صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

THE STORY OF THE JERUSALEM DELIVERED.

The Eternal Father looked down from His lofty throne upon the Christian powers in Syria. In the six years they had spent in the East they had taken Nice and Antioch. Now, while inactive in winter quarters, Bohemond was strengthening himself in Antioch, and the other chiefs were thinking of glory or love ; but Godfrey, to whom renown was the meanest of glories, was burning to win Jerusalem and restore it to the faith. Inspired by Gabriel, despatched by the Eternal Father, Godfrey called a council, and with an eloquence and fire more than mortal, roused the Christians to action. “We came not here to raise empires; the period has come when all the world is waiting for our next step. Now is the propitious moment. If we delay longer, Egypt will step in to the aid of our Syrian foe !"

Godfrey was unanimously elected chief, and immediate arrangements were made for the setting out to Jerusalem. Godfrey first reviewed the army. A thousand men marched under the lilied banner of Clotharius; a thousand more from the Norman meads under Robert ; from Orange and Puy, troops came under the priests William and Ademar. Baldwin led his own and Godfrey's bands, and Guelpho, allied to the house of Este, brought his strong Carinthians. Other troops of horse and foot were led by William of England. After him came the young Tancred, the flower of chivalry, blighted now, alas! by unrequited love. He had seen by chance the pagan maid Clorinda, the Amazon, drinking at a pool in the forest, and had forgot all else in his love for her. After him came the small Greek force under Tatine; next, the invincible Adventurers under Dudon, bravest of men. Following these were Otho, Edward and his sweet bride Gildippe, who, unwilling to be separated from her husband, fought at his side, and, excellent above all others, the young Rinaldo, whose glorious deeds were yet but a promise of his great future. While but a boy he had escaped from the care of his foster mother, Queen Matilda, and hastened to join the Crusaders. The review was closed by the array of foot soldiers led by Raymond, Stephen of Amboise, Alcasto, and Camillus. The pageant having passed by, Godfrey despatched a messenger to summon Sweno the Dane, who with his forces was still tarrying in Greece, and at once set out for Jerusalem.

Swift rumor had conveyed the tidings of his approach to Aladine, King of Jerusalem, a merciless tyrant, who, enraged, immediately laid heavier taxes upon the unfortunate Christians in his city. Ismeno, a sorcerer, once a Christian, but now a pagan who practised all black arts, penetrated to the presence of the king and advised him to steal from the temple of the Christians an image of the Virgin and put it in his mosque, assuring him that he would thus render his city impregnable. This was done, and Ismeno wrought his spells about the image, but the next morning it had disappeared. After a fruitless search for the image and the offender, the angry king sentenced all the Franks to death. The beautiful maid Sophronia, determined to save her people, assumed the guilt, and was sentenced to be burned. As she stood chained to the stake, her lover, Olindo, to whom she had ever been cold, saw her, and in agony at her sacrifice, declared to the king that Sophronia had lied and that he was the purloiner of the image. The cruel monarch ordered him also to be tied to the stake, that they might die together; and the flames had just been applied when the two were saved by the Amazon Clorinda, who convinced the king that the Christians were innocent and that Allah himself, incensed at the desecration, had snatched away the image.

To the camp of Godfrey at Emmaus came two ambassadors from the king of Egypt, Alethes, a supple crafty courtier of low lineage, and Argantes, a haughty and powerful warrior. But their efforts to keep Godfrey from Jerusalem, first by persuasion, and then by threats, were in vain.

a

They were dismissed from the camp, and the army proceeded on its way.

When the walls and towers of the city where Messias died came in sight, the Christian army, crying “All Hail, Jerusalem !” laid aside their casques, and, shedding tears, trod barefoot the consecrated way.

At sight of the Franks, the pagans hastened to strengthen the fortifications of their city, and Aladine from a lofty tower watched Clorinda attack a band of Franks returning from a foray. At his side was the lovely Erminia, daughter of the King of Antioch, who had sought Jerusalem after the downfall of her city.

Erminia instructed Aladine of the various crusaders, and when she pointed out the noble Tancred, who had treated her with such consideration in Antioch, she felt her love for him revive, though she pretended to the king to hate him for his cruelty. Tancred recognized among the leaders of the pagans Clorinda, bereft of her helmet, and for love of her, refused to fight her. The pagans, driven back by the Christians, were rallied by Argantes, but only to be met by the matchless Adventurers under Dudon. When Dudon fell, the troops under Rinaldo, burning for revenge, reluctantly obeyed Godfrey's summons to return.

