Hundreds of additional titles available for
online reading when you join Gateway to the Classics
All my long arrear of honour lost,
Heap'd up in youth, and hoarded up for age.
Hath Honour's fountain then suck'd up the stream?
He hath—and hooting boys may barefoot pass,
And gather pebbles from the naked ford!
 AFTER a torrent of afflicting sensations, by which he was at
first almost stunned and confounded, Sir Kenneth's first thought
was to look for the authors of this violation of the English
banner; but in no direction could he see traces of them. His
next, which to some persons, but scarce to any who have made
intimate acquaintances among the canine race, may appear strange,
was to examine the condition of his faithful Roswal, mortally
wounded, as it seemed, in discharging the duty which his master
had been seduced to abandon. He caressed the dying animal, who,
faithful to the last, seemed to forget his own pain in the
satisfaction he received from his master's presence, and
continued wagging his tail and licking his hand, even while by
low moanings he expressed that his agony was increased by the
attempts which Sir Kenneth made to withdraw from the wound the
fragment of the lance or javelin with which it had been
inflicted; then redoubled his feeble endearments, as if fearing
he had offended his master by showing a sense of the pain to
which his interference had subjected him. There was something in
the display of the dying creature's attachment which mixed as a
bitter ingredient with the sense of disgrace and desolation by
which Sir Kenneth was oppressed. His only friend seemed removed
from him, just when he had incurred the contempt and hatred of
all besides. The knight's strength of mind gave way to a burst
of agonized distress, and he groaned and wept aloud.
While he thus indulged his grief, a clear and solemn voice, close
beside him, pronounced these words in the sonorous tone of the
readers of the mosque, and in the lingua franca mutually
understood by Christians and Saracens:—
"Adversity is like the period of the former and of the latter
rain—cold, comfortless, unfriendly to man and to animal; yet
from that season have their birth the flower and the fruit, the
date, the rose, and the pomegranate."
Sir Kenneth of the Leopard turned towards the speaker, and beheld
the Arabian physician, who, approaching unheard, had seated
himself a little behind him cross-legged, and uttered with
gravity, yet not without a tone of sympathy, the moral sentences
of consolation with which the Koran and its commentators supplied
him; for, in the East, wisdom is held to consist less in a
display of the sage's own inventive talents, than in his ready
memory and happy application of and reference to "that which is
Ashamed at being surprised in a womanlike expression of sorrow,
Sir Kenneth dashed his tears indignantly aside, and again busied
himself with his dying favourite.
"The poet hath said," continued the Arab, without noticing the
knight's averted looks and sullen deportment, "the ox for the
field, and the camel for the desert. Were not the hand of the
leech fitter than that of the soldier to cure wounds, though less
able to inflict them?"
"This patient, Hakim, is beyond thy help," said Sir Kenneth;
"and, besides, he is, by thy law, an unclean animal."
"Where Allah hath deigned to bestow life, and a sense of pain and
pleasure," said the physician, "it were sinful pride should the
sage, whom He has enlightened, refuse to prolong existence or
assuage agony. To the sage, the cure of a miserable groom, of a
poor dog and of a conquering monarch, are events of little
distinction. Let me examine this wounded animal."
Sir Kenneth acceded in silence, and the physician inspected and
handled Roswal's wound with as much care and attention as if he
had been a human being. He then took forth a case of
instruments, and, by the judicious and skilful application of
pincers, withdrew from the wounded shoulder the fragment of the
weapon, and stopped with styptics and bandages the effusion of
blood which followed; the creature all the while suffering him
patiently to perform these kind offices, as if he had been aware
of his kind intentions.
"The animal may be cured," said El Hakim, addressing himself to
Sir Kenneth, "if you will permit me to carry him to my tent, and
treat him with the care which the nobleness of his nature
deserves. For know, that thy servant Adonbec is no less skilful
in the race and pedigree and distinctions of good dogs and of
noble steeds than in the diseases which afflict the human race."
"Take him with you," said the knight. "I bestow him on you
freely, if he recovers. I owe thee a reward for attendance on my
squire, and have nothing else to pay it with. For myself, I will
never again wind bugle or halloo to hound!"
