There never was a time on the march parts yet,
When Scottish with English met,
But it was marvel if the red blood ran not
As the rain does in the street.
BATTLE OF OTTERBOURNE.
 A CONSIDERABLE band of Scottish warriors had joined the
Crusaders, and had naturally placed themselves under the command
of the English monarch, being, like his native troops, most of
them of Saxon and Norman descent, speaking the same languages,
possessed, some of them, of English as well as Scottish demesnes,
and allied in some cases by blood and intermarriage. The period
also preceded that when the grasping ambition of Edward I. gave a
deadly and envenomed character to the wars betwixt the two
nations—the English fighting for the subjugation of Scotland,
and the Scottish, with all the stern determination and obstinacy
which has ever characterized their nation, for the defence of
their independence, by the most violent means, under the most
disadvantageous circumstances, and at the most extreme hazard.
As yet, wars betwixt the two nations, though fierce and frequent,
had been conducted on principles of fair hostility, and admitted
of those softening shades by which courtesy and the respect for
open and generous foemen qualify and mitigate the horrors of war.
In time of peace, therefore, and especially when both, as at
present, were engaged in war, waged in behalf of a common cause,
and rendered dear to them by their ideas of religion, the
adventurers of both countries frequently fought side by side,
their national emulation serving only to stimulate them to excel
each other in their efforts against the common enemy.
The frank and martial character of Richard, who made no
distinction betwixt his own subjects and those of William of
Scotland, excepting as they bore themselves in the field of
battle, tended much to conciliate the troops of both nations.
But upon his illness, and the disadvantageous circumstances in
which the Crusaders were placed, the national disunion between
the various bands united in the Crusade, began to display itself,
just as old wounds break out afresh in the human body when under
the influence of disease or debility.
The Scottish and English, equally jealous and high-spirited, and
apt to take offence—the former the more so, because the poorer
and the weaker nation—began to fill up by internal dissension
the period when the truce forbade them to wreak their united
vengeance on the Saracens. Like the contending Roman chiefs of
old, the Scottish would admit no superiority, and their southern
neighbours would brook no equality. There were charges and
recriminations, and both the common soldiery and their leaders
and commanders, who had been good comrades in time of victory,
lowered on each other in the period of adversity, as if their
union had not been then more essential than ever, not only to the
success of their common cause, but to their joint safety. The
same disunion had begun to show itself betwixt the French and
English, the Italians and the Germans, and even between the Danes
and Swedes; but it is only that which divided the two nations
whom one island bred, and who seemed more animated against each
other for the very reason, that our narrative is principally
Of all the English nobles who had followed their King to
Palestine, De Vaux was most prejudiced against the Scottish.
They were his near neighbours, with whom he had been engaged
during his whole life in private or public warfare, and on whom
he had inflicted many calamities, while he had sustained at their
hands not a few. His love and devotion to the King was like the
vivid affection of the old English mastiff to his master, leaving
him churlish and inaccessible to all others even towards those to
whom he was indifferent—and rough and dangerous to any against
whom he entertained a prejudice. De Vaux had never observed
without jealousy and displeasure his King exhibit any mark of
courtesy or favour to the wicked, deceitful, and ferocious race
born on the other side of a river, or an imaginary line drawn
through waste and wilderness; and he even doubted the success of
a Crusade in which they were suffered to bear arms, holding them
in his secret soul little better than the Saracens whom he came
to combat. It may be added that, as being himself a blunt and
downright Englishman, unaccustomed to conceal the slightest
movement either of love or of dislike, he accounted the fair-spoken
courtesy which the Scots had learned, either from
imitation of their frequent allies, the French, or which might
have arisen from their own proud and reserved character, as a
false and astucious mark of the most dangerous designs against
