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´╗┐Title: Quentin Durward
Author: Scott, Walter, Sir, 1771-1832
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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QUENTIN DURWARD


by Sir Walter Scott, Bart.



AUTHOR'S INTRODUCTION


The scene of this romance is laid in the fifteenth century, when the
feudal system, which had been the sinews and nerves of national defence,
and the spirit of chivalry, by which, as by a vivifying soul, that
system was animated, began to be innovated upon and abandoned by those
grosser characters who centred their sum of happiness in procuring the
personal objects on which they had fixed their own exclusive attachment.
The same egotism had indeed displayed itself even in more primitive
ages; but it was now for the first time openly avowed as a professed
principle of action. The spirit of chivalry had in it this point
of excellence, that, however overstrained and fantastic many of its
doctrines may appear to us, they were all founded on generosity and self
denial, of which, if the earth were deprived, it would be difficult to
conceive the existence of virtue among the human race.

Among those who were the first to ridicule and abandon the self denying
principles in which the young knight was instructed and to which he
was so carefully trained up, Louis XI of France was the chief. That
sovereign was of a character so purely selfish--so guiltless of
entertaining any purpose unconnected with his ambition, covetousness,
and desire of selfish enjoyment--that he almost seems an incarnation of
the devil himself, permitted to do his utmost to corrupt our ideas
of honour in its very source. Nor is it to be forgotten that Louis
possessed to a great extent that caustic wit which can turn into
ridicule all that a man does for any other person's advantage but his
own, and was, therefore, peculiarly qualified to play the part of a cold
hearted and sneering fiend.

The cruelties, the perjuries, the suspicions of this prince, were
rendered more detestable, rather than amended, by the gross and debasing
superstition which he constantly practised. The devotion to the heavenly
saints, of which he made such a parade, was upon the miserable principle
of some petty deputy in office, who endeavours to hide or atone for the
malversations of which he is conscious by liberal gifts to those whose
duty it is to observe his conduct, and endeavours to support a system of
fraud by an attempt to corrupt the incorruptible. In no other light can
we regard his creating the Virgin Mary a countess and colonel of his
guards, or the cunning that admitted to one or two peculiar forms of
oath the force of a binding obligation which he denied to all other,
strictly preserving the secret, which mode of swearing he really
accounted obligatory, as one of the most valuable of state mysteries.

To a total want of scruple, or, it would appear, of any sense whatever
of moral obligation, Louis XI added great natural firmness and sagacity
of character, with a system of policy so highly refined, considering the
times he lived in, that he sometimes overreached himself by giving way
to its dictates.

Probably there is no portrait so dark as to be without its softer
shades. He understood the interests of France, and faithfully pursued
them so long as he could identify them with his own. He carried the
country safe through the dangerous crisis of the war termed "for the
public good;" in thus disuniting and dispersing this grand and dangerous
alliance of the great crown vassals of France against the Sovereign, a
king of a less cautious and temporizing character, and of a more bold
and less crafty disposition than Louis XI, would, in all probability,
have failed. Louis had also some personal accomplishments not
inconsistent with his public character. He was cheerful and witty in
society; and none was better able to sustain and extol the superiority
of the coarse and selfish reasons by which he endeavoured to supply
those nobler motives for exertion which his predecessors had derived
from the high spirit of chivalry.

In fact, that system was now becoming ancient, and had, even while
in its perfection, something so overstrained and fantastic in its
principles, as rendered it peculiarly the object of ridicule, whenever,
like other old fashions, it began to fall out of repute; and the weapons
of raillery could be employed against it, without exciting the disgust
and horror with which they would have been rejected at an early period,
as a species of blasphemy. The principles of chivalry were cast aside,
and their aid supplied by baser stimulants. Instead of the high spirit
which pressed every man forward in the defence of his country, Louis
XI substituted the exertions of the ever ready mercenary soldier, and
persuaded his subjects, among whom the mercantile class began to make a
figure, that it was better to leave to mercenaries the risks and labours
of war, and to supply the Crown with the means of paying them, than to
peril themselves in defence of their own substance. The merchants were
easily persuaded by this reasoning. The hour did not arrive in the days
of Louis XI when the landed gentry and nobles could be in like manner
excluded from the ranks of war; but the wily monarch commenced that
system, which, acted upon by his successors, at length threw the whole
military defence of the state into the hands of the Crown.

He was equally forward in altering the principles which were wont to
regulate the intercourse of the sexes. The doctrines of chivalry had
established, in theory at least, a system in which Beauty was the
governing and remunerating divinity--Valour, her slave, who caught his
courage from her eye and gave his life for her slightest service. It is
true, the system here, as in other branches, was stretched to fantastic
extravagance, and cases of scandal not unfrequently arose. Still, they
were generally such as those mentioned by Burke, where frailty was
deprived of half its guilt, by being purified from all its grossness.
In Louis XI's practice, it was far otherwise. He was a low voluptuary,
seeking pleasure without sentiment, and despising the sex from whom he
desired to obtain it.... By selecting his favourites and ministers from
among the dregs of the people, Louis showed the slight regard which he
paid to eminent station and high birth; and although this might be
not only excusable but meritorious, where the monarch's fiat promoted
obscure talent, or called forth modest worth, it was very different when
the King made his favourite associates of such men as the chief of his
police, Tristan l'Hermite..

Nor were Louis's sayings and actions in private or public of a kind
which could redeem such gross offences against the character of a man
of honour. His word, generally accounted the most sacred test of a man's
character, and the least impeachment of which is a capital offence
by the code of honour, was forfeited without scruple on the slightest
occasion, and often accompanied by the perpetration of the most enormous
crimes... It is more than probable that, in thus renouncing almost
openly the ties of religion, honour, and morality, by which mankind
at large feel themselves influenced, Louis sought to obtain great
advantages in his negotiations with parties who might esteem themselves
bound, while he himself enjoyed liberty. He started from the goal, he
might suppose, like the racer who has got rid of the weights with which
his competitors are still encumbered, and expects to succeed of course.
But Providence seems always to unite the existence of peculiar danger
with some circumstance which may put those exposed to the peril upon
their guard. The constant suspicion attached to any public person who
becomes badly eminent for breach of faith is to him what the rattle is
to the poisonous serpent: and men come at last to calculate not so much
on what their antagonist says as upon that which he is likely to do;
a degree of mistrust which tends to counteract the intrigues of such a
character, more than his freedom from the scruples of conscientious men
can afford him advantage..

Indeed, although the reign of Louis had been as successful in a
political point of view as he himself could have desired, the spectacle
of his deathbed might of itself be a warning piece against the seduction
of his example. Jealous of every one, but chiefly of his own son,
he immured himself in his Castle of Plessis, intrusting his person
exclusively to the doubtful faith of his Scottish mercenaries. He never
stirred from his chamber; he admitted no one into it, and wearied heaven
and every saint with prayers, not for forgiveness of his sins, but
for the prolongation of his life. With a poverty of spirit totally
inconsistent with his shrewd worldly sagacity, he importuned his
physicians until they insulted as well as plundered him..

It was not the least singular circumstance of this course, that bodily
health and terrestrial felicity seemed to be his only object. Making
any mention of his sins when talking on the state of his health, was
strictly prohibited; and when at his command a priest recited a prayer
to Saint Eutropius in which he recommended the King's welfare both in
body and soul, Louis caused the two last words to be omitted, saying it
was not prudent to importune the blessed saint by too many requests at
once. Perhaps he thought by being silent on his crimes he might suffer
them to pass out of the recollection of the celestial patrons, whose aid
he invoked for his body.

So great were the well merited tortures of this tyrant's deathbed, that
Philip de Comines enters into a regular comparison between them and the
numerous cruelties inflicted on others by his order; and considering
both, comes to express an opinion that the worldly pangs and agony
suffered by Louis were such as might compensate the crimes he had
committed, and that, after a reasonable quarantine in purgatory, he
might in mercy he found duly qualified for the superior regions...
The instructive but appalling scene of this tyrant's sufferings was at
length closed by death, 30th August, 1483.

The selection of this remarkable person as the principal character in
the romance--for it will be easily comprehended that the little love
intrigue of Quentin is only employed as the means of bringing out the
story--afforded considerable facilities to the author. In Louis XI's
time, extraordinary commotions existed throughout all Europe. England's
Civil Wars were ended, rather in appearance than reality, by the short
lived ascendancy of the House of York. Switzerland was asserting that
freedom which was afterwards so bravely defended. In the Empire and in
France, the great vassals of the crown were endeavouring to emancipate
themselves from its control, while Charles of Burgundy by main force,
and Louis more artfully by indirect means, laboured to subject them to
subservience to their respective sovereignties. Louis, while with one
hand he circumvented and subdued his own rebellious vassals, laboured
secretly with the other to aid and encourage the large trading towns of
Flanders to rebel against the Duke of Burgundy, to which their wealth
and irritability naturally disposed them. In the more woodland districts
of Flanders, the Duke of Gueldres, and William de la Marck, called from
his ferocity the Wild Boar of Ardennes, were throwing off the habits
of knights and gentlemen to practise the violences and brutalities of
common bandits.

[Chapter I gives a further account of the conditions of the period which
Quentin Durward portrays.]

A hundred secret combinations existed in the different provinces of
France and Flanders; numerous private emissaries of the restless
Louis, Bohemians, pilgrims, beggars, or agents disguised as such, were
everywhere spreading the discontent which it was his policy to maintain
in the dominions of Burgundy.

Amidst so great an abundance of materials, it was difficult to select
such as should be most intelligible and interesting to the reader: and
the author had to regret, that though he made liberal use of the power
of departing from the reality of history, he felt by no means confident
of having brought his story into a pleasing, compact, and sufficiently
intelligible form. The mainspring of the plot is that which all who know
the least of the feudal system can easily understand, though the facts
are absolutely fictitious. The right of a feudal superior was in nothing
more universally acknowledged than in his power to interfere in the
marriage of a female vassal. This may appear to exist as a contradiction
both of the civil and canon laws, which declare that marriage shall be
free, while the feudal or municipal jurisprudence, in case of a fief
passing to a female, acknowledges an interest in the superior of
the fief to dictate the choice of her companion in marriage. This is
accounted for on the principle that the superior was, by his bounty, the
original granter of the fief, and is still interested that the marriage
of the vassal shall place no one there who may be inimical to his liege
lord. On the other hand, it might be reasonably pleaded that this
right of dictating to the vassal to a certain extent in the choice of
a husband, is only competent to the superior from whom the fief is
originally derived. There is therefore no violent improbability in a
vassal of Burgundy flying to the protection of the King of France, to
whom the Duke of Burgundy himself was vassal; not is it a great stretch
of probability to affirm that Louis, unscrupulous as he was, should have
formed the design of betraying the fugitive into some alliance which
might prove inconvenient, if not dangerous, to his formidable kinsman
and vassal of Burgundy.

[Some of these departures from historical accuracy, as when the death
of the Bishop of Liege is antedated, are duly set forth in the notes.
It should be mentioned that Mr. J. F. Kirk, in his elaborate History of
Charles the Bold, claims that in some points injustice has been done
to the Duke in this romance. He says: "The faults of Charles were
sufficiently glaring, and scarcely admitted of exaggeration; but his
breeding had been that of a prince, his education had been better than
that of other princes of his time, his tastes and habits were more, not
less, refined than theirs, and the restraint he imposed upon his sensual
appetites was as conspicuous a trait as his sternness and violence."]

Abbotsford, 1830.



Quentin Durward was published in June, 1823, and was Scott's first
venture on foreign ground. While well received at home, the sensation
it created in Paris was comparable to that caused by the appearance of
Waverley in Edinburgh and Ivanhoe in London. In Germany also, where the
author was already popular, the new novel had a specially enthusiastic
welcome. The scene of the romance was partly suggested by a journal
kept by Sir Walter's dear friend, Mr. James Skene of Rubislaw, during
a French tour, the diary being illustrated by a vast number of clever
drawings. The author, in telling this tale laid in unfamiliar scenes,
encountered difficulties of a kind quite new to him, as it necessitated
much study of maps, gazetteers, and books of travel. For the history,
he naturally found above all else the Memoirs of Philip de Comines "the
very key of the period," though it need not be said that the lesser
chroniclers received due attention. It is interesting to note that in
writing to his friend, Daniel Terry, the actor and manager, Scott says,
"I have no idea my present labours will be dramatic in situation; as to
character, that of Louis XI, the sagacious, perfidious, superstitious,
jocular, politic tyrant, would be, for a historical chronicle containing
his life and death, one of the most powerful ever brought on the stage."
So thought the poet, Casimir Delavigne--writing when Scott's influence
was marked upon French literature--whose powerful drama, Louis XI, was
a great Parisian success. Later Charles Kean and Henry Irving made an
English version of it well known in England and America.



CHAPTER I: THE CONTRAST

     Look here upon this picture, and on this,
     The counterfeit presentment of two brothers.

     HAMLET


The latter part of the fifteenth century prepared a train of future
events that ended by raising France to that state of formidable power
which has ever since been from time to time the principal object of
jealousy to the other European nations. Before that period she had to
struggle for her very existence with the English already possessed of
her fairest provinces while the utmost exertions of her King, and the
gallantry of her people, could scarcely protect the remainder from a
foreign yoke. Nor was this her sole danger. The princes who possessed
the grand fiefs of the crown, and, in particular, the Dukes of Burgundy
and Bretagne, had come to wear their feudal bonds so lightly that they
had no scruple in lifting the standard against their liege and sovereign
lord, the King of France, on the slightest pretence. When at peace, they
reigned as absolute princes in their own provinces; and the House of
Burgundy, possessed of the district so called, together with the fairest
and richest part of Flanders, was itself so wealthy, and so powerful, as
to yield nothing to the crown, either in splendour or in strength.

In imitation of the grand feudatories, each inferior vassal of the crown
assumed as much independence as his distance from the sovereign power,
the extent of his fief, or the strength of his chateau enabled him to
maintain; and these petty tyrants, no longer amenable to the exercise
of the law, perpetrated with impunity the wildest excesses of fantastic
oppression and cruelty. In Auvergne alone, a report was made of more
than three hundred of these independent nobles, to whom incest, murder,
and rapine were the most ordinary and familiar actions.

Besides these evils, another, springing out of the long continued wars
betwixt the French and English, added no small misery to this distracted
kingdom. Numerous bodies of soldiers, collected into bands, under
officers chosen by themselves, from among the bravest and most
successful adventurers, had been formed in various parts of France out
of the refuse of all other countries. These hireling combatants sold
their swords for a time to the best bidder; and, when such service was
not to be had, they made war on their own account, seizing castles
and towers, which they used as the places of their retreat, making
prisoners, and ransoming them, exacting tribute from the open villages
and the country around them--and acquiring, by every species of rapine,
the appropriate epithets of Tondeurs and Ecorcheurs, that is, Clippers
and Flayers.

In the midst of the horrors and miseries arising from so distracted a
state of public affairs, reckless and profuse expense distinguished the
courts of the lesser nobles, as well as of the superior princes; and
their dependents, in imitation, expended in rude but magnificent display
the wealth which they extorted from the people. A tone of romantic and
chivalrous gallantry (which, however, was often disgraced by unbounded
license) characterized the intercourse between the sexes; and the
language of knight errantry was yet used, and its observances followed,
though the pure spirit of honourable love and benevolent enterprise
which it inculcates had ceased to qualify and atone for its
extravagances. The jousts and tournaments, the entertainments and
revels, which each petty court displayed, invited to France every
wandering adventurer; and it was seldom that, when arrived there, he
failed to employ his rash courage, and headlong spirit of enterprise, in
actions for which his happier native country afforded no free stage.

At this period, and as if to save this fair realm from the various woes
with which it was menaced, the tottering throne was ascended by Louis
XI, whose character, evil as it was in itself, met, combated, and in
a great degree neutralized the mischiefs of the time--as poisons of
opposing qualities are said, in ancient books of medicine, to have the
power of counteracting each other.

Brave enough for every useful and political purpose, Louis had not a
spark of that romantic valour, or of the pride generally associated with
it, which fought on for the point of honour, when the point of utility
had been long gained. Calm, crafty, and profoundly attentive to his
own interest, he made every sacrifice, both of pride and passion,
which could interfere with it. He was careful in disguising his real
sentiments and purposes from all who approached him, and frequently used
the expressions, "that the king knew not how to reign, who knew not how
to dissemble; and that, for himself, if he thought his very cap knew his
secrets, he would throw it into the fire." No man of his own, or of any
other time, better understood how to avail himself of the frailties
of others, and when to avoid giving any advantage by the untimely
indulgence of his own.

He was by nature vindictive and cruel, even to the extent of finding
pleasure in the frequent executions which he commanded. But, as no touch
of mercy ever induced him to spare, when he could with safety condemn,
so no sentiment of vengeance ever stimulated him to a premature
violence. He seldom sprang on his prey till it was fairly within his
grasp, and till all hope of rescue was vain; and his movements were
so studiously disguised, that his success was generally what first
announced to the world the object he had been manoeuvring to attain.

In like manner, the avarice of Louis gave way to apparent profusion,
when it was necessary to bribe the favourite or minister of a rival
prince for averting any impending attack, or to break up any alliance
confederated against him. He was fond of license and pleasure; but
neither beauty nor the chase, though both were ruling passions, ever
withdrew him from the most regular attendance to public business and the
affairs of his kingdom. His knowledge of mankind was profound, and he
had sought it in the private walks of life, in which he often personally
mingled; and, though naturally proud and haughty, he hesitated not,
with an inattention to the arbitrary divisions of society which was then
thought something portentously unnatural, to raise from the lowest rank
men whom he employed on the most important duties, and knew so well how
to choose them, that he was rarely disappointed in their qualities.
Yet there were contradictions in the character of this artful and able
monarch; for human nature is rarely uniform. Himself the most false and
insincere of mankind, some of the greatest errors of his life arose from
too rash a confidence in the honour and integrity of others. When these
errors took place, they seem to have arisen from an over refined system
of policy, which induced Louis to assume the appearance of undoubting
confidence in those whom it was his object to overreach; for, in his
general conduct, he was as jealous and suspicious as any tyrant who ever
breathed.

Two other points may be noticed to complete the sketch of this
formidable character, by which he rose among the rude, chivalrous
sovereigns of the period to the rank of a keeper among wild beasts,
who, by superior wisdom and policy, by distribution of food, and some
discipline by blows, comes finally to predominate over those who, if
unsubjected by his arts, would by main strength have torn him to pieces.

The first of these attributes was Louis's excessive superstition, a
plague with which Heaven often afflicts those who refuse to listen to
the dictates of religion. The remorse arising from his evil
actions Louis never endeavoured to appease by any relaxation in his
Machiavellian stratagems [on account of the alleged political immorality
of Machiavelli, an illustrious Italian of the sixteenth century, this
expression has come to mean "destitute of political morality; habitually
using duplicity and bad faith." Cent. Dict.], but laboured in vain to
soothe and silence that painful feeling by superstitious observances,
severe penance, and profuse gifts to the ecclesiastics. The second
property, with which the first is sometimes found strangely united, was
a disposition to low pleasures and obscure debauchery. The wisest, or
at least the most crafty sovereign of his time, he was fond of low life,
and, being himself a man of wit, enjoyed the jests and repartees of
social conversation more than could have been expected from other points
of his character. He even mingled in the comic adventures of obscure
intrigue, with a freedom little consistent with the habitual and guarded
jealousy of his character, and he was so fond of this species of humble
gallantry, that he caused a number of its gay and licentious anecdotes
to be enrolled in a collection well known to book collectors, in whose
eyes (and the work is unfit for any other) the right edition is very
precious.

[This editio princeps, which, when in good preservation, is much
sought after by connoisseurs, is entitled Les Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles,
contenant Cent Histoires Nouveaux, qui sont moult plaisans a raconter
en toutes bonnes compagnies par maniere de joyeuxete. Paris, Antoine
Verard. Sans date d'annee d'impression; en folio gotique. See De Bure.
S]

By means of this monarch's powerful and prudent, though most unamiable
character, it pleased Heaven, who works by the tempest as well as by the
soft, small rain, to restore to the great French nation the benefits of
civil government, which, at the time of his accession, they had nearly
lost.

Ere he succeeded to the crown, Louis had given evidence of his vices
rather than of his talents. His first wife, Margaret of Scotland, was
"done to death by slanderous tongues" in her husband's court, where,
but for the encouragement of Louis himself, not a word would have been
breathed against that amiable and injured princess. He had been an
ungrateful and a rebellious son, at one time conspiring to seize his
father's person, and at another levying open war against him. For the
first offence, he was banished to his appanage of Dauphine, which he
governed with much sagacity; for the second he was driven into absolute
exile, and forced to throw himself on the mercy, and almost on
the charity, of the Duke of Burgundy and his son; where he enjoyed
hospitality, afterwards indifferently requited, until the death of his
father in 1461.

In the very outset of his reign, Louis was almost overpowered by a
league formed against him by the great vassals of France, with the Duke
of Burgundy, or rather his son, the Count de Charalois, at its head.
They levied a powerful army, blockaded Paris, fought a battle of
doubtful issue under its very walls, and placed the French monarchy on
the brink of actual destruction. It usually happens in such cases,
that the more sagacious general of the two gains the real fruit, though
perhaps not the martial fame, of the disputed field. Louis, who had
shown great personal bravery during the battle of Montl'hery, was able,
by his prudence, to avail himself of its undecided character, as if it
had been a victory on his side. He temporized until the enemy had broken
up their leaguer, and showed so much dexterity in sowing jealousies
among those great powers, that their alliance "for the public weal," as
they termed it, but in reality for the overthrow of all but the external
appearance of the French monarchy, dissolved itself, and was never again
renewed in a manner so formidable. From this period, Louis, relieved
of all danger from England by the Civil Wars of York and Lancaster,
was engaged for several years, like an unfeeling but able physician,
in curing the wounds of the body politic, or rather in stopping, now by
gentle remedies, now by the use of fire and steel, the progress of those
mortal gangrenes with which it was then infected. The brigandage of the
Free Companies [troops that acknowledged no authority except that of
their leaders, and who hired themselves out at will], and the unpunished
oppression of the nobility, he laboured to lessen, since he could not
actually stop them; and, by dint of unrelaxed attention, he gradually
gained some addition to his own regal authority, or effected some
diminution of those by whom it was counterbalanced.

Still the King of France was surrounded by doubt and danger. The members
of the league "for the public weal," though not in unison, were in
existence, and, like a scotched snake [see Macbeth. III, ii, 13, "We
have scotch'd the snake, not kill'd it."], might reunite and become
dangerous again. But a worse danger was the increasing power of the
Duke of Burgundy, then one of the greatest princes of Europe, and little
diminished in rank by the very slight dependence of his duchy upon the
crown of France.

Charles, surnamed the Bold, or rather, the Audacious, for his courage
was allied to rashness and frenzy, then wore the ducal coronet of
Burgundy, which he burned to convert into a royal and independent
regal crown. The character of this Duke was in every respect the direct
contrast to that of Louis XI.

The latter was calm, deliberate, and crafty, never prosecuting a
desperate enterprise, and never abandoning one likely to be successful,
however distant the prospect. The genius of the Duke was entirely
different. He rushed on danger because he loved it, and on difficulties
because he despised them. As Louis never sacrificed his interest to his
passion, so Charles, on the other hand, never sacrificed his passion,
or even his humour, to any other consideration. Notwithstanding the near
relationship that existed between them, and the support which the Duke
and his father had afforded to Louis in his exile when Dauphin, there
was mutual contempt and hatred betwixt them. The Duke of Burgundy
despised the cautious policy of the King, and imputed to the faintness
of his courage that he sought by leagues, purchases, and other indirect
means those advantages which, in his place, the Duke would have snatched
with an armed hand. He likewise hated the King, not only for the
ingratitude he had manifested for former kindnesses, and for personal
injuries and imputations which the ambassadors of Louis had cast upon
him, when his father was yet alive, but also, and especially, because of
the support which he afforded in secret to the discontented citizens of
Ghent, Liege, and other great towns in Flanders. These turbulent cities,
jealous of their privileges, and proud of their wealth, were frequently
in a state of insurrection against their liege lords, the Dukes of
Burgundy, and never failed to find underhand countenance at the court
of Louis, who embraced every opportunity of fomenting disturbance within
the dominions of his overgrown vassal.

The contempt and hatred of the Duke were retaliated by Louis with equal
energy, though he used a thicker veil to conceal his sentiments. It
was impossible for a man of his profound sagacity not to despise the
stubborn obstinacy which never resigned its purpose, however fatal
perseverance might prove, and the headlong impetuosity which commenced
its career without allowing a moment's consideration for the obstacles
to be encountered. Yet the King hated Charles even more than he
contemned him, and his scorn and hatred were the more intense, that they
were mingled with fear; for he know that the onset of the mad bull, to
whom he likened the Duke of Burgundy, must ever be formidable, though
the animal makes it with shut eyes. It was not alone the wealth of the
Burgundian provinces, the discipline of the warlike inhabitants, and
the mass of their crowded population, which the King dreaded, for
the personal qualities of their leader had also much in them that was
dangerous. The very soul of bravery, which he pushed to the verge of
rashness, and beyond it--profuse in expenditure--splendid in his court,
his person, and his retinue, in all which he displayed the hereditary
magnificence of the house of Burgundy, Charles the Bold drew into his
service almost all the fiery spirits of the age whose tempers were
congenial; and Louis saw too clearly what might be attempted and
executed by such a train of resolute adventurers, following a leader of
a character as ungovernable as their own.

There was yet another circumstance which increased the animosity of
Louis towards his overgrown vassal; he owed him favours which he never
meant to repay, and was under the frequent necessity of temporizing with
him, and even of enduring bursts of petulant insolence, injurious to
the regal dignity, without being able to treat him otherwise than as his
"fair cousin of Burgundy."

It was about the year 1468, when their feuds were at the highest, though
a dubious and hollow truce, as frequently happened, existed for the
time betwixt them, that the present narrative opens. The person first
introduced on the stage will be found indeed to be of a rank and
condition, the illustration of whose character scarcely called for a
dissertation on the relative position of two great princes; but the
passions of the great, their quarrels, and their reconciliations
involve the fortunes of all who approach them; and it will be found,
on proceeding farther in our story, that this preliminary chapter
is necessary for comprehending the history of the individual whose
adventures we are about to relate.



CHAPTER II: THE WANDERER

     Why then the world's mine oyster, which I with sword will open.

     ANCIENT PISTOL


It was upon a delicious summer morning, before the sun had assumed its
scorching power, and while the dews yet cooled and perfumed the air,
that a youth, coming from the northeastward approached the ford of a
small river, or rather a large brook, tributary to the Cher, near to the
royal Castle of Plessis les Tours, whose dark and multiplied battlements
rose in the background over the extensive forest with which they were
surrounded. These woodlands comprised a noble chase, or royal park,
fenced by an enclosure, termed, in the Latin of the middle ages,
Plexitium, which gives the name of Plessis to so many villages in
France. The castle and village of which we particularly speak, was
called Plessis les Tours, to distinguish it from others, and was built
about two miles to the southward of the fair town of that name, the
capital of ancient Touraine, whose rich plain has been termed the Garden
of France.

On the bank of the above mentioned brook, opposite to that which the
traveller was approaching, two men, who appeared in deep conversation,
seemed, from time to time, to watch his motions; for, as their station
was much more elevated, they could remark him at considerable distance.

The age of the young traveller might be about nineteen, or betwixt that
and twenty; and his face and person, which were very prepossessing, did
not, however, belong to the country in which he was now a sojourner. His
short gray cloak and hose were rather of Flemish than of French fashion,
while the smart blue bonnet, with a single sprig of holly and an eagle's
feather, was already recognized as the Scottish head gear. His dress
was very neat, and arranged with the precision of a youth conscious of
possessing a fine person. He had at his back a satchel, which seemed to
contain a few necessaries, a hawking gauntlet on his left hand, though
he carried no bird, and in his right a stout hunter's pole. Over his
left shoulder hung an embroidered scarf which sustained a small pouch of
scarlet velvet, such as was then used by fowlers of distinction to carry
their hawks' food, and other matters belonging to that much admired
sport. This was crossed by another shoulder belt, to which was hung a
hunting knife, or couteau de chasse. Instead of the boots of the period,
he wore buskins of half dressed deer's skin.

Although his form had not yet attained its full strength, he was tall
and active, and the lightness of the step with which he advanced, showed
that his pedestrian mode of travelling was pleasure rather than pain to
him. His complexion was fair, in spite of a general shade of darker
hue, with which the foreign sun, or perhaps constant exposure to the
atmosphere in his own country, had, in some degree, embrowned it.

His features, without being quite regular, were frank, open, and
pleasing. A half smile, which seemed to arise from a happy exuberance of
animal spirits, showed now and then that his teeth were well set, and as
pure as ivory; whilst his bright blue eye, with a corresponding gaiety,
had an appropriate glance for every object which it encountered,
expressing good humour, lightness of heart, and determined resolution.

He received and returned the salutation of the few travellers who
frequented the road in those dangerous times with the action which
suited each. The strolling spearman, half soldier, half brigand,
measured the youth with his eye, as if balancing the prospect of booty
with the chance of desperate resistance; and read such indications of
the latter in the fearless glance of the passenger, that he changed his
ruffian purpose for a surly "Good morrow, comrade," which the young
Scot answered with as martial, though a less sullen tone. The wandering
pilgrim, or the begging friar, answered his reverent greeting with
a paternal benedicite [equivalent to the English expression, "Bless
you."]; and the dark eyed peasant girl looked after him for many a
step after they had passed each other, and interchanged a laughing good
morrow. In short, there was an attraction about his whole appearance not
easily escaping attention, and which was derived from the combination of
fearless frankness and good humour, with sprightly looks and a handsome
face and person. It seemed, too, as if his whole demeanour bespoke one
who was entering on life with no apprehension of the evils with which
it is beset, and small means for struggling with its hardships, except a
lively spirit and a courageous disposition; and it is with such tempers
that youth most readily sympathizes, and for whom chiefly age and
experience feel affectionate and pitying interest.

The youth whom we have described had been long visible to the two
persons who loitered on the opposite side of the small river which
divided him from the park and the castle; but as he descended the rugged
bank to the water's edge, with the light step of a roe which visits the
fountain, the younger of the two said to the other, "It is our man--it
is the Bohemian! If he attempts to cross the ford, he is a lost man--the
water is up, and the ford impassable."

"Let him make that discovery himself, gossip [an intimate friend or
companion (obsolete)]," said the elder personage; "it may, perchance,
save a rope and break a proverb [refers to the old saw, 'Who is born to
be hanged will never be drowned.']."

"I judge him by the blue cap," said the other, "for I cannot see his
face. Hark, sir; he hallooes to know whether the water be deep."

"Nothing like experience in this world," answered the other, "let him
try."

The young man, in the meanwhile, receiving no hint to the contrary, and
taking the silence of those to whom he applied as an encouragement to
proceed, entered the stream without farther hesitation than the delay
necessary to take off his buskins. The elder person, at the same moment,
hallooed to him to beware, adding, in a lower tone, to his companion,
"Mortdieu--gossip--you have made another mistake--this is not the
Bohemian chatterer."

But the intimation to the youth came too late. He either did not hear
or could not profit by it, being already in the deep stream. To one less
alert and practised in the exercise of swimming, death had been certain,
for the brook was both deep and strong.

"By Saint Anne! but he is a proper youth," said the elder man. "Run,
gossip, and help your blunder, by giving him aid, if thou canst. He
belongs to thine own troop--if old saws speak truth, water will not
drown him."

Indeed, the young traveller swam so strongly, and buffeted the waves so
well, that, notwithstanding the strength of the current, he was carried
but a little way down from the ordinary landing place.

By this time the younger of the two strangers was hurrying down to the
shore to render assistance, while the other followed him at a graver
pace, saying to himself as he approached, "I knew water would never
drown that young fellow.--By my halidome [originally something regarded
as sacred, as a relic; formerly much used in solemn oaths], he is
ashore, and grasps his pole!--If I make not the more haste, he will beat
my gossip for the only charitable action which I ever saw him perform,
or attempt to perform, in the whole course of his life."

There was some reason to augur such a conclusion of the adventure,
for the bonny Scot had already accosted the younger Samaritan, who was
hastening to his assistance, with these ireful words: "Discourteous dog!
why did you not answer when I called to know if the passage was fit
to be attempted? May the foul fiend catch me, but I will teach you the
respect due to strangers on the next occasion."

This was accompanied with that significant flourish with his pole which
is called le moulinet, because the artist, holding it in the middle,
brandishes the two ends in every direction like the sails of a windmill
in motion. His opponent, seeing himself thus menaced, laid hand upon his
sword, for he was one of those who on all occasions are more ready for
action than for speech; but his more considerate comrade, who came up,
commanded him to forbear, and, turning to the young man, accused him
in turn of precipitation in plunging into the swollen ford, and of
intemperate violence in quarrelling with a man who was hastening to his
assistance.

The young man, on hearing himself thus reproved by a man of advanced age
and respectable appearance, immediately lowered his weapon, and said
he would be sorry if he had done them injustice; but, in reality, it
appeared to him as if they had suffered him to put his life in peril
for want of a word of timely warning, which could be the part neither
of honest men nor of good Christians, far less of respectable burgesses,
such as they seemed to be.

"Fair son," said the elder person, "you seem, from your accent and
complexion, a stranger; and you should recollect your dialect is not so
easily comprehended by us; as perhaps it may be uttered by you."

"Well, father," answered the youth, "I do not care much about the
ducking I have had, and I will readily forgive your being partly the
cause, provided you will direct me to some place where I can have my
clothes dried; for it is my only suit, and I must keep it somewhat
decent."

"For whom do you take us, fair son?" said the elder stranger, in answer
to this question.

"For substantial burgesses, unquestionably," said the youth; "or--hold;
you, master, may be a money broker, or a corn merchant; and this man a
butcher, or grazier."

"You have hit our capacities rarely," said the elder, smiling. "My
business is indeed to trade in as much money as I can and my gossip's
dealings are somewhat of kin to the butcher's. As to your accommodation
we will try to serve you; but I must first know who you are, and whither
you are going, for, in these times, the roads are filled with travellers
on foot and horseback, who have anything in their head but honesty and
the fear of God."

The young man cast another keen and penetrating glance on him who spoke,
and on his silent companion, as if doubtful whether they, on their part,
merited the confidence they demanded; and the result of his observation
was as follows.

The eldest and most remarkable of these men in dress and appearance,
resembled the merchant or shopkeeper of the period. His jerkin, hose,
and cloak were of a dark uniform colour, but worn so threadbare that the
acute young Scot conceived that the wearer must be either very rich or
very poor, probably the former. The fashion of the dress was close and
short, a kind of garment which was not then held decorous among gentry,
or even the superior class of citizens, who generally wore loose gowns
which descended below the middle of the leg.

The expression of this man's countenance was partly attractive and
partly forbidding. His strong features, sunk cheeks, and hollow eyes
had, nevertheless, an expression of shrewdness and humour congenial to
the character of the young adventurer. But then, those same sunken eyes,
from under the shroud of thick black eyebrows, had something in them
that was at once commanding and sinister. Perhaps this effect was
increased by the low fur cap, much depressed on the forehead, and adding
to the shade from under which those eyes peered out; but it is certain
that the young stranger had some difficulty to reconcile his looks
with the meanness of his appearance in other respects. His cap, in
particular, in which all men of any quality displayed either a brooch of
gold or of silver, was ornamented with a paltry image of the Virgin, in
lead, such as the poorer sort of pilgrims bring from Loretto [a city
in Italy, containing the sanctuary of the Virgin Mary called the Santa
Casa, reputed to have been brought there by angels.].

His comrade was a stout formed, middle sized man, more than ten years
younger than his companion, with a down looking visage and a very
ominous smile, when by chance he gave way to that impulse, which was
never, except in reply to certain secret signs that seemed to pass
between him and the elder stranger. This man was armed with a sword and
dagger; and underneath his plain habit the Scotsman observed that he
concealed a jazeran, or flexible shirt of linked mail, which, as being
often worn by those, even of peaceful professions, who were called upon
at that perilous period to be frequently abroad, confirmed the young man
in his conjecture that the wearer was by profession a butcher, grazier,
or something of that description, called upon to be much abroad.
The young stranger, comprehending in one glance the result of the
observation which has taken us some time to express, answered, after a
moment's pause, "I am ignorant whom I may have the honour to address,"
making a slight reverence at the same time, "but I am indifferent who
knows that I am a cadet of Scotland; and that I come to seek my fortune
in France, or elsewhere, after the custom of my countrymen."

"Pasques dieu! and a gallant custom it is," said the elder stranger.
"You seem a fine young springald, and at the right age to prosper,
whether among men or women. What say you? I am a merchant, and want a
lad to assist in my traffic; I suppose you are too much a gentleman to
assist in such mechanical drudgery?"

"Fair sir," said the youth, "if your offer be seriously made--of which
I have my doubts--I am bound to thank you for it, and I thank you
accordingly; but I fear I should be altogether unfit for your service."

"What!" said the senior, "I warrant thou knowest better how to draw
the bow, than how to draw a bill of charges--canst handle a broadsword
better than a pen--ha!"

"I am, master," answered the young Scot, "a braeman, and therefore, as
we say, a bowman. But besides that, I have been in a convent, where the
good fathers taught me to read and write, and even to cipher."

"Pasques dieu! that is too magnificent," said the merchant. "By our Lady
of Embrun [a town in France containing a cathedral in which was a wooden
statue of the Virgin Mary, said to have been sculptured by St. Luke],
thou art a prodigy, man!"

"Rest you merry, fair master," said the youth, who was not much pleased
with his new acquaintance's jocularity, "I must go dry myself, instead
of standing dripping here, answering questions."

The merchant only laughed louder as he spoke, and answered, "Pasques
dieu! the proverb never fails--fier comme un Ecossois [proud or haughty
as a Scotchman]--but come, youngster, you are of a country I have a
regard for, having traded in Scotland in my time--an honest poor set
of folks they are; and, if you will come with us to the village, I will
bestow on you a cup of burnt sack and a warm breakfast, to atone for
your drenching.--But tete bleau! what do you with a hunting glove on
your hand? Know you not there is no hawking permitted in a royal chase?"

"I was taught that lesson," answered the youth, "by a rascally forester
of the Duke of Burgundy. I did but fly the falcon I had brought with me
from Scotland, and that I reckoned on for bringing me into some note, at
a heron near Peronne, and the rascally schelm [rogue, rascal (obsolete
or Scotch)] shot my bird with an arrow."

"What did you do?" said the merchant.

"Beat him," said the youngster, brandishing his staff, "as near to death
as one Christian man should belabour another--I wanted not to have his
blood to answer for."

"Know you," said the burgess, "that had you fallen into the Duke of
Burgundy's hands, he would have hung you up like a chestnut?"

"Ay, I am told he is as prompt as the King of France for that sort
of work. But, as this happened near Peronne, I made a leap over the
frontiers, and laughed at him. If he had not been so hasty, I might,
perhaps, have taken service with him."

"He will have a heavy miss of such a paladin as you are, if the truce
should break off," said the merchant, and threw a look at his own
companion, who answered him with one of the downcast lowering smiles
which gleamed along his countenance, enlivening it as a passing meteor
enlivens a winter sky.

The young Scot suddenly stopped, pulled his bonnet over his right
eyebrow, as one that would not be ridiculed, and said firmly, "My
masters, and especially you, sir, the elder, and who should be the
wiser, you will find, I presume, no sound or safe jesting at my expense.
I do not altogether like the tone of your conversation. I can take a
jest with any man, and a rebuke, too, from my elder, and say thank you,
sir, if I know it to be deserved; but I do not like being borne in
hand as if I were a child, when, God wot, I find myself man enough to
belabour you both, if you provoke me too far."

The eldest man seemed like to choke with laughter at the lad's
demeanour--his companion's hand stole to his sword hilt, which the youth
observing, dealt him a blow across the wrist, which made him incapable
of grasping it, while his companion's mirth was only increased by the
incident.

"Hold, hold," he cried, "most doughty Scot, even for thine own
dear country's sake, and you, gossip, forbear your menacing look.
Pasques-dieu! let us be just traders, and set off the wetting against
the knock on the wrist, which was given with so much grace and
alacrity.--And hark ye, my young friend," he said to the young man, with
a grave sternness which, in spite of all the youth could do, damped
and overawed him, "no more violence. I am no fit object for it, and my
gossip, as you may see, has had enough of it. Let me know your name."

"I can answer a civil question civilly," said the youth; "and will
pay fitting respect to your age, if you do not urge my patience with
mockery. Since I have been here in France and Flanders, men have called
me, in their fantasy, the Varlet with the Velvet Pouch, because of this
hawk purse which I carry by my side; but my true name, when at home, is
Quentin Durward."

"Durward!" said the querist; "is it a gentleman's name?"

"By fifteen descents in our family," said the young man; "and that makes
me reluctant to follow any other trade than arms."

"A true Scot! Plenty of blood, plenty of pride, and right great scarcity
of ducats, I warrant thee.--Well, gossip," he said to his companion,
"go before us, and tell them to have some breakfast ready yonder at the
Mulberry grove; for this youth will do as much honour to it as a starved
mouse to a housewife's cheese. And for the Bohemian--hark in thy ear."

His comrade answered by a gloomy but intelligent smile, and set forward
at a round pace, while the elder man continued, addressing young
Durward, "You and I will walk leisurely forward together, and we may
take a mass at Saint Hubert's Chapel in our way through the forest; for
it is not good to think of our fleshly before our spiritual wants."

[This silvan saint... was passionately fond of the chase, and used to
neglect attendance on divine worship for this amusement. While he was
once engaged in this pastime, a stag appeared before him, having a
crucifix bound betwixt his horns, and he heard a voice which menaced
him with eternal punishment if he did not repent of his sins. He retired
from the world and took orders... Hubert afterwards became Bishop of
Maestrecht and Liege. S.]

Durward, as a good Catholic, had nothing to object against this
proposal, although he might probably have been desirous, in the first
place; to have dried his clothes and refreshed himself. Meanwhile, they
soon lost sight of their downward looking companion, but continued to
follow the same path which he had taken, until it led them into a wood
of tall trees, mixed with thickets and brushwood, traversed by long
avenues, through which were seen, as through a vista, the deer
trotting in little herds with a degree of security which argued their
consciousness of being completely protected.

"You asked me if I were a good bowman," said the young Scot. "Give me
a bow and a brace of shafts, and you shall have a piece of venison in a
moment."

"Pasques dieu! my young friend," said his companion, "take care of that;
my gossip yonder hath a special eye to the deer; they are under his
charge, and he is a strict keeper."

"He hath more the air of a butcher than of a gay forester," answered
Durward. "I cannot think yon hang dog look of his belongs to any one who
knows the gentle rules of woodcraft."

"Ah, my young friend," answered his companion, "my gossip hath
somewhat an ugly favour to look upon at the first; but those who become
acquainted with him never are known to complain of him."

Quentin Durward found something singularly and disagreeably significant
in the tone with which this was spoken; and, looking suddenly at the
speaker, thought he saw in his countenance, in the slight smile that
curled his upper lip, and the accompanying twinkle of his keen dark eye,
something to justify his unpleasing surprise. "I have heard of robbers,"
he thought to himself, "and of wily cheats and cutthroats--what if
yonder fellow be a murderer, and this old rascal his decoy duck! I will
be on my guard--they will get little by me but good Scottish knocks."

While he was thus reflecting, they came to a glade, where the large
forest trees were more widely separated from each other, and where the
ground beneath, cleared of underwood and bushes, was clothed with a
carpet of the softest and most lovely verdure, which, screened from the
scorching heat of the sun, was here more beautifully tender than it
is usually to be seen in France. The trees in this secluded spot were
chiefly beeches and elms of huge magnitude, which rose like great hills
of leaves into the air. Amidst these magnificent sons of the earth there
peeped out, in the most open spot of the glade, a lowly chapel, near
which trickled a small rivulet. Its architecture was of the rudest and
most simple kind; and there was a very small lodge beside it, for the
accommodation of a hermit or solitary priest, who remained there for
regularly discharging the duty of the altar. In a small niche over the
arched doorway stood a stone image of Saint Hubert, with the bugle horn
around his neck, and a leash of greyhounds at his feet. The situation of
the chapel in the midst of a park or chase, so richly stocked with game,
made the dedication to the Sainted Huntsman peculiarly appropriate.

Towards this little devotional structure the old man directed his steps,
followed by young Durward; and, as they approached, the priest, dressed
in his sacerdotal garments, made his appearance in the act of proceeding
from his cell to the chapel, for the discharge, doubtless, of his holy
office. Durward bowed his body reverently to the priest, as the respect
due to his sacred office demanded; whilst his companion, with an
appearance of still more deep devotion, kneeled on one knee to receive
the holy man's blessing, and then followed him into church, with a step
and manner expressive of the most heartfelt contrition and humility.

The inside of the chapel was adorned in a manner adapted to the
occupation of the patron saint while on earth. The richest furs of such
animals as are made the objects of the chase in different countries
supplied the place of tapestry and hangings around the altar and
elsewhere, and the characteristic emblazonments of bugles, bows,
quivers, and other emblems of hunting, surrounded the walls, and were
mingled with the heads of deer, wolves, and other animals considered
beasts of sport. The whole adornments took an appropriate and silvan
character; and the mass itself, being considerably shortened, proved to
be of that sort which is called a hunting mass, because in use before
the noble and powerful, who, while assisting at the solemnity, are
usually impatient to commence their favourite sport.

Yet, during this brief ceremony, Durward's companion seemed to pay the
most rigid and scrupulous attention; while Durward, not quite so much
occupied with religious thoughts, could not forbear blaming himself
in his own mind for having entertained suspicions derogatory to the
character of so good and so humble a man. Far from now holding him as
a companion and accomplice of robbers, he had much to do to forbear
regarding him as a saint-like personage.

When mass was ended, they retired together from the chapel, and the
elder said to his young comrade, "It is but a short walk from hence
to the village--you may now break your fast with an unprejudiced
conscience--follow me."

Turning to the right, and proceeding along a path which seemed gradually
to ascend, he recommended to his companion by no means to quit the
track, but, on the contrary, to keep the middle of it as nearly as he
could. Durward could not help asking the cause of this precaution.

"You are now near the Court, young man," answered his guide; "and,
Pasques-dieu! there is some difference betwixt walking in this region
and on your own heathy hills. Every yard of this ground, excepting
the path which we now occupy, is rendered dangerous, and well nigh
impracticable, by snares and traps, armed with scythe blades, which
shred off the unwary passenger's limb as sheerly as a hedge bill lops a
hawthorn sprig--and calthrops that would pierce your foot through,
and pitfalls deep enough to bury you in them for ever; for you are now
within the precincts of the royal demesne, and we shall presently see
the front of the Chateau."

"Were I the King of France," said the young man, "I would not take so
much trouble with traps and gins, but would try instead to govern so
well that no man should dare to come near my dwelling with a bad intent;
and for those who came there in peace and goodwill, why, the more of
them the merrier we should be."

His companion looked round affecting an alarmed gaze, and said, "Hush,
hush, Sir Varlet with the Velvet Pouch! for I forgot to tell you, that
one great danger of these precincts is, that the very leaves of the
trees are like so many ears, which carry all which is spoken to the
King's own cabinet."

"I care little for that," answered Quentin Durward; "I bear a Scottish
tongue in my head, bold enough to speak my mind to King Louis's face,
God bless him--and for the ears you talk of, if I could see them growing
on a human head, I would crop them out of it with my wood knife."



CHAPTER III: THE CASTLE

     Full in the midst a mighty pile arose,
     Where iron grated gates their strength oppose
     To each invading step--and strong and steep,
     The battled walls arose, the fosse sunk deep.
     Slow round the fortress roll'd the sluggish stream,
     And high in middle air the warder's turrets gleam.

     ANONYMOUS


While Durward and his acquaintance thus spoke, they came in sight of
the whole front of the Castle of Plessis les Tours, which, even in
those dangerous times, when the great found themselves obliged to reside
within places of fortified strength, was distinguished for the extreme
and jealous care with which it was watched and defended.

From the verge of the wood where young Durward halted with his
companion, in order to take a view of this royal residence, extended,
or rather arose, though by a very gentle elevation, an open esplanade,
devoid of trees and bushes of every description, excepting one gigantic
and half withered old oak. This space was left open, according to the
rules of fortification in all ages, in order that an enemy might not
approach the walls under cover, or unobserved from the battlements, and
beyond it arose the Castle itself.

There were three external walls, battlemented and turreted from space
to space and at each angle, the second enclosure rising higher than the
first, and being built so as to command the exterior defence in case
it was won by the enemy; and being again, in the same manner, itself
commanded by the third and innermost barrier.

Around the external wall, as the Frenchman informed his young companion
(for as they stood lower than the foundation of the wall, he could not
see it), was sunk a ditch of about twenty feet in depth, supplied with
water by a dam head on the river Cher; or rather on one of its tributary
branches. In front of the second enclosure, he said, there ran another
fosse, and a third, both of the same unusual dimensions, was led between
the second and the innermost inclosure. The verge, both of the outer and
inner circuit of this triple moat was strongly fenced with palisades of
iron, serving the purpose of what are called chevaux de frise in modern
fortification, the top of each pale being divided into a cluster of
sharp spikes, which seemed to render any attempt to climb over an act of
self destruction.

From within the innermost enclosure arose the Castle itself, containing
buildings of all periods, crowded around, and united with the ancient
and grim looking donjon keep, which was older than any of them, and
which rose, like a black Ethiopian giant, high into the air, while the
absence of any windows larger than shot holes, irregularly disposed
for defence, gave the spectator the same unpleasant feeling which
we experience on looking at a blind man. The other buildings seemed
scarcely better adapted for the purposes of comfort, for the windows
opened to an inner and enclosed courtyard; so that the whole external
front looked much more like that of a prison than a palace. The reigning
King had even increased this effect; for, desirous that the additions
which he himself had made to the fortifications should be of a character
not easily distinguished from the original building (for, like many
jealous persons, he loved not that his suspicions should be observed),
the darkest coloured brick and freestone were employed, and soot mingled
with the lime, so as to give the whole Castle the same uniform tinge of
extreme and rude antiquity.

This formidable place had but one entrance--at least Durward saw none
along the spacious front, except where, in the centre of the first
and outward boundary, arose two strong towers, the usual defences of a
gateway; and he could observe their ordinary accompaniments, portcullis
and drawbridge--of which the first was lowered, and the last raised.
Similar entrance towers were visible on the second and third bounding
wall, but not in the same line with those on the outward circuit;
because the passage did not cut right through the whole three enclosures
at the same point, but, on the contrary, those who entered had to
proceed nearly thirty yards betwixt the first and second wall, exposed,
if their purpose were hostile, to missiles from both; and again, when
the second boundary was passed, they must make a similar digression
from the straight line, in order to attain the portal of the third and
innermost enclosure; so that before gaining the outer court, which ran
along the front of the building, two narrow and dangerous defiles were
to be traversed under a flanking discharge of artillery, and three
gates, defended in the strongest manner known to the age, were to be
successively forced.

Coming from a country alike desolated by foreign war and internal
feuds--a country, too, whose unequal and mountainous surface, abounding
in precipices and torrents, affords so many situations of strength,
young Durward was sufficiently acquainted with all the various
contrivances by which men, in that stern age, endeavoured to secure
their dwellings; but he frankly owned to his companion, that he did not
think it had been in the power of art to do so much for defence, where
nature had done so little; for the situation, as we have hinted, was
merely the summit of a gentle elevation ascending upwards from the place
where they were standing.

To enhance his surprise, his companion told him that the environs of
the Castle, except the single winding path by which the portal might
be safely approached, were, like the thickets through which they had
passed, surrounded with every species of hidden pitfall, snare, and gin,
to entrap the wretch who should venture thither without a guide;
that upon the walls were constructed certain cradles of iron, called
swallows' nests, from which the sentinels, who were regularly posted
there, could without being exposed to any risk, take deliberate aim at
any who should attempt to enter without the proper signal or password of
the day; and that the Archers of the Royal Guard performed that duty
day and night, for which they received high pay, rich clothing, and much
honour and profit at the hands of King Louis. "And now tell me, young
man," he continued, "did you ever see so strong a fortress, and do you
think there are men bold enough to storm it?"

The young man looked long and fixedly on the place, the sight of which
interested him so much that he had forgotten, in the eagerness of
youthful curiosity, the wetness of his dress. His eye glanced, and his
colour mounted to his cheek like that of a daring man who meditates an
honourable action, as he replied, "It is a strong castle, and strongly
guarded; but there is no impossibility to brave men."

"Are there any in your country who could do such a feat?" said the
elder, rather scornfully.

"I will not affirm that," answered the youth; "but there are thousands
that, in a good cause, would attempt as bold a deed."

"Umph!" said the senior, "perhaps you are yourself such a gallant!"

"I should sin if I were to boast where there is no danger," answered
young Durward; "but my father has done as bold an act, and I trust I am
no bastard."

"Well," said his companion, smiling, "you might meet your match, and
your kindred withal in the attempt; for the Scottish Archers of King
Louis's Life Guards stand sentinels on yonder walls--three hundred
gentlemen of the best blood in your country."

"And were I King Louis," said the youth, in reply, "I would trust my
safety to the faith of the three hundred Scottish gentlemen, throw
down my bounding walls to fill up the moat; call in my noble peers and
paladins, and live as became me, amid breaking of lances in gallant
tournaments, and feasting of days with nobles, and dancing of nights
with ladies, and have no more fear of a foe than I have of a fly."

His companion again smiled, and turning his back on the Castle, which,
he observed, they had approached a little too nearly, he led the way
again into the wood by a more broad and beaten path than they had yet
trodden. "This," he said, "leads us to the village of Plessis, as it
is called, where you, as a stranger, will find reasonable and honest
accommodation. About two miles onward lies the fine city of Tours,
which gives name to this rich and beautiful earldom. But the village
of Plessis, or Plessis of the Park as it is sometimes called, from
its vicinity to the royal residence, and the chase with which it is
encircled, will yield you nearer and as convenient hospitality."

