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Title: The Court Jester
Author: Baker, Cornelia
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Illustration: Book Cover]



THE COURT JESTER



[Illustration: "I am Marguerite of Hapsburg!"--_Page 51_]



THE COURT JESTER


_By_
CORNELIA BAKER

_Author of_
The Queen's Page
Young People in Old Places, etc.


_With Illustrations by_
MARGARET ELY WEBB
_and_
MARGARET H. DEVENEAU


INDIANAPOLIS
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY
PUBLISHERS


COPYRIGHT 1906
THE BOBBS-MERRILL COMPANY



DEDICATED TO MY
DEAR EUGENIA F. F.



CONTENTS


  CHAPTER                                                           PAGE
     I LE GLORIEUX HEARS GOOD NEWS                                     1
    II A FESTIVAL AT THE INN                                          13
   III AN EXCITING DAY AND EVENING                                    33
    IV BROKEN PROMISES                                                61
     V THE WONDERFUL WISDOM OF PITTACUS                               76
    VI LADY CLOTILDE'S MOONSTONE PENDANT                              98
   VII A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR THE PRINCESS                          124
  VIII A ROYAL ALCHEMIST                                             153
    IX PHILIBERT IN DANGER                                           167
     X A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE                                          194
    XI THE LADY MARGUERITE IS VERY BRAVE                             214
   XII AN AUSTRIAN PRINCESS AT THE SPANISH COURT                     230
  XIII TRIPPING THE MEASURES OF THE EGG-DANCE                        249



THE COURT JESTER



CHAPTER I

LE GLORIEUX HEARS GOOD NEWS


The old duchess was talking of the past, while behind her chair Le
Glorieux was silently and joyously turning handsprings. I wish I might
give him another name, for that one is certainly a mouthful, but as he
really lived, and that was what he was called, we must manage it as best
we can.

You may think, and with reason, that turning handsprings was not a
respectful thing to do when a lady, and above all a duchess, was
talking. But Le Glorieux was the court jester, the fool, who when
Charles the Bold, son of the duchess, was living, was wont to make his
master laugh. Therefore his conduct and conversation as a rule were not
what one could expect of a sedate and dignified member of society.

In the presence of his late master, Le Glorieux could have turned
handsprings in plain view, but the dowager duchess was old and querulous
and resented such performances. She was the widow of Philip the Good,
Duke of Burgundy, and she looked very much like a fairy godmother in
her quaint costume of the time of Charles the Seventh. She had been
lady in waiting at the court of the French king, and she still clung to
the high headdress, towering some twenty inches above her brow, and its
long veil, which seemed to be boiling in filmy folds, like foam, from
its pointed top. By her side was an ebony crutch, not for the purpose of
turning pumpkins into coaches for the convenience of neglected
Cinderellas, but to support the weight of the owner when she cared to
move about; for rheumatism, which was up and doing even so long ago as
the fifteenth century, had no more respect for a duchess than for a
scullery maid, and had spitefully attacked her Grace of Burgundy.

The windows were veiled by heavy curtains that excluded the sunshine,
and the only light in the long dim room came from the brazier at the
feet of the duchess, who required artificial heat even in this warm
autumn weather. Outside--Le Glorieux knew--the birds were singing and
the butterflies were dipping in and out among the roses nodding in the
soft breeze; but to-day the beauties of nature did not attract him so
strongly as did the unusual degree of excitement going on in the castle.
The Lady Clotilde had been sent for by her cousin, the young Duchess
Anne of Brittany, and so, bag and baggage and servants, she was to set
out on the following morning. Throughout the castle was felt the buzz
and bustle of preparation, maids running in and out, and pages spinning
up and down the staircases, for the Lady Clotilde liked to keep
everybody busy. Le Glorieux longed to see what was going on, for, though
a grown man, he possessed the heart of a rollicking boy and was highly
entertained by a hubbub.

There had been plenty of diversion while Charles the Bold was living, a
fact of which you will be convinced when you read your history of
France, and he had once taken Le Glorieux with him to the wars, where
the latter had shown himself to be brave and fearless, and when Charles
was not planning campaigns against the neighboring countries, or engaged
in carrying out his plans, he liked, while sipping the red or the white
wine of his province, to listen to the drolleries of his jester. In
those days, you see, there were no newspapers, no printed jokes, and it
was necessary for even a fierce and warlike duke to laugh at times. But
after the duke's death nobody cared much for the jester's jokes, and his
principal duty seemed to be to listen to the dowager duchess talk, and
as she was in the habit of repeating the same story a good many times a
day, her conversation was usually extremely wearisome.

[Illustration: "I remember it well"]

"Yes," said she, holding her wax-like hands out to the brazier and
rubbing them thoughtfully, "I remember it as well as if it had happened
yesterday. I do not know whether I ever mentioned to you, Le Glorieux,
that I was lady in waiting to her Highness, Marguerite of Scotland, then
Dauphiness of France?"

With the agility of a cat the jester, who at this moment was standing on
his head, regained his feet and stood respectfully before her Grace.
"Never, Cousin," replied he gravely; "or at least not more than five
thousand times."

"I thought not," she returned, for being somewhat deaf she had not
caught the latter part of the sentence. "Yes, I was in the train of that
dear and beauteous lady whom I loved so much that I still wear the
costume chosen by her, this cap and veil and these shoes."

The old lady thrust out a foot shod in a shoe having a sharp point as
long again as her foot, remarking contentedly, "This is a fine style of
a shoe, do you not think so, Le Glorieux?"

"Yes, Cousin, and one calculated to encourage an ambitious great toe
that is anxious to keep on growing," replied the fool, whose own shoes
were pointed, but in a style far less exaggerated than those of her
Grace.

"As I was saying," she went on, "I remember it as well as if it had
happened yesterday. The dauphiness was fond of learning, and she
composed verses of no small merit. I too caught the contagion and
composed verses. I wish that I could remember some of them to repeat to
you."

"Do not trouble yourself, Cousin," said the jester hastily; "I am
nothing but a fool, you know, and I must deny myself many pleasures."

"At the court," she resumed, "lived at the time the great poet Alain
Chartier, who was a wonderfully gifted man, though very plain. One day
when the dauphiness and her ladies--I was among them, Le Glorieux--were
crossing the courtyard we found Alain Chartier asleep on a bench. Much
to our surprise her Highness gathered up her long train so that its
rustle would not awaken him, and tripping softly toward the sleeping
poet she kissed him on the lips. Yes, Le Glorieux, that great princess
consort of the dauphin--afterward Louis the Eleventh--deigned to kiss a
humble poet with her own lips! Was it not wonderful?"

"Not so wonderful as if she had tried to kiss him with somebody else's
lips," replied the fool, adding, "but it was unfair to Chartier."

"Why unfair?"

"Because she had no right to take him unawares and unarmed."

Her Grace frowned darkly as she replied, "Le Glorieux, you are nothing
but a fool and you can not understand what an honor it was for a humble
poet to be kissed by a great princess. But one of the courtiers said,
'Madame, why did you kiss that extremely unprepossessing man?' The
dauphiness replied, 'I did not kiss the man----'"

"How could she say that," broke in the jester, "when you all saw her do
it?"

"Do not interrupt me, Fool. The dauphiness said, 'I did not kiss the
man----'"

"That is what you said before," interrupted the fool again, "and I say
she must have been a very silly little woman."

"Fool, do you not know that you are daring to criticise a princess of
Scotland, daughter of James the Second of that country?"

"I do not care if she was the daughter of his present Majesty, Henry the
Seventh of England; it was foolish of her to try to make people doubt
the evidence of their own eyes."

"Will you let me finish, you great gawk?" Then raising her voice and
speaking very rapidly the duchess went on, "The dauphiness said, 'I did
not kiss the man, but that precious mouth from which has come so many
noble and virtuous words.'"

"I call that a very slipshod way to get out of it," replied the fool.
"Let us take an example. Suppose I had gone to the court of France and
had cut off the late king's head. The soldiers arrest me and I say, 'I
did not kill the man, I simply sliced off that head which has hatched up
so many horrible schemes.' Would they apologize and let me go? Not a bit
of it!"

"But this, you see, was figurative."

"I do not care what you call it. She kissed his lips, did she not?"

"Yes."

"And was not the man behind them at the time?"

"Of course, but you see----"

"Then there is nothing more to say about it," went on the fool.

The duchess reflected seriously for a moment and then seemed to arrive
at the conclusion that it would not pay her to continue the argument.
Besides, she was somewhat muddled herself. She continued, "Was it a
wonder that so gracious a lady should have been misunderstood at such a
court? And she died mysteriously, Le Glorieux, when she was but
one-and-twenty, and in her illness she said, 'Fie upon this life; let no
one talk more of it to me!'"

"I am not surprised that she felt that way," said the jester. "Now that
Louis is dead, they say that he was not cruel, but firm. For my part, I
do not like the kind of firmness that wants to hang or drown half the
people in the kingdom, though it may be that I am too particular."

"Yes, I remember that day as well as if it had been yesterday," went on
the duchess, with her dull eyes fixed dreamily upon the red coals of the
brazier, and the fool again glided behind her chair and resumed the
handsprings.

At last, attracted in the midst of her recollections by the incessant
ringing of the little bells on the jester's cap, which his lively
motions kept a-tinkle, the old lady craned her neck and glancing behind
her chair caught him in the very act of standing on his head!

Indignant at his inattention and forgetting the license accorded court
fools, she seized her crutch and hit him a swift rap across the calves
of the legs which caused him to reverse himself with a howl.

"How dare you treat me with such disrespect, and not only me, but the
gracious princess of whom I was talking!" she cried angrily. "You shall
leave the court. I have no need of a fool!" Then a sudden and pleasant
thought seemed to come into her mind, for she said, "I know what I will
do. I feel that I should send Anne of Brittany a present, and I was
going to send her an emerald. I will not part with the gem; I will send
you, Le Glorieux, instead, with a letter saying that I am presenting her
with the most precious possession of the late Duke of Burgundy, to cheer
her in the various trials brought about by the reign of one so young.
Yes, that will be fine, and I shall keep the emerald. You may leave me,
Fool, and prepare for your departure while I think over the wording of
my letter."

Le Glorieux was so overcome with joy at this sudden and unexpected turn
of affairs that he forgot his abused calves, and his feet scarce touched
the steps as he mounted to his little tower chamber, for you must know
that a fool was a kind of slave, and although having many privileges
within the palace, was not allowed to leave it even for a night without
special permission.

On the landing of the staircase stood a boy of eleven or twelve years of
age, looking sadly out of the mullioned window. He was a pretty youth
and he wore a fine suit, to say nothing of a cap with a curling plume,
but he did not look happy.

"Cheer up, Antoine," said the jester, slapping him on the back; "better
days are in store for me."

"What will your better days avail me?" asked the boy, with a shrug.

"Well answered," said the jester reflectively. "Yet when things are
going well with us we are surprised that the world does not smile with
us, while we expect it to boohoo when we are sad. But I have been given
permission to go to Brittany. Think of that! Try to overcome your
indifference, and think what a joy it will be to me to live where I
shall no longer hear the story of the princess who kissed the poet. And
she has just hit me a blow on the legs that has raised lumps as big as
plovers' eggs. Did it with her crutch, too!"

"She struck me across the shoulders with it because I could not find her
needle, and she held the needle in her fingers all the time," said the
page mournfully.

"Knowing her little ways, you should have looked in her fingers first,"
said the fool, adding blithely, "but she will never strike me again,
because I am going away."

"You need not continually flaunt that in my face," returned the boy, in
an injured tone, continuing with the mournful pleasure that many of us
take in predicting misfortune for people whom we envy; "there may be
worse things in store for you than to be struck by an ill-natured woman.
I heard of a youth who went to a strange court with great glee and the
very next day both of his ears were cut off."

"I do not think I should like a thing of that kind to happen to me,"
said the fool gravely. "Of course, the loss of my ears would never be
noticed, because my cap covers them, but at the same time I think I
should miss them myself, having always had them, you know. But I do not
think you quite understand just why I am going away. Our mistress is
sending me as a present, a pretty, dainty present, to the young Duchess
of Brittany, and you know it would not be good taste to ill-treat a
present."

"You are a strange present to send to a young lady," remarked the page
sourly. "I warrant she will not be overjoyed with her packet when it
meets her gaze."

"Oh, yes she will," returned Le Glorieux easily. "You see it is
necessary for her to be cheered, for not only have there been frequent
turmoils in her duchy, but there has been a perfect fever of excitement
about her matrimonial arrangements from the day she was born. First they
wanted her to marry one of the little princes of England afterward
smothered by his affectionate Uncle Richard; then it was the Infante of
Spain, and though it now seems settled that she is to marry Maximilian
of Austria, still she must be nervous and unsettled. At any rate, our
mistress wants to do something gracious, and being more than a trifle
close, and not wishing to send a valuable jewel, she sends me in the
care of the Lady Clotilde as the most valuable jewel of her possession."

"Oh, Le Glorieux, take me with you!" pleaded Antoine, forgetting his
sarcasm in his anxiety to share his friend's good fortune. "If you only
will I shall be your debtor for life."

"That would be impossible, my lad. You must remain here to find her
Grace's needle when she drops it, and to lead the life of a nice, tame
pussy-cat."

"I will not!" cried the boy, dashing the tears from his bright eyes. "My
father, who, as you know, died in battle, never intended that I should
grow up thus tamely. Take me with you, oh, Le Glorieux, do!"

"I should like to," replied the jester thoughtfully. "You could ride
beside me and you should fetch your lute and you could sing to me along
the way to make the birds ashamed of themselves. But even if you should
run away, the Lady Clotilde would not let you go with us, for you know
what she is. If she were a peasant woman she would be called sour and
disagreeable, but being a great lady she is simply dignified and firm."

But there are times when we are enabled to get that for which we very
much wish, and it so happened that the Lady Clotilde wanted the boy in
her suite and begged him of the duchess, who willingly acquiesced, for
caring not at all for his musical talent and his handsome face, he was
no more to her than any other page.

So there were not two lighter hearts in the good duchy of Burgundy than
were those of the page and the jester as they set about making their
preparations for departure. They were pleased to leave the court where
life had grown so monotonous, and they were delighted that they were to
go in each other's company, for though there was a difference of some
fifteen years in their respective ages, Le Glorieux and Antoine were
very fond of each other.



CHAPTER II

A FESTIVAL AT THE INN


The following morning bright and early the procession rode briskly out
of the castle courtyard. The Lady Clotilde traveled in her litter and
was attended by her maids and her men-servants and her guards on mules,
the guards being necessary, for it was dangerous for those possessing
money and jewels to travel unless they were protected from the outlaws
who infested mountain and forest.

At the rear of the company rode Le Glorieux on a steed he always
preferred when riding abroad. This was a donkey which the fool had named
Pittacus after one of the seven wise men of Greece, for he declared the
little animal was very wise, though no one as yet had discovered the
fact. On the jester's wrist was perched Pandora, his hawk, for he vowed
that no man with a proper degree of self-respect would be seen in public
without his hawk, which was true, the fashion of the time having so
decreed. Pandora wore a cunning little red leather hood with some bells
attached to it, and, to keep her from escaping from him, a cord attached
to her leg was fastened to the jester's arm.

Antoine, whose lute was slung to his shoulder by a blue ribband, was
mounted upon a small gray mule and rode beside his comrade, the two
whistling and singing and making so merry together that more than once
the Lady Clotilde put her head out between the curtains of her litter
and, with a very severe face and a harsh voice, bade them be quiet.

History tells us that Edward the Second of England had a jester who
amused his royal master simply by riding before him and frequently
falling off his horse, so it is no wonder that a boy of the age of
Antoine should have been kept in a continuous state of merriment caused
by the antics of his friend. You doubtless have been to the circus, and
you know what a very funny fellow a clown can be, and how the boys and
girls in the audience are inclined to laugh every time he opens his
mouth, and how even the grown people are not ashamed to smile at his
drolleries. Then imagine the bliss experienced by Antoine in riding with
a real clown who performed, not because he was expected to do so and was
paid for it, but because he was anxious to have a good time.

Sometimes the jester rode with his face toward the donkey's tail, at
others he lay flat on the animal's back, to the intense indignation of
Pittacus and Pandora, neither of whom could appreciate that sort of
thing. Then sometimes the boy and the fool broke into song together, and
if the birds were not exactly "ashamed of themselves," as Le Glorieux
had predicted they would be, they must have been very much astonished,
to say the least.

This mode of travel was not so swift as one may find in France to-day,
but it had its advantages, for the scenery could be more thoroughly
enjoyed when every bird and every flower could be leisurely surveyed
instead of passing the car window like a flash, leaving upon the mind no
impression whatever.

[Illustration: They stopped at an old inn]

After a journey of some days they entered Brittany, and stopped at
nightfall at an old inn situated on a cliff above the Loire, which
smoothly ripples its way to the Bay of Biscay.

The arrival of the Lady Clotilde and her party created a certain degree
of agitation throughout the inn, for an empress could not have been more
exacting in her demands than this lady, who always seemed to think that
she was created first and the rest of the world added as an
afterthought.

Soon afterward there came a middle-aged woman and a little girl
apparently of about twelve years of age, who caused no commotion
whatever, for they were unattended and plainly clad. The Lady Clotilde,
looking out of her window, pronounced the woman to be an ordinary
person, and, supposing the little girl to be the woman's child, did not
waste even a glance upon her, but began to give quick, sharp commands
regarding her own supper, which was brought to her hot and fragrant with
appetizing odors, and with which, strange to say, she found no fault.

But in the great kitchen of the inn that night there was a joyful
celebration. The innkeeper's baby daughter had been christened that day
and this was the feast which followed it. Mine host had invited Le
Glorieux and Antoine to join him and his friends in the celebration of
the occasion, and, after the guests of the house had been served, a long
table, uncovered and made of rough unplaned wood, was spread with all
the good things the hostelry afforded. There was roast pig stuffed with
chopped meat and aromatic herbs, and there were meat pasties and
ragouts, to say nothing of sugared cakes and various other dainties.
There was no coffee, for that was about a hundred and fifty years before
that now popular beverage was used in Europe, but there was the wine of
the country, which, being pure and honestly made, was less dangerous
than the wine of to-day. Another feature was lacking which now is so
familiar; the air at the close of the meal was not contaminated with the
odor of pipes and cigars, for Sir Walter Raleigh, who brought tobacco
from savagery to civilization, was not even born, and the mainland of
the New World was still waiting for Columbus.

Le Glorieux in his fantastic costume of striped yellow and green, and
his queer cap with its points sticking out on either side and adorned
with bells, was an object of much interest, for it was the first time
these people had ever seen such a costume. To-day the portraits of the
celebrated people of the world are familiar to all who have pennies to
invest in newspapers, and had there been at that time the same
facilities for spreading the news that there are to-day, Le Glorieux,
with his sayings and doings, particularly in the campaign with his late
master, would have been written up again and again, and the public, you
may be sure, would have known his face as well as those of its own
father and mother.

The innkeeper, his family, and friends all wore what to us would seem
like comic opera costumes: mine host, fat and rosy, wore his holiday
suit of a gorgeous color, and all the men were similarly attired, while
the women wore pink, or blue, or green bodices with short skirts of a
different color. On their heads they wore flat white linen caps fitting
close, and with tails to them like mantles floating down their backs,
the costume being completed by a high collar flaring out from the
shoulders.

The fairest of the women was the pale, pretty young mother, who cast
many proud glances at the rude wooden cradle in the corner where lay the
real heroine of the occasion, and, to her, the most important person in
the company.

Considered the most distinguished of the guests, Le Glorieux was given a
seat at the head of the table, where he immediately began to make
himself at home, not only with the viands, but with the company, keeping
up a continuous chatter and convulsing his audience with his merry
jokes.

"I should like to know the name of the woman who came shortly after our
arrival," he said after a while, turning to his host, who replied, "I do
not know her name; her garb is plain, yet she seems to be one who is
accustomed to the best of everything, for she insisted upon having two
of my largest rooms for herself and the child, showing that she had the
means to pay for them. She is on her way to the shrine of Saint Roch in
the forest beyond, to be relieved of a migraine that torments her
morning, noon, and night."

"And the blessed Saint Roch will cure her," said the innkeeper's mother
confidently; "no one goes in pain from his shrine."

Le Glorieux had noticed the shrine as they came along. The good saint,
who is supposed to lend a kindly hearing to those who are suffering from
physical ailments, was carved in rock above a clear spring. He was
represented as a young man with his robe lifted to show a plague spot on
his leg, and by his side was the dog which brought bread to him when he
was starving. When the readers of this story travel abroad they will see
pictures of Saint Roch painted by Rubens, Guido, Tintoretto, and other
great masters.

"I have heard my mother say that when the plague was in many parts of
Europe it never came near Brittany because of Saint Roch," remarked a
young woman.

"I should think not," observed Le Glorieux; "curing the plague is what
he prides himself upon, and it is not reasonable to suppose that he
would allow it to rage under his very nose."

"From the tinkle of your bells," said a foppish young man at the
jester's left, a youth who had grown a little envious of the attention
paid to Le Glorieux, "I should say that you are a fool."

"And from the tinkle of your tongue, I have been suspecting the same
thing of you," retorted the other quickly.

"No man may say that of me!" said the foppish youth, springing to his
feet and drawing his dagger from its sheath, while the jester drew his
sword.

"Shame upon you, Nicole, to begin a brawl upon such an occasion," said
the innkeeper, rising and putting his hand upon his friend's arm, while
some of the women gave little shrieks of fear, though at this period the
clash of swords and daggers was not an unusual sound, and such a scene
was liable to happen in almost any company.

"Our host is right," said Le Glorieux, replacing his sword in its sheath
with a decided clank. "Such a fray is not only disrespectful to the
ladies, but it will give an opportunity for that lovely pig to get cold
before we have a chance to finish it. I will just say, however, that if
this young man is anxious to fight me I am ready to meet him in some
quiet spot at any moment that may be convenient to him." And the jester
resumed his seat at the table.

"The woman who came to-day is not the mother of that child," remarked
the innkeeper, anxious to change the subject.

"Did she tell you so?" asked his mother.

"No, but I have eyes. The woman is of the ordinary walks of life, a
German, I should say, while the little girl is an aristocrat, and if I
am not very much mistaken she is French."

"But she is clothed no better than the woman," argued his mother. "An
aristocrat would not travel without attendants and dress in such poor
style, and----"

An exclamation from some one on the opposite side of the table arrested
her words, for standing in the doorway was the child of whom they were
speaking. She was a pretty little maiden with large blue eyes, whose
long lashes made them appear black, and her hair, which hung in half
curling masses below her waist, was of a reddish gold. She was dressed
in a dark blue gown of coarse woolen material, with a close-fitting cap
of the same. She seemed not at all abashed at thus entering where she
had not been invited, saying in a clear sweet voice, "May I stay here
for a while? Cunegunda put me to bed and then retired herself, for she
is so tormented by migraine that she did not sit by me for a time, as
she usually does. I could not sleep on account of all this racket, so I
dressed myself and came down and would like to remain for a little
while, if I may."

"I am sorry we disturbed your rest, my little lady," replied the
innkeeper respectfully. "I will change your room, if you wish."

"No," said the little girl, "I do not want you to do that. I am going to
stay up as long as you do if you will let me. I want to see what this
kind of an entertainment is like."

"Then I will make a place at the table," returned he.

"Thank you, no," she returned, with dignity. "I have had all that I
require. I will just sit here by the window and look on."

"That you may and welcome," said the innkeeper heartily, "and in order
that you may do so to the greatest advantage, I am going to place you
here," and lifting her lightly he placed her on the deep window seat,
which was some distance from the floor. "And now you may not only look
at us, but at this pretty bird as well."

The casement of the window, which swung like a door, was opened on the
inside, and perched on top of it where her master had placed her,
sulkily ruffling her feathers as though strongly disapproving of her
surroundings, was Pandora.

"You have never been so close to a fine hooded bird before, I warrant,"
said the innkeeper.

"I have birds of my own, and they are all hooded," replied the child
indifferently.

The people seated at the table glanced significantly at each other as if
to ask, "Is she bragging, or is she of a higher rank than she pretends
to be?" for middle-class folk did not possess hooded birds.

"To whom does this one belong?" asked the child.

"To that gentleman seated at the head of the table," was the reply.

She looked at him thoughtfully and then at the bird. "I wonder how a
hawk likes belonging to a fool," she said.

Everybody laughed, Le Glorieux loudest of all. "No matter how wise a
fool may appear, his cap and bells will always betray him," he said.
"Yes, my friends, as you no doubt have suspected, I am a court jester. I
belonged to Duke Charles the Bold of Burgundy, and now I am being sent
as a present to her Grace, the young Duchess of Brittany."

"I have suspected your identity all along," said a fat friar seated at
the other end of the table. "I was at Beauvais during the siege and I
heard of you there. You are Le Glorieux."

The jester rose and made an extravagant bow. "At your service," said he.
"Yes," he continued, taking his place again, "I was at the siege of
Beauvais. I saw the young maid Jeanne Fourquet, in imitation of the Maid
of Orleans, fight like a witch with her little ax, for which she was
named Jeanne Hachette, and when a tall Burgundian was scaling the walls
and was planting his banner, she pushed him over into the ditch and
waving her flag shouted, 'Victory!' I am not boring anybody by talking
about the past, am I?" asked the fool suddenly.

"On the contrary," said the host, "it is more interesting than a tale of
gnomes and pixies."

"You see," explained Le Glorieux, "I have lived so long at court, where
the past is raked out and talked over and over, that I am afraid to
relate anything that happened longer ago than the day before yesterday."

"If it please you, continue," said one of the company. "We are humble
folk living in a quiet village, and we know but little of what happens
in the great world outside."

So Le Glorieux continued, keeping the company chilled with awe or
shaking with laughter, according to the nature of the incident he
happened to be relating. It may be that some of the incidents he related
never occurred outside of his own brain, but one at least of his
anecdotes may be found in history.

"It was after the siege of Beauvais," said he, "that Cousin Charles came
nearer to giving me a cuff on the jaw than ever happened before or
afterward. He was quite boastful, was Charles, and with considerable
pomp he was conducting some ambassadors through the arsenal. He stopped
short in one of the rooms and swelling himself up said, 'This room
contains the keys of all the cities of France.' Then I began to fumble
in my pockets and to search all over the room. 'Now, donkey, for what
are you looking so anxiously?' asked he. I replied, 'I am looking for
the key of Beauvais,' and that made him turn as red as your doublet,
mine host, for we had not been victorious at Beauvais."

"But you were very brave there, although a mere youth," remarked the
friar, "and I should advise our young friend here to think twice before
he meets you out, as you have invited him to do."

"Oh, we will let that pass, if he is willing," said Le Glorieux
good-naturedly, an arrangement with which the young man, who was not
especially brave, was very glad to agree.

"And now," said the jester, "I am reminded that there is one thing that
I have forgotten, and that is to ask the name that you have given to
that blessed baby."

"That you will be glad to hear," said the host, rubbing his hands
delightedly. "The good wife too is a Burgundian, and nothing would do
but that we should name the little one for the Duchess Mary. Heaven rest
her soul!" he continued reverently.

It happened that this was the one theme that could render Le Glorieux
sad. He had worshiped the young Duchess Mary, who had ruled the province
after the death of her father, Charles the Bold--worshiped her as a
faithful dog loves his kind mistress. He had seen her betrothed at
Ghent to the Archduke Maximilian of Austria, also styled King of the
Romans, and when a few years later news had come of her death, caused by
a fall from her horse, the jester had known the first real grief of his
life.

"Yes," said the mother of the baby. "Her name is Mary, and may she be as
good and beautiful as the poor young duchess, cut off in the bloom of
her life."

The jester rose, and going to the cradle took in his own the little baby
hand curled like a crumpled rose-leaf. "Mary, namesake of an angel, I
salute you," said he, pressing the tiny fingers to his lips.

"No matter how well the children of the poor young duchess are cared
for, they will miss the love of their mother, for there is nothing like
it," said the innkeeper's wife. "One of them, the Lady Marguerite of
Hapsburg, is to be Queen of France," she added proudly.

"I was so fortunate as to witness that betrothal," said the friar,
helping himself to another piece of the pasty.

"You did!" cried Le Glorieux. "I would give a year of my life to see
Mary's little child. Tell us about it, good friar."

The child in the window, who had at first sat carelessly swinging her
little feet, had now drawn them up to the sill, and turning sidewise and
with her hands clasped about her knees, was listening intently.

"It was eight years ago that the betrothal took place, if you will
remember," began the friar in the satisfied tone of one who feels that
what he is about to tell will be vastly interesting to his audience. "I
was riding my mule to the city of Amboise on business for my order.

"At Herdin, which is near that city, I saw a great concourse of people,
and being under a vow of silence for that day, I could ask no questions,
but drew up with the crowd to see what was going on. The air was wild
with the acclamations of the people, and _gens d'armes_ were stalking
about to make the crowd stand back so that the road might be left
unobstructed.

"Then from the city came a glittering procession of ladies and gentlemen
and archers. At the head of it rode a boy, whom from his dress and the
deference paid him, I immediately recognized as the Dauphin of France,
so soon to be king. He was about twelve at the time, but he looked
younger, being undersized. He wore a robe of crimson satin lined with
black velvet, and his black horse was richly caparisoned. Crossing the
bridge the boy paused, for, slowly advancing from the opposite
direction, was another procession equally imposing, headed by a litter,
silk-curtained and surmounted by a crown. And then I knew that I was to
witness an event which was to go down in history, for I knew this was
the expected ceremonial of the betrothal of the little Lady Marguerite
of Hapsburg, daughter of the Archduke of Austria, to the Dauphin of
France.

"The young dauphin saluted the ladies and changed his robe for one of
cloth of gold. Then from the litter was lifted a tiny girl between three
and four years of age, the little archduchess, whose hair glistened like
gold in the sunlight. A tall and elegantly-dressed lady accompanied her
to the boy's side, and the prothonotary asked in a loud voice if Charles
of France would take Marguerite of Austria for his bride. The boy
answered 'Yes' in a loud, clear voice, and a similar question was put to
the little archduchess, who, after a whispered word from the lady at her
side, uttered a faint 'Yes.'

"And when I rode on to Amboise I found the city gay with festoons of
brilliantly-colored cloth, and in the market place there was a fountain
which gave forth both white and red wine."

"The dear little princess!" said the innkeeper's wife. "Though she is to
be Queen of France, I pity her, thus to be betrothed without a word of
choice in the matter."

"The good God has not divided happiness so unevenly as some might
suppose," observed the friar, "for in some things the peasant woman
enjoys more liberty than the queen."

"The dear little Lady Marguerite was taken from her own country and all
her kin that she might grow up in a foreign court and be a true French
woman," said one of the women. "And she was beautiful, did you say,
Brother Sebastian?"

"I did not have a good view of her face, but I should say that she was
very fair to look upon," he replied.

"Pretty she had a right to be," said Le Glorieux. "Her mother was as
beautiful as the morning, and her father, when I saw him, looked like a
glorious knight descended from the clouds. He was mounted on a chestnut
horse; he was clad in silver armor and his head was bound by a circlet
of precious stones. His smile was so kind and his face so handsome that
he won all hearts."

"Look! That child is about to fall out of the window!" cried the friar,
for the little one was gazing at the speaker with her soul in her eyes,
and the better to see him, was sitting on the very edge of the
window-sill in a way that indeed suggested a possible fall. Seeing all
eyes turned upon her she drew herself back and clasped her hands about
her knees as before.

"And now," said the innkeeper, "I notice that a young gentleman of the
company has a lute, and I am sure we should all enjoy a song." He looked
at Antoine, who, though silent, had been very much engaged with the good
things set before him.

"You are right, mine host," said Le Glorieux. "My comrade sings in such
a way that I am sure the nightingales outside will cease to trill from
pure envy."

Musicians, and indeed all people who are capable of entertaining others,
have fits of diffidence at the most unexpected moments, and although he
was in the habit of singing for the ladies of the Burgundian court, who
knew far more about music than these people could possibly understand,
it seemed to Antoine that if he could unseen escape by the door, and run
away into the woods, or sink through the floor, it would be the greatest
boon that could happen to him. Not being able to efface himself in any
way, he resorted to a fib, and said that he would be most happy to
oblige them, but that a string of his lute was broken, and that he had
no other with which to replace it.

Le Glorieux strode to the corner of the room and took up the lute where
the boy had placed it before supper. It was an instrument resembling a
modern mandolin with a crooked neck, as if it had once been strangled,
and becoming convulsed in the effort to breathe, had remained petrified
in that position.

The jester held the instrument out at arm's length, saying, "It is
strange, but even a lute can not remain disabled in the neighborhood of
the good Saint Roch. Here are all the strings in a perfectly sound
condition, and fairly quivering with anxiety to be played on."

A fib, like a murder, will "out" sooner or later, and realizing this
fact, Antoine said nothing more, but striking a few chords began to
sing, though in a quavering voice.

"See here, Antoine," said his friend, stopping him, "I have praised your
voice and I am not going to have you sing like a frog that is choking to
death in a pond. Open your mouth and let your words out instead of
keeping them prisoners behind your teeth."

The boy was very angry at being thus derided, and his voice rang loud
and flute-like in an old chanson of Burgundy, to which his audience
listened with great pleasure, the innkeeper's wife remarking at its
close that it was one she often had sung in her childhood.

"Let him sing some more songs of Burgundy," said the child in the
window, speaking for the first time since she had made the remark about
the hawk.

Antoine complied, and in the middle of the second song the company was
surprised by the entrance of a large woman clad in a loose robe and a
nightcap, who, without a word of apology, crossed the room to the window
and waving her arms with their wide, flowing sleeves, which in this
position gave her the appearance of a large bird that is about to fly,
poured out a torrent of words in a strange language, then, swooping upon
the little girl, swept her from the window and held her imprisoned in
her wing-like arms.

[Illustration: She laid it on baby Mary's breast]

The child replied in the same language and in a voice of indignation,
but the woman was about to carry her from the room, when the little one
struggled to the floor, and taking a piece of money from a small purse
at her girdle, she crossed the floor and laid it on baby Mary's breast.
Then turning with a brief "Good night" to the others, she followed her
grotesque attendant from the room.

"Now I wonder," said Le Glorieux, "if that woman is kidnapping the
child?"

"I think not," said the innkeeper. "That was the woman who came with her
to the inn, though she did not look like herself in that garb."

"To come before a large company in her nightcap like that was
disgraceful," said one of the women.

"She was too agitated to think of her appearance," said the friar. "I
think she was very much annoyed at the little one for coming down here
alone."

"As if we were ogres to swallow her!" cried the innkeeper's mother
indignantly.

"She has given our little one a fine present," said the baby's mother,
examining the coin by the rush light. "Husband, it is gold!"

"That child is not an ordinary person; I have said so all along," said
the host, with conviction.

