Sometimes his conscience smote him, but he parleyed
with it, called it a fool, or placated it by the assurance
that this whole matter could be stopped any time at
Astarte or Mary ? 171
will. Like many another man, forgetting all else ex
cept that he was a refined animal, he passed away from
the beacons of Bethlehem to the chambers of Im
agery, the gods of Egypt. In chains of roses, though
with many fine Christian sentiments on his lips, he
went heart first, head first, into an utter committal of
all his being to the possession of his enchanter. He
expected to regard the laws of the land and society,
but nothing more. He was led by his tempting
spirit to Ramoth Gilead, now sometimes called
Gerara or Gerash. There it was that Rizpah s family
took up its abode. With them, and of them, was Sir
Charleroy, a welcome guest, his welcome secured by
his own personal efforts to please, in part ; but more
through \\\Q finesse of Rizpah, who having promised to
be a sister, was permitting her mind to wonder what
he might become if only her friend were a Hebrew.
Such day dreams were sinless, but impolitic if she
really meant to keep herself free and painless, when the
parting time came. But it so happens that the ques
tions and problems of the heart are thrust ever on life
when most responsive, least experienced. The won
der is not that so many decide them ill, but that
youth so pressed, so ardent, so callow, as a whole
decide so fairly well the master social problem. The
life of Harrimai and his following was very Jewish at
Gerash. There was an unusual amount of national
pride evinced in that locality for the times. Sir Char
leroy was interested deeply in the place because of its
splendid ruins, he said, but as need not be explained,
chiefly on account of its natural beauties amid which
Rizpah was peerless. The Israelitish colony revered
the place for its ancient part in Jewish history, and be-
1 72 The Queen of the House of David.
cause they believed no Moslem invader had ever defiled
the place. The knight and the Jewish father and
daughter were in frequent companionship. They were
becoming very intimate, meanwhile gaining power each
to make the other eventually very miserable.
Rizpah was pushing out in a new experience to her.
If she were enamored she did not fully know it. She
only knew that the knight s companionship was very
delightful. If she had any misgivings as to the pro
priety of her course she silenced them by saying to
herself : " Sir Charleroy has sworn to leave us forever
when I say he shall. I can end this matter any time.
She thought she could, but the shield of her safety was
already too heavy for her. She could not have said
go, had she tried. Time deepened the perplexity by
multiplying the enmeshings of the trio. The knight
and Rizpah were much in each other s society. They
spoke of this as being a happy circumstance, as youths
usually-do. " We shall understand each other so well
too well to misunderstand." Some of the Jewish
young men were jealous and made some very natural
remarks, under the circumstances, though the remarks
were rather bitter with jealousy. The older people,
some of them, anxious for an alliance by marriage with
the rich and powerful Harrimai family, took up the
undertone complaints of the young people of their race.
Of course, the murmurings were cloaked with declara
tions that they were all for the sake of righteousness !
Harrimai, in heart far from assured, was yet compelled
to defend the two secretly loving, in order to defend his
daughter s fair fame. The two young people wore the
armor of teacher and pupil ; the young woman con
stantly bepraising the knight s wondrous knowledge
Astarte or Mary ? 173
of the antiquities, etc., of all the out-of-the-way places
they visited. So the meshes multiplied, though
the caviling was in part silenced. As teacher and
pupil they went on, and Harrimai knew, as did Sir
Charleroy, that the relationship had its peril, as it ex
isted between a man and woman who could love yet
ought not to love. Rizpah did not at first know how
easily a woman s heart surrenders to a man to whom
she is accustomed to look upward. In fact she drifted
in a delight in all pertaining to the knight ; her only
outlook and watchfulness being toward her father.
The way the latter at times keenly, silently observed
her and the knight made her uneasy. She knew in
tuitively that not far away there was impending on her
father s part an investigation. She determined to delay,
if not prevent it. One day she bounded into her
father s presence, aglow with enthusiasm over the won
ders unfolded to her by Sir Charleroy during a visit to
the ruins of Gerash s temple of the sun. The old man
was charmed by her description, and when she declared
her intention to pursue her investigations beyond their
city he hesitated to forbid.
"And now, father, I m going to that old city of the
The father, with an effort at firmness, dissuadingly
"We may all go there, but not now. It is better
to bide here quietly, until we learn that the perils
of receding war have left assured peace."
