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not fancy, but reality. How know we but it may not be a device of the enemy of all, to ruin your happiness ?—If such things are permitted, nothing more likely than that he should attempt them."
There was a pause of nearly a minute. At last Theodora spoke.
'Edward," she said, "I will trust you now, as I have trusted you till now."
"Thank you, dearest one," he replied. "Whatever. happens; God bless you here and for ever!" and he pressed her to his heart.
"Farewell, my lord!" cried Maria Choniatis. "I will not leave her alone again."
De Rushton hurried out. It was now nearly two o'clock and, as he mounted the ramparts, he noticed the first faint silver streak of day break over Galata. Passing along towards Port S. Peter, he met the Emperor with Phranza.
"The very man!" cried Constantine. "My lord, Gennadius is even now preaching to a large crowd on the Contoscalion. Will you go, and desire him to retire to his monastery? If the supernatural assistance which he promises is not to come till we are driven into S. Sophia's, it follows that the less resistance, the speedier rescue and be well assured that so the populace will take it."
"I go, Sire," replied De Rushton. "But perhaps the Lord Phranza will look to the Phanar gate: notwithstanding all we have done to it, it is reported not safe: and I have desired the smiths to attend to it." "I will, De Rushton," replied Phranza. "But pray you, lose no time, for the mischief this man does is incredible."
"I will go with you," said the Emperor: "it is an important post."
As they were hastening along the ramparts, Burstow came up to them. "Another message, Sire, from the Turkish Camp: I have the billet with me, the bird is in the guard-house."
"Why, that may tell us of some change of plan," cried "Where is the nearest light ?"
"At Port S. Peter's, Sire," replied Burstow.
"Give me the letter then, and follow us," said Constantine. "If we were on the other wall, those fires would give us light enough to read it."
They reached the Port, and entered the guard-house. The man, who seemed to be on the alert, received the Emperor with the usual reverence.
"Be so good," said Constantine, "as to leave us here for a few moments. I have a despatch to read.”
The guards withdrew: and then the Cæsar cutting the string which fastened the billet, eagerly read it.
"The Emperor,"—such was its tenour,-"is informed that the Sultan has promised his troops three days' plunder of the city, with no other restrictions than that of the public places;-the persons and property of the inhabitants to be alike at their disposal. The soldier that shall first mount the walls, is to be rewarded with the government of any province of the Empire at his option. This notice is given in order that the inhabitants of Constantinople may not be deluded into expecting quarter, if it be taken by storm :-the Sultan's word being pledged to the contrary."
"This must be known," said Constantine, at once. "Nothing can be more useful in exciting them to resist to the last."
"Assuredly, Sire," said Phranza. And he thought bitterly of the increased danger to which Theodora would be exposed.
"Guard!" cried the Emperor. The corporal of the watch entered and made the ordinary obeisance.
"Corporal," said Constantine, "I have received intelligence that Mahomet has promised his troops three days' sack of the city, without a single restriction of private property or persons. What you have to expect, you know what your wives and daughters, too, have to look for. I should wish this to be known to the several posts, --and by their means, generally."
"Shall I send immediately, Sire ?"
"Such is our wish," replied the Cæsar.
"Demetrius," said the corporal,-" go you with this message as far as S. Nicetas' bastion, and tell them that
it is the Emperor's pleasure it be passed on. You, Lucas, as far as the Contoscalion, and bid them in like manner send it forward."
"We will beat them yet, please GOD, Sire!"
"Forgive, brave dead, the imperfect lay !
A BRIGHT, blue morning. The leaves rustling and dancing in light: the southerly breeze breathing gently from the Asiatic shore: larks in the air; the glad waves of the Bosphorus dancing as if for joy: the dew thick on lawn and bush; all nature waking up to the beauty of a May sunrise.
For the sun is not yet risen: there are hues of gold and crimson in the East, that announce his coming; even now the clouds that wander through the sky like sheep, are testifying his approach; even now grey is kindling into purple, and purple brightening into fire, but he himself is yet below the horizon.
