Part 7 out of 12
"How now, Sir Friar," replied Front-de-Boeuf, "thy speech,
methinks, smacks of a Saxon tongue?"
"I was bred in the convent of St Withold of Burton," answered
"Ay?" said the Baron; "it had been better for thee to have been a
Norman, and better for my purpose too; but need has no choice of
messengers. That St Withold's of Burton is a howlet's nest worth
the harrying. The day will soon come that the frock shall
protect the Saxon as little as the mail-coat."
"God's will be done," said Cedric, in a voice tremulous with
passion, which Front-de-Boeuf imputed to fear.
"I see," said he, "thou dreamest already that our men-at-arms are
in thy refectory and thy ale-vaults. But do me one cast of thy
holy office, and, come what list of others, thou shalt sleep as
safe in thy cell as a snail within his shell of proof."
"Speak your commands," said Cedric, with suppressed emotion.
"Follow me through this passage, then, that I may dismiss thee by
And as he strode on his way before the supposed friar,
Front-de-Boeuf thus schooled him in the part which he desired he
"Thou seest, Sir Friar, yon herd of Saxon swine, who have dared
to environ this castle of Torquilstone---Tell them whatever thou
hast a mind of the weakness of this fortalice, or aught else that
can detain them before it for twenty-four hours. Meantime bear
thou this scroll---But soft---canst read, Sir Priest?"
"Not a jot I," answered Cedric, "save on my breviary; and then I
know the characters, because I have the holy service by heart,
praised be Our Lady and St Withold!"
"The fitter messenger for my purpose.---Carry thou this scroll to
the castle of Philip de Malvoisin; say it cometh from me, and is
written by the Templar Brian de Bois-Guilbert, and that I pray
him to send it to York with all the speed man and horse can make.
Meanwhile, tell him to doubt nothing, he shall find us whole and
sound behind our battlement---Shame on it, that we should be
compelled to hide thus by a pack of runagates, who are wont to
fly even at the flash of our pennons and the tramp of our horses!
I say to thee, priest, contrive some cast of thine art to keep
the knaves where they are, until our friends bring up their
lances. My vengeance is awake, and she is a falcon that slumbers
not till she has been gorged."
"By my patron saint," said Cedric, with deeper energy than became
his character, "and by every saint who has lived and died in
England, your commands shall be obeyed! Not a Saxon shall stir
from before these walls, if I have art and influence to detain
"Ha!" said Front-de-Boeuf, "thou changest thy tone, Sir Priest,
and speakest brief and bold, as if thy heart were in the
slaughter of the Saxon herd; and yet thou art thyself of kindred
to the swine?"
Cedric was no ready practiser of the art of dissimulation, and
would at this moment have been much the better of a hint from
Wamba's more fertile brain. But necessity, according to the
ancient proverb, sharpens invention, and he muttered something
under his cowl concerning the men in question being
excommunicated outlaws both to church and to kingdom.
"'Despardieux'," answered Front-de-Boeuf, "thou hast spoken the
very truth---I forgot that the knaves can strip a fat abbot, as
well as if they had been born south of yonder salt channel. Was
it not he of St Ives whom they tied to an oak-tree, and compelled
to sing a mass while they were rifling his mails and his wallets?
---No, by our Lady---that jest was played by Gualtier of
Middleton, one of our own companions-at-arms. But they were
Saxons who robbed the chapel at St Bees of cup, candlestick and
chalice, were they not?"
"They were godless men," answered Cedric.
"Ay, and they drank out all the good wine and ale that lay in
store for many a secret carousal, when ye pretend ye are but
busied with vigils and primes!---Priest, thou art bound to
revenge such sacrilege."
"I am indeed bound to vengeance," murmured Cedric; "Saint Withold
knows my heart."
Front-de-Boeuf, in the meanwhile, led the way to a postern,
where, passing the moat on a single plank, they reached a small
barbican, or exterior defence, which communicated with the open
field by a well-fortified sallyport.
"Begone, then; and if thou wilt do mine errand, and if thou
return hither when it is done, thou shalt see Saxon flesh cheap
as ever was hog's in the shambles of Sheffield. And, hark thee,
thou seemest to be a jolly confessor---come hither after the
onslaught, and thou shalt have as much Malvoisie as would drench
thy whole convent."
"Assuredly we shall meet again," answered Cedric.
"Something in hand the whilst," continued the Norman; and, as
they parted at the postern door, he thrust into Cedric's
reluctant hand a gold byzant, adding, "Remember, I will fly off
both cowl and skin, if thou failest in thy purpose."
"And full leave will I give thee to do both," answered Cedric,
leaving the postern, and striding forth over the free field with
a joyful step, "if, when we meet next, I deserve not better at
thine hand."---Turning then back towards the castle, he threw the
piece of gold towards the donor, exclaiming at the same time,
"False Norman, thy money perish with thee!"
Front-de-Boeuf heard the words imperfectly, but the action was
suspicious---"Archers," he called to the warders on the outward
battlements, "send me an arrow through yon monk's frock!---yet
stay," he said, as his retainers were bending their bows, "it
avails not--we must thus far trust him since we have no better
shift. I think he dares not betray me---at the worst I can but
treat with these Saxon dogs whom I have safe in kennel.---Ho!
Giles jailor, let them bring Cedric of Rotherwood before me, and
the other churl, his companion---him I mean of Coningsburgh
---Athelstane there, or what call they him? Their very names are
an encumbrance to a Norman knight's mouth, and have, as it were,
a flavour of bacon---Give me a stoup of wine, as jolly Prince
John said, that I may wash away the relish---place it in the
armoury, and thither lead the prisoners."
His commands were obeyed; and, upon entering that Gothic
apartment, hung with many spoils won by his own valour and that
of his father, he found a flagon of wine on the massive oaken
table, and the two Saxon captives under the guard of four of his
dependants. Front-de-Boeuf took a long drought of wine, and then
addressed his prisoners;---for the manner in which Wamba drew the
cap over his face, the change of dress, the gloomy and broken
light, and the Baron's imperfect acquaintance with the features
of Cedric, (who avoided his Norman neighbours, and seldom stirred
beyond his own domains,) prevented him from discovering that the
most important of his captives had made his escape.
"Gallants of England," said Front-de-Boeuf, "how relish ye your
entertainment at Torquilstone?---Are ye yet aware what your
'surquedy' and 'outrecuidance'*
* "Surquedy" and "outrecuidance" - insolence and presumption
merit, for scoffing at the entertainment of a prince of the House
of Anjou?---Have ye forgotten how ye requited the unmerited
hospitality of the royal John? By God and St Dennis, an ye pay
not the richer ransom, I will hang ye up by the feet from the
iron bars of these windows, till the kites and hooded crows have
made skeletons of you!---Speak out, ye Saxon dogs---what bid ye
for your worthless lives?---How say you, you of Rotherwood?"
"Not a doit I," answered poor Wamba---"and for hanging up by the
feet, my brain has been topsy-turvy, they say, ever since the
biggin was bound first round my head; so turning me upside down
may peradventure restore it again."
"Saint Genevieve!" said Front-de-Boeuf, "what have we got here?"
And with the back of his hand he struck Cedric's cap from the
head of the Jester, and throwing open his collar, discovered
the fatal badge of servitude, the silver collar round his neck.
"Giles---Clement---dogs and varlets!" exclaimed the furious
Norman, "what have you brought me here?"
"I think I can tell you," said De Bracy, who just entered the
apartment. "This is Cedric's clown, who fought so manful a
skirmish with Isaac of York about a question of precedence."
"I shall settle it for them both," replied Front-de-Boeuf; "they
shall hang on the same gallows, unless his master and this boar
of Coningsburgh will pay well for their lives. Their wealth is
the least they can surrender; they must also carry off with them
the swarms that are besetting the castle, subscribe a surrender
of their pretended immunities, and live under us as serfs and
vassals; too happy if, in the new world that is about to begin,
we leave them the breath of their nostrils.---Go," said he to
two of his attendants, "fetch me the right Cedric hither, and I
pardon your error for once; the rather that you but mistook a
fool for a Saxon franklin."
"Ay, but," said Wamba, "your chivalrous excellency will find
there are more fools than franklins among us."
"What means the knave?" said Front-de-Boeuf, looking towards his
followers, who, lingering and loath, faltered forth their belief,
that if this were not Cedric who was there in presence, they knew
not what was become of him.
"Saints of Heaven!" exclaimed De Bracy, "he must have escaped in
the monk's garments!"
"Fiends of hell!" echoed Front-de-Boeuf, "it was then the boar of
Rotherwood whom I ushered to the postern, and dismissed with my
own hands!---And thou," he said to Wamba, "whose folly could
overreach the wisdom of idiots yet more gross than thyself---I
will give thee holy orders---I will shave thy crown for thee!
---Here, let them tear the scalp from his head, and then pitch
him headlong from the battlements---Thy trade is to jest, canst
thou jest now?"
"You deal with me better than your word, noble knight," whimpered
forth poor Wamba, whose habits of buffoonery were not to be
overcome even by the immediate prospect of death; "if you give
me the red cap you propose, out of a simple monk you will make a
"The poor wretch," said De Bracy, "is resolved to die in his
vocation.---Front-de-Boeuf, you shall not slay him. Give him to
me to make sport for my Free Companions.---How sayst thou, knave?
Wilt thou take heart of grace, and go to the wars with me?"
"Ay, with my master's leave," said Wamba; "for, look you, I must
not slip collar" (and he touched that which he wore) "without his
"Oh, a Norman saw will soon cut a Saxon collar." said De Bracy.
"Ay, noble sir," said Wamba, "and thence goes the proverb---
'Norman saw on English oak,
On English neck a Norman yoke;
Norman spoon in English dish,
And England ruled as Normans wish;
Blithe world to England never will be more,
Till England's rid of all the four.'"
"Thou dost well, De Bracy," said Front-de-Boeuf, "to stand there
listening to a fool's jargon, when destruction is gaping for us!
Seest thou not we are overreached, and that our proposed mode of
communicating with our friends without has been disconcerted by
this same motley gentleman thou art so fond to brother? What
views have we to expect but instant storm?"
"To the battlements then," said De Bracy; "when didst thou ever
see me the graver for the thoughts of battle? Call the Templar
yonder, and let him fight but half so well for his life as he has
done for his Order---Make thou to the walls thyself with thy huge
body---Let me do my poor endeavour in my own way, and I tell thee
the Saxon outlaws may as well attempt to scale the clouds, as
the castle of Torquilstone; or, if you will treat with the
banditti, why not employ the mediation of this worthy franklin,
who seems in such deep contemplation of the wine-flagon?---Here,
Saxon," he continued, addressing Athelstane, and handing the cup
to him, "rinse thy throat with that noble liquor, and rouse up
thy soul to say what thou wilt do for thy liberty."