"I thank you, kind master, for your information," said the Scot; "but my
stay will be so short here, that, if I fail not in a morsel of meat, and
a drink of something better than water, my necessities in Plessis, be it
of the park or the pool, will be amply satisfied."

"Nay," answered his companion, "I thought you had some friend to see in
this quarter."

"And so I have--my mother's own brother," answered Durward; "and as
pretty a man, before he left the braes of Angus [hills and moors of
Angus in Forfarshire, Scotland.], as ever planted brogue on heather."

"What is his name?" said the senior. "We will inquire him out for you;
for it is not safe for you to go up to the Castle, where you might be
taken for a spy."

"Now, by my father's hand!" said the youth, "I taken for a spy!--By
Heaven, he shall brook cold iron that brands me with such a charge!--But
for my uncle's name, I care not who knows it--it is Lesly. Lesly--an
honest and noble name."

"And so it is, I doubt not," said the old man; "but there are three of
the name in the Scottish Guard."

"My uncle's name is Ludovic Lesly," said the young man.

"Of the three Leslys," answered the merchant, "two are called Ludovic."

"They call my kinsman Ludovic with the Scar," said Quentin. "Our family
names are so common in a Scottish house, that, where there is no land in
the case, we always give a to-name [surname]."

"A nom de guerre [the war name; formerly taken by French soldiers
on entering the service. Hence a fictitious name assumed for other
purposes.], I suppose you to mean," answered his companion; "and the
man you speak of, we, I think, call Le Balafre, from that scar on his
face--a proper man, and a good soldier. I wish I may be able to help
you to an interview with him, for he belongs to a set of gentlemen whose
duty is strict, and who do not often come out of garrison, unless in the
immediate attendance on the King's person.--And now, young man, answer
me one question. I will wager you are desirous to take service with your
uncle in the Scottish Guard. It is a great thing, if you propose
so; especially as you are very young, and some years' experience is
necessary for the high office which you aim at."

"Perhaps I may have thought on some such thing," said Durward,
carelessly; "but if I did, the fancy is off."

"How so, young man?" said the Frenchman, something sternly, "Do you
speak thus of a charge which the most noble of your countrymen feel
themselves emulous to be admitted to?"

"I wish them joy of it," said Quentin, composedly. "To speak plain, I
should have liked the service of the French King full well; only, dress
me as fine and feed me as high as you will, I love the open air better
than being shut up in a cage or a swallow's nest yonder, as you call
these same grated pepper boxes. Besides," he added, in a lower voice,
"to speak truth, I love not the Castle when the covin tree bears such
acorns as I see yonder."

[The large tree in front of a Scottish castle was sometimes called so.
It is difficult to trace the derivation; but at that distance from the
castle the laird received guests of rank, and thither he conveyed them
on their departure. S.]

"I guess what you mean," said the Frenchman; "but speak yet more
plainly."

"To speak more plainly, then," said the youth, "there grows a fair oak
some flight shot or so from yonder Castle--and on that oak hangs a man
in a gray jerkin, such as this which I wear."

"Ay and indeed!" said the man of France--"Pasques dieu! see what it is
to have youthful eyes! Why, I did see something, but only took it for a
raven among the branches. But the sight is no ways strange, young man;
when the summer fades into autumn, and moonlight nights are long, and
roads become unsafe, you will see a cluster of ten, ay of twenty such
acorns, hanging on that old doddered oak.--But what then?--they are so
many banners displayed to scare knaves; and for each rogue that hangs
there, an honest man may reckon that there is a thief, a traitor, a
robber on the highway, a pilleur and oppressor of the people the fewer
in France. These, young man, are signs of our Sovereign's justice."

"I would have hung them farther from my palace, though, were I King
Louis," said the youth. "In my country, we hang up dead corbies where
living corbies haunt, but not in our gardens or pigeon houses. The very
scent of the carrion--faugh--reached my nostrils at the distance where
we stood."

"If you live to be an honest and loyal servant of your Prince, my good
youth," answered the Frenchman, "you will know there is no perfume to
match the scent of a dead traitor."

"I shall never wish to live till I lose the scent of my nostrils or the
sight of my eyes," said the Scot. "Show me a living traitor, and here
are my hand and my weapon; but when life is out, hatred should not live
longer.--But here, I fancy, we come upon the village, where I hope to
show you that neither ducking nor disgust have spoiled mine appetite for
my breakfast. So my good friend, to the hostelrie, with all the speed
you may.--Yet, ere I accept of your hospitality, let me know by what
name to call you."

"Men call me Maitre Pierre," answered his companion. "I deal in
no titles. A plain man, that can live on mine own good--that is my
designation."

"So be it, Maitre Pierre," said Quentin, "and I am happy my good chance
has thrown us together; for I want a word of seasonable advice, and can
be thankful for it."

While they spoke thus, the tower of the church and a tall wooden
crucifix, rising above the trees, showed that they were at the entrance
of the village.

But Maitre Pierre, deflecting a little from the road, which had now
joined an open and public causeway, said to his companion that the
inn to which he intended to introduce him stood somewhat secluded, and
received only the better sort of travellers.

"If you mean those who travel with the better filled purses," answered
the Scot, "I am none of the number, and will rather stand my chance of
your flayers on the highway, than of your flayers in the hostelrie."

"Pasques dieu!" said his guide, "how cautious your countrymen of
Scotland are! An Englishman, now, throws himself headlong into a tavern,
eats and drinks of the best, and never thinks of the reckoning till his
belly is full. But you forget, Master Quentin, since Quentin is your
name, you forget I owe you a breakfast for the wetting which my mistake
procured you.--It is the penance of my offence towards you."

"In truth," said the light hearted young man, "I had forgot wetting,
offence, and penance, and all. I have walked my clothes dry, or
nearly so, but I will not refuse your offer in kindness; for my dinner
yesterday was a light one, and supper I had none. You seem an old and
respectable burgess, and I see no reason why I should not accept your
courtesy."

The Frenchman smiled aside, for he saw plainly that the youth, while he
was probably half famished, had yet some difficulty to reconcile himself
to the thoughts of feeding at a stranger's cost, and was endeavouring
to subdue his inward pride by the reflection, that, in such slight
obligations, the acceptor performed as complaisant a part as he by whom
the courtesy was offered.

In the meanwhile, they descended a narrow lane, overshadowed by tall
elms, at the bottom of which a gateway admitted them into the courtyard
of an inn of unusual magnitude, calculated for the accommodation of the
nobles and suitors who had business at the neighbouring Castle, where
very seldom, and only when such hospitality was altogether unavoidable,
did Louis XI permit any of his court to have apartments. A scutcheon,
bearing the fleur de lys, hung over the principal door of the large
irregular building; but there was about the yard and the offices
little or none of the bustle which in those days, when attendants were
maintained both in public and in private houses, marked that business
was alive, and custom plenty. It seemed as if the stern and unsocial
character of the royal mansion in the neighbourhood had communicated
a portion of its solemn and terrific gloom even to a place designed
according to universal custom elsewhere, for the temple of social
indulgence, merry society, and good cheer.

Maitre Pierre, without calling any one, and even without approaching
the principal entrance, lifted the latch of a side door, and led the
way into a large room, where a faggot was blazing on the hearth, and
arrangements made for a substantial breakfast.

"My gossip has been careful," said the Frenchman to the Scot. "You must
be cold, and I have commanded a fire; you must be hungry, and you shall
have breakfast presently."

He whistled and the landlord entered--answered Maitre Pierre's bon
jour with a reverence--but in no respect showed any part of the prating
humour properly belonging to a French publican of all ages.

"I expected a gentleman," said Maitre Pierre, "to order breakfast--hath
he done so?"

In answer the landlord only bowed; and while he continued to bring,
and arrange upon the table, the various articles of a comfortable meal,
omitted to extol their merits by a single word. And yet the breakfast
merited such eulogiums as French hosts are wont to confer upon their
regales, as the reader will be informed in the next chapter.



CHAPTER IV: THE DEJEUNER

     Sacred heaven! what masticators! what bread!

     YORICK'S TRAVELS


We left our young stranger in France situated more comfortably than he
had found himself since entering the territories of the ancient Gauls.
The breakfast, as we hinted in the conclusion of the last chapter, was
admirable. There was a pate de Perigord, over which a gastronome would
have wished to live and die, like Homer's lotus eaters [see the Odyssey,
chap. ix, where Odysseus arrives at the land of the Lotus eaters:
"whosoever of them ate the lotus's honeyed fruit resolved to bring
tidings back no more and never to leave the place, but with the Lotus
eaters there desired to stay, to feed on lotus and forget his going
home." Palmer's Translation.], forgetful of kin, native country, and all
social obligations whatever. Its vast walls of magnificent crust seemed
raised like the bulwarks of some rich metropolitan city, an emblem of
the wealth which they are designed to protect. There was a delicate
ragout, with just that petit point de l'ail [a little flavor of garlic.
The French is ungrammatical.] which Gascons love, and Scottishmen do
not hate. There was, besides, a delicate ham, which had once supported a
noble wild boar in the neighbouring wood of Mountrichart. There was the
most exquisite white bread, made into little round loaves called boules
(whence the bakers took their French name of boulangers), of which the
crust was so inviting, that, even with water alone, it would have been a
delicacy. But the water was not alone, for there was a flask of leather
called bottrine, which contained about a quart of exquisite Vin de
Beaulne. So many good things might have created appetite under the ribs
of death. What effect, then, must they have produced upon a youngster of
scarce twenty, who (for the truth must be told) had eaten little for the
two last days, save the scarcely ripe fruit which chance afforded him an
opportunity of plucking, and a very moderate portion of barley bread?
He threw himself upon the ragout, and the plate was presently vacant--he
attacked the mighty pasty, marched deep into the bowels of the land, and
seasoning his enormous meal with an occasional cup of wine, returned to
the charge again and again, to the astonishment of mine host, and the
amusement of Maitre Pierre.

The latter indeed, probably because he found himself the author of a
kinder action than he had thought of, seemed delighted with the appetite
of the young Scot; and when, at length, he observed that his exertions
began to languish, endeavoured to stimulate him to new efforts by
ordering confections, darioles [cream cakes], and any other light
dainties he could think of, to entice the youth to continue his meal.
While thus engaged, Maitre Pierre's countenance expressed a kind of good
humour almost amounting to benevolence, which appeared remote from its
ordinary sharp, caustic, and severe character. The aged almost always
sympathize with the enjoyments of youth and with its exertions of every
kind, when the mind of the spectator rests on its natural poise and is
not disturbed by inward envy or idle emulation.

Quentin Durward also, while thus agreeably employed, could do no
otherwise than discover that the countenance of his entertainer, which
he had at first found so unprepossessing, mended when it was seen under
the influence of the Vin de Beaulne, and there was kindness in the tone
with which he reproached Maitre Pierre, that he amused himself with
laughing at his appetite, without eating anything himself.

"I am doing penance," said Maitre Pierre, "and may not eat anything
before noon, save some comfiture and a cup of water.--Bid yonder lady,"
he added, turning to the innkeeper, "bring them hither to me."

The innkeeper left the room, and Maitre Pierre proceeded, "Well, have I
kept faith with you concerning the breakfast I promised you?"

"The best meal I have eaten," said the youth, "since I left Glen
Houlakin."

"Glen--what?" demanded Maitre Pierre. "Are you going to raise the devil,
that you use such long tailed words?"

"Glen Houlakin," answered Quentin good humouredly, "which is to say the
Glen of the Midges, is the name of our ancient patrimony, my good sir.
You have bought the right to laugh at the sound, if you please."

"I have not the least intention to offend," said the old man; "but I
was about to say, since you like your present meal so well, that the
Scottish Archers of the guard eat as good a one, or a better, every
day."

"No wonder," said Durward; "for if they be shut up in the swallows'
nests all night, they must needs have a curious appetite in the
morning."

"And plenty to gratify it upon," said Maitre Pierre. "They need not,
like the Burgundians, choose a bare back, that they may have a full
belly--they dress like counts, and feast like abbots."

"It is well for them," said Durward.

"And wherefore will you not take service here, young man? Your uncle
might, I dare say, have you placed on the file when there should
a vacancy occur. And, hark in your ear, I myself have some little
interest, and might be of some use to you. You can ride, I presume, as
well as draw the bow?"

"Our race are as good horsemen as ever put a plated shoe into a steel
stirrup; and I know not but I might accept of your kind offer. Yet, look
you, food and raiment are needful things, but, in my case, men think of
honour, and advancement, and brave deeds of arms. Your King Louis--God
bless him, for he is a friend and ally of Scotland--but he lies here in
this castle, or only rides about from one fortified town to another;
and gains cities and provinces by politic embassies, and not in fair
fighting. Now, for me, I am of the Douglases' mind, who always kept the
fields, because they loved better to hear the lark sing than the mouse
squeak."

"Young man," said Maitre Pierre, "do not judge too rashly of the actions
of sovereigns. Louis seeks to spare the blood of his subjects, and cares
not for his own. He showed himself a man of courage at Montl'hery."

"Ay, but that was some dozen years ago or more," answered the youth--"I
should like to follow a master that would keep his honour as bright
as his shield, and always venture foremost in the very throng of the
battle."

"Why did you not tarry at Brussels, then, with the Duke of Burgundy?
He would put you in the way to have your bones broken every day; and,
rather than fail, would do the job for you himself--especially if he
heard that you had beaten his forester."

"Very true," said Quentin; "my unhappy chance has shut that door against
me."

"Nay, there are plenty of daredevils abroad, with whom mad youngsters
may find service," said his adviser. "What think you, for example, of
William de la Marck?"

"What!" exclaimed Durward, "serve Him with the Beard--serve the Wild
Boar of Ardennes--a captain of pillagers and murderers, who would take
a man's life for the value of his gaberdine, and who slays priests and
pilgrims as if they were so many lance knights and men at arms? It would
be a blot on my father's scutcheon for ever."

"Well, my young hot blood," replied Maitre Pierre, "if you hold the
Sanglier [Wild Boar] too unscrupulous, wherefore not follow the young
Duke of Gueldres?"

[Adolphus, son of Arnold and of Catherine de Bourbon.... He made war
against his father; in which unnatural strife he made the old man
prisoner, and used him with the most brutal violence, proceeding, it
is said, even to the length of striking him with his hand. Arnold, in
resentment of this usage, disinherited the unprincipled wretch, and sold
to Charles of Burgundy whatever rights he had over the duchy of Gueldres
and earldom of Zutphen.... S.]

"Follow the foul fiend as soon," said Quentin. "Hark in your ear--he is
a burden too heavy for earth to carry--hell gapes for him! Men say that
he keeps his own father imprisoned, and that he has even struck him--can
you believe it?"

Maitre Pierre seemed somewhat disconcerted with the naive horror with
which the young Scotsman spoke of filial ingratitude, and he answered,
"You know not, young man, how short a while the relations of blood
subsist amongst those of elevated rank;" then changed the tone of
feeling in which he had begun to speak, and added, gaily, "besides, if
the Duke has beaten his father, I warrant you his father hath beaten him
of old, so it is but a clearing of scores."

"I marvel to hear you speak thus," said the Scot, colouring with
indignation; "gray hairs such as yours ought to have fitter subjects for
jesting. If the old Duke did beat his son in childhood, he beat him not
enough; for better he had died under the rod, than have lived to make
the Christian world ashamed that such a monster had ever been baptized."

"At this rate," said Maitre Pierre, "as you weigh the characters of each
prince and leader, I think you had better become a captain yourself; for
where will one so wise find a chieftain fit to command him?"

"You laugh at me, Maitre Pierre," said the youth, good humouredly, "and
perhaps you are right; but you have not named a man who is a gallant
leader, and keeps a brave party up here, under whom a man might seek
service well enough."

"I cannot guess whom you mean."

"Why, he that hangs like Mahomet's coffin [there is a tradition that
Mahomet's coffin is suspended in mid air Without any support, the most
generally accepted explanation being that the coffin is of iron and is
placed between two magnets] (a curse be upon Mahomet!) between the two
loadstones--he that no man can call either French or Burgundian, but who
knows to hold the balance between them both, and makes both of them fear
and serve him, for as great princes as they be."

"I cannot guess whom you mean," said Maitre Pierre, thoughtfully.

"Why, whom should I mean but the noble Louis de Luxembourg, Count of
Saint Paul, the High Constable of France? Yonder he makes his place good
with his gallant little army, holding his head as high as either King
Louis or Duke Charles, and balancing between them like the boy who
stands on the midst of a plank, while two others are swinging on the
opposite ends."

[This part of Louis XI's reign was much embarrassed by the intrigues
of the Constable Saint Paul, who affected independence, and carried on
intrigues with England, France, and Burgundy at the same time. According
to the usual fate of such variable politicians, the Constable ended by
drawing upon himself the animosity of all the powerful neighbours whom
he had in their turn amused and deceived. He was delivered up by the
Duke of Burgundy to the King of France, tried, and hastily executed for
treason, A. D. 1475. S.]

"He is in danger of the worst fall of the three," said Maitre Pierre.
"And hark ye, my young friend, you who hold pillaging such a crime, do
you know that your politic Count of Saint Paul was the first who set the
example of burning the country during the time of war? and that before
the shameful devastation which he committed, open towns and villages,
which made no resistance, were spared on all sides?"

"Nay, faith," said Durward, "if that be the case, I shall begin to think
no one of these great men is much better than another, and that a choice
among them is but like choosing a tree to be hung upon. But this
Count de Saint Paul, this Constable, hath possessed himself by clean
conveyance of the town which takes its name from my honoured saint and
patron, Saint Quentin" [it was by his possession of this town of
Saint Quentin that the Constable was able to carry on those political
intrigues which finally cost him so dear. S.] (here he crossed himself),
"and methinks were I dwelling there, my holy patron would keep some
look out for me--he has not so many named after him as your more popular
saints--and yet he must have forgotten me, poor Quentin Durward, his
spiritual godson, since he lets me go one day without food, and leaves
me the next morning to the harbourage of Saint Julian, and the chance
courtesy of a stranger, purchased by a ducking in the renowned river
Cher, or one of its tributaries."

"Blaspheme not the saints, my young friend," said Maitre Pierre. "Saint
Julian is the faithful patron of travellers; and, peradventure, the
blessed Saint Quentin hath done more and better for thee than thou art
aware of."

As he spoke, the door opened, and a girl rather above than under fifteen
years old, entered with a platter, covered with damask, on which was
placed a small saucer of the dried plums which have always added to the
reputation of Tours, and a cup of the curiously chased plate which
the goldsmiths of that city were anciently famous for executing with a
delicacy of workmanship that distinguished them from the other cities of
France, and even excelled the skill of the metropolis. The form of the
goblet was so elegant that Durward thought not of observing closely
whether the material was of silver, or like what had been placed before
himself, of a baser metal, but so well burnished as to resemble the
richer ore.

But the sight of the young person by whom this service was executed
attracted Durward's attention far more than the petty minutiae of the
duty which she performed.

He speedily made the discovery that a quantity of long black tresses,
which, in the maiden fashion of his own country, were unadorned by
any ornament, except a single chaplet lightly woven out of ivy leaves,
formed a veil around a countenance which, in its regular features, dark
eyes, and pensive expression, resembled that of Melpomene [the Muse
of tragedy], though there was a faint glow on the cheek, and an
intelligence on the lips and in the eye, which made it seem that gaiety
was not foreign to a countenance so expressive, although it might not be
its most habitual expression. Quentin even thought he could discern that
depressing circumstances were the cause why a countenance so young and
so lovely was graver than belongs to early beauty; and as the romantic
imagination of youth is rapid in drawing conclusions from slight
premises, he was pleased to infer, from what follows, that the fate of
this beautiful vision was wrapped in silence and mystery.

"How now, Jacqueline?" said Maitre Pierre, when she entered the
apartment. "Wherefore this? Did I not desire that Dame Perette should
bring what I wanted?--Pasques dieu!--Is she, or does she think herself,
too good to serve me?"

"My kinswoman is ill at ease," answered Jacqueline, in a hurried yet a
humble tone,--"ill at ease, and keeps her chamber."

"She keeps it alone, I hope!" replied Maitre Pierre, with some emphasis;
"I am vieux routier [one who is experienced in the ways of the world],
and none of those upon whom feigned disorders pass for apologies."

Jacqueline turned pale, and even tottered at the answer of Maitre
Pierre; for it must be owned that his voice and looks, at all times
harsh, caustic, and unpleasing, had, when he expressed anger or
suspicion, an effect both sinister and alarming.

The mountain chivalry of Quentin Durward was instantly awakened, and he
hastened to approach Jacqueline and relieve her of the burden she bore,
and which she passively resigned to him, while, with a timid and anxious
look, she watched the countenance of the angry burgess. It was not in
nature to resist the piercing and pity craving expression of her looks,
and Maitre Pierre proceeded, not merely with an air of diminished
displeasure, but with as much gentleness as he could assume in
countenance and manner, "I blame not thee, Jacqueline, and thou art too
young to be, what it is pity to think thou must be one day--a false and
treacherous thing, like the rest of thy giddy sex. No man ever lived
to man's estate, but he had the opportunity to know you all [he (Louis)
entertained great contempt for the understanding, and not less for the
character, of the fair sex. S.]. Here is a Scottish cavalier will tell
you the same."

Jacqueline looked for an instant on the young stranger, as if to obey
Maitre Pierre, but the glance, momentary as it was, appeared to
Durward a pathetic appeal to him for support and sympathy; and with
the promptitude dictated by the feelings of youth, and the romantic
veneration for the female sex inspired by his education, he answered
hastily that he would throw down his gage to any antagonist, of equal
rank and equal age, who should presume to say such a countenance as that
which he now looked upon, could be animated by other than the purest and
the truest mind.

The young woman grew deadly pale, and cast an apprehensive glance upon
Maitre Pierre, in whom the bravado of the young gallant seemed only to
excite laughter, more scornful than applausive. Quentin, whose second
thoughts generally corrected the first, though sometimes after they
had found utterance, blushed deeply at having uttered what might be
construed into an empty boast in presence of an old man of a peaceful
profession; and as a sort of just and appropriate penance, resolved
patiently to submit to the ridicule which he had incurred. He offered
the cup and trencher to Maitre Pierre with a blush in his cheek, and a
humiliation of countenance which endeavoured to disguise itself under an
embarrassed smile.

"You are a foolish young man," said Maitre Pierre, "and know as little
of women as of princes,--whose hearts," he said, crossing himself
devoutly, "God keeps in his right hand."

"And who keeps those of the women, then?" said Quentin, resolved, if he
could help it, not to be borne down by the assumed superiority of this
extraordinary old man, whose lofty and careless manner possessed an
influence over him of which he felt ashamed.

"I am afraid you must ask of them in another quarter," said Maitre
Pierre, composedly.

Quentin was again rebuffed, but not utterly disconcerted. "Surely,"
he said to himself, "I do not pay this same burgess of Tours all the
deference which I yield him, on account of the miserable obligation of
a breakfast, though it was a right good and substantial meal. Dogs and
hawks are attached by feeding only--man must have kindness, if you
would bind him with the cords of affection and obligation. But he is
an extraordinary person; and that beautiful emanation that is even
now vanishing--surely a thing so fair belongs not to this mean place,
belongs not even to the money gathering merchant himself, though he
seems to exert authority over her, as doubtless he does over all whom
chance brings within his little circle. It is wonderful what ideas of
consequence these Flemings and Frenchmen attach to wealth--so much
more than wealth deserves, that I suppose this old merchant thinks the
civility I pay to his age is given to his money. I a Scottish gentleman
of blood and coat armour, and he a mechanic of Tours!"

Such were the thoughts which hastily traversed the mind of young
Durward; while Maitre Pierre said with a smile, and at the same time
patting Jacqueline's heed, from which hung down her long tresses, "This
young man will serve me, Jacqueline, thou mayst withdraw. I will tell
thy negligent kinswoman she does ill to expose thee to be gazed on
unnecessarily."

"It was only to wait on you," said the maiden. "I trust you will not be
displeased with my kinswoman, since"--

"Pasques dieu!" said the merchant, interrupting her, but not harshly,
"do you bandy words with me, you brat, or stay you to gaze upon the
youngster here?--Begone--he is noble, and his services will suffice me."

Jacqueline vanished; and so much was Quentin Durward interested in her
sudden disappearance that it broke his previous thread of reflection,
and he complied mechanically when Maitre Pierre said, in the tone of
one accustomed to be obeyed, as he threw himself carelessly upon a large
easy chair, "Place that tray beside me."

The merchant then let his dark eyebrows sink over his keen eyes so that
the last became scarce visible, or but shot forth occasionally a quick
and vivid ray, like those of the sun setting behind a dark cloud,
through which its beams are occasionally darted, but singly and for an
instant.

"That is a beautiful creature," said the old man at last, raising
his head, and looking steadily and firmly at Quentin, when he put the
question,--"a lovely girl to be the servant of an auberge [an inn]? She
might grace the board of an honest burgess; but 'tis a vile education, a
base origin."

It sometimes happens that a chance shot will demolish a noble castle in
the air, and the architect on such occasions entertains little goodwill
towards him who fires it, although the damage on the offender's part may
be wholly unintentional. Quentin was disconcerted, and was disposed to
be angry--he himself knew not why--with this old man, for acquainting
him that this beautiful creature was neither more nor less than what
her occupation announced; the servant of the auberge--an upper servant,
indeed, and probably a niece of the landlord, or such like; but still
a domestic, and obliged to comply with the humour of the customers, and
particularly of Maitre Pierre, who probably had sufficiency of whims,
and was rich enough to ensure their being attended to.

The thought, the lingering thought, again returned on him, that he
ought to make the old gentleman understand the difference betwixt their
conditions, and call on him to mark, that, how rich soever he might be,
his wealth put him on no level with a Durward of Glen Houlakin. Yet,
whenever he looked on Maitre Pierre's countenance with such a purpose,
there was, notwithstanding the downcast look, pinched features, and
mean and miserly dress, something which prevented the young man from
asserting the superiority over the merchant which he conceived himself
to possess. On the contrary, the oftener and more fixedly Quentin looked
at him, the stronger became his curiosity to know who or what this man
actually was; and he set him down internally for at least a Syndic or
high magistrate of Tours, or one who was, in some way or other, in the
full habit of exacting and receiving deference. Meantime, the merchant
seemed again sunk into a reverie, from which he raised himself only to
make the sign of the cross devoutly, and to eat some of the dried fruit,
with a morsel of biscuit. He then signed to Quentin to give him the cup,
adding, however, by way of question, as he presented it, "You are noble,
you say?"

"I surely am," replied the Scot, "if fifteen descents can make me so--so
I told you before. But do not constrain yourself on that account, Maitre
Pierre--I have always been taught it is the duty of the young to assist
the more aged."

"An excellent maxim," said the merchant, availing himself of the youth's
assistance in handing the cup, and filling it from a ewer which seemed
of the same materials with the goblet, without any of those scruples in
point of propriety which, perhaps, Quentin had expected to excite.

"The devil take the ease and familiarity of this old mechanical
burgher!" said Durward once more to himself. "He uses the attendance of
a noble Scottish gentleman with as little ceremony as I would that of a
gillie from Glen Isla."

The merchant, in the meanwhile, having finished his cup of water, said
to his companion, "From the zeal with which you seem to relish the
Vin de Beaulne, I fancy you would not care much to pledge me in this
elemental liquor. But I have an elixir about me which can convert even
the rock water into the richest wines of France."

As he spoke, he took a large purse from his bosom, made of the fur of
the sea otter, and streamed a shower of small silver pieces into the
goblet, until the cup, which was but a small one, was more than half
full.

"You have reason to be more thankful, young man," said Maitre Pierre,
"both to your patron Saint Quentin and to Saint Julian, than you seemed
to be but now. I would advise you to bestow alms in their name. Remain
in this hostelry until you see your kinsman, Le Balafre, who will be
relieved from guard in the afternoon. I will cause him to be acquainted
that he may find you here, for I have business in the Castle."

Quentin Durward would have said something to have excused himself from
accepting the profuse liberality of his new friend; but Maitre Pierre,
bending his dark brows, and erecting his stooping figure into an
attitude of more dignity than he had yet seen him assume, said in a tone
of authority, "No reply, young man, but do what you are commanded."

With these words he left the apartment, making a sign, as he departed,
that Quentin must not follow him.

The young Scotsman stood astounded, and knew not what to think of
the matter. His first most natural, though perhaps not most dignified
impulse, drove him to peer into the silver goblet, which assuredly was
more than half full of silver pieces to the number of several scores, of
which perhaps Quentin had never called twenty his own at one time during
the course of his whole life. But could he reconcile it to his dignity
as a gentleman, to accept the money of this wealthy plebeian?--This was
a trying question; for, though he had secured a good breakfast, it was
no great reserve upon which to travel either back to Dijon, in case he
chose to hazard the wrath and enter the service of the Duke of Burgundy,
or to Saint Quentin, if he fixed on that of the Constable Saint Paul;
for to one of those powers, if not to the king of France, he was
determined to offer his services. He perhaps took the wisest resolution
in the circumstances, in resolving to be guided by the advice of his
uncle; and, in the meantime, he put the money into his velvet hawking
pouch, and called for the landlord of the house, in order to restore the
silver cup--resolving, at the same time, to ask him some questions about
this liberal and authoritative merchant.

The man of the house appeared presently; and, if not more communicative,
was at least more loquacious, than he had been formerly. He positively
declined to take back the silver cup. It was none of his, he said, but
Maitre Pierre's, who had bestowed it on his guest. He had, indeed, four
silver hanaps of his own, which had been left him by his grandmother,
of happy memory, but no more like the beautiful carving of that in his
guest's hand, than a peach was like a turnip--that was one of the famous
cups of Tours, wrought by Martin Dominique, an artist who might brag all
Paris.

"And, pray, who is this Maitre Pierre," said Durward, interrupting him,
"who confers such valuable gifts on strangers?"

"Who is Maitre Pierre?" said the host, dropping the words as slowly from
his mouth as if he had been distilling them.

"Ay," said Durward, hastily and peremptorily, "who is this Maitre
Pierre, and why does he throw about his bounties in this fashion?
And who is the butcherly looking fellow whom he sent forward to order
breakfast?"

"Why, fair sir, as to who Maitre Pierre is, you should have asked the
question of himself; and for the gentleman who ordered breakfast to be
made ready, may God keep us from his closer acquaintance!"

"There is something mysterious in all this," said the young Scot. "This
Maitre Pierre tells me he is a merchant."

"And if he told you so," said the innkeeper, "surely he is a merchant."

"What commodities does he deal in?"

"Oh, many a fair matter of traffic," said the host; "and especially he
has set up silk manufactories here which match those rich bales that
the Venetians bring from India and Cathay. You might see the rows
of mulberry trees as you came hither, all planted by Maitre Pierre's
command, to feed the silk worms."

"And that young person who brought in the confections, who is she, my
good friend?" said the guest.

"My lodger, sir, with her guardian, some sort of aunt or kinswoman, as I
think," replied the innkeeper.

"And do you usually employ your guests in waiting on each other?" said
Durward; "for I observed that Maitre Pierre would take nothing from your
hand, or that of your attendant."

"Rich men may have their fancies, for they can pay for them," said the
landlord; "this is not the first time Maitre Pierre has found the true
way to make gentlefolks serve at his beck."

The young Scotsman felt somewhat offended at the insinuation; but,
disguising his resentment, he asked whether he could be accommodated
with an apartment at this place for a day, and perhaps longer.

"Certainly," the innkeeper replied; "for whatever time he was pleased to
command it."

"Could he be permitted," he asked, "to pay his respects to the ladies,
whose fellow lodger he was about to become?"

The innkeeper was uncertain. "They went not abroad," he said, "and
received no one at home."

"With the exception, I presume, of Maitre Pierre?" said Durward.

"I am not at liberty to name any exceptions," answered the man, firmly
but respectfully.

Quentin, who carried the notions of his own importance pretty high,
considering how destitute he was of means to support them, being
somewhat mortified by the innkeeper's reply, did not hesitate to avail
himself of a practice common enough in that age. "Carry to the ladies,"
he said, "a flask of vernat, with my humble duty; and say that Quentin
Durward, of the house of Glen Houlakin, a Scottish cavalier of honour,
and now their fellow lodger, desires the permission to dedicate his
homage to them in a personal interview."

The messenger departed, and returned, almost instantly, with the thanks
of the ladies, who declined the proffered refreshment, and, with their
acknowledgments to the Scottish cavalier, regretted that, residing there
in privacy, they could not receive his visit.

Quentin bit his lip, took a cup of the rejected vernat, which the host
had placed on the table. "By the mass, but this is a strange country,"
said he to himself, "where merchants and mechanics exercise the manners
and munificence of nobles, and little travelling damsels, who hold their
court in a cabaret [a public house], keep their state like disguised
princesses! I will see that black browed maiden again, or it will go
hard, however;" and having formed this prudent resolution, he demanded
to be conducted to the apartment which he was to call his own.

The landlord presently ushered him up a turret staircase, and from
thence along a gallery, with many doors opening from it, like those of
cells in a convent; a resemblance which our young hero, who recollected,
with much ennui, an early specimen of a monastic life, was far from
admiring. The host paused at the very end of the gallery, selected a key
from the large bunch which he carried at his girdle, opened the door,
and showed his guest the interior of a turret chamber; small, indeed,
but which, being clean and solitary, and having the pallet bed and
the few articles of furniture, in unusually good order, seemed, on the
whole, a little palace.

"I hope you will find your dwelling agreeable here, fair sir," said the
landlord. "I am bound to pleasure every friend of Maitre Pierre."

"Oh, happy ducking!" exclaimed Quentin Durward, cutting a caper on
the floor, so soon as his host had retired: "Never came good luck in a
better or a wetter form. I have been fairly deluged by my good fortune."

As he spoke thus, he stepped towards the little window, which, as the
turret projected considerably from the principal line of the building,
not only commanded a very pretty garden of some extent, belonging to the
inn, but overlooked, beyond its boundary, a pleasant grove of those
very mulberry trees which Maitre Pierre was said to have planted for
the support of the silk worm. Besides, turning the eye from these more
remote objects, and looking straight along the wall, the turret of
Quentin was opposite to another turret, and the little window at which
he stood commanded a similar little window in a corresponding projection
of the building. Now, it would be difficult for a man twenty years older
than Quentin to say why this locality interested him more than either
the pleasant garden or the grove of mulberry trees; for, alas! eyes
which have been used for forty years and upwards, look with indifference
on little turret windows, though the lattice be half open to admit the
air, while the shutter is half closed to exclude the sun, or perhaps
a too curious eye--nay, even though there hang on the one side of the
casement a lute, partly mantled by a light veil of sea green silk. But,
at Durward's happy age, such accidents, as a painter would call them,
form sufficient foundation for a hundred airy visions and mysterious
conjectures, at recollection of which the full grown man smiles while he
sighs, and sighs while he smiles.

As it may be supposed that our friend Quentin wished to learn a little
more of his fair neighbour, the owner of the lute and veil--as it may be
supposed he was at least interested to know whether she might not prove
the same whom he had seen in humble attendance on Maitre Pierre, it must
of course be understood that he did not produce a broad staring visage
and person in full front of his own casement. Durward knew better the
art of bird catching; and it was to his keeping his person skilfully
withdrawn on one side of his window; while he peeped through the
lattice, that he owed the pleasure of seeing a white, round, beautiful
arm take down the instrument, and that his ears had presently after
their share in the reward of his dexterous management.

The maid of the little turret, of the veil, and of the lute sang exactly
such an air as we are accustomed to suppose flowed from the lips of the
high born dames of chivalry, when knights and troubadours listened and
languished. The words had neither so much sense, wit, or fancy as to
withdraw the attention from the music, nor the music so much of art as
to drown all feeling of the words. The one seemed fitted to the other;
and if the song had been recited without the notes, or the air played
without the words, neither would have been worth noting. It is;
therefore, scarcely fair to put upon record lines intended not to be
said or read, but only to be sung. But such scraps of old poetry have
always had a sort of fascination for us; and as the tune is lost for
ever unless Bishop [Sir Henry Rowley, an English composer and professor
of music at Oxford in 1848. Among his most popular operas are Guy
Mannering and The Kniqht of Snowdon] happens to find the notes, or some
lark teaches Stephens [Catherine (1794-1882): a vocalist and actress
who created Susanna in the Marriage of Figaro, and various parts in
adaptation of Scott.] to warble the air--we will risk our credit, and
the taste of the Lady of the Lute, by preserving the verses, simple and
even rude as they are:


     Ah! County Guy, the hour is nigh,
     The sun has left the lea,
     The orange flower perfumes the bower,
     The breeze is on the sea.
     The lark, his lay who thrill'd all day,
     Sits hush'd his partner nigh;
     Breeze, bird, and flower confess the hour,
     But where is County Guy?

     The village maid steals through the shade,
     Her shepherd's suit to hear;
     To beauty shy, by lattice high,
     Sings high born Cavalier.
     The star of Love, all stars above,
     Now reigns o'er earth and sky;
     And high and low the influence know
     --But where is County Guy?


Whatever the reader may think of this simple ditty, it had a powerful
effect on Quentin, when married to heavenly airs, and sung by a sweet
and melting voice, the notes mingling with the gentle breezes which
wafted perfumes from the garden, and the figure of the songstress
being so partially and obscurely visible as threw a veil of mysterious
fascination over the whole.

At the close of the air, the listener could not help showing himself
more boldly than he had yet done, in a rash attempt to see more than he
had yet been able to discover. The music instantly ceased--the casement
was closed, and a dark curtain, dropped on the inside, put a stop to all
farther observation on the part of the neighbour in the next turret.

Durward was mortified and surprised at the consequence of his
precipitance, but comforted himself with the hope that the Lady of the
Lute could neither easily forego the practice of an instrument which
seemed so familiar to her, nor cruelly resolve to renounce the pleasures
of fresh air and an open window for the churlish purpose of preserving
for her own exclusive ear the sweet sounds which she created. There
came, perhaps, a little feeling of personal vanity to mingle with these
consolatory reflections. If, as he shrewdly suspected, there was a
beautiful dark tressed damsel inhabitant of the one turret, he could not
but be conscious that a handsome, young, roving, bright locked gallant,
a cavalier of fortune, was the tenant of the other; and romances, those
prudent instructors, had taught his youth that if damsels were shy, they
were yet neither void of interest nor of curiosity in their neighbours'
affairs.

Whilst Quentin was engaged in these sage reflections, a sort of
attendant or chamberlain of the inn informed him that a cavalier desired
to speak with him below.



CHAPTER V: THE MAN AT ARMS

     Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard,
     Seeking the bubble reputation
     Even in the cannon's mouth.

     AS YOU LIKE IT


The cavalier who awaited Quentin Durward's descent into the apartment
where he had breakfasted, was one of those of whom Louis XI had long
since said that they held in their hands the fortune of France, as
to them were intrusted the direct custody and protection of the royal
person.

Charles the Sixth had instituted this celebrated body, the Archers, as
they were called, of the Scottish Bodyguard, with better reason than
can generally be alleged for establishing round the throne a guard of
foreign and mercenary troops. The divisions which tore from his side
more than half of France, together with the wavering and uncertain faith
of the nobility who yet acknowledged his cause, rendered it impolitic
and unsafe to commit his personal safety to their keeping. The Scottish
nation was the hereditary enemy of the English, and the ancient, and,
as it seemed, the natural allies of France. They were poor, courageous,
faithful; their ranks were sure to be supplied from the superabundant
population of their own country, than which none in Europe sent forth
more or bolder adventurers. Their high claims of descent, too, gave them
a good title to approach the person of a monarch more closely than other
troops, while the comparative smallness of their numbers prevented the
possibility of their mutinying, and becoming masters where they ought to
be servants.

On the other hand, the French monarchs made it their policy to
conciliate the affections of this select band of foreigners, by allowing
them honorary privileges and ample pay, which last most of them disposed
of with military profusion in supporting their supposed rank. Each of
them ranked as a gentleman in place and honour; and their near approach
to the King's person gave them dignity in their own eyes, as well as
importance in those of the nation of France. They were sumptuously
armed, equipped, and mounted; and each was entitled to allowance for
a squire, a valet, a page; and two yeomen, one of whom was termed
coutelier, from the large knife which he wore to dispatch those whom in
the melee his master had thrown to the ground. With these followers, and
a corresponding equipage, an Archer of the Scottish Guard was a person
of quality and importance; and vacancies being generally filled up by
those who had been trained in the service as pages or valets, the cadets
of the best Scottish families were often sent to serve under some friend
and relation in those capacities, until a chance of preferment should
occur.

The coutelier and his companion, not being noble or capable of this
promotion, were recruited from persons of inferior quality; but as their
pay and appointments were excellent, their masters were easily able
to select from among their wandering countrymen the strongest and most
courageous to wait upon them in these capacities.

Ludovic Lesly, or as we shall more frequently call him, Le Balafre, by
which name he was generally known in France, was upwards of six feet
high, robust, strongly compacted in person, and hard favoured in
countenance, which latter attribute was much increased by a large and
ghastly scar, which, beginning on his forehead, and narrowly missing
his right eye, had laid bare the cheek bone, and descended from
thence almost to the tip of his ear, exhibiting a deep seam, which
was sometimes scarlet, sometimes purple, sometimes blue, and sometimes
approaching to black; but always hideous, because at variance with
the complexion of the face in whatever state it chanced to be, whether
agitated or still, flushed with unusual passion, or in its ordinary
state of weather-beaten and sunburnt swarthiness.

His dress and arms were splendid. He wore his national bonnet, crested
with a tuft of feathers, and with a Virgin Mary of massive silver for
a brooch. These brooches had been presented to the Scottish Guard, in
consequence of the King, in one of his fits of superstitions piety,
having devoted the swords of his guard to the service of the Holy
Virgin, and, as some say, carried the matter so far as to draw out a
commission to Our Lady as their Captain General. The Archer's gorget,
arm pieces, and gauntlets, were of the finest steel, curiously inlaid
with silver, and his hauberk, or shirt of mail, was as clear and bright
as the frostwork of a winter morning upon fern or brier. He wore a loose
surcoat or cassock of rich blue velvet, open at the sides like that of
a herald, with a large white St. Andrew's cross of embroidered silver
bisecting it both before and behind; his knees and legs were protected
by hose of mail and shoes of steel; a broad, strong poniard (called the
Mercy of God), hung by his right side; the baldric for his two handed
sword, richly embroidered, hung upon his left shoulder; but for
convenience he at present carried in his hand that unwieldy weapon which
the rules of his service forbade him to lay aside.

[St. Andrew was the first called to apostleship. He made many converts
to Christianity and was finally crucified on a cross of peculiar form,
which has since been called the St. Andrew's cross. Certain of his
relics were brought to Scotland in the fourth century, and he has since
that time been honoured as the patron saint of that country. He is also
the patron saint of the Burgundian Order, the Golden Fleece.]

Quentin Durward--though, like the Scottish youth of the period, he had
been early taught to look upon arms and war--thought he had never seen
a more martial looking, or more completely equipped and accomplished
man at arms than now saluted him in the person of his mother's brother,
called Ludovic with the Scar, or Le Balafre; yet he could not but shrink
a little from the grim expression of his countenance, while, with its
rough moustaches, he brushed first the one and then the other cheek of
his kinsman, welcomed his nephew to France, and, in the same breath,
asked what news from Scotland.

"Little good tidings, dear uncle," replied young Durward; "but I am glad
that you know me so readily."

"I would have known thee, boy, in the landes of Bourdeaux, had I met
thee marching there like a crane on a pair of stilts [the crutches or
stilts which in Scotland are used to pass rivers. They are employed by
the peasantry of the country near Bordeaux to traverse those deserts of
loose sand called Landes. S]. But sit thee down--sit thee down--if there
is sorrow to hear of, we will have wine to make us bear it.--Ho! old
Pinch Measure, our good host, bring us of thy best, and that in an
instant."

The well known sound of the Scottish French was as familiar in
the taverns near Plessis as that of the Swiss French in the modern
guinguettes [common inns] of Paris; and promptly--ay, with the
promptitude of fear and precipitation, was it heard and obeyed. A flagon
of champagne stood before them, of which the elder took a draught, while
the nephew helped himself only to a moderate sip to acknowledge his
uncle's courtesy, saying, in excuse, that he had already drunk wine that
morning.

"That had been a rare good apology in the mouth of thy sister, fair
nephew," said Le Balafre; "you must fear the wine pot less, if you
would wear beard on your face, and write yourself soldier. But,
come--come--unbuckle your Scottish mail bag--give us the news of Glen
Houlakin--How doth my sister?"

"Dead, fair uncle," answered Quentin, sorrowfully.

"Dead!" echoed his uncle, with a tone rather marked by wonder than
sympathy,--"why, she was five years younger than I, and I was never
better in my life. Dead! the thing is impossible. I have never had so
much as a headache, unless after revelling out of my two or three days'
furlough with the brethren of the joyous science--and my poor sister is
dead--And your father, fair nephew, hath he married again?"

And, ere the youth could reply, he read the answer in his surprise at
the question, and said, "What! no--I would have sworn that Allan
Durward was no man to live without a wife. He loved to have his house in
order--loved to look on a pretty woman too; and was somewhat strict in
life withal--matrimony did all this for him. Now, I care little about
these comforts, and I can look on a pretty woman without thinking on the
sacrament of wedlock--I am scarce holy enough for that."

"Alas! dear uncle, my mother was left a widow a year since, when Glen
Houlakin was harried by the Ogilvies. My father, and my two uncles, and
my two elder brothers, and seven of my kinsmen, and the harper, and the
tasker, and some six more of our people, were killed in defending the
castle, and there is not a burning hearth or a standing stone in all
Glen Houlakin."

"Cross of Saint Andrew!" said Le Balafre; "that is what I call an
onslaught! Ay, these Ogilvies were ever but sorry neighbours to Glen
Houlakin--an evil chance it was; but fate of war--fate of war.--When did
this mishap befall, fair nephew?" With that he took a deep draught of
wine, and shook his head with much solemnity, when his kinsman replied
that his family had been destroyed upon the festival of Saint Jude
[October 28] last bypast.

"Look ye there," said the soldier; "I said it was all chance--on that
very day I and twenty of my comrades carried the Castle of Roche Noir by
storm, from Amaury Bras de fer, a captain of free lances, whom you must
have heard of. I killed him on his own threshold, and gained as much
gold as made this fair chain, which was once twice as long as it now
is--and that minds me to send part of it on an holy errand.--Here,
Andrew--Andrew!"

Andrew, his yeoman, entered, dressed like the Archer himself in the
general equipment, but without the armour for the limbs--that of the
body more coarsely manufactured--his cap without a plume, and his
cassock made of serge, or ordinary cloth, instead of rich velvet.
Untwining his gold chain from his neck, Balafre twisted off, with his
firm and strong set teeth, about four inches from the one end of it,
and said to his attendant, "Here, Andrew, carry this to my gossip, jolly
Father Boniface, the monk of St. Martin's; greet him well from me, by
the same token that he could not say God save ye when we last parted at
midnight.--Tell my gossip that my brother and sister, and some others of
my house, are all dead and gone, and I pray him to say masses for their
souls as far as the value of these links will carry him, and to do on
trust what else may be necessary to free them from Purgatory. And hark
ye, as they were just living people, and free from all heresy, it may
be that they are well nigh out of limbo already, so that a little matter
may have them free of the fetlocks; and in that case, look ye, ye
will say I desire to take out the balance of the gold in curses upon a
generation called the Ogilvies of Angus Shire, in what way soever the
church may best come at them. You understand all this, Andrew?"

The coutelier nodded.

"Then look that none of the links find their way to the wine house ere
the monk touches them; for if it so chance, thou shalt taste of saddle
girth and stirrup leather till thou art as raw as Saint Bartholomew [he
was flayed alive. In Michael Angelo's Last Judgment he is represented as
holding his skin in his hand]--Yet hold, I see thy eye has fixed on the
wine measure, and thou shalt not go without tasting."

So saying, he filled him a brimful cup, which the coutelier drank off,
and retired to do his patron's commission.

"And now, fair nephew, let us hear what was your own fortune in this
unhappy matter."

"I fought it out among those who were older and stouter than I was, till
we were all brought down," said Durward, "and I received a cruel wound."

"Not a worse slash than I received ten years since myself," said Le
Balafre. "Look at this, now, my fair nephew," tracing the dark crimson
gash which was imprinted on his face.--"An Ogilvy's sword never ploughed
so deep a furrow."

"They ploughed deep enough," answered Quentin, sadly, "but they were
tired at last, and my mother's entreaties procured mercy for me, when I
was found to retain some spark of life; but although a learned monk of
Aberbrothik, who chanced to be our guest at the fatal time, and narrowly
escaped being killed in the fray, was permitted to bind my wounds, and
finally to remove me to a place of safety, it was only on promise, given
both by my mother and him, that I should become a monk."

"A monk!" exclaimed the uncle. "Holy Saint Andrew! that is what never
befell me. No one, from my childhood upwards, ever so much as dreamed
of making me a monk. And yet I wonder when I think of it; for you will
allow that, bating the reading and writing, which I could never learn,
and the psalmody, which I could never endure, and the dress, which is
that of a mad beggar--Our Lady forgive me! [here he crossed himself] and
their fasts, which do not suit my appetite, I would have made every whit
as good a monk as my little gossip at St. Martin's yonder. But I know
not why, none ever proposed the station to me.--Oh, so, fair nephew, you
were to be a monk, then--and wherefore, I pray you?"

"That my father's house might be ended, either in the cloister or in the
tomb," answered Quentin, with deep feeling.

"I see," answered his uncle--"I comprehend. Cunning rogues--very
cunning! They might have been cheated, though; for, look ye, fair
nephew, I myself remember the canon Robersart who had taken the vows
and afterwards broke out of cloister, and became a captain of Free
Companions. He had a mistress, the prettiest wench I ever saw, and three
as beautiful children.--There is no trusting monks, fair nephew--no
trusting them--they may become soldiers and fathers when you least
expect it--but on with your tale."

"I have little more to tell," said Durward, "except that, considering my
poor mother to be in some degree a pledge for me, I was induced to take
upon me the dress of a novice, and conformed to the cloister rules, and
even learned to read and write."

"To read and write!" exclaimed Le Balafre, who was one of that sort of
people who think all knowledge is miraculous which chances to exceed
their own. "To write, say'st thou, and to read! I cannot believe
it--never Durward could write his name that ever I heard of, nor Lesly
either. I can answer for one of them--I can no more write than I can
fly. Now, in Saint Louis's name, how did they teach it you?"

"It was troublesome at first," said Durward, "but became more easy by
use; and I was weak with my wounds, and loss of blood, and desirous to
gratify my preserver, Father Peter, and so I was the more easily kept
to my task. But after several months' languishing, my good, kind mother
died, and as my health was now fully restored, I communicated to my
benefactor, who was also Sub Prior of the convent, my reluctance to take
the vows; and it was agreed between us, since my vocation lay not to the
cloister, that I should be sent out into the world to seek my fortune,
and that to save the Sub Prior from the anger of the Ogilvies, my
departure should have the appearance of flight; and to colour it I
brought off the Abbot's hawk with me. But I was regularly dismissed, as
will appear from the hand and seal of the Abbot himself."

"That is right, that is well," said his uncle. "Our King cares little
what other theft thou mayst have made, but hath a horror at anything
like a breach of the cloister. And I warrant thee, thou hadst no great
treasure to bear thy charges?"

"Only a few pieces of silver," said the youth; "for to you, fair uncle,
I must make a free confession."

"Alas!" replied Le Balafre, "that is hard. Now, though I am never a
hoarder of my pay, because it doth ill to bear a charge about one in
these perilous times, yet I always have (and I would advise you to
follow my example) some odd gold chain, or bracelet, or carcanet,
that serves for the ornament of my person, and can at need spare a
superfluous link or two, or it may be a superfluous stone for sale, that
can answer any immediate purpose. But you may ask, fair kinsman, how you
are to come by such toys as this." (He shook his chain with complacent
triumph.) "They hang not on every bush--they grow not in the fields like
the daffodils, with whose stalks children make knights' collars. What
then?--you may get such where I got this, in the service of the good
King of France, where there is always wealth to be found, if a man has
but the heart to seek it at the risk of a little life or so."

"I understood," said Quentin, evading a decision to which he felt
himself as yet scarcely competent, "that the Duke of Burgundy keeps a
more noble state than the King of France, and that there is more honour
to be won under his banners--that good blows are struck there, and
deeds of arms done; while the most Christian King, they say, gains his
victories by his ambassadors' tongues."

"You speak like a foolish boy, fair nephew," answered he with the scar;
"and yet, I bethink me, when I came hither I was nearly as simple: I
could never think of a King but what I supposed him either sitting under
the high deas, and feasting amid his high vassals and Paladins, eating
blanc mange, with a great gold crown upon his head, or else charging at
the head of his troops like Charlemagne in the romaunts, or like Robert
Bruce or William Wallace in our own true histories, such as Barbour and
the Minstrel. Hark in thine ear, man--it is all moonshine in the water.
Policy--policy does it all. But what is policy, you will say? It is an
art this French King of ours has found out, to fight with other men's
swords, and to wage his soldiers out of other men's purses. Ah! it is
the wisest prince that ever put purple on his back--and yet he weareth
not much of that neither--I see him often go plainer than I would think
befitted me to do."

[Charlemagne (742?-814): King of the Franks and crowned Emperor of the
Holy Roman Empire in 800. His kingdom included Germany and France, the
greater part of Italy, and Spain as far as the Ebro. As Emperor of the
West he bore the title Caesar Augustus. He established churches and
monasteries, and encouraged arts and learning. He figures largely
in mediaeval minstrelsy, where the achievements of his knights, or
paladins, rival those of Arthur's court.]

[Robert Bruce: the grandson of Robert Bruce, the competitor with John
Baliol for the Scottish throne. He defeated the English forces at
Bannockburn in 1314, and thus secured the independence of Scotland, an
independence which lasted until the two kingdoms were united under one
crown in 1707.]

