Ascend the watch-tower yonder, valiant soldier,
Look on the field, and say how goes the battle.
Schiller's Maid of Orleans
A moment of peril is often also a moment of open-hearted kindness
and affection. We are thrown off our guard by the general
agitation of our feelings, and betray the intensity of those,
which, at more tranquil periods, our prudence at least conceals,
if it cannot altogether suppress them. In finding herself once
more by the side of Ivanhoe, Rebecca was astonished at the keen
sensation of pleasure which she experienced, even at a time when
all around them both was danger, if not despair. As she felt his
pulse, and enquired after his health, there was a softness in her
touch and in her accents implying a kinder interest than she
would herself have been pleased to have voluntarily expressed.
Her voice faltered and her hand trembled, and it was only the
cold question of Ivanhoe, "Is it you, gentle maiden?" which
recalled her to herself, and reminded her the sensations which
she felt were not and could not be mutual. A sigh escaped, but
it was scarce audible; and the questions which she asked the
knight concerning his state of health were put in the tone of
calm friendship. Ivanhoe answered her hastily that he was, in
point of health, as well, and better than he could have expected
---"Thanks," he said, "dear Rebecca, to thy helpful skill."
"He calls me DEAR Rebecca," said the maiden to herself, "but it
is in the cold and careless tone which ill suits the word. His
war-horse---his hunting hound, are dearer to him than the
"My mind, gentle maiden," continued Ivanhoe, "is more disturbed
by anxiety, than my body with pain. From the speeches of those
men who were my warders just now, I learn that I am a prisoner,
and, if I judge aright of the loud hoarse voice which even now
dispatched them hence on some military duty, I am in the castle
of Front-de-Boeuf---If so, how will this end, or how can I
protect Rowena and my father?"
"He names not the Jew or Jewess," said Rebecca internally; "yet
what is our portion in him, and how justly am I punished by
Heaven for letting my thoughts dwell upon him!" She hastened
after this brief self-accusation to give Ivanhoe what information
she could; but it amounted only to this, that the Templar
Bois-Guilbert, and the Baron Front-de-Boeuf, were commanders
within the castle; that it was beleaguered from without, but by
whom she knew not. She added, that there was a Christian priest
within the castle who might be possessed of more information.
"A Christian priest!" said the knight, joyfully; "fetch him
hither, Rebecca, if thou canst---say a sick man desires his
ghostly counsel---say what thou wilt, but bring him---something I
must do or attempt, but how can I determine until I know how
matters stand without?"
Rebecca in compliance with the wishes of Ivanhoe, made that
attempt to bring Cedric into the wounded Knight's chamber,
which was defeated as we have already seen by the interference of
Urfried, who had also been on the watch to intercept the supposed
monk. Rebecca retired to communicate to Ivanhoe the result of
They had not much leisure to regret the failure of this source of
intelligence, or to contrive by what means it might be supplied;
for the noise within the castle, occasioned by the defensive
preparations which had been considerable for some time, now
increased into tenfold bustle and clamour. The heavy, yet hasty
step of the men-at-arms, traversed the battlements or resounded
on the narrow and winding passages and stairs which led to the
various bartisans and points of defence. The voices of the
knights were heard, animating their followers, or directing means
of defence, while their commands were often drowned in the
clashing of armour, or the clamorous shouts of those whom they
addressed. Tremendous as these sounds were, and yet more
terrible from the awful event which they presaged, there was a
sublimity mixed with them, which Rebecca's high-toned mind could
feel even in that moment of terror. Her eye kindled, although
the blood fled from her cheeks; and there was a strong mixture of
fear, and of a thrilling sense of the sublime, as she repeated,
half whispering to herself, half speaking to her companion, the
sacred text,---"The quiver rattleth---the glittering spear and
the shield---the noise of the captains and the shouting!"
