THE BOY CRUSADERS.
Take me; but spare these-others.''1"
- Page 6r.
The Boy Crusaders
A JOYFUL SURPRISE
T. Nelson and Sons
London, Edinburgh, and New York
IRobert of /iDarseilles
T. NELSON AND SONS
Londont Edinburgh^ and New York 189s
I. THE ARRIVAL OF THE CRUSADE AT MARSEILLES, 9
II. THE MERCHANTS' OFFER, .... .... .... 14
III. A FRIEND'S PERSUASION, .... .... 21
IV. THE DECISION, .... .... .... 27
V. FAREWELL TO HOME, .... .... .... 33
VI. OUT AT SEA, ..... .... ..... .... 37
VII. THE TERRORS OF THE DEEP, .... .... 43
VIII. ON A HOSTILE SHORE, .... .... .... 50
IX. SLAVERY AND MARTYRDOM, .... .... 64
X. A GERMAN EMPEROR AT JERUSALEM, .... 82
XI. A PLOT AND A COUNTERPLOT, .... .... 84
XII. IN THE MARKET-PLACE OF ALEXANDRIA, .... 95
XIII. A JOYFUL SURPRISE, .... .... .... 105
XIV. A TWILIGHT ADVENTURE, .... .... 115
XV. SWEET HOME, .... .... .... 123
XVI. LIGHTS AND SHADOWS, .... .... ..... 128
THE BOY CRUSADERS.
THE ARRIVAL OF THE' CRUSADE AT MARSEILLES.
[" ORE than six hundred years ago a
XYJL report spread through the populous and influential old city of Marseilles that a host of boys had gathered in the neighbourhood of Vendorne for the purpose of delivering Jerusalemthe city where our Lord laboured and diedfrom the hands of the Saracens. A shepherd-boy, Stephen by name, had kindled the hearts of all these youths to a high pitch of enthusiasm, giving out that the Lord Himself had appeared to him in the form of a poor pilgrim, and endowed him with full power as
a preacher of the cross; and many wonders were said to have been wrought by this youth, especially at' the shrine of St. Denys. Thousands of boys had flocked around him not those of his own class alone, but sons of distinguished familiesforsaking home, parents, brothers, sisters, and friends in the firm resolve to make a crusade in the Holy Land under a leader thus divinely appointed, and to deliver the sacred tomb of Christ from the heathen.
Some condemned it foolish undertaking, which King Philip Augustus, as well as the learned masters of the University of Paris, had wisely refused to encourage; but the majority believed it to be a movement inspired by Heaven. They said that God Himself had aroused the children, and entrusted to their faith His work, which so many kings, princes, and experienced warriors had in vain striven to perform.
Of such a nature was the conversation which passed in a wine-house in Marseilles on an August day in 1212. A large number were
assembled therenative and foreign merchants, ship-masters, wealthy artisans, public officials, regular and chance frequenters of the houseand all were deeply interested in the subject.
Among the foreign merchants there were two who had been for several weeks in Marseilles, and who had lying in the harbour several large ships not yet laden. Nothing was known of them except that they appeared wealthy; and this reputation being justified by a rather free expenditure on their part, they were received by the citizens with respectful consideration. Their exterior, however, was scarcely calculated to awaken confidence. The soul of a candid, benevolent man looks forth from his eyes: in these men the spirit seemed to hide itself, or to express itself pnly by sharp and cunning looks. Both had their features disfiguredthe one by a deep, crooked scar across his face; the other by the loss of an eye, which was replaced by a black patch. Thus they resembled rough, war-worn soldiers rather than peaceable mer-
chants. One was named Hugo Ferrens; the otherthe one-eyed manWilhelm Porcus. They were Sicilians.
And now an unusual commotion was heard without. The passers in the street were at every moment thronging closer and more rapidly forward. The cause of the excitement was not yet quite intelligible, but through the confused mingling of voices the joyful cry was heard,
" They are coming they are coming "
It was evident that something very unusual was at hand, and the company in the wine-house were immediately seized by the general excitement.
" Perhaps the time has come," said Porous, raising his voice ; perhaps the host is already approaching." He beckoned to his companion ; they saluted the company and pressed out into the crowd.
And now a rider appeared, galloping, covered with dust, his face glowing. Upon a white flag, which he waved high "in the air, was a cross embroidered in red. Horse and rider
were immediately so closely surrounded that further progress was impossible.
After the breathless herald had recovered himself a little, he cried aloud,
" God's blessing be upon you, burghers of Marseilles! I have desired to be the first to announce to you the coming of the most wonderful army in the world. Thirty thousand brave boys-truly the flower of all Franceare following on foot, conducted by the young Stephen, the divinely enlightened, the leader attested by wonderful miracles, who has been called to destroy the heathen as David did Goliathto cut them off root and branch, great and small. Citizens of Marseilles, the crusading army send you this flag of peace and greeting. They hope that you will hospitably allow them to remain among you until the time and opportunity shall arrive for their embarkation for the Holy Land."
This address was received with almost universal shouts of rejoicing. The flag, which the rider threw among the people, was immediately torn into shreds, for which the
THE MERCHANTS' OFFER.
Among the throng which curiosity had drawn outside the city to watch the coming of the young crusaders was Robert Raymond, the son of a Marseilles silk merchant. He had climbed a tree in order the better to see the long procession.
What a strange sight! Thousands of boys marched slowly, in exact order, to the singing of a hymn. Banners of white silk, embroidered in red with the cross and glittering with gold and silver borders, fluttered above the foremost ranks. Not far behind these was seen an open chariot richly draped with costly stuffs, and surrounded by fifty young halberdiers, mounted and bearing arms. Directly in front of the chariot some twenty boys were swinging silver censers, while others carried long wax-candles.
multitude fought, those who obtained them carefully carrying them away as relics.
Upon the elevated seat of the vehicle sat the leader of the crusade, the shepherd-boy Stephen, a slender and delicate youth, with a countenance pale, but lighted up by flashing eyes, which gave him an expression of more mature age than was indicated by his boyish figure.
Young Raymond was deeply moved.
" 0 Lord," he sighed, in the earnestness of his heart, what a wonderful grace Thou hast bestowed upon this poor shepherd-boy I am already fourteen years old, and what have I done to giorify Thee ? "
Stephen was simply clad. Only a narrow gold band confining his clustering, dark-brown hair, and a golden cross embroidered upon his short and light pilgrim's mantle, betokened the boy's office and dignity. In his hand he held a cross made of two thin sticks joined together. With a clear, shrill voice he gave out the following hymn, which was repeated, line after "line, by the rest of the boys :
" O Lord, restore Thy crossthe true, the glorious; Lord God, exalt Thy people by Thy might; Be Tny strong arm o'er heathendom victorious, And shield us for Thy holy tomb who fight."
Most of the boys looked well and cheerful, having thus far been able to withstand the hardships of the route; their expression was that of joyful enthusiasm. Each one wore a red cross upon his garments, and they bore pilgrims' staves and wallets; but very few were armed. *
To this youthful band, gathered from all parts of Prance, and composed partially of children of families of rank, but principally of shepherd-lads, a number of older pilgrims had joined themselves, led by a similar faith in the wonderful gifts of the saintly boy.
As the procession passed close to the tree upon which young Raymond had stationed himself, he recognized his dearest friend, the son of a merchant of Avignon. They had been educated together during several years. Robert could not restrain a cry of pleasure, and Henry, hearing his own name, and recognizing his friend's voice, looked up quickly. Their eyes met. Robert Raymond could have sprung from the tree into the arms of his friend. He descended as quickly as he was
able, and slipped nimbly through the crowd, making his way in the direction of Henry, who could not leave the ranks even for a minute.
The crusaders did not enter the city, as it had been expected they would dohow could so great a number have found lodgment there ? but they endeavoured to make themselves comfortable outside of the walls. The season and the mild, pleasant weather favoured an encampment in the open air.
As had been the case at other places, the people came flocking from far and wide to offer their alms and food; for these children of the cross had no abundant supply of anything except faith. Pious women and maidens brought them silver and gold pieces, and besought them to remember the givers before God at the holy sepulchre; others asked for some little relic, to be given when they should return, if only a twig or a .dry leaf from the country where the Lord had dwelt more than a thousand years before.
The delicate but heroic shepherd-boy, whom
his followers honoured as a saint, was the chief object of curiosity and admiration. People thought themselves happy in being permitted merely to touch his garments. The magnificent drapery ofj his chariot was spread tent for him in the centre of the camp, and this tent was surrounded by the fifty young halberdiers as guards.
Even before the messengers of the citizens of Marseilles had conveyed their greetings and their offerings to the leader of the crusaders, the Sicilian merchants Porcus and Perrens had urged their way into his presence, easily finding him, from his peculiar^ surroundings. With tmcovered heads and reverential mien they approached the young shepherd, who was gazing longingly past Marseilles toward the sea. Both of the merchants bent the knee before him, saying,
" Holy youth, permit us to express our veneration for thee."
" Bow not before me," replied Stephen, but before God alone, whose power has inspired and prepared me for the work."
Porcus and Perrens arose.
