When beauty leads the lion in her toils,
Such are her charms, he dare not raise his mane,
Far less expand the terror of his fangs.
So great Alcides made his club a distaff,
And spun to please fair Omphale.
Richard, the unsuspicious object of the dark treachery detailed in the closing part of the last chapter, having effected, for the present at least, the triumphant union of the Crusading princes in a resolution to prosecute the war with vigour, had it next at heart to establish tranquillity in his own family; and, now that he could judge more temperately, to inquire distinctly into the circumstances leading to the loss of his banner, and the nature and the extent of the connection betwixt his kinswoman Edith and the banished adventurer from Scotland.
Accordingly, the Queen and her household were startled with a visit from Sir Thomas de Vaux, requesting the present attendance of the Lady Calista of Montfaucon, the Queen’s principal bower-woman, upon King Richard.
“What am I to say, madam?” said the trembling attendant to the Queen, “He will slay us all.”
“Nay, fear not, madam,” said De Vaux. “His Majesty hath spared the life of the Scottish knight, who was the chief offender, and bestowed him upon the Moorish physician. He will not be severe upon a lady, though faulty.”
“Devise some cunning tale, wench,” said Berengaria. “My husband hath too little time to make inquiry into the truth.”
“Tell the tale as it really happened,” said Edith, “lest I tell it for thee.”
“With humble permission of her Majesty,” said De Vaux, “I would say Lady Edith adviseth well; for although King Richard is pleased to believe what it pleases your Grace to tell him, yet I doubt his having the same deference for the Lady Calista, and in this especial matter.”
“The Lord of Gilsland is right,” said the Lady Calista, much agitated at the thoughts of the investigation which was to take place; “and besides, if I had presence of mind enough to forge a plausible story, beshrew me if I think I should have the courage to tell it.”
In this candid humour, the Lady Calista was conducted by De Vaux to the King, and made, as she had proposed, a full confession of the decoy by which the unfortunate Knight of the Leopard had been induced to desert his post; exculpating the Lady Edith, who, she was aware, would not fail to exculpate herself, and laying the full burden on the Queen, her mistress, whose share of the frolic, she well knew, would appear the most venial in the eyes of Coeur de Lion. In truth, Richard was a fond, almost a uxorious husband. The first burst of his wrath had long since passed away, and he was not disposed severely to censure what could not now be amended. The wily Lady Calista, accustomed from her earliest childhood to fathom the intrigues of a court, and watch the indications of a sovereign’s will, hastened back to the Queen with the speed of a lapwing, charged with the King’s commands that she should expect a speedy visit from him; to which the bower-lady added a commentary founded on her own observation, tending to show that Richard meant just to preserve so much severity as might bring his royal consort to repent of her frolic, and then to extend to her and all concerned his gracious pardon.
“Sits the wind in that corner, wench?” said the Queen, much relieved by this intelligence. “Believe me that, great commander as he is, Richard will find it hard to circumvent us in this matter, and that, as the Pyrenean shepherds are wont to say in my native Navarre, Many a one comes for wool, and goes back shorn.”
Having possessed herself of all the information which Calista could communicate, the royal Berengaria arrayed herself in her most becoming dress, and awaited with confidence the arrival of the heroic Richard.
He arrived, and found himself in the situation of a prince entering an offending province, in the confidence that his business will only be to inflict rebuke, and receive submission, when he unexpectedly finds it in a state of complete defiance and insurrection. Berengaria well knew the power of her charms and the extent of Richard’s affection, and felt assured that she could make her own terms good, now that the first tremendous explosion of his anger had expended itself without mischief. Far from listening to the King’s intended rebuke, as what the levity of her conduct had justly deserved, she extenuated, nay, defended as a harmless frolic, that which she was accused of. She denied, indeed, with many a pretty form of negation, that she had directed Nectabanus absolutely to entice the knight farther than the brink of the Mount on which he kept watch — and, indeed, this was so far true, that she had not designed Sir Kenneth to be introduced into her tent — and then, eloquent in urging her own defence, the Queen was far more so in pressing upon Richard the charge of unkindness, in refusing her so poor a boon as the life of an unfortunate knight, who, by her thoughtless prank, had been brought within the danger of martial law. She wept and sobbed while she enlarged on her husband’s obduracy on this score, as a rigour which had threatened to make her unhappy for life, whenever she should reflect that she had given, unthinkingly, the remote cause for such a tragedy. The vision of the slaughtered victim would have haunted her dreams — nay, for aught she knew, since such things often happened, his actual spectre might have stood by her waking couch. To all this misery of the mind was she exposed by the severity of one who, while he pretended to dote upon her slightest glance, would not forego one act of poor revenge, though the issue was to render her miserable.
