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A grain of dust
Soiling our cup, will make our sense reject
Fastidiously the draught which we did thirst for;
A rusted nail, placed near the faithful compass,
Will sway it from the truth, and wreck the argosy.
Even this small cause of anger and disgust
Will break the bonds of amity 'mongst princes,
And wreck their noblest purposes.
 THE reader can now have little doubt who the Ethiopian slave
really was, with what purpose he had sought Richard's camp, and
wherefore and with what hope he now stood close to the person of
that Monarch, as, surrounded by his valiant peers of England and
Normandy, Coeur de Lion stood on the summit of Saint George's
Mount, with the Banner of England by his side, borne by the most
goodly person in the army, being his own natural brother, William
with the Long Sword, Earl of Salisbury, the offspring of Henry
the Second's amour with the celebrated Rosamond of Woodstock.
From several expressions in the King's conversation with Neville
on the preceding day, the Nubian was left in anxious doubt
whether his disguise had not been penetrated, especially as that
the King seemed to be aware in what manner the agency of the dog
was expected to discover the thief who stole the banner, although
the circumstance of such an animal's having been wounded on the
occasion had been scarce mentioned in Richard's presence.
Nevertheless, as the King continued to treat him in no other
manner than his exterior required, the Nubian remained uncertain
whether he was or was not discovered, and determined not to throw
his disguise aside voluntarily.
Meanwhile, the powers of the various Crusading princes, arrayed
under their royal and princely leaders, swept in long order
around the base of the little mound; and as those of each
different country passed by, their commanders advanced a step or
two up the hill, and made a signal of courtesy to Richard and to
the Standard of England, "in sign of regard and amity," as the
protocol of the ceremony heedfully expressed it, "not of
subjection or vassalage." The spiritual dignitaries, who in
those days veiled not their bonnets to created being, bestowed on
the King and his symbol of command their blessing instead of
Thus the long files marched on, and, diminished as they were by
so many causes, appeared still an iron host, to whom the conquest
of Palestine might seem an easy task. The soldiers, inspired by
the consciousness of united strength, sat erect in their steel
saddles; while it seemed that the trumpets sounded more
cheerfully shrill, and the steeds, refreshed by rest and
provender, chafed on the bit, and trod the ground more proudly.
On they passed, troop after troop, banners waving, spears
glancing, plumes dancing, in long perspective—a host composed of
different nations, complexions, languages, arms, and appearances,
but all fired, for the time, with the holy yet romantic purpose
of rescuing the distressed daughter of Zion from her thraldom,
and redeeming the sacred earth, which more than mortal had
trodden, from the yoke of the unbelieving pagan. And it must be
owned that if, in other circumstances, the species of courtesy
rendered to the King of England by so many warriors, from whom he
claimed no natural allegiance, had in it something that might
have been thought humiliating, yet the nature and cause of the
war was so fitted to his pre-eminently chivalrous character and
renowned feats in arms, that claims which might elsewhere have
been urged were there forgotten, and the brave did willing homage
to the bravest, in an expedition where the most undaunted and
energetic courage was necessary to success.
The good King was seated on horseback about half way up the
mount, a morion on his head, surmounted by a crown, which left
his manly features exposed to public view, as, with cool and
considerate eye, he perused each rank as it passed him, and
returned the salutation of the leaders. His tunic was of sky-coloured
velvet, covered with plates of silver, and his hose of
crimson silk, slashed with cloth of gold. By his side stood the
seeming Ethiopian slave, holding the noble dog in a leash, such
as was used in woodcraft. It was a circumstance which attracted
no notice, for many of the princes of the Crusade had introduced
black slaves into their household, in imitation of the barbarous
splendour of the Saracens. Over the King's head streamed the
large folds of the banner, and, as he looked to it from time to
time, he seemed to regard a ceremony, indifferent to himself
personally, as important, when considered as atoning an indignity
offered to the kingdom which he ruled. In the background, and on
the very summit of the Mount, a wooden turret, erected for the
occasion, held the Queen Berengaria and the principal ladies of
the Court. To this the King looked from time to time; and then
ever and anon his eyes were turned on the Nubian and the dog, but
only when such leaders approached, as, from circumstances of
previous ill-will, he suspected of being accessory to the theft
of the standard, or whom he judged capable of a crime so mean.
