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The Talisman by Sir Walter Scott

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can be foiled, when such is Heaven's pleasure. Wherefore,
beware, O Ilderim! for know that, were there not a twinkle in
the star of thy nativity which promises for thee something that
is good and gracious in Heaven's good time, we two had not parted
till I had torn asunder the throat which so lately trilled forth

"Hamako," said the Saracen, without any appearance of resenting
the violent language and yet more violent assault to which he had
been subjected, "I pray thee, good Hamako, to beware how thou
dost again urge thy privilege over far; for though, as a good
Moslem, I respect those whom Heaven hath deprived of ordinary
reason, in order to endow them with the spirit of prophecy, yet I
like not other men's hands on the bridle of my horse, neither
upon my own person. Speak, therefore, what thou wilt, secure of
any resentment from me; but gather so much sense as to apprehend
that if thou shalt again proffer me any violence, I will strike
thy shagged head from thy meagre shoulders.--and to thee, friend
Kenneth," he added, as he remounted his steed, "I must needs say,
that in a companion through the desert, I love friendly deeds
better than fair words. Of the last thou hast given me enough;
but it had been better to have aided me more speedily in my
struggle with this Hamako, who had well-nigh taken my life in his

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

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

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

"Thy gibe is no answer, brother Kenneth," said the Saracen; "for
know, that had my assailant been in very deed the Prince of
Darkness, thou wert bound not the less to enter into combat with
him in thy comrade's behalf. Know, also, that whatever there may
be of foul or of fiendish about the Hamako belongs more to your
lineage than to mine--this Hamako being, in truth, the anchorite
whom thou art come hither to visit."

"This!" said Sir Kenneth, looking at the athletic yet wasted
figure before him--"this! Thou mockest, Saracen--this cannot be
the venerable Theodorick!"

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

"I am Theodorick of Engaddi," he said--"I am the walker of the
desert--I am friend of the Cross, and flail of all infidels,
heretics, and devil-worshippers. Avoid ye, avoid ye! Down with
Mahound, Termagaunt, and all their adherents!"--So saying, he
pulled from under his shaggy garment a sort of flail or jointed
club, bound with iron, which he brandished round his head with
singular dexterity,

"Thou seest thy saint," said the Saracen, laughing, for the first
time, at the unmitigated astonishment with which Sir Kenneth
looked on the wild gestures and heard the wayward muttering of
Theodorick, who, after swinging his flail in every direction,
apparently quite reckless whether it encountered the head of
either of his companions, finally showed his own strength, and
the soundness of the weapon, by striking into fragments a large
stone which lay near him.

"This is a madman," said Sir Kenneth.

"Not the worse saint," returned the Moslem, speaking according to
the well-known Eastern belief, that madmen are under the
influence of immediate inspiration. "Know, Christian, that when
one eye is extinguished, the other becomes more keen; when one
hand is cut off, the other becomes more powerful; so, when our
reason in human things is disturbed or destroyed, our view
heavenward becomes more acute and perfect."

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

He closed his song by a short race, and ended that again by three
forward bounds, which would have done him great credit in a
gymnastic academy, but became his character of hermit so
indifferently that the Scottish Knight was altogether confounded
and bewildered.

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

In fact, the task was a difficult one, for though the reverend
guide stopped from time to time, and waved his hand, as if to
encourage them to come on, yet, well acquainted with all the
winding dells and passes of the desert, and gifted with uncommon
activity, which, perhaps, an unsettled state of mind kept in
constant exercise, he led the knights through chasms and along
footpaths where even the light-armed Saracen, with his well-trained barb, was in considerable risk, and
where the iron-sheathed European and his over-burdened steed found themselves in
such imminent peril as the rider would gladly have exchanged for
the dangers of a general action. Glad he was when, at length,
after this wild race, he beheld the holy man who had led it
standing in front of a cavern, with a large torch in his hand,
composed of a piece of wood dipped in bitumen, which cast a broad
and flickering light, and emitted a strong sulphureous smell.

Undeterred by the stifling vapour, the knight threw himself from
his horse and entered the cavern, which afforded small appearance
of accommodation. The cell was divided into two parts, in the
outward of which were an altar of stone and a crucifix made of
reeds: this served the anchorite for his chapel. On one side of
this outward cave the Christian knight, though not without
scruple, arising from religious reverence to the objects around,
fastened up his horse, and arranged him for the night, in
imitation of the Saracen, who gave him to understand that such
was the custom of the place. The hermit, meanwhile, was busied
putting his inner apartment in order to receive his guests, and
there they soon joined him. At the bottom of the outer cave, a
small aperture, closed with a door of rough plank, led into the
sleeping apartment of the hermit, which was more commodious. The
floor had been brought to a rough level by the labour of the
inhabitant, and then strewed with white sand, which he daily
sprinkled with water from a small fountain which bubbled out of
the rock in one corner, affording in that stifling climate,
refreshment alike to the ear and the taste. Mattresses, wrought
of twisted flags, lay by the side of the cell; the sides, like
the floor, had been roughly brought to shape, and several herbs
and flowers were hung around them. Two waxen torches, which the
hermit lighted, gave a cheerful air to the place, which was
rendered agreeable by its fragrance and coolness.

There were implements of labour in one corner of the apartment,
in another was a niche for a rude statue of the Virgin. A table
and two chairs showed that they must be the handiwork of the
anchorite, being different in their form from Oriental
accommodations. The former was covered, not only with reeds and
pulse, but also with dried flesh, which Theodorick assiduously
placed in such arrangement as should invite the appetite of his
guests. This appearance of courtesy, though mute, and expressed
by gestures only, seemed to Sir Kenneth something entirely
irreconcilable with his former wild and violent demeanour. The
movements of the hermit were now become composed, and apparently
it was only a sense of religious humiliation which prevented his
features, emaciated as they were by his austere mode of life,
from being majestic and noble. He trod his cell as one who
seemed born to rule over men, but who had abdicated his empire to
become the servant of Heaven. Still, it must be allowed that his
gigantic size, the length of his unshaven locks and beard, and
the fire of a deep-set and wild eye were rather attributes of a
soldier than of a recluse.

Even the Saracen seemed to regard the anchorite with some
veneration, while he was thus employed, and he whispered in a low
tone to Sir Kenneth, "The Hamako is now in his better mind, but
he will not speak until we have eaten--such is his vow."

It was in silence, accordingly, that Theodorick motioned to the
Scot to take his place on one of the low chairs, while Sheerkohf
placed himself, after the custom of his nation, upon a cushion of
mats. The hermit then held up both hands, as if blessing the
refreshment which he had placed before his guests, and they
proceeded to eat in silence as profound as his own. To the
Saracen this gravity was natural; and the Christian imitated his
taciturnity, while he employed his thoughts on the singularity of
his own situation, and the contrast betwixt the wild, furious
gesticulations, loud cries, and fierce actions of Theodorick,
when they first met him, and the demure, solemn, decorous
assiduity with which he now performed the duties of hospitality.

When their meal was ended, the hermit, who had not himself eaten
a morsel, removed the fragments from the table, and placing
before the Saracen a pitcher of sherbet, assigned to the Scot a
flask of wine.