" We bow before Him in the person of His holy one. Thou worker of wonders, whose glance can read our hearts as certainly as thine arm will overthrow the Saracens, permit us fully to explain the purpose which brings us before thee. We are Sicilian merchants, and have acquired abundant wealth by a perilous, laborious life. On coming to Marseilles a short time ago to freight our vessels with merchandise, we heard the wonderful report of this crusade, which is destined to be held in glorious remembrance as long as the world shall stand. The Holy Spirit, who called thee for this work, touched our hearts also, and we immediately agreed, for the honour of Christendom, to be useful to the best of our ability to thee and to the crusading army. Wilt thou noAV tell us in what manner ye hope to reach the Promised Land ? Have ye ships ready for the voyage 1 or, if they are not provided, is there money sufficient for that purpose ?"
" Not yet," replied the shepherd-lad. We
have little or no money. Why should we have it 1 Did not the Lord Himself appear to me and command me to preach the cross % If, then, it is His will that we should deliver the sepulchre of our Saviour, He will surely bring us to the Land of Promise, even if His angels themselves must bear us across the sea."
" This is the language of a prophet! Such are the words we expected to hear!" cried Porcus and Ferrens, as if carried away by admiration. But permit us, before all others, to be the instruments of His will-His angels who shall convey you dry-shod across the sea. We have ships enough to receive all the host a freight more precious than all the merchandise of the world; grant us the favour of carrying deliverance to the oppressed Christians of the Holy Land. In but a few days all will be ready, for we were prepared in advance for this event. In the meantime the army can enjoy needed repose."
Stephen clasped his hands, raised them to heaven, and exclaimed aloud,
" Lord, I knew that Thou wouldst not for-
A FRIEND'S PERSUASION.
Let us return to the moment when the young friends found themselves standing
sake us !" Then turning to the merchants, he said, Christian men and brethren, ye will be blessed for this deed. Ye will have part in the rescue of the holy cross for which we struggle. Do now as seems good to you. Think not of our repose: we wish, we need, no rest until our work is accomplished."
As Porcus and Perrens returned to the city the ringing of the vesper-bell sounded through the air. They turned their eyes to the camp and saw the host of children upon their knees in prayer to God. The soft, golden light of evening rested upon their young heads.
"If we believed in an almighty God" said Porcus.
" Folly answered his companion. That will do for doits and children : we are men."
face to face. They wept from mingled joy and pain, knowing that the sorrow of parting must so soon follow the happiness of meeting.
"You too are going to the Promised Land?" asked Robert, with emotion, regarding the slight form of his friend, who was a whole year younger than himself.
The eyes of the younger lad shone through his tears at the-question.
" Yes, Robert; I and all the rest are travelling to the Promised Land. Oh, if I could tell you what I have felt! I am so happy When I shall kneel by the tomb of the Redeemer; when I shall walk the streets that He has trodden; when, in the holy scenes of His passion, I shall feel as I ought His great love, His unchangeable faithfulness toward all mankind,then I shall willingly lay down my life, even should the heathen slay me with all their tortures. The Saviour, the Son of God Himselfdid He not die on the cross ? "
" But thou art so young," said Robert, in distress" so young to meet certain death."
" But who can tell that 1" cried Henry earnestly. Are we not called of God to deliver the holy sepulchre ? Are we not led by the wonder-working hand of His holy one ? See When I first heard of a crusade to be undertaken against the Saracens by us boys, it all seemed strange and foolish to me; but his words have made it all clear. When I heard him speak I received courage to fight against the heathen with these poor fellows. Oh, love makes one strong indeed And since I know the life of our divine Redeemer, all that any human being can do or suffer seems poor and trifling. Yes, we shall conquer, we shall raise the cross above that holy tomb. Jesus the youth drove the money-changers from the temple of His Father : we shall drive the unbelievers from the shrine of our Lord. The distress of Christian pilgrims has so long appealed in vain to the hearts of their brethren that God has put weapons into the hands of us boys, to the shame of cowardly and hesitating men. What need has the Almighty of our
human strength? Through our weakness shall the name of God the Father and the Son be glorified."
Robert listened with admiration and amazement to the words of his enthusiastic friend. They took an irresistible hold upon him. He pressed Henry's hand, saying,
" You have chosen* well. I, too, can feel His love and the power of His Spirit. Oh, if I could but go Avith you and fight beside you, my friend When I was sitting up in the tree yonder and looking down at that pale, slight shepherd-boy who has trusted himself to the Lord, I trembled all over and felt a heat like that of a sunbeam. It was as if some new life had awakened in my heart."
" It was indeed the divine admonition that came to you," replied Henry, and you must not refuse to heed the voice that commands you to go with us."
" And leave my parents 1"
Henry turned away weeping.
" 0 my mother my mother he cried.,
" If I but dared !" cried Robert, Must I
stay here and only dream of all your wonderful deeds, your .victories % The banners will fly; Stephen leads the way, and nothing will be able to withstand you, until you shall take possession of that holy place. How will millions of pilgrims bless you for ages to come Dear Henry, what shall I do ? "
" Were Stephen with us," answered the boy, he might tell you, for in him lives the Spirit of God. You are awakened, you are called; you must forsake all things, and have but one thought, one love, one will. And if father or mother would detain you, God is more than father and mother. He who receives the call dares on no account excuse himself. Stephen has told us, and he is an apostle of truth. Is it not the highest honour that God should -confide such a work to our feeble arms ? "
" Leave me but a day or two," entreated Robert; first let me hear what my father says about it. When do you expect to embark ?"
" We do not yet know in what ships we are to sail; I trust all "to God's guidance. He will let us know when the time comes."
" And must you remain here ?" asked Robert. Will you not rather go home with me in the meantime ?"
" I cannot separate myself from the other boys," replied Henry. And how can I know whether your father favours our holy enterprise 1 for many noble and distinguished men have rebuked us as childish enthusiasts, and done all in their power to hinder us in our work.0 Son of God, who died on the cross for us, thou Being of holiest, truest love, Thou seest into our hearts. Thou knowest for what we strive ; Thou knowest whether pure love to Thee reigns in our souls, so that we Avould give up allallfor Thee, and only die at Thy feet. What do we other than Thy holy word commands ? We have left all behindparents, family, friends, and hometo strive together for Thy heavenly kingdom, for the salvation of our own and others' souls. Give us love ; give us the faith that removes mountains, that all may know how strong and mighty Thou art in us feeble creatures." ....
The young hearts beat against each other;
the young eyes overflowed, and their tears were mingled.
" Farewell, Henry. We shall soon meet again."
" Oh, let us both live and die for the cross," cried Henry. Let us repay the love of the crucified One."
Robert pressed his hand again.
" Nothing shall separate us," he said.
Young: Raymond went home with a firm resolve immediately to ask his father's consent to his going. But the words died away upon his tongue: he had never seen his father in so gloomy a mood. He was silent, therefore, -and" awaited a more favourable opportunity.
On that same evening the merchant received a visit from a friend, who had a great deal of news to impart. Among the rest, he
told how Porcus and Perrens had engaged to convey the crusaders to the Holy Land in their ships, free of cost, for the love of God.
" Then is the measure of folly full! burst from the silk-merchant's lips. "Boys who have run away from parents and teachers, and men who have become childish, or perhaps hypocritical scoundrelsGod knows and who aid this outbreak with all their powers,what reasonable man can believe that this host, were they three hundred thousand instead of thirty, could drive the Saracens from Jerusalem 1"
Robert was cut to the heart on hearing his father's words. If he might have ventured to reply, how gladly would he have told him that the power of the Lord was in the arms of these childrenthat it was for their faith that such wonderful gifts were bestowed upon them!
Raymond went on,
"I, for my part, cannot understand such blindness. Those who are flattering boyish vanity and promoting this work of a heated
fancy are certainly drawing a bitter curse down upon their own heads. Our Lord and Saviour chose men, not children, to be His apostles."
" And it is not enough that these children should go," said the friend, but I hear that in Burgundy, and in Germany too, a multitude of boys and girls are preparing for a crusade, and have indeed set out."
" Nothing," rejoined the merchant, is more illusive than example, even if that example be the most thoughtless in the world. A fool always finds imitators. These rash ones, you may be sure, will one day bitterly repent their folly."
" The strangest thing is," continued the visitor, "that there are grown people so carried away that they have joined the crusade as pilgrims to aid in celebrating the expected victory and, triumph."
The merchant laughed bitterly.
" Just so. The seed of folly must come to its full growth before God's angel of punishment can cut it down," he said.
Robert's mother was silent during this conversation. Her mind was undecided. She honoured the sagacity of her husband, yet how could she condemn the heroic faith of the children ? If this enthusiasm was not of God, whence did it spring ?
With deep distress Robert perceived how much his ideas and those of his father were at variance. If he had dared to speak, and freely to express all that was in his heart all his humble love for his Saviour and for all mankind! Why should the Lord of all the worlds no longer do wonders for the glory of His holy name ? He prayed to God to change the feelings of his father, and to make himself more worthy of the holy enterprise. In his dreams that night he again saw the passing of the brave and blooming young army, the shepherd-boy leading in the hymn of the cross. Brightly gleamed the pinnacles of Jerusalem; the banners floated on high. How loud were the shouts of triumph! How gloriously shone the cross, brighter and ever brighter, until it shed a
flood of heavenly radiance, and the happy, triumphant children knelt around the holy sepulchre.
