Post-classical history

§ An Angel Rescues Usama

A similar thing happened to me when the Franks attacked us on the road from Egypt164 and killed ‘Abbas and his son Nasr. We were able to flee to a nearby mountain. Our men climbed up on foot leading the horses behind them, while I was mounted on an old nag, unable to walk.165 I climbed up, riding, but the slopes of that mountain were all loose stones and pebbles, which at every step slipped beneath the feet of the horses. I beat the old hack to get it to climb, but it could not, so it fell down, bringing stones and pebbles with it. I dismounted and stood there, utterly incapable of walking. Just then a man came down the mountain and grabbed me by the hand to help me climb, my pack-horse led in my other hand. And no, by God, I don’t know who he was and I never saw him again.

During those dire days, anyone who performed the slightest act of kindness would put you under obligation and demand recompense for it. I once took a drink of water from a Turk and gave him two dinars for it. But even after we arrived in Damascus he continued to ask me to see to his needs and come to me with [94] his selfish requests – just because of that drink he poured for me. But that other man who helped me, he was nothing but an angel whom God (may He be exalted), in His mercy to me, sent to rescue me.

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