
something better than pure element. He fed with more display of
appetiteand drank with more appearance of satisfactionthan
the Saracen judged it becoming to show in the performance of a
mere bodily function; anddoubtlessthe secret contempt which


each entertained for the otheras the follower of a false
religionwas considerably increased by the marked difference of
their diet and manners. But each had found the weight of his
opponent's armand the mutual respect which the bold struggle
had created was sufficient to subdue other and inferior
considerations. Yet the Saracen could not help remarking the
circumstances which displeased him in the Christian's conduct and
manners; andafter he had witnessed for some time in silence the
keen appetite which protracted the knight's banquet long after
his own was concludedhe thus addressed him:-


Valiant Nazarene, is it fitting that one who can fight like a
man should feed like a dog or a wolf? Even a misbelieving Jew
would shudder at the food which you seem to eat with as much
relish as if it were fruit from the trees of Paradise.

Valiant Saracen,answered the Christianlooking up with some
surprise at the accusation thus unexpectedly broughtknow thou
that I exercise my Christian freedom in using that which is
forbidden to the Jews, being, as they esteem themselves, under
the bondage of the old law of Moses. We, Saracen, be it known to
thee, have a better warrant for what we do--Ave Maria!--be we
thankful.Andas if in defiance of his companion's scruples
he concluded a short Latin grace with a long draught from the
leathern bottle.

That, too, you call a part of your liberty,said the Saracen;
and as you feed like the brutes, so you degrade yourself to the
bestial condition by drinking a poisonous liquor which even they
refuse!

Know, foolish Saracen,replied the Christianwithout
hesitationthat thou blasphemest the gifts of God, even with
the blasphemy of thy father Ishmael. The juice of the grape is
given to him that will use it wisely, as that which cheers the
heart of man after toil, refreshes him in sickness, and comforts
him in sorrow. He who so enjoyeth it may thank God for his winecup as for his daily bread; and he who
abuseth the gift of Heaven
is not a greater fool in his intoxication than thou in thine
abstinence.

The keen eye of the Saracen kindled at this sarcasmand his hand
sought the hilt of his poniard. It was but a momentary thought
howeverand died away in the recollection of the powerful
champion with whom he had to dealand the desperate grapplethe
impression of which still throbbed in his limbs and veins; and he
contented himself with pursuing the contest in colloquyas more
convenient for the time.

Thy wordshe saidO Nazarene, might create anger, did not thy
ignorance raise compassion. Seest thou not, O thou more blind
than any who asks alms at the door of the Mosque, that the
liberty thou dost boast of is restrained even in that which is
dearest to man's happiness and to his household; and that thy
law, if thou dost practise it, binds thee in marriage to one
single mate, be she sick or healthy, be she fruitful or barren,
bring she comfort and joy, or clamour and strife, to thy table
and to thy bed? This, Nazarene, I do indeed call slavery;
whereas, to the faithful, hath the Prophet assigned upon earth
the patriarchal privileges of Abraham our father, and of Solomon,
the wisest of mankind, having given us here a succession of
beauty at our pleasure, and beyond the grave the black-eyed
houris of Paradise.


Now, by His name that I most reverence in heaven,said the
Christianand by hers whom I most worship on earth, thou art
but a blinded and a bewildered infidel!-- That diamond signet
which thou wearest on thy finger, thou holdest it, doubtless, as
of inestimable value?


Balsora and Bagdad cannot show the like,replied the Saracen;
but what avails it to our purpose?


Much,replied the Frankas thou shalt thyself confess. Take
my war-axe and dash the stone into twenty shivers: would each
fragment be as valuable as the original gem, or would they, all
collected, bear the tenth part of its estimation?


That is a child's question,answered the Saracen; "the
fragments of such a stone would not equal the entire jewel in the
degree of hundreds to one."


Saracen,replied the Christian warriorthe love which a true
knight binds on one only, fair and faithful, is the gem entire;
the affection thou flingest among thy enslaved wives and half-wedded slaves is worthless, comparatively,
as the sparkling
shivers of the broken diamond.


Now, by the Holy Caaba,said the Emirthou art a madman who
hugs his chain of iron as if it were of gold! Look more closely.
This ring of mine would lose half its beauty were not the signet
encircled and enchased with these lesser brilliants, which grace
it and set it off. The central diamond is man, firm and entire,
his value depending on himself alone; and this circle of lesser
jewels are women, borrowing his lustre, which he deals out to
them as best suits his pleasure or his convenience. Take the
central stone from the signet, and the diamond itself remains as
valuable as ever, while the lesser gems are comparatively of
little value. And this is the true reading of thy parable; for
what sayeth the poet Mansour: 'It is the favour of man which
giveth beauty and comeliness to woman, as the stream glitters no
longer when the sun ceaseth to shine.'


Saracen,replied the Crusaderthou speakest like one who
never saw a woman worthy the affection of a soldier. Believe me,
couldst thou look upon those of Europe, to whom, after Heaven, we
of the order of knighthood vow fealty and devotion, thou wouldst
loathe for ever the poor sensual slaves who form thy haram. The
beauty of our fair ones gives point to our spears and edge to our
swords; their words are our law; and as soon will a lamp shed
lustre when unkindled, as a knight distinguish himself by feats
of arms, having no mistress of his affection.


I have heard of this frenzy among the warriors of the West,
said the Emirand have ever accounted it one of the
accompanying symptoms of that insanity which brings you hither to
obtain possession of an empty sepulchre. But yet, methinks, so
highly have the Franks whom I have met with extolled the beauty
of their women, I could be well contented to behold with mine own
eyes those charms which can transform such brave warriors into
the tools of their pleasure.


Brave Saracen,said the Knightif I were not on a pilgrimage
to the Holy Sepulchre, it should be my pride to conduct you, on
assurance of safety, to the camp of Richard of England, than whom
none knows better how to do honour to a noble foe; and though I
be poor and unattended yet have I interest to secure for thee, or
any such as thou seemest, not safety only, but respect and



esteem. There shouldst thou see several of the fairest beauties
of France and Britain form a small circle, the brilliancy of
which exceeds ten-thousandfold the lustre of mines of diamonds
such as thine.

Now, by the corner-stone of the Caaba!said the SaracenI
will accept thy invitation as freely as it is given, if thou wilt
postpone thy present intent; and, credit me, brave Nazarene, it
were better for thyself to turn back thy horse's head towards the
camp of thy people, for to travel towards Jerusalem without a
passport is but a wilful casting-away of thy life.

I have a pass,answered the Knightproducing a parchment
Under Saladin's hand and signet.

The Saracen bent his head to the dust as he recognized the seal
and handwriting of the renowned Soldan of Egypt and Syria; and
having kissed the paper with profound respecthe pressed it to
his foreheadthen returned it to the ChristiansayingRash
Frank, thou hast sinned against thine own blood and mine, for not
showing this to me when we met.

You came with levelled spear,said the Knight. "Had a troop of
Saracens so assailed meit might have stood with my honour to
have shown the Soldan's passbut never to one man."

And yet one man,said the Saracen haughtilywas enough to
interrupt your journey.

True, brave Moslem,replied the Christian; "but there are few
such as thou art. Such falcons fly not in flocks; orif they
dothey pounce not in numbers upon one."

Thou dost us but justice,said the Saracenevidently gratified
by the complimentas he had been touched by the implied scorn of
the European's previous boast; "from us thou shouldst have had no
wrong. But well was it for me that I failed to slay theewith
the safeguard of the king of kings upon thy person. Certain it
werethat the cord or the sabre had justly avenged such guilt."

I am glad to hear that its influence shall be availing to me,
said the Knight; "for I have heard that the road is infested with
robber-tribeswho regard nothing in comparison of an opportunity
of plunder."

The truth has been told to thee, brave Christian,said the
Saracen; "but I swear to theeby the turban of the Prophetthat
shouldst thou miscarry in any haunt of such villainsI will
myself undertake thy revenge with five thousand horse. I will
slay every male of themand send their women into such distant
captivity that the name of their tribe shall never again be heard
within five hundred miles of Damascus. I will sow with salt the
foundations of their villageand there shall never live thing
dwell thereeven from that time forward."

I had rather the trouble which you design for yourself were in
revenge of some other more important person than of me, noble
Emir,replied the Knight; "but my vow is recorded in heavenfor
good or for eviland I must be indebted to you for pointing me
out the way to my resting-place for this evening."

That,said the Saracenmust be under the black covering of my
father's tent.


This night,answered the ChristianI must pass in prayer and
penitence with a holy man, Theodorick of Engaddi, who dwells
amongst these wilds, and spends his life in the service of God.

I will at least see you safe thither,said the Saracen.

That would be pleasant convoy for me,said the Christian; "yet
might endanger the future security of the good father; for the
cruel hand of your people has been red with the blood of the
servants of the Lordand therefore do we come hither in plate
and mailwith sword and lanceto open the road to the Holy
Sepulchreand protect the chosen saints and anchorites who yet
dwell in this land of promise and of miracle."

Nazarene,said the Moslemin this the Greeks and Syrians have
much belied us, seeing we do but after the word of Abubeker
Alwakel, the successor of the Prophet, and, after him, the first
commander of true believers. 'Go forth,' he said, 'Yezed Ben
Sophian,' when he sent that renowned general to take Syria from
the infidels; 'quit yourselves like men in battle, but slay
neither the aged, the infirm, the women, nor the children. Waste
not the land, neither destroy corn and fruit-trees; they are the
gifts of Allah. Keep faith when you have made any covenant, even
if it be to your own harm. If ye find holy men labouring with
their hands, and serving God in the desert, hurt them not,
neither destroy their dwellings. But when you find them with
shaven crowns, they are of the synagogue of Satan! Smite with
the sabre, slay, cease not till they become believers or
tributaries.' As the Caliph, companion of the Prophet, hath told
us, so have we done, and those whom our justice has smitten are
but the priests of Satan. But unto the good men who, without
stirring up nation against nation, worship sincerely in the faith
of Issa Ben Mariam, we are a shadow and a shield; and such being
he whom you seek, even though the light of the Prophet hath not
reached him, from me he will only have love, favour, and regard.

The anchorite whom I would now visit,said the warlike pilgrim
is, I have heard, no priest; but were he of that anointed and
sacred order, I would prove with my good lance, against paynim
and infidel--

Let us not defy each other, brother,interrupted the Saracen;
we shall find, either of us, enough of Franks or of Moslemah on
whom to exercise both sword and lance. This Theodorick is
protected both by Turk and Arab; and, though one of strange
conditions at intervals, yet, on the whole, he bears himself so
well as the follower of his own prophet, that he merits the
protection of him who was sent--

Now, by Our Lady, Saracen,exclaimed the Christianif thou
darest name in the same breath the camel-driver of Mecca with
--

An electrical shock of passion thrilled through the form of the
Emir; but it was only momentaryand the calmness of his reply
had both dignity and reason in itwhen he saidSlander not him
whom thou knowest not--the rather that we venerate the founder of
thy religion, while we condemn the doctrine which your priests
have spun from it. I will myself guide thee to the cavern of the
hermit, which, methinks, without my help, thou wouldst find it a
hard matter to reach. And, on the way, let us leave to mollahs
and to monks to dispute about the divinity of our faith, and
speak on themes which belong to youthful warriors--upon battles,
upon beautiful women, upon sharp swords, and upon bright armour.


CHAPTER III.

The warriors arose from their place of brief rest and simple
refreshmentand courteously aided each other while they
carefully replaced and adjusted the harness from which they had
relieved for the time their trusty steeds. Each seemed familiar
with an employment which at that time was a part of necessary
andindeedof indispensable duty. Each also seemed to possess
as far as the difference betwixt the animal and rational species
admittedthe confidence and affection of the horse which was the
constant companion of his travels and his warfare. With the
Saracen this familiar intimacy was a part of his early habits;
forin the tents of the Eastern military tribesthe horse of
the soldier ranks next toand almost equal in importance with
his wife and his family; and with the European warrior
circumstancesand indeed necessityrendered his war-horse
scarcely less than his brother in arms. The steedstherefore
suffered themselves quietly to be taken from their food and
libertyand neighed and snuffled fondly around their masters
while they were adjusting their accoutrements for further travel
and additional toil. And each warrioras he prosecuted his own
taskor assisted with courtesy his companionlooked with
observant curiosity at the equipments of his fellow-traveller
and noted particularly what struck him as peculiar in the fashion
in which he arranged his riding accoutrements.

Ere they remounted to resume their journeythe Christian Knight
again moistened his lips and dipped his hands in the living
fountainand said to his pagan associate of the journeyI
would I knew the name of this delicious fountain, that I might
hold it in my grateful remembrance; for never did water slake
more deliciously a more oppressive thirst than I have this day
experienced.

It is called in the Arabic language,answered the Saracenby
a name which signifies the Diamond of the Desert.

And well is it so named,replied the Christian. "My native
valley hath a thousand springsbut not to one of them shall I
attach hereafter such precious recollection as to this solitary
fountwhich bestows its liquid treasures where they are not only
delightfulbut nearly indispensable."

You say truth,said the Saracen; "for the curse is still on
yonder sea of deathand neither man nor beast drinks of its
wavesnor of the river which feeds without filling ituntil
this inhospitable desert be passed."

They mountedand pursued their journey across the sandy waste.
The ardour of noon was now pastand a light breeze somewhat
alleviated the terrors of the desertthough not without bearing
on its wings an impalpable dustwhich the Saracen little heeded
though his heavily-armed companion felt it as such an annoyance
that he hung his iron casque at his saddle-bowand substituted
the light riding-captermed in the language of the time a
MORTIERfrom its resemblance in shape to an ordinary mortar.
They rode together for some time in silencethe Saracen
performing the part of director and guide of the journeywhich
he did by observing minute marks and bearings of the distant
rocksto a ridge of which they were gradually approaching. For
a little time he seemed absorbed in the taskas a pilot when


navigating a vessel through a difficult channel; but they had not
proceeded half a league when he seemed secure of his routeand
disposedwith more frankness than was usual to his nationto
enter into conversation.

You have asked the name,he saidof a mute fountain, which
hath the semblance, but not the reality, of a living thing. Let
me be pardoned to ask the name of the companion with whom I have
this day encountered, both in danger and in repose, and which I
cannot fancy unknown even here among the deserts of Palestine?

It is not yet worth publishing,said the Christian. "Know
howeverthat among the soldiers of the Cross I am called
Kenneth--Kenneth of the Couching Leopard; at home I have other
titlesbut they would sound harsh in an Eastern ear. Brave
Saracenlet me ask which of the tribes of Arabia claims your
descentand by what name you are known?"

Sir Kenneth,said the MoslemI joy that your name is such as
my lips can easily utter. For me, I am no Arab, yet derive my
descent from a line neither less wild nor less warlike. Know,
Sir Knight of the Leopard, that I am Sheerkohf, the Lion of the
Mountain, and that Kurdistan, from which I derive my descent,
holds no family more noble than that of Seljook.

I have heard,answered the Christianthat your great Soldan
claims his blood from the same source?

Thanks to the Prophet that hath so far honoured our mountains as
to send from their bosom him whose word is victory,answered the
paynim. "I am but as a worm before the King of Egypt and Syria
and yet in my own land something my name may avail. Stranger
with how many men didst thou come on this warfare?"

By my faith,said Sir Kennethwith aid of friends and
kinsmen, I was hardly pinched to furnish forth ten well-appointed
lances, with maybe some fifty more men, archers and varlets
included. Some have deserted my unlucky pennon--some have fallen
in battle--several have died of disease--and one trusty armour-bearer, for whose life I am now doing my
pilgrimage, lies on the
bed of sickness.

Christian,said Sheerkohfhere I have five arrows in my
quiver, each feathered from the wing of an eagle. When I send
one of them to my tents, a thousand warriors mount on horseback
--when I send another, an equal force will arise--for the five, I
can command five thousand men; and if I send my bow, ten thousand
mounted riders will shake the desert. And with thy fifty
followers thou hast come to invade a land in which I am one of
the meanest!

Now, by the rood, Saracen,retorted the Western warriorthou
shouldst know, ere thou vauntest thyself, that one steel glove
can crush a whole handful of hornets.

Ay, but it must first enclose them within its grasp,said the
Saracenwith a smile which might have endangered their new
alliancehad he not changed the subject by addingAnd is
bravery so much esteemed amongst the Christian princes that thou,
thus void of means and of men, canst offer, as thou didst of
late, to be my protector and security in the camp of thy
brethren?

Know, Saracen,said the Christiansince such is thy style,


that the name of a knight, and the blood of a gentleman, entitle
him to place himself on the same rank with sovereigns even of the
first degree, in so far as regards all but regal authority and
dominion. Were Richard of England himself to wound the honour of
a knight as poor as I am, he could not, by the law of chivalry,
deny him the combat.

Methinks I should like to look upon so strange a scene,said
the Emirin which a leathern belt and a pair of spurs put the
poorest on a level with the most powerful.

You must add free blood and a fearless heart,said the
Christian; "thenperhapsyou will not have spoken untruly of
the dignity of knighthood."

And mix you as boldly amongst the females of your chiefs and
leaders?asked the Saracen.

God forbid,said the Knight of the Leopardthat the poorest
knight in Christendom should not be free, in all honourable
service, to devote his hand and sword, the fame of his actions,
and the fixed devotion of his heart, to the fairest princess who
ever wore coronet on her brow!

But a little while since,said the Saracenand you described
love as the highest treasure of the heart--thine hath undoubtedly
been high and nobly bestowed?

Stranger,answered the Christianblushing deeply as he spoke
we tell not rashly where it is we have bestowed our choicest
treasures. It is enough for thee to know that, as thou sayest,
my love is highly and nobly bestowed--most highly--most nobly;
but if thou wouldst hear of love and broken lances, venture
thyself, as thou sayest, to the camp of the Crusaders, and thou
wilt find exercise for thine ears, and, if thou wilt, for thy
hands too.

The Eastern warriorraising himself in his stirrupsand shaking
aloft his lancerepliedHardly, I fear, shall I find one with
a crossed shoulder who will exchange with me the cast of the
jerrid.

I will not promise for that,replied the Knight; "though there
be in the camp certain Spaniardswho have right good skill in
your Eastern game of hurling the javelin."

Dogs, and sons of dogs!ejaculated the Saracen; "what have
these Spaniards to do to come hither to combat the true
believerswhoin their own landare their lords and
taskmasters? with them I would mix in no warlike pastime."

Let not the knights of Leon or Asturias hear you speak thus of
them,said the Knight of the Leopard. " But added he, smiling
at the recollection of the morning's combat, ifinstead of a
reedyou were inclined to stand the cast of a battle-axethere
are enough of Western warriors who would gratify your longing."

By the beard of my father, sir,said the Saracenwith an
approach to laughterthe game is too rough for mere sport. I
will never shun them in battle, but my head(pressing his hand
to his brow) "will notfor a whilepermit me to seek them in
sport."

I would you saw the axe of King Richard,answered the Western


warriorto which that which hangs at my saddle-bow weighs but
as a feather.

We hear much of that island sovereign,said the Saracen. "Art
thou one of his subjects?"

One of his followers I am, for this expedition,answered the
Knightand honoured in the service; but not born his subject,
although a native of the island in which he reigns.

How mean you? said the Eastern soldier; "have you then two
kings in one poor island?"

As thou sayest,said the Scotfor such was Sir Kenneth by
birth. "It is even so; and yetalthough the inhabitants of the
two extremities of that island are engaged in frequent warthe
country canas thou seestfurnish forth such a body of men-at-arms as may go far to shake the unholy hold
which your master
hath laid on the cities of Zion."

By the beard of Saladin, Nazarene, but that it is a thoughtless
and boyish folly, I could laugh at the simplicity of your great
Sultan, who comes hither to make conquests of deserts and rocks,
and dispute the possession of them with those who have tenfold
numbers at command, while he leaves a part of his narrow islet,
in which he was born a sovereign, to the dominion of another
sceptre than his. Surely, Sir Kenneth, you and the other good
men of your country should have submitted yourselves to the
dominion of this King Richard ere you left your native land,
divided against itself, to set forth on this expedition?

Hasty and fierce was Kenneth's answer. "Noby the bright light
of Heaven! If the King of England had not set forth to the
Crusade till he was sovereign of Scotlandthe Crescent might
for meand all true-hearted Scotsglimmer for ever on the walls
of Zion."

Thus far he had proceededwhensuddenly recollecting himself
he mutteredMEA CULPA! MEA CULPA! what have I, a soldier of
the Cross, to do with recollection of war betwixt Christian
nations!

The rapid expression of feeling corrected by the dictates of duty
did not escape the Moslemwhoif he did not entirely understand
all which it conveyedsaw enough to convince him with the
assurance that Christiansas well as Moslemahhad private
feelings of personal piqueand national quarrelswhich were not
entirely reconcilable. But the Saracens were a racepolished
perhapsto the utmost extent which their religion permittedand
particularly capable of entertaining high ideas of courtesy and
politeness; and such sentiments prevented his taking any notice
of the inconsistency of Sir Kenneth's feelings in the opposite
characters of a Scot and a Crusader.

Meanwhileas they advancedthe scene began to change around
them. They were now turning to the eastwardand had reached the
range of steep and barren hills which binds in that quarter the
naked plainand varies the surface of the countrywithout
changing its sterile character. Sharprocky eminences began to
rise around themandin a short timedeep declivities and
ascentsboth formidable in height and difficult from the
narrowness of the pathoffered to the travellers obstacles of a
different kind from those with which they had recently contended.


Dark caverns and chasms amongst the rocks--those grottoes so
often alluded to in Scripture--yawned fearfully on either side as
they proceededand the Scottish knight was informed by the Emir
that these were often the refuge of beasts of preyor of men
still more ferociouswhodriven to desperation by the constant
warand the oppression exercised by the soldieryas well of the
Cross as of the Crescenthad become robbersand spared neither
rank nor religionneither sex nor agein their depredations.

The Scottish knight listened with indifference to the accounts of
ravages committed by wild beasts or wicked mensecure as he felt
himself in his own valour and personal strength; but he was
struck with mysterious dread when he recollected that he was now
in the awful wilderness of the forty days' fastand the scene of
the actual personal temptationwherewith the Evil Principle was
permitted to assail the Son of Man. He withdrew his attention
gradually from the light and worldly conversation of the infidel
warrior beside himandhowever acceptable his gay and gallant
bravery would have rendered him as a companion elsewhereSir
Kenneth felt as ifin those wildernesses the waste and dry
places in which the foul spirits were wont to wander when
expelled the mortals whose forms they possesseda bare-footed
friar would have been a better associate than the gay but
unbelieving paynim.

These feelings embarrassed him the rather that the Saracen's
spirits appeared to rise with the journeyand because the
farther he penetrated into the gloomy recesses of the mountains
the lighter became his conversationand when he found that
unansweredthe louder grew his song. Sir Kenneth knew enough of
the Eastern languages to be assured that he chanted sonnets of
lovecontaining all the glowing praises of beauty in which the
Oriental poets are so fond of luxuriatingand whichtherefore
were peculiarly unfitted for a serious or devotional strain of
thoughtthe feeling best becoming the Wilderness of the
Temptation. With inconsistency enoughthe Saracen also sung
lays in praise of winethe liquid ruby of the Persian poets; and
his gaiety at length became so unsuitable to the Christian
knight's contrary train of sentimentsasbut for the promise of
amity which they had exchangedwould most likely have made Sir
Kenneth take measures to change his note. As it wasthe
Crusader felt as if he had by his side some gaylicentious
fiendwho endeavoured to ensnare his souland endanger his
immortal salvationby inspiring loose thoughts of earthly
pleasureand thus polluting his devotionat a time when his
faith as a Christian and his vow as a pilgrim called on him for a
serious and penitential state of mind. He was thus greatly
perplexedand undecided how to act; and it was in a tone of
hasty displeasure thatat length breaking silencehe
interrupted the lay of the celebrated Rudpikiin which he
prefers the mole on his mistress's bosom to all the wealth of
Bokhara and Samarcand.

Saracen,said the Crusader sternlyblinded as thou art, and
plunged amidst the errors of a false law, thou shouldst yet
comprehend that there are some places more holy than others, and
that there are some scenes also in which the Evil One hath more
than ordinary power over sinful mortals. I will not tell thee
for what awful reason this place--these rocks--these caverns with
their gloomy arches, leading as it were to the central abyss--are
held an especial haunt of Satan and his angels. It is enough
that I have been long warned to beware of this place by wise and
holy men, to whom the qualities of the unholy region are well
known. Wherefore, Saracen, forbear thy foolish and ill-timed


levity, and turn thy thoughts to things more suited to the spot
--although, alas for thee! thy best prayers are but as blasphemy
and sin.

The Saracen listened with some surpriseand then repliedwith
good-humour and gaietyonly so far repressed as courtesy
requiredGood Sir Kenneth, methinks you deal unequally by your
companion, or else ceremony is but indifferently taught amongst
your Western tribes. I took no offence when I saw you gorge
hog's flesh and drink wine, and permitted you to enjoy a treat
which you called your Christian liberty, only pitying in my heart
your foul pastimes. Wherefore, then, shouldst thou take scandal,
because I cheer, to the best of my power, a gloomy road with a
cheerful verse? What saith the poet, 'Song is like the dews of

heaven on the bosom of the desert; it cools the path of the
traveller.'

Friend Saracen,said the ChristianI blame not the love of
minstrelsy and of the GAI SCIENCE; albeit, we yield unto it even
too much room in our thoughts when they should be bent on better
things. But prayers and holy psalms are better fitting than LAIS
of love, or of wine-cups, when men walk in this Valley of the
Shadow of Death, full of fiends and demons, whom the prayers of
holy men have driven forth from the haunts of humanity to wander
amidst scenes as accursed as themselves.

Speak not thus of the Genii, Christian,answered the Saracen
for know thou speakest to one whose line and nation drew their
origin from the immortal race which your sect fear and
blaspheme.

I well thought,answered the Crusaderthat your blinded race
had their descent from the foul fiend, without whose aid you
would never have been able to maintain this blessed land of
Palestine against so many valiant soldiers of God. I speak not
thus of thee in particular, Saracen, but generally of thy people
and religion. Strange is it to me, however, not that you should
have the descent from the Evil One, but that you should boast of
it.

From whom should the bravest boast of descending, saving from
him that is bravest?said the Saracen; "from whom should the
proudest trace their line so well as from the Dark Spiritwhich
would rather fall headlong by force than bend the knee by his
will? Eblis may be hatedstrangerbut he must be feared; and
such as Eblis are his descendants of Kurdistan."

Tales of magic and of necromancy were the learning of the period
and Sir Kenneth heard his companion's confession of diabolical
descent without any disbeliefand without much wonder; yet not
without a secret shudder at finding himself in this fearful
placein the company of one who avouched himself to belong to
such a lineage. Naturally insusceptiblehoweverof fearhe
crossed himselfand stoutly demanded of the Saracen an account
of the pedigree which he had boasted. The latter readily
complied.

Know, brave stranger,he saidthat when the cruel Zohauk, one
of the descendants of Giamschid, held the throne of Persia, he
formed a league with the Powers of Darkness, amidst the secret
vaults of Istakhar, vaults which the hands of the elementary
spirits had hewn out of the living rock long before Adam himself
had an existence. Here he fed, with daily oblations of human


blood, two devouring serpents, which had become, according to the
poets, a part of himself, and to sustain whom he levied a tax of
daily human sacrifices, till the exhausted patience of his
subjects caused some to raise up the scimitar of resistance, like
the valiant Blacksmith and the victorious Feridoun, by whom the
tyrant was at length dethroned, and imprisoned for ever in the
dismal caverns of the mountain Damavend. But ere that
deliverance had taken place, and whilst the power of the
bloodthirsty tyrant was at its height, the band of ravening
slaves whom he had sent forth to purvey victims for his daily
sacrifice brought to the vaults of the palace of Istakhar seven
sisters so beautiful that they seemed seven houris. These seven
maidens were the daughters of a sage, who had no treasures save
those beauties and his own wisdom. The last was not sufficient
to foresee this misfortune, the former seemed ineffectual to
prevent it. The eldest exceeded not her twentieth year, the
youngest had scarce attained her thirteenth; and so like were
they to each other that they could not have been distinguished
but for the difference of height, in which they gradually rose in
easy gradation above each other, like the ascent which leads to
the gates of Paradise. So lovely were these seven sisters when
they stood in the darksome vault, disrobed of all clothing saving
a cymar of white silk, that their charms moved the hearts of
those who were not mortal. Thunder muttered, the earth shook,
the wall of the vault was rent, and at the chasm entered one
dressed like a hunter, with bow and shafts, and followed by six
others, his brethren. They were tall men, and, though dark, yet
comely to behold; but their eyes had more the glare of those of
the dead than the light which lives under the eyelids of the
living. 'Zeineb,' said the leader of the band--and as he spoke
he took the eldest sister by the hand, and his voice was soft,
low, and melancholy--'I am Cothrob, king of the subterranean
world, and supreme chief of Ginnistan. I and my brethren are of
those who, created out of the pure elementary fire, disdained,
even at the command of Omnipotence, to do homage to a clod of
earth, because it was called Man. Thou mayest have heard of us
as cruel, unrelenting, and persecuting. It is false. We are by
nature kind and generous; only vengeful when insulted, only cruel
when affronted. We are true to those who trust us; and we have
heard the invocations of thy father, the sage Mithrasp, who
wisely worships not alone the Origin of Good, but that which is
called the Source of Evil. You and your sisters are on the eve
of death; but let each give to us one hair from your fair
tresses, in token of fealty, and we will carry you many miles
from hence to a place of safety, where you may bid defiance to
Zohauk and his ministers.' The fear of instant death, saith the
poet, is like the rod of the prophet Haroun, which devoured all
other rods when transformed into snakes before the King of
Pharaoh; and the daughters of the Persian sage were less apt than
others to be afraid of the addresses of a spirit. They gave the
tribute which Cothrob demanded, and in an instant the sisters
were transported to an enchanted castle on the mountains of
Tugrut, in Kurdistan, and were never again seen by mortal eye.
But in process of time seven youths, distinguished in the war and
in the chase, appeared in the environs of the castle of the
demons. They were darker, taller, fiercer, and more resolute
than any of the scattered inhabitants of the valleys of
Kurdistan; and they took to themselves wives, and became fathers
of the seven tribes of the Kurdmans, whose valour is known
throughout the universe.

The Christian knight heard with wonder the wild taleof which
Kurdistan still possesses the tracesandafter a moment's
thoughtrepliedVerily, Sir Knight, you have spoken well


--your genealogy may be dreaded and hated, but it cannot be
contemned. Neither do I any longer wonder at your obstinacy in a
false faith, since, doubtless, it is part of the fiendish
disposition which hath descended from your ancestors, those
infernal huntsmen, as you have described them, to love falsehood
rather than truth; and I no longer marvel that your spirits
become high and exalted, and vent themselves in verse and in
tunes, when you approach to the places encumbered by the haunting
of evil spirits, which must excite in you that joyous feeling
which others experience when approaching the land of their human
ancestry.


By my father's beard, I think thou hast the right,said the
Saracenrather amused than offended by the freedom with which
the Christian had uttered his reflections; "forthough the
Prophet (blessed be his name!) hath sown amongst us the seed of a
better faith than our ancestors learned in the ghostly halls of
Tugrutyet we are not willinglike other Moslemahto pass
hasty doom on the lofty and powerful elementary spirits from whom
we claim our origin. These Geniiaccording to our belief and
hopeare not altogether reprobatebut are still in the way of
probationand may hereafter be punished or rewarded. Leave we
this to the mollahs and the imaums. Enough that with us the
reverence for these spirits is not altogether effaced by what we
have learned from the Koranand that many of us still singin
memorial of our fathers' more ancient faithsuch verses as
these."


So sayinghe proceeded to chant versesvery ancient in the
language and structurewhich some have thought derive their
source from the worshippers of Arimanesthe Evil Principle.


AHRIMAN.


Dark Ahrimanwhom Irak still
Holds origin of woe and ill!
Whenbending at thy shrine
We view the world with troubled eye
Where see we 'neath the extended sky
An empire matching thine!


If the Benigner Power can yield
A fountain in the desert field
Where weary pilgrims drink;
Thine are the waves that lash the rock
Thine the tornado's deadly shock
Where countless navies sink!


Or if he bid the soil dispense
Balsams to cheer the sinking sense
How few can they deliver
From lingering painsor pang intense
Red Feverspotted Pestilence
The arrows of thy quiver!


Chief in Man's bosom sits thy sway
And frequentwhile in words we pray
Before another throne
Whate'er of specious form be there
The secret meaning of the prayer
IsAhrimanthine own.


Sayhast thou feelingsenseand form
Thunder thy voicethy garments storm



As Eastern Magi say;
With sentient soul of hate and wrath
And wings to sweep thy deadly path
And fangs to tear thy prey?


Or art thou mix'd in Nature's source
An ever-operating force
Converting good to ill;
An evil principle innate
Contending with our better fate
Andoh! victorious still?


Howe'er it bedispute is vain.
On all without thou hold'st thy reign
Nor less on all within;
Each mortal passion's fierce career
Lovehateambitionjoyand fear
Thou goadest into sin.


Whene'er a sunny gleam appears
To brighten up our vale of tears
Thou art not distant far;
'Mid such brief solace of our lives
Thou whett'st our very banquet-knives
To tools of death and war.


Thusfrom the moment of our birth
Long as we linger on the earth
Thou rulest the fate of men;
Thine are the pangs of life's last hour
And--who dare answer?--is thy power
Dark Spirit! ended THEN?


[The worthy and learned clergyman by whom this species of hymn
has been translated desiresthatfor fear of misconceptionwe
should warn the reader to recollect that it is composed by a
heathento whom the real causes of moral and physical evil are
unknownand who views their predominance in the system of the
universe as all must view that appalling fact who have not the
benefit of the Christian revelation. On our own partwe beg to
addthat we understand the style of the translator is more
paraphrastic than can be approved by those who are acquainted
with the singularly curious original. The translator seems to
have despaired of rendering into English verse the flights of
Oriental poetry; andpossiblylike many learned and ingenious
menfinding it impossible to discover the sense of the original
he may have tacitly substituted his own.]


These verses may perhaps have been the not unnatural effusion of
some half-enlightened philosopherwhoin the fabled deity
Arimanessaw but the prevalence of moral and physical evil; but
in the ears of Sir Kenneth of the Leopard they had a different
effectandsung as they were by one who had just boasted
himself a descendant of demonssounded very like an address of
worship to the arch-fiend himself. He weighed within himself
whetheron hearing such blasphemy in the very desert where Satan
had stood rebuked for demanding homagetaking an abrupt leave of
the Saracen was sufficient to testify his abhorrence; or whether
he was not rather constrained by his vow as a Crusader to defy
the infidel to combat on the spotand leave him food for the
beasts of the wildernesswhen his attention was suddenly caught
by an unexpected apparition.


The light was now verging lowyet served the knight still to



discern that they two were no longer alone in the desertbut
were closely watched by a figure of great height and very thin
which skipped over rocks and bushes with so much agility as
added to the wild and hirsute appearance of the individual
reminded him of the fauns and silvanswhose images he had seen
in the ancient temples of Rome. As the single-hearted
Scottishman had never for a moment doubted these gods of the
ancient Gentiles to be actually devilsso he now hesitated not
to believe that the blasphemous hymn of the Saracen had raised
up an infernal spirit.

But what recks it?said stout Sir Kenneth to himself; "down
with the fiend and his worshippers!"

He did nothoweverthink it necessary to give the same warning
of defiance to two enemies as he would unquestionably have
afforded to one. His hand was upon his maceand perhaps the
unwary Saracen would have been paid for his Persian poetry by
having his brains dashed out on the spotwithout any reason
assigned for it; but the Scottish Knight was spared from
committing what would have been a sore blot in his shield of
arms. The apparitionon which his eyes had been fixed for some
timehad at first appeared to dog their path by concealing
itself behind rocks and shrubsusing those advantages of the
ground with great addressand surmounting its irregularities
with surprising agility. At lengthjust as the Saracen paused
in his songthe figurewhich was that of a tall man clothed in
goat-skinssprung into the midst of the pathand seized a rein
of the Saracen's bridle in either handconfronting thus and
bearing back the noble horsewhichunable to endure the manner
in which this sudden assailant pressed the long-armed bitand
the severe curbwhichaccording to the Eastern fashionwas a
solid ring of ironreared uprightand finally fell backwards on
his masterwhohoweveravoided the peril of the fall by
lightly throwing himself to one side.

The assailant then shifted his grasp from the bridle of the horse
to the throat of the riderflung himself above the struggling
Saracenanddespite of his youth and activity kept him
undermostwreathing his long arms above those of his prisoner
who called out angrilyand yet half-laughing at the same time
--"Hamako--fool--unloose me--this passes thy privilege--unloose
meor I will use my dagger."

Thy dagger!--infidel dog!said the figure in the goat-skins
hold it in thy gripe if thou canst!and in an instant he
wrenched the Saracen's weapon out of its owner's handand
brandished it over his head.

Help, Nazarene!cried Sheerkohfnow seriously alarmed; "help
or the Hamako will slay me."

Slay thee!replied the dweller of the desert; "and well hast
thou merited deathfor singing thy blasphemous hymnsnot only
to the praise of thy false prophetwho is the foul fiend's
harbingerbut to that of the Author of Evil himself."

The Christian Knight had hitherto looked on as one stupefiedso
strangely had this rencontre contradictedin its progress and
eventall that he had previously conjectured. He felthowever
at lengththat it touched his honour to interfere in behalf of
his discomfited companionand therefore addressed himself to the
victorious figure in the goat-skins.


Whosoe'er thou art,he saidand whether of good or of evil,
know that I am sworn for the time to be true companion to the
Saracen whom thou holdest under thee; therefore, I pray thee to
let him arise, else I will do battle with thee in his behalf.

And a proper quarrel it were,answered the Hamakofor a
Crusader to do battle in--for the sake of an unbaptized dog, to
combat one of his own holy faith! Art thou come forth to the
wilderness to fight for the Crescent against the Cross? A goodly
soldier of God art thou to listen to those who sing the praises
of Satan!

Yetwhile he spoke thushe arose himselfandsuffering the
Saracen to rise alsoreturned him his cangiaror poniard.

Thou seest to what a point of peril thy presumption hath brought
thee,continued he of the goat-skinsnow addressing Sheerkohf
and by what weak means thy practised skill and boasted agility
can be foiled, when such is Heaven's pleasure. Wherefore,
beware, O Ilderim! for know that, were there not a twinkle in
the star of thy nativity which promises for thee something that
is good and gracious in Heaven's good time, we two had not parted
till I had torn asunder the throat which so lately trilled forth
blasphemies.

Hamako,said the Saracenwithout any appearance of resenting
the violent language and yet more violent assault to which he had
been subjectedI pray thee, good Hamako, to beware how thou
dost again urge thy privilege over far; for though, as a good
Moslem, I respect those whom Heaven hath deprived of ordinary
reason, in order to endow them with the spirit of prophecy, yet I
like not other men's hands on the bridle of my horse, neither
upon my own person. Speak, therefore, what thou wilt, secure of
any resentment from me; but gather so much sense as to apprehend
that if thou shalt again proffer me any violence, I will strike
thy shagged head from thy meagre shoulders.--and to thee, friend
Kenneth,he addedas he remounted his steedI must needs say,
that in a companion through the desert, I love friendly deeds
better than fair words. Of the last thou hast given me enough;
but it had been better to have aided me more speedily in my
struggle with this Hamako, who had well-nigh taken my life in his
frenzy,

By my faith,said the KnightI did somewhat fail--was
somewhat tardy in rendering thee instant help; but the
strangeness of the assailant, the suddenness of the scene--it was
as if thy wild and wicked lay had raised the devil among us--and
such was my confusion, that two or three minutes elapsed ere I
could take to my weapon.

Thou art but a cold and considerate friend,said the Saracen;
and, had the Hamako been one grain more frantic, thy companion
had been slain by thy side, to thy eternal dishonour, without thy
stirring a finger in his aid, although thou satest by, mounted,
and in arms.

By my word, Saracen,said the Christianif thou wilt have it
in plain terms, I thought that strange figure was the devil; and
being of thy lineage, I knew not what family secret you might be
communicating to each other, as you lay lovingly rolling together
on the sand.

Thy gibe is no answer, brother Kenneth,said the Saracen; "for
knowthat had my assailant been in very deed the Prince of


Darknessthou wert bound not the less to enter into combat with
him in thy comrade's behalf. Knowalsothat whatever there may
be of foul or of fiendish about the Hamako belongs more to your
lineage than to mine--this Hamako beingin truththe anchorite
whom thou art come hither to visit."

This!said Sir Kennethlooking at the athletic yet wasted
figure before him--"this! Thou mockestSaracen--this cannot be
the venerable Theodorick!"

Ask himself, if thou wilt not believe me,answered Sheerkohf;
and ere the words had left his mouththe hermit gave evidence in
his own behalf.

I am Theodorick of Engaddi,he said--"I am the walker of the
desert--I am friend of the Crossand flail of all infidels
hereticsand devil-worshippers. Avoid yeavoid ye! Down with
MahoundTermagauntand all their adherents!"--So sayinghe
pulled from under his shaggy garment a sort of flail or jointed
clubbound with ironwhich he brandished round his head with
singular dexterity

Thou seest thy saint,said the Saracenlaughingfor the first
timeat the unmitigated astonishment with which Sir Kenneth
looked on the wild gestures and heard the wayward muttering of
Theodorickwhoafter swinging his flail in every direction
apparently quite reckless whether it encountered the head of
either of his companionsfinally showed his own strengthand
the soundness of the weaponby striking into fragments a large
stone which lay near him.

This is a madman,said Sir Kenneth.

Not the worse saint,returned the Moslemspeaking according to
the well-known Eastern beliefthat madmen are under the
influence of immediate inspiration. "KnowChristianthat when
one eye is extinguishedthe other becomes more keen; when one
hand is cut offthe other becomes more powerful; sowhen our
reason in human things is disturbed or destroyedour view
heavenward becomes more acute and perfect."

Here the voice of the Saracen was drowned in that of the hermit
who began to hollo aloud in a wildchanting toneI am
Theodorick of Engaddi--I am the torch-brand of the desert--I am
the flail of the infidels! The lion and the leopard shall be my
comrades, and draw nigh to my cell for shelter; neither shall the
goat be afraid of their fangs. I am the torch and the lantern
--Kyrie Eleison!

He closed his song by a short raceand ended that again by three
forward boundswhich would have done him great credit in a
gymnastic academybut became his character of hermit so
indifferently that the Scottish Knight was altogether confounded
and bewildered.

The Saracen seemed to understand him better. "You see he said,
that he expects us to follow him to his cellwhichindeedis
our only place of refuge for the night. You are the leopard
from the portrait on your shield; I am the lionas my name
imports; and by the goatalluding to his garb of goat-skinshe
means himself. We must keep him in sighthoweverfor he is as
fleet as a dromedary."

In factthe task was a difficult onefor though the reverend


guide stopped from time to timeand waved his handas if to
encourage them to come onyetwell acquainted with all the
winding dells and passes of the desertand gifted with uncommon
activitywhichperhapsan unsettled state of mind kept in
constant exercisehe led the knights through chasms and along
footpaths where even the light-armed Saracenwith his well-trained barbwas in considerable riskand
where the iron-sheathed European and his over-burdened steed found themselves in
such imminent peril as the rider would gladly have exchanged for
the dangers of a general action. Glad he was whenat length
after this wild racehe beheld the holy man who had led it
standing in front of a cavernwith a large torch in his hand
composed of a piece of wood dipped in bitumenwhich cast a broad
and flickering lightand emitted a strong sulphureous smell.

Undeterred by the stifling vapourthe knight threw himself from
his horse and entered the cavernwhich afforded small appearance
of accommodation. The cell was divided into two partsin the
outward of which were an altar of stone and a crucifix made of
reeds: this served the anchorite for his chapel. On one side of
this outward cave the Christian knightthough not without
scruplearising from religious reverence to the objects around
fastened up his horseand arranged him for the nightin
imitation of the Saracenwho gave him to understand that such
was the custom of the place. The hermitmeanwhilewas busied
putting his inner apartment in order to receive his guestsand
there they soon joined him. At the bottom of the outer cavea
small apertureclosed with a door of rough plankled into the
sleeping apartment of the hermitwhich was more commodious. The
floor had been brought to a rough level by the labour of the
inhabitantand then strewed with white sandwhich he daily
sprinkled with water from a small fountain which bubbled out of
the rock in one corneraffording in that stifling climate
refreshment alike to the ear and the taste. Mattresseswrought
of twisted flagslay by the side of the cell; the sideslike
the floorhad been roughly brought to shapeand several herbs
and flowers were hung around them. Two waxen torcheswhich the
hermit lightedgave a cheerful air to the placewhich was
rendered agreeable by its fragrance and coolness.

There were implements of labour in one corner of the apartment
in another was a niche for a rude statue of the Virgin. A table
and two chairs showed that they must be the handiwork of the
anchoritebeing different in their form from Oriental
accommodations. The former was coverednot only with reeds and
pulsebut also with dried fleshwhich Theodorick assiduously
placed in such arrangement as should invite the appetite of his
guests. This appearance of courtesythough muteand expressed
by gestures onlyseemed to Sir Kenneth something entirely
irreconcilable with his former wild and violent demeanour. The
movements of the hermit were now become composedand apparently
it was only a sense of religious humiliation which prevented his
featuresemaciated as they were by his austere mode of life
from being majestic and noble. He trod his cell as one who
seemed born to rule over menbut who had abdicated his empire to
become the servant of Heaven. Stillit must be allowed that his
gigantic sizethe length of his unshaven locks and beardand
the fire of a deep-set and wild eye were rather attributes of a
soldier than of a recluse.

Even the Saracen seemed to regard the anchorite with some
venerationwhile he was thus employedand he whispered in a low
tone to Sir KennethThe Hamako is now in his better mind, but
he will not speak until we have eaten--such is his vow.


It was in silenceaccordinglythat Theodorick motioned to the
Scot to take his place on one of the low chairswhile Sheerkohf
placed himselfafter the custom of his nationupon a cushion of
mats. The hermit then held up both handsas if blessing the
refreshment which he had placed before his guestsand they
proceeded to eat in silence as profound as his own. To the
Saracen this gravity was natural; and the Christian imitated his
taciturnitywhile he employed his thoughts on the singularity of
his own situationand the contrast betwixt the wildfurious
gesticulationsloud criesand fierce actions of Theodorick
when they first met himand the demuresolemndecorous
assiduity with which he now performed the duties of hospitality.

When their meal was endedthe hermitwho had not himself eaten
a morselremoved the fragments from the tableand placing
before the Saracen a pitcher of sherbetassigned to the Scot a
flask of wine.

Drink,he saidmy children--they were the first words he had
spoken--"the gifts of God are to be enjoyedwhen the Giver is
remembered."

Having said thishe retired to the outward cellprobably for
performance of his devotionsand left his guests together in the
inner apartment; when Sir Kenneth endeavouredby various
questionsto draw from Sheerkohf what that Emir knew concerning
his host. He was interested by more than mere curiosity in these
inquiries. Difficult as it was to reconcile the outrageous
demeanour of the recluse at his first appearance with his present
humble and placid behaviourit seemed yet more impossible to
think it consistent with the high consideration in which
according to what Sir Kenneth had learnedthis hermit was held
by the most enlightened divines of the Christian world.
Theodorickthe hermit of Engaddihadin that characterbeen
the correspondent of popes and councils; to whom his letters
full of eloquent fervourhad described the miseries imposed by
the unbelievers upon the Latin Christians in the Holy Landin
colours scarce inferior to those employed at the Council of
Clermont by the Hermit Peterwhen he preached the first Crusade.
To findin a person so reverend and so much reveredthe frantic
gestures of a mad fakirinduced the Christian knight to pause
ere he could resolve to communicate to him certain important
matterswhich he had in charge from some of the leaders of the
Crusade.

It had been a main object of Sir Kenneth's pilgrimageattempted
by a route so unusualto make such communications; but what he
had that night seen induced him to pause and reflect ere he
proceeded to the execution of his commission. From the Emir he
could not extract much informationbut the general tenor was as
follows:--Thatas he had heardthe hermit had been once a brave
and valiant soldierwise in council and fortunate in battle
which last he could easily believe from the great strength and
agility which he had often seen him display; that he had appeared
at Jerusalem in the character not of a pilgrimbut in that of
one who had devoted himself to dwell for the remainder of his
life in the Holy Land. Shortly afterwardshe fixed his
residence amid the scenes of desolation where they now found him
respected by the Latins for his austere devotionand by the
Turks and Arabs on account of the symptoms of insanity which he
displayedand which they ascribed to inspiration. It was from
them he had the name of Hamakowhich expresses such a character
in the Turkish language. Sheerkohf himself seemed at a loss how
to rank their host. He had beenhe saida wise manand could


often for many hours together speak lessons of virtue or wisdom
without the slightest appearance of inaccuracy. At other times
he was wild and violentbut never before had he seen him so
mischievously disposed as he had that day appeared to be. His
rage was chiefly provoked by any affront to his religion; and
there was a story of some wandering Arabswho had insulted his
worship and defaced his altarand whom he had on that account
attacked and slain with the short flail which he carried with him
in lieu of all other weapons. This incident had made a great
noiseand it was as much the fear of the hermit's iron flail as
regard for his character as a Hamako which caused the roving
tribes to respect his dwelling and his chapel. His fame had
spread so far that Saladin had issued particular orders that he
should be spared and protected. He himselfand other Moslem
lords of rankhad visited the cell more than oncepartly from
curiositypartly that they expected from a man so learned as the
Christian Hamako some insight into the secrets of futurity. "He
had continued the Saracen, a rashidor observatoryof great
heightcontrived to view the heavenly bodiesand particularly
the planetary system--by whose movements and influencesas both
Christian and Moslem believedthe course of human events was
regulatedand might be predicted."

This was the substance of the Emir Sheerkohf's informationand
it left Sir Kenneth in doubt whether the character of insanity
arose from the occasional excessive fervour of the hermit's zeal
or whether it was not altogether fictitiousand assumed for the
sake of the immunities which it afforded. Yet it seemed that the
infidels had carried their complaisance towards him to an
uncommon lengthconsidering the fanaticism of the followers of
Mohammedin the midst of whom he was livingthough the
professed enemy of their faith. He thought also there was more
intimacy of acquaintance betwixt the hermit and the Saracen than
the words of the latter had induced him to anticipate; and it had
not escaped him that the former had called the latter by a name
different from that which he himself had assumed. All these
considerations authorized cautionif not suspicion. He
determined to observe his host closelyand not to be over-hasty
in communicating with him on the important charge entrusted to
him.

Beware, Saracen,he said; "methinks our host's imagination
wanders as well on the subject of names as upon other matters.
Thy name is Sheerkohfand he called thee but now by another."

My name, when in the tent of my father,replied the Kurdman
was Ilderim, and by this I am still distinguished by many. In
the field, and to soldiers, I am known as the Lion of the
Mountain, being the name my good sword hath won for me. But
hush, the Hamako comes--it is to warn us to rest. I know his
custom; none must watch him at his vigils.

The anchorite accordingly enteredand folding his arms on his
bosom as he stood before themsaid with a solemn voiceBlessed
be His name, who hath appointed the quiet night to follow the
busy day, and the calm sleep to refresh the wearied limbs and to
compose the troubled spirit!

Both warriors replied "Amen!" andarising from the table
prepared to betake themselves to the coucheswhich their host
indicated by waving his handasmaking a reverence to eachhe
again withdrew from the apartment.

The Knight of the Leopard then disarmed himself of his heavy


panoplyhis Saracen companion kindly assisting him to undo his
buckler and claspsuntil he remained in the close dress of
chamois leatherwhich knights and men-at-arms used to wear under
their harness. The Saracenif he had admired the strength of
his adversary when sheathed in steelwas now no less struck with
the accuracy of proportion displayed in his nervous and well-compacted figure.
handasin exchange
of courtesyhe assisted the Saracen to disrobe himself of his
upper garmentsthat he might sleep with more conveniencewas
on his sideat a loss to conceive how such slender proportions
and slimness of figure could be reconciled with the vigour he had
displayed in personal contest.

Each warrior prayed ere he addressed himself to his place of
rest. The Moslem turned towards his KEBLAHthe point to which
the prayer of each follower of the Prophet was to be addressed
and murmured his heathen orisons; while the Christian
withdrawing from the contamination of the infidel's
neighbourhoodplaced his huge cross-handled sword uprightand
kneeling before it as the sign of salvationtold his rosary with
a devotion which was enhanced by the recollection of the scenes
through which he had passedand the dangers from which he had
been rescuedin the course of the day. Both warriorsworn by
toil and travelwere soon fast asleepeach on his separate
pallet.

CHAPTER IV.

Kenneth the Scot was uncertain how long his senses had been lost
in profound reposewhen he was roused to recollection by a sense
of oppression on his chestwhich at first suggested a flirting
dream of struggling with a powerful opponentand at length
recalled him fully to his senses. He was about to demand who was
therewhenopening his eyeshe beheld the figure of the
anchoritewild and savage-looking as we have described him
standing by his bedsideand pressing his right hand upon his
breastwhile he held a small silver lamp in the other.

Be silent,said the hermitas the prostrate knight looked up
in surprise; "I have that to say to you which yonder infidel must
not hear."

These words he spoke in the French languageand not in the
lingua francaor compound of Eastern and European dialects
which had hitherto been used amongst them.

Arise,he continuedput on thy mantle; speak not, but tread
lightly, and follow me.

Sir Kenneth aroseand took his sword.

It needs not,answered the anchoritein a whisper; "we are
going where spiritual arms avail muchand fleshly weapons are
but as the reed and the decayed gourd."

The knight deposited his sword by the bedside as beforeand
armed only with his daggerfrom which in this perilous country
he never partedprepared to attend his mysterious host.

The hermit then moved slowly forwardsand was followed by the
knightstill under some uncertainty whether the dark form which
glided on before to show him the path was notin factthe

The knighton the other


creation of a disturbed dream. They passedlike shadowsinto
the outer apartmentwithout disturbing the paynim Emirwho lay
still buried in repose. Before the cross and altarin the
outward rooma lamp was still burninga missal was displayed
and on the floor lay a disciplineor penitential scourge of
small cord and wirethe lashes of which were recently stained
with blood--a tokenno doubtof the severe penance of the
recluse. Here Theodorick kneeled downand pointed to the knight
to take his place beside him upon the sharp flintswhich seemed
placed for the purpose of rendering the posture of reverential
devotion as uneasy as possible. He read many prayers of the
Catholic Churchand chantedin a low but earnest voicethree
of the penitential psalms. These last he intermixed with sighs
and tearsand convulsive throbswhich bore witness how deeply
he felt the divine poetry which he recited. The Scottish knight
assisted with profound sincerity at these acts of devotionhis
opinion of his host beginningin the meantimeto be so much
changedthat he doubted whetherfrom the severity of his
penance and the ardour of his prayershe ought not to regard him
as a saint; and when they arose from the groundhe stood with
reverence before himas a pupil before an honoured master. The
hermit wason his sidesilent and abstracted for the space of a
few minutes.

Look into yonder recess, my son,he saidpointing to the
farther corner of the cell; "there thou wilt find a veil--bring
it hither."

The knight obeyedand in a small aperture cut out of the wall
and secured with a door of wickerhe found the veil inquired
for. When he brought it to the lighthe discovered that it was
tornand soiled in some places with some dark substance. The
anchorite looked at it with a deep but smothered emotionand ere
he could speak to the Scottish knightwas compelled to vent his
feelings in a convulsive groan.

Thou art now about to look upon the richest treasure that the
earth possesses,he at length said; "woe is methat my eyes are
unworthy to be lifted towards it! Alas! I am but the vile and
despised signwhich points out to the wearied traveller a
harbour of rest and securitybut must itself remain for ever
without doors. In vain have I fled to the very depths of the
rocksand the very bosom of the thirsty desert. Mine enemy hath
found me--even he whom I have denied has pursued me to my
fortresses."

He paused again for a momentand turning to the Scottish knight
saidin a firmer tone of voiceYou bring me a greeting from
Richard of England?

I come from the Council of Christian Princes,said the knight;
but the King of England being indisposed, I am not honoured with
his Majesty's commands.

Your token?demanded the recluse.

Sir Kenneth hesitated. Former suspicionsand the marks of
insanity which the hermit had formerly exhibitedrushed suddenly
on his thoughts; but how suspect a man whose manners were so
saintly? "My password he said at length, is this--Kings
begged of a beggar."

It is right,said the hermitwhile he paused. "I know you
well; but the sentinel upon his post--and mine is an important


one--challenges friend as well as foe

He then moved forward with the lamp, leading the way into the
room which they had left. The Saracen lay on his couch, still
fast asleep. The hermit paused by his side, and looked down on
him.

He sleeps he said, in darknessand must not be awakened."

The attitude of the Emir did indeed convey the idea of profound
repose. One armflung across his bodyas he lay with his face
half turned to the wallconcealedwith its loose and long
sleevethe greater part of his face; but the high forehead was
yet visible. Its nerveswhich during his waking hours were so
uncommonly activewere now motionlessas if the face had been
composed of dark marbleand his long silken eyelashes closed
over his piercing and hawklike eyes. The open and relaxed hand
and the deepregularand soft breathingall gave tokens of the
most profound repose. The slumberer formed a singular group
along with the tall forms of the hermit in his shaggy dress of
goat-skinsbearing the lampand the knight in his close
leathern coat--the former with an austere expression of ascetic
gloomthe latter with anxious curiosity deeply impressed on his
manly features.

He sleeps soundly,said the hermitin the same low tone as
before; and repeating the wordsthough he had changed the
meaning from that which is literal to a metaphorical sense--"he
sleeps in darknessbut there shall be for him a dayspring.--O
Ilderimthy waking thoughts are yet as vain and wild as those
which are wheeling their giddy dance through thy sleeping brain;
but the trumpet shall be heardand the dream shall be
dissolved."

So sayingand making the knight a sign to follow himthe hermit
went towards the altarand passing behind itpressed a spring
whichopening without noiseshowed a small iron door wrought in
the side of the cavernso as to be almost imperceptibleunless
upon the most severe scrutiny. The hermitere he ventured fully
to open the doordropped some oil on the hingeswhich the lamp
supplied. A small staircasehewn in the rockwas discovered
when the iron door was at length completely opened.

Take the veil which I hold,said the hermitin a melancholy
toneand blind mine eyes; For I may not look on the treasure
which thou art presently to behold, without sin and presumption.

Without replythe knight hastily muffled the recluse's head in
the veiland the latter began to ascend the staircase as one too
much accustomed to the way to require the use of lightwhile at
the same time he held the lamp to the Scotwho followed him for
many steps up the narrow ascent. At length they rested in a
small vault of irregular formin one nook of which the staircase
terminatedwhile in another corner a corresponding stair was
seen to continue the ascent. In a third angle was a Gothic door
very rudely ornamented with the usual attributes of clustered
columns and carvingand defended by a wicketstrongly guarded
with ironand studded with large nails. To this last point the
hermit directed his stepswhich seemed to falter as he
approached it.

Put off thy shoes,he said to his attendant; "the ground on
which thou standest is holy. Banish from thy innermost heart
each profane and carnal thoughtfor to harbour such while in


this place were a deadly impiety."

The knight laid aside his shoes as he was commandedand the
hermit stood in the meanwhile as if communing with his soul in
secret prayerand when he again movedcommanded the knight to
knock at the wicket three times. He did so. The door opened
spontaneously--at least Sir Kenneth beheld no one--and his senses
were at once assailed by a stream of the purest lightand by a
strong and almost oppressive sense of the richest perfumes. He
stepped two or three paces backand it was the space of a minute
ere he recovered the dazzling and overpowering effects of the
sudden change from darkness to light.

When he entered the apartment in which this brilliant lustre was
displayedhe perceived that the light proceeded from a
combination of silver lampsfed with purest oiland sending
forth the richest odourshanging by silver chains from the roof
of a small Gothic chapelhewnlike most part of the hermit's
singular mansionout of the sound and solid rock. But whereas
in every other place which Sir Kenneth had seenthe labour
employed upon the rock had been of the simplest and coarsest
descriptionit had in this chapel employed the invention and the
chisels of the most able architects. The groined roofs rose from
six columns on each sidecarved with the rarest skill; and the
manner in which the crossings of the concave arches were bound
togetheras it werewith appropriate ornamentswere all in the
finest tone of the architecture of the age. Corresponding to the
line of pillarsthere were on each side six richly-wrought
nicheseach of which contained the image of one of the twelve
apostles.

At the upper and eastern end of the chapel stood the altar
behind which a very rich curtain of Persian silkembroidered
deeply with goldcovered a recesscontainingunquestionably
some image or relic of no ordinary sanctityin honour of which
this singular place of worship had been erectedUnder the
persuasion that this must be the casethe knight advanced to the
shrineand kneeling down before itrepeated his devotions with
fervencyduring which his attention was disturbed by the curtain
being suddenly raisedor rather pulled asidehow or by whom he
saw not; but in the niche which was thus disclosed he beheld a
cabinet of silver and ebonywith a double folding-doorthe
whole formed into the miniature resemblance of a Gothic church.

As he gazed with anxious curiosity on the shrinethe two
folding-doors also flew opendiscovering a large piece of wood
on which were blazoned the wordsVERA CRUX; at the same time a
choir of female voices sung GLORIA PATRI. The instant the strain
had ceasedthe shrine was closedand the curtain again drawn
and the knight who knelt at the altar might now continue his
devotions undisturbedin honour of the holy relic which had been
just disclosed to his view. He did this under the profound
impression of one who had witnessedwith his own eyesan awful
evidence of the truth of his religion; and it was some time ere
concluding his orisonshe aroseand ventured to look around him
for the hermitwho had guided him to this sacred and mysterious
spot. He beheld himhis head still muffled in the veil which he
had himself wrapped around itcrouchinglike a rated hound
upon the threshold of the chapel; butapparentlywithout
venturing to cross it--the holiest reverencethe most
penitential remorsewas expressed by his posturewhich seemed
that of a man borne down and crushed to the earth by the burden
of his inward feelings. It seemed to the Scot that only the
sense of the deepest penitenceremorseand humiliation could


have thus prostrated a frame so strong and a spirit so fiery.

He approached him as if to speak; but the recluse anticipated his
purposemurmuring in stifled tonesfrom beneath the fold in
which his head was muffledand which sounded like a voice
proceeding from the cerements of a corpse--"Abideabide--happy
thou that mayest--the vision is not yet ended." So sayinghe
reared himself from the grounddrew back from the threshold on
which he had hitherto lain prostrateand closed the door of the
chapelwhichsecured by a spring bolt withinthe snap of which
resounded through the placeappeared so much like a part of the
living rock from which the cavern was hewnthat Kenneth could
hardly discern where the aperture had been. He was now alone in
the lighted chapel which contained the relic to which he had
lately rendered his homagewithout other arms than his dagger
or other companion than his pious thoughts and dauntless courage.

Uncertain what was next to happenbut resolved to abide the
course of eventsSir Kenneth paced the solitary chapel till
about the time of the earliest cock-crowing. At this dead
seasonwhen night and morning met togetherhe heardbut from
what quarter he could not discoverthe sound of such a small
silver bell as is rung at the elevation of the host in the
ceremonyor sacrificeas it has been calledof the mass. The
hour and the place rendered the sound fearfully solemnandbold
as he wasthe knight withdrew himself into the farther nook of
the chapelat the end opposite to the altarin order to
observewithout interruptionthe consequences of this
unexpected signal.

He did not wait long ere the silken curtain was again withdrawn
and the relic again presented to his view. As he sunk
reverentially on his kneehe heard the sound of the laudsor
earliest office of the Catholic Churchsung by female voices
which united together in the performance as they had done in the
former service. The knight was soon aware that the voices were
no longer stationary in the distancebut approached the chapel
and became louderwhen a doorimperceptible when closedlike
that by which he had himself enteredopened on the other side of
the vaultand gave the tones of the choir more room to swell
along the ribbed arches of the roof.

The knight fixed his eyes on the opening with breathless anxiety
andcontinuing to kneel in the attitude of devotion which the
place and scene requiredexpected the consequence of these
preparations. A procession appeared about to issue from the
door. Firstfour beautiful boyswhose armsnecksand legs
were bareshowing the bronze complexion of the Eastand
contrasting with the snow-white tunics which they woreentered
the chapel by two and two. The first pair bore censerswhich
they swung from side to sideadding double fragrance to the
odours with which the chapel already was impregnated. The second
pair scattered flowers.

After these followedin due and majestic orderthe females who
composed the choir--sixwho from their black scapulariesand
black veils over their white garmentsappeared to be professed
nuns of the order of Mount Carmel; and as many whose veilsbeing
whiteargued them to be novicesor occasional inhabitants in
the cloisterwho were not as yet bound to it by vows. The
former held in their hands large rosarieswhile the younger and
lighter figures who followed carried each a chaplet of red and
white roses. They moved in procession around the chapelwithout
appearing to take the slightest notice of Kennethalthough


passing so near him that their robes almost touched himwhile
they continued to sing. The knight doubted not that he was in
one of those cloisters where the noble Christian maidens had
formerly openly devoted themselves to the services of the church.
Most of them had been suppressed since the Mohammedans had
reconquered Palestinebut manypurchasing connivance by
presentsor receiving it from the clemency or contempt of the
victorsstill continued to observe in private the ritual to
which their vows had consecrated them. Yetthough Kenneth knew
this to be the casethe solemnity of the place and hourthe
surprise at the sudden appearance of these votaressesand the
visionary manner in which they moved past himhad such influence
on his imagination that he could scarce conceive that the fair
procession which he beheld was formed of creatures of this world
so much did they resemble a choir of supernatural beings
rendering homage to the universal object of adoration.

Such was the knight's first ideaas the procession passed him
scarce movingsave just sufficiently to continue their progress;
so thatseen by the shadowy and religious light which the lamps
shed through the clouds of incense which darkened the apartment
they appeared rather to glide than to walk.

But as a second timein surrounding the chapelthey passed the
spot on which he kneeledone of the white-stoled maidensas she
glided by himdetached from the chaplet which she carried a
rosebudwhich dropped from her fingersperhaps unconsciously
on the foot of Sir Kenneth. The knight started as if a dart had
suddenly struck his person; forwhen the mind is wound up to a
high pitch of feeling and expectationthe slightest incidentif
unexpectedgives fire to the train which imagination has already
laid. But he suppressed his emotionrecollecting how easily an
incident so indifferent might have happenedand that it was only
the uniform monotony of the movement of the choristers which made
the incident in the slightest degree remarkable.

Stillwhile the processionfor the third timesurrounded the
chapelthe thoughts and the eyes of Kenneth followed exclusively
the one among the novices who had dropped the rosebud. Her step
her faceher form were so completely assimilated to the rest of
the choristers that it was impossible to perceive the least marks
of individuality; and yet Kenneth's heart throbbed like a bird
that would burst from its cageas if to assure himby its
sympathetic suggestionsthat the female who held the right file
on the second rank of the novices was dearer to himnot only
than all the rest that were presentbut than the whole sex
besides. The romantic passion of loveas it was cherishedand
indeed enjoinedby the rules of chivalryassociated well with
the no less romantic feelings of devotion; and they might be said
much more to enhance than to counteract each other. It was
thereforewith a glow of expectation that had something even of
a religious character that Sir Kennethhis sensations thrilling
from his heart to the ends of his fingersexpected some second
sign of the presence of one whohe strongly fanciedhad already
bestowed on him the first. Short as the space was during which
the procession again completed a third perambulation of the
chapelit seemed an eternity to Kenneth. At length the form
which he had watched with such devoted attention drew nigh.
There was no difference betwixt that shrouded figure and the
otherswith whom it moved in concert and in unisonuntiljust
as she passed for the third time the kneeling Crusadera part of
a little and well-proportioned handso beautifully formed as to
give the highest idea of the perfect proportions of the form to
which it belongedstole through the folds of the gauzelike a


moonbeam through the fleecy cloud of a summer nightand again a
rosebud lay at the feet of the Knight of the Leopard.

This second intimation could not be accidental---it could not be
fortuitousthe resemblance of that half-seen but beautiful
female hand with one which his lips had once touchedandwhile
they touched ithad internally sworn allegiance to the lovely
owner. Had further proof been wantingthere was the glimmer of
that matchless ruby ring on that snow-white fingerwhose
invaluable worth Kenneth would yet have prized less than the
slightest sign which that finger could have made; andveiled
tooas she washe might seeby chance or by favoura stray
curl of the dark tresseseach hair of which was dearer to him a
hundred times than a chain of massive gold. It was the lady of
his love! But that she should he here--in the savage and
sequestered desert--among vestalswho rendered themselves
habitants of wilds and of cavernsthat they might perform in
secret those Christian rites which they dared not assist in
openly; that this should be soin truth and in realityseemed
too incredible--it must be a dream--a delusive trance of the
imagination. While these thoughts passed through the mind of
Kenneththe same passageby which the procession had entered
the chapelreceived them on their return. The young sacristans
the sable nunsvanished successively through the open door. At
length she from whom he had received this double intimation
passed also; yetin passingturned her headslightly indeed
but perceptiblytowards the place where he remained fixed as an
image. He marked the last wave of her veil--it was gone--and a
darkness sunk upon his soulscarce less palpable than that which
almost immediately enveloped his external sense; for the last
chorister had no sooner crossed the threshold of the door than it
shut with a loud soundand at the same instant the voices of the
choir were silentthe lights of the chapel were at once
extinguishedand Sir Kenneth remained solitary and in total
darkness. But to Kennethsolitudeand darknessand the
uncertainty of his mysterious situation were as nothing--he
thought not of them--cared not for them--cared for nought in the
world save the flitting vision which had just glided past him
and the tokens of her favour which she had bestowed. To grope on
the floor for the buds which she had dropped--to press them to
his lipsto his bosomnow alternatelynow together--to rivet
his lips to the cold stones on whichas near as he could judge
she had so lately stepped--to play all the extravagances which
strong affection suggests and vindicates to those who yield
themselves up to itwere but the tokens of passionate love
common to all ages. But it was peculiar to the times of chivalry
thatin his wildest rapturethe knight imagined of no attempt
to follow or to trace the object of such romantic attachment;
that he thought of her as of a deitywhohaving deigned to show
herself for an instant to her devoted worshipperhad again
returned to the darkness of her sanctuary--or as an influential
planetwhichhaving darted in some auspicious minute one
favourable raywrapped itself again in its veil of mist. The
motions of the lady of his love were to him those of a superior
beingwho was to move without watch or controlrejoice him by
her appearanceor depress him by her absenceanimate him by her
kindnessor drive him to despair by her cruelty--all at her own
free willand without other importunity or remonstrance than
that expressed by the most devoted services of the heart and
sword of the championwhose sole object in life was to fulfil
her commandsandby the splendour of his own achievementsto
exalt her fame.

