------There I throw my gage,
To prove it on thee to the extremest point
Of martial daring.
Even Lucas Beaumanoir himself was affected by the mien and
appearance of Rebecca. He was not originally a cruel or even a
severe man; but with passions by nature cold, and with a high,
though mistaken, sense of duty, his heart had been gradually
hardened by the ascetic life which he pursued, the supreme power
which he enjoyed, and the supposed necessity of subduing
infidelity and eradicating heresy, which he conceived peculiarly
incumbent on him. His features relaxed in their usual severity
as he gazed upon the beautiful creature before him, alone,
unfriended, and defending herself with so much spirit and
courage. He crossed himself twice, as doubting whence arose the
unwonted softening of a heart, which on such occasions used to
resemble in hardness the steel of his sword. At length he spoke.
"Damsel," he said, "if the pity I feel for thee arise from any
practice thine evil arts have made on me, great is thy guilt.
But I rather judge it the kinder feelings of nature, which
grieves that so goodly a form should be a vessel of perdition.
Repent, my daughter---confess thy witchcrafts---turn thee from
thine evil faith---embrace this holy emblem, and all shall yet be
well with thee here and hereafter. In some sisterhood of the
strictest order, shalt thou have time for prayer and fitting
penance, and that repentance not to be repented of. This do and
live---what has the law of Moses done for thee that thou
shouldest die for it?"
"It was the law of my fathers," said Rebecca; "it was delivered
in thunders and in storms upon the mountain of Sinai, in cloud
and in fire. This, if ye are Christians, ye believe---it is, you
say, recalled; but so my teachers have not taught me."
"Let our chaplain," said Beaumanoir, "stand forth, and tell this
"Forgive the interruption," said Rebecca, meekly; "I am a maiden,
unskilled to dispute for my religion, but I can die for it, if it
be God's will.---Let me pray your answer to my demand of a
"Give me her glove," said Beaumanoir. "This is indeed," he
continued, as he looked at the flimsy texture and slender
fingers, "a slight and frail gage for a purpose so deadly!
---Seest thou, Rebecca, as this thin and light glove of thine is
to one of our heavy steel gauntlets, so is thy cause to that of
the Temple, for it is our Order which thou hast defied."
"Cast my innocence into the scale," answered Rebecca, "and the
glove of silk shall outweigh the glove of iron."
"Then thou dost persist in thy refusal to confess thy guilt, and
in that bold challenge which thou hast made?"
"I do persist, noble sir," answered Rebecca.
"So be it then, in the name of Heaven," said the Grand Master;
"and may God show the right!"
"Amen," replied the Preceptors around him, and the word was
deeply echoed by the whole assembly.
"Brethren," said Beaumanoir, "you are aware that we might well
have refused to this woman the benefit of the trial by combat
---but though a Jewess and an unbeliever, she is also a stranger
and defenceless, and God forbid that she should ask the benefit
of our mild laws, and that it should be refused to her.
Moreover, we are knights and soldiers as well as men of religion,
and shame it were to us upon any pretence, to refuse proffered
combat. Thus, therefore, stands the case. Rebecca, the daughter
of Isaac of York, is, by many frequent and suspicious
circumstances, defamed of sorcery practised on the person of a
noble knight of our holy Order, and hath challenged the combat in
proof of her innocence. To whom, reverend brethren, is it your
opinion that we should deliver the gage of battle, naming him, at
the same time, to be our champion on the field?"
"To Brian de Bois-Guilbert, whom it chiefly concerns," said the
Preceptor of Goodalricke, "and who, moreover, best knows how the
truth stands in this matter."
"But if," said the Grand Master, "our brother Brian be under the
influence of a charm or a spell---we speak but for the sake of
precaution, for to the arm of none of our holy Order would we
more willingly confide this or a more weighty cause."
"Reverend father," answered the Preceptor of Goodalricke, "no
spell can effect the champion who comes forward to fight for the
judgment of God."
"Thou sayest right, brother," said the Grand Master. "Albert
Malvoisin, give this gage of battle to Brian de Bois-Guilbert.
---It is our charge to thee, brother," he continued, addressing
himself to Bois-Guilbert, "that thou do thy battle manfully,
nothing doubting that the good cause shall triumph.---And do
thou, Rebecca, attend, that we assign thee the third day from the
present to find a champion."