Thus closed the eventful day with such a bright and beautiful dream, leading the boy's fancy onward and ever onward, until his' burdened spirit was lulled into peace. All fled with the morning light. His father's anger stood menacingly between him and the Promised Land.
On the following day a party of the young crusaders, including Stephen himself, entered the city. Porcus and Ferrens had invited them, with several of the most distinguished citizens, to a banquet on board one of their ships. The populace thronged eagerly around to see the young heroes face to face, and a thousand blessings were called down upon their heads. Flowers were strewn in their way, and the people everywhere greeted them enthusiastically as the deliverers, the helpers, of all Christendom. -
Nor were the names of Porcus and Ferrens forgotten. The intentions of these merchants
were quietly made known to the citizens, and the magnanimous Christian pair could scarcely receive sufficient praise. How many youths of Marseilles stood around with longing looks, weeping for shame But, alas this day was to call forth many more bitter and unavailing tears in that city.
Robert's feelings were a mixture of joy and pain, love, longing, fear, and hope. He dared not confide in his father. That clear-sighted man had never yet been agitated by so great and so sorrowful indignation as in these days upon witnessing events which he could not but regard as springing from unreason, and fated to be utterly disastrous. With the mother it was otherwise. When Robert, with sparkling eyes, described to her the festal procession, the hopeful animation of the boys, she said with deep emotion,
" God help them I cannot say that their undertaking is wise ; yet that they should forsake all things to fight for the glory of the Saviour among the wild heathenthat every human heart must comprehend."
The son did not venture to make known his purpose to her, although in these words he found a half consent to it, and was thereby much strengthened in his resolve. When he again met Henry, the clay had been appointed for the embarkation of the crusade. The Sicilian merchants had hastened the necessary preparations, which alacrity tended much to exalt their Christian zeal in the eyes of most of the citizens.
The cheerful confidence with which Henry spoke of the futurehis firm faith that God Himself had appointed them to this crusade fixed Robert's determination ; he hesitated no longer. The two boys fell on their knees, and, hand in hand, looking up to heaven, vowed to devote their lives to the defence of Christendom.
FAREWELL TO HOME.
The last night under the father's roof had come. Robert tossed restlessly upon his
couch ; sleep came not. All was still around him; only his heart beat wildly, his pulses throbbed as with fever. Silently the boy arose and knelt. He thought long of his father, his mother, and his little sister, not yet two years old; then he looked up to the image of the Crucified, and said, weeping,
" Thou most faithful Saviour, if it be Thy will that I should give up father, mother, and sister to follow Thee and to glorify Thy name among the heathen in distant lands, then, Lord Jesus Christ, with Thy love and power stand by me. Forsake me not, feeble boy though I am."
What power there is in prayer poured forth from a sincere heart! Robert felt it; he could have believed that the face of the Redeemer shone down upon him with wondrous, holy tenderness. For a long time he lay motionless, then arose, strengthened, and quietly sought his bed. His earlier years the days of his happy childhoodpassed before his vivid imagination, until at length, exhausted, he fell into a deep slumber^
So at last the momentous clay dawned the day fixed for the embarkation of the young crusaders. All Marseilles was in commotion. Who would have missed a sight so unique 1 All who were able brought alms and provisions, that they might not lose their share and their reward in the great work. The young heroes of the faith were greeted with cheers as they moved, singing, toward the quay. Their path was, as yet over flowersperhaps only so much the longer to be set with thorns. With what joy their faces were lighted up There lay the great ships prepared to bear them away to the Holy Land. High in the air the streamers floated gaily, as though quivering with impatience, and stretching themselves out toward the goal. Some hundreds of ecclesiastics^ all distinguished by wearing the red cross, had joined the youthful army. Its numbers had been swelled by many children of Marseilles and its vicinity. Most of these had enrolled themselves secretly against the will of their parents.
When the shepherd-boy came in sight of the sea he fell on his knees and prayed aloud; his example was followed by the whole train. The boys were then received by a large number of distinguished citizens, who had come out from the port to meet them, with the Sicilian merchants. Skiffs with festal decorations were lying ready to convey them to the vessels. Amid the cheers of the crowd Stephen first stepped into one of these boats; the rest followed, and in about an hour all the crusaders were on board.
The last skiff returned; the anchor was weighed; the wind filled the sails; the fleet moved off. Friends, family, parents, fatherlandall, all were left behind.
The boys crowded the decks to greet once more the land of home. From the shore resounded a thousand-voiced blessing; there were calls, there was waving of signals. But as the ships with the host of children sailed faster and farther away over the sea, many a heart was heavy, many an eye grew moist.
One in the crowd covered his face with
his hands and wept bitterly. It was the silk-tnerchant, Raymond. His soul was bowed to the earth with grief. Had he then any misgiving that with every moment his only son was receding farther and farther from him?
OUT AT SEA.
Robert gazed fixedly toward the horizon: there Marseilles had disappeared. Marseilles! Oh, what meaning in that name It comprehended all the love the boy's life had ever been blessed with. He seemed to see his father and his mother bowed down with grief; he heard his little sister call his name; she stretched out her dimpled arms for him, while his parents said amid their tears,
" What- a return for our love !"
Oh, could Robert have spoken but one word, one single word, or exchanged but one look of farewell! But it was too late;
the broad sea lay like a mighty gulf between them, and swallowed up every cry of gratitude and love.
" My Saviour, what have I done \" sighed the boy, in anguish. He felt some one touch his shoulder, and, turning, saw behind him the wonder-working shepherd-lad, who said, with an earnest look in his bright eyes,
" Why dost thou waver ? The Lord sends his angels hither and thither across the seas. Oh that thou couldst but see the heavenly hosts at the feet of the Crucifiedthe ten times ten thousand who have drawn their flaming swords against the heathen "
Robert raised his eyes ; at the words of the enthusiastic boy he thought he saw the light from the shining wings of the ten times ten thousand flashing down upon them from the blue sky.
" Lord and Saviour, Thou who hast revealed Thyself unto me, oh, strengthen this and all other fearful souls! Anoint the dim eyes with the heavenly dew of Thy grace,
that they may see the crown awaiting him that overcometh!"
" Amen amen responded a third boyish voicethat of Henry. He extended his hand to Robert. Every rolling wave brings us nearer to the Promised Land. I would I had wings, that I might hasten onward! Prance, which I have left behind, is no longer my home ; yonder it liesJerusalem. The glorious, loving Christ, whom we follow, is my all and my only One."
Robert, observing now for the first time his friend's pale and emaciated countenance, anxiously inquired,
" But are you not ill, Henry ? "
The boy smiled.
" I have never been so well. And I shall not die until I shall have seen Jerusalem and His tomb."
The sound of the mid-day bell called them all on deck..
The ship in which were Stephen, Robert, and Henry was the largest and most important of the little fleetits admiral-ship. Porcus
and Ferrens also were on board of her. With surprise the boys saw a great number of foreigners, who now for the first time made their appearance. The crew, which was very numerous, consisted of men of savage and formidable aspect, who spoke for the most part in a language unknown to the boys. Robert could not but say to himself, If the heathen are like these men, we poor boys shall indeed stand in need of divine assistance."
The first day passed quickly for the boys in the contemplation of the manifold novelties that met their eyes. The most delightful weather favoured their passage. Cloudless, in pure and serene blue, the sky stretched above their heads. The evening sun shone magnificently, blending the heavens and the sea in one blaze of glory. The scene shifted. Countless myriads of golden stars shone forth. What eye could take in the horizon or receive all the glory of this grand display ? Long lines of glittering light quivered upon the waves where they reflected the image of the
moon. Oh, gentle, wonderful repose of a summer twilight cooled by the softest zephyrs of night!
Robert still remained on deck; his young and susceptible soul felt the breathing of God that pervaded His grand and pure creation. All trembling and fear, all regret and pain, were laid to rest; of only one thing was the boy consciousthat he was in the hand of the Lord. In such a mood as that the poor and needy soul of man grows strong and learns to tremble before nothing except the Almighty.
In the hinder-part of the ship stood Porcus and Ferrens conversing in a low tone. They had seen many such nights, and their hearts were hardened against the beauties of Nature.
" In seven days," remarked Ferrens, if the wind continues fair, we shall reach our destination."
" We are the shrewdest merchants that ever lived," rejoined Porcus. If we have ten more lucky years in this business, we may sit down at our ease."
" That," replied Ferrens, I never want to do. I want to be active and earn money as long as I live. I hate repose."
" And then ?" asked Porcus.
" I don't understand you," said Ferrens.
" I often have strange ideas," said Porcus. What a pity that we must die "
" That sort of ideas," said Ferrens, I put entirely out of my head."
"Do you know," Porcus continued, "that the simplicity of these children has sometimes made me pity them ? When I look at them I remember that, once I had a son. He fell into the sea and was drownedmy only child ["
"What is gone is gone," replied Ferrens, with indifference.