"Drink," he said, "my children"--they were the first words he had
spoken--"the gifts of God are to be enjoyed, when the Giver is

Having said this, he retired to the outward cell, probably for
performance of his devotions, and left his guests together in the
inner apartment; when Sir Kenneth endeavoured, by various
questions, to draw from Sheerkohf what that Emir knew concerning
his host. He was interested by more than mere curiosity in these
inquiries. Difficult as it was to reconcile the outrageous
demeanour of the recluse at his first appearance with his present
humble and placid behaviour, it seemed yet more impossible to
think it consistent with the high consideration in which,
according to what Sir Kenneth had learned, this hermit was held
by the most enlightened divines of the Christian world.
Theodorick, the hermit of Engaddi, had, in that character, been
the correspondent of popes and councils; to whom his letters,
full of eloquent fervour, had described the miseries imposed by
the unbelievers upon the Latin Christians in the Holy Land, in
colours scarce inferior to those employed at the Council of
Clermont by the Hermit Peter, when he preached the first Crusade.
To find, in a person so reverend and so much revered, the frantic
gestures of a mad fakir, induced the Christian knight to pause
ere he could resolve to communicate to him certain important
matters, which he had in charge from some of the leaders of the

It had been a main object of Sir Kenneth's pilgrimage, attempted
by a route so unusual, to make such communications; but what he
had that night seen induced him to pause and reflect ere he
proceeded to the execution of his commission. From the Emir he
could not extract much information, but the general tenor was as
follows:--That, as he had heard, the hermit had been once a brave
and valiant soldier, wise in council and fortunate in battle,
which last he could easily believe from the great strength and
agility which he had often seen him display; that he had appeared
at Jerusalem in the character not of a pilgrim, but in that of
one who had devoted himself to dwell for the remainder of his
life in the Holy Land. Shortly afterwards, he fixed his
residence amid the scenes of desolation where they now found him,
respected by the Latins for his austere devotion, and by the
Turks and Arabs on account of the symptoms of insanity which he
displayed, and which they ascribed to inspiration. It was from
them he had the name of Hamako, which expresses such a character
in the Turkish language. Sheerkohf himself seemed at a loss how
to rank their host. He had been, he said, a wise man, and could
often for many hours together speak lessons of virtue or wisdom,
without the slightest appearance of inaccuracy. At other times
he was wild and violent, but never before had he seen him so
mischievously disposed as he had that day appeared to be. His
rage was chiefly provoked by any affront to his religion; and
there was a story of some wandering Arabs, who had insulted his
worship and defaced his altar, and whom he had on that account
attacked and slain with the short flail which he carried with him
in lieu of all other weapons. This incident had made a great
noise, and it was as much the fear of the hermit's iron flail as
regard for his character as a Hamako which caused the roving
tribes to respect his dwelling and his chapel. His fame had
spread so far that Saladin had issued particular orders that he
should be spared and protected. He himself, and other Moslem
lords of rank, had visited the cell more than once, partly from
curiosity, partly that they expected from a man so learned as the
Christian Hamako some insight into the secrets of futurity. "He
had," continued the Saracen, "a rashid, or observatory, of great
height, contrived to view the heavenly bodies, and particularly
the planetary system--by whose movements and influences, as both
Christian and Moslem believed, the course of human events was
regulated, and might be predicted."

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

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

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

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

Both warriors replied "Amen!" and, arising from the table,
prepared to betake themselves to the couches, which their host
indicated by waving his hand, as, making a reverence to each, he
again withdrew from the apartment.

The Knight of the Leopard then disarmed himself of his heavy
panoply, his Saracen companion kindly assisting him to undo his
buckler and clasps, until he remained in the close dress of
chamois leather, which knights and men-at-arms used to wear under
their harness. The Saracen, if he had admired the strength of
his adversary when sheathed in steel, was now no less struck with
the accuracy of proportion displayed in his nervous and well-compacted figure. The knight, on the other
hand, as, in exchange
of courtesy, he assisted the Saracen to disrobe himself of his
upper garments, that he might sleep with more convenience, was,
on his side, at a loss to conceive how such slender proportions
and slimness of figure could be reconciled with the vigour he had
displayed in personal contest.

Each warrior prayed ere he addressed himself to his place of
rest. The Moslem turned towards his KEBLAH, the point to which
the prayer of each follower of the Prophet was to be addressed,
and murmured his heathen orisons; while the Christian,
withdrawing from the contamination of the infidel's
neighbourhood, placed his huge cross-handled sword upright, and
kneeling before it as the sign of salvation, told his rosary with
a devotion which was enhanced by the recollection of the scenes
through which he had passed, and the dangers from which he had
been rescued, in the course of the day. Both warriors, worn by
toil and travel, were soon fast asleep, each on his separate


Kenneth the Scot was uncertain how long his senses had been lost
in profound repose, when he was roused to recollection by a sense
of oppression on his chest, which at first suggested a flirting
dream of struggling with a powerful opponent, and at length
recalled him fully to his senses. He was about to demand who was
there, when, opening his eyes, he beheld the figure of the
anchorite, wild and savage-looking as we have described him,
standing by his bedside, and pressing his right hand upon his
breast, while he held a small silver lamp in the other.

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

These words he spoke in the French language, and not in the
lingua franca, or compound of Eastern and European dialects,
which had hitherto been used amongst them.

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

Sir Kenneth arose, and took his sword.

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

The knight deposited his sword by the bedside as before, and,
armed only with his dagger, from which in this perilous country
he never parted, prepared to attend his mysterious host.

The hermit then moved slowly forwards, and was followed by the
knight, still under some uncertainty whether the dark form which
glided on before to show him the path was not, in fact, the
creation of a disturbed dream. They passed, like shadows, into
the outer apartment, without disturbing the paynim Emir, who lay
still buried in repose. Before the cross and altar, in the
outward room, a lamp was still burning, a missal was displayed,
and on the floor lay a discipline, or penitential scourge of
small cord and wire, the lashes of which were recently stained
with blood--a token, no doubt, of the severe penance of the
recluse. Here Theodorick kneeled down, and pointed to the knight
to take his place beside him upon the sharp flints, which seemed
placed for the purpose of rendering the posture of reverential
devotion as uneasy as possible. He read many prayers of the
Catholic Church, and chanted, in a low but earnest voice, three
of the penitential psalms. These last he intermixed with sighs,
and tears, and convulsive throbs, which bore witness how deeply
he felt the divine poetry which he recited. The Scottish knight
assisted with profound sincerity at these acts of devotion, his
opinion of his host beginning, in the meantime, to be so much
changed, that he doubted whether, from the severity of his
penance and the ardour of his prayers, he ought not to regard him
as a saint; and when they arose from the ground, he stood with
reverence before him, as a pupil before an honoured master. The
hermit was, on his side, silent and abstracted for the space of a
few minutes.

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

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

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

He paused again for a moment, and turning to the Scottish knight,
said, in a firmer tone of voice, "You bring me a greeting from
Richard of England?"

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

"Your token?" demanded the recluse.

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

"It is right," said the hermit, while he paused. "I know you
well; but the sentinel upon his post--and mine is an important
one--challenges friend as well as foe,"

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

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

The attitude of the Emir did indeed convey the idea of profound
repose. One arm, flung across his body, as he lay with his face
half turned to the wall, concealed, with its loose and long
sleeve, the greater part of his face; but the high forehead was
yet visible. Its nerves, which during his waking hours were so
uncommonly active, were now motionless, as if the face had been
composed of dark marble, and his long silken eyelashes closed
over his piercing and hawklike eyes. The open and relaxed hand,
and the deep, regular, and soft breathing, all gave tokens of the
most profound repose. The slumberer formed a singular group
along with the tall forms of the hermit in his shaggy dress of
goat-skins, bearing the lamp, and the knight in his close
leathern coat--the former with an austere expression of ascetic
gloom, the latter with anxious curiosity deeply impressed on his
manly features.

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

So saying, and making the knight a sign to follow him, the hermit
went towards the altar, and passing behind it, pressed a spring,
which, opening without noise, showed a small iron door wrought in
the side of the cavern, so as to be almost imperceptible, unless
upon the most severe scrutiny. The hermit, ere he ventured fully
to open the door, dropped some oil on the hinges, which the lamp
supplied. A small staircase, hewn in the rock, was discovered,
when the iron door was at length completely opened.

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

Without reply, the knight hastily muffled the recluse's head in
the veil, and the latter began to ascend the staircase as one too
much accustomed to the way to require the use of light, while at
the same time he held the lamp to the Scot, who followed him for
many steps up the narrow ascent. At length they rested in a
small vault of irregular form, in one nook of which the staircase
terminated, while in another corner a corresponding stair was
seen to continue the ascent. In a third angle was a Gothic door,
very rudely ornamented with the usual attributes of clustered
columns and carving, and defended by a wicket, strongly guarded
with iron, and studded with large nails. To this last point the
hermit directed his steps, which seemed to falter as he
approached it.

