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Title: Barbarossa; An Historical Novel of the XII Century.
Author: Bolanden, Conrad von, 1828-1920
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
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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Transcriber's notes:
      1. Page scan source:
           http://www.archive.org/details/barbarossaanhis00bolagoog
      2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe]



                              BARBAROSSA;

                                   AN

                            HISTORICAL NOVEL

                                 OF THE

                              XII Century.



                                   BY

                          Conrad Von Bolanden



                            _PHILADELPHIA_:
                            Eugene Cummisky
                               PUBLISHER,
                         1037 Chestnut Street.
                                 1867.



                           *   *   *   *   *

    Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1867, by
                           EUGENE CUMMISKEY,
  in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States for
                 the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

                           *   *   *   *   *



                            J. FAGAN & SON,
                        STEREOTYPERS, PHILAD'A.



                                PREFACE

                                 TO THE

                           AMERICAN EDITION.


The pleasant historical novel which is now offered to the American
public, refers to a period of history very much misrepresented, though
very frequently written about, or at least referred to by popular
writers. In the contest between Pope Alexander III. and the Emperor
Frederic Barbarossa, we see a very important phase of the long struggle
between the spiritual and civil power; a struggle, in which was fought
the battle of real liberty, and real Christian civilization, against
brute force and Pagan tyranny. Perhaps nothing has been so badly
understood as the real _casus belli_ in this struggle of centuries.
Most non-Catholics firmly believe that the conflict arose from an
effort of the Church to obtain universal dominion; to make princes and
people bow to her behests on all matters; to reduce the civil ruler to
the condition of a mere lieutenant of the Pontiff, to be removed at
will by that spiritual autocrat, and, of course, to improve the
condition of her own officials; securing for them the choicest and
fairest portions of all the good things of the earth. The Emperors and
Kings who were hostile to the Church are painted, on the other hand, as
the assertors of civil liberty, the William Tells that refused to
salute the tyrant's cap, even though it were called a tiara; the
heroes, that in a superstitious age braved the terrors of
excommunication, rather than sink into a degraded servitude, to the
heartless ambition of churchmen.

Nothing can be farther from the truth than this view of the subject. In
reality, what the Church fought for during this long struggle was--not
power, but--liberty. She refused to admit that she was a corporation
existing by the permission, or the creation of the State. She claimed
to be a spiritual society, existing by the fiat of the will of God,
entirely independent in her own sphere, having a government of her own;
executive, legislative, and judicial rights and duties of her own; an
end of her own, far above and beyond the affairs of this world. It was
for this liberty and independence that her martyrs had died, her
confessors languished in prison, her saints prayed and suffered. When
the rulers of the world became Christian, the difficulties in the way
of her liberty did not cease; they only assumed a new form. Open
opposition became oppression, under the specious name of protection;
and the State made every effort to restrain and shackle a power, the
indomitable energy and dauntless courage of which it imagined it had
reason to fear.

This was, indeed, one of the "empty" things which the sons of men,
crafty in their own generation, allow themselves to say when they speak
of spiritual things. The unrestrained power of the city of God on earth
cannot hinder, or in any way interfere with the true development of the
earthly commonwealth. Truth, morality, justice, are the surest
foundations of civil peace, liberty, and prosperity. Under the pretence
of defending their rights and those of their people, civil rulers have
endeavored to subjugate the Church, enslave her ministers, make her, in
a word, merely a piece of government machinery, to register their
decrees, and enforce them with her anathemas. Had they succeeded, the
only bulwark of freedom would have been swept away; for as man has no
right higher or holier than freedom of conscience, that is, freedom to
serve God rather than man, had this right been sacrificed to the
imperious demands of the civil power, other rights less important, such
as those which constitute civil liberty, would have been lost with it.

Thus the medieval Pontiffs--living in exile, wandering from one city to
another, often in prison, rarely suffered to live in peace--were the
martyrs of the highest and truest freedom. To their indomitable
courage, untiring perseverance, and clear-sighted intelligence, we owe
whatever idea of true freedom (that is of the existence of the rights
of man independently of the permission, toleration, or concession of
the civil power) still survives in modern society.

These fundamental truths are well illustrated in the following pages.
The special period of history chosen, serves to show clearly the real
points of dispute. Even Voltaire acknowledged that it was the "wisdom"
of Alexander III. that triumphed over the "violence" of Barbarossa. As
the same writer observes:--"Alexander revived the rights of the people
and suppressed the crimes of Kings." A Pontiff to whom such testimony
is borne by Voltaire, cannot fairly be accused of ambitious designs. In
his contest with Frederic, from the beginning to the end, he simply
asserted the independence of the Church. Antipope after antipope was
opposed to him, all of them were puppets of the Emperor; but in the
end, even Frederic was obliged to yield, and to acknowledge the patient
but determined Alexander as the Vicar of Christ.

The subserviency of these pretended Pontiffs is well described by our
author. There is no exaggeration here. These men were merely Vicars of
the Emperor, existing by his favor, the creatures of his breath. They
cared little for the ratification of their decrees in Heaven; so that
they knew that they pleased the rulers of this world! What the Emperor
wished bound, they did bind, and what he wished loosed, they did loose,
even the holy bonds of matrimony. Their degradation and that of the
courtier bishops, so graphically depicted in these pages, is a
practical proof of the great truth, that while there is no human
greatness more exalted than the dignity of the ecclesiastical
character, there is no fall lower than that of a churchman who,
forgetful of his calling, makes himself the slave of the world's power,
be it wielded by a crowned King or by an uncrowned mob.

The heartless repudiation of his wife by Henry the Lion, after the mock
sentence of the miserable Victor, and the recourse of Constance to
Alexander, himself a fugitive, and persecuted, is a touching instance
of the manners of the times, and of the protection the Church and her
real Pontiffs ever gave to the sanctity of marriage. Little do women in
our day think how much they owe to the Popes, who so bravely and so
constantly fought their battles in those rude and licentious ages,
protecting their innocence, defending their rights, making them the
companions, not the servants of those rough warriors. There was more
than one Constance in those ages: but never did any of them appeal to
the Head of Christendom, that her demand for justice was not heard, and
her rights courageously vindicated.

The simple threads of the love-story of Erwin and Hermengarde serve
pleasantly to connect together the other more important events of the
tale, and serve to illustrate on the one hand the finest type of
feminine affection and constancy, and on the other that of manly
nobility and courage. We think the author can fairly lay claim to
historical accuracy in the main events of his tale. Every matter of
public interest, even the wonderful pestilence which checked Frederic
in his victorious career at Rome, is related as given by contemporary
writers.

We venture to bespeak for BARBAROSSA a kind and gracious reception from
the American public. It is a well told tale, which will afford real
instruction, as well as pleasant amusement. It will serve to give true
ideas about medieval history, and to make Catholics more interested in
learning the truth about those real Pontiffs, who did battle for
religion and the rights of man against the Kings and rulers of the day.
We consider it a valuable contribution to our lighter literature, and
we hope to see it followed by many others of the same purpose and
object. The translator has done his work well, and we trust BARBAROSSA in
its English dress will become a universal favorite.

                                                             J. K.
    PHILADELPHIA,
_Ascension Day_, 1867.



                               CONTENTS.

CHAPTER                                                       PAGE

           I. INTRODUCTORY
          II. THE AMBUSCADE
         III. CHANCELLOR RINALDO
          IV. THE BATTLE
           V. AFTER THE VICTORY
          VI. THE COURT FOOL
         VII. FATHER AND DAUGHTER
        VIII. THE ABBOT CONRAD
          IX. FILIAL DEVOTION
           X. THE TEMPTER
          XI. THE JOURNEY
         XII. THE TOLL
        XIII. CASTELLAMARE
         XIV. THE SIEGE
          XV.  THE ANTIPOPE
         XVI. THE EMPEROR'S SLAVE
        XVII. AN EVIL SPIRIT
       XVIII. CONFIDENTIAL SECRETS
         XIX. THE CONSULS
         XX. THE ASSAULT
         XXI. THE EMPEROR'S POLICY
        XXII. VANITY
        XXIII. THE MEETING
        XXIV. THE WALK
         XXV. THE CAPTURE
        XXVI. TREACHERY
       XXVII. THE BETROTHAL
      XXVIII. THE POPULACE IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY
        XXIX. HUMILIATION
         XXX. AMUSEMENTS
        XXXI. AT RIVOLI
       XXXII. ALEXANDER'S AMBASSADOR
      XXXIII. A WARNING
       XXXIV. THE DIVORCED DUCHESS
        XXXV. LAON
       XXXVI. KNAVERY
      XXXVII. THE SPY
     XXXVIII. THE QUEEN OF FRANCE
       XXXIX. UNDER THE OAKS
          XL. A TRUE BISHOP
         XLI. A HARDENED SINNER
        XLII. THE ABBEY OF CLUNY
       XLIII. IN THE CLOISTER
        XLIV. POPE ALEXANDER III.
         XLV. A KNAVE'S STRATAGEM
        XLVI. THE SERMON
       XLVII. THE DUEL
      XLVIII. THE TRIUMPH OF FORCE
        XLIX. HERMENGARDE'S CONSTANCY
           L. THE CONSPIRATORS
          LI. THE TRIBUNE
         LII. SEDITION
        LIII. BARBAROSSA IN ROME
         LIV. THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY
          LV. THE HAND OF GOD
         LVI. CONCLUSION



                              BARBAROSSA.



                              _CHAPTER I_.

                            _INTRODUCTORY_.


Towards the middle of the 12th century, Milan had conquered for herself
a powerful supremacy throughout all of Upper Italy, and with the
exception of the proud Genoa and the maritime Venetian republic, all
the cities of Lombardy acknowledged her sovereignty. Lodi, Pavia, and
some few of the neighboring towns, had made bold attempts to assert
their rights, but all their efforts were unsuccessful; and had only
resulted in riveting more tightly their fetters, while the pride of the
Milanese, and a desire for more extended power, increased in proportion
to the failing strength of their adversaries. The majority bore in
silence the yoke which they could not shake off preferring the
advantages secured to them by prompt submission to the danger of losing
in the unequal struggle every vestige of their former independence.

Lombardy, it is true, was an appanage of the Germanic empire, but the
sovereignty of the Emperor was almost nominal, and only acknowledged by
the turbulent Lombards, when forced so to do by his victorious arms;
and whenever a war broke out between the Monarch, his great
feudatories, or the Church, the smouldering embers of rebellion at once
burst forth into open insurrection.

Scarcely had Frederic the First, of Hohenstauffen, mounted the throne,
when his attention was attracted to Italy by an event of grave and
unusual importance.

In 1158, whilst Barbarossa, as the Emperor was usually surnamed by the
Italians, was presiding over a High Court of Justice at Kossnitz, and
listening to the various cases submitted for his decision, two men,
wearing upon their backs a wooden cross as a symbol of their
misfortune, presented themselves before the throne with a long list of
grievances against the Milanese, by whom, they alleged, the city of
Lodi had been destroyed after the pillage and the exile of its
citizens. They had come now to implore the intervention of the Emperor,
whose power alone, they urged, could check the tyranny of the Milanese
and save from utter ruin the other cities of Lombardy.

Frederic at once dispatched one of his nobles, Schwicker, of Aspremont,
with a letter of reproof and menace to Milan. But on his arrival the
consuls and the people refused to listen to the message. They tore the
despatch to pieces, trampled it underfoot, and obliged the ambassador
to seek safety in flight.

Such a crime could not go unpunished, and Frederic, at the head of a
powerful army, crossed the Alps and appeared, when least expected, in
the plains of Lombardy. Meanwhile the Milanese were putting into
execution their perfidious designs against Como and Lodi, and offered
to the Emperor the sum, enormous for that age, of four hundred gold
_marks_, on condition that he would recognize their sovereignty over
these cities.

But the proposition was indignantly rejected. "Wretches," said he to
the Milanese ambassadors, "do you presume to bribe me to palliate your
treachery? Do you propose to the Emperor of Germany to become a partner
in your baseness? Even were it in my power to sell the half of my
domains, I would rather turn your city into a paltry village than
countenance this exercise of arbitrary despotism over a country which
has as much right to liberty as yourselves." The result of the
interview was a solemn engagement, on the part of the Milanese, to
indemnify Lodi and Como for all damages sustained, as the powerful
alliances of Milan, her military strength, and the comparative weakness
of the German army, did not, at the time, permit of the absolute
subjection of Lombardy.

Thence Frederic marched towards Tortona, an ally of the Milanese, which
had attacked and ravaged the territory of Pavia. Explanations were
demanded, but, confiding in the strength of its fortifications, Tortona
haughtily refused. The Emperor at once attacked the town, stormed the
works, and reduced it to ashes.

This terrible example dismayed the Milanese, who were ignorant of the
fate in store for them, but they had learned to appreciate the energy
and courage of the Emperor, and they began to estimate the necessity of
strengthening and renewing the alliances which had formerly existed
between them and the neighboring States.

Scarcely had the Emperor recrossed the Alps, and received the crown
from the hands of Pope Adrian IV., when the Milanese resumed their
depredations upon Lodi. Far from making amends for their former
damages, and thus fulfilling the stipulations of the treaty, they
marched a powerful army against the city, imprisoned or killed the
inhabitants, and only retired after laying waste the vineyards, and
destroying the crops throughout the entire province.

Again the inhabitants of Lodi sought the assistance of the Emperor.

Barbarossa was incensed beyond measure at this insolent disregard, not
only of his threats, but even of his Imperial supremacy. Such audacity
demanded prompt repression, and Imperial edicts were at once issued to
all the spiritual and temporal princes of the Empire, summoning them to
join the Army destined to operate in Italy.

In the month of June, 1158, the German army crossed the Alps, and Milan
was besieged and taken after a heroic defence.

Again Frederic, either through pity or a desire to spare the noble
city, or through the temptation of a costly bribe, delayed the
execution of his threats, although urgently counselled to inflict upon
Milan the fate of Tortona. But he humbled the pride of the haughty
Lombards: all their rights and privileges were confiscated, and they
were compelled to rebuild Lodi and Como, while all duties and customs
were henceforth to revert to the Imperial treasury; a fine of nine
thousand silver marks was imposed, and as a guarantee for the
fulfilment of these and many other conditions, three hundred of the
principal citizens were to be given up and held as hostages.

The Emperor then disbanded the greater portion of his German levies,
and convoked a Diet of the princes, prelates, counts, and chief civil
dignitaries, who in general assembly were to attend to the pacification
of Italy, and the re-establishment of order, and to define precisely
the respective rights of the sovereign and his subjects.

An immense camp was pitched in the midst of the vast plain which is
watered by the Po; in the centre stood the Imperial tent, and around
it, in order of rank, those of the princes. Streets at right angles
divided the various quarters of this city of canvas, and to avoid all
danger of collisions, the Germans and Italians were encamped on
opposite sides of the river. Frederic had invited four of the most
celebrated _juris consults_ of Bologna, and had given them as
coadjutors twenty-eight counsellors from the other Lombard towns, in
order to investigate and define thoroughly the origin and spirit of
their statute laws and their oral traditions.

From his throne, Frederic opened the assembly with a solemn discourse.

"Called to the supreme power, by the grace of God," said he, "our task
is to elevate the courage of the good, to restrain and punish the
evil-doer. At the close of the late campaign which we have terminated
so fortunately; the pacification of the country demands our earnest
attention, for it is only simple justice that we should protect, by our
arms, the people who are governed by our laws. But before anything be
written, or decided concerning our respective rights, duties, and
privileges; we must establish what is equitable and expedient,
necessary and useful, according to the locality and the epoch; for once
these laws adopted and promulgated, there will be no further discussion
admitted in the matter, they will be rigidly and exactly enforced."

The Italians were astonished at the ability of the young monarch. His
talents and his policy compelled their respect, for it became evident
that under such a ruler, their only safe course of action would be
implicit obedience.

Whilst the Bolognese legists insisted upon privileges being accorded to
the Emperor, based upon the old Roman law, the Lombard counsellors
complained of an autocratic despotism, in the decisions, subversive of
their own peculiar rights, and inimical to the interests of their
country. For example, all revenues from tolls on rivers and bridges,
and tonnage dues in ports and harbors, were to revert hereafter to the
Emperor; and all duties on grain, salt works, and fisheries, with the
right of coinage, hitherto a prerogative of the dukes, counts, and free
cities, were in future to belong exclusively to the Imperial treasury.

Barbarossa had destroyed the autonomy of the Lombard cities, and
reduced them to be mere dependencies of the empire. Still, so long as
he remained in Upper Italy, no open signs of discontent were
manifested, but scarcely had he turned towards Rome, when the revolt
broke out. In order to pacify, if possible, the malcontents, Otto de
Wittelsbach; the Chancellor Rinaldo, and the Knight of Goswin were at
once sent to Milan. But the exasperated populace assembled before the
dwelling of the ambassadors, who with much difficulty escaped being
torn to pieces.

This unexpected outrage excited the rage of the German nobles who
accompanied the Emperor, and the rebellious city was threatened with
sack and pillage, while its inhabitants were doomed to slavery. This
fierce menace, however, by no means disheartened the Milanese, who
determined to employ every means of resistance in their power, and to
die gloriously rather than wear the fetters of serfdom. The struggle
began at once, and while Barbarossa was celebrating the festival of
Easter at Bologna, the Lombards seized the Imperial treasury, in which
were lodged the enormous sums which he had collected in Italy. Then
they burned the castle and hung all the garrison, who were Italians, as
traitors to their country.

The Emperor hastened back with his little army, but he arrived too
late; the Milanese had retreated behind their works, and from the walls
of the city could see Frederic, in his anger, lay waste all the
surrounding country; for, weak in numbers and destitute of siege
artillery, his army was powerless against the town. Scarcely had he
left the neighborhood, when the Lombards took up again the offensive,
and retaliated upon the Emperor's allies for the havoc which he had
caused in their territory. Joining their forces to those of the
Brescians, they took Lodi and Cremona, and made several attacks upon
the Imperialist forces; and such was the vindictiveness displayed; that
several abortive attempts were made to assassinate the German Emperor,
who was unable to check or punish these acts of hostility. His army was
composed almost entirely of Italians, and although the rebellious city
of Cremona was taken and burned, his reprisals were without result.

This continual strife and its attendant misfortunes, equally disastrous
for both factions, reduced Lombardy almost to a desert. The devastated
fields produced no more crops, and the ground being unable to sustain
even the native population, the foreign troops suffered severely from
famine. Barbarossa convoked again his knights and nobles, thanked and
rewarded them publicly for their devotion to his cause, and disbanded
the Germans, promising to open the campaign with a strong army, early
in the following spring.



                             _CHAPTER II_.

                            _THE AMBUSCADE_.


After a winter spent in harassing the enemy and in petty skirmishes
with the Emperor's adherents, the Milanese inaugurated the year 1161,
in a more serious manner, by the capture of several fortresses, some by
assault, others through treachery. Frederic was still unable to make
any serious resistance to his enemy's advance; for the German
reinforcements had not yet arrived, and his own little army, in order
to hasten the fall of Milan, was besieging the towns of Como and
Neulodi, so that his operations were limited almost to a strictly
defensive policy, whilst, in person, he rode at the head of a small
escort, through the province, reassuring his declared allies and
conciliating those whose sentiments were as yet doubtful.

It was a beautiful morning. A small troop of armed men, whose
appearance was that of banditti, were keeping guard at the foot of a
hill, about two days' journey from Milan. The soldiers, wearied by a
long march, were stretched upon the ground, and about a dozen horses,
with heaving flanks, stood close by, showing clearly that they had
shared the fatigue of their riders.

The chief of the band stood a little to their rear, and with his arms
crossed on his breast, appeared to be reflecting profoundly. His costly
armor and proud bearing was not that of a robber, for his shield was
magnificently embossed in silver, the border of his surcoat richly
embroidered, and his sword-belt inlaid with precious jewels. By his
side stood a man of short stature, apparently quite at his ease. He
wore a pointed hat, and on his bronzed face beamed an expression of
knavery and deceit, which, with his sparkling eye and a continued sneer
around the mouth, gave to his whole physiognomy a most malevolent
character. He carried a cross-bow and a quiver full of bolts on his
back, and by his side hung a long rapier.

"Nothing!" said the knight, angrily. "Ah! Griffi, if you have deceived
me, you shall be flogged."

"Flogged! my lord Pietro! I, Cocco Griffi, the son of the high and
mighty Consul Nigri of Milan! I flogged!" said the little man, with
marked astonishment.

"Yes, without fail!"

"How, my lord Pietro! your native city boasts of giving liberty to the
Italians. Would it not be barbarous to flog a loyal citizen?"

"You have most richly deserved it! At this very moment, the Milanese
are destroying one of the strongholds of German tyranny; and I, who
would so gladly have shared in the glorious work, have been decoyed
here by your specious tale, to await, uselessly, the coming of that
accursed Barbarossa, while my countrymen are celebrating their
triumph."

"I crave your pardon, my lord! The destruction of a castle, already
half in ruins is scarcely a deed worthy of your heroism," replied
Griffi, in a half serious, half jocular tone. "Ah! it would be another
thing had it been necessary to storm the Castle of Cinola. But as
Barbarossa's worthy governor, Bonello, has in a fit of patriotism
opened the gates, I could see but little opportunity there for a
display of your valor. For the prowess of the brave Milanese will not
go further than the draining of some wine-casks and the destruction of
some old furniture; they may perhaps burn the castle, but, this done,
they will return within their city walls."

Pietro made no reply, but with a glance of contempt upon the speaker,
again turned to gaze into the distance.

"On the other hand," continued Griffi, proudly, "you will have, thanks
to me, a chance of doing here something truly heroic. I learned that
the Emperor, with a feeble escort, was about to proceed towards the
North; I managed to insinuate myself among the soldiers, and discovered
the road by which he was to travel; and then galloping night and day,
came here, to show you how to rid the country of its oppressor, by his
death or capture! And yet, as a reward for all this, you threaten to
flog me!"

"But if we succeed!" said Pietro, his face flushing with enthusiasm,
"if we succeed, I will fill your hat with gold pieces. I will have your
name engraved upon tablets of bronze, and your statue erected in every
public square in Lombardy."

Cocco scarcely heeded the last words, so intently did he gaze towards
the distant horizon. Suddenly he seized the arm of the knight:

"Look there!" he cried, "there, near the forest; see that armor shining
in the sun. It is Barbarossa himself, followed by eighteen knights and
seventy varlets!"

"Oh! the wretch!" exclaimed the Milanese, with an expression of mingled
hatred and anger.

"I beg you, my lord," said Pietro hurriedly, "take off your helmet, and
turn your shield, or their reflection will betray our presence," and,
as his advice was followed, he at once resumed,--

"Now let us make every arrangement in order that the tyrant may not
escape. Remain here with your men, in observation, whilst I ride over
to Cinola to get reinforcements."

"Aye! and meanwhile, Barbarossa will get away. Oh! fool that I am! why
am I here, without my own brave troopers? One bold stroke, and the yoke
of my beloved country would be broken!"

"Fear nothing," said Cocco, "those iron-clad soldiers would need wings,
to escape now. Mark yonder little valley with its sloping meadows and
its narrow stream! The Germans are making toward it, for the road
passes close by, and good pastures are too rare now in Lombardy for
them to neglect so favorable a chance for resting their horses. So,
while his Imperial Majesty is taking his ease, our troops will come up,
and it will be an easy task to seize this red-headed tyrant by the
beard."

Griffi whistled and clapped his hands, and, at the sound, an active
little horse ran toward him.

"Cocco," said the knight to his companion, "my good friend, Cocco, lose
no time--but, stay, let two of my troopers go with you; an accident
might happen, and remember that you hold in your hands the liberty of
Italy."

"Bah! my lord Pietro," replied the other, "I will give you leave to
flog me, if my horse, Molo, does not easily distance your stiff
troopers!" and as he spoke he sprang upon the back of the nimble
animal, and soon left far behind him the soldiers whom the knight had
detailed as his escort.

Pietro concealed himself behind a bush, whence he could observe the
enemy's movements. The Germans continued to advance. In front, rode the
knights in complete armor,--he could even distinguish Barbarossa's
banner with its richly embroidered lion, and it seemed as though he
could recognize the lofty stature of the Emperor himself.

As Cocco had foreseen, they entered the valley, in which, midway, stood
the ruins of an ancient cloister.

The emotion of the Milanese increased as he watched the little troop.
He forbade his men to rise from the ground, lest their bright helmets
might reveal their presence, and, gazing earnestly towards the city,
his whole person betrayed the feverish restlessness of one who felt as
much anxiety for the deliverance of his country as hatred for the
tyrant whose iron arm weighed so heavily upon Italy.



                             _CHAPTER III_.

                       _THE CHANCELLOR RINALDO_.


The Imperial escort had halted in the valley, the horses were unsaddled
and grazing in the meadows, while the soldiers in groups were resting
beneath the shade of the pines and oak-trees.

Three of the knights had chosen the most picturesque spot among the
ruins, and from the slight elevation, on which they stood, could
discern all the surrounding country, and even the lofty summits of the
Alps, which bounded the horizon toward the North. It was to this
direction that was turned the anxious gaze of one of the knights, who,
with his hands resting on his sword-hilt, stood before the gateway of
the ruined church. But little above the middle height, he was
powerfully built, and his long mantle, thrown behind him, showed that
his arms, legs, and feet were cased in mail, and that above his
ordinary armor he wore a coat of silver links which came down to the
knee. On his head was a steel helmet of proof, which shone brilliantly
in the sun, and a heavy two-handled sword with a double hilt, and in a
plain leathern scabbard, completed his accoutrement.

At first sight, the form of the young soldier scarcely seemed to
warrant his ponderous armor. Strikingly handsome, with hands of
remarkable delicacy, with a bright fair complexion, and a mouth around
which played a smile of frankness and amiability, it needed a second
glance to discover that, under this engaging exterior, was concealed a
violent energy, an iron will, and a pride without limit. His full blue
eyes inspired confidence, but at times his glance could threaten as
fiercely as it now seemed kind and gentle. His brow was high and broad,
his nose aquiline, and his beard and hair of a bright red.

Such was the appearance of the Emperor Frederic I., the mightiest
sovereign of his age, and one of the most illustrious men of whom
history has made mention.

His two companions were striking contrasts. The first was tall, with a
grave dark face, and long black hair; and his stern features indicated
the soldier whose life had been passed in action. Thoroughly devoted to
his sovereign, the Count Palatine Otho de Wittelsbach was the faithful
and constant attendant of the Emperor.

The other was a small fair man, with a gentle and smiling face. Unlike
Otho, he was not in armor, but wore a long embroidered gown, green
trunk-hose, and a black hat. Yet in spite of his amiable expression,
there was an air of dissimulation about him, and his eyes were as false
and deceitful as his language was elegant and persuasive. He was the
celebrated Chancellor Rinaldo, Count of Dussel, and Archbishop of
Cologne, in whom the Emperor reposed the most implicit confidence, a
confidence fully justified by the political talents of the wily
statesman. It was said that his ideas were even more progressive than
those of the prince himself, and that he pushed him forward in his
policy, despite the many serious obstacles in the path of his Imperial
sovereign.

The Emperor was still gazing toward the north, when a young man of
handsome bearing and with an almost childlike expression of amiability
on his features, approached, holding a cup of wine. Frederic's whole
expression changed to one of almost paternal fondness, as he glanced at
the young soldier.

"Always mindful of your godfather, my good Erwin," said he, draining
the goblet. "By my faith, if the repast be but proportionate to your
attentions, we shall feast most regally to-day."

"The table awaits you, Sire," said the young man, pointing to a shield
which was placed on a stone near by. "Pray, pardon the frugality of the
entertainment." Barbarossa turned towards the shield emblazoned in blue
and white _lozenges_, on which was placed the Emperor's meal,
consisting of bread and a little smoked meat.

"Sit down, gentlemen," said he. "Ah! not so bad; I see that Bavaria has
sent us her food as far as Lombardy."

"Aye!" replied Count Otho, "and her contingent will be here soon to aid
us with their good lances. According to the last despatches, the
advanced guard should arrive to-morrow."

"It is full time to chastise these disloyal Guelphs," said Frederic.
"The rebellion has become general; Milan openly defies us; Genoa grows
each day more factious, and even Venice, despite our Chancellor's
eloquence, has assumed an air of insolence."

"Right and reason," replied Rinaldo, "have but little chance of success
against fraud and dissimulation."

"Well answered," cried Otho; "I am glad to hear such sentiments
proclaimed. We must draw the sword, and prove to these insurgents that
they owe obedience and respect to their sovereign."

"You are right, my lord Count," said Rinaldo, glancing at the Emperor.
"After vainly trying mildness and conciliation, it would be rank
cowardice not to use the sword."

At the close of their frugal repast, the Emperor directed his
chancellor to read to him, until it was time to mount again; and
Rinaldo, taking a book which was brought to him by the young knight
Erwin, opened it at a marked page, while Otho, too thorough a soldier
to care much for literature, withdrew on one side.

"We have learned the ideas of His Holiness as to the origin of all
power," said the Chancellor to the Emperor, who was seated on the
pedestal of a fallen column. "The following letter from Pope Gregory
VII. will fully explain what these ideas mean, and to what they tend.

"'The Church is our common Mother, the source and origin of all light
and vitality. It is on this account that all emperors and kings,
princes and archbishops, bishops and prelates, are her vassals. Thanks
to the power of the Apostolic keys, she can make and unmake them, for
the power which she delegates is not for a passing fame, but for a holy
eternity. To her, then, they all owe a respectful and modest
obedience.'"

Until then, the Emperor had listened in silence, although his features
betrayed the violent emotions of his inner self. Suddenly interrupting
the Chancellor, he exclaimed,--

"By my faith, the reasoning is highly logical! The Church rules all!
She can make and depose both emperors and princes!--All must passively
obey her mandates!--What arrogance!--Princes are naught but simple
vassals of the Pope!"

"Absolutely nothing else," replied Rinaldo; "the Pope is the sun, the
Emperor the moon, who receives from His Holiness light and brilliancy
and power."

"Enough! enough!" cried Frederic, angrily; "mark the place and close
the book--the reading of such enormities is an insult to the Imperial
dignity." A crafty smile played around the Chancellor's lips as he
replied,--

"Great men, unluckily, make great blunders; but for your unfortunate
oversight, no Pope would have ventured to make such an extravagant
claim to universal sovereignty."

"Was it not the duty of Charles to defer to the request of Rome?"

"Most certainly! but his liberality to the Church might have been more
measured, and the honors conceded more judiciously denned. Hold the
Pope's stirrup!--yes, the Emperor must even stoop to that--although it
is, in reality, a mere idle form," added the Chancellor, hurriedly, as
Frederic's face colored up. "Surely none can blame the Popes if they
construe what was a mere form into an obligation of importance."

"When I held the stirrup of His Holiness, my lord Chancellor," said
Barbarossa with great dignity, "it was the homage paid by a Christian
to the chief of Christendom."

"A most excellent reason, Sire," replied the Chancellor, in an
insinuating tone. "The fulfilment of a Christian's religious duties can
but honor an Emperor. But I have yet to learn in what way those duties
interfere with the prerogatives of a Sovereign."

"Well!--you would elevate then the monarch's rights above the
Christian's responsibilities?"

The smiling glance of the statesman dwelt for an instant upon his
sovereign, who had given his minister to understand that he regarded
his opinions as somewhat heretical and very difficult of realization.
Barbarossa was willing to admit, to a certain extent, the superiority
of the temporal over the spiritual power, but he still hesitated before
the impiety of claiming the supremacy.

"Although you may place the Emperor above the Christian," resumed the
Chancellor, "you will not on that account cease to be one. I will say
even more: to reign, truly, the separation of the Empire from the
Papacy is a necessity. Look towards the monarchs of France and Saxony;
for them the Pope has never been anything more than the Bishop of Rome,
chosen from among the most worthy prelates. They were the temporal
masters of the Roman Pontiff, although ever the first to honor him as
the Head of the Church. And what, to-day, is the Papal supremacy over
the Emperor, what is his influence? You selected Victor as Sovereign
Pontiff, while the College of Cardinals elected Roland, who, under the
title of Alexander III., reigns in spite of you! Victor, the feeble
creation of your own hands, will fall as soon as your support be
withdrawn, while Alexander, your triumphant adversary, is seated more
firmly than ever upon the throne of St. Peter. His legates, only, are
received in Spain, in France, in England; they only are acknowledged
throughout the civilized world!"

"Enough of this!" said Frederic. "To what end serves your discourse? It
is but a waste of time to prove to me, now, that during the past two
years we have plotted, and toiled, and fought in vain."

"In vain! Sire!--but why? Because you neglected the golden opportunity!
Milan, the bulwark of Alexander's power, was in your hands; you should
have levelled her to the ground!"

"Always ready, my lord, to tell me what should have been done! Why was
not this advice offered sooner?"

"It is not yet too late," replied Rinaldo. "The German bands have
passed the Alps; let their first exploit be the capture of Milan."

"Naturally; and their second?"

"The overthrow of the present _status_ of Italy, and the installation
of Victor at Rome."

"And then the heretic Barbarossa, the persecutor of the Holy Church,
will be put under the ban of the Universe!" replied Frederic, with a
bitter laugh.

"Heretic? No! But the astonished world will hail in you the worthy
rival of the great Emperor. What did Charlemagne, and Otho, and Henry
III. do? Did they not give Rome to the Popes? And if you, their
successor, should place in Rome a bishop of your own selection, who
could dispute your authority? Act, break down all opposition, and the
Papacy, henceforward, will be no more the enemy, but the obedient
vassal of the Germanic Empire." Whilst Rinaldo spoke, Barbarossa seemed
lost in thought; every word of the crafty statesman produced its
effect, for it answered the ambitious cravings of his own nature, which
had long aimed at the subjection of the spiritual to the temporal
power. Could his dreams be realized, the Emperor would reign supreme,
and the Church, shorn of all her prerogatives, would remain, as she had
existed during the dark ages, the source of all faith, but a mere fief
of the Empire.

The difficulties of the undertaking did not escape him, but far from
causing discouragement, they pleased him the more, by their bold and
hazardous originality. Rinaldo, in silence, with folded arms and
down-cast eyes, watched narrowly the effect produced on the Emperor by
his discourse.

Suddenly Otho of Wittelsbach advanced hurriedly.



                             _CHAPTER IV_.

                             _THE BATTLE_.


"Bad news! Sire," cried the Count Palatine. "Cinola, your strong
fortress on the Adda, is in the hands of the enemy."

Barbarossa sprang to his feet, and gazed with surprise upon the Count.

"Cinola taken!" cried he angrily,--"when--by whom?"

"To-day, by the Milanese; but here is a man who will give full details
to your Majesty."

And he pointed to a soldier who, until then, had stood at a short
distance from the group.

"Ah! is that you, Gero?" said Frederic, whose extraordinary memory
never forgot a name or a face. "Tell me at once, everything!"

"The tidings which I bring to your Majesty are most unfortunate. Cinola
was, this morning, surrendered to the Milanese."

"Surrendered?" said the Emperor, angrily.

"Yes, Sire,--surrendered by the base Guelph, the traitor Bonello, to
whom your Majesty had intrusted the command of the fortress."

The face of the Emperor grew black with rage.

"What is the strength of the Milanese?" he asked.

"About three hundred men."

"Have they burned the Castle?"

"I am ignorant of that fact, Sire! As soon as the banner of the Guelphs
was hoisted over the citadel, I hastened hither. But some time must
elapse before they can sack and burn the place, as their first visit
will doubtless be to the wine-cellars."

"How many Germans were with you in the Castle?"

"Three and a half, your Majesty,--for one of them had lost a leg. Poor
fellows! they are in a pitiable condition, for their lives are in
danger!"

"Gentlemen," said the Emperor to his knights, who were grouped around
him, "we must not lose an instant; this new outrage must be punished at
once!"

The knights looked at each other with astonishment; and even the daring
Otho shook his head.

"Sire!" said he, "the Guelphs are too much our superiors in numbers."

"Since when has the Count Otho learned to count his foes?" inquired the
Emperor.

"But," observed the Chancellor, whom the sudden resolution of the
Emperor had alarmed, "would it not be more prudent to await the arrival
of the German troops?"

"No! the punishment should always follow closely upon the crime. What!
these traitors have dared to lay their plans under my very eyes, and
yet you speak of waiting!--It would be a public admission of our
weakness."

"To accommodate ourselves to circumstances," replied the Chancellor,
"is not weakness, but rather wisdom. The Emperor should not expose his
person needlessly. Pardon my frankness, Sire; it is your duty not to
court unnecessary danger."

"Know, my lord," said Frederic, "that on the battlefield, he most
easily escapes death who braves it most! But, rather death itself, than
tame submission to such an outrage as this!"

"Well, then, may Heaven help you!" said Rinaldo, despairingly,--"three
hundred against eighty;--the odds are too great;--it is an unpardonable
piece of rashness!"

"Be it so, my lord! But what can three hundred traitors do against
eighty German nobles, fighting for the honor of their name, in the
cause of their sovereign? If I had with me only ten loyal knights, I
would prove to the world, that, in Germany, courage and chivalry are
not mere empty names! Come, gentlemen, to horse!"

"To arms! to arms! Long live the Emperor!" cried the knights, inspired
by the courage of their sovereign.

"Your peaceful calling will render your presence useless in this bloody
work of justice," said the Emperor, turning to his Chancellor. "It will
be better that you should await our return. Stay, ride off immediately
towards the German troops, who are on their march, and bid the princes
hasten their arrival!"

"May God preserve us!" said Rinaldo, perceiving that the Emperor wished
to keep him out of danger. "I am ready to die with my sovereign."

"Your fidelity needs no such act of heroism to prove its value," said
Barbarossa. "Besides, I have by no means decided, as yet, to leave this
world for another! But a truce to this discussion. Seek the princes,
salute them in my name, and bid them march at once upon Milan!"

Rinaldo anxiously watched the tall form of the Emperor through the
crevices of the walls, as his heavy step resounded beneath the arches
of the ruined church. The shrill blast of the trumpet assembled the
knights who were already in the saddle. Without touching the stirrup,
the prince vaulted upon his mail-clad steed, and in a few minutes the
little band disappeared in the direction of the south-west.

"There goes a man who probably rides to meet his death," said Rinaldo
to himself. "His pride despises danger, and yet, though I know the
strength of his arm, some trifling accident may ruin everything. Whilst
I seek the princes, the Milanese may exult over his corpse, and Rome,
raising again her humbled head, topple down the edifice built up so
laboriously!"

The Chancellor started, as a voice addressed him.

"If you are ready, my lord Count, we will set forward," said the
soldier whom Barbarossa had left behind as escort to the minister.

"You should not have weakened the little troop by your absence, for
your lance would be more than ever useful to-day to His Majesty."

"Pshaw!" replied the man, "I have no fears about the result. The
Guelphs never can stand before Count Otho and his brave lances.
Besides, Barbarossa leads them, and I never saw his eye flash so
fiercely as when he bade me stay with you."

Rinaldo mounted his horse and, accompanied by the soldier, rode swiftly
towards the north.

Meanwhile the Emperor pushed forward. His knights rode behind him in
stern silence, but with a look of grim determination upon their bronzed
faces, and naught was heard, save the clatter of their horses' hoofs,
and the rattle and clank of their armor. Barbarossa was carefully
examining the distant limits of the plain, where could be seen what at
first seemed only dark moving shadows; soon, however, the gleam of
helmets and lances was distinctly visible, and even the heavy step of
troops on the march could be distinctly heard. Barbarossa hesitated for
a moment, as if in doubt what course to pursue, when Count Otho
approached.

"I think I know those troops," said he. "As we were leaving the ruins,
I saw several horsemen, on yonder hills, riding towards Milan. They are
doubtless the enemy's videttes, who are carrying to the conquerors of
Cinola the tidings of our advance."

"Gero," said the Emperor, "you are the least heavily armed. Ride
forward and see what is the strength of that detachment; I want to know
if they have any infantry in the rear, and whether there are any
lancers posted in the wood, to take us in flank."

The trooper galloped off. The other soldiers at once dismounted to draw
their saddle-girths and prepare for the fight, and the drinking-cup,
which passed freely from hand to hand, contributed greatly to increase
their courage.

Barbarossa took no refreshment, but he carefully reconnoitred the
ground. Not an inequality of its surface, not a stream or marsh escaped
his eye. On the right was a little wood, which might serve the enemy to
mask his movements, and as the ground on which he stood was slightly
elevated, he determined to await the enemy there, in order to give
greater impetus to the charge of his own troopers.

Gero soon returned, followed at a distance by several of the enemy's
horsemen, thrown out as scouts.

"The Guelphs are moving in three columns--in the centre is about two
hundred Infantry. The wings are much weaker. I could see nothing in the
woods."

"The Milanese seem very confident," said the rough soldier Goswin;
"they think that five Lombards are at least equal to one German, and so
neglect their tactics. Ah! well! I killed twenty of them at Lodi
without dinting my sabre, and am rather curious to see how many I can
exterminate to-day, and not turn its edge."

"Yes," added Frederic, with a laugh; "and these good people have
surnamed you, in consequence, 'The Lombard-eater.' You are in luck
to-day, Master Goswin, for you will have enough to satisfy even your
appetite.--But to work, gentlemen! The enemy will not leave us much
longer the choice of the attack, so we must give him something to do."

He divided the escort into three columns, giving the right wing to
Count Otho, the left to the knight of Goswin, and reserving to himself
the command of the centre. The Lombard tactics were usually to kill the
horses of the knights, who, dismounted and in heavy armor, would then
become comparatively less dangerous; but the monarch understood the
danger.

The Milanese advanced about a hundred yards, and then halted. Unlike
the stern silence of their adversaries, they shouted, and sang, and
clashed their weapons as if to prove that they felt assured of victory.

Barbarossa rode along the front of his little band, which calmly
awaited the attack:--

"Valiant friends," said he, "have faith in your good cause! You draw
the sword against treachery and rebellion! Trust in God; it is he who
chastises the perjurer! Confide in the strength of your good right
arms, and show to the world, that you are worthy to bear the name
of Germans! Let St. Michael, the patron of our country, be your
rallying-cry! Couch your lances! Forward, Charge!"

"Saint Michael, Saint Michael for the Emperor!" rang through their
ranks, as they dashed upon the foe.

The Milanese cavalry, with a savage yell, advanced to meet their
enemies, while their infantry, in close column, awaited the shock of
the German horse. Soon the clash of arms and the wild cries of the
combatants proclaimed that they were fighting hand to hand. Barbarossa
was everywhere in the thickest of the _mélée_; the Milanese leader fell
before his lance, and then the Emperor, sword in hand, broke through
the enemy's centre. Soon each knight had stretched an adversary on the
ground. The ranks of the infantry first faltered, and then gave way,
and many a foot-soldier found death beneath the hoofs of the trampling
chargers, as he vainly endeavored to pierce the serried line of German
steel. Still the Lombards fought stubbornly, and the hope of
terminating at one blow the slavery of their country, animated them to
desperate efforts. Their bravest champions had fallen beneath the
Emperor's sword, and still, to the cry of "Death to the tyrant!" they
fought on. Suddenly Frederic's horse was pierced by a pike-thrust,
and fell heavily upon him. Crushed under his steed, the Emperor was
well-nigh powerless, and the blows of his enemies rained upon his
armor.

A cry of triumph revealed to the Germans the danger of their sovereign.
Erwin broke through the Lombard ranks, and for an instant deverted
their attention to himself. Other knights came up. Erwin, unhorsed, was
holding his buckler above the Emperor's head. Suddenly the cry of "St.
Michael to the rescue" rang above the din of the battle, and Otho, at
the head of his brave lancers, charged the foe. The fight was over, and
soon the Milanese infantry were fleeing, broken and in disorder, across
the plain.



                              _CHAPTER V_.

                          _AFTER THE VICTORY_.


In the midst of the battle-field stood Barbarossa, surrounded by the
dead and the dying. His mantle, pierced and torn, and stained with
blood, hung over his armor, whose strength had protected him so well
against the weapons of the Lombards; for, save a slight contusion, he
was unwounded. Far away in the plain could still be seen the German
cavalry, chasing the scattered fugitives, but near him were only a few
of his own wounded men. Before him lay a dying Guelph, the blood
welling in torrents from his breast, who gazed upon the Emperor with an
expression which, even in his last moments, bespoke his bitter hatred
for the oppressor of his country; powerless and crushed, his impotent
rage broke forth in fierce invective.

"Tyrant," said he, in a broken voice, "when will thy bloody work be at
an end! Immolate the last of the Lombards to thy pride; drink their
heart's blood, if thou wilt!--we will gladly yield it to thee in
exchange for our freedom!--But--be accursed!--thou and all thy race!"

He fell back and expired. The Emperor gazed sadly upon the corpse, for
the words of the dying man and his malediction had strangely moved him;
but just then, Otho of Wittelsbach rode up with his men, in charge of
some prisoners.

"I have spared these rascals, Sire," said the Count Palatine, "that
some of them, at least, may expiate their treachery on the gibbet."

Frederic turned towards the prisoners, but even before he spoke, his
angry glance showed what fate was in store for them. Still he was
silent for an instant, in the hope that some of them might sue for
mercy. But there was no appeal, and pointing to a tree, he said,--

"Let them die!"

Undismayed by the approach of death, the Lombards met their fate in
silence. None asked for pardon. They died martyrs to the holy cause of
freedom, and in the defence of the most sacred rights of their native
land. But their last glance was one of implacable hatred for the
tyrant.

"Count Palatine, take possession of the fortress of Cinola at once,
before the Milanese can strengthen themselves in the works," said
Barbarossa. "We will wait here for Goswin, and then follow with the
wounded."

Wittelsbach mounted, and rode away.

Erwin had remained near the prince, and Barbarossa turned with a kind
smile towards the boy, who had so bravely fulfilled his knightly duties
in the fight, and who had so efficiently protected the life of his
sovereign.

"You have well merited your godfather's thanks, my young friend," said
he, "and we will not prove ungrateful. Ask me what favor you will, I
promise that it shall be granted."

Erwin bowed in silence, but before he could speak, Goswin rode up,
bringing with him as prisoner the knight Bonello, the late treacherous
governor of Cinola.

"Ah! by Saint Guy, Sire, this has been a brave day's work," said he,
pointing to the dead bodies. "I would have finished mine long since,
but for this noble chevalier. I must admit that he is a gallant
soldier, although, alas! a most foul traitor!"

Frederic gazed contemptuously upon his former partisan. Bonello was a
man still in the prime of life, and, though short in stature, well and
powerfully built. His visage, though dejected, was calm. Like the
majority of the inferior nobility, he had been long one of the warmest
adherents of the Emperor, although he had acted as such rather through
necessity than from choice. His glance fell before that of his
sovereign.

"Are you ready to die the death of a traitor?" asked Frederic.

"I am ready to die," answered Guido; "but I implore you to withdraw the
epithet of traitor!"

"And why, pray?"

"Sire, Guido Bonello was a traitor only on the day when he swore
allegiance to his country's tyrant, forgetting, for a moment, that he
was a Lombard."

"Are you not ashamed to seek thus to disguise your felony?" asked
Frederic.

"Sire, we may bow in obedience to the monarch, who by his victorious
arms has conquered Lombardy. But when tyranny reigns in the place of
justice, when our rights are trampled underfoot, when our country is
laid waste and her inhabitants held to ransom, when the Emperor's iron
heel is placed upon the necks of a kneeling people, then, Sire,
obedience becomes a crime! It is better to die free, than live as
slaves! If it needs be that Italy obey you against her will, exile her
population and replace it with serfs."

The monarch, as grand justiciary of the Empire, had allowed the
prisoner full freedom of speech in his defence; but when he had
concluded:

"The usual Lombard argument," he exclaimed; "the invention of some
facts, the misrepresentation of others! You call tyranny the energetic
punishment of traitors whom I had loaded with favors; legitimate
taxation you term extortion! But who, then, have given greater
evidences of tyranny over the weak than the Lombards themselves?
Remember Como and Lodi--think of the excesses committed there before
our army restored order! Were not those cities, the so-called allies of
Milan, only her slaves? But it is not for a sovereign to seek excuses
before a traitor! Go, the gallows awaits you!"

Calmly, without bravado as without faltering, the prisoner heard his
sentence; but as the men-at-arms advanced to seize him, he raised his
head:

"There exists an ancient custom," said he, "honored even among the
heathens. All those who are condemned to death, are permitted to make
one last request, which is granted to them."

"'Tis well--what is yours?"

"Delay the execution for three days."

"Why ask for this delay?"

The tone of the prisoner changed. His confidence left him, his lips
trembled convulsively; and a tear stood in his eye.

"Pshaw!" he said, "I can scarcely believe myself guilty of such
weakness! But there are times when the feelings of a father are
stronger than the duties of the patriot. Let me see my child once more;
she is the sole fruit of my once happy marriage. When one is so near
his last hour, there is much to be done."

"You need feel no shame for such sentiments," replied Frederic, "they
only do you honor. I will grant your request. Goswin, take charge of
the prisoner."

The Emperor turned away to give orders for the care of the wounded and
the burial of the dead. Litters were hastily constructed of lances and
the branches of trees, and then, escorted by a few knights, Barbarossa
rode over to Cinola, whither he was soon followed by the other troops
and the wounded Germans.



                             _CHAPTER VI_.

                           _THE COURT FOOL_.


Scarcely was the Emperor installed in the fortress, when the German
levies began to come in, and Frederic was extremely gratified by the
arrival of several bishops, whose presence, he hoped, would lend great
moral strength to his cause, although they came, not as messengers of
peace, but in complete armor, and attended by well-appointed troops.
Foremost among the temporal chiefs were Henry the Lion, Duke of Saxony
and Bavaria, next to Barbarossa himself, the most powerful prince of
the Empire; Leopold, Duke of Bohemia; and the mighty counts of Dachau,
d'Andech's and d'Abenberg. Duke Henry of Austria had not yet arrived,
although his army stood close at hand in the defiles of the Alps.

In the immense plain before the castle a vast camp rose, as if by
magic. Over the white tents fluttered the pennons of the knights, and
before the pavilions of the princes were hoisted their several
standards, rich in gold and silver embroidery. Through the canvas
streets pressed a gay crowd in rich dresses and shining armor, while
knights surrounded by their brilliant retinues, rode in every
direction.

In the middle of the camp stood the Imperial pavilion, and toward it,
as to a common centre, seemed to tend all the varied parts of the
strange tumult.

Meanwhile a sad spectacle might have been witnessed before the gates of
the fortress, distant a thousand paces from the camp. From the open
postern of the huge round tower, which formed the principal salient of
the fortification, Bonello was being led out to execution. The three
days' respite had expired, and the certainty of his speedy death,
joined to the sorrow that he had not yet seen his child, had left upon
the prisoner's face traces of deep anguish. His trembling knees could
scarcely support him as he followed the jailers who were conducting him
to the scaffold from which hung the fatal knot.

The condemned man made every effort to meet his fate with courage, but
when, a few steps from the gallows, the executioner seized the rope,
all his fortitude deserted him, and he halted.

"What is the matter now," cried the brutal soldier who commanded the
escort. "Until now you have given proofs of bravery; do you tremble at
the sight of a piece of hemp?"

Bonello raised his head, and with tears in his eyes, in a voice choking
with emotion, replied,--

"I do not fear to die, but--oh! my child, my darling child!"

And he covered his face with his hands.

"What serves this everlasting whimper about your child; yesterday was
your day, but you got a reprieve by your lamentations; but we can't
wait any longer; so come and be hanged at once!"

"You are a fool, cousin," cried a shrill voice; "do you think any one
will let himself be hung, if he can help it?"

The executioner turned and glanced angrily at the speaker; a small man,
almost a dwarf in stature, with intelligent features and eyes beaming
with malice, he was dressed in the garb of a jester, and wore on his
head a bright scarlet cap with asses' ears. Both cap and jacket were
covered with a great number of little bells, which rang merrily with
every movement. He was seated on a stone, his chin resting on his
hands, and laughing ironically in the face of the enraged soldier.

"Hold your tongue," said the latter, "or I'll hang you too by the
ears."

"Do you want to get me out of the way for my fool's bauble?" said the
jester, in the same careless tone. "I warn you if you aspire to be my
successor, you will have to prove that there are more brains in your
head than there are in a pumpkin. You are making a poor beginning,
cousin Hesso, or you would not hang this miserable wretch so early in
the morning."

"The man must be hung now, because his time has come!" said Hesso,
furiously. But the arms of Henry the Lion, which were embroidered on
the jester's coat, prevented any violence on his part.

"You would be right, if you were not such a liar," replied the fool.
"Your long ears heard the Emperor say yesterday, 'Let him be hung
to-morrow!' What was true then, will be equally so fourteen hours
hence. Till then the poor devil's time is his own."

Hesso hesitated for an instant, but the idea that he should suffer the
interference of a court fool to delay an execution, was enough to
put him beside himself with rage. Turning towards the prisoner, he
cried,--

"Enough of this; fasten up the traitor to the gibbet!"

The assistants obeyed, and already the noose was around the prisoner's
neck, when, with a sudden spring, and before the executioner could
interfere, the jester drew a knife from his belt, and cut the rope.

"What means this!" exclaimed Hesso.

"Thwarted! thwarted," cried the fool; "don't you see! cousin mine, that
this man has not yet been to confession? The head and the body of the
poor devil belong to you and the crows, but neither you, nor your
friend Beelzebub, have any right over his soul! Let this man first
comply with his duties as a Christian!"

"By Satan! what's that to me? Here, you men, tie a new knot, and hang
up the traitor at once!"

"Then you will be hung too, cousin," said the jester. "Would you really
dare to execute a man without confession? I came here to witness the
death of a bandit, but not to see the devil steal his soul! If you have
any respect for your own life, cousin, you will put off the business
until I bring here a monk, or a bishop, or if needs, the Pope himself!"
This said, he rushed toward the encampment.

Hesso bit his lips sullenly, but he knew the positive order which
existed, that no one was to be put to death, without first receiving
the succors of religion.

"Lead the prisoner back to his dungeon," said he, "until the fool and
the priest have finished their task."

The jester stopped before a tent whose splendid appearance denoted the
princely rank of its occupant. In front of the entrance floated a
banner on which were blazoned the arms and bearings of episcopal
dignity. Upon the threshold stood a man, evidently of high rank, gazing
idly at the busy movement of the camp. He wore a long tunic,
magnificently embroidered on the cuffs and collar; his hands sparkled
with rings of gold and precious stones; his expression was engaging,
and he smiled cordially as the fool approached.

"I'm in luck!" cried the jester; "I was only looking for a monk, and
I've stumbled on a prelate in all his glory."

"What do you want, rascal?"

"To save a soul from Satan, cousin Adelbert! There is a poor fellow
near here who is going to be hanged; he is still in the bonds of sin,
and I want you to come out and cut them, so that he can spring from the
gallows straight into Abraham's bosom!"

"But, Lanzo," replied Adelbert, "don't you perceive that I have neither
sword nor dagger in my belt."

"Oh! cousin, your tongue is sharp enough of itself. Come with me!"

"What! a prelate follow a fool! Rogue, you ought to be flogged."

"Well then! let the prelate lead the way. I warrant he will not lose
the trail."

"Whom do you mean?"

"Why, the prelate, of course."

"And of whose trail do you speak?"

"Zounds! Why, the fool's, to be sure! you look very much like me,
cousin, although your cap has no ears, for your surcoat is nearly as
motley as mine."

"Leave me instantly!" said Adelbert.

"You are willing, then, to leave this poor wretch to Satan."

"Yes, beyond doubt; and you with him! Find a monk, if you can."

"Hey?--Well, I am learning something new every day," said Lanzo,
ironically. "I never thought before, that a monk was worth more than a
prelate; but I'll remember in future.--Ah, I am in luck, here comes a
monk!--two of them.--I may say three, instead of one!" he cried, as
several monks dismounted and approached the tent.

They were dusty and travel-stained, and apparently fatigued with a long
journey; the eldest addressed the prelate, while his companions stood
on one side in an attitude of deep humility.

"Deign to pardon my boldness," said he, after the usual greetings; "we
have just arrived in your camp, and seek a friendly shelter. Our rules
prescribe the greatest discretion; but, in these troublous times, it is
no longer an easy task to hold our pastoral office. Perhaps, your
Excellency will deign to offer us an humble place beneath your tent?"

But the modest request seemed to irritate the prelate. He drew himself
up, proudly, and glanced disdainfully upon the speaker, as he replied,
sharply,--

"The tent of a bishop is not an inn for mendicant friars."

"If you want to keep company with bishops, or priors, or even canons,
holy father," said Lanzo, "you must wear a _pelisse_ of _sables_, and
let the hair grow on your shaven poll."

"Would you be kind enough," said the embarrassed monk, turning to the
jester, "would you be kind enough to use your influence with this noble
gentleman. We are messengers from the Archbishop Everard of Salzburg."

"What!" sneered Adelbert. "Monks acting as the envoys of an archbishop?
Has your master no abbot or canon at the head of his chapter? Your
cowls are out of place amid the splendors of a court! I warn you that
His Majesty has little love for your cloth, and he is right."

"Ah!" exclaimed Lanzo, "if my cousin Barbarossa could only use the
monks as train-bearers and courtiers for his pet Pope, we would soon
have little need for bishops and canons!"

With an angry look at the jester, Adelbert re-entered the tent. The
monks seemed greatly embarrassed. Their scornful reception was the more
mortifying, because it was the first visit which they had ever paid to
the high dignitaries of the Church.

"Be of good cheer, sons of Saint Benedict," said Lanzo; "on the word of
a fool, I promise you comfortable lodgings and a hearty meal! But you
must do me a service in return!"

"Most gladly, my son," replied the monk.

"Come with me then, I'll show you the way," said Lanzo, and they left
the spot, followed by the others, leading their horses.

"You merely ask me to perform a pious duty," said the priest, when
Lanzo had explained the affair; "had we not better go at once to the
poor wretch?"

"There is no need of haste," replied Lanzo. "They dare not hang him,
until he has confessed and received absolution. You need fear no
rivalry in the matter, either; for my cousin Barbarossa hates your
fraternity, and will not allow a monk within the limits of the camp. So
that we have no one here, save prelates in velvet and ermine, who will
have nothing to do with a confession.--Holloa, there, you idlers, make
way for honest people!" cried the jester, striking with his cap a crowd
of servants who were blocking up the entrance to a narrow street.

Close at hand, in the middle of an open square, stood the tent of Henry
the Lion, and behind were the lodgings of his suite and the stables for
their horses.

"Here, Balderich!" said the jester to one of the servants, "take these
animals to the stables, and feed them well."

And, as the varlet led away the horses, Lanzo conducted the monks to
his own tent, where he offered them some food and wine.

"I am aware," said he, "that you abstain from meat; but, with the best
will in the world, I cannot give you any fish, although there is plenty
of it in camp."

The monks said their _benedicite_ and ate what was set before them.

"Will you not change your dress, Father Conrad?" asked one of them, of
him who seemed the superior.

"Not yet, my son," replied Conrad; "for the present it will suffice to
shake off the dust."

"Whilst the monks were attending to the needs of their chief, the fool
examined intently the imposing figure of his guest, as though seeking
to guess at his identity.

"My son!" said he to the monk, "if those are your children, you must be
their father?"

"Certainly! friend Lanzo."

"Then, may Heaven forgive me, for I have led a worthy abbot to the tent
of a fool."

"You see how deceitful appearances sometimes are," replied the abbot,
with a smile.

"Yes!--yes. Henceforth I'll go blindfold, and open my ears wider than
ever, to see better what lies before me. But now, my lord Abbot,
whenever it may please you, we can set out on our mission. As to you,
my holy friends and worthy guests, during our absence comfort
yourselves with what is before you; the ham comes from the Duke's own
table, and the wine from his cellars."

And Lanzo and the Abbot left the tent.



                             _CHAPTER VII_.

                         _FATHER AND DAUGHTER_.


On a rough stone, in the deep and gloomy dungeon of the fortress of
Cinola, sat Guido de Bonello, his body bent forward until his head
almost rested upon his knees, his manacled hands hanging helpless under
the weight of his fetters, and his tearful gaze fixed despondingly upon
the ground. He was a brave man, and had often looked death boldly in
the face; and if he was now so unmanned, it was from no thought of his
own sad fate; his fears were for his daughter, so soon to be left
without a protector. Suddenly the sound of steps met his ear, and he
raised his head quickly, in the fond hope of distinguishing the light
footfall of a woman. The key grated in the lock, the door swung back
upon its hinges, and the chief turnkey, followed by Lanzo and the
Abbot, entered the cell.

"Here is the priest," said the jailer, sullenly; "get through your
business as soon as possible, for you must be hung at once. If I am to
have as much trouble with all my other prisoners, in future, I would
rather resign my office now, and have done with it."

"I am entirely at your service, my son," said the Abbot, kindly, as he
approached the prisoner.

"Thanks, holy father," replied Guido; "but you are mistaken if you
expect to find a criminal here!"

"Of course!" exclaimed the jester. "Nowadays they never hang any but
honest men; the scoundrels go scot-free. Come, come, cousin, if for
nothing else, you merit the gallows for being such a tender father, and
touching a fool's heart. God knows it was nothing but pity which
prompted me to get you a confessor."

Without noticing the idle babble of the fool, the prisoner gazed
earnestly upon the Abbot, who seemed deeply grieved at the sight of his
sad condition.

"You have no hardened criminal to deal with," said he, divining the
priest's thoughts. "My sole fault has been that I drew my sword to
resist the bloody despotism of the Emperor. I feel confident that you
have not visited the camp of Barbarossa to encourage the crimes and
errors of the heretic, for your calm and pious eyes show clearly that
you are no sycophant sold to the tyrant! As an unworthy sinner, I will
gladly avail myself of your kind arm in this my last journey. But first
let me beg you to administer aid to my spiritual necessities." The
clatter of horses' feet in the court-yard interrupted the prisoner; the
sound of light footsteps was heard along the passage; the door swung
open, and a slight veiled form entered the dungeon;--the daughter of
Bonello was in her father's arms. In the doorway stood Pietro Nigri,
gazing, with deep emotion, upon the scene.

The prisoner, passionately embracing his daughter, wept and sobbed
bitterly; for the thought that he held now to his heart, perhaps for
the last time, all that he loved on earth, was agonizing in the
extreme.

The young girl's face was calmer. She uttered neither complaint nor
lamentation. For a moment her head reposed upon her father's breast,
and then, raising it, she put back the gray hairs which covered his
brow, and gazed fondly into his eyes.

"My father!" She could say no more; but the tone was enough to show the
world of deep emotions which filled her heart at this awful moment.

Disengaging herself from his embrace, she looked around her.

Women, in trying circumstances, often give proof of marvellous energy
and force of character. Mastering for the moment her grief,--dismissing
every painful thought,--the young girl sought only to cheer the last
hours of the condemned.

"Take off these heavy fetters which crush him," said she to the jailer;
"put him in some other less frightful cell, I implore you!"

"I have no desire to be hung in his place," growled the man.

"Oh!" said she, pleadingly, "it can be no crime to soothe the last
moments of a dying man!" and she emptied the contents of her purse into
the jailer's hand.

The effect of the gold was magical; he smiled, bowed, and muttered some
excuse for his churlishness.

"Noble lady--you are too kind--yes, you are right, it would be inhuman
to torture the poor wretch unnecessarily. I will conduct him to the
upper tower, and, as he cannot wear his chains on his last journey, I
may as well rid him of them now."

And, taking a key from the bunch at his girdle, Guido's manacles fell
upon the ground.

"Captain Hesso would be incensed, were he to see this, but it matters
little; he won't come back again today, and to-morrow all will be
over."

These last cruel words wellnigh broke the young girl's heart. The
jester observed her changing face, and his own ready sympathies were
awakened.

"Yes," said he, "to-morrow all will, probably, be over; but, one word
from me to the noble Duke, would falsify your prediction. I cut the
rope once, and I would do it again if the fancy took me."

"I owe you many thanks, my kind friend," said Bonello, pressing the
hand of the jester. "I would not be here now, if your kind heart and
good knife had not acted so promptly."

"Pshaw! It Was a silly thing to do, my good sir; but if you would do
something really of use, you should send this reverend gentleman to the
Emperor, to get His Majesty to open your cage."

"If you have access to the court, holy father," said Bonello, "use your
influence in my behalf! I have never opposed the Imperial supremacy,
and only took up arms to resist oppression; but if the Emperor will
spare my life, I will consecrate it, hereafter, entirely to my child."

"Sir knight, be assured that I will do all in my power. A mission of
grave importance summons me to the Emperor's presence without delay.
May God grant that I may find him mercifully disposed! I will return as
speedily as possible, to announce to you the result of my efforts."

And the prelate, followed by Lanzo, took his departure for the Camp,
while Guido, his daughter, and Pietro Nigri, were conducted by the
jailer to a lofty and well-lighted chamber of the upper tower.

"If you wish anything," said he, "open this window and call; I shall be
close at hand."

He lingered for an instant, and then left the room, carefully locking
the door behind him.

The travellers evidently stood in need of refreshments; but the sad
fate awaiting Bonello, had prevented his child from all consciousness
of physical wants. Every movement of the girl betrayed her inward
suffering; but, with the desire of soothing his last moments, she
strove bravely to conceal every trace of her own emotion.

Pietro was pale and suffering; although severely wounded in the late
unlucky battle, the proud Milanese felt still more deeply the dangers
menacing his beloved country. Wrapped in contemplation of the German
camp, he stood at the open window, entirely forgetful of the
unfortunate Guido and his daughter.

"I have been awaiting you impatiently, for two days past, my child!
Were you delayed by the insecurity of the road?"

"Not at all, father; it was Pietro's wound which prevented me
travelling more rapidly."

"Were you not annoyed?"

"On the contrary," she replied; "the German knights paid us every
attention in their power."

"What strange people those Germans are!" said Guido. "I have often
admired their courteous treatment of women. But your appearance in
their camp would, of itself, bring you a host of valiant champions."

"Heaven preserve us from such chivalrous support," said Pietro, whose
violent hatred for the Germans would not suffer him to listen to a word
in their praise.

"To be just towards the virtues of our enemies, is no proof of either
weakness or treason."

"No; but to admit the virtue of an enemy, is not becoming in a sincere
patriot," replied Nigri.

Bonello knew Pietro's blind hatred for everything that was German, and
had calculated upon a similar answer, the injustice of which it was
most easy to show by simple facts. During their discussion, Hermengarde
had approached the window, and now gave way to the emotions which she
had so long controlled. The tears coursed down her cheeks, for she
could see distinctly the gallows and the executioners. Raising her eyes
appealingly towards Heaven, which shone clear and pure above the
smiling landscape, she thought of the promised intercession of the holy
abbot, and she prayed to God and the Holy Virgin, for the safety of her
beloved and unfortunate father.

Her tears ceased, and in a calmer tone, she turned towards him:--

"Without doubt, the Emperor will pardon you. The Almighty knows your
innocence, and will not suffer you to die the death of the guilty."

"Let us hope so, my child!"

"For my part, I expect nothing," said Nigri. "The heart of the tyrant
Barbarossa knows neither pity nor justice.--Hermengarde, resign
yourself to the worst, and do not cherish a vain hope."

"Oh! Pietro," said she, turning away.

"Rather be proud of your father's death; he is a martyr to the cause of
his country's freedom!"

"Enough! enough!" interrupted Bonello. "A girl of fourteen cannot
understand such heroic sentiments, dear Pietro! But if my hours are
numbered, as you seem to think; if I am soon to leave you forever,"
(and Guido mustered up all his courage to preserve the appearance of
calm resignation,) "it is you, Pietro, who must endeavor to replace me.
You know my wishes; receive Hermengarde's hand now, until the priest
can unite you forever."

Tears streamed from the prisoner's eyes and fell upon his gray beard,
as he took his daughter's hand to place it in that of Pietro. But the
words of the young man had made too painful an impression upon her
heart, and turning from him, with a burst of bitter weeping,
Hermengarde threw herself upon her father's bosom.



                            _CHAPTER VIII_.

                          _THE ABBOT CONRAD_.


The condemned man could not easily have found a more powerful advocate
than the Abbot Conrad, the friend of the great Archbishop of Salzburg,
whose opposition had hitherto prevented the recognition in Germany of
the Anti-Pope Victor. Frederic had neglected nothing to obtain the
active co-operation of the Princes of the Church, but all in vain;
neither threats nor entreaties could induce Eberhard to countenance the
schism. He had not even replied to the Emperor's summons to accompany
him to Italy, in order that it might not be imagined that he would make
any compromise with heresy and error.

Many of the bishops regulated their conduct by that of the eminent
Archbishop of Salzburg, and as long as the feeble and irresolute Victor
was not universally acknowledged as Pope, the Emperor could not hope
for a complete realization of his ambitious projects. In fact, Victor
was as humbly submissive to Frederic's slightest wishes as Alexander
III. was inflexibly opposed to them. As powerful and bold as Barbarossa
himself, he disdained to play the part of lackey to the Emperor, and
refused to enthrall the liberty of the Church and make religion the
mere stepping-stone to a despotic prince. Such a man was dangerous to
the Emperor's projects, and every effort was made to drive Alexander
from the throne of St. Peter. Eberhard was the head of the Papal
faction in Germany, and as Conrad was said to possess great influence
with the Archbishop, it was most natural to suppose that Frederic would
gladly oblige the monk whenever it was in his power to do so.