"Why, father, I m not afraid ! "
" I know it ; so much the more need for me to be;
these over-daring daughters need over-careful guard
ians. Some of us aged oper are suffered to tarry long
1^4 The Queen of the House of David.
from paradise, in order that we may see our darlings
in the right path thither."
" Give me my swift white dromedary and two at
tendants and I ll defy the miserables who ambuscade
along the way."
Just then, there dashed toward them, over the olean
der-fringed road which passed due north along the
little river and across the city, a rider on panting
" It s the news runner! " said the patriarch.
" Shall we signal him? " she questioned.
" No, daughter, we will meet him yonder, where the
two great streets cross. He will await me."
When the father and daughter arrived, a crowd had
already gathered about the horseman. Some pressed
him for news, but he looked straight ahead at his
horse, now slaking its thirst, and merely snapped out ;
" News? My beast is thirsty!
When Harrimai drew near the rider saluted him and
at once unfolded his budget : " Father, I m this day
from Bozrah. Its ruins are not ruined. All around
there, and from there to here, the herds sleep in the
shade, and the carrion birds that have so. long been
hovering around us for human food have fled back
to Egypt and Europe and Hadesl "
" Praised be the Father of Israel ! I shall live then,
as I prayed I might, to see the infidels slung out of
our holy places ! " So spoke the priest, and as he affec
tionately embraced some aged Israelites who gathered
about him, the horseman responded :
" God reigns and Israel has peace." He put spurs to
his horse then, and dashed away across the river to
spread to other hamlets the glorious news.
A starte or Ma ry? 175
Next morning Rizpah, having carried her point, was
ready to depart for Bozrah. She had taken silence
on her father s part for consent, and pursued her prepa
rations as if it were so ordered. All things being ready
she silenced protest by a good-by kiss.
" But daughter ! What escort ? "
" Ah," she thought, " victory ! I can go if well at
tended." She continued aloud ; " Perhaps Sir Charle-
roy s Egyptian might attend me, since our servants art-
busy in the groves." The maiden called to her Icha-
bod, who had found a home in Harrimai s establish
ment, his identity hidden under the assumed name
Huykos, a name from the Nile land, meaning " Shep
herd King." "I ll take it," said Ichabod, one day to
Sir Charleroy, " that all unknown I may follow my
pilgrim comrade and perhaps honor my new found
"One will be a meager escort daughter," interposed
" Oh, fear for me nothing, father. I ll quickly be at
Bozrah, where there are Israelites not a few who will be
proud to aid thy daughter."
" No, daughter it must not be. I ll call the young
men from the vineyard, if thou must go."
" Another victory," her heart whispered ; then
quickly turning to Sir Charleroy she exclaimed, "My
father must not call the workmen from their tasks;
what sayst thou ? Wilt serve us both by joining my
body-guard, Ahasuerus ? Come, to please my father ? "
The knight had hoped for and expected the sum
mons, so needed no urgency and was instantly preparing
for the start.
Harrimai was not pleased by the arrangement, and
176 The Queen of the House of David.
yet he was forced to thank the knight for consenting.
His native courtliness compelled this much, and Riz-
pah s genius had precluded all gainsaying on his part.
And so they rode away, Rizpah in a delight, which she
could not clearly define ; Sir Charleroy blinded already
by the cry that at last led to giant Samson s blinding,
nameiy : " Get her for me." Ichabod masked under
his name, Huykos, followed after, knowing that the
knight was captive to the maid and feeling very happy
over the circumstance. As he rode, his mind ran for
ward to the wedding, and he laughed again and again
at the witty things he imagined himself saying at that
wedding. Suddenly the scene changed from one of
careless delight to one filled with the frights of impend
ing peril. At a turn in the road, from behind a wall,
there rose up a company of Mamelukes. Rizpah saw
them the instant her companion did and exclaimed,
as she half turned her camel :
"Let s race back toGerash!"
But four dusky sentinels were behind them. They
" Tis fight or flight, the latter futile," whispered the
knight. They paused, and Ichabod joined them. Sir
Charleroy drawing his sword again spoke : " Comrade
it s a desperate chance; a dozen to two ; but we have
taken such before together ! "
" Let the knight say a dozen to three," exclaimed
Rizpah, as she drew from the folds of her garments a
saber before unseen and touched the edge expert-like
with her thumb.
