Our Little Crusader Cousin of Long Ago - Evaleen Stein

The Return Home

The Sultan was so mortified over his defeat at Jaffa that he shut himself up in his tent for three days and would see no one. When he recovered enough to talk to people again, Richard proposed a truce. He had tried to make a truce before, for he hated to go back to his kingdom unless he could leave the Christians in the Holy Land at peace, at least until he could start another crusade and come back again.

But Saladin had been unwilling to agree to Richard’s terms. Now, however, subdued by the battle of Jaffa, he finally made the truce. For three years, three months, three weeks and three days (and three hours, three minutes and three seconds? Very likely, though history writers have forgotten to mention it) the Saracens were to let the cities alone which the crusaders had taken and where the garrisons were to stay, and pilgrims were to visit Jerusalem and the Holy Sepulchre without being molested. There were many other terms to the truce, but never mind them here.

When at last all was arranged, Richard was once more ready to start for home, which he was anxious to reach as soon as possible, for the news from there was all the while worse and worse. He gave up his plan of attacking Beirut on the way, and also changed his mind about sailing on the Trenchmer with the little fleet of ships, for his enemies could then keep track of his movements and perhaps lay traps for him. He decided instead to go back by land and in disguise, so he could reach home quietly and then make his plans as seemed best. Of course Hugh went with Him? No; to the great sorrow of the boy and the regret of Richard himself, he could not take him. Why not? Well, that was because, as he was going disguised and did not wish more than one page attending him, the thought it better to take a boy who could speak German, as he would have to pass through Austria and Germany and did not know their language himself. Now one of the knights who had not yet sailed away happened to have such a page, so it was he who went with the king; the latter, however, when he parted from Hugh, praised him warmly for the faithful service he had given, and especially for that night in the tent when the lad’s watchfulness had saved his life. Then he gave him a wonderful jewel for his cap and a beautiful clasp for his cloak, and told him that when he returned to England he hoped, if possible, to take him again into his service.

[Illustration] from Our Little Crusader Cousin by Evaleen Stein


Alas, Richard little guessed how long it would be before he reached his kingdom again! I have not time here to tell you of his thrilling adventures on the way home; of how, while passing through Austria, he was made prisoner by the spiteful Duke Leopold, who for two whole years kept him captive in a castle dungeon; nor of his romantic release through the singing of a song. But by and by you will read all this elsewhere, and when you have begun the story, I am sure you will find it so fascinating you will not stop till you have finished.

As for the two pages, after a safe voyage to the city of Marseilles, on the southern coast of France, they were obliged to part, though with many heartaches, for they cared greatly for each other. Raymond returned with Count William, and Hugh went with a company of English knights through King Richard’s French possessions and thence to England; and both lads took up the life they had left more than a year before. When they were old enough, Raymond received knighthood at the hands of his master; while to Hugh’s great joy, it was his good fortune to kneel before King Richard, who striking his shoulder lightly with his sword, pronounced the words, “In the name of God and St. Michael and St.George I dub thee knight!” Hugh’s own sword, a fine Damascus blade with beautiful jeweled hilt and scabbard inlaid with gold and silver, was a gift from the king, as were also his handsome spurs. But the newmade knight was destined never again to follow his master to the Holy Land, as he had hoped. In the seven years since his return to England Richard had found such difficult affairs of his own to attend to that he had been unable to start another crusade as he had wished, and his death in France a year later forever put an end to his dreams.

What good did the crusades do? Well, that is a rather hard question to answer. You know I told you there were seven in all, the one of our story being the third; yet, though none after the first succeeded in conquering Jerusalem, they did much for the world in other ways. The people of Europe and of Asia came to know each other better, and each learned many, many things from the other. And while it may seem strange to us that for hundreds of years so many men should flock so far, fight so bitterly and suffer so much for the sake of an empty tomb, even though the tomb of our Saviour, nevertheless, to them it was an ideal full of holiness and reverence. And no one can fight for a high ideal and be willing to lay down his life for it without being the better because of it. It is perhaps true that many took the cross more from a wish to win fame as soldiers than to save the Sepulchre; indeed, it is said by some that Richard himself did so. But we must remember that at the time of the crusades people cared much more for fighting for its own sake than we do today; and after all, it was but natural that the brave knights, and common soldiers, too, should want to gain glory, and no one has a right to say that they ever forgot the sacred cause for which they had come.

Hugh and Raymond, I am sure never forgot their year in Palestine though they served there only as pages. And if they met in after-life, as I dare say they did, they must have talked it over many times; and I am sure, too, that the memory of much they had seen there must have been an inspiration to them as long as they lived. For with all their quarrels and failures, the men of the third crusade and their lion-hearted leader left a lasting record of gallant and heroic deeds.