The only thing necessary for evil to triumph is for good men to do nothing. — Edmund Burke

Ivanhoe Told to the Children - Ethel Lindsay




The Castle Burns

During the interval of quiet which followed the first success of the besiegers, the Templar and de Bracy held brief council in the hall of the castle.

"Where is Front-de-Boeuf?" said the latter. "Men say he is slain."

"He lives," said the Templar coolly; "but however he had been armed, he must have gone down to yonder fatal axe and he cannot live."

"How think you, Sir Brian? had we better not make terms and give up the prisoners?" said de Bracy.

"For shame!" said the Templar. "Give up our prisoners to a troop of outlaws and make ourselves objects of ridicule? The ruins of this castle shall bury me first."

"Let us to the walls then," said de Bracy. "No man, Turk or Templar, ever feared death less than I do."

Meanwhile the lord of the castle lay upon a bed of bodily pain and mental agony. As he saw life departing, all his crimes crowded back on his mind, and he had newly awakened feelings of horror, and his heart was appalled as he now faced death. And as he lay, unable to move, a thick vapour filled the room.

"By heaven," he gasped as he felt himself suffocating, "the castle is on fire!" In the extremity of his agony he shouted for his attendants. "Clement! Giles! I burn here unaided. To the rescue!—Bois-Guilbert to the rescue! It is Front-de-Boeuf calling you, brother-in-arms. Do you abandon me to perish? They hear me not—they cannot hear me—my voice is lost in the din of battle. The fire is now burning the floor below," and in the mad frenzy of despair, the wretch shouted with the shouts of the fighters. And now the red fire flashes through the smoke. But it is impossible further to relate his last dying words.

Outside the castle the besiegers were preparing to renew the attack on the castle itself. The Black Knight had caused a raft to be built, and this was thrown out across the moat towards the castle wall. Well aware of the necessity of taking the foe by surprise, he dashed across the slippery bridge, closely followed by Cedric, and reached the opposite side. Here he began to thunder with his axe upon the gate of the castle, protected partly from the shot and stones which the defenders hurled down by the ruins of the former drawbridge. The followers of the knight had no such shelter, and two were shot down, while the others retreated. The situation of Cedric and the Black Knight was now truly dangerous.

"Shame on ye!" cried de Bracy, "to let two dogs keep their station under the walls. Get lever and pick-axes, and hurl down yonder stone carving on them."

"St. George!" cried Locksley, "leave you those two brave men alone? Make in, and the castle is ours." With this he bent his bow and shot an arrow through the breast of one of the men who was working under de Bracy's directions. He shot an arrow into a second also. And now the men on the wall were afraid to endanger themselves to loosen the heavy stonework.

"Give me the lever, cowards!" said de Bracy, and he worked at the stone.

Thrice did Locksley send an arrow at de Bracy, and each time they bounded off his armour. The stone seemed now about to fall, and already tottered, when the Templar ran to de Bracy.

"All is lost, de Bracy!" he cried. "The castle burns."

"Thou art mad to say so!" said de Bracy.

"It is all in flames on the western side. I have striven in vain to extinguish it. Lead thy men down as if to sally out," he went on coolly. "Throw open the postern gate; there are but two men there—fling them into the moat. I will charge the main gate, and if we can regain the barbican, we may hold out till we are relieved."

De Bracy hastily drew his men together and rushed down to the postern gate, which he caused to be hastily thrown open. But scarce was this done ere the Black Knight, exerting his great strength, forced his way inward, despite de Bracy and his followers.

"Dogs!" said de Bracy, "will ye let two men win our only pass for safety?"

"He is the devil!" said one of his followers, giving way before the Black Knight.

And now the vaulted passage to the postern rang with furious blows as de Bracy himself rushed at the Black Knight with his sword. Valiantly did he fight, but he was no match for the Black Knight, and soon he received a blow which stretched him on the ground.

"Yield, de Bracy," said the Black Knight, stooping over him.

"I will not yield to an unknown conqueror," said de Bracy faintly.

At this the Black Champion bent down and whispered something, at which de Bracy immediately yielded.

"I will await your orders," he said; "but let me tell you what it imports you to know. Wilfred of Ivanhoe is wounded, and a prisoner and will perish in the burning castle."

"Wilfred of Ivanhoe!" exclaimed the Black Knight. "The life of every man in the castle shall be forfeit if a hair of his head is singed. Show me his chamber!"

"Ascend yon winding stair," said de Bracy; "it leads to his apartment."

During this combat, Cedric, at the head of a body of men, seeing that the postern was open, had pushed across the bridge and driven back de Bracy's followers, many of whom yielded. As the fire gained, symptoms of it became apparent to Ivanhoe and Rebecca. He had been awakened from his brief slumber by the noise of the battle. At length volumes of smoke rolled into the chamber.

