Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
Sir Kenneth, the Knight of the Couchant Leopard, is one of the knights who follows King Richard the Lion-Hearted to the Holy Land during the Third Crusade. At the time, Richard is ill with a fever, and the Council of Kings and Princes has sent Kenneth on a mission to Theodorick of Engaddi, a religious hermit who acts as a go-between for both Christians and Muslims. Richard is not aware of the mission, for the other leaders in the Crusade are jealous of him and his power, and they resent his high-handed methods and his conceit. In the desert, Kenneth meets and fights with a Saracen, an infidel who does not know at first that Kenneth carries a pass from Saladin, the leader of the Muslims. Neither warrior is injured in the fight, and since at the time there is a truce between the Christians and the Muslims, they continue their journey together. The Saracen promises to conduct Kenneth to Theodorick’s convent retreat.
Theodorick shows Kenneth a crypt containing a piece of the cross of Christ. As the knight kneels before the holy relic, a group of nuns, novices, and others living at the convent come into the holy place singing and strewing flowers. One of the robed ladies, King Richard’s kinswoman Lady Edith Plantagenet, several times passes by him at his devotions, each time dropping a single rose at his side. Although she and Kenneth have never spoken, they love each other. Marriage is impossible for them, however, because Lady Edith is related to the...
(The entire section is 1522 words.)
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