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Thi« is the first installment of "The Brethren," H. Rider Hag- - j
gard's latest work. Mr. Haggard needs no introduction. "She." j "Allan Quartermain," "Kins Solomon's Mines"' and a dozen other J eqnnlly absorbing romances have made his name a household word. j in the present novel the author- lias almost entirely* departed from ' the weird, Imaginative sensationalism of his earlier books and has ; devoted himself t<> the tools of the writer of the legitimate bistort- ; eaf novel. In "The Brethren" Mr. Haggard nas stamped himself as \ a master of the modern historical romance. Following "The Brethren" will appear "The Castaway." by Hal lie Ermlnie Rives, to be followed by Booth Tarklngtoil's "Monsieur Beaucairc." • Copyright. 1904. by McCluue. PhllUrs".*' Author's Note.' [Standing a while ago upon, the Bo«f-cW plain above Tiberius, by the -ot (AIUK . the writer gaied at' the doubl* ;;e*Us o* tfre Hill of Hattin. Here,- or so trartiti.m »ay.a._ Christ preached the sermon CB the mount— that perfect rule of gtmti'ene.-s an'l ■ peupc ■ Here, too—and this is certain-after n*» r) y twelve centuries had gone by, Yuau, mi* •d-din. whom we know a* the Suitan • Sa.adm. • crushed the Christian powtV.in perhaps the most terrible tattle which that land. of blood haa known, and the Mount ot the Beatitudes became the Mount of Massacre. It was while musing oh the*e .f.rangelj! con- ■ trasted scenes enacted In one place that there aroaa In hia mind a <s**tr< to weave, as i.en he might a tale wherein any who are drawn to the romance of that pregnant and ns.ystfT.ous. epoch when men by thousands . were. inaa to lav down their lives for visions and splnt.ua. ho'pea. could find a picture, however faint an broken of the long war between Cross an. Crescent waged among the. Rynan plains anil desert* Of Christian knights and ladies a.ao and their loves and sufferings la Eng.and and . the Eaat: of the fearful lord .'.of the Aasaseir.s whom the Franks called Old Man of- the ■ Mountain and his fortress city, Masyaf; of \he great-hearted. If at-'tWs cruel,• falad n and fata fierce Saracens; of the cout of Hattin itself, on whose rociy height the Holy Ho.'.a was act up as a standard and captured, .to be no mora by Christian eyes; and. amor.fr othef matter!, at the last surrender, whereby the Crusaders lost Jerusalem forever. • Of that deaire thla story ,is the fruit ] PROLOGUE. . A-V Commander of LJ th* Faithful, the King strong .to aid, Sovereign of ;the East, sat at. U night in his palace at Damascus and brooded on the Wonderful of God, by whom he had been lifted to his high estate. He. remem bered how., when he was but small in the eyes of men, Nour-eel-din, .King of Syria, forced him to accompany his up- . cle, Shirkuh, to Eeypt, wh'UUer.he went,. "like one driven to his death,"-and how, against his. own will, there .he arose to, greatness. He thought at his -fathfsr,. the .wise Ayoub, and the brethren with who h« was brought up, ail of them dead now save one; and,of his sisters, whom he had cherished. Most of all did he think of her, who had been stolen away by the knight whom she loved even to the loss of Iter own soul— yes by the English friend of bis youth, his fathers prisoner, : Sir . Andrew D'Arcy, who, led astray Toy passion, had done him'and his house this- griev ous wrong, fie had sworn, he .remem bered, that he would '.bring her back even from England, and already had planned to kill her husband .arid cap ture her when he learned her death. She had Jeft a child, or so .his spies told him, who, if she still lived, must, be a woman, now—his own niece, though half of noble English blood. • Then his mind wandered from this old half-forgotten story of the woe and blood in which his days- were set» and to the last great struggle between the followers of the prophets Jesus and Mohamet, that *Jibad for which he made ready—and he sighed. For he was a merciful man,, who loved not slaughter, although his fierce faith" drove him on from war to war. . Sa!ah-ed-dln slept and dreamed of peace. In his dream a maiden stood before him, and when she lifted her veil, he saw that she was beautiful, with features .like his own, but fairer, and knew her surely for the daughter t of his own sister who had fled with' the English knight. Now he wondered why she visited him thus, and lh his ' vision prayed Allah to make the mat \ ter clearer. Then suddenly he saw this , same woman standing before him on a Syrian plain, and on either side of her a countless host of Saracens' and Franks, of Whom thousands and tens of thousands were appointed to death. Lo! he, Salah-ed-din, charged -at the head of his squadrons, scimitar aloft,' but she held up- her .hand and stayed him- -ts» ."What do you* here, my niece?"