« السابقةمتابعة »
“Noble damsel,' again the Knight of Ivanhoe began; and again Rebecca hastened to interrupt him.
“ Bestow not on me, Sir Knight,” she said, “the epithet of noble. It is well you should speedily know that your handmaiden is a poor Jewess, the daughter of that Isaac of York to whom you were so lately a good and kind lord. It well becomes him, and those of his household, to render to you such careful tendance as your present state necessarily demands."
I know not whether the fair Rowena would have been altogether satisfied with the species of emotion with which her devoted knight had hitherto gazed on the beautiful features, and fair form, and lustrous eyes, of the lovely Rebecca ; eyes whose brilliancy was shaded, and, as it were, mellowed by the fringe of her long silken eyelashes, and which a minstrel would have compared to the evening star darting its rays through a bower of jessamine. But Ivanhoe was too good a Catholic to retain the same class of feelings towards a Jewess. This Rebecca had foreseen, and for this very purpose she had hastened to mention her father's name and lineage ; yet—for the fair and wise daughter of Isaac was not without a touch of female weakness—she could not but sigh internally when the glance of respectful admiration, not altogether unmixed with tenderness, with which Ivanhoe had hitherto regarded his unknown benefactress, was exchanged at once for a manner cold, composed, and collected, and fraught with no deeper feeling than that which expressed a grateful sense of courtesy received from an unexpected quarter, and from one of an inferior
It was not that Ivanhoe's former carriage expressed more than that general devotional homage which youth always pays to beauty ; yet it was mortifying that one word should operate as a spell to remove poor Rebecca, who could not be supposed altogether ignorant of her title to such homage, into a degraded class, to whom it could not be honourably rendered.
But the gentleness and candour of Rebecca's nature imputed no fault to Ivanhoe for sharing in the universal prejudices of his age and religion. On the contrary, the fair Jewess, though sensible her patient now regarded her as one of a race of reprobation, with whom it was disgraceful to hold any beyond the most necessary intercourse, ceased not to pay the same patient and devoted attention to his safety and convalescence. She informed him of the necessity they were under of removing to York, and of her father's resolution to transport him thither, and tend him in his own house until his health should be restored. Ivanhoe expressed great repugnance to this plan, which he grounded on unwillingness to give farther trouble to his benefactors.
“ Was there not,” he said, “in Ashby, or near it, some Saxon franklin, or even some wealthy peasant, who would endure the burden of a wounded countryman's residence with him until he should be again able to bear his armour ? Was there no convent of Saxon endowment, where he could be received ?—Or could he not be transported as far as Burton, where he was sure to find hospitality with Waltheoff, the Abbot of St. Withold's, to whom he was related ?"
“Any, the worst of these harbourages,” said Rebecca, with a melancholy smile, "would unquestionably be more fitting for your residence than the abode of a dispised Jew; yet, Sir Knight, unless you would dismiss your physician, you cannot change your lodging. Our nation, as you well know, can cure wounds, though we deal not in inflicting them; and in our family, in particular, are secrets which have been handed down since the days of Solomon, and of which you have already experienced the advantages. No Nazarene—I crave your forgiveness, Sir Knight-no Christian leech, within the four seas of Britain, could enable you to bear your corslet within a month."
“And how soon wilt thou enable me to brook it?" said Ivanhoe, impatiently.
à Within eight days, if thou wilt be patient and conformable to my directions," replied Rebecca.
"By our Blessed Lady,” said Wilfred, “if it be not a sin to name her here, it is no time for me or any true knight to be bedridden ; and if thou accomplish thy promise, maiden, I will pay thee with my casque full of crowns, come by them as I may.
“I will accomplish my promise,” said Rebecca, "and thou shalt bear thine armour on the eighth day from hence, if thou wilt grant me but one boon instead of the silver thou dost promise me.
“If it be within my power, and such as a true Christian knight may yield to one of thy people," replied Ivanhoe, “I will grant thy boon blythely and thankfully:
“Nay," answered Rebecca, “I will but pray of thee to believe henceforward that a Jew may do good service to a Christian, without desiring other guerdon than the blessing of the Great Father, who made both Jew and Gentile."
“It were sin to doubt it, maiden,” replied Ivanhoe; "and I repose myself on thy skill without farther scruple or question, well trusting
you will enable me to bear my corslet on the eighth day. And now, my kind leech, let me inquire of the news abroad. What of the noble Saxon Cedric and his household ?—what of the lovely lady- He stopt, as if unwilling to speak Rowena's name in the house of a Jew— "of her, I mean, who was named Queen of the tournament?”
“And who was selected by you, Sir Knight, to hold that dignity, with judgment which was admired as much as your valour,” replied Rebecca.
The blood which Ivanhoe had lost did not prevent a flush from crossing his cheek, feeling that he had incautiously betrayed his deep interest in Rowena by the awkward attempt he had made to conceal it.
“It was less of her I would speak," said he, “than of Prince John ; and I would fain know somewhat of a faithful squire, and why he now attends me not!
“Let me use my authority as a leech," answered Rebecca, "and enjoin you to keep silence, and avoid agitating reflections, whilst I apprise you of what you desire to know. Prince John hath broken off the tournament, and set forward in all haste towards York, with the nobles, knights, and churchmen of his party, after collecting such sums as they could wring, by fair means or foul, from those whom are esteemed the wealthy of the land. It is said he designs to assume his brother's crown.'
“Not without a blow struck in his defence," said Ivanhoe, raising himself
upon the couch, “if there were but one true subject in England. I will fight for Richard's title with the best of them=ay, one to two, in his just quarrel!"
“But that you may be able to do so," said Rebecca, touching his shoulder with her hand, "you must now observe my directions, and remain quiet."