Then a lively discussion followed, some of the women, and indeed some of
the men also, declaring that the authorities should be notified and the
matter investigated in order to find if the child were being carried off
and away from her home in an unlawful manner.

"My friends," said Le Glorieux, "perhaps the advice of a fool is worth
nothing, but such as it is you are welcome to it. I always have found
that when in doubt as to what course to pursue, you will be convinced
that the best plan is to go ahead and attend strictly to your own
affairs. That beautiful child knows just why she is here, and it is not
against her will, for she had ample time to tell us her troubles and to
ask our aid if she cared to do so before that old bird of prey swooped
down upon her. So let us go to bed and to sleep, for some of us, at
least this boy and myself, must be up bright and early and away before
the dew is off the grass."

And so the guests departed to their several homes or to their rooms in
the inn, while the host blew out the lights, closed the lattice, and
secured the door. And the nightingales sang on undisturbed.



CHAPTER III

AN EXCITING DAY AND EVENING


As the Lady Clotilde and her train were about to ride away the next
morning, Le Glorieux said to Antoine, "I think I will go back to the
shrine of Saint Roch. You may wait for me. It is only a little way and
we can soon overtake the others."

"But why do you wish to visit the shrine?" asked the boy.

"I want to say a little prayer for the gout."

"I never heard you complain of the gout."

"And small wonder, for I have not a sign of it."

"Then why do you want to pray to be cured of a malady which you never
had?"

"I am afraid that I may have it," said the fool. "Brittany is a very
rich country; the Duchess Anne is the greatest heiress in Christendom,
and of course there is to be found at her court everything that the
appetite craves, and some day all this may bring on the gout. There is
nothing like taking things in time, and it may be a good while before I
shall again be so near the good saint."

"Very well," said Antoine, "go, if you like, and I will wait by the
roadside for you."

[Illustration: Beseeching the saint]

So Le Glorieux rode back to the shrine, which was some half a mile out
of his way, and remained for a good while, for he remembered a number of
other maladies that might attack him in the future, and he thought it
was well to be on the safe side by beseeching the saint to keep them all
at a respectful distance.

Finishing his orisons at last, he rode forward with as brisk a pace as
Pittacus was willing to carry him, but to his surprise and indignation
Antoine was not waiting for him, nor was he able to overtake the others.
There was nothing to do, therefore, but to ride on alone to the city of
Rennes, where the court of Brittany was then staying, and where he hoped
to arrive before nightfall.

But Le Glorieux missed the company of his comrade, upon whom he resolved
to be revenged for thus leaving him in the lurch, and he rode along
turning over his wrongs in his mind with a mien far less gay than he was
wont to present.

He found as the day began to grow older and the clock of his appetite
pointed to the time to refresh himself, that the only meal obtainable
was a crust of black bread and a cup of goat's milk procured at a
peasant's hut along the way.

"I prayed to be defended from gout," reflected the fool, "but I hope
Saint Roch does not intend to keep the disease at bay by allowing me
only coarse, plain food. Would it not be a terrible thing if he should
put it into the Lady Anne's mind that feeding a jester well spoils his
wit?"

As the afternoon was warm, Le Glorieux said, "Pandora, you look sleepy;
Pittacus, I am sure that you need a little rest, while I am drowsy. I
will just take a small nap under this tree."

So, after securing the donkey to the tree, and allowing Pandora to perch
on his saddle, with her cord attached to a ring at the back of it, Le
Glorieux stretched himself on the ground, and soon was asleep.

A very sound sleeper, he remained wrapped in the unconsciousness of
slumber until the sun was seeking his bed in the west, when he woke
suddenly with a start, thinking that Antoine was calling him to get up
in the morning. First rubbing his eyes to get the sleep out of them, the
jester began to look around for his donkey, for, greatly to his surprise
and dismay, Pittacus no longer stood where his master had tied him, both
steed and hawk having vanished as completely as if the earth had
swallowed them up. And still worse was to come, for a silk purse worn at
his belt, which contained all of his worldly wealth, had disappeared
with his other property.

"Robbed!" groaned Le Glorieux, sinking to the ground and clasping his
hands convulsively about his knees. "On a strange soil, afoot, and
without a coin to bless myself with. Sometimes I begin to think that I
am growing wise, and then it is borne in upon me that I am nothing but a
fool after all, for what man in his senses would sleep beside the road
in broad daylight, with all his possessions unguarded?"

He made up his mind that he had been the victim of a highwayman, which
was the natural conclusion at which to arrive, though, strange to say,
his sword had not been taken, and his pistol, which he had placed on the
ground beside him, was still where he had left it.

"A coward," thought the fool, "to rob a man in his sleep, and not a bray
from Pittacus, not a scream from Pandora, to give me warning! How kind I
have been to those brutes, and they go with a stranger as cheerfully as
if they were not leaving their best friend."

He remained for some time bewailing his ill-luck, and then, reminded by
the lateness of the hour that it was necessary to resume his journey, he
set out disconsolately on foot.

After walking a short distance Le Glorieux beheld something, the sight
of which amazed him quite as much as the discovery of the robbery had
done, and made him wonder if he were still dreaming. Secured to a tree
and contentedly munching a bunch of thistles which happily were within
the range allowed by the length of his halter, was Pittacus! "But
Pandora?" cried the jester, for the bird was not tied to the saddle and
he feared that she had flown away.

A faint tinkle of bells called his attention to the tree, and there,
tied to a limb, was Pandora, who seemed to be guarding her master's
purse, which was fastened to a twig beneath her.

Le Glorieux stared with astonishment at finding his belongings in this
strange manner. That any one should have taken, and repenting have
returned them, he could not believe, and there was but one explanation
of the occurrence that seemed at all reasonable.

It was an age in which witches, fairies, and all sorts of supernatural
beings were believed to exist, and the fool had no doubt that a witch
had played this trick upon him. She would not need a donkey, for
everybody knew that when a witch wished to change her usual mode of
traveling, she could in the twinkling of an eye turn a bundle of faggots
into a horse, which would do very well until she wished to cross water,
when it would resume its original form. At any rate, Pittacus was no
sort of a mount for a witch, not being sufficiently swift for those
lively ladies. A witch could change almost anything into a hawk, so she
would not need Pandora, and as to his purse, what use would money be to
a creature who could have anything she wanted without the trouble of
paying for it? Yes, a witch had done this just from pure mischief and a
desire to meddle with something which did not in the least concern her.

Le Glorieux put his purse inside his doublet, determined that the next
person who took it from him, whether witch or highwayman, must fight to
get it. Then taking the bird on his wrist he said, "Pandora, you might,
yes, you might have given just one little shriek to let me know what was
going on. But why do I reproach you, when no doubt _she_ cast a spell
over you to keep you from making a sound?"

Then he remembered that with night coming on this was not a safe
locality in which to remain, for if witches could cut such capers in
broad daylight, what might they not do under cover of darkness, when
they are supposed to carry out their choicest and most fantastic
schemes? So he hurriedly mounted and sped along the road as rapidly as
the donkey could travel.

It was not a pleasant ride through the murky twilight and the gathering
gloom of the forest, which he now had entered. The limbs of a dead tree
seemed to be long gray arms reaching out to seize him, while to his
ears, strained to catch the slightest sound, the crackle of the leaves
in the breeze was the smothered laughter of certain ladies supposed to
ride on broomsticks, who were amusing themselves at the jester's
expense.

It was some time after dark when he saw a number of lights dotting the
gloom before him, and he knew that he was approaching Rennes. Greatly
cheered by the sight, he put spurs to Pittacus, and in a short time
arrived at the gates of the palace and galloped into the courtyard with
all the assurance of a guest who is expected.

As Le Glorieux dismounted a small figure came running out to meet him.
It was Antoine, who exclaimed, "Oh, Le Glorieux, how rejoiced I am that
you have arrived in safety!"

"If harm had befallen me I should have borne it alone," returned the
jester coldly, "as you did not wait for me as you promised to do."

"I--I--wanted to hurry," stammered the boy.

"Well, you _did_ hurry, and you were here long before me, and I hope you
are satisfied. Small difference does it make to you that those wretched
witches played me such a scurvy trick. They might have turned me into a
salamander for all you would have cared."

And without waiting for a reply the jester stalked away.

The various homes of the dukes of Brittany were sumptuous abodes, and
Francis the Second, the last of them, was a noble of great wealth who
spent his money freely, and was fond of beautifying his surroundings. Le
Glorieux walked through spacious apartments that were decorated, gilded,
and carved, and hung with richest tapestries, but he trod the polished
floors with the air of one who was perfectly at home in a palace, and
accustomed to luxurious surroundings. This was indeed the case, as he
had gone as a page to the court of Burgundy. He was so happy to be where
all was bright and cheerful and to have escaped from the dangers of the
forest, that he did not mind the severe scathing given him for his
tardiness by the Lady Clotilde.

The young Duchess of Brittany was in the long salon surrounded by the
ladies and gentlemen of her court. She was one of the most interesting
personages of Europe at that time, for, as has already been said, her
father's death had left her the richest heiress in Christendom, the
owner of a province that France had been trying by hook or by crook to
gain possession of for the last five hundred years; a young maiden whose
hand had already been sought by the heirs to the crowns of England,
France, Austria, and Spain, although she was but fifteen years of age.

The young readers of this story whose parents bear all their burdens for
them will find it difficult to understand the position of the little
duchess. Her father had idolized her and had stood between her and all
care, but at his death, three years before the time when we first meet
her, she found herself at the head of a government with many weighty
matters awaiting her decision, with a man she detested waiting to marry
her, with clever statesmen plotting against her, and great nations
threatening war. But now matters had taken a better turn; she had
refused to marry the detested man, France had withdrawn its troops from
Breton soil, and once more peace smiled upon the land.

The Lady Anne was tall for a girl of her age; she was very fair, and her
cheeks glowed with the bloom of health; her nose was straight, and when
she smiled her mouth was particularly attractive, the expression of her
face being always very pleasing. Her gown of soft dark silken material
was more simple than those worn by some of her ladies, and on her brown
hair she wore a kind of close cap made entirely of pearls.

"And you are Le Glorieux, sent by our cousin of Burgundy?" she said,
after the jester had made his obeisance.

"Yes, Cousin Anne. Her Grace of Burgundy wished to send you something
very precious, for she entertains a great amount of respect and love for
you. She had a big emerald which Uncle Philip had taken from a
Frenchman, who had taken it from a Spaniard, who had taken it from a
Moor, which she was going to send you, but she said, 'No, that is not my
most precious possession. The jewel of my heart is Le Glorieux, who
scintillates day and night; he shall be presented to the most beautiful
and the wisest of rulers.'"

The duchess laughed as she said, "Never did I expect to own so large a
jewel. Our cousin of Burgundy is most kind."

Passing the Lady Clotilde as he moved behind the chair of the duchess,
Le Glorieux whispered to the former, "At least we shall not be bored by
reminiscences here, for her Grace is too young to have had any past.
Cousin Clotilde, did you ever hear of the princess who kissed the
poet?"

The Lady Clotilde thought jokes a great waste of time, and she rarely
saw the point to one when she heard it, but now she actually smiled, an
act so unusual with this good lady that the jester afterward declared to
Antoine that the muscles of her face creaked, being rusty from disuse.

Time for the rich of the fifteenth century was divided quite differently
from what it is to-day. At dawn the watchman blew a horn to announce the
approach of day, after which the servants and retainers about the castle
began their serious duties, while the heads of the family dressed, said
their prayers, and attended mass in their own chapel.

At ten o'clock dinner was ready, and after remaining at table as long as
possible, the gentlemen adjourned to the courtyard to play tennis, a
game which is hundreds of years old. Supper was at four, after which the
lords and ladies of the manor were ready to be amused at whatever form
of divertisement that presented itself.

The duchess and her ladies had been playing at cards called "_tarots_,"
from their checkered backs, a game for which the Lady Anne, at least
to-night, did not seem to care, for she threw the cards about carelessly
and appeared to be thinking of something else.

She seemed to be relieved and to give a ready assent when a page
announced that there were certain performers below who craved the honor
of playing before her Grace, the Duchess of Brittany. Theaters as we
now have them were then unknown, and strolling players traveled over the
country doing their various tricks at inns or in the houses of the rich,
where they were paid according to the generosity of the audience. During
the day they performed in courtyards, but to-night they appeared in the
grand salon, the assembled company moving to one end of it to give
greater room.

First came a man with a performing monkey, whose antics excited roars of
laughter, followed by a _jongleuse_, or female juggler, who won a great
deal of admiration by her dexterity in whirling a little drum about on
the very tips of her fingers. Then came a man who could turn a number of
somersaults without touching his hands to the floor, which would seem to
have been a dangerous feat to attempt, for before each performance he
was careful to make the sign of the cross.

This ended the program of the players, and Le Glorieux, who had watched
them from his place on the floor, where, sprawling with his elbow
resting on a cushion, he was making himself as comfortable as possible,
was now anxious to have Antoine appear, for he knew that in his way the
boy was far more talented than any who had to-night performed before the
court. So, with the permission of the duchess, he went to fetch Antoine.

"Now, my young friend," said he, taking the boy by the ear, "I want you
to do us both credit. No choking and squeaking to-night, if you
please."

"You do not know what it is to be seized with a panic," retorted Antoine
sulkily. "Very easy it is for you, who have the impudence to flout
kings, to talk thus to one who is frightened of strangers."

"Fie!" exclaimed Le Glorieux. "Do not think of what the people think of
you; think of what you think of them, and you will have no trouble,"
which, although a sentence having a good many "thinks" in it, is not a
bad rule to follow when performing in public.

Antoine seemed to heed his friend's advice, for he began a lively air so
inspiring that the duchess kept time with her small fingers on the arm
of her chair, while Le Glorieux sprang up and danced in a series of
glides and whirls, with his fantastic figure reflected in the polished
floor.

A good while before the period of which I am telling you there were
trouveres and troubadours who used to compose songs while they were
singing them. Antoine, being a born musician, often did the same thing
when he was in the humor for it, and that, too with considerable
success.

He now began a weird little accompaniment suggesting the sighing of the
wind through the woods, and then followed the woeful tale of witches who
stole a knight's purse and horse and hawk, and later transformed the
knight himself into a dancing dervish who kept on whirling and whirling
for ever. There was a twinkle of mischief in the boy's eyes as he sang,
and although the company thrilled deliciously at the blood-curdling
passages, Le Glorieux knew quite well who was meant by the bewitched
knight.

When the song was finished the fool stalked forward and picked up the
singer by the back of the neck as a mother cat lifts her kittens. "I
understand it all now," said he. "Cousin Anne, I thought the witches had
played me a trick this afternoon, but it was this little villain, who
evidently skulked along behind me, awaiting his opportunity to do me
some mischief!"

"I am sure her Grace will not be interested in your private matters,"
said the Lady Clotilde coldly.

But the duchess was young enough to be interested in nonsense, and she
demanded the whole story, Antoine explaining his part of it by saying
that he had been waiting all day to be revenged upon his comrade because
the latter had insisted upon his singing at the inn on the previous
night. "But I did not know, your Highness, that he would sleep so long,
else I should not have gone away and left him there. I was very unhappy
about him when night came on and he had not yet arrived."

Just as Antoine had finished speaking, a servant came to announce the
coming of some of her Grace's soldiers, saying that the captain of her
troop desired an audience, which was granted at once.

An officer now entered, a dark-browed man with a somewhat forbidding
face, who, after bending the knee to the duchess and saluting the
company, began his story in the satisfied tone of one who feels that he
has been quick to see his duty and has done it rather better than most
people would have managed it in his place.

He said that he had stopped that morning at an inn for some
refreshments, and that the innkeeper had shown him a gold piece given
his child the night before by a little girl whose costume did not
warrant the gift, and that the latter had seemed so much superior in
station to the woman with whom she was traveling that he could not help
fearing that the child was being unlawfully conveyed away.

Later the officer and his men had overtaken the mysterious couple, and
after putting some questions the officer was convinced that the woman
had been sent to Brittany by the French, for she had become very much
confused when he questioned her, and implored him to allow her to go on
her way unmolested. Her words and manner excited his suspicions still
further, and without more ado he had taken them both prisoners, and had
brought them to the palace with him. The woman was a foreigner, she
said, but she acknowledged that she had lived for years in France, and
he did not hesitate to say that he believed her to be a spy.

The Lady Anne, so far from being gratified by this intelligence, looked
very much annoyed. "We are no longer at war with France," she said
coldly. "It would have been better to have believed the woman's account
of herself and let the two go on their way."

Considerably dismayed at thus being reproved where he had expected to be
commended, the officer could not forbear to reply that France had broken
her word with Brittany in the past, and who could tell but that she
might be planning some new piece of treachery?

"Let the prisoners appear before me," said the duchess, and after some
little delay the prisoners were brought in, and Le Glorieux and Antoine
beheld--as the former, at least, had suspected--the same woman and child
who had stopped at the inn on the previous night.

The woman was pale and frightened, and she sobbed bitterly as she knelt
at the feet of her Grace of Brittany. The child too was pale, but she
stood silent, with her small hands clasped before her, not offering to
kneel, as did her companion.

"Oh, gracious lady, give us permission to go on our way at dawn
to-morrow!" imploded the woman. "We have been brought out of our way by
your soldiers, and if we do not reach home soon I do not know what will
happen," and she concluded with another burst of tears.

"You should be German by your accent," said the duchess kindly. "Calm
yourself and tell me your name and why you have come to Brittany."

The woman hesitated, and the child said quietly, "Tell her Grace your
name; there is no reason why you should not do so."

"Cunegunda Leutner; I am an Austrian, your Grace," was the reply.

"Then she is a subject of your own, after all, Cousin Anne, since you
are to marry the Archduke of Austria, _Poco Danari_," interposed Le
Glorieux, who was not afraid to rush in where angels fear to tread.

The little duchess blushed crimson at this speech. Perhaps she was
annoyed to hear the name _Poco Danari_, which means poverty-stricken,
applied to her lover, and which had been given to Maximilian of Austria
because his rich old father was too stingy to allow him necessary funds.
Whatever the cause, she seemed about to administer a rebuke to the fool,
then controlling herself turned again to the woman.

"And the girl, is she your child?"

"No, your Grace, but I have cared for her from the day she was born."

"What brought you to Brittany?"

"For the reason I told your Grace's soldiers. I visited the shrine of
Saint Roch, the blessed saint whose fame for healing all maladies is
known far and wide."

"You do not look like an invalid," remarked the duchess, surveying the
stout figure and round face of the speaker.

"It is the migraine, your Grace, a pain which has troubled me day and
night, and which leeches tell me is liable to reach the heart. Oh, dear
and gracious lady, I should not care for myself; life is not so precious
that I should want to cling to it; it is for this little one that I want
to live, and for that reason I have taken this long journey to implore
the blessed saint to cure me, that my life may be spared until she no
longer needs me."

"Is the child an orphan?"

"Her mother is dead, your Grace. Her mother bade me always to be a
friend to her, and I promised."

"Her father is married to a woman who is unkind to her?"

"He--he--is about to be married, your Grace," stammered the woman.

"Cousin Anne," again interrupted the jester, "this woman is telling the
truth about the visit to the shrine of Saint Roch. I saw her and the
child going there this morning just as I was coming away after a long
prayer to be relieved of the gout, which I never have had, but which may
overtake me like a thief in the night."

Every one smiled at this remark save the duchess, who again turned to
the Austrian. "Why did you bring the child with you upon a journey
fraught with discomfort, if not with danger?"

"Because, your Grace, I have sworn never to leave her, and never a night
of her life has she slept without my first smoothing the coverlid over
her little body."

"What is her name? Who is she?"

The Austrian was silent a moment. "If it please your Grace, there are
reasons which forbid a reply to that question," she said slowly.

"But I insist upon a reply," said the Duchess Anne, with a touch of that
firmness which made her appear older than her years.

The prisoner bent her head still lower as she replied in tones of
emotion, "Gracious lady, so well beloved by your subjects, show us a
little of that kindness you vouchsafe to others. We ask no favor but to
be allowed to depart early to-morrow morning. It is _necessary_ for us
to go. I know not what will happen if we are longer delayed. Believe me,
I am speaking the truth."

"Truly," said the young duchess gently, "we each have a right to the
secret of our hearts." After a moment's reflection she said, "You shall
go within five days at most, and in a company that will insure your
protection. Until your departure you shall be made as comfortable as
possible, and you shall not leave my domains empty-handed. This much at
least I owe you for the discomfort you have suffered through my
overzealous soldiers."

To remain as a guest in this splendid abode, and to receive a sum of
money at the end of the visit, to say nothing of a safe conduct home,
would not by most people be considered a hardship, but the woman
looked as if she had received a blow. "Oh, lady," she moaned, "your
Grace means to be kind, but let us go to-morrow. Not an hour longer must
we wait. Even now our absence may be discovered."

"Discovered?" said the Lady Anne. "Why should a pious journey require so
much secrecy? But guard your secret if you like. You shall depart within
five days, as I have said; it may be a little earlier; it will not be
longer than that time."

"Alas," cried the woman, turning wildly to the child and seeming to
forget all caution, "what will _she_ say when she finds that we are
away? Cold and revengeful as her father, she may send me to my death!"

"Of whom are you speaking?" asked the duchess wonderingly. "Who has the
power to punish so severely a pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Roch?"

[Illustration: "I am Marguerite of Hapsburg!"]

Overcome by her emotion, the woman made no reply, but the child now
stepped forward and said in a voice that all might hear, "The Duchess of
Brittany has no right to keep me here against my will! I shall depart
when I please. My rank is higher than yours. You ask my name? You shall
know it, happen what will. I am the granddaughter of an emperor; I am
the future Queen of France. _I am Marguerite of Hapsburg!_"

An earthquake shaking the palace from turret to donjon keep would not
have caused a greater degree of surprise, for there was something in
the manner, the tone, and the expression of the child that left no room
for doubt. Her exquisitely-poised head was thrown proudly back, and
though her full red lips quivered slightly, her eyes were dry and
bright.

Strange to say, the fool of the company was the first to gain his
self-possession. With a swift, gliding step he advanced toward the
little lady, and kneeling he pressed her hand to his lips. "Mary's
little child!" he exclaimed with a half sob.

"You said last night that you would give a year of your life to see the
daughter of Mary of Burgundy, and now your wish is granted for naught,"
said Marguerite, smiling.

The Lady Anne now came forward, and clasping the princess in her arms
kissed her on both cheeks. "The little lady whom of all others I have
most desired to see!" she said. "Happily sheltered in the arms of my own
dear father I heard of you, a tiny child away from your parents and in a
strange country. And once I sent you a doll. I dare say you have
forgotten it," she went on, half laughing. "It was a fashion model that
had been sent to my grandmother, who was going to live at the court of
France in the time of Charles the Seventh, and it was one of my dearest
possessions. It wore a high pointed cap with a long flowing veil, and it
had long pointed shoes."

"It must have looked like the old Duchess of Burgundy," remarked Le
Glorieux, who was again his old impudent self. "Did it talk of the
princess who kissed the poet, Cousin Anne?"

"It was dressed in the mode of the princess who kissed the poet," she
returned, laughing. "Do you remember it, Lady Marguerite?"

"Yes, Lady Anne, and I have it still. Since the day you sent it I always
have remembered you in my prayers. With it came a little chain set with
pearls, but I liked the doll best."

Just here the jester began to laugh immoderately, slapping his knees and
stamping at the same time, while every one else smiled in sympathy.

"What do you find so very amusing, Fool?" asked the Lady Anne.

He replied, "Some things that happen in royal families are so very funny
that they would make Pandora, my hawk, laugh, though she is such a sulky
little brute. Once explained to Pittacus, my donkey, and he would smile
until every tooth in his head could be seen. You asked if this child's
father was married to a woman who was unkind to her, and her nurse said
he was about to be married. And you, Cousin Anne, ha! ha! you are to be
the cruel stepmother!"

There was no denying the fact that the Lady Anne was about to be the
stepmother of the Lady Marguerite, for Maximilian, who was still young
and handsome, was shortly to marry the young Duchess of Brittany.

But again the duchess seemed to be embarrassed, and she turned her back
to Le Glorieux as she said, "My dear Lady Marguerite, I will not keep
you here a moment when you must be overcome with fatigue. I will send
you to your apartments, where supper shall be served you, and then when
you have retired and are resting I will come and talk to you, if I may."

The princess, so far from being conducted to the plain but comfortable
quarters which would have been hers had her identity remained a secret,
was now shown all the deference accorded a person of rank. Pages, maids,
and even ladies of high degree, rushed about to make her comfortable, a
delicious supper was served, and she lay down to rest beneath the
gold-embroidered canopy of a couch even more sumptuous than her own bed
in the palace of Amboise.

Cunegunda, who had been given a room next to that of her young mistress,
after smoothing the silken coverlid over her young charge, satisfied
that nothing dreadful was going to happen to-night, at least, had
retired, and was sleeping the sleep of the fatigued when the Lady Anne
entered the apartment of her young guest.

The duchess had changed her gown for a long robe of dark blue silk
trimmed in fur, with a little cap of the same, and in this plainer garb
she seemed younger and less stately than in the earlier part of the
evening.

The princess, with her bright hair flowing over the cushions against
which she leaned, seemed pathetically young, and it is a singular fact
that about these two children revolved the most important events in the
history of Europe at that time, events which drove great statesmen to
their wits' end, and changed the map of France for all time.

[Illustration: "And now tell me all about it"]

Sitting on the edge of the bed the Lady Anne took the hand Marguerite
stretched out to her, and stroking it gently, said simply, "And now tell
me all about it. I long to know why France so lightly guards a princess
intrusted to her keeping."

"It was as Cunegunda told you," was the reply. "She was suffering and
the leeches frightened her. She always has been my nurse. When I was a
baby, and, by the desire of our subjects, was sent with my brother to
live in Flanders, my beautiful young mother--whom I can not
remember--made Cunegunda promise never to leave me, for she knew that my
nurse loved me, and love can not be bought. My mother, as you know, was
killed when hunting, but Cunegunda never forgot her promise. She came to
France with me, and though there are with me Lady Ravenstein and others
of my father's court, I feel that none of them is so fond of me as she,
for I know that if necessary she would give her life for mine. Anne of
Beaujeu, Duchess of Bourbon and sister to the king, is like King Louis,
her father, and she would not scruple to take a cruel revenge should
she feel so inclined. We both dislike her very much, and that is why we
are anxious to return before she hears of our absence."

"Did no one know that you had left the palace of Amboise?" asked the
duchess.

"Only a few of the servants, who were bribed to keep silence. The
Duchess of Bourbon lately has been away, and I have seen but little of
her. Some of the other ladies have been ill, and one of them is about to
be married. Cunegunda gave it out that I had been attacked by some
contagious childish malady, I do not know what, and this kept them away
from my apartments, and we stole out early one morning and mounting our
mules came away."

"Were you not afraid to go on a journey without any one of authority in
your train, and with no one to guard you from highwaymen?"

"No, Lady Anne. Cunegunda loves me, you know, and she was better than
any one of rank. She made a little stuff gown for me, and she said that
traveling alone and unattended we should attract no attention, and could
go on our way unmolested.

"I have been quite happy during the trip, for it was all so new and so
strange to me, and it was so pleasant not to be surrounded by people who
were always watching me. But it was my fault that we excited suspicion.
I went down to the inn kitchen to see what the common people do when
they are having a festival, and I felt that I must give a gold piece
to the baby who had been named Mary in memory of my dear mother. It
appears that ordinary people do not give away so much money, and that is
what made the company at the inn suspicious."

"And no wonder, you innocent little girl," returned the Lady Anne,
smiling. "A person of the station represented by your dress would have
given, if anything, just the smallest piece of silver which is fastened
to a bit of leather to keep it from being lost."

"I am afraid," went on the princess, "of the consequences of our trip to
Cunegunda if our absence should be discovered, and as we have been away
longer than we had planned, I fear that even those who were bribed to
keep silence will think that something has happened to us, and will feel
it their duty to report our absence. Cunegunda is afraid of this, and
she is terrified when she thinks of Anne of Beaujeu. But as we shall go
to-morrow morning, perhaps we shall be in Amboise before we have been
missed."

"Indeed, you are not going to-morrow morning, my dear little sister and
cousin," said Anne, using the term employed by royalties when addressing
each other.

"Then I am afraid that we shall have a great deal of trouble when we do
return," said the princess coldly. "Of course we can not help ourselves;
we must remain here if you command it, but I can not see how if will
benefit you to make us stay against our will. I had hoped that it would
be different when you had been told who you were detaining; I am sorry
now that I revealed our secret."

She turned her head slightly, and a tear rolled over her temple and
dropped into the meshes of her bright hair.

The duchess thrust her arm under the child's head, and clasping her
affectionately said, "Do you think, foolish little one, that I am
keeping you here for spite? Within a few days you shall set out for
Amboise with an escort that even a queen would not disdain."

"It would avail us nothing to return in royal style if we were to be
punished sorely at the end of the journey," returned Marguerite dryly.

"You shall not be punished. I already have sent a messenger to the King
of France explaining your absence, stating that you are in my keeping,
and that you will return in safety."

"The King? Oh, the King would not care. But it is not he who rules
France at present; it is his sister, Anne of Beaujeu."

"Let it be Anne of Beaujeu, then," cried the young duchess. "I promise
that not one of your golden hairs shall be touched, and that your
faithful nurse shall not be harmed in the least."

She rose as she spoke and looked down upon her guest with a proud smile.
"France will hardly refuse a request made just now by Anne of
Brittany," she said.

"I feel that you will do what you promise, though I do not quite
understand," returned Marguerite with a sigh of relief.

For a few moments Anne remained silent, playing with the gilt cords that
looped back the curtains of the bed. Then she said, "You evidently do
not know that since our recent conflict with France a treaty has been
signed whereby I am allowed safe conduct to join the King of the Romans,
your father, in Austria. I may sail from St. Malo or go through France,
as I choose. I shall take the latter route, and you and your attendant
shall go with my suite to the nearest point to Amboise, where you can
travel the remainder of the way in safety. Even before I knew your rank
I did not like to think of a dainty little creature like you traveling
over the country with none to guard you but a woman of the people, and I
was going to let you make the journey under my protection. But now you
shall ride by my side on the prettiest palfrey in my stables, or in one
of my litters if you prefer it." And she gave Marguerite a light kiss on
the brow.

"Oh, I am so glad that you are going to marry my father!" cried the
princess, with sparkling eyes. "He sent me his portrait by the Austrian
ambassador, and he is as beautiful as a knight of the Holy Grail. If I
were not the heiress of Burgundy and Flanders, but only a little
peasant girl, I could live under my father's roof as other children do.
But this happiness is not to be granted me, for it is arranged that I am
to be Queen of France."

"Those in whose veins courses royal blood may not do as their hearts
dictate," said Anne thoughtfully. "But let us talk no more to-night, for
it is time for those bright eyes to be closed in sleep."

The two girls embraced affectionately; then the duchess left the room.



CHAPTER IV

BROKEN PROMISES


After meeting "little Mademoiselle of Austria," as Marguerite was called
in the court of Brittany, both Le Glorieux and Antoine felt that they
would like to be in her service, and that it was to her, the daughter of
their own Mary of Burgundy, to whom they owed their loyalty.

The morning after her arrival the princess sent for Le Glorieux and
Antoine to come to her. The Duchess Anne had seen to it that her guest
should be clad in a costume befitting her rank, and the coarse gown of
the peasant child had been discarded for ever.

Marguerite asked the two comrades a great many questions about the
province of Burgundy, and the jester told her many incidents of her
mother's girlhood. She listened to Antoine's Burgundian songs with great
delight, and she expressed a wish that both jester and musician might
accompany her to Amboise, though she said she would not be so selfish as
to deprive the Duchess of Brittany of two such merrymakers.

Cunegunda, however, was not happy at the court of Brittany. "I wish that
we had been permitted to continue our journey as we began it," she
said. "I am convinced that it would have been far better for both of
us."

"I am not afraid," replied her mistress calmly. "The Lady Anne has
promised that we shall return in safety, and she will not break her
word." But Cunegunda's round rosy face remained thoughtful and sad.

"Something tells me that things are not right," said she. "I seem to
feel it in the air. Everything is going too well for us. Here is your
little Highness treated like a very queen with everything done to amuse
you, and both of us so comfortable in this beautiful palace that I feel
that it is all too good to be true."

The next afternoon Le Glorieux, who, as has been said, being a jester
was privileged to go where he liked, rushed into the apartments of the
princess with the remark, "Our Duchess of Brittany soon to be married is
listening to a strange man by the oriel window in the grand corridor."

"A jest upon such a subject does not amuse me in the least," replied the
Lady Marguerite reprovingly.

"By the mass! nor does it amuse me, for from the few words I caught I am
sure it means something quite serious for you, little Cousin."

"Please explain your meaning."

The jester replied, "I was looking at those suits of armor, in the
corridor, worn by the ancient Dukes of Brittany. I was counting the
dents made in the helmets and corselets by mace and battle-ax, and
wondering if it paid to fight so fiercely, since, after all, the time
would come when the bravest would be as dead as anybody else, when I
heard the tinkle of ladies' voices, and who should come into the
corridor but Cousin Anne and Clotilde."

[Illustration: "I slipped behind the armor of a giant duke"]

"I slipped behind the armor of a giant duke and stood waiting to see
what was going to happen, for the duchess was as white as Dame
Cunegunda's cap and the countenance of Clotilde was screwed into an
expression I never had seen it wear in all the years I have reveled in
the joy of her acquaintance. They waited for a few moments, then the
door at the other end of the corridor was opened and two gentlemen
entered."

"And who were they?" asked Cunegunda breathlessly.

"I have not the pleasure of the acquaintance of all the gentlemen of
Europe," replied the fool, "and I did not recognize them; but I knew at
once that they were Frenchmen. As soon as they had greeted the ladies
the taller of the two retired to the other end of the corridor, and
Clotilde, as if not to be outdone in politeness, withdrew to the other
door; but I remained quietly in my place, for I wanted to hear what was
going on. Why is it that people always talk in such low mumbling voices
when one is trying to hear what they are saying? I have good large
ears, and I strained them to their utmost capacity, but I could only
catch a word now and then.

"I know that the gentleman was urging Cousin Anne to do something she
did not want to do, and that it was a plot against Mademoiselle of
Austria, for I heard Anne say, 'Dishonorable both to the King of the
Romans and to the Lady Marguerite.' I wanted to hear more, but Clotilde,
who I verily believe was created on purpose to make me uncomfortable,
seemed to suspect that there was somebody in the place who had not been
invited and began to peer about pop-eyed, like a cat in search of a
mouse."

"Well, continue!" said Cunegunda impatiently, as the fool paused.

"Let a man reach for his breath, can't you? That was a long sentence. I
felt that I was not safe with Clotilde on the hunt for me, so, keeping
well in the shadows, I managed to slip to the nearest archway, and I am
here with a whole skin, which might not have been the case if Clotilde
had spied me out."