"That is but brief space," answered Rebecca, "for a stranger, who
is also of another faith, to find one who will do battle,
wagering life and honour for her cause, against a knight who is
called an approved soldier."
"We may not extend it," answered the Grand Master; "the field
must be foughten in our own presence, and divers weighty causes
call us on the fourth day from hence."
"God's will be done!" said Rebecca; "I put my trust in Him, to
whom an instant is as effectual to save as a whole age."
"Thou hast spoken well, damsel," said the Grand Master; "but well
know we who can array himself like an angel of light. It remains
but to name a fitting place of combat, and, if it so hap, also of
execution.---Where is the Preceptor of this house?"
Albert Malvoisin, still holding Rebecca's glove in his hand, was
speaking to Bois-Guilbert very earnestly, but in a low voice.
"How!" said the Grand Master, "will he not receive the gage?"
"He will---he doth, most Reverend Father," said Malvoisin,
slipping the glove under his own mantle. "And for the place of
combat, I hold the fittest to be the lists of Saint George
belonging to this Preceptory, and used by us for military
"It is well," said the Grand Master.---"Rebecca, in those lists
shalt thou produce thy champion; and if thou failest to do so, or
if thy champion shall be discomfited by the judgment of God, thou
shalt then die the death of a sorceress, according to doom.---Let
this our judgment be recorded, and the record read aloud, that no
one may pretend ignorance."
One of the chaplains, who acted as clerks to the chapter,
immediately engrossed the order in a huge volume, which contained
the proceedings of the Templar Knights when solemnly assembled on
such occasions; and when he had finished writing, the other read
aloud the sentence of the Grand Master, which, when translated
from the Norman-French in which it was couched, was expressed as
"Rebecca, a Jewess, daughter of Isaac of York, being attainted of
sorcery, seduction, and other damnable practices, practised on a
Knight of the most Holy Order of the Temple of Zion, doth deny
the same; and saith, that the testimony delivered against her
this day is false, wicked, and disloyal; and that by lawful
* "Essoine" signifies excuse, and here relates to the
appellant's privilege of appearing by her champion, in
excuse of her own person on account of her sex.
of her body as being unable to combat in her own behalf, she doth
offer, by a champion instead thereof, to avouch her case, he
performing his loyal 'devoir' in all knightly sort, with such
arms as to gage of battle do fully appertain, and that at her
peril and cost. And therewith she proffered her gage. And the
gage having been delivered to the noble Lord and Knight, Brian de
Bois-Guilbert, of the Holy Order of the Temple of Zion, he was
appointed to do this battle, in behalf of his Order and himself,
as injured and impaired by the practices of the appellant.
Wherefore the most reverend Father and puissant Lord, Lucas
Marquis of Beaumanoir, did allow of the said challenge, and of
the said 'essoine' of the appellant's body, and assigned the
third day for the said combat, the place being the enclosure
called the lists of Saint George, near to the Preceptory of
Templestowe. And the Grand Master appoints the appellant to
appear there by her champion, on pain of doom, as a person
convicted of sorcery or seduction; and also the defendant so to
appear, under the penalty of being held and adjudged recreant in
case of default; and the noble Lord and most reverend Father
aforesaid appointed the battle to be done in his own presence,
and according to all that is commendable and profitable in such a
case. And may God aid the just cause!"
"Amen!" said the Grand Master; and the word was echoed by all
around. Rebecca spoke not, but she looked up to heaven, and,
folding her hands, remained for a minute without change of
attitude. She then modestly reminded the Grand Master, that she
ought to be permitted some opportunity of free communication with
her friends, for the purpose of making her condition known to
them, and procuring, if possible, some champion to fight in her
"It is just and lawful," said the Grand Master; "choose what
messenger thou shalt trust, and he shall have free communication
with thee in thy prison-chamber."
"Is there," said Rebecca, "any one here, who, either for love of
a good cause, or for ample hire, will do the errand of a
All were silent; for none thought it safe, in the presence of the
Grand Master, to avow any interest in the calumniated prisoner,
lest he should be suspected of leaning towards Judaism. Not even
the prospect of reward, far less any feelings of compassion
alone, could surmount this apprehension.
Rebecca stood for a few moments in indescribable anxiety, and
then exclaimed, "Is it really thus?---And, in English land, am I
to be deprived of the poor chance of safety which remains to me,
for want of an act of charity which would not be refused to the
Higg, the son of Snell, at length replied, "I am but a maimed
man, but that I can at all stir or move was owing to her
charitable assistance.---I will do thine errand," he added,
addressing Rebecca, "as well as a crippled object can, and happy
were my limbs fleet enough to repair the mischief done by my
tongue. Alas! when I boasted of thy charity, I little thought I
was leading thee into danger!"
