[Gray on Talisman continued:]
Having, by a bold speech, revived the drooping hopes of his brother Crusaders, and reproved the queen and his kinswoman for tampering with the Scot, Richard received him, disguised as a Nubian slave, as a present from Saladin, with whom he had been induced to spend several days. Shortly afterwards, as the king was reposing in his pavilion, the slave saved his life from the dagger of an assassin secretly employed by the grand-master, and intimated that he could discover the purloiner of the standard. A procession of the Christian armies and their leaders had already been arranged in token of amity to Richard; and as they marched past him, seated on horseback, with the slave holding the hound among his attendants, the dog suddenly sprang at the Marquis Conrade, who was thus convicted of having injured the animal, and betrayed his guilt by exclaiming, ‘I never touched the banner.’
Not being permitted to fight the Teuton himself, the king undertook to provide a champion, and Saladin to make all needful preparations for the combat Accompanied by Berengaria and Lady Edith, Richard was met by the Saracen with a brilliant retinue, and discovered, in the person of his entertainer, the physician who had cured his fever, and saved Sir Kenneth, whom he found prepared to do battle for him on the morrow, with the hermit as his confessor. The encounter took place soon after sunrise, in the presence of the assembled hosts, and Conrade, who was wounded and unhorsed, was tended by the Sultan in the grandmaster’s tent, while the victorious knight was unarmed by the royal ladies, and made known by Richard as the Prince Royal of Scotland. At noon the Sultan welcomed his guests to a banquet, but, as the grand-master was raising a goblet to his lips, Necbatanus uttered the words accipe hoc, and Saladin decapitated the templar with his sabre; on which the dwarf explained that, hidden behind a curtain, he had seen him stab his accomplice the Marquis of Montserrat, obviously to prevent him from revealing their infamous plots, while he answered his appeal for mercy in the words he had repeated. The next day the young prince was married to Lady Edith, and presented by the Sultan with his talisman, the Crusade was abandoned, and Richard, on his way homewards, was imprisoned by the Austrians in the Tyrol.
An Analysis of The Talisman.
Scott’s display of his knowledge of Islamic lore, customs and history begins with the title. A Talisman, according to the Oxford English Dictionary [O.E.D.], is “A stone, ring, or other object engraven with figures or characters, to which are attributed the occult powers of the planetary influences and celestial configurations under which it was made; usually worn as an amulet to avert evil from or bring fortune to the wearer; also medicinally used to impart healing virtue; hence, any object held to be endowed with magic virtue; a charm.”
The O.E.D., in fact, quotes Scott’s novel for one use of the term, which is thought to derive from the Arabic á¹ilsam, in the same sense, as the Greek Ï„ÎÎ»ÎµÏƒÂµÎ± telesm; though the final -an is not accounted for.
To be continued.