Such were the rules of chivalryand of the love which was its


ruling principle. But Sir Kenneth's attachment was rendered
romantic by other and still more peculiar circumstances. He had
never even heard the sound of his lady's voicethough he had
often beheld her beauty with rapture. She moved in a circle
which his rank of knighthood permitted him indeed to approach
but not to mingle with; and highly as he stood distinguished for
warlike skill and enterprisestill the poor Scottish soldier was
compelled to worship his divinity at a distance almost as great
as divides the Persian from the sun which he adores. But when
was the pride of woman too lofty to overlook the passionate
devotion of a loverhowever inferior in degree? Her eye had
been on him in the tournamenther ear had heard his praises in
the report of the battles which were daily fought; and while
countdukeand lord contended for her graceit flowed
unwillingly perhaps at firstor even unconsciouslytowards the
poor Knight of the Leopardwhoto support his rankhad little
besides his sword. When she lookedand when she listenedthe
lady saw and heard enough to encourage her in a partiality which
had at first crept on her unawares. If a knight's personal
beauty was praisedeven the most prudish dames of the military
court of England would make an exception in favour of the
Scottish Kenneth; and it oftentimes happened that
notwithstanding the very considerable largesses which princes and
peers bestowed on the minstrelsan impartial spirit of
independence would seize the poetand the harp was swept to the
heroism of one who had neither palfreys nor garments to bestow in
guerdon of his applause.

The moments when she listened to the praises of her lover became
gradually more and more dear to the high-born Edithrelieving
the flattery with which her ear was wearyand presenting to her
a subject of secret contemplationmore worthyas he seemed by
general reportthan those who surpassed him in rank and in the
gifts of fortune. As her attention became constantlythough
cautiouslyfixed on Sir Kennethshe grew more and more
convinced of his personal devotion to herself and more and more
certain in her mind that in Kenneth of Scotland she beheld the
fated knight doomed to share with her through weal and woe--and
the prospect looked gloomy and dangerous--the passionate
attachment to which the poets of the age ascribed such universal
dominionand which its manners and morals placed nearly on the
same rank with devotion itself.

Let us not disguise the truth from our readers. When Edith
became aware of the state of her own sentimentschivalrous as
were her sentimentsbecoming a maiden not distant from the
throne of England--gratified as her pride must have been with the
mute though unceasing homage rendered to her by the knight whom
she had distinguishedthere were moments when the feelings of
the womanloving and belovedmurmured against the restraints of
state and form by which she was surroundedand when she almost
blamed the timidity of her loverwho seemed resolved not to
infringe them. The etiquetteto use a modern phraseof birth
and rankhad drawn around her a magical circlebeyond which Sir
Kenneth might indeed bow and gazebut within which he could no
more pass than an evoked spirit can transgress the boundaries
prescribed by the rod of a powerful enchanter. The thought
involuntarily pressed on her that she herself must venturewere
it but the point of her fairy footbeyond the prescribed
boundaryif she ever hoped to give a lover so reserved and
bashful an opportunity of so slight a favour as but to salute her
shoe-tie. There was an example--the noted precedent of the
King's daughter of Hungary,who thus generously encouraged the
squire of low degree;and Ediththough of kingly bloodwas no


king's daughterany more than her lover was of low degree
--fortune had put no such extreme barrier in obstacle to their
affections. Somethinghoweverwithin the maiden's bosom--that
modest pride which throws fetters even on love itself forbade
hernotwithstanding the superiority of her conditionto make
those advanceswhichin every casedelicacy assigns to the
other sex; above allSir Kenneth was a knight so gentle and
honourableso highly accomplishedas her imagination at least
suggestedtogether with the strictest feelings of what was due
to himself and to herthat however constrained her attitude
might be while receiving his adorationslike the image of some
deitywho is neither supposed to feel nor to reply to the homage
of its votariesstill the idol feared that to step prematurely
from her pedestal would be to degrade herself in the eyes of her
devoted worshipper.


Yet the devout adorer of an actual idol can even discover signs
of approbation in the rigid and immovable features of a marble
image; and it is no wonder that somethingwhich could be as
favourably interpretedglanced from the bright eye of the lovely
Edithwhose beautyindeedconsisted rather more in that very
power of expressionthan an absolute regularity of contour or
brilliancy of complexion. Some slight marks of distinction had
escaped from hernotwithstanding her own jealous vigilance
else how could Sir Kenneth have so readily and so undoubtingly
recognized the lovely handof which scarce two fingers were
visible from under the veilor how could he have rested so
thoroughly assured that two flowerssuccessively dropped on the
spotwere intended as a recognition on the part of his lady-love? By what train of observation--by what
secret signslooks
or gestures--by what instinctive freemasonry of lovethis degree
of intelligence came to subsist between Edith and her loverwe
cannot attempt to trace; for we are oldand such slight vestiges
of affectionquickly discovered by younger eyesdefy the power
of ours. Enough that such affection did subsist between parties
who had never even spoken to one another--thoughon the side of
Edithit was checked by a deep sense of the difficulties and
dangers which must necessarily attend the further progress of
their attachment; and upon that of the knight by a thousand
doubts and fears lest he had overestimated the slight tokens of
the lady's noticevariedas they necessarily wereby long
intervals of apparent coldnessduring which either the fear of
exciting the observation of othersand thus drawing danger upon
her loveror that of sinking in his esteem by seeming too
willing to be wonmade her behave with indifferenceand as if
unobservant of his presence.


This narrativetedious perhapsbut which the story renders
necessarymay serve to explain the state of intelligenceif it
deserves so strong a namebetwixt the loverswhen Edith's
unexpected appearance in the chapel produced so powerful an
effect on the feelings of her knight.


CHAPTER V.


Their necromantic forms in vain
Haunt us on the tented plain;
We bid these spectre shapes avaunt
Ashtaroth and Termagaunt. WARTON.


The most profound silencethe deepest darknesscontinued to
brood for more than an hour over the chapel in which we left the



Knight of the Leopard still kneelingalternately expressing
thanks to Heaven and gratitude to his lady for the boon which had
been vouchsafed to him. His own safetyhis own destinyfor
which he was at all times little anxioushad not now the weight
of a grain of dust in his reflections. He was in the
neighbourhood of Lady Edith; he had received tokens of her grace;
he was in a place hallowed by relics of the most awful sanctity.
A Christian soldiera devoted lovercould fear nothingthink
of nothingbut his duty to Heaven and his devoir to his lady.

At the lapse of the space of time which we have noticeda shrill
whistlelike that with which a falconer calls his hawkwas
heard to ring sharply through the vaulted chapel. it was a sound
ill suited to the placeand reminded Sir Kenneth how necessary
it was he should be upon his guard. He started from his knee
and laid his hand upon his poniard. A creaking soundas of a
screw or pulleyssucceededand a light streaming upwardsas
from an opening in the floorshowed that a trap-door had been
raised or depressed. In less than a minute a longskinny arm
partly nakedpartly clothed in a sleeve of red samitearose out
of the apertureholding a lamp as high as it could stretch
upwardsand the figure to which the arm belonged ascended step
by step to the level of the chapel floor. The form and face of
the being who thus presented himself were those of a frightful
dwarfwith a large heada cap fantastically adorned with three
peacock feathersa dress of red samitethe richness of which
rendered his ugliness more conspicuousdistinguished by gold
bracelets and armletsand a white silk sashin which he wore a
gold-hilted dagger. This singular figure had in his left hand a
kind of broom. So soon as he had stepped from the aperture
through which he arosehe stood stillandas if to show
himself more distinctlymoved the lamp which he held slowly over
his face and personsuccessively illuminating his wild and
fantastic featuresand his misshapen but nervous limbs. Though
disproportioned in personthe dwarf was not so distorted as to
argue any want of strength or activity. While Sir Kenneth gazed
on this disagreeable objectthe popular creed occurred to his
remembrance concerning the gnomes or earthly spirits which make
their abode in the caverns of the earth; and so much did this
figure correspond with ideas he had formed of their appearance
that he looked on it with disgustmingled not indeed with fear
but that sort of awe which the presence of a supernatural
creature may infuse into the most steady bosom.

The dwarf again whistledand summoned from beneath a companion.
This second figure ascended in the same manner as the first; but
it was a female arm in this second instance which upheld the lamp
from the subterranean vault out of which these presentments
aroseand it was a female formmuch resembling the first in
shape and proportionswhich slowly emerged from the floor. Her
dress was also of red samitefantastically cut and flouncedas
if she had been dressed for some exhibition of mimes or jugglers;
and with the same minuteness which her predecessor had exhibited
she passed the lamp over her face and personwhich seemed to
rival the male's in ugliness. But with all this most
unfavourable exteriorthere was one trait in the features of
both which argued alertness and intelligence in the most uncommon
degree. This arose from the brilliancy of their eyeswhich
deep-set beneath black and shaggy browsgleamed with a lustre
whichlike that in the eye of the toadseemed to make some
amends for the extreme ugliness of countenance and person.

Sir Kenneth remained as if spellboundwhile this unlovely pair
moving round the chapel close to each otherappeared to perform


the duty of sweeping itlike menials; but as they used only one
handthe floor was not much benefited by the exercisewhich
they plied with such oddity of gestures and manner as befitted
their bizarre and fantastic appearance. When they approached
near to the knight in the course of their occupationthey ceased
to use their brooms; and placing themselves side by side
directly opposite to Sir Kenneththey again slowly shifted the
lights which they heldso as to allow him distinctly to survey
features which were not rendered more agreeable by being brought
nearerand to observe the extreme quickness and keenness with
which their black and glittering eyes flashed back the light of
the lamps. They then turned the gleam of both lights upon the
knightand having accurately surveyed himturned their faces to
each otherand set up a loudyelling laughwhich resounded in
his ears. The sound was so ghastly that Sir Kenneth started at
hearing itand hastily demandedin the name of Godwho they
were who profaned that holy place with such antic gestures and
elritch exclamations.

I am the dwarf Nectabanus,said the abortion-seeming malein a
voice corresponding to his figureand resembling the voice of
the night-crow more than any sound which is heard by daylight.

And I am Guenevra, his lady and his love,replied the female
in tones whichbeing shrillerwere yet wilder than those of her
companion.

Wherefore are you here?again demanded the knightscarcely
yet assured that they were human beings which he saw before him.

I am,replied the male dwarfwith much assumed gravity and
dignitythe twelfth Imaum. I am Mohammed Mohadi, the guide and
the conductor of the faithful. A hundred horses stand ready
saddled for me and my train at the Holy City, and as many at the
City of Refuge. I am he who shall bear witness, and this is one
of my houris.

Thou liest!answered the femaleinterrupting her companion
in tones yet shriller than his own; "I am none of thy hourisand
thou art no such infidel trash as the Mohammed of whom thou
speakest. May my curse rest upon his coffin! I tell theethou
ass of Issacharthou art King Arthur of Britainwhom the
fairies stole away from the field of Avalon; and I am Dame
Guenevrafamed for her beauty."

But in truth, noble sir,said the malewe are distressed
princes, dwelling under the wing of King Guy of Jerusalem, until
he was driven out from his own nest by the foul infidels
--Heaven's bolts consume them!

Hush,said a voice from the side upon which the knight had
entered--"hushfoolsand begone; your ministry is ended."

The dwarfs had no sooner heard the command thangibbering in
discordant whispers to each otherthey blew out their lights at
onceand left the knight in utter darknesswhichwhen the
pattering of their retiring feet had died awaywas soon
accompanied by its fittest companiontotal silence.

The knight felt the departure of these unfortunate creatures a
relief. He could notfrom their languagemannersand
appearancedoubt that they belonged to the degraded class of
beings whom deformity of person and weakness of intellect
recommended to the painful situation of appendages to great


familieswhere their personal appearance and imbecility were
food for merriment to the household. Superior in no respect to
the ideas and manners of his timethe Scottish knight mightat
another periodhave been much amused by the mummery of these
poor effigies of humanity; but now their appearance
gesticulationsand language broke the train of deep and solemn
feeling with which he was impressedand he rejoiced in the
disappearance of the unhappy objects.

A few minutes after they had retiredthe door at which he had
entered opened slowlyand remaining ajardiscovered a faint
light arising from a lantern placed upon the threshold. Its
doubtful and wavering gleam showed a dark form reclined beside
the entrancebut without its precinctswhichon approaching it
more nearlyhe recognized to be the hermitcrouching in the
same humble posture in which he had at first laid himself down
and whichdoubtlesshe had retained during the whole time of
his guest's continuing in the chapel.

All is over,said the hermitas he heard the knight
approachingand the most wretched of earthly sinners, with him
who should think himself most honoured and most happy among the
race of humanity, must retire from this place. Take the light,
and guide me down the descent, for I must not uncover my eyes
until I am far from this hallowed spot.

The Scottish knight obeyed in silencefor a solemn and yet
ecstatic sense of what he had seen had silenced even the eager

workings of curiosity. He led the waywith considerable
accuracythrough the various secret passages and stairs by which
they had ascendeduntil at length they found themselves in the
outward cell of the hermit's cavern.

The condemned criminal is restored to his dungeon, reprieved
from one miserable day to another, until his awful Judge shall at
length appoint the well-deserved sentence to be carried into
execution.

As the hermit spoke these wordshe laid aside the veil with
which his eyes had been boundand looked at it with a suppressed
and hollow sigh. No sooner had he restored it to the crypt from
which he had caused the Scot to bring itthan he said hastily
and sternly to his companion; "Begonebegone--to restto rest.
You may sleep--you can sleep--I neither can nor may."

Respecting the profound agitation with which this was spokenthe
knight retired into the inner cell; but casting back his eye as
he left the exterior grottohe beheld the anchorite stripping
his shoulders with frantic haste of their shaggy mantleand ere
he could shut the frail door which separated the two compartments
of the cavernhe heard the clang of the scourge and the groans
of the penitent under his self-inflicted penance. A cold shudder
came over the knight as he reflected what could be the foulness
of the sinwhat the depth of the remorsewhichapparently
such severe penance could neither cleanse nor assuage. He told
his beads devoutlyand flung himself on his rude couchafter a
glance at the still sleeping Moslemandwearied by the various
scenes of the day and the nightsoon slept as sound as infancy.
Upon his awaking in the morninghe held certain conferences with
the hermit upon matters of importanceand the result of their
intercourse induced him to remain for two days longer in the
grotto. He was regularas became a pilgrimin his devotional
exercisesbut was not again admitted to the chapel in which he


had seen such wonders.

CHAPTER VI.

Now change the scene--and let the trumpets sound
For we must rouse the lion from his lair. OLD PLAY.

The scene must changeas our programme has announcedfrom the
mountain wilderness of Jordan to the camp of King Richard of
Englandthen stationed betwixt Jean d'Acre and Ascalonand
containing that army with which he of the lion heart had promised
himself a triumphant march to Jerusalemand in which he would
probably have succeededif not hindered by the jealousies of the
Christian princes engaged in the same enterpriseand the offence
taken by them at the uncurbed haughtiness of the English monarch
and Richard's unveiled contempt for his brother sovereignswho
his equals in rankwere yet far his inferiors in courage
hardihoodand military talents. Such discordsand particularly
those betwixt Richard and Philip of Francecreated disputes and
obstacles which impeded every active measure proposed by the
heroic though impetuous Richardwhile the ranks of the Crusaders
were daily thinnednot only by the desertion of individualsbut
of entire bandsheaded by their respective feudal leaderswho
withdrew from a contest in which they had ceased to hope for
success.

The effects of the climate becameas usualfatal to soldiers
from the northand the more so that the dissolute license of the
Crusadersforming a singular contrast to the principles and
purpose of their taking up armsrendered them more easy victims
to the insalubrious influence of burning heat and chilling dews.
To these discouraging causes of loss was to be added the sword of
the enemy. Saladinthan whom no greater name is recorded in
Eastern historyhad learnedto his fatal experiencethat his
light-armed followers were little able to meet in close encounter
with the iron-clad Franksand had been taughtat the same time
to apprehend and dread the adventurous character of his
antagonist Richard. But if his armies were more than once routed
with great slaughterhis numbers gave the Saracen the advantage
in those lighter skirmishesof which many were inevitable.

As the army of his assailants decreasedthe enterprises of the
Sultan became more numerous and more bold in this species of
petty warfare. The camp of the Crusaders was surroundedand
almost besiegedby clouds of light cavalryresembling swarms of
waspseasily crushed when they are once graspedbut furnished
with wings to elude superior strengthand stings to inflict harm
and mischief. There was perpetual warfare of posts and foragers
in which many valuable lives were lostwithout any corresponding
object being gained; convoys were interceptedand communications
were cut off. The Crusaders had to purchase the means of
sustaining lifeby life itself; and waterlike that of the well
of Bethlehemlonged for by King Davidone of its ancient
monarchswas thenas beforeonly obtained by the expenditure
of blood.

These evils were in a great measure counterbalanced by the stern
resolution and restless activity of King Richardwhowith some
of his best knightswas ever on horsebackready to repair to
any point where danger occurredand often not only bringing
unexpected succour to the Christiansbut discomfiting the
infidels when they seemed most secure of victory. But even the


iron frame of Coeur de Lion could not support without injury the
alternations of the unwholesome climatejoined to ceaseless
exertions of body and mind. He became afflicted with one of
those slow and wasting fevers peculiar to Asiaand in despite of
his great strength and still greater couragegrew first unfit to
mount on horsebackand then unable to attend the councils of war
which were from time to time held by the Crusaders. It was
difficult to say whether this state of personal inactivity was
rendered more galling or more endurable to the English monarch by
the resolution of the council to engage in a truce of thirty days
with the Sultan Saladin; for on the one handif he was incensed
at the delay which this interposed to the progress of the great
enterprisehe wason the othersomewhat consoled by knowing
that others were not acquiring laurels while he remained inactive
upon a sick-bed

Thathoweverwhich Coeur de Lion could least excuse was the
general inactivity which prevailed in the camp of the Crusaders
so soon as his illness assumed a serious aspect; and the reports
which he extracted from his unwilling attendants gave him to
understand that the hopes of the host had abated in proportion to
his illnessand that the interval of truce was employednot in
recruiting their numbersreanimating their couragefostering
their spirit of conquestand preparing for a speedy and
determined advance upon the Holy Citywhich was the object of
their expeditionbut in securing the camp occupied by their
diminished followers with trenchespalisadesand other
fortificationsas if preparing rather to repel an attack from a
powerful enemy so soon as hostilities should recommencethan to
assume the proud character of conquerors and assailants.

The English king chafed under these reportslike the imprisoned
lion viewing his prey from the iron barriers of his cage.
Naturally rash and impetuousthe irritability of his temper
preyed on itself. He was dreaded by his attendants and even the
medical assistants feared to assume the necessary authority which
a physicianto do justice to his patientmust needs exercise
over him. One faithful baronwhoperhapsfrom the congenial
nature of his dispositionwas devoutly attached to the King's
persondared alone to come between the dragon and his wrathand
quietlybut firmlymaintained a control which no other dared
assume over the dangerous invalidand which Thomas de Multon
only exercised because he esteemed his sovereign's life and
honour more than he did the degree of favour which he might lose
or even the risk which he might incurin nursing a patient so
intractableand whose displeasure was so perilous.

Sir Thomas was the Lord of Gilslandin Cumberlandand in an age
when surnames and titles were not distinctly attachedas nowto
the individuals who bore themhe was called by the Normans the
Lord de Vaux; and in English by the Saxonswho clung to their
native languageand were proud of the share of Saxon blood in
this renowned warrior's veinshe was termed Thomasormore
familiarlyThom of the Gillsor Narrow Valleysfrom which his
extensive domains derived their well-known appellation.

This chief had been exercised in almost all the warswhether
waged betwixt England and Scotlandor amongst the various
domestic factions which then tore the former country asunderand
in all had been distinguishedas well from his military conduct
as his personal prowess. He wasin other respectsa rude
soldierblunt and careless in his bearingand taciturn--nay
almost sullen--in his habits of societyand seemingat least
to disclaim all knowledge of policy and of courtly art. There


were menhoweverwho pretended to look deeply into character
who asserted that the Lord de Vaux was not less shrewd and
aspiring than he was blunt and boldand who thought thatwhile
he assimilated himself to the king's own character of blunt
hardihoodit wasin some degree at leastwith an eye to
establish his favourand to gratify his own hopes of deep-laid
ambition. But no one cared to thwart his schemesif such he
hadby rivalling him in the dangerous occupation of daily
attendance on the sick-bed of a patient whose disease was
pronounced infectiousand more especially when it was remembered
that the patient was Coeur de Lionsuffering under all the
furious impatience of a soldier withheld from battleand a
sovereign sequestered from authority; and the common soldiersat
least in the English armywere generally of opinion that De Vaux
attended on the King like comrade upon comradein the honest and
disinterested frankness of military friendship contracted between
the partakers of daily dangers.

It was on the decline of a Syrian day that Richard lay on his
couch of sicknessloathing it as much in mind as his illness
made it irksome to his body. His bright blue eyewhich at all
times shone with uncommon keenness and splendourhad its
vivacity augmented by fever and mental impatienceand glanced
from among his curled and unshorn locks of yellow hair as
fitfully and as vividly as the last gleams of the sun shoot
through the clouds of an approaching thunderstormwhich still
howeverare gilded by its beams. His manly features showed the
progress of wasting illnessand his beardneglected and
untrimmedhad overgrown both lips and chin. Casting himself
from side to sidenow clutching towards him the coveringswhich
at the next moment he flung as impatiently from himhis tossed
couch and impatient gestures showed at once the energy and the
reckless impatience of a disposition whose natural sphere was
that of the most active exertion.

Beside his couch stood Thomas de Vauxin faceattitudeand
manner the strongest possible contrast to the suffering monarch.
His stature approached the giganticand his hair in thickness
might have resembled that of Samsonthough only after the
Israelitish champion's locks had passed under the shears of the
Philistinesfor those of De Vaux were cut shortthat they might
be enclosed under his helmet. The light of his broadlarge
hazel eye resembled that of the autumn morn; and it was only
perturbed for a momentwhen from time to time it was attracted
by Richard's vehement marks of agitation and restlessness. His
featuresthough massive like his personmight have been
handsome before they were defaced with scars; his upper lip
after the fashion of the Normanswas covered with thick
moustacheswhich grew so long and luxuriantly as to mingle with
his hairandlike his hairwere dark brownslightly brindled
with grey. His frame seemed of that kind which most readily
defies both toil and climatefor he was thin-flankedbroad-chestedlong-armeddeep-breathedand stronglimbed.
He had
not laid aside his buff-coatwhich displayed the cross cut on
the shoulderfor more than three nightsenjoying but such
momentary repose as the warder of a sick monarch's couch might by
snatches indulge. This Baron rarely changed his postureexcept
to administer to Richard the medicine or refreshments which none
of his less favoured attendants could persuade the impatient
monarch to take; and there was something affecting in the kindly
yet awkward manner in which he discharged offices so strangely
contrasted with his blunt and soldierly habits and manners.

The pavilion in which these personages werehadas became the


timeas well as the personal character of Richardmore of a
warlike than a sumptuous or royal character. Weapons offensive
and defensiveseveral of them of strange and newly-invented
constructionwere scattered about the tented apartmentor
disposed upon the pillars which supported it. Skins of animals
slain in the chase were stretched on the groundor extended
along the sides of the pavilion; and upon a heap of these silvan
spoils lay three ALANSas they were then called (wolfgreyhounds
that is)of the largest sizeand as white as snow.
Their facesmarked with many a scar from clutch and fangshowed
their share in collecting the trophies upon which they reposed;
and their eyesfixed from time to time with an expressive
stretch and yawn upon the bed of Richardevinced how much they
marvelled at and regretted the unwonted inactivity which they
were compelled to share. These were but the accompaniments of
the soldier and huntsman; but on a small table close by the bed
was placed a shield of wrought steelof triangular formbearing
the three lions passant first assumed by the chivalrous monarch
and before it the golden circletresembling much a ducal
coronetonly that it was higher in front than behindwhich
with the purple velvet and embroidered tiara that lined it
formed then the emblem of England's sovereignty. Beside itas
if prompt for defending the regal symbollay a mighty curtal-axewhich would have wearied the arm of
any other than Coeur de
Lion.

In an outer partition of the pavilion waited two or three
officers of the royal householddepressedanxious for their
master's healthand not less so for their own safetyin case of
his decease. Their gloomy apprehensions spread themselves to the
warders withoutwho paced about in downcast and silent
contemplationorresting on their halberdsstood motionless on
their postrather like armed trophies than living warriors.

So thou hast no better news to bring me from without, Sir
Thomas!said the Kingafter a long and perturbed silence
spent in the feverish agitation which we have endeavoured to
describe. "All our knights turned womenand our ladies become
devoteesand neither a spark of valour nor of gallantry to
enlighten a camp which contains the choicest of Europe's
chivalry--ha!"

The truce, my lord,said De Vauxwith the same patience with
which he had twenty times repeated the explanation--"the truce
prevents us bearing ourselves as men of action; and for the
ladiesI am no great revelleras is well known to your Majesty
and seldom exchange steel and buff for velvet and gold--but thus
far I knowthat our choicest beauties are waiting upon the
Queen's Majesty and the Princessto a pilgrimage to the convent
of Engaddito accomplish their vows for your Highness's
deliverance from this trouble."

And is it thus,said Richardwith the impatience of
indispositionthat royal matrons and maidens should risk
themselves, where the dogs who defile the land have as little
truth to man as they have faith towards God?

Nay, my lord,said De Vauxthey have Saladin's word for their
safety.

True, true!replied Richard; "and I did the heathen Soldan
injustice--I owe him reparation for it. Would God I were but fit
to offer it him upon my body between the two hosts--Christendom
and heathenesse both looking on!"


As Richard spokehe thrust his right arm out of bed naked to the
shoulderand painfully raising himself in his couchshook his
clenched handas if it grasped sword or battle-axeand was then
brandished over the jewelled turban of the Soldan. It was not
without a gentle degree of violencewhich the King would scarce
have endured from anotherthat De Vauxin his character of
sick-nursecompelled his royal master to replace himself in the
couchand covered his sinewy armneckand shoulders with the
care which a mother bestows upon an impatient child.


Thou art a rough nurse, though a willing one, De Vaux,said the
Kinglaughing with a bitter expressionwhile he submitted to
the strength which he was unable to resist; "methinks a coif
would become thy lowering features as well as a child's biggin
would beseem mine. We should be a babe and nurse to frighten
girls with."


We have frightened men in our time, my liege,said De Vaux;
and, I trust, may live to frighten them again. What is a fever-fit, that we should not endure it patiently, order to get rid
of it easily?


Fever-fit!exclaimed Richard impetuously; "thou mayest think
and justlythat it is a fever-fit with me; but what is it with
all the other Christian princes--with Philip of Francewith that
dull Austrianwith him of Montserratwith the Hospitallers
with the Templars--what is it with all them? I will tell thee.
It is a cold palsya dead lethargya disease that deprives them
of speech and actiona canker that has eaten into the heart of
all that is nobleand chivalrousand virtuous among them--that
has made them false to the noblest vow ever knights were sworn to
--has made them indifferent to their fameand forgetful of their
God!"


For the love of Heaven, my liege,said De Vauxtake it less
violently--you will be heard without doors, where such speeches
are but too current already among the common soldiery, and
engender discord and contention in the Christian host. Bethink
you that your illness mars the mainspring of their enterprise; a
mangonel will work without screw and lever better than the
Christian host without King Richard.


Thou flatterest me, De Vaux,said Richardand not insensible
to the power of praisehe reclined his head on the pillow with a
more deliberate attempt to repose than he had yet exhibited. But
Thomas de Vaux was no courtier; the phrase which had offered had
risen spontaneously to his lipsand he knew not how to pursue
the pleasing theme so as to soothe and prolong the vein which he
had excited. He was silentthereforeuntilrelapsing into his
moody contemplationsthe King demanded of him sharply
Despardieux! This is smoothly said to soothe a sick man; but
does a league of monarchs, an assemblage or nobles, a convocation
of all the chivalry of Europe, droop with the sickness of one
man, though he chances to be King of England? Why should
Richard's illness, or Richard's death, check the march of thirty
thousand men as brave as himself? When the master stag is struck
down, the herd do not disperse upon his fall; when the falcon
strikes the leading crane, another takes the guidance of the
phalanx. Why do not the powers assemble and choose some one to
whom they may entrust the guidance of the host?


Forsooth, and if it please your Majesty,said De VauxI hear
consultations have been held among the royal leaders for some



such purpose.

Ha!exclaimed Richardhis jealousy awakenedgiving his
mental irritation another directionam I forgot by my allies
ere I have taken the last sacrament? Do they hold me dead
already? But no, no, they are right. And whom do they select as
leader of the Christian host?

Rank and dignity,said De Vauxpoint to the King of France.

Oh, ay,answered the English monarchPhilip of France and
Navarre--Denis Mountjoie--his most Christian Majesty! Mouth-filling words these! There is but one risk -
that he might
mistake the words EN ARRIERE for EN AVANT, and lead us back to
Paris, instead of marching to Jerusalem. His politic head has
learned by this time that there is more to be gotten by
oppressing his feudatories, and pillaging his allies, than
fighting with the Turks for the Holy Sepulchre.

They might choose the Archduke of Austria,said De Vaux.

What! because he is big and burly like thyself, Thomas--nearly
as thick-headed, but without thy indifference to danger and
carelessness of offence? I tell thee that Austria has in all
that mass of flesh no bolder animation than is afforded by the
peevishness of a wasp and the courage of a wren. Out upon him!
He a leader of chivalry to deeds of glory! Give him a flagon of
Rhenish to drink with his besmirched baaren-hauters and lance-knechts.

There is the Grand Master of the Templars,continued the baron
not sorry to keep his master's attention engaged on other topics
than his own illnessthough at the expense of the characters of
prince and potentate. "There is the Grand Master of the
Templars he continued, undauntedskilfulbrave in battle
and sage in councilhaving no separate kingdoms of his own to
divert his exertions from the recovery of the Holy Land--what
thinks your Majesty of the Master as a general leader of the
Christian host?"

Ha, Beau-Seant?answered the King. "Ohno exception can be
taken to Brother Giles Amaury; he understands the ordering of a
battleand the fighting in front when it begins. ButSir
Thomaswere it fair to take the Holy Land from the heathen
Saladinso full of all the virtues which may distinguish
unchristened manand give it to Giles Amaurya worse pagan than
himselfan idolatera devil-worshippera necromancerwho
practises crimes the most dark and unnatural in the vaults and
secret places of abomination and darkness?"

The Grand Master of the Hospitallers of St. John of Jerusalem is
not tainted by fame, either with heresy or magic,said Thomas de
Vaux.

But is he not a sordid miser?said Richard hastily; "has he
not been suspected--aymore than suspected--of selling to the
infidels those advantages which they would never have won by fair
force? Tushmanbetter give the army to be made merchandise of
by Venetian skippers and Lombardy pedlarsthan trust it to the
Grand Master of St. John."

Well, then, I will venture but another guess,said the Baron de
Vaux. "What say you to the gallant Marquis of Montserratso
wiseso elegantsuch a good man-at-arms?"


Wise?--cunning, you would say,replied Richard; "elegant in a
lady's chamberif you will. OhayConrade of Montserrat--who
knows not the popinjay? Politic and versatilehe will change
you his purposes as often as the trimmings of his doubletand
you shall never be able to guess the hue of his inmost vestments
from their outward colours. A man-at-arms? Aya fine figure on
horsebackand can bear him well in the tilt-yardand at the
barrierswhen swords are blunted at point and edgeand spears
are tipped with trenchers of wood instead of steel pikes. Wert
thou not with me when I said to that same gay Marquis'Here we
bethree good Christiansand on yonder plain there pricks a
band of some threescore Saracens--what say you to charge them
briskly? There are but twenty unbelieving miscreants to each
true knight."

I recollect the Marquis replied,said De Vauxthat his limbs
were of flesh, not of iron, and that he would rather bear the
heart of a man than of a beast, though that beast were the lion,
But I see how it is--we shall end where we began, without hope of
praying at the Sepulchre until Heaven shall restore King Richard
to health.

At this grave remark Richard burst out into a hearty fit of
laughterthe first which he had for some time indulged in. "Why
what a thing is conscience he said, that through its means
even such a thick-witted northern lord as thou canst bring thy
sovereign to confess his folly! It is true thatdid they not
propose themselves as fit to hold my leading-stafflittle should
I care for plucking the silken trappings off the puppets thou
hast shown me in succession. What concerns it me what fine
tinsel robes they swagger inunless when they are named as
rivals in the glorious enterprise to which I have vowed myself?
YesDe VauxI confess my weaknessand the wilfulness of my
ambition. The Christian camp containsdoubtlessmany a better
knight than Richard of Englandand it would be wise and worthy
to assign to the best of them the leading of the host. But
continued the warlike monarch, raising himself in his bed, and
shaking the cover from his head, while his eyes sparkled as they
were wont to do on the eve of battle, were such a knight to
plant the banner of the Cross on the Temple of Jerusalem while I
was unable to bear my share in the noble taskhe shouldso soon
as I was fit to lay lance in restundergo my challenge to mortal
combatfor having diminished my fameand pressed in before to
the object of my enterprise. But harkwhat trumpets are those
at a distance?"

Those of King Philip, as I guess, my liege,said the stout
Englishman.

Thou art dull of ear, Thomas,said the Kingendeavouring to
start up; "hearest thou not that clash and clang? By Heaventhe
Turks are in the camp--I hear their LELIES." [The war-cries of
the Moslemah.]

He again endeavoured to get out of bedand De Vaux was obliged
to exercise his own great strengthand also to summon the
assistance of the chamberlains from the inner tentto restrain
him.

Thou art a false traitor, De Vaux,said the incensed monarch
whenbreathless and exhausted with strugglinghe was compelled
to submit to superior strengthand to repose in quiet on his
couch. "I would I were--I would I were but strong enough to dash
thy brains out with my battle-axe!"


I would you had the strength, my liege,said De Vauxand
would even take the risk of its being so employed. The odds
would be great in favour of Christendom were Thomas Multon dead
and Coeur de Lion himself again.


Mine honest faithful servant,said Richardextending his hand
which the baron reverentially salutedforgive thy master's
impatience of mood. It is this burning fever which chides thee,
and not thy kind master, Richard of England. But go, I prithee,
and bring me word what strangers are in the camp, for these
sounds are not of Christendom.


De Vaux left the pavilion on the errand assignedand in his
absencewhich he had resolved should be briefhe charged the
chamberlainspagesand attendants to redouble their attention
on their sovereignwith threats of holding them to
responsibilitywhich rather added to than diminished their timid
anxiety in the discharge of their duty; for nextperhapsto the
ire of the monarch himselfthey dreaded that of the stern and
inexorable Lord of Gilsland. [Sir Thomas Multon of Gilsland.]


CHAPTER VII.


There never was a time on the march parts yet
When Scottish with English met
But it was marvel if the red blood ran not
As the rain does in the street. BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.


A considerable band of Scottish warriors had joined the
Crusadersand had naturally placed themselves under the command
of the English monarchbeinglike his native troopsmost of
them of Saxon and Norman descentspeaking the same languages
possessedsome of themof English as well as Scottish demesnes
and allied in some cases by blood and intermarriage. The period
also preceded that when the grasping ambition of Edward I. gave a
deadly and envenomed character to the wars betwixt the two
nations--the English fighting for the subjugation of Scotland
and the Scottishwith all the stern determination and obstinacy
which has ever characterized their nationfor the defence of
their independenceby the most violent meansunder the most
disadvantageous circumstancesand at the most extreme hazard.
As yetwars betwixt the two nationsthough fierce and frequent
had been conducted on principles of fair hostilityand admitted
of those softening shades by which courtesy and the respect for
open and generous foemen qualify and mitigate the horrors of war.
In time of peacethereforeand especially when bothas at
presentwere engaged in warwaged in behalf of a common cause
and rendered dear to them by their ideas of religionthe
adventurers of both countries frequently fought side by side
their national emulation serving only to stimulate them to excel
each other in their efforts against the common enemy.


The frank and martial character of Richardwho made no
distinction betwixt his own subjects and those of William of
Scotlandexcepting as they bore themselves in the field of
battletended much to conciliate the troops of both nations.
But upon his illnessand the disadvantageous circumstances in
which the Crusaders were placedthe national disunion between
the various bands united in the Crusadebegan to display itself
just as old wounds break out afresh in the human body when under
the influence of disease or debility.



The Scottish and Englishequally jealous and high-spiritedand
apt to take offence--the former the more sobecause the poorer
and the weaker nation--began to fill up by internal dissension
the period when the truce forbade them to wreak their united
vengeance on the Saracens. Like the contending Roman chiefs of
oldthe Scottish would admit no superiorityand their southern
neighbours would brook no equality. There were charges and
recriminationsand both the common soldiery and their leaders
and commanderswho had been good comrades in time of victory
lowered on each other in the period of adversityas if their
union had not been then more essential than evernot only to the
success of their common causebut to their joint safety. The
same disunion had begun to show itself betwixt the French and
Englishthe Italians and the Germansand even between the Danes
and Swedes; but it is only that which divided the two nations
whom one island bredand who seemed more animated against each
other for the very reasonthat our narrative is principally
concerned with.

Of all the English nobles who had followed their King to
PalestineDe Vaux was most prejudiced against the Scottish.
They were his near neighbourswith whom he had been engaged
during his whole life in private or public warfareand on whom
he had inflicted many calamitieswhile he had sustained at their
hands not a few. His love and devotion to the King was like the
vivid affection of the old English mastiff to his masterleaving
him churlish and inaccessible to all others even towards those to
whom he was indifferent--and rough and dangerous to any against
whom he entertained a prejudice. De Vaux had never observed
without jealousy and displeasure his King exhibit any mark of
courtesy or favour to the wickeddeceitfuland ferocious race
born on the other side of a riveror an imaginary line drawn
through waste and wilderness; and he even doubted the success of
a Crusade in which they were suffered to bear armsholding them
in his secret soul little better than the Saracens whom he came
to combat. It may be added thatas being himself a blunt and
downright Englishmanunaccustomed to conceal the slightest
movement either of love or of dislikehe accounted the fair-spoken courtesy which the Scots had learned
either from
imitation of their frequent alliesthe Frenchor which might
have arisen from their own proud and reserved characteras a
false and astucious mark of the most dangerous designs against
their neighboursover whom he believedwith genuine English
confidencethey couldby fair manhoodnever obtain any
advantage.

Yetthough De Vaux entertained these sentiments concerning his
Northern neighboursand extended themwith little mitigation
even to such as had assumed the Crosshis respect for the King
and a sense of the duty imposed by his vow as a Crusader
prevented him from displaying them otherwise than by regularly
shunning all intercourse with his Scottish brethren-at-arms as
far as possibleby observing a sullen taciturnity when compelled
to meet them occasionallyand by looking scornfully upon them
when they encountered on the march and in camp. The Scottish
barons and knights were not men to bear his scorn unobserved or
unreplied to; and it came to that pass that he was regarded as
the determined and active enemy of a nationwhomafter allhe
only dislikedand in some sort despised. Nayit was remarked
by close observers thatif he had not towards them the charity
of Scripturewhich suffereth longand judges kindlyhe was by
no means deficient in the subordinate and limited virtuewhich
alleviates and relieves the wants of others. The wealth of


Thomas of Gilsland procured supplies of provisions and medicines
and some of these usually flowed by secret channels into the
quarters of the Scottish--his surly benevolence proceeding on the
principle thatnext to a man's friendhis foe was of most
importance to himpassing over all the intermediate relations as
too indifferent to merit even a thought. This explanation is
necessaryin order that the reader may fully understand what we
are now to detail.

Thomas de Vaux had not made many steps beyond the entrance of the
royal pavilion when he was aware of what the far more acute ear
of the English monarch--no mean proficient in the art of
minstrelsy--had instantly discoveredthat the musical strains
namelywhich had reached their earswere produced by the pipes
shalmsand kettle-drums of the Saracens; and at the bottom of an
avenue of tentswhich formed a broad access to the pavilion of
Richardhe could see a crowd of idle soldiers assembled around
the spot from which the music was heardalmost in the centre of
the camp; and he sawwith great surprisemingled amid the
helmets of various forms worn by the Crusaders of different
nationswhite turbans and long pikesannouncing the presence of
armed Saracensand the huge deformed heads of several camels or
dromedariesoverlooking the multitude by aid of their long
disproportioned necks.

Wonderingand displeased at a sight so unexpected and singular
--for it was customary to leave all flags of truce and other
communications from the enemy at an appointed place without the
barriers--the baron looked eagerly round for some one of whom he
might inquire the cause of this alarming novelty.

The first person whom he met advancing to him he set down at
onceby his grave and haughty stepas a Spaniard or a Scot; and
presently after muttered to himselfAnd a Scot it is--he of the
Leopard. I have seen him fight indifferently well, for one of
his country.

Loath to ask even a passing questionhe was about to pass Sir
Kennethwith that sullen and lowering port which seems to say
I know thee, but I will hold no communication with thee.But
his purpose was defeated by the Northern Knightwho moved
forward directly to himand accosting him with formal courtesy
saidMy Lord de Vaux of Gilsland, I have in charge to speak
with you.

Ha!returned the English baronwith me? But say your
pleasure, so it be shortly spoken--I am on the King's errand.

Mine touches King Richard yet more nearly,answered Sir
Kenneth; "I bring himI trusthealth."

The Lord of Gilsland measured the Scot with incredulous eyesand
repliedThou art no leech, I think, Sir Scot; I had as soon
thought of your bringing the King of England wealth.

Sir Kenneththough displeased with the manner of the baron's
replyanswered calmlyHealth to Richard is glory and wealth to
Christendom.--But my time presses; I pray you, may I see the
King?

Surely not, fair sir,said the baronuntil your errand be
told more distinctly. The sick chambers of princes open not to
all who inquire, like a northern hostelry.


My lord,said Kenneththe cross which I wear in common with
yourself, and the importance of what I have to tell, must, for
the present, cause me to pass over a bearing which else I were
unapt to endure. In plain language, then, I bring with me a
Moorish physician, who undertakes to work a cure on King
Richard.

A Moorish physician!said De Vaux; "and who will warrant that
he brings not poisons instead of remedies?"

His own life, my lord--his head, which he offers as a
guarantee.

I have known many a resolute ruffian,said De Vauxwho valued
his own life as little as it deserved, and would troop to the
gallows as merrily as if the hangman were his partner in a
dance.

But thus it is, my lord,replied the Scot. "Saladinto whom
none will deny the credit of a generous and valiant enemyhath
sent this leech hither with an honourable retinue and guard
befitting the high estimation in which El Hakim [The Physician]
is held by the Soldanand with fruits and refreshments for the
King's private chamberand such message as may pass betwixt
honourable enemiespraying him to be recovered of his fever
that he may be the fitter to receive a visit from the Soldan
with his naked scimitar in his handand a hundred thousand
cavaliers at his back. Will it please youwho are of the King's
secret councilto cause these camels to be discharged of their
burdensand some order taken as to the reception of the learned
physician?"

Wonderful!said De Vauxas speaking to himself.--"And who
will vouch for the honour of Saladinin a case when bad faith
would rid him at once of his most powerful adversary?"

I myself,replied Sir Kennethwill be his guarantee, with
honour, life, and fortune.

Strange!again ejaculated De Vaux; "the North vouches for the
South--the Scot for the Turk! May I crave of youSir Knight
how you became concerned in this affair?"

I have been absent on a pilgrimage, in the course of which,
replied Sir Kenneth "I had a message to discharge towards the
holy hermit of Engaddi."

May I not be entrusted with it, Sir Kenneth, and with the answer
of the holy man?

It may not be, my lord,answered the Scot.

I am of the secret council of England,said the Englishman
haughtily.

To which land I owe no allegiance,said Kenneth. "Though I
have voluntarily followed in this war the personal fortunes of
England's sovereignI was dispatched by the General Council of
the kingsprincesand supreme leaders of the army of the
Blessed Crossand to them only I render my errand."

Ha! sayest thou?said the proud Baron de Vaux. "But know
messenger of the kings and princes as thou mayest beno leech
shall approach the sick-bed of Richard of England without the


consent of him of Gilsland; and they will come on evil errand who
dare to intrude themselves against it."

He was turning loftily awaywhen the Scotplacing himself
closerand more opposite to himaskedin a calm voiceyet not
without expressing his share of pridewhether the Lord of
Gilsland esteemed him a gentleman and a good knight.

All Scots are ennobled by their birthright,answered Thomas de
Vauxsomething ironically; but sensible of his own injustice
and perceiving that Kenneth's colour rosehe addedFor a good
knight it were sin to doubt you, in one at least who has seen you
well and bravely discharge your devoir.

Well, then,said the Scottish knightsatisfied with the
frankness of the last admissionand let me swear to you, Thomas
of Gilsland, that, as I am true Scottish man, which I hold a
privilege equal to my ancient gentry, and as sure as I am a
belted knight, and come hither to acquire LOS [Los--laus, praise,
or renown] and fame in this mortal life, and forgiveness of my
sins in that which is to come--so truly, and by the blessed Cross
which I wear, do I protest unto you that I desire but the safety
of Richard Coeur de Lion, in recommending the ministry of this
Moslem physician.

The Englishman was struck with the solemnity of the obtestation
and answered with more cordiality than he had yet exhibited
Tell me, Sir Knight of the Leopard, granting (which I do not
doubt) that thou art thyself satisfied in this matter, shall I do
well, in a land where the art of poisoning is as general as that
of cooking, to bring this unknown physician to practise with his
drugs on a health so valuable to Christendom?

My lord,replied the Scotthus only can I reply--that my
squire, the only one of my retinue whom war and disease had left
in attendance on me, has been of late suffering dangerously under
this same fever, which, in valiant King Richard, has disabled the
principal limb of our holy enterprise. This leech, this El
Hakim, hath ministered remedies to him not two hours since, and
already he hath fallen into a refreshing sleep. That he can cure
the disorder, which has proved so fatal, I nothing doubt; that he
hath the purpose to do it is, I think, warranted by his mission
from the royal Soldan, who is true-hearted and loyal, so far as a
blinded infidel may be called so; and for his eventual success,
the certainty of reward in case of succeeding, and punishment in
case of voluntary failure, may be a sufficient guarantee.

The Englishman listened with downcast looksas one who doubted
yet was not unwilling to receive conviction. At length he looked
up and saidMay I see your sick squire, fair sir?

The Scottish knight hesitated and colouredyet answered at last
Willingly, my Lord of Gilsland. But you must remember, when you
see my poor quarter, that the nobles and knights of Scotland feed
not so high, sleep not so soft, and care not for the magnificence
of lodgment which is Proper to their southern neighbours. I am
POORLY lodged, my Lord of Gilsland,he addedwith a haughty
emphasis on the wordwhilewith some unwillingnesshe led the
way to his temporary place of abode.

Whatever were the prejudices of De Vaux against the nation of his
new acquaintanceand though we undertake not to deny that some
of these were excited by its proverbial povertyhe had too much
nobleness of disposition to enjoy the mortification of a brave


individual thus compelled to make known wants which his pride
would gladly have concealed.

Shame to the soldier of the Cross,he saidwho thinks of
worldly splendour, or of luxurious accommodation, when pressing
forward to the conquest of the Holy City. Fare as hard as we
may, we shall yet be better than the host of martyrs and of
saints, who, having trod these scenes before us, now hold golden
lamps and evergreen palms.

This was the most metaphorical speech which Thomas of Gilsland
was ever known to utterthe ratherperhaps (as will sometimes
happen)that it did not entirely express his own sentiments
being somewhat a lover of good cheer and splendid accommodation.
By this time they reached the place of the camp where the Knight
of the Leopard had assumed his abode.

Appearances here did indeed promise no breach of the laws of
mortificationto which the Crusadersaccording to the opinion
expressed by him of Gilslandought to subject themselves. A
space of groundlarge enough to accommodate perhaps thirty
tentsaccording to the Crusaders' rules of castrametationwas
partly vacant--becausein ostentationthe knight had demanded
ground to the extent of his original retinue--partly occupied by
a few miserable hutshastily constructed of boughsand covered
with palm-leaves. These habitations seemed entirely deserted
and several of them were ruinous. The central hutwhich
represented the pavilion of the leaderwas distinguished by his
swallow-tailed pennonplaced on the point of a spearfrom which
its long folds dropped motionless to the groundas if sickening
under the scorching rays of the Asiatic sun. But no pages or
squires--not even a solitary warder--was placed by the emblem of
feudal power and knightly degree. If its reputation defended it
not from insultit had no other guard.

Sir Kenneth cast a melancholy look around himbut suppessing his
feelingsentered the hutmaking a sign to the Baron of Gilsland
to follow. He also cast around a glance of examinationwhich
implied pity not altogether unmingled with contemptto which
perhapsit is as nearly akin as it is said to be to love. He
then stooped his lofty crestand entered a lowly hutwhich his
bulky form seemed almost entirely to fill.

The interior of the hut was chiefly occupied by two beds. One
was emptybut composed of collected leavesand spread with an
antelope's hide. It seemedfrom the articles of armour laid
beside itand from a crucifix of silvercarefully and
reverentially disposed at the headto be the couch of the knight
himself. The other contained the invalidof whom Sir Kenneth
had spokena strong-built and harsh-featured manpastas his
looks betokenedthe middle age of life. His couch was trimmed
more softly than his master'sand it was plain that the more
courtly garments of the latterthe loose robe in which the
knights showed themselves on pacific occasionsand the other
little spare articles of dress and adornmenthad been applied by
Sir Kenneth to the accommodation of his sick domestic. In an
outward part of the hutwhich yet was within the range of the
English baron's eyea boyrudely attired with buskins of deer's
hidea blue cap or bonnetand a doubletwhose original finery
was much tarnishedsat on his knees by a chafing-dish filled
with charcoalcooking upon a plate of iron the cakes of barley-breadwhich were thenand still area
favourite food with the
Scottish people. Part of an antelope was suspended against one
of the main props of the hut. Nor was it difficult to know how


it had been procured; for a large stag greyhoundnobler in size
and appearance than those even which guarded King Richard's sick-bedlay eyeing the process of baking
the cake. The sagacious
animalon their first entranceuttered a stifled growlwhich
sounded from his deep chest like distant thunder. But he saw his
masterand acknowledged his presence by wagging his tail and
couching his headabstaining from more tumultuous or noisy
greetingas if his noble instinct had taught him the propriety
of silence in a sick man's chamber.

Beside the couch sat on a cushionalso composed of skinsthe
Moorish physician of whom Sir Kenneth had spokencross-legged
after the Eastern fashion. The imperfect light showed little of
himsave that the lower part of his face was covered with a
longblack beardwhich descended over his breast; that he wore
a high TOLPACHa Tartar cap of the lamb's wool manufactured at
Astracanbearing the same dusky colour; and that his ample
caftanor Turkish robewas also of a dark hue. Two piercing
eyeswhich gleamed with unusual lustrewere the only lineaments
of his visage that could be discerned amid the darkness in which
he was enveloped.

The English lord stood silent with a sort of reverential awe; for
notwithstanding the roughness of his general bearinga scene of
distress and povertyfirmly endured without complaint or murmur
would at any time have claimed more reverence from Thomas de Vaux
than would all the splendid formalities of a royal presence-chamberunless that presence-chamber were
King Richard's own.
Nothing was for a time heard but the heavy and regular breathings
of the invalidwho seemed in profound repose.

He hath not slept for six nights before,said Sir Kennethas
I am assured by the youth, his attendant.

Noble Scot,said Thomas de Vauxgrasping the Scottish knight's
handwith a pressure which had more of cordiality than he
permitted his words to utterthis gear must be amended. Your
esquire is but too evil fed and looked to.

In the latter part of this speech he naturally raised his voice
to its usual decided toneThe sick man was disturbed in his
slumbers.

My master,he saidmurmuring as in a dreamnoble Sir
Kenneth, taste not, to you as to me, the waters of the Clyde cold
and refreshing after the brackish springs of Palestine?

He dreams of his native land, and is happy in his slumbers,
whispered Sir Kenneth to De Vaux; but had scarce uttered the
wordswhen the physicianarising from the place which he had
taken near the couch of the sickand laying the hand of the
patientwhose pulse he had been carefully watchingquietly upon
the couchcame to the two knightsand taking them each by the
armwhile he intimated to them to remain silentled them to the
front of the hut.

In the name of Issa Ben Mariam,he saidwhom we honour as
you, though not with the same blinded superstition, disturb not
the effect of the blessed medicine of which he hath partaken. To
awaken him now is death or deprivation of reason; but return at
the hour when the muezzin calls from the minaret to evening
prayer in the mosque, and if left undisturbed until then, I
promise you this same Frankish soldier shall be able, without
prejudice to his health, to hold some brief converse with you on


any matters on which either, and especially his master, may have
to question him.

The knights retreated before the authoritative commands of the
leechwho seemed fully to comprehend the importance of the
Eastern proverb that the sick chamber of the patient is the
kingdom of the physician.

They pausedand remained standing together at the door of the
hut--Sir Kenneth with the air of one who expected his visitor to
say farewelland De Vaux as if he had something on his mind
which prevented him from doing so. The houndhoweverhad
pressed out of the tent after themand now thrust his long
rough countenance into the hand of his masteras if modestly
soliciting some mark of his kindness. He had no sooner received
the notice which he desiredin the shape of a kind word and
slight caressthaneager to acknowledge his gratitude and joy
for his master's returnhe flew off at full speedgalloping in
full careerand with outstretched tailhere and thereabout
and aroundcross-ways and endlongthrough the decayed huts and
the esplanade we have describedbut never transgressing those
precincts which his sagacity knew were protected by his master's
pennon. After a few gambols of this kindthe dogcoming close
up to his masterlaid at once aside his frolicsome mood
relapsed into his usual gravity and slowness of gesture and
deportmentand looked as if he were ashamed that anything should
have moved him to depart so far out of his sober self-control.

Both knights looked on with pleasure; for Sir Kenneth was justly
proud of his noble houndand the northern English baron wasof
coursean admirer of the chaseand a judge of the animal's
merits.

A right able dog,he said. "I thinkfair sirKing Richard
hath not an ALAN which may match himif he be as stanch as he is
swift. But let me pray you--speaking in all honour and kindness
--have you not heard the proclamation that no one under the rank
of earl shall keep hunting dogs within King Richard's camp
without the royal licensewhichI thinkSir Kennethhath not
been issued to you? I speak as Master of the Horse."

And I answer as a free Scottish knight,said Kenneth sternly.
For the present I follow the banner of England, but I cannot
remember that I have ever subjected myself to the forest-laws of
that kingdom, nor have I such respect for them as would incline
me to do so. When the trumpet sounds to arms, my foot is in the
stirrup as soon as any--when it clangs for the charge, my lance
has not yet been the last laid in the rest. But for my hours of
liberty or of idleness King Richard has no title to bar my
recreation.

Nevertheless,said De Vauxit is a folly to disobey the
King's ordinance; so, with your good leave, I, as having
authority in that matter, will send you a protection for my
friend here.

I thank you,said the Scot coldly; "but he knows my allotted
quartersand within these I can protect him myself.--And yet
he said, suddenly changing his manner, this is but a cold return
for a well-meant kindness. I thank youmy lordmost heartily.
The King's equerries or prickers might find Roswal at
disadvantageand do him some injurywhich I should not
perhapsbe slow in returningand so ill might come of it. You
have seen so much of my house-keepingmy lord he added, with a


smile, that I need not shame to say that Roswal is our principal
purveyorand well I hope our Lion Richard will not be like the
lion in the minstrel fablethat went a-huntingand kept the
whole booty to himself. I cannot think he would grudge a poor
gentlemanwho follows him faithfullyhis hour of sport and his
morsel of gamemore especially when other food is hard enough to
come by."


By my faith, you do the King no more than justice; and yet,
said the baronthere is something in these words, vert and
venison, that turns the very brains of our Norman princes.


We have heard of late,said the Scotby minstrels and
pilgrims, that your outlawed yeomen have formed great bands in
the shires of York and Nottingham, having at their head a most
stout archer, called Robin Hood, with his lieutenant, Little
John. Methinks it were better that Richard relaxed his forest-code in England, than endeavour to enforce it
in the Holy Land.


Wild work, Sir Kenneth,replied De Vauxshrugging his
shouldersas one who would avoid a perilous or unpleasing topic
--"a mad worldsir. I must now bid you adieuhaving presently
to return to the King's pavilion. At vespers I will againwith
your leavevisit your quartersand speak with this same infidel
physician. I wouldin the meantimewere it no offence
willingly send you what would somewhat mend your cheer."


I thank you, sir,said Sir Kennethbut it needs not. Roswal
hath already stocked my larder for two weeks, since the sun of
Palestine, if it brings diseases, serves also to dry venison.


The two warriors parted much better friends than they had met;
but ere they separatedThomas de Vaux informed himself at more
length of the circumstances attending the mission of the Eastern
physicianand received from the Scottish knight the credentials
which he had brought to King Richard on the part of Saladin.


CHAPTER VIII.


A wise physicianskilled our wounds to heal
Is more than armies to the common weal. POPE'S ILLIAD.


This is a strange tale, Sir Thomas,said the sick monarchwhen
he had heard the report of the trusty Baron of Gilsland. "Art
thou sure this Scottish man is a tall man and true?"


I cannot say, my lord,replied the jealous Borderer. "I live a
little too near the Scots to gather much truth among themhaving
found them ever fair and false. But this man's bearing is that
of a true manwere he a devil as well as a Scot; that I must
needs say for him in conscience."


And for his carriage as a knight, how sayest thou, De Vaux?
demanded the King.


It is your Majesty's business more than mine to note men's
bearings; and I warrant you have noted the manner in which this
man of the Leopard hath borne himself. He hath been full well
spoken of.


And justly, Thomas,said the King. "We have ourselves



witnessed him. It is indeed our purpose in placing ourselves
ever in the front of battleto see how our liegemen and
followers acquit themselvesand not from a desire to accumulate
vainglory to ourselvesas some have supposed. We know the
vanity of the praise of manwhich is but a vapourand buckle on
our armour for other purposes than to win it."


De Vaux was alarmed when he heard the King make a declaration so
inconsistent with his natureand believed at first that nothing
short of the approach of death could have brought him to speak in
depreciating terms of military renownwhich was the very breath
of his nostrils. But recollecting he had met the royal confessor
in the outer pavilionhe was shrewd enough to place this
temporary self-abasement to the effect of the reverend man's
lessonand suffered the King to proceed without reply.


Yes,continued RichardI have indeed marked the manner in
which this knight does his devoir. My leading-staff were not
worth a fool's bauble had he escaped my notice; and he had ere
now tasted of our bounty, but that I have also marked his
overweening and audacious presumption.


My liege,said the Baron of Gilslandobserving the King's
countenance changeI fear I have transgressed your pleasure in
lending some countenance to his transgression.


How, De Multon,
thou?said the Kingcontracting his browsand speaking in a
tone of angry surprise. "Thou countenance his insolence? It
cannot be."


Nay, your Majesty will pardon me to remind you that I have by
mine office right to grant liberty to men of gentle blood to keep
them a hound or two within camp, just to cherish the noble art of
venerie ; and besides, it were a sin to have maimed or harmed a
thing so noble as this gentleman's dog.


Has he, then, a dog so handsome?said the King.


A most perfect creature of Heaven,said the baronwho was an
enthusiast in field-sports--"of the noblest Northern breed--deep
in the cheststrong in the stern--black colourand brindled on
the breast and legsnot spotted with whitebut just shaded into
grey--strength to pull down a bullswiftness to cote an
antelope."


The King laughed at his enthusiasm. "Wellthou hast given him
leave to keep the houndso there is an end of it. Be not
howeverliberal of your licenses among those knights adventurers
who have no prince or leader to depend upon; they are
ungovernableand leave no game in Palestine.--But to this piece
of learned heathenesse--sayest thou the Scot met him in the
desert?"


No, my liege; the Scot's tale runs thus. He was dispatched to
the old hermit of Engaddi, of whom men talk so much--


'Sdeath and hell!said Richardstarting up. "By whom
dispatchedand for what? Who dared send any one thitherwhen
our Queen was in the Convent of Engaddiupon her pilgrimage for
our recovery?"


The Council of the Crusade sent him, my lord,answered the
Baron de Vaux; "for what purposehe declined to account to me.



I think it is scarce known in the camp that your royal consort is
on a pilgrimage; and even the princes may not have been awareas
the Queen has been sequestered from company since your love
prohibited her attendance in case of infection."

Well, it shall be looked into,said Richard. "So this Scottish
manthis envoymet with a wandering physician at the grotto of
Engaddi--ha?"

Not so my liege,replied De Vaux? "but he metI thinknear
that placewith a Saracen Emir with whom he had some MELEE in
the way of proof of valourand finding him worthy to bear brave
men companythey went togetheras errant knights are wontto
the grotto of Engaddi."

Here De Vaux stoppedfor he was not one of those who can tell a
long story in a sentence.

And did they there meet the physician?demanded the King
impatiently.

No, my liege,replied De Vaux; "but the Saracenlearning your
Majesty's grievous illnessundertook that Saladin should send
his own physician to youand with many assurances of his eminent
skill; and he came to the grotto accordinglyafter the Scottish
knight had tarried a day for him and more. He is attended as if
he were a princewith drums and atabalsand servants on horse
and footand brings with him letters of credence from Saladin."

Have they been examined by Giacomo Loredani?

I showed them to the interpreter ere bringing them hither, and
behold their contents in English.

Richard took a scrollin which were inscribed these words: The
blessing of Allah and his Prophet Mohammed ["Out upon the hound!"
said Richardspitting in contemptby way of interjection]
Saladinking of kingsSaldan of Egypt and of Syriathe light
and refuge of the earthto the great Melech RicRichard of
Englandgreeting. Whereaswe have been informed that the hand
of sickness hath been heavy upon theeour royal brotherand
that thou hast with thee only such Nazarene and Jewish mediciners
as work without the blessing of Allah and our holy Prophet
["Confusion on his head!" again muttered the English monarch]
we have therefore sent to tend and wait upon thee at this time
the physician to our own personAdonbec el Hakimbefore whose
face the angel Azrael [The Angel of Death.] spreads his wings and
departs from the sick chamber; who knows the virtues of herbs and
stonesthe path of the sunmoonand starsand can save man
from all that is not written on his forehead. And this we do
praying you heartily to honour and make use of his skill; not
only that we may do service to thy worth and valourwhich is the
glory of all the nations of Frangistanbut that we may bring the
controversy which is at present between us to an endeither by
honourable agreementor by open trial thereof with our weapons
in a fair field--seeing that it neither becomes thy place and
courage to die the death of a slave who hath been overwrought by
his taskmasternor befits it our fame that a brave adversary be
snatched from our weapon by such a disease. Andthereforemay
the holy--"

Hold, hold,said Richard I will have no more of his dog of a
prophet! It makes me sick to think the valiant and worthy Soldan
should believe in a dead dog. Yes, I will see his physician. I


will put myself into the charge of this Hakim--I will repay the
noble Soldan his generosity--I will meet Saladin in the field, as
he so worthily proposes, and he shall have no cause to term
Richard of England ungrateful. I will strike him to the earth
with my battle-axe--I will convert him to Holy Church with such
blows as he has rarely endured. He shall recant his errors
before my good cross-handled sword, and I will have him baptized
on the battle-field, from my own helmet, though the cleansing
waters were mixed with the blood of us both.--Haste, De Vaux, why
dost thou delay a conclusion so pleasing? Fetch the Hakim
hither.

My lord,said the baronwho perhaps saw some accession of
fever in this overflow of confidencebethink you, the Soldan is
a pagan, and that you are his most formidable enemy--

For which reason he is the more bound to do me service in this
matter, lest a paltry fever end the quarrel betwixt two such
kings. I tell thee he loves me as I love him--as noble
adversaries ever love each other. By my honour, it were sin to
doubt his good faith!

Nevertheless, my lord, it were well to wait the issue of these
medicines upon the Scottish squire,said the Lord of Gilsland.
My own life depends upon it, for worthy were I to die like a dog
did I proceed rashly in this matter, and make shipwreck of the
weal of Christendom.

I never knew thee before hesitate for fear of life,said
Richard upbraidingly.

Nor would I now, my liege,replied the stout-hearted baron
save that yours lies at pledge as well as my own.

Well, thou suspicious mortal,answered Richardbegone then,
and watch the progress of this remedy. I could almost wish it
might either cure or kill me, for I am weary of lying here like
an ox dying of the murrain, when tambours are beating, horses
stamping, and trumpets sounding without.

The baron hastily departedresolvedhoweverto communicate his
errand to some churchmanas he felt something burdened in
conscience at the idea of his master being attended by an
unbeliever.

The Archbishop of Tyre was the first to whom he confided his
doubtsknowing his interest with his masterRichardwho both
loved and honoured that sagacious prelate. The bishop heard the
doubts which De Vaux statedwith that acuteness of intelligence
which distinguishes the Roman Catholic clergy. The religious
scruples of De Vaux he treated with as much lightness as
propriety permitted him to exhibit on such a subject to a layman.

Mediciners,he saidlike the medicines which they employed,
were often useful, though the one were by birth or manners the
vilest of humanity, as the others are, in many cases, extracted
from the basest materials. Men may use the assistance of pagans
and infidels,he continuedin their need, and there is reason
to think that one cause of their being permitted to remain on
earth is that they might minister to the convenience of true
Christians. Thus we lawfully make slaves of heathen captives.
Again,proceeded the prelatethere is no doubt that the
primitive Christians used the services of the unconverted
heathen. Thus in the ship of Alexandria, in which the blessed


Apostle Paul sailed to Italy, the sailors were doubtless pagans;
yet what said the holy saint when their ministry was needful?
--'NISI HI IN NAVI MANSERINT, VOS SALVI FIERI NON POTESTIS'--
Unless these men abide in the ship, ye cannot be saved. Again,
Jews are infidels to Christianity, as well as Mohammedans. But
there are few physicians in the camp excepting Jews, and such are
employed without scandal or scruple. Therefore, Mohammedans may
be used for their service in that capacity--QUOD ERAT
DEMONSTRANDUM.

This reasoning entirely removed the scruples of Thomas de Vaux
who was particularly moved by the Latin quotationas he did not
understand a word of it.

But the bishop proceeded with far less fluency when he considered
the possibility of the Saracen's acting with bad faith; and here
he came not to a speedy decision. The baron showed him the
letters of credence. He read and re-read themand compared the
original with the translation.

It is a dish choicely cooked,he saidto the palate of King
Richard, and I cannot but have my suspicions of the wily Saracen.
They are curious in the art of poisons, and can so temper them
that they shall be weeks in acting upon the party, during which
time the perpetrator has leisure to escape. They can impregnate
cloth and leather, nay, even paper and parchment, with the most
subtle venom. Our Lady forgive me! And wherefore, knowing this,
hold I these letters of credence so close to my face? Take them,
Sir Thomas--take them speedily!

Here he gave them at arm's-lengthand with some appearance of
hasteto the baron. "But comemy Lord de Vaux he continued,
wend we to the tent of this sick squirewhere we shall learn
whether this Hakim hath really the art of curing which he
professethere we consider whether there be safety in permitting
him to exercise his art upon King Richard.--Yethold! let me
first take my pouncet-boxfor these fevers spread like an
infection. I would advise you to use dried rosemary steeped in
vinegarmy lord. Itooknow something of the healing art."

I thank your reverend lordship,replied Thomas of Gilsland;
but had I been accessible to the fever, I had caught it long
since by the bed of my master.

The Bishop of Tyre blushedfor he had rather avoided the
presence of the sick monarch; and he bid the baron lead on.

As they paused before the wretched hut in which Kenneth of the
Leopard and his follower abodethe bishop said to De VauxNow,
of a surety, my lord, these Scottish Knights have worse care of
their followers than we of our dogs. Here is a knight, valiant,
they say, in battle, and thought fitting to be graced with
charges of weight in time of truce, whose esquire of the body is
lodged worse than in the worst dog-kennel in England. What say
you of your neighbours?

That a master doth well enough for his servant when he lodgeth
him in no worse dwelling than his own,said De Vauxand entered
the hut.

The bishop followednot without evident reluctance; for though
he lacked not courage in some respectsyet it was tempered with
a strong and lively regard for his own safety. He recollected
howeverthe necessity there was for judging personally of the


skill of the Arabian physicianand entered the hut with a
stateliness of manner calculatedas he thoughtto impose
respect on the stranger.

The prelate wasindeeda striking and commanding figure. In
his youth he had been eminently handsomeand even in age was
unwilling to appear less so. His episcopal dress was of the
richest fashiontrimmed with costly furand surrounded by a
cope of curious needlework. The rings on his fingers were worth
a goodly baronyand the hood which he worethough now unclasped
and thrown back for heathad studs of pure gold to fasten it
around his throat and under his chin when he so inclined. His
long beardnow silvered with agedescended over his breast.
One of two youthful acolytes who attended him created an
artificial shadepeculiar then to the Eastby bearing over his
head an umbrella of palmetto leaveswhile the other refreshed
his reverend master by agitating a fan of peacock-feathers.

When the Bishop of Tyre entered the hut of the Scottish knight
the master was absentand the Moorish physicianwhom he had
come to seesat in the very posture in which De Vaux had left
him several hours beforecross-legged upon a mat made of twisted
leavesby the side of the patientwho appeared in deep slumber
and whose pulse he felt from time to time. The bishop remained
standing before him in silence for two or three minutesas if
expecting some honourable salutationor at least that the
Saracen would seem struck with the dignity of his appearance.
But Adonbec el Hakim took no notice of him beyond a passing
glanceand when the prelate at length saluted him in the lingua
franca current in the countryhe only replied by the ordinary
Oriental greetingSALAM ALICUM--Peace be with you.

Art thou a physician, infidel?said the bishopsomewhat
mortified at this cold reception. "I would speak with thee on
that art."

If thou knewest aught of medicine,answered El Hakimthou
wouldst be aware that physicians hold no counsel or debate in the
sick chamber of their patient. Hear,he addedas the low
growling of the staghound was heard from the inner huteven the
dog might teach thee reason, Ulemat. His instinct teaches him to
suppress his barking in the sick man's hearing. Come without the
tent,said herising and leading the wayif thou hast ought
to say with me.

