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THE CHILDREN'S CRUSADE
A MARVELOUS thing now came to pass, for the children of France and Germany went on a crusade. Stephen, a French shepherd boy twelve
years old, declared that Jesus had appeared to him and bidden him lead a company of children to rescue the Holy
Sepulcher from the infidels. Other children joined him, and they went about from village to village, bearing crosses and
candles, swinging censers, singing hymns, and crying "God wills
 it! God wills it!" Soon a great army of boys and girls, including the humblest shepherd lads and the children of wealthy
nobles, started on a march for the Holy Land. No one could stop them. The king bade them return to their homes, but they
only cried the more, "God wills it!" They broke away from their friends, from the very arms of their parents. The older
folk knew not what to think. Some said this was a work of Satan to destroy the children. Others believed that it was the
will of God that where armed men had failed, innocent children should succeed; and they dared not hold them back lest
they should be fighting against God.
In Germany, too, there was a boy preacher, one Nich'o-las; and he aroused the German children as Stephen aroused
the French. The little German boys and girls set out, twenty thousand strong, many of them wearing long gray coats upon
which crosses were sewn. They had broad-brimmed hats, and they carried the staffs of pilgrims. As they marched, they
sang hymns. One of these has come down to us. It begins,
"Fairest Lord Jesus,
Ruler of all nature."
But the way grew rougher and rougher. The air of the mountains was cold. They came to desert places where there was no
food. Thousands died, and when the others reached the city of Gen'o-a, they were only seven thousand. Still the
children did not lose courage. God would open a way for them through the sea, they believed, and soon they would be in
the Holy Land. They would tell the story of the good Jesus. The infidels would listen and would become His followers.
GENOA, SHOWING A PORTION OF THE HARBOR.
The morning came. They waited patiently on the shore at
 Genoa, but no path was opened through the sea. There is a tradition that part of the children sailed for Syria, but what
became of them is not known. Some pressed on to Rome. They told the pope about their journey and their sufferings. He
said that it was of no use for them to try to reach Syria, but, as they were bound by their vows, they must go on a
crusade when they were older.
By this time only a few children were left. Many had died, as has been said; some had been stolen or sold as slaves, and
still others had stopped in one place or another. Nothing now remained but to suffer the long, hard journey home; and at
last this, too, was ended. "Tell us of your wanderings. Where have you been?" begged their parents and friends; but all
that the tired little crusaders could answer was, "We do not know."
HARBOR OF MARSEILLES.
Meanwhile, the French children, thirty thousand in all, had
 set out for Mar-seilles'. Their way was less rough, but the heat of the summer was terrible. Many of the little
ones had never been farther from their homes than some neighboring village, and whenever they came in sight of a city
wall or a castle, they would ask piteously, "Isn't that Jerusalem?" After a journey of three hundred miles, about twenty
thousand of them came to Marseilles. "Let us stay here to-night," they begged, "and to-morrow God will open a way for us
through the sea." No path was opened, and many started to return to their homes. At length two merchants offered to
provide vessels for all who wished to go to the Holy Land. "We do it for the cause of God," they said, "and we ask no
reward but your prayers." Then the children were happy. "This is the path through the sea," they cried joyfully. "This
is what God promised us." Seven vessels full of the bravest of the children set sail to cross the blue Med-i
 ter-ra'ne-an. Eighteen years later, an old priest came to Europe, and told the sad ending of the story. Two of the
seven vessel had been wrecked; but the hundreds of children on board the others had been carried to the coast of Africa
and sold to the Mohammedans as slaves; for the generous men of Marseilles why had so kindly offered to carry them across
the sea were slave traders. Not one of the seven shiploads of children ever saw his home again.
The French and the German children set out on a crusade. — The difficulties met by the German children. — The children s
Genoa. — At Rome. — The pope's commands. — Their return. — The hardships of the French children. — They reach Marseilles. — The