[William Wallace: another brave Scottish leader in the war for
independence against Edward I of England. Wallace was betrayed in 1305
and carried to London, where he was cruelly executed as a traitor.]

[Barbour: an eminent Scottish poet contemporary with Chaucer. His
principal work, The Bruce, records the life and deeds of Robert Bruce.]

[Harry the Minstrel or "Blind Harry" was the author of a poem on the
life and deeds of Wallace which was held in peculiar reverence by the
Scotch people.]

"But you meet not my exception, fair uncle," answered young Durward;
"I would serve, since serve I must in a foreign land, somewhere where a
brave deed, were it my hap to do one, might work me a name."

"I understand you, my fair nephew," said the royal man at arms, "I
understand you passing well; but you are unripe in these matters. The
Duke of Burgundy is a hot brained, impetuous, pudding headed, iron
ribbed dare all. He charges at the head of his nobles and native
knights, his liegemen of Artois and Hainault; think you, if you were
there, or if I were there myself, that we could be much farther forward
than the Duke and all his brave nobles of his own land? If we were not
up with them, we had a chance to be turned on the Provost Marshal's
hands for being slow in making to; if we were abreast of them, all would
be called well and we might be thought to have deserved our pay; and
grant that I was a spear's length or so in the front, which is both
difficult and dangerous in such a melee where all do their best, why, my
lord Duke says in his Flemish tongue, when he sees a good blow struck,
'Ha! gut getroffen [well struck]! a good lance--a brave Scot--give him a
florin to drink our health;' but neither rank, nor lands, nor treasures
come to the stranger in such a service--all goes to the children of the
soil."

"And where should it go, in Heaven's name, fair uncle?" demanded young
Durward.

"To him that protects the children of the soil," said Balafre,
drawing up his gigantic height. "Thus says King Louis 'My good French
peasant--mine honest Jacques Bonhomme, get you to your tools, your
plough and your harrow, your pruning knife and your hoe--here is my
gallant Scot that will fight for you, and you shall only have the
trouble to pay him. And you, my most serene duke, my illustrious count,
and my most mighty marquis, e'en rein up your fiery courage till it
is wanted, for it is apt to start out of the course, and to hurt
its master; here are my companies of ordnance--here are my French
Guards--here are, above all, my Scottish Archers, and mine honest
Ludovic with the Scar, who will fight, as well or better than you, will
fight with all that undisciplined valour which, in your father's time,
lost Cressy and Azincour [two famous victories in the Hundred Years'
War gained over the French by the English, near the towns of Crecy and
Agincourt, in 1346 and 1415. See Shakespeare's Henry V for a description
of the latter.]. Now, see you not in which of these states a cavalier of
fortune holds the highest rank, and must come to the highest honour?"

"I think I understand you, fair uncle," answered the nephew; "but, in my
mind, honour cannot be won where there is no risk. Sure, this is--I pray
pardon me--an easy and almost slothful life, to mount guard round an
elderly man whom no one thinks of harming, to spend summer day and
winter night up in yonder battlements, and shut up all the while in iron
cages, for fear you should desert your posts--uncle, uncle, it is but a
hawk upon his perch, who is never carried out to the fields!"

"Now, by Saint Martin of Tours, the boy has some spirit! a right touch
of the Lesly in him; much like myself, though always with a little more
folly in it. Hark ye, youth--Long live the King of France!--scarce a day
but there is some commission in hand, by which some of his followers may
win both coin and credit. Think not that the bravest and most dangerous
deeds are done by daylight. I could tell you of some, as scaling
castles, making prisoners, and the like, where one who shall be nameless
hath run higher risk and gained greater favour than any desperado in the
train of desperate Charles of Burgundy. And if it please his Majesty to
remain behind, and in the background, while such things are doing, he
hath the more leisure of spirit to admire, and the more liberality of
hand to reward the adventurers, whose dangers, perhaps, and whose feats
of arms, he can better judge of than if he had personally shared them.
Oh, 't is a sagacious and most politic monarch!"

His nephew paused, and then said, in a low but impressive tone of voice,
"the good Father Peter used often to teach me there might be much danger
in deeds by which little glory was acquired. I need not say to you, fair
uncle, that I do in course suppose that these secret commissions must
needs be honourable."

"For whom or for what take you me, fair nephew," said Balafre, somewhat
sternly; "I have not been trained, indeed, in the cloister, neither can
I write or read. But I am your mother's brother; I am a loyal Lesly.
Think you that I am like to recommend to you anything unworthy? The best
knight in France, Du Guesclin himself, if he were alive again, might be
proud to number my deeds among his achievements."

"I cannot doubt your warranty, fair uncle," said the youth; "you are the
only adviser my mishap has left me. But is it true, as fame says, that
this King keeps a meagre Court here at his Castle of Plessis? No repair
of nobles or courtiers, none of his grand feudatories in attendance,
none of the high officers of the crown; half solitary sports, shared
only with the menials of his household; secret councils, to which only
low and obscure men are invited; rank and nobility depressed, and men
raised from the lowest origin to the kingly favour--all this seems
unregulated, resembles not the manners of his father, the noble
Charles, who tore from the fangs of the English lion this more than half
conquered kingdom of France."

"You speak like a giddy child," said Le Balafre, "and even as a child,
you harp over the same notes on a new string. Look you: if the King
employs Oliver Dain, his barber, to do what Oliver can do better than
any peer of them all, is not the kingdom the gainer? If he bids his
stout Provost Marshal, Tristan, arrest such or such a seditious burgher,
take off such or such a turbulent noble, the deed is done, and no more
of it; when, were the commission given to a duke or peer of France, he
might perchance send the King back a defiance in exchange. If, again,
the King pleases to give to plain Ludovic le Balafre a commission which
he will execute, instead of employing the High Constable, who would
perhaps betray it, doth it not show wisdom? Above all, doth not a
monarch of such conditions best suit cavaliers of fortune, who must
go where their services are most highly prized, and most frequently
in demand?--No, no, child, I tell thee Louis knows how to choose his
confidants, and what to charge them with; suiting, as they say, the
burden to each man's back. He is not like the King of Castile, who
choked with thirst, because the great butler was not beside to hand his
cup.--But hark to the bell of St. Martin's! I must hasten, back to the
Castle--Farewell--make much of yourself, and at eight tomorrow morning
present yourself before the drawbridge, and ask the sentinel for me.
Take heed you step not off the straight and beaten path in approaching
the portal! There are such traps and snap haunches as may cost you a
limb, which you will sorely miss. You shall see the King, and learn to
judge him for yourself--farewell."

So saying, Balafre hastily departed, forgetting, in his hurry, to pay
for the wine he had called for, a shortness of memory incidental to
persons of his description, and which his host, overawed perhaps by the
nodding bonnet and ponderous two handed sword, did not presume to use
any efforts for correcting. It might have been expected that, when left
alone, Durward would have again betaken himself to his turret, in order
to watch for the repetition of those delicious sounds which had soothed
his morning reverie. But that was a chapter of romance, and his uncle's
conversation had opened to him a page of the real history of life.
It was no pleasing one, and for the present the recollections and
reflections which it excited were qualified to overpower other thoughts,
and especially all of a light and soothing nature.

Quentin resorted to a solitary walk along the banks of the rapid Cher,
having previously inquired of his landlord for one which he might
traverse without fear of disagreeable interruption from snares and
pitfalls, and there endeavoured to compose his turmoiled and scattered
thoughts, and consider his future motions, upon which his meeting with
his uncle had thrown some dubiety.



CHAPTER VI: THE BOHEMIANS

     Sae rantingly, sae wantingly,
     Sae dantingly gaed he,
     He play'd a spring and danced a round
     Beneath the gallows tree!

     OLD SONG


[The Bohemians: In... Guy Mannering the reader will find some remarks
on the gipsies as they are found in Scotland. Their first appearance in
Europe took place in the beginning of the fifteenth century. The account
given by these singular people was, that it was appointed to them, as
a penance, to travel for a certain number of years. Their appearance,
however, and manners, strongly contradicted the allegation that they
travelled from any religious motive. Their dress and accoutrements were
at once showy and squalid; those who acted as captains and leaders of
any horde,... were arrayed in dresses of the most showy colours, such
as scarlet or light green; were well mounted; assumed the title of dukes
and counts, and affected considerable consequence. The rest of the tribe
were most miserable in their diet and apparel, fed without hesitation
on animals which had died of disease, and were clad in filthy and scanty
rags.... Their complexion was positively Eastern, approaching to that of
the Hindoos. Their manners were as depraved as their appearance was poor
and beggarly. The men were in general thieves, and the women of the most
abandoned character. The few arts which they studied with success were
of a slight and idle, though ingenious description. They practised
working in iron, but never upon any great scale. Many were good
sportsmen, good musicians.... But their ingenuity never ascended into
industry.... Their pretensions to read fortunes, by palmistry and by
astrology, acquired them sometimes respect, but oftener drew them under
suspicion as sorcerers; the universal accusation that they augmented
their horde by stealing children, subjected them to doubt and
execration.... The pretension set up by these wanderers, of being
pilgrims in the act of penance, although it... in many instances
obtained them protection from the governments of the countries through
which they travelled, was afterwards totally disbelieved, and they
were considered as incorrigible rogues and vagrants.... A curious and
accurate account of their arrival in France is quoted by Pasquier "On
August 27th, 1427, came to Paris twelve penitents,... viz. a duke,
an earl, and ten men, all on horseback, and calling themselves good
Christians. They were of Lower Egypt, and gave out that, not long
before, the Christians had subdued their country, and obliged them
to embrace Christianity on pain of being put to death. Those who were
baptized were great lords in their own country, and had a king and queen
there. Soon after their conversion, the Saracens overran the country,
and obliged them to renounce Christianity. When the Emperor of Germany,
the King of Poland, and other Christian princes heard of this, they fell
upon them, and obliged the whole of them, both great and small, to quit
the country, and go to the Pope at Rome, who enjoined them seven years'
penance to wander over the world, without lying in a bed. They had been
wandering five years when they came to Paris first.... Nearly all of
them had their ears bored, and wore two silver rings in each.... The men
were black, their hair curled; the women remarkably black, their only
clothes a large old duffle garment, tied over the shoulders with a
cloth or cord, and under it a miserable rocket;... notwithstanding
their poverty, there were among them women who, by looking into people's
hands, told their fortunes, and what was worse, they picked people's
pockets of their money, and got it into their own, by telling these
things through airy magic, et cetera." Pasquier remarks upon this
singular journal that however the story of a penance savours of a trick,
these people wandered up and down France, under the eye, and with the
knowledge, of the magistrates, for more than a hundred years; and it was
not till 1561, that a sentence of banishment was passed against them
in that kingdom. The arrival of the Egyptians (as these singular people
were called) in various parts of Europe, corresponds with the period in
which Timur or Tamerlane invaded Hindostan, affording its natives the
choice between the Koran and death. There can be little doubt that
these wanderers consisted originally of the Hindostanee tribes, who,
displaced, and flying from the sabres of the Mohammedans, undertook this
species of wandering life, without well knowing whither they were going.
When they are in closest contact with the ordinary peasants around
them, they still keep their language a mystery. There is little doubt,
however, that it is a dialect of the Hindostanee, from the specimens
produced by Grellman, Hoyland, and others, who have written on the
subject. S.]

The manner in which Quentin Durward had been educated was not of a kind
to soften the heart, or perhaps to improve the moral feeling. He, with
the rest of his family, had been trained to the chase as an amusement,
and taught to consider war as their only serious occupation, and that it
was the great duty of their lives stubbornly to endure, and fiercely to
retaliate, the attacks of their feudal enemies, by whom their race had
been at last almost annihilated. And yet there mixed with these feuds a
spirit of rude chivalry, and even courtesy, which softened their rigour;
so that revenge, their only justice, was still prosecuted with some
regard to humanity and generosity. The lessons of the worthy old monk,
better attended to, perhaps, during a long illness and adversity, than
they might have been in health and success, had given young Durward
still farther insight into the duties of humanity towards others;
and considering the ignorance of the period, the general prejudices
entertained in favour of a military life, and the manner in which he
himself had been bred, the youth was disposed to feel more accurately
the moral duties incumbent on his station than was usual at the time.

He reflected on his interview with his uncle with a sense of
embarrassment and disappointment. His hopes had been high; for although
intercourse by letters was out of the question, yet a pilgrim, or an
adventurous trafficker, or a crippled soldier sometimes brought Lesly's
name to Glen Houlakin, and all united in praising his undaunted courage,
and his success in many petty enterprises which his master had intrusted
to him. Quentin's imagination had filled up the sketch in his own way,
and assimilated his successful and adventurous uncle (whose exploits
probably lost nothing in the telling) to some of the champions and
knights errant of whom minstrels sung and who won crowns and kings'
daughters by dint of sword and lance. He was now compelled to rank his
kinsman greatly lower in the scale of chivalry; but, blinded by the high
respect paid to parents and those who approach that character--moved
by every early prejudice in his favour--inexperienced besides, and
passionately attached to his mother's memory, he saw not, in the only
brother of that dear relation, the character he truly held, which was
that of an ordinary mercenary soldier, neither much worse nor greatly
better than many of the same profession whose presence added to the
distracted state of France.

Without being wantonly cruel, Le Balafre was, from habit, indifferent
to human life and human suffering; he was profoundly ignorant, greedy of
booty, unscrupulous how he acquired it, and profuse in expending it on
the gratification of his passions. The habit of attending exclusively
to his own wants and interests had converted him into one of the most
selfish animals in the world; so that he was seldom able, as the reader
may have remarked, to proceed far in any subject without considering
how it applied to himself, or, as it is called, making the case his own,
though not upon feelings connected with the golden rule, but such as
were very different. To this must be added that the narrow round of
his duties and his pleasures had gradually circumscribed his thoughts,
hopes, and wishes, and quenched in a great measure the wild spirit of
honour, and desire of distinction in arms, by which his youth had been
once animated.

Balafre was, in short, a keen soldier, hardened, selfish, and narrow
minded; active and bold in the discharge of his duty, but acknowledging
few objects beyond it, except the formal observance of a careless
devotion, relieved by an occasional debauch with brother Boniface, his
comrade and confessor. Had his genius been of a more extended character,
he would probably have been promoted to some important command, for the
King, who knew every soldier of his bodyguard personally, reposed much
confidence in Balafre's courage and fidelity; and besides, the Scot had
either wisdom or cunning enough perfectly to understand, and ably
to humour, the peculiarities of that sovereign. Still, however, his
capacity was too much limited to admit of his rising to higher rank,
and though smiled on and favoured by Louis on many occasions, Balafre
continued a mere Life Guardsman, or Scottish Archer.

Without seeing the full scope of his uncle's character, Quentin felt
shocked at his indifference to the disastrous extirpation of his brother
in law's whole family, and could not help being surprised, moreover,
that so near a relative had not offered him the assistance of his purse,
which, but for the generosity of Maitre Pierre, he would have been
under the necessity of directly craving from him. He wronged his uncle,
however, in supposing that this want of attention to his probable
necessities was owing to avarice. Not precisely needing money himself at
that moment, it had not occurred to Balafre that his nephew might be in
exigencies; otherwise, he held a near kinsman so much a part of himself,
that he would have provided for the weal of the living nephew, as he
endeavoured to do for that of his deceased sister and her husband. But
whatever was the motive, the neglect was very unsatisfactory to young
Durward, and he wished more than once he had taken service with the Duke
of Burgundy before he quarrelled with his forester. "Whatever had then
become of me," he thought to himself, "I should always have been able to
keep up my spirits with the reflection that I had, in case of the worst,
a stout back friend in this uncle of mine. But now I have seen him, and,
woe worth him, there has been more help in a mere mechanical stranger,
than I have found in my own mother's brother, my countryman and a
cavalier! One would think the slash, that has carved all comeliness out
of his face, had let at the same time every drop of gentle blood out of
his body."

Durward now regretted he had not had an opportunity to mention Maitre
Pierre to Le Balafre, in the hope of obtaining some farther account
of that personage; but his uncle's questions had followed fast on each
other, and the summons of the great bell of Saint Martin of Tours had
broken off their conference rather suddenly. That old man, he thought
to himself, was crabbed and dogged in appearance, sharp and scornful in
language, but generous and liberal in his actions; and such a stranger
is worth a cold kinsman.

"What says our old Scottish proverb?--'Better kind fremit, than fremit
kindred.' ['Better kind strangers than estranged kindred.' The motto is
engraved on a dirk, belonging to a person who had but too much reason to
choose such a device. It was left by him to my father. The weapon is now
in my possession. S.] I will find out that man, which, methinks, should
be no difficult task, since he is so wealthy as mine host bespeaks him.
He will give me good advice for my governance, at least; and if he goes
to strange countries, as many such do, I know not but his may be as
adventurous a service as that of those Guards of Louis."

As Quentin framed this thought, a whisper from those recesses of the
heart in which lies much that the owner does not know of, or will
not acknowledge willingly, suggested that, perchance, the lady of the
turret, she of the veil and lute, might share that adventurous journey.
As the Scottish youth made these reflections, he met two grave looking
men, apparently citizens of Tours, whom, doffing his cap with the
reverence due from youth to age, he respectfully asked to direct him to
the house of Maitre Pierre.

"The house of whom, my fair son?" said one of the passengers.

"Of Maitre Pierre, the great silk merchant, who planted all the mulberry
trees in the park yonder," said Durward.

"Young man," said one of them who was nearest to him, "you have taken up
an idle trade a little too early."

"And have chosen wrong subjects to practise your fooleries upon,"
said the farther one, still more gruffly. "The Syndic of Tours is
not accustomed to be thus talked to by strolling jesters from foreign
parts."

Quentin was so much surprised at the causeless offence which these two
decent looking persons had taken at a very simple and civil question,
that he forgot to be angry at the rudeness of their reply, and stood
staring after them as they walked on with amended pace, often looking
back at him, as if they were desirous to get as soon as possible out of
his reach.

He next met a party of vine dressers, and addressed to them the same
question; and in reply, they demanded to know whether he wanted Maitre
Pierre, the schoolmaster? or Maitre Pierre, the carpenter? or Maitre
Pierre, the beadle? or half a dozen of Maitre Pierres besides. When none
of these corresponded with the description of the person after whom he
inquired, the peasants accused him of jesting with them impertinently,
and threatened to fall upon him and beat him, in guerdon of his
raillery. The oldest amongst them, who had some influence over the rest,
prevailed on them to desist from violence.

"You see by his speech and his fool's cap," said he, "that he is one
of the foreign mountebanks who are come into the country, and whom some
call magicians and soothsayers, and some jugglers, and the like, and
there is no knowing what tricks they have amongst them. I have heard of
such a one's paying a liard [a small copper coin worth a quarter of a
cent, current in France in the fifteenth century.] to eat his bellyfull
of grapes in a poor man's vineyard; and he ate as many as would have
loaded a wain, and never undid a button of his jerkin--and so let him
pass quietly, and keep his way, as we will keep ours.--And you, friend,
if you would shun worse, walk quietly on, in the name of God, our Lady
of Marmoutier, and Saint Martin of Tours, and trouble us no more about
your Maitre Pierre, which may be another name for the devil, for aught
we know."

The Scot finding himself much the weaker party, judged it his Wisest
course to walk on without reply; but the peasants, who at first shrunk
from him in horror, at his supposed talents for sorcery and grape
devouring, took heart of grace as he got to a distance, and having
uttered a few cries and curses, finally gave them emphasis with a shower
of stones, although at such a distance as to do little or no harm to the
object of their displeasure. Quentin, as he pursued his walk, began to
think, in his turn, either that he himself lay under a spell, or that
the people of Touraine were the most stupid, brutal, and inhospitable of
the French peasants. The next incident which came under his observation
did not tend to diminish this opinion.

On a slight eminence, rising above the rapid and beautiful Cher, in
the direct line of his path, two or three large chestnut trees were
so happily placed as to form a distinguished and remarkable group; and
beside them stood three or four peasants, motionless, with their eyes
turned upwards, and fixed, apparently, upon some object amongst the
branches of the tree next to them. The meditations of youth are seldom
so profound as not to yield to the slightest, impulse of curiosity, as
easily as the lightest pebble, dropped casually from the hand, breaks
the surface of a limpid pool. Quentin hastened his pace, and ran lightly
up the rising ground, in time enough to witness the ghastly spectacle
which attracted the notice of these gazers--which was nothing less than
the body of a man, convulsed by the last agony, suspended on one of the
branches.

"Why do you not cut him down?" said the young Scot, whose hand was as
ready to assist affliction, as to maintain his own honour when he deemed
it assailed.

One of the peasants, turning on him an eye from which fear had banished
all expression but its own, and a face as pale as clay, pointed to a
mark cut upon the bark of the tree, having the same rude resemblance
to a fleur de lys which certain talismanic scratches, well known to
our revenue officers, bear to a broad arrow. Neither understanding nor
heeding the import of this symbol, young Durward sprung lightly as
the ounce up into the tree, drew from his pouch that most necessary
implement of a Highlander or woodsman, the trusty skene dhu [black
knife; a species of knife without clasp or hinge formerly much used
by the Highlanders, who seldom travelled without such an ugly weapon,
though it is now rarely used. S.], and, calling to those below to
receive the body on their hands, cut the rope asunder in less than a
minute after he had perceived the exigency.

But his humanity was ill seconded by the bystanders. So far from
rendering Durward any assistance, they seemed terrified at the audacity
of his action, and took to flight with one consent, as if they feared
their merely looking on might have been construed into accession to his
daring deed. The body, unsupported from beneath, fell heavily to earth
in such a manner that Quentin, who presently afterwards jumped down, had
the mortification to see that the last sparks of life were extinguished.
He gave not up his charitable purpose, however, without farther efforts.
He freed the wretched man's neck from the fatal noose, undid the
doublet, threw water on the face, and practised the other ordinary
remedies resorted to for recalling suspended animation.

While he was thus humanely engaged, a wild clamour of tongues, speaking
a language which he knew not, arose around him; and he had scarcely time
to observe that he was surrounded by several men and women of a singular
and foreign appearance, when he found himself roughly seized by both
arms, while a naked knife, at the same moment, was offered to his
throat.

"Pale slave of Eblis!" [in Mohammedan religion the name of the chief of
the fallen angels] said a man, in imperfect French, "are you robbing him
you have murdered?--But we have you--and you shall abuy it."

There were knives drawn on every side of him, as these words were
spoken, and the grim and distorted countenances which glared on him were
like those of wolves rushing on their prey.

Still the young Scot's courage and presence of mind bore him out. "What
mean ye, my masters?" he said; "if that be your friend's body, I have
just now cut him down, in pure charity, and you will do better to try
to recover his life, than to misuse an innocent stranger to whom he owes
his chance of escape."

The women had by this time taken possession of the dead body, and
continued the attempts to recover animation which Durward had been
making use of, though with the like bad success; so that, desisting from
their fruitless efforts, they seemed to abandon themselves to all the
Oriental expressions of grief; the women making a piteous wailing,
and tearing their long black hair, while the men seemed to rend their
garments, and to sprinkle dust upon their heads. They gradually became
so much engaged in their mourning rites, that they bestowed no longer
any attention on Durward, of whose innocence they were probably
satisfied from circumstances. It would certainly have been his wisest
plan to have left these wild people to their own courses, but he had
been bred in almost reckless contempt of danger, and felt all the
eagerness of youthful curiosity.

The singular assemblage, both male and female, wore turbans and caps,
more similar in general appearance to his own bonnet than to the hats
commonly worn in France. Several of the men had curled black beards, and
the complexion of all was nearly as dark as that of Africans. One or two
who seemed their chiefs, had some tawdry ornaments of silver about their
necks and in their ears, and wore showy scarfs of yellow, or scarlet,
or light green; but their legs and arms were bare, and the whole troop
seemed wretched and squalid in appearance. There were no weapons among
them that Durward saw, except the long knives with which they had lately
menaced him, and one short, crooked sabre, or Moorish sword, which was
worn by an active looking young man, who often laid his hand upon
the hill, while he surpassed the rest of the party in his extravagant
expressions of grief, and seemed to mingle with them threats of
vengeance.

The disordered and yelling group were so different in appearance from
any beings whom Quentin had yet seen, that he was on the point of
concluding them to be a party of Saracens, of those "heathen hounds,"
who were the opponents of gentle knights and Christian monarchs in
all the romances which he had heard or read, and was about to withdraw
himself from a neighbourhood so perilous, when a galloping of horse was
heard, and the supposed Saracens, who had raised by this time the body
of their comrade upon their shoulders, were at once charged by a party
of French soldiers.

This sudden apparition changed the measured wailing of the mourners into
irregular shrieks of terror. The body was thrown to the ground in
an instant, and those who were around it showed the utmost and most
dexterous activity in escaping under the bellies as it were of the
horses, from the point of the lances which were levelled at them,
with exclamations of "Down with the accursed heathen thieves--take and
kill--bind them like beasts--spear them like wolves!"

These cries were accompanied with corresponding acts of violence; but
such was the alertness of the fugitives, the ground being rendered
unfavourable to the horsemen by thickets and bushes, that only two were
struck down and made prisoners, one of whom was the young fellow with
the sword, who had previously offered some resistance. Quentin, whom
fortune seemed at this period to have chosen for the butt of her shafts,
was at the same time seized by the soldiers, and his arms, in spite of
his remonstrances, bound down with a cord; those who apprehended him
showing a readiness and dispatch in the operation, which proved them to
be no novices in matters of police.

Looking anxiously to the leader of the horsemen, from whom he hoped
to obtain liberty, Quentin knew not exactly whether to be pleased or
alarmed upon recognising in him the down looking and silent companion of
Maitre Pierre. True, whatever crime these strangers might be accused
of, this officer might know, from the history of the morning, that
he, Durward, had no connection with them whatever; but it was a more
difficult question, whether this sullen man would be either a favourable
judge or a willing witness in his behalf, and he felt doubtful whether
he would mend his condition by making any direct application to him.

But there was little leisure for hesitation. "Trois Eschelles and Petit
Andre," said the down looking officer to two of his band, "These same
trees stand here quite convenient. I will teach these misbelieving,
thieving sorcerers to interfere with the King's justice, when it has
visited any of their accursed race. Dismount, my children, and do your
office briskly."

Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre were in an instant on foot, and Quentin
observed that they had each, at the crupper and pommel of his saddle,
a coil or two of ropes, which they hastily undid, and showed that, in
fact, each coil formed a halter, with the fatal noose adjusted, ready
for execution. The blood ran cold in Quentin's veins, when he saw three
cords selected, and perceived that it was proposed to put one around his
own neck. He called on the officer loudly, reminded him of their meeting
that morning, claimed the right of a free born Scotsman in a friendly
and allied country, and denied any knowledge of the persons along with
whom he was seized, or of their misdeed.

The officer whom Durward thus addressed, scarce deigned to look at
him while he was speaking, and took no notice whatever of the claim he
preferred to prior acquaintance. He barely turned to one or two of the
peasants who were now come forward, either to volunteer their evidence
against the prisoners, or out of curiosity, and said gruffly, "Was
yonder young fellow with the vagabonds?"

"That he was, sir, and it please your noble Provostship," answered one
of the clowns; "he was the very first blasphemously to cut down the
rascal whom his Majesty's justice most deservedly hung up, as we told
your worship."

"I'll swear by God, and Saint Martin of Tours, to have seen him with
their gang," said another, "when they pillaged our metairie [a small
farm]."

"Nay, but," said a boy, "yonder heathen was black, and this youth is
fair; yonder one had short curled hair, and this hath long fair locks."

"Ay, child," said the peasant, "and perhaps you will say yonder one had
a green coat and this a gray jerkin. But his worship, the Provost, knows
that they can change their complexions as easily as their jerkins, so
that I am still minded he was the same."

"It is enough that you have seen him intermeddle with the course of the
King's justice, by attempting to recover an executed traitor," said the
officer.--"Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre, dispatch."

"Stay, signior officer!" exclaimed the youth in mortal agony; "hear me
speak--let me not die guiltlessly--my blood will be required of you by
my countrymen in this world, and by Heaven's justice in that which is to
follow."

"I will answer for my actions in both," said the Provost, coldly, and
made a sign with his left hand to the executioners; then, with a smile
of triumphant malice, touched with his forefinger his right arm, which
hung suspended in a scarf, disabled probably by the blow which Durward
had dealt him that morning.

"Miserable, vindictive wretch!" answered Quentin, persuaded by that
action that private revenge was the sole motive of this man's rigour,
and that no mercy whatever was to be expected from him.

"The poor youth raves," said the functionary: "speak a word of comfort
to him ere he make his transit, Trois Eschelles; thou art a comfortable
man in such cases when a confessor is not to be had. Give him one minute
of ghostly advice, and dispatch matters in the next. I must proceed on
the rounds.--Soldiers, follow me!"

The Provost rode on, followed by his guard, excepting two or three, who
were left to assist in the execution. The unhappy youth cast after him
an eye almost darkened by despair, and thought he heard in every tramp
of his horse's retreating hoofs the last slight chance of his safety
vanish. He looked around him in agony, and was surprised, even in that
moment, to see the stoical indifference of his fellow prisoners. They
had previously testified every sign of fear, and made every effort of
escape; but now, when secured and destined apparently to inevitable
death, they awaited its arrival with the utmost composure. The scene
of fate before them gave, perhaps, a more yellow tinge to their swarthy
cheeks; but it neither agitated their features, nor quenched the
stubborn haughtiness of their eye. They seemed like foxes, which, after
all their wiles and artful attempts at escape are exhausted, die with a
silent and sullen fortitude which wolves and bears, the fiercer objects
of the chase, do not exhibit. They were undaunted by the conduct of the
fatal executioners, who went about their work with more deliberation
than their master had recommended, and which probably arose from their
having acquired by habit a sort of pleasure in the discharge of their
horrid office. We pause an instant to describe them, because, under
a tyranny, whether despotic or popular, the character of the hangman
becomes a subject of grave importance.

These functionaries were essentially different in their appearance and
manners. Louis used to call them Democritus and Heraclitus, and their
master, the Provost, termed them Jean qui pleure and Jean qui rit.

[Democritus and Heraclitus: two Greek philosophers of the fifth century;
the former because of his propensity to laugh at the follies of men was
called the "laughing philosopher;" the latter, according to a current
notion, probably unfounded, habitually wept over the follies of mankind]

[Jean qui pleure, and Jean qui rit: John who weeps and John who laughs.
One of these two persons,.. might with more accuracy have been called
Petit Jean, than Petit Andre. This was actually the name of the son of
Henry de Cousin, master executioner of the High Court of Justice. S.]

Trois Eschelles was a tall, thin, ghastly man, with a peculiar gravity
of visage, and a large rosary round his neck, the use of which he was
accustomed piously to offer to those sufferers on whom he did his
duty. He had one or two Latin texts continually in his mouth on the
nothingness and vanity of human life; and, had it been regular to have
enjoyed such a plurality, he might have held the office of confessor
to the jail in commendam with that of executioner. Petit Andre, on the
contrary, was a joyous looking, round, active, little fellow, who
rolled about in execution of his duty as if it were the most diverting
occupation in the world. He seemed to have a sort of fond affection for
his victims, and always spoke of them in kindly and affectionate terms.
They were his poor honest fellows, his pretty dears, his gossips, his
good old fathers, as their age or sex might be; and as Trois Eschelles
endeavoured to inspire them with a philosophical or religious regard to
futurity, Petit Andre seldom failed to refresh them with a jest or two,
as if to induce them to pass from life as something that was ludicrous,
contemptible, and not worthy of serious consideration.

I cannot tell why or wherefore it was, but these two excellent persons,
notwithstanding the variety of their talents, and the rare occurrence of
such among persons of their profession, were both more utterly detested
than perhaps any creatures of their kind, whether before or since; and
the only doubt of those who knew aught of them was, whether the grave
and pathetic Trois Eschelles or the frisky, comic, alert Petit Andre
was the object of the greatest fear, or of the deepest execration. It
is certain they bore the palm in both particulars over every hangman
in France, unless it were perhaps their master Tristan l'Hermite, the
renowned Provost Marshal, or his master, Louis XI.

It must not be supposed that these reflections were of Quentin Durward's
making. Life, death, time, and eternity were swimming before his eyes--a
stunning and overwhelming prospect, from which human nature recoiled in
its weakness, though human pride would fain have borne up. He addressed
himself to the God of his fathers; and when he did so, the little rude
and unroofed chapel, which now held almost all his race but himself,
rushed on his recollection.

"Our feudal enemies gave my kindred graves in our own land," he thought,
"but I must feed the ravens and kites of a foreign land, like an
excommunicated felon!"

The tears gushed involuntarily from his eyes. Trois Eschelles, touching
one shoulder, gravely congratulated him on his heavenly disposition
for death, and pathetically exclaiming, Beati qui in Domino moriuntur
[blessed are they who die in the Lord], remarked, the soul was happy
that left the body while the tear was in the eye. Petit Andre, slapping
the other shoulder, called out, "Courage, my fair son! since you must
begin the dance, let the ball open gaily, for all the rebecs are in
tune," twitching the halter at the same time, to give point to his joke.
As the youth turned his dismayed looks, first on one and then on the
other, they made their meaning plainer by gently urging him forward to
the fatal tree, and bidding him be of good courage, for it would be over
in a moment.

In this fatal predicament, the youth cast a distracted look around him.
"Is there any good Christian who hears me," he said, "that will tell
Ludovic Lesly of the Scottish Guard, called in this country Le Balafre,
that his nephew is here basely murdered?" The words were spoken in good
time, for an Archer of the Scottish Guard, attracted by the preparations
for the execution, was standing by, with one or two other chance
passengers, to witness what was passing.

"Take heed what you do," he said to the executioners, "if this young man
be of Scottish birth, I will not permit him to have foul play."

"Heaven forbid, Sir Cavalier," said Trois Eschelles; "but we must obey
our orders," drawing Durward forward by one arm. "The shortest play is
ever the fairest," said Petit Andre, pulling him onward by the other.

But Quentin had heard words of comfort, and, exerting his strength, he
suddenly shook off both the finishers of the law, and, with his arms
still bound, ran to the Scottish Archer. "Stand by me, countryman," he
said, in his own language, "for the love of Scotland and Saint Andrew!
I am innocent--I am your own native landsman. Stand by me, as you shall
answer at the last day."

"By Saint Andrew! they shall make at you through me!" said the Archer,
and unsheathed his sword.

"Cut my bonds, countryman," said Quentin, "and I will do something for
myself."

This was done with a touch of the Archer's weapon, and the liberated
captive, springing suddenly on one of the Provost's guard, wrested from
him a halbert with which he was armed. "And now" he said, "come on, if
you dare."

The two officers whispered together.

"Ride thou after the Provost Marshal," said Trois Eschelles, "and I will
detain them here, if I can. Soldiers of the Provost's guard, stand to
your arms."

Petit Andre mounted his horse, and left the field, and the other
Marshals men in attendance drew together so hastily at the command of
Trois Eschelles, that they suffered the other two prisoners to make
their escape during the confusion. Perhaps they were not very anxious
to detain them; for they had of late been sated with the blood of
such wretches, and, like other ferocious animals, were, through long
slaughter, become tired of carnage. But the pretext was, that they
thought themselves immediately called upon to attend to the safety of
Trois Eschelles; for there was a jealousy, which occasionally led to
open quarrels, betwixt the Scottish Archers and the Marshal guards, who
executed the orders of their Provost.

"We are strong enough to beat the proud Scots twice over, if it be your
pleasure," said one of these soldiers to Trois Eschelles.

But that cautious official made a sign to him to remain quiet, and
addressed the Scottish Archer with great civility. "Surely, sir, this
is a great insult to the Provost Marshal, that you should presume to
interfere with the course of the King's justice, duly and lawfully
committed to his charge; and it is no act of justice to me, who am in
lawful possession of my criminal. Neither is it a well meant kindness
to the youth himself, seeing that fifty opportunities of hanging him may
occur, without his being found in so happy a state of preparation as he
was before your ill advised interference."

"If my young countryman," said the Scot, smiling, "be of opinion I have
done him an injury, I will return him to your charge without a word more
dispute."

"No, no!--for the love of Heaven, no!" exclaimed Quentin. "I would
rather you swept my head off with your long sword--it would better
become my birth, than to die by the hands of such a foul churl."

"Hear how he revileth," said the finisher of the law. "Alas! how soon
our best resolutions pass away!--he was in a blessed frame for departure
but now, and in two minutes he has become a contemner of authorities."

"Tell me at once," said the Archer, "what has this young man done."

"Interfered," answered Trois Eschelles, with some earnestness, "to take
down the dead body of a criminal, when the fleur de lys was marked on
the tree where he was hung with my own proper hand."

"How is this, young man?" said the Archer; "how came you to have
committed such an offence?"

"As I desire your protection," answered Durward, "I will tell you the
truth as if I were at confession. I saw a man struggling on the tree,
and I went to cut him down out of mere humanity. I thought neither of
fleur de lys nor of clove gilliflower, and had no more idea of offending
the King of France than our Father the Pope."

"What a murrain had you to do with the dead body, then?" said the
Archer. "You 'll see them hanging, in the rear of this gentleman, like
grapes on every tree, and you will have enough to do in this country
if you go a-gleaning after the hangman. However, I will not quit a
countryman's cause if I can help it.--Hark ye, Master Marshals man, you
see this is entirely a mistake. You should have some compassion on so
young a traveller. In our country at home he has not been accustomed to
see such active proceedings as yours and your master's."

"Not for want of need of them, Signior Archer," said Petit Andre, who
returned at this moment. "Stand fast, Trois Eschelles, for here comes
the Provost Marshal; we shall presently see how he will relish having
his work taken out of his hand before it is finished."

"And in good time," said the Archer, "here come some of my comrades."

Accordingly, as the Provost Tristan rode up with his patrol on one side
of the little bill which was the scene of the altercation, four or five
Scottish Archers came as hastily up on the other, and at their head the
Balafre himself.

Upon this urgency, Lesly showed none of that indifference towards his
nephew of which Quentin had in his heart accused him; for he no sooner
saw his comrade and Durward standing upon their defence, than he
exclaimed, "Cunningham, I thank thee.--Gentlemen--comrades,
lend me your aid.--It is a young Scottish gentleman--my
nephew--Lindesay--Guthrie--Tyrie, draw, and strike in!"

There was now every prospect of a desperate scuffle between the parties,
who were not so disproportioned in numbers but that the better arms of
the Scottish cavaliers gave them an equal chance of victory. But the
Provost Marshal, either doubting the issue of the conflict, or aware
that it would be disagreeable to the King, made a sign to his followers
to forbear from violence, while he demanded of Balafre, who now put
himself forward as the head of the other party, what he, a cavalier of
the King's Bodyguard, purposed by opposing the execution of a criminal.

"I deny that I do so," answered the Balafre. "Saint Martin! [patron
saint of Tours, Lucca, and of penitent drunkards. He was greatly
honoured in the Middle Ages.] there is, I think, some difference between
the execution of a criminal and a slaughter of my own nephew!"

"Your nephew may be a criminal as well as another," said the Provost
Marshal; "and every stranger in France is amenable to the laws of
France."

"Yes, but we have privileges, we Scottish Archers," said Balafre, "have
we not, comrades?"

"Yes, yes," they all exclaimed together. "Privileges--privileges! Long
live King Louis--long live the bold Balafre--long live the Scottish
Guard--and death to all who would infringe our privileges!"

"Take reason with you, gentlemen cavaliers," said the Provost Marshal;
"consider my commission."

"We will have no reason at your hand," said Cunningham; "our own
officers shall do us reason. We will be judged by the King's grace,
or by our own Captain, now that the Lord High Constable is not in
presence."

"And we will be hanged by none," said Lindesay, "but Sandie Wilson, the
auld Marshals man of our ain body."

"It would be a positive cheating of Sandie, who is as honest a man as
ever tied noose upon hemp, did we give way to any other proceeding,"
said the Balafre. "Were I to be hanged myself, no other should tie
tippet about my craig."

"But hear ye," said the Provost Marshal, "this young fellow belongs not
to you, and cannot share what you call your privileges."

"What we call our privileges, all shall admit to be such," said
Cunningham.

"We will not hear them questioned!" was the universal cry of the
Archers.

"Ye are mad, my masters," said Tristan l'Hermite. "No one disputes your
privileges; but this youth is not one of you."

"He is my nephew," said the Balafre, with a triumphant air.

"But no Archer of the Guard, I think," retorted Tristan l'Hermite.

The Archers looked on each other in some uncertainty.

"Stand to it yet, comrade," whispered Cunningham to Balafre. "Say he is
engaged with us."

"Saint Martin! you say well, fair countryman," answered Lesly; and
raising his voice, swore that he had that day enrolled his kinsman as
one of his own retinue. This declaration was a decisive argument.

"It is well, gentlemen," said the Provost Tristan, who was aware of
the King's nervous apprehension of disaffection creeping in among his
Guards. "You know, as you say, your privileges, and it is not my duty to
have brawls with the King's Guards, if it is to be avoided. But I will
report this matter for the King's own decision; and I would have you
to be aware, that, in doing so, I act more mildly than perhaps my duty
warrants."

So saying, he put his troop into motion, while the Archers, remaining on
the spot, held a hasty consultation what was next to be done. "We must
report the matter to Lord Crawford, our Captain, in the first place, and
have the young fellow's name put on the roll."

"But, gentlemen, and my worthy friends and preservers," said Quentin,
with some hesitation, "I have not yet determined whether to take service
with you or no."

"Then settle in your own mind," said his uncle, "whether you choose to
do so, or be hanged--for I promise you, that, nephew of mine as you are,
I see no other chance of your 'scaping the gallows."

This was an unanswerable argument, and reduced Quentin at once to
acquiesce in what he might have otherwise considered as no very
agreeable proposal; but the recent escape from the halter, which had
been actually around his neck, would probably have reconciled him to a
worse alternative than was proposed.

"He must go home with us to our caserne," said Cunningham; "there is
no safety for him out of our bounds, whilst these man hunters are
prowling."

"May I not then abide for this night at the hostelry where I
breakfasted, fair uncle?" said the youth--thinking, perhaps, like many a
new recruit, that even a single night of freedom was something gained.

"Yes, fair nephew," answered his uncle, ironically, "that we may have
the pleasure of fishing you out of some canal or moat, or perhaps out
of a loop of the Loire, knit up in a sack for the greater convenience
of swimming--for that is like to be the end on't. The Provost Marshal
smiled on us when we parted," continued he, addressing Cunningham, "and
that is a sign his thoughts were dangerous."

"I care not for his danger," said Cunningham; "such game as we are
beyond his bird bolts. But I would have thee tell the whole to the
Devil's Oliver [Oliver Dain: Oliver's name, or nickname, was Le Diable,
which was bestowed on him by public hatred, in exchange for Le Daim, or
Le Dain. He was originally the King's barber, but afterwards a favourite
counsellor. S.], who is always a good friend to the Scottish Guard, and
will see Father Louis before the Provost can, for he is to shave him
tomorrow."

"But hark you," said Balafre, "it is ill going to Oliver empty handed,
and I am as bare as the birch in December."

"So are we all," said Cunningham. "Oliver must not scruple to take our
Scottish words for once. We will make up something handsome among us
against the next payday; and if he expects to share, let me tell you,
the payday will come about all the sooner."

"And now for the Chateau," said Balafre; "and my nephew shall tell us by
the way how he brought the Provost Marshal on his shoulders, that we may
know how to frame our report both to Crawford and Oliver."



CHAPTER VII: THE ENROLMENT

     Justice of Peace.--
     Here, hand me down the statute--read the articles--
     Swear, kiss the book--subscribe, and be a hero;
     Drawing a portion from the public stock
     For deeds of valour to be done hereafter--
     Sixpence per day, subsistence and arrears.

     THE RECRUITING OFFICER


An attendant upon the Archers having been dismounted, Quentin Durward
was accommodated with his horse, and, in company of his martial
countrymen, rode at a round pace towards the Castle of Plessis, about
to become, although on his own part involuntarily, an inhabitant of that
gloomy fortress, the outside of which had, that morning, struck him with
so much surprise.

In the meanwhile, in answer to his uncle's repeated interrogations, he
gave him an exact account of the accident which had that morning
brought him into so much danger. Although he himself saw nothing in his
narrative save what was affecting, he found it was received with much
laughter by his escort.

"And yet it is no good jest either," said his uncle, "for what, in the
devil's name, could lead the senseless boy to meddle with the body of a
cursed misbelieving Jewish Moorish pagan?"

"Had he quarrelled with the Marshals men about a pretty wench,
as Michael of Moffat did, there had been more sense in it," said
Cunningham.

"But I think it touches our honour that Tristan and his people pretend
to confound our Scottish bonnets with these pilfering vagabonds--torques
and turbands, as they call them," said Lindesay. "If they have not eyes
to see the difference they must be taught by rule of hand. But it 's my
belief, Tristan but pretends to mistake, that he may snap up the kindly
Scots that come over to see their kinsfolks."

"May I ask, kinsman," said Quentin, "what sort of people these are of
whom you speak?"

"In troth you may ask," said his uncle, "but I know not, fair nephew,
who is able to answer you. Not I, I am sure, although I know, it may be,
as much as other people; but they appeared in this land within a year or
two, just as a flight of locusts might do."

"Ay," said Lindesay, "and Jacques Bonhomme (that is our name for the
peasant, young man--you will learn our way of talk in time)--honest
Jacques, I say, cares little what wind either brings them or the
locusts, so he but knows any gale that would carry them away again."

"Do they do so much evil?" asked the young man.

"Evil? why, boy, they are heathens, or Jews, or Mahommedans at the
least, and neither worship Our Lady, nor the Saints" (crossing himself)
"and steal what they can lay hands on, and sing, and tell fortunes,"
added Cunningham.

"And they say there are some goodly wenches amongst these," said
Guthrie; "but Cunningham knows that best."

"How, brother!" said Cunningham. "I trust ye mean me no reproach?"

"I am sure I said ye none," answered Guthrie.

"I will be judged by the company," said Cunningham. "Ye said as much as
that I, a Scottish gentleman, and living within pale of holy church, had
a fair friend among these off scourings of Heathenesse."

"Nay, nay," said Balafre, "he did but jest. We will have no quarrels
among comrades."

"We must have no such jesting then," said Cunningham, murmuring, as if
he had been speaking to his own beard.

"Be there such vagabonds in other lands than France?" said Lindesay.

"Ay, in good sooth, are there--tribes of them have appeared in Germany,
and in Spain, and in England," answered Balafre. "By the blessing of
good Saint Andrew, Scotland is free of them yet."

"Scotland," said Cunningham, "is too cold, a country for locusts, and
too poor a country for thieves."

"Or perhaps John Highlander will suffer no thieves to thrive there but
his own," said Guthrie.

"I let you all know," said Balafre, "that I come from the Braes of
Angus, and have gentle Highland kin in Glen Isla and I will not have the
Highlanders slandered."

"You will not deny that they are cattle lifters?" said Guthrie.

"To drive a spreagh [to plunder] or so, is no thievery," said Balafre,
"and that I will maintain when and how you dare."

"For shame, comrade!" said Cunningham, "who quarrels now? The young
man should not see such mad misconstruction--Come, here we are at the
Chateau. I will bestow a runlet of wine to have a rouse in friendship,
and drink to Scotland, Highland and Lowland both, if you will meet me at
dinner at my quarters."

"Agreed--agreed," said Balafre; "and I will bestow another to wash away
unkindness, and to drink a health to my nephew on his first entrance to
our corps."

At their approach, the wicket was opened, and the drawbridge fell. One
by one they entered; but when Quentin appeared, the sentinels crossed
their pikes, and commanded him to stand, while bows were bent, and
harquebusses aimed at him from the walls, a rigour of vigilance used,
notwithstanding that the young stranger came in company of a party of
the garrison, nay, of the very body which furnished the sentinels who
were then upon duty.

Le Balafre, who had remained by his nephew's side on purpose, gave the
necessary explanations, and, after some considerable hesitation
and delay, the youth was conveyed under a strong guard to the Lord
Crawford's apartment.

This Scottish nobleman was one of the last relics of the gallant band of
Scottish lords and knights who had so long and so truly served Charles
VI in those bloody wars which decided the independence of the French
crown, and the expulsion of the English. He had fought, when a boy,
abreast with Douglas and with Buchan, had ridden beneath the banner of
the Maid of Arc, and was perhaps one of the last of those associates of
Scottish chivalry who had so willingly drawn their swords for the fleur
de lys, against their "auld enemies of England." Changes which had taken
place in the Scottish kingdom, and perhaps his having become habituated
to French climate and manners, had induced the old Baron to resign all
thoughts of returning to his native country, the rather that the high
office which he held in the household of Louis and his own frank and
loyal character had gained a considerable ascendancy over the King, who,
though in general no ready believer in human virtue or honour, trusted
and confided in those of the Lord Crawford, and allowed him the greater
influence, because he was never known to interfere excepting in matters
which concerned his charge.

[Douglas: fourth earl of Douglas. He was created Duke of Touraine in
1423 by Charles VII of France.]

[Buchan: Regent of Scotland and grandson of Robert II. He entered the
service of Charles VII in 1420, and was appointed Constable of France.]

[Maid of Arc (1412-1431): Joan of Arc. She believed that God had called
her to liberate France from the curse of the English who were besieging
Orleans. In person she led the French troops from victory to victory
until she saw the Dauphin crowned as Charles VII at Rheims. She was
then betrayed by her people into the hands of the English, who, in 1431,
sentenced her to the flames.]

Balafre and Cunningham followed Durward and the guard to the apartment
of their officer, by whose dignified appearance, as well as with the
respect paid to him by these proud soldiers, who seemed to respect no
one else, the young man was much and strongly impressed.

Lord Crawford was tall, and through advanced age had become gaunt and
thin; yet retaining in his sinews the strength, at least, if not the
elasticity, of youth, he was able to endure the weight of his armour
during a march as well as the youngest man who rode in his band. He was
hard favoured, with a scarred and weather-beaten countenance, and an eye
that had looked upon death as his playfellow in thirty pitched battles,
but which nevertheless expressed a calm contempt of danger, rather than
the ferocious courage of a mercenary soldier. His tall, erect figure was
at present wrapped in a loose chamber gown, secured around him by his
buff belt, in which was suspended his richly hilted poniard. He had
round his neck the collar and badge of the order of Saint Michael [a
patron saint of France. In 1469, a military order was instituted in his
honour by Louis XI]. He sat upon a couch covered with deer's hide, and
with spectacles on his nose (then a recent invention) was labouring
to read a huge manuscript called the Rosier de la Guerre, a code of
military and civil policy which Louis had compiled for the benefit of
his son the Dauphin, and upon which he was desirous to have the opinion
of the experienced Scottish warrior.

Lord Crawford laid his book somewhat peevishly aside upon the entrance
of these unexpected visitors, and demanded, in his broad national
dialect, what, in the foul fiend's name, they lacked now.

Le Balafre, with more respect than perhaps he would have shown to Louis
himself, stated at full length the circumstances in which his nephew was
placed, and humbly requested his Lordship's protection. Lord Crawford
listened very attentively. He could not but smile at the simplicity with
which the youth had interfered in behalf of the hanged criminal, but he
shook his head at the account which he received of the ruffle betwixt
the Scottish Archers and the Provost Marshal's guard.

[Such disputes between the Scots Guards and the other constituted
authorities of the ordinary military corps often occurred. In 1474, two
Scotsmen had been concerned in robbing... a fishmonger of a large sum
of money. They were accordingly apprehended by Philip du Four, Provost,
with some of his followers. But ere they could lodge one of them,... in
the prison of the Chastellet, they were attacked by two Archers of the
King's Scottish Guard, who rescued the prisoner.... S.]

"How often," he said, "will you bring me such ill winded pirns to ravel
out? How often must I tell you, and especially both you, Ludovic Lesly,
and you, Archie Cunningham, that the foreign soldier should bear himself
modestly and decorously towards the people of the country if you would
not have the whole dogs of the town at your heels? However, if you must
have a bargain [a quarrel, videlicet. S.], I would rather it were with
that loon of a Provost than any one else; and I blame you less for this
onslaught than for other frays that you have made, Ludovic, for it was
but natural and kind-like to help your young kinsman. This simple bairn
must come to no skaith [same as scathe] neither; so give me the roll of
the company yonder down from the shelf, and we will even add his name to
the troop, that he may enjoy the privileges."

"May it please your Lordship" said Durward.

"Is the lad crazed?" exclaimed his uncle. "Would you speak to his
Lordship without a question asked?"

"Patience, Ludovic," said Lord Crawford, "and let us hear what the bairn
has to say."

"Only this, if it may please your Lordship," replied Quentin, "that I
told my uncle formerly I had some doubts about entering this service.
I have now to say that they are entirely removed, since I have seen the
noble and experienced commander under whom I am to serve; for there is
authority in your look."

"Weel said, my bairn," said the old Lord, not insensible to the
compliment; "we have had some experience, had God sent us grace to
improve by it, both in service and in command. There you stand, Quentin,
in our honourable corps of Scottish Bodyguards, as esquire to your
uncle, and serving under his lance. I trust you will do well, for you
should be a right man at arms, if all be good that is upcome [that is,
if your courage corresponds with your personal appearance. S.], and you
are come of a gentle kindred.--Ludovic, you will see that your kinsman
follow his exercise diligently, for we will have spears breaking one of
these days."

"By my hilts, and I am glad of it, my Lord--this peace makes cowards
of us all. I myself feel a sort of decay of spirit, closed up in this
cursed dungeon of a Castle."

"Well, a bird whistled in my ear," continued Lord Crawford, "that the
old banner will be soon dancing in the field again."

"I will drink a cup the deeper this evening to that very tune," said
Balafre.

"Thou wilt drink to any tune," said Lord Crawford; "and I fear me,
Ludovic, you will drink a bitter browst [as much liquor as is brewed at
one time] of your own brewing one day."

Lesly, a little abashed, replied that it had not been his wont for many
a day; but that his Lordship knew the use of the company, to have a
carouse to the health of a new comrade.

"True," said the old leader, "I had forgot the occasion. I will send a
few stoups of wine to assist your carouse; but let it be over by sunset.
And, hark ye--let the soldiers for duty he carefully pricked off; and
see that none of them be more or less partakers of your debauch."

