Part 5 out of 8
Saul's servants spake those words in the ears of David.
[Illustration: SAUL SOUGHT TO SMITE DAVID]
And David said, "Seemeth it to you a light thing to be the king's son-
in-law, seeing that I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?"
And the servants of Saul told him what David had said, saying, "On this
manner spake David."
And Saul said, "Thus shall ye say to David, 'The king desireth no dowry
but the slaughter of an hundred Philistines, to be avenged upon the
But Saul thought to make David fall by the hands of the Philistines.
And when the servants told David these words it pleased David well to
be the king's son-in-law. Wherefore David arose and went, he and his
men, and slew of the Philistines two hundred men.
And David came and told Saul, and Saul gave him his daughter Michal to
And Saul saw and knew that the Lord was with David, and that Michal,
Saul's daughter, loved him.
And Saul was yet the more afraid of David; and Saul became David's
Then the princes of the Philistines went forth: and it came to pass,
after they went forth, that David behaved himself more wisely than all
the servants of Saul; so that his name was much set by.
And Saul spake to Jonathan his son, and to all his servants, that they
should kill David.
But Jonathan, Saul's son, delighted much in David: and Jonathan told
David, saying, "Saul my father seeketh to kill thee; now therefore, I
pray thee, take heed to thyself until the morning, and abide in a
secret place, and hide thyself. And I will go out and stand beside my
father in the field where thou art, and I will commune with my father
of thee; and what I see I will tell thee."
And Jonathan spake good of David unto Saul his father, and said unto
him, "Let not the king sin against his servant, against David; because
he hath not sinned against thee, and because his works have been to
thee-ward very good. For he did put his life in his hand, and slew the
Philistine, and the Lord wrought a great salvation for all Israel: thou
sawest it, and didst rejoice: wherefore then wilt thou sin against
innocent blood, to slay David without a cause?"
And Saul hearkened unto the voice of Jonathan: and Saul sware, "As the
Lord liveth, he shall not be slain."
And Jonathan called David, and Jonathan shewed him all those things.
And Jonathan brought David to Saul, and he was in his presence, as in
And there was war again: and David went out and fought with the
Philistines, and slew them with a great slaughter; and they fled from
And the evil spirit from the Lord was upon Saul, as he sat in his house
with his javelin in his hand; and David played with his hand.
And Saul sought to smite David even to the wall with the javelin; but
he slipped away out of Saul's presence, and he smote the javelin into
the wall: and David fled, and escaped that night.
Saul also sent messengers, unto David's house, to watch him, and to
slay him in the morning: and Michal, David's wife, told him, saying,
"If thou save not thy life to-night, to-morrow thou shalt be slain."
So Michal let David down through a window: and he went, and fled, and
And Michal took an image, and laid it in the bed, and put a pillow of
goat's hair for his bolster, and covered it with a cloth.
And when Saul sent messengers to take David, he said, "He is sick."
And Saul sent the messengers again to see David, saying, "Bring him up
to me in the bed, that I may slay him."
And when the messengers were come in, behold, there was an image in the
bed, with a pillow of goat's hair for his bolster.
And Saul said unto Michal, "Why hast thou deceived me so, and sent away
mine enemy, that he is escaped?" And Michal answered Saul, "He said
unto me, 'Let me go; why should I kill thee?'"
So David fled and escaped and went and dwelt with Naioth, whither
Saul's messengers came to slay him.
And David fled from Naioth in Ramah, and came and said before Jonathan,
"What have I done? What is my iniquity? and what is my sin before thy
father, that he seeketh my life?"
And he said unto him, "God forbid; thou shalt not die: behold, my
father will do nothing either great or small, but that he will shew it
me: and why should my father hide this thing from me? it is not so."
And David sware moreover, and said, "Thy father certainly knoweth that
I have found grace in thine eyes; and he saith, 'Let not Jonathan know
this, lest he be grieved:' but truly as the Lord liveth, and as thy
soul liveth, there is but a step between me and death."
Then said Jonathan unto David, "Whatsoever thy soul desireth, I will
even do it for thee."
And David said unto Jonathan, "Behold, tomorrow is the new moon, and I
should not fail to sit with the king at meat: but let me go, that I may
hide myself in the field unto the third day at even.
"If thy father at all miss me, then say, 'David earnestly asked leave
of me that he might run to Bethlehem his city: for there is a yearly
sacrifice there for all the family.'
"If he say thus, 'It is well;' thy servant shall have peace: and if he
be very wroth, then be sure that evil is determined by him.
"Therefore, thou shalt deal kindly with thy servant; for thou hast
brought thy servant into a covenant of the Lord with thee:
notwithstanding, if there be in me iniquity, slay me thyself; for why
shouldest thou bring me to thy father?"
And Jonathan said, "Far be it from thee: for if I knew certainly that
evil were determined by my father to come upon thee, then would I not
tell it thee?"
Then said David to Jonathan, "Who shall tell me? or what if thy father
answer thee roughly?"
And Jonathan said unto David, "Come, and let us go out into the field."
And they went out both of them into the field.
And Jonathan said unto David, "O Lord God of Israel, when I have
sounded my father about tomorrow any time, or the third day, and,
behold, if there be good toward David, and I then send not unto thee,
and shew it thee; the Lord do so and much more to Jonathan: but if it
please my father to do thee evil, then I will shew it thee, and send
thee away, that thou mayest go in peace: and the Lord be with thee, as
he hath been with my father.
"And thou shalt not only while yet I live shew me the kindness of the
Lord, that I die not; but also thou shalt not cut off thy kindness from
my house for ever: no, not when the Lord hath cut off the enemies of
David every one from the face of the earth."
So Jonathan made a covenant with the house of David, saying, "Let the
Lord even require it at the hand of David's enemies." And Jonathan
caused David to swear again, because he loved him: for he loved him as
he loved his own soul.
Then Jonathan said to David, "To-morrow is the new moon: and thou shalt
be missed, because thy seat will be empty. And when thou hast stayed
three days, then thou shalt go down quickly, and come to the place
where thou didst hide thyself when the business was in hand, and shalt
remain by the stone Ezel. And I will shoot three arrows on the side
thereof, as though I shot at a mark.
"And, behold, I will send a lad, saying, 'Go, find out the arrows.' If
I expressly say unto the lad, 'Behold, the arrows are on this side of
thee; take them;' then come thou: for there is peace to thee, and no
hurt; as the Lord liveth.
"But if I say thus unto the young man, 'Behold, the arrows are beyond
thee,' go thy way: for the Lord hath sent thee away.
"And as for this matter which thou and I have spoken of, behold, the
Lord be between thee and me for ever."
So David hid himself in the field: and when the new moon was come, the
king sat him down to eat meat. And the king sat upon his seat, as at
other times, even upon a seat by the wall: and Jonathan arose, and
Abner sat by Saul's side, and David's place was empty.
Nevertheless Saul spake not anything that day: for he thought,
"Something hath befallen him, he is not clean; surely he is not clean."
And it came to pass on the morrow, which was the second day of the
month, that David's place was empty: and Saul said unto Jonathan his
son, "Wherefore cometh not the son of Jesse to meat, neither yesterday,
And Jonathan answered Saul, "David earnestly asked leave of me to go to
Bethlehem: and he said, 'Let me go, I pray thee; for our family hath a
sacrifice in the city; and my brother, he hath commanded me to be
there: and now, if I have found favour in thine eyes, let me get away,
I pray thee, and see my brethren.' Therefore he cometh not unto the
Then Saul's anger was kindled against Jonathan, and he said unto him,
"Thou son of the perverse rebellious woman, do not I know that thou
hast chosen the son of Jesse to thine own confusion? For as long as the
son of Jesse liveth upon the ground thou shalt not be established, nor
thy kingdom. Wherefore now send and fetch him unto me, for he shall
And Jonathan answered Saul his father, and said unto him, "Wherefore
shall he be slain? what hath he done?"
And Saul cast a javelin at him to smite him: whereby Jonathan knew that
it was determined of his father to slay David. So Jonathan arose from
the table in fierce anger, and did eat no meat the second day of the
month: for he was grieved for David, because his father had done him
And it came to pass in the morning that Jonathan went out into the
field at the time appointed with David, and a little lad with him. And
he said unto his lad, "Run, find out now the arrows which I shoot." And
as the lad ran, he shot an arrow beyond him. And when the lad was come
to the place of the arrow which Jonathan had shot, Jonathan cried after
the lad, and said, "Is not the arrow beyond thee?"
[Illustration: JONATHAN SHOOTS THE ARROWS]
And Jonathan cried after the lad, "Make speed, haste, stay not." And
Jonathan's lad gathered up the arrows, and came to his master. But the
lad knew not any thing: only Jonathan and David knew the matter.
And Jonathan gave his artillery unto his lad, and said unto him, "Go,
carry them to the city."
And as soon as the lad was gone, David arose out of a place toward the
south, and fell on his face to the ground, and bowed himself three
times: and they kissed one another, and wept one with another, until
And Jonathan said to David, "Go in peace, forasmuch as we have sworn
both of us in the name of the Lord, saying, 'The Lord be between me and
thee, and between my seed and thy seed for ever.'"
And he arose and departed: and Jonathan went into the city.
And David abode in the wilderness in strong holds, and remained in a
mountain in the wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but
God delivered him not into his hand.
And David saw that Saul was come out to seek his life: and David was in
the wilderness of Ziph in a wood.
And Jonathan, Saul's son, arose, and went to David into the wood, and
strengthened his hand in God. And he said unto him, "Fear not: for the
hand of Saul my father shall not find thee; and thou shalt be king over
Israel, and I shall be next unto thee; and that also Saul my father
And they two made a covenant before the Lord: and David abode in the
wood, and Jonathan went to his house.