"What a man of mould may," answered Athelstane, "providing it be
what a man of manhood ought.---Dismiss me free, with my
companions, and I will pay a ransom of a thousand marks."
"And wilt moreover assure us the retreat of that scum of mankind
who are swarming around the castle, contrary to God's peace and
the king's?" said Front-de-Boeuf.
"In so far as I can," answered Athelstane, "I will withdraw them;
and I fear not but that my father Cedric will do his best to
"We are agreed then," said Front-de-Boeuf---"thou and they are to
be set at freedom, and peace is to be on both sides, for payment
of a thousand marks. It is a trifling ransom, Saxon, and thou
wilt owe gratitude to the moderation which accepts of it in
exchange of your persons. But mark, this extends not to the Jew
"Nor to the Jew Isaac's daughter," said the Templar, who had now
"Neither," said Front-de-Boeuf, "belong to this Saxon's company."
"I were unworthy to be called Christian, if they did," replied
Athelstane: "deal with the unbelievers as ye list."
"Neither does the ransom include the Lady Rowena," said De Bracy.
"It shall never be said I was scared out of a fair prize without
striking a blow for it."
"Neither," said Front-de-Boeuf, "does our treaty refer to this
wretched Jester, whom I retain, that I may make him an example to
every knave who turns jest into earnest."
"The Lady Rowena," answered Athelstane, with the most steady
countenance, "is my affianced bride. I will be drawn by wild
horses before I consent to part with her. The slave Wamba has
this day saved the life of my father Cedric---I will lose mine
ere a hair of his head be injured."
"Thy affianced bride?---The Lady Rowena the affianced bride of a
vassal like thee?" said De Bracy; "Saxon, thou dreamest that the
days of thy seven kingdoms are returned again. I tell thee, the
Princes of the House of Anjou confer not their wards on men of
such lineage as thine."
"My lineage, proud Norman," replied Athelstane, "is drawn from a
source more pure and ancient than that of a beggarly Frenchman,
whose living is won by selling the blood of the thieves whom he
assembles under his paltry standard. Kings were my ancestors,
strong in war and wise in council, who every day feasted in their
hall more hundreds than thou canst number individual followers;
whose names have been sung by minstrels, and their laws recorded
by Wittenagemotes; whose bones were interred amid the prayers of
saints, and over whose tombs minsters have been builded."
"Thou hast it, De Bracy," said Front-de-Boeuf, well pleased with
the rebuff which his companion had received; "the Saxon hath hit
"As fairly as a captive can strike," said De Bracy, with apparent
carelessness; "for he whose hands are tied should have his tongue
at freedom.---But thy glibness of reply, comrade," rejoined he,
speaking to Athelstane, "will not win the freedom of the Lady
To this Athelstane, who had already made a longer speech than was
his custom to do on any topic, however interesting, returned no
answer. The conversation was interrupted by the arrival of a
menial, who announced that a monk demanded admittance at the
"In the name of Saint Bennet, the prince of these bull-beggars,"
said Front-de-Boeuf, "have we a real monk this time, or another
impostor? Search him, slaves---for an ye suffer a second
impostor to be palmed upon you, I will have your eyes torn out,
and hot coals put into the sockets."
"Let me endure the extremity of your anger, my lord," said Giles,
"if this be not a real shaveling. Your squire Jocelyn knows him
well, and will vouch him to be brother Ambrose, a monk in
attendance upon the Prior of Jorvaulx."
"Admit him," said Front-de-Boeuf; "most likely he brings us news
from his jovial master. Surely the devil keeps holiday, and the
priests are relieved from duty, that they are strolling thus
wildly through the country. Remove these prisoners; and, Saxon,
think on what thou hast heard."
"I claim," said Athelstane, "an honourable imprisonment, with due
care of my board and of my couch, as becomes my rank, and as is
due to one who is in treaty for ransom. Moreover, I hold him
that deems himself the best of you, bound to answer to me with
his body for this aggression on my freedom. This defiance hath
already been sent to thee by thy sewer; thou underliest it, and
art bound to answer me---There lies my glove."
"I answer not the challenge of my prisoner," said Front-de-Boeuf;
"nor shalt thou, Maurice de Bracy.---Giles," he continued, "hang
the franklin's glove upon the tine of yonder branched antlers:
there shall it remain until he is a free man. Should he then
presume to demand it, or to affirm he was unlawfully made my
prisoner, by the belt of Saint Christopher, he will speak to one
who hath never refused to meet a foe on foot or on horseback,
alone or with his vassals at his back!"
The Saxon prisoners were accordingly removed, just as they
introduced the monk Ambrose, who appeared to be in great
"This is the real 'Deus vobiscum'," said Wamba, as he passed the
reverend brother; "the others were but counterfeits."
"Holy Mother," said the monk, as he addressed the assembled
knights, "I am at last safe and in Christian keeping!"
"Safe thou art," replied De Bracy; "and for Christianity, here is
the stout Baron Reginald Front-de-Boeuf, whose utter abomination
is a Jew; and the good Knight Templar, Brian de Bois-Guilbert,
whose trade is to slay Saracens---If these are not good marks of
Christianity, I know no other which they bear about them."
"Ye are friends and allies of our reverend father in God, Aymer,
Prior of Jorvaulx," said the monk, without noticing the tone of
De Bracy's reply; "ye owe him aid both by knightly faith and holy
charity; for what saith the blessed Saint Augustin, in his
treatise 'De Civitate Dei'------"
"What saith the devil!" interrupted Front-de-Boeuf; "or rather
what dost thou say, Sir Priest? We have little time to hear
texts from the holy fathers."
"'Sancta Maria!'" ejaculated Father Ambrose, "how prompt to ire
are these unhallowed laymen!---But be it known to you, brave
knights, that certain murderous caitiffs, casting behind them
fear of God, and reverence of his church, and not regarding the
bull of the holy see, 'Si quis, suadende Diabolo'------"
"Brother priest," said the Templar, "all this we know or guess at
---tell us plainly, is thy master, the Prior, made prisoner, and
"Surely," said Ambrose, "he is in the hands of the men of Belial,
infesters of these woods, and contemners of the holy text, 'Touch
not mine anointed, and do my prophets naught of evil.'"
"Here is a new argument for our swords, sirs," said
Front-de-Boeuf, turning to his companions; "and so, instead of
reaching us any assistance, the Prior of Jorvaulx requests aid at
our hands? a man is well helped of these lazy churchmen when he
hath most to do!---But speak out, priest, and say at once, what
doth thy master expect from us?"
"So please you," said Ambrose, "violent hands having been imposed
on my reverend superior, contrary to the holy ordinance which I
did already quote, and the men of Belial having rifled his mails
and budgets, and stripped him of two hundred marks of pure
refined gold, they do yet demand of him a large sum beside, ere
they will suffer him to depart from their uncircumcised hands.
Wherefore the reverend father in God prays you, as his dear
friends, to rescue him, either by paying down the ransom at which
they hold him, or by force of arms, at your best discretion."
"The foul fiend quell the Prior!" said Front-de-Boeuf; "his
morning's drought has been a deep one. When did thy master hear
of a Norman baron unbuckling his purse to relieve a churchman,
whose bags are ten times as weighty as ours?---And how can we do
aught by valour to free him, that are cooped up here by ten times
our number, and expect an assault every moment?"
"And that was what I was about to tell you," said the monk, "had
your hastiness allowed me time. But, God help me, I am old, and
these foul onslaughts distract an aged man's brain.
Nevertheless, it is of verity that they assemble a camp, and
raise a bank against the walls of this castle."
"To the battlements!" cried De Bracy, "and let us mark what these
knaves do without;" and so saying, he opened a latticed window
which led to a sort of bartisan or projecting balcony, and
immediately called from thence to those in the apartment
---"Saint Dennis, but the old monk hath brought true tidings!
---They bring forward mantelets and pavisses,*
* Mantelets were temporary and movable defences formed of
* planks, under cover of which the assailants advanced to
* the attack of fortified places of old. Pavisses were a
* species of large shields covering the whole person,
* employed on the same occasions.
and the archers muster on the skirts of the wood like a dark
cloud before a hailstorm."
Reginald Front-de-Boeuf also looked out upon the field, and
immediately snatched his bugle; and, after winding a long and
loud blast, commanded his men to their posts on the walls.
"De Bracy, look to the eastern side, where the walls are lowest
---Noble Bois-Guilbert, thy trade hath well taught thee how to
attack and defend, look thou to the western side---I myself will
take post at the barbican. Yet, do not confine your exertions to
any one spot, noble friends!---we must this day be everywhere,
and multiply ourselves, were it possible, so as to carry by our
presence succour and relief wherever the attack is hottest. Our
numbers are few, but activity and courage may supply that defect,
since we have only to do with rascal clowns."
"But, noble knights," exclaimed Father Ambrose, amidst the bustle
and confusion occasioned by the preparations for defence, "will
none of ye hear the message of the reverend father in God Aymer,
Prior of Jorvaulx?---I beseech thee to hear me, noble Sir
"Go patter thy petitions to heaven," said the fierce Norman, "for
we on earth have no time to listen to them.---Ho! there, Anselm I
see that seething pitch and oil are ready to pour on the heads of
these audacious traitors---Look that the cross-bowmen lack not
* The bolt was the arrow peculiarly fitted to the cross-bow,
* as that of the long-bow was called a shaft. Hence the
* English proverb---"I will either make a shaft or bolt of
* it," signifying a determination to make one use or other
* of the thing spoken of.
---Fling abroad my banner with the old bull's head---the knaves
shall soon find with whom they have to do this day!"
"But, noble sir," continued the monk, persevering in his
endeavours to draw attention, "consider my vow of obedience, and
let me discharge myself of my Superior's errand."
"Away with this prating dotard," said Front-de Boeuf, "lock him
up in the chapel, to tell his beads till the broil be over. It
will be a new thing to the saints in Torquilstone to hear aves
and paters; they have not been so honoured, I trow, since they
were cut out of stone."
"Blaspheme not the holy saints, Sir Reginald," said De Bracy, "we
shall have need of their aid to-day before yon rascal rout
"I expect little aid from their hand," said Front-de-Boeuf,
"unless we were to hurl them from the battlements on the heads of
the villains. There is a huge lumbering Saint Christopher
yonder, sufficient to bear a whole company to the earth."
The Templar had in the meantime been looking out on the
proceedings of the besiegers, with rather more attention than the
brutal Front-de-Boeuf or his giddy companion.
"By the faith of mine order," he said, "these men approach with
more touch of discipline than could have been judged, however
they come by it. See ye how dexterously they avail themselves
of every cover which a tree or bush affords, and shun exposing
themselves to the shot of our cross-bows? I spy neither banner
nor pennon among them, and yet will I gage my golden chain, that
they are led on by some noble knight or gentleman, skilful in the
practice of wars."