"How did the gentleman appear?" asked Cunegunda.

"He appeared to be pretty well, though somewhat anxious," replied the
jester.

"She meant to ask you to describe him," said the princess.

"He was not beautiful," was the reply. "I could show you a handsomer
man among her Grace's falconers and could pick a better-looking one from
a good many other crowds. Put into the suit of armor behind which I
stood he would have rattled about like a nut on the inside of a drum.
His head was large and his nose, instead of coming straight down, as a
sensible nose should do, made a curve over the top. His eyes were big
and bright, and Nature, as if to make an apology for giving him such a
nose, had stuck a dimple in his chin, which was poor taste on her part,
for a dimple looks queer with that kind of a nose. But his manner was so
gracious that I fancy one would soon forget his ugliness and think only
of the real man shut inside that unprepossessing shell.

"That was a clever sentence, was it not?" asked the fool, stopping
suddenly. "I did not know that I could do it. I wish I could always talk
like that."

"Did he have a fashion of smoothing his hair from his brow as he
talked?" asked the princess.

"Yes, I noticed that. He held his cap in his hand, as a gentleman
should. It was black, with a long black plume clasped in place by a
great jewel that seemed to wink at me as he talked."

"It was Charles of France!"

"It was the King!" exclaimed Marguerite and her woman in the same
breath.

"Because he wore a jewel in his cap?" asked the jester. "Oh, fie! that
is a common fashion."

"You have described the King's face and figure exactly," said Cunegunda.

"Since you mention it, I think it must have been the King," said the
fool, "for I now recall the fact that the lady addressed him as
'Monseigneur,' a title not given to common mortals."

"Oh, what is going to happen to us now?" cried Cunegunda, in an agony of
distress. "I have known all along that something dreadful was in store
for us in this place."

"Then it must be a mournful satisfaction to you to know that you were
not mistaken," remarked Le Glorieux.

"Do not stand there making senseless speeches," cried the Austrian woman
angrily, "but try to help us out of our troubles. But why do I appeal to
you? You do not care for us; you are in the service of our enemies."

The jester instantly became serious. "If danger threatens I will serve
but one. I shall know no allegiance but to the princess of my own
country, the daughter of my beloved mistress."

Marguerite smiled brightly as she said, "I have no fear that you will
not defend me if it should become necessary, Le Glorieux. But I do not
think the time has yet come for you to fight for me.

"Your Highness talks like a baby," cried Cunegunda, "and as if you were
a person of no consequence! Is it a matter of small moment that the
granddaughter of the emperor should be in the clutches of Anne of
Brittany, who is plotting against her with the King of France?"

"But why should the King of France plot against me, since I am to be the
queen and my provinces will one day belong to him?" replied her little
mistress.

"Who can account for the strange schemes of great nations?" asked
Cunegunda. "Perhaps your marriage with the King of France is about to be
broken off and he and the Duchess of Brittany will hold you as a hostage
to extract a large sum from the emperor, your grandfather."

"It would be cruel to demand a large sum from that old and stingy man,"
remarked Le Glorieux. "The gold of Frederick is as hard to dig out of
his coffers as if it were a thousand feet under ground."

"We shall not need his money for that purpose," said the princess. "My
dear Duchess of Brittany will never betray me, nor will Charles of
France, who is too good and kind to seek to injure me."

"The King is under the influence of his sister, who has no thought but
for her own schemes," replied the woman firmly. "We must leave here at
once! We can escape to-night unseen and remain in some quiet village
until we shall be able to communicate with Austria."

Le Glorieux sat down on the floor and pressed his hands to his head.
"This matter is enough to puzzle a wise man, to say nothing of a fool,"
said he dolefully. "Now, let us look at it as it really is and try to
straighten it all out." Holding his left hand out in front of him and
gesticulating with his right, he went on. "This thumb is Mademoiselle of
Austria; this forefinger is the Duchess Anne; the second finger is the
King of France, and the third is the King of the Romans. Now, Anne is
going to marry the King of the Romans, whose daughter is going to marry
the King of France. But what must Anne be at but engaged in a plot
against the daughter of the man she is going to marry in order to make
things fine and pleasant for her by the time she arrives in Austria.
This plot, so far as I can see, is one which the King of France has no
reason in this world to have a finger in, but which he takes all the
trouble to come in secret to help carry out!"

"Do not sit there tapping first one finger and then the other like a
great booby, but help us to get away from here," said Cunegunda angrily.
"Here is money to bribe the groom to keep silent. See that our mules are
brought out----"

"Stop!" said Marguerite, in a tone of calm authority. "I have told the
Duchess of Brittany that I would trust her, and intend to do so. I shall
remain here until she goes."

"Remain here with your life in danger?" cried Cunegunda, aghast.

"My life is not in danger. I know not of what she was speaking to the
King of France, nor how Le Glorieux may have misunderstood her, but
whatever it is, my life is not in peril while I am beneath the roof of
Anne of Brittany. Therefore I will not steal away in the night like a
criminal. She has said that not one hair of my head shall be touched,
and she will not be faithless to her promise. There is nothing for us to
do but to keep silent and wait."

"And those two are the hardest things in this world to do," said the
fool. "To wait is worse than the toothache, to keep silent is worse than
the plague, but put the two together and they are enough to destroy life
and reason."

At supper the question of the significance of dreams came up, all
discussing it in an animated manner save the Lady Anne, who toyed with
her wineglass, often gazing down into it as if trying to read her future
in its ruby depths. Le Glorieux sat on a low stool at her side, making a
remark when he felt so inclined, and studying her face when he was not
talking.

"There are dreams which always come true for _me_," said the Lady
Clotilde in the tone of one whose word can not be disputed. "A dream of
the dead is one of great importance, as every one knows. When I dream of
my father something of moment always happens. He always addresses me as
'My sweet and amiable child.'"

"All kinds of love are blind," remarked the jester. "I had a dream
myself last night that is of great importance," he went on with his
eyes fixed on the Lady Anne's face. "I thought the affairs of Brittany,
Austria, and France were a pack of cards, all arranged smoothly, with
the proper kings and queens together and the knaves at the bottom of the
pack. Then I could see the knaves grow restless and begin to flutter,
and lo! the whole pack went spinning in the air, whirling about like
dead leaves in the mistral. And when they came together again the wrong
kings and queens were mated; for instance, the Queen of Diamonds was
paired with the King of Clubs!"

A wave of color swept over the fair face of the duchess, but she said
calmly, "It is said that dreams go by contraries, Fool; therefore yours
signifies that the kings will find their proper queens."

But the Lady Clotilde, as the jester afterward said, "pinned him with
her eye," and later she said in his ear, "I heard a 'fluttering' behind
the armor this afternoon that was not cards, for with it was a faint
jingle of bells."

"It must have been a dream, Cousin Clotilde," he returned boldly, but he
gnashed his teeth as he thought, "Those wretched bells have betrayed me,
though I put up my hands and muffled them."

It was late on the following morning when the watchman blew his horn,
and when the Lady Marguerite woke it seemed to her that the palace was
unusually quiet. She threw her arms over her head and smiled happily as
one who has pleasant anticipations, for a new game in the courtyard had
been promised and it was of that she had thought upon wakening.

The Lady Clotilde entered, followed by a tiring woman. "Her Grace, the
Duchess of Brittany, bade me tell your Highness that she was obliged to
depart early this morning for reasons which she can not at present
explain," said Lady Clotilde. "A proper escort has been provided for
you. I shall take charge of you, and in two days we shall start for
Amboise."

"The Duchess of Brittany has gone to join my father without a word of
farewell to me?" cried the princess, in astonishment. "And she promised
so faithfully that I should accompany her as far as possible on her
journey!"

"A change of circumstances sometimes necessitates a change of plans, and
one is often compelled to break a promise made in good faith. Her Grace
bade me assure you upon her honor that no harm shall come to you, and
that you shall return to Amboise in safety, and also that neither you
nor your nurse shall be reproached for your escapade. And now the mind
of your Highness should be at rest. Moreover, she bade me say that since
the jester, Le Glorieux, is so devoted to your Highness she has given
him to you. And permit me to say upon my own account, that as the
singing of the page Antoine la Fitte affords your Highness so much
pleasure I shall feel highly honored if you will deign to accept his
services and keep him as your own."

"I thank you," replied the princess. "I shall be delighted to have in my
service two servitors who amuse me so much, and who will be as faithful
to me as I am sure the Burgundians will be. And I feel that I can safely
trust in the promise of the Lady Anne."

"I begin to think that my dream about the cards is likely to come true,"
said Le Glorieux later to the Lady Clotilde.

"And I think that for you a tongue well behind the teeth is the safest
attitude to assume in this case," she returned with a frown.

"That is a strange piece of advice to give, Cousin Clotilde," he
replied. "Do you usually talk with your tongue in front of your teeth? I
never do."

"You know quite well what I mean," snapped the lady.

       *       *       *       *       *

The journey from Rennes to Amboise was not a pleasant one, for the fine
weather had been succeeded by chill winds, but the litter of
Mademoiselle of Austria was furnished with rich furs to protect her from
the cold, and with her train of guards and attendants she traveled in a
style befitting a princess.

News traveled very slowly in the fifteenth century, and it was not until
they had reached Amboise that the mystery which had so puzzled
Marguerite and her friends was explained.

The little Lady Marguerite was received in great state at the palace of
Amboise by Anne of Beaujeu, Duchess of Bourbon. This princess was a
tall, handsome, and resolute woman. Louis the Eleventh said of her when
he named her Regent of France, "She is the least foolish of women," for,
being crabbed and disagreeable, he thought all women more or less
foolish, but that this stately daughter was the most sensible of her
sex.

The clandestine journey of the little princess and her woman was not
alluded to by the Duchess of Bourbon, and one would have thought that
the escapade of a princess disguised as a peasant was an event of common
occurrence.

"And now, Madame," said Marguerite, "perhaps you can tell me why the
city of Amboise is draped in cloth of gorgeous colors, and why
everywhere is the air of a festival which I can not think is caused by
my return."

"Madame," replied Anne of Beaujeu in even tones, "a matter has been kept
from you for some days, for to me was assigned the duty of acquainting
you with a certain piece of news. It has been deemed best that the
marriages between the houses of Austria and France and Austria and
Brittany should be broken off, although both France and Brittany have
appreciated the honor of the alliance. Therefore, a marriage has taken
place between the King of France and the Duchess of Brittany."

"The King of France and the Duchess of Brittany!" exclaimed Marguerite,
with flashing eyes. "The King of France was solemnly betrothed to _me_!
Has the treaty of Arras been forgotten? And the King of the Romans, my
father, too, has been insulted! Oh, I _hate_ France, I hate every inch
of it! And the Lady Anne! Why, she told me that she was to marry my
father, that she had accepted safe conduct to Austria! And her eyes were
so truthful when she said it. Why should she have deceived me when I
trusted her, when I--I--loved her so!"

The wound to her heart was greater than that to her pride, and, covering
her face with her hands, the little princess wept.

"The Duchess of Brittany expected to be married to Maximilian of Austria
when she talked of the matter to you," said Anne of Beaujeu. "It was but
a few days before the marriage that she agreed to accept the King of
France, an alliance which she was convinced was for the best interests
of her people."

"And what is to become of me?" asked Marguerite.

"You shall be sent in the state suited to your rank back to Austria. I
beg your Highness to take the matter more philosophically. I greatly
deplore the fact that you should have been thus wounded, but in the
great affairs of nations personal concerns must take a second place."

[Illustration: The little Princess continued to sob]

The little princess continued to sob, and all withdrew save the jester,
who, kneeling at her feet, said gently, "Little Cousin, when the
daughter of Austria is ready to wed, the prince of a greater nation than
France may be found for her." Then, assuming a lighter tone, he went on,
"And a handsomer husband can be easily found than this stunted king. And
think of it, little lady, you will shortly see your father!"

"Ah!" cried Marguerite, dashing away her tears and springing to her
feet, while a smile dimpled the corners of her mouth, "I had not thought
of that! At last I shall see my father! Happy as a peasant child I shall
live under his roof! After all, the good God has been gracious to me and
has granted my wish."

"And Antoine and I will go with you, leaving the Lady Clotilde carefully
behind," cried Le Glorieux. "The Lady Anne has give me to you, and you
see I am still, in another way, the Lady Anne's present!"



CHAPTER V

THE WONDERFUL WISDOM OF PITTACUS


To go away at that moment, to leave the hated soil of France
forevermore, was now the ardent desire of the little princess, but even
royal ladies can not always do as they would like, and she was made to
realize that some days must elapse before it would be possible for her
to set out for her own country, where her father and her brother would
be waiting for her.

The chief delight of the princess at this time was in listening to the
songs of Burgundy as sung by the tuneful voice of Antoine. Anne of
Beaujeu entered her apartments one morning when the boy was singing his
Burgundian chansons. That cold and dignified lady was quite favorably
impressed by the singer's talent, and requested him to sing a well-known
French song.

"Madame," said the princess, "I shall be pleased to have my page sing
for you anything that you may fancy, but you will pardon me if I leave
the room while he sings of the glories of France!" And she walked out
with her head held high in the air.

Cunegunda was now utterly happy. Her migraine had been cured, thanks to
Saint Roch or to the change of air and scene necessitated by the
journey to his shrine, and she was going to return to her beloved
country.

"Ah, there is a land governed by a majestic ruler, a man who looks like
a sovereign," said she proudly. "But the kings of France, pouf! The old
king, who was alive when we came, looked like an old peasant, with his
claw-like hands and his awkward legs, and the present one, who in the
very bloom of his youth should be ruddy and handsome, has a large head
and is undersized and is not at all kingly in appearance."

"But let us think only of the real man shut inside of that
unprepossessing shell," said Le Glorieux, adding, "There is that clever
sentence again; I was afraid I had forgotten it."

"I do not see anything so very clever about it," retorted Dame
Cunegunda; "anybody could have thought it out."

"Anybody might think out things, my good Frau," he replied, "but it is
the knowing just when to say them that counts. But I have very bad news
for you, and instead of discussing my wonderful gift of always being
able to say the right thing at the right time, I really should be bathed
in tears."

"Has something dreadful happened to my father? Has news come from
Austria?" asked Marguerite, in alarm.

"By no means. Calm yourself, my little princess. The King of the Romans
may be at this moment climbing the cliffs to surprise the wary chamois,
or he may be defying some unlucky knight to mortal combat in the
tournament."

"Then it must have been decided that we are to remain in France," cried
Cunegunda. "Oh, unlucky was the day that we ever set foot in this unholy
land! I might have known that there was no such good luck for me as to
leave it!"

"Now you are preparing to cry," said the jester reproachfully, "and if
there is anything in this world I dislike to see it is a woman with her
face all wrinkled up ready for a boohoo. Your face is round and rosy,
and looks well enough when you let it alone, but ever since I have
become acquainted with you, you have been ready to weep at a moment's
warning; you have shed at least a barrel of tears, and what good has it
done you? Learn a lesson of me and smile at things instead of crying
about them."

"I never should want to smile had I so wide a mouth as yours," retorted
Cunegunda, forgetting in her indignation that she had not yet learned
the news that Le Glorieux had come to tell.

"My mouth is the right width for a man of my height," returned he, "and
could not be improved upon. But to return to the matter in hand, I will
say right here and now that we are going to sail away as soon as the
good ships can be made ready for us."

"Then, what is your news? be not so long about telling it," said
Marguerite, knitting her straight brows into a frown.

"It is, alas, alas, that Clotilde is going with us to the domains of
your royal grandfather!"

"This is news, indeed. Why must she go?"

"It appears that the new Queen of France, who so cleverly slipped into
your place, my little princess, and caught the crown as it was about to
settle itself upon your golden head--let me see, where was I?"

"What of the Queen of France?" asked Marguerite.

"Oh, yes; Anne wants a lady of her own kin to accompany you to your
native country, to escort you, to watch over you; and Clotilde, you
know, is a relative of Anne's, though they are about as much alike as
Pandora, my hawk, is like a meek little dove. Nature makes a mistake
sometimes and links the wrong people together by the ties of blood; I do
not know why, but so it is. I had hoped that the shores of France and
the sour face of Clotilde would disappear together from my view, but
perfect happiness is possible for no one, and moreover, I never was very
lucky."

"If the Lady Clotilde is a relative of the young Queen of France, how
does it happen that she has lived so long in Burgundy?" asked Cunegunda.

"My good friend," replied the jester, "you may have forgotten that
sometimes even the sourest of women have an opportunity to marry. They
manage it, I think, by the aid of witchcraft, and in her youth the
sharp black eyes of Clotilde captivated a Burgundian noble who afterward
was killed in the wars, and probably was glad of it, considering the
life she must have led him."

A number of proverbs have been suggested by the fact that people often
appear upon the scene while they are being talked about, and just as he
finished his sentence the Lady Clotilde parted the curtains that hung at
the doorway. She looked as pleased as her usually stern countenance
would permit, and she was accompanied by a boy about fourteen years of
age. This boy, afterward Duke of Savoy, and called Philibert the
Handsome, was so beautiful that it was a joy to look upon him. The
contour of his head, his straight nose, and his well-cut lips were as
perfect as if they had been carved from marble by the skillful, loving
hand of a sculptor, while his brilliant coloring, his dark and shining
eyes, were made still more attractive by the expression of his
countenance, which was frank and pleasing. For those days, when men and
women vied with each other in the selection of gaudy colors, he was
quite plainly clad, wearing a suit of dark velvet with no ornaments
whatever.

"I wish to present to your Highness a young relative of mine," announced
the Lady Clotilde. "He is Philibert, son of the Count de Bresse of
Savoy."

The boy kissed the hand Marguerite extended to him, and the Lady
Clotilde continued, "His father is an ally, as your Highness probably
knows, of the King of France."

"To gain my favor it is not necessary to be an ally of France," said
Marguerite shortly.

"And you are right, Madame," replied the boy quickly. "Were I in my
father's place never again would I draw my sword for France, for nations
as well as gentlemen should keep their promises."

This reply pleased the princess so much that her heart was won at once,
and she smiled brightly upon the boy as Le Glorieux said, "And now tell
me, Cousin Clotilde, how this young gentleman happens to be of your kin.
He does not resemble you in the least."

"I am not so sure about that," said the lady. "On the contrary, I think
that he looks quite as I did at his age, and even now I can trace a
great resemblance between his countenance and my own."

"Your eyes are very sharp, my lady, and you possess the gift of seeing
things that are visible to no one else," replied the jester.

"So I have been told," she responded, taking the remark as a compliment.
"Philibert's mother was a relative of my own, and this is the first time
I have seen the lad, who, young as he is, his father takes with him to
the wars."

"I wish," said Marguerite shyly, "that your father would ally himself
with Austria, since you no longer feel friendly toward France."

Philibert colored with pleasure as he replied, "Indeed, your Highness, I
should like it of all things, but my father must do as he thinks best."

"Would you like to go to Austria for a time, Philibert?" asked the Lady
Clotilde, who seemed to be in an unusually obliging mood. Then she
added, "A visit to a foreign court is of great advantage to a youth of
rank, and I will see what I can do to induce your father to allow you to
make the journey in my company."

There was no need for the boy to make a reply to this question, his
beaming face and sparkling eyes being sufficient to convince any who
cared to know that the very thought of such a trip made him happy, and
the Lady Clotilde left the room with the words of Le Glorieux ringing in
her ears, "She will succeed in her attempt, for those who do not obey
our Cousin Clotilde from love do so from fear," a doubtful compliment to
which she paid no attention. She was quite pleased with the thought of
procuring the companionship of this handsome and gracious boy, who, she
felt confident, would reflect great credit upon herself.

"Oh, you will be permitted to go with us, I am sure of it!" cried the
little princess enthusiastically. "Have you ever sailed in a ship?"

"No, Madame," replied the boy; "I have never been on the sea."

"Nor I, since I can remember it," returned she, "but I long to make a
voyage. It must be fine to be so far away from land as to see nothing
but the sky and the foam-capped waves, to be on the dark, cold sea and
yet be snug and comfortable."

"Once when I was a boy I made a trip on the sea," remarked Le Glorieux,
"and I remember that there were times when I was not so snug and
comfortable as I could have wished. Believe me, my little princess, you
would be much happier traveling on land this time of year than you would
be out on the stormy seas. But France will send you home in whatever way
it best pleases her, and we shall have but little to say about it."

And it so happened that it was deemed best to send the little princess
back to her father by land instead of intrusting her to the sea. This
was a disappointment to Marguerite, though she was glad to know that
they were to start at once. Already the palace of Amboise was being
refitted and refurnished in a style of great magnificence for the new
queen, who would not come to occupy it until after her coronation at St.
Denis. There was an atmosphere of joy throughout the kingdom in
anticipation of the new régime, which was expected to be very different
from the terrible days of the previous reign.

Lady Clotilde, who, as the jester had remarked, always managed in some
way to get what she wanted, succeeded in persuading the Count de Bresse
to allow his son to accompany her to Austria, and it was with light
hearts that the party set out on the journey, for a trip that has
something pleasant at the end of it is always begun joyously, and there
is ever a feeling of exhilaration in the thought of seeing a new
country. To the little princess her native land would be as an unknown
country, for to her it was not even a memory. Not for a moment did she
forget her grudge against France. At the first stop they made, when a
glass of wine was offered her with an apology for its sourness, she said
with a curl of her red lips, "Even the wine is sour in a country that
can not keep its promises." And the day they passed through Arras, the
town where the treaty was concluded that was to unite her to Charles,
and the people ran out with cries of greeting, she turned her head away
with a contemptuous reply.

As soon as they crossed the line that divided France from Flanders, Le
Glorieux put spurs to his steed and advanced to the side of the litter
in which the princess was seated.

"Little Cousin," said he. The curtains were parted and Marguerite's
pretty face smiled at him. "You are now in your very own land of
Flanders," said he, "the country your mother brought to Austria as her
dower."

"And I am glad to be here," replied she. "I could kiss the very soil of
the land that is my own!"

The jester now gradually fell behind, and once more rode at the rear of
the procession. "Why do you always ride so far behind?" asked Philibert,
checking his own horse to wait for Le Glorieux.

"Do you want me to tell you the real reason?" asked the fool.

"Certainly I do."

"It is because I wish to spare the feelings of Pittacus."

"The legs, rather," laughed the boy.

"I mean exactly what I say--the feelings," persisted the fool. "Do you
not think that a donkey can have feelings as well as a person? Of course
he can," he went on, answering his own question. "And do you not think
that he is greatly humiliated in a company like this?"

"What is there to humiliate him?" asked Antoine, who rode on the other
side of the jester.

"Why, look you, many of the other steeds are mounted by the nobility and
bear the richest trappings, while poor unfortunate Pittacus has nothing
but a common saddle. Do you not suppose that it cuts him to the heart
when he notices the contrast? How would either of you feel to mingle
with a gay company where jewels flashed and velvets shimmered, while you
wore the coarsest fustian?"

"We should not like it, of course," replied Philibert, "but what does a
donkey know about such things?"

"If you should ask him about it, you would be very soon convinced of the
truth of what I have told you, by the reply that he would make," said
Le Glorieux.

"Then let us ask him," said Antoine, and immediately raised his voice,
saying, "Pittacus, do you mind whether or not you are wearing gay
trappings? If you do, just move your right ear." But the donkey refused
to make a sign.

"What did I tell you?" asked Antoine mockingly. "He does not know or
care what kind of a saddle you have placed on his back."

"He did not hear you," replied the jester.

"I should like to know why he did not hear me; what are such long ears
for, if not for use?"

"If you will stop a moment you will see that he will answer me," said Le
Glorieux.

"He can not understand conversation when he is walking," said Philibert,
laughing.

"Nor well enough to make a reply even when he is standing still,"
remarked Antoine. "A donkey is nothing but a donkey, and you can make
nothing more out of him."

"There are some donkeys, two legged ones, that can not understand things
that are told them," retorted the jester, "but if you will stop a
moment, you will see that he will answer me. Pittacus is haughty and
particular in the choice of his friends, and he will not reply to every
jackanapes who asks him a question."

The three stopped and Le Glorieux dismounted, and going close to the
donkey's ear, he said, "Pittacus, joy of my heart, it makes you very
unhappy to see the other horses dressed so gay while you are wearing
your plain old saddle and blanket, I know it does. If I am right, just
move your right ear, Pittacus." And Pittacus did move his right ear, and
that quite vigorously.

"Now what have you to say?" asked his master triumphantly.

"You touched him with the point of your dagger and that was the cause of
it," said Philibert.

"I did nothing of the kind. See, I will ask him the same question again
with my hands clasped behind me. If you meant what you said just now,
move your right ear again, Pittacus." Again the donkey's long ear moved
as before, and, mounting him, the fool said with great satisfaction, "I
hope you will believe a thing when you have seen it with your own eyes,
and perhaps you will be careful in what you say about him in his
presence."

"I do not see that we need to be so very cautious in what we say, since
he does not seem to understand what is said to him, even by you, until
the question is bawled into his ear," said Philibert.

"He does not take the trouble to answer unless some one he respects
talks into his ear; in fact, he hears no questions asked by ordinary
people, but he would hear any gossip about himself, for all that,"
replied Le Glorieux.

Antoine was very much surprised at the superior intelligence of the
donkey, but he did not pursue the subject further. It was a popular
belief at this period that animals actually could talk on Christmas Eve,
and if this were true, he did not see any reason why they should not be
able to move their ears in reply to a question at any time of the year.
But Philibert, although he kept perfectly quiet regarding the matter,
suspected the truth, which was that with the word "Pittacus" at the end
of the sentence the jester blew into the donkey's ear, which caused the
animal to move his generous organ of hearing. He was also convinced that
it was not the sensitiveness of the animal to the fine trappings of the
other horses that kept him in the rear, but that it was because he was
too fat and lazy to keep up a brisk pace.

It was a tiresome journey, though they stopped at the towns, and
sometimes were entertained at the mansion of some noble family along the
route. Not far from Cologne the princess called to Le Glorieux, who,
though there were plenty of attendants to see that she was comfortable,
was in the habit of riding forward once in a while to make sure that she
needed nothing, "I am told that we are not far from Castle Hohenberg,"
said she. "Ask two of the gentlemen to ride on and notify them of our
coming."

"May I accompany them?" asked the fool.

"Certainly, if you like."

"And I should like to exchange horses with one of the guards."

"Why?"

"Because my donkey, Pittacus, is so sensitive."

"Sensitive?" repeated the princess, looking puzzled.

"Pittacus, little Cousin, is perfectly well aware of the shabbiness of
his wardrobe, and to prance into a castle courtyard caparisoned as he
is, with two other horses that are well dressed, would be more painful
to him than to enter in a crowd where he would not be so likely to be
noticed."

"Just as you please," replied the princess, smiling. "One of the guards
will exchange steeds with you."

"See the fibs your utter indolence and indifference force me to tell,"
muttered the fool, as he rode away from the litter. "It is I who am
sensitive, and on account of your slowness, but all this does not seem
to have the least effect upon you or to make you go a jot faster."

Having exchanged with one of the guards, who did not seem at all anxious
to make the trade, Le Glorieux galloped gayly away with the two
gentlemen, very glad to be one of the first to arrive at the castle.

[Illustration: Some youths and maidens had been to the woods]

Wrapped in his robes of crimson, the sun was sinking behind the forest
trees when Le Glorieux and his two companions came in sight of the
family seat of the Von Hohenbergs. The building was a grim old
structure, turreted and rugged, which had seen two centuries come and
go, and seemed able to greet many more. Some youths and maidens who had
been to the wood to gather fagots were singing and chattering as if the
world for them had not a care, though they possessed but the mere
necessaries of life. The count and countess had not yet returned from
the chase, so the strangers were informed by the haughty seneschal, who
immediately softened and almost groveled when informed that the Lady
Marguerite of Hapsburg was about to honor the castle with her presence,
while every being under that roof seemed to be on the alert to put the
best foot foremost, in order properly to receive the little princess.
Even Le Glorieux was treated with a degree of deference that caused him
to throw back his shoulders and strut about with a great deal of pride.

Soon the sound of a hunting horn was heard, and a company of ladies and
gentlemen dashed through the gate with hawks on their wrists and
followed by hounds. They seemed more quiet and less happy than the
fagot-gatherers, Le Glorieux thought, and he wondered if they were
really as happy as those young people who were working for their daily
bread.

The Count and Countess Von Hohenberg were very pleasant elderly people,
with a large family of sons and daughters, and a number of relatives who
always lived with them, so their household was a very large one. They
were charmed to hear of the unexpected arrival of the princess, who with
her suite soon rode through the gates and received a hearty welcome. A
bright fire was snapping in the broad fireplace of the great hall, and
did its part in cheering the fatigued and chilled travelers. The guests
were conducted to their rooms, which, if they did not contain the
luxuries afforded by the sleeping apartments in the mansions of the rich
of the present day, were at least comfortable, though the huge beds,
with their ghostly hangings, looked as if they might invite the
nightmare.

It was a merry company which surrounded the supper table, where
Marguerite was, of course, given the seat of honor. Great indignation
was expressed at the double insult offered their country by France. "I
have heard," said the count, "that Austria has taken up an alliance with
England and Spain, so France may learn to fear the house of Hapsburg and
its powerful friends."

"And France is no longer governed by the sly and scheming Louis, but by
the weakling Charles," said one of the gentlemen.

"I think you are wrong to call Charles a weakling," remarked Le
Glorieux, who was sitting on a low stool at the side of his mistress,
with his plate in his lap. "Charles has a dimple in his chin, which may
mean weakness, but he also has a nose of great size, which may mean
anything that is bad for his neighbors."

Just as he finished this speech a mournful shriek was heard outside,
which very nearly made the fool drop his plate. "What was that horrible
noise?" he gasped.

"It was only the wind whistling about the turrets," replied the count,
laughing. "The night is growing colder and the wind is rising."

"I thought it was the wail of a witch," said the jester.

"Send for Antoine that he may sing the witch song he gave us one night
in Rennes," said the Lady Marguerite. "It is like the howl of the wind."

A servant was sent to fetch the boy, who came with his lute and took a
seat by the fire, where he sang the witch song to such words as suited
his fancy, for he was not playing a joke upon his friend as when he had
sung at the court of Brittany, but was now anxious to please this merry
company of ladies and gentlemen. He told how a beauteous maiden with a
lovely voice was carried away one dark night by a witch, and changed
into a nightingale, where, lingering about her former home, she nightly
poured forth the woes of her heart in song. This production received
such high praise from the listeners that Antoine blushed very red, and
did not know whether to look up the chimney or at the floor, to hide his
confusion. Upon learning that he had set his own words to his own music,
one of the ladies wanted to know whether the story was true, and if the
unhappy maiden really had been thus bewitched. But Antoine was obliged
to admit that he had not a personal acquaintance with the nightingale
maiden, intimating that the young woman was merely a creature of his
imagination. To-day this would seem a strange question to ask in all
seriousness, but, as has already been said, the existence of witches and
hobgoblins was taken as a matter of course in those days.

Then they began to talk of the tricks played by witches, and while none
of the company could say that he or she ever had actually seen a witch,
still almost everybody had a story to tell that had been related by
people who had seen those mysterious and treacherous females.

"My mother often talked with witches," said the Lady Clotilde in that
decided way of hers which seemed to defy anybody to doubt her word. "And
they caused her a great deal of annoyance," she went on. "One day when
my mother was fastening a veil to her cap, a witch suddenly appeared and
said, 'Oh, what a pretty cap! And that lace is as delicate as frostwork!
Let me try it on, do!' And before my mother could say 'yes' or 'no,' the
witch had snatched the cap and put it on her head, and with a shrill
laugh vanished through the keyhole!"

"How did she get the cap through the keyhole?" asked Le Glorieux.

"That is no more wonderful than getting herself through the keyhole, is
it?" asked the lady tartly, annoyed by the query.

"No," returned the fool, "I do not think it is."

"Then do not interrupt with silly questions," said she.

"I can tell a story of something that happened over a hundred years ago,
in this very house, to one of my husband's ancestors," said the
countess. Everybody shivered with expectancy, while the wind outside
howled louder than ever; Antoine turned his back to the fire so that it
would not be convenient for anything to grab him from that direction,
while even Philibert, who was two years older, and who sat beside the
countess, regretted vaguely that the dagger at his side would be of no
avail against witches. For it seemed that if such creatures ever would
feel an inclination to meddle with the affairs of mortals, this old
castle with its vast rooms and dark corners would be the scene of their
liveliest performances.

"As I said," began the countess, "it was a hundred years ago. The Lady
Iolantha, whose father and brothers had all been killed in the wars,
lived here alone. She was the most beautiful woman of her time, and she
was betrothed to her cousin, Count Wolfgang, who had inherited the title
without the wealth, for the money all had come from her mother's side of
the house, and there was nothing left for the count but the empty
castle, which he scorned to take unless the lady should come with it.

"Iolantha, who was willful, detested her cousin, having bestowed her
affections upon a wandering minstrel by the name of Rudolph Eberhard, a
handsome youth, and one who sang in a most charming voice. He lingered
here day after day, and sang so many songs in praise of her beauty that
she determined to marry him, come what would. Wolfgang was not a man to
win the heart of a maiden, for, though young, he had a dark, forbidding
countenance, and a harsh, discordant voice. Every one feared him, and it
was believed by many that he was in league with evil spirits."

"A cheerful kind of an ancestor, that one of yours," remarked Le
Glorieux to the count.

"But he lived a hundred years ago; his blood has been filtered away by
this time, at least all that was bad in it," said the countess. "The
Count Wolfgang knew that his cousin cared nothing for him, still he was
determined to hold her to her promise, and he was resolved, by fair
means or foul, to get the young minstrel out of the way." The countess
now unclasped a girdle that hung loosely about her waist, with long ends
coming almost to the floor, and held it up that all might see it. It was
made of flexible silver fretwork, and was set with emeralds. "There is a
tradition that when this girdle is lost by the Von Hohenbergs their luck
will go with it," went on the countess, "so Iolantha cherished it very
highly. One night after dancing in the great hall, a dance in which
Rudolph was her partner, the girdle suddenly disappeared in a manner
that was most unaccountable. They searched everywhere, but it could not
be found, and one by one the servants were accused, but all to no avail.
Then tauntingly Wolfgang demanded that Rudolph be searched. Iolantha
indignantly refused to have this done, deeming the very suggestion an
insult to the man she loved and respected. But without more ado Wolfgang
walked up to the young minstrel, and tearing open his doublet, found the
girdle concealed on the inside of it."

"I suspected as much," remarked Le Glorieux, who, like every one else,
had been very much interested in the story. "You see," he went on, "the
minstrel was dancing with the lady, and it would be easy enough for him
to unclasp the girdle and hide it in the folds of his mantle until he
had a chance to tuck it away in his doublet."