Then Saul took three thousand chosen men out of Israel, and went to
seek David and his men upon the rocks of the wild goats. And he came to
the sheepcotes by the way, where was a cave; and Saul went in to cover
his feet: and David and his men were hidden in the sides of the cave.
And the men of David said unto him, "Behold the day of which the Lord
said unto thee, 'Behold, I will deliver thine enemy into thine hand,
that thou mayest do to him as it shall seem good unto thee.'" Then
David arose, and cut off the skirt of Saul's robe privily.
And it came to pass afterward, that David's heart smote him, because he
had cut off Saul's skirt. And he said unto his men, "The Lord forbid
that I should do this thing unto my master, the Lord's anointed, *
stretch forth mine hand against him, seeing he is the anointed of the
So David stayed his servants with these words, and suffered them not to
rise against Saul. But Saul rose up out of the cave, and went on his
David also arose afterward, and went out of the cave, and cried after
Saul, saying, "My lord the king."
And when Saul looked behind him, David stooped with his face to the
earth, and bowed himself; and said, "Wherefore hearest thou men's
words, saying, 'Behold, David seeketh thy hurt?'
"Behold, this day thine eyes have seen how that the Lord had delivered
thee into mine hand in the cave: and some bade me kill thee: but mine
eye spared thee; and I said, 'I will not put forth mine hand against my
lord; for he is the Lord's anointed.'
"Moreover, my father, see, yea, see the skirt of thy robe in my hand:
for in that I cut off the skirt of thy robe, and killed thee not, know
thou and see that there is neither evil nor transgression in mine hand,
and I have not sinned against thee; yet thou huntest my soul to take
"The Lord judge between me and thee, and the Lord avenge me of thee:
but mine hand shall not be upon thee. As saith the proverb of the
ancients, 'Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked: but mine hand shall
not be upon thee.'
"After whom is the king of Israel come out? after whom dost thou
pursue? after a dead dog, after a flea.
"The Lord therefore be judge, and judge between me and thee, and see,
and plead my cause, and deliver me out of thine hand."
And it came to pass, when David had made an end of speaking these
words unto Saul, that Saul said, "Is this thy voice, my son David?" And
Saul lifted up his voice, and wept. And he said to David, "Thou art
more righteous than I: for thou hast rewarded me good, whereas I have
rewarded thee evil.
"And thou hast shewed this day how that thou hast dealt well with me:
forasmuch as when the Lord had delivered me into thine hand, thou
killedst me not.
"For if a man find his enemy, will he let him go well away? wherefore
the Lord reward thee good for that thou hast done unto me this day.
"And now, behold, I know well that thou shalt surely be king, and that
the kingdom of Israel shall be established in thine hand.
"Swear now therefore unto me by the Lord, that thou wilt not cut off my
seed after me, and that thou wilt not destroy my name out of my
And David sware unto Saul, and Saul went home.
And it came to pass after many days that the Philistines gathered their
armies together for warfare to fight with Israel, and they pitched in
[Illustration: DAVID AND JONATHAN]
And Saul gathered all Israel together and they pitched in Gilboa.
And when Saul saw the host of the Philistines, he was afraid, and his
heart greatly trembled. And when Saul enquired of the Lord, the Lord
answered him not, neither by dreams, nor by prophets.
Now the Philistines fought against Israel and the men of Israel fled
from before the Philistines and fell down slain in mount Gilboa. And
the Philistines followed hard upon Saul and upon his sons, and they
slew Jonathan and two other sons of Saul. And the battle went sore
against Saul, and the archers hit him; and he was sore wounded of the
Then said Saul unto his armour-bearer, "Draw thy sword, and thrust me
through therewith; lest these Philistines come and thrust me through,
and abuse me."
But his armour-bearer would not; for he was sore afraid. Therefore Saul
took a sword, and fell upon it.
And when his armour-bearer saw that Saul was dead, he fell likewise
upon his sword, and died with him. So Saul died, and his three sons,
and his armour-bearer, and all his men, that same day together.
And it came to pass on the morrow, when the Philistines came to strip
the slain, that they found Saul and his three sons fallen in mount
And they cut off his head, and stripped off his armour, and sent into
the land of the Philistines round about, to publish it in the house of
their idols, and among the people.
Now it came to pass on the third day after the death of Saul that,
behold, a man came out of the camp from Saul with his clothes rent, and
earth upon his head: and he came before David and fell to the earth and
And David said unto him, "From whence comest thou?"
And he said unto him, "Out of the camp of Israel am I escaped."
And David said unto him, "How went the matter? I pray thee, tell me."
And he answered, "The people are fled from the battle, and many of the
people also are fallen and dead; and Saul and Jonathan his son are dead
And David said unto the young man that told him, "How knowest thou that
Saul and Jonathan his son be dead?"
And the young man that told him said, "As I happened by chance upon
mount Gilboa, behold, Saul leaned upon his spear; and, lo, the chariots
and horsemen followed hard after him. And when he looked behind him, he
saw me, and called unto me. And I answered, 'Here am I.'
"And he said unto me, 'Who art thou?'
"And I answered him, 'I am an Amalekite.'
"He said unto me again, 'Stand, I pray thee, upon me, and slay me: for
anguish is come upon me, because my life is yet whole in me.'
"So I stood upon him, and slew him, because I was sure that he could
not live after that he was fallen: and I took the crown that was upon
his head, and the bracelet that was on his arm, and have brought them
hither unto my lord."
Then David took hold on his clothes, and rent them; and likewise all
the men that were with him: and they mourned and wept, and fasted until
even, for Saul, and for Jonathan his son, and for the people of the
Lord, and for the house of Israel; because they were fallen by the
And David said unto the young man that told him, "Whence art thou?"
And he answered, "I am the son of a stranger, an Amalekite."
And David said unto him, "How wast thou not afraid to stretch forth
thine hand to destroy the Lord's anointed?"
And David called one of the young men and said, "Go near, and fall upon
him." And he smote him that he died.
And David said unto him, "Thy blood be upon thy head; for thy mouth
hath testified against thee saying, 'I have slain the Lord's anointed.'"
And David lamented with this lamentation over Saul and over Jonathan
"The beauty of Israel is slain upon thy high places: how are the mighty
"Ye mountains of Gilboa, let there be no dew, neither let there be
rain, upon you, nor fields of offerings: for there the shield of the
mighty is vilely cast away, the shield of Saul, as though he had not
been anointed with oil.
"From the blood of the slain, from the fat of the mighty, the bow of
Jonathan turned not back, and the sword of Saul returned not empty.
"Saul and Jonathan were lovely and pleasant in their lives, and in
their death they were not divided: they were swifter than eagles, they
were stronger than lions.
"Ye daughters of Israel, weep over Saul, who clothed you in scarlet,
with other delights, who put on ornaments of gold upon your apparel.
"How are the mighty fallen in the midst of the battle! O Jonathan, thou
wast slain in thine high places.
"I am distressed for thee, my brother Jonathan: very pleasant hast thou
been unto me: thy love to me was wonderful, passing the love of women.
"How are the mighty fallen, and the weapons of war perished!"
DAVID THE KING
Then came all the tribes of Israel to David unto Hebron and spake,
saying, "Behold, we are thy bone and thy flesh. Also in time past, when
Saul was king over us, thou wast he that leddest out and broughtest in
Israel: and the Lord said to thee, 'Thou shalt feed my people Israel,
and thou shalt be a captain over Israel.'"
So all the elders of Israel came to the king to Hebron; and king David
made a league with them in Hebron before the Lord: and they anointed
David king over Israel.
David was thirty years old when he began to reign and he reigned over
Israel and Judah thirty and three years, and he had already reigned
over Judah seven years and six months.
But when the Philistines heard that they bad anointed David king over
Israel, all the Philistines came up to seek David; and David heard of
it, and went down to the hold.
The Philistines also came and spread themselves in the valley of
And David enquired of the Lord, saying, "Shall I go up to the
Philistines? wilt thou deliver them into mine hand?" And the Lord said
unto David, "Go up: for I will doubtless deliver the Philistines into
And David smote the Philistines and said, "The Lord hath broken forth
upon mine enemies, as the breach of waters."
And there the Philistines left their images and David and his men
And the Philistines came up yet again, and spread themselves in the
valley of Rephaim.
And when David enquired of the Lord, he said, "Thou shalt not go up;
but fetch a compass behind them, and come upon them over against the
mulberry trees. And let it be, when thou hearest the sound of a going
in the tops of the mulberry trees, that then thou shalt bestir thyself;
for then shall the Lord go out before thee, to smite the host of the
And David did so, as the Lord had commanded him; and smote the
Philistines from Geba until they came to Gazer.
After David had conquered the Philistines he called unto him a servant
of the house of Saul whose name was Ziba, and said, "Is there not yet
any of the house of Saul, that I may shew the kindness of God unto
And Ziba said unto the king, "Jonathan hath yet a son who is lame on
The king said unto him, "Where is he?".
And Ziba said unto the king, "Behold he is in the house of Machir."
Now the name of this son of Jonathan was Mephibosheth, and when he was
come unto David he fell on his face, and did reverence.
And David said, "Mephibosheth!"
And he answered, "Behold thy servant."
And David said unto him, "Fear not: for I will surely shew thee
kindness for Jonathan thy father's sake, and will restore thee all the
land of Saul thy father; and thou shalt eat bread at my table
And he bowed himself, and said, "What is thy servant, that thou
shouldest look upon such a dead dog as I am?"
Then the king called to Ziba, Saul's servant, and said unto him, "I
have given unto thy master's son all that pertained to Saul and to all
his house. Thou therefore, and thy sons, and thy servants, shall till
the land for him, and thou shalt bring in the fruits, that thy master's
son may have food to eat: but Mephibosheth thy master's son shall eat
bread alway at my table."
Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants. Then said Ziba unto the
king, "According to all that my lord the king hath commanded his
servant, so shall thy servant do."
"As for Mephibosheth," said the king, "he shall eat at my table, as one
of the king's sons."
And Mephibosheth had a young son, whose name was Micha.
And all that dwelt in the house of Ziba were servants unto
So Mephibosheth dwelt in Jerusalem: for he did eat continually at the
king's table; and was lame on both his feet.
Now Absalom, the favorite son of David, was wroth at his brother Amnon
who had dealt wickedly with his sister. And at a sheep-shearing where
Absalom had invited Amnon and all his other brothers, Absalom had
commanded his servants, saying, "Mark ye now when Amnon's heart is
merry with wine, and when I say unto you, 'Smite Amnon;' then kill him;
fear not: have not I commanded you? Be courageous, and be valiant."
And the servants of Absalom did unto Amnon as Absalom had commanded,
and David mourned for his son every day.
So Absalom fled and went to Geshur and was there three years. And the
soul of David longed to go forth unto Absalom, for he loved him dearly.
And the king sent for Joab, who had counselled the king to forgive, and
said unto him, "Go ye and bring the young man Absalom again to me."
So Joab arose and went to Geshur, and brought Absalom to Jerusalem.
And the king said, "Let him turn to his own house, and let him not see
So Absalom returned to his own house, and saw not the king's face.
But in all Israel there was none to be so much praised as Absalom for
his beauty: from the sole of his feet even to the crown of his head
there was no blemish in him. And when he polled his head, he weighed
the hair of his head at two hundred shekels after the king's weight.
So Absalom dwelt two full years in Jerusalem, and saw not the king's
face. Therefore Absalom sent for Joab, to have sent him to the king;
but he would not come to him: and when he sent for him again the second
time, he would not come.
Therefore he said unto his servants, "See, Joab's field is near mine,
and he hath barley there; go and set it on fire." And Absalom's
servants set the field on fire.
Then Joab arose, and came to Absalom unto his house, and said unto him,
"Wherefore have thy servants set my field on fire?"
And Absalom answered Joab, "Behold, I sent unto thee, bidding thee come
hither, that I might send thee to the king, to say, 'Wherefore am I
come from Geshur? it had been good for me to have been there still: now
therefore let me see the king's face: and if there be any iniquity in
me, let him kill me.'"
So Joab came to the king, and told him: and when he called for Absalom,
he came to the king, and bowed himself on his face to the ground before
the king: and the king kissed Absalom.
And it came to pass after this, that Absalom prepared him chariots and
horses, and fifty men to run before him.
And Absalom rose up early, and stood beside the way of the gate: and
it was so, that when any man that had a controversy came to the king
for judgment, then Absalom called unto him, and said, "Of what city art
thou?" And he said, "Thy servant is of one of the tribes of Israel."
And Absalom said unto him, "See, thy matters are good and right; but
there is no man deputed of the king to hear thee."
[Illustration: THE MAN RUNNETH ALONE]
Absalom said moreover, "Oh that I were made judge of the land, that
every man which hath any suit or cause might come unto me, and I would
do him justice."
And it was so, that when any man came nigh to him to do him obeisance,
he put forth his hand, and took him, and kissed him.
And on this manner did Absalom to all Israel that came to the king for
judgment: so Absalom stole the hearts of the men of Israel.
And there came a messenger to David, saying, "The hearts of the men of
Israel are after Absalom."
And David said unto all his servants that were with him at Jerusalem,
"Arise, and let us flee; for we shall not else escape from Absalom:
make speed to depart, lest he overtake us suddenly, and bring evil upon
us, and smite the city with the edge of the sword."
And the king went forth, and all the people after him, and tarried in a
place that was far off.
And David went up by the ascent of mount Olivet, and wept as he went
up, and had his head covered, and he went barefoot.
And all the people that was with him covered every man his head, and
they went up, weeping as they went up.
Then David arose, and all the people that were with him, and they
passed over Jordan: by the morning light there lacked not one of them
that was not gone over Jordan.
Then David came to Mahanaim. And Absalom passed over Jordan, he and all
the men of Israel with him. So Israel and Absalom pitched their tents
in the land of Gilead.
And it came to pass, when David had come unto Mahanaim that the people
brought beds, and basins, and earthen vessels, and wheat, and barley,
and flour, and parched corn, and beans, and lentiles, and parched
pulse, and honey, and butter, and sheep, and cheese of kine, for David,
and for the people that were with him, to eat: for they said, "The
people are hungry, and weary, and thirsty, in the wilderness."
And David numbered the people that were with him, and set captains of
thousands and captains of hundreds over them.
And David sent forth a third part of the people under the hand of Joab,
and a third part under the hand of Abishai, and a third part under the
hand of Ittai. And the king said unto the people, "I will surely go
forth with you myself also."
But the people answered, "Thou shalt not go forth: for if we flee away,
they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, will they care
for us: but now thou art worth ten thousand of us: therefore now it is
better that thou succour us out of the city." And the king said unto
them, "What seemeth you best I will do." And the king stood by the gate
side, and all the people came out by hundreds and by thousands.
And the king commanded Joab and Abishai and Ittai, saying, "Deal gently
for my sake with the young man, even with Absalom." And all the people
heard when the king gave all the captains charge concerning Absalom. So
the people went out into the field against Israel; and the battle was
in the wood of Ephraim; where the people of Israel were slain before
the servants of David, and there was there a great slaughter that day
of twenty thousand men. For the battle was there scattered over the
face of all the country; and the wood devoured more people that day
than the sword devoured.
And Absalom met the servants of David. And Absalom rode upon a mule,
and the mule went under the thick boughs of a great oak, and his head
caught hold of the oak, and he was taken up between the heaven and the
earth; and the mule that was under him went away. And a certain man saw
it, and told Joab, and said, "Behold, I saw Absalom hanged in an oak."
And Joab said unto the man that told him, "And, behold, thou sawest
him, and why didst thou not smite him there to the ground? and I would
have given thee ten shekels of silver, and a girdle."
And the man said unto Joab, "Though I should receive a thousand shekels
of silver in mine hand, yet would I not put forth mine hand against the
king's son: for in our hearing the king charged thee and Abishai and
Ittai, saying, 'Beware that none touch the young man Absalom.'
"Otherwise I should have wrought falsehood against mine own life: for
there is no matter hid from the king, and thou thyself wouldest have
set thyself against me."
Then said Joab, "I may not tarry thus with thee." And he took three
darts in his hand, and thrust them through the heart of Absalom, while
he was yet alive in the midst of the oak.
And ten young men that bare Joab's armour compassed about and smote
Absalom, and slew him.
And Joab blew the trumpet, and the people returned from pursuing after
Israel: for Joab held back the people.
And they took Absalom, and cast him into a great pit in the wood, and
laid a very great heap of stones upon him: and all Israel fled every
one to his tent.
And David sat between the two gates: and the watchman went up to the
roof over the gate unto the wall, and lifted up his eyes, and looked,
and beheld a man running alone. And the watchman cried, and told the
king. And the king said, "If he be alone, there is tidings in his
mouth." And he came apace, and drew near, and said, "Tidings, my lord
the king: for the Lord hath avenged thee this day of all them that rose
up against thee."
[Illustration: IS THE YOUNG MAN, ABSALOM, SAFE?]
And the king said unto Cushi, "Is the young man Absalom safe?" And
Cushi answered, "The enemies of my lord the king, and all that rise
against thee to do thee hurt, be as that young man is."
And the king was much moved, and went up to the chamber over the gate,
and wept: and as he went, thus he said, "O my son Absalom, my son, my
son Absalom! would God I had died for thee, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
And it was told Joab, "Behold the king weepeth and mourneth for
Absalom." And the victory that day was turned into mourning unto all
the people: for the people heard say that day how the king was grieved
for his son. And the people gat them by stealth that day into the city,
as people being ashamed steal away when they flee in battle.
But the king covered his face, and the king cried with a loud voice, "O
my son Absalom, O Absalom, my son, my son!"
* * * * *
And David spake unto the Lord the words of this song in the day that
the Lord had delivered him out of the hand of all his enemies:
"The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; the God of my
rock; in him will I trust: he is my shield and the horn of my
salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my saviour; thou savest me
"I will call on the Lord, who is worthy to be praised: so shall I be
saved from mine enemies.
"When the waves of death compassed me, the floods of ungodly men made
me afraid; the sorrows of hell compassed me about; the snares of death
prevented me; in my distress I called upon the Lord and cried to my
God: and he did hear my voice out of his temple, and my cry did enter
into his ears.
"Then the earth shook and trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and
shook, because he was wroth. There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
and fire out of his mouth devoured: coals were kindled by it.
"He bowed the heavens also, and came down; and darkness was under his
"And he rode upon a cherub, and did fly: and he was seen upon the wings
of the wind.
"And he made darkness pavilions round about him, dark waters, and thick
clouds of the skies.
"Through the brightness before him were coals of fire kindled.
"The LORD thundered from heaven, and the most High uttered his voice.
"And he sent out arrows, and scattered them; lightning, and discomfited
"And the channels of the sea appeared, the foundations of the world
were discovered, at the rebuking of the LORD, at the blast of the
breath of his nostrils.
"He sent from above, he took me; he drew me out of many waters; he
delivered me from my strong enemy, and from them that hated me: for
they were too strong for me.
"I was also upright before him, and have kept myself from mine
"Therefore the LORD hath recompensed me according to my righteousness;
according to my cleanness in his eye sight.
"With the merciful thou wilt shew thyself merciful, and with the
upright man thou wilt shew thyself upright.
"With the pure thou wilt shew thyself pure; and with the forward thou
wilt shew thyself unsavoury.
