Red Eve by H. Rider Haggard

“It has served our turn,” said Hugh, glancing back at it from the other side of the deserted square, “but oh, I pray heaven that we may never see that charnel-house again!”

As he spoke a figure appeared from the shadow of a doorway, and ran toward them. Thinking it was that of some foe, Dick lifted his axe to cut him down, whereon a voice cried in English:

“Hold! I am David!”

“David!” exclaimed Hugh. “Then thanks be to God, for know, we thought you dead these many days.”

“Ay, sir,” answered the young man, “as I thought you. The rumour reached the Jews, among whom I have been hiding while I recovered of my hurts, that the Mad Monk and his fellows had stormed the tower and killed you both. Therefore I crept out to learn for myself. Now I have found you by your voices, who never again hoped to look upon you living,” and he began to sob in his relief and joy.

“Come on, lad,” said Grey Dick kindly “this is no place for greetings.”

“Whither go you, sir?” asked David as he walked forward alongside of the horses.

“To seek that house where we saw Sir Andrew Arnold and the lady Eve,” answered Hugh, “if by any chance it can be found.”

“That is easy, sir,” said David. “As it happens, I passed it not much more than an hour ago and knew it again.”

“Did you see any one there?” asked Hugh eagerly.

“Nay, the windows were dark. Also the Jew guiding me said he had heard that all who dwelt in that house were dead of the plague. Still of this matter he knew nothing for certain.”

Hugh groaned, but only answered:


As they went David told them his story. It seemed that when he was struck down in the square where the crazy friar preached, and like to be stabbed and trampled to death, some of the Jews dragged him into the shadow and rescued him. Afterward they took him to a horrid and squalid quarter called La Juiverie, into which no Christian dare enter. Here he lay sick of his hurts and unable to get out until that very afternoon; the widow Rebecca, whom they had saved, nursing him all the while.

“Did you hear aught of us?” asked Dick.

“Ay, at first that you were holding Dead Bride’s Tower bravely. So as soon as I might, I came to join you there if I could win in and you still lived. But they told me that you had fallen at last.”

“Ah!” said Dick, “well, as it chances it was not we who fell, but that tale is long. Still, David, you are a brave lad who would have come to die with us, and my master will thank you when he can give his mind to such things. Say, did you hear aught else?”

“Ay, Dick; I heard two days ago that the French lord, Cattrina, whom Sir Hugh was to have fought at Venice, had left Avignon, none knew why or whither he went.”

“Doubtless because of the plague and he wished to go where there was none,” answered Dick.

But Hugh groaned again, thinking to himself that Acour would scarcely have left Avignon if Eve were still alive within its walls.

After this they went on in silence, meeting very few and speaking with none, for the part of the great city through which they passed seemed to be almost deserted. Indeed in this quarter the pest was so fearful that all who remained alive and could do so had fled elsewhere, leaving behind them only the sick and those who plundered houses.

“One thing I forgot to say,” said David presently. “The Jews told me that they had certain information that the notary knave Basil was paid by the lord Cattrina to lead us to that square where the fires burned in order that we might be murdered there. Further, our death was to be the signal for the massacre of all the Jews, only, as it chanced, their plan went awry.”

“As will Basil’s neck if ever I meet him again,” muttered Grey Dick beneath his breath. “Lord! what fools we were to trust that man. Well, we’ve paid the price and, please God, so shall he.”

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Categories: Haggard, H. Rider