Part 9 out of 12
their purpose. But their enterprise was delayed by the absence
of more than one main limb of the confederacy. The stubborn and
daring, though brutal courage of Front-de-Boeuf; the buoyant
spirits and bold bearing of De Bracy; the sagacity, martial
experience, and renowned valour of Brian de Bois-Guilbert, were
important to the success of their conspiracy; and, while cursing
in secret their unnecessary and unmeaning absence, neither John
nor his adviser dared to proceed without them. Isaac the Jew
also seemed to have vanished, and with him the hope of certain
sums of money, making up the subsidy for which Prince John had
contracted with that Israelite and his brethren. This deficiency
was likely to prove perilous in an emergency so critical.
It was on the morning after the fall of Torquilstone, that a
confused report began to spread abroad in the city of York, that
De Bracy and Bois-Guilbert, with their confederate
Front-de-Boeuf, had been taken or slain. Waldemar brought the
rumour to Prince John, announcing, that he feared its truth the
more that they had set out with a small attendance, for the
purpose of committing an assault on the Saxon Cedric and his
attendants. At another time the Prince would have treated this
deed of violence as a good jest; but now, that it interfered with
and impeded his own plans, he exclaimed against the perpetrators,
and spoke of the broken laws, and the infringement of public
order and of private property, in a tone which might have become
"The unprincipled marauders," he said---"were I ever to become
monarch of England, I would hang such transgressors over the
drawbridges of their own castles."
"But to become monarch of England," said his Ahithophel coolly,
"it is necessary not only that your Grace should endure the
transgressions of these unprincipled marauders, but that you
should afford them your protection, notwithstanding your laudable
zeal for the laws they are in the habit of infringing. We shall
be finely helped, if the churl Saxons should have realized your
Grace's vision, of converting feudal drawbridges into gibbets;
and yonder bold-spirited Cedric seemeth one to whom such an
imagination might occur. Your Grace is well aware, it will be
dangerous to stir without Front-de-Boeuf, De Bracy, and the
Templar; and yet we have gone too far to recede with safety."
Prince John struck his forehead with impatience, and then began
to stride up and down the apartment.
"The villains," he said, "the base treacherous villains, to
desert me at this pinch!"
"Nay, say rather the feather-pated giddy madmen," said Waldemar,
"who must be toying with follies when such business was in hand."
"What is to be done?" said the Prince, stopping short before
"I know nothing which can be done," answered his counsellor,
"save that which I have already taken order for.---I came not to
bewail this evil chance with your Grace, until I had done my best
to remedy it."
"Thou art ever my better angel, Waldemar," said the Prince; "and
when I have such a chancellor to advise withal, the reign of John
will be renowned in our annals.---What hast thou commanded?"
"I have ordered Louis Winkelbrand, De Bracy's lieutenant, to
cause his trumpet sound to horse, and to display his banner, and
to set presently forth towards the castle of Front-de-Boeuf, to
do what yet may be done for the succour of our friends."
Prince John's face flushed with the pride of a spoilt child, who
has undergone what it conceives to be an insult. "By the face of
God!" he said, "Waldemar Fitzurse, much hast thou taken upon
thee! and over malapert thou wert to cause trumpet to blow, or
banner to be raised, in a town where ourselves were in presence,
without our express command."
"I crave your Grace's pardon," said Fitzurse, internally cursing
the idle vanity of his patron; "but when time pressed, and even
the loss of minutes might be fatal, I judged it best to take this
much burden upon me, in a matter of such importance to your
"Thou art pardoned, Fitzurse," said the prince, gravely; "thy
purpose hath atoned for thy hasty rashness.---But whom have we
here?---De Bracy himself, by the rood!---and in strange guise
doth he come before us."
It was indeed De Bracy---"bloody with spurring, fiery red with
speed." His armour bore all the marks of the late obstinate
fray, being broken, defaced, and stained with blood in many
places, and covered with clay and dust from the crest to the
spur. Undoing his helmet, he placed it on the table, and stood a
moment as if to collect himself before he told his news.
"De Bracy," said Prince John, "what means this?---Speak, I
charge thee!---Are the Saxons in rebellion?"
"Speak, De Bracy," said Fitzurse, almost in the same moment with
his master, "thou wert wont to be a man---Where is the Templar?
"The Templar is fled," said De Bracy; "Front-de-Boeuf you will
never see more. He has found a red grave among the blazing
rafters of his own castle and I alone am escaped to tell you."
"Cold news," said Waldemar, "to us, though you speak of fire and
"The worst news is not yet said," answered De Bracy; and, coming
up to Prince John, he uttered in a low and emphatic tone
---"Richard is in England---I have seen and spoken with him."
Prince John turned pale, tottered, and caught at the back of an
oaken bench to support himself---much like to a man who receives
an arrow in his bosom.
"Thou ravest, De Bracy," said Fitzurse, "it cannot be."
"It is as true as truth itself," said De Bracy; "I was his
prisoner, and spoke with him."
"With Richard Plantagenet, sayest thou?" continued Fitzurse.
"With Richard Plantagenet," replied De Bracy, "with Richard
Coeur-de-Lion---with Richard of England."
"And thou wert his prisoner?" said Waldemar; "he is then at the
head of a power?"
"No---only a few outlawed yeomen were around him, and to these
his person is unknown. I heard him say he was about to depart
from them. He joined them only to assist at the storming of
"Ay," said Fitzurse, "such is indeed the fashion of Richard
---a true knight-errant he, and will wander in wild adventure,
trusting the prowess of his single arm, like any Sir Guy or Sir
Bevis, while the weighty affairs of his kingdom slumber, and his
own safety is endangered.---What dost thou propose to do De
"I?---I offered Richard the service of my Free Lances, and he
refused them---I will lead them to Hull, seize on shipping, and
embark for Flanders; thanks to the bustling times, a man of
action will always find employment. And thou, Waldemar, wilt
thou take lance and shield, and lay down thy policies, and wend
along with me, and share the fate which God sends us?"
"I am too old, Maurice, and I have a daughter," answered
"Give her to me, Fitzurse, and I will maintain her as fits her
rank, with the help of lance and stirrup," said De Bracy.
"Not so," answered Fitzurse; "I will take sanctuary in this
church of Saint Peter---the Archbishop is my sworn brother."
During this discourse, Prince John had gradually awakened from
the stupor into which he had been thrown by the unexpected
intelligence, and had been attentive to the conversation which
passed betwixt his followers. "They fall off from me," he said
to himself, "they hold no more by me than a withered leaf by the
bough when a breeze blows on it! --- Hell and fiends! can I shape
no means for myself when I am deserted by these cravens?"---He
paused, and there was an expression of diabolical passion in the
constrained laugh with which he at length broke in on their
"Ha, ha, ha! my good lords, by the light of Our Lady's brow, I
held ye sage men, bold men, ready-witted men; yet ye throw down
wealth, honour, pleasure, all that our noble game promised you,
at the moment it might be won by one bold cast!"
"I understand you not," said De Bracy. "As soon as Richard's
return is blown abroad, he will be at the head of an army, and
all is then over with us. I would counsel you, my lord, either
to fly to France or take the protection of the Queen Mother."
"I seek no safety for myself," said Prince John, haughtily; "that
I could secure by a word spoken to my brother. But although you,
De Bracy, and you, Waldemar Fitzurse, are so ready to abandon me,
I should not greatly delight to see your heads blackening on
Clifford's gate yonder. Thinkest thou, Waldemar, that the wily
Archbishop will not suffer thee to be taken from the very horns
of the altar, would it make his peace with King Richard? And
forgettest thou, De Bracy, that Robert Estoteville lies betwixt
thee and Hull with all his forces, and that the Earl of Essex is
gathering his followers? If we had reason to fear these levies
even before Richard's return, trowest thou there is any doubt now
which party their leaders will take? Trust me, Estoteville alone
has strength enough to drive all thy Free Lances into the
Humber."---Waldemar Fitzurse and De Bracy looked in each other's
faces with blank dismay.---"There is but one road to safety,"
continued the Prince, and his brow grew black as midnight; "this
object of our terror journeys alone---He must be met withal."
"Not by me," said De Bracy, hastily; "I was his prisoner, and he
took me to mercy. I will not harm a feather in his crest."
"Who spoke of harming him?" said Prince John, with a hardened
laugh; "the knave will say next that I meant he should slay him!
---No---a prison were better; and whether in Britain or Austria,
what matters it?---Things will be but as they were when we
commenced our enterprise---It was founded on the hope that
Richard would remain a captive in Germany---Our uncle Robert
lived and died in the castle of Cardiffe."
"Ay, but," said Waldemar, "your sire Henry sate more firm in his
seat than your Grace can. I say the best prison is that which is
made by the sexton---no dungeon like a church-vault! I have said
"Prison or tomb," said De Bracy, "I wash my hands of the whole
"Villain!" said Prince John, "thou wouldst not bewray our
"Counsel was never bewrayed by me," said De Bracy, haughtily,
"nor must the name of villain be coupled with mine!"
"Peace, Sir Knight!" said Waldemar; "and you, good my lord,
forgive the scruples of valiant De Bracy; I trust I shall soon
"That passes your eloquence, Fitzurse," replied the Knight.
"Why, good Sir Maurice," rejoined the wily politician, "start not
aside like a scared steed, without, at least, considering the
object of your terror.---This Richard---but a day since, and it
would have been thy dearest wish to have met him hand to hand in
the ranks of battle---a hundred times I have heard thee wish it."
"Ay," said De Bracy, "but that was as thou sayest, hand to hand,
and in the ranks of battle! Thou never heardest me breathe a
thought of assaulting him alone, and in a forest."
"Thou art no good knight if thou dost scruple at it," said
Waldemar. "Was it in battle that Lancelot de Lac and Sir
Tristram won renown? or was it not by encountering gigantic
knights under the shade of deep and unknown forests?"
"Ay, but I promise you," said De Bracy, "that neither Tristram
nor Lancelot would have been match, hand to hand, for Richard
Plantagenet, and I think it was not their wont to take odds
against a single man."
"Thou art mad, De Bracy---what is it we propose to thee, a hired
and retained captain of Free Companions, whose swords are
purchased for Prince John's service? Thou art apprized of our
enemy, and then thou scruplest, though thy patron's fortunes,
those of thy comrades, thine own, and the life and honour of
every one amongst us, be at stake!"
"I tell you," said De Bracy, sullenly, "that he gave me my life.
True, he sent me from his presence, and refused my homage---so
far I owe him neither favour nor allegiance---but I will not lift
hand against him."
"It needs not---send Louis Winkelbrand and a score of thy
"Ye have sufficient ruffians of your own," said De Bracy; "not
one of mine shall budge on such an errand."
"Art thou so obstinate, De Bracy?" said Prince John; "and wilt
thou forsake me, after so many protestations of zeal for my
"I mean it not," said De Bracy; "I will abide by you in aught
that becomes a knight, whether in the lists or in the camp; but
this highway practice comes not within my vow."