"And the afflicted people thou wilt save: but thine eyes are upon the
haughty, that thou mayest bring them down."
Now the days of David drew nigh that he should die; and he charged
Solomon his son, saying:
"I go the way of all the earth: be thou strong therefore, and shew
thyself a man; and keep the charge of the Lord thy God, to walk in his
ways, to keep his statutes, and his commandments, and his judgments,
and his testimonies, as it is written in the law of Moses, that thou
mayest prosper in all that thou doest, whithersoever thou turnest
thyself: that the Lord may continue his word which he spake concerning
me, saying, 'If thy children take heed to their way, to walk before me
in truth with all their heart and with all their soul, there shall not
fail thee a man on the throne of Israel.'"
So David slept with his fathers and was buried in the city of David.
Then sat Solomon upon the throne of David his father; and his kingdom
* * * * *
David was, as you have learned from the account of him you have just
been reading, a poet and a singer and one of his beautiful songs is to
be found near the close of this story of his life. We may imagine him
singing this, and accompanying himself on the harp; touching the
strings softly as he told that, "The sorrows of hell compassed me
about; the snares of death prevented me"; but striking out loud
sounding chords as he exultantly cried. "Then the earth shook and
trembled; the foundations of heaven moved and shook."
Does it seem at all strange to you that we should call this poetry? It
has no rhyme, and it is not broken up, as are most poems, into lines of
nearly equal length; but a poem it is, nevertheless. Hebrew poetry was
quite different in some ways from modern poetry. It did not have
rhymes, though it did have about it a certain musical quality which
made it very suitable for chanting. Then, too, the words and the manner
of treating subjects were different from those employed in prose, just
as they are in our own poetry.
David in this song is praising God for making him victorious over his
enemies. Let us look for a moment at the way in which he expresses
himself, and see whether we can find out just where the beauty of this
hymn of praise lies. In the first paragraph he applies to the Lord
various titles--"my rock," "my shield," "my high tower." He means to
say by this that God is strong enough to protect him and defend him,
but is not his way of saying it more forceful?
A few lines down we have the words, "The waves of death compassed me."
Does this not give you a vivid idea of the helplessness of David and
his hopelessness? What he means is, "I was in constant danger of losing
my life," but he puts this fact into impressive words that leave a
distinct picture in our minds.
Still further on we read, "There went up a smoke out of his nostrils,
and fire out of his mouth devoured." This strikes us as a very daring
way of describing God, but it is also a forceful way. We get just the
idea of the irresistibleness of God which David meant we should.
These are but a few of the striking descriptions of which David makes
use in this song. You will find others in almost every paragraph.
_By_ RICHARD SHEALE
NOTE.--It was said in the old legend that Percy, Earl of
Northumberland, declared that he would hunt for three days on Scottish
lands without asking leave from Earl Douglas, who either owned the soil
or had control of it under the king. This ballad dates back probably to
the time of James I, and is merely a modernized version of the old
God prosper long our noble king,
Our lives and safeties all;
A woful hunting once there did
In Chevy-Chase befall.
To drive the deer with hound and horn
Earl Percy took his way;
The child may rue that is unborn
The hunting of that day.
The stout Earl of Northumberland
A vow to God did make,
His pleasure in the Scottish woods
Three summer days to take,--
The chiefest harts in Chevy-Chase
To kill and bear away.
These tidings to Earl Douglas came,
In Scotland where he lay;
Who sent Earl Percy present word
He would prevent his sport.
The English earl, not fearing that,
Did to the woods resort,
With fifteen hundred bowmen bold,
All chosen men of might,
Who knew full well in time of need
To aim their shafts aright.
The gallant greyhounds swiftly ran
To chase the fallow deer;
On Monday they began to hunt
When daylight did appear;
And long before high noon they had
A hundred fat bucks slain;
Then, having dined, the drovers went
To rouse the deer again.
The bowmen mustered on the hills,
Well able to endure;
And all their rear, with special care,
That day was guarded sure.
The hounds ran swiftly through the woods
The nimble deer to take,
That with their cries the hills and dales
An echo shrill did make.
Lord Percy to the quarry went,
To view the slaughtered deer;
Quoth he, "Earl Douglas promis�d
This day to meet me here;
"But if I thought he would not come,
No longer would I stay;"
With that a brave young gentleman
Thus to the earl did say:--
"Lo, yonder doth Earl Douglas come,--
His men in armor bright;
Full twenty hundred Scottish spears
All marching in our sight;
"All men of pleasant Teviotdale,
Fast by the river Tweed;"
"Then cease your sports," Earl Percy said,
"And take your bows with speed;
"And now with me, my countrymen,
Your courage forth advance;
For never was there champion yet,
In Scotland or in France,
"That ever did on horseback come,
But if my hap it were,
I durst encounter man for man,
With him to break a spear."
Earl Douglas on his milk-white steed,
Most like a baron bold,
Rode foremost of his company,
Whose armor shone like gold.
"Show me," said he, "whose men you be,
That hunt so boldly here,
That, without my consent, do chase
And kill my fallow deer."
The first man that did answer make,
Was noble Percy he--
Who said, "We list not to declare,
Nor show whose men we be:
"Yet will we spend our dearest blood
Thy chiefest harts to slay."
Then Douglas swore a solemn oath,
And thus in rage did say:
"Ere thus I will out-brav�d be,
One of us two shall die;
I know thee well, an earl thou art,--
Lord Percy, so am I.
"But trust me, Percy, pity it were,
And great offence, to kill
Any of these our guiltless men,
For they have done no ill.
"Let you and me the battle try,
And set our men aside."
"Accursed be he," Earl Percy said,
"By whom this is denied."
Then stepped a gallant squire forth,
Witherington was his name,
Who said, "I would not have it told
To Henry, our king, for shame,
"That e'er my captain fought on foot,
And I stood looking on.
You two be earls," said Witherington,
"And I a squire alone;
I'll do the best that do I may,
While I have power to stand;
While I have power to wield my sword
I'll fight with heart and hand."
Our English archers bent their bows,--
Their hearts were good and true;
At the first flight of arrows sent,
Full fourscore Scots they slew,
Yet stays Earl Douglas on the bent,
As chieftain stout and good;
As valiant captain, all unmoved,
The shock he firmly stood.
His host he parted had in three,
As leader ware and tried;
And soon his spearmen on their foes
Bore down on every side.
Throughout the English archery
They dealt full many a wound;
But still our valiant Englishmen
All firmly kept their ground.
And throwing straight their bows away,
They grasped their swords so bright;
And now sharp blows, a heavy shower,
On shields and helmets light.
They closed full fast on every side,--
No slackness there was found;
And many a gallant gentleman
Lay gasping on the ground.
In truth, it was a grief to see
How each one chose his spear,
And how the blood out of their breasts
Did gush like water clear.
At last these two stout earls did meet;
Like captains of great might,
Like lions wode, they laid on lode,
And made a cruel fight.
They fought until they both did sweat,
With swords of tempered steel,
Until the blood, like drops of rain,
They trickling down did feel.
"Yield thee, Lord Percy," Douglas said,
"In faith I will thee bring
Where thou shalt high advanc�d be
By James, our Scottish king.
"Thy ransom I will freely give,
And this report of thee,--
Thou art the most courageous knight
That ever I did see."
"No, Douglas," saith Earl Percy then,
"Thy proffer I do scorn;
I will not yield to any Scot
That ever yet was born."
With that there came an arrow keen
Out of an English bow,
Which struck Earl Douglas to the heart,--
A deep and deadly blow;
Who never spake more words than these:
"Fight on, my merry men all;
For why, my life is at an end;
Lord Percy sees my fall."
Then leaving life, Earl Percy took
The dead man by the hand;
And said, "Earl Douglas, for thy life
Would I had lost my land.
"In truth, my very heart doth bleed
With sorrow for thy sake;
For sure a more redoubted knight
Mischance did never take."
A knight amongst the Scots there was
Who saw Earl Douglas die,
Who straight in wrath did vow revenge
Upon the Earl Percy.
Sir Hugh Montgomery was he called,
Who, with a spear full bright,
Well mounted on a gallant steed,
Ran fiercely through the fight;
And past the English archers all,
Without a dread or fear;
And through Earl Percy's body then
He thrust his hateful spear;
With such vehement force and might
He did his body gore,
The staff ran through the other side
A large cloth-yard and more.
So thus did both these nobles die.
Whose courage none could stain.
An English archer then perceived
The noble earl was slain.
He had a bow bent in his hand,
Made of a trusty tree;
An arrow of a cloth-yard long
To the hard head haled he.
Against Sir Hugh Montgomery
So right the shaft he set,
The gray goose wing that was thereon
In his heart's blood was wet.
This fight did last from break of day
Till setting of the sun;
For when they rung the evening-bell
The battle scarce was done.
With stout Earl Percy there was slain
Sir John of Egerton,
Sir Robert Ratcliff, and Sir John,
Sir James, that bold baron.
And with Sir George and stout Sir James,
Both knights of good account,
Good Sir Ralph Raby there was slain,
Whose prowess did surmount.
For Witherington my heart is woe
That ever he slain should be,
For when his legs were hewn in two,
He knelt and fought on his knee.
And with Earl Douglas there was slain
Sir Hugh Mountgomery,
Sir Charles Murray, that from the field
One foot would never flee.
Sir Charles Murray of Ratcliff, too,--
His sister's son was he;
Sir David Lamb, so well esteemed,
But saved he could not be.
And the Lord Maxwell in like case
Did with Earl Douglas die:
Of twenty hundred Scottish spears,
Scarce fifty-five did fly.
Of fifteen hundred Englishmen,
Went home but fifty-three;
The rest in Chevy-Chase were slain,
Under the greenwood tree.
Next day did many widows come,
Their husbands to bewail;
They washed their wounds in brinish tears,
But all would not prevail.