The long expected arrival of the Abbot was promptly noised through the
Imperial camp, and scarcely had he returned to the jester's hospitable
tent, when he found himself surrounded by the courtiers. Adelbert was
one of the foremost, and the prelate strove, by most humble excuses, to
atone for his former incivility. Conrad retained his native modesty,
and smiled as he witnessed the assiduity of the German nobles.

"His Eminence the Bishop regrets that he is not to have the honor of
offering you his hospitality," said Adelbert. "But His Majesty has
ordered the most sumptuous apartment of his own tent to be prepared for
your reception, my lord Abbot. His Eminence has overwhelmed me with
well-merited reproaches for my unlucky mistake of this morning. But I
could scarcely imagine that so illustrious an Abbot would have been
thus disguised beneath a monk's cowl!"

"Lord Adelbert, I beg that you will cease these apologies; the mistake
is of too little importance to be referred to a second time."

"I feel deeply mortified, my lord!" continued Adelbert. "Your
celebrated order is welcomed by all, and surely its virtuous superior
should have been received with open arms."

The abbot began to feel an intense disgust for this obsequious
servility, and was well satisfied when he reached the monarch's tent.
At the farther side of the square, on which it stood, was planted a
tall flagstaff where floated the proud banner of the Emperor. On either
side, midway between it and the tent, were two knights in complete
armor, who, with drawn swords, mounted guard over the Imperial shield.
This was in conformity with a traditional custom, and the duty was
shared, in turn, by every noble, spiritual and temporal, of the court.
Unlike the rest of the camp, a profound silence replaced the noisy
bustle. Warriors in shining mail, and courtiers in rich dresses, stood
around the pavilion; but their grave and respectful deportment showed
that they were near the presence of their sovereign.

The Emperor and his chancellor were seated at a table, in deep
consultation. Frederic had much reason to be gratified with the
alacrity shown by the majority of the German princes in obeying his
summons; but the absence of many of the bishops was a bad omen for the
success of his cause. Some, it is true, had sent both men and money,
others merely excuses; but the Emperor could not but feel that there
was a very evident disinclination to hold converse with a schismatic.

His numerous and well-organized army could easily have overrun and
conquered all Italy, but his long cherished project, the submission of
the spiritual power of the Church to the temporal sovereignty of the
Empire, could not, in that age, be attained by force of arms.

He was particularly indignant against the Bavarian Episcopacy, whose
primate, Eberhard of Salzburg, was the chief and most zealous adherent
of Alexander III. A threatening message had been dispatched to the
Archbishop, demanding his immediate presence; but, instead of appearing
in person at the head of his men-at-arms, the primate had delegated an
humble monk as his representative to the Court.

"In truth!" exclaimed Frederic, "I am beginning to weary of this;--the
Archbishop appears to despise both threats and entreaties!--By Heavens!
he shall feel my anger!"

"Violence would be out of place here," remarked the Chancellor, dryly.
"Your Imperial Majesty is scarcely in a condition, at present, to break
the cross and mitre."

"Must we then sue humbly for the aid of this egotistical old priest?"
said Frederic, bitterly. "I would have you know, my lord, that we are
not yet reduced so low as that! If the Archbishop does not offer us a
valid excuse, he shall be punished by banishment."

"Banishment!" replied the minister, with a laugh. "The sentences, which
Victor fulminates, will all turn to smoke, for the world has little
scruple in ridiculing the Anti-Pope. You may use force, but it will be
at the expense of your own reputation. You know well that Eberhard is
profoundly respected by all, and his example has been the chief cause
of the non-recognition of Victor's claims. The people revere him as a
saint, and if you would ruin your own cause irretrievably in the
estimation of the world, you have only to punish the Archbishop."

"What then does your wisdom suggest?"

"As neither prayers, nor threats have availed," replied the crafty
statesman, "try diplomacy. Assume the mask of Organizer of the Church.
Receive the Abbot Conrad with cordiality, and trust to me for the
rest."

"What is your plan?"

"To persuade Eberhard to visit your court,--the game will be in your
own hands then."

"In my own hands! Bah! Eberhard will never break faith with Alexander!"

"Probably not! but if he should come here, I will spread the report
that he has acknowledged Victor. And, what is still more important, the
holy man will have paid a visit to the heretic Barbarossa,--a visit
which would never be made, were you to continue to be the avowed enemy
of the Church."

"Your reasoning is specious," said the prince; "that game may be
successful!"

"May be?--only may be!" replied Dassel, somewhat offended by Frederic's
incredulity. "My policy is not a _game_; it is no mere fancy of the
brain."

"I perceive," answered Barbarossa, "that science is irritable, and her
adepts petulant. We will therefore bow before your invention, which you
insist is not a mere game, but a deadly war-engine levelled against
Alexander III."

"Eberhard's apparent defection will be your rival's death-blow, for
Victor's recognition will be its natural and immediate consequence,"
said the Chancellor. "And now, Sire, if you will permit me, I will
summon the Archbishop's envoy. The monarch assented, and the Count
drawing aside the silken curtains of the tent, beckoned to a
chamberlain. A few moments after Conrad entered."

"Welcome, my lord Abbot," said Frederic, rising. "We are pleased with
the judicious choice thus made by our Metropolitan of Salzburg. We are
always glad to receive a counsellor whose wisdom can enlighten us in
matters of difficulty."

Conrad bowed and handed a sealed packet to the Emperor. Frederic
hurriedly tore open the envelope; it only contained the Abbot's letters
of credence.

"Be seated," said Barbarossa, pointing to a chair. "The Archbishop, I
perceive, alleges his advanced age as an excuse for his refusal to our
invitation. We regret these obstacles--but what says he to our
request?"

"He cannot send the contingent demanded by your Majesty. All his troops
are needed to defend his own territory against his ambitious neighbors.
But he is prepared to offer a tribute of money!"

"Money!--I want none of it!" said Frederic, proudly. "Loyalty and
attachment are alone of value in our eyes. Our sovereign power would be
weak indeed if obedience could be replaced by gold! But enough of this;
we can do without the Archbishop's assistance; our forces are strong
enough already to take the field! Tell me, though, what does he think
of the true head of the Church? We trust that he is not one of those
who compound with heresy?"

"Submission to the legitimate Pope is one of the first duties of a
prelate," replied Conrad. "But in the opinion of him who sent me
hither, it is not Victor but Alexander who has a right to the title.
The Archbishop has commissioned me to make this observation to your
Majesty."

"There it is again!" cried Frederic, "always observations!"

"Allow me, Sire, to lay before you the reasons which have influenced
the convictions of the Archbishop," said Conrad.--"Immediately upon the
death of Adrian IV., the Sacred College unanimously elected Roland, now
Alexander III."

"Unanimously?" interrupted Barbarossa. "If I recollect aright, all the
Cardinals were not present!"

"True, three were absent,--but two of them were held as prisoners by
your Majesty," replied Conrad.

"The answer is devoid of reason, my lord Abbot. Those two Cardinals had
incurred my displeasure. We merely invited them not to leave our
court,--but they could scarcely be called prisoners;--however,
proceed!"

"Alexander's energetic, inflexible character was known, and it was
decided to depose him. A powerful faction elected Cardinal Octavian,
and Alexander was forcibly expelled. In consequence of this, the
Archbishop Eberhard, and every other prelate who is learned in the
sacred canons, regard Victor's election as illegal, and look upon
Alexander as the legitimate Pope."

"This is strange!" said the Emperor, forced to blush before the
Abbot's arguments. "We certainly had never considered the question in
this light.--We will have to be influenced by the Archbishop's
opinion.--Hitherto we had thought differently. Your Metropolitan should
have explained before the Council of Pavia, to which he was convened,
the reasons which you have just advanced!--If we are in error, if we
have indorsed so far the Anti-Pope, it is your master's fault. We much
desire an interview with the worthy prelate, and regret exceedingly,
that we cannot at once profit by his experience. The more so that, had
he so willed it, this schism might have been long since ended."

The Abbot was dumb with surprise, but he still hesitated to give faith
to the entire sincerity of the Emperor.

"The schism grieves us much," continued Barbarossa. "The Defender of
the Faith, more than any one else, must deplore its continuance.
Hitherto we have done all in our power in order that Victor, whom we
supported, should be acknowledged by the whole Church. But what you
have just told us, as coming from the Archbishop, creates grave doubts
in our mind."

"In any case," said Rinaldo, timidly, "it would be well if His Eminence
of Salzburg should join the Court.--His presence alone would remove
many obstacles."

"Although in feeble health, the venerable Bishop will not hesitate
before the fatigues of the journey, if he were once assured that his
influence would effect the unanimous recognition of the true Pope!"
added Conrad.

"Let us hope so, at least!" replied the Emperor, and turning towards
Rinaldo, he added, "You will write to this effect to the Archbishop;
and, in the meantime, my dear Abbot, you are our guest."

He rose, and bowed graciously to the prelate, as a signal that the
audience was at an end; but the Abbot, preoccupied with Bonello's case,
after a moment's hesitation, began to plead in his behalf.

"Deign to excuse me, Sire, if I venture to implore your clemency for a
most unfortunate man. A Guelph knight, named Bonello, is to be hung
to-day. Spare his life, Sire, and in future he will no longer mix in
political strife, but devote himself entirely to the education of his
only daughter. She is almost a child, and needs a father's care; the
more so that her extraordinary beauty is in itself a grave danger to
one so young. If your Majesty desires to show me any favor, you will
listen to my earnest prayer."

The Emperor reflected for a moment.

"What you ask is impossible," said he; "the sentence must be executed!"

"Although your Majesty cannot pardon the traitor," said Rinaldo, "you
can easily offer him to the Archbishop of Salzburg's friend. Bonello is
only a Lombard noble; it would be an original present to a German
bishop."

Barbarossa divined the Chancellor's meaning, but he was inflexible.

"Not another word; the traitor must die!"

Conrad read in the Emperor's expression the uselessness of further
appeal, and he could only rejoice that he had been able to prolong,
although but for a few short hours, the life of the condemned. He might
at least prepare him for the great journey into eternity.

"Hasten to discharge your holy mission," said Barbarossa, "for
to-morrow at daybreak Bonello shall be hanged."

The prelate bowed, and left the tent.

"You should let the poor devil live," said the Chancellor, in a
discontented tone.

"The poor devil might live," replied Barbarossa, "but the rebel must
die;" and he took his place again at the table.

"If I aspired to the empire of the world, the blind goddess of justice
would be obliged to make more than one sacrifice on the altar of
expediency," remarked the Count of Dassel. "The Abbot Conrad solicited
the Guelph's pardon; Conrad is the friend of the Archbishop Eberhard,
and Eberhard is the soul of the Episcopacy."

"Must we purchase the loyalty which is ours by right, by making
concessions and granting impunity to crime?"

"Your Majesty's notions of justice utterly confound my poor wisdom,"
said Rinaldo respectfully. "At this moment I am in an awkward dilemma.
I see dangerous breakers ahead; a species of conspiracy against the
realization of your gigantic enterprise, and I neither dare to show the
peril nor attempt to avoid it. It is truly painful for a sincerely
devoted heart."

"Explain your meaning," said the Emperor.

The Chancellor rose and approached the table, his knit brows and eager
eyes wearing an expression of stern determination.

"Henry the Lion is Duke of Saxony and Bavaria," he continued. "He is
the most powerful lord of Germany. As a Guelph, his attachment to
Alexander is patent; we hold the proofs at hand. To conciliate Henry by
gifts of power or territory would be dangerous. Proud, haughty, and
ambitious, he can hope for nothing from you, and will naturally turn to
that faction which can offer him the most solid advantages. Even now,
perhaps, he may be only awaiting a plausible excuse for leaving the
Emperor and joining the party of Alexander III."

The Chancellor paused for a moment, as if expecting a reply; but he
received none.

"Henry the Lion is allied to the wealthy and powerful Berthold of
Z[oe]hringen," continued Dassel. "In the event of a rupture,
Z[oe]hringen also would be arrayed against us. Is the Emperor in a fit
condition to resist this coalition?"

"The assertion is a bold one, my lord, and yet I must confess that your
fears are not entirely groundless," answered Barbarossa.

"I have shown the danger to your Majesty; let me now explain how it may
be averted. The Lion espoused Clemence, a sister of the Z[oe]hringen;
by her he has no male issue. Now, to a prince who seeks to perpetuate
the glories of his race, there can be no condition more painful than
this, and it is even said to have caused more than one curious family
discussion. Should the Duke repudiate Clemence, your cause would be
gained; for by the very fact of the divorce he would be obliged to
break with Z[oe]hringen and Alexander, and become your partisan."

Frederic shook his head, as he replied,--

"This master-stroke of policy is not without its merit, but is the
proceeding honest or honorable?"

"Ah!" cried Dassel, "I felt sure that the Emperor's love of justice
would prove the only real obstacle to the success of the house of
Hohenstauffen. Ah, well!" he continued ironically, "we shall at least
be martyrs to the cause of justice."

The Emperor was silent; Rinaldo had wounded his conscientious scruples,
but the Chancellor spread out before him a parchment, and looked
steadily upon his sovereign, as he prepared to employ this last
terrible weapon.

"Henry the Lion is ambitious," said Barbarossa; "his strength and his
alliances make him really dangerous. But, your plan is a good one, if
it were feasible!"

"And why not, Sire? If the Emperor could divorce himself, what can
prevent the Duke? If I mistake not, you did not ask permission of the
Pontiff when, upon the pretext of consanguinity, you repudiated
Adelaide and married Beatrice. Think you that the Pope Victor will
hesitate to annul the Duke's marriage, if the Emperor so orders it?"

"Measure your words, my lord Chancellor! If I still hesitate, it is
because of the crying injustice of which poor Clemence would be the
victim. She is a noble woman!"

"Doubtless, and I pity her sincerely; but are the tears of a woman to
baffle your projects for glory and dominion?"

This remark terminated the discussion. The proud aspirations of
Barbarossa for universal Empire smothered every other feeling. He loved
power and fame, and to them he sacrificed every other sentiment.

"But the Duke's assent to our projects is by no means certain," said
he, less to discuss the subject than as & mark of his discontent.

"I will take care of that," said the Chancellor; "the Lion must be
speedily influenced to an open rupture!"



                             _CHAPTER IX_.

                           _FILIAL DEVOTION_.


The oftener Bonello saw his daughter, the more unwilling he became to
die. Alas! what will become of her, poor orphan, he thought. Then
again, at times, he turned to his project of her marriage with Nigri,
and felt reassured. But Pietro had so deeply wounded her feelings by
his violent and inconsiderate outburst, that he no longer desired that
union for his child. She might perhaps seek shelter in a convent! Yet,
in those times of civil strife, the walls of a cloister were but an
insecure protection! Whilst he lamented in the bitterness of his
thought, Pietro Nigri recommenced his wild harangue on the subject of
the expected pardon.

"I should be sorry, sir knight, to allow Frederic to suppose for an
instant that I feared death."

"Our positions are very different, young man," replied Bonello. "The
cares and sentiments of a father are often more potent than the
chivalrous heroism of a youth!"

"You should be able to master your emotions," said Nigri. "The ties of
mere human affection should be as nothing compared with the duties
which we owe to our country. If we fear the rope and the scaffold,--if
the approach of death is to excite our tears,--we will deserve, by our
weakness, to bear the German yoke."

"You really do yourself injustice, Pietro!" said the prisoner, glancing
towards the window where his daughter stood, anxiously awaiting the
return of the Abbot. At last she perceived some horsemen approaching
the eminence on which the fortress was built. It even seemed to her
that she could distinguish the monk's robe; but what meant those armed
men? Were they the Abbot's escort? Her heart beat violently. They drew
up at the foot of the hill, and the prelate, leaving his attendants,
ascended with hasty steps the path which led to the Castle.

"It is he!--he is coming--he is coming," cried Hermengarde, excitedly.
"See how the holy man hastens. No! his is not the air of a messenger of
evil; it is mercy and pardon that he will announce! My father!--oh, my
father!" said she, embracing Bonello, and smiling through her tears.

"You are right, perhaps, my child; but wait a moment."

"Oh! do not doubt it, it is certain! You are pardoned; a voice from
within tells me that I am right!"

The key grated in the lock, and the Abbot entered with a solemn and
dejected mien.

"I have come in person," he said, "to communicate the result of my
mission. I have only partially succeeded. Sir Knight. But the Emperor
has respited you for to-day."

The prisoner was not for an instant deceived by the mild form under
which the Abbot veiled his failure. But the childish sentiments of
Hermengarde did not take in at once the dread truth.

"Holy Father," said she, "your vague words alarm me. I implore you,
tell me clearly if the Emperor has pardoned my father?"

The prelate looked sadly at the young girl.

"At first the Emperor positively refused to listen to my prayers for
mercy; however, by my persistent supplications I have attained a
satisfactory result."

"Ah! only for to-day!"

"We may feel perfectly easy, dear child. To-day not a hair of your
father's head will be harmed!"

"But to-morrow!--Great God! what may happen tomorrow?" she cried, with
anguish.

"Trust in God, my child," said the monk; "he alone is master of the
future."

"Oh! unhappy creature that I am.--You hesitate to tell me the fearful
truth!--You dread my tears!--Do you not see, dearest Father, that my
eyes are dry?--that I am calm and resigned?--For God's sake, speak to
me!" cried Hermengarde. "This uncertainty is worse than death! I am
strong enough to bear anything but that,--we have no time to lose in
idle tears now. The few short hours that are left us must be spent in
trying to avert to-morrow's fearful doom!"

Hermengarde spoke earnestly, and her touching distress suggested a last
hope to the good Abbot.

"Your pleadings may soften the Emperor, my child," he said. "I will
gladly use my influence to get you to his presence.--You may be more
successful than I."

"You have failed! Then, indeed, all hope is lost," she cried,
despairingly.

"Calm yourself, my child," said Guido, "all is not lost yet."

"Oh! I am calm, my Father; my mind is entirely composed.--Reverend Sir,
take me at once, I beseech you, to the Emperor!"

And with wonderful stoicism she began her preparations; for though her
heart was wellnigh breaking within her, she had summoned all her
courage for this one last effort.

"Pietro," said she, after a moment's hesitation, "will you not come
with me?"

"Pardon me, noble lady, if I cannot accede to your request; the sight
of the tyrant has always been insupportable to me.--What will it be
now, when I behold you a suppliant at his feet?"

"Ah! Pietro, do not refuse me the support of your arm!"

"Fear not, my daughter," said the Abbot; "I will not leave you for an
instant. This young man appears too much excited, and we must act with
the greatest calmness!"

Hermengarde seized the prelate's hand, and they immediately left the
tower.

Conrad's retinue was composed of gentlemen of the Imperial household,
for Barbarossa always treated with great distinction all those whose
favor he wished to gain. As they descended the hill, Hermengarde's
beauty attracted the admiration of the knights, one of whom dismounted
as she approached, and respectfully held the stirrup for her to mount.
For her remarkable loveliness could not fail to conciliate the kind
feelings of all those who in that chivalric age treated woman with such
distinguished courtesy. The little band moved slowly along the main
road to the Imperial tent, for such was the bustle and movement that
their progress was more than once arrested by the crowd. Although for
the first time within the precincts of a camp, Hermengarde scarcely
remarked the tumult, nor noticed the looks of open admiration which her
beauty called forth from all, so entirely was she a prey to her own sad
thoughts. As they passed the tent of Henry the Lion, they met, the
Chancellor Rinaldo, who, richly dressed and surrounded by a brilliant
retinue, was about to pay a visit to the Duke.

"Whither go you thus, my lord Abbot?" he asked; "ah, well! I see you
are not easily discouraged; and in truth," he added, bowing to the
young girl, "your _protegée_ is worthy of your best efforts, to which I
sincerely wish you every success."

"The result would most certainly be successful, my lord," said Conrad,
"if my slight influence was but backed by you."

Rinaldo said nothing, but as he gazed on Hermengarde, his bold
imagination at once conceived a plan of which it alone was capable.

"My support is cheerfully offered, my lord Abbot," said he, after a
moment's silence. "As much through respect for you, as from interest in
this amiable young lady; but we must take every precaution, and not act
rashly. I have a trifling affair to arrange with the Saxon Duke, and
will then at once join you. Pray, in the meanwhile go into my tent."

The Count directed one of his attendants to show every respect to the
prelate and his suite during his absence, and then, after a few words
of cheer to the young girl, continued on his way.

"What a lucky meeting!" said the Chancellor, who never neglected even
the most unimportant circumstance. "The Lion can never look at this
girl calmly. She is rather young, it is true, and a few years more
would be in her favor; still, compared with Clemence, the Duke will not
hesitate an instant."

He had by this time arrived at the Saxon tent, and dismounting, he left
his escort in the ante-chamber, passing himself into an inner
apartment. Beckoning to a servant who was in waiting,--

"Can I speak with your master?" he asked.

"In a few moments, my lord! The Duke is at present with his family, and
desires not to be interrupted."

In the adjoining room he could hear the deep voice of a man mingling
with the gay laugh and joyous prattle of children.

"There is no hurry about it," replied Dassel.

And he paced the ante-chamber, seemingly immersed in grave thought, but
in reality listening to what was said in the Duke's chamber.

Henry the Lion was a bold and courageous monarch, ever occupied in the
extension of his territories. His dream was to unite under his sway all
the provinces of Northern Germany, as Frederic had done with those of
the South. Under the pretext of converting the heathen, he had been
engaged for many years in a war with the Slaves, but the aggrandizement
of his kingdom was a motive far more potent than could be the triumph
of the true faith.

The innovations attempted by Frederic in the affairs of the Church met
with little favor in his eyes, for he made no secret of his leanings
towards orthodoxy, and although, as a vassal of the Empire, he fought
against the Lombards, still in his heart he sympathized with their
resistance to the encroachments of the Emperor. He refused to recognize
Victor, the anti-Pope, whose slavish nature he despised, and whom he
openly treated with contempt as occupying a position to which he was
not legally entitled. It needed all Frederic's diplomacy to secure the
co-operation of the Duke in the struggle which he was about to
inaugurate, for Barbarossa had long felt the necessity of detaching him
from the support of Alexander III., and it seemed as though the crafty
Chancellor had discovered a sure means of success.

Whilst the minister was plotting his dishonorable combinations, the
Duke, all unconscious of the visit awaiting him, was seated in the
bosom of his family, Henry was a tall, powerfully built man, with dark
hair and eyes, a heavy beard, and a frank open expression upon his
sun-burned features. His remarkable strength had gained him the surname
of the Lion. He was impatient of all repose, and chafed bitterly at the
inaction to which the Emperor had condemned him.

Near him sat the Duchess, busied with her embroidery. Not without
personal and intellectual attractions, she was sincerely attached to
her husband, but the affection which he had once felt for the lovely
Clemence had long since made way for other sentiments. Honoring her
virtues, he could not but feel deeply mortified that he was without an
heir, and to his intimate associates he had more than once hinted at
the possibility of a divorce.

"Look, Clemence! what a fine boy our little Hildegarde would make,"
said the Duke, playing with the silken curls of the child who had
glided between his knees. "He would be old enough now to play with
arms, or sharpen arrows, and in a few years could fight by my side!"

"And perhaps die there, husband!"

"Our five daughters run no risk of dying a hero's death!" he replied
bitterly. "Ah! I would give the half of my left hand if one of those
girls were a boy!"

"Henry, do not cherish such gloomy thoughts. You make me tremble for
our future!"

"Never mind! a hand for a son!" continued Henry, with growing rage. "If
my death-bed could be surrounded by five sons, I should feel that my
toils had not been altogether unavailing. Ah! those five young lions
could complete the work which their father had begun, and their
combined efforts might defy the Emperor. But it is a painful, a
bitterly painful thought, that I shall die and leave to helpless girls
the great work which I have so painfully achieved."

Clemence let fall her work and gazed upon her husband; despite her
gentle nature and her sentiments of Christian resignation, she was much
depressed by his violent outburst.

"Pardon, dear Henry!" she said; "your views are selfish ones. He who
toils only for earthly fame, gives little thought to Eternity. In this
world, we should be contented with the consciousness that we have
always acted honestly and from noble motives!"

"A sad fate!"

"But the best, the most really meritorious! The true crown of glory is
eternal and unfading! What we accomplish on earth is often valueless
hereafter, for what then avails a lifetime spent in strife, and storms,
and troubles! I implore you, dear husband, do not question the decrees
of Providence; think less of earthly greatness, for pride leads to
forgetfulness of God, and to eternal perdition!"

"You are right," said the Prince, who had listened calmly while
Clemence was speaking, "if we are to measure honor's reward by what
comes after death; but I maintain that I would gladly exchange some
leaves of my heavenly crown, for the prospect of an earthly heir."

A slight noise was heard, the curtains were lifted, and Lanzo with a
serious face entered the room.

"Whence come you, knave?"

"From the gallows, godfather!"

"What! am I the sponsor of a gallows-bird?"

"You have no reason to be ashamed of it, cousin, since it appears to be
the fashion, nowadays, to hang honest people!"

"Who has been hanged?"

"Oh! just now, no one; but those who have the halter around their necks
are not always the worst off. It may be that your Grace or the Emperor
would send an honest citizen to execution; but, when the devil in
person leads a man to the scaffold, it is another thing!"

"You are not bright to-day, Lanzo!"

"And why not, master?"

"This stupid speech about the devil leading a man to the scaffold."

"My luminous idea was a true one, though," said the jester. "Would you
like me to show you one of Satan's tricks?"

"I am somewhat curious; let us see."

"Be good enough then to open wide the eyes of your understanding, for
he who is blind in spirit, although carnally lucid, cannot discover the
wiles of the demon. The works of his diabolical Majesty are, like
Beelzebub himself, of a spiritual essence. The first and chief agent of
the devil is--guess what, cousin!"

"What do you mean?"

"Pride! Whenever Satan can entangle a man in the meshes of pride, it is
all over with him! Pride rises, and aspires to rise. Let us suppose
that our individual is a duke, he covets the Empire; and to accomplish
his purpose, would destroy every barrier to his ambition, even were it
necessary to be guilty of a crime. Should he be an Emperor, he desires
the power of God, and even the Pope must be his humble vassal. If you
look around, cousin, you can see for yourself, that is, if your eyes
are worth anything. Should the proud man have an excellent wife, whose
only fault is that she has not borne him a son, the poor creature
becomes a martyr, for pride has no respect for the feelings or rights
of others, and only dreams of seeing his own power and glory reflected
in the persons of his descendants, long after his own flesh has become
the food of worms!"

The Duke started, and turned towards his wife; but Clemence seemed
absorbed in her work and heedless of the fool's discourse.

"Shall I show you some more of the devil's tricks, cousin?"

"No! I have had enough for to-day!"

"His diabolical Majesty has not only snares and pitfalls to catch
fools, but also executioners to hunt them up! If I mistake not, one of
these gentry is about to pay you a visit, cousin! Come, I will show him
to you, but take good care of yourself, noble Lion!"

The prince looked anxiously to where Lanzo pointed, for he knew that
his jester often veiled really serious truths beneath the semblance of
frivolity.

"Here is His Majesty's servant!" said the fool, as Rinaldo entered,
with a smile.

"Forgive me, my lord, for thus disturbing your family party for a
moment; I could not resist the temptation of being the messenger of
good news!"

"You are welcome, my lord; and these news are?"

"That to-morrow we break camp, and march upon Milan."

"At last!" cried the soldier; "it is, indeed, good news that you bring
me. Camp-life is demoralizing, and we should have finished long since
with our enemies!"

"So I have urged," replied Rinaldo. "His Majesty wished at first to
await the arrival of the Austrian duke, but your counsels have modified
the plan. I must really admire your influence over one who is so little
patient of advice or control. Your Highness is as great in the council
as in the field."

[Transcriber's note: Initial text of paragraph missing--possibly "The
Duke was ..."] secretly flattered by this homage to his pride. "My
observations have only served to develop the great military talent of
the Emperor."

"With an ironical smile, scarcely perceptible around the corners of his
mouth, Rinaldo answered,--

"A monarch is none the less great, because he listens to reason and
follows good advice! But I have come to summon your Highness to a
council of war, in which the plan of campaign against Milan is to be
discussed. It will be very select, and only a few princes and prelates,
who are experienced in the art of war, will be present."

"At what hour?"

"So soon as you shall have arrived?"

"Halloa, without there! my cloak!" cried the Duke.

"Oh! there is no need of such haste!" said Dassel. "Before starting, I
must solicit a favor of your Highness."

"On what subject, pray?"

"Oh, a mere peccadillo! But, by your leave, I would make my confession
in secret."

As they entered an adjoining room, Lanzo hurriedly concealed himself
behind the hangings, as though this presumption was one of his
privileges.

"What is the matter?" asked the Duke of Rinaldo, who stood before him
with down-cast eyes, and an appearance of irresolution and
discouragement.

"I am really a guilty man," said the Chancellor, after a moment's
silence. I meant to await a more favorable occasion; but--I was an
unwilling listener to your conversation with the Duchess, and much as I
dislike to interfere with your domestic happiness, I have been unable
to restrain myself.--That you, the most powerful prince of the Empire,
should be without an heir to your glory--so mighty a tree, full of sap
and vigor to remain barren--truly, it is a sad reflection!"--The Lion
raised his eyes upon the Chancellor, whose face wore an expression of
deep chagrin.

"A sad reflection, say you!--A man must learn to carry the burden which
he cannot shake off!"

"Which he cannot?--Very true, _if_ he cannot; but, for my part, I have
imagined that this accident, so fatal to your race, might be remedied.
Mayhap, it will need great strength of mind on your part, or even some
violence?" said the tempter, in an insinuating tone.

"Nothing more?"

"I cannot now say! The Emperor's first wife was childless; he divorced
her and married Beatrice. This union has been blessed with a numerous
progeny."

An expression of mingled regret and anger passed over the features of
the Duke, who sat twisting his beard, in silence.

"Frederic could do it;--Adelaide was his relative!"

"Oh, that was the pretext, I know," said the Chancellor; "but we can
easily find another equally good; and it is certain that the Pope
Victor will gladly yield to a demand made by the Emperor, or even,
indeed, to your own request. If consanguinity were a substantial ground
for a divorce, it seems to me that the extinction of a noble house
would be quite as valid a plea. Do not let this matter drop. I feel
sure that your Grace will pardon my indiscretion and importunity."

"There is no indiscretion, my lord! It is not the first time that I
have pondered over this matter; but it is strange, how different an
almost familiar thought appears when couched in words!"

"It is merely the realization of our long cherished desires," said the
statesman but he thought within himself,--"It is a remorse for an evil
deed!"

For a moment the Duke was silent, and then, with his eyes turned
towards the ground, he resumed,--

"I agree with you, that my marriage has become insupportable to
me; but to commence the affair, and to carry it to a satisfactory
result,--hum!--I think that rather comes within the scope of your
talents and intelligence, my dear Chancellor!"

"With pleasure!--You can count upon me in every way," replied Rinaldo,
and, for once, he spoke the truth. "But, in the first place, it will be
necessary to secure the Emperor's consent, and, through him, that of
the Pope. Perhaps, to-day you may have the opportunity of discussing
the matter before four competent persons,--will that suit your Grace?"

They left the room. Henry called for his cloak, and sword and helmet.
Lanzo was seated on the ground, playing with his bells.

"Cousin!" said he, looking up, as they approached, "have you forgotten
all about the snares of the devil?"

As if to increase the Duke's remorse, Clemence and her children entered
the room. The Duchess had heard her husband and hastened, according to
the old German custom, to bring him his sword and helmet. The
Chancellor bowed low before the princess, and his calm and smiling face
gave no presage to the noble lady of the misfortune which menaced her
happiness; but Henry, less skilled in dissimulation, averted his gaze,
as he said,--

"You should not take this trouble, Clemence!"

"It is ever my pleasure to serve my noble husband," she replied,
presenting him his helmet.

The Chancellor's visit alarmed her, for she knew the violent and
impetuous temper of her lord, and she feared lest some misunderstanding
might arise between him and the Emperor.

"Where are you going, Henry?" she asked. "Are you summoned to His
Majesty?"

"Summoned,--no; that is to say, yes. I am summoned to a Council of War
about to take place;" and, in company with the Chancellor, he left the
tent.

"Great God! what is the matter?" said Clemence. "I have never seen him
thus!"

"Nor I neither," replied Lanzo, who was still seated upon the ground.
"He looks marvellously like a man whom the devil is leading to the
gallows!"

"What a fearful speech, Lanzo!"

"What a wicked man, Clemence!"

"Do you dare to speak thus of your master, Sirrah?"

"Oh! I have given him up, noble lady, and have entered your service;
for, methinks you will soon have grievous need of a faithful servant!"

"Why so?"

"Why so?--hum!--the why would only worry you. Never question a fool too
closely, noble dame, for fools tell the truth!"

"But I would know the truth, Lanzo!"

"Good! Then pray for your husband."

"I have already done so, to-day."

"Then do it again."

"But why?"

"Because he is in bad company, and needs your prayers!"



                              _CHAPTER X_.

                             _THE TEMPTER_.


Frederic awaited Dassel's return, in a state of feverish anxiety for
the success of his mission. He had carefully pondered over his
Chancellor's proposition, and he now dreaded lest the refusal of Henry
to the contemplated divorce might interfere with the realization of his
cherished projects. The very possibility of failure was painful to him,
but when the Chamberlain announced the Duke's arrival, he dissembled
his agitation and advanced cordially to meet him.

"Are you at last satisfied, my dear Duke," said he, motioning to a
seat.

"Certainly, I must be satisfied," replied the Duke, who seemed uneasy
and dispirited.

"The princes will be here shortly, and we will open the Council without
delay, for the measures against Milan must be decided upon at once.
This proud and rebellious city shall feel all the weight of our
displeasure,--our own opinion is in favor of utterly destroying this
hot-bed of treason, and we trust that your Grace thinks with us."

The Duke remained silent, his eyes still fixed upon the ground.

"My plan is the result of mature deliberation," pursued Barbarossa;
"but we would listen to your counsel."

"As your Majesty pleases," replied Henry.

The Emperor glanced towards Rinaldo, who answered by a look of
astonishment.

"Your Grace seems out of spirits;--you will, I know, pardon my remark,"
said Frederic, cordially. "I trust that you have received no bad news
from the Duchy, or that you have no domestic annoyances!"

"Domestic annoyances, only, Sire!" said Rinaldo.

"How so?"

Dassel read in Henry's silence, an invitation to take upon himself the
explanation of the affair, and he began to paint in gloomy colors and
with crafty skill the misfortune of the Duke, who, with all his power
and renown, was doomed to leave no posterity to reflect his greatness
and his fame.

"These sad facts have been the subject of our interview," he said.
"Your Majesty will readily appreciate the natural despondency of a
prince who looks beyond the present and who labors for ages yet
unborn!"

"Really, I am deeply grieved," said Barbarossa, "but I can perceive no
remedy. It does not seem as though Clemence were destined to realize
your Grace's desires."

"Pardon my boldness," said Rinaldo, "if I venture to allude to your
Majesty's course of conduct in a similar conjuncture."

"Very true! but every husband cannot, in the same case, do as I have
done," said Frederic.

This remark was calculated to excite the pride of the Duke, who had
always regarded Barbarossa as the main obstacle to his own desires of
personal aggrandizement.

"The Emperor must fully understand and examine my position," said
Henry, raising his head proudly. "I must observe that, were our cases
reversed, your Majesty would meet that courtesy from the Duke."

"Particularly from the Duke of Saxony and Bavaria, who does not idly
bear the title of 'the Lion,'" added Frederic. "But, in truth, the
business is serious and difficult; and although the reason assigned for
the divorce appears a valid one, it is not in our power to pass
judgment. Pope Victor alone enjoys this prerogative."

The last observation was judiciously calculated. It was necessary that
Henry should understand, positively and clearly, that it was only
Frederic's Pope, who, upon the Emperor's order, would pronounce the
dissolution of the marriage. He wished to be assured of Henry's
defection from the party of Alexander III., from whom the Saxon prince
had nothing to hope in the matter of the divorce. Frederic gazed at him
attentively, for the Lion's silence appeared an encouraging omen, as he
hitherto had been a zealous supporter of the claims of Alexander III.
to the throne of St. Peter.

"We doubt not," resumed Barbarossa, after a moment's silence, "that his
Holiness, upon our representations, will be persuaded."

"I would solicit your Majesty's intervention in this business, that it
may be brought to a satisfactory conclusion as speedily as possible,"
said the Duke.

"As we have been ourselves in a similar position, we shall be able to
advance most excellent reasons for its immediate solution. But I would
advise that the Duchess be not informed of our project; it would cause
her unnecessary pain, and a woman's tears must not influence in anyway
the course of events."

The Chancellor seeing that his plot was progressing favorably, withdrew
to seek for Conrad and his fair charge. He was anxious for
Hermengarde's success, but less through pity for her misfortune than in
the hope that it might further his own vile schemes. He found them in
his own tent, which stood close by the Imperial pavilion. Hermengarde
was seated in a corner of the apartment, gazing first at the sky and
then towards the entrance, where she eagerly watched for the
Chancellor's return. She trusted that her tears and entreaties would
soften the heart of the Emperor. The monk had opened his breviary, and
was praying, as Rinaldo entered smiling at the success of his plot
against the Saxon Duke. He approached the young girl, and said
kindly,--

"Pardon me, noble lady, if I have made you wait. In cases like yours,
all depends upon choosing a seasonable moment. I think that moment has
arrived."

These words awakened her hopes; but the thought that in a few moments
her father's fate for weal or woe would be decided, took away her
courage.

"Do not be alarmed; all will be well. Have no fear, and when you are
before the Emperor, speak as your heart dictates. In such a case, that
language is always more eloquent than studied words."

"Have you any hope?" asked Conrad, who sought to read the statesman's
thoughts.

"Most excellent, my dear Abbot. The Emperor, I am positive, will grant
Bonello's pardon. But hasten! and when you are summoned, lose no time."

He said a few more kind words to the young girl, and then left the
tent. Meanwhile Frederic passed into the council-chamber, where the
nobles sat discussing the siege of Milan and the future fate of the
city. Obizzo, chief of the Italian auxiliaries, inveighed bitterly
against the tyranny of the Milanese, and insisted upon making them
submit to the same severe measures which they had inflicted upon Lodi.
Obizzo's neighbor, dressed in full episcopal robes, and with a sword by
his side, scarcely listened to the Italian's arguments, but watched
eagerly the door of the Imperial chamber as though awaiting the
presence of the monarch. It was Bishop Gero, of Halberstadt, elevated
to that dignity by the powerful will of Barbarossa, in spite of all
laws and justice, after the banishment of Bishop Ulrich.

That worthy prelate had sought refuge with the primate of Salzburg, and
as Gero had heard of the arrival of the Archbishop's envoy, he began to
fear the loss of his benefice. The bishops of Osnabruck and Minden,
creatures of the Emperor, also spoke in favor of extreme measures. The
Count Palatine, Otho of Wittelsbach, always impatient of long speeches,
found Obizzo's harangue tedious, and began to grow angry. At this
moment was heard the deep voice of Henry the Lion, the curtain was
drawn aside, and Barbarossa, accompanied by the Dukes of Saxony,
Bohemia, and Rottemburg, entered the room. Behind them came the
Chancellor Rinaldo. The nobles bowed respectfully to the Emperor, who
seated himself upon the throne prepared for him, whilst they placed
themselves in a half circle before him. On his entrance, the Chancellor
had arranged the curtains so as to leave a small opening, behind which
stood an attendant awaiting his orders.

"Reasons of grave moment have decided us," said Barbarossa, "not to
await the arrival of the Duke of Austria, but to march, to-morrow, upon
Milan. With God's help, it will be for your gallantry to punish the
crimes which this city has committed against justice, against the
supremacy of the German nation, and against the Majesty of our own
person. Conscious of their guilt, as they must be, these rebels cannot
expect a war according to the dictates of generosity, but one of
extermination. We desire to know whether our trusty allies agree with
the expectations of our adversaries. The question then is this: shall
the campaign be carried on with inexorable severity, or does the enemy
deserve that we should exhibit a certain leniency, and a respect for
persons and property?"

Henry the Lion, to whom belonged the right of speaking first, reflected
for an instant. His chivalrous disposition did not sympathize with this
war of extermination proposed by the Emperor, and a similar thought
could be read in the countenance of the Duke of Rottemburg and the
Count Palatine Otho.

The schismatical bishops, who understood at once that Barbarossa had
determined upon the total destruction of the city, bent their heads in
token of adhesion. They could scarcely wait for the moment of the
ballot, so eager were they to give signs of their obedience. Obizzo
moved impatiently upon his chair, unable to understand the hesitation
of the Duke of Saxony.

"I came here with my Saxons and Bavarians to fight against the enemy,"
said the Lion; "to punish the rebels, and to make them acknowledge your
sovereignty. But all this can be accomplished without laying waste this
beautiful country. Why destroy their vines, uproot their trees, ruin
their crops, burn their villages and hamlets? I am no partisan of
useless cruelty."

"In other circumstances we would agree with you, noble Duke," replied
Frederic; "but we think that Milan should receive the same treatment
which she has inflicted upon other cities."

The Margrave Obizzo could no longer keep silence.

"Why show mercy to the scourge of all Lombardy? Milan has shed torrents
of innocent blood, and has left to her victims only the choice between
death or slavery! Yes," he cried, "Milan has a thousand times merited
her destruction. And what I advance here, my lords, is not merely my
individual opinion, but the sentiment of all Lombardy."

Obizzo's arguments coincided with the desires of the Emperor, but as he
was about to continue, the latter stopped him by a look.

"You have not exaggerated, Margrave," said he, "but your emotions have
carried you, perhaps, too far. What is your opinion, my Lord of
Rottemburg?"

Although at heart opposed to the destruction of Milan, a punishment, in
his opinion, much too severe, this prince was too anxious to conciliate
the Emperor's favor to venture upon a remonstrance, and he yielded an
immediate assent to the monarch's views.

The Duke of Bohemia likewise voted in favor of sack and pillage.

"And you, Count Palatine?" again inquired Barbarossa.

"I share the opinions of Duke Henry!" replied Wittelsbach; "the enemy
should not have cause to think us savages!"

"If you wish to gain the enemy's good graces, my dear Count, you must
treat him more gently in battle!" said the Emperor, recording the
votes, which, as might have been expected, were in accordance with the
Imperial wishes.

The Duke of Saxony dropped his heavy sword, with a loud crash upon the
floor, and twisting his long beard, glared angrily upon the vile
courtiers.

"You are not obliged to conform to the decisions of the Council," said
Frederic, endeavoring to calm the Duke's anger; "we will trust to your
own discretion in your relations with the enemy.--But," continued he,
"some one must inform the Abbot of St. Augustine, whose monastery is
near Milan, that he must solicit us to spare his convent and its
dependencies. Those monks are determined opponents of His Holiness Pope
Victor, and warm partisans of the Cardinal Roland."

Henry was about to say a word in defence of the Abbot, and urge that
religious discussions were scarcely a valid reason for burning a
monastery; but he reflected at the impossibility of obtaining from
Alexander III. the dissolution of his marriage, and he was silent.

"Those monks are your Majesty's most dangerous enemies," said Obizzo;
"they continually excite the people and kindle the spirit of rebellion,
on the pretext that your Majesty robs the Church of her liberty, and
seeks to submit everything to your power."

Rinaldo here made a sign to the attendant, who immediately disappeared.

"As far as I know," said Werner, Bishop of Minden, who never let pass
an opportunity for the display of his learning, "those monks follow the
rule of St. Augustine, which Rule, Book II., chap. 12, forbids them
expressly, taking part in worldly affairs, and recommends study and a
life of contemplation."

"Pardon," interrupted Barbarossa, who feared a learned dissertation,
"St. Augustine's rule has no connection with the question now before
us."

"Certainly," said the prelate, humbly; "the rule has no connection with
the rebellion. I merely cited it to show that I heartily approved of
the punishment of the Augustinians."

"It seems to me," said Gero, Bishop of Halberstadt, "that these monks
richly deserve punishment, since they have refused to acknowledge the
Pope appointed by the Emperor, to whom belongs, by immemorial custom,
the right of nominating the Roman Pontiff. For this reason alone, if
none other existed, the followers of St. Augustine deserve to be
treated as rebels."

Not a voice was raised in defence of the poor monks, and it was decided
that their monastery should be destroyed.

The Emperor was returning his thanks to the princes for their able
counsels, when the silken curtain which closed the entrance to the tent
was thrown wide open. On the threshold stood the stately form of the
Abbot Conrad holding by the hand the trembling Hermengarde--a shrinking
girl by the side of a gray-haired man. Near them stood Erwin, the
Emperor's godson; for the youth, touched by the girl's misfortunes, had
hastened to offer his services in her cause. His relationship to
Barbarossa permitted him to follow the Abbot to the council-chamber,
where he intended to use every effort to advance the cause of the
unhappy Hermengarde.

The Emperor appeared surprised and annoyed, the presence of the Abbot
and his charge explained the purport of their visit, and a sombre frown
augured ill for their success; but the nobles who were present could
not but sympathize with her grief.

"Pardon, Sire," said the Abbot, bowing respectfully to the Emperor and
the nobles; "my faith in your generosity emboldens me to plead, once
more, in favor of the unfortunate. Before you stands a wretched
daughter, whom the father's death will leave a helpless orphan, at a
time when a fierce war is raging throughout the land. Will not your
Majesty deign to lend an ear to pity?--it is a virtue which becomes a
monarch, as much as justice."

While Conrad spoke, Hermengarde had fallen upon her knees; but spite
all her efforts, she could only falter out--

"Pity--mercy!--for the love of God! Be merciful!"

Barbarossa remained seated; his scowling gaze turned upon the Abbot.

"You might have spared yourself this effort, my lord Abbot," said he
violently; "do you imagine that a woman's tears could succeed, where
your arguments have failed?"

"I had hoped it, Sire. It is natural to the human heart to be touched
by the tears and prayers of the innocent. I hoped for nothing less from
your Majesty's!"

They were alarmed at the bold demeanor of the Abbot, but the Lion bowed
his head approvingly, and Barbarossa's scowl deepened. During the
scene, Rinaldo had narrowly scanned the Duke's countenance, as if to
mark the effect produced upon him by the remarkable beauty of the fair
suppliant. But the crafty statesman was wrong if he imagined that a man
of the Lion's character could be ensnared so easily. Had the Duke given
any indication that the plot so skilfully imagined would be successful,
the Chancellor would have urged Bonello's cause, but Henry's
countenance remained impassive. Hermengarde was still upon her knees
weeping bitterly, and her face hidden in her hands. At times she looked
upon the Emperor, striving to collect her thoughts, but the stern face
of the monarch appalled her.

"Pity!" she cried. "Spare my father's life; he regrets his crime! Oh!
pardon him!"

"Enough of these lamentations!" said Barbarossa; "let some one lead
this woman hence!"

The Bishop Gero hastened to comply with the Emperor's wishes, whilst
the latter explained to those present the crime of which Bonello had
been guilty.

"If you consider our sentence unjust, speak, and the criminal shall be
released," said he.

"Bonello is a valiant soldier, although he has drawn his sword in a bad
cause," replied Otho. "Still, I implore you to pardon him for his
daughter's sake."

"Pardon him, Sire. I fear your sentence may cause the death of two
persons," said Henry, pointing to the pale and trembling Hermengarde.

"This time justice must take its course," answered Barbarossa.

"The sentence is perfectly just," added Werner, of Minden. "Who would
deserve death, if traitors were allowed to go unpunished?"

The two other bishops nodded in token of approval; they never dissented
from any apparent desire of Barbarossa.

"You perceive, my lord Abbot, that it is impossible for us to
pardon----"

He interrupted himself abruptly at the sight of Hermengarde, who fell
fainting upon a chair.

"Enough of this, my lord Conrad, you may withdraw," and he motioned
that they should take away the girl.

At this moment Erwin advanced, already deeply interested in
Hermengarde's suffering; his godfather's stern refusal to her appeals
affected him painfully. Bowing to the Emperor, with a bright flush upon
his face, he said,--

"Pardon, Sire, if I venture to recall to Your Majesty's memory the
recent battle, and the promise then made to grant me a favor."

"Ah! I trust that you will not make an improper use of my promise,
Erwin?"

"An improper use--no, upon my honor. The favor which I now solicit,
Sire, is the life and liberty of Bonello, this young girl's father."

"Is this petition serious, Count?" said Barbarossa, turning to him,
angrily.

"It cannot be more so, Sire," answered the young man, promptly.

"Reflect well, boy, on what you ask," said the Emperor, fiercely. "Do
not play with our promise--it is sacred; but----"

And he raised his right hand menacingly.

"If my petition were dictated by egotism, it might be considered an
abuse of your Imperial promise; but I merely solicit the life and
liberty of a man whose protection is necessary to his daughter's
happiness. In this I merely perform an act of humanity, and perhaps of
chivalry."

"Well," said Barbarossa, after a moment of angry silence, "since you
persist in a demand which we cannot refuse, be it so! Bonello is free!
But you, Count Erwin of Rechberg, for the improper use to which you put
our word, we withdraw from you our favor. You are banished from the
Court----"

He did not conclude, for Erwin, almost stupefied with astonishment,
threw himself at his feet, and taking the monarch's hand,--

"Sire," said he, "in pity, withhold this sentence--do not banish me
from your presence--at least not now! Let me remain near you--you who
are so menaced with perils on every side. Ah! let me still continue to
watch over your precious life, and prove to you my gratitude for the
almost paternal love and care which, until to-day, you have ever shown
me! As a boy, I played upon your knees; it was from you I learned to
use the sword and the lance; you have been to me a second father! Ah!
my beloved godfather, do not send me into exile! Without you I care not
to live!"

The touching prayer of this devoted heart produced its effect upon the
monarch, from whose face all sternness gradually passed, to give place
to an expression of a more kindly nature.

"Rise," said he; "you are a great flatterer, Erwin! It may be, too, a
crafty knave! What think you, gentlemen?"

The nobles were somewhat surprised at this exhibition of feeling on the
part of their sovereign, but their satisfaction was evident. The
Emperor continued,--

"We must not give any evidence of weakness, and as a punishment for the
great interest which you have shown in favor of this culprit, you shall
be banished, for a week's time, from our camp. This punishment will
enable you to conduct to her home, the damsel whose cause you have so
chivalrously advocated."

Emotion and fear at first did not allow Hermengarde to take in all the
details of the scene. But when the youth came to tell her of her
father's pardon, her joy and gratitude knew no bounds. Rising
hurriedly, she would have thrown herself at the Emperor's feet, but he
waved her away impatiently.

"You have no cause to thank me," he said. "Farewell, madam; this
business has wearied us!" He signed to her to withdraw, and Conrad,
Rechberg, and Hermengarde left the tent.



                             _CHAPTER XI_.

                             _THE JOURNEY_.


Erwin thought it advisable to accompany Bonello and his daughter until
they had reached a place of safety. Well aware of the dangers of the
road, and the bitter party feeling throughout Lombardy, he feared lest
the old man might lose his life, were he to meet any of the soldiers
from Lodi, Pavia, Cremona, or the other cities which were leagued
against Milan. He therefore procured a strong armed escort to protect
his friends in case of attack. Whilst the Count of Rechberg was making
his preparations, Hermengarde and the Abbot hastened to the castle to
communicate the glad tidings of their success to the prisoner, who, in
a transport of joyful emotion, threw himself upon his daughter's
breast, with tears of pious gratitude. The Abbot looked on calmly.
Pietro Nigri, as though he regretted that the tyrant had granted his
old friend's pardon, gazed on in gloomy indifference. After the first
moments of their joyful greeting, Guido requested to be informed of the
details, and the Abbot Conrad related the scene which had taken place
between the Emperor and the young Count.

"Where is the noble youth?" asked Bonello; "why did you not bring him
here?"

At that moment was heard the clatter of horses' hoofs, and the clank of
armor, in the castle-yard, and Erwin, hastily dismounting, made his way
towards the tower. Bonello watched him anxiously; and when the Count,
in brilliant armor, entered the room, he rushed towards him, seized his
hand, and fell upon his knees.

"Most excellent young man!" he cried; "you are my preserver! may God
reward you for your kindness to my child! Heaven grant me the power to
prove to you my gratitude! Anything which you may ask of me shall be
yours. May God bless and keep you."

The old man spoke in a voice choked with emotion. Erwin interrupted
him, for he was pained to see Bonello at his feet.

"Rise, my lord, I beg of you. Your thanks overwhelm me. I have only
acted as any other gentleman would have done, in my place. I merely
crave the favor of accompanying you to your home."

At this new mark of kind consideration, Bonello was about to utter
further words of gratitude; but the Count interrupted him by the
announcement that all was ready for their departure. They left the
tower, and entered the court-yard of the castle, where stood
Hermengarde's palfry, and a splendid courser for her father. The
parting between Bonello and the Abbot was touching; they embraced one
another, and the prelate returned to the camp. Pietro Nigri mounted
sullenly, glancing haughtily upon the young girl, and contemptuously at
her father.

"Farewell, lady," he said; "I wish you every happiness. As to you,
Sir," he added, "I sincerely trust that you may never have cause to
regret the life which you owe to a tyrant's mercy,--a life destined to
be passed unprofitably, for all that concerns the honor and well-being
of your country."

He dashed off before Guido could reply, and the others hastened to
leave the castle, where some of them, at least, had suffered so
acutely.

At the foot of the hill, they struck towards the south, and then
diverged from the main road. Erwin was anxious to please his guests,
and readily yielded to Bonello's guidance. The latter was perfectly
familiar with the country, and desired to avoid any meeting with the
Italian soldiery. For, though firmly resolved never to draw his sword
again, he was pained at the sight of so many Lombards hurrying to join
Barbarossa's legions and attack Milan, the most important bulwark of
Italian independence, so they took a cross road which speedily led
them to the summit of the plain. Every precaution had been taken
against the marauders who then infested the country. In front, rode
two men-at-arms; then came Rechberg, followed by Hermengarde and her
father, and four other troopers closed the rear of the escort.

"We must hasten," said Guido, "in order to arrive before nightfall at
the monastery of San Pietro; it will be sufficient for the first day's
journey, and by starting at dawn to-morrow, we shall reach my castle
before the evening."

Erwin had wished to learn some of the particulars about Bonello's
family, and he at once profited by the present opening.

"Only by to-morrow evening?" said he; "then your castle must be near
the Lower Alps?"

"In their very midst, Count; in the very heart of the Alps," replied
Guido. "If, as I suppose, you like mountain-castles, mine will please
you. Years ago, when I visited Germany, I used to admire your
fortresses perched upon the craggy peaks, like immense eagles' nests.
The evident disposition of the Teutonic nobility to shun the cities and
low grounds, and occupy the heights, is a mark of sound judgment. Our
ancestors, also, knew how and where to build their strongholds. Did you
ever see Castellamare?"

"Is that your dwelling?"

"Yes," answered Bonello. "The Romans from whom I am descended, erected
the fortress, and it has been in my family from time immemorial."

"Doubtless, during your absence, your son commands in the castle?"

"I have no son," answered the old man, somewhat sadly.

"That pale-faced young man, who was with you at Cinola, is perhaps one
of your relations?"

"Pietro Nigri? Oh, not precisely, but almost!" Here the young girl's
horse plunged violently.

"Take care, my child; your horse seems inclined to be troublesome,"
said Guido. "Pietro," he resumed, "is the son of the Milanese Consul
Nigri. He is a most worthy young man; he was my daughter's escort to
Cinola."

They approached the monastery, around whose walls the twilight mist was
slowly rising. Still, from afar, could be seen the dark red windows of
stained glass; and the gilded cross upon the tower, illuminated with
the rays of the setting sun, shone bright through the evening haze.
Bonello gazed eagerly upon this glad haven of rest, as they hastened
forward.

At the sound of the bell, a grating was drawn aside.

"Open, open, brother Ignatius!" cried the lord of Castellamare to the
monk, who examined the appearance of the visitors. "We wish a lodging
for the night, and a flask of your best wine."

Soon a key grated in the lock, the gates opened, and the little
cavalcade rode into the court-yard.

"You are most welcome, my lord," said Ignatius, cordially; "pardon me
if I have made you wait. We are obliged to be most prudent, for the
country is filled with marauders, who have little respect for the
sanctity of our poor cloisters. Your arrival here is truly gratifying
to us all; but we regret our superior's absence."

"Where is he?"

"In Genoa."

"I am extremely sorry," said Guido; "for we might have talked together
until matins."

The horses were led to the stables, and a lay brother conducted the
travellers to the refectory. Several long benches and tables, two
comfortable arm-chairs, a handsome crucifix upon the wall, and a bronze
_aspersorium_, composed all the furniture of the room. Seating himself
in one of the arm-chairs, Guido at once entered into conversation with
the lay brother, whose mission it was not only to receive, but also to
entertain all visitors to the convent.

"The holy Abbot is at Genoa, you say?" inquired Bonello. "He absents
himself so rarely that there must have been grave reasons for his
journey."

The monk glanced distrustfully at Erwin, and was silent. Rechberg
concluded that the Order belonged to Alexander's party and had incurred
the displeasure of the Emperor. The repast was soon brought in, and the
tired travellers partook eagerly of the three copious dishes. The
servants were entertained in another room. The rest of the evening was
passed in conversation; but Bonello made no allusion to political
affairs, and the monk imitated his example, although it was evident
that he would gladly have spoken of the German army and the perils now
menacing the Church. But the presence of the young nobleman imposed
silence upon his curiosity.

Erwin felt this reserve the more so that he feared lest Guido might
suspect him of repeating to the Emperor what he had already overheard.
He would gladly have talked with Hermengarde, but it seemed as if she
meant to model her conduct by her father's, and all his attempts to
engage her in conversation were ineffectual.

"She considers me the enemy of her country," he thought; "perhaps
avoids me as a heretic. At least she might remember what I have done
for her sake."

The idea was painful to him, and he was heartily glad when they
separated for the night. Next morning they resumed their journey. The
summits of the Alps grew more distinct, and Hermengarde's spirits
appeared to brighten as they approached her home. She conversed gayly
with Rechberg and asked many artless questions about Germany and its
inhabitants, and he was charmed with the interest she evinced in his
native land.

"Have you any mountains like those in Germany?" said she, pointing to
the Alps.

"Yes, lady; and our mountains are covered with forests in which roam
the stag, the roebuck, and the wild boar; but the bear, much to the
delight of the traveller and the chagrin of true hunters, becomes every
day more rare.

"Bears! but is it possible that any one can regret the disappearance of
those fierce animals!"

"Oh! a bear-hunt has its charms!"

"Very dangerous ones, I should think."

"But it is precisely on account of their danger that this sport is
attractive, fair lady. To slay a timid stag requires little courage,
but a struggle with the bear needs both bravery and skill. The
bear-hunt is the school in which we take our first lessons in the art
of war."

The Count's earnestness proved that he spoke of one of his favorite
pastimes.

"In what part of Germany is your domain, Count?" said Hermengarde,
after a short pause.

"In Suabia."

"If I mistake not, Suabia is the birthplace of the Hohenstauffen?"

"Precisely, noble lady! The castles of Hohenstauffen and Rechberg are
neighboring ones. Our families have always been intimate and are even
connected by ties of blood."

Erwin almost regretted his last remark when he reflected that his
relationship with Barbarossa would be a poor recommendation in the eyes
of the young Lombard.

"I fear that our journey will be unpleasantly interrupted," said
Bonello, who, for some time, had been watching a gray speck on the
summit of the mountain.

"In what way, sir knight?"

"Do you see that castle? It is the dwelling of the Emperor's prefect,
Herman, who is in charge of yonder bridge. He is a cruel, bad man, and
levies tolls to suit his own pleasure, particularly when the travellers
are wealthy or of high rank. He has on several occasions seized upon
persons and held them prisoners until a high ransom has been paid for
their release."

"But this is a crying injustice," said the Count, "and should be
reported to His Majesty, who would punish Herman severely for his abuse
of power." Bonello shook his head, with a smile.

"Herman merely executes the Emperor's orders," said he. Rechberg looked
at the speaker with astonishment. He was loth to believe that such an
insult to his sovereign were possible. Bonello resumed,--

"Barbarossa knows perfectly well all about his deputy here, but there
are other exactions of which I believe him still ignorant. He has
reduced several families to utter beggary, and when he can squeeze
nothing more out of them himself, he sells them to the Jews. This is
what he calls 'balancing his accounts.' I have known instances where he
has stretched the poor wretches on the rack to extort from them their
last pennies. In short, this Herman, the terror of the country, is a
disgrace to humanity. But there are other deputies of the Emperor in
some of the cities, who are equally merciless in their exactions."

"I can scarcely credit your statements," replied the young Count; "but
I feel sure that upon the first complaint of such enormities Frederic
would interfere."

"You make a grave mistake," said Bonello. "I have personally
represented the facts to the Emperor, but in vain; his invariable
answer has been, that it was the duty of his agents to collect the
taxes and imposts, and if they were obliged to resort to extreme
measures, that it was doubtless the fault of the inhabitants who
refused to pay their dues."

They rode on in silence. The young Count was dejected, for he began to
perceive that it was natural for men like Bonello to resist such an
arbitrary exercise of tyranny.



                             _CHAPTER XII_.

                              _THE TOLL_.


They reached the bridge. On either side were two massive towers, over
which floated the Imperial standard. Heavy barriers closed the pathway,
and a strong body of men-at-arms defended the approach. Halfway from
the bridge, on the summit of a lofty hill, stood the castle of Herman,
built to command the road, which, as the main avenue to Genoa, was
extensively travelled, and yielded an important revenue to the Imperial
treasury. The castle had been destroyed by the Italians, during the
reign of Henry V., but had been rebuilt by Frederic, at the time of his
second invasion of Upper Italy, at which time Herman had been installed
as Governor.

The soldiers were clustered beneath the porch; but a sentinel was
watching from one of the loop-holes of the tower, and as he caught
sight of the travellers, called out gayly to the others, "Halloa!
comrades, here comes a rich prize: a Lombard knight, some Genoese
merchants, and a lady! Levy a heavy toll, _Dietho_, they can afford to
pay it; and if you will follow my advice, you will get something for
us; the Emperor cannot find fault if honest folks think now and then of
their own pockets!"

The challenge of the sentinel interrupted him, and the soldiers left
the porch and drew up in front of the tower.

"What is that you say about merchants?" said Dietho, glancing sharply
at the strangers. "These are no merchants, but a troop of armed men."

"Pshaw!" continued the first speaker, as he looked again. "There are
only six,--two before and four behind; for I don't count those in the
middle. It is only some of those lazy Genoese. And we are twelve here,
and pretty determined fellows too! Now, Dietho, don't forget to lay it
on heavily!"

"We will lay it on heavily," said another; "for since yesterday we have
had no luck at all."

Dietho, who wore the purse at his girdle as a sign that it was he who
received the tolls, carefully examined the travellers, but he seemed
discontented, and shook his head.

"There is nothing to be made here; these people advance too boldly. I
believe they are Germans."

"Well, and what of that," said the warder, who had descended from the
tower. "No one passes here gratis."

"What do you say, Dietho? Do you think a piece of gold each for the
gentlefolks, and two silver pennies for the servants, would be enough?"

Dietho shrugged his shoulders.

"It would be enough," he said; "but I fear they will refuse to pay it."

"Then we will force them!" cried several of the soldiers, brandishing
their pikes. "A piece of gold for each gentleman, and two pence a piece
for the servants, is little enough!"

Rechberg had left Hermengarde's side, and at the head of his little
troop rode forward to ascertain if Bonello's complaints were really
well founded. As he approached, his noble bearing and costly armor,
with the splendid horse which he rode, gave a high idea of his
importance to the men-at-arms.

"Look how his gilded helmet shines," said they, "and mark the gold on
his spurs and his baldric; he is certainly a count, at least; or,
mayhap, the son of some duke!--Oh! that fellow can pay, Dietho; ask at
least three gold pieces!"

Rechberg continued to advance towards the closed town, whose guardians
made no movement towards opening the passage.

"Take down the barrier, and allow me to pass," he said, politely.

"One moment, noble sir!--Don't you perceive that the Imperial banner
floats above the tower? There is a toll to pay. Frederic would find it
a hard matter to keep up his army if his taxes were not paid up!
Besides, his Hungarian Archers need their wages. In short, the times
are hard and the toll dear!"

The Count was provoked at the observations thus made, for they were of
a nature to incense the Italians, and render the Emperor still more
unpopular among them. However, he mastered his anger, and asked what
there was to pay.

"Four gold pieces!" cried a voice, for Dietho hesitated.

"All right, you hear, four gold pieces, on account of the hard times,"
added Dietho. "The lady and her companion will also pay eight more, and
each servant two pence, in all twelve gold pieces and twelve pennies!
Little enough, too, if you but think what an army Frederic is
organizing at present."

"As well as I remember," said Erwin, "the legal toll is a penny for
each person. By what right do you raise it a hundredfold?"

"I told you once already," replied Dietho;--"it is because the times
are hard."

"Besides, we are not here to give explanations to milk-sops," said a
voice from within. "Pay, or leave the bridge!"

"Miserable hound! do you dare to speak thus to a knight?" cried Erwin,
passionately. "Here are your twelve pennies; now clear the way!"

"The varlets may pass," said Dietho, coolly pocketing the money; "but
for the others to cross this beautiful bridge, which has cost so much
money to build, there are just twelve pieces too few!"

"If you do not do your duty at once," said the knight, laying his hand
on his sword, "I will compel you."

At this, the guard burst into a loud laugh of derision.

"Come on then," they cried; "if that is your game, we will give you a
lesson in arithmetic."

Rechberg was disposed to force the passage, but Bonello hastened to
interfere.

"Have no difficulty with those people," he cried; "I will pay what they
ask!"

"No! you shall not," said the Count. "This robbery of travellers, in
the name of the Emperor, is a crime which must not go unpunished. Leave
me; it is a meritorious action to chastise such scoundrels!"

All at once Herman appeared; he had overheard the quarrel, and now came
to give assistance to his men.

Erwin lowered his visor, for the prefect knew him, and the young man
wished to be positive of his complicity.

"What is the matter?" asked Herman.

"It is fortunate that you are here, my lord," replied Dietho. "This
young man has been threatening to use his sword against us because we
would not allow his whole party to cross for twelve paltry pennies."

"For twelve pennies!--You and your retinue!--You could not have
seriously thought it," said Herman to the Count.

"Twelve pennies are just the legal tax, for we are but nine persons in
all."

"Ah!" said the prefect; "perhaps you mean to teach me my duty, and what
I have the right to ask?"

"The law has fixed the tariff sufficiently."

"Has it, indeed! Dietho, what did you charge this gentleman?"

"Twelve pieces of gold for the three nobles, and twelve pennies for the
servants.--Pardon me if my demand was too moderate."

"It was, indeed, too moderate," cried Herman, glancing towards
Bonello.--"You traitors have compelled the Emperor to cross the Alps,
and now, if I am to judge by your lowered visor, you wish to force the
bridge!--Very well, come on. We are ready for you!"

The Count, at last fully convinced that the Governor was as guilty as
his soldiers, raised his visor, and showed his face flushed with anger.

Herman was thunderstruck, and could scarcely falter out,--

"Oh, my dear Count, pardon! I crave you a thousand pardons! It is all a
mistake,--but who could have supposed for a moment--?"

But the more he endeavored to apologize for his villainy, the more
embarrassed he became. The soldiers, meanwhile, perceiving the sudden
change in their master's demeanor, hastened to remove the barrier.

"It is not my place to pardon," said Rechberg; "you must explain your
gross abuse of authority to His Majesty, who shall be acquainted with
everything."

He turned abruptly, and crossed the bridge with his companions.

The prefect tore his hair with impotent despair as he saw the troop
file past him.

"To behave thus to the Emperor's favorite! What a dreadful misfortune!"
he cried. "Comrades, make no excuses, no recriminations! I would not
care for the complaints of Italy. Frederic would credit nothing which
was denied by an honest German. But this Erwin of Rechberg!--Oh, if I
could atone for this stupid mistake!"

The travellers soon after reached a convent, whose reputation for
hospitality was widely spread; for, in that century, the monasteries
were the best, and indeed, almost the only hostelries.

After a brief rest they resumed their journey, and it was near
nightfall when they entered a deep and narrow Alpine valley, through
which they were obliged to pass.

"We are very near Castellamare," said Bonello, "and but for the
windings of the road, should already have perceived the castle!"

"This is a magnificent country, my lord!" said Erwin, admiring the bold
and wild landscape.

"It is almost the same as far as the shore," resumed Guido. "The valley
gradually narrows into a defile overhung with immense masses of rock,
and when we leave it, the wide expanse of the sea bursts, unexpectedly,
upon the traveller's gaze."