- he: asked. "I am come to save the' lives of men through you,"" she .answered; "and therefore was I born of your blood, and therefore sent to you. Put up - your sword, King, and spare them.." ; "Say, maiden, what ransom do • you. bring to buy this multitude from doom? What ransom and what gift?" ; "The ransom of my own blood, free-, ly offered, and heaven's gift of peace to your sinful soul, O King." • Then with that outstretched hand she drew down Ms keen-edged scimitar and it rested upon her breast. Salah-ed-din awoke and marveled'on his dream, but said nothing of it to any man. The next night It returned •to him, and the memory of it went with him all'the day that foTlbwed, "but still he said nothing. When on the t" -d night he dreamed it yet again, even iriore vfvidly. then he was sure that this thing was from God, and summoned his holy Imauns and his. Diviners, and took counsel with them. These, after they had listened, prayed and consulted, spoke thus: "O Sultan, Allah has warned you in shadows that the woman, your* niece, who dwells far away in England, shall by her own nobleness and sacrifice, in some time to come, srttve you from shedding a sea of blood, and bring rest upon the land. We charge you, there fore, draw this lady to your court and keep her ever by your side, since if she escapes you, her peace goes with her." Salah-ed-din said that this interpre tation was wise and true, for thus also he had read his dream. Then he sum moned a certain false knight who bore the Crosg upon his breast, but in secret hafl accepted the Koran, a Frankish spy of bin, who came from that coun try where dwelt the maiden, his niece, and from him learned about her, her father and her home. With him and another spy who passed as a Christian palmer, by the aid of Prince Hassin, one of the greatest and most trusted of his Emirs, he made a cunning plan for the capture Qf the maiden If she would not come willingly, and for her bearing away to Syria. Moreover—that in the eyes of all men her dignity might be worthy of her high blood and (ate—by •Holy his decree he created her,: the niece . whom he hed never seen. Princess of Baalbec, .with great possessions—a rule that herffgrandfather, Ayoub, and her ' uncle, libieddin, >.bad held before her. Mso he purchased a stout galley of war, manning it with proved sailors and with chosen, men at arms, under the command of the Fringe Hassan, and wrote a letter to the English L,ord. Sir Andrew D'Arcy. and h j s. daughter, •a-nd prepared a royal gift of jewels, and sent, them to- the lady,, his niece, far away in England, and*with it the pat- of her rank. Her 'he .commanded this company to win .by peace, or force, ■ or-fraud, as best-'they might, but that without her not one.-of them- should dare to look upon his fa-ec again. And with these'he sent the. two Prankish ' spie.s, who 'knew the place where the lady.'lived, 'one qf- .whom; the false • knight, was a skilled mariner and the .captain o.f the-ship. .These things did Yusuf Saiah-ed-din, and. waited patiently till ■it should please' to accomplish the vision with which God had filled his soul in . sleep: CHAPTER I. '*' - * By .the Watevs of Deatii Creek. » From the seawall on the coast of Essex Rosamund looked out across the ocean eastward. - To right and left, but . a'little .behind her, like guards attend ing 'the person of their sovereign, stood her the twin brethren, God wih and Wulf r tall and shapely men. Godwin was still as a statue, his hahds folded over the hilt of the long scab barded sword, of which the point was . set on-the ground before him, but Wiilf, • his brother, moved restlessly, and' at length yawned aloud. They were beau tiful to look at, all three of them, as . they appeared in the splendor of their youth and health. The imperial Rosa '.mund, dark haired and eyed, ivory skinned and slender waisted, a posy of marsh' Mawers in her hand; the pale, • stately Godwin, with his dreaming face; and the bold-fronted warrior. Wulf, Saxon to his imger tips, notwith standing his father's Norman blood. At the-sound of that'unstifled yawn Rosamund turned her head with the .slaw, grace. -which . marked her every movement.' • ' • • , i'Would you sieep already, Wulf. and the sun-not.yet down?" she asked In her rich, low voice,,' which, perhaps be . cause, of its ■ foreign accent, seemed quite different" to that of -any other : woman. '..'•'.' "I think so, Rosamund," he answer ■ cd." "It would' serve to pass the time, and now that, you have finished gath' ; ering those yellow flowers which wv. rode so far to seek, the time—is some what lons." "Shame on you, Wulf," she said, •smiling. "Look upon yonder sea and sky, at that sheet of bloom all gold and . purple—" T have looked for hard .on. half an hour, cousin Rosamund; also at your back, and at .Godwin's left arm and side face; till in truth I thought my self kneeling in Stangate Priory star ing at my father's effigy upon his tomb, while Prior John pattered the mass. Why, If you stood' it on its feet, it is Godwin, the same crossed hands rest jng on the sword, the same cold, silent face staring at,the sky." "Godwin as Godwin will no doubt one day be, or sq he hopes—that., is, if •the saints give him grace to do such deeds as did our sire," Interrupted his brother. ; Wulf looked at him and a curious flash of inspiration shone in hia blue •yes- •'..'