"I espy him," said De Bracy; "I see the waving of a knight's
crest, and the gleam of his armour. See yon tall man in the
black mail, who is busied marshalling the farther troop of the
rascaille yeomen---by Saint Dennis, I hold him to be the same
whom we called 'Le Noir Faineant', who overthrew thee,
Front-de-Boeuf, in the lists at Ashby."
"So much the better," said Front-de-Boeuf, "that he comes here to
give me my revenge. Some hilding fellow he must be, who dared
not stay to assert his claim to the tourney prize which chance
had assigned him. I should in vain have sought for him where
knights and nobles seek their foes, and right glad am I he hath
here shown himself among yon villain yeomanry."
The demonstrations of the enemy's immediate approach cut off all
farther discourse. Each knight repaired to his post, and at the
head of the few followers whom they were able to muster, and who
were in numbers inadequate to defend the whole extent of the
walls, they awaited with calm determination the threatened
This wandering race, sever'd from other men,
Boast yet their intercourse with human arts;
The seas, the woods, the deserts, which they haunt,
Find them acquainted with their secret treasures:
And unregarded herbs, and flowers, and blossoms,
Display undreamt-of powers when gather'd by them.
Our history must needs retrograde for the space of a few pages,
to inform the reader of certain passages material to his
understanding the rest of this important narrative. His own
intelligence may indeed have easily anticipated that, when
Ivanhoe sunk down, and seemed abandoned by all the world, it was
the importunity of Rebecca which prevailed on her father to have
the gallant young warrior transported from the lists to the house
which for the time the Jews inhabited in the suburbs of Ashby.
It would not have been difficult to have persuaded Isaac to this
step in any other circumstances, for his disposition was kind and
grateful. But he had also the prejudices and scrupulous timidity
of his persecuted people, and those were to be conquered.
"Holy Abraham!" he exclaimed, "he is a good youth, and my heart
bleeds to see the gore trickle down his rich embroidered
hacqueton, and his corslet of goodly price---but to carry him to
our house!---damsel, hast thou well considered?---he is a
Christian, and by our law we may not deal with the stranger and
Gentile, save for the advantage of our commerce."
"Speak not so, my dear father," replied Rebecca; "we may not
indeed mix with them in banquet and in jollity; but in wounds and
in misery, the Gentile becometh the Jew's brother."
"I would I knew what the Rabbi Jacob Ben Tudela would opine on
it," replied Isaac;---"nevertheless, the good youth must not
bleed to death. Let Seth and Reuben bear him to Ashby."
"Nay, let them place him in my litter," said Rebecca; "I will
mount one of the palfreys."
"That were to expose thee to the gaze of those dogs of Ishmael
and of Edom," whispered Isaac, with a suspicious glance towards
the crowd of knights and squires. But Rebecca was already busied
in carrying her charitable purpose into effect, and listed not
what he said, until Isaac, seizing the sleeve of her mantle,
again exclaimed, in a hurried voice---"Beard of Aaron!---what if
the youth perish!---if he die in our custody, shall we not be
held guilty of his blood, and be torn to pieces by the
"He will not die, my father," said Rebecca, gently extricating
herself from the grasp of Isaac "he will not die unless we
abandon him; and if so, we are indeed answerable for his blood to
God and to man."
"Nay," said Isaac, releasing his hold, "it grieveth me as much to
see the drops of his blood, as if they were so many golden
byzants from mine own purse; and I well know, that the lessons of
Miriam, daughter of the Rabbi Manasses of Byzantium whose soul is
in Paradise, have made thee skilful in the art of healing, and
that thou knowest the craft of herbs, and the force of elixirs.
Therefore, do as thy mind giveth thee---thou art a good damsel, a
blessing, and a crown, and a song of rejoicing unto me and unto
my house, and unto the people of my fathers."
The apprehensions of Isaac, however, were not ill founded; and
the generous and grateful benevolence of his daughter exposed
her, on her return to Ashby, to the unhallowed gaze of Brian de
Bois-Guilbert. The Templar twice passed and repassed them on the
road, fixing his bold and ardent look on the beautiful Jewess;
and we have already seen the consequences of the admiration which
her charms excited when accident threw her into the power of that
Rebecca lost no time in causing the patient to be transported to
their temporary dwelling, and proceeded with her own hands to
examine and to bind up his wounds. The youngest reader of
romances and romantic ballads, must recollect how often the
females, during the dark ages, as they are called, were initiated
into the mysteries of surgery, and how frequently the gallant
knight submitted the wounds of his person to her cure, whose
eyes had yet more deeply penetrated his heart.
But the Jews, both male and female, possessed and practised the
medical science in all its branches, and the monarchs and
powerful barons of the time frequently committed themselves to
the charge of some experienced sage among this despised people,
when wounded or in sickness. The aid of the Jewish physicians
was not the less eagerly sought after, though a general belief
prevailed among the Christians, that the Jewish Rabbins were
deeply acquainted with the occult sciences, and particularly with
the cabalistical art, which had its name and origin in the
studies of the sages of Israel. Neither did the Rabbins disown
such acquaintance with supernatural arts, which added nothing
(for what could add aught?) to the hatred with which their nation
was regarded, while it diminished the contempt with which that
malevolence was mingled. A Jewish magician might be the subject
of equal abhorrence with a Jewish usurer, but he could not be
equally despised. It is besides probable, considering the
wonderful cures they are said to have performed, that the Jews
possessed some secrets of the healing art peculiar to themselves,
and which, with the exclusive spirit arising out of their
condition, they took great care to conceal from the Christians
amongst whom they dwelt.
The beautiful Rebecca had been heedfully brought up in all the
knowledge proper to her nation, which her apt and powerful mind
had retained, arranged, and enlarged, in the course of a progress
beyond her years, her sex, and even the age in which she lived.
Her knowledge of medicine and of the healing art had been
acquired under an aged Jewess, the daughter of one of their most
celebrated doctors, who loved Rebecca as her own child, and was
believed to have communicated to her secrets, which had been left
to herself by her sage father at the same time, and under the
same circumstances. The fate of Miriam had indeed been to fall a
sacrifice to the fanaticism of the times; but her secrets had
survived in her apt pupil.
Rebecca, thus endowed with knowledge as with beauty, was
universally revered and admired by her own tribe, who almost
regarded her as one of those gifted women mentioned in the sacred
history. Her father himself, out of reverence for her talents,
which involuntarily mingled itself with his unbounded affection,
permitted the maiden a greater liberty than was usually indulged
to those of her sex by the habits of her people, and was, as we
have just seen, frequently guided by her opinion, even in
preference to his own.
When Ivanhoe reached the habitation of Isaac, he was still in a
state of unconsciousness, owing to the profuse loss of blood
which had taken place during his exertions in the lists. Rebecca
examined the wound, and having applied to it such vulnerary
remedies as her art prescribed, informed her father that if fever
could be averted, of which the great bleeding rendered her little
apprehensive, and if the healing balsam of Miriam retained its
virtue, there was nothing to fear for his guest's life, and that
he might with safety travel to York with them on the ensuing day.
Isaac looked a little blank at this annunciation. His charity
would willingly have stopped short at Ashby, or at most would
have left the wounded Christian to be tended in the house where
he was residing at present, with an assurance to the Hebrew to
whom it belonged, that all expenses should be duly discharged.
To this, however, Rebecca opposed many reasons, of which we shall
only mention two that had peculiar weight with Isaac. The one
was, that she would on no account put the phial of precious
balsam into the hands of another physician even of her own tribe,
lest that valuable mystery should be discovered; the other, that
this wounded knight, Wilfred of Ivanhoe, was an intimate
favourite of Richard Coeur-de-Lion, and that, in case the monarch
should return, Isaac, who had supplied his brother John with
treasure to prosecute his rebellious purposes, would stand in no
small need of a powerful protector who enjoyed Richard's favour.
"Thou art speaking but sooth, Rebecca," said Isaac, giving way to
these weighty arguments---"it were an offending of Heaven to
betray the secrets of the blessed Miriam; for the good which
Heaven giveth, is not rashly to be squandered upon others,
whether it be talents of gold and shekels of silver, or whether
it be the secret mysteries of a wise physician---assuredly they
should be preserved to those to whom Providence hath vouchsafed
them. And him whom the Nazarenes of England call the Lion's
Heart, assuredly it were better for me to fall into the hands of
a strong lion of Idumea than into his, if he shall have got
assurance of my dealing with his brother. Wherefore I will lend
ear to thy counsel, and this youth shall journey with us unto
York, and our house shall be as a home to him until his wounds
shall be healed. And if he of the Lion Heart shall return to the
land, as is now noised abroad, then shall this Wilfred of Ivanhoe
be unto me as a wall of defence, when the king's displeasure
shall burn high against thy father. And if he doth not return,
this Wilfred may natheless repay us our charges when he shall
gain treasure by the strength of his spear and of his sword, even
as he did yesterday and this day also. For the youth is a good
youth, and keepeth the day which he appointeth, and restoreth
that which he borroweth, and succoureth the Israelite, even the
child of my father's house, when he is encompassed by strong
thieves and sons of Belial."
It was not until evening was nearly closed that Ivanhoe was
restored to consciousness of his situation. He awoke from a
broken slumber, under the confused impressions which are
naturally attendant on the recovery from a state of
insensibility. He was unable for some time to recall exactly to
memory the circumstances which had preceded his fall in the
lists, or to make out any connected chain of the events in which
he had been engaged upon the yesterday. A sense of wounds and
injury, joined to great weakness and exhaustion, was mingled with
the recollection of blows dealt and received, of steeds rushing
upon each other, overthrowing and overthrown---of shouts and
clashing of arms, and all the heady tumult of a confused fight.
An effort to draw aside the curtain of his conch was in some
degree successful, although rendered difficult by the pain of his
To his great surprise he found himself in a room magnificently
furnished, but having cushions instead of chairs to rest upon,
and in other respects partaking so much of Oriental costume, that
he began to doubt whether he had not, during his sleep, been
transported back again to the land of Palestine. The impression
was increased, when, the tapestry being drawn aside, a female
form, dressed in a rich habit, which partook more of the Eastern
taste than that of Europe, glided through the door which it
concealed, and was followed by a swarthy domestic.
As the wounded knight was about to address this fair apparition,
she imposed silence by placing her slender finger upon her ruby
lips, while the attendant, approaching him, proceeded to uncover
Ivanhoe's side, and the lovely Jewess satisfied herself that the
bandage was in its place, and the wound doing well. She
performed her task with a graceful and dignified simplicity and
modesty, which might, even in more civilized days, have served to
redeem it from whatever might seem repugnant to female delicacy.