" If I only- knew what that gone means These children would say he is gone to God, but to us that only seems an idle fashion of speech. I saw him fall into the deep and sink ; and there, at the bottom of the sea, the fishes have long since torn the flesh from the bones. Whoever lies there, that is the end
of him; as to going to God from so many fathoms under the water, it is absurd. And yet if I could believe it as these children do, I should be far happier."
" This is only foolish speculation," said Ferrens ; "it leads to nothing. Let us go and sleep."
"It is only now and then," returned his companion, that I think of such things. I do not fear death, and yet. there are times when I shudder at the thought of it, and wonder whether it is the same thing to a pious man as to one like us."
"Dying is dying," answered Ferrens; "all flesh feels alike. Do you suppose a religious man has different nerves: and sinews from those of a godless one ? "'
THE, TERRORS OF THE DEEP.
The morning of the second day was as beautiful and bright as the night had been. Toward
mid-day, however, a little cloud was seen far in the horizona little dark cloud that enlarged with astonishing rapidity, and in -a short time overspread the whole sky with threatening gloom. The air was so heavy and sultry that one could breathe but with difficulty. The wind suddenly changed, tossing the sea into whirling waves, and making it leap and foam as with madness ; it went hissing and whistling through the cordage of the vessels. Heavy rain-drops mingled with the froth of the sea, and the distant thunder rolled with long reverberations, blending with the sound of wind and waves.
The sailors hastened to prepare the ships as well as they could to weather the coming storm; with practised agility they clambered over the masts and the yards in spite of the gale, which tossed them up and down like a child's ball. The sails were soon reefed in, lest the wind, with power aided by their resistance, should capsize the vessels. At the same time the port-holes were carefully closed to prevent the clashing in of the high waves.
And now the ships, with their sails bound close, went like birds whose wings have been clipped, trembling and quivering before the dark tempest.
At the threatening approach of the storm the children anxiously thronged together on the deck. Their courage and their enthusiasm were not equal to the terrors of the sea. Some fell on their knees and prayed; others entreated Stephen to call upon God for them. From how many eyes flowed tears of the bitterest regret over home and friends forsaken If a narrow strip of blue sky shone through some opening in the clouds, it seemed to those affrighted souls like the heavens above the safe but, alas! thoughtlessly-abandoned roof of homethat home which they should never more behold, though t their arms should be stretched toward it in the wild longing of despair.
Robert and Henry stood grasping each other by the hand.
" At least," exclaimed Robert, we can die together."
But Henry prayed softly,-
"Control this storm, Lord Jesus Christ; Thine is the power. Let us not perish until we have delivered Jerusalem from the hand of Thine enemies."
It was not long before the two friends, with their companions on the ship, were driven down into the hold. Stephen himself, who wanted to remain on deck in prayer, was forced to go below.
" Pray as much as you will," said Ferrens, with undisguised harshness, but do not stay here in the way of useful people. You must have a strong voice if God in heaven can hear you through such a storm as this."
A fearful night! No one can have an .idea of its horrors who has not experienced a storm at sea. The stoutest heart trembles when the sides of the vessel groan and seem to give way under the force of the waves; the weather-beaten cheek pales at the shrill howling of the blast that stirs up the sea to its very depths, so that the waves tower on high; and the impotent vessel now rides on
their summits, and now with fearful haste shoots down into their cavernous hollows. The smooth, flattering sea softly swelling at morning under the light breeze, the unruffled surface shimmering with a thousand diamond points under the sunlight, reflecting the azure above as though the light and beauty were all its own, now a tremendous abyss, dark, yawning, unfathomable, as though the fearful monsters that people the lower deep should open their gaping jaws to swallow up vessels and human beings in everlasting oblivion.
Starless- was the nightno light, no hope. The lightning that darted athwart the sky in every direction only for an instant lit up the wild chaos with fitful, unearthly brilliance, so that the dazzled eye might in the next moment be overwhelmed with darkness all the more impenetrable. The rain fell thick and fast from the sky, no longer a blue, sublime vault, but seemingly hanging low and flat above their heads. The incessant deluge mingled with, the foaming waves, and the
thunder with the roaring of the sea and the fearful raging of the tempest.
Unhappy ships, rudely tossed between sky and sea, sport of the unchained elements, below them a mighty, devouring tomb, above no ray of light, no heavenly blue of hope !
The boys, crowded together in the cabins, were thrown from one side to the other by the violent lurching of the ship. During this night they suffered the terror of death.
Dispirited, powerless, in constant dread of destruction, hearing its approach whenever the wind splintered a mast or -the waves caused the timbers to creak and shiver, every moment seemed the last, every new peril that passed by seemed only to prolong the agony of dissolution. The shouts of the sailors overhead, sounding like despairing cries for aid, gave them no comfort, but only made them more vividly and dreadfully realize the ever-threatening danger.
Hours passed in mortal terror cannot be reckoned by minutes. How endlessly long this night seemed! But morning must fol-
low the most frightful night; the darkness must at length yield to the light of day, the conflict of the elements be at length stilled. The storm dies away, and the sea grows calm.
Morning came. The sun broke through the clouds; the wind drove them from the horizon, dispersed them, and they melted away; again the heavenly vault shone in undimmed serenity. Gently-rolling waves bore the ships smoothly over the blue expanse of the sea. Brighter and warmer at every moment, the sun rose high in the heavens; but he looked down upon a sad scene in the little fleet. The pale, weary children were out. on the deck, where the sailors, dripping with water, almost entirely exhausted, still fulfilled their laborious tasks.
The grateful joy of deliverance, the happy consciousness of a new grant of life, gradually enlivened their hearts, but not for long.
Of seven Targe ships that had left the harbour of Marseilles, with swelling sails, and freighted, with high and glad hopes, only five, half dismantled, now rode toward their
goal. During that wild night two had been driven by the tempest upon a rock on the coast of the little island of San Pietro, near Sardinia. They went to pieces, and the sea swallowed all, sturdy seamen as well as frail children.
Thus prematurely ended this crusade for many, many beloved youths whose tender mothers at home vainly and hopelessly lamented their absence.
ON A HOSTILE SHORE.
" Land land ahead !"
The boys crowded in joyful excitement upon the deck. After several days and nights filled with sorrowful thoughts of their lost companions, with whom they might never share the holy conflict and the joy of victory, a line of coast now lay invitingly before their eyes.
" There is Palestine! there is Jerusalem,
where our Lord and Saviour lived and suffered the boys shouted.
Stephen fell upon his knees and raised his eyes devoutly toward heaven. Suddenly he sprang to his feet, exclaiming,
" What is the meaning of that ? "
The cross, the sign of the Christian faith, had disappeared, and in its stead the Turkish crescent floated from the mast.
" You are surprised, no doubt," said Ferrens, approaching Stephen. The flag is changed; danger compels us to hoist one that is hostile. You imagine that you behold Syria, but We are really nearing the Egyptian coast, and that city is Alexandria."
"And why are we here? Why do you not steer for the open sea, in the direction of our destination ?"
" Who can withstand the Almighty ?" returned the merchant. Such is His Will, and we must submit, You know how severely our ships were injured by that fearful storm. Our supply of provisions is consumed, nor have we sufficient water for a single day;
it is impossible for us to continue our journey toward Syria in such a condition."
" But here, of all places! Man, what can you mean ?"
" The danger," replied Ferrens, appears greater than it really is. In the first place, God the Lord, who has called His crusaders, will surely protect them from danger. As concerns myself, I am well known in Alexandria ; I have wealthy and influential friends there who will readily supply us with all that we need. There will be but a few days' delay, during which we can obtain provisions and attend to the repairing of the vessels. Merchantmen, as our ships are, protected by the flag we are now under, will awaken no suspicion. I will be responsible."
What could the young crusaders do ? They could scarcely help confiding in these men, who had undertaken so great an enterprise with disinterested devotion, merely for the love of Godmen, besides, whose ripe experience certainly qualified them to give the best counsel. There were' some, indeed,
who cried out earnestly that they would rather venture upon the high seas, rather endure hunger and thirst, than he hindered on their way to Jerusalem; but the majority silently acquiesced on hearing Ferrens swear by all that is sacred that there was but one alternativeland or death. So they drew near the enemy's coast, and the five ships lay at anchor in the harbour near Alexandria.
Except the sailors, all were ordered to remain below the deck : Ferrens and his companion went on shore. Late in the evening they came back in excellent spirits. Their confident bearing quieted the youths.
"We have found our friends prepared for all demands," they said triumphantly. Provisions, moneywe have only to ask for what we want. But first our vessels must be put in order; and for the short time necessary for that you must make up your minds to go on shore. We have made such arrangements that this can be done without the slightest danger. You will be carried to land to-night secretly in boats; the harbour-
guards are bribed. You could not be more safe on board the ships than for these few days on the extensive domains of our friends."