The Arabian made no reply, but gave a signal with a clapping of
his hands, which was instantly answered by the appearance of two
black slaves. He gave them his orders in Arabic, received the
answer that "to hear was to obey," when, taking the animal in
their arms, they removed him, without much resistance on his
part; for though his eyes turned to his master, he was too weak
"Fare thee well, Roswal, then," said Sir Kenneth—"fare thee
well, my last and only friend—thou art too noble a possession to
be retained by one such as I must in future call myself!—I
would," he said, as the slaves retired, "that, dying as he is, I
could exchange conditions with that noble animal!"
"It is written," answered the Arabian, although the exclamation
had not been addressed to him, "that all creatures are fashioned
for the service of man; and the master of the earth speaketh
folly when he would exchange, in his impatience, his hopes here
and to come for the servile condition of an inferior being."
"A dog who dies in discharging his duty," said the knight
sternly, "is better than a man who survives the desertion of it.
Leave me, Hakim; thou hast, on this side of miracle, the most
wonderful science which man ever possessed, but the wounds of the
spirit are beyond thy power."
"Not if the patient will explain his calamity, and be guided by
the physician," said Adonbec el Hakim.
"Know, then," said Sir Kenneth, "since thou art so importunate,
that last night the Banner of England was displayed from this
mound—I was its appointed guardian—morning is now breaking—
there lies the broken banner-spear, the standard itself is lost,
and here sit I a living man!"
"How!" said El Hakim, examining him; "thy armour is whole—there
is no blood on thy weapons, and report speaks thee one unlikely
to return thus from fight. Thou hast been trained from thy post
—ay, trained by the rosy cheek and black eye of one of those
houris, to whom you Nazarenes vow rather such service as is due
to Allah, than such love as may lawfully be rendered to forms of
clay like our own. It has been thus assuredly; for so hath man
ever fallen, even since the days of Sultan Adam."
"And if it were so, physician," said Sir Kenneth sullenly, "what
"Knowledge is the parent of power," said El Hakim, "as valour
supplies strength. Listen to me. Man is not as a tree, bound to
one spot of earth; nor is he framed to cling to one bare rock,
like the scarce animated shell-fish. Thine own Christian
writings command thee, when persecuted in one city, to flee to
another; and we Moslem also know that Mohammed, the Prophet of
Allah, driven forth from the holy city of Mecca, found his refuge
and his helpmates at Medina."
"And what does this concern me?" said the Scot.
"Much," answered the physician. "Even the sage flies the tempest
which he cannot control. Use thy speed, therefore, and fly from
the vengeance of Richard to the shadow of Saladin's victorious
"I might indeed hide my dishonour," said Sir Kenneth ironically,
"in a camp of infidel heathens, where the very phrase is unknown.
But had I not better partake more fully in their reproach? Does
not thy advice stretch so far as to recommend me to take the
turban? Methinks I want but apostasy to consummate my infamy."
"Blaspheme not, Nazarene," said the physician sternly. "Saladin
makes no converts to the law of the Prophet, save those on whom
its precepts shall work conviction. Open thine eyes to the
light, and the great Soldan, whose liberality is as boundless as
his power, may bestow on thee a kingdom; remain blinded if thou
will, and, being one whose second life is doomed to misery,
Saladin will yet, for this span of present time, make thee rich
and happy. But fear not that thy brows shall be bound with the
turban, save at thine own free choice."
"My choice were rather," said the knight, "that my writhen
features should blacken, as they are like to do, in this
evening's setting sun."
"Yet thou art not wise, Nazarene," said El Hakim, "to reject this
fair offer; for I have power with Saladin, and can raise thee
high in his grace. Look you, my son—this Crusade, as you call
your wild enterprise, is like a large dromond [The largest sort
of vessels then known were termed dromond's, or dromedaries.]
parting asunder in the waves. Thou thyself hast borne terms of
truce from the kings and princes, whose force is here assembled,
to the mighty Soldan, and knewest not, perchance, the full tenor
of thine own errand."