Their bodies, bathed in purple blood,
They bore with them away;
They kissed them dead a thousand times,
Ere they were clad in clay.
The news was brought to Edinburgh,
Where Scotland's king did reign,
That brave Earl Douglas suddenly
Was with an arrow slain:
"O heavy news," King James did say;
"Scotland can witness be
I have not any captain more
Of such account as he."
Like tidings to King Henry came
Within as short a space,
That Percy of Northumberland
Was slain in Chevy-Chase:
"Now God be with him," said our King,
"Since 'twill no better be;
I trust I have within my realm
Five hundred as good as he:
"Yet shall not Scots or Scotland say
But I will vengeance take;
I'll be reveng�d on them all
For brave Earl Percy's sake."
This vow full well the King performed
After at Humbledown;
In one day fifty knights were slain
With lords of high renown;
And of the rest, of small account,
Did many hundreds die:
Thus endeth the hunting of Chevy-Chase,
Made by the Earl Percy.
God save the king, and bless this land,
With plenty, joy and peace;
And grant, henceforth, that foul debate
'Twixt noblemen may cease.
THE ATTACK ON THE CASTLE
[Footnote: _The Attack on the Castle_ is from Scott's novel of
_By_ SIR WALTER SCOTT
A moment of peril is often also a moment of open-hearted kindness and
affection. We are thrown off our guard by the general agitation of our
feelings, and betray the intensity of those which, at more tranquil
periods, our prudence at least conceals, if it cannot altogether
suppress them. In finding herself once more by the side of Ivanhoe,
Rebecca was astonished at the keen sensation of pleasure which she
experienced, even at a time when all around them both was danger, if
not despair. As she felt his pulse, and inquired after his health,
there was a softness in her touch and in her accents, implying a kinder
interest than she would herself have been pleased to have voluntarily
expressed. Her voice faltered and her hand trembled, and it was only
the cold question of Ivanhoe, "Is it you, gentle maiden?" which
recalled her to herself, and reminded her the sensations which she felt
were not and could not be mutual. A sigh escaped, but it was scarce
audible; and the questions which she asked the knight concerning his
state of health were put in the tone of calm friendship. Ivanhoe
answered her hastily that he was, in point of health, as well, and
better, than he could have expected. "Thanks," he said, "dear Rebecca,
to thy helpful skill."
"He calls me _dear Rebecca_," said the maiden to herself, "but it is in
the cold and careless tone which ill suits the word. His war-horse, his
hunting hound, are dearer to him than the despised Jewess!"
"My mind, gentle maiden," continued Ivanhoe, "is more disturbed by
anxiety than my body with pain. From the speeches of these men who were
my warders just now, I learn that I am a prisoner, and, if I judge
aright of the loud hoarse voice which even now despatched them hence on
some military duty, I am in the castle of Front-de-Boeuf. If so, how
will this end, or how can I protect Rowena and my father?"
"He names not the Jew or Jewess," said Rebecca, internally; "yet what
is our portion in him, and how justly am I punished by Heaven for
letting my thoughts dwell upon him!" She hastened after this brief
self-accusation to give Ivanhoe what information she could; but it
amounted only to this, that the Templar Bois-Guilbert and the Baron
Front-de-Boeuf were commanders within the castle; that it was
beleaguered from without, but by whom she knew not.
The noise within the castle, occasioned by the defensive preparations,
which had been considerable for some time, now increased into tenfold
bustle and clamor. The heavy yet hasty step of the men-at-arms
traversed the battlements, or resounded on the narrow and winding
passages and stairs which led to the various bartizans [Footnote: A
bartizan is a sort of small overhanging balcony, built for defense or
for lookout.] and points of defense. The voices of the knights were
heard, animating their followers, or directing means of defense, while
their commands were often drowned in the clashing of armor, or the
clamorous shouts of those whom they addressed. Tremendous as these
sounds were, and yet more terrible from the awful event which they
presaged, there was a sublimity mixed with them which Rebecca's high-
toned mind could feel even in that moment of terror. Her eye kindled,
although the blood fled from her cheeks; and there was a strong mixture
of fear, and of a thrilling sense of the sublime, as she repeated,
half-whispering to herself, half-speaking to her companion, the sacred
text--"The quiver rattleth--the glittering spear and the shield--the
noise of the captains and the shouting!"
[Illustration: IVANHOE WAS IMPATIENT AT HIS INACTIVITY.]
But Ivanhoe was like the war-horse of that sublime passage, glowing
with impatience at his inactivity, and with his ardent desire to mingle
in the affray of which these sounds were the introduction. "If I could
but drag myself," he said, "to yonder window, that I might see how this
brave game is like to go! If I had but bow to shoot a shaft, or battle-
axe to strike were it but a single blow for our deliverance! It is
vain--it is vain--I am alike nerveless and weaponless."
"Fret not thyself, noble knight," answered Rebecca, "the sounds have
ceased of a sudden; it may be they join not battle."
"Thou knowest naught of it," said Ivanhoe, impatiently; "this dead
pause only shows that the men are at their posts on the walls and
expecting an instant attack; what we have heard is but the distant
muttering of the storm; it will burst anon in all its fury. Could I but
reach yonder window!"
"Thou wilt but injure thyself by the attempt, noble knight," replied
his attendant. Observing his solicitude, she added, "I myself will
stand at the lattice, and describe as I can what passes without."
"You must not--you shall not!" exclaimed Ivanhoe. "Each lattice, each
aperture, will soon be a mark for the archers; some random shaft--"
"It shall be welcome!" murmured Rebecca, as with firm pace she ascended
two or three steps, which led to the window of which they spoke.
"Rebecca--dear Rebecca!" exclaimed Ivanhoe, "this is no maiden's
pastime; do not expose thyself to wounds and death, and render me
forever miserable for having given the occasion; at least, cover
thyself with yonder ancient buckler, and show as little of your person
at the lattice as may be."
Following with wonderful promptitude the directions of Ivanhoe, and
availing herself of the protection of the large ancient shield, which
she placed against the lower part of the window, Rebecca, with
tolerable security to herself, could witness part of what was passing
without the castle, and report to Ivanhoe the preparations which the
assailants were making for the storm. Indeed, the situation which she
thus obtained was peculiarly favorable for this purpose, because being
placed on an angle of the main building, Rebecca could not only see
what passed beyond the precincts of the castle, but also commanded a
view of the outwork likely to be the first object of the meditated
assault. It was an exterior fortification of no great height or
strength, intended to protect the postern-gate, through which Cedric
had been recently dismissed by Front-de-Boeuf. The castle moat divided
this species of barbican [Footnote: A barbican is a tower or outwork
built to defend the entry to a castle or fortification.] from the rest
of the fortress, so that, in case of its being taken, it was easy to
cut off the communication with the main building, by withdrawing the
temporary bridge. In the outwork was a sallyport [Footnote: A sallyport
is an underground passage from the outer to the inner fortifications.]
corresponding to the postern of the castle, and the whole was
surrounded by a strong palisade. Rebecca could observe, from the number
of men placed for the defence of this post, that the besieged
entertained apprehensions for its safety; and from the mustering of the
assailants in a direction nearly opposite to the outwork, it seemed no
less plain that it had been selected as a vulnerable point of attack.
These appearances she hastily communicated to Ivanhoe, and added, "The
skirts of the wood seem lined with archers, although only a few are
advanced from its dark shadow."
"Under what banner?" asked Ivanhoe.
"Under no ensign of war which I can observe," answered Rebecca.
"A singular novelty," muttered the knight, "to advance to storm such a
castle without pennon or banner displayed! Seest thou who they be that
act as leaders?"
"A knight, clad in sable armor, is the most conspicuous," said the
Jewess; "he alone is armed from head to heel, and seems to assume the
direction of all around him."
"What device does he bear on his shield?" replied Ivanhoe.
"Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the
"A fetterlock and shackle-bolt [Footnote: These are terms in heraldry.
Ivanhoe means that, since he is a prisoner, fetters and shackles would
be good device for his shield.] azure," said Ivanhoe; "I know not who
may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine own. Canst
thou not see the motto?"
"Scarce the device itself at this distance," replied Rebecca; "but when
the sun glances fair upon his shield it shows as I tell you."
"Seem there no other leaders?" exclaimed the anxious inquirer.
"None of mark and distinction that I can behold from this station,"
said Rebecca; "but doubtless the other side of the castle is also
assailed. They appear even now preparing to advance--God of Zion
protect us! What a dreadful sight! Those who advance first bear huge
shields and defences made of plank; the others follow, bending their
bows as they come on. They raise their bows! God of Moses, forgive the
creatures Thou hast made!"
Her description was here suddenly interrupted by the signal for
assault, which was given by the blast of a shrill bugle, and at once
answered by a flourish of the Norman trumpets from the battlements,
which, mingled with the deep and hollow clang of the nakers (a species
of kettledrum), retorted in notes of defiance the challenge of the
enemy. The shouts of both parties augmented the fearful din, the
assailants crying, "Saint George for merry England!" [Footnote: Saint
George is the patron saint of England.] and the Normans answering them
with loud cries of _"En avant De Bracy! Beau-seant! 'Beau-seant!
Front-de-Boeuf a la rescousse!"_ [Footnote: _En avant De Bracy_ means
_Forward, De Bracy_. _Beau-seant_ is the name given to the black and
white standard of the Knights Templars. The word was used as a battle
cry. _A la rescousse_ means _To the rescue_.] according to the war-cries
of their different commanders.
