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"And what is to be my surety?" said the Jew, “that I shall be at liberty after this ransom is paid ?"
"The word of a Norman noble, thou pawnbroking slave," answered Front-de-Beuf ; "the faith of a Norman nobleman, more pure than the gold and silver of thee and all thy tribe."
"I crave pardon, noble lord,” said Isaac, timidly, “but wherefore should I rely wholly on the word of one who will trust nothing to mine ?”
“Because thou canst not help it, Jew," said the knight, sternly. "Wert thou now in thy treasure-chamber at York, and were I craving a loan of thy skekels, it would be thine to dictate the time of payment and the pledge of security. This is my treasure-chamber. Here I have thee at advantage, nor will I again deign to repeat the terms on which I grant thee liberty.
The Jew groaned deeply._"Grant me,” he said, “at least, with my own liberty, that of the companions with whom I travel. They scorned me as a Jew, yet they pitied my desolation, and because they tarried to aid me by the way, a share of my evil hath come upon them ; moreover, they may contribute in some sort to my ransom.
"If thou meanest yonder Saxon churls,” said Front-de-Beuf, their ransom will depend upon other terms than thine. Mind thine own concerns, Jew, I warn thee, and meddle not with those of others.”
“I am, then,” said Isaac, “only to be set at liberty, together with mine wounded friend ?”
“Shall I twice recommend it,” said Front-de-Bæuf, "to a son of Israel, to meddle with his own concerns, and leave those of others alone ?—Since thou hast made thy choice, it remains that thou payest down thy ransom, and that at a short day.'
“Yet hear me," said the Jew_"for the sake of that very wealth which thou wouldst obtain at the expense of thy Here he stopped short, afraid of irritating the savage Norman. But Front-de-Bæuf only laughed, and himself filled up the blank at which the Jew hesitated. “At the expense of my conscience, thou wouldst say, Isaac ; speak it out-I tell thee, I am reasonable. I can bear the reproaches of à loser, even when that loser is a Jew. Thou wert not so patient, Isaac, when thou didst invoke justice against Jacques Fitzdotterel, for calling thee a usurious bloodsucker, when thy actions had destroyed his patrimony.”
“I swear by the Talmud,” said the Jew, " that your valour has been misled in that matter. Fitzdotterel drew his poniard upon me in mine own chamber, because I craved him for mine own silver. The term of payment was due at the Passover.'
"I care not what he did," said Front-de-Bæuf; "the question is, when shall I have mine own ?-when shall I have the shekels, Isaac ?”
“Let my daughter Rebecca go forth to York," answered Isaac, " with your safe-conduct, noble knight, and so soon as man and horse can return, the treasure- Here he groaned deeply, but added, after the pause of a few seconds," the treasure shall be told down on this very floor.
“Thy daughter !” said Front-de-Bæuf, as if surprised, -“ By heavens, Isaac, I would I had known of this. I deemed that yonder black-browed girl had been thy concubine, and I gave her to be a handmaiden to Sir Brian de Bois-Guilbert, after the fashion of patriarchs and heroes of the days of old, who set us in these matters a wholesome example.”
“Nay, if the gentle spirit of moving words
Can no way change you to a milder form,
-Two Gentlemen of Verona.
HE apartment to which the Lady Rowena had been introduced was
fitted up with some rude attempts at ornament and magnificence, and her being placed there might be considered as a peculiar mark
of respect not offered to the other prisoners. But the wife of Front-de-Bæuf, for whom it had been originally furnished, was long dead, and decay and neglect had impaired the few ornaments with which her taste had adorned it. The tapestry hung down from the walls in many places, and in others was tarnished and faded under the effects of the sun, or tattered and decayed by age. Desolate, however, as it was, this was the apartment of the castle which had been judged most fitting for the accommodation of the Saxon heiress; and here she was left to meditate upon her fate until the actors in this nefarious drama had arranged the several parts which each of them was to perform. This had been settled in a council held by Front-de-Bouf, De Bracy, and the Templar, in which, after a long and warm debate concerning the several advantages which each insisted upon deriving from his peculiar share in this audacious enterprise, they had at length determined the fate of their unhappy prisoners.
It was about the hour of noon, therefore, when De Bracy, for whose advantage the expedition had been first planned, appeared to prosecute his views upon the hand and possessions of the Lady Rowena.
The interval had not entirely been bestowed in holding council with his confederates, for De Bracy had found leisure to decorate his person with all the foppory of the times. His green cassock and vizard were now flung aside. His long luxuriant hair was trained to flow in quaint tresses down his richly furred cloak. His beard was closely shaved, his donblet reached to the middle of his leg, and the girdle which secured it, and at the same time supported
his ponderous sword, was embroidered and embossed with gold work. We have already noticed the extravagant fashion of the shoes at this period, and the points of Maurice De Bracy's might have challenged the prize of extravagance with the gayest, being turned up and twisted like the horns of a ram. Such was the dress of a gallant of the period ; and in the present instance, that effect was aided by the handsome person and demeanour of the wearer, whose manners partook alike of the grace of a courtier, and the frankness of a soldier.
He saluted Rowena by doffing his velvet bonnet, garnished with a golden brooch, representing St. Michael trampling down the Prince of Evil. With this, he gently motioned the lady to a seat; and as she still retained her standing posture, the knight ungloved his right hand, and motioned to conduct her thither. But Rowena declined, by her gesture, the prof