All this flow of female eloquence was accompanied with the usual arguments of tears and sighs, and uttered with such tone and action as seemed to show that the Queen’s resentment arose neither from pride nor sullenness, but from feelings hurt at finding her consequence with her husband less than she had expected to possess.
The good King Richard was considerably embarrassed. He tried in vain to reason with one whose very jealousy of his affection rendered her incapable of listening to argument, nor could he bring himself to use the restraint of lawful authority to a creature so beautiful in the midst of her unreasonable displeasure. He was therefore reduced to the defensive, endeavoured gently to chide her suspicions and soothe her displeasure, and recalled to her mind that she need not look back upon the past with recollections either of remorse or supernatural fear, since Sir Kenneth was alive and well, and had been bestowed by him upon the great Arabian physician, who, doubtless, of all men, knew best how to keep him living. But this seemed the unkindest cut of all, and the Queen’s sorrow was renewed at the idea of a Saracen — a mediciner — obtaining a boon for which, with bare head and on bended knee, she had petitioned her husband in vain. At this new charge Richard’s patience began rather to give way, and he said, in a serious tone of voice, “Berengaria, the physician saved my life. If it is of value in your eyes, you will not grudge him a higher recompense than the only one I could prevail on him to accept.”
The Queen was satisfied she had urged her coquettish displeasure to the verge of safety.
“My Richard,” she said, “why brought you not that sage to me, that England’s Queen might show how she esteemed him who could save from extinction the lamp of chivalry, the glory of England, and the light of poor Berengaria’s life and hope?”
In a word, the matrimonial dispute was ended; but, that some penalty might be paid to justice, both King and Queen accorded in laying the whole blame on the agent Nectabanus, who (the Queen being by this time well weary of the poor dwarf’s humour) was, with his royal consort Guenevra, sentenced to be banished from the Court; and the unlucky dwarf only escaped a supplementary whipping, from the Queen’s assurances that he had already sustained personal chastisement. It was decreed further that, as an envoy was shortly to be dispatched to Saladin, acquainting him with the resolution of the Council to resume hostilities so soon as the truce was ended, and as Richard proposed to send a valuable present to the Soldan, in acknowledgment of the high benefit he had derived from the services of El Hakim, the two unhappy creatures should be added to it as curiosities, which, from their extremely grotesque appearance, and the shattered state of their intellect, were gifts that might well pass between sovereign and sovereign.
Richard had that day yet another female encounter to sustain; but he advanced to it with comparative indifference, for Edith, though beautiful and highly esteemed by her royal relative — nay, although she had from his unjust suspicions actually sustained the injury of which Berengaria only affected to complain — still was neither Richard’s wife nor mistress, and he feared her reproaches less, although founded in reason, than those of the Queen, though unjust and fantastical. Having requested to speak with her apart, he was ushered into her apartment, adjoining that of the Queen, whose two female Coptish slaves remained on their knees in the most remote corner during the interview. A thin black veil extended its ample folds over the tall and graceful form of the high-born maiden, and she wore not upon her person any female ornament of what kind soever. She arose and made a low reverence when Richard entered, resumed her seat at his command, and, when he sat down beside her, waited, without uttering a syllable, until he should communicate his pleasure.
Richard, whose custom it was to be familiar with Edith, as their relationship authorized, felt this reception chilling, and opened the conversation with some embarrassment.
“Our fair cousin,” he at length said, “is angry with us; and we own that strong circumstances have induced us, without cause, to suspect her of conduct alien to what we have ever known in her course of life. But while we walk in this misty valley of humanity, men will mistake shadows for substances. Can my fair cousin not forgive her somewhat vehement kinsman Richard?”
“Who can refuse forgiveness to RICHARD,” answered Edith, “provided Richard can obtain pardon of the KING?”
“Come, my kinswoman,” replied Coeur de Lion, “this is all too solemn. By Our Lady, such a melancholy countenance, and this ample sable veil, might make men think thou wert a new-made widow, or had lost a betrothed lover, at least. Cheer up! Thou hast heard, doubtless, that there is no real cause for woe; why, then, keep up the form of mourning?”
“For the departed honour of Plantagenet — for the glory which hath left my father’s house.”