But Ivanhoe was like the war-horse of that sublime passage,
glowing with impatience at his inactivity, and with his ardent
desire to mingle in the affray of which these sounds were the
introduction. "If I could but drag myself," he said, "to yonder
window, that I might see how this brave game is like to go---If I
had but bow to shoot a shaft, or battle-axe to strike were it but
a single blow for our deliverance!---It is in vain---it is in
vain---I am alike nerveless and weaponless!"
"Fret not thyself, noble knight," answered Rebecca, "the sounds
have ceased of a sudden---it may be they join not battle."
"Thou knowest nought of it," said Wilfred, impatiently; "this
dead pause only shows that the men are at their posts on the
walls, and expecting an instant attack; what we have heard was
but the instant muttering of the storm---it will burst anon in
all its fury.---Could I but reach yonder window!"
"Thou wilt but injure thyself by the attempt, noble knight,"
replied his attendant. Observing his extreme solicitude, she
firmly added, "I myself will stand at the lattice, and describe
to you as I can what passes without."
"You must not---you shall not!" exclaimed Ivanhoe; "each lattice,
each aperture, will be soon a mark for the archers; some random
"It shall be welcome!" murmured Rebecca, as with firm pace she
ascended two or three steps, which led to the window of which
"Rebecca, dear Rebecca!" exclaimed Ivanhoe, "this is no maiden's
pastime---do not expose thyself to wounds and death, and render
me for ever miserable for having given the occasion; at least,
cover thyself with yonder ancient buckler, and show as little of
your person at the lattice as may be."
Following with wonderful promptitude the directions of Ivanhoe,
and availing herself of the protection of the large ancient
shield, which she placed against the lower part of the window,
Rebecca, with tolerable security to herself, could witness part
of what was passing without the castle, and report to Ivanhoe the
preparations which the assailants were making for the storm.
Indeed the situation which she thus obtained was peculiarly
favourable for this purpose, because, being placed on an angle
of the main building, Rebecca could not only see what passed
beyond the precincts of the castle, but also commanded a view of
the outwork likely to be the first object of the meditated
assault. It was an exterior fortification of no great height
or strength, intended to protect the postern-gate, through which
Cedric had been recently dismissed by Front-de-Boeuf. The castle
moat divided this species of barbican from the rest of the
fortress, so that, in case of its being taken, it was easy to
cut off the communication with the main building, by withdrawing
the temporary bridge. In the outwork was a sallyport
corresponding to the postern of the castle, and the whole was
surrounded by a strong palisade. Rebecca could observe, from the
number of men placed for the defence of this post, that the
besieged entertained apprehensions for its safety; and from the
mustering of the assailants in a direction nearly opposite to the
outwork, it seemed no less plain that it had been selected as a
vulnerable point of attack.
These appearances she hastily communicated to Ivanhoe, and added,
"The skirts of the wood seem lined with archers, although only a
few are advanced from its dark shadow."
"Under what banner?" asked Ivanhoe.
"Under no ensign of war which I can observe," answered Rebecca.
"A singular novelty," muttered the knight, "to advance to storm
such a castle without pennon or banner displayed!---Seest thou
who they be that act as leaders?"
"A knight, clad in sable armour, is the most conspicuous," said
the Jewess; "he alone is armed from head to heel, and seems to
assume the direction of all around him."
"What device does he bear on his shield?" replied Ivanhoe.
"Something resembling a bar of iron, and a padlock painted blue
on the black shield."*
* Note F. Heraldry
"A fetterlock and shacklebolt azure," said Ivanhoe; "I know not
who may bear the device, but well I ween it might now be mine
own. Canst thou not see the motto?"
"Scarce the device itself at this distance," replied Rebecca;
"but when the sun glances fair upon his shield, it shows as I
"Seem there no other leaders?" exclaimed the anxious enquirer.
"None of mark and distinction that I can behold from this
station," said Rebecca; "but, doubtless, the other side of the
castle is also assailed. They appear even now preparing to
advance---God of Zion, protect us!---What a dreadful sight!