"Put off thy shoes," he said to his attendant; "the ground on
which thou standest is holy. Banish from thy innermost heart
each profane and carnal thought, for to harbour such while in
this place were a deadly impiety."

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

When he entered the apartment in which this brilliant lustre was
displayed, he perceived that the light proceeded from a
combination of silver lamps, fed with purest oil, and sending
forth the richest odours, hanging by silver chains from the roof
of a small Gothic chapel, hewn, like most part of the hermit's
singular mansion, out of the sound and solid rock. But whereas,
in every other place which Sir Kenneth had seen, the labour
employed upon the rock had been of the simplest and coarsest
description, it had in this chapel employed the invention and the
chisels of the most able architects. The groined roofs rose from
six columns on each side, carved with the rarest skill; and the
manner in which the crossings of the concave arches were bound
together, as it were, with appropriate ornaments, were all in the
finest tone of the architecture of the age. Corresponding to the
line of pillars, there were on each side six richly-wrought
niches, each of which contained the image of one of the twelve

At the upper and eastern end of the chapel stood the altar,
behind which a very rich curtain of Persian silk, embroidered
deeply with gold, covered a recess, containing, unquestionably,
some image or relic of no ordinary sanctity, in honour of which
this singular place of worship had been erected, Under the
persuasion that this must be the case, the knight advanced to the
shrine, and kneeling down before it, repeated his devotions with
fervency, during which his attention was disturbed by the curtain
being suddenly raised, or rather pulled aside, how or by whom he
saw not; but in the niche which was thus disclosed he beheld a
cabinet of silver and ebony, with a double folding-door, the
whole formed into the miniature resemblance of a Gothic church.

As he gazed with anxious curiosity on the shrine, the two
folding-doors also flew open, discovering a large piece of wood,
on which were blazoned the words, VERA CRUX; at the same time a
choir of female voices sung GLORIA PATRI. The instant the strain
had ceased, the shrine was closed, and the curtain again drawn,
and the knight who knelt at the altar might now continue his
devotions undisturbed, in honour of the holy relic which had been
just disclosed to his view. He did this under the profound
impression of one who had witnessed, with his own eyes, an awful
evidence of the truth of his religion; and it was some time ere,
concluding his orisons, he arose, and ventured to look around him
for the hermit, who had guided him to this sacred and mysterious
spot. He beheld him, his head still muffled in the veil which he
had himself wrapped around it, crouching, like a rated hound,
upon the threshold of the chapel; but, apparently, without
venturing to cross it--the holiest reverence, the most
penitential remorse, was expressed by his posture, which seemed
that of a man borne down and crushed to the earth by the burden
of his inward feelings. It seemed to the Scot that only the
sense of the deepest penitence, remorse, and humiliation could
have thus prostrated a frame so strong and a spirit so fiery.

He approached him as if to speak; but the recluse anticipated his
purpose, murmuring in stifled tones, from beneath the fold in
which his head was muffled, and which sounded like a voice
proceeding from the cerements of a corpse,--"Abide, abide--happy
thou that mayest--the vision is not yet ended." So saying, he
reared himself from the ground, drew back from the threshold on
which he had hitherto lain prostrate, and closed the door of the
chapel, which, secured by a spring bolt within, the snap of which
resounded through the place, appeared so much like a part of the
living rock from which the cavern was hewn, that Kenneth could
hardly discern where the aperture had been. He was now alone in
the lighted chapel which contained the relic to which he had
lately rendered his homage, without other arms than his dagger,
or other companion than his pious thoughts and dauntless courage.

Uncertain what was next to happen, but resolved to abide the
course of events, Sir Kenneth paced the solitary chapel till
about the time of the earliest cock-crowing. At this dead
season, when night and morning met together, he heard, but from
what quarter he could not discover, the sound of such a small
silver bell as is rung at the elevation of the host in the
ceremony, or sacrifice, as it has been called, of the mass. The
hour and the place rendered the sound fearfully solemn, and, bold
as he was, the knight withdrew himself into the farther nook of
the chapel, at the end opposite to the altar, in order to
observe, without interruption, the consequences of this
unexpected signal.

He did not wait long ere the silken curtain was again withdrawn,
and the relic again presented to his view. As he sunk
reverentially on his knee, he heard the sound of the lauds, or
earliest office of the Catholic Church, sung by female voices,
which united together in the performance as they had done in the
former service. The knight was soon aware that the voices were
no longer stationary in the distance, but approached the chapel
and became louder, when a door, imperceptible when closed, like
that by which he had himself entered, opened on the other side of
the vault, and gave the tones of the choir more room to swell
along the ribbed arches of the roof.

The knight fixed his eyes on the opening with breathless anxiety,
and, continuing to kneel in the attitude of devotion which the
place and scene required, expected the consequence of these
preparations. A procession appeared about to issue from the
door. First, four beautiful boys, whose arms, necks, and legs
were bare, showing the bronze complexion of the East, and
contrasting with the snow-white tunics which they wore, entered
the chapel by two and two. The first pair bore censers, which
they swung from side to side, adding double fragrance to the
odours with which the chapel already was impregnated. The second
pair scattered flowers.

After these followed, in due and majestic order, the females who
composed the choir--six, who from their black scapularies, and
black veils over their white garments, appeared to be professed
nuns of the order of Mount Carmel; and as many whose veils, being
white, argued them to be novices, or occasional inhabitants in
the cloister, who were not as yet bound to it by vows. The
former held in their hands large rosaries, while the younger and
lighter figures who followed carried each a chaplet of red and
white roses. They moved in procession around the chapel, without
appearing to take the slightest notice of Kenneth, although
passing so near him that their robes almost touched him, while
they continued to sing. The knight doubted not that he was in
one of those cloisters where the noble Christian maidens had
formerly openly devoted themselves to the services of the church.
Most of them had been suppressed since the Mohammedans had
reconquered Palestine, but many, purchasing connivance by
presents, or receiving it from the clemency or contempt of the
victors, still continued to observe in private the ritual to
which their vows had consecrated them. Yet, though Kenneth knew
this to be the case, the solemnity of the place and hour, the
surprise at the sudden appearance of these votaresses, and the
visionary manner in which they moved past him, had such influence
on his imagination that he could scarce conceive that the fair
procession which he beheld was formed of creatures of this world,
so much did they resemble a choir of supernatural beings,
rendering homage to the universal object of adoration.

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

But as a second time, in surrounding the chapel, they passed the
spot on which he kneeled, one of the white-stoled maidens, as she
glided by him, detached from the chaplet which she carried a
rosebud, which dropped from her fingers, perhaps unconsciously,
on the foot of Sir Kenneth. The knight started as if a dart had
suddenly struck his person; for, when the mind is wound up to a
high pitch of feeling and expectation, the slightest incident, if
unexpected, gives fire to the train which imagination has already
laid. But he suppressed his emotion, recollecting how easily an
incident so indifferent might have happened, and that it was only
the uniform monotony of the movement of the choristers which made
the incident in the slightest degree remarkable.

Still, while the procession, for the third time, surrounded the
chapel, the thoughts and the eyes of Kenneth followed exclusively
the one among the novices who had dropped the rosebud. Her step,
her face, her form were so completely assimilated to the rest of
the choristers that it was impossible to perceive the least marks
of individuality; and yet Kenneth's heart throbbed like a bird
that would burst from its cage, as if to assure him, by its
sympathetic suggestions, that the female who held the right file
on the second rank of the novices was dearer to him, not only
than all the rest that were present, but than the whole sex
besides. The romantic passion of love, as it was cherished, and
indeed enjoined, by the rules of chivalry, associated well with
the no less romantic feelings of devotion; and they might be said
much more to enhance than to counteract each other. It was,
therefore, with a glow of expectation that had something even of
a religious character that Sir Kenneth, his sensations thrilling
from his heart to the ends of his fingers, expected some second
sign of the presence of one who, he strongly fancied, had already
bestowed on him the first. Short as the space was during which
the procession again completed a third perambulation of the
chapel, it seemed an eternity to Kenneth. At length the form
which he had watched with such devoted attention drew nigh.
There was no difference betwixt that shrouded figure and the
others, with whom it moved in concert and in unison, until, just
as she passed for the third time the kneeling Crusader, a part of
a little and well-proportioned hand, so beautifully formed as to
give the highest idea of the perfect proportions of the form to
which it belonged, stole through the folds of the gauze, like a
moonbeam through the fleecy cloud of a summer night, and again a
rosebud lay at the feet of the Knight of the Leopard.

