The Robbers of Egypt 2
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But she, hastily running to the young man, embraced him, wept for sorrow, kissed him, wiped away his blood and made pitiful moan, scarcely believing that she held him in her arms. Which things when the Egyptians had seen, they turned their opinions: “And are these,” said they, “the works of a goddess? Would a goddess kiss a dead man with such compassion?” They determined therefore with themselves that it was best to take heart of grace, and draw near to find out the truth. When they had therefore encouraged each other a little, they ran down and found the maid busy in dressing the young man’s wounds, and coming behind her, suddenly stood still, and durst neither speak nor do anything more for their lives.
When she heard the noise around her, and saw their shadows before her eyes, she lifted herself up a little and looked back, but then at once stooped down again, no whit dismayed by the strange color of their skin, nor yet abashed to see the thieves in harness, but applying herself only to bind up his wounds that lay before her. Such is the force of earnest desire and true love: it despiseth all outward chances, be they pleasant or otherwise, only beholding that which it loveth, and thereabout bestowed all diligence and travail. But when the thieves passed by and stood before her, and seemed as though they would enterprise somewhat, she lifted herself up again and beholding them black and ill-favored, said: “If you be the spirits of those who are slain here, you trouble us wrongfully, for most of you were slain by your own hands.
As for us, if we slew any, we did it but in our own defense to repel the violence which was proffered to my virginity. But if you be men alive, it seemed you are thieves, and you have come here in good season. Rid us, I pray, from these present miseries, and by death finish this our unhappy tragedy.” Thus did she sorrowfully lament. But they, not understanding what she said, left them there, accounting their weakness a sufficient guard, and hastened to the ship, and brought out that which was in the same, paying no regard to other things whereof therein was great store, but every man bearing out as much as he could, of gold, silver, precious stones and silk. And when they thought they had enough, and there was such plenty as might satisfy even a thief’s greed, laying their booty on the shore, they fell to dividing it into portions such as they could carry, not according to the worth and value of what they had, but contenting themselves with equality of weight. As for the young man and the maid, they would take order for them afterwards.
In the meantime, another company of thieves, whereof two horsemen were captains, came toward them: which thing as soon as those saw that had been there before, having no courage to oppose them, they ran away as fast as they could, without taking with them any part of the prey, that they might give their enemy no occasion to pursue them. For they were in number but ten, and those who came upon them were three times as many. And so the maid and her companion, though not yet prisoners, were again in durance.
But the robbers, although they were eager for the spoil, yet, partly because they knew not what those things signified which they saw, and partly also for fear, stayed themselves a while, thinking that the former slaughter had been made by the thieves that had been there before. But when they beheld the maid in her fine foreign dress, who despised the dangers that hung over her head as if they had been none, and altogether employed her care to ease the young man’s wounds, taking his grief as heavily as her own sorrow they not only marveled at her beauty and high spirit but were wonderfully moved by the comeliness of the wounded San’s person, buch was the seemhness of his countenance, and tallness of his stature as he lay before them. For by this time he was a little mended, and his person had recovered its old handsomeness again. At length after they had beheld them a good while, he drew neafwho was S and laid hand on the maid, and bade her arise and follow him.
She has understood not what he said, conjecturing what he wished her, himself holding her fast, and pointing with a knife to her breast, threatened that she would kill herself if they carried them not away both together. Which thing when e master, partly by her talk but more plainly by her gesture, under- stood, hoping also to use the young man’s help in great affairs when he recovered, he ahghted himself from his horse and commanded his harness-bearer likewise so to do, and set his prisoners upon them. Then thered up the Prey to follow them. He himself like a lackey ran by their side and stayed them upright if by reason of their infirmity they were likely to fall. Surelv this deed not without glory; for he who was their master now waited upon them, and he who took them prisoners was content to serve them. Such is the impres. Mon that nobility makes, and such the force of comeliness, which can subdue the disposition of thieves and bring under the wild and savage.