"Come hither, Waldemar," said Prince John. "An unhappy prince am
I. My father, King Henry, had faithful servants---He had but to
say that he was plagued with a factious priest, and the blood of
Thomas-a-Becket, saint though he was, stained the steps of his
own altar.---Tracy, Morville, Brito *
* Reginald Fitzurse, William de Tracy, Hugh de Morville,
* and Richard Brito, were the gentlemen of Henry the
* Second's household, who, instigated by some passionate
* expressions of their sovereign, slew the celebrated
loyal and daring subjects, your names, your spirit, are extinct!
and although Reginald Fitzurse hath left a son, he hath fallen
off from his father's fidelity and courage."
"He has fallen off from neither," said Waldemar Fitzurse; "and
since it may not better be, I will take on me the conduct of
this perilous enterprise. Dearly, however, did my father
purchase the praise of a zealous friend; and yet did his proof of
loyalty to Henry fall far short of what I am about to afford; for
rather would I assail a whole calendar of saints, than put spear
in rest against Coeur-de-Lion.---De Bracy, to thee I must trust
to keep up the spirits of the doubtful, and to guard Prince
John's person. If you receive such news as I trust to send you,
our enterprise will no longer wear a doubtful aspect.---Page," he
said, "hie to my lodgings, and tell my armourer to be there in
readiness; and bid Stephen Wetheral, Broad Thoresby, and the
Three Spears of Spyinghow, come to me instantly; and let the
scout-master, Hugh Bardon, attend me also.---Adieu, my Prince,
till better times." Thus speaking, he left the apartment. "He
goes to make my brother prisoner," said Prince John to De Bracy,
"with as little touch of compunction, as if it but concerned the
liberty of a Saxon franklin. I trust he will observe our orders,
and use our dear Richard's person with all due respect."
De Bracy only answered by a smile.
"By the light of Our Lady's brow," said Prince John, "our orders
to him were most precise---though it may be you heard them not,
as we stood together in the oriel window---Most clear and
positive was our charge that Richard's safety should be cared
for, and woe to Waldemar's head if he transgress it!"
"I had better pass to his lodgings," said De Bracy, "and make him
fully aware of your Grace's pleasure; for, as it quite escaped my
ear, it may not perchance have reached that of Waldemar."
"Nay, nay," said Prince John, impatiently, "I promise thee he
heard me; and, besides, I have farther occupation for thee.
Maurice, come hither; let me lean on thy shoulder."
They walked a turn through the hall in this familiar posture, and
Prince John, with an air of the most confidential intimacy,
proceeded to say, "What thinkest thou of this Waldemar Fitzurse,
my De Bracy?---He trusts to be our Chancellor. Surely we will
pause ere we give an office so high to one who shows evidently
how little he reverences our blood, by his so readily undertaking
this enterprise against Richard. Thou dost think, I warrant,
that thou hast lost somewhat of our regard, by thy boldly
declining this unpleasing task---But no, Maurice! I rather
honour thee for thy virtuous constancy. There are things most
necessary to be done, the perpetrator of which we neither love
nor honour; and there may be refusals to serve us, which shall
rather exalt in our estimation those who deny our request. The
arrest of my unfortunate brother forms no such good title to the
high office of Chancellor, as thy chivalrous and courageous
denial establishes in thee to the truncheon of High Marshal.
Think of this, De Bracy, and begone to thy charge."
"Fickle tyrant!" muttered De Bracy, as he left the presence of
the Prince; "evil luck have they who trust thee. Thy Chancellor,
indeed!---He who hath the keeping of thy conscience shall have an
easy charge, I trow. But High Marshal of England! that," he
said, extending his arm, as if to grasp the baton of office, and
assuming a loftier stride along the antechamber, "that is indeed
a prize worth playing for!"
De Bracy had no sooner left the apartment than Prince John
summoned an attendant.
"Bid Hugh Bardon, our scout-master, come hither, as soon as he
shall have spoken with Waldemar Fitzurse."
The scout-master arrived after a brief delay, during which John
traversed the apartment with, unequal and disordered steps.
"Bardon," said he, "what did Waldemar desire of thee?"
"Two resolute men, well acquainted with these northern wilds, and
skilful in tracking the tread of man and horse."
"And thou hast fitted him?"
"Let your grace never trust me else," answered the master of the
spies. "One is from Hexamshire; he is wont to trace the Tynedale
and Teviotdale thieves, as a bloodhound follows the slot of a
hurt deer. The other is Yorkshire bred, and has twanged his
bowstring right oft in merry Sherwood; he knows each glade and
dingle, copse and high-wood, betwixt this and Richmond."
"'Tis well," said the Prince.---"Goes Waldemar forth with them?"
"Instantly," said Bardon.
"With what attendance?" asked John, carelessly.
"Broad Thoresby goes with him, and Wetheral, whom they call, for
his cruelty, Stephen Steel-heart; and three northern men-at-arms
that belonged to Ralph Middleton's gang---they are called the
Spears of Spyinghow."
"'Tis well," said Prince John; then added, after a moment's
pause, "Bardon, it imports our service that thou keep a strict
watch on Maurice De Bracy---so that he shall not observe it,
however---And let us know of his motions from time to time
---with whom he converses, what he proposeth. Fail not in this,
as thou wilt be answerable."
Hugh Bardon bowed, and retired.
"If Maurice betrays me," said Prince John---"if he betrays me, as
his bearing leads me to fear, I will have his head, were Richard
thundering at the gates of York."
Arouse the tiger of Hyrcanian deserts,
Strive with the half-starved lion for his prey;
Lesser the risk, than rouse the slumbering fire
Of wild Fanaticism.
Our tale now returns to Isaac of York.---Mounted upon a mule, the
gift of the Outlaw, with two tall yeomen to act as his guard and
guides, the Jew had set out for the Preceptory of Templestowe,
for the purpose of negotiating his daughter's redemption. The
Preceptory was but a day's journey from the demolished castle of
Torquilstone, and the Jew had hoped to reach it before nightfall;
accordingly, having dismissed his guides at the verge of the
forest, and rewarded them with a piece of silver, he began to
press on with such speed as his weariness permitted him to exert.
But his strength failed him totally ere he had reached within
four miles of the Temple-Court; racking pains shot along his back
and through his limbs, and the excessive anguish which he felt at
heart being now augmented by bodily suffering, he was rendered
altogether incapable of proceeding farther than a small
market-town, were dwelt a Jewish Rabbi of his tribe, eminent in
the medical profession, and to whom Isaac was well known. Nathan
Ben Israel received his suffering countryman with that kindness
which the law prescribed, and which the Jews practised to each
other. He insisted on his betaking himself to repose, and used
such remedies as were then in most repute to check the progress
of the fever, which terror, fatigue, ill usage, and sorrow, had
brought upon the poor old Jew.
On the morrow, when Isaac proposed to arise and pursue his
journey, Nathan remonstrated against his purpose, both as his
host and as his physician. It might cost him, he said, his life.
But Isaac replied, that more than life and death depended upon
his going that morning to Templestowe.
"To Templestowe!" said his host with surprise again felt his
pulse, and then muttered to himself, "His fever is abated, yet
seems his mind somewhat alienated and disturbed."
"And why not to Templestowe?" answered his patient. "I grant
thee, Nathan, that it is a dwelling of those to whom the despised
Children of the Promise are a stumbling-block and an abomination;
yet thou knowest that pressing affairs of traffic sometimes carry
us among these bloodthirsty Nazarene soldiers, and that we visit
the Preceptories of the Templars, as well as the Commanderies of
the Knights Hospitallers, as they are called." *
* The establishments of the Knight Templars were called
* Preceptories, and the title of those who presided in the
* Order was Preceptor; as the principal Knights of Saint
* John were termed Commanders, and their houses
* Commanderies. But these terms were sometimes, it would
* seem, used indiscriminately.
"I know it well," said Nathan; "but wottest thou that Lucas de
Beaumanoir, the chief of their Order, and whom they term Grand
Master, is now himself at Templestowe?"
"I know it not," said Isaac; "our last letters from our brethren
at Paris advised us that he was at that city, beseeching Philip
for aid against the Sultan Saladine."
"He hath since come to England, unexpected by his brethren," said
Ben Israel; "and he cometh among them with a strong and
outstretched arm to correct and to punish. His countenance is
kindled in anger against those who have departed from the vow
which they have made, and great is the fear of those sons of
Belial. Thou must have heard of his name?"
"It is well known unto me," said Isaac; "the Gentiles deliver
this Lucas Beaumanoir as a man zealous to slaying for every point
of the Nazarene law; and our brethren have termed him a fierce
destroyer of the Saracens, and a cruel tyrant to the Children of
"And truly have they termed him," said Nathan the physician.
"Other Templars may be moved from the purpose of their heart by
pleasure, or bribed by promise of gold and silver; but Beaumanoir
is of a different stamp---hating sensuality, despising treasure,
and pressing forward to that which they call the crown of
martyrdom---The God of Jacob speedily send it unto him, and unto
them all! Specially hath this proud man extended his glove over
the children of Judah, as holy David over Edom, holding the
murder of a Jew to be an offering of as sweet savour as the
death of a Saracen. Impious and false things has he said even of
the virtues of our medicines, as if they were the devices of
Satan---The Lord rebuke him!"
"Nevertheless," said Isaac, "I must present myself at
Templestowe, though he hath made his face like unto a fiery
furnace seven times heated."
He then explained to Nathan the pressing cause of his journey.
The Rabbi listened with interest, and testified his sympathy
after the fashion of his people, rending his clothes, and saying,
"Ah, my daughter!---ah, my daughter!---Alas! for the beauty of
Zion!---Alas! for the captivity of Israel!"
"Thou seest," said Isaac, "how it stands with me, and that I may
not tarry. Peradventure, the presence of this Lucas Beaumanoir,
being the chief man over them, may turn Brian de Bois-Guilbert
from the ill which he doth meditate, and that he may deliver to
me my beloved daughter Rebecca."
"Go thou," said Nathan Ben Israel, "and be wise, for wisdom
availed Daniel in the den of lions into which he was cast; and
may it go well with thee, even as thine heart wisheth. Yet, if
thou canst, keep thee from the presence of the Grand Master, for
to do foul scorn to our people is his morning and evening
delight. It may be if thou couldst speak with Bois-Guilbert in
private, thou shalt the better prevail with him; for men say that
these accursed Nazarenes are not of one mind in the Preceptory
---May their counsels be confounded and brought to shame! But do
thou, brother, return to me as if it were to the house of thy
father, and bring me word how it has sped with thee; and well do
I hope thou wilt bring with thee Rebecca, even the scholar of the
wise Miriam, whose cures the Gentiles slandered as if they had
been wrought by necromancy."