The idea of so young and beautiful a person engaged in attendance
on a sick-bed, or in dressing the wound of one of a different
sex, was melted away and lost in that of a beneficent being
contributing her effectual aid to relieve pain, and to avert the
stroke of death. Rebecca's few and brief directions were given
in the Hebrew language to the old domestic; and he, who had been
frequently her assistant in similar cases, obeyed them without
The accents of an unknown tongue, however harsh they might have
sounded when uttered by another, had, coming from the beautiful
Rebecca, the romantic and pleasing effect which fancy ascribes to
the charms pronounced by some beneficent fairy, unintelligible,
indeed, to the ear, but, from the sweetness of utterance, and
benignity of aspect, which accompanied them, touching and
affecting to the heart. Without making an attempt at further
question, Ivanhoe suffered them in silence to take the measures
they thought most proper for his recovery; and it was not until
those were completed, and this kind physician about to retire,
that his curiosity could no longer be suppressed.---"Gentle
maiden," be began in the Arabian tongue, with which his Eastern
travels had rendered him familiar, and which he thought most
likely to be understood by the turban'd and caftan'd damsel who
stood before him---"I pray you, gentle maiden, of your
But here he was interrupted by his fair physician, a smile which
she could scarce suppress dimpling for an instant a face, whose
general expression was that of contemplative melancholy. "I am
of England, Sir Knight, and speak the English tongue, although my
dress and my lineage belong to another climate."
"Noble damsel,"---again the Knight of Ivanhoe began; and again
Rebecca hastened to interrupt him.
"Bestow not on me, Sir Knight," she said, "the epithet of noble.
It is well you should speedily know that your handmaiden is a
poor Jewess, the daughter of that Isaac of York, to whom you were
so lately a good and kind lord. It well becomes him, and those
of his household, to render to you such careful tendance as your
present state necessarily demands."
I know not whether the fair Rowena would have been altogether
satisfied with the species of emotion with which her devoted
knight had hitherto gazed on the beautiful features, and fair
form, and lustrous eyes, of the lovely Rebecca; eyes whose
brilliancy was shaded, and, as it were, mellowed, by the fringe
of her long silken eyelashes, and which a minstrel would have
compared to the evening star darting its rays through a bower of
jessamine. But Ivanhoe was too good a Catholic to retain the
same class of feelings towards a Jewess. This Rebecca had
foreseen, and for this very purpose she had hastened to mention
her father's name and lineage; yet---for the fair and wise
daughter of Isaac was not without a touch of female weakness
---she could not but sigh internally when the glance of
respectful admiration, not altogether unmixed with tenderness,
with which Ivanhoe had hitherto regarded his unknown
benefactress, was exchanged at once for a manner cold, composed,
and collected, and fraught with no deeper feeling than that which
expressed a grateful sense of courtesy received from an
unexpected quarter, and from one of an inferior race. It was not
that Ivanhoe's former carriage expressed more than that general
devotional homage which youth always pays to beauty; yet it was
mortifying that one word should operate as a spell to remove poor
Rebecca, who could not be supposed altogether ignorant of her
title to such homage, into a degraded class, to whom it could not
be honourably rendered.
But the gentleness and candour of Rebecca's nature imputed no
fault to Ivanhoe for sharing in the universal prejudices of his
age and religion. On the contrary the fair Jewess, though
sensible her patient now regarded her as one of a race of
reprobation, with whom it was disgraceful to hold any beyond the
most necessary intercourse, ceased not to pay the same patient
and devoted attention to his safety and convalescence. She
informed him of the necessity they were under of removing to
York, and of her father's resolution to transport him thither,
and tend him in his own house until his health should be
restored. Ivanhoe expressed great repugnance to this plan, which
he grounded on unwillingness to give farther trouble to his
"Was there not," he said, "in Ashby, or near it, some Saxon
franklin, or even some wealthy peasant, who would endure the
burden of a wounded countryman's residence with him until he
should be again able to bear his armour?---Was there no convent
of Saxon endowment, where he could be received?---Or could he not
be transported as far as Burton, where he was sure to find
hospitality with Waltheoff, the Abbot of St Withold's, to whom he
"Any, the worst of these harbourages," said Rebecca, with a
melancholy smile, "would unquestionably be more fitting for your
residence than the abode of a despised Jew; yet, Sir Knight,
unless you would dismiss your physician, you cannot change your
lodging. Our nation, as you well know, can cure wounds, though
we deal not in inflicting them; and in our own family, in
particular, are secrets which have been handed down since the
days of Solomon, and of which you have already experienced the
advantages. No Nazarene---I crave your forgiveness, Sir Knight
---no Christian leech, within the four seas of Britain, could
enable you to bear your corslet within a month."
"And how soon wilt THOU enable me to brook it?" said Ivanhoe,
"Within eight days, if thou wilt be patient and conformable to my
directions," replied Rebecca.
"By Our Blessed Lady," said Wilfred, "if it be not a sin to name
her here, it is no time for me or any true knight to be
bedridden; and if thou accomplish thy promise, maiden, I will pay
thee with my casque full of crowns, come by them as I may."
"I will accomplish my promise," said Rebecca, "and thou shalt
bear thine armour on the eighth day from hence, if thou will
grant me but one boon in the stead of the silver thou dost
"If it be within my power, and such as a true Christian knight
may yield to one of thy people," replied Ivanhoe, "I will grant
thy boon blithely and thankfully."
"Nay," answered Rebecca, "I will but pray of thee to believe
henceforward that a Jew may do good service to a Christian,
without desiring other guerdon than the blessing of the Great
Father who made both Jew and Gentile."
"It were sin to doubt it, maiden," replied Ivanhoe; "and I repose
myself on thy skill without further scruple or question, well
trusting you will enable me to bear my corslet on the eighth day.
And now, my kind leech, let me enquire of the news abroad. What
of the noble Saxon Cedric and his household?---what of the lovely
Lady---" He stopt, as if unwilling to speak Rowena's name in the
house of a Jew---"Of her, I mean, who was named Queen of the
"And who was selected by you, Sir Knight, to hold that dignity,
with judgment which was admired as much as your valour," replied
The blood which Ivanhoe had lost did not prevent a flush from
crossing his cheek, feeling that he had incautiously betrayed a
deep interest in Rowena by the awkward attempt he had made to
"It was less of her I would speak," said he, "than of Prince
John; and I would fain know somewhat of a faithful squire, and
why he now attends me not?"
"Let me use my authority as a leech," answered Rebecca, "and
enjoin you to keep silence, and avoid agitating reflections,
whilst I apprize you of what you desire to know. Prince John
hath broken off the tournament, and set forward in all haste
towards York, with the nobles, knights, and churchmen of his
party, after collecting such sums as they could wring, by fair
means or foul, from those who are esteemed the wealthy of the
land. It is said be designs to assume his brother's crown."
"Not without a blow struck in its defence," said Ivanhoe, raising
himself upon the couch, "if there were but one true subject in
England I will fight for Richard's title with the best of them
---ay, one or two, in his just quarrel!"
"But that you may be able to do so," said Rebecca touching his
shoulder with her hand, "you must now observe my directions, and
"True, maiden," said Ivanhoe, "as quiet as these disquieted times
will permit---And of Cedric and his household?"
"His steward came but brief while since," said the Jewess,
"panting with haste, to ask my father for certain monies, the
price of wool the growth of Cedric's flocks, and from him I
learned that Cedric and Athelstane of Coningsburgh had left
Prince John's lodging in high displeasure, and were about to set
forth on their return homeward."
"Went any lady with them to the banquet?" said Wilfred.
"The Lady Rowena," said Rebecca, answering the question with more
precision than it had been asked---"The Lady Rowena went not to
the Prince's feast, and, as the steward reported to us, she is
now on her journey back to Rotherwood, with her guardian Cedric.
And touching your faithful squire Gurth------"
"Ha!" exclaimed the knight, "knowest thou his name?---But thou
dost," he immediately added, "and well thou mayst, for it was
from thy hand, and, as I am now convinced, from thine own
generosity of spirit, that he received but yesterday a hundred
"Speak not of that," said Rebecca, blushing deeply; "I see how
easy it is for the tongue to betray what the heart would gladly
"But this sum of gold," said Ivanhoe, gravely, "my honour is
concerned in repaying it to your father."
"Let it be as thou wilt," said Rebecca, "when eight days have
passed away; but think not, and speak not now, of aught that may
retard thy recovery."
"Be it so, kind maiden," said Ivanhoe; "I were most ungrateful to
dispute thy commands. But one word of the fate of poor Gurth,
and I have done with questioning thee."
"I grieve to tell thee, Sir Knight," answered the Jewess, "that
he is in custody by the order of Cedric."---And then observing
the distress which her communication gave to Wilfred, she
instantly added, "But the steward Oswald said, that if nothing
occurred to renew his master's displeasure against him, he was
sure that Cedric would pardon Gurth, a faithful serf, and one who
stood high in favour, and who had but committed this error out of
the love which he bore to Cedric's son. And he said, moreover,
that he and his comrades, and especially Wamba the Jester, were
resolved to warn Gurth to make his escape by the way, in case
Cedric's ire against him could not be mitigated."
"Would to God they may keep their purpose!" said Ivanhoe; "but it
seems as if I were destined to bring ruin on whomsoever hath
shown kindness to me. My king, by whom I was honoured and
distinguished, thou seest that the brother most indebted to him
is raising his arms to grasp his crown;---my regard hath brought
restraint and trouble on the fairest of her sex;---and now my
father in his mood may slay this poor bondsman but for his love
and loyal service to me!---Thou seest, maiden, what an ill-fated
wretch thou dost labour to assist; be wise, and let me go, ere
the misfortunes which track my footsteps like slot-hounds, shall
involve thee also in their pursuit."
"Nay," said Rebecca, "thy weakness and thy grief, Sir Knight,
make thee miscalculate the purposes of Heaven. Thou hast been
restored to thy country when it most needed the assistance of a
strong hand and a true heart, and thou hast humbled the pride of
thine enemies and those of thy king, when their horn was most
highly exalted, and for the evil which thou hast sustained, seest
thou not that Heaven has raised thee a helper and a physician,
even among the most despised of the land?---Therefore, be of good
courage, and trust that thou art preserved for some marvel which
thine arm shall work before this people. Adieu---and having
taken the medicine which I shall send thee by the hand of Reuben,
compose thyself again to rest, that thou mayest be the more able
to endure the journey on the succeeding day."
Ivanhoe was convinced by the reasoning, and obeyed the
directions, of Rebecca. The drought which Reuben administered
was of a sedative and narcotic quality, and secured the patient
sound and undisturbed slumbers. In the morning his kind
physician found him entirely free from feverish symptoms, and fit
to undergo the fatigue of a journey.