"Fly, Rebecca, and save your own life," said Ivanhoe.

"I will not fly," answered Rebecca. "We will be saved, or perish together."

Just then the Templar rushed into the apartment.

"I have come to save thee, Rebecca," he said.

"Alone," answered Rebecca, "I will not be saved. Save the wounded knight and my father."

"I will not," said the Templar. "I come to save thee," and ignoring the shrieks of the terrified maiden, he seized her and carried her from the apartment, while Ivanhoe shouted after him: "Traitor! Hound!"

It was at this moment the Black Knight rushed into Wilfred's apartment.

"I had not found thee, Wilfred, if it had not been for thy shouts."

"If thou be'st true knight," said Ivanhoe, "think not of me, but save the Lady Rowena and the Jewess—also noble Cedric."

"In their turn," answered the Black Knight, "but thine first," and seizing Ivanhoe, he carried him off.

Rebecca and the Templar
HE SEIZED HER AND CARRIED HER FROM THE APARTMENT.


The noble Cedric had by now saved the Lady Rowena, and all the prisoners had been rescued; the besiegers went from apartment to apartment, carrying off the treasure they found. Meanwhile the Templar had escaped and ridden off with Rebecca, accompanied by his Saracen slaves.

The towering flames had now surmounted every obstruction and rose to the evening skies, one huge beacon. Tower after tower crashed down, while Locksley called to his followers:

"Stout yeomen, the den of tyrants is no more. Let each bring his spoil to one chosen place at the Trysting-tree, for there at break of day we will divide the treasure together with our allies in this great deed of vengeance."

At daylight the outlaws all assembled at the Trysting-tree, where they had spent the night in refreshing themselves. The spoils were indeed large, and included plate and rich armour, yet no one ventured to appropriate any portion, which was brought into one common mass. Then Locksley mounted a throne of turf, and after assigning a seat to the Black Knight, proceeded to divide the spoils amongst Cedric's followers and his own. Just then, however, Cedric rode up.

"Good sirs," he said, "my heart is oppressed, for the noble Athelstane is no more. A sufficient guard must be provided for the Lady Rowena, who desires to return to Rotherwood. I waited but to render thanks to thee and thy bold yeomen for the life and honour ye have saved. As for the booty, neither I nor any of mine will accept any share."

As Rowena now turned her steed towards Locksley's seat, he rose with all his yeomen to receive her.

"God bless you and requite you," she said, "and if ever the Normans should drive you from these forests, remember that Rowena has forests of her own, where you will be free to roam and hunt."

"Thanks, gentle lady," said Locksley, as she turned her palfrey to depart.

As Cedric was about to follow her, he turned to the Black Knight and earnestly entreated him to accompany him to Rotherwood.

"To Rotherwood will I come, brave Saxon, and that speedily; but as now pressing matters detain me from your halls. Peradventure when I come thither I shall have a boon to ask."

"It is granted ere spoken," said Cedric as he rode away.

"Noble Knight," said Locksley as the Black Champion mounted his horse to depart, "disdain not to accept a bugle which an English yeoman recently won at Ashby, and if ye are ever hard pressed in these forests, as happeneth oft to a gallant knight, sound it three times and it may well chance ye shall find helpers and rescue."

"Long live our leader and the Black Knight!" shouted the yeomen; "and may he soon use our service."

Just at this moment there was a shout of welcome as the Friar, who had fought so well before the castle, and was one of Locksley's band, appeared, leading prisoner the Jew Isaac.

"Where did you find him?" said Locksley.

"By St. Dunstan!" said the Friar, "I found him in the cellars of the castle when I went to look for booty."

"Well," said Locksley, "you must consider what you will pay us to set you free after rescuing you from the castle. And now I have another prisoner to examine," and he called to two yeomen, who brought in the Prior of Jorvaulx, whom they had captured. He was at the same time proud and yet in bodily terror as he was brought before Locksley.

"Now, Sir Prior, you must pay a good, round sum as ransom if you wish to return to your convent. Here, Jew," he called to Isaac, "you have had much dealing with the convent of Jorvaulx; what sum do you think the Prior should pay?"

"I think six hundred crowns the wily Prior might pay!" said Isaac.

"Six hundred crowns!" said the Prior. "Where am I to find it?"

It was at last decided that Isaac should pay his ransom, and he also undertook to find the money for the Prior to ransom himself if the Prior would send a message asking the Templar to give up his daughter, for the yeomen had seen him riding off with Rebecca and had told Isaac of this. To induce the Templar to give up Rebecca, the Jew promised to pay him 600 crowns as ransom. To this the Prior agreed, and wrote the message, which was given to the Jew with directions to take it to the Pre-ceptory of Templestowe. With this in his possession he set out with all haste to rescue Rebecca from the clutches of the Templar.