Crusade by Laird Elizabeth

Crusade by Laird Elizabeth

Author:Laird, Elizabeth [Laird, Elizabeth]
Language: eng
Format: epub
ISBN: 9780330477840
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00

Salim couldn’t conceal his pride and excitement as he watched the Mamluk troop trot back into camp. He cheered them, and joined with everyone else in the hoots and jeers of derision at the sight of the four Frankish knights who had been taken prisoner. Helmetless but still in their coats of mail, they were trussed up like chickens and lying across their saddles.

There had been one death. The body of the Mamluk was carried reverently in on a pallet, wrapped in a simple linen cloth, and arrangements were made for his immediate burial. Everyone stood in silence as the little cortège passed by. No one had expected the Franks to fight back quite so fiercely. There was a feeling that the ambush had been worth it, but only just.

It had not been the only action that day. Saladin had ordered small raids and attacks all along the Crusader lines. The action had come as a relief to everyone.

‘The sooner we show these criminals what they can expect, the sooner we can all go home,’ the soldiers muttered, but without much conviction. In spite of their half-starved, miserable condition, the Crusaders had resisted ferociously, and there had been Saracen casualties, with fewer Crusader prisoners than had been expected.

A steady trickle of wounded had been coming in all day. Most of the wounds were from arrows, but there were also men with hideous gashes from swords and lances. They had been sent straight to the field hospital, where surgeons, summoned by Saladin in readiness for the coming season of war, had set up beds and trained orderlies in the care of wounds.

‘God be thanked,’ Dr Musa said, as the injured were carried past his tent. ‘A doctor is a doctor and a surgeon is a surgeon. Fish is not fowl, nor fowl fish.’

‘But none of them could have saved Ismail, the way you did,’ Salim objected. He had secretly imagined himself sharing the glory of Dr Musa’s amazing exploits in the saving of heroes’ lives.

‘Patching up fools so that they can rush back into battle again – so that’s what medicine means to you, is it? No, my boy. The inner workings of the body, its humours, its marvellous mechanisms – understanding and regulating – that’s our art. Art, do you hear me?’

Ismail, nursing a mangled hand, had been taken to the hospital, but had walked straight out of it again, and come to find Dr Musa. He looked pale and sorrowful.

‘I don’t trust them in there,’ he said. ‘You fixed me up brilliantly last time. Please, ya-hakim, help me.’

Dr Musa, sighed, pushed his turban straight, then took the hand Ismail was holding out to him and bent to study it.

‘What’s this? Teeth marks? The Christians bite when they fight? I knew they were barbarians, but this . . . !’

‘No, no.’ Ismail shook his head. ‘It wasn’t a man. It was a dog. A monster! The size of a lion, honestly. I had hold of an infidel’s horse by the bridle.


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