It was not, however, by clamor that the contest was to be decided, and
the desperate efforts of the assailants were met by an equally vigorous
defence on the part of the besieged. The archers, trained by their
woodland pastimes to the most effective use of the long-bow, shot, to
use the appropriate phrase of the time, so "wholly together," that no
point at which a defender could show the least part of his person
escaped their cloth-yard shafts. [Footnote: _Cloth-yard_ was the name
given to an old measure used for cloth, which differed somewhat from the
modern yard. A _cloth-yard_ shaft was an arrow a yard long.] By this
heavy discharge, which continued as thick and sharp as hail, while,
notwithstanding, every arrow had its individual aim, and flew by scores
together against each embrasure and opening in the parapets, as well as
at every window where a defender either occasionally had post, or might
be suspected to be stationed--by this sustained discharge, two or three
of the garrison were slain and several others wounded. But confident in
their armor of proof, and in the cover which their situation afforded,
the followers of Front-de-Boeuf and his allies showed an obstinacy in
defence proportioned to the fury of the attack, and replied with the
discharge of their large cross-bows, as well as with their long-bows,
slings, and other missile weapons, to the close and continued shower of
arrows; and, as the assailants were necessarily but indifferently
protected, did considerably more damage than they received at their
hand. The whizzing of shafts and of missiles on both sides was only
interrupted by the shouts which arose when either side inflicted or
sustained some notable loss.
"And I must lie here like a bed-ridden monk," exclaimed Ivanhoe, "while
the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by the hand of
others! Look from the window once again, kind maiden, but beware that
you are not marked by the archers beneath. Look out once more, and tell
me if they yet advance to the storm."
With patient courage, strengthened by the interval which she had
employed in mental devotion, Rebecca again took post at the lattice,
sheltering herself, however, so as not to be visible from beneath.
"What dost thou see, Rebecca?" again demanded the wounded knight.
"Nothing but the cloud of arrows flying so thick as to dazzle mine
eyes, and to hide the bowmen who shoot them."
"That cannot endure," said Ivanhoe; "if they press not right on to
carry the castle by pure force of arms, the archery may avail but
little against stone walls and bulwarks. Look for the Knight of the
Fetterlock, fair Rebecca, and see how he bears himself; for as the
leader is, so will his followers be."
"I see him not," said Rebecca.
"Foul craven!" exclaimed Ivanhoe; "does he blench from the helm when
the wind blows highest?"
"He blenches not!--he blenches not!" said Rebecca, "I see him now, he
leads a body of men close under the outer barrier of the barbican. They
pull down the piles and palisades; they hew down the barriers with
axes. His high black plume floats abroad over the throng, like a raven
over the field of the slain. They have made a breach in the barriers--
they rush in--they are thrust back! Front-de-Boeuf heads the defenders;
I see his gigantic form above the press. They throng again to the
breach, and the pass is disputed hand to hand, and man to man. God of
Jacob! it is the meeting of two fierce tides--the conflict of two
oceans moved by adverse winds!"
She turned her head from the lattice, as if unable longer to endure a
sight so terrible.
"Look forth again, Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, mistaking the cause of her
retiring; "the archery must in some degree have ceased, since they are
now fighting hand to hand. Look again, there is now less danger."
Rebecca again looked forth, and almost immediately exclaimed, "Holy
prophets of the law! Front-de-Boeuf and the Black Knight fight hand to
hand on the breach, amid the roar of their followers, who watch the
progress of the strife, Heaven strike with the cause of the oppressed
and of the captive!" She then uttered a loud shriek, and exclaimed, "He
is down!--he is down!"
[Illustration: THE BLACK KNIGHT AT THE GATE OF THE CASTLE]
"Who is down?" cried Ivanhoe; "for our dear Lady's sake, tell me which
"The Black Knight," answered Rebecca, faintly; then instantly again
shouted with joyful eagerness--"But no--but no! the name of the Lord of
Hosts be blessed! he is on foot again, and fights as if there were
twenty men's strength in his single arm. His sword is broken--he
snatches an axe from a yeoman--he presses Front-de-Boeuf with blow on
blow. The giant stoops and totters like an oak under the steel of the
woodman--he falls--he falls!"
"Front-de-Boeuf?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"Front-de-Boeuf," answered the Jewess. "His men rush to the rescue,
headed by the haughty Templar; their united force compels the champion
to pause. They drag Front-de-Boeuf within the walls."
"The assailants have won the barriers, have they not?" said Ivanhoe.
"They have--they have!" exclaimed Rebecca; and they press the besieged
hard upon the outer wall; some plant ladders, some swarm like bees, and
endeavor to ascend upon the shoulders of each other; down go stones,
beams, and trunks of trees upon their heads, and as fast as they bear
the wounded to the rear, fresh men supply their places in the assault.
Great God! hast Thou given men Thine own image that it should be thus
cruelly defaced by the hands of their brethren!"
"Think not of that," said Ivanhoe; "this is no time for such thoughts.
Who yield? Who push their way?"
"The ladders are thrown down," replied Rebecca, shuddering; "the
soldiers lie grovelling under them like crushed reptiles. The besieged
have the better."
"Saint George strike for us!" exclaimed the knight; "do the false
yeomen give way?"
"No!" exclaimed Rebecca, "they bear themselves right yeomanly. The
Black Knight approaches the postern with his huge axe; the thundering
blows which he deals, you may hear them above all the din and shouts of
the battle. Stones and beams are hailed down on the bold champion: he
regards them no more than if they were thistle-down or feathers!"
"By Saint John of Acre," [Footnote: _Saint John of Acre_ was the
full name of the Syrian town usually known as _Acre_. During the
Crusade which the Christians of Europe undertook to recover the Holy
Land from the Saracens, Acre was one of the chief points of contest. It
was held first by one party, then by the other. Owing to this
importance, it was natural that its name should come to be used as an
exclamation.] said Ivanhoe, raising himself joyfully on his couch,
"methought there was but one man in England that might do such a deed!"
"The postern gate shakes," continued Rebecca--"it crashes--it is
splintered by his blows--they rush in--the outwork is won. Oh God! they
hurl the defenders from the battlements--they throw them into the moat.
O men, if ye be indeed men, spare them that can resist no longer!"
"That ridge--the ridge which communicates with the castle--have they
won that pass?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"No," replied Rebecca; "the Templar has destroyed the plank on which
they crossed; few of the defenders escaped with him into the castle--
the shrieks and cries which you hear tell the fate of the others. Alas!
I see it is still more difficult to look upon victory than upon
"What do they now, maiden?" said Ivanhoe; look forth yet again--this is
no time to faint at bloodshed."
"It is over for the time," answered Rebecca; "our friends strengthen
themselves within the outwork which they have mastered, and it affords
them so good a shelter from the foemen's shot that the garrison only
bestow a few bolts on it from interval to interval, as if rather to
disquiet than effectually to injure them."
"Our friends," said Ivanhoe, "will surely not abandon an enterprise so
gloriously begun and so happily attained. O no! I will put my faith in
the good knight whose axe hath rent heart-of-oak and bars of iron.
Singular," he again muttered to himself, "if there be two who can do a
deed of such derring-do![Footnote: _Derring-do_ is an old word for
daring, or _warlike deed_] A fetterlock, and a shackle-bolt on a
field sable--what may that mean? Seest thou nought else, Rebecca, by
which the Black Knight may be distinguished?"
"Nothing," said the Jewess; "all about him is black as the wing of the
night raven. Nothing can I spy that can mark him further; but having
once seen him put forth his strength in battle, methinks I could know
him again among a thousand warriors. He rushes to the fray as if he
were summoned to a banquet. There is more than mere strength--there
seems as if the whole soul and spirit of the champion were given to
every blow which he deals upon his enemies. God assoilzie [Footnote:
_Assoilzie_ is an old word for _absolve_] him of the sin of bloodshed!
It is fearful, yet magnificent, to behold how the arm and heart of one
man can triumph over hundreds."
"Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, "thou hast painted a hero; surely they rest
but to refresh their force, or to provide the means of crossing the
moat. Under such a leader as thou hast spoken this knight to be, there
are no craven fears, no cold-blooded delays, no yielding up a gallant
emprize, since the difficulties which render it arduous render it also
glorious. I swear by the honor of my house--I vow by the name of my
bright lady-love, I would endure ten years' captivity to fight one day
by that good knight's side in such a quarrel as this!"
"Alas!" said Rebecca, leaving her station at the window, and
approaching the couch of the wounded knight, "this impatient yearning
after action--this struggling with and repining at your present
weakness, will not fail to injure your returning health. How couldst
thou hope to inflict wounds on others, ere that be healed which thou
thyself hast received?"
"Rebecca," he replied, "thou knowest not how impossible it is for one
trained to actions of chivalry to remain passive as a priest, or a
woman, when they are acting deeds of honor around him. The love of
battle is the food upon which we live--the dust of the _m�l�e_
[Footnote: _M�l�e_ is a French word meaning a _hand-to-hand
conflict_.] is the breath of our nostrils! We live not--we wish not
to live--longer than while we are victorious and renowned. Such,
maiden, are the laws of chivalry to which we are sworn, and to which we
offer all that we hold dear."
"Alas!" said the fair Jewess, "and what is it, valiant knight, save an
offering of sacrifice to a demon of vain glory, and a passing through
the fire to Moloch? [Footnote: _Moloch_ was the fire-god of the ancient
Ammonites, to whom human sacrifices were offered.] What remains to you
as the prize of all the blood you have spilled, of all the travail and
pain you have endured, of all the tears which your deeds have caused,
when death hath broken the strong man's spear, and overtaken the speed
of his war-horse?"
"What remains?" cried Ivanhoe. "Glory, maiden--glory! which gilds our
sepulchre and embalms our name."