Reginald Front-de-Boeuf also looked out upon the field, and immediately snatched his bugle ; and after winding a long and loud blast, commanded his men to their posts on the walls.
“De Bracy, look to the eastern side, where the walls are lowest-Noble Bois-Guilbert, thy trade hath well taught thee how to attack and defend, look thou to the western side I myself will take post at the barbican. Yet, do not confine your exertions to any one spot, noble friends !-We must this day be everywhere, and multiply ourselves, were it possible, so as to carry by our presence succour and relief wherever the attack is hottest. Our numbers are few, but activity and courage may supply that defect, since we have only to do with rascal clowns."
“But, noble knights,” exclaimed Father Ambrose, amidst the bustle and confusion occasioned by the preparations for defence, “will none of ye hear the message of the reverend father in God, Aymer, Prior of Jorvaulx l-I beseech thee to hear me, noble Sir Reginald !
“Go patter thy petitions to Heaven," said the fierce Norman, "for we on earth have no time to listen to them.-Ho, there, Anselm ! see that seething pitch and oil are ready to pour on the heads of those audacious traitors look that the cross-bow-men lack not bolts*—Fling abroad my banner with the old bull's head-the knaves shall soon find with whom they have to do this day!”
“But, noble sir,” continued the monk, persevering in his endeavours to draw attention, “consider my vow of obedience, and let me discharge myself of my Superior's errand.”
Away with this prating dotard,” said Front-de-Beuf,” lock him up in the chapel, to tell his beads till the broil be over. It will be a new thing to the saints in Torquilstone to hear aves and paters; they have not been so honoured, I trow, since they were cut out of stone.”
Blaspheme not the holy saints, Sır Reginald,” said De Bracy, we shall have need of their aid to-day before yon rascal rout disband.”
“ I expect little aid from their hand,” said Front-de-Beuf, “unless we were to hurl them from the battlements on the heads of the villains. There is a large lumbering Saint Christopher yonder, sufficient to bear a whole company to the earth.”
The Templar had in the meantime been looking out on the proceedings of the besiegers, with rather more attention than the brutal Front-de-Beuf or his giddy companion.
By the faith of mine order," he said, "these men approach with more touch of discipline than could have been judged, however they come by it. See how dexterously they avail themselves of every cover which a tree or bush affords, and shun exposing themselves the shot of our cross-bows? I spy neither banner nor pennon among them, and yet will I gage my golden chain that they are led on by some noble knight or gentleman, skilful in the practice of wars.
"I espy him,” said De Bracy; "I see the waving of a knight's crest, and the gleam of his armour. See yon tall man in the black mail
, who is busied marshalling the farther troop of the rascaille yeomen-By Saint
* The bolt was the arrow peculiarly fitted to the cross-bow, as that of the long-bow was called a shaft. Hence the English proverb—“I will either make a shift or bolt of it," signifying a determination to make one use or other of the thing spoken of.
Denis, I hold him to be the same whom we called Le Noir Faineant, who overthrew thee, Front-de-Beuf, in the lists at Ashby."
"So much the better," said Front-de-Bouf, "that he comes here to give me my revenge. Some hilding fellow must he be, who dared not stay to assert his claim to the tourney prize which chance had assigned him. I should in vain have sought for him where knights and nobles seek their foes, and right glad am I he hath here shewn himself among yon villain yeomanry.
The demonstrations of the enemy's immediate approach cut off all farther discourse. Each knight repaired to his post, and at the head of the few followers whom they were able to muster, and who were in numbers inadequate to defend the whole extent of the walls, they awaited with calm determination the threatened assault.
“This wandering race, sever'd from other men,
Boast yet their intercourse with human arts;
UR history must needs retrograde for the space of a few pages, to
inform the reader of certain passages material to his understanding the rest of this important narrative. His own intelligence may
indeed have easily anticipated that, when Ivanhoe sank down, and seemed abandoned by all the world, it was the importunity of Rebecca which prevailed on her father to have the gallant young warrior transported from the lists to the house which, for the time, the Jews inhabited in the suburbs of Ashby.
It would not have been difficult to have persuaded Isaac to this step in any other circumstances, for his disposition was kind and grateful. But he had also the prejudices and scrupulous timidity of his persecuted people, and those were to be conquered.
‘Holy Abraham!” he exclaimed, “he is a good youth, and my heart bleeds to see the gore trickle down his rich embroidered hacqueton, and his corslet of goodly price--but to carry him to our house !—damsel, hast thou well considered he is a Christian, and by our law we may not deal with the stranger and Gentile, save for the advantage of our commerce.”
“Speak not so, my dear father," replied Rebecca ; "we may not indeed mix with them in banquet and in jollity ; but in wounds and in misery the Gentile becometh the Jew's brother."
“I would I knew what the Rabbi Jacob Ben Tudela would opine on it," replied Isaac ;-"nevertheless, the good youth must not bleed to death. Let Seth and Reuben bear him to Ashby.'
"Nay, let them place him in my litter,” said Rebecca ; "I will mount one of the palfreys.
"That were to expose thee to the gaze of those dogs of Ishmael and of Edom,” whispered Isaac, with a suspicious glance towards the crowds of knights and squires. But Rebecca was already busied in carrying her charitable purpose into effect, and listened not to what he said, until Isaac, seizing the sleeve of her mantle, again exclaimed, in a hurried voice“Beard of Aaron ?-what if the youth perish !—if he die in our custody, shall we not be held guilty of his blood, and be torn to pieces by the multitude ?"
“He will not die, my father,” said Rebecca, gently extricating herself from the grasp of Isaac-"he will not die, unless we abandon him ; and if so, we are indeed answerable for his blood to God and to man."
“Nay," said. Isaac, releasing his hold, “it grieveth me as much to see