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beams. His manly features showed the progress of his wasting illness, and his beard, neglected and untrimmed, had overgrown both lips and chin.
Casting himself from side to side, now clutching toward him the coverings which, at the next moment, he flung as impatiently from him, his tossed couch and impatient gestures showed at once the energy and the reckless impatience of a disposition, whose natural bent was that of the most active exertion.
“So Sir Kenneth met with a wandering physician at the grotto of Engeddi, ha?" said the king, after a long and perturbed silence, spent in the feverish agitation which we have endeavored to describe.
"Not so, my liege,” replied De Vaux; “but he met, I think, near that place, with a Saracen 'emir, with whom he had some mêlée in the way of proof of valor, and finding him worthy to bear brave men company, they went together, as errant knights are wont, to the grotto of Engeddi.”
“And did they there meet the physician ?” demanded the king impatiently.
“No, my liege," replied De Vaux; “but the Saracen, learning of your majesty's grievous illness, undertook that Saladin should send his own physician to you, and with many assurances of his eminent skill; and he came to the grotto accordingly, after the Scottish knight had tarried a day for him and more. He is attended as if he were a prince, with drums and atabals, and servants on horse and foot, and brings with him letters of credence from Saladin.”
“Have they been examined by Giacomo Loredani?”
“I showed them to the interpreter ere bringing them hither, and behold their contents, in our language !"
Richard took a scroll on which were inscribed these words :
“The blessing of Allah and his Prophet Mohammed ('Out upon the hound!' said Richard, spitting in contempt, by way of interjec
tion). Saladin, king of kings, Soldan of Egypt and Syria, the light and refuge of the earth, to the great Melech Ric, Richard, of England, greeting: Whereas, we have been informed that the hand of sickness hath been heavy upon thee, our royal brother, and that thou hast with thee only such Nazarene and Jewish mediciners as work without the blessing of Allah and our holy Prophet, ("Confusion on his head !' again muttered the English monarch), we have, therefore, sent, to tend and wait upon thee, at this time, the physician to our own person, Adoubec al Hakim, before whose face the angel Azrael (the angel of Death) spreads his wings and departs from the sick chamber; who know the virtues of herbs and stones, that path of the sun, moon and stars, and can save man from all that is not written on his forehead. And we do this, praying you heartily to honor and make use of his skill; not only that we may do service to thy worth and valor, which is the glory of all the nations of Frangistan, but that we may bring the controversy which is at present between us to an end, either by honorable agreement or by open trial thereof, with our weapons, in a fair field; seeing that it neither becomes thy courage and place to die the death of a slave who hath been overwrought by his taskmaster, nor befits it our fame that a brave adversary be snatched from our weapons by such a disease. And therefore, may the holy,—"
“Hold! hold !” said Richard, “I will have no more of this dog of a Prophet! It makes me sick to think that the valiant and worthy Soldan should believe in a dead dog. Yes; I will see his physician. I will put myself into the charge of this Hakim. I will repay the noble Soldan his generosity. I will meet Soldan in the field, as he so worthily proposes, and he shall have no cause to term Richard of England, ungrateful. I will strike him to the earth with my battle-axe. He shall recant his errors before my good crosshandled sword, and I will have him baptized in the battle-field, from my own helmet, though the cleansing waters were mixed with
the blood of us both. Haste, De Vaux, why dost thou delay a conclusion so pleasing ? Fetch the Hakim hither."
The physician who had already informed himself of the various symptoms of the king's illness, now felt his pulse for a long time, and with deep attention, while all around stood silent, and in breathless expectation. The sage next filled a cup with spring water, and dipped into it a small red purse, which he took from his bosom. When he seemed to think it sufficiently medicated, he was about to offer it to the sovereign, who prevented him, by saying, “Hold, an instant—thou hast felt my pulse—let me lay my finger on thine; I too, as becomes a good knight, know something of thine art.”
The Arabian yielded his hand, without hesitation, and his long, slender, dark fingers were, for an instant, enclosed and almost buried in the large enfoldment of King Richard's hand. "His blood beats calm as an infant's," said the king; "so throb not theirs who poison princes. De Vaux, whether we live or die, dismiss this Hakim, with honor and safety. Command us, friend, to the noble Saladin. Should I die, it is without doubt of his faith; should I live, it will be to thank him, as a warrior would desire to be thanked.”
He then raised himself in bed, took the cup in his hands, and turning to the marquis and others: "Mark what I say, and let my royal brethren pledge me, in Cyprus wine—'To the immortal honor of the first crusader who shall strike lance or sword on the gate of Jerusalem; and to the shame and eternal infamy of whosoever shall turn back from the plow on which he hath laid his hand.''
He drained the cup to the bottom, resigned it to the Arabian, and sank back, as if exhausted, upon the cushions which were arranged to receive him. The physician, then, with silent but expressive signs, directed that all should leave the tent, excepting himself and De Vaux, whom no remonstrance could induce to withdraw. The apartment was cleared, accordingly.
When the critical hour had arrived, at which the physician, ac
cording to the rules of his art, had predicted that his royal patient might be awakened, with safety, the sponge was applied for that purpose; and the leech had not made any observations ere he assured the Baron of Gilsland that the fever had entirely left his sovereign, and that such was the happy strength of his constitution, that it would not even be necessary, as in most cases, to give a second dose of the powerful medicine.
Richard himself seemed of the same opinion, for, sitting up and rubbing his eyes, he demanded of De Vaux what present sum of money was in the royal coffers. The baron could not exactly inform him of the amount.
"It matters not,” said Richard ; "be it greater or smaller, bestow it all on this learned leech, who hath, I trust, given me back again to the service of the crusade. If it be less than a thousand byzants, let him have jewels to make it up."
“I sell not the wisdom with which Allah has endowed me," answered the Arabian physician, "and be it known to you, great prince, that the Divine medicine of which you have partaken would lose its effects in my unworthy hands, did I exchange its virtues either for gold or diamonds."
“The physician refuseth a gratuity,” said De Vaux.
“Thomas de Vaux,” said Richard, "thou knowest no courage but what belongs to the sword; no bounty or virtue but what are used in chivalry; I tell thee that this Moor, in his independence, might set an example to them who account themselves the flower of knighthood.”
"It is reward enough," said the Moor, folding his arms on his bosom, and maintaining an attitude at once respectful and dignified, “that so great a king as the Melec Ric should speak thus of his servant.”
From The Talisman.
High-erected thoughts seated in the heart of courtesy.
A Gentleman.-SiR PHILIP SIDNEY.
THE TRAGEDY OF JULIUS CAESAR
BY WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE
PERSONS IN THE PLAY
Triumvirs, after the death of
Conspirators against Julius Cæsar.
Servants to Brutus.
Senators, Citizens, Guards, Attendants, etc.
at Sardis, and near Philippi.