This second intimation could not be accidental---it could not be
fortuitous, the resemblance of that half-seen but beautiful
female hand with one which his lips had once touched, and, while
they touched it, had internally sworn allegiance to the lovely
owner. Had further proof been wanting, there was the glimmer of
that matchless ruby ring on that snow-white finger, whose
invaluable worth Kenneth would yet have prized less than the
slightest sign which that finger could have made; and, veiled
too, as she was, he might see, by chance or by favour, a stray
curl of the dark tresses, each hair of which was dearer to him a
hundred times than a chain of massive gold. It was the lady of
his love! But that she should he here--in the savage and
sequestered desert--among vestals, who rendered themselves
habitants of wilds and of caverns, that they might perform in
secret those Christian rites which they dared not assist in
openly; that this should be so, in truth and in reality, seemed
too incredible--it must be a dream--a delusive trance of the
imagination. While these thoughts passed through the mind of
Kenneth, the same passage, by which the procession had entered
the chapel, received them on their return. The young sacristans,
the sable nuns, vanished successively through the open door. At
length she from whom he had received this double intimation
passed also; yet, in passing, turned her head, slightly indeed,
but perceptibly, towards the place where he remained fixed as an
image. He marked the last wave of her veil--it was gone--and a
darkness sunk upon his soul, scarce less palpable than that which
almost immediately enveloped his external sense; for the last
chorister had no sooner crossed the threshold of the door than it
shut with a loud sound, and at the same instant the voices of the
choir were silent, the lights of the chapel were at once
extinguished, and Sir Kenneth remained solitary and in total
darkness. But to Kenneth, solitude, and darkness, and the
uncertainty of his mysterious situation were as nothing--he
thought not of them--cared not for them--cared for nought in the
world save the flitting vision which had just glided past him,
and the tokens of her favour which she had bestowed. To grope on
the floor for the buds which she had dropped--to press them to
his lips, to his bosom, now alternately, now together--to rivet
his lips to the cold stones on which, as near as he could judge,
she had so lately stepped--to play all the extravagances which
strong affection suggests and vindicates to those who yield
themselves up to it, were but the tokens of passionate love
common to all ages. But it was peculiar to the times of chivalry
that, in his wildest rapture, the knight imagined of no attempt
to follow or to trace the object of such romantic attachment;
that he thought of her as of a deity, who, having deigned to show
herself for an instant to her devoted worshipper, had again
returned to the darkness of her sanctuary--or as an influential
planet, which, having darted in some auspicious minute one
favourable ray, wrapped itself again in its veil of mist. The
motions of the lady of his love were to him those of a superior
being, who was to move without watch or control, rejoice him by
her appearance, or depress him by her absence, animate him by her
kindness, or drive him to despair by her cruelty--all at her own
free will, and without other importunity or remonstrance than
that expressed by the most devoted services of the heart and
sword of the champion, whose sole object in life was to fulfil
her commands, and, by the splendour of his own achievements, to
exalt her fame.

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

The moments when she listened to the praises of her lover became
gradually more and more dear to the high-born Edith, relieving
the flattery with which her ear was weary, and presenting to her
a subject of secret contemplation, more worthy, as he seemed by
general report, than those who surpassed him in rank and in the
gifts of fortune. As her attention became constantly, though
cautiously, fixed on Sir Kenneth, she grew more and more
convinced of his personal devotion to herself and more and more
certain in her mind that in Kenneth of Scotland she beheld the
fated knight doomed to share with her through weal and woe--and
the prospect looked gloomy and dangerous--the passionate
attachment to which the poets of the age ascribed such universal
dominion, and which its manners and morals placed nearly on the
same rank with devotion itself.

Let us not disguise the truth from our readers. When Edith
became aware of the state of her own sentiments, chivalrous as
were her sentiments, becoming a maiden not distant from the
throne of England--gratified as her pride must have been with the
mute though unceasing homage rendered to her by the knight whom
she had distinguished, there were moments when the feelings of
the woman, loving and beloved, murmured against the restraints of
state and form by which she was surrounded, and when she almost
blamed the timidity of her lover, who seemed resolved not to
infringe them. The etiquette, to use a modern phrase, of birth
and rank, had drawn around her a magical circle, beyond which Sir
Kenneth might indeed bow and gaze, but within which he could no
more pass than an evoked spirit can transgress the boundaries
prescribed by the rod of a powerful enchanter. The thought
involuntarily pressed on her that she herself must venture, were
it but the point of her fairy foot, beyond the prescribed
boundary, if she ever hoped to give a lover so reserved and
bashful an opportunity of so slight a favour as but to salute her
shoe-tie. There was an example--the noted precedent of the
"King's daughter of Hungary," who thus generously encouraged the
"squire of low degree;" and Edith, though of kingly blood, was no
king's daughter, any more than her lover was of low degree
--fortune had put no such extreme barrier in obstacle to their
affections. Something, however, within the maiden's bosom--that
modest pride which throws fetters even on love itself forbade
her, notwithstanding the superiority of her condition, to make
those advances, which, in every case, delicacy assigns to the
other sex; above all, Sir Kenneth was a knight so gentle and
honourable, so highly accomplished, as her imagination at least
suggested, together with the strictest feelings of what was due
to himself and to her, that however constrained her attitude
might be while receiving his adorations, like the image of some
deity, who is neither supposed to feel nor to reply to the homage
of its votaries, still the idol feared that to step prematurely
from her pedestal would be to degrade herself in the eyes of her
devoted worshipper.

Yet the devout adorer of an actual idol can even discover signs
of approbation in the rigid and immovable features of a marble
image; and it is no wonder that something, which could be as
favourably interpreted, glanced from the bright eye of the lovely
Edith, whose beauty, indeed, consisted rather more in that very
power of expression, than an absolute regularity of contour or
brilliancy of complexion. Some slight marks of distinction had
escaped from her, notwithstanding her own jealous vigilance,
else how could Sir Kenneth have so readily and so undoubtingly
recognized the lovely hand, of which scarce two fingers were
visible from under the veil, or how could he have rested so
thoroughly assured that two flowers, successively dropped on the
spot, were intended as a recognition on the part of his lady-love? By what train of observation--by what
secret signs, looks,
or gestures--by what instinctive freemasonry of love, this degree
of intelligence came to subsist between Edith and her lover, we
cannot attempt to trace; for we are old, and such slight vestiges
of affection, quickly discovered by younger eyes, defy the power
of ours. Enough that such affection did subsist between parties
who had never even spoken to one another--though, on the side of
Edith, it was checked by a deep sense of the difficulties and
dangers which must necessarily attend the further progress of
their attachment; and upon that of the knight by a thousand
doubts and fears lest he had overestimated the slight tokens of
the lady's notice, varied, as they necessarily were, by long
intervals of apparent coldness, during which either the fear of
exciting the observation of others, and thus drawing danger upon
her lover, or that of sinking in his esteem by seeming too
willing to be won, made her behave with indifference, and as if
unobservant of his presence.

This narrative, tedious perhaps, but which the story renders
necessary, may serve to explain the state of intelligence, if it
deserves so strong a name, betwixt the lovers, when Edith's
unexpected appearance in the chapel produced so powerful an
effect on the feelings of her knight.


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

The most profound silence, the deepest darkness, continued to
brood for more than an hour over the chapel in which we left the
Knight of the Leopard still kneeling, alternately expressing
thanks to Heaven and gratitude to his lady for the boon which had
been vouchsafed to him. His own safety, his own destiny, for
which he was at all times little anxious, had not now the weight
of a grain of dust in his reflections. He was in the
neighbourhood of Lady Edith; he had received tokens of her grace;
he was in a place hallowed by relics of the most awful sanctity.
A Christian soldier, a devoted lover, could fear nothing, think
of nothing, but his duty to Heaven and his devoir to his lady.