their neighbours, over whom he believed, with genuine English
confidence, they could, by fair manhood, never obtain any
Yet, though De Vaux entertained these sentiments concerning his
Northern neighbours, and extended them, with little mitigation,
even to such as had assumed the Cross, his respect for the King,
and a sense of the duty imposed by his vow as a Crusader,
prevented him from displaying them otherwise than by regularly
shunning all intercourse with his Scottish brethren-at-arms as
far as possible, by observing a sullen taciturnity when compelled
to meet them occasionally, and by looking scornfully upon them
when they encountered on the march and in camp. The Scottish
barons and knights were not men to bear his scorn unobserved or
unreplied to; and it came to that pass that he was regarded as
the determined and active enemy of a nation, whom, after all, he
only disliked, and in some sort despised. Nay, it was remarked
by close observers that, if he had not towards them the charity
of Scripture, which suffereth long, and judges kindly, he was by
no means deficient in the subordinate and limited virtue, which
alleviates and relieves the wants of others. The wealth of
Thomas of Gilsland procured supplies of provisions and medicines,
and some of these usually flowed by secret channels into the
quarters of the Scottish—his surly benevolence proceeding on the
principle that, next to a man's friend, his foe was of most
importance to him, passing over all the intermediate relations as
too indifferent to merit even a thought. This explanation is
necessary, in order that the reader may fully understand what we
are now to detail.
Thomas de Vaux had not made many steps beyond the entrance of the
royal pavilion when he was aware of what the far more acute ear
of the English monarch—no mean proficient in the art of
minstrelsy—had instantly discovered, that the musical strains,
namely, which had reached their ears, were produced by the pipes,
shalms, and kettle-drums of the Saracens; and at the bottom of an
avenue of tents, which formed a broad access to the pavilion of
Richard, he could see a crowd of idle soldiers assembled around
the spot from which the music was heard, almost in the centre of
the camp; and he saw, with great surprise, mingled amid the
helmets of various forms worn by the Crusaders of different
nations, white turbans and long pikes, announcing the presence of
armed Saracens, and the huge deformed heads of several camels or
dromedaries, overlooking the multitude by aid of their long,
Wondering, and displeased at a sight so unexpected and singular
—for it was customary to leave all flags of truce and other
communications from the enemy at an appointed place without the
barriers—the baron looked eagerly round for some one of whom he
might inquire the cause of this alarming novelty.
The first person whom he met advancing to him he set down at
once, by his grave and haughty step, as a Spaniard or a Scot; and
presently after muttered to himself, "And a Scot it is—he of the
Leopard. I have seen him fight indifferently well, for one of
Loath to ask even a passing question, he was about to pass Sir
Kenneth, with that sullen and lowering port which seems to say,
"I know thee, but I will hold no communication with thee." But
his purpose was defeated by the Northern Knight, who moved
forward directly to him, and accosting him with formal courtesy,
said, "My Lord de Vaux of Gilsland, I have in charge to speak
"Ha!" returned the English baron, "with me? But say your
pleasure, so it be shortly spoken—I am on the King's errand."
"Mine touches King Richard yet more nearly," answered Sir
Kenneth; "I bring him, I trust, health."
The Lord of Gilsland measured the Scot with incredulous eyes, and
replied, "Thou art no leech, I think, Sir Scot; I had as soon
thought of your bringing the King of England wealth."
Sir Kenneth, though displeased with the manner of the baron's
reply, answered calmly, "Health to Richard is glory and wealth to
Christendom.—But my time presses; I pray you, may I see the
"Surely not, fair sir," said the baron, "until your errand be
told more distinctly. The sick chambers of princes open not to
all who inquire, like a northern hostelry."
"My lord," said Kenneth, "the cross which I wear in common with
yourself, and the importance of what I have to tell, must, for
the present, cause me to pass over a bearing which else I were
unapt to endure. In plain language, then, I bring with me a
Moorish physician, who undertakes to work a cure on King
"A Moorish physician!" said De Vaux; "and who will warrant that
he brings not poisons instead of remedies?"