Notwithstanding the plainness of the Saracen leech's dressand
his inferiority of size when contrasted with the tall prelate and
gigantic English baronthere was something striking in his
manner and countenancewhich prevented the Bishop of Tyre from
expressing strongly the displeasure he felt at this unceremonious
rebuke. When without the huthe gazed upon Adonbec in silence
for several minutes before he could fix on the best manner to
renew the conversation. No locks were seen under the high bonnet
of the Arabianwhich hid also part of a brow that seemed lofty
and expandedsmoothand free from wrinklesas were his cheeks
where they were seen under the shade of his long beard. We have
elsewhere noticed the piercing quality of his dark eyes.

The prelatestruck with his apparent youthat length broke a
pausewhich the other seemed in no haste to interruptby
demanding of the Arabian how old he was?

The years of ordinary men,said the Saracenare counted by
their wrinkles; those of sages by their studies. I dare not call


myself older than a hundred revolutions of the Hegira.[Meaning
that his attainments were those which might have been made in a
hundred years.]

The Baron of Gilslandwho took this for a literal assertion that
he was a century oldlooked doubtfully upon the prelatewho
though he better understood the meaning of El Hakimanswered his
glance by mysteriously shaking his head. He resumed an air of
importance when he again authoritatively demanded what evidence
Adonbec could produce of his medical proficiency.

Ye have the word of the mighty Saladin,said the sagetouching
his cap in sign of reverence--"a word which was never broken
towards friend or foe. WhatNazarenewouldst thou demand
more?"

I would have ocular proof of thy skill,said the baronand
without it thou approachest not to the couch of King Richard.

The praise of the physician,said the Arabianis in the
recovery of his patient. Behold this sergeant, whose blood has
been dried up by the fever which has whitened your camp with
skeletons, and against which the art of your Nazarene leeches
hath been like a silken doublet against a lance of steel. Look
at his fingers and arms, wasted like the claws and shanks of the
crane. Death had this morning his clutch on him; but had Azrael
been on one side of the couch, I being on the other, his soul
should not have been left from his body. Disturb me not with
further questions, but await the critical minute, and behold in
silent wonder the marvellous event.

The physician had then recourse to his astrolabethe oracle of
Eastern scienceand watching with grave precision until the
precise time of the evening prayer had arrivedhe sunk on his
kneeswith his face turned to Meccaand recited the petitions
which close the Moslemah's day of toil. The bishop and the
English baron looked on each othermeanwhilewith symptoms of
contempt and indignationbut neither judged it fit to interrupt
El Hakim in his devotionsunholy as they considered them to be.

The Arab arose from the earthon which he had prostrated
himselfand walking into the hut where the patient lay extended
he drew a sponge from a small silver boxdipped perhaps in some
aromatic distillationfor when he put it to the sleeper's nose
he sneezedawokeand looked wildly around. He was a ghastly
spectacle as he sat up almost naked on his couchthe bones and
cartilages as visible through the surface of his skin as if they
had never been clothed with flesh. His face was longand
furrowed with wrinkles; but his eyethough it wandered at first
became gradually more settled. He seemed to be aware of the
presence of his dignified visitorsfor he attempted feebly to
pull the covering from his head in token of reverenceas he
inquiredin a subdued and submissive voicefor his master.

Do you know us, vassal?said the Lord of Gilsland.

Not perfectly, my lord,replied the squire faintly. "My sleep
has been long and full of dreams. Yet I know that you are a
great English lordas seemeth by the red crossand this a holy
prelatewhose blessing I crave on me a poor sinner."

Thou hast it--BENEDICTIO DOMINI SIT VOBISCUM,said the prelate
making the sign of the crossbut without approaching nearer to
the patient's bed.


Your eyes witness,said the Arabianthe fever hath been
subdued. He speaks with calmness and recollection--his pulse
beats composedly as yours--try its pulsations yourself.

The prelate declined the experiment; but Thomas of Gilslandmore
determined on making the trialdid soand satisfied himself
that the fever was indeed gone.

This is most wonderful,said the knightlooking to the bishop;
the man is assuredly cured. I must conduct this mediciner
presently to King Richard's tent. What thinks your reverence?

Stay, let me finish one cure ere I commence another,said the
Arab; "I will pass with you when I have given my patient the
second cup of this most holy elixir."

So saying he pulled out a silver cupand filling it with water
from a gourd which stood by the bedsidehe next drew forth a
small silken bag made of networktwisted with silverthe
contents of which the bystanders could not discoverand
immersing it in the cupcontinued to watch it in silence during
the space of five minutes. It seemed to the spectators as if
some effervescence took place during the operation; but if soit
instantly subsided.

Drink,said the physician to the sick man--"sleepand awaken
free from malady."

And with this simple-seeming draught thou wilt undertake to cure
a monarch?said the Bishop of Tyre.

I have cured a beggar, as you may behold,replied the sage.
Are the Kings of Frangistan made of other clay than the meanest
of their subjects?

Let us have him presently to the King,said the Baron of
Gilsland. "He hath shown that he possesses the secret which may
restore his health. If he fails to exercise itI will put
himself past the power of medicine."

As they were about to leave the hutthe sick manraising his
voice as much as his weakness permittedexclaimedReverend
father, noble knight, and you, kind leech, if you would have me
sleep and recover, tell me in charity what is become of my dear
master?

He is upon a distant expedition, friend,replied the prelate-"
on an honourable embassywhich may detain him for some days."

Nay,said the Baron of Gilslandwhy deceive the poor fellow?
--Friend, thy master has returned to the camp, and you will
presently see him.

The invalid held upas if in thankfulnesshis wasted hands to
Heavenand resisting no longer the soporiferous operation of the
elixirsunk down in a gentle sleep.

You are a better physician than I, Sir Thomas,said the
prelate--"a soothing falsehood is fitter for a sick-room than an
unpleasing truth."

How mean you, my reverend lord?said De Vaux hastily. "Think
you I would tell a falsehood to save the lives of a dozen such as


he?"


You said,replied the bishopwith manifest symptoms of alarm
--"you said the esquire's master was returned--heI meanof the
Couchant Leopard."


And he IS returned,said De Vaux. "I spoke with him but a few
hours since. This learned leech came in his company."


Holy Virgin! why told you not of his return to me?said the
bishopin evident perturbation.


Did I not say that this same Knight of the Leopard had returned
in company with the physician? I thought I had,replied De Vaux
carelessly. "But what signified his return to the skill of the
physicianor the cure of his Majesty?"


Much, Sir Thomas--it signified much,said the bishopclenching
his handspressing his foot against the earthand giving signs
of impatienceas if in an involuntary manner. "But where can he
be gone nowthis same knight? God be with us--here may be some
fatal errors!"


Yonder serf in the outer space,said De Vauxnot without
wonder at the bishop's emotioncan probably tell us whither his
master has gone.


The lad was summonedand in a language nearly incomprehensible
to themgave them at length to understand that an officer had
summoned his master to the royal tent some time before their
arrival at that of his master. The anxiety of the bishop
appeared to rise to the highestand became evident to De Vaux
thoughneither an acute observer nor of a suspicious temper.
But with his anxiety seemed to increase his wish to keep it
subdued and unobserved. He took a hasty leave of De Vauxwho
looked after him with astonishmentand after shrugging his
shoulders in silent wonderproceeded to conduct the Arabian
physician to the tent of King Richard.


CHAPTER IX.


This is the prince of leeches; feverplague
Cold rheumand hot podagrado but look on him
And quit their grasp upon the tortured sinews. ANONYMOUS.


The Baron of Gilsland walked with slow step and an anxious
countenance towards the royal pavilion. He had much diffidence
of his own capacityexcept in a field of battleand conscious
of no very acute intellectwas usually contented to wonder at
circumstances which a man of livelier imagination would have
endeavoured to investigate and understandor at least would have
made the subject of speculation. But it seemed very
extraordinaryeven to himthat the attention of the bishop
should have been at once abstracted from all reflection on the
marvellous cure which they had witnessedand upon the
probability it afforded of Richard being restored to healthby
what seemed a very trivial piece of information announcing the
motions of a beggardly Scottish knightthan whom Thomas of
Gilsland knew nothing within the circle of gentle blood more
unimportant or contemptible; and despite his usual habit of
passively beholding passing eventsthe baron's spirit toiled
with unwonted attempts to form conjectures on the cause.



At length the idea occurred at once to him that the whole might
be a conspiracy against King Richardformed within the camp of
the alliesand to which the bishopwho was by some represented
as a politic and unscrupulous personwas not unlikely to have
been accessory. It was true thatin his own opinionthere
existed no character so perfect as that of his master; for
Richard being the flower of chivalryand the chief of Christian
leadersand obeying in all points the commands of Holy Church
De Vaux's ideas of perfection went no further. Stillhe knew
thathowever unworthilyit had been always his master's fate to
draw as much reproach and dislike as honour and attachment from
the display of his great qualities; and that in the very camp
and amongst those princes bound by oath to the Crusadewere many
who would have sacrificed all hope of victory over the Saracens
to the pleasure of ruiningor at least of humblingRichard of
England.

Wherefore,said the baron to himselfit is in no sense
impossible that this El Hakim, with this his cure, or seeming
cure, wrought on the body of the Scottish squire, may mean
nothing but a trick, to which he of the Leopard may be accessory,
and wherein the Bishop of Tyre, prelate as he is, may have some
share.

This hypothesisindeedcould not be so easily reconciled with
the alarm manifested by the bishop on learning thatcontrary to
his expectationthe Scottish knight had suddenly returned to the
Crusaders' camp. But De Vaux was influenced only by his general
prejudiceswhich dictated to him the assured belief that a wily
Italian priesta false-hearted Scotand an infidel physician
formed a set of ingredients from which all eviland no goodwas
likely to be extracted. He resolvedhoweverto lay his
scruples bluntly before the Kingof whose judgment he had nearly
as high an opinion as of his valour.

Meantimeevents had taken place very contrary to the
suppositions which Thomas de Vaux had entertained. Scarce had he
left the royal pavilionwhenbetwixt the impatience of the
feverand that which was natural to his dispositionRichard
began to murmur at his delayand express an earnest desire for
his return. He had seen enough to try to reason himself out of
this irritationwhich greatly increased his bodily malady. He
wearied his attendants by demanding from them amusementsand the
breviary of the priestthe romance of the clerkeven the harp
of his favourite minstrelwere had recourse to in vain. At
lengthsome two hours before sundownand longthereforeere
he could expect a satisfactory account of the process of the cure
which the Moor or Arabian had undertakenhe sentas we have
already hearda messenger commanding the attendance of the
Knight of the Leoparddetermined to soothe his impatience by
obtaining from Sir Kenneth a more particular account of the cause
of his absence from the campand the circumstances of his
meeting with this celebrated physician.

The Scottish knightthus summonedentered the royal presence as
one who was no stranger to such scenes. He was scarcely known to
the King of Englandeven by sightalthoughtenacious of his
rankas devout in the adoration of the lady of his secret heart
he had never been absent on those occasions when the munificence
and hospitality of England opened the Court of its monarch to all
who held a certain rank in chivalry. The King gazed fixedly on
Sir Kenneth approaching his bedsidewhile the knight bent his
knee for a momentthen aroseand stood before him in a posture


of deferencebut not of subservience or humilityas became an
officer in the presence of his sovereign.

Thy name,said the Kingis Kenneth of the Leopard--from whom
hadst thou degree of knighthood?

I took it from the sword of William the Lion, King of Scotland,
replied the Scot.

A weapon,said the Kingwell worthy to confer honour; nor has
it been laid on an undeserving shoulder. We have seen thee bear
thyself knightly and valiantly in press of battle, when most need
there was; and thou hadst not been yet to learn that thy deserts
were known to us, but that thy presumption in other points has
been such that thy services can challenge no better reward than
that of pardon for thy transgression. What sayest thou--ha?

Kenneth attempted to speakbut was unable to express himself
distinctly; the consciousness of his too ambitious loveand the
keenfalcon glance with which Coeur de Lion seemed to penetrate
his inmost soulcombining to disconcert him.

And yet,said the Kingalthough soldiers should obey command,
and vassals be respectful towards their superiors, we might
forgive a brave knight greater offence than the keeping a simple
hound, though it were contrary to our express public ordinance.

Richard kept his eye fixed on the Scot's facebeheld and
beholdingsmiling inwardly at the relief produced by the turn he
had given to his general accusation.

So please you, my lord,said the Scotyour majesty must be
good to us poor gentlemen of Scotland in this matter. We are far
from home, scant of revenues, and cannot support ourselves as
your wealthy nobles, who have credit of the Lombards. The
Saracens shall feel our blows the harder that we eat a piece of
dried venison from time to time with our herbs and barley-cakes.

It skills not asking my leave,said Richardsince Thomas de
Vaux, who doth, like all around me, that which is fittest in his
own eyes, hath already given thee permission for hunting and
hawking.

For hunting only, and please you,said the Scot. "But if it
please your Majesty to indulge me with the privilege of hawking
alsoand you list to trust me with a falcon on fistI trust I
could supply your royal mess with some choice waterfowl."

I dread me, if thou hadst but the falcon,said the Kingthou
wouldst scarce wait for the permission. I wot well it is said
abroad that we of the line of Anjou resent offence against our
forest-laws as highly as we would do treason against our crown.
To brave and worthy men, however, we could pardon either
misdemeanour.--But enough of this. I desire to know of you, Sir
Knight, wherefore, and by whose authority, you took this recent
journey to the wilderness of the Dead Sea and Engaddi?

By order,replied the knightof the Council of Princes of the
Holy Crusade.

And how dared any one to give such an order, when I--not the
least, surely, in the league--was unacquainted with it?

It was not my part, please your highness,said the Scotto


inquire into such particulars. I am a soldier of the Cross
--serving, doubtless, for the present, under your highness's
banner, and proud of the permission to do so, but still one who
hath taken on him the holy symbol for the rights of Christianity
and the recovery of the Holy Sepulchre, and bound, therefore, to
obey without question the orders of the princes and chiefs by
whom the blessed enterprise is directed. That indisposition
should seclude, I trust for but a short time, your highness from
their councils, in which you hold so potential a voice, I must
lament with all Christendom; but, as a soldier, I must obey those
on whom the lawful right of command devolves, or set but an evil
example in the Christian camp.

Thou sayest well,said King Richard; "and the blame rests not
with theebut with those with whomwhen it shall please Heaven
to raise me from this accursed bed of pain and inactivityI hope
to reckon roundly. What was the purport of thy message"

Methinks, and please your highness,replied Sir Kenneththat
were best asked of those who sent me, and who can render the
reasons of mine errand; whereas I can only tell its outward form
and purport.

Palter not with me, Sir Scot--it were ill for thy safety,said
the irritable monarch.

My safety, my lord,replied the knight firmlyI cast behind
me as a regardless thing when I vowed myself to this enterprise,
looking rather to my immortal welfare than to that which concerns
my earthly body.

By the mass,said King Richardthou art a brave fellow! Hark
thee, Sir Knight, I love the Scottish people; they are hardy,
though dogged and stubborn, and, I think, true men in the main,
though the necessity of state has sometimes constrained them to
be dissemblers. I deserve some love at their hand, for I have
voluntarily done what they could not by arms have extorted from
me any more than from my predecessors, I have re-established the
fortresses of Roxburgh and Berwick, which lay in pledge to
England; I have restored your ancient boundaries; and, finally, I
have renounced a claim to homage upon the crown of England, which
I thought unjustly forced on you. I have endeavoured to make
honourable and independent friends, where former kings of England
attempted only to compel unwilling and rebellious vassals.

All this you have done, my Lord King,said Sir Kennethbowing
--"all this you have doneby your royal treaty with our
sovereign at Canterbury. Therefore have you meand many better
Scottish menmaking war against the infidelsunder your
bannerswho would else have been ravaging your frontiers in
England. If their numbers are now fewit is because their lives
have been freely waged and wasted."

I grant it true,said the King; "and for the good offices I
have done your land I require you to remember thatas a
principal member of the Christian leagueI have a right to know
the negotiations of my confederates. Do methereforethe
justice to tell me what I have a title to be acquainted withand
which I am certain to know more truly from you than from others."

My lord,said the Scotthus conjured, I will speak the truth;
for I well believe that your purposes towards the principal
object of our expedition are single-hearted and honest, and it is
more than I dare warrant for others of the Holy League. Be


pleased, therefore, to know my charge was to propose, through the
medium of the hermit of Engaddi--a holy man, respected and
protected by Saladin himself--

A continuation of the truce, I doubt not,said Richardhastily
interrupting him.

No, by Saint Andrew, my liege,said the Scottish knight; "but
the establishment of a lasting peaceand the withdrawing our
armies from Palestine."

Saint George!said Richardin astonishment. "Ill as I have
justly thought of themI could not have dreamed they would have
humbled themselves to such dishonour. SpeakSir Kennethwith
what will did you carry such a message?"

With right good will, my lord,said Kenneth; "becausewhen we
had lost our noble leaderunder whose guidance alone I hoped for
victoryI saw none who could succeed him likely to lead us to
conquestand I accounted it well in such circumstances to avoid
defeat."

And on what conditions was this hopeful peace to be contracted?
said King Richardpainfully suppressing the passion with which
his heart was almost bursting.

These were not entrusted to me, my lord,answered the Knight of
the Couchant Leopard. "I delivered them sealed to the hermit."

And for what hold you this reverend hermit--for fool, madman,
traitor, or saint?said Richard.

His folly, sire,replied the shrewd Scottish manI hold to be
assumed to win favour and reverence from the Paynimrie, who
regard madmen as the inspired of Heaven--at least it seemed to me
as exhibited only occasionally, and not as mixing, like natural
folly, with the general tenor of his mind.

Shrewdly replied,said the monarchthrowing himself back on
his couchfrom which he had half-raised himself. "Now of his
penitence?"

His penitence,continued Kennethappears to me sincere, and
the fruits of remorse for some dreadful crime, for which he
seems, in his own opinion, condemned to reprobation.

And for his policy?said King Richard.

Methinks, my lord,said the Scottish knighthe despairs of
the security of Palestine, as of his own salvation, by any means
short of a miracle--at least, since the arm of Richard of England
hath ceased to strike for it.

And, therefore, the coward policy of this hermit is like that of
these miserable princes, who, forgetful of their knighthood and
their faith, are only resolved and determined when the question
is retreat, and rather than go forward against an armed Saracen,
would trample in their flight over a dying ally!

Might I so far presume, my Lord King,said the Scottish knight
this discourse but heats your disease, the enemy from which
Christendom dreads more evil than from armed hosts of infidels.

The countenance of King Richard wasindeedmore flushedand


his action became more feverishly vehementaswith clenched
handextended armand flashing eyeshe seemed at once to
suffer under bodily painand at the same time under vexation of
mindwhile his high spirit led him to speak onas if in
contempt of both.

You can flatter, Sir Knight,he saidbut you escape me not.
I must know more from you than you have yet told me. Saw you my
royal consort when at Engaddi?

To my knowledge--no, my lord,replied Sir Kennethwith
considerable perturbationfor he remembered the midnight
procession in the chapel of the rocks.

I ask you,said the Kingin a sterner voice whether you were
not in the chapel of the Carmelite nuns at Engaddi, and there saw
Berengaria, Queen of England, and the ladies of her Court, who
went thither on pilgrimage?

My lord,said Sir KennethI will speak the truth as in the
confessional. In a subterranean chapel, to which the anchorite
conducted me, I beheld a choir of ladies do homage to a relic of
the highest sanctity; but as I saw not their faces, nor heard
their voices, unless in the hymns which they chanted, I cannot
tell whether the Queen of England was of the bevy.

And was there no one of these ladies known to you?

Sir Kenneth stood silent.

I ask you,said Richardraising himself on his elbowas a
knight and a gentleman--and I shall know by your answer how you
value either character--did you, or did you not, know any lady
amongst that band of worshippers?

My lord,said Kennethnot without much hesitationI might
guess.

And I also may guess,said the Kingfrowning sternly; "but it
is enough. Leopard as you areSir Knightbeware tempting the
lion's paw. Hark ye--to become enamoured of the moon would be
but an act of folly; but to leap from the battlements of a lofty
towerin the wild hope of coming within her spherewere self-destructive madness."

At this moment some bustling was heard in the outer apartment
and the Kinghastily changing to his more natural mannersaid
Enough--begone--speed to De Vaux, and send him hither with the
Arabian physician. My life for the faith of the Soldan! Would
he but abjure his false law, I would aid him with my sword to
drive this scum of French and Austrians from his dominions, and
think Palestine as well ruled by him as when her kings were
anointed by the decree of Heaven itself.

The Knight of the Leopard retiredand presently afterwards the
chamberlain announced a deputation from the Councilwho had come
to wait on the Majesty of England.

It is well they allow that I am living yet,was his reply.
Who are the reverend ambassadors?

The Grand Master of the Templars and the Marquis of Montserrat.

Our brother of France loves not sick-beds,said Richard; "yet
had Philip been illI had stood by his couch long since.


--Jocelynlay me the couch more fairly--it is tumbled like a
stormy sea. Reach me yonder steel mirror--pass a comb through my
hair and beard. They lookindeedliker a lion's mane than a
Christian man's locks. Bring water."

My lord,said the trembling chamberlainthe leeches say that
cold water may be fatal.

To the foul fiend with the leeches!replied the monarch; "if
they cannot cure methink you I will allow them to torment me?
--Therethen he said, after having made his ablutions, admit
the worshipful envoys; they will nowI thinkscarcely see that
disease has made Richard negligent of his person."

The celebrated Master of the Templars was a tallthinwar-worn
manwith a slow yet penetrating eyeand a brow on which a
thousand dark intrigues had stamped a portion of their obscurity.
At the head of that singular bodyto whom their order was
everythingand their individuality nothing--seeking the
advancement of its powereven at the hazard of that very
religion which the fraternity were originally associated to
protect--accused of heresy and witchcraftalthough by their
character Christian priests--suspected of secret league with the
Soldanthough by oath devoted to the protection of the Holy
Templeor its recovery--the whole orderand the whole personal
character of its commanderor Grand Masterwas a riddleat the
exposition of which most men shuddered. The Grand Master was
dressed in his white robes of solemnityand he bore the ABACUS
a mystic staff of officethe peculiar form of which has given
rise to such singular conjectures and commentariesleading to
suspicions that this celebrated fraternity of Christian knights
were embodied under the foulest symbols of paganism.

Conrade of Montserrat had a much more pleasing exterior than the
dark and mysterious priest-soldier by whom he was accompanied.
He was a handsome manof middle ageor something past that
termbold in the fieldsagacious in councilgay and gallant in
times of festivity; buton the other handhe was generally
accused of versatilityof a narrow and selfish ambitionof a
desire to extend his own principalitywithout regard to the weal
of the Latin kingdom of Palestineand of seeking his own
interestby private negotiations with Saladinto the prejudice
of the Christian leaguers.

When the usual salutations had been made by these dignitaries
and courteously returned by King Richardthe Marquis of
Montserrat commenced an explanation of the motives of their
visitsentas he said they wereby the anxious kings and
princes who composed the Council of the Crusadersto inquire
into the health of their magnanimous ally, the valiant King of
England.

We know the importance in which the princes of the Council hold
our health,replied the English King; "and are well aware how
much they must have suffered by suppressing all curiosity
concerning it for fourteen daysfor feardoubtlessof
aggravating our disorderby showing their anxiety regarding the
event."

The flow of the Marquis's eloquence being checkedand he himself
thrown into some confusion by this replyhis more austere
companion took up the thread of the conversationand with as
much dry and brief gravity as was consistent with the presence
which he addressedinformed the King that they came from the


Councilto prayin the name of Christendomthat he would not
suffer his health to be tampered with by an infidel physician,
said to be dispatched by Saladin, until the Council had taken
measures to remove or confirm the suspicion which they at present
conceived did attach itself to the mission of such a person.

Grand Master of the Holy and Valiant Order of Knights Templars,
and you, most noble Marquis of Montserrat,replied Richardif
it please you to retire into the adjoining pavilion, you shall
presently see what account we make of the tender remonstrances of
our royal and princely colleagues in this religious warfare.

The Marquis and Grand Master retired accordingly; nor had they
been many minutes in the outward pavilion when the Eastern
physician arrivedaccompanied by the Baron of Gilsland and
Kenneth of Scotland. The baronhoweverwas a little later of
entering the tent than the other twostoppingperchanceto
issue some orders to the warders without.

As the Arabian physician enteredhe made his obeisanceafter
the Oriental fashionto the Marquis and Grand Masterwhose
dignity was apparentboth from their appearance and their
bearing. The Grand Master returned the salutation with an
expression of disdainful coldnessthe Marquis with the popular
courtesy which he habitually practised to men of every rank and
nation. There was a pausefor the Scottish knightwaiting for
the arrival of De Vauxpresumed notof his own authorityto
enter the tent of the King of England; and during this interval
the Grand Master sternly demanded of the MoslemInfidel, hast
thou the courage to practise thine art upon the person of an
anointed sovereign of the Christian host?

The sun of Allah,answered the sageshines on the Nazarene as
well as on the true believer, and His servant dare make no
distinction betwixt them when called on to exercise the art of
healing.

Misbelieving Hakim,said the Grand Masteror whatsoever they
call thee for an unbaptized slave of darkness, dost thou well
know that thou shalt be torn asunder by wild horses should King
Richard die under thy charge?

That were hard justice,answered the physicianseeing that I
can but use human means, and that the issue is written in the
book of light.

Nay, reverend and valiant Grand Master,said the Marquis of
Montserratconsider that this learned man is not acquainted
with our Christian order, adopted in the fear of God, and for the
safety of His anointed.--Be it known to thee, grave physician,
whose skill we doubt not, that your wisest course is to repair to
the presence of the illustrious Council of our Holy League, and
there to give account and reckoning to such wise and learned
leeches as they shall nominate, concerning your means of process
and cure of this illustrious patient; so shall you escape all the
danger which, rashly taking such a high matter upon your sole
answer, you may else most likely incur.

My lords,said El HakimI understand you well. But knowledge
hath its champions as well as your military art--nay, hath
sometimes had its martyrs as well as religion. I have the
command of my sovereign, the Soldan Saladin, to heal this
Nazarene King, and, with the blessing of the Prophet, I will obey
his commands. If I fail, ye wear swords thirsting for the blood


of the faithful, and I proffer my body to your weapons. But I
will not reason with one uncircumcised upon the virtue of the
medicines of which I have obtained knowledge through the grace of
the Prophet, and I pray you interpose no delay between me and my
office.

Who talks of delay?said the Baron de Vauxhastily entering
the tent; "we have had but too much already. I salute youmy
Lord of Montserratand youvaliant Grand Master. But I must
presently pass with this learned physician to the bedside of my
master."

My lord,said the Marquisin Norman-Frenchor the language of
Ouieas it was then calledare you well advised that we came
to expostulate, on the part of the Council of the Monarchs and
Princes of the Crusade, against the risk of permitting an infidel
and Eastern physician to tamper with a health so valuable as that
of your master, King Richard?

Noble Lord Marquis,replied the Englishman bluntlyI can
neither use many words, nor do I delight in listening to them;
moreover, I am much more ready to believe what my eyes have seen
than what my ears have heard. I am satisfied that this heathen
can cure the sickness of King Richard, and I believe and trust he
will labour to do so. Time is precious. If Mohammed--may God's
curse be on him! stood at the door of the tent, with such fair
purpose as this Adonbec el Hakim entertains, I would hold it sin
to delay him for a minute. So, give ye God'en, my lords.

Nay, but,said Conrade of Montserratthe King himself said we
should be present when this same physician dealt upon him.

The baron whispered the chamberlainprobably to know whether the
Marquis spoke trulyand then repliedMy lords, if you will
hold your patience, you are welcome to enter with us; but if you
interrupt, by action or threat, this accomplished physician in
his duty, be it known that, without respect to your high quality,
I will enforce your absence from Richard's tent; for know, I am
so well satisfied of the virtue of this man's medicines, that
were Richard himself to refuse them, by our Lady of Lanercost, I
think I could find in my heart to force him to take the means of
his cure whether he would or no.--Move onward, El Hakim.

The last word was spoken in the lingua francaand instantly
obeyed by the physician. The Grand Master looked grimly on the
unceremonious old soldierbuton exchanging a glance with the
Marquissmoothed his frowning brow as well as he couldand both
followed De Vaux and the Arabian into the inner tentwhere
Richard lay expecting themwith that impatience with which the
sick man watches the step of his physician. Sir Kennethwhose
attendance seemed neither asked nor prohibitedfelt himselfby
the circumstances in which he stoodentitled to follow these
high dignitaries; butconscious of his inferior power and rank
remained aloof during the scene which took place.

Richardwhen they entered his apartmentimmediately exclaimed
So ho! a goodly fellowship come to see Richard take his leap in
the dark. My noble allies, I greet you as the representatives of
our assembled league; Richard will again be amongst you in his
former fashion, or ye shall bear to the grave what is left of
him.--De Vaux, lives he or dies he, thou hast the thanks of thy
prince. There is yet another--but this fever hath wasted my
eyesight. What, the bold Scot, who would climb heaven without a
ladder! He is welcome too.--Come, Sir Hakim, to the work, to the


work!


The physicianwho had already informed himself of the various
symptoms of the King's illnessnow felt his pulse for a long
timeand with deep attentionwhile all around stood silentand
in breathless expectation. The sage next filled a cup with
spring waterand dipped into it the small red pursewhichas
formerlyhe took from his bosom. When he seemed to think it
sufficiently medicatedhe was about to offer it to the
sovereignwho prevented him by sayingHold an instant. Thou
hast felt my pulse--let me lay my finger on thine. I too, as
becomes a good knight, know something of thine art.


The Arabian yielded his hand without hesitationand his long
slender dark fingers were for an instant enclosedand almost
buriedin the large enfoldment of King Richard's hand.


His blood beats calm as an infant's,said the King; "so throbs
not theirs who poison princes. De Vauxwhether we live or die
dismiss this Hakim with honour and safety.--Commend usfriend
to the noble Saladin. Should I dieit is without doubt of his
faith; should I liveit will be to thank him as a warrior would
desire to be thanked."


He then raised himself in bedtook the cup in his handand
turning to the Marquis and the Grand Master--"Mark what I say
and let my royal brethren pledge me in Cyprus wine'To the
immortal honour of the first Crusader who shall strike lance or
sword on the gate of Jerusalem; and to the shame and eternal
infamy of whomsoever shall turn back from the plough on which he
hath laid his hand!'"


He drained the cup to the bottomresigned it to the Arabianand
sunk backas if exhaustedupon the cushions which were arranged
to receive him. The physician thenwith silent but expressive
signsdirected that all should leave the tent excepting himself
and De Vauxwhom no remonstrance could induce to withdraw. The
apartment was cleared accordingly.


CHAPTER X.


And now I will unclasp a secret book
Andto your quick-conceiving discontent
I'll read you matter deep and dangerous. HENRY IV.PART I.


The Marquis of Montserrat and the Grand Master of the Knights
Templars stood together in the front of the royal pavilion
within which this singular scene had passedand beheld a strong
guard of bills and bows drawn out to form a circle around itand
keep at distance all which might disturb the sleeping monarch.
The soldiers wore the downcastsilentand sullen looks with
which they trail their arms at a funeraland stepped with such
caution that you could not hear a buckler ring or a sword
clatterthough so many men in armour were moving around the
tent. They lowered their weapons in deep reverence as the
dignitaries passed through their filesbut with the same
profound silence.


There is a change of cheer among these island dogs,said the
Grand Master to Conradewhen they had passed Richard's guards.
What hoarse tumult and revel used to be before this pavilion!
--nought but pitching the bar, hurling the ball, wrestling,



roaring of songs, clattering of wine pots, and quaffing of
flagons among these burly yeomen, as if they were holding some
country wake, with a Maypole in the midst of them instead of a
royal standard.

Mastiffs are a faithful race,said Conrade; "and the King their
Master has won their love by being ready to wrestlebrawlor
revel amongst the foremost of themwhenever the humour seized
him."

He is totally compounded of humours,said the Grand Master.
Marked you the pledge he gave us! instead of a prayer, over his
grace-cup yonder.

He would have felt it a grace-cup, and a well-spiced one too,
said the Marquiswere Saladin like any other Turk that ever
wore turban, or turned him to Mecca at call of the muezzin. But
he affects faith, and honour, and generosity, as if it were for
an unbaptized dog like him to practise the virtuous bearing of a
Christian knight. It is said he hath applied to Richard to be
admitted within the pale of chivalry.

By Saint Bernard!exclaimed the Grand Masterit were time
then to throw off our belts and spurs, Sir Conrade, deface our
armorial bearings, and renounce our burgonets, if the highest
honour of Christianity were conferred on an unchristened Turk of
tenpence.

You rate the Soldan cheap,replied the Marquis; "yet though he
be a likely manI have seen a better heathen sold for forty
pence at the bagnio."

They were now near their horseswhich stood at some distance
from the royal tentprancing among the gallant train of esquires
and pages by whom they were attendedwhen Conradeafter a
moment's pauseproposed that they should enjoy the coolness of
the evening breeze which had arisenanddismissing their steeds
and attendantswalk homewards to their own quarters through the
lines of the extended Christian camp. The Grand Master assented
and they proceeded to walk together accordinglyavoidingas if
by mutual consentthe more inhabited parts of the canvas city
and tracing the broad esplanade which lay between the tents and
the external defenceswhere they could converse in privateand
unmarkedsave by the sentinels as they passed them.

They spoke for a time upon the military points and preparations
for defence; but this sort of discoursein which neither seemed
to take interestat length died awayand there was a long
pausewhich terminated by the Marquis of Montserrat stopping
shortlike a man who has formed a sudden resolutionand gazing
for some moments on the darkinflexible countenance of the Grand
Masterhe at length addressed him thus: "Might it consist with
your valour and sanctityreverend Sir Giles AmauryI would pray
you for once to lay aside the dark visor which you wearand to
converse with a friend barefaced."

The Templar half smiled.

There are light-coloured masks,he saidas well as dark
visors, and the one conceals the natural features as completely
as the other.

Be it so,said the Marquisputting his hand to his chinand
withdrawing it with the action of one who unmasks himself; "there


lies my disguise. And nowwhat think youas touching the
interests of your own orderof the prospects of this Crusade?"

This is tearing the veil from my thoughts rather than exposing
your own,said the Grand Master; "yet I will reply with a
parable told to me by a santon of the desert. 'A certain farmer
prayed to Heaven for rainand murmured when it fell not at his
need. To punish his impatienceAllah' said the santon'sent
the Euphrates upon his farmand he was destroyedwith all his
possessionseven by the granting of his own wishes.'"

Most truly spoken,said the Marquis Conrade. "Would that the
ocean had swallowed up nineteen parts of the armaments of these
Western princes! What remained would better have served the
purpose of the Christian nobles of Palestinethe wretched
remnant of the Latin kingdom of Jerusalem. Left to ourselveswe
might have bent to the storm; ormoderately supported with money
and troopswe might have compelled Saladin to respect our
valourand grant us peace and protection on easy terms. But
from the extremity of danger with which this powerful Crusade
threatens the Soldanwe cannot supposeshould it pass over
that the Saracen will suffer any one of us to hold possessions or
principalities in Syriafar less permit the existence of the
Christian military fraternitiesfrom whom they have experienced
so much mischief."

Ay, but,said the Templarthese adventurous Crusaders may
succeed, and again plant the Cross on the bulwarks of Zion.

And what will that advantage either the Order of the Templars,
or Conrade of Montserrat?said the Marquis.

You it may advantage,replied the Grand Master. "Conrade of
Montserrat might become Conrade King of Jerusalem."

That sounds like something,said the Marquisand yet it rings
but hollow. Godfrey of Bouillon might well choose the crown of
thorns for his emblem. Grand Master, I will confess to you I
have caught some attachment to the Eastern form of government--a
pure and simple monarchy should consist but of king and subjects.
Such is the simple and primitive structure--a shepherd and his
flock. All this internal chain of feudal dependance is
artificial and sophisticated; and I would rather hold the baton
of my poor marquisate with a firm gripe, and wield it after my
pleasure, than the sceptre of a monarch, to be in effect
restrained and curbed by the will of as many proud feudal barons
as hold land under the Assizes of Jerusalem. [The Assises de
Jerusalem were the digest of feudal law, composed by Godfrey of
Boulogne, for the government of the Latin kingdom of Palestine,
when reconquered from the Saracens. It was composed with advice
of the patriarch and baronsthe clergy and laityand is says
the historian Gibbon, a precious monument of feudatory
jurisprudencefounded upon those principles of freedom which
were essential to the system."] A king should tread freely
Grand Masterand should not be controlled by here a ditchand
there a fence-here a feudal privilegeand there a mail-clad
baron with his sword in his hand to maintain it. To sum the
wholeI am aware that Guy de Lusignan's claims to the throne
would be preferred to mineif Richard recoversand has aught to
say in the choice."

Enough,said the Grand Master; "thou hast indeed convinced me
of thy sincerity. Others may hold the same opinionsbut few
save Conrade of Montserratdared frankly avow that he desires


not the restitution of the kingdom of Jerusalembut rather
prefers being master of a portion of its fragments--like the
barbarous islanderswho labour not for the deliverance of a
goodly vessel from the billowsexpecting rather to enrich
themselves at the expense of the wreck."

Thou wilt not betray my counsel?said Conradelooking sharply
and suspiciously. "Knowfor certainthat my tongue shall never
wrong my headnor my hand forsake the defence of either.
Impeach me if thou wilt--I am prepared to defend myself in the
lists against the best Templar who ever laid lance in rest."

Yet thou start'st somewhat suddenly for so bold a steed,said
the Grand Master. "HoweverI swear to thee by the Holy Temple
which our Order is sworn to defendthat I will keep counsel with
thee as a true comrade."

By which Temple?said the Marquis of Montserratwhose love of
sarcasm often outran his policy and discretion; "swearest thou by
that on the hill of Zionwhich was built by King Solomonor by
that symbolicalemblematical edificewhich is said to be spoken
of in the councils held in the vaults of your Preceptoriesas
something which infers the aggrandizement of thy valiant and
venerable Order?"

The Templar scowled upon him with an eye of deathbut answered
calmlyBy whatever Temple I swear, be assured, Lord Marquis,
my oath is sacred. I would I knew how to bind THEE by one of
equal obligation.

I will swear truth to thee,said the Marquislaughingby the
earl's coronet, which I hope to convert, ere these wars are over,
into something better. It feels cold on my brow, that same
slight coronal; a duke's cap of maintenance were a better
protection against such a night-breeze as now blows, and a king's
crown more preferable still, being lined with comfortable ermine
and velvet. In a word, our interests bind us together; for think
not, Lord Grand Master, that, were these allied princes to regain
Jerusalem, and place a king of their own choosing there, they
would suffer your Order, any more than my poor marquisate, to
retain the independence which we now hold. No, by Our Lady! In
such case, the proud Knights of Saint John must again spread
plasters and dress plague sores in the hospitals; and you, most
puissant and venerable Knights of the Temple, must return to your
condition of simple men-at-arms, sleep three on a pallet, and
mount two upon one horse, as your present seal still expresses to
have been your ancient most simple custom.

The rank, privileges, and opulence of our Order prevent so much
degradation as you threaten,said the Templar haughtily.

These are your bane,said Conrade of Montserrat; "and youas
well as Ireverend Grand Masterknow thatwere the allied
princes to be successful in Palestineit would be their first
point of policy to abate the independence of your Orderwhich
but for the protection of our holy father the Popeand the
necessity of employing your valour in the conquest of Palestine
you would long since have experienced. Give them complete
successand you will be flung asideas the splinters of a
broken lance are tossed out of the tilt-yard."

There may be truth in what you say,said the Templardarkly
smiling. "But what were our hopes should the allies withdraw
their forcesand leave Palestine in the grasp of Saladin?"


Great and assured,replied Conrade. "The Soldan would give
large provinces to maintain at his behest a body of well-appointed Frankish lances. In Egyptin Persiaa
hundred such
auxiliariesjoined to his own light cavalrywould turn the
battle against the most fearful odds. This dependence would be
but for a time--perhaps during the life of this enterprising
Soldan; but in the East empires arise like mushrooms. Suppose
him deadand us strengthened with a constant succession of fiery
and adventurous spirits from Europewhat might we not hope to
achieveuncontrolled by these monarchswhose dignity throws us
at present into the shade--andwere they to remain hereand
succeed in this expeditionwould willingly consign us for ever
to degradation and dependence?"

You say well, my Lord Marquis,said the Grand Masterand your
words find an echo in my bosom. Yet must we be cautious--Philip
of France is wise as well as valiant.

True, and will be therefore the more easily diverted from an
expedition to which, in a moment of enthusiasm, or urged by his
nobles, he rashly bound himself. He is jealous of King Richard,
his natural enemy, and longs to return to prosecute plans of
ambition nearer to Paris than Palestine. Any fair pretence will
serve him for withdrawing from a scene in which he is aware he is
wasting the force of his kingdom.

And the Duke of Austria?said the Templar.

Oh, touching the Duke,returned Conradehis self-conceit and
folly lead him to the same conclusions as do Philip's policy and
wisdom. He conceives himself, God help the while, ungratefully
treated, because men's mouths--even those of his own MINNE-SINGERS [The German minstrels were so
termed.]--are filled with
the praises of King Richard, whom he fears and hates, and in
whose harm he would rejoice, like those unbred, dastardly curs,
who, if the foremost of the pack is hurt by the gripe of the
wolf, are much more likely to assail the sufferer from behind
than to come to his assistance. But wherefore tell I this to
thee, save to show that I am in sincerity in desiring that this
league be broken up, and the country freed of these great
monarchs with their hosts? And thou well knowest, and hast
thyself seen, how all the princes of influence and power, one
alone excepted, are eager to enter into treaty with the Soldan.

I acknowledge it,said the Templar; "he were blind that had not
seen this in their last deliberations. But lift yet thy mask an
inch higherand tell me thy real reason for pressing upon the
Council that Northern Englishmanor Scotor whatever you call
yonder Knight of the Leopardto carry their proposals for a
treaty?"

There was a policy in it,replied the Italian. "His character
of native of Britain was sufficient to meet what Saladin
requiredwho knew him to belong to the band of Richard; while
his character of Scotand certain other personal grudges which I
wot ofrendered it most unlikely that our envoy shouldon his
returnhold any communication with the sick-bed of Richardto
whom his presence was ever unacceptable."

Oh, too finespun policy,said the Grand Master; "trust methat
Italian spiders' webs will never bind this unshorn Samson of the
Isle--well if you can do it with new cordsand those of the
toughest. See you not that the envoy whom you have selected so


carefully hath brought usin this physicianthe means of
restoring the lion-heartedbull-necked Englishman to prosecute
his Crusading enterprise. And so soon as he is able once more to
rush onwhich of the princes dare hold back? They must follow
him for very shamealthough they would march under the banner of
Satan as soon."

Be content,said Conrade of Montserrat; "ere this physicianif
he work by anything short of miraculous agencycan accomplish
Richard's cureit may be possible to put some open rupture
betwixt the Frenchman--at least the Austrian--and his allies of
Englandso that the breach shall be irreconcilable; and Richard
may arise from his bedperhaps to command his own native troops
but never againby his sole energyto wield the force of the
whole Crusade."

Thou art a willing archer,said the Templar; "butConrade of
Montserratthy bow is over-slack to carry an arrow to the mark."

He then stopped shortcast a suspicious glance to see that no
one overheard himand taking Conrade by the handpressed it
eagerly as he looked the Italian in the faceand repeated
slowlyRichard arise from his bed, sayest thou? Conrade, he
must never arise!

The Marquis of Montserrat started. "What! spoke you of Richard
of England--of Coeur de Lion--the champion of Christendom?"

His cheek turned pale and his knees trembled as he spoke. The
Templar looked at himwith his iron visage contorted into a
smile of contempt.

Knowest thou what thou look'st like, Sir Conrade, at this
moment? Not like the politic and valiant Marquis of Montserrat,
not like him who would direct the Council of Princes and
determine the fate of empires--but like a novice, who, stumbling
upon a conjuration in his master's book of gramarye, has raised
the devil when he least thought of it, and now stands terrified
at the spirit which appears before him.

I grant you,said Conraderecovering himselfthat--unless
some other sure road could be discovered--thou hast hinted at
that which leads most direct to our purpose. But, blessed Mary!
we shall become the curse of all Europe, the malediction of every
one, from the Pope on his throne to the very beggar at the church
gate, who, ragged and leprous, in the last extremity of human
wretchedness, shall bless himself that he is neither Giles Amaury
nor Conrade of Montserrat.

If thou takest it thus,said the Grand Masterwith the same
composure which characterized him all through this remarkable
dialoguelet us hold there has nothing passed between us--that
we have spoken in our sleep--have awakened, and the vision is
gone.

It never can depart,answered Conrade.

Visions of ducal crowns and kingly diadems are, indeed, somewhat
tenacious of their place in the imagination,replied the Grand
Master.

Well,answered Conradelet me but first try to break peace
between Austria and England.


They parted. Conrade remained standing still upon the spotand
watching the flowing white cloak of the Templar as he stalked
slowly awayand gradually disappeared amid the fast-sinking
darkness of the Oriental night. Proudambitiousunscrupulous
and politicthe Marquis of Montserrat was yet not cruel by
nature. He was a voluptuary and an epicureanandlike many who
profess this characterwas averseeven upon selfish motives
from inflicting pain or witnessing acts of cruelty; and he
retained also a general sense of respect for his own reputation
which sometimes supplies the want of the better principle by
which reputation is to be maintained.

I have,he saidas his eyes still watched the point at which
he had seen the last slight wave of the Templar's mantle--"I
havein truthraised the devil with a vengeance! Who would
have thought this sternascetic Grand Masterwhose whole
fortune and misfortune is merged in that of his orderwould be
willing to do more for its advancement than I who labour for my
own interest? To check this wild Crusade was my motiveindeed
but I durst not think on the ready mode which this determined
priest has dared to suggest. Yet it is the surest--perhaps even
the safest."

Such were the Marquis's meditationswhen his muttered soliloquy
was broken by a voice from a little distancewhich proclaimed
with the emphatic tone of a heraldRemember the Holy
Sepulchre!

The exhortation was echoed from post to postfor it was the duty
of the sentinels to raise this cry from time to time upon their
periodical watchthat the host of the Crusaders might always
have in their remembrance the purpose of their being in arms.
But though Conrade was familiar with the customand had heard
the warning voice on all former occasions as a matter of habit
yet it came at the present moment so strongly in contact with his
own train of thoughtthat it seemed a voice from Heaven warning
him against the iniquity which his heart meditated. He looked
around anxiouslyas iflike the patriarch of oldthough from
very different circumstanceshe was expecting some ram caught in
a thicket some substitution for the sacrifice which his comrade
proposed to offernot to the Supreme Beingbut to the Moloch of
their own ambition. As he lookedthe broad folds of the ensign
of Englandheavily distending itself to the failing night-breezecaught his eye. It was displayed upon an
artificial
moundnearly in the midst of the campwhich perhaps of old some
Hebrew chief or champion had chosen as a memorial of his place of
rest. If sothe name was now forgottenand the Crusaders had
christened it Saint George's Mountbecause from that commanding
height the banner of England was supereminently displayedas if
an emblem of sovereignty over the many distinguishednobleand
even royal ensignswhich floated in lower situations.

A quick intellect like that of Conrade catches ideas from the
glance of a moment. A single look on the standard seemed to
dispel the uncertainty of mind which had affected him. He walked
to his pavilion with the hasty and determined step of one who has
adopted a plan which he is resolved to achievedismissed the
almost princely train who waited to attend himandas he
committed himself to his couchmuttered his amended resolution
that the milder means are to be tried before the more desperate
are resorted to.

To-morrow,he saidI sit at the board of the Archduke of
Austria. We will see what can be done to advance our purpose


before prosecuting the dark suggestions of this Templar.

CHAPTER XI.

One thing is certain in our Northern land--
Allow that birth or valourwealth or wit
Give each precedence to their possessor
Envythat follows on such eminence
As comes the lyme-hound on the roebuck's trace
Shall pull them down each one. SIR DAVID LINDSAY.


LeopoldGrand Duke of Austriawas the first possessor of that
noble country to whom the princely rank belonged. He had been
raised to the ducal sway in the German Empire on account of his
near relationship to the EmperorHenry the Sternand held under
his government the finest provinces which are watered by the
Danube. His character has been stained in history on account of
one action of violence and perfidywhich arose out of these very
transactions in the Holy Land; and yet the shame of having made
Richard a prisoner when he returned through his dominions;
unattended and in disguisewas not one which flowed from
Leopold's natural disposition. He was rather a weak and a vain
than an ambitious or tyrannical prince. His mental powers
resembled the qualities of his person. He was tallstrongand
handsomewith a complexion in which red and white were strongly
contrastedand had long flowing locks of fair hair. But there
was an awkwardness in his gait which seemed as if his size was
not animated by energy sufficient to put in motion such a mass;
and in the same mannerwearing the richest dressesit always
seemed as if they became him not. As a princehe appeared too
little familiar with his own dignity; and being often at a loss
how to assert his authority when the occasion demanded ithe
frequently thought himself obliged to recoverby acts and
expressions of ill-timed violencethe ground which might have
been easily and gracefully maintained by a little more presence
of mind in the beginning of the controversy.


Not only were these deficiencies visible to othersbut the
Archduke himself could not but sometimes entertain a painful
consciousness that he was not altogether fit to maintain and
assert the high rank which he had acquired; and to this was
joined the strongand sometimes the justsuspicion that others
esteemed him lightly accordingly.


When he first joined the Crusadewith a most princely
attendanceLeopold had desired much to enjoy the friendship and
intimacy of Richardand had made such advances towards
cultivating his regard as the King of England oughtin policy
to have received and answered. But the Archdukethough not
deficient in braverywas so infinitely inferior to Coeur de Lion
in that ardour of mind which wooed danger as a bridethat the
King very soon held him in a certain degree of contempt.
Richardalsoas a Norman princea people with whom temperance
was habitualdespised the inclination of the German for the
pleasures of the tableand particularly his liberal indulgence
in the use of wine. For theseand other personal reasonsthe
King of England very soon looked upon the Austrian Prince with
feelings of contemptwhich he was at no pains to conceal or
modifyand whichthereforewere speedily remarkedand
returned with deep hatredby the suspicious Leopold. The
discord between them was fanned by the secret and politic arts of
Philip of Franceone of the most sagacious monarchs of the time



whodreading the fiery and overbearing character of Richard
considering him as his natural rivaland feeling offended
moreoverat the dictatorial manner in which hea vassal of
France for his Continental domainsconducted himself towards his
liege lordendeavoured to strengthen his own partyand weaken
that of Richardby uniting the Crusading princes of inferior
degree in resistance to what he termed the usurping authority of
the King of England. Such was the state of politics and opinions
entertained by the Archduke of Austriawhen Conrade of
Montserrat resolved upon employing his jealousy of England as the
means of dissolvingor loosening at leastthe league of the
Crusaders.

The time which he chose for his visit was noon; and the pretence
to present the Archduke with some choice Cyprus wine which had
lately fallen into his handsand discuss its comparative merits
with those of Hungary and of the Rhine. An intimation of his
purpose wasof courseanswered by a courteous invitation to
partake of the Archducal mealand every effort was used to
render it fitting the splendour of a sovereign prince. Yet the
refined taste of the Italian saw more cumbrous profusion than
elegance or splendour in the display of provisions under which
the board groaned.

The Germansthough still possessing the martial and frank
character of their ancestors--who subdued the Roman Empire--had
retained withal no slight tinge of their barbarism. The
practices and principles of chivalry were not carried to such a
nice pitch amongst them as amongst the French and English
knightsnor were they strict observers of the prescribed rules
of societywhich among those nations were supposed to express
the height of civilization. Sitting at the table of the
ArchdukeConrade was at once stunned and amused with the clang
of Teutonic sounds assaulting his ears on all sides
notwithstanding the solemnity of a princely banquet. Their dress
seemed equally fantastic to himmany of the Austrian nobles
retaining their long beardsand almost all of them wearing short
jerkins of various colourscutand flourishedand fringed in a
manner not common in Western Europe.

Numbers of dependantsold and youngattended in the pavilion
mingled at times in the conversationreceived from their masters
the relics of the entertainmentand devoured them as they stood
behind the backs of the company. Jestersdwarfsand minstrels
were there in unusual numbersand more noisy and intrusive than
they were permitted to be in better regulated society. As they
were allowed to share freely in the winewhich flowed round in
large quantitiestheir licensed tumult was the more excessive.

All this whileand in the midst of a clamour and confusion which
would better have become a German tavern during a fair than the
tent of a sovereign princethe Archduke was waited upon with a
minuteness of form and observance which showed how anxious he was
to maintain rigidly the state and character to which his
elevation had entitled him. He was served on the kneeand only
by pages of noble bloodfed upon plate of silverand drank his
Tokay and Rhenish wines from a cup of gold. His ducal mantle was
splendidly adorned with erminehis coronet might have equalled
in value a royal crownand his feetcased in velvet shoes (the
length of whichpeaks includedmight be two feet)rested upon
a footstool of solid silver. But it served partly to intimate
the character of the manthatalthough desirous to show
attention to the Marquis of Montserratwhom he had courteously
placed at his right handhe gave much more of his attention to


his SPRUCH-SPRECHER--that ishis man of conversationor SAYER-OF-SAYINGS --who stood behind
the Duke's right shoulder.

This personage was well attired in a cloak and doublet of black
velvetthe last of which was decorated with various silver and
gold coins stitched upon itin memory of the munificent princes
who had conferred themand bearing a short staff to which also
bunches of silver coins were attached by ringswhich he jingled
by way of attracting attention when he was about to say anything
which he judged worthy of it. This person's capacity in the
household of the Archduke was somewhat betwixt that of a minstrel
and a counsellor. He was by turns a flatterera poetand an
orator; and those who desired to be well with the Duke generally
studied to gain the good-will of the SPRUCH-SPRECHER.

Lest too much of this officer's wisdom should become tiresome
the Duke's other shoulder was occupied by his HOFF-NARRor
court-jestercalled Jonas Schwankerwho made almost as much
noise with his fool's capbellsand baubleas did the orator
or man of talkwith his jingling baton.

These two personages threw out grave and comic nonsense
alternately; while their masterlaughing or applauding them
himselfyet carefully watched the countenance of his noble
guestto discern what impressions so accomplished a cavalier
received from this display of Austrian eloquence and wit. It is
hard to say whether the man of wisdom or the man of folly
contributed most to the amusement of the partyor stood highest
in the estimation of their princely master; but the sallies of
both seemed excellently well received. Sometimes they became
rivals for the conversationand clanged their flappers in
emulation of each other with a most alarming contention; butin
generalthey seemed on such good termsand so accustomed to
support each other's playthat the SPRUCH-SPRECHER often
condescended to follow up the jester's witticisms with an
explanationto render them more obvious to the capacity of the
audienceso that his wisdom became a sort of commentary on the
buffoon's folly. And sometimesin requitalthe HOFF-NARRwith
a pithy jestwound up the conclusion of the orator's tedious
harangue.

Whatever his real sentiments might beConrade took especial care
that his countenance should express nothing but satisfaction with
what he heardand smiled or applauded as zealouslyto all
appearanceas the Archduke himself at the solemn folly of the
SPRUCH-SPRECHER and the gibbering wit of the fool. In facthe
watched carefully until the one or other should introduce some
topic favourable to the purpose which was uppermost in his mind.

It was not long ere the King of England was brought on the carpet
by the jesterwho had been accustomed to consider Dickon of the
Broom (which irreverent epithet he substituted for Richard
Plantagenet) as a subject of mirthacceptable and inexhaustible.
The oratorindeedwas silentand it was only when applied to
by Conrade that he observedThe GENISTA, or broom-plant, was an
emblem of humility; and it would be well when those who wore it
would remember the warning.

The allusion to the illustrious badge of Plantagenet was thus
rendered sufficiently manifestand Jonas Schwanker observed that
they who humbled themselves had been exalted with a vengeance.
Honour unto whom honour is due,answered the Marquis of
Montserrat. "We have all had some part in these marches and
battlesand methinks other princes might share a little in the


renown which Richard of England engrosses amongst minstrels and
MINNE-SINGERS. Has no one of the joyeuse science here present a
song in praise of the royal Archduke of Austriaour princely
entertainer?"


Three minstrels emulously stepped forward with voice and harp.
Two were silenced with difficulty by the SPRUCH-SPRECHERwho
seemed to act as master of the revelsand a hearing was at
length procured for the poet preferredwho sungin high German
stanzas which may be thus translated:--


What brave chief shall head the forces,
Where the red-cross legions gather?
Best of horsemen, best of horses,
Highest head and fairest feather.


Here the oratorjingling his staffinterrupted the bard to
intimate to the party--what they might not have inferred from the
description--that their royal host was the party indicatedand a
full-crowned goblet went round to the acclamationHOCH LEBE DER
HERZOG LEOPOLD! Another stanza followed:--


Ask not Austria why, 'midst princes,
Still her banner rises highest;
Ask as well the strong-wing'd eagle,
Why to heaven he soars the highest.


The eagle,said the expounder of dark sayingsis the
cognizance of our noble lord the Archduke--of his royal Grace, I
would say--and the eagle flies the highest and nearest to the sun
of all the feathered creation.


The lion hath taken a spring above the eagle,said Conrade
carelessly.


The Archduke reddenedand fixed his eyes on the speakerwhile
the SPRUCH-SPRECHER answeredafter a minute's consideration
The Lord Marquis will pardon me--a lion cannot fly above an
eagle, because no lion hath got wings.


Except the lion of Saint Mark,responded the jester.


That is the Venetian's banner,said the Duke; "but assuredly
that amphibious racehalf nobleshalf merchantswill not dare
to place their rank in comparison with ours."


Nay, it was not of the Venetian lion that I spoke,said the
Marquis of Montserratbut of the three lions passant of
England. Formerly, it is said, they were leopards; but now they
are become lions at all points, and must take precedence of
beast, fish, or fowl, or woe worth the gainstander.


Mean you seriously, my lord?said the Austriannow
considerably flushed with wine. "Think you that Richard of
England asserts any pre-eminence over the free sovereigns who
have been his voluntary allies in this Crusade?"


I know not but from circumstances,answered Conrade. "Yonder
hangs his banner alone in the midst of our campas if he were
king and generalissimo of our whole Christian army."


And do you endure this so patiently, and speak of it so coldly?
said the Archduke.



Nay, my lord,answered Conradeit cannot concern the poor
Marquis of Montserrat to contend against an injury patiently
submitted to by such potent princes as Philip of France and
Leopold of Austria. What dishonour you are pleased to submit to
cannot be a disgrace to me.

Leopold closed his fistand struck on the table with violence.

I have told Philip of this,he said. "I have often told him
that it was our duty to protect the inferior princes against the
usurpation of this islander; but he answers me ever with cold
respects of their relations together as suzerain and vassaland
that it were impolitic in him to make an open breach at this time
and period."

The world knows that Philip is wise,said Conradeand will
judge his submission to be policy. Yours, my lord, you can
yourself alone account for; but I doubt not you have deep reasons
for submitting to English domination.

I submit!said Leopold indignantly--"Ithe Archduke of
Austriaso important and vital a limb of the Holy Roman Empire
--I submit myself to this king of half an islandthis grandson
of a Norman bastard! Noby Heaven! The camp and all
Christendom shall see that I know how to right myselfand
whether I yield ground one inch to the English bandog.--Upmy
lieges and merry men; up and follow me! We will--and that
without losing one instant--place the eagle of Austria where she
shall float as high as ever floated the cognizance of king or
kaiser."

With that he started from his seatand amidst the tumultuous
cheering of his guests and followersmade for the door of the
pavilionand seized his own bannerwhich stood pitched before
it.

Nay, my lord,said Conradeaffecting to interfereit will
blemish your wisdom to make an affray in the camp at this hour;
and perhaps it is better to submit to the usurpation of England a
little longer than to--

Not an hour, not a moment longer,vociferated the Duke; and
with the banner in his handand followed by his shouting guests
and attendantsmarched hastily to the central mountfrom which
the banner of England floatedand laid his hand on the standard-spearas if to pluck it from the ground.

My master, my dear master!said Jonas Schwankerthrowing his
arms about the Duketake heed--lions have teeth--

And eagles have claws,said the Dukenot relinquishing his
hold on the banner-staffyet hesitating to pull it from the
ground.

The speaker of sentencesnotwithstanding such was his
occupationhad nevertheless some intervals of sound sense. He
clashed his staff loudlyand Leopoldas if by habitturned his
head towards his man of counsel.

The eagle is king among the fowls of the air,said the SPRUCH-SPRECHERas is the lion among the
beasts of the field--each has
his dominion, separated as wide as England and Germany. Do thou,
noble eagle, no dishonour to the princely lion, but let your
banners remain floating in peace side by side.


Leopold withdrew his hand from the banner-spearand looked round
for Conrade of Montserratbut he saw him not; for the Marquis
so soon as he saw the mischief afoothad withdrawn himself from
the crowdtaking carein the first placeto express before
several neutral persons his regret that the Archduke should have
chosen the hours after dinner to avenge any wrong of which he
might think he had a right to complain. Not seeing his guestto
whom he wished more particularly to have addressed himselfthe
Archduke said aloud thathaving no wish to breed dissension in
the army of the Crosshe did but vindicate his own privileges
and right to stand upon an equality with the King of England
without desiringas he might have doneto advance his banner
--which he derived from emperorshis progenitors--above that of
a mere descendant of the Counts of Anjou; and in the meantime he
commanded a cask of wine to be brought hither and piercedfor
regaling the bystanderswhowith tuck of drum and sound of
musicquaffed many a carouse round the Austrian standard.

This disorderly scene was not acted without a degree of noise
which alarmed the whole camp.

The critical hour had arrived at which the physicianaccording
to the rules of his arthad predicted that his royal patient
might be awakened with safetyand the sponge had been applied
for that purpose; and the leech had not made many observations
ere he assured the Baron of Gilsland that the fever had entirely
left his sovereignand thatsuch was the happy strength of his
constitutionit would not be even necessaryas in most cases
to give a second dose of the powerful medicine. Richard himself
seemed to be of the same opinionforsitting up and rubbing his
eyeshe demanded of De Vaux what present sum of money was in the
royal coffers.

The baron could not exactly inform him of the amount.

It matters not,said Richard; "be it greater or smaller
bestow it all on this learned leechwho hathI trustgiven me
back again to the service of the Crusade. If it be less than a
thousand byzantslet him have jewels to make it up."

I sell not the wisdom with which Allah has endowed me,answered
the Arabian physician; "and be it known to yougreat Prince
that the divine medicine of which you have partaken would lose
its effects in my unworthy hands did I exchange its virtues
either for gold or diamonds."

The Physician refuseth a gratuity!said De Vaux to himself.
This is more extraordinary than his being a hundred years old.

Thomas de Vaux,said Richardthou knowest no courage but what
belongs to the sword, no bounty and virtue but what are used in
chivalry. I tell thee that this Moor, in his independence, might
set an example to them who account themselves the flower of
knighthood.

It is reward enough for me,said the Moorfolding his arms on
his bosomand maintaining an attitude at once respectful and
dignifiedthat so great a king as the Melech Ric [Richard was
thus called by the Eastern nations.] should thus speak of his
servant.--But now let me pray you again to compose yourself on
your couch; for though I think there needs no further repetition
of the divine draught, yet injury might ensue from any too early
exertion ere your strength be entirely restored.


I must obey thee, Hakim,said the King; "yet believe memy
bosom feels so free from the wasting fire which for so many days
hath scorched itthat I care not how soon I expose it to a brave
man's lance.--But hark! what mean these shoutsand that distant
musicin the camp? GoThomas de Vauxand make inquiry."

It is the Archduke Leopold,said De Vauxreturning after a
minute's absencewho makes with his pot-companions some
procession through the camp.

The drunken fool!exclaimed King Richard; "can he not keep his
brutal inebriety within the veil of his pavilionthat he must
needs show his shame to all Christendom?--What say youSir
Marquis?" he addedaddressing himself to Conrade of Montserrat
who at that moment entered the tent.

Thus much, honoured Prince,answered the Marquisthat I
delight to see your Majesty so well, and so far recovered; and
that is a long speech for any one to make who has partaken of the
Duke of Austria's hospitality.

What! you have been dining with the Teutonic wine-skin!said
the monarch. "And what frolic has he found out to cause all this
disturbance? TrulySir ConradeI have still held you so good a
reveller that I wonder at your quitting the game."

De Vauxwho had got a little behind the Kingnow exerted
himself by look and sign to make the Marquis understand that he
should say nothing to Richard of what was passing without. But
Conrade understood notor heeded notthe prohibition.

What the Archduke does,he saidis of little consequence to
any one, least of all to himself, since he probably knows not
what he is acting; yet, to say truth, it is a gambol I should not
like to share in, since he is pulling down the banner of England
from Saint George's Mount, in the centre of the camp yonder, and
displaying his own in its stead.

WHAT sayest thou?exclaimed the Kingin a tone which might
have waked the dead.

Nay,said the Marquislet it not chafe your Highness that a
fool should act according to his folly--

Speak not to me,said Richardspringing from his couchand
casting on his clothes with a dispatch which seemed marvellous
--"Speak not to meLord Marquis!--De MultonI command thee
speak not a word to me--he that breathes but a syllable is no
friend to Richard Plantagenet.--Hakimbe silentI charge thee!"

All this while the King was hastily clothing himselfandwith
the last wordsnatched his sword from the pillar of the tent
and without any other weaponor calling any attendancehe
rushed out of his pavilion. Conradeholding up his hands as if
in astonishmentseemed willing to enter into conversation with
De Vaux; but Sir Thomas pushed rudely past himand calling to
one of the royal equerriessaid hastilyFly to Lord
Salisbury's quarters, and let him get his men together and follow
me instantly to Saint George's Mount. Tell him the King's fever
has left his blood and settled in his brain.

Imperfectly heardand still more imperfectly comprehendedby
the startled attendant whom De Vaux addressed thus hastilythe
equerry and his fellow-servants of the royal chamber rushed


hastily into the tents of the neighbouring nobilityand quickly
spread an alarmas general as the cause seemed vaguethrough
the whole British forces. The English soldierswaked in alarm
from that noonday rest which the heat of the climate had taught
them to enjoy as a luxuryhastily asked each other the cause of
the tumultand without waiting an answersupplied by the force
of their own fancy the want of information. Some said the
Saracens were in the campsome that the King's life was
attemptedsome that he had died of the fever the preceding
nightmany that he was assassinated by the Duke of Austria. The
nobles and officersat an equal loss with the common men to
ascertain the real cause of the disorderlaboured only to get
their followers under arms and under authoritylest their
rashness should occasion some great misfortune to the Crusading
army. The English trumpets sounded loudshrilland
continuously. The alarm-cry of "Bows and billsbows and bills!"
was heard from quarter to quarteragain and again shoutedand
again and again answered by the presence of the ready warriors
and their national invocationSaint George for merry England!

The alarm went through the nearest quarter of the campand men
of all the various nations assembledwhereperhapsevery
people in Christendom had their representativesflew to arms
and drew together under circumstances of general confusionof
which they knew neither the cause nor the object. It was
howeverluckyamid a scene so threateningthat the Earl of
Salisburywhile he hurried after De Vaux's summons with a few
only of the readiest English men-at-armsdirected the rest of
the English host to be drawn up and kept under armsto advance
to Richard's succour if necessity should requirebut in fit
array and under due commandand not with the tumultuary haste
which their own alarm and zeal for the King's safety might have
dictated.

In the meanwhilewithout regarding for one instant the shouts
the criesthe tumult which began to thicken around himRichard
with his dress in the last disorderand his sheathed blade under
his armpursued his way with the utmost speedfollowed only by
De Vaux and one or two household servantsto Saint George's
Mount.

He outsped even the alarm which his impetuosity only had excited
and passed the quarter of his own gallant troops of Normandy
PoitouGasconyand Anjou before the disturbance had reached
themalthough the noise accompanying the German revel had
induced many of the soldiery to get on foot to listen. The
handful of Scots were also quartered in the vicinitynor had
they been disturbed by the uproar. But the King's person and his
haste were both remarked by the Knight of the Leopardwhoaware
that danger must be afootand hastening to share in itsnatched
his shield and swordand united himself to De Vauxwho with
some difficulty kept pace with his impatient and fiery master.
De Vaux answered a look of curiositywhich the Scottish knight
directed towards himwith a shrug of his broad shouldersand
they continuedside by sideto pursue Richard's steps.

The King was soon at the foot of Saint George's Mountthe sides
as well as platform of which were now surrounded and crowded
partly by those belonging to the Duke of Austria's retinuewho
were celebratingwith shouts of jubileethe act which they
considered as an assertion of national honour; partly by
bystanders of different nationswhom dislike to the Englishor
mere curiosityhad assembled together to witness the end of
these extraordinary proceedings. Through this disorderly troop


Richard burst his waylike a goodly ship under full sailwhich
cleaves her forcible passage through the rolling billowsand
heeds not that they unite after her passage and roar upon her
stern.

The summit of the eminence was a small level spaceon which were
pitched the rival bannerssurrounded still by the Archduke's
friends and retinue. In the midst of the circle was Leopold
himselfstill contemplating with self-satisfaction the deed he
had doneand still listening to the shouts of applause which his
partisans bestowed with no sparing breath. While he was in this
state of self-gratulationRichard burst into the circle
attendedindeedonly by two menbut in his own headlong
energies an irresistible host.

Who has dared,he saidlaying his hands upon the Austrian
standardand speaking in a voice like the sound which precedes
an earthquake--"Who has dared to place this paltry rag beside the
banner of England?"

The Archduke wanted not personal courageand it was impossible
he could hear this question without reply. Yet so much was he
troubled and surprised by the unexpected arrival of Richardand
affected by the general awe inspired by his ardent and unyielding
characterthat the demand was twice repeatedin a tone which
seemed to challenge heaven and earthere the Archduke replied
with such firmness as he could commandIt was I, Leopold of
Austria.

Then shall Leopold of Austria,replied Richardpresentry see
the rate at which his banner and his pretensions are held by
Richard of England.

So sayinghe pulled up the standard-spearsplintered it to
piecesthrew the banner itself on the groundand placed his
foot upon it.