Richard frowned. “Departed honour! glory which hath left our house!” he repeated angrily. “But my cousin Edith is privileged. I have judged her too hastily; she has therefore a right to deem of me too harshly. But tell me at least in what I have faulted.”
“Plantagenet,” said Edith, “should have either pardoned an offence, or punished it. It misbecomes him to assign free men, Christians, and brave knights, to the fetters of the infidels. It becomes him not to compromise and barter, or to grunt life under the forfeiture of liberty. To have doomed the unfortunate to death might have been severity, but had a show of justice; to condemn him to slavery and exile was barefaced tyranny.”
“I see, my fair cousin,” said Richard, “you are of those pretty ones who think an absent lover as bad as none, or as a dead one. Be patient; half a score of light horsemen may yet follow and redeem the error, if thy gallant have in keeping any secret which might render his death more convenient than his banishment.”
“Peace with thy scurrile jests!” answered Edith, colouring deeply. “Think, rather, that for the indulgence of thy mood thou hast lopped from this great enterprise one goodly limb, deprived the Cross of one of its most brave supporters, and placed a servant of the true God in the hands of the heathen; hast given, too, to minds as suspicious as thou hast shown thine own in this matter, some right to say that Richard Coeur de Lion banished the bravest soldier in his camp lest his name in battle might match his own.”
“I— I!” exclaimed Richard, now indeed greatly moved —“am I one to be jealous of renown? I would he were here to profess such an equality! I would waive my rank and my crown, and meet him, manlike, in the lists, that it might appear whether Richard Plantagenet had room to fear or to envy the prowess of mortal man. Come, Edith, thou think’st not as thou sayest. Let not anger or grief for the absence of thy lover make thee unjust to thy kinsman, who, notwithstanding all thy techiness, values thy good report as high as that of any one living.”
“The absence of my lover?” said the Lady Edith, “But yes, he may be well termed my lover, who hath paid so dear for the title. Unworthy as I might be of such homage, I was to him like a light, leading him forward in the noble path of chivalry; but that I forgot my rank, or that he presumed beyond his, is false, were a king to speak it.”
“My fair cousin,” said Richard, “do not put words in my mouth which I have not spoken. I said not you had graced this man beyond the favour which a good knight may earn, even from a princess, whatever be his native condition. But, by Our Lady, I know something of this love-gear. It begins with mute respect and distant reverence; but when opportunities occur, familiarity increases, and so — But it skills not talking with one who thinks herself wiser than all the world.”
“My kinsman’s counsels I willingly listen to, when they are such,” said Edith, “as convey no insult to my rank and character.”
“Kings, my fair cousin, do not counsel, but rather command,” said Richard.
“Soldans do indeed command,” said Edith, “but it is because they have slaves to govern.”
“Come, you might learn to lay aside this scorn of Soldanrie, when you hold so high of a Scot,” said the King. “I hold Saladin to be truer to his word than this William of Scotland, who must needs be called a Lion, forsooth; he hath foully faulted towards me in failing to send the auxiliary aid he promised. Let me tell thee, Edith, thou mayest live to prefer a true Turk to a false Scot.”
“No — never!” answered Edith —“not should Richard himself embrace the false religion, which he crossed the seas to expel from Palestine.”
“Thou wilt have the last word,” said Richard, “and thou shalt have it. Even think of me what thou wilt, pretty Edith. I shall not forget that we are near and dear cousins.”
So saying, he took his leave in fair fashion, but very little satisfied with the result of his visit.
It was the fourth day after Sir Kenneth had been dismissed from the camp, and King Richard sat in his pavilion, enjoying an evening breeze from the west, which, with unusual coolness on her wings, seemed breathed from merry England for the refreshment of her adventurous Monarch, as he was gradually recovering the full strength which was necessary to carry on his gigantic projects. There was no one with him, De Vaux having been sent to Ascalon to bring up reinforcements and supplies of military munition, and most of his other attendants being occupied in different departments, all preparing for the re-opening of hostilities, and for a grand preparatory review of the army of the Crusaders, which was to take place the next day. The King sat listening to the busy hum among the soldiery, the clatter from the forges, where horseshoes were preparing, and from the tents of the armourers, who were repairing harness. The voice of the soldiers, too, as they passed and repassed, was loud and cheerful, carrying with its very tone an assurance of high and excited courage, and an omen of approaching victory. While Richard’s ear drank in these sounds with delight, and while he yielded himself to the visions of conquest and of glory which they suggested, an equerry told him that a messenger from Saladin waited without.