He was deposited in the horse-litter which had brought him from
the lists, and every precaution taken for his travelling with
ease. In one circumstance only even the entreaties of Rebecca
were unable to secure sufficient attention to the accommodation
of the wounded knight. Isaac, like the enriched traveller of
Juvenal's tenth satire, had ever the fear of robbery before his
eyes, conscious that he would be alike accounted fair game by the
marauding Norman noble, and by the Saxon outlaw. He therefore
journeyed at a great rate, and made short halts, and shorter
repasts, so that he passed by Cedric and Athelstane who had
several hours the start of him, but who had been delayed by their
protracted feasting at the convent of Saint Withold's. Yet such
was the virtue of Miriam's balsam, or such the strength of
Ivanhoe's constitution, that he did not sustain from the hurried
journey that inconvenience which his kind physician had
In another point of view, however, the Jew's haste proved
somewhat more than good speed. The rapidity with which he
insisted on travelling, bred several disputes between him and the
party whom he had hired to attend him as a guard. These men were
Saxons, and not free by any means from the national love of ease
and good living which the Normans stigmatized as laziness and
gluttony. Reversing Shylock's position, they had accepted the
employment in hopes of feeding upon the wealthy Jew, and were
very much displeased when they found themselves disappointed, by
the rapidity with which he insisted on their proceeding. They
remonstrated also upon the risk of damage to their horses by
these forced marches. Finally, there arose betwixt Isaac and his
satellites a deadly feud, concerning the quantity of wine and ale
to be allowed for consumption at each meal. And thus it happened,
that when the alarm of danger approached, and that which Isaac
feared was likely to come upon him, he was deserted by the
discontented mercenaries on whose protection he had relied,
without using the means necessary to secure their attachment.
In this deplorable condition the Jew, with his daughter and her
wounded patient, were found by Cedric, as has already been
noticed, and soon afterwards fell into the power of De Bracy and
his confederates. Little notice was at first taken of the
horse-litter, and it might have remained behind but for the
curiosity of De Bracy, who looked into it under the impression
that it might contain the object of his enterprise, for Rowena
had not unveiled herself. But De Bracy's astonishment was
considerable, when he discovered that the litter contained a
wounded man, who, conceiving himself to have fallen into the
power of Saxon outlaws, with whom his name might be a protection
for himself and his friends, frankly avowed himself to be Wilfred
The ideas of chivalrous honour, which, amidst his wildness and
levity, never utterly abandoned De Bracy, prohibited him from
doing the knight any injury in his defenceless condition, and
equally interdicted his betraying him to Front-de-Boeuf, who
would have had no scruples to put to death, under any
circumstances, the rival claimant of the fief of Ivanhoe. On the
other hand, to liberate a suitor preferred by the Lady Rowena, as
the events of the tournament, and indeed Wilfred's previous
banishment from his father's house, had made matter of notoriety,
was a pitch far above the flight of De Bracy's generosity. A
middle course betwixt good and evil was all which he found
himself capable of adopting, and he commanded two of his own
squires to keep close by the litter, and to suffer no one to
approach it. If questioned, they were directed by their master
to say, that the empty litter of the Lady Rowena was employed to
transport one of their comrades who had been wounded in the
scuffle. On arriving at Torquilstone, while the Knight Templar
and the lord of that castle were each intent upon their own
schemes, the one on the Jew's treasure, and the other on his
daughter, De Bracy's squires conveyed Ivanhoe, still under the
name of a wounded comrade, to a distant apartment. This
explanation was accordingly returned by these men to
Front-de-Boeuf, when he questioned them why they did not make for
the battlements upon the alarm.
"A wounded companion!" he replied in great wrath and
astonishment. "No wonder that churls and yeomen wax so
presumptuous as even to lay leaguer before castles, and that
clowns and swineherds send defiances to nobles, since men-at-arms
have turned sick men's nurses, and Free Companions are grown
keepers of dying folk's curtains, when the castle is about to be
assailed.---To the battlements, ye loitering villains!" he
exclaimed, raising his stentorian voice till the arches around
rung again, "to the battlements, or I will splinter your bones
with this truncheon!"
The men sulkily replied, "that they desired nothing better than
to go to the battlements, providing Front-de-Boeuf would bear
them out with their master, who had commanded them to tend the
"The dying man, knaves!" rejoined the Baron; "I promise thee we
shall all be dying men an we stand not to it the more stoutly.
But I will relieve the guard upon this caitiff companion of
yours.---Here, Urfried---hag---fiend of a Saxon witch---hearest
me not?---tend me this bedridden fellow since he must needs be
tended, whilst these knaves use their weapons.---Here be two
arblasts, comrades, with windlaces and quarrells*
* The arblast was a cross-bow, the windlace the machine
* used in bending that weapon, and the quarrell, so called
* from its square or diamond-shaped head, was the bolt
* adapted to it.
---to the barbican with you, and see you drive each bolt through
a Saxon brain."
The men, who, like most of their description, were fond of
enterprise and detested inaction, went joyfully to the scene of
danger as they were commanded, and thus the charge of Ivanhoe was
transferred to Urfried, or Ulrica. But she, whose brain was
burning with remembrance of injuries and with hopes of vengeance,
was readily induced to devolve upon Rebecca the care of her
Ascend the watch-tower yonder, valiant soldier,
Look on the field, and say how goes the battle.
Schiller's Maid of Orleans
A moment of peril is often also a moment of open-hearted kindness
and affection. We are thrown off our guard by the general
agitation of our feelings, and betray the intensity of those,
which, at more tranquil periods, our prudence at least conceals,
if it cannot altogether suppress them. In finding herself once
more by the side of Ivanhoe, Rebecca was astonished at the keen
sensation of pleasure which she experienced, even at a time when
all around them both was danger, if not despair. As she felt his
pulse, and enquired after his health, there was a softness in her
touch and in her accents implying a kinder interest than she
would herself have been pleased to have voluntarily expressed.
Her voice faltered and her hand trembled, and it was only the
cold question of Ivanhoe, "Is it you, gentle maiden?" which
recalled her to herself, and reminded her the sensations which
she felt were not and could not be mutual. A sigh escaped, but
it was scarce audible; and the questions which she asked the
knight concerning his state of health were put in the tone of
calm friendship. Ivanhoe answered her hastily that he was, in
point of health, as well, and better than he could have expected
---"Thanks," he said, "dear Rebecca, to thy helpful skill."
"He calls me DEAR Rebecca," said the maiden to herself, "but it
is in the cold and careless tone which ill suits the word. His
war-horse---his hunting hound, are dearer to him than the
"My mind, gentle maiden," continued Ivanhoe, "is more disturbed
by anxiety, than my body with pain. From the speeches of those
men who were my warders just now, I learn that I am a prisoner,
and, if I judge aright of the loud hoarse voice which even now
dispatched them hence on some military duty, I am in the castle
of Front-de-Boeuf---If so, how will this end, or how can I
protect Rowena and my father?"
"He names not the Jew or Jewess," said Rebecca internally; "yet
what is our portion in him, and how justly am I punished by
Heaven for letting my thoughts dwell upon him!" She hastened
after this brief self-accusation to give Ivanhoe what information
she could; but it amounted only to this, that the Templar
Bois-Guilbert, and the Baron Front-de-Boeuf, were commanders
within the castle; that it was beleaguered from without, but by
whom she knew not. She added, that there was a Christian priest
within the castle who might be possessed of more information.
"A Christian priest!" said the knight, joyfully; "fetch him
hither, Rebecca, if thou canst---say a sick man desires his
ghostly counsel---say what thou wilt, but bring him---something I
must do or attempt, but how can I determine until I know how
matters stand without?"
Rebecca in compliance with the wishes of Ivanhoe, made that
attempt to bring Cedric into the wounded Knight's chamber,
which was defeated as we have already seen by the interference of
Urfried, who had also been on the watch to intercept the supposed
monk. Rebecca retired to communicate to Ivanhoe the result of
They had not much leisure to regret the failure of this source of
intelligence, or to contrive by what means it might be supplied;
for the noise within the castle, occasioned by the defensive
preparations which had been considerable for some time, now
increased into tenfold bustle and clamour. The heavy, yet hasty
step of the men-at-arms, traversed the battlements or resounded
on the narrow and winding passages and stairs which led to the
various bartisans and points of defence. The voices of the
knights were heard, animating their followers, or directing means
of defence, while their commands were often drowned in the
clashing of armour, or the clamorous shouts of those whom they
addressed. Tremendous as these sounds were, and yet more
terrible from the awful event which they presaged, there was a
sublimity mixed with them, which Rebecca's high-toned mind could
feel even in that moment of terror. Her eye kindled, although
the blood fled from her cheeks; and there was a strong mixture of
fear, and of a thrilling sense of the sublime, as she repeated,
half whispering to herself, half speaking to her companion, the
sacred text,---"The quiver rattleth---the glittering spear and
the shield---the noise of the captains and the shouting!"
But Ivanhoe was like the war-horse of that sublime passage,
glowing with impatience at his inactivity, and with his ardent
desire to mingle in the affray of which these sounds were the
introduction. "If I could but drag myself," he said, "to yonder
window, that I might see how this brave game is like to go---If I
had but bow to shoot a shaft, or battle-axe to strike were it but
a single blow for our deliverance!---It is in vain---it is in
vain---I am alike nerveless and weaponless!"
"Fret not thyself, noble knight," answered Rebecca, "the sounds
have ceased of a sudden---it may be they join not battle."
"Thou knowest nought of it," said Wilfred, impatiently; "this
dead pause only shows that the men are at their posts on the
walls, and expecting an instant attack; what we have heard was
but the instant muttering of the storm---it will burst anon in
all its fury.---Could I but reach yonder window!"
"Thou wilt but injure thyself by the attempt, noble knight,"
replied his attendant. Observing his extreme solicitude, she
firmly added, "I myself will stand at the lattice, and describe
to you as I can what passes without."
"You must not---you shall not!" exclaimed Ivanhoe; "each lattice,
each aperture, will be soon a mark for the archers; some random
"It shall be welcome!" murmured Rebecca, as with firm pace she
ascended two or three steps, which led to the window of which
"Rebecca, dear Rebecca!" exclaimed Ivanhoe, "this is no maiden's
pastime---do not expose thyself to wounds and death, and render
me for ever miserable for having given the occasion; at least,
cover thyself with yonder ancient buckler, and show as little of
your person at the lattice as may be."
Following with wonderful promptitude the directions of Ivanhoe,
and availing herself of the protection of the large ancient
shield, which she placed against the lower part of the window,
Rebecca, with tolerable security to herself, could witness part
of what was passing without the castle, and report to Ivanhoe the
preparations which the assailants were making for the storm.