" Oh, brave, pure girl ! I don t fear death ; I d court
it for thce, but" Sir Charleroy paused and looked un
utterable misery ; then instantly recovering and em-
Astarte or Mary f 177
boldened by the danger that threatened to soon end
all, he exclaimed :
" Rizpah, thou rememberest my knight-vow at
Purim ; thou shalt see how I ll keep it ; if I perish, re
member I have loved thee as I never loved any other
being." The words were very vehement, but probably
very true. Rizpah blushed, brushed a tear from her
eyes and then, in the frankness that such an hour en
genders, replied: "And I thee " the rest was drowned
in the wild shout of the Turks as they close about the
three. But they had not counted upon such a recep
tion as those two men and that one woman gave them.
Ichabod fought like a roused mastiff, without a thought
of fear for himself. He struck vehemently, but a
calm settled smile was on his countenance. Sir Char-
leroy saw it and years after said, recalling the incident,
" amidst the greatest perils there s a wondrous peace
to one who feels he is striking for God, close to the por
tals of death and judgment." The knight himself
fenced with the rapidity of lightning. Again and again
by ones and twos and threes, the enemies charged down
upon him, but he fought with the prowess of a crusader,
the fire of a lover. Those parts had never before wit
nessed such splendid swordsmanship. As the attack
had been sudden, so was its ending. Two Turks fell
beneath Sir Charleroy s weapon in quick succession,
and a third fell under his own horse, which was desper
ately wounded by a sweeping blow from the knight.
At the same instant, almost, Ichabod and one of the foe-
men, whom he was engaging, fell in significant silence,
while another struggled to drag Rizpah to his steed
that he might make her captive. Sir Charleroy,
wounded and faint, dealt the latter miscreant a stag.
178 The Queen of the House of David.
gering blow and the maiden, plucking a small dagger
from the folds of her garment, finished with a single
thrust her captor s earthly career.
Those of the marauders that were able, in fright took
flight, wheeling away more quickly than they had
" Rizpah, wilt thou go to Ich Huykos? I can t,"
softly called out Sir Charleroy.
The maiden flew to the Jew s side, but quickly started
back, crying: " Oh, knight, come quickly ! He s dead!"
Just then, looking back, a sudden horror fell upon her,
for she saw Sir Charleroy half reclining against a rock,
bleeding and pale. Like lightning she thought : " Both
dead ; I alone ; home miles away ; the Turks hovering
But the thought of her own peril was only momen
tary, and after it there came more rapidly than can be
written the thought that one dear as her life was dead,
dead for her sake. Instantly, on feet that seemed
winged, she was at Sir Charleroy s side. All her being
merged into one great, instant impulse to save her
lover. Over him she bent, and with passionate sorrow
tried with her garments to staunch the flow of blood.
In the sincereity and frankness that the presence of
death ever brings, she arose above all prudishness and
impulsively kissed the cold lips of the knight. His
eyes opened, and he faintly murmured :
" I m so happy, dear Rizpah. I know now it is well."
A little later he murmured : " Flee now for home.
Thou lt reach it by sun down. Leave me. To tarry is
to court a harem prison."
" Hush," impatiently responded she ; " see this dag
ger?" and she held it close to his half-closed eyes.
Astarte or Mary f i?p
" My pious father gave it me when I was but a girl,
lie told me it might sorrie time save me from dis
honor. It did so to-day, once. If those black demons
return, sure as my name is Rizpah, it will do so again,
even though I turn it toward my own heart."
" Better flee, my love."
" Not till thou can st go, too."
" 1 may die."
" Then, I ll go into the shadow land with thee."
The knight was silent. The pain of his wounds was
forgotten in the joy of that lone companionship. But,
after all, his mind, perturbed by the shock, the pain,
the dangers, was unable to rest. He tried to say to
himself the prayer of the dying crusader, but the words
were confused. He could not remember many of them ;
those he remembered, seemed to be unwilling to go
heavenward for mercy. Some way in the clearness of
judgment as to simple right and wrong that comes to
a mind on the confines of death, he found himself con
demned. He was haunted by a vision that came to his
mind first the day he decided against conviction, at all
hazard, to follow the family of Rizpah and Harri-
mai to Gerash. The vision was that of the false
prophet Zedekiah, making himself horns of iron, and
with them appearing before the wicked King of Israel,
Ahab, to proclaim, not the things of God, but the
things the prophet knew would meet the desires of
his royal masfr*". The wounded often fall asleep ;
it s nature s way of recovering from a shock and of
chaining pain in forgetfulness. Sir Charleroy knew
not whether he was sleeping or not ; but the vision
passed in painful vividness over his mind. He heard
the prophet s voice saying : " Go up to Ramoth
1 80 The Queen of the House of David.
