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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

' And has not this Richard Longsword been chastened


"It

is true! Dear Christ, it is true! And I was his mother." Lady Ide had her face bowed on her hands, and shook with her sobs. Richard drove straight on:--

"Then the devil entered into me. I was mad with lust of slaying and the heat of battle. My veins seemed turned to fire. I knew all that I did, yet in a strange way knew not--only beheld myself striking, shouting, running, as if I stood a great way off. I struck you down foully. I slew Gilbert at the altar, and all the time that I raged, I felt deep within--that what I did, was a sin against God. I shattered the holy relics; I blasphemed heaven. There are those who have sinned more than I, but they are not many."

The lady was not weeping now. She was staring at Richard with hard, tearless eyes,--all the picture of that fearful night standing, as in a vision, before them.

"But I have been punished,--punished, perhaps, after my sins,--yet scarce has God given me grace to bear. I had a mother who held me dear--dearer, if I may say it, than you held Gilbert."

"It cannot be!" cried Ide, starting up, but Sebastian frowned and she was quiet.

"I had a mother, a father who also loved me, a brother gentle as Gilbert, and a sister," and when Richard spoke the word even Louis turned away his gaze, there was such agony on Longsword's face. "And now tidings have come from

Sicily that father, mother, and brother are dead, slain wantonly by Iftikhar Eddauleh, whom Louis knows well; and my sister! holy Mother of God, drive the thought from my heart! is the captive of that paynim. So think you not the sin I committed against you and yours has not met its reward? Think you I shall greatly fear, if Sir Louis calls in his men and bids them slay me? What is death beside the pains that I bear here!" And Richard smote his breast. Then Louis burst forth:--

"But why, by the Holy Cross, did you venture hither? You know I have sworn to have your life."

"Right well," answered the Norman, dropping his gaze; "and doubtless you expected to find me holding St. Julien with all my vassals, and much blood ready to be spilled. But I again have sworn an oath,--and the oath is this: 'For my sins, and for the souls of my parents and brother, I will go to free the Holy City from the unbeliever. And I will shed no more Christian blood until I see the Cross triumphant on the walls of Jerusalem, or until I die.' Therefore I stand before you, asking to be forgiven; and if you will not, I do not fear death."

A long silence; then the woman broke it:--

"My boy! my boy! You have killed him! You must suffer!"

"I am willing, lady," said Richard, never stirring.

But Sebastian now had his word:--

"Take care, daughter, lest you too sin in the sight of God! What said Our Lord upon the cross? 'Father, forgive them!' And has not this Richard Longsword been chastened? been brought very low? You lost your two sons; but one of these, by your own lips, is confessed worthy of death, and for the slaying of the other this man has been repaid. He slew one innocent: he has lost three--and one worse than dead. And he is a chosen vessel of the Lord. For God has cut him short in his sins, even as He cut short Paul when breathing forth threatenings and slaughter. For I say unto you: I had granted unto me a vision,"--and Sebastian's voice rose to a swelling height,--"no flitting dream of the night, but clear as the noonday; I saw Richard Longsword standing on the walls of Jerusalem, and above his head the cross. And he shall fight great battles for Christ, and endure great tribulation more; but shall see the desires of God upon the wicked. Therefore, you and you, deal pitifully with him. For he has sinned, but has repented, and now is one of God's elect."


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