Thus,said heI trample on the banner of Austria. Is there a
knight among your Teutonic chivalry dare impeach my deed?

There was a momentary silence; but there are no braver men than
the Germans.

I,and "I and I was heard from several knights of the
Dukes followers; and he himself added his voice to those which
accepted the King of England's defiance.

Why do we dally thus?said the Earl Wallenrodea gigantic
warrior from the frontiers of Hungary. "Brethren and noble
gentlementhis man's foot is on the honour of your country--let
us rescue it from violationand down with the pride of England!"

So sayinghe drew his swordand struck at the King a blow which
might have proved fatalhad not the Scot intercepted and caught
it upon his shield.

I have sworn,said King Richard--and his voice was heard above
all the tumultwhich now waxed wild and loud--"never to strike
one whose shoulder bears the cross; therefore liveWallenrode
--but live to remember Richard of England."

As he spokehe grasped the tall Hungarian round the waistand
unmatched in wrestlingas in other military exerciseshurled
him backwards with such violence that the mass flew as if


discharged from a military enginenot only through the ring of
spectators who witnessed the extraordinary scenebut over the
edge of the mount itselfdown the steep side of which Wallenrode
rolled headlonguntilpitching at length upon his shoulderhe
dislocated the boneand lay like one dead. This almost
supernatural display of strength did not encourage either the
Duke or any of his followers to renew a personal contest so
inauspiciously commenced. Those who stood farthest back did
indeedclash their swordsand cry outCut the island mastiff
to pieces!but those who were nearer veiledperhapstheir
personal fears under an affected regard for orderand criedfor
the most partPeace! Peace! the peace of the Cross--the peace
of Holy Church and our Father the Pope!

These various cries of the assailantscontradicting each other
showed their irresolution; while Richardhis foot still on the
archducal bannerglared round him with an eye that seemed to
seek an enemyand from which the angry nobles shrunk appalled
as from the threatened grasp of a lion. De Vaux and the Knight
of the Leopard kept their places beside him; and though the
swords which they held were still sheathedit was plain that
they were prompt to protect Richard's person to the very last
and their size and remarkable strength plainly showed the defence
would be a desperate one.

Salisbury and his attendants were also now drawing nearwith
bills and partisans brandishedand bows already bended.

At this moment King Philip of Franceattended by one or two of
his noblescame on the platform to inquire the cause of the
disturbanceand made gestures of surprise at finding the King of
England raised from his sick-bedand confronting their common
allythe Duke of Austriain such a menacing and insulting
posture. Richard himself blushed at being discovered by Philip
whose sagacity he respected as much as he disliked his personin
an attitude neither becoming his character as a monarchnor as a
Crusader; and it was observed that he withdrew his footas if
accidentallyfrom the dishonoured bannerand exchanged his look
of violent emotion for one of affected composure and
indifference. Leopold also struggled to attain some degree of
calmnessmortified as he was by having been seen by Philip in
the act of passively submitting to the insults of the fiery King
of England.

Possessed of many of those royal qualities for which he was
termed by his subjects the AugustPhilip might be termed the
Ulyssesas Richard was indisputably the Achillesof the
Crusade. The King of France was sagaciouswisedeliberate in
councilsteady and calm in actionseeing clearlyand steadily
pursuingthe measures most for the interest of his kingdom
--dignified and royal in his deportmentbrave in personbut a
politician rather than a warrior. The Crusade would have been no
choice of his own; but the spirit was contagiousand the
expedition was enforced upon him by the churchand by the
unanimous wish of his nobility. In any other situationor in a
milder agehis character might have stood higher than that of
the adventurous Coeur de Lion. But in the Crusadeitself an
undertaking wholly irrationalsound reason was the quality of
all others least estimatedand the chivalric valour which both
the age and the enterprise demanded was considered as debased if
mingled with the least touch of discretion. So that the merit of
Philipcompared with that of his haughty rivalshowed like the
clear but minute flame of a lamp placed near the glare of a huge
blazing torchwhichnot possessing half the utilitymakes ten


times more impression on the eye. Philip felt his inferiority in
public opinion with the pain natural to a high-spirited prince;
and it cannot be wondered at if he took such opportunities as
offered for placing his own character in more advantageous
contrast with that of his rival. The present seemed one of those
occasions in which prudence and calmness might reasonably expect
to triumph over obstinacy and impetuous violence.

What means this unseemly broil betwixt the sworn brethren of the
Cross--the royal Majesty of England and the princely Duke
Leopold? How is it possible that those who are the chiefs and
pillars of this holy expedition--

A truce with thy remonstrance, France,said Richardenraged
inwardly at finding himself placed on a sort of equality with
Leopoldyet not knowing how to resent it. "This dukeor
princeor pillarif you willhath been insolentand I have
chastised him--that is all. Here is a coilforsoothbecause of
spurning a hound!"

Majesty of France,said the DukeI appeal to you and every
sovereign prince against the foul indignity which I have
sustained. This King of England hath pulled down my banner-torn
and trampled on it.

Because he had the audacity to plant it beside mine,said
Richard.

My rank as thine equal entitled me,replied the Duke
emboldened by the presence of Philip.

Assert such equality for thy person,said King Richardand,
by Saint George, I will treat thy person as I did thy broidered
kerchief there, fit but for the meanest use to which kerchief may
be put.

Nay, but patience, brother of England,said Philipand I will
presently show Austria that he is wrong in this matter.--Do not
think, noble Duke,he continuedthat, in permitting the
standard of England to occupy the highest point in our camp, we,
the independent sovereigns of the Crusade, acknowledge any
inferiority to the royal Richard. It were inconsistent to think
so, since even the Oriflamme itself--the great banner of France,
to which the royal Richard himself, in respect of his French
possessions, is but a vassal--holds for the present an inferior
place to the Lions of England. But as sworn brethren of the
Cross, military pilgrims, who, laying aside the pomp and pride of
this world, are hewing with our swords the way to the Holy
Sepulchre, I myself, and the other princes, have renounced to
King Richard, from respect to his high renown and great feats of
arms, that precedence which elsewhere, and upon other motives,
would not have been yielded. I am satisfied that, when your
royal grace of Austria shall have considered this, you will
express sorrow for having placed your banner on this spot, and
that the royal Majesty of England will then give satisfaction for
the insult he has offered.

The SPRUCH-SPRECHER and the jester had both retired to a safe
distance when matters seemed coming to blows; but returned when
wordstheir own commodityseemed again about to become the
order of the day.

The man of proverbs was so delighted with Philip's politic speech
that he clashed his baton at the conclusionby way of emphasis


and forgot the presence in which he wasso far as to say aloud
that he himself had never said a wiser thing in his life.

It may be so,whispered Jonas Schwankerbut we shall be
whipped if you speak so loud.

The Duke answered sullenly that he would refer his quarrel to
the General Council of the Crusade--a motion which Philip highly
applaudedas qualified to take away a scandal most harmful to
Christendom.

Richardretaining the same careless attitudelistened to Philip
until his oratory seemed exhaustedand then said aloudI am
drowsy--this fever hangs about me still. Brother of France, thou
art acquainted with my humour, and that I have at all times but
few words to spare. Know, therefore, at once, I will submit a
matter touching the honour of England neither to Prince, Pope,
nor Council. Here stands my banner--whatsoever pennon shall be
reared within three butts' length of it--ay, were it the
Oriflamme, of which you were, I think, but now speaking--shall be
treated as that dishonoured rag; nor will I yield other
satisfaction than that which these poor limbs can render in the
lists to any bold challenge--ay, were it against five champions
instead of one.

Now,said the jesterwhispering his companionthat is as
complete a piece of folly as if I myself had said it; but yet, I
think, there may be in this matter a greater fool than Richard
yet.

And who may that be?asked the man of wisdom.

Philip,said the jesteror our own Royal Duke, should either
accept the challenge. But oh, most sage SPRUCH-SPECHER, what
excellent kings wouldst thou and I have made, since those on
whose heads these crowns have fallen can play the proverb-monger
and the fool as completely as ourselves!

While these worthies plied their offices apartPhilip answered
calmly to the almost injurious defiance of RichardI came not
hither to awaken fresh quarrels, contrary to the oath we have
sworn, and the holy cause in which we have engaged. I part from
my brother of England as brothers should part, and the only
strife between the Lions of England and the Lilies of France
shall be which shall be carried deepest into the ranks of the
infidels.

It is a bargain, my royal brother,said Richardstretching out
his hand with all the frankness which belonged to his rash but
generous disposition; "and soon may we have the opportunity to
try this gallant and fraternal wager."

Let this noble Duke also partake in the friendship of this happy
moment,said Philip; and the Duke approached half-sullenly
half-willing to enter into some accommodation.

I think not of fools, nor of their folly,said Richard
carelessly; and the Archduketurning his back on himwithdrew
from the ground.

Richard looked after him as he retired.

There is a sort of glow-worm courage,he saidthat shows only
by night. I must not leave this banner unguarded in darkness; by


daylight the look of the Lions will alone defend it. Here,
Thomas of Gilsland, I give thee the charge of the standard--watch
over the honour of England.

Her safety is yet more dear to me,said De Vauxand the life
of Richard is the safety of England. I must have your Highness
back to your tent, and that without further tarriance.

Thou art a rough and peremptory nurse, De Vaux,said the king
smiling; and then addedaddressing Sir KennethValiant Scot, I
owe thee a boon, and I will pay it richly. There stands the
banner of England! Watch it as novice does his armour on the
night before he is dubbed. Stir not from it three spears'
length, and defend it with thy body against injury or insult.
Sound thy bugle if thou art assailed by more than three at once.
Dost thou undertake the charge?

Willingly,said Kenneth; "and will discharge it upon penalty of
my head. I will but arm meand return hither instantly."

The Kings of France and England then took formal leave of each
otherhidingunder an appearance of courtesythe grounds of
complaint which either had against the other--Richard against
Philipfor what he deemed an officious interference betwixt him
and Austriaand Philip against Coeur de Lionfor the
disrespectful manner in which his mediation had been received.
Those whom this disturbance had assembled now drew off in
different directionsleaving the contested mount in the same
solitude which had subsisted till interrupted by the Austrian
bravado. Men judged of the events of the day according to their
partialitiesand while the English charged the Austrian with
having afforded the first ground of quarrelthose of other
nations concurred in casting the greater blame upon the insular
haughtiness and assuming character of Richard.

Thou seest,said the Marquis of Montserrat to the Grand Master
of the Templarsthat subtle courses are more effective than
violence. I have unloosed the bonds which held together this
bunch of sceptres and lances--thou wilt see them shortly fall
asunder.

I would have called thy plan a good one,said the Templarhad
there been but one man of courage among yonder cold-blooded
Austrians to sever the bonds of which you speak with his sword.
A knot that is unloosed may again be fastened, but not so the
cord which has been cut to pieces.

CHAPTER XII.

'Tis woman that seduces all mankind. GAY.

In the days of chivalrya dangerous post or a perilous adventure
was a reward frequently assigned to military bravery as a
compensation for its former trials; just asin ascending a
precipicethe surmounting one crag only lifts the climber to
points yet more dangerous.

It was midnightand the moon rode clear and high in heavenwhen
Kenneth of Scotland stood upon his watch on Saint George's Mount
beside the banner of Englanda solitary sentinelto protect the
emblem of that nation against the insults which might be
meditated among the thousands whom Richard's pride had made his


enemies. High thoughts rolledone after each otherupon the
mind of the warrior. It seemed to him as if he had gained some
favour in the eyes of the chivalrous monarchwho till now had
not seemed to distinguish him among the crowds of brave men whom
his renown had assembled under his bannerand Sir Kenneth little
recked that the display of royal regard consisted in placing him
upon a post so perilous. The devotion of his ambitious and high-placed affection inflamed his military
enthusiasm. Hopeless as
that attachment was in almost any conceivable circumstances
those which had lately occurred hadin some degreediminished
the distance between Edith and himself. He upon whom Richard had
conferred the distinction of guarding his banner was no longer an
adventurer of slight notebut placed within the regard of a
princessalthough he was as far as ever from her level. An
unknown and obscure fate could not now be his. If he was
surprised and slain on the post which had been assigned himhis
death--and he resolved it should be glorious--must deserve the
praises as well as call down the vengeance of Coeur de Lionand
be followed by the regretsand even the tearsof the high-born
beauties of the English Court. He had now no longer reason to
fear that he should die as a fool dieth.

Sir Kenneth had full leisure to enjoy these and similar high-souled thoughtsfostered by that wild spirit of
chivalrywhich
amid its most extravagant and fantastic flightswas still pure
from all selfish alloy--generousdevotedand perhaps only thus
far censurablethat it proposed objects and courses of action
inconsistent with the frailties and imperfections of man. All
nature around him slept in calm moon-shine or in deep shadow.
The long rows of tents and pavilionsglimmering or darkening as
they lay in the moonlight or in the shadewere still and silent
as the streets of a deserted city. Beside the banner-staff lay
the large staghound already mentionedthe sole companion of
Kenneth's watchon whose vigilance he trusted for early warning
of the approach of any hostile footstep. The noble animal seemed
to understand the purpose of their watch; for he looked from time
to time at the rich folds of the heavy pennonandwhen the cry
of the sentinels came from the distant lines and defences of the
camphe answered them with one deep and reiterated barkas if
to affirm that he too was vigilant in his duty. From time to
timealsohe lowered his lofty headand wagged his tailas
his master passed and repassed him in the short turns which he
took upon his post; orwhen the knight stood silent and
abstracted leaning on his lanceand looking up towards heaven
his faithful attendant ventured sometimesin the phrase of
romanceto disturb his thoughts,and awaken him from his
reverieby thrusting his large rough snout into the knight's
gauntleted handto solicit a transitory caress.

Thus passed two hours of the knight's watch without anything
remarkable occurring. At lengthand upon a suddenthe gallant
staghound bayed furiouslyand seemed about to dash forward where
the shadow lay the darkestyet waitedas if in the slipstill
he should know the pleasure of his master.

Who goes there?said Sir Kennethaware that there was
something creeping forward on the shadowy side of the mount.

In the name of Merlin and Maugis,answered a hoarse
disagreeable voicetie up your fourfooted demon there, or I
come not at you.

And who art thou that would approach my post?said Sir
Kennethbending his eyes as keenly as he could on some object


which he could just observe at the bottom of the ascentwithout
being able to distinguish its form. "Beware--I am here for death
and life."

Take up thy long-fanged Sathanas,said the voiceor I will
conjure him with a bolt from my arblast.

At the same time was heard the sound of a spring or checkas
when a crossbow is bent.

Unbend thy arblast, and come into the moonlight,said the Scot
or, by Saint Andrew, I will pin thee to the earth, be what or
whom thou wilt!

As he spoke he poised his long lance by the middleandfixing
his eye upon the objectwhich seemed to movehe brandished the
weaponas if meditating to cast it from his hand--a use of the
weapon sometimesthough rarelyresorted to when a missile was
necessary. But Sir Kenneth was ashamed of his purposeand
grounded his weaponwhen there stepped from the shadow into the
moonlightlike an actor entering upon the stagea stunted
decrepit creaturewhomby his fantastic dress and deformityhe
recognizedeven at some distancefor the male of the two dwarfs
whom he had seen in the chapel at Engaddi. Recollectingat the
same momentthe other and far different visions of that
extraordinary nighthe gave his dog a signalwhich he instantly
understoodandreturning to the standardlaid himself down
beside it with a stifled growl.

The littledistorted miniature of humanityassured of his
safety from an enemy so formidablecame panting up the ascent
which the shortness of his legs rendered laboriousandwhen he
arrived on the platform at the topshifted to his left hand the
little crossbowwhich was just such a toy as children at that
period were permitted to shoot small birds withandassuming an
attitude of great dignitygracefully extended his right hand to
Sir Kennethin an attitude as if he expected he would salute it.
But such a result not followinghe demandedin a sharp and
angry tone of voiceSoldier, wherefore renderest thou not to
Nectabanus the homage due to his dignity? Or is it possible that
thou canst have forgotten him?

Great Nectabanus,answered the knightwilling to soothe the
creature's humourthat were difficult for any one who has ever
looked upon thee. Pardon me, however, that, being a soldier upon
my post, with my lance in my hand, I may not give to one of thy
puissance the advantage of coming within my guard, or of
mastering my weapon. Suffice it that I reverence thy dignity,
and submit myself to thee as humbly as a man-at-arms in my place
may.

It shall suffice,said Nectabanusso that you presently
attend me to the presence of those who have sent me hither to
summon you.

Great sir,replied the knightneither in this can I gratify
thee, for my orders are to abide by this banner till daybreak
--so I pray you to hold me excused in that matter also.

So sayinghe resumed his walk upon the platform; but the dwarf
did not suffer him so easily to escape from his importunity.

Look you,he saidplacing himself before Sir Kennethso as to
interrupt his wayeither obey me, Sir Knight, as in duty bound,


or I will lay the command upon thee, in the name of one whose
beauty could call down the genii from their sphere, and whose
grandeur could command the immortal race when they had
descended.

A wild and improbable conjecture arose in the knight's mindbut
he repelled it. It was impossiblehe thoughtthat the lady of
his love should have sent him such a message by such a messenger;
yet his voice trembled as he saidGo to, Nectabanus. Tell me
at once, and as a true man, whether this sublime lady of whom
thou speakest be other than the houri with whose assistance I
beheld thee sweeping the chapel at Engaddi?

How! presumptuous Knight,replied the dwarfthink'st thou
the mistress of our own royal affections, the sharer of our
greatness, and the partner of our comeliness, would demean
herself by laying charge on such a vassal as thou? No; highly as
thou art honoured, thou hast not yet deserved the notice of Queen
Guenevra, the lovely bride of Arthur, from whose high seat even
princes seem but pigmies. But look thou here, and as thou
knowest or disownest this token, so obey or refuse her commands
who hath deigned to impose them on thee.

So sayinghe placed in the knight's hand a ruby ringwhich
even in the moonlighthe had no difficulty to recognize as that
which usually graced the finger of the high-born lady to whose
service he had devoted himself. Could he have doubted the truth
of the tokenhe would have been convinced by the small knot of
carnation-coloured ribbon which was fastened to the ring. This
was his lady's favourite colourand more than once had he
himselfassuming it for that of his own liveriescaused the
carnation to triumph over all other hues in the lists and in the
battle.

Sir Kenneth was struck nearly mute by seeing such a token in such
hands.

In the name of all that is sacred, from whom didst thou receive
this witness?said the knight. "Bringif thou canstthy
wavering understanding to a right settlement for a minute or two
and tell me the person by whom thou art sentand the real
purpose of thy messageand take heed what thou sayestfor this
is no subject for buffoonery."

Fond and foolish Knight,said the dwarfwouldst thou know
more of this matter than that thou art honoured with commands
from a princess, delivered to thee by a king? We list not to
parley with thee further than to command thee, in the name and by
the power of that ring, to follow us to her who is the owner of
the ring. Every minute that thou tarriest is a crime against thy
allegiance.

Good Nectabanus, bethink thyself,said the knight. "Can my
lady know where and upon what duty I am this night engaged? Is
she aware that my life--pshawwhy should I speak of life--but
that my honour depends on my guarding this banner till daybreak;
and can it be her wish that I should leave it even to pay homage
to her? It is impossible--the princess is pleased to be merry
with her servant in sending him such a message; and I must think
so the rather that she hath chosen such a messenger."

Oh, keep your belief,said Nectabanusturning round as if to
leave the platform; "it is little to me whether you be traitor or
true man to this royal lady--so fare thee well."


Stay, stay--I entreat you stay,said Sir Kenneth. "Answer me
but one question: is the lady who sent thee near to this place?"

What signifies it?said the dwarf. "Ought fidelity to reckon
furlongsor milesor leagues--like the poor courierwho is
paid for his labour by the distance which he traverses?
Neverthelessthou soul of suspicionI tell theethe fair owner
of the ring now sent to so unworthy a vassalin whom there is
neither truth nor courageis not more distant from this place
than this arblast can send a bolt."

The knight gazed again on that ringas if to ascertain that
there was no possible falsehood in the token. "Tell me he said
to the dwarf, is my presence required for any length of time?"

Time!answered Nectabanusin his flighty manner; "what call
you time? I see it not--I feel it not--it is but a shadowy name
--a succession of breathings measured forth by night by the clank
of a bellby day by a shadow crossing along a dial-stone.
Knowest thou not a true knight's time should only be reckoned by
the deeds that he performs in behalf of God and his lady?"

The words of truth, though in the mouth of folly,said the
knight. "And doth my lady really summon me to some deed of
actionin her name and for her sake?--and may it not be
postponed for even the few hours till daybreak?"

She requires thy presence instantly,said the dwarfand
without the loss of so much time as would be told by ten grains
of the sandglass. Hearken, thou cold-blooded and suspicious
knight, these are her very words--Tell him that the hand which
dropped roses can bestow laurels.

This allusion to their meeting in the chapel of Engaddi sent a
thousand recollections through Sir Kenneth's brainand convinced
him that the message delivered by the dwarf was genuine. The
rosebudswithered as they werewere still treasured under his
cuirassand nearest to his heart. He pausedand could not
resolve to forego an opportunitythe only one which might ever
offerto gain grace in her eyes whom he had installed as
sovereign of his affections. The dwarfin the meantime
augmented his confusion by insisting either that he must return
the ring or instantly attend him.

Hold, hold, yet a moment hold,said the knightand proceeded
to mutter to himselfAm I either the subject or slave of King
Richard, more than as a free knight sworn to the service of the
Crusade? And whom have I come hither to honour with lance and
sword? Our holy cause and my transcendent lady!

The ring! the ring!exclaimed the dwarf impatiently; "false
and slothful knightreturn the ringwhich thou art unworthy to
touch or to look upon."

A moment, a moment, good Nectabanus,said Sir Kenneth; "disturb
not my thoughts.--What if the Saracens were just now to attack
our lines? Should I stay here like a sworn vassal of England
watching that her king's pride suffered no humiliation; or should
I speed to the breachand fight for the Cross? To the breach
assuredly; and next to the cause of God come the commands of my
liege lady. And yetCoeur de Lion's behest--my own promise!
NectabanusI conjure thee once more to sayare you to conduct
me far from hence?"


But to yonder pavilion; and, since you must needs know,replied
Nectabanusthe moon is glimmering on the gilded ball which
crowns its roof, and which is worth a king's ransom.

I can return in an instant,said the knightshutting his eyes
desperately to all further consequencesI can hear from thence
the bay of my dog if any one approaches the standard. I will
throw myself at my lady's feet, and pray her leave to return to
conclude my watch.--Here, Roswal(calling his houndand
throwing down his mantle by the side of the standard-spear)
watch thou here, and let no one approach.

The majestic dog looked in his master's faceas if to be sure
that he understood his chargethen sat down beside the mantle
with ears erect and head raisedlike a sentinelunderstanding
perfectly the purpose for which he was stationed there.

Come now, good Nectabanus,said the knightlet us hasten to
obey the commands thou hast brought.

Haste he that will,said the dwarf sullenly; "thou hast not
been in haste to obey my summonsnor can I walk fast enough to
follow your long strides--you do not walk like a manbut bound
like an ostrich in the desert."

There were but two ways of conquering the obstinacy of
Nectabanuswhoas he spokediminished his walk into a snail's
pace. For bribes Sir Kenneth had no means--for soothing no time;
so in his impatience he snatched the dwarf up from the ground
and bearing him alongnotwithstanding his entreaties and his
fearreached nearly to the pavilion pointed out as that of the
Queen. In approaching ithoweverthe Scot observed there was a
small guard of soldiers sitting on the groundwho had been
concealed from him by the intervening tents. Wondering that the
clash of his own armour had not yet attracted their attention
and supposing that his motions mighton the present occasion
require to be conducted with secrecyhe placed the little
panting guide upon the ground to recover his breathand point
out what was next to be done. Nectabanus was both frightened and
angry; but he had felt himself as completely in the power of the
robust knight as an owl in the claws of an eagleand therefore
cared not to provoke him to any further display of his strength.

He made no complaintsthereforeof the usage he had received;
butturning amongst the labyrinth of tentshe led the knight in
silence to the opposite side of the pavilionwhich thus screened
them from the observation of the warderswho seemed either too
negligent or too sleepy to discharge their duty with much
accuracy. Arrived therethe dwarf raised the under part of the
canvas from the groundand made signs to Sir Kenneth that he
should introduce himself to the inside of the tentby creeping
under it. The knight hesitated. There seemed an indecorum in
thus privately introducing himself into a pavilion pitched
doubtlessfor the accommodation of noble ladies; but he recalled
to remembrance the assured tokens which the dwarf had exhibited
and concluded that it was not for him to dispute his lady's
pleasure.

He stooped accordinglycrept beneath the canvas enclosure of the
tentand heard the dwarf whisper from withoutRemain here
until I call thee.


CHAPTER XIII.


You talk of Gaiety and Innocence!
The moment when the fatal fruit was eaten
They parted ne'er to meet again; and Malice
Has ever since been playmate to light Gaiety
From the first moment when the smiling infant
Destroys the flower or butterfly he toys with
To the last chuckle of the dying miser
Who on his deathbed laughs his last to hear
His wealthy neighbour has become a bankrupt. OLD PLAY.


Sir Kenneth was left for some minutes alone and in darkness.
Here was another interruption which must prolong his absence from
his postand he began almost to repent the facility with which
he had been induced to quit it. But to return without seeing the
Lady Edith was now not to be thought of. He had committed a
breach of military disciplineand was determined at least to
prove the reality of the seductive expectations which had tempted
him to do so. Meanwhile his situation was unpleasant. There was
no light to show him into what sort of apartment he had been led
--the Lady Edith was in immediate attendance on the Queen of
England--and the discovery of his having introduced himself thus
furtively into the royal pavilion mightwere it discovered; lead
to much and dangerous suspicion. While he gave way to these
unpleasant reflectionsand began almost to wish that he could
achieve his retreat unobservedhe heard a noise of female
voiceslaughingwhisperingand speakingin an adjoining
apartmentfrom whichas the sounds gave him reason to judgehe
could only be separated by a canvas partition. Lamps were
burningas he might perceive by the shadowy light which extended
itself even to his side of the veil which divided the tentand
he could see shades of several figures sitting and moving in the
adjoining apartment. It cannot be termed discourtesy in Sir
Kenneth thatsituated as he washe overheard a conversation in
which he found himself deeply interested.


Call her--call her, for Our Lady's sake,said the voice of one
of these laughing invisibles. "Nectabanusthou shalt be made
ambassador to Prester John's courtto show them how wisely thou
canst discharge thee of a mission."


The shrill tone of the dwarf was heardyet so much subdued that
Sir Kenneth could not understand what he saidexcept that he
spoke something of the means of merriment given to the guard.


But how shall we rid us of the spirit which Nectabanus hath
raised, my maidens?


Hear me, royal madam,said another voice. "If the sage and
princely Nectabanus be not over-jealous of his most transcendent
bride and empresslet us send her to get us rid of this insolent
knight-errantwho can be so easily persuaded that high-born
dames may need the use of his insolent and overweening valour."


It were but justice, methinks,replied anotherthat the
Princess Guenever should dismiss, by her courtesy, him whom her
husband's wisdom has been able to entice hither.


Struck to the heart with shame and resentment at what he had
heardSir Kenneth was about to attempt his escape from the tent
at all hazardswhen what followed arrested his purpose.



Nay, truly,said the first speakerour cousin Edith must
first learn how this vaunted wight hath conducted himself, and we
must reserve the power of giving her ocular proof that he hath
failed in his duty. It may be a lesson will do good upon her;
for, credit me, Calista, I have sometimes thought she has let
this Northern adventurer sit nearer her heart than prudence would
sanction.

One of the other voices was then heard to mutter something of the
Lady Edith's prudence and wisdom.

Prudence, wench!was the reply. "It is mere prideand the
desire to be thought more rigid than any of us. NayI will not
quit my advantage. You know well that when she has us at fault
no one canin a civil waylay your error before you more
precisely than can my Lady Edith. But here she comes."

A figureas if entering the apartmentcast upon the partition a
shadewhich glided along slowly until it mixed with those which
already clouded it. Despite of the bitter disappointment which
he had experienced--despite the insult and injury with which it
seemed he had been visited by the maliceorat bestby the
idle humour of Queen Berengaria (for he already concluded that
she who spoke loudestand in a commanding tonewas the wife of
Richard)the knight felt something so soothing to his feelings
in learning that Edith had been no partner to the fraud practised
on himand so interesting to his curiosity in the scene which
was about to take placethatinstead of prosecuting his more
prudent purpose of an instant retreathe looked anxiouslyon
the contraryfor some rent or crevice by means of which be might
be made eye as well as ear witness to what was to go forward.

Surely,said he to himselfthe Queen, who hath been pleased
for an idle frolic to endanger my reputation, and perhaps my
life, cannot complain if I avail myself of the chance which
fortune seems willing to afford me to obtain knowledge of her
further intentions.

It seemedin the meanwhileas if Edith were waiting for the
commands of the Queenand as if the other were reluctant to
speak for fear of being unable to command her laughter and that
of her companions; for Sir Kenneth could only distinguish a sound
as of suppressed tittering and merriment.

Your Majesty,said Edith at lastseems in a merry mood,
though, methinks, the hour of night prompts a sleepy one. I was
well disposed bedward when I had your Majesty's commands to
attend you.

I will not long delay you, cousin, from your repose,said the
Queenthough I fear you will sleep less soundly when I tell you
your wager is lost.

Nay, royal madam,said Ediththis, surely, is dwelling on a
jest which has rather been worn out, I laid no wager, however it
was your Majesty's pleasure to suppose, or to insist, that I did
so.

Nay, now, despite our pilgrimage, Satan is strong with you, my
gentle cousin, and prompts thee to leasing. Can you deny that
you gaged your ruby ring against my golden bracelet that yonder
Knight of the Libbard, or how call you him, could not be seduced
from his post?


Your Majesty is too great for me to gainsay you,replied Edith
but these ladies can, if they will, bear me witness that it was
your Highness who proposed such a wager, and took the ring from
my finger, even while I was declaring that I did not think it
maidenly to gage anything on such a subject.

Nay, but, my Lady Edith,said another voiceyou must needs
grant, under your favour, that you expressed yourself very
confident of the valour of that same Knight of the Leopard.

And if I did, minion,said Edith angrilyis that a good
reason why thou shouldst put in thy word to flatter her Majesty's
humour? I spoke of that knight but as all men speak who have
seen him in the field, and had no more interest in defending than
thou in detracting from him. In a camp, what can women speak of
save soldiers and deeds of arms?

The noble Lady Edith,said a third voicehath never forgiven
Calista and me, since we told your Majesty that she dropped two
rosebuds in the chapel.

If your Majesty,said Edithin a tone which Sir Kenneth could
judge to be that of respectful remonstrancehave no other
commands for me than to hear the gibes of your waiting-women, I
must crave your permission to withdraw.

Silence, Florise,said the Queenand let not our indulgence
lead you to forget the difference betwixt yourself and the
kinswoman of England.--But you, my dear cousin,she continued
resuming her tone of railleryhow can you, who are so good-natured, begrudge us poor wretches a few
minutes' laughing, when
we have had so many days devoted to weeping and gnashing of
teeth?

Great be your mirth, royal lady,said Edith; "yet would I be
content not to smile for the rest of my liferather than--"

She stoppedapparently out of respect; but Sir Kenneth could
hear that she was in much agitation.

Forgive me,said Berengariaa thoughtless but good-humoured
princess of the House of Navarre; "but what is the great offence
after all? A young knight has been wiled hither--has stolenor
has been stolenfrom his postwhich no one will disturb in his
absence--for the sake of a fair lady; forto do your champion
justicesweet onethe wisdom of Nectabanus could conjure him
hither in no name but yours."

Gracious Heaven! your Majesty does not say so?said Edithin a
voice of alarm quite different from the agitation she had
previously evinced--"you cannot say so consistently with respect
for your own honour and for mineyour husband's kinswoman! Say
you were jesting with memy royal mistressand forgive me that
I couldeven for a momentthink it possible you could be in
earnest!"

The Lady Edith,said the Queenin a displeased tone of voice
regrets the ring we have won of her. We will restore the pledge
to you, gentle cousin; only you must not grudge us in turn a
little triumph over the wisdom which has been so often spread
over us, as a banner over a host.

A triumph!exclaimed Edith indignantly--"a triumph! The
triumph will be with the infidelwhen he hears that the Queen of


England can make the reputation of her husband's kinswoman the
subject of a light frolic."

You are angry, fair cousin, at losing your favourite ring,said
the Queen. "Comesince you grudge to pay your wagerwe will
renounce our right; it was your name and that pledge brought him
hitherand we care not for the bait after the fish is caught."

Madam,replied Edith impatientlyyou know well that your
Grace could not wish for anything of mine but it becomes
instantly yours. But I would give a bushel of rubies ere ring or
name of mine had been used to bring a brave man into a fault, and
perhaps to disgrace and punishment.

Oh, it is for the safety of our true knight that we fear!said
the Queen. "You rate our power too lowfair cousinwhen you
speak of a life being lost for a frolic of ours. O Lady Edith
others have influence on the iron breasts of warriors as well as
you--the heart even of a lion is made of fleshnot of stone;
andbelieve meI have interest enough with Richard to save this
knightin whose fate Lady Edith is so deeply concernedfrom the
penalty of disobeying his royal commands."

For the love of the blessed Cross, most royal lady,said Edith
--and Sir Kennethwith feelings which it were hard to unravel
heard her prostrate herself at the Queen's feet--"for the love of
our blessed Ladyand of every holy saint in the calendarbeware
what you do! You know not King Richard--you have been but shortly
wedded to him. Your breath might as well combat the west wind
when it is wildestas your words persuade my royal kinsman to
pardon a military offence. Ohfor God's sakedismiss this
gentlemanif indeed you have lured him hither! I could almost be
content to rest with the shame of having invited himdid I know
that he was returned again where his duty calls him!"

Arise, cousin, arise,said Queen Berengariaand be assured
all will be better than you think. Rise, dear Edith. I am sorry
I have played my foolery with a knight in whom you take such deep
interest. Nay, wring not thy hands; I will believe thou carest
not for him--believe anything rather than see thee look so
wretchedly miserable. I tell thee I will take the blame on
myself with King Richard in behalf of thy fair Northern friend
--thine acquaintance, I would say, since thou own'st him not as a
friend. Nay, look not so reproachfully. We will send Nectabanus
to dismiss this Knight of the Standard to his post; and we
ourselves will grace him on some future day, to make amends for
his wild-goose chase. He is, I warrant, but lying perdu in some
neighbouring tent.

By my crown of lilies, and my sceptre of a specially good water-reed,said Nectabanusyour Majesty is
mistaken, He is nearer
at hand than you wot--he lieth ensconced there behind that canvas
partition.

And within hearing of each word we have said!exclaimed the
Queenin her turn violently surprised and agitated. "Out
monster of folly and malignity!"

As she uttered these wordsNectabanus fled from the pavilion
with a yell of such a nature as leaves it still doubtful whether
Berengaria had confined her rebuke to wordsor added some more
emphatic expression of her displeasure.

What can now be done?said the Queen to Edithin a whisper of


undisguised uneasiness.

That which must,said Edith firmly. "We must see this
gentleman and place ourselves in his mercy."

So sayingshe began hastily to undo a curtainwhich at one
place covered an entrance or communication.

For Heaven's sake, forbear--consider,said the Queen--"my
apartment--our dress--the hour--my honour!"

But ere she could detail her remonstrancesthe curtain felland
there was no division any longer betwixt the armed knight and the
party of ladies. The warmth of an Eastern night occasioned the
undress of Queen Berengaria and her household to be rather more
simple and unstudied than their stationand the presence of a
male spectator of rankrequired. This the Queen rememberedand
with a loud shriek fled from the apartment where Sir Kenneth was
disclosed to view in a compartment of the ample pavilionnow no
longer separated from that in which they stood. The grief and
agitation of the Lady Edithas well as the deep interest she
felt in a hasty explanation with the Scottish knightperhaps
occasioned her forgetting that her locks were more dishevelled
and her person less heedfully covered than was the wont of high-born damselsin an age which was not
after allthe most
prudish or scrupulous period of the ancient time. A thinloose
garment of pink-coloured silk made the principal part of her
vestmentswith Oriental slippersinto which she had hastily
thrust her bare feetand a scarf hurriedly and loosely thrown
about her shoulders. Her head had no other covering than the
veil of rich and dishevelled locks falling round it on every
sidethat half hid a countenance which a mingled sense of
modesty and of resentmentand other deep and agitated feelings
had covered with crimson.

But although Edith felt her situation with all that delicacy
which is her sex's greatest charmit did not seem that for a
moment she placed her own bashfulness in comparison with the duty
whichas she thoughtshe owed to him who had been led into
error and danger on her account. She drewindeedher scarf
more closely over her neck and bosomand she hastily laid from
her hand a lamp which shed too much lustre over her figure; but
while Sir Kenneth stood motionless on the same spot in which he
was first discoveredshe rather stepped towards than retired
from himas she exclaimedHasten to your post, valiant
knight!--you are deceived in being trained hither--ask no
questions.

I need ask none,said the knightsinking upon one kneewith
the reverential devotion of a saint at the altarand bending his
eyes on the groundlest his looks should increase the lady's
embarrassment.

Have you heard all?said Edith impatiently. "Gracious saints!
then wherefore wait you herewhen each minute that passes is
loaded with dishonour!"

I have heard that I am dishonoured, lady, and I have heard it
from you,answered Kenneth. "What reck I how soon punishment
follows? I have but one petition to you; and then I seekamong
the sabres of the infidelswhether dishonour may not be washed
out with blood."

Do not so, neither,said the lady. "Be wise--dally not here;


all may yet be wellif you will but use dispatch."

I wait but for your forgiveness,said the knightstill
kneelingfor my presumption in believing that my poor services
could have been required or valued by you.

I do forgive you--oh, I have nothing to forgive! have been the
means of injuring you. But oh, begone! I will forgive--I will
value you--that is, as I value every brave Crusader--if you will
but begone!

Receive, first, this precious yet fatal pledge,said the
knighttendering the ring to Edithwho now showed gestures of
impatience.

Oh, no, no she saiddeclining to receive it. "Keep it--keep
it as a mark of my regard--my regretI would say. Ohbegone
if not for your own sakefor mine!"

Almost recompensed for the loss even of honourwhich her voice
had denounced to himby the interest which she seemed to testify
in his safetySir Kenneth rose from his kneeandcasting a
momentary glance on Edithbowed lowand seemed about to
withdraw. At the same instantthat maidenly bashfulnesswhich
the energy of Edith's feelings had till then triumphed over
became conqueror in its turnand she hastened from the
apartmentextinguishing her lamp as she wentand leavingin
Sir Kenneth's thoughtsboth mental and natural gloom behind her.

She must be obeyedwas the first distinct idea which waked him
from his reverieand he hastened to the place by which he had
entered the pavilion. To pass under the canvas in the manner he
had entered required time and attentionand he made a readier
aperture by slitting the canvas wall with his poniard. When in
the free airhe felt rather stupefied and overpowered by a
conflict of sensationsthan able to ascertain what was the real
import of the whole. He was obliged to spur himself to action by
recollecting that the commands of the Lady Edith had required
haste. Even thenengaged as he was amongst tent-ropes and
tentshe was compelled to move with caution until he should
regain the path or avenueaside from which the dwarf had led
himin order to escape the observation of the guards before the
Queen's pavilion; and he was obliged also to move slowlyand
with precautionto avoid giving an alarmeither by falling or
by the clashing of his armour. A thin cloud had obscured the
moontooat the very instant of his leaving the tentand Sir
Kenneth had to struggle with this inconvenience at a moment when
the dizziness of his head and the fullness of his heart scarce
left him powers of intelligence sufficient to direct his motions.

But at once sounds came upon his ear which instantly recalled him
to the full energy of his faculties. These proceeded from the
Mount of Saint George. He heard first a singlefierceangry
and savage barkwhich was immediately followed by a yell of
agony. No deer ever bounded with a wilder start at the voice of
Roswal than did Sir Kenneth at what he feared was the death-cry
of that noble houndfrom whom no ordinary injury could have
extracted even the slightest acknowledgment of pain. He
surmounted the space which divided him from the avenueand
having attained itbegan to run towards the mountalthough
loaded with his mailfaster than most men could have accompanied
him even if unarmedrelaxed not his pace for the steep sides of
the artificial moundand in a few minutes stood on the platform
upon its summit.


The moon broke forth at this momentand showed him that the
Standard of England was vanishedthat the spear on which it had
floated lay broken on the groundand beside it was his faithful
houndapparently in the agonies of death.


CHAPTER XIV.


All my long arrear of honour lost
Heap'd up in youthand hoarded up for age.
Hath Honour's fountain then suck'd up the stream?
He hath--and hooting boys may barefoot pass
And gather pebbles from the naked ford! DON SEBASTIAN.


After a torrent of afflicting sensationsby which he was at
first almost stunned and confoundedSir Kenneth's first thought
was to look for the authors of this violation of the English
banner; but in no direction could he see traces of them. His
nextwhich to some personsbut scarce to any who have made
intimate acquaintances among the canine racemay appear strange
was to examine the condition of his faithful Roswalmortally
woundedas it seemedin discharging the duty which his master
had been seduced to abandon. He caressed the dying animalwho
faithful to the lastseemed to forget his own pain in the
satisfaction he received from his master's presenceand
continued wagging his tail and licking his handeven while by
low moanings he expressed that his agony was increased by the
attempts which Sir Kenneth made to withdraw from the wound the
fragment of the lance or javelin with which it had been
inflicted; then redoubled his feeble endearmentsas if fearing
he had offended his master by showing a sense of the pain to
which his interference had subjected him. There was something in
the display of the dying creature's attachment which mixed as a
bitter ingredient with the sense of disgrace and desolation by
which Sir Kenneth was oppressed. His only friend seemed removed
from himjust when he had incurred the contempt and hatred of
all besides. The knight's strength of mind gave way to a burst
of agonized distressand he groaned and wept aloud.


While he thus indulged his griefa clear and solemn voiceclose
beside himpronounced these words in the sonorous tone of the
readers of the mosqueand in the lingua franca mutually
understood by Christians and Saracens:--


Adversity is like the period of the former and of the latter
rain--cold, comfortless, unfriendly to man and to animal; yet
from that season have their birth the flower and the fruit, the
date, the rose, and the pomegranate.


Sir Kenneth of the Leopard turned towards the speakerand beheld
the Arabian physicianwhoapproaching unheardhad seated
himself a little behind him cross-leggedand uttered with
gravityyet not without a tone of sympathythe moral sentences
of consolation with which the Koran and its commentators supplied


him; forin the Eastwisdom is held to consist less in a
display of the sage's own inventive talentsthan in his ready
memory and happy application of and reference to "that which is
written."


Ashamed at being surprised in a womanlike expression of sorrow
Sir Kenneth dashed his tears indignantly asideand again busied



himself with his dying favourite.

The poet hath said,continued the Arabwithout noticing the
knight's averted looks and sullen deportmentthe ox for the
field, and the camel for the desert. Were not the hand of the
leech fitter than that of the soldier to cure wounds, though less
able to inflict them?

This patient, Hakim, is beyond thy help,said Sir Kenneth;
and, besides, he is, by thy law, an unclean animal.

Where Allah hath deigned to bestow life, and a sense of pain and
pleasure,said the physicianit were sinful pride should the
sage, whom He has enlightened, refuse to prolong existence or
assuage agony. To the sage, the cure of a miserable groom, of a
poor dog and of a conquering monarch, are events of little
distinction. Let me examine this wounded animal.

Sir Kenneth acceded in silenceand the physician inspected and
handled Roswal's wound with as much care and attention as if he
had been a human being. He then took forth a case of
instrumentsandby the judicious and skilful application of
pincerswithdrew from the wounded shoulder the fragment of the
weaponand stopped with styptics and bandages the effusion of
blood which followed; the creature all the while suffering him
patiently to perform these kind officesas if he had been aware
of his kind intentions.

The animal may be cured,said El Hakimaddressing himself to
Sir Kennethif you will permit me to carry him to my tent, and
treat him with the care which the nobleness of his nature
deserves. For know, that thy servant Adonbec is no less skilful
in the race and pedigree and distinctions of good dogs and of
noble steeds than in the diseases which afflict the human race.

Take him with you,said the knight. "I bestow him on you
freelyif he recovers. I owe thee a reward for attendance on my
squireand have nothing else to pay it with. For myselfI will
never again wind bugle or halloo to hound!"

The Arabian made no replybut gave a signal with a clapping of
his handswhich was instantly answered by the appearance of two
black slaves. He gave them his orders in Arabicreceived the
answer that "to hear was to obey when, taking the animal in
their arms, they removed him, without much resistance on his
part; for though his eyes turned to his master, he was too weak
to struggle.

Fare thee wellRoswalthen said Sir Kenneth--fare thee
wellmy last and only friend--thou art too noble a possession to
be retained by one such as I must in future call myself!--I
would he said, as the slaves retired, thatdying as he isI
could exchange conditions with that noble animal!"

It is written,answered the Arabianalthough the exclamation
had not been addressed to himthat all creatures are fashioned
for the service of man; and the master of the earth speaketh
folly when he would exchange, in his impatience, his hopes here
and to come for the servile condition of an inferior being.

A dog who dies in discharging his duty,said the knight
sternlyis better than a man who survives the desertion of it.
Leave me, Hakim; thou hast, on this side of miracle, the most
wonderful science which man ever possessed, but the wounds of the


spirit are beyond thy power.

Not if the patient will explain his calamity, and be guided by
the physician,said Adonbec el Hakim.

Know, then,said Sir Kennethsince thou art so importunate,
that last night the Banner of England was displayed from this
mound--I was its appointed guardian--morning is now breaking-there
lies the broken banner-spear, the standard itself is lost,
and here sit I a living man!

How!said El Hakimexamining him; "thy armour is whole--there
is no blood on thy weaponsand report speaks thee one unlikely
to return thus from fight. Thou hast been trained from thy post
--aytrained by the rosy cheek and black eye of one of those
houristo whom you Nazarenes vow rather such service as is due
to Allahthan such love as may lawfully be rendered to forms of
clay like our own. It has been thus assuredly; for so hath man
ever falleneven since the days of Sultan Adam."

And if it were so, physician,said Sir Kenneth sullenlywhat
remedy?

Knowledge is the parent of power,said El Hakimas valour
supplies strength. Listen to me. Man is not as a tree, bound to
one spot of earth; nor is he framed to cling to one bare rock,
like the scarce animated shell-fish. Thine own Christian
writings command thee, when persecuted in one city, to flee to
another; and we Moslem also know that Mohammed, the Prophet of
Allah, driven forth from the holy city of Mecca, found his refuge
and his helpmates at Medina.

And what does this concern me?said the Scot.

Much,answered the physician. "Even the sage flies the tempest
which he cannot control. Use thy speedthereforeand fly from
the vengeance of Richard to the shadow of Saladin's victorious
banner."

I might indeed hide my dishonour,said Sir Kenneth ironically
in a camp of infidel heathens, where the very phrase is unknown.
But had I not better partake more fully in their reproach? Does
not thy advice stretch so far as to recommend me to take the
turban? Methinks I want but apostasy to consummate my infamy.

Blaspheme not, Nazarene,said the physician sternly. "Saladin
makes no converts to the law of the Prophetsave those on whom
its precepts shall work conviction. Open thine eyes to the
lightand the great Soldanwhose liberality is as boundless as
his powermay bestow on thee a kingdom; remain blinded if thou
willandbeing one whose second life is doomed to misery
Saladin will yetfor this span of present timemake thee rich
and happy. But fear not that thy brows shall be bound with the
turbansave at thine own free choice."

My choice were rather,said the knightthat my writhen
features should blacken, as they are like to do, in this
evening's setting sun.

Yet thou art not wise, Nazarene,said El Hakimto reject this
fair offer; for I have power with Saladin, and can raise thee
high in his grace. Look you, my son--this Crusade, as you call
your wild enterprise, is like a large dromond [The largest sort
of vessels then known were termed dromond's, or dromedaries.]


parting asunder in the waves. Thou thyself hast borne terms of
truce from the kings and princes, whose force is here assembled,
to the mighty Soldan, and knewest not, perchance, the full tenor
of thine own errand.

I knew not, and I care not,said the knight impatiently. "What
avails it to me that I have been of late the envoy of princes
whenere nightI shall be a gibbeted and dishonoured corpse?"

Nay, I speak that it may not be so with thee,said the
physician. "Saladin is courted on all sides. The combined
princes of this league formed against him have made such
proposals of composition and peaceasin other circumstances
it might have become his honour to have granted to them. Others
have made private offerson their own separate accountto
disjoin their forces from the camp of the Kings of Frangistan
and even to lend their arms to the defence of the standard of the
Prophet. But Saladin will not be served by such treacherous and
interested defection. The king of kings will treat only with the
Lion King. Saladin will hold treaty with none but the Melech
Ricand with him he will treat like a princeor fight like a
champion. To Richard he will yield such conditions of his free
liberality as the swords of all Europe could never compel from
him by force or terror. He will permit a free pilgrimage to
Jerusalemand all the places where the Nazarenes list to
worship; nayhe will so far share even his empire with his
brother Richardthat he will allow Christian garrisons in the
six strongest cities of Palestineand one in Jerusalem itself
and suffer them to be under the immediate command of the officers
of Richardwhohe consentsshall bear the name of King
Guardian of Jerusalem. Yet furtherstrange and incredible as
you may think itknowSir Knight--for to your honour I can
commit even that almost incredible secret--know that Saladin will
put a sacred seal on this happy union betwixt the bravest and
noblest of Frangistan and Asiaby raising to the rank of his
royal spouse a Christian damselallied in blood to King Richard
and known by the name of the Lady Edith of Plantagenet." [This
may appear so extraordinary and improbable a proposition that it
is necessary to say such a one was actually made. The
historianshoweversubstitute the widowed Queen of Naples
sister of Richardfor the brideand Saladin's brother for the
bridegroom. They appear to have been ignorant of the existence
of Edith of Plantagenet.--See MILL'S History of the Crusades
vol. ii.p. 61.]

Ha!--sayest thou?exclaimed Sir Kennethwholistening with
indifference and apathy to the preceding part of El Hakim's
speechwas touched by this last communicationas the thrill of
a nerveunexpectedly jarredwill awaken the sensation of agony
even in the torpor of palsy. Thenmoderating his toneby dint
of much effort he restrained his indignationandveiling it
under the appearance of contemptuous doubthe prosecuted the
conversationin order to get as much knowledge as possible of
the plotas he deemed itagainst the honour and happiness of
her whom he loved not the less that his passion had ruined
apparentlyhis fortunesat onceand his honour.--"And what
Christian he said, With tolerable calmness, would sanction a
union so unnatural as that of a Christian maiden with an
unbelieving Saracen?"

Thou art but an ignorant, bigoted Nazarene,said the Hakim.
Seest thou not how the Mohammedan princes daily intermarry with
the noble Nazarene maidens in Spain, without scandal either to
Moor or Christian? And the noble Soldan will, in his full


confidence in the blood of Richard, permit the English maid the
freedom which your Frankish manners have assigned to women. He
will allow her the free exercise of her religion, seeing that, in
very truth, it signifies but little to which faith females are
addicted; and he will assign her such place and rank over all the
women of his zenana, that she shall be in every respect his sole
and absolute queen.

What!said Sir Kennethdarest thou think, Moslem, that
Richard would give his kinswoman--a high-born and virtuous
princess--to be, at best, the foremost concubine in the haram of
a misbeliever? Know, Hakim, the meanest free Christian noble
would scorn, on his child's behalf, such splendid ignominy.

Thou errest,said the Hakim. "Philip of Franceand Henry of
Champagneand others of Richard's principal allieshave heard
the proposal without startingand have promisedas far as they
mayto forward an alliance that may end these wasteful wars; and
the wise arch-priest of Tyre hath undertaken to break the
proposal to Richardnot doubting that he shall be able to bring
the plan to good issue. The Soldan's wisdom hath as yet kept his
proposition secret from otherssuch as he of Montserratand the
Master of the Templarsbecause he knows they seek to thrive by
Richard's death or disgracenot by his life or honour. Up
thereforeSir Knightand to horse. I will give thee a scroll
which shall advance thee highly with the Soldan; and deem not
that you are leaving your countryor her causeor her religion
since the interest of the two monarchs will speedily be the same.
To Saladin thy counsel will be most acceptablesince thou canst
make him aware of much concerning the marriages of the
Christiansthe treatment of their wivesand other points of
their laws and usageswhichin the course of such treatyit
much concerns him that he should know. The right hand of the
Soldan grasps the treasures of the Eastand it is the fountain
or generosity. Orif thou desirest itSaladinwhen allied
with Englandcan have but little difficulty to obtain from
Richardnot only thy pardon and restoration to favourbut an
honourable command in the troops which may be left of the King of
England's hostto maintain their joint government in Palestine.
Upthenand mount--there lies a plain path before thee."

Hakim,said the Scottish knightthou art a man of peace; also
thou hast saved the life of Richard of England--and, moreover, of
my own poor esquire, Strauchan. I have, therefore, heard to an
end a matter which, being propounded by another Moslem than
thyself, I would have cut short with a blow of my dagger! Hakim,
in return for thy kindness, I advise thee to see that the Saracen
who shall propose to Richard a union betwixt the blood of
Plantagenet and that of his accursed race do put on a helmet
which is capable to endure such a blow of a battle-axe as that
which struck down the gate of Acre. Certes, he will be otherwise
placed beyond the reach even of thy skill.

Thou art, then, wilfully determined not to fly to the Saracen
host?said the physician. "Yetrememberthou stayest to
certain destruction; and the writings of thy lawas well as
oursprohibit man from breaking into the tabernacle of his own
life."

God forbid!replied the Scotcrossing himself; "but we are
also forbidden to avoid the punishment which our crimes have
deserved. And since so poor are thy thoughts of fidelityHakim
it grudges me that I have bestowed my good hound on theefor
should he livehe will have a master ignorant of his value."


A gift that is begrudged is already recalled,said El Hakim;
only we physicians are sworn not to send away a patient uncured.
If the dog recover, he is once more yours.


Go to, Hakim,answered Sir Kenneth; "men speak not of hawk and
hound when there is but an hour of day-breaking betwixt them and
death. Leave me to recollect my sinsand reconcile myself to
Heaven."


I leave thee in thine obstinacy,said the physician; "the mist
hides the precipice from those who are doomed to fall over it."


He withdrew slowlyturning from time to time his headas if to
observe whether the devoted knight might not recall him either by
word or signal. At last his turbaned figure was lost among the
labyrinth of tents which lay extended beneathwhitening in the
pale light of the dawningbefore which the moonbeam had now
faded away.


But although the physician Adonbec's words had not made that
impression upon Kenneth which the sage desiredthey had inspired
the Scot with a motive for desiring lifewhichdishonoured as
he conceived himself to behe was before willing to part from as
from a sullied vestment no longer becoming his wear. Much that
had passed betwixt himself and the hermitbesides what he had
observed between the anchorite and Sheerkohf (or Ilderim)he now
recalled to recollectionand tended to confirm what the Hakim
had told him of the secret article of the treaty.


The reverend impostor!he exclaimed to himself; "the hoary
hypocrite! He spoke of the unbelieving husband converted by the
believing wife; and what do I know but that the traitor exhibited
to the Saracenaccursed of Godthe beauties of Edith
Plantagenetthat the hound might judge if the princely Christian
lady were fit to be admitted into the haram of a misbeliever? If
I had yonder infidel Ilderimor whatsoever he is calledagain
in the gripe with which I once held him fast as ever hound held
harenever again should HE at least come on errand disgraceful
to the honour of Christian king or noble and virtuous maiden.
But I--my hours are fast dwindling into minutes--yetwhile I
have life and breathsomething must be doneand speedily."


He paused for a few minutesthrew from him his helmetthen
strode down the hilland took the road to King Richard's
pavilion.


CHAPTER XV.


The feather'd songsterchanticleer
Had wound his bugle-horn
And told the early villager
The coming of the morn.
King Edward saw the ruddy streaks
Of light eclipse the grey
And heard the raven's croaking throat
Proclaim the fated day.
Thou'rt right,he saidfor, by the God
That sits enthron'd on high,
Charles Baldwin, and his fellows twain,
This day shall surely die.CHATTERTON.



On the evening on which Sir Kenneth assumed his postRichard
after the stormy event which disturbed its tranquillityhad
retired to rest in the plenitude of confidence inspired by his
unbounded courage and the superiority which he had displayed in
carrying the point he aimed at in presence of the whole Christian
host and its leadersmany of whomhe was awareregarded in
their secret souls the disgrace of the Austrian Duke as a triumph
over themselves; so that his pride felt gratifiedthat in
prostrating one enemy he had mortified a hundred.

Another monarch would have doubled his guards on the evening
after such a sceneand kept at least a part of his troops under
arms. But Coeur de Lion dismissedupon the occasioneven his
ordinary watchand assigned to his soldiers a donative of wine
to celebrate his recoveryand to drink to the Banner of Saint
George; and his quarter of the camp would have assumed a
character totally devoid of vigilance and military preparation
but that Sir Thomas de Vauxthe Earl of Salisburyand other
noblestook precautions to preserve order and discipline among
the revellers.

The physician attended the King from his retiring to bed till
midnight was pastand twice administered medicine to him during
that periodalways previously observing the quarter of heaven
occupied by the full moonwhose influences he declared to be
most sovereignor most balefulto the effect of his drugs. It
was three hours after midnight ere El Hakim withdrew from the
royal tentto one which had been pitched for himself and his
retinue. In his way thither he visited the tent of Sir Kenneth
of the Leopardin order to see the condition of his first
patient in the Christian campold Strauchanas the knight's
esquire was named. Inquiring there for Sir Kenneth himselfEl
Hakim learned on what duty he was employedand probably this
information led him to Saint George's Mountwhere he found him
whom he sought in the disastrous circumstances alluded to in the
last chapter.

It was about the hour of sunrisewhen a slowarmed tread was
heard approaching the King's pavilion; and ere De Vauxwho
slumbered beside his master's bed as lightly as ever sleep sat
upon the eyes of a watch-doghad time to do more than arise and
sayWho comes?the Knight of the Leopard entered the tent
with a deep and devoted gloom seated upon his manly features.

Whence this bold intrusion, Sir Knight?said De Vaux sternly
yet in a tone which respected his master's slumbers.

Hold! De Vaux,said Richardawaking on the instant; "Sir
Kenneth cometh like a good soldier to render an account of his
guard. To such the general's tent is ever accessible." Then
rising from his slumbering postureand leaning on his elbowhe
fixed his large bright eye upon the warrior--"SpeakSir Scot;
thou comest to tell me of a vigilantsafeand honourable watch
dost thou not? The rustling of the folds of the Banner of
England were enough to guard iteven without the body of such a
knight as men hold thee."

As men will hold me no more,said Sir Kenneth. "My watch hath
neither been vigilantsafenor honourable. The Banner of
England has been carried off."

And thou alive to tell it!said Richardin a tone of derisive
incredulity. "Awayit cannot be. There is not even a scratch
on thy face. Why dost thou stand thus mute? Speak the truth


--it is ill jesting with a king; yet I will forgive thee if thou
hast lied."

Lied, Sir King!returned the unfortunate knightwith fierce
emphasisand one glance of fire from his eyebright and
transient as the flash from the cold and stony flint. "But this
also must be endured. I have spoken the truth."

By God and by Saint George!said the Kingbursting into fury
whichhoweverhe instantly checked. "De Vauxgo view the
spot. This fever has disturbed his brain. This cannot be. The
man's courage is proof. It CANNOT be! Go speedily--or sendif
thou wilt not go."

The King was interrupted by Sir Henry Nevillewho came
breathlessto say that the banner was goneand the knight who
guarded it overpoweredand most probably murderedas there was
a pool of blood where the banner-spear lay shivered.

But whom do I see here?said Nevillehis eyes suddenly
resting upon Sir Kenneth.

A traitor,said the Kingstarting to his feetand seizing the
curtal-axewhich was ever near his bed--"a traitor! whom thou
shalt see die a traitor's death." And he drew back the weapon as
in act to strike.

Colourlessbut firm as a marble statuethe Scot stood before
himwith his bare head uncovered by any protectionhis eyes
cast down to the earthhis lips scarcely movingyet muttering
probably in prayer. Opposite to himand within the due reach
for a blowstood King Richardhis large person wrapt in the
folds of his camisciaor ample gown of linenexcept where the
violence of his action had flung the covering from his right arm
shoulderand a part of his breastleaving to view a specimen of
a frame which might have merited his Saxon predecessor's epithet
of Ironside. He stood for an instantprompt to strike; then
sinking the head of the weapon towards the groundhe exclaimed
But there was blood, Neville--there was blood upon the place.
Hark thee, Sir Scot--brave thou wert once, for I have seen thee
fight. Say thou hast slain two of the thieves in defence of the
Standard--say but one--say thou hast struck but a good blow in
our behalf, and get thee out of the camp with thy life and thy
infamy!

You have called me liar, my Lord King,replied Kenneth firmly;
and therein, at least, you have done me wrong. Know that there
was no blood shed in defence of the Standard save that of a poor
hound, which, more faithful than his master, defended the charge
which he deserted.

Now, by Saint George!said Richardagain heaving up his arm.
But De Vaux threw himself between the King and the object of his
vengeanceand spoke with the blunt truth of his characterMy
liege, this must not be--here, nor by your hand. It is enough of
folly for one night and day to have entrusted your banner to a
Scot. Said I not they were ever fair and false?[Such were the
terms in which the English used to speak of their poor northern
neighboursforgetting that their own encroachments upon the
independence of Scotland obliged the weaker nation to defend
themselves by policy as well as force. The disgrace must be
divided between Edward I. and Edward III.who enforced their
domination over a free countryand the Scotswho were compelled
to take compulsory oathswithout any purpose of keeping them.]


Thou didst, De Vaux; thou wast right, and I confess it,said
Richard. "I should have known him better--I should have
remembered how the fox William deceived me touching this
Crusade."

My lord,said Sir KennethWilliam of Scotland never deceived;
but circumstances prevented his bringing his forces.

Peace, shameless!said the King; "thou sulliest the name of a
princeeven by speaking it.--And yetDe Vauxit is strange
he added, to see the bearing of the man. Coward or traitor he
must beyet he abode the blow of Richard Plantagenet as our arm
had been raised to lay knighthood on his shoulder. Had he shown
the slightest sign of fearhad but a joint trembled or an eyelid
quiveredI had shattered his head like a crystal goblet. But I
cannot strike where there is neither fear nor resistance."

There was a pause.

My lord,said Kenneth-


Ha!replied Richardinterrupting himhast thou found thy
speech? Ask grace from Heaven, but none from me; for England is
dishonoured through thy fault, and wert thou mine own and only
brother, there is no pardon for thy fault.

I speak not to demand grace of mortal man,said the Scot; "it
is in your Grace's pleasure to give or refuse me time for
Christian shrift--if man denies itmay God grant me the
absolution which I would otherwise ask of His church! But
whether I die on the instantor half an hour henceI equally
beseech your Grace for one moment's opportunity to speak that to
your royal person which highly concerns your fame as a Christian
king."

Say on,said the Kingmaking no doubt that he was about to
hear some confession concerning the loss of the Banner.

What I have to speak,said Sir Kennethtouches the royalty of
England, and must be said to no ears but thine own.

Begone with yourselves, sirs,said the King to Neville and De
Vaux.

The first obeyedbut the latter would not stir from the King's
presence.

If you said I was in the right,replied De Vaux to his
sovereignI will be treated as one should be who hath been
found to be right--that is, I will have my own will. I leave you
not with this false Scot.

How! De Vaux,said Richard angrilyand stamping slightly
darest thou not venture our person with one traitor?

It is in vain you frown and stamp, my lord,said De Vaux; "I
venture not a sick man with a sound onea naked man with one
armed in proof."

It matters not,said the Scottish knight; "I seek no excuse to
put off time. I will speak in presence of the Lord of Gilsland.
He is good lord and true."


But half an hour since,said De Vauxwith a groanimplying a
mixture of sorrow and vexationand I had said as much for
thee!

There is treason around you, King of England,continued Sir
Kenneth.

It may well be as thou sayest,replied Richard; "I have a
pregnant example."

Treason that will injure thee more deeply than the loss of a
hundred banners in a pitched field. The--the--Sir Kenneth
hesitatedand at length continuedin a lower toneThe Lady
Edith--

Ha!said the Kingdrawing himself suddenly into a state of
haughty attentionand fixing his eye firmly on the supposed
criminal; "what of her? what of her? What has she to do with
this matter?"

My lord,said the Scotthere is a scheme on foot to disgrace
your royal lineage, by bestowing the hand of the Lady Edith on
the Saracen Soldan, and thereby to purchase a peace most
dishonourable to Christendom, by an alliance most shameful to
England.

This communication had precisely the contrary effect from that
which Sir Kenneth expected. Richard Plantagenet was one of those
whoin Iago's wordswould not serve God because it was the
devil who bade him; advice or information often affected him less
according to its real importthan through the tinge which it
took from the supposed character and views of those by whom it
was communicated. Unfortunatelythe mention of his relative's
name renewed his recollection of what he had considered as
extreme presumption in the Knight of the Leopardeven when he
stood high in the roll of chivalrybut whichin his present
conditionappeared an insult sufficient to drive the fiery
monarch into a frenzy of passion.

Silence,he saidinfamous and audacious! By Heaven, I will
have thy tongue torn out with hot pincers, for mentioning the
very name of a noble Christian damsel! Know, degenerate traitor,
that I was already aware to what height thou hadst dared to raise
thine eyes, and endured it, though it were insolence, even when
thou hadst cheated us--for thou art all a deceit--into holding
thee as of some name and fame. But now, with lips blistered with
the confession of thine own dishonour--that thou shouldst NOW
dare to name our noble kinswoman as one in whose fate thou hast
part or interest! What is it to thee if she marry Saracen or
Christian? What is it to thee if, in a camp where princes turn
cowards by day and robbers by night--where brave knights turn to
paltry deserters and traitors--what is it, I say, to thee, or any
one, if I should please to ally myself to truth and to valour, in
the person of Saladin?

Little to me, indeed, to whom all the world will soon be as
nothing,answered Sir Kenneth boldly; "but were I now stretched
on the rackI would tell thee that what I have said is much to
thine own conscience and thine own fame. I tell theeSir King
that if thou dost but in thought entertain the purpose of wedding
thy kinswomanthe Lady Edith--"

Name her not--and for an instant think not of her,said the
Kingagain straining the curtal-axe in his gripeuntil the


muscles started above his brawny armlike cordage formed by the
ivy around the limb of an oak.

Not name--not think of her!answered Sir Kennethhis spirits
stunned as they were by self-depressionbeginning to recover
their elasticity from this species of controversy. "Nowby the
Crosson which I place my hopeher name shall be the last word
in my mouthher image the last thought in my mind. Try thy
boasted strength on this bare browand see if thou canst prevent
my purpose."

He will drive me mad!said Richardwhoin his despitewas
once more staggered in his purpose by the dauntless determination
of the criminal.

Ere Thomas of Gilsland could replysome bustle was heard
withoutand the arrival of the Queen was announced from the
outer part of the pavilion.

Detain her--detain her, Neville,cried the King; "this is no
sight for women.--Fiethat I have suffered such a paltry traitor
to chafe me thus!--Away with himDe Vaux he whispered,
through the back entrance of our tent; coop him up closeand
answer for his safe custody with your life. And hark ye--he is
presently to die--let him have a ghostly father--we would not
kill soul and body. And stay--hark thee--we will not have him
dishonoured--he shall die knightlikein his belt and spurs; for
if his treachery be as black as hellhis boldness may match that
of the devil himself."

De Vauxright gladif the truth may be guessedthat the scene
ended without Richard's descending to the unkingly act of himself
slaying an unresisting prisonermade haste to remove Sir Kenneth
by a private issue to a separate tentwhere he was disarmedand
put in fetters for security. De Vaux looked on with a steady and
melancholy attentionwhile the provost's officersto whom Sir
Kenneth was now committedtook these severe precautions.

When they were endedhe said solemnly to the unhappy criminal
It is King Richard's pleasure that you die undegraded--without
mutilation of your body, or shame to your arms--and that your
head be severed from the trunk by the sword of the executioner.

It is kind,said the knightin a low and rather submissive
tone of voiceas one who received an unexpected favour; "my
family will not then hear the worst of the tale. Ohmy father
--my father!"

This muttered invocation did not escape the blunt but kindly-natured Englishmanand he brushed the back
of his large hand
over his rough features ere he could proceed.

It is Richard of England's further pleasure,he said at length
that you have speech with a holy man; and I have met on the
passage hither with a Carmelite friar, who may fit you for your
passage. He waits without, until you are in a frame of mind to
receive him.

Let it be instantly,said the knight. "In this also Richard is
kind. I cannot be more fit to see the good father at any time
than now; for life and I have taken farewellas two travellers
who have arrived at the crosswaywhere their roads separate."

It is well,said De Vaux slowly and solemnly; "for it irks me


somewhat to say that which sums my message. It is King Richard's
pleasure that you prepare for instant death."


God's pleasure and the King's be done,replied the knight
patiently. "I neither contest the justice of the sentencenor
desire delay of the execution."


De Vaux began to leave the tentbut very slowly--paused at the
doorand looked back at the Scotfrom whose aspect thoughts of
the world seemed banishedas if he was composing himself into
deep devotion. The feelings of the stout English baron were in
general none of the most acuteand yeton the present occasion
his sympathy overpowered him in an unusual manner. He came
hastily back to the bundle of reeds on which the captive lay
took one of his fettered handsand saidwith as much softness
as his rough voice was capable of expressingSir Kenneth, thou
art yet young--thou hast a father. My Ralph, whom I left
training his little galloway nag on the banks of the Irthing, may
one day attain thy years, and, but for last night, would to God I
saw his youth bear such promise as thine! Can nothing be said or
done in thy behalf?


Nothing,was the melancholy answer. "I have deserted my
charge--the banner entrusted to me is lost. When the headsman
and block are preparedthe head and trunk are ready to part
company."