A few hours later a swarm of little skiffs came out to the fleet and conveyed the crusaders to land under cover of night. The procession was quietly arranged, and the host of boys, with some hundreds of older pilgrims, disposed themselves to follow their leaders. The bright moonlight showed them in the distance the beautiful, glimmering outlines of the city of Alexandria. Its peculiar architecture, and all the novel and foreign scenes around them, awakened the curiosity of the young crusaders; but with this curiosity was mingled a feeling of deep anxiety. The wanderer usually blesses the signs of human life, but, to them all was hostile upon the unknown soil they were treading, and that labyrinth of houses sheltered as many enemies as inhabitants.
Leaving Alexandria on one side, they approached some country residences with many large out-buildings- and gardens, the estates
which, the merchants had mentioned as those where the crusaders were to find shelter and repose for a few days. They found themselves expected, Slaves were in waiting to conduct them into gardens and courtyards surrounded by high walls, and spacious enough to accommodate the whole host*
When all had found places, they prepared to enjoy for the few hours that remained before daylight the sleep which they so much needed. A large number were in a courtyard, in the middle of which a. fountain was playing with a cool and pleasant sound. Here were found Stephen, Robert, Henry, and part of the older pilgrims who accompanied the crusade, The richly-adorned, tent which has before been spoken of was pitched for Stephen close by the fountain; the fifty halberdiers who had been his guards on the march through France took their places around -it. Near them lay the young friends Robert and Henry. After offering up their nightly prayer in silence, they stretched themselves upon the warm sand, using for pillows
a part of their outer clothing. Above them the starry, cloudless heavens stretched.
One who had seen the young crusaders in their night-encampment near Marseilles fresh, blooming, strong in hopewould now have observed a sad change if he had looked on the weary and enfeebled beings, in so short a time exhausted, and to some extent discouraged, by the horrors of their first sea-voyage.
" Good-night!" said Robert to his friend. God grant us a happy morning !"
"And soon a morning in Jerusalem," responded Henry.
Not even the dread of possible danger could keep any awake; overcome by fatigue, all were soon wrapped in that profound slumber which belongs only to youth. They slept; but the guardian angel of the father's home, whom a beautiful faith sees by the couch of the dutiful child, was not there to watch over them and to avert evil from them. The first command of God to children was forgotten by the many who had secretly left their parents, and thus abandoned the angel-guarded home.
And now a man who seemed to be asleep started up as if suddenly awakened ; he rubbed his eyes and carefully observed the-slumber of his companions. Then he rose, cautiously moving one limb after another. As quietly as a shadow he slipped along by the wall, and silently pushed back the bolt of a narrow gate. As he stole out the moonlight revealed his countenance. It was that of Ferrens.
Cautiously as the gate was opened, the movement awoke Robert,, and he sat up. He could, however, perceive nothing that appeared suspicious. Looking around upon the weary sleepers, so noiseless and motionless, a cold shudder came over him, as if he had been the only living being among so many corpses. He lay down again immediately, closed his eyes, and once more fell asleep. His dream was painful. Before him stood his mother; she stroked the hair back from his" brow and said,
"Thou hast not been kind to us, Robert. See how thy parents weep."
Robert would have excused himself, but in
his dream he could find no words, and the hot tears seemed to scald his cheeks.
" Now I can come to thee only in dreams," said his mother. 0 my child, shall we ever meet again ?"
Then a severe countenance looked down upon Robert ; it was his father's, and the boy could not meet his eyes,
"Awake, unhappy child!" said the father sternly; and with the dream-voice mingled a terrified cry of Treachery j treachery 1"
Robert awoke with that fearful sound ringing in his ears. In the dim light, of dawning day his eyes opened upon a scene of dread.
The whole space unoccupied by the sleepers was now filled with armed men, whose wild and warlike aspect alone seemed enough to overpower the boys. The Saracens first attacked the pilgrims who accompanied the crusade, and from whom, as men, they had most reason to expect resistance. These were speedily disarmed, and such as were still sleeping were bound before they could awaken. The young halberdiers lying around their
leader's tent awoke directly, and seeing the enemy around them, did their best to defend themselves and Stephen. The struggle quickly aroused all the remaining sleepers, bringing them to their feet as if a stream of fire had poured over their heads. The greater number -were seized by so terrible a panic that they scarcely knew what they were doing;- many threw themselves on their knees, pleading for their lives; while others called, weeping, upon their parents. Frightened out of their heavy sleep and unarmed, what resistance could they have made 1 Added to this, the alarm was increased by the piercing shouts of the Saracens, who fell upon their prey with the cry of Allah! Allah !" Similar noises from the surrounding gardens and courtyards indicated that the whole host were victims to the surprise.
Stephen in the midst of his guards saw the danger and felt how small was the hope of deliverance still he expected miraculous aid.
" My Saviour," he cried, my Lord and my God, if I am indeed Thy prophet, save,
save us from this peril! Send down Thy fire upon the heathen and destroy them !"
At this devout cry of anguish wrung from their leader's heart the boys were for a moment inspired with fresh courage. They heard the words of their saintly commander and raised expectant eyes toward heaven, looking for the flames to fall. But no lightning shot through the serene atmosphere. God was silent. He acknowledged not the youth who appealed to Him as His prophet.
" Lord, give us not into the hands of our foes," entreated Stephen.
A fierce onset was at that moment made upon him. The young guards, with a faithfulness worthy of a happier fate, strove to protect the shepherd-lad. The pitiless men overthrew the boys without mercy.
But scarcely had the first victims fallen in that barbarian slaughter when Stephen, with firmness and resolution far beyond his years, broke through the confusion, placed himself in front of his faithful companions, and cried with flashing eyes,
" Take meI am the one whom ye seek; but spare these others."
A heroic soul beamed in the youthful countenancea spirit formed for a higher and better destiny. Even the rough soldiers, struck by its expression, paused for a moment without laying hands upon him. But only for a moment could the boy's noble courage overawe their barbarous minds; then they fell upon him and bound his hands firmly with cords. The golden circlet which denoted his dignity as leader of the crusade was torn from his head and trodden under foot.
Stephen uttered no complaint, nor made any resistance, though the sharp and rough bands so painfully confined his limbs. But at the sight the other boys burst into weeping. For him all hope was over. If such a fate was his, what could his followers expect %
There was no further attempt at resistance ; the pilgrims, the only ones capable of wielding arms, had long ago been overpowered, and thus was the whole crusade at one blow delivered into the power of the Saracens..
" We must die," said Robert-. O my mother!"
Henry pressed his hand, saying,--
" Forgive forgive me But for me, you would not have been here."
" No," replied the boy ; it Was God's will, whatever may become of me now*"
At this moment appeared two men who were received by the Saracens with respectful salutations, and by the boys with half-uttered maledictions. They were PorcUs and Ferrens. Their eyes gloated upon the rich harvest of their treachery. They spoke with the leaders of the soldiery, giving further directions.
As they approached Stephen, whose lips were moving in silent prayer, he raised his eyes toward heaven, and cried,-^-
" Cursed for ever be ye, traitors In the name of God, a curse upon you and your children! A shameful death shall ye die in memory of this hour."
"Rash boy," said Porcus, "what should hinder us from striking off your head at once ? By Mohammed, guard your tongue "
" Call upon your lying Prophet, reprobate man!" exclaimed the boy but the hour will come when you shall call in vain, your treacherous tongue stammering his name in your dying agony."
" Thou blasphemest the Prophet," cried Porcus, and thou shalt die "
The threat had almost been fulfilled. A Saracen who was acquainted with the Frank-ish tongue at these words swung a sharp sabre above the head of the shepherd-lad, ready to slay the victim. But Ferrens caught his arm.
"Hold Will you rob me of my money"? Who will purchase dead slaves of us ? There are too many killed already. Let them kill him and quarter him after he is sold. He will learn soon enough to call on Mohammed."
" Thou liest, wretched man rejoined the boy angrily. I call only upon Jesus Christ, whom I will confess while I have breath."
Ferrens only said coolly,
" Lead them all out to the market-place. Allah has blessed our enterprise. We have slaves enough for some years-."
The unhappy captives -were now driven forth with barbarous, haste, those of mature years in advance, their hands bound, and the boys in gangs, deprived of what, few weapons they had, and even of most of their clothing. Thus ignominiously did that crusade take up its march, which but a few weeks before had called forth half of France to greet the deliverers and defenders of the holy sepulchre.
At the head went the unfortunate Stephen. Forsaken, abandoned to his enemies, he yet did not lose faith in his mission. In sign of mockery of him as the leader, the cross had been pressed into his fettered hands and a turban placed upon his head.
SLAVERY AND MARTYRDOM.
The crusade of children, together with the capture of the whole host, was speedily made known throughout Alexandria. Curiosity drew young and old to the slave-'
market, where so many thousands of Prankish youths were offered for sale, and with them some four hundred pilgrims, including about eighty priests. Just at this time several' Saracen princes were sojourning in Alexandria, so that there was no lack of purchasers.
The captives were arranged in ranks and guarded by armed Saracens. Scarcely had sufficient clothing been left to the unhappy, betrayed youths to protect them from the burning rays of the sun, to which they were so entirely unaccustomed. What tears had they shed for those their companions whom the sea had swallowed up Now they wept for themselves, the survivors, and envied the fate of the departed. Courage, hopeall was gone.