At the lapse of the space of time which we have noticed, a shrill
whistle, like that with which a falconer calls his hawk, was
heard to ring sharply through the vaulted chapel. it was a sound
ill suited to the place, and reminded Sir Kenneth how necessary
it was he should be upon his guard. He started from his knee,
and laid his hand upon his poniard. A creaking sound, as of a
screw or pulleys, succeeded, and a light streaming upwards, as
from an opening in the floor, showed that a trap-door had been
raised or depressed. In less than a minute a long, skinny arm,
partly naked, partly clothed in a sleeve of red samite, arose out
of the aperture, holding a lamp as high as it could stretch
upwards, and the figure to which the arm belonged ascended step
by step to the level of the chapel floor. The form and face of
the being who thus presented himself were those of a frightful
dwarf, with a large head, a cap fantastically adorned with three
peacock feathers, a dress of red samite, the richness of which
rendered his ugliness more conspicuous, distinguished by gold
bracelets and armlets, and a white silk sash, in which he wore a
gold-hilted dagger. This singular figure had in his left hand a
kind of broom. So soon as he had stepped from the aperture
through which he arose, he stood still, and, as if to show
himself more distinctly, moved the lamp which he held slowly over
his face and person, successively illuminating his wild and
fantastic features, and his misshapen but nervous limbs. Though
disproportioned in person, the dwarf was not so distorted as to
argue any want of strength or activity. While Sir Kenneth gazed
on this disagreeable object, the popular creed occurred to his
remembrance concerning the gnomes or earthly spirits which make
their abode in the caverns of the earth; and so much did this
figure correspond with ideas he had formed of their appearance,
that he looked on it with disgust, mingled not indeed with fear,
but that sort of awe which the presence of a supernatural
creature may infuse into the most steady bosom.

The dwarf again whistled, and summoned from beneath a companion.
This second figure ascended in the same manner as the first; but
it was a female arm in this second instance which upheld the lamp
from the subterranean vault out of which these presentments
arose, and it was a female form, much resembling the first in
shape and proportions, which slowly emerged from the floor. Her
dress was also of red samite, fantastically cut and flounced, as
if she had been dressed for some exhibition of mimes or jugglers;
and with the same minuteness which her predecessor had exhibited,
she passed the lamp over her face and person, which seemed to
rival the male's in ugliness. But with all this most
unfavourable exterior, there was one trait in the features of
both which argued alertness and intelligence in the most uncommon
degree. This arose from the brilliancy of their eyes, which,
deep-set beneath black and shaggy brows, gleamed with a lustre
which, like that in the eye of the toad, seemed to make some
amends for the extreme ugliness of countenance and person.

Sir Kenneth remained as if spellbound, while this unlovely pair,
moving round the chapel close to each other, appeared to perform
the duty of sweeping it, like menials; but as they used only one
hand, the floor was not much benefited by the exercise, which
they plied with such oddity of gestures and manner as befitted
their bizarre and fantastic appearance. When they approached
near to the knight in the course of their occupation, they ceased
to use their brooms; and placing themselves side by side,
directly opposite to Sir Kenneth, they again slowly shifted the
lights which they held, so as to allow him distinctly to survey
features which were not rendered more agreeable by being brought
nearer, and to observe the extreme quickness and keenness with
which their black and glittering eyes flashed back the light of
the lamps. They then turned the gleam of both lights upon the
knight, and having accurately surveyed him, turned their faces to
each other, and set up a loud, yelling laugh, which resounded in
his ears. The sound was so ghastly that Sir Kenneth started at
hearing it, and hastily demanded, in the name of God, who they
were who profaned that holy place with such antic gestures and
elritch exclamations.

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

"And I am Guenevra, his lady and his love," replied the female,
in tones which, being shriller, were yet wilder than those of her

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

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

"Thou liest!" answered the female, interrupting her companion,
in tones yet shriller than his own; "I am none of thy houris, and
thou art no such infidel trash as the Mohammed of whom thou
speakest. May my curse rest upon his coffin! I tell thee, thou
ass of Issachar, thou art King Arthur of Britain, whom the
fairies stole away from the field of Avalon; and I am Dame
Guenevra, famed for her beauty."

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

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

The dwarfs had no sooner heard the command than, gibbering in
discordant whispers to each other, they blew out their lights at
once, and left the knight in utter darkness, which, when the
pattering of their retiring feet had died away, was soon
accompanied by its fittest companion, total silence.

The knight felt the departure of these unfortunate creatures a
relief. He could not, from their language, manners, and
appearance, doubt that they belonged to the degraded class of
beings whom deformity of person and weakness of intellect
recommended to the painful situation of appendages to great
families, where their personal appearance and imbecility were
food for merriment to the household. Superior in no respect to
the ideas and manners of his time, the Scottish knight might, at
another period, have been much amused by the mummery of these
poor effigies of humanity; but now their appearance,
gesticulations, and language broke the train of deep and solemn
feeling with which he was impressed, and he rejoiced in the
disappearance of the unhappy objects.

A few minutes after they had retired, the door at which he had
entered opened slowly, and remaining ajar, discovered a faint
light arising from a lantern placed upon the threshold. Its
doubtful and wavering gleam showed a dark form reclined beside
the entrance, but without its precincts, which, on approaching it
more nearly, he recognized to be the hermit, crouching in the
same humble posture in which he had at first laid himself down,
and which, doubtless, he had retained during the whole time of
his guest's continuing in the chapel.

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

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

workings of curiosity. He led the way, with considerable
accuracy, through the various secret passages and stairs by which
they had ascended, until at length they found themselves in the
outward cell of the hermit's cavern.

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

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

Respecting the profound agitation with which this was spoken, the
knight retired into the inner cell; but casting back his eye as
he left the exterior grotto, he beheld the anchorite stripping
his shoulders with frantic haste of their shaggy mantle, and ere
he could shut the frail door which separated the two compartments
of the cavern, he heard the clang of the scourge and the groans
of the penitent under his self-inflicted penance. A cold shudder
came over the knight as he reflected what could be the foulness
of the sin, what the depth of the remorse, which, apparently,
such severe penance could neither cleanse nor assuage. He told
his beads devoutly, and flung himself on his rude couch, after a
glance at the still sleeping Moslem, and, wearied by the various
scenes of the day and the night, soon slept as sound as infancy.
Upon his awaking in the morning, he held certain conferences with
the hermit upon matters of importance, and the result of their
intercourse induced him to remain for two days longer in the
grotto. He was regular, as became a pilgrim, in his devotional
exercises, but was not again admitted to the chapel in which he
had seen such wonders.


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

The scene must change, as our programme has announced, from the
mountain wilderness of Jordan to the camp of King Richard of
England, then stationed betwixt Jean d'Acre and Ascalon, and
containing that army with which he of the lion heart had promised
himself a triumphant march to Jerusalem, and in which he would
probably have succeeded, if not hindered by the jealousies of the
Christian princes engaged in the same enterprise, and the offence
taken by them at the uncurbed haughtiness of the English monarch,
and Richard's unveiled contempt for his brother sovereigns, who,
his equals in rank, were yet far his inferiors in courage,
hardihood, and military talents. Such discords, and particularly
those betwixt Richard and Philip of France, created disputes and
obstacles which impeded every active measure proposed by the
heroic though impetuous Richard, while the ranks of the Crusaders
were daily thinned, not only by the desertion of individuals, but
of entire bands, headed by their respective feudal leaders, who
withdrew from a contest in which they had ceased to hope for

The effects of the climate became, as usual, fatal to soldiers
from the north, and the more so that the dissolute license of the
Crusaders, forming a singular contrast to the principles and
purpose of their taking up arms, rendered them more easy victims
to the insalubrious influence of burning heat and chilling dews.
To these discouraging causes of loss was to be added the sword of
the enemy. Saladin, than whom no greater name is recorded in
Eastern history, had learned, to his fatal experience, that his
light-armed followers were little able to meet in close encounter
with the iron-clad Franks, and had been taught, at the same time,
to apprehend and dread the adventurous character of his
antagonist Richard. But if his armies were more than once routed
with great slaughter, his numbers gave the Saracen the advantage
in those lighter skirmishes, of which many were inevitable.