Indeed the situation which she thus obtained was peculiarly
favourable for this purpose, because, being placed on an angle
of the main building, Rebecca could not only see what passed
beyond the precincts of the castle, but also commanded a view of
the outwork likely to be the first object of the meditated
assault. It was an exterior fortification of no great height
or strength, intended to protect the postern-gate, through which
Cedric had been recently dismissed by Front-de-Boeuf. The castle
moat divided this species of barbican from the rest of the
fortress, so that, in case of its being taken, it was easy to
cut off the communication with the main building, by withdrawing
the temporary bridge. In the outwork was a sallyport
corresponding to the postern of the castle, and the whole was
surrounded by a strong palisade. Rebecca could observe, from the
number of men placed for the defence of this post, that the
besieged entertained apprehensions for its safety; and from the
mustering of the assailants in a direction nearly opposite to the
outwork, it seemed no less plain that it had been selected as a
vulnerable point of attack.
These appearances she hastily communicated to Ivanhoe, and added,
"The skirts of the wood seem lined with archers, although only a
few are advanced from its dark shadow."
"Under what banner?" asked Ivanhoe.
"Under no ensign of war which I can observe," answered Rebecca.
"A singular novelty," muttered the knight, "to advance to storm
such a castle without pennon or banner displayed!---Seest thou
who they be that act as leaders?"
"A knight, clad in sable armour, is the most conspicuous," said
the Jewess; "he alone is armed from head to heel, and seems to
assume the direction of all around him."
"What device does he bear on his shield?" replied Ivanhoe.
"Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue
on the black shield."*
* Note F. Heraldry
"A fetterlock and shacklebolt azure," said Ivanhoe; "I know not
who may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine
own. Canst thou not see the motto?"
"Scarce the device itself at this distance," replied Rebecca;
"but when the sun glances fair upon his shield, it shows as I
"Seem there no other leaders?" exclaimed the anxious enquirer.
"None of mark and distinction that I can behold from this
station," said Rebecca; "but, doubtless, the other side of the
castle is also assailed. They appear even now preparing to
advance---God of Zion, protect us!---What a dreadful sight!
---Those who advance first bear huge shields and defences made of
plank; the others follow, bending their bows as they come on.
---They raise their bows!---God of Moses, forgive the creatures
thou hast made!"
Her description was here suddenly interrupted by the signal for
assault, which was given by the blast of a shrill bugle, and at
once answered by a flourish of the Norman trumpets from the
battlements, which, mingled with the deep and hollow clang of the
nakers, (a species of kettle-drum,) retorted in notes of defiance
the challenge of the enemy. The shouts of both parties augmented
the fearful din, the assailants crying, "Saint George for merry
England!" and the Normans answering them with loud cries of "En
avant De Bracy!---Beau-seant! Beau-seant!---Front-de-Boeuf a la
rescousse!" according to the war-cries of their different
It was not, however, by clamour that the contest was to be
decided, and the desperate efforts of the assailants were met by
an equally vigorous defence on the part of the besieged. The
archers, trained by their woodland pastimes to the most effective
use of the long-bow, shot, to use the appropriate phrase of the
time, so "wholly together," that no point at which a defender
could show the least part of his person, escaped their cloth-yard
shafts. By this heavy discharge, which continued as thick and
sharp as hail, while, notwithstanding, every arrow had its
individual aim, and flew by scores together against each
embrasure and opening in the parapets, as well as at every
window where a defender either occasionally had post, or might be
suspected to be stationed,---by this sustained discharge, two or
three of the garrison were slain, and several others wounded.
But, confident in their armour of proof, and in the cover which
their situation afforded, the followers of Front-de-Boeuf, and
his allies, showed an obstinacy in defence proportioned to the
fury of the attack and replied with the discharge of their large
cross-bows, as well as with their long-bows, slings, and other
missile weapons, to the close and continued shower of arrows;
and, as the assailants were necessarily but indifferently
protected, did considerably more damage than they received at
their hand. The whizzing of shafts and of missiles, on both
sides, was only interrupted by the shouts which arose when either
side inflicted or sustained some notable loss.
"And I must lie here like a bedridden monk," exclaimed Ivanhoe,
"while the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by
the hand of others!---Look from the window once again, kind
maiden, but beware that you are not marked by the archers beneath
--Look out once more, and tell me if they yet advance to the
With patient courage, strengthened by the interval which she had
employed in mental devotion, Rebecca again took post at the
lattice, sheltering herself, however, so as not to be visible
"What dost thou see, Rebecca?" again demanded the wounded knight.
"Nothing but the cloud of arrows flying so thick as to dazzle
mine eyes, and to hide the bowmen who shoot them."
"That cannot endure," said Ivanhoe; "if they press not right on
to carry the castle by pure force of arms, the archery may avail
but little against stone walls and bulwarks. Look for the Knight
of the Fetterlock, fair Rebecca, and see how he bears himself;
for as the leader is, so will his followers be."
"I see him not," said Rebecca.
"Foul craven!" exclaimed Ivanhoe; "does he blench from the helm
when the wind blows highest?"
"He blenches not! he blenches not!" said Rebecca, "I see him now;
he leads a body of men close under the outer barrier of the
* Every Gothic castle and city had, beyond the outer-walls,
* a fortification composed of palisades, called the
* barriers, which were often the scene of severe
* skirmishes, as these must necessarily be carried before
* the walls themselves could be approached. Many of those
* valiant feats of arms which adorn the chivalrous pages of
* Froissart took place at the barriers of besieged places.
---They pull down the piles and palisades; they hew down the
barriers with axes.---His high black plume floats abroad over the
throng, like a raven over the field of the slain.---They have
made a breach in the barriers---they rush in---they are thrust
back!---Front-de-Boeuf heads the defenders; I see his gigantic
form above the press. They throng again to the breach, and the
pass is disputed hand to hand, and man to man. God of Jacob! it
is the meeting of two fierce tides---the conflict of two oceans
moved by adverse winds!"
She turned her head from the lattice, as if unable longer to
endure a sight so terrible.
"Look forth again, Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, mistaking the cause of
her retiring; "the archery must in some degree have ceased, since
they are now fighting hand to hand.---Look again, there is now
Rebecca again looked forth, and almost immediately exclaimed,
"Holy prophets of the law! Front-de-Boeuf and the Black Knight
fight hand to hand on the breach, amid the roar of their
followers, who watch the progress of the strife---Heaven strike
with the cause of the oppressed and of the captive!" She then
uttered a loud shriek, and exclaimed, "He is down!---he is down!"
"Who is down?" cried Ivanhoe; "for our dear Lady's sake, tell me
which has fallen?"
"The Black Knight," answered Rebecca, faintly; then instantly
again shouted with joyful eagerness---"But no---but no!---the
name of the Lord of Hosts be blessed!---he is on foot again, and
fights as if there were twenty men's strength in his single arm
---His sword is broken---he snatches an axe from a yeoman---he
presses Front-de-Boeuf with blow on blow---The giant stoops and
totters like an oak under the steel of the woodman---he falls
"Front-de-Boeuf?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"Front-de-Boeuf!" answered the Jewess; "his men rush to the
rescue, headed by the haughty Templar---their united force
compels the champion to pause---They drag Front-de-Boeuf within
"The assailants have won the barriers, have they not?" said
"They have---they have!" exclaimed Rebecca---"and they press the
besieged hard upon the outer wall; some plant ladders, some swarm
like bees, and endeavour to ascend upon the shoulders of each
other---down go stones, beams, and trunks of trees upon their
heads, and as fast as they bear the wounded to the rear, fresh
men supply their places in the assault---Great God! hast thou
given men thine own image, that it should be thus cruelly defaced
by the hands of their brethren!"
"Think not of that," said Ivanhoe; "this is no time for such
thoughts---Who yield?---who push their way?"
"The ladders are thrown down," replied Rebecca, shuddering; "the
soldiers lie grovelling under them like crushed reptiles---The
besieged have the better."
"Saint George strike for us!" exclaimed the knight; "do the false
yeomen give way?"
"No!" exclaimed Rebecca, "they bear themselves right yeomanly
---the Black Knight approaches the postern with his huge axe
---the thundering blows which he deals, you may hear them above
all the din and shouts of the battle---Stones and beams are
hailed down on the bold champion---he regards them no more than
if they were thistle-down or feathers!"
"By Saint John of Acre," said Ivanhoe, raising himself joyfully
on his couch, "methought there was but one man in England that
might do such a deed!"
"The postern gate shakes," continued Rebecca; "it crashes---it is
splintered by his blows---they rush in---the outwork is won---Oh,
God!---they hurl the defenders from the battlements---they throw
them into the moat---O men, if ye be indeed men, spare them that
can resist no longer!"
"The bridge---the bridge which communicates with the castle
---have they won that pass?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"No," replied Rebecca, "The Templar has destroyed the plank on
which they crossed---few of the defenders escaped with him into
the castle--- the shrieks and cries which you hear tell the fate
of the others---Alas!---I see it is still more difficult to look
upon victory than upon battle."
"What do they now, maiden?" said Ivanhoe; "look forth yet again
---this is no time to faint at bloodshed."
"It is over for the time," answered Rebecca; "our friends
strengthen themselves within the outwork which they have
mastered, and it affords them so good a shelter from the foemen's
shot, that the garrison only bestow a few bolts on it from
interval to interval, as if rather to disquiet than effectually
to injure them."
"Our friends," said Wilfred, "will surely not abandon an
enterprise so gloriously begun and so happily attained.---O no!
I will put my faith in the good knight whose axe hath rent
heart-of-oak and bars of iron.---Singular," he again muttered to
himself, "if there be two who can do a deed of such derring-do!*
* "Derring-do"---desperate courage.
---a fetterlock, and a shacklebolt on a field sable---what may
that mean?---seest thou nought else, Rebecca, by which the Black
Knight may be distinguished?"
"Nothing," said the Jewess; "all about him is black as the wing
of the night raven. Nothing can I spy that can mark him further
---but having once seen him put forth his strength in battle,
methinks I could know him again among a thousand warriors. He
rushes to the fray as if he were summoned to a banquet. There is
more than mere strength, there seems as if the whole soul and
spirit of the champion were given to every blow which he deals
upon his enemies. God assoilize him of the sin of bloodshed!
---it is fearful, yet magnificent, to behold how the arm and
heart of one man can triumph over hundreds."
"Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, "thou hast painted a hero; surely they
rest but to refresh their force, or to provide the means of
crossing the moat---Under such a leader as thou hast spoken this
knight to be, there are no craven fears, no cold-blooded delays,
no yielding up a gallant emprize; since the difficulties which
render it arduous render it also glorious. I swear by the honour
of my house---I vow by the name of my bright lady-love, I would
endure ten years' captivity to fight one day by that good
knight's side in such a quarrel as this!"
