Page 1337

1337 THE CRUSADES-THE FIRST CRUSADE.

of wood upon the pilgrim warriors who

battered the ramparts. So resolute was the

defense that after twelve hours of hard fighting the Crusaders were obliged to fall back,

amidst the taunts and insults of those who

manned the turrets.

With both Christians and Moslems the

crisis had now come. With both it was

conquer or perish. The former were peculiarly pressed by the situation. A pigeon

flying towards the city was intercepted with

a letter under its wings, and the Crusaders

were made aware that armies of Saracens

were gathering for the relief of the city. It

was therefore determined to continue the

assault on the morrow. With early morning

the engines were again advanced to the walls,

and the Christians rushed forward to the

attack. For a long time it could hardly be

known whether the assault or the defense

was made with greater obstinacy. In some

parts the walls gave way before the thundering blows of the machines built by the Genoese

engineers; but the garrison threw down

straw and other yielding material to prevent

the strokes of the battering rams from taking effect. In one place, however, a huge

catapult played havoc with all resistance,

and a breach was about to be effected, when

two Saracen witches were sent to interpose

their charms to the work of destruction.

But the insensate monster hammered away

with no regard to their spells and incantations. The Moslems saw their prophetesses

perish as though the unseen world had nothing to do with war.

Still, for the time, the Crusaders could not

break into the city. The Saracens found

that fire was more potent than witchcraft

as a means of resisting wooden engines.

They threw down burning materials upon

the catapults, and several of them were

consumed. On the afternoon of the second

day it seemed as if the Christians would

again be driven back. They were well-nigh

exhausted with heat and fatigue. They

weltered and bled in the dust outside the

walls. Just as they were wavering and about

to retreat, Godfrey, who throughout the siege

and assault had more than ever distinguished

himself by his heroism, resorted to the usual

expedient to revive the drooping courage

of his followers. Looking up to Mount

Olivet, he beheld there a mighty horseman waving on high a buckler. "Behold!" cried

the hero, "St. George comes again to our

aid and makes a signal for us to enter the

Holy City." Dieu ie Veut! responded the

Crusaders, springing forward with unconquerable purpose. As on the field before

Antioch, when the celestial warriors came to

the rescue, so now the dust covered, heat oppressed Christians became suddenly invincible. With an irresistible impulse they rushed

to the wall and renewed the onset. The rampart broke before them. Tradition recites that

Reimbault of Crete was the first to mount the

wall. Godfrey followed. Then came Eustace

with a host of warriors and knights. Clouds

of smoke mixed with dust and flame arose on

every hand as the victorious Crusaders broke

over all opposition and poured into the city.

The Saracens gave way before them. They

retreated through the streets, fighting at intervals until they were driven into the precincts of the Mosque of Omar. Blood flowed in the gutters, and horrid heaps of the dead

lay piled at every corner. None were spared

by the frenzied Christians, who saw in the

gore of the Infidels the white Way of Redemption. Ten thousand dead, scattered through

the city, gave token of the merciless spirit of

the men of the West. Another ten thousand

were heaped in the reeking courts of the great

mosque on Mount Moriah. "God wills it,"

said the pilgrims.

The indiscriminate butchery of the Saracens was carried out by the rank and file of

the Crusading army. In this bloody work

they needed no incentive-no commander.

Each sword flamed with hatred until it

was cooled in the dripping life of the enemies

of Christ. As for Godfrey, he was missed

from the slaughter. Another sentiment had

taken possession of his breast. As soon as

he saw the city in the hands of his followers,

he remembered the Holy Sepulcher. He

stripped himself of his armor and went barefoot to the spot where the victim of Pilate

and the Jews had been laid eleven centuries

ago. There on his knees the great Crusader

bowed and worshipped for a season, while his

followers completed the extermination of the

Saracens.