"His own life, my lord—his head, which he offers as a
"I have known many a resolute ruffian," said De Vaux, "who valued
his own life as little as it deserved, and would troop to the
gallows as merrily as if the hangman were his partner in a
"But thus it is, my lord," replied the Scot. "Saladin, to whom
none will deny the credit of a generous and valiant enemy, hath
sent this leech hither with an honourable retinue and guard,
befitting the high estimation in which El Hakim [The Physician]
is held by the Soldan, and with fruits and refreshments for the
King's private chamber, and such message as may pass betwixt
honourable enemies, praying him to be recovered of his fever,
that he may be the fitter to receive a visit from the Soldan,
with his naked scimitar in his hand, and a hundred thousand
cavaliers at his back. Will it please you, who are of the King's
secret council, to cause these camels to be discharged of their
burdens, and some order taken as to the reception of the learned
"Wonderful!" said De Vaux, as speaking to himself.—"And who
will vouch for the honour of Saladin, in a case when bad faith
would rid him at once of his most powerful adversary?"
"I myself," replied Sir Kenneth, "will be his guarantee, with
honour, life, and fortune."
"Strange!" again ejaculated De Vaux; "the North vouches for the
South—the Scot for the Turk! May I crave of you, Sir Knight,
how you became concerned in this affair?"
"I have been absent on a pilgrimage, in the course of which,"
replied Sir Kenneth "I had a message to discharge towards the
holy hermit of Engaddi."
"May I not be entrusted with it, Sir Kenneth, and with the answer
of the holy man?"
"It may not be, my lord," answered the Scot.
"I am of the secret council of England," said the Englishman
"To which land I owe no allegiance," said Kenneth. "Though I
have voluntarily followed in this war the personal fortunes of
England's sovereign, I was dispatched by the General Council of
the kings, princes, and supreme leaders of the army of the
Blessed Cross, and to them only I render my errand."
"Ha! sayest thou?" said the proud Baron de Vaux. "But know,
messenger of the kings and princes as thou mayest be, no leech
shall approach the sick-bed of Richard of England without the
consent of him of Gilsland; and they will come on evil errand who
dare to intrude themselves against it."
He was turning loftily away, when the Scot, placing himself
closer, and more opposite to him, asked, in a calm voice, yet not
without expressing his share of pride, whether the Lord of
Gilsland esteemed him a gentleman and a good knight.
"All Scots are ennobled by their birthright," answered Thomas de
Vaux, something ironically; but sensible of his own injustice,
and perceiving that Kenneth's colour rose, he added, "For a good
knight it were sin to doubt you, in one at least who has seen you
well and bravely discharge your devoir."
"Well, then," said the Scottish knight, satisfied with the
frankness of the last admission, "and let me swear to you, Thomas
of Gilsland, that, as I am true Scottish man, which I hold a
privilege equal to my ancient gentry, and as sure as I am a
belted knight, and come hither to acquire LOS [Los—laus, praise,
or renown] and fame in this mortal life, and forgiveness of my
sins in that which is to come—so truly, and by the blessed Cross
which I wear, do I protest unto you that I desire but the safety
of Richard Coeur de Lion, in recommending the ministry of this
The Englishman was struck with the solemnity of the obtestation,
and answered with more cordiality than he had yet exhibited,
"Tell me, Sir Knight of the Leopard, granting (which I do not
doubt) that thou art thyself satisfied in this matter, shall I do
well, in a land where the art of poisoning is as general as that
of cooking, to bring this unknown physician to practise with his
drugs on a health so valuable to Christendom?"