"Alas," said Rebecca, leaving her station at the window, and
approaching the couch of the wounded knight, "this impatient
yearning after action---this struggling with and repining at your
present weakness, will not fail to injure your returning health
---How couldst thou hope to inflict wounds on others, ere that be
healed which thou thyself hast received?"
"Rebecca," he replied, "thou knowest not how impossible it is for
one trained to actions of chivalry to remain passive as a priest,
or a woman, when they are acting deeds of honour around him. The
love of battle is the food upon which we live---the dust of the
'melee' is the breath of our nostrils! We live not---we wish not
to live---longer than while we are victorious and renowned
---Such, maiden, are the laws of chivalry to which we are sworn,
and to which we offer all that we hold dear."
"Alas!" said the fair Jewess, "and what is it, valiant knight,
save an offering of sacrifice to a demon of vain glory, and a
passing through the fire to Moloch?---What remains to you as the
prize of all the blood you have spilled---of all the travail and
pain you have endured---of all the tears which your deeds have
caused, when death hath broken the strong man's spear, and
overtaken the speed of his war-horse?"
"What remains?" cried Ivanhoe; "Glory, maiden, glory! which gilds
our sepulchre and embalms our name."
"Glory?" continued Rebecca; "alas, is the rusted mail which hangs
as a hatchment over the champion's dim and mouldering tomb---is
the defaced sculpture of the inscription which the ignorant monk
can hardly read to the enquiring pilgrim---are these sufficient
rewards for the sacrifice of every kindly affection, for a life
spent miserably that ye may make others miserable? Or is there
such virtue in the rude rhymes of a wandering bard, that domestic
love, kindly affection, peace and happiness, are so wildly
bartered, to become the hero of those ballads which vagabond
minstrels sing to drunken churls over their evening ale?"
"By the soul of Hereward?" replied the knight impatiently, "thou
speakest, maiden, of thou knowest not what. Thou wouldst quench
the pure light of chivalry, which alone distinguishes the noble
from the base, the gentle knight from the churl and the savage;
which rates our life far, far beneath the pitch of our honour;
raises us victorious over pain, toil, and suffering, and teaches
us to fear no evil but disgrace. Thou art no Christian, Rebecca;
and to thee are unknown those high feelings which swell the bosom
of a noble maiden when her lover hath done some deed of emprize
which sanctions his flame. Chivalry!---why, maiden, she is the
nurse of pure and high affection---the stay of the oppressed, the
redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant
---Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds
the best protection in her lance and her sword."
"I am, indeed," said Rebecca, "sprung from a race whose courage
was distinguished in the defence of their own land, but who
warred not, even while yet a nation, save at the command of the
Deity, or in defending their country from oppression. The sound
of the trumpet wakes Judah no longer, and her despised children
are now but the unresisting victims of hostile and military
oppression. Well hast thou spoken, Sir Knight,---until the God
of Jacob shall raise up for his chosen people a second Gideon, or
a new Maccabeus, it ill beseemeth the Jewish damsel to speak of
battle or of war."
The high-minded maiden concluded the argument in a tone of
sorrow, which deeply expressed her sense of the degradation of
her people, embittered perhaps by the idea that Ivanhoe
considered her as one not entitled to interfere in a case of
honour, and incapable of entertaining or expressing sentiments of
honour and generosity.
"How little he knows this bosom," she said, "to imagine that
cowardice or meanness of soul must needs be its guests, because I
have censured the fantastic chivalry of the Nazarenes! Would to
heaven that the shedding of mine own blood, drop by drop, could
redeem the captivity of Judah! Nay, would to God it could avail
to set free my father, and this his benefactor, from the chains
of the oppressor! The proud Christian should then see whether
the daughter of God's chosen people dared not to die as bravely
as the vainest Nazarene maiden, that boasts her descent from some
petty chieftain of the rude and frozen north!"
She then looked towards the couch of the wounded knight.
"He sleeps," she said; "nature exhausted by sufferance and the
waste of spirits, his wearied frame embraces the first moment of
temporary relaxation to sink into slumber. Alas! is it a crime
that I should look upon him, when it may be for the last time?
---When yet but a short space, and those fair features will be no
longer animated by the bold and buoyant spirit which forsakes
them not even in sleep!---When the nostril shall be distended,
the mouth agape, the eyes fixed and bloodshot; and when the proud
and noble knight may be trodden on by the lowest caitiff of this
accursed castle, yet stir not when the heel is lifted up against
him!---And my father!---oh, my father! evil is it with his
daughter, when his grey hairs are not remembered because of the
golden locks of youth!---What know I but that these evils are the
messengers of Jehovah's wrath to the unnatural child, who thinks
of a stranger's captivity before a parent's? who forgets the
desolation of Judah, and looks upon the comeliness of a Gentile
and a stranger?---But I will tear this folly from my heart,
though every fibre bleed as I rend it away!"
She wrapped herself closely in her veil, and sat down at a
distance from the couch of the wounded knight, with her back
turned towards it, fortifying, or endeavouring to fortify her
mind, not only against the impending evils from without, but also
against those treacherous feelings which assailed her from
Approach the chamber, look upon his bed.
His is the passing of no peaceful ghost,
Which, as the lark arises to the sky,
'Mid morning's sweetest breeze and softest dew,
Is wing'd to heaven by good men's sighs and tears!---
Anselm parts otherwise.
During the interval of quiet which followed the first success of
the besiegers, while the one party was preparing to pursue their
advantage, and the other to strengthen their means of defence,
the Templar and De Bracy held brief council together in the hall
of the castle.
"Where is Front-de-Boeuf?" said the latter, who had superintended
the defence of the fortress on the other side; "men say he hath
"He lives," said the Templar, coolly, "lives as yet; but had he
worn the bull's head of which he bears the name, and ten plates
of iron to fence it withal, he must have gone down before yonder
fatal axe. Yet a few hours, and Front-de-Boeuf is with his
fathers---a powerful limb lopped off Prince John's enterprise."
"And a brave addition to the kingdom of Satan," said De Bracy;
"this comes of reviling saints and angels, and ordering images of
holy things and holy men to be flung down on the heads of these
"Go to---thou art a fool," said the Templar; "thy superstition is
upon a level with Front-de-Boeuf's want of faith; neither of you
can render a reason for your belief or unbelief."
"Benedicite, Sir Templar," replied De Bracy, "pray you to keep
better rule with your tongue when I am the theme of it. By the
Mother of Heaven, I am a better Christian man than thou and thy
fellowship; for the 'bruit' goeth shrewdly out, that the most
holy Order of the Temple of Zion nurseth not a few heretics
within its bosom, and that Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert is of the
"Care not thou for such reports," said the Templar; "but let us
think of making good the castle.---How fought these villain
yeomen on thy side?"
"Like fiends incarnate," said De Bracy. "They swarmed close up to
the walls, headed, as I think, by the knave who won the prize at
the archery, for I knew his horn and baldric. And this is old
Fitzurse's boasted policy, encouraging these malapert knaves to
rebel against us! Had I not been armed in proof, the villain had
marked me down seven times with as little remorse as if I had
been a buck in season. He told every rivet on my armour with a
cloth-yard shaft, that rapped against my ribs with as little
compunction as if my bones had been of iron---But that I wore a
shirt of Spanish mail under my plate-coat, I had been fairly
"But you maintained your post?" said the Templar. "We lost the
outwork on our part."
"That is a shrewd loss," said De Bracy; "the knaves will find
cover there to assault the castle more closely, and may, if not
well watched, gain some unguarded corner of a tower, or some
forgotten window, and so break in upon us. Our numbers are too
few for the defence of every point, and the men complain that
they can nowhere show themselves, but they are the mark for as
many arrows as a parish-butt on a holyday even. Front-de-Boeuf
is dying too, so we shall receive no more aid from his bull's
head and brutal strength. How think you, Sir Brian, were we not
better make a virtue of necessity, and compound with the rogues
by delivering up our prisoners?"
"How?" exclaimed the Templar; "deliver up our prisoners, and
stand an object alike of ridicule and execration, as the doughty
warriors who dared by a night-attack to possess themselves of the
persons of a party of defenceless travellers, yet could not make
good a strong castle against a vagabond troop of outlaws, led by
swineherds, jesters, and the very refuse of mankind?---Shame on
thy counsel, Maurice de Bracy!---The ruins of this castle shall
bury both my body and my shame, ere I consent to such base and
"Let us to the walls, then," said De Bracy, carelessly; "that man
never breathed, be he Turk or Templar, who held life at lighter
rate than I do. But I trust there is no dishonour in wishing I
had here some two scores of my gallant troop of Free Companions?
---Oh, my brave lances! if ye knew but how hard your captain were
this day bested, how soon should I see my banner at the head of
your clump of spears! And how short while would these rabble
villains stand to endure your encounter!"
"Wish for whom thou wilt," said the Templar, "but let us make
what defence we can with the soldiers who remain---They are
chiefly Front-de-Boeuf's followers, hated by the English for a
thousand acts of insolence and oppression."
"The better," said De Bracy; "the rugged slaves will defend
themselves to the last drop of their blood, ere they encounter
the revenge of the peasants without. Let us up and be doing,
then, Brian de Bois-Guilbert; and, live or die, thou shalt see
Maurice de Bracy bear himself this day as a gentleman of blood
"To the walls!" answered the Templar; and they both ascended the
battlements to do all that skill could dictate, and manhood
accomplish, in defence of the place. They readily agreed that
the point of greatest danger was that opposite to the outwork of
which the assailants had possessed themselves. The castle,
indeed, was divided from that barbican by the moat, and it was
impossible that the besiegers could assail the postern-door, with
which the outwork corresponded, without surmounting that
obstacle; but it was the opinion both of the Templar and De
Bracy, that the besiegers, if governed by the same policy their
leader had already displayed, would endeavour, by a formidable
assault, to draw the chief part of the defenders' observation to
this point, and take measures to avail themselves of every
negligence which might take place in the defence elsewhere. To
guard against such an evil, their numbers only permitted the
knights to place sentinels from space to space along the walls in
communication with each other, who might give the alarm whenever
danger was threatened. Meanwhile, they agreed that De Bracy
should command the defence at the postern, and the Templar should
keep with him a score of men or thereabouts as a body of reserve,
ready to hasten to any other point which might be suddenly
threatened. The loss of the barbican had also this unfortunate
effect, that, notwithstanding the superior height of the castle
walls, the besieged could not see from them, with the same
precision as before, the operations of the enemy; for some
straggling underwood approached so near the sallyport of the
outwork, that the assailants might introduce into it whatever
force they thought proper, not only under cover, but even
without the knowledge of the defenders. Utterly uncertain,
therefore, upon what point the storm was to burst, De Bracy and
his companion were under the necessity of providing against every
possible contingency, and their followers, however brave,
experienced the anxious dejection of mind incident to men
enclosed by enemies, who possessed the power of choosing their
time and mode of attack.