.' "No, I think" not," he answered: "the deeds you may do, and greater,: but surely you will lie wrapped not'in a .shirt of mail,, but with a monk's cowl :. at the last—unless a woman robjl you of it and the quickest road to heaven. Tell me now,- what are you thinking of, you two—for I have been wondering in my dull way, and am curious to leacn how far I, stand from truth? Rosa : mund, speak first. Nay, not all the . truth—a maid's thoughts are her "own, but just the cream of it, that which rises to the top and can be skimmed." -. sighed. "I? I was thinking of ' the East, where the sun shines ever and the seas are blue as my girdle stones, and men are fall of strange learning—' "And women are men's slaves!" In terrupted Wulf. "Still It Is natural that you should think of the East-who have that blood in 'your veins, and high blood, if all tales be true. Say, Prin cess"—and he bowed the "knee to her with an affectation of mockery wjiich could not hide his earnest reverence— "say, Princess, my cousin, grand daughter of Ayoub and niece of the mighty monarch, Yusuf Salah-ed-din. dd yOu wish to leave this pale land and visit your dominions in Egypt and in Syria?" . ' She listened, and at his words her eyes seemed to take fire, the stately form to erect itself, the breast to heave and the thin nostrils to grow wider as though, they scented some sweet, re membered perfume. Indeed, at that moment, standing there on the promon tory above the seas, Rosamund looked a very queen. . Presently she answered him with an other question. "And how would they greet me there, Wulf, who am a Norman d'Arcy and a Christian maid?" "The first they-would forgive you, since that blood is none so ill either! and for the second—why, faiths can be changed." . . " Then it was that Godwin spoke for the first time. • "Wulf." Wulf," he said sternly, "keep watch upon your tongue, for there are things that should not be said even as a silly Jest. See you, I love my cousin here better than aught else upon the earth—" "There, at least, we ; agree," broke in Wulf. ~ "Better than aught else on the earth." repeated Godwin: "but, by the • Holy Blood and by St. Peter, at whose shrine we stand, I would kill her by my own band before her Hps kissed the book of the false prophet." "Or any. of his followers," muttered Wulf to himself, but fortunately, per haps, too low for either of his com panions to hear. Aloud he said. "You understand, Rosamund, you must be careful, for Godwin ever keeps his word, and that would be but a poor end for so much birth and beauty and wis dom." "Oh, cease mockin.tr. Wulf," she an swered, laying her baud lightly on the tunic that hid his shirt of mall. "Cease mocking and pray St. Chad, the build er of this shrine, that no such dreadful choice may ever be forced upon you. or me, or your beloved brother—who, indeed, In such a case would do right to slay me." "Well, if It were," answered Wulf, and his fair face flushed as he spoke, "I trust that we should know how to meet It. After all. Is it so very hard to choose between death and duty?" '"I know not," she replied; "but oft times sacrifice seems easy when seen from far away; also, sometimes things may be lost that are more prized than life." "What things? Do you mean place or wealth, or—love?" "Tell me," said Rosamund, changing her tone, "what is that boat rowing round th*» river's mouth? A while ago it hung upon its oars as though those within it watched us." "Flsher-folk," answered Wulf care lessly. "I saw their nets." "Yes; but beneath them something gleamed bright, like swords." "Fish," said Wulf; "we are at peace in Essex." Although Rosamund did not look convinced, he went, on, "Now for Godwin's thoughts—what were they?" THE SAN FRANCISCO SUNDAY CALL", "Brother, If know, of the East also—the East and its holy wars." i "Which have brought us no great luck," answered Wulf, "seeing that our sire was slain in them and naught of i him came home again save his heart, ! which lies at Stangate yonder." ' "How better could he die," asked 1 Godwin, "than fighting for the Cross ' of Christ? Is not that death of his at Harenc told of to this day? By our Lady, I pray for one but half as glo- r ious!" '■ "Aye, he died well, he died well," said J Wulf, his blue eyes flashing and his ' hand creeping to his sword hilt. "But, • brother, there "is peace at Jerusalem, ; as in Essex." "Peace? Yes; but soon there will be war again. The monk Peter, he whom we saw at Stangate last Sunday, and who left Syria but six months gone— [ told me that it was coming fast. Even 1 now the Sultan Saladin, sitting at Da mascus, summons his hosts from far ■ and wide, while his priests preach bat i tie among the tribes and barons of the ' East. And when it comes, my brother, ' shall we not be there to share it, as were our grandfather, our father, out s uncle, and so many of our kin? Shall we rot here in this dull land, as by our ■ uncle's wish we have done these many ; years, yes, ever since we were home i from the Scottish war, and count the > kine and plow the fields