As the army of his assailants decreased, the enterprises of the
Sultan became more numerous and more bold in this species of
petty warfare. The camp of the Crusaders was surrounded, and
almost besieged, by clouds of light cavalry, resembling swarms of
wasps, easily crushed when they are once grasped, but furnished
with wings to elude superior strength, and stings to inflict harm
and mischief. There was perpetual warfare of posts and foragers,
in which many valuable lives were lost, without any corresponding
object being gained; convoys were intercepted, and communications
were cut off. The Crusaders had to purchase the means of
sustaining life, by life itself; and water, like that of the well
of Bethlehem, longed for by King David, one of its ancient
monarchs, was then, as before, only obtained by the expenditure
of blood.

These evils were in a great measure counterbalanced by the stern
resolution and restless activity of King Richard, who, with some
of his best knights, was ever on horseback, ready to repair to
any point where danger occurred, and often not only bringing
unexpected succour to the Christians, but discomfiting the
infidels when they seemed most secure of victory. But even the
iron frame of Coeur de Lion could not support without injury the
alternations of the unwholesome climate, joined to ceaseless
exertions of body and mind. He became afflicted with one of
those slow and wasting fevers peculiar to Asia, and in despite of
his great strength and still greater courage, grew first unfit to
mount on horseback, and then unable to attend the councils of war
which were from time to time held by the Crusaders. It was
difficult to say whether this state of personal inactivity was
rendered more galling or more endurable to the English monarch by
the resolution of the council to engage in a truce of thirty days
with the Sultan Saladin; for on the one hand, if he was incensed
at the delay which this interposed to the progress of the great
enterprise, he was, on the other, somewhat consoled by knowing
that others were not acquiring laurels while he remained inactive
upon a sick-bed,

That, however, which Coeur de Lion could least excuse was the
general inactivity which prevailed in the camp of the Crusaders
so soon as his illness assumed a serious aspect; and the reports
which he extracted from his unwilling attendants gave him to
understand that the hopes of the host had abated in proportion to
his illness, and that the interval of truce was employed, not in
recruiting their numbers, reanimating their courage, fostering
their spirit of conquest, and preparing for a speedy and
determined advance upon the Holy City, which was the object of
their expedition, but in securing the camp occupied by their
diminished followers with trenches, palisades, and other
fortifications, as if preparing rather to repel an attack from a
powerful enemy so soon as hostilities should recommence, than to
assume the proud character of conquerors and assailants.

The English king chafed under these reports, like the imprisoned
lion viewing his prey from the iron barriers of his cage.
Naturally rash and impetuous, the irritability of his temper
preyed on itself. He was dreaded by his attendants and even the
medical assistants feared to assume the necessary authority which
a physician, to do justice to his patient, must needs exercise
over him. One faithful baron, who, perhaps, from the congenial
nature of his disposition, was devoutly attached to the King's
person, dared alone to come between the dragon and his wrath, and
quietly, but firmly, maintained a control which no other dared
assume over the dangerous invalid, and which Thomas de Multon
only exercised because he esteemed his sovereign's life and
honour more than he did the degree of favour which he might lose,
or even the risk which he might incur, in nursing a patient so
intractable, and whose displeasure was so perilous.

Sir Thomas was the Lord of Gilsland, in Cumberland, and in an age
when surnames and titles were not distinctly attached, as now, to
the individuals who bore them, he was called by the Normans the
Lord de Vaux; and in English by the Saxons, who clung to their
native language, and were proud of the share of Saxon blood in
this renowned warrior's veins, he was termed Thomas, or, more
familiarly, Thom of the Gills, or Narrow Valleys, from which his
extensive domains derived their well-known appellation.

This chief had been exercised in almost all the wars, whether
waged betwixt England and Scotland, or amongst the various
domestic factions which then tore the former country asunder, and
in all had been distinguished, as well from his military conduct
as his personal prowess. He was, in other respects, a rude
soldier, blunt and careless in his bearing, and taciturn--nay,
almost sullen--in his habits of society, and seeming, at least,
to disclaim all knowledge of policy and of courtly art. There
were men, however, who pretended to look deeply into character,
who asserted that the Lord de Vaux was not less shrewd and
aspiring than he was blunt and bold, and who thought that, while
he assimilated himself to the king's own character of blunt
hardihood, it was, in some degree at least, with an eye to
establish his favour, and to gratify his own hopes of deep-laid
ambition. But no one cared to thwart his schemes, if such he
had, by rivalling him in the dangerous occupation of daily
attendance on the sick-bed of a patient whose disease was
pronounced infectious, and more especially when it was remembered
that the patient was Coeur de Lion, suffering under all the
furious impatience of a soldier withheld from battle, and a
sovereign sequestered from authority; and the common soldiers, at
least in the English army, were generally of opinion that De Vaux
attended on the King like comrade upon comrade, in the honest and
disinterested frankness of military friendship contracted between
the partakers of daily dangers.

It was on the decline of a Syrian day that Richard lay on his
couch of sickness, loathing it as much in mind as his illness
made it irksome to his body. His bright blue eye, which at all
times shone with uncommon keenness and splendour, had its
vivacity augmented by fever and mental impatience, and glanced
from among his curled and unshorn locks of yellow hair as
fitfully and as vividly as the last gleams of the sun shoot
through the clouds of an approaching thunderstorm, which still,
however, are gilded by its beams. His manly features showed the
progress of wasting illness, and his beard, neglected and
untrimmed, had overgrown both lips and chin. Casting himself
from side to side, now clutching towards him the coverings, which
at the next moment he flung as impatiently from him, his tossed
couch and impatient gestures showed at once the energy and the
reckless impatience of a disposition whose natural sphere was
that of the most active exertion.

Beside his couch stood Thomas de Vaux, in face, attitude, and
manner the strongest possible contrast to the suffering monarch.
His stature approached the gigantic, and his hair in thickness
might have resembled that of Samson, though only after the
Israelitish champion's locks had passed under the shears of the
Philistines, for those of De Vaux were cut short, that they might
be enclosed under his helmet. The light of his broad, large
hazel eye resembled that of the autumn morn; and it was only
perturbed for a moment, when from time to time it was attracted
by Richard's vehement marks of agitation and restlessness. His
features, though massive like his person, might have been
handsome before they were defaced with scars; his upper lip,
after the fashion of the Normans, was covered with thick
moustaches, which grew so long and luxuriantly as to mingle with
his hair, and, like his hair, were dark brown, slightly brindled
with grey. His frame seemed of that kind which most readily
defies both toil and climate, for he was thin-flanked, broad-chested, long-armed, deep-breathed, and strong-
limbed. He had
not laid aside his buff-coat, which displayed the cross cut on
the shoulder, for more than three nights, enjoying but such
momentary repose as the warder of a sick monarch's couch might by
snatches indulge. This Baron rarely changed his posture, except
to administer to Richard the medicine or refreshments which none
of his less favoured attendants could persuade the impatient
monarch to take; and there was something affecting in the kindly
yet awkward manner in which he discharged offices so strangely
contrasted with his blunt and soldierly habits and manners.