"Your Lordship shall be lawfully obeyed," said Ludovic, "and your health
duly remembered."

"Perhaps," said Lord Crawford, "I may look in myself upon your
mirth--just to see that all is carried decently."

"Your Lordship shall be most dearly welcome;" said Ludovic; and the
whole party retreated in high spirits to prepare for their military
banquet, to which Lesly invited about a score of his comrades, who were
pretty much in the habit of making their mess together.

A soldier's festival is generally a very extempore affair, providing
there is enough of meat and drink to be had; but on the present
occasion, Ludovic bustled about to procure some better wine than
ordinary; observing that the old Lord was the surest gear in their
aught, and that, while he preached sobriety to them, he himself, after
drinking at the royal table as much wine as he could honestly come by,
never omitted any creditable opportunity to fill up the evening over the
wine pot.

"So you must prepare, comrades," he said, "to hear the old histories of
the battles of Vernoil and Beauge [in both these battles the
Scottish auxiliaries of France, under Stewart, Earl of Buchan, were
distinguished.... S.]."

The Gothic apartment in which they generally met was, therefore, hastily
put into the best order; their grooms were dispatched to collect green
rushes to spread upon the floor; and banners, under which the Scottish
Guard had marched to battle, or which they had taken from the enemies'
ranks, were displayed, by way of tapestry, over the table and around the
walls of the chamber.

The next point was, to invest the young recruit as hastily as possible
with the dress and appropriate arms of the Guard, that he might appear
in every respect the sharer of its important privileges, in virtue of
which, and by the support of his countrymen, he might freely brave the
power and the displeasure of the Provost Marshal--although the one was
known to be as formidable as the other was unrelenting.

The banquet was joyous in the highest degree; and the guests gave vent
to the whole current of their national partiality on receiving into
their ranks a recruit from their beloved fatherland. Old Scottish songs
were sung, old tales of Scottish heroes told--the achievements of their
fathers, and the scenes in which they were wrought, were recalled to
mind; and, for a time, the rich plains of Touraine seemed converted into
the mountainous and sterile regions of Caledonia.

When their enthusiasm was at high flood, and each was endeavouring to
say something to enhance the dear remembrance of Scotland, it received
a new impulse from the arrival of Lord Crawford, who, as Le Balafre had
well prophesied, sat as it were on thorns at the royal board, until
an opportunity occurred of making his escape to the revelry of his own
countrymen. A chair of state had been reserved for him at the upper
end of the table; for, according to the manners of the age and the
constitution of that body, although their leader and commander under the
King and High Constable, the members of the corps (as we should now say,
the privates) being all ranked as noble by birth, their captain sat with
them at the same table without impropriety, and might mingle when
he chose in their festivity, without derogation from his dignity as
commander.

At present, however, Lord Crawford declined occupying the seat prepared
for him, and bidding them "hold themselves merry," stood looking on the
revel with a countenance which seemed greatly to enjoy it.

"Let him alone," whispered Cunningham to Lindesay, as the latter
offered the wine to their noble captain, "let him alone--hurry no man's
cattle--let him take it of his own accord."

In fact, the old Lord, who at first smiled, shook his head, and placed
the untasted winecup before him, began presently, as if it were in
absence of mind, to sip a little of the contents, and in doing so,
fortunately recollected that it would be ill luck did he not drink a
draught to the health of the gallant lad who had joined them this day.
The pledge was filled, and answered, as may well be supposed, with many
a joyous shout, when the old leader proceeded to acquaint them that he
had possessed Master Oliver with an account of what had passed that day.

"And as," he said, "the scraper of chins hath no great love for the
stretcher of throats, he has joined me in obtaining from the King an
order, commanding the Provost to suspend all proceedings, under whatever
pretence, against Quentin Durward; and to respect, on all occasions, the
privileges of the Scottish guard."

Another shout broke forth, the cups were again filled till the wine
sparkled on the brim, and there was an acclaim to the health of the
noble Lord Crawford, the brave conservator of the privileges and rights
of his countrymen. The good old Lord could not but in courtesy do reason
to this pledge also, and gliding into the ready chair; as it were,
without reflecting what he was doing, he caused Quentin to come up
beside him, and assailed him with many more questions concerning the
state of Scotland, and the great families there, than he was well able
to answer, while ever and anon, in the course of his queries, the good
Lord kissed the wine cup by way of parenthesis, remarking that sociality
became Scottish gentlemen, but that young men, like Quentin, ought to
practise it cautiously, lest it might degenerate into excess; upon
which occasion he uttered many excellent things, until his own tongue,
although employed in the praises of temperance, began to articulate
something thicker than usual. It was now that, while the military ardour
of the company augmented with each flagon which they emptied, Cunningham
called on them to drink the speedy hoisting of the Oriflamme, the royal
banner of France.

"And a breeze of Burgundy to fan it!" echoed Lindesay.

"With all the soul that is left in this worn body do I accept the
pledge, bairns," echoed Lord Crawford; "and as old as I am, I trust
I may see it flutter yet. Hark ye, my mates," (for wine had made him
something communicative), "ye are all true servants to the French
crown, and wherefore should ye not know there is an envoy come from Duke
Charles of Burgundy, with a message of an angry favour?"

"I saw the Count of Crevecoeur's equipage, horses, and retinue," said
another of the guests, "down at the inn yonder at the Mulberry Grove.
They say the King will not admit him into the Castle."

"Now, Heaven send him an ungracious answer!" said Guthrie; "but what is
it he complains of?"

"A world of grievances upon the frontier," said Lord Crawford; "and
latterly, that the King hath received under his protection a lady of his
land, a young Countess, who hath fled from Dijon, because, being a ward
of the Duke, he would have her marry his favourite, Campobasso."

"And hath she actually come hither alone, my lord?" said Lindesay.

"Nay, not altogether alone, but with the old Countess, her kinswoman,
who hath yielded to her cousin's wishes in this matter."

"And will the King," said Cunningham, "he being the Duke's feudal
sovereign, interfere between the Duke and his ward, over whom Charles
hath the same right, which, were he himself dead, the King would have
over the heiress of Burgundy?"

"The King will be ruled as he is wont, by rules of policy, and you
know," continued Crawford, "that he hath not publicly received these
ladies, nor placed them under the protection of his daughters, the Lady
of Beaujeu, or the Princess Joan, so, doubtless, he will be guided by
circumstances. He is our Master--but it is no treason to say, he
will chase with the hounds, and run with the hare, with any prince in
Christendom."

"But the Duke of Burgundy understands no such doubling;" said
Cunningham.

"No," answered the old Lord; "and, therefore, it is likely to make work
between them."

"Well--Saint Andrew further the fray!" said Le Balafre. "I had it
foretold me ten, ay, twenty years since, that I was to make the fortune
of my house by marriage. Who knows what may happen, if once we come to
fight for honour and ladies' love, as they do in the old romaunts."

"Thou name ladies' love, with such a trench in thy visage!" said
Guthrie.

"As well not love at all, as love a Bohemian woman of Heathenesse,"
retorted Le Balafre.

"Hold there, comrades," said Lord Crawford; "no tilting with sharp
weapons, no jesting with keen scoffs--friends all. And for the lady, she
is too wealthy to fall to a poor Scottish lord, or I would put in my own
claim, fourscore years and all, or not very far from it. But here is her
health, nevertheless, for they say she is a lamp of beauty."

"I think I saw her," said another soldier, "when I was upon guard this
morning at the inner barrier; but she was more like a dark lantern
than a lamp, for she and another were brought into the Chateau in close
litters."

"Shame! shame! Arnot!" said Lord Crawford; "a soldier on duty should
say naught of what he sees. Besides," he added after a pause, his own
curiosity prevailing over the show of discipline which he had thought
it necessary to exert, "why should these litters contain this very same
Countess Isabelle de Croye?"

"Nay, my Lord," replied Arnot, "I know nothing of it save this, that my
coutelier was airing my horses in the road to the village, and fell in
with Doguin the muleteer, who brought back the litters to the inn, for
they belong to the fellow of the Mulberry Grove yonder--he of the Fleur
de Lys, I mean--and so Doguin asked Saunders Steed to take a cup of
wine, as they were acquainted, which he was no doubt willing enough to
do."

"No doubt--no doubt," said the old Lord; "it is a thing I wish were
corrected among you, gentlemen; but all your grooms, and couteliers, and
jackmen as we should call them in Scotland, are but too ready to take
a cup of wine with any one.--It is a thing perilous in war, and must be
amended. But, Andrew Arnot, this is a long tale of yours, and we will
cut it with a drink; as the Highlander says, Skeoch doch nan skial ['Cut
a tale with a drink;' an expression used when a man preaches over
his liquor, as bons vivants say in England. S.]; and that 's good
Gaelic.--Here is to the Countess Isabelle of Croye, and a better husband
to her than Campobasso, who is a base Italian cullion!--And now, Andrew
Arnot, what said the muleteer to this yeoman of thine?"

"Why, he told him in secrecy, if it please your Lordship," continued
Arnot, "that these two ladies whom he had presently before convoyed
up to the Castle in the close litters, were great ladies, who had been
living in secret at his house for some days, and that the King had
visited them more than once very privately, and had done them great
honour; and that they had fled up to the Castle, as he believed, for
fear of the Count de Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy's ambassador,
whose approach was just announced by an advanced courier."

"Ay, Andrew, come you there to me?" said Guthrie. "Then I will be sworn
it was the Countess whose voice I heard singing to the lute, as I came
even now through the inner court--the sound came from the bay windows
of the Dauphin's Tower; and such melody was there as no one ever heard
before in the Castle of Plessis of the Park. By my faith, I thought it
was the music of the Fairy Melusina's making. There I stood--though I
knew your board was covered, and that you were all impatient--there I
stood like--"

[The Fairy Melusina: a water fay who married a mortal on condition that
she should be allowed to spend her Saturdays in deep seclusion. This
promise, after many years, was broken, and Melusina, half serpent, half
woman, was discovered swimming in a bath. For this breach of faith on
the part of her husband, Melusina was compelled to leave her home. She
regularly returned, however, before the death of any of the lords of her
family, and by her wailings foretold that event. Her history is closely
interwoven with the legends of the Banshee and Mermaid.]

"--Like an ass, Johnny Guthrie," said his commander; "thy long nose
smelling the dinner, thy long ears hearing the music, and thy short
discretion not enabling thee to decide which of them thou didst
prefer.--Hark! is that not the Cathedral bell tolling to vespers?--Sure
it cannot be that time yet? The mad old sexton has toll'd evensong an
hour too soon."

"In faith, the bell rings but too justly the hour," said Cunningham;
"yonder the sun is sinking on the west side of the fair plain."

"Ay," said the Lord Crawford, "is it even so?--Well, lads, we must live
within compass.--Fair and soft goes far--slow fire makes sweet malt--to
be merry and wise is a sound proverb.--One other rouse to the weal of
old Scotland, and then each man to his duty."

The parting cup was emptied, and the guests dismissed--the stately
old Baron taking the Balafre's arm, under pretence of giving him some
instructions concerning his nephew, but, perhaps, in reality, lest his
own lofty pace should seem in the public eye less steady than became his
rank and high command. A serious countenance did he bear as he passed
through the two courts which separated his lodging from the festal
chamber, and solemn as the gravity of a hogshead was the farewell
caution with which he prayed Ludovic to attend his nephew's motions,
especially in the matters of wenches and wine cups.

Meanwhile, not a word that was spoken concerning the beautiful Countess
Isabelle had escaped the young Durward, who, conducted into a small
cabin, which he was to share with his uncle's page, made his new and
lowly abode the scene of much high musing. The reader will easily
imagine that the young soldier should build a fine romance on such a
foundation as the supposed, or rather the assumed, identification of
the Maiden of the Turret, to whose lay he had listened with so much
interest, and the fair cup bearer of Maitre Pierre, with a fugitive
Countess of rank and wealth, flying from the pursuit of a hated lover,
the favourite of an oppressive guardian, who abused his feudal power.
There was an interlude in Quentin's vision concerning Maitre Pierre, who
seemed to exercise such authority even over the formidable officer from
whose hands he had that day, with much difficulty, made his escape. At
length the youth's reveries, which had been respected by little Will
Harper, the companion of his cell, were broken in upon by the return of
his uncle, who commanded Quentin to bed, that he might arise betimes in
the morning, and attend him to his Majesty's antechamber, to which he
was called by his hour of duty, along with five of his comrades.



CHAPTER VIII: THE ENVOY

     Be thou as lightning in the eyes of France;
     For ere thou canst report I will be there.
     The thunder of my cannon shall be heard--
     So, hence! be thou the trumpet of our wrath.

     KING JOHN


Had sloth been a temptation by which Durward was easily beset, the noise
with which the caserne of the guards resounded after the first toll
of primes, had certainly banished the siren from his couch; but the
discipline of his father's tower, and of the convent of Aberbrothick,
had taught him to start with the dawn; and he did on his clothes gaily,
amid the sounding of bugles and the clash of armour, which announced the
change of the vigilant guards--some of whom were returning to barracks
after their nightly duty, whilst some were marching out to that of the
morning--and others, again, amongst whom was his uncle, were arming for
immediate attendance upon the person of Louis. Quentin Durward soon
put on, with the feelings of so young a man on such an occasion, the
splendid dress and arms appertaining to his new situation; and his
uncle, who looked with great accuracy and interest to see that he was
completely fitted out in every respect, did not conceal his satisfaction
at the improvement which had been thus made in his nephew's appearance.

"If thou dost prove as faithful and bold as thou art well favoured, I
shall have in thee one of the handsomest and best esquires in the Guard,
which cannot but be an honour to thy mother's family. Follow me to the
presence chamber; and see thou keep close at my shoulder."

So saying, he took up a partisan, large, weighty, and beautifully inlaid
and ornamented, and directing his nephew to assume a lighter weapon of
a similar description, they proceeded to the inner court of the palace,
where their comrades, who were to form the guard of the interior
apartments, were already drawn up and under arms--the squires each
standing behind their masters, to whom they thus formed a second rank.
Here were also in attendance many yeomen prickers, with gallant horses
and noble dogs, on which Quentin looked with such inquisitive delight
that his uncle was obliged more than once to remind him that the animals
were not there for his private amusement, but for the King's, who had
a strong passion for the chase, one of the few inclinations which he
indulged even when coming in competition with his course of policy;
being so strict a protector of the game in the royal forests that it was
currently said you might kill a man with greater impunity than a stag.

On a signal given, the Guards were put into motion by the command of
Le Balafre, who acted as officer upon the occasion; and, after some
minutiae of word and signal, which all served to show the extreme and
punctilious jealousy with which their duty was performed, they marched
into the hall of audience where the King was immediately expected.

New as Quentin was to scenes of splendour, the effect of that which was
now before him rather disappointed the expectations which he had formed
of the brilliancy of a court. There were household officers, indeed,
richly attired; there were guards gallantly armed, and there were
domestics of various degrees. But he saw none of the ancient counsellors
of the kingdom, none of the high officers of the crown, heard none of
the names which in those days sounded an alarum to chivalry; saw none
either of those generals or leaders, who, possessed of the full prime of
manhood, were the strength of France, or of the more youthful and fiery
nobles, those early aspirants after honour, who were her pride. The
jealous habits, the reserved manners, the deep and artful policy of the
King, had estranged this splendid circle from the throne, and they were
only called around it upon certain stated and formal occasions, when
they went reluctantly, and returned joyfully, as the animals in the
fable are supposed to have approached and left the den of the lion.

The very few persons who seemed to be there in the character of
counsellors were mean looking men, whose countenances sometimes
expressed sagacity, but whose manners showed they were called into a
sphere for which their previous education and habits had qualified them
but indifferently. One or two persons, however, did appear to Durward
to possess a more noble mien, and the strictness of the present duty was
not such as to prevent his uncle's communicating the names of those whom
he thus distinguished.

With the Lord Crawford, who was in attendance, dressed in the rich
habit of his office, and holding a leading staff of silver in his hand,
Quentin, as well as the reader, was already acquainted. Among others,
who seemed of quality, the most remarkable was the Count de Dunois,
the son of that celebrated Dunois, known by the name of the Bastard of
Orleans, who, fighting under the banner of Jeanne d'Arc, acted such a
distinguished part in liberating France from the English yoke. His son
well supported the high renown which had descended to him from such
an honoured source; and, notwithstanding his connexion with the royal
family, and his hereditary popularity both with the nobles and the
people, Dunois had, upon all occasions, manifested such an open, frank
loyalty of character that he seemed to have escaped all suspicion, even
on the part of the jealous Louis, who loved to see him near his person,
and sometimes even called him to his councils. Although accounted
complete in all the exercises of chivalry, and possessed of much of the
character of what was then termed a perfect knight, the person of the
Count was far from being a model of romantic beauty. He was under the
common size, though very strongly built, and his legs rather curved
outwards, into that make which is more convenient for horseback, than
elegant in a pedestrian. His shoulders were broad, his hair black, his
complexion swarthy, his arms remarkably long and nervous. The features
of his countenance were irregular, even to ugliness; yet, after all,
there was an air of conscious worth and nobility about the Count de
Dunois, which stamped, at the first glance, the character of the high
born nobleman and the undaunted soldier. His mien was bold and upright,
his step free and manly, and the harshness of his countenance was
dignified by a glance like an eagle, and a frown like a lion. His dress
was a hunting suit, rather sumptuous than gay, and he acted on most
occasions as Grand Huntsman, though we are not inclined to believe that
he actually held the office.

Upon the arm of his relation Dunois, walking with a step so slow and
melancholy that he seemed to rest on his kinsman and supporter, came
Louis Duke of Orleans, the first prince of the Blood Royal (afterwards
King, by the name of Louis XII), and to whom the guards and attendants
rendered their homage as such. The jealously watched object of Louis's
suspicions, this Prince, who, failing the King's offspring, was heir to
the kingdom, was not suffered to absent himself from Court, and,
while residing there, was alike denied employment and countenance.
The dejection which his degraded and almost captive state naturally
impressed on the deportment of this unfortunate Prince, was at this
moment greatly increased by his consciousness that the King meditated,
with respect to him, one of the most cruel and unjust actions which a
tyrant could commit, by compelling him to give his hand to the Princess
Joan of France, the younger daughter of Louis, to whom he had been
contracted in infancy, but whose deformed person rendered the insisting
upon such an agreement an act of abominable rigour.

The exterior of this unhappy Prince was in no respect distinguished
by personal advantages; and in mind, he was of a gentle, mild and
beneficent disposition, qualities which were visible even through
the veil of extreme dejection with which his natural character was at
present obscured. Quentin observed that the Duke studiously avoided even
looking at the Royal Guards, and when he returned their salute, that he
kept his eyes bent on the ground, as if he feared the King's jealousy
might have construed the gesture of ordinary courtesy as arising from
the purpose of establishing a separate and personal interest among them.

Very different was the conduct of the proud Cardinal and Prelate, John
of Balue, the favourite minister of Louis for the time, whose rise
and character bore as close a resemblance to that of Wolsey, as the
difference betwixt the crafty and politic Louis and the headlong and
rash Henry VIII of England would permit. The former had raised his
minister from the lowest rank, to the dignity, or at least to the
emoluments, of Grand Almoner of France, loaded him with benefices, and
obtained for him the hat of a cardinal; and although he was too cautious
to repose in the ambitious Balue the unbounded power and trust which
Henry placed in Wolsey, yet he was more influenced by him than by any
other of his avowed counsellors. The Cardinal, accordingly, had not
escaped the error incidental to those who are suddenly raised to power
from an obscure situation, for he entertained a strong persuasion,
dazzled doubtlessly by the suddenness of his elevation, that his
capacity was equal to intermeddling with affairs of every kind, even
those most foreign to his profession and studies. Tall and ungainly
in his person, he affected gallantry and admiration of the fair sex,
although his manners rendered his pretensions absurd, and his profession
marked them as indecorous. Some male or female flatterer had, in evil
hour, possessed him with the idea that there was much beauty of contour
in a pair of huge, substantial legs, which he had derived from his
father, a car man of Limoges--or, according to other authorities, a
miller of Verdun, and with this idea he had become so infatuated that he
always had his cardinal's robes a little looped up on one side, that the
sturdy proportion of his limbs might not escape observation. As he swept
through the stately apartment in his crimson dress and rich cope, he
stopped repeatedly to look at the arms and appointments of the cavaliers
on guard, asked them several questions in an authoritative tone, and
took upon him to censure some of them for what he termed irregularities
of discipline, in language to which these experienced soldiers dared
no reply, although it was plain they listened to it with impatience and
with contempt.

[Wolsey (1471-1530): at one time the chief favourite of Henry VIII. He
was raised from obscurity by that sovereign to be Archbishop of York,
Lord Chancellor of England, and Cardinal. As legate of the Pope, he
gained the ill will of Henry by his failure to secure that king's
divorce. He was deprived of his offices, his property was confiscated to
the crown, and in 1530 he was arrested for high treason, but died on his
way to trial.]

"Is the King aware," said Dunois to the Cardinal, "that the Burgundian
Envoy is peremptory in demanding an audience?"

"He is," answered the Cardinal; "and here, as I think, comes the all
sufficient Oliver Dain, to let us know the royal pleasure."

As he spoke, a remarkable person, who then divided the favour of Louis
with the proud Cardinal himself, entered from the inner apartment, but
without any of that important and consequential demeanour which marked
the full blown dignity of the churchman. On the contrary, this was a
little, pale, meagre man, whose black silk jerkin and hose, without
either coat, cloak, or cassock, formed a dress ill qualified to set off
to advantage a very ordinary person. He carried a silver basin in his
hand, and a napkin flung over his arm indicated his menial capacity. His
visage was penetrating and quick, although he endeavoured to banish such
expression from his features by keeping his eyes fixed on the ground,
while, with the stealthy and quiet pace of a cat, he seemed modestly
rather to glide than to walk through the apartment. But though modesty
may easily obscure worth, it cannot hide court favour; and all attempts
to steal unperceived through the presence chamber were vain, on the
part of one known to have such possession of the King's ear as had been
attained by his celebrated barber and groom of the chamber, Oliver
le Dain, called sometimes Oliver le Mauvais, and sometimes Oliver le
Diable, epithets derived from the unscrupulous cunning with which
he assisted in the execution of the schemes of his master's tortuous
policy. At present he spoke earnestly for a few moments with the Count
de Dunois, who instantly left the chamber, while the tonsor glided
quietly back towards the royal apartment whence he had issued, every
one giving place to him; which civility he only acknowledged by the most
humble inclination of the body, excepting in a very few instances,
where he made one or two persons the subject of envy to all the other
courtiers, by whispering a single word in their ear; and at the same
time muttering something of the duties of his place, he escaped from
their replies as well as from the eager solicitations of those who
wished to attract his notice. Ludovic Lesly had the good fortune to be
one of the individuals who, on the present occasion, was favoured by
Oliver with a single word, to assure him that his matter was fortunately
terminated.

Presently afterwards he had another proof of the same agreeable tidings;
for Quentin's old acquaintance, Tristan l'Hermite, the Provost Marshal
of the royal household, entered the apartment, and came straight to the
place where Balafre was posted. This formidable officer's uniform, which
was very rich, had only the effect of making his sinister countenance
and bad mien more strikingly remarkable, and the tone, which he meant
for conciliatory, was like nothing so much as the growling of a bear.
The import of his words, however, was more amicable than the voice in
which they were pronounced. He regretted the mistake which had fallen
between them on the preceding day, and observed it was owing to the
Sieur Le Balafre's nephew's not wearing the uniform of his corps, or
announcing himself as belonging to it, which had led him into the error
for which he now asked forgiveness.

Ludovic Lesly made the necessary reply, and as soon as Tristan had
turned away, observed to his nephew that they had now the distinction
of having a mortal enemy from henceforward in the person of this dreaded
officer.

"But we are above his volee [brood, rank, class]--a soldier," said he,
"who does his duty, may laugh at the Provost Marshal."

Quentin could not help being of his uncle's opinion, for, as Tristan
parted from them, it was with the look of angry defiance which the bear
casts upon the hunter whose spear has wounded him. Indeed, even when
less strongly moved, the sullen eye of this official expressed a
malevolence of purpose which made men shudder to meet his glance; and
the thrill of the young Scot was the deeper and more abhorrent, that he
seemed to himself still to feel on his shoulders the grasp of the two
death doing functionaries of this fatal officer.

Meanwhile, Oliver, after he had prowled around the room in the stealthy
manner which we have endeavoured to describe--all, even the highest
officers making way for him, and loading him with their ceremonious
attentions, which his modesty seemed desirous to avoid--again entered
the inner apartment, the doors of which were presently thrown open, and
King Louis entered the presence chamber.

Quentin, like all others, turned his eyes upon him; and started so
suddenly that he almost dropped his weapon, when he recognised in the
King of France that silk merchant, Maitre Pierre, who had been the
companion of his morning walk. Singular suspicions respecting the real
rank of this person had at different times crossed his thoughts; but
this, the proved reality, was wilder than his wildest conjecture.

The stern look of his uncle, offended at this breach of the decorum of
his office, recalled him to himself; but not a little was he astonished
when the King, whose quick eye had at once discovered him, walked
straight to the place where he was posted, without taking notice of any
one else.

"So;" he said, "young man, I am told you have been brawling on your
first arrival in Touraine; but I pardon you, as it was chiefly the fault
of a foolish old merchant, who thought your Caledonian blood required to
be heated in the morning with Vin de Beaulne. If I can find him, I will
make him an example to those who debauch my Guards.--Balafre," he added,
speaking to Lesly, "your kinsman is a fair youth, though a fiery. We
love to cherish such spirits, and mean to make more than ever we did of
the brave men who are around us. Let the year, day, hour, and minute of
your nephew's birth be written down and given to Oliver Dain."

Le Balafre bowed to the ground, and re-assumed his erect military
position, as one who would show by his demeanour his promptitude to act
in the King's quarrel or defence. Quentin, in the meantime, recovered
from his first surprise, studied the King's appearance more attentively,
and was surprised to find how differently he now construed his
deportment and features than he had done at their first interview.

These were not much changed in exterior, for Louis, always a scorner of
outward show, wore, on the present occasion, an old dark blue hunting
dress, not much better than the plain burgher suit of the preceding day,
and garnished with a huge rosary of ebony which had been sent to him by
no less a personage than the Grand Seignior, with an attestation that
it had been used by a Coptic hermit on Mount Lebanon, a personage of
profound sanctity. And instead of his cap with a single image, he now
wore a hat, the band of which was garnished with at least a dozen of
little paltry figures of saints stamped in lead. But those eyes, which,
according to Quentin's former impression, only twinkled with the love
of gain, had, now that they were known to be the property of an able and
powerful monarch, a piercing and majestic glance; and those wrinkles
on the brow, which he had supposed were formed during a long series of
petty schemes of commerce, seemed now the furrows which sagacity had
worn while toiling in meditation upon the fate of nations.

Presently after the King's appearance, the Princesses of France, with
the ladies of their suite, entered the apartment. With the eldest,
afterwards married to Peter of Bourbon, and known in French history by
the name of the Lady of Beaujeu, our story has but little to do. She was
tall, and rather handsome, possessed eloquence, talent, and much of her
father's sagacity, who reposed great confidence in her, and loved her as
well perhaps as he loved any one.

The younger sister, the unfortunate Joan, the destined bride of the Duke
of Orleans, advanced timidly by the side of her sister, conscious of a
total want of those external qualities which women are most desirous of
possessing, or being thought to possess. She was pale, thin, and sickly
in her complexion; her shape visibly bent to one side, and her gait was
so unequal that she might be called lame. A fine set of teeth, and eyes
which were expressive of melancholy, softness, and resignation, with
a quantity of light brown locks, were the only redeeming points which
flattery itself could have dared to number, to counteract the general
homeliness of her face and figure. To complete the picture, it was easy
to remark, from the Princess's negligence in dress and the timidity of
her manner, that she had an unusual and distressing consciousness of
her own plainness of appearance, and did not dare to make any of those
attempts to mend by manners or by art what nature had left amiss, or in
any other way to exert a power of pleasing. The King (who loved her not)
stepped hastily to her as she entered.

"How now," he said, "our world contemning daughter--Are you robed for a
hunting party, or for the convent, this morning? Speak--answer."

"For which your highness pleases, sire," said the Princess, scarce
raising her voice above her breath.

"Ay, doubtless, you would persuade me it is your desire to quit the
Court, Joan, and renounce the world and its vanities.--Ha! maiden,
wouldst thou have it thought that we, the first born of Holy Church,
would refuse our daughter to Heaven?--Our Lady and Saint Martin forbid
we should refuse the offering, were it worthy of the altar, or were thy
vocation in truth thitherward!"

So saying, the King crossed himself devoutly, looking in the meantime,
as appeared to Quentin, very like a cunning vassal, who was depreciating
the merit of something which he was desirous to keep to himself, in
order that he might stand excused for not offering it to his chief or
superior.

"Dares he thus play the hypocrite with Heaven," thought Durward, "and
sport with God and the Saints, as he may safely do with men, who dare
not search his nature too closely?"

Louis meantime resumed, after a moment's mental devotion, "No, fair
daughter, I and another know your real mind better. Ha! fair cousin of
Orleans, do we not? Approach, fair sir, and lead this devoted vestal of
ours to her horse."

Orleans started when the King spoke and hastened to obey him; but with
such precipitation of step, and confusion, that Louis called out, "Nay,
cousin, rein your gallantry, and look before you. Why, what a headlong
matter a gallant's haste is on some occasions! You had well nigh taken
Anne's hand instead of her sister's.--Sir, must I give Joan's to you
myself?"

The unhappy Prince looked up, and shuddered like a child, when forced
to touch something at which it has instinctive horror--then making an
effort, took the hand which the Princess neither gave nor yet withheld.
As they stood, her cold, damp fingers enclosed in his trembling hand,
with their eyes looking on the ground, it would have been difficult
to say which of these two youthful beings was rendered more utterly
miserable--the Duke, who felt himself fettered to the object of his
aversion by bonds which he durst not tear asunder, or the unfortunate
young woman, who too plainly saw that she was an object of abhorrence to
him, to gain whose kindness she would willingly have died.

"And now to horse, gentlemen and ladies--we will ourselves lead forth
our daughter of Beaujeu," said the King; "and God's blessing and Saint
Hubert's be on our morning's sport!"

"I am, I fear, doomed to interrupt it, Sire," said the Comte de Dunois;
"the Burgundian Envoy is before the gates of the Castle and demands an
audience."

"Demands an audience, Dunois?" replied the King. "Did you not answer
him, as we sent you word by Oliver, that we were not at leisure to see
him today,--and that tomorrow was the festival of Saint Martin, which,
please Heaven, we would disturb by no earthly thoughts--and that on the
succeeding day we were designed for Amboise--but that we would not fail
to appoint him as early an audience, when we returned, as our pressing
affairs would permit."

"All this I said," answered Dunois, "but yet, Sire--"

"Pasques dieu! man, what is it that thus sticks in thy throat?" said the
King. "This Burgundian's terms must have been hard of digestion."

"Had not my duty, your Grace's commands, and his character as an envoy,
restrained me," said Dunois, "he should have tried to digest them
himself; for, by our Lady of Orleans, I had more mind to have made him
eat his own words, than to have brought them to your Majesty."

"Body of me," said the King, "it is strange that thou, one of the most
impatient fellows alive, should have so little sympathy with the like
infirmity in our blunt and fiery cousin, Charles of Burgundy. Why, man,
I mind his blustering messages no more than the towers of this Castle
regard the whistling of the northeast wind, which comes from Flanders,
as well as this brawling Envoy."

"Know then, Sire," replied Dunois, "that the Count of Crevecoeur tarries
below, with his retinue of pursuivants and trumpets, and says, that
since your Majesty refuses him the audience which his master has
instructed him to demand, upon matters of most pressing concern, he will
remain there till midnight, and accost your Majesty at whatever hour you
are pleased to issue from your Castle, whether for business, exercise,
or devotion; and that no consideration, except the use of absolute
force, shall compel him to desist from this."

"He is a fool," said the King, with much composure. "Does the hot
headed Hainaulter think it any penance for a man of sense to remain for
twenty-four hours quiet within the walls of his Castle, when he hath the
affairs of a kingdom to occupy him? These impatient coxcombs think
that all men, like themselves, are miserable, save when in saddle and
stirrup. Let the dogs be put up, and well looked to, gentle Dunois.--We
will hold council today, instead of hunting."

"My Liege," answered Dunois, "you will not thus rid yourself of
Crevecoeur; for his master's instructions are, that if he hath not this
audience which he demands, he shall nail his gauntlet to the palisade
before the Castle in token of mortal defiance on the part of his master,
shall renounce the Duke's fealty to France, and declare instant war."

"Ay," said Louis without any perceptible alteration of voice, but
frowning until his piercing dark eyes became almost invisible under
his shaggy eyebrows, "is it even so? will our ancient vassal prove so
masterful--our dear cousin treat us thus unkindly?--Nay, then, Dunois,
we must unfold the Oriflamme, and cry Dennis Montjoye!"

[Montjoie St. Denis, a former war cry of the French soldiers. Saint
Denis was a patron saint of France who suffered martyrdom in the third
century. Montjoie (mont and joie) may be the name of the hill where the
saint met his death; or it may signify that any such place is a "hill of
joy."]

"Marry and amen, and in a most happy hour!" said the martial Dunois; and
the guards in the hall, unable to resist the same impulse, stirred each
upon his post, so as to produce a low but distinct sound of clashing
arms. The King cast his eye proudly round, and, for a moment, thought
and looked like his heroic father.

But the excitement of the moment presently gave way to the host of
political considerations, which, at that conjuncture, rendered an open
breach with Burgundy so peculiarly perilous. Edward IV, a brave and
victorious king, who had in his own person fought thirty battles, was
now established on the throne of England, was brother to the Duchess of
Burgundy, and, it might well be supposed, waited but a rupture between
his near connexion and Louis, to carry into France, through the ever
open gate of Calais, those arms which had been triumphant in the English
civil wars, and to obliterate the recollection of internal dissensions
by that most popular of all occupations amongst the English, an invasion
of France. To this consideration was added the uncertain faith of the
Duke of Bretagne, and other weighty subjects of reflection. So that,
after a deep pause, when Louis again spoke, although in the same tone,
it was with an altered spirit. "But God forbid," he said, "that aught
less than necessity should make us, the Most Christian' King, give cause
to the effusion of Christian blood, if anything short of dishonour may
avert such a calamity. We tender our subjects' safety dearer than the
ruffle which our own dignity may receive from the rude breath of a
malapert ambassador, who hath perhaps exceeded the errand with which he
was charged.--Admit the Envoy of Burgundy to our presence."

"Beati pacifici, [blessed are the peace makers]" said the Cardinal
Balue.

"True; and your Eminence knoweth that they who humble themselves shall
be exalted," added the King.

The Cardinal spoke an Amen, to which few assented, for even the pale
cheek of Orleans kindled with shame, and Balafre suppressed his feelings
so little, as to let the butt end of his partisan fall heavily on the
floor--a movement of impatience for which he underwent a bitter reproof
from the Cardinal, with a lecture on the mode of handling his arms
when in presence of the Sovereign. The King himself seemed unusually
embarrassed at the silence around him.

"You are pensive, Dunois," he said. "You disapprove of our giving way to
this hot headed Envoy."

"By no means,"' said Dunois; "I meddle not with matters beyond my
sphere. I was thinking of asking a boon of your Majesty."

"A boon, Dunois--what is it? You are an unfrequent suitor, and may count
on our favour."

"I would, then, your Majesty would send me to Evreux to regulate the
clergy," said Dunois, with military frankness.

"That were indeed beyond thy sphere," replied the King, smiling.

"I might order priests as well," replied the Count, "as my Lord Bishop
of Evreux, or my Lord Cardinal, if he likes the title better, can
exercise the soldiers of your Majesty's guard."

The King smiled again, and more mysteriously, while he whispered
Dunois, "The time may come when you and I will regulate the priests
together.--But this is for the present a good conceited animal of a
Bishop. Ah, Dunois! Rome, Rome puts him and other burdens upon us.--But
patience, cousin, and shuffle the cards, till our hand is a stronger
one."

[Dr. Dryasdust here remarks that cards, said to have been invented in a
preceding reign, for the amusement of Charles V during the intervals
of his mental disorder, seem speedily to have become common among the
courtiers.... The alleged origin of the invention of cards produced one
of the shrewdest replies I have ever heard given in evidence. It was
made by the late Dr. Gregory of Edinburgh to a counsel of great eminence
at the Scottish bar. The Doctor's testimony went to prove the insanity
of the party whose mental capacity was the point at issue. On a cross
interrogation, he admitted that the person in question played admirably
at whist. "And do you seriously say, doctor," said the learned counsel,
"that a person having a superior capacity for a game so difficult,
and which requires in a preeminent degree, memory, judgment, and
combination, can be at the same time deranged in his understanding?"--"I
am no card player," said the doctor, with great address, "but I have
read in history that cards were invented for the amusement of an insane
king." The consequences of this reply were decisive. S.]

The flourish of trumpets in the courtyard now announced the arrival
of the Burgundian nobleman. All in the presence chamber made haste to
arrange themselves according to their proper places of precedence, the
King and his daughters remaining in the centre of the assembly.

The Count of Crevecoeur, a renowned and undaunted warrior, entered
the apartment; and, contrary to the usage among the envoys of friendly
powers, he appeared all armed, excepting his head, in a gorgeous suit
of the most superb Milan armour, made of steel, inlaid and embossed with
gold, which was wrought into the fantastic taste called the Arabesque.
Around his neck and over his polished cuirass, hung his master's order
of the Golden Fleece, one of the most honoured associations of chivalry
then known in Christendom. A handsome page bore his helmet behind him, a
herald preceded him, bearing his letters of credence which he offered on
his knee to the King; while the ambassador himself paused in the midst
of the hall, as if to give all present time to admire his lofty look,
commanding stature, and undaunted composure of countenance and manner.
The rest of his attendants waited in the antechamber, or courtyard.

[The military order of the Golden Fleece was instituted by Philip the
Good, Duke of Burgundy, in the year 1429, the King of Spain being grand
master of the order, as Duke of Burgundy.]

"Approach, Seignior Count de Crevecoeur," said Louis, after a moment's
glance at his commission; "we need not our cousin's letters of credence,
either to introduce to us a warrior so well known, or to assure us of
your highly deserved credit with your master. We trust that your fair
partner, who shares some of our ancestral blood, is in good health. Had
you brought her in your hand, Seignior Count, we might have thought you
wore your armour, on this unwonted occasion, to maintain the superiority
of her charms against the amorous chivalry of France. As it is, we
cannot guess the reason of this complete panoply."

"Sire," replied the ambassador, "the Count of Crevecoeur must lament
his misfortune, and entreat your forgiveness, that he cannot, on this
occasion, reply with such humble deference as is due to the royal
courtesy with which your Majesty has honoured him. But, although it is
only the voice of Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes which speaks, the words
which he utters must be those of his gracious Lord and Sovereign, the
Duke of Burgundy."

"And what has Crevecoeur to say in the words of Burgundy?" said Louis,
with an assumption of sufficient dignity. "Yet hold--remember, that
in this presence, Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes speaks to him who is his
Sovereign's Sovereign."

Crevecoeur bowed, and then spoke aloud: "King of France, the mighty Duke
of Burgundy once more sends you a written schedule of the wrongs and
oppressions committed on his frontiers by your Majesty's garrisons
and officers; and the first point of inquiry is, whether it is your
Majesty's purpose to make him amends for these injuries?"

The King, looking slightly at the memorial which the herald delivered
to him upon his knee, said, "These matters have been already long before
our Council. Of the injuries complained of, some are in requital of
those sustained by my subjects, some are affirmed without any proof,
some have been retaliated by the Duke's garrisons and soldiers; and if
there remain any which fall under none of those predicaments, we are
not, as a Christian prince, averse to make satisfaction for wrongs
actually sustained by our neighbour, though committed not only without
our countenance, but against our express order."'

"I will convey your Majesty's answer," said the ambassador, "to my most
gracious master; yet, let me say, that, as it is in no degree different
from the evasive replies which have already been returned to his
just complaints, I cannot hope that it will afford the means of
re-establishing peace and friendship betwixt France and Burgundy."

"Be that at God's pleasure," said the King. "It is not for dread of
thy master's arms, but for the sake of peace only, that I return so
temperate an answer to his injurious reproaches. Proceed with thine
errand."

"My master's next demand," said the ambassador, "is that your Majesty
will cease your secret and underhand dealings with his towns of Ghent,
Liege, and Malines. He requests that your Majesty will recall the secret
agents by whose means the discontents of his good citizens of Flanders
are inflamed; and dismiss from your Majesty's dominions, or rather
deliver up to the condign punishment of their liege lord, those
traitorous fugitives, who, having fled from the scene of their
machinations, have found too ready a refuge in Paris, Orleans, Tours,
and other French cities."

"Say to the Duke of Burgundy," replied the King, "that I know of no such
indirect practices as those with which he injuriously charges me; that
many subjects of France have frequent intercourse with the good cities
of Flanders, for the purpose of mutual benefit by free traffic, which it
would be as much contrary to the Duke's interest as mine to interrupt;
and that many Flemings have residence in my kingdom, and enjoy the
protection of my laws, for the same purpose; but none, to our knowledge,
for those of treason or mutiny against the Duke. Proceed with your
message--you have heard my answer."

"As formerly, Sire, with pain," replied the Count of Crevecoeur; "it not
being of that direct or explicit nature which the Duke, my master, will
accept, in atonement for a long train of secret machinations, not the
less certain, though now disavowed by your Majesty. But I proceed with
my message. The Duke of Burgundy farther requires the King of France to
send back to his dominions without delay, and under a secure safeguard,
the persons of Isabelle Countess of Croye, and of her relation and
guardian the Countess Hameline, of the same family, in respect the
said Countess Isabelle, being, by the law of the country and the feudal
tenure of her estates, the ward of the said Duke of Burgundy, hath fled
from his dominions, and from the charge which he, as a careful guardian,
was willing to extend over her, and is here maintained in secret by the
King of France and by him fortified in her contumacy to the Duke, her
natural lord and guardian, contrary to the laws of God and man, as they
ever have been acknowledged in civilized Europe.--Once more I pause for
your Majesty's reply."

"You did well, Count de Crevecoeur," said Louis, scornfully, "to begin
your embassy at an early hour; for if it be your purpose to call on
me to account for the flight of every vassal whom your master's heady
passion may have driven from his dominions, the head roll may last till
sunset. Who can affirm that these ladies are in my dominions? who can
presume to say, if it be so, that I have either countenanced their
flight hither, or have received them with offers of protection? Nay,
who is it will assert, that, if they are in France, their place of
retirement is within my knowledge?"

"Sire," said Crevecoeur, "may it please your Majesty, I was provided
with a witness on this subject--one who beheld these fugitive ladies in
the inn called the Fleur de Lys, not far from this Castle--one who saw
your Majesty in their company, though under the unworthy disguise of a
burgess of Tours--one who received from them, in your royal presence,
messages and letters to their friends in Flanders--all which he conveyed
to the hand and ear of the Duke of Burgundy."

"Bring them forward," said the King; "place the man before my face who
dares maintain these palpable falsehoods."

"You speak in triumph, my lord, for you are well aware that this witness
no longer exists. When he lived, he was called Zamet Magraubin, by
birth one of those Bohemian wanderers. He was yesterday--as I have
learned--executed by a party of your Majesty's Provost Marshal, to
prevent, doubtless, his standing here to verify what he said of this
matter to the Duke of Burgundy, in presence of his Council, and of me,
Philip Crevecoeur de Cordes."

"Now, by Our Lady of Embrun," said the King, "so gross are these
accusations, and so free of consciousness am I of aught that approaches
them, that, by the honour of a King, I laugh, rather than am wroth at
them. My Provost guard daily put to death, as is their duty, thieves and
vagabonds; and is my crown to be slandered with whatever these thieves
and vagabonds may have said to our hot cousin of Burgundy and his
wise counsellors? I pray you, tell my kind cousin, if he loves such
companions, he had best keep them in his own estates; for here they are
like to meet short shrift and a tight cord."

"My master needs no such subjects, Sir King," answered the Count, in a
tone more disrespectful than he had yet permitted himself to make
use of; "for the noble Duke uses not to inquire of witches, wandering
Egyptians, or others, upon the destiny and fate of his neighbours and
allies."

"We have had patience enough, and to spare," said the King, interrupting
him; "and since thy sole errand here seems to be for the purpose
of insult, we will send some one in our name to the Duke of
Burgundy--convinced, in thus demeaning thyself towards us, thou hast
exceeded thy commission, whatever that may have been."

"On the contrary," said Crevecoeur, "I have not yet acquitted myself
of it--Hearken, Louis of Valois, King of France--Hearken, nobles and
gentlemen, who may be present.--Hearken, all good and true men.--And
thou, Toison d'Or," addressing the herald, "make proclamation after
me.--I, Philip Crevecoeur of Cordes, Count of the Empire, and Knight of
the honourable and princely Order of the Golden Fleece, in the name of
the most puissant Lord and Prince, Charles, by the grace of God, Duke of
Burgundy and Lotharingia, of Brabant and Limbourg, of Luxembourg and of
Gueldres; Earl of Flanders and of Artois; Count Palatine of Hainault, of
Holland, Zealand, Namur, and Zutphen; Marquis of the Holy Empire; Lord
of Friezeland, Salines, and Malines, do give you, Louis, King of France,
openly to know, that you, having refused to remedy the various griefs,
wrongs, and offences, done and wrought by you, or by and through your
aid, suggestion, and instigation, against the said Duke and his loving
subjects, he, by my mouth, renounces all allegiance and fealty towards
your crown and dignity--pronounces you false and faithless; and defies
you as a Prince, and as a man. There lies my gage, in evidence of what I
have said."

So saying, he plucked the gauntlet off his right hand, and flung it down
on the floor of the hall.

Until this last climax of audacity, there had been a deep silence in the
royal apartment during the extraordinary scene; but no sooner had the
clash of the gauntlet, when cast down, been echoed by the deep voice
of Toison d'Or, the Burgundian herald, with the ejaculation, "Vive
Bourgogne!" than there was a general tumult. While Dunois, Orleans,
old Lord Crawford, and one or two others, whose rank authorized their
interference, contended which should lift up the gauntlet, the others in
the hall exclaimed, "Strike him down! Cut him to pieces! Comes he here
to insult the King of France in his own palace?"

But the King appeased the tumult by exclaiming, in a voice like thunder,
which overawed and silenced every other sound, "Silence, my lieges, lay
not a hand on the man, not a finger on the gage!--And you, Sir Count, of
what is your life composed, or how is it warranted, that you thus place
it on the cast of a die so perilous? or is your Duke made of a different
metal from other princes, since he thus asserts his pretended quarrel in
a manner so unusual?"

"He is indeed framed of a different and more noble metal than the other
princes of Europe," said the undaunted Count of Crevecoeur; "for,
when not one of them dared to give shelter to you--to you, I say, King
Louis--when you were yet only Dauphin, an exile from France, and pursued
by the whole bitterness of your father's revenge, and all the power of
his kingdom, you were received and protected like a brother by my noble
master, whose generosity of disposition you have so grossly misused.
Farewell, Sire, my mission is discharged."

So saying, the Count de Crevecoeur left the apartment abruptly, and
without farther leave taking.

"After him--after him--take up the gauntlet and after him!" said the
King. "I mean not you, Dunois, nor you, my Lord of Crawford, who,
methinks, may be too old for such hot frays; nor you, cousin of Orleans,
who are too young for them.--My Lord Cardinal--my Lord Bishop of
Auxerre--it is your holy office to make peace among princes; do you lift
the gauntlet, and remonstrate with Count Crevecoeur on the sin he has
committed, in thus insulting a great monarch in his own Court, and
forcing us to bring the miseries of war upon his kingdom, and that of
his neighbour."

Upon this direct personal appeal, the Cardinal Balue proceeded to lift
the gauntlet, with such precaution as one would touch an adder--so great
was apparently his aversion to this symbol of war--and presently left
the royal apartment to hasten after the challenger.

Louis paused and looked round the circle of his courtiers, most of whom,
except such as we have already distinguished, being men of low birth,
and raised to their rank in the King's household for other gifts than
courage or feats of arms, looked pale on each other, and had obviously
received an unpleasant impression from the scene which had been just
acted. Louis gazed on them with contempt, and then said aloud, "Although
the Count of Crevecoeur be presumptuous and overweening, it must be
confessed that in him the Duke of Burgundy hath as bold a servant as
ever bore message for a prince. I would I knew where to find as faithful
an Envoy to carry back my answer."

"You do your French nobles injustice, Sire," said Dunois; "not one of
them but would carry a defiance to Burgundy on the point of his sword."

"And, Sire," said old Crawford, "you wrong also the Scottish gentlemen
who serve you. I, or any of my followers, being of meet rank, would not
hesitate a moment to call yonder proud Count to a reckoning; my own
arm is yet strong enough for the purpose, if I have but your Majesty's
permission."

"But your Majesty," continued Dunois, "will employ us in no service
through which we may win honour to ourselves, to your Majesty, or to
France."

"Say rather," said the King, "that I will not give way, Dunois, to the
headlong impetuosity, which, on some punctilio of chivalry, would wreck
yourselves, the throne, France, and all. There is not one of you who
knows not how precious every hour of peace is at this moment, when so
necessary to heal the wounds of a distracted country; yet there is
not one of you who would not rush into war on account of the tale of a
wandering gipsy, or of some errant damosel, whose reputation, perhaps,
is scarce higher.--Here comes the Cardinal, and we trust with more
pacific tidings.--How now, my Lord,--have you brought the Count to
reason and to temper?"

"Sire," said Balue, "my task hath been difficult. I put it to yonder
proud Count, how he dared to use towards your Majesty the presumptuous
reproach with which his audience had broken up, and which must be
understood as proceeding, not from his master, but from his own
insolence, and as placing him therefore in your Majesty's discretion for
what penalty you might think proper."

"You said right," replied the King; "and what was his answer?"

"The Count," continued the Cardinal, "had at that moment his foot in the
stirrup, ready to mount; and, on hearing my expostulation, he turned
his head without altering his position. 'Had I,' said he, 'been fifty
leagues distant, and had heard by report that a question vituperative
of my Prince had been asked by the King of France, I had, even at that
distance, instantly mounted, and returned to disburden my mind of the
answer which I gave him but now.'"

"I said, sirs," said the King, turning around, without any show of angry
emotion, "that in the Count Philip of Crevecoeur, our cousin the
Duke possesses as worthy a servant as ever rode at a prince's right
hand.--But you prevailed with him to stay?"

"To stay for twenty-four hours; and in the meanwhile to receive again
his gage of defiance," said the Cardinal; "he has dismounted at the
Fleur de Lys."

"See that he be nobly attended and cared for, at our charges," said
the King; "such a servant is a jewel in a prince's crown. Twenty-four
hours?" he added, muttering to himself, and looking as if he were
stretching his eyes to see into futurity; "twenty-four hours? It is of
the shortest. Yet twenty-four hours, ably and skilfully employed, may be
worth a year in the hand of indolent or incapable agents.--Well--to the
forest--to the forest, my gallant lords!--Orleans, my fair kinsman, lay
aside that modesty, though it becomes you; mind not my Joan's coyness.
The Loire may as soon avoid mingling with the Cher, as she from
favouring your suit, or you from preferring it," he added, as the
unhappy prince moved slowly on after his betrothed bride. "And now for
your boar spears, gentlemen--for Allegre, my pricker, hath harboured one
that will try both dog and man.--Dunois, lend me your spear--take mine,
it is too weighty for me; but when did you complain of such a fault in
your lance?--To horse--to horse, gentlemen."

And all the chase rode on.



CHAPTER IX: THE BOAR HUNT

     I will converse with unrespective boys
     And iron witted fools.  None are for me
     that look into me with suspicious eyes.

     KING RICHARD


All the experience which the Cardinal had been able to collect of his
master's disposition, did not, upon the present occasion, prevent his
falling into a great error of policy. His vanity induced him to think
that he had been more successful in prevailing upon the Count of
Crevecoeur to remain at Tours, than any other moderator whom the King
might have employed, would, in all probability, have been. And as he was
well aware of the importance which Louis attached to the postponement
of a war with the Duke of Burgundy, he could not help showing that
he conceived himself to have rendered the King great and acceptable
service. He pressed nearer to the King's person than he was wont to
do, and endeavoured to engage him in conversation on the events of the
morning.

This was injudicious in more respects than one, for princes love not to
see their subjects approach them with an air conscious of deserving, and
thereby seeming desirous to extort, acknowledgment and recompense for
their services; and Louis, the most jealous monarch that ever lived,
was peculiarly averse and inaccessible to any one who seemed either to
presume upon service rendered or to pry into his secrets.

Yet, hurried away, as the most cautious sometimes are, by the self
satisfied humour of the moment, the Cardinal continued to ride on the
King's right hand, turning the discourse, whenever it was possible, upon
Crevecoeur and his embassy which, although it might be the matter at
that moment most in the King's thoughts, was nevertheless precisely
that which he was least willing to converse on. At length Louis, who had
listened to him with attention, yet without having returned any answer
which could tend to prolong the conversation, signed to Dunois, who rode
at no great distance, to come up on the other side of his horse.

"We came hither for sport and exercise," said he, "but the reverend
Father here would have us hold a council of state."

"I hope your Highness will excuse my assistance," said Dunois; "I am
born to fight the battles of France, and have heart and hand for that,
but I have no head for her councils."

"My Lord Cardinal hath a head turned for nothing else, Dunois," answered
Louis; "he hath confessed Crevecoeur at the Castle gate, and he hath
communicated to us his whole shrift.--Said you not the whole?" he
continued, with an emphasis on the word, and a glance at the Cardinal,
which shot from betwixt his long dark eyelashes as a dagger gleams when
it leaves the scabbard.