Isaac accordingly bade his friend farewell, and about an hour's
riding brought him before the Preceptory of Templestowe.
This establishment of the Templars was seated amidst fair meadows
and pastures, which the devotion of the former Preceptor had
bestowed upon their Order. It was strong and well fortified, a
point never neglected by these knights, and which the disordered
state of England rendered peculiarly necessary. Two halberdiers,
clad in black, guarded the drawbridge, and others, in the same
sad livery, glided to and fro upon the walls with a funereal
pace, resembling spectres more than soldiers. The inferior
officers of the Order were thus dressed, ever since their use of
white garments, similar to those of the knights and esquires, had
given rise to a combination of certain false brethren in the
mountains of Palestine, terming themselves Templars, and bringing
great dishonour on the Order. A knight was now and then seen to
cross the court in his long white cloak, his head depressed on
his breast, and his arms folded. They passed each other, if they
chanced to meet, with a slow, solemn, and mute greeting; for such
was the rule of their Order, quoting thereupon the holy texts,
"In many words thou shalt not avoid sin," and "Life and death are
in the power of the tongue." In a word, the stern ascetic rigour
of the Temple discipline, which had been so long exchanged for
prodigal and licentious indulgence, seemed at once to have
revived at Templestowe under the severe eye of Lucas Beaumanoir.
Isaac paused at the gate, to consider how he might seek entrance
in the manner most likely to bespeak favour; for he was well
aware, that to his unhappy race the reviving fanaticism of the
Order was not less dangerous than their unprincipled
licentiousness; and that his religion would be the object of hate
and persecution in the one case, as his wealth would have exposed
him in the other to the extortions of unrelenting oppression.
Meantime Lucas Beaumanoir walked in a small garden belonging to
the Preceptory, included within the precincts of its exterior
fortification, and held sad and confidential communication with a
brother of his Order, who had come in his company from Palestine.
The Grand Master was a man advanced in age, as was testified by
his long grey beard, and the shaggy grey eyebrows overhanging
eyes, of which, however, years had been unable to quench the
fire. A formidable warrior, his thin and severe features
retained the soldier's fierceness of expression; an ascetic
bigot, they were no less marked by the emaciation of abstinence,
and the spiritual pride of the self-satisfied devotee. Yet with
these severer traits of physiognomy, there was mixed somewhat
striking and noble, arising, doubtless, from the great part which
his high office called upon him to act among monarchs and
princes, and from the habitual exercise of supreme authority over
the valiant and high-born knights, who were united by the rules
of the Order. His stature was tall, and his gait, undepressed by
age and toil, was erect and stately. His white mantle was shaped
with severe regularity, according to the rule of Saint Bernard
himself, being composed of what was then called Burrel cloth,
exactly fitted to the size of the wearer, and bearing on the left
shoulder the octangular cross peculiar to the Order, formed of
red cloth. No vair or ermine decked this garment; but in respect
of his age, the Grand Master, as permitted by the rules, wore his
doublet lined and trimmed with the softest lambskin, dressed with
the wool outwards, which was the nearest approach he could
regularly make to the use of fur, then the greatest luxury of
dress. In his hand he bore that singular "abacus", or staff of
office, with which Templars are usually represented, having at
the upper end a round plate, on which was engraved the cross of
the Order, inscribed within a circle or orle, as heralds term it.
His companion, who attended on this great personage, had nearly
the same dress in all respects, but his extreme deference towards
his Superior showed that no other equality subsisted between
them. The Preceptor, for such he was in rank, walked not in a
line with the Grand Master, but just so far behind that
Beaumanoir could speak to him without turning round his head.
"Conrade," said the Grand Master, "dear companion of my battles
and my toils, to thy faithful bosom alone I can confide my
sorrows. To thee alone can I tell how oft, since I came to this
kingdom, I have desired to be dissolved and to be with the just.
Not one object in England hath met mine eye which it could rest
upon with pleasure, save the tombs of our brethren, beneath the
massive roof of our Temple Church in yonder proud capital. O,
valiant Robert de Ros! did I exclaim internally, as I gazed upon
these good soldiers of the cross, where they lie sculptured on
their sepulchres,---O, worthy William de Mareschal! open your
marble cells, and take to your repose a weary brother, who would
rather strive with a hundred thousand pagans than witness the
decay of our Holy Order!"
"It is but true," answered Conrade Mont-Fitchet; "it is but too
true; and the irregularities of our brethren in England are even
more gross than those in France."
"Because they are more wealthy," answered the Grand Master.
"Bear with me, brother, although I should something vaunt myself.
Thou knowest the life I have led, keeping each point of my Order,
striving with devils embodied and disembodied, striking down the
roaring lion, who goeth about seeking whom he may devour, like a
good knight and devout priest, wheresoever I met with him---even
as blessed Saint Bernard hath prescribed to us in the forty-fifth
capital of our rule, 'Ut Leo semper feriatur'.*
* In the ordinances of the Knights of the Temple, this
* phrase is repeated in a variety of forms, and occurs in
* almost every chapter, as if it were the signal-word of the
* Order; which may account for its being so frequently put
* in the Grand Master's mouth.
But by the Holy Temple! the zeal which hath devoured my substance
and my life, yea, the very nerves and marrow of my bones; by that
very Holy Temple I swear to thee, that save thyself and some few
that still retain the ancient severity of our Order, I look upon
no brethren whom I can bring my soul to embrace under that holy
name. What say our statutes, and how do our brethren observe
them? They should wear no vain or worldly ornament, no crest
upon their helmet, no gold upon stirrup or bridle-bit; yet who
now go pranked out so proudly and so gaily as the poor soldiers
of the Temple? They are forbidden by our statutes to take one
bird by means of another, to shoot beasts with bow or arblast, to
halloo to a hunting-horn, or to spur the horse after game. But
now, at hunting and hawking, and each idle sport of wood and
river, who so prompt as the Templars in all these fond vanities?
They are forbidden to read, save what their Superior permitted,
or listen to what is read, save such holy things as may be
recited aloud during the hours of refaction; but lo! their ears
are at the command of idle minstrels, and their eyes study empty
romaunts. They were commanded to extirpate magic and heresy.
Lo! they are charged with studying the accursed cabalistical
secrets of the Jews, and the magic of the Paynim Saracens.
Simpleness of diet was prescribed to them, roots, pottage,
gruels, eating flesh but thrice a-week, because the accustomed
feeding on flesh is a dishonourable corruption of the body; and
behold, their tables groan under delicate fare! Their drink was
to be water, and now, to drink like a Templar, is the boast of
each jolly boon companion! This very garden, filled as it is
with curious herbs and trees sent from the Eastern climes, better
becomes the harem of an unbelieving Emir, than the plot which
Christian Monks should devote to raise their homely pot-herbs.
---And O, Conrade! well it were that the relaxation of discipline
stopped even here!---Well thou knowest that we were forbidden to
receive those devout women, who at the beginning were associated
as sisters of our Order, because, saith the forty-sixth chapter,
the Ancient Enemy hath, by female society, withdrawn many from
the right path to paradise. Nay, in the last capital, being, as
it were, the cope-stone which our blessed founder placed on the
pure and undefiled doctrine which he had enjoined, we are
prohibited from offering, even to our sisters and our mothers,
the kiss of affection---'ut omnium mulierum fugiantur oscula'.
--I shame to speak---I shame to think---of the corruptions which
have rushed in upon us even like a flood. The souls of our pure
founders, the spirits of Hugh de Payen and Godfrey de Saint Omer,
and of the blessed Seven who first joined in dedicating their
lives to the service of the Temple, are disturbed even in the
enjoyment of paradise itself. I have seen them, Conrade, in the
visions of the night---their sainted eyes shed tears for the sins
and follies of their brethren, and for the foul and shameful
luxury in which they wallow. Beaumanoir, they say, thou
slumberest---awake! There is a stain in the fabric of the
Temple, deep and foul as that left by the streaks of leprosy on
the walls of the infected houses of old.*
* See the 13th chapter of Leviticus.
The soldiers of the Cross, who should shun the glance of a woman
as the eye of a basilisk, live in open sin, not with the females
of their own race only, but with the daughters of the accursed
heathen, and more accursed Jew. Beaumanoir, thou sleepest; up,
and avenge our cause!---Slay the sinners, male and female!---Take
to thee the brand of Phineas!---The vision fled, Conrade, but as
I awaked I could still hear the clank of their mail, and see the
waving of their white mantles.---And I will do according to their
word, I WILL purify the fabric of the Temple! and the unclean
stones in which the plague is, I will remove and cast out of the
"Yet bethink thee, reverend father," said Mont-Fitchet, "the
stain hath become engrained by time and consuetude; let thy
reformation be cautious, as it is just and wise."
"No, Mont-Fitchet," answered the stern old man---"it must be
sharp and sudden---the Order is on the crisis of its fate. The
sobriety, self-devotion, and piety of our predecessors, made us
powerful friends---our presumption, our wealth, our luxury, have
raised up against us mighty enemies.---We must cast away these
riches, which are a temptation to princes---we must lay down that
presumption, which is an offence to them---we must reform that
license of manners, which is a scandal to the whole Christian
world! Or---mark my words---the Order of the Temple will be
utterly demolished---and the Place thereof shall no more be known
among the nations."
"Now may God avert such a calamity!" said the Preceptor.
"Amen," said the Grand Master, with solemnity, "but we must
deserve his aid. I tell thee, Conrade, that neither the powers
in Heaven, nor the powers on earth, will longer endure the
wickedness of this generation---My intelligence is sure---the
ground on which our fabric is reared is already undermined, and
each addition we make to the structure of our greatness will only
sink it the sooner in the abyss. We must retrace our steps, and
show ourselves the faithful Champions of the Cross, sacrificing
to our calling, not alone our blood and our lives---not alone our
lusts and our vices---but our ease, our comforts, and our natural
affections, and act as men convinced that many a pleasure which
may be lawful to others, is forbidden to the vowed soldier of the
At this moment a squire, clothed in a threadbare vestment, (for
the aspirants after this holy Order wore during their noviciate
the cast-off garments of the knights,) entered the garden, and,
bowing profoundly before the Grand Master, stood silent, awaiting
his permission ere he presumed to tell his errand.
"Is it not more seemly," said the Grand Master, "to see this
Damian, clothed in the garments of Christian humility, thus
appear with reverend silence before his Superior, than but two
days since, when the fond fool was decked in a painted coat, and
jangling as pert and as proud as any popinjay?---Speak, Damian,
we permit thee---What is thine errand?"
"A Jew stands without the gate, noble and reverend father," said
the Squire, "who prays to speak with brother Brian de
"Thou wert right to give me knowledge of it," said the Grand
Master; "in our presence a Preceptor is but as a common compeer
of our Order, who may not walk according to his own will, but to
that of his Master---even according to the text, 'In the hearing
of the ear he hath obeyed me.'---It imports us especially to know
of this Bois-Guilbert's proceedings," said he, turning to his
"Report speaks him brave and valiant," said Conrade.
