| Our Little Crusader Cousin of Long Ago|
|by Evaleen Stein|
|The story of Hugh, page to King Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, and Raymond, page to Count William of France, and their adventures in Palestine during the third crusade. Through their eyes we see how, even with all their quarrels and failures, the men of the third crusade left a lasting record of gallant and heroic deeds. Ages 8-10 |
THE OLD MAN OF THE MOUNTAIN
 King Richard had hoped to find some of his food ships
at Ascalon, but though a number were on the way there,
several had gone to the bottom in the hard storms and
the rest were unable to land. Every day Hugh and
Raymond went down to the wharf, hungrily watching for
these ships, but it was over a week before they could
sail into the harbor. "Good!" cried Hugh, who first
spied them, " There they come! I hope they have plenty
on board! I feel as if I could eat a whole sheep and
several loaves of bread all by myself!
"So do I!" answered Raymond, as they ran to see the
When everybody had enough to eat again and had rested a
little from their hard march, they were much better
humored, and King Richard set himself to work to coax
them to make up their many quarrels and be friends; for he
 knew that unless all the crusaders were united
they could never hope to capture Jerusalem. He
even sent messengers to ask the Duke of Burgundy
to come back with all the French troops he had
taken away, and this the jealous duke at last consented
The next thing King Richard undertook was to rebuild
the broken walls of the city, and as these were very
large he knew it would take a long time unless
everybody helped; so he commanded all,
from the noblest knight
to the commonest foot-soldier, to go to work, setting
the example himself by seizing a trowel and mixing
up mortar and
starting to lay stones as hard as ever he could. Count
William went to work near the king, and soon nearly
everybody was busy, Hugh and Raymond hurrying about
helping mix and carry mortar, and often laying some
of the smaller stones themselves.
The army had been working thus for several days when
Hugh said to Raymond, "Seems to me everyone who is
able is working on these walls except those Austrian
soldiers and their Duke Leopold. I'd like to know
what's the matter with them and if they think they're any
better than King Richard and the rest of us!"
 "Look!" said Raymond. "There comes Duke Leopold now!
I wish King Richard would do something to him!"
And Raymond was not disappointed: for just then the
Lion Heart, working at a gap in the wall near by,
glanced up and saw the duke as he strolled idly along.
"Halt!" cried the king instantly, as his eyes
flashed. The other, staring, paused sulkily. "Now,
sir," said King Richard, "get a trowel and go to work
like the rest of the army!"
But Leopold only tossed his head and replied haughtily,
"I am the son of neither a carpenter nor a stone mason
that I should work like a common laborer!" With this
he tried to pass on, but Richard was too quick for him.
Without another word he pounced upon him, and seizing
the proud duke's burly shoulders, thrust him out
through the gap in the wall, helping him along with a
sound kick. Everybody near looked on open-mouthed as
the king, calmly picking up his trowel, went on with
his work as though nothing had happened.
Hugh and Raymond, peeping through the gap, could hardly
keep from laughing as Leopold, amazed at finding
himself thrown out of the
 city, and afraid to touch the Lion Heart, at last
gathered himself together and stalked off in a towering
rage. "Of course King Richard has been trying to keep
things peaceful," whispered Hugh, "but I guess that
stupid Duke Leopold was just too much for him! You
know how he detests him!"
"Yes," said Raymond, "and I don't blame him! I suppose
Leopold will go home now, but I don't think he or his
Austrians will be much loss."
Evidently Richard thought the same way, for he gave
orders for the duke and all his followers who were
lodged in the city the walls they would not help build,
for he said they had no right to any protection from
them. And as soon as they could get ready to leave,
they set off for Austria as fast as they could go.
Leopold still raging and biding his time to pay King
Day by day the broken walls rose higher and higher;
though Richard looked in vain for the reinforcements he
longed for. Saladin, too, camped as usual behind the
hills, was waiting for fresh troops, and there was a
truce between the two armies. As was their custom when
 really fighting, the king and sultan behaved to each
other with the greatest friendliness; and as the
weather grew better toward spring, the armies would
often have parades and tournaments, in which the
knights and nobles of both sides took part. As the two
pages were watching a tournament one day, "Doesn't it
seem funny," said Raymond, "how friendly everybody is
"Yes," replied Hugh, "and the sultan and King Richard
give each other lots of presents, all kinds of things.
I'm glad when I see Saladin's black slaves coming to
the door, for they always bring something pleasant, and
that's more than can be said for the Christian
messengers who have been coming lately."
"What do you mean?" said Raymond.
"Well," said Hugh, "a messenger came from England a
while ago, and another one yesterday: they bring big
parchment letters all covered with wax seals, and when
King Richard reads them he looks worried to death. I'm
sure he has been getting bad news from home."
And this was quite true. Richard had been getting the
worst kind of news from home. Letters from his mother
and friends urged him to
 return and save his kingdom, which his own brother John
was trying to get away from him. They told him also
that King Philip, in spite of his solemn promises to do
nothing against Richard while he was away, had broken
his word and invaded Normandy. All these evil tidings
were hard for the Lion Heart to bear after all his
misfortunes and suffering in the Holy Land. He was
really in a very trying position. Though he had never
lost a battle, everything had gone against him. He
could not bear to go away and leave Jerusalem
unconquered; neither could he afford to lose his
kingdom. Then too, if he returned to England, he knew
he must leave some leader strong enough to hold what
the crusaders had already won; and Richard could not
but admit that the man who could do this best was
Conrad of Montferrat. You remember this was the Conrad
who was disputing with Guy of Lusignan about being king
of Jerusalem. The quarrel had been going on for
months, and everybody took sides one way or another.