Thus, he did not look in that direction when Philip Augustus of
France approached at the head of his splendid troops of Gallic
chivalry—-nay, he anticipated the motions of the French King, by
descending the Mount as the latter came up the ascent, so that
they met in the middle space, and blended their greetings so
gracefully that it appeared they met in fraternal equality. The
sight of the two greatest princes in Europe, in rank at once and
power, thus publicly avowing their concord, called forth bursts
of thundering acclaim from the Crusading host at many miles
distance, and made the roving Arab scouts of the desert alarm the
camp of Saladin with intelligence that the army of the Christians
was in motion. Yet who but the King of kings can read the hearts
of monarchs? Under this smooth show of courtesy, Richard
nourished displeasure and suspicion against Philip, and Philip
meditated withdrawing himself and his host from the army of the
Cross, and leaving Richard to accomplish or fail in the
enterprise with his own unassisted forces.
Richard's demeanour was different when the dark-armed knights and
squires of the Temple chivalry approached—men with countenances
bronzed to Asiatic blackness by the suns of Palestine, and the
admirable state of whose horses and appointments far surpassed
even that of the choicest troops of France and England. The King
cast a hasty glance aside; but the Nubian stood quiet, and his
trusty dog sat at his feet, watching, with a sagacious yet
pleased look, the ranks which now passed before them. The King's
look turned again on the chivalrous Templars, as the Grand
Master, availing himself of his mingled character, bestowed his
benediction on Richard as a priest, instead of doing him
reverence as a military leader.
"The misproud and amphibious caitiff puts the monk upon me," said
Richard to the Earl of Salisbury. "But, Longsword, we will let
it pass. A punctilio must not lose Christendom the services of
these experienced lances, because their victories have rendered
them overweening. Lo you, here comes our valiant adversary, the
Duke of Austria. Mark his manner and bearing, Longsword—and
thou, Nubian, let the hound have full view of him. By Heaven, he
brings his buffoons along with him!"
In fact, whether from habit, or, which is more likely, to
intimate contempt of the ceremonial he was about to comply with,
Leopold was attended by his SPRUCH-SPRECHER and his jester; and
as he advanced towards Richard, he whistled in what he wished to
be considered as an indifferent manner, though his heavy features
evinced the sullenness, mixed with the fear, with which a truant
schoolboy may be seen to approach his master. As the reluctant
dignitary made, with discomposed and sulky look, the obeisance
required, the SPRUCH-SPRECHER shook his baton, and proclaimed,
like a herald, that, in what he was now doing, the Archduke of
Austria was not to be held derogating from the rank and
privileges of a sovereign prince; to which the jester answered
with a sonorous AMEN, which provoked much laughter among the
King Richard looked more than once at the Nubian and his dog; but
the former moved not, nor did the latter strain at the leash, so
that Richard said to the slave with some scorn, "Thy success in
this enterprise, my sable friend, even though thou hast brought
thy hound's sagacity to back thine own, will not, I fear, place
thee high in the rank of wizards, or much augment thy merits
towards our person."
The Nubian answered, as usual, only by a lowly obeisance.
Meantime the troops of the Marquis of Montserrat next passed in
order before the King of England. That powerful and wily baron,
to make the greater display of his forces, had divided them into
two bodies. At the head of the first, consisting of his vassals
and followers, and levied from his Syrian possessions, came his
brother Enguerrand; and he himself followed, leading on a gallant
band of twelve hundred Stradiots, a kind of light cavalry raised
by the Venetians in their Dalmatian possessions, and of which
they had entrusted the command to the Marquis, with whom the
republic had many bonds of connection. These Stradiots were
clothed in a fashion partly European, but partaking chiefly of
the Eastern fashion. They wore, indeed, short hauberks, but had
over them party-coloured tunics of rich stuffs, with large wide
pantaloons and half-boots. On their heads were straight upright
caps, similar to those of the Greeks; and they carried small
round targets, bows and arrows, scimitars, and poniards. They
were mounted on horses carefully selected, and well maintained at
the expense of the State of Venice; their saddles and
appointments resembled those of the Turks, and they rode in the
same manner, with short stirrups and upon a high seat. These
troops were of great use in skirmishing with the Arabs, though
unable to engage in close combat, like the iron-sheathed men-at-arms
of Western and Northern Europe.