"And truly is he so spoken of," said the Grand Master; "in our
valour only we are not degenerated from our predecessors, the
heroes of the Cross. But brother Brian came into our Order a
moody and disappointed man, stirred, I doubt me, to take our vows
and to renounce the world, not in sincerity of soul, but as one
whom some touch of light discontent had driven into penitence.
Since then, he hath become an active and earnest agitator, a
murmurer, and a machinator, and a leader amongst those who impugn
our authority; not considering that the rule is given to the
Master even by the symbol of the staff and the rod---the staff to
support the infirmities of the weak---the rod to correct the
faults of delinquents.---Damian," he continued, "lead the Jew to
The squire departed with a profound reverence, and in a few
minutes returned, marshalling in Isaac of York. No naked slave,
ushered into the presence of some mighty prince, could approach
his judgment-seat with more profound reverence and terror than
that with which the Jew drew near to the presence of the Grand
Master. When he had approached within the distance of three
yards, Beaumanoir made a sign with his staff that he should come
no farther. The Jew kneeled down on the earth which he kissed in
token of reverence; then rising, stood before the Templars, his
hands folded on his bosom, his head bowed on his breast, in all
the submission of Oriental slavery.
"Damian," said the Grand Master, "retire, and have a guard ready
to await our sudden call; and suffer no one to enter the garden
until we shall leave it."---The squire bowed and retreated.
---"Jew," continued the haughty old man, "mark me. It suits not
our condition to hold with thee long communication, nor do we
waste words or time upon any one. Wherefore be brief in thy
answers to what questions I shall ask thee, and let thy words be
of truth; for if thy tongue doubles with me, I will have it torn
from thy misbelieving jaws."
The Jew was about to reply, but the Grand Master went on.
"Peace, unbeliever!---not a word in our presence, save in answer
to our questions.---What is thy business with our brother Brian
Isaac gasped with terror and uncertainty. To tell his tale might
be interpreted into scandalizing the Order; yet, unless he told
it, what hope could he have of achieving his daughter's
deliverance? Beaumanoir saw his mortal apprehension, and
condescended to give him some assurance.
"Fear nothing," he said, "for thy wretched person, Jew, so thou
dealest uprightly in this matter. I demand again to know from
thee thy business with Brian de Bois-Guilbert?"
"I am bearer of a letter," stammered out the Jew, "so please your
reverend valour, to that good knight, from Prior Aymer of the
Abbey of Jorvaulx."
"Said I not these were evil times, Conrade?" said the Master. "A
Cistertian Prior sends a letter to a soldier of the Temple, and
can find no more fitting messenger than an unbelieving Jew.
---Give me the letter."
The Jew, with trembling hands, undid the folds of his Armenian
cap, in which he had deposited the Prior's tablets for the
greater security, and was about to approach, with hand extended
and body crouched, to place it within the reach of his grim
"Back, dog!" said the Grand Master; "I touch not misbelievers,
save with the sword.---Conrade, take thou the letter from the
Jew, and give it to me."
Beaumanoir, being thus possessed of the tablets, inspected the
outside carefully, and then proceeded to undo the packthread
which secured its folds. "Reverend father," said Conrade,
interposing, though with much deference, "wilt thou break the
"And will I not?" said Beaumanoir, with a frown. "Is it not
written in the forty-second capital, 'De Lectione Literarum' that
a Templar shall not receive a letter, no not from his father,
without communicating the same to the Grand Master, and reading
it in his presence?"
He then perused the letter in haste, with an expression of
surprise and horror; read it over again more slowly; then
holding it out to Conrade with one hand, and slightly striking it
with the other, exclaimed---"Here is goodly stuff for one
Christian man to write to another, and both members, and no
inconsiderable members, of religious professions! When," said he
solemnly, and looking upward, "wilt thou come with thy fanners to
purge the thrashing-floor?"
Mont-Fitchet took the letter from his Superior, and was about to
"Read it aloud, Conrade," said the Grand Master,---"and do thou"
(to Isaac) "attend to the purport of it, for we will question
thee concerning it."
Conrade read the letter, which was in these words: "Aymer, by
divine grace, Prior of the Cistertian house of Saint Mary's of
Jorvaulx, to Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, a Knight of the holy
Order of the Temple, wisheth health, with the bounties of King
Bacchus and of my Lady Venus. Touching our present condition,
dear Brother, we are a captive in the hands of certain lawless
and godless men, who have not feared to detain our person, and
put us to ransom; whereby we have also learned of
Front-de-Boeuf's misfortune, and that thou hast escaped with that
fair Jewish sorceress, whose black eyes have bewitched thee. We
are heartily rejoiced of thy safety; nevertheless, we pray thee
to be on thy guard in the matter of this second Witch of Endor;
for we are privately assured that your Great Master, who careth
not a bean for cherry cheeks and black eyes, comes from Normandy
to diminish your mirth, and amend your misdoings. Wherefore we
pray you heartily to beware, and to be found watching, even as
the Holy Text hath it, 'Invenientur vigilantes'. And the wealthy
Jew her father, Isaac of York, having prayed of me letters in his
behalf, I gave him these, earnestly advising, and in a sort
entreating, that you do hold the damsel to ransom, seeing he will
pay you from his bags as much as may find fifty damsels upon
safer terms, whereof I trust to have my part when we make merry
together, as true brothers, not forgetting the wine-cup. For
what saith the text, 'Vinum laetificat cor hominis'; and again,
'Rex delectabitur pulchritudine tua'.
"Till which merry meeting, we wish you farewell. Given from this
den of thieves, about the hour of matins,
"Aymer Pr. S. M. Jorvolciencis.
"'Postscriptum.' Truly your golden chain hath not long abidden
with me, and will now sustain, around the neck of an outlaw
deer-stealer, the whistle wherewith he calleth on his hounds."
"What sayest thou to this, Conrade?" said the Grand Master---"Den
of thieves! and a fit residence is a den of thieves for such a
Prior. No wonder that the hand of God is upon us, and that in
the Holy Land we lose place by place, foot by foot, before the
infidels, when we have such churchmen as this Aymer.---And what
meaneth he, I trow, by this second Witch of Endor?" said he to
his confident, something apart. Conrade was better acquainted
(perhaps by practice) with the jargon of gallantry, than was his
Superior; and he expounded the passage which embarrassed the
Grand Master, to be a sort of language used by worldly men
towards those whom they loved 'par amours'; but the explanation
did not satisfy the bigoted Beaumanoir.
"There is more in it than thou dost guess, Conrade; thy
simplicity is no match for this deep abyss of wickedness. This
Rebecca of York was a pupil of that Miriam of whom thou hast
heard. Thou shalt hear the Jew own it even now." Then turning
to Isaac, he said aloud, "Thy daughter, then, is prisoner with
Brian de Bois-Guilbert?"
"Ay, reverend valorous sir," stammered poor Isaac, "and
whatsoever ransom a poor man may pay for her deliverance------"
"Peace!" said the Grand Master. "This thy daughter hath practised
the art of healing, hath she not?"
"Ay, gracious sir," answered the Jew, with more confidence; "and
knight and yeoman, squire and vassal, may bless the goodly gift
which Heaven hath assigned to her. Many a one can testify that
she hath recovered them by her art, when every other human aid
hath proved vain; but the blessing of the God of Jacob was upon
Beaumanoir turned to Mont-Fitchet with a grim smile. "See,
brother," he said, "the deceptions of the devouring Enemy!
Behold the baits with which he fishes for souls, giving a poor
space of earthly life in exchange for eternal happiness
hereafter. Well said our blessed rule, 'Semper percutiatur leo
vorans'.---Up on the lion! Down with the destroyer!" said he,
shaking aloft his mystic abacus, as if in defiance of the powers
of darkness---"Thy daughter worketh the cures, I doubt not," thus
he went on to address the Jew, "by words and sighs, and periapts,
and other cabalistical mysteries."
"Nay, reverend and brave Knight," answered Isaac, "but in chief
measure by a balsam of marvellous virtue."
"Where had she that secret?" said Beaumanoir.
"It was delivered to her," answered Isaac, reluctantly, "by
Miriam, a sage matron of our tribe."
"Ah, false Jew!" said the Grand Master; "was it not from that
same witch Miriam, the abomination of whose enchantments have
been heard of throughout every Christian land?" exclaimed the
Grand Master, crossing himself. "Her body was burnt at a stake,
and her ashes were scattered to the four winds; and so be it with
me and mine Order, if I do not as much to her pupil, and more
also! I will teach her to throw spell and incantation over the
soldiers of the blessed Temple.---There, Damian, spurn this Jew
from the gate---shoot him dead if he oppose or turn again. With
his daughter we will deal as the Christian law and our own high
Poor Isaac was hurried off accordingly, and expelled from the
preceptory; all his entreaties, and even his offers, unheard and
disregarded. He could do not better than return to the house of
the Rabbi, and endeavour, through his means, to learn how his
daughter was to be disposed of. He had hitherto feared for her
honour, he was now to tremble for her life. Meanwhile, the Grand
Master ordered to his presence the Preceptor of Templestowe.
Say not my art is fraud---all live by seeming.
The beggar begs with it, and the gay courtier
Gains land and title, rank and rule, by seeming;
The clergy scorn it not, and the bold soldier
Will eke with it his service.---All admit it,
All practise it; and he who is content
With showing what he is, shall have small credit
In church, or camp, or state---So wags the world.
Albert Malvoisin, President, or, in the language of the Order,
Preceptor of the establishment of Templestowe, was brother to
that Philip Malvoisin who has been already occasionally mentioned
in this history, and was, like that baron, in close league with
Brian de Bois-Guilbert.
Amongst dissolute and unprincipled men, of whom the Temple Order
included but too many, Albert of Templestowe might be
distinguished; but with this difference from the audacious
Bois-Guilbert, that he knew how to throw over his vices and his
ambition the veil of hypocrisy, and to assume in his exterior the
fanaticism which he internally despised. Had not the arrival of
the Grand Master been so unexpectedly sudden, he would have seen
nothing at Templestowe which might have appeared to argue any
relaxation of discipline. And, even although surprised, and, to
a certain extent, detected, Albert Malvoisin listened with such
respect and apparent contrition to the rebuke of his Superior,
and made such haste to reform the particulars he censured,
---succeeded, in fine, so well in giving an air of ascetic
devotion to a family which had been lately devoted to license and
pleasure, that Lucas Beaumanoir began to entertain a higher
opinion of the Preceptor's morals, than the first appearance of
the establishment had inclined him to adopt.
But these favourable sentiments on the part of the Grand Master
were greatly shaken by the intelligence that Albert had received
within a house of religion the Jewish captive, and, as was to be
feared, the paramour of a brother of the Order; and when Albert
appeared before him, he was regarded with unwonted sternness.