“Admit him instantly,” said the King, “and with due honour, Josceline.”
The English knight accordingly introduced a person, apparently of no higher rank than a Nubian slave, whose appearance was nevertheless highly interesting. He was of superb stature and nobly formed, and his commanding features, although almost jet-black, showed nothing of negro descent. He wore over his coal-black locks a milk-white turban, and over his shoulders a short mantle of the same colour, open in front and at the sleeves, under which appeared a doublet of dressed leopard’s skin reaching within a handbreadth of the knee. The rest of his muscular limbs, both legs and arms, were bare, excepting that he had sandals on his feet, and wore a collar and bracelets of silver. A straight broadsword, with a handle of box-wood and a sheath covered with snakeskin, was suspended from his waist. In his right hand he held a short javelin, with a broad, bright steel head, of a span in length, and in his left he led by a leash of twisted silk and gold a large and noble staghound.
The messenger prostrated himself, at the same time partially uncovering his shoulders, in sign of humiliation, and having touched the earth with his forehead, arose so far as to rest on one knee, while he delivered to the King a silken napkin, enclosing another of cloth of gold, within which was a letter from Saladin in the original Arabic, with a translation into Norman-English, which may be modernized thus:—
“Saladin, King of Kings, to Melech Ric, the Lion of England. Whereas, we are informed by thy last message that thou hast chosen war rather than peace, and our enmity rather than our friendship, we account thee as one blinded in this matter, and trust shortly to convince thee of thine error, by the help of our invincible forces of the thousand tribes, when Mohammed, the Prophet of God, and Allah, the God of the Prophet, shall judge the controversy betwixt us. In what remains, we make noble account of thee, and of the gifts which thou hast sent us, and of the two dwarfs, singular in their deformity as Ysop, and mirthful as the lute of Isaack. And in requital of these tokens from the treasure-house of thy bounty, behold we have sent thee a Nubian slave, named Zohauk, of whom judge not by his complexion, according to the foolish ones of the earth, in respect the dark-rinded fruit hath the most exquisite flavour. Know that he is strong to execute the will of his master, as Rustan of Zablestan; also he is wise to give counsel when thou shalt learn to hold communication with him, for the Lord of Speech hath been stricken with silence betwixt the ivory walls of his palace. We commend him to thy care, hoping the hour may not be distant when he may render thee good service. And herewith we bid thee farewell; trusting that our most holy Prophet may yet call thee to a sight of the truth, failing which illumination, our desire is for the speedy restoration of thy royal health, that Allah may judge between thee and us in a plain field of battle.”
And the missive was sanctioned by the signature and seal of the Soldan.
Richard surveyed the Nubian in silence as he stood before him, his looks bent upon the ground, his arms folded on his bosom, with the appearance of a black marble statue of the most exquisite workmanship, waiting life from the touch of a Prometheus. The King of England, who, as it was emphatically said of his successor Henry the Eighth, loved to look upon A MAN, was well pleased with the thews, sinews, and symmetry of him whom he now surveyed, and questioned him in the lingua franca, “Art thou a pagan?”
The slave shook his head, and raising his finger to his brow, crossed himself in token of his Christianity, then resumed his posture of motionless humility.
“A Nubian Christian, doubtless,” said Richard, “and mutilated of the organ of speech by these heathen dogs?”
The mute again slowly shook his head, in token of negative, pointed with his forefinger to Heaven, and then laid it upon his own lips.
“I understand thee,” said Richard; “thou dost suffer under the infliction of God, not by the cruelty of man. Canst thou clean an armour and belt, and buckle it in time of need?”
The mute nodded, and stepping towards the coat of mail, which hung with the shield and helmet of the chivalrous monarch upon the pillar of the tent, he handled it with such nicety of address as sufficiently to show that he fully understood the business of an armour-bearer.
“Thou art an apt, and wilt doubtless be a useful knave. Thou shalt wait in my chamber, and on my person,” said the King, “to show how much I value the gift of the royal Soldan. If thou hast no tongue, it follows thou canst carry no tales, neither provoke me to be sudden by any unfit reply.”
The Nubian again prostrated himself till his brow touched the earth, then stood erect, at some paces distant, as waiting for his new master’s commands.
“Nay, thou shalt commence thy office presently,” said Richard, “for I see a speck of rust darkening on that shield; and when I shake it in the face of Saladin, it should be bright and unsullied as the Soldan’s honour and mine own.”