Nay, then, God have mercy!said De Vaux. "Yet would I rather
than my best horse I had taken that watch myself. There is
mystery in ityoung manas a plain man may descrythough he
cannot see through it. Cowardice? Pshaw! No coward ever fought
as I have seen thee do. Treachery? I cannot think traitors die
in their treason so calmly. Thou hast been trained from thy post
by some deep guile--some well-devised stratagem--the cry of some
distressed maiden has caught thine earor the laughful look of
some merry one has taken thine eye. Never blush for it; we have
all been led aside by such gear. ComeI pray theemake a clean
conscience of it to meinstead of the priest. Richard is
merciful when his mood is abated. Hast thou nothing to entrust
to me?"


The unfortunate knight turned his face from the kind warriorand
answeredNOTHING.


And De Vauxwho had exhausted his topics of persuasionarose
and left the tentwith folded armsand in melancholy deeper
than he thought the occasion merited--even angry with himself to
find that so simple a matter as the death of a Scottish man could
affect him so nearly.


Yet,as he said to himselfthough the rough-footed knaves be
our enemies in Cumberland, in Palestine one almost considers them
as brethren.


CHAPTER XVI.


'Tis not her sensefor sure in that
There's nothing more than common;
And all her wit is only chat
Like any other woman. SONG.


The high-born Berengariadaughter of SanchezKing of Navarre



and the Queen-Consort of the heroic Richardwas accounted one of
the most beautiful women of the period. Her form was slight
though exquisitely moulded. She was graced with a complexion not
common in her countrya profusion of fair hairand features so
extremely juvenile as to make her look several years younger than
she really wasthough in reality she was not above one-and-twenty. Perhaps it was under the consciousness
of this extremely
juvenile appearance that she affectedor at least practiseda
little childish petulance and wilfulness of mannernot
unbefittingshe might supposea youthful bridewhose rank and
age gave her a right to have her fantasies indulged and attended
to. She was by nature perfectly good-humouredand if her due
share of admiration and homage (in her opinion a very large one)
was duly resigned to herno one could possess better temper or a
more friendly disposition; but thenlike all despotsthe more
power that was voluntarily yielded to herthe more she desired
to extend her sway. Sometimeseven when all her ambition was
gratifiedshe chose to be a little out of healthand a little
out of spirits; and physicians had to toil their wits to invent
names for imaginary maladieswhile her ladies racked their
imagination for new gamesnew head-gearand new court-scandal
to pass away those unpleasant hoursduring which their own
situation was scarce to be greatly envied. Their most frequent
resource for diverting this malady was some trick or piece of
mischief practised upon each other; and the good Queenin the
buoyancy of her reviving spiritswasto speak truthrather too
indifferent whether the frolics thus practised were entirely
befitting her own dignityor whether the pain which those
suffered upon whom they were inflicted was not beyond the
proportion of pleasure which she herself derived from them. She
was confident in her husband's favourin her high rankand in
her supposed power to make good whatever such pranks might cost
others. In a wordshe gambolled with the freedom of a young
lionesswho is unconscious of the weight of her own paws when
laid on those whom she sports with.

The Queen Berengaria loved her husband passionatelybut she
feared the loftiness and roughness of his character; and as she
felt herself not to be his match in intellectwas not much
pleased to see that he would often talk with Edith Plantagenet in
preference to herselfsimply because he found more amusement in
her conversationa more comprehensive understandingand a more
noble cast of thoughts and sentimentsthan his beautiful consort
exhibited. Berengaria did not hate Edith on this accountfar
less meditate her any harm; forallowing for some selfishness
her character wason the wholeinnocent and generous. But the
ladies of her trainsharpsighted in such mattershad for some
time discovered that a poignant jest at the expense of the Lady
Edith was a specific for relieving her Grace of England's low
spiritsand the discovery saved their imagination much toil.

There was something ungenerous in thisbecause the Lady Edith
was understood to be an orphan; and though she was called
Plantagenetand the fair Maid of Anjouand admitted by Richard
to certain privileges only granted to the royal familyand held
her place in the circle accordinglyyet few knewand none
acquainted with the Court of England ventured to askin what
exact degree of relationship she stood to Coeur de Lion. She had
come with Eleanorthe celebrated Queen Mother of Englandand
joined Richard at Messinaas one of the ladies destined to
attend on Berengariawhose nuptials then approached. Richard
treated his kinswoman with much respectful observanceand the
Queen made her her most constant attendantandeven in despite
of the petty jealousy which we have observedtreated her


generallywith suitable respect.

The ladies of the household hadfor a long timeno further
advantage over Edith than might be afforded by an opportunity of
censuring a less artfully disposed head attire or an unbecoming
robe; for the lady was judged to be inferior in these mysteries.
The silent devotion of the Scottish knight did notindeedpass
unnoticed; his liverieshis cognizanceshis feats of armshis
mottoes and deviceswere nearly watchedand occasionally made
the subject of a passing jest. But then came the pilgrimage of
the Queen and her ladies to Engaddia journey which the Queen
had undertaken under a vow for the recovery of her husband's
healthand which she had been encouraged to carry into effect by
the Archbishop of Tyre for a political purpose. It was thenand
in the chapel at that holy placeconnected from above with a
Carmelite nunneryfrom beneath with the cell of the anchorite
that one of the Queen's attendants remarked that secret sign of
intelligence which Edith had made to her loverand failed not
instantly to communicate it to her Majesty. The Queen returned
from her pilgrimage enriched with this admirable recipe against
dullness or ennui; and her train was at the same time augmented
by a present of two wretched dwarfs from the dethroned Queen of
Jerusalemas deformed and as crazy (the excellence of that
unhappy species) as any Queen could have desired. One of
Berengaria's idle amusements had been to try the effect of the
sudden appearance of such ghastly and fantastic forms on the
nerves of the Knight when left alone in the chapel; but the jest
had been lost by the composure of the Scot and the interference
of the anchorite. She had now tried anotherof which the
consequences promised to be more serious.

The ladies again met after Sir Kenneth had retired from the tent
and the Queenat first little moved by Edith's angry
expostulationsonly replied to her by upbraiding her prudery
and by indulging her wit at the expense of the garbnationand
above all the poverty of the Knight of the Leopardin which she
displayed a good deal of playful malicemingled with some
humouruntil Edith was compelled to carry her anxiety to her
separate apartment. But whenin the morninga female whom
Edith had entrusted to make inquiry brought word that the
Standard was missingand its champion vanishedshe burst into
the Queen's apartmentand implored her to rise and proceed to
the King's tent without delayand use her powerful mediation to
prevent the evil consequences of her jest.

The Queenfrightened in her turncastas is usualthe blame
of her own folly on those around herand endeavoured to comfort
Edith's griefand appease her displeasureby a thousand
inconsistent arguments. She was sure no harm had chanced--the
knight was sleepingshe fanciedafter his night-watch. What
thoughfor fear of the King's displeasurehe had deserted with
the Standard--it was but a piece of silkand he but a needy
adventurer; or if he was put under warding for a timeshe would
soon get the King to pardon him--it was but waiting to let
Richard's mood pass away.

Thus she continued talking thick and fastand heaping together
all sorts of inconsistencieswith the vain expectation of
persuading both Edith and herself that no harm could come of a
frolic which in her heart she now bitterly repented. But while
Edith in vain strove to intercept this torrent of idle talkshe
caught the eye of one of the ladies who entered the Queen's
apartment. There was death in her look of affright and horror
and Edithat the first glance of her countenancehad sunk at


once on the earthhad not strong necessity and her own elevation
of character enabled her to maintain at least external composure.

Madam,she said to the Queenlose not another word in
speaking, but save life--if, indeed,she addedher voice
choking as she said itlife may yet be saved.

It may, it may,answered the Lady Calista. "I have just heard
that he has been brought before the King. It is not yet over
--but she added, bursting into a vehement flood of weeping, in
which personal apprehensions had some share, it will soon
unless some course be taken."

I will vow a golden candlestick to the Holy Sepulchre, a shrine
of silver to our Lady of Engaddi, a pall, worth one hundred
byzants, to Saint Thomas of Orthez,said the Queen in extremity.

Up, up, madam!said Edith; "call on the saints if you list
but be your own best saint."

Indeed, madam,said the terrified attendantthe Lady Edith
speaks truth. Up, madam, and let us to King Richard's tent and
beg the poor gentleman's life.

I will go--I will go instantly,said the Queenrising and
trembling excessively; while her womenin as great confusion as
herselfwere unable to render her those duties which were
indispensable to her levee. Calmcomposedonly pale as death
Edith ministered to the Queen with her own handand alone
supplied the deficiencies of her numerous attendants.

How you wait, wenches!said the Queennot able even then to
forget frivolous distinctions. "Suffer ye the Lady Edith to do
the duties of your attendance? Seest thouEdiththey can do
nothing; I shall never be attired in time. We will send for the
Archbishop of Tyreand employ him as a mediator."

Oh, no, no!exclaimed Edith. "Go yourself madam; you have
done the evildo you confer the remedy."

I will go--I will go,said the Queen; "but if Richard be in his
moodI dare not speak to him--he will kill me!"

Yet go, gracious madam,said the Lady Calistawho best knew
her mistress's temper; "not a lionin his furycould look upon
such a face and formand retain so much as an angry thoughtfar
less a love-true knight like the royal Richardto whom your
slightest word would be a command."

Dost thou think so, Calista?said the Queen. "Ahthou little
knowest yet I will go. But see you herewhat means this? You
have bedizened me in greena colour he detests. Lo you! let me
have a blue robeand--search for the ruby carcanetwhich was
part of the King of Cyprus's ransom; it is either in the steel
casketor somewhere else."

This, and a man's life at stake!said Edith indignantly; "it
passes human patience. Remain at your easemadam; I will go to
King Richard. I am a party interested. I will know if the
honour of a poor maiden of his blood is to be so far tampered
with that her name shall be abused to train a brave gentleman
from his dutybring him within the compass of death and infamy
and makeat the same timethe glory of England a laughing-stock
to the whole Christian army."


At this unexpected burst of passionBerengaria listened with an
almost stupefied look of fear and wonder. But as Edith was about
to leave the tentshe exclaimedthough faintlyStop her, stop
her!


You must indeed stop, noble Lady Edith,said Calistataking
her arm gently; "and youroyal madamI am surewill goand
without further dallying. If the Lady Edith goes alone to the
Kinghe will be dreadfully incensednor will it be one life
that will stay his fury."


I will go--I will go,said the Queenyielding to necessity;
and Edith reluctantly halted to wait her movements.


They were now as speedy as she could have desired. The Queen
hastily wrapped herself in a large loose mantlewhich covered
all inaccuracies of the toilet. In this guiseattended by Edith
and her womenand preceded and followed by a few officers and
men-at-armsshe hastened to the tent of her lionlike husband.


CHAPTER XVII.


Were every hair upon his head a life
And every life were to be supplicated
By numbers equal to those hairs quadrupled
Life after life should out like waning stars
Before the daybreak--or as festive lamps
Which have lent lustre to the midnight revel
Each after each are quench'd when guests depart! OLD PLAY


The entrance of Queen Berengaria into the interior of Richard's
pavilion was withstood--in the most respectful and reverential
manner indeedbut still withstood--by the chamberlains who
watched in the outer tent. She could hear the stern command of
the King from withinprohibiting their entrance.


You see,said the Queenappealing to Edithas if she had
exhausted all means of intercession in her power; "I knew it--the
King will not receive us."


At the same timethey heard Richard speak to some one within:
--"Gospeed thine office quicklysirrahfor in that consists
thy mercy--ten byzants if thou dealest on him at one blow. And
hark theevillainobserve if his cheek loses colouror his eye
falters; mark me the smallest twitch of the featuresor wink of
the eyelid. I love to know how brave souls meet death."


If he sees my blade waved aloft without shrinking, he is the
first ever did so,answered a harshdeep voicewhich a sense
of unusual awe had softened into a sound much lower than its
usual coarse tones.


Edith could remain silent no longer. "If your Grace she said
to the Queen, make not your own wayI make it for you; or if
not for your Majestyfor myself at least.--Chamberlainthe
Queen demands to see King Richard--the wife to speak with her
husband."


Noble lady,said the officerlowering his wand of officeit
grieves me to gainsay you, but his Majesty is busied on matters



of life and death.

And we seek also to speak with him on matters of life and
death,said Edith. "I will make entrance for your Grace." And
putting aside the chamberlain with one handshe laid hold on the
curtain with the other.

I dare not gainsay her Majesty's pleasure,said the
chamberlainyielding to the vehemence of the fair petitioner;
and as he gave waythe Queen found herself obliged to enter the
apartment of Richard.

The Monarch was lying on his couchand at some distanceas
awaiting his further commandsstood a man whose profession it
was not difficult to conjecture. He was clothed in a jerkin of
red clothwhich reached scantly below the shouldersleaving the
arms bare from about half way above the elbow; and as an upper
garmenthe worewhen about as at present to betake himself to
his dreadful officea coat or tabard without sleevessomething
like that of a heraldmade of dressed bull's hideand stained
in the front with many a broad spot and speckle of dull crimson.
The jerkinand the tabard over itreached the knee; and the
nether stocksor covering of the legswere of the same leather
which composed the tabard. A cap of rough shag served to hide
the upper part of a visage whichlike that of a screech owl
seemed desirous to conceal itself from lightthe lower part of
the face being obscured by a huge red beardmingling with shaggy
locks of the same colour. What features were seen were stern and
misanthropical. The man's figure was shortstrongly madewith
a neck like a bullvery broad shouldersarms of great and
disproportioned lengtha huge square trunkand thick bandy
legs. This truculent official leant on a swordthe blade of
which was nearly four feet and a half in lengthwhile the handle
of twenty inchessurrounded by a ring of lead plummets to
counterpoise the weight of such a bladerose considerably above
the man's head as he rested his arm upon its hiltwaiting for
King Richard's further directions.

On the sudden entrance of the ladiesRichardwho was then lying
on his couch with his face towards the entranceand resting on
his elbow as he spoke to his grisly attendantflung himself
hastilyas if displeased and surprisedto the other side
turning his back to the Queen and the females of her trainand
drawing around him the covering of his couchwhichby his own
choiceor more probably the flattering selection of his
chamberlainsconsisted of two large lions' skinsdressed in
Venice with such admirable skill that they seemed softer than the
hide of the deer.

Berengariasuch as we have described herknew well--what woman
knows not?--her own road to victory. After a hurried glance of
undisguised and unaffected terror at the ghastly companion of her
husband's secret counselsshe rushed at once to the side of
Richard's couchdropped on her kneesflung her mantle from her
shouldersshowingas they hung down at their full lengthher
beautiful golden tressesand while her countenance seemed like
the sun bursting through a cloudyet bearing on its pallid front
traces that its splendours have been obscuredshe seized upon
the right hand of the Kingwhichas he assumed his wonted
posturehad been employed in dragging the covering of his couch
and gradually pulling it to her with a force which was resisted
though but faintlyshe possessed herself of that armthe prop
of Christendom and the dread of Heathenesseand imprisoning its
strength in both her little fairy handsshe bent upon it her


browand united to it her lips.

What needs this, Berengaria?said Richardhis head still
avertedbut his hand remaining under her control.

Send away that man, his look kills me!muttered Berengaria.

Begone, sirrah,said Richardstill without looking round
What wait'st thou for? art thou fit to look on these ladies?

Your Highness's pleasure touching the head,said the man.

Out with thee, dog!answered Richard--"a Christian burial!"
The man disappearedafter casting a look upon the beautiful
Queenin her deranged dress and natural lovelinesswith a smile
of admiration more hideous in its expression than even his usual
scowl of cynical hatred against humanity.

And now, foolish wench, what wishest thou?said Richard
turning slowly and half reluctantly round to his royal suppliant.

But it was not in nature for any onefar less an admirer of
beauty like Richardto whom it stood only in the second rank to
gloryto look without emotion on the countenance and the tremor
of a creature so beautiful as Berengariaor to feelwithout
sympathythat her lipsher browwere on his handand that it
was wetted by her tears. By degreeshe turned on her his manly
countenancewith the softest expression of which his large blue
eyewhich so often gleamed with insufferable lightwas capable.
Caressing her fair headand mingling his large fingers in her
beautiful and dishevelled lockshe raised and tenderly kissed
the cherub countenance which seemed desirous to hide itself in
his hand. The robust formthe broadnoble brow and majestic
looksthe naked arm and shoulderthe lions' skins among which
he layand the fairfragile feminine creature that kneeled by
his sidemight have served for a model of Hercules reconciling
himselfafter a quarrelto his wife Dejanira.

And, once more, what seeks the lady of my heart in her knight's
pavilion at this early and unwonted hour?

Pardon, my most gracious liege--pardon!said the Queenwhose
fears began again to unfit her for the duty of intercessor.

Pardon--for what?asked the King.

First, for entering your royal presence too boldly and
unadvisedly--

She stopped.

THOU too boldly!--the sun might as well ask pardon because his
rays entered the windows of some wretch's dungeon. But I was
busied with work unfit for thee to witness, my gentle one; and I
was unwilling, besides, that thou shouldst risk thy precious
health where sickness had been so lately rife.

But thou art now well?said the Queenstill delaying the
communication which she feared to make.

Well enough to break a lance on the bold crest of that champion
who shall refuse to acknowledge thee the fairest dame in
Christendom.


Thou wilt not then refuse me one boon--only one--only a poor
life?

Ha!--proceed,said King Richardbending his brows.

This unhappy Scottish knight--murmured the Queen.

Speak not of him, madam,exclaimed Richard sternly; "he dies
--his doom is fixed."

Nay, my royal liege and love, 'tis but a silken banner
neglected. Berengaria will give thee another broidered with her
own hand, and rich as ever dallied with the wind. Every pearl I
have shall go to bedeck it, and with every pearl I will drop a
tear of thankfulness to my generous knight.

Thou knowest not what thou sayest,said the Kinginterrupting
her in anger. "Pearls! can all the pearls of the East atone for
a speck upon England's honour--all the tears that ever woman's
eye wept wash away a stain on Richard's fame? Go tomadamknow
your placeand your timeand your sphere. At present we have
duties in which you cannot be our partner."

Thou hearest, Edith,whispered the Queen; "we shall but incense
him."

Be it so,said Edithstepping forward.--"My lordIyour poor
kinswomancrave you for justice rather than mercy; and to the
cry of justice the ears of a monarch should be open at every
timeplaceand circumstance."

Ha! our cousin Edith?said Richardrising and sitting
upright on the side of his couchcovered with his long camiscia.
She speaks ever kinglike, and kinglike will I answer her, so she
bring no request unworthy herself or me.

The beauty of Edith was of a more intellectual and less
voluptuous cast than that of the Queen; but impatience and
anxiety had given her countenance a glow which it sometimes
wantedand her mien had a character of energetic dignity that
imposed silence for a moment even on Richard himselfwhoto
judge by his lookswould willingly have interrupted her.

My lord,she saidthis good knight, whose blood you are about
to spill, hath done, in his time, service to Christendom. He has
fallen from his duty through a snare set for him in mere folly
and idleness of spirit. A message sent to him in the name of one
who--why should I not speak it?--it was in my own--induced him
for an instant to leave his post. And what knight in the
Christian camp might not have thus far transgressed at command of
a maiden, who, poor howsoever in other qualities, hath yet the
blood of Plantagenet in her veins?

And you saw him, then, cousin?replied the Kingbiting his
lips to keep down his passion.

I did, my liege,said Edith. "It is no time to explain
wherefore. I am here neither to exculpate myself nor to blame
others."

And where did you do him such a grace?

In the tent of her Majesty the Queen.


Of our royal consort!said Richard. "Now by Heavenby Saint
George of Englandand every other saint that treads its crystal
floorthis is too audacious! I have noticed and overlooked this
warrior's insolent admiration of one so far above himand I
grudged him not that one of my blood should shed from her high-born sphere such influence as the sun
bestows on the world
beneath. Butheaven and earth! that you should have admitted
him to an audience by nightin the very tent of our royal
consort!--and dare to offer this as an excuse for his
disobedience and desertion! By my father's soulEdiththou
shalt rue this thy life long in a monastery!"

My liege,said Edithyour greatness licenses tyranny. My
honour, Lord King, is as little touched as yours, and my Lady the
Queen can prove it if she think fit. But I have already said I
am not here to excuse myself or inculpate others. I ask you but
to extend to one, whose fault was committed under strong
temptation, that mercy, which even you yourself, Lord King, must
one day supplicate at a higher tribunal, and for faults, perhaps,
less venial.

Can this be Edith Plantagenet?said the King bitterly--"Edith
Plantagenetthe wise and the noble? Or is it some lovesick
woman who cares not for her own fame in comparison of the life of
her paramour? Nowby King Henry's soul! little hinders but I
order thy minion's skull to be brought from the gibbetand fixed
as a perpetual ornament by the crucifix in thy cell!"

And if thou dost send it from the gibbet to be placed for ever
in my sight,said EdithI will say it is a relic of a good
knight, cruelly and unworthily done to death by(she checked
herself)--"by one of whom I shall only sayhe should have known
better how to reward chivalry. Minion callest thou him?" she
continuedwith increasing vehemence. "He was indeed my lover
and a most true one; but never sought he grace from me by look or
word--contented with such humble observance as men pay to the
saints. And the good--the valiant--the faithful must die for
this!"

Oh, peace, peace, for pity's sake,whispered the Queenyou do
but offend him more!

I care not,said Edith; "the spotless virgin fears not the
raging lion. Let him work his will on this worthy knight.
Edithfor whom he dieswill know how to weep his memory. To me
no one shall speak more of politic alliances to be sanctioned
with this poor hand. I could not--I would not --have been his
bride living--our degrees were too distant. But death unites the
high and the low--I am henceforward the spouse of the grave."

The King was about to answer with much angerwhen a Carmelite
monk entered the apartment hastilyhis head and person muffled
in the long mantle and hood of striped cloth of the coarsest
texture which distinguished his orderandflinging himself on
his knees before the Kingconjured himby every holy word and
signto stop the execution.

Now, by both sword and sceptre,said Richardthe world is
leagued to drive me mad!--fools, women, and monks cross me at
every step. How comes he to live still?

My gracious liege,said the monkI entreated of the Lord of
Gilsland to stay the execution until I had thrown myself at your
royal--


And he was wilful enough to grant thy request,said the King; "but it is of a piece with his wonted
obstinacy. And what is it
thou hast to say? Speakin the fiend's name!"

My lord, there is a weighty secret, but it rests under the seal
of confession. I dare not tell or even whisper it; but I swear
to thee by my holy order, by the habit which I wear, by the
blessed Elias, our founder, even him who was translated without
suffering the ordinary pangs of mortality, that this youth hath
divulged to me a secret, which, if I might confide it to thee,
would utterly turn thee from thy bloody purpose in regard to
him.

Good father,said Richardthat I reverence the church, let
the arms which I now wear for her sake bear witness. Give me to
know this secret, and I will do what shall seem fitting in the
matter. But I am no blind Bayard, to take a leap in the dark
under the stroke of a pair of priestly spurs.

My lord,said the holy manthrowing back his cowl and upper
vestureand discovering under the latter a garment of goatskin
and from beneath the former a visage so wildly wasted by climate
fastand penanceas to resemble rather the apparition of an
animated skeleton than a human facefor twenty years have I
macerated this miserable body in the caverns of Engaddi, doing
penance for a great crime. Think you I, who am dead to the world,
would contrive a falsehood to endanger my own soul; or that one,
bound by the most sacred oaths to the contrary--one such as I,
who have but one longing wish connected with earth, to wit, the
rebuilding of our Christian Zion--would betray the secrets of the
confessional? Both are alike abhorrent to my very soul.

So,answered the Kingthou art that hermit of whom men speak
so much? Thou art, I confess, like enough to those spirits which
walk in dry places; but Richard fears no hobgoblins. And thou
art he, too, as I bethink me, to whom the Christian princes sent
this very criminal to open a communication with the Soldan, even
while I, who ought to have been first consulted, lay on my sick-bed? Thou and they may content
themselves--I will not put my
neck into the loop of a Carmelite's girdle. And, for your envoy,
he shall die the rather and the sooner that thou dost entreat for
him.

Now God be gracious to thee, Lord King!said the hermitwith
much emotion; "thou art setting that mischief on foot which thou
wilt hereafter wish thou hadst stoppedthough it had cost thee a
limb. Rashblinded manyet forbear!"

Away, away,cried the Kingstamping; "the sun has risen on the
dishonour of Englandand it is not yet avenged.--Ladies and
priestwithdrawif you would not hear orders which would
displease you; forby St. GeorgeI swear--"

Swear NOT!said the voice of one who had just then entered the
pavilion.

Ha! my learned Hakim,said the Kingcome, I hope, to tax our
generosity.

I come to request instant speech with you--instant--and touching
matters of deep interest.

First look on my wife, Hakim, and let her know in you the


preserver of her husband.

It is not for me,said the physicianfolding his arms with an
air of Oriental modesty and reverenceand bending his eyes on
the ground--"it is not for me to look upon beauty unveiledand
armed in its splendours."

Retire, then, Berengaria,said the Monarch; "andEdithdo you
retire also;--nayrenew not your importunities! This I give to
them that the execution shall not be till high noon. Go and be
pacified--dearest Berengariabegone.--Edith he added, with a
glance which struck terror even into the courageous soul of his
kinswoman, goif you are wise."

The females withdrewor rather hurried from the tentrank and
ceremony forgottenmuch like a flock of wild-fowl huddled
togetheragainst whom the falcon has made a recent stoop.

They returned from thence to the Queen's pavilion to indulge in
regrets and recriminationsequally unavailing. Edith was the
only one who seemed to disdain these ordinary channels of sorrow.
Without a sighwithout a tearwithout a word of upbraidingshe
attended upon the Queenwhose weak temperament showed her sorrow
in violent hysterical ecstasies and passionate hypochondriacal
effusionsin the course of which Edith sedulously and even
affectionately attended her.

It is impossible she can have loved this knight,said Florise
to Calistaher senior in attendance upon the Queen's person.
We have been mistaken; she is but sorry for his fate, as for a
stranger who has come to trouble on her account.

Hush, hush,answered her more experienced and more observant
comrade; "she is of that proud house of Plantagenet who never own
that a hurt grieves them. While they have themselves been
bleeding to deathunder a mortal woundthey have been known to
bind up the scratches sustained by their more faint-hearted
comrades. Florisewe have done frightfully wrongandfor my
own partI would buy with every jewel I have that our fatal jest
had remained unacted."

CHAPTER XVIII.

This work desires a planetary intelligence
Of Jupiter and Sol; and those great spirits
Are proudfantastical. It asks great charges
To entice them from the guiding of their spheres
To wait on mortals. ALBUMAZAR.

The hermit followed the ladies from the pavilion of Richardas
shadow follows a beam of sunshine when the clouds are driving
over the face of the sun. But he turned on the thresholdand
held up his hand towards the King in a warningor almost a
menacing postureas he saidWoe to him who rejects the counsel
of the church, and betaketh himself to the foul divan of the
infidel! King Richard, I do not yet shake the dust from my feet
and depart from thy encampment; the sword falls not--but it hangs
but by a hair. Haughty monarch, we shall meet again.

Be it so, haughty priest,returned Richardprouder in thy
goatskins than princes in purple and fine linen.


The hermit vanished from the tentand the King continued
addressing the ArabianDo the dervises of the East, wise Hakim,
use such familiarity with their princes?

The dervise,replied Adonbecshould be either a sage or a
madman; there is no middle course for him who wears the khirkhah,
[Literally, the torn robe. The habit of the dervises is so
called.] who watches by night, and fasts by day. Hence hath he
either wisdom enough to bear himself discreetly in the presence
of princes; or else, having no reason bestowed on him, he is not
responsible for his own actions.

Methinks our monks have adopted chiefly the latter character,
said Richard. "But to the matter. In what can I pleasure you
my learned physician?"

Great King,said El Hakimmaking his profound Oriental
obeisancelet thy servant speak one word, and yet live. I
would remind thee that thou owest--not to me, their humble
instrument--but to the Intelligences, whose benefits I dispense
to mortals, a life--

And I warrant me thou wouldst have another in requital, ha?
interrupted the King.

Such is my humble prayer,said the Hakimto the great Melech
Ric--even the life of this good knight, who is doomed to die, and
but for such fault as was committed by the Sultan Adam, surnamed
Aboulbeschar, or the father of all men.

And thy wisdom might remind thee, Hakim, that Adam died for it,
said the Kingsomewhat sternlyand then began to pace the
narrow space of his tent with some emotionand to talk to
himself. "WhyGod-a-mercyI knew what he desired as soon as
ever he entered the pavilion! Here is one poor life justly
condemned to extinctionand Ia king and a soldierwho have
slain thousands by my commandand scores with my own handam to
have no power over italthough the honour of my armsof my
houseof my very Queenhath been attainted by the culprit. By
Saint Georgeit makes me laugh! By Saint Louisit reminds me
of Blondel's tale of an enchanted castlewhere the destined
knight was withstood successively in his purpose of entrance by
forms and figures the most dissimilarbut all hostile to his
undertaking! No sooner one sunk than another appeared! Wife
--kinswoman--hermit--Hakim-each appears in the lists as soon as
the other is defeated! Whythis is a single knight fighting
against the whole MELEE of the tournament--ha! ha! ha!" And
Richard laughed aloud; for he hadin factbegun to change his
moodhis resentment being usually too violent to be of long
endurance.

The physician meanwhile looked on him with a countenance of
surprisenot unmingled with contempt; for the Eastern people
make no allowance for these mercurial changes in the temperand
consider open laughterupon almost any accountas derogatory to
the dignity of manand becoming only to women and children. At
length the sage addressed the King when he saw him more
composed:-


A doom of death should not issue from laughing lips. Let thy
servant hope that thou hast granted him this man's life.

Take the freedom of a thousand captives instead,said Richard;
restore so many of thy countrymen to their tents and families,


and I will give the warrant instantly. This man's life can avail
thee nothing, and it is forfeited.

All our lives are forfeited,said the Hakimputting his hand
to his cap. "But the great Creditor is mercifuland exacts not
the pledge rigorously nor untimely."

Thou canst show me,said Richardno special interest thou
hast to become intercessor betwixt me and the execution of
justice, to which I am sworn as a crowned king.

Thou art sworn to the dealing forth mercy as well as justice,
said El Hakim; "but what thou seekestgreat Kingis the
execution of thine own will. And for the concern I have in this
requestknow that many a man's life depends upon thy granting
this boon."

Explain thy words,said Richard; "but think not to impose upon
me by false pretexts."

Be it far from thy servant!said Adonbec. "Knowthenthat
the medicine to which thouSir Kingand many one besidesowe
their recoveryis a talismancomposed under certain aspects of
the heavenswhen the Divine Intelligences are most propitious.
I am but the poor administrator of its virtues. I dip it in a
cup of waterobserve the fitting hour to administer it to the
patientand the potency of the draught works the cure."

A most rare medicine,said the Kingand a commodious! and,
as it may be carried in the leech's purse, would save the whole
caravan of camels which they require to convey drugs and physic
stuff; I marvel there is any other in use.

It is written,answered the Hakimwith imperturbable gravity
'Abuse not the steed which hath borne thee from the battle.'
Know that such talismans might indeed be framed, but rare has
been the number of adepts who have dared to undertake the
application of their virtue. Severe restrictions, painful
observances, fasts, and penance, are necessary on the part of the
sage who uses this mode of cure; and if, through neglect of these
preparations, by his love of ease, or his indulgence of sensual
appetite, he omits to cure at least twelve persons within the
course of each moon, the virtue of the divine gift departs from
the amulet, and both the last patient and the physician will be
exposed to speedy misfortune, neither will they survive the year.
I require yet one life to make up the appointed number.

Go out into the camp, good Hakim, where thou wilt find a-many,
said the Kingand do not seek to rob my headsman of HIS
patients; it is unbecoming a mediciner of thine eminence to
interfere with the practice of another. Besides, I cannot see
how delivering a criminal from the death he deserves should go to
make up thy tale of miraculous cures.

When thou canst show why a draught of cold water should have
cured thee when the most precious drugs failed,said the Hakim
thou mayest reason on the other mysteries attendant on this
matter. For myself, I am inefficient to the great work, having
this morning touched an unclean animal. Ask, therefore, no
further questions; it is enough that, by sparing this man's life
at my request, you will deliver yourself, great King, and thy
servant, from a great danger.

Hark thee, Adonbec,replied the KingI have no objection that


leeches should wrap their words in mist, and pretend to derive
knowledge from the stars; but when you bid Richard Plantagenet
fear that a danger will fall upon HIM from some idle omen, or
omitted ceremonial, you speak to no ignorant Saxon, or doting old
woman, who foregoes her purpose because a hare crosses the path,
a raven croaks, or a cat sneezes.

I cannot hinder your doubt of my words,said Adonbec; "but yet
let my Lord the King grant that truth is on the tongue of his
servant--will he think it just to deprive the worldand every
wretch who may suffer by the pains which so lately reduced him to
that couchof the benefit of this most virtuous talismanrather
than extend his forgiveness to one poor criminal? Bethink you
Lord Kingthatthough thou canst slay thousandsthou canst not
restore one man to health. Kings have the power of Satan to
tormentsages that of Allah to heal--beware how thou hinderest
the good to humanity which thou canst not thyself render. Thou
canst cut off the headbut not cure the aching tooth."

This is over-insolent,said the Kinghardening himselfas the
Hakim assumed a more lofty and almost a commanding tone. "We
took thee for our leechnot for our counsellor or conscience-keeper."

And is it thus the most renowned Prince of Frangistan repays
benefit done to his royal person?said El Hakimexchanging the
humble and stooping posture in which he had hitherto solicited
the Kingfor an attitude lofty and commanding. "Knowthen he
said, that: through every court of Europe and Asia--to Moslem
and Nazarene--to knight and lady--wherever harp is heard and
sword worn --wherever honour is loved and infamy detested--to
every quarter of the world--will I denounce theeMelech Ricas
thankless and ungenerous; and even the lands--if there be any
such--that never heard of thy renown shall yet be acquainted with
thy shame!"

Are these terms to me, vile infidel?said Richardstriding
up to him in fury. "Art weary of thy life?"

Strike!said El Hakim; "thine own deed shall then paint thee
more worthless than could my wordsthough each had a hornet's
sting."

Richard turned fiercely from himfolded his armstraversed the
tent as beforeand then exclaimedThankless and ungenerous!
--as well be termed coward and infidel! Hakim, thou hast chosen
thy boon; and though I had rather thou hadst asked my crown
jewels, yet I may not, kinglike, refuse thee. Take this Scot,
therefore, to thy keeping; the provost will deliver him to thee
on this warrant.

He hastily traced one or two linesand gave them to the
physician. "Use him as thy bond-slaveto be disposed of as thou
wilt--onlylet him beware how he comes before the eyes of
Richard. Hark thee--thou art wise--he hath been over-bold among
those in whose fair looks and weak judgments we trust our honour
as you of the East lodge your treasures in caskets of silver
wireas fine and as frail as the web of a gossamer."

Thy servant understands the words of the King,said the sage
at once resuming the reverent style of address in which he had
commenced. "When the rich carpet is soiledthe fool pointeth to
the stain--the wise man covers it with his mantle. I have heard
my lord's pleasureand to hear is to obey."


It is well,said the King; "let him consult his own safetyand
never appear in my presence more. Is there aught else in which I
may do thee pleasure?"

The bounty of the King hath filled my cup to the brim,said the
sage--" yeait hath been abundant as the fountain which sprung
up amid the camp of the descendants of Israel when the rock was
stricken by the rod of Moussa Ben Amram."

Ay, but,said the Kingsmilingit required, as in the
desert, a hard blow on the rock ere it yielded its treasures. I
would that I knew something to pleasure thee, which I might yield
as freely as the natural fountain sends forth its waters.

Let me touch that victorious hand,said the sagein token
that if Adonbec el Hakim should hereafter demand a boon of
Richard of England, he may do so, yet plead his command.

Thou hast hand and glove upon it, man,replied Richard; "only
if thou couldst consistently make up thy tale of patients without
craving me to deliver from punishment those who have deserved it
I would more willingly discharge my debt in some other form."

May thy days be multiplied!answered the Hakimand withdrew
from the apartment after the usual deep obeisance.

King Richard gazed after him as he departedlike one but half-satisfied with what had passed.

Strange pertinacity,he saidin this Hakim, and a wonderful
chance to interfere between that audacious Scot and the
chastisement he has merited so richly. Yet let him live! there
is one brave man the more in the world. And now for the
Austrian. Ho! is the Baron of Gilsland there without?

Sir Thomas de Vaux thus summonedhis bulky form speedily
darkened the opening of the pavilionwhile behind him glided as
a spectreunannouncedyet unopposedthe savage form of the
hermit of Engaddiwrapped in his goatskin mantle.

Richardwithout noticing his presencecalled in a loud tone to
the baronSir Thomas de Vaux, of Lanercost and Gilsland, take
trumpet and herald, and go instantly to the tent of him whom they
call Archduke of Austria, and see that it be when the press of
his knights and vassals is greatest around him, as is likely at
this hour, for the German boar breakfasts ere he hears mass-enter
his presence with as little reverence as thou mayest, and
impeach him, on the part of Richard of England, that he hath this
night, by his own hand, or that of others, stolen from its staff
the Banner of England. Wherefore say to him our pleasure that
within an hour from the time of my speaking he restore the said
banner with all reverence--he himself and his principal barons
waiting the whilst with heads uncovered, and without their robes
of honour. And that, moreover, he pitch beside it, on the one
hand, his own Banner of Austria reversed, as that which hath been
dishonoured by theft and felony, and on the other, a lance,
bearing the bloody head of him who was his nearest counsellor, or
assistant, in this base injury. And say, that such our behests
being punctually discharged we will, for the sake of our vow and
the weal of the Holy Land, forgive his other forfeits.

And how if the Duke of Austria deny all accession to this act of
wrong and of felony?said Thomas de Vaux.

Tell him,replied the Kingwe will prove it upon his body


--ay, were he backed with his two bravest champions. Knightlike
will we prove it, on foot or on horse, in the desert or in the
field, time, place, and arms all at his own choice.

Bethink you of the peace of God and the church, my liege lord,
said the Baron of Gilslandamong those princes engaged in this
holy Crusade.

Bethink you how to execute my commands, my liege vassal,
answered Richard impatiently. "Methinks men expect to turn our
purpose by their breathas boys blow feathers to and fro. Peace
of the church! WhoI pritheeminds it? The peace of the
churchamong Crusadersimplies war with the Saracenswith whom
the princes have made truce; and the one ends with the other.
And besidessee you not how every prince of them is seeking his
own several ends? I will seek mine also--and that is honour.
For honour I came hither; and if I may not win it upon the
Saracensat least I will not lose a jot from any respect to this
paltry Dukethough he were bulwarked and buttressed by every
prince in the Crusade."

De Vaux turned to obey the King's mandateshrugging his
shoulders at the same timethe bluntness of his nature being
unable to conceal that its tenor went against his judgment. But
the hermit of Engaddi stepped forwardand assumed the air of one
charged with higher commands than those of a mere earthly
potentate. Indeedhis dress of shaggy skinshis uncombed and
untrimmed hair and beardhis leanwildand contorted features
and the almost insane fire which gleamed from under his bushy
eyebrowsmade him approach nearly to our idea of some seer of
Scripturewhocharged with high mission to the sinful Kings of
Judah or Israeldescended from the rocks and caverns in which he
dwelt in abstracted solitudeto abash earthly tyrants in the
midst of their prideby discharging on them the blighting
denunciations of Divine Majestyeven as the cloud discharges the
lightnings with which it is fraught on the pinnacles and towers
of castles and palaces. In the midst of his most wayward mood
Richard respected the church and its ministers; and though
offended at the intrusion of the hermit into his tenthe greeted
him with respect--at the same timehowevermaking a sign to Sir
Thomas de Vaux to hasten on his message.

But the hermit prohibited the baronby gesturelookand word
to stir a yard on such an errand; and holding up his bare arm
from which the goatskin mantle fell back in the violence of his
actionhe waved it aloftmeagre with famineand wealed with
the blows of the discipline.

In the name of God, and of the most holy Father, the vicegerent
of the Christian Church upon earth, I prohibit this most profane,
bloodthirsty, and brutal defiance betwixt two Christian princes,
whose shoulders are signed with the blessed mark under which they
swore brotherhood. Woe to him by whom it is broken!--Richard of
England, recall the most unhallowed message thou hast given to
that baron. Danger and death are nigh thee!--the dagger is
glancing at thy very throat!--

Danger and death are playmates to Richard,answered the Monarch
proudly; "and he hath braved too many swords to fear a dagger."

Danger and death are near,replied the seerand sinking his
voice to a hollowunearthly tonehe addedAnd after death the
judgment!


Good and holy father,said RichardI reverence thy person and
thy sanctity--

Reverence not me!interrupted the hermit; "reverence sooner
the vilest insect that crawls by the shores of the Dead Seaand
feeds upon its accursed slime. But reverence Him whose commands
I speak--reverence Him whose sepulchre you have vowed to rescue
--revere the oath of concord which you have swornand break not
the silver cord of union and fidelity with which you have bound
yourself to your princely confederates."

Good father,said the Kingyou of the church seem to me to
presume somewhat, if a layman may say so much, upon the dignity
of your holy character. Without challenging your right to take
charge of our conscience, methinks you might leave us the charge
of our own honour.

Presume!repeated the hermit. "Is it for me to presumeroyal
Richardwho am but the bell obeying the hand of the sexton--but
the senseless and worthless trumpet carrying the command of him
who sounds it? Seeon my knees I throw myself before thee
imploring thee to have mercy on Christendomon Englandand on
thyself!"

Rise, rise,said Richardcompelling him to stand up; "it
beseems not that knees which are so frequently bended to the
Deity should press the ground in honour of man. What danger
awaits usreverend father? and when stood the power of England
so low that the noisy bluster of this new-made Duke's displeasure
should alarm her or her monarch?"

I have looked forth from my mountain turret upon the starry host
of heaven, as each in his midnight circuit uttered wisdom to
another, and knowledge to the few who can understand their voice.
There sits an enemy in thy House of Life, Lord King, malign at
once to thy fame and thy prosperity--an emanation of Saturn,
menacing thee with instant and bloody peril, and which, but thou
yield thy proud will to the rule of thy duty, will presently
crush thee even in thy pride.

Away, away--this is heathen science,said the King. "Christians
practise it not--wise men believe it not. Old manthou dotest."

I dote not, Richard,answered the hermit--"I am not so happy.
I know my conditionand that some portion of reason is yet
permitted menot for my own usebut that of the Church and the
advancement of the Cross. I am the blind man who holds a torch
to othersthough it yields no light to himself. Ask me touching
what concerns the weal of Christendomand of this Crusadeand I
will speak with thee as the wisest counsellor on whose tongue
persuasion ever sat. Speak to me of my own wretched beingand
my words shall be those of the maniac outcast which I am."

I would not break the bands of unity asunder among the princes
of the Crusade,said Richardwith a mitigated tone and manner;
but what atonement can they render me for the injustice and
insult which I have sustained?

Even of that I am prepared and commissioned to speak by the
Council, which, meeting hastily at the summons of Philip of
France, have taken measures for that effect.

Strange,replied Richardthat others should treat of what is
due to the wounded majesty of England!


They are willing to anticipate your demands, if it be possible,
answered the hermit. "In a bodythey consent that the Banner of
England be replaced on Saint George's Mount; and they lay under
ban and condemnation the audacious criminalor criminalsby
whom it was outragedand will announce a princely reward to any
who shall denounce the delinquent's guiltand give his flesh to
the wolves and ravens."

And Austria,said Richardupon whom rest such strong
presumptions that he was the author of the deed?

To prevent discord in the host,replied the hermitAustria
will clear himself of the suspicion by submitting to whatsoever
ordeal the Patriarch of Jerusalem shall impose.

Will he clear himself by the trial by combat?said King
Richard.

His oath prohibits it,said the hermit; "andmoreoverthe
Council of the Princes--"

Will neither authorize battle against the Saracens,interrupted
Richardnor against any one else. But it is enough, father-thou
hast shown me the folly of proceeding as I designed in this
matter. You shall sooner light your torch in a puddle of rain
than bring a spark out of a cold-blooded coward. There is no
honour to be gained on Austria, and so let him pass. I will have
him perjure himself, however; I will insist on the ordeal. How I
shall laugh to hear his clumsy fingers hiss, as he grasps the
red-hot globe of iron! Ay, or his huge mouth riven, and his
gullet swelling to suffocation, as he endeavours to swallow the
consecrated bread!

Peace, Richard,said the hermit--"ohpeacefor shameif not
for charity! Who shall praise or honour princes who insult and
calumniate each other? Alas! that a creature so noble as thou
art--so accomplished in princely thoughts and princely daring--so
fitted to honour Christendom by thy actionsandin thy calmer
moodto rule her by thy wisdomshould yet have the brute and
wild fury of the lion mingled with the dignity and courage of
that king of the forest!"

He remained an instant musing with his eyes fixed on the ground
and then proceeded--"But Heaventhat knows our imperfect nature
accepts of our imperfect obedienceand hath delayedthough not
avertedthe bloody end of thy daring life. The destroying angel
hath stood stillas of old by the threshing-floor of Araunah the
Jebusiteand the blade is drawn in his handby whichat no
distant dateRichardthe lion-heartedshall be as low as the
meanest peasant."

Must it, then, be so soon?said Richard. "Yeteven so be it.
May my course be brightif it be but brief!"

Alas! noble King,said the solitaryand it seemed as if a
tear (unwonted guest) were gathering in his dry and glazened eye
short and melancholy, marked with mortification, and calamity,
and captivity, is the span that divides thee from the grave which
yawns for thee--a grave in which thou shalt be laid without
lineage to succeed thee--without the tears of a people, exhausted
by thy ceaseless wars, to lament thee-- without having extended
the knowledge of thy subjects-- without having done aught to
enlarge their happiness.


But not without renown, monk--not without the tears of the lady
of my love! These consolations, which thou canst neither know
nor estimate, await upon Richard to his grave.

DO I not know, CAN I not estimate the value of minstrel's praise
and of lady's love?retorted the hermitin a tone which for a
moment seemed to emulate the enthusiasm of Richard himself.
King of England,he continuedextending his emaciated arm
the blood which boils in thy blue veins is not more noble than
that which stagnates in mine. Few and cold as the drops are,
they still are of the blood of the royal Lusignan--of the heroic
and sainted Godfrey. I am--that is, I was when in the world--
Alberick Mortemar--

Whose deeds,said Richardhave so often filled Fame's
trumpet! Is it so?--can it be so? Could such a light as thine
fall from the horizon of chivalry, and yet men be uncertain where
its embers had alighted?

Seek a fallen star,said the hermitand thou shalt only light
on some foul jelly, which, in shooting through the horizon, has
assumed for a moment an appearance of splendour. Richard, if I
thought that rending the bloody veil from my horrible fate could
make thy proud heart stoop to the discipline of the church, I
could find in my heart to tell thee a tale, which I have hitherto
kept gnawing at my vitals in concealment, like the self-devoted
youth of heathenesse. Listen, then, Richard, and may the grief
and despair which cannot avail this wretched remnant of what was
once a man be powerful as an example to so noble, yet so wild, a
being as thou art! Yes--I will--I WILL tear open the long-hidden
wounds, although in thy very presence they should bleed to
death!

King Richardupon whom the history of Alberick of Mortemar had
made a deep impression in his early yearswhen minstrels were
regaling his father's halls with legends of the Holy Land
listened with respect to the outlines of a talewhichdarkly
and imperfectly sketchedindicated sufficiently the cause of the
partial insanity of this singular and most unhappy being.

I need not,he saidtell thee that I was noble in birth, high
in fortune, strong in arms, wise in counsel. All these I was.
But while the noblest ladies in Palestine strove which should
wind garlands for my helmet, my love was fixed --unalterably and
devotedly fixed--on a maiden of low degree. Her father, an
ancient soldier of the Cross, saw our passion, and knowing the
difference betwixt us, saw no other refuge for his daughter's
honour than to place her within the shadow of the cloister. I
returned from a distant expedition, loaded with spoils and
honour, to find my happiness was destroyed for ever! I too
sought the cloister; and Satan, who had marked me for his own,
breathed into my heart a vapour of spiritual pride, which could
only have had its source in his own infernal regions. I had
risen as high in the church as before in the state. I was,
forsooth, the wise, the self-sufficient, the impeccable!--I was
the counsellor of councils--I was the director of prelates. How
should I stumble?--wherefore should I fear temptation? Alas! I
became confessor to a sisterhood, and amongst that sisterhood I
found the long-loved--the long-lost. Spare me further
confession!--A fallen nun, whose guilt was avenged by self-murder, sleeps soundly in the vaults of
Engaddi; while, above her
very grave, gibbers, moans, and roars a creature to whom but so
much reason is left as may suffice to render him completely


sensible to his fate!

Unhappy man!said RichardI wonder no longer at thy misery.
How didst thou escape the doom which the canons denounce against
thy offence?

Ask one who is yet in the gall of worldly bitterness,said the
hermitand he will speak of a life spared for personal
respects, and from consideration to high birth. But, Richard, I
tell thee that Providence hath preserved me to lift me on high as
a light and beacon, whose ashes, when this earthly fuel is burnt
out, must yet be flung into Tophet. Withered and shrunk as this
poor form is, it is yet animated with two spirits--one active,
shrewd, and piercing, to advocate the cause of the Church of
Jerusalem; one mean, abject, and despairing, fluctuating between
madness and misery, to mourn over my own wretchedness, and to
guard holy relics on which it would be most sinful for me even to
cast my eye. Pity me not!--it is but sin to pity the loss of
such an abject; pity me not, but profit by my example. Thou
standest on the highest, and, therefore, on the most dangerous
pinnacle occupied by any Christian prince. Thou art proud of
heart, loose of life, bloody of hand. Put from thee the sins
which are to thee as daughters--though they be dear to the sinful
Adam, expel these adopted furies from thy breast--thy pride, thy
luxury, thy bloodthirstiness.

He raves,said Richardturning from the solitary to De Vaux
as one who felt some pain from a sarcasm which yet he could not
resent; then turned him calmlyand somewhat scornfullyto the
anchoretas he repliedThou hast found a fair bevy of
daughters, reverend father, to one who hath been but few months
married; but since I must put them from my roof, it were but like
a father to provide them with suitable matches. Therefore, I
will part with my pride to the noble canons of the church--my
luxury, as thou callest it, to the monks of the rule--and my
bloodthirstiness to the Knights of the Temple.

O heart of steel, and hand of iron,said the anchoretupon
whom example, as well as advice, is alike thrown away! Yet shalt
thou be spared for a season, in case it so be thou shouldst turn,
and do that which is acceptable in the sight of Heaven. For me I
must return to my place. Kyrie Eleison! I am he through whom
the rays of heavenly grace dart like those of the sun through a
burning-glass, concentrating them on other objects, until they
kindle and blaze, while the glass itself remains cold and
uninfluenced. Kyrie Eleison!--the poor must be called, for the
rich have refused the banquet--Kyrie Eleison!

So sayinghe burst from the tentuttering loud cries.

A mad priest!said Richardfrom whose mind the frantic
exclamations of the hermit had partly obliterated the impression
produced by the detail of his personal history and misfortunes.
After him, De Vaux, and see he comes to no harm; for, Crusaders
as we are, a juggler hath more reverence amongst our varlets than
a priest or a saint, and they may, perchance, put some scorn upon
him.

The knight obeyedand Richard presently gave way to the thoughts
which the wild prophecy of the monk had inspired. "To die early
--without lineage--without lamentation! A heavy sentenceand
well that it is not passed by a more competent judge. Yet the
Saracenswho are accomplished in mystical knowledgewill often
maintain that Hein whose eyes the wisdom of the sage is but as


follyinspires wisdom and prophecy into the seeming folly of the
madman. Yonder hermit is said to read the starstooan art
generally practised in these landswhere the heavenly host was
of yore the object of idolatry. I would I had asked him touching
the loss of my banner; for not the blessed Tishbitethe founder
of his ordercould seem more wildly rapt out of himselfor
speak with a tongue more resembling that of a prophet.--How now
De Vauxwhat news of the mad priest?"


Mad priest, call you him, my lord?answered De Vaux. "Methinks
he resembles more the blessed Baptist himselfjust issued from
the wilderness. He has placed himself on one of the military
enginesand from thence he preaches to the soldiers as never man
preached since the time of Peter the Hermit. The campalarmed
by his criescrowd around him in thousands; and breaking off
every now and then from the main thread of his discoursehe
addresses the several nationseach in their own languageand
presses upon each the arguments best qualified to urge them to
perseverance in the delivery of Palestine."


By this light, a noble hermit!said King Richard. "But what
else could come from the blood of Godfrey? HE despair of safety
because he hath in former days lived PAR AMOURS? I will have the
Pope send him an ample remissionand I would not less willingly
be intercessor had his BELLE AMIE been an abbess."


As he spokethe Archbishop of Tyre craved audiencefor the
purpose of requesting Richard's attendanceshould his health
permiton a secret conclave of the chiefs of the Crusadeand to
explain to him the military and political incidents which had
occurred during his illness.


CHAPTER XIX.


Must we then sheathe our still victorious sword;
Turn back our forward stepwhich ever trod
O'er foemen's necks the onward path of glory;
Unclasp the mailwhich with a solemn vow
In God's own housewe hung upon our shoulders--
That vowas unaccomplish'd as the promise
Which village nurses make to still their children
And after think no more of? THE CRUSADEA TRAGEDY.


The Archbishop of Tyre was an emissary well chosen to communicate
to Richard tidingswhich from another voice the lion-hearted
King would not have brooked to hear without the most unbounded
explosions of resentment. Even this sagacious and reverend
prelate found difficulty in inducing him to listen to news which
destroyed all his hopes of gaining back the Holy Sepulchre by
force of armsand acquiring the renown which the universal all-hail of Christendom was ready to confer
upon him as the Champion
of the Cross.


Butby the Archbishop's reportit appeared that Saladin was
assembling all the force of his hundred tribesand that the
monarchs of Europealready disgusted from various motives with
the expeditionwhich had proved so hazardousand was daily
growing more sohad resolved to abandon their purpose. In this
they were countenanced by the example of Philip of Francewho
with many protestations of regardand assurances that he would
first see his brother of England in safetydeclared his
intention to return to Europe. His great vassalthe Earl of



Champagnehad adopted the same resolution; and it could not
excite surprise that Leopold of Austriaaffronted as he had been
by Richardwas glad to embrace an opportunity of deserting a
cause in which his haughty opponent was to be considered as
chief. Others announced the same purpose; so that it was plain
that the King of England was to be leftif he chose to remain
supported only by such volunteers as mightunder such depressing
circumstancesjoin themselves to the English armyand by the
doubtful aid of Conrade of Montserrat and the military orders of
the Temple and of Saint Johnwhothough they were sworn to wage
battle against the Saracenswere at least equally jealous of any
European monarch achieving the conquest of Palestinewherewith
shortsighted and selfish policythey proposed to establish
independent dominions of their own.

It needed not many arguments to show Richard the truth of his
situation; and indeedafter his first burst of passionhe sat
him calmly downand with gloomy lookshead depressedand arms
folded on his bosomlistened to the Archbishop's reasoning on
the impossibility of his carrying on the Crusade when deserted by
his companions. Nayhe forbore interruptioneven when the
prelate venturedin measured termsto hint that Richard's own
impetuosity had been one main cause of disgusting the princes
with the expedition.

CONFITEOR,answered Richardwith a dejected lookand
something of a melancholy smile--"I confessreverend father
that I ought on some accounts to sing CULPA MEA. But is it not
hard that my frailties of temper should be visited with such a
penance--thatfor a burst or two of natural passionI should be
doomed to see fade before me ungathered such a rich harvest of
glory to God and honour to chivalry? But it shall NOT fade. By
the soul of the ConquerorI will plant the Cross on the towers
of Jerusalemor it shall be planted over Richard's grave!"

Thou mayest do it,said the prelateyet not another drop of
Christian blood be shed in the quarrel.

Ah, you speak of compromise, Lord Prelate; but the blood of the
infidel hounds must also cease to flow,said Richard.

There will be glory enough,replied the Archbishopin having
extorted from Saladin, by force of arms, and by the respect
inspired by your fame, such conditions as at once restore the
Holy Sepulchre, open the Holy Land to pilgrims, secure their
safety by strong fortresses, and, stronger than all, assure the
safety of the Holy City, by conferring on Richard the title of
King Guardian of Jerusalem.

How!said Richardhis eyes sparkling with unusual light. "I-
I--I the King Guardian of the Holy City! Victory itselfbut
that it is victorycould not gain more--scarce so muchwhen won
with unwilling and disunited forces. But Saladin still proposes
to retain his interest in the Holy Land?"

As a joint sovereign, the sworn ally,replied the prelateof
the mighty Richard--his relative, if it may be permitted, by
marriage.

By marriage!said Richardsurprisedyet less so than the
prelate had expected. "Ha!--ay--Edith Plantagenet. Did I dream
this? or did some one tell me? My head is still weak from this
feverand has been agitated. Was it the Scotor the Hakimor
yonder holy hermitthat hinted such a wild bargain?"


The hermit of Engaddi, most likely,said the Archbishopfor
he hath toiled much in this matter; and since the discontent of
the princes has became apparent, and a separation of their forces
unavoidable, he hath had many consultations, both with Christian
and pagan, for arranging such a pacification as may give to
Christendom, at least in part, the objects of this holy warfare.

My kinswoman to an infidel--ha!exclaimed Richardas his eyes
began to sparkle.

The prelate hastened to avert his wrath.

The Pope's consent must doubtless be first attained, and the
holy hermit, who is well known at Rome, will treat with the holy
Father.

How?--without our consent first given?said the King.

Surely no,said the Bishopin a quieting and insinuating tone
of voice--"only with and under your especial sanction."

My sanction to marry my kinswoman to an infidel!said Richard;
yet he spoke rather in a tone of doubt than as distinctly
reprobating the measure proposed. "Could I have dreamed of such
a composition when I leaped upon the Syrian shore from the prow
of my galleyeven as a lion springs on his prey! And now--But
proceed--I will hear with patience."

Equally delighted and surprised to find his task so much easier
than he had apprehendedthe Archbishop hastened to pour forth
before Richard the instances of such alliances in Spain--not
without countenance from the Holy See; the incalculable
advantages which all Christendom would derive from the union of
Richard and Saladin by a bond so sacred; andabove allhe spoke
with great vehemence and unction on the probability that Saladin
wouldin case of the proposed allianceexchange his false faith
for the true one.

Hath the Soldan shown any disposition to become Christian?
said Richard. "If sothe king lives not on earth to whom I
would grant the hand of a kinswomanayor sistersooner than
to my noble Saladin--aythough the one came to lay crown and
sceptre at her feetand the other had nothing to offer but his
good sword and better heart!"

Saladin hath heard our Christian teachers,said the Bishop
somewhat evasively--"my unworthy selfand others--and as he
listens with patienceand replies with calmnessit can hardly
be but that he be snatched as a brand from the burning. MAGNA
EST VERITASET PREVALEBIT! moreoverthe hermit of Engaddifew
of whose words have fallen fruitless to the groundis possessed
fully with the belief that there is a calling of the Saracens and
the other heathen approachingto which this marriage shall be
matter of induction. He readeth the course of the stars; and
dwellingwith maceration of the fleshin those divine places
which the saints have trodden of oldthe spirit of Elijah the
Tishbitethe founder of his blessed orderhath been with him as
it was with the prophet Elishathe son of Shaphatwhen he
spread his mantle over him."

King Richard listened to the Prelate's reasoning with a downcast
brow and a troubled look.


I cannot tell,he saidHow, it is with me, but methinks these
cold counsels of the Princes of Christendom have infected me too
with a lethargy of spirit. The time hath been that, had a layman
proposed such alliance to me, I had struck him to earth--if a
churchman, I had spit at him as a renegade and priest of Baal;
yet now this counsel sounds not so strange in mine ear. For why
should I not seek for brotherhood and alliance with a Saracen,
brave, just, generous--who loves and honours a worthy foe, as if
he were a friend--whilst the Princes of Christendom shrink from
the side of their allies, and forsake the cause of Heaven and
good knighthood? But I will possess my patience, and will not
think of them. Only one attempt will I make to keep this gallant
brotherhood together, if it be possible; and if I fail, Lord
Archbishop, we will speak together of thy counsel, which, as now,
I neither accept nor altogether reject. Wend we to the Council,
my lord--the hour calls us. Thou sayest Richard is hasty and
proud--thou shalt see him humble himself like the lowly broom-plant from which he derives his surname.

With the assistance of those of his privy chamberthe King then
hastily robed himself in a doublet and mantle of a dark and
uniform colour; and without any mark of regal dignityexcepting
a ring of gold upon his headhe hastened with the Archbishop of
Tyre to attend the Councilwhich waited but his presence to
commence its sitting.

The pavilion of the Council was an ample tenthaving before it
the large Banner of the Cross displayedand anotheron which
was portrayed a female kneelingwith dishevelled hair and
disordered dressmeant to represent the desolate and distressed
Church of Jerusalemand bearing the mottoAFFLICTAE SPONSAE NE
OBLIVISCARIS. Warderscarefully selectedkept every one at a
distance from the neighbourhood of this tentlest the debates
which were sometimes of a loud and stormy charactershould reach
other ears than those they were designed for.

Herethereforethe princes of the Crusade were assembled
awaiting Richard's arrival. And even the brief delay which was
thus interposed was turned to his disadvantage by his enemies
various instances being circulated of his pride and undue
assumption of superiorityof which even the necessity of the
present short pause was quoted as an instance. Men strove to
fortify each other in their evil opinion of the King of England
and vindicated the offence which each had takenby putting the
most severe construction upon circumstances the most trifling;
and all thisperhapsbecause they were conscious of an
instinctive reverence for the heroic monarchwhich it would
require more than ordinary efforts to overcome.

They had settledaccordinglythat they should receive him on
his entrance with slight noticeand no more respect than was
exactly necessary to keep within the bounds of cold ceremonial.
But when they beheld that noble formthat princely countenance
somewhat pale from his late illness-- the eye which had been
called by minstrels the bright star of battle and victory--when
his featsalmost surpassing human strength and valourrushed on
their recollectionthe Council of Princes simultaneously arose
--even the jealous King of France and the sullen and offended
Duke of Austria--arose with one consentand the assembled
princes burst forth with one voice in the acclamationGod save
King Richard of England! Long life to the valiant Lion's-heart!

With a countenance frank and open as the summer sun when it
risesRichard distributed his thanks aroundand congratulated
himself on being once more among his royal brethren of the


Crusade.

Some brief words he desired to say,such was his address to the
assemblythough on a subject so unworthy as himself, even at
the risk of delaying for a few minutes their consultations for
the weal of Christendom and the advancement of their holy
enterprise.

The assembled princes resumed their seatsand there was a
profound silence.

This day,continued the King of Englandis a high festival of
the church, and it well becomes Christian men, at such a tide, to
reconcile themselves with their brethren, and confess their
faults to each other. Noble princes and fathers of this holy
expedition, Richard is a soldier--his hand is ever readier than
his tongue--and his tongue is but too much used to the rough
language of his trade. But do not, for Plantagenet's hasty
speeches and ill-considered actions, forsake the noble cause of
the redemption of Palestine--do not throw away earthly renown
and eternal salvation, to be won here if ever they can be won by
man, because the act of a soldier may have been hasty, and his
speech as hard as the iron which he has worn from childhood. Is
Richard in default to any of you, Richard will make compensation
both by word and action.--Noble brother of France, have I been so
unlucky as to offend you?

The Majesty of France has no atonement to seek from that of
England,answered Philipwith kingly dignityacceptingat the
same timethe offered hand of Richard; "and whatever opinion I
may adopt concerning the prosecution of this enterprise will
depend on reasons arising out of the state of my own kingdom-certainly
on no jealousy or disgust at my royal and most
valorous brother."

Austria,said Richardwalking up to the Archdukewith a
mixture of frankness and dignitywhile Leopold arose from his
seatas if involuntarilyand with the action of an automaton
whose motions depended upon some external impulse--"Austria
thinks he hath reason to be offended with England; Englandthat
he hath cause to complain of Austria. Let them exchange
forgivenessthat the peace of Europe and the concord of this
host may remain unbroken. We are now joint supporters of a more
glorious banner than ever blazed before an earthly princeeven
the Banner of Salvation. Let notthereforestrife be betwixt
us for the symbol of our more worldly dignities; but let Leopold
restore the pennon of Englandif he has it in his powerand
Richard will saythough from no motive save his love for Holy
Churchthat he repents him of the hasty mood in which he did
insult the standard of Austria."

The Archduke stood stillsullen and discontentedwith his eyes
fixed on the floorand his countenance lowering with smothered
displeasurewhich awemingled with awkwardnessprevented his
giving vent to in words.

The Patriarch of Jerusalem hastened to break the embarrassing
silenceand to bear witness for the Archduke of Austria that he
had exculpated himselfby a solemn oathfrom all knowledge
direct or indirectof the aggression done to the Banner of
England.

Then we have done the noble Archduke the greater wrong,said
Richard; "and craving his pardon for imputing to him an outrage


so cowardlywe extend our hand to him in token of renewed peace
and amity. But how is this? Austria refuses our uncovered hand
as he formerly refused our mailed glove? What! are we neither
to be his mate in peace nor his antagonist in war? Welllet it
be so. We will take the slight esteem in which he holds us as a
penance for aught which we may have done against him in heat of
bloodand will therefore hold the account between us cleared."

So sayinghe turned from the Archduke with an air rather of
dignity than scornleaving the Austrian apparently as much
relieved by the removal of his eye as is a sullen and truant
schoolboy when the glance of his severe pedagogue is withdrawn.

Noble Earl of Champagne--princely Marquis of Montserrat
--valiant Grand Master of the Templars--I am here a penitent in
the confessional. Do any of you bring a charge or claim amends
from me?

I know not on what we could ground any,said the smooth-tongued
Conradeunless it were that the King of England carries off
from his poor brothers of the war all the fame which they might
have hoped to gain in the expedition.

My charge, if I am called on to make one,said the Master of
the Templarsis graver and deeper than that of the Marquis of
Montserrat. It may be thought ill to beseem a military monk such
as I to raise his voice where so many noble princes remain
silent; but it concerns our whole host, and not least this noble
King of England, that he should hear from some one to his face
those charges which there are enow to bring against him in his
absence. We laud and honour the courage and high achievements of
the King of England; but we feel aggrieved that he should on all
occasions seize and maintain a precedence and superiority over
us, which it becomes not independent princes to submit to. Much
we might yield of our free will to his bravery, his zeal, his
wealth, and his power; but he who snatches all as matter of
right, and leaves nothing to grant out of courtesy and favour,
degrades us from allies into retainers and vassals, and sullies
in the eyes of our soldiers and subjects the lustre of our
authority, which is no longer independently exercised. Since the
royal Richard has asked the truth from us, he must neither be
surprised nor angry when he hears one, to whom worldly pomp is
prohibited, and secular authority is nothing, saving so far as it
advances the prosperity of God's Temple, and the prostration of
the lion which goeth about seeking whom he may devour--when he
hears, I say, such a one as I tell him the truth in reply to his
question; which truth, even while I speak it, is, I know,
confirmed by the heart of every one who hears me, however respect
may stifle their voices.

Richard coloured very highly while the Grand Master was making
this direct and unvarnished attack upon his conductand the
murmur of assent which followed it showed plainly that almost all
who were present acquiesced in the justice of the accusation.
Incensedand at the same time mortifiedhe yet foresaw that to
give way to his headlong resentment would be to give the cold and
wary accuser the advantage over him which it was the Templar's
principal object to obtain. He thereforewith a strong effort
remained silent till he had repeated a pater nosterbeing the
course which his confessor had enjoined him to pursue when anger
was likely to obtain dominion over him. The King then spoke with
composurethough not without an embittered toneespecially at
the outset:-



And is it even so? And are our brethren at such pains to note
the infirmities of our natural temper, and the rough precipitance
of our zeal, which may sometimes have urged us to issue commands
when there was little time to hold council? I could not have
thought that offences, casual and unpremeditated like mine, could
find such deep root in the hearts of my allies in this most holy
cause; that for my sake they should withdraw their hands from the
plough when the furrow was near the end--for my sake turn aside
from the direct path to Jerusalem, which their swords have
opened. I vainly thought that my small services might have
outweighed my rash errors--that if it were remembered that I
pressed to the van in an assault, it would not be forgotten that
I was ever the last in the retreat--that, if I elevated my banner
upon conquered fields of battle, it was all the advantage that I
sought, while others were dividing the spoil. I may have called
the conquered city by my name, but it was to others that I
yielded the dominion. If I have been headstrong in urging bold
counsels, I have not, methinks, spared my own blood or my
people's in carrying them into as bold execution; or if I have,
in the hurry of march or battle, assumed a command over the
soldiers of others, such have been ever treated as my own when my
wealth purchased the provisions and medicines which their own
sovereigns could not procure. But it shames me to remind you of
what all but myself seem to have forgotten. Let us rather look
forward to our future measures; and believe me, brethren,he
continuedhis face kindling with eagernessyou shall not find
the pride, or the wrath, or the ambition of Richard a stumbling-block of offence in the path to which
religion and glory summon
you as with the trumpet of an archangel. Oh, no, no! never would
I survive the thought that my frailties and infirmities had been
the means to sever this goodly fellowship of assembled princes.
I would cut off my left hand with my right, could my doing so
attest my sincerity. I will yield up, voluntarily, all right to
command in the host--even mine own liege subjects. They shall be
led by such sovereigns as you may nominate; and their King, ever
but too apt to exchange the leader's baton for the adventurer's
lance, will serve under the banner of Beau-Seant among the
Templars--ay, or under that of Austria, if Austria will name a
brave man to lead his forces. Or if ye are yourselves a-weary of
this war, and feel your armour chafe your tender bodies, leave
but with Richard some ten or fifteen thousand of your soldiers to
work out the accomplishment of your vow; and when Zion is won,
he exclaimedwaving his hand aloftas if displaying the
standard of the Cross over Jerusalem--"when Zion is wonwe will
write upon her gatesNOT the name of Richard Plantagenetbut of
those generous princes who entrusted him with the means of
conquest!"

The rough eloquence and determined expression of the military
monarch at once roused the drooping spirits of the Crusaders
reanimated their devotionandfixing their attention on the
principal object of the expeditionmade most of them who were
present blush for having been moved by such petty subjects of
complaint as had before engrossed them. Eye caught fire from
eyevoice lent courage to voice. They resumedas with one
accordthe war-cry with which the sermon of Peter the Hermit was
echoed backand shouted aloudLead us on, gallant Lion's-heart; none so worthy to lead where brave men
follow. Lead us
on--to Jerusalem--to Jerusalem! It is the will of God--it is the
will of God! Blessed is he who shall lend an arm to its
fulfilment!