The Cardinal trembled, as, endeavouring to reply to the King's jest, he
said that though his order were obliged to conceal the secrets of
their penitents in general, there was no sigillum confessionis [seal of
confession] which could not be melted at his Majesty's breath.

"And as his Eminence," said the King, "is ready to communicate the
secrets of others to us, he naturally expects that we should be equally
communicative to him; and, in order to get upon this reciprocal footing,
he is very reasonably desirous to know if these two ladies of Croye
be actually in our territories. We are sorry we cannot indulge his
curiosity, not ourselves knowing in what precise place errant damsels,
disguised princesses, distressed countesses, may lie leaguer within our
dominions, which are, we thank God and our Lady of Embrun, rather
too extensive for us to answer easily his Eminence's most reasonable
inquiries. But supposing they were with us, what say you, Dunois, to our
cousin's peremptory demand?"

"I will answer you, my Liege, if you will tell me in sincerity, whether
you want war or peace," replied Dunois, with a frankness which, while it
arose out of his own native openness and intrepidity of character, made
him from time to time a considerable favourite with Louis, who, like all
astucious persons, was as desirous of looking into the hearts of others
as of concealing his own.

"By my halidome," said he, "I should be as well contented as thyself,
Dunois, to tell thee my purpose, did I myself but know it exactly. But
say I declared for war, what should I do with this beautiful and wealthy
young heiress, supposing her to be in my dominions?"

"Bestow her in marriage on one of your own gallant followers, who has a
heart to love, and an arm to protect her," said Dunois.

"Upon thyself, ha!" said the King. "Pasques dieu! thou art more politic
than I took thee for, with all thy bluntness."

"Nay," answered Dunois, "I am aught except politic. By our Lady of
Orleans, I come to the point at once, as I ride my horse at the ring.
Your Majesty owes the house of Orleans at least one happy marriage."

"And I will pay it, Count. Pasques dieu, I will pay it!--See you not
yonder fair couple?"

The King pointed to the unhappy Duke of Orleans and the Princess, who,
neither daring to remain at a greater distance from the King, nor in
his sight appear separate from each other, were riding side by side,
yet with an interval of two or three yards betwixt them, a space which
timidity on the one side, and aversion on the other, prevented them from
diminishing, while neither dared to increase it.

Dunois looked in the direction of the King's signal, and as the
situation of his unfortunate relative and the destined bride reminded
him of nothing so much as of two dogs, which, forcibly linked together,
remain nevertheless as widely separated as the length of their collars
will permit, he could not help shaking his head, though he ventured not
on any other reply to the hypocritical tyrant. Louis seemed to guess his
thoughts.

"It will be a peaceful and quiet household they will keep--not much
disturbed with children, I should augur. But these are not always a
blessing."

[Here the King touches on the very purpose for which he pressed on the
match with such tyrannic severity, which was that as the Princess's
personal deformity admitted little chance of its being fruitful, the
branch of Orleans, which was next in succession to the crown, might be,
by the want of heirs, weakened or extinguished]

It was, perhaps, the recollection of his own filial ingratitude that
made the King pause as he uttered the last reflection, and which
converted the sneer that trembled on his lip into something resembling
an expression of contrition. But he instantly proceeded in another tone.

"Frankly, my Dunois, much as I revere the holy sacrament of matrimony"
(here he crossed himself), "I would rather the house of Orleans raised
for me such gallant soldiers as thy father and thyself, who share the
blood royal of France without claiming its rights, than that the country
should be torn to pieces, like to England, by wars arising from the
rivalry of legitimate candidates for the crown. The lion should never
have more than one cub."

Dunois sighed and was silent, conscious that contradicting his arbitrary
Sovereign might well hurt his kinsman's interests but could do him no
service; yet he could not forbear adding, in the next moment,

"Since your Majesty has alluded to the birth of my father, I must needs
own that, setting the frailty of his parents on one side, he might be
termed happier, and more fortunate, as the son of lawless love than of
conjugal hatred."

"Thou art a scandalous fellow, Dunois, to speak thus of holy wedlock,"
answered Louis jestingly. "But to the devil with the discourse, for the
boar is unharboured.--Lay on the dogs, in the name of the holy Saint
Hubert!--Ha! ha! tra-la-la-lira-la"--And the King's horn rang merrily
through the woods as he pushed forward on the chase, followed by two or
three of his guards, amongst whom was our friend Quentin Durward.
And here it was remarkable that, even in the keen prosecution of his
favourite sport, the King in indulgence of his caustic disposition,
found leisure to amuse himself by tormenting Cardinal Balue.

It was one of that able statesman's weaknesses, as we have elsewhere
hinted, to suppose himself, though of low rank and limited education,
qualified to play the courtier and the man of gallantry. He did not,
indeed, actually enter the lists of chivalrous combat, like Becket,
or levy soldiers, like Wolsey. But gallantry, in which they also were
proficients, was his professed pursuit; and he likewise affected great
fondness for the martial amusement of the chase. Yet, however well he
might succeed with certain ladies, to whom his power, his wealth, and
his influence as a statesman might atone for deficiencies in appearance
and manners, the gallant horses, which he purchased at almost any price,
were totally insensible to the dignity of carrying a Cardinal, and paid
no more respect to him than they would have done to his father, the
carter, miller, or tailor, whom he rivalled in horsemanship. The King
knew this, and, by alternately exciting and checking his own horse, he
brought that of the Cardinal, whom he kept close by his side, into such
a state of mutiny against his rider, that it became apparent they must
soon part company; and then, in the midst of its starting, bolting,
rearing, and lashing out, alternately, the royal tormentor rendered the
rider miserable, by questioning him upon many affairs of importance,
and hinting his purpose to take that opportunity of communicating to him
some of those secrets of state which the Cardinal had but a little while
before seemed so anxious to learn.

[In imputing to the Cardinal a want of skill in horsemanship, I
recollected his adventure in Paris when attacked by assassins, on which
occasion his mule, being scared by the crowd, ran away with the rider,
and taking its course to a monastery, to the abbot of which he formerly
belonged; was the means of saving his master's life.... S.]

A more awkward situation could hardly be imagined than that of a privy
councillor forced to listen to and reply to his sovereign, while each
fresh gambade of his unmanageable horse placed him in a new and more
precarious attitude--his violet robe flying loose in every direction,
and nothing securing him from an instant and perilous fall save the
depth of the saddle, and its height before and behind. Dunois laughed
without restraint; while the King, who had a private mode of enjoying
his jest inwardly, without laughing aloud, mildly rebuked his minister
on his eager passion for the chase, which would not permit him to
dedicate a few moments to business.

"I will no longer be your hindrance to a course," continued he,
addressing the terrified Cardinal, and giving his own horse the rein at
the same time.

Before Balue could utter a word by way of answer or apology, his horse,
seizing the bit with his teeth, went forth at an uncontrollable
gallop, soon leaving behind the King and Dunois, who followed at a more
regulated pace, enjoying the statesman's distressed predicament. If
any of our readers has chanced to be run away with in his time (as we
ourselves have in ours), he will have a full sense at once of the
pain, peril, and absurdity of the situation. Those four limbs of the
quadruped, which, noway under the rider's control, nor sometimes under
that of the creature they more properly belong to, fly at such a rate as
if the hindermost meant to overtake the foremost; those clinging legs of
the biped which we so often wish safely planted on the greensward, but
which now only augment our distress by pressing the animal's sides--the
hands which have forsaken the bridle for the mane--the body, which,
instead of sitting upright on the centre of gravity, as old Angelo [a
celebrated riding and fencing master at the beginning of the nineteenth
century] used to recommend, or stooping forward like a jockey's at
Newmarket [the scene of the annual horse races has been at Newmarket
Heath since the time of James I], lies, rather than hangs, crouched upon
the back of the animal, with no better chance of saving itself than a
sack of corn--combine to make a picture more than sufficiently ludicrous
to spectators, however uncomfortable to the exhibiter. But add to this
some singularity of dress or appearance on the part of the unhappy
cavalier--a robe of office, a splendid uniform, or any other peculiarity
of costume--and let the scene of action be a race course, a review, a
procession, or any other place of concourse and public display, and
if the poor wight would escape being the object of a shout of
inextinguishable laughter, he must contrive to break a limb or two,
or, which will be more effectual, to be killed on the spot; for on no
slighter condition will his fall excite anything like serious sympathy.
On the present occasion, the short violet coloured gown of the Cardinal,
which he used as riding dress (having changed his long robes before he
left the Castle), his scarlet stockings, and scarlet hat, with the
long strings hanging down, together with his utter helplessness, gave
infinite zest to his exhibition of horsemanship.

The horse, having taken matters entirely into his own hand, flew rather
than galloped up a long green avenue; overtook the pack in hard pursuit
of the boar, and then, having overturned one or two yeomen prickers, who
little expected to be charged in the rear--having ridden down several
dogs, and greatly confused the chase--animated by the clamorous
expostulations and threats of the huntsman, carried the terrified
Cardinal past the formidable animal itself, which was rushing on at a
speedy trot, furious and embossed with the foam which he churned around
his tusks. Balue, on beholding himself so near the boar, set up a
dreadful cry for help, which, or perhaps the sight of the boar, produced
such an effect on his horse, that the animal interrupted its headlong
career by suddenly springing to one side; so that the Cardinal, who had
long kept his seat only because the motion was straight forward, now
fell heavily to the ground. The conclusion of Balue's chase took place
so near the boar that, had not the animal been at that moment too much
engaged about his own affairs, the vicinity might have proved as fatal
to the Cardinal, as it is said to have done to Favila, King of the
Visigoths of Spain [he was killed by a bear while hunting]. The powerful
churchman got off, however, for the fright, and, crawling as hastily
as he could out of the way of hounds and huntsmen, saw the whole chase
sweep by him without affording him assistance, for hunters in those days
were as little moved by sympathy for such misfortunes as they are in our
own. The King, as he passed, said to Dunois, "Yonder lies his Eminence
low enough--he is no great huntsman, though for a fisher (when a secret
is to be caught) he may match Saint Peter himself. He has, however, for
once, I think, met with his match."

The Cardinal did not hear the words, but the scornful look with which
they were spoken led him to suspect their general import. The devil is
said to seize such opportunities of temptation as were now afforded by
the passions of Balue, bitterly moved as they had been by the scorn
of the King. The momentary fright was over so soon as he had assured
himself that his fall was harmless; but mortified vanity, and resentment
against his Sovereign, had a much longer influence on his feelings.
After all the chase had passed him, a single cavalier, who seemed rather
to be a spectator than a partaker of the sport, rode up with one or two
attendants, and expressed no small surprise to find the Cardinal upon
the ground, without a horse or attendants, and in such a plight as
plainly showed the nature of the accident which had placed him there. To
dismount, and offer his assistance in this predicament--to cause one of
his attendants to resign a staid and quiet palfrey for the Cardinal's
use--to express his surprise at the customs of the French Court, which
thus permitted them to abandon to the dangers of the chase, and
forsake in his need, their wisest statesman, were the natural modes
of assistance and consolation which so strange a rencontre supplied
to Crevecoeur, for it was the Burgundian ambassador who came to the
assistance of the fallen Cardinal.

He found the minister in a lucky time and humour for essaying some of
those practices on his fidelity, to which it is well known that Balue
had the criminal weakness to listen. Already in the morning, as the
jealous temper of Louis had suggested, more had passed betwixt them
than the Cardinal durst have reported to his master. But although he had
listened with gratified ears to the high value, which, he was assured by
Crevecoeur, the Duke of Burgundy placed upon his person and talents,
and not without a feeling of temptation, when the Count hinted at the
munificence of his master's disposition, and the rich benefices of
Flanders, it was not until the accident, as we have related, had highly
irritated him that, stung with wounded vanity, he resolved, in a fatal
hour, to show Louis XI that no enemy can be so dangerous as an offended
friend and confidant. On the present occasions he hastily requested
Crevecoeur to separate from him lest they should be observed, but
appointed him a meeting for the evening in the Abbey of Saint Martin's
at Tours, after vesper service; and that in a tone which assured the
Burgundian that his master had obtained an advantage hardly to have been
hoped for except in such a moment of exasperation. In the meanwhile,
Louis, who, though the most politic Prince of his time, upon this, as
on other occasions, had suffered his passions to interfere with his
prudence, followed contentedly the chase of the wild boar, which was now
come to an interesting point. It had so happened that a sounder (i.e.,
in the language of the period, a boar of only two years old), had
crossed the track of the proper object of the chase, and withdrawn in
pursuit of him all the dogs (except two or three couples of old stanch
hounds) and the greater part of the huntsmen. The King saw, with
internal glee, Dunois, as well as others, follow upon this false scent,
and enjoyed in secret the thought of triumphing over that accomplished
knight in the art of venerie, which was then thought almost as glorious
as war. Louis was well mounted, and followed, close on the hounds; so
that, when the original boar turned to bay in a marshy piece of ground,
there was no one near him but the King himself. Louis showed all the
bravery and expertness of an experienced huntsman; for, unheeding the
danger, he rode up to the tremendous animal, which was defending itself
with fury against the dogs, and struck him with his boar spear; yet, as
the horse shied from the boar, the blow was not so effectual as either
to kill or disable him. No effort could prevail on the horse to charge a
second time; so that the King, dismounting, advanced on foot against
the furious animal, holding naked in his hand one of those short, sharp,
straight, and pointed swords, which huntsmen used for such encounters.
The boar instantly quitted the dogs to rush on his human enemy, while
the King, taking his station, and posting himself firmly, presented the
sword, with the purpose of aiming it at the boar's throat, or rather
chest, within the collarbone; in which case, the weight of the beast,
and the impetuosity of its career, would have served to accelerate its
own destruction. But, owing to the wetness of the ground, the King's
foot slipped, just as this delicate and perilous manoeuvre ought to
have been accomplished, so that the point of the sword encountering the
cuirass of bristles on the outside of the creature's shoulder, glanced
off without making any impression, and Louis fell flat on the ground.
This was so far fortunate for the Monarch, because the animal, owing to
the King's fall, missed his blow in his turn, and in passing only rent
with his tusk the King's short hunting cloak, instead of ripping up his
thigh. But when, after running a little ahead in the fury of his course,
the boar turned to repeat his attack on the King at the moment when he
was rising, the life of Louis was in imminent danger. At this critical
moment, Quentin Durward, who had been thrown out in the chase by the
slowness of his horse, but who, nevertheless, had luckily distinguished
and followed the blast of the King's horn, rode up, and transfixed the
animal with his spear.

The King, who had by this time recovered his feet, came in turn to
Durward's assistance, and cut the animal's throat with his sword. Before
speaking a word to Quentin, he measured the huge creature not only by
paces, but even by feet--then wiped the sweat from his brow, and the
blood from his hands--then took off his hunting cap, hung it on a bush,
and devoutly made his orisons to the little leaden images which it
contained--and at length, looking upon Durward, said to him, "Is it
thou, my young Scot?--Thou hast begun thy woodcraft well, and Maitre
Pierre owes thee as good entertainment as he gave thee at the Fleur de
Lys yonder.--Why dost thou not speak? Thou hast lost thy forwardness and
fire, methinks, at the Court, where others find both."

Quentin, as shrewd a youth as ever Scottish breeze breathed caution
into, had imbibed more awe than confidence towards his dangerous master,
and was far too wise to embrace the perilous permission of familiarity
which he seemed thus invited to use. He answered in very few and well
chosen words, that if he ventured to address his Majesty at all, it
could be but to crave pardon for the rustic boldness with which he had
conducted himself when ignorant of his high rank.

"Tush! man," said the King; "I forgive thy sauciness for thy spirit and
shrewdness. I admired how near thou didst hit upon my gossip Tristan's
occupation. You have nearly tasted of his handiwork since, as I am given
to understand. I bid thee beware of him; he is a merchant who deals in
rough bracelets and tight necklaces. Help me to my horse;--I like thee,
and will do thee good. Build on no man's favour but mine--not even on
thine uncle's or Lord Crawford's--and say nothing of thy timely aid in
this matter of the boar; for if a man makes boast that he has served
a King in such pinch, he must take the braggart humour for its own
recompense."

The King then winded his horn, which brought up Dunois and several
attendants, whose compliments he received on the slaughter of such a
noble animal, without scrupling to appropriate a much greater share
of merit than actually belonged to him; for he mentioned Durward's
assistance as slightly as a sportsman of rank, who, in boasting of the
number of birds which he has bagged, does not always dilate upon the
presence and assistance of the gamekeeper. He then ordered Dunois to see
that the boar's carcass was sent to the brotherhood of Saint Martin, at
Tours, to mend their fare on holydays, and that they might remember the
King in their private devotions.

"And," said Louis, "who hath seen his Eminence my Lord Cardinal?
Methinks it were but poor courtesy, and cold regard to Holy Church to
leave him afoot here in the forest."

"May it please you," said Quentin, when he saw that all were silent,
"I saw his Lordship the Cardinal accommodated with a horse, on which he
left the forest."

"Heaven cares for its own," replied the King. "Set forward to the
Castle, my lords; we'll hunt no more this morning.--You, Sir Squire,"
addressing Quentin, "reach me my wood knife--it has dropt from the
sheath beside the quarry there. Ride on, Dunois--I follow instantly."

Louis, whose lightest motions were often conducted like stratagems, thus
gained an opportunity to ask Quentin privately, "My bonny Scot, thou
hast an eye, I see. Canst thou tell me who helped the Cardinal to a
palfrey?--Some stranger, I should suppose; for, as I passed without
stopping, the courtiers would likely be in no hurry to do him such a
timely good turn."

"I saw those who aided his Eminence but an instant, Sire," said Quentin;
"it was only a hasty glance, for I had been unluckily thrown out, and
was riding fast to be in my place; but I think it was the Ambassador of
Burgundy and his people."

"Ha," said Louis. "Well, be it so. France will match them yet."

There was nothing more remarkable happened, and the King, with his
retinue, returned to the Castle.



CHAPTER X: THE SENTINEL

     Where should this music be?  i' the air or the earth?

     THE TEMPEST

     I was all ear,
     And took in strains that might create a soul
     Under the ribs of death.

     COMUS


Quentin had hardly reached his little cabin, in order to make some
necessary changes in his dress, when his worthy relation required to
know the full particulars of all that had befallen him at the hunt.

The youth, who could not help thinking that his uncle's hand was
probably more powerful than his understanding, took care, in his reply,
to leave the King in full possession of the victory which he had seemed
desirous to appropriate. Le Balafre's reply was a boast of how much
better he himself would have behaved in the like circumstances, and it
was mixed with a gentle censure of his nephew's slackness in not making
in to the King's assistance, when he might be in imminent peril. The
youth had prudence, in answer, to abstain from all farther indication
of his own conduct, except that, according to the rules of woodcraft, he
held it ungentle to interfere with the game attacked by another hunter,
unless he was specially called upon for his assistance. The discussion
was scarcely ended, when occasion was afforded Quentin to congratulate
himself for observing some reserve towards his kinsman. A low tap at the
door announced a visitor--it was presently opened, and Oliver Dain, or
Mauvais, or Diable, for by all these names he was known, entered the
apartment.

This able but most unprincipled man has been already described in so far
as his exterior is concerned. The aptest resemblance of his motions
and manners might perhaps be to those of a domestic cat, which, while
couching in seeming slumber, or gliding through the apartment with slow,
stealthy, and timid steps, is now engaged in watching the hole of some
unfortunate mouse, now in rubbing herself with apparent confidence
and fondness against those by whom she desires to be caressed, and,
presently after, is flying upon her prey, or scratching, perhaps, the
very object of her former cajolements.

He entered with stooping shoulders, a humble and modest look, and threw
such a degree of civility into his address to the Seignior Balafre, that
no one who saw the interview could have avoided concluding that he came
to ask a boon of the Scottish Archer. He congratulated Lesly on the
excellent conduct of his young kinsman in the chase that day, which, he
observed, had attracted the King's particular attention. He here paused
for a reply; and, with his eyes fixed on the ground, save just when once
or twice they stole upwards to take a side glance at Quentin, he heard
Balafre observe that his Majesty had been unlucky in not having himself
by his side instead of his nephew, as he would questionless have made
in, and speared the brute, a matter which he understood Quentin had left
upon his Majesty's royal hands, so far as he could learn the story.

"But it will be a lesson to his Majesty," he said, "while he lives, to
mount a man of my inches on a better horse; for how could my great hill
of a Flemish dray horse keep up with his Majesty's Norman runner? I
am sure I spurred till his sides were furrowed. It is ill considered,
Master Oliver, and you must represent it to his Majesty."

Master Oliver only replied to this observation by turning towards
the bold, bluff speaker one of those slow, dubious glances which,
accompanied by a slight motion of the hand, and a gentle depression of
the head to one side, may be either interpreted as a mute assent to
what is said, or as a cautious deprecation of farther prosecution of the
subject. It was a keener, more scrutinizing glance, which he bent on the
youth, as he said, with an ambiguous smile, "So, young man, is it the
wont of Scotland to suffer your Princes to be endangered for the lack of
aid in such emergencies as this of today?"

"It is our custom," answered Quentin, determined to throw no farther
light on the subject, "not to encumber them with assistance in
honourable pastimes, when they can aid themselves without it. We hold
that a Prince in a hunting field must take his chance with others, and
that he comes there for the very purpose. What were woodcraft without
fatigue and without danger?"

"You hear the silly boy," said his uncle; "that is always the way with
him; he hath an answer or a reason ready to be rendered to every one. I
wonder whence he hath caught the gift; I never could give a reason
for anything I have ever done in my life, except for eating when I was
a-hungry, calling the muster roll, and such points of duty as the like."

"And pray, worthy Seignior," said the royal tonsor, looking at him from
under his eyelids, "what might your reason be for calling the muster
roll on such occasions?"

"Because the Captain commanded me," said Le Balafre. "By Saint Giles
[patron saint of lepers, beggars, and cripples. He has been especially
venerated in England and Scotland], I know no other reason! If he had
commanded Tyrie or Cunningham, they must have done the same."

"A most military final cause!" said Oliver. "But, Seignior Le Balafre,
you will be glad, doubtless, to learn that his Majesty is so far from
being displeased with your nephew's conduct, that he hath selected him
to execute a piece of duty this afternoon."

"Selected him?" said Balafre in great surprise--"selected me, I suppose
you mean?"

"I mean precisely as I speak," replied the barber, in a mild but decided
tone; "the King hath a commission with which to intrust your nephew."

"Why, wherefore, and for what reason?" said Balafre. "Why doth he choose
the boy, and not me?"

"I can go no farther back than your own ultimate cause, Seignior Le
Balafre, such are his Majesty's commands. But," said he, "if I might use
the presumption to form a conjecture, it may be his Majesty hath work to
do, fitter for a youth like your nephew, than for an experienced warrior
like yourself, Seignior Balafre.--Wherefore, young gentleman, get your
weapons and follow me. Bring with you a harquebuss, for you are to mount
sentinel."

"Sentinel!" said the uncle. "Are you sure you are right, Master Oliver?
The inner guards of the Castle have ever been mounted by those only who
have (like me) served twelve years in our honourable body."

"I am quite certain of his Majesty's pleasure," said Oliver, "and must
no longer delay executing it."

"But," said Le Balafre, "my nephew is not even a free Archer, being only
an Esquire, serving under my lance."

"Pardon me," answered Oliver; "the King sent for the register not half
an hour since, and enrolled him among the Guard. Have the goodness to
assist to put your nephew in order for the service."

Balafre, who had no ill nature, or even much jealousy in his
disposition, hastily set about adjusting his nephew's dress, and giving
him directions for his conduct under arms, but was unable to refrain
from larding them with interjections of surprise at such luck's chancing
to fall upon the young man so early.

It had never taken place before in the Scottish Guard, he said, not even
in his own instance. But doubtless his service must be to mount guard
over the popinjays and Indian peacocks, which the Venetian ambassador
had lately presented to the King--it could be nothing else; and such
duty being only fit for a beardless boy (here he twirled his own grim
mustaches), he was glad the lot had fallen on his fair nephew.

Quick and sharp of wit, as well as ardent in fancy, Quentin saw visions
of higher importance in this early summons to the royal presence,
and his heart beat high at the anticipation of rising into speedy
distinction. He determined carefully to watch the manners and language
of his conductor, which he suspected must, in some cases at least,
be interpreted by contraries, as soothsayers are said to discover
the interpretation of dreams. He could not but hug himself on having
observed strict secrecy on the events of the chase, and then formed a
resolution, which, for so young a person, had much prudence in it, that
while he breathed the air of this secluded and mysterious Court, he
would keep his thoughts locked in his bosom, and his tongue under the
most careful regulation.

His equipment was soon complete, and, with his harquebuss on his
shoulder (for though they retained the name of Archers, the Scottish
Guard very early substituted firearms for the long bow, in the use of
which their nation never excelled), he followed Master Oliver out of the
barrack.

His uncle looked long after him, with a countenance in which wonder
was blended with curiosity; and though neither envy nor the malignant
feelings which it engenders entered into his honest meditations, there
was yet a sense of wounded or diminished self importance, which mingled
with the pleasure excited by his nephew's favourable commencement of
service.

He shook his head gravely, opened a privy cupboard, took out a large
bottrine of stout old wine, shook it to examine how low the contents
had ebbed, filled and drank a hearty cup; then took his seat, half
reclining, on the great oaken settle; and having once again slowly
shaken his head, received so much apparent benefit from the oscillation,
that, like the toy called a mandarin, he continued the motion until he
dropped into a slumber, from which he was first roused by the signal to
dinner.

When Quentin Durward left his uncle to these sublime meditations, he
followed his conductor, Master Oliver, who, without crossing any of the
principal courts, led him, partly through private passages exposed
to the open air, but chiefly through a maze of stairs, vaults, and
galleries, communicating with each other by secret doors and at
unexpected points, into a large and spacious latticed gallery, which,
from its breadth, might have been almost termed a hall, hung with
tapestry more ancient than beautiful, and with a very few of the hard,
cold, ghastly looking pictures, belonging to the first dawn of the arts
which preceded their splendid sunrise. These were designed to represent
the Paladins of Charlemagne, who made such a distinguished figure in the
romantic history of France; and as this gigantic form of the celebrated
Orlando constituted the most prominent figure, the apartment acquired
from him the title of Rolando's Hall, or Roland's Gallery.

[Charlemagne... was accounted a saint during the dark ages: and
Louis XI, as one of his successors, honoured his shrine with peculiar
observance. S.]

[Orlando: also called Roland. His history may be read in the Chanson de
Roland.]

"You will keep watch here," said Oliver, in a low whisper, as if the
hard delineations of monarchs and warriors around could have been
offended at the elevation of his voice, or as if he had feared to awaken
the echoes that lurked among the groined vaults and Gothic drop work on
the ceiling of this huge and dreary apartment.

"What are the orders and signs of my watch?" answered Quentin, in the
same suppressed tone.

"Is your harquebuss loaded?" replied Oliver, without answering his
query.

"That," answered Quentin, "is soon done;" and proceeded to charge his
weapon, and to light the slow match (by which when necessary it was
discharged) at the embers of a wood fire, which was expiring in the huge
hall chimney--a chimney itself so large that it might have been called a
Gothic closet or chapel appertaining to the hall.

When this was performed, Oliver told him that he was ignorant of one of
the high privileges of his own corps, which only received orders from
the King in person, or the High Constable of France, in lieu of their
own officers. "You are placed here by his Majesty's command, young man,"
added Oliver, "and you will not be long here without knowing wherefore
you are summoned. Meantime your walk extends along this gallery. You are
permitted to stand still while you list, but on no account to sit down,
or quit your weapon. You are not to sing aloud, or whistle, upon any
account; but you may, if you list, mutter some of the church's prayers,
or what else you list that has no offence in it, in a low voice.
Farewell, and keep good watch."

"Good watch!" thought the youthful soldier as his guide stole away from
him with that noiseless gliding step which was peculiar to him, and
vanished through a side door behind the arras.

"Good watch! but upon whom and against whom?--for what, save bats
or rats, are there here to contend with, unless these grim old
representatives of humanity should start into life for the disturbance
of my guard? Well, it is my duty, I suppose, and I must perform it."

With the vigorous purpose of discharging his duty, even to the very
rigour, he tried to while away the time with some of the pious hymns
which he had learned in the convent in which he had found shelter after
the death of his father--allowing in his own mind, that, but for the
change of a novice's frock for the rich military dress which he now
wore, his soldierly walk in the royal gallery of France resembled
greatly those of which he had tired excessively in the cloistered
seclusion of Aberbrothick.

Presently, as if to convince himself he now belonged not to the cell but
to the world, he chanted to himself, but in such tone as not to exceed
the license given to him, some of the ancient rude ballads which the old
family harper had taught him, of the defeat of the Danes at Aberlemno
and Forres, the murder of King Duffus at Forfar, and other pithy sonnets
and lays which appertained to the history of his distant native country,
and particularly of the district to which he belonged. This wore away a
considerable space of time, and it was now more than two hours past
noon when Quentin was reminded by his appetite that the good fathers of
Aberbrothick, however strict in demanding his attendance upon the
hours of devotion, were no less punctual in summoning him to those of
refection; whereas here, in the interior of a royal palace, after a
morning spent in exercise, and a noon exhausted in duty, no man seemed
to consider it as a natural consequence that he must be impatient for
his dinner.

There are, however, charms in sweet sounds which can lull to rest even
the natural feelings of impatience by which Quentin was now visited.
At the opposite extremities of the long hall or gallery were two
large doors, ornamented with heavy architraves, probably opening into
different suites of apartments, to which the gallery served as a medium
of mutual communication. As the sentinel directed his solitary walk
betwixt these two entrances, which formed the boundary of his duty, he
was startled by a strain of music which was suddenly waked near one of
those doors, and which, at least in his imagination, was a combination
of the same lute and voice by which he had been enchanted on the
preceding day. All the dreams of yesterday morning, so much weakened by
the agitating circumstances which he had since undergone, again arose
more vivid from their slumber, and, planted on the spot where his ear
could most conveniently, drink in the sounds, Quentin remained, with his
harquebuss shouldered, his mouth half open, ear, eye, and soul
directed to the spot, rather the picture of a sentinel than a living
form,--without any other idea than that of catching, if possible, each
passing sound of the dulcet melody.

These delightful sounds were but partially heard--they languished,
lingered, ceased entirely, and were from time to time renewed after
uncertain intervals. But, besides that music, like beauty, is often most
delightful, or at least most interesting, to the imagination when its
charms are but partially displayed and the imagination is left to fill
up what is from distance but imperfectly detailed, Quentin had matter
enough to fill up his reverie during the intervals of fascination. He
could not doubt, from the report of his uncle's comrades and the scene
which had passed in the presence chamber that morning, that the siren
who thus delighted his ears, was not, as he had profanely supposed, the
daughter or kinswoman of a base Cabaretier [inn keeper], but the same
disguised and distressed Countess for whose cause kings and princes were
now about to buckle on armour, and put lance in rest. A hundred wild
dreams, such as romantic and adventurous youth readily nourished in
a romantic and adventurous age, chased from his eyes the bodily
presentiment of the actual scene, and substituted their own bewildering
delusions, when at once, and rudely, they were banished by a rough grasp
laid upon his weapon, and a harsh voice which exclaimed, close to his
ear, "Ha! Pasques dieu, Sir Squire, methinks you keep sleepy ward."

The voice was the tuneless, yet impressive and ironical tone of Maitre
Pierre, and Quentin, suddenly recalled to himself, saw, with shame and
fear, that he had, in his reverie, permitted Louis himself--entering
probably by some secret door, and gliding along by the wall, or behind
the tapestry--to approach him so nearly as almost to master his weapon.

The first impulse of his surprise was to free his harquebuss by a
violent exertion, which made the King stagger backward into the hall.
His next apprehension was that, in obeying the animal instinct, as it
may be termed, which prompts a brave man to resist an attempt to disarm
him, he had aggravated, by a personal struggle with the King, the
displeasure produced by the negligence with which he had performed his
duty upon guard; and, under this impression, he recovered his harquebuss
without almost knowing what he did, and, having again shouldered it,
stood motionless before the Monarch, whom he had reason to conclude he
had mortally offended.

Louis, whose tyrannical disposition was less founded on natural ferocity
or cruelty of temper, than on cold blooded policy and jealous suspicion,
had, nevertheless, a share of that caustic severity which would have
made him a despot in private conversation, and he always seemed to enjoy
the pain which he inflicted on occasions like the present. But he
did not push his triumph far, and contented himself with saying, "Thy
service of the morning hath already overpaid some negligence in so young
a soldier.--Hast thou dined?"

Quentin, who rather looked to be sent to the Provost Marshal than
greeted with such a compliment, answered humbly in the negative.

"Poor lad," said Louis, in a softer tone than he usually spoke in,
"hunger hath made him drowsy.--I know thine appetite is a wolf," he
continued; "and I will save thee from one wild beast as thou didst me
from another; thou hast been prudent too in that matter, and I thank
thee for it.--Canst thou yet hold out an hour without food?"

"Four-and-twenty, Sire," replied Durward, "or I were no true Scot."

"I would not for another kingdom be the pasty which should encounter
thee after such a vigil," said the King; "but the question now is,
not of thy dinner, but of my own. I admit to my table this day, and in
strict privacy, the Cardinal Balue and this Burgundian--this Count de
Crevecoeur--and something may chance; the devil is most busy when foes
meet on terms of truce."

He stopped, and remained silent, with a deep and gloomy look. As the
King was in no haste to proceed, Quentin at length ventured to ask what
his duty was to be in these circumstances.

"To keep watch at the beauffet, with thy loaded weapon," said Louis;
"and if there is treason, to shoot the traitor."

"Treason, Sire! and in this guarded castle!" exclaimed Durward.

"You think it impossible," said the King, not offended, it would seem,
by his frankness; "but our history has shown that treason can creep into
an auger hole.--Treason excluded by guards! Oh, thou silly boy!--quis
custodiat ipsos custodes--who shall exclude the treason of those very
warders?"

"Their Scottish honour," answered Durward, boldly.

"True: most right:--thou pleasest me," said the King, cheerfully;
"the Scottish honour was ever true, and I trust it accordingly. But
treason!"--here he relapsed into his former gloomy mood, and traversed
the apartment with unequal steps--"she sits at our feasts, she sparkles
in our bowls, she wears the beard of our counsellors, the smiles of our
courtiers, the crazy laugh of our jesters--above all, she lies hid under
the friendly air of a reconciled enemy. Louis of Orleans trusted John of
Burgundy--he was murdered in the Rue Barbette. John of Burgundy trusted
the faction of Orleans--he was murdered on the bridge of Montereau.--I
will trust no one--no one. Hark ye; I will keep my eye on that insolent
Count; ay, and on the churchman too, whom I hold not too faithful. When
I say, Ecosse, en avant [Forward, Scotland], shoot Crevecoeur dead on
the spot."

"It is my duty," said Quentin, "your Majesty's life being endangered."

"Certainly--I mean it no otherwise," said the King. "What should I get
by slaying this insolent soldier?--Were it the Constable Saint Paul
indeed"--here he paused, as if he thought he had said a word too much,
but resumed, laughing, "our brother-in-law, James of Scotland--your own
James, Quentin--poniarded the Douglas when on a hospitable visit, within
his own royal castle of Skirling."

[Douglas: the allusion in the text is to the fate of James, Earl of
Douglas, who, upon the faith of a safe conduct, after several acts of
rebellion, visited James the Second in the Castle of Stirling. The king
stabbed Douglas, who received his mortal wound from Sir Patrick Grey,
one of the king's attendants.]

"Of Stirling," said Quentin, "and so please your Highness.--It was a
deed of which came little good."

"Stirling call you the castle?" said the King, overlooking the latter
part of Quentin's speech. "Well, let it be Stirling--the name is nothing
to the purpose. But I meditate no injury to these men--none.--It would
serve me nothing. They may not purpose equally fair by me--I rely on thy
harquebuss."

"I shall be prompt at the signal," said Quentin; "but yet"

"You hesitate," said the King. "Speak out--I give thee full leave. From
such as thou art, hints may be caught that are right valuable."

"I would only presume to say," replied Quentin, "that your Majesty
having occasion to distrust this Burgundian, I marvel that you suffer
him to approach so near your person, and that in privacy."

"Oh, content you, Sir Squire," said the King. "There are some dangers
which when they are braved, disappear, and which yet, when there is
an obvious and apparent dread of them displayed, become certain and
inevitable. When I walk boldly up to a surly mastiff, and caress him,
it is ten to one I soothe him to good temper; if I show fear of him,
he flies on me and rends me. I will be thus far frank with thee.--It
concerns me nearly that this man returns not to his headlong master in
a resentful humour. I run my risk, therefore. I have never shunned to
expose my life for the weal of my kingdom. Follow me."

Louis led his young Life Guardsman, for whom he seemed to have taken a
special favour, through the side door by which he had himself entered,
saying, as he showed it him, "He who would thrive at Court must know the
private wickets and concealed staircases--ay, and the traps and pitfalls
of the palace, as well as the principal entrances, folding doors, and
portals."

After several turns and passages, the King entered a small vaulted
room, where a table was prepared for dinner with three covers. The whole
furniture and arrangements of the room were plain almost to meanness. A
beauffet, or folding and movable cupboard, held a few pieces of gold and
silver plate, and was the only article in the chamber which had in the
slightest degree the appearance of royalty. Behind this cupboard, and
completely hidden by it, was the post which Louis assigned to Quentin
Durward; and after having ascertained, by going to different parts of
the room, that he was invisible from all quarters, he gave him his last
charge: "Remember the word, Posse, en avant; and so soon as ever I utter
these sounds, throw down the screen--spare not for cup or goblet, and be
sure thou take good aim at Crevecoeur--if thy piece fail, cling to him,
and use thy knife--Oliver and I can deal with the Cardinal."

Having thus spoken, he whistled aloud, and summoned into the apartment
Oliver, who was premier valet of the chamber as well as barber, and who,
in fact, performed all offices immediately connected with the King's
person, and who now appeared, attended by two old men, who were the only
assistants or waiters at the royal table. So soon as the King had taken
his place, the visitors were admitted; and Quentin, though himself
unseen, was so situated as to remark all the particulars of the
interview.

The King welcomed his visitors with a degree of cordiality which Quentin
had the utmost difficulty to reconcile with the directions which he
had previously received, and the purpose for which he stood behind the
beauffet with his deadly weapon in readiness. Not only did Louis appear
totally free from apprehension of any kind, but one would have supposed
that those visitors whom he had done the high honour to admit to his
table were the very persons in whom he could most unreservedly
confide, and whom he was, most willing to honour. Nothing could be more
dignified, and, at the same time, more courteous than his demeanour.
While all around him, including even his own dress, was far beneath
the splendour which the petty princes of the kingdom displayed in
their festivities, his own language and manners were those of a mighty
Sovereign in his most condescending mood. Quentin was tempted to
suppose, either that the whole of his previous conversation with Louis
had been a dream, or that the dutiful demeanour of the Cardinal, and the
frank, open, and gallant bearing of the Burgundian noble had entirely
erased the King's suspicion.

But whilst the guests, in obedience to the King, were in the act of
placing themselves at the table, his Majesty darted one keen glance on
them, and then instantly directed his look to Quentin's post. This was
done in an instant; but the glance conveyed so much doubt and hatred
towards his guests, such a peremptory injunction on Quentin to be
watchful in attendance, and prompt in execution, that no room was left
for doubting that the sentiments of Louis continued unaltered, and his
apprehensions unabated. He was, therefore, more than ever astonished at
the deep veil under which that Monarch was able to conceal the movements
of his jealous disposition.

Appearing to have entirely forgotten the language which Crevecoeur had
held towards him in the face of his Court, the King conversed with him
of old times, of events which had occurred during his own exile in the
territories of Burgundy, and inquired respecting all the nobles with
whom he had been then familiar, as if that period had indeed been
the happiest of his life, and as if he retained towards all who had
contributed to soften the term of his exile, the kindest and most
grateful sentiments.

"To an ambassador of another nation," he said, "I would have thrown
something of state into our reception; but to an old friend, who often
shared my board at the Castle of Genappes [during his residence in
Burgundy, in his father's lifetime, Genappes was the usual abode of
Louis.... S.], I wished to show myself, as I love best to live, old
Louis of Valois, as simple and plain as any of his Parisian badauds
[idlers]. But I directed them to make some better cheer than ordinary
for you, Sir Count, for I know your Burgundian proverb, 'Mieux vault
bon repas que bel habit' [a good meal is better than a beautiful coat.
(Present spelling is vaut.)]; and therefore I bid them have some care
of our table. For our wine, you know well it is the subject of an
old emulation betwixt France and Burgundy, which we will presently
reconcile; for I will drink to you in Burgundy, and you, Sir Count,
shall pledge me in Champagne.--Here, Oliver, let me have a cup of Vin
d'Auxerre;" and he hummed gaily a song then well known,


     "Auxerre est le boisson des Rois."

     [Auxerre wine is the beverage of kings]


"Here, Sir Count, I drink to the health of the noble Duke of Burgundy,
our kind and loving cousin.--Oliver, replenish yon golden cup with Vin
de Rheims, and give it to the Count on your knee--he represents our
loving brother.--My Lord Cardinal, we will ourself fill your cup."

"You have already, Sire, even to overflowing," said the Cardinal, with
the lowly mien of a favourite towards an indulgent master.

"Because we know that your Eminence can carry it with a steady hand,"
said Louis. "But which side do you espouse in the great controversy,
Sillery or Auxerre--France or Burgundy?"

"I will stand neutral, Sire," said the Cardinal, "and replenish my cup
with Auvernat."

"A neutral has a perilous part to sustain," said the King; but as he
observed the Cardinal colour somewhat, he glided from the subject and
added, "But you prefer the Auvernat, because it is so noble a wine it
endures not water.--You, Sir Count, hesitate to empty your cup. I trust
you have found no national bitterness at the bottom."

"I would, Sire," said the Count de Crevecoeur, "that all national
quarrels could be as pleasantly ended as the rivalry betwixt our
vineyards."

"With time, Sir Count," answered the King, "with time--such time as you
have taken to your draught of Champagne.--And now that it is finished,
favour me by putting the goblet in your bosom, and keeping it as a
pledge of our regard. It is not to every one that we would part with it.
It belonged of yore to that terror of France, Henry V of England, and
was taken when Rouen was reduced, and those islanders expelled from
Normandy by the joint arms of France and Burgundy. It cannot be better
bestowed than on a noble and valiant Burgundian, who well knows that on
the union of these two nations depends the continuance of the freedom of
the continent from the English yoke."

The Count made a suitable answer, and Louis gave unrestrained way to
the satirical gaiety of disposition which sometimes enlivened the darker
shades of his character. Leading, of course, the conversation, his
remarks, always shrewd and caustic, and often actually witty, were
seldom good natured, and the anecdotes with which he illustrated them
were often more humorous than delicate; but in no one word, syllable,
or letter did he betray the state of mind of one who, apprehensive of
assassination, hath in his apartment an armed soldier with his piece
loaded, in order to prevent or anticipate an attack on his person.

The Count de Crevecoeur gave frankly in to the King's humour [the nature
of Louis XI's coarse humour may be guessed at by those who have perused
the Cent Nouvelles Nouvelles, which are grosser than most similar
collections of the age. S.]; while the smooth churchman laughed at every
jest and enhanced every ludicrous idea, without exhibiting any shame at
expressions which made the rustic young Scot blush even in his place of
concealment. In about an hour and a half the tables were drawn; and the
King, taking courteous leave of his guests, gave the signal that it was
his desire to be alone.

So soon as all, even Oliver, had retired, he called Quentin from his
place of concealment; but with a voice so faint, that the youth could
scarcely believe it to be the same which had so lately given animation
to the jest, and zest to the tale. As he approached, he saw an equal
change in his countenance. The light of assumed vivacity had left the
King's eyes, the smile had deserted his face, and he exhibited all
the fatigue of a celebrated actor, when he has finished the exhausting
representation of some favourite character, in which, while upon the
stage, he had displayed the utmost vivacity.

"Thy watch is not yet over," said he to Quentin; "refresh thyself for
an instant--yonder table affords the means; I will then instruct thee in
thy farther duty. Meanwhile it is ill talking between a full man and a
fasting."

He threw himself back on his seat, covered his brow with his hand, and
was silent.



CHAPTER XI: THE HALL OF ROLAND

     Painters show cupid blind--Hath Hymen eyes?
     Or is his sight warp'd by those spectacles
     which parents, guardians, and advisers, lent him,
     That he may look through them on lands and mansions,
     On jewels, gold, and all such rich dotations,
     And see their value ten times magnified?--
     Methinks 't will brook a question.

     THE MISERIES OF ENFORCED MARRIAGE


Louis XI of France, though the sovereign in Europe who was fondest
and most jealous of power, desired only its substantial enjoyment;
and though he knew well enough, and at times exacted strictly, the
observances due to his rank, he was in general singularly careless of
show.

In a prince of sounder moral qualities, the familiarity with which he
invited subjects to his board--nay, occasionally sat at theirs--must
have been highly popular; and even such as he was, the King's homeliness
of manners atoned for many of his vices with that class of his subjects
who were not particularly exposed to the consequences of his suspicion
and jealousy. The tiers etat, or commons of France, who rose to more
opulence and consequence under the reign of this sagacious Prince,
respected his person, though they loved him not; and it was resting on
their support that he was enabled to make his party good against the
hatred of the nobles, who conceived that he diminished the honour of the
French crown, and obscured their own splendid privileges by that very
neglect of form which gratified the citizens and commons.

With patience which most other princes would have considered as
degrading, and not without a sense of amusement, the Monarch of France
waited till his Life Guardsman had satisfied the keenness of a youthful
appetite. It may be supposed, however, that Quentin had too much sense
and prudence to put the royal patience to a long or tedious proof; and
indeed he was repeatedly desirous to break off his repast ere Louis
would permit him.

"I see it in thine eye," he said good naturedly, "that thy courage is
not half abated. Go on--God and Saint Denis!--charge again. I tell thee
that meat and mass" (crossing himself) "never hindered the work of a
good Christian man. Take a cup of wine; but mind thou be cautious of the
wine pot--it is the vice of thy countrymen as well as of the English,
who, lacking that folly, are the choicest soldiers ever wore armour. And
now wash speedily--forget not thy benedicite, and follow me."

Quentin obeyed, and, conducted by a different but as maze-like an
approach as he had formerly passed, he followed Louis into the Hall of
Roland.

"Take notice," said the King, imperatively, "thou hast never left this
post--let that be thine answer to thy kinsman and comrades--and, hark
thee, to bind the recollection on thy memory, I give thee this gold
chain" (flinging on his arm one of considerable value). "If I go not
brave myself, those whom I trust have ever the means to ruffle it with
the best. But when such chains as these bind not the tongue from wagging
too freely, my gossip, L'Hermite, hath an amulet for the throat, which
never fails to work a certain cure. And now attend.--No man, save Oliver
or I myself, enters here this evening; but ladies will come hither,
perhaps from the one extremity of the hall, perhaps from the other,
perhaps one from each. You may answer if they address you, but, being
on duty, your answer must be brief; and you must neither address them
in your turn, nor engage in any prolonged discourse. But hearken to what
they say. Thine ears as well as thy hands are mine--I have bought thee,
body and soul. Therefore, if thou hearest aught of their conversation,
thou must retain it in memory until it is communicated to me, and then
forget it. And, now I think better on it, it will be best that thou pass
for a Scottish recruit, who hath come straight down from his mountains,
and hath not yet acquired our most Christian language.--Right.--So,
if they speak to thee, thou wilt not answer--this will free you
from embarrassment, and lead them to converse without regard to your
presence. You understand me.--Farewell. Be wary, and thou hast a
friend."

The King had scarce spoken these words ere he disappeared behind the
arras, leaving Quentin to meditate on what he had seen and heard. The
youth was in one of those situations from which it is pleasanter to look
forward than to look back; for the reflection that he had been planted
like a marksman in a thicket who watches for a stag, to take the life of
the noble Count of Crevecoeur, had in it nothing ennobling. It was very
true that the King's measures seemed on this occasion merely cautionary
and defensive; but how did the youth know but he might be soon
commanded on some offensive operation of the same kind? This would be an
unpleasant crisis, since it was plain, from the character of his master,
that there would be destruction in refusing, while his honour told him
that there would be disgrace in complying. He turned his thoughts from
this subject of reflection with the sage consolation so often adopted by
youth when prospective dangers intrude themselves on their mind, that it
was time enough to think what was to be done when the emergence actually
arrived, and that sufficient for the day was the evil thereof.

Quentin made use of this sedative reflection the more easily that the
last commands of the King had given him something more agreeable to
think of than his own condition. The Lady of the Lute was certainly one
of those to whom his attention was to be dedicated; and well in his mind
did he promise to obey one part of the King's mandate, and listen with
diligence to every word that might drop from her lips that he might know
if the magic of her conversation equalled that of her music. But with
as much sincerity did he swear to himself, that no part of her discourse
should be reported by him to the King which might affect the fair
speaker otherwise than favourably.

Meantime, there was no fear of his again slumbering on his post. Each
passing breath of wind, which, finding its way through the open lattice,
waved the old arras, sounded like the approach of the fair object of
his expectation. He felt, in short, all that mysterious anxiety and
eagerness of expectation which is always the companion of love, and
sometimes hath a considerable share in creating it.

At length, a door actually creaked and jingled (for the doors even
of palaces did not in the fifteenth century turn on their hinges so
noiseless as ours); but, alas! it was not at that end of the hall from
which the lute had been heard. It opened, however, and a female figure
entered, followed by two others, whom she directed by a sign to remain
without, while she herself came forward into the hall. By her imperfect
and unequal gait, which showed to peculiar disadvantage as she traversed
this long gallery, Quentin at once recognised the Princess Joan, and
with the respect which became his situation, drew himself up in an
attitude of silent vigilance, and lowered his weapon to her as she
passed. She acknowledged the courtesy by a gracious inclination of
her head, and he had an opportunity of seeing her countenance more
distinctly than he had in the morning.

There was little in the features of this ill fated Princess to atone for
the misfortune of her shape and gait. Her face was, indeed, by no means
disagreeable in itself, though destitute of beauty; and there was a
meek impression of suffering patience in her large blue eyes, which
were commonly fixed upon the ground. But besides that she was extremely
pallid in complexion, her skin had the yellowish discoloured tinge which
accompanies habitual bad health; and though her teeth were white and
regular, her lips were thin and pale. The Princess had a profusion of
flaxen hair, but it was so light coloured as to be almost of a bluish
tinge; and her tire woman, who doubtless considered the luxuriance of
her mistress's tresses as a beauty, had not greatly improved matters by
arranging them in curls around her pale countenance, to which they added
an expression almost corpse-like and unearthly. To make matters still
worse, she had chosen a vest or cymar of a pale green silk, which gave
her, on the whole, a ghastly and even spectral appearance.

While Quentin followed this singular apparition with eyes in which
curiosity was blended with compassion, for every look and motion of the
Princess seemed to call for the latter feeling, two ladies entered from
the upper end of the apartment.

One of these was the young person who upon Louis's summons had served
him with fruit, while Quentin made his memorable breakfast at the Fleur
de Lys. Invested now with all the mysterious dignity belonging to the
nymph of the veil and lute, and proved, besides (at least in Quentin's
estimation), to be the high born heiress of a rich earldom, her beauty
made ten times the impression upon him which it had done when he
beheld in her one whom he deemed the daughter of a paltry innkeeper, in
attendance upon a rich and humorous old burgher. He now wondered what
fascination could ever have concealed from him her real character. Yet
her dress was nearly as simple as before, being a suit of deep mourning,
without any ornaments. Her headdress was but a veil of crape, which was
entirely thrown back, so as to leave her face uncovered; and it was only
Quentin's knowledge of her actual rank, which gave in his estimation new
elegance to her beautiful shape, a dignity to her step which had before
remained unnoticed, and to her regular features, brilliant complexion,
and dazzling eyes, an air of conscious nobleness that enhanced their
beauty.

Had death been the penalty, Durward must needs have rendered to this
beauty and her companion the same homage which he had just paid to the
royalty of the Princess. They received it as those who were accustomed
to the deference of inferiors, and returned it with courtesy; but he
thought--perhaps it was but a youthful vision--that the young lady
coloured slightly, kept her eyes on the ground, and seemed embarrassed
though in a trifling degree, as she returned his military salutation.
This must have been owing to her recollection of the audacious
stranger in the neighbouring turret at the Fleur de Lys; but did that
discomposure express displeasure? This question he had no means to
determine.

The companion of the youthful Countess, dressed like herself simply
and in deep mourning, was at the age when women are apt to cling
most closely to that reputation for beauty which has for years been
diminishing. She had still remains enough to show what the power of
her charms must once have been, and, remembering past triumphs, it was
evident from her manner that she had not relinquished the pretensions to
future conquests. She was tall and graceful, though somewhat haughty
in her deportment, and returned the salute of Quentin with a smile of
gracious condescension, whispering the next instant something into her
companion's ear, who turned towards the soldier as if to comply with
some hint from the elder lady, but answered, nevertheless, without
raising her eyes. Quentin could not help suspecting that the observation
called on the young lady to notice his own good mien; and he was (I do
not know why) pleased with the idea that the party referred to did not
choose to look at him, in order to verify with her own eyes the truth
of the observation. Probably he thought there was already a sort
of mysterious connexion beginning to exist between them, which gave
importance to the slightest trifle.

This reflection was momentary, for he was instantly wrapped up in
attention to the meeting of the Princess Joan with these stranger
ladies. She had stood still upon their entrance, in order to receive
them, conscious, perhaps, that motion did not become her well; and
as she was somewhat embarrassed in receiving and repaying their
compliments, the elder stranger, ignorant of the rank of the party whom
she addressed, was led to pay her salutation in a manner rather as if
she conferred than received an honour through the interview.