The pavilion in which these personages were, had, as became the
time, as well as the personal character of Richard, more of a
warlike than a sumptuous or royal character. Weapons offensive
and defensive, several of them of strange and newly-invented
construction, were scattered about the tented apartment, or
disposed upon the pillars which supported it. Skins of animals
slain in the chase were stretched on the ground, or extended
along the sides of the pavilion; and upon a heap of these silvan
spoils lay three ALANS, as they were then called (wolf-
greyhounds, that is), of the largest size, and as white as snow.
Their faces, marked with many a scar from clutch and fang, showed
their share in collecting the trophies upon which they reposed;
and their eyes, fixed from time to time with an expressive
stretch and yawn upon the bed of Richard, evinced how much they
marvelled at and regretted the unwonted inactivity which they
were compelled to share. These were but the accompaniments of
the soldier and huntsman; but on a small table close by the bed
was placed a shield of wrought steel, of triangular form, bearing
the three lions passant first assumed by the chivalrous monarch,
and before it the golden circlet, resembling much a ducal
coronet, only that it was higher in front than behind, which,
with the purple velvet and embroidered tiara that lined it,
formed then the emblem of England's sovereignty. Beside it, as
if prompt for defending the regal symbol, lay a mighty curtal-axe, which would have wearied the arm of
any other than Coeur de

In an outer partition of the pavilion waited two or three
officers of the royal household, depressed, anxious for their
master's health, and not less so for their own safety, in case of
his decease. Their gloomy apprehensions spread themselves to the
warders without, who paced about in downcast and silent
contemplation, or, resting on their halberds, stood motionless on
their post, rather like armed trophies than living warriors.

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

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

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

"Nay, my lord," said De Vaux, "they have Saladin's word for their

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

As Richard spoke, he thrust his right arm out of bed naked to the
shoulder, and painfully raising himself in his couch, shook his
clenched hand, as if it grasped sword or battle-axe, and was then
brandished over the jewelled turban of the Soldan. It was not
without a gentle degree of violence, which the King would scarce
have endured from another, that De Vaux, in his character of
sick-nurse, compelled his royal master to replace himself in the
couch, and covered his sinewy arm, neck, and shoulders with the
care which a mother bestows upon an impatient child.

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

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

"Fever-fit!" exclaimed Richard impetuously; "thou mayest think,
and justly, that it is a fever-fit with me; but what is it with
all the other Christian princes--with Philip of France, with that
dull Austrian, with him of Montserrat, with the Hospitallers,
with the Templars--what is it with all them? I will tell thee.
It is a cold palsy, a dead lethargy, a disease that deprives them
of speech and action, a canker that has eaten into the heart of
all that is noble, and chivalrous, and virtuous among them--that
has made them false to the noblest vow ever knights were sworn to
--has made them indifferent to their fame, and forgetful of their

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

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

"Forsooth, and if it please your Majesty," said De Vaux, "I hear
consultations have been held among the royal leaders for some
such purpose."

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

"Rank and dignity," said De Vaux, "point to the King of France."

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

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

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

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

"Ha, Beau-Seant?" answered the King. "Oh, no exception can be
taken to Brother Giles Amaury; he understands the ordering of a
battle, and the fighting in front when it begins. But, Sir
Thomas, were it fair to take the Holy Land from the heathen
Saladin, so full of all the virtues which may distinguish
unchristened man, and give it to Giles Amaury, a worse pagan than
himself, an idolater, a devil-worshipper, a necromancer, who
practises crimes the most dark and unnatural in the vaults and
secret places of abomination and darkness?"

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

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

"Well, then, I will venture but another guess," said the Baron de
Vaux. "What say you to the gallant Marquis of Montserrat, so
wise, so elegant, such a good man-at-arms?"

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

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

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

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

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

He again endeavoured to get out of bed, and De Vaux was obliged
to exercise his own great strength, and also to summon the
assistance of the chamberlains from the inner tent, to restrain

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

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

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

De Vaux left the pavilion on the errand assigned, and in his
absence, which he had resolved should be brief, he charged the
chamberlains, pages, and attendants to redouble their attention
on their sovereign, with threats of holding them to
responsibility, which rather added to than diminished their timid
anxiety in the discharge of their duty; for next, perhaps, to the
ire of the monarch himself, they dreaded that of the stern and
inexorable Lord of Gilsland. [Sir Thomas Multon of Gilsland.]


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

A considerable band of Scottish warriors had joined the
Crusaders, and had naturally placed themselves under the command
of the English monarch, being, like his native troops, most of
them of Saxon and Norman descent, speaking the same languages,
possessed, some of them, of English as well as Scottish demesnes,
and allied in some cases by blood and intermarriage. The period
also preceded that when the grasping ambition of Edward I. gave a
deadly and envenomed character to the wars betwixt the two
nations--the English fighting for the subjugation of Scotland,
and the Scottish, with all the stern determination and obstinacy
which has ever characterized their nation, for the defence of
their independence, by the most violent means, under the most
disadvantageous circumstances, and at the most extreme hazard.
As yet, wars betwixt the two nations, though fierce and frequent,
had been conducted on principles of fair hostility, and admitted
of those softening shades by which courtesy and the respect for
open and generous foemen qualify and mitigate the horrors of war.
In time of peace, therefore, and especially when both, as at
present, were engaged in war, waged in behalf of a common cause,
and rendered dear to them by their ideas of religion, the
adventurers of both countries frequently fought side by side,
their national emulation serving only to stimulate them to excel
each other in their efforts against the common enemy.

The frank and martial character of Richard, who made no
distinction betwixt his own subjects and those of William of
Scotland, excepting as they bore themselves in the field of
battle, tended much to conciliate the troops of both nations.
But upon his illness, and the disadvantageous circumstances in
which the Crusaders were placed, the national disunion between
the various bands united in the Crusade, began to display itself,
just as old wounds break out afresh in the human body when under
the influence of disease or debility.

The Scottish and English, equally jealous and high-spirited, and
apt to take offence--the former the more so, because the poorer
and the weaker nation--began to fill up by internal dissension
the period when the truce forbade them to wreak their united
vengeance on the Saracens. Like the contending Roman chiefs of
old, the Scottish would admit no superiority, and their southern
neighbours would brook no equality. There were charges and
recriminations, and both the common soldiery and their leaders
and commanders, who had been good comrades in time of victory,
lowered on each other in the period of adversity, as if their
union had not been then more essential than ever, not only to the
success of their common cause, but to their joint safety. The
same disunion had begun to show itself betwixt the French and
English, the Italians and the Germans, and even between the Danes
and Swedes; but it is only that which divided the two nations
whom one island bred, and who seemed more animated against each
other for the very reason, that our narrative is principally
concerned with.

Of all the English nobles who had followed their King to
Palestine, De Vaux was most prejudiced against the Scottish.
They were his near neighbours, with whom he had been engaged
during his whole life in private or public warfare, and on whom
he had inflicted many calamities, while he had sustained at their
hands not a few. His love and devotion to the King was like the
vivid affection of the old English mastiff to his master, leaving
him churlish and inaccessible to all others even towards those to
whom he was indifferent--and rough and dangerous to any against
whom he entertained a prejudice. De Vaux had never observed
without jealousy and displeasure his King exhibit any mark of
courtesy or favour to the wicked, deceitful, and ferocious race
born on the other side of a river, or an imaginary line drawn
through waste and wilderness; and he even doubted the success of
a Crusade in which they were suffered to bear arms, holding them
in his secret soul little better than the Saracens whom he came
to combat. It may be added that, as being himself a blunt and
downright Englishman, unaccustomed to conceal the slightest
movement either of love or of dislike, he accounted the fair-spoken courtesy which the Scots had learned,
either from
imitation of their frequent allies, the French, or which might
have arisen from their own proud and reserved character, as a
false and astucious mark of the most dangerous designs against
their neighbours, over whom he believed, with genuine English
confidence, they could, by fair manhood, never obtain any

Yet, though De Vaux entertained these sentiments concerning his
Northern neighbours, and extended them, with little mitigation,
even to such as had assumed the Cross, his respect for the King,
and a sense of the duty imposed by his vow as a Crusader,
prevented him from displaying them otherwise than by regularly
shunning all intercourse with his Scottish brethren-at-arms as
far as possible, by observing a sullen taciturnity when compelled
to meet them occasionally, and by looking scornfully upon them
when they encountered on the march and in camp. The Scottish
barons and knights were not men to bear his scorn unobserved or
unreplied to; and it came to that pass that he was regarded as
the determined and active enemy of a nation, whom, after all, he
only disliked, and in some sort despised. Nay, it was remarked
by close observers that, if he had not towards them the charity
of Scripture, which suffereth long, and judges kindly, he was by
no means deficient in the subordinate and limited virtue, which
alleviates and relieves the wants of others. The wealth of
Thomas of Gilsland procured supplies of provisions and medicines,
and some of these usually flowed by secret channels into the
quarters of the Scottish--his surly benevolence proceeding on the
principle that, next to a man's friend, his foe was of most
importance to him, passing over all the intermediate relations as
too indifferent to merit even a thought. This explanation is
necessary, in order that the reader may fully understand what we
are now to detail.