Before this goodly band came Conrade, in the same garb with the
Stradiots, but of such rich stuff that he seemed to blaze with
gold and silver, and the milk-white plume fastened in his cap by
a clasp of diamonds seemed tall enough to sweep the clouds. The
noble steed which he reined bounded and caracoled, and displayed
his spirit and agility in a manner which might have troubled a
less admirable horseman than the Marquis, who gracefully ruled
him with the one hand, while the other displayed the baton, whose
predominancy over the ranks which he led seemed equally absolute.
Yet his authority over the Stradiots was more in show than in
substance; for there paced beside him, on an ambling palfrey of
soberest mood, a little old man, dressed entirely in black,
without beard or moustaches, and having an appearance altogether
mean and insignificant when compared with the blaze of splendour
around him. But this mean-looking old man was one of those
deputies whom the Venetian government sent into camps to overlook
the conduct of the generals to whom the leading was consigned,
and to maintain that jealous system of espial and control which
had long distinguished the policy of the republic.
Conrade, who, by cultivating Richard's humour, had attained a
certain degree of favour with him, no sooner was come within his
ken than the King of England descended a step or two to meet him,
exclaiming, at the same time, "Ha, Lord Marquis, thou at the head
of the fleet Stradiots, and thy black shadow attending thee as
usual, whether the sun shines or not! May not one ask thee
whether the rule of the troops remains with the shadow or the
Conrade was commencing his reply with a smile, when Roswal, the
noble hound, uttering a furious and savage yell, sprung forward.
The Nubian, at the same time, slipped the leash, and the hound,
rushing on, leapt upon Conrade's noble charger, and, seizing the
Marquis by the throat, pulled him down from the saddle. The
plumed rider lay rolling on the sand, and the frightened horse
fled in wild career through the camp.
"Thy hound hath pulled down the right quarry, I warrant him,"
said the King to the Nubian, "and I vow to Saint George he is a
stag of ten tynes! Pluck the dog off; lest he throttle him."
The Ethiopian, accordingly, though not without difficulty,
disengaged the dog from Conrade, and fastened him up, still
highly excited, and struggling in the leash. Meanwhile many
crowded to the spot, especially followers of Conrade and officers
of the Stradiots, who, as they saw their leader lie gazing wildly
on the sky, raised him up amid a tumultuary cry of "Cut the slave
and his hound to pieces!"
But the voice of Richard, loud and sonorous, was heard clear
above all other exclamations. "He dies the death who injures the
hound! He hath but done his duty, after the sagacity with which
God and nature have endowed the brave animal.—Stand forward for
a false traitor, thou Conrade, Marquis of Montserrat! I impeach
thee of treason."
Several of the Syrian leaders had now come up, and Conrade
—vexation, and shame, and confusion struggling with passion in
his manner and voice—exclaimed, "What means this? With what am
I charged? Why this base usage and these reproachful terms? Is
this the league of concord which England renewed but so lately?"
"Are the Princes of the Crusade turned hares or deers in the eyes
of King Richard that he should slip hounds on them?" said the
sepulchral voice of the Grand Master of the Templars.
"It must be some singular accident—some fatal mistake," said
Philip of France, who rode up at the same moment.
"Some deceit of the Enemy," said the Archbishop of Tyre.
"A stratagem of the Saracens," cried Henry of Champagne. "It
were well to hang up the dog, and put the slave to the torture."
"Let no man lay hand upon them," said Richard, "as he loves his
own life! Conrade, stand forth, if thou darest, and deny the
accusation which this mute animal hath in his noble instinct
brought against thee, of injury done to him, and foul scorn to
"I never touched the banner," said Conrade hastily.
"Thy words betray thee, Conrade!" said Richard, "for how didst
thou know, save from conscious guilt, that the question is
concerning the banner?"
"Hast thou then not kept the camp in turmoil on that and no other
score?" answered Conrade; "and dost thou impute to a prince and
an ally a crime which, after all, was probably committed by some
paltry felon for the sake of the gold thread? Or wouldst thou
now impeach a confederate on the credit of a dog?"
