“A good stroke,” Hassan said faintly, “that could shear the double links of Damascus steel as though it were silk. Well, as I told you long ago, I knew that the hour of our meeting in war would be an ill hour for me, and my debt is paid. Farewell, brave knight. Would I could hope that we should meet in Paradise! Take that star jewel, the badge of my House, from my turban and wear it in memory of me. Long, long and happy be your days.”
Then, while Wulf held him in his arms, Saladin came up and spoke to him, till he fell back and was dead.
Thus died Hassan, and thus ended the battle of Hattin, which broke the power of the Christians in the East.
Chapter Nineteen: Before the Walls of Ascalon
When Hassan was dead, at a sign from Saladin a captain of the Mameluks named Abdullah unfastened the jewel from the emir’s turban and handed it to Wulf. It was a glorious star-shaped thing, made of great emeralds set round with diamonds, and the captain Abdullah, who like all Easterns loved such ornaments, looked at it greedily, and muttered:
“Alas! that an unbeliever should wear the enchanted Star, the ancient Luck of the House of Hassan!” a saying that Wulf remembered.
He took the jewel, then turned to Saladin and said, pointing to the dead body of Hassan:
“Have I your peace, Sultan, after such a deed?”
“Did I not give you and your brother to drink?” asked Saladin with meaning. “Whoever dies, you are safe. There is but one sin which I will not pardon you—you know what it is,” and he looked at them. “As for Hassan, he was my beloved friend and servant, but you slew him in fair fight, and his soul is now in Paradise. None in my army will raise a blood feud against you on that score.”
Then dismissing the matter with a wave of his hand, he turned to receive a great body of Christian prisoners that, panting and stumbling like over-driven sheep, were being thrust on towards the camp with curses, blows and mockery by the victorious Saracens.
Among them the brethren rejoiced to see Egbert, the gentle and holy bishop of Nazareth, whom they had thought dead. Also, wounded in many places, his hacked harness hanging about him like a beggar’s rags, there was the black-browed Master of the Templars, who even now could be fierce and insolent.
“So I was right,” he mocked in a husky voice, “and here you are, safe with your friends the Saracens, Sir Knights of the visions and the water-skins—”
“From which you were glad enough to drink just now,” said Godwin. “Also,” he added sadly, “all the vision is not done.” And turning, he looked towards a blazoned tent which with the Sultan’s great pavilion, and not far behind it, was being pitched by the Arab camp-setters. The Master saw and remembered Godwin’s vision of the dead Templars.
“Is it there that you mean to murder me, traitor and wizard?” he asked.