"My lord," replied the Scot, "thus only can I reply—that my
squire, the only one of my retinue whom war and disease had left
in attendance on me, has been of late suffering dangerously under
this same fever, which, in valiant King Richard, has disabled the
principal limb of our holy enterprise. This leech, this El
Hakim, hath ministered remedies to him not two hours since, and
already he hath fallen into a refreshing sleep. That he can cure
the disorder, which has proved so fatal, I nothing doubt; that he
hath the purpose to do it is, I think, warranted by his mission
from the royal Soldan, who is true-hearted and loyal, so far as a
blinded infidel may be called so; and for his eventual success,
the certainty of reward in case of succeeding, and punishment in
case of voluntary failure, may be a sufficient guarantee."
The Englishman listened with downcast looks, as one who doubted,
yet was not unwilling to receive conviction. At length he looked
up and said, "May I see your sick squire, fair sir?"
The Scottish knight hesitated and coloured, yet answered at last,
"Willingly, my Lord of Gilsland. But you must remember, when you
see my poor quarter, that the nobles and knights of Scotland feed
not so high, sleep not so soft, and care not for the magnificence
of lodgment which is Proper to their southern neighbours. I am
poorly lodged, my Lord of Gilsland," he added, with a haughty
emphasis on the word, while, with some unwillingness, he led the
way to his temporary place of abode.
Whatever were the prejudices of De Vaux against the nation of his
new acquaintance, and though we undertake not to deny that some
of these were excited by its proverbial poverty, he had too much
nobleness of disposition to enjoy the mortification of a brave
individual thus compelled to make known wants which his pride
would gladly have concealed.
"Shame to the soldier of the Cross," he said, "who thinks of
worldly splendour, or of luxurious accommodation, when pressing
forward to the conquest of the Holy City. Fare as hard as we
may, we shall yet be better than the host of martyrs and of
saints, who, having trod these scenes before us, now hold golden
lamps and evergreen palms."
This was the most metaphorical speech which Thomas of Gilsland
was ever known to utter, the rather, perhaps (as will sometimes
happen), that it did not entirely express his own sentiments,
being somewhat a lover of good cheer and splendid accommodation.
By this time they reached the place of the camp where the Knight
of the Leopard had assumed his abode.
Appearances here did indeed promise no breach of the laws of
mortification, to which the Crusaders, according to the opinion
expressed by him of Gilsland, ought to subject themselves. A
space of ground, large enough to accommodate perhaps thirty
tents, according to the Crusaders' rules of castrametation, was
partly vacant—because, in ostentation, the knight had demanded
ground to the extent of his original retinue—partly occupied by
a few miserable huts, hastily constructed of boughs, and covered
with palm-leaves. These habitations seemed entirely deserted,
and several of them were ruinous. The central hut, which
represented the pavilion of the leader, was distinguished by his
swallow-tailed pennon, placed on the point of a spear, from which
its long folds dropped motionless to the ground, as if sickening
under the scorching rays of the Asiatic sun. But no pages or
squires—not even a solitary warder—was placed by the emblem of
feudal power and knightly degree. If its reputation defended it
not from insult, it had no other guard.
Sir Kenneth cast a melancholy look around him, but suppessing his
feelings, entered the hut, making a sign to the Baron of Gilsland
to follow. He also cast around a glance of examination, which
implied pity not altogether unmingled with contempt, to which,
perhaps, it is as nearly akin as it is said to be to love. He
then stooped his lofty crest, and entered a lowly hut, which his
bulky form seemed almost entirely to fill.
