THE DOGE AND A NUMBER OF VENETIANS TAKE THE CROSS
Then, on a Sunday, was assemblage held in the church of St. Mark. It was a very high festival, and the people of the land were there, and the most part of the barons and pilgrims.
Before the beginning of High Mass, the Doge of Venice, who bore the name of Henry Dandolo, went up into the reading-desk, and spoke to the people, and said to them:" Signors, you are associated with the most worthy people in the world, and for the highest enterprise ever undertaken; and I am a man old and feeble, who should have need of rest, and I am sick in body; but I see that no one could command and lead,you like myself, who am your lord. If you will consent that I take the sign of the cross to guard and direct you, and that my son remain in my place to guard the land, then shall I go to five or die with you and with the pilgrims."
And when they had heard him, they cried with one voice: "We pray you by God that you consent, and do it, and that you come with us! "
Very great was then the pity and compassion on the part of the people of the land and of the pil-rims; and many were the tears shed, because that worthy 0and good man would have had so much reason to remain behind, for he was an old man, and albeit his eyes were unclouded, yet he saw naught, having lost his sight through a wound in the head. He was of a great heart. Ah! how little like him were those who had gone to other ports to escape the danger.
Thus he came down from the reading-desk, and went before the altar, and knelt upon his knees greatly weeping. And they sewed the cross on to a great cotton hat, which he wore, in front, because he wished that all men should see it. And the Venetians began to take the cross in great numbers, a great multitude, for up to that day very few had taken the cross. Our pilgrims had much joy in the cross that the Doge took, and were greatly moved, because of the wisdom and the valour that were in him.
Thus did the Doge take the cross, as you have heard. Then the Venetians began to deliver the ships, the galleys, and the transports to the barons, for departure; but so much time had already been spent since the appointed term, that September drew near (1202).