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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

I have seen Kilidge Arslan's hosts all around us


"By the Mass!" swore Tancred, his knightly honor touched. "Of all men, you, De St. Julien, should be the last to cry 'Rescue!' We are well able to scatter Kilidge Arslan's thousands, and Godfrey shall rob us of no glory."

So Richard held his peace, though for some strange reason his heart was not as gay as it should have been when about to engage in glorious battle with the infidel. He accompanied the rear as it toiled into the encampment, already plotted by the van. Longsword saw with anxiety that, though the camp was protected in the rear by a reedy marsh, and on one side by a shallow stream, no palisades were being raised, nor any other defences. The weary men set their tents as they might, lighted fires, feasted, and were asleep, heavy with the toilsome march. Mary Kurkuas stood at the tent door as was her wont, and greeted her husband.

"You ran more than your share of peril to-day. The fighting was hard. Ah! I was frightened."

"_Ai!_" cried Richard, taking off his heavy helm, "if I never come nearer death than to-day, like a stork I shall live to be a thousand. But there is a bandage on your wrist--what? blood?" and his face grew troubled.

"Yes," answered Mary, smiling now, and holding up the wrist. "While you were so valiantly guarding the rear, a squadron of Turks flew out of a defile just before us, and ere Prince Bohemond could ride up with his knights, had charged very close, shooting arrows."

"Mother of Mercies, you were in danger! But were you frightened?"

"Not till it was all past. For Hossein sprang in front of me, at his own peril, and covered me with his target, catching three shafts upon it otherwise meant for me. Then the Prince flew up with his band and chased the Turks away; and I found that my wrist was bleeding where a barb had scratched."

"Ha, Herbert!" cried his master, "will not my lady make a noble cavalier? She wins honorable wounds; she shall have lance and hauberk, and ride beside me. As for Hossein, what do you say? Be he Moslem or Christian, he has shielded your mistress at risk of life." The man-at-arms scratched the thin hairs on his crown.

"True; perchance I have wronged him. Yet yesterday we could not persuade him to taste a bit of pork, and he has that cast of eye which 'wise women' call malignant."

"You are all suspicions and jealousy," declared Mary, pouting. "Did I let you, I believe you would clap Hossein in fetters."

"I would I saw them on his wrists!" muttered the veteran, as he went away to his supper. But Richard and Mary sat a long time before their tent, sipping the spiced wine of Lesbos they had brought from Constantinople, and watching the stars peep out one by one from the deepening sky. The camp buzzed all about, yet dimly, as if each man was in love with quiet. It was very warm, and the soft wind bore the scent of drying wild-flowers and parching heather, as it crept down from the sun-loved uplands. It was a sweet and peaceful hour, one which stayed as a pure and holy vision in both their minds for many a long, sad day.

"Sweetheart," said Richard, when they grew tired of counting the budding stars, "though Prince Tancred and the rest will not hear it, there will be a mighty battle to-morrow. I have seen Kilidge Arslan's hosts all around us. We shall fight in the morning as never at Nicaea."


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