"But wait," said the countess. "Rudolph was as much surprised as any one
else and declared that he did not know how it came there."

"He, would naturally make that very remark," observed the fool.

"But Rudolph had not taken the girdle," said the countess triumphantly.
"The Count Wolfgang was in league with witches, and it was by their
spells that the girdle had come into the minstrel's possession. Servants
told the story to their children, and so on down, of how that very night
they had heard the witches singing their wild songs, and the old
housekeeper saw them dancing in the moonlight. She said they were
dressed in a gray, misty material like cobwebs."

"Did Iolantha marry the minstrel?" asked the princess.

"No, your Highness. There was nothing to prove that the witches did the
trick, and she could not marry a man with so deep a stain upon his good
name. So Rudolph marched away to the crusades, and Iolantha married
Count Wolfgang."

"And she did a sensible thing," said Le Glorieux decisively. "I have
distrusted that minstrel ever since you brought him into the story,
which teaches that the man who does a wicked thing is bound to come out
at the small end of the horn."

"Thank you, Fool," said the count, laughing. "You have cleared the good
name of my ancestor and you are the first one in all these years to say
a word in his favor, all preferring to take sides with the handsome
minstrel."



CHAPTER VI

LADY CLOTILDE'S MOONSTONE PENDANT


The next morning a royal messenger arrived with a letter for the little
princess, and Le Glorieux, who was present when she received it, saw
that tears were rolling down her cheeks when she had finished reading
it. "What is it, little Cousin?" asked the jester. "Strange that a mere
piece of paper should stir you up like this."

"Oh, Le Glorieux," cried Marguerite, "my father does not love me!" And
covering her face with her handkerchief, she burst into sobs.

"Well, now that is another strange thing," said he, sitting down at her
feet and clasping his hands about his knees, while he surveyed her
thoughtfully. "His Royal Highness takes the trouble to send a messenger
across the country to tell his little daughter that he does not love
her, when it would have been so much easier to let this wonderful piece
of news wait until he stood face to face with her."

The princess patted her foot impatiently on the floor while the jester
was speaking, then she said, restraining her sobs with an effort, "I
have been so impatient to see him that I could scarcely wait for the
days to pass, and every morning when I have wakened during our journey
I have said to myself, 'One more day is off the list, and I am so many
more leagues nearer to him than I was at this time yesterday.' And
although the Countess Von Hohenberg is very kind, and has begged me to
remain here for a time, still I wanted to go this very day," and again
she began to sob.

"Yes," said the jester, "I understand your side of the question, and now
I wonder if you won't tell me just what Max writes in his letter, and I
will help you to decide just what he means by it."

"He--he--s-s-ays that we are to remain at Castle Hohenberg for three or
four days in order that I may recover from the fatigue of the journey.
It is c-c-cruel!"

"It certainly is very cruel," replied Le Glorieux. "Odd that there
should be such unnatural fathers in the world! A man must have a heart
of flint to want his daughter to rest after a long journey."

"I do not at all consider this a subject for jest," said the little
lady, surveying the jester indignantly through her tears.

"Looking at the matter broadly, I should say that it was just as much a
subject for jesting as for weeping. Will your small Highness tell me
what there is in all this to cry about? Do you not know that it is very
foolish to cry about little things, and that the tears of even a
princess are just as salt as those of anybody else, and if called up in
abundance will make her eyes and nose just as red as those of a dairy
maid who cries over a pail of spilled milk?"

"Le Glorieux," said Marguerite solemnly, "if my father is as anxious to
see me as I am to see him, he would write 'Hurry, hurry,' in his letter
instead of telling me to wait."

"Would you write 'Hurry, hurry,' to him if he were coming to you on a
tiresome trip?"

"Indeed I would! I would say, 'Hurry, and hurry, and hurry again, for I
long to embrace you.' Only think, I have lived for eight long years with
no one near me but Cunegunda who really loves me, and none of my own
blood to touch my brow with a kiss!"

"I do not know," said the fool reflectively, "how I should feel were
there none near me to love me save Cunegunda, but I need not worry about
that, for Cunegunda, if I read her aright, is not burned up with
affection for me; but what you say proves to me that you are not really
so fond of your father as he is of you."

"You are dreaming; what do you mean by such words?" asked the princess,
wiping her eyes and looking haughtily at the jester. "I adore my father;
he is dearer to me than all the crowns of the world."

"It is this way," said Le Glorieux; "as I remark probably once a day
more or less, I am nothing but a fool, but nevertheless I say a good
many wise things, and I think a good many more. Very often when I
remain perfectly quiet my silence counts for a good deal, for I am
thinking very hard about something. But as I was going to say, when one
has the right kind of affection for another, there is not a grain of
selfishness in it. Your father is just as anxious to see you as you are
to see him, still at the same time he thinks of your comfort first and
of his own wishes next."

"Do you think so, really?" asked Marguerite, smiling, then asked, "But
why could he not have come to me himself instead of sending a
messenger?"

"Kings and princes can not go about as they please, though they are
always supposed to be doing what they like to do," replied Le Glorieux.
"A king can not even marry to please himself. He may say, 'I do not want
a wife, I prefer to be a bachelor.' The state says, 'Not a bit of it;
you must marry.' Then the state picks out a wife for him. If she is
pretty and agreeable he is lucky, but if she has a horrible squint and
the temper of a tigress and the state says, 'Marry her,' why, marry her
he must. Just now your father is probably cooking up a lot of schemes
against France for its treatment of you and himself, and he is telling
Spain and England how dearly he always loved them, and he is figuring
out the lands that France ought to restore to him in return for his
great disappointment, so he has no time to rush away to see his little
daughter."

"Oh, Le Glorieux, you have made me so happy!" cried the princess, with
shining eyes. "Then you think my father really is very fond of me!"

"I am sure of it, and I am sure that he will be still fonder of you when
he sees you, for two reasons: one is that you look a good deal like
himself, and the other that you will look at him with the very eyes of
your mother."

"The marriage of my father and mother was a happy one, was it not, Le
Glorieux?"

"Yes, little Cousin, that was one of the times when duty and inclination
went hand in hand. That marriage was the best possible thing for both
their countries, and the young couple were in love with each other from
the moment when they first stood face to face, your beautiful mother
being just a young slip of a girl, and your father but eighteen years of
age. He was only twenty-three when she died, and he is still a young
man, not so far past the first bloom of his youth."

The princess never tired of talking of her father and of her fair young
mother, whose faces were known to her only from their portraits. Her
brother, who was two years her senior, she often thought about, but it
was her father who possessed the larger share of her affection.

It has been remarked of the Lady Clotilde that she always contrived to
stir up some kind of commotion wherever she happened to be, and this
journey was no exception to the general rule. The story of the emerald
girdle, related by the countess the previous night, reminded the Lady
Clotilde that she too owned a jewel which was said to bring good luck to
her family, and the loss of which was to be followed by results too
fearful to contemplate. It was a large moonstone, set as a pendant and
surrounded by rubies. It had been curiously cut by an old Italian
lapidary of the previous century, and represented a woman's face, which
seemed to change its expression as the colors glimmering in the stone
caught the light. This ornament had a great fascination for Le Glorieux.
In former days when the Lady Clotilde had wished a special favor from
Charles the Bold, she often managed to obtain it through Le Glorieux,
who would first make his master laugh, and then while he was in this
genial frame of mind the jester would present his petition in the
cleverest way it could be framed. And being too penurious to reward her
agent with a piece of money, the lady would say, "Le Glorieux, you may
clean my jewels, for I know it must be a great pleasure to you to hold
them in the sunlight and see them flash," and, while pretending to grant
a favor to the jester, managed to gain one for herself.

Of all her trinkets, and she had many and valuable ones, none so charmed
the fool as the moonstone pendant. Held in certain lights, the face
seemed to dimple and smile upon him; in others, it was the face of a
witch, or a gorgon, those dreadful beings the very sight of which would
turn mortals into stone.

This ornament the Lady Clotilde was resolved to show to the countess,
and descant on its history and its great value. With eager hands she
unlocked the box of scented wood where the ornament was kept, and lo,
the pendant was missing! Could she believe her eyes? In an agony of
anxiety she tossed the jewels about, finally emptying the contents of
the casket on the bed, where they flashed and glimmered like captive
stars sending forth red, blue, and green lights. Frantically she picked
them up one by one and shook them, but no moonstone was there!

[Illustration: "It is gone, it is gone!" groaned the Lady Clotilde]

"It is gone, it is gone!" groaned the Lady Clotilde; then she sank to
the floor and began to think of the many terrible things that might be
expected to happen to that unlucky member of the family who should allow
the stone to go out of his or her possession, the very thought of which
made her tremble with terror. Calming herself at last, she reflected
that some one must have taken the pendant, since such articles do not
rise of their own accord, climb out of their boxes, and go swaggering
about the world like a knight in search of adventure. And now the
question was, who had taken it? She was sure that none but her own
attendants had been near her room, but stay! a maid belonging to the
countess had entered the room shortly after their arrival to bring a cup
of hot mulled wine which the Lady Clotilde always required, or
desired, which amounted to the same thing with her, after a journey in
cold weather. She remembered that she had opened the casket and was just
about to take out her ruby chain, which she considered a most becoming
ornament for her more than generous length of neck, when the maid
entered with the wine, and the girl must have slipped the moonstone from
the box while the lady was sipping the contents of the cup. She recalled
the appearance of the maid, a pale young creature with large startled
dark eyes. She no doubt had thought that among so many handsome trinkets
the loss of one never would be noticed by this rich and noble lady. The
minx would find herself mistaken, however, for the Lady Clotilde was
determined to report her loss at once, and to recover her property if it
should become necessary to tear the castle down, stone by stone, in
order to find it!

As it never had been her custom to delay after making a plan, she
immediately stalked down the stone steps leading to the floor below, and
entering the salon where the countess and her guests were whiling away
the time at cards or with their embroidery, she advanced at once to her
hostess. "Madame," said she, "I have lost a jewel. A valuable heirloom
which has been in my possession, or rather in that of my family, for a
hundred years, has disappeared from my casket."

"I am deeply grieved to hear it, Madame," said the countess, rising to
her feet, "and I sincerely hope that you will be so fortunate as to find
it again."

"I _will_ be so fortunate as to find it again--I will, I will in spite
of everything," replied the Lady Clotilde excitedly.

"Pray calm yourself, Cousin Clotilde," said Le Glorieux, who was
lounging in the window seat. "Try to collect yourself, else I am afraid
you will go into a fit. The veins in your forehead are as big as my
smallest finger, and you are quite purple in the face."

"Anything that we can do to recover your jewel for you shall be done
most gladly, Madame," said the countess. "I will send servants to your
apartments to search for it."

"There have been too many of your servants in my apartments already,"
retorted the other rudely. "I want no searching there; I want the
culprit searched and brought to justice as quickly as possible."

"Most assuredly, if we can discover who the culprit is."

"I know who it is," cried the Lady Clotilde. "It is that pale creature
who came yesterday afternoon with my mulled wine, a girl with big dark
eyes."

"Oh, that was Cimburga; she would not rob you of your gems, Madame. She
is an orphan whose parents and grandparents died in our service. She can
be thoroughly trusted. Without counting it, I should not be afraid to
leave a lapful of gold in her care."

"Your confidence does but little honor to your judgment, Madame," said
the injured one, "and what I have lost is of far more consequence than a
lapful of gold."

Le Glorieux left his place in the window and came forward, saying, "You
seem to be in a terrible state of mind, Cousin Clotilde; I have not seen
you in such agitation since the news came to Burgundy of the battle of
Nancy. What is the gewgaw which you seem to have valued as life itself?"

"It was the moonstone pendant. You know what it means to me to lose it."

"What, the carved lady who winks her eyes while you look at her?"

The Lady Clotilde nodded.

"This is indeed serious," remarked the jester. "If you but knew, Madame
Countess, of the awful things written down to happen to the last
possessor of that stone, you would be chilled to the bone. Why, death by
slow strangulation would be a pleasure to some of the tortures she will
suffer if she does not find it again."

"Some, in fact most, of those old traditions are mere myths," said the
countess reassuringly.

"You do not consider them myths when they are connected with your
girdle," returned Lady Clotilde tartly.

"At any rate the article must be found if possible," said the countess.
"Are you very sure, Madame, that you had it when you came here?"

"Of course I am sure that I had it when I came here! Since we left
Amboise no one has touched my valuables save myself."

"If you are sure of that, then, no one is to blame for having mislaid it
save yourself," said the jester.

"It has not been mislaid; it has been stolen," cried the Lady Clotilde
in the highest key of indignation. "I heard that black-eyed girl take
it."

"You mean Cimburga?" asked the countess.

"If that is what you call her, yes."

"That girl would not steal," said Le Glorieux. "I watched her this
morning while she was feeding the doves. They ate from her hand and
perched on her shoulders, and she laughed like a little child. She is as
innocent as the doves themselves."

"What do you know about it?" asked the Lady Clotilde. "There is no
subject in this world about which you do not give your opinion."

"Why not, since I have plenty of opinions and all are welcome to them?"

"I tell you that black-eyed girl is the one who stole my jewel!"

"Pray calm yourself, my dear lady, and let us get at the bottom of this
affair," said the countess soothingly. "You say that you heard Cimburga
take the ornament. Was it in the night? If so, you may have been
dreaming."

"Suppose it had been in the night, the fact that my pendant is missing
would show that I was not dreaming, would it not?" asked the Lady
Clotilde with some reason. "But I was not asleep; on the contrary, it
was while I was drinking my hot wine with the girl waiting that my
valuable disappeared." The idea that Cimburga had robbed her was now so
thoroughly fixed in the lady's mind that she was almost ready to assert
that she had seen the girl take it from the box. "I had sent my tiring
woman to the bedchamber of Lady Ravenstein to borrow a needleful of gold
thread, for the trimming of my bodice was slightly frayed and needed
mending. During her absence I opened my casket to select the jewels best
suited to wear with my change of costume. Just then the girl entered
with the wine, which I turned to drink, and I now recall that I heard
distinctly a slight click behind me, as the jewels would have rattled if
disturbed, and to-day my precious heirloom is missing."

"It was missing then, if somebody took it then," remarked the jester.
"But stay, can a thing be missing until somebody misses it? I shall have
to think that out carefully some day when I have more time."

"Let us say nothing to Cimburga about it until we have searched," said
the countess. She left the room and was absent for some time. When she
returned, she said, "I went to the dormitory where all the maids sleep
and searched everywhere and all through Cimburga's poor little effects,
but no jewel of any kind did I find. There was a wooden cross attached
to a black ribband which she wears on Sundays and fête days, but that
was all in the way of a trinket that could be seen."

"Is it reasonable to suppose that a girl who could slyly filch my
property would put it where it could be found?" asked the Lady Clotilde.

"Is there anything unusual in the girl's manner?" asked Lady Ravenstein,
one of Marguerite's suite, who had remained perfectly quiet up to this
time. "If this be her first offense she may betray herself by an
agitated manner."

"She has seemed unhappy to-day," the countess admitted reluctantly. "I
stopped her a moment ago in the hall leading to the servants' quarters,
and I noticed that there were tears on her cheeks."

"I was sure of it!" cried the Lady Clotilde. "She was crying because she
was afraid she would be discovered. I insist that she be brought before
us and that she be accused of her crime."

"But let her not be accused harshly," said the little princess, who had
been listening intently to all that had been said. "The maid may not be
guilty; but if so, and it is her first offense, let us be merciful."

"All I ask is my moonstone pendant, your Highness," said the Lady
Clotilde. "And although I think she should be severely punished for
taking it from me, still she is not my servant and I have no right to
insist upon her chastisement."

A page was sent to notify Cimburga that she was wanted, and she came at
once, glancing about the room to see what there was for her hands to do,
for she supposed that she had been sent for to perform a task.

"Let me question her, Madame," said the Lady Clotilde, and reluctantly
the countess consented to oblige her guest, though she felt that she
could best have managed the matter herself.

"What have you done with the locket you took from my casket yesterday
afternoon?" asked the Lady Clotilde harshly.

The girl, who was pretty, and timid as a fawn of the wildwood, opened
wide her eyes, and, gazing at the questioner in surprise, made no reply.

"I say," went on her tormentor in a louder tone, "what did you do with
the ornament you took from my box yesterday? You slipped it out, you
know, while I was sipping the wine you brought me."

"I, lady? I do not know of what you are speaking," replied Cimburga, in
amazement.

"You know perfectly well of what I am speaking. You took it from my
casket, I heard you, though you may think I did not, and now where is
it?"

"I know nothing of it, Madame."

"Come now, that kind of a reply will not do. You have my moonstone in
your possession and you must restore it to me at once."

"Madame, I am telling you the truth; I never have taken the smallest
thing that did not belong to me, and of that my lady mistress will
assure you."

"I can attest the truth of that statement, Cimburga," said her mistress
gently, "but if you have been tempted by the sparkle of gems,--and you
have a girl's love for things that glitter, even though you are in a
lowly walk in life,--if you have taken the lady's ornament, as she seems
certain that you have done, restore it to her. And this being your first
offense, I promise you that your punishment shall be light."

"But, my mistress, how can I restore what I have not taken?" asked the
girl simply.

"Talk about this being her first offense; if so, I am quite sure it will
not be her last one, for she is as hardened as one old in crime," said
the Lady Clotilde.

Then her mistress said, turning to the girl, "If you are innocent, if
your conscience does not trouble you, why were you weeping this
morning?"

Cimburga made no reply, but putting her apron to her face, began to sob.

"Come, answer me," said the countess gently.

"My dear and gracious mistress, do not ask me why I was weeping, for I
can not tell you," sobbed the girl.

"You might as well tell us," said the Lady Clotilde, "for we are bound
to know it sooner or later."

"I will never tell, I will go to my death first," said the girl
desperately.

"You deserve to go to your death, since you are so stubborn," said the
Lady Clotilde vindictively. "But give me back my jewel, and you shall be
troubled no more so far as I am concerned."

"I can not give you what I have not got. I call upon all the saints to
witness that I know nothing of the object which you have lost."

"She does but blaspheme," said the Lady Clotilde coldly. "Let her be
handed over to the law."

The punishment for all kinds of crime was most severe at this time, and
it is no wonder that Cimburga sobbed convulsively as she was taken from
the room.

This unfortunate incident cast a gloom over the company. It was easy to
see that the countess was unhappy about the accusation that had been
made against the young girl who was under her own protection. The Lady
Clotilde was sulky and restless, while the others seemed to be puzzled
by what had happened. When the gentlemen, who had been hunting, returned
to the castle, they were told of the occurrence of the morning, and most
of those who gave an opinion were inclined to agree with the owner of
the jewel that Cimburga was guilty, even the count expressing grave
doubts as to her innocence. Cimburga was nothing but a servant,
therefore was more than likely to be the thief.

"I wish," said Le Glorieux to Philibert, "that we had left Clotilde in
France. I have been acquainted with her for a number of years, and I
have never known a time when there was not some kind of agitation on her
account. She is always just coming, or just going, or is looking for
something that she can not find, or is doing something or other to make
everybody around her restless. She is like a whirlwind that picks up
leaves and sticks and slams them about. I know that she is your
relative, but that is not your fault, my lad, and I respect you none the
less for it. We should be judged by our friends and not by our
relatives, for we select our own friends. It is a great pity that we are
not allowed to select our own relatives too, since we are obliged to see
so much of them. I know plenty of people who would have an entire new
set of relatives if the thing could be managed."

"Le Glorieux," said Philibert, "I do not believe that the maid stole the
moonstone any more than that I took it myself."

"I am not so sure that she is innocent," said Antoine. "Why should she
have been weeping at such a rate?"

"Why should anybody weep?" asked Philibert. "For a hundred things. It is
no sign because people have been crying that they have also been
stealing."

"Let us ask Saint Monica if Cimburga is guilty," suggested the countess
the following day. "Our Saint Monica is wonderful," continued she,
turning to her guests. "She was placed in her present position by one
of the Countesses Von Hohenberg, whose prayers for the reformation of an
undutiful son were answered, for you know Saint Monica herself knows
what it is to weep for a dissipated son, being the mother of the blessed
Saint Augustine, who was very wild until miraculously changed to a
saint. They say that when persons accused of a crime are made to pass
before her their innocence or guilt may be proven at once, for if
innocent the saint will make a sign, but if guilty she will remain
immovable."

"Has she ever been seen to move when put to the test?" asked the Lady
Clotilde.

"Never in our time," said the count, replying to the question. "In my
grandfather's time it is said that a youth, accused of stealing a gold
image from the chapel, passed before the saint and asked if he was
innocent, and she raised her hand and bowed her head. Many others have
tried it since, but they were all guilty, for the saint made no sign."

"We will put Cimburga to the test to-night," said the countess. "The
moon will be bright by ten o'clock, and at that time we shall not have
so many spectators as we should have during the day."

[Illustration: They started out to see this wonderful saint]

Le Glorieux and the two boys started out to see this wonderful saint.
She stood in the forest within a five minutes' walk from the castle, in
front of a great oak. She was a painted wooden figure about five feet in
height, and she had been scorched by the summer sun and pelted by
rainstorms until her garments were all a dull gray, her face, partly
concealed by her nun's coif, wearing a self-satisfied simper not at all
consistent with her garb.

"The good saint is not a tall woman," said Philibert, eying her
critically. He walked all around the figure, mounted a stone behind it,
and examined it closely. "Some day she will move when they least expect
it," he said, "for she is not secure on her pedestal, and a storm will
blow her over."

In spite of the fact that a late hour had been set for the visit to the
saint, and the matter was supposed to be a secret carefully kept from
the servants, when the time came to start a curious crowd gathered and
followed the supposed culprit, her master and mistress and their guests,
to the statue of Saint Monica.

By Cimburga's side walked a tall young man who was said to be the
miller's son, and whose presence beside the accused was viewed with
considerable astonishment by those who knew him, for his father was
well-to-do, and his station was above that of Cimburga. The face of the
girl was radiant with happiness, and those who observed her tranquil
countenance wondered why she exhibited so little agitation at a time
when she might be supposed to be in a state of despair.

It was a very solemn procession that walked out on that moonlight night.
At present there exist comparatively few people who would expect a
wooden saint to move, even from a motive so noble as to prove the
innocence of an accused person; but, as has already been said, many
strange things were believed in the fifteenth century.

Even all whispering ceased as they approached the saint. The princess,
warmly wrapped in fur, was riding a little mule, and as Le Glorieux
walked beside her she slipped a cold hand into his with a shiver of
fear, and all stepped softly over the frosty ground as if fearful of
something, they knew not what. The wind swept through the trees,
rustling the dry leaves. Was the saint already moving? No, it was only
the shadow of a limb, which, stirred by the wind, swayed above her head.

"Hist!" said the castle chaplain, though there was no need to call for
silence, as none at that moment felt in the least like talking. Then, in
a solemn voice, the priest invoked the saint to deign to decide the fate
of the accused maiden then standing before her. Was she innocent of the
sin of theft?

He paused, there was a breathless moment of expectancy, then _Saint
Monica really did move_. There was no doubt about it. She bowed her head
and raised her right hand! All saw her do it, as they would tell their
children, and their children's children, for years to come. The priest
murmured some words in Latin, then all returned immediately to the
castle, for none seemed inclined to remain in the neighborhood of the
saint who so kindly had set their minds at rest. All gathered in the
chapel, where a Te Deum was sung, as it had been sung for the first time
when the son of Saint Monica was converted.

As soon as the exercises in the chapel were concluded the little
princess retired to her own apartments, whispering to Le Glorieux as she
passed him, "Bring Cimburga and the miller's son to me, and let no one
else accompany you."

Marveling at this summons, and wondering what the daughter of their
future emperor could have to say to them, now that Saint Monica had
decided in the girl's favor, settling the question of her innocence, the
young couple followed the jester. The Lady Marguerite had dismissed even
Cunegunda, and was all alone when they entered the room. She sat in a
large chair, and in a rather unprincess-like fashion, for she had been
chilled in the cold chapel, and she had drawn her feet up under the
folds of her velvet gown. After the young couple had knelt at her feet,
and had saluted her according to the custom of the time, she bade them
stand before her, and Le Glorieux said with great frankness, "I will
leave the room if you say so, little Princess; but to be strictly honest
about it, I should like mightily to stay and hear what you have to say
to these young folk, and you may be sure that I shall not mention it to
a soul."

"It is not a secret," replied the princess; "I was only afraid that
they might be embarrassed by an audience."

"They will not be embarrassed by my presence," said he quickly, "for a
fool in a room is of no more importance than a cat."

"You make yourself of small account when it is to gain your own ends,
but stay, if you like," she returned, laughing.

"And as I do like, I will stay," he returned, sitting down on the floor
beside her chair.

The young couple, standing, blushing and abashed before her, gazed with
awe at the little maiden, who seemed almost lost in the embrace of the
huge chair in which she sat. But when they saw that her eyes were soft
and shining, that her lips were curved into a friendly smile, they
forgot for the moment that she was of royal blood, and would, doubtless,
one day wear the crown of a mighty kingdom. A silver griffin of a sconce
near by held a light in its claws, which fell full upon Cimburga and the
miller's son. The latter was tall and straight, with an honest, noble
countenance, and certainly there were many ladies who were not half so
pretty as Cimburga. The little princess wondered why these humble people
should be so handsome, and concluded that the good God had given them
personal comeliness to make up for lack of worldly goods, for certainly
the athletic figure of the youth could have been no handsomer clad in
velvet and satin than in the plain garments he now wore, and the flash
of jewels could have made the eyes of Cimburga no brighter than they
were at this moment.

"Your name is Cimburga?" said Marguerite, addressing the girl; "that is
a Polish name."

"Yes, your Highness, it is the name of my grandmother, who was born in
Poland, and who was given the name of the mother of his Imperial
Majesty, the grandfather of your gracious Highness."

"That is a mixture of relatives that makes my head ache," observed Le
Glorieux.

"Then it may be wise for you to leave the room," replied the princess
slyly.

"If I did anything wise I would not be a fool," he returned; "therefore
I stay."

"It is true," said Marguerite, "that my great grandmother was Cimburga
of Poland, and it is from her, they say, that the archduke, my father,
inherited his great physical strength. And now, Cimburga, I want you to
answer my questions and do not be afraid, for no harm shall come to you
from anything you may say to me. That you did not commit the crime of
which you are accused we all know now, and I felt from the first, but
why had you been crying even before you were accused?"

The girl dropped her eyes and a very pretty color dyed her cheeks.

"Your Highness," she faltered, playing restlessly with the cord that
laced her bodice, "it was because I was afraid that Karl and I could
never wed. His father, your Highness, is a miller and a man of means,
and he wishes his son to marry the weaver's daughter, who can bring him
a dowry, while I have nothing. And I had reason to believe that he was
ready to obey his father; but when this great trouble was sent upon me
he came to say that he cared only for me, that he believed in my
innocence, and that he would stand by my side let happen what would. And
after that, your Highness, I was not afraid of anything that might
come."

"Karl is a worthy youth," said the princess. "I have heard my good
confessor say that there is nothing more beautiful in this world than
the love that brings our friends to our side when fortune frowns, and
that good friends are the stars that shine all the brighter when night
is darkest. But it is not right to disobey one's parents, and you would
not wed without your father's consent?"

Karl was about to reply, when Cimburga said quickly, "No, your Highness,
but even if his father should never be willing for us to wed, it is a
joy to know that he cares for me, and that when all others were against
me he still had faith in me."

The little princess now realized that it is sometimes a great pleasure
to be a person whose authority can be felt. She at once made up her mind
that the mercenary miller should give his consent to the match, and that
willingly, even gladly.

"What is the size of the dowry that this fortunate weaver's daughter
will be able to bring to you?" she asked, turning to the young man.

"It is quite a large one, your Highness," he returned, with a sigh, as
though he wished from the bottom of his heart that the thrifty weaver
had been a gay spendthrift instead of having been a provident
money-saver. And he mentioned a sum at which the Lady Marguerite smiled
behind her hand, it seemed so small to her.

"Le Glorieux," said she, "go into my bedchamber and ask one of my women
to give you the brass-bound box which will be found in the top of the
chest."

The jester skipped gayly away to do her bidding and soon returned with
the box clasped affectionately in his arms, and kneeling, he laid it on
her lap. She took a purse from the box, and emptying the glittering
coins in the chair beside her, she counted the pieces as she restored
them one by one to the purse, which she handed to Cimburga, saying:

[Illustration: A greater dowry than the weaver's daughter's]

"Here is a greater dowry than the weaver's daughter will bring to her
husband. I owe you something because one of my own suite has brought you
so much trouble. I hope your marriage will be a happy one. Some day I
too must marry, and a princess may not make her own choice. Say a prayer
for me, Cimburga, that my betrothal may bring me the happiness that
yours has brought to you. Petition the Holy Virgin for Marguerite of
Hapsburg."

"Indeed and indeed I will, your gracious Highness," sobbed Cimburga, as
she pressed the hem of Marguerite's robe to her lips. "The sun shall not
set on a day of my life in which a prayer has not been said for you."

Le Glorieux rubbed his sleeve across his eyes, saying, "I do not like
salt water in any shape. When I sail on it it makes me uncomfortable and
ill, and it is equally disagreeable when it tries to drown a man's
eyes."



CHAPTER VII

A PLEASANT SURPRISE FOR THE PRINCESS


On his way to bed Le Glorieux remembered that he had not seen Philibert
during the whole evening, and passing the boy's room, he pushed open the
door and looked in. The apartment was bathed in moonlight; its occupant
lay on his couch wrapped in the unconsciousness of slumber. In contrast
with the dark stuff of the cushion against which his cheek was pressed,
his features were like those of a beautiful Greek god carved in cameo.
As his visitor bent over him the boy woke with a start, exclaiming, "Oh,
you frightened me, Le Glorieux! With those long points standing out on
either side of your head you make a strange figure against the light,
and I thought it was the Evil One with his long horns."

"If the Evil One makes a practice of calling upon people who have the
cold and unfeeling nature of a carp, you will not escape a visit from
him, I can tell you, my young friend," responded Le Glorieux sourly.

"What do you mean?" asked Philibert.

"What do I mean, indeed! Has it escaped your memory that your cousin
Clotilde this very morning accused a pretty maid of stealing a
moonstone, a winking, blinking face, and which----"

"Of course it has not escaped my memory, and what then?"

"What then indeed! Perhaps that same fine memory of yours will recall
the fact that the whole matter was left to Saint Monica to decide?"

"I also remember that fact."

"And still you were not with us when we visited the good saint. You did
not take the trouble to join the spectators."

"No."

"When everybody about the place, from my own princess down to the lowest
scullion, was anxious to know what the saint would decide, you went to
bed and slept through it all like an old man of ninety. I should like
very much to know what kind of blood fills the veins of the people of
Savoy!"

"Very warm and generous blood, I can assure you, my good fool."

"Then the supply must have been running very low when you were created,
my little gentleman, and it was necessary to weaken it with a good deal
of water."

Philibert, who had risen to a sitting posture, laughed and once more
cuddled among his cushions. "Listen," said he. "The great clock in the
tower is clanging the hour of twelve. It is the time when witches come
forth and play their tricks. Be careful as you pass along the corridor
lest one of them should mistake you for her elder brother and snatch at
your long horns."

"They will have more business with you than with me, fair youth. Has any
one been to tell you what Saint Monica replied? Did you not at least
arrange with one of the servants to bring you the news?"

"No."

"And you have not enough interest in the matter even to ask me what was
the result!"

"What did the saint do?" asked the boy, clasping his hands under his
head and regarding the indignant jester.

"I have as good a mind as I ever had to swallow a bite to eat to let you
wait until morning to find out."

"Considering, as you say, that I have no curiosity about the matter, do
you think that would greatly disturb me?" asked Philibert. "But come, my
good fellow," he added good-naturedly, "do not be angry with me. Perhaps
I am overfond of my bed, and this couch is soft with the down of many
fowls. Tell me what reply was made by Saint Monica."

"She came to life!" replied Le Glorieux, in a tone of awe, as he
recalled the remarkable scene he had witnessed. "It is a great pity that
she stood so much in shadow that we could not see her more plainly, but
from the moment I beheld her I could see a palpitation as of life
beneath her raiment."

"Could you see her face distinctly?"

"No, you know it is shaded by her coif. And all say that even before
they saw her move they are quite certain that her head was not in quite
the same pose as usual, so she must have moved even before we saw her."

"Are you very sure that you saw her move?" asked the boy.

"Am I sure! Am I sure that I am talking to you at this moment? We all
saw her move; she bowed her head and raised her hand, and the cause of
the girl has been vindicated. She is going to marry the miller's son,
and my little princess has just given her gold enough to make a dowry
beyond her wildest dreams."

"Did the Lady Marguerite do so?" cried the boy, showing interest and
enthusiasm for the first time. "It is like her! She is just and
generous, she is an angel."

"No, I could not call her an angel exactly," replied the jester, "for I
have seen her eyes flash with anger more than once, though always in a
good cause. Our little lady is not without her bit of temper."

"Le Glorieux," asked Philibert earnestly, "have you ever seen an opal?"

"Yes, the old Duchess of Burgundy wore one on her thumb. It is a stone
with a red light that rolls about over a green surface."

"Well, it would not be so pretty without the red flame, and the
princess would not be so perfect without her temper."

"A temper," said the jester, "is a good thing when it is only allowed to
come out once in a great while, and that only in a good cause, but as a
rule it should be kept under lock and key lest it should work
destruction. But I must say good night, else the first streaks of dawn
will find me on the outside of my bed, which to a man with my talent for
sleeping would be a calamity."

If any one had thought to compare the Lady Clotilde to an opal that
night, he would have said that the red flame had absorbed the whole of
the stone. She was in a most captious state of mind, boxing the ears of
her tiring-woman and scolding everybody within reach. The maid's
innocence had been proven, but what good did this do the Lady Clotilde?
The pendant was still missing. The whole household was rejoicing, just
as if her jewel had been restored at the same time, when its loss was as
great a mystery as ever!

[Illustration: "I could not sleep a wink without my devotional reading"]

"Fetch my book to me," she said when her woman had finished her other
duties. "You were about to forget it when you know quite well that I
could not sleep a wink without my devotional reading."

The maid placed on a little table beside her mistress a little
Florentine lamp of silver that her lady always took with her when
traveling. Beside it she placed a book bound in blue silk, with clasps
and corners of silver. This volume was a treasure, for on the inside its
letters were crimson, outlined with pure gold, and it told of the lives
of the saints. But the Lady Clotilde's devotional reading was usually a
pretense. It was well to make others believe that she was too pious to
sleep until she had refreshed her mind with facts in the life of a
saint, but as a rule she went to sleep as soon as her head touched the
pillow, and though to-night she was too restless to be overcome by
slumber, the handsome book remained tightly clasped, with its gorgeous
lettering, done by the patient hand of a monk, still shut from view.