The road narrowed visibly. The setting sun gilded the Alpine summits,
and long, dark shadows darkened the lower slopes. At a turn of the
road, the sunlight flashed brightly upon them, and Erwin, raising his
dazzled eyes, beheld the fortress of Castellamare standing out from the
giant boulders in bold relief.

"What a magnificent spectacle!" exclaimed Rechberg. "I have never seen
a castle in a better or more commanding position!"

Following, for a short time, a steep mountain-path, they drew up before
a gateway, hollowed in the solid rock, and soon after entered the
fortress of Castellamare.



                            _CHAPTER XIII_.

                            _CASTELLAMARE_.


Rechberg's visit to Castellamare opened to him a future replete with
new hopes and desires and fond aspirations. He resolved to study
attentively the character of his young hostess; and, if the examination
proved favorable, to demand her father's consent to their marriage. But
he experienced a cruel uncertainty, when he reflected upon the possible
opposition of the Emperor.

On her part, the young girl made no secret of her gratitude to the
Count. The memory of his kindness to her father rendered her cordiality
perfectly natural.

Her attentions to Erwin were delicately prompted by a wish to make his
visit as agreeable as possible. With a keen appreciation of the
beauties of nature, she knew how to select the fairest landscapes, and
would point out to her guest all the most brilliant effects of light
and shade among the lofty crags.

After a week had passed in amusements of this kind, on their return
from a neighboring excursion, Hermengarde and the Count found the
court-yard filled with horses and men-at-arms fraternizing, cordially,
with her father's retainers. Evidently some persons of importance had
arrived, but the appearance of their steeds denoted that the visit was
to be a brief one.

As they crossed the court, Hermengarde remarked a familiar face among
the troopers; the man looked up, and, putting down the goblet from
which he was drinking, approached with a respectful bow. She at once
recognized Cocco Griffi, whom she had known as a confidential servant
of the Milanese consul Gherardo Nigri, in whose palace he was often
intrusted with many important duties.

"Is that you, Griffi?" she asked. "Whence come you?"

"From Milan."

"And whose suite is this?"

"It belongs to our noble Consul Gherardo Nigri--your old friend,--if I
may still venture to call him so?" added Griffi, seeing Hermengarde's
expression change.

A marriage between herself and Pietro had long been projected by the
heads of the two families; but, in spite of her father's anxiety for
their union, it was repugnant to her, and she hurriedly retired to her
own apartments, with a heavy heart. Still, for the present, the
businesslike appearance of the little troop seemed a guarantee against
the realization of her fears.

Gherardo Nigri, the leading spirit of the Milanese Republic, had been
hastily recalled from Genoa, where he had been for some time
negotiating an alliance, offensive and defensive, between the two
cities. The report of the immediate advance of the Emperor's powerful
army greatly discouraged him; for, fully penetrating Barbarossa's
designs, he foresaw, in a not far distant future, the fall, and perhaps
the total destruction, of his proud city. Similar fears agitated all
those who had accompanied him to Castellamare. Among them was one, in
ecclesiastical costume, whose exterior indicated a personage of
importance. This was Galdini Sala, Archdeacon of the Cathedral, and
destined, as Archbishop of Milan, afterwards to play an important part
in the history of his country. By nature taciturn and reflective,--his
eyes usually downcast,--Sala became animated and bold whenever it
became necessary to assert the rights of the Church, which alone could
resist human passion and the encroachments of Imperial despotism.
Consequently, Galdini's opposition to Barbarossa was more than violent.

"The circumstances are most serious," said Bonello; "but we must not
forget that God alone is the arbiter of human destiny. Barbarossa seeks
to unite in his own person the spiritual and the temporal power; but we
have seen others, as bold and powerful as he, fail in the like
attempt."

"You are right," replied Gherardo; "no power can subdue the Church. The
papacy is eternal,--as immovable as the rock on which it is built, and
which, God has promised, shall endure forever. But, alas! dear Guido,
what fearful disasters must result from the strife which is now
preparing!"

"It would be easy to prove," said Galdini Sala, "that the Church has
never had an enemy so dangerous to her peace as this same Barbarossa.
From the times of Nero until the conversion of Constantine, the bloody
tyrants strove only to tear away her members. Frederic does not tear
away; he stifles! his deadly work is the more dangerous, that it is
wrought in silence. The Pagans would have overthrown Christianity, in
order to prevent their own conversion; but this despot seeks to destroy
the order of things which has existed for centuries. The Roman Emperors
sought to protect and save their own paganism. Frederic would subvert
the Christian world, in order to build up, upon its ruins, his own
Imperial omnipotence."

"I am not well versed in history," said Count Biandrate, a secret
partisan of Barbarossa; "but I know of other emperors who were
decidedly hostile to the Papacy: Henry IV. for example."

"True," replied Sala; "but the Church has saved the world from
destruction. The military operations of Henry IV. against her were
terrible; his hatred for the Papacy, beyond all bounds; but Barbarossa
is still more to be feared. In him you see none of that cruelty which
marked Henry's conduct; on the contrary, he appears frank, and
generous, and brave, and he well knows how to surround himself with all
that can flatter the eyes. So far, he has not attacked the Pope, sword
in hand; but he holds his nets ready to throw over Spain and England,
Germany and France, in order to ensnare all Christendom in his baneful
schism. It is to this end that he never ceases to proclaim his regret
for the sorrows of the Holy Church, and his great desire for the
acknowledgment of the legitimate Pope, and the downfall of heresy. All
hypocrisy, diabolical equivocation!" cried Sala, angrily; "it is he
himself who has caused the schism; it is he who has wounded the unity
of the Church, in order the more easily to destroy her. He seeks to
control everything,--to become the master of the Universe,--and will
brook neither a superior nor an equal!"

"Your words, my lord Archdeacon, are harrowing, but they are not
exaggerated," said Nigri. "And it is the more to be regretted that many
refuse to see their peril. Genoa, through jealousy of Milan, is
wilfully blind and will not reflect that the time may come, when she
too will feel the yoke. Barbarossa is skilful in taking advantage of
these dissensions between us Lombards. His policy is to destroy, one by
one, our cities; so that Italy may count none but insignificant
villages, submissive to his Imperial supremacy."

"According to my belief," said Guido, "I repeat what I have already
declared:--God alone holds the destinies of the world in his power.
What Barbarossa tries now, many others have attempted, but the efforts
of all have proved abortive; Frederic will not be more successful.
Then, dear friends, trust in God, and do your duty; the rest will come
in good time."

At these words he raised his goblet, the others imitated his example;
but in spite of his efforts, the meeting was disheartened and
depressed, and shortly after the consul observed that it was time to
think of their journey.

"We have no time to lose," said he, "for there is much to be done in
Milan; it will be hard enough to resist the attack."

They mounted to return to the city, and Bonello watched from the
window, the little troop as it wound through the valley.

"Farewell, dear Gherardo," said he sadly; "perhaps this has been our
last meeting! How gladly they hasten to shed their hearts' blood for
their liberty, their Church, and their country! while I, unhappy
wretch! am doomed by my promise, to sloth and inaction!"

The cavalcade disappeared from his gaze, and he reentered the family
room, when Count Rechberg communicated his intention of leaving the
castle on the following day.

"Why this haste, Count?" said Guido. "I trust that you have had no
cause to regret your visit?"

"Oh! by no means, but I must go. The Emperor granted me only eight
days' leave of absence, and I must not exceed them."

"You have no cause for such haste," resumed the Lombard, sadly. "Milan
is well supplied with everything, and her fortifications are strong.
Months may elapse before Barbarossa can take the city."

"The Emperor's will is energetic," replied Erwin.

"Oh! I well know that iron will!" said Guido. "Frederic will destroy
the works, and reduce the citadel by famine; but still before this
happens, many weary days will pass. Some months hence, you will still
be in time for the fighting. Stay with us. We will go to Genoa
together, and look upon the wonders of that proud city; we will visit
her churches, her magnificent palaces, her dock-yards, and her fleet;
there is much there to repay you for the journey, and, if you wish it,
we can cross over to Corsica."

But nothing could influence the youth's resolve, although it was with
deep regret that he left Bonello and his daughter; both of whom
reiterated their warmest thanks.

"Permit me, dear Count, to offer you a trifling souvenir," said the
lord of the castle, drawing a heavy gold chain from a casket. "Wear
this in remembrance of me, and may our friendship ever remain as pure
and true as this noble metal! Have you nothing, Hermengarde, to give to
our worthy friend?"

At these words, the young girl took from one of her waiting-women a
richly chiselled cup of gold, on whose cover was sculptured St. George
trampling upon the Dragon.

"Deign to accept this slight mark of our friendship and gratitude!"
said she.

"I trust, my dear Count, that we shall meet again ere long," added
Guido. "Milan is not far distant, and an excursion to our mountains
will break the monotony of your camp-life."

"I will gladly avail myself on every possible occasion of your
invitation," answered Rechberg. "Farewell, dear Bonello; God keep you,
noble lady!"

And as she extended him her hand, he knelt and kissed it.

Guido accompanied his guest to the court-yard, and in a few moments,
the hoofs of the knight's charger were ringing upon the drawbridge of
the castle.



                             _CHAPTER XIV_.

                              _THE SIEGE_.


Erwin was soon able to realize the devastations committed by the
Emperor's army. In the place of smiling hamlets and rich villas,
nothing could be seen but smoking ruins; the fruit-trees had been
uprooted, the vines pulled up, the crops laid waste. Here and there
were the bodies of peasants swinging from the trees, the ground was
strewed with booty abandoned carelessly by the marauders. The plain
once so green and smiling, appeared as sad and barren as a Russian
steppe.

This desolation afflicted. Erwin painfully, and he rode rapidly forward
to escape the mournful spectacle. Soon could be seen the tents of the
Imperial camp, with the varied standards floating proudly above the
sharp roofs of the canvas city. The vague hum of the multitude was
mingled with the clang of arms and the strains of martial music, and
the noise of the workmen in the trenches. From the elevated point on
which he stood, Erwin could distinguish the beleaguered city with its
mighty walls above which towered the brilliant edifices and lofty
turrets. As he gazed with admiration upon the town, Rechberg could not
but experience a feeling of sorrow at the thought that all this
greatness and power was doomed to destruction. After a short ride he
found himself in the interior of the camp, where it was easy to
perceive that he was almost entirely surrounded by the Italian
contingents.

The complete investment of the city was impossible, and Frederic, in
consequence, had established four distinct attacks, surrounded by
strong palisades and deep ditches as a protection to the sorties of the
besieged. Although, at intervals of distance, the camps commanded all
the avenues of approach, and it was impossible for the garrison to
receive any supplies or reinforcements, or hold any communication with
the exterior. As it had been decided to reduce the place by famine, a
rigid blockade was enforced, and the different leaders were relieved
from the necessity of constructing any of those clumsy machines, under
cover of which in those days the assaults upon the works were
conducted. However, Henry the Lion had ordered the building of an
immense tower whose proportions excited general astonishment. It was
upon wheels, six stories in height, and could accommodate beneath it a
thousand soldiers. The upper part was narrower and provided with doors,
through which the garrison could pass, by means of temporary bridges,
on to the walls of the city. Sorties from the town were of almost daily
occurrence, and the personal hatred of the combatants gave to these
engagements a most sanguinary character. Whilst the Italians were
engaged in this work of mutual self-destruction, Frederic was preparing
to submit them all to his Imperial sway.

While the besieged were ready to suffer every extremity in defence of
their sacred rights, the greatest agitation reigned in the camp of the
Italian auxiliaries. Sworn enemies, for years detesting each other,
they were now compelled to live in the forced proximity of a narrow
camp. Leagued together by their common hatred for Milan, the old leaven
still, at times, broke out into open violence, and it required the most
stern and almost cruel severity of the Emperor to preserve anything
like order among them. Frederic had learned, by experience, that fear
was the only master whom they would obey.

Rechberg perceived an immense crowd of strangers pressing towards the
vast open space in the middle of the encampment. Jousts and military
games were, in that age, so much the fashion, that, even under the
walls of a beleaguered town, a place was set apart for the purpose. But
on this occasion it seemed as though the crowd's attraction had another
motive than mere amusement. Frederic's banner floated in the air, and
the Imperial eagle fluttered bold and haughty above the multitude. On
horseback, in the midst, stood a herald in a scarlet tabard and with a
silver-mounted truncheon in his hand, and immediately behind him, a
man, who, in a few weeks' time, had become the terror of the Italians.
It was Hesso, the chief of the Imperial police, surrounded by his men
fully armed. He glared fiercely upon the crowd.

"What does that blood-thirsty dog want here?" was muttered on all
sides. "See how he is looking for some new victims! the poor devils
whom he hung this morning are hardly cold, before he wants to begin
again!"

Although Hesso could not understand their words, he could read their
thoughts.

"You hate and fear me, do you!--Ah well! there's no love lost between
us," he growled, with a still fiercer expression in his eyes.

The loud blast of the trumpets resounded, and the herald commanded
silence. Thousands awaited with trembling anxiety. The man of the
scarlet tabard made another sign; but still the dull murmur went on
unceasingly; he raised his truncheon, and when, after many efforts,
silence had been enforced, he proclaimed, in a clear and distinct
voice, the wishes of the Emperor.

"In the name of our sovereign liege, listen to the punishments to be
enforced against all evil-doers. All fighting in the camp is strictly
forbidden. Should the offender be a knight, his arms will be taken from
him, and he will be expelled from the army. If he is a varlet, he will
be flogged, his head shaved, and his shoulder marked with a red-hot
iron, unless his master redeems him by the payment of fifty pennies."

The herald paused to give his hearers time for reflection. The first
article had produced a bad effect upon the Italians, who were
accustomed to great license in respect to their personal quarrels, and
on all sides black and angry glances were exchanged.

"Flogged, shaved, and marked with a hot iron, for that trifle!" said
the crowd. "It is too severe!"

"Do you hear that, Migleo?" said a voice. "He values us at fifty
pennies a piece--it's absurd!"

The herald again commanded silence.

"If any one wounds a soldier, he shall lose his hand; whoever kills one
shall be decapitated!"

"I say, Migleo, what would you look like, with a shaved head?"

"Don't you think, Robbio, that in the course of a fortnight, the most
of us will have neither heads nor hands? For my part, it is as
impossible for me to keep my hands off a Pavian, as it is to meet a
chicken without wringing its neck?"

"And I can't look at a Novara man, without wanting to spit in his
face," said a Pavian, who stood by; and it was with difficulty the two
were kept from fighting, even under the eyes of Hesso himself.

"Silence, fools!" said Robbio; "do you want to get into the
executioner's clutches, already?"

"For the first theft, a varlet shall be flogged, shaved, and marked
with the iron; for the second, he shall be hanged!" added the herald.

"There is one omission in the law about theft," said a voice. "It is
forbidden to the varlets to rob, but there is nothing said about the
masters. What would happen if the offender were a count, a duke, or a
king?"

"Silence," cried another voice, whose piercing tone bore a great
resemblance to that of the jester Lanzo. "Don't you know that the
nobles never steal? they merely indulge their illustrious desires!"

"Whoever shall hold any communication with the Cardinal Roland, falsely
styling himself Pope Alexander III., shall be put under the ban of the
Emperor; it is permitted to kill him wherever found!"

"Do you hear that? to pillage is not to steal; the Emperor can permit
anything."

"Alexander is the true Pope; Victor is the anti-Pope; is that not so,
comrades?"

"Certainly. Long live Alexander!"

"Whoever shall obtain supplies for the Milanese, shall lose his hand;
the informer shall be rewarded."

This last article, although the most barbarous, met with general
approval among the Italians, who only found fault with the punishment
as being too mild. They forgot the iron yoke under which Frederic kept
them, to remember only their hatred for their detested rival Milan.

"Long live the Emperor! Down with Milan! Death and destruction to the
Milanese!"

The trumpets again sounded, and while the soldiers gave free vent to
the expression of their hatred, the herald and his escort left the
ground.

Rechberg had listened to the proclamation, and would have pursued his
journey, but the dense crowd forced him to remain and hear the
imprecations lavished upon the Emperor, as soon as Hesso was out of
sight.

"Laugh on!" thought the young man. "You may laugh as much as you
please, but you will not be able to violate those orders with
impunity."

At this moment, two asses' ears ornamented with bells, approached the
Count. Lanzo, with a good deal of difficulty, had elbowed his way
through the crowd, and had gained a neighboring spur-post, where he
climbed up, and then sprang, with the agility of a monkey, upon the
Count's stirrup; a moment after, he was behind his saddle. The crowd
laughed and applauded the jester's activity, and Rechberg allowed him
to retain his seat, for he saw nothing impertinent in the proceeding of
the fool, whose loyalty he esteemed, and whose jests would serve to
amuse him.

"Whence come you, Lanzo?"

"From the fulfilment of my duty, noble Count."

"Yes; but how?"

"How? I have only just discovered it; I had no positive end in view,
until now. But I perceive, my lord, that your mission is of vast
importance. The Emperor, the Pope, and the kings, are very
insignificant personages compared with you."

"And why so, Lanzo?"

"Because you have the court-fool behind you!"

"But I cannot see in that an omen of greatness."

"Oh, I will explain, if you will only try to understand me!" said the
jester. "I will begin with the Pope, that is, providing Victor be
really the Pope,--a matter, about which some quite sensible people
begin to doubt. For the last two years, Barbarossa has been holding
council upon council, and yet all of them together have not succeeded
in proving that Victor is the Pope. This establishes clearly, either
that Victor is a fool, or else that he is a puppet of the Emperor,
since he is so ready to accept what Alexander refuses. If he had any
brains, he would know that an honest monk is better that what he is."

"You have a bad tongue, Lanzo."

"Possibly! But you will see that it tells the truth. Then we have the
king of England and the king of France. They are fools too. I made the
reflection when I saw their ambassadors kneel before the Emperor. If
they had brains, they would guess that Frederic means to catch them
all, one after the other, in his nets."

"You are a statesman of wonderful foresight, Lanzo!"

"Of course I am; my ears show that;--and then, the Emperor is as mad as
the others.--But, I forgot.--Ah! after all I cannot see that there is
much harm in having a madman for one's godfather! If Frederic were
wise, he would not try to conquer the world. He is getting ready to
swallow Milan, the head of Italy. After the head, the rest will come
easily enough; but it is a food not easily digested. The earth belongs
to God, and not to the Emperor, and one of these days Frederic's
madness will draw upon himself the wrath of an avenging God."

"Well spoken, Lanzo! you ought to be a member of the Emperor's
Council."

"God preserve me from it! my honesty would be exposed to too sore
temptations.--But I see in the steel of your helmet a little sprite
which mocks at me. My argument has a weak point, then?--Tell me, where
did you get that splendid gold chain?"

"Why do you ask me?"

"Answer me first."

"From the knight Bonello,--him whose cause you espoused so warmly."

"Tell me, my lord, how did it happen that you became so deeply
interested in this traitor's misfortunes? All the camp was astonished
at the boldness with which you braved the Emperor's displeasure. No one
but you would have risked his sovereign's anger to save a traitor's
life. Was it craft on your part, or wisdom?"

"How dare you ask such questions? Is it not our duty to aid all who are
unfortunate?"

"Well answered! But the sprite in your helmet is mocking at me again, I
fear you have not told me all the truth. When you pleaded Bonello's
cause, had you no other motive than pity?"

"You are right."

"Ah! I have a little intelligence sometimes!--Bonello has a
daughter!--Some men of sense saw her without being dazzled--that is,
another species of madness! I would ask some more questions, if I were
not afraid that your steel scabbard might make an intimate acquaintance
with my back."

"Still, you are not going to stop there?"

"Certainly not, if I may go on!"

"Go on, then!"

"Well," said the little man, "your heightened color confirms what I had
already more than half guessed! But have you reflected on what you are,
and what this girl is? I am afraid, in this, you have acted
inconsiderately. Go to your godfather, and ask him permission to marry
the daughter of ----, a traitor!"

Erwin's countenance changed.

"Ah, how pale you become!" said Lanzo. "You see, dear Count, wise
men should always look to the issue of their projects. But don't be
down-hearted; this Lombard angel is still only a child, and, in a few
years' time, things may change a good deal." And he sprang to the
ground.

"You are not leaving me thus, Lanzo? Methinks, a light collation, with
me, in the Imperial tent, should not be refused."

"Many thanks, Count! Believe me, there are other things to be done in
Barbarossa's tent, besides giving lodgings to a poor devil."

And Lanzo turned boldly to the pavilion of Henry, the Lion.



                             _CHAPTER XV_.

                            _THE ANTI-POPE_.


Although Lanzo was merely the Duke of Saxony's buffoon, the Count could
not but feel very uneasy, as he thought of their late conversation. The
allusions to his intimacy with Bonello annoyed him, and he felt
surprised to think that hitherto he had been blind to all the
difficulties in which his position as godson to the Emperor had
involved him. For it was highly probable that Barbarossa would refuse
his consent to any alliance between him and the family of Bonello.

Under the influence of these reflections, Rechberg proceeded through
the camp, without at first remarking the extraordinary calm which
pervaded everything. The deserted streets and empty tents seemed to
indicate that the troops were on some expedition, but when he
approached the tent, or rather the palace of the Emperor, he saw on
each side of the road both knights and men-at-arms drawn up in order of
battle. Frederic's tent and all those in its vicinity were decked with
flowers and ornamented with rich carpets, and Erwin soon learned that
it was for the solemn reception of the pretended Pope Victor, whose
entrance into the camp was already heralded by a full flourish of
trumpets.

In the eyes of the young Count, Victor was merely an illustrious and
important personage, for he could not admit his claims to the Papal
throne, which, of right, belonged to Alexander III. He knew Victor's
irresolute character, and as his very appearance was disagreeable to
him, he decided not to present himself to the Emperor until after the
ceremonies of the reception were concluded.

The Emperor had taken infinite pains to receive his Pope with becoming
pomp; not because he wished to honor the head of the Church, but
because he thought it expedient to give as much importance to the man
whom he considered necessary to the accomplishment of his own projects,
and with this view all the actions of the Emperor manifested a profound
respect for the Head of the Church. He rode on his left hand, a little
to the rear, as though he did not presume to put himself on an equality
with the chief of Christendom. Barbarossa wore a scarlet doublet, over
which was thrown the Imperial mantle, clasped with gold links and
silver crescents. On his head was the crown, and in his hand the
sceptre. His face was dignified and composed, and as they neared the
camp and the crowd could judge better of his movements, he was more
demonstrative in his attentions to the Anti-Pope; whose hand never
ceased from blessing the bystanders.

Victor's tall stature, his bearing, and even his costume, were rather
those of a temporal prince than those of a spiritual shepherd. Over his
shoulders hung a scarlet robe, richly embroidered in gold, and on his
long curling looks was placed the triple crown of Rome; his features
reflected the pride and arrogance of his disposition.

Immediately after the Emperor rode Henry the Lion, the Dukes of
Austria, of Bohemia, and of Rottemburg, and the Landgrave of Thuringen,
followed by a brilliant array of princes and nobles. The escort was
preceded by the military band, which marched, with a flourish of
trumpets, about a hundred yards in advance of the Pope. But, although
on all sides there were soldiers and martial standards, there was no
religious display, no religious banners or chants; not even a cross was
to be seen; for Victor's entry to the camp showed plainly that he was
but a creature of the Emperor, from whom he derived all his pomp and
greatness.

Frederic dismounted before his tent, and following an ancient custom,
came forward respectfully, to hold the Pope's stirrup. But here the
Cardinal Octavian, for such was his real title, showed an utter want of
tact. Affecting to be deeply engaged in conversation with his immediate
attendants, he permitted the Emperor to remain too long in his
humiliating posture.

Frederic colored up with anger and mortification, while his Chancellor
smiled with inward satisfaction. Rinaldo had long advised the
discontinuance of this idle and useless ceremony, but the Emperor, with
more foresight than his minister, judged that the moment was not yet
ripe for the abolition of a custom which seemed to establish the
supremacy of the chief of Christendom.

At last Octavian dismounted; he took the monarch in his arms and gave
him the kiss of peace, and then, turning towards the assembled
multitude, he gave them his benediction, and entered the Imperial tent.



                             _CHAPTER XVI_.

                         _THE EMPEROR'S SLAVE_.


The first service which Barbarossa exacted of Victor, was the solemn
excommunication of Alexander III., and his partisans, in presence of
the army, and in front of the walls of Milan. A few days after his
arrival at the Camp, an immense tribune, draped with black cloth, and
provided with numerous seats, was erected at a safe distance from the
city. In the centre was an elevated platform, and behind this a throne
for the Emperor, whence he could communicate his desires to the various
speakers. Thousands of soldiers from all parts of the Camp surrounded
the tribune, and a crowd of curious spectators lined the towers and
walls of the city.

At the appointed hour, the Emperor, the nobles, the false Pope, and the
prelates, ascended the platform and took seats according to their
respective rank. Alberic, the Pope's chaplain, first, in a noisy
harangue, explained the object of the assembly. He denounced Alexander
and his adherents as heretics, and extolled Victor as the legitimate
Pope.

Lighted tapers were then handed to the nobles and the clergy; and
Octavian, mounting the pulpit, began to recite, in a voice trembling
with passion, the usual lengthy formula of excommunication, at the
close of which, as the sentence of malediction was thundered out, the
Emperor, nobles, and clergy extinguished their candles.

This solemn farce, enacted by Frederic's orders, in the immediate
vicinity of a city whose inhabitants were enthusiastic partisans
of the cause of Alexander, was received by the Milanese with shouts
of derision; and scarcely had the anathema been uttered when a
speaking-trumpet was heard upon the walls.

"Octavian," it cried, "wrongfully surnamed Victor, slave of the
Emperor, we scorn your maledictions.--Heaven blesses whom you curse,
and curses whom you bless!"

Few of the soldiers present had ever before heard a speaking-trumpet,
and these words seemed supernatural, while the distant echo gave
credence to the speedy realization of the prophecy. But Frederic, more
enlightened, skilfully parried the blow, and aware of a report which
had been circulated latterly, that an angel had descended from heaven
to curse Victor and his partisans, he looked on in scornful silence,
while the crowd broke out in clamorous surprise.

Suddenly a straw effigy of the Pope, crowned with rags, with a paper
mitre on its head, and a scroll with the inscription, in large letters,
of "Pope Victor" in its hand, was hurled from the walls by a catapult,
and fell close to Octavian's feet, while, amid a burst of contemptuous
laughter, the voice again shouted through the trumpet, "Straw Pope!
Straw Pope!"

Octavian was thunderstruck, and stood gazing with a wild stare upon the
effigy, and his face assumed an expression so ridiculously stupid, that
Rinaldo and the bystanders, remarking the absurd resemblance between it
and the figure, could with difficulty restrain their mirth.

Frederic reflected grimly for a moment, but soon found means to turn
this incident to profit.

"Resume your seat!" he said to Victor, and then rising with the fierce
and decided manner which so well became him, he commanded silence. Even
Rinaldo's face wore a serious expression, and all awaited,
breathlessly, the monarch's harangue.

"What means all this? What seeks Milan with these sinful mockeries?
Will that accursed city never respect anything? She turns into ridicule
even the holy symbols of spiritual power; she mocks at the legitimate
Head of the Church; and that her insults may be the better heard, a
miserable speaking-trumpet cries them from the walls! Remember the
tyranny which reigns in Milan, think of the destruction of Lodi and the
misfortunes of Como; think of all those things, and then tell me if
that city does not merit destruction!"

Frederic ceased, but his words had produced the desired effect.

"She deserves her fate!" cried, eagerly, the soldiers of Lodi and Como
who were present; "she deserves her fate; down with Milan!"

"Yes, she deserves it," resumed the Emperor, "and this time we
ourselves will execute the decrees of justice!" He paused, and raising
his hand to his brow, took off the crown. Then, his eyes raised to
heaven, and his right hand extended, he cried, with a loud voice,--

"I, Frederic of Hohenstauffen, king of the Germans and Emperor of Rome,
do swear before Almighty God and the ever blessed Virgin Mary, by the
holy Apostles Peter and Paul, and all the Saints of Paradise, that this
crown will no more grace my brow until the city of Milan shall have
been destroyed in chastisement for her crimes!"

The Emperor made the sign of the cross, and delivered the diadem into
the keeping of the Imperial Chancellor.

This solemn oath electrified the Italians.

"Long live the Emperor!" shouted a thousand voices. "Long live the
Emperor! Down with Milan!"

In the midst of the applause, Barbarossa, well satisfied with the
result of his harangue, left the tribune, followed by his nobles.
Meanwhile Victor, who had returned to his tent, gave free vent to his
anger, and while Alberic was divesting him of his mantle, shook his
head with most unequivocal marks of resentment.

"Straw pope!" he exclaimed; "straw pope! the wretches, to compare me,
the legitimate Head of the Church, to a man of straw!"

"It is most infamous!" replied the chaplain; "it merits the vengeance
of heaven."

"Patience, the Milanese will pay dearly for their insolence. It needed
but this to fill the cup of Imperial anger. This city must be destroyed
and levelled with the earth. Henceforth whoever dares to intercede for
this new Nineveh, is the foe of the Church, of the Pope, and of the
Emperor."

"And the speaking-trumpet," added Alberic; "that abominable
speaking-trumpet!"

"True, I had almost forgotten that," replied Victor. "What was it they
called me? Straw Pope!--the villains! I am the true Pope, both by the
choice of the people and Imperial sanction. Yes, of course I am," he
repeated, as though wishing to persuade himself that it really was so.
"Alexander can never be more than the Cardinal Roland, for he was
neither elected by the people nor confirmed by the Emperor."

"Most certainly, there is no doubt of the fact," added Alberic,
quickly, for he knew Victor's anxiety in the matter.

"But what was it they really called me?--I think I heard the words
'Slave of the Emperor'!"

"That was what they said," my lord. "It was a ridiculous epithet, for
you, who seek to defend the prerogatives of the Church, can be slave to
no one."

These words were bitterly ironical, for Octavian remembered his base
servility to the wishes of his master Barbarossa, and he moved uneasily
upon his chair, as he resumed,--

"I give to the Emperor what is his by right, and in this I obey the
commands of our Lord; but in all that concerns the Church, I am
inflexible and yield obedience to no earthly power. Have I not often
given proofs of this? Did I not do so only on the day before yesterday,
when the Emperor urged me to pronounce the separation of Henry and
Clemence? And did we not, in virtue of our sacred office, refuse the
demand?"

"I admired your energy, my lord."

"There are no excuses, no threats which can decide us to annul this
marriage!" continued Octavian. "If monarchs could, at their pleasure,
divorce their wives, we should have little justice and order. No, by
the eternal salvation of my soul, to which may God be merciful, I will
never countenance a like enormity!"

As Victor finished, Rinaldo entered the room. Octavian's tirade had not
escaped the watchful observation of the courtier. Indeed, although
rarely bold enough to resist the Emperor's commands, there were times
when Octavian, either through shame or anger, refused obedience. Like
all men of contracted and timid ideas, he sometimes tried to show proof
of energy. Deploring his position, but without greatness of soul enough
to consent to break his chains and retire to a subordinate capacity, he
gave full vent to his ill-temper against all whom he had no especial
cause to fear. Humble and submissive towards the Emperor and his
ministers, he was disdainful and supercilious to his inferiors.

For once, Victor seemed decided to give an evidence of character. He
remained seated, and replied coldly to the salutations of the
Chancellor. But the wily courtier paid no attention to his insolence;
and seating himself quietly, he began,--

"Before submitting to your Holiness the message intrusted me by our
sovereign lord the Emperor, I desire to offer my sincere regrets for
the grave scandal caused by the Milanese."

"The devilful blindness of these Godforsaken people is the surest proof
of our legitimacy," interrupted Victor; "we have therefore no need
either of your commiseration or your sympathy. You will communicate
this reply to the Emperor. We will now examine whether this message, in
case it should be a petition, merits our consideration."

It needed all Rinaldo's self-command to remain serious at Octavian's
speech, and particularly at the air with which it was uttered. If
Victor really were what he tried to seem, the Count of Dassel would
have had good reason to be provoked; but as he had known the Pope for
many years, his arrogance only excited a smile, as he answered,--

"In this business, I am well aware that the well known wisdom of your
Holiness has no need of my sympathy. I will therefore, as such is your
desire, explain the purport of the Emperor's communication. It concerns
the rupture of the marriage between the Duke of Saxony and his wife
Clemence."

"We have already expressed our opinions decidedly on that point,"
replied Octavian.

"True, a few days ago," said Rinaldo; "but at present His Majesty
desires to terminate the matter without delay, and requests you to
appoint a time when the divorce shall be solemnly pronounced in
public."

"Must I then repeat what I have already said?" replied Victor, with
surprise. "The marriage is legal, and cannot be annulled. The question
of consanguinity is, by no means, clearly established, and the degree
is too remote."

"Nevertheless, the Emperor desires the divorce for grave political
reasons," said Rinaldo, quietly.

"Political reasons! What have we to do with politics?"

"Very true, affairs of state are not your province, still, your
Holiness might have some consideration for the Emperor's wishes."

"Very well, my lord chancellor! you say that the affairs of state are
not our province, and yet in the affairs of the Church we must consult
the Emperor's wishes. If that were so, what position should we occupy?
The Milanese have defined it perfectly: 'the base slave of the
Emperor'!"

"Your Holiness should remember that you owe everything to the Emperor."

"I beg your pardon, my lord chancellor; I hold my power in virtue of my
election by the Cardinals and the people."

"The Cardinals!" Dassel cried, ironically; "how many of them voted for
you? if I remember rightly, only two. And you speak of the people's
choice? The pagan Jugurtha reproached the Roman people with its
corruption; yet, without the rich bribes paid by your friends, even
that venal people would not have pronounced in your favor."

Octavian colored violently at the insult.

"I have no wish to wound your Holiness," continued Dassel, "but simply
to warn you against any feelings of ingratitude to the Emperor."

"Admitting what you have said to be true, was not our election ratified
by four plenary councils?"

"Four plenary councils!" sneered Rinaldo. "There should have been four,
but the Emperor has never been able to bring the Bishops together. You
should know of what value is a plenary council where there are no
Bishops! But let me beg you to put an end to this useless discussion. I
only wish to transmit the Emperor's orders and carry back to him your
answer."

"The Emperor's orders! Oh! this is too much, my lord!"

"Yes; but if you prefer, we will call it the Emperor's request," said
the minister, rising as he spoke; "orders or request, it matters
little! since the Emperor insists upon implicit obedience to the one,
as to the other. Perhaps, upon reflection, you will perceive that your
disobedience may possibly have most disagreeable consequences."

"For the love of God! do not leave me," cried the alarmed Victor. "Only
show me how I can, in defiance of my duty and my conscience, annul a
legal marriage? I am always ready to show my obedience to His Majesty;
I only implore him not to insist upon this flagrant violation of divine
and ecclesiastical laws."

"Have you the power to loose?"

"Yes; but not the bonds of an indissoluble marriage."

"The consanguinity between Henry and Clemence is a valid cause of
divorce. Their genealogical tree shall be submitted for your
examination; you can then conscientiously annul the marriage."

Victor was dreadfully embarrassed, and sought in vain an escape from
the dilemma. On the one side, he felt ashamed of his weakness, and his
conscience reproached him bitterly; but on the other, he saw that most
disagreeable consequences would result from his refusal. The tone of
the Chancellor, his gloomy and threatening demeanor, his readiness to
leave the apartment, alarmed Octavian, on whose forehead stood great
drops of perspiration, a striking proof that bad actions are often more
painful in their accomplishment than those dictated by a worthy motive.

"May I then announce to the Emperor, that you will obey him?" resumed
Dassel; "or shall I transmit your refusal, so that His Majesty can at
once proclaim the illegality of your claims to the Papal throne?"

"I will obey," faltered Victor.

"At last you have come to a wise decision," said the courtier, whose
face immediately resumed its cordial expression. "May I ask when your
Holiness will fulfil your promise?"

"Whenever it may so please the Emperor."

"Your visit will be most agreeable to His Majesty," Dassel resumed. "I
have only now to request your Holiness to confer the Episcopal mitre
upon some young man, high in favor with His Majesty, to whom he wishes
to offer this mark of his confidence. He thinks that it would be well
for the ceremony to take place next week, in the Cathedral of Pavia.
One of the candidates is the young Count Biandrate, whose nomination to
the Archbishopric of Ravenna was delayed, owing to some objections on
the part of your predecessor, Pope Adrian."

"I must confirm His Majesty's choice, and will be at Pavia on the day
mentioned."

The Chancellor bowed and withdrew. Ashamed and cast down, the Pope
stood motionless, gazing at the door through which Dassel had
disappeared. He seemed scarcely to credit his humiliation, as he
murmured,--

"Aye, I am the Emperor's slave, naught but his miserable, degraded
slave!"



                            _CHAPTER XVII_.

                           _AN EVIL SPIRIT_.


After communicating to Barbarossa, Victor's promise of obedience,
Dassel took his way towards the tent of Henry the Lion, to announce to
the prince the speedy dissolution of his marriage. The Saxon Duke
lodged in the Augustinian convent in front of the city. In spite of the
decisions of the council of war, this cloister had been neither
pillaged nor burned, for it stood in the midst of his camp, and served
as his headquarters; and the demand for its destruction, urged by some
of the Italians, had met with a stern refusal.

"In the North," he said, "I spare neither time nor money in building
churches and monasteries. Why should I consent to destroy them in the
South? You must understand, once for all, that I will not do violence
to my principles, in order to gratify your hatred for the Milanese."

These words put an end to the discussion; the beautiful church was
spared, but the anxious monks were driven to take shelter within the
city. Ever since Henry had begun to entertain seriously the idea of a
divorce, he had lost the air of frankness and good-nature which had
formerly characterized him. He walked with downcast eyes, his brows
were knit, his head stooped, and a heavy burden seemed to oppress his
intellect. While Rinaldo urged the divorce, the Duke remained
irresolute; his pride prompted him to the step, but his heart opposed
it. A union of fifteen years had proved the sincere affection and
unalterable fidelity of his wife, who lived only in her husband's love.
He could not call to mind a single unkind word; Clemence, on the
contrary, had always striven to make her husband forget his cares and
anxieties. And even now, although well aware of this scheme for their
separation, she never gave utterance to one murmur or reproach; all her
efforts were directed to conceal her sadness and despair. But his
wife's anguish was not unknown to the Duke. He admired the generous
spirit of the noble woman, and it cost him many a heartache, to feel
himself, as it were, compelled to do her such a cruel wrong. Had the
Duchess reproached him with his injustice, the struggle would have been
less difficult, but this mute sorrow, this submissive love disarmed
him. It was in vain that he looked back over years long gone by, he
could discover nothing worthy of dissatisfaction, for each succeeding
year since their marriage gave new proofs of Clemence's affection and
fidelity.

Sad thoughts filled his mind as he sat beneath an arbor of clematis in
the convent garden. His back leaning against the wall, his limbs
stretched out and his hands clenched upon his breast, his haggard,
downcast face denoted the painful struggle raging within him, which
from time to time took vent in a deep sigh.

A child's clear voice awoke him from his mournful revery. At the end of
the grove his wife appeared, leading his little daughter Adelaide by
the hand. As soon as she perceived her father, she ran towards him, but
suddenly stopped at a short distance with an air of indecision and
doubt.

"Well, well! little one, come on!" said Henry, forcing a smile.

The child obeyed, but it was plain that she did not feel at ease, for
she looked anxiously towards her mother.

Henry seemed annoyed as Clemence seated herself beside him, but
although the noble woman had remarked his grave and troubled expression
and divined its cause, her strong will concealed her sad emotions.

"Father, why do you always wear these iron clothes?" said the child,
playing with the rings of his coat of mail.

"Because it is necessary in time of war, my child. Would you not like
to have one like it? See how it shines and sparkles!"

"No, father; it is too hard and stiff; I like my mother's dresses
better."

"If you were a boy, instead of a little girl, it would please you
more."

These words produced a strange effect upon the infant. She first turned
towards Clemence who seemed ready to burst into tears, and then threw
her arms around her father's neck, as if to prevent him reproaching her
mother.

"I want to be a boy, father!" said Adelaide, laughing through her
tears.

"You do, do you? and what for?"

"So that my mother may not cry any more!"

"Nonsense, little chatterbox; why should your mother cry?"

"Oh yes, she does cry, and a great deal too; only when you come, she
dries her eyes, and smiles."

The Duke was touched; these artless words from the mouth of his child
contained a reproach which shamed him. Until then, he had never spoken
to his wife of the proposed divorce, and even now, although the
opportunity seemed favorable, he hesitated, for the consciousness of
his injustice deprived him of his courage.

Clemence read his thoughts, and a mingling of love for her husband and
pity for his weakness, joined to a faint hope that, even yet, he might
be weaned from his determination, decided her to speak.

"Dear Henry," she began, "a wife's duty is to watch and pray, whenever
a danger menaces her lord. I can no longer remain silent in the
presence of the schemers who seek to beguile you. The sinful projects
of the chancellor Rinaldo will destroy your eternal soul. Believe me,
no motive can excuse an evil deed; nothing can make innocent that which
the laws of God forbid. I am ready, if it were possible, to make any
sacrifice to your happiness, even were my heart to break in the
attempt!"

Tears choked her further utterance; but the Duke well knew that her
words were not an idle speech, but that they were dictated by true and
sincere affection.

"Why do you allude to this circumstance, so painful to us both," he
said. "There are some things which must be placed even above the
feelings of the heart. On the honor of a knight, Clemence, I look upon
you as the noblest of women, and yet, with me the Guelphic dynasty in
the North will end."

"I know the chancellor's famous discovery of our consanguinity!"
replied the Duchess. "Henry, you know that the plea is false. If our
divorce will make you happier, I would submit, without a murmur; but
the certainty that this divorce will imperil your immortal soul, wrings
my heart with anguish. Henry! I implore you, give up this guilty
project! Trust to the future.--Perhaps--perhaps, my days are numbered."

At this moment a horse's hoofs rang on the pavement of the outer court,
and almost immediately Rinaldo stood before the arbor. Clemence rose
hastily; although pale and trembling, her tears had ceased, and she
gazed upon the chancellor with a look of horror. Slowly leaving with
her child the presence of her husband, she cast upon him one lingering
glance in which were reflected the feelings of her soul.

Robed in the magnificent costume which he wore only on great occasions
of ceremony, wearing on his finger the pastoral ring of the
Archbishopric of Cologne (conferred upon him by the Emperor), a costly
chain of triple gold around his neck, and on his head a splendid mitre,
the Count of Dassel, with a smiling face, saluted the Saxon Duke.

"I have ridden over to examine the tower which your Highness has
built," he said, with a low bow; "what a noble piece of work! I can
only compare it to the one constructed by the Emperor for the Siege of
Cremona."

This was one of Henry's weak points, and the crafty Dassel knew it.

"You are in error, my dear Count," he replied; "it is very true that my
Imperial cousin constructed a splendid machine for that siege, but his
tower could not accommodate, by two hundred men, as many as mine.
Besides, it could only be moved slowly and with much danger."

Rinaldo did not venture to doubt the superiority of the ducal
construction.

"Oh, if that is the case, the perfection of your edifice threatens to
become dangerous."

"Dangerous! and how so?"

"Yes," said Dassel; "dangerous to the fame and aspirations of more than
one hero who has built up his dreams of glory and renown upon the
taking of Milan. Think of the disappointment of the Count Palatine
Otho, of the Duke of Austria, of the Landgrave of Thuringen, and a host
of other illustrious captains, when they see the Suabian lion float
over the ramparts of the city."

The Duke laughed boisterously.

"The thoughts of your triumph recalls to me naturally the certitude of
your good fortune. His Holiness, the Pope, has expressed his readiness
to annul the marriage which you have contracted with your relative."

At these words the Duke's face darkened as his right hand began to play
with his beard, while the left sought angrily his sword-hilt.

"It only remains for your Highness to indicate the day and hour for
this wished-for divorce," added the Chancellor.

"Hum! you appear very much interested in my affairs," replied the Duke.
"Why this precipitation?"

"Was it not your desire, my lord?"

"Certainly, it was my desire. But I will not submit to dictation from
any one, and it may suit me better to leave matters as they are."

The courtier appeared surprised.

"Oh! that amazes you; yes, I said it might suit me better to leave
matters as they were, my dear Count."

"Your Highness is certainly the best judge of your own affairs,"
replied Dassel, cautiously, as if he felt himself in the presence of an
unchained lion; "still I must observe that matters are already pretty
far advanced."

"Well, turn them back again. That must be an easy matter for you; you
have experience in such things."

"May I venture to inquire the reasons which have influenced your
Highness to this sudden change?"

"The reasons!" he cried angrily; "the reasons! because it would be
infamous! Why do you stare at me thus? Look there!"

And he pointed to where, at the extremity of the garden, Clemence, half
hidden by the rose-trees, was kneeling before an image of the Madonna.
Near her stood the little Adelaide with clasped bands, gazing
alternately at the image and at her weeping mother. Rinaldo saw the
mother and the child; he understood the Duke's anger; he resolved to
complete his infernal work.

"She is a pious woman," he said; "a model for her sex! The separation
will be most painful to her. I understand it well; but it is also
painful for a valiant prince to witness the extinction of his race."

"Oh! the pangs of separation, the grief which they cause a loving
heart, may be healed in time," said Henry; "but, my dear Count, this
action will be not only cruel and pitiless, but it will be criminal in
the sight of God."

"Criminal in the sight of God! this is a new phase to give to the
affair. The Pope annuls your marriage; he knows his privileges, and is
responsible for the consequences."

"Yes, your Pope," replied Henry, with an angry sneer. "Tell me, can the
act of that puppet of the Emperor make an evil act a good one?"

"This is certainly a grave point for a timid conscience," said Dassel,
ironically.

"But yourself, my dear Count? Years ago, the Emperor put that
archiepiscopal ring on your finger; tell me, how it happens that you
have not yet been consecrated? All that is needed is your request.
Victor will be delighted. But--and it is natural enough--you despise
the consecration of the Anti-Pope! And yet you pretend that his
intervention ought to be sufficient for me?"

"There is no hurry about my consecration," replied Rinaldo, quickly;
"but your Highness makes a mistake in being influenced by such scruples
of conscience, which are, to say the least, exaggerated."

"Exaggerated!"

"Certainly! Is it not the Emperor's prerogative to appoint the Bishop
of Rome? The history of the Empire is there to prove the correctness of
my assertion."

"Without any doubt, my Imperial cousin needs, for the accomplishment of
his designs, a very submissive Pope. I shall not discuss this subject.
The Northern bishops, likewise, owe me obedience.--There is but one
difference in our positions,--none of my bishops is the supreme chief
of Christendom."

"There is still another difference," resumed Rinaldo, with some
hesitation, "and that is, your cousin Frederic is laying the
foundations of a dynasty which is destined to rule the world, whilst
your works will perish with you."

The Duke of Saxony was speechless, as, with contracted features, he
rose and stood like a bronze statue before the tempter. The vulnerable
point of his armor had been touched; for many years Henry's dream had
been, to found an independent empire in the North, and all his efforts,
all his warlike enterprises looked to this end. Dassel made a last
effort to excite the Duke's ambition.

"You have, it is true, several lovely daughters; but you cannot
bequeath your domains to them. All your conquests will revert to the
Empire; nothing will remain to them, save their titles and their rights
of dower."

"Stop a moment, Count!" cried Henry, furious at seeing his conquests,
so painfully made, disposed of thus summarily.

"I am well aware, that my words may have offended your Highness; but,
pardon my frankness, they were none the less just."

"It is false, I tell you! entirely false! Do you imagine that for years
I have toiled and fought, have borne hunger and thirst, and a thousand
fatigues of every kind, only to descend to the tomb like a brainless
fool?"

"I regret it sincerely, my lord; but, since you refuse the divorce
which is proposed, you must take the consequences."

"Refuse it! No; I must consider the matter further. What shall be,
shall be; yes, on my honor!"

Rinaldo trembled with pleasure.

"Go, and thank my Imperial cousin!" continued Henry. "This divorce must
be pronounced, even should it insure my own ruin! Still, beg his
Majesty not to carry the matter further than I wish myself."



                            _CHAPTER XVIII_.

                        _CONFIDENTIAL SECRETS_.


Rinaldo took his way towards the Imperial pavilion, for he was anxious
to report the result of his interview with the Duke of Saxony. He was
informed by one of the chamberlains that Frederic had gone to the
apartments of the Empress, and Dassel decided to await his return in an
adjoining room. He had taken but a few steps in a hall littered with
cuirasses and swords and lances, when he heard the Emperor's voice,
speaking in an angry tone. It was scarcely calculated to produce a
reassuring effect upon the statesman, but he approached the partition
and listened attentively.

Upon leaving the Empress, Frederic had met Count Rechberg in the
antechamber. For some time the young man had been thinking seriously of
asking the Emperor's consent to his marriage with Bonello's daughter,
and the uncertainty of the result of his application produced a state
of painful anxiety. He was seated in a corner, his head resting on his
hands and his elbows on his knees, when the monarch entered, and was so
absorbed in his reflections that he was unconscious of his presence.
Frederic looked at him with some surprise, and shook his head. At this
moment Erwin sighed deeply, and the Emperor involuntarily shuddered.

"Erwin!" said he, with a loud voice.

The young count sprang up hastily, and stood, with heightened color,
before his sovereign.

"What is the matter, my boy? For some time past you seem out of
spirits. Can nothing amuse your sad thoughts? Tell me what ails you."

Erwin only answered by a still deeper blush. The man who by a word
could render him happy, was before him, and yet, trembling like a
criminal, he did not dare to speak.

"Are you dumb? Ah! now I begin to be really curious to learn the secret
which saddens your young heart."

"I must really help this poor fellow," thought Rinaldo.

"Come, Erwin, your reticence displeases me. What motive can there be
for silence with your godfather?"

Rechberg looked sadly at the Emperor, as if to show him how painfully
he felt this reproach.

"Well! if you have confidence in me, speak out! What is the matter? For
some time past I have noticed your mournful and dejected appearance,
and I hoped to have received your confession without being obliged to
ask for it."

"Pardon, Sire; it is not my want of confidence in your Majesty which
has closed my mouth, but rather the conviction that my cares were
unworthy of your notice."

"Your cares!" resumed Barbarossa, looking at the young man more
attentively. "True, true, it is some piece of childishness; I might
have guessed it sooner."

Rinaldo's entrance on one side, and the Empress on the other,
interrupted Frederic.

"Beatrice," said he, "I give this sick boy up to your care. I know that
you are a skilful physician;" and he left the room with the Count of
Dassel.

Beatrice, the wealthy daughter of Count Reinald, of Upper Burgundy, was
but sixteen years of age when she was chosen by Frederic as his wife.
In spite of the opposition to his marriage made by Pope Adrian IV; in
spite of the representations of the Church and the reputation of the
world at large, Barbarossa's passion was so violent that he disregarded
every obstacle, and on the repudiation of his first wife, Adelaide,
conducted Beatrice to the altar.

At the time of which we speak, Beatrice was twenty-one years of age;
beautiful, gracious, and accomplished; she was considered the most
amiable princess of the age, and she gladly undertook to console a
youth whom she esteemed as much for his own virtuous qualities as on
account of his relationship to the Emperor.

Dismissing her attendants, she called the young man to her side, and in
a few moments had learned his story. She listened to him coldly,
without even a smile, and when all was told, merely remarked,--

"I desire that you make a formal demand for the hand of the fair
Hermengarde as soon as possible."

"I humbly thank your Majesty; but I scarcely dare to take a step which
may not be approved."

"What do you mean? Not approved! and by whom?"

"By the Emperor, who will never consent to my marriage with the
daughter of one whom he looks upon as a traitor."

"Nonsense, Erwin! the Emperor cares nothing about love-affairs! He only
wants to see you happy."

"Your Majesty may be mistaken in this," replied Rechberg.

"Has the Emperor ever said anything to you on this subject?"

"Nothing. But I feel assured that he will refuse his consent."

"I understand, my dear Erwin. You are one of those people who like to
take trouble on interest. I see that I must help you, as His Majesty
has ordered me to be your physician. So, the very first medicine which
I shall prescribe is to keep up your spirits. In the meantime, I am
going to prepare you a sovereign remedy;" and she left the room.

"Richilda," said Beatrice, entering her private chamber, "can you not
point out some knight whom I can intrust with a message of importance?"

"The whole army is at your Majesty's orders," replied the waiting-maid.

"No! no! I mean a good sword, on whom I can entirely depend."

"What does your Majesty think of the knight Goswin? He is brave,
discreet, and would ride to Egypt for your Majesty."

The Empress' clear and musical laugh rang through the room.

"You are crazy, Richilda! Goswin, that vulgar soldier! Upon my word, he
would be a beautiful messenger."

"Pardon, madam; I had no intention of offending you; but, not to be
guilty of another mistake, it would be well if I knew your Majesty's
intentions."

"Ah! you are curious! But after all, you may as well know all. I have
long desired to see this Hermengarde, who has so dazzled with her
beauty all the knights who have met her. I think of sending a brilliant
embassy to invite her to my court."

"A most excellent idea," said Richilda.

"I have heard a great deal of her noble efforts in her father's behalf,
and I am curious of knowing intimately one whose filial devotion I have
so much admired."

"But will your invitation be accepted? The lady of Castellamare is only
a child yet,--I believe not more than fourteen years of age. She cannot
leave the castle without her father's permission, and it is scarcely
probable that he will allow his daughter to go where he was treated so
roughly himself."

"Your objections are not entirely unreasonable," replied the Empress.
"But, as a general thing, parents are not opposed to their children's
happiness, and will do a good deal to advance it, even if they have to
forget their own personal injuries. But I have just thought of a
messenger who will probably be a successful one. Come, let us go to
work at once."



                             _CHAPTER XIX_.

                             _THE CONSULS_.


Meanwhile the Milanese were bearing up courageously against all the
fatigues and privations of the rigorous siege. The same spirit appeared
to animate all classes of the population; merchants, workmen, and
nobles were menaced by the same danger, and each and all fought bravely
in defence of his rights and the liberty of his country.

Bold sorties were of daily occurrence, and every effort made to
introduce convoys of provisions into the city; but the investment was
so complete, and all avenues of approach so carefully guarded, that the
attempts were always repelled with severe loss. Although as yet there
was no scarcity of food, still the possibility of famine at some future
day decided the Consuls of Milan to call a council in order to devise
the best means of averting the danger. They were fully persuaded that
Frederic would not raise the siege, and that they had little aid to
expect from their allies.

Genoa, Pisa, and Venice had long envied Milan's power, and would glory
in her fall; while the other towns bowed before the formidable armies
of the house of Hohenstauffen, and were disposed to acknowledge its
supremacy. Their chief reliance was in the success of skilful
diplomacy; and for this they counted upon the talents and abilities of
one whom the people looked up to as a saint--the Archdeacon Galdini
Sala. At the urgent request of the Consul Nigri, the Archdeacon
repaired to the hall where the council was deliberating with closed
doors, and after a few words of introduction from Gherardo, expressed
his views in favor of a continued and obstinate defence.

"If the people are firm," he said, "Barbarossa cannot hope a speedy
surrender. I am convinced that Milan cannot be taken by assault, and
that the enemy will endeavor to reduce it by famine."

"But is there no means by which we can obtain provisions?" asked the
Consul of the merchants. "If Barbarossa ever succeeds in introducing
hunger, his most redoubtable ally, within the walls, our cause is lost!
No pains, no money must be spared to avert this terrible disaster, even
should we be obliged to spend our last penny, and turn into coin our
jewels and the holy vessels of our churches!"

"The Church will not be backward if the sacrifice be needed; but before
arriving at this extremity, every other resource must have been
exhausted."

"It is not money that we need," said the Consul Oberto, a worthy old
man, with a snowy beard; "it is not money, for the richest bribes would
fail to get an ounce of bread through the gates. The Emperor's blockade
is too rigidly enforced, and all attempts to force it have proved a
bloody failure."

"Perhaps it would be advisable," said Galdini, "to put the people on
rations. So far they have eaten and drunk as though the supply were
inexhaustible."

"I am surprised," replied Oberto, "that a man of your shrewdness could
propose such a measure. The courage of the people would quail at the
bare possibility of a danger to which hitherto they have not given a
thought. And," he continued, in a lower tone, "you know well its
fickleness, and how little it requires to bring about the most fearful
results. The simple report of a defeat excited an insurrection some
years ago, in which the Milanese destroyed the palace of a man who had
sacrificed everything in the cause of liberty. With even a distant
prospect of famine, the citizens would begin to murmur, and probably
rise in open mutiny, for they would think it better to wear the yoke of
Barbarossa than to die of starvation."

Sala was too just, too practical, to question the reality of the
picture.

"Our future looks gloomy," said Nigri. "Should famine begin to decimate
our ranks, we shall be obliged to capitulate, and it may perhaps be
advisable not to await the last moment. The Emperor might take into
consideration our voluntary surrender, and grant us more favorable
terms. I propose to open negotiations with him immediately."

The archdeacon opened his eyes with astonishment at Nigri's proposal.

"Open negotiations with Frederic," he cried; "and on what basis?"

"On the most equitable basis," said Oberto; "he who surrenders
willingly, always has less to suffer from the conqueror."

"You make a very grave mistake, my lord!" said Galdini; "there is no
possible compromise with the tyrant; offer to him the enjoyment of all
your rights; abandon all the revenues of the principality, nothing will
suffice him."

"But what does he want then?" inquired Cino, the consul of the workmen,
a man of rough manners and herculean build, but of very limited
intelligence. In spite of the gravity of the situation, Galdini could
not repress a smile, as he answered,--

"Barbarossa aspires to universal dominion. He seeks to hold in his own
grasp all control of rights and liberties; he wishes to make paltry
villages out of our independent cities. Everything must give way before
his Imperial supremacy; all must bow at the footstool of the conqueror.
Religion, the Church, all that which we look upon as holy, are in his
eyes mere machines of government. Such is Frederic's gigantic dream of
power; can we, I ask, negotiate with such a man? No! we must conquer,
or perish in the attempt!"

The archdeacon had spoken calmly, but with energy, and all felt that he
had by no means exaggerated the position. For a moment there was a
profound silence, which neither Nigri nor Oberto dared to break, and
then the street without seemed suddenly animated, there was a noise of
hurried feet and shouts and cries of alarm. Nigri rushed to a window
and anxiously inquired the cause.

"To arms! to the walls!" answered a citizen, who in full armor was
hastening towards the ramparts; "the tower of Henry the Lion is moving
on the city!"

"The tower! the tower!" cried Cino, pale with fear; "take my word for
it, before nightfall there will be many mouths less to feed among our
fellow-citizens!"

All the consuls seemed equally alarmed, the object of the council was
forgotten, and they hastily withdrew. Nigri detained the archdeacon,
and taking him on one side, said,--

"One moment, I beg you, my lord Galdini. The words spoken here might,
if known, discourage the people. I trust that I may count upon your
discretion."

"Your recommendation is needless," replied Sala; "not a word shall pass
my lips. Let us hasten, with God's aid, to repel the assault." He
pressed Nigri's hand, and the consul hurriedly buckling on his armor,
they repaired to the ramparts.



                             _CHAPTER XX_.

                             _THE ASSAULT_.


Milan was in mortal fear. The colossal form of the monstrous machine
approached still nearer to the doomed city. The streets were filled
with an anxious crowd of women, children, and men-at-arms, all pressing
with hurried steps to the scene of danger. From every door rushed the
alarmed citizens, buckling their armor as they ran. Wagons filled with
caldrons of pitch and boiling oil, creeked as they labored slowly
forward, and the shouts of the leaders, the orders of the consuls, and
the continued challenge of the sentinels, completed the wild and
confused tumult. And still the tower moved slowly on.

The garrison, to repel the attack, brought forward two large machines,
which threw stone balls and heavy missiles, and four smaller ones,
called catapults, which were to rain stones and arrows upon the
besiegers. From the summit of the walls the enemy could be
distinguished moving from their camp, in four bodies, and impatiently
awaiting the orders to rush forward to the support of the Saxon banner.
The city walls were lined with crossbow-men and archers, ready to fire
into the loopholes of the town as soon as it should be within range. In
the open space between the houses and the ramparts, the noblemen and
civic guard were drawn up, ready for the moment when the drawbridges
should be lowered and the fight become general. Everything was
conducted in an orderly manner, each man knew his duty. The women and
children had disappeared; on their knees, in the churches, they were
seeking the aid of Heaven in the strife which was so soon to begin.

All the machines were ready to commence their work of destroying the
town. The two largest were loaded with stones, so large that it
required the united strength of four men to lift them; and fires were
lighted, at intervals along the wall, on which were placed huge iron
vessels filled with oil and pitch.

Still the tower advanced. Its motive power could not be seen, and it
was a terrible spectacle, this enormous giant creeping silently along,
as though impelled by the breath of a demon.

From within could be distinguished the dull grating of the machinery,
and from the loopholes peered the fierce faces of the German archers as
they discharged a cloud of arrows upon the besieged.

Anselmo, the chief of the Milanese artillery, an old man, still
vigorous, with bold features and a quick eye, examined the tower
carefully, as it neared the walls. The troops, watchful of the least
movement of their leader Oberto, were ready to act; but if Anselmo's
skill did not succeed in destroying the tower, they felt that the city
would be taken.

"Let go the catapults!" cried Anselmo, his eyes always fixed upon the
machine.

The order was immediately executed, and the old man stepped back to
judge of the effect. There was a deep silence, and all gazed anxiously
upon the stern visage of their leader, as he touched the spring of the
engine. There was a violent shock and a cloud of stones dashed full
upon the front of the tower; but the hay and brushwood, with which it
was bordered, broke the force of the concussion. A second discharge was
attended with a like result.

"By my holy patron saint!" cried Anselmo, shaking his head, "the jade
is solid. If four hundred weight of stone have no more effect than a
shower of snow-balls, we have little chance of escaping Barbarossa's
companions. However, let us try again."

A larger stone was brought forward and put into the catapult; a moment
after it whistled through the air and struck heavily against the tower,
but without producing any impression.

"It is useless to try," said Anselmo; "the devil himself must have
built that tower!"

"Would it not be advisable," said Nigri, "to arrange the smaller
machines for the reception of the stormers, as we cannot prevent the
assault?"

"Let go the catapults!" interrupted Anselmo.

But it was all in vain, the advance of the machine could not be
checked; and the garrison turned their attention to the smaller
engines, which were filled with missiles of every kind, and to the
pitch and boiling oil, which was to be poured upon the enemy as he
clambered up the walls.

"Attention! hold everything in readiness!" said Anselmo; "mix well the
tow with the oil and pitch. Be lively, boys! take care that your casks
be filled."

Already, severe fighting was going on, in the open space between the
tower and the walls. On both sides bolts and arrows flew unceasingly,
and wherever a head appeared at a loophole it became a target for the
archers. Germans and Milanese had both suffered severely, for the
arrows and stones penetrated through every opening.

"Those Milanese fight very gallantly," said Henry the Lion, as an arrow
struck his helmet. "We have already lost fifty men in the tower."

"The foul fiend seize this style of battle!" said Otho of Wittelsbach,
who awaited, with impatience, the moment when the tower should close
upon the walls.

"We shall encounter worthy adversaries, Count," replied Henry. "They
are loading their engines in our honor!--I only trust that the fire may
not ruin the tower! The Milanese are skilful artificers."

"Upon my honor, as soon as we are on their walls, they may burn it and
welcome," said Otho.

The scene soon began to change; the Milanese had covered their ramparts
with boiling pitch, and had lighted a fire at the spot where Henry
designed to halt the tower, while barrels filled with burning tow were
rolled over on the heads of the assailants.

"Forward now!" cried Anselmo. "Get ready the fireballs!" and he rushed
to where the smaller machines were raining a cloud of projectiles upon
the drawbridges.

The battle now raged fiercely. The burning tow balls had communicated
their fire to the machine, the top of which was in flames; the Germans
worked diligently to keep the conflagration in check, until they should
be close enough to sally out upon the bridges, while the Milanese with
locked shields and drawn swords awaited the attack.

For a moment there was a deathlike silence, and then the bridges fell,
and Henry of Saxony and Otho de Wittelsbach, followed by their troops
in good order, sprang upon the ramparts. They were resolutely met. Otho
had one foot upon the wall, but he was driven back; and though his
blows made large gaps in the ranks of the enemy in this fierce
hand-to-hand encounter, their places were filled at once with new
combatants. The Lion raged, and although a foeman went down at every
thrust of his heavy sword, he was still upon the bridge, and could not
advance a step upon the rampart. The tower was now in flames, and a
cloud of projectiles darkened the air already black with smoke from the
burning resin. Still the struggle went on, and many a German knight and
Lombard noble fell to rise no more.

Henry and Otho fought on; but in vain: their efforts were powerless to
break the wall of steel which the brave Milanese opposed to their
assailants. So far, the combat had continued without any decided
advantage; for, although they could hold their enemy in check, the
citizens were unable to drive him from his position. The image of their
patron saint waved proudly above them, and the cry of "Saint Ambrose to
the rescue!" rang through the air.

In the midst of the tumult were heard shouts of defiance and of cheer.

"Brothers, think of your liberty! Death to the tyrant!" shouted Pietro
Nigri, who was fighting in the foremost ranks.

"For Church and Country! Death to Barbarossa!" cried another voice.

"Death to the traitors! Death to the rebels!" thundered Otho of
Wittelsbach, cutting down an adversary at every blow.

The battle became more desperate, and the ground was covered with the
bodies of the dead and wounded, whose blood mingled with the boiling
oil. Fresh troops came up from the besiegers' camp, anxious to take
part in the conflict. The tower was now burning fiercely, and to the
cries of the soldiers and the clash of swords and cuirasses, were added
the groans of the dying and the crackling of the flames, which issued
from every loophole, fit ornaments to this bloody tragedy.

"Back! back!" was heard on all sides; "the bridge is on fire!".

But, though like burning serpents the flames were twisting themselves
around the frail passage, although many of the soldiers had retreated
from the _melée_, Henry of Saxony, the Count Palatine, and a few other
knights still held their ground. Careless of the enemy in their rear,
they gallantly fought onward towards the city. It was in vain; the
courage of the besieged increased with the danger. A horrible crackling
noise was heard; the tower had commenced to give way, and was sinking.
Then those who were on the bridge lost their last hope; an instant
more, and all would be lost, for already it was wrapped in flames.

At this moment, the consul Oberto, a white flag in his hand, sprang
forward upon the ramparts, and, as the shrill blast of a trumpet pealed
out,--

"Valiant knights! noble gentlemen!" he cried; "cease this fearful
strife! We value courage, even among our foes; the burning ground is
giving way beneath your feet; lower your weapons, and return peacefully
to your camp."

From this act of generosity there was no appeal. Henry sheathed his
sword, and retired. An instant after, the bridge gave way, and then the
tower shooting up one vast column of fire, tottered and fell.

The fight cost the besiegers six hundred men, and the Milanese
loss was equally heavy; but it had proved one thing, at least, to
Barbarossa,--that Milan could not be taken by assault.



                             _CHAPTER XXI_.

                        _THE EMPEROR'S POLICY_.


Barbarossa continued the execution of his vast projects. As it may be
seen, he wished, like Augustus, to be the Emperor of the world, and
that every potentate, spiritual or temporal, should acknowledge his
sway. But first of all, he was striving to destroy the Papacy. The
Roman Cæsar was _pontifex maximus_; and to be this was the summit of
Frederic's ambition. But the only chance of success for this gigantic
plan lay in the overthrow of all existing institutions. Frederic knew
this well, but his energetic character never faltered an instant, for
he cared little, provided his empire were founded, even were those
foundations built upon the ruins of the world.

He saw clearly that mere brute force would be insufficient, and that he
must employ all the resources of diplomacy. His ambassadors were
dispatched to the different courts of Europe, bearing to the reigning
monarchs the assurances of his consideration and esteem; on every
occasion they were instructed to deplore the unhappy condition of the
Church and the obstinacy of Alexander; for Frederic was particularly at
variance with Rome, where he maintained a powerful faction, which, by
its violence, had finally driven the Pope from the Eternal City.
Matters had finally assumed so dangerous an aspect that there was
scarcely a city in all Christendom which dared offer an asylum to the
legitimate Head of the Church. Barbarossa then convened a general
council, in order to give a coloring of legality to his projects. The
French and English sovereigns were represented by plenipotentiaries;
for both, and particularly the bloody Henry of England, considered
themselves to have been wronged by Alexander III.

The approaching Council occasioned no little movement in the Imperial
camp, and the crafty statesman Rinaldo was busily engaged in arranging
matters, in order that everything might proceed harmoniously.

After some days of feasting and amusement of all kinds, Barbarossa
decided to give a solemn audience to the ambassadors. They were invited
into the _hall of the throne_, and after a brief delay, the rich silken
hangings were drawn aside and the brilliant retinue of the Emperor
appeared. The nobles, clothed in costly robes, entered first, followed
by the Emperor, wearing all the insignia of royalty. The crown alone
was wanting:--he respected the vow which he had made before Milan.