The shoutso suddenly and generally raisedwas heard beyond the
ring of sentinels who guarded the pavilion of Counciland spread


among the soldiers of the hostwhoinactive and dispirited by
disease and climatehad begunlike their leadersto droop in
resolution; but the reappearance of Richard in renewed vigour
and the well-known shout which echoed from the assembly of the
princesat once rekindled their enthusiasmand thousands and
tens of thousands answered with the same shout of "ZionZion!
Warwar! Instant battle with the infidels! It is the will of
God--it is the will of God!"

The acclamations from without increased in their turn the
enthusiasm which prevailed within the pavilion. Those who did
not actually catch the flame were afraid--at least for the time
--to seem colder than others. There was no more speech except of
a proud advance towards Jerusalem upon the expiry of the truce
and the measures to be taken in the meantime for supplying and
recruiting the army. The Council broke upall apparently filled
with the same enthusiastic purpose--whichhoweversoon faded
in the bosom of mostand never had an existence in that of
others.

Of the latter class were the Marquis Conrade and the Grand Master
of the Templarswho retired together to their quarters ill at
easeand malcontent with the events of the day.

I ever told it to thee,said the latterwith the cold
sardonic expression peculiar to himthat Richard would burst
through the flimsy wiles you spread for him, as would a lion
through a spider's web. Thou seest he has but to speak, and his
breath agitates these fickle fools as easily as the whirlwind
catcheth scattered straws, and sweeps them together, or disperses
them at its pleasure.

When the blast has passed away,said Conradethe straws,
which it made dance to its pipe, will settle to earth again.

But knowest thou not besides,said the Templarthat it seems,
if this new purpose of conquest shall be abandoned and pass away,
and each mighty prince shall again be left to such guidance as
his own scanty brain can supply, Richard may yet probably become
King of Jerusalem by compact, and establish those terms of treaty
with the Soldan which thou thyself thought'st him so likely to
spurn at?

Now, by Mahound and Termagaunt, for Christian oaths are out of
fashion,said Conradesayest thou the proud King of England
would unite his blood with a heathen Soldan? My policy threw in
that ingredient to make the whole treaty an abomination to him.
As bad for us that he become our master by an agreement, as by
victory.

Thy policy hath ill calculated Richard's digestion,answered
the Templar; "I know his mind by a whisper from the Archbishop.
And then thy master-stroke respecting yonder banner--it has
passed off with no more respect than two cubits of embroidered
silk merited. Marquis Conradethy wit begins to halt; I will
trust thy finespun measures no longerbut will try my own.
Knowest thou not the people whom the Saracens call Charegites?"

Surely,answered the Marquis; "they are desperate and besotted
enthusiastswho devote their lives to the advancement of
religion---somewhat like Templarsonly they are never known to
pause in the race of their calling."

Jest not,answered the scowling monk. "Know that one of these


men has set down in his bloody vow the name of the Island Emperor
yonderto be hewn down as the chief enemy of the Moslem faith."


A most judicious paynim,said Conrade. "May Mohammed send him
his paradise for a reward!"


He was taken in the camp by one of our squires, and in private
examination frankly avowed his fixed and determined purpose to
me,said the Grand Master.


Now the heavens pardon them who prevented the purpose of this
most judicious Charegite!answered Conrade.


He is my prisoner,added the Templarand secluded from speech
with others, as thou mayest suppose; but prisons have been
broken--


Chains left unlocked, and captives have escaped,answered the
Marquis. "It is an ancient sayingno sure dungeon but the
grave."


When loose, he resumes his quest,continued the military
priest; "for it is the nature of this sort of blood hound never
to quit the suit of the prey he has once scented."


Say no more of it,said the Marquis; "I see thy policy--it is
dreadfulbut the emergency is imminent."


I only told thee of it,said the Templarthat thou mayest
keep thyself on thy guard; for the uproar will be dreadful, and
there is no knowing on whom the English may vent their rage. Ay,
and there is another risk. My page knows the counsels of this
Charegite,he continued; "andmoreoverhe is a peevishself-willed foolwhom I would I were rid ofas
he thwarts me by
presuming to see with his own eyesnot mine. But our holy order
gives me power to put a remedy to such inconvenience. Or stay--
the Saracen may find a good dagger in his celland I warrant you
he uses it as he breaks forthwhich will be of a surety so soon
as the page enters with his food."


It will give the affair a colour,said Conrade; "and yet--"


YET and BUT,said the Templarare words for fools; wise men
neither hesitate nor retract--they resolve and they execute.


CHAPTER XX.


When beauty leads the lion in her toils
Such are her charmshe dare not raise his mane
Far less expand the terror of his fangs.
So great Alcides made his club a distaff
And spun to please fair Omphale. ANONYMOUS.


Richardthe unsuspicious object of the dark treachery detailed
in the closing part of the last chapterhaving effectedfor the
present at leastthe triumphant union of the Crusading princes
in a resolution to prosecute the war with vigourhad it next at
heart to establish tranquillity in his own family; andnow that
he could judge more temperatelyto inquire distinctly into the
circumstances leading to the loss of his bannerand the nature
and the extent of the connection betwixt his kinswoman Edith and
the banished adventurer from Scotland.



Accordinglythe Queen and her household were startled with a
visit from Sir Thomas de Vauxrequesting the present attendance
of the Lady Calista of Montfauconthe Queen's principal bower-womanupon King Richard.

What am I to say, madam?said the trembling attendant to the
QueenHe will slay us all.

Nay, fear not, madam,said De Vaux. "His Majesty hath spared
the life of the Scottish knightwho was the chief offenderand
bestowed him upon the Moorish physician. He will not be severe
upon a ladythough faulty."

Devise some cunning tale, wench,said Berengaria. "My husband
hath too little time to make inquiry into the truth."

Tell the tale as it really happened,said Edithlest I tell
it for thee.

With humble permission of her Majesty,said De VauxI would
say Lady Edith adviseth well; for although King Richard is
pleased to believe what it pleases your Grace to tell him, yet I
doubt his having the same deference for the Lady Calista, and in
this especial matter.

The Lord of Gilsland is right,said the Lady Calistamuch
agitated at the thoughts of the investigation which was to take
place; "and besidesif I had presence of mind enough to forge a
plausible storybeshrew me if I think I should have the courage
to tell it."

In this candid humourthe Lady Calista was conducted by De Vaux
to the Kingand madeas she had proposeda full confession of
the decoy by which the unfortunate Knight of the Leopard had been
induced to desert his post; exculpating the Lady Edithwhoshe
was awarewould not fail to exculpate herselfand laying the
full burden on the Queenher mistresswhose share of the
frolicshe well knewwould appear the most venial in the eyes
of Coeur de Lion. In truthRichard was a fondalmost a
uxorious husband. The first burst of his wrath had long since
passed awayand he was not disposed severely to censure what
could not now be amended. The wily Lady Calistaaccustomed from
her earliest childhood to fathom the intrigues of a courtand
watch the indications of a sovereign's willhastened back to the
Queen with the speed of a lapwingcharged with the King's
commands that she should expect a speedy visit from him; to which
the bower-lady added a commentary founded on her own observation
tending to show that Richard meant just to preserve so much
severity as might bring his royal consort to repent of her
frolicand then to extend to her and all concerned his gracious
pardon.

Sits the wind in that corner, wench?said the Queenmuch
relieved by this intelligence. "Believe me thatgreat commander
as he isRichard will find it hard to circumvent us in this
matterand thatas the Pyrenean shepherds are wont to say in my
native NavarreMany a one comes for wooland goes back shorn."

Having possessed herself of all the information which Calista
could communicatethe royal Berengaria arrayed herself in her
most becoming dressand awaited with confidence the arrival of
the heroic Richard.

He arrivedand found himself in the situation of a prince


entering an offending provincein the confidence that his
business will only be to inflict rebukeand receive submission
when he unexpectedly finds it in a state of complete defiance and
insurrection. Berengaria well knew the power of her charms and
the extent of Richard's affectionand felt assured that she
could make her own terms goodnow that the first tremendous
explosion of his anger had expended itself without mischief. Far
from listening to the King's intended rebukeas what the levity
of her conduct had justly deservedshe extenuatednaydefended
as a harmless frolicthat which she was accused of. She denied
indeedwith many a pretty form of negationthat she had
directed Nectabanus absolutely to entice the knight farther than
the brink of the Mount on which he kept watch--andindeedthis
was so far truethat she had not designed Sir Kenneth to be
introduced into her tent--and theneloquent in urging her own
defencethe Queen was far more so in pressing upon Richard the
charge of unkindnessin refusing her so poor a boon as the life
of an unfortunate knightwhoby her thoughtless prankhad been
brought within the danger of martial law. She wept and sobbed
while she enlarged on her husband's obduracy on this scoreas a
rigour which had threatened to make her unhappy for life
whenever she should reflect that she had givenunthinkinglythe
remote cause for such a tragedy. The vision of the slaughtered
victim would have haunted her dreams--nayfor aught she knew
since such things often happenedhis actual spectre might have
stood by her waking couch. To all this misery of the mind was
she exposed by the severity of one whowhile he pretended to
dote upon her slightest glancewould not forego one act of poor
revengethough the issue was to render her miserable.

All this flow of female eloquence was accompanied with the usual
arguments of tears and sighsand uttered with such tone and
action as seemed to show that the Queen's resentment arose
neither from pride nor sullennessbut from feelings hurt at
finding her consequence with her husband less than she had
expected to possess.

The good King Richard was considerably embarrassed. He tried in
vain to reason with one whose very jealousy of his affection
rendered her incapable of listening to argumentnor could he
bring himself to use the restraint of lawful authority to a
creature so beautiful in the midst of her unreasonable
displeasure. He was therefore reduced to the defensive
endeavoured gently to chide her suspicions and soothe her
displeasureand recalled to her mind that she need not look back
upon the past with recollections either of remorse or
supernatural fearsince Sir Kenneth was alive and welland had
been bestowed by him upon the great Arabian physicianwho
doubtlessof all menknew best how to keep him living. But
this seemed the unkindest cut of alland the Queen's sorrow was
renewed at the idea of a Saracen--a mediciner--obtaining a boon
for whichwith bare head and on bended kneeshe had petitioned
her husband in vain. At this new charge Richard's patience began
rather to give wayand he saidin a serious tone of voice
Berengaria, the physician saved my life. If it is of value in
your eyes, you will not grudge him a higher recompense than the
only one I could prevail on him to accept.

The Queen was satisfied she had urged her coquettish displeasure
to the verge of safety.

My Richard,she saidwhy brought you not that sage to me,
that England's Queen might show how she esteemed him who could
save from extinction the lamp of chivalry, the glory of England,


and the light of poor Berengaria's life and hope?

In a wordthe matrimonial dispute was ended; butthat some
penalty might be paid to justiceboth King and Queen accorded in
laying the whole blame on the agent Nectabanuswho (the Queen
being by this time well weary of the poor dwarf's humour) was
with his royal consort Guenevrasentenced to be banished from
the Court; and the unlucky dwarf only escaped a supplementary
whippingfrom the Queen's assurances that he had already
sustained personal chastisement. It was decreed further thatas
an envoy was shortly to be dispatched to Saladinacquainting him
with the resolution of the Council to resume hostilities so soon
as the truce was endedand as Richard proposed to send a
valuable present to the Soldanin acknowledgment of the high
benefit he had derived from the services of El Hakimthe two
unhappy creatures should be added to it as curiositieswhich
from their extremely grotesque appearanceand the shattered
state of their intellectwere gifts that might well pass between
sovereign and sovereign.

Richard had that day yet another female encounter to sustain; but
he advanced to it with comparative indifferencefor Edith
though beautiful and highly esteemed by her royal relative--nay
although she had from his unjust suspicions actually sustained
the injury of which Berengaria only affected to complain--still
was neither Richard's wife nor mistressand he feared her
reproaches lessalthough founded in reasonthan those of the
Queenthough unjust and fantastical. Having requested to speak
with her aparthe was ushered into her apartmentadjoining that
of the Queenwhose two female Coptish slaves remained on their
knees in the most remote corner during the interview. A thin
black veil extended its ample folds over the tall and graceful
form of the high-born maidenand she wore not upon her person
any female ornament of what kind soever. She arose and made a low
reverence when Richard enteredresumed her seat at his command
andwhen he sat down beside herwaitedwithout uttering a
syllableuntil he should communicate his pleasure.

Richardwhose custom it was to be familiar with Edithas their
relationship authorizedfelt this reception chillingand opened
the conversation with some embarrassment.

Our fair cousin,he at length saidis angry with us; and we
own that strong circumstances have induced us, without cause, to
suspect her of conduct alien to what we have ever known in her
course of life. But while we walk in this misty valley of
humanity, men will mistake shadows for substances. Can my fair
cousin not forgive her somewhat vehement kinsman Richard?

Who can refuse forgiveness to RICHARD,answered Edith
provided Richard can obtain pardon of the KING?

Come, my kinswoman,replied Coeur de Lionthis is all too
solemn. By Our Lady, such a melancholy countenance, and this
ample sable veil, might make men think thou wert a new-made
widow, or had lost a betrothed lover, at least. Cheer up! Thou
hast heard, doubtless, that there is no real cause for woe; why,
then, keep up the form of mourning?

For the departed honour of Plantagenet--for the glory which hath
left my father's house.

Richard frowned. "Departed honour! glory which hath left our
house!" he repeated angrily. "But my cousin Edith is


privileged. I have judged her too hastily; she has therefore a
right to deem of me too harshly. But tell me at least in what I
have faulted."

Plantagenet,said Edithshould have either pardoned an
offence, or punished it. It misbecomes him to assign free men,
Christians, and brave knights, to the fetters of the infidels.
It becomes him not to compromise and barter, or to grunt life
under the forfeiture of liberty. To have doomed the unfortunate
to death might have been severity, but had a show of justice; to
condemn him to slavery and exile was barefaced tyranny.

I see, my fair cousin,said Richardyou are of those pretty
ones who think an absent lover as bad as none, or as a dead one.
Be patient; half a score of light horsemen may yet follow and
redeem the error, if thy gallant have in keeping any secret which
might render his death more convenient than his banishment.

Peace with thy scurrile jests!answered Edithcolouring
deeply. "Thinkratherthat for the indulgence of thy mood thou
hast lopped from this great enterprise one goodly limbdeprived
the Cross of one of its most brave supportersand placed a
servant of the true God in the hands of the heathen; hast given
tooto minds as suspicious as thou hast shown thine own in this
mattersome right to say that Richard Coeur de Lion banished the
bravest soldier in his camp lest his name in battle might match
his own."

I--I!exclaimed Richardnow indeed greatly moved--"am I one
to be jealous of renown? I would he were here to profess such an
equality! I would waive my rank and my crownand meet him
manlikein the liststhat it might appear whether Richard
Plantagenet had room to fear or to envy the prowess of mortal
man. ComeEdiththou think'st not as thou sayest. Let not
anger or grief for the absence of thy lover make thee unjust to
thy kinsmanwhonotwithstanding all thy techinessvalues thy
good report as high as that of any one living."

The absence of my lover?said the Lady EdithBut yes, he may
be well termed my lover, who hath paid so dear for the title.
Unworthy as I might be of such homage, I was to him like a light,
leading him forward in the noble path of chivalry; but that I
forgot my rank, or that he presumed beyond his, is false, were a
king to speak it.

My fair cousin,said Richarddo not put words in my mouth
which I have not spoken. I said not you had graced this man
beyond the favour which a good knight may earn, even from a
princess, whatever be his native condition. But, by Our Lady, I
know something of this love-gear. It begins with mute respect
and distant reverence; but when opportunities occur, familiarity
increases, and so--But it skills not talking with one who thinks
herself wiser than all the world.

My kinsman's counsels I willingly listen to, when they are
such,said Edithas convey no insult to my rank and
character.

Kings, my fair cousin, do not counsel, but rather command,said
Richard.

Soldans do indeed command,said Edithbut it is because they
have slaves to govern.


Come, you might learn to lay aside this scorn of Soldanrie, when
you hold so high of a Scot,said the King. "I hold Saladin to
be truer to his word than this William of Scotlandwho must
needs be called a Lionforsooth; he hath foully faulted towards
me in failing to send the auxiliary aid he promised. Let me tell
theeEdiththou mayest live to prefer a true Turk to a false
Scot."

No--never!answered Edith--"not should Richard himself embrace
the false religionwhich he crossed the seas to expel from
Palestine."

Thou wilt have the last word,said Richardand thou shalt
have it. Even think of me what thou wilt, pretty Edith. I shall
not forget that we are near and dear cousins.

So sayinghe took his leave in fair fashionbut very little
satisfied with the result of his visit.

It was the fourth day after Sir Kenneth had been dismissed from
the campand King Richard sat in his pavilionenjoying an
evening breeze from the westwhichwith unusual coolness on her
wingsseemed breathed from merry England for the refreshment of
her adventurous Monarchas he was gradually recovering the full
strength which was necessary to carry on his gigantic projects.
There was no one with himDe Vaux having been sent to Ascalon to
bring up reinforcements and supplies of military munitionand
most of his other attendants being occupied in different
departmentsall preparing for the re-opening of hostilitiesand
for a grand preparatory review of the army of the Crusaders
which was to take place the next day. The King sat listening to
the busy hum among the soldierythe clatter from the forges
where horseshoes were preparingand from the tents of the
armourerswho were repairing harness. The voice of the
soldierstooas they passed and repassedwas loud and
cheerfulcarrying with its very tone an assurance of high and
excited courageand an omen of approaching victory. While
Richard's ear drank in these sounds with delightand while he
yielded himself to the visions of conquest and of glory which
they suggestedan equerry told him that a messenger from Saladin
waited without.

Admit him instantly,said the Kingand with due honour,
Josceline.

The English knight accordingly introduced a personapparently of
no higher rank than a Nubian slavewhose appearance was
nevertheless highly interesting. He was of superb stature and
nobly formedand his commanding featuresalthough almost jet-blackshowed nothing of negro descent.
He wore over his coal-black locks a milk-white turbanand over his shoulders a short
mantle of the same colouropen in front and at the sleeves
under which appeared a doublet of dressed leopard's skin reaching
within a handbreadth of the knee. The rest of his muscular
limbsboth legs and armswere bareexcepting that he had
sandals on his feetand wore a collar and bracelets of silver.
A straight broadswordwith a handle of box-wood and a sheath
covered with snakeskinwas suspended from his waist. In his
right hand he held a short javelinwith a broadbright steel
headof a span in lengthand in his left he led by a leash of
twisted silk and gold a large and noble staghound.

The messenger prostrated himselfat the same time partially
uncovering his shouldersin sign of humiliationand having
touched the earth with his foreheadarose so far as to rest on


one kneewhile he delivered to the King a silken napkin
enclosing another of cloth of goldwithin which was a letter
from Saladin in the original Arabicwith a translation into
Norman-Englishwhich may be modernized thus:-


Saladin, King of Kings, to Melech Ric, the Lion of England.
Whereas, we are informed by thy last message that thou hast
chosen war rather than peace, and our enmity rather than our
friendship, we account thee as one blinded in this matter, and
trust shortly to convince thee of thine error, by the help of our
invincible forces of the thousand tribes, when Mohammed, the
Prophet of God, and Allah, the God of the Prophet, shall judge
the controversy betwixt us. In what remains, we make noble
account of thee, and of the gifts which thou hast sent us, and of
the two dwarfs, singular in their deformity as Ysop, and mirthful
as the lute of Isaack. And in requital of these tokens from the
treasure-house of thy bounty, behold we have sent thee a Nubian
slave, named Zohauk, of whom judge not by his complexion,
according to the foolish ones of the earth, in respect the dark-rinded fruit hath the most exquisite flavour.
Know that he is
strong to execute the will of his master, as Rustan of Zablestan;
also he is wise to give counsel when thou shalt learn to hold
communication with him, for the Lord of Speech hath been stricken
with silence betwixt the ivory walls of his palace. We commend
him to thy care, hoping the hour may not be distant when he may
render thee good service. And herewith we bid thee farewell;
trusting that our most holy Prophet may yet call thee to a sight
of the truth, failing which illumination, our desire is for the
speedy restoration of thy royal health, that Allah may judge
between thee and us in a plain field of battle.

And the missive was sanctioned by the signature and seal of the
Soldan.

Richard surveyed the Nubian in silence as he stood before him
his looks bent upon the groundhis arms folded on his bosom
with the appearance of a black marble statue of the most
exquisite workmanshipwaiting life from the touch of a
Prometheus. The King of Englandwhoas it was emphatically
said of his successor Henry the Eighthloved to look upon A MAN
was well pleased with the thewssinewsand symmetry of him whom
he now surveyedand questioned him in the lingua francaArt
thou a pagan?

The slave shook his headand raising his finger to his brow
crossed himself in token of his Christianitythen resumed his
posture of motionless humility.

A Nubian Christian, doubtless,said Richardand mutilated of
the organ of speech by these heathen dogs?

The mute again slowly shook his headin token of negative
pointed with his forefinger to Heavenand then laid it upon his
own lips.

I understand thee,said Richard; "thou dost suffer under the
infliction of Godnot by the cruelty of man. Canst thou clean an
armour and beltand buckle it in time of need?"

The mute noddedand stepping towards the coat of mailwhich
hung with the shield and helmet of the chivalrous monarch upon
the pillar of the tenthe handled it with such nicety of address
as sufficiently to show that he fully understood the business of
an armour-bearer.


Thou art an apt, and wilt doubtless be a useful knave. Thou
shalt wait in my chamber, and on my person,said the Kingto
show how much I value the gift of the royal Soldan. If thou hast
no tongue, it follows thou canst carry no tales, neither provoke
me to be sudden by any unfit reply.

The Nubian again prostrated himself till his brow touched the
earththen stood erectat some paces distantas waiting for
his new master's commands.

Nay, thou shalt commence thy office presently,said Richard
for I see a speck of rust darkening on that shield; and when I
shake it in the face of Saladin, it should be bright and
unsullied as the Soldan's honour and mine own.

A horn was winded withoutand presently Sir Henry Neville
entered with a packet of dispatches. "From Englandmy lord he
said, as he delivered it.

From England--our own England!" repeated Richardin a tone of
melancholy enthusiasm. "Alas! they little think how hard their
Sovereign has been beset by sickness and sorrow--faint friends
and forward enemies." Then opening the dispatcheshe said
hastilyHa! this comes from no peaceful land--they too have
their feuds. Neville, begone; I must peruse these tidings alone,
and at leisure.

Neville withdrew accordinglyand Richard was soon absorbed in
the melancholy details which had been conveyed to him from
Englandconcerning the factions that were tearing to pieces his
native dominions--the disunion of his brothers John and Geoffrey
and the quarrels of both with the High Justiciary Longchamp
Bishop of Ely--the oppressions practised by the nobles upon the
peasantryand rebellion of the latter against their masters
which had produced everywhere scenes of discordand in some
instances the effusion of blood. Details of incidents mortifying
to his prideand derogatory from his authoritywere
intermingled with the earnest advice of his wisest and most
attached counsellors that he should presently return to England
as his presence offered the only hope of saving the Kingdom from
all the horrors of civil discordof which France and Scotland
were likely to avail themselves. Filled with the most painful
anxietyRichard readand again readthe ill-omened letters;
compared the intelligence which some of them contained with the
same facts as differently stated in others; and soon became
totally insensible to whatever was passing around himalthough
seatedfor the sake of coolnessclose to the entrance of his
tentand having the curtains withdrawnso that he could see and
be seen by the guards and others who were stationed without.

Deeper in the shadow of the pavilionand busied with the task
his new master had imposedsat the Nubian slavewith his back
rather turned towards the King. He had finished adjusting and
cleaning the hauberk and brigandineand was now busily employed
on a broad pavesseor bucklerof unusual sizeand covered with
steel-platingwhich Richard often used in reconnoitringor
actually storming fortified placesas a more effectual
protection against missile weapons than the narrow triangular
shield used on horseback. This pavesse bore neither the royal
lions of Englandnor any other deviceto attract the
observation of the defenders of the walls against which it was
advanced; the carethereforeof the armourer was addressed to
causing its surface to shine as bright as crystalin which he


seemed to be peculiarly successful. Beyond the Nubianand
scarce visible from withoutlay the large dogwhich might be
termed his brother slaveand whichas if he felt awed by being
transferred to a royal ownerwas couched close to the side of
the mutewith head and ears on the groundand his limbs and
tail drawn close around and under him.

While the Monarch and his new attendant were thus occupied
another actor crept upon the sceneand mingled among the group
of English yeomenabout a score of whomrespecting the
unusually pensive posture and close occupation of their
Sovereignwerecontrary to their wontkeeping a silent guard
in front of his tent. It was nothowevermore vigilant than
usual. Some were playing at games of hazard with small pebbles
others spoke together in whispers of the approaching day of
battleand several lay asleeptheir bulky limbs folded in their
green mantles.

Amid these careless warders glided the puny form of a little old
Turkpoorly dressed like a marabout or santon of the desert--a
sort of enthusiastswho sometimes ventured into the camp of the
Crusadersthough treated always with contumelyand often with
violence. Indeedthe luxury and profligate indulgence of the
Christian leaders had occasioned a motley concourse in their
tents of musicianscourtesansJewish merchantsCoptsTurks
and all the varied refuse of the Eastern nations; so that the
caftan and turbanthough to drive both from the Holy Land was
the professed object of the expeditionwerenevertheless
neither an uncommon nor an alarming sight in the camp of the
Crusaders. Whenhoweverthe little insignificant figure we
have described approached so nigh as to receive some interruption
from the wardershe dashed his dusky green turban from his head
showed that his beard and eyebrows were shaved like those of a
professed buffoonand that the expression of his fantastic and
writhen featuresas well as of his little black eyeswhich
glittered like jetwas that of a crazed imagination.

Dance, marabout,cried the soldiersacquainted with the
manners of these wandering enthusiastsdance, or we will
scourge thee with our bow-strings till thou spin as never top did
under schoolboy's lash.Thus shouted the reckless wardersas
much delighted at having a subject to tease as a child when he
catches a butterflyor a schoolboy upon discovering a bird's
nest.

The maraboutas if happy to do their behestsbounded from the
earthand spun his giddy round before them with singular
agilitywhichwhen contrasted with his slight and wasted
figureand diminutive appearancemade him resemble a withered
leaf twirled round and round at the pleasure of the winter's
breeze. His single lock of hair streamed upwards from his bald
and shaven headas if some genie upheld him by it; and indeed it
seemed as if supernatural art were necessary to the execution of
the wildwhirling dancein which scarce the tiptoe of the
performer was seen to touch the ground. Amid the vagaries of his
performance he flew here and therefrom one spot to another
still approachinghoweverthough almost imperceptiblyto the
entrance of the royal tent; so thatwhen at length he sunk
exhausted on the earthafter two or three bounds still higher
than those which he had yet executedhe was not above thirty
yards from the King's person.

Give him water,said one yeoman; "they always crave a drink
after their merry-go-round."


Aha, water, sayest thou, Long Allen?exclaimed another archer
with a most scornful emphasis on the despised element; "how
wouldst like such beverage thyselfafter such a morrice
dancing?"

The devil a water-drop he gets here,said a third. "We will
teach the light-footed old infidel to be a good Christianand
drink wine of Cyprus."

Ay, ay,said a fourth; "and in case he be restivefetch thou
Dick Hunter's hornthat he drenches his mare withal."

A circle was instantly formed around the prostrate and exhausted
derviseand while one tall yeoman raised his feeble form from
the groundanother presented to him a huge flagon of wine.
Incapable of speechthe old man shook his headand waved away
from him with his hand the liquor forbidden by the Prophet. But
his tormentors were not thus to be appeased.

The horn, the horn!exclaimed one. "Little difference between
a Turk and a Turkish horseand we will use him conforming."

By Saint George, you will choke him!said Long Allen; "and
besidesit is a sin to throw away upon a heathen dog as much
wine as would serve a good Christian for a treble night-cap."

Thou knowest not the nature of these Turks and pagans, Long
Allen,replied Henry Woodstall. "I tell theemanthat this
flagon of Cyprus will set his brains a-spinningjust in the
opposite direction that they went whirling in the dancingand so
bring himas it wereto himself again. Choke? He will no more
choke on it than Ben's black bitch on the pound of butter."

And for grudging it,said Tomalin Blackleeswhy shouldst thou
grudge the poor paynim devil a drop of drink on earth, since thou
knowest he is not to have a drop to cool the tip of his tongue
through a long eternity?

That were hard laws, look ye,said Long Allenonly for being
a Turk, as his father was before him. Had he been Christian
turned heathen, I grant you the hottest corner had been good
winter quarters for him.

Hold thy peace, Long Allen,said Henry Woodstall. "I tell thee
that tongue of thine is not the shortest limb about theeand I
prophesy that it will bring thee into disgrace with Father
Francisas once about the black-eyed Syrian wench. But here
comes the horn. Be active a bitmanwilt thouand just force
open his teeth with the haft of thy dudgeon-dagger."

Hold, hold--he is conformable,said Tomalin; "seeseehe
signs for the goblet--give him roomboys! OOP SEY ESquoth the
Dutchman--down it goes like lamb's-wool! Naythey are true
topers when once they begin--your Turk never coughs in his cup
or stints in his liquoring."

In factthe derviseor whatever he wasdrank--or at least
seemed to drink--the large flagon to the very bottom at a single
pull; and when he took it from his lips after the whole contents
were exhaustedonly utteredwith a deep sighthe wordsALLAH
KERIMor God is merciful. There was a laugh among the yeomen
who witnessed this pottle-deep potationso obstreperous as to
rouse and disturb the Kingwhoraising his fingersaid


angrilyHow, knaves, no respect, no observance?


All were at once hushed into silencewell acquainted with the
temper of Richardwhich at some times admitted of much military
familiarityand at others exacted the most precise respect
although the latter humour was of much more rare occurrence.
Hastening to a more reverent distance from the royal personthey
attempted to drag along with them the maraboutwhoexhausted
apparently by previous fatigueor overpowered by the potent
draught he had just swallowedresisted being moved from the
spotboth with struggles and groans.


Leave him still, ye fools,whispered Long Allen to his mates;
by Saint Christopher, you will make our Dickon go beside
himself, and we shall have his dagger presently fly at our
costards. Leave him alone; in less than a minute he will sleep
like a dormouse.


At the same moment the Monarch darted another impatient glance to
the spotand all retreated in hasteleaving the dervise on the
groundunableas it seemedto stir a single limb or joint of
his body. In a moment afterward all was as still and quiet as it
had been before the intrusion.


CHAPTER XXI


--and wither'd Murder
Alarum'd by his sentinelthe wolf
Whose howl's his watchthus with his stealthy pace
With Tarquin's ravishing stridestowards his design
Moves like a ghost. MACBETH.


For the space of a quarter of an houror longerafter the
incident relatedall remained perfectly quiet in the front of
the royal habitation. The King read and mused in the entrance of
his pavilion; behindand with his back turned to the same
entrancethe Nubian slave still burnished the ample pavesse; in
front of allat a hundred paces distantthe yeomen of the guard
stoodsator lay extended on the grassattentive to their own
sportsbut pursuing them in silencewhile on the esplanade
betwixt them and the front of the tent layscarcely to be
distinguished from a bundle of ragsthe senseless form of the
marabout.


But the Nubian had the advantage of a mirror from the brilliant
reflection which the surface of the highly-polished shield now
affordedby means of which he beheldto his alarm and surprise
that the marabout raised his head gently from the groundso as
to survey all around himmoving with a well-adjusted precaution
which seemed entirely inconsistent with a state of ebriety. He
couched his head instantlyas if satisfied he was unobserved
and beganwith the slightest possible appearance of voluntary
effortto drag himselfas if by chanceever nearer and nearer
to the Kingbut stopping and remaining fixed at intervalslike
the spiderwhichmoving towards her objectcollapses into
apparent lifelessness when she thinks she is the subject of
observation. This species of movement appeared suspicious to the
Ethiopianwhoon his partprepared himselfas quietly as
possibleto interferethe instant that interference should seem
to be necessary.


The maraboutmeanwhileglided on gradually and imperceptibly



serpent-likeor rather snail-liketill he was about ten yards
distant from Richard's personwhenstarting on his feethe
sprung forward with the bound of a tigerstood at the King's
back in less than an instantand brandished aloft the cangiar
or poniardwhich he had hidden in his sleeve. Not the presence
of his whole army could have saved their heroic Monarch; but the
motions of the Nubian had been as well calculated as those of the
enthusiastand ere the latter could strikethe former caught
his uplifted arm. Turning his fanatical wrath upon what thus
unexpectedly interposed betwixt him and his objectthe
Charegitefor such was the seeming maraboutdealt the Nubian a
blow with the daggerwhichhoweveronly grazed his armwhile
the far superior strength of the Ethiopian easily dashed him to
the ground. Aware of what had passedRichard had now arisen
and with little more of surpriseangeror interest of any kind
in his countenance than an ordinary man would show in brushing
off and crushing an intrusive waspcaught up the stool on which
he had been sittingand exclaiming onlyHa, dog!dashed
almost to pieces the skull of the assassinwho uttered twice
once in a loudand once in a broken tonethe words ALLAH
ACKBAR!--God is victorious--and expired at the King's feet.

Ye are careful warders,said Richard to his archersin a tone
of scornful reproachasaroused by the bustle of what had
passedin terror and tumult they now rushed into his tent;
watchful sentinels ye are, to leave me to do such hangman's work
with my own hand. Be silent, all of you, and cease your
senseless clamour!--saw ye never a dead Turk before? Here, cast
that carrion out of the camp, strike the head from the trunk, and
stick it on a lance, taking care to turn the face to Mecca, that
he may the easier tell the foul impostor on whose inspiration he
came hither how he has sped on his errand.--For thee, my swart
and silent friend,he addedturning to the Ethiopian--"but
how's this? Thou art wounded--and with a poisoned weaponI
warrant mefor by force of stab so weak an animal as that could
scarce hope to do more than raze the lion's hide.--Suck the
poison from his wound one of you--the venom is harmless on the
lipsthough fatal when it mingles with the blood."

The yeomen looked on each other confusedly and with hesitation
the apprehension of so strange a danger prevailing with those who
feared no other.

How now, sirrahs,continued the Kingare you dainty-lipped,
or do you fear death, that you daily thus?

Not the death of a man,said Long Allento whom the King
looked as he spoke; "but methinks I would not die like a poisoned
rat for the sake of a black chattel therethat is bought and
sold in a market like a Martlemas ox."

His Grace speaks to men of sucking poison,muttered another
yeomanas if he said, Go toswallow a gooseberry!"

Nay,said RichardI never bade man do that which I would not
do myself.

And without further ceremonyand in spite of the general
expostulations of those aroundand the respectful opposition of
the Nubian himselfthe King of England applied his lips to the
wound of the black slavetreating with ridicule all
remonstrancesand overpowering all resistance. He had no sooner
intermitted his singular occupationthan the Nubian started from
himand casting a scarf over his armintimated by gesturesas


firm in purpose as they were respectful in mannerhis
determination not to permit the Monarch to renew so degrading an
employment. Long Allen also interposedsaying thatif it were
necessary to prevent the King engaging again in a treatment of
this kindhis own lipstongueand teeth were at the service of
the negro (as he called the Ethiopian)and that he would eat him
up bodilyrather than King Richard's mouth should again approach
him.

Nevillewho entered with other officersadded his
remonstrances.

Nay, nay, make not a needless halloo about a hart that the
hounds have lost, or a danger when it is over,said the King.
The wound will be a trifle, for the blood is scarce drawn--an
angry cat had dealt a deeper scratch. And for me, I have but to
take a drachm of orvietan by way of precaution, though it is
needless.

Thus spoke Richarda little ashamedperhapsof his own
condescensionthough sanctioned both by humanity and gratitude.
But when Neville continued to make remonstrances on the peril to
his royal personthe King imposed silence on him.

Peace, I prithee--make no more of it. I did it but to show
these ignorant, prejudiced knaves how they might help each other
when these cowardly caitiffs come against us with sarbacanes and
poisoned shafts. But,he addedtake thee this Nubian to thy
quarters, Neville--I have changed my mind touching him--let him
be well cared for. But hark in thine ear; see that he escapes
thee not--there is more in him than seems. Let him have all
liberty, so that he leave not the camp.--And you, ye beef-devouring, wine-swilling English mastiffs, get ye
to your guard
again, and be sure you keep it more warily. Think not you are
now in your own land of fair play, where men speak before they
strike, and shake hands ere they cut throats. Danger in our land
walks openly, and with his blade drawn, and defies the foe whom
he means to assault; but here he challenges you with a silk glove
instead of a steel gauntlet, cuts your throat with the feather of
a turtle-dove, stabs you with the tongue of a priest's brooch, or
throttles you with the lace of my lady's boddice. Go to--keep
your eyes open and your mouths shut--drink less, and look sharper
about you; or I will place your huge stomachs on such short
allowance as would pinch the stomach of a patient Scottish man.

The yeomenabashed and mortifiedwithdrew to their postand
Neville was beginning to remonstrate with his master upon the
risk of passing over thus slightly their negligence upon their
dutyand the propriety of an example in a case so peculiarly
aggravated as the permitting one so suspicious as the marabout to
approach within dagger's length of his personwhen Richard
interrupted him withSpeak not of it, Neville--wouldst thou
have me avenge a petty risk to myself more severely than the loss
of England's banner? It has been stolen--stolen by a thief, or
delivered up by a traitor, and no blood has been shed for it.--My
sable friend, thou art an expounder of mysteries, saith the
illustrious Soldan--now would I give thee thine own weight in
gold, if, by raising one still blacker than thyself or by what
other means thou wilt, thou couldst show me the thief who did
mine honour that wrong. What sayest thou, ha?

The mute seemed desirous to speakbut uttered only that
imperfect sound proper to his melancholy condition; then folded
his armslooked on the King with an eye of intelligenceand


nodded in answer to his question.

How!said Richardwith joyful impatience. "Wilt thou
undertake to make discovery in this matter?"

The Nubian slave repeated the same motion.

But how shall we understand each other?said the King. "Canst
thou writegood fellow?"

The slave again nodded in assent.

Give him writing-tools,said the King. "They were readier in
my father's tent than mine; but they be somewhere aboutif this
scorching climate have not dried up the ink.--Whythis fellow is
a jewel--a black diamondNeville."

So please you, my liege,said Nevilleif I might speak my
poor mind, it were ill dealing in this ware. This man must be a
wizard, and wizards deal with the Enemy, who hath most interest
to sow tares among the wheat, and bring dissension into our
councils, and--

Peace, Neville,said Richard. "Hello to your northern hound
when he is close on the haunch of the deerand hope to recall
himbut seek not to stop Plantagenet when he hath hope to
retrieve his honour."

The slavewho during this discussion had been writingin which
art he seemed skilfulnow aroseand pressing what he had
written to his browprostrated himself as usualere he
delivered it into the King's hands. The scroll was in French
although their intercourse had hitherto been conducted by Richard
in the lingua franca.

To Richard, the conquering and invincible King of England, this
from the humblest of his slaves. Mysteries are the sealed
caskets of Heaven, but wisdom may devise means to open the lock.
Were your slave stationed where the leaders of the Christian host
were made to pass before him in order, doubt nothing that if he
who did the injury whereof my King complains shall be among the
number, he may be made manifest in his iniquity, though it be
hidden under seven veils.

Now, by Saint George!said King Richardthou hast spoken most
opportunely.--Neville, thou knowest that when we muster our
troops to-morrow the princes have agreed that, to expiate the
affront offered to England in the theft of her banner, the
leaders should pass our new standard as it floats on Saint
George's Mount, and salute it with formal regard. Believe me, the
secret traitor will not dare to absent himself from an
expurgation so solemn, lest his very absence should be matter of
suspicion. There will we place our sable man of counsel, and if
his art can detect the villain, leave me to deal with him.

My liege,said Nevillewith the frankness of an English baron
beware what work you begin. Here is the concord of our holy
league unexpectedly renewed--will you, upon such suspicion as a
negro slave can instil, tear open wounds so lately closed? Or
will you use the solemn procession, adopted for the reparation of
your honour and establishment of unanimity amongst the discording
princes, as the means of again finding out new cause of offence,
or reviving ancient quarrels? It were scarce too strong to say
this were a breach of the declaration your Grace made to the


assembled Council of the Crusade.

Neville,said the Kingsternly interrupting himthy zeal
makes thee presumptuous and unmannerly. Never did I promise to
abstain from taking whatever means were most promising to
discover the infamous author of the attack on my honour. Ere I
had done so, I would have renounced my kingdom, my life. All my
declarations were under this necessary and absolute
qualification;--only, if Austria had stepped forth and owned the
injury like a man, I proffered, for the sake of Christendom, to
have forgiven HIM.

But,continued the baron anxiouslywhat hope that this
juggling slave of Saladin will not palter with your Grace?

Peace, Neville,said the King; "thou thinkest thyself mighty
wiseand art but a fool. Mind thou my charge touching this
fellow; there is more in him than thy Westmoreland wit can
fathom.--And thousmart and silentprepare to perform the feat
thou hast promisedandby the word of a Kingthou shalt choose
thine own recompense.--Lohe writes again."

The mute accordingly wrote and delivered to the Kingwith the
same form as beforeanother slip of papercontaining these
wordsThe will of the King is the law to his slave; nor doth it
become him to ask guerdon for discharge of his devoir.

GUERDON and DEVOIR!said the Kinginterrupting himself as he
readand speaking to Neville in the English tongue with some
emphasis on the words. "These Eastern people will profit by the
Crusaders--they are acquiring the language of chivalry! And see
Nevillehow discomposed that fellow looks! were it not for his
colour he would blush. I should not think it strange if he
understood what I say--they are perilous linguists."

The poor slave cannot endure your Grace's eye,said Neville;
it is nothing more.

Well, but,continued the Kingstriking the paper with his
finger as he proceededthis bold scroll proceeds to say that
our trusty mute is charged with a message from Saladin to the
Lady Edith Plantagenet, and craves means and opportunity to
deliver it. What thinkest thou of a request so modest--ha,
Neville?

I cannot say,said Nevillehow such freedom may relish with
your Grace; but the lease of the messenger's neck would be a
short one, who should carry such a request to the Soldan on the
part of your Majesty.

Nay, I thank Heaven that I covet none of his sunburnt beauties,
said Richard; "and for punishing this fellow for discharging his
master's errandand that when he has just saved my life-methinks
it were something too summary. I'll tell theeNeville
a secret; for although our sable and mute minister be presenthe
cannotthou knowesttell it over againeven if he should
chance to understand us. I tell thee thatfor this fortnight
pastI have been under a strange spelland I would I were
disenchanted. There has no sooner any one done me good service
butlo youhe cancels his interest in me by some deep injury;
andon the other handhe who hath deserved death at my hands
for some treachery or some insultis sure to be the very person
of all others who confers upon me some obligation that
overbalances his demeritsand renders respite of his sentence a


debt due from my honour. Thusthou seestI am deprived of the
best part of my royal functionsince I can neither punish men
nor reward them. Until the influence of this disqualifying
planet be passed awayI will say nothing concerning the request
of this our sable attendantsave that it is an unusually bold
oneand that his best chance of finding grace in our eyes will
be to endeavour to make the discovery which he proposes to
achieve in our behalf. MeanwhileNevilledo thou look well to
himand let him be honourably cared for. And hark thee once
more he said, in a low whisper, seek out yonder hermit of
Engaddiand bring him to me forthwithbe he saint or savage
madman or sane. Let me see him privately."


Neville retired from the royal tentsigning to the Nubian to
follow himand much surprised at what he had seen and heardand
especially at the unusual demeanour of the King. In generalno
task was so easy as to discover Richard's immediate course of
sentiment and feelingthough it mightin some casesbe
difficult to calculate its duration; for no weathercock obeyed
the changing wind more readily than the King his gusts of
passion. But on the present occasion his manner seemed unusually
constrained and mysterious; nor was it easy to guess whether
displeasure or kindness predominated in his conduct towards his
new dependantor in the looks with whichfrom time to timehe
regarded him. The ready service which the King had rendered to
counteract the bad effects of the Nubian's wound might seem to
balance the obligation conferred on him by the slave when he
intercepted the blow of the assassin; but it seemedas a much
longer account remained to be arranged between themthat the
Monarch was doubtful whether the settlement might leave himupon
the wholedebtor or creditorand thatthereforehe assumed in
the meantime a neutral demeanourwhich might suit with either
character. As for the Nubianby whatever means he had acquired
the art of writing the European languagesthe King remained
convinced that the English tongue at least was unknown to him
sincehaving watched him closely during the last part of the
interviewhe conceived it impossible for any one understanding a
conversationof which he was himself the subjectto have so
completely avoided the appearance of taking an interest in it.


CHAPTER XXII.


Who's there!--Approach--'tis kindly done--
My learned physician and a friend. SIR EUSTACE GREY.


Our narrative retrogrades to a period shortly previous to the
incidents last mentionedwhenas the reader must rememberthe
unfortunate Knight of the Leopardbestowed upon the Arabian
physician by King Richardrather as a slave than in any other
capacitywas exiled from the camp of the Crusadersin whose
ranks he had so often and so brilliantly distinguished himself.
He followed his new master--for so he must now term the Hakim--to
the Moorish tents which contained his retinue and his property
with the stupefied feelings of one whofallen from the summit of
a precipiceand escaping unexpectedly with lifeis just able to
drag himself from the fatal spotbut without the power of
estimating the extent of the damage which he has sustained.
Arrived at the tenthe threw himselfwithout speech of any
kindupon a couch of dressed buffalo's hidewhich was pointed
out to him by his conductorand hiding his face betwixt his
handsgroaned heavilyas if his heart were on the point of
bursting. The physician heard himas he was giving orders to



his numerous domestics to prepare for their departure the next
morning before daybreakandmoved with compassioninterrupted
his occupation to sit downcross-leggedby the side of his
couchand administer comfort according to the Oriental manner.

My friend,he saidbe of good comfort; for what saith the
poet--it is better that a man should be the servant of a kind
master than the slave of his own wild passions. Again, be of
good courage; because, whereas Ysouf Ben Yagoube was sold to a
king by his brethren, even to Pharaoh, King of Egypt, thy king
hath, on the other hand, bestowed thee on one who will be to thee
as a brother.

Sir Kenneth made an effort to thank the Hakimbut his heart was
too fulland the indistinct sounds which accompanied his
abortive attempts to reply induced the kind physician to desist
from his premature endeavours at consolation. He left his new
domesticor guestin quietto indulge his sorrowsand having
commanded all the necessary preparations for their departure on
the morningsat down upon the carpet of the tentand indulged
himself in a moderate repast. After he had thus refreshed
himselfsimilar viands were offered to the Scottish knight; but
though the slaves let him understand that the next day would be
far advanced ere they would halt for the purpose of refreshment
Sir Kenneth could not overcome the disgust which he felt against
swallowing any nourishmentand could be prevailed upon to taste
nothingsaving a draught of cold water.

He was awake long after his Arab host had performed his usual
devotions and betaken himself to his repose; nor had sleep
visited him at the hour of midnightwhen a movement took place
among the domesticswhichthough attended with no speechand
very little noisemade him aware they were loading the camels
and preparing for departure. In the course of these
preparationsthe last person who was disturbedexcepting the
physician himselfwas the knight of Scotlandwhomabout three
in the morninga sort of major-domoor master of the household
acquainted that he must arise. He did sowithout further
answerand followed him into the moonlightwhere stood the
camelsmost of which were already loadedand one only remained
kneeling until its burden should be completed.

A little apart from the camels stood a number of horses ready
bridled and saddledand the Hakim himselfcoming forthmounted
on one of them with as much agility as the grave decorum of his
character permittedand directed anotherwhich he pointed out
to be led towards Sir Kenneth. An English officer was in
attendanceto escort them through the camp of the Crusadersand
to ensure their leaving it in safety; and all was ready for their
departure. The pavilion which they had left wasin the
meanwhilestruck with singular dispatchand the tent-poles and
coverings composed the burden of the last camel--when the
physicianpronouncing solemnly the verse of the KoranGod be
our guide, and Mohammed our protector, in the desert as in the
watered field,the whole cavalcade was instantly in motion.

In traversing the campthey were challenged by the various
sentinels who maintained guard thereand suffered to proceed in
silenceor with a muttered curse upon their prophetas they
passed the post of some more zealous Crusader. At length the
last barriers were left behind themand the party formed
themselves for the march with military precaution. Two or three
horsemen advanced in front as a vanguard; one or two remained a
bow-shot in the rear; andwherever the ground admittedothers


were detached to keep an outlook on the flanks. In this manner
they proceeded onward; while Sir Kennethlooking back on the
moonlit campmight now indeed seem banisheddeprived at once of
honour and of libertyfrom the glimmering banners under which he
had hoped to gain additional renownand the tented dwellings of
chivalryof Christianityand--of Edith Plantagenet.

The Hakimwho rode by his sideobservedin his usual tone of
sententious consolationIt is unwise to look back when the
journey lieth forward;and as he spokethe horse of the knight
made such a perilous stumble as threatened to add a practical
moral to the tale.

The knight was compelled by this hint to give more attention to
the management of his steedwhich more than once required the
assistance and support of the check-bridlealthoughin other
respectsnothing could be more easy at onceand activethan
the ambling pace at which the animal (which was a mare)
proceeded.

The conditions of that horse,observed the sententious
physicianare like those of human fortune--seeing that, amidst
his most swift and easy pace, the rider must guard himself
against a fall, and that it is when prosperity is at the highest
that our prudence should be awake and vigilant to prevent
misfortune.

The overloaded appetite loathes even the honeycomband it is
scarce a wonder that the knightmortified and harassed with
misfortunes and abasementbecame something impatient of hearing
his misery madeat every turnthe ground of proverbs and
apothegmshowever just and apposite.

Methinks,he saidrather peevishlyI wanted no additional
illustration of the instability of fortune though I would thank
thee, Sir Hakim, for the choice of a steed for me, would the jade
but stumble so effectually as at once to break my neck and her
own.

My brother,answered the Arab sagewith imperturbable gravity
thou speakest as one of the foolish. Thou sayest in thy heart
that the sage should have given you, as his guest, the younger
and better horse, and reserved the old one for himself. But know
that the defects of the older steed may be compensated by the
energies of the young rider, whereas the violence of the young
horse requires to be moderated by the cold temper of the older.

So spoke the sage; but neither to this observation did Sir
Kenneth return any answer which could lead to a continuance of
their conversationand the physicianweariedperhapsof
administering comfort to one who would not be comfortedsigned
to one of his retinue.

Hassan,he saidhast thou nothing wherewith to beguile the
way?

Hassanstory-teller and poet by professionspurred upupon
this summonsto exercise his calling. "Lord of the palace of
life he said, addressing the physician, thoubefore whom the
angel Azrael spreadeth his wings for flight--thouwiser than
Solimaun Ben Daoudupon whose signet was inscribed the REAL NAME
which controls the spirits of the elements--forbid itHeaven
that while thou travellest upon the track of benevolencebearing


healing and hope wherever thou comestthine own course should be
saddened for lack of the tale and of the song. Beholdwhile thy
servant is at thy sidehe will pour forth the treasures of his
memoryas the fountain sendeth her stream beside the pathway
for the refreshment or him that walketh thereon."

After this exordiumHassan uplifted his voiceand began a tale
of love and magicintermixed with feats of warlike achievement
and ornamented with abundant quotations from the Persian poets
with whose compositions the orator seemed familiar. The retinue
of the physiciansuch excepted as were necessarily detained in
attendance on the camelsthronged up to the narratorand
pressed as close as deference for their master permittedto
enjoy the delight which the inhabitants of the East have ever
derived from this species of exhibition.

At another timenotwithstanding his imperfect knowledge of the
languageSir Kenneth might have been interested in the
recitationwhichthough dictated by a more extravagant
imaginationand expressed in more inflated and metaphorical
languagebore yet a strong resemblance to the romances of
chivalry then so fashionable in Europe. But as matters stood
with himhe was scarcely even sensible that a man in the centre
of the cavalcade recited and sungin a low tonefor nearly two
hoursmodulating his voice to the various moods of passion
introduced into the taleand receivingin returnnow low
murmurs of applausenow muttered expressions of wondernow
sighs and tearsand sometimeswhat it was far more difficult to
extract from such an audiencea tribute of smilesand even
laughter.

During the recitationthe attention of the exilehowever
abstracted by his own deep sorrowwas occasionally awakened by
the low wail of a dogsecured in a wicker enclosure suspended on
one of the camelswhichas an experienced woodsmanhe had no
hesitation in recognizing to be that of his own faithful hound;
and from the plaintive tone of the animalhe had no doubt that
he was sensible of his master's vicinityandin his way
invoking his assistance for liberty and rescue.

Alas! poor Roswal,he saidthou callest for aid and sympathy
upon one in stricter bondage than thou thyself art. I will not
seem to heed thee or return thy affection, since it would serve
but to load our parting with yet more bitterness.

Thus passed the hours of night and the space of dim hazy dawn
which forms the twilight of a Syrian morning. But when the very
first line of the sun's disk began to rise above the level
horizonand when the very first level ray shot glimmering in dew
along the surface of the desertwhich the travellers had now
attainedthe sonorous voice of El Hakim himself overpowered and
cut short the narrative of the tale-tellerwhile he caused to
resound along the sands the solemn summonswhich the muezzins
thunder at morning from the minaret of every mosque.

To prayer--to prayer! God is the one God.--To prayer--to
prayer! Mohammed is the Prophet of God.--To prayer--to prayer!
Time is flying from you.--To prayer--to prayer! Judgment is
drawing nigh to you,

In an instant each Moslem cast himself from his horseturned his
face towards Meccaand performed with sand an imitation of those
ablutionswhich were elsewhere required to be made with water
while each individualin brief but fervent ejaculations


recommended himself to the careand his sins to the forgiveness
of God and the Prophet.

Even Sir Kennethwhose reason at once and prejudices were
offended by seeing his companions in that which he considered as
an act of idolatrycould not help respecting the sincerity of
their misguided zealand being stimulated by their fervour to
apply supplications to Heaven in a purer formwondering
meanwhilewhat new-born feelings could teach him to accompany in
prayerthough with varied invocationthose very Saracenswhose
heathenish worship he had conceived a crime dishonourable to the
land in which high miracles had been wroughtand where the day-star of redemption had arisen.

The act of devotionhoweverthough rendered in such strange
societyburst purely from his natural feelings of religious
dutyand had its usual effect in composing the spirits which had
been long harassed by so rapid a succession of calamities. The
sincere and earnest approach of the Christian to the throne of
the Almighty teaches the best lesson of patience under
affliction; since wherefore should we mock the Deity with
supplicationswhen we insult him by murmuring under His decrees?
or howwhile our prayers have in every word admitted the vanity
and nothingness of the things of time in comparison to those of
eternityshould we hope to deceive the Searcher of Heartsby
permitting the world and worldly passions to reassume the reins
even immediately after a solemn address to Heaven! But Sir
Kenneth was not of these. He felt himself comforted and
strengthenedand better prepared to execute or submit to
whatever his destiny might call upon him to do or to suffer.

Meanwhilethe party of Saracens regained their saddlesand
continued their routeand the tale-tellerHassanresumed the
thread of his narrative; but it was no longer to the same
attentive audience. A horsemanwho had ascended some high
ground on the right hand of the little columnhad returned on a
speedy gallop to El Hakimand communicated with him. Four or
five more cavaliers had then been dispatchedand the little
bandwhich might consist of about twenty or thirty persons
began to follow them with their eyesas men from whose gestures
and advance or retreatthey were to augur good or evil. Hassan
finding his audience inattentiveor being himself attracted by
the dubious appearances on the flankstinted in his song; and
the march became silentsave when a camel-driver called out to
his patient chargeor some anxious follower of the Hakim
communicated with his next neighbour in a hurried and low
whisper.

This suspense continued until they had rounded a ridgecomposed
of hillocks of sandwhich concealed from their main body the
object that had created this alarm among their scouts. Sir
Kenneth could now seeat the distance of a mile or morea dark
object moving rapidly on the bosom of the desertwhich his
experienced eye recognized for a party of cavalrymuch superior
to their own in numbersandfrom the thick and frequent flashes
which flung back the level beams of the rising sunit was plain
that these were Europeans in their complete panoply.

The anxious looks which the horsemen of El Hakim now cast upon
their leader seemed to indicate deep apprehension; while hewith
gravity as undisturbed as when he called his followers to prayer
detached two of his best-mounted cavalierswith instructions to
approach as closely as prudence permitted to these travellers of
the desertand observe more minutely their numberstheir
characterandif possibletheir purpose. The approach of


dangeror what was feared as suchwas like a stimulating
draught to one in apathyand recalled Sir Kenneth to himself and
his situation.

What fear you from these Christian horsemen, for such they
seem?he said to the Hakim.

Fear!said El Hakimrepeating the word disdainfully. "The
sage fears nothing but Heavenbut ever expects from wicked men
the worst which they can do."

They are Christians,said Sir Kennethand it is the time of
truce--why should you fear a breach of faith?

They are the priestly soldiers of the Temple,answered El
Hakimwhose vow limits them to know neither truce nor faith
with the worshippers of Islam. May the Prophet blight them, both
root, branch, and twig! Their peace is war, and their faith is
falsehood. Other invaders of Palestine have their times and
moods of courtesy. The lion Richard will spare when he has
conquered, the eagle Philip will close his wing when he has
stricken a prey, even the Austrian bear will sleep when he is
gorged; but this horde of ever-hungry wolves know neither pause
nor satiety in their rapine. Seest thou not that they are
detaching a party from their main body, and that they take an
eastern direction? Yon are their pages and squires, whom they
train up in their accursed mysteries, and whom, as lighter
mounted, they send to cut us off from our watering-place. But
they will be disappointed. I know the war of the desert yet
better than they.

He spoke a few words to his principal officerand his whole
demeanour and countenance was at once changed from the solemn
repose of an Eastern sage accustomed more to contemplation than
to actioninto the prompt and proud expression of a gallant
soldier whose energies are roused by the near approach of a
danger which he at once foresees and despises.

To Sir Kenneth's eyes the approaching crisis had a different
aspectand when Adonbec said to himThou must tarry close by
my side,he answered solemnly in the negative.

Yonder,he saidare my comrades in arms--the men in whose
society I have vowed to fight or fall. On their banner gleams
the sign of our most blessed redemption--I cannot fly from the
Cross in company with the Crescent.

Fool!said the Hakim; "their first action would be to do thee
to deathwere it only to conceal their breach of the truce."

Of that I must take my chance,replied Sir Kenneth; "but I wear
not the bonds of the infidels an instant longer than I can cast
them from me."

Then will I compel thee to follow me,said El Hakim.

Compel!answered Sir Kenneth angrily. "Wert thou not my
benefactoror one who has showed will to be suchand were it
not that it is to thy confidence I owe the freedom of these
handswhich thou mightst have loaded with fettersI would show
thee thatunarmed as I amcompulsion would be no easy task."

Enough, enough,replied the Arabian physicianwe lose time
even when it is becoming precious.


So sayinghe threw his arm aloftand uttered a loud and shrill
cryas a signal to his retinuewho instantly dispersed
themselves on the face of the desertin as many different
directions as a chaplet of beads when the string is broken. Sir
Kenneth had no time to note what ensued; forat the same
instantthe Hakim seized the rein of his steedand putting his
own to its mettleboth sprung forth at once with the suddenness
of lightand at a pitch of velocity which almost deprived the
Scottish knight of the power of respirationand left him
absolutely incapablehad he been desirousto have checked the
career of his guide. Practised as Sir Kenneth was in
horsemanship from his earliest youththe speediest horse he had
ever mounted was a tortoise in comparison to those of the Arabian
sage. They spurned the sand from behind them; they seemed to
devour the desert before them; miles flew away with minutes--and
yet their strength seemed unabatedand their respiration as free
as when they first started upon the wonderful race. The motion
tooas easy as it was swiftseemed more like flying through the
air than riding on the earthand was attended with no unpleasant
sensationsave the awe naturally felt by one who is moving at
such astonishing speedand the difficulty of breathing
occasioned by their passing through the air so rapidly.

It was not until after an hour of this portentous motionand
when all human pursuit was farfar behindthat the Hakim at
length relaxed his speedandslackening the pace of the horses
into a hand-gallopbeganin a voice as composed and even as if
he had been walking for the last houra descant upon the
excellence of his coursers to the Scotwhobreathlesshalf
blindhalf deafand altogether giddy; from the rapidity of this
singular ridehardly comprehended the words which flowed so
freely from his companion.

These horses,he saidare of the breed called the Winged,
equal in speed to aught excepting the Borak of the Prophet. They
are fed on the golden barley of Yemen, mixed with spices and with
a small portion of dried sheep's flesh. Kings have given
provinces to possess them, and their age is active as their
youth. Thou, Nazarene, art the first, save a true believer, that
ever had beneath his loins one of this noble race, a gift of the
Prophet himself to the blessed Ali, his kinsman and lieutenant,
well called the Lion of God. Time lays his touch so lightly on
these generous steeds, that the mare on which thou now sittest
has seen five times five years pass over her, yet retains her
pristine speed and vigour, only that in the career the support of
a bridle, managed by a hand more experienced than thine, hath now
become necessary. May the Prophet be blessed, who hath bestowed
on the true believers the means of advance and retreat, which
causeth their iron-clothed enemies to be worn out with their own
ponderous weight! How the horses of yonder dog Templars must
have snorted and blown, when they had toiled fetlock-deep in the
desert for one-twentieth part of the space which these brave
steeds have left behind them, without one thick pant, or a drop
of moisture upon their sleek and velvet coats!

The Scottish knightwho had now begun to recover his breath and
powers of attentioncould not help acknowledging in his heart
the advantage possessed by these Eastern warriors in a race of
animalsalike proper for advance or retreatand so admirably
adapted to the level and sandy deserts of Arabia and Syria. But
he did not choose to augment the pride of the Moslem by
acquiescing in his proud claim of superiorityand therefore
suffered the conversation to dropandlooking around himcould


nowat the more moderate pace at which they moveddistinguish
that he was in a country not unknown to him.

The blighted borders and sullen waters of the Dead Seathe
ragged and precipitous chain of mountains arising on the left
the two or three palms clustered togetherforming the single
green speck on the bosom of the waste wilderness--objects which
once seenwere scarcely to be forgotten--showed to Sir Kenneth
that they were approaching the fountain called the Diamond of the
Desertwhich had been the scene of his interview on a former
occasion with the Saracen Emir Sheerkohfor Ilderim. In a few
minutes they checked their horses beside the springand the
Hakim invited Sir Kenneth to descend from horseback and repose
himself as in a place of safety. They unbridled their steedsEl
Hakim observing that further care of them was unnecessarysince
they would be speedily joined by some of the best mounted among
his slaveswho would do what further was needful.

Meantime,he saidspreading some food on the grasseat and
drink, and be not discouraged. Fortune may raise up or abase the
ordinary mortal, but the sage and the soldier should have minds
beyond her control.

The Scottish knight endeavoured to testify his thanks by showing
himself docile; but though he strove to eat out of complaisance
the singular contrast between his present situation and that
which he had occupied on the same spot when the envoy of princes
and the victor in combatcame like a cloud over his mindand
fastinglassitudeand fatigue oppressed his bodily powers. El
Hakim examined his hurried pulsehis red and inflamed eyehis
heated handand his shortened respiration.

The mind,he saidgrows wise by watching, but her sister the
body, of coarser materials, needs the support of repose. Thou
must sleep; and that thou mayest do so to refreshment, thou must
take a draught mingled with this elixir.

He drew from his bosom a small crystal vialcased in silver
filigree-workand dropped into a little golden drinking-cup a
small portion of a dark-coloured fluid.

This,he saidis one of those productions which Allah hath
sent on earth for a blessing, though man's weakness and
wickedness have sometimes converted it into a curse. It is
powerful as the wine-cup of the Nazarene to drop the curtain on
the sleepless eye, and to relieve the burden of the overloaded
bosom; but when applied to the purposes of indulgence and
debauchery, it rends the nerves, destroys the strength, weakens
the intellect, and undermines life. But fear not thou to use its
virtues in the time of need, for the wise man warms him by the
same firebrand with which the madman burneth the tent.[Some
preparation of opium seems to be intimated.]

I have seen too much of thy skill, sage Hakim,said Sir
Kennethto debate thine hest;and swallowed the narcotic
mingled as it was with some water from the springthen wrapped
him in the haikor Arab cloakwhich had been fastened to his
saddle-pommelandaccording to the directions of the physician
stretched himself at ease in the shade to await the promised
repose. Sleep came not at firstbut in her stead a train of
pleasing yet not rousing or awakening sensations. A state ensued
in whichstill conscious of his own identity and his own
conditionthe knight felt enabled to consider them not only
without alarm and sorrowbut as composedly as he might have


viewed the story of his misfortunes acted upon a stage--or rather
as a disembodied spirit might regard the transactions of its past
existence. From this state of reposeamounting almost to apathy
respecting the pasthis thoughts were carried forward to the
futurewhichin spite of all that existed to overcloud the
prospectglittered with such hues asunder much happier
auspiceshis unstimulated imagination had not been able to
produceeven in its most exalted state. Libertyfame
successful loveappeared to be the certain and not very distant
prospect of the enslaved exilethe dishonoured knighteven of
the despairing lover who had placed his hopes of happiness so far
beyond the prospect of chancein her wildest possibilities
serving to countenance his wishes. Gradually as the intellectual
sight became overcloudedthese gay visions became obscurelike
the dying hues of sunsetuntil they were at last lost in total
oblivion; and Sir Kenneth lay extended at the feet of El Hakim
to all appearancebut for his deep respirationas inanimate a
corpse as if life had actually departed.


CHAPTER XXIII.


'Mid these wild scenes Enchantment waves her hand
To change the face of the mysterious land;
Till the bewildering scenes around us seem
The Vain productions of a feverish dream. ASTOLPHOA ROMANCE.


When the Knight of the Leopard awoke from his long and profound
reposehe found himself in circumstances so different from those
in which he had lain down to sleepthat he doubted whether he
was not still dreamingor whether the scene had not been changed
by magic. Instead of the damp grasshe lay on a couch of more
than Oriental luxury; and some kind hands hadduring his repose
stripped him of the cassock of chamois which he wore under his
armourand substituted a night-dress of the finest linen and a
loose gown of silk. He had been canopied only by the palm-trees
of the desertbut now he lay beneath a silken pavilionwhich
blazed with the richest colours of the Chinese loomwhile a
slight curtain of gauzedisplayed around his couchwas
calculated to protect his repose from the insectsto which he
hadever since his arrival in these climatesbeen a constant
and passive prey. He looked aroundas if to convince himself
that he was actually awake; and all that fell beneath his eye
partook of the splendour of his dormitory. A portable bath of
cedarlined with silverwas ready for useand steamed with the
odours which had been used in preparing it. On a small stand of
ebony beside the couch stood a silver vasecontaining sherbet of
the most exquisite qualitycold as snowand which the thirst
that followed the use of the strong narcotic rendered peculiarly
delicious. Still further to dispel the dregs of intoxication
which it had left behindthe knight resolved to use the bath
and experienced in doing so a delightful refreshment. Having
dried himself with napkins of the Indian woolhe would willingly
have resumed his own coarse garmentsthat he might go forth to
see whether the world was as much changed without as within the
place of his repose. Thesehoweverwere nowhere to be seen
but in their place he found a Saracen dress of rich materials
with sabre and poniardand all befitting an emir of distinction.
He was able to suggest no motive to himself for this exuberance
of careexcepting a suspicion that these attentions were
intended to shake him in his religious profession--as indeed it
was well known that the high esteem of the European knowledge and
courage made the Soldan unbounded in his gifts to those who



having become his prisonershad been induced to take the turban.
Sir Kenneththereforecrossing himself devoutlyresolved to
set all such snares at defiance; and that he might do so the more
firmlyconscientiously determined to avail himself as moderately
as possible of the attentions and luxuries thus liberally heaped
upon him. Stillhoweverhe felt his head oppressed and sleepy;
and awaretoothat his undress was not fit for appearing
abroadhe reclined upon the couchand was again locked in the
arms of slumber.

But this time his rest was not unbrokenfor he was awakened by
the voice of the physician at the door of the tentinquiring
after his healthand whether he had rested sufficiently. "May I
enter your tent?" he concludedfor the curtain is drawn before
the entrance.

The master,replied Sir Kennethdetermined to show that he was
not surprised into forgetfulness of his own conditionneed
demand no permission to enter the tent of the slave.

But if I come not as a master?said El Hakimstill without
entering.

The physician,answered the knighthath free access to the
bedside of his patient.

Neither come I now as a physician,replied El Hakim; "and
therefore I still request permissionere I come under the
covering of thy tent."

Whoever comes as a friend,said Sir Kennethand such thou
hast hitherto shown thyself to me, the habitation of the friend
is ever open to him.

Yet once again,said the Eastern sageafter the periphrastical
manner of his countrymensupposing that I come not as a
friend?

Come as thou wilt,said the Scottish knightsomewhat impatient
of this circumlocution; "be what thou wilt--thou knowest well it
is neither in my power nor my inclination to refuse thee
entrance."

I come, then,said El Hakimas your ancient foe, but a fair
and a generous one.

He entered as he spoke; and when he stood before the bedside of
Sir Kenneththe voice continued to be that of Adonbecthe
Arabian physicianbut the formdressand features were those
of Ilderim of Kurdistancalled Sheerkohf. Sir Kenneth gazed
upon him as if he expected the vision to departlike something
created by his imagination.

Doth it so surprise thee,said Ilderimand thou an approved
warrior, to see that a soldier knows somewhat of the art of
healing? I say to thee, Nazarene, that an accomplished cavalier
should know how to dress his steed, as well as how to ride him;
how to forge his sword upon the stithy, as well as how to use it
in battle; how to burnish his arms, as well as how to wear them;
and, above all, how to cure wounds, as well as how to inflict
them.

As he spokethe Christian knight repeatedly shut his eyesand
while they remained closedthe idea of the Hakimwith his long


flowing dark robeshigh Tartar capand grave gestures was
present to his imagination; but so soon as he opened themthe
graceful and richly-gemmed turbanthe light hauberk of steel
rings entwisted with silverwhich glanced brilliantly as it
obeyed every inflection of the bodythe features freed from
their formal expressionless swarthyand no longer shadowed by
the mass of hair (now limited to a well-trimmed beard)announced
the soldier and not the sage.