The next day it seemed to Le Glorieux that there was a whistling sound
of whispering all over the castle; maids and pages, with their heads
close together in the corridors, would fly apart at his approach and
assume an air of great unconcern, while a group of ladies in the corners
talking all at once, as of something of vital interest, would close
their lips tightly when they saw him coming, and one of the gentlemen
actually said "Hush!" to the others when Le Glorieux suddenly appeared
among them.

"Do you know why everybody is whispering and making themselves look like
owls, little Cousin?" he asked the princess.

"They do not whisper when I am present; I know nothing about it," she
returned. "I only know that in spite of the good cheer offered by our
kind host, I am praying that the time may fly on swiftest wings so that
I may soon see my father."

"Well, there is either a conspiracy on foot against me or else they are
planning a pleasant surprise for me."

"Your imagination is playing you a trick, my good fool. Why should they
be planning anything that concerns you?"

Cunegunda entered the room and, like almost every one else Le Glorieux
had noticed that day, she wore a beaming smile.

"I have been so accustomed to see you down in the dumps that your
present broad grin makes you seem like a stranger to me, Cunegunda,"
said he. "What is it that you know that makes you look like a beaming
saint?"

"What it is that I know, do you ask, Sir Fool? What should I know save
that the sky is blue and the air is crisp and clear?"

"The weather is a very good thing to be talked about by boobies who can
think of no other subject of conversation," he retorted, "but it has
never seemed to me to have a comical side, and there is nothing in it to
bring out that broad smile."

"I am not smiling," said she; "my countenance is simply relaxed."

"Then do not relax it any further, or who can tell what the consequences
may be?"

Still devoured with curiosity regarding the secret, which he was
confident was also being kept from the princess, the fool wandered to
the dining-hall, where a lively conversation was going on between the
seneschal and the housekeeper. These functionaries were elderly people
and both were very fat. They had been serving the count and countess
from their youth, and during all those years seemed to have been running
a race to see which would grow the stouter. The seneschal considered
himself the most important person in the castle; the housekeeper was
sure that the family would become extinct should she conclude to leave
its service. Probably most of us feel the same about our own
surroundings, but the chances are that the world will wag along just the
same when we shall have ceased to grace it with our presence.

Having nothing more entertaining on hand at the moment, the jester
paused and stood unseen in the shadow of the great chimney to hear what
they were saying.

"Oh, me!" said the housekeeper, "I have so much to do with
superintending those lazy maids and watching everything that goes on in
the kitchen that it is a wonder that I have a bone in my body."

"Nobody knows whether you have a bone; there are no signs of any,"
replied the seneschal, taking up a silver jug and beginning to polish it
with a great show of vigor.

"What are you doing?" asked the housekeeper sharply.

"I am polishing this jug; did you think I was playing the lute?"

"No doubt you consider that extremely funny," she retorted
contemptuously, "but let me tell you that for a man of your age to try
to be witty is like the frog trying to sing the notes of the
nightingale. Oh, me, I have so much to do that I actually do not know
where to begin! I wish that somebody would take as much interest in the
management of this place as I do. I do not know what my Lady would do if
I should drop out."

"You certainly would be missed," replied the seneschal.

She was greatly surprised at this reply from one who never would admit
that she was of any value to her employers. "I am glad that you can see
that I should be missed," said she, "and that at last you are coming to
your senses."

"It does not require any great amount of wisdom to make such a remark,"
he returned, surveying the jug with one eye closed, "since it would be
very singular if a person of your size would drop out of any place and
not be missed."

"There you go again, Mr. Frog! Perhaps the old emperor wants a jester to
cheer him up. Do you not think it would be a good plan to apply for the
position?"

"I do not know that I should care to do so, but at the same time I think
he might do worse than to employ me."

"Of all things in this world this is the most wonderful! Is there no
limit to your self-satisfaction?"

"If we are not satisfied with ourselves who will be satisfied with us?"
he asked. "I am sure that I could make myself fully as useful to his
Imperial Majesty as to my present master and mistress."

"And that is not saying a great deal," replied the housekeeper, with a
sniff.

"What do you mean? How could the place get on without me? Where is the
man in my position who does so much outside of his proper duties? When
they are starting to the hunt, who always watches them depart? I do. Who
always places the hawk on my lady's wrist? I do. Who else could do it to
her satisfaction? No one. I taste everything that comes to the table,
for no one else has so delicate a sense of taste or can so quickly
detect the absence of the right flavor. And then I keep my eye on all
the maids and pages to see that they do not idle away their time."

The housekeeper tossed her head scornfully. "As to placing the hawk on
my lady's wrist, I can see no great amount of labor in that. As to
'tasting' the food as you do, which consists of dipping an amount from
each dish, seasoning it well and eating it, I am sure there are plenty
who would be glad to take your place and consider it no hardship. I
notice too that you taste the wine which has been in the cellar for a
hundred years, and which our master already knows all about. Do you
consider that necessary?"

"Did you never hear, my good woman, of a poisonous drug being dropped
into a bottle by a scoundrel of a servant?"

"No servant of this house ever has tried to poison his master."

"That is true, but who knows when such a thing might happen? It is
always well to be prepared for the worst."

"Since you open the bottles yourself, none else has a chance to put in
the poison," she replied, determined to argue the question into shreds.

"Even supposing that no one had an opportunity with the bottles," said
the seneschal, "did you never hear of such a thing as chemical action?"

"No, and I want to know nothing of such Satan's work."

"Whether you know it or not, changes take place in liquids sometimes
that make them most dangerous, and who can tell what has been going on
in a pipe of wine that has had nothing to do for the last century but to
get into mischief?"

"It is very thoughtful of you to be so willing to sacrifice yourself,"
said the housekeeper, with all the sarcasm in her voice that she could
manage and be understood at the same time; "but do leave that jug alone!
It is my business to see to such things."

"I do not deny that statement, but until I took it up, this jug was as
dull as the sun behind a fog. Look at it now! A lady could see to
rouge her face by it."

"There is no difference in it to what it was before you touched it. But
I must go and look after the cook, for the supper to-night must be the
triumph of our lives. I hope that we shall not have to wait for our
guest, or the dishes may be spoiled."

"He will not mind; he was as gay and easy to please as a burgher when he
visited here before," said the seneschal; adding, "I wonder if they have
succeeded in keeping the secret from the Lady Marguerite?"

"Oh, yes; all understand that she is not to know."

"I am surprised," said the seneschal, "that a secret so important can be
kept by a lot of cackling women."

"Dame Cunegunda says her Highness, the princess, is all impatience to be
away," said the housekeeper, who scorned to make any reply to this last
taunt. "She will be almost out of her mind with delight when _he_
comes."

[Illustration: "Hush! we were told not even to mention his name"]

"Hush! we were told not even to mention his name, for the very walls
have ears when a secret is to be kept."

"I am not mentioning any names."

"The friar who stayed the night here," said the seneschal, "told me
something about _him_. The friar was at Ulm when he whom we expect was
at that city. The cathedral at Ulm has a very tall tower, and nearly
four hundred steps lead to the top of it. Well, he whom we expect
climbed to the top of the tower and stood on one leg on the top of it
and turned around! The friar said if any other man had attempted such a
feat he surely would have fallen and have been dashed to pieces. But he
whom we expect is as brave as a lion, and it was one of his pranks, for
he is gay and full of fun."

"How wonderful!" exclaimed the housekeeper, looking up from the silver
bowl she was polishing.

"Yes, indeed. And the friar said that while none could be more gracious,
none knows better than he how to keep upstarts in their places."

"Than the friar?" asked the housekeeper.

"No, Mrs. Stupid, than he whom we expect. The friar told how an
ambassador from the King of Denmark came. The ambassador was very high
and mighty. In his opinion no ruler was so good as the King of Denmark,
and out of respect to his own ruler the ambassador delivered the message
sitting. Then he whom we expect rose to his feet and remained standing
during the interview, and the ambassador was obliged to stand also from
very shame."

"I am glad that you are forced to acknowledge that something good can
come out of my country," said the housekeeper, who was an Austrian, and
ended her remarks with a chuckle of delight, for the seneschal was
Flemish.

"My friends," said Le Glorieux, coming forward and giving the worthy
couple a start of surprise as he did so, "as I understand the matter,
you are trying to keep a secret."

"Yes, Sir Fool, and we have not revealed it," replied the seneschal
proudly, saying, "How long have you been standing there?"

"Ever since you began to polish that jug. You were talking so loud that
I did not think you were saying anything that I could not hear as well
as not."

"And you heard nothing!" declared the housekeeper triumphantly. "You,
sir, were to be kept in the dark, lest in your merry way you should
reveal to the princess what she is not to know, and even though you have
been standing there all that time, you have heard nothing, for we have
mentioned no names."

"I have heard," said the jester, "of a bird found in Africa called the
ostrich. This very wise fowl when it wants to conceal itself hides its
head in the sand and leaves its big bulky body in plain view. You remind
me of this bird. You have mentioned no names, of course, but who is it
that the princess most desires to see? Maximilian. Who would be most
likely to climb to the top of a tower and turn around on one leg?
Maximilian. Who would make an impudent ambassador ashamed of himself?
Maximilian."

"Hist, sir! Pray hush," said the housekeeper. "That name must not be
mentioned, else it will reach the ears of her little Highness, the Lady
Marguerite."

"My little princess is in the other wing of the castle, and in order to
hear me she would have to have a sense of hearing sharper than any
chamois that ever leaped a chasm. And now that you see that I know all
about it, suppose you tell me how you know that the archduke, the King
of the Romans--in other words, Maximilian--is coming."

"A messenger arrived last night from Ghent to tell us. His Highness does
not want the princess to know of his coming; he wishes to see if she
will recognize him," said the housekeeper.

"And they wanted this secret kept from me? I do not deny being a fool,
for that is how I keep my position at court, but do they think that I am
a baby who forgets what it has seen last month? Did I not see Max when
he was married, and is it reasonable to suppose that I have entirely
forgotten how he looks? They might have known that it would be safer to
tell me all about it. If I had seen him coming I might have bawled,
'Little Princess, here comes your father!' and that would have spoiled
it all."

"I do not think they remembered that you had already seen him," said the
seneschal; "at any rate we were told to keep the secret from you."

"It is a great mistake to try to keep a secret from me," said the fool,
"for I always find things out. As well try to keep the presence of the
cheese a secret from the mouse, as to try to keep anything from me. And
since you have been telling stories about Max, I will tell you one that
I heard. One day when he was riding home from the chase, a beggar
accosted him. 'Please give me alms, your Highness,' said the beggar, who
was one of the whining kind; 'although I am of lowly birth, still we are
all brothers and should help each other.' Max handed him a penny,
saying, 'Take this, my good man, and if all your brothers give you as
much, you will be richer than I.' It may be that Max did not have much
money with him at the time; I am sure he did not if it was before his
marriage, for nearly all his wealth came from Burgundy and Flanders."

"Ha! ha!" laughed the seneschal, turning to the housekeeper. "Where
would your great King of the Romans be without my country? Even a king
with no money is of little consequence."

"Pray, pray, good Sir Fool," said the housekeeper, ignoring this remark,
"keep the secret from her Highness, and let no one know that you are
aware of the coming of the archduke. Our master would be seriously
displeased if he knew that we had revealed the fact that the royal
visitor is expected."

"Do not be alarmed," replied Le Glorieux; "I shall be as silent as an
owl in daytime, for I, too, want my little mistress to have the
pleasure of a surprise." The end of the sentence was almost drowned by
the striking of the clock, and the fool continued, raising his voice, "I
do not see why it is, but it seems to me that every time I want to say
anything that clock wants to strike at that particular minute!"

"Oh, it is late, it is late," cried the housekeeper, "and we must
hurry."

"True," said the seneschal, "let the table be spread at once."

Two boys came in to spread the table, and were soundly cuffed by the
seneschal because they put the plates on before the salt, there being a
superstition that bad luck was sure to follow unless the salt went on
first of all. Some people have an idea that the way to hurry things up
is to get into a temper, and this seemed to be the case with both the
seneschal and the housekeeper, who bustled about, interrupting each
other by the commands they gave the servants, one often countermanding
the orders of the other, until their underlings ran hither and thither
without knowing what to do. Le Glorieux, who made himself perfectly at
home all over the house, followed the pair to the kitchen and seated
himself comfortably on the lower step of a winding staircase, which led
somewhere to regions above, for the old castle was full of surprises,
and one was likely to find door, stairs, and halls where they were to be
least expected.

All was hurry and wild excitement in the kitchen. At the fireplace,
which was large enough to roast an ox, the cook was basting a number of
fowls; scullions were chopping spiced dressings, beating eggs, and
attending to various features of the coming repast, and everybody seemed
to be working in a great haste, for a few sharp words from the
housekeeper, seconded by the seneschal, had stirred the whole kitchen
into a flurry. "Here, baste these fowls," cried the cook, handing a
long-handled spoon to one of the scullions. "Can you not see that I
ought to be at work on the pastry? You stand at the other end of the
room staring at nothing at all when you know that I must need you here."
The cook was quite haughty while administering this reproof, and Le
Glorieux remarked:

"Everybody has some one to scold, from the seneschal on down, and I dare
say the scullions vent their ill temper on the dogs."

The boy who was beating the eggs stopped to laugh at this remark, for
which he received a swift cuff from the housekeeper, who said, "Do you
not know that one should never pause for even a moment when beating
eggs? You deserve a good drubbing for your heedlessness."

"She beats you and you beat the eggs," remarked Le Glorieux to the boy.

The scullion at the fire began to giggle at this piece of drollery, and
tilting his spoon spilled the gravy into the flames, which received it
with a great deal of sputtering, cracking, and snapping, and an
increase of blaze, which threatened to consume all the fowls, and which
put the cook into such a rage that he snatched the spoon and hit the boy
a crack over the head with it. "Take that for a blundering idiot!" cried
he. "From your indifference and carelessness one would think a supper
for royal visitors was prepared in this kitchen every day in the week!"

"And it is a good thing that it is not," said the jester, "for in that
case I am sure that funerals in this mansion would be frequent. But it
is my fault, no doubt. I am making myself too entertaining. I will go
now, first saying that if any of you boys should receive a broken skull,
I have a box of ointment in my room to which you are quite welcome, and
which will cure the wound and cause the hair to grow over it."

So saying he lounged out of the room and to the apartment of his little
mistress. Antoine was singing for her a tinkling melody, and the jester
began to sway about in time to the music. With mischief in his eyes,
Antoine kept singing faster and faster, which caused the jester to whirl
about like a top, while the little princess clapped her hands with
delight.

"Bravo!" said a voice, when the song was finished, and turning they saw
a man's figure standing in the doorway.

"Who are you, sir, that come in unannounced, and what do you wish?"
asked the Lady Marguerite, straightening herself up, for she was most
dignified at times and would permit no liberties. If his rank might be
judged by his costume, this newcomer was taking a great liberty, and the
princess continued to gaze at him with a haughty expression of
countenance, while he remained smiling, but silent. He was dressed in a
simple gray hunting costume, and the hat he held in his hand was
adorned, not by a curling plume, but by a feather from the wing of the
black eagle.

He was of a fine and graceful figure and a handsome face, and there
seemed to be a kind of mist in his eyes as he gazed at the frowning
little lady before him, and who said again and more curtly than before:

"Will you be kind enough to tell me what brings you here?"

"I bear a message from the archduke," he replied.

"Oh," cried Marguerite, and forgetting her dignity, she sprang from her
chair and advanced toward him. "Give me the letter; where is it? Why do
you wait so long?"

"I have no letter; it is a verbal message."

"Then what is it; can you not speak?"

"He bids you be patient for a while and rest."

"Rest! I have rested till I am weary of resting. If that is all you have
to tell me, you can return whence you came and ask the archduke, my
father, if all these years have made him forget that he should love his
daughter, and if he believes that she cares not at all for him?"

The little princess did not weep, as she was inclined to do in her
disappointment, but her cheeks were flushed and her lips quivered with
emotion.

For answer, the stranger strode into the room and, picking up the little
maiden bodily in his arms, he kissed her lips, her brow, her hair, and
her eyelids a dozen times, for he must have thought, as did Le Glorieux,
that her eyes were like those of Mary of Burgundy.

"Oh!" gasped the child, but she did not struggle, for she now realized
that this could be no other than her father, the Archduke of Austria.

"I had thought to have kept my identity a secret a little longer, but
the glance of those eyes overcame me, quite," murmured Maximilian, while
Le Glorieux whispered to Antoine, "Although I am a fool, there are
moments and places when and where I feel that my presence is not
absolutely necessary, and this is one of them. She will not blame us if
we go without her permission, and our room just now is better than our
company, so let us go." And unnoticed they slipped away.

Later when the jester saw the archduke he was clothed as became his
rank, in velvet trimmed in fur, while gems flashed in the chain about
his neck and on his fingers.

"My father," said the princess, who clung to his hand as if she feared
he suddenly would vanish from her sight, "this is my jester, Le
Glorieux. He once lived at the court of Burgundy. He loved my mother and
he loves me; he was given to me by the Lady Anne of Brittany."

"She took your husband and gave you her fool," replied the archduke.

"And who shall say it was not a good exchange?" asked Le Glorieux
quickly. "Some of the women who have married into the royal house of
France have secured both king and fool in one."

Maximilian laughed. "I see you have a ready wit," said he. "I now
remember to have observed you when I stood at the door of the princess'
apartments. Did you suspect who I was, Fool?"

"Not at first," was the reply. "Kings may have a divine right, but they
have not a divine look when clothed in common wool. You are a handsome
figure of a man, but so is many a forester, and even your daughter did
not recognize you until you had hugged her like a bear. But now you look
very much as you did when I saw you at Ghent."

"You saw me at Ghent?" repeated Maximilian.

"Oh, yes; I can not flatter myself that you saw my fair face, for it was
the day you wedded our Duchess of Burgundy; but I remember you for all
that, and I have described your appearance on that day a dozen times to
my little princess."

[Illustration: None was happier than Lady Clotilde]

Among the company of ladies and gentlemen who surrounded the
supper-table none was happier than the Lady Clotilde. She wore a
costume carefully copied from one she had seen worn by Anne of Beaujeu,
and which the tailor who had fashioned it before Lady Clotilde left
Amboise would remember to the last day of his life, from the severe
tongue lashings he received while he was putting it together. It was of
a heavy velvet, bordered to the knees in rich dark fur; about her neck
were strings and strings of pearls; a veil of silver tissue bound her
brow and hung down her back, while her hair, drawn into a mass on the
top of her head, was covered by a sparkling net and spread out on either
side like the wings of a butterfly.

"I should think that some of those pearls would get lost in the hollows
of Clotilde's neck," muttered Le Glorieux to himself. This reminded him
of the moonstone pendant and he wondered for the fiftieth time where it
could be. "I have no faith in those curses that were to follow on the
loss of the trinket," thought he. "If they had been genuine, something
would be happening to her by this time. And she is just as healthy as
ever; I watched her at the table, where she ate about four capon wings,
to say nothing of a quantity of roast kid and a good many other things.
But her luck always has been something wonderful, and a misfortune that
would come at full gallop after anybody else would pass Clotilde by and
forget all about her."

The subject of piety came up that evening; Maximilian, who was always
gay and fond of his joke, but nevertheless had great reverence for the
pious teaching he had received in his youth, said, "My instructors took
pains to impress upon me the fear of God, and they laid great stress
upon the commandments to believe in one God, to honor my father and
mother, and to do unto others as I would have others do to me."

The Lady Clotilde listened to him as one entranced. Maximilian, who was
very good-natured, had made one or two complimentary remarks to her, and
she was in high feather in consequence.

"All the world can see how well your Highness lives up to your religious
training," said she. "I, too, have had all the great truths so
thoroughly impressed upon my mind that I never in any circumstances
could forget them. I could no more go to sleep without my devotional
reading than I could exist without eating. If your Highness is
interested in handsome books, you would admire my _Lives of the Saints_,
which I read every night before I close my eyes in slumber. My royal
cousin, the Queen of France"--and the Lady Clotilde straightened herself
up at the mention of her relationship to so great a personage--"knowing
my passion for devotional reading, took from me my old book worn out
with constant perusal, and gave me another instead. It was printed by a
monk, with his own hands. My royal relative is very fond of such books."

That Queen Anne was fond of such books is shown by the beautiful Book
of Hours made by her order.

"I, too, am very fond of such books, especially of the kind you
mention," said the archduke, "and which I am afraid will go out of
existence now that the style of printing with movable letters has come
in."

And it may be said in passing that printing had been invented about
forty years before by John Gutenberg at Mayence.

"I should very much like to see the volume you mention," went on the
archduke.

The Lady Clotilde fluttered with delight at this request, for she was
very proud of the volume and would take great pleasure in exhibiting it
to the royal guest.

A servant was despatched to her room forthwith, and brought the book,
which was handed to the archduke. Maximilian examined the silk of the
binding, the chasing of the silver corners, and the clasps, upon which
were engraved the arms of Brittany, a country which might at this moment
have been his own had not fate played him an ugly trick. Then he
unclasped the volume to glance through its pages, and as he did so a
bright object slipped from its leaves and fell to the floor. Le Glorieux
sprang at once to pick it up, exclaiming as he did so, "Why, Cousin
Clotilde, it is your moonstone pendant!"

And then the Lady Clotilde remembered all about it. She had worn the
ornament the night before they left Amboise, and as the maid had
forgotten to put it with her other jewels, the lady had slipped it into
the book, the pendant being flat and the book clasping loosely. She
intended to have the case taken from her box where it had been packed
ready for the journey, and the jewel put in it as soon as her maid
entered the room. And she had forgotten all about the circumstance until
this very moment! People who pretend to be what they are not will be
discovered sooner or later, and the lady's chagrin was so great that for
the moment she was absolutely dumb.

"This is the trinket that caused all that commotion," said the fool. "No
wonder Saint Monica helped the girl out of the difficulty."

Of course Maximilian had heard the story of the accusation of Cimburga,
and of her miraculous vindication, and he had patted his little
daughter's head approvingly when told of the marriage portion she had
given the maid. "I am afraid," said he to Philibert, in order to cover
the lady's confusion, "that you are not a very attentive squire, else
you would have searched for and found the locket, thus saving all the
trouble that has followed its disappearance."

"Your Highness, I saw my cousin place it in the book," replied the boy
innocently, "but as I supposed she read it every night, I never thought
of looking for the jewel in its leaves."

The way in which events sometimes group themselves is very provoking,
not to say maddening. The Lady Clotilde had a fine little story all
fixed up in her mind as soon as the first moments of her amazement had
passed. She was going to say that the real thief had no doubt repented
and had restored her property that very day, knowing that she would find
it before she slept. But now Philibert must spoil it all by telling the
whole story, for she remembered that she had expatiated to him upon the
duty of reading elevating books, had opened this one and held it in her
lap, and, seeing the pendant on the table, had censured the carelessness
of her woman, and had clasped it in the book, where she said it was safe
for the present. She had bragged of her piety to the archduke, and here
she was exposed as one who not only had not looked into the volume for
more than a fortnight, but who had told a falsehood as well!

"It is truly a curious ornament," remarked the archduke, turning it so
that the light played upon the carved face of the moonstone.

"It is an heirloom of my mother's family, your Grace," returned its
owner in a constrained, half-hearted way.

"I have been watching for something to happen to you, Cousin Clotilde,"
said the jester, "and now you will glide along and be as comfortable as
the rest of us. After all, it is a good thing that you put the moonstone
in a book that you never open, for if you had found it right away, you
never would have accused Cimburga, and if you had not accused Cimburga,
she would never have received the purse of gold for her dower, and then
she never would have married Karl, for the prudent miller sooner or
later would have persuaded his son to marry the weaver's daughter. So
let us be thankful that you are not so pious as you think you are, and
that you put the pendant in a book where it would have remained for
months, perhaps years, if you had not wanted to show it to Cousin Max."

But the Lady Clotilde derived no comfort from the favor she incidentally
had done the maid. It never had entered her head that she owed the girl
some reparation for the fright she had caused her, and for the
humiliating position in which she had been placed, for the Lady Clotilde
did not own the kind of a head that would entertain such an idea.

The beds at the castle were most comfortable, being, as Philibert had
said, stuffed with the down of many fowls, and that of the Lady Clotilde
was hung with the richest brocade, but as she went to it boiling with
rage at Philibert, Le Glorieux, Cimburga, the countess, and everybody in
the remotest way connected with the moonstone, it was long before sweet
sleep visited her eyelids.

But the little princess closed her eyes with a smile, and soon sank into
pleasant dreams; she had seen her father, and he was all that her fancy
had painted him: he was affectionate, gay, and handsome. He had spoken
during the evening of his combats and she knew that he always had
vanquished his opponents. He was a true and brave knight, and happy
indeed was she in being the daughter of one so worthy and so favored by
fortune.



CHAPTER VIII

A ROYAL ALCHEMIST


The object of her greatest desire, the meeting with her father, having
been attained, the princess was in no haste to leave Castle Hohenberg,
and as the archduke was glad to rest a while from the cares of state, a
number of merry days were spent under its hospitable roof, where
everything that could be thought of to add to the enjoyment of the
guests was done, with probably a vast increase in the housekeeping
accounts, for it is expensive to entertain royal visitors.

In the evening there was dancing in the great hall, and it was led by
Maximilian, who chose for his partner the prettiest lady in the room, or
the oldest and most ill-favored, for he made himself agreeable to all.

When he spoke of taking his departure one of the ladies declared that
she would hide his boots and spurs, which would detain him as long as
she should see fit to keep him there, for a prince riding away without
those useful articles of wearing apparel would present an odd spectacle.
This same trick had been played upon Maximilian in another mansion, and
he had good-naturedly yielded to the wishes of the mischievous dames
and prolonged his stay in consequence. The archduke was friendly to
everybody, and on his way to and from the outdoor sports that were
arranged for him he chatted affably with any peasant with whom he
happened to come in contact, and when we read such things of him we are
not surprised that the people adored him.

But, however pleasant it may have been at Castle Hohenberg, there were
plenty of other places in Maximilian's wide domain that longed for him
or needed him, or both, and ere long the party was ready to continue its
journey along the Rhine.

[Illustration: Marguerite heard a gay song in the courtyard]

On the morning of their departure Marguerite heard a gay song in the
courtyard beneath her window; it was Cimburga, who was going to feed the
doves. The birds immediately flew to meet their friend, settling on her
shoulders, her head, and the basket in which she had brought their food,
the sunlight bringing out the rose tints in the gray of their plumage.
The girl scattered the grain with a lavish hand, and then held the end
of a crust of bread between her white teeth, turning her face toward her
shoulder, upon which two of the most impertinent of the doves had
settled, followed by a host of others, who quarreled over the morsel at
such a rate that Cimburga, laughing, threw it at them, saying, "Take it,
then, greedy ones, since you can not wait."

The Lady Marguerite called to the maid, and the latter glancing upward
beheld a picture which she never forgot as long as she lived, and which
always seemed to her like the recollection of a beautiful young saint
who had come to life in its niche. In the arched window of the gray old
castle stood the little princess, her bright uncovered hair like a halo
about her face, which beamed upon the maid with a gracious smile.
Marguerite was not an angel, as the jester had well said, but to the
girl who now gazed upon her, and who had received so great a boon at her
hands, she seemed more than human.

The daughter of the Hapsburgs ignored for the moment the gulf that
divided her from this child of the people, just as her father often did
in similar circumstances. "Are you happy now, Cimburga?" she asked
gently.

"Oh, so happy, your gracious Highness, and all thanks to you!" returned
the girl. "The mistress has given me a wedding dress of a beautiful
blue, the color that belongs to the Blessed Virgin, and we are to be
married next week. And Karl's father has found an inn for him farther
south, called The Flying Fawn. And I am to be the landlady of an inn!"
She paused and looked very serious for a moment at the thought of her
new dignity. Then she broke into a peal of laughter at nothing at all,
but just from pure happiness.

"I am glad because you are glad, Cimburga," said the princess gently.

"And indeed, your Highness, I shall pray every night to Saint Joseph to
send you as good a husband as I have myself," continued the girl
earnestly. Marguerite smiled at this, but after all there was many a
prince who would not be so kind to his royal wife as humble Karl would
be to the maiden of his choice.

At Metz they were greeted by Marguerite's brother, a handsome boy known
to history as Philip of Flanders. He was about to go to that country to
remain, and so we shall see very little of him in this story.

Everywhere in their own domain the emperor and his daughter had been
received with every demonstration of delight by their loyal people, and
at Metz they were royally entertained by the Duke of Lorraine, who
caused to be given on his wonderful stage a play for their amusement.

It was a very queer theater, or at least it would look so to us to-day,
and the plays produced there did not in the least resemble those we are
accustomed to see.

Plays in the beginning were given in Latin, and were played in churches
on Christmas, Easter, and Good Friday. But when they began to be recited
in the language spoken by the people the church would have none of them,
and they were performed in the open air. The stage at Metz was nine
stories high, and as to whether their costumes were appropriate or the
contrary was a question which seemed to trouble the actors very little,
and it must have seemed rather odd to see the angel Gabriel appear in a
robe that had been worn by his Satanic Majesty in a previous scene.
There were a great many people in the play, which must have been very
confusing, because of the comic interludes where clowns danced about
performing their various antics, which had nothing whatever to do with
the play itself. The piece witnessed by Maximilian and his suite lasted
for three days, and Le Glorieux declared that he for one was glad when
it was finished.

"But you can not see such spectacles every day," said Philibert.

"Thank fortune for that!" said the fool.

"But are you not fond of the drama?"

"Yes, and I am also fond of bread, but I should not like to eat bread
every minute for three days."

At Linz they stopped to pay their respects to the old emperor, whom
Marguerite never had seen, or at least not since her babyhood, which
does not count. Frederick the Third was almost eighty years old now. He
had given up the government of the country to his son, and had retired
to his palace at Linz, where he pursued his "studies," as he called
them, and which he fondly imagined them to be, though to-day his
pursuits would make a boy of average intelligence smile broadly.

When Frederick was selected to be the emperor of Austria he thought over
the matter for eleven weeks before he could make up his mind to accept
the honor thus proffered him. He never has been called a wise or a
worthy ruler; quite the contrary, indeed; but the fact that he took time
to think the matter over shows that he realized that the duties of his
position would not be child's play, and as he had reigned for more than
fifty years, it may be supposed that he was rather tired of it by this
time. The emperor was a tall, white-haired old man of majestic
appearance, with a heavy, protruding under lip. He kissed his son on
both cheeks, and saluted his granddaughter in the same way, though
without any extravagant display of affection, doubtless having his mind
at the moment on his laboratory, where he was engaged in trying a number
of experiments, of which writers of his day speak with a great deal of
respect, not to say awe.

Wishing to entertain her royal grandfather, Marguerite asked Antoine to
sing for him. The old emperor listened with a dreamy expression of
countenance, as one who is absorbed in his own thoughts, and when the
song was finished he asked his granddaughter and the boys to accompany
him to his laboratory, where they were, of course, followed by Le
Glorieux.

The laboratory was fitted up with all the appointments that could
possibly be suggested by the "studies" of the great man who spent so
much of his time within its four walls. There were globes and
compasses, and maps of the starry heavens, for the emperor was very
learned in astrology. "It was a comet that came to tell me of the birth
of the King of the Romans, my son," said he solemnly. "It was necessary
that a brave and wise prince should succeed me, and just before his
birth a pale light was seen in the sky, which attracted the attention of
learned men everywhere, and which proved to be a comet, growing larger
and larger each night, reaching its greatest brilliancy on the night of
my son's birth. The next night it was less bright, and before many
nights it had disappeared!"

The emperor paused here, and no one remarked that this behavior on the
part of comets is not unusual. Then he continued, "Until my son was
twelve years of age I thought he was going to be either a mute or a
fool. There was no sign of any but a very ordinary grade of
intelligence, and I lost faith in the glorious predictions regarding him
that I had read in the heavens. He learned his lessons only after a
series of floggings, and I feared that my realm was to be governed by a
weakling. But why should I have doubted the assurance given me by the
planets? My son came out of his stupidity as from a dream, and he is now
one of the most learned of men. He can address the ambassadors of eight
different countries, each in his own language; he can dictate a number
of letters at once, each in a different tongue. And the stars have said
that Austria will become the mistress of the world."

Although we know that the old emperor left a writing to the effect that
his country would exceed all others in greatness, the prediction did not
come true, showing that the stars frequently make mistakes.

The visitors examined the contents of the laboratory with great
interest. The shelves contained all sorts of bottles and retorts, and
the vessels in which he stirred his mixtures were marked with a red
cross to keep out the demon, who, it was believed, had an inconvenient
and impertinent way of meddling with such things.

[Illustration: He popped the rose into a jar]

The Lady Marguerite held in her hand a red rose, which was given to her
by the head gardener, and which, being of a rare variety, was greatly
cherished by that functionary, and thought to be a suitable gift, even
for a princess. The emperor reached out his hand for the rose, and
taking it from her, he popped it into a jar, where it soon became as
white as snow. Then, taking it out again, he said, "It would be a pity
to spoil a lady's flower," and throwing it into another jar, it became
its own rich red again.

This feat seemed almost a miracle to the four spectators who witnessed
it, though a chemist to-day would think nothing of it. To make sugar and
alcohol out of an old linen shirt, to make all the colors of the
rainbow, to say nothing of medicines and perfumes, and a substance
many times sweeter than sugar, out of a thing so black and sticky and
generally unpromising as coal tar, are a few of the feats accomplished
by the chemists of our own time, but which would have made the
alchemists of Frederick's day gasp for breath.

"Here," said the emperor, taking up a long slender vial, "is a specific
for many ailments, which I have succeeded in making out of a few drops
of water. And here," he went on, taking up a yellow piece of parchment
covered with hieroglyphics and strange characters, "is a recipe which
came to me from the Orient, and said to have been greatly prized by
Hermes Tris-me-gistus." He drew out the long name to its fullest extent,
and Le Glorieux whispered to Antoine, "Is it not strange that at his age
he can remember such things? If I had a friend of that name and wanted
to write him a letter, I could never do it in this world, for by the
time I had written the first part of the name I would have forgotten the
last of it. Yet this old man rattles it off as easily as if he were
telling what he would like for breakfast. It must be because the Germans
are used to such long words that nothing in that line staggers them."

"This tells how to make gold," said the emperor, regarding the parchment
with great satisfaction. "It begins, 'Catch the flying bird and drown it
that it may fly no more.' You would be puzzled at the meaning of that
sentence, would you not?" he asked, turning with a superior smile to his
audience, all of whom murmured a respectful affirmative, save Le
Glorieux, who said, "I should say it was directions as to how to prepare
a fowl for the spit. Though I should advise cutting its head off, which
is a much quicker and more respectable way than to drown it."

"Ha, ha!" cackled the old emperor. "Wiser men than yourself, Fool, might
think the same thing. 'The flying bird' means quicksilver, which is very
easy to change into gold."