Indeed, if any crusader had nothing else to start a
quarrel, he could always succeed by beginning to argue
about Guy and Conrad. For though the walls of
Jerusalem were still unshaken, all
 still hoped that they would soon take the city; and if
they did, of course it would be very important to be
Richard thought it over, and at last, though much
against his will, decided to allow Conrad to be called
king of Jerusalem; for he could not be crowned without
Richard's consent. He despised Conrad's treachery in
offering to join Saladin, but felt sure that if he won
in the quarrel with Guy, he would come back to the
crusaders, whom he could hold together better than
anyone else. Richard decided also to make up for Guy's
disappointment by giving him the island of Cyprus,
which he had taken away from King Isaac on his way to
Acre. He then made his plans to return to his kingdom
and overcome his enemies in England and France so that
he might start another crusade; for he could not give
up hope of some day conquering Jerusalem.
Having made up his mind, Richard sent his nephew, Count
Henry of Champagne, sailing up the coast to the city of
Tyre, of which Conrad had made himself master, to tell
him he was to be crowned king of Jerusalem. It was
very ridiculous that he had to be crowned in Tyre
because the city of which he was called king was
 still held by the Sultan Saladin; but nobody seemed to
see it that way.
When the camp knew Richard's decision, there was a
great deal of discussion. They were still talking
about it when, scarcely two weeks later, there came
sailing into port the same royal galley that had taken
Count Henry to Tyre, and a messenger quickly landed and
hurried to the quarters of the king. Having delivered
his message first to Richard, he came into the
courtyard, and soon all there knew the word he brought,
for it was no secret. Conrad, before he could be
crowned, had been killed by the order of The Old Man of
the Mountain. Before long the whole camp had heard it,
and if tongues had wagged before, now they were buzzing
twice as busily.
Hugh was burning with curiosity and longed for a chance
to ask the messenger more; so he was glad when
presently food was made ready and he was sent to bid
the man into the house and serve him while he ate. The
moment he had finished, "Sir" he said, "will you
please tell me who is "The Old Man of the Mountain?'"
"Gracious!" exclaimed the messenger, "have you just
come to this country that you have never heard of him?"
 "No," said Hugh, "I've been here a good while, and I've
heard his name and asked the soldiers about him once or
twice, but they seemed almost afraid to talk of him, so
I never found out much."
"Well," replied the messenger, "nobody knows so very
much about him. I guess because nobody wants to go
very near to find out. All the crusaders call him
'The Old Man of the Mountain,' but the Saracens, who
know more than we do of the heathenish people over
here, say his real name is Senan, and that he is chief
of a tribe called Ismaelians, who live up on Mount
Lebanon. They say he has a splendid castle up there,
with wonderful gardens and fountains, and that he has
gold and jewels and clothes and things to eat fit for a
king. And no wonder, for he has had enough people
robbed and killed to get most anything he wants."
"Mercy!" cried Hugh, "can't anybody stop him?"
"No," said the messenger, "that's not so easy. He's no
ordinary bandit, and he doesn't do the work himself,
either; he's too high and mighty for that. They say he
takes boys from the tribe and trains them in his castle
till they grow up,
 and he gives them a queer kind of drug that makes them
do anything he tells them to. So if he orders them to
kill anybody, they will surely do it, if it takes them
years to get a chance. Everybody in this country knows
a man's life isn't worth a fig if the Old Man of the
Mountain wants him put out of the way. So you see it
isn't so easy to get rid of The Old Man. It's not like
fighting an open battle; he does everything so
secretly, and has so many people to obey him, that
nobody who makes an enemy of him knows what minute he
may have a dagger thrust into him as Conrad did."
Hugh shivered. "Did he rob Conrad?" he asked.
"No," said the messenger, "he doesn't always kill for
robbery. People in Tyre think there was some quarrel
between them. And what do you suppose The Old Man did?
Six months ago he sent to Tyre two of the young men he
had trained, and they were ordered to kill Conrad.
They disguised themselves as monks, pretended they were
good Christians, and made friends with some of the best
people in the city, all the while watching for a chance
to get at Conrad."
"Did nobody suspect them?" asked
 "Not a soul," replied the messenger. "They went to
church and behaved so piously that everybody thought
they were all right."
"How did they get Conrad at last?" again asked Hugh.
"Well," said the messenger, "it was the night after
Count Henry came, and Conrad and his friends were
tremendously pleased that he was to be king of
Jerusalem. The Bishop of Beauvaise gave a fine dinner
for him, and as he was riding back to his house,
suddenly the two false monks sprang at him, stabbing
him with their daggers so he fell dying from his
Hugh shuddered again, and said, "Did they catch the
"Oh, yes, to be sure," replied the other, "the people
around soon caught them, and made short work of them
without much trouble. The Old Man of the Mountain
tells all his followers that if they lose their lives
in obeying his wicked orders, they will go straight to
Paradise and have the grandest kind of a time. And
the miserable wretches believe everything he says, so
when they have carried out his commands, they don't
seem to mind it at all if they get killed themselves."
 Here the messenger got up and stretched himself.
"Well," he said I suppose King Richard will have to
pick out another king for Jerusalem. Meantime I must
go aboard the galley, for we are to sail back to Tyre
whenever he gives the order."
That night, when Hugh went to bed, he dreamed of
disguised monks and Old Men of the Mountains till he
was thankful to wake up and find himself still alive
and the sun shining.
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