"I rejoice," she said, with a smile which was meant to express
condescension at once and encouragement, "that we are at length
permitted the society of such a respectable person of our own sex as
you appear to be. I must say that my niece and I have had but little for
which to thank the hospitality of King Louis.--Nay, niece, never pluck
my sleeve--I am sure I read in the looks of this young lady sympathy
for out situation.--Since we came hither, fair madam, we have been used
little better than mere prisoners; and after a thousand invitations to
throw our cause and our persons under the protection of France, the
Most Christian King has afforded us at first but a base inn for our
residence, and now a corner of this moth eaten palace, out of which we
are only permitted to creep towards sunset, as if we were bats or owls,
whose appearance in the sunshine is to be held matter of ill omen."

"I am sorry," said the Princess, faltering with the awkward
embarrassment of the interview, "that we have been unable, hitherto, to
receive you according to your deserts.--Your niece, I trust, is better
satisfied?"

"Much--much better than I can express," answered the youthful Countess.
"I sought but safety and I have found solitude and secrecy besides. The
seclusion of our former residence, and the still greater solitude of
that now assigned to us, augment, in my eye, the favour which the King
vouchsafed to us unfortunate fugitives."

"Silence, my silly cousin," said the elder lady, "and let us speak
according to our conscience, since at last we are alone with one of our
own sex--I say alone, for that handsome young soldier is a mere statue,
since he seems not to have the use of his limbs, and I am given
to understand he wants that of his tongue, at least in civilized
language--I say, since no one but this lady can understand us, I must
own there is nothing I have regretted equal to taking this French
journey. I looked for a splendid reception, tournaments, carousals,
pageants, and festivals; instead of which, all has been seclusion and
obscurity! and the best society whom the King introduced to us, was a
Bohemian vagabond, by whose agency he directed us to correspond with
our friends in Flanders.--Perhaps," said the lady, "it is his politic
intention to mew us up here until our lives' end, that he may seize on
our estates, after the extinction of the ancient house of Croye. The
Duke of Burgundy was not so cruel; he offered my niece a husband, though
he was a bad one."

"I should have thought the veil preferable to an evil husband," said the
Princess, with difficulty finding opportunity to interpose a word.

"One would at least wish to have the choice, madam," replied the voluble
dame. "It is, Heaven knows, on account of my niece that I speak; for
myself, I have long laid aside thoughts of changing my condition. I see
you smile, but by my halidome, it is true--yet that is no excuse for the
King, whose conduct, like his person, hath more resemblance to that
of old Michaud, the moneychanger of Ghent, than to the successor of
Charlemagne."

"Hold!" said the Princess, with some asperity in her tone; "remember you
speak of my father."

"Of your father!" replied the Burgundian lady, in surprise.

"Of my father," repeated the Princess, with dignity, "I am Joan of
France.--But fear not, madam," she continued, in the gentle accent which
was natural to her, "you designed no offence, and I have taken none.
Command my influence to render your exile and that of this interesting
young person more supportable. Alas! it is but little I have in my
power, but it is willingly offered."

Deep and submissive was the reverence with which the Countess Hameline
de Croye, so was the elder lady called, received the obliging offer of
the Princess's protection. She had been long the inhabitant of courts,
was mistress of the manners which are there acquired, and held firmly
the established rule of courtiers of all ages, who, although their usual
private conversation turns upon the vices and follies of their patrons,
and on the injuries and neglect which they themselves have sustained,
never suffer such hints to drop from them in the presence of the
Sovereign or those of his family. The lady was, therefore, scandalised
to the last degree at the mistake which had induced her to speak so
indecorously in presence of the daughter of Louis. She would have
exhausted herself in expressing regret and making apologies, had she
not been put to silence and restored to equanimity by the Princess,
who requested, in the most gentle manner, yet which, from a Daughter of
France, had the weight of a command, that no more might be said in the
way either of excuse or of explanation.

The Princess Joan then took her own chair with a dignity which became
her, and compelled the two strangers to sit, one on either hand, to
which the younger consented with unfeigned and respectful diffidence,
and the elder with an affectation of deep humility and deference which
was intended for such.

They spoke together, but in such a low tone that the sentinel could not
overhear their discourse, and only remarked that the Princess seemed to
bestow much of her regard on the younger and more interesting lady; and
that the Countess Hameline, though speaking a great deal more, attracted
less of the Princess's attention by her full flow of conversation and
compliment, than did her kinswoman by her brief and modest replies to
what was addressed to her.

The conversation of the ladies had not lasted a quarter of an hour, when
the door at the lower end of the hall opened, and a man entered shrouded
in a riding cloak. Mindful of the King's injunction, and determined not
to be a second time caught slumbering, Quentin instantly moved towards
the intruder, and, interposing between him and the ladies, requested him
to retire instantly.

"By whose command?" said the stranger, in a tone of contemptuous
surprise.

"By that of the King," said Quentin, firmly, "which I am placed here to
enforce."

"Not against Louis of Orleans," said the Duke, dropping his cloak.

The young man hesitated a moment; but how enforce his orders against
the first Prince of the Blood, about to be allied, as the report now
generally went, with the King's own family?

"Your Highness," he said, "is too great that your pleasure should be
withstood by me. I trust your Highness will bear me witness that I have
done the duty of my post so far as your will permitted."

"Go to--you shall have no blame, young soldier," said Orleans; and
passing forward, paid his compliments to the Princess, with that air of
constraint which always marked his courtesy when addressing her.

He had been dining, he said, with Dunois, and understanding there was
society in Roland's Gallery, he had ventured on the freedom of adding
one to the number.

The colour which mounted into the pale cheek of the unfortunate Joan,
and which for the moment spread something of beauty over her features,
evinced that this addition to the company was anything but indifferent
to her. She hastened to present the Prince to the two Ladies of Croye,
who received him with the respect due to his eminent rank; and the
Princess, pointing to a chair, requested him to join their conversation
party.

The Duke declined the freedom of assuming a seat in such society; but
taking a cushion from one of the settles, he laid it at the feet of the
beautiful young Countess of Croye, and so seated himself, that, without
appearing to neglect the Princess, he was enabled to bestow the greater
share of his attention on her lovely neighbour.

At first, it seemed as if this arrangement rather pleased than offended
his destined bride. She encouraged the Duke in his gallantries towards
the fair stranger, and seemed to regard them as complimentary to
herself. But the Duke of Orleans, though accustomed to subject his mind
to the stern yoke of his uncle when in the King's presence, had enough
of princely nature to induce him to follow his own inclinations whenever
that restraint was withdrawn; and his high rank giving him a right to
overstep the ordinary ceremonies, and advance at once to familiarity,
his praises of the Countess Isabelle's beauty became so energetic, and
flowed with such unrestrained freedom, owing perhaps to his having drunk
a little more wine than usual--for Dunois was no enemy to the worship of
Bacchus--that at length he seemed almost impassioned, and the presence
of the Princess appeared well nigh forgotten.

The tone of compliment which he indulged was grateful only to one
individual in the circle; for the Countess Hameline already anticipated
the dignity of an alliance with the first Prince of the Blood, by means
of her whose birth, beauty, and large possessions rendered such an
ambitious consummation by no means impossible, even in the eyes of a
less sanguine projector, could the views of Louis XI have been left
out of the calculation of chances. The younger Countess listened to the
Duke's gallantries with anxiety and embarrassment, and ever and anon
turned an entreating look towards the Princess, as if requesting her to
come to her relief. But the wounded feelings and the timidity of Joan of
France rendered her incapable of an effort to make the conversation more
general; and at length, excepting a few interjectional civilities of the
Lady Hameline, it was maintained almost exclusively by the Duke himself,
though at the expense of the younger Countess of Croye, whose beauty
formed the theme of his high flown eloquence.

Nor must I forget that there was a third person, the unregarded
sentinel, who saw his fair visions melt away like wax before the sun,
as the Duke persevered in the warm tenor of his passionate discourse.
At length the Countess Isabelle de Croye made a determined effort to cut
short what was becoming intolerably disagreeable to her, especially from
the pain to which the conduct of the Duke was apparently subjecting the
Princess.

Addressing the latter, she said, modestly, but with some firmness, that
the first boon she had to claim from her promised protection was, "that
her Highness would undertake to convince the Duke of Orleans that the
ladies of Burgundy, though inferior in wit and manners to those of
France, were not such absolute fools as to be pleased with no other
conversation than that of extravagant compliment."

"I grieve, lady," said the Duke, preventing the Princess's answer, "that
you will satirize, in the same sentence, the beauty of the dames of
Burgundy and the sincerity of the Knights of France. If we are hasty and
extravagant in the expression of our admiration, it is because we love
as we fight, Without letting cold deliberation come into our bosoms, and
surrender to the fair with the same rapidity with which we defeat the
valiant."

"The beauty of our countrywomen," said the young Countess, with more of
reproof than she had yet ventured to use towards the high born suitor,
"is as unfit to claim such triumphs, as the valour of the men of
Burgundy is incapable of yielding them."

"I respect your patriotism, Countess," said the Duke; "and the last
branch of your theme shall not be impugned by me, till a Burgundian
knight shall offer to sustain it with lance in rest. But for the
injustice which you have done to the charms which your land produces, I
appeal from yourself to yourself.--Look there," he said, pointing to a
large mirror, the gift of the Venetian republic, and then of the highest
rarity and value, "and tell me, as you look, what is the heart that can
resist the charms there represented?"

The Princess, unable to sustain any longer the neglect of her lover,
here sunk backwards on her chair with a sigh, which at once recalled
the Duke from the land of romance, and induced the Lady Hameline to ask
whether her Highness found herself ill.

"A sudden pain shot through my forehead," said the Princess, attempting
to smile; "but I shall be presently better."

Her increasing paleness contradicted her words, and induced the Lady
Hameline to call for assistance, as the Princess was about to faint.

The Duke, biting his lip, and cursing the folly which could not keep
guard over his tongue, ran to summon the Princess's attendants, who
were in the next chamber, and when they came hastily, with the usual
remedies, he could not but, as a cavalier and gentleman, give his
assistance to support and to recover her. His voice, rendered almost
tender by pity and self reproach, was the most powerful means of
recalling her to herself, and just as the swoon was passing away, the
King himself entered the apartment.



CHAPTER XII: THE POLITICIAN

     This is a lecturer, so skill'd in policy,
     That (no disparagement to Satan's cunning)
     He well might read a lesson to the devil,
     And teach the old seducer new temptations.

     OLD PLAY


As Louis entered the gallery, he bent his brows in the manner we have
formerly described as peculiar to him, and sent, from under his gathered
and gloomy eyebrows, a keen look on all around; in darting which,
as Quentin afterwards declared, his eyes seemed to turn so small,
so fierce, and so piercing, as to resemble those of an aroused adder
looking through the bush of heath in which he lies coiled.

When, by this momentary and sharpened glance, the King had reconnoitered
the cause of the bustle which was in the apartment, his first address
was to the Duke of Orleans.

"You here, my fair cousin?" he said;--and turning to Quentin, added
sternly, "Had you not charge?"

"Forgive the young man, Sire," said the Duke; "he did not neglect his
duty; but I was informed that the Princess was in this gallery."

"And I warrant you would not be withstood when you came hither to pay
your court," said the King, whose detestable hypocrisy persisted in
representing the Duke as participating in a passion which was felt only
on the side of his unhappy daughter; "and it is thus you debauch the
sentinels of my guard, young man?--But what cannot be pardoned to a
gallant who only lives par amours [by his love affairs]?"

The Duke of Orleans raised his head, as if about to reply in some manner
which might correct the opinion conveyed in the King's observation; but
the instinctive reverence, not to say fear, of Louis, in which he had
been bred from childhood, chained up his voice.

"And Joan hath been ill?" said the King; "but do not be grieved, Louis;
it will soon pass away; lend her your arm to her apartment, while I will
conduct these strange ladies to theirs."

The order was given in a tone which amounted to a command, and Orleans
accordingly made his exit with the Princess at one extremity of the
gallery, while the King, ungloving his right hand, courteously handed
the Countess Isabelle and her kinswoman to their apartment, which
opened from the other. He bowed profoundly as they entered, and remained
standing on the threshold for a minute after they had disappeared;
then, with great composure, shut the door by which they had retired
and turning the huge key, took it from the lock, and put it into his
girdle--an appendage which gave him still more perfectly the air of some
old miser, who cannot journey in comfort unless he bear with him the key
of his treasure closet.

With slow and pensive step, and eyes fixed on the ground, Louis now
paced towards Quentin Durward, who, expecting his share of the royal
displeasure, viewed his approach with no little anxiety.

"Thou hast done wrong," said the King, raising his eyes, and fixing them
firmly on him when he had come within a yard of him,--"thou hast done
foul wrong, and deservest to die.--Speak not a word in defence!--What
hadst thou to do with Dukes or Princesses?--what with any thing but my
order?"

"So please your Majesty," said the young soldier, "what could I do?"

"What couldst thou do when thy post was forcibly passed?" answered the
King, scornfully,--"what is the use of that weapon on thy shoulder? Thou
shouldst have levelled thy piece, and if the presumptuous rebel did
not retire on the instant, he should have died within this very hall!
Go--pass into these farther apartments. In the first thou wilt find a
large staircase, which leads to the inner Bailley; there thou wilt
find Oliver Dain [the inner bailey contained the stables and often the
chapel. It communicated directly with the keep]. Send him to me--do thou
begone to thy quarters.--As thou dost value thy life, be not so loose of
thy tongue as thou hast been this day slack of thy hand."

Well pleased to escape so easily, yet with a soul which revolted at the
cold blooded cruelty which the King seemed to require from him in the
execution of his duty, Durward took the road indicated; hastened down
stairs, and communicated the royal pleasure to Oliver, who was waiting
in the court beneath. The wily tonsor bowed, sighed, and smiled, as,
with a voice even softer than ordinary, he wished the youth a good
evening; and they parted, Quentin to his quarters, and Oliver to attend
the King.

In this place, the Memoirs which we have chiefly followed in compiling
this true history were unhappily defective; for, founded chiefly on
information supplied by Quentin, they do not convey the purport of the
dialogue which, in his absence, took place between the King and his
secret counsellor. Fortunately the Library of Hautlieu contains a
manuscript copy of the Chronique Scandaleuse of Jean de Troyes [the
Marquis de Hautlieu is the name of an imaginary character in whose
library Scott declares himself to have found the memorials which form
the basis of the novel of Quentin Durward], much more full than that
which has been printed; to which are added several curious memoranda,
which we incline to think must have been written down by Oliver himself
after the death of his master, and before he had the happiness to be
rewarded with the halter which he had so long merited. From this we
have been able to extract a very full account of the obscure favourite's
conversation with Louis upon the present occasion, which throws a light
upon the policy of that Prince, which we might otherwise have sought for
in vain.

When the favourite attendant entered the Gallery of Roland, he found the
King pensively seated upon the chair which his daughter had left some
minutes before. Well acquainted with his temper, he glided on with his
noiseless step until he had just crossed the line of the King's sight,
so as to make him aware of his presence, then shrank modestly backward
and out of sight, until he should be summoned to speak or to listen. The
Monarch's first address was an unpleasant one: "So, Oliver, your fine
schemes are melting like snow before the south wind!--I pray to Our
Lady of Embrun that they resemble not the ice heaps of which the Switzer
churls tell such stories, and come rushing down upon our heads."

"I have heard with concern that all is not well, Sire," answered Oliver.

"Not well!" exclaimed the King, rising and hastily marching up and down
the gallery. "All is ill, man--and as ill nearly as possible; so much
for thy fond romantic advice, that I, of all men, should become a
protector of distressed damsels! I tell thee Burgundy is arming, and on
the eve of closing an alliance with England. And Edward, who hath his
hands idle at home, will pour his thousands upon us through that
unhappy gate of Calais. Singly, I might cajole or defy them; but united,
united--and with the discontent and treachery of that villain Saint
Paul!--All thy fault, Oliver, who counselled me to receive the women,
and to use the services of that damned Bohemian to carry messages to
their vassals."

"My lord," said Oliver, "you know my reasons. The Countess's domains
lie between the frontiers of Burgundy and Flanders--her castle is almost
impregnable--her rights over neighbouring estates are such as, if well
supported, cannot but give much annoyance to Burgundy, were the lady but
wedded to one who should be friendly to France."

"It is, it is a tempting bait," said the King; "and could we have
concealed her being here, we might have arranged such a marriage for
this rich heiress as would have highly profited--France. But that
cursed Bohemian, how couldst thou recommend such a heathen hound for a
commission which required trust?"

"Please you," said Oliver, "to remember it was your Grace's self who
trusted him too far--much farther than I recommended. He would have
borne a letter trustily enough to the Countess's kinsman, telling him to
hold out her castle, and promising speedy relief; but your Highness must
needs put his prophetic powers to the test; and thus he became possessed
of secrets which were worth betraying to Duke Charles."

"I am ashamed, I am ashamed," said Louis. "And yet, Oliver, they say
that these heathen people are descended from the sage Chaldeans, who
did read the mysteries of the stars in the plains of Shinar [they lie
between the Tigris and Euphrates]."

Well aware that his master, with all his acuteness and sagacity, was but
the more prone to be deceived by soothsayers, astrologers, diviners,
and all that race of pretenders to occult science, and that he even
conceived himself to have some skill in these arts. Oliver dared to
press this point no farther; and only observed that the Bohemian had
been a bad prophet on his own account, else he would have avoided
returning to Tours, and saved himself from the gallows he had merited.

"It often happens that those who are gifted with prophetic knowledge,"
answered Louis, with much gravity, "have not the power of foreseeing
those events in which they themselves are personally interested."

"Under your Majesty's favour," replied the confidant, "that seems as if
a man could not see his own hand by means of the candle which he holds,
and which shows him every other object in the apartment."

"He cannot see his own features by the light which shows the faces of
others," replied Louis; "and that is the more faithful illustration of
the case.--But this is foreign to my purpose at present. The Bohemian
hath had his reward, and peace be with him.--But these ladies!--Not
only does Burgundy threaten us with war for harbouring them, but their
presence is like to interfere with my projects in my own family. My
simple cousin of Orleans hath barely seen this damsel, and I venture to
prophesy that the sight of her is like to make him less pliable in the
matter of his alliance with Joan."

"Your Majesty," answered the counsellor, "may send these ladies of
Croye back to Burgundy, and so make your peace with the Duke. Many
might murmur at this as dishonourable; but if necessity demands the
sacrifice--"

"If profit demanded the sacrifice, Oliver, the sacrifice should be
made without hesitation," answered the King. "I am an old, experienced
salmon, and use not to gulp the angler's hook because it is busked up
with a feather called honour. But what is worse than a lack of honour,
there were, in returning those ladies to Burgundy, a forfeiture of those
views of advantage which moved us to give them an asylum. It were heart
breaking to renounce the opportunity of planting a friend to ourselves,
and an enemy to Burgundy, in the very centre of his dominions, and so
near to the discontented cities of Flanders. Oliver, I cannot relinquish
the advantages which our scheme of marrying the maiden to a friend of
our own house seems to hold out to us."

"Your Majesty," said Oliver, after a moment's thought, "might confer her
hand on some right trusty friend, who would take all blame on himself,
and serve your Majesty secretly, while in public you might disown him."

"And where am I to find such a friend?" said Louis. "Were I to bestow
her upon any one of our mutinous and ill ruled nobles, would it not be
rendering him independent? and hath it not been my policy for years
to prevent them from becoming so?--Dunois indeed--him, and him only, I
might perchance trust.--He would fight for the crown of France, whatever
were his condition. But honours and wealth change men's natures.--Even
Dunois I will not trust."

"Your Majesty may find others," said Oliver, in his smoothest manner,
and in a tone more insinuating than that which he usually employed in
conversing with the King, who permitted him considerable freedom; "men
dependent entirely on your own grace and favour, and who could no more
exist without your countenance than without sun or air--men rather of
head than of action--men who"

"Men who resemble thyself, ha!" said King Louis. "No, Oliver, by my
faith that arrow was too rashly shot!--What! because I indulge thee with
my confidence, and let thee, in reward, poll my lieges a little now
and then, dost thou think it makes thee fit to be the husband of that
beautiful vision, and a Count of the highest class to boot?--thee--thee,
I say, low born, and lower bred, whose wisdom is at best a sort of
dinning, and whose courage is more than doubtful."

"Your Majesty imputes to me a presumption of which I am not guilty, in
supposing me to aspire so highly," said Oliver.

"I am glad to hear it, man," said the King; "and truly, I hold your
judgment the healthier that you disown such a reverie. But methinks thy
speech sounded strangely in that key.--Well, to return.--I dare not wed
this beauty to one of my subjects--I dare not return her to Burgundy--I
dare not transmit her to England or to Germany, where she is likely to
become the prize of some one more apt to unite with Burgundy than with
France, and who would be more ready to discourage the honest malcontents
in Ghent and Liege, than to yield them that wholesome countenance which
might always find Charles the Hardy enough to exercise his valour on,
without stirring from his domains--and they were in so ripe a humour for
insurrection, the men of Liege in especial, that they alone, well
heated and supported, would find my fair cousin work for more than a
twelvemonth; and backed by a warlike Count of Croye--O, Oliver! the plan
is too hopeful to be resigned without a struggle.--Cannot thy fertile
brain devise some scheme?"

Oliver paused for a long time--then at last replied, "What if a bridal
could be accomplished betwixt Isabelle of Croye and young Adolphus, the
Duke of Gueldres?"

"What!" said the King, in astonishment "sacrifice her, and she, too, so
lovely a creature, to the furious wretch who deposed, imprisoned, and
has often threatened to murder his own father!--No, Oliver, no that were
too unutterably cruel even for you and me, who look so steadfastly to
our excellent end, the peace and the welfare of France, and respect so
little the means by which it is attained. Besides, he lies distant from
us and is detested by the people of Ghent and Liege.--No, no--I will
none of Adolphus of Gueldres--think on some one else."

"My invention is exhausted, Sire," said the counsellor; "I can remember
no one who, as husband to the Countess of Croye, would be likely to
answer your Majesty's views. He must unite such various qualities--a
friend to your Majesty--an enemy to Burgundy--of policy enough to
conciliate the Ghentois and Liegeois, and of valour sufficient to defend
his little dominions against the power of Duke Charles--of noble birth
besides--that your Highness insists upon; and of excellent and virtuous
character to the boot of all."

"Nay, Oliver," said the King, "I leaned not so much--that is so very
much, on character; but methinks Isabelle's bridegroom should be
something less publicly and generally abhorred than Adolphus of
Gueldres. For example, since I myself must suggest some one--why not
William de la Marck?"

"On my halidome, Sire," said Oliver, "I cannot complain of your
demanding too high a standard of moral excellence in the happy man, if
the Wild Boar of Ardennes can serve your turn. De la Marck!--why,
he is the most notorious robber and murderer on all the
frontiers--excommunicated by the Pope for a thousand crimes."

"We will have him released from the sentence, friend Oliver--Holy Church
is merciful."

"Almost an outlaw," continued Oliver, "and under the ban of the Empire,
by an ordinance of the Chamber at Ratisbon."

[Ratisbon was the seat of the German Reichstag from 1663 to 1806.]

"We will have the ban taken off, friend Oliver," continued the King, in
the same tone; "the Imperial Chamber will hear reason."

[A supreme court of appeals established in 1495 by Maximilian I: the
first law court established in Germany.]

"And admitting him to be of noble birth," said Oliver, "he hath the
manners, the face, and the outward form, as well as the heart, of a
Flemish butcher--she will never accept of him."

"His mode of wooing, if I mistake him not," said Louis, "will render it
difficult for her to make a choice."

"I was far wrong indeed, when I taxed your Majesty with being over
scrupulous," said the counsellor. "On my life, the crimes of Adolphus
are but virtues to those of De la Marck!--And then how is he to meet
with his bride? Your Majesty knows he dare not stir far from his own
forest of Ardennes."

"That must be cared for," said the King; "and, in the first place,
the two ladies must be acquainted privately that they can be no longer
maintained at this Court, except at the expense of a war between France
and Burgundy, and that, unwilling to deliver them up to my fair
cousin of Burgundy, I am desirous they should secretly depart from my
dominions."

"They will demand to be conveyed to England," said Oliver "and we shall
have her return to Flanders with an island lord, having a round, fair
face, long brown hair, and three thousand archers at his back."

"No--no," replied the king; "we dare not (you understand me) so far
offend our fair cousin of Burgundy as to let her pass to England. It
would bring his displeasure as certainly as our maintaining her here.
No, no--to the safety of the Church alone we will venture to commit
her; and the utmost we can do is to connive at the Ladies Hameline and
Isabelle de Croye departing in disguise, and with a small retinue, to
take refuge with the Bishop of Liege, who will place the fair Isabelle
for the time under the safeguard of a convent."

"And if that convent protect her from William de la Marck, when he knows
of your Majesty's favourable intentions, I have mistaken the man."

"Why, yes," answered the King, "thanks to our secret supplies of money,
De la Marck hath together a handsome handful of as unscrupulous soldiery
as ever were outlawed; with which he contrives to maintain himself among
the woods, in such a condition as makes him formidable both to the Duke
of Burgundy and the Bishop of Liege. He lacks nothing but some territory
which he may call his own; and this being so fair an opportunity to
establish himself by marriage, I think that, Pasques dieu! he will find
means to win and wed, without more than a hint on our part. The Duke
of Burgundy will then have such a thorn in his side as no lancet of our
time will easily cut out from his flesh. The Boar of Ardennes, whom he
has already outlawed, strengthened by the possession of that fair lady's
lands, castles, and seigniory, with the discontented Liegeois to boot,
who, by may faith, will not be in that case unwilling to choose him for
their captain and leader--let Charles then think of wars with France
when he will, or rather let him bless his stars if she war not with
him.--How dost thou like the scheme, Oliver, ha?"

"Rarely," said Oliver, "save and except the doom which confers that
lady on the Wild Boar of Ardennes.--By my halidome, saving in a little
outward show of gallantry, Tristan, the Provost Marshal, were the more
proper bridegroom of the two."

"Anon thou didst propose Master Oliver the barber," said Louis; "but
friend Oliver and gossip Tristan, though excellent men in the way of
counsel and execution, are not the stuff that men make counts of.--Know
you not that the burghers of Flanders value birth in other men precisely
because they have it not themselves?--A plebeian mob ever desire an
aristocratic leader. Yonder Ked, or Cade, or--how called they him?--in
England, was fain to lure his rascal rout after him by pretending to the
blood of the Mortimers [Jack Cade was the leader of Cade's Rebellion.
Calling himself Mortimer, and claiming to be a cousin of Richard, Duke
of York, in 1450, at the head of twenty thousand men, he took formal
possession of London. His alleged object was to procure representation
for the people, and so reduce excessive taxation.]. William de la Marck
comes of the blood of the Princes of Sedan, as noble as mine own.--And
now to business. I must determine the ladies of Croye to a speedy and
secret flight, under sure guidance. This will be easily done--we have
but to hint the alternative of surrendering them to Burgundy. Thou must
find means to let William de la Marck know of their motions, and let him
choose his own time and place to push his suit. I know a fit person to
travel with them."

"May I ask to whom your Majesty commits such an important charge?" asked
the tonsor.

"To a foreigner, be sure," replied the King, "one who has neither kin
nor interest in France, to interfere with the execution of my pleasure;
and who knows too little of the country and its factions, to suspect
more of my purpose than I choose to tell him--in a word, I design to
employ the young Scot who sent you hither but now."

Oliver paused in a manner which seemed to imply a doubt of the prudence
of the choice, and then added, "Your Majesty has reposed confidence in
that stranger boy earlier than is your wont."

"I have my reasons," answered the King. "Thou knowest" (and he crossed
himself) "my devotion for the blessed Saint Julian. I had been saying my
orisons to that holy Saint late in the night before last, wherein (as he
is known to be the guardian of travellers) I made it my humble petition
that he would augment my household with such wandering foreigners as
might best establish throughout our kingdom unlimited devotion to our
will; and I vowed to the good Saint in guerdon, that I would, in his
name, receive, and relieve; and maintain them."

"And did Saint Julian," said Oliver, "send your Majesty this long legged
importation from Scotland in answer to your prayers?"

Although the barber, who well knew that his master had superstition in
a large proportion to his want of religion, and that on such topics
nothing was more easy than to offend him--although, I say, he knew the
royal weakness, and therefore carefully put the preceding question in
the softest and most simple tone of voice, Louis felt the innuendo which
it contained, and regarded the speaker with high displeasure.

"Sirrah," he said, "thou art well called Oliver the Devil, who darest
thus to sport at once with thy master and with the blessed Saints. I
tell thee, wert thou one grain less necessary to me, I would have thee
hung up on yonder oak before the Castle, as an example to all who scoff
at things holy--Know, thou infidel slave, that mine eyes were no sooner
closed; than the blessed Saint Julian was visible to me, leading a young
man whom he presented to me, saying that his fortune should be to escape
the sword, the cord, the river, and to bring good fortune to the side
which he should espouse, and to the adventures in which he should be
engaged. I walked out on the succeeding morning and I met with this
youth, whose image I had seen in my dream. In his own country he hath
escaped the sword, amid the massacre of his whole family, and here
within the brief compass of two days, he hath been strangely rescued
from drowning and from the gallows, and hath already, on a particular
occasion, as I but lately hinted to thee, been of the most material
service to me. I receive him as sent hither by Saint Julian to serve me
in the most difficult, the most dangerous, and even the most desperate
services."

The King, as he thus expressed himself, doffed his hat, and selecting
from the numerous little leaden figures with which the hat band was
garnished that which represented Saint Julian, he placed it on the
table, as was often his wont when some peculiar feeling of hope, or
perhaps of remorse, happened to thrill across his mind, and, kneeling
down before it, muttered, with an appearance of profound devotion,
"Sancte Juliane, adsis precibus nostris! Ora, ora, pro nobis! [St.
Julian, give heed to our prayers. Plead, plead for us!]"

This was one of those ague fits of superstitious devotion which often
seized on Louis in such extraordinary times and places, that they gave
one of the most sagacious monarchs who ever reigned the appearance of
a madman, or at least of one whose mind was shaken by some deep
consciousness of guilt.

While he was thus employed, his favourite looked at him with an
expression of sarcastic contempt which he scarce attempted to disguise.
Indeed, it was one of this man's peculiarities, that in his whole
intercourse with his master, he laid aside that fondling, purring
affectation of officiousness and humility which distinguished his
conduct to others; and if he still bore some resemblance to a cat, it
was when the animal is on its guard,--watchful, animated, and alert
for sudden exertion. The cause of this change was probably Oliver's
consciousness that his Master was himself too profound a hypocrite not
to see through the hypocrisy of others.

"The features of this youth, then, if I may presume to speak," said
Oliver, "resemble those of him whom your dream exhibited?"

"Closely and intimately," said the King, whose imagination, like that
of superstitious people in general, readily imposed upon itself. "I
have had his horoscope cast, besides, by Galeotti Martivalle, and I have
plainly learned, through his art and mine own observation, that, in
many respects, this unfriended youth has his destiny under the same
constellation with mine."

Whatever Oliver might think of the causes thus boldly assigned for
the preference of an inexperienced stripling, he dared make no farther
objections, well knowing that Louis, who, while residing in exile,
had bestowed much of his attention on the supposed science of judicial
astrology, would listen to no raillery of any kind which impeached his
skill. He therefore only replied that he trusted the youth would prove
faithful in the discharge of a task so delicate.

"We will take care he hath no opportunity to be otherwise," said Louis;
"for he shall be privy to nothing, save that he is sent to escort the
Ladies of Croye to the residence of the Bishop of Liege. Of the probable
interference of William de la Marck he shall know as little as they
themselves. None shall know that secret but the guide; and Tristan or
thou must find one fit for our purpose."

"But in that case," said Oliver, "judging of him from his country and
his appearance, the young man is like to stand to his arms as soon as
the Wild Boar comes on them, and may not come off so easily from the
tusks as he did this morning."

"If they rend his heart strings," said Louis, composedly, "Saint Julian,
blessed be his name! can send me another in his stead. It skills as
little that the messenger is slain after his duty is executed, as that
the flask is broken when the wine is drunk out.--Meanwhile, we
must expedite the ladies' departure, and then persuade the Count de
Crevecoeur that it has taken place without our connivance; we having
been desirous to restore them to the custody of our fair cousin, which
their sudden departure has unhappily prevented."

"The Count is perhaps too wise, and his master too prejudiced, to
believe it."

"Holy Mother!" said Louis, "what unbelief would that be in Christian
men! But, Oliver, they shall believe us. We will throw into our whole
conduct towards our fair cousin, Duke Charles, such thorough and
unlimited confidence, that, not to believe we have been sincere with
him in every respect, he must be worse than an infidel. I tell thee,
so convinced am I that I could make Charles of Burgundy think of me in
every respect as I would have him, that, were it necessary for silencing
his doubts, I would ride unarmed, and on a palfrey, to visit him in his
tent, with no better guard about me than thine own simple person, friend
Oliver."

"And I," said Oliver, "though I pique not myself upon managing steel
in any other shape than that of a razor, would rather charge a Swiss
battalion of pikes, than I would accompany your Highness upon such a
visit of friendship to Charles of Burgundy, when he hath so many grounds
to be well assured that there is enmity in your Majesty's bosom against
him."

"Thou art a fool, Oliver," said the King, "with all thy pretensions
to wisdom--and art not aware that deep policy must often assume the
appearance of the most extreme simplicity, as courage occasionally
shrouds itself under the show of modest timidity. Were it needful,
full surely would I do what I have said--the Saints always blessing our
purpose, and the heavenly constellations bringing round in their course
a proper conjuncture for such an exploit."

In these words did King Louis XI give the first hint of the
extraordinary resolution which he afterwards adopted in order to dupe
his great rival, the subsequent execution of which had very nearly
proved his own ruin.

He parted with his counsellor, and presently afterwards went to the
apartment of the Ladies of Croye. Few persuasions beyond his mere
license would have been necessary to determine their retreat from the
Court of France, upon the first hint that they might not be eventually
protected against the Duke of Burgundy; but it was not so easy to induce
them to choose Liege for the place of their retreat. They entreated
and requested to be transferred to Bretagne or Calais, where, under
protection of the Duke of Bretagne or King of England, they might remain
in a state of safety, until the sovereign of Burgundy should relent in
his rigorous purpose towards them. But neither of these places of safety
at all suited the plans of Louis, and he was at last successful in
inducing them to adopt that which did coincide with them.

The power of the Bishop of Liege for their defence was not to be
questioned, since his ecclesiastical dignity gave him the means of
protecting the fugitives against all Christian Princes; while, on
the other hand, his secular forces, if not numerous, seemed at least
sufficient to defend his person, and all under his protection, from any
sudden violence. The difficulty was to reach the little Court of the
Bishop in safety; but for this Louis promised to provide, by spreading
a report that the Ladies of Croye had escaped from Tours by night, under
fear of being delivered up to the Burgundian Envoy, and had taken their
flight towards Bretagne. He also promised them the attendance of a small
but faithful retinue, and letters to the commanders of such towns and
fortresses as they might pass, with instructions to use every means for
protecting and assisting them in their journey.

The Ladies of Croye, although internally resenting the ungenerous and
discourteous manner in which Louis thus deprived them of the promised
asylum in his Court, were so far from objecting to the hasty departure
which he proposed, that they even anticipated his project, by entreating
to be permitted to set forward that same night. The Lady Hameline was
already tired of a place where there were neither admiring courtiers,
nor festivities to be witnessed; and the Lady Isabelle thought she had
seen enough to conclude that, were the temptation to become a little
stronger, Louis XI, not satisfied with expelling them from his Court,
would not hesitate to deliver her up to her irritated Suzerain, the Duke
of Burgundy. Lastly, Louis himself readily acquiesced in their hasty
departure, anxious to preserve peace with Duke Charles, and alarmed lest
the beauty of Isabelle should interfere with and impede the favourite
plan which he had formed for bestowing the hand of his daughter Joan
upon his cousin of Orleans.



CHAPTER XIII: THE JOURNEY

     Talk not of kings--I scorn the poor comparison;
     I am a sage and can command the elements--
     At least men think I can; and on that thought
     I found unbounded empire.

     ALBUMAZAR


Occupation and adventure might be said to crowd upon the young
Scottishman with the force of a spring tide; for he was speedily
summoned to the apartment of his Captain, the Lord Crawford, where, to
his astonishment, he again beheld the King. After a few words respecting
the honour and trust which were about to be reposed in him, which made
Quentin internally afraid that they were again about to propose to him
such a watch as he had kept upon the Count of Crevecoeur, or perhaps
some duty still more repugnant to his feelings, he was not relieved
merely, but delighted, with hearing that he was selected, with the
assistance of four others under his command, one of whom was a guide,
to escort the Ladies of Croye to the little Court of their relative,
the Bishop of Liege, in the safest and most commodious, and, at the same
time, in the most secret manner possible. A scroll was given him, in
which were set down directions for his guidance, for the places of
halt (generally chosen in obscure villages, solitary monasteries, and
situations remote from towns), and for the general precautions which he
was to attend to, especially on approaching the frontier of Burgundy. He
was sufficiently supplied with instructions what he ought to say and do
to sustain the personage of the Maitre d'Hotel of two English ladies of
rank, who had been on a pilgrimage to Saint Martin of Tours, and were
about to visit the holy city of Cologne, and worship the relics of the
sage Eastern Monarchs, who came to adore the nativity of Bethlehem [the
relics of the three kings, or Magi, were placed in the Cathedral of
Cologne in 1162]; for under that character the Ladies of Croye were to
journey.

Without having any defined notions of the cause of his delight, Quentin
Durward's heart leapt for joy at the idea of approaching thus nearly
to the person of the Beauty of the Turret, and in a situation which
entitled him to her confidence, since her protection was in so great a
degree intrusted to his conduct and courage. He felt no doubt in his own
mind that he should be her successful guide through the hazards of
her pilgrimage. Youth seldom thinks of dangers, and bred up free, and
fearless, and self confiding, Quentin, in particular, only thought of
them to defy them. He longed to be exempted from the restraint of the
Royal presence, that he might indulge the secret glee with which such
unexpected tidings filled him, and which prompted him to bursts of
delight which would have been totally unfitting for that society.

But Louis had not yet done with him. That cautious monarch had to
consult a counsellor of a different stamp from Oliver le Diable, who was
supposed to derive his skill from the superior and astral intelligences,
as men, judging from their fruits, were apt to think the counsels of
Oliver sprang from the Devil himself.

Louis therefore led the way, followed by the impatient Quentin, to a
separate tower of the castle of Plessis, in which was installed, in
no small ease and splendour; the celebrated astrologer, poet, and
philosopher, Galeotti Marti, or Martius, or Martivalle, a native of
Narni, in Italy, the author of the famous Treatise De Vulgo Incognitis
[concerning things unknown to the generality of mankind. S.], and the
subject of his age's admiration, and of the panegyrics of Paulus Jovius
[an Italian historian of the sixteenth century who lived at the Pope's
court]. He had long flourished at the court of the celebrated Matthias
Corvinus, King of Hungary, from whom he was in some measure decoyed by
Louis, who grudged the Hungarian monarch the society and the counsels of
a sage accounted so skilful in reading the decrees of Heaven.

[Martius Galeotti... was secretary to Matthias Carvinus, King of
Hungary. He left Hungary in 1477, and was made prisoner at Venice on
a charge of having propagated heterodox opinions.... He might have
suffered seriously but for the protection of Sixtus IV, then Pope, who
had been one of his scholars.... He attached himself to Louis XI, and
died in his service. S.]

Martivalle was none of those ascetic, withered, pale professors of
mystic learning of those days, who bleared their eyes over the midnight
furnace, and macerated their bodies by out watching the Polar Bear.
He indulged in all courtly pleasures, and until he grew corpulent, had
excelled in all martial sports and gymnastic exercises, as well as in
the use of arms; insomuch, that Janus Pannonius [a Hungarian poet of
the fifteenth century] has left a Latin epigram upon a wrestling match
betwixt Galeotti and a renowned champion of that art, in the presence
of the Hungarian King and Court, in which the Astrologer was completely
victorious.

The apartments of this courtly and martial sage were far more splendidly
furnished than any which Quentin had yet seen in the royal palace;
and the carving and ornamented woodwork of his library, as well as the
magnificence displayed in the tapestries, showed the elegant taste of
the learned Italian. Out of his study one door opened to his sleeping
apartment, another led to the turret which served as his observatory. A
large open table, in the midst of the chamber, was covered with a rich
Turkey carpet, the spoils of the tent of a Pacha, after the great battle
of Jaiza, where the Astrologer had fought abreast with the valiant
champion of Christendom, Matthias Corvinus. On the table lay a variety
of mathematical and astrological instruments, all of the most rich
materials and curious workmanship. His astrolabe of silver was the gift
of the Emperor of Germany, and his Jacob's staff of ebony [a divining
rod made of a hazel fork], jointed with gold and curiously inlaid, was a
mark of esteem from the reigning Pope.

There were various other miscellaneous articles disposed on the table,
or hanging around the walls; amongst others, two complete suits of
armour, one of mail, the other of plate, both of which, from their great
size, seemed to call the gigantic Astrologer their owner; a Spanish
toledo, a Scottish broadsword, a Turkish scymetar, with bows, quivers,
and other warlike weapons; musical instruments of several different
kinds; a silver crucifix, a sepulchral antique vase, and several of
the little brazen Penates of the ancient heathens, with other curious
nondescript articles, some of which, in the superstitious opinions of
that period, seemed to be designed for magical purposes. The library of
this singular character was of the same miscellaneous description
with its other effects. Curious manuscripts of classical antiquity lay
mingled with the voluminous labours of Christian divines, and of those
painstaking sages who professed the chemical science, and proffered to
guide their students into the most secret recesses of nature, by means
of the Hermetical Philosophy [a system of philosophy ascribed to the
Egyptian Hermes (Thoth) who was reputed to have written certain sacred
books treating of religion and the natural sciences]. Some were written
in the Eastern character, and others concealed their sense or nonsense
under the veil of hieroglyphics and cabalistic characters. The
whole apartment and its furniture of every kind, formed a scene
very impressive on the fancy, considering the general belief then
indisputably entertained concerning the truth of the occult sciences;
and that effect was increased by the manners and appearance of the
individual himself, who, seated in a huge chair, was employed in
curiously examining a specimen, just issued from the Frankfort press, of
the newly invented art of printing.

Galeotti Martivalle was a tall, bulky, yet stately man, considerably
past his prime, and whose youthful habits of exercise, though still
occasionally resumed, had not been able to contend with his natural
tendency to corpulence, increased by sedentary study, and indulgence in
the pleasures of the table. His features, though rather overgrown,
were dignified and noble, and a Santon might have envied the dark and
downward sweep of his long descending beard. His dress was a chamber
robe of the richest Genoa velvet, with ample sleeves, clasped with frogs
of gold, and lined with sables. It was fastened round his middle by a
broad belt of virgin parchment, round which were represented, in crimson
characters, the signs of the Zodiac. He rose and bowed to the King, yet
with the air of one to whom such exalted society was familiar, and who
was not at all likely, even in the royal presence, to compromise the
dignity then especially affected by the pursuers of science.

"You are engaged, father," said the King, "and, as I think, with this
new fashioned art of multiplying manuscripts by the intervention of
machinery. Can things of such mechanical and terrestrial import interest
the thoughts of one before whom Heaven has unrolled her own celestial
volumes?"

"My brother," replied Martivalle, "for so the tenant of this cell
must term even the King of France, when he deigns to visit him as
a disciple--believe me that in considering the consequences of this
invention, I read with as certain augury as by any combination of the
heavenly bodies, the most awful and portentous changes. When I reflect
with what slow and limited supplies the stream of science hath hitherto
descended to us, how difficult to be obtained by those most ardent in
its search, how certain to be neglected by all who regard their ease;
how liable to be diverted, altogether dried up, by the invasions of
barbarism; can I look forward without wonder and astonishment to the lot
of a succeeding generation on whom knowledge will descend like the first
and second rain, uninterrupted, unabated, unbounded; fertilizing some
grounds, and overflowing others; changing the whole form of social
life; establishing and overthrowing religions; erecting and destroying
kingdoms."

"Hold, Galeotti," said Louis, "shall these changes come in our time?"

"No, my royal brother," replied Martivalle; "this invention may be
likened to a young tree, which is now newly planted, but shall, in
succeeding generations, bear fruit as fatal, yet as precious, as that of
the Garden of Eden; the knowledge, namely, of good and evil."

Louis answered, after a moment's pause, "Let futurity look to what
concerns them--we are men of this age, and to this age we will confine
our care. Sufficient for the day is the evil thereof.

"Tell me, hast thou proceeded farther in the horoscope Which I sent to
thee, and of which you made me some report? I have brought the party
hither, that you may use palmistry, or chiromancy if such is your
pleasure. The matter is pressing."

The bulky sage arose from his seat, and, approaching the young soldier,
fixed on him his keen large dark eyes as if he were in the act of
internally spelling and dissecting every lineament and feature.

Blushing and borne down by this close examination on the part of one
whose expression was so reverend at once and commanding, Quentin bent
his eyes on the ground, and did not again raise them, till in the act
of obeying the sonorous command of the Astrologer, "Look up and be not
afraid, but hold forth thy hand."

When Martivalle had inspected his palm, according to the form of the
mystic arts which he practised, he led the King some steps aside.

"My royal brother," he said, "the physiognomy of this youth, together
with the lines impressed on his hand, confirm, in a wonderful degree,
the report which I founded on his horoscope, as well as that judgment
which your own proficiency in our sublime arts induced you at once to
form of him. All promises that this youth will be brave and fortunate."

"And faithful?" said the King; "for valour and fortune square not always
with fidelity."

"And faithful also," said the Astrologer; "for there is manly firmness
in look and eye, and his linea vitae [the line of life, a term used
in palmistry] is deeply marked and clear, which indicates a true and
upright adherence to those who do benefit or lodge trust in him. But
yet--"

"But what?" said the King; "Father Galeotti, wherefore do you now
pause?"

"The ears of Kings," said the sage, "are like the palates of those
dainty patients which are unable to endure the bitterness of the drugs
necessary for their recovery."

"My ears and my palate have no such niceness," said Louis; "let me
hear what is useful counsel, and swallow what is wholesome medicine.
I quarrel not with the rudeness of the one, or the harsh taste of the
other. I have not been cockered in wantonness or indulgence; my youth
was one of exile and suffering. My ears are used to harsh counsel, and
take no offence at it."

"Then plainly, Sire," replied Galeotti, "if you have aught in your
purposed commission which--which, in short, may startle a scrupulous
conscience--intrust it not to this youth, at least, not till a few
years' exercise in your service has made him as unscrupulous as others."

"And is this what you hesitated to speak, my good Galeotti? and didst
thou think thy speaking it would offend me?" said the King. "Alack, I
know that thou art well sensible that the path of royal policy cannot be
always squared (as that of private life ought invariably to be) by
the abstract maxims of religion and of morality. Wherefore do we, the
Princes of the earth, found churches and monasteries, make pilgrimages,
undergo penances, and perform devotions with which others may dispense,
unless it be because the benefit of the public, and the welfare of
our kingdoms, force us upon measures which grieve our consciences as
Christians? But Heaven has mercy, the Church, an unbounded stock of
merits and the intercession of Our Lady of Embrun and the blessed
saints, is urgent, everlasting, and omnipotent."

He laid his hat on the table, and devoutly kneeling before the images
stuck into the hat band, repeated in an earnest tone, "Sancte Huberte,
Sancte Juliane, Sancte Martine, Sancta Rosalia, Sancti quotquot adestis,
orate pro me peccatore!" [St. Hubert, St. Julian, St. Martin, St.
Rosalia, all ye saints who hear me, pray for me, a sinner.] He then
smote his breast, arose, reassumed his hat, and continued: "Be assured,
good father, that whatever there may be in our commission of the nature
at which you have hinted, the execution shall not be intrusted to this
youth, nor shall he be privy to such part of our purpose."

"In this," said the Astrologer, "you, my royal brother, will walk
wisely.--Something may be apprehended likewise from the rashness of
this your young commissioner, a failing inherent in those of sanguine
complexion. But I hold that, by the rules of art, this chance is not to
be weighed against the other properties discovered from his horoscope
and otherwise."

"Will this next midnight be a propitious hour in which to commence a
perilous journey?" said the King. "See, here is your Ephemerides--you
see the position of the moon in regard to Saturn, and the ascendence of
Jupiter.--That should argue, methinks, in submission to your better art,
success to him who sends forth the expedition at such an hour."

"To him who sends forth the expedition," said the Astrologer, after a
pause, "this conjunction doth indeed promise success; but, methinks,
that Saturn, being combust, threatens danger and infortune to the party
sent; whence I infer that the errand may be perilous, or even fatal
to those who are to journey. Violence and captivity, methinks, are
intimated in that adverse conjunction."

"Violence and captivity to those who are sent," answered the King,
"but success to the wishes of the sender.--Runs it not thus, my learned
father?"

"Even so," replied the Astrologer.

The King paused, without giving any farther indication how far
this presaging speech (probably hazarded by the Astrologer from his
conjecture that the commission related to some dangerous purpose)
squared with his real object, which, as the reader is aware, was to
betray the Countess Isabelle of Croye into the hands of William de la
Marck, a nobleman indeed of high birth, but degraded by his crimes into
a leader of banditti, distinguished for his turbulent disposition and
ferocious bravery.

The King then pulled forth a paper from his pocket, and, ere he gave
it to Martivalle, said, in a tone which resembled that of an apology,
"Learned Galeotti, be not surprised that, possessing in you an oracular
treasure, superior to that lodged in the breast of any now alive, not
excepting the great Nostradamus himself [a French astrologer of the
sixteenth century, author of a book of prophecies, which was condemned
by the papal court in 1781], I am desirous frequently to avail myself of
your skill in those doubts and difficulties which beset every Prince
who hath to contend with rebellion within his land, and with external
enemies, both powerful and inveterate."

"When I was honoured with your request, Sire," said the philosopher,
"and abandoned the Court of Buda for that of Plessis, it was with the
resolution to place at the command of my royal patron whatever my art
had, that might be of service to him."

"Enough, good Martivalle--I pray thee attend to the import of this
question."

He proceeded to read from the paper in his hand: "A person having on
hand a weighty controversy, which is like to draw to debate either
by law or by force of arms, is desirous, for the present, to seek
accommodation by a personal interview with his antagonist. He desires
to know what day will be propitious for the execution of such a purpose;
also what is likely to be the success of such a negotiation, and whether
his adversary will be moved to answer the confidence thus reposed in
him, with gratitude and kindness, or may rather be likely to abuse the
opportunity and advantage which such meeting may afford him."

"It is an important question," said Martivalle, when the King had done
reading, "and requires that I should set a planetary figure [to prepare
a diagram which would represent the heavens at that particular moment],
and give it instant and deep consideration."

"Let it be so, my good father in the sciences, and thou shalt know
what it is to oblige a King of France. We are determined, if the
constellations forbid not--and our own humble art leads us to think that
they approve our purpose--to hazard something, even in our own person,
to stop these anti-Christian wars."

"May the Saints forward your Majesty's pious intent," said the
Astrologer, "and guard your sacred person."

"Thanks, learned father. Here is something, the while, to enlarge your
curious library."

He placed under one of the volumes a small purse of gold; for,
economical even in his superstitions, Louis conceived the Astrologer
sufficiently bound to his service by the pensions he had assigned him,
and thought himself entitled to the use of his skill at a moderate rate,
even upon great exigencies.

Louis, having thus, in legal phrase, added a refreshing fee to his
general retainer, turned from him to address Durward.

"Follow me," he said, "my bonny Scot, as one chosen by Destiny and a
Monarch to accomplish a bold adventure. All must be got ready, that thou
mayest put foot in stirrup the very instant the bell of Saint Martin's
tolls twelve. One minute sooner, one minute later, were to forfeit the
favourable aspect of the constellations which smile on your adventure."

Thus saying, the King left the apartment, followed by his young
guardsman; and no sooner were they gone than the Astrologer gave way to
very different feelings from those which seemed to animate him during
the royal presence.

"The niggardly slave!" he said, weighing the purse in his hand--for,
being a man of unbounded expense, he had almost constant occasion for
money--"The base, sordid scullion! A coxswain's wife would give more to
know that her husband had crossed the narrow seas in safety. He acquire
any tincture of humane letters!--yes, when prowling foxes and yelling
wolves become musicians. He read the glorious blazoning of the
firmament!--ay, when sordid moles shall become lynxes. Post tot
promissa--after so many promises made, to entice me from the Court of
the magnificent Matthias, where Hun and Turk, Christian and Infidel, the
Czar of Muscovia and the Cham of Tartary themselves, contended to load
me with gifts--doth he think I am to abide in this old castle like a
bullfinch in a cage, fain to sing as oft as he chooses to whistle, and
all for seed and water? Not so--aut inveniam viam, aut faciam--I
will discover or contrive a remedy. The Cardinal Balue is politic and
liberal--this query shall to him, and it shall be his Eminence's own
fault if the stars speak not as he would have them."

He again took the despised guerdon, and weighed it in his hand. "It may
be," he said, "there is some jewel, or pearl of price, concealed in this
paltry case--I have heard he can be liberal even to lavishness, when it
suits his caprice or interest."

He emptied the purse, which contained neither more nor less than ten
gold pieces. The indignation of the Astrologer was extreme.

"Thinks he that for such paltry rate of hire I will practise that
celestial science which I have studied with the Armenian Abbot of
Istrahoff, who had not seen the sun for forty years--with the Greek
Dubravius, who is said to have raised the dead--and have even visited
the Sheik Ebn Hali in his cave in the deserts of Thebais? No, by
Heaven!--he that contemns art shall perish through his own ignorance.
Ten pieces!--a pittance which I am half ashamed to offer to Toinette, to
buy her new breast laces."

So saying, the indignant Sage nevertheless plunged the contemned pieces
of gold into a large pouch which he wore at his girdle, which Toinette,
and other abettors of lavish expense, generally contrived to empty fully
faster than the philosopher, with all his art, could find the means of
filling.



CHAPTER XIV: THE JOURNEY

     I see thee yet, fair France--thou favour'd land
     Of art and nature--thou art still before me,
     Thy sons, to whom their labour is a sport,
     So well thy grateful soil returns its tribute,
     Thy sunburnt daughters, with their laughing eyes
     And glossy raven locks. But, favour'd France,
     Thou hast had many a tale of woe to tell
     In ancient times as now.