"There is in this mansion, dedicated to the purposes of the holy
Order of the Temple," said the Grand Master, in a severe tone, "a
Jewish woman, brought hither by a brother of religion, by your
connivance, Sir Preceptor."
Albert Malvoisin was overwhelmed with confusion; for the
unfortunate Rebecca had been confined in a remote and secret part
of the building, and every precaution used to prevent her
residence there from being known. He read in the looks of
Beaumanoir ruin to Bois-Guilbert and to himself, unless he should
be able to avert the impending storm.
"Why are you mute?" continued the Grand Master.
"Is it permitted to me to reply?" answered the Preceptor, in a
tone of the deepest humility, although by the question he only
meant to gain an instant's space for arranging his ideas.
"Speak, you are permitted," said the Grand Master---"speak, and
say, knowest thou the capital of our holy rule,---'De
commilitonibus Templi in sancta civitate, qui cum miserrimis
mulieribus versantur, propter oblectationem carnis?'"*
* The edict which he quotes, is against communion with
* women of light character.
"Surely, most reverend father," answered the Preceptor, "I have
not risen to this office in the Order, being ignorant of one of
its most important prohibitions."
"How comes it, then, I demand of thee once more, that thou hast
suffered a brother to bring a paramour, and that paramour a
Jewish sorceress, into this holy place, to the stain and
"A Jewish sorceress!" echoed Albert Malvoisin; "good angels guard
"Ay, brother, a Jewish sorceress!" said the Grand Master,
sternly. "I have said it. Darest thou deny that this Rebecca,
the daughter of that wretched usurer Isaac of York, and the pupil
of the foul witch Miriam, is now---shame to be thought or spoken!
---lodged within this thy Preceptory?"
"Your wisdom, reverend father," answered the Preceptor, "hath
rolled away the darkness from my understanding. Much did I
wonder that so good a knight as Brian de Bois-Guilbert seemed so
fondly besotted on the charms of this female, whom I received
into this house merely to place a bar betwixt their growing
intimacy, which else might have been cemented at the expense of
the fall of our valiant and religious brother."
"Hath nothing, then, as yet passed betwixt them in breach of his
vow?" demanded the Grand Master.
"What! under this roof?" said the Preceptor, crossing himself;
"Saint Magdalene and the ten thousand virgins forbid!---No! if I
have sinned in receiving her here, it was in the erring thought
that I might thus break off our brother's besotted devotion to
this Jewess, which seemed to me so wild and unnatural, that I
could not but ascribe it to some touch of insanity, more to be
cured by pity than reproof. But since your reverend wisdom hath
discovered this Jewish queen to be a sorceress, perchance it may
account fully for his enamoured folly."
"It doth!---it doth!" said Beaumanoir. "See, brother Conrade,
the peril of yielding to the first devices and blandishments of
Satan! We look upon woman only to gratify the lust of the eye,
and to take pleasure in what men call her beauty; and the Ancient
Enemy, the devouring Lion, obtains power over us, to complete, by
talisman and spell, a work which was begun by idleness and folly.
It may be that our brother Bois-Guilbert does in this matter
deserve rather pity than severe chastisement; rather the support
of the staff, than the strokes of the rod; and that our
admonitions and prayers may turn him from his folly, and restore
him to his brethren."
"It were deep pity," said Conrade Mont-Fitchet, "to lose to the
Order one of its best lances, when the Holy Community most
requires the aid of its sons. Three hundred Saracens hath this
Brian de Bois-Guilbert slain with his own hand."
"The blood of these accursed dogs," said the Grand Master, "shall
be a sweet and acceptable offering to the saints and angels whom
they despise and blaspheme; and with their aid will we counteract
the spells and charms with which our brother is entwined as in a
net. He shall burst the bands of this Delilah, as Sampson burst
the two new cords with which the Philistines had bound him, and
shall slaughter the infidels, even heaps upon heaps. But
concerning this foul witch, who hath flung her enchantments over
a brother of the Holy Temple, assuredly she shall die the death."
"But the laws of England,"---said the Preceptor, who, though
delighted that the Grand Master's resentment, thus fortunately
averted from himself and Bois-Guilbert, had taken another
direction, began now to fear he was carrying it too far.
"The laws of England," interrupted Beaumanoir, "permit and enjoin
each judge to execute justice within his own jurisdiction. The
most petty baron may arrest, try, and condemn a witch found
within his own domain. And shall that power be denied to the
Grand Master of the Temple within a preceptory of his Order?
---No!---we will judge and condemn. The witch shall be taken out
of the land, and the wickedness thereof shall be forgiven.
Prepare the Castle-hall for the trial of the sorceress."
Albert Malvoisin bowed and retired,---not to give directions for
preparing the hall, but to seek out Brian de Bois-Guilbert, and
communicate to him how matters were likely to terminate. It was
not long ere he found him, foaming with indignation at a repulse
he had anew sustained from the fair Jewess. "The unthinking," he
said, "the ungrateful, to scorn him who, amidst blood and flames,
would have saved her life at the risk of his own! By Heaven,
Malvoisin! I abode until roof and rafters crackled and crashed
around me. I was the butt of a hundred arrows; they rattled on
mine armour like hailstones against a latticed casement, and the
only use I made of my shield was for her protection. This did I
endure for her; and now the self-willed girl upbraids me that I
did not leave her to perish, and refuses me not only the
slightest proof of gratitude, but even the most distant hope that
ever she will be brought to grant any. The devil, that possessed
her race with obstinacy, has concentrated its full force in her
"The devil," said the Preceptor, "I think, possessed you both.
How oft have I preached to you caution, if not continence? Did I
not tell you that there were enough willing Christian damsels to
be met with, who would think it sin to refuse so brave a knight
'le don d'amoureux merci', and you must needs anchor your
affection on a wilful, obstinate Jewess! By the mass, I think
old Lucas Beaumanoir guesses right, when he maintains she hath
cast a spell over you."
"Lucas Beaumanoir!"---said Bois-Guilbert reproachfully---"Are
these your precautions, Malvoisin? Hast thou suffered the dotard
to learn that Rebecca is in the Preceptory?"
"How could I help it?" said the Preceptor. "I neglected nothing
that could keep secret your mystery; but it is betrayed, and
whether by the devil or no, the devil only can tell. But I have
turned the matter as I could; you are safe if you renounce
Rebecca. You are pitied---the victim of magical delusion. She
is a sorceress, and must suffer as such."
"She shall not, by Heaven!" said Bois-Guilbert.
"By Heaven, she must and will!" said Malvoisin. "Neither you nor
any one else can save her. Lucas Beaumanoir hath settled that
the death of a Jewess will be a sin-offering sufficient to atone
for all the amorous indulgences of the Knights Templars; and thou
knowest he hath both the power and will to execute so reasonable
and pious a purpose."
"Will future ages believe that such stupid bigotry ever existed!"
said Bois-Guilbert, striding up and down the apartment.
"What they may believe, I know not," said Malvoisin, calmly; "but
I know well, that in this our day, clergy and laymen, take
ninety-nine to the hundred, will cry 'amen' to the Grand Master's
"I have it," said Bois-Guilbert. "Albert, thou art my friend.
Thou must connive at her escape, Malvoisin, and I will transport
her to some place of greater security and secrecy."
"I cannot, if I would," replied the Preceptor; "the mansion is
filled with the attendants of the Grand Master, and others who
are devoted to him. And, to be frank with you, brother, I would
not embark with you in this matter, even if I could hope to bring
my bark to haven. I have risked enough already for your sake. I
have no mind to encounter a sentence of degradation, or even to
lose my Preceptory, for the sake of a painted piece of Jewish
flesh and blood. And you, if you will be guided by my counsel,
will give up this wild-goose chase, and fly your hawk at some
other game. Think, Bois-Guilbert,---thy present rank, thy future
honours, all depend on thy place in the Order. Shouldst thou
adhere perversely to thy passion for this Rebecca, thou wilt give
Beaumanoir the power of expelling thee, and he will not neglect
it. He is jealous of the truncheon which he holds in his
trembling gripe, and he knows thou stretchest thy bold hand
towards it. Doubt not he will ruin thee, if thou affordest him a
pretext so fair as thy protection of a Jewish sorceress. Give
him his scope in this matter, for thou canst not control him.
When the staff is in thine own firm grasp, thou mayest caress the
daughters of Judah, or burn them, as may best suit thine own
"Malvoisin," said Bois-Guilbert, "thou art a cold-blooded---"
"Friend," said the Preceptor, hastening to fill up the blank, in
which Bois-Guilbert would probably have placed a worse word,
---"a cold-blooded friend I am, and therefore more fit to give
thee advice. I tell thee once more, that thou canst not save
Rebecca. I tell thee once more, thou canst but perish with her.
Go hie thee to the Grand Master---throw thyself at his feet and
"Not at his feet, by Heaven! but to the dotard's very beard will
"Say to him, then, to his beard," continued Malvoisin, coolly,
"that you love this captive Jewess to distraction; and the more
thou dost enlarge on thy passion, the greater will be his haste
to end it by the death of the fair enchantress; while thou, taken
in flagrant delict by the avowal of a crime contrary to thine
oath, canst hope no aid of thy brethren, and must exchange all
thy brilliant visions of ambition and power, to lift perhaps a
mercenary spear in some of the petty quarrels between Flanders
"Thou speakest the truth, Malvoisin," said Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, after a moment's reflection. "I will give the
hoary bigot no advantage over me; and for Rebecca, she hath not
merited at my hand that I should expose rank and honour for her
sake. I will cast her off---yes, I will leave her to her fate,
"Qualify not thy wise and necessary resolution," said Malvoisin;
"women are but the toys which amuse our lighter hours---ambition
is the serious business of life. Perish a thousand such frail
baubles as this Jewess, before thy manly step pause in the
brilliant career that lies stretched before thee! For the
present we part, nor must we be seen to hold close conversation
---I must order the hall for his judgment-seat."
"What!" said Bois-Guilbert, "so soon?"
"Ay," replied the Preceptor, "trial moves rapidly on when the
judge has determined the sentence beforehand."
"Rebecca," said Bois-Guilbert, when he was left alone, "thou art
like to cost me dear---Why cannot I abandon thee to thy fate, as
this calm hypocrite recommends?---One effort will I make to save
thee---but beware of ingratitude! for if I am again repulsed, my
vengeance shall equal my love. The life and honour of
Bois-Guilbert must not be hazarded, where contempt and reproaches
are his only reward."