The monarch ascended the throne; every word, every gesture indicated
unmistakably that he felt his importance, and that he considered
himself the most powerful sovereign of the world. The nobles surrounded
him, shining like brilliant planets around the Imperial sun. The Count
Palatine Otho and the Counts of Andechs and Bogen, were on guard,
before the doors of the hall, where, clad in complete armor, with their
hands resting on their sword-hilts, they resembled so many statues of
bronze.

The ambassadors, followed by their suites, then approached the throne,
and the Count of Guyenne, French ambassador, commenced in pompous terms
an harangue, in which he assured the Emperor of the friendship of his
royal master. He deplored and regretted in a diplomatic manner the
discord and dissension prevalent in the Church, using terms so vague
and meaningless that the Count Otho became impatient and let his sword
fall. The loud ring of the weapon had a calming effect upon the orator;
he concluded with a brief and high-sounding phrase, bowed respectfully,
and withdrew.

The English ambassador, on the other hand, was stiff and sententious,
his face retained a grave and stern expression, and Frederic's presence
alone gave some appearance of animation to the features of this
phlegmatic son of Albion. Frederic was neither excited by the
flatteries of the Frenchman, nor wounded by the Englishman's assumption
of importance. He knew Louis's crafty policy, as well as the ambition
and cruelty of the English King. Henry possessed certain territorial
rights in France which he was desirous of aggrandizing, and the
constant quarrels, resulting from these pretensions, rendered each
sovereign desirous of cultivating exclusively for himself the Emperor's
friendship and favor. Frederic knew all this, and he meant to profit by
his knowledge. The maxim, "Divide and conquer," was always present to
his mind. Alexander had used every effort to reconcile the two
sovereigns; Barbarossa, on the contrary, did everything in his power to
widen the breach between them. An alliance between the two nations
might have been fatal to his projects, and the end to which he now
looked was to detach both France and England from the Holy Father,
deprive him of his strongest support, and then gain over each,
separately, to the recognition of his schism.

The Emperor's answer, unlike the harangue of the French envoy, was
clear and decided. He expressed, delicately, the consciousness which he
possessed of his own power, and the importance which he attached to it;
at times, indeed, his words sounded almost like threats. Basing his
rights upon the old Roman law, Barbarossa claimed that the Imperial
power was supreme, and that the sovereignty of the Emperor extended
despotically to all the countries immediately bordering upon it.
Perhaps even Frederic himself had not yet foreseen whither his ambition
might lead him; but he knew, by heart, all the texts of the digest
which could be cited in support of his prerogatives.

"We hope," said he, "that the bonds of friendship which already bind
your country with the Empire, will be drawn closer. The duty of the
heir of Charlemagne is to maintain law and order, to respect the laws
of all men, and to assure the peace and tranquillity of Christendom. We
do not make war for the sake of glory and renown; we are forced to it
by necessity, for we will always direct the powerful arm of the Empire
against whoever opposes our supremacy. It is important for us, the
defender of the Faith, never to lose sight of this point; and to
enforce our rights, we count upon the aid of both France and England.
But as this is rather a question within the jurisdiction of a council,
we have requested the presence of plenipotentiaries from your
respective governments; and the decisions of this illustrious assembly
shall be supported and enforced by every means at our command."

Rinaldo, who had listened with great attention to the Emperor's speech,
could not conceal his surprise. Each word seemed a reproach whose
bitterness he disguised with difficulty under a diplomatic smile; and
the closing words produced a similar effect upon the ambassadors. The
French envoy looked towards the Englishman as if to ask: What has been
advised?--what has been approved?--what has been promised? The
Englishman remained calm and unmoved, although the expression of his
countenance was that of one who had trodden upon a viper.

"As we have the pleasure of entertaining at our court the illustrious
envoys of England and France, we beg them to carry to their noble
sovereigns the renewed assurance of our friendship and consideration."

The Emperor rose: the ambassadors made a profound obeisance, and left
the hall accompanied by Otho of Wittelsbach, the Counts of Andechs and
of Bogen, and their suites.

"My imperial cousin," said Henry the Lion, "knows marvellously well how
to sow dissension between France and England."

"You are right," replied Barbarossa; "Louis will never be able to get
rid of the English, if he undertakes to protect Alexander; and, on the
other hand, the Englishman will lose every foot of soil which he now
holds in France, should he presume to oppose the organization of the
Imperial Church."

At this juncture, the Chancellor Palatine Ulrich, upon a sign from the
Emperor, left the room.

"We have yet an act of justice to perform," said he, "at which we
request your presence. A complaint has been made to us of a gross abuse
of authority. Those whom we honor with our confidence should be careful
not to be guilty of acts which will disgrace it. Therefore, without
regard to rank or position, we are determined that vigorous and stern
justice shall be meted out to all."

Whilst Barbarossa was speaking, Rechberg entered the room on one side,
while on the other appeared Herman, the prefect of Staufenberg. He was
followed by Hesso the chief of police, a sufficient evidence that he
was the accused party. He approached the throne boldly and with head
erect, and threw himself upon his knees, where he remained in the
posture of a suppliant.

"Stand up!" said the Emperor, "and let the chancellor do his duty!"

Ulrich advanced between Herman and the Barons; his stern and flushed
face showing that he was about to exercise one of the most important
functions of his office.

"In the name of the Holy and Undivided Trinity!" he cried, in a loud
voice.

At these words the Emperor and his nobles rose from their seats and
bowed profoundly.

"The noble Count Erwin of Rechberg, here present, accuses the knight
Herman, prefect and Imperial Castellan of Staufenberg, of having
exacted illegal tolls, and of having in this abused the name of the
Emperor, to the intent of prejudicing him in the esteem of the public."

"What answer have you to make?" demanded Barbarossa.

"I have never," replied Herman, insolently, "abused the name of the
Emperor, and have never violated the law. I maintain that the
accusation is false and lying, and will prove it so in the lists, sword
in hand."

"Perhaps you had not the intention of violating the law," said
Frederic; "still it is none the less positive that such has been the
result of your illegal conduct."

"If I had not the intention to act illegally, Sire, I can scarcely be
considered criminal. A second time I spurn this accusation as false. I
will prove my innocence with my lance and with my sword."

"We cannot accord you this privilege."

"But the right which I claim belongs to every freeman."

Frederic glanced angrily at the bold knight, but his calm demeanor was
unshaken. The Bishop of Munster immediately spoke out:

"In the name of the Holy Church," said the prelate, "I must correct
your mistake. The canons expressly forbid the practice of trial by
battle. In truth, there is nothing more censurable than this mode of
attempting to establish one's innocence. Admitting that you defeat your
adversary, does that prove in any way that you are not guilty?"

These remarks had not been at all prompted by a sentiment of duty, but
influenced solely by a desire of doing the Emperor a service; and as
the speaker resumed his seat, he glanced towards him to observe the
effect which his words had produced.

"Count Rechberg," resumed the monarch, turning towards Erwin, "what
toll was demanded of you by Herman?"

"Four gold pieces for myself, and eight others for Bonello and his
daughter."

"Do you admit this, sir?"

Herman looked around anxiously, as if seeking a loophole of escape.

"Knight Herman," said Barbarossa, menacingly, "take care to make no
mistake! A denial will avail you nothing, but will only increase the
severity of your punishment."

"Under the impression that I had traitors before me, I did demand
twelve gold pieces; but as God is my judge, I had no intention of
either violating the law, or abusing the Emperor's name."

"However," said Barbarossa, "you have abused your position; you have
robbed our subjects; listen then to your sentence: We deprive you of
your office and your arms, and declare you degraded from the rank of
noble. Your escutcheon shall be broken by the executioner, and a mangy
dog shall drag the pieces around the walls of the city of Milan."

Herman heard the first words of his sentence with a contemptuous smile
upon his face; but when the Emperor spoke of ordering his escutcheon to
be dragged in the mire, he shuddered, changed color, and fell on his
knees before the throne.

"Mercy! Pity!" he cried. "Condemn me to death if you will, but do not
dishonor the escutcheon of my family."

"Silence! Your sentence has been pronounced, and it shall be executed,"
said Frederic.

"Sire," resumed Herman, dragging himself like a worm to the foot of the
throne, "gracious lord, kill me, but in pity do not inflict this
outrage. See these scars," (and tearing open his doublet, he bared his
breast;) "I received them fighting in your cause, and yet now you would
doom me to eternal ignominy!"

"Lead him away," said the stern lawgiver, unmoved by the prayers of the
abject wretch.

The captain and his aids dragged off the condemned man, who mingled
threats and maledictions with his entreaties.



                            _CHAPTER XXII_.

                               _VANITY_.


As soon as Herman's sentence had been pronounced, Erwin left the Camp,
and sought the solitude of a neighboring wood, where he might meditate
at his leisure.

He had considered it his duty to complain of Herman's conduct, but the
demeanor and profound despair of the culprit almost made him regret the
step which he had taken. Rechberg, like all generous-hearted men, was
painfully impressed by the sight of even a well-merited punishment, and
as he reflected upon the sufferings of the disgraced soldier, he was
forcibly reminded of his own troubles. Would the inflexible will of the
Emperor consent to Bonello's pardon? The question was a doubtful one,
but he hoped for the best, and it needed all this hope to sustain his
faltering courage. His reverie was long and absorbing, but suddenly a
strange restlessness took possession of his imagination; and yielding
to his presentiments, he retraced his steps to the Camp as hurriedly as
though he had been informed of the arrival of his lady-love. Still he
could not possibly expect it, for he was ignorant of the designs of the
Empress. However, Hermengarde had really come, and had entered the
Imperial tent at a most opportune moment. Beatrice felt some slight
apprehension of her husband's anger, but as the Emperor and the
Chancellor Rinaldo had gone over to Lodi after the audience of the
ambassadors, she was reassured as to the success of her plans, for a
few days at least.

Her reception of Hermengarde was cordial in the extreme, and was at
first attributed by the latter to the kind offices of Count Rechberg,
but Her Majesty's words undeceived her.

"I cannot express to you," said she, "the pleasure which I experience
in receiving a young girl whose noble self-devotion made no account of
either dangers or difficulties in her father's cause. I desire to
assure you of my sincere respect and admiration, and will hope that the
Court may derive new lustre from your presence."

These flattering words surprised Hermengarde, whose ingenuous soul,
devoid of all pride, had no desire to become conspicuous in any way. At
the end of the reception, which had been wearily lengthened out by the
many formalities then in usage, she withdrew to her own chamber to
repose from the fatigues of the journey.

Beatrice's expectation of the Italian's beauty had been greatly
surpassed by the reality. Herself very handsome, and perfectly aware of
her charms, she had in her invitation neither been influenced by her
guest's merits nor Rechberg's wishes, but simply by the curiosity of
seeing one whose beauty was so widely renowned. Up to this moment her
own rank and loveliness had given her the first place at Court, and now
she found herself in the position of a general who sustains an
unexpected defeat after a long career of victories. The haughty
sovereign was disappointed and provoked, and although she made every
effort to retain her calmness, each movement betrayed the thoughts
which agitated her mind.

"Well, madam, what do you think of the young lady's beauty?" asked
Richilda, who rather liked to tease her mistress.

"Take away those draperies; it is suffocatingly hot," said Beatrice.
"Oh, you ask me what I think?--Do you find her pretty?"

"I have never seen any one like her!" said the tire-woman, boldly. "It
is to be supposed that my taste is not perfect, but it is the
expression of my opinion. She is beautiful, wonderfully beautiful!"

"Indeed? you think her wonderfully beautiful?" repeated Beatrice, with
a mixture of scorn and anger. "You are very enthusiastic, it seems!"

"I only wished to express the highest point of beauty. Perhaps I should
have said beautiful as an angel!--And, indeed, your Majesty, I always
imagined that an angel would look like her!"

Beatrice endeavored to restrain her anger, but in spite of herself, she
colored and grew pale by turns.

"Oh! she is only a child yet, not fourteen they say, and before the age
of twenty she may change a great deal. You know that pretty children
often grow up into ugly women."

"The proverb will be wrong here, your Majesty. The young girl's beauty
is still only in the bud, but we can already foresee what it will
become. When the rose shall be fully blown, I would advise no one to
come near who is not perfectly sure that she can bear the comparison."

"Enough of this nonsense! Hermengarde is betrothed to Count Rechberg,
and I wish to do everything to please him. Go and find out if Rechberg
will be here soon, for I am curious to witness their meeting. You may
invite her to the collation of which I will partake with her."



                            _CHAPTER XXIII_.

                             _THE MEETING_.


Hermengarde felt very uneasy at the Empress' silence with regard to
Erwin. Was he no longer in the Camp? Had he accompanied the Emperor to
Lodi, or perhaps returned to Germany? The doubts annoyed her, and in
her agitation she paced her room with hurried steps.

"You must be tired," said the maid who attended her. "Why in the world
do you run about in that way? I feel quite broken down, and yet you
seem as lively as if you had not ridden fourteen miles to-day."

"Youth bears fatigue easily, but I have been wrong, dear Hedwige, to
make you come such a tiresome journey."

"Wrong! and who but I should accompany you? Your father was away, and
you could not come to the Court alone."

"Oh! Hedwige, you remind me that I have been doubly wrong: first in
tiring you, and then in coming away without my father's permission."

"You could not have declined such an honor. How silly! Many a prince's
daughter would have been flattered by such an invitation! No, no; you
did quite right to accept it."

"But my father's consent?"

"Nonsense! Your father would have been proud of the honor paid you; do
not doubt it a moment."

"Still"--

"Hush!--some one is coming."

At this moment, Richilda, accompanied by several ladies of honor,
entered, bearing a most cordial invitation to visit the Empress. She
was surprised at Hermengarde's sad expression.

"I trust that you are not unwell, noble lady?" she asked, kindly.

"Oh, it is nothing," replied Hermengarde, blushing; "I am only a little
homesick: it is a malady felt by all spoilt children."

"You must forget, for a few days, your Alpine retreats, although Count
Rechberg has given such a vivid picture of their charms, that I can
scarcely wonder that you regret your castle in the midst of all this
turmoil of the camp."

"Has the Count returned to Germany?" asked Hermengarde.

"Oh no! you will meet him at the banquet to which Her Majesty has
commissioned me to invite you."

In a few moments she left her apartment, preceded by several ladies,
who composed an escort of honor. At the head of the procession walked
the master of ceremonies, holding the silver wand of his office. They
passed through several sumptuously furnished apartments, and finally
arrived in the reception-hall.

"The noble Lady of Castellamare!" cried the master of ceremonies, with
a loud voice.

These words interrupted a serious and animated conversation between the
Empress and the Duke of Austria; but Beatrice came forward cordially to
welcome her guest, and at once presented her to the prince.

"I have heard a great deal of you, noble lady, and I am happy now to
make your acquaintance: you realize the ideal; a lovely soul under a
most perfect exterior.--You have given to all children a most beautiful
example to be followed, and you have gained honor and renown. Allow me
to express all my admiration."

"You are taking the true course to make our Hermengarde proud.
Frankness is to be lauded, but must not be abused."

"I crave your Majesty's pardon!" said the Duke, to whom Beatrice was no
stranger, and who knew that the girl's beauty annoyed her; "but I must
say that you have added to your chaplet a pearl whose lustre will
dazzle more than one noble gentleman."

"Oh, you are not frank now," said the Empress, with suppressed rage.
"But come, the banquet awaits us; it is served in a woman's fashion,
but I will not accept a refusal."

Just then the hangings of the door were lifted, and Erwin of Rechberg
entered the room. All eyes were turned upon the youthful pair. The
Count stood motionless, as though rooted to the ground, and with open
eyes seemed to fear to advance lest the lovely vision might fade from
his sight forever.

The Empress, holding the young girl's hand, approached.

"It is no dream, as you seem to fear, Erwin," said she.--"Well, Count,
why do you remain dumb and unmoved? this surprise, I am persuaded,
cannot be a disagreeable one to you."

"A thousand pardons, the----it is so unexpected."

And stepping forward, he kissed his lady's hand. They sat down to
table. On the right of the Empress was placed Hermengarde, on her left
the Duke of Austria, and next to the young Italian was Erwin of
Rechberg. The court attendants were at the foot of the table, with
Hedwige in the place of honor among them; and the worthy nurse had
enough to do in answering all the questions which the curiosity of the
other women prompted them to make. The food, consisting of fowls, game,
fruit, honey and other sweetmeats, was served on silver dishes; but,
except by the Austrian, who quaffed long draughts from a golden goblet,
there was very little attention paid to the choice wines set before
them.

The conversation went on naturally; Rechberg and Hermengarde had so
much to say that they soon forgot to eat or drink, while the Duke
resumed the discussion which the Italian's arrival had interrupted.

"Yes, madame," he said, "it is an irreligious, an impious act. Clemence
is a noble wife, and this pretext of consanguinity is unfounded. Such a
transaction might take place among Moors and Pagans, but among
Christians, never! Clemence is the lawful wife of the Duke of Saxony,
and should he marry another woman, the union would be illegal. That is
my way of looking at the question, and if the affair is debated
publicly, I will state my opinion frankly."

This discourse was highly unpleasant to the Empress, whose position
towards Frederic was involved in the condemnation so freely expressed.
His first wife was still living, and Beatrice, consequently, had no
legitimate claims to the title. Her flashing eyes indicated her
displeasure, as she replied,--

"I had not supposed your relationship so close."

"My relationship! Most certainly it is painful for me to see my
cousin's daughter repudiated so disgracefully, but I have many other
reasons for opposing the divorce. The Emperor may, for reasons of
policy, overthrow everything in Church and State; but, believe me, this
state of things will not continue. To despise the holy teachings of the
faith, to break sacred bonds, to be recreant to every law which is
revered by nations and sovereigns, are acts of impiety which cannot
always go unpunished."

"You are a skilful preacher," said Beatrice, whose frivolous
temperament was little disposed to serious questions. "One can see that
you were educated by the monks."

"The memories of my youth do not influence my opinions on holy matters.
However, I owe many thanks to the good priests of Fulva."

"And I see that your ducal robes are only a species of cowl!"

"Your Majesty, I perceive, agrees with the Emperor; he also has little
affection for the monks."

"And very naturally, too. They oppose energetically all development of
the Imperial power, for these pious people will not tolerate any
division of authority."

"At least they will not acknowledge his spiritual supremacy, and in
this they are perfectly right," said the Duke, with his usual
frankness.

"Heavens! how you warm with this subject! But let us drop the
discussion; neither of us will convince the other."

"Pardon me, madam! I have just learned the story of this divorce.
Astonished, furious at the infamy of the proceeding, I came here to
express my views frankly to the Emperor; but, as His Majesty
unfortunately is absent, I have ventured to express my sentiments to
you. May I hope that you will sympathize with me, and use your
influence in the defence of this ill-used woman?"

"Enough," said she. "Your conversation has been very instructive, for,
until to-day, I was not aware that she who took the place of a divorced
wife was no better than a courtesan. You may rest assured, my lord,
that the Emperor, as well as myself, will appreciate the lesson as it
deserves."

The Duke felt that he had made himself a mortal enemy, but it gave him
no uneasiness whatever. Duke Jacomgirott was no courtier, and his
energetic character never concealed, even for an instant, his true
sentiments. Beatrice left him in anger, but what she witnessed on the
other side was not calculated to calm her emotions; her glance was
fixed for one moment on the fair Hermengarde, who was conversing
joyously with the Count.

"Your attentions are not at all displeasing to me," she said; "but we
have determined that you shall not entirely monopolize our amiable
guest. She will accompany us to our private apartments." The Empress
rose, and bowing coldly to the Duke, swept out of the hall, accompanied
by the lady of Castellamare, and followed by her retinue.

"I have made her my enemy for life," said the Austrian to himself. "She
cannot, it is true, sympathize with my poor Clemence without thinking
of the Empress Adelaide, whose place she has usurped. Ah! what is it,
my little man?" as Lanzo advanced, with a grave and important air.

"If my eyes do not deceive me," said the jester, "you are the Duke of
Austria?"

"Yes; what then?"

"Then, you must know, that you see before you the ambassador of the
Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria."

"You the envoy of a duchess! Upon my word, I am surprised."

"You should not be, my lord; Clemence wanted to find some one to carry
her message, but as there are but three men in the four camps, her
choice was necessarily limited."

"Three men only, among so many thousands of gallant soldiers! What a
piece of impertinence. You deserve a flogging; but come, let us see who
these three men are!"

"The first one, naturally, is myself; the second, is my cousin
Barbarossa; and the third shall be you, if you choose," said the
jester.

"How is that!" interrupted Erwin. "Am not I a man too?"

"No," replied Lanzo. "To be a man, you must be free; and your heart is
in bondage!"

"A sorry joke!" said the Duke, with a laugh.

"And all the others are the mere dolls, puppets, wooden horses,
armorbearers, and bloodhounds of one man, named Barbarossa. Mix up all
these creatures together, pound them into a paste, and put it under a
press; you will not extract the least action of independence, energy,
or generosity."

"Hum! you are not far wrong; but we are forgetting the important part.
What is it that your Excellency is empowered to communicate to me?"

"That you must go at once to your cousin; she has been seeking you for
the last hour."

The Duke took his leave of Rechberg, and in company with the jester
went towards the tent of the Princess of Saxony.



                            _CHAPTER XXIV_.

                              _THE WALK_.


Hedwige was busily employed in dressing the hair of her young mistress,
and after arranging the silken tresses which fell in a mass of curls
upon her shoulders, she placed a crown of silver, studded with jewels,
upon her head.

"Be good enough," she said, "to look in the mirror, and tell me if you
are satisfied with my skill."

"It does well enough!" replied Hermengarde, after a hasty glance; "but
now, hurry and finish."

"I cannot go so fast. You know that every one looks at you. I don't
want to be accused of negligence!" and she gazed affectionately at the
young girl.

Hermengarde was dressed entirely in white; her robe fitting closely to
her arms and bust, displayed the elegance of her figure, and by its
shape and color enhanced her native grace and distinction. Her whole
soul beamed in her eyes, and, as she stood there before her nurse, she
appeared the creature of another world, detached from the cares and
anxieties of earth.

"So far it is all right!" said Hedwige, after a careful examination.
She placed a light blue mantle, with buttons and embroideries of gold,
upon her shoulders.

"Perfect," she resumed; "I could kiss you gladly, you look so well!
White and blue suit you admirably."

"Don't stop for such follies, Hedwige; they have already been twice to
see if we were ready."

"Do not fear; we will get there in time for the cavalcade. But how
stiff and cold everything is here. The Empress' women are like dolls.
What serious faces! and what choice language they use! I am afraid all
the time to open my mouth, lest I say something I ought not to. I am
glad that we are going where we shall have a little freedom."

She threw over her mistress a costly mantle trimmed with ermine, and
then fastened to her coronet a long veil, which shielded her face from
the heat of the sun and the impertinent stare of the crowd.

A few moments after, Hermengarde and Erwin rode through the camp
towards the neighboring wood, followed by Hedwige and the Count's
servant Gero.

"How long has it been since your visit to Castellamare, my lord
Count?--about three months, is it not?"

"Three months and six days, madam."

"Perhaps you will explain why, during three months and six days, we
have never seen you? My father gave you a most cordial invitation. You
know under what obligations we felt ourselves, and were certain of the
pleasure which your presence would cause. Why then did you not come?"

"Because, noble lady, I am not free; all my time belongs to the
Emperor."

"And the Emperor does not wish you to visit the Bonelli? I should have
thought of that."

"Oh, no!" answered Rechberg quickly; "the Emperor's great mind never
cherishes a mean thought. He speedily forgets the past, but he enforces
strict discipline in his army. Neither prince nor knight is his own
master in the field."

"What rigorous severity!" said Hermengarde.

"It is necessary, I assure you. Think what would happen if every one
could leave camp when he pleased."

"Well, well! I accept your excuse; duty before everything. But look,
what a beautiful grove! How the grass and the flowers bloom, and the
pines spread out their verdant branches! It is truly charming; but it
wants the grandeur of our Alpine forests."

"If you wish, we will go on a little further; there is a lovely spot
above, where I have often dreamed in secret," replied the Count.

She assented. Gero was left with the horses; and accompanied by
Hedwige, they followed the narrow path which led to the top of the
hill. As soon as they had arrived, Rechberg spread his mantle on the
grass, and Hermengarde took her seat.

The dense foliage of the trees stretched above them like a dome of
verdure, in which the birds were chirping their gay songs. Through an
opening of the forest could be seen the towers and spires of Milan, but
all around the forest was thickly planted, and the eye could penetrate
with difficulty through the underbrush.

Scarcely had the young girl seated herself, when two men began to creep
up silently and cautiously towards the little group, and concealing
themselves behind a tree, listened eagerly to the conversation. One of
them was in complete armor, and wore his visor down, but his eyes
glared fiercely through the bars of his helmet. The other had only a
cuirass, and beneath his hat appeared the cunning face of the Milanese
Cocco Griffi.

"You have chosen a beautiful spot," said Hermengarde; "and this
perspective is admirable."

"Yes; and it was in some degree on that account I selected this wild
site----"

At this moment the man in armor uttered an angry exclamation through
his visor, and disappeared in the thicket, followed by his companion.



                             _CHAPTER XXV_.

                             _THE CAPTURE_.


"What say you of this adventure?" asked Griffi of the knight, with whose
long strides he could scarcely keep pace; "I know that you are entirely
disinterested in the question."

The knight made no answer. They soon reached a clearing, where a dozen
soldiers were sleeping on the ground. The knight's horse was fastened
to a tree by a long strap, which allowed him to graze at his ease.

"Up sleepers!" cried the knight. The soldiers sprang to their feet, and
awaited anxiously their leader's instructions.

"Come here, Wido!" he continued, speaking to a broad-shouldered young
man near him.

After Wido had unfastened the horse and tied the strap to the
saddle-bow, Cocco Griffi approached.

"You will surely not kill them?" he said.

"What is that to you?" the knight answered roughly. "And you," he
added, turning to one of the troopers, "lead my horse to the road, and
wait until you hear my bugle."

"But, noble sir," observed Griffi, "we did not come here to commit an
evil action, but to help pass in some provisions for the hungry
Milanese. It would be terrible if the convoy, deprived of our support,
should fall into Hesso's power. He will cut off the right hands of all
the people in the train, and the provisions will never get to Milan."

"Silence!"

"Silence! yes, silence!" murmured Griffi; "I am to hold my tongue and
let my fellow-citizens die of hunger! Before I announced to you the
presence of this girl, I should have reflected on the folly of which I
was guilty in speaking of her."

The chief looked at the little man calmly, as if he thought that, after
all, he might be right; and taking out a purse, he handed its
glittering contents to his attendant.

"Here! don't get angry, Cocco! At least you cannot say that you have
ever done me a service without receiving a reward for it."

"Great service, worthy reward, upon my word!" said Cocco, weighing the
purse. "I must smother my intelligence, in order to look at things in
the same light as you do. We will see whether our marauders will ever
reach the city. I am afraid that they are in mortal danger of falling
into Hesso's clutches!"

The knight ordered his men to follow him as silently as possible, and
they crept forward to where Erwin and the lady were talking with
Hedwige. Suddenly Hedwige uttered a piercing shriek, and at the same
moment, Rechberg was thrown backwards upon the ground. Wido put his
knee upon his chest, and the other varlets tied him hand and foot, so
that he could not move. Hermengarde had scarcely time to understand
what had happened, when the Unknown seized her by the arm and dragged
her through the wood. Behind them ran Hedwige, screaming with terror,
and Gero, who came up to his master's aid, was speedily put in a
condition to make no resistance.

Still it was no easy matter to tie up the knight, whose powerful arm
resisted manfully; and could he have but gained his feet, his sword
would have rendered the success of the attempt at least doubtful.

"Thunder!" exclaimed Wido, "are not eight valiant Lombards a match
for this German wild boar? Nozi, pass that strap under his left
arm,--good!--now pull tight, comrade! Slip this one more to the right!
Come, I think he is well tied up now--we will see whether he can break
these triple knots. Be careful about the feet too, for you can never
tell when these wild beasts are securely fastened!"

"And now, I think we can let him wriggle, like a fish out of water."

"Wretches, caitiffs, scoundrels!" cried Erwin.

"Hold your tongue!" said one of the soldiers; "it won't untie you, and
it is only a useless fatigue. Try to die quietly."

"Is my life threatened?"

"What a question! our master never spares any Germans who fall into his
hands. It is a real pleasure for us to cut your throats!"

"Who is your master?"

"Ask him yourself!"

"And the lady!--The villain!--let this bandit but dare to be wanting in
respect!"

"I suppose that you would leave your grave to twist his neck," sneered
Wido. "But here comes our master himself, to give you every explanation
which you may desire."

The Unknown, at the same moment, came up, with his helmet closed;
halting in front of Erwin, he stood with arms folded, as though
deliberating on his fate.

"Raise your visor, villain, and show me your bandit's face!" said
Erwin, furiously.

"It is unnecessary; I am a brave Lombard, who has sworn to free his
country of German tyranny. That ought to suffice you."

"And meanwhile you practise a truly Lombard profession,--robbers,
assassins, and cheats, that you all are!"

"Spare your words, and listen to me. I have no doubt that what I have
done appears criminal, particularly in the eyes of the noble Count of
Rechberg, for whom, in spite of the hatred which I bear his race, I
still have a certain respect, on account of his generous sentiments.
Without this consideration, I would have killed you immediately; for I
am bound by a solemn oath to destroy the enemies of Italy, wherever I
can meet them."

"Very well; but is it the act of a brave man to attack a defenceless
girl? Shame upon you!"

"Silence!" said the Unknown, interrupting him. "I deliver the lady of
Castellamare from the power of those who are unworthy to possess such a
treasure! The thoughtlessness of youth, perhaps a feeling of gratitude
induced her, in her father's absence, to leave the castle and visit the
tyrant's court. The lady shall remain under my protection until I can
restore her to that of her father."

The Count stared at this man who, at all events, reassured him of
Hermengarde's safety from all insult or danger.

"But by what right do you interfere in the matter," he said.

"It matters not; the right is mine, and I use it. Hermengarde has
begged me to spare your life, and although I almost hate her for the
request, I have consented; you are free.--Your gray head," continued
the Lombard, turning to Gero, "assures me of your discretion; so listen
attentively, for your master's sake, to what I am about to say. In an
hour's time, you may untie him; we shall then have reached Milan, and
it will be impossible to follow me. But take care not to let yourself
be touched by his entreaties, for if he should pursue, I shall consider
myself freed from my promise, and he shall die. Will you swear to obey
me?"

"With all my heart," answered Gero; "and literally too!--Not to please
you, but on my master's account."

"You are an honest fellow," said the knight. And drawing his poniard,
he cut the ropes which bound the squire.

"By all the saints of paradise!" cried Erwin; "since you still have
some chivalrous feelings left, will you accept my challenge?"

"With pleasure, when and where you will!"

"Whither can I send it?" asked Rechberg, eagerly.

"What use is there of all these formalities when your Emperor violates
every law, whether human or divine. Present yourself, under a flag of
truce, at the gate of St. Ambrose; you will find me there."

"I thank you," said the Count. "Be prepared tomorrow at early dawn."

"You will find the horses where you left them," added the Unknown. "You
have stolen nothing, I trust," he continued, turning to his followers,
who had listened with curiosity to the dialogue.

"For whom do you take us, my lord?" replied Wido. "But this glove which
I see here, scarcely will fit the hand of a German boar, so I conclude
it is not his property."

"Ah! give it to me," said the Unknown; "it belongs to Hermengarde. If
our combat should be prevented by any accident, you can always
recognize your enemy by this glove which he will wear on his helmet.
Yes, I will bear this in her honor and as a defiance to you."

At these words he signed to his men to follow him, and soon the troop
disappeared in the recesses of the forest.

"What a strange person!" said Erwin; "he is a singular mixture of an
honest man and a highway robber.

"Yes," replied Gero; "but there is a preponderance of the robber. His
loyalty seems to me like a drop of wine in a cask of water. My lord, I
don't like to see you stretched thus on the ground, so I will lift you
upon your feet."

"Cut these ropes, and I will lift myself up."

"Excuse me, my lord Count, but I cannot; for I fear that you will make
a bad use of your liberty, and pursue the bandits."

Gero, after some trouble, managed to get his master on his feet, and
then went to look for the horses. In the interval, Rechberg reflected
upon the change which had taken place in his position, and which had
seemingly blasted his hopes. It was all over, he thought; Hermengarde
was in the power of one who seemed to have certain claims to her; but
Gero's return put an end to his meditations.

"Decidedly, they were not robbers. I have found the horses where I left
them," said the soldier; "and now I have tied them up close by, ready
for us to mount when the hour is up."

"You say they were not robbers, Gero?"

"Well, not ordinary robbers; for if they had been, these gold rings on
your baldric and your horses too, would have disappeared."

"Hasten, my good fellow, and cut these ropes at once; you would leave
me a prisoner forever, it seems!"

"The hour is not quite up yet, Count; be patient a little while longer.
Does the time really appear so wearisome?"

"Even if I would, it is impossible for me to pursue the bandit now. Do
you not perceive how dark it grows?"

"Pray have a little patience, my dear lord. I am dreaming of your
triumph of to-morrow; be assured that I will select the strongest lance
and the best tempered coat-of-mail in your armory."

"You think, then, that he will meet me?"

"Most certainly; he has too proud an air to be a disloyal knight."

"But who is he? It is strange, but it seems as though I had already
heard his voice."

"Do not worry your brain by guessing, Count; you will know his face
soon enough."

"You are right. Never before have I experienced so much curiosity to
see an adversary raise his visor!"

"And now, my lord, allow me to untie you;--how tightly the villains
have drawn these knots!"

"Do you think so? And yet I felt nothing.--Quickly, now, Gero; where
are the horses?"

They mounted and left the wood, as speedily as the obscurity would
permit; but before reaching the camp, Rechberg was obliged to witness a
scene rendered still more horrible by the darkness. He had scarcely
advanced a hundred yards, when his attention was arrested by the
clashing of arms and the shouts of strife. Always curious to recognize
his enemy, he drew up his horse to listen, for he imagined that there
must be some connection between this nocturnal combat and the Unknown,
whose escape he hoped had been prevented by some of the German patrols.
As he advanced as rapidly as prudence and the darkness permitted, the
noise ceased and he perceived, by the light of a dozen torches, a troop
of heavily laden mules, whose drivers, with downcast eyes and manacled
hands, were marching between two files of armed men.

"It is Hesso and his bloodhounds," cried Gero; "I know his gruff
voice!"

"Captain Hesso," said Rechberg, when they had gotten nearer, "I heard
the noise of your skirmish, as I was returning to camp, and was about
to come to your assistance."

"I scarcely needed it, my lord."

"You have made a valuable capture, it seems!"

"Yes," answered Hesso; "twenty mules, and eight Milanese. One got away,
and three were killed, so that four will escape punishment."

"Was there no escort?" inquired Erwin, as he rode by the headsman's
side.

"No, not this time, although usually one comes out from Milan; but
to-day it failed."

Thinking that the Unknown and his soldiers had probably been detailed
for that duty, Erwin determined to question the prisoners, in the hope
of discovering the name of his adversary.

"We must invent some other punishment," resumed Hesso. "They don't care
for mutilation; one of them told me the other day, that Milan would
give him a golden hand to replace the one that I had cut off. If the
Emperor wants to starve them out, he will have to hang every one who
tries to bring even a handful of peas into the town."

"Death is the punishment for a repetition of the offence, I believe?"
asked the knight.

"Yes; but they are very careful not to be caught at that! They are so
well paid for mutilation that they are not tempted to risk their lives.
But they do not seem to care for their hands at all, and I am kept busy
all day long in intercepting their convoys.--I suppose that, while I am
stopping this one, another has got into the city."

By this time, they had reached the line of tents occupied by Hesso and
his assistants--about thirty paces in front of the main camp. In the
centre stood a gallows, and, near by, a heavy block stained with blood,
to which the unfortunate prisoners were led.

"Do you mean to carry their sentence into effect at once?" asked Erwin.

"Certainly! These birds are a useless encumbrance in camp; as soon as
they have left their hands with me, they can go where they please. Such
is the law!" replied Hesso, who had taken off his doublet, and stood,
with his shirt-sleeves rolled up to the elbows, before the fatal block.

One of the prisoners came up; his pale and suffering expression
painfully affected the Count, who could not bear the sight of this
barbarous tragedy, which to Hesso was a mere pastime.

"Bring up your contribution," said the headsman; "what a face the
scoundrel has! he trembles, and his teeth chatter with fear."

A dull sound was heard, followed by a plaintive groan.

"One!" said the executioner, as he threw the hand on one side; "look
what a baby-paw it is!"

The assistants joined in their chiefs laugh, as they saw the mutilated
wretch faint with pain.

"Never mind!" said Hesso, coolly; "if he bleeds to death, we shall be
sure that he won't try this business again."

"One moment, sir! Will you allow me a moment's conversation with the
prisoners?" asked Erwin.

"What for?" was the reply, and the headsman stared angrily at the
Count.

"As you have yourself told me, the besieged are in the habit of sending
out to escort these convoys; perhaps I may gain some useful information
which will decide the Emperor to adopt some more energetic measures!"

"Three!" cried Hesso.

And at the same time was heard the cry of pain and a brutal laugh.

"More energetic measures are well enough, but you will get no
information.--Four!"

"But it is worth trying."

"Five!"--and a bloody hand fell at Erwin's feet.

"It will be labor in vain; you don't know these bandits; all they are
fit for, is to lie and steal!--Seven!--And besides, it is too late
now,--here is the last--Eight!--It is all over. Long live the Emperor!"
said Hesso.

Among the victims, some had fainted with pain, others had still
strength enough to bind up their bleeding arms.

"Have you no orders to dress their wounds?" asked Erwin. "The Emperor
has prescribed their punishment, but he does not wish the poor wretches
to bleed to death."

"You are right," was the reply. "Where is that quack Lutold? Come here
with your plasters, old man."

And while the surgeon, thanks to the interference of the young Count,
discharged his duty, Rechberg and his squire took their way to the
Imperial camp.



                            _CHAPTER XXVI_.

                              _TREACHERY_.


Events of great importance had attracted the attention of all the
Court, and Erwin's prolonged and unusual absence had in consequence
passed unnoticed.

Influenced by their sincere admiration for the heroic resistance made
by the citizens, and out of respect for the nobility of the Guelphic
faction, the Count Palatine Conrad, Count Ludwig, and the Duke of
Bohemia, decided to employ all their influence in case the besieged
should seek to negotiate terms of surrender. The Milanese Consuls were
agreeably surprised by the proposal, and eagerly accepted the offered
mediation.

A short time after Erwin's departure from the camp, the nobles
presented themselves in a body before the Emperor and made known their
views on the subject. At first Frederic was astonished, and disposed to
reject any arrangement, but the firmness of the princes finally
persuaded him that some concession must be made to the chivalrous
spirit of the age, and the Milanese were notified that His Majesty
would deign to receive a flag of truce.

Barbarossa attached more importance to this step than it really
merited; for, accustomed to look at everything from the standpoint of
his pretensions to universal sovereignty, he thought himself aggrieved,
not by the interference of his knights, but by what seemed an
encouragement given to rebels. Besides, he was provoked at the
opposition made by the Duke of Austria to the contemplated divorce
between Clemence and Henry the Lion, and particularly by the
conversation which Beatrice had repeated to him. Rinaldo, who was sent
for, went still further, and loud words and threats were overheard in
the Imperial chamber, which the Chancellor did not leave until after
midnight. What passed between the Emperor and his minister was never
known, but the chronicles of the Court leave us in doubt whether the
latter was ever informed of the efforts made by the princes in favor of
the Milanese.

Such being the condition of affairs, it was not surprising that the
absence of the Count and the lady passed unnoticed, and that Erwin
could quietly retire to his chamber and prepare for the combat which
was to take place on the ensuing day.

At dawn everything was ready, for Gero had faithfully attended to his
duty. Rechberg put on a shirt of fine chain-mail, with a hood for the
neck and back of the head, and his arms and legs were protected with.
brassarts and greaves of linked steel. Above all this, he wore a suit
of plate armor with gauntlets, and a polished helmet. A poniard and a
long sword completed his equipment, while a page, according to the
custom of that time, carried his lance and shield.

Preceded by a herald, Erwin left the camp and took his way towards the
appointed place of meeting. What was his surprise to find the gates
open and the garrison drawn up in line upon the towers and ramparts.
Entirely ignorant of the arrangement which had been made, he was at a
loss to explain the situation. The noise of arms could be heard in that
division of the camp occupied by the troops of the Archbishop of
Cologne, and still there could be no mistake on the part of the
besieged, whose movements were slow and precise, and among whom could
be seen the consuls in their robes of ceremony, escorted by a showy
retinue.

Whilst Rechberg was gazing with curiosity on the scene, the trumpets
sounded, and the Cologne troops marched rapidly from their camp and
charged the Milanese, who, unprepared for the attack, were unable, for
some moments, to organize themselves. On all sides was heard the cry of
"Treachery," and at the same time reinforcements issued from the city
to the support of the assailed.

Rechberg felt the more surprised that he perceived the standard of the
Duke of Bohemia in the midst of the Milanese. The strife became more
deadly every moment, and Rinaldo was in serious danger, for the Duke of
Bohemia, after endeavoring in vain to quell the trouble, had withdrawn
from the _melée_. Erwin rode hastily towards Count Ludwig, and the
other nobles on whose faces he read an expression of settled anger.

"We are eternally disgraced!" said the Count Palatine Conrad.

"The villain! the treacherous villain!" said the Duke of Bohemia. "That
infamous Chancellor! I will insult him to his face, when he returns."

"His return will be a difficult matter," added Goswin; "see how he is
surrounded; and how his men are falling! Look there, that lance-thrust
will hurl him from his saddle!"

Count Dassel, in truth, was in mortal danger, hemmed in on all sides by
the enraged Milanese. At this moment the Emperor and his knights, in
full armor, rode up.

"How is this, my lords? What means this combat? How! Cologne is in
peril, and you remain idle?"

"Pardon, Sire," answered Count Ludwig; "the Chancellor has,
treacherously, attacked the Milanese, who, confiding in our word, had
left the city. He is justly suffering the punishment of his treason."

"It is possible that the Chancellor may have erred, but you are equally
guilty if you allow our Germans to be crushed!" replied Frederic. "Ride
to the camp, Goswin! and bring up your men; and you, Erwin, take this
troop, and charge the enemy on the flank."

Whilst Rechberg, in the execution of the order, put himself at the head
of the column, Barbarossa turned to the princes and nobles, and with
prayers and threats endeavored to force them to take part in the
combat; but it was in vain he spoke.

"It has never been our duty, Sire, to defend traitors!" said the Count
Palatine Conrad.

"Take care, sir," replied the Emperor, menacingly; "you may have cause
to repent your conduct." He spurred to the head of a small body of
men-at-arms who had assembled in the mean time.

"Courage, my faithful knights!" he cried, couching his lance; "think of
German glory!--a German flag is in danger! Charge to its rescue!" and
with levelled lances, the men-at-arms hurled themselves upon the foe.

Rechberg was already in the thickest of the fight, sowing death and
destruction around him, in his efforts to relieve the Chancellor; but
it was in vain that he sought the Unknown, whom he was to recognize by
the glove upon his helmet.

The fresh troops from the camp and the Milanese were now engaged in a
fierce hand-to-hand conflict. The confusion was immense; without order
or preconcerted plan, each man attacked his adversary wherever he could
find him. The ground trembled under the hoofs of the charging horses,
swords clashed, and lances rose and fell; and the shrill blasts of the
trumpets, and the cries of rage and agony, formed a fitting
accompaniment to the sombre tragedy. Erwin pressed forward to where the
consuls stood, unable either to advance or retreat; but before he could
accomplish his object, a loud shout was heard on the left, where the
Emperor was fighting. Rechberg looked around; the Emperor had
disappeared, but a fierce struggle was going on, and the cry "the
Emperor is down!" ran through the ranks; and then the Germans, with a
wild yell, began to drive back the enemy, who were giving way on all
sides; and at this moment the Emperor regained his saddle and charged
forward.

Erwin had finally reached the consuls, while the Milanese were breaking
in great confusion.

"Surrender!" he shouted, placing his sword's point on the breast of
Gherardo Nigri.

"I yield," replied the Italian, "on the usual terms of chivalry."

The Count confided the prisoner to one of his companions.

"Friend Berthold," he said, "accompany this gentleman to your tent, and
remain with him until my return."

The rout had now become general, and the Germans pursued the fugitives
to the very gates of the city. Eighty men-at-arms and two hundred and
sixty-six infantry, who had left the town to aid the Consuls, were
prisoners, while heaps of dead and wounded covered the field of battle.

Before taking off his armor, our hero repaired to the tent where he had
placed his prisoner.

Nigri looked up with an air of reproach, as Rechberg entered.

"I beg you to accept my excuses, my lord, for the unfortunate events
which have occurred this morning, whose cause I entirely ignore, but in
which my honor compelled me to engage."

"My lord Count," replied Gherardo, "I can find no fault with your
explanation; the Chancellor's hatred for my country is such, that to
gratify it, he considers himself at liberty to use even disloyal
weapons against us."

"No apology can be made for Dassel's conduct; but Milan also counts
among her citizens some whose loyalty is most questionable," replied
Erwin.

"I understand you," said Nigri: "you allude to a matter which interests
you personally--and me also. The capture of Hermengarde is a most
reprehensible action."

Rechberg was surprised, but his astonishment increased when the Consul,
after a brief pause, continued.

"My son's act is very reprehensible, it is true; but perhaps under
similar circumstances you would have done the same. Pietro is not yet
formally betrothed to Hermengarde, but their marriage has been in
contemplation for many years.--Put yourself in Pietro's place and tell
me if his conduct does not seem less culpable?"

The Count was thunderstruck; he looked wildly at the Consul, and then
paced the room in great agitation.

"Indeed?" said he, "I was not aware of this."

"You perceive, then, that Pietro's claim to the young lady somewhat
palliates his violence."

"Yes! yes! naturally."

"Still, what he has done is unworthy of a knight, and I count upon your
generosity not to make the father responsible for--"

"No; but your son's action will in some degree modify the conditions of
your release. Excuse me for a moment. My friend Berthold will, during
my absence, discharge the duties of host."

"With pleasure, Count," said Berthold; "I look upon it as an honor to
entertain your prisoner."

Erwin mounted and rode over to the Imperial tent; for he wished to be
alone for a short time. On his arrival, Gero announced that a Guelphic
knight urgently desired to see him.

"You are not wounded, I trust, my lord?" said the squire, as he was
taking off his armor.

"No!"

"It is a pity that your duel was prevented. But perhaps the Unknown has
not come off scot-free, and indeed he may have been killed or captured,
for we have taken prisoner a great many knights."

"That will do now, Gero; you may put away the armor and then leave me.
I wish to be alone."

The squire obeyed without another word; for he had never seen his
master so sorrowful and dispirited.

"May I bring the stranger in when he returns?" he asked, as he was
retiring.

"Yes," replied the knight, seating himself sadly in a chair, and
already plunged in a gloomy revery, which betrayed itself in his
features.

Bonello of Castellamare entered a moment afterwards, and met with a
reception whose coolness he at once attributed to its proper cause.

"My daughter," he said, "has been severely punished for visiting the
court without my permission."

"Do you think so?" asked Erwin.

"Do you doubt it, my lord Count?"

"From what I have just learned, her marriage with Pietro Nigri has been
definitely settled for some time," remarked the young German.

"The project is abandoned; Hermengarde will never be the wife of Pietro
Nigri."

"Still, the Consul, who appears to be an honorable man, and who for a
few hours has been my prisoner, tells a very different story."

"Because he is ignorant of certain facts. It is true that, a few years
ago, a marriage between our children was contemplated. But I have never
spoken to Hermengarde on the matter, and I know that Pietro's manners
have in some way of late displeased her. Besides, after your visit to
Castellamare, she herself informed me that she would never be his wife,
and as my intention is in no way to coerce her inclinations, she is
perfectly free."

This revelation changed at once Rechberg's expression, and in his
delight he almost threw himself into Bonello's arms; but suddenly his
countenance fell as he thought of Hermengarde still a prisoner in
Milan.

"My daughter will leave the city to-day," Bonello hastily added.
"Gherardo Nigri is your prisoner, and Pietro will not refuse to
exchange Hermengarde for his father."

Before Rechberg could answer, the Chancellor entered, and after a
hurried glance at Bonello, saluted the Count, with many warm thanks for
his opportune assistance during the battle.

"I merely did my duty," replied Erwin, "and am delighted that you have
come out of it safely."

"I escaped myself," said Dassel, gravely; "but fully two-thirds of my
men have fallen. May God rest their souls! With his thanks, His Majesty
has also commissioned me to deliver you a message. The influential
consul Gherardo Nigri has, I have heard, fallen into your hands. The
Emperor requests that you will deliver him up to himself."

"I regret that I cannot comply with His Majesty's wishes. Nigri is
already at liberty."

"What!" cried Dassel; "you have already sent him back to Milan?"

"He has not yet gone, but he will be dispatched shortly."

"Do not be too hasty; at least, wait until I have informed the
Emperor!" and the courtier hurriedly left the room.

"My lord Count," said Guido, who had anxiously listened to the
conversation, "you will do wisely in acceding to His Majesty's
desires."

"Not at all," answered Rechberg; "the prisoner belongs to me, and to me
only!"

At this moment the Chancellor reappeared.

"The Emperor desires your immediate presence," he said.

"Very well, my lord; I will obey at once. As for you, my lord Bonello,
go to the consul Nigri and inform him upon what conditions he can
obtain his release. Gero, show this gentleman the way to Berthold's
quarters; I will be there soon myself."

"Be prudent, young man," said Dassel, after Guido had left them. "Take
my advice, and comply with your godfather's wishes. You know that
everything should give way before State reasons."

"It is well; let us go on," replied Erwin.

"I would deeply regret should your interest for this Italian lady
prompt you to refuse to accede to the Imperial desires. I beg you to be
prudent, and do nothing which might compromise your good fortune."

Rechberg was silent, and they entered the Emperor's apartment. With a
gracious smile, Frederic motioned them to approach.

"We are not altogether satisfied with you, Erwin; you keep up an
intimacy with one who has incurred our Imperial displeasure, and even
receive the traitor's visit in our own quarters. And, more than this,
we are inexpressibly surprised at these projects of marriage with
Bonello's daughter, whose invitation, on the part of the Empress, to
visit the Court has displeased us. We desire and insist that such
things do not occur again."

Rechberg heard this sharp rebuke in silence.

"To-day's battle," continued Frederic, "in which you took a very
distinguished part, has given into your hands the consul Nigri. He
belongs to you, according to the laws of chivalry; and as we are
unwilling to be guilty of any act of injustice, we merely express a
simple desire that he may be delivered over to our charge."

"Pardon me, Sire! It is impossible for me to comply with your wishes,"
said Erwin, respectfully but firmly. "Hermengarde was carried off by
Nigri's son; her release depends upon that of the consul. In this
circumstance, I feel sure that your Majesty will make no opposition to
the course which I have taken, and which is entirely consistent with
the laws of chivalry."

"Ah! the duties of chivalry!" cried Barbarossa, angrily. "Under this
pretext our vassals have hesitated to protect their sovereign in the
late battle; and Count Rechberg, always on the same plea, refuses what
the Emperor requests. When will this stop? If it goes on, all our
vassals will soon be false to their oaths of fealty."

"Loyalty and courage are a part of the duties of chivalry," replied
Erwin, "and they are as sacred as the others."

"You appear to set great store by them, young man. It is very lucky for
Bonello! But do not go too far,--and fear our displeasure."

Erwin-bore with calmness the monarch's angry looks.

"It is strange," resumed the Emperor, still more violently; "it is
strange how this girl seems always to glide between us. I tell you, it
is high time that you return to reason, and discard these absurd
illusions. The daughter of the traitor Bonello is no fit wife for a
Count of Rechberg."

The young man was in a most unpleasant position; but after a moment's
hesitation, he answered,--

"Sire, I cannot, I must not comply with your wishes."

"Very good!" said the enraged monarch; "since you will not do as I ask,
it would be absurd to test your courage any further. Go and prepare for
your journey. To-morrow you will return to Germany."

Erwin had not expected this result. He felt sure that with one word he
could soften Frederic's displeasure by yielding to his demand. But,--

"No!" he muttered to himself, "I cannot!" and bowing respectfully, he
turned and left the Imperial chamber.

"If we could put his disobedience out of the question, we should think
him charming," said Frederic. "Did you notice that he would not give
way to his emotions, even although his heart was full to bursting?"

"It seems to me entirely natural," replied the Chancellor; "he is a
Rechberg, and all of his family bear in this respect a striking
resemblance to their relatives of Hohenstauffen."

"We shall miss him greatly," resumed the Emperor. "But the healthy,
bracing air of Suabia will soon cure him of these stupid and absurd
ideas of marriage."



                            _CHAPTER XXVII_.

                            _THE BETROTHAL_.


The entrance of several of the princes turned Barbarossa's attention to
a subject of serious importance. Rinaldo's treachery had excited
general indignation. The nobles thought themselves dishonored, and
their arrival announced a storm. They came in abruptly; their obeisance
to the Emperor was less respectful than usual, and all glanced angrily
upon the minister.

"To what do we owe the honor of this unexpected visit?" asked Frederic,
as they took their seats.

"We have come," replied the Landgrave Louis, "to demand the condign
punishment of your Chancellor Rinaldo, who traitorously attacked the
Milanese when their envoys, confiding in the sanctity of our word, and
with full trust in our honor, were on their way to the Court."

"Your complaints deeply grieve us," said the Emperor; "we foresee all
the evils which may result from these misunderstandings. But let us be
just before all things. My lord Chancellor, what have you to plead in
your defence?"

Dassel assumed an air of injured innocence, and in an insinuating tone
replied,--

"The accused should have the right to defend his cause always, and
particularly in the present case, where there are many excuses to be
urged. My fidelity to your Majesty, and the respect which I have always
professed for the nobility of the Empire, are in themselves a guarantee
for my innocence. May God preserve me from violating a princely word!
Had I been aware that the Milanese, although the avowed enemies of the
Emperor and the Empire, had approached our camp with a safeguard, I
should not have presumed to attack them. I can only crave my pardon on
the ground of ignorance, if such an excuse be in your eyes worthy of
acceptance."

"But, Chancellor, did we not cry, and that too, loudly, that the
Italians were under the protection of our word, and that they must not
be molested?"

"True, my lords; but the fighting had already begun!" answered Dassel.
"The Milanese hemmed me in on all sides, and I was no longer the
aggressor, but in the position of legitimate defence."

"Your representations are not sufficient!" said the Duke of Bohemia;
"your tongue is more skilful than ours, and you are our superior in all
that is tricky; but your treason must and shall be punished! Are you
ready to clear yourself of this stain in single combat?"

"Your lordship must be aware," replied Dassel, with a smile, "that the
canons of the Church forbid this mode of justification to the
Archbishop of Cologne?"

"Bah!" said the Count. "You are only a layman like us; only a
consecration can make you a priest or a bishop. So long as you are not
an ecclesiastic, you have no right to shelter yourself behind the
privileges of the Church."

"My lords!" cried the Emperor, angrily, "we will not permit this
assault upon a man whose honor and veracity are known to us; we declare
him absolved from all blame; we are satisfied with his explanations!"

Rage and mortification were expressed on the faces of the knights.

"If your Majesty wishes to shield your Chancellor, we must obey," said
Conrad; "but as some amends for the outrage, we request that you will
release the consuls who were captured despite our word of honor as
gentlemen and knights."

"It cannot be!" answered Barbarossa. "These consuls are the chiefs of
the rebellion, the ringleaders of the conspiracy, which, for many
years, has been plotting against us. It would be gross folly, on our
part, to send away the promoters of the disorder. They must remain with
us as captives, until the surrender of the fortress."

"But, Sire," added the Duke of Bohemia, with difficulty restraining his
indignation, "the Milanese will say that we are _disloyal felons_, who
desire, not the reduction, but the destruction of their city!"

"As for me," said Conrad, boldly, "my honor is at stake, and I will
avoid all intercourse with the Chancellor.--To-morrow, I and my troops
will return to our homes."

"Your term of service has expired, and we have no right to detain you,"
answered Barbarossa, calmly. "However, I shall expect you next spring,
when you will return with more numerous and better disciplined troops.
If, before that time, Milan shall have fallen, there will still remain
enough to do in Italy, before we can restore the Empire to its ancient
splendor."

Although these last words were prompted by a desire to flatter the
nobles, they left his presence with a discontented and dissatisfied
air.

Meanwhile Rechberg, Bonello, and Nigri were standing in front of the
city gate, near which the consul's tent was pitched, and Erwin related
the circumstances which had induced the order for his banishment from
Italy. The sad and despondent tone of the young man moved Bonello's
sympathy.

"If my daughter could esteem you more than she does already," he said,
"this injustice would have that effect. I am confident, however, that
she will now yield to my wishes and consent to leave Italy."

"You desire then to abandon your country?" asked Rechberg, with
surprise.

"Yes, and perhaps forever!" replied Guido. "It is too painful to live
in the vicinity of a struggle which threatens one's very existence,
without being able to share in it. This, and some other motives, decide
me to go to France, where I will remain until the storm is over."

They dismounted, and Gherardo Nigri was released upon his engagement to
return, provided Hermengarde was not immediately given up to her
father.

"Since you refuse to enter within the city," said Nigri to Erwin, "wait
here for a few minutes, and you will be assured of the lady's
liberation. Accept my thanks for the energy with which you defended
your honor and my safety against Barbarossa."

Erwin seated himself upon a stone in front of the gate, with his face
towards the city, in anxious expectation. At last he heard a loud
noise, the massive portals swung back, and Bonello appeared, leading
his daughter by the hand, while a crowd of wondering citizens lined the
ramparts. The young man rose slowly. The thought of their separation
and his arbitrary exile saddened him.

"Everything goes on as I desired and predicted," said Bonello.
"Hermengarde is glad to leave the country from which you are banished.
Indeed, I believe that, in spite of all obstacles, she would prefer
Suabia to France."

"Are those obstacles insurmountable?" asked Erwin. "Although the ward
and vassal of the Emperor, I alone am master in my father's castle."

"It is impossible," replied Bonello, gravely. "You have told me what
the Emperor has said, and I fully understand the reasons for which he
has sent you away from Italy. Barbarossa is not a man to allow his
plans to be thwarted, and we should scarcely arrive in Suabia, before
an order for our expulsion would be issued."

Erwin's countenance fell, for he could not deny the truth of the
objection.

"Still you can do us a great service," said Guido. "The roads are not
safe, and perhaps you can procure an escort?"

"I will attend to that," answered Rechberg; "when do you wish to set
out?"

"To-day, without fail; and the sooner the better."

"I will see the Duke of Austria at once. He will be delighted to do all
in his power for one who has become so celebrated for her filial
affection as your fair daughter."

"Many thanks, noble Count! Well! Hermengarde, have you not one word of
acknowledgment for our benefactor?"

"My lord Count," said she, with a trembling voice, "even could I find
words in which to clothe my gratitude, my voice would express
imperfectly all the feelings of my heart. We will never forget you, and
each day our prayers will mount to the throne of that God in whose
hands is the destiny of all mortals."

"Well said, daughter, you are right. Could I be fortunate enough,
Count, to gratify one of your wishes?--Come," continued Bonello, seeing
that Erwin was too agitated to speak, "you should at least have courage
enough to ask me, but I think I can reward you? Well, if you won't, I
must; take her, my son! My children, I betroth you in the sight of
Heaven, and before this assemblage."

The people applauded, as Erwin took her hand; he had forgotten the
past, and his eyes shone with a courage and a determination which would
have defied the universe.

"My dear Bonello, I leave you, full of hope in a brighter future!
Farewell, Hermengarde, and fear nothing; our separation will be only a
brief one."

He mounted and rode away, followed by the cheers and good wishes of the
crowd.



                           _CHAPTER XXVIII_.

                 _THE POPULACE IN THE TWELFTH CENTURY_.


The Milanese were profoundly discouraged by the Chancellor's disloyal
conduct and the forcible abduction of their consuls; while the rigid
enforcement of the blockade by the Imperial troops rendered the
introduction of supplies a matter of impossibility.

The people, full of courage and fortitude, so long as they possessed an
abundance of everything, began to murmur, when they became aware that
their provisions were nearly exhausted, and even the Archdeacon Sala,
once revered almost as a saint, lost his influence, and, with the
Archbishop and the other ecclesiastics, was obliged to seek an asylum
within the walls of Genoa. With them, all organization disappeared, and
the angry crowd threatened to open the city gates to the enemy.
Thousands of infuriated men and women assembled before the palaces of
the consuls Nigri and Oberto, demanding food, and the magistrates were
unwillingly obliged to yield, and on the last day of February, 1162,
convoked an assembly of the people.

The multitude flocked together on the public square, in the centre of
the town, their hollow eyes, pallid cheeks, and trembling limbs giving
proof of the bitter pangs of hunger. One member alone had lost none of
its energy; it was the tongue, which railed out violently against the
consuls, who were accused of everything dishonorable and unjust. The
boldest of the mob got as close as possible to the tribune, from which
the magistrates were to harangue the people, in order that they might
interrupt the speakers at their pleasure.

"Trust me, my friends," said a cobbler, with wan cheeks and a hungry
air; "I have been obliged to give up mending shoes, and do you know
why? It was because my children have eaten the last piece of leather
that there was left in the house."

"Leather! why, that's food for a king," interrupted another speaker.
"We eat things that I won't name! We must all die, miserably, of
hunger, if the gates are not soon opened to the besiegers."

"Certainly we must!" cried a third. "If our consuls were as hungry as
we are, they would soon stop talking about courage, and patriotic
devotion, and heroic patience, and other beautiful things of the sort.
However, they can say what they please, comrades, for they have plenty
to eat and drink."

"Consul Boriso's red nose, and Grillo's big belly, have made me reflect
very seriously for some time past," said a butcher. "We all look
awfully, as if we were going to die of starvation to-day. A man can't
live on liberty and patriotism; for we have not got cellars and wine
vaults as well filled as our consuls."

"Barbarossa will not treat us as badly as the famine will," added
another. "What is the use of freedom, if we are to perish with hunger?"

"It is all folly! Look, if you please, to what this freedom has brought
us? If we taste its sweets ten days longer, we will all be in the
grave-digger's hands."

"Hurrah for bread! Down with liberty!" screamed a thousand voices, as
they caught sight of the consuls. Oberto ascended the tribune, and the
yells and murmurs gradually subsided as they looked upon the old man,
who, sad and dejected, gazed upon the crowd, and thought of the time
when he used to speak to the Milanese, once so brave and valiant.

"Fellow-citizens," he said, "it is now a year that you have borne, with
a courage and a patience worthy of your ancient renown, all the rigors
of a siege. Barbarossa hems us in more closely every day. He desires
the destruction of our free institutions; his aim is to humble our
noble city, and reduce her citizens to vassalage."

A succession of savage yells interrupted the orator.

"Bread! Bread!" was cried on all sides.

"Open the gates! Down with the ranter!"

"Brothers, fellow-countrymen," resumed Oberto, "think of the glories of
the past! Are you willing to wear the yoke of slavery?"

"Ah! our past glories. We are too wretched and humble now; it will do
to talk of that when we are in prosperity. Give us food!"

"Fellow-citizens, do not torture me with your reproaches. I suffer from
hunger, like yourselves; but I prefer death to the loss of that liberty
which our ancestors have bequeathed to us."

"Bah! we are not such fools!" yelled the crowd. "Life is better than
liberty!"

"The man is mad!" cried a voice; "he advises us to die of starvation!"

"He is mad! Yes, the gold paid him for his treason inspires his tongue!
Comrades, let us go and open the gates!"

"Long live the Emperor! Hurrah for bread!"

Oberto turned, appealingly, towards his audience,--

"Fellow-citizens," he resumed, "your desires shall be gratified; you
shall have all that you ask. To-day a delegation will leave Milan to
treat for the surrender of the city; but the consequences must rest on
your own shoulders; you will regret and bewail them. If the Lombard
race is degenerate, if it courts its own slavery with eagerness, let
its wishes be accomplished."

There was for a moment a profound silence. Oberto had spoken so sadly,
his features expressed such bitter anguish, that the sympathy of many
was awakened, but the ringleaders were firm.

"These are only fine words, comrades!" they said. "Barbarossa won't eat
us; he may shave off a little of our liberty, and force us to pay the
expenses of the war; he will demolish some of the forts, which we can
build again when we please; all the rest will be as it was before!"

"Certainly! certainly!" cried many voices.

"Brothers, let us go to the municipal palace!" was yelled out; "let us
see whether the consuls will keep their promise!"

"Yes, yes! let us go there at once!"

The mob rushed to the official residence and surrounded the building,
until the delegation, preceded by a herald bearing a white flag,
appeared upon the steps of the palace; and then, as though fearing some
trickery, accompanied the commissioners to the city gates, where they
watched them enter the enemy's camp. About two hours afterwards, the
envoys returned with a message that, on the ensuing day, the Emperor
would receive and consider the terms offered by the besieged. Still the
news did not give universal satisfaction; for, although the rabble was
delighted, the more respectable class of the citizens and the nobility
winced under the disgrace. On the next day, four of the consuls
repaired to the Imperial camp, where they met with a reception which
foretold clearly the probable fate of their city. They were not
admitted to the Emperor's quarters, but obliged to await his pleasure
in the open air, exposed to all the severity of the weather. A violent
storm burst forth meanwhile, accompanied by thunder and lightning and
torrents of rain, and in a few moments the unfortunate consuls,
drenched to the skin, and with their costly robes clinging to their
persons, sought in vain a shelter, which was refused to them, amid the
jeers and mockeries of the insolent lackeys.

They felt deeply humbled by this treatment, so different to what they
had been accustomed to in their native city, where they had always
occupied the first place in the public estimation. With bent heads and
clothes soiled with water and mire, their faces expressive of sadness
and resignation, these noble old men looked like statues--strangers to
all the concerns of earth.

At last they were admitted to the council-hall, where Frederic was
seated, surrounded by all the dignitaries of the Empire and the consuls
of the allied towns. The Milanese threw themselves at the Emperor's
feet, and then Gherardo Nigri laid before him the terms which they were
commissioned to propose.

"Sire, illustrious princes, noble lords," he said, "the disasters of a
protracted siege have at last inclined my countrymen to submission and
peace. It is true that our formidable works would have enabled us for
some time to resist the enemy's attacks--"

"Enough!" interrupted Barbarossa, abruptly. "State simply the terms of
surrender, without any commentaries."

"I obey," replied Nigri, mortified that he should be obliged to submit
tamely to his country's humiliation. "Our terms embrace everything
which could possibly be demanded; even were the city taken by storm,
your Majesty could exact little more. Milan will demolish her
fortifications and build an Imperial citadel at her own expense; she
will annul all her treaties of alliance; will admit your army within
the walls; will give three hundred hostages to be held for three years;
will recognize the supremacy of the German functionaries over all
others; will acknowledge fealty to your Majesty, and will pay a tribute
which shall be established at a future period."

The German nobles appeared satisfied, but the consuls of the allied
towns shook their heads in token of their disapproval.

"Duke," said Frederic to Henry the Lion, "what think you of these
propositions?"

"I think that nothing more can be asked for," replied Henry. "I
confess, however, to my surprise, that the haughty city of Milan should
have consented to draw them up."

The other nobles, as well as the bishops of the Empire, were of a
similar opinion.

"However," observed the Bishop of Munster, "should His Majesty consider
the chastisement as insufficient, I am opposed to the adoption of the
enemy's conditions."

"It is well known," said the Pavian consul, "that the Milanese are
always as willing to make as they are to break their engagements. Sire,
reflect upon the treachery of the past, and do not allow them to renew
it."

"Milan destroyed our city and led away her inhabitants as captives; let
the same fate be inflicted upon her," urged the consul of Lodi.

"Unexampled confiscations have filled the Milanese treasury; it will
not be difficult for the city to pay a heavy tribute," added the Consul
of Novara. "When, after three years' absence, her hostages return, it
will be easy to rebuild the fortifications which she now promises to
demolish. She will again destroy the Imperial citadel, make new
alliances, and put herself at the head of a new league against the
Emperor and the Empire. The propositions now submitted to your Majesty
offer an insufficient guaranty against a relapse into her former
tyranny."

"So long as Milan exists, the safety and peace of Lombardy cannot be
assured on a solid basis," said the consul of Vercelli. "Your Highness
must not only perform an act of justice, but also protect the interests
of the Italian cities. Not a stone should be left upon another in
Milan!"

The nobles seemed to dissent; but Frederic, who had silently listened
to the various arguments, gave no intimation of his own sentiments,
whether they were in favor of moderation or anger.

"The opinions are divided," said he, at length; "my Lord Chancellor, be
so kind as to give us your advice."

"It seems to me," answered Rinaldo, "that the grave outrages committed
against your Imperial Majesty, can only be expiated by an unreserved
submission. If Milan has decided to cease her resistance, let her yield
to the Emperor unconditionally; it should depend upon his generosity
whether the voice of pity or of vengeance is to prevail."