Gilead, and prosper." Then he saw a true prophet
of God standing nigh, with sorrowful countenance,
and the face was that of the Madonna. The latter
moaned in his ear, warningly ; " Who shall persuade,
that he may go up and fall at Ramoth Gilead? Then
there came forth a spirit and said, I will persuade "
The spirit was black-garbed, in a blood-spotted gan
ment, and wore, as Sir Charleroy seemed to see the
apparition, a scarlet crescent, and the knight thought
of Astarte. He heard in his vision the beatings as
of mighty wings, rising to flight, and tried to turn
and see who the departing one was. It seemed as
if the spirit of Astarte-like countenance transfixed
him with a gaze, so he could not turn ; but a lone
liness and darkness, almost palpable, came over him, and
he knew it was the Madonna-faced prophet that had
departed. The knight started up as if to rise, but,
awakening, found Rizpah s restraining arms about him.
"Stay," she soothingly said. "Thou art feverish,
and too weak to rise. Thou lt be better presently;
the blood has ceased flowing."
"Oh," he groaned; "I had such a dream!"
Just then Rizpah beheld coming in the distance,
from toward Gerash, a horseman, at rapid pace. Her
first thought, "The enemy returns." Her second
brought her hand swiftly to her reeking dagger, as
she soliloquized: "He s only one, and I m one; if
but a woman."
The rider drew nearer, and she was almost over
come with the revulsion from fear and despair ; for
the comer was Laconic, the " news runner." He
knew the maiden, and wheeling his steed to her side
with his usual brevity, cried out:
Astarte or Mary? 181
Why, didst thou kill both?"
" Shame on thee ; twas the Arabs ! "
" I thought so. I met two horsemen and two rider
less steeds, galloping away down the road. I knew
they d been at some devilment."
" Good runner, in the the name of God, speed thee
to Bozrah, or somewhere, for help, and bring it quickly."
" Bring? not so ; send. / come not till my set day !"
" Any thing ; but hurry ! "
" Hurry! Yes, hurry ! I love hurry."
He was away like an arrow, in his course. His steed
leaped over one of the dead miscreants and Laconic
shouted back : " Carrion dinners ! Thank God ! "
FROM RAMOTH GILEAD TO DAMASCUS
Daughters of Eve ! your mother did not well:
* * * * * * *
The man was not deceived, nor yet could stand :
He chose to lose for love of her, his throne,
With her could die, but could not live alone."
Daughters of Eve ! it was for your dear sake
The world s first hero died an uncrowned king :
But God s great pity touched the great mistake
And made his married love a sacred thing ;
For yet his nobler sons, if aught be true,
Find the lost Eden in their love of you."
OR many days Sir Charleroy lay wounded at
the house of the Patriarch Harrimai, and
she for whom he had periled his life was
his constant attendant. He sorely needed
her services, and all Gerash, the priest included, con
ceded the fitness of Rizpah s rendering the aid she was
able to render. The maiden was all willing to minister,
and as she ministered her interest m the man deep
ened. When she began to look up to him as her teacher
before the battle with Mamelukes, she began a sort of
worship ; when she saw him fighting to the death in her
behalf, her worship became an engrossing adoration.
If there had been any thing more required in order to
From RamotJi Gilcad to Damascus. 1 83
enlist all the affection of which her being was capable,
these opportunities of administering to her suffering
lover furnished it. As God loves because He has
helped a needy one, so a woman s heart easily flows out
toward the object for whom she has performed pious
services. On the other hand, Sir Charleroy was more
and more enchanted, for there is life and charm beyond
all description to the touch of the queen of a man s
heart when he is in trouble or pain.