"Glory!" continued Rebecca; "alas! is the rusted nail which hangs as a
hatchment over the champion's dim and mouldering tomb, is the defaced
sculpture of the inscription which the ignorant monk can hardly read to
the inquiring pilgrim--are these sufficient rewards for the sacrifice
of every kindly affection, for a life spent miserably that ye may make
others miserable? Or is there such virtue in the rude rhymes of a
wandering bard, that domestic love, kindly affection, peace and
happiness, are so wildly bartered, to become the hero of those ballads
which vagabond minstrels sing to drunken churls over their evening
"By the soul of Hereward!" replied the knight, impatiently, "thou
speakest, maiden, of thou knowest not what. Thou wouldst quench the
pure light of chivalry, which alone distinguishes the noble from the
base, the gentle knight from the churl and the savage; which rates our
life far, far beneath the pitch of our honor, raises us victorious over
pain, toil, and suffering, and teaches us to fear no evil but disgrace.
Thou art no Christian, Rebecca; and to thee are unknown those high
feelings which swell the bosom of a noble maiden when her lover hath
done some deed of emprize which sanctions his flame. Chivalry! Why,
maiden, she is the nurse of pure and high affection, the stay of the
oppressed, the redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the
tyrant. Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds
the best protection in her lance and her sword."
"I am, indeed," said Rebecca, "sprung from a race whose courage was
distinguished in the defence of their own land, but who warred not,
even while yet a nation, save at the command of the Deity, or in
defending their country from oppression. The sound of the trumpet wakes
Judah no longer, and her despised children are now but the unresisting
victims of hostile and military oppression. Well hast thou spoken, Sir
Knight: until the God of Jacob shall raise up for His chosen people a
second Gideon, or a new Maccabeus, it ill beseemeth the Jewish damsel
to speak of battle or of war."
The high-minded maiden concluded the argument in a tone of sorrow,
which deeply expressed her sense of the degradation of her people,
imbittered perhaps by the idea that Ivanhoe considered her as one not
entitled to interfere in a case of honor, and incapable of entertaining
or expressing sentiments of honor and generosity.
"How little he knows this bosom," she said, "to imagine that cowardice
or meanness of soul must needs be its guests, because I have censured
the fantastic chivalry. Would to Heaven that the shedding of mine own
blood, drop by drop, could redeem the captivity of Judah! Nay, would to
God it could avail to set free my father, and this his benefactor, from
the chains of the oppressor. The proud Christian should then see
whether the daughter of God's chosen people dared not to die as bravely
as the finest Nazarene maiden, that boasts her descent from some petty
chieftain of the rude and frozen north!"
She then looked toward the couch of the wounded knight.
"He sleeps," she said; "nature exhausted by suffrance, and the waste of
spirits, his wearied frame embraces the first moment of temporary
relaxation to sink into slumber."
She wrapped herself closely in her veil, and sat down at a distance
from the couch of the wounded knight, with her back turned toward it,
fortifying, or endeavoring to fortify, her mind against the impending
During the interval of quiet which followed the first success of the
besiegers, while the one party was preparing to pursue their advantage
and the other to strengthen their means of defence, the Templar and De
Bracy held brief counsel together in the hall of the castle.
"Where is Front-de-Boeuf?" said the latter, who had superintended the
defence of the fortress on the other side; "men say he hath been
"He lives," said the Templar, coolly--"Lives as yet; but had he worn
the bull's head of which he bears the name, [Footnote: _Front-de-Boeuf_
means _Bull's Head_.] and ten plates of iron to fence it withal, he must
have gone down before yonder fatal axe. Yet a few hours, and Front-de-
Boeuf is with his fathers--a powerful limb lopped off Prince John's
enterprise." [Footnote: Prince John was scheming to usurp the throne of
England while King Richard, his brother, was absent on one of the
"And a brave addition to the kingdom of Satan," said De Bracy; "this
comes of reviling saints and angels, and ordering images of holy things
and holy men to be flung down on the heads of these rascaille yeomen."
"Go to, thou art a fool," said the Templar; "thy superstition is upon a
level with Front-de-Boeuf's want of faith; neither of you can render a
reason for your belief or unbelief. Let us think of making good the
castle. How fought these villain yeomen on thy side?"
"Like fiends incarnate," said De Bracy. "They swarmed close up to the
walls, headed, as I think, by the knave who won the prize at the
archery, for I knew his horn and baldric. Had I not been armed in
proof, the villain had marked me down seven times with as little
remorse as if I had been a buck in season. He told every rivet on my
armor with a cloth-yard shaft, that rapped against my ribs with as
little compunction as if my bones had been of iron. But that I wore a
shirt of Spanish mail under my platecoat, I had been fairly sped."
"But you maintained your post?" said the Templar. "We lost the outwork
on our part."
"That is a shrewd loss," said De Bracy; "the knaves will find cover
there to assault the castle more closely, and may, if not well watched,
gain some unguarded corner of a tower, or some forgotten window, and so
break in upon us. Our numbers are too few for the defence of every
point, and the men complain that they can nowhere show themselves, but
they are the mark for as many arrows as a parish-butt on a holyday
even. Front-de-Boeuf is dying too, so we shall receive no more aid from
his bull's head and brutal strength. How think you, Sir Brian, were we
not better make a virtue of necessity, and compound with the rogues by
delivering up our prisoners?"
"How!" exclaimed the Templar; "deliver up our prisoners, and stand an
object alike of ridicule and execration, as the doughty warriors who
dared by a night attack to possess themselves of the persons of a party
of defenceless travelers, yet could not make good a strong castle
against a vagabond troop of outlaws, led by swineherds, jesters, and
the very refuse of mankind? Shame on thy counsel, Maurice de Bracy! The
ruins of this castle shall bury both my body and my shame, ere I
consent to such base and dishonorable composition."
"Let us to the walls, then," said De Bracy, carelessly; "that man never
breathed, be he Turk or Templar, who held life at lighter rate than I
do. But I trust there is no dishonor in wishing I had here some two
scores of my gallant troop of Free Companions? Oh, my brave lances! if
ye knew but how hard your captain were this day bested, how soon should
I see my banner at the head of your clump of spears! And how short
while would these rabble villains stand to endure your encounter!"
"Wish for whom thou wilt," said the Templar, "but let us make what
defence we can with the soldiers who remain. They are chiefly Front-de-
Boeuf's followers, hated by the English for a thousand acts of
insolence and oppression."
"The better," said De Bracy; "the rugged slaves will defend themselves
to the last drop of their blood, ere they encounter the revenge of the
peasants without. Let us up and be doing, then, Brian de Bois-Guilbert;
and, live or die, thou shalt see Maurice de Bracy bear himself this day
as a gentleman of blood and lineage."
"To the walls!" answered the Templar; and they both ascended the
battlements to do all that skill could dictate, and manhood accomplish,
in defence of the place. They readily agreed that the point of greatest
danger was that opposite to the outwork of which the assailants had
possessed themselves. The castle, indeed, was divided from that
barbican by the moat, and it was impossible that the besiegers could
assail the postern door, with which the outwork corresponded, without
surmounting that obstacle; but it was the opinion both of the Templar
and De Bracy that the besiegers, if governed by the same policy their
leader had already displayed, would endeavor, by a formidable assault,
to draw the chief part of the defenders' observation to this point, and
take measures to avail themselves of every negligence which might take
place in the defence elsewhere. To guard against such an evil, their
numbers only permitted the knights to place sentinels from space to
space along the walls in communication with each other, who might give
the alarm whenever danger was threatened. Meanwhile, they agreed that
De Bracy should command the defense of the postern, and the Templar
should keep with him a score of men or thereabouts as a body of
reserve, ready to hasten to any other point which might be suddenly
threatened. The loss of the barbican had also this unfortunate effect,
that notwithstanding the superior height of the castle walls, the
besieged could not see from them, with the same precision as before,
the operations of the enemy; for some straggling underwood approached
so near the sallyport of the outwork that the assailants might
introduce into it whatever force they thought proper, not only under
cover, but even without the knowledge of the defenders. Utterly
uncertain, therefore, upon what point the storm was to burst, De Bracy
and his companion were under the necessity of providing against every
possible contingency, and their followers, however brave, experienced
the anxious dejection of mind incident to men inclosed by enemies who
possessed the power of choosing their time and mode of attack.
Meanwhile, the lord of the beleaguered and endangered castle lay upon a
bed of bodily pain and mental agony. He had not the usual resource of
bigots in that superstitious period, most of whom were wont to atone
for the crimes they were guilty of by liberality to the church,
stupefying by this means their terrors by the idea of atonement and
forgiveness; and although the refuge which success thus purchased was
no more like to the peace of mind which follows on sincere repentance
than the turbid stupefaction procured by opium resembles healthy and
natural slumbers, it was still a state of mind preferable to the
agonies of awakened remorse. But among the vices of Front-de-Boeuf, a
hard and griping man, avarice was predominant; and he preferred setting
church and churchmen at defiance to purchasing from them pardon and
absolution at the price of treasure and of manors. Nor did the Templar,
an infidel of another stamp, justly characterize his associate when he
said Front-de-Boeuf could assign no cause for his unbelief and contempt
for the established faith; for the baron would have alleged that the
church sold her wares too dear, that the spiritual freedom which she
put up to sale was only to be bought, like that of the chief captain of
Jerusalem, "with a great sum," and Front-de-Boeuf preferred denying the
virtue of the medicine to paying the expense of the physician.
But the moment had now arrived when earth and all his treasures were
gliding from before his eyes, and when the savage baron's heart, though
hard as a nether millstone, became appalled as he gazed forward into
the waste darkness of futurity. The fever of his body aided the
impatience and agony of his mind, and his death-bed exhibited a mixture
of the newly-awakened feelings of horror combating with the fixed and
inveterate obstinacy of his disposition--a fearful state of mind, only
to be equalled in those tremendous regions where there are complaints
without hope, remorse without repentance, a dreadful sense of present
agony, and a presentiment that it cannot cease or be diminished!
