He declared that he was absolutely unable to give any names whatever of those concerned in the plot, save those of the two overseers, as these had undertaken the work of suborning the warders and guards, though he admitted that he had on several occasions spoken to slaves as the gangs were on their way back to the prison, and had told them to be prepared to take part in a plan that was on foot for their rescue from slavery. The torture had not been, as was then the usual custom, applied to extort information; partly because his story was probable, still more because the grand master and council did not wish that more publicity should be given to the affair, and were glad that it should be allowed to drop without any further trial of the delinquents. In the city generally it was only known that a plot had been discovered for the liberation and escape of some of the slaves; and, outside the members of the Order, none were aware of its extent and dangerous character. To the satisfaction of Gervaise and Ralph, Vrados was able to produce letters and documents that satisfied the council that he had been deceived as to the character of the Greek, and was wholly innocent in the matter.
CHAPTER XII THE BOY GALLEY
Among those most pleased at the appointment of Gervaise to the command of the galley was Sir John Boswell. Ever since the adventure with the pirates, the knight had exhibited an almost fatherly interest in him; had encouraged him in his studies, ridden with him on such occasions as he had permitted himself a short holiday, and had, whenever they were together, related to him stories of war, sieges, battles, and escapes, from which he thought the young knight might gain lessons for his future guidance.
“I doubt, Gervaise,” he said one day, as they were riding quietly along the road, “whether our plan of life is altogether the best. We were founded, you know, simply as a body of monks, bound to devote ourselves solely to the care of the sick, and to give hospitality to pilgrims in Palestine. Now this was monkish work, and men who devoted themselves solely to such a life of charity as that in our Hospital at Jerusalem, might well renounce all human pleasures; but when the great change was made by Master Raymond du Puy, and from a nursing body we became a brotherhood in arms, it seems to me that the vows of celibacy were no longer needful or desirable. The crusaders were, many of them, married men, but they fought no worse for that. It would have been far better, methinks, had we been converted into an Order pledged to resist the infidel, but without the vows of poverty and of celibacy, which have never been seriously regarded.