---Those who advance first bear huge shields and defences made of
plank; the others follow, bending their bows as they come on.
---They raise their bows!---God of Moses, forgive the creatures
thou hast made!"
Her description was here suddenly interrupted by the signal for
assault, which was given by the blast of a shrill bugle, and at
once answered by a flourish of the Norman trumpets from the
battlements, which, mingled with the deep and hollow clang of the
nakers, (a species of kettle-drum,) retorted in notes of defiance
the challenge of the enemy. The shouts of both parties augmented
the fearful din, the assailants crying, "Saint George for merry
England!" and the Normans answering them with loud cries of "En
avant De Bracy!---Beau-seant! Beau-seant!---Front-de-Boeuf a la
rescousse!" according to the war-cries of their different
It was not, however, by clamour that the contest was to be
decided, and the desperate efforts of the assailants were met by
an equally vigorous defence on the part of the besieged. The
archers, trained by their woodland pastimes to the most effective
use of the long-bow, shot, to use the appropriate phrase of the
time, so "wholly together," that no point at which a defender
could show the least part of his person, escaped their cloth-yard
shafts. By this heavy discharge, which continued as thick and
sharp as hail, while, notwithstanding, every arrow had its
individual aim, and flew by scores together against each
embrasure and opening in the parapets, as well as at every
window where a defender either occasionally had post, or might be
suspected to be stationed,---by this sustained discharge, two or
three of the garrison were slain, and several others wounded.
But, confident in their armour of proof, and in the cover which
their situation afforded, the followers of Front-de-Boeuf, and
his allies, showed an obstinacy in defence proportioned to the
fury of the attack and replied with the discharge of their large
cross-bows, as well as with their long-bows, slings, and other
missile weapons, to the close and continued shower of arrows;
and, as the assailants were necessarily but indifferently
protected, did considerably more damage than they received at
their hand. The whizzing of shafts and of missiles, on both
sides, was only interrupted by the shouts which arose when either
side inflicted or sustained some notable loss.
"And I must lie here like a bedridden monk," exclaimed Ivanhoe,
"while the game that gives me freedom or death is played out by
the hand of others!---Look from the window once again, kind
maiden, but beware that you are not marked by the archers beneath
--Look out once more, and tell me if they yet advance to the
With patient courage, strengthened by the interval which she had
employed in mental devotion, Rebecca again took post at the
lattice, sheltering herself, however, so as not to be visible
"What dost thou see, Rebecca?" again demanded the wounded knight.
"Nothing but the cloud of arrows flying so thick as to dazzle
mine eyes, and to hide the bowmen who shoot them."
"That cannot endure," said Ivanhoe; "if they press not right on
to carry the castle by pure force of arms, the archery may avail
but little against stone walls and bulwarks. Look for the Knight
of the Fetterlock, fair Rebecca, and see how he bears himself;
for as the leader is, so will his followers be."
"I see him not," said Rebecca.
"Foul craven!" exclaimed Ivanhoe; "does he blench from the helm
when the wind blows highest?"
"He blenches not! he blenches not!" said Rebecca, "I see him now;
he leads a body of men close under the outer barrier of the
* Every Gothic castle and city had, beyond the outer-walls,
a fortification composed of palisades, called the
barriers, which were often the scene of severe
skirmishes, as these must necessarily be carried before
the walls themselves could be approached. Many of those
valiant feats of arms which adorn the chivalrous pages of
Froissart took place at the barriers of besieged places.
---They pull down the piles and palisades; they hew down the
barriers with axes.---His high black plume floats abroad over the
throng, like a raven over the field of the slain.---They have
made a breach in the barriers---they rush in---they are thrust
back!---Front-de-Boeuf heads the defenders; I see his gigantic
form above the press. They throng again to the breach, and the
pass is disputed hand to hand, and man to man. God of Jacob! it
is the meeting of two fierce tides---the conflict of two oceans
moved by adverse winds!"
She turned her head from the lattice, as if unable longer to
endure a sight so terrible.
