Our Little Crusader Cousin of Long Ago - Evaleen Stein

Hugh Tells of the Voyage

The next morning Hugh did a number of errands for King Richard, and then the latter, who was fond of the lad, told him he might run along and look around a bit with his friend Raymond. Hugh at once hurried over toward the French camp, and though Raymond had told him in what direction to look for Count William's tent, he was quite uncertain of finding it among so many thousands. But luckily he had not gone far when he spied Raymond holding the bridle of a war-horse his master was mounting. He was going with a company of French knights to see if they could find some Saracens thought to be hiding in the hills and trying to bring food to the besieged city.

As soon as Count William rode off the tow pages ran down to the shore to watch the rest of the ships being unloaded. These were of many kinds and sizes: as no one then had dreamed of steamboats, and all had sails, and long rows of oars, too. The smaller ones were called galleys and the larger "busses" and dromonds;" these last usually had one deck and a few cabins below, and carried about two hundred men, including fifty knights and their horses, and provisions for a year. At each end was built up a platform where trumpeters could sit, or, more important when the ship was in a fight, where archers could be stationed: for gunpowder was not yet invented. Also, at the top of the mast was a little cage-like place to which archers could climb by means of a rope ladder. These ships were thought very large and fine in those days, though to us they would look very small and queer.

As the two boys watched, "Look!" said Raymond, "that must be King Richard's horse they are taking off the Trenchmer. See how careful they are with him and how proudly he steps along. But, Hugh," he added, as he eyed the horse more critically, "that's not the one he had in Sicily; that was a black one from Spain, I remember."

"Yes," said Hugh, "it was, but he likes this one better; he got him in the island of Cyprus on the way here, and his name is Favelle. Isn't he handsome? And they say the jewels on his harness and trappings are worth a fortune, and besides these the stirrups and all the trimmings of the saddle are pure gold and on his crupper are two little golden lions pawing each other! And there come more of the knights' horses, all with their armor!" For war-horses, then were protected by armor, the same as their masters.

"And they will find it mighty hot and uncomfortable in this country!" said Raymond. "I've seen the horses and knights, too, just panting after they have been fighting a while. I guess the Saracens know better how to do in a climate like this. They ride the fastest kind of Arabian horses and carry just light shields, and they seem to depend more on shooting their arrows and then getting out of the way quickly. Of course in hand-to-hand fighting our crusaders can smash harder with their battle-axes and things."

"I see the armies here have a good many fighting machines," said Hugh, ‘but I believe King Richard has brought some better ones. There are some of them now coming off yonder galleys," and he pointed to the hughe wooden structures being set up on the beach; some were for pounding through city walls, and were called"battering-rams" because of the ram's head of copper fastened on the end of the great beam of wood which did the pounding and which was hung by ropes to a strong framework. There were other ropes fastened to the beam and it sometimes took hundreds of men to pull it back and forth. Other of the machines were called catapults, petraries and mangonels and were made to shoot arrows or hurl stones a great distance.

As the boys eyed these machines, "You know," went on Hugh, "they are the ones King Richard had built in Sicily last winter because he thought wood wwas scarce over here. He even brought stones for the catapults. Do you see that pile there on the beach?" "Yes," answered Raymond, "it was a good thing he got them ready in Sicily. Wood and stones are scarce here. And just a few days ago our French army was attacking the city walls and the Saracens poured down some Greek fire and burned up two of King Philip's biggest machines. That Greek fire is horrible! A lot of soldiers have been burned to death by its getting under their armor, and water won't put it out. I never say anything like it before."

"I saw some of it on the way here, when King Richard fought the Saracen ship," said Hugh.

"What all did King Richard do on the way?" asked Raymond. "We didn't stop anywhere or have any adventures!" he added regretfully.

"Well," said Hugh, "things generally are moving when King Richard is around. Didn't we have a fine exciting winter in Sicily when he was fighting King Tancred there?"

"Yes, indeed!" answered Raymond, his eyes sparkling. "I never did know, though, what the quarrel was about; you know King Philip kept out of it."

"There was reason enough to fight," said Hugh. "It seems the husband of Queen Joan, King Richard's sister, used to be king of Sicily, and when he died a while ago Tancred got himself made king and shut up Queen Joan and took away all her money. He earned the good beating he got!"

"Did they make up afterward?" asked Raymond. "You know about that time we sailed for here with King Philip."

"Yes," said Hugh, "they gave each other presents, and then King Richard invited everybody to a big feast in honor of his betrothal to Princess Berengaria. His mother, Queen Eleanor, had brought her from Navarre, somewhere near Spain, where her father is king. King Richard couldn't go after her himself, because he had started on the crusade, but he wanted to get married and take her along."

"But I thought you said yesterday they were married in Cyprus," said Raymond, looking rather bewildered.

"So they were," answered Hugh, "for when the princess got to Sicily,—it was just after you left,—it was Lent, you know, and it's against the church rules to have grand weddings then. So they thought, as Lent would soon be over, they would stop at Rhodes, one of the islands on the way, and get married there. King Richard had that handsome ship over there fitted up for the ladies, for Queen Joan decided to come, too, and he sent along some of our best knights to guard them. You just ought to have seen us start away from Sicily. I believe everybody there was out to see us off! It was a fine bright day, and we had flags flying and music playing and everything lively. When it got dark they lighted the big red lantern on the mast of the Trenchmer—see it over there?—so the others could follow our ship. But in a little where there was a terrible storm came up."