Meanwhile, the lord of the beleaguered and endangered castle lay
upon a bed of bodily pain and mental agony. He had not the usual
resource of bigots in that superstitious period, most of whom
were wont to atone for the crimes they were guilty of by
liberality to the church, stupefying by this means their terrors
by the idea of atonement and forgiveness; and although the refuge
which success thus purchased, was no more like to the peace of
mind which follows on sincere repentance, than the turbid
stupefaction procured by opium resembles healthy and natural
slumbers, it was still a state of mind preferable to the agonies
of awakened remorse. But among the vices of Front-de-Boeuf, a
hard and griping man, avarice was predominant; and he preferred
setting church and churchmen at defiance, to purchasing from them
pardon and absolution at the price of treasure and of manors.
Nor did the Templar, an infidel of another stamp, justly
characterise his associate, when he said Front-de-Boeuf could
assign no cause for his unbelief and contempt for the established
faith; for the Baron would have alleged that the Church sold her
wares too dear, that the spiritual freedom which she put up to
sale was only to be bought like that of the chief captain of
Jerusalem, "with a great sum," and Front-de-Boeuf preferred
denying the virtue of the medicine, to paying the expense of the
But the moment had now arrived when earth and all his treasures
were gliding from before his eyes, and when the savage Baron's
heart, though hard as a nether millstone, became appalled as he
gazed forward into the waste darkness of futurity. The fever of
his body aided the impatience and agony of his mind, and his
death-bed exhibited a mixture of the newly awakened feelings of
horror, combating with the fixed and inveterate obstinacy of his
disposition;---a fearful state of mind, only to be equalled in
those tremendous regions, where there are complaints without
hope, remorse without repentance, a dreadful sense of present
agony, and a presentiment that it cannot cease or be diminished!
"Where be these dog-priests now," growled the Baron, "who set
such price on their ghostly mummery?---where be all those unshod
Carmelites, for whom old Front-de-Boeuf founded the convent of St
Anne, robbing his heir of many a fair rood of meadow, and many a
fat field and close---where be the greedy hounds now?---Swilling,
I warrant me, at the ale, or playing their juggling tricks at the
bedside of some miserly churl.---Me, the heir of their founder
---me, whom their foundation binds them to pray for---me
---ungrateful villains as they are!---they suffer to die like the
houseless dog on yonder common, unshriven and unhouseled!---Tell
the Templar to come hither---he is a priest, and may do something
---But no!---as well confess myself to the devil as to Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, who recks neither of heaven nor of hell.---I have
heard old men talk of prayer---prayer by their own voice---Such
need not to court or to bribe the false priest---But I---I dare
"Lives Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," said a broken and shrill voice
close by his bedside, "to say there is that which he dares not!"
The evil conscience and the shaken nerves of Front-de-Boeuf
heard, in this strange interruption to his soliloquy, the voice
of one of those demons, who, as the superstition of the times
believed, beset the beds of dying men to distract their thoughts,
and turn them from the meditations which concerned their eternal
welfare. He shuddered and drew himself together; but, instantly
summoning up his wonted resolution, he exclaimed, "Who is there?
---what art thou, that darest to echo my words in a tone like
that of the night-raven?---Come before my couch that I may see
"I am thine evil angel, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," replied the
"Let me behold thee then in thy bodily shape, if thou best indeed
a fiend," replied the dying knight; "think not that I will blench
from thee.---By the eternal dungeon, could I but grapple with
these horrors that hover round me, as I have done with mortal
dangers, heaven or hell should never say that I shrunk from the
"Think on thy sins, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," said the almost
unearthly voice, "on rebellion, on rapine, on murder!---Who
stirred up the licentious John to war against his grey-headed
father---against his generous brother?"
"Be thou fiend, priest, or devil," replied Front-de-Boeuf, "thou
liest in thy throat!---Not I stirred John to rebellion---not I
alone---there were fifty knights and barons, the flower of the
midland counties---better men never laid lance in rest---And
must I answer for the fault done by fifty?---False fiend, I defy
thee! Depart, and haunt my couch no more---let me die in peace
if thou be mortal---if thou be a demon, thy time is not yet
"In peace thou shalt NOT die," repeated the voice; "even in death
shalt thou think on thy murders---on the groans which this castle
has echoed--- on the blood that is engrained in its floors!"
"Thou canst not shake me by thy petty malice," answered
Front-de-Boeuf, with a ghastly and constrained laugh. "The
infidel Jew---it was merit with heaven to deal with him as I did,
else wherefore are men canonized who dip their hands in the blood
of Saracens?---The Saxon porkers, whom I have slain, they were
the foes of my country, and of my lineage, and of my liege lord.
---Ho! ho! thou seest there is no crevice in my coat of plate
---Art thou fled?---art thou silenced?"
"No, foul parricide!" replied the voice; "think of thy father!
---think of his death!---think of his banquet-room flooded with
his gore, and that poured forth by the hand of a son!"
"Ha!" answered the Baron, after a long pause, "an thou knowest
that, thou art indeed the author of evil, and as omniscient as
the monks call thee!---That secret I deemed locked in my own
breast, and in that of one besides---the temptress, the partaker
of my guilt.---Go, leave me, fiend! and seek the Saxon witch
Ulrica, who alone could tell thee what she and I alone witnessed.
---Go, I say, to her, who washed the wounds, and straighted the
corpse, and gave to the slain man the outward show of one parted
in time and in the course of nature---Go to her, she was my
temptress, the foul provoker, the more foul rewarder, of the deed
---let her, as well as I, taste of the tortures which anticipate
"She already tastes them," said Ulrica, stepping before the couch
of Front-de-Boeuf; "she hath long drunken of this cup, and its
bitterness is now sweetened to see that thou dost partake it.
---Grind not thy teeth, Front-de-Boeuf---roll not thine eyes
---clench not thine hand, nor shake it at me with that gesture of
menace!---The hand which, like that of thy renowned ancestor who
gained thy name, could have broken with one stroke the skull of a
mountain-bull, is now unnerved and powerless as mine own!"
"Vile murderous hag!" replied Front-de-Boeuf; "detestable
screech-owl! it is then thou who art come to exult over the ruins
thou hast assisted to lay low?"
"Ay, Reginald Front-de-Boeuf," answered she, "it is Ulrica!---it
is the daughter of the murdered Torquil Wolfganger!---it is the
sister of his slaughtered sons!---it is she who demands of thee,
and of thy father's house, father and kindred, name and fame
---all that she has lost by the name of Front-de-Boeuf!---Think
of my wrongs, Front-de-Boeuf, and answer me if I speak not truth.
Thou hast been my evil angel, and I will be thine---I will dog
thee till the very instant of dissolution!"
"Detestable fury!" exclaimed Front-de-Boeuf, "that moment shalt
thou never witness---Ho! Giles, Clement, and Eustace! Saint Maur,
and Stephen! seize this damned witch, and hurl her from the
battlements headlong---she has betrayed us to the Saxon!---Ho!
Saint Maur! Clement! false-hearted, knaves, where tarry ye?"
"Call on them again, valiant Baron," said the hag, with a smile
of grisly mockery; "summon thy vassals around thee, doom them
that loiter to the scourge and the dungeon---But know, mighty
chief," she continued, suddenly changing her tone, "thou shalt
have neither answer, nor aid, nor obedience at their hands.
---Listen to these horrid sounds," for the din of the
recommenced assault and defence now rung fearfully loud from the
battlements of the castle; "in that war-cry is the downfall of
thy house---The blood-cemented fabric of Front-de-Boeuf's power
totters to the foundation, and before the foes he most despised!
---The Saxon, Reginald!---the scorned Saxon assails thy walls!
---Why liest thou here, like a worn-out hind, when the Saxon
storms thy place of strength?"
"Gods and fiends!" exclaimed the wounded knight; "O, for one
moment's strength, to drag myself to the 'melee', and perish as
becomes my name!"
"Think not of it, valiant warrior!" replied she; "thou shalt die
no soldier's death, but perish like the fox in his den, when the
peasants have set fire to the cover around it."
"Hateful hag! thou liest!" exclaimed Front-de-Boeuf; "my
followers bear them bravely---my walls are strong and high---my
comrades in arms fear not a whole host of Saxons, were they
headed by Hengist and Horsa!---The war-cry of the Templar and of
the Free Companions rises high over the conflict! And by mine
honour, when we kindle the blazing beacon, for joy of our
defence, it shall consume thee, body and bones; and I shall live
to hear thou art gone from earthly fires to those of that hell,
which never sent forth an incarnate fiend more utterly
"Hold thy belief," replied Ulrica, "till the proof reach thee
---But, no!" she said, interrupting herself, "thou shalt know,
even now, the doom, which all thy power, strength, and courage,
is unable to avoid, though it is prepared for thee by this feeble
band. Markest thou the smouldering and suffocating vapour which
already eddies in sable folds through the chamber?---Didst thou
think it was but the darkening of thy bursting eyes---the
difficulty of thy cumbered breathing?---No! Front-de-Boeuf, there
is another cause---Rememberest thou the magazine of fuel that is
stored beneath these apartments?"
"Woman!" he exclaimed with fury, "thou hast not set fire to it?
---By heaven, thou hast, and the castle is in flames!"
"They are fast rising at least," said Ulrica, with frightful
composure; "and a signal shall soon wave to warn the besiegers to
press hard upon those who would extinguish them.---Farewell,
Front-de-Boeuf!---May Mista, Skogula, and Zernebock, gods of the
ancient Saxons---fiends, as the priests now call them---supply
the place of comforters at your dying bed, which Ulrica now
relinquishes!---But know, if it will give thee comfort to know
it, that Ulrica is bound to the same dark coast with thyself, the
companion of thy punishment as the companion of thy guilt.---And
now, parricide, farewell for ever!---May each stone of this
vaulted roof find a tongue to echo that title into thine ear!"
So saying, she left the apartment; and Front-de-Boeuf could hear
the crash of the ponderous key, as she locked and double-locked
the door behind her, thus cutting off the most slender chance of
escape. In the extremity of agony he shouted upon his servants
and allies--"Stephen and Saint Maur!---Clement and Giles!---I
burn here unaided!---To the rescue---to the rescue, brave
Bois-Guilbert, valiant De Bracy!---It is Front-de-Boeuf who
calls!---It is your master, ye traitor squires!---Your ally
---your brother in arms, ye perjured and faithless knights!---all
the curses due to traitors upon your recreant heads, do you
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