The Preceptor had hardly given the necessary orders, when he was
joined by Conrade Mont-Fitchet, who acquainted him with the Grand
Master's resolution to bring the Jewess to instant trial for
"It is surely a dream," said the Preceptor; "we have many Jewish
physicians, and we call them not wizards though they work
"The Grand Master thinks otherwise," said Mont-Fitchet; "and,
Albert, I will be upright with thee---wizard or not, it were
better that this miserable damsel die, than that Brian de
Bois-Guilbert should be lost to the Order, or the Order divided
by internal dissension. Thou knowest his high rank, his fame in
arms---thou knowest the zeal with which many of our brethren
regard him---but all this will not avail him with our Grand
Master, should he consider Brian as the accomplice, not the
victim, of this Jewess. Were the souls of the twelve tribes in
her single body, it were better she suffered alone, than that
Bois-Guilbert were partner in her destruction."
"I have been working him even now to abandon her," said
Malvoisin; "but still, are there grounds enough to condemn this
Rebecca for sorcery?---Will not the Grand Master change his mind
when he sees that the proofs are so weak?"
"They must be strengthened, Albert," replied Mont-Fitchet, "they
must be strengthened. Dost thou understand me?"
"I do," said the Preceptor, "nor do I scruple to do aught for
advancement of the Order---but there is little time to find
"Malvoisin, they MUST be found," said Conrade; "well will it
advantage both the Order and thee. This Templestowe is a poor
Preceptory---that of Maison-Dieu is worth double its value
---thou knowest my interest with our old Chief---find those
who can carry this matter through, and thou art Preceptor of
Maison-Dieu in the fertile Kent---How sayst thou?"
"There is," replied Malvoisin, "among those who came hither with
Bois-Guilbert, two fellows whom I well know; servants they were
to my brother Philip de Malvoisin, and passed from his service to
that of Front-de-Boeuf---It may be they know something of the
witcheries of this woman."
"Away, seek them out instantly---and hark thee, if a byzant or
two will sharpen their memory, let them not be wanting."
"They would swear the mother that bore them a sorceress for a
zecchin," said the Preceptor.
"Away, then," said Mont-Fitchet; "at noon the affair will
proceed. I have not seen our senior in such earnest preparation
since he condemned to the stake Hamet Alfagi, a convert who
relapsed to the Moslem faith."
The ponderous castle-bell had tolled the point of noon, when
Rebecca heard a trampling of feet upon the private stair which
led to her place of confinement. The noise announced the arrival
of several persons, and the circumstance rather gave her joy; for
she was more afraid of the solitary visits of the fierce and
passionate Bois-Guilbert than of any evil that could befall her
besides. The door of the chamber was unlocked, and Conrade and
the Preceptor Malvoisin entered, attended by four warders clothed
in black, and bearing halberds.
"Daughter of an accursed race!" said the Preceptor, "arise and
"Whither," said Rebecca, "and for what purpose?"
"Damsel," answered Conrade, "it is not for thee to question, but
to obey. Nevertheless, be it known to thee, that thou art to be
brought before the tribunal of the Grand Master of our holy
Order, there to answer for thine offences."
"May the God of Abraham be praised!" said Rebecca, folding her
hands devoutly; "the name of a judge, though an enemy to my
people, is to me as the name of a protector. Most willingly do I
follow thee---permit me only to wrap my veil around my head."
They descended the stair with slow and solemn step, traversed a
long gallery, and, by a pair of folding doors placed at the end,
entered the great hall in which the Grand Master had for the time
established his court of justice.
The lower part of this ample apartment was filled with squires
and yeomen, who made way not without some difficulty for
Rebecca, attended by the Preceptor and Mont-Fitchet, and followed
by the guard of halberdiers, to move forward to the seat
appointed for her. As she passed through the crowd, her arms
folded and her head depressed, a scrap of paper was thrust into
her hand, which she received almost unconsciously, and continued
to hold without examining its contents. The assurance that she
possessed some friend in this awful assembly gave her courage to
look around, and to mark into whose presence she had been
conducted. She gazed, accordingly, upon the scene, which we
shall endeavour to describe in the next chapter.
Stern was the law which bade its vot'ries leave
At human woes with human hearts to grieve;
Stern was the law, which at the winning wile
Of frank and harmless mirth forbade to smile;
But sterner still, when high the iron-rod
Of tyrant power she shook, and call'd that power of God.
The Middle Ages
The Tribunal, erected for the trial of the innocent and unhappy
Rebecca, occupied the dais or elevated part of the upper end of
the great hall---a platform, which we have already described as
the place of honour, destined to be occupied by the most
distinguished inhabitants or guests of an ancient mansion.
On an elevated seat, directly before the accused, sat the Grand
Master of the Temple, in full and ample robes of flowing white,
holding in his hand the mystic staff, which bore the symbol of
the Order. At his feet was placed a table, occupied by two
scribes, chaplains of the Order, whose duty it was to reduce to
formal record the proceedings of the day. The black dresses,
bare scalps, and demure looks of these church-men, formed a
strong contrast to the warlike appearance of the knights who
attended, either as residing in the Preceptory, or as come
thither to attend upon their Grand Master. The Preceptors, of
whom there were four present, occupied seats lower in height,
and somewhat drawn back behind that of their superior; and the
knights, who enjoyed no such rank in the Order, were placed on
benches still lower, and preserving the same distance from the
Preceptors as these from the Grand Master. Behind them, but
still upon the dais or elevated portion of the hall, stood the
esquires of the Order, in white dresses of an inferior quality.
The whole assembly wore an aspect of the most profound gravity;
and in the faces of the knights might be perceived traces of
military daring, united with the solemn carriage becoming men of
a religious profession, and which, in the presence of their Grand
Master, failed not to sit upon every brow.
The remaining and lower part of the hall was filled with guards,
holding partisans, and with other attendants whom curiosity had
drawn thither, to see at once a Grand Master and a Jewish
sorceress. By far the greater part of those inferior persons
were, in one rank or other, connected with the Order, and were
accordingly distinguished by their black dresses. But peasants
from the neighbouring country were not refused admittance; for it
was the pride of Beaumanoir to render the edifying spectacle of
the justice which he administered as public as possible. His
large blue eyes seemed to expand as he gazed around the assembly,
and his countenance appeared elated by the conscious dignity, and
imaginary merit, of the part which he was about to perform. A
psalm, which he himself accompanied with a deep mellow voice,
which age had not deprived of its powers, commenced the
proceedings of the day; and the solemn sounds, "Venite exultemus
Domino", so often sung by the Templars before engaging with
earthly adversaries, was judged by Lucas most appropriate to
introduce the approaching triumph, for such he deemed it, over
the powers of darkness. The deep prolonged notes, raised by a
hundred masculine voices accustomed to combine in the choral
chant, arose to the vaulted roof of the hall, and rolled on
amongst its arches with the pleasing yet solemn sound of the
rushing of mighty waters.
When the sounds ceased, the Grand Master glanced his eye slowly
around the circle, and observed that the seat of one of the
Preceptors was vacant. Brian de Bois-Guilbert, by whom it had
been occupied, had left his place, and was now standing near the
extreme corner of one of the benches occupied by the Knights
Companions of the Temple, one hand extending his long mantle, so
as in some degree to hide his face; while the other held his
cross-handled sword, with the point of which, sheathed as it was,
he was slowly drawing lines upon the oaken floor.
"Unhappy man!" said the Grand Master, after favouring him with a
glance of compassion. "Thou seest, Conrade, how this holy work
distresses him. To this can the light look of woman, aided by
the Prince of the Powers of this world, bring a valiant and
worthy knight!---Seest thou he cannot look upon us; he cannot
look upon her; and who knows by what impulse from his tormentor
his hand forms these cabalistic lines upon the floor?---It may be
our life and safety are thus aimed at; but we spit at and defy
the foul enemy. 'Semper Leo percutiatur!'"
This was communicated apart to his confidential follower, Conrade
Mont-Fitchet. The Grand Master then raised his voice, and
addressed the assembly.
"Reverend and valiant men, Knights, Preceptors, and Companions of
this Holy Order, my brethren and my children!---you also,
well-born and pious Esquires, who aspire to wear this holy Cross!
---and you also, Christian brethren, of every degree!---Be it
known to you, that it is not defect of power in us which hath
occasioned the assembling of this congregation; for, however
unworthy in our person, yet to us is committed, with this batoon,
full power to judge and to try all that regards the weal of this
our Holy Order. Holy Saint Bernard, in the rule of our knightly
and religious profession, hath said, in the fifty-ninth capital,*
* The reader is again referred to the Rules of the Poor
* Military Brotherhood of the Temple, which occur in the
* Works of St Bernard. L. T.
that he would not that brethren be called together in council,
save at the will and command of the Master; leaving it free to
us, as to those more worthy fathers who have preceded us in this
our office, to judge, as well of the occasion as of the time and
place in which a chapter of the whole Order, or of any part
thereof, may be convoked. Also, in all such chapters, it is our
duty to hear the advice of our brethren, and to proceed according
to our own pleasure. But when the raging wolf hath made an
inroad upon the flock, and carried off one member thereof, it is
the duty of the kind shepherd to call his comrades together, that
with bows and slings they may quell the invader, according to our
well-known rule, that the lion is ever to be beaten down. We
have therefore summoned to our presence a Jewish woman, by name
Rebecca, daughter of Isaac of York---a woman infamous for
sortileges and for witcheries; whereby she hath maddened the
blood, and besotted the brain, not of a churl, but of a Knight
---not of a secular Knight, but of one devoted to the service of
the Holy Temple---not of a Knight Companion, but of a Preceptor
of our Order, first in honour as in place. Our brother, Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, is well known to ourselves, and to all degrees who
now hear me, as a true and zealous champion of the Cross, by
whose arm many deeds of valour have been wrought in the Holy
Land, and the holy places purified from pollution by the blood of
those infidels who defiled them. Neither have our brother's
sagacity and prudence been less in repute among his brethren than
his valour and discipline; in so much, that knights, both in
eastern and western lands, have named De Bois-Guilbert as one who
may well be put in nomination as successor to this batoon, when
it shall please Heaven to release us from the toil of bearing it.
If we were told that such a man, so honoured, and so honourable,
suddenly casting away regard for his character, his vows, his
brethren, and his prospects, had associated to himself a Jewish
damsel, wandered in this lewd company, through solitary places,
defended her person in preference to his own, and, finally, was
so utterly blinded and besotted by his folly, as to bring her
even to one of our own Preceptories, what should we say but that
the noble knight was possessed by some evil demon, or influenced
by some wicked spell?---If we could suppose it otherwise, think
not rank, valour, high repute, or any earthly consideration,
should prevent us from visiting him with punishment, that the
evil thing might be removed, even according to the text, 'Auferte
malum ex vobis'. For various and heinous are the acts of
transgression against the rule of our blessed Order in this
lamentable history.---1st, He hath walked according to his proper
will, contrary to capital 33, 'Quod nullus juxta propriam
voluntatem incedat'.---2d, He hath held communication with an
excommunicated person, capital 57, 'Ut fratres non participent
cum excommunicatis', and therefore hath a portion in 'Anathema
Maranatha'.---3d, He hath conversed with strange women, contrary
to the capital, 'Ut fratres non conversantur cum extraneis
mulieribus'.---4th, He hath not avoided, nay, he hath, it is to
be feared, solicited the kiss of woman; by which, saith the last
rule of our renowned Order, 'Ut fugiantur oscula', the soldiers
of the Cross are brought into a snare. For which heinous and
multiplied guilt, Brian de Bois-Guilbert should be cut off and
cast out from our congregation, were he the right hand and right
He paused. A low murmur went through the assembly. Some of the
younger part, who had been inclined to smile at the statute 'De
osculis fugiendis', became now grave enough, and anxiously waited
what the Grand Master was next to propose.