The funeral rites over, the artificers were sent to the forest to fell the trees, that engines might be fabricated for the destruction of the city walls.

Angry at the success of the Franks, Satan stirred up the infernal regions, and set loose his friends to work destruction to the Christians. One he despatched to the wizard Idraotes, at Damascus, who conceived the scheme of sending his beautiful niece Armida to ensnare the Christians. In a few days Armida appeared among the white pavilions of the Franks, attracting the attention and winning the love of all who saw her. Her golden locks appeared through her veil as the sunshine gleams through the stormy skies; her charms were sufficiently hidden to make them the more alluring. So attired, modestly seeking the camp of Godfrey, she was met by Eustace, his young brother, and taken to the prince.

With many tears and sighs, she told her pitiful story. She had been driven from her kingdom, an orphan, by the envy and wickedness of her uncle, and had come to ask the Christians to aid her in regaining her rights. Unfortunately for her success, she and her uncle had not calculated on Godfrey's absorption in his divine undertaking. He was proof against her charms, and was determined rot to be delayed longer in laying siege to the city. It required the utmost persuasion of Eustace to induce him to permit ten of the Adventurers to accompany her. Armida, though disappointed in Godfrey's lack of susceptibility, employed her time so well while in camp that when she departed with the ten Adventurers chosen by lot, she was followed secretly by Eustace and many others who had not been chosen, but who were madly in love with her.

Before his departure, Eustace, jealous of Rinaldo, whom he was fearful Armida might admire, had persuaded him to aspire to the place of Dudon, to whom a successor must be elected. Gernando of Norway desired the same place, and, angry that the popular Rinaldo should be his rival, scattered through the camp rumors disparaging to his character: Rinaldo was vain and arrogant; Rinaldo was rash, not brave; Rinaldo's virtues were all vices. At last, stung past endurance by his taunts and insinuations, Rinaldo gave the lie to his traducer, and slew him in fair fight. False reports were taken to Godfrey by Rinaldo's enemies, and the ruler determined to punish the youth severely; but he, warned by his friends, escaped from camp and fled to Antioch. To Godfrey, deprived thus of Rinaldo and many of his brave Adventurers, was brought the tidings that the Egyptian expedition was on its way, and that a ship laden with provisions had been intercepted on its way to his camp.

The bold Argantes, weary of the restraint of the siege, sent a challenge to the Christians, saying he would meet any Frank, high-born or low, in single combat, the conditions being that the vanquished should serve the victor. A thousand knights burned to accept the challenge, but Godfrey named Tancred, who proudly buckled on his armor and called for his steed. As he approached the field, he saw among the pagan hosts, who stood around to view the combat, the fair face of Clorinda, and stood gazing at her, forgetful of all else. Otho, seeing his delay, spurred on his horse, and fought till vanquished. Then Tancred woke from his stupor, and, burning with shame, rushed forward. The battle raged until night fell, and the weary warriors ceased, pledging themselves to return on the morrow.

Erminia, shut up in Jerusalem, mourned over the wounds of Tancred. She knew many healing balms, by which, were she with him, she might heal him and make him ready for the morrow's fight; but she was forced to administer them to his enemy instead. Unable to endure the suspense longer, she put on her friend Clorinda's armor and fled to the Christian camp to find her beloved. The Franks, who spied her, supposed her Clorinda, and pursued her; but she succeeded in reaching a woodland retreat, where she determined to remain with the kind old shepherd and his wife who had fled from the disappointments of the court and had here sought and found peace in their humble home. When Tancred heard from his followers that they had driven Clorinda from the camps, he determined to pursue and speak with her. Rising from his bed he sought the forest only to fall into the wiles of Armida, and be lured into a castle, in whose dungeon he lay, consumed with shame at the thought of his unexplained absence from the morrow's combat.

When morning dawned and Tancred did not appear, the good old Count Raymond went forth to meet Argantes. When he was about to overcome his antagonist, an arrow shot from the pagan ranks brought on a general conflict, in which the Christians were successful until a storm, summoned by the powers of darkness, put an end to the battle. The next morning a knight came to the camp of Godfrey to tell of Sweno's defeat and slaughter. He, the sole survivor of the band, had been commissioned by some supernatural visitants to bring Sweno's sword to Rinaldo.

While Godfrey's heart was wrung by this disaster, the

« السابقةمتابعة »