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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Musa had entered the camp of Kerbogha


CHAPTER XLIV

HOW MORGIANA BROUGHT WARNING

How, as related in his letter, Musa had entered the camp of Kerbogha, made his guileful tale believed, and escaped safely with Mary Kurkuas to Tyre, we have no need to tell. When the Spaniard was landed at that city, he dreamed unwisely that his troubles were at an end. An easy voyage to Damietta, an easy journey to Cairo, and at Cairo a spacious palace awaited him as emir in service to the Fatimite Mustaali. There the Greek could spend the time in quiet and luxury until the Crusade had run its course. But, again, Musa was to learn that the book of doom contains many things contrary to the wish of man. While at Tyre a letter came from the omnipotent grand vizier, Al Afdhal, ordering him to hasten at once to Jerusalem and assume the post of second in command. A high honor; and the vizier added that the Spaniard had been given this signal trust, both because all in Cairo had learned to put confidence in his valor and discretion, and because the Christians would be sure to reach the city soon, where the defenders should be familiar with their warfare.

Musa spent half a day in vain maledictions over this letter. By refusing the kalif's daughter he had put his neck in peril once; to decline this second honor would be to invite the bowstring. Hardly could he bring himself to lay his dilemma before the Greek. She had been lodged with all honor in the harem of the Egyptian governor of the city, for Musa had passed her before the world as his own Christian slave. When the Spaniard came to her, he professed himself willing to throw over his position in Egypt and fly to Tunis, if she bade him. But Mary only smiled and shook her head. "Dear friend," said she, "you shall go to no more pains on my behalf. The Holy Mother knows I spend many an evening crying when I think of all the brave men, just and base, who have died or run perils for my sinful sake."

"Then what am I to do?" protested the Spaniard, with one of his eloquent gestures. "Go to Jerusalem?"

Mary was silent for a long time; then said directly:--

"Ah, Musa, I am Christian bred, but were all Moslems like you, I could hate none. Leave that to the priests, like Sebastian! If you go to Jerusalem and the Christians attack, as attack they will, you will defend the city, will fight to the last?"

Musa nodded soberly. "Would to Allah I could do anything else! But Jerusalem is scarce less sacred to my people than to yours. To us it is '_El Kuds_,' the 'Sanctuary of Allah'; and even _I_"--and he smote his breast--"must die in the breach or on the walls before an armed Frank enter!"

Mary looked at him, and saw by his face more than by the words that he would indeed die if put to the last gasp.

"Musa," she said softly, throwing that grave light into her eyes which had made Richard cry he saw all heaven therein, "you speak truly. God keep you safe; but, Christian or Moslem, you must follow the path that duty opens. You must go to Jerusalem, for so your Allah clearly wills!"

"And," protested the Spaniard, "I shall send you to Cairo? You will be lonely in the great harem of my palace, with only servants and eunuchs to wait on you. For I must conform to the customs of my country, and let no lady in my care wander forth."

Mary shook her head in violent dissent.


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