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BLOSS C.A. Heroines of the Crusades

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BLOSS C.A.
Heroines of the Crusades
page 295



" Relate to me this circumstance," cried Elsiebede, eagerly. " As I knelt at high mass," resumed the priest, " a noble lady, closely veiled, bowed at the altar by my side. "When the solemn ceremony was over, and she rose to depart, an attendant whispered me to follow. She led the way to her oratory in the palace of the king, where she showed me that she was the widow of my deceased lord, Richard Cœur de Lion." " My dear lady Berengaria," exclaimed Elsiebede, the tears falling from her eyes like rain. "It was, indeed, that honored queen," said the pilgrim; "who learning that I had loved and served the noblest prince in Christendom, sent for me to confess the follies of her past life, and to entreat me to perform for her in Pales-tine certain vows which she had made during the long and painful imprisonment of her royal husband. It was her purpose to expiate her own sins by a life of voluntary penitence and devotion in the convent of L' Espan : but before retiring from the world, she desired to make one more effort for the people of God in the Holy Land. She made me acquainted, therefore, most noble lady, with thy former estate in her household, and how God had exalted thee to be the spouse of a prince and ruler, as he did afore-time the royal Esther, who came to be Queen of Persia. She bade me remind thee of the kindness that had been shown thee, when thou wert a stranger in a strange land, and she commendeth her love to thee by this precious jewel, that thou mayest look upon it, and show mercy to those who are ready to perish for the faith of our holy church." "With a pious precision that mocked the impa-tience of Elsiebede, he drew from his scrip a small reliquary which he slowly unclasped, and taking thence the magic ring, around which clustered so many associations, pre-sented it to the sultana. Salaman, who had lost not a motion nor a word of the pilgrim, at sight of the ring, for-got the respectful observance that had been enforced since his residence at the eastern court, pressed forward and VIOLANTE. 309


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