By this time the alarm was becoming general, so that Philip of
"Princes and nobles," he said, "you speak in presence of those
whose swords will soon be at the throats of each other if they
hear their leaders at such terms together. In the name of
Heaven, let us draw off each his own troops into their separate
quarters, and ourselves meet an hour hence in the Pavilion of
Council to take some order in this new state of confusion."
"Content," said King Richard, "though I should have liked to have
interrogated that caitiff while his gay doublet was yet
besmirched with sand. But the pleasure of France shall be ours
in this matter."
The leaders separated as was proposed, each prince placing
himself at the head of his own forces; and then was heard on all
sides the crying of war-cries and the sounding of gathering-notes
upon bugles and trumpets, by which the different stragglers were
summoned to their prince's banner, and the troops were shortly
seen in motion, each taking different routes through the camp to
their own quarters. But although any immediate act of violence
was thus prevented, yet the accident which had taken place dwelt
on every mind; and those foreigners who had that morning hailed
Richard as the worthiest to lead their army, now resumed their
prejudices against his pride and intolerance, while the English,
conceiving the honour of their country connected with the
quarrel, of which various reports had gone about, considered the
natives of other countries jealous of the fame of England and her
King, and disposed to undermine it by the meanest arts of
intrigue. Many and various were the rumours spread upon the
occasion, and there was one which averred that the Queen and her
ladies had been much alarmed by the tumult, and that one of them
The Council assembled at the appointed hour. Conrade had in the
meanwhile laid aside his dishonoured dress, and with it the shame
and confusion which, in spite of his talents and promptitude, had
at first overwhelmed him, owing to the strangeness of the
accident and suddenness of the accusation. He was now robed like
a prince; and entered the council-chamber attended by the
Archduke of Austria, the Grand Masters both of the Temple and of
the Order of Saint John, and several other potentates, who made a
show of supporting him and defending his cause, chiefly perhaps
from political motives, or because they themselves nourished a
personal enmity against Richard.
This appearance of union in favour of Conrade was far from
influencing the King of England. He entered the Council with his
usual indifference of manner, and in the same dress in which he
had just alighted from horseback. He cast a careless and
somewhat scornful glance on the leaders, who had with studied
affectation arranged themselves around Conrade as if owning his
cause, and in the most direct terms charged Conrade of Montserrat
with having stolen the Banner of England, and wounded the
faithful animal who stood in its defence.
Conrade arose boldly to answer, and in despite, as he expressed
himself, of man and brute, king or dog, avouched his innocence of
the crime charged.
"Brother of England," said Philip, who willingly assumed the
character of moderator of the assembly, "this is an unusual
impeachment. We do not hear you avouch your own knowledge of
this matter, further than your belief resting upon the demeanour
of this hound towards the Marquis of Montserrat. Surely the word
of a knight and a prince should bear him out against the barking
of a cur?"
"Royal brother," returned Richard, "recollect that the Almighty,
who gave the dog to be companion of our pleasures and our toils,
hath invested him with a nature noble and incapable of deceit.
He forgets neither friend nor foe—remembers, and with accuracy,
both benefit and injury. He hath a share of man's intelligence,
but no share of man's falsehood. You may bribe a soldier to slay
a man with his sword, or a witness to take life by false
accusation; but you cannot make a hound tear his benefactor. He
is the friend of man, save when man justly incurs his enmity.
Dress yonder marquis in what peacock-robes you will, disguise his
appearance, alter his complexion with drugs and washes, hide him
amidst a hundred men,—I will yet pawn my sceptre that the hound
detects him, and expresses his resentment, as you have this day
beheld. This is no new incident, although a strange one.
Murderers and robbers have been ere now convicted, and suffered
death under such evidence, and men have said that the finger of
God was in it. In thine own land, royal brother, and upon such
an occasion, the matter was tried by a solemn duel betwixt the
man and the dog, as appellant and defendant in a challenge of
murder. The dog was victorious, the man was punished, and the
crime was confessed. Credit me, royal brother, that hidden
crimes have often been brought to light by the testimony even of
inanimate substances, not to mention animals far inferior in
instinctive sagacity to the dog, who is the friend and companion
of our race."
