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And it watches the bed of the glorious dead,
With the holy stars, by night.
And shall guard this ice-bound shore,
Shall foam and freeze no more.
XIX. — DIALOGUE FROM IVANHOE.
SIR WALTER SCOTT.
THE following scene is taken from “Ivanhoe,” a novel, the scene of which is laid in England, in the twelfth century. Ivanhoe, an English knight, is lying wounded and a captive in the castle of Front-de-Bouf, a Norman knight, while it is undergoing an assault from a party of outlawed forest rangers, aided by an unknown knight in black armor, hence called the Black Knight, who afterwards turns out to be Richard, King of England. Rebecca is a young Jewish maiden.
FOLLOWING with wonderful promptitude the direc
tions of Ivanhoe, and availing herself of the protection of the large ancient shield, which she placed against the lower part of the window, Rebecca, with tolerable security to herself, could witness part of what was passing without the castle, and report to Ivanhoe the preparations which the assailants were making for the storm.
The skirts of the wood seem lined with archers, although only a few are advanced from its dark shadow."
“ Under what banner ?” asked Ivanhoe.
“ Under no ensign of war which I can observe,” answered Rebecca.
“A singular novelty,” muttered the knight, “to advance to storm such a castle without pennon or banner displayed! Seest thou who they be that act as leaders ?”
“A knight clad in sable armor is the most conspicuous," said the Jewess; "he alone is armed from head to
heel, and seems to assume the direction of all around him.”
“What device does he bear on his shield ?” replied Ivanhoe.
Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue on the black shield.”
“A fetterlock and shacklebolt azure," said Ivanhoe; “I know not who may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine own. Canst thou not see the motto ?”
“Scarce the device itself, at this distance," replied Rebecca; “but when the sun glances fair upon his shield, it shows as I tell you.”
“ Seem there no other leaders ? ” exclaimed the anxious inquirer.
“ None of mark and distinction that I can behold from this station,” said Rebecca; “but, doubtless, the other side of the castle is also assailed. They appear even now preparing to advance.”
Her description was here suddenly interrupted by the signal for assault, which was given by the blast of a shrill bugle, and at once answered by a flourish of the Norman trumpets from the battlements.
“ And I must lie here like a bedridden monk,” exclaimed Ivanhoe, “while the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by the hand of others! Look from the window once again, kind maiden, but beware that you are not marked by the archers beneath ; look out once more, and tell me if they yet advance to the storm.”
With patient courage, strengthened by the interval which she had employed in mental devotion, Rebecca again took post at the lattice, sheltering herself, however, so as not to be visible from beneath.
“What dost thou see, Rebecca ?” again demanded the wounded knight.
“Nothing but the cloud of arrows flying so thick as to dazzle mine eyes, and to hide the bowmen who shoot them.”
“That cannot endure,” said Ivanhoe; “if they press not right on to carry the castle by pure force of arms, the archery may avail but little against stone walls and bulwarks. Look for the Knight of the Fetterlock, fair Rebecca, and see how he bears himself; for, as the leader is, so will his followers be.”
“I see him not,” said Rebecca.
“ Foul craven !” exclaimed Ivanhoe; "does he blench from the helm when the wind blows highest ?”
“He blenches not ! he blenches not !” said Rebecca ; “I see him now ; he leads a body of men close under the outer barrier of the barbican. They pull down the piles and palisades; they hew down the barriers with axes. His high black plume floats abroad over the throng, like a raven over the field of the slain. They have made a breach in the barriers, — they rush in, — they are thrust back!- Front-de-Bouf* heads the defenders; I see his gigantic form above the press. They throng again to the breach, and the pass is disputed hand to hand, and man to man. It is the meeting of two fierce tides, the conflict of two oceans moved by adverse winds !"
She turned her head from the lattice, as if unable longer to endure a sight so terrible.
“ Look forth again, Rebecca,” said Ivanhoe, mistaking the cause of her retiring; "the archery must in some degree have ceased, since they are now fighting hand to band. Look again; there is now less danger.”
* Pronounced Fron(g)-dú-Búf.
Rebecca again looked forth, and almost immediately exclaimed,
Front-de-Beuf and the Black Knight fight hand to hand on the breach, amid the roar of their followers, who watch the progress of the strife. Heaven strike with the cause of the oppressed, and of the captive !” She then uttered a loud shriek, and exclaimed, –
He is down !- he is down !
Who is down ? ” cried Ivanhoe. For our dear lady's sake, tell me which has fallen ?”
The Black Knight,” answered Rebecca, faintly; then instantly again shouted, with joyful eagerness, " But
but no !- he is on foot again, and fights as if there were twenty men's strength in his single arm, - his sword is broken, - he snatches an ax from a yeoman, — he presses Front-de-Bæuf with blow on blow, — the giant stoops and totters, like an oak under the steel of the woodman,- he falls, - he falls !”
“ Front-de-Boeuf ?” exclaimed Ivanhoe.
“ His men rush to the rescue, headed by the haughty Templar, their united force compels the champion to pause, — they drag Front-de-Bauf within the walls.”
“ The assailants have won the barriers, have they not?” said Ivanhoe.
" They have, — they have !” exclaimed Rebecca, “and they press the besieged hard upon the outer wall; some plant ladders, some swarm like bees, and endeavor to ascend upon the shoulders of one another, - down go stones, beams, and trunks of trees upon their heads, and as fast as they bear the wounded men to the rear, fresh men supply their place in the assault. Great God ! hast thou given men thine own image, that it should be thus cruelly defaced by the hands of their brethren ?”
“Think not of that,” said Ivanhoe; "this is no time for such thoughts. Who yield ? — who push their way
“ The ladders are thrown down,” replied Rebecca, shuddering. "The soldiers lie groveling under them like crushed reptiles, - the besieged have the better!”
“St. George strike for us !” exclaimed the knight; “ do the false yeomen give way ?”
“No!” exclaimed Rebecca; “they bear themselves right yeomanly, - the Black Knight approaches the postern with his huge ax, — the thundering blows which he deals, you may hear them above all the din and shouts of the battle, stones and beams are hailed down on the bold champion, — he regards them no more than if they were thistledown or feathers !”
"By Saint John of Acre !” said Ivanhoe, raising himself joyfully on his couch ; " methought there was but one man in England that might do such a deed !”
“ The postern gate shakes,” continued Rebecca; “it crashes, — it is splintered by his blows, — they rush in, the outwork is won, they hurl the defenders from the battlements, — they throw them into the moat! O men, if ye be indeed men,
spare them that can resist no longer !”
“The bridge, - the bridge which communicates with the castle, — have they won that pass ?” exclaimed Ivanhoe.
“No," replied Rebecca; “the Templar has destroyed the plank on which they crossed, — few of the defenders escaped with him into the castle, — the shrieks and cries which you hear, tell the fate of the others ! Alas ! I see it is still more difficult to look upon victory than upon battle !"
“What do they now, maiden ?” said Ivanhoe ; “look forth yet again, - this is no time to faint at bloodshed.”