Dark, terrible squares of infantry, half-moons of cavalry, engines of unknown names and hideous shapes; piles of fascines, trenches, embankments, parallels; labourers plying the spade or pickaxe; carts rattling up with fresh loads of earth; here and there the quick sharp roll of a drum,-then the echo of a fife; further to the north-east, the distant blast of a trumpet; troops moving nearer to the bastions; files deploying into lines: lines connecting themselves into one extended girth of the city: the rabble of the army in the fore front; Croat and Bulgarian, the hunter of the steppes of Bessarabia, and the fisherman of the sea of Azof, the wild sons of Dalmatia, the banditti-like troops of Bosnia, the slim, dark, sallow Ar
menian; the brawny Wallachian, the well-knit, agile Arabian; the indolent Anatolian. Such was the scene to the north of the city, from the Seven Towers to the bastion of S. Nicetas.
On the walls, soldiers crowded closely together; the Roman forces thinly scattered among Varangian, Frank, and Barbarian: banners fluttering,-crosses glistening, -chiefs marshalling the defence,-engineers directing the balista, the captains of the guns pointing their artillery,-trumpets braying,-bells pealing, drays rolling through the streets with fresh cargoes of stones,— armourers riveting up armour,-knights once more hurrying round their posts,-here and there a monk exhorting to martyrdom,-here and there a wife reluctantly tearing herself from the arms of her husband,—a low, hushed tumult through the city,-streets empty,-roofs crowded,-churches thronged,—(the tidings of the three days' sack had spread like the Greek fire,)—mothers and daughters,―men on the verge of the grave, and boys scarce able to take care of themselves,-all laboured in tearing up paving stones and loading the carts.
To the east, the galleys resting close under the walls; their dark shadows dancing on the green waters of the Horn. Heaps on heaps of scaling ladders; piles on piles of pole-axes; wheel-locks; match-locks; snaphaunces; quick-match for the cannon; flints for the guns: the opposite side of the harbour deserted; boats plying busily from galley to galley; the Genoese arms flying from the Castle of Galata.
The sun is fast coming to the horizon.
Close to the Tower of S. Romanus stood the Emperor, Justiniani, one or two of the Domestics, the Archbishop of Chalcedon, Choniates, and Sir Edward de Rushton; the latter of whom remained with the Cæsar till the last moment. The Emperor that day wore chain armour, with his head defended by the coif-de-malles; just as a crusader might have done two hundred and fifty years before. As to the Acolyth, he was in a plain suit of plate; epaulieres on his shoulders; palettes below the arm-pit; from hip to thigh he wore taces of six lames; his knees were defended by genouailles; his feet by.
pointed sollerets; his hands by gauntlets, that had gadlings; his head by a plain bonnet, from which hung a tippet of mail; the sword-belt alone was ornamented with golden quatrefoils. His father had worn this suit at Agincourt, and his son wore it now. Manuel Chrysolaras was there; but he was not equal to the fatigue of armour, so he contented himself with a light helmet, and a Venetian brigandine.
"Gentlemen," said Constantine, "to your charges! and GOD be with you! My Lord of Chalcedon, we recommend ourselves to your prayers. It cannot be two minutes before the sun rises; and with the morning gun, I suppose, they charge."
As he spoke, there was a singular motion in the foremost line, compared afterwards by those that saw it, to the spiral twisting of a rope when suddenly stretched out to its full extent. The next moment, with one long loud discordant yell, combining a hundred languages in one shout, all round the city the lines fell in, commencing the general assault by sea and land. The cannons thundered from the galleys,-the balista whizzed from the walls,-smoke rose high and volumed thick,―a thousand shouts mingled together, multitudes, multitudes poured into the ditch: men and fascines rolled into it together, the hinder ranks poured over the former, themselves poured over by the hindmost, treading and trodden on, crushing and crushed,-the breath of life trampled out of the bodies that served but as a bridge, the ditches gradually filling with a mingled jelly of flesh, clay, and broken faggots. Volleys of stones from above,-men hurrying on with rocks for the insatiable balistæ,-Varangians gorging cannon with their deadly load,-marksmen aiming at the foremost assailants,-a Babel of broken orders, hurried exhortations, shrieks, screams, execrations, shouts.
Bid them point the artillery better from S. Nicholas's bastion, Justiniani." "I will, my liege.' "Out of the way there! Out of the way-red hot shot!"-" Captain, another dray towards S. Margaret's bastion; they have no stones.""I have none to spare."-" Where shall I get one ?"-" God knows"-whirr, whirr, from