The treacherous men who had delivered them into the hands of the heathen walked about among them unmoved by their distress, examining their living booty with no thought save that of their own profit.
" If it had not been for that storm !" said Porcus. It is deplorable to think how many
we lost by it, and after such risk, such trouble
(08c) i. 5 -
and expense By my faith, when we count the cost and the loss of the vessels, our gains are not, after all, so great. We shall have to set a good price on the Christian hounds."
" They might easily have brought us as high as a common gallows," said Ferrens, laughing, if any one had chanced to recognize us."
" Hush A gallows The death that I dread most of all! "
" Or the people might have spared themselves any further trouble by killing us on the spot. It is all the same. But an experienced trader takes all that into consideration. His well-earned gains are all the sweeter. And let us not fret about the vessels; we are in the way of making such captures as this, and can do it over again. Look! there are our customers," the noble, wealthy emirs. Oh, see! there comes the caliph of Bagdad, and there the governor of Alexandria. He is a cursed buyer, who must have his slaves cheap. By Mohammed, they fine company! Allah send us a good day."
" Yes, the Prophet's blessing be upon us !"
The governor of Alexandria, the caliph of Bagdad, and ten or twelve Saracen princes approached. The merchants made low salaams.
" Are these the slaves ? Mere children You must sell them cheap."
" If two ships had not gone down with more than a thousand on board," said Ferrens. Great expense, and but little profit."
The pasha of Alexandria stepped close to the merchant and whispered,
" You remember, Hassan, that you promised me two thousand slaves for my assistance."
" Allah !" cried the trader, in alarm ; two thousand My exalted commander, it was but a thousand."
The pasha frowned and angrily stroked his long beard.
" You dare to maintain that to my face ? Take care what you say f' Ferrensor Hassan, as the Saracen called the renegadebowed and replied,
" Eye of the Prophet, pardon thy slave. It was but a thousand, my commander."
The eyes of the Saracen flashed with rage.
" Avaricious dog miserable slave With whom wilt thou chaffer? Wilt thou cheat me ? Two thousand have I said ? No; it was two thousand five hundred. Silence, or thou shalt have as many strokes as thou wouldst deny me slaves Do I administer justice here for nothing ? No matter how many I ask, I must have them. Have the two thousand five hundred counted off at once, and set them aside."
" To hear is to obey," sighed the trader, not daring to offer further resistance.
The young friends were still standing side by side.
" O merciful Father !" prayed Robert; suffer us not in our misery to be separated from each other."
Henry leaned heavily upon him.
" I shall not long have to endure slavery," he said. They will kill me, for I cannot labour. Oh, I am so weary All is growing dark around me. If I could but sleep My eyes will never behold Jerusalem that is on earth, but the heavenly Jerusalem will soon
shine upon me; this perishing body will be glorified. Do not weep so, dear Robert; be thankful that I die. And if God ever leads thee back to France, greet my parents, and beg them to forgive me."
Robert pressed his hand, sobbing; it was for the last time. The boys were dragged away from each other. Henry fell to the ground, and a pitiless slave-driver struck him angrily with his whip, saying,
" Stand up! This is no time for lying down."
Henry staggered to his feet, calling with failing voice,
" Robert! Robert! Do not forget! "
Robert pushed his way out of the crowd; no fear of abuse could stay him. He flew to his sinking friend, around whose lips played a happy smile. It was the last. The breath of life was passing from the frail body, and lingered- upon his lips in that happy look, as though they had been kissed by the angel of deliverance.
In a transport of grief Robert pressed the
form of his earliest friend to his heart. He felt not the roughness of the grasp that tore him away, for his sorrow had made him insensible to all else. Freedom might one day be regained, but the faithful heart that beat no more was lost to him for all time.
Stephen stood motionless; his eyes were not turned upon what was passing around him. Absorbed in his own thoughts, submissive to the will of God, he awaited calmly his fate.
" Here you see," said Ferrens mockingly to a dark-looking man who was beside him, "the shepherd-boy, the saintly leader of the army, who thought himself able with these children to obtain possession of the tomb of the crucified One."
The Saracen scanned the boy with piercing looks, which the youth fearlessly returned.
" I buy this one," said the emir; and going among the captives he chose seventeen others.
The men again approached the young shepherd, and the emir said to Ferrens,
" Tell him what I have said to youthat
he shall be the first to forswear his accursed faith and to acknowledge Mohammed; and if he does so, I will treat him as a son."
" Listen said the merchant, turning to the boy. Hear what happiness and honour are in store for you, pitiful young saint! Here is a distinguished emir, a successor of the Prophet; he has bought you as his slave, but will hold you as his son if you forswear the crucified One, and aloud, on this spot, call on Mohammed."
" What is it you propose to me ?" cried Stephen, aroused to anger. "Vile Judas, you have betrayed the Lord Himself in us His servants My Saviour is Jesus Christ, whom I confess aloud before all the world. Away with the lying Prophet! "
The emir caused the same proposition to be repeated to every one of the others whom he had selected, but the weak, captive children unanimously refused to deny Him in whose name they had been baptized.
Their unhappy leader still displayed the same faith and courage that had animated
him from the first moment of his supposed mission. He raised his voice in earnest injunctions to his companions not to deny their Redeemer.
" Let us not," he said, desert the Saviour who bought us with His own precious blood and by His death on the cross. My brothers, my friends, for the sake of your everlasting salvation, hear mehear me, and be strong. "What is every earthly good compared to eternal happiness in Jesus Christ our Lord and Redeemer ?"
Such words, spread rapidly from mouth to mouth, strengthened the resolves of all, and with wonderful power aided them firmly to endure the fearful events of that day.
" Thou seest, noble emir," said Ferrens, that this boy with his fanatical obstinacy seduces the rest. He must lead them by his example; he must be compelled to renounce his false faith. Do that, and I wager my head upon it thousands will imitate him."
" Repeat the proposal once more to them. Tell them that the Prophet is angry with
their unbelief, that he has given the sword into my hand to punish the rebellious. His countenance is fearful to the disobedient, but gentle toward believers."
" Foolish boys," cried Ferrens, hesitate no longer. The sword hangs over your heads, and fearful are the punishments of disobedience. There is but one God, and Mohammed is his Prophet."
But the answer came back from boyish voices with one accord,
" Praised be Jesus Christ for evermore."
Prom rank to rank re-echoed the cry, repeated again and again with joyful courage by those thousands of ill-fated children.
" It is easily to be seen that kindness is thrown away here," said Ferrens. They will not call on any other name or praise any but the crucified,One."
The countenance of the Mussulman, who up to this moment had awaited the result with apparent composure, now changed menacingly. Fanatic zeal glowed in his angry look.
" Allah I have tried the way of kindness, but these unbelievers are determined to feel the sword."
The emir turned to the governor.
" My brother, in the name of the Prophet I came hither to make believing Mussulmans of these Christian children, but it is in vain. My merciful persuasions are thrown away, and they adhere to the crucified One. Give me authority here and now, before the eyes of all, to punish the rebellious ones and terrify the rest by a warning example."
" My dear brother," returned the governor, willing to serve the powerful man, who had, moreover, the reputation of a holy person, command as seemeth good to thee. Let the unbelievers be run through with the sword, quartered, burned, if they will not turn to the Prophet. Allah! they are thy slaves; do as thou wilt with them. And if thou desirest besides any of these whom I have purchased, thou hast but to choose; they are thine."
The emir bowed, and beckoned to some
slaves to bring forward the instruments by which it was proposed to convert the Christian children to another religion. Trunks of small trees were placed crosswise, fastened in that position, and set upright in the ground before the eyes of the children. After this fearful preparation, the emir commanded that the shepherd-boy, with the seventeen others whom he had purchased, should be scourged. As the sharp thongs fell upon their naked backs, drawing streams of blood, and again and again with ingenious cruelty returned upon the same places, the boys who beheld the scene cried aloud with horror, weeping and covering their faces ; but the sufferers themselves endured in silence.'
The tormentors paused in their dreadful work, and Ferrens stepped in front of the boys.
" Have you as yet no better answer to give ? -The emir will still be gracious to you; he will receive you among his servants. You do not know how wealthy and kind he is, nor what comforts you may enjoy, such as
you have, never dreamed of in your miserable country. Fortune smiles upon you; here, in a hostile land, you may find a kind master and father-1-a second home. Is it your will foolishly to reject all this, and rather to endure all torments than to enjoy the favour of a powerful emir ? And what is required of you ? Nothing but that you cease to worship the Crucified, and acknowledge Mohammed as the true Prophet of Cod. Why, then, do you hesitate ? Your much-praised Saviour has not freed you from captivity, and will certainly not deliver you from death if you are stiff-necked any longer."
" Silence, thou renegade !'" replied Stephen ; thy fiendish tongue cannot seduce us. Our Lord and Master is Jesus Christ, and never the prophet of lies, Mohammed! If the Lord of the heavenly hosts leaves these our earthly bodies in your power, it is that through pain and shame they may be purified from all stains of sin. The death with which you threaten us is but the heavenly deliverer which shall send us to the presence.of our
Master and Saviour to enter upon eternal blessedness. Under the strokes of your scourges, yea, even upon the cross, will we ever cry, Praised be Jesus Christ!'"
