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God Wills It! by William Stearns Davis

Allah has kept Richard Longsword safe through battle


"Victory for the true faith! _Allah akhbar!_" shouted the squadrons that raged after him. "To the gates! a sally! cut off the Franks ere they can flee to the hills!"

Mary bowed her head. The Franks repulsed, defeated, scattered; the Crusade lost, and Richard Longsword,--never, the Greek knew well, would her husband turn back from a stricken field to breathe out his fiery spirit on his bed. But the clangor of arms and shouting did not die away. The sun was dropping lower now, but the battle seemed blazing hotter than when the day was young. In the street women and city-folk ran this way and that. From their cries Mary knew not what to think. To remain longer on the housetop she could not, though Musa commanded a thousand times. She must know the worst or die. The cowering maids and eunuchs gave her never a thought. She cast a veil about her face and rushed down into the street. The way was plain before her. In a great press of soldiers, citizens, and shrieking women, she was swept on toward the Gate of Herod, scarce knowing whither she went. As she moved on blindly, jostled and thrust about by rude hands, she knew that the din was lessening, the thunder from the walls intermitting. Now, as she looked toward the battlements, she could see the engineers making fast the machines, the archers running from the towers. Through the gate was pouring a cavalry corps, the horses bleeding and panting, the men battered and bleeding also. Many bore shivered lances; many brandished red blades; many toiled wearily on foot. It needed none to tell her that the sally had failed, else why did the great gate clash to in a twinkling the instant the last rider passed under? And in through the closing portal rang the good French war-cry, almost at the riders' heels, "_Montjoie St. Denis!_" So the Franks had been repulsed, but not scattered. The leaguer had not been raised. There must be other days of horror.

"St. Theodore guide me!" prayed Mary to herself, "I must be back instantly. Musa would be justly angry if he found me in this throng." And she turned from the gate, thankful, yet fearful. What had befallen Richard and Musa that day of blood? The multitude surged backward, carrying her toward the inner city. In the rude press the veil was swept from her face. She knew that soldiers were pointing at her, and passing the word "Look--a houri!" But she heeded little, only forced her way up the narrow street to regain the house. The throng made space for her, for they knew she was an emir's lady, and many improper deeds were forgiven on a day like this. She reached the friendly portal; reentered the harem. The cowering maids and eunuchs stared at her dishevelled hair and dress, but hardly knew that she had been gone. Mary returned to her post on the housetop, and from the shouting in the street below learned that the Christian attack on the walls had been entirely repulsed, but that Iftikhar had lost many men in the sally. Just after sunset came a cavalryman with a note scribbled on a bit of dirty vellum.

"Musa to the ever adorable Star of the Greeks. Allah has kept Richard Longsword safe through battle. I also am well. I think the Christian machines so wrecked by our Greek fire, no assaults will take place for many days. I will come to you before midnight. Farewell."

A brief letter, but it made the dying light on the western clouds very golden to Mary Kurkuas. So Richard lived, and Musa also. What thoughtfulness of the Spaniard to imagine her fears and send reassurance! The buzzing streets grew calmer. She heard the muezzins calling the evening "_maghreb_ prayer" over the city. The eunuchs had so far awakened from their terror as to be able to bring her a few sweet cakes and some spiced wine. The Greek felt little weariness, despite her sleepless night. She would await Musa, hear from him the story of the battle, and how he knew Richard was well. With a quieting heart she left the roof balcony, ordered a lamp in her harem chamber, opened the book-closet and began to unroll her Pindar. She was just losing herself in the rhythm and splendor of a "Nemean" when a eunuch interrupted with his salaam.


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