like peasants, while our peers are charging on the pa gans, and the banners wave and the blood runs red upon the holy sands of ; Palestine?" Now it was Wulf's turn to take fire. > "By gar Lady in Heaven, and our ! lady here:"—and he looked at Rosa r mund, who was watching the pair of » them with her quiet thoughtful eyes— "go when you will,, brother, and I go with you, and as our birth was one birth, so, if it is decreed, let our death be one death." And suddenly the hand* that had been playing with the sword hilt grlrped it fast, and tore the long, lean blade from its scabbard and cast it high Into the air, flashing in the sun light, to catch it as it fell again, while in a voice tfcrat caused the wild fowl to rise in thunder from the Saltings be neath Wulf shouted the old war cry that had rung on so many a field—"A D'Arcy! a D'Arcy! Meet D'Arcy, meet Death!" Then he sheathed his sword again and added in a shamed voice, "Are we children that we fight where no foe is? Still, brother, may we find him soon!" Godwin smiled grimly, but answered nothing; only Rosamund said: "So, my cousins, yor would be away, perhaps to return no more, and that would part us. But"—and her voice broke somewhat—"such is the woman's lot, since men like you ever love the bare sword best of all, nor should I think well of you were it otherwise. Yet, cousins, I know not why"—and she shivered a little—"it comes into my heart that heaven often answers BUch prayers swiftly. Oh, Wuli, .our sword looked very red In the sunlight, but now; I Baw that it looked very red in the sunlight. lam afraid—of I know not what. Well, we must be going, for we have nine miles to ride, and the dark ia not so far away. But first* my cousins, come with me Into this holy place, and let us pray St. Peter and St. Chad to guaM us on our journey home." , s "Our journey?" said Wulf anxiously. "What is there for you to fear in a nine-mile ride along the shores of the Blackwater?" "I said our journey home, Wulf; and home is not in the hall at Steeple, but yonder," and she pointed to the quiet, brooding sky. "Well said," answered Godwin, "in this ancient place, whence so many have Journeyed home; all the Romans who are dead, when It was their for tress, and the Saxon who came after them, and others without count." Then they turned and entered the old church—one of the first thai ever was in Britain, rough-built of Roman stone by the very'hands of Chad, the Saxon saint, more than 500 years be fore their day. Here they knelt a while at the rude altar and prayed, each of them in hls< or her own fashion, then crossed themselves, and rose to seek their horses, which were tied in the shed hard by. Now there were two roads, or rather tracks, back to the Hall at Steeple one a mile or so inland, that ran through the village of Bradweil, and the other, the shorter way, along the edge of the Saltings to the narrow water known as Death Creek, at the head of which the traveler to Steeple must strike inlapd, leaving the Priory of Stangate on his right." It was this latter path they choose, since at low tide the going there is good for horses —which, even in the summer, that of the Inland track was not. Also they wished to be at home by supper time, lest the old knight. Sir Andrew D'Arcy. the father of Rosamund and the uncle of the orphan brethren, should grow anxious, and perhaps, come out to seek thbrn. For the half of an hour or more they rode along the edge' of the Saltings, for the most part in silence, that was broken only by the cry of curlew and the lap of the turning tide. No human being did they see, indeed, for this place feotjatd. was very desolate and unvlstted, save now and again by fishermen, At length. Just as the sun began to sink, they approached the shore of Death Creek— a sheet of udal water which ran a njile or more Inland, growing ever nar rower, but was here some 300 yards in breadth. They were well mounted, all three of them. Indeed, Koßamtind's horse, a great gray, her father's gift to her, was famous in that country-side for its swiftness and power, also be cause it was so docile that a child could ride it; while those of the brethren were heavy-built but well trained war steeds, taught to stand when they were left, and to charge when they were urged, without fear of shouting men or flashing steel. Now the ground lay thus. Some sev enty yards from the shore of the creek &nd parallel to it a tongue of land, covered with scrub and a few oaks, ran down Into the Saltings, its point end ing on their path, beyond which were a awamp and a broad river. Between this tongue and the shore of the creek the track wended its way to the up lands. It was an ancient track: indeed the reason of its existence was that here the Romans or some other long dead hands had built a narrow mole or quay of rough stone, forty or fifty yards in length, out into the water of the creek, doubtless to serve as a con venience for fisher boats, which could lie alongside of it even at low tide. This mole bad been much destroyed by cen turies of washing, so that the end