Art thou still so much surprised,said the Emirand hast thou
walked in the world with such little observance, as to wonder
that men are not always what they seem? Thou thyself--art thou
what thou seemest?

No, by Saint Andrew!exclaimed the knight; "for to the whole
Christian camp I seem a traitorand I know myself to be a true
though an erring man."

Even so I judged thee,said Ilderim; "and as we had eaten salt
togetherI deemed myself bound to rescue thee from death and
contumely. But wherefore lie you still on your couchsince the
sun is high in the heavens? or are the vestments which my
sumpter-camels have afforded unworthy of your wearing?"

Not unworthy, surely, but unfitting for it,replied the Scot.
Give me the dress of a slave, noble Ilderim, and I will don it
with pleasure; but I cannot brook to wear the habit of the free
Eastern warrior with the turban of the Moslem.

Nazarene,answered the Emirthy nation so easily entertain
suspicion that it may well render themselves suspected. Have I
not told thee that Saladin desires no converts saving those whom
the holy Prophet shall dispose to submit themselves to his law?
violence and bribery are alike alien to his plan for extending
the true faith. Hearken to me, my brother. When the blind man
was miraculously restored to sight, the scales dropped from his
eyes at the Divine pleasure. Think'st thou that any earthly
leech could have removed them? No. Such mediciner might have
tormented the patient with his instruments, or perhaps soothed
him with his balsams and cordials, but dark as he was must the
darkened man have remained; and it is even so with the blindness
of the understanding. If there be those among the Franks who,
for the sake of worldly lucre, have assumed the turban of the
Prophet, and followed the laws of Islam, with their own
consciences be the blame. Themselves sought out the bait; it was
not flung to them by the Soldan. And when they shall hereafter
be sentenced, as hypocrites, to the lowest gulf of hell, below
Christian and Jew, magician and idolater, and condemned to eat
the fruit of the tree Yacoun, which is the heads of demons, to
themselves, not to the Soldan, shall their guilt and their
punishment be attributed. Wherefore wear, without doubt or
scruple, the vesture prepared for you, since, if you proceed to
the camp of Saladin, your own native dress will expose you to
troublesome observation, and perhaps to insult.

IF I go to the camp of Saladin?said Sir Kennethrepeating the
words of the Emir; "alas! am I a free agentand rather must I
NOT go wherever your pleasure carries me?"

Thine own will may guide thine own motions,said the Emiras
freely as the wind which moveth the dust of the desert in what
direction it chooseth. The noble enemy who met and well-nigh
mastered my sword cannot become my slave like him who has
crouched beneath it. If wealth and power would tempt thee to


join our people, I could ensure thy possessing them; but the man
who refused the favours of the Soldan when the axe was at his
head, will not, I fear, now accept them, when I tell him he has
his free choice.

Complete your generosity, noble Emir,said Sir Kennethby
forbearing to show me a mode of requital which conscience forbids
me to comply with. Permit me rather to express, as bound in
courtesy, my gratitude for this most chivalrous bounty, this
undeserved generosity.

Say not undeserved,replied the Emir Ilderim. "Was it not
through thy conversationand thy account of the beauties which
grace the court of the Melech Ricthat I ventured me thither in
disguiseand thereby procured a sight the most blessed that I
have ever enjoyed--that I ever shall enjoyuntil the glories of
Paradise beam on my eyes?"

I understand you not,said Sir Kennethcolouring alternately
and turning paleas one who felt that the conversation was
taking a tone of the most painful delicacy.

Not understand me!exclaimed the Emir. "If the sight I saw in
the tent of King Richard escaped thine observationI will
account it duller than the edge of a buffoon's wooden falchion.
Truethou wert under sentence of death at the time; butin my
casehad my head been dropping from the trunkthe last strained
glances of my eyeballs had distinguished with delight such a
vision of lovelinessand the head would have rolled itself
towards the incomparable houristo kiss with its quivering lips
the hem of their vestments. Yonder royalty of Englandwho for
her superior loveliness deserves to be Queen of the universe-what
tenderness in her blue eyewhat lustre in her tresses of
dishevelled gold! By the tomb of the ProphetI scarce think
that the houri who shall present to me the diamond cup of
immortality will deserve so warm a caress!"

Saracen,said Sir Kenneth sternlythou speakest of the wife
of Richard of England, of whom men think not and speak not as a
woman to be won, but as a Queen to be revered.

I cry you mercy,said the Saracen. "I had forgotten your
superstitious veneration for the sexwhich you consider rather
fit to be wondered at and worshipped than wooed and possessed. I
warrantsince thou exactest such profound respect to yonder
tender piece of frailtywhose every motionstepand look
bespeaks her very womanless than absolute adoration must not be
yielded to her of the dark tresses and nobly speaking eye. SHE
indeedI will allowhath in her noble port and majestic mien
something at once pure and firm; yet even shewhen pressed by
opportunity and a forward loverwouldI warrant theethank him
in her heart rather for treating her as a mortal than as a
goddess."

Respect the kinswoman of Coeur de Lion!said Sir Kennethin a
tone of unrepressed anger.

Respect her!answered the Emir in scorn; "by the Caabaand if
I doit shall be rather as the bride of Saladin."

The infidel Soldan is unworthy to salute even a spot that has
been pressed by the foot of Edith Plantagenet!exclaimed the
Christianspringing from his couch.


Ha! what said the Giaour?exclaimed the Emirlaying his hand
on his poniard hiltwhile his forehead glowed like glancing
copperand the muscles of his lips and cheeks wrought till each
curl of his beard seemed to twist and screw itselfas if alive
with instinctive wrath. But the Scottish knightwho had stood
the lion-anger of Richardwas unappalled at the tigerlike mood
of the chafed Saracen.

What I have said,continued Sir Kennethwith folded arms and
dauntless lookI would, were my hands loose, maintain on foot
or horseback against all mortals; and would hold it not the most
memorable deed of my life to support it with my good broadsword
against a score of these sickles and bodkins,pointing at the
curved sabre and small poniard of the Emir.

The Saracen recovered his composure as the Christian spokeso
far as to withdraw his hand from his weaponas if the motion had
been without meaningbut still continued in deep ire.

By the sword of the Prophet,he saidwhich is the key both of
heaven and hell, he little values his own life, brother, who uses
the language thou dost! Believe me, that were thine hands loose,
as thou term'st it, one single true believer would find them so
much to do that thou wouldst soon wish them fettered again in
manacles of iron.

Sooner would I wish them hewn off by the shoulder-blades!
replied Sir Kenneth.

Well. Thy hands are bound at present,said the Saracenin a
more amicable tone--"bound by thine own gentle sense of courtesy;
nor have I any present purpose of setting them at liberty. We
have proved each other's strength and courage ere nowand we may
again meet in a fair field--and shame befall him who shall be
the first to part from his foeman! But now we are friendsand I
look for aid from thee rather than hard terms or defiances."

We ARE friends,repeated the knight; and there was a pause
during which the fiery Saracen paced the tentlike the lion
whoafter violent irritationis said to take that method of
cooling the distemperature of his bloodere he stretches himself
to repose in his den. The colder European remained unaltered in
posture and aspect; yet hedoubtlesswas also engaged in
subduing the angry feelings which had been so unexpectedly
awakened.

Let us reason of this calmly,said the Saracen. "I am a
physicianas thou knowestand it is written that he who would
have his wound cured must not shrink when the leech probes and
tests it. Seest thouI am about to lay my finger on the sore.
Thou lovest this kinswoman of the Melech Ric. Unfold the veil
that shrouds thy thoughts--or unfold it not if thou wiltfor
mine eyes see through its coverings."

I LOVED her,answered Sir Kennethafter a pauseas a man
loves Heaven's grace, and sued for her favour like a sinner for
Heaven's pardon.

And you love her no longer?said the Saracen.

Alas,answered Sir KennethI am no longer worthy to love her.
I pray thee cease this discourse--thy words are poniards to me.

Pardon me but a moment,continued Ilderim. "When thoua poor


and obscure soldierdidst so boldly and so highly fix thine
affectiontell mehadst thou good hope of its issue?"

Love exists not without hope,replied the knight; "but mine was
as nearly allied to despair as that of the sailor swimming for
his lifewhoas he surmounts billow after billowcatches by
intervals some gleam of the distant beaconwhich shows him there
is land in sightthough his sinking heart and wearied limbs
assure him that he shall never reach it."

And now,said Ilderimthese hopes are sunk--that solitary
light is quenched for ever?

For ever,answered Sir Kennethin the tone of an echo from the
bosom of a ruined sepulchre.

Methinks,said the Saracenif all thou lackest were some such
distant meteoric glimpse of happiness as thou hadst formerly, thy
beacon-light might be rekindled, thy hope fished up from the
ocean in which it has sunk, and thou thyself, good knight,
restored to the exercise and amusement of nourishing thy
fantastic fashion upon a diet as unsubstantial as moonlight; for,
if thou stood'st tomorrow fair in reputation as ever thou wert,
she whom thou lovest will not be less the daughter of princes and
the elected bride of Saladin.

I would it so stood,said the Scotand if I did not--

He stopped shortlike a man who is afraid of boasting under
circumstances which did not permit his being put to the test.
The Saracen smiled as he concluded the sentence.

Thou wouldst challenge the. Soldan to single combat?said he.

And if I did,said Sir Kenneth haughtilySaladin's would
neither be the first nor the best turban that I have couched
lance at.

Ay, but methinks the Soldan might regard it as too unequal a
mode of perilling the chance of a royal bride and the event of a
great war,said the Emir.

He may be met with in the front of battle,said the knighthis
eyes gleaming with the ideas which such a thought inspired.

He has been ever found there,said Ilderim; "nor is it his wont
to turn his horse's head from any brave encounter. But it was
not of the Soldan that I meant to speak. In a wordif it will
content thee to be placed in such reputation as may be attained
by detection of the thief who stole the Banner of EnglandI can
put thee in a fair way of achieving this task--that isif thou
wilt be governed; for what says Lokman'If the child would walk
the nurse must lead him; if the ignorant would understandthe
wise must instruct.'"

And thou art wise, Ilderim,said the Scot--"wise though a
Saracenand generous though an infidel. I have witnessed that
thou art both. Takethenthe guidance of this matter; and so
thou ask nothing of me contrary to my loyalty and my Christian
faithIwill obey thee punctually. Do what thou hast saidand
take my life when it is accomplished."

Listen thou to me, then,said the Saracen. "Thy noble hound is
now recoveredby the blessing of that divine medicine which


healeth man and beast; and by his sagacity shall those who
assailed him be discovered."


Ha!said the knightmethinks I comprehend thee. I was dull
not to think of this!


But tell me,added the Emirhast thou any followers or
retainers in the camp by whom the animal may be known?


I dismissed,said Sir Kennethmy old attendant, thy patient,
with a varlet that waited on him, at the time when I expected to
suffer death, giving him letters for my friends in Scotland;
there are none other to whom the dog is familiar. But then my
own person is well known--my very speech will betray me, in a
camp where I have played no mean part for many months.


Both he and thou shalt be disguised, so as to escape even close
examination. I tell thee,said the Saracenthat not thy
brother in arms--not thy brother in blood--shall discover thee,
if thou be guided by my counsels. Thou hast seen me do matters
more difficult--he that can call the dying from the darkness of
the shadow of death can easily cast a mist before the eyes of the
living. But mark me: there is still the condition annexed to
this service--that thou deliver a letter of Saladin to the niece
of the Melech Ric, whose name is as difficult to our Eastern
tongue and lips, as her beauty is delightful to our eyes.


Sir Kenneth paused before he answeredand the Saracen observing
his hesitationdemanded of himif he feared to undertake this
message?


Not if there were death in the execution,said Sir Kenneth. "I
do but pause to consider whether it consists with my honour to
bear the letter of the Soldanor with that of the Lady Edith to
receive it from a heathen prince."


By the head of Mohammed, and by the honour of a soldier--by the
tomb at Mecca, and by the soul of my father,said the EmirI
swear to thee that the letter is written in all honour and
respect. The song of the nightingale will sooner blight the
rose-bower she loves than will the words of the Soldan offend the
ears of the lovely kinswoman of England.


Then,said the knightI will bear the Soldan's letter
faithfully, as if I were his born vassal--understanding, that
beyond this simple act of service, which I will render with
fidelity, from me of all men he can least expect mediation or
advice in this his strange love-suit.


Saladin is noble,answered the Emirand will not spur a
generous horse to a leap which he cannot achieve. Come with me
to my tent,he addedand thou shalt be presently equipped with
a disguise as unsearchable as midnight, so thou mayest walk the
camp of the Nazarenes as if thou hadst on thy finger the signet
of Giaougi.[Perhaps the same with Gyges.]


CHAPTER XXIV


A grain of dust
Soiling our cupwill make our sense reject
Fastidiously the draught which we did thirst for;
A rusted nailplaced near the faithful compass



Will sway it from the truthand wreck the argosy.
Even this small cause of anger and disgust
Will break the bonds of amity 'mongst princes
And wreck their noblest purposes. THE CRUSADE.


The reader can now have little doubt who the Ethiopian slave
really waswith what purpose he had sought Richard's campand
wherefore and with what hope he now stood close to the person of
that Monarchassurrounded by his valiant peers of England and
NormandyCoeur de Lion stood on the summit of Saint George's
Mountwith the Banner of England by his sideborne by the most
goodly person in the armybeing his own natural brotherWilliam
with the Long SwordEarl of Salisburythe offspring of Henry
the Second's amour with the celebrated Rosamond of Woodstock.


From several expressions in the King's conversation with Neville
on the preceding daythe Nubian was left in anxious doubt
whether his disguise had not been penetratedespecially as that
the King seemed to be aware in what manner the agency of the dog
was expected to discover the thief who stole the banneralthough
the circumstance of such an animal's having been wounded on the
occasion had been scarce mentioned in Richard's presence.
Neverthelessas the King continued to treat him in no other
manner than his exterior requiredthe Nubian remained uncertain
whether he was or was not discoveredand determined not to throw
his disguise aside voluntarily.


Meanwhilethe powers of the various Crusading princesarrayed
under their royal and princely leadersswept in long order
around the base of the little mound; and as those of each
different country passed bytheir commanders advanced a step or
two up the hilland made a signal of courtesy to Richard and to
the Standard of Englandin sign of regard and amity,as the
protocol of the ceremony heedfully expressed itnot of
subjection or vassalage.The spiritual dignitarieswho in
those days veiled not their bonnets to created beingbestowed on
the King and his symbol of command their blessing instead of
rendering obeisance.


Thus the long files marched onanddiminished as they were by
so many causesappeared still an iron hostto whom the conquest
of Palestine might seem an easy task. The soldiersinspired by
the consciousness of united strengthsat erect in their steel
saddles; while it seemed that the trumpets sounded more
cheerfully shrilland the steedsrefreshed by rest and
provenderchafed on the bitand trod the ground more proudly.
On they passedtroop after troopbanners wavingspears
glancingplumes dancingin long perspective--a host composed of
different nationscomplexionslanguagesarmsand appearances
but all firedfor the timewith the holy yet romantic purpose
of rescuing the distressed daughter of Zion from her thraldom
and redeeming the sacred earthwhich more than mortal had
troddenfrom the yoke of the unbelieving pagan. And it must be
owned that ifin other circumstancesthe species of courtesy
rendered to the King of England by so many warriorsfrom whom he
claimed no natural allegiancehad in it something that might
have been thought humiliatingyet the nature and cause of the
war was so fitted to his pre-eminently chivalrous character and
renowned feats in armsthat claims which might elsewhere have
been urged were there forgottenand the brave did willing homage
to the bravestin an expedition where the most undaunted and
energetic courage was necessary to success.


The good King was seated on horseback about half way up the



mounta morion on his headsurmounted by a crownwhich left
his manly features exposed to public viewaswith cool and
considerate eyehe perused each rank as it passed himand
returned the salutation of the leaders. His tunic was of sky-coloured velvetcovered with plates of silver
and his hose of
crimson silkslashed with cloth of gold. By his side stood the
seeming Ethiopian slaveholding the noble dog in a leashsuch
as was used in woodcraft. It was a circumstance which attracted
no noticefor many of the princes of the Crusade had introduced
black slaves into their householdin imitation of the barbarous
splendour of the Saracens. Over the King's head streamed the
large folds of the bannerandas he looked to it from time to
timehe seemed to regard a ceremonyindifferent to himself
personallyas importantwhen considered as atoning an indignity
offered to the kingdom which he ruled. In the backgroundand on
the very summit of the Mounta wooden turreterected for the
occasionheld the Queen Berengaria and the principal ladies of
the Court. To this the King looked from time to time; and then
ever and anon his eyes were turned on the Nubian and the dogbut
only when such leaders approachedasfrom circumstances of
previous ill-willhe suspected of being accessory to the theft
of the standardor whom he judged capable of a crime so mean.

Thushe did not look in that direction when Philip Augustus of
France approached at the head of his splendid troops of Gallic
chivalry---nayhe anticipated the motions of the French Kingby
descending the Mount as the latter came up the ascentso that
they met in the middle spaceand blended their greetings so
gracefully that it appeared they met in fraternal equality. The
sight of the two greatest princes in Europein rank at once and
powerthus publicly avowing their concordcalled forth bursts
of thundering acclaim from the Crusading host at many miles
distanceand made the roving Arab scouts of the desert alarm the
camp of Saladin with intelligence that the army of the Christians
was in motion. Yet who but the King of kings can read the hearts
of monarchs? Under this smooth show of courtesyRichard
nourished displeasure and suspicion against Philipand Philip
meditated withdrawing himself and his host from the army of the
Crossand leaving Richard to accomplish or fail in the
enterprise with his own unassisted forces.

Richard's demeanour was different when the dark-armed knights and
squires of the Temple chivalry approached--men with countenances
bronzed to Asiatic blackness by the suns of Palestineand the
admirable state of whose horses and appointments far surpassed
even that of the choicest troops of France and England. The King
cast a hasty glance aside; but the Nubian stood quietand his
trusty dog sat at his feetwatchingwith a sagacious yet
pleased lookthe ranks which now passed before them. The King's
look turned again on the chivalrous Templarsas the Grand
Masteravailing himself of his mingled characterbestowed his
benediction on Richard as a priestinstead of doing him
reverence as a military leader.

The misproud and amphibious caitiff puts the monk upon me,said
Richard to the Earl of Salisbury. "ButLongswordwe will let
it pass. A punctilio must not lose Christendom the services of
these experienced lancesbecause their victories have rendered
them overweening. Lo youhere comes our valiant adversarythe
Duke of Austria. Mark his manner and bearingLongsword--and
thouNubianlet the hound have full view of him. By Heavenhe
brings his buffoons along with him!"

In factwhether from habitorwhich is more likelyto


intimate contempt of the ceremonial he was about to comply with
Leopold was attended by his SPRUCH-SPRECHER and his jester; and
as he advanced towards Richardhe whistled in what he wished to
be considered as an indifferent mannerthough his heavy features
evinced the sullennessmixed with the fearwith which a truant
schoolboy may be seen to approach his master. As the reluctant
dignitary madewith discomposed and sulky lookthe obeisance
requiredthe SPRUCH-SPRECHER shook his batonand proclaimed
like a heraldthatin what he was now doingthe Archduke of
Austria was not to be held derogating from the rank and
privileges of a sovereign prince; to which the jester answered
with a sonorous AMENwhich provoked much laughter among the
bystanders.

King Richard looked more than once at the Nubian and his dog; but
the former moved notnor did the latter strain at the leashso
that Richard said to the slave with some scornThy success in
this enterprise, my sable friend, even though thou hast brought
thy hound's sagacity to back thine own, will not, I fear, place
thee high in the rank of wizards, or much augment thy merits
towards our person.

The Nubian answeredas usualonly by a lowly obeisance.

Meantime the troops of the Marquis of Montserrat next passed in
order before the King of England. That powerful and wily baron
to make the greater display of his forceshad divided them into
two bodies. At the head of the firstconsisting of his vassals
and followersand levied from his Syrian possessionscame his
brother Enguerrand; and he himself followedleading on a gallant
band of twelve hundred Stradiotsa kind of light cavalry raised
by the Venetians in their Dalmatian possessionsand of which
they had entrusted the command to the Marquiswith whom the
republic had many bonds of connection. These Stradiots were
clothed in a fashion partly Europeanbut partaking chiefly of
the Eastern fashion. They woreindeedshort hauberksbut had
over them party-coloured tunics of rich stuffswith large wide
pantaloons and half-boots. On their heads were straight upright
capssimilar to those of the Greeks; and they carried small
round targetsbows and arrowsscimitarsand poniards. They
were mounted on horses carefully selectedand well maintained at
the expense of the State of Venice; their saddles and
appointments resembled those of the Turksand they rode in the
same mannerwith short stirrups and upon a high seat. These
troops were of great use in skirmishing with the Arabsthough
unable to engage in close combatlike the iron-sheathed men-at-arms of Western and Northern Europe.

Before this goodly band came Conradein the same garb with the
Stradiotsbut of such rich stuff that he seemed to blaze with
gold and silverand the milk-white plume fastened in his cap by
a clasp of diamonds seemed tall enough to sweep the clouds. The
noble steed which he reined bounded and caracoledand displayed
his spirit and agility in a manner which might have troubled a
less admirable horseman than the Marquiswho gracefully ruled
him with the one handwhile the other displayed the batonwhose
predominancy over the ranks which he led seemed equally absolute.
Yet his authority over the Stradiots was more in show than in
substance; for there paced beside himon an ambling palfrey of
soberest mooda little old mandressed entirely in black
without beard or moustachesand having an appearance altogether
mean and insignificant when compared with the blaze of splendour
around him. But this mean-looking old man was one of those
deputies whom the Venetian government sent into camps to overlook
the conduct of the generals to whom the leading was consigned


and to maintain that jealous system of espial and control which
had long distinguished the policy of the republic.

Conradewhoby cultivating Richard's humourhad attained a
certain degree of favour with himno sooner was come within his
ken than the King of England descended a step or two to meet him
exclaimingat the same timeHa, Lord Marquis, thou at the head
of the fleet Stradiots, and thy black shadow attending thee as
usual, whether the sun shines or not! May not one ask thee
whether the rule of the troops remains with the shadow or the
substance?

Conrade was commencing his reply with a smilewhen Roswalthe
noble hounduttering a furious and savage yellsprung forward.
The Nubianat the same timeslipped the leashand the hound
rushing onleapt upon Conrade's noble chargerandseizing the
Marquis by the throatpulled him down from the saddle. The
plumed rider lay rolling on the sandand the frightened horse
fled in wild career through the camp.

Thy hound hath pulled down the right quarry, I warrant him,
said the King to the Nubianand I vow to Saint George he is a
stag of ten tynes! Pluck the dog off; lest he throttle him.

The Ethiopianaccordinglythough not without difficulty
disengaged the dog from Conradeand fastened him upstill
highly excitedand struggling in the leash. Meanwhile many
crowded to the spotespecially followers of Conrade and officers
of the Stradiotswhoas they saw their leader lie gazing wildly
on the skyraised him up amid a tumultuary cry of "Cut the slave
and his hound to pieces!"

But the voice of Richardloud and sonorouswas heard clear
above all other exclamations. "He dies the death who injures the
hound! He hath but done his dutyafter the sagacity with which
God and nature have endowed the brave animal.--Stand forward for
a false traitorthou ConradeMarquis of Montserrat! I impeach
thee of treason."

Several of the Syrian leaders had now come upand Conrade
--vexationand shameand confusion struggling with passion in
his manner and voice--exclaimedWhat means this? With what am
I charged? Why this base usage and these reproachful terms? Is
this the league of concord which England renewed but so lately?

Are the Princes of the Crusade turned hares or deers in the eyes
of King Richard that he should slip hounds on them?said the
sepulchral voice of the Grand Master of the Templars.

It must be some singular accident--some fatal mistake,said
Philip of Francewho rode up at the same moment.

Some deceit of the Enemy,said the Archbishop of Tyre.

A stratagem of the Saracens,cried Henry of Champagne. "It
were well to hang up the dogand put the slave to the torture."

Let no man lay hand upon them,said Richardas he loves his
own life! Conrade, stand forth, if thou darest, and deny the
accusation which this mute animal hath in his noble instinct
brought against thee, of injury done to him, and foul scorn to
England!

I never touched the banner,said Conrade hastily.


Thy words betray thee, Conrade!said Richardfor how didst
thou know, save from conscious guilt, that the question is
concerning the banner?

Hast thou then not kept the camp in turmoil on that and no other
score?answered Conrade; "and dost thou impute to a prince and
an ally a crime whichafter allwas probably committed by some
paltry felon for the sake of the gold thread? Or wouldst thou
now impeach a confederate on the credit of a dog?"

By this time the alarm was becoming generalso that Philip of
France interposed.

Princes and nobles,he saidyou speak in presence of those
whose swords will soon be at the throats of each other if they
hear their leaders at such terms together. In the name of
Heaven, let us draw off each his own troops into their separate
quarters, and ourselves meet an hour hence in the Pavilion of
Council to take some order in this new state of confusion.

Content,said King Richardthough I should have liked to have
interrogated that caitiff while his gay doublet was yet
besmirched with sand. But the pleasure of France shall be ours
in this matter.

The leaders separated as was proposedeach prince placing
himself at the head of his own forces; and then was heard on all
sides the crying of war-cries and the sounding of gathering-notes
upon bugles and trumpetsby which the different stragglers were
summoned to their prince's bannerand the troops were shortly
seen in motioneach taking different routes through the camp to
their own quarters. But although any immediate act of violence
was thus preventedyet the accident which had taken place dwelt
on every mind; and those foreigners who had that morning hailed
Richard as the worthiest to lead their armynow resumed their
prejudices against his pride and intolerancewhile the English
conceiving the honour of their country connected with the
quarrelof which various reports had gone aboutconsidered the
natives of other countries jealous of the fame of England and her
Kingand disposed to undermine it by the meanest arts of
intrigue. Many and various were the rumours spread upon the
occasionand there was one which averred that the Queen and her
ladies had been much alarmed by the tumultand that one of them
had swooned.

The Council assembled at the appointed hour. Conrade had in the
meanwhile laid aside his dishonoured dressand with it the shame
and confusion whichin spite of his talents and promptitudehad
at first overwhelmed himowing to the strangeness of the
accident and suddenness of the accusation. He was now robed like
a prince; and entered the council-chamber attended by the
Archduke of Austriathe Grand Masters both of the Temple and of
the Order of Saint Johnand several other potentateswho made a
show of supporting him and defending his causechiefly perhaps
from political motivesor because they themselves nourished a
personal enmity against Richard.

This appearance of union in favour of Conrade was far from
influencing the King of England. He entered the Council with his
usual indifference of mannerand in the same dress in which he
had just alighted from horseback. He cast a careless and
somewhat scornful glance on the leaderswho had with studied
affectation arranged themselves around Conrade as if owning his


causeand in the most direct terms charged Conrade of Montserrat
with having stolen the Banner of Englandand wounded the
faithful animal who stood in its defence.

Conrade arose boldly to answerand in despiteas he expressed
himselfof man and bruteking or dogavouched his innocence of
the crime charged.

Brother of England,said Philipwho willingly assumed the
character of moderator of the assemblythis is an unusual
impeachment. We do not hear you avouch your own knowledge of
this matter, further than your belief resting upon the demeanour
of this hound towards the Marquis of Montserrat. Surely the word
of a knight and a prince should bear him out against the barking
of a cur?

Royal brother,returned Richardrecollect that the Almighty,
who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils,
hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.
He forgets neither friend nor foe--remembers, and with accuracy,
both benefit and injury. He hath a share of man's intelligence,
but no share of man's falsehood. You may bribe a soldier to slay
a man with his sword, or a witness to take life by false
accusation; but you cannot make a hound tear his benefactor. He
is the friend of man, save when man justly incurs his enmity.
Dress yonder marquis in what peacock-robes you will, disguise his
appearance, alter his complexion with drugs and washes, hide him
amidst a hundred men,--I will yet pawn my sceptre that the hound
detects him, and expresses his resentment, as you have this day
beheld. This is no new incident, although a strange one.
Murderers and robbers have been ere now convicted, and suffered
death under such evidence, and men have said that the finger of
God was in it. In thine own land, royal brother, and upon such
an occasion, the matter was tried by a solemn duel betwixt the
man and the dog, as appellant and defendant in a challenge of
murder. The dog was victorious, the man was punished, and the
crime was confessed. Credit me, royal brother, that hidden
crimes have often been brought to light by the testimony even of
inanimate substances, not to mention animals far inferior in
instinctive sagacity to the dog, who is the friend and companion
of our race.

Such a duel there hath indeed been, royal brother,answered
Philipand that in the reign of one of our predecessors, to
whom God be gracious. But it was in the olden time, nor can we
hold it a precedent fitting for this occasion. The defendant in
that case was a private gentleman of small rank or respect; his
offensive weapons were only a club, his defensive a leathern
jerkin. But we cannot degrade a prince to the disgrace of using
such rude arms, or to the ignominy of such a combat.

I never meant that you should,said King Richard; "it were foul
play to hazard the good hound's life against that of such a
double-faced traitor as this Conrade hath proved himself. But
there lies our own glove; we appeal him to the combat in respect
of the evidence we brought forth against him. A kingat least
is more than the mate of a marquis."

Conrade made no hasty effort to seize on the pledge which Richard
cast into the middle of the assemblyand King Philip had time to
reply ere the marquis made a motion to lift the glove.

A king,said he of Franceis as much more than a match for
the Marquis Conrade as a dog would be less. Royal Richard, this


cannot be permitted. You are the leader of our expedition--the
sword and buckler of Christendom.

I protest against such a combat,said the Venetian proveditore
until the King of England shall have repaid the fifty thousand
byzants which he is indebted to the republic. It is enough to be
threatened with loss of our debt, should our debtor fall by the
hands of the pagans, without the additional risk of his being
slain in brawls amongst Christians concerning dogs and banners.

And I,said William with the Long SwordEarl of Salisbury
protest in my turn against my royal brother perilling his life,
which is the property of the people of England, in such a cause.
Here, noble brother, receive back your glove, and think only as
if the wind had blown it from your hand. Mine shall lie in its
stead. A king's son, though with the bar sinister on his shield,
is at least a match for this marmoset of a marquis.

Princes and nobles,said ConradeI will not accept of King
Richard's defiance. He hath been chosen our leader against the
Saracens, and if his conscience can answer the accusation of
provoking an ally to the field on a quarrel so frivolous, mine,
at least, cannot endure the reproach of accepting it. But
touching his bastard brother, William of Woodstock, or against
any other who shall adopt or shall dare to stand godfather to
this most false charge, I will defend my honour in the lists, and
prove whosoever impeaches it a false liar.

The Marquis of Montserrat,said the Archbishop of Tyrehath
spoken like a wise and moderate gentleman; and methinks this
controversy might, without dishonour to any party, end at this
point.

Methinks it might so terminate,said the King of France
provided King Richard will recall his accusation as made upon
over-slight grounds.

Philip of France,answered Coeur de Lionmy words shall never
do my thoughts so much injury. I have charged yonder Conrade as
a thief, who, under cloud of night, stole from its place the
emblem of England's dignity. I still believe and charge him to
be such; and when a day is appointed for the combat, doubt not
that, since Conrade declines to meet us in person, I will find a
champion to appear in support of my challenge--for thou, William,
must not thrust thy long sword into this quarrel without our
special license.

Since my rank makes me arbiter in this most unhappy matter,
said Philip of FranceI appoint the fifth day from hence for
the decision thereof, by way of combat, according to knightly
usage--Richard, King of England, to appear by his champion as
appellant, and Conrade, Marquis of Montserrat, in his own person,
as defendant. Yet I own I know not where to find neutral ground
where such a quarrel may be fought out; for it must not be in the
neighbourhood of this camp, where the soldiers would make faction
on the different sides.

It were well,said Richardto apply to the generosity of the
royal Saladin, since, heathen as he is, I have never known knight
more fulfilled of nobleness, or to whose good faith we may so
peremptorily entrust ourselves. I speak thus for those who may
be doubtful of mishap; for myself, wherever I see my foe, I make
that spot my battle-ground.


Be it so,said Philip; "we will make this matter known to
Saladinalthough it be showing to an enemy the unhappy spirit of
discord which we would willingly hide from even ourselveswere
it possible. MeanwhileI dismiss this assemblyand charge you
allas Christian men and noble knightsthat ye let this unhappy
feud breed no further brawling in the campbut regard it as a
thing solemnly referred to the judgment of Godto whom each of
you should pray that He will dispose of victory in the combat
according to the truth of the quarrel; and therewith may His will
be done!"

Amen, amen!was answered on all sides; while the Templar
whispered the MarquisConrade, wilt thou not add a petition to
be delivered from the power of the dog, as the Psalmist hath it?

Peace, thou--!replied the Marquis; "there is a revealing
demon abroad which may reportamongst other tidingshow far
thou dost carry the motto of thy order--"FERIATUR LEO."

Thou wilt stand the brunt of challenge?said the Templar.

Doubt me not,said Conrade. "I would notindeedhave
willingly met the iron arm of Richard himselfand I shame not to
confess that I rejoice to be free of his encounter; butfrom his
bastard brother downwardthe man breathes not in his ranks whom
I fear to meet."

It is well you are so confident,continued the Templar; "and
in that casethe fangs of yonder hound have done more to
dissolve this league of princes than either thy devices or the
dagger of the Charegite. Seest thou howunder a brow studiously
overcloudedPhilip cannot conceal the satisfaction which he
feels at the prospect of release from the alliance which sat so
heavy on him? Mark how Henry of Champagne smiles to himself
like a sparkling goblet of his own wine; and see the chuckling
delight of Austriawho thinks his quarrel is about to be avenged
without risk or trouble of his own. Hush! he approaches.--A
most grievous chancemost royal Austriathat these breaches in
the walls of our Zion--"

If thou meanest this Crusade,replied the DukeI would it
were crumbled to pieces, and each were safe at home! I speak
this in confidence.

But,said the Marquis of Montserratto think this disunion
should be made by the hands of King Richard, for whose pleasure
we have been contented to endure so much, and to whom we have
been as submissive as slaves to a master, in hopes that he would
use his valour against our enemies, instead of exercising it upon
our friends!

I see not that he is so much more valorous than others,said
the Archduke. "I believehad the noble Marquis met him in the
listshe would have had the better; for though the islander
deals heavy blows with the pole-axehe is not so very dexterous
with the lance. I should have cared little to have met him
myself on our old quarrelhad the weal of Christendom permitted
to sovereign princes to breathe themselves in the lists; and if
thou desirest itnoble MarquisI will myself be your godfather
in this combat."

And I also,said the Grand Master.

Come, then, and take your nooning in our tent, noble sirs,said


the Dukeand we'll speak of this business over some right
NIERENSTEIN.


They entered together accordingly.


What said our patron and these great folks together?said Jonas
Schwanker to his companionthe SPRUCH-SPRECHERwho had used the
freedom to press nigh to his master when the Council was
dismissedwhile the jester waited at a more respectful distance.


Servant of Folly,said the SPRUCH-SPRECHERmoderate thy
curiosity; it beseems not that I should tell to thee the counsels
of our master.


Man of wisdom, you mistake,answered Jonas. "We are both the
constant attendants on our patronand it concerns us alike to
know whether thou or I--Wisdom or Folly--have the deeper interest
in him."


He told to the Marquis,answered the SPRUCH-SPRECHERand to
the Grand Master, that he was aweary of these wars, and would be
glad he was safe at home.


That is a drawn cast, and counts for nothing in the game,said
the jester; "it was most wise to think thusbut great folly to
tell it to others--proceed."


Ha, hem!said the SPRUCH-SPRECHER; "he next said to them that
Richard was not more valorous than othersor over-dexterous in
the tilt-yard."


Woodcock of my side,said Schwankerthis was egregious folly.
What next?


Nay, I am something oblivious,replied the man of wisdom-- "he
invited them to a goblet of NIERENSTEIN."


That hath a show of wisdom in it,said Jonas. "Thou mayest
mark it to thy credit in the meantime; but an he drink too much
as is most likelyI will have it pass to mine. Anything more?"


Nothing worth memory,answered the orator; "only he wished he
had taken the occasion to meet Richard in the lists."


Out upon it--out upon it!said Jonas; "this is such dotage of
folly that I am well-nigh ashamed of winning the game by it.
Ne'erthelessfool as he iswe will follow himmost sage
SPRUCH-SPRECHERand have our share of the wine of NIERENSTEIN."


CHAPTER XXV.


Yet this inconstancy is such
As thoutooshalt adore;
I could not love theelove so much
Loved I not honour more. MONTROSE'S LINES.


When King Richard returned to his tenthe commanded the Nubian
to be brought before him. He entered with his usual ceremonial
reverenceand having prostrated himselfremained standing
before the King in the attitude of a slave awaiting the orders of
his master. It was perhaps well for him that the preservation of
his character required his eyes to be fixed on the groundsince



the keen glance with which Richard for some time surveyed him in
silence wouldif fully encounteredhave been difficult to
sustain.

Thou canst well of woodcraft,said the Kingafter a pause
and hast started thy game and brought him to bay as ably as if
Tristrem himself had taught thee. [A universal tradition
ascribed to Sir Tristrem, famous for his love of the fair Queen
Yseult, the laws concerning the practice of woodcraft, or
VENERIE, as it was called, being those that related to the rules
of the chase, which were deemed of much consequence during the
Middle Ages.] But this is not all--he must be brought down at
force. I myself would have liked to have levelled my hunting-spear at him.
which prevent this.
Thou art about to return to the camp of the Soldan, bearing a
letter, requiring of his courtesy to appoint neutral ground for
the deed of chivalry, and should it consist with his pleasure, to
concur with us in witnessing it. Now, speaking conjecturally, we
think thou mightst find in that camp some cavalier who, for the
love of truth and his own augmentation of honour, will do battle
with this same traitor of Montserrat.

The Nubian raised his eyes and fixed them on the King with a look
of eager ardour; then raised them to Heaven with such solemn
gratitude that the water soon glistened in them; then bent his
headas affirming what Richard desiredand resumed his usual
posture of submissive attention.

It is well,said the King; "and I see thy desire to oblige me
in this matter. And hereinI must needs saylies the
excellence of such a servant as thouwho hast not speech either
to debate our purpose or to require explanation of what we have
determined. An English serving man in thy place had given me his
dogged advice to trust the combat with some good lance of my
householdwhofrom my brother Longsword downwardsare all on
fire to do battle in my cause; and a chattering Frenchman had
made a thousand attempts to discover wherefore I look for a
champion from the camp of the infidels. But thoumy silent
agentcanst do mine errand without questioning or comprehending
it; with thee to hear is to obey."

A bend of the body and a genuflection were the appropriate answer
of the Ethiopian to these observations.

And now to another point,said the Kingand speaking suddenly
and rapidly--"have you yet seen Edith Plantagenet?"

The mute looked up as in the act of being about to speak--nay
his lips had begun to utter a distinct negative--when the
abortive attempt died away in the imperfect murmurs of the dumb.

Why, lo you there!said the Kingthe very sound of the name
of a royal maiden of beauty so surpassing as that of our lovely
cousin seems to have power enough well-nigh to make the dumb
speak. What miracles then might her eye work upon such a
subject! I will make the experiment, friend slave. Thou shalt
see this choice beauty of our Court, and do the errand of the
princely Soldan.

Again a joyful glance--again a genuflection--butas he arose
the King laid his hand heavily on his shoulderand proceeded
with stern gravity thus: "Let me in one thing warn youmy sable
envoy. Even if thou shouldst feel that the kindly influence of
her whom thou art soon to behold should loosen the bonds of thy

There areit seemsrespects


tonguepresently imprisonedas the good Soldan expresses it
within the ivory walls of its castlebeware how thou changest
thy taciturn characteror speakest a word in her presenceeven
if thy powers of utterance were to be miraculously restored.
Believe me that I should have thy tongue extracted by the roots
and its ivory palace--that isI presumeits range of teeth
--drawn out one by one. Whereforebe wise and silent still."

The Nubianso soon as the King had removed his heavy grasp from
his shoulderbent his headand laid his hand on his lipsin
token of silent obedience.

But Richard again laid his hand on him more gentlyand added
This behest we lay on thee as on a slave. Wert thou knight and
gentleman, we would require thine honour in pledge of thy
silence, which is one especial condition of our present trust.

The Ethiopian raised his body proudlylooked full at the King
and laid his right hand on his heart.

Richard then summoned his chamberlain.

Go, Neville,he saidwith this slave to the tent of our royal
consort, and say it is our pleasure that he have an audience--a
private audience--of our cousin Edith. He is charged with a
commission to her. Thou canst show him the way also, in case he
requires thy guidance, though thou mayst have observed it is
wonderful how familiar he already seems to be with the purlieus
of our camp.--And thou, too, friend Ethiop,the King continued
what thou dost do quickly, and return hither within the half-hour.

I stand discovered,thought the seeming Nubianaswith
downcast looks and folded armshe followed the hasty stride of
Neville towards the tent of Queen Berengaria--"I stand
undoubtedly discovered and unfolded to King Richard; yet I cannot
perceive that his resentment is hot against me. If I understand
his words--and surely it is impossible to misinterpret them--he
gives me a noble chance of redeeming my honour upon the crest of
this false Marquiswhose guilt I read in his craven eye and
quivering lip when the charge was made against him.--Roswal
faithfully hast thou served thy masterand most dearly shall thy
wrong be avenged!--But what is the meaning of my present
permission to look upon her whom I had despaired ever to see
again? And whyor howcan the royal Plantagenet consent that I
should see his divine kinswomaneither as the messenger of the
heathen Saladinor as the guilty exile whom he so lately
expelled from his camp--his audacious avowal of the affection
which is his pride being the greatest enhancement of his guilt?
That Richard should consent to her receiving a letter from an
infidel lover by the hands of one of such disproportioned rank
are either of them circumstances equally incredibleandat the
same timeinconsistent with each other. But Richardwhen
unmoved by his heady passionsis liberalgenerousand truly
noble; and as such I will deal with himand act according to his
instructionsdirect or impliedseeking to know no more than may
gradually unfold itself without my officious inquiry. To him who
has given me so brave an opportunity to vindicate my tarnished
honourI owe acquiescence and obedience; and painful as it may
bethe debt shall be paid. And yet"--thus the proud swelling
of his heart further suggested--"Coeur de Lionas he is called
might have measured the feelings of others by his own. I urge an
address to his kinswoman! Iwho never spoke word to her when I
took a royal prize from her hand--when I was accounted not the
lowest in feats of chivalry among the defenders of the Cross! I


approach her when in a base disguiseand in a servile habit-and
alas! when my actual condition is that of a slavewith a
spot of dishonour on that which was once my shield! I do this!
He little knows me. Yet I thank him for the opportunity which
may make us all better acquainted with each other."

As he arrived at this conclusionthey paused before the entrance
of the Queen's pavilion.

They were of course admitted by the guardsand Nevilleleaving
the Nubian in a small apartmentor antechamberwhich was but
too well remembered by himpassed into that which was used as
the Queen's presence-chamber. He communicated his royal master's
pleasure in a low and respectful tone of voicevery different
from the bluntness of Thomas de Vauxto whom Richard was
everything and the rest of the Courtincluding Berengaria
herselfwas nothing. A burst of laughter followed the
communication of his errand.

And what like is the Nubian slave who comes ambassador on such
an errand from the Soldan?--a negro, De Neville, is he not?said
a female voiceeasily recognized for that of Berengaria. "A
negrois he notDe Nevillewith black skina head curled like
a ram'sa flat noseand blubber lips--haworthy Sir Henry?"

Let not your Grace forget the shin-bones,said another voice
bent outwards like the edge of a Saracen scimitar.

Rather like the bow of a Cupid, since he comes upon a lover's
errand,said the Queen.--"Gentle Nevillethou art ever prompt
to pleasure us poor womenwho have so little to pass away our
idle moments. We must see this messenger of love. Turks and
Moors have I seen manybut negro never."

I am created to obey your Grace's commands, so you will bear me
out with my Sovereign for doing so,answered the debonair
knight. "Yetlet me assure your Grace you will see something
different from what you expect."

So much the better--uglier yet than our imaginations can fancy,
yet the chosen love-messenger of this gallant Soldan!

Gracious madam,said the Lady Calistamay I implore you would
permit the good knight to carry this messenger straight to the
Lady Edith, to whom his credentials are addressed? We have
already escaped hardly for such a frolic.

Escaped?repeated the Queen scornfully. "Yet thou mayest be
rightCalistain thy caution. Let this Nubianas thou callest
himfirst do his errand to our cousin--besideshe is mute too
is he not?"

He is, gracious madam,answered the knight.

Royal sport have these Eastern ladies,said Berengaria
attended by those before whom they may say anything, yet who can
report nothing. Whereas in our camp, as the Prelate of Saint
Jude's is wont to say, a bird of the air will carry the matter.

Because,said De Nevilleyour Grace forgets that you speak
within canvas walls.

The voices sunk on this observationand after a little
whisperingthe English knight again returned to the Ethiopian


and made him a sign to follow. He did soand Neville conducted
him to a pavilionpitched somewhat apart from that of the Queen
for the accommodationit seemedof the Lady Edith and her
attendants. One of her Coptic maidens received the message
communicated by Sir Henry Nevilleand in the space of a very few
minutes the Nubian was ushered into Edith's presencewhile
Neville was left on the outside of the tent. The slave who
introduced him withdrew on a signal from her mistressand it was
with humiliationnot of the posture only but of the very inmost
soulthat the unfortunate knightthus strangely disguised
threw himself on one kneewith looks bent on the ground and arms
folded on his bosomlike a criminal who expects his doom. Edith
was clad in the same manner as when she received King Richard
her longtransparent dark veil hanging around her like the shade
of a summer night on a beautiful landscapedisguising and
rendering obscure the beauties which it could not hide. She held
in her hand a silver lampfed with some aromatic spiritwhich
burned with unusual brightness.

When Edith came within a step of the kneeling and motionless
slaveshe held the light towards his faceas if to peruse his
features more attentivelythen turned from himand placed her
lamp so as to throw the shadow of his face in profile upon the
curtain which hung beside. She at length spoke in a voice
composedyet deeply sorrowful

Is it you? It is indeed you, brave Knight of the Leopard
--gallant Sir Kenneth of Scotland; is it indeed you?--thus
servilely disguised--thus surrounded by a hundred dangers.

At hearing the tones of his lady's voice thus unexpectedly
addressed to himand in a tone of compassion approaching to
tendernessa corresponding reply rushed to the knight's lips
and scarce could Richard's commands and his own promised silence
prevent his answering that the sight he sawthe sounds he just
heardwere sufficient to recompense the slavery of a lifeand
dangers which threatened that life every hour. He did recollect
himselfhoweverand a deep and impassioned sigh was his only
reply to the high-born Edith's question.

I see--I know I have guessed right,continued Edith. "I marked
you from your first appearance near the platform on which I stood
with the Queen. I knewtooyour valiant hound. She is no true
ladyand is unworthy of the service of such a knight as thou
artfrom whom disguises of dress or hue could conceal a faithful
servant. Speakthenwithout fear to Edith Plantagenet. She
knows how to grace in adversity the good knight who served
honouredand did deeds of arms in her namewhen fortune
befriended him.--Still silent! Is it fear or shame that keeps
thee so! Fear should be unknown to thee; and for shamelet it
remain with those who have wronged thee."

The knightin despair at being obliged to play the mute in an
interview so interestingcould only express his mortification by
sighing deeplyand laying his finger upon his lips. Edith
stepped backas if somewhat displeased.

What!" she saidthe Asiatic mute in very deed, as well as in
attire? This I looked not for. Or thou mayest scorn me, perhaps,
for thus boldly acknowledging that I have heedfully observed the
homage thou hast paid me? Hold no unworthy thoughts of Edith on
that account. She knows well the bounds which reserve and
modesty prescribe to high-born maidens, and she knows when and
how far they should give place to gratitude--to a sincere desire


that it were in her power to repay services and repair injuries
arising from the devotion which a good knight bore towards her.
Why fold thy hands together, and wring them with so much passion?
Can it be,she addedshrinking back at the ideathat their
cruelty has actually deprived thee of speech? Thou shakest thy
head. Be it a spell--be it obstinacy, I question thee no
further, but leave thee to do thine errand after thine own
fashion. I also can be mute.

The disguised knight made an action as if at once lamenting his
own condition and deprecating her displeasurewhile at the same
time he presented to herwrappedas usualin fine silk and
cloth of goldthe letter of the Soldan. She took itsurveyed
it carelesslythen laid it asideand bending her eyes once more
on the knightshe said in a low toneNot even a word to do
thine errand to me?

He pressed both his hands to his browas if to intimate the pain
which he felt at being unable to obey her; but she turned from
him in anger.

Begone!she said. "I have spoken enough--too much--to one who
will not waste on me a word in reply. Begone!--and sayif I have
wronged theeI have done penance; for if I have been the unhappy
means of dragging thee down from a station of honourI havein
this interviewforgotten my own worthand lowered myself in thy
eyes and in my own."

She covered her eyes with her handsand seemed deeply agitated.
Sir Kenneth would have approachedbut she waved him back.

Stand off! thou whose soul Heaven hath suited to its new
station! Aught less dull and fearful than a slavish mute had
spoken a word of gratitude, were it but to reconcile me to my own
degradation. Why pause you?--begone!

The disguised knight almost involuntarily looked towards the
letter as an apology for protracting his stay. She snatched it
upsaying in a tone of irony and contemptI had forgotten--the
dutiful slave waits an answer to his message. How's this--from
the Soldan!

She hastily ran over the contentswhich were expressed both in
Arabic and Frenchand when she had doneshe laughed in bitter
anger.

Now this passes imagination!she said; "no jongleur can show so
deft a transmutation! His legerdemain can transform zechins and
byzants into doits and maravedis; but can his art convert a
Christian knightever esteemed among the bravest of the Holy
Crusadeinto the dust-kissing slave of a heathen Soldan--the
bearer of a paynim's insolent proposals to a Christian maiden-nay
forgetting the laws of honourable chivalryas well as of
religion? But it avails not talking to the willing slave of a
heathen hound. Tell your masterwhen his scourge shall have
found thee a tonguethat which thou hast seen me do"--so saying
she threw the Soldan's letter on the groundand placed her foot
upon it--"and say to himthat Edith Plantagenet scorns the
homage of an unchristened pagan."

With these words she was about to shoot from the knightwhen
kneeling at her feet in bitter agonyhe ventured to lay his hand
upon her robe and oppose her departure.


Heard'st thou not what I said, dull slave?she saidturning
short round on himand speaking with emphasis. "Tell the heathen
Soldanthy masterthat I scorn his suit as much as I despise
the prostration of a worthless renegade to religion and chivalry
--to God and to his lady!"


So sayingshe burst from himtore her garment from his grasp
and left the tent.


The voice of Nevilleat the same timesummoned him from
without. Exhausted and stupefied by the distress he had
undergone during this interviewfrom which he could only have
extricated himself by breach of the engagement which he had
formed with King Richardthe unfortunate knight staggered rather
than walked after the English barontill they reached the royal
pavilionbefore which a party of horsemen had just dismounted.
There were light and motion within the tentand when Neville
entered with his disguised attendantthey found the Kingwith
several of his nobilityengaged in welcoming those who were
newly arrived.


CHAPTER XXVI.


The tears I shed must ever fall.
I weep not for an absent swain;
For time may happier hours recall,
And parted lovers meet again.


I weep not for the silent dead.
Their pains are pasttheir sorrows o'er;
And those that loved their steps must tread
When death shall join to part no more."


But worse than absenceworse than death
She wept her lover's sullied fame
Andfired with all the pride of birth
She wept a soldier's injured name. BALLAD.


The frank and bold voice of Richard was heard in joyous
gratulation.


Thomas de Vaux! stout Tom of the Gills! by the head of King
Henry, thou art welcome to me as ever was flask of wine to a
jolly toper! I should scarce have known how to order my battle-array, unless I had thy bulky form in mine
eye as a landmark to
form my ranks upon. We shall have blows anon, Thomas, if the
saints be gracious to us; and had we fought in thine absence, I
would have looked to hear of thy being found hanging upon an
elder-tree.


I should have borne my disappointment with more Christian
patience, I trust,said Thomas de Vauxthan to have died the
death of an apostate. But I thank your Grace for my welcome,
which is the more generous, as it respects a banquet of blows, of
which, saving your pleasure, you are ever too apt to engross the
larger share. But here have I brought one to whom your Grace
will, I know, give a yet warmer welcome.


The person who now stepped forward to make obeisance to Richard
was a young man of low stature and slight form. His dress was as
modest as his figure was unimpressive; but he bore on his bonnet
a gold bucklewith a gemthe lustre of which could only be



rivalled by the brilliancy of the eye which the bonnet shaded.
It was the only striking feature in his countenance; but when
once noticedit ever made a strong impression on the spectator.
About his neck there hung in a scarf of sky-blue silk a WREST as
it was called--that isthe key with which a harp is tunedand
which was of solid gold.

This personage would have kneeled reverently to Richardbut the
Monarch raised him in joyful hastepressed him to his bosom
warmlyand kissed him on either side of the face.

Blondel de Nesle!he exclaimed joyfully--"welcome from Cyprus
my king of minstrels!--welcome to the King of Englandwho rates
not his own dignity more highly than he does thine. I have been
sickmanandby my soulI believe it was for lack of thee;
forwere I half way to the gate of heavenmethinks thy strains
could call me back. And what newsmy gentle masterfrom the
land of the lyre? Anything fresh from the TROUVEURS of Provence?
Anything from the minstrels of merry Normandy? Above allhast
thou thyself been busy? But I need not ask thee--thou canst not
be idle if thou wouldst; thy noble qualities are like a fire
burning withinand compel thee to pour thyself out in music and
song."

Something I have learned, and something I have done, noble
King,answered the celebrated Blondelwith a retiring modesty
which all Richard's enthusiastic admiration of his skill had been
unable to banish.

We will hear thee, man--we will hear thee instantly,said the
King. Thentouching Blondel's shoulder kindlyhe addedThat
is, if thou art not fatigued with thy journey; for I would sooner
ride my best horse to death than injure a note of thy voice.

My voice is, as ever, at the service of my royal patron,said
Blondel; "but your Majesty he added, looking at some papers on
the table, seems more importantly engagedand the hour waxes
late."

Not a whit, man, not a whit, my dearest Blondel. I did but
sketch an array of battle against the Saracens, a thing of a
moment, almost as soon done as the routing of them.

Methinks, however,said Thomas de Vauxit were not unfit to
inquire what soldiers your Grace hath to array. I bring reports
on that subject from Ascalon.

Thou art a mule, Thomas,said the King--"a very mule for
dullness and obstinacy! Comenobles--a hall--a hall--range ye
around him! Give Blondel the tabouret. Where is his harp-bearer?--orsoftlend him my harphis own
may be damaged by
the journey."

I would your Grace would take my report,said Thomas de Vaux.
I have ridden far, and have more list to my bed than to have my
ears tickled.

THY ears tickled!said the King; "that must be with a
woodcock's featherand not with sweet sounds. Hark thee
Thomasdo thine ears know the singing of Blondel from the
braying of an ass?"

In faith, my liege,replied ThomasI cannot well say; but
setting Blondel out of the question, who is a born gentleman, and


doubtless of high acquirements, I shall never, for the sake of
your Grace's question, look on a minstrel but I shall think upon
an ass.

And might not your manners,said Richardhave excepted me,
who am a gentleman born as well as Blondel, and, like him, a
guild-brother of the joyeuse science?

Your Grace should remember,said De Vauxsmilingthat 'tis
useless asking for manners from a mule.

Most truly spoken,said the King; "and an ill-conditioned
animal thou art. But come hithermaster muleand be unloaded
that thou mayest get thee to thy litterwithout any music being
wasted on thee. Meantime do thougood brother of Salisburygo
to our consort's tentand tell her that Blondel has arrived
with his budget fraught with the newest minstrelsy. Bid her come
hither instantlyand do thou escort herand see that our
cousinEdith Plantagenetremain not behind."

His eye then rested for a moment on the Nubianwith that
expression of doubtful meaning which his countenance usually
displayed when he looked at him.

Ha, our silent and secret messenger returned?--Stand up, slave,
behind the back of De Neville, and thou shalt hear presently
sounds which will make thee bless God that He afflicted thee
rather with dumbness than deafness.

So sayinghe turned from the rest of the company towards De
Vauxand plunged instantly into the military details which that
baron laid before him.

About the time that the Lord of Gilsland had finished his
audiencea messenger announced that the Queen and her attendants
were approaching the royal tent.--"A flask of wineho!" said
the King; "of old King Isaac's long-saved Cypruswhich we won
when we stormed Famagosta. Fill to the stout Lord of Gilsland
gentles--a more careful and faithful servant never had any
prince."

I am glad,said Thomas de Vauxthat your Grace finds the mule
a useful slave, though his voice be less musical than horse-hair
or wire.

What, thou canst not yet digest that quip of the mule?said
Richard. "Wash it down with a brimming flagonmanor thou wilt
choke upon it. Whyso--well pulled!--and now I will tell thee
thou art a soldier as well as Iand we must brook each other's
jests in the hall as each other's blows in the tourneyand love
each other the harder we hit. By my faithif thou didst not hit
me as hard as I did thee in our late encounter! thou gavest all
thy wit to the thrust. But here lies the difference betwixt thee
and Blondel. Thou art but my comrade--I might say my pupil--in
the art of war; Blondel is my master in the science of minstrelsy
and music. To thee I permit the freedom of intimacy; to him I
must do reverenceas to my superior in his art. Comemanbe
not peevishbut remain and hear our glee."

To see your Majesty in such cheerful mood,said the Lord of
Gilslandby my faith, I could remain till Blondel had achieved
the great romance of King Arthur, which lasts for three days.

We will not tax your patience so deeply,said the King. "But


seeyonder glare of torches without shows that our consort
approaches. Away to receive hermanand win thyself grace in
the brightest eyes of Christendom. Naynever stop to adjust thy
cloak. Seethou hast let Neville come between the wind and the
sails of thy galley."

He was never before me in the field of battle,said De Vaux
not greatly pleased to see himself anticipated by the more active
service of the chamberlain.

No, neither he nor any one went before thee there, my good Tom
of the Gills,said the Kingunless it was ourself, now and
then.

Ay, my liege,said De Vauxand let us do justice to the
unfortunate. The unhappy Knight of the Leopard hath been before
me too, at a season; for, look you, he weighs less on horseback,
and so--

Hush!said the Kinginterrupting him in a peremptory tone
not a word of him,and instantly stepped forward to greet his
royal consort; and when he had done sohe presented to her
Blondelas king of minstrelsy and his master in the gay science.
Berengariawho well knew that her royal husband's passion for
poetry and music almost equalled his appetite for warlike fame
and that Blondel was his especial favouritetook anxious care to
receive him with all the flattering distinctions due to one whom
the King delighted to honour. Yet it was evident thatthough
Blondel made suitable returns to the compliments showered on him
something too abundantly by the royal beautyhe owned with
deeper reverence and more humble gratitude the simple and
graceful welcome of Edithwhose kindly greeting appeared to him
perhapssincere in proportion to its brevity and simplicity.

Both the Queen and her royal husband were aware of this
distinctionand Richardseeing his consort somewhat piqued at
the preference assigned to his cousinby which perhaps he
himself did not feel much gratifiedsaid in the hearing of both
We minstrels, Berengaria, as thou mayest see by the bearing of
our master Blondel, pay more reverence to a severe judge like our
kinswoman than to a kindly, partial friend like thyself, who is
willing to take our worth upon trust.

Edith was moved by this sarcasm of her royal kinsmanand
hesitated not to reply thatTo be a harsh and severe judge was
not an attribute proper to her alone of all the Plantagenets.

She had perhaps said morehaving some touch of the temper of
that housewhichderiving their name and cognizance from the
lowly broom (PLANTA GENISTA)assumed as an emblem of humility
were perhaps one of the proudest families that ever ruled in
England; but her eyewhen kindling in her replysuddenly caught
those of the Nubianalthough he endeavoured to conceal himself
behind the nobles who were presentand she sunk upon a seat
turning so pale that Queen Berengaria deemed herself obliged to
call for water and essencesand to go through the other
ceremonies appropriate to a lady's swoon. Richardwho better
estimated Edith's strength of mindcalled to Blondel to assume
his seat and commence his laydeclaring that minstrelsy was
worth every other recipe to recall a Plantagenet to life. "Sing
us he said, that song of the Bloody Vestof which thou didst
formerly give me the argument ere I left Cyprus. Thou must be
perfect in it by this timeoras our yeomen saythy bow is
broken."


The anxious eye of the minstrelhoweverdwelt on Edithand it
was not till he observed her returning colour that he obeyed the
repeated commands of the King. Thenaccompanying his voice with
the harpso as to gracebut yet not drownthe sense of what he
sunghe chanted in a sort of recitative one of those ancient
adventures of love and knighthood which were wont of yore to win
the public attention. So soon as he began to preludethe
insignificance of his personal appearance seemed to disappear
and his countenance glowed with energy and inspiration. His
fullmanlymellow voiceso absolutely under command of the
purest tastethrilled on every ear and to every heart. Richard
rejoiced as after victorycalled out the appropriate summons for
silence


Listen, lords, in bower and hall;


whilewith the zeal of a patron at once and a pupilhe arranged
the circle aroundand hushed them into silence; and he himself
sat down with an air of expectation and interestnot altogether
unmixed with the gravity of the professed critic. The courtiers
turned their eyes on the Kingthat they might be ready to trace
and imitate the emotions his features should expressand Thomas
de Vaux yawned tremendouslyas one who submitted unwillingly to
a wearisome penance. The song of Blondel was of course in the
Norman languagebut the verses which follow express its meaning
and its manner.


THE BLOODY VEST.


'Twas near the fair city of Benevent
When the sun was setting on bough and bent
And knights were preparing in bower and tent
On the eve of the Baptist's tournament;
When in Lincoln green a stripling gent
Well seeming a page by a princess sent
Wander'd the campandstill as he went
Inquired for the EnglishmanThomas a Kent.


Far hath he far'dand farther must fare
Till he finds his pavilion nor stately nor rare--
Little save iron and steel was there;
Andas lacking the coin to pay armourer's care
With his sinewy arms to the shoulders bare
The good knight with hammer and file did repair
The mail that to-morrow must see him wear
For the honour of Saint John and his lady fair.


Thus speaks my lady,the page said he
And the knight bent lowly both head and knee
She is Benevent's Princess so high in degree,
And thou art as lowly as knight may well be--
He that would climb so lofty a tree,
Or spring such a gulf as divides her from thee,
Must dare some high deed, by which all men may see
His ambition is back'd by his hie chivalrie.


Therefore thus speaks my lady the fair page he said,
And the knight lowly louted with hand and with head,
Fling aside the good armour in which thou art clad
And don thou this weed of her night-gear instead
For a hauberk of steela kirtle of thread;
And chargethus attir'din the tournament dread
And fight as thy wont is where most blood is shed



And bring honour awayor remain with the dead."


Untroubled in his lookand untroubled in his breast
The knight the weed hath takenand reverently hath kiss'd.
Now blessed be the moment, the messenger be blest!
Much honour'd do I hold me in my lady's high behest;
And say unto my lady, in this dear night-weed dress'd,
To the best armed champion I will not veil my crest;
But if I live and bear me well 'tis her turn to take the test.
Heregentlesends the foremost fytte of the Lay of the Bloody
Vest.


Thou hast changed the measure upon us unawares in that last
couplet, my Blondel,said the King.


Most true, my lord,said Blondel. "I rendered the verses from
the Italian of an old harper whom I met in Cyprusand not having
had time either to translate it accurately or commit it to
memoryI am fain to supply gaps in the music and the verse as I
can upon the spur of the momentas you see boors mend a quickset
fence with a fagot."


Nay, on my faith,said the KingI like these rattling,
rolling Alexandrines. Methinks they come more twangingly off to
the music than that briefer measure.


Both are licensed, as is well known to your Grace,answered
Blondel.


They are so, Blondel,said Richardyet methinks the scene
where there is like to be fighting will go best on in these same
thundering Alexandrines, which sound like the charge of cavalry,
while the other measure is but like the sidelong amble of a
lady's palfrey.


It shall be as your Grace pleases,replied Blondeland began
again to prelude.


Nay, first cherish thy fancy with a cup of fiery Chios wine,
said the King. "And hark theeI would have thee fling away that
new-fangled restriction of thineof terminating in accurate and
similar rhymes. They are a constraint on thy flow of fancyand
make thee resemble a man dancing in fetters."


The fetters are easily flung off, at least,said Blondelagain
sweeping his fingers over the stringsas one who would rather
have played than listened to criticism.


But why put them on, man?continued the King. "Wherefore thrust
thy genius into iron bracelets? I marvel how you got forward at
all. I am sure I should not have been able to compose a stanza
in yonder hampered measure."


Blondel looked downand busied himself with the strings of his
harpto hide an involuntary smile which crept over his features;
but it escaped not Richard's observation.


By my faith, thou laughest at me, Blondel,he said; "andin
good truthevery man deserves it who presumes to play the master
when he should be the pupil. But we kings get bad habits of
self-opinion. Comeon with thy laydearest Blondel--on after
thine own fashionbetter than aught that we can suggestthough
we must needs be talking."



Blondel resumed the lay; but as extemporaneous composition was
familiar to himhe failed not to comply with the King's hints
and was perhaps not displeased to show with how much ease he
could new-model a poemeven while in the act of recitation.


THE BLOODY VEST.


FYTTE SECOND.


The Baptist's fair morrow beheld gallant feats--
There was winning of honour and losing of seats;
There was hewing with falchions and splintering of staves--
The victors won glorythe vanquish'd won graves.
Ohmany a knight there fought bravely and well
Yet one was accounted his peers to excel
And 'twas he whose sole armour on body and breast
Seem'd the weed of a damsel when bouned for her rest.


There were some dealt him wounds that were bloody and sore
But others respected his plightand forbore.
It is some oath of honour,they saidand I trow,
'Twere unknightly to slay him achieving his vow.
Then the Princefor his sakebade the tournament cease--
He flung down his warderthe trumpets sung peace;
And the judges declareand competitors yield
That the Knight of the Night-gear was first in the field.


The feast it was nighand the mass it was nigher
When before the fair Princess low looted a squire
And deliver'd a garment unseemly to view
With sword-cut and spear-thrustall hack'd and pierc'd through;
All rent and all tatter'dall clotted with blood
With foam of the horseswith dustand with mud;
Not the point of that lady's small fingerI ween
Could have rested on spot was unsullied and clean.


This token my master, Sir Thomas a Kent,
Restores to the Princess of fair Benevent;
He that climbs the tall tree has won right to the fruit,
He that leaps the wide gulf should prevail in his suit;
Through life's utmost peril the prize I have won,
And now must the faith of my mistress be shown:
For she who prompts knights on such danger to run
Must avouch his true service in front of the sun.


'I restore' says my master'the garment I've worn
And I claim of the Princess to don it in turn;
For its stains and its rents she should prize it the more
Since by shame 'tis unsulliedthough crimson'd with gore.'"
Then deep blush'd the Princess--yet kiss'd she and press'd
The blood-spotted robes to her lips and her breast.
Go tell my true knight, church and chamber shall show
If I value the blood on this garment or no.


And when it was time for the nobles to pass
In solemn procession to minster and mass
The first walk'd the Princess in purple and pall
But the blood-besmear'd night-robe she wore over all;
And ekein the hallwhere they all sat at dine
When she knelt to her father and proffer'd the wine
Over all her rich robes and state jewels she wore
That wimple unseemly bedabbled with gore.


Then lords whisper'd ladiesas well you may think



And ladies replied with nodtitterand wink;
And the Princewho in anger and shame had look'd down
Turn'd at length to his daughterand spoke with a frown:
Now since thou hast publish'd thy folly and guilt,
E'en atone with thy hand for the blood thou hast spilt;
Yet sore for your boldness you both will repent,
When you wander as exiles from fair Benevent'


Then out spoke stout Thomasin hall where he stood
Exhausted and feeblebut dauntless of mood:
The blood that I lost for this daughter of thine,
I pour'd forth as freely as flask gives its wine;
And if for my sake she brooks penance and blame,
Do not doubt I will save her from suffering and shame;
And light will she reck of thy princedom and rent,
When I hail her, in England, the Countess of Kent,


A murmur of applause ran through the assemblyfollowing
the example of Richard himselfwho loaded with praises
his favourite minstreland ended by presenting him with a
ring of considerable value. The Queen hastened to
distinguish the favourite by a rich braceletand many of the
nobles who were present followed the royal example.


Is our cousin Edith,said the Kingbecome insensible to the
sound of the harp she once loved?


She thanks Blondel for his lay,replied Edithbut doubly the
kindness of the kinsman who suggested it.


Thou art angry, cousin,said the King; "angry because thou hast
heard of a woman more wayward than thyself. But you escape me
not. I will walk a space homeward with you towards the Queen's
pavilion. We must have conference together ere the night has
waned into morning."


The Queen and her attendants were now on footand the other
guests withdrew from the royal tent. A train with blazing
torchesand an escort of archersawaited Berengaria without the
pavilionand she was soon on her way homeward. Richardas he
had proposedwalked beside his kinswomanand compelled her to
accept of his arm as her supportso that they could speak to
each other without being overheard.


What answer, then, am I to return to the noble Soldan?said
Richard. "The kings and princes are falling from meEdith; this
new quarrel hath alienated them once more. I would do something
for the Holy Sepulchre by compositionif not by victory; and the
chance of my doing this dependsalason the caprice of a woman.
I would lay my single spear in the rest against ten of the best
lances in Christendomrather than argue with a wilful wench who
knows not what is for her own good. What answercozam I to
return to the Soldan? It must be decisive."


Tell him,said Ediththat the poorest of the Plantagenets
will rather wed with misery than with misbelief.


Shall I say with slavery, Edith?said the King. "Methinks that
is nearer thy thoughts."


There is no room,said Edithfor the suspicion you so grossly
insinuate. Slavery of the body might have been pitied, but that
of the soul is only to be despised. Shame to thee, King of merry
England. Thou hast enthralled both the limbs and the spirit of a



knight, one scarce less famed than thyself.

Should I not prevent my kinswoman from drinking poison, by
sullying the vessel which contained it, if I saw no other means
of disgusting her with the fatal liquor?replied the King.