"I knew not, and I care not," said the knight impatiently. "What
avails it to me that I have been of late the envoy of princes,
when, ere night, I shall be a gibbeted and dishonoured corpse?"
"Nay, I speak that it may not be so with thee," said the
physician. "Saladin is courted on all sides. The combined
princes of this league formed against him have made such
proposals of composition and peace, as, in other circumstances,
it might have become his honour to have granted to them. Others
have made private offers, on their own separate account, to
disjoin their forces from the camp of the Kings of Frangistan,
and even to lend their arms to the defence of the standard of the
Prophet. But Saladin will not be served by such treacherous and
interested defection. The king of kings will treat only with the
Lion King. Saladin will hold treaty with none but the Melech
Ric, and with him he will treat like a prince, or fight like a
champion. To Richard he will yield such conditions of his free
liberality as the swords of all Europe could never compel from
him by force or terror. He will permit a free pilgrimage to
Jerusalem, and all the places where the Nazarenes list to
worship; nay, he will so far share even his empire with his
brother Richard, that he will allow Christian garrisons in the
six strongest cities of Palestine, and one in Jerusalem itself,
and suffer them to be under the immediate command of the officers
of Richard, who, he consents, shall bear the name of King
Guardian of Jerusalem. Yet further, strange and incredible as
you may think it, know, Sir Knight—for to your honour I can
commit even that almost incredible secret—know that Saladin will
put a sacred seal on this happy union betwixt the bravest and
noblest of Frangistan and Asia, by raising to the rank of his
royal spouse a Christian damsel, allied in blood to King Richard,
and known by the name of the Lady Edith of Plantagenet." [This
may appear so extraordinary and improbable a proposition that it
is necessary to say such a one was actually made. The
historians, however, substitute the widowed Queen of Naples,
sister of Richard, for the bride, and Saladin's brother for the
bridegroom. They appear to have been ignorant of the existence
of Edith of Plantagenet.—See MILL'S History of the Crusades,
vol. ii., p. 61.]
"Ha!—sayest thou?" exclaimed Sir Kenneth, who, listening with
indifference and apathy to the preceding part of El Hakim's
speech, was touched by this last communication, as the thrill of
a nerve, unexpectedly jarred, will awaken the sensation of agony,
even in the torpor of palsy. Then, moderating his tone, by dint
of much effort he restrained his indignation, and, veiling it
under the appearance of contemptuous doubt, he prosecuted the
conversation, in order to get as much knowledge as possible of
the plot, as he deemed it, against the honour and happiness of
her whom he loved not the less that his passion had ruined,
apparently, his fortunes, at once, and his honour.—"And what
Christian," he said, With tolerable calmness, "would sanction a
union so unnatural as that of a Christian maiden with an
"Thou art but an ignorant, bigoted Nazarene," said the Hakim.
"Seest thou not how the Mohammedan princes daily intermarry with
the noble Nazarene maidens in Spain, without scandal either to
Moor or Christian? And the noble Soldan will, in his full
confidence in the blood of Richard, permit the English maid the
freedom which your Frankish manners have assigned to women. He
will allow her the free exercise of her religion, seeing that, in
very truth, it signifies but little to which faith females are
addicted; and he will assign her such place and rank over all the
women of his zenana, that she shall be in every respect his sole
and absolute queen."
"What!" said Sir Kenneth, "darest thou think, Moslem, that
Richard would give his kinswoman—a high-born and virtuous
princess—to be, at best, the foremost concubine in the haram of
a misbeliever? Know, Hakim, the meanest free Christian noble
would scorn, on his child's behalf, such splendid ignominy."
"Thou errest," said the Hakim. "Philip of France, and Henry of
Champagne, and others of Richard's principal allies, have heard
the proposal without starting, and have promised, as far as they
may, to forward an alliance that may end these wasteful wars; and
the wise arch-priest of Tyre hath undertaken to break the
proposal to Richard, not doubting that he shall be able to bring
the plan to good issue. The Soldan's wisdom hath as yet kept his
proposition secret from others, such as he of Montserrat, and the
Master of the Templars, because he knows they seek to thrive by
Richard's death or disgrace, not by his life or honour. Up,
therefore, Sir Knight, and to horse. I will give thee a scroll
which shall advance thee highly with the Soldan; and deem not
that you are leaving your country, or her cause, or her religion,
since the interest of the two monarchs will speedily be the same.