"God," said Rebecca, "is the disposer of all. He can turn back
the captivity of Judah, even by the weakest instrument. To
execute his message the snail is as sure a messenger as the
falcon. Seek out Isaac of York---here is that will pay for horse
and man---let him have this scroll.---I know not if it be of
Heaven the spirit which inspires me, but most truly do I judge
that I am not to die this death, and that a champion will be
raised up for me. Farewell!---Life and death are in thy haste."
The peasant took the scroll, which contained only a few lines in
Hebrew. Many of the crowd would have dissuaded him from touching
a document so suspicious; but Higg was resolute in the service of
his benefactress. She had saved his body, he said, and he was
confident she did not mean to peril his soul.
"I will get me," he said, "my neighbour Buthan's good capul,*
* "Capul", i.e. horse; in a more limited sense, work-horse.
and I will be at York within as brief space as man and beast
But as it fortuned, he had no occasion to go so far, for within a
quarter of a mile from the gate of the Preceptory he met with two
riders, whom, by their dress and their huge yellow caps, he knew
to be Jews; and, on approaching more nearly, discovered that one
of them was his ancient employer, Isaac of York. The other was
the Rabbi Ben Samuel; and both had approached as near to the
Preceptory as they dared, on hearing that the Grand Master had
summoned a chapter for the trial of a sorceress.
"Brother Ben Samuel," said Isaac, "my soul is disquieted, and I
wot not why. This charge of necromancy is right often used for
cloaking evil practices on our people."
"Be of good comfort, brother," said the physician; "thou canst
deal with the Nazarenes as one possessing the mammon of
unrighteousness, and canst therefore purchase immunity at their
hands---it rules the savage minds of those ungodly men, even as
the signet of the mighty Solomon was said to command the evil
genii.---But what poor wretch comes hither upon his crutches,
desiring, as I think, some speech of me?---Friend," continued the
physician, addressing Higg, the son of Snell, "I refuse thee not
the aid of mine art, but I relieve not with one asper those who
beg for alms upon the highway. Out upon thee!---Hast thou the
palsy in thy legs? then let thy hands work for thy livelihood;
for, albeit thou be'st unfit for a speedy post, or for a careful
shepherd, or for the warfare, or for the service of a hasty
master, yet there be occupations---How now, brother?" said he,
interrupting his harangue to look towards Isaac, who had but
glanced at the scroll which Higg offered, when, uttering a deep
groan, he fell from his mule like a dying man, and lay for a
The Rabbi now dismounted in great alarm, and hastily applied the
remedies which his art suggested for the recovery of his
companion. He had even taken from his pocket a cupping
apparatus, and was about to proceed to phlebotomy, when the
object of his anxious solicitude suddenly revived; but it was to
dash his cap from his head, and to throw dust on his grey hairs.
The physician was at first inclined to ascribe this sudden and
violent emotion to the effects of insanity; and, adhering to his
original purpose, began once again to handle his implements. But
Isaac soon convinced him of his error.
"Child of my sorrow," he said, "well shouldst thou be called
Benoni, instead of Rebecca! Why should thy death bring down my
grey hairs to the grave, till, in the bitterness of my heart, I
curse God and die!"
"Brother," said the Rabbi, in great surprise, "art thou a father
in Israel, and dost thou utter words like unto these?---I trust
that the child of thy house yet liveth?"
"She liveth," answered Isaac; "but it is as Daniel, who was
called Beltheshazzar, even when within the den of the lions. She
is captive unto those men of Belial, and they will wreak their
cruelty upon her, sparing neither for her youth nor her comely
favour. O! she was as a crown of green palms to my grey locks;
and she must wither in a night, like the gourd of Jonah!---Child
of my love!---child of my old age!---oh, Rebecca, daughter of
Rachel! the darkness of the shadow of death hath encompassed
"Yet read the scroll," said the Rabbi; "peradventure it may be
that we may yet find out a way of deliverance."
"Do thou read, brother," answered Isaac, "for mine eyes are as a
fountain of water."
