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but he was met by Raymond Roger, at the head of his gallant knights and citizens, who, during a combat of two hours, repulsed the enemy. The suburb was, however, weakly fortified, in comparison with other quarters, and at length its defenders abandoned it, retiring into the second suburb, which de Montfort also attempted to carry, but in vain. For the space of eight days the young Viscount made good his position, continually driving back, with considerable loss, the besieging body. At the end of that time, he deliberately fired the buildings that composed it, so depriving the enemy of any advantage that they might have derived from its possession ; and leaving it a mass of smoking ruin, he retreated into the city.
Imagination would fain picture the throng of anxious faces that looked down from the rampart-walls upon their gallant chief and his companions in arms, while thus holding at bay the ferocious conquerors of Beziers. There were many whose dearest earthly ties had there been cut asunder by the Crusader's sword, without having even fallen under the suspicion of disloyalty to Rome; and many others who were more than willing to shed their own life-blood in testimony to the faith of the gospel, witnessing against her abominations. There was not one, perhaps, who did not feel a personal, loving interest in the noble Raymond Roger ; and it would be little short of sinful unbelief to doubt that the supplications offered on his behalf, through the alone Name of the all-sufficient Saviour, were heard and answered in the revelation of the Son of God to his soul. Once more, having abandoned the useless suburb, Raymond found himself in the midst of his people ; and with full purpose of heart he prepared to defend the stout ramparts of Carcassonne.
But flesh and blood were not all against which he had to contend : it was an hour when the powers of darkness had permission to prevail against the Lord's people, and against their honest-hearted protector. Inured as we are to contemplate the dark deeds of papal perfidy, glorying in its deepest shame, there is still that in the villainy perpetrated against the young Count, that kindles afresh the flame of indignation, extorting the apostrophe addressed to a minor criminal of old, “O full of all subtlety and mischief, thou child of the devil, thou enemy of all righteousness, wilt thou not cease to pervert the right ways of the Lord !”
The sovereign to whom Raymond Roger had vowed fealty, was Peter II., King of Arragon, who was also his uncle ; and though a slave to the papacy in spiritual matters, still alive to the cruel injustice done to the young noble; and to the perfidy of the Count of Toulouse, whose presence here and at Beziers must not be forgotten. The Spanish king, repairing to the camp, addressed himself to this unhappy nobleman, who had married his sister, and urged him to unite in an effort on Raymond Roger's behalf, offering to act as mediator between the parties. The legate, to whom of course the proposal was communicated, gladly availed himself of such unexpected means for obtaining information of what was going on within the city, accepted the good offices of the king, and issued orders for the suspension of hostilities while the royal negociator was engaged in his humane task. It was a spectacle of moving interest to the harassed sufferers, the approach of their monarch. Walls and bastions, turrets and platforms were thronged by eager gazers : the marksmen stood prepared, alert on the watch to detect any movement of treachery in the camp ; but all was quiet there. Car
cassonne presented one living mass of anxious, yet trusting and undismayed inhabitants, while the drawbridge clanked heavily as it fell, the dark portcullis slowly rose, the massive bolts of successive gates were withdrawn, and the dense body of armed men fell partially back, opening a sufficient space for the king and his few attendants to pass on. The heart of Peter, already awakening to a sympathy with his persecuted people which ultimately led him to yield his life in the battle against Rome, now swelled as he received their loyal greetings, and yearned with paternal love towards the noble young man who knelt at his feet in affectionate homage.
Having ascertained from the Viscount his willingness to submit to any fair and honourable terms of capitulation, for the sake of the helpless multitudes who had taken refuge there, and who must perish in a protracted siege, as already they had begun to do, under the presence of terror, sickness and privation, but for whom,' said Raymond, 'I swear to your Majesty that I and my own people would rather die of famine than surrender to the legate,' Peter returned to the camp ; and, strangely ignorant of the spirit of those with whom he had to deal, endeavoured by representing the young noble's extremity, together with his elevated self-devotion, to kindle in the bosoms of Rome's delegates what Rome never knew-compassion for the afflicted, and sympathy with the generous. Arnold Amalric, rejoiced to have engaged so useful though unconscious a tool for his iniquitous designs, heard the king out ; then, as a matter of special grace to his Majesty's kinsman, yielded permission for Raymond Roger to select twelve individuals, with whom he might quit the city unmolested ; but the sacred cause of the most holy Church
demanded that with this exception, all should be abandoned to her
mercy ! Dark and sad was the brow of the kingly mediator as he re-entered the gates, flung wide with joyous alacrity to admit his returning steps ; and sorely did his royal spirit writhe beneath the fetter of papal bondage, as he delivered to the Viscount the mocking message with which he was charged. All the generous ardour of Raymond Roger's character was roused into a flame : he looked round on the terrified multitude, who had too truly read in the king's countenance the failure of his mission; he looked on the faithful companions who had fought beside him every day, and patiently held with him the long night's watch ; and while the glow of indignation mantled his cheek, he answered with vehement energy, "Rather will I submit to be flayed alive. The legate shall not have at his mercy the least of my companions ; of these who, for my sake, have braved the dangers that surround us.'
Instead of urging the acceptance of Arnold's insolent terms, the king of Aragon warmly applauded his nephew's reply; and then, turning to the knights and citizens, who gathered eagerly around him, he exhorted them to defend themselves, as the only alternative; seeing what they had to expect in the event of surrendering. Surely as that monarch repassed the drawbridge of Carcassonne he must have felt the iron of Rome's despotism entering his very soul. So, sooner or later, will all do, who lend their power to the beast, or even suspend the resistance on which depends their self-preservation. The king of Arragon, as he bore back, with a forced semblance of personal courtesy, that noble defiance to the inflated priest, must have envied the exalted position of the poorest citizen who
had barred the gate on his retreating steps. A fearful account have those monarchs to render who connive at the spread, or even at the existence of the papal usurpation over souls committed to their parental charge !
Scarcely had the king quitted the legate’s gorgeous pavilion, making known what every one was fully prepared to hear, ere a fresh and furious assault was made upon the walls of Carcassonne. With ferocious shoutings, cheering on each other to the work, the army brought faggots, which they cast into the ditches, endeavouring so to fill the chasm, and form a path to the ramparts. Very little opposition was offered, and they reached the walls, intending to scale them ; when a sudden deluge of water and oil, heated to a boiling pitch, with masses of stone, bars of iron, and missiles of every description, were hurled them from above; and this was repeated as often as they rallied to the charge, until many lay slain, and serious discouragement manifested itself in the host, who considered that their stipulated work was to murder and to plunder, not to wage equal war with men of courage and of strength. Confident assurances of a miraculous interposition had been spread among them, to heighten their fanatic zeal; recollection that their forty days' engagement was well nigh expired, combined with the spectacle of their slaughtered comrades beneath the walls, began to operate so unfavourably that the crafty legate perceived he must strike a final blow, or behold the escape of a prey that he could not endure to lose. Employing the arts that rarely fail, he so won over a gentleman in his retinue whom he knew to be a kinsman and early friend of Raymond Roger, as to induce him to become a decoy for that right-minded young man ; who, on his part, desired nothing so much as to obtain for his compa