     ANONYMOUS


Avoiding all conversation with any one (for such was his charge),
Quentin Durward proceeded hastily to array himself in a strong but plain
cuirass, with thigh and arm pieces, and placed on his head a good steel
cap without any visor. To these was added a handsome cassock of chamois
leather, finely dressed, and laced down the seams with some embroidery,
such as might become a superior officer in a noble household.

These were brought to his apartment by Oliver, who, with his quiet,
insinuating smile and manner, acquainted him that his uncle had been
summoned to mount guard purposely that he might make no inquiries
concerning these mysterious movements.

"Your excuse will be made to your kinsman," said Oliver, smiling again,
"and, my dearest son, when you return safe from the execution of this
pleasing trust, I doubt not you will be found worthy of such promotion
as will dispense with your accounting for your motions to any one, while
it will place you at the head of those who must render an account of
theirs to you."

So spoke Oliver le Diable, calculating, probably, in his own mind,
the great chance there was that the poor youth whose hand he squeezed
affectionately as he spoke, must necessarily encounter death or
captivity in the commission intrusted to his charge. He added to his
fair words a small purse of gold, to defray necessary expenses on the
road, as a gratuity on the King's part.

At a few minutes before twelve at midnight, Quentin, according to his
directions, proceeded to the second courtyard, and paused under the
Dauphin's Tower, which, as the reader knows, was assigned for the
temporary residence of the Countesses of Croye. He found, at this place
of rendezvous, the men and horses appointed to compose the retinue,
leading two sumpter mules already loaded with baggage, and holding three
palfreys for the two Countesses and a faithful waiting woman, with a
stately war horse for himself, whose steel plated saddle glanced in the
pale moonlight. Not a word of recognition was spoken on either side. The
men sat still in their saddles as if they were motionless, and by the
same imperfect light Quentin saw with pleasure that they were all armed,
and held long lances in their hands. They were only three in number, but
one of them whispered to Quentin, in a strong Gascon accent, that their
guide was to join them beyond Tours.

Meantime, lights glanced to and fro at the lattices of the tower, as
if there was bustle and preparation among its inhabitants. At length
a small door, which led from the bottom of the tower to the court, was
unclosed, and three females came forth attended by a man wrapped in a
cloak. They mounted in silence the palfreys which stood prepared for
them, while their attendant on foot led the way, and gave the passwords
and signals to the watchful guards, whose posts they passed in
succession. Thus they at length reached the exterior of these formidable
barriers. Here the man on foot, who had hitherto acted as their guide,
paused, and spoke low and earnestly to the two foremost females.

"May heaven bless you, Sire," said a voice which thrilled upon
Quentin Durward's ear, "and forgive you, even if your purposes be more
interested than your words express! To be placed in safety under the
protection of the good Bishop of Liege, is the utmost extent of my
desire."

The person whom she thus addressed muttered an inaudible answer, and
retreated back through the barrier gate, while Quentin thought that, by
the moon glimpse, he recognized in him the King himself, whose anxiety
for the departure of his guests had probably induced him to give his
presence, in case scruples should arise on their part, or difficulties
on that of the guards of the Castle.

When the riders were beyond the Castle, it was necessary for some time
to ride with great precaution, in order to avoid the pitfalls, snares,
and similar contrivances which were placed for the annoyance of
strangers. The Gascon was, however, completely possessed of the clew
to this labyrinth, and in a quarter of an hour's riding they found
themselves beyond the limits of Plessis le Parc, and not far distant
from the city of Tours.

The moon, which had now extricated herself from the clouds through
which she was formerly wading, shed a full sea of glorious light upon
a landscape equally glorious. They saw the princely Loire rolling his
majestic tide through the richest plain in France, and sweeping along
between banks ornamented with towers and terraces, and with olives and
vineyards. They saw the walls of the city of Tours, the ancient capital
of Touraine, raising their portal towers and embattlements white in the
moonlight, while from within their circle rose the immense Gothic mass,
which the devotion of the sainted Bishop Perpetuus erected as early as
the fifth century, and which the zeal of Charlemagne and his successors
had enlarged with such architectural splendour as rendered it the most
magnificent church in France. The towers of the church of Saint Gatien
[the cathedral of Tours] were also visible, and the gloomy strength of
the Castle, which was said to have been, in ancient times, the residence
of the Emperor Valentinian [a Roman emperor who strengthened the
northern frontiers against the barbarians].

Even the circumstances in which he was placed, though of a nature so
engrossing, did not prevent the wonder and delight with which the young
Scottishman, accustomed to the waste though impressive landscape of
his own mountains, and the poverty even of his country's most stately
scenery, looked on a scene which art and nature seemed to have vied
in adorning with their richest splendour. But he was recalled to the
business of the moment by the voice of the elder lady (pitched at least
an octave higher than those soft tones which bade adieu to King Louis),
demanding to speak with the leader of the band. Spurring his horse
forward, Quentin respectfully presented himself to the ladies in that
capacity, and thus underwent the interrogatories of the Lady Hameline.

"What was his name, and what his degree?"

He told both.

"Was he perfectly acquainted with the road?"

"He could not," he replied, "pretend to much knowledge of the route,
but he was furnished with full instructions, and he was, at their first
resting place, to be provided with a guide, in all respects competent to
the task of directing their farther journey, meanwhile, a horseman, who
had just joined them and made the number of their guard four, was to be
their guide for the first stage."

"And wherefore were you selected for such a duty, young gentleman?" said
the lady. "I am told you are the same youth who was lately upon guard in
the gallery in which we met the Princess of France. You seem young
and inexperienced for such a charge--a stranger, too, in France, and
speaking the language as a foreigner."

"I am bound to obey the commands of the King, madam, but am not
qualified to reason on them," answered the young soldier.

"Are you of noble birth?" demanded the same querist.

"I may safely affirm so, madam," replied Quentin.

"And are you not," said the younger lady, addressing him in her turn,
but with a timorous accent, "the same whom I saw when I was called to
wait upon the King at yonder inn?"

Lowering his voice, perhaps from similar feelings of timidity, Quentin
answered in the affirmative.

"Then methinks, my cousin," said the Lady Isabelle, addressing the Lady
Hameline, "we must be safe under this young gentleman's safeguard,
he looks not, at least, like one to whom the execution of a plan
of treacherous cruelty upon two helpless women could be with safety
intrusted."

"On my honour," said Durward, "by the fame of my house, by the bones
of my ancestry, I could not, for France and Scotland laid into one, be
guilty of treachery or cruelty towards you!"

"You speak well, young man," said the Lady Hameline, "but we are
accustomed to hear fair speeches from the King of France and his agents.
It was by these that we were induced, when the protection of the Bishop
of Liege might have been attained with less risk than now, or when we
might have thrown ourselves on that of Winceslaus of Germany, or
of Edward of England, to seek refuge in France. And in what did the
promises of the King result? In an obscure and shameful concealing of
us, under plebeian names, as a sort of prohibited wares in yonder
paltry hostelry, when we--who, as thou knowest, Marthon" (addressing her
domestic), "never put on our head tire save under a canopy, and upon a
dais of three degrees--were compelled to attire ourselves, standing on
the simple floor, as if we had been two milkmaids."

Marthon admitted that her lady spoke a most melancholy truth.

"I would that had been the sorest evil, dear kinswoman," said the Lady
Isabelle, "I could gladly have dispensed with state."

"But not with society," said the elder Countess, "that, my sweet cousin,
was impossible."

"I would have dispensed with all, my dearest kinswoman," answered
Isabelle, in a voice which penetrated to the very heart of her young
conductor and guard, "with all, for a safe and honourable retirement. I
wish not--God knows, I never wished--to occasion war betwixt France and
my native Burgundy, or that lives should be lost for such as I am. I
only implored permission to retire to the Convent of Marmoutier, or to
any other holy sanctuary."

"You spoke then like a fool, my cousin," answered the elder lady, "and
not like a daughter of my noble brother. It is well there is still
one alive who hath some of the spirit of the noble House of Croye. How
should a high born lady be known from a sunburnt milkmaid, save that
spears are broken for the one, and only hazel poles shattered for the
other? I tell you, maiden, that while I was in the very earliest bloom,
scarcely older than yourself, the famous Passage of Arms at Haflinghem
was held in my honour, the challengers were four, the assailants so many
as twelve. It lasted three days, and cost the lives of two adventurous
knights, the fracture of one backbone, one collarbone, three legs, and
two arms, besides flesh wounds and bruises beyond the heralds' counting,
and thus have the ladies of our House ever been honoured. Ah! had you
but half the heart of your noble ancestry, you would find means at some
court where ladies' love and fame in arms are still prized, to maintain
a tournament at which your hand should be the prize, as was that of your
great grandmother of blessed memory, at the spear running of Strasbourg,
and thus should you gain the best lance in Europe, to maintain the
rights of the House of Croye, both against the oppression of Burgundy
and the policy of France."

"But, fair kinswoman," answered the younger Countess, "I have been
told by my old nurse, that although the Rhinegrave [formerly a Rhenish
prince] was the best lance at the great tournament at Strasbourg, and so
won the hand of my respected ancestor, yet the match was no happy
one, as he used often to scold, and sometimes even to beat, my great
grandmother of blessed memory."

"And wherefore not?" said the elder Countess, in her romantic enthusiasm
for the profession of chivalry, "why should those victorious arms,
accustomed to deal blows when abroad, be bound to restrain their
energies at home? A thousand times rather would I be beaten twice a day
by a husband whose arm was as much feared by others as by me, than be
the wife of a coward, who dared neither to lift hand to his wife, nor to
any one else!"

"I should wish you joy of such an active mate, fair aunt," replied
Isabelle, "without envying you, for if broken bones be lovely in
tourneys, there is nothing less amiable in ladies' bower."

"Nay, but the beating is no necessary consequence of wedding with a
knight of fame in arms," said the Lady Hameline, "though it is true that
your ancestor of blessed memory, the Rhinegrave Gottfried, was something
rough tempered, and addicted to the use of Rheinwein.

"The very perfect knight is a lamb among ladies, and a lion among
lances. There was Thibault of Montigni--God be with him!--he was the
kindest soul alive, and not only was he never so discourteous as to lift
hand against his lady, but, by our good dame, he who beat all enemies
without doors, found a fair foe who could belabour him within.--Well,
't was his own fault--he was one of the challengers at the Passage
of Haflinghem, and so well bestirred himself, that, if it had pleased
Heaven, and your grandfather, there might have been a lady of Montigni
who had used his gentle nature more gently."

The Countess Isabelle, who had some reason to dread this Passage of
Haflinghem, it being a topic upon which her aunt was at all times
very diffuse, suffered the conversation to drop, and Quentin, with the
natural politeness of one who had been gently nurtured dreading lest
his presence might be a restraint on their conversation, rode forward to
join the guide, as if to ask him some questions concerning their route.

Meanwhile the ladies continued their journey in silence, or in such
conversation as is not worth narrating, until day began to break, and as
they had then been on horseback for several hours, Quentin, anxious lest
they should be fatigued, became impatient to know their distance from
the nearest resting place.

"I will show it you," answered the guide, "in half an hour."

"And then you leave us to other guidance?" continued Quentin.

"Even so, Seignior Archer," replied the man, "my journeys are always
short and straight. When you and others, Seignior Archer, go by the bow,
I always go by the cord."

The moon had by this time long been down, and the lights of dawn were
beginning to spread bright and strong in the east, and to gleam on the
bosom of a small lake, on the verge of which they had been riding for
a short space of time. This lake lay in the midst of a wide plain,
scattered over with single trees, groves and thickets, but which
might be yet termed open, so that objects began to be discerned with
sufficient accuracy. Quentin cast his eye on the person whom he rode
beside, and under the shadow of a slouched overspreading hat, which
resembled the sombrero of a Spanish peasant, he recognised the facetious
features of the same Petit Andre whose fingers, not long since, had, in
concert with those of his lugubrious brother, Trois Eschelles, been
so unpleasantly active about his throat.--Impelled by aversion, not
altogether unmixed with fear (for in his own country the executioner is
regarded with almost superstitious horror), which his late narrow escape
had not diminished, Durward instinctively moved his horse's head to
the right, and pressing him at the same time with the spur, made a
demi-volte, which separated him eight feet from his hateful companion.

"Ho, ho, ho, ho!" exclaimed Petit Andre, "by Our Lady of the Grave, our
young soldier remembers us of old. What! comrade, you bear no malice, I
trust?--every one wins his bread in this country. No man need be ashamed
of having come through my hands, for I will do my work with any that
ever tied a living weight to a dead tree.--And God hath given me grace
to be such a merry fellow withal.--Ha! ha! ha!--I could tell you such
jests I have cracked between the foot of a ladder and the top of the
gallows, that, by my halidome, I have been obliged to do my job rather
hastily, for fear the fellows should die with laughing, and so shame my
mystery!"

As he thus spoke he edged his horse sideways to regain the interval
which the Scot had left between them, saying, at the same time, "Come,
Seignior Archer, let there be no unkindness betwixt us!--For my part,
I always do my duty without malice, and with a light heart, and I never
love a man better than when I have put my scant of wind collar about his
neck, to dub him Knight of the order of Saint Patibularius [patibulum,
a gibbet], as the Provost's Chaplain, the worthy Father Vaconeldiablo
[possibly Baco (Bacchus) el Diablo (the Devil)], is wont to call the
Patron Saint of the Provostry."

"Keep back, thou wretched object!" exclaimed Quentin, as the finisher of
the law again sought to approach him closer, "or I shall be tempted to
teach you the distance that should be betwixt men of honour and such an
outcast."

"La you there, how hot you are!" said the fellow, "had you said men
of honesty, there had been some savour of truth in it, but for men of
honour, good lack, I have to deal with them every day, as nearly and
closely as I was about to do business with you.--But peace be with you,
and keep your company to yourself. I would have bestowed a flagon of
Auvernat upon you to wash away every unkindness---but 't is like you
scorn my courtesy.--Well. Be as churlish as you list--I never quarrel
with my customers--my jerry come tumbles, my merry dancers, my little
playfellows, as Jacques Butcher says to his lambs--those in fine,
who, like your seigniorship, have H. E. M. P. written on their
foreheads.--No, no, let them use me as they list, they shall have my
good service at last--and yourself shall see, when you next come under
Petit Andre's hands, that he knows how to forgive an injury."

So saying, and summing up the whole with a provoking wink, and such an
interjectional tchick as men quicken a dull horse with, Petit Andre
drew off to the other side of the path, and left the youth to digest
the taunts he had treated him with, as his proud Scottish stomach best
might. A strong desire had Quentin to have belaboured him while the
staff of his lance could hold together, but he put a restraint on
his passion, recollecting that a brawl with such a character could be
creditable at no time or place, and that a quarrel of any kind, on the
present occasion, would be a breach of duty, and might involve the most
perilous consequences. He therefore swallowed his wrath at the ill timed
and professional jokes of Mons. Petit Andre, and contented himself with
devoutly hoping that they had not reached the ears of his fair charge,
on which they could not be supposed to make an impression in favour of
himself, as one obnoxious to such sarcasms. But he was speedily roused
from such thoughts by the cry of both the ladies at once, to "Look
back--look back!--For the love of Heaven look yourself, and us--we are
pursued!"

Quentin hastily looked back, and saw that two armed men were in fact
following them, and riding at such a pace as must soon bring them up
with their party. "It can," he said, "be only some of the Provostry
making their rounds in the forest.--Do thou look," he said to Petit
Andre, "and see what they may be."

Petit Andre obeyed, and rolling himself jocosely in the saddle after he
had made his observations, replied, "These, fair sir, are neither your
comrades nor mine--neither Archers nor Marshals men--for I think they
wear helmets, with visors lowered, and gorgets of the same.--A plague
upon these gorgets of all other pieces of armour!--I have fumbled with
them an hour before I could undo the rivets."

"Do you, gracious ladies," said Durward, without attending to Petit
Andre, "ride forward--not so fast as to raise an opinion of your being
in flight, and yet fast enough to avail yourself of the impediment which
I shall presently place between you and these men who follow us."

The Countess Isabelle looked to their guide, and then whispered to her
aunt, who spoke to Quentin thus: "We have confidence in your care, fair
Archer, and will rather abide the risk of whatever may chance in your
company, than we will go onward with that man, whose mien is, we think,
of no good augury."

"Be it as you will, ladies," said the youth. "There are but two who come
after us, and though they be knights, as their arms seem to show, they
shall, if they have any evil purpose, learn how a Scottish gentleman can
do his devour in the presence and for the defence of such as you.

"Which of you," he continued, addressing the guards whom he commanded,
"is willing to be my comrade, and to break a lance with these gallants?"

Two of the men obviously faltered in resolution, but the third, Bertrand
Guyot, swore that cap de diou, were they Knights of King Arthur's Round
Table, he would try their mettle, for the honour of Gascony.

While he spoke, the two knights--for they seemed of no less rank--came
up with the rear of the party, in which Quentin, with his sturdy
adherent, had by this time stationed himself. They were fully accoutred
in excellent armour of polished steel, without any device by which they
could be distinguished.

One of them, as they approached, called out to Quentin, "Sir Squire,
give place--we come to relieve you of a charge which is above your rank
and condition. You will do well to leave these ladies in our care, who
are fitter to wait upon them, especially as we know that in yours they
are little better than captives."

"In return to your demand, sirs," replied Durward, "know, in the first
place, that I am discharging the duty imposed upon me by my present
sovereign, and next, that however unworthy I may be, the ladies desire
to abide under my protection."

"Out, sirrah!" exclaimed one of the champions, "will you, a wandering
beggar, put yourself on terms of resistance against belted knights?"

"They are indeed terms of resistance," said Quentin, "since they oppose
your insolent and unlawful aggression, and if there be difference of
rank between us, which as yet I know not, your discourtesy has done it
away. Draw your sword, or if you will use the lance, take ground for
your career."

While the knights turned their horses, and rode back to the distance of
about a hundred and fifty yards, Quentin, looking to the ladies, bent
low on his saddlebow, as if desiring their favourable regard, and as
they streamed towards him their kerchiefs, in token of encouragement,
the two assailants had gained the distance necessary for their charge.

Calling to the Gascon to bear himself like a man, Durward put his steed
into motion, and the four horsemen met in full career in the midst of
the ground which at first separated them. The shock was fatal to the
poor Gascon, for his adversary, aiming at his face, which was undefended
by a visor, ran him through the eye into the brain, so that he fell dead
from his horse.

On the other hand, Quentin, though labouring under the same
disadvantage, swayed himself in the saddle so dexterously, that the
hostile lance, slightly scratching his cheek, passed over his right
shoulder, while his own spear, striking his antagonist fair upon the
breast, hurled him to the ground. Quentin jumped off, to unhelm his
fallen opponent, but the other knight (who had never yet spoken),
seeing the fortune of his companion, dismounted still more speedily than
Durward, and bestriding his friend, who lay senseless, exclaimed, "In
the name of God and Saint Martin, mount, good fellow, and get thee gone
with thy woman's ware--Ventre Saint Gris, they have caused mischief
enough this morning."

"By your leave, Sir Knight," said Quentin, who could not brook the
menacing tone in which this advice was given, "I will first see whom
I have had to do with, and learn who is to answer for the death of my
comrade."

"That shalt thou never live to know or to tell," answered the knight.
"Get thee back in peace, good fellow. If we were fools for interrupting
your passage, we have had the worst, for thou hast done more evil than
the lives of thee and thy whole hand could repay.--Nay, if thou wilt
have it" (for Quentin now drew his sword, and advanced on him), "take it
with a vengeance!"

So saying, he dealt the Scot such a blow on the helmet, as, till that
moment (though bred where good blows were plenty), he had only read
of in romance. It descended like a thunderbolt, beating down the guard
which the young soldier had raised to protect his head, and, reaching
his helmet of proof, cut it through so far as to touch his hair, but
without farther injury while Durward, dizzy, stunned, and beaten down on
one knee, was for an instant at the mercy of the knight, had it
pleased him to second his blow. But compassion for Quentin's youth, or
admiration of his courage, or a generous love of fair play, made him
withhold from taking such advantage: while Durward, collecting himself,
sprang up and attacked his antagonist with the energy of one determined
to conquer or die, and at the same time with the presence of mind
necessary for fighting the quarrel out to the best advantage. Resolved
not again to expose himself to such dreadful blows as he had just
obtained, he employed the advantage of superior agility, increased by
the comparative lightness of his armour, to harass his antagonist by
traversing on all sides, with a suddenness of motion and rapidity
of attack against which the knight--in his heavy panoply--found it
difficult to defend himself without much fatigue.

It was in vain that this generous antagonist called aloud to Quentin
that there now remained no cause of fight betwixt them, and that he
was loath to be constrained to do him injury. Listening only to the
suggestions of a passionate wish to redeem the shame of his temporary
defeat, Durward continued to assail him with the rapidity of
lightning--now menacing him with the edge, now with the point of his
sword, and ever keeping such an eye on the motions of his opponent, of
whose superior strength he had had terrible proof, that he was ready
to spring backward, or aside, from under the blows of his tremendous
weapon.

"Now the devil be with thee for an obstinate and presumptuous fool,"
muttered the knight, "that cannot be quiet till thou art knocked on the
head!"

So saying, he changed his mode of fighting, collected himself, as if to
stand on the defensive, and seemed contented with parrying, instead of
returning, the blows which Quentin unceasingly aimed at him, with the
internal resolution that the instant when either loss of breath or any
false or careless pass of the young soldier should give an opening, he
would put an end to the fight by a single blow. It is likely he might
have succeeded in this artful policy, but Fate had ordered it otherwise.

The duel was still at the hottest, when a large party of horse rode up,
crying, "Hold, in the King's name!"

Both champions stepped back--and Quentin saw, with surprise, that
his Captain, Lord Crawford, was at the head of the party who had thus
interrupted their combat. There was also Tristan l'Hermite, with two or
three of his followers, making, in all, perhaps twenty horse.



CHAPTER XV: THE GUIDE

     He was a son of Egypt, as he told me,
     And one descended from those dread magicians,
     Who waged rash war, when Israel dwelt in Goshen,
     With Israel and her Prophet--matching rod
     With his, the son's of Levi's--and encountering
     Jehovah's miracles with incantations,
     Till upon Egypt came the avenging Angel,
     And those proud sages wept for their first born,
     As wept the unletter'd peasant.

     ANONYMOUS


The arrival of Lord Crawford and his guard put an immediate end to the
engagement which we endeavoured to describe in the last chapter, and the
knight, throwing off his helmet, hastily gave the old Lord his sword,
saying, "Crawford, I render myself.--But hither--and lend me your ear--a
word for God's sake--save the Duke of Orleans!"

"How!--what?--the Duke of Orleans!" exclaimed the Scottish commander.
"How came this, in the name of the foul fiend? It will ruin the gallant
with the King, for ever and a day."

"Ask no questions," said Dunois--for it was no other than he--"it was
all my fault. See, he stirs. I came forth but to have a snatch at yonder
damsel, and make myself a landed and a married man--and see what is come
on 't. Keep back your canaille--let no man look upon him."

So saying, he opened the visor of Orleans, and threw water on his face,
which was afforded by the neighbouring lake.

Quentin Durward, meanwhile, stood like one planet struck [affected by
the supposed influence of the planets], so fast did new adventures pour
in upon him. He had now, as the pale features of his first antagonist
assured him, borne to the earth the first Prince of the Blood in
France, and had measured swords with her best champion, the celebrated
Dunois,--both of them achievements honourable in themselves: but whether
they might be called good service to the King, or so esteemed by him,
was a very different question.

The Duke had now recovered his breath, and was able to sit up and give
attention to what passed betwixt Dunois and Crawford, while the former
pleaded eagerly that there was no occasion to mention in the matter the
name of the most noble Orleans, while he was ready to take the whole
blame on his own shoulders, and to avouch that the Duke had only come
thither in friendship to him.

Lord Crawford continued listening with his eyes fixed on the ground,
and from time to time he sighed and shook his head. At length he said,
looking up, "Thou knowest, Dunois, that, for thy father's sake, as well
as thine own, I would full fain do thee a service."

"It is not for myself I demand anything," answered Dunois. "Thou hast my
sword, and I am your prisoner--what needs more? But it is for this noble
Prince, the only hope of France, if God should call the Dauphin. He only
came hither to do me a favour--in an effort to make my fortune--in a
matter which the King had partly encouraged."

"Dunois," replied Crawford, "if another had told me thou hadst brought
the noble Prince into this jeopardy to serve any purpose of thine own, I
had told him it was false. And now that thou dost pretend so thyself, I
can hardly believe it is for the sake of speaking the truth."

"Noble Crawford," said Orleans, who had now entirely recovered from his
swoon, "you are too like in character to your friend Dunois, not to do
him justice. It was indeed I that dragged him hither, most unwillingly,
upon an enterprise of harebrained passion, suddenly and rashly
undertaken.--Look on me all who will," he added, rising up and turning
to the soldiery, "I am Louis of Orleans, willing to pay the penalty of
my own folly. I trust the King will limit his displeasure to me, as is
but just.--Meanwhile, as a Child of France must not give up his sword to
any one--not even to you, brave Crawford--fare thee well, good steel."

So saying, he drew his sword from its scabbard, and flung it into the
lake. It went through the air like a stream of lightning, and sank
in the flashing waters, which speedily closed over it. All remained
standing in irresolution and astonishment, so high was the rank, and
so much esteemed was the character, of the culprit, while, at the same
time, all were conscious that the consequences of his rash enterprise,
considering the views which the King had upon him, were likely to end in
his utter ruin.

Dunois was the first who spoke, and it was in the chiding tone of an
offended and distrusted friend: "So! your Highness hath judged it fit to
cast away your best sword, in the same morning when it was your pleasure
to fling away the King's favour, and to slight the friendship of
Dunois?"

"My dearest kinsman," said the Duke, "when or how was it in my purpose
to slight your friendship by telling the truth, when it was due to your
safety and my honour?"

"What had you to do with my safety, my most princely cousin, I would
pray to know?" answered Dunois, gruffly. "What, in God's name, was it
to you, if I had a mind to be hanged, or strangled, or flung into the
Loire, or poniarded, or broke on the wheel, or hung up alive in an iron
cage, or buried alive in a castle fosse, or disposed of in any other
way in which it might please King Louis to get rid of his faithful
subject?--(You need 'not wink and frown, and point to Tristan
l'Hermite--I see the scoundrel as well as you do.) But it would not have
stood so hard with me.--And so much for my safety. And then for your own
honour--by the blush of Saint Magdalene, I think the honour would have
been to have missed this morning's work, or kept it out of sight. Here
has your Highness got yourself unhorsed by a wild Scottish boy."

"Tut, tut!" said Lord Crawford, "never shame his Highness for that. It
is not the first time a Scottish boy hath broke a good lance--I am glad
the youth hath borne him well."

"I will say nothing to the contrary," said Dunois, "yet, had your
Lordship come something later than you did, there might have been a
vacancy in your band of Archers."

"Ay, ay," answered Lord Crawford, "I can read your handwriting in that
cleft morion. Some one take it from the lad and give him a bonnet,
which, with its steel lining, will keep his head better than that broken
loom--And let me tell your Lordship, that your own armour of proof is
not without some marks of good Scottish handwriting. But, Dunois, I must
now request the Duke of Orleans and you to take horse and accompany me,
as I have power and commission to convey you to a place different from
that which my goodwill might assign you."

"May I not speak one word, my Lord of Crawford, to yonder fair ladies?"
said the Duke of Orleans.

"Not one syllable," answered Lord Crawford, "I am too much a friend of
your Highness to permit such an act of folly."

Then addressing Quentin, he added, "You, young man, have done your duty.
Go on to obey the charge with which you are intrusted."

"Under favour, my Lord," said Tristan, with his usual brutality of
manner, "the youth must find another guide. I cannot do without Petit
Andre, when there is so like to be business on hand for him."

"The young man," said Petit Andre, now coming forward, "has only to keep
the path which lies straight before him, and it will conduct him to a
place where he will find the man who is to act as his guide.

"I would not for a thousand ducats be absent from my Chief this day
I have hanged knights and esquires many a one, and wealthy Echevins
[during the Middle Ages royal officers possessing a large measure of
power in local administration], and burgomasters to boot--even counts
and marquises have tasted of my handiwork but, a-humph"--he looked at
the Duke, as if to intimate that he would have filled up the blank with
"a Prince of the Blood!"

"Ho, ho, ho! Petit Andre, thou wilt be read of in Chronicle!"

"Do you permit your ruffians to hold such language in such a presence?"
said Crawford, looking sternly to Tristan.

"Why do you not correct him yourself, my Lord?" said Tristan, sullenly.

"Because thy hand is the only one in this company that can beat him
without being degraded by such an action."

"Then rule your own men, my Lord, and I will be answerable for mine,"
said the Provost Marshal.

Lord Crawford seemed about to give a passionate reply, but as if he
had thought better of it, turned his back short upon Tristan, and,
requesting the Duke of Orleans and Dunois to ride one on either hand of
him, he made a signal of adieu to the ladies, and said to Quentin, "God
bless thee, my child, thou hast begun thy service valiantly, though in
an unhappy cause."

He was about to go off when Quentin could hear Dunois whisper to
Crawford, "Do you carry us to Plessis?"

"No, my unhappy and rash friend," answered Crawford, with a sigh, "to
Loches."

"To Loches!" The name of a castle, or rather prison, yet more dreaded
than Plessis itself, fell like a death toll upon the ear of the young
Scotchman. He had heard it described as a place destined to the workings
of those secret acts of cruelty with which even Louis shamed to pollute
the interior of his own residence. There were in this place of terror
dungeons under dungeons, some of them unknown even to the keepers
themselves, living graves, to which men were consigned with little hope
of farther employment during the rest of their life than to breathe
impure air, and feed on bread and water. At this formidable castle were
also those dreadful places of confinement called cages, in which the
wretched prisoner could neither stand upright nor stretch himself at
length, an invention, it is said, of the Cardinal Balue [who himself
tenanted one of these dens for more than eleven years. S. De Comines,
who also suffered this punishment, describes the cage as eight feet
wide, and a foot higher than a man.]. It is no wonder that the name of
this place of horrors, and the consciousness that he had been partly
the means of dispatching thither two such illustrious victims, struck so
much sadness into the heart of the young Scot that he rode for some
time with his head dejected, his eyes fixed on the ground, and his heart
filled with the most painful reflections.

As he was now again at the head of the little troop, and pursuing
the road which had been pointed out to him, the Lady Hameline had an
opportunity to say to him, "Methinks, fair sir, you regret the victory
which your gallantry has attained in our behalf?"

There was something in the question which sounded like irony, but
Quentin had tact enough to answer simply and with sincerity.

"I can regret nothing that is done in the service of such ladies as you
are, but, methinks, had it consisted with your safety, I had rather have
fallen by the sword of so good a soldier as Dunois, than have been the
means of consigning that renowned knight and his unhappy chief, the Duke
of Orleans, to yonder fearful dungeons."

"It was, then, the Duke of Orleans," said the elder lady, turning to
her niece. "I thought so, even at the distance from which we beheld the
fray.--You see, kinswoman, what we might have been, had this sly and
avaricious monarch permitted us to be seen at his Court. The first
Prince of the Blood of France, and the valiant Dunois, whose name is
known as wide as that of his heroic father.--This young gentleman did
his devoir bravely and well, but methinks 't is pity that he did not
succumb with honour, since his ill advised gallantry has stood betwixt
us and these princely rescuers."

The Countess Isabelle replied in a firm and almost a displeased tone,
with an energy, in short, which Quentin had not yet observed her
use. She said, "but that I know you jest, I would say your speech is
ungrateful to our brave defender, to whom we owe more, perhaps, than
you are aware of. Had these gentlemen succeeded so far in their rash
enterprise as to have defeated our escort, is it not still evident,
that, on the arrival of the Royal Guard, we must have shared their
captivity? For my own part, I give tears, and will soon bestow masses,
on the brave man who has fallen, and I trust" (she continued, more
timidly) "that he who lives will accept my grateful thanks."

As Quentin turned his face towards her, to return the fitting
acknowledgments, she saw the blood which streamed down on one side of
his face, and exclaimed, in a tone of deep feeling, "Holy Virgin, he is
wounded! he bleeds!--Dismount, sir, and let your wound be bound!"

In spite of all that Durward could say of the slightness of his hurt he
was compelled to dismount, and to seat himself on a bank, and unhelmet
himself, while the Ladies of Croye, who, according to a fashion not
as yet antiquated, pretended some knowledge of leech craft, washed the
wound, stanched the blood, and bound it with the kerchief of the younger
Countess in order to exclude the air, for so their practice prescribed.

In modern times, gallants seldom or never take wounds for ladies' sake,
and damsels on their side never meddle with the cure of wounds. Each
has a danger the less. That which the men escape will be generally
acknowledged, but the peril of dressing such a slight wound as that of
Quentin's, which involved nothing formidable or dangerous, was perhaps
as real in its way as the risk of encountering it.

We have already said the patient was eminently handsome, and the removal
of his helmet, or more properly, of his morion, had suffered his fair
locks to escape in profusion, around a countenance in which the hilarity
of youth was qualified by a blush of modesty at once and pleasure. And
then the feelings of the younger Countess, when compelled to hold the
kerchief to the wound, while her aunt sought in their baggage for some
vulnerary remedy, were mingled at once with a sense of delicacy and
embarrassment, a thrill of pity for the patient, and of gratitude for
his services, which exaggerated, in her eyes, his good mien and handsome
features. In short, this incident seemed intended by Fate to complete
the mysterious communication which she had, by many petty and apparently
accidental circumstances, established betwixt two persons, who, though
far different in rank and fortune, strongly resembled each other
in youth, beauty, and the romantic tenderness of an affectionate
disposition. It was no wonder, therefore, that from this moment
the thoughts of the Countess Isabelle, already so familiar to his
imagination, should become paramount in Quentin's bosom, nor that if the
maiden's feelings were of a less decided character, at least so far as
known to herself, she should think of her young defender, to whom she
had just rendered a service so interesting, with more emotion than of
any of the whole band of high born nobles who had for two years past
besieged her with their adoration. Above all, when the thought
of Campobasso, the unworthy favourite of Duke Charles, with his
hypocritical mien, his base, treacherous spirit, his wry neck and his
squint, occurred to her, his portrait was more disgustingly hideous than
ever, and deeply did she resolve no tyranny should make her enter into
so hateful a union.

In the meantime, whether the good Lady Hameline of Croye understood and
admired masculine beauty as much as when she was fifteen years younger
(for the good Countess was at least thirty-five, if the records of that
noble house speak the truth), or whether she thought she had done their
young protector less justice than she ought, in the first view which she
had taken of his services, it is certain that he began to find favour in
her eyes.

"My niece," she said, "has bestowed on you a kerchief for the binding
of your wound, I will give you one to grace your gallantry, and to
encourage you in your farther progress in chivalry."

So saying, she gave him a richly embroidered kerchief of blue and
silver, and pointing to the housing of her palfrey, and the plumes in
her riding cap, desired him to observe that the colours were the same.

The fashion of the time prescribed one absolute mode of receiving such
a favour, which Quentin followed accordingly by tying the napkin around
his arm, yet his manner of acknowledgment had more of awkwardness, and
loss of gallantry in it, than perhaps it might have had at another time,
and in another presence, for though the wearing of a lady's favour,
given in such a manner, was merely matter of general compliment, he
would much rather have preferred the right of displaying on his arm that
which bound the wound inflicted by the sword of Dunois.

Meantime they continued their pilgrimage, Quentin now riding abreast of
the ladies, into whose society he seemed to be tacitly adopted. He did
not speak much, however, being filled by the silent consciousness of
happiness, which is afraid of giving too strong vent to its feelings.
The Countess Isabelle spoke still less, so that the conversation was
chiefly carried on by the Lady Hameline, who showed no inclination to
let it drop, for, to initiate the young Archer, as she said, into the
principles and practice of chivalry, she detailed to him at full length
the Passage of Arms at Haflinghem, where she had distributed the prizes
among the victors.

Not much interested, I am sorry to say, in the description of this
splendid scene, or in the heraldic bearings of the different Flemish and
German knights, which the lady blazoned with pitiless accuracy, Quentin
began to entertain some alarm lest he should have passed the place where
his guide was to join him--a most serious disaster, from which, should
it really have taken place, the very worst consequences were to be
apprehended.

While he hesitated whether it would be better to send back one of his
followers to see whether this might not be the case, he heard the blast
of a horn, and looking in the direction from which the sound came,
beheld a horseman riding very fast towards them. The low size, and wild,
shaggy, untrained state of the animal, reminded Quentin of the mountain
breed of horses in his own country, but this was much more finely
limbed, and, with the same appearance of hardiness, was more rapid in
its movements. The head particularly, which, in the Scottish pony, is
often lumpish and heavy, was small and well placed in the neck of this
animal, with thin jaws, full sparkling eyes, and expanded nostrils.

The rider was even more singular in his appearance than the horse which
he rode, though that was extremely unlike the horses of France. Although
he managed his palfrey with great dexterity, he sat with his feet in
broad stirrups, something resembling shovels, so short in the leathers
that his knees were well nigh as high as the pommel of his saddle. His
dress was a red turban of small size, in which he wore a sullied plume,
secured by a clasp of silver, his tunic, which was shaped like those of
the Estradiots (a sort of troops whom the Venetians at that time levied
in the provinces on the eastern side of their gulf), was green in
colour, and tawdrily laced with gold, he wore very wide drawers or
trowsers of white, though none of the cleanest, which gathered
beneath the knee, and his swarthy legs were quite bare, unless for the
complicated laces which bound a pair of sandals on his feet, he had no
spurs, the edge of his large stirrups being so sharp as to serve to
goad the horse in a very severe manner. In a crimson sash this singular
horseman wore a dagger on the right side, and on the left a short
crooked Moorish sword, and by a tarnished baldric over the shoulder hung
the horn which announced his approach. He had a swarthy and sunburnt
visage, with a thin beard, and piercing dark eyes, a well formed mouth
and nose, and other features which might have been pronounced handsome,
but for the black elf locks which hung around his face, and the air of
wildness and emaciation, which rather seemed to indicate a savage than a
civilized man.

"He also is a Bohemian!" said the ladies to each other. "Holy Mary, will
the King again place confidence in these outcasts?"

"I will question the man, if it be your pleasure," said Quentin, "and
assure myself of his fidelity as I best may."

Durward, as well as the Ladies of Croye, had recognised in this man's
dress and appearance the habit and the manners of those vagrants with
whom he had nearly been confounded by the hasty proceedings of Trois
Eschelles and Petit Andre, and he, too, entertained very natural
apprehensions concerning the risk of reposing trust in one of that
vagrant race.

"Art thou come hither to seek us?" was his first question. The stranger
nodded. "And for what purpose?"

"To guide you to the Palace of Him of Liege."

"Of the Bishop?"

The Bohemian again nodded.

"What token canst thou give me that we should yield credence to thee?"

"Even the old rhyme, and no other," answered the Bohemian.


     "The page slew the boar,
     The peer had the gloire."


"A true token," said Quentin, "lead on, good fellow--I will speak
farther with thee presently."

Then falling back to the ladies, he said, "I am convinced this man is
the guide we are to expect, for he hath brought me a password, known,
I think, but to the King and me. But I will discourse with him farther,
and endeavour to ascertain how far he is to be trusted."



CHAPTER XVI: THE VAGRANT

     I am as free as Nature first made man,
     Ere the base laws of servitude began
     When wild in woods the noble savage ran.

     THE CONQUEST OF GRENADA


While Quentin held the brief communication with the ladies necessary
to assure them that this extraordinary addition to their party was the
guide whom they were to expect on the King's part, he noticed (for he
was as alert in observing the motions of the stranger, as the Bohemian
could be on his part) that the man not only turned his head as far back
as he could to peer at them, but that, with a singular sort of agility,
more resembling that of a monkey than of a man, he had screwed his whole
person around on the saddle so as to sit almost sidelong upon the horse,
for the convenience, as it seemed, of watching them more attentively.

Not greatly pleased with this manoeuvre, Quentin rode up to the Bohemian
and said to him, as he suddenly assumed his proper position on the
horse, "Methinks, friend, you will prove but a blind guide, if you look
at the tail of your horse rather than his ears."

"And if I were actually blind," answered the Bohemian, "I could not the
less guide you through any county in this realm of France, or in those
adjoining to it."

"Yet you are no Frenchman," said the Scot.

"I am not," answered the guide.

"What countryman, then, are you," demanded Quentin.

"I am of no country," answered the guide.

"How! of no country?" repeated the Scot.

"No," answered the Bohemian, "of none. I am a Zingaro, a Bohemian, an
Egyptian, or whatever the Europeans, in their different languages, may
choose to call our people, but I have no country."

"Are you a Christian?" asked the Scotchman.

The Bohemian shook his head.

"Dog," said Quentin (for there was little toleration in the spirit of
Catholicism in those days), "dost thou worship Mahoun?"

[Mahoun: Mohammed. It was a remarkable feature of the character of these
wanderers that they did not, like the Jews whom they otherwise resembled
in some particulars, possess or profess any particular religion,
whether in form or principle. They readily conformed, as far as might
be required, with the religion of any country in which they happened to
sojourn, but they did not practise it more than was demanded of them....
S.]

"No," was the indifferent and concise answer of the guide, who neither
seemed offended nor surprised at the young man's violence of manner.

"Are you a Pagan, then, or what are you?"

"I have no religion," answered the Bohemian.

Durward started back, for though he had heard of Saracens and Idolaters,
it had never entered into his ideas or belief that any body of men could
exist who practised no mode of worship whatever. He recovered from his
astonishment to ask his guide where he usually dwelt.

"Wherever I chance to be for the time," replied the Bohemian. "I have no
home."

"How do you guard your property?"

"Excepting the clothes which I wear, and the horse I ride on, I have no
property."

"Yet you dress gaily, and ride gallantly," said Durward. "What are your
means of subsistence?"

"I eat when I am hungry, drink when I am thirsty, and have no other
means of subsistence than chance throws in my Way," replied the
vagabond.

"Under whose laws do you live?"

"I acknowledge obedience to none, but an it suits my pleasure or my
necessities," said the Bohemian.

"Who is your leader, and commands you?"

"The father of our tribe--if I choose to obey him," said the guide,
"otherwise I have no commander."

"You are, then," said the wondering querist, "destitute of all that
other men are combined by--you have no law, no leader, no settled means
of subsistence, no house or home. You have, may Heaven compassionate
you, no country--and, may Heaven enlighten and forgive you, you have no
God! What is it that remains to you, deprived of government, domestic
happiness, and religion?"

"I have liberty," said the Bohemian "I crouch to no one, obey no
one--respect no one--I go where I will--live as I can--and die when my
day comes."

"But you are subject to instant execution, at the pleasure of the
Judge?"

"Be it so," returned the Bohemian, "I can but die so much the sooner."

"And to imprisonment also," said the Scot, "and where, then, is your
boasted freedom?"

"In my thoughts," said the Bohemian, "which no chains can bind, while
yours, even when your limbs are free, remain fettered by your laws and
your superstitions, your dreams of local attachment, and your fantastic
visions of civil policy. Such as I are free in spirit when our limbs are
chained.--You are imprisoned in mind even when your limbs are most at
freedom."

"Yet the freedom of your thoughts," said the Scot, "relieves not the
pressure of the gyves on your limbs."

"For a brief time that may be endured," answered the vagrant, "and if
within that period I cannot extricate myself, and fail of relief from
my comrades, I can always die, and death is the most perfect freedom of
all."

There was a deep pause of some duration, which Quentin at length broke
by resuming his queries.

"Yours is a wandering race, unknown to the nations of Europe.--Whence do
they derive their origin?"

"I may not tell you," answered the Bohemian.

"When will they relieve this kingdom from their presence, and return to
the land from whence they came?" said the Scot.

"When the day of their pilgrimage shall be accomplished," replied his
vagrant guide.

"Are you not sprung from those tribes of Israel which were carried into
captivity beyond the great river Euphrates?" said Quentin, who had not
forgotten the lore which had been taught him at Aberbrothick.

"Had we been so," answered the Bohemian, "we had followed their faith
and practised their rites."

"What is thine own name?" said Durward.

"My proper name is only known to my brethren. The men beyond our tents
call me Hayraddin Maugrabin--that is, Hayraddin the African Moor."

"Thou speakest too well for one who hath lived always in thy filthy
horde," said the Scot.

"I have learned some of the knowledge of this land," said Hayraddin.
"When I was a little boy, our tribe was chased by the hunters after
human flesh. An arrow went through my mother's head, and she died. I
was entangled in the blanket on her shoulders, and was taken by the
pursuers. A priest begged me from the Provost's archers, and trained me
up in Frankish learning for two or three years."

"How came you to part with him?" demanded Durward.

"I stole money from him--even the God which he worshipped," answered
Hayraddin, with perfect composure, "he detected me, and beat me--I
stabbed him with my knife, fled to the woods, and was again united to my
people."

"Wretch!" said Durward, "did you murder your benefactor?"

"What had he to do to burden me with his benefits?--The Zingaro boy was
no house bred cur, to dog the heels of his master, and crouch beneath
his blows, for scraps of food:--He was the imprisoned wolf whelp,
which at the first opportunity broke his chain, rended his master, and
returned to his wilderness."

There was another pause, when the young Scot, with a view of still
farther investigating the character and purpose of this suspicious
guide, asked Hayraddin whether it was not true that his people, amid
their ignorance, pretended to a knowledge of futurity which was not
given to the sages, philosophers, and divines of more polished society.

"We pretend to it," said Hayraddin, "and it is with justice."

"How can it be that so high a gift is bestowed on so abject a race?"
said Quentin.

"Can I tell you?" answered Hayraddin.--"Yes, I may indeed, but it is
when you shall explain to me why the dog can trace the footsteps of a
man, while man, the nobler animal, hath not power to trace those of the
dog. These powers, which seem to you so wonderful, are instinctive in
our race. From the lines on the face and on the hand, we can tell the
future fate of those who consult us, even as surely as you know from the
blossom of the tree in spring what fruit it will bear in the harvest."

"I doubt of your knowledge, and defy you to the proof."

"Defy me not, Sir Squire," said Hayraddin Maugrabin. "I can tell you
that, say what you will of your religion, the Goddess whom you worship
rides in this company."

"Peace!" said Quentin, in astonishment, "on thy life, not a word
farther, but in answer to what I ask thee.--Canst thou be faithful?"

"I can--all men can," said the Bohemian.

"But wilt thou be faithful?"

"Wouldst thou believe me the more should I swear it?" answered
Maugrabin, with a sneer.

"Thy life is in my hand," said the young Scot.

"Strike, and see whether I fear to die," answered the Bohemian.

"Will money render thee a trusty guide?" demanded Durward.

"If I be not such without it, no," replied the heathen.

"Then what will bind thee?" asked the Scot.

"Kindness," replied the Bohemian.

"Shall I swear to show thee such, if thou art true guide to us on this
pilgrimage?"

"No," replied Hayraddin, "it were extravagant waste of a commodity so
rare. To thee I am bound already."

"How?" exclaimed Durward, more surprised than ever.

"Remember the chestnut trees on the banks of the Cher! The victim whose
body thou didst cut down was my brother, Zamet the Maugrabin."

"And yet," said Quentin, "I find you in correspondence with those very
officers by whom your brother was done to death, for it was one of
them who directed me where to meet with you--the same, doubtless, who
procured yonder ladies your services as a guide."

"What can we do?" answered Hayraddin, gloomily. "These men deal with us
as the sheepdogs do with the flock, they protect us for a while, drive
us hither and thither at their pleasure, and always end by guiding us to
the shambles."

Quentin had afterwards occasion to learn that the Bohemian spoke truth
in this particular, and that the Provost guard, employed to suppress
the vagabond bands by which the kingdom was infested, entertained
correspondence among them, and forbore, for a certain time, the exercise
of their duty, which always at last ended in conducting their allies
to the gallows. This is a sort of political relation between thief and
officer, for the profitable exercise of their mutual professions, which
has subsisted in all countries, and is by no means unknown to our own.

Durward, parting from the guide, fell back to the rest of the retinue,
very little satisfied with the character of Hayraddin, and entertaining
little confidence in the professions of gratitude which he had
personally made to him. He proceeded to sound the other two men who
had been assigned him for attendants, and he was concerned to find them
stupid and as unfit to assist him with counsel, as in the rencounter
they had shown themselves reluctant to use their weapons.

"It is all the better," said Quentin to himself, his spirit rising with
the apprehended difficulties of his situation, "that lovely young lady
shall owe all to me. What one hand--ay, and one head can do--methinks I
can boldly count upon. I have seen my father's house on fire, and he and
my brothers lying dead amongst the flames--I gave not an inch back, but
fought it out to the last. Now I am two years older, and have the best
and fairest cause to bear me well that ever kindled mettle within a
brave man's bosom."

Acting upon this resolution, the attention and activity which Quentin
bestowed during the journey had in it something that gave him the
appearance of ubiquity. His principal and most favourite post was of
course by the side of the ladies, who, sensible of his extreme attention
to their safety, began to converse with him in almost the tone of
familiar friendship, and appeared to take great pleasure in the naivete,
yet shrewdness, of his conversation. Yet Quentin did not suffer the
fascination of this intercourse to interfere with the vigilant discharge
of his duty.

If he was often by the side of the Countesses, labouring to describe to
the natives of a level country the Grampian mountains, and, above all,
the beauties of Glen Houlakin, he was as often riding with Hayraddin
in the front of the cavalcade, questioning him about the road and the
resting places, and recording his answers in his mind, to ascertain
whether upon cross examination he could discover anything like meditated
treachery. As often again he was in the rear, endeavouring to secure
the attachment of the two horsemen by kind words, gifts, and promises of
additional recompense, when their task should be accomplished.

In this way they travelled for more than a week, through bypaths and
unfrequented districts, and by circuitous routes, in order to avoid
large towns. Nothing remarkable occurred, though they now and then met
strolling gangs of Bohemians, who respected them, as under the conduct
of one of their tribe--straggling soldiers, or perhaps banditti,
Who deemed their party too strong to be attacked--or parties of the
Marechaussee [mounted police], as they would now be termed, whom Louis,
who searched the wounds of the land with steel and cautery, employed to
suppress the disorderly bands which infested the interior. These last
suffered them to pursue, their way unmolested by virtue of a password
with which Quentin had been furnished for that purpose by the King
himself.

Their resting places were chiefly the monasteries, most of which were
obliged by the rules of their foundation to receive pilgrims, under
which character the ladies travelled, with hospitality and without any
troublesome inquiries into their rank and character, which most persons
of distinction were desirous of concealing while in the discharge
of their vows. The pretence of weariness was usually employed by the
Countesses of Croye as an excuse for instantly retiring to rest, and
Quentin, as their majordomo, arranged all that was necessary betwixt
them and their entertainers, with a shrewdness which saved them all
trouble, and an alacrity that failed not to excite a corresponding
degree of good will on the part of those who were thus sedulously
attended to.

One circumstance gave Quentin peculiar trouble, which was the character
and nation of his guide, who, as a heathen and an infidel vagabond,
addicted besides to occult arts (the badge of all his tribe), was often
looked upon as a very improper guest for the holy resting places at
which the company usually halted, and was not in consequence admitted
within even the outer circuit of their walls, save with extreme
reluctance. This was very embarrassing, for, on the one hand, it was
necessary to keep in good humour a man who was possessed of the secret
of their expedition, and, on the other, Quentin deemed it indispensable
to maintain a vigilant though secret watch on Hayraddin's conduct, in
order that, as far as might be, he should hold no communication with
any one without being observed. This of course was impossible, if the
Bohemian was lodged without the precincts of the convent at which they
stopped, and Durward could not help thinking that Hayraddin was desirous
of bringing about this latter arrangement for, instead of keeping
himself still and quiet in the quarters allotted to him, his
conversation, tricks, and songs were at the same time so entertaining
to the novices and younger brethren, and so unedifying in the opinion of
the seniors of the fraternity, that, in more cases than one, it required
all the authority, supported by threats, which Quentin could exert over
him, to restrain his irreverent and untimeous jocularity, and all the
interest he could make with the Superiors, to prevent the heathen hound
from being thrust out of the doors. He succeeded, however, by the adroit
manner in which he apologized for the acts of indecorum committed by
their attendant, and the skill with which he hinted the hope of his
being brought to a better sense of principles and behaviour, by the
neighbourhood of holy relics, consecrated buildings, and, above all, of
men dedicated to religion.

But upon the tenth or twelfth day of their journey, after they had
entered Flanders, and were approaching the town of Namur, all the
efforts of Quentin became inadequate to suppress the consequences of the
scandal given by his heathen guide. The scene was a Franciscan convent,
and of a strict and reformed order, and the Prior a man who afterwards
died in the odour of sanctity. After rather more than the usual scruples
(which were indeed in such a case to be expected) had been surmounted,
the obnoxious Bohemian at length obtained quarters in an out house
inhabited by a lay brother, who acted as gardener. The ladies retired
to their apartment, as usual, and the Prior, who chanced to have some
distant alliances and friends in Scotland, and who was fond of hearing
foreigners tell of their native countries, invited Quentin, with whose
mien and conduct he seemed much pleased, to a slight monastic refection
in his own cell. Finding the Father a man of intelligence, Quentin did
not neglect the opportunity of making himself acquainted with the state
of affairs in the country of Liege, of which, during the last two
days of their journey, he had heard such reports as made him very
apprehensive for the security of his charge during the remainder of
their route, nay, even of the Bishop's power to protect them, when they
should be safely conducted to his residence. The replies of the Prior
were not very consolatory.

He said that the people of Liege were wealthy burghers, who, like
Jeshurun [a designation for Israel] of old, had waxed fat and
kicked--that they were uplifted in heart because of their wealth
and their privileges--that they had divers disputes with the Duke of
Burgundy, their liege lord, upon the subject of imports and immunities
and that they had repeatedly broken out into open mutiny, whereat the
Duke was so much incensed, as being a man of a hot and fiery nature,
that he had sworn, by Saint George, on the next provocation, he would
make the city of Liege like to the desolation of Babylon and the
downfall of Tyre, a hissing and a reproach to the whole territory of
Flanders.

