VI

It was a deep shock to Saladin of Jerusalem to learn, from what Brother Thomas related of Peter’s letter to Colchester, that Robert the Wolf, hero of the First Crusade, his family’s saintly forebear, should be tainted by a liaison with Moraima, a Moorish girl.

‘Now maybe you see what he had to run away from,’ Joan said. ‘All the way to the Holy Land-‘

‘Don’t talk like that. Robert took the Cross. He didn’t run anywhere.’ Saladin got up, dusted off his leggings, and walked down the hill to the horses.

‘I knew you’d react like this. You really are such a pious prig! But you don’t need to worry,’ his mother said, as she got up more stiffly. ‘He tupped this girl, then left her in al-Andalus. He married your distant ancestress later, and she was a respectable Christian; there can be no blood of Muslim ancestry in you.’ And she added, so softly he wasn’t sure if she had spoken at all, ‘Not from Moraima, anyway… Come. We must prepare for the arrival of Brother Thomas.’

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