"Look forth again, Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, mistaking the cause of
her retiring; "the archery must in some degree have ceased, since
they are now fighting hand to hand.---Look again, there is now
Rebecca again looked forth, and almost immediately exclaimed,
"Holy prophets of the law! Front-de-Boeuf and the Black Knight
fight hand to hand on the breach, amid the roar of their
followers, who watch the progress of the strife---Heaven strike
with the cause of the oppressed and of the captive!" She then
uttered a loud shriek, and exclaimed, "He is down!---he is down!"
"Who is down?" cried Ivanhoe; "for our dear Lady's sake, tell me
which has fallen?"
"The Black Knight," answered Rebecca, faintly; then instantly
again shouted with joyful eagerness---"But no---but no!---the
name of the Lord of Hosts be blessed!---he is on foot again, and
fights as if there were twenty men's strength in his single arm
---His sword is broken---he snatches an axe from a yeoman---he
presses Front-de-Boeuf with blow on blow---The giant stoops and
totters like an oak under the steel of the woodman---he falls
"Front-de-Boeuf?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"Front-de-Boeuf!" answered the Jewess; "his men rush to the
rescue, headed by the haughty Templar---their united force
compels the champion to pause---They drag Front-de-Boeuf within
"The assailants have won the barriers, have they not?" said
"They have---they have!" exclaimed Rebecca---"and they press the
besieged hard upon the outer wall; some plant ladders, some swarm
like bees, and endeavour to ascend upon the shoulders of each
other---down go stones, beams, and trunks of trees upon their
heads, and as fast as they bear the wounded to the rear, fresh
men supply their places in the assault---Great God! hast thou
given men thine own image, that it should be thus cruelly defaced
by the hands of their brethren!"
"Think not of that," said Ivanhoe; "this is no time for such
thoughts---Who yield?---who push their way?"
"The ladders are thrown down," replied Rebecca, shuddering; "the
soldiers lie grovelling under them like crushed reptiles---The
besieged have the better."
"Saint George strike for us!" exclaimed the knight; "do the false
yeomen give way?"
"No!" exclaimed Rebecca, "they bear themselves right yeomanly
---the Black Knight approaches the postern with his huge axe
---the thundering blows which he deals, you may hear them above
all the din and shouts of the battle---Stones and beams are
hailed down on the bold champion---he regards them no more than
if they were thistle-down or feathers!"
"By Saint John of Acre," said Ivanhoe, raising himself joyfully
on his couch, "methought there was but one man in England that
might do such a deed!"
"The postern gate shakes," continued Rebecca; "it crashes---it is
splintered by his blows---they rush in---the outwork is won---Oh,
God!---they hurl the defenders from the battlements---they throw
them into the moat---O men, if ye be indeed men, spare them that
can resist no longer!"
"The bridge---the bridge which communicates with the castle
---have they won that pass?" exclaimed Ivanhoe.
"No," replied Rebecca, "The Templar has destroyed the plank on
which they crossed---few of the defenders escaped with him into
the castle--- the shrieks and cries which you hear tell the fate
of the others---Alas!---I see it is still more difficult to look
upon victory than upon battle."
"What do they now, maiden?" said Ivanhoe; "look forth yet again
---this is no time to faint at bloodshed."
"It is over for the time," answered Rebecca; "our friends
strengthen themselves within the outwork which they have
mastered, and it affords them so good a shelter from the foemen's
shot, that the garrison only bestow a few bolts on it from
interval to interval, as if rather to disquiet than effectually
to injure them."
"Our friends," said Wilfred, "will surely not abandon an
enterprise so gloriously begun and so happily attained.---O no!
I will put my faith in the good knight whose axe hath rent
heart-of-oak and bars of iron.---Singular," he again muttered to
himself, "if there be two who can do a deed of such derring-do!*
* "Derring-do"---desperate courage.