The physician read, but in their native language, the following
"To Isaac, the son of Adonikam, whom the Gentiles call Isaac of
York, peace and the blessing of the promise be multiplied unto
thee!---My father, I am as one doomed to die for that which my
soul knoweth not---even for the crime of witchcraft. My father,
if a strong man can be found to do battle for my cause with
sword and spear, according to the custom of the Nazarenes, and
that within the lists of Templestowe, on the third day from this
time, peradventure our fathers' God will give him strength to
defend the innocent, and her who hath none to help her. But if
this may not be, let the virgins of our people mourn for me as
for one cast off, and for the hart that is stricken by the
hunter, and for the flower which is cut down by the scythe of the
mower. Wherefore look now what thou doest, and whether there be
any rescue. One Nazarene warrior might indeed bear arms in my
behalf, even Wilfred, son of Cedric, whom the Gentiles call
Ivanhoe. But he may not yet endure the weight of his armour.
Nevertheless, send the tidings unto him, my father; for he hath
favour among the strong men of his people, and as he was our
companion in the house of bondage, he may find some one to do
battle for my sake. And say unto him, even unto him, even unto
Wilfred, the son of Cedric, that if Rebecca live, or if Rebecca
die, she liveth or dieth wholly free of the guilt she is charged
withal. And if it be the will of God that thou shalt be deprived
of thy daughter, do not thou tarry, old man, in this land of
bloodshed and cruelty; but betake thyself to Cordova, where thy
brother liveth in safety, under the shadow of the throne, even of
the throne of Boabdil the Saracen; for less cruel are the
cruelties of the Moors unto the race of Jacob, than the cruelties
of the Nazarenes of England."
Isaac listened with tolerable composure while Ben Samuel read the
letter, and then again resumed the gestures and exclamations of
Oriental sorrow, tearing his garments, besprinkling his head with
dust, and ejaculating, "My daughter! my daughter! flesh of my
flesh, and bone of my bone!"
"Yet," said the Rabbi, "take courage, for this grief availeth
nothing. Gird up thy loins, and seek out this Wilfred, the son
of Cedric. It may be he will help thee with counsel or with
strength; for the youth hath favour in the eyes of Richard,
called of the Nazarenes Coeur-de-Lion, and the tidings that he
hath returned are constant in the land. It may be that he may
obtain his letter, and his signet, commanding these men of blood,
who take their name from the Temple to the dishonour thereof,
that they proceed not in their purposed wickedness."
"I will seek him out," said Isaac, "for he is a good youth, and
hath compassion for the exile of Jacob. But he cannot bear his
armour, and what other Christian shall do battle for the
oppressed of Zion?"
"Nay, but," said the Rabbi, "thou speakest as one that knoweth
not the Gentiles. With gold shalt thou buy their valour, even as
with gold thou buyest thine own safety. Be of good courage, and
do thou set forward to find out this Wilfred of Ivanhoe. I will
also up and be doing, for great sin it were to leave thee in thy
calamity. I will hie me to the city of York, where many warriors
and strong men are assembled, and doubt not I will find among
them some one who will do battle for thy daughter; for gold is
their god, and for riches will they pawn their lives as well as
their lands.---Thou wilt fulfil, my brother, such promise as I
may make unto them in thy name?"
"Assuredly, brother," said Isaac, "and Heaven be praised that
raised me up a comforter in my misery. Howbeit, grant them not
their full demand at once, for thou shalt find it the quality of
this accursed people that they will ask pounds, and peradventure
accept of ounces---Nevertheless, be it as thou willest, for I am
distracted in this thing, and what would my gold avail me if the
child of my love should perish!"
"Farewell," said the physician, "and may it be to thee as thy
They embraced accordingly, and departed on their several roads.
The crippled peasant remained for some time looking after them.
"These dog-Jews!" said he; "to take no more notice of a free
guild-brother, than if I were a bond slave or a Turk, or a
circumcised Hebrew like themselves! They might have flung me a
mancus or two, however. I was not obliged to bring their
unhallowed scrawls, and run the risk of being bewitched, as more
folks than one told me. And what care I for the bit of gold that
the wench gave me, if I am to come to harm from the priest next
Easter at confession, and be obliged to give him twice as much to
make it up with him, and be called the Jew's flying post all my
life, as it may hap, into the bargain? I think I was bewitched
in earnest when I was beside that girl!---But it was always so
with Jew or Gentile, whosoever came near her---none could stay
when she had an errand to go---and still, whenever I think of
her, I would give shop and tools to save her life."