The Brethren eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 378 pages of information about The Brethren.

Then they passed through the gate, and as the envoys declared that none might accompany them further, walked forward followed by the sound of the weeping of the multitude towards the camp of Saladin, two strange and lonesome figures in the moonlight.

At last these lamentations could be heard no more, and there, on the outskirts of the Moslem lines, an escort met them, and bearers with a litter.

But into this Rosamund would not enter, so they walked onwards up the hill, till they came to the great square in the centre of the camp upon the Mount of Olives, beyond the grey trees of the Garden of Gethsemane.  There, awaiting them at the head of the square, sat Saladin in state, while all about, rank upon rank, in thousands and tens of thousands, was gathered his vast army, who watched them pass in silence.

Thus they came into the presence of the Sultan and knelt before him, Rosamund in her novice’s white robe, and Wulf in his battered mail.

Chapter Twenty Four:  The Dregs of the Cup

Saladin looked at them, but gave them no greeting.  Then he spoke: 

“Woman, you have had my message.  You know that your rank is taken from you, and that with it my promises are at an end; you know also that you come hither to suffer the death of faithless women.  Is it so?”

“I know all these things, great Salah-ed-din,” answered Rosamund.

“Tell me, then, do you come of your own free will, unforced by any, and why does the knight Sir Wulf, whose life I spared and do not seek, kneel at your side?”

“I come of my own free will, Salah-ed-din, as your emirs can tell you; ask them.  For the rest, my kinsman must answer for himself.”

“Sultan,” said Wulf, “I counselled the lady Rosamund that she should come—­not that she needed such counsel—­and, having given it, I accompanied her by right of blood and of Justice, since her offence against you is mine also.  Her fate is my fate.”

“I have no quarrel against you whom I forgave, therefore you must take your own way to follow the path she goes.”

“Doubtless,” answered Wulf, “being a Christian among many sons of the Prophet, it will not be hard to find a friendly scimitar to help me on that road.  I ask of your goodness that her fate may be my fate.”

“What!” said Saladin.  “You are ready to die with her, although you are young and strong, and there are so many other women in the world?”

Wulf smiled and nodded his head.

“Good.  Who am I that I should stand between a fool and his folly?  I grant the boon.  Your fate shall be her fate; Wulf D’Arcy, you shall drink of the cup of my slave Rosamund to its last bitterest dregs.”

“I desire no less,” said Wulf coolly.

Now Saladin looked at Rosamund and asked,

“Woman, why have you come here to brave my vengeance?  Speak on if you have aught to ask.”

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The Brethren from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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