Rizpah, in woman s most queenly garb, the one ap
pointed her at her creation, that of " help-mate," was
beautiful indeed, and queenly indeed, to the man whose
heart had enthroned her. When alone, they treated
each other with the frank, earnest tenderness, fitting as
well as natural, to the betrothed. Though they did
not admit it even to themselves, they had fully deter
mined to be one, at all peril, in spite of any opposition,
reason approving or disapproving. They often said to
one another, " Our betrothal taking place at the very
gates of death was therefore a very solemn one that
nothing on earth can annul." The sentiment was per
fect and very agreeable; and with the.rn a beautiful
and agreeable sentiment became as controlling as if it
were a revelation from heaven. In this, they were
perfectly human. They even persuaded themselves of
God s favor, thanking Him for what they were pleased
to call His Providence, namely the peril and long sick
ness leading to the betrothal and days of love-life to
gether. They were right in conceding that God s hand
was in the battle ; but they were impious in interpret
ing His Providence to be fully in accord with their
desires. In this, too, they were very human. But there
were shadows about them ; for while at times they
1 84 The Queen of the House of David.
drifted along on prismatic tides of Lethean delights,
there were other times when they remembered that
there was to come a day of explanation, with probable
following storms. Both were glad and sorry at once, in
view of each day s improvement of the knight s physi
cal condition. Convalescent, they both realized, meant
a great change in their relationship ; perhaps a long
separation. Their anxiety was deepened by a change in
the demeanor of Rizpah s father. His eyes no longer
questioningly followed the young people ; but his words,
uttered in tones of steelly coldness and very deliber
ately, bespoke discovery, conviction, conclusion and
determination. One sentence often addressed to the
lovers, was to them like the rumblings of an approach
ing, gathering storm. " Our friend is improving, and
I m very glad that he will be able soon to go to his
own dear people." The lovers discerned a peculiar
emphasis on the words " I m glad " and " his own dear
people." The politic priest, having read, as from an
open book, the heart-secret of the young people, was
awaiting with self-confidence an opportunity to con
found them utterly. The crisis came one Sabbath
morning, just after the morning meal of the convales
cent. Harrimai had paid his usual visit and uttered his
steelly sentences. This time the words seemed espe
cially cruel to Rizpah, for she was nervous, indeed ill;
the prolonged services and anxieties she had experi
enced of late were telling on her strength. As Harri
mai departed, she gave way to a flood of tears. Riz
pah was not wont to weep, nor was Sir Charleroy
skilled in comforting; but both he and she were lovers,
hence it seemed very natural to her frankly to pillow
her head on the knight s shoulder, and very natural to
From Ramoth G Head to Damascus. 185
him to seek to comfort with a tenderness all new to
him. Had one asked Rizpah if she were going back to
babyishness, or forward toward heaven, she could
not have answered. Had one asked the knight if he
were becoming motherly, or turning priest, he could not
have answered. He felt very tender, and his work of
comforting seemed like an an act of high piety. Both
were glad of the tears which brought the joy of com
forting and being comforted, then, there and that way.
They were passing into a superb mood when quite un
expectedly to them, but quite expectedly to himself,
Harrimai suddenly re-entered the apartment. He
expected to surprise them and he did so, thoroughly.
The scene following was exciting, dramatic and
Rizpah, with a slight scream, disengaged herself
from Sir Charleroy s embrace, and hid her face in her
hands. The eyes of the knight and priest met ; neither
quailed ; both remained for a few moments silent ; but
their fixed gaze said plainly enough, each to each, " We
must have a settlement here and now ! " Harrimai
spoke first, addressing himself to his daughter : " Young
woman, this conduct is immodest and disgraceful! In
a Hebrew maiden, heaven defying ! I ll speak to thee
further of this presently. Now, begone, and leave me
to deal with this man ! " Harrimai made arrogant by
his profession and the implicit obedience he had been
wont to receive from his followers, expected to fill the
young people with dismay by the suddenness of his
assault. But Rizpah, though young, was no tongue-tied
spring, and Sir Charleroy of Gerash was still Sir Charle-
roy of Acre.
The words " dishonorable," "immodest," stung the
T/ie Queen of the I Tense of David.
maiden ; sullenly, defiantly almost, she settled bad-,
in her seat and leaned toward the knight, as if to say,
" I cast my lot with this man." Her eyes plainly, an
grily said to the man whom all her life hitherto she
had reverently obeyed, Now do thy worst." It was
impious, passionate, love going headlong from filial
duty and religious instruction to the shrine of Astarte.
The parent was chagrined at this unexpected repulse,
but with his usual adroitness pretending not to notice
it, he turned to the knight. " Stranger, this outrage ex
cuses abruptness on my part ; who art thou ? "
Sir Charleroy arose from his hammock, the excite