To Saladin thy counsel will be most acceptable, since thou canst
make him aware of much concerning the marriages of the
Christians, the treatment of their wives, and other points of
their laws and usages, which, in the course of such treaty, it
much concerns him that he should know. The right hand of the
Soldan grasps the treasures of the East, and it is the fountain
or generosity. Or, if thou desirest it, Saladin, when allied
with England, can have but little difficulty to obtain from
Richard, not only thy pardon and restoration to favour, but an
honourable command in the troops which may be left of the King of
England's host, to maintain their joint government in Palestine.
Up, then, and mount—there lies a plain path before thee."
"Hakim," said the Scottish knight, "thou art a man of peace; also
thou hast saved the life of Richard of England—and, moreover, of
my own poor esquire, Strauchan. I have, therefore, heard to an
end a matter which, being propounded by another Moslem than
thyself, I would have cut short with a blow of my dagger! Hakim,
in return for thy kindness, I advise thee to see that the Saracen
who shall propose to Richard a union betwixt the blood of
Plantagenet and that of his accursed race do put on a helmet
which is capable to endure such a blow of a battle-axe as that
which struck down the gate of Acre. Certes, he will be otherwise
placed beyond the reach even of thy skill."
"Thou art, then, wilfully determined not to fly to the Saracen
host?" said the physician. "Yet, remember, thou stayest to
certain destruction; and the writings of thy law, as well as
ours, prohibit man from breaking into the tabernacle of his own
"God forbid!" replied the Scot, crossing himself; "but we are
also forbidden to avoid the punishment which our crimes have
deserved. And since so poor are thy thoughts of fidelity, Hakim,
it grudges me that I have bestowed my good hound on thee, for,
should he live, he will have a master ignorant of his value."
"A gift that is begrudged is already recalled," said El Hakim;
"only we physicians are sworn not to send away a patient uncured.
If the dog recover, he is once more yours."
"Go to, Hakim," answered Sir Kenneth; "men speak not of hawk and
hound when there is but an hour of day-breaking betwixt them and
death. Leave me to recollect my sins, and reconcile myself to
"I leave thee in thine obstinacy," said the physician; "the mist
hides the precipice from those who are doomed to fall over it."
He withdrew slowly, turning from time to time his head, as if to
observe whether the devoted knight might not recall him either by
word or signal. At last his turbaned figure was lost among the
labyrinth of tents which lay extended beneath, whitening in the
pale light of the dawning, before which the moonbeam had now
But although the physician Adonbec's words had not made that
impression upon Kenneth which the sage desired, they had inspired
the Scot with a motive for desiring life, which, dishonoured as
he conceived himself to be, he was before willing to part from as
from a sullied vestment no longer becoming his wear. Much that
had passed betwixt himself and the hermit, besides what he had
observed between the anchorite and Sheerkohf (or Ilderim), he now
recalled to recollection, and tended to confirm what the Hakim
had told him of the secret article of the treaty.
"The reverend impostor!" he exclaimed to himself; "the hoary
hypocrite! He spoke of the unbelieving husband converted by the
believing wife; and what do I know but that the traitor exhibited
to the Saracen, accursed of God, the beauties of Edith
Plantagenet, that the hound might judge if the princely Christian
lady were fit to be admitted into the haram of a misbeliever? If
I had yonder infidel Ilderim, or whatsoever he is called, again
in the gripe with which I once held him fast as ever hound held
hare, never again should HE at least come on errand disgraceful
to the honour of Christian king or noble and virtuous maiden.
But I—my hours are fast dwindling into minutes—yet, while I
have life and breath, something must be done, and speedily."
He paused for a few minutes, threw from him his helmet, then
strode down the hill, and took the road to King Richard's