"Such," he said, "and so great should indeed be the punishment of
a Knight Templar, who wilfully offended against the rules of his
Order in such weighty points. But if, by means of charms and of
spells, Satan had obtained dominion over the Knight, perchance
because he cast his eyes too lightly upon a damsel's beauty, we
are then rather to lament than chastise his backsliding; and,
imposing on him only such penance as may purify him from his
iniquity, we are to turn the full edge of our indignation upon
the accursed instrument, which had so well-nigh occasioned his
utter falling away.---Stand forth, therefore, and bear witness,
ye who have witnessed these unhappy doings, that we may judge of
the sum and bearing thereof; and judge whether our justice may be
satisfied with the punishment of this infidel woman, or if we
must go on, with a bleeding heart, to the further proceeding
against our brother."
Several witnesses were called upon to prove the risks to which
Bois-Guilbert exposed himself in endeavouring to save Rebecca
from the blazing castle, and his neglect of his personal defence
in attending to her safety. The men gave these details with the
exaggerations common to vulgar minds which have been strongly
excited by any remarkable event, and their natural disposition to
the marvellous was greatly increased by the satisfaction which
their evidence seemed to afford to the eminent person for whose
information it had been delivered. Thus the dangers which
Bois-Guilbert surmounted, in themselves sufficiently great,
became portentous in their narrative. The devotion of the Knight
to Rebecca's defence was exaggerated beyond the bounds, not only
of discretion, but even of the most frantic excess of chivalrous
zeal; and his deference to what she said, even although her
language was often severe and upbraiding, was painted as carried
to an excess, which, in a man of his haughty temper, seemed
The Preceptor of Templestowe was then called on to describe the
manner in which Bois-Guilbert and the Jewess arrived at the
Preceptory. The evidence of Malvoisin was skilfully guarded.
But while he apparently studied to spare the feelings of
Bois-Guilbert, he threw in, from time to time, such hints, as
seemed to infer that he laboured under some temporary alienation
of mind, so deeply did he appear to be enamoured of the damsel
whom he brought along with him. With sighs of penitence, the
Preceptor avowed his own contrition for having admitted Rebecca
and her lover within the walls of the Preceptory---"But my
defence," he concluded, "has been made in my confession to our
most reverend father the Grand Master; he knows my motives were
not evil, though my conduct may have been irregular. Joyfully
will I submit to any penance he shall assign me."
"Thou hast spoken well, Brother Albert," said Beaumanoir; "thy
motives were good, since thou didst judge it right to arrest
thine erring brother in his career of precipitate folly. But
thy conduct was wrong; as he that would stop a runaway steed,
and seizing by the stirrup instead of the bridle, receiveth
injury himself, instead of accomplishing his purpose. Thirteen
paternosters are assigned by our pious founder for matins, and
nine for vespers; be those services doubled by thee. Thrice
a-week are Templars permitted the use of flesh; but do thou keep
fast for all the seven days. This do for six weeks to come, and
thy penance is accomplished."
With a hypocritical look of the deepest submission, the Preceptor
of Templestowe bowed to the ground before his Superior, and
resumed his seat.
"Were it not well, brethren," said the Grand Master, "that we
examine something into the former life and conversation of this
woman, specially that we may discover whether she be one likely
to use magical charms and spells, since the truths which we have
heard may well incline us to suppose, that in this unhappy course
our erring brother has been acted upon by some infernal
enticement and delusion?"
Herman of Goodalricke was the Fourth Preceptor present; the other
three were Conrade, Malvoisin, and Bois-Guilbert himself. Herman
was an ancient warrior, whose face was marked with scars
inflicted by the sabre of the Moslemah, and had great rank and
consideration among his brethren. He arose and bowed to the
Grand Master, who instantly granted him license of speech. "I
would crave to know, most Reverend Father, of our valiant
brother, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, what he says to these wondrous
accusations, and with what eye he himself now regards his unhappy
intercourse with this Jewish maiden?"
"Brian de Bois-Guilbert," said the Grand Master, "thou hearest
the question which our Brother of Goodalricke desirest thou
shouldst answer. I command thee to reply to him."
Bois-Guilbert turned his head towards the Grand Master when thus
addressed, and remained silent.
"He is possessed by a dumb devil," said the Grand Master. "Avoid
thee, Sathanus!---Speak, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, I conjure thee,
by this symbol of our Holy Order."
Bois-Guilbert made an effort to suppress his rising scorn and
indignation, the expression of which, he was well aware, would
have little availed him. "Brian de Bois-Guilbert," he answered,
"replies not, most Reverend Father, to such wild and vague
charges. If his honour be impeached, he will defend it with his
body, and with that sword which has often fought for
"We forgive thee, Brother Brian," said the Grand Master; "though
that thou hast boasted thy warlike achievements before us, is a
glorifying of thine own deeds, and cometh of the Enemy, who
tempteth us to exalt our own worship. But thou hast our pardon,
judging thou speakest less of thine own suggestion than from the
impulse of him whom by Heaven's leave, we will quell and drive
forth from our assembly." A glance of disdain flashed from the
dark fierce eyes of Bois-Guilbert, but he made no reply.---"And
now," pursued the Grand Master, "since our Brother of
Goodalricke's question has been thus imperfectly answered, pursue
we our quest, brethren, and with our patron's assistance, we will
search to the bottom this mystery of iniquity.---Let those who
have aught to witness of the life and conversation of this Jewish
woman, stand forth before us." There was a bustle in the lower
part of the hall, and when the Grand Master enquired the reason,
it was replied, there was in the crowd a bedridden man, whom the
prisoner had restored to the perfect use of his limbs, by a
The poor peasant, a Saxon by birth, was dragged forward to the
bar, terrified at the penal consequences which he might have
incurred by the guilt of having been cured of the palsy by a
Jewish damsel. Perfectly cured he certainly was not, for he
supported himself forward on crutches to give evidence. Most
unwilling was his testimony, and given with many tears; but he
admitted that two years since, when residing at York, he was
suddenly afflicted with a sore disease, while labouring for Isaac
the rich Jew, in his vocation of a joiner; that he had been
unable to stir from his bed until the remedies applied by
Rebecca's directions, and especially a warming and spicy-smelling
balsam, had in some degree restored him to the use of his limbs.
Moreover, he said, she had given him a pot of that precious
ointment, and furnished him with a piece of money withal, to
return to the house of his father, near to Templestowe. "And may
it please your gracious Reverence," said the man, "I cannot think
the damsel meant harm by me, though she hath the ill hap to be a
Jewess; for even when I used her remedy, I said the Pater and the
Creed, and it never operated a whit less kindly---"
"Peace, slave," said the Grand Master, "and begone! It well
suits brutes like thee to be tampering and trinketing with
hellish cures, and to be giving your labour to the sons of
mischief. I tell thee, the fiend can impose diseases for the
very purpose of removing them, in order to bring into credit
some diabolical fashion of cure. Hast thou that unguent of which
The peasant, fumbling in his bosom with a trembling hand,
produced a small box, bearing some Hebrew characters on the lid,
which was, with most of the audience, a sure proof that the devil
had stood apothecary. Beaumanoir, after crossing himself, took
the box into his hand, and, learned in most of the Eastern
tongues, read with ease the motto on the lid,---"The Lion of the
tribe of Judah hath conquered."
"Strange powers of Sathanas."
said he, "which can convert Scripture into blasphemy, mingling
poison with our necessary food!---Is there no leech here who can
tell us the ingredients of this mystic unguent?"
Two mediciners, as they called themselves, the one a monk, the
other a barber, appeared, and avouched they knew nothing of the
materials, excepting that they savoured of myrrh and camphire,
which they took to be Oriental herbs. But with the true
professional hatred to a successful practitioner of their art,
they insinuated that, since the medicine was beyond their own
knowledge, it must necessarily have been compounded from an
unlawful and magical pharmacopeia; since they themselves, though
no conjurors, fully understood every branch of their art, so far
as it might be exercised with the good faith of a Christian.
When this medical research was ended, the Saxon peasant desired
humbly to have back the medicine which he had found so salutary;
but the Grand Master frowned severely at the request. "What is
thy name, fellow?" said he to the cripple.
"Higg, the son of Snell," answered the peasant.
"Then Higg, son of Snell," said the Grand Master, "I tell thee it
is better to be bedridden, than to accept the benefit of
unbelievers' medicine that thou mayest arise and walk; better to
despoil infidels of their treasure by the strong hand, than to
accept of them benevolent gifts, or do them service for wages.
Go thou, and do as I have said."
"Alack," said the peasant, "an it shall not displease your
Reverence, the lesson comes too late for me, for I am but a
maimed man; but I will tell my two brethren, who serve the rich
Rabbi Nathan Ben Samuel, that your mastership says it is more
lawful to rob him than to render him faithful service."
"Out with the prating villain!" said Beaumanoir, who was not
prepared to refute this practical application of his general
Higg, the son of Snell, withdrew into the crowd, but, interested
in the fate of his benefactress, lingered until he should learn
her doom, even at the risk of again encountering the frown of
that severe judge, the terror of which withered his very heart
At this period of the trial, the Grand Master commanded Rebecca
to unveil herself. Opening her lips for the first time, she
replied patiently, but with dignity,---"That it was not the wont
of the daughters of her people to uncover their faces when alone
in an assembly of strangers." The sweet tones of her voice, and
the softness of her reply, impressed on the audience a sentiment
of pity and sympathy. But Beaumanoir, in whose mind the
suppression of each feeling of humanity which could interfere
with his imagined duty, was a virtue of itself, repeated his
commands that his victim should be unveiled. The guards were
about to remove her veil accordingly, when she stood up before
the Grand Master and said, "Nay, but for the love of your own
daughters---Alas," she said, recollecting herself, "ye have no
daughters!---yet for the remembrance of your mothers---for the
love of your sisters, and of female decency, let me not be thus
handled in your presence; it suits not a maiden to be disrobed
by such rude grooms. I will obey you," she added, with an
expression of patient sorrow in her voice, which had almost
melted the heart of Beaumanoir himself; "ye are elders among your
people, and at your command I will show the features of an
She withdrew her veil, and looked on them with a countenance in
which bashfulness contended with dignity. Her exceeding beauty
excited a murmur of surprise, and the younger knights told each
other with their eyes, in silent correspondence, that Brian's
best apology was in the power of her real charms, rather than of
her imaginary witchcraft. But Higg, the son of Snell, felt most
deeply the effect produced by the sight of the countenance of his
"Let me go forth," he said to the warders at the door of the
hall,---"let me go forth!---To look at her again will kill me,
for I have had a share in murdering her."
