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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 249



of his rank, and Richard surprised and not ill-pleased by this mark of friendly familiarity, received him with the frank cordiality characteristic of his nature. The face of the noble Kurd wore a seriousness that seemed the result of thought rather than the habitual gravity of his nation and religion, and Richard, with instinctive delicacy, dismissed the minstrel, and waited in silent wonder for the commu-nication of his honored guest. But what was his surprise when the gifted Saracen, instead of employing the common Lingua Franca, addressed him easily and fluently in the liquid Provençal. " The Melech Ric," said he, " wonders to hear his mother-tongue in a foreign land, but not stran-ger to thee than to me are my words. Forty and three times nave the constellations described their circles in the heav-ens since my lip assayed this language ; but thy presence has been to my heart like the beams of the rising sun that causes the statue of Memnon to speak." Astonishment prevented reply ; but every feature of Cœur de Lion evinced the intensest curiosity. " Know then," said Saladin, answering the mute interrogation, " that as the warmth of our Eastern clime flushes the grape with a deeper hue than the temperate north, so it earlier awakens and strengthens the passions in the human breast. Hence was it that though but a youth I saw and loved a beautiful daughter of Frangistan. Her eyes—God said to them, Be—and they were, affecting my heart with the po-tency of wine. Her voice—it made me forget the spirits that stand about the throne of Allah (blessed be his name), and had not the Prophet ordained that she should suddenly be torn from me, I might have become a convert to the faith of the Nazarene." " "Would to heaven thou hadst !" ejacnlated Richard, " for Godfrey of Boulogne could not more worthily fill the throne of Jerusalem." Without appearing to note the enthusiasm of Richard, the Saracen slowly unfastened the scarf that bound his caf-tan, and exhibited the embroidered cross of Aquitaine. - "Thou art a Christian in thy secret heart," said Richard, 260 HEROINES OF THE CRUSADES.


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