So! now 'tis ended, like an old wife's story.
When the first moments of surprise were over, Wilfred of Ivanhoe demanded of the Grand Master, as judge of the field, if he had manfully and rightfully done his duty in the combat? "Manfully and rightfully hath it been done," said the Grand Master. "I pronounce the maiden free and guiltless — The arms and the body of the deceased knight are at the will of the victor."
"I will not despoil him of his weapons," said the Knight of Ivanhoe, "nor condemn his corpse to shame — he hath fought for Christendom — God's arm, no human hand, hath this day struck him down. But let his obsequies be private, as becomes those of a man who died in an unjust quarrel. — And for the maiden — "
He was interrupted by a clattering of horses' feet, advancing in such numbers, and so rapidly, as to shake the ground before them; and the Black Knight galloped into the lists. He was followed by a numerous band of men-at-arms, and several knights in complete armour.
"I am too late," he said, looking around him. "I had doomed Bois-Guilbert for mine own property. — Ivanhoe, was this well, to take on thee such a venture, and thou scarce able to keep thy saddle?"
"Heaven, my Liege," answered Ivanhoe, "hath taken this proud man for its victim. He was not to be honoured in dying as your will had designed."
"Peace be with him," said Richard, looking steadfastly on the corpse, "if it may be so — he was a gallant knight, and has died in his steel harness full knightly. But we must waste no time — Bohun, do thine office!"
A Knight stepped forward from the King's attendants, and, laying his hand on the shoulder of Albert de Malvoisin, said, "I arrest thee of High Treason."
The Grand Master had hitherto stood astonished at the appearance of so many warriors. — He now spoke.
"Who dares to arrest a Knight of the Temple of Zion, within the girth of his own Preceptory, and in the presence of the Grand Master? and by whose authority is this bold outrage offered?"
"I make the arrest," replied the Knight — "I, Henry Bohun, Earl of Essex, Lord High Constable of England."
"And he arrests Malvoisin," said the King, raising his visor, "by the order of Richard Plantagenet, here present. — Conrade Mont-Fitchet, it is well for thee thou art born no subject of mine. — But for thee, Malvoisin, thou diest with thy brother Philip, ere the world be a week older."
"I will resist thy doom," said the Grand Master.
"Proud Templar," said the King, "thou canst not — look up, and behold the Royal Standard of England floats over thy towers instead of thy Temple banner! — Be wise, Beaumanoir, and make no bootless opposition — Thy hand is in the lion's mouth."
"I will appeal to Rome against thee," said the Grand Master, "for usurpation on the immunities and privileges of our Order."
"Be it so," said the King; "but for thine own sake tax me not with usurpation now. Dissolve thy Chapter, and depart with thy followers to thy next Preceptory, (if thou canst find one), which has not been made the scene of treasonable conspiracy against the King of England — Or, if thou wilt, remain, to share our hospitality, and behold our justice."
"To be a guest in the house where I should command?" said the Templar; "never! — Chaplains, raise the Psalm, 'Quare fremuerunt Gentes?' — Knights, squires, and followers of the Holy Temple, prepare to follow the banner of 'Beau-seant!'"
The Grand Master spoke with a dignity which confronted even that of England's king himself, and inspired courage into his surprised and dismayed followers. They gathered around him like the sheep around the watch-dog, when they hear the baying of the wolf. But they evinced not the timidity of the scared flock — there were dark brows of defiance, and looks which menaced the hostility they dared not to proffer in words. They drew together in a dark line of spears, from which the white cloaks of the knights were visible among the dusky garments of their retainers, like the lighter-coloured edges of a sable cloud. The multitude, who had raised a clamorous shout of reprobation, paused and gazed in silence on the formidable and experienced body to which they had unwarily bade defiance, and shrunk back from their front.
The Earl of Essex, when he beheld them pause in their assembled force, dashed the rowels into his charger's sides, and galloped backwards and forwards to array his followers, in opposition to a band so formidable. Richard alone, as if he loved the danger his presence had provoked, rode slowly along the front of the Templars, calling aloud, "What, sirs! Among so many gallant knights, will none dare splinter a spear with Richard? — Sirs of the Temple! your ladies are but sun-burned, if they are not worth the shiver of a broken lance?"
"The Brethren of the Temple," said the Grand Master, riding forward in advance of their body, "fight not on such idle and profane quarrel — and not with thee, Richard of England, shall a Templar cross lance in my presence. The Pope and Princes of Europe shall judge our quarrel, and whether a Christian prince has done well in bucklering the cause which thou hast to-day adopted. If unassailed, we depart assailing no one. To thine honour we refer the armour and household goods of the Order which we leave behind us, and on thy conscience we lay the scandal and offence thou hast this day given to Christendom."
With these words, and without waiting a reply, the Grand Master gave the signal of departure. Their trumpets sounded a wild march, of an Oriental character, which formed the usual signal for the Templars to advance. They changed their array from a line to a column of march, and moved off as slowly as their horses could step, as if to show it was only the will of their Grand Master, and no fear of the opposing and superior force, which compelled them to withdraw.
"By the splendour of Our Lady's brow!" said King Richard, "it is pity of their lives that these Templars are not so trusty as they are disciplined and valiant."
The multitude, like a timid cur which waits to bark till the object of its challenge has turned his back, raised a feeble shout as the rear of the squadron left the ground.
During the tumult which attended the retreat of the Templars, Rebecca saw and heard nothing — she was locked in the arms of her aged father, giddy, and almost senseless, with the rapid change of circumstances around her. But one word from Isaac at length recalled her scattered feelings.
"Let us go," he said, "my dear daughter, my recovered treasure — let us go to throw ourselves at the feet of the good youth."
"Not so," said Rebecca, "O no — no — no — I must not at this moment dare to speak to him — Alas! I should say more than — No, my father, let us instantly leave this evil place."
"But, my daughter," said Isaac, "to leave him who hath come forth like a strong man with his spear and shield, holding his life as nothing, so he might redeem thy captivity; and thou, too, the daughter of a people strange unto him and his — this is service to be thankfully acknowledged."
"It is — it is — most thankfully — most devoutly acknowledged," said Rebecca — "it shall be still more so — but not now — for the sake of thy beloved Rachel, father, grant my request — not now!"
"Nay, but," said Isaac, insisting, "they will deem us more thankless than mere dogs!"
"But thou seest, my dear father, that King Richard is in presence, and that — -"
"True, my best — my wisest Rebecca! — Let us hence — let us hence! — Money he will lack, for he has just returned from Palestine, and, as they say, from prison — and pretext for exacting it, should he need any, may arise out of my simple traffic with his brother John. Away, away, let us hence!"
And hurrying his daughter in his turn, he conducted her from the lists, and by means of conveyance which he had provided, transported her safely to the house of the Rabbi Nathan.
The Jewess, whose fortunes had formed the principal interest of the day, having now retired unobserved, the attention of the populace was transferred to the Black Knight. They now filled the air with "Long life to Richard with the Lion's Heart, and down with the usurping Templars!"
"Notwithstanding all this lip-loyalty," said Ivanhoe to the Earl of Essex, "it was well the King took the precaution to bring thee with him, noble Earl, and so many of thy trusty followers."
The Earl smiled and shook his head.