"We agree with you, my lord," said Frederic; "your words decide the
question. It is not the besieged, but the victor, who should dictate
the conditions. Whenever Milan shall have surrendered at discretion, we
will make known our intentions."

"Our powers scarcely go so far," replied Nigri.

"You can inform your countrymen of our pleasure. Lose no time here,
that your delay may not retard the destiny of your city."



                            _CHAPTER XXIX_.

                             _HUMILIATION_.


The Milanese had not doubted that their proposition would be at once
accepted. Frederic's refusal consequently was a matter of surprise, and
a majority of the most influential citizens felt confident that the
people would continue an energetic defence, rather than unconditionally
capitulate. They were mistaken. The Milanese refused to hear a word
spoken in favor of further resistance.

When this information was communicated to the monarch, his
satisfaction was unbounded, for he foresaw at once the results of his
victory;--with Milan fell the last support of Alexander III.

Frederic had driven the unfortunate Pontiff from Rome; and although
Genoa had offered him an asylum, this city could not hope to be able
long to serve as a refuge to the fugitive head of the Church; for with
the surrender of Milan, the resistance of the remaining cities of
Lombardy became unavailing.

"The chief bulwark of Alexander's faction is levelled, and his defeat
prepares a glorious future for you, Sire," said Rinaldo, entering the
Imperial chamber. "Your wish of itself will suffice to drive Roland
from Genoa. And where can he go then? Spain alone can support his
supremacy so long as she is not struggling against the Moors. As to
France, she cannot recognize this pretended pope, and England must
follow her example. I see nothing for him but to seek the aid of the
Saracens,--a strange alliance for His Holiness."

He was dreaming of the future; Frederic, on the other hand, was
occupied only with the present. He desired that the formal surrender of
Milan should take place in the style best calculated to strike the
imagination. He wanted a tragedy to mark the fall of this queen of
Lombardy, and he fixed the 6th of March as the date of the performance.

A platform, sufficiently vast to accommodate, at the same time, the
Emperor and all his nobles, was erected outside of the camp. It was an
amphitheatre, with fourteen tiers of seats for the nobility, whilst the
Imperial throne towered above in splendid magnificence, an emblem of
the supremacy of the sovereign. The platform was hung with scarlet
cloth, and costly carpets were spread in the immediate vicinity of the
monarch's stand, which was richly ornamented with garlands of flowers
and decked with the pennons of the different princes. Behind was
hoisted the Imperial banner.

On the appointed day the troops were drawn up in battle-array upon the
plain, and the sunlight danced merrily upon the thousands of helmets
and lances of polished steel. Nearer, the knights, in complete armor,
sat motionless upon their chargers, like a wall of iron.

The Milanese advanced despondently and slowly in dense masses. At their
head walked the consuls, barefooted, with halters around their necks,
and clothed in sackcloth. The banners and escutcheons of the several
municipalities were borne aloft on long lances. Not a breath of wind
moved them, and they hung sadly against their staves, as though
mourning their city's ruin. The keys of the town were carried on a
cushion of blue velvet, ready to be offered, by the consuls, to the
Emperor. The bugles at times rang out a melancholy wail of despair, and
when they ceased, there went up a dirge of woe mingled with
supplications for mercy, like those uttered by the people in moments of
national calamity. It seemed as if Heaven were taking part in the
sombre pageant, for dark clouds suddenly veiled the sun, and the air
grew heavy and oppressive. The victors themselves were affected by the
sight of this humiliation of their valiant enemies, and only among the
troops of the Italian auxiliaries could be seen a sneer of irony and
exultation.

The consuls halted in front of the platform, and a thrill of anxious
expectation ran from rank to rank, until it reached the gates of Milan,
whence the people still continued to issue. Insensibly the crowd stood
still. The very boldest now were bowed to the earth. On all sides
nothing met the eye but ashes and cords and penitential vestments. The
trumpets were silent, and the solemn chant, _Kyrie Eleison_! _Kyrie
Eleison_! was heard, as if the citizens would show that they expected
no aid now but from God. From time to time a plaintive groan was
answered by a thousand sighs of agony: it seemed the dying breath of a
whole nation whose funeral knell was sounding.

There was a flourish of trumpets near the Imperial tent; Barbarossa was
about to appear. The sound grew nearer and more distinct; and then the
Emperor, surrounded by his nobles, rode up and dismounted about thirty
paces from the throne. With haughty bearing and a look of pride upon
his face, Frederic moved forward, followed by a splendid array of
knights and princes. Far away in the distance stretched the serried
ranks of the army, and the whole scene had that character of majestic
grandeur so well suited to the sovereign who dictated the laws of the
world.

Next to the monarch came the ambassadors of France and Spain and
England, who, although nominally sent to the Court on business of
State, seemed only there to share in Barbarossa's triumph as spectators
of his greatness. Frederic mounted the throne, his nobles took seats in
the amphitheatre, and at once a loud shout of glad applause rent the
air. The meanest soldier of the army rejoiced, for he felt that the
bright rays of the Imperial sun shone even upon him. He saw the Emperor
above all; below him were the brilliant ranks of the nobles, at his
feet the people of Milan, prostrate and humbled in the dust! The mind
of Barbarossa was occupied with considerations of grave importance. His
face beamed with the intoxication of success, for his soul exulted in
his new honors. He saw all the nations, from Rome to Lubeck, with their
millions of inhabitants, submissive to his sceptre. He thought of
England and Spain, and France and Greece; and though there was much for
him to do ere they could be overcome, the end which he had in view
seemed bright with hope. His dream was to establish the supremacy of
the Empire over all the thrones of Christendom. He was ambitious to be
the successor of Charlemagne, not merely in name and dignity, but also
in power. Plunged in his revery, he had forgotten even the contemplated
demolition of rebellious Milan. The consuls had delivered up the keys
of the city, already they had sworn their fealty, in the presence of
four hundred nobles, when a tumultuous movement of the troops
interrupted his meditations.

One wing of the army which occupied the open space between the
encampment and the fortress, had changed front, and swinging round,
opened a passage to the advancing population, which was mingling its
groans and lamentations with the blasts of martial music and the shouts
of triumph. With halters around their necks and cross in hand, covered
with sackcloth and penitential vestments, they halted, successively,
before the Imperial throne, and as each group laid down before it their
banners and trumpets, they solemnly swore fealty, and then, slowly and
sadly, took their way towards the narrow space reserved for them on the
opposite side of the plain.

There was something really majestic in this simple demonstration of the
Milanese; and as their bugles sounded their farewell notes, and their
banners fell upon the ground, one would have imagined that a fraction
of the people was breathing its last sigh. Even the conquerors were
moved to pity, and although those nearest to the sovereign prudently
dissembled their emotion, the tears coursed down the bronzed cheeks of
more than one rude soldier. Barbarossa alone was stern and pitiless,
and his remorseless glance, bent upon the vanquished foe, seemed to
indicate that he considered the punishment a feeble atonement for the
outrage offered to his Imperial majesty.

The plain was now covered with a dense crowd. An immense chariot, drawn
by five white oxen, advanced slowly, bearing the celebrated statue of
St. Ambrose, Milan's patron saint, and an immense pole from which
fluttered the city's flag and those of all the other towns of the
confederation. The chariot was hung with scarlet cloth, the drivers
were dressed in scarlet, and twelve warriors, with casques and corslets
of polished steel, covered with robes of purple, formed an escort of
honor.

This chariot, which had been built by the Archbishop Ariberti, played
an important part in times of war, and was looked upon almost as the
_Palladium_ of the City of Milan.

During battle its banner towered above the combatants, and served as a
rallying-point; and it was the duty of the citizens to defend it to the
death,--it was the symbol, the soul of the free City, the glory and
honor of Milan.

It halted in front of the throne, and the guards descended. A
death-like silence reigned, and glances of tearful anger were turned
towards Barbarossa. Suddenly an ominous crash was heard, the flag-staff
had broken, and its fall upset the car. The image of St. Ambrose, the
flags and banners, had rolled in the dust; and the deep bell of the
distant cathedral tolled out mournfully, as these symbols, once so
brilliant, lay stretched upon the ground, in striking analogy to the
fate which awaited Milan.

The people broke oat in groans of rage; some tore their hair in very
desperation, while others, yielding to the weight of their emotion,
were silent and bit their lips with grief and mortification. Still the
Emperor remained unmoved, although there were tears on the energetic
face of Henry the Lion, and his features told of his deep sympathy with
the humiliation of the illustrious city.

The Count of Biandrate, formerly an ally of the Milanese, but now a
stanch partisan of the Emperor, advanced, and kneeling before the
sovereign, craved his mercy.

"I implore your Majesty," he said, "to have pity upon this people,
which, humbled in the dust, prays for your forgiveness. All the
greatness, all the power of the proud city is at your feet. Do not
regard them as criminals; look upon them as your children who knew not
how to discriminate between good and evil; grant them their lives, and
let compassion moderate your justice!"

"Experience has already taught us the sad results of too much
clemency," answered Barbarossa. "Milan has despised and rejected our
favors, and has always remained the centre of all the seditions, the
directress of all the plots against the Empire and its sovereign."

"Nevertheless, I still supplicate your Majesty," continued the Count,
seeing that the Emperor's hesitation displeased the nobles, "not to
break the bruised reed. Would the fame of your Highness, or of the
German nation be increased, if, upon a sign from you, this mighty city,
this assemblage of warriors, became the object of a chastisement
unequalled in the annals of Christendom?"

The nobles audibly gave signs of approbation, and Frederic was unable
to resist. Too much violence might produce unpleasant consequences; he
understood the position and moderated his sentence.

"I will treat them with all the forbearance which is compatible with
justice," he said. "All have merited death; we will grant their lives
to all!"

"God be praised!" exclaimed the nobles.

But the Italians murmured. They wished nothing less than the
destruction of the city; and several of the consuls of the allied towns
stepped forward, and expressed their views with a violence and
animosity which, inwardly, pleased the Emperor.

"Sire," said the Pavian consul, "Milan destroyed Como and Lodi, it is
but justice that she should share their fate."

"Recollect, Sire," added the consul of Vercelli, "that you owe support
to those who always remained faithful to your cause. So long as Milan
exists, neither peace nor order is possible. You have conquered the
she-wolf; your trusty sword has forced her to grovel in the dust; but
that is not enough; she must be destroyed! A few years hence, and
Milan, always thirsting for her neighbors' blood, will again extend her
tyranny over all Lombardy. We ask for simple justice. Sire, give us
justice!"

"You have every right to demand our protection," replied Frederic, "and
you shall have it. We will never permit our faithful subjects to be
oppressed. Milan shall be deserted, and within fifteen days all its
inhabitants must leave the city, and be divided into four detachments
separated from each other by a distance of at least two miles."

The monarch arose and gave the signal that the ceremony was
finished.--He mounted his charger, and, surrounded by his nobles,
trampling under their horses' hoofs the banners which were spread out
upon the ground,--returned to his camp amid the loud strains of martial
music, while the Milanese wept sadly over the destruction of their much
loved city.



                             _CHAPTER XXX_.

                             _AMUSEMENTS_.


On the 26th of March, 1162, the victorious Emperor made his triumphal
entry into the conquered city, not through the gates, but over the
dismantled fortifications. Thence he proceeded with his Court to Pavia,
where he celebrated his successes with extraordinary pomp, and received
the envoys from the cities allied to Milan, who, despairing of
preserving their liberty, came to tender their submission. Severe terms
were imposed upon Brescia, Placenza, Imola, Faenza, and Bologna, while
immense concessions were granted to those towns which had remained
faithful to their allegiance. Barbarossa also opened negotiations with
the powerful maritime republics of Genoa and Pisa, to which were
secured, by a secret treaty, portions of Sicily and Catania, until a
more equal division could be made of the rich treasures of the King of
Naples.

In this way Frederic followed up his designs, even while he seemed most
absorbed in his pleasures.

Pavia surpassed herself in her efforts to entertain her illustrious
guest. The different corporations took turns in the amusements; but he
always found time to see everything, and nothing escaped his attention
or passed without praise. Accompanied by a brilliant retinue, often
with the Empress at his side, he rode through the streets decked with
flags, winning golden opinions from all, for he conversed freely with
the humblest citizen, and never dismissed unaided any one who came to
ask his pity.

Frederic possessed the great talent of nearly all those who aspire to
extended dominion; he knew how to conciliate popular sympathy.

After a succession of jousts and tournaments, balls and joyous galas,
it was decided to produce the spectacle of the capture of a fort
defended by women and young girls. A square redoubt was built, flanked
with small towers and balconies, and with walls of variegated stuffs,
of velvets, purple, and ermine. The actors were clothed in rich
tissues, decorated with gold and diamonds; and in place of helmets they
wore crowns of filigree-work or costly diadems. In lieu of deadly
weapons, they carried perfumed rose-water and amber, with which they
drenched the assailants. The variety of colors, the splendid materials
which formed the fortress, and the grace and beauty of its defenders,
made up a charming picture.

Before the assault, a new pageant advanced to the sound of joyous
music; it was the corporation of bakers, carrying before them on a car
decked with flags and ribbons, an immense cake, a masterpiece of their
art. They marched around the fortress singing, and then deposited their
offering near a tall pole, announcing that it was to be the prize of
the person who could pull down the banner fastened to the summit of the
mast.

Next came the corporation of the butchers, with an immense hog roasted
whole; they were followed by the game dealers and the other trade
societies, all with costly presents. The vast cask of wine offered by
the tavern-keepers caused especial pleasure to the Germans.

Meanwhile the young men prepared for the assault; surrounding the mimic
fortress, they were met with a shower of dates, pears, apples, nutmegs,
and cakes. Although it was only in sport, there was a good deal of
excitement, as is the case in the beginning of every contest, and the
cheeks of the fair defenders flushed, and their eyes flashed as their
enemies drew near.

The podestà raised his baton, and, to the sounds of a flute, the strife
began. On all sides a cloud of dates, quinces, and sweetmeats was
hurled against the fortress; the walls shook, and a noisy music drowned
the cries of the wounded. A shower of rose-water filled the air with
rich perfume, whilst a crowd of boys eagerly picked up the dainty
missiles.

One young man, particularly, displayed great energy during the assault.
Despite the rose-water and the amber, he reached the castle-door, and
forcing the passage with a rose-covered wand, penetrated to the heart
of the place. His courage excited the emulation and the envy of all;
but his triumph was short-lived, and he was soon expelled by the
besieged. He came out, wrapped from head to foot in a sheet smeared
with honey, and when at last he had succeeded in disentangling himself,
a swarm of flies covered him, to the great amusement of the spectators.
Soon the besiegers declared that the citadel was impregnable, and then
a lady of lofty bearing appeared upon one of the balconies, and
announced the terms of capitulation.

"You have learned, valiant warriors," she said, "that violence can
accomplish nothing against us women. It is true that you are our
masters, but we know how to repay with usury, anything like cruelty or
ill-treatment. Only show us kindness and courtesy, and you can have
what you will. By virtue of my office, as governor of this castle, I
think it my duty to inform you that we have kept it as long as it so
pleased us, and now we surrender of our own free will, in order to set
you an example of moderation."

This harangue was received with laughter and shouts of applause, and
then the music announced that the ascent of the pole would begin.

The Knight of Groswin, who was among the lookers-on, took no pains to
conceal his discontent; for the assault of the mimic fortress, far from
amusing him, had only provoked his anger, and it was evident that he
would have sought more congenial amusements, had he not been detained
there on duty.

"What a stupid game! what a silly idea!" he said, as he glanced towards
the balcony, where Frederic and his courtiers were laughing and talking
with animation.

"I cannot understand the Emperor," he resumed; "he chatters like an old
woman, and laughs as though he really were amused by these mummeries.
But, after all, it may only be a mask, the better to deceive these
Italians.--I wonder how he will look when he hears my message?"

Goswin left the crowd, and entering the palace, sought the Imperial
hall.

"That fellow climbs well," said Barbarossa to the Pisan envoy; "see how
tightly he clings to the slippery pole; I advise you to recruit him for
your fleet."

"We have plenty of sailors still more active than he Sire. The
approaching hostilities against Naples will show you of what our men
are capable."

"Have the deputies yet started for Pisa and Genoa?" inquired the
Emperor.

"They went yesterday, Sire," replied the Pisan.

"We will take advantage of the present opportunity, and no longer delay
the punishment which the unfriendly behavior of the Neapolitan king so
well merits. I am confident that the opposition of Venice is only
prolonged by William's assistance."

"Perhaps it would be well to curb the power of the Venetians a little?"
remarked a Genoese. "It is not an easy matter, but your Majesty can be
assured of our hearty co-operation."

Frederic received this overture with evident satisfaction; the mutual
jealousy of the Italian cities served his own projects admirably.

"What tidings does the Knight Goswin bring us?" asked the Emperor, as
the noble entered.

"A communication which your Highness----"

"Is it very important?" said Frederic, hastily, fearing lest the
imprudent soldier might reveal, to indiscreet ears, things which ought
not to be known to every one. "Excuse me for a moment, my lords," and
he withdrew on one side with Goswin.

"Well, what is it?" he asked.

"Count Rechberg has returned to Lombardy."

"Is that all? there was scarcely need to take the trouble of telling me
anything so unimportant."

"It was the abbot who announced it to me; and I was to communicate it
to you," replied Goswin.

"The abbot!--What abbot?" asked the Emperor.

"The one who came to your camp before Milan, last summer."

"The Abbot Conrad, you mean?"

"Perhaps that is his name; he awaits you in the palace."

"What motive can bring him?" inquired Frederic, greatly surprised.

"I can tell you, Sire: the abbot comes in the name of the Archbishop of
Salzburg, who is now near Pavia with some other prelates."

"What is this you say?" cried Barbarossa; "the Archbishop of Salzburg
in Italy, near us! How stupid in you, Goswin, to announce in this
frivolous manner a matter of such great importance!"

"I supposed that Count Erwin had, at least, as much importance in your
eyes, as the Bishop of Salzburg," answered the knight.

"But why does he remain outside of the town? What prelates are with
him?"

"You can ask him yourself, Sire."

Frederic was going out, when the Podestà of Pavia entered.

"One word only, Sire," he said.

"Well, but speak quickly; the Metropolitan of Salzburg, accompanied by
several other prelates, has just arrived to offer us their
congratulations."

The crafty Pavian understood better than Goswin the bearings of this
visit.

"It is another victory, Sire, a new triumph for your ideas, more
important, perhaps, even than that which you achieved at Milan. I
merely wished to inquire whether the two hundred silver marks, which
Pavia has laid at your feet, will be sufficient?--we are quite ready to
offer more, should it be required."

"The sum is sufficient, Count; many thanks!"

"I also desire to remark, that the destruction of Tortona is absolutely
necessary to the security of your faithful Pavia. Your magnanimous
generosity was satisfied with the demolition of the fortifications;
but, Sire, the work is only half done."

"Pavia has nothing to fear from an open place."

"Walls are soon rebuilt, Sire, and you know the unfriendly feelings of
Tortona towards us. We Pavians are ready to make any sacrifice, if you
will allow us to destroy that city."

Frederic, without answering, left the room abruptly.

"Very well!" said the Podestà, rubbing his hands gayly; "that means, do
as you please: I will not do it myself, but I will not forbid it."

Goswin had heard all the conversation, and even his intelligence took
in all the immorality of the scene.

"This really is a piece of knavery!" he said, as he followed his
master. "Tortona displeases Pavia; Pavia offers money to the Emperor,
and Tortona will be destroyed! Now I call this proceeding neither
honorable, imperial, nor even Christian."

The monarch hastened to the ancient palace of the Lombard kings, in
which he had established his quarters. Scarcely had he arrived, when
Pope Victor requested an audience. It was refused, but the Abbot
Conrad, on the contrary, was immediately admitted in company with the
Chancellor Rinaldo.

"You are right welcome to Pavia, my lord Abbot," said Barbarossa, "and
the more so, because you announce the visit of our worthy Metropolitan
of Salzburg."

At these words he glanced towards Dassel, whose impassive face, as the
Emperor well knew, boded no good.

"The prelate offers his respectful salutations, and begs your Majesty
to appoint a time for an audience, in some other city than Pavia," said
the Abbot Conrad.

"In some other city! And for what reason?"

"Because it is not seemly for the Archbishop to enter the city where
Victor holds his court. His duty forbids him to have any intercourse
with the Antipope, and a sojourn in Pavia might be construed as a
recognition of his claims," replied the abbot.

Rinaldo made a sign to Barbarossa, who listened without any evidence
of what was passing in his mind. Eberhard's reputation in Italy was
wide-spread, and this refusal to hold any communication with the
Antipope was naturally calculated to displease the Emperor.

"We can fully appreciate the Archbishop's prudence," remarked Frederic,
after a moment's reflection; "where is he at present?"

"In the Abbey of St. Martin."

"At St. Martin, in that paltry cloister which has scarcely wherewithal
to feed its own monks! We will direct an immediate change, more in
harmony with Eberhard's dignity and position. What prelates has he with
him?"

"The Bishop of Brixen, the Prior of Reichersburg, and several abbots,"
answered Conrad.

"We are highly pleased at the arrival of these worthy prelates. Be
prepared, my lord Abbot, to return here soon with some of my courtiers,
whom we will send forward to meet the Archbishop."

Scarcely had Conrad left the room when Victor entered; mortification
and anger were depicted on his countenance.

"I crave your pardon," he said, "if my visit here be inopportune, but I
have been grievously insulted, and I am well aware that your Majesty
will not leave unpunished those who outrage the legitimate Pope."

"We are seriously busy in State affairs," replied Frederic, in a tone
of ill-humor; "however, relate at once your complaint."

"Eberhard of Salzburg refuses to obey me, and rather than contaminate
himself by contact with the schismatic Victor, has left Pavia. This
public degradation is insupportable; the Chief of the Church, duly
appointed and confirmed by the Emperor, must not be thus vilified
before all Christendom; such an indignity deserves punishment."

"I am extremely grieved by this affront; what would you advise me to
do?" asked the Emperor.

"Chastise the Archbishop's pride, Sire; and oblige him to acknowledge
the lawful Pope."

"Oblige him! how does your wisdom interpret this?"

"If he will not obey willingly, let him be made to obey by force:--The
only man whose energy sustains the schism in the German Church is in
your power."

"You counsel, then, his arrest and close confinement?"

"It will scarcely be necessary to proceed to such extreme measures. The
fear which your Majesty inspires is quite enough of itself to make him
bend the knee."

"Men of Eberhard's character are not easily influenced by fear; that
sentiment is unknown to them. A much more effective mode of persuasion
would be a visit from you to the Archbishop."

"What say you!--I humble myself thus!--I solicit the friendship of a
rebellious prelate!"

"Perhaps we may desire you to take this step. If this alone can put an
end to the present difficulty, it must be done."

Victor was thunderstruck at these words. Although his relations with
the Emperor were such that he had long lost all self-consideration or
respect; even his spirit revolted at the baseness of the step which he
was advised to take.

"Your Majesty can never force me to this act of degradation," he said;
"I would rather resign the tiara."

"I have said perhaps:--We must be prepared for everything. But allow me
to return to this business, which is pressing."

Victor protested his ready obedience, and bowed himself out of the
room.

"He will have to come to it," said Frederic, turning towards Dassel,
who had kept to one side. "You will remember," he added, "that you have
heard nothing of our conversation with the Pope."

"Sire, it is impossible; I must speak to you of it."

"To what end?"

"To what end! Can anything be of greater importance than to ward off
the blow which Eberhard is about to strike against you and the Holy
Father? Thank Heaven, circumstances will permit you to surmount the
difficulty."

"Explain yourself."

"You expect, in the course of the next two days, the arrival of the
relics of the three Magi which are to be borne here from Milan in
solemn procession. The respect which you will show will prove to all in
Pavia the ardor of your religious faith, and to do them still greater
honor, you will send the Pope in advance to meet them. Victor can start
early to-morrow, and in this way you can remove the purulent infection
which is so offensive to the too delicate Archbishop."

"But will not Victor return with the relics?"

"He must not return; an order from your Majesty will take him to Lodi,
where he will wait until he is wanted."

"Excellent!"

"Eberhard is in earnest, and your Majesty must stint nothing in the
evidences of respect shown to him. The people will admire your
condescension. Let your embassy be as brilliant as possible. Count Haro
should be one of your envoys; he possesses a magnificent castle between
Pavia and St. Martin. He can conduct the prelates thither, and your
Majesty can then encounter this Goliah of the South-German Episcopacy."

"Bravo!" cried Frederic; "I approve of everything: Act at once."



                            _CHAPTER XXXI_.

                              _AT RIVOLI_.


An express was immediately dispatched to Rivoli, bearing to Count Haro
the order to get all the apartments of his castle in readiness. Dassel
himself sent forward a train of mules, bearing costly carpets, silver
candlesticks, and massive plate--everything, in short, which was needed
to offer a most sumptuous hospitality. The castle, usually so quiet,
assumed an air of gayety, and the steward rushed in every direction,
arranging and disarranging, ordering, scolding, and hastening on the
preparations.

The chaplain of the castle alone remained calm, in the midst of the
general confusion. Evidently, some unusual occurrence condemned him to
idleness, for his callous hands showed that his occupations were not
purely intellectual. The servants generally abandoned to him everything
which they refused to do, and his appearance was rather that of a
stable-boy than an ecclesiastic. Although he had received but a limited
education, Rainulph felt the impropriety of such behavior, and often
complained that his spiritual functions were not regarded with becoming
reverence. But his murmurs rarely reached the Count's ear, and when
they did, little attention was paid to them; for Haro, always at Court,
knew too well the Emperor's course towards the Pope to be respectful to
his own chaplain.

"Since the Pope," he told him, "obeys Frederic's orders, you must make
up your mind to do as I tell you."

But the chaplain of Rivoli was suddenly aroused from his inactivity by
a shrill voice.

"How is this, sluggard?" cried the angry steward; "the stable is not
swept yet, everything is out of place, and the horses of His Majesty
and the Court will be here directly!"

"I don't care," answered Rainulph; "the manure may stay there; I shall
not touch it!"

The steward could not believe his ears. The conduct of the formerly
submissive chaplain seemed inexplicable.

"Are you mad? Have you not done that work a hundred times?"

"Yes, and more too! You have made me do the most menial drudgery, and I
have complained in vain; but it is different to-day."

"I suppose that you hardly intend to appeal to the Emperor?" sneered
the other. "You will make a fine thing of it. Don't you know, fool,
that the Pope and the bishops are as much the servants of the Emperor
as the chaplains are of the Castellan? I tell you it is the custom!"

"It is a bad custom, an impious custom! Priests were not ordained to
clean out stables, but to discharge their sacred calling."

"Ah! what a noble transport! Wait a minute, till I teach you your
duty!"

At that moment a horseman dashed up, and announced that the prelates
were close at hand. The steward raised his eyes to heaven, tore his
hair, ordered the chaplain to be locked up in one of the towers, and,
entering the castle, mounted upon a turret.

"May all the saints aid me!" he cried, as he saw the valley shining
with helmets, and lances, and armor. "What! it is a whole army!--an
army of knights and counts! How am I to lodge all these in Rivoli,
where there is scarcely room for twenty lords with their retinues? It
is impossible; they cannot all come here! They must be blind not to see
that the castle cannot hold them, even were I to stow some of the
knights in the barns and the cellars. No! it is not possible! But let
us see: they are at the foot of the hill. Ah! the men-at-arms halt, and
are letting the prelates take the lead. Quick, Romano, quick! put on
your finest suit, the newest you have. To-day you must be marshal of
the palace."

Whilst the steward was donning his rich livery, and taking his long
silver-headed staff of office, Eberhard of Salzburg slowly ascended the
hill. The old man was tall in stature, of energetic strongly-marked
features, whose expression was by no means softened by a pair of
piercing eyes. His voice was deep and sonorous, and all his words
carefully selected. He rode easily, in spite of his advanced age, which
had neither broken down his vigorous physical strength nor weakened his
intellect. His suite and the costume which he himself wore indicated
his high rank. His surcoat was bordered with ermine, and he wore around
his neck a heavy gold chain, to which hung a pastoral cross enriched
with jewels. The saddle of his courser was ornamented with rings and
buckles of silver.

By his side were Herman, Bishop of Brixen; and Gerhoh, prior of
Reichersberg; two noble dignitaries of grave and serious demeanor.
Behind them were several abbots, and last, the escort of honor, sent by
Frederic, in which could be remarked Count Erwin of Rechberg.

Count Haro hastened to the court-yard to welcome the prelate, as he
dismounted; a crowd of servants stood ready to take care of the horses,
and soon the noble hosts were introduced to the castle.

Eberhard's own followers remained at the foot of the hill, where they
at once pitched their tents, as was the custom of the time. About two
hundred soldiers had accompanied the Archbishop, from Salzburg, and
formed an escort sufficiently numerous to hold in awe the most
desperate highwaymen.

The prelate knew that a display of strength always imposes upon savage
and uneducated men, and, although living, in his own house, with almost
monastic simplicity, he never neglected on all public occasions to
appear with as much pomp as possible.

Offering his fatigue as an excuse, he partook but lightly of the
banquet, and soon retired to his own apartment; the other ecclesiastics
shortly followed his example; but Haro and the laymen, who were his
guests, remained at table until nightfall.

The pleasures of the feast offered little attraction to Erwin, and he
found still less pleasure in listening to the recital of Barbarossa's
victory over the Milanese, which he had already heard recounted a
hundred times, in all its most minute details.

Taking advantage of a beautiful spring evening, he left the hall and
the castle, and descending the hill, soon found himself in the little
park. He had scarcely taken his seat and begun to reflect that in spite
of the Metropolitan's intercession, his Imperial godfather might,
possibly, send him back again to Suabia, when a long whistle attracted
his attention. A little while after, the sound was repeated, and
replied to from the castle; then he heard footsteps, and saw two men
approach each other and converse in a low tone, at a short distance
from him.

The occurrence appeared mysterious and aroused his curiosity, the more
so, that these night-walkers wore the short cloaks and high hats of the
Italian nobility, which almost concealed the face. Rechberg listened
attentively, but could not make out their conversation. He only could
catch the names of "Pope, Emperor, France, and Eberhard," because they
were uttered with much energy. To his great surprise, he suddenly heard
his own name pronounced.

"Count Erwin of Rechberg!--It is not possible!"

The other added a few words in a smothered voice, to which a curse was
the reply. Then they separated, one of them moving towards the castle.
Erwin determined to accost the Unknown. The stranger with surprise
halted and laid his hand on his sword. Erwin looked at him attentively,
but could distinguish nothing, except a pair of flashing eyes and a
thick black beard.

"It is not my profession to interfere with honest people," he said,
"but as you made use of my name, just now, I have the right to ask who
you are and with what you reproach me."

"Who I am is of no importance to you, Count," answered the stranger;
"and if you follow the teachings of your own conscience, I can reproach
you with nothing."

"What do you mean? For whom do you take me?"

"For a frivolous youth, who forgets his promises too easily."

"Villain! withdraw this insult at once, or ----" And he put his hand to
his sword-hilt.

"I have no intention of offending you," replied the Unknown, coolly;
"do not draw your sword: not that I fear it, but because I have no wish
to fight with a gentleman whose enemy I am not."

"Ah! and yet you do not hesitate to calumniate me!"

"Unpleasant truths are not calumnies. It is positive that you have
broken your word, in a circumstance where it should have been held
sacred."

"The proof! Quickly--or, upon my honor, you shall not repeat the insult
a third time!"

"Do you know the Lady of Castellamare?

"Yes."

"You are betrothed to her."

"I am; what then?" asked Rechberg.

"Are you not restored to Barbarossa's favor on condition of marrying
another person?"

"I--forget Hermengarde!--such an assertion does not even merit a
denial."

"That is strange," said the Unknown, shaking his head.

"What else is there besides?"

"The Emperor banished you on account of your projects of marriage, and
yet you are back again."

"You conclude therefore that I have purchased the Imperial favor by the
violation of my word?"

"Such is my conviction."

"Why suppose evil rather than good? Would it not have been more
natural to think that Rechberg had profited by Eberhard's arrival to
obtain pardon through his intercession? That would have been reasonable
and just, and you would have guessed the correct motive of my return."

"Are you not invited to the Court?"

"I am not."

"If such is the case, your fidelity has been severely tested. Do not be
uneasy about your reconciliation with Barbarossa; you come at an
opportune moment. He needs you, or, rather, he would like to use you,
to accomplish an evil action. Still I hope that you will not allow
yourself to be led away."

"Will you explain your meaning?"

"You will learn it soon enough. Misfortune travels quickly. I merely
tell you: be faithful to your betrothed, to your wife; do not be
seduced or dazzled by ambition. Farewell!----"

"One moment! Cease this equivocation and tell me plainly what all this
means."

"Still, you must be satisfied with what I have made known to you: you
are forewarned; that is all that is necessary. Do not delay me, for my
time is precious; we will meet again in Pavia."

The stranger disappeared, and Rechberg, full of uneasiness, returned to
the castle.



                            _CHAPTER XXXII_.

                       _ALEXANDER'S AMBASSADOR_.


On the very next morning Erwin could judge of the truth of at least
some of the stranger's assertions. Frederic arrived early, and contrary
to the expectations of all, received our hero with open arms and every
token of sincere affection. Rechberg himself was surprised, for no
allusion whatever was made to the previous misunderstanding.

"You are welcome, Erwin," said the monarch, when Eberhard presented the
young man; "I heard of your arrival in Pavia, and was pleased to think
that you could accompany us to France."

He pressed the Count's hand with so much warmth, that the latter could
no longer doubt that his sovereign had some ulterior designs in view.
The Chancellor also was most amiable, and during their return to Pavia,
which took place the same day, rode constantly by his side, speaking of
the contemplated council which was to be held in France, at which the
French and English monarchs were to be present. He took such pains to
vaunt the riches and elegance of the French ambassador, Count Henry of
Champagne, whose sister had just married King Louis, that Rechberg was
completely puzzled, and resolved to be more than ever on his guard.

A magnificent reception had been prepared by Frederic's order in Pavia.
Victor and his partisans had left the city, and everything which could
possibly remind any one of the Antipope, had disappeared, even to the
arms which hung over his palace.

The zealous Omnibonus, Bishop of Verona, a stanch adherent of
Alexander, and the uncompromising opponent of Victor, received the
Metropolitan at the entrance of the cathedral. Barbarossa had
determined that the Archbishop should have no pretext for discontent,
and that he himself would appear free from all party spirit, and only
desirous of assuring the peace and unity of the Church. The pious
Eberhard, whom nothing could fatigue, was delighted with the state of
things. As it appeared, Pope Alexander, previous to his departure from
Genoa, had written to him to request his mediation with the Emperor,
and the prelate hoped to experience little difficulty in influencing
him to a kind and moderate course of action, particularly, as, during
their journey from Rivoli, Frederic had acknowledged, in a flattering
manner, the personal merits of the Pope. Eberhard, with Bishop Herman
of Brixen, immediately waited upon the Emperor, and were at once
received. As soon as Alexander's name was mentioned, a look of anger
crossed the monarch's face and his eyes flashed. It was gone in an
instant, but the Archbishop had perceived it, and although Frederic
listened calmly to his explanations, he feared to encounter an
inveterate and irreconcilable hatred. Judging that the Pope's letter
would best define his position, he laid it before the Emperor.

"The explanations offered by the Cardinal Roland are scarcely in
accordance with the efforts made by him to prolong the resistance of
the Milanese," remarked Barbarossa. "We hold positive proofs that he
encouraged the rebels, by presenting the revolt to them under the
appearance of a sacred war. You will acknowledge yourself, as a holy
and honorable ecclesiastic, that this is not the action of a loyal
subject."

"Sire," replied Eberhard, "Pope Alexander never either encouraged or
approved of the insurrection. The documents which your Majesty holds
are forgeries and valueless, as the work of people little worthy of
credit, who seek to advance their own selfish ends by sowing discord in
the Church. What is true, is, that Alexander thanked the Milanese for
their loyalty to him, and their opposition to the Antipope; in this, he
only did his duty."

"It is a sad business!" said Frederic, with a sigh. "Suppose, for
example, that we became the protector of Victor, and that the people
were excited to disobey him, the rebellion would be nothing but a
crusade against the schismatic Frederic of Hohenstauffen--"

"It is never lawful for Christians to fight against their sovereign,"
replied Eberhard. "In the time of Nero, they became martyrs for their
faith, but never rebels."

This observation seemed to reassure the Emperor.

"Very well," said he. "Personally, we have no cause of complaint
against Alexander. If the approaching council to be held at Besançon,
at which the bishops of our Empire and those of France and England are
to assist, pronounces the claims of Alexander to be legitimate, we
shall be the first to recognize his supremacy."

"The decision scarcely appears doubtful," said Herman of Brixen:
"Victor has violated every law too audaciously."

"As for ourselves," resumed Barbarossa, "we are not so proud but that
we are ready to acknowledge our error, so soon as it shall be proved."

"May the Divine grace produce good fruit to your desires," said the
Archbishop. "The Holy Father writes to you:--'I beg and supplicate the
Emperor to take pity on the Church, and grant her peace. Let him not
believe that aught of good can result from the evil which he has
promoted, for as the abyss of heresy widens, a still greater number of
souls plunge into it and are lost. Assure him that we are ready to
stretch forth our hand to bless him, as soon as he will renounce the
bonds of iniquity, and cease to protect the disloyal Octavian.' Words
truly evangelical!" added Eberhard; "with what joy the Holy Father will
learn that you do not spurn his offered hand!"

"Again, I must assure you, my lord Archbishop, that our decision is
entirely dependent upon that of the council," replied Barbarossa,
refraining from the discussion of a subject which diplomacy forbade him
to broach under its true light. "We understand that the relics of the
three kings will arrive to-morrow. We desire that they be received with
all the honor which they merit, and that they be exposed, for a few
days, in Pavia. It will gratify us should your Reverence deign to
organize the proper ecclesiastical ceremony."

"With infinite joy, Sire; I will be careful that the clerical
prescriptions are observed."

The monarch accompanied the prelates to the door of his apartment,
where he dismissed them. Scarcely had he re-entered, when Rinaldo
appeared.

"How did your Majesty sustain the first shock?" he inquired.

"Pretty well. We will recognize Alexander as soon as the council
acknowledge his claims."

"Excellent," said Dassel; "but we will take care that the council do
not acknowledge him. The presence of one as holy as Eberhard has
already begun to bear its fruits! He enjoys so vast a reputation of
sanctity among the people, that his visit suffices to make of the
schismatic Barbarossa the most faithful of the faithful. You must
acknowledge, Sire, that you really owe me a debt of gratitude for my
discovery. But let us not forget what is equally material: the wind has
completely shifted at the French Court. The Count of Champagne has
shown me a letter from the royal Chancellor, giving him full powers to
conclude an arrangement with you. This excellent Count is beside
himself with joy, for if he had been in his senses, he would most
certainly not have been quite so communicative."

"There is no reason to be astonished if the noble Count should have
lost his wits. Did we not promise him castles, and bailiwicks, and
fortresses along the Lorraine frontier?" replied the Emperor.

"It needed a tempting bait to catch the Count of Champagne; but a
diplomatist should never hesitate to make promises. The French
ambassador is yours, body and soul; ask him what you please, there is
no fear of a refusal."

"What can have caused this fortunate change?"

"Oh! little enough. Alexander received Louis' envoy quite roughly; he
preached a long sermon to the Abbot Theobald of St. Germains, and
threatened the Archbishop of Orleans, the royal Chancellor, with
canonical censure. The courtiers complain; the king is hurt, and
proposes to abandon Alexander."

"Very well!--What do you advise me to do now?"

"Let the Count, in the name of his sovereign, notify the French
ecclesiastics, and announce Alexander's coming. If, in the meanwhile,
Louis should change his mind, which, with the French character, is not
at all unlikely, either the Count will oblige the King to keep his
word, or he must be himself disavowed. In which latter case, Troyes,
Champagne, and the rich provinces which belong to them, will be happily
annexed to the Empire, and the French kingdom necessarily weakened."

"Your advice is good," said Frederic; "send in the Count, and have the
contract ready."

"The Count will doubtless remind your Majesty of my promises; do not
hesitate, ratify everything, and affix your seal, without scruple, to
all which he may propose."

"Best content," replied Barbarossa, as the Chancellor left the
apartment.

"Alexander, your death-knell has sounded!" exclaimed the Emperor; "and
soon the most dangerous enemy of our Imperial supremacy, the most
intrepid and cunning opponent to our wishes, will regret his haughty
conduct. Ah! for the Emperor to be altogether Emperor, the Pope must
not seek to divide the Empire with him. The pagan emperors called
themselves _Pontifices maximi_, and they were; why should I not be the
head of Church as well as State?"

Meanwhile Count Dassel was making every preparation for the treaty. On
his passage through the palace he approached a window looking into the
garden.

"He is not there yet," he said. "Ah! still--there they are; it is all
right!" and with a scornful sneer he disappeared.

It was towards Rechberg that the Chancellor's attention had been
directed. The Count was approaching, accompanied by a young nobleman,
whose appearance offered a certain resemblance to that of Rinaldo
himself. They were conversing with animation, and the bright look, the
graceful bearing, the elegant shape and ironical expression of the
nobleman, vividly recalled the German statesman.

"Your description of the Countess is calculated to excite one's
curiosity. Who is her father?" asked Erwin.

"Count Henry of Champagne, the ambassador and brother-in-law of the
King of France," replied the nobleman.

"Count Dassel has spoken to me of the father, but has said nothing of
the daughter."

"Indeed! he said nothing of her whom all Pavia is talking of,--nothing
about Richenza?"

"And you say that she leaves for France to-morrow?"

"I have heard so; she only came to do homage to the sacred relics."

"Where does she live?" asked Erwin.

"Outside of the city walls, in a villa; for the Count, though in every
way polite and courteous, keeps his daughter secluded. He seems like a
miser who watches anxiously over his treasure."

"He is a prudent father, Hellig."

"He would have done better to leave her at home."

"What frightful egotism! Richenza came here not to be seen, but to
see."

"You are right. But I shall not look at her again, although I shall
have the best chance in the world tomorrow at Pavia."

"Still you will go with me, Hellig?"

"What is the use of it? Must I point the sun out to you, and then tell
you it is there? You should take more care of your peace of mind; your
neighbor's misfortunes ought to serve you as a warning."

"Don't be alarmed. Suppose that I already possess a jewel whose
brilliancy eclipses all others; you tell me: Come, and see the
brightest diamond in the world! I shall go, although I am sure
beforehand that this treasure is naught in comparison to mine."

At this moment a courtier appeared with an invitation to Count Rechberg
to be present as a witness at the interview about to take place between
Frederic and the Ambassador of France.



                           _CHAPTER XXXIII_.

                              _A WARNING_.


The removal of the holy relics of the three Magi had excited the
people, and from all sides a crowd of every age and sex hurried forward
toward Pavia. The Emperor and his entire Court went out to meet the
procession, and soon a noise like the distant murmuring of the sea,
announced the approach of the relics.

The shrine, carried by the monks, was a work of art of inestimable
value. It was shaped like a dome, of gold and silver, studded with
precious stones. Four columns supported the roof, which was of solid
gold; and the sides exhibited medallions representing scenes in the
life of the three wise men of the East.

Eberhard of Salzburg inaugurated the ceremonies with the greatest
solemnity. Frederic and seven other princes bore the shrine through the
streets, which were lined by the knights, in complete armor, in order
to keep back the crowd. Flags floated from every turret and spire, and
the windows were decked with rich draperies and ornaments of gold and
silver, above which appeared the reverent faces of the pious
inhabitants. The streets were hidden beneath masses of flowers and
costly carpets; the bells tolled, and the people chanted hymns of
thanksgiving and of praise. Rinaldo himself, magnificently dressed,
seemed, as he walked along with clasped hands, to be animated by the
same sentiment of respectful awe which pervaded all classes of the
spectators. Occasionally he glanced stealthily at the Emperor with
every evidence of satisfaction on his features, for the crafty
chancellor fully appreciated the motives which had influenced his
sovereign to this parade of outward devotion.

Rechberg took part in the religious ceremony in an entirely different
frame of mind. He prayed fervently, joined in the sacred chants of the
congregation, and repeated audibly the invocations of the people. With
a lively faith in the power of the holy kings, he laid bare to them his
inmost heart, and sought their intercession. He besought them to draw
down the blessing of God upon his approaching marriage with
Hermengarde, promising that he would, after its solemnization, suspend
three silver lamps as a votive offering in their honor from the dome of
the Cathedral of Cologne. He pronounced this vow at the moment that the
procession crossed the nave to replace the shrine in the body of the
church. Seats for the Empress and other Court ladies had been erected
on either side; and Rechberg, who did not understand the Latin prayers
chanted by the clergy, desired to contemplate the brilliant spectacle
presented by the Imperial suite. He thought that he had sufficiently
honored the relics by his devotions. He remembered the vaunted beauty
of the Countess Richenza of Champagne, and he gazed curiously around.
The benches on the right were occupied exclusively by Beatrice and her
ladies of honor; the Countess must necessarily be on the other side, to
which his back was turned. He might by a slight movement change his
position, but he feared lest his action might appear rude. After a
moment's hesitation, however, he stepped forward so that his face was
concealed by the main altar, and then, certain that he had not been
remarked, he turned round unaffectedly. His curiosity was immediately
gratified. In the first row, at a few paces only from him, knelt the
daughter of the Count of Champagne. Her veil was thrown back, and a
cloud of fair hair fell in rich masses upon her neck. Her eyes were
fixed upon the shrine, and her lips moved as though in prayer.

Rechberg was bewildered with admiration. Hellig had exaggerated
nothing, for Richenza was wonderfully beautiful. Suddenly her eyes were
raised toward the young man, who hastily turned away.

In the interval, the ceremony had been completed. The shrine had three
doors, like a large church. They were open, and through a golden
lattice-work could be seen the venerated relics. An immense number of
tapers were burning in candlesticks of silver; several priests were
watching carefully around the shrine, and monks were seated before the
doors to receive the books and engravings and pictures which the piety
of the crowd presented as votive offerings to the holy remains.

Eberhard of Salzburg could not let escape this excellent opportunity of
proclaiming his religious sentiments. He stood upright on the summit of
the altar-steps, immediately in front of the ostensorium, ready to
bless the princes and the people. But, before bestowing the
benediction, and much to the discomfiture of the Emperor and the
confusion of Rinaldo, he pronounced a few words of earnest exhortation,
counselling obedience to the authority of Alexander III.

"Our gracious Emperor and lord," he said, "whose duty it is to defend
the Church, will root out the venom of heresy. It is due to his own
renown, to the name which he inherits from his Carlovingian ancestors,
to the glory which he has won, to rise in aid of the Holy See, and to
show to all the scoffers, that he is the obedient son of the Pope, the
protector of the Church, of law, and of morals. It is on these
conditions that I bless our noble sovereign; I bless all those
illustrious prelates and knights who obey Pope Alexander,--I bless all
the world of faithful Catholics."

He was about to take the ostensorium, when Barbarossa made a sign. It
was impossible that the discourse of the Archbishop before so brilliant
an assembly could be allowed to pass unnoticed.

"Your Reverence has profited by this opportunity," he said, "to remind
us of the duties of our position. These duties are onerous, indeed, now
that error has possessed the minds of many of our fellow-men. We
espouse the cause of no faction; we only defend right and justice. Our
predecessors, acting in this by the advice of high ecclesiastical
dignitaries, deposed all those, whatever their position, who profited
by it to the injury of souls and the prejudice of the Holy Church. Our
duty is the same, and we are resolved to discharge it. Whenever the
Plenary Council, which is about to assemble, shall have proclaimed who
is the lawful Pope, we will defend him against all his enemies and
opposers whatsoever. May the present schism soon be destroyed forever,
and may peace be restored to God's Holy Church."

Frederic had spoken energetically, and with a loud voice. The words
rang through the cathedral as though they were a profession of faith
made in the presence of the world. Rinaldo smiled faintly, and the
crowd shouted, "What a pious Sovereign! What a God-fearing Emperor! May
God protect and defend him!"

After the benediction, Rechberg left the cathedral, in the Emperor's
train. All at once he felt a touch upon his arm, and, turning, saw the
stranger of the park of Rivoli, dressed in the rich costume of the
Italian nobility. On the former occasion the moonlight had enabled him
to catch merely a glimpse of his person, but he at once recognized him
by his strongly marked features and his long beard. Upon a sign from
the Unknown, Erwin followed him.

"I promised," he said, as soon as they had entered a by-street, "to
meet you in Pavia. Let us then at once resume our previous
conversation. But let me first ask you one question: Is your fidelity
to the lady of Castellamare not yet shaken?"

"If I had not confidence in your loyalty," replied Erwin, "I should
regard the question as an insult."

"Take care, young man; you do not yet know the inconstancy of the human
heart."

"Thanks for your advice; but, in pity, tell me, what motives prompt
your interference?"

"What I told you at Rivoli should be proof enough that I am informed on
all Court secrets. This infamous Rinaldo has arranged everything.--He
has shown you the Countess of Champagne; you admired her; you will
speak to her to-day;--the rest will come of itself, naturally."

Rechberg was astonished. Hellig was nothing but a tool of the
Chancellor. He understood now the reasons for Dassel's extravagant
praise of the French envoy.

"I must acknowledge," he said, "that you are extremely well informed;
and I need no other proof to give credence to what you advance. But if
this Rinaldo fancies that he can make me unfaithful to my oath, he is
grievously mistaken."

"Still, he wishes to bring about a marriage between you and the
Countess of Champagne."

Rechberg blushed indignantly.

"How!" he said; "does Dassel believe me faithless, base, and without
honor?"

"Dassel believes everything possible, because he himself is capable of
everything. Don't be surprised at anything in that man, whom they
rightly call _ruina mundi_; I only wonder that Barbarossa has not a
better opinion of his relative."

"Eh! what? the Emperor too thinks so meanly of me?"

"No, Count; the Emperor does not think meanly of you; he wishes to use
you for his own purposes, that is all. Rinaldo has shown to him the
advantages of a union between you and Richenza. Frederic's own marriage
gave Burgundy to the Empire; a similar proceeding would unite
Champagne. Believe me, the plan is by no means a bad one. For a cousin
of Frederic to become Count of Troyes and Champagne would be a great
step forward in the march to universal dominion. But, as I have already
said, the question is, Are you strong enough to resist?"

"Well! if the heiress to the throne of France were to offer me her
hand, I would refuse it!"

"Richenza returns to her home, and you will be her escort," continued
the stranger.

"I?"

"Barbarossa will give you the order himself."

"Very well; if he does, I shall decline the honor."

"You cannot."

"Do you advise me to accompany the Countess?"

"I do."

"But you have yourself reminded me of the inconstancy of the human
heart."

"He who is on his guard has nothing to fear."

"I will not put myself in a false position."

"But when I will have informed you that Hermengarde's journey----"

"Do you know where she is living?" asked Erwin.

"No; but your cousin owns property in that part of the country. It is
there a fearful, mortal struggle against Alexander will take place;
there, the bishops of England, Germany, and France will assemble, at
Barbarossa's request, to restore peace to the Church: it is there, that
Louis will meet Frederic; it is also in that direction that the Count
of Champagne and his daughter are going."

"So that, without doubt, I will be near Hermengarde?"

"If you refuse to yield to Barbarossa's wishes, he will send you back
to Germany."

"It is very probable. Well, be it so; I will accept the mission."

"In that case, my dear Count, I must ask you to do me a service," said
the stranger.

"Speak! you have a claim to my gratitude."

"Suppose that a lady of high rank should wish to travel under your
protection?"

"You only require me to fulfil one of the duties of chivalry. Where
shall I meet this lady?"

"She and her suite will join you a few miles from here. The roads are
so insecure that your escort will be extremely valuable; but, like all
unfortunates, she requests to be left as much as possible alone."

"I understand; but, before separating, can I not learn the name of him
who seems to take so warm an interest in my welfare?"

"My name?" said the _stranger_, irresolutely. "Call me Antonio; the
name is an humble one, but a thousand noble ancestors of immortal fame
are not sufficient to make their descendant a man of honor."

They parted, and Erwin entered the palace, where he met Hellig.

"Ah!" said he to himself, "here comes the traitor, Dassel's tool."

"Count, I am directed to lead you to the Emperor."

Rechberg went to the Imperial chamber, and was informed by Barbarossa
that he had chosen him to accompany the French Count to his home.

"Let all be in readiness," he said, "for to-morrow's journey."



                            _CHAPTER XXXIV_.

                        _THE DIVORCED DUCHESS_.


Count Henry's journey was long and tedious. He halted in every locality
which seemed to offer any attraction, and even remained nearly three
weeks at Chanbery. But these delays were prompted by political reasons,
and many couriers came and went between the Count and the Courts of
Germany and France. He also visited several of the principal towns of
Italy, and his frequent interviews with the Pisan and Genoese envoys
presaged the conclusion of an offensive and defensive alliance between
these maritime republics and France and the Emperor. Although the Count
regretted this forced seclusion of his daughter, the fair Richenza
scarcely seemed to regret her monotonous existence. On the contrary,
accustomed to excite universal admiration in the gay and brilliant
French Court, the ceremonious politeness of the young German noble
amused her. It was in vain that, to further her father's projects, she
treated him with marked distinction; he remained always the same,
perfectly courteous, but cold and reserved. At last the young Countess
got piqued, but Erwin cared little for this; he had been warned by the
Unknown of the Emperor's designs, and he was on his guard. Still, this
constant struggle between duty and temptation rendered his position a
painful one, and he regretted a hundred times his acceptance of the
mission in which he was now engaged.

One day, in the midst of a profound revery, he heard a light rap at the
door of his apartment.

"Come in!" he cried.

A veiled woman entered, but although she remained covered, Rechberg
recognized her as one of the attendants of the unknown lady whom
Antonio had intrusted to his care. Our hero was ignorant of her rank
and position, for he had never seen her face; and she always remained
in her tent, or else was so deeply veiled that he could neither
distinguish her features nor even the sound of her voice. He often rode
by her side, less through curiosity than as a chivalrous duty; still it
was impossible to penetrate the mystery which enveloped her, and one
thing alone was evident, that she was the victim of some crushing
misfortune.

Now at last, the lady had sent to request his visit, and Rechberg
followed the messenger through many tortuous streets to a house which
seemed chosen with an especial view to retirement and melancholy, and
it was not without emotion that Erwin entered the apartment, where,
surrounded by her attendants, the lady was reclining upon a divan. Upon
his entrance, she rose and advanced a step to reply to his courteous
bow, and then motioned him to a seat. There was a long silence, during
which Erwin looked attentively at the lady, whose stature and dignified
deportment announced to be of high position.

"Count," she said, in a calm, sweet voice, "first let me thank you for
the kind protection which you have given to a very wretched woman.
Pardon me, if I have been compelled, by circumstances, to conceal my
name and character; but I still need your aid, and I trust that, though
unknown, I may count upon it."

"I have merely discharged the duties imposed by the laws of chivalry,"
replied Erwin; "I am always ready to serve you."

"Thank you, my lord. You probably know that His Holiness the Pope
Alexander III. has taken refuge in France, and is at present in a
monastery on the frontiers of the Empire, not for from Laon. It is
there, near to the Father of the faithful, the support of the afflicted
and the unhappy, that I am now going."

She paused for a reply, and it seemed to Erwin that her voice was
familiar, and that he had already heard it at the Court.

"I now learn," she resumed, "that the Holy Father, through fear for his
personal safety on account of the alliance between France and the
Emperor, intends to go to England. Should he do so, I shall lose this
opportunity of laying my sorrows at the feet of the Vicar of Jesus
Christ. To be so near the only person who can aid me in my misfortunes,
and yet not see him, will be an additional trial. You, Count, can
relieve my unhappiness by consenting to accompany me to Laon."

"What do you ask me to do?" said Erwin. "I cannot leave the Count of
Champagne, without violating all the rules of courtesy and incurring my
sovereign's displeasure; but I will do all in my power to persuade him
to hasten his journey."

"Your efforts will be vain. The Count of Champagne is merely a
statesman who is influenced by reasons of political expediency, but not
by pity for the sufferings of a stranger."

"Still I will try."

"You will lose your time; but, perhaps, when you see my face, you will
consent to do what you have refused to a mere unknown."

She raised her veil;--Clemence, Duchess of Saxony, pale and dejected,
stood before him, the living image of grief.

"Great God!" he cried, "can it be you, noble lady? You, the most
powerful princess of the Empire, here, unprotected, without the retinue
which belongs of right to the Duchess of Saxony and Bavaria!"

"Calm yourself," she answered. "What are rank and dignities? I am
nothing now but a poor, divorced wife, who implores your aid and pity."

"It is true then? That infamous deed, of which they spoke so
cautiously, has really been consummated?" cried Erwin, indignantly.
"Duke of Saxony, they call thee 'the Lion,' but thou art only a lion in
cruelty! Henry, thou art an unnatural husband, a prince without honor,
the disgrace of knighthood!"

Rechberg's eyes flashed, and his hand sought his sword-hilt, as though
he would chastise the crime.

"Restrain yourself, do not blame him," said Clemence. "The fault is
entirely theirs who have led him astray, and estranged his heart from
the sentiments of duty."

"Not at all, noble Duchess; your excuses only render him more guilty.
But tell me how such iniquity could be perpetrated under the very eyes
of the Emperor? Why this visit to the Pope? Is not our sovereign the
guardian of our rights? Why did you not appeal to him?"

"I have done so, but in vain! Frederic pities my fate, but he neither
can, nor will defend my rights."

"You say that he cannot?"

"Those were his own words. The marriage is invalidated by our
consanguinity; he is not competent to decide in matters of divorce."

"As if it were not the duty of the Emperor to prevent or punish every
act of injustice! You are related to your husband, and the discovery
has only just been made!--This is still more extraordinary."

"The discovery is entirely due to the hatred of the Chancellor Rinaldo.
Oh! how happily we lived together until that evil man came across our
path!--Then, my husband was great and noble, a lion in war, but a lamb
at home, a loving and attentive father, a tender and affectionate
husband!--And now, O my God!"

And her tears, impatient of all restraint, burst forth in torrents.

"Calm yourself, madam! believe me, such a deed cannot be lawfully
recognized. Were there any formal proceedings? Has any sentence been
pronounced?"

"The Emperor presided at his tribunal, and the Pope decreed the
divorce! It was in vain I tried to defend my cause; I begged on my
knees for mercy; all was useless.--At last, moved by my tears and
entreaties, Victor confessed that our consanguinity was not
established, and that he had annulled the marriage by the express
command of His Majesty, and against his own convictions."

"Alas!"

"Consanguinity," said he, "is a mere pretext; State reasons of the
highest importance have compelled the Emperor to this course."

"Heavens! is it thus that justice is administered? Madam, your tale has
changed my intentions. Since the Emperor cannot protect your rights, I
will accompany you to the Holy Father. Make your arrangements, noble
lady, we will start immediately."

Gero met his master at the door, and received orders to prepare
everything for their departure. Erwin then went to his apartment,
where, with many a bitter invective against Barbarossa's conduct, he
began to put on his armor.

"And yet, I cannot go!" he said to himself, as he left his chamber.
"How annoying! What ought I to do? A true knight owes as much respect
to courtesy as to his other duties."

He laid down his lance, and went to call on Richenza. The young
Countess had just finished her toilette, as he entered, and was
exquisitely dressed in white.

"Deign to excuse my early visit, noble lady," said the Count; "I was
unable to defer it. Reasons of grave importance oblige me to leave your
party immediately; I have come, according to custom and courtesy, to
crave your permission."

"Unless you will tell me the reasons, I cannot grant your request. Sit
down, dear Count, and explain yourself. I will see if there is no means
of making you change your intentions."

He was forced to obey, and he took his seat with an embarrassment which
did not escape the young girl's notice.

"I am less able to accede to your demand, dear Count, because it is
contrary to all our arrangements. The Emperor has chosen for my escort
the best lances of German chivalry, so that you cannot, without
disrespect to His Majesty, leave me before the end of my journey."

"It is true, noble lady, that it is an honor for me to escort you; but
there are some circumstances in which one duty must yield to another,
whose claims are still more imperative."

"Circumstances! May I ask you again for some explanations?"

"It is on account of an unfortunate lady, who up to the present moment
has travelled under my protection."

"I scarcely expected, Count, that this mysterious person would play
such a trick as this, and carry you away from us. Believe me, I am
seriously interested in her troubles, on account of the influence she
appears to exercise over you. You say that she is to be pitied; what is
the cause of her sorrow?"

"The most terrible which can possibly afflict a wife. I cannot say
more."

"Has she been married?"

"Yes; and she has always been amiable, faithful, but now is most
unfortunate."

Richenza breathed more easily. She had no cause for uneasiness; Erwin
was still free.

"The interest you take in this misfortune is very praiseworthy," she
said.

"Grant me leave, noble lady; this unhappy woman's only hope is in Pope
Alexander's sympathy and protection; I ought to accompany her to his
court, and I must go without delay."

"Pope Alexander should be in the Imperial camp at Laon; are we not
going in that direction?" asked Richenza.

"I believe so; but we travel so slowly."

"You have not then heard that my father has been hastily summoned to
Laon? Your visit prevented me from putting on my riding-dress. Listen!
everything is ready, and the escort is already mounted."

They went to the window, and saw the knights and squires issuing from
their tents, and drawing up in line, upon the square in front of the
palace.



                            _CHAPTER XXXV_.

                                _LAON_.


From this day forward, the French Ambassador hurried his journey as
much as he had hitherto delayed it. The necessary rest was scarcely
allowed to the horses, and they travelled night and day as if under the
pressure of some political interest of weighty moment.

A grave and careworn expression had succeeded the usually gay and
jovial air of the French Count; he spoke rarely, and only in answer to
his daughter's questions. Although much fatigued, Richenza still
assured her father that she was strong enough to go on; but, from time
to time, she looked at the German noble, as if to say,--

"I bear all the annoyances of our journey, rather than be separated
from you."

As they neared the French frontier, Erwin met several noblemen of his
acquaintance; for Barbarossa had summoned all the spiritual and
temporal princes to meet him at Laon. A great number had already
arrived, and were encamped along the banks of the Saône.

Soon the towers of Laon, where Louis VII. held his court, began to
stand out in bold relief upon the distant horizon. Crowds of horsemen
and foot-passengers were pressing towards the city, and the road became
more animated as they approached the gates. Numerous huts lined the
causeway, offering refreshments at a moderate price; and citizens and
soldiers were carousing gayly, under the trees.

Near the drawbridge, in a position to see all who passed, were seated,
around a jug of wine, our three old acquaintances, Antonio, Pietro
Nigri, and Cocco Griffi.

Pietro seemed much changed. His country's ruin had broken down his
proud spirit, and he showed, in his features, the grief he so keenly
felt. As to Cocco, he was always the same, and his attentions to the
banquet made up for his companions' neglect.

"I came from Dôle yesterday," said Pietro; "all the houses are filled
with knights, and you can see nothing anywhere but couriers and
soldiers. King Louis will find out one of these days where Barbarossa
will take him. If he does not intend to support the Emperor's tyranny,
and become his vassal, these German savages will occupy the frontiers,
and ravage the French territory with fire and sword, until Louis sues
for mercy."

"You are a profound statesman, Pietro," said Antonio, with a laugh; "we
are not there yet, and we will not be soon. I grant you that Barbarossa
will do his best to frighten the king; but he will think twice before
he attacks the allied powers of France and England."

"France and England, allied powers!" exclaimed Pietro. "I thought that
the two kings had quarrelled?"

"Ask Pope Alexander if he agrees with you.

"I only know this much, that Alexander has hitherto taken great pains
to bring about a reconciliation. But I also know, as every one else
does, that Louis has threatened to give the Pope up to Barbarossa!"--

"Louis' threats are not serious," said Antonio. "He must yield to
circumstances."

"Circumstances! To my thinking, they are not very favorable!"

"One must not tell all one knows," said Antonio, shrewdly.

"So much the better, if you know all the State secrets; as for me, I
expect nothing good from the future. If France ever becomes a vassal of
the Emperor, it is all over with the liberty of Italy."

"Come, friend Pietro, do not worry over these things. Think rather of
the business which has brought you to France. Do you know what has
become of Hermengarde? How did she receive you?"

"Very kindly; but she informed me of her betrothal."

"Count Erwin is certainly a good match; still, the affair may yet fall
through.--Eh! what do I see? There he is!--Richenza is with him.--Look
at the young Countess."

The brilliant retinue of the Count of Champagne was advancing through
the midst of a crowd of admiring spectators. Richenza rode, at the head
of the escort, between Rechberg and her father. Pietro glared at the
young Count, with a muttered curse. Antonio turned his back, and only
resumed his place when the clatter of the horses' hoofs had died away
in the distance.

"Malediction on all whom the tyrant protects!" said Pietro, sullenly.
"Shame on me, not to have killed him!" and he drank deeply.

"It is a good lesson, friend Pietro! you must profit by your chances,
in future."

"I swear to revenge myself!" cried Nigri, scowling with hatred. "Let me
only meet him in the plain, or elsewhere, and he will soon make the
acquaintance of my sword."

"It would be much more simple to break off his marriage," sneered
Antonio.

"Can you do that?" asked Pietro, eagerly. "Antonio, my life, my fortune
are yours, if you can accomplish this!--But, alas! it is impossible!"

"And why so? I have my own plan, and I wish him to marry Richenza."

"Explain yourself, dear Antonio!"

"I will see Hermengarde, and tell her of the widely-spread reports of
her betrothed's marriage with the beautiful and wealthy Countess of
Champagne."

"Will she believe you?"

"And why not? I already see the effect which my revelation will produce
on Hermengarde!"

"Excellently imagined, Antonio."

"We need skill and cunning. The only difficulty will be to procure, in
proper time, the necessary proofs. But the Count of Champagne has his
castle in the neighborhood of the city.--Hermengarde is not far
distant.--Leave it to me."

During this conversation, Count Henry and his retinue moved towards the
city. He had already dispatched a nobleman to the royal chancellor,
Bishop Manasés of Orleans. On leaving the north gate, they came at once
in sight of the castle, which was built upon an eminence overlooking
the park which surrounded the hill.

The unhappy Duchess of Saxony gratefully accepted the Count's
invitation to remain in his castle during her stay at Laon. It was
there she retired with her protector, the only person who knew her
secret, until he could accompany her to the papal court; for Alexander
had not yet arrived at the town, but was residing in the celebrated
Abbey of Cluny.

As soon as he reached his apartment, the lord of the castle hastened to
change his costume. He was very uneasy, for the good understanding,
reported to exist, between Alexander and king Louis, threatened to
destroy the hopes held out to him by Rinaldo of increasing his
possessions. Naturally he wished to be positively certain of the fact
before presenting himself to his sovereign. No one could furnish more
correct data than the Bishop Manasés, who, equally desirous of seeing
the Count, hastened to the castle, accompanied by only two servants.
Scarcely had Henry of Champagne perceived the horsemen, when he
descended to the court-yard, and embracing the prelate with great
cordiality, led him to his cabinet for a private interview.

Manasés, by the laxity of his conduct in ecclesiastical matters, had
incurred the Pope's displeasure. Alexander did not deceive himself as
to the possible consequences of his reprimands. He knew that the Bishop
would endeavor to destroy the amiable relations existing between him
and the feeble King of France; but the illustrious Pontiff had too
exalted a regard for what he considered his duty, to allow himself to
be influenced by any worldly considerations.

The exterior of the Bishop of Orleans was at once a mixture of the
ecclesiastic and the man of the world. All his movements were stamped
with a certain affected grace which was not at all natural to him. His
dress was in no way different from that of other courtiers of rank, and
the episcopal ring alone indicated his position. The cut of his hair,
which he wore long and flowing in perfumed curls, did not conform to
the canons, which enjoined that this luxury should be left entirely to
the laity. His delicate moustache was turned up at the ends, whilst the
chin and cheeks were closely shaved. A casual examination indicated
that the prelate was inclined to the pleasures of the table.

"You have acted wisely," said Manasés, as soon as his host had related
to him the result of his interview with Frederic; "you have acted
wisely in disguising the principal point of your mission; above all,
you have done well in not stating that yon were disposed to secede,
with your domains, to the Emperor, in case Louis refused to ratify the
contract."

"What does it matter! the contract is signed, attested, and must be
observed," answered the Count. "Our King's gallantry cannot be used as
a pretext to injure me. But how is it that Louis has so suddenly
changed his intentions and become reconciled with Alexander?"

"I can scarcely explain it to myself. The Pope invited him to a
conference, which, in spite of my remonstrances, took place at
Montpeleier. It hardly lasted a half-hour, but it was sufficient to
gain over the king. It seems as though he has enlightened him on the
subject of Frederic's ambition; at least since then, Louis often speaks
uneasily of the Emperor's warlike preparations and his hostile
intentions towards France."

"Nothing is more apparent than Frederic's pretensions to universal
empire," replied the Count, carelessly; "but what matters it? Great men
have indisputable rights to take the lead of weaker princes."

"I see, my dear Count, that you have not lost your time at the Imperial
Court," said the Archbishop, ironically; "still you will do well not to
parade the result of your mediations at the Court of France. Few of the
crown vassals would understand you."

