RICHARD I, the Lion-hearted, after dealing some hard blows at the Turks in Palestine in his time, had some remarkable experiences in Austria and Germany in returning home from the East. He had the misfortune to be shipwrecked on his way to Italy , and, with only a few followers had to travel by land across the Continent. In passing through the possessions of the Duke of Austria, with whom he had had a serious quarrel in Palestine , his identity was discovered, and he was arrested and thrown into prison.
The Emperor of Germany also owed Richard a grudge, and hearing that he was a prisoner in Austria , he persuaded the Duke to deliver him into his custody, so that he might keep him with greater secrecy. Richard's courtiers and subjects heard that their king had been shipwrecked, but were unable to ascertain what had become of him.
A rich nobleman named Blondel, a great personal friend of the king, undertook to find out where his master was. After diligent inquiry he came to the conclusion that Richard was 'somewhere in Germany '. He had no proof, however, so he hit upon a very clever plan to discover his whereabouts. He disguised himself as a wandering minstrel, and made his way to Germany with his harp. He was an accomplished harper, and had often played and sung for the king, who was himself, a very good singer. Traveling from town to town, wherever there was a prison, playing first in the market and other public places in order not to arouse suspicion, Blondel made a point of playing a few old English tunes under the prison walls, in the hope that, if Richard should be within, he would recognize them and give some indication of his presence.
One day the king sat in his dungeon, sad and dispirited, thinking of his native country which he had not seen for so long. Would he ever see his friends and subjects again? Would he ever sing again with his faithful Blondel? No, it is all too far away, he could only dream of it. But what is that? Surely he is dreaming. No, he is wide-awake, someone is singing. He springs to the bars of the wretched window of his dungeon, but can see nothing. It seemed like Blondel's voice, but, of course, it could not be, and the king sits down in despair, thinking how hard his fate is to be thus mocked with the memory of far-away friends.
Just then the unknown singer changes his tune, and to his amazement Richard hears one of the old songs he used to sing with Blondel. Like a flash he grasps the situation, and, hardly able to control his feelings, he sings his part in his deep bass voice as of yore. Thus a unique duet is sung, one singer being a king in a dungeon, and the other apparently a wandering bard outside.
Blondel's object is attained. He reaches the frontier, and hastens back to England . He raises a great sum of money from Richard's willing subjects, and returns to Germany . This time he is not in disguise, but with all the retinue becoming his rank. He seeks an interview with the Emperor of Germany, and offers a ransom for the release of his king. Arrangements are soon made, and Blondel hastens to the place where once he appeared as a poor mendicant singer to release his friend.
Blondel arrives at the prison; produces documents bearing the Imperial Seal, and demands the immediate release of the prisoner. The doors are flung open, and Blondel enters in triumph and greets his long-lost friend.
If we can conceive of Richard doubting whether Blondel had really paid the ransom, the written declaration of the Emperor would have banished all doubt, and if he had refused to leave his weary dungeon we should have said his confinement had driven him mad. What shall be said of you if you do not gladly accept the declaration of the Almighty, sealed with the precious Blood of His dear Son, and step out into the Salvation, liberty, peace, and joy of the redeemed?
God's declaration is: ":that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins: And by him all that believe are justified from all things:" (Acts 13:38-39).
"The Master is come, and calleth for thee." (John 11: 28).
by Author Gook