Firmly and joyfully responded the other seventeen boys,
" Praised be Jesus Christ for evermore "
" Thou seest," said Stephen, we are of but one mind. Torture us, kill us; power is given to you over the body, but God will aid us to the end, that we may be worthy to stand in the ranks of His holy martyrs."
" Let them be nailed to the cross, my lord," said Ferrens to the emir, enraged at this constancy. Give them no reprieve. These children brave death ; they do not know what it is to be nailed hand and foot, to suffer torments, looking death in. the face for hours before it comes."
The emir cast a lingering look upon the bleeding- youths, who repressed with manly courage every sign of their suffering.
" I should like to save them," he said admiringly. "What men such children would
become, and that one above all! Tell him he shall be my son. I will make him rich and eminent; he, now a slave, shall have power over thousands of slaves. Allah what a destiny awaits the youth if he will but confess the true Prophet! Tell him all this for the last time. If they still withstand, then they must all suffer the death of the cross. I have sworn it."
Once more Ferrens approached the boys and offered them life, with enjoyments which he painted in alluring words. He repeated to Stephen the brilliant promises of the emir. But the boys remained steadfast. Stephen's reply, as he pointed toward the heavens, was,
" There I have a Father, mightier than any on earth, who will never forsake me if I forsake not Him."
The trader pointed to the wooden crosses erected in their sight, saying,-
" As true as I stand before you, if you refuse any longer, there are the crosses to which you will be nailed."
" So be it!" cried the shepherd-boy, with devout enthusiasm. "Did not our Lord suffer on the cross ? What else could we desire % Happy death, that leads us to the Saviour This is the victory he has promised us. I see the conqueror's crown, the white robes of saints and angels."
" Insane boy !" returned Ferrens. It shall be as you desire. You shall die the miserable death of the evil-doer."
"And for thee," Stephen continued, with prophetic ecstasy" for thee and thy associate, ye instruments of hell and companions of the traitor who sold his Lordfor you shall be no blessed death upon the cross; for you shall be an end like that of Judas. The hour shall come when the hangman shall fasten you to the gallows and your souls shall into torment."
The renegade turned pale. The shuddering fear of death that caused his body to tremble restrained the insulting words with which he would have answered the prediction ; the smile that he called to his lips was but a ghastly expression of his terror.
As the emir had threatened, it was done.
Could the sun shine down with cheerful light upon so dreadful a scene of martyrdom eighteen boys so pitilessly slain 1 But no cloud veiled the heavens, nor was the sun darkened above the horrible deed. Nature feels not sympathy: That tender emotion finds its home in human breasts, and it was a human being that condemned these eighteen children to a cruel death for adoring their Saviour.
Still, in the anguish of martyrdom, they called upon the holy name. With patient endurance they received the dreadful chastisement that had fallen upon them for the folly of their wild enterprise and the sin of their' disobedience.
But the fanatical Mussulman was disappointed in the effect he had intended to produce upon the remainder of the young crusaders; for the boys, as well as the older pilgrims, however horrified by what they had witnessed, yet refused to give up their faith.
The caliph of Bagdad, more merciful than
the others, prevented further cruelties. He had bought a large number of the ecclesiastics who were among the pilgrims.
Thus ended this crusade, which had robbed France of the flower of her youth, and caused her to large harvest of sorrow and of
tears. Begun in hope, it led to death and slavery. Many rested beneath the sea; the wonderful shepherd-lad ended his life on the cross; and the remainder of the host were scattered throughout Asia in the fetters of slavery. Not even the poor comfort of weeping over the graves of their beloved children was granted to the bereaved mothers.
Yet, sad as was the end of this crusade, desperate as to human hopes, still, in chains and in death, a rare victory was wonthe victory of Christian faith; and this not by men, but by weak children, who preferred a death of excruciating torture to life purchased by denying the Lord Jesus Christ. The story of their heroism must have kindled the hearts of Christians, when at last it became known, to new zeal and emulation in
the midst of their grief and lamentation over the untimely fate of the young martyrs.
In honour of those lost by shipwreck Pope Gregory the Ninth caused to be built on the isle of San Pietro, near Sardinia, a Church of the New Innocents." An old chronicle relates that at a later period some bodies of the unfortunate boys, which had been washed ashore, were shown to pilgrims in a perfect state of preservation.
A GERMAN EMPEROR AT JERUSALEM.
Seventeen years passed awaya brief dream for the happy, but for the sorrowing, for the enslaved, a long, long time. How much does the stream of time carry away in seventeen years! How often do the varying fortunes of war change the victor into the vanquished !
But at length the goal of so many pious longingsthe possession of the Holy City had been attained by the Christians. After
being held during forty-two years by the heathen, Jerusalem once more received a Christian ruler, in the person of the German emperor Frederick the Second, on the seventeenth of March 1229. Kameel, the Sultan of Egypt, had yielded the cities of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, and Nazareth, with all Palestine and Sidon, to the Christians, and assured them of peaceable possession by a truce of twelve years.
Again, then, were the sacred spots where the Redeemer had dwelt, with His holy sepulchre, in the possession of His professed followers. But who could have rejoiced at this with true and holy joy when he saw those venerable places profaned, the city of God debased to a theatre of partisan strife, the knights and the deliverers of the sepulchre engaged in mutual dissensions, secret and open; even the courageous king who had fought against -the heathen, whose bravery and that of his German followers had earned the re-Avard of the long strife, now under the ban of the pope ?
A PLOT AND A COUNTERPLOT.
In a garden at Alexandria two slaves were labouring. One of them was Robert; the other, Theobald, a German soldier who had been taken prisoner in a battle with the heathen. This German was several years older than Robert, and was a man of gigantic frame, broad shoulders, and powerful hands, far better skilled to wield the sword than to engage in the peaceful labours of the garden.
Robert, too, had become a man. The glowing Egyptian sun had embrowned his complexion, and made him, except for his European features, resemble in appearance the natives of the country; but a trustful heart beat in his bosom, strong in faith and in the love of home. However hard his lot
0 unhappy children was this a result worthy the sacrifice of so many lives, of so much love and all the joy of home ?
may have been, yet none of the privations and trials of seventeen years, nor yet any allurements of ease and comfort, had been able to lead him" to renounce his Christian profession.
Robert was a slave, subject to the will and caprice of his master, hopeless of ever seeing his home and his parents again; and yet a man who preserves the love and the truth of his childhood, with his faith in God his Redeemerhow can such a one ever be quite without happiness ? The source of his strength, of the courage and elevation of his soul, his master could never take away. Still he offered the blessed morning and evening prayers which his mother had taught him; still he sang the spiritual songs which had expressed the devotion of his heart in those early days. These were precious treasures of the memory of which no earthly power could rob him.
Robert had not been long in forming a strong attachment for his brave and true German companion. Sharing the same fate,
they strengthened each other's courage and endurance. Theobald told him much about the crusade of the German boysan enterprise no less unhappy in its results than that of the French youths ; of the distressing dissensions among the Christians in the Holy Land; of the heroic courage of the German emperor; of life at home in Germany; and of the manners and customs of beautiful, beloved Swabia.
Many a time, pausing in the midst of his labour, the German would exclaim, Now the evening-bell is ringing at home," or, Now my wife is giving the children their supper; then they will pray and remember me." Then he would pass his broad hand over his eyes as if the sunlight dazzled them, and then bend over the earth and work with redoubled diligence.
But Robert would respond in a low voice, with a loving look toward the sky that spread over his own fatherland, God protect them all!"
Often, also, Over their work they would
sing French or German hymns which they had taught to each other, and this made the weary burning hours pass more rapidly than otherwise they would have done.
Only, the overseer of the slaves must not hear them. He was a dark-browed, gloomy-tempered Mussulman, and had conceived a special hatred for the two friends, because they sometimes looked as cheerful and contented as if they had not been slaves whose very lives depended upon a mere gesture of their owner. He could not comprehend that in their hopeless captivity they were still" more free than the man who ruled over them, himself the sport of his own whims and passions and a thousand self-seeking wishes.
The two were still softly humming the words of a German hymn when the overseer came toward them swinging his whip, abusing and threatening the Christian hounds." Theobald looked him fearlessly in the face. The Saracen shook his whip, but without striking the German, and walked away with a
wrathful curse.. He was obliged to treat the slaves more humanely than before, since the sultan had shown a friendly disposition toward the Christians ; but he could not restrain himself from embittering their captivity as far as lay in his- power, or from robbing them of what little alleviation of its hardships they might have enjoyed.
Scarcely had he turned his back and gone beyond hearing when Isidor, a Greek slave who was working close by, approached the friends. Shaking his fist at the overseer, he muttered angrily,
" If only you were my slave "
" And what would you do ?" inquired Theobald. Would you treat your captive as he treats his 1"
" That oppressor," replied the Greek, deserves nothing better. But listen, now, for the moments are precious. You are men whom I trust; I have long observed you. Do you wish to be free ? "
At this question the friends trembled Yvith emotion.