"Such a duel there hath indeed been, royal brother," answered
Philip, "and that in the reign of one of our predecessors, to
whom God be gracious. But it was in the olden time, nor can we
hold it a precedent fitting for this occasion. The defendant in
that case was a private gentleman of small rank or respect; his
offensive weapons were only a club, his defensive a leathern
jerkin. But we cannot degrade a prince to the disgrace of using
such rude arms, or to the ignominy of such a combat."
"I never meant that you should," said King Richard; "it were foul
play to hazard the good hound's life against that of such a
double-faced traitor as this Conrade hath proved himself. But
there lies our own glove; we appeal him to the combat in respect
of the evidence we brought forth against him. A king, at least,
is more than the mate of a marquis."
Conrade made no hasty effort to seize on the pledge which Richard
cast into the middle of the assembly, and King Philip had time to
reply ere the marquis made a motion to lift the glove.
"A king," said he of France, "is as much more than a match for
the Marquis Conrade as a dog would be less. Royal Richard, this
cannot be permitted. You are the leader of our expedition—the
sword and buckler of Christendom."
"I protest against such a combat," said the Venetian proveditore,
"until the King of England shall have repaid the fifty thousand
byzants which he is indebted to the republic. It is enough to be
threatened with loss of our debt, should our debtor fall by the
hands of the pagans, without the additional risk of his being
slain in brawls amongst Christians concerning dogs and banners."
"And I," said William with the Long Sword, Earl of Salisbury,
"protest in my turn against my royal brother perilling his life,
which is the property of the people of England, in such a cause.
Here, noble brother, receive back your glove, and think only as
if the wind had blown it from your hand. Mine shall lie in its
stead. A king's son, though with the bar sinister on his shield,
is at least a match for this marmoset of a marquis."
"Princes and nobles," said Conrade, "I will not accept of King
Richard's defiance. He hath been chosen our leader against the
Saracens, and if his conscience can answer the accusation of
provoking an ally to the field on a quarrel so frivolous, mine,
at least, cannot endure the reproach of accepting it. But
touching his bastard brother, William of Woodstock, or against
any other who shall adopt or shall dare to stand godfather to
this most false charge, I will defend my honour in the lists, and
prove whosoever impeaches it a false liar."
"The Marquis of Montserrat," said the Archbishop of Tyre, "hath
spoken like a wise and moderate gentleman; and methinks this
controversy might, without dishonour to any party, end at this
"Methinks it might so terminate," said the King of France,
"provided King Richard will recall his accusation as made upon
"Philip of France," answered Coeur de Lion, "my words shall never
do my thoughts so much injury. I have charged yonder Conrade as
a thief, who, under cloud of night, stole from its place the
emblem of England's dignity. I still believe and charge him to
be such; and when a day is appointed for the combat, doubt not
that, since Conrade declines to meet us in person, I will find a
champion to appear in support of my challenge—for thou, William,
must not thrust thy long sword into this quarrel without our
"Since my rank makes me arbiter in this most unhappy matter,"
said Philip of France, "I appoint the fifth day from hence for
the decision thereof, by way of combat, according to knightly
usage—Richard, King of England, to appear by his champion as
appellant, and Conrade, Marquis of Montserrat, in his own person,
as defendant. Yet I own I know not where to find neutral ground
where such a quarrel may be fought out; for it must not be in the
neighbourhood of this camp, where the soldiers would make faction
on the different sides."
"It were well," said Richard, "to apply to the generosity of the
royal Saladin, since, heathen as he is, I have never known knight
more fulfilled of nobleness, or to whose good faith we may so
peremptorily entrust ourselves. I speak thus for those who may
be doubtful of mishap; for myself, wherever I see my foe, I make
that spot my battle-ground."
"Be it so," said Philip; "we will make this matter known to
Saladin, although it be showing to an enemy the unhappy spirit of
discord which we would willingly hide from even ourselves, were
it possible. Meanwhile, I dismiss this assembly, and charge you
all, as Christian men and noble knights, that ye let this unhappy
feud breed no further brawling in the camp, but regard it as a
thing solemnly referred to the judgment of God, to whom each of
you should pray that He will dispose of victory in the combat
according to the truth of the quarrel; and therewith may His will
"Amen, amen!" was answered on all sides; while the Templar
whispered the Marquis, "Conrade, wilt thou not add a petition to
be delivered from the power of the dog, as the Psalmist hath it?"