of It lay below water, although the land ward part was still almost sound and level. doming over the little rise at the tip of me wooded tongue, the quick eyes of Wulf, who rode first—for here the path along the border of the swamp was so narrow that they must go In single file—caught Bight of a large empty boat moored to an iron ring Bet in the wall of the mole. "Your fishermen have landed, Rosa mund," he said, "and doubtless gone up to Bradwell." "That Is strange," she added* anx iously, "since here no fishermen ever come." And she checked her horse as though to turn. "Whether they come or not, certainly they have gone," said Godwin, craning forward to look about him; "so, as we have nothing to fear from an empty boat, let us push on." On they rode accordingly until they came to the root of the stone quay or pier, when a sound behind them caused them to look back> Then they saw a sight that gent the blood to their hearts, for there behind them, leaping down one by one on that narrow footway, were men armed with naked swords, six or eight of them, all of whom, they noted, had strips of linen pierced with eyelet holes tied beneath jh<?ir helms or leather caps, so as to cfneeal their faces. .1 "A snare! a snare!" cried Wulf, drawing his sword. "Swiftt follow me up the Bradwell path," he struck the spurs into his horse. It bounded forward, to be dragged next second with all the weight of his powerful arm almost to its haunches. "God's mer cy!" he cried, "there are more of them!" And more there wx-re, for an other band of men arm 41 t and linen hooded like the first, ha 4 h>aped down to trv»t Bradwell path, ait<ong them* a stout man, who seemed to. be unarmed, except for a long crooked knife at his girdle and a coat of ringed «uaU, which showed through the opening of his loose "To the boat," shouted Godwin, whereat the sto'it man laughed—a light, penetrating laugh, which even then all three of them heard and noted. Along the quay they rode, since there was nowhere else that they could go, with both paths, barred, and swamp and water on one. side of them, and a steep wooded bank upon the . other. When they reached It, they found why the man had laughed, for the boat was made fast with a strong chain that could not be cut; more, her sail -and oars were gone. "Get Into it," mocked a voice; "or, at least, let the lady get in; it will save us the trouble of carrying her there." Now Rosamund turned very pale, while the face of Wulf went red and white, and he gripped his sword-hilt. But Godwin, calm as ever, rode for ward a few paces, and said quietly: "Of your courtesy, say what you need of us. If it be money, we have none—nothing but our arms and horses, which I think may cost you dear." the man with the crooked knife advanced a little, accompanied by an other man, a tall, supple looking knave, into whose ear he whispered. "My master says," answered the tall man, "that you have with you that which is of more value than all the king's gold—a very fair lady, of whom some one has urgent need. Give her up now, and go your way with your arms and horses, for you are valiant men, whose blood we do not wish to shed." At this it was the turn of the breth ren to Jaugh, which both of them did together. "Give her up," answered Godwin, "and go our ways dishonored? Aye. with our breath, but not before. Wh° has then such urgent need of the Lady Rosamund?" * p Again there was whM#«ing between the pair. "My master says," was th«s answer, "he thinks that all who see l«r will have need for her. slace such loveli-i ness is rare. But if you wish n name, well, one comes into his mir t d. the name of the Knight Loselle!" "The Knight Lozelle!" mu-mured Rosamund, turning even paler than before, as well pli? might. For this Loxelle was a powerful man and Essex-born. He owned ships of whoa* doings upon the seas and in the East evil were told, and once had sought Rosamund's hand in marriage but being rejected, uttered threats for which Godwin, as the elder of tht twins, had fought and wounded him Then he vanished —none knew where "Is Sir Hugh Lozelle here-then?' asked Godwin, "masked like you com mon cowards? If so, I desire to meet him, to finish the work I began in the snow last Christma* twelvemonths." "Find that out if you can," an swered the tall man. But Wu.f said, speaking low between his clenched teeth: "Brother, I see but one chance. We must phve Rosamund between us and charge them." The caataln of the band seemed to read their thoughts, for again he whispered into the ear of his com panion, vho again called out: "My master says that If you try to charge you will be fools, since w« shall stab and hamstring your horse? yhich are too good to waste, and tak J you quite easily as you fall. Com* 1 then, yield as you can do withoi shame, seeing that there is no esoap*" and that two men, however brave, cannot stand against a crowd. Hf gives you one minute to surrender." Now Rosamund spoke for the first time. "My cousins," she said. "I pray you not to let me fall living into the hands ©f Sir Hugh Lozelle or of yonder men.