The interior of the hut was chiefly occupied by two beds. One
was empty, but composed of collected leaves, and spread with an
antelope's hide. It seemed, from the articles of armour laid
beside it, and from a crucifix of silver, carefully and
reverentially disposed at the head, to be the couch of the knight
himself. The other contained the invalid, of whom Sir Kenneth
had spoken, a strong-built and harsh-featured man, past, as his
looks betokened, the middle age of life. His couch was trimmed
more softly than his master's, and it was plain that the more
courtly garments of the latter, the loose robe in which the
knights showed themselves on pacific occasions, and the other
little spare articles of dress and adornment, had been applied by
Sir Kenneth to the accommodation of his sick domestic. In an
outward part of the hut, which yet was within the range of the
English baron's eye, a boy, rudely attired with buskins of deer's
hide, a blue cap or bonnet, and a doublet, whose original finery
was much tarnished, sat on his knees by a chafing-dish filled
with charcoal, cooking upon a plate of iron the cakes of
barley-bread, which were then, and still are, a favourite food with the
Scottish people. Part of an antelope was suspended against one
of the main props of the hut. Nor was it difficult to know how
it had been procured; for a large stag greyhound, nobler in size
and appearance than those even which guarded King Richard's sick-bed,
lay eyeing the process of baking the cake. The sagacious
animal, on their first entrance, uttered a stifled growl, which
sounded from his deep chest like distant thunder. But he saw his
master, and acknowledged his presence by wagging his tail and
couching his head, abstaining from more tumultuous or noisy
greeting, as if his noble instinct had taught him the propriety
of silence in a sick man's chamber.
Beside the couch sat on a cushion, also composed of skins, the
Moorish physician of whom Sir Kenneth had spoken, cross-legged,
after the Eastern fashion. The imperfect light showed little of
him, save that the lower part of his face was covered with a
long, black beard, which descended over his breast; that he wore
a high tolpach, a Tartar cap of the lamb's wool manufactured at
Astracan, bearing the same dusky colour; and that his ample
caftan, or Turkish robe, was also of a dark hue. Two piercing
eyes, which gleamed with unusual lustre, were the only lineaments
of his visage that could be discerned amid the darkness in which
he was enveloped.
The English lord stood silent with a sort of reverential awe; for
notwithstanding the roughness of his general bearing, a scene of
distress and poverty, firmly endured without complaint or murmur,
would at any time have claimed more reverence from Thomas de Vaux
than would all the splendid formalities of a royal presence-chamber,
unless that presence-chamber were King Richard's own.
Nothing was for a time heard but the heavy and regular breathings
of the invalid, who seemed in profound repose.
"He hath not slept for six nights before," said Sir Kenneth, "as
I am assured by the youth, his attendant."
"Noble Scot," said Thomas de Vaux, grasping the Scottish knight's
hand, with a pressure which had more of cordiality than he
permitted his words to utter, "this gear must be amended. Your
esquire is but too evil fed and looked to."
In the latter part of this speech he naturally raised his voice
to its usual decided tone, The sick man was disturbed in his
"My master," he said, murmuring as in a dream, "noble Sir
Kenneth, taste not, to you as to me, the waters of the Clyde cold
and refreshing after the brackish springs of Palestine?"
"He dreams of his native land, and is happy in his slumbers,"
whispered Sir Kenneth to De Vaux; but had scarce uttered the
words, when the physician, arising from the place which he had
taken near the couch of the sick, and laying the hand of the
patient, whose pulse he had been carefully watching, quietly upon
the couch, came to the two knights, and taking them each by the
arm, while he intimated to them to remain silent, led them to the
front of the hut.
"In the name of Issa Ben Mariam," he said, "whom we honour as
you, though not with the same blinded superstition, disturb not
the effect of the blessed medicine of which he hath partaken. To
awaken him now is death or deprivation of reason; but return at
the hour when the muezzin calls from the minaret to evening
prayer in the mosque, and if left undisturbed until then, I
promise you this same Frankish soldier shall be able, without
prejudice to his health, to hold some brief converse with you on
any matters on which either, and especially his master, may have
to question him."
The knights retreated before the authoritative commands of the
leech, who seemed fully to comprehend the importance of the
Eastern proverb that the sick chamber of the patient is the
kingdom of the physician.