"Peace, thou—!" replied the Marquis; "there is a revealing
demon abroad which may report, amongst other tidings, how far
thou dost carry the motto of thy order—"FERIATUR LEO."
"Thou wilt stand the brunt of challenge?" said the Templar.
"Doubt me not," said Conrade. "I would not, indeed, have
willingly met the iron arm of Richard himself, and I shame not to
confess that I rejoice to be free of his encounter; but, from his
bastard brother downward, the man breathes not in his ranks whom
I fear to meet."
"It is well you are so confident," continued the Templar; "and,
in that case, the fangs of yonder hound have done more to
dissolve this league of princes than either thy devices or the
dagger of the Charegite. Seest thou how, under a brow studiously
overclouded, Philip cannot conceal the satisfaction which he
feels at the prospect of release from the alliance which sat so
heavy on him? Mark how Henry of Champagne smiles to himself,
like a sparkling goblet of his own wine; and see the chuckling
delight of Austria, who thinks his quarrel is about to be avenged
without risk or trouble of his own. Hush! he approaches.—A
most grievous chance, most royal Austria, that these breaches in
the walls of our Zion—"
"If thou meanest this Crusade," replied the Duke, "I would it
were crumbled to pieces, and each were safe at home! I speak
this in confidence."
"But," said the Marquis of Montserrat, "to think this disunion
should be made by the hands of King Richard, for whose pleasure
we have been contented to endure so much, and to whom we have
been as submissive as slaves to a master, in hopes that he would
use his valour against our enemies, instead of exercising it upon
"I see not that he is so much more valorous than others," said
the Archduke. "I believe, had the noble Marquis met him in the
lists, he would have had the better; for though the islander
deals heavy blows with the pole-axe, he is not so very dexterous
with the lance. I should have cared little to have met him
myself on our old quarrel, had the weal of Christendom permitted
to sovereign princes to breathe themselves in the lists; and if
thou desirest it, noble Marquis, I will myself be your godfather
in this combat."
"And I also," said the Grand Master.
"Come, then, and take your nooning in our tent, noble sirs," said
the Duke, "and we'll speak of this business over some right
They entered together accordingly.
"What said our patron and these great folks together?" said Jonas
Schwanker to his companion, the SPRUCH-SPRECHER, who had used the
freedom to press nigh to his master when the Council was
dismissed, while the jester waited at a more respectful distance.
"Servant of Folly," said the SPRUCH-SPRECHER, "moderate thy
curiosity; it beseems not that I should tell to thee the counsels
of our master."
"Man of wisdom, you mistake," answered Jonas. "We are both the
constant attendants on our patron, and it concerns us alike to
know whether thou or I—Wisdom or Folly—have the deeper interest
"He told to the Marquis," answered the SPRUCH-SPRECHER, "and to
the Grand Master, that he was aweary of these wars, and would be
glad he was safe at home."
"That is a drawn cast, and counts for nothing in the game," said
the jester; "it was most wise to think thus, but great folly to
tell it to others—proceed."
"Ha, hem!" said the SPRUCH-SPRECHER; "he next said to them that
Richard was not more valorous than others, or over-dexterous in
"Woodcock of my side," said Schwanker, "this was egregious folly.
"Nay, I am something oblivious," replied the man of wisdom— "he
invited them to a goblet of NIERENSTEIN."
"That hath a show of wisdom in it," said Jonas. "Thou mayest
mark it to thy credit in the meantime; but an he drink too much,
as is most likely, I will have it pass to mine. Anything more?"
"Nothing worth memory," answered the orator; "only he wished he
had taken the occasion to meet Richard in the lists."
"Out upon it—out upon it!" said Jonas; "this is such dotage of
folly that I am well-nigh ashamed of winning the game by it.
Ne'ertheless, fool as he is, we will follow him, most sage
SPRUCH-SPRECHER, and have our share of the wine of NIERENSTEIN."