"I will follow your advice. But I must avow that Frederic's views in
all that concerns the Papacy do not seem right and proper. It is not so
much Alexander's person that he hates, as the pontifical chair. It is
not very Christian, and is very dangerous for the other States."

"You go too far, Count: Frederic hates only Alexander. He only wishes
to humble the proud and inflexible prelate Roland, and we must aid him
in the work. Yes," added Manasés, passionately, "this pious man has the
most absurd ideas about bishops. He would like to turn them into monks
and hermits, and shut them up in a cloister, that he may the more
easily rule them. He has already published a bull about the length of
the hair; soon, I suppose, he will give directions about the prelates'
houses, their retinues, and their style of dress."

"Ah! I begin to understand: Alexander is too severe with the jovial
prelates," said the Count, with a smile.

"Yes," replied Manasés, "and he will punish also the noble lords and
counts who profit by every opportunity to get an award of some fragment
of Church property! But enough on this subject.--As we have already
agreed, the King must know nothing more than he knows already. Above
all, conceal your personal arrangements with Barbarossa; that of itself
would suffice to enrage him."

"Must he then not be informed of the determination which has been taken
to bring Alexander before the Council, whether he will or not?"

"That must depend on circumstances. Let me act first; I will give
you notice in due time. I will go to work at once. Come to the Court
to-morrow."

"Why not to-day?" the Count asked.

"Because I must first prepare the King's mind. But be perfectly easy;
you are wearied by this long journey and need rest.--Louis, you know,
is very sympathetic in all bodily ailments."

"Very well, we understand each other perfectly. Farewell."

The Count accompanied the Chancellor to the courtyard, where the latter
mounted his horse and rode over to meet the King.



                            _CHAPTER XXXVI_.

                               _KNAVERY_.


At sunrise, Antonio was prowling about the vicinity of the Count of
Champagne's castle. He passed the park-gates, and, cautious as a fox in
search of his prey, concealed himself behind a clump of bushes near the
court-yard, whence he could perceive what was going on in the building.

"Rechberg likes early walks," he said to himself. "I shall not have
long to wait. If he only knew that Bonello's daughter is at an hour's
distance from here, nothing could prevent him going to her at once.
But as this interview would upset all my calculations, I must be
prudent.--Good, there he is at last, with his head down, as if he were
counting the pebbles on the road.--He is coming towards me as though I
had called him!--Oh! your servant, my lord Count."

"Ah! is that you, Antonio? I imagined you were still in Pavia."

"It is my duty to be wherever the master of the world is."

"I do not understand your meaning."

"You have not heard then that Barbarossa, with all his troops, entered
Dôle yesterday?"

"Indeed!"

"Your looks and your surprise rather indicate that you do not desire to
join him there."

"I wish, Antonio, that it were possible to avoid this interview.--My
troubles will begin--"

"I bring news of your betrothed.--I regret extremely that they are not
more agreeable ones.--But who could imagine her capable of such a
thing?--I would have suspected myself sooner."

"What do you mean to say?"

"You will need all your courage, but I must tell you the truth."

"Explain yourself!"

"Yesterday I met Pietro, who was once betrothed to Hermengarde."

"I beg your pardon, sir; Pietro never was her betrothed."

"Well, at any rate, he is now."

"Villain!" said Erwin, growing pale, and grasping his sword-hilt.

"Is this your idea of gratitude, my lord? Through interest for you, I
communicate something of importance, and by way of thanks you seize
your sword!--Farewell, Count!"

"Stop a moment!--Ah! what is this you tell me? Pardon my violence, but
my heart is broken."

"Pietro himself has assured me that Hermengarde regrets her engagement
to one who is related to the tyrant, the scourge of her country, the
persecutor of the Church."

Rechberg was thunderstruck; he was unable to speak.

"Compose yourself, Count, and be a man! Perhaps Pietro has
exaggerated."

"Oh! if I could only know the truth."

"I have some business to attend to, to-morrow, at La Flèche.
Hermengarde is there, and I will announce to her your arrival at Laon.
From her manner of receiving the news, her looks and actions, I can
judge whether Pietro's assertions are true or false."

"Thanks, dear Antonio; I shall be greatly indebted to you for the
service."

"Make yourself perfectly easy on this point, and trust to me."

"Where shall I hear from you?"

"Here; do not leave the castle until I see you again."

"The time will seem very long. Farewell."

Antonio hurriedly crossed the park in the direction of Laon. Pietro was
waiting for him at the gate.

"Well, Antonio, what have you done?" he asked.

"He believed everything I told him.--He is so guileless. To-morrow you
and I must go to La Flèche.--He sends me to see his betrothed."

"We will not speak of his arrival!"

"I shall simply state that Rechberg and the French Countess have come
here together, and that report says they are to be married soon, as the
Emperor urges the alliance, and Rechberg himself makes little
opposition."

"She will never believe you."

"Perhaps not, at first; but she will begin to doubt, and I know how to
change doubts into certainty."

"In what way?"

"You shall know in due time. Now you had better leave me, for we are
near the palace-yard; but do not forget to-morrow at daybreak."

Antonio entered the court-yard, where he met the Count of Champagne on
his way to see the Bishop, who was awaiting him in the King's
antechamber.

"I have had a hard battle to fight, Count," said the prelate. "His
Majesty is very uneasy about Barbarossa's military organizations. I
warn you to be prepared for everything."

The Count seemed unconcerned.

"I have not acted without proper authority," he said; "your own letter
gave me full powers."

"Certainly! shield yourself behind the instructions received from me;
it will induce Louis to reflect on the past. Perhaps he is already
ashamed of his conduct."

At this moment the King entered. The courtiers were interrupted, for
Manasés had still much to tell the Count; but there was nothing to be
done but to wait for a more favorable opportunity. Henry advanced
towards his sovereign and then knelt and kissed his hand respectfully.
The French prince, though naturally kind and generous, often allowed
himself to be led away by evil counsellors. His frivolous and
vacillating character made him the tool of parties who profited by
their influence, to allure him to the commission of bad actions. But as
soon as his spirit had regained its wonted calm, he at once rejected
the advice and the decisions which had been suggested to him. This
explains the continued series of weaknesses which marked his reign. His
conduct towards Alexander III. was an exact reflex of his character,
and at one time he was for, at another against him. A powerful faction
had sprung up since His Holiness had declared the necessity of
resisting the encroachments of the clergy, and of defending the Church
against the disloyal nobility. At the head of this faction was Queen
Adèle, the sister of the Count of Champagne, and a relative of the
Antipope Victor, and every means was employed to picture to the king,
in the most gloomy colors, the dangers which his kindness towards
Alexander might entail upon the French monarchy. A strong argument was
the inevitable peril of a war with Germany, and the prospect of an
alliance between Frederic and Henry of England, the sworn enemy of
France.

Louis understood the position, but the Pope was there, and he could not
make up his mind to leave the Head of the Church without protection, or
to give him up to his enemy Barbarossa.

On the other hand, Alexander's friends, comprising, with few
exceptions, all the Episcopacy of France, were opposed to Frederic's
plans, and proved to Louis that the Emperor only sought to humble the
Pope, and to subjugate all the other sovereigns. The king was
sufficiently clear-sighted to understand the truth of the statement,
but he made a grave mistake in supposing that he could deceive his
rival by diplomatic negotiations. The German troops, encamped on the
very borders of France, revealed unmistakably the intentions of their
leader, which greatly disturbed and annoyed the King; and as soon as
the formalities of the reception were finished, his discontent became
manifest.

"What is the meaning of this?" said he to the Count of Champagne; "what
contract is this you have made with the Emperor? Who gave you
unrestricted powers in this matter?"

"Your Majesty himself, by directing me, through your Chancellor, to
conclude a treaty of alliance. Deign to assure yourself of the truth of
my assertion, by examining this document."

"We regret our Chancellor's precipitation," replied the King, after a
cursory glance at the letter. "He should not have countenanced, so
hastily, an alliance hostile to the Holy Father."

"Allow me to remind your Majesty of what happened," said Manasés. "When
Alexander, by his gross discourtesy, so gravely insulted the royal
envoys, and when, in consequence, it was determined to break off all
intercourse with him, I could not foresee that your generosity would so
soon forget the outrage. My instructions to the Count contain nothing
more nor less than the expression of your own will."

"You know perfectly well how to excuse yourself, my lord Bishop; the
fault is entirely our own.--Let it be so! but this fault, the result of
an unfortunate misunderstanding, must have no further consequences!"

Manasés bowed deprecatingly before his sovereign's displeasure, but an
attentive spectator might have noticed the courtier's suppressed anger.

"But, Sire!" remarked the astonished Count of Champagne, "this treaty
in no way affects your own royal prerogatives."

"Indeed!" said the King; "we are then free? We are not tied down to
anything?"

"You are merely pledged to a personal interview with the Emperor, and
to make Alexander be present."

"What is that you say?" cried the King, furiously. "Force Alexander to
be present at an assembly which is to condemn him?--And I am to aid in
this!--Is that in the treaty?"

"Yes, Sire," answered Henry.

"No! by all the saints, it shall not be!" exclaimed the monarch, with
increased passion. "Shame on you, Count, for signing an agreement which
dishonors us! The Head of the Church has sought refuge within our
territory, and we are to act against him so disloyally?--We are to use
violence to force him before a tribunal composed of the Emperor's
creatures! No! by Saint Denis! we would sooner lose our crown and our
life!"

The courtier waited until the storm had passed, and when the King had
become more calm, he said,--

"Allow me, Sire; you make a grave mistake in this interpretation of the
treaty. There is nothing said about violence. You are merely to use
your influence to persuade Alexander to be present at the plenary
council. If he be innocent, if he be the lawful Pope, he will be
charmed with this opportunity of asserting his rights."

"Very good!--You have exceeded your powers, and the treaty is invalid.
Alexander can do what he pleases; and we, whatever appears to us to be
just and proper. Are we then nothing but the Emperor's vassals? Have we
no longer liberty to act in accordance with our own ideas?"

"I repeat that the treaty in no way interferes with your supremacy,"
replied the Count of Champagne; "but what was I to do? The Emperor was
on the point of concluding an alliance with England against you; ought
I to have permitted such a contract to be signed?"

The King made no answer to this crafty observation of his courtier; but
it was not without its effect, for it was the fear of this very
alliance between Frederic and the English monarch, which had made him,
in the first instance, open the negotiations.

"And how is Barbarossa preparing for our alliance?" asked Louis, who
was seeking a new pretext for his ill-humor. "Is he not on our very
frontiers, at the head of a powerful army? Is not that, of itself, a
threat?"

As if in answer to the question, a loud flourish of trumpets rang out
in the palace-yard.

"What is that?" said the King.

He approached the window. A troop of knights had halted before the
palace, and a chamberlain came up to announce the arrival of Frederic's
envoys.



                           _CHAPTER XXXVII_.

                               _THE SPY_.


The Chancellor Rinaldo and the Count Palatine Otho de Wittelsbach were
at the head of the embassy which had been sent by Frederic to
congratulate the French King. Whilst their retinue dispersed through
the town, the marshal of the palace introduced the two German nobles
into the royal apartments.

The reception-hall took up the entire length of the palace, and
resembled a market-house, rather than a room, for the accommodation of
persons of distinction. The bare walls were destitute of hangings, and
ornamented only with trophies of arms, among which was a collection
dating back to the time of the Franks. The sunlight dimly penetrated
through the narrow loopholes; the ground was coarsely floored, and
stone benches along the walls were the only furniture. The Count
Palatine examined, with some curiosity, the armor, and particularly an
ancient shield, which, it was said, had once be longed to Charlemagne.
Rinaldo placed himself in the recess of a window where he could
converse freely with the Count of Champagne. At last Louis appeared; he
was richly dressed and followed by a numerous retinue of French nobles,
among whom could be remarked his brother Henry, Archbishop of Rheims
and primate of France,--a prelate of great distinction and a devoted
adherent of Alexander III.

The monarch proceeded to the upper end of the hall, where he mounted a
throne of carved oak, whose only value consisted in having once been
used by the Emperor Charlemagne.

While the Count Palatine boldly approached the King, Rinaldo advanced
with a profound obeisance, (his eye eagerly scanning the faces of the
royal suite,) and remarked with uneasiness the presence of the
venerable prelate. Louis acknowledged the Chancellor's obsequious
homage by a simple wave of his hand, but his face wore a look of stern
determination, which gradually gave way to one of attentive curiosity,
as the Count of Champagne named the different persons composing the
embassy.

Dassel noticed the surprise with which the King looked at him, and was
flattered by it, while the Count Palatine Otho, cased in armor from
head to foot, stared with utter unconcern at the monarch and his court.

Dassel at once brought into play all his crafty diplomatic science, and
met the cold expression and indifferent manner of the sovereign with a
coldness and indifference, if possible, more strongly marked. After a
brief compliment, he broached the subject of the treaty.

"We bear to your Majesty," he said, "the friendship and best wishes of
our sovereign lord and master, the Emperor. Your Majesty is aware of
the grave concern which the important affair of the election of a Pope
has caused him; and he is rejoiced at being able to come to some
understanding with you, by which the schism may be arrested before it
can spread itself through all Christendom. From all that can be learned
up to the present moment, the only means of securing the peace of the
world is by the assembling of a general council. The princes of Europe
will be present, together with all the bishops of the Empire; and it is
hoped that your Majesty will call to it the French prelates. The two
Popes should appear, and each present his respective claims for the
consideration of the solemn conclave. The wisdom of the council can
then definitely settle the question. The Emperor trusts that you are as
anxious as himself to give peace to the Church, and that you will aid
him to the utmost of your ability."

"We thank the Emperor for his kind wishes," replied the King, "and our
desires are the same, but we do not agree upon the means to be used.
The right to assemble a plenary council does not belong to temporal
princes, but to the Pope alone. We will never allow ourself to
encroach upon the privileges of the Head of the Church; the French
prelates are very strict in their observance of the canonical rules,
and would scarcely notice our invitation. Besides, the ecclesiastical
statutes forbid any layman, even though he be a sovereign prince, to
have a vote in a plenary council. The bishops only can take part in
their proceedings and deliberations."

"Allow me to observe," answered Dassel, "that the Roman Emperor is the
born protector of the Church, and has always had the right of convoking
a plenary council; consequently, Frederic's pretensions are not
original with him. His intention is, by no means, to take part in the
deliberations, but simply to be present as a spectator. Besides, my
mission now is only to congratulate your Majesty, and inquire when and
where an interview can take place with the Emperor."

This request was embarrassing; Louis scarcely ventured to refuse, and
yet he dreaded the results of the meeting.

"Certainly, my lord Chancellor," he said, "we ardently desire an
interview with your noble sovereign in order to renew our ancient
friendship; but we fear lest it be interpreted in a manner entirely
opposed to our present intentions."

"And in what might this erroneous interpretation consist?" asked
Dassel, in his most submissive tone.

"I might be supposed to agree with the Emperor in his intention to
depose Pope Alexander."

"But I scarcely think that judgment would be a false one," replied the
Chancellor, smiling.

"What! you think, my lord, that we are capable of such an impious
crime?" exclaimed Louis, who was astonished at Rinaldo's assurance.

"To keep one's solemn promise is not a crime, but a duty."

"Yes, when our envoys have not exceeded their powers," replied Louis,
quickly. "The Count of Champagne had no authority whatever to pledge
himself for us to take part against the Head of the Church."

The blood rushed to the Count of Champagne's face, and his lips moved
convulsively, but he said nothing.

"Your Majesty is pledged only to a personal interview with the Emperor.
The non-fulfilment of this promise would be a grave outrage. If you
refuse, the Emperor will keep his engagements, and come in person with
all his retinue."

This threat produced a marked effect upon the French nobles. The King
hesitated a moment, but before he could reply, the Duke of Burgundy
exclaimed,--

"If this be a menace, my lord Chancellor, you may tell your master that
we will receive him and his followers as they deserve!"

"Let us have no violence, my dear Duke," said Louis. "We have already
told you that we are ready to accept the Emperor's invitation, and have
never had any intention of insulting him. Let him appoint the place and
time for our meeting; we will be there."

If this were a trick to gain time, Dassel was prepared for it, and
answered immediately,--

"Since your Majesty leaves everything to the Emperor's discretion,
Frederic will expect you at the bridge over the Saône, on the 29th of
this month."

Louis had no further excuse, and the Count of Dassel having terminated
his mission, left the city after partaking of a banquet. The King's
indecision, or rather his unexpected determination, amazed the Imperial
faction. The Count of Champagne went to his sister's apartments, while
Bishop Manasés paced the room in great agitation.

"Cluny reconciled to Alexander!" he exclaimed; "the primate at the
Court and Louis more undecided than ever! All that is wanting to assure
our defeat, is an arrangement between the King and Henry of England. If
Alexander succeed, there will be nothing for us to do, but bow down and
submit to severe ecclesiastical penances. There is no time to lose. I
must act at once, and see that the news of the divorce of Henry the
Lion reaches the Pope's ear;--this repudiated princess must be sent to
Cluny. Alexander will be exasperated, and our nobles will learn what is
to be feared from the Pope's severity. The spirit of opposition once
aroused, court hatred will do the rest. Send my spy to me immediately!"
he cried, opening the door.

The order had scarcely been given, when Antonio appeared.

"I have not yet had time to reward your services. For the present, take
this;" and the Bishop handed Antonio a purse, which the latter put in
his pocket, with a smile.

"Thank you, my lord; can my limited intelligence be again useful to
your policy?"

"We shall see, Antonio; you promised to bring about Richenza's marriage
with this cousin of the Emperor, and so far I can see very slight
progress in the affair, although it appears that the young man is still
an inmate of her father's castle. If Louis were even to suspect this
project, it would be all over with the Count of Champagne, for the
alliance is inimical to the interests of France."

"I confess, my lord, that so far I have been unsuccessful. But it is
not my fault. The Count of Champagne himself----"

"You do not understand me; the Count desires to remain neutral; it is
your business to arrange it. Rechberg is already betrothed, you tell
me, and his future wife is in the neighborhood.--Come, Antonio, you
should be able by some clever piece of rascality, to destroy all their
projects; I trust that you will succeed."

Manasés paused, and then after making a few steps in the room,
resumed,--

"The Duchess Clemence is secretly staying at the castle."

"Yes."

"She must go to Cluny to-morrow; you will accompany her."

The order disconcerted Antonio, who had proposed visiting Hermengarde
on the ensuing day, in company with Pietro.

"I am ready to obey you, my lord," he replied, after a moment's
reflection.

"When you are at Cluny," continued Manasés, "keep your ears and eyes
open; let nothing escape you. Watch, above all, the prelates who
reside there, and see upon what terms Henry and Alexander appear to be.
Mingle with the servants of the house, for you must know every nook and
corner in it, and the vassals will suspect nothing."

"You will be satisfied with me, my lord."

"But, take care, the Italian roads are infested with banditti, and
Clemence cannot travel without an escort."

"You need have no apprehension on that score; the best sword in Germany
will accompany her."

"Who will it be?"

"Erwin of Rechberg."

"Very good; he will then leave the castle. But are you sure of him?"

"Perfectly. Rechberg is a valiant knight: if it be necessary, I will
tell him her name, and that will be sufficient for him to consider it a
duty not to leave her until she is at her journey's end."

"Antonio, be active, faithful, and discreet, and you will lose nothing.
Now go; invent some pretext to hasten your departure."

Antonio found the Duchess ready, but Erwin was not to be found; he had
gone, early in the morning, to the Imperial camp, and thither the spy
went to look for him.



                           _CHAPTER XXXVIII_.

                         _THE QUEEN OF FRANCE_.


The Count of Champagne had secured the cooperation of a more powerful
ally than the Bishop of Orleans. His sister Adèle, as we have already
stated, was Queen of France. The indecent haste with which this
marriage had been consummated--within a fortnight after the death of
Queen Constance--joined to the general absence of affection that he had
shown for his deceased wife, had excited the indignation of the people
against the King, while the new alliance had created for him many new
enemies, not the least formidable of whom was the King of England.

Adèle exercised an immense influence over her husband. She was a
relative of the Antipope Victor, whose cause she warmly espoused, and,
consequently, did all in her power to further an alliance between Louis
and Barbarossa. Pope Alexander, on the contrary, was odious to her, on
account of his opposition to her marriage, and his threats of
excommunication. After a long interview with her brother, she repaired
to the King's apartments. Louis was seated in a high-backed chair, his
head resting upon his hands, his eyes cast down, and his whole face
bearing an expression of anger and uneasiness.

"Adèle," said the monarch, perceiving his young wife, "since Alexander
is in France, I have not had an hour of repose."

This remark (à propos to the very subject which interested the Queen
most) gave Adèle the opportunity of exerting her influence for her
relatives, and to gratify her revenge towards Alexander; and she
said,--

"You have the power, Sire, to send the cause of your uneasiness out of
France."

"The wish certainly, but not the power."

"Are you then no longer master in your own kingdom?"

"Circumstances are stronger than my will. I cannot show myself hostile
to Alexander, without alienating from me the majority of the prelates.
Besides, he is our guest, and the supreme chief of Christendom."

"You cannot be forced to observe the laws of hospitality towards one
who has brought trouble under your roof."

"Oh, my dear!" said the King; "we are scarcely at that point yet."

"I know it; but matters are still in a very unfortunate position," said
Adèle, with an expression of discouragement. "If the support which you
give to Alexander satisfies the prelates, it displeases the great
vassals of the crown."--This observation was just.

"The Emperor at the head of a powerful army, is already on our
frontiers; Henry of England is mustering his troops in the North. Who,
except your vassals, can extricate France from her peril? Can Alexander
help you in any way against the dangers which you incur on his
account?"

"Honor and duty enjoin on our vassals to answer our summons; do you
think they would hesitate to obey?" said Louis.

"The situation is perhaps more critical than you imagine, Sire. If you
destroy the contract made with the Emperor, if you protect Alexander,
Barbarossa will cross the frontier at once. All will desert your cause,
even my brother."

She hid her face in her hands, and wept bitterly.

"What is that you say, Adèle?" exclaimed the King. "Is it, as we hope,
merely anxiety which makes you speak thus, or have you really any
knowledge of such treachery?"

"My dear husband, be prepared for the worst! Yes, the Count Henry of
Champagne and Troyes, the most powerful of your vassals, has promised
to go over to the Emperor, if you violate a single article of the
treaty which he signed."

"What do you say, madam?" cried Louis, angrily.

"He confessed it to me secretly. In spite of my prayers and my tears,
he has sworn to keep his oath."

"Ah! the villain, the caitiff!" he cried, pacing the room. "By Saint
Denis! we will arrest and imprison the traitor."

"It is too late, dear husband. The Count has left the Court."

"What! has the wretch retired to his castle?"

The last question was dictated less by anger than by anxiety.

"No; he has gone to the Court of the Emperor."

"Doubtless to receive there the price of his perfidy! Oh, the villain!"

"He has even intimated," continued Adèle, who was endeavoring to alarm
the King,--"that other vassals of the crown were inclined to follow his
example. 'We prefer,' said he to me, 'to bear allegiance to a free and
independent Emperor, than to obey a vassal of the Pope."

"Where do I stand?" cried Louis, sadly, and giving way to all the
indecision of his character; "rebellion against the throne, rebellion
against the Church, surrounded by traitors in my own palace!"

"The danger is near and threatening. But you have the power to ward off
the blow," said Adèle.

"I have the power: I? Has not your brother already left the Court? will
not the other traitors follow him? Will they not, perhaps to-morrow,
rise in rebellion against their sovereign? Oh! I perceive their
treasonable plan; it is skilfully organized."

"You exaggerate, Sire," hastily added the wily princess. "It is
possible that my brother may return to-morrow. In that case, you will
do well to dissemble your anger.--He must not suppose that you suspect
his hostile designs."

"My dearest friends, my own family rebel against me!" said Louis, with
emotion. "I see in it the finger of God. For years past, I have
trampled underfoot the commandments of the holy Church,--the wrath of
Heaven is let loose against me!"

"Do not despair," resumed Adèle; "seek rather to avoid the storm; but
lose no time, for events are urgent. Only observe the treaty which he
has signed in your name, and my brother will be faithful to you,
against all the world."

"But I have agreed to the interview, and yet the traitor has gone!"

"You refused to influence Alexander to appear before the council."

"Am I the Pope's sovereign? Is it my place to give orders to the Head
of the Church?"

"You can invite him, you can act on him by friendly representations; in
a word, you can fulfil the letter of the treaty without in any way
violating your conscientious scruples."

Adèle easily reassured her husband. The Archbishop Peter of Tarantasia,
a well-known prelate, whose reputation for sanctity extended beyond the
frontiers of France, was at that moment present at the Court, and it
was determined to select him as the most suitable person to influence
the Pope.

He was at once summoned to the royal presence, and soon afterwards made
his appearance. The calmness of the noble old man was in striking
contrast with Louis' emotion, and his whole person the most severe
rebuke to the prelates of the Court. The Archbishop wore a cassock of
coarse cloth, without embroidery, fastened at the waist with a belt.
His bald head had merely a crown of curly white hair, and his long
beard falling upon his breast gave him a venerable mien. Extreme age
and the practice of austerity, had bent his body, but his eyes still
glowed with a divine light, and his face was a happy mingling of
sweetness and Christian charity.

"Welcome, holy prelate!" cried Louis, advancing hastily to meet him.

He explained his situation, and continued,--

"And now tell me, father, am I not as wretched as King David when he
was pursued by Absalom? The Count of Champagne is my own wife's
brother."

"I have long known the crafty arts of the Imperial Court, and the skill
with which it has led away others in its train," replied Peter. "The
Count Henry has been tricked. He swore to execute a treaty whose
results he could not foresee. We must seek a way by which his oath to
Barbarossa may not be violated."

"Can you conceive of any other means of escape from this difficulty
than that of inviting the Pope to attend the council?"

"I perceive none other at present; I must reflect."

"But there is not a moment to be lost; who can tell whether my refusal
is not really what Frederic desired; if he will not gladly profit by
this opportunity of allying himself with Henry of England against
France? He is on our very frontiers, ready for the struggle."

"Unfortunately we must dread everything from one who persecutes the
Church."

"It is on this account, worthy prelate, that I implore you to go, as my
ambassador, to His Holiness; assure him of my respect, of my fidelity;
tell him that circumstances over which I have no control, and not my
own free will, have obliged me to invite him to the council."

"There is nothing in this invitation which can be blamed if it be
suitably presented," said the Archbishop, after a moment's reflection.
"There is no doubt of your Majesty's sentiments towards the Holy
Father, and I will gladly undertake to deliver your message.

"God be praised!" answered Louis, joyfully; "you have relieved my heart
of the heavy weight which oppressed it."

"Well," said the aged prelate, "inform the Emperor immediately, that,
in execution of the treaty, you have invited His Holiness to be present
at the council. I feel almost positive that Alexander cannot
consistently go there; but you have saved appearances; the Count of
Champagne will see that his promise has been complied with, and your
enemies will have no further pretext to seek your ruin."

"God speaks by your mouth, father, and I will follow your advice."

"I go to prepare for my journey; may God preserve your Majesty."

"Do not leave me thus; give me your blessing, father," said the King,
kneeling as he spoke.

The Archbishop, without manifesting the least emotion, raised his eyes
and hands to Heaven, prayed for a few moments in a low tone, then
stretching out his right hand, he said with a loud voice, "_Benedictio
Dei omnipotentis descendat super te et maneat semper_."

"_Amen_!" responded the King, who rose and accompanied the prelate to
the door of the apartment.



                            _CHAPTER XXXIX_.

                           _UNDER THE OAKS_.


On the day appointed for the interview between the two sovereigns,
Frederic ordered several magnificent tents to be pitched along the bank
of the river which was occupied by the German troops, while on the
French side, Louis and his suite merely sheltered themselves under a
clump of oak-trees.

The King wore a green hunting-dress, a plumed hat, and a short sword.
He had left the city under the pretext of hunting in a neighboring
forest; for he was anxious that the meeting should seem purely
accidental, at least, to the French people, who had a profound contempt
for the Antipope Victor, and were displeased with the alliance between
Louis VII. and the schismatic Barbarossa.

The annoyance caused him by this forced interview, was apparent on the
King's face, and his uneasiness increased as he gazed at the rows of
tents stretching far into the distance. Barbarossa, indeed, had come at
the head of a numerous army, in order the better to enforce his policy,
and all the princes of the Empire were ordered to rendezvous at Laon,
with their several contingents on a war-footing.

The King was accompanied by the Duke of Burgundy and the Counts of
Champagne and Nevers, the latter of whom was a bold and arrogant noble,
bitterly opposed to the papacy. A violent enemy of Alexander, he was
none the less so as regarded Victor, and if he favored an alliance
between Louis and the German Emperor, it was merely through a hope that
this would better enable him to enjoy the fruits of his robberies.

A little later the Primate of France, Peter of Tarantasia and Galdini
Sala, appeared near the bridge. The latter, since the fall of Milan,
had been residing at Alexander's court, and had now come with the
Archbishop of Tarantasia from Cluny, and had apparently been delegated
on some secret mission.

Louis breathed more freely as the time passed without any signs of
Barbarossa, for he began to hope that the Emperor would not come, and
the interview not take place.

"What think you, my lords?" he said. "His German Majesty seems to care
little for his promise. It is late now, and the hour fixed upon is long
since passed."

"Some unforeseen occurrence must have detained him," said Henry of
Champagne, who had observed his sovereign's secret satisfaction; "but
he cannot fail to be here soon."

"Would it not be well," remarked one of the nobles, "for your Majesty
to inform him of your arrival."

"No," answered Louis; "what use is there of this exchange of messages?
What is the King of France, after all? Perhaps the Emperor has already
forgotten this trifle."

"He has been detained by some state affairs," said the Count of Nevers.

"And I suppose, until these affairs are settled, the King of France
can wait. Very well indeed," replied Louis. "But we will wait no
longer--although there are some persons in France who desire our
humiliation, and perhaps even our dethronement!"

These words, intended for the Count of Champagne, were uttered with
some bitterness.

"Those men are nothing more than traitors!" said the Duke of Burgundy,
who was aware of the relations between Henry and the Emperor.

The Count scowled angrily at the speaker.

"I did not believe," added the King, "that in all France there was a
man base enough to sell his honor, even if there were any one capable
of paying him in false promises."

"The passions, and particularly covetousness," resumed the Duke,
"corrupt the heart and dispose it to the commission of evil deeds; but
it is positive that France does contain persons, who are ready to sell
their country."

"Are you perfectly assured of the existence of such persons?" asked
Champagne, who, with difficulty, restrained his anger.

"I have heard them spoken of," replied the Duke.

"A man of honor is cautious in accusing others."

"Each man knows whether or not he is a slave to Barbarossa," answered
the Burgundian. "I can only watch the traitors as long as they wear the
mask of loyalty; but if they ever venture to show their faces, they
shall pay dearly for their perfidy."

"Why this discussion, my lords?" said the Primate, who desired to
prevent a still more unfriendly retort from the King's brother-in-law.
"I am sure that, whenever France shall unfurl her _oriflamme_, Burgundy
and Champagne will fight side by side beneath its folds."

"I am always at the post to which my honor and my oath assign me!" said
the Count proudly.

"There can be no doubt on that point," added Louis; "you are united to
us by the double bond of vassalage and relationship."

The Count of Champagne made no reply; his pride forbade further
discussion. In ordinary circumstances, he would have mounted and ridden
away without a word of apology; but now he was obliged to yield, but he
did so with a firm resolution of revenging himself on the Burgundian
Duke, on the first favorable opportunity.

Louis appreciated the danger of a quarrel between his vassals, and he
hastened to change the subject.

"The hour has passed," he said, looking at the sun. "You, my lords, can
bear witness that it is not we who failed to appear."

"But the Emperor will certainly come; wait a little longer," urged the
Count Henry.

"No, Count; our self-respect forbids it, and I am tired of waiting.
Frederic shows clearly by his absence, that his consideration for your
sovereign is not excessive, and I am almost inclined to believe the
reports which attribute to him pretensions to supremacy over all the
princes of Christendom."

"As it may please you, Sire. However," continued Henry of Champagne,
"you may possibly regret the results of your too hasty departure."

"The results! What mean you?"

"The Count means to say," replied the Duke of Burgundy, "that the
enemies of France may profit by the opportunity to accuse you of
breaking your royal word, and to invade our frontiers."

"Let them come if they wish; we will meet them!"

Louis looked towards the German camp, and under the influence of
returning fears, was about to wait still longer, but the Duke opposed
him.

"You cannot, Sire, without compromising yourself. If the Emperor means
war, all your concessions will not prevent him from fixing a quarrel on
you."

"I commend France to the care of the Almighty," said the feeble
monarch; "but be kind enough, noble Duke, to ride over and salute the
Emperor in my name."

"Heaven preserve me from it! I never meet the enemies of France except
on the battle-field. It is at the head of my men-at-arms that I will
pay my respects to Barbarossa;" and the fiery soldier mounted his
charger.

"Since it is necessary, reverend father," said Louis to Peter of
Tarantasia, "that you bear the Pope's message to the Emperor, have the
kindness to explain to his Majesty that I have complied with all the
conditions agreed upon, and that I have waited beyond the hour
appointed."

"You may trust to me," said the pious Archbishop.

After another glance behind him, the King mounted, and rode with the
Duke of Burgundy towards Laon.

The Count of Champagne leaned with a gloomy air against a tree, and the
savage William of Nevers, smiling ironically, approached him.

"The Burgundian," he said, "speaks as though he meant to dispute
Barbarossa's claim to the Empire."

"You seem jovial, my lord," replied Henry.

"And why should I not be? The heroic soul of the Duke of Burgundy will
inspire the King. Our valiant sovereign will not keep his promise. As
Alexander will not come, Barbarossa will be obliged to bring Victor.
Ah! there is a worthy man for you; he thinks it no crime to rob a rich
convent! But, if Pope Alexander keeps his place, the devil! I will have
to do penance!"

Whilst the Count of Nevers was explaining the motives which attached
him to Frederic and Victor, the two ecclesiastics were conversing
privately.

"King Louis may be sincerely devoted to the Holy See," said Galdini
Sala; "but he will not go to war against Barbarossa. I have grave fears
for the Holy Father; he will be incarcerated in some lonely cloister,
and will stay there, strictly guarded, until his last hour. Meanwhile,
Victor, Frederic's devoted slave, will rule as the Emperor may dictate;
and the court prelates will follow his bidding, until the whole Church
falls into a deplorable condition."

"These fears are only human; but God's decrees are inscrutable, and
beyond the comprehension of mortal man," replied the Archbishop. "How
did Louis receive the news of the negotiations with the English King? I
know that your mission is to sound him on that subject. But here comes
the Emperor;" and he pointed to a cloud of dust in the distance.

The cavalcade advanced rapidly; the armor glittered in the sunlight.
Princely banners, and the sumptuous robes of the nobles, could be
distinguished; and at last the escort drew up before the tents.



                             _CHAPTER XL_.

                            _A TRUE BISHOP_.


Followed by Rinaldo and the French Counts, the Emperor entered his
tent, chafing angrily at the announcement that the King had gone.

"He imagines that he has acted royally," said Barbarossa; "is it not
ridiculous to think that peace is endangered, because one of us came to
the bridge a little later than the other? But how is it with the chief
article of the treaty? Will the Cardinal Roland be present at the
council?"

"The Archbishop of Tarantasia will give you every explanation on this
point, Sire," replied the Count of Champagne. "All that I know is, that
he refused the royal invitation."

"The invitation! What does this mean? Do you think that Roland can be
influenced by an invitation? You will be good enough to remember, my
Lord, that in our treaty, sworn to by you in the name of your King, it
was stipulated that Roland should be forced to appear before his
judges."

"Most certainly, Sire; and I will perform what I have promised; but I
cannot oblige the King to do as much."

"Still it is the only way to prevent him from violating his oath,"
added William of Nevers.

There was a pause, Frederic's brow darkened, and his eye cast a
threatening glance towards France.

"It is evident," he resumed, "that Louis hopes to deceive us, but we
will not permit it. The king of France will learn that no one can, with
impunity, baffle the plans of the mightiest nation of the earth!
Chosen, by the grace of God, to protect the Church, it is our duty to
establish order and even to punish kings! Count, you will freely
express to your sovereign our discontent.--We insist on his executing
every article of the treaty which he has sworn to.--Remember that you
have pledged yourself to bring the Cardinal Roland before the Council,
either with or without his consent. If the King of France desires, as
ardently as we do, to promote the peace and well-being of the Church,
he will spare neither entreaties nor threats to decide the French
bishops to take part in the Council. The non-observance of the most
insignificant clause, in a solemn treaty, will be looked upon by us as
a declaration of war. We will invade the country, and we will compel
the King not to leave the Church and his subjects in the hands of a few
bigoted fanatics. My lord Chancellor, order this message to be written
and sealed."

Dassel bowed and left the tent, well satisfied with his master's
energy.

"You will perfectly understand, my lords," said Barbarossa, suddenly
changing his tone, "that we receive the Archbishop as an envoy from the
King of France, and not as Roland's messenger."

The French nobles left, with Rinaldo, to be presented to the German
princes.

"What a mixture of weakness and bravado!" said the Emperor to himself.
"I shall regret a war, but, at any cost, France must cease to be the
protectress of the Pope."

His soliloquy was interrupted by the entrance of the Archbishop, whose
noble and saintly appearance produced a great impression upon the
monarch. Accustomed to see the prelates of his Court covered with
finery and sumptuous robes, he was surprised at the Archbishop's simple
and unpretending attire. Although well versed in the religious customs
of the day, and aware of the wide-spread reputation of Peter of
Tarantasia, Frederic was surprised at the inward emotion which he
experienced at their meeting. On the other hand, the prelate
appreciated the Emperor's position, and knew his hostile intentions
towards the Church,--but he gazed calmly upon him, as though he would
read his inmost thoughts.

"I am happy to be able to know you personally, worthy father," said
Barbarossa, as he invited the prelate to be seated. "I have heard so
much in your praise that I can only desire that all our prelates would
take you as their model. Allow me to say one word: I know that Roland
has refused our invitation. I should have been prepared for it; some
characters are emboldened rather than subdued by danger. Still I am
curious to learn the motives which have dictated his refusal."

"The motives were not invented by him, Sire. Our Holy Church teaches
that her chief cannot submit to any earthly tribunal."

"In this I recognize the Cardinal's pride!"

"The Holy Father implores you to persecute the Church no more; it
grieves him to see everywhere the laxity of morals, the universal
discord which has been produced by your fault. He complains, above all,
that you leave certain episcopal seats vacant, or else that you confer
them upon men who are under ecclesiastical censure."

"Naturally we do not choose Alexander's partisans for Bishops. This
would be only to warm the viper in our breast. But I am wrong in
excusing myself to one who is accused; it is contrary to reason. If we
were willing to apologize to Pope Alexander for all the insinuations
which he has made against us, our honor would not support the trial!"

Frederic spoke with much bitterness and rose to indicate that the
audience was at an end. The prelate remained quietly seated; he
understood Barbarossa's disposition perfectly, and he regretted to see
so influential a sovereign follow a course which could not but cause
great evils to Christendom. He deplored the fatal consequences which
were inevitable, and he endeavored to make them evident in terms the
novelty of which must have surprised the Emperor.

"Your Majesty is right in insisting upon the recognition of the
Imperial supremacy. But cannot the Holy Father solicit a similar favor;
that is, the acknowledgment of his spiritual independence?"

"Doubtless! We have no pretensions to interfere in any way with Papal
matters."

"Still, you do interfere with them in the most outrageous manner!
The vicar of Jesus Christ has scarcely place on earth to rest his
feet! Everything has become Imperial: we have Imperial bishops,
Imperial convents, Imperial abbots, and, in the schools, Imperial
instructions!--If that be just, what need is there for a Pope?"

This striking truth, uttered with perfect calmness, scarcely awakened a
memory in Frederic's soul.

"Your reasoning," he replied, "is false and unjust at the same time!
The whole earth belongs to the Pope, and he can cast his fisherman's
net where it may please him; we, the protector of the Church, will
certainly not hinder him."

"Yes, you will allow him to act so long as he is obedient to your
orders; but if the Pope should wish to be his own master, if he should
wish to reign independent of all human control, what would happen
then?"

"There is but one sovereign lord upon earth," said the Emperor,
proudly; "the laws are only the expression of his will, and all power
exists by it alone!"

"It may be so for earthly concerns; but for spiritual matters, God has
chosen another sovereign, the chief of religious unity, the supreme
shepherd of Christianity--the Pope!"

"The Emperor also belongs to the fold of the faithful," said Frederic,
quickly, "so that the Pope must be the Emperor's shepherd, his
spiritual father; am I not right?"

"Most certainly; God said to the first Pope, 'Feed my sheep;' he made
no exception to the Emperor."

"And yet the Roman Emperor bore the title of _pontifex maximus_! How do
you explain that, my lord Archbishop?"

"The Roman emperors were pagans."

"Be it so; I am and will be entirely a Roman emperor!"

"A pagan head on a Christian body!"

"No!" answered Barbarossa; "but go to Byzantium; examine the _Pandects_
of Justinian; you will see there that an alliance may exist between a
pagan on the throne and Christianity."

"You support yourself on Justinian? but what was Justinian's code? Was
it not the destruction of all liberty, the abrogation of every right of
humanity? Great God!" added the illustrious prelate, standing
sorrowfully before the Emperor, "what error! what peril! But the Pope
has not yet worn the yoke of slavery; the nations of the Christian
world will not permit it."

"Very well! But if, in case of disunion, the people leaned towards the
spiritual, it would be easy to lessen the Emperor's person, and
overthrow the tyrant."

"One moment, Sire; you give an incorrect interpretation to our meaning.
The father of the faithful ought to oppose all those who wish to
exercise tyranny and oppression. The Gospel delivered mankind from the
slavery imposed upon it by paganism. Believe me," added the old man, in
a prophetic tone, "the day that the Popes shall cease to protect
liberty, anarchy and revolution will convulse the world."

Barbarossa shook his head with an incredulous and discontented air.

"The Emperor of the East has no Pope," he replied, "and yet he reigns
peacefully."

"You are again in error, Sire! Mark attentively what is going on in
Byzantium. What do you see there? An exhausted and dying kingdom, a
weak and corrupt clergy, a host of ecclesiastics knowing no law but the
Imperial will; an effeminate people without morals, and puffed up with
vanity and servile ideas. Is this the state to which you would reduce
your brilliant Empire?"

"You exaggerate; matters are scarcely in so bad a state as that."

"Ah, Sire! they are in an infinitely worse condition. Great God! I see
it now; Salisbury was right!--I deplore it, but he was right."

"Salisbury!" said Barbarossa, starting, for he had a great respect for
this illustrious scholar. "May I ask in what he was right?"

Peter sighed deeply.

"Why do you hesitate, my lord Archbishop? You know the opinion which a
wise man entertains of our actions; why then do you seek to conceal it
from us?"

"Salisbury occasionally writes to me, Sire," said Peter, with an
embarrassed manner.

"Well, what has he written about us?"

"I received his letter a few days since," replied the prelate, drawing
a parchment from his bosom; "it contains a dissertation upon the
present condition of the Church, and particularly upon your designs.
But it tells me no more than your Majesty himself has just stated,
still I was unwilling to believe it."

"Speak!"

"You will it so; make up your mind then to listen to some bitter
truths.--

"Led astray by the principles of the Justinian Code, Frederic dreams of
the renewal of the brilliant Roman empire in its complete and most
deceitful form. Either he does not understand the great Christian
Empire, or it is insufficient to gratify his pride. He has less desire
to be the protector of the Church than to be her master. The Pope must
steer St. Peter's boat according to the Emperor's will; the bishops
must be nothing but abbots of the Empire, and religion must be
subordinate to the ends which the Government proposes. As he has
destroyed the free life of the Church, so does he subvert the liberties
of the people. Instead of preserving the ancient manners and customs of
his people as is his duty, his plan contemplates the reorganizing of
everything. If this Emperor ever succeeds in his designs, it will be by
the abolition of all independence. Still, what prince could be compared
with Frederic before he became a tyrant, and from a Catholic Emperor
degenerated into a schismatic?'"

Frederic heard this discourse with marked astonishment, and more than
once was on the point of interrupting; at last, at the word schismatic,
he colored with anger, and exclaimed,--

"Enough! the letter of this learned personage is full of exaggerations!
The name of schismatic cast in our teeth seems to be looked upon as an
excuse for everything.--Because Victor's humility seemed to us more
worthy of the Holy See than Roland's pride, we are called the destroyer
of Church liberty!"

"Pardon me, Sire, it is my duty to say a few words in reply," remarked
Peter. "You speak of Victor's humility, but Victor is, after all, your
creature; a plaything which your breath sends whither it will; a puppet
which you have chosen to obey all your caprices:--And should Victor be
the supreme Head of Christendom?"

Barbarossa was confused by such language. The old man's frankness, his
calmness and dignity, obliged him to listen. There was no animation in
his manner, but his clear voice sorrowfully expressed his feeling of
duty.

Barbarossa looked at him in silence.

"You will acknowledge, Sire, that the Pope must be free and independent
to discharge his ministry. What would become of an enslaved Church,
dependent upon the will of a temporal ruler? Great God! to what
baseness would she not be obliged to descend; what infamous enormities
would she not have to sanction, under the pretext of State policy! A
religion which acts in the interest of human passions instead
of opposing their indulgence, could not aid in the salvation of
souls--Everything would be subverted; sin would invade the whole world,
and would extinguish Christ's holy light, and with it all faith, all
desire, all power of good!--And this," concluded the prelate, with
energy, "this is the state of degradation to which you would reduce a
Church which has existed for a thousand years!"

The Archbishop had risen, and stood before the Emperor like a prophet
of old.

"It is well! enough of this; we understand independence, but within
certain limits."

"It is not independence, but duty which dictated my words, Sire! May
this appeal of an aged prelate, ready to appear at the judgment-seat of
God, not be lost upon you! It is more difficult to speak the truth to
princes than to conceal it. I have told you naught but the truth. May
Heaven in its mercy enlighten your Majesty!"

The Archbishop bowed, and left the room.

"By my faith!" cried Barbarossa; "there goes a worthy man; one not
often met with! His words might have turned from its determination a
spirit less decided than mine!"



                             _CHAPTER XLI_.

                          _A HARDENED SINNER_.


The Duke of Austria had scarcely dismounted, when he was informed that
Galdini Sala requested an audience. At the time of the siege of Milan,
Galdini's name had been so often mentioned that the Duke felt almost a
sentiment of pride at being thus brought into personal relations with
one who had exercised so weighty an influence over the besieged.
Consequently, he hastened to the tent where Sala was awaiting him.

The Archdeacon held in his hand a roll of parchment to which a seal was
attached. This was the usual form of correspondence between persons of
distinction. "With a low bow, Galdini presented the letters, but
scarcely had Henry opened the roll and glanced at the seal, when his
face assumed an expression of astonishment.

"What do I see? a letter from His Holiness! to me!" he cried. "There
must be a mistake here; this letter must be for the Emperor, or the
King of France!"

"It is addressed to Henry, Duke of Austria, and is highly important,"
said Galdini, respectfully.

The Duke cut the silken thread, and to the great surprise of the
prelate, read over the Latin brief; for his studies in the Convent of
Fulva had enabled him to do without a secretary.

"Clemence at the Papal Court! I thought she was in Germany! His
Holiness is enraged at this criminal act--_scelus et flagitium_; yes,
it is indeed a crime," said the Duke, continuing to read, and
accompanying the reading with his own commentaries. "The divorce is
declared null and void. The Lion is excommunicated and banished. By my
faith, these are the words of a true Pope! I must speak to the Duke on
the subject. I fear it will be labor in vain!"

"Your Highness will be faithful to the voice of the Holy Father,"
replied Sala. "Your Highness alone, among all the princes in the
Imperial camp, is worthy of the Pope's confidence, and he charges you
to protest against this sinful deed. It should be the Emperor's duty to
protect the unhappy Duchess, but Frederic is not opposed to the
divorce!"

"It is most true; it is a miserable measure of political expediency in
the interest of territorial aggrandizement," said Henry, warmly. "The
Emperor's villainous Chancellor has directed the whole business. My
cousin's daughter lived on the best possible terms with her husband,
before the interference of that felon. Ah! princes will not see to what
their ambition leads them, until the halter is around their necks."

"What has all this to do with the divorce?"

"You do not understand the plot," resumed Henry; "the repudiation of
Clemence must make trouble between Saxony and her relations; the union
of those two houses would have thwarted all Frederic's designs against
the liberties of the people, the clergy and the nobility."

"Frederic evidently seeks to assure his supremacy," said Galdini,
endeavoring to excite the Duke to a fuller confession.

"There is no doubt about it. Why does he not assign incumbents to the
vacant fiefs? He keeps them for himself. He owns already all the
territory from Rottemburg to Besançon. He sows discord among the
nobles, adds the fiefs to the crown, and has organized in the Church an
army of corrupt Bishops! Tell me, is not that one way of assuring his
Imperial supremacy?"

"It seems so to me."

"That is not all. The Empire is to be divided according to the old
Eastern system. One of my followers, who was with Barbarossa during the
last crusade, has heard him express his admiration for the Byzantine
Empire. Barbarossa needs a capital, another Constantinople, and he has
already made his selection. It is Mayence! Wait until he returns to
Germany, and you will see whether this city be not deprived of all her
liberties, as a punishment for Arnold's murder, and if he does not make
her his capital!"

"But why do you aid him with your troops?"

"Because I am alone in my way of thinking! Besides, I have already
spoken frankly to the Emperor, and he is well aware that I will not
further his guilty projects. I have spoken frankly to you, that you may
repeat my words to the Holy Father. Alexander must not yield; he is the
only protector of right and liberty!--I am going to fulfil your
message, and that, too, in your presence."

The Duke raised the curtain, and left the tent; a moment afterwards he
returned with the Saxon prince.

"This is a messenger from His Holiness, Pope Alexander III.," said the
Austrian; "he has given me this letter."

And he began to read it off in German.

"This is perfectly useless," said the Lion; "neither you, my dear Duke,
nor Alexander, are called upon for an opinion; the sentence has been
pronounced; the affair is concluded."

"The sentence has been pronounced, and by whom?"

"By Pope Victor, the legitimate chief of Christendom."

"Is it Henry the Lion who speaks thus?" said the Duke of Austria, with
more dissatisfaction than surprise. "No one ever despised Victor more
than you have done! Who has ever called him the Imperial puppet as
often as you? and yet, to-day, he is for you the chief of Christendom!"

"The last reasons are often the best!"

"Because you need some excuse to justify your misdeeds!"

"Misdeeds? Duke, what does this mean!" said the Lion, with an air of
menace.

"Must I then call evil good, and good evil? No, Duke of Saxony, not
yet; not even in Frederic's camp! Do not misunderstand my frankness,
Henry; your divorce is a wrong, a crying injustice, a stain upon your
name."

"Your interference in my private affairs is insulting to me, my lord!"
said the Lion, sullenly.

"Is not Clemence my relative?"

"Too distant to warrant such excessive interest."

"The duty of every knight is to defend the rights of helpless woman,"
replied the Austrian. "Besides, I am fulfilling the Pope's mission. He
has excommunicated you; is that of no moment?"

"Very well! your message has been delivered; the rest is my own
business."

"What! You will put yourself in opposition to the whole Church, you
will endanger your own soul, while you violate the rights of chivalry?"

"Enough of this; spare me these superfluous representations. At my own
formal request, the Holy Father has annulled my marriage; neither you,
nor any one, even Alexander, can make me reverse my decision."

As he spoke he turned his back upon the Duke, and hastily left the
tent.

"You see there a fair instance of the respect paid to one's conscience,
and the sanctity of marriage, in the Imperial court," said the Duke,
sadly. "Frederic set the first example of a divorce, and he will find
scores of imitators."

"Alas!" Galdini exclaimed.

"I am uneasy for Clemence's safety. The fate of the unfortunate Empress
Adelaide is still unknown; she has disappeared, and Clemence too might
be spirited away, if I did not prevent it. I will go to-day, and
solicit from the French King a strong escort to conduct her to her
relatives. The unfortunate princess will travel through Lorraine and
Bavaria to Austria under the protection of my troops. She will there be
able to end in peace her blighted existence; for, even should Henry
return to kinder sentiments, she can scarcely look for much happiness
in her husband's society."

Galdini Sala thanked the Duke, and they separated after the latter had
repeated his assurance of unalterable fidelity to Pope Alexander.

"Recommend me, my house, and my country to the blessing of His
Holiness--and comfort poor Clemence."

Whilst the archdeacon was on his way to the tent where the nobles were
assembled, Barbarossa was taking leave of the Count of Champagne, and
their parting was so affectionately cordial that Sala was astonished.

"I will soon make a visit to that beautiful castle of yours, of which
my cousin appears so fond," said Frederic to the Count, as he was
mounting on his horse.

"I thank your Majesty for the honor you will then favor me with," said
the Count, bowing respectfully and dashing off, followed by his
retinue.

Without a moment's loss of time, the Count of Champagne returned to his
castle, and Nevers presented the Imperial despatch to the King.

The same evening Manasés and Champagne held a long and secret
interview. The Emperor's letter had greatly embarrassed Louis, for
Rinaldo had rather exaggerated Frederic's warlike language, so that it
differed little from a formal declaration of war. The King paced
uneasily in his room, cursing the Emperor, the Count of Champagne, and
the obstinacy of the Pope. At last he seemed to have made up his mind,
and sent for the Chancellor Manasés, Alexander's most bitter enemy.

"This is my opinion," said the latter, after a perusal of the
communication; "if you continue to support Roland, war is inevitable;
besides, I have learned from another source, that an alliance is about
to be concluded between Frederic and the English King. We consequently
are in danger of being attacked on both sides at once."

The King's anxiety increased.

"We have fulfilled the duties of a Christian," he said. "I have
defended the Pope as far as I am able. No one can compel me to subject
my kingdom to all the horrors of a merciless war."

The wily courtier expected this conclusion, and it was decided to send
a message, couched in very emphatic language, to the Holy Father at
Cluny.

The Chancellor recommended that it should be intrusted to a partisan of
Alexander, and the Archbishop of Tarantasia was selected. It is
probable that some other choice had been made by Manasés and the Count
of Champagne; for when the prelate arrived at Court, on the next day,
the Count announced boldly to the King that Peter neither would nor
could bear the despatch.

"Have I then no longer a right to choose my own ambassadors?" asked
Louis. "What have you against the Archbishop?"

"This holy man cannot suit you, Sire," he replied. "He will kiss
Alexander's hand and will address him, with every mark of respect, a
request which ought to be communicated as an order. The Pope will be
under a false impression; he will refuse to come, and war will break
out. Rather send a man in armor with a strong escort, that he may, if
needs be, enforce the execution of your orders."

"Employ violence!" exclaimed the King.

"Why are you astonished, Sire? gentle measures have been tried without
result, there is nothing left but compulsion."

"It would be an unheard of crime to drag the Chief of Christendom,
against his will, before a tribunal composed exclusively of his
enemies!" said Louis. "I will not permit it!"

"Very well; but in that case, the Count Henry of Troyes and Champagne
will keep his oath."

"One moment, Count, for the love of God! Do not be so hasty, cried the
terrified prince. I know your unfortunate oath, but you have scarcely
reflected that it would be treason!"

"My oath is an oath even when pledged to an enemy; and yet, Sire, you
would make me a perjurer and a felon? Either you will send a proper
message to Alexander, or I will go over to the Emperor."

"Since your Majesty cannot resist the Count's arguments," interrupted
Manasés, "would it not be well to intrust him with this mission? The
situation is delicate; it is necessary not to render it still more
dangerous."

After a moment's hesitation, the King consented.

"Go, in God's name," he said; "but I adjure you, on your conscience,
respect the Pope, respect the Chief of Christendom."



                            _CHAPTER XLII_.

                         _THE ABBEY OF CLUNY_.


The Abbey of Cluny belonged to the most illustrious of the religious
orders, and controlled two thousand convents distributed throughout
Christendom and Palestine. It was not only a pious sanctuary, but also
a school, the renown of which extended beyond the seas. Unlike the
monks of the other orders who were chiefly engaged in agriculture and
field labors, the peaceful denizens of Cluny were entirely devoted to
study and the pursuit of science, and attached a greater value to their
manuscripts than to any material treasures. Many were constantly
occupied in transcribing the works of the Fathers of the Church, and
even those of the pagan writers of antiquity. The volumes intended for
the church service were richly illuminated in order to be more worthy
to appear upon the altar. The Church itself was enriched with pictures,
sculpture, and works of art. The dormitories, the halls, and the
refectory were filled with masterpieces, and resembled a vast museum
destined to defend the fine arts against the ravages of time.

The cathedral, which was the largest in the world, was a marvel of
Roman architecture, and everything in it so magnificent, that Saint
Bernard could not resist expressing his discontent.

"What use is there of this amazing height, this immense width and
endless length, of these sumptuous ornaments, which attract the gaze of
the faithful, but distract their attention?" he wrote to Peter, the
venerable Abbot of Cluny. "Why all these candelabras studded with
precious stones, these costly paintings and works of art? Is it through
honor to the Saints that you walk over their images and spit upon those
of the Holy Angels? Why these sublime representations on a pavement
which must be covered with dust?"

In the opinion of the austere monk of Citeaux, the study after the
beautiful was far inferior to that of godliness, and he imagined that
the former injured the latter. The most liberal hospitality was
lavished in the abbey on all travellers of every rank; women only were
excluded; and precise rules specified the manner of the reception of
strangers according to their rank and quality. At different times Cluny
had entertained Pope Innocent IV., twelve Cardinals, with their entire
suite, two patriarchs, three Archbishops, and eleven Bishops, and the
King of France, with his mother, brother, sister, and the whole court;
the Emperor of Constantinople, the heirs-apparent to the crowns of
Castile and Aragon, and several Dukes with their knights and retinues.
Still the good monks continued to live in rigorous asceticism; and
their liberality to others often reduced them to extremities of
privation. They watched over the poor of the neighborhood, and each
week the pious brothers sought out the sick and wretched, to administer
succor and consolation. On one occasion, during a famine, the Abbot
Odilon sold the church ornaments, even to a crown, which had been
presented to the monastery by the Emperor Henry II., in order to
relieve the wants of the suffering members of Jesus Christ.

Although hospitality was considered an obligation by all the cloisters
of the Catholic world, Rechberg was surprised at the scale on which it
was dispensed at Cluny; and the presence of the Pope increased the
concourse of travellers. Each day came and went messengers to and from
all parts of the world; and Erwin heard on all sides a perfect Babel of
the most different tongues. Pilgrims were arriving from Greece and
Spain, from Muscovy, England, and Arabia, to prostrate themselves
before the Apostolic throne. The Roman Empire alone was not represented
at Cluny, through fear of the powerful displeasure of the Emperor
Barbarossa.

Rechberg admired the learning, the energy, and the grave dignity of the
monks, and never before had he experienced so deeply the influence of
Catholicity. The Pope appeared to him to be the heart of Christendom,
uniting the two extremities; for Frederic's authority was as nothing
compared with that of the Holy Father. When he contrasted the Emperor's
creature, the false Pope Victor, with the venerable Pontiff, the Head
of the Church, he smiled with pity and contempt.

"My godfather will be obliged to subdue the universe," he said to
himself, "if he wishes to make the Holy Pope his vassal."

Erwin had resided in Cluny for about a fortnight; the novelty at first
amused him, but Antonio's words constantly recurred to his memory, and
although full of anxiety to ascertain their truth, a sentiment of duty
retained him at the abbey;--he could not desert the unfortunate
Clemence.

One day, upon leaving the princess, now more resigned and collected,
since she had ascertained with what paternal interest she was looked
upon by Alexander, Rechberg was met by the lay brother, a worthy man,
who hitherto had done him the honors of the monastery.

"Are you already at liberty, brother Severinus?" asked the Count. "I
scarcely thought it was yet time for vespers."

"The good fathers are about going to the choir, and we will take
advantage of their absence; you would lose a great deal, Count, if you
were to leave us without seeing the pictures in the refectory."

"I don't doubt it; let us go there now." As they were crossing the
court-yard, where crowds of strangers were walking beneath the shade of
the oak-trees, Rechberg suddenly perceived a man whose face appeared
familiar; he had seen him at Castellamare where he had been pointed out
by Hermengarde. It was Nigri's servant, Cocco Griffi, and our hero
stood still, watching his movements and hoping for an opportunity to
address him.

"There is no want of curiosities here," said brother Severinus,
remarking his guest's astonishment, "for we have every variety of
costume and language. Look at that Arab with his bright eyes and white
teeth; he and the grave and haughty Castilian by his side are envoys
from the King of Navarre." Just then Erwin lost sight of Cocco Griffi.

"Our painters often come here," resumed the monk, "to study faces and
details of which I know nothing; I saw the other day in one of the
artist's cells a representation of the devil, which was the living
image of a Moor who had been here;--I will show it to you."

Rechberg had not been mistaken. Cocco Grim, in company with a monk,
entered a two-storied house where persons of the middle class were
lodged. The monk mounted on the steps to examine the red marks traced
upon the wall, and then, turning towards Cocco,--

"It is here that Antonio lives," he said, "if you want him."

Griffi went in. The spy was waiting, and at first looked up as though
not well satisfied with the interruption; but as soon as he recognized
his visitor, he rose and went forward, cordially.

"Cocco! is that you? What good wind brings you here?"

"A miracle, my dear Antonio; when you know it you will be surprised,
and, it may be, somewhat provoked."

"I will wager that your master has been doing something absurd; is not
that the case?"

"Yes, you have guessed it. My master and the lady of Castellamare are
on their way to Cluny; I was sent ahead to announce to you this
masterpiece of diplomacy."

Antonio looked at Griffi with amazement, and then broke out, angrily.

"This is a beautiful piece of business, indeed! That ass never had any
brains! He will spoil everything! The young girl will come here; she
will meet the Count, and all my plans will be thwarted. What
imprudence! I suppose he has told her that Rechberg is here with the
Duchess, and that on his return he is to marry Richenza; is that it?

"Yes, all but the marriage."

"That's it; he concealed the only thing which he ought to have told."

"Oh, he talked of nothing but Erwin and Richenza, Richenza and Erwin."

"Well, what then?"

"Then! oh, Hermengarde asserted that she was under a vow to make a
pilgrimage to Cluny, and that she would no longer delay it."

"The pretext was a good one,"

"Then my master offered to accompany the young person."

"And she refused?"

"Two or three times, but Pietro insisted. They will be here to-morrow
at the latest, and my master promises to conduct the affair to your
entire satisfaction. You may count upon his gratitude."

Antonio smiled as he heard the last words, for he knew that Pietro
possessed immense wealth in Lombardy.

"The affair has miscarried," he said to himself, pacing the room. "But
Hermengarde cannot lodge in the cloister; she must stay in the village,
and as Cluny opens its gates but once a week to women, it will be a
mere chance if she and Rechberg meet."

He turned towards Griffi. "Where are you living?" he asked. "Near the
gate; one of the windows overlooks the street."

"Be on the lookout, and let me know as soon as they arrive."



                            _CHAPTER XLIII_.

                           _IN THE CLOISTER_.


Meanwhile Rechberg had reached the gate of the cloister; it was opened
at once, and, with his companion, he entered a small courtyard.

"It is too soon yet," said the porter, when the monk had informed him
of the object of their visit; "but you can wait here."

They stepped forward towards a low wall, festooned with creepers, which
shut off the garden, exclusively reserved for the brotherhood. Erwin
could see and admire their grave and dignified deportment, and remarked
their difference from the German monks, who were usually occupied in
out-door pursuits; whereas at Cluny they passed their lives in the
practice of interior virtues, and the advancement of science.

At this moment two lay brothers approached the wall, talking with an
earnestness which indicated the importance of their subject. They spoke
gravely and in measured tones, although Rechberg could not understand a
single word of their conversation, he imagined that it was probably a
discussion of some intricate problem of philosophy.

"What language is that?" he asked.

"Greek, Count," replied Severinus, in a low voice; "every known
language is spoken in our community; Latin and Greek, and Arabic and
Hebrew; they are perfectly familiar with all of them, and with
more still. I like to hear them talk Hebrew, it is such a strange
dialect,--so guttural, that it seems uttered rather by the throat than
by the tongue. I doubt, whether the Franks could articulate a single
syllable of it; but I think you will have a chance to judge for
yourself during our walk. Ah! here come two of your artists!--The very
ones of all whom I prefer, for they have heart and a soul; whereas some
learned men have nothing but intellect Look, how they argue. Let us go
a little nearer; I will wager that their discussion turns upon Homer,
Pindar, Apollo, or Horace."

Erwin listened.

"You deny then all value to pagan sciences, brother Odilon?"

"By no means. I simply remarked that religious faith was the true
domain of true science. The pagans had their own belief, and
consequently their own school of art; but a Christian's art is as far
superior to a pagan's as Christianity is to paganism."

"Do you think that our poetry is better than that of Horace?"

"Yes, inasmuch ours celebrates truth; his, only pagan errors. But,
brother Colomban, in all that relates to style, the pagans are our
masters, for Christian poetry is still in its infancy."

"We have admired together the statues lately received from Rome; do you
think we are capable of doing anything as perfect?"

"We must make a distinction here," replied Odilon. "The pagans attained
a rare perfection of form; but is the body the only, the real object of
art? No; the sculptor must give a spirituality to his work! The most
skilful pagan would never have been able to chisel out the pure image
of the Holy Virgin."

"I think I understand your meaning," said Colomban.

"It is the same with poetry. The fountain head of all sublimity, the
source of the beautiful is God; the nearer the poet approaches that,
the more truly artistic he becomes, and, in proportion as his ideas
diverge from the Divinity, so much farther is he from perfection."

The two monks disappeared at a turn of the path.

"Well, what think you? are not those men true lights of the faith?"
asked Severinus. "They have great privileges, they can go to Rome and
further, too, if they wish, and sometimes are excused from attendance
in the choir."

At this moment the bell rang; all conversation was immediately
suspended, and each monk took his place with a regularity which
surprised the young German, who could almost fancy that he was looking
at a well disciplined troop of soldiers, as they defiled before him in
stately procession.

The solemn strains of the organ were heard, and the chants began.

"Now, let us make good use of our time," said Severinus, hurrying
forward. "Let us see the refectory first; it is only a refectory, it is
true, but its equal does not exist in France or Germany."

They entered the hall, near the door of which was a large crucifix
artistically sculptured. At the upper end of the room was the Abbot's
chair placed so as to overlook everything, and his table, to which the
chief dignitaries of the monastery were often invited, stood upon a
raised platform. Long oaken tables, with richly carved supports, were
ranged methodically, and covered with a white cloth, at which, as
Severinus assured the Count, more than four hundred guests could be
seated; for Cluny counted at that time four hundred and eighty monks,
many of whom lived as hermits in the neighboring forest.

On one side stood a single table covered with black cloth.

"The _pulmenta defunctorum_ are served there," replied Severinus, to
Rechberg's curiosity. "This, is the place of the pious Duke of
Aquitain, the protector of our convent; that, is for his saintly wife
Ingeburge."

And so he went on enumerating the eighteen places.

"But all those of whom you speak are dead," said Erwin. "What is the
use of spreading a banquet every day, of which they cannot partake."

The monk looked at Erwin with astonishment.

"Do you not remember," he said, "that the Archangel Raphael assured the
young Tobias, that it was better to give alms than to build up pyramids
of gold and silver? It is for this that every day the deceased
benefactors of Cluny feed the poor. Do you not believe that the
blessings which they receive in Heaven are worth more than precious
stones?" Rechberg was too fervent a Catholic to doubt of the
correctness of this view of the subject; it was a praiseworthy and
pious custom.

His attention was directed to the pictures on the walls; many of them,
such as the hunt of Saint Eustace, and the fight between Saint George
and the Dragon, he recognized at once; but there were others so strange
in all their details, that he was obliged to ask for explanations.

On their way from the refectory to the artist's apartments, as they
crossed a long gallery, Rechberg stopped before a bronze statue, which
attracted his admiration.

"It is the image of our late Superior, Peter the Venerable," said
Severinus, very respectfully. "It was cast about two years since, and
those who knew him during his lifetime, affirm that the likeness is
striking. We will have it made in silver one of these days, when our
convent is richer."

The galleries were filled with statues of saints and holy men, in wood
and stone; some of recent date, others of ancient workmanship; so that
it would have been easy to trace, step by step, the progress of the
art. But the Count was little versed in such matters, and what was
more, he could not forget Cocco Griffi.

"My lord Count, you must visit the library, even if it is only for a
moment," said the monk, opening the door. A score of desks were
arranged in a half-circle around one of larger size, which Rechberg
perceived, at once, was a masterpiece of sculpture. This work of art
was ornamented with arabesques, and with flowers, birds, and animals of
every description; upon it was a book in Greek characters.