Thomas de Vaux had not made many steps beyond the entrance of the
royal pavilion when he was aware of what the far more acute ear
of the English monarch--no mean proficient in the art of
minstrelsy--had instantly discovered, that the musical strains,
namely, which had reached their ears, were produced by the pipes,
shalms, and kettle-drums of the Saracens; and at the bottom of an
avenue of tents, which formed a broad access to the pavilion of
Richard, he could see a crowd of idle soldiers assembled around
the spot from which the music was heard, almost in the centre of
the camp; and he saw, with great surprise, mingled amid the
helmets of various forms worn by the Crusaders of different
nations, white turbans and long pikes, announcing the presence of
armed Saracens, and the huge deformed heads of several camels or
dromedaries, overlooking the multitude by aid of their long,
disproportioned necks.

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

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

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

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

"Mine touches King Richard yet more nearly," answered Sir
Kenneth; "I bring him, I trust, health."

The Lord of Gilsland measured the Scot with incredulous eyes, and
replied, "Thou art no leech, I think, Sir Scot; I had as soon
thought of your bringing the King of England wealth."

Sir Kenneth, though displeased with the manner of the baron's
reply, answered calmly, "Health to Richard is glory and wealth to
Christendom.--But my time presses; I pray you, may I see the

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

"I myself," replied Sir Kenneth, "will be his guarantee, with
honour, life, and fortune."

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

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

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

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

"I am of the secret council of England," said the Englishman

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

"Ha! sayest thou?" said the proud Baron de Vaux. "But know,
messenger of the kings and princes as thou mayest be, no leech
shall approach the sick-bed of Richard of England without the
consent of him of Gilsland; and they will come on evil errand who
dare to intrude themselves against it."

He was turning loftily away, when the Scot, placing himself
closer, and more opposite to him, asked, in a calm voice, yet not
without expressing his share of pride, whether the Lord of
Gilsland esteemed him a gentleman and a good knight.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Whatever were the prejudices of De Vaux against the nation of his
new acquaintance, and though we undertake not to deny that some
of these were excited by its proverbial poverty, he had too much
nobleness of disposition to enjoy the mortification of a brave
individual thus compelled to make known wants which his pride
would gladly have concealed.

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

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

Appearances here did indeed promise no breach of the laws of
mortification, to which the Crusaders, according to the opinion
expressed by him of Gilsland, ought to subject themselves. A
space of ground, large enough to accommodate perhaps thirty
tents, according to the Crusaders' rules of castrametation, was
partly vacant--because, in ostentation, the knight had demanded
ground to the extent of his original retinue--partly occupied by
a few miserable huts, hastily constructed of boughs, and covered
with palm-leaves. These habitations seemed entirely deserted,
and several of them were ruinous. The central hut, which
represented the pavilion of the leader, was distinguished by his
swallow-tailed pennon, placed on the point of a spear, from which
its long folds dropped motionless to the ground, as if sickening
under the scorching rays of the Asiatic sun. But no pages or
squires--not even a solitary warder--was placed by the emblem of
feudal power and knightly degree. If its reputation defended it
not from insult, it had no other guard.

Sir Kenneth cast a melancholy look around him, but suppessing his
feelings, entered the hut, making a sign to the Baron of Gilsland
to follow. He also cast around a glance of examination, which
implied pity not altogether unmingled with contempt, to which,
perhaps, it is as nearly akin as it is said to be to love. He
then stooped his lofty crest, and entered a lowly hut, which his
bulky form seemed almost entirely to fill.

The interior of the hut was chiefly occupied by two beds. One
was empty, but composed of collected leaves, and spread with an
antelope's hide. It seemed, from the articles of armour laid
beside it, and from a crucifix of silver, carefully and
reverentially disposed at the head, to be the couch of the knight
himself. The other contained the invalid, of whom Sir Kenneth
had spoken, a strong-built and harsh-featured man, past, as his
looks betokened, the middle age of life. His couch was trimmed
more softly than his master's, and it was plain that the more
courtly garments of the latter, the loose robe in which the
knights showed themselves on pacific occasions, and the other
little spare articles of dress and adornment, had been applied by
Sir Kenneth to the accommodation of his sick domestic. In an
outward part of the hut, which yet was within the range of the
English baron's eye, a boy, rudely attired with buskins of deer's
hide, a blue cap or bonnet, and a doublet, whose original finery
was much tarnished, sat on his knees by a chafing-dish filled
with charcoal, cooking upon a plate of iron the cakes of barley-bread, which were then, and still are, a
favourite food with the
Scottish people. Part of an antelope was suspended against one
of the main props of the hut. Nor was it difficult to know how
it had been procured; for a large stag greyhound, nobler in size
and appearance than those even which guarded King Richard's sick-bed, lay eyeing the process of baking
the cake. The sagacious
animal, on their first entrance, uttered a stifled growl, which
sounded from his deep chest like distant thunder. But he saw his
master, and acknowledged his presence by wagging his tail and
couching his head, abstaining from more tumultuous or noisy
greeting, as if his noble instinct had taught him the propriety
of silence in a sick man's chamber.

Beside the couch sat on a cushion, also composed of skins, the
Moorish physician of whom Sir Kenneth had spoken, cross-legged,
after the Eastern fashion. The imperfect light showed little of
him, save that the lower part of his face was covered with a
long, black beard, which descended over his breast; that he wore
a high TOLPACH, a Tartar cap of the lamb's wool manufactured at
Astracan, bearing the same dusky colour; and that his ample
caftan, or Turkish robe, was also of a dark hue. Two piercing
eyes, which gleamed with unusual lustre, were the only lineaments
of his visage that could be discerned amid the darkness in which
he was enveloped.

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

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

"Noble Scot," said Thomas de Vaux, grasping the Scottish knight's
hand, with a pressure which had more of cordiality than he
permitted his words to utter, "this gear must be amended. Your
esquire is but too evil fed and looked to."

In the latter part of this speech he naturally raised his voice
to its usual decided tone, The sick man was disturbed in his

"My master," he said, murmuring as in a dream, "noble Sir
Kenneth, taste not, to you as to me, the waters of the Clyde cold
and refreshing after the brackish springs of Palestine?"

"He dreams of his native land, and is happy in his slumbers,"
whispered Sir Kenneth to De Vaux; but had scarce uttered the
words, when the physician, arising from the place which he had
taken near the couch of the sick, and laying the hand of the
patient, whose pulse he had been carefully watching, quietly upon
the couch, came to the two knights, and taking them each by the
arm, while he intimated to them to remain silent, led them to the
front of the hut.

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

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

They paused, and remained standing together at the door of the
hut--Sir Kenneth with the air of one who expected his visitor to
say farewell, and De Vaux as if he had something on his mind
which prevented him from doing so. The hound, however, had
pressed out of the tent after them, and now thrust his long,
rough countenance into the hand of his master, as if modestly
soliciting some mark of his kindness. He had no sooner received
the notice which he desired, in the shape of a kind word and
slight caress, than, eager to acknowledge his gratitude and joy
for his master's return, he flew off at full speed, galloping in
full career, and with outstretched tail, here and there, about
and around, cross-ways and endlong, through the decayed huts and
the esplanade we have described, but never transgressing those
precincts which his sagacity knew were protected by his master's
pennon. After a few gambols of this kind, the dog, coming close
up to his master, laid at once aside his frolicsome mood,
relapsed into his usual gravity and slowness of gesture and
deportment, and looked as if he were ashamed that anything should
have moved him to depart so far out of his sober self-control.

Both knights looked on with pleasure; for Sir Kenneth was justly
proud of his noble hound, and the northern English baron was, of
course, an admirer of the chase, and a judge of the animal's

"A right able dog," he said. "I think, fair sir, King Richard

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