"Were you scared?" asked Raymond.

"Yes, " admitted Hugh, after a moment's hesitation," I was. The storm lasted two days and I thought surely we should all upset and be drowned! Several of the ships were wrecked and blown to pieces, a lot of them ran up on little islands, and the third day we managed to put into the harbor at Rhodes. The Trenchmer  was pretty badly battered up, but when King Richard looked around and saw the ladies' ship wasn't there he wouldn't stay, but gave orders to sail right on for Cyprus, which was the next big island. He thought maybe he would find the princess there. The next day we sighted Cyprus, and there was the ladies' ship standing off outside the harbor of a town."

"Why were they outside  the harbor? " asked Raymond.

"That was what King Richard wanted to know," replied Hugh. "So he sent two sailors and one of our knights in the Trenchmer's  little life-boat to see what was the matter: and the captain of the ladies' ship told them that two others of our galleys had been wrecked on the coast and when the men tried to swim ashore the Cyprus people beat them off so they could get all the valuable things that floated. They acted so mean that the captain didn't dare land with the ladies. When our folks came back and told King Richard that, he was simply furious!"

"What did he do?" inquired Raymond, who was listening with interest.

"Do?" eachoed Hugh, "why, the wind wasn't toward the harbor so we could sail in, but he ordered the rowers to get the Trenchmer  there as fast as they could. Then we all hurried ashore and King Richard sent for the king of Cyprus, whose name was Issac. When Isaac showed fight and wouldn't apologize for the outrageous way his people acted about the wreck, King Richard just grabbed his big battle-ax—you know how enormous it is—and waving it in the air, he rushed toward the town to attack it. All our knights went after him, and a good many from some other ships that had come up, and before long King Richard had taken the town. And right away he signalled for the ladies' ship to come on, and he took Princess Berengaria and Queen Joan and their maids of honor and put them in Isaac's best palace. Then he took another fine palace for himself, and all the knights had very grand houses to stay in."

"What became of Isaac?" put in Raymond. "At first he promised everything King Richard wanted," replied Hugh, "but when King Richard found he was all the while plotting behind his back, he made him prisoner. Isaac cried and made such a fuss about being chained up that King Richard said his chains should be silver because he had been a king. He looked pretty scornful, though, when he said it, and put a good strong fuard over him, so I guess Isaac will never get Cyprus back again."

"How long did you stay there?" asked Raymond.

"A whole month," answered Hugh, "and then came the wedding. It was the grandest affair! King Richard looked magnificent' he had on a bright rose-colored satin tunic and a mantle of striped silver tissue all embroidered with jewels, and his belt and sword were sparkling with more jewels, and on his head was a kind of cap of red velvet brocaded with gold lions, and he carried a gold scepter in his hand. The Princess Berengaria looked like a fairy beside him,—you saw how little she is. She wore a wonderful white dress, with lots of gold and diamonds," he added vaguely, for he could remember Richard's costume better than his bride's. "And then," he went on. "I helped carry in the dishes at the feast afterward, and I was worn out when it was over. I never saw so many fine things to eat in all my life, and everything was served on gold and silver platters, for we used all Isaac's best things and he was very rich. Right away after the feast we loaded up the ships again and started for here."

"When was it you fought the Saracen ship?" was Raymond's next question.

"Why that was two days after we left Cyprus," replied Hugh. "It was the biggest ship I ever saw. King Richard thought it must have held nearly fifteen hundred men!"

"Whew!" exclaimed Raymond, with round eyes. "I didn't know ships could  be so big!"

"Neither did I," said Hugh, "but it was. It seems it was carrying food and money for Acre here; I suppose they thought they could sneak it into the city some way. The ship was so big that King Richard knew the Trenchmer  couldn't fight it alone, so he ordered six more of our fleet to line up in a row and they all started to ram the Saracen one. It was then the Saracens began throwing Greek fire on ours. They threw vases full of it,—it's a kind of liquid, you know,—and when the vases smashed, it caught fire in the air, and it got on some of the sailors and burned them to death!"

"Did the rams make a hole in the ship?" asked Raymond.

"Yes," said Hugh, "and when the Saracens saw that, they began to chop more holes as fast as they could, for they wanted the ship to sink before our men could climb on it. I guess they thought they would rather drown than fall into the hands of our crusaders, and then, too, they didn't want us to get all the food and treasure they had on board. But King Richard and the rest hurried and climbed on it and got most of the things off and put on our ships. The Saracens fought like everything, but unless they could swim somewhere I don't think many were alive when our fighters got through with them. Some of our men were killed but most got back all right to our ships, and then we sailed on for Palestine. When King Richard first caught sight of the coast he said two words I couldn't understand,—one of the knights said they were Latin and meant ‘Holy Land'—and then he never took his eyes off it, but just stood watching it in a kind of dream till we landed."

"Well," said Raymond, drawing a long breath, "of course our trip here was all very starange and new to me but it was nothing like so exciting as yours!"

But by this time the boys knew they had better be going back to their masters, so they parted for the day.