---a fetterlock, and a shacklebolt on a field sable---what may
that mean?---seest thou nought else, Rebecca, by which the Black
Knight may be distinguished?"
"Nothing," said the Jewess; "all about him is black as the wing
of the night raven. Nothing can I spy that can mark him further
---but having once seen him put forth his strength in battle,
methinks I could know him again among a thousand warriors. He
rushes to the fray as if he were summoned to a banquet. There is
more than mere strength, there seems as if the whole soul and
spirit of the champion were given to every blow which he deals
upon his enemies. God assoilize him of the sin of bloodshed!
---it is fearful, yet magnificent, to behold how the arm and
heart of one man can triumph over hundreds."
"Rebecca," said Ivanhoe, "thou hast painted a hero; surely they
rest but to refresh their force, or to provide the means of
crossing the moat---Under such a leader as thou hast spoken this
knight to be, there are no craven fears, no cold-blooded delays,
no yielding up a gallant emprize; since the difficulties which
render it arduous render it also glorious. I swear by the honour
of my house---I vow by the name of my bright lady-love, I would
endure ten years' captivity to fight one day by that good
knight's side in such a quarrel as this!"
"Alas," said Rebecca, leaving her station at the window, and
approaching the couch of the wounded knight, "this impatient
yearning after action---this struggling with and repining at your
present weakness, will not fail to injure your returning health
---How couldst thou hope to inflict wounds on others, ere that be
healed which thou thyself hast received?"
"Rebecca," he replied, "thou knowest not how impossible it is for
one trained to actions of chivalry to remain passive as a priest,
or a woman, when they are acting deeds of honour around him. The
love of battle is the food upon which we live---the dust of the
'melee' is the breath of our nostrils! We live not---we wish not
to live---longer than while we are victorious and renowned
---Such, maiden, are the laws of chivalry to which we are sworn,
and to which we offer all that we hold dear."
"Alas!" said the fair Jewess, "and what is it, valiant knight,
save an offering of sacrifice to a demon of vain glory, and a
passing through the fire to Moloch?---What remains to you as the
prize of all the blood you have spilled---of all the travail and
pain you have endured---of all the tears which your deeds have
caused, when death hath broken the strong man's spear, and
overtaken the speed of his war-horse?"
"What remains?" cried Ivanhoe; "Glory, maiden, glory! which gilds
our sepulchre and embalms our name."
"Glory?" continued Rebecca; "alas, is the rusted mail which hangs
as a hatchment over the champion's dim and mouldering tomb---is
the defaced sculpture of the inscription which the ignorant monk
can hardly read to the enquiring pilgrim---are these sufficient
rewards for the sacrifice of every kindly affection, for a life
spent miserably that ye may make others miserable? Or is there
such virtue in the rude rhymes of a wandering bard, that domestic
love, kindly affection, peace and happiness, are so wildly
bartered, to become the hero of those ballads which vagabond
minstrels sing to drunken churls over their evening ale?"
"By the soul of Hereward!" replied the knight impatiently, "thou
speakest, maiden, of thou knowest not what. Thou wouldst quench
the pure light of chivalry, which alone distinguishes the noble
from the base, the gentle knight from the churl and the savage;
which rates our life far, far beneath the pitch of our honour;
raises us victorious over pain, toil, and suffering, and teaches
us to fear no evil but disgrace. Thou art no Christian, Rebecca;
and to thee are unknown those high feelings which swell the bosom
of a noble maiden when her lover hath done some deed of emprize
which sanctions his flame. Chivalry!---why, maiden, she is the
nurse of pure and high affection---the stay of the oppressed, the
redresser of grievances, the curb of the power of the tyrant
---Nobility were but an empty name without her, and liberty finds
the best protection in her lance and her sword."
"I am, indeed," said Rebecca, "sprung from a race whose courage
was distinguished in the defence of their own land, but who
warred not, even while yet a nation, save at the command of the
Deity, or in defending their country from oppression. The sound
of the trumpet wakes Judah no longer, and her despised children
are now but the unresisting victims of hostile and military
oppression. Well hast thou spoken, Sir Knight,---until the God
of Jacob shall raise up for his chosen people a second Gideon, or
a new Maccabeus, it ill beseemeth the Jewish damsel to speak of
battle or of war."