"Where be these dog-priests now," growled the baron, "who set such
price on their ghostly mummery? I have heard old men talk of prayer--
prayer by their own voice--such need not to court or to bribe the false
priest. But I--I dare not!"
"Lives Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," said a broken and shrill voice close
by his bedside, "to say there is that which he dares not?"
The evil conscience and the shaken nerves of Front-de-Boeuf heard, in
this strange interruption to his soliloquy, the voice of one of those
demons who, as the superstition of the times believed, beset the beds
of dying men, to distract their thoughts, and turn them from the
meditations which concerned their eternal welfare.
He shuddered and drew himself together; but, instantly summoning up his
wonted resolution, he exclaimed, "Who is there? what art thou, that
darest to echo my words in a tone like that of the night raven? Come
before my couch that I may see thee."
"I am thine evil angel, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," replied the voice.
"Let me behold thee then in thy bodily shape, if thou be'st indeed a
fiend," replied the dying knight; "think not that I will blench from
thee. By the eternal dungeon, could I but grapple with these horrors
that hover round me as I have done with mortal danger, Heaven or Hell
should never say that I shrunk from the conflict!"
"Think on thy sins, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," said the almost unearthly
voice--"on rebellion, on rapine, on murder! Who stirred up the
licentious John to war against his grayheaded father--against his
"Be thou fiend, priest, or devil," replied Front-de-Boeuf, "thou liest
in thy throat! Not I stirred John to rebellion--not I alone; there were
fifty knights and barons, the flower of the midland counties, better
men never laid lance in rest. And must I answer for the fault done by
fifty? False fiend, I defy thee! Depart, and haunt my couch no more.
Let me die in peace if thou be mortal; if thou be demon, thy time is
not yet come."
"In peace thou shalt NOT die," repeated the voice; "even in death shalt
thou think on thy murders--on the groans which this castle has echoed--
on the blood that is engrained in its floors!"
"Thou canst not shake me by thy petty malice," answered Front-de-Boeuf,
with a ghastly and constrained laugh. "The infidel Jew--it was merit
with Heaven to deal with him as I did, else wherefore are men canonized
who dip their hands in the blood of Saracens? The Saxon porkers whom I
have slain--they were the foes of my country, and of my lineage, and of
my liege lord. Ho! ho! thou seest there is no crevice in my coat of
plate. Art thou fled? art thou silenced?"
"No, foul parricide!" replied the voice; "think of thy father!--think
of his death!--think of his banquet-room flooded with his gore, and
that poured forth by the hand of a son!"
"Ha!" answered the Baron, after a long pause, "an thou knowest that,
thou art indeed the Author of Evil, and as omniscient as the monks call
thee! That secret I deemed locked in my own breast, and in that of one
besides--the temptress, the partaker of my guilt. Go, leave me, fiend!
and seek the Saxon witch Ulrica, who alone could tell thee what she and
I alone witnessed. Go, I say, to her, who washed the wounds, and
straighted the corpse, and gave to the slain man the outward show of
one parted in time and in the course of nature. Go to her; she was my
temptress, the foul provoker, the more foul rewarder, of the deed; let
her, as well as I, taste of the tortures which anticipate Hell!"
"She already tastes them," said Ulrica, stepping before the couch of
Front-de-Boeuf; "she hath long drunken of this cup, and its bitterness
is now sweetened to see that thou dost partake it. Grind not thy teeth,
Front-de-Boeuf--roll not thy eyes--clench not thy hand, nor shake it at
me with that gesture of menace! The hand which, like that of thy
renowned ancestor who gained thy name, could have broken with one
stroke the skull of a mountain-bull, is now unnerved and powerless as
"Vile, murderous hag!" replied Front-de-Boeuf--"detestable screech-owl!
it is then thou who art come to exult over the ruins thou hast assisted
to lay low?"
"Ay, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," answered she, "It is Ulrica!--it is the
daughter of the murdered Torquil Wolfganger!--it is the sister of his
slaughtered sons! it is she who demands of thee, and of thy father's
house, father and kindred, name and fame--all that she has lost by the
name of Front-de-Boeuf! Think of my wrongs, Front-de-Boeuf, and answer
me if I speak not truth. Thou hast been my evil angel, and I will be
thine: I will dog thee till the very instant of dissolution!"
"Detestable fury!" exclaimed Front-de-Boeuf, "that moment shalt thou
never witness. Ho! Giles, Clement, and Eustace! Saint Maur and Stephen!
seize this damned witch, and hurl her from the battlements headlong;
she has betrayed us to the Saxon! Ho! Saint Maur! Clement! false-
hearted knaves, where tarry ye?"
"Call on them again, valiant baron," said the hag, with a smile of
grisly mockery; "summon thy vassals around thee, doom them that loiter
to the scourge and the dungeon. But know, mighty chief," she continued,
suddenly changing her tone, "thou shalt have neither answer, nor aid,
nor obedience at their hands. Listen to these horrid sounds," for the
din of the recommenced assault and defence now rung fearfully loud from
the battlements of the castle; "in that warcry is the downfall of thy
house. The blood-cemented fabric of Front-de-Boeuf's power totters to
the foundation, and before the foes he most despised! The Saxon,
Reginald!--the scorned Saxon assails thy walls! Why liest thou here,
like a worn-out hind, when the Saxon storms thy place of strength? Thou
shalt die no soldier's death, but perish like the fox in his den, when
the peasants have set fire to the cover around it."
"Hateful hag! thou liest!" exclaimed Front-de-Boeuf; "my followers bear
them bravely--my walls are strong and high--my comrades in arms fear
not a whole host of Saxons. The war-cry of the Templar and of the Free
Companions rises high over the conflict! And by mine honor, when we
kindle the blazing beacon for joy of our defence, it shall consume thee
body and bones."
"Hold thy belief," replied Ulrica, "till the proof reach thee. But no!"
she said, interrupting herself, "thou shalt know even now the doom
which all thy power, strength and courage is unable to avoid, though it
is prepared for thee by this feeble hand. Markest thou the smouldering
and suffocating vapor which already eddies in sable folds through the
chamber? Didst thou think it was but the darkening of thy bursting
eyes, the difficulty of thy cumbered breathing? No! Front-de-Boeuf,
there is another cause. Rememberest thou the magazine of fuel that is
stored beneath these apartments?"
"Woman!" he exclaimed with fury, "thou hast not set fire to it? By
heaven, thou hast, and the castle is in flames!"
"They are fast rising at least," said Ulrica, with frightful composure,
"and a signal shall soon wave to warn the besiegers to press hard upon
those who would extinguish them. Farewell, Front-de-Boeuf! But know, if
it will give thee comfort to know it, that Ulrica is bound to the same
dark coast with thyself, the companion of thy punishment as the
companion of thy guilt. And now, parricide, farewell for ever! May each
stone of this vaulted roof find a tongue to echo that title into thine
[Illustration: ULRICA LOCKS THE DOOR ]
So saying, she left the apartment; and Front-de-Boeuf could hear the
crash of the ponderous keys as she locked and double-locked the door
behind her, thus cutting off the most slender chance of escape. In the
extremity of agony, he shouted upon his servants and allies--"Stephen
and Saint Maur! Clement and Giles! I burn here unaided! To the rescue--
to the rescue, brave Bois-Guilbert, valiant De Bracy! It is Front-de-
Boeuf who calls! It is your master, ye traitor squires! Your ally--your
brother in arms, ye perjured and faithless knights! All the curses due
to traitors upon your recreant heads, do you abandon me to perish thus
miserably! They hear me not--they cannot hear me--my voice is lost in
the din of battle. The smoke rolls thicker and thicker, the fire has
caught upon the floor below. O, for one draught of the air of heaven,
were it to be purchased by instant annihilation! The red fire flashes
through the thick smoke! the demon marches against me under the banner
of his own element. Foul spirit, avoid! I go not with thee without my
comrades--all, all are thine that garrison these walls. Thinkest thou
Front-de-Boeuf will be singled out to go alone? No; the infidel
Templar, De Bracy, Ulrica, the men who aided my enterprises, the dog
Saxons and accursed Jews who are my prisoners--all, all shall attend
me--a goodly fellowship as ever took the downward road."
But it were impious to trace any further the picture of the blasphemer
and parricide's death-bed.
When the barbican was carried, the Sable Knight sent notice of the
happy event to Locksley, the archer, requesting him at the same time to
keep such a strict observation on the castle as might prevent the
defenders from combining their force for a sudden sally, and recovering
the outwork which they had lost. This the knight was chiefly desirous
of avoiding, conscious that the men whom he led, being hasty and
untrained volunteers, imperfectly armed and unaccustomed to discipline,
must, upon any sudden attack, fight at great disadvantage with the
veteran soldiers of the Norman knights, who were well provided with
arms both defensive and offensive; and who, to match the zeal and high
spirit of the besiegers, had all the confidence which arises from
perfect discipline and the habitual use of weapons.
The knight employed the interval in causing to be constructed a sort of
floating bridge, or long raft, by means of which he hoped to cross the
moat, in despite of the resistance of the enemy. This was a work of
some time, which the leaders the less regretted, as it gave Ulrica
leisure to execute her plan of diversion in their favor, whatever that
When the raft was completed, the Black Knight addressed the besiegers:
"It avails not waiting here longer, my friends; the sun is descending
to the west, and I have that upon my hands which will not permit me to
tarry with you another day. Besides, it will be a marvel if the
horsemen come not upon us from York, unless we speedily accomplish our
purpose. Wherefore, one of ye go to Locksley, and bid him commence a
discharge of arrows on the opposite side of the castle, and move
forward as if about to assault it; and you, true English hearts, stand
by me, and be ready to thrust the raft endlong over the moat whenever
the postern on our side is thrown open. Follow me boldly across, and