"They write the books here," said Severinus; "the reader is seated at
the upper desks, with the copyists in front and around him. You can
judge for yourself, (and he offered the manuscripts to Rechberg,) if
they know their business. And our fathers attend to everything! We have
twenty copies of the Holy Scriptures. Nearly all the works of the early
Fathers, and many of those written by pagan authors and priests are to
be found in our library. Every year some of the order go through France
and England, and even as far as Greece, in search of rare manuscripts,
of which four copies are immediately made."

After leaving the cloister, and crossing a vacant yard, they came to a
house with large windows. The rooms were filled with evidences of the
sculptor's art; figures and images of all sorts were standing there on
pedestals.

"Is not that a splendid angel's head?" said Severinus; "the features
are so sweet and delicate, and the folds of the robe so natural! And
that Holy Virgin! how beautiful and gracious she appears! I do not
think it possible to give more life to a work of stone."

But Rechberg was thinking of something else, and sympathized very
little with the artistic enthusiasm of his companion.

"It is a pity that we cannot go in," said Severinus, pointing to a
placard on which was written, _Porta clausa_. "The door is closed and
the painter is at work; but it is a great loss, Count."

"I cannot see everything in one day," replied Erwin, who was delighted.

"You would be obliged to stay at Cluny for months if you would do
justice to everything. The church alone, with all its pictures, and
portraits, and mosaics, would require a long examination."

"Whose dwelling is this?" asked Erwin, as they passed before a handsome
house.

"The Holy Father lives there. May God protect him! His enemies give him
no rest. He was forced to fly from Italy, and with difficulty can
obtain an asylum in France."

"With difficulty? Are the French, partisans of Pope Victor?"

"God preserve us from it!" said Severinus; "but we fear the fierce
Barbarossa, who has taken it into his head that Victor must be Pope,
whether or no!"

Erwin smiled at the dread which his godfather inspired,

"This Barbarossa is a cruel man, and they tell dreadful stories about
him," continued the monk. "It appears that he wants to be Pope and
Emperor at the same time, and this desire is unchristian. He is now on
the frontier with a mighty army, in order to force the king of France
to give up the Pope. Woe to us if this merciless sovereign comes here!
He will destroy our convent as he destroyed Milan."

"You have too bad an idea of the Emperor," said Rechberg; "why should
he cherish evil designs against your abbey? Is it because you show
hospitality to Alexander? I assure you that the Emperor is too
chivalrous to inflict a punishment for the accomplishment of a duty."

He spoke so warmly that Severinus almost regretted his frankness.

"I have never yet seen the Pope," continued Erwin. "Do you think it
possible?"

"It is difficult," was the reply. "The Holy Father takes but a few
moments' repose each day, when he comes to this garden. From morning
till night he works or receives visits and ambassadors or letters from
every part of the world. We are often compelled to refuse admittance to
persons of distinction."

As they reached the door which led to the enclosure reserved to the
brotherhood. Severinus drew a key from his girdle and took leave of
Erwin, who thanked him warmly, regretting that he would accept of no
gratuity for his trouble.

"Do not insist, Count," he said; "gold or silver would be useless to
me. The best reward for a monk is that which results from a
consciousness that he has done his duty."

Rechberg immediately proceeded to look for Antonio, for Cocco Griffi's
face had haunted him ever since they had met, and he began to imagine
that there must be some connection between Pietro's servant and the
fears which he entertained about the fate of Hermengarde.



                            _CHAPTER XLIV_.

                         _POPE ALEXANDER III_.


Two noblemen were on their way towards the modest dwelling of the Holy
Father: they were the Archbishop Peter of Tarantasia and Count
Dietrich, the envoy of the primate of France. Peter had been in Cluny
for the last two days. The message had been calmly received, but the
form did not deceive His Holiness for a moment as to its true import.
Alexander guessed everything; he knew that Louis would not dare to
resist Frederic, and that Peter had brought him not an invitation, but
an order. On the other hand, Count Dietrich conveyed to the Pope the
assurance of the entire and perfect devotion to him of the Archbishop
of Rheims.

As soon as the Primate had discovered the intentions of his royal
brother, and the orders given by him to the Count of Champagne, he
hastened to his presence, with the hope of effecting a change of
policy. But either through fear of Barbarossa's violence, or influenced
by the demands of his own vassals, Louis, instead of listening to his
brother's arguments and representations, broke out into bitter
accusations against the Pope. Convinced of the fruitlessness of his
attempts, the Primate at once dispatched Count Dietrich to Cluny, to
inform the Pontiff of the danger with which he was threatened.

They were received, upon their arrival, by a steward who showed them to
a room in the upper story, where they found the celebrated founder of
Notre Dame, the Archbishop Maurice of Paris, and three cardinals. While
the chamberlain repaired to Alexander's private apartment, the news was
communicated to the prelates, who were thunder-struck.

Alexander was standing before a desk covered with parchment, which he
was examining attentively; dictating at the same time to a deacon who
took down his words, for the Pope possessed the rare talent of being
able to do several things at once.

The Pontiff's exterior indicated the energy of his mind, and his strong
physical constitution enabled him to support the fatigues which the
cares of the Church rendered necessary. His features were strongly
marked and displayed great firmness tempered by benevolence. His eye
was calm and decided; a gracious smile was playing around his mouth;
but his brow was furrowed by the afflictions he had experienced. He had
been formerly a professor in the University of Bologna and shone, by
his great attainments, in all branches of learning. Although the
untiring champion of the rights and liberties of the Church, he was
personally humble and modest. He hated no one, not even Barbarossa, his
successful and implacable adversary.

Alexander's costume was of the most simple description: a long white
garment reached to his feet; above he wore a short red tunic, with full
sleeves, the dalmatica of that age: from his shoulders a white woollen
pallium, with a black cross, folded over on his breast, whence it hung
almost to the ground, after the manner of the ancient stole. On his
finger the Pontiff wore the pastoral ring, and his head was covered
with a round mitre ornamented with a number of small crosses.

As soon as he had been informed of the arrival of the French envoy, he
left his work and repaired to the hall of audience, where Count
Dietrich and the cardinals were in waiting.

All knelt at the entrance of the Head of Christendom, who advanced
towards the Count and extended to him his hand which the latter kissed
reverently, and then took his seat with the cardinals, on chairs placed
in a semicircle around the Papal throne.

"Most Holy Father," he said, "your devoted son, Henry, Archbishop of
Rheims and Primate of France, has sent me to give warning of the danger
which threatens your personal safety. A short time after the departure
of the Archbishop of Tarantasia, a partisan of the Emperor, the Count
Henry of Champagne presented himself before the king, and so alarmed
him that His Majesty has promised to abandon your holy cause in order
to avoid the danger of a quarrel with Barbarossa. The Count of
Champagne, uniting his forces with those of William of Nevers, the
Bishop of Orleans, and other enemies of your Holiness, is now marching
towards Cluny, with the intention of arresting your Holiness, and
giving you over to Barbarossa. My revered lord has sent me to you, now
to advise, that you avoid this captivity by seeking refuge on English
soil."

During this speech the features of the cardinals indicated their
consternation, but the Pope never lost his coolness for one instant,
although his face gave signs of the pain he inwardly experienced.

"I thank you, Count," said the Pontiff, calmly. "Be so kind as to
assure our worthy son, the primate of France, of our paternal and
sincere affection; but we cannot follow his advice. We shall remain
here, although we may be led into captivity, if such be the design of
God. It is not the first time that the head of the Church has been
forced to yield to violence. If God in his infinite wisdom; and in the
interest of His holy name, judges me worthy to suffer even death
itself, let His will be done."

"Permit me, Holy Father," said the cardinal, John of Naples; "your
resolution does not appear to me to be prudent. As soon as you have
fallen into the power of the tyrant, your enemies will drag you before
the council and throw you into a dungeon. Octavian, who styles himself
Victor, would then rule in the name and according to the wishes of the
Emperor, while the successor of St. Peter would be in a prison. Avoid
this peril and the whole Catholic world will rise to resist the
schismatical Emperor and his bishops. Did not St. Paul fly from danger
in order to be able to spread more widely the divine word?"

"Worthy brother," replied the Pope, "in this particular we have been
long a zealous disciple of St. Paul; we have fled from Rome, we have
fled from Genoa. Where, hereafter, could we hope to avoid the
inveterate pursuit of Barbarossa?"

"The Greek Emperor Manuel," replied John of Naples, "has, on several
occasions, offered you men and money to defend Rome and drive the
Germans from Italy!--Your Holiness cannot be ignorant of the fact that
Venice and other powerful cities will give strenuous aid to this
enterprise."

"But, my lord Cardinal, what conditions did Manuel exact in return,"
said Alexander.

"He demands the guaranty of the Imperial crown to him and his
successors. Now, as this crown belongs to the Pope, he can dispose of
it as he pleases."

"Very true!" said Alexander; "but, in that case, would we not seem to
deprive the German princes of their rights in order to gratify our own
personal spite? The wisdom of our predecessors has for ages placed the
crown on German princes, and should we from purely personal motives
presume to abrogate the acts of their wisdom? No, my lord Cardinal! may
God preserve, keep, and enlighten the Emperor Frederic."

"Perhaps it would be well," said the Cardinal William of Pavia, "to
request aid from the English king. His Camp is only ten miles from
here, and a simple request from your Holiness will be sufficient to
have his troops put at your orders."

This proposal awakened the Pope's astonishment; his irritated glance
was fixed upon the Cardinal.

"We take refuge at the English Court!--we trust to a man who has
violated the bonds of matrimony, and whose cruelty never hesitates in
shedding innocent blood!--We put ourself in the power of one who
acknowledges no laws, who has nothing of human in his constitution, who
tramples underfoot divine and ecclesiastical laws and precepts!--But we
should be in a position still more degraded than that which poor Victor
occupies with the Emperor."

The Cardinal had nothing to reply to this and bent his head in silence.

"Perhaps Spain is the only country in which your Holiness can find an
asylum?" said Maurice of Pavia.

But Alexander interrupted him at once.

"Spain!---oh! poor Spain," said the Pope sadly. "You have not yet
learned, my dear brothers, the news which reached me yesterday. The
Moors have mustered all their forces; they have summoned from the
deserts of Africa their countless hordes of savage bandits, who will
throw themselves upon Spain like the sands of the desert. And to
think," continued the Pope, "that the Emperor, instead of fighting
against the Crescent, encourages the enemies of our holy religion by
his own impious struggles against the Apostolic See. My brethren, these
are bitter trials!--May God preserve the faithful from persecution,
prison, and death!--May Christendom be not divided by schism!--May we
remain at the helm to guide our bark through the troubled sea."

He was silent and with bent head forgot his own situation in reflecting
on that of the Church. On their part, the prelates remained speechless
with emotion.

At last Alexander raised his head, and his look was calm though
dejected, as he declared his unalterable determination not to seek to
escape by flight from the danger which now threatened him.

"You will be good enough, Cardinal," he said to William of Pavia, "to
take care that all the archbishops, bishops, and prelates whom we have
admitted to the reception of the royal envoy be invited to the reunion.
Our intention is, perhaps for the last time, to speak openly in order
to defend the rights and the liberties of the Church."

He rose as a signal that the audience was at an end. All who were
present knelt piously, received the Pontiff's blessing, and bowing
respectfully, left the room.

"Oh, my Lord and my God!" said Alexander to himself, as he sought the
little oratory in which he usually said mass.

He knelt devoutly before the altar, where a golden dove contained the
Body of his Redeemer. The vicar of Christ had come to implore the aid
of his divine Master. He prayed long and fervently; his features by
turns assumed the expression of grief, consolation, and resignation;
and when the rays of the setting sun shone through the red windows of
the chapel, they shed a halo of glory around the head of the still
kneeling Pope.



                             _CHAPTER XLV_.

                         _A KNAVE'S STRATAGEM_.


"In any case," thought Erwin, "Antonio must be aware of Griffi's
presence at Cluny."

He sent his faithful Gero to the Italian quarter to look for Antonio,
but he was not there. "He usually walks in the public square among the
strangers," said the squire; "but I don't know where he has hidden
himself to-day."

The day passed without any further result, but the next morning Antonio
was announced. The Count received him coldly.

"We can go to Laon at last, my lord Count. Henry the Lion persists in
his designs, even at the risk of being put under the ban of the Empire;
and the Duke of Austria has sent a strong escort to accompany the
Duchess to her home. It was a prudent measure; for the poor lady would
have fared badly if her husband had thought proper to use violence."

"Where did you receive these details?"

"From an old acquaintance who met the Pope's envoy, Galdini Sala, at
the camp."

"Have you no other news?"

"None."

"Did not Pietro Nigri's servant pay you a visit?"

Antonio started, but recovered himself promptly.

"Yes, Cocco Griffi came to see me; but I did not intend to speak of a
visit which was not a pleasant one for your Lordship."

"Speak freely; you have nothing to fear."

"I know that, but I dislike to wound those whom I esteem. Pietro Nigri
has sent to request me to meet him on a matter of great importance; for
you must know that we are intimate friends; this ought to suffice you."

"Not at all. Why this invitation, and what is this important business?"

"The accomplishment of a great design."

"Which has reference to Hermengarde?"

"Since you mention her name, I will confess that it has. But compose
yourself; nothing is lost yet; as we return to Laon to-morrow, we shall
have time enough to see your betrothed and remind her of her promises."

Erwin grew pale and red by turns, and then became very serious. Turning
his back upon the Italian, he walked towards the window to reflect.

"May I ask," inquired Antonio, after a brief pause, "whether you will
leave to-morrow?"

"Leave! and what for?" answered Rechberg, dreamily. "Ah! well,--yes,
to-morrow."

And he left Antonio, who soon after might have been seen upon the road
leading from Cluny to the neighboring village. Accustomed to pick up
information from every source, he approached a man who was going in the
same direction as himself.

"Do you know," said the stranger, "that they wish to capture the person
of His Holiness? The Count of Champagne is on his way with a strong
party of knights and varlets to seize and give him up to the Emperor,
who will put him to death."

"That is a very likely story, my good man!"

"You think it is an invention of mine, do you?--But I tell you that I
saw him and his daughter Richenza in the village last night."

"With his daughter?" repeated the Italian, looking with stupid
amazement at the stranger.

"Yes, with his daughter and a troop of his retainers; but I swear that
they shall not give the Pope up to Barbarossa. The people will rise in
his defence."

Without listening further to the conversation of the old man, Antonio
began to reflect over the fact of Richenza's presence at Cluny. It
seemed so strange, so unlikely, that he could attribute it only to the
designs of the Emperor to enforce the marriage with his cousin, as soon
as possible.

When he arrived at the village, Pietro hailed him from a window, and on
his entrance received him with every demonstration of friendship.

"Let me recover a little, my dear Pietro; it is all so extraordinary,
that my ideas are somewhat confused."

"What is the matter with you?"

Antonio made no answer.

"Are you mad, Antonio?--Look me in the face! Come!"

"I am undone! I cannot repair what you have compromised. And why did
you tell Hermengarde that Erwin was at Cluny? Your mistake has spoiled
everything."

"Enough, Antonio, enough! I know that I have made a mistake; why then
do you take pleasure in increasing my regrets for it."

"Let me console you, Pietro; the Count of Champagne is expected every
moment."

"What matters that to me?"

"His daughter Richenza is with him; I foresee that the Emperor has
designs on young Rechberg."

"Something may be made out of this circumstance," said Pietro.

"Do you think so? your eyes are at last opened to the light? You begin
to understand now why I was anxious? My plans have failed! It was
necessary for Erwin to leave to-morrow to avoid meeting Hermengarde;
but now he must remain!"

"What have you decided to do?"

"Ask me no questions, but do as I bid, for I have no confidence in you,
friend Pietro; did you speak of me to Hermengarde?"

"No; she only knows that a friend of mine, named Antonio, came here
with me."

"Very well! present me at once, for there is no time to be lost."

They entered a room where two of the retainers were seated at a
chess-board. Their armor hung upon the wall, and their lances stood in
a corner.

"Ubaldo, ask the waiting-woman if your mistress will receive my
friend?" said Pietro to one of the soldiers.

In a few moments the soldier returned with an affirmative reply.

They then proceeded to a sumptuously furnished apartment, where
Hermengarde was awaiting them. She rose as they entered, and greeted
Antonio with a friendly smile. As she resumed her seat, Hedwige placed
two chairs for the visitors.

"This is my friend Antonio, noble lady," said Pietro; "he accompanied
Count Rechberg to Cluny, and I had the good fortune to meet him in the
street."

"I am happy, my lord Pietro, to receive your friend. But what business
has brought Count Rechberg here?"

"He came with the Duchess of Saxony, who, divorced and banished by her
husband, has sought the Pope's protection.--It was a duty he owed to
chivalry," the Italian added, "and the more meritorious that Rechberg
travelled without, or rather against the consent of the Emperor."

"I hope that his generosity will not put him in disfavor with
Barbarossa?"

"I am unable to say anything positive on this point; but I imagine that
Frederic will endeavor to preserve the friendship of one who is about
to be allied to one of the most powerful houses of France."

Hermengarde started.

"From what Rechberg tells me," continued Antonio, "the Count of
Champagne is expected with his daughter to-day. It is possible that the
young Count will retire with the Countess to her father's estates."

"Can I not see the Count, Antonio?" asked Hermengarde; "he saved my
father's life, and we are under great obligations to him."

"It appears to me rather difficult, noble lady. Women are admitted
within the convent only once a week, and I doubt that the Count will
tarry here long; still, if you so desire, I will inform him of your
wishes."

"I beg you to do so, sir, and as soon as possible."

"I am entirely at your orders, noble lady. But if I mistake not, here
comes the Count of Champagne."

The blast of a trumpet and the clatter of horses, resounded in the
street. The Count and a numerous retinue was passing along the road,
and at a few paces in his rear, Richenza was riding along in a showy
costume.

Hermengarde stood motionless, as though her strength was about to fail
her, but, with a violent effort, she recovered herself, and dismissed
her visitors.

"Be kind enough to remember my request, knight," she said to Antonio;
"perhaps you can bring me the Count's answer this evening?"

"I repeat, madam, that I am entirely at your command," replied the
Italian, bowing himself out of the room.

"I say, my friend, you don't mean to tell him anything, do you?" said
Nigri to the other.

"What are you thinking about? I will tell her tomorrow, that the Count
will neither come to her, nor receive her visit. We shall see then what
will happen. It is a capital joke after all, to lead people about by
the nose in this way! But we must be prepared for everything; suppose
that Hermengarde meets the German?"

"Then I will put an end to the joke with a single blow!" said Pietro,
sullenly.

"Well, that is your lookout, not mine. Expect me here to-morrow," said
Antonio.



                            _CHAPTER XLVI_.

                             _THE SERMON_.


Stephen, prior of Cluny, entered the Pope's chamber; the Abbot Hugo had
been deposed the same day by the Chapter, on account of his
schismatical tendencies, and the prior had just been informed that the
Count of Champagne had placed guards at all the doors of the cloister.

"The Count is much interested in our affairs," said Alexander. "You
perceive how faithful he is to his master; why then should we be less
so to ours? Is every thing ready for the council?"

"Your orders have been executed, Holy Father."

"I will administer the holy sacrament, and then receive the Count of
Champagne. Is there anything else, my son?" asked the Pope, seeing that
Stephen still waited with a restless and uneasy expression on his
features.

"Holy Father, are you then decided to allow yourself to be made
prisoner by these impious men?" asked the good prior, with an emotion
which touched his hearer. "All the doors are guarded, but you can get
out in the disguise of a monk and escape! I have prepared everything."

"Stephen," answered the Pope, in a tone of reproach, "you have been
busy about many things, when there was but one important;" then, with a
milder voice, he continued: "The hour is at hand, my son; take care
that everything be ready."

"The hour is at hand!" repeated the prior as he withdrew; "our blessed
Redeemer said those words when they came to lay hands on him. Woe is
me! Cluny has become a Mount of Olives, and the Holy Father will leave
it to go to prison, and perhaps to death."

As has already been observed, the church of Cluny was the largest in
the world. The roof was supported by gigantic columns, measuring eight
feet each in circumference; the whole building was ornamented with
pictures and sculpture; a magnificent mosaic pavement covered the floor
of the choir, and the walls were hung with invaluable works of art,
representing the life of Jesus Christ and the Saints, and scenes from
the Old Testament. Gold and silver candlesticks stood upon the altar,
and in front hung a chandelier of four branches, wrought in solid
silver, with lanterns studded with precious stones.

As soon as Stephen had ascertained that Alexander's orders had been
carried out, he proceeded to the cloister, where the Count of Champagne
and thirty men-at-arms had just entered.

Without vouchsafing a glance at the works of art around them, these
advanced boldly into the very house of God, and drew up in line before
the pulpit at the entrance to the chancel. With helmets on, clothed in
complete mail, and their swords drawn, they resembled the horde of
barbarians who had come to pursue Christ in the holy temple of God.

The moment fixed upon by Alexander was approaching. The door of the
sacristy opened, and the procession entered the chancel. At the head
walked the monks and lay brothers, robed in white; then came the
abbots, bishops, and cardinals, in rich costumes, wearing the mitre,
and with cross in hand; last of all, the Pope, in red vestments, and
all the pomp of solemn ceremony.

"Red! the color of the holy martyrs," thought Stephen, as he remarked
the color which had been selected by the Pontiff; "and there are the
executioners!" he added, looking at the soldiers. The holy sacrifice
began. The Pope, entirely absorbed in his devotions, thought of nothing
which was going on around him. The prelates were kneeling upon scarlet
cushions; the monks and lay brothers upon the pavement.

As soon as the office was terminated, and without laying aside his
pontifical robes, the Pope entered the chancel and ascended his throne,
around which were seated the cardinals, bishops, and abbots. The monks
stood in line waiting, with anxious faces, for the end. About three
paces in front stood a table, covered with parchments, at which two
clerks were seated, in order to copy the proceedings. The men-at-arms,
led by Henry of Champagne and the fierce Count of Nevers, advanced
boldly towards the Pontiff.

"Sir Pope," said Henry, "we have been sent to invite you, in the name
of our sovereign lord and king, to appear before an ecclesiastical
council, which is to meet at an early day in Besançon. We can take no
excuse, as your refusal might plunge France and Germany into a bloody
war. Our king has pledged himself by oath that you will be present at
the assembly, and he means to keep his word. You must, then, accept the
invitation graciously, if you do not wish to compel us to resort to
violence."

This harangue, so devoid of all courtesy, excited the openly expressed
disapproval of the audience.

"Count of Champagne!" exclaimed the pious but impetuous Maurice,
Archbishop of Paris; "you not only act contrary to all custom, but you
are also wanting in the respect which you owe to the Head of the
Church. How can you dare to address such words to the Vicar of Christ
in the very temple of God? Would you have us to suppose that the great
vassals of the French crown surpass in irreligion the slaves of the
schismatic Barbarossa?"

Maurice would have continued, but Alexander III. interfered.

"My lord Count," he said, "it is not obstinacy, but duty, which
dictates our refusal to this invitation. We will certainly repair to
Besançon, but not as a culprit. Who convoked the assembly? Men who are
forgetful of their duties, and almost without exception under the ban
of ecclesiastical censure. We cannot submit our cause to any earthly
tribunal, least of all to one acting only under the orders of the
Emperor. Frederic has violated all laws, human and divine, in placing
the Council above the Pope, and the Emperor above the Council. We
rebuke this injustice, and we are ready, in the discharge of our duty,
to suffer every torture, and even death itself."

Alexander paused, and then rose from his seat with an expression of
such majesty upon his features that even Count William himself was
impressed.

The Vicar of Jesus Christ resumed, with a calm, dignified energy which
carried conviction to the minds of all.

"My dear brethren," he said, turning towards the prelates, "it is most
probable that we are about to be again called to tread the road on
which our Lord and Saviour has preceded us, and in which many of our
predecessors have followed Him to martyrdom! Yes, the way of the Cross
alone leads to victory, and to a better world! You have long known the
drift of the Emperor's designs. Misled by the false glitter of Pagan
Imperialism, Frederic aims at ruling over both Church and State. The
Head of Christendom is for him a mere instrument of his own will, and
our holy religion only a means of attaining his ends. We are amazed
that such ideas should have taken possession of a prince whom God has
gifted with so many noble qualities. You are aware, my brethren, that
the Emperor has nominated to all the vacant Sees of his Empire, men who
are unworthy of such positions, without either the learning which is
indispensable, or the spirit of piety which should animate the
shepherds of God's flock. And yet the Apostle has said, 'For a bishop
must be without crime, not proud, not subject to anger, not given to
wine, no striker, nor greedy of filthy lucre; but given to hospitality,
gentle, sober, just, holy, continent.' And yet, he would make the
bishops nothing but the Emperor's slaves! We feel grievously afflicted
at the sight of such grave misconduct. What misfortunes are they not
preparing for the Church! The ecclesiastical spirit is less and less
valued every day; the liberty of the Church no longer exists except in
name, and her property is at the mercy of impious hands. But in the
midst of this deluge of injustice, the Holy See has been established,
by divine Providence, like the rock of order, against which storms and
tempests will spend their fury in vain. So, we solemnly announce to
you, in the name of God, that the Cardinal Octavian, falsely styled
Pope Victor, is excommunicated and put under the ban of ecclesiastical
censure. We declare, in advance, all the proceedings and resolutions of
the Council of Besançon to be null and void. If, until to-day, we have
refrained from launching the thunders of the Church against the scourge
of Christendom, it is because our Lord Jesus Christ has taught us to
pardon. And, although the time for speaking has come at last, we still
pardon the Emperor for all the misery and pain which he has caused us.
You will repeat this discourse, my brethren, in the pulpits of all your
parishes, and you will circulate it, by every possible means, in order
that the Christian world may not be misled into error. As regards
ourselves, we pray God ceaselessly, that he may prevent the success of
the enemies of the Holy Church; may He protect her with His mighty arm!
May he lead to repentance and contrition the souls which have strayed
from her fold!"

"_Amen_, _amen_!" repeated the prelates.

"_Amen_, _amen_!" said the witnesses.

And the crowd throughout the Church exclaimed, "_Amen_!"

The Count of Champagne stood amazed. Thoroughly convinced of the
justice of Alexander's claims, ambition alone had united him to the
Imperial faction, and he had been impressed by the discourse of the
Holy Father; for it seemed to him as though God himself had spoken.

"Holy Father," he said, "I appreciate your reasoning and the resolution
with which you wish to discharge the sacred duties of your ministry.
But my personal opinions have naught to do with the execution of the
order which is intrusted to me. I await then, Holy Father, until it may
please you to notify me of the hour which you have fixed for your
departure for Laon."



                            _CHAPTER XLVII_.

                              _THE DUEL_.


Richenza's arrival at Cluny surprised Erwin; but she manifested so
sincere a sympathy with the misfortunes of the Duchess Clemence, that
he related to her all the details of the outrage. The influential
position of the Count of Champagne permitted him to lodge in the
dependencies of the cloister, and his apartments opened upon an immense
garden ornamented with flowers, groves, and shady walks.

Richenza and her retinue had just entered the garden, followed at a
distance by brother Severinus; and Erwin, after leaving the table, went
thither to join the party. Antonio, who was constantly on the watch
over Rechberg's movements, at once left the cloister and hurriedly
proceeded to the village, where Hermengarde was awaiting his return
with feverish anxiety. At last he came, and entered the lady's presence
with an air of supreme indifference.

"Your absence has been long, Antonio; was it not possible for you to
give my message yesterday?"

"Noble lady, Rechberg remained quite late with the Count of Champagne
and the other nobles. He rose late this morning, and I was unable to
give him your message until a few moments since, as he was going to the
garden with the Countess Richenza. The time was ill-chosen."

"Well! what was his answer?"

"'Hermengarde here?' he said, with surprise. 'Come to see her!--you
say. I am very sorry; but it is no longer possible----'"

"Go on, Antonio, and tell the truth!" said she. "Is he in the garden?"

"Precisely; now, as the garden is close to the road near the mountain,
you can see for yourself."

"Yes, and that is what I mean to do," replied Hermengarde, who seemed
to have all at once regained her courage. "Wait for one moment,
gentlemen; I will be back again soon;" and she left the room.

"You have done a stupid thing," said Pietro. "If she succeeds in
entering the garden----"

"Pshaw! she cannot get over a ten-foot wall."

"And if Rechberg were to perceive her?"

"He! his eyes are not clear enough to see so far."

Hermengarde returned in a few minutes, and at once set out, followed by
the two Italians and her nurse Hedwige.

In a short time they were on the road which overlooked the garden.
Antonio led the way to an elevation, from which they could see all the
adjoining country, and the young girl followed, without heeding the
words which the spy still continued to address to her. Suddenly she
paused, and then, before her companions could interfere, ran towards a
little gate in the cloister-wall.

As soon as Antonio perceived her intention, and that the door was open,
he sprang towards her.

"For the love of God!" he cried, "where are you going? Your entrance
into the convent may have disastrous results!"

She turned her head a little, glanced at Antonio, and disappeared.
Hedwige and Pietro followed, but the other remained behind.

"That door open!--unlucky mishap!" he said; "all is lost! The best
thing for me to do is to run away, and escape the Count's anger;" and
he hastily left the place.

A narrow path wound through several clumps of bushes, and terminated at
a conservatory surrounded by vines. Hermengarde stopped here. At about
a hundred yards in front, Richenza and the young nobleman were walking
together, in earnest conversation. Brother Severinus stood near the
door, reading his breviary.

"The Duchess of Saxony is a noble woman," said Richenza; "and what did
she say of her husband's disloyal conduct?"

"Galdini Sala was obliged to repeat three times the Duke's words:
'Clemence ceased to be my wife by the Pope's decree, and with my
consent. No one, not even Alexander, can change my determination.' At
first the Duchess seemed thunderstruck. She repeated only, 'With his
consent!' in a tone which I cannot describe. It seemed at first as
though her heart would break, and then her eyes flashed with anger. The
Duke of Saxony had lost all claim to her affection. 'My lord Count,'
she said to me, 'accept my thanks for all the trouble I have given
you;' and taking a rich jewel, 'Accept this,' she said, 'it is the only
way in which the repudiated Duchess can show her gratitude.' Then she
went to see His Holiness, and this morning left Cluny, escorted by some
of the Austrian men-at-arms."

"How noble! how truly great! but, alas! how unfortunate!" said
Richenza, with emotion.

"Now that the Duchess has gone," said Erwin, "and the object of my
journey is accomplished, I can return to Laon, where I have business of
great importance."

"It can be put off a little longer, and we will go there together,"
urged Richenza.

"I regret that it is impossible; but everything is prepared, and I must
leave Cluny to-day. Allow me, noble lady, to bid you farewell."

He was interrupted by a piercing shriek.

"Erwin! my Erwin!" cried a voice from the conservatory.

The Count approached. In the dim light he saw a group of three persons,
one of whom lay fainting on the ground. He had recognized the voice,
but he could scarcely believe that Hermengarde was there. But it was
she, and Rechberg knelt in astonishment beside his lady-love, from
whose face all signs of life had disappeared. Suddenly the Count was
seized, and thrust violently away.

"Back! wretch," cried Pietro, whose anger broke out at the sight of his
rival. "Back! you have no longer the right to tend her, German savage."

Rechberg gazed first at the Lombard and then at the fainting girl.

Nigri again pushed him away.

"If you dare to approach her again, I will plunge my sword into your
breast." And Pietro, sword in hand, placed himself between the Count
and the lady.

"Who are you, who dare to separate me from my affianced wife?" cried
Rechberg.

"Draw and defend yourself," said the Italian furiously.

"Here, in her presence? No, sir!" replied the Count. "Put up your
sword; elsewhere I will chastise you as you deserve."

"You shall not escape me thus! Villain, defend yourself!" said Pietro.

And his sword's point grazed Erwin's breast.

"Hold!" cried the Count. "Would you dare to assassinate me?"

"I will take your life.--If you will not defend it," said Nigri,
striking Rechberg, as he spoke, with the flat of his sword. Scarcely
had the Count felt the blow, when his sword, quick as lightning,
flashed from the scabbard, and the fight began. Hermengarde still lay
upon the ground, her head upon Hedwige's knee. During the progress of
the duel, she opened her eyes and called her lover's name, but Erwin
saw and heard nothing except his antagonist who had slightly wounded
him. Suddenly, he saw his opportunity, and with a rapid thrust
stretched Pietro lifeless on the ground. Just then the chamberlain.
rushed forward to prevent the combat, but it was too late, and as he
saw the bloody corpse,--

"Woe to us!" he cried, "a murder has been committed within the
cloister-walls. Wretch, what have you done?"

But Rechberg paid no attention to the question; he wished to approach
the young girl, who was seated with her nurse upon a neighboring bench,
but she motioned him away.

"I was present during the whole affair," said brother Severinus, who
endeavored to apologize for the Count. "I saw it all, worthy father;
the Count would have gone elsewhere, but this unhappy man, whose soul
is before his God, tried to kill him; he was obliged to defend
himself."

"That certainly diminishes the enormity of the offence," replied the
chamberlain, "but a crime has been committed within the cloister, and
it is to be judged here at Cluny. Follow me, Count."

"At once," said Rechberg. "Noble lady," he added, turning to Richenza,
"I regret sincerely, that my violence has caused your young lady of
honor to faint. I trust that she will be cared for until I have
established my innocence and can offer my excuses in person. Richenza
understood the hint; for, except as an attendant of the Countess,
Hermengarde would have been obliged to leave the cloister immediately.

"It was scarcely necessary to ask me to take care of my young friend,"
she said; "it is only my duty."

She gave the necessary orders for her to be conveyed to her own
apartments, and Erwin with one last look at Hermengarde, followed the
chamberlain.

On the ensuing day, the judges met, but the testimony of Severinus, and
the favorable reputation which Erwin bore as Clemence's champion,
procured his acquittal. Still the court was at a loss to understand the
motives of the Count's quarrel with the Italian. The judges withdrew
into an adjoining room, whence, after a short deliberation, they
returned.

"My son," said the president, "the law absolves you on the ground of
legitimate self-defence. God alone, to whom the secrets of all hearts
are known, can pronounce whether your act was free from all earthly
passion. Still, in the interest of your own soul, we advise you, as a
penance, to make a pilgrimage to the Holy Land, where in defence of our
Redeemer's tomb you can purge your sword of the stain left on it by the
blood of Pietro Nigri."

The Count expressed his thanks and proceeded at once to Richenza's
apartments, where he expected to find Hermengarde.

To his great surprise he was informed that the Count of Champagne, with
all his retinue, had started at an early hour for Laon, and that the
young Italian had returned to the neighboring village.

He repaired there at once, and on his entrance to the inn was received
by Hedwige, who informed him that her mistress was quite unwell, and
had not yet left her chamber.

"But I will tell her," she said, "that you are here."

Erwin paced the room until the servant announced that her lady would
receive him.

"Great heavens!" said Hedwige, "how she has suffered! I have always
maintained that you would not be false to your plighted word, and that
in spite of Richenza's relationship to the king of France, she could
not make you forget your betrothed."

"I cannot understand you, Hedwige. How could you entertain such an
idea?"

"Pietro assured us that you wanted to marry Richenza, and Antonio
confirmed his story. Besides, you stayed for several days in her
father's castle and refused to receive us, and then Richenza came to
Cluny with you."

"Now I understand it all," said Erwin; "ah! the wretched knave!"

The door opened, and Hermengarde entered. She was dressed simply in
white, with a blue sash around her waist.

"Pardon me, dearest," said the Count, tenderly; "pardon me for all I
have made you suffer." But Hermengarde was already assured of Erwin's
innocence before he had even spoken.

"Count," she replied, "you need make no excuses; only tell me why I did
not see you yesterday?"

"I had no idea that you were at Cluny."

"Then Antonio did not carry you my message?"

"Most certainly not! You seem surprised, Hermengarde; but you do not
know all. That villain Antonio was in a plot to separate us, and his
measures were skilfully taken."

"Fortune sometimes favors the wicked," said the noble girl. "But was
the arrival of Richenza merely the result of chance?"

"It may have been a part of the plot! I intended to return to Laon, and
was taking my leave, when--"

He suddenly paused, for the recollection of the scene in the garden
seemed painfully depicted on Hermengarde's features. She sat down and
gazed silently at her lover, whose attentions to the young Countess she
had fancied meant more than was called for by the mere requirements of
chivalrous courtesy. But it was impossible to cherish a suspicion of
Erwin's loyalty after his frank and honest explanations.

"Ah! Erwin," she said; "but that murder, that fearful crime!"

"You could not have wished me to allow myself to be assassinated?"

"No, oh! no. But after the combat I saw how your sword was covered with
blood; I seem to see even now his wild glance and the blood streaming
from the ghastly wound." And she hid her face in her hands as if to
shut out the horrid vision.

"Wretch that I am," said Erwin, "to have caused you this fright! But
console yourself, dearest; with time, the painful impression will fade
away. Would you make me regret having been the victor? The pious monks
have pronounced me innocent; will you be more severe than they? Tell
me, dearest Hermengarde; I will abide by your decree, however rigorous
it may be."

"I know you are guiltless, Erwin,--and yet this blood seems to rise up
between us: it is a childish feeling, I know, but I cannot overcome
it."

The Count stood in pensive silence, for the monks even in his acquittal
had uttered doubts of his complete innocence. And indeed, if he had
gone directly to Laon, instead of waiting for Antonio, Pietro would not
have met his death in the gardens of Cluny. His remorse was poignant.

"The pious monks," he said, "have counselled me to make a pilgrimage to
Palestine, to the sepulchre of our blessed Redeemer. It is for you,
Hermengarde, to decide whether I shall submit to this penance."

This singular question was entirely consistent with the manners of the
times. Hermengarde reflected for a moment.

"To-morrow," she said, "after having invoked together, the aid of Mary,
the Mother of Sorrows, you shall know my decision."



                           _CHAPTER XLVIII_.

                        _THE TRIUMPH OF FORCE_.


The unexpected departure of the Count of Champagne excited general
surprise, and even Alexander himself was at a loss to account for the
motive. It was said that a horseman had arrived during the night,
urgently inquiring for the Count; but none could say whence he came, or
of what tidings he was the bearer; all that was known was, that after
the receipt of some important despatches, the Count had gone away in
great haste. He scarcely gave breathing-time to his horses, but pressed
on so rapidly, that, after six days' travel, he arrived at his castle
near Laon, on the Seventh of September, the date which had been fixed
upon for another interview between the Emperor and the King of France.

Louis, who had experienced much alarm as long as he was in sight of the
German army, appeared to wish anxiously for this meeting. At least he
had ordered tents, for himself and the court, to be pitched in the
vicinity of the bridge over the Saône.

About nine o'clock Louis arrived, but Barbarossa had not yet appeared.
Rinaldo, with a number of prelates and nobles, seemed astonished at the
punctuality of the King, whom he found more affable than at the
audience in Laon.

"The Emperor can scarcely question my pacific intentions now," said
Louis; "the Count of Champagne has discretionary powers to bring the
Pope, even should violence be necessary. I am punctual to a minute at
the rendezvous which has been appointed by your master. What more can I
do, to avoid the accusation of treachery or double-dealing?"

The Chancellor was embarrassed for an answer.

"The Emperor admits your good intentions, Sire," he answered. "With his
aid, you will soon be freed from an evil which distracts France and
torments the Church. There is no doubt whatever that the Fathers of the
council will refuse to Cardinal Roland, wrongly styled Alexander, all
right to the pontifical throne."

"I cannot take it upon myself to decide upon which side is the right,"
answered Louis.

Before Rinaldo could answer, a loud noise was heard, and a body of
armed men were seen advancing. A horseman, covered with dust, spurred
to the front, glanced around the royal group, and perceiving the king,
bowed respectfully and solicited a private audience. The monarch
entered his tent, and through the canvas walls could be heard the voice
of the stranger, interrupted after a few sentences by Louis, who
exclaimed,--

"_Deo gratias_!--God be thanked for this fortunate result!"

Rinaldo was astonished, but while he was reflecting upon the possible
meaning of what had just happened, they came out. The King's face
beamed with satisfaction, and without noticing the Chancellor's
anxiety, he gave charge of his guest to a nobleman of his suite, with
instructions to treat him with every possible courtesy, and then
turning to Rinaldo, resumed their former conversation.

"We have but one point to regulate, my lord Chancellor, and that is the
pressure which the Emperor means to bring to bear upon the council. The
Fathers ought to be entirely unbiassed, and their votes must not be
influenced either by the force of arms or by worldly considerations."

"His Majesty," said Dassel, "will employ both argument and force to
re-establish order in the Church."

"Doubtless, according to his own ideas. But there is no guaranty that
these ideas are exempt from all selfish considerations! The Emperor is
Alexander's personal enemy; think you that he would recognize his
rights to the throne of Saint Peter?"

"These questions are insulting, Sire!--Frederic is too just by nature,
to be guilty of an injustice.--And you ask for guaranties of the purity
of his intentions? To whom would you make the Emperor responsible? On
whom does he depend?"

"He is responsible to the laws of nations, which he has repeatedly
violated in many different ways, my lord."

"This reproach has often been made by interested persons; I am
surprised, Sire, that you would repeat it."

"And we are surprised!" said Louis, proudly, "that you, Count, do not
feel the importance of this reproach! Besides, in the Assembly of
Besançon, there will be present both temporal princes and unconsecrated
bishops.--Who has conferred on laymen the right of voting in purely
ecclesiastical questions, and particularly on questions of this
importance?"

"The Emperor!" replied Dassel, promptly. "If his Imperial Majesty sees
fit to sanction an exception to a rule, this very exception becomes by
the consequence of his high and mighty authority, the rule and the law.
And more, if the chief of the Roman Empire, who is, at the same time,
the chief of all the princes of Christendom, thinks it expedient to
grant a vote upon this question to foreign princes, he has a right to
all their gratitude."

"Very good, my lord! and we are then the Emperor's vassals? This is a
new phase!--Our bishops will be delighted with the lesson you set
them!--Gentlemen," he added, "are you not somewhat surprised to hear
such a doctrine preached?"

Rinaldo answered boldly, and some bitter words were interchanged; at
last he lost patience.

"We have no need, in any way, of French bishops to put an end to
schism!" he cried. "When a discussion on the subject of a bishopric
arises among you, you put an end to the difficulty yourselves: why
should not the Emperor have the same right? Rome belongs to him."

The French courtiers heard these words, with surprise. Dassel's
opinions were in opposition to all received notions, and to the canons
of the Church. The King profited by the statesman's mistake.

"I am astonished," he said, "that so cautious a man as yourself should
advance such extraordinary assertions. We have the right to choose our
bishops after a previous understanding with the Holy See. But no bishop
of my kingdom is chief of Christendom; your argument is consequently
invalid. You say that the Emperor and his bishops alone have the right
to choose the Pope. Did not Christ confide to Saint Peter and his
successors all his flock? Were my bishops and myself excepted? Is the
Pope only your shepherd, and not mine?"

This language astonished Rinaldo, who was nevertheless forced to admit
its truth; but all efforts to explain his words were useless, Louis
turned away from him, and soon after rode back to Laon.

"What a changeable man!" said the Bishop Gero of Halberstadt.
"Yesterday the French king was the Emperor's humble servant, and to-day
he seems to defy him."

"Patience!" replied Werner of Minden; "Frederic will teach him
obedience. It must come to that. If peace were to last forever, there
would be no need of our good armor. Believe me, this insolence of Louis
comes very opportunely; in two days' time the Imperial eagle will float
over the French frontier."

"Yesterday, the Emperor gave me a splendid charger and a suit of
Venetian armor; I shall be glad of a chance to use them," said Philip
of Osnabruck.

"I shall wear my Nuremberg mail," added the Bishop of Munster; "it was a
present from Frederic, and so far no weapon has started a single link."

The entrance of the Count of Champagne interrupted the conversation;
Dassel, who had been reflecting seriously, approached him.

"Back already?" said the Chancellor. "I trust that you have brought the
Cardinal Roland with you."

"With the best intentions in the world, it was impossible," replied
Henry, whose gloomy face presaged no good. "All is lost. The English
king, Henry, is marching forward with a mighty army. Luckily I was
informed in time, and so escaped from falling into the hands of these
partisans of Alexander. Just now I saw the English ambassador, Earl
Gilbert, in the King's suite."

Rinaldo was thunderstruck.

"At last," he cried, "I have the clue to the mystery. But it is strange
that the negotiation between Alexander and England should have escaped
our notice. I can scarcely believe it possible."

"It was entirely out of my calculation," said Henry, trying to console
the statesman. "The English king, whose character you all know, has
pursued a course which no one suspected, but which probably has been
long in preparation. It is certain that he is not marching merely to
Alexander's assistance, but against the Imperial supremacy."

"It is really absurd! As if a feeble gazelle could struggle against a
tiger," said Dassel. "Let us go at once to the Emperor; he must hear it
from your own mouth."

The Count was in no hurry, for he looked at the question in a different
light.

"My personal safety forbids it," he said. "I have done all I could; I
supported the Emperor; but it would be madness in me to give the
English King a pretext for seizing my domains. For the time being, I
can only be a secret ally of Frederic."

"What! Count, you think to serve two masters?" cried Dassel, furiously.
"How can you be at the same time the friend and the enemy of the
Emperor?"

The Count admitted the dilemma, but no entreaties could change his
determination.

"It cannot be, my lord; I must no longer delay my return to Laon.
Farewell; present my homage to the Emperor."

He sprang into the saddle and rode towards the city.

"Ah! these falsehearted Frenchmen!" said the Chancellor; "but it is
well; our arms will teach them honor and conscience."

"That is my advice too," said the fighting Bishop Werner; "German
honesty, which more than once has been the dupe of its own rectitude,
is well known. Let us go to the camp at once, raise our standards, and
reap a new harvest of laurels in the heart of France."

The nobles returned to the Imperial camp, where they found their
sovereign surrounded by his princes and bishops. The startling
intelligence of the change in the French policy, and the movements of
the English King, amazed every one. A few, among whom were the fierce
Otho of Wittelsbach and the schismatical bishops of the Empire, were in
favor of crossing the frontier at once. But the Dukes of Austria,
Saxony, and Bavaria, and some others, who were secret partisans of
Alexander, took the matter with the greatest coolness.

Barbarossa remained calm in appearance, although the flash of his eyes
and the contraction of his features gave unmistakable evidence that he
with difficulty controlled his rage and disappointment. With a slight
inclination of the head to the assembly, he beckoned to Rinaldo and
left the tent, which had now become the scene of an animated
discussion.

Hastily divesting himself of the sumptuous costume with which he had
thought to dazzle the King of France and his great vassals, Barbarossa
seated himself before the Chancellor.

"The solution of the question can now only be arrived at in the field,"
said Dassel, with the insinuating manner of a serpent creeping on his
prey. "We must attack Louis before his troops are thoroughly organized.
You have been insulted, and every man, even to the meanest serf in our
army, feels the outrage done you by the King of France; let us profit
by the opportunity."

"If you had observed my faithful vassals, you would scarcely call the
present a good opportunity," replied Barbarossa. "Besides, I do not
wish to trust all to the fortune of war. We are not strong enough yet
to engage the united forces of France and England. But," he added, "is
the result of this ecclesiastical meeting very certain?"

"Certain!" said the Count. "We are sure of our own bishops, but not of
those of the King of Sweden. Some things cannot be accomplished by mere
brute force, and rather need skill and intelligence than threats of
violence."

"You are at your tricks again, and I am tired of them," said
Barbarossa. "The Danish prelates are only men; after all, self-interest
will guide them. Besides, Victor will be enjoined from the commencement
of the Council to abrogate all appeal to Rome or elsewhere. We shall
see how the Danes can get over this difficulty."

"All well enough in its way! that may intimidate some," answered
Dassel; "but in this way you lessen the Papal power, and increase that
of the bishops. What will the Emperor gain by the change?"

"What the Pope alone possesses now, will become the property of a
thousand different individuals, and I have always looked upon a divided
power as more easy of direction than when it is vested in one person."

"Your Majesty's observation is just and to the point," replied the wily
statesman.

After a lengthy interview, Rinaldo left the Emperor to take charge of
the preparations for the council. Louis breathed freely at the
announcement of the departure of the German army for Besançon.
Alexander had written to him of the intended campaign of the English
King against Frederic. At the same time he learned that Andrew of
Hungary was ready to march an army into Germany, as soon as the
Imperial troops crossed the French frontier. In the meanwhile, the
Emperor, accompanied by several of his princes, and by about fifty
Bishops and Archbishops, nearly all of whom were as yet unconsecrated,
had arrived at Besançon. King Waldemar of Denmark came to meet him
there, but he was attended by only one prelate, the Bishop Absalom of
Roskilde, for the northern sovereigns could not make up their minds to
attend a council which had been convened in defiance of the canonical
rules, and with the sole view of legalizing the acts of the
schismatical Frederic. The preliminaries against Alexander, the
recognition of Victor, and, as a natural consequence, the Imperial
supremacy, were rapidly and skilfully arranged.

As the Emperor was leaving his apartment, to proceed with great pomp to
the cathedral where the council was to be held, a letter with the seal
of the Abbey of Cluny was handed to him.

"From Cluny! Who brought this?" he asked.

"A strange horseman," said the chamberlain. Barbarossa hastily ran it
over, while Rinaldo examined his expression, with eager curiosity.

"Pshaw! it is scarcely worth talking about," said Frederic, laying the
letter aside; "at least, we have no time to meddle with it. Still if
you would like to know," he added, seeing Dassel's curiosity, "Count
Rechberg informs us that he is going on a pilgrimage to the Holy Land.
That is all; the young man could do nothing better in order to escape
the bonds in which a sage statesman would have tied him. Let us hope
that he will come back completely cured. My lord Chancellor, you may
give the signal for our departure now."

Under ordinary circumstances, it is probable that Barbarossa would not
have listened so calmly to his kinsman's resolve, but just then he was
busied in a matter of interest to all Christendom, and he could think
of nothing else.

A long and brilliant cavalcade of princes and prelates proceeded to the
Cathedral of Besançon, where the Emperor did not neglect the
opportunity of holding the Pope's stirrup. Victor received the
attention haughtily, as though it were in some way an offset to the
many humiliations which he had suffered. The bishops and princes took
their places in the centre of the nave. The presidency of the council
was assigned to Victor, with Frederic on the right hand, and Waldemar,
King of Denmark, on his left.

Barbarossa opened the proceedings by a recital of all the acts and
artifices of the French and English sovereigns. He also paraded his
efforts for the pacification of the Church and the suppression of
heresy, and his discourse convinced the audience of his moderation and
good intentions.

Victor followed with a long series of complaints against those whom he
called the enemies of the Church, and particularly against Alexander.
The substance of his discourse stated the numerous privileges which
would be accorded to the Bishops.

After him Rinaldo spoke, and in skilful words insisted upon the
legality of Victor's claims, while he endeavored to prove that the
present meeting was in reality a general council.

Finally, Barbarossa rose and besought the assembly in energetic terms,
to put an end to the schism, to banish Roland as an enemy of the
Church, and to proclaim Victor as the head thereof. A general confusion
commenced to prevail in the Cathedral. At this juncture Bishop Absalom
rose and made a signal to his sovereign.

"For the love of God, my dear brother," exclaimed Victor, "do not leave
at this most important moment."

"I am only here as an attendant on my sovereign," said Absalom, with
marked coolness. "As he is leaving the Cathedral, I must follow him."

The withdrawal of the King and his prelate caused additional confusion,
and a few other bishops, with whom the sentiment of honor was stronger
than the dread of the Emperor's anger, followed their example.

But the proceedings were in no way hindered by their absence. Alexander
was excommunicated, and Victor solemnly proclaimed Head of the Church,
and then, after the _Te Deum_, the assembly adjourned.



                            _CHAPTER XLIX_.

                       _HERMENGARDE'S CONSTANCY_.


Five years had passed since the Council of Besançon. The struggle
between the Pope and the Emperor still continued, but many things had
turned to Frederic's advantage. In times of discord and civil war, only
the most virtuous remain faithful to their honest convictions; the
others allow themselves to be influenced and directed by circumstances,
or intimidated by eventualities. In both cases, Frederic knew how to
act upon the passions; his violence frightened some, his generosity
gained others.

After the decease of Victor, who died as he had lived, an alien from
the Church, tormented by remorse and without receiving the Holy
Sacraments, the Chancellor Rinaldo immediately installed a new Pope,
Pascal III., and the choice was ratified by the Emperor. The schism had
again a chief, and Barbarossa used every effort to procure the
recognition of his claims.

The bishops were compelled to recite in a loud voice, on Sundays and
holydays, the prayer for Pope Pascal. The monks and other ecclesiastics
were ordered, within the space of six weeks, to swear fealty to Pascal,
and whoever failed in the performance of this pretended duty was
considered an enemy of the Emperor and punished as such.

Frederic even went further, and at the diet of Würtzburg, in the year
1163, caused the adoption of the following resolutions. "The Emperor,
princes, and bishops refuse to acknowledge Roland, or any future
successor appointed by his faction; the Germans swear to elect no
Emperor, unless he pledges himself to consult the German policy in all
that concerns the Papacy. Any layman acting in opposition to this
decree, will lose his life and property; any ecclesiastic, in such
case, will be deprived of his benefice and dignities. All princes and
bishops will be held responsible for their subjects, to whom a similar
oath will be administered."

In this manner, the German Church was severed from the Roman--the only
Catholic Church,--since the German doctrines on the Papacy were
entirely opposed to the true teachings of Jesus Christ.

Frederic was on the eve of founding a Western Empire, similar to that
established in the East, of which he was to be installed the Supreme
Chief. Like Victor, Pascal was a mere tool, and the episcopacy declined
each day; for all its members were mere court prelates.

The death of Eberhard of Saxony deprived Alexander's party of a leader
in Southern Germany, and thus the mitred personages, without direction,
and enchained in golden fetters, became each day more careless of their
sacred ministry. They exchanged the pastoral crook for the sword, the
episcopal mitre for a casque, and their sacerdotal robes for the
corselet of the soldier. The lower clergy were little better than their
superiors; and the people, whose souls were intrusted to their care,
fell more and more into ignorance and degradation.

Still there were some few whose sanctity opposed, with energy, the
Emperor's designs. The Archbishop Conrad of Mayence, of the house of
Wittelsbach, and the Archbishop Conrad of Salzburg, uncle to the
Emperor, protested loudly against this usurpation. They were at once
declared enemies of the Empire, deprived of their bishoprics, and
forced to seek safety in Italy.

These brutal examples, however, produced the desired results; and the
orders of the powerful monarch were henceforward obeyed literally and
implicitly.

The position assumed by Henry of England towards Pope Alexander, also
favored Frederic's projects. The cruel and despotic English King ruled
his Church according to his own caprices. The cloisters and monasteries
were, in his opinion, mere places whence to draw supplies for his
material wants; and many of the bishoprics were left unoccupied, while
their revenues were appropriated to the royal treasury. The celebrated
St. Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury, resisted, with all his
energy, the tyranny of the sovereign; but at the royal instigation, he
was slain on the steps of the altar, and all friendly relations between
Alexander and Henry were suspended.

These circumstances came very opportunely to the aid of Frederic's
projects. Rinaldo was sent to London to contract an alliance with
England, and in order to cement it, a daughter of the King was
affianced to the son of Barbarossa, and Henry the Lion to another
princess of the royal family of England. Italy was quiet, although the
people chafed under the Imperial yoke, and were silently preparing for
revolt. The fire smouldered amid the ashes, but since the terrible
chastisement inflicted upon Milan, no city dared to raise the standard
of liberty.

In the year 1167, Barbarossa entered Italy with a numerous army and
marched towards Rome, from which he wished to expel Alexander, who had
returned to the city aided by King William of Naples. The Lombards had
hoped that Frederic's justice would alleviate their distress, and an
enormous crowd came with complaints against his Imperial agents. The
complaints were listened to, but the grievances were not often
redressed, and so soon as he was fairly on his way to Rome, the Lombard
confederation was formed. It was at first weak and secret, but still it
served as a happy presage and an encouragement to the oppressed
inhabitants.

Guido of Castellamare, faithful to his plighted word, remained at his
home and abstained from any hostile act.

Hermengarde was now nineteen years of age; she seldom left the solitary
castle in the valley, where, since her return from France, she had
lived like a recluse. Her only distraction was an occasional visit to
Genoa in search of news of Count Rechberg among the pilgrims returning
from the Holy Land. At first she was successful, for Erwin's name had
acquired a great reputation in Palestine. Many had seen and spoken to
the young hero, and all related his prodigies of valor. But during the
last two years the tidings had been extremely vague and unsatisfactory.
His deeds were still present to the memory of the pilgrims, but none
could speak positively of his fate, and Hermengarde's mind was tortured
with the most mournful apprehensions.--He must have fallen battling
against the infidels, she thought, as the tears coursed down her
cheeks.

But hope rarely abandons the human heart, and the sad girl trusted
always in God's mercy. Still each day her steps grew feebler and her
cheeks more pale, like a lamp which flashes feebly and then is
extinguished forever.

Formerly she frequented a little terrace whence she could overlook the
valley and the distant sea, and each sail that hove in sight she would
fancy was the one which was bringing home her betrothed husband. But at
last the terrace was deserted; for months Hermengarde had watched no
longer--she had lost all hope. Time cures every wound, Guido thought,
as he watched his daughter.

To judge from appearances, Bonello's prognostications were correct. The
girl became more calm, the journeys to Genoa less frequent, and
Rechberg's name rarely passed her lips. To please her father, she
sometimes visited a noble family of the neighborhood, but it was solely
through filial obedience, and the visits were rare and of short
duration. Still Bonello, assured that Erwin had shared the untimely
fate of many of the Crusaders, was thinking of proposing another
husband to his daughter, one who, if not so distinguished, was at least
worthy of her. Old age looks at matters under a different aspect from
youth. Experience had taught him the vanity of earthly aspirations, and
he considered everything with cool and calm deliberation, for he
thought it a matter urgent and important to secure for Hermengarde a
husband who would watch over her happiness after her father's death.

"I am old," he thought; "I may die at any time, and my daughter must
not be left defenceless and unprotected."

The idea had long been ripening in his mind, and his choice had fallen
upon the only son of this same family of Rapallo, which he had
occasionally visited with Hermengarde.

Heribert of Rapallo came regularly every week to Castellamare, where
his visits appeared to gratify the old man, although it frequently
happened that Hermengarde refused to see him. Bonello imagined that his
daughter had forgotten her betrothed, because she never mentioned his
name, and seldom went to Genoa or even to the terrace. But Heribert
felt assured that her calmness was the result of her religious
sentiments, and that Erwin's image was always present to her mind. He
was right; she no longer expected to meet her lover upon earth, but,
with resignation to God's will, trusted to be united to him in heaven.

Still he continued his visits, in the vague hope that some day she
would consent to be his bride.

"It is very strange! Rapallo has not been here for a week," said Guido,
one day after dinner. "I trust that no accident has happened."

"I was thinking of him also, father. To-day is Friday, and he had
promised to come on Tuesday. He may be ill."

The interest which Hermengarde appeared to take in his friend pleased
Bonello, who, after a short pause, continued,--

"Heribert is an accomplished gentleman--he is unassuming, noble, and
brave."

"He is an agreeable companion, and his piety is unquestionable,"
replied the young girl.

"I am glad your opinion of him is so favorable, dear Hermengarde."

"He has been here so often that I have been able to judge his character
thoroughly."

"Very good; but you ought to show yourself a little oftener when he
comes, for I am disposed to think that it is a good deal more on your
account than mine that he makes this long journey so regularly."

Guido smiled as he spoke. His daughter looked at him with such an
expression of ingenuous simplicity that it was evident she had not
penetrated his meaning. But the opportunity seemed favorable, and he
hastened to take advantage of it to speak of his cherished project.

"In fact," he said, "Rapallo suits me exactly. What think you,
Hermengarde?"

"I think, father, that you have excellent taste."

The old man was delighted; it seemed as if he was about to gain his
purpose more easily than he had dared to expect.

"You agree with me, then, my child? I am glad of it; for Heribert will
make an excellent husband, and I shall be most happy to call him my
son-in-law."

The young girl shuddered, but Guido continued,--

"I am very old now, my dear child; death may come at any moment, and
leave you without a protector. The Emperor Barbarossa has again crossed
the Alps, and opened the campaign. What will become of you in a country
where robbers and marauders can kill and plunder with impunity? No! I
would not die in peace unless the walls of Castellamare were defended
by some valiant knight."

"Dear father," she said, with emotion, "do not allude to this painful
subject. You are strong; your health is excellent; why, then, speak of
what may still be far from us, and which can only serve to make us
unhappy?"

"You speak, dear child, as all do at twenty; youth lives thus careless
of the future, and with scarcely even a thought for what the morrow may
bring forth. Thank God, my health is good, but, at my age, a man should
always be prepared for his last journey, and should accustom himself to
the thought of death, which may come when he least expects it. As I
have said, your isolation troubles me, and you should relieve my heart,
Hermengarde, of this anxiety. You have seen and known Rapallo
intimately; you tell me yourself that he is noble, and generous, and
worthy of you--"

The young girl was silent; her lips moved convulsively, and tears fell
from her eyes.

"Do not weep, my child; doubtless you are thinking of the gallant
Erwin; he deserves all our sympathy, but why cherish a vain hope? He is
dead; he has fallen beneath the weapons of the Saracens, like so many
thousands of brave knights, victims of their devotion to the faith. As
you must resign all thought of him for spouse and protector in these
troublous times, another must take his place. Your marriage is the most
ardent desire which your father now has. If you truly love him, you
will relieve his heart of the burden which oppresses it."

Her tears ceased to flow, and she reflected seriously if it were not
her duty to make the sacrifice which her filial love seemed to exact in
order to secure her father's happiness.

At this moment the door opened, and Rapallo entered the room. The young
man was scarcely above the middle height; his face beamed with
frankness and benevolence, though his features were rather agreeable
than positively handsome.

"Here you are at last, my dear Rapallo!" said the old man. "We were
just speaking of you. You are right welcome now, although you have been
neglectful of us lately."

Heribert bowed respectfully to the lady, pressed Bonello's hand
cordially, and took a seat by his side.

"I was compelled to accept the invitation sent me by the Lombard
confederation, which I am about to join," said he.

Bonello shook his head with a marked expression of disapproval.

"At least, I trust that you have made no positive engagement without
consulting me?" he said. "Will you risk your life in an enterprise
which has no chance of success? Heribert, Heribert, this is not well
done! you have been very imprudent. I augur nothing good from this
attempt."

An animated discussion followed between them; Hermengarde profited by
it to leave the apartment unnoticed, and retired to her own room, where
she could weep at her ease.

"Without doubt, I admit all that," replied Guido, after his guest had
explained the motives which had induced his acceptance of the
invitation sent to him. "I will even go further. I will suppose that
the league increases, that the cities and the nobles have given in
their adherence to it, that the necessary funds can be procured, that
its generals are skilful, that it can command everything necessary to
sustain the struggle: one thing will still be wanting, and that
is--unity. So long as Pavia, Genoa, Lodi, Pisa, and Florence, that is
to say, the most important cities of Northern Italy, support the
Emperor's cause, every attempt at independence will only aggravate our
condition."

"Must we then always wear our chains?" cried the young man, in whose
eyes shone a fire which Guido had never before observed in him.

"As long as Italy deserves her chains, she will wear them, and she does
deserve them for her intestine divisions," replied Bonello. "Besides,
be convinced that, in a military point of view, we are far inferior to
the Germans. We have been taught this again by the late bloody battle
fought near the walls of Rome. Forty thousand Romans have been routed
by twelve thousand Germans, and of the forty thousand scarcely one half
have escaped from the field."

"That affair is not so important as was at first supposed," answered
Rapallo.

"Naturally the Lombards have tried to depreciate their enemy's success.
But it is certain, my lord Rapallo, that, at the siege of Ancona, the
German advanced guard, even without its usual leader, Frederic, well
nigh annihilated the Roman army. Give the Emperor time to install his
Pope on the throne of Saint Peter, and conquer the Sicilian princes,
and you will soon see then how easily he will overcome the Lombards."

"But the yoke which we bear is intolerable. The cries and complaints
which we hear on all sides, are heartrending."

"Yes, our countrymen know very well how to complain. However, I readily
acknowledge that their murmurs are well-grounded; but this new
insurrection will be entirely to the Emperor's advantage; he will find
in it an excuse to weigh us down with new extortions. So, my dear
Rapallo, listen to an old man's advice: have nothing to do with the
league, and do not compromise yourself in a rebellion which will have
no better success than all those which have preceded it."

Heribert changed the subject, and soon after took leave of his host.

"I should have wished to speak to you," said Guido, "upon another
business, which probably would not have seemed disagreeable; but as you
appear in a hurry, we will reserve it for your next visit."



                              _CHAPTER L_.

                          _THE CONSPIRATORS_.


The young nobleman galloped rapidly through the narrow valley of
Castellamare, and more than once turned in his saddle and gazed
earnestly upon the ancient walls of the lofty castle.

"What could he have meant?" he asked himself, "The good old man
probably wishes to give me a suit of that costly armor which I have so
often admired. If he do so, I will send him the best horse in my
stables." In his excessive modesty, he had not suspected the old man's
intentions, for he had never allowed such a hope to dwell in his
imagination for a moment.

After a long ride, he entered a ravine, shut in on every side by lofty
mountains. The heights were covered with trees, but below, all was
barren and desolate. A few fruit-trees stood here and there as vestiges
of former cultivation, and some stakes, almost decayed by time, rose
from among the thistles and rank grass. In the lower part were the
ruins of an ancient monastery, of which the four walls and the tower
alone remained, and although of comparatively recent date, the stones
were covered with parasitic plants. Heribert fastened his steed to a
fragment of the wall, near which stood a number of other horses, all
saddled, but browsing upon the abundant herbage.

He then proceeded to the church, where the profound silence would
scarcely have allowed him to suppose, that he was in the immediate
vicinity of hundreds of men all breathlessly awaiting an orator of a
kind widely different from those who had formerly spoken there.

A rostrum of moss-covered stones had been erected on the place where
the altar had once stood, and upon it was a man depicting in fervid
language the misfortunes and disasters of Lombardy. His audience, who
were all in armor, listened to him with passionate and earnest
attention; at times they applauded his words, at others their shouts of
menace and defiance proved that he had succeeded in arousing their
resentment. Rapallo, fearing to interrupt the harangue, stopped at the
door.

"Dearly beloved brethren," cried the orator, with a piercing voice,
"you have seen that Barbarossa is insensible to our grievances. In vain
you have protested against the insolence of his prefects, against the
injuries done to your property, the drudgery which has been imposed
upon you, the ill treatment which you have borne; in short, against all
the acts of violence and oppression of which you have been the victims.
The Emperor has remained deaf to all your complaints. Do you know the
reason?"

The orator paused for a moment; his lips compressed, his nostrils
dilated, he seemed to infuse into his hearers, by his looks, the fury
with which he was himself animated.

"It is," he resumed in a still higher key, "because he looks upon you
as slaves, whose necks are fitted to bear the yoke of his tyranny.
Think of what he once said at Pavia: 'Italy is a conquered province,
she has lost all her rights; to demand any of her former privileges is
an act of rebellion.' Yes, this is what he said openly, the despot! I
heard him with my own ears; yes, he dared to say, that you have no
longer any rights, that you are nothing but his vassals."

A dull murmur ran through the assembly.

"Thus, brothers, when we appeal to right and justice, we are guilty of
rebellion. With such principles, what have we left to hope for? Are you
astonished now that an abstract has been made of your lands, of your
houses, of your herds, of all your wealth, and that you have been taxed
in consequence? Do you not know, brothers, that you no longer possess
anything, but that all belongs to the Emperor? Gather in your harvests,
the bailiffs come with their satellites and take what they please.
Prayers and tears are unavailing. Only enough is left us to barely
prolong our own wretched existence, and that of our children; and this
is all that is necessary for slaves, who live merely in the interest
and for the service of their master."

The murmurs became more threatening, for passion was working in the
hearts of all.

"Poor slaves," he continued, "life is only a burden destitute of every
joy. For this we have been deprived of our rights to hunt and fish, for
this we are not allowed an instant which we can devote to the most
innocent amusement. Woe to him who would leave his work to take a
moment's rest. Is it right and just that your lives should be consumed
in the most painful drudgery, that you should be subjected to every
privation, whilst your masters revel in every luxury?"

The orator had attained his object, for he was compelled to pause an
instant in order to allow his auditors to give vent to their rage in
fierce imprecations against the oppressors of their native country.

"In ancient times the barbarians overran our fair land, but they only
passed over her surface; by bending the head to the storm, its fury was
soon spent, and the evils could be repaired. Barbarossa, on the
contrary, has put about our necks a yoke from which there is no relief.
We must build with our own hands the fortresses which threaten us; with
our own hands we must construct for these cruel vultures--I mean for
the worthy prefects of the Emperor--those nests from which they can
swoop down upon us with impunity, to pillage and murder. Will you
always submit to slavery? Are you willing to be oppressed until death
sets you free? Will you not, at last, rise in your might, and expel the
tyrants?"

"Liberty forever! Death to the tyrants! Down with Barbarossa! May he
die, he and his infamous satellites!" was heard from all parts of the
ruined church.