"Peace, poor man," said Rebecca, when she heard his exclamation;
"thou hast done me no harm by speaking the truth---thou canst not
aid me by thy complaints or lamentations. Peace, I pray thee
---go home and save thyself."
Higg was about to be thrust out by the compassion of the warders,
who were apprehensive lest his clamorous grief should draw upon
them reprehension, and upon himself punishment. But he promised
to be silent, and was permitted to remain. The two men-at-arms,
with whom Albert Malvoisin had not failed to communicate upon the
import of their testimony, were now called forward. Though both
were hardened and inflexible villains, the sight of the captive
maiden, as well as her excelling beauty, at first appeared to
stagger them; but an expressive glance from the Preceptor of
Templestowe restored them to their dogged composure; and they
delivered, with a precision which would have seemed suspicious to
more impartial judges, circumstances either altogether fictitious
or trivial, and natural in themselves, but rendered pregnant with
suspicion by the exaggerated manner in which they were told, and
the sinister commentary which the witnesses added to the facts.
The circumstances of their evidence would have been, in modern
days, divided into two classes---those which were immaterial, and
those which were actually and physically impossible. But both
were, in those ignorant and superstitions times, easily credited
as proofs of guilt.---The first class set forth, that Rebecca was
heard to mutter to herself in an unknown tongue---that the songs
she sung by fits were of a strangely sweet sound, which made the
ears of the hearer tingle, and his heart throb---that she spoke
at times to herself, and seemed to look upward for a reply---that
her garments were of a strange and mystic form, unlike those of
women of good repute---that she had rings impressed with
cabalistical devices, and that strange characters were broidered
on her veil.
All these circumstances, so natural and so trivial, were gravely
listened to as proofs, or, at least, as affording strong
suspicions that Rebecca had unlawful correspondence with mystical
But there was less equivocal testimony, which the credulity of
the assembly, or of the greater part, greedily swallowed, however
incredible. One of the soldiers had seen her work a cure upon a
wounded man, brought with them to the castle of Torquilstone.
She did, he said, make certain signs upon the wound, and repeated
certain mysterious words, which he blessed God he understood not,
when the iron head of a square cross-bow bolt disengaged itself
from the wound, the bleeding was stanched, the wound was closed,
and the dying man was, within a quarter of an hour, walking upon
the ramparts, and assisting the witness in managing a mangonel,
or machine for hurling stones. This legend was probably founded
upon the fact, that Rebecca had attended on the wounded Ivanhoe
when in the castle of Torquilstone. But it was the more
difficult to dispute the accuracy of the witness, as, in order to
produce real evidence in support of his verbal testimony, he drew
from his pouch the very bolt-head, which, according to his story,
had been miraculously extracted from the wound; and as the iron
weighed a full ounce, it completely confirmed the tale, however
His comrade had been a witness from a neighbouring battlement of
the scene betwixt Rebecca and Bois-Guilbert, when she was upon
the point of precipitating herself from the top of the tower.
Not to be behind his companion, this fellow stated, that he had
seen Rebecca perch herself upon the parapet of the turret, and
there take the form of a milk-white swan, under which appearance
she flitted three times round the castle of Torquilstone; then
again settle on the turret, and once more assume the female form.
Less than one half of this weighty evidence would have been
sufficient to convict any old woman, poor and ugly, even though
she had not been a Jewess. United with that fatal circumstance,
the body of proof was too weighty for Rebecca's youth, though
combined with the most exquisite beauty.
The Grand Master had collected the suffrages, and now in a solemn
tone demanded of Rebecca what she had to say against the sentence
of condemnation, which he was about to pronounce.
"To invoke your pity," said the lovely Jewess, with a voice
somewhat tremulous with emotion, "would, I am aware, be as
useless as I should hold it mean. To state that to relieve the
sick and wounded of another religion, cannot be displeasing to
the acknowledged Founder of both our faiths, were also
unavailing; to plead that many things which these men (whom may
Heaven pardon!) have spoken against me are impossible, would
avail me but little, since you believe in their possibility; and
still less would it advantage me to explain, that the
peculiarities of my dress, language, and manners, are those of my
people---I had well-nigh said of my country, but alas! we have no
country. Nor will I even vindicate myself at the expense of my
oppressor, who stands there listening to the fictions and
surmises which seem to convert the tyrant into the victim.---God
be judge between him and me! but rather would I submit to ten
such deaths as your pleasure may denounce against me, than
listen to the suit which that man of Belial has urged upon me
---friendless, defenceless, and his prisoner. But he is of your
own faith, and his lightest affirmance would weigh down the most
solemn protestations of the distressed Jewess. I will not
therefore return to himself the charge brought against me---but
to himself---Yes, Brian de Bois-Guilbert, to thyself I appeal,
whether these accusations are not false? as monstrous and
calumnious as they are deadly?"
There was a pause; all eyes turned to Brain de Bois-Guilbert. He
"Speak," she said, "if thou art a man---if thou art a Christian,
speak!---I conjure thee, by the habit which thou dost wear, by
the name thou dost inherit---by the knighthood thou dost vaunt
---by the honour of thy mother---by the tomb and the bones of thy
father---I conjure thee to say, are these things true?"
"Answer her, brother," said the Grand Master, "if the Enemy with
whom thou dost wrestle will give thee power."
In fact, Bois-Guilbert seemed agitated by contending passions,
which almost convulsed his features, and it was with a
constrained voice that at last he replied, looking to Rebecca,
---"The scroll!---the scroll!"
"Ay," said Beaumanoir, "this is indeed testimony! The victim of
her witcheries can only name the fatal scroll, the spell
inscribed on which is, doubtless, the cause of his silence."
But Rebecca put another interpretation on the words extorted as
it were from Bois-Guilbert, and glancing her eye upon the slip of
parchment which she continued to hold in her hand, she read
written thereupon in the Arabian character, "Demand a Champion!"
The murmuring commentary which ran through the assembly at the
strange reply of Bois-Guilbert, gave Rebecca leisure to examine
and instantly to destroy the scroll unobserved. When the whisper
had ceased, the Grand Master spoke.
"Rebecca, thou canst derive no benefit from the evidence of this
unhappy knight, for whom, as we well perceive, the Enemy is yet
too powerful. Hast thou aught else to say?"
"There is yet one chance of life left to me," said Rebecca, "even
by your own fierce laws. Life has been miserable---miserable, at
least, of late---but I will not cast away the gift of God, while
he affords me the means of defending it. I deny this charge---I
maintain my innocence, and I declare the falsehood of this
accusation---I challenge the privilege of trial by combat, and
will appear by my champion."
"And who, Rebecca," replied the Grand Master, "will lay lance in
rest for a sorceress? who will be the champion of a Jewess?"
"God will raise me up a champion," said Rebecca---"It cannot be
that in merry England---the hospitable, the generous, the free,
where so many are ready to peril their lives for honour, there
will not be found one to fight for justice. But it is enough
that I challenge the trial by combat---there lies my gage."
She took her embroidered glove from her hand, and flung it down
before the Grand Master with an air of mingled simplicity and
dignity, which excited universal surprise and admiration.
------There I throw my gage,
To prove it on thee to the extremest point
Of martial daring.
Even Lucas Beaumanoir himself was affected by the mien and
appearance of Rebecca. He was not originally a cruel or even a
severe man; but with passions by nature cold, and with a high,
though mistaken, sense of duty, his heart had been gradually
hardened by the ascetic life which he pursued, the supreme power
which he enjoyed, and the supposed necessity of subduing
infidelity and eradicating heresy, which he conceived peculiarly
incumbent on him. His features relaxed in their usual severity
as he gazed upon the beautiful creature before him, alone,
unfriended, and defending herself with so much spirit and
courage. He crossed himself twice, as doubting whence arose the
unwonted softening of a heart, which on such occasions used to
resemble in hardness the steel of his sword. At length he spoke.
"Damsel," he said, "if the pity I feel for thee arise from any
practice thine evil arts have made on me, great is thy guilt.
But I rather judge it the kinder feelings of nature, which
grieves that so goodly a form should be a vessel of perdition.
Repent, my daughter---confess thy witchcrafts---turn thee from
thine evil faith---embrace this holy emblem, and all shall yet be
well with thee here and hereafter. In some sisterhood of the
strictest order, shalt thou have time for prayer and fitting
penance, and that repentance not to be repented of. This do and
live---what has the law of Moses done for thee that thou
shouldest die for it?"
"It was the law of my fathers," said Rebecca; "it was delivered
in thunders and in storms upon the mountain of Sinai, in cloud
and in fire. This, if ye are Christians, ye believe---it is, you
say, recalled; but so my teachers have not taught me."
"Let our chaplain," said Beaumanoir, "stand forth, and tell this
"Forgive the interruption," said Rebecca, meekly; "I am a maiden,
unskilled to dispute for my religion, but I can die for it, if it
be God's will.---Let me pray your answer to my demand of a
"Give me her glove," said Beaumanoir. "This is indeed," he
continued, as he looked at the flimsy texture and slender
fingers, "a slight and frail gage for a purpose so deadly!
---Seest thou, Rebecca, as this thin and light glove of thine is
to one of our heavy steel gauntlets, so is thy cause to that of
the Temple, for it is our Order which thou hast defied."
"Cast my innocence into the scale," answered Rebecca, "and the
glove of silk shall outweigh the glove of iron."
"Then thou dost persist in thy refusal to confess thy guilt, and
in that bold challenge which thou hast made?"
"I do persist, noble sir," answered Rebecca.
"So be it then, in the name of Heaven," said the Grand Master;
"and may God show the right!"
"Amen," replied the Preceptors around him, and the word was
deeply echoed by the whole assembly.
"Brethren," said Beaumanoir, "you are aware that we might well
have refused to this woman the benefit of the trial by combat
---but though a Jewess and an unbeliever, she is also a stranger
and defenceless, and God forbid that she should ask the benefit
of our mild laws, and that it should be refused to her.
Moreover, we are knights and soldiers as well as men of religion,
and shame it were to us upon any pretence, to refuse proffered
combat. Thus, therefore, stands the case. Rebecca, the daughter
of Isaac of York, is, by many frequent and suspicious
circumstances, defamed of sorcery practised on the person of a
noble knight of our holy Order, and hath challenged the combat in
proof of her innocence. To whom, reverend brethren, is it your
opinion that we should deliver the gage of battle, naming him, at
the same time, to be our champion on the field?"