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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 143



clumsy efforts at merriment. Eleanor, who delighted in scenic amusements, on one occasion instructed the master of ceremonies to dramatize the miraculous trials of St. Dunstan. So many characters were necessary for this important play, that new recruits of abbots, clerks and scholars were imported from the neighboring priory, and the queen's dames d'hon-neur were enlisted in the choir, and faithfully drilled in the chanting of most unearthly melodies. The usual services in the chapel were for several days omitted. The carpenters displaced the priests, and instead of the sound of matins and vespers, the walls echoed with the noise of workmen's hammers, preparing a false floor for the mimic purgatory. The trees of the park were robbed of their leafy honors, to fit up a forest over the high altar, which by the removal of a panel, and the addition of dry leaves, pebbles and mosses, answered very well for the hermit's cave. The eventful night arrived, and expectation, so long on tiptoe, quietly settled itself upon the temporary benches to enjoy the intellectual treat, while an imaginary moon broad as the shield of their Saxon fathers, reflected the light of a supposed invisible torch placed behind a window shutter. Owing to the imperfection of the machinery there was some difficulty in raising the curtain, but the queen was privately informed that the creaking was not intended as part of the play. The learned and gifted Provençal must be pardoned if she exchanged some sly criticisms and satirical smiles, with the witty Peyrol, at the expense of the well-meaning performers. The scene opened disclosing a barren heath, in the centre of which was a mound of rubbish, strewed with grass and sur-mounted with a huge stone, which had been transplanted with much care and labor, from an adjacent cromlech. _ By its side stood a youth, who bashfully hanging his head and awkward-ly twirling a wand, thus unfolded the plan of the drama :— Here you see this hill and stone, For that you may know anon. The story of the blest St. Duustan : For dun is hill, and stone is stane, That is what this here shall mean. 152 HEROINES OP THE CRUSADES.


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