" Why do you ask S" said Theobald. Look at us But these are only words. How can we be helped ? "
With a cunning smile the Greek made answer,
Words they are which may set you free. We. must escape. Confide in me; I know the country and the roads, and I will bring you safely to a Christian garrison. It is true that you, Theobald, are not very well acquainted with the language; but I am, and so is Robert, and that will suffice."
" Friend, you forget," said Theobald, that here we are surrounded by high walls and are watched. Besides, this slave's dress is hardly calculated for concealment."
" I know how to manage all that," rejoined Isidor. For some time I have observed that we have not been so closely watched as we used to be, and it will not be difficult for us to meet some night on the west side of this wallover there, where that gate, half covered by the acacia trees, leads into the olive grove."
" We know the gate; we have often worked there. But it is always guarded."
" That guard prevent our escape ? He spends too many nights in the wine-house," the Greek went on. I will procure the key to the gate; I will also provide Mussulman clothing for us all. Have no fears. If I were not so familiar with everything here that it will cost me but a little trouble, then indeed But be easy. Let us fix upon the night 'for our enterprise, and I will take care of the rest."
So the bold undertaking was decided upon a bold one indeed, even under the most favourable circumstances.
With feelings divided between fear and hope the friends awaited the appointed night. How slowly passed the time What an age from one day until the cry of the muezzin from the minaret announced the next! As often as they caught a glimpse of the overseer in the distance they thought that all had been discovered, but nothing suspicious encouraged the idea; he passed them more
quietly than usual, seeming scarcely to observe them. And so at length came the hour so longed forthe hour of freedom.
A beautiful, starry night saw the three allies together at the place which had been agreed upon.
" Hide yourselves here for a few minutes," said the Greek, until I bring the keys and the garments; I could not do it earlier, for fear of being observed. I will return directly."
He disappeared among the dark bushes, while the other two men stepped cautiously into the shade of the acacias.
" Suppose that man should have gone to betray us," said the German, in a restrained tone.
" Impossible !" returned Robert. A knavish trick like that! True, it was a still worse one that made me a slave."
" You do not know these Greeks; they are the most faithless nation on earth. If he were to give us up, it might secure his own freedom. And do you think he would not prefer the easier way to the more difficult and peril-
ous one % Yet no ; we will not fear or suspect him because he is a Greekthat is not his fault. Hold! there he comes. I have done him injustice." ; .
It was indeed their companion stealing along toward them laden with kaftans and turbans.
" Here said he triumphantly, I have all we need."
Each quickly took possession of the suit that fitted him best.
" But weapons ?" said Theobald. Where are weapons, in case Ave are obliged to defend ourselves ?"
Isidor struck his forehead.
" OhJ fool that I was to forget them Well, it is useless to lament. I have money, and we can soon provide ourselves."
The two friends now stood transformed as to appearance into Mussulmans. Only the Greek delayed, and stooped doAvn as if searching here and there upon the ground. Theobald urged him to make haste.
" I must have let the key fall here," said Isidor.
" What else can happen to us ?". .exclaimed Theobald. We will help you to look for it; a minute's delay may ruin us."
Isidor went back a little distance, placing himself in the open path, continuing his exertions, and every moment assuring them that the important key must be lying close at hand. All in vain.
At last the German said,
" Rather than linger here, we will climb the wall."
" We will have to venture," assented Robert, "high as the wall is. Growing on the other side there are climbing plants by which we can easily descend."
Isidor attempted to dissuade them.
"No danger yet. Wait! We shall certainly find it.".
At this moment a slight rustling was heard behind a large, dark clump of trees ; again the same sound, but louder.
" What is that \" asked Robert anxiously. Did you hear \ "
Before" any one could reply, the cause was
easily enough perceived. The overseer stepped out from the group of trees, followed by armed men, and by others carrying cords and fetters. Fearfully manifest to the friends was the web of treachery that had been spun around them. Thus had one man served his hatred, another his interest; for this end the prospect of sweet liberty had been held up before them to tempt them to flight.
" Bind the wretches instantly !" commanded the overseer.
But before the order could be obeyed, the powerful German had seized the Greek, who was about to slink away, with a grasp of iron, and thrown him with such force against the overseer that both fell to the ground. Robert snatched a sabre from the hand of a Saracen, willing to die with his friend. But God ordered it otherwise. Their resolute, fearless conduct might have cost more than one life; but while some of their assailants gave way before the extraordinary strength of Theobald, from behind others threw a noose over his head and Robert's, so that they were quickly
brought to the ground and their desperate resistance overcome by the force of superior numbers. They were bound, they were chained, for the rage of the overseer knew no limits.
". You cowards !" cried the German scornfully ; you fell upon us like wolves."
" Talk," replied the Saracen, as long as you have the power ; soon enough will you be silent as the grave."
They were cast into prison, and passed the night there in fetters. They slept not, but each confessing his sins prayed to God for pardon ; and they vowed together for no fear of death to deny their Saviour. Thus they prepared themselves for the end, which they had every reason to expect with certainty.
IN THE MARKET-PLACE OF ALEXANDRIA.
On the following day a public crier proclaimed to the people of Alexandria the punishment which th% two runaway slaves of the governor
were condemned to undergo. Each was sentenced to receive two hundred blows with a stick, having previously been scourged. How the populace thronged to see !
With firm and courageous mien the unfortunate men stood awaiting ignominy and death. Near them were the chief of the police and his underlings, the overseer, whose eyes sparkled with vindictive pleasure as he surveyed his victims, and Isidor, the Greek, carrying the long bamboo reeds. The latter was at once shy and audacious, with the conscious manner of a traitor. Some zealous Mussulmans were mocking and insulting the slaves because they were Christians.
The attendants of the chief of police prepared themselves to fulfil their office. The sharp scourges, made of cords twisted together, lay prepared to do their cruel work; already the light upper-garments of the captives had been taken off, leaving breast, neck, and back uncovered. Suspended about his neck Robert wore a plain, little wooden cross a memento of his childhood which he had
carefully preserved ; on the upper part of his arm was observed a large heart-shaped spot of a fiery red colour.
The scourges were raised.
" Hold, hold, in the name of the Prophet!" cried the voice of a man from amid the multitude. The minions of the law involuntarily paused.
A powerful man of noble and grave aspect pressed forward, closely followed by a boyish-looking youth.
" It is the wise Frankish physician," murmured some of the bystanders. That slender boy is his assistant."
" In the name of the Prophet," repeated the physician, stop Do not strike !"
" How ? What presumption is this, unbeliever V cried the overseer, with wrath. Do you dare to interrupt the course of justice ?"
" I entreat you, let me speak a word with you," said the Frank. Grant a reprieve of but one hour, and I will bring you a pardon."
" Not a moment's delay," shouted the Saracen. Away, insolent man !You there !
cut those slaves, that they may learn what. it is to have a master."
" Oh, they will strike cried the youth who attended the physician, clinging to his master as if he were under the influence of mortal fear.
The physician did not allow himself to be rebuffed by the threatening words and gestures of the Saracen; the agonizing cry of the boy seemed to call forth all his intrepidity. Instead of turning away, he went close to Robert, threw his arm. around him, covered him Avith his mantle, and said, loudly and impressively,
"Send for Muley Ismael; he will be my warrant. Strike now at your peril! "
This appeal to the eldest of the merchants a wealthy and influential man, who, as was well known, also stood very high in the regards of the governorwould have had no little weight on any other occasion. Now, however, angry passions had been so excited that no opposing consideration could be listened to.
The overseer's actions were those of a man crazy with rage.
" Hear him not! he yelled out. What does the Christian dog know of a man like Muley Ismael ? Drag him away Strike him down!Mussulmans, do not allow your law to be insulted Kill the unbelievers, all of them together!"
At length the seething, tumultuous crowd gave way, and became hushed at the appearance of a dignified, venerable old mam-
What a sudden change! The danger was over. It was immediately remembered that the Frank had appealed to the testimony of this highly-respected personage. He stood before them, and every one waited impatiently to see whether or not he would justify the bold words of the Christian.
The chief of the merchants saluted the crowd, all reverentially making way for him to pass. Full of astonishment, he approached the physician, whom the Saracens released from their hold.
" My dear friend," said the merchant, in what a position do I find you !"
" Praised be God that you are come !" re-
turned the Frank, drawing a deep breath. In this Christian slave, who was about to undergo the most terrible punishment for an attempt at flight, he is found! In vain I implored a delay, and gave your name as my warrant; you have seen what was the result. I entreat you, if you. believe that you owe me any thanks, save him, save him !"
" Are you certain that it is he ?"
" Unmistakably," the physician's assistant quickly answered; "it is entirely beyond doubt."
The physician himself, however, turned to Robert and asked him in the French tongue, What is your country ? France."
" Your native city ? Marseilles."
" Then you are the son of"
" The merchant Raymond. Seventeen years ago, having joined with other boys of France in a crusade to the Holy Land, we were betrayed and made captive here. But who are you % Why do you take so warm an interest