"Since he knows so well how to make gold, I wonder why he is so stingy,"
whispered the jester to Antoine. The latter shook his head and made no
reply, this being a problem too deep for him to solve.

"But the making of gold," went on Frederick, "is attended with great
danger. Nature is very jealous of her riches, and conceals her precious
metals in the most inaccessible spots, and in trying to make it we are
likely to meet with a terrible explosive."

The emperor took a ring from his finger set with a large diamond. "This
stone," said he, "is called the 'indomitable one,' for it is the hardest
of all. It is the most beautiful of gems, for it has the flash of the
emerald, the gleam of the sapphire, and the glow of the ruby. Around the
origin of this stone Nature has woven a mystery; she has allied it to
charcoal and other black substances. But I can make it by adding colors
to pebbles, as I can make rubies, emeralds, and sapphires."

"Did you make the stone in your ring, Grandfather?" asked the princess
innocently.

"No," replied the emperor.

"Why does he not show us one that he _has_ made?" whispered Le Glorieux
to Antoine, and it certainly seemed as if the proof of this statement
should be forthcoming, since, "_If_ Peter Piper picked a peck of pickled
peppers, _where_ is the peck of pickled peppers that Peter Piper
picked?" But a writer of his time assures us that Frederick actually
made precious stones out of pebbles, so he must have been content to
take the emperor's word for it.

"Here," said the royal alchemist, taking up a second scroll of yellow
parchment, "is another formula which caused me much trouble and expense
to procure. It tells how to make thunder and lightning."

The emperor, with his profound knowledge of the heavens and the secrets
of the earth, was an object of too much awe to Le Glorieux to be joked
with, as he was in the habit of doing, but he said to Philibert as they
left their august host, "Of course, it may be a great pleasure to know
how to make thunder and lightning, and a man who is fond of excitement
and tired of a quiet life might do it sometimes just to amuse himself.
But, speaking for myself, I do not think I should like to mix up such a
mess, at least not often."

It was in that same year that the emperor died, leaving Maximilian ruler
in name as he had been for some time in fact. He was in possession of
the domains of the Hapsburgs, as well as those of the Dukes of Burgundy,
and he was served by kings and electors. Still, in spite of his exalted
position, he did not become cold and forbidding in his manner, remaining
frank and affable as he had been before. Writers have criticised him for
his friendly ways, but after all is it not better for a ruler to be the
darling of his people than always to be on his dignity, afraid to show a
little human friendliness and good feeling?

The year after Maximilian became emperor he was united in marriage to
Bianca Sforza, an Italian lady. When this marriage was first mentioned
Le Glorieux said to the Lady Marguerite, "I can learn nothing about your
new mother save that she is high-tempered, and fond of a certain kind of
shellfish. It seems to me there ought to be something more to say about
a woman than just that!"

The princess accepted her new mother as a matter of course. This
marriage was an affair of mere business; the emperor needed money with
which to fight Charles the Eighth of France, and money he would obtain
by his marriage with this lady, who was far inferior to her
predecessor, Mary of Burgundy, both in education and beauty. Although
Frederick had claimed to have discovered the secret of turning
quicksilver into gold, he did not seem to have left the recipe behind
him, for the purse of his son was always gaunt and longing to be filled.

The Lady Clotilde had not returned to France, as it had been her
intention to do; she had found that the climate of Austria agreed with
her health to a degree little short of marvelous. She said that there
were certain viands that she would not dare to touch in Burgundy,
Brittany, or France, but which in the German empire did her all the good
in the world. Of course, she was going away soon, next month, or surely
the month after; but still the Lady Clotilde lingered on.

Philibert, finding greater advantages here for a young gentleman of rank
than in his own country, also remained. It seemed that the Count de
Bresse, his father, absorbed in his own schemes--and they were not
always innocent ones--had almost forgotten that he owned a son, and the
boy was well contented to be thus neglected, being perfectly happy in
his new surroundings. In those days nations were almost continually
engaged in some kind of turmoil, either fighting each other or trying to
make peace, and Austria had its share of such proceedings; but at this
time the principal characters of this story saw only the pleasant side
of life. Antoine became more and more proficient in his music;
Philibert became quite scholarly at the court of this emperor, who
surrounded himself with scholars; Le Glorieux amused himself and
everybody else, while the princess was put under the care of her tutors,
and, taking a leaf from her father's book, was always affable and
gracious to her inferiors.



CHAPTER IX

PHILIBERT IN DANGER


Three years had passed. Philibert and Antoine now were tall youths, and
Marguerite was a slender, graceful maiden of fifteen.

"I am sorry that she is growing up," said Cunegunda to Le Glorieux.

"Then am I to infer that you are fond of dwarfs?" asked he.

"No, but do you not see that as soon as she becomes a woman she must
marry?"

"Most women do," he returned, "and most of them are equally
discontented, whether they do or do not."

"And small wonder, since they must marry men," said Cunegunda. Le
Glorieux could always throw her into a temper. "I did not marry again,
and I am not discontented," she added.

"I have no doubt that you have made many a man discontented by refusing
them right and left," said the fool politely.

Cunegunda smiled, but looked serious again as she said dolefully, "Our
princess must marry and go to live in a strange land. How I wish that
she were merely the child of a nobleman instead of being the daughter of
the emperor; then she could remain in Austria. Now she must go away."

[Illustration: "Something about me makes you cry"]

"You are getting ready to cry again," said the jester, in an injured
tone. "I am supposed to make people laugh. Even his Majesty laughs at
me. But there seems to be something about me that makes you cry. If you
will tell me what it is I will change it, both for your benefit and my
own. That you can not see the point of a joke, no matter if it is as big
as my head, is perhaps not your fault; but it seems to me that you might
keep from bursting into tears every time you see me or hear the jingle
of my bells."

Philibert de Bresse approached; he was dressed in all the grandeur of
the time, and a fine sword hung by his side. "What is the trouble with
Dame Cunegunda?" he asked.

"Nothing in particular," replied the fool, "save that she wants our
princess to marry a hair-dresser, or some person of the kind."

"I said nothing about a hair-dresser, and you know it!" snapped the
indignant woman. "I do not want my little lady to go away to a strange
country. I am now past middle age, and I am attached to my own land and
do not want to leave it."

"I was not aware that the emperor was arranging a foreign match for
you," remarked Le Glorieux.

Deeming this piece of satire too trivial to notice, Cunegunda said, "I
must go with my lady wherever she goes, for so I promised her mother."

"Is that promise to hold good until she is ninety?" asked Le Glorieux.

"It is to hold good as long as there is breath in my body, and she does
not forbid me to accompany her."

"But there is no danger--I mean there is no prospect of the Lady
Marguerite's making a foreign marriage?" asked Philibert hastily.

"I am very much inclined to believe that there is," replied Le Glorieux.
"If nothing of the kind happens soon, it will not be the fault of that
dark-browed Spanish envoy, Don Juan Manuel. He is quiet and cold, but he
is always thinking. Not that most people are not always thinking when
they are quiet, for few people's brains are swept quite empty of
thoughts, but his thinking counts for something. He knows quite well
what he is about, does Manuel. He is always talking to our emperor, who
listens with a great deal of attention to all that he says, and whatever
it is, it will be a good thing for Spain, you can make up your mind to
that."

"And who is this Spaniard who has so much influence over the Emperor of
Austria?" asked Philibert hotly. "He is a nobody, an ordinary Castilian,
who managed to attract the attention of the Queen of Spain, afterward
gaining her confidence when he became her secretary."

"Well, that he did gain her confidence, and that he has a good deal of
influence over Max, is a fact nevertheless," returned the fool. "The
young Prince of the Asturias is of the right age to marry, and will be a
suitable match for our princess, and, so far as I am concerned, I am
perfectly willing that they should marry, for I think that I should like
to live in Spain. The climate is very fine, there would not be so much
trouble in keeping warm as there is here, and I am fond of oranges."

"The Spanish match is not made yet, and how do you know that the Lady
Marguerite would take you with her, even if she should go to Spain?"
asked Cunegunda disdainfully.

"How do I know that she would take her shoes with her to Spain?" he
inquired. "I have become a necessity to her; she could not get on
without me. Besides that, I was a present to her from the Lady Anne, now
Queen of France. If I was valuable when I was the present of a mere
duchess, my value has increased tenfold now that I am the gift of a
queen. So do not talk any more nonsense about my not going, for I shall
be the first one to be considered."

"I do not want to go away to a strange country," reiterated Cunegunda,
and she went away wiping her eyes.

Philibert walked slowly to the other end of the room, seeming to be
absorbed in unpleasant thought, and the jester followed him, chattering
all the while, but getting no reply.

"Philbert, my boy," said he, "I can see that you are in a sour and
unhappy frame of mind. I feel that the remark I made about the climate
and the oranges of Spain has made you restless and envious. Besides
that, you do not want to be separated from me, for nobody does. Now, I
have a great deal of influence with my young mistress, and I will
persuade her to let you go to Spain in her suite. Think of it! How fine
it will be to hear the pretty señoritas tinkling their guitars, to pluck
the olives from the trees--not that I care for them when they are
plucked--and to see that great palace which the Spanish sovereigns
snatched from the Moors; and they say there is a bedstead made from the
gold that the Admiral Columbus brought from the new lands across the
sea; perhaps, if we manage it right we may be allowed to sleep in
that--in the bed, I mean, not the sea."

"Do not talk to me of Spain," said Philibert impatiently. "I hate the
country, and I never want to see it."

"Philibert, my boy," said the fool, not at all disturbed by this
outburst, "you are growing quick-tempered. I have noticed it for some
time. Try to cultivate a sweet and gentle disposition. I hope I am not
conceited, but really you would be more agreeable if you were more like
me."

The sound of gay laughter and buzz of conversation was heard, and the
Lady Marguerite and her ladies, followed by a number of gentlemen,
entered the salon. The princess wore a gown of white, with wide sleeves
that almost touched the floor; the heavy braids of her hair, wound with
ropes of pearls, fell far below her waist, while a fillet of the same
jewels clasped her brow. She came toward the window near which Philibert
and the jester stood, and said with a bright smile, "I am very happy. My
father has promised that I shall go with him to the mountains when he
goes to hunt chamois. Never before would he give his consent to my
going."

"To climb rocks and leap chasms after chamois would, I should think, be
very entertaining pastime for a lady," said Le Glorieux. "And you will
look well if your long locks should get caught in a crag and leave you
suspended like a spider from its web."

"Oh, I do not intend to hunt," she replied, laughing. "We ladies will
stop at the inn at the foot of the mountain, and go just a little way up
to see the hunters start."

"It will be more enjoyable if Philibert and Antoine and I should go
along," said Le Glorieux.

"Oh, yes; you shall go, if you like, and one of you shall get me a
flower of the edelweiss from some inaccessible crag."

Señor Manuel, the Spanish envoy, now joined them, in a hesitating
manner, as one who does not wish to intrude, yet who has something of
importance to say. "I have something here that I was ordered to give to
your Highness," said he. "It is a gift from his royal Highness, the
Prince of the Asturias." He drew a small packet from his breast, which
he placed in her hand with a profound obeisance, and withdrew without
more words.

[Illustration: "Come, Philibert, please cut this cord for me"]

"Oh," said the princess, "I wonder what it can be!" She tried eagerly to
undo the wrappings, for she was young enough to be very anxious
regarding a present. Taking a seat in the window she busied herself with
the cord, which she twisted into a hopeless tangle in her haste to untie
it. "Come, Philibert," she called impatiently, "please cut this cord for
me."

He took the package from her hand and broke the cord in his strong
fingers so suddenly and so vigorously that the wrappings fell apart and
a portrait fell with a sharp click to the floor.

"You must not open a package as if you were trying to throttle an
assassin," said Le Glorieux reproachfully, as Philibert with an apology
recovered the portrait and placed it in the Lady Marguerite's hand.

"Her Highness is unfortunate in asking the assistance of one so
awkward," murmured Philibert, and with a bow he withdrew.

But Marguerite did not look at him, so intent was she in examining the
portrait. "Come and see what was sent to me by Don Juan, Prince of the
Asturias," she said to the other ladies, some of whom were young, and
all as eager to see it as herself. The portrait was painted on ivory,
and was surrounded by diamonds; it was of a youth on the threshold of
manhood, a gentle, pleasing face, with blue eyes and fair hair.

"I thought Spaniards were dark," said Marguerite.

"The Prince could not well be dark, since his father and mother both are
fair," said one of the gentlemen, who had visited the court of Spain.
"His mother, Queen Isabella, is descended from the great English House
of Plantagenet, both of her parents coming from that royal family."

"So much the better if he is light," remarked the jester. "My own hair
is light, being indeed of a fine reddish tinge, though the cap I wear
conceals its beauty from the world, which is a pity. I never have known
many Spaniards, but I am sure I should be fonder of a light-haired one
than of that dark ambassador with his black hair always as smooth as
glass, like the head of a snake, and who glides in and out so silently
that you never see him until he stands before you."

Marguerite's ladies expressed a great deal of admiration for the
picture, which they considered a very handsome face, but perhaps their
opinion was biased by the fact that the original was the future king of
one of the richest and most powerful nations in Europe. But Marguerite
slipped the portrait beneath her girdle and expressed no further
opinion concerning it.

The court was now staying in the royal castle of Innsbruck in the Tyrol.
Maximilian cherished a fond affection for this country, because he had
added it to the possessions left him by his father. In his bedchamber at
Innsbruck are to be found these lines, "I, king by the grace of God,
wear the crown that I may protect the poor, and be just to all, and in
order that we may all live in peace eternal."

The landlord of the The Hunter's Rest, the inn at the foot of the
mountains where his Majesty went to hunt, had entertained the emperor
more than once; but he was somewhat overwhelmed by the company of
ladies, who now formed a part of the imperial party. Maximilian, as
usual upon such occasions, was plainly dressed; he wore a green hunting
suit somewhat the worse for wear, for he was not particular regarding
his personal appearance when engaged in his favorite pastime of chasing
the chamois. An Alpine hat with a single feather was worn where the
crown of the Hapsburgs had rested, while his aristocratic feet were
encased in stout hunting boots. Yes, the emperor was more like one of
themselves; he was always so merry, laughing and joking with the
landlord's wife, chucking the roly-poly children under their chins,
exchanging a good-natured word with anybody who happened to drop in,
that he won all hearts, and they forgot their awe of the emperor in
their admiration of the man.

But these ladies in their elegant fur-trimmed gowns and their dainty
little ways,--would anything that the inn afforded be half good enough
for them? The landlord soon found, however, that the greatest lady among
them, the princess herself, was sweet and gracious, and she even kissed
the dimpled face of the baby, an act on her part which never was
forgotten, and which the child herself lived to tell to her
grandchildren, always pointing to the exact spot which her good mother
had informed her had been brushed by the rosy lips of her Highness, the
Lady Marguerite of Hapsburg. And the other ladies were obliged to unbend
in imitation of their young mistress, and so they were far less
awe-inspiring than had been expected.

The ladies accompanied the hunters a little way up the mountain, until
the ascent became steep and tiresome, and then they returned to the inn.
There the princess, who was very fond of pets, was greatly attracted by
a baby chamois, a little kid, which had been adopted by the landlord's
children. He was a cunning little fellow, with bright eyes that seemed
to sparkle with fun when she stroked his foolish little face and soft
velvety ears. When she spoke to him he would turn his head to one side
as if reflecting upon what the lady had said, seeming to be thinking
very hard with a view of giving a suitable reply, and then he would
double himself up and roll about like a kitten.

In the meantime the emperor's party were climbing higher, an ascent
which grew more and more difficult as they continued. Le Glorieux, who
had hunted the chamois in the company of his late master, was acquainted
with the ways of this elusive animal, which is one of the most difficult
in the world to hunt. But to Philibert and Antoine the experience was
new and strange. These three were a little behind the others when Le
Glorieux said, pointing to the right, "There is one!"

"Oh, that," said Philibert, "is nothing but a rock. You are prepared to
see a chamois in every distant object."

"I am very much mistaken," said the other, "if that is not a sentinel
sent out to watch for danger, while the others may take their breakfast
in peace. You have no idea what a very clever animal the chamois is. If
a good many kings and emperors were half as keen to scent danger it
would be a great deal better for the countries they rule."

"What is the good of a chamois being a sentinel?" asked Antoine. "If
that is one he is too far away from the others to call their attention
to danger."

"Not a bit of it," was the reply. "He is too clever to get too far away
to give the signal; trust him to look out for that. If he should see us
he would say in his way, which would be to stamp his forefeet and give
a shrill kind of a whistle, 'Here are some of those disgusting human
beings with their bows and arrows. Get out of their way as fast as you
can, every one of you!'"

One of the huntsmen now said that they would be obliged to go back and
come up the other side of the gorge, as they must get above the game in
order to shoot it, so they went down a steep ravine, climbing over
ledges of rock and up the other side. But in the meantime the sentinel
had done his duty and had informed his friends of the presence of the
men with their bows and arrows, and the party, which now could see the
flock, numbering some twenty animals, saw a scampering that was
wonderful to behold. With a series of remarkable leaps they sprang over
a gulch and climbed up rocks so steep it seemed as if no living creature
could have found a footing.

Round the other way went the hunters after them, rushing pell-mell over
rocks and shrubs, but all the animals escaped save one, which seemed
doomed eventually to become the prey of Maximilian. Higher and higher
climbed the frightened chamois, higher and higher followed the straight
athletic figure of the emperor. Once when he was hunting chamois
Maximilian had found himself in a position so perilous that it seemed to
him that nothing but the suddenly-developed wings of a bird could
possibly extricate him, but he did not remember former dangers now, for
he thought of nothing but the capture of the frightened creature flying
before him.

Finally the hunted animal could go no farther, finding it impossible to
climb higher, or to pass its pursuer in a downward flight. So there was
nothing to do but to wait in trembling expectancy the death that was
sure to come. The emperor seized his knife, and the chamois, as if
willing at last to yield to the inevitable, seemed to lean its soft body
toward the cruel blade, then fell headlong down the rocks, from where it
was afterward taken by the attendants.

And thus the hunt continued, and Philibert, though he watched it with
interest, had turned his mind upon the attainment of one object, and
that was finding a cluster of edelweiss. Sometimes our thoughts appear
to be reflected in the mind of some one besides us, and it now seemed to
be the case, for Le Glorieux said, "I am not foolishly squeamish, I
should hope, and I have stood up in battle and shot at men who were able
to defend themselves, but I can not say that it amuses me in the least
to see a chamois killed. They are such gentle things, and they make such
a plucky effort to save themselves, and they look at their captor with
such piteous eyes when they are stabbed, that I do not see anything
enjoyable in it, though, of course, I am nothing but a fool. And, as our
little princess wants a sprig of edelweiss, I shall go in pursuit of a
flower instead of a chamois."

"Le Glorieux, dear Le Glorieux, let me get the flower for her," pleaded
Philibert.

"What matters which of us gets it, so long as she has it?" asked the
fool. "Let us both look for it, and then it will be more likely to be
found."

"Very well, if you think best, but I like to do things for her, Le
Glorieux. I went to the wars with my father when I was so young that I
scarcely remember the love of a sister, and when the Lady Marguerite
smiled at me the first night that I saw her, with a look of kindness
that no one else ever had given me, I felt as if I could give up my life
for her."

"She always is kind," said the jester; "she never is haughty, even to
her servants. I loved her in the first place because she was her
mother's daughter, but now I love her for herself. She never has a harsh
word or a sharp tongue for the poor fool, and seems to remember that he
has feelings as well as the rest of the world."

[Illustration: He lay for some time stunned]

The edelweiss is a flower which grows upon dizzy heights, blooming under
the snow. The great difficulty sometimes experienced in finding it
renders it the more desirable. Philibert had seen the flower and knew
that it usually grew in dangerous places; but this fact did not make him
hesitate for a moment in his resolve to pluck it. After searching for
some time he was at last rewarded by seeing a cluster of the snowy
blossoms hanging over the edge of a dark rock some distance below him.
There was no way to reach it but to attempt a dangerous descent by
climbing down the cliff to where the flowers grew. But the boy, in his
eagerness to obtain the flower, did not think of the danger, and
forthwith began to climb downward, finding a foothold on rough
projections, and clinging to others, sliding cautiously downward, for
there was a little level space just above the plant where he knew he
could stand while securing it. It was a foolhardy feat, and would not
have been undertaken by any but a rash youth, who gave no thought to
possible consequences, and who was resolved to accomplish what he had
undertaken in spite of everything. A stunted shrub grew out of the rocks
some distance above the flower, and Philibert grasped it, thinking to
swing himself downward. This act was his undoing, for the treacherous
limb broke with a sharp snap, and the youth was precipitated downward,
not to the level space beside the flower, but over it and some twenty
feet down to another level space, where he lay for some time stunned and
unconscious.

When he returned to his senses he was lying flat on his back on a narrow
ledge of rock, and dangerously near the edge, with a little stream of
blood trickling from his temple. Rising to his feet he moved his legs
and arms as vigorously as possible, to see if any bones were broken, but
was delighted to find that, with the exception of the cut, which did
not seem to be a deep one, he had sustained no serious injury.

But Philibert would have been far more comfortable and easy in his mind
on safe ground with a broken arm than he was in this lonely spot, though
comparatively uninjured. For the depth below him was so great that it
made him dizzy to look over the edge of his resting-place, while above
him the rock was so steep that not even a chamois could have climbed it.
And there above him, as it had been but a short time ago below him, was
the edelweiss, its flowers nodding at him impudently as if defying him
to come up and take them. "I will have you yet," said he, though he felt
that in the circumstances this sounded a good deal like an empty boast.

Each member of the hunting party had a horn at his side to blow in case
of need, but that of Philibert was flattened by his fall, and would not
give forth the faintest sound. His friends would miss him and search for
him, but he had heard of people who had been lost for ever among these
cold, silent mountains, and he could not help thinking that possibly
this was to be his own fate, for he knew that, intent upon his search,
he had wandered quite a distance from his companions, who might not know
in what direction to look for him. And all this for a cluster of
starlike blossoms that looked over the edge of the rock above him and
nodded in derision! He put his hands to his mouth and called as loudly
as he could, but the rocks echoed his call and seemed to throw it back
at him disdainfully and mockingly.

He repeated the call until he was tired, then he sat down quietly to
think. How long could he remain here before he froze or starved to
death? He had heard of life being sustained on roots and herbs, but
there was nothing here but rock, and nothing above him but rock, while
below him there seemed to be naught save the empty air. After a while,
when the excitement caused by his new position had given way to despair,
he found that the wound on his temple really did pain him, and turning
quite faint he remained for a long while with his eyes closed.

After what seemed to be a very long time the sound of a horn was borne
to him on the air, a sound which seemed to the lost one as sweet as the
song of an angel. He rose to his feet, and, putting his hands to his
mouth once more, he called three times with all his strength. An
answering call reassured him, and soon hearing voices, he called again,
and was overjoyed to see the faces of his friends looking over the
precipice above.

"In the name of all the saints, boy," called Maximilian, "are you hurt?"

"No, your Majesty, only a little bruised."

There was the hurried buzz of conversation, which he could not
distinguish, and the looped end of a rope was lowered to him, which he
secured about his body. Then he was slowly drawn up, and as he swung
opposite the nodding blossoms, Philibert reached out his hands and
grasped them, pulling them out by the roots.

"What is the matter with the boy? Is he out of his senses?" asked the
emperor, who was anxiously watching the ascent to terra firma.

"No, I do not know that you could call him out of his senses exactly,"
replied Le Glorieux. "The Lady Marguerite wanted some edelweiss
blossoms, and he was trying to find them for her. I have no doubt that
he was after that very bunch when he fell. There is one thing that I
have noticed about Philibert," went on the jester, "and that is that
when he starts out to do a thing he will do it if it threatens every
drop of blood in his body."

"He is a foolhardy youth," said the emperor. "I can understand how one
could take almost any risk to kill a chamois, but not to pluck a handful
of weeds." But he looked pleased, nevertheless, for he was a man who
could appreciate perseverance. And he examined Philibert's wound with
careful attention, saying that the two boys and the jester should return
to the inn in the company of one of the guides. And Philibert de Bresse
still clutched the flowers which he had risked so much to obtain.

Behind the mountaineer's hut, where the remainder of the party expected
to spend the night, Le Glorieux took from the spot where he carefully
had placed them, a cluster of snowy blossoms, which, with great
difficulty, a scratched face, and some bruises, he had gathered before
he heard of Philibert's mishap. These children of the snow he threw over
the cliff unseen by his companions. "Let him have all the praise and the
honor of it," said he to himself. "You are nothing but a fool, Le
Glorieux, and you must not be selfish."

The princess received the flowers with a little cry of joy, and she
thanked the donor with a smile so beaming, inquiring so tenderly about
his wound, that Philibert felt repaid a thousandfold for the trouble he
had taken to gratify her wish.

"But, my poor Le Glorieux," said the princess sweetly, "you have an ugly
scratch across your face, and your hands are bruised. Have you also had
a fall?"

"No, little Cousin," he returned gravely, and with a shake of the head.
"The scrapings you notice on my handsome countenance and on my slender
hands are but the result of a weakness with which I was born."

"You were not born with those scratches, or I should have observed them
long ago," she replied, smiling.

"I said the result of a weakness, your Highness. It is my nature to want
to climb. Whenever I see the side of a rock I am seized with an
uncontrollable desire to scale it, and climb I must if the sky falls. I
always have found it the most agreeable sensation in the world to be
clinging to the side of a rock with nothing over me but the blue of the
heavens, and nothing beneath me but the blue of some mountain lake and
with a delightful feeling of uncertainty as to just where I am to find
my next foothold."

"That is an odd taste indeed," she returned, laughing, "and I do not
think there are many who share it with you."

Antoine, I regret to say, was a mischievous youth, as we have seen from
the trick he played on his friend the jester when they first started out
on their journey together, and it may have been--though of course he
would have scorned the suggestion--that some of the raps given him by
the old Duchess of Burgundy were not altogether undeserved.

However that may be, he surely did meddle with something at the inn
which did not concern him, as you shall presently see. That "something"
was a cunning little bear. The innkeeper conducted the jester and the
two boys to a rude cage constructed out of the limbs of trees, which he
had placed a little distance from the house and near the edge of the
forest. Within the cage was a brown bear cub which had been brought to
him by a friend. This wild and woolly pet, he said, he was going to
train and sell for a good round sum to a traveling mountebank, who would
want to exhibit it in the courtyards of inns and before the nobility.

Young Master Bruin was already learning, and one felt that his education
would be completed by the time he was full grown. When his master would
say "Come," he would obey, and he could stand on his hind feet in a
manner that was quite genteel, and he was greatly admired by the three
guests of his master, who watched his performances. When replaced in the
cage, he walked round and round it, and every time he came to a corner
he would bow, as all bears do when caged, but Le Glorieux remarked, "I
see that you have begun by teaching him to be polite, and politeness is
a great thing in man or beast. There are a good many things we could
learn from animals if we would only think about it, though we are so
well satisfied with ourselves that we think we are the only living
beings in the world who are worth considering. There are not many of us
who are as faithful in our friendship as an ordinary dog, and did you
ever watch a cat when she had her mind bent on getting a certain mouse?
Talk about patience and perseverance! Why, if a man had as much, he
could accomplish almost anything he set out to do!"

"I should like to take that little bear out and play with him," remarked
Antoine, as the innkeeper walked on ahead with Philibert.

"Just you take my advice, my young friend, and let that bear alone,"
said the jester, with emphasis. "The owner of the bear will teach him a
number of tricks, no doubt, but there is one that he will not be
obliged to learn, having been born with it, and that is the art of
hugging."

"Pooh!" said Antoine, "a little thing like that could not hurt me. I
have played with dogs a good deal larger than that bear."

"You take my advice and let him alone, or the emperor may be asking for
one of his favorite songs and find nobody at hand to sing it."

But even in this twentieth century a boy may be found once in a while
who will not take good advice, though experience always teaches the
wisdom of listening to older people, and Antoine allowed the good
counsel of Le Glorieux to glide from his mind as drops of water roll off
a duck's back, so, at the very first opportunity he could find to do so
unseen, he returned to the bear's cage.

Taking the rope which the bear's master had used to lead him about,
Antoine opened the door and tried to get the loop about the animal's
neck. Master Bruin, as if realizing that here was some one who had no
business to tamper with him, growled and gazed at the intruder with a
sardonic grin, which revealed all his sharp white teeth.

"You need not look so fierce, you woolly little thing," said the boy;
"you are no bigger than a ball of knitting yarn. I should be ashamed to
be afraid of you." Then he dragged the rope back and held the loop open
in his hand, calling, "Come, come," as the innkeeper had done. But
young Bruin crouched sulkily in the extreme end of his domicile, without
deigning to move.

Then the boy took a long stick and poked him with it, saying, "You
obstinate pig of a bear, we shall see whether you will come out or not.
You have made me lose all patience with you."

[Illustration: In the way of squeezing he was an adept]

The little bear now made up his mind to accept the invitation, and that,
too, very swiftly and suddenly, and before Antoine had time to throw the
loop over his head or even to think what to do next, the bear was upon
him. Bruin scorned to bite. His talent and taste did not lie in that
direction, but in the way of squeezing he was an adept. He hugged
Antoine as if the boy had been a lost brother now restored to his arms
after a lapse of many years. The boy thought of the dagger he wore in
his belt, but in order to reach the weapon it was necessary to have the
use of his arms, and both of those members were securely pinned to his
side by that inconsiderate little bear, who went on squeezing as if he
never meant to leave off. Antoine now was very much frightened. He was
at the mercy of his foe and he was afraid that the breath would be
pressed out of his body in a very short time.

He gave a shrill and ear-piercing yell which brought the innkeeper and
Le Glorieux in haste from the house and opened all the windows on that
side, where heads were thrust out to see what was the matter.

What the bear thought when he saw his master never will be known. What
he did was to release his hold on the boy as suddenly as if the latter
had been a hot potato, and scamper away as rapidly as his clumsy legs
could carry him. The two men ran in pursuit, but their efforts were
unavailing, for Master Bruin had deserted civilization forevermore.

"I warned you, did I not, to let that bear alone?" asked Le Glorieux
indignantly. "Did I not tell you that he was terrible when it came to
hugging? Why did you do just what I warned you not to do? People who
refuse to take good advice are always sorry for it."

"I only wanted to have a little sport with him," whimpered Antoine. "I
did not know that bears could hug so hard."

"You have found it out now," said the jester. "You have played our
friend here a fine trick. He was keeping the bear in order to sell him
at a good price, and you, in spite of everything I could say to you,
must let the animal escape. It would be no more than fair for you to pay
whatever he is worth to our good host and consider yourself lucky with
getting off without a cuffing in addition--a punishment you deserve!"

Antoine felt the justice of this remark and emptied out the contents of
his purse. But when he saw what a small sum it was, Le Glorieux relented
and said gently, "Put aside your money, my boy; there is not enough to
bother about. You are one of our party, the emperor's and mine, and I
will pay for the damage you have done." And he offered the innkeeper a
handful of silver. The latter, being upright as well as good-natured,
refused to take all the money offered him by the jester, merely taking
what he had expected to receive for the bear, showing that honesty is a
plant that will flourish anywhere, provided the ground be favorable.

[Illustration: The remains of what once had been a velvet glove]

The Lady Marguerite had an experience of her own with one of the pets
belonging to the inn. When she and her ladies returned from their walk
they were met at the door by the landlady, who was as pale and terrified
as if some calamity had overtaken her. In her left hand she extended
toward the princess a wet and torn object which resembled a piece of mop
rag that had seen long service, but which in reality was the remains of
what once had been a velvet glove embroidered with seed pearls. Under
her right arm she held with some difficulty, for he was wriggling with
all his might, a small puppy of the age when dogs believe that the chief
object of life is to chew things, and who looked at the princess with an
impudent little bark, just as if he had not been striving with all the
patience and perseverance of which he was capable to reduce a piece of
her property to a pulp.

"Oh, this hound, this hound, your Highness!" moaned the poor woman. "I
have tried my utmost to keep him out of the way of your Highness and
out of the bedchamber of your Highness! My boys and my husband, they
will have every kind of an animal about, but for me I hate them all--I
mean the animals, your Highness, and not my husband and my sons. And
this hound, your Highness, he has been determined to go into your
bedchamber at any cost, though I have driven him away from it again and
again. He seems to have had nothing else on his mind since your Highness
has honored this poor place with your presence. And when I went in your
room this morning to put it in order, he slipped in unseen by me and
remained under a chair, occupied in chewing this valuable glove just as
if it had been the object of his life to feed upon pearls."

"Never mind," said the Lady Marguerite soothingly. "They are too small
to injure him, even if he has swallowed any of them."

"Injure him! What should I care for him?" cried the woman. "It is the
loss of the glove belonging to your Highness that distresses me."

"Oh, do not trouble yourself about the glove; I have plenty more. But
what a pretty puppy, and a fine breed, too."

"Yes, your Highness, the breed is well enough," replied the woman sadly,
as if she wished that the puppy had striven more faithfully to live up
to the traditions of his race.

"I should like to have him," said the princess, "and you shall be paid
whatever you think that he is worth."

"Does your Highness want a dog that has just wrought such destruction?"
asked the good woman, in amazement.

"Of course, why not?" said Marguerite, taking the dog in her own arms.
"You did not know that it was my glove, did you, doggie?"

"Your Highness is perfectly welcome to him for nothing at all," was the
reply, but the princess insisted upon paying her a price for the small
animal, which the landlady considered sufficient to purchase all the
dogs in the Tyrol. And his new mistress named him Brutus, which was a
very grown-up and dignified name for so small and mischievous a member
of the dog family, and as he was very intelligent he became the most
favored of Marguerite's pets.

When they returned to the palace at Innsbruck Le Glorieux said, "Little
Cousin, we each have a souvenir of the trip; you have the puppy, your
father has some fine chamois horns, Philibert has a cut temple, Antoine
sore ribs, while I have a scratched face, owing to my passion for
climbing."



CHAPTER X

A MIDNIGHT ADVENTURE


The following year Maximilian found it necessary to take his troops to
Italy. The cities of that fair land, instead of being friendly, as they
are to-day, were constantly quarreling with each other, and Pisa, the
city of the leaning tower, implored the aid of the Emperor of Austria
against the pretentions of Florence, the city of flowers.

Le Glorieux, who declared that he had not seen a good rousing fight
since the siege of Beauvais, begged to accompany the emperor, and to be
allowed to do his full share of fighting, a permission which was granted
most willingly.

Philibert de Bresse, who had industriously continued his studies, and
who had gained the serious attention of the emperor for the first time
when he plucked the edelweiss, was now his Majesty's secretary, and also
was to accompany him to Italy. But Antoine, at the bidding of the
princess, remained in Vienna, where the court was staying at the time
and where, under the tuition of a musical monk, he was accomplishing
wonders in the realm of melody.

