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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

As not a few had desired Sebastian himself to do

Sometimes, however, there came sturdy bands that clamored at the castle gate, demanding food.

"Food?" roared old Herbert, one such day; "and have you taken nothing in your wallets?"

"No," quoth a hulking peasant, showing an empty pouch; "the priests say, 'God who nourishes the sparrows will not let His dear children suffer;' so we have gone forth trusting in His bounty to feed us."

"Begone!" cried Sebastian, from behind the portcullis; for the pilgrims had begun to threaten. "I also am a priest, and say to you, as says the Apostle, 'If any would not work, neither should he eat.' God has given you better wits than have sparrows. Sin not by misusing them!"

But too often the rascals fell to plunder, and reluctantly Richard sallied forth; slew some, and hanged others for a warning. Very grave grew Longsword when he heard of the outrages wrought through the bands led by Volkmar the priest and Count Emicio in the Rhine cities, for he knew this was no way to win Heaven's blessing. "Their sins are great," commented Sebastian. "God is pleased to lead them to destruction." And of Peter the Hermit, who headed a like band, as not a few had desired Sebastian himself to do, he only prophesied, "He listens to the praise of men; God will abase him!" As indeed came true.

So with the peasants. But at last the seigneurs were moving. Richard rode from St. Julien with five-and-twenty petty nobles, thrice as many full-armored men-at-arms, four hundred stout "villains" on foot; and above his head the great banner of his house, St. Julien's white stag blazoned on a red field. The baron's heart was gay when he saw the long line of casques and lances. But beside them trailed a weeping company; old men and women, who went a little way, making a long farewell.

"Ah, sweet lord," the pretty maids would cry, "how long will it be, ere you ride back with Peter and Anselm and Hugo?" and so with fifty more, wailing out the name of husband, brother, or sweetheart. Then Richard would bang Trenchefer in a way to hearten the most timorous, and swear, "In two years you shall see them all again, and I will make every good man-at-arms a knight!" So when the women saw his bold, brave face, they took courage. But there were tears and to spare, when they came to the last wayside cross, and Herbert went down the line, calling gruffly to every man and maid not bound for Jerusalem to drop from the ranks. So the lines were closed, and the long files of helmets and hauberks went over the mountain side. Many an eye went back to the groups of red, blue, and yellow clustered round the cross; and many an eye was wet that had been seldom wet before, as they saw tottering old Bosso, Sebastian's vicar in the parish, hold up the crucifix, and all the bright gowns bend in prayer. But none fell from the ranks, no step lagged.

Richard nodded to Theroulde, whose mule was plodding beside Rollo. The _jongleur_ clapped his viol to his shoulder; the trumpets blew;

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