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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Then the Bishop of Orange blessed their spades and crowbars


"I

know it," came the solemn answer; "but it is sin to doubt."

"Yes, but I am weak in faith. How great is the power of Kerbogha!"

Sebastian's answer was an uplifted hand.

"Would God I could do as did Elisha to his servant, and open your eyes; for now, as then, the host of the ungodly lie round the city, but behold the mountains are full of horses and chariots of fire to deliver the Lord's elect!"

CHAPTER XL

HOW THE HOLY LANCE WAS FOUND

In the morning the Crusading Chiefs prepared to dig for the Holy Lance. Richard was touched when he left his men, to see how, despite their murmurings, the honest fellows tried to put on a brave face. "Ha, Herbert!" cried De Carnac, "the rats we feasted on last night were better than a St. Julien boar." And the man-at-arms forced the counter-jest, "After so much rat-flesh I shall lose all taste for venison." "Three of our rats," snickered Theroulde, "are better than giant Renoart's dinners--five pasties and five capons all for himself."

But this was strained merriment. Richard at the council found he was appointed to go with Count Raymond, Raymond of Agiles, the Bishop of Orange, Pons de Balazan, Ferrard de Thouars, Sebastian, and five more, to dig for the lance. Bishop

Adhemar, good soul, lay ill, but his prayers were with them. The twelve took Peter Barthelmy and went to the Church of the Blessed Peter, a gray stone building, domed after the Eastern manner. When they came to the threshold they knelt and said three _Paternosters_ and a _Credo_; then the Bishop of Orange blessed their spades and crowbars, sprinkling each implement with holy water. All about the church in the narrow streets stood the people, far as the eye could see--gaunt skeletons, the bronzed skin drawn tight over the bones, the eyes glittering with the fire of dumb agony. When the company entered the church, there went through the multitude a half-audible sigh, as all breathed one prayer together; and many started to follow the twelve, though none cried out or spoke a word. But Count Raymond motioned them back. Then all who were in the church--and like all the churches during the siege, it was crowded with men and women--were bidden to rise from their knees and go away.

Slowly the church was emptied. Then when the last worshipper was gone, the twelve put-to the gates; and all, saving the Count and the Bishop, took a spade or crowbar. Peter Barthelmy led them up to the stairs leading to the high altar, at its south side. Here the priest turned, and pointing to the pavement said, in awestruck whisper, "Here! at this spot the holy saint took the lance from the ground, and laid it back again, in my dream."

"Amen! and amen!" repeated the Bishop. Then all the rest knelt a second time, while he blessed them, making over each the sign of the cross. When they arose, they remained standing until he gave the word. "In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, Amen!"

The pickaxe in the hands of Raymond of Agiles smote first on the pavement. There was a crash, as the mosaic pattern shattered. Then the others bent to their toil. The costly glass and stone work flew out to every side, then the gray cement, then the chill, dark earth, and with all the speed and strength that was theirs the twelve slowly pushed downward.


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