Philibert was now eighteen and had attained his full growth. He wished
that he was to fight instead of to write, that he could be the soldier
in armor and clanking spurs instead of the smooth-haired secretary, for
he was young and longed for exciting adventure. But it was worth
something to be in the confidence of the emperor, and to travel in his
present capacity was better than to remain quietly at court.

They were camped near Pistoja, an ancient city at the foot of the
Apennines, the headquarters of the emperor being a half-ruined marble
palace. Pistoja is to this day rich in ancient sculptures of the
thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, and at that time there was an
equestrian statue which stood outside the gates of the old palace, about
which clung a strange superstition, which was that occasionally, and
when it suited his fancy, the statue had a way of dismounting and
wandering about, possibly to rest himself, for several centuries of the
same position must prove fatiguing. It was not an especially fine piece
of statuary and had not been done by a famous sculptor. In fact, the
original of the statue had had it made in order to perpetuate his own
memory, but he had lived so long ago that nobody remembered just what he
had done, which perhaps were not such wonderful feats after all, for the
greatest people are the most modest. It represented a man on a big horse
with a long mantle spread well out over the tail of his steed, and it
went by the name of _Il Capitano_, the captain, no one knowing or caring
just what captain it was. And this captain had thrust himself upon the
notice of the emperor's soldiers camped in his neighborhood, as you
shall presently see.

Coming into the grounds after having taken a message from the emperor to
one of the officers, Philibert paused to speak with one of his Majesty's
guards. The subject of their conversation was the expected battles of
the coming campaign, and the guard said, "I am not afraid of any living
man, but I am afraid of the one they call _Il Capitano_."

"You mean the statue on horseback over there?" asked Philibert.

"I do, sir."

"Why should you fear a marble man?" asked the secretary, smiling.

The guard lowered his voice. "Because, sir, he gets off his horse and
walks about at night."

Philibert laughed. "A soldier should not listen to such old wives'
tales," said he.

"It is not an old wives' tale, sir," said the man stoutly; "Hans and
Ottocar and others who are as brave as the emperor himself, saw _Il
Capitano_, and were frightened."

"I went past him a few moments ago and I was not frightened," laughed
Philibert.

"But they saw him walking about in the moonlight, sir."

"They were dreaming, or they had been drinking too much Italian wine,"
said young De Bresse as he walked away.

That afternoon the emperor said to his secretary, "De Bresse, I am going
to send you to Venice with a message for the doge."

Philibert's heart beat high with exultation, for he knew that this was a
mission of trust, and that he possessed the emperor's confidence, else
his Majesty would have selected another messenger. The Venetians had
promised their aid to Maximilian and the Pisans, but so far they had
failed to keep their word. The message was not to be written, lest in
case of accident to the bearer it should fall into the wrong hands. The
emperor repeated it to his secretary word for word, and gave the latter
his seal ring to show that the message was authentic.

Repeating the words of his royal master over and over again in his mind
and trying to remember his caution regarding the trip and the best route
to take, Philibert hastily prepared for the journey, and mounting one of
the best horses available he rode away shortly before nightfall.

He was very happy; he was young, he had the confidence of the emperor,
and he was starting out on a trip in which there was considerable risk,
a fact which with him added greatly to the charm of the enterprise.

It seems sometimes as if our memory takes a malicious delight in playing
tricks with us. It will go to sleep at the very time that it ought to be
busiest and then it will wake and mock us. What do you suppose that
Philibert's memory said to him, when, after a two hours' ride, he
stopped at a stream to allow his horse to refresh itself with a drink of
water? It was this, "_You have forgotten the emperor's ring! You left it
on the foot of your couch when you were dressing!_"

This was the ghastly truth. In his excitement, delight, and haste, the
secretary had placed the ring on his couch, intending to tie it to a
cord and hang it around his neck inside of his clothes for the sake of
safety, and it was still there! To accomplish the purpose for which he
was sent, the ring was absolutely necessary, or his royal master would
not have given it to him. There was nothing to be done but to return and
find it. It would be very difficult to go to his room without the fact
of his presence being reported to his Majesty, who, also, had sharp ears
and knew all that was going on around him. And what should he say if he
were discovered? Simply that he had forgotten the ring and had come back
for it. Yes, that was simple enough, but to the proud and sensitive
youth the consequences would be terrible, for he knew that the emperor
upon learning the truth would lose all confidence in his sagacity and
would send another messenger. "And small wonder, too, since his first
one appears to be such a blundering idiot," he thought, with burning
cheeks.

Well, he would go back for the ring and if he should be discovered by
the emperor there would be nothing to do but to return to his own
country in disgrace. So Philibert turned his horse's head in the
direction of Pistoja.

It was the hour of midnight when Philibert approached the camp from
which he had set forth so joyously that afternoon, a week ago it seemed
to him now. For the last few miles he had been tormented by a fear that
he could not overcome, a surmise that seemed to be more and more
probable as he drew nearer and nearer to his destination. Le Glorieux
had a habit of entering the secretary's room, as was the custom of
jesters, at whatever hour it pleased him, and if he went there after
Philibert left, he would certainly discover the ring, for his sharp eyes
saw everything. And he would take the jewel straight to his master; the
youth seemed to hear him saying, "Cousin Max, here is your ring that the
careless boy left on his bed." Perhaps even now Maximilian had a store
of wrath laid up for him!

[Illustration: A tall form was walking before him]

And now how best to pass the sentinels was a serious problem. Of course
knowing his identity, they would let him pass without a question, but
how to bribe them to keep his return a secret? He had secured his horse
in a clump of trees and was about to approach the first sentinel when he
saw an object which for the moment almost stopped the beating of his
heart. Plainly distinguishable in the bright moonlight a tall form was
walking before him draped in a long mantle. It was the statue, _Il
Capitano_, which so frightened him, and Philibert was by no means a
coward. Even to the bravest, the sight of a marble statue walking about
when it ought to be sitting quietly astride its horse would cause more
or less trepidation, for the sight is an unusual one, to say the least.

But glancing backward with the expectation of seeing the horse standing
riderless, Philibert discovered that the same old _Capitano_ was still
in his saddle, holding his sword stiffly before him, with his long
mantle still floating over the tail of his steed, as it had done for
nobody knew exactly how many centuries.

Then this _Capitano_ was a fraud, a base imitation! Drawing his sword
Philibert strode forward and with a quick turn confronted the bold
masquerader.

"Another step," said the secretary, "and I shall run you through. If you
think to deceive me by this foolery, you are very much mistaken. You are
one of the soldiers dressed up for the purpose of stealing from your
comrades."

The man sank to his knees and began to plead for mercy. "Oh, sir, please
do not betray me. I never have done such a thing before, indeed."

"Do not tell me that; you have been walking about in this guise night
after night."

"I mean, sir, that I never have done anything like this until since we
have been camped in this place."

"We will not discuss that matter now; I have no time to hear your
excuses. I need your disguise for purposes of my own. Give those rags to
me; promise to cease your evil practices and to keep my secret, and I
will keep yours."

The rascal made the necessary promises, very thankful to get off so
easily, and to extricate himself from what at first promised to be a
position of great danger. Hastily doffing the long mantle and the white
linen which bound his head in imitation of marble hair, he helped to
array the young secretary in the disguise; then holding his sword before
him in imitation of _Il Capitano_, Philibert marched boldly toward the
emperor's quarters.

The sentinel at the gate made no opposition to his entrance, but
remained as if frozen to the spot; another crossed himself and fled, and
his way being now clear, so far as they were concerned, Philibert
cautiously mounted the steps leading to the upper hall, ever in
momentary fear of meeting one of the emperor's suite or perhaps even his
Majesty himself, as he was obliged to pass his bedchamber in trying to
reach his own. Luck favored him, however, and he reached his own room,
where he proceeded to search for the object which had caused him so much
anxiety.

The one window of the room was so thickly shaded with vines as to
exclude the moonlight, and even if there had been any artificial light
available, its use would have been a risk, so Philibert began to run
his hand over the couch, very slowly and carefully lest he should knock
the ring to the floor, where it would be almost impossible to find it.

He uttered a sigh of relief when his fingers touched a hard object,
which turned out to be what he sought, and slipping it on his finger,
where it proved to be a snug fit, he was about to depart, when he heard
the emperor's voice in the corridor. His disguise would not protect him
from Maximilian, who, even if he should believe this strange figure to
be _Il Capitano_ himself, would lose no time in running it through with
his sword, and the young secretary was not ready to die.

He waited; would the emperor never go? His voice was raised in anger
about something. Perhaps he had heard of the appearance of the supposed
statue and was seeking it. Concealing himself behind the half-open door,
Philibert listened. No, whatever it was it was not a question of _Il
Capitano_, and the listener realized that his successor was getting a
sound scolding from Maximilian, who had a temper of his own upon
occasion.

A paper was missing, the disappearance of which seemed greatly to have
irritated the emperor. His voice grew louder and louder as he described
it. Then he said, "Here, Le Glorieux, go and look for it in the
bedchamber of De Bresse. You will know it by its color; it is a long
blue paper, folded lengthwise, with writing across the end of it."

The listener knew quite well of what paper they were speaking; oh, if
he could only have put it into the emperor's mind to look for it in a
certain drawer in his own room, where, neatly labeled, the secretary had
placed it with a number of other documents! But here was the fool coming
straight toward his room with a torch. With a sudden plunge, Philibert
sprang toward the bed and crawled under it, dragging with him the
hangings, which were old and frail, as he did so.

"What a mess this room is in," grumbled the jester, as he stumbled over
the fallen hangings, coughing violently as the dust from them tickled
his throat. "Was he so crazy with joy over his trip that he must pull
his couch to pieces before he started?"

Then, as if suspecting that some one might be in the room who had no
right there, the jester searched carefully about, finally kneeling to
look under the bed. The emperor and his humiliated scribe had now closed
their door, and the amazed exclamation of the jester was not heard, as
he discovered a booted and spurred foot beneath Philibert's bed.

"And so, Mr. Thief, or Mr. Spy, whichever you are, I have caught you,
have I?" asked Le Glorieux coolly.

"Hush!" whispered Philibert.

"I do not in the least doubt that you want me to hush," returned the
fool, taking possession of the secretary's sword, which the latter held
unsheathed in his hand. "There are some positions in life in which
people like to have a great noise made over them, and there are others
in which they like to be quiet and retired. This appears to be one of
the latter. You evidently do not know how to use this toy since you give
it up so easily," went on Le Glorieux scornfully.

"Hush!" whispered his prisoner again. "Do not bawl so loud. It is I,
Philibert de Bresse."

"In the name of all the saints in the calendar!" exclaimed the fool as
young De Bresse crawled from his hiding-place. "Is this the way you
execute your commission? I was proud of you, boy; I had faith in you,
and now see what has come of it! Max gave you an opportunity to win his
confidence for life, and you wrap yourself up in that dirty old mantle
and sneak under the bed! I never so thoroughly realized that I am a fool
as I do at this moment, when I find how greatly I was mistaken in
Philibert de Bresse!"

"Do you suppose I am doing this of my own accord?" snapped the young
secretary, engaged in securing the band of white linen which was ready
to fall from his head.

"I do not see anybody forcing you to do it at the point of the sword,"
returned the jester dryly. "The De Bresses are a wild lot and have done
many strange things, according to their history, but I never heard of
one that was a coward."

Le Glorieux had no sooner finished the sentence than Philibert seized
him by the shoulders and gave him a shaking which, the fool afterward
declared, changed the relative position of some of his teeth. "Listen,
you idiot," hissed the young man, "I intend to go to Venice if seven
thousand demons stand in the road! I was well on my way when I found
that I had forgotten the emperor's ring, and I have returned for it in
the disguise of _Il Capitano_. Do you not see that I was obliged to come
in secret? Now let me go. The paper you will find in the drawer of his
Majesty's writing case. Leave me!"

The jester returned to his master, saying as he opened the door, "Cousin
Max, you are a sensible man about some things even if you are an
emperor, and I want to ask you where a valuable paper should be but in
your own writing case?"

Waiting until all was quiet outside, Philibert ventured forth once more,
and assuming the dignified stride of _Il Capitano_, he marched past the
sentinels, threw off his disguise, and mounting his horse, was once more
riding toward Venice, regretting the lost time, and censuring his own
thoughtlessness which had rendered his return necessary. It was long
after sunrise before he felt justified in taking a rest, stopping at a
wayside inn more for the sake of his horse than for his own comfort.
"Poor fellow," said he, stroking the tired steed, "you are unfortunate
in being obliged to suffer for the folly of your rider."

And now he slipped the ring from his finger and secured it on the
inside of the lining of his cap, believing that after all it would be
less likely to be found in that place of concealment than tied about his
neck.

[Illustration: He met a party of Florentine soldiers]

As soon as possible he resumed his journey, which he pursued without
incident of note until late that afternoon, when he met a party of
Florentine soldiers, who stopped him.

"An Austrian spy," said one of them.

"Do I look like an Austrian?" asked Philibert scornfully.

"Who are you, then?"

"A Savoyard student."

"What is a Savoyard student doing here?"

"A student may travel where he pleases, may he not? I can not see that I
am accountable to you for my acts."

"Where are you going?"

"To Padua."

"For what purpose?"

"My good sir," drawled Philibert, "for what purpose does a student go to
Padua save to attend its famous university, which has sheltered the
learned heads of Dante and Petrarch?"

"He looks like a student and he talks like one," said another man. "Let
him go."

Philibert was feeling greatly relieved when he caught the eye of a man
in the rear of the company. This was a soldier, who, in a slight
skirmish a short time before, had been taken prisoner by the
Austrians, and who had succeeded in effecting his escape. The young
secretary had seen him but once and that only for a few moments, but he
never forgot a face and recognized this one immediately. He hoped that
the memory of the soldier was less faithful than his own, but this did
not appear to be the case.

"Stay," said the man; "I think I can tell you something about this
youth. The Emperor of Austria has a secretary, a young Savoyard, of whom
I caught a glimpse when I was their prisoner, and if I am not very much
mistaken this is he."

The youth laughed contemptuously. "For a faithful secretary, I seem to
be quite a distance from my master," said he. "Look at me well, my good
man," he continued boldly, "and tell me on your honor if we ever have
met before."

The man began to waver. "Of course I had only a glimpse," he stammered.
"The secretary was walking with the emperor and I only saw them a
moment."

"Would you recognize the emperor if you should see him again?"

"Aye, that would I."

"Then it must have been he at whom you were staring instead of my
countryman, the secretary, and of whom you seem to have received a very
faint impression."

As if realizing the force of this argument, the man made no reply, and
another said, "It will do no harm to search him at any rate, for if it
should be the emperor's secretary, he may be bearing important
despatches."

Still putting a bold front on the affair, Philibert leaped to the
ground. "Search me, if you like," said he, "and get it over as soon as
possible, for I must be on my way." The soldiers searched thoroughly,
but of course found no papers, and the youth appreciated the wisdom of
the emperor in sending a verbal message to the doge. His cap they merely
glanced into and restored to him, so the precious ring was safe. He
remounted his horse, even before he received permission to do so, and
the soldier who had first spoken to him said sneeringly, "Go, gentle
youth, you are too girlish to do any harm."

Considering the danger he was in, the secretary should have ridden away
without another word, but this contemptuous remark kindled his
indignation to such a heat that he forgot all prudence, and crying, "How
do you like this from a 'girlish' hand?" he struck the speaker full
across the face with the flat of his sword, leaving a mark that would be
noticeable for some time to come, and putting spurs to his horse, he
dashed past the other men and galloped away. Some of the men roared with
laughter, but he who had been struck rushed for his horse, mounted it
and endeavored to give chase, but Philibert had the advantage of an
earlier start and a swifter horse, and though a shot came flying after
him, it cut the limb of a tree above his head and he escaped unharmed.

The journey to Venice at this time involved days of wearisome riding,
but he met with no further adventure and in due course of time arrived
there in safety. The Queen of the Adriatic seemed like a fairy city when
the young Savoyard first beheld it. Its palaces of beauteous tints, its
waters like molten gold in the rays of the setting sun, its gondolas
with their picturesque rowers, its fair women leaning against their
silken cushions as they glided on the Grand Canal, and with it all the
tinkling of lutes and voices of sweetest melody floating on the soft
breeze, invested the scene with a charm which was like that of a
beautiful dream from which he feared to awaken.

The doge's palace, with its white and red marble walls, its cloisters
and great balconied windows, was reached at last, and Philibert's
request, accompanied by the ring, to see the doge himself, admitted him
to the presence of that haughty individual, who carefully listened to
the message, not one word of which the secretary had forgotten, and
gravely replied that the answer would be given later, as the matter was
one that required serious reflection and consultation with his advisers,
who never decided in haste.

So Philibert had an opportunity of becoming acquainted with this
attractive city, and he stepped into his gondola once more, anxious to
become one of the merry throng and to make the most of his spare time.

Many glances of curiosity and interest were cast by the Venetian ladies
at the handsome young stranger, who, in his own mind, was comparing
them, to their great disadvantage, to a certain princess far off in the
imperial palace of Vienna.

When the reply of the doge was handed to him on the following morning,
Philibert lost no time, but departed at once, as became a trusted
messenger, though it was with regret that he turned his back upon Venice
and its many attractions. Nothing of moment occurred on the return
journey, and although the emperor was not pleased with the answer he
received, for the Venetians flatly refused their aid, still the reply
prevented a certain move he had planned, and was most timely.

Maximilian complimented his young secretary upon the fidelity and care
with which he had accomplished his errand. Praise from such a source was
most gratifying to its recipient, although he felt that it was not
altogether deserved. He had been careless at the outset, and in his code
of honor it was almost as bad to act as to tell a lie. He had regretted
the falsehoods he had been obliged to tell the Florentine soldiers, but
in that case not only his own life, but a matter of vital importance to
a nation was at stake. Now, however, he resolved not to accept in
silence compliments that were not his due.

"I was not altogether faithful, your Majesty," said he. "I was careless
at first; I went away and forgot the ring and lost at least five hours'
time in returning for it."

"How did it happen that I knew nothing of your return?" asked the
emperor, frowning.

"None knew of it, your Majesty, excepting Le Glorieux, who would not
betray me even to you, and one poor soldier who was not sufficiently
familiar with my face to recognize me."

"I seem to be blessed with capable sentinels," observed Maximilian
sarcastically.

"Your sentinels are not afraid of flesh and blood, your Majesty; they
fear only the supernatural." Then the secretary told the whole story of
his masquerade as _Il Capitano_, not without many misgivings as to the
result of the revelation.

The emperor scowled at first, then he began to laugh, and the more he
thought about it the louder he laughed, for after all the messenger had
done what he was sent to do, and that better than most could have done
in his place, so why not enjoy the humorous side of it, now that it was
all over and done with? And as hearty laughter and punishment never go
hand in hand, Philibert felt that he was forgiven.

"But I find it hard to forgive you," he afterward said to Le Glorieux,
"for taking it for granted that I was a coward before giving me an
opportunity to explain."

"When a man who has been sent on a dangerous journey is found some time
after he is supposed to have started, snugly hidden under his own bed,
it looks, to say the least, somewhat suspicious," replied the fool. "How
was I to know that you had dressed up and were capering about in a
masquerade?"

The young man smiled. "Perhaps you had reason to believe as you did, for
appearances were against me," said he. Then after a thoughtful pause he
said, "My good Le Glorieux, that was not the first time you had seen me
masquerading. Do you remember Saint Monica and the accusation of
Cimburga?"

"Do I remember it? Does a man ever forget a thing like that?" asked the
jester.

"Le Glorieux, did it never occur to you that _I_ was Saint Monica on
that occasion?"

"You! Are you out of your mind, my lad?"

"My friend," said Philibert, "I did not think that the saint would move,
and I was anxious to have the girl's innocence proven."

"Why should you have been anxious about the girl?" asked the fool.

"Because I had heard a prayer that I wanted answered. I saw the Lady
Marguerite kneeling in the chapel before the altar, and in her clear,
sweet voice she was praying for Cimburga, who she believed was innocent.
I, too, believed in her innocence, for I had learned something about my
cousin's nervous ways, and had made up my mind that she had lost the
jewel in some other manner. I slipped some gray, colorless drapery from
the housekeeper's room, and removing the statue from the pedestal, which
was not difficult to do, I arrayed myself and played the part. There
was, I imagine, a good deal of difference between my appearance and that
of the saint, but every one was too agitated to notice it. And as the
girl was really clear of all blame in the matter, who knows but that the
saint helped her in another way, and, knowing that her wooden image
could not move, put it into my head to do as I did?"

"And I called you a carp!" exclaimed the jester.



CHAPTER XI

THE LADY MARGUERITE IS VERY BRAVE


The campaign in Italy at this time proved to be a failure, and the
emperor returned with his troops to Austria.

"I have always thought I should like to ride through the streets with a
laurel wreath on my brow and hear the people screeching with delight at
the very sight of me," said Le Glorieux, "but I always happen to be on
the other side when a victory is won."

Being sent to attend to some matters for his royal master, Philibert was
detained for a week in the Tyrol, and when he arrived at the palace in
Vienna the first person he met was one of his cousin's women, who told
him that her mistress wished to speak to him at once.

The Lady Clotilde had changed not at all during her stay in Austria, and
she received her young kinsman with a relaxation of her usual dignity
that surprised him. "My dear Philibert," she said, kissing him upon both
cheeks, "I congratulate you upon your improved prospects."

"My improved prospects? Has the emperor----"

"Oh, no, the emperor has nothing to do with what I am speaking of. Of
course, death is a terrible thing, but people must die, and even if we
wish they could be spared, it makes no difference."

"My dear cousin," said Philibert patiently, "will you not tell me who is
dead and why I should be congratulated?"

"Who should it be, you thoughtless boy, but the Duke of Savoy, and your
father was the heir to the title. You are the future Duke of Savoy! You
are a personage of importance!" and she kissed him again. "Think of what
a fine marriage you may now make!"

Philibert blushed at her words, but his eyes shone with a new light. "I
had not heard of our new dignity," he said. "I shall doubtless find a
letter when I go to my room."

"And, my dear boy, I have news of my own to tell you," went on the Lady
Clotilde, simpering. "I suppose I should have waited until your return,
and I should have notified my other relatives, but I always was so
romantic. Philibert, I have married again."

"_What!_" cried the young man, in amazement.

"I do not see why you are so surprised," she returned coldly. "You could
not seem more astonished if you had seen a ghost. Why should I not marry
if I feel so inclined?"

"Why not, indeed? I beg your pardon, Cousin. Who is the happy man?"

"It is the Spanish attaché, Don Geronimo Bartolomeo Zurriago y
Escafusa," she returned, saying the long name with a good deal of pride.
"He owns an estate in his own country to which he would have returned
long ago if--well, if there had not been attractions at the court of
Austria."

"I hope you will be very happy, Cousin," said Philibert, excusing
himself as soon as it was possible, for he wanted to be alone and think
of all that his new dignity might bring to him.

Leaving the Lady Clotilde's apartment, he met Le Glorieux, who was
bubbling over with news. "So many things have happened, even in the week
since we returned," said the jester, "that it seems to me it will take a
week to repeat them. In the first place, Clotilde is married."

"So she has just informed me."

"When I heard it," went on the jester, "I was so surprised that it
almost made me ill. But the people who marry, and especially the other
people they select to marry, is a mystery I never could solve."

"The Lady Marguerite is well, I hope?" asked Philibert.

"Yes, and happy and fair as a flower, and her stepmother is still
high-tempered and fond of shellfish. But that is not news. First I will
begin with Antoine. He has distinguished himself greatly in the way of
singing, and the emperor has made him one of his own musicians. And the
rascal, who has grown wonderfully during the last few months, is almost
as tall as I am, and he is very proud of his new uniform. And next,
great doings have been going on in our negotiations with Spain! As I
remarked to you once before, if you will remember, our friend Manuel
works quietly, but he works hard."

"What do you mean?" asked the secretary, turning pale. "You do not mean
that she is going to Spain?"

"If you will not use names, of course I can not be expected to know
about whom you are talking," replied the fool. "But a certain 'she' is
coming from Spain. The Princess Juana is coming with a great fleet to be
the daughter-in-law of Maximilian and the wife of the Archduke Philip."

"You do not mean to tell me that all this has been planned in a week?"
asked Philibert, with a sigh of relief.

"No, it has been going on for some time, but we have only known about it
within the last week. You see, even his secretary does not see all the
letters Max receives and sends away. But there is still more to tell
you."

"What, more?" laughed his listener.

"Yes, and most important of all. Cunegunda has been crying her eyes
almost out."

"Do you call that news?"

"No, I do not know that I can call that part of it news. The very first
thing that woman did when she saw me was to burst into tears," went on
the jester in an injured tone. "I appeal to you, I appeal to any man, if
there is anything mournful in my appearance? If I went about clothed in
crape I could not have a sadder effect upon her than I do in my jester's
suit. She said she was crying because she was afraid something was going
to happen, and the next day when I saw her she cried because it had
happened. You see she had lost no time, but had begun to weep in good
season."

"I wonder if you have heard my news,--that my father has succeeded to
the dukedom of Savoy?" asked the other as the jester paused.

"Yes, I have heard it, my boy, and I congratulate you with all my
heart," said the fool hastily. "It is a fine inheritance, and one day
you will be Philibert the Second, Duke of Savoy. Accept my
felicitations."

"Thank you. And you see, Le Glorieux, there is quite a difference
between the heir of the Count de Bresse and the heir of the duke of a
wealthy province, and I feel that I can hope--well, I can hope for
almost anything."

"Hope," said the jester gravely, "is one of the finest things in this
world, and I wish we all had more of it. But you have not asked me what
made Cunegunda weep."

"No," said Philibert absently, as one whose mind is traveling far
afield; "what did make Cunegunda weep?"

"Because," replied the jester, "she has the narrowest mind of any woman
living."

"And she is only beginning to find it out?" asked the other, laughing.

"Oh, she has not found it out, and never will, though I have known it
from the beginning of our acquaintance. Now I ask you, why should not
Spain be a good country to live in? There are flowers and palaces and
oranges and bull-fights and everything to make a man or woman
comfortable, and there are plenty of new friends, I dare say, if one
cares to make them; still that woman is drowned in tears because she
must go there, as if it were purgatory."

"Why must she go to Spain if she does not care to do so?" asked
Philibert.

"Because she will not leave her young mistress," replied the fool
deliberately.

"You do not mean----"

"Yes, I do mean just that. As I have said before, Manuel has worked
hard, and the same fleet that brings the Spanish infanta to our shores
will take away our own little princess to be the bride of the young
Prince of the Asturias, only son of Ferdinand and Isabella, and heir to
the kingdoms of Castile, and Leon, and Aragon, and I can not tell how
many other countries. And I am going with her, and so is the weeping
Cunegunda, and a large suite of ladies and gentlemen." And thus
chattering, and without casting another glance at Philibert de Bresse,
heir to the dukedom of Savoy, the jester left the room.

The Lady Marguerite, who had grown still more fair to look upon during
his absence, received Philibert with a cordial greeting, and with a word
of congratulation upon his new dignity, as future ruler of Savoy.

He replied, "You are very kind, your Highness, but in a world full of
sorrow and disappointment, rank and wealth are of little account."

"You speak as mournfully as one who is about to become a monk," she
returned in a tone of surprise.

"Such a step on my part is not improbable, your Highness," was the
reply.

Some days later, the princess said to Le Glorieux, "Philibert de Bresse
has not been the same since his return from Italy. What spell was cast
over him in that country?"

"Almost any question can be solved," said the jester, with a wise look,
"if one will sit down and think it out quietly. I have wondered for a
long time why the climate of Austria has agreed so well with Clotilde,
and I find that it was all owing to Don Geronimo Bartolomeo Zurriago y
Escafusa. Is it not wonderful how well I recollect that name? And the
beauty of it is that once learned I shall never forget it."

"What has all that to do with Philibert de Bresse?" asked the princess.

"That has nothing to do with him, of course; I am simply leading up to
him. This is what I have figured out for Philibert. Of course he knows
that he must marry some time; few men can escape matrimony. When he was
plain future Count de Bresse he had a wider selection of ladies with
whom he might wed. Now that he is the future Duke of Savoy, there is a
smaller number from whom he may choose; for, though I never could see
the justice of it, there always is more milk than there is cream."

"He is very young to be thinking of such things," said Marguerite
coldly.

"When you come to age, he is no younger than your noble brother, who is
to wed the Princess Juana; or the young heir of Spain, who is to wed a
certain princess of my acquaintance, a lady not quite sixteen. Let us
suppose that Philibert had his mind fixed upon some maiden, who was in
his own rank when he was simply to be a count, then, suddenly, he pops
up into the circle of dukes, where he must look down upon her. It is
enough to make any man gloomy."

"Sometimes you talk in a very sensible manner, Le Glorieux," said the
Lady Marguerite, frowning, "but to-day you speak nothing but nonsense."
And she walked away with her head held high as was always the case when
she was out of temper.

Looking after her slender figure as it disappeared through an archway,
the jester muttered to himself, "Not to contradict a princess of the
blood royal, I want to say that I never was more sensible than I am at
this very moment."

       *       *       *       *       *

One summer day a gallant armada set sail for the coast of Flanders. It
consisted of one hundred and thirty fine vessels, and it was manned by
hundreds of sailors; it carried the chivalry of Spain, and it was
commanded by the Admiral of Castile. Never had so beautiful a fleet
sailed from the Spanish coast, for it brought to Philip of Flanders, the
son of Maximilian, his bride, the Infanta Juana.

The people were eager to see the bride of their prince, but if they had
expected a beauty, they were disappointed. Juana was pale and delicate
in appearance, and, as a French writer of the time expresses it, "a
somber fire seemed to burn in her eyes."

"We shall send Spain a far handsomer bride than she sent to us," said Le
Glorieux exultantly.

The wedding of Philip and Juana took place in Lille with great pomp and
ceremony, and the fleet waited, for it was to take another royal bride
on its return trip! But many of the vessels needed repairs after their
stormy voyage, and it was some time before they were ready to sail.

Philibert de Bresse, in the meantime, had received news of the death of
his father; and, taking leave of his friends at court, he returned to
his own country, of which he was now the ruler.

A little princess saying farewell to her parents to go to a strange land
where she must remain as long as she lives, is one of the pathetic sides
of history; but Marguerite, although very sad at the thought of leaving
her adored father, endeavored to be resigned and even cheerful. Before
the day of her departure there came a messenger from Savoy with a little
packet for the princess. It contained a locket in which was set in
diamonds and emeralds an edelweiss, accompanied by the following words,
"The name of this flower signifies 'noble purity,' a fitting gift for
this fair daughter of the Hapsburgs."

After all Marguerite was little more than a child, and she could not but
look forward with pleasure to the coming voyage, since if one must leave
one's native land, it is good to sail away with a splendid fleet. But
Cunegunda was inclined to take a gloomy view of the coming journey.
"When you travel by land," said she, "you may be killed, of course, but
even in that case, you are there in plain view and can be seen; but if
you are drowned, why, where are you?"

"In the bottom of the sea, where you are every bit as comfortable as you
would be on land, if you were dead," said Le Glorieux.

"It is a very dangerous trip, and I weep whenever I think of it," said
the good woman.

"You weep when you do not think of it, so what difference does it make?"
asked the jester. Brutus, who now was full grown and a hound of
extraordinary intelligence, looked at Le Glorieux and wagged his tail,
as if fully approving of this sentiment. "It is true, is it not, my
friend Brutus, that Cunegunda never misses a chance to cry?" asked the
fool, patting the dog's head.

"I know something that will make you cry," said Cunegunda maliciously.

"You could not make me cry, my good lady," replied he. "Think of all for
which I have to be thankful: I am still young, I am handsome, I am going
to Spain, the land of bull-fights, flowers, and oranges. My little
princess is going to marry one of the finest princes of his time, and we
shall all be happy, even you, for wherever you are you can always find
something to cry about; and weeping is your favorite occupation."

"The Lady Clotilde is going to Spain with us," said Cunegunda slyly.

"You do not mean it!" exclaimed the jester, considerably dismayed.

"But I do mean it. You might have known that her husband would some time
take her to his native country."

"Yes, but not at this time," cried the fool excitedly. "Why must she go
on this particular voyage? Why is it always convenient for Clotilde to
start out just as I am going? She will miss some article that she owns,
and every ship will have to be searched for it. Is it not strange the
way things come about in this world?" he continued complainingly. "I
love that little rascal of an Antoine, and he is to remain here. I am
fond of Pandora and Pittacus, though they always treat me with cold
indifference, and they must be left behind; but Clotilde, whom I would
gladly spare, goes with me!"

With this double marriage Austria was making a precious gift to
Spain--she was giving the great possessions of the Hapsburgs, but the
fairest gift of all was the young princess, whose departure drew out a
great concourse of people. With flags flying and pennons waving, the
ships were waiting, the largest and the handsomest for the Lady
Marguerite and her suite. The picture of the princess that remained in
the memory of those who saw her on that day was a slight, graceful
figure standing where the sunlight shone full on her sweet young face,
and with one hand resting on the head of her hound.

Then the great fleet fluttered away like a flight of huge butterflies,
skimming southward.

"I do not see why I should feel so melancholy," said Le Glorieux, going
inside and sitting with his head on his hands and his elbows on his
knees. "Austria was not my native country; I was born in old Burgundy,
and it is too late to be sniveling at parting from Burgundy. It is
because I have parted with that little villain of an Antoine that I am
like this. When I saw the little wretch smiling at me from the shore,
and waving his hand and blinking his eyes, as if he were trying to keep
back the tears, what must this tough old heart of mine do but climb
right into my throat and try to choke me to death. A heart that has
served me well for all these years to play me a trick like that!"

"Will you please rise?" said a cold metallic voice at his elbow.
Glancing up Le Glorieux beheld Don Geronimo, the husband of the Lady
Clotilde. The jester's gaze traveled up the tall, thin form of the
Spaniard until it reached his face, which was dark and reminded the fool
of tanned leather.

"There being no particular reason why I should rise, I shall not rise
until it pleases me to do so," said he.

"Permit my servant to take those cushions which are beneath you," said
Don Geronimo icily. "You are sitting on a whole pile of them. They are
wanted for my wife, the Doña Clotilde, who is overcome."

"I will give anything to any lady at any time," said the fool, rising,
"but I should like to know what has overcome your lady wife so soon."

"Parting from her friends," replied the Spaniard, following his man, who
was loaded down with cushions.

"She did not care as much for the whole of Austria and Flanders as I
cared for that miserable little Antoine," grumbled the fool; "yet she
must be packed away in cushions that are jerked from under my very body
to make her comfortable. And our princess is so bravely bearing the
parting from her father, and is giving no trouble whatever! Any one
would think it is Clotilde who is being sent away in such state by
Austria."

