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