They paused, and remained standing together at the door of the
hut—Sir Kenneth with the air of one who expected his visitor to
say farewell, and De Vaux as if he had something on his mind
which prevented him from doing so. The hound, however, had
pressed out of the tent after them, and now thrust his long,
rough countenance into the hand of his master, as if modestly
soliciting some mark of his kindness. He had no sooner received
the notice which he desired, in the shape of a kind word and
slight caress, than, eager to acknowledge his gratitude and joy
for his master's return, he flew off at full speed, galloping in
full career, and with outstretched tail, here and there, about
and around, cross-ways and endlong, through the decayed huts and
the esplanade we have described, but never transgressing those
precincts which his sagacity knew were protected by his master's
pennon. After a few gambols of this kind, the dog, coming close
up to his master, laid at once aside his frolicsome mood,
relapsed into his usual gravity and slowness of gesture and
deportment, and looked as if he were ashamed that anything should
have moved him to depart so far out of his sober self-control.
Both knights looked on with pleasure; for Sir Kenneth was justly
proud of his noble hound, and the northern English baron was, of
course, an admirer of the chase, and a judge of the animal's
"A right able dog," he said. "I think, fair sir, King Richard
hath not an ALAN which may match him, if he be as stanch as he is
swift. But let me pray you—speaking in all honour and kindness
—have you not heard the proclamation that no one under the rank
of earl shall keep hunting dogs within King Richard's camp
without the royal license, which, I think, Sir Kenneth, hath not
been issued to you? I speak as Master of the Horse."
"And I answer as a free Scottish knight," said Kenneth sternly.
"For the present I follow the banner of England, but I cannot
remember that I have ever subjected myself to the forest-laws of
that kingdom, nor have I such respect for them as would incline
me to do so. When the trumpet sounds to arms, my foot is in the
stirrup as soon as any—when it clangs for the charge, my lance
has not yet been the last laid in the rest. But for my hours of
liberty or of idleness King Richard has no title to bar my
"Nevertheless," said De Vaux, "it is a folly to disobey the
King's ordinance; so, with your good leave, I, as having
authority in that matter, will send you a protection for my
"I thank you," said the Scot coldly; "but he knows my allotted
quarters, and within these I can protect him myself.—And yet,"
he said, suddenly changing his manner, "this is but a cold return
for a well-meant kindness. I thank you, my lord, most heartily.
The King's equerries or prickers might find Roswal at
disadvantage, and do him some injury, which I should not,
perhaps, be slow in returning, and so ill might come of it. You
have seen so much of my house-keeping, my lord," he added, with a
smile, "that I need not shame to say that Roswal is our principal
purveyor, and well I hope our Lion Richard will not be like the
lion in the minstrel fable, that went a-hunting, and kept the
whole booty to himself. I cannot think he would grudge a poor
gentleman, who follows him faithfully, his hour of sport and his
morsel of game, more especially when other food is hard enough to
"By my faith, you do the King no more than justice; and yet,"
said the baron, "there is something in these words, vert and
venison, that turns the very brains of our Norman princes."
"We have heard of late," said the Scot, "by minstrels and
pilgrims, that your outlawed yeomen have formed great bands in
the shires of York and Nottingham, having at their head a most
stout archer, called Robin Hood, with his lieutenant, Little
John. Methinks it were better that Richard relaxed his forest-code
in England, than endeavour to enforce it in the Holy Land."
"Wild work, Sir Kenneth," replied De Vaux, shrugging his
shoulders, as one who would avoid a perilous or unpleasing topic
—"a mad world, sir. I must now bid you adieu, having presently
to return to the King's pavilion. At vespers I will again, with
your leave, visit your quarters, and speak with this same infidel
physician. I would, in the meantime, were it no offence,
willingly send you what would somewhat mend your cheer."
"I thank you, sir," said Sir Kenneth, "but it needs not. Roswal
hath already stocked my larder for two weeks, since the sun of
Palestine, if it brings diseases, serves also to dry venison."
The two warriors parted much better friends than they had met;
but ere they separated, Thomas de Vaux informed himself at more
length of the circumstances attending the mission of the Eastern
physician, and received from the Scottish knight the credentials
which he had brought to King Richard on the part of Saladin.
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