The first day out it seemed as if the voyage was to be a calm and safe
one. When the novelty of gazing at the blue waters had worn off, the
princess and her ladies took their embroidery frames and passed their
time with their needles, laughing and chattering together. As soon as
she had ceased to be overcome, the Lady Clotilde joined them. When the
conversation turned to the perils of the ocean, she declared that she,
for one, did not fear them, being a true representative of a family that
knew no fear. She related a number of incidents when, according to her
story, she had stood within the very jaws of death without the slightest
thrill of fear.

Le Glorieux, who was sitting at the feet of his young mistress playing
with the silk-and-gold threads of her embroidery, remarked, "That is
because you spend so much of your time in pious reading, Cousin
Clotilde. Did you bring with you the silver book about the saints?"

The princess tried to frown at him, but he saw the twinkle of a smile
under her long, dark lashes.

But these were the last peaceful hours they spent for many days. In the
darkness of the night the storm demon came forth, shrieking in the
wind, and beating the waves into fury, holding the ships a trembling
instant on the crest of the wave, then dashing them into the trough of
the sea, sending some of them down to destruction.

Half dressed, the passengers of the Lady Marguerite's ship rushed out
into the salon. They forgot that they were the great ones of the earth
and that to them had been given the honor of escorting a princess to her
bridegroom. They knelt on the floor, and moaned, and told their beads,
just as so many peasants might have done.

The Lady Marguerite was calm, though very pale; close beside her stood
Le Glorieux, self-possessed, but no longer jesting. "If the good God is
ready to take me now, I could not have a happier death than to go down
with my little princess," said he.

Cunegunda held her lady's hand, which, forgetting her own danger, she
stroked, with words of endearment, while Brutus crept to her feet, and
putting his head on her lap, looked into the face of his mistress as if
to say that he, too, was ready to die with her.

The storm did not abate with the approach of day, nor did it cease the
next day, nor for many days, and it seemed as if their ship must be rent
to pieces by the combined forces of wind and wave.

Once Le Glorieux seized Cunegunda by the shoulders and bawled into her
ears, "You are always crying; cry now, when there is some reason for
it." But strange to say, Cunegunda shed no tears, though the Lady
Clotilde shrieked and wept continuously, seeming to forget all the
traditions of her family.

When learning that a number of the vessels had been lost, and that none
could tell at what moment her own ship would go down, Marguerite put
certain jewels on her fingers, neck, and arms that had long been in the
possession of the house of Hapsburg. "The body of a princess is not
different from that of a peasant," she said to her faithful attendants,
"and it may be that the fury of the storm will spare me some of these
jewels; so that if I am washed ashore I shall be identified." Then she
smiled to keep up the courage of the others and said, "It seems that
with all the planning of nations I am never to be a wife."

Then taking a slip of paper she wrote upon it two lines, which she
wrapped in a piece of oiled silk and fastened to her bracelet. These
lines, written in French, may be translated as follows, "Here lies
Marguerite, a noble maiden, who, though given two husbands, died a
maid."

But even a storm at sea can not last for ever, and the stout ship, being
mercifully spared, arrived at last with the remainder of the fleet in
safety at the port of Santander.



CHAPTER XII

AN AUSTRIAN PRINCESS AT THE SPANISH COURT


Up from the south came the young Prince of the Asturias to meet his
Austrian bride. His greeting was in accordance with the strictest rules
of Spanish etiquette, but all were favorably impressed by his gracious
affability and by the gentle dignity of his manner.

Under the eye of his thoughtful mother, this prince had been carefully
educated to be the ruler of his country. As a child he was attended by
pages of his own age, and they formed mimic councils and played at being
grown-up rulers. He had been taught fencing by a celebrated swordsman,
and at night his sword always hung at the head of his bed. When only
twelve years of age he had been knighted on the battlefield by King
Ferdinand, his father. He could paint and draw, and he could play on
several different instruments, for Queen Isabella was determined that
her son should be one of the most accomplished princes of his time.

The prince was accompanied by his royal father, and the Lady Marguerite
and her suite were escorted in great state to the old city of Burgos.
Here they were met by the queen and the Spanish court.

The steed ridden by Queen Isabella was covered with crimson cloth richly
embroidered with gold. Her saddle was like a chair of state, and she
seemed as if seated on a moving throne. She was still a handsome woman,
with gold-tinted hair and soft, earnest eyes. Following her, and mounted
on richly-caparisoned mules, were scores of court ladies who seemed to
have competed with each other in the magnificence of their costumes.
With other high dignitaries of the church came the queen's confessor,
Ximenes, Archbishop of Toledo. This stern man was clothed in all the
splendor of his office, but underneath these elegant robes, we are told,
was haircloth which scraped his flesh, already bruised by the frequent
beatings which he gave himself with a whip.

History tells us that Queen Isabella had taken great pains to arrange
the meeting of the royal family with the Austrian princess, and that she
had planned just who was to kiss and who was to embrace the young
stranger, but however this may be, the ceremony passed off in a
satisfactory manner, and the Lady Marguerite was quite charmed with her
new mother.

[Illustration: Never had preparations so grand been made]

Never had preparations so grand been made for royal nuptials as were
arranged for the wedding of the Prince of the Asturias with the Lady
Marguerite of Hapsburg. There were present grandees representing the
chivalry of Spain, men who had distinguished themselves on the
battlefield and in the tournament; there were ambassadors from the
courts of all the civilized world; there were dignitaries from all the
cities of Spain, there were great ladies in glittering apparel, and the
king and queen in their mantles of state; but most interesting of all
was the young prince, whom his people already loved, and his fair young
bride.

Dressed in his gayest suit, Le Glorieux stood where he could obtain the
best view of his young mistress. At the most interesting moment, just as
the ceremony was about to begin, there was a buzz of excitement around
him, and Don Geronimo whispered in his ear, "Will you stand aside? I am
looking for the pomander-box of Doña Clotilde, which has dropped to the
floor." But the fool folded his arms and pretended not to hear.

And then followed days of fêtes and tourneys and tilts. The Spanish
people enjoyed these amusements in a dignified and even a serious
manner, and when the princess and her suite laughed and clapped their
hands at some particularly clever feat, the courtiers of Ferdinand and
Isabella were shocked at such levity.

When the public rejoicings were over the prince and princess went to
their palace at Salamanca, a city of beautiful creamy stone, built on
three hills and in a horse-shoe shape, which, with its stately college
of seventeen thousand students, gave many fêtes and outdid itself in
bull-fights to celebrate the coming of the youthful pair.

It is said that one of the first acts of Prince Juan was to engage
professors and performers of music, both instrumental and vocal, who,
with fiddles, organs, cymbals, hautboys, and other instruments, played
the lively airs of Spain. He also had a large military band, and one
afternoon when Le Glorieux was lounging in the window listening to its
music, the princess entered the room. She wore a splendid gown with a
very long train, and she looked quite tall and stately. It was the first
time the jester had seen her alone since their arrival in this country,
and he sprang to his feet, exclaiming, "Little Cousin----" just as he
had addressed her since the beginning of their acquaintance. But the
Princess of the Asturias held her head higher and eyed him coldly,
without making a reply.

Very much chagrined at this treatment, for she ever had been most
gracious in her manner toward him, the fool turned and was about to
leave the room without another word, when he was startled by a merry
laugh.

"Did I do it well?" she asked gayly.

"You did it too well! I was already homesick, and if you had turned to
ice like the people of this country, I should have been broken-hearted.
Never was there a place so stiff and cold as this Spanish court. The
king is shorter than the queen and is not very big to look at when you
come to stature, but I would no more think of jesting with him, as I
always did with Max, than I would think of sitting down to have a little
fun with my grandmother's tomb. And I am not a man who is easily
chilled, either!"

"I am told," said the princess, "that I am too careless and gay, and
that I must be like the ladies of Spain. And although I am allowed to
retain my own people about me, they must all conduct themselves in a
grave and ceremonious manner."

"Thank fortune that I am a fool," said Le Glorieux, "for who ever heard
of a jester who was grave and ceremonious? But I shall be sad and
mournful, my Princess, if you freeze up as you did just now, and
continue to stay frozen."

"I must try to please my husband's people," replied Marguerite
seriously. "If I am one day to be Queen of Spain I must learn to be like
a Spanish woman. And I hope that my own people will not offend by
showing too much levity and frivolity."

"One of your suite has become a thorough Spaniard," said Le Glorieux,
"and that is Brutus. He follows the prince everywhere."

"Yes," replied Marguerite, "the prince loves him and Brutus is fond of
his new master. In this he shows good judgment, for the prince is very,
very good."

The princess sighed as she spoke and gazed dreamily out of the window.
"I wonder if she, too, is homesick," thought the jester. "Well, as for
me, I have seen the bull-fights, the flowers, and oranges of Spain, and
I wish I could take my little princess and go home to Max."

From the window they could see Prince Juan walking in the garden, and by
his side stepped Brutus, the master occasionally pausing to pat the
dog's head or to stroke his silky ears. "He is a good man," remarked the
jester, "or Brutus would not be so fond of him."

[Illustration: The Prince took a seat on a marble bench]

Now the prince took a seat on a marble bench beside the fountain and
turned his pale face, with its thoughtful brow, toward the sinking sun,
still absently drawing the hound's ears through his thin white fingers.
"I said something to him this morning that used to make the emperor
laugh, but the prince only smiled in that far-off way, as if his mind
were traveling through the moon," said Le Glorieux. "He is younger than
Philibert, and Philibert is always ready to laugh. And how cheerful and
gay Max always was, though sometimes----"

"Do not, oh, do not!" cried the princess. "Let us not talk of my father,
or any of the people at home! I am going to weep; I shall be as tearful
as poor Cunegunda," she went on, half-laughing, as she brushed the tears
from her eyes. "What would her Majesty, Queen Isabella, say were she to
see me weeping with my jester--she who always is so careful never to
betray her emotions, and who, even when she is ill, never utters a moan?
The prince will come soon and we are to give an audience to some persons
of distinction, and it will not do for me to be seen with swollen eyes."

"There, there," said the jester, taking her handkerchief and wiping her
eyes as if she had been a little child. "Your lashes are long and thick,
you see, and the tears hang to them and make them seem like more tears
than they really are. They will spoil your pretty eyes. And you are not
really sad, you know, for why should you be, when you will one day be
queen of one of the great nations of the earth?"

"Somehow I do not care about that part of it, Le Glorieux, and I hope
King Ferdinand and dear Queen Isabella will live to be very, very old.
But I can be dignified when I like, can I not, Le Glorieux?"

"Most certainly you can, my little lady. That night when you were
brought a prisoner before Anne of Brittany you were as dignified as a
woman of forty."

"And as I grow older it will be easier for me to be silent and cold. I
am only sixteen now."

"Of course it will be. The older people grow, the more silent and cold
they are. That is to say, as a rule. Clotilde, now, is old and cold, but
she is not always silent. There you are smiling, and your tears are all
gone; do not get into the habit of weeping. As I understand it, you are
expected neither to smile nor weep, but get into a humor half-way
between the two and you will be just right."

"Le Glorieux," said the princess, "if you are not happy in Spain, there
is no reason why you should stay here. I will send you home to my
father, who will be glad to have you with him. You have plenty of
friends there and you will be contented."

"And you would be willing to have me go, you could spare me, little
Cousin?" asked the fool sadly.

"I am not thinking of myself. I should miss you sorely. But I want you
to live where you will be happiest."

"Then that will be where you are, little Princess. No matter if
Ferdinand commands me to be as sour and grave as one of the dried-up
professors in the university, here do I remain."

Prince Juan entered. He bent gracefully and pressed Marguerite's fingers
to his lips, then he offered his arm, and thus they left the room.

The jester wandered to the garden, where he remained for a long time on
the seat vacated by the prince. He plucked a branch of pomegranate
blossoms and fastened it to the front of his yellow coat. "Bright colors
help to make one cheerful," murmured he, and rising, he went down to the
river, and leaning over the old stone bridge, he looked into the dingy
waters. "They tell me that the waters of the Tormes River will make one
forget all he knows if he drinks of them," thought the fool. "They have
a saying here if any one forgets anything, 'He has been drinking of the
waters of the Tormes.'" Twilight had closed in around him when he became
conscious of some one standing beside him. It was a tall man in a long
black cloak, and wearing a tall pointed black hat. He was very thin and
his small eyes were like black beads.

"You were gazing into the waters of the Tormes, Señor," said the
stranger, in a melancholy voice.

"If you are telling me that as a piece of news you must not mind if I am
not surprised at it," replied the fool.

"Do you know the effect produced upon those who drink of this water,
Señor?" asked the stranger, ignoring the flippancy of the jester's
reply.

"Judging from the color of the water, I should say the effect would be
gritty," replied Le Glorieux.

"They are the waters of oblivion," went on the tall man; "those who
drink of them forget all they know."

"That would not be a great effort for some people," said Le Glorieux.

"One cup of this water and the past is completely forgotten," repeated
the stranger.

"Some people might be glad to forget their past," remarked the fool.

"But all wisdom is forgotten, too," the tall man urged in reply.

"Have you tried it?"

Without noticing the rather uncomplimentary character of this question,
the stranger clutched the lower corner of his long mantle in his hand
and folding his arms looked down into the river for a few minutes before
he replied, "No, I have not tasted of these waters, for I need all of my
wisdom. I am the most learned doctor of all the learned ones in the
University of Salamanca."

"Retiring and modest of you to say so," replied the jester.

"The whole world has heard of Don Velerio de Farrapos," said that
gentleman.

"Then I do not live in the world, for this is the first time I have
heard that name."

"Do not lie to me," said the other, frowning, "you _have_ heard it."

"Very well, if you insist upon it," said Le Glorieux. "In order to be
easy and comfortable together, we will say that my father had a black
cat of that name. But do not ask me to remember it, if you please. I
already have the name of one Spaniard fixed in my mind, and I am not
going to have it crowded out by yours. But what have you done that makes
you talked about by all the world?"

[Illustration: "I have discovered the elixir of life"]

"I have made a great discovery."

"What is it?"

"The elixir of life."

"You do not mean it?"

"The savants of the Orient," went on the Spaniard, "claimed that there
are one hundred and one ways in which a man may lose his life. He may
die by poison, by drowning, bad living, a stroke of lightning, or in
ninety-six other ways. But if he dies before he is one hundred years
old, it is the result of accident, or of his own ignorance or
wilfulness. So you see it is not so very easy to die, when all is said
and done."

"But you can not convince people of that; they will keep on dying," said
the fool.

"But they need not, now that I have discovered the elixir of life,"
replied Don Velerio, in a deep voice.

Le Glorieux now surveyed him with a feeling of awe. Men were searching
at this very time for the elixir of life, and why should it not have
been discovered by this learned doctor of Salamanca?

"It is only necessary to take it once in fifty years," observed Don
Velerio carelessly.

"That seems a long while between doses," responded the fool. "But while
you are about it, I should think you would add something to the medicine
to put flesh on your bones," he continued, looking at Don Velerio's thin
legs, which, clad in black hose, looked like slender iron rods.

"Flesh," said the learned man, "is nothing."

"It certainly is not much in your case," returned the jester.

"But life, life is everything," went on Don Velerio, waving the hand
which still clutched the corner of the mantle, a gesture which gave him
the appearance of a large bat. "I expect to live to the age of five
thousand five hundred and fifty-seven years," said he.

"I am afraid you are just a trifle ambitious," said the jester.

"The composition of my elixir is a great secret," said the Spaniard. "It
is made from serpents' broth," and he raised his voice exultantly.

"It must be a great secret since you bawl it out like that." Le Glorieux
had now lost all faith in the wisdom of this "learned doctor."

"He doubts me! He dares to doubt me!" cried Don Velerio, in a shrill
voice, and before he had time to realize what was happening, the jester
was pushed over the low balustrade of the bridge and into the dark
waters below, where he fell with a loud splash.

This piece of treachery on the part of Don Velerio would not have been a
very serious matter, for the jester was a good swimmer, had not the
victim of it struck an abutment of the bridge as he went down, which
stunned him and prevented him from making any effort to save himself. He
would have drowned had not two men in a rowboat not far away succeeded
in dragging the unconscious fool into their boat.

       *       *       *       *       *

When he returned to his senses he was in his own room, and a nun, with a
kind and gentle face, was sitting beside him.

"Why do you come here to watch me sleep?" he asked, and was surprised to
find that his voice was so weak.

"You must be quiet; you have been very ill," said she.

"I ill? Now that is a queer thing, a very queer thing! What made me
ill?"

"Do not trouble your head about it. It is best for you to remain
perfectly silent."

"I will not be quiet until you have answered my questions. If anybody
ought to be interested in this affair, it seems to me I ought to be the
one."

The nun reflected a moment, then she said thoughtfully, "Perhaps it
might be better to tell you, after all. You fell off of the bridge into
the river. You were saved by two boatmen, but you seemed to be in a
stupor."

"I remember all about it now," cried the jester. "It was that old black
spider of a doctor who pushed me in. Let me up and I will break every
bone in his body!"

The sister put her hand to his breast and pushed him back to his pillow
again, and he was astonished to find how easily this delicate woman
could manage him. "You must not grow excited," she said gently.

"He came there and talked to me about his old elixir of life," said Le
Glorieux. "Did it of his own accord; I never invited him; then he said I
doubted him, which I did, and he pushed me over."

"Don Velerio is very sensitive about his discovery," said the nun, "but
he did not intend really to harm you."

"He did a queer thing for a man who did not intend anything by it."

"Don Velerio is flighty at times, and he was sorry for what he had done.
He has sent you a vial of his elixir of life."

"Send it straight back to him and tell him, with my compliments, to take
it himself and see if it will make him----"

The door opened before he had finished the sentence, and the princess
entered, followed by a page who bore a torch to light the way along the
corridors. She was dressed as if for a grand fête. A coronet rested on
her hair, gems flashed about her throat, her arms, and her slender
waist. In all her gorgeous array she knelt on the floor and took in both
her own the hand of the jester.

"Little Cousin," said he.

"Oh, he is conscious!" she cried. "I am so rejoiced to know it! Now you
are going to recover right away, are you not, my poor Le Glorieux?"

"The sight of you, as you look now, ought to make even the broken statue
of a man pull himself together," he replied, smiling faintly.

"Oh, it is so good to hear you talk," she exclaimed, laughing, though
her eyes were full of tears.

"I did not know that it was so strange a thing to hear me talk," said
he.

"Why, you have not said one word for more than two weeks!" she said
impulsively. "But perhaps I ought not to have told you."

"I did not think it best to tell the patient too much, your Highness,"
said the nun almost reproachfully. "He seemed so anxious to talk that I
allowed him to ask some questions, but I was just about to bid him be
quiet when your gracious Highness entered the room."

"I am always blundering, even with you, Le Glorieux," said the princess,
rising, "but now I will go. Try to sleep, try to get well as soon as
possible. And now good-by for the present." She smiled down upon him,
took her long train over her arm, and motioning to the page to open the
door, went from the room.

"She is a great princess; she is the future Queen of Spain, yet she does
not forget the poor jester," murmured the sick man, while to himself his
words sounded as if they had been uttered by some one else and he seemed
to sail away into a silent sea.

When he once more became conscious the bright sun was streaming in at
the open window, and standing beside his bed and looking down at him
with coldly blinking eyes, was the Lady Clotilde.

"I thought I had died and gone to Heaven," said the jester weakly, "but
this is only purgatory."

"I do not know that you ought to talk," said the Lady Clotilde. "I wish
you had not returned to consciousness while Sister Barbara is out. I
never know what to do with sick people."

"I have been talking all my life, and it has not killed me yet," said
the jester.

"I came on behalf of her Highness, the Princess of the Asturias," said
the Lady Clotilde. "Not being able to come in person, she sent me to see
that you were well cared for and had everything that you needed."

"She was here last night," said he; "she said she was so glad to hear me
talk again."

"Oh, that was some time ago. She has been here since, but you did not
recognize her. You have been raving with fever for six weeks."

"Fever?" he asked, considerably puzzled. "Why, I thought I was pushed
over a bridge."

"And so you were, but it terminated in a fever. The leeches do not know
whether the accident brought on the fever, or whether the malady was
already in your system. They have had several consultations about it."

"I do not see the sense of consulting about a thing like that. What
difference does it make what gave me the fever, since it is very evident
that I have it? How long have I been here altogether?"

"Just eight weeks ago this night, for I remember I ordered a gown from
the best tailor of Salamanca, and he promised it in a week, and it has
not come yet, and it was the night of your accident, for I heard about
it just as the tailor was leaving the palace, where he had come to take
my order. Eight weeks, think of it, and that gown no nearer finished, I
will warrant, than it was the day it was fitted! These Spanish tradesmen
are the slowest people in this world." And the Lady Clotilde became very
much excited about her wrongs.

"Well, I think that your situation was better than mine during those
eight weeks," said the jester, "but I dare say I was in no higher fever
than you were throughout that time. I do not suppose I have missed
anything by being ill, except, perhaps, several dozen bull-fights. I
would I were back in Vienna again," he continued, with a sigh.

"Vienna? I would not return there for the world," said the lady. "The
climate of Spain is simply glorious."

"I am not especially fond of climate by itself," said the fool.

"I really do think you ought not to talk," said the Lady Clotilde. "I do
wish you had not returned to consciousness while Sister Barbara is
out."

"You said that before," said the fool fretfully. "Why would it not be
just as easy to wish that Sister Barbara had been in when I did return
to consciousness?"

"I see that you are inclined to be captious," returned the Lady Clotilde
calmly. "They say Prince Juan is like an angel."

"What has that to do with me?" asked Le Glorieux wearily. "He is not a
near relative of mine."

"I forgot that you were ignorant of the fact that his Highness is very,
very ill."

"Ill? His Highness ill?"

"Yes, he also has the fever, the same that you have, but the leeches are
confident that they can cure him."

The fever had now spent itself, and Le Glorieux, being naturally of a
strong constitution, made rapid progress toward recovery. Marguerite
came no more, for every moment was spent beside the couch of the prince,
who was making a brave fight for his life.

But one morning the bells began to toll, and it seemed as if a pall had
settled over the land, for the Prince of the Asturias, the hope of
Spain, was no more! The heir to the throne of a great kingdom had bowed
his young head meekly to the divine will, and gladly had exchanged the
splendors of earth for the joys of Heaven. History says, "All the
nations mourned, and the court, instead of being hung with white serge,
was draped in sackcloth.... Brutus, a beautiful hound belonging to the
prince, could not be induced to leave his body, but went to his tomb and
died there."

It was a pale and sorrowful queen whom Le Glorieux beheld when next he
went to court. The fairy-like columns and sparkling fountains of her
palaces were no longer a delight to Queen Isabella; for her the roses in
the Alhambra gardens had lost their fragrance, and she thought with
indifference of her new possessions across the sea, for she had lost the
dearest treasure of all, and the great queen had become the sorrowing
mother.



CHAPTER XIII

TRIPPING THE MEASURES OF THE EGG-DANCE


Ferdinand and Isabella were very kind to the young Princess of the
Asturias, and insisted that she should remain with them. Some writers
see a selfish motive in this invitation, saying that the royal couple
feared to have Austria's daughter escape from their influence, that they
wished to control her future, lest she should make a marriage directly
opposed to the interests of Spain. But why not give them the credit of
being really kind-hearted, and of wanting the society of the girl-widow,
whom they must have loved for their son's sake if not for her own?

But Marguerite longed for her home and for her father, and one day Le
Glorieux found her weeping in one of the myrtle walks of the Alcazar
gardens. "You are crying in this beautiful twilight," said he, "when the
nightingales are just beginning to sing, and you are close beside roses
which could not be any redder and which have a fragrance that almost
makes one drunk. Look at the goldfishes in that fountain, look at that
tree loaded down with oranges, which, though they are of a kind that is
not good to eat, make a fine show. Look through the trees at that
beautiful palace where you have but to utter a word and your wish is
granted, and then have the heart to weep!"

But the princess continued to sob.

"We did not have half so many comforts in your father's empire," he went
on. "The time we went to hunt the chamois with Max we found no luxuries
in The Hunter's Rest. We were warm and comfortable and that was about
all; all you could do was to run about with your ladies and work at your
embroidery while the men hunted. Do you remember how gay Max was when he
came back, and how he told about the chamois, and----"

"Oh, do not talk of it!" cried the princess, interrupting him. "Why must
you make me more wretched than I was before you came?"

Cunegunda came along the walk with a mantilla of fine black lace over
her arm; this she threw, Spanish fashion, over the head and shoulders of
her young mistress. "You have been making her cry!" she said
reproachfully, to the jester.

"That is a fine thing to say, when I have been talking myself hoarse to
keep her from crying! But, of course, you always blame me with
everything."

"You were making her cry; I heard you, and I heard what she said,"
insisted the woman. "You were talking about the inn in the Tyrol."

"I do not deny it. I did it for the purpose of contrast. Think of that
mean little inn and the cold snow, then think of this marble palace and
these flowers."

"If one is right on the inside, it does not much matter what is on the
outside," replied the woman. "When the heart is comfortable everything
is bright to the eyes."

"You do not weep as much as you used to do, Cunegunda," said the jester,
looking at her thoughtfully. "Even the sight of me does not make you cry
any more."

"I control my tears for the sake of my young mistress, who weeps so
much," returned Cunegunda with dignity.

"You have some good points, I must say," replied the fool.

The princess had now dried her eyes, and had drawn the folds of the
mantilla closer about her face. "I want to go home," said she. "All of
my ladies and gentlemen want to go home. They hate the restraint of the
Spanish court; and I want to see my father."

"This is the first time I have mentioned it," said the fool, "but I also
want to go home. I want to see Max and I want to see that little wretch
of an Antoine, and Pittacus, and Pandora."

"And we will go," cried Marguerite, rising to her feet with a new light
sparkling in her eyes. "I will write to the emperor, my father, at once,
and we will set out at the earliest possible moment."

And again did the daughter of Maximilian return to him, still only a
princess, for it was destined that she should never wear the crown of a
queen. But when she beheld her native land, and the handsome, kindly
face of her father once more, she was as happy as one whose most
ambitious dreams had been realized.

Le Glorieux said, "At last we really have left Clotilde behind, and as
Don Geronimo Bartolomeo Zurriago y Escafusa says he never will go out of
his native land again, we may safely conclude that Clotilde is a fixture
in Spain." The jester was affectionately embraced by Antoine, who
declared himself overjoyed to see his old friend again, but their master
was disgusted to find that Pandora and Pittacus received him with their
usual cold indifference.

One day, in the following spring time, Marguerite said to Le Glorieux:

"Cunegunda is once more suffering from migraine, and thinks that nothing
will cure her but another pilgrimage to the shrine of Saint Roch. She
thinks that when she was there before she did not give enough time to
her prayer, being in too great haste to leave; otherwise she would have
been cured permanently. I am often depressed and weary, and I think the
journey will benefit me. So I shall go with such of my household as I
shall need."

"It is a long journey to make for Cunegunda's sake," observed the
jester.

"Cunegunda has been one of my best friends throughout my life," replied
the princess, "so why should I not strive to please her? But as I said
before, it is not altogether upon her account that I want to go. I wish
to be taken out of myself. The world is not so happy a place as it used
to be."

"Little Cousin, I do not often ask a favor of you, do I?" asked the
fool.

"No, Le Glorieux, a fact which would make me the more inclined to grant
you one now."

"I want you to let me have a man and a horse," he replied.

"For what purpose?"

"I wish to send a message to the young Duke of Savoy. He lost a valuable
jewel when he was with us, and I want to tell him where he can find it."

"Perhaps it is between the leaves of his prayer-book," said the
princess, smiling. "But if you have an idea where this wonderful jewel
is, why can you not find it and send it to him?"

"There are certain reasons why such an act on my part would be out of
the question," returned the jester. "But if you do not want to let me
have the man and the horse, we will say nothing more about it."

"I do not object in the least, Le Glorieux. Send as many messengers as
you like to Savoy."

They set out from the historic city of Aix-la-Chapelle, where the court
was staying at the time, and even at the end of the first day's travel
the princess expressed herself as being wonderfully benefited with the
journey.

[Illustration: They approached a hostelry]

Late on the following afternoon as they approached a hostelry where they
expected to stay the night, they noticed a queer-looking animal painted
on the sign-board and before they were sufficiently near to read the
name beneath it, they began to speculate as to what it could be.

"I should say it was a horse," said the princess.

"And I," said the jester, who rode at her side, "should call it a calf
in convulsions."

Coming nearer they read the sign, which was "The Flying Fawn." So many
things had happened since she had heard the name that the princess had
forgotten it, but as they drew up and the pretty landlady came to the
door, Le Glorieux exclaimed, "Cimburga!"

Yes, it was Frau Obermeister, as Cimburga was now called, and she was
followed by her tall husband, both almost doubting the evidence of their
senses when they beheld the princess. Even before the latter alighted
from her mule Cimburga ran out and was about to press the hem of
Marguerite's robe to her lips when the princess reached out her hand,
which the landlady kissed, saying, "Oh, gracious lady, I never have
forgotten your face, which is now more beautiful than ever. And never
have I ceased to offer the prayer I told you of, and my little daughter,
although she can scarcely lisp the words, offers petitions to the
Blessed Virgin for your health and happiness, for she has learned that
it is to your goodness that we owe all that we now have."

"Happiness is a strange thing," remarked Le Glorieux afterward to
Cimburga. "You and Karl living in this snug inn, with your two chubby
children, have plenty of it, while the Lady Marguerite, even when she
wedded the Prince of the Asturias, had not found it."

"It will yet come to her; she is still very young, and my prayers will
be answered," replied Cimburga simply.

Castle Hohenberg was a good many miles north of The Flying Fawn, but
Cimburga had heard one piece of news from that hospitable household
which, when she told it to him, surprised the fool greatly. The
seneschal had married the housekeeper shortly after the visit of the
emperor.

"I can not believe it!" cried Le Glorieux. "Why, those two were always
quarreling!"

"And so they were," she agreed, "but now, I am told, they never speak an
unpleasant word to each other."

Speaking of this marriage to his mistress, when they had resumed their
journey, the jester said, "For a couple who were ready to scratch each
other's eyes out before marriage, to be perfectly angelic afterward, is
nothing less than a miracle."

She replied, "Hohenberg is the place for miracles. Think of Saint
Monica."

"Which was not a miracle, after all," replied the fool; and then he told
her the truth regarding that night's strange occurrence, as it had been
related to him by Philibert, adding, "He did it because you had prayed
for her, little Cousin."

It was, as the jester had said, a long journey, but at length they
reached the end of it, and Cunegunda made frequent visits to the shrine
of Saint Roch, declaring even after the first one that the pain was much
less severe than it had been.

Everything about the old inn was much as it had been at their first
visit, though the little Mary had become a great chatterbox, and this
time was able to thank the princess for the present of a gold piece.

Anne, the queen-duchess, was staying for a time in one of her castles in
the province of Brittany, it being her custom to visit her domain as
often as she could make it convenient to do so. Hearing of the presence
at the inn of the Princess of the Asturias, she sent to her an
invitation, offering the hospitality of her roof for the Easter season.
Although the King of France and the Emperor of Austria had been enemies,
the princess and the queen had not shared the ill feeling, and history,
which as a rule makes out people to have been worse than they really
were, admits that the two ladies ever were friendly to each other and
that they sometimes exchanged presents.

The King of France was away with his soldiers, and as the royal little
ones had remained in the palace of Amboise, it was not difficult to
imagine that time had remained stationary and that the fair châtelaine
of the castle was still simply the Lady Anne, Duchess of Brittany.

Fêtes and entertainments were arranged in honor of the guest, and happy
were the hours that Anne and Marguerite spent together.

On Easter Monday the people for miles around met in the valley to engage
in the customary games of the season. The married men entertained
themselves with archery, the prize for the best shot being considered
worth winning. The archers shot at a cask of wine, and he who was so
fortunate as to pierce the wood was permitted to put his lips to the
aperture thus made, and to drink of the amber liquid until he was
satisfied, the others taking their turn when he had finished. But the
young people craved something more exciting than the mere drinking of
wine, and their gay laughter rang out joyously and vigorously as they
went through their native dances.

The princess from her place beside her royal hostess enjoyed the scene
thoroughly. Finally began the most exciting dance of the day. A hundred
eggs were scattered over the ground and two youths chose their partners
and began the figure. Although on the surface a trivial matter and one
to provoke laughter, this dance was a very serious affair to those who
engaged in it; for the couple who could skip over the eggs, glide
between them, twirl about them in the many turns required by the dance,
without breaking or cracking an egg, might marry each other in spite of
the opposition of parents or guardians. Each couple was allowed three
trials, and the dance being successfully concluded, none had a right to
say "Nay" to the union.

While the merrymaking was at its height the sound of a hunter's horn was
heard ringing through the forest, and soon there appeared a company of
men on horseback and in brilliant uniforms. At their head rode a
beautiful youth attired in the rich costume affected by the nobles of
the time, who, leaping from his horse, bent a graceful knee to the
queen, requesting her hospitality. It was granted at once, for this was
Philibert the Handsome, Duke of Savoy!

He bowed low before the princess and gave a friendly greeting to the
others, but to Le Glorieux he murmured, "The jewel about which you wrote
me I have come to claim."

The dance, which had ceased when the hunters appeared upon the scene,
was now resumed with greater merriment than before, and after watching
them intently for a while Marguerite said wistfully, "Would that I might
try that dance."

Then Philibert once more inclined his graceful figure and said, "Madame,
will you permit me to be your partner?"

This was equivalent to an offer of marriage, and his followers and her
own became wildly enthusiastic. Cries were heard of "Austria and Savoy!"
and it seemed to Le Glorieux that in his joy his own cry must have rung
to the very skies, while cheer upon cheer rent the air.

[Illustration: The Princess placed her hand in his]

The princess placed her hand in his and the comely pair took their
places. There was a serious task before them. They must dance around and
over and between those eggs without breaking any, and that, too, with
many eyes intently watching them. The members of noble families were
accustomed to dance; the little feet of the lady could poise as lightly
as thistle-down, while the knight was graceful in every step. When the
dance was ended not a single egg had been touched!

Exercise in the open air had deepened the tint on the cheek of the
princess. Philibert bent his head and whispered something in her ear.

"Yes," said she, smiling brightly, "let us follow the custom of the
country."

"Philibert has found his jewel," said Le Glorieux, "and I have helped
him to get it."

"What jewel do you mean?" asked the princess.

"What should I mean, but yourself, fair lady? You are the jewel he
always has admired. I am nothing but a fool, but I am not blind."

One year from that day the two were married. To their guests they gave
as souvenirs gold and silver eggs filled with spices, which they called
Easter eggs, and which the natives of Savoy claim was the origin of the
pleasant custom of giving eggs at that season.

And Philibert and Marguerite never had occasion to regret that happy day
in the forest, when, forgetting everything save that their hearts were
beating with the joy of youth, they together tripped the measures of the
egg-dance.

THE END





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