A horn was winded without, and presently Sir Henry Neville entered with a packet of dispatches. “From England, my lord,” he said, as he delivered it.
“From England — our own England!” repeated Richard, in a tone of melancholy enthusiasm. “Alas! they little think how hard their Sovereign has been beset by sickness and sorrow — faint friends and forward enemies.” Then opening the dispatches, he said hastily, “Ha! this comes from no peaceful land — they too have their feuds. Neville, begone; I must peruse these tidings alone, and at leisure.”
Neville withdrew accordingly, and Richard was soon absorbed in the melancholy details which had been conveyed to him from England, concerning the factions that were tearing to pieces his native dominions — the disunion of his brothers John and Geoffrey, and the quarrels of both with the High Justiciary Longchamp, Bishop of Ely — the oppressions practised by the nobles upon the peasantry, and rebellion of the latter against their masters, which had produced everywhere scenes of discord, and in some instances the effusion of blood. Details of incidents mortifying to his pride, and derogatory from his authority, were intermingled with the earnest advice of his wisest and most attached counsellors that he should presently return to England, as his presence offered the only hope of saving the Kingdom from all the horrors of civil discord, of which France and Scotland were likely to avail themselves. Filled with the most painful anxiety, Richard read, and again read, the ill-omened letters; compared the intelligence which some of them contained with the same facts as differently stated in others; and soon became totally insensible to whatever was passing around him, although seated, for the sake of coolness, close to the entrance of his tent, and having the curtains withdrawn, so that he could see and be seen by the guards and others who were stationed without.
Deeper in the shadow of the pavilion, and busied with the task his new master had imposed, sat the Nubian slave, with his back rather turned towards the King. He had finished adjusting and cleaning the hauberk and brigandine, and was now busily employed on a broad pavesse, or buckler, of unusual size, and covered with steel-plating, which Richard often used in reconnoitring, or actually storming fortified places, as a more effectual protection against missile weapons than the narrow triangular shield used on horseback. This pavesse bore neither the royal lions of England, nor any other device, to attract the observation of the defenders of the walls against which it was advanced; the care, therefore, of the armourer was addressed to causing its surface to shine as bright as crystal, in which he seemed to be peculiarly successful. Beyond the Nubian, and scarce visible from without, lay the large dog, which might be termed his brother slave, and which, as if he felt awed by being transferred to a royal owner, was couched close to the side of the mute, with head and ears on the ground, and his limbs and tail drawn close around and under him.
While the Monarch and his new attendant were thus occupied, another actor crept upon the scene, and mingled among the group of English yeomen, about a score of whom, respecting the unusually pensive posture and close occupation of their Sovereign, were, contrary to their wont, keeping a silent guard in front of his tent. It was not, however, more vigilant than usual. Some were playing at games of hazard with small pebbles, others spoke together in whispers of the approaching day of battle, and several lay asleep, their bulky limbs folded in their green mantles.
Amid these careless warders glided the puny form of a little old Turk, poorly dressed like a marabout or santon of the desert — a sort of enthusiasts, who sometimes ventured into the camp of the Crusaders, though treated always with contumely, and often with violence. Indeed, the luxury and profligate indulgence of the Christian leaders had occasioned a motley concourse in their tents of musicians, courtesans, Jewish merchants, Copts, Turks, and all the varied refuse of the Eastern nations; so that the caftan and turban, though to drive both from the Holy Land was the professed object of the expedition, were, nevertheless, neither an uncommon nor an alarming sight in the camp of the Crusaders. When, however, the little insignificant figure we have described approached so nigh as to receive some interruption from the warders, he dashed his dusky green turban from his head, showed that his beard and eyebrows were shaved like those of a professed buffoon, and that the expression of his fantastic and writhen features, as well as of his little black eyes, which glittered like jet, was that of a crazed imagination.
“Dance, marabout,” cried the soldiers, acquainted with the manners of these wandering enthusiasts, “dance, or we will scourge thee with our bow-strings till thou spin as never top did under schoolboy’s lash.” Thus shouted the reckless warders, as much delighted at having a subject to tease as a child when he catches a butterfly, or a schoolboy upon discovering a bird’s nest.
