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One was instantly brought; and followed by the whole party, some on horseback, and some on foot, but no one waiting for his neighbour, he galloped down to the entrance of the Horn, by the Fish Market Gate, where the chain was stapled on to the city side of the harbour. It was a strange seene that there met him. The S. Francis and her companion were now safely riding at anchor, close under the walls: the ramparts were crowded with Genoese sailors eagerly expatiating on the voyage from Chios, on the dangers of the fight, and as eagerly listened to by such as were fortunate enough to understand Italian, while those who did not were fain to pick up such brief and unsatisfactory explanations as their brethren could or would afford them. A broad bridge of planks was formed from the deck to the shore: men passed and repassed on it, staggering along under the weight of barrels of flour, sacks of beans, pease, or millet, and, equally welcome to the timorous population of Constantinople, kegs of gunpowder: oxen were lowing in the open space of the Fish Market; sheep were being driven off to the public stalls; the Great Logothete was giving directions for the safe bestowal and proper arrangement of the provisions; and the various officers of the Genoese inquiring into the accommodations provided for, and the duties at once falling on, themselves and their As Constantine rode along, one long shout of "The Cæsar! The Cæsar! The Virgin the Protectress!" rolled along the crowd, till he arrived at the spot where the chief interest was concentrated.
Close to the sea shore a rock of immense size had been embedded in the ground; a staple, the thickness of two men's bodies, welded into it: the enormous chain that swept the Horn fastened on to this by a staple bar of polished and well-oiled steel. Round this a band of
workmen were assembled: Contari was at their head: five or six smiths with bare brawny arms stood leaning on their sledgehammers and waiting for the signal to drive out the staple-others there were by the great crane, to which the chain was attached by cables, so as to be pulled up again, and replaced when necessary.
And now the S. Irene appeared full in view, having well rounded the Point; but still engaged in a running fight with the pursuing galleys. Close behind her was the Unicorn, while the sturdy Bucentaur bore the brunt of the battle, and kept off the most importunate of the enemy.
"A near thing, sire," said Contari, briefly.
"They can hardly fail now," replied Constantine.
"The devil himself cannot prevent them," cried the lieutenant. "Stand off! my masters! Stand off! We shall want room anon."
"She is throwing them well behind," said Choniates. "Look! he is sending the men aft."
"Ay, ay," quoth Contari: "he knows his businessso do we ours. Cranemaster, slacken your cable."
The action of the crane was reversed; the cable ran out, and lay in a useless coil on the sand; the men stood to their winches; and all was expectation, till Contari should give the signal.
And now every face in the approaching vessel could be clearly distinguished; and the Cæsar, raising the jewelled cap from his head, himself set the example in the lusty cheer that followed. Wives pressed frantically to catch a sight of their husbands,-fathers of their sons, -maidens of their lovers,-and still it was the same cry, "S. George the Callinicus! The Virgin the Protectress!" But above all, the clear voice of Contari rang out,"Now, my masters!" Instantly the sledges were in
the air the strokes fell in measured order: bang, bang, went the iron upon the steel; the panting of the workmen was heard in the intervals of the strokes, and mingled with the shouts of the captain and mariners,—— "Keep her off two points"-"Ay, ay, sir"-" Steady now!"-"Steady it is!" and the roar of the waters round the prow.
The staple fell-and lashing the waters into fury, the chain dashed into the sea, while the slackened cable of the crane ran out taut, and the men leant on the winches to keep it from passing too far.
"Slack away, men! slack away!" shouted Contari— "she draws. more water."
As he spoke, a volley of spent arrows from the foremost Turkish galley fell harmlessly around.
"Helm hard a-lee!" roared Captain Bulgari. And on glided the S. Irene, over the white path where the chain had sunk. And, in two minutes more, amidst deafening cheers, her companions were also in safety.
Baltha Ogli had done his worst. He put his galley about, and fled, slowly followed by the rest of the Turkish vessels. And that evening, as if by way of farce to the tragedy of the morning, his Royal Master, in the presence of all the Pashas, administered corporal chastisement to him with a golden rod, five pounds in weight.
"And must the day, so fair that rose,
Must it, ere heighth of noon, divide
The bridegroom and the plighted bride ?''
A CALM, bright evening in May.
Lady of the Lake.
At the western gates of the church of the Eternal
Wisdom well nigh all the aristocracy of Constantinople were assembled. There was Constantine himself, with that noble, but now worn and anxious countenance, forcing itself to assume an expression of cheerfulness; there was many a dissolute nobleman of the Imperial city, in the scarlet mantle yet glittering with gems and gold; there was many a fair face and a bright eye; for the loveliness as well as the chivalry of Byzantium was there; Phranza, and Lucas Notaras, and Justiniani, and other names of note, held a prominent place in the crowd; but all clustered round the bridal pair, whose "coronation" they had met to celebrate. The betrothment and the marriage were to take place at one and the same time; every day was now precious, for it was known that, undeterred by the arrival of the Genoese fleet, Mahomet meant to continue the siege. The fairest maidens of Constantinople were proud to attend on Theodora Phranza, and were flinging roses before her, from silver baskets, as attired in the white silk pallium, and long veil, and attended by her two bridesmaids, she moved forward to the porch. Then came the Frank knight; young Manuel Notaras was the paranymph: friends and acquaintance clustered in behind and around; a picked guard of Varangians attended; the crowd filled the great square of S. Sophia; and so they awaited the opening of the silver gates.
Back they rolled on their noiseless hinges: and there, in his glorious phenolion, stood the Archbishop of Chalcedon, ready for the holy office. And so the sweet Litany began: closer and closer the circle drew to the porch; till the Prelate, taking the golden ring, declared that "the servant of GOD, Edward, was betrothed to the handmaid of GOD, Theodora, in the. Name of the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY GHOST, now and ever,
and to ages of ages." And then, with the silver ring, he in like manner gave Theodora to De Rushton as his promised bride.
Darkness was gathering over the earth, as with lighted tapers in their hands, the bridal pair, and then the rest of the company, entered that great Cathedral. Onward they went till they stood before the jewelled screen; and then the office of Matrimonial Coronation began. For the servants of GOD, now to be crowned, the prayer arose ; for their wealth, prosperity, and salvation; that the blessing of Cana of Galilee might descend upon them, and that they might be preserved in peace to their lives' end. And then, bringing forth the coronets of gold, the Archbishop crowned them, in the Name of the Holy TRINITY, for each other," now and ever, and to ages of ages."
Even while the final Litany was chanting, a low buzz might have been heard among the crowd around: voices grew louder and louder: there was rapid questioning, and still more rapid answering; till at length Burstow, who commanded the division of the guards then in attendance, hastily entered the Cathedral. Advancing towards the bridal party, he found them drinking from the common cup, which the Archbishop was holding forth to them.
"Most gracious Emperor," cried he, kneeling, "I shall report a miracle. The fleet of Mahomet is in full sail across the dry land to the upper part of the harbour." "It is sorcery," cried the Archbishop.
"It is impossible," said the Emperor.
"I do assure your Majesty," said Burstow, earnestly, "that it is the very truth. I had it from one who could not fancy, and would not deceive; Lieutenant Contari."
"We will hear him ourselves," replied the Palæologus, "but not here. Bid him attend us in the sacristy. My Lord Archbishop, let this holy rite be concluded."