"Yes! liberty forever," resumed the orator in a calmer tone; "the hour
of our deliverance is at hand; profit by it, for it may pass, never to
return. At present the Emperor is before Rome. The most solid bulwarks
to our liberty are the Church and Alexander, the successor of Saint
Peter. If Barbarossa succeeds in overthrowing him, we shall lose
forever all hope of shaking off the yoke imposed upon us by the Germans
and the Emperor." And the orator descended from his rude platform amid
the clamorous applause of his auditory.

The speaker was a nobleman of great respectability, whose patriotism
was equalled by his benevolence towards the needy and distressed. He
had exaggerated nothing; but, on the contrary, had endeavored to
palliate; and this very circumstance had increased the effect of his
discourse. The pitiless severity of the prefects was, unfortunately, a
positive and general fact, and the harsh sentiments of the Emperor
towards unhappy Italy were only too evident. By adroit allusions, the
orator had awakened all the memories of his hearers. A great number of
them had felt the avidity of Frederic's agents; many had even suffered
cruel tortures; and as they related their misfortunes, each imparted to
his hearers the hatred by which he was himself convulsed.

Soon the assembly arrived at a paroxysm of fury. On all sides were
heard fierce curses and expressions of grief and anger. Their arms
shook with menacing sound; their eyes flashed; the audience seemed
inspired with indignation.

At last another orator mounted the rostrum, and the noise gradually
ceased.

"It is the Milanese Pandolfo," was said in a low tone; for all that
came from Milan was received with great respect. Milan had won the
martyr's crown.

"I bring the good wishes of my city to all the brothers of the Lombard
League," said Pandolfo, with a clear, ringing voice. "You have heard,
no doubt, that Milan is no longer a mere heap of ruins; her walls have
risen; her fortifications have again appeared, and soon she will stand
more proud, more threatening, than in former days. But walls and towers
are not enough to defend us against tyranny; what we need above all,
what already constitutes our strength, is a powerful organization, and
an extension of the Lombard League. Many powerful cities have already
joined her; and next to Milan I can cite Brescia and Bergamo, Cremona
and Placenza, Parma and Modena, while others are ready to raise the
standard of Italian liberty. We no longer hold our meetings in the
midst of ruins, or in narrow ravines, but in the open country. Whilst
you are still forced to tremble before the minions of tyranny, and
escape by stealth, to meet here, we defy Barbarossa's prefects, for we
are now powerful, and strength gives us courage. Fear not for the
interests of our sacred cause. Neglect nothing to gain over to it your
kinsmen, your friends, and your neighbors. Encourage the timid, arouse
the cowardly. The victory is ours, and the chains of slavery will be
broken from the very moment in which we shall be united."

Until then, Pandolfo had spoken in a calm and measured tone, and he
observed with great satisfaction the favorable impression which had
been produced by his report on the progress of the league. But soon, to
arouse still more the minds of his audience, he began to paint the
unhappy condition of Italy, and his language and manner became more
passionate.

"Dear brothers," he said; "you have all seen at Milan, of what Frederic
is capable, and what is the fate which threatens you. Perhaps you think
that your misfortunes have reached their furthest limit, but you are
mistaken. You are robbed, you are beaten, the fruit of your toil is
torn from you, your horses and your oxen are stolen before your eyes,
but as yet they have not carried away your wives and your children. You
are treated with harshness, but they have not yet pillaged your
churches; they have not profaned and desecrated your sanctuaries."

"Yes they have!" cried a voice, trembling with anger; "yes they have!
Our bailiff--may God curse him!--has carried off everything of value
which was in our church; he tried to force our old priest to pray for
Barbarossa and the high-priest Caiphas (the Antipope Pascal). Our good
priest protested, and was shamefully beaten, and we ourselves, for
refusing to pray for our oppressors, were driven from the church with
blows and curses."

"All this is but a drop in the bucket," resumed Pandolfo. "Do you not
know, brothers, that the Church, the Pope and the Clergy, are slaves
like ourselves? Is it not right and proper that the Pope and the Clergy
teach, pray, and preach in conformity with the Emperor's orders? Since
you are Frederic's property," he added with bitter irony, "it is only
reasonable that he should watch over your minds and your bodies; of
course always in accordance with his own personal interests. You seem
astonished! Perhaps you think that I exaggerate? If so, it is because
you do not know what an Emperor is, and what ideas he has of his own
importance. Are we not told that the ancient Romans worshipped their
sovereigns? Go to Rome, you will still see there the statue of the
divine Augustus. Aye, the Pagan emperors called themselves gods, and
their subjects were compelled to pay them divine honors."

"What infamy! what impiety!" exclaimed the audience.

"Has not Barbarossa already assumed the title of Augustus? As he
affects to imitate the Roman emperors in all things, he will finally
oblige us to adore him as a divinity."

A derisive laugh interrupted the speaker for a moment.

"You laugh, brothers, you imagine that I am jesting? I speak in sober
earnest. The tyrant's pride will not stop short of the abomination of
idolatry. You shake your heads; it appears impossible? Let me only ask,
did it not seem impossible ten years ago, that you would become slaves;
that the time would come when you would no longer have possessions, or
rights, or liberty? Is not the Emperor to-day Pope? Is not the
pretended Pope the Emperor's humble slave? Does not the Emperor pretend
to an authority over the Church which is wellnigh divine? Is it not he
who lays down the forms of preaching and prayer? Thanks to him, our
bishops have been replaced by the minions of tyranny, and our good
shepherds by ravening wolves who tear the flock."

"He is right! all that is only too true; Pandolfo is right!"

"Barbarossa is the Antichrist!"

"He is a child of Satan!"

"A worthy successor of Nero!"

"An infamous tyrant!"

"Curses upon him! may he die unabsolved!"

"Long live our Holy Father the Pope! May God save Alexander!"

"Yes, long live the Pope! may God protect him!" resumed Pandolfo, who
was charmed with the enthusiasm which he had excited. "The sovereign
Pontiff is the rampart of liberty, the only real defence against
Imperial despotism. Why is it that Barbarossa has turned all his rage
against Alexander? It is because he knows that he can never accomplish
his perfidious ends so long as the Christian world shall retain him
whom God himself has appointed to be the guardian of right, and
morality, and liberty. The Pope suffers and struggles in our cause; let
us unite with him, let us bravely flock to freedom's standard. Raise
your right hands, and swear allegiance to the Lombard league."

Instantly a hundred hands were stretched forth in breathless silence. A
heavy cloud overshadowed the sun and seemed to threaten the roofless
cloister. A violent wind rushed through the dismantled windows and
shook the parasitic plants upon the crumbling walls.

"As it is better to die gloriously than live in shameful slavery,"
cried Pandolfo, whose clear voice rang through the ruined building, "we
promise obedience and fidelity to the principles of the Lombard league.
We swear to devote our property and our lives to our faith and our
country, to the Church, and to liberty. We take God as witness to our
loyalty; may He doom us to eternal torments if we violate our oath!"

"We swear it;" and the oath unhesitatingly pronounced by a hundred
voices was repeated by the echoes of the surrounding hills. The
assembly then broke up, and the conspirators separated; on their
features might be read the thoughts which filled their minds, and the
noble resolutions to which they had subscribed. Less than a quarter of
an hour afterwards the ruins had become once more silent and deserted.



                             _CHAPTER LI_.

                             _THE TRIBUNE_.


Whilst the deputies of the Lombard cities were travelling through the
province and working at the organization of the league, Frederic and
his army were encamped before the walls of Rome. Informed of the storm
which threatened from the North, he would have raised the siege and
marched at once against the rebels, but Dassel dissuaded him. It was
first necessary, the statesman urged, to expel Alexander from Rome, and
place Pascal upon the throne of Saint Peter.

Henry the Lion, the Duke of Austria, and nearly all the princes of note
had refused to send their contingents against Rome, and remained
quietly in their homes, for they had begun to foresee the designs of
the Emperor.

The German and Italian bishops, however, eagerly took part in the
siege, and, clothed in armor, prepared to use the sword and lance to
overthrow the successor of St. Peter. For the monarch had at last
humbled the pride of the prelates, who, for the most part, were his
mere tools, whose consciences were fettered with golden shackles. Rich
and powerful, their ambition urged them to further the projects of the
Emperor, which in abasing the Papacy lessened the power of the temporal
princes.

Frederic's army was numerous, brave, and accustomed to victory. A
division commanded by the Archbishop of Mayence and Cologne, had
already achieved some successes, but Rome still held out, and her fall
seemed yet uncertain. Everything presaged a long struggle, much to the
dissatisfaction of the Emperor, who had just learned the increasing
development of the Lombard league and the advance of William of Naples,
who was marching to the assistance of the eternal city.

"Your advice is replete with danger," said Barbarossa to his
Chancellor; "the Lombards are rising _en masse_; they have decapitated
or hung my lieutenants, and are working diligently upon the
fortifications of Milan, whilst we stand here idle. It is a mistake, an
evident mistake."

Rinaldo merely smiled with the air of one who feels certain of success.

"When we can strike at the heart of our enemy it would be folly to try
only to wound his foot," said he. "Rome is the heart; Alexander is the
life of the confederation. Let Alexander fall, the rest must die of
necessity."

"Your arguments are good, but mere argument will not harm a hair of
Roland's head."

"Every precaution has been taken against contingencies," continued
Dassel, without replying to the Emperor's observation. "The Pisan fleet
guards the mouth of the Tiber, our Brabançon troops scour the country;
in short, Roland's escape is impossible."

"It is most probable that he will not put your precautions to the
test."

"Within three days at the latest, my Emperor and Lord will hear in the
Church of St. Peter the solemn mass which I myself will celebrate as a
thanksgiving," said Dassel, calmly.

Frederic gazed at him in astonishment.

"My captains watch most diligently," resumed the statesman, "and Roland
would need wings to get away again! If I had a hundred more gold pieces
to spend, perhaps the worthy Romans would open their gates to us
to-morrow. My promises, too, have a good deal of weight: abolition of
all taxes, re-establishment of the Senate, privilege of electing the
Pope!"

"Ah! you have promised all that?" said Frederic.

"Certainly! but when you are in the city, you can only keep as many
promises as it suits you; for, personally, you are pledged to nothing.
I assure your Majesty that I have never seen a city which can be so
easily deceived as Rome: all that is necessary is to promise.
Everything is false among the brave Romans."

"I know and appreciate them as they deserve," replied Frederic. "All
that remains of their ancient glory is an overweening pride, which I
mean to humble."

"Hark!" cried Dassel, "what is that noise?"

An extraordinary clamor was heard in the direction of the square of St.
Peter, where an immense mob shouted and howled in such confusion that
it was impossible to understand their meaning.

A marble column stood in the centre of the square, but in place of the
image of the Holy Virgin, which it usually supported, it now served as
a pedestal for the tailor Guerrazzi, while the sacred statue was laid
upon the ground beside it, and a dense crowd pressed forward to listen
to the excited orator. The tailor laughed and wept alternately, waved
his hands, beat his breast, and tore his hair, while his voice assumed,
by turns, an expression of menace or of flattery, as the occasion
required. Guerrazzi was a paid agent of the Chancellor, and it was his
pockets which received the gold pieces of which the latter had spoken,
and which were to be distributed among the conspirators. The Romans
were sharing the common lot of all those nations who are mad enough to
suppose that schemers have any other object in view than self-interest;
they were deceived and sold by the very men whom they considered to be
their most devoted champions.

The orator pointed proudly towards a circular tower, which stood in
front of him, commanding the square, with which it communicated by a
bridge and a wide street. This building, whose lofty walls overlooked
the whole city, was the mausoleum of Adrian, afterwards called the
castle of Saint Angelo, and at present the Pope's last refuge.

"Look there!" cried the tailor, who was trying to flatter the national
pride of his audience by recalling the mighty deeds of their ancestors;
"look there at Adrian's mausoleum! there stands a memento of Roman
grandeur. How magnificent it still is! I see before me the sons of the
Gracchi, of the Scipios, of Brutus, the descendants of the masters of
the world. But what are we to-day? We are mere pigmies in comparison
with our progenitors. Ah!" said he, weeping, "there was a time when
Rome dictated laws to the world, and all nations paid tribute to
her majesty. Then our Senate, like a council of gods, sat in the
Capitol!--And now?--But who has robbed us of this greatness? Who
governs the universe after despoiling the Roman people of its
power?--The Pope!"--and the angry tailor paused.

"It is true!--It is true!"

"Well said!"

"What wisdom!"

And the crowd burst out in frantic applause.

"Romans!" continued the orator, "fellow-citizens! the Popes are the
successors of that Saint Peter who thrice denied his master; but
many of them seem to take as their model the thief, the traitor
Judas!--Consequently, all the Popes are great men, but"--(here he
paused and pointed to the castle)--"all the Popes are not saints!"

Again the mob applauded, but the wily orator, seeing at once that he
trod on dangerous ground, made a skilful diversion.

"No one will dispute the fact that our Holy Father Alexander is one of
the greatest of the Popes!" and his voice rang out loudly, as though to
prevent all denial. "But although Alexander is a great and holy
personage, will he restore to the Romans those privileges of which they
have been deprived? No, fellow-citizens, he will not, because he
cannot! He swore to hand down the spoils intact upon the day that he
assumed the triple crown. But be comforted, fellow-citizens; we have a
powerful protector, and that protector is the Emperor! Yes, the Emperor
will bring back to Rome her pristine splendor; he will give her once
more all that was hers, for he glories in being the defender of right
and justice! Again you will have a Senate seated in the Capitol, for
the power of priestcraft has had its day. Your ancestors had the right
to elect the Pope; this right will again be restored to you. And do you
know why Barbarossa refuses to acknowledge Alexander? Solely because he
was not elected by the Roman people!"

A murmur of approbation and pleasure ran through the crowd.

"Neither Alexander nor Pascal will sit upon the pontifical throne; you
can choose for Pope whom you please. Such is the Emperor's will." The
orator was fast gaining his point, for if the Romans no longer
possessed the energy of their ancestors, at least they had their pride.

"Rome will again reign supreme; all her liberties, all her privileges
will be restored, and she will once more rule the world as before the
usurpation of the Popes. The Emperor has promised it, and Barbarossa
keeps his word. But, you will ask, what does he require in exchange?
Nothing, nothing except to receive from your hands the dignity of Roman
patrician, nothing but the privilege of nominating the Pope of your own
choice! Will you accept the hand stretched out to you by the noble
Emperor, or will you close your gates against the defender of your
liberties?"

"Long live the Emperor! Long live Barbarossa!" was shouted on all
sides.

"Long live Frederic and the Rome of Augustus!" And the cries of the
populace rent the air.

"Rejoice, O Rome! mistress of the world," cried the excited tailor,
"thou wilt once more see thy Senate, thy Capitol, the tribunes of thy
people!

"Romans," he added, with increasing energy, "to your work without
delay, every moment is of value: Elect your tribunes, send them
immediately to the Emperor; tell him that you confer on him the title
of Roman patrician, and that you wish to choose a Pope who will defend
your rights and liberties!"

Guerrazzi descended from the rostrum, and the election of the tribunes
began.



                             _CHAPTER LII_.

                              _SEDITION_.


The Pontiff was watching the people from the summit of the castle. He
was overwhelmed with sadness; for he had long known the fickleness of
the Romans, and the ease with which they could be misled caused grave
fears of an early defection from his cause. Still he gave no evidences
of discontent or ill humor; his sorrow was only that of a tender father
mourning over the errors of a loved, though wayward child.

Near him stood Conrad of Wittelsbach, the deposed Archbishop of
Mayence, a prelate of grave and dignified demeanor, whose features
indicated firmness and energy. His efforts to bring about a
reconciliation between Alexander and Frederic had been fruitless; the
angry Emperor looked upon the Pope as the only obstacle to peace, and
his renunciation of the pontifical throne was the essential condition
on which he insisted.

"Poor misguided people; what a tumult!" said Alexander. "Hark how they
cheer for the Emperor! What terrible ingratitude!"

"The Romans in this respect differ in no way from the rest of mankind,
most Holy Father. To-day they cry Hosanna! to-morrow, Death! But it
seems as though they were coming to see us," added Conrad; "the crowd
is pressing in this direction."

In fact the mob, under the leadership of Guerrazzi and other
demagogues, was moving towards the castle, and already the shouts of
"Long live the Emperor!" were heard uttered with such violence that
they even reached the Imperial camp. On the bridge the people stopped
and glared at the portcullis with an air of hatred and defiance.
Frangipani the governor of Saint Angelo, at once repaired to the
presence of the Holy Father, to inquire if he would receive the
tribunes of the Roman people.

"The tribunes of the Roman people?" repeated Alexander, with surprise.

"The designation appeared to me as extraordinary as it does to your
Holiness," replied the soldier; "but, however it may be, the so-called
tribunes of the Roman people desire an audience of your Holiness."

"Alas!" exclaimed the Pope, "their blindness is even greater than
I supposed. However, let them come, I will receive them in the
council-chamber."

A dense crowd entered the castle and were led by Frangipani to the room
which had been designated. The pontifical court had adjourned but a few
minutes before, and the cardinals' chairs were still around a long
table, at the upper end of which stood the throne of St. Peter. Along
the walls were shelves covered with books and parchments, for the
archives of the Church had accompanied the Pope in his flight.

As soon as the last tribune had entered, the doors were closed and
guarded by the soldiers, whose measured steps along the corridors,
joined to the clank of their armor, produced a marked impression upon
their excited minds. They looked anxiously around as if in dread, but
Guerrazzi, who perceived the general impression, hastened to reassure
them.

"Do not be in the least alarmed," he said, "we have nothing to fear.
The people surround the Castle, and would not leave one stone upon
another, if any violence were offered to us. We possess their
confidence, we must show ourselves worthy of our trust. Believe me,
since the time of Romulus and Remus, no tribunes have ever been chosen
with so much promptness and discrimination as ourselves. Since, in
spite of my unworthiness, the people have seen fit to elevate me to the
dignity of the tribuneship, I intend, as certain as I can trace my
origin directly back to Romulus, to show myself worthy of the honor,
and to defend the people's rights with all my energy."

At this moment the Pope, accompanied by Conrad of Mayence, entered the
hall by a side-door.

Guerrazzi's colleagues, generally, belonged to the dregs of the people,
and modelled their conduct upon his. Still, although the crafty tailor
felt persuaded of their devotion to his cause and their own ambitious
schemes, he felt that they were overawed by the calm majesty of the
Pontiff, before whom they preserved a silence which induced Alexander
to suppose, at first, that they had come to solicit his forgiveness for
the insurgents.

But Guerrazzi was not a vulgar rebel; he was a villain ready for
anything, an accomplished scoundrel. Approaching the Pope with
assurance, he drew himself up, threw back his head, and spoke thus:

"Sir Pope, we, the tribunes of the Roman people, wish you to understand
that the Emperor has offered us his friendship, and that we have
accepted it. No harm shall be done to your person, but you must resign
the sovereign dignity, in order that the Roman people may, as is its
right, choose a Pope. As you are a pious and a holy man, you may,
perhaps, hope that our choice will fall again upon yourself as a fit
person to occupy St. Peter's chair."

The demagogue was silent and awaited the Pontiff's answer, but there
was none; the arrogance and importance of the harangue rendered any
reply impossible.

The tailor had more skill and craftiness than the Holy Father. People
of elevated sentiments can never understand all the insincerity and
baseness of which vulgar minds are capable, and Alexander could not
suppose that the speaker only sought to lead him into a snare which
would make him odious to the people.

"I am aware, Holy Father," he continued, "that you desire to put an end
to the war. Many hundreds of Roman citizens are in the hands of the
enemy: Frederic has promised their release if we throw open our gates;
but he threatens to hang them and treat Rome as he has treated Milan,
in case we persevere in our resistance. He will demolish our
fortifications, will put us to the sword or send us into exile, and
will turn this noble city into a heap of ruins. It is in your power to
avert all this and save us from inevitable misery, by resigning the
throne and ordering the surrender of the city."

Despite the wickedness which appeared in the harangue, the Holy Father
was moved by the picture. He would gladly have gone into exile, or even
to death itself, in the discharge of his duty, but the people seemed
ready to yield everything rather than persevere in the struggle.

"My son," said Alexander, after a moment's reflection, "you have
undertaken a matter which is beyond the scope of your abilities, and
which is even contrary to justice; I will therefore make you no reply.
It is to be deplored that the Romans are less disposed to do battle for
God and his Church, than to make arrangements with the Emperor, whose
only object is the gratification of personal ambition. His intention is
to destroy the Church of God in Rome."

"Allow me to say, Sir Pope, that the Emperor has not come here as a
destroyer, but rather as a protector of our rights and liberties."

"You cannot believe that, poor misguided people that ye are!"

As if in answer to these words of the Pope, the yells of the infuriated
mob were heard before the fortress.

"Long live Barbarossa!--Election of the Pope!--Down with the government
of the priests!--Hurrah for the Senate!"

These words, and others of a similar nature, showed the spirit which
animated the populace.

"Listen to them, then, Holy Father! mark with what enthusiasm they
acclaim the Emperor!" said the tailor, insolently. "Barbarossa is
really a great man, an Emperor worthy of the name of Augustus. I
recollect well the time when he came to St. Peter's with Pope Adrian.
Oh, the happy days! Why cannot you, too, become the Emperor's friend?
Every difficulty would then be removed."

"You do not understand me, my son; personally, I have no dislike to
Frederic, but it is my duty to oppose his perverse designs."

"Do you not admit that Pope Adrian was a wise and saintly Pontiff?--The
people have always so considered him."

"And they were right."

"Why then could he be the friend of Barbarossa, whilst you are not so?"

Among the rare qualities of Alexander III. must be counted the truly
Christian patience with which he listened to the reproaches of wicked
men, and the mildness which he employed in trying to convince them of
their perversity. But the Holy Father was compelled to admit the
hopeless impossibility of impressing upon this rabble the great
importance of his contest with Frederic.

After a moment's reflection, he went towards the table and sought among
the parchments.

"Here is a document," he said, "written by Pope Adrian. It will show
you that our predecessor was gravely annoyed by the Emperor's conduct
which always was hostile to the independence of the Church. 'God be
thanked,' he writes to the German bishops, 'that you have remained
faithful! God be thanked for giving you the ability to judge,
dispassionately, between Frederic and the Holy See! This schism which
he has instigated will recoil upon his own head; it is like a dragon,
which, wishing to fly to heaven, has fallen to the earth, and has been
swallowed up. He who would exalt himself, shall be abased. This fox
seeks to lay waste the Lord's vineyard; this guilty son forgets all
gratitude and all fear. He has fulfilled none of his promises, he has
deceived us in everything; he deserves then to be treated as a rebel to
his God, as a heathen, as an outlaw.' You see then, my children, how
severely Adrian judged the Emperor. What would this saintly Pontiff
write now; what sentence would he pass upon Frederic at the time when
he is persecuting with still more virulence the Church of God?"

A savage yell, which seemed to approach the castle, interrupted
Alexander, and Frangipani appeared.

"Holy Father," said the soldier, "I can no longer endure the presence
of these bandits; allow me to drive them away by force."

"By no means; let no blood be spilled! Tell them," he said, turning to
Guerrazzi, "that there can be no alliance between Christians and the
enemies of God; tell them, distinctly, that Rome has naught to fear, so
long as she fights against the foes of the Church!"

He withdrew, and a few moments later, Guerrazzi was again upon his
column, haranguing the rabble which pressed eagerly around him. The
tailor inveighed bitterly against the harshness of Alexander, who, he
asserted, had no pity for the sufferings of the people, and was
disposed to resist the Emperor at any cost.

"I represented everything to him," he said, "I reminded him of Milan,
of your inevitable destruction if you rejected the proffered mercy! I
reminded him of our captive brothers who will certainly be hung, unless
we stretch out our hand to Barbarossa. With tears in my eyes, I
besought him to have pity upon us, upon our wives, upon our helpless
children; my words would have touched a heart of stone, but they were
powerless to move this barbarian. Do you call such a one a holy man, a
father?--He is a tyrant, a destroyer!"

Guerrazzi at last had carried his point; the crowd was rampant with
sedition.

"Death to Alexander! Down with the tyrant!"

"Forward!" resumed the tailor, violently,--"brave people, rise in your
might, break your chains, and go to meet your Augustus!"

He sprang to the ground, for his task was accomplished, and the fire of
sedition was spread rapidly through the masses. Rinaldo's emissaries
urged on the revolt, and soon nothing was heard but wild panegyrics of
Barbarossa, and curses against the Pope.

Each day the excitement increased in Rome, where the Chancellor had
already distributed large sums of money, and where the seditious
harangues of Guerrazzi, Bariso, and many others embroiled everything.

Alexander was denounced as a merciless savage.

"Soon, brothers, you will suffer all the pangs of hunger," said the
tailor, always speaking from his favorite column. "You will be obliged
to feed upon roots, and leather, and old shoes, and other things too
disgusting to mention. What does Alexander care for our sufferings, he
is well provided with every luxury behind the walls of St. Angelo."

"The man of the castle has no heart!" cried Bariso, who had replaced
Guerrazzi upon the pedestal; "if he had, would he compel us to bear
this misery, and submit to the misfortunes which ruined Milan? Yes, the
Emperor has sworn to destroy everything with fire and sword, if we do
not surrender within a week."

"Alexander will not resign the pontifical chair," said another voice.
"What does it signify to him if his obstinacy causes our destruction?
Barbarossa desires to restore to Rome her ancient splendor and her
liberty. Alexander has other intentions, he claims everything for
himself. He cares for neither our honor, nor our glory; he is plotting
our ruin!"

Every day there were popular meetings in different quarters of the
city, and loud complaints were launched against Alexander, while some
of the insurgents even went so far as to shout, through the loopholes
in the walls, words of encouragement to the enemy.

At last Frederic stormed a portion of the works, and burned the church
of Santa Maria della Torre; the conflagration spread, and the vestibule
of the dome of Saint Peter was destroyed.

From the summit of St. Angelo, the Pope saw the flames surround the
tomb of the prince of the Apostles; but although his face glowed with
indignation, and his lips trembled with emotion at the sacrilege, he
remained undaunted in his resolution to endure every trial in the
interest of the Church. He wept, and his tears were doubtless carried
to the foot of the eternal throne of God, where they pleaded for pity
and forgiveness.

After the capture of the Vatican, Barbarossa attacked the castle of San
Angelo, but the assault failed. Several other positions were also in
the possession of the Papal troops, but a longer resistance seemed of
no avail. It was useless to remain in a city the people of which was
hostile.

Alexander saw the precarious condition of the desecrated Church, and
resigning himself to his fate, determined to seek safety in flight. But
the enemy had evidently foreseen the contingency, and every disposition
had been made to prevent the escape of the Pontiff.

A cordon of troops was drawn around the citadel; these were doubled
after nightfall, and so great was the importance which the Emperor
attached to the Pope's capture, that none but Germans were detailed on
the service, for Frederic had little confidence in his Italian
mercenaries.

The gigantic castle of Saint Angelo rose towards heaven, and the gilded
statue of St. Michael glittered upon its summit. The helmeted sentinels
in full armor, their lances poised upon their shoulders, paced the
bridge with measured tread. At times they looked towards the castle,
then upon the river, and then towards the distant horizon; for they
knew that the Pope would seek to escape.

Further on, a strong detachment of soldiers were sleeping on the
ground, with their helmets and lances carefully piled near them. Among
these might have been seen the knight Goswin and the tailor Guerrazzi,
who were engaged in earnest conversation.

The frankness of the worthy German found little to sympathize with in
the crafty Italian; but Guerrazzi, who never lost the opportunity of
showing his zeal for the Emperor, had offered to keep him company and
share the fatigues of the night-watch. Of course no fault could be
found with this, but Goswin looked upon his companion much as a dog
would on a cat which fawned upon him. The German, it is true, had a
very limited intellect, but his natural good sense taught him that the
Italian was full of tricks and artifice.

At first he paid no attention whatever to Guerrazzi, as if to show him
that his presence was a matter of perfect indifference, and he walked
up and down the banks of the Tiber immersed in thought.

But Goswin was not a philosopher, and could not remain for hours at a
time in a revery, so he very soon began to weary of the silence, and
finally approached Guerrazzi.

"A very fine evening!" said the knight, opening the conversation like
one who did not know what to say.

"We are in the month of July, noble sir, and at this season, I think,
the custom ought to be to sleep all day and work at night."

"Sleep all day!--you?" said Goswin; "did I not see you on the square,
haranguing the Romans, and working them up as a baker kneads soft
dough? And if I mistake not, you were at the allied camp before
daybreak? Don't you sleep either day or night?"

"Not when there is anything to be done, my lord; and there will be, as
long as Rome is not entirely in the power of the Emperor!"

"What means that statue on the top of the tower?" asked Goswin,
pointing to the castle.

"Ah! that is a strange story," replied the tailor, laughing. "They used
to call the fort, Adrian's Mausoleum, but ever since an angel lighted
on it, it has been named the tower of Saint Angelo."

"An angel came there? This is a strange story."

"I will tell it to you in a few words. It happened one night while
Gregory the Great occupied the throne of St. Peter, that a terrible
pestilence had broken out in Rome. None knew whence the scourge came,
nor what caused it, but he who was smitten fell dead at once; the very
air was infected, and it is since then that it is customary to say when
a man sneezes: God bless you!--that means: may God preserve you from
the pestilence! Now, when the disease had reached its height, Pope
Gregory ordered a general fast and a procession through the city, to
implore God's pity. Nothing was of any avail, although the physicians
opposed the procession, on the ground that the concourse of so many
persons would necessarily tend to spread the contagion. Gregory,
absorbed in pious meditations, mounted to the summit of that tower,
precisely as Alexander has since done. The people marched slowly
onward, chanting the _miserere_; at every moment their ranks grew
thinner, as a corpse fell to the ground. Suddenly the sky became
illumined, and an angel was seen upon the tower. He held in his hand a
fiery sword, which he brandished over the city, and then he seemed to
return it to the scabbard. At the same instant the plague disappeared.
It is for this that you see there the image of the blessed Archangel
St. Michael, who protects us still, for since then the pestilence has
never appeared among us."

"This is indeed a marvellous legend!" said Goswin. "The flaming sword
in the hand of St. Michael clearly shows the punishment which God
intended for the Romans."

"There is no doubt about it," sneered Guerrazzi.

"You laugh?"

"Certainly; for I look upon the legend as an idle tale: old women often
see miracles where our cool, good sense perceives nothing which is not
entirely natural."

"But did not the plague cease?"

"Yes; but it would have disappeared all the same without St. Michael's
interference."

The tailor's irony shocked the honest German, whose pious faith saw
nothing astonishing in the visitation of the glorious archangel.

"If all the Romans thought as you do, they did not deserve St.
Michael's assistance."

"Bah! the St. Michael of the mausoleum is not an article of the Creed!
Although I may think the story of the apparition false, I am not a
pagan."

Goswin stared angrily at the tailor, and turned away.

Whilst this scene was passing upon the bridge, Alexander was hurriedly
preparing for his flight. The garrison was ignorant of the intentions
of his Holiness, but in the antechamber of the apartment, the bishops
and cardinals were kneeling, and reciting fervently the prayer for the
safety of travellers.

The door of the Pope's chamber was open, and through it might be seen
the Head of the Church and two ecclesiastics, all clothed as pilgrims,
kneeling before the little altar, on which burned two candles before a
large crucifix.

The cardinals and bishops prayed with voices tremulous with emotion.

"Aid thy servants, who have faith in thee, O God! Send us assistance
from thy holy place, and from Sion protect us! O Lord, be our strength
to resist the enemy, and let him not prevail against us! Praised be the
Lord! May he grant us a prosperous journey! Show us thy ways, and
direct us in thy paths. The crooked road shall be made straight, for
God has commanded his angels to protect thee on thy way. Lord, listen
to my prayer, and let the voice of my supplication come unto thee."

"The Lord be with you," said the Pope at the altar.

"And with thy Spirit," answered the cardinals.

"Let us pray," added the Pope. "O God! thou who hast caused the sea to
be crossed as the dry land, thou who hast guided the magi by thy holy
star, grant to us a prosperous journey; and may we, under thy gracious
protection, arrive in safety at the goal to which we direct our steps.

"_Amen_!" answered the cardinals.

There was a profound silence, which was broken by the entrance of
Frangipani, who in full armor stood motionless before the door. The
bishops and cardinals remained seated, but the tears were coursing down
their cheeks, for as they looked upon the Pope, they trembled for his
safety.

Without, was heard the measured tramp of the sentinels, then soon all
again was still.

Alexander knelt once more at the foot of the altar, and raising his
eyes to the crucifix,

"O my God! my Saviour!" said he with emotion, "protect the flock which
I am compelled to abandon! Be merciful to thy deluded people, for they
know not what they do."

He paused and bent his head; then suddenly looking up, he exclaimed in
a loud voice:

"O Almighty God of justice, look upon thy Church: turn thine eyes
towards thy spouse. See her misery, her forlorn condition, her
persecution, her danger! How far wilt thou allow this wickedness to
triumph, O Lord? O Lord, if thou hast pity on our misfortunes and our
griefs, come to the aid of thy Church! Awake, O Almighty God, bare thy
avenging arm! O Sweet Jesus, deign to save thy holy Church."

Alexander's voice became stronger, and his features more animated, as
though he had seen a vision. His words also had a supernatural
expression, and the Pontiff seemed to have received, directly from the
Almighty, the power to bless and curse.

At this critical moment, the representative of God upon earth had
repassed in his mind all the circumstances by the aid of which he had
struggled so long for the holy cause which had just been overthrown.
The giant grasp of the Emperor had clutched on the Church, and God
alone could compel him to leave his prey. The Pope felt all this, and
consequently it was to God that he looked for assistance, to him that
he addressed his prayers.

The cardinals and bishops remained kneeling in deep emotion, as the
Pope, rising with the air of one who had confided everything to
faithful hands, bestowed upon them his solemn benediction. Then he took
his pilgrim's hat and staff, and, followed by his companions, descended
the steps of the altar.

Frangipani had got all his men under arms in order to cover the Pope's
flight by a vigorous sortie, in case it was noticed by the besiegers.
Goswin had just lain down upon the ground and had begun to doze.

The sentinel stood upon the bridge, his head bent forward upon his
breast, scarcely awake. A heavy cloud veiled the moon and threw long
shadows upon the city; a few doubtful rays glided upon the surface of
the stream and played here and there upon the armors. Suddenly a small
postern was cautiously opened and three persons came out from the
castle.

Goswin was seated upon the ground, his face towards the river, his back
against a stone. The fatigues of the day forced Rinaldo's spy to
struggle against sleep, and he was scarcely conscious of what he saw,
everything was dim and indistinct before him. But the sense of hearing
had become more acute in proportion as the other faculties of the
tailor had diminished.

An almost imperceptible noise came from the tower, and in a moment
Guerrazzi was on his feet peering eagerly into the night. He fancied
that he perceived human forms moving away under cover of the darkness,
and he hastily gave the alarm.

"Halloa! up! look yonder; they are escaping from the castle."

The drowsy soldiers heard a fall, a shout, and then a splashing in the
water.

"What is the matter with you? what are you shouting about?" asked
Goswin. "Halloa! there he is again; ah! he has sunk a second time,"
said the soldier, pointing with his lance towards the water. "The
idiot! why did he jump into the river if he did not know how to swim?"

"Who has jumped into the river?" asked the sentinel.

"The Italian; I don't know what was the matter; he suddenly cried out
that some one was leaving the castle, and then sprang into the Tiber.
Did you see anything?"

"Nothing at all; everything was quiet; the idiot was dreaming, I
suppose."

"All this comes because of his want of respect for St. Michael," said
Goswin. "The devil has blinded him so that he took the water to be the
solid ground. I should have liked to save him, but it is not possible
to fish in the dark."

The soldiers crowded around the bridge and gazed at the water, which
was carrying the villain's body away.



                            _CHAPTER LIII_.

                         _BARBAROSSA IN ROME_.


Alexander was in safety at Gaeta before his flight was discovered by
the Romans. Frederic's anger knew no bounds.

"He has succeeded, after all, in eluding your guards and your
Brabançons," he said to Rinaldo, who communicated the fact to him.

"If we were unable to seize the Pope in Rome, we shall be more
successful at Beneventon or Naples," replied the Chancellor. "It is
probably a piece of good luck by which not only Alexander but also his
champion, King William, will together swell the triumph of the Roman
Emperor."

The news spread rapidly through the city, and a thousand details were
added, all in favor of the Pope's sanctity. Some even asserted that he
had penetrated unseen the line of sentinels, and that Guerrazzi had
perceived and tried to seize him, but had been thrown by invisible
hands into the Tiber. As he was going, added the crowd, the Holy Father
had fulminated the anathema against Barbarossa, and had called down the
vengeance of Heaven upon the head of the wicked Emperor, while a flash
of lightning had pierced the clouds, announcing the most dire
misfortunes.

These marvels were related everywhere, and acquired additional credit
from their very circulation.

Frederic determined to make his triumphal entry into Rome on the 3d of
August, when he and Beatrice would be crowned in the Church of St
Peter, and receive the allegiance of the inhabitants. It was necessary
that Frederic should enter Rome with becoming pomp, and immense
preparations were being made for the reception. St. Peter's Square and
its vicinity was profusely decked with flags, and flowers, and laurel
crowns; and tall poles, hung with streamers and appropriate emblems,
were set up in all the streets through which the procession was to
pass. Frederic had announced three days of popular festivity, during
which he was to appear in public, robed in the Imperial purple, and
dispense his bounties in person. The Romans were favorably disposed;
all the avenues were alive with crowds of citizens in their holiday
attire, and in each house everything was being made ready for the
banquet.

In the army, too, every one was busy; the squires and men-at-arms
brightened up their armor and polished their lances and bucklers; in
the ecclesiastical quarter, the chaplains were preparing the sumptuous
vestments of the prelates, while the nobles were assembled in Council
near their sovereign, deeply intent upon the organization of the
cavalcade.

Heaven alone appeared unwilling to take part in the festival. Until
then the burning sky had diffused a stifling heat, but on the eve of
the ceremony heavy clouds began to collect upon the distant horizon,
and pile up in dark masses, whence flashed lurid sheets of fire, while
the thunder rolled menacingly. Still the air was calm, and scarcely a
puff of wind fluttered the gay pennons of the knights. All nature
seemed hushed in dread expectancy.

Goswin was seated at his door, watching the darkening sky, and as the
weather became more overcast and the lightning blazed more fiercely, he
shook his head uneasily.

"Tighten the tent-cords, Bruno," he said, turning to his squire; "we
shall have a storm soon."

Hardly was the order given before the tempest burst forth in all its
fury. The tents were prostrated or else whirled away by the wind; and
on all sides were heard the shouts and cries of the soldiers struggling
amidst a deluge of rain to repair the wild confusion.

Fortunately the hurricane was of short duration, and subsided as
rapidly as it had arisen; but it seemed as though a threat from Heaven
weighed down the army and the city. The lightning had ceased, and the
thunder rolled no longer, but the clouds, which had been chasing
rapidly through the air, suddenly stopped, as though they had reached
their destination, and hung over Rome, gloomy and mournful as a
funeral-pall.

Knights and pages looked with apprehension upon this ominous calm. To
most it seemed as though the storm was only massing its strength in
order the better to destroy all within its reach.

"What a singular tempest!" exclaimed Frederic, who had been driven from
his tent by the violence of the gale; "it is as though chaos had come
again."

As if in answer to the Emperor, a dazzling flash furrowed the sky, and
extended from above the camp to the Eternal City, as though to presage
its destruction, and then the lightning again blazed forth, and crash
succeeded crash, while the rain poured down in torrents. Then there was
a pause, followed by three deafening peals, at regular intervals, and
all was still.

The statue of the Archangel no longer guarded the summit of Saint
Angelo; the tempest had hurled it from its pedestal. All was wild
uproar; and the affrightened soldiers sought shelter where they could
from the violence of the storm.

"Woe to us!" they cried; "our last day is at hand; we must all perish
in this deluge!"

But although the environs of the city were laid waste, no one was
fatally injured, and soon the clouds rolled away, and the stars shone
out brightly in the dark azure of the cloudless sky.

During the height of the storm, two soldiers were riding towards the
camp, but it was in vain that they spurred on their jaded steeds; the
terrified animals tumbled and stood still, as each flash burst forth.

So far as his appearance went, one of these horsemen belonged to the
highest rank of the aristocracy; his armor was costly and richly
arabesqued in gold, and his helmet bore a Count's coronet; but on the
shield the only device was a simple cross, the emblem of the crusaders.
His face, half hidden under his casque, was bronzed by the suns of
Asia, and his eyes shone brightly, as if he would have defied the fury
of the elements. He rode on calmly, with loosened rein, and at times
patted his charger's neck, with words of encouragement.

"What is the matter, my good Velox?" he said; "we have braved many a
storm before. Courage, good horse, we will soon be there."

On his arrival at camp, the stranger requested to be taken at once to
the Imperial tent.

Frederic was seated at a table; before him a parchment was spread out,
which he was reading attentively, and occasionally crossing out words
and writing marginal notes. He was correcting the sermon which his Pope
was to deliver next day in the Church of St. Peter.

A heavy step was heard, and the Emperor looked up, angrily, for he had
expressly forbidden all intrusion. But when the curtain of the tent was
drawn aside, and a man of tall stature and noble bearing entered,
Frederic uttered an exclamation of glad surprise. Throwing down his
pen, he sprang forward and caught Rechberg in his arms.

"God be thanked! You are back at last.--Come here, my boy, and let me
look at you!" and the Emperor led him to the table. "Why, you have
grown to be a man, Erwin! Your eyes glow with the fire of the Eastern
sun, and your face has gained a look of energy and resolution."

He again embraced him, and laying aside the sermon, ordered in some
refreshments.

"You are wet to the skin, Erwin; change your clothes first," said
Frederic. "Why did you travel in this horrible weather?"

"The storm broke upon me suddenly, and as far as I can judge, it has
done some damage in the camp. All I need do is to change my surcoat."

The powerful figure of the young man stood out in bold relief before
the Emperor, who looked upon him with an expression of almost paternal
interest, which softened his stern features.

"How does it happen that we have had no news of you for the last two
years?"

"The Infidels captured me while I was asleep, and for eighteen months I
have been in a dungeon, with scarcely a hope of release, for the ransom
which they demanded was exorbitant."

"I don't blame them," said Frederic, laughing; "you cost them dear
enough. All the pilgrims returning from the Holy Land relate marvels of
your prowess."

"At last the Knights of the Temple stormed the fortress where I was
confined, and delivered me."

"Ah! the Templars!--Valiant warriors! Their courage is wonderful, and
their daring amounts wellnigh to rashness; but how did you get back to
Europe?"

"On a Norman ship, which landed me at Tarentum."

"Well! you will tell me all your adventures when we have more leisure.
I look forward with pleasure to their recital. But you arrived most
opportunely for the celebrations of our late victories. We are to crown
Pascal to-morrow in the Church of St. Peter."

Rechberg made no answer, but his face wore a pained expression.

"As I have just returned from Palestine," he said, after a brief pause,
"I trust, my dear godfather, that you will excuse me from taking part
in Pascal's glorification."

"Very good! I understand," exclaimed the Emperor, with a slight frown.
"The Crusader is not inclined to recognize our Pope! Well, well, be it
so! you shall be entirely free to act in everything which concerns your
conscience."

The two kinsmen continued their conversation until a late hour of the
night.



                             _CHAPTER LIV_.

                         _THE TRIUMPHAL ENTRY_.


At last the day so anxiously longed for by Barbarossa arrived; the
tents which had been overthrown by the storm were again pitched, and
the Romans completed their preparations for the festival.

Still all hearts appeared to suffer from this fictitious joy; no one
seemed at his ease; a dull presentiment hovered over Rome, where all
felt vaguely that the angel of vengeance was at hand.

A crowd of citizens dressed in holiday attire, was assembled upon the
main road leading from Saint Angelo to the Basilica of St. Peter. The
settled gloom of their features contrasted strikingly with their
brilliant costume, and as they glanced towards the castle, where had
stood formerly the statue of St. Michael, they shook their heads and
sighed.

"Saint Michael has protected us for centuries," said an old man, "but
he has disappeared now! May God have mercy on us!"

"You are alarmed at nothing, Master Bartholomew," replied his friend
Anselm; "you know that metals attract the lightning, and as the statue
was of gilded bronze, it could scarcely escape the fluid at that
exposed point."

"You are very wise, Anselm," resumed the first speaker; "but the statue
has stood there unhurt during all the storms of five hundred years! not
one had power against it until the eve of our reception of this
schismatical Emperor!"

"It is nothing but the merest chance!"

"Take care, Bartholomew," added a third, "the Emperor has hosts of
friends, and it might be dangerous to speak against him."

"I am certain that chance has had nothing to do with it!--I take care!
Anselm, do you think that an old man of eighty-seven years of age is
afraid to speak the truth? Yes, Barbarossa is a schismatic, he is the
scourge of the Church. He will bring bad luck to Rome, and I know there
are many who think as I do, but have not courage enough to express
their opinion!--Look how money has been lavished here for the last four
weeks! but see if the gold and the treason which it purchased do not
burn those who are guilty!"

And Bartholomew started off again in the direction of the Castle of
Saint Angelo.

"He is right in the main," said Gervase; "not a man in Rome has a doubt
who is the lawful Pope, but what could we do? the terrible Barbarossa
would have demolished Rome, as he did Milan, without the slightest
scruple."

"Certainly he would," replied Anselm.

"Is it true that Alexander has anathematized the city?"

"No, no!" exclaimed several voices; "he did not even curse Barbarossa."

"I can speak positively on this point," said Anselm, "Frangipani heard
the Pope's very words as he was kneeling before the image of our
Saviour; this is what he said:--'Arise, O Lord, and judge between me
and my enemies! O Almighty God, stretch out thine arm against the
enemies of the Church!'--This was precisely what happened, and nothing
more."

"It is quite enough! he called down Heaven's vengeance upon us, and we
may expect the most direful calamities!"

"Nonsense!" said Anselm; "all this is merely the effect of yesterday's
tempest."

"What a time that was, what a storm!"

"Yes, and cries and groans were heard in the air."

"And some people even saw a cross of fire above St. Peter's Church."

"Did not the hurricane come from the direction of Gaeta? Such a thing
was never known before; I tell you it was more than natural."

"You are a fool, Ambrose."

"Alexander is at Gaeta, and Rome may yet regret that she deserted the
Head of the Church. Say what you please, that was no ordinary storm.
Did you not notice in what a gloomy terrible manner it burst upon the
city?"

"Cheer up; mayhap you will be elected to the Senate, and the
embroidered toga will soon make you forget your scruples of conscience.
But here comes the procession."

At this moment the bells of St. Peter began to toll.

"Come to my house," said Ambrose, "we can see it so much better from
the balcony."

The cavalcade advanced; first came a body of knights occupying the
entire width of the street; at their head rode the herald of
the Empire, dressed in a splendid tabard. On either side was a
standard-bearer, clad in a sumptuous costume, and glancing haughtily
upon the crowd. Behind them came the serried ranks of the knights, who
had laid aside their coats-of-mail, their lances, and their shields.
They wore only their swords, and were all in plated armor, which shone
in the rays of the August sun like a moving sea of silver.

"How formidable those men of iron appear on their chargers!" said
Ambrose; "how powerfully built they seem! those Germans are sturdy
soldiers!"

"At last they have all gone by; how many were there? Just look, how
they drive the crowd back on St. Peter's Square, to form a brazen wall
up to the Basilica."

"Here come the bishops! Holy Virgin, how magnificently they are
dressed! Anselm, count the prelates.--I want to know how many of them
there are."

"Do you see that one with long, black hair? That is the bishop who
fought so bravely in the last attack, And that one behind him, with the
red head, is the Bishop of Osnabruck,--a miserable villain!"

"Yes; they all look ill-natured and wicked; they ought to be called the
Emperor's spiritual knights; how they glare at everybody!--By St.
Peter! I would not like to be confirmed by one of those gentlemen; they
strike too hard!"

During this conversation, the bishops had approached the Church; they
wore brilliant mitres on their heads, and their steeds were covered
with gorgeous housings.

Next after the bishops came the Antipope Pascal in full Pontifical
robes, surrounded by the prelates of his court. But the costume of this
Head of the Church became him as little as it had done his predecessor,
Octavian, and his embarrassed manner and undignified carriage formed a
painful contrast with the exalted and difficult functions of the
ministry which he was called upon to discharge.

"Fancy Alexander by the side of Pascal," said Ambrose. "What a
difference! In Alexander everything showed the real pope: his looks,
his words, his bearing, even the glance of his eye. But with Pascal
there is nothing! Bah! the Emperor has made a singular choice to fill
St. Peter's chair."

"Silence!" cried Anselm, "here comes the divinity of the festival, the
_Divus Augustus_ himself."

At this moment the mob shouted,--

"Long live the Emperor! Hail, Great Augustus!"

Frederic appeared mounted on a magnificent charger; by his side rode
the Empress Beatrice, and in front was borne the Imperial banner.

As he approached the castle, the crowd made a movement, the applause
ceased, and all eyes were turned to the tower of Saint Angelo.

In place of the image of the mighty Archangel, an immense flag hung
from its summit. This unexpected memento of their humiliation created a
most painful impression upon the Romans, who looked in vain for the
venerated emblem of their patron saint. Alexander's curse, with all its
fearful consequences, recurred to their minds, and hushed the cries of
rejoicing, even among the paid emissaries of the Chancellor, and it was
amid a death-like silence that Frederic moved towards the church of St.
Peter.

"What does this mean?" said Gervase, who, from the balcony, could not
perceive the flag; "everybody is staring at the castle, and the cries
of 'Hail to the Emperor! Glory to the great Augustus!' have ceased."

"Only look at the Imperial mantle! how it glitters!"

"Yes; and see how proudly Barbarossa rides! They might call him
_Jupiter tonans_!"

In fact, Frederic slowly advanced with the grave and stern bearing of a
conqueror. Not a trace of emotion was visible on his countenance, and
his eyes glanced calmly upon the admiring multitude.

A branch of laurel was entwined upon his diadem, and he bore, in his
right hand, the Imperial sceptre, with a more haughty grace than
Augustus himself in his triumphal chariot.

"The Empress is a gracious lady," said Anselm; "she looks like a lamb
by the side of a lion."

"Who is that red-bearded noble behind the Emperor?"

"Frederic of Hohenstauffen, Duke of Suabia, a good and kind prince,
very different from his cousin. They say the Emperor does not trust
him, and that the Duke looks so sadly, because Frederic forced him to
join his army.

"Ah! look there! Here comes the Chancellor Rinaldo! What a handsome
little man he is! See how he smiles,--you would never imagine, from his
appearance, that he is deceit personified?"

A squadron of men-at-arms closed the procession, which was followed by
an immense crowd.

"Quick, my friends," said Ambrose, "let us go to St. Peter's as fast as
we can! If we can only get through the crowd! What a retinue of
bishops!"

"Yes, seventy-three!--it is a holy number, for both seven and three are
in it!"

The church was filled to overflowing. Pascal offered up the holy
sacrifice, upon the tomb of the blessed Apostles Peter and Paul, in the
presence of those who, instead of discharging the functions of their
sacred ministry, had entered God's sanctuary like thieves and robbers.
The people often have singular presentiments, and scarcely had Pascal
mounted the steps of the altar, when a murmur of discontent broke out.
For a moment a riot seemed imminent, and many of the spectators
endeavored to leave the church, through dread of some violence to the
Antipope, the Emperor, and the schismatical bishops.

During the ceremony, Frederic knelt devoutly, and Beatrice took her
place by the side of her husband.

At the conclusion of the Mass, Frederic ascended his throne, and Pascal
seated himself in the pontifical chair, which was placed opposite. The
Emperor wore the Imperial crown, in his right hand he held the sceptre,
in his left the globe. In the space between the two thrones knelt the
bishops, all of whom rose when Rinaldo proceeded to the altar to read
aloud the formula, by which the clergy were to swear allegiance to
Pascal as lawful Pope.

The organ and the solemn chants ceased; and Rinaldo's voice resounded
through the church, while the people looked on with sullen interest.
The hands were raised, the oath administered, and then each in turn
approached the Emperor's throne to pledge him his obedience.

On the first step they bowed respectfully, on the second they knelt
before the monarch and kissed the hand which held the sceptre; then
they moved towards the altar, knelt before Pascal and kissed his
pastoral ring, in token of submission.

Meanwhile the organ broke out into a joyful strain, and the choir sang,
but the melody found no echo in the hearts of the Romans.

The conviction that the schismatic Pascal was a mere tool of the
Emperor, and that this assembly was composed of bishops who were aliens
to the Church, wounded all their preconceived ideas. They feared lest
the vengeance of God should come to punish this usurpation of Saint
Peter's chair. Many again tried to leave the church, but the crowd
without choked up all egress.

The Emperor placed his right hand (which had borne the sceptre) upon
his knee, and each bishop kissed it as he passed, but he scarcely
perceived their presence. His haughty soul was floating in an ocean of
gratified pride. At last he was seated in that place which Alexander
once had occupied, and where his predecessors used to receive the
homage of Christendom. What a change! Alexander was a helpless
fugitive, and Pascal was his creature, his puppet; he himself was the
real _Pontifex Maximus_. Absolute master of Church and State, he was at
last at the pinnacle of greatness; success had crowned his efforts; all
Christendom was his vassal. He glanced towards the kneeling bishops,
and then his eyes turned to the crowd as if he could no longer delay
the moment when they too should swear him their allegiance.

But God has not yet given to mortals the power to thwart his designs.
If for a time he allows the wicked man to prosper, it is to cut him off
at the decisive moment of his career.

The hand of the Almighty was raised against the master of the world:
the cup was full, and at the very moment when Barbarossa was dreaming
of new conquests, the avenging angel hovered around his head.

The ceremony was nearly at an end.

Frederic turned towards the Pope, as if to say:

"Well then, speak, repeat the lesson which I have taught you."

It appeared as though the sermon which had been prepared and revised by
the Emperor, was not to Pascal's liking; still he dared not disobey his
master's sign--he descended from the altar. Again the music ceased, and
a profound silence prevailed through the church, where all listened
anxiously for what the Imperial Pope was to say.

But Pascal was not to speak.

Scarcely was he in front of the altar, when an extraordinary movement
commenced in the crowd; here and there persons fell lifeless. It seemed
as though death was smiting its chosen victims. At first it was thought
to be merely the result of fainting-fits, so often met with in crowded
assemblages; but as the mortality continued to spread, and the corpses
immediately became covered with black spots, a great fear seized the
minds of all.

"He is dead! really dead!" said Gervase, who was supporting the body of
his friend Ambrose. "May God have mercy on his soul!"

And he made the sign of the cross on his forehead.

"But see how black he becomes!" said Anselm. "By all the saints! it is
the plague!"

Scarcely had he spoken, when his words were repeated by the crowd.

"The plague! the plague!" was cried out on all sides.

"God help us! the pestilence is in Rome!" exclaimed the people, as they
fled tumultuously through the doors to escape from the infected
atmosphere.

At first the Emperor's face flushed with anger, for he imagined that it
was a scheme concocted by the malevolence of his adversaries; but when
the crowd began to scatter in disorder, and the terrible cry, "the
pestilence is among us," was heard, a mortal dread fell upon the
Imperial retinue. The bishops grew pale, and many a remorseful
conscience whispered,--

"It is the vengeance of an offended God."

Still Frederic gave no signs of fear or agitation; his dauntless spirit
was a stranger to any such sentiments. He merely regretted the
interruption of the ceremony, that was all. He had erected his
triumphal throne in the Church of St. Peter, in the very heart of
Christendom, and his eyes gleamed with menace and discontent, as though
he would have forced the pestilence itself to recoil before his frown.
But death fears no mortal man, not even him who, seated on the topmost
pinnacle of successful ambition, thinks to rival God.

Already the plague had struck down some of Frederic's own retinue.

Count Ludolf of Dassel, the Chancellor's brother, had fallen dead, at a
few steps from the throne; and his neighbor, the Bishop Alexander of
Lodi, a few moments after, shared his fate. The prelates looked with
stupid wonder at these corpses, all bearing distinctive marks of the
scourge. Not one among them had the courage to stoop down and perform
the last duties which the Church enjoins. These men had none of the
noble sentiments of their calling; they had the vices and the passions
of the court, hands fitted only to wield the sword, and guilty hearts
which scarcely now began to be touched by repentance.

Many wished to follow the example set them by the Romans, but the
Emperor's voice forbade.

"What means this, my lords? What, Bishop of Luttich, you, one of the
most valiant swords in my army, would you too be one of the first to
fly from danger? If God sends us a misfortune, we will bear it with
becoming resignation."

He ordered the grand marshal to arrange the return to his camp. There
was no disorder. The people had left the church, and the square of St.
Peter was deserted; for the Romans, in the vain hope of escaping the
pestilence, had sought refuge within their dwellings. At first the
bugles sounded the march, but the joyous music met with no response;
there were no shouts of popular applause; the streets were empty, and
on all sides were seen the corpses of the victims. Princes and prelates
rode along with downcast eyes and looks expressive of grief and
apprehension. Suddenly a soldier fell dead from his horse; the
pestilence was among the men-at-arms. The bugles were silent, the
cavalcade halted for an instant, and then all was wild confusion; the
ranks were broken, and each man dashed madly forward to escape from the
infected air of the empoisoned city.

All order was lost; the return to camp was like a rout, and even
Barbarossa and his consort urged their horses to a gallop to regain
their tents.



                             _CHAPTER LV_.

                           _THE HAND OF GOD_.


The plague continued to rage as violently as it had broken out. Death
smote its victims without forewarning: some fell as they were putting
foot in stirrup to mount their steeds; others, by the side of the
friend whom they were placing in the grave, which had been dug for him
through charity.

"God chastises us for our behavior to the Pope," said the Romans.

This feeling spread even among the German soldiery. The tents were
emptied of their inhabitants who had fallen victims to the direful
contagion. In a few days, many thousands had perished, and among them
the Emperor's cousin, the Duke of Suabia, and Diepold of Bohemia; but
the bishops were attacked with marked virulence, and it seemed as
though not one of them was destined to return to his home. There was a
dead silence everywhere, unbroken even by the clash of arms, and naught
was heard but the creaking of the death-carts piled up with corpses
which were thrown together by hundreds into a common pit. But soon it
was no longer possible even to bury them, and the dead bodies lay
rotting in the sun; adding by their pestilential odors to the malignity
of the disease.

Even the horses were attacked; they fell into a species of stupor which
terminated in death. Still, although his camp was almost depopulated,
Barbarossa remained unmoved; he hoped that the plague would wear itself
out, and that he might resume the great work which it had interrupted.
As yet the Romans had not sworn allegiance to the Empire, Pascal had
not been installed as sovereign Pontiff and Frangipani still held
bravely out in the Castle of St. Angelo, The partisans of Alexander
must be entirely destroyed; and to accomplish this Frederic would not
yield a step, not even to the plague.

In this determination he was encouraged by Dassel.

"If we give up now," he said, "we are lost. All Christendom will look
upon our defeat as a judgment of Heaven. You cannot hereafter undertake
anything which will not appear to be marked with the seal of divine
displeasure."

Frederic admitted the justice of the policy, and determined to dare
everything. He rode through the streets of the camp, striving to
encourage his troops. Erwin was always at his side, although he had
frequently implored his young kinsman to return to Germany.

"You must go beyond the Alps," he said. "I wish it; and as soon as this
Roman question is settled, I will join you."

"But I will not go, my dear godfather, even were the camp peopled with
corpses."

The Emperor was deeply touched by this mark of affection, and he
pressed the young man's hand with emotion.

One day, Barbarossa returned to his tent, after his usual round of
inspection. The destruction of his army seemed inevitable, if it was
not soon removed from this pestilential atmosphere, and his indomitable
pride was crushed at last.

He ordered the immediate attendance of his chancellor.

Rinaldo was writing in his tent; near him sat his favorite pupil
Hillin, who had been nominated upon his recommendation to the bishopric
of Augsburg, and the Chancellor was then dispatching his orders and
instructions to the chapter, for which Hillin was to start at once.

"You have scarcely as yet the age which is prescribed by the canons,"
said Dassel; "but the canons are out of date, like many other things.
What an absurdity it is to leave talent unrewarded on the pretext of
youth! How old are you, Hillin?"

There was no reply.

"I ask you your age."

Still there was the same silence! He turned his head and started back
in horror. Hillin was dead, his hand still held the pen, his arms
rested on the table, and his head had fallen forward upon the
parchment.

Shaking his head in astonishment, Dassel walked towards the corpse and
then called for his servants. His fear had passed away, for the
Chancellor was not easily agitated.

"Hillin is dead," he said; "the young man had fine prospects, and would
have been useful; but dead, he is only a nuisance. Take away this
carcass!"

At this moment the Emperor sent for him, and Rinaldo, throwing into the
fire the now useless letter, dressed himself in his court-robes and
repaired to his master's presence.

Frederic's face was sad and calm. He replied to his minister's bow with
a mute smile, and motioned him to a seat.

"Chancellor," he said; "we have done all that is possible. But Heaven
seems inexorable; the plague rages with renewed fury; two-thirds of my
army have perished, and if we remain here longer, the remainder will
share their fate."

"Still we must stay here. Our flight will only aggravate our condition;
I have foreseen all this. The plague will cease as unexpectedly as it
began."

"But if it really were a chastisement from God?" said Barbarossa.

Rinaldo sneered viciously: he looked steadily at the Emperor for a
moment, and then answered,--

"We must then suppose that God amuses himself by punishing the Romans
every year; for every year the heat raises these noxious vapors from
the marshes, and breeds a pestilential fever; it is an unhealthy
climate, that is all that can be said."

Barbarossa shook his head.

"Your explanations are not satisfactory," he replied; "this is no
fever, it is the plague, and the plague is not the result of mere
chance, it is the effect of divine wrath! We must humble ourselves
before God!"

"By all means, Sire; and since God opposes our designs, we must give
up, and acknowledge ourselves to be beaten by Alexander!"

This remark touched the Emperor's pride, and Rinaldo continued his
arguments.

"I thought," he said, "that it was only the rabble who had these ideas
about God's judgment--"

A wild shriek closed his speech: the Chancellor was a corpse, and
Barbarossa stood gazing upon his confidant, whose features still bore
the impress of devilish hate.

The Germans, however, did not abandon the bodies of their princes. All
were embalmed and transported from Italy beyond the Alps, to be buried
in the cathedrals of their native land. Two large tents were pitched,
beneath which were laid out in state the deceased nobles: the bishops
in full canonicals, with cross and mitre; the knights in complete
armor, as if about to go to battle.

A small escort rode up: in front came the cross, borne by the Bishop of
Pavia, and followed by the clergy, and then Rinaldo's body, carried by
four of his own soldiers; Barbarossa, Rechberg, and a few of the nobles
closed the procession. At the entrance, the Bishop of Pavia recited the
prayers for the dead, and then the mortal remains of the once powerful
Chancellor were deposited with the others. All, save the Emperor and
his kinsman, departed in silence, but Frederic still stood there, sad
and dejected, a tear in his eye, gazing upon all that was left on earth
of those who had died in his cause. There lay his cousin the Duke of
Suabia; near him Diepold of Bohemia, Count Berenger of Sulzbach.
Rodolph of Pfulendorf, Henry of Tubingen, and Ludolf of Dassel, the
bishops of Prague, Ratisbon, and Augsburg, of Basle, of Spires, and of
Constance, of Toul and Verdern and Cologne. Who could say whether he
too would not soon take his place among these lifeless bodies? He began
at last to look with awful fear upon his eternal future, and almost
completely weaned from earthly vanities, he returned to his own
apartments.



                             _CHAPTER LVI_.

                             _CONCLUSION_.


Barbarossa retreated with the remains of his once powerful army towards
Germany; but before he had reached Lucca, two thousand more were
stricken down by the pestilence. Attacked and annoyed on all sides by
the Lombard league, he finally fought his way to the loyal city of
Pavia, where he rejoined the Empress Beatrice and was able to take some
repose.

But the terrible chastisement at Rome had only quelled his pride for
the moment, and it now broke out again, as he turned to crush the
Lombard league. The confederation had attained an extension which he
had not anticipated; Lodi and Cremona had joined it, and all swore to
root the German rule out of Italy.

But although Frederic was preparing to open an energetic campaign
against the Lombards, the reasons which had induced our hero to remain
in the camp existed no longer, and he felt himself irresistibly drawn
towards Castellamare. He was only at two days' journey from the
dwelling of his betrothed; but the roads were infested with the light
troops of the Lombard league. Still the young knight determined to risk
everything, and he informed the Emperor of his intentions, with little
care whether they met with his sovereign's approval or not.

To his surprise, however, Barbarossa listened gravely, but without any
marks of disapprobation.

"I should be wrong," he said, "to make any further opposition to a love
which has survived so many trials. Bonello acted badly, but I have
since learned he is not implicated in this new confederation, although
his refusal may have been really perilous to his own safety, and this
deserves some consideration. I approve of your choice, Erwin, and wish
you every happiness; but the roads are unsafe, and I cannot now give
you the proper escort."

"The insurgents will respect my pilgrim's cape," replied the young man.

It was true, the pious spirit of this age forgot every party feeling in
presence of the crusader's staff, and even Frederic's hatred was
obliged to do this justice to his adversaries.

Rechberg left the Emperor to search for his faithful Gero. As he passed
through the palace he met a nobleman who was entering at the gates. It
was Heribert of Rapallo.

"Have you aught to lay before His Majesty, sir knight?" asked Rechberg.

"Yes, if you will assist me," replied Heribert, who was attracted by
the frank demeanor of our hero; "but I can find no one to present me to
him. I have already spoken fruitlessly to several persons, but it is
absolutely necessary that I communicate to the Emperor a message from
the lady of Castellamare. I must speak with him."

"The lady of Castellamare!" said Erwin, whose heart was beating
violently.

"As you are the only person who has shown me any courtesy, you shall
know the whole affair. Hermengarde, for so the lady is named, has been
betrothed for six years past to the Emperor's cousin, the famous Count
Erwin of Rechberg. But the Count went to Palestine, where, it is said,
he fell a victim to the Saracens; and Bonello, the lady's father, now
wishes her to choose another husband."

"And Hermengarde?" said Erwin, trembling.

"She will obey, provided the Count be really dead, but she still doubts
the fact."

The young man grew pale.

"Count Rechberg!" he spoke wildly as if he scarcely knew the import of
his words. "But I have heard of him; I think that I remember."

"Where then is he? does he live?" inquired Rapallo, with a voice of
mixed joy and sadness.

"He does live."

"God be thanked!"

"Do you know him who seeks Hermengarde's love?" asked Rechberg.

"It is I."

"And yet you would rejoice at the Count's safe return?"

"With all my heart! Hermengarde would have married me only through
obedience to her father's wishes."

"You are a noble heart," said Rechberg, taking the other's hand. "Yes,
Erwin of Rechberg still lives, and he stands before you now."

Heribert uttered an involuntary ejaculation of surprise and started
back; then he bowed respectfully.

"The Emperor's cousin is your friend for life," said Erwin; "it can
never be otherwise, after such noble self-devotion. Come with me to my
own apartments, for I have many questions to ask you."

On the next day they started with their retinue for Castellamare. The
journey was made without interruption, for although they encountered
many of the Lombard bands, Heribert's pass-words removed every
opposition. Erwin soon perceived that his companion belonged to the
League; but this circumstance in no way injured him in his
consideration. Although thoroughly loyal to his sovereign, Rechberg
could not approve of his system of government, and was obliged to admit
that the insurrection was by no means without cause. On the second day
they reached Castellamare, where joy knew no bounds, and the old
Bonello even wept with emotion.

A few months later, the marriage of the long betrothed couple took
place in the presence of all the nobility of the province.

Frederic succeeded in retreating into Germany; but he was no longer a
conqueror at the head of his army; he was a fugitive.

The catastrophe at Rome had annihilated all his plans, and the people
were convinced that God had interfered between him and the Church. His
partisans were discouraged and lost all influence; and he was at last
compelled to sue for a reconciliation with Alexander.

The meeting of the two sovereigns took place at Venice, where they
embraced, and swore a friendship which was never afterwards broken.

No longer guided by the pernicious counsels of his Chancellor, Frederic
attended to his duties, and abjured all his errors. He governed his
empire with energy and justice; and what he could not accomplish with
the Church against him, was an easy task as soon as he submitted to her
sway; within a few years he became the most powerful sovereign of the
world.

At last, at an advanced age, he left Germany for the Holy Land. But he
could not reach the goal which he sought, and on the very frontier of
Palestine, on the 10th of June, 1190, he found his death in the
freezing waters of the Cyanus.

The crusaders recovered his body, which they buried under the banner of
the cross, at Antioch.

Recalled to the presence of his God, in the fulfilment of a holy
enterprise, Barbarossa, we may hope, expiated the errors of his past
life, and was vouchsafed the forgiveness of his sins.



                                THE END.





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