The marabout, as if happy to do their behests, bounded from the earth, and spun his giddy round before them with singular agility, which, when contrasted with his slight and wasted figure, and diminutive appearance, made him resemble a withered leaf twirled round and round at the pleasure of the winter’s breeze. His single lock of hair streamed upwards from his bald and shaven head, as if some genie upheld him by it; and indeed it seemed as if supernatural art were necessary to the execution of the wild, whirling dance, in which scarce the tiptoe of the performer was seen to touch the ground. Amid the vagaries of his performance he flew here and there, from one spot to another, still approaching, however, though almost imperceptibly, to the entrance of the royal tent; so that, when at length he sunk exhausted on the earth, after two or three bounds still higher than those which he had yet executed, he was not above thirty yards from the King’s person.
“Give him water,” said one yeoman; “they always crave a drink after their merry-go-round.”
“Aha, water, sayest thou, Long Allen?” exclaimed another archer, with a most scornful emphasis on the despised element; “how wouldst like such beverage thyself, after such a morrice dancing?”
“The devil a water-drop he gets here,” said a third. “We will teach the light-footed old infidel to be a good Christian, and drink wine of Cyprus.”
“Ay, ay,” said a fourth; “and in case he be restive, fetch thou Dick Hunter’s horn, that he drenches his mare withal.”
A circle was instantly formed around the prostrate and exhausted dervise, and while one tall yeoman raised his feeble form from the ground, another presented to him a huge flagon of wine. Incapable of speech, the old man shook his head, and waved away from him with his hand the liquor forbidden by the Prophet. But his tormentors were not thus to be appeased.
“The horn, the horn!” exclaimed one. “Little difference between a Turk and a Turkish horse, and we will use him conforming.”
“By Saint George, you will choke him!” said Long Allen; “and besides, it is a sin to throw away upon a heathen dog as much wine as would serve a good Christian for a treble night-cap.”
“Thou knowest not the nature of these Turks and pagans, Long Allen,” replied Henry Woodstall. “I tell thee, man, that this flagon of Cyprus will set his brains a-spinning, just in the opposite direction that they went whirling in the dancing, and so bring him, as it were, to himself again. Choke? He will no more choke on it than Ben’s black bitch on the pound of butter.”
“And for grudging it,” said Tomalin Blacklees, “why shouldst thou grudge the poor paynim devil a drop of drink on earth, since thou knowest he is not to have a drop to cool the tip of his tongue through a long eternity?”
“That were hard laws, look ye,” said Long Allen, “only for being a Turk, as his father was before him. Had he been Christian turned heathen, I grant you the hottest corner had been good winter quarters for him.”
“Hold thy peace, Long Allen,” said Henry Woodstall. “I tell thee that tongue of thine is not the shortest limb about thee, and I prophesy that it will bring thee into disgrace with Father Francis, as once about the black-eyed Syrian wench. But here comes the horn. Be active a bit, man, wilt thou, and just force open his teeth with the haft of thy dudgeon-dagger.”
“Hold, hold — he is conformable,” said Tomalin; “see, see, he signs for the goblet — give him room, boys! OOP SEY ES, quoth the Dutchman — down it goes like lamb’s-wool! Nay, they are true topers when once they begin — your Turk never coughs in his cup, or stints in his liquoring.”
In fact, the dervise, or whatever he was, drank — or at least seemed to drink — the large flagon to the very bottom at a single pull; and when he took it from his lips after the whole contents were exhausted, only uttered, with a deep sigh, the words, ALLAH KERIM, or God is merciful. There was a laugh among the yeomen who witnessed this pottle-deep potation, so obstreperous as to rouse and disturb the King, who, raising his finger, said angrily, “How, knaves, no respect, no observance?”
All were at once hushed into silence, well acquainted with the temper of Richard, which at some times admitted of much military familiarity, and at others exacted the most precise respect, although the latter humour was of much more rare occurrence. Hastening to a more reverent distance from the royal person, they attempted to drag along with them the marabout, who, exhausted apparently by previous fatigue, or overpowered by the potent draught he had just swallowed, resisted being moved from the spot, both with struggles and groans.
“Leave him still, ye fools,” whispered Long Allen to his mates; “by Saint Christopher, you will make our Dickon go beside himself, and we shall have his dagger presently fly at our costards. Leave him alone; in less than a minute he will sleep like a dormouse.”
At the same moment the Monarch darted another impatient glance to the spot, and all retreated in haste, leaving the dervise on the ground, unable, as it seemed, to stir a single limb or joint of his body. In a moment afterward all was as still and quiet as it had been before the intrusion.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 12:00