It is thyself,answered Ediththat would press me to drink
poison, because it is proffered in a golden chalice.

Edith,said RichardI cannot force thy resolution; but beware
you shut not the door which Heaven opens. The hermit of Engaddi
--he whom Popes and Councils have regarded as a prophet--hath
read in the stars that thy marriage shall reconcile me with a
powerful enemy, and that thy husband shall be Christian, leaving
thus the fairest ground to hope that the conversion of the
Soldan, and the bringing in of the sons of Ishmael to the pale of
the church, will be the consequence of thy wedding with Saladin.
Come, thou must make some sacrifice rather than mar such happy
prospects.

Men may sacrifice rams and goats,said Edithbut not honour
and conscience. I have heard that it was the dishonour of a
Christian maiden which brought the Saracens into Spain; the shame
of another is no likely mode of expelling them from Palestine.

Dost thou call it shame to become an empress?said the King.

I call it shame and dishonour to profane a Christian sacrament
by entering into it with an infidel whom it cannot bind; and I
call it foul dishonour that I, the descendant of a Christian
princess, should become of free will the head of a haram of
heathen concubines.

Well, kinswoman,said the Kingafter a pauseI must not
quarrel with thee, though I think thy dependent condition might
have dictated more compliance.

My liege,replied Edithyour Grace hath worthily succeeded to
all the wealth, dignity, and dominion of the House of
Plantagenet--do not, therefore, begrudge your poor kinswoman some
small share of their pride.

By my faith, wench,said the Kingthou hast unhorsed me with
that very word, so we will kiss and be friends. I will presently
dispatch thy answer to Saladin. But after all, coz, were it not
better to suspend your answer till you have seen him? Men say he
is pre-eminently handsome.

There is no chance of our meeting, my lord,said Edith.

By Saint George, but there is next to a certainty of it,said
the King; "for Saladin will doubtless afford us a free field for
the doing of this new battle of the Standardand will witness it
himself. Berengaria is wild to behold it also; and I dare be
sworn not a feather of youher companions and attendantswill
remain behind--least of all thou thyselffair coz. But comewe
have reached the pavilionand must part; not in unkindness thou
oh--naythou must seal it with thy lip as well as thy hand
sweet Edith--it is my right as a sovereign to kiss my pretty
vassals."

He embraced her respectfully and affectionatelyand returned
through the moonlit camphumming to himself such snatches of
Blondel's lay as he could recollect.


On his arrival he lost no time in making up his dispatches for
Saladinand delivered them to the Nubianwith a charge to set
out by peep of day on his return to the Soldan.


CHAPTER XXVII.


We heard the Tecbir--so these Arabs call
Their shout of onsetwhenwith loud acclaim
They challenge Heaven to give them victory. SIEGE OF DAMASCUS.


On the subsequent morning Richard was invited to a conference by
Philip of Francein which the latterwith many expressions of
his high esteem for his brother of Englandcommunicated to him
in terms extremely courteousbut too explicit to be
misunderstoodhis positive intention to return to Europeand to
the cares of his kingdomas entirely despairing of future
success in their undertakingwith their diminished forces and
civil discords. Richard remonstratedbut in vain; and when the
conference ended he received without surprise a manifesto from
the Duke of Austriaand several other princesannouncing a
resolution similar to that of Philipand in no modified terms
assigningfor their defection from the cause of the Crossthe
inordinate ambition and arbitrary domination of Richard of
England. All hopes of continuing the war with any prospect of
ultimate success were now abandoned; and Richardwhile he shed
bitter tears over his disappointed hopes of glorywas little
consoled by the recollection that the failure was in some degree
to be imputed to the advantages which he had given his enemies by
his own hasty and imprudent temper.


They had not dared to have deserted my father thus,he said to
De Vauxin the bitterness of his resentment. "No slanders they
could have uttered against so wise a king would have been
believed in Christendom; whereas--fool that I am!--I have not
only afforded them a pretext for deserting mebut even a colour
for casting all the blame of the rupture upon my unhappy
foibles."


These thoughts were so deeply galling to the Kingthat De Vaux
was rejoiced when the arrival of an ambassador from Saladin
turned his reflections into a different channel.


This new envoy was an Emir much respected by the Soldanwhose
name was Abdallah el Hadgi. He derived his descent from the
family of the Prophetand the race or tribe of Hashemin
witness of which genealogy he wore a green turban of large
dimensions. He had also three times performed the journey to
Meccafrom which he derived his epithet of El Hadgior the
Pilgrim. Notwithstanding these various pretensions to sanctity
Abdallah was (for an Arab) a boon companionwho enjoyed a merry
taleand laid aside his gravity so far as to quaff a blithe
flagon when secrecy ensured him against scandal. He was likewise
a statesmanwhose abilities had been used by Saladin in various
negotiations with the Christian princesand particularly with
Richardto whom El Hadgi was personally known and acceptable.
Animated by the cheerful acquiescence with which the envoy of
Saladin afforded a fair field for the combata safe conduct for
all who might choose to witness itand offered his own person as
a guarantee of his fidelityRichard soon forgot his disappointed
hopesand the approaching dissolution of the Christian league
in the interesting discussions preceding a combat in the lists.



The station called the Diamond of the Desert was assigned for the
place of conflictas being nearly at an equal distance betwixt
the Christian and Saracen camps. It was agreed that Conrade of
Montserratthe defendantwith his godfathersthe Archduke of
Austria and the Grand Master of the Templarsshould appear there
on the day fixed for the combatwith a hundred armed followers
and no more; that Richard of England and his brother Salisbury
who supported the accusationshould attend with the same number
to protect his champion; and that the Soldan should bring with
him a guard of five hundred chosen followersa band considered
as not more than equal to the two hundred Christian lances. Such
persons of consideration as either party chose to invite to
witness the contest were to wear no other weapons than their
swordsand to come without defensive armour. The Soldan
undertook the preparation of the listsand to provide
accommodations and refreshments of every kind for all who were to
assist at the solemnity; and his letters expressed with much
courtesy the pleasure which he anticipated in the prospect of a
personal and peaceful meeting with the Melech Ricand his
anxious desire to render his reception as agreeable as possible.

All preliminaries being arranged and communicated to the
defendant and his godfathersAbdullah the Hadgi was admitted to
a more private interviewwhere he heard with delight the strains
of Blondel. Having first carefully put his green turban out of
sightand assumed a Greek cap in its steadhe requited the
Norman minstrel's music with a drinking song from the Persian
and quaffed a hearty flagon of Cyprus wineto show that his
practice matched his principles. On the next daygrave and
sober as the water-drinker Mirgliphe bent his brow to the
ground before Saladin's footstooland rendered to the Soldan an
account of his embassy.

On the day before that appointed for the combat Conrade and his
friends set off by daybreak to repair to the place assignedand
Richard left the camp at the same hour and for the same purpose;
butas had been agreed uponhe took his journey by a different
route--a precaution which had been judged necessaryto prevent
the possibility of a quarrel betwixt their armed attendants.

The good King himself was in no humour for quarrelling with any
one. Nothing could have added to his pleasurable anticipations
of a desperate and bloody combat in the listsexcept his being
in his own royal person one of the combatants; and he was half in
charity again even with Conrade of Montserrat. Lightly armed
richly dressedand gay as a bridegroom on the eve of his
nuptialsRichard caracoled along by the side of Queen
Berengaria's litterpointing out to her the various scenes
through which they passedand cheering with tale and song the
bosom of the inhospitable wilderness. The former route of the
Queen's pilgrimage to Engaddi had been on the other side of the
chain of mountainsso that the ladies were strangers to the
scenery of the desert; and though Berengaria knew her husband's
disposition too well not to endeavour to seem interested in what
he was pleased either to say or to singshe could not help
indulging some female fears when she found herself in the howling
wilderness with so small an escortwhich seemed almost like a
moving speck on the bosom of the plainand knew at the same time
they were not so distant from the camp of Saladinbut what they
might be in a moment surprised and swept off by an overpowering
host of his fiery-footed cavalryshould the pagan be faithless
enough to embrace an opportunity thus tempting. But when she
hinted these suspicions to Richard he repelled them with


displeasure and disdain. "It were worse than ingratitude he
said, to doubt the good faith of the generous Soldan."

Yet the same doubts and fears recurred more than oncenot to the
timid mind of the Queen alonebut to the firmer and more candid
soul of Edith Plantagenetwho had no such confidence in the
faith of the Moslem as to render her perfectly at ease when so
much in their power; and her surprise had been far less than her
terrorif the desert around had suddenly resounded with the
shout of ALLAH HU! and a band of Arab cavalry had pounced on
them like vultures on their prey. Nor were these suspicions
lessened whenas evening approachedthey were aware of a single
Arab horsemandistinguished by his turban and long lance
hovering on the edge of a small eminence like a hawk poised in
the airand who instantlyon the appearance of the royal
retinuedarted off with the speed of the same bird when it
shoots down the wind and disappears from the horizon.

We must be near the station,said King Richard; "and yonder
cavalier is one of Saladin's outposts--methinks I hear the noise
of the Moorish horns and cymbals. Get you into ordermy hearts
and form yourselves around the ladies soldierlike and firmly."

As he spokeeach knightsquireand archer hastily closed in
upon his appointed groundand they proceeded in the most compact
orderwhich made their numbers appear still smaller. And to say
the truththough there might be no fearthere was anxiety as
well as curiosity in the attention with which they listened to
the wild bursts of Moorish musicwhich came ever and anon more
distinctly from the quarter in which the Arab horseman had been
seen to disappear.

De Vaux spoke in a whisper to the King. "Were it not wellmy
liegeto send a page to the top of that sand-bank? Or would it
stand with your pleasure that I prick forward? Methinksby all
yonder clash and clangif there be no more than five hundred men
beyond the sand-hillshalf of the Soldan's retinue must be
drummers and cymbal-tossers. Shall I spur on?"

The baron had checked his horse with the bitand was just about
to strike him with the spurs when the King exclaimedNot for
the world. Such a caution would express suspicion, and could do
little to prevent surprise, which, however, I apprehend not.

They advanced accordingly in close and firm order till they
surmounted the line of low sand-hillsand came in sight of the
appointed stationwhen a splendidbut at the same time a
startlingspectacle awaited them.

The Diamond of the Desertso lately a solitary fountain
distinguished only amid the waste by solitary groups of palm-treeswas now the centre of an encampment
the embroidered flags
and gilded ornaments of which glittered far and wideand
reflected a thousand rich tints against the setting sun. The
coverings of the large pavilions were of the gayest colours-scarlet
bright yellowpale blueand other gaudy and gleaming
hues--and the tops of their pillarsor tent-poleswere
decorated with golden pomegranates and small silken flags. But
besides these distinguished pavilionsthere were what Thomas de
Vaux considered as a portentous number of the ordinary black
tents of the Arabsbeing sufficientas he conceivedto
accommodateaccording to the Eastern fashiona host of five
thousand men. A number of Arabs and Kurdsfully corresponding
to the extent of the encampmentwere hastily assemblingeach


leading his horse in his handand their muster was accompanied
by an astonishing clamour of their noisy instruments of martial
musicby whichin all agesthe warfare of the Arabs has been
animated.

They soon formed a deep and confused mass of dismounted cavalry
in front of their encampmentwhenat the signal of a shrill
crywhich arose high over the clangour of the musiceach
cavalier sprung to his saddle. A cloud of dust arising at the
moment of this manoeuvre hid from Richard and his attendants the
campthe palm-treesand the distant ridge of mountainsas well
as the troops whose sudden movement had raised the cloudand
ascending high over their headsformed itself into the fantastic
forms of writhed pillarsdomesand minarets. Another shrill
yell was heard from the bosom of this cloudy tabernacle. It was
the signal for the cavalry to advancewhich they did at full
gallopdisposing themselves as they came forward so as to come
in at once on the frontflanksand rear of Richard's little
bodyguardwho were thus surroundedand almost choked by the
dense clouds of dust enveloping them on each sidethrough which
were seen alternatelyand lostthe grim forms and wild faces of
the Saracensbrandishing and tossing their lances in every
possible direction with the wildest cries and halloosand
frequently only reining up their horses when within a spear's
length of the Christianswhile those in the rear discharged over
the heads of both parties thick volleys of arrows. One of these
struck the litter in which the Queen was seatedwho loudly
screamedand the red spot was on Richard's brow in an instant.

Ha! Saint George,he exclaimedwe must take some order with
this infidel scum!

But Edithwhose litter was nearthrust her head outand with
her hand holding one of the shaftsexclaimedRoyal Richard,
beware what you do! see, these arrows are headless!

Noble, sensible wench!exclaimed Richard; "by Heaventhou
shamest us all by thy readiness of thought and eye.--Be not
movedmy English hearts he exclaimed to his followers; their
arrows have no heads--and their spearstoolack the steel
points. It is but a wild welcomeafter their savage fashion
though doubtless they would rejoice to see us daunted or
disturbed. Move onwardslow and steady."

The little phalanx moved forward accordinglyaccompanied on all
sides by the Arabswith the shrillest and most piercing cries
the bowmenmeanwhiledisplaying their agility by shooting as
near the crests of the Christians as was possiblewithout
actually hitting themwhile the lancers charged each other with
such rude blows of their blunt weapons that more than one of them
lost his saddleand well-nigh his lifein this rough sport.
All thisthough designed to express welcomehad rather a
doubtful appearance in the eyes of the Europeans.

As they had advanced nearly half way towards the campKing
Richard and his suite formingas it werethe nucleus round
which this tumultuary body of horsemen howledwhooped
skirmishedand gallopedcreating a scene of indescribable
confusionanother shrill cry was heardon which all these
irregularswho were on the front and upon the flanks of the
little body of Europeanswheeled off; and forming themselves
into a long and deep columnfollowed with comparative order and
silence in the rear of Richard's troops. The dust began now to
dissipate in their frontwhen there advanced to meet them


through that cloudy veil a body of cavalry of a different and
more regular descriptioncompletely armed with offensive and
defensive weaponsand who might well have served as a bodyguard
to the proudest of Eastern monarchs. This splendid troop
consisted of five hundred men and each horse which it contained
was worth an earl's ransom. The riders were Georgian and
Circassian slaves in the very prime of life. Their helmets and
hauberks were formed of steel ringsso bright that they shone
like silver; their vestures were of the gayest coloursand some
of cloth of gold or silver; the sashes were twisted with silk and
goldtheir rich turbans were plumed and jewelledand their
sabres and poniardsof Damascene steelwere adorned with gold
and gems on hilt and scabbard.

This splendid array advanced to the sound of military musicand
when they met the Christian body they opened their files to the
right and leftand let them enter between their ranks. Richard
now assumed the foremost place in his troopaware that Saladin
himself was approaching. Nor was it long whenin the centre of
his bodyguardsurrounded by his domestic officers and those
hideous negroes who guard the Eastern haramand whose misshapen
forms were rendered yet more frightful by the richness of their
attirecame the Soldanwith the look and manners of one on
whose brow Nature had writtenThis is a King! In his snow-white
turbanvestand wide Eastern trouserswearing a sash of
scarlet silkwithout any other ornamentSaladin might have
seemed the plainest-dressed man in his own guard. But closer
inspection discerned in his turban that inestimable gem which was
called by the poets the Sea of Light; the diamond on which his
signet was engravedand which he wore in a ringwas probably
worth all the jewels of the English crown; and a sapphire which
terminated the hilt of his cangiar was not of much inferior
value. It should be added thatto protect himself from the
dustwhich in the vicinity of the Dead Sea resembles the finest
ashesorperhapsout of Oriental pridethe Soldan wore a sort
of veil attached to his turbanwhich partly obscured the view of
his noble features. He rode a milk-white Arabianwhich bore him
as if conscious and proud of his noble burden.

There was no need of further introduction. The two heroic
monarchs--for such they both were--threw themselves at once from
horsebackand the troops halting and the music suddenly ceasing
they advanced to meet each other in profound silenceand after a
courteous inclination on either side they embraced as brethren
and equals. The pomp and display upon both sides attracted no
further notice--no one saw aught save Richard and Saladinand
they too beheld nothing but each other. The looks with which
Richard surveyed Saladin werehowevermore intently curious
than those which the Soldan fixed upon him; and the Soldan also
was the first to break silence.

The Melech Ric is welcome to Saladin as water to this desert. I
trust he hath no distrust of this numerous array. Excepting the
armed slaves of my household, those who surround you with eyes of
wonder and of welcome are--even the humblest of them--the
privileged nobles of my thousand tribes; for who that could claim
a title to be present would remain at home when such a Prince was
to be seen as Richard, with the terrors of whose name, even on
the sands of Yemen, the nurse stills her child, and the free Arab
subdues his restive steed!

And these are all nobles of Araby?said Richardlooking
around on wild forms with their persons covered with haikstheir


countenance swart with the sunbeamstheir teeth as white as
ivorytheir black eyes glancing with fierce and preternatural
lustre from under the shade of their turbansand their dress
being in general simple even to meanness.

They claim such rank,said Saladin; "but though numerousthey
are within the conditions of the treatyand bear no arms but the
sabre--even the iron of their lances is left behind."

I fear,muttered De Vaux in Englishthey have left them where
they can be soon found. A most flourishing House of Peers, I
confess, and would find Westminster Hall something too narrow for
them.

Hush, De Vaux,said RichardI command thee.--Noble Saladin,
he saidsuspicion and thou cannot exist on the same ground.
Seest thou,pointing to the littersI too have brought some
champions with me, though armed, perhaps, in breach of agreement;
for bright eyes and fair features are weapons which cannot be
left behind.

The Soldanturning to the littersmade an obeisance as lowly as
if looking towards Meccaand kissed the sand in token of
respect.

Nay,said Richardthey will not fear a closer encounter,
brother; wilt thou not ride towards their litters, and the
curtains will be presently withdrawn?

That may Allah
prohibit!said Saladinsince not an Arab looks on who would
not think it shame to the noble ladies to be seen with their
faces uncovered.

Thou shalt see them, then, in private, brother,answered
Richard.

To what purpose?answered Saladin mournfully. "Thy last
letter wasto the hopes which I had entertainedlike water to
fire; and wherefore should I again light a flame which may indeed
consumebut cannot cheer me? But will not my brother pass to
the tent which his servant hath prepared for him? My principal
black slave hath taken order for the reception of the Princesses
the officers of my household will attend your followersand
ourself will be the chamberlain of the royal Richard."

He led the way accordingly to a splendid pavilionwhere was
everything that royal luxury could devise. De Vauxwho was in
attendancethen removed the chappe (CAPA)or long riding-cloak
which Richard woreand he stood before Saladin in the close
dress which showed to advantage the strength and symmetry of his
personwhile it bore a strong contrast to the flowing robes
which disguised the thin frame. of the Eastern monarch. It was
Richard's two-handed sword that chiefly attracted the attention
of the Saracen--a broadstraight bladethe seemingly unwieldy
length of which extended well-nigh from the shoulder to the heel
of the wearer.

Had I not,said Saladinseen this brand flaming in the front
of battle, like that of Azrael, I had scarce believed that human
arm could wield it. Might I request to see the Melech Ric strike
one blow with it in peace, and in pure trial of strength?

Willingly, noble Saladin,answered Richard; and looking around


for something whereon to exercise his strengthhe saw a steel
mace held by one of the attendantsthe handle being of the same
metaland about an inch and a half in diameter. This he placed
on a block of wood.

The anxiety of De Vaux for his master's honour led him to whisper
in EnglishFor the blessed Virgin's sake, beware what you
attempt, my liege! Your full strength is not as yet returned
--give no triumph to the infidel.

Peace, fool!said Richardstanding firm on his groundand
casting a fierce glance around; "thinkest thou that I can fail in
HIS presence?"

The glittering broadswordwielded by both his handsrose aloft
to the King's left shouldercircled round his headdescended
with the sway of some terrific engineand the bar of iron rolled
on the ground in two piecesas a woodsman would sever a sapling
with a hedging-bill.

By the head of the Prophet, a most wonderful blow!said the
Soldancritically and accurately examining the iron bar which
had been cut asunder; and the blade of the sword was so well
tempered as to exhibit not the least token of having suffered by
the feat it had performed. He then took the King's handand
looking on the size and muscular strength which it exhibited
laughed as he placed it beside his ownso lank and thinso
inferior in brawn and sinew.

Ay, look well,said De Vaux in Englishit will be long ere
your long jackanape's fingers do such a feat with your fine
gilded reaping-hook there.

Silence, De Vaux,said Richard; "by Our Ladyhe understands or
guesses thy meaning--be not so broadI pray thee."

The Soldanindeedpresently saidSomething I would fain
attempt--though wherefore should the weak show their inferiority
in presence of the strong? Yet each land hath its own exercises,
and this may be new to the Melech Ric.So sayinghe took from
the floor a cushion of silk and downand placed it upright on
one end. "Can thy weaponmy brothersever that cushion?" he
said to King Richard.

No, surely,replied the King; "no sword on earthwere it the
Excalibur of King Arthurcan cut that which opposes no steady
resistance to the blow."

Mark, then,said Saladin; and tucking up the sleeve of his
gownshowed his armthin indeed and sparebut which constant
exercise had hardened into a mass consisting of nought but bone
brawnand sinew. He unsheathed his scimitara curved and
narrow bladewhich glittered not like the swords of the Franks
but wason the contraryof a dull blue colourmarked with ten
millions of meandering lineswhich showed how anxiously the
metal had been welded by the armourer. Wielding this weapon
apparently so inefficient when compared to that of Richardthe
Soldan stood resting his weight upon his left footwhich was
slightly advanced; he balanced himself a littleas if to steady
his aim; then stepping at once forwarddrew the scimitar across
the cushionapplying the edge so dexterouslyand with so little
apparent effortthat the cushion seemed rather to fall asunder
than to be divided by violence.


It is a juggler's trick,said De Vauxdarting forward and
snatching up the portion of the cushion which had been cut off
as if to assure himself of the reality of the feat; "there is
gramarye in this."

The Soldan seemed to comprehend himfor he undid the sort of
veil which he had hitherto wornlaid it double along the edge of
his sabreextended the weapon edgeways in the airand drawing
it suddenly through the veilalthough it hung on the blade
entirely loosesevered that also into two partswhich floated
to different sides of the tentequally displaying the extreme
temper and sharpness of the weaponand the exquisite dexterity
of him who used it.

Now, in good faith, my brother,said Richardthou art even
matchless at the trick of the sword, and right perilous were it
to meet thee! Still, however, I put some faith in a downright
English blow, and what we cannot do by sleight we eke out by
strength. Nevertheless, in truth thou art as expert in
inflicting wounds as my sage Hakim in curing them. I trust I
shall see the learned leech. I have much to thank him for, and
had brought some small present.

As he spokeSaladin exchanged his turban for a Tartar cap. He
had no sooner done sothan De Vaux opened at once his extended
mouth and his largeround eyesand Richard gazed with scarce
less astonishmentwhile the Soldan spoke in a grave and altered
voice: "The sick mansaith the poetwhile he is yet infirm
knoweth the physician by his step; but when he is recoveredhe
knoweth not even his face when he looks upon him."

A miracle!--a miracle!exclaimed Richard.

Of Mahound's working, doubtless,said Thomas de Vaux.

That I should lose my learned Hakim,said Richardmerely by
absence of his cap and robe, and that I should find him again in
my royal brother Saladin!

Such is oft the fashion of the world,answered the Soldan; "the
tattered robe makes not always the dervise."

And it was through thy intercession,said Richardthat yonder
Knight of the Leopard was saved from death, and by thy artifice
that he revisited my camp in disguise?

Even so,replied Saladin. "I was physician enough to know
thatunless the wounds of his bleeding honour were stanchedthe
days of his life must be few. His disguise was more easily
penetrated than I had expected from the success of my own."

An accident,said King Richard (probably alluding to the
circumstance of his applying his lips to the wound of the
supposed Nubian)let me first know that his skin was
artificially discoloured; and that hint once taken, detection
became easy, for his form and person are not to be forgotten. I
confidently expect that he will do battle on the morrow.

He is full in preparation, and high in hope,said the Soldan.
I have furnished him with weapons and horse, thinking nobly of
him from what I have seen under various disguises.

Knows he now,said Richardto whom he lies under obligation?


He doth,replied the Saracen. "I was obliged to confess my
person when I unfolded my purpose."

And confessed he aught to you?said the King of England.

Nothing explicit,replied the Soldan; "but from much that
passed between usI conceive his love is too highly placed to be
happy in its issue."

And thou knowest that his daring and insolent passion crossed
thine own wishes?said Richard.

I might guess so much,said Saladin; "but his passion had
existed ere my wishes had been formed--andI must now addis
likely to survive them. I cannotin honourrevenge me for my
disappointment on him who had no hand in it. Orif this high-born dame loved him better than myself
who can say that she did
not justice to a knight of her own religionwho is full of
nobleness?"

Yet of too mean lineage to mix with the blood of Plantagenet,
said Richard haughtily.

Such may be your maxims in Frangistan,replied the Soldan.
Our poets of the Eastern countries say that a valiant camel-driver is worthy to kiss the lip of a fair Queen,
when a cowardly
prince is not worthy to salute the hem of her garment. But with
your permission, noble brother, I must take leave of thee for the
present, to receive the Duke of Austria and yonder Nazarene
knight, much less worthy of hospitality, but who must yet be
suitably entreated, not for their sakes, but for mine own honour
--for what saith the sage Lokman? 'Say not that the food is lost
unto thee which is given to the stranger; for if his body be
strengthened and fattened therewithal, not less is thine own
worship and good name cherished and augmented.'

The Saracen Monarch departed from King Richard's tentand having
indicated to himrather with signs than with speechwhere the
pavilion of the Queen and her attendants was pitchedhe went to
receive the Marquis of Montserrat and his attendantsfor whom
with less goodwillbut with equal splendourthe magnificent
Soldan had provided accommodations. The most ample refreshments
both in the Oriental and after the European fashionwere spread
before the royal and princely guests of Saladineach in their
own separate pavilion; and so attentive was the Soldan to the
habits and taste of his visitorsthat Grecian slaves were
stationed to present them with the gobletwhich is the
abomination of the sect of Mohammed. Ere Richard had finished
his mealthe ancient Omrahwho had brought the Soldan's letter
to the Christian campentered with a plan of the ceremonial to
be observed on the succeeding day of combat. Richardwho knew
the taste of his old acquaintanceinvited him to pledge him in a
flagon of wine of Shiraz; but Abdallah gave him to understand
with a rueful aspectthat self-denial in the present
circumstances was a matter in which his life was concernedfor
that Saladintolerant in many respectsboth observed and
enforced by high penalties the laws of the Prophet.

Nay, then,said Richardif he loves not wine, that lightener
of the human heart, his conversion is not to be hoped for, and
the prediction of the mad priest of Engaddi goes like chaff down
the wind.

The King then addressed himself to settle the articles of combat


which cost a considerable timeas it was necessary on some
points to consult with the opposite partiesas well as with the
Soldan.

They were at length finally agreed uponand adjusted by a
protocol in French and in Arabianwhich was subscribed by
Saladin as umpire of the fieldand by Richard and Leopold as
guarantees for the two combatants. As the Omrah took his final
leave of King Richard for the eveningDe Vaux entered.

The good knight,he saidwho is to do battle tomorrow
requests to know whether he may not to-night pay duty to his
royal godfather!

Hast thou seen him, De Vaux?said the Kingsmiling; "and
didst thou know an ancient acquaintance?"

By our Lady of Lanercost,answered De Vauxthere are so many
surprises and changes in this land that my poor brain turns. I
scarce knew Sir Kenneth of Scotland, till his good hound, that
had been for a short while under my care, came and fawned on me;
and even then I only knew the tyke by the depth of his chest, the
roundness of his foot, and his manner of baying, for the poor
gazehound was painted like any Venetian courtesan.

Thou art better skilled in brutes than men, De Vaux,said the
King.

I will not deny,said De VauxI have found them ofttimes the
honester animals. Also, your Grace is pleased to term me
sometimes a brute myself; besides that, I serve the Lion, whom
all men acknowledge the king of brutes.

By Saint George, there thou brokest thy lance fairly on my
brow,said the King. "I have ever said thou hast a sort of wit
De Vaux; marryone must strike thee with a sledge-hammer ere it
can be made to sparkle. But to the present gear--is the good
knight well armed and equipped?"

Fully, my liege, and nobly,answered De Vaux. "I know the
armour well; it is that which the Venetian commissary offered
your highnessjust ere you became illfor five hundred
byzants."

And he hath sold it to the infidel Soldan, I warrant me, for a
few ducats more, and present payment. These Venetians would sell
the Sepulchre itself!

The armour will never be borne in a nobler cause,said De Vaux.

Thanks to the nobleness of the Saracen,said the Kingnot to
the avarice of the Venetians.

I would to God your Grace would be more cautious,said the
anxious De Vaux. "Here are we deserted by all our alliesfor
points of offence given to one or another; we cannot hope to
prosper upon the land; and we have only to quarrel with the
amphibious republicto lose the means of retreat by sea!"

I will take care,said Richard impatiently; "but school me no
more. Tell me ratherfor it is of interesthath the knight a
confessor?"

He hath,answered De Vaux; "the hermit of Engaddi. who erst did


him that office when preparing for deathattends him on the
present occasionthe fame of the duel having brought him
hither."

'Tis well,said Richard; "and now for the knight's request.
Say to himRichard will receive him when the discharge of his
devoir beside the Diamond of the Desert shall have atoned for his
fault beside the Mount of Saint George; and as thou passest
through the camplet the Queen know I will visit her pavilion-and
tell Blondel to meet me there."

De Vaux departedand in about an hour afterwardsRichard
wrapping his mantle around himand taking his ghittern in his
handwalked in the direction of the Queen's pavilion. Several
Arabs passed himbut always with averted heads and looks fixed
upon the earththough he could observe that all gazed earnestly
after him when he was past. This led him justly to conjecture
that his person was known to them; but that either the Soldan's
commandsor their own Oriental politenessforbade them to seem
to notice a sovereign who desired to remain incognito.

When the King reached the pavilion of his Queen he found it
guarded by those unhappy officials whom Eastern jealousy places
around the zenana. Blondel was walking before the doorand
touched his rote from time to time in a manner which made the
Africans show their ivory teethand bear burden with their
strange gestures and shrillunnatural voices.

What art thou after with this herd of black cattle, Blondel?
said the King; "wherefore goest thou not into the tent?"

Because my trade can neither spare the head nor the fingers,
said Blondeland these honest blackamoors threatened to cut me
joint from joint if I pressed forward.

Well, enter with me,said the Kingand I will be thy
safeguard.

The blacks accordingly lowered pikes and swords to King Richard
and bent their eyes on the groundas if unworthy to look upon
him. In the interior of the pavilion they found Thomas de Vaux
in attendance on the Queen. While Berengaria welcomed Blondel
King Richard spoke for some time secretly and apart with his fair
kinswoman.

At lengthAre we still foes, my fair Edith?he saidin a
whisper.

No, my liege,said Edithin a voice just so low as not to
interrupt the music; "none can bear enmity against King Richard
when he deigns to show himselfas he really isgenerous and
nobleas well as valiant and honourable."

So sayingshe extended her hand to him. The King kissed it in
token of reconciliationand then proceeded.

You think, my sweet cousin, that my anger in this matter was
feigned; but you are deceived. The punishment I inflicted upon
this knight was just; for he had betrayed--no matter for how
tempting a bribe, fair cousin--the trust committed to him. But I
rejoice, perchance as much as you, that to-morrow gives him a
chance to win the field, and throw back the stain which for a
time clung to him upon the actual thief and traitor. No!--future
times may blame Richard for impetuous folly, but they shall say


that in rendering judgment he was just when he should and
merciful when he could.

Laud not thyself, cousin King,said Edith. "They may call thy
justice crueltythy mercy caprice."

And do not thou pride thyself,said the Kingas if thy
knight, who hath not yet buckled on his armour, were unbelting it
in triumph--Conrade of Montserrat is held a good lance. What if
the Scot should lose the day?

It is impossible!said Edith firmly. "My own eyes saw yonder
Conrade tremble and change colour like a base thief; he is
guiltyand the trial by combat is an appeal to the justice of
God. I myselfin such a causewould encounter him without
fear."

By the mass, I think thou wouldst, wench,said the Kingand
beat him to boot, for there never breathed a truer Plantagenet
than thou.

He pausedand added in a very serious toneSee that thou
continue to remember what is due to thy birth.

What means that advice, so seriously given at this moment?
said Edith. "Am I of such light nature as to forget my name--my
condition?"

I will speak plainly, Edith,answered the Kingand as to a
friend. What will this knight be to you, should he come off
victor from yonder lists?

To me?said Edithblushing deep with shame and displeasure.
What can he be to me more than an honoured knight, worthy of
such grace as Queen Berengaria might confer on him, had he
selected her for his lady, instead of a more unworthy choice?
The meanest knight may devote himself to the service of an
empress, but the glory of his choice,she said proudlymust be
his reward.

Yet he hath served and suffered much for you,said the King.

I have paid his services with honour and applause, and his
sufferings with tears,answered Edith. "Had he desired other
rewardhe would have done wisely to have bestowed his affections
within his own degree."

You would not, then, wear the bloody night-gear for his sake?
said King Richard.

No more,answered Ediththan I would have required him to
expose his life by an action in which there was more madness than
honour.

Maidens talk ever thus,said the King; "but when the favoured
lover presses his suitshe sayswith a sighher stars had
decreed otherwise."

Your Grace has now, for the second time, threatened me with the
influence of my horoscope,Edith repliedwith dignity. "Trust
memy liegewhatever be the power of the starsyour poor
kinswoman will never wed either infidel or obscure adventurer.
Permit me that I listen to the music of Blondelfor the tone of
your royal admonitions is scarce so grateful to the ear."


The conclusion of the evening offered nothing worthy of notice.

CHAPTER XXVIII.

Heard ye the din of battle bray
Lance to lanceand horse to horse? GRAY.


It had been agreedon account of the heat of the climatethat
the judicial combat which was the cause of the present assemblage
of various nations at the Diamond of the Desert should take place
at one hour after sunrise. The wide listswhich had been
constructed under the inspection of the Knight of the Leopard
enclosed a space of hard sandwhich was one hundred and twenty
yards long by forty in width. They extended in length from north
to southso as to give both parties the equal advantage of the
rising sun. Saladin's royal seat was erected on the western side
of the enclosurejust in the centrewhere the combatants were
expected to meet in mid encounter. Opposed to this was a gallery
with closed casementsso contrived that the ladiesfor whose
accommodation it was erectedmight see the fight without being
themselves exposed to view. At either extremity of the lists was
a barrierwhich could be opened or shut at pleasure. Thrones
had been also erectedbut the Archdukeperceiving that his was
lower than King Richard'srefused to occupy it; and Coeur de
Lionwho would have submitted to much ere any formality should
have interfered with the combatreadily agreed that the
sponsorsas they were calledshould remain on horseback during
the fight. At one extremity of the lists were placed the
followers of Richardand opposed to them were those who
accompanied the defender Conrade. Around the throne destined for
the Soldan were ranged his splendid Georgian Guardsand the rest
of the enclosure was occupied by Christian and Mohammedan
spectators.


Long before daybreak the lists were surrounded by even a larger
number of Saracens than Richard had seen on the preceding
evening. When the first ray of the sun's glorious orb arose
above the desertthe sonorous callTo prayer--to prayer!was
poured forth by the Soldan himselfand answered by otherswhose
rank and zeal entitled them to act as muezzins. It was a
striking spectacle to see them all sink to earthfor the purpose
of repeating their devotionswith their faces turned to Mecca.
But when they arose from the groundthe sun's raysnow
strengthening fastseemed to confirm the Lord of Gilsland's
conjecture of the night before. They were flashed back from many
a spearheadfor the pointless lances of the preceding day were
certainly no longer such. De Vaux pointed it out to his master
who answered with impatience that he had perfect confidence in
the good faith of the Soldan; but if De Vaux was afraid of his
bulky bodyhe might retire.


Soon after this the noise of timbrels was heardat the sound of
which the whole Saracen cavaliers threw themselves from their
horsesand prostrated themselvesas if for a second morning
prayer. This was to give an opportunity to the Queenwith Edith
and her attendantsto pass from the pavilion to the gallery
intended for them. Fifty guards of Saladin's seraglio escorted
them with naked sabreswhose orders were to cut to pieces
whomsoeverwere he prince or peasantshould venture to gaze on
the ladies as they passedor even presume to raise his head
until the cessation of the music should make all men aware that



they were lodged in their gallerynot to be gazed on by the
curious eye.

This superstitious observance of Oriental reverence to the fair
sex called forth from Queen Berengaria some criticisms very
unfavourable to Saladin and his country. But their denas the
royal fair called itbeing securely closed and guarded by their
sable attendantsshe was under the necessity of contenting
herself with seeingand laying aside for the present the still
more exquisite pleasure of being seen.

Meantime the sponsors of both champions wentas was their duty
to see that they were duly armed and prepared for combat. The
Archduke of Austria was in no hurry to perform this part of the
ceremonyhaving had rather an unusually severe debauch upon wine
of Shiraz the preceding evening. But the Grand Master of the
Templemore deeply concerned in the event of the combatwas
early before the tent of Conrade of Montserrat. To his great
surprisethe attendants refused him admittance.

Do you not know me, ye knaves?said the Grand Masterin great
anger.

We do, most valiant and reverend,answered Conrade's squire;
but even you may not at present enter--the Marquis is about to
confess himself.

Confess himself!exclaimed the Templarin a tone where alarm
mingled with surprise and scorn--"and to whomI pray thee?"

My master bid me be secret,said the squire; on which the Grand
Master pushed past himand entered the tent almost by force.

The Marquis of Montserrat was kneeling at the feet of the hermit
of Engaddiand in the act of beginning his confession.

What means this, Marquis?said the Grand Master; "upfor
shame--orif you must needs confessam not I here?"

I have confessed to you too often already,replied Conrade
with a pale cheek and a faltering voice. "For God's sakeGrand
Masterbegoneand let me unfold my conscience to this holy
man."

In what is he holier than I am?said the Grand Master.
--"Hermitprophetmadman--sayif thou darestin what thou
excellest me?"

Bold and bad man,replied the hermitknow that I am like the
latticed window, and the divine light passes through to avail
others, though, alas! it helpeth not me. Thou art like the iron
stanchions, which neither receive light themselves, nor
communicate it to any one.

Prate not to me, but depart from this tent,said the Grand
Master; "the Marquis shall not confess this morningunless it be
to mefor I part not from his side."

Is this YOUR pleasure?said the hermit to Conrade; "for think
not I will obey that proud manif you continue to desire my
assistance."

Alas,said Conrade irresolutelywhat would you have me say?
Farewell for a while---we will speak anon.


O procrastination!exclaimed the hermitthou art a soul-murderer!--Unhappy man, farewell--not for a
while, but until we
shall both meet no matter where. And for thee,he added
turning to the Grand MasterTREMBLE!


Tremble!replied the Templar contemptuouslyI cannot if I
would.


The hermit heard not his answerhaving left the tent.


Come! to this gear hastily,said the Grand Mastersince thou
wilt needs go through the foolery. Hark thee--I think I know
most of thy frailties by heart, so we may omit the detail, which
may be somewhat a long one, and begin with the absolution. What
signifies counting the spots of dirt that we are about to wash
from our hands?


Knowing what thou art thyself,said Conradeit is blasphemous
to speak of pardoning another.


That is not according to the canon, Lord Marquis,said the
Templar; "thou art more scrupulous than orthodox. The absolution
of the wicked priest is as effectual as if he were himself a
saint--otherwiseGod help the poor penitent! What wounded man
inquires whether the surgeon that tends his gashes has clean
hands or no? Comeshall we to this toy?"


No,said ConradeI will rather die unconfessed than mock the
sacrament.


Come, noble Marquis,said the Templarrouse up your courage,
and speak not thus. In an hour's time thou shalt stand
victorious in the lists, or confess thee in thy helmet, like a
valiant knight.


Alas, Grand Master,answered Conradeall augurs ill for this
affair, the strange discovery by the instinct of a dog--the
revival of this Scottish knight, who comes into the lists like a
spectre--all betokens evil.


Pshaw,said the TemplarI have seen thee bend thy lance
boldly against him in sport, and with equal chance of success.
Think thou art but in a tournament, and who bears him better in
the tilt-yard than thou?--Come, squires and armourers, your
master must be accoutred for the field.


The attendants entered accordinglyand began to arm the Marquis.


What morning is without?said Conrade.


The sun rises dimly,answered a squire.


Thou seest, Grand Master,said Conradenought smiles on us.


Thou wilt fight the more coolly, my son,answered the Templar;
thank Heaven, that hath tempered the sun of Palestine to suit
thine occasion.


Thus jested the Grand Master. But his jests had lost their
influence on the harassed mind of the Marquisand
notwithstanding his attempts to seem gayhis gloom communicated
itself to the Templar.



This craven,he thoughtwill lose the day in pure faintness
and cowardice of heart, which he calls tender conscience. I,
whom visions and auguries shake not---who am firm in my purpose
as the living rock--I should have fought the combat myself.
Would to God the Scot may strike him dead on the spot; it were
next best to his winning the victory. But come what will, he
must have no other confessor than myself--our sins are too much
in common, and he might confess my share with his own.

While these thoughts passed through his mindhe continued to
assist the Marquis in armingbut it was in silence.

The hour at length arrived; the trumpets sounded; the knights
rode into the lists armed at all pointsand mounted like men who
were to do battle for a kingdom's honour. They wore their visors
upand riding around the lists three timesshowed themselves to
the spectators. Both were goodly personsand both had noble
countenances. But there was an air of manly confidence on the
brow of the Scot--a radiancy of hopewhich amounted even to
cheerfulness; whilealthough pride and effort had recalled much
of Conrade's natural couragethere lowered still on his brow a
cloud of ominous despondence. Even his steed seemed to tread
less lightly and blithely to the trumpet-sound than the noble
Arab which was bestrode by Sir Kenneth; and the SPRUCH-SPRECHER
shook his head while he observed thatwhile the challenger rode
around the lists in the course of the sun--that isfrom right to
left--the defender made the same circuit WIDDERSINS--that is
from left to right--which is in most countries held ominous.

A temporary altar was erected just beneath the gallery occupied
by the Queenand beside it stood the hermit in the dress of his
order as a Carmelite friar. Other churchmen were also present.
To this altar the challenger and defender were successively
brought forwardconducted by their respective sponsors.
Dismounting before iteach knight avouched the justice of his
cause by a solemn oath on the Evangelistsand prayed that his
success might be according to the truth or falsehood of what he
then swore. They also made oath that they came to do battle in
knightly guiseand with the usual weaponsdisclaiming the use
of spellscharmsor magical devices to incline victory to their
side. The challenger pronounced his vow with a firm and manly
voiceand a bold and cheerful countenance. When the ceremony
was finishedthe Scottish Knight looked at the galleryand bent
his head to the earthas if in honour of those invisible
beauties which were enclosed within; thenloaded with armour as
he wassprung to the saddle without the use of the stirrupand
made his courser carry him in a succession of caracoles to his
station at the eastern extremity of the lists. Conrade also
presented himself before the altar with boldness enough; but his
voice as he took the oath sounded hollowas if drowned in his
helmet. The lips with which he appealed to Heaven to adjudge
victory to the just quarrel grew white as they uttered the
impious mockery. As he turned to remount his horsethe Grand
Master approached him closeras if to rectify something about
the sitting of his gorgetand whisperedCoward and fool!
recall thy senses, and do me this battle bravely, else, by
Heaven, shouldst thou escape him, thou escapest not ME!

The savage tone in which this was whispered perhaps completed the
confusion of the Marquis's nervesfor he stumbled as he made to
horse; and though he recovered his feetsprung to the saddle
with his usual agilityand displayed his address in horsemanship
as he assumed his position opposite to the challenger'syet the
accident did not escape those who were on the watch for omens


which might predict the fate of the day.

The priestsafter a solemn prayer that God would show the
rightful quarreldeparted from the lists. The trumpets of the
challenger then rung a flourishand a herald-at-arms proclaimed
at the eastern end of the lists--"Here stands a good knightSir
Kenneth of Scotlandchampion for the royal King Richard of
Englandwho accuseth ConradeMarquis of Montserratof foul
treason and dishonour done to the said King."

When the words Kenneth of Scotland announced the name and
character of the championhitherto scarce generally knowna
loud and cheerful acclaim burst from the followers of King
Richardand hardlynotwithstanding repeated commands of
silencesuffered the reply of the defendant to be heard. Heof
courseavouched his innocenceand offered his body for battle.
The esquires of the combatants now approachedand delivered to
each his shield and lanceassisting to hang the former around
his neckthat his two hands might remain freeone for the
management of the bridlethe other to direct the lance.

The shield of the Scot displayed his old bearingthe leopard
but with the addition of a collar and broken chainin allusion
to his late captivity. The shield of the Marquis borein
reference to his titlea serrated and rocky mountain. Each shook
his lance aloftas if to ascertain the weight and toughness of
the unwieldy weaponand then laid it in the rest. The sponsors
heraldsand squires now retired to the barriersand the
combatants sat opposite to each otherface to facewith couched
lance and closed visorthe human form so completely enclosed
that they looked more like statues of molten iron than beings of
flesh and blood. The silence of suspense was now general. Men
breathed thickerand their very souls seemed seated in their
eyes; while not a sound was to be heard save the snorting and
pawing of the good steedswhosensible of what was about to
happenwere impatient to dash into career. They stood thus for
perhaps three minuteswhenat a signal given by the Soldana
hundred instruments rent the air with their brazen clamoursand
each champion striking his horse with the spursand slacking the
reinthe horses started into full gallopand the knights met in
mid space with a shock like a thunderbolt. The victory was not
in doubt--nonot one moment. Conradeindeedshowed himself a
practised warrior; for he struck his antagonist knightly in the
midst of his shieldbearing his lance so straight and true that
it shivered into splinters from the steel spear-head up to the
very gauntlet. The horse of Sir Kenneth recoiled two or three
yards and fell on his haunches; but the rider easily raised him
with hand and rein. But for Conrade there was no recovery. Sir
Kenneth's lance had pierced through the shieldthrough a plated
corselet of Milan steelthrough a SECRETor coat of linked
mailworn beneath the corselethad wounded him deep in the
bosomand borne him from his saddleleaving the truncheon of
the lance fixed in his wound. The sponsorsheraldsand Saladin
himselfdescending from his thronecrowded around the wounded
man; while Sir Kennethwho had drawn his sword ere yet he
discovered his antagonist was totally helplessnow commanded him
to avow his guilt. The helmet was hastily unclosedand the
wounded mangazing wildly on the skiesrepliedWhat would you
more? God hath decided justly--I am guilty; but there are worse
traitors in the camp than I. In pity to my soul, let me have a
confessor!

He revived as he uttered these words.


The talisman--the powerful remedy, royal brother!said King
Richard to Saladin.

The traitor,answered the Soldanis more fit to be dragged
from the lists to the gallows by the heels, than to profit by its
virtues. And some such fate is in his look,he addedafter
gazing fixedly upon the wounded man; "for though his wound may be
curedyet Azrael's seal is on the wretch's brow."

Nevertheless,said RichardI pray you do for him what you
may, that he may at least have time for confession. Slay not
soul and body! To him one half hour of time may be worth more,
by ten thousandfold, than the life of the oldest patriarch.

My royal brother's wish shall be obeyed,said Saladin.-"
Slavesbear this wounded man to our tent."

Do not so,said the Templarwho had hitherto stood gloomily
looking on in silence. "The royal Duke of Austria and myself
will not permit this unhappy Christian prince to be delivered
over to the Saracensthat they may try their spells upon him.
We are his sponsorsand demand that he be assigned to our care."

That is, you refuse the certain means offered to recover him?
said Richard.

Not so,said the Grand Masterrecollecting himself. "If the
Soldan useth lawful medicineshe may attend the patient in my
tent."

Do so, I pray thee, good brother,said Richard to Saladin
though the permission be ungraciously yielded.--But now to a
more glorious work. Sound, trumpets--shout, England--in honour
of England's champion!

Drumclariontrumpetand cymbal rung forth at onceand the
deep and regular shoutwhich for ages has been the English
acclamationsounded amidst the shrill and irregular yells of the
Arabslike the diapason of the organ amid the howling of a
storm. There was silence at length.

Brave Knight of the Leopard,resumed Coeur de Lionthou hast
shown that the Ethiopian may change his skin, and the leopard his
spots, though clerks quote Scripture for the impossibility. Yet
I have more to say to you when I have conducted you to the
presence of the ladies, the best judges and best rewarders of
deeds of chivalry.

The Knight of the Leopard bowed assent.

And thou, princely Saladin, wilt also attend them. I promise
thee our Queen will not think herself welcome, if she lacks the
opportunity to thank her royal host for her most princely
reception.

Saladin bent his head gracefullybut declined the invitation.

I must attend the wounded man,he said. "The leech leaves not
his patient more than the champion the listseven if he be
summoned to a bower like those of Paradise. And furtherroyal
Richardknow that the blood of the East flows not so temperately
in the presence of beauty as that of your land. What saith the
Book itself?--Her eye is as the edge of the sword of the Prophet
who shall look upon it? He that would not be burnt avoideth to


tread on hot embers--wise men spread not the flax before a
flickering torch. Hesaith the sagewho hath forfeited a
treasuredoth not wisely to turn back his head to gaze at it."

Richardit may be believedrespected the motives of delicacy
which flowed from manners so different from his ownand urged
his request no further.

At noon,said the Soldanas he departedI trust ye will all
accept a collation under the black camel-skin tent of a chief of
Kurdistan.

The same invitation was circulated among the Christians
comprehending all those of sufficient importance to be admitted
to sit at a feast made for princes.

Hark!said Richardthe timbrels announce that our Queen and
her attendants are leaving their gallery--and see, the turbans
sink on the ground, as if struck down by a destroying angel. All
lie prostrate, as if the glance of an Arab's eye could sully the
lustre of a lady's cheek! Come, we will to the pavilion, and
lead our conqueror thither in triumph. How I pity that noble
Soldan, who knows but of love as it is known to those of inferior
nature!

Blondel tuned his harp to his boldest measureto welcome the
introduction of the victor into the pavilion of Queen Berengaria.
He enteredsupported on either side by his sponsorsRichard and
Thomas Longswordand knelt gracefully down before the Queen
though more than half the homage was silently rendered to Edith
who sat on her right hand.

Unarm him, my mistresses,said the Kingwhose delight was in
the execution of such chivalrous usages; "let Beauty honour
Chivalry! Undo his spursBerengaria; Queen though thou bethou
owest him what marks of favour thou canst give.--Unlace his
helmetEdith;--by this hand thou shaltwert thou the proudest
Plantagenet of the lineand he the poorest knight on earth!"

Both ladies obeyed the royal commands--Berengaria with bustling
assiduityas anxious to gratify her husband's humourand Edith
blushing and growing pale alternatelyasslowly and awkwardly
she undidwith Longsword's assistancethe fastenings which
secured the helmet to the gorget.

And what expect you from beneath this iron shell?said
Richardas the removal of the casque gave to view the noble
countenance of Sir Kennethhis face glowing with recent
exertionand not less so with present emotion. "What think ye
of himgallants and beauties?" said Richard. "Doth he resemble
an Ethiopian slaveor doth he present the face of an obscure and
nameless adventurer? Noby my good sword! Here terminate his
various disguises. He hath knelt down before you unknownsave
by his worth; he arises equally distinguished by birth and by
fortune. The adventurous knightKennetharises DavidEarl of
HuntingdonPrince Royal of Scotland!"

There was a general exclamation of surpriseand Edith dropped
from her hand the helmet which she had just received.

Yes, my masters,said the Kingit is even so. Ye know how
Scotland deceived us when she proposed to send this valiant Earl,
with a bold company of her best and noblest, to aid our arms in
this conquest of Palestine, but failed to comply with her


engagements. This noble youth, under whom the Scottish Crusaders
were to have been arrayed, thought foul scorn that his arm should
be withheld from the holy warfare, and joined us at Sicily with a
small train of devoted and faithful attendants, which was
augmented by many of his countrymen to whom the rank of their
leader was unknown. The confidants of the Royal Prince had all,
save one old follower, fallen by death, when his secret, but too
well kept, had nearly occasioned my cutting off, in a Scottish
adventurer, one of the noblest hopes of Europe.--Why did you not
mention your rank, noble Huntingdon, when endangered by my hasty
and passionate sentence? Was it that you thought Richard capable
of abusing the advantage I possessed over the heir of a King whom
I have so often found hostile?

I did you not that injustice, royal Richard,answered the Earl
of Huntingdon; "but my pride brooked not that I should avow
myself Prince of Scotland in order to save my lifeendangered
for default of loyalty. AndmoreoverI had made my vow to
preserve my rank unknown till the Crusade should be accomplished;
nor did I mention it save IN ARTICULO MORTISand under the seal
of confessionto yonder reverend hermit."

It was the knowledge of that secret, then, which made the good
man so urgent with me to recall my severe sentence?said
Richard. "Well did he say thathad this good knight fallen by
my mandateI should have wished the deed undone though it had
cost me a limb. A limb! I should have wished it undone had it
cost me my life---since the world would have said that Richard
had abused the condition in which the heir of Scotland had placed
himself by his confidence in his generosity."

Yet, may we know of your Grace by what strange and happy chance
this riddle was at length read?said the Queen Berengaria.

Letters were brought to us from England,said the Kingin
which we learned, among other unpleasant news, that the King of
Scotland had seized upon three of our nobles, when on a
pilgrimage to Saint Ninian, and alleged, as a cause, that his
heir, being supposed to be fighting in the ranks of the Teutonic
Knights against the heathen of Borussia, was, in fact, in our
camp, and in our power; and, therefore, William proposed to hold
these nobles as hostages for his safety. This gave me the first
light on the real rank of the Knight of the Leopard; and my
suspicions were confirmed by De Vaux, who, on his return from
Ascalon, brought back with him the Earl of Huntingdon's sole
attendant, a thick-skulled slave, who had gone thirty miles to
unfold to De Vaux a secret he should have told to me.

Old Strauchan must be excused,said the Lord of Gilsland. "He
knew from experience that my heart is somewhat softer than if I
wrote myself Plantagenet."

Thy heart soft? thou commodity of old iron and Cumberland
flint, that thou art!exclaimed the King.--"It is we
Plantagenets who boast soft and feeling hearts. Edith turning
to his cousin with an expression which called the blood into her
cheek, give me thy handmy fair cousinandPrince of
Scotlandthine."

Forbear, my lord,said Edithhanging backand endeavouring to
hide her confusion under an attempt to rally her royal kinsman's
credulity. "Remember you not that my hand was to be the signal
of converting to the Christian faith the Saracen and Arab
Saladin and all his turbaned host?"


Ay, but the wind of prophecy hath chopped about, and sits now in
another corner,replied Richard.

Mock not, lest your bonds be made strong,said the hermit
stepping forward. "The heavenly host write nothing but truth in
their brilliant records. It is man's eyes which are too weak to
read their characters aright. Knowthat when Saladin and
Kenneth of Scotland slept in my grottoI read in the stars that
there rested under my roof a princethe natural foe of Richard
with whom the fate of Edith Plantagenet was to be united. Could
I doubt that this must be the Soldanwhose rank was well known
to meas he often visited my cell to converse on the revolutions
of the heavenly bodies? Againthe lights of the firmament
proclaimed that this princethe husband of Edith Plantagenet
should be a Christian; and I--weak and wild interpreter!--argued
thence the conversion of the noble Saladinwhose good qualities
seemed often to incline him towards the better faith. The sense
of my weakness hath humbled me to the dust; but in the dust I
have found comfort! I have not read aright the fate of others-who
can assure me but that I may have miscalculated mine own?
God will not have us break into His council-houseor spy out His
hidden mysteries. We must wait His time with watching and
prayer--with fear and with hope. I came hither the stern seer
--the proud prophet--skilledas I thoughtto instruct princes
and gifted even with supernatural powersbut burdened with a
weight which I deemed no shoulders but mine could have borne.
But my bands have been broken! I go hence humble in mine
ignorancepenitent--and not hopeless."

With these words he withdrew from the assembly; and it is
recorded that from that period his frenzy fits seldom occurred
and his penances were of a milder characterand accompanied with
better hopes of the future. So much is there of self-opinion
even in insanitythat the conviction of his having entertained
and expressed an unfounded prediction with so much vehemence
seemed to operate like loss of blood on the human frameto
modify and lower the fever of the brain.

It is needless to follow into further particulars the conferences
at the royal tentor to inquire whether DavidEarl of
Huntingdonwas as mute in the presence of Edith Plantagenet as
when he was bound to act under the character of an obscure and
nameless adventurer. It may be well believed that he there
expressed with suitable earnestness the passion to which he had
so often before found it difficult to give words.

The hour of noon now approachedand Saladin waited to receive
the Princes of Christendom in a tentwhichbut for its large
sizediffered little from that of the ordinary shelter of the
common Kurdmanor Arab; yet beneath its ample and sable covering
was prepared a banquet after the most gorgeous fashion of the
Eastextended upon carpets of the richest stuffswith cushions
laid for the guests. But we cannot stop to describe the cloth of
gold and silver--the superb embroidery in arabesque--the shawls
of Kashmere and the muslins of Indiawhich were here unfolded in
all their splendour; far less to tell the different sweetmeats
ragouts edged with rice coloured in various mannerswith all the
other niceties of Eastern cookery. Lambs roasted wholeand game
and poultry dressed in pilauswere piled in vessels of goldand
silverand porcelainand intermixed with large mazers of
sherbetcooled in snow and ice from the caverns of Mount
Lebanon. A magnificent pile of cushions at the head of the
banquet seemed prepared for the master of the feastand such


dignitaries as he might call to share that place of distinction;
while from the roof of the tent in all quartersbut over this
seat of eminence in particularwaved many a banner and pennon
the trophies of battles won and kingdoms overthrown. But amongst
and above them alla long lance displayed a shroudthe banner
of Deathwith this impressive inscription--"SALADINKING OF
KINGS--SALADINVICTOR OF VICTORS--SALADIN MUST DIE." Amid these
preparationsthe slaves who had arranged the refreshments stood
with drooped heads and folded armsmute and motionless as
monumental statuaryor as automatawhich waited the touch of
the artist to put them in motion.

Expecting the approach of his princely gueststhe Soldan
imbuedas most werewith the superstitions of his timepaused
over a horoscope and corresponding scrollwhich had been sent to
him by the hermit of Engaddi when he departed from the camp.

Strange and mysterious science,he muttered to himselfwhich,
pretending to draw the curtain of futurity, misleads those whom
it seems to guide, and darkens the scene which it pretends to
illuminate! Who would not have said that I was that enemy most
dangerous to Richard, whose enmity was to be ended by marriage
with his kinswoman? Yet it now appears that a union betwixt this
gallant Earl and the lady will bring about friendship betwixt
Richard and Scotland, an enemy more dangerous than I, as a wildcat in a chamber is more to be dreaded
than a lion in a distant
desert. But thenhe continued to mutter to himselfthe
combination intimates that this husband was to be Christian.
--Christian!he repeatedafter a pause. "That gave the insane
fanatic star-gazer hopes that I might renounce my faith! But me
the faithful follower of our Prophet--me it should have
undeceived. Lie theremysterious scroll he added, thrusting
it under the pile of cushions; strange are thy bodements and
fatalsinceeven when true in themselvesthey work upon those
who attempt to decipher their meaning all the effects of
falsehood.--How now! what means this intrusion?"

He spoke to the dwarf Nectabanuswho rushed into the tent
fearfully agitatedwith each strange and disproportioned feature
wrenched by horror into still more extravagant ugliness--his
mouth openhis eyes staringhis handswith their shrivelled
and deformed fingerswildly expanded.

What now?said the Soldan sternly.

ACCIPE HOC!groaned out the dwarf.

Ha! sayest thou?answered Saladin.

ACCIPE HOC!replied the panicstruck creatureunconscious
perhapsthat he repeated the same words as before.

Hence, I am in no vein for foolery,said the Emperor.

Nor am I further fool,said the dwarfthan to make my folly
help out my wits to earn my bread, poor, helpless wretch! Hear,
hear me, great Soldan!

Nay, if thou hast actual wrong to complain of,said Saladin
fool or wise, thou art entitled to the ear of a King. Retire
hither with me;and he led him into the inner tent.

Whatever their conference related toit was soon broken off by
the fanfare of the trumpets announcing the arrival of the various


Christian princeswhom Saladin welcomed to his tent with a royal
courtesy well becoming their rank and his own; but chiefly he
saluted the young Earl of Huntingdonand generously
congratulated him upon prospects which seemed to have interfered
with and overclouded those which he had himself entertained.

But think not,said the Soldanthou noble youth, that the
Prince of Scotland is more welcome to Saladin than was Kenneth to
the solitary Ilderim when they met in the desert, or the
distressed Ethiop to the Hakim Adonbec. A brave and generous
disposition like thine hath a value independent of condition and
birth, as the cool draught, which I here proffer thee, is as
delicious from an earthen vessel as from a goblet of gold.

The Earl of Huntingdon made a suitable replygratefully
acknowledging the various important services he had received from
the generous Soldan; but when he had pledged Saladin in the bowl
of sherbet which the Soldan had proffered to himhe could not
help remarking with a smileThe brave cavalier Ilderim knew not
of the formation of ice, but the munificent Soldan cools his
sherbet with snow.

Wouldst thou have an Arab or a Kurdman as wise as a Hakim?
said the Soldan. "He who does on a disguise must make the
sentiments of his heart and the learning of his head accord with
the dress which he assumes. I desired to see how a brave and
single-hearted cavalier of Frangistan would conduct himself in
debate with such a chief as I then seemed; and I questioned the
truth of a well-known factto know by what arguments thou
wouldst support thy assertion."

While they were speakingthe Archduke of Austriawho stood a
little apartwas struck with the mention of iced sherbetand
took with pleasure and some bluntness the deep gobletas the
Earl of Huntingdon was about to replace it.

Most delicious!he exclaimedafter a deep draughtwhich the
heat of the weatherand the feverishness following the debauch
of the preceding dayhad rendered doubly acceptable. He sighed
as he handed the cup to the Grand Master of the Templars.
Saladin made a sign to the dwarfwho advanced and pronounced
with a harsh voicethe wordsACCIPE HOC! The Templar started
like a steed who sees a lion under a bush beside the pathway; yet
instantly recoveredand to hideperhapshis confusionraised
the goblet to his lips. But those lips never touched that
goblet's rim. The sabre of Saladin left its sheath as lightning
leaves the cloud. It was waved in the airand the head of the
Grand Master rolled to the extremity of the tentwhile the trunk
remained for a second standingwith the goblet still clenched in
its graspthen fellthe liquor mingling with the blood that
spurted from the veins.

There was a general exclamation of treasonand Austrianearest
to whom Saladin stood with the bloody sabre in his handstarted
back as if apprehensive that his turn was to come next. Richard
and others laid hand on their swords.

Fear nothing, noble Austria,said Saladinas composedly as if
nothing had happened--"nor youroyal Englandbe wroth at what
you have seen. Not for his manifold treasons--not for the
attempt whichas may be vouched by his own squirehe instigated
against King Richard's life--not that he pursued the Prince of
Scotland and myself in the desertreducing us to save our lives
by the speed of our horses--not that he had stirred up the


Maronites to attack us upon this very occasionhad I not brought
up unexpectedly so many Arabs as rendered the scheme abortive-not
for any or all of these crimes does he now lie there
although each were deserving such a doom--but becausescarce
half an hour ere he polluted our presenceas the simoom
empoisons the atmospherehe poniarded his comrade and
accompliceConrade of Montserratlest he should confess the
infamous plots in which they had both been engaged."

How! Conrade murdered?--And by the Grand Master, his sponsor
and most intimate friend!exclaimed Richard. "Noble SoldanI
would not doubt thee; yet this must be provedotherwise--"

There stands the evidence,said Saladinpointing to the
terrified dwarf. "Allahwho sends the fire-fly to illuminate
the night seasoncan discover secret crimes by the most
contemptible means."

The Soldan proceeded to tell the dwarf's storywhich amounted to
this. In his foolish curiosityoras he partly confessedwith
some thoughts of pilferingNectabanus had strayed into the tent
of Conradewhich had been deserted by his attendantssome of
whom had left the encampment to carry the news of his defeat to
his brotherand others were availing themselves of the means
which Saladin had supplied for revelling. The wounded man slept
under the influence of Saladin's wonderful talismanso that the
dwarf had opportunity to pry about at pleasure until he was
frightened into concealment by the sound of a heavy step. He
skulked behind a curtainyet could see the motionsand hear the
wordsof the Grand Masterwho enteredand carefully secured
the covering of the pavilion behind him. His victim started from
sleepand it would appear that he instantly suspected the
purpose of his old associatefor it was in a tone of alarm that
he demanded wherefore he disturbed him.

I come to confess and to absolve thee,answered the Grand
Master.

Of their further speech the terrified dwarf remembered little
save that Conrade implored the Grand Master not to break a
wounded reedand that the Templar struck him to the heart with a
Turkish daggerwith the words ACCIPE HOC!--words which long
afterwards haunted the terrified imagination of the concealed
witness.

I verified the tale,said Saladinby causing the body to be
examined; and I made this unhappy being, whom Allah hath made the
discoverer of the crime, repeat in your own presence the words
which the murderer spoke; and you yourselves saw the effect which
they produced upon his conscience!

The Soldan pausedand the King of England broke silence.

If this be true, as I doubt not, we have witnessed a great act
of justice, though it bore a different aspect. But wherefore in
this presence? wherefore with thine own hand?

I had designed otherwise,said Saladin. "But had I not
hastened his doomit had been altogether avertedsinceif I
had permitted him to taste of my cupas he was about to dohow
could Iwithout incurring the brand of inhospitalityhave done
him to death as he deserved? Had he murdered my fatherand
afterwards partaken of my food and my bowlnot a hair of his
head could have been injured by me. But enough of him--let his


carcass and his memory be removed from amongst us."

The body was carried awayand the marks of the slaughter
obliterated or concealed with such ready dexterityas showed
that the case was not altogether so uncommon as to paralyze the
assistants and officers of Saladin's household.

But the Christian princes felt that the scene which they had
beheld weighed heavily on their spiritsand althoughat the
courteous invitation of the Soldanthey assumed their seats at
the banquetyet it was with the silence of doubt and amazement.
The spirits of Richard alone surmounted all cause for suspicion
or embarrassment. Yet he too seemed to ruminate on some
propositionas if he were desirous of making it in the most
insinuating and acceptable manner which was possible. At length
he drank off a large bowl of wineand addressing the Soldan
desired to know whether it was not true that he had honoured the
Earl of Huntingdon with a personal encounter.

Saladin answered with a smile that he had proved his horse and
his weapons with the heir of Scotlandas cavaliers are wont to
do with each other when they meet in the desert; and modestly
added thatthough the combat was not entirely decisivehe had
not on his part much reason to pride himself on the event. The
Scoton the other handdisclaimed the attributed superiority
and wished to assign it to the Soldan.

Enough of honour thou hast had in the encounter,said Richard
and I envy thee more for that than for the smiles of Edith
Plantagenet, though one of them might reward a bloody day's
work.--But what say you, noble princes? Is it fitting that such
a royal ring of chivalry should break up without something being
done for future times to speak of? What is the overthrow and
death of a traitor to such a fair garland of honour as is here
assembled, and which ought not to part without witnessing
something more worthy of their regard?--How say you, princely
Soldan? What if we two should now, and before this fair company,
decide the long-contended question for this land of Palestine,
and end at once these tedious wars? Yonder are the lists ready,
nor can Paynimrie ever hope a better champion than thou. I,
unless worthier offers, will lay down my gauntlet in behalf of
Christendom, and in all love and honour we will do mortal battle
for the possession of Jerusalem.

There was a deep pause for the Soldan's answer. His cheek and
brow coloured highlyand it was the opinion of many present that
he hesitated whether he should accept the challenge. At length
he saidFighting for the Holy City against those whom we regard
as idolaters and worshippers of stocks and stones and graven
images, I might confide that Allah would strengthen my arm; or if
I fell beneath the sword of the Melech Ric, I could not pass to
Paradise by a more glorious death. But Allah has already given
Jerusalem to the true believers, and it were a tempting the God
of the Prophet to peril, upon my own personal strength and skill,
that which I hold securely by the superiority of my forces.

If not for Jerusalem, then,said Richardin the tone of one
who would entreat a favour of an intimate friendyet, for the
love of honour, let us run at least three courses with grinded
lances?

Even this,said Saladinhalf smiling at Coeur de Lion's
affectionate earnestness for the combat--"even this I may not
lawfully do. The master places the shepherd over the flock not


for the shepherd's own sakebut for the sake of the sheep. Had
I a son to hold the sceptre when I fellI might have had the
libertyas I have the willto brave this bold encounter; but
your own Scripture saith that when the herdsman is smittenthe
sheep are scattered."

Thou hast had all the fortune,said Richardturning to the
Earl of Huntingdon with a sigh. "I would have given the best
year in my life for that one half hour beside the Diamond of the
Desert!"

The chivalrous extravagance of Richard awakened the spirits of
the assemblyand when at length they arose to depart Saladin
advanced and took Coeur de Lion by the hand.

Noble King of England,he saidwe now part, never to meet
again. That your league is dissolved, no more to be reunited,
and that your native forces are far too few to enable you to
prosecute your enterprise, is as well known to me as to yourself.
I may not yield you up that Jerusalem which you so much desire to
hold--it is to us, as to you, a Holy City. But whatever other
terms Richard demands of Saladin shall be as willingly yielded as
yonder fountain yields its waters. Ay and the same should be as
frankly afforded by Saladin if Richard stood in the desert with
but two archers in his train!

The next day saw Richard's return to his own campand in a short
space afterwards the young Earl of Huntingdon was espoused by
Edith Plantagenet. The Soldan sentas a nuptial present on this
occasionthe celebrated TALISMAN. But though many cures were
wrought by means of it in Europenone equalled in success and
celebrity those which the Soldan achieved. It is still in
existencehaving been bequeathed by the Earl of Huntingdon to a
brave knight of ScotlandSir Simon of the Leein whose ancient
and highly honoured family it is still preserved; and although
charmed stones have been dismissed from the modern Pharmacopoeia
its virtues are still applied to for stopping bloodand in cases
of canine madness.

Our Story closes hereas the terms on which Richard relinquished
his conquests are to be found in every history of the period.