The high-minded maiden concluded the argument in a tone of
sorrow, which deeply expressed her sense of the degradation of
her people, embittered perhaps by the idea that Ivanhoe
considered her as one not entitled to interfere in a case of
honour, and incapable of entertaining or expressing sentiments of
honour and generosity.
"How little he knows this bosom," she said, "to imagine that
cowardice or meanness of soul must needs be its guests, because I
have censured the fantastic chivalry of the Nazarenes! Would to
heaven that the shedding of mine own blood, drop by drop, could
redeem the captivity of Judah! Nay, would to God it could avail
to set free my father, and this his benefactor, from the chains
of the oppressor! The proud Christian should then see whether
the daughter of God's chosen people dared not to die as bravely
as the vainest Nazarene maiden, that boasts her descent from some
petty chieftain of the rude and frozen north!"
She then looked towards the couch of the wounded knight.
"He sleeps," she said; "nature exhausted by sufferance and the
waste of spirits, his wearied frame embraces the first moment of
temporary relaxation to sink into slumber. Alas! is it a crime
that I should look upon him, when it may be for the last time?
---When yet but a short space, and those fair features will be no
longer animated by the bold and buoyant spirit which forsakes
them not even in sleep!---When the nostril shall be distended,
the mouth agape, the eyes fixed and bloodshot; and when the proud
and noble knight may be trodden on by the lowest caitiff of this
accursed castle, yet stir not when the heel is lifted up against
him!---And my father!---oh, my father! evil is it with his
daughter, when his grey hairs are not remembered because of the
golden locks of youth!---What know I but that these evils are the
messengers of Jehovah's wrath to the unnatural child, who thinks
of a stranger's captivity before a parent's? who forgets the
desolation of Judah, and looks upon the comeliness of a Gentile
and a stranger?---But I will tear this folly from my heart,
though every fibre bleed as I rend it away!"
She wrapped herself closely in her veil, and sat down at a
distance from the couch of the wounded knight, with her back
turned towards it, fortifying, or endeavouring to fortify her
mind, not only against the impending evils from without, but also
against those treacherous feelings which assailed her from
NOTE TO CHAPTER XXIX
The author has been here upbraided with false heraldry, as having
charged metal upon metal. It should be remembered, however, that
heraldry had only its first rude origin during the crusades, and
that all the minutiae of its fantastic science were the work of
time, and introduced at a much later period. Those who think
otherwise must suppose that the Goddess of "Armoirers", like the
Goddess of Arms, sprung into the world completely equipped in all
the gaudy trappings of the department she presides over.
In corroboration of said note, it may be observed, that the arms,
which were assumed by Godfrey of Boulogne himself, after the
conquest of Jerusalem, was a cross counter patent cantoned with
four little crosses or, upon a field azure, displaying thus metal
upon metal. The heralds have tried to explain this undeniable
fact in different modes---but Ferne gallantly contends, that a
prince of Godfrey's qualities should not be bound by the ordinary
rules. The Scottish Nisbet, and the same Ferne, insist that the
chiefs of the Crusade must have assigned to Godfrey this
extraordinary and unwonted coat-of-arms, in order to induce those
who should behold them to make enquiries; and hence give them the
name of "arma inquirenda". But with reverence to these grave
authorities, it seems unlikely that the assembled princes of
Europe should have adjudged to Godfrey a coat armorial so much
contrary to the general rule, if such rule had then existed; at
any rate, it proves that metal upon metal, now accounted a
solecism in heraldry, was admitted in other cases similar to that
in the text. See Ferne's "Blazon of Gentrie" p. 238. Edition
1586. Nisbet's "Heraldry", vol. i. p. 113. Second Edition.