[Babylon: taken by Cyrus in 538 B. C. See Revelation xviii, 21: "A
mighty angel took up a stone... and cast it into the sea, saying, Thus
with violence shall that great city Babylon be thrown down, and shall be
found no more."]

[Tyre: conquered by Alexander the Great in 332 B. C. "I will make thee
a terror, and thou shalt be no more... yet shalt thou never be found
again, saith the Lord God." Ezekiel xxvi, 21.]

"And he is a prince by all report likely to keep such a vow," said
Quentin, "so the men of Liege will probably beware how they give him
occasion."

"It were to be so hoped," said the Prior, "and such are the prayers of
the godly in the land, who would not that the blood of the citizens
were poured forth like water, and that they should perish, even as utter
castaways, ere they make their peace with Heaven. Also the good Bishop
labours night and day to preserve peace, as well becometh a servant
of the altar, for it is written in Holy Scripture, Beati pacifici.
But"--Here the good Prior stopped, with a deep sigh.

Quentin modestly urged the great importance of which it was to the
ladies whom he attended, to have some assured information respecting the
internal state of the country, and what an act of Christian charity it
would be, if the worthy and reverend Father would enlighten them upon
that subject.

"It is one," said the Prior, "on which no man speaks with willingness,
for those who speak evil of the powerful, etiam in cubiculo [even in the
bed chamber], may find that a winged thing shall carry the matter to his
ears. Nevertheless, to render you, who seem an ingenuous youth, and your
ladies, who are devout votaresses accomplishing a holy pilgrimage, the
little service that is in my power, I will be plain with you."

He then looked cautiously round and lowered his voice, as if afraid of
being overheard.

"The people of Liege," he said, "are privily instigated to their
frequent mutinies by men of Belial [in the Bible this term is used as
an appellative of Satan], who pretend, but, as I hope, falsely, to have
commission to that effect from our most Christian King, whom, however,
I hold to deserve that term better than were consistent with his thus
disturbing the peace of a neighbouring state. Yet so it is, that his
name is freely used by those who uphold and inflame the discontents at
Liege. There is, moreover, in the land, a nobleman of good descent, and
fame in warlike affairs, but otherwise, so to speak, Lapis offensionis
et petra scandali--and a stumbling block of offence to the countries of
Burgundy and Flanders. His name is William de la Marck."

"Called William with the Beard," said the young Scot, "or the Wild Boar
of Ardennes?"

"And rightly so called, my son," said the Prior, "because he is as the
wild boar of the forest, which treadeth down with his hoofs and rendeth
with his tusks. And he hath formed to himself a band of more than a
thousand men, all, like himself, contemners of civil and ecclesiastical
authority, and holds himself independent of the Duke of Burgundy, and
maintains himself and his followers by rapine and wrong, wrought without
distinction upon churchmen and laymen. Imposuit manus in Christos
Domini--he hath stretched forth his hand upon the anointed of the Lord,
regardless of what is written, 'Touch not mine anointed, and do my
prophets no wrong.'--Even to our poor house did he send for sums of
gold and sums of silver, as a ransom for our lives, and those of
our brethren, to which we returned a Latin supplication, stating our
inability to answer his demand, and exhorting him in the words of the
preacher, Ne moliaris amico tuo malum, cum habet in te fiduciam [devise
not evil against thy neighbour who dwelleth by thee in security].
Nevertheless, this Guilielmus Barbatus, this William de la Marck, as
completely ignorant of humane letters as of humanity itself, replied, in
his ridiculous jargon, Si non payatis, brulabo monasterium vestrum [if
you do not pay, I will burn your monastery. A similar story is told of
the Duke of Vendome, who answered in this sort of macaronic Latin the
classical expostulations of a German convent against the imposition of a
contribution. S.]."

"Of which rude Latin, however, you, my good father," said the youth,
"were at no loss to conceive the meaning?"

"Alas! my son," said the Prior, "Fear and Necessity are shrewd
interpreters, and we were obliged to melt down the silver vessels of our
altar to satisfy the rapacity of this cruel chief. May Heaven requite it
to him seven fold! Pereat improbus--Amen, amen, anathema esto! [let the
wicked perish. Let him be anathema! 'In pronouncing an anathema against
a person, the church excludes him from her communion; and he must, if he
continue obstinate, perish eternally.' Cent. Dict.]"

"I marvel," said Quentin, "that the Duke of Burgundy, who is so strong
and powerful, doth not bait this boar to purpose, of whose ravages I
have already heard so much."

"Alas! my son," said the Prior, "the Duke Charles is now at Peronne,
assembling his captains of hundreds and his captains of thousands, to
make war against France, and thus, while Heaven hath set discord between
the hearts of those great princes, the country is misused by such
subordinate oppressors. But it is in evil time that the Duke neglects
the cure of these internal gangrenes, for this William de la Marck hath
of late entertained open communication with Rouslaer and Pavillon, the
chiefs of the discontented at Liege, and it is to be feared he will soon
stir them up to some desperate enterprise."

"But the Bishop of Liege," said Quentin, "he hath still power enough to
subdue this disquieted and turbulent spirit--hath he not, good father?
Your answer to this question concerns me much."

"The Bishop, my child," replied the Prior, "hath the sword of Saint
Peter, as well as the keys. He hath power as a secular prince, and
he hath the protection of the mighty House of Burgundy, he hath also
spiritual authority as a prelate, and he supports both with a reasonable
force--of good soldiers and men at arms. This William de la Marck was
bred in his household, and bound to him by many benefits. But he gave
vent, even in the court of the Bishop, to his fierce and bloodthirsty
temper, and was expelled thence for a homicide committed on one of the
Bishop's chief domestics. From thenceforward, being banished from the
good Prelate's presence, he hath been his constant and unrelenting foe,
and now, I grieve to say, he hath girded his loins, and strengthened his
horn against him."

"You consider, then, the situation of the worthy Prelate as being
dangerous?" said Quentin, very, anxiously.

"Alas! my son," said the good Franciscan, "what or who is there in this
weary wilderness, whom we may not hold as in danger? But Heaven forefend
I should speak of the reverend Prelate as one whose peril is imminent.
He has much treasure, true counsellors, and brave soldiers, and,
moreover, a messenger who passed hither to the eastward yesterday saith
that the Duke of Burgundy hath dispatched, upon the Bishop's request,
an hundred men at arms to his assistance. This reinforcement, with the
retinue belonging to each lance, are enough to deal with William de la
Marck, on whose name be sorrow!--Amen."

At this crisis their conversation was interrupted by the Sacristan,
who, in a voice almost inarticulate with anger, accused the Bohemian of
having practised the most abominable arts of delusion among the younger
brethren. He had added to their nightly meal cups of a heady and
intoxicating cordial, of ten times the strength of the most powerful
wine, under which several of the fraternity had succumbed, and indeed,
although the Sacristan had been strong to resist its influence, they
might yet see, from his inflamed countenance and thick speech, that even
he, the accuser himself, was in some degree affected by this unhallowed
potation. Moreover, the Bohemian had sung songs of worldly vanity and
impure pleasures, he had derided the cord of Saint Francis, made jest of
his miracles, and termed his votaries fools and lazy knaves. Lastly, he
had practised palmistry, and foretold to the young Father Cherubin
that he was helped by a beautiful lady, who should make him father to a
thriving boy.

The Father Prior listened to these complaints for some time in silence,
as struck with mute horror by their enormous atrocity. When the
Sacristan had concluded, he rose up, descended to the court of the
convent, and ordered the lay brethren, on pain of the worst consequences
of spiritual disobedience, to beat Hayraddin out of the sacred precincts
with their broom staves and cart whips.

This sentence was executed accordingly, in the presence of Quentin
Durward, who, however vexed at the occurrence, easily saw that his
interference would be of no avail.

The discipline inflicted upon the delinquent, notwithstanding the
exhortations of the Superior, was more ludicrous than formidable. The
Bohemian ran hither and thither through the court, amongst the clamour
of voices, and noise of blows, some of which reached him not because
purposely misaimed, others, sincerely designed for his person, were
eluded by his activity, and the few that fell upon his back and
shoulders he took without either complaint or reply. The noise and
riot was the greater, that the inexperienced cudgel players, among whom
Hayraddin ran the gauntlet, hit each other more frequently than they
did him, till at length, desirous of ending a scene which was more
scandalous than edifying, the Prior commanded the wicket to be flung
open, and the Bohemian, darting through it with the speed of lightning,
fled forth into the moonlight. During this scene, a suspicion which
Durward had formerly entertained, recurred with additional strength.
Hayraddin had, that very morning, promised to him more modest and
discreet behaviour than he was wont to exhibit, when they rested in a
convent on their journey, yet he had broken his engagement, and had been
even more offensively obstreperous than usual. Something probably lurked
under this, for whatever were the Bohemian's deficiencies, he lacked
neither sense, nor, when he pleased, self command, and might it not be
probable that he wished to hold some communication, either with, his own
horde or some one else, from which he was debarred in the course of
the day by the vigilance with which he was watched by Quentin, and had
recourse to this stratagem in order to get himself turned out of the
convent?

No sooner did this suspicion dart once more through Quentin's mind,
than, alert as he always was in his motions, he resolved to follow his
cudgelled guide, and observe (secretly if possible) how he disposed of
himself. Accordingly, when the Bohemian fled, as already mentioned, out
at the gate of the convent, Quentin, hastily explaining to the Prior the
necessity of keeping sight of his guide, followed in pursuit of him.



CHAPTER XVII: THE ESPIED SPY

     What, the rude ranger? and spied spy?--hands off--
     You are for no such rustics.

     BEN JONSON'S TALE OF ROBIN HOOD


When Quentin sallied from the convent, he could mark the precipitate
retreat of the Bohemian, whose dark figure was seen in the far moonlight
flying with the speed of a flogged hound quite through the street of the
little village, and across the level meadow that lay beyond.

"My friend runs fast," said Quentin to himself, "but he must run faster
yet, to escape the fleetest foot that ever pressed the heather of Glen
Houlakin!"

Being fortunately without his cloak and armour, the Scottish mountaineer
was at liberty to put forth a speed which was unrivalled in his own
glens, and which, notwithstanding the rate at which the Bohemian ran,
was likely soon to bring his pursuer up with him. This was not,
however, Quentin's object, for he considered it more essential to watch
Hayraddin's motions, than to interrupt them. He was the rather led to
this by the steadiness with which the Bohemian directed his course, and
which, continuing even after the impulse of the violent expulsion had
subsided, seemed to indicate that his career had some more certain goal
for its object than could have suggested itself to a person unexpectedly
turned out of good quarters when midnight was approaching, to seek a
new place of repose. He never even looked behind him, and consequently
Durward was enabled to follow him unobserved. At length, the Bohemian
having traversed the meadow and attained the side of a little stream,
the banks of which were clothed with alders and willows, Quentin
observed that he stood still, and blew a low note on his horn, which was
answered by a whistle at some little distance.

"This is a rendezvous," thought Quentin, "but how shall I come near
enough to overhear the import of what passes? The sound of my steps, and
the rustling of the boughs through which I must force my passage, will
betray me, unless I am cautious--I will stalk them, by Saint Andrew,
as if they were Glen Isla deer--they shall learn that I have not conned
woodcraft for naught. Yonder they meet, the two shadows--and two of them
there are--odds against me if I am discovered, and if their purpose be
unfriendly, as is much to be doubted. And then the Countess Isabelle
loses her poor friend--Well, and he were not worthy to be called such,
if he were not ready to meet a dozen in her behalf. Have I not crossed
swords with Dunois, the best knight in France, and shall I fear a tribe
of yonder vagabonds? Pshaw!--God and Saint Andrew to friend, they will
find me both stout and wary."

Thus resolving, and with a degree of caution taught him by his silvan
habits, our friend descended into the channel of the little stream,
which varied in depth, sometimes scarce covering his shoes, sometimes
coming up to his knees, and so crept along, his form concealed by the
boughs overhanging the bank, and his steps unheard amid the ripple of
the water. (We have ourselves, in the days of yore, thus approached
the nest of the wakeful raven.) In this manner the Scot drew near
unperceived, until he distinctly heard the voices of those who were the
subject of his observation, though he could not distinguish the words.
Being at this time under the drooping branches of a magnificent weeping
willow, which almost swept the surface of the water, he caught hold of
one of its boughs, by the assistance of which, exerting at once much
agility, dexterity, and strength, he raised himself up into the body of
the tree, and sat, secure from discovery, among the central branches.

From this situation he could discover that the person with whom
Hayraddin was now conversing was one of his own tribe, and at the same
time he perceived, to his great disappointment, that no approximation
could enable him to comprehend their language, which was totally unknown
to him. They laughed much, and as Hayraddin made a sign of skipping
about, and ended by rubbing his shoulder with his hand, Durward had no
doubt that he was relating the story of the bastinading which he had
sustained previous to his escape from the convent.

On a sudden, a whistle was again heard in the distance, which was
once more answered by a low tone or two of Hayraddin's horn. Presently
afterwards, a tall, stout, soldierly looking man, a strong contrast in
point of thews and sinews to the small and slender limbed Bohemians,
made his appearance. He had a broad baldric over his shoulder, which
sustained a sword that hung almost across his person, his hose were much
slashed, through which slashes was drawn silk, or tiffany, of various
colours, they were tied by at least five hundred points or strings, made
of ribbon, to the tight buff jacket which he wore, the right sleeve of
which displayed a silver boar's head, the crest of his Captain. A very
small hat sat jauntily on one side of his head, from which descended a
quantity of curled hair, which fell on each side of a broad face, and
mingled with as broad a beard, about four inches long. He held a long
lance in his hand, and his whole equipment was that of one of the German
adventurers, who were known by the name of lanzknechts, in English,
spearmen, who constituted a formidable part of the infantry of the
period. These mercenaries were, of course, a fierce and rapacious
soldiery, and having an idle tale current among themselves, that a
lanzknecht was refused admittance into heaven on account of his
vices, and into hell on the score of his tumultuous, mutinous, and
insubordinate disposition, they manfully acted as if they neither sought
the one nor eschewed the other.

"Donner and blitz! [thunder and lightning!]" was his first salutation,
in a sort of German French, which we can only imperfectly imitate, "Why
have you kept me dancing in attendance dis dree nights?"

"I could not see you sooner, Meinherr," said Hayraddin, very
submissively, "there is a young Scot, with as quick an eye as the
wildcat, who watches my least motions. He suspects me already, and,
should he find his suspicion confirmed, I were a dead man on the spot,
and he would carry back the women into France again."

"Was henker! [what the deuce!]" said the lanzknecht, "we are three--we
will attack them tomorrow, and carry the women off without going
farther. You said the two valets were cowards--you and your comrade may
manage them, and the Teufel [the devil] shall hold me, but I match your
Scots wildcat."

"You will find that foolhardy," said Hayraddin, "for besides that we
ourselves count not much in fighting, this spark hath matched himself
with the best knight in France, and come off with honour--I have seen
those who saw him press Dunois hard enough."

"Hagel and sturmwetter! [hail and stormy weather!] It is but your
cowardice that speaks," said the German soldier.

"I am no more a coward than yourself," said Hayraddin "but my trade
is not fighting.--If you keep the appointment where it was laid, it is
well--if not, I guide them safely to the Bishop's Palace, and William de
la Marck may easily possess himself of them there, provided he is half
as strong as he pretended a week since."

"Poz tausend! [Zounds!]" said the soldier, "we are as strong and
stronger, but we hear of a hundreds of the lances of Burgund,--das ist,
see you,--five men to a lance do make five hundreds, and then hold me
the devil, they will be fainer to seek for us, than we to seek for them,
for der Bischoff hath a goot force on footing--ay, indeed!"

"You must then hold to the ambuscade at the Cross of the Three Kings, or
give up the adventure," said the Bohemian.

"Geb up--geb up the adventure of the rich bride for our noble hauptman
[leader or captain]--Teufel! I will charge through hell first.--Mein
soul, we will be all princes and hertzogs, whom they call dukes, and
we will hab a snab at the wein kellar [wine cellar], and at the mouldy
French crowns, and it may be at the pretty garces too [meaning the
countesses], when He with de beard is weary on them."

"The ambuscade at the Cross of the Three Kings then still holds?" said
the Bohemian.

"Mein Gob ay,--you will swear to bring them there, and when they are on
their knees before the cross, and down from off their horses, which all
men do, except such black heathens as thou, we will make in on them and
they are ours."

"Ay, but I promised this piece of necessary villainy only on one
condition," said Hayraddin.--"I will not have a hair of the young
man's head touched. If you swear this to me, by your Three Dead Men of
Cologne, I will swear to you, by the Seven Night Walkers, that I will
serve you truly as to the rest. And if you break your oath, the Night
Walkers shall wake you seven nights from your sleep, between night and
morning, and, on the eighth, they shall strangle and devour you."

"But donner and bagel, what need you be so curious about the life of
this boy, who is neither your bloot nor kin?" said the German.

"No matter for that, honest Heinrick, some men have pleasure in cutting
throats, some in keeping them whole.--So swear to me, that you will
spare him life and limb, or by the bright star Aldebaran, this matter
shall go no farther.--Swear, and by the Three Kings, as you call them,
of Cologne--I know you care for no other oath."

"Du bist ein comische man [thou art a droll fellow]," said the
lanzknecht, "I swear."

"Not yet," said the Bohemian. "Face about, brave lanzknecht, and look to
the east, else the Kings may not hear you."

The soldier took the oath in the manner prescribed, and then declared
that he would be in readiness, observing the place was quite convenient,
being scarce five miles from their present leaguer.

"But were it not making sure work to have a fahnlein [a regiment or
company] of riders on the other road, by the left side of the inn, which
might trap them if they go that way?"

The Bohemian considered a moment, and then answered. "No--the appearance
of their troops in that direction might alarm the garrison of Namur,
and then they would have a doubtful fight, instead of assured success.
Besides, they shall travel on the right bank of the Maes, for I can
guide them which way I will, for sharp as this same Scottish mountaineer
is, he hath never asked any one's advice, save mine, upon the direction
of their route. Undoubtedly, I was assigned to him by an assured friend,
whose word no man mistrusts till they come to know him a little."

"Hark ye, friend Hayraddin," said the soldier, "I would ask you
somewhat. You and your bruder were, as you say yourself, gross sternen
deuter, that is, star lookers and geister seers [seers of ghosts]. Now,
what henker was it made you not foresee him, your bruder Zamet, to be
hanged?"

"I will tell you, Heinrick," said Hayraddin, "if I could have known my
brother was such a fool as to tell the counsel of King Louis to Duke
Charles of Burgundy, I could have foretold his death as sure as I can
foretell fair weather in July. Louis hath both ears and hands at the
Court of Burgundy, and Charles's counsellors love the chink of French
gold as well as thou dost the clatter of a wine pot.--But fare thee
well, and keep appointment--I must await my early Scot a bow shot
without the gate of the den of the lazy swine yonder, else will he
think me about some excursion which bodes no good to the success of his
journey."

"Take a draught of comfort first," said the lanzknecht, tendering him a
flask--"but I forget, thou art beast enough to drink nothing but water,
like a vile vassal of Mahound and Termagund [the name of the god of the
Saracens in medieaval romances where he is linked with Mahound]."

"Thou art thyself a vassal of the wine measure and the flagon," said the
Bohemian. "I marvel not that thou art only trusted with the bloodthirsty
and violent part of executing what better heads have devised.--He must
drink no wine who would know the thoughts of others, or hide his own.
But why preach to thee, who hast a thirst as eternal as a sand bank in
Arabia?

"Fare thee well. Take my comrade Tuisco with thee--his appearance about
the monastery may breed suspicion."

The two worthies parted, after each had again pledged himself to keep
the rendezvous at the Cross of the Three Kings. Quentin Durward watched
until they were out of sight, and then descended from his place of
concealment, his heart throbbing at the narrow escape which he and his
fair charge had made--if, indeed, it could yet be achieved--from a
deep laid plan of villainy. Afraid, on his return to the monastery,
of stumbling upon Hayraddin, he made a long detour, at the expense of
traversing some very rough ground, and was thus enabled to return to his
asylum on a different point from that by which he left it.

On the route, he communed earnestly with himself concerning the safest
plan to be pursued. He had formed the resolution, when he first heard
Hayraddin avow his treachery, to put him to death so soon as the
conference broke up, and his companions were at a sufficient distance,
but when he heard the Bohemian express so much interest in saving his
own life, he felt it would be ungrateful to execute upon him, in its
rigour, the punishment his treachery had deserved. He therefore resolved
to spare his life, and even, if possible, still to use his services as
a guide, under such precautions as should ensure the security of
the precious charge, to the preservation of which his own life was
internally devoted.

But whither were they to turn?--The Countesses of Croye could neither
obtain shelter in Burgundy, from which they had fled, nor in France,
from which they had been in a manner expelled. The violence of Duke
Charles, in the one country, was scarcely more to be feared than the
cold and tyrannical policy of King Louis in the other. After deep
thought, Durward could form no better or safer plan for their security,
than that, evading the ambuscade, they should take the road to Liege
by the left hand of the Maes, and throw themselves, as the ladies
originally designed, upon the protection of the excellent Bishop. That
Prelate's will to protect them could not be doubted, and, if reinforced
by this Burgundian party of men at arms, he might be considered as
having the power. At any rate, if the dangers to which he was exposed
from the hostility of William de la Marck, and from the troubles in the
city of Liege, appeared imminent, he would still be able to protect
the unfortunate ladies until they could be dispatched to Germany with a
suitable escort.

To sum up this reasoning--for when is a mental argument conducted
without some reference to selfish consideration?--Quentin imagined that
the death or captivity to which King Louis had, in cold blood, consigned
him, set him at liberty from his engagements to the crown of France:
which, therefore, it was his determined purpose to renounce, The Bishop
of Liege was likely, he concluded, to need soldiers, and he thought
that, by the interposition of his fair friends, who now, especially the
elder Countess, treated him with much familiarity, he might get some
command, and perhaps might have the charge of conducting the Ladies of
Croye to some place more safe than the neighbourhood of Liege. And, to
conclude, the ladies had talked, although almost in a sort of jest, of
raising the Countess's own vassals, and, as others did in those stormy
times, fortifying her strong castle against all assailants whatever,
they had jestingly asked Quentin whether he would accept the perilous
office of their Seneschal, and, on his embracing the office with ready
glee and devotion, they had, in the same spirit, permitted him to kiss
both their hands on that confidential and honourable appointment. Nay,
he thought that the hand of the Countess Isabelle, one of the best
formed and most beautiful to which true vassal ever did such homage,
trembled when his lips rested on it a moment longer than ceremony
required, and that some confusion appeared on her cheek and in her eye
as she withdrew it. Something might come of all this, and what brave
man, at Quentin Durward's age, but would gladly have taken the thoughts
which it awakened, into the considerations which were to determine his
conduct?

This point settled, he had next to consider in what degree he was to
use the farther guidance of the faithless Bohemian. He had renounced his
first thought of killing him in the wood, and, if he took another guide,
and dismissed him alive, it would be sending the traitor to the camp of
William de la Marck, with intelligence of their motions. He thought of
taking the Prior into his counsels, and requesting him to detain the
Bohemian by force, until they should have time to reach the Bishop's
castle, but, on reflection, he dared not hazard such a proposition to
one who was timid both as an old man and a friar, who held the safety of
his convent the most important object of his duty, and who trembled at
the mention of the Wild Boar of Ardennes.

At length Durward settled a plan of operation on which he could the
better reckon, as the execution rested entirely upon himself, and,
in the cause in which he was engaged, he felt himself capable of
everything. With a firm and bold heart, though conscious of the dangers
of his situation, Quentin might be compared to one walking under a load,
of the weight of which he is conscious, but which yet is not beyond his
strength and power of endurance. Just as his plan was determined, he
reached the convent.

Upon knocking gently at the gate, a brother, considerately stationed
for that purpose by the Prior, opened it, and acquainted him that the
brethren were to be engaged in the choir till daybreak, praying Heaven
to forgive to the community the various scandals which had that evening
taken place among them.

The worthy friar offered Quentin permission to attend their devotions,
but his clothes were in such a wet condition that the young Scot was
obliged to decline the opportunity, and request permission, instead,
to sit by the kitchen fire, in order to his attire being dried before
morning, as he was particularly desirous that the Bohemian, when they
should next meet, should observe no traces of his having been abroad
during the night. The friar not only granted his request, but afforded
him his own company, which fell in very happily with the desire which
Durward had to obtain information concerning the two routes which he had
heard mentioned by the Bohemian in his conversation with the lanzknecht.
The friar, entrusted upon many occasions with the business of the
convent abroad, was the person in the fraternity best qualified to
afford him the information he requested, but observed that, as true
pilgrims, it became the duty of the ladies whom Quentin escorted, to
take the road on the right side of the Maes, by the Cross of the Kings,
where the blessed relics of Caspar, Melchior, and Balthasar (as the
Catholic Church has named the eastern Magi who came to Bethlehem with
their offerings) had rested as they were transported to Cologne, and on
which spot they had wrought many miracles.

Quentin replied that the ladies were determined to observe all the holy
stations with the utmost punctuality, and would certainly visit that
of the Cross, either in going to or from Cologne, but they had heard
reports that the road by the right side of the river was at present
rendered unsafe by the soldiers of the ferocious William de la Marck.

"Now may Heaven forbid," said Father Francis, "that the Wild Boar of
Ardennes should again make his lair so near us!--Nevertheless, the broad
Maes will be a good barrier betwixt us, even should it so chance."

"But it will be no barrier between my ladies and the marauder, should we
cross the river, and travel on the right," answered the Scot.

"Heaven will protect its own, young man," said the friar, "for it were
hard to think that the Kings of yonder blessed city of Cologne, who will
not endure that a Jew or infidel should even enter within the walls
of their town, could be oblivious enough to permit their worshippers,
coming to their shrine as true pilgrims, to be plundered and misused by
such a miscreant dog as this Boar of Ardennes, who is worse than a whole
desert of Saracen heathens, and all the ten tribes of Israel to boot."

Whatever reliance Quentin, as a sincere Catholic, was bound to rest upon
the special protection of Melchior, Caspar, and Balthasar, he could not
but recollect that the pilgrim habits of the ladies being assumed out
of mere earthly policy, he and his charge could scarcely expect their
countenance on the present occasion, and therefore resolved, as far
as possible, to avoid placing the ladies in any predicament where
miraculous interposition might be necessary, whilst, in the simplicity
of his good faith, he himself vowed a pilgrimage to the Three Kings of
Cologne in his own proper person, provided the simulate design of those
over whose safety he was now watching, should be permitted by those
reasonable and royal, as well as sainted personages, to attain the
desired effect.

That he might enter into this obligation with all solemnity, he
requested the friar to show him into one of the various chapels which
opened from the main body of the church of the convent, where, upon his
knees, and with sincere devotion, he ratified the vow which he had made
internally. The distant sound of the choir, the solemnity of the deep
and dead hour which he had chosen for this act of devotion, the effect
of the glimmering lamp with which the little Gothic building was
illuminated--all contributed to throw Quentin's mind into the state
when it most readily acknowledges its human frailty, and seeks that
supernatural aid and protection which, in every worship, must be
connected with repentance for past sins and resolutions of future
amendment. That the object of his devotion was misplaced, was not the
fault of Quentin, and, its purpose being sincere, we can scarce suppose
it unacceptable to the only true Deity, who regards the motives, and not
the forms of prayer, and in whose eyes the sincere devotion of a heathen
is more estimable than the specious hypocrisy of a Pharisee.

Having commended himself and his helpless companions to the Saints, and
to the keeping of Providence, Quentin at length retired to rest, leaving
the friar much edified by the depth and sincerity of his devotion.



CHAPTER XVIII: PALMISTRY

     When many a many tale and many a song
     Cheer'd the rough road, we wish'd the rough road long.
     The rough road, then, returning in a round,
     Mock'd our enchanted steps, for all was fairy ground.

     SAMUEL JOHNSON


By peep of day Quentin Durward had forsaken his little cell, had roused
the sleepy grooms, and, with more than his wonted care, seen that
everything was prepared for the day's journey. Girths and bridles, the
horse furniture, and the shoes of the horses themselves, were carefully
inspected with his own eyes, that there might be as little chance as
possible of the occurrence of any of those casualties, which, petty as
they seem, often interrupt or disconcert travelling. The horses were
also, under his own inspection, carefully fed, so as to render them fit
for a long day's journey, or, if that should be necessary, for a hasty
flight.

Quentin then betook himself to his own chamber, armed himself with
unusual care, and belted on his sword with the feeling at once of
approaching danger, and of stern determination to dare it to the
uttermost.

These generous feelings gave him a loftiness of step, and a dignity of
manner, which the Ladies of Croye had not yet observed in him, though
they had been highly pleased and interested by the grace, yet naivete,
of his general behaviour and conversation, and the mixture of shrewd
intelligence which naturally belonged to him, with the simplicity
arising from his secluded education and distant country. He let them
understand that it would be necessary that they should prepare for their
journey this morning rather earlier than usual, and, accordingly, they
left the convent immediately after a morning repast, for which, as well
as the other hospitalities of the House, the ladies made acknowledgment
by a donation to the altar, befitting rather their rank than their
appearance. But this excited no suspicion, as they were supposed to be
Englishwomen, and the attribute of superior wealth attached at that time
to the insular character as strongly as in our own day.

The Prior blessed them as they mounted to depart, and congratulated
Quentin on the absence of his heathen guide.

"For," said the venerable man, "better stumble in the path than be
upheld by the arm of a thief or robber."

Quentin was not quite of his opinion, for, dangerous as he knew the
Bohemian to be, he thought he could use his services, and, at the same
time, baffle his treasonable purpose, now that he saw clearly to what
it tended. But his anxiety upon this subject was soon at an end, for
the little cavalcade was not an hundred yards from the monastery and the
village before Maugrabin joined it, riding as usual on his little active
and wild looking jennet. Their road led them along the side of the
same brook where Quentin had overheard the mysterious conference the
preceding evening, and Hayraddin had not long rejoined them, ere they
passed under the very willow tree which had afforded Durward the means
of concealment, when he became an unsuspected hearer of what then passed
betwixt that false guide and the lanzknecht.

The recollections which the spot brought back stirred Quentin to enter
abruptly into conversation with his guide, whom hitherto he had scarce
spoken to.

"Where hast thou found night quarter, thou profane knave?" said the
Scot.

"Your wisdom may guess, by looking on my gaberdine," answered the
Bohemian, pointing to his dress, which was covered with seeds of hay.

"A good haystack," said Quentin, "is a convenient bed for an astrologer,
and a much better than a heathen scoffer at our blessed religion and its
ministers, ever deserves."

"It suited my Klepper better than me, though," said Hayraddin, patting
his horse on the neck, "for he had food and shelter at the same time.
The old bald fools turned him loose, as if a wise man's horse could
have infected with wit or sagacity a whole convent of asses. Lucky that
Klepper knows my whistle, and follows me as truly as a hound, or we had
never met again, and you in your turn might have whistled for a guide."

"I have told thee more than once," said Durward, sternly, "to restrain
thy ribaldry when thou chancest to be in worthy men's company, a thing,
which, I believe, hath rarely happened to thee in thy life before now,
and I promise thee, that did I hold thee as faithless a guide as I
esteem thee a blasphemous and worthless caitiff, my Scottish dirk and
thy heathenish heart had ere now been acquainted, although the doing
such a deed were as ignoble as the sticking of swine."

"A wild boar is near akin to a sow," said the Bohemian, without
flinching from the sharp look with which Quentin regarded him, or
altering, in the slightest degree, the caustic indifference which he
affected in his language, "and many men," he subjoined, "find both
pride, pleasure, and profit, in sticking them."

Astonished at the man's ready confidence, and uncertain whether he did
not know more of his own history and feelings than was pleasant for
him to converse upon, Quentin broke off a conversation in which he had
gained no advantage over Maugrabin, and fell back to his accustomed post
beside the ladies.

We have already observed that a considerable degree of familiarity had
begun to establish itself between them. The elder Countess treated him
(being once well assured of the nobility of his birth) like a favoured
equal, and though her niece showed her regard to their protector less
freely, yet, under every disadvantage of bashfulness and timidity,
Quentin thought he could plainly perceive that his company and
conversation were not by any means indifferent to her.

Nothing gives such life and soul to youthful gaiety as the consciousness
that it is successfully received, and Quentin had accordingly, during
the former period of their journey, amused his fair charge with the
liveliness of his conversation and the songs and tales of his country,
the former of which he sang in his native language, while his efforts to
render the latter into his foreign and imperfect French, gave rise to
a hundred little mistakes and errors of speech, as diverting as the
narratives themselves. But on this anxious morning, he rode beside the
Ladies of Croye without any of his usual attempts to amuse them, and
they could not help observing his silence as something remarkable.

"Our young companion has seen a wolf," said the Lady Hameline, alluding
to an ancient superstition, "and he has lost his tongue in consequence."

[Vox quoque Moerim Jam fugit ipsa; lupi Moerim videre priores. Virgilii
ix. Ecloga. The commentators add, in explanation of this passage, the
opinion of Pliny: "The being beheld by a wolf in Italy is accounted
noxious, and is supposed to take away the speech of a man, if these
animals behold him ere he sees them." S.]

"To say I had tracked a fox were nearer the mark," thought Quentin, but
gave the reply no utterance.

"Are you well, Seignior Quentin?" said the Countess Isabelle, in a tone
of interest at which she herself blushed, while she felt that it was
something more than the distance between them warranted.

"He hath sat up carousing with the jolly friars," said the Lady
Hameline, "the Scots are like the Germans, who spend all their mirth
over the Rheinwein, and bring only their staggering steps to the dance
in the evening, and their aching heads to the ladies' bower in the
morning."

"Nay, gentle ladies," said Quentin, "I deserve not your reproach. The
good friars were at their devotions almost all night, and for myself, my
drink was barely a cup of their thinnest and most ordinary wine."

"It is the badness of his fare that has put him out of humour," said the
Countess Isabelle. "Cheer up, Seignior Quentin, and should we ever visit
my ancient Castle of Bracquemont together, if I myself should stand your
cup bearer, and hand it to you, you shall have a generous cup of wine,
that the like never grew upon the vines of Hochheim or Johannisberg."

"A glass of water, noble lady, from your hand,"--Thus far did Quentin
begin, but his voice trembled, and Isabelle continued, as if she had
been insensible of the tenderness of the accentuation upon the personal
pronoun.

"The wine was stocked in the deep vaults of Bracquemont, by my great
grandfather the Rhinegrave Godfrey," said the Countess Isabelle.

"Who won the hand of her great grandmother," interjected the Lady
Hameline, interrupting her niece, "by proving himself the best son of
chivalry, at the great tournament of Strasbourg--ten knights were slain
in the lists. But those days are now over, and no one now thinks of
encountering peril for the sake of honour, or to relieve distressed
beauty."

To this speech, which was made in the tone in which a modern beauty,
whose charms are rather on the wane, may be heard to condemn the
rudeness of the present age, Quentin took upon him to reply that there
was no lack of that chivalry which the Lady Hameline seemed to consider
as extinct, and that, were it eclipsed everywhere else, it would still
glow in the bosoms of the Scottish gentlemen.

"Hear him!" said the Lady Hameline, "he would have us believe that in
his cold and bleak country still lives the noble fire which has decayed
in France and Germany! The poor youth is like a Swiss mountaineer, mad
with partiality to his native land--he will next tell us of the vines
and olives of Scotland."

"No, madam," said Durward, "of the wine and the oil of our mountains
I can say little more than that our swords can compel these rich
productions as tribute from our wealthier neighbours. But for the
unblemished faith and unfaded honour of Scotland, I must now put to the
proof how far you can repose trust in them, however mean the individual
who can offer nothing more as a pledge of your safety."

"You speak mysteriously--you know of some pressing and present danger,"
said the Lady Hameline.

"I have read it in his eye for this hour past!" exclaimed the Lady
Isabelle, clasping her hands. "Sacred Virgin, what will become of us?"

"Nothing, I hope, but what you would desire," answered Durward. "And now
I am compelled to ask--gentle ladies, can you trust me?"

"Trust you?" answered the Countess Hameline. "Certainly. But why the
question? Or how far do you ask our confidence?"

"I, on my part," said the Countess Isabelle, "trust you implicitly, and
without condition. If you can deceive us, Quentin, I will no more look
for truth, save in Heaven!"

"Gentle lady," replied Durward, highly gratified, "you do me but
justice. My object is to alter our route, by proceeding directly by
the left bank of the Maes to Liege, instead of crossing at Namur. This
differs from the order assigned by King Louis and the instructions given
to the guide. But I heard news in the monastery of marauders on the
right bank of the Maes, and of the march of Burgundian soldiers to
suppress them. Both circumstances alarm me for your safety. Have I your
permission so far to deviate from the route of your journey?"

"My ample and full permission," answered the younger lady.

"Cousin," said the Lady Hameline, "I believe with you that the youth
means us well--but bethink you--we transgress the instructions of King
Louis, so positively iterated."

"And why should we regard his instructions?" said the Lady Isabelle. "I
am, I thank Heaven for it, no subject of his, and, as a suppliant, he
has abused the confidence he induced me to repose in him. I would not
dishonour this young gentleman by weighing his word for an instant
against the injunctions of yonder crafty and selfish despot."

"Now, may God bless you for that very word, lady," said Quentin,
joyously, "and if I deserve not the trust it expresses, tearing with
wild horses in this life and eternal tortures in the next were e'en too
good for my deserts."

So saying, he spurred his horse, and rejoined the Bohemian. This worthy
seemed of a remarkably passive, if not a forgiving temper. Injury or
threat never dwelt, or at least seemed not to dwell in his recollection,
and he entered into the conversation which Durward presently commenced,
just as if there had been no unkindly word betwixt them in the course of
the morning.

The dog, thought the Scot, snarls not now, because he intends to clear
scores with me at once and for ever, when he can snatch me by the very
throat, but we will try for once whether we cannot foil a traitor at his
own weapons.

"Honest Hayraddin," he said, "thou hast travelled with us for ten days,
yet hast never shown us a specimen of your skill in fortune telling,
which you are, nevertheless, so fond of practising that you must needs
display your gifts in every convent at which we stop, at the risk of
being repaid by a night's lodging under a haystack."

"You have never asked me for a specimen of my skill," said the gipsy.
"You are, like the rest of the world, contented to ridicule those
mysteries which they do not understand."

"Give me then a present proof of your skill," said Quentin and,
ungloving his hand, he held it out to the gipsy.

Hayraddin carefully regarded all the lines which crossed each other on
the Scotchman's palm, and noted, with equally Scrupulous attention, the
little risings or swellings at the roots of the fingers, which were
then believed as intimately connected with the disposition, habits, and
fortunes of the individual, as the organs of the brain are pretended to
be in our own time.

"Here is a hand," said Hayraddin, "which speaks of toils endured, and
dangers encountered. I read in it an early acquaintance with the hilt
of the sword, and yet some acquaintance also with the clasps of the mass
book."

"This of my past life you may have learned elsewhere," said Quentin,
"tell me something of the future."

"This line from the hill of Venus," said the Bohemian, "not broken off
abruptly, but attending and accompanying the line of life, argues a
certain and large fortune by marriage, whereby the party shall be raised
among the wealthy and the noble by the influence of successful love."

"Such promises you make to all who ask your advice," said Quentin, "they
are part of your art."

"What I tell you is as certain," said Hayraddin, "as that you shall
in brief space be menaced with mighty danger, which I infer from
this bright blood red line cutting the table line transversely, and
intimating stroke of sword, or other violence, from which you shall only
be saved by the attachment of a faithful friend."

"Thyself, ha?" said Quentin, somewhat indignant that the chiromantist
should thus practise on his credulity, and endeavour to found a
reputation by predicting the consequences of his own treachery.

"My art," replied the Zingaro, "tells me naught that concerns myself."

"In this, then, the seers of my land," said Quentin, "excel your boasted
knowledge, for their skill teaches them the dangers by which they are
themselves beset. I left not my hills without having felt a portion of
the double vision with which their inhabitants are gifted, and I will
give thee a proof of it, in exchange for thy specimen of palmistry.
Hayraddin, the danger which threatens me lies on the right bank of the
river--I will avoid it by travelling to Liege on the left bank."

The guide listened with an apathy, which, knowing the circumstances in
which Maugrabin stood, Quentin could not by any means comprehend.

"If you accomplish your purpose," was the Bohemian's reply, "the
dangerous crisis will be transferred from your lot to mine."

"I thought," said Quentin, "that you said but now, that you could not
presage your own fortune?"

"Not in the manner in which I have but now told you yours," answered
Hayraddin, "but it requires little knowledge of Louis of Valois, to
presage that he will hang your guide, because your pleasure was to
deviate from the road which he recommended."

"The attaining with safety the purpose of the journey, and ensuring its
happy termination," said Quentin, "must atone for a deviation from the
exact line of the prescribed route."

"Ay," replied the Bohemian, "if you are sure that the King had in his
own eye the same termination of the pilgrimage which he insinuated to
you."

"And of what other termination is it possible that he could have been
meditating? or why should you suppose he had any purpose in his thought,
other than was avowed in his direction?" inquired Quentin.

"Simply," replied the Zingaro, "that those who know aught of the Most
Christian King, are aware that the purpose about which he is most
anxious, is always that which he is least willing to declare. Let our
gracious Louis send twelve embassies, and I will forfeit my neck to
the gallows a year before it is due, if in eleven of them there is not
something at the bottom of the ink horn more than the pen has written in
the letters of credence."

"I regard not your foul suspicions," answered Quentin, "my duty is plain
and peremptory--to convey these ladies in safety to Liege, and I take
it on me to think that I best discharge that duty in changing our
prescribed route, and keeping the left side of the river Maes. It is
likewise the direct road to Liege. By crossing the river, we should lose
time and incur fatigue to no purpose--wherefore should we do so?"

"Only because pilgrims, as they call themselves, destined for Cologne,"
said Hayraddin, "do not usually descend the Maes so low as Liege, and
that the route of the ladies will be accounted contradictory of their
professed destination."

"If we are challenged on that account," said Quentin, "we will say that
alarms of the wicked Duke of Gueldres, or of William de la Marck, or of
the Ecorcheurs [flayers; a name given to bands of wandering troops on
account of their cruelty] and lanzknechts, on the right side of the
river, justify our holding by the left, instead of our intended route."

"As you will, my good seignior," replied the Bohemian. "I am, for my
part, equally ready to guide you down the left as down the right side of
the Maes. Your excuse to your master you must make out for yourself."

Quentin, although rather surprised, was at the same time pleased with
the ready, or at least the unrepugnant acquiescence of Hayraddin in
their change of route, for he needed his assistance as a guide, and yet
had feared that the disconcerting of his intended act of treachery would
have driven him to extremity. Besides, to expel the Bohemian from their
society would have been the ready mode to bring down William de la
Marck, with whom he was in correspondence, upon their intended route,
whereas, if Hayraddin remained with them Quentin thought he could manage
to prevent the Moor from having any communication with strangers unless
he was himself aware of it.

Abandoning, therefore, all thoughts of their original route, the little
party followed that by the left bank of the broad Maes, so speedily and
successfully that the next day early brought them to the proposed end of
their journey. They found that the Bishop of Liege, for the sake of
his health, as he himself alleged, but rather, perhaps, to avoid being
surprised by the numerous and mutinous population of the city, had
established his residence in his beautiful Castle of Schonwaldt, about a
mile without Liege.

Just as they approached the Castle, they saw the Prelate returning
in long procession from the neighbouring city, in which he had been
officiating at the performance of High Mass. He was at the head of a
splendid train of religious, civil and military men, mingled together,
or, as the old ballad maker expresses it,


     "With many a cross bearer before,
     And many a spear behind."


The procession made a noble appearance, as winding along the verdant
banks of the broad Maes, it wheeled into, and was as it were devoured
by, the huge Gothic portal of the Episcopal residence.

But when the party came more near, they found that circumstances around
the Castle argued a doubt and sense of insecurity, which contradicted
that display of pomp and power which they had just witnessed. Strong
guards of the Bishop's soldiers were heedfully maintained all around the
mansion and its immediate vicinity, and the prevailing appearances in
an ecclesiastical residence seemed to argue a sense of danger in the
reverend Prelate, who found it necessary thus to surround himself with
all the defensive precautions of war.

The Ladies of Croye, when announced by Quentin, were reverently ushered
into the great Hall, where they met with the most cordial reception from
the Bishop, who met them there at the head of his little Court. He would
not permit them to kiss his hand, but welcomed them with a salute, which
had something in it of gallantry on the part of a prince to fine women,
and something also of the holy affection of a pastor to the sisters of
his flock.

Louis of Bourbon, the reigning Bishop of Liege, was in truth a generous
and kind hearted prince, whose life had not indeed been always confined,
with precise strictness, within the bounds of his clerical profession,
but who, notwithstanding, had uniformly maintained the frank and
honourable character of the House of Bourbon, from which he was
descended.

In latter times, as age advanced, the Prelate had adopted habits more
beseeming a member of the hierarchy than his early reign had exhibited,
and was loved among the neighbouring princes, as a noble ecclesiastic,
generous and magnificent in his ordinary mode of life, though preserving
no very ascetic severity of character, and governing with an easy
indifference, which, amid his wealthy and mutinous subjects, rather
encouraged than subdued rebellious purposes.

The Bishop was so fast an ally of the Duke of Burgundy that the latter
claimed almost a joint sovereignty in his bishopric, and repaid the
good natured ease with which the Prelate admitted claims which he might
easily have disputed, by taking his part on all occasions with the
determined and furious zeal which was a part of his character. He
used to say he considered Liege as his own, the Bishop as his brother
(indeed, they might be accounted such, in consequence of the Duke's
having married for his first wife, the Bishop's sister), and that he who
annoyed Louis of Bourbon, had to do with Charles of Burgundy, a threat
which, considering the character and the power of the prince who used
it, would have been powerful with any but the rich and discontented city
of Liege, where much wealth had, according to the ancient proverb, made
wit waver.

The Prelate, as we have said, assured the Ladies of Croye of such
intercession as his interest at the Court of Burgundy, used to the
uttermost, might gain for them, and which, he hoped, might be the more
effectual, as Campobasso, from some late discoveries, stood rather lower
than formerly in the Duke's personal favour. He promised them also such
protection as it was in his power to afford, but the sigh with which he
gave the warrant seemed to allow that his power was more precarious than
in words he was willing to admit.

"At every event, my dearest daughters," said the Bishop, with an air
in which, as in his previous salute, a mixture of spiritual unction
qualified the hereditary gallantry of the House of Bourbon, "Heaven
forbid I should abandon the lamb to the wicked wolf, or noble ladies
to the oppression of faitours. I am a man of peace, though my abode now
rings with arms, but be assured I will care for your safety as for my
own, and should matters become yet more distracted here, which, with Our
Lady's grace, we trust will be rather pacified than inflamed, we will
provide for your safe conduct to Germany, for not even the will of our
brother and protector, Charles of Burgundy, shall prevail with us to
dispose of you in any respect contrary to your own inclinations. We
cannot comply with your request of sending you to a convent, for, alas!
such is the influence of the sons of Belial among the inhabitants of
Liege, that we know no retreat to which our authority extends, beyond
the bounds of our own castle, and the protection of our soldiery. But
here you are most welcome, and your train shall have all honourable
entertainment, especially this youth whom you recommend so particularly
to our countenance, and on whom in especial we bestow our blessing."

Quentin kneeled, as in duty bound, to receive the Episcopal benediction.

"For yourselves," proceeded the good Prelate, "you shall reside here
with my sister Isabelle, a Canoness of Triers, with whom you may dwell
in all honour, even under the roof of so gay a bachelor as the Bishop of
Liege."

He gallantly conducted the ladies to his sister's apartment, as he
concluded the harangue of welcome, and his Master of the Household,
an officer who, having taken Deacon's orders, held something between
a secular and ecclesiastical character, entertained Quentin with the
hospitality which his master enjoined, while the other personages of
the retinue of the Ladies of Croye were committed to the inferior
departments.

In this arrangement Quentin could not help remarking that the presence
of the Bohemian, so much objected to in the country convents, seemed, in
the household of this wealthy, and perhaps we might say worldly prelate,
to attract neither objection nor remark.



CHAPTER XIX: THE CITY

     Good friends, sweet friends, let me not stir you up
     To any sudden act of mutiny.

     JULIUS CAESAR


Separated from the Lady Isabelle, whose looks had been for so many days
his loadstar, Quentin felt a strange vacancy and chillness of the heart,
which he had not yet experienced in any of the vicissitudes to which
his life had subjected him. No doubt the cessation of the close and
unavoidable intercourse and intimacy betwixt them was the necessary
consequence of the Countess's having obtained a place of settled
residence, for under what pretext could she, had she meditated such an
impropriety, have had a gallant young squire such as Quentin in constant
attendance upon her?

But the shock of the separation was not the more welcome that it seemed
unavoidable, and the proud heart of Quentin swelled at finding he was
parted with like an ordinary postilion, or an escort whose duty is
discharged, while his eyes sympathised so far as to drop a secret tear
or two over the ruins of all those airy castles, so many of which he had
employed himself in constructing during their too interesting journey.
He made a manly, but, at first, a vain effort to throw off this mental
dejection, and so, yielding to the feelings he could not suppress,
he sat him down in one of the deep recesses formed by a window which
lighted the great Gothic hall of Schonwaldt, and there mused upon his
hard fortune, which had not assigned him rank or wealth sufficient to
prosecute his daring suit.

Quentin tried to dispel the sadness which overhung him by dispatching
Charlet, one of the valets, with letters to the court of Louis,
announcing the arrival of the Ladies of Croye at Liege. At length his
natural buoyancy of temper returned, much excited by the title of an old
romaunt [a poetical romance] which had been just printed at Strasbourg,
and which lay beside him in the window, the title of which set forth--


     How the Squire of lowe degree
     Loved the King's daughter of Hungarie.

[An old English poem reprinted in Hazlitt's Remains of Early Popular
Poetry of England.]


While he was tracing the "letters blake" of the ditty so congenial to
his own situation, Quentin was interrupted by a touch on the shoulder,
and, looking up, beheld the Bohemian standing by him.



Hayraddin, never a welcome sight, was odious from his late treachery,
and Quentin sternly asked him why he dared take the freedom to touch a
Christian and a gentleman?

"Simply," answered the Bohemian, "because I wished to know if the
Christian gentleman had lost his feeling as well as his eyes and ears.
I have stood speaking to you these five minutes, and you have stared
on that scrap of yellow paper, as if it were a spell to turn you into a
statue, and had already wrought half its purpose."

"Well, what dost thou want? Speak, and begone!"

"I want what all men want, though few are satisfied with it," said
Hayraddin, "I want my due, ten crowns of gold for guiding the ladies
hither."

"With what face darest thou ask any guerdon beyond my sparing thy
worthless life?" said Durward, fiercely, "thou knowest that it was thy
purpose to have betrayed them on the road."

"But I did not betray them," said Hayraddin, "if I had, I would have
asked no guerdon from you or from them, but from him whom their keeping
on the right hand side of the river might have benefited. The party that
I have served is the party who must pay me."

"Thy guerdon perish with thee, then, traitor," said Quentin, telling out
the money. "Get thee to the Boar of Ardennes, or to the devil! but keep
hereafter out of my sight, lest I send thee thither before thy time."

"The Boar of Ardennes!" repeated the Bohemian, with a stronger emotion
of surprise than his features usually expressed--"it was then no vague
guess--no general suspicion--which made you insist on changing the
road?--Can it be--are there really in other lands arts of prophecy more
sure than those of our wandering tribes? The willow tree under which
we spoke could tell no tales. But no--no--no--dolt that I was!--I have
it--I have it!--the willow by the brook near yonder convent--I saw you
look towards it as you passed it, about half a mile from yon hive of
drones--that could not indeed speak, but it might hide one who could
hear! I will hold my councils in an open plain henceforth, not a bunch
of thistles shall be near me for a Scot to shroud amongst.--Ha! ha! the
Scot hath beat the Zingaro at his own subtle weapons. But know,
Quentin Durward, that you have foiled me to the marring of thine own
fortune.--Yes! the fortune I have told thee of, from the lines on thy
hand, had been richly accomplished but for thine own obstinacy."

"By Saint. Andrew," said Quentin, "thy impudence makes me laugh in spite
of myself.--How, or in what, should thy successful villainy have been of
service to me? I heard, indeed, that you did stipulate to save my life,
which condition your worthy allies would speedily have forgotten, had we
once come to blows--but in what thy betrayal of these ladies could have
served me, but by exposing me to death or captivity, is a matter beyond
human brains to conjecture."

"No matter thinking of it, then," said Hayraddin, "for I mean still to
surprise you with my gratitude. Had you kept back my hire, I should have
held that we were quit, and had left you to your own foolish guidance.
As it is, I remain your debtor for yonder matter on the banks of the
Cher."

"Methinks I have already taken out the payment in cursing and abusing
thee," said Quentin.

"Hard words, or kind ones," said the Zingaro, "are but wind, which
make no weight in the balance. Had you struck me, indeed, instead of
threatening--"

"I am likely enough to take out payment in that way, if you provoke me
longer."

"I would not advise it," said the Zingaro, "such payment, made by a rash
hand, might exceed the debt, and unhappily leave a balance on your side,
which I am not one to forget or forgive. And now farewell, but not for a
long space--I go to bid adieu to the Ladies of Croye."

"Thou?" said Quentin, in astonishment--"thou be admitted to the presence
of the ladies, and here, where they are in a manner recluses under the
protection of the Bishop's sister, a noble canoness? It is impossible."

"Marthon, however, waits to conduct me to their presence," said the
Zingaro, with a sneer, "and I must pray your forgiveness if I leave you
something abruptly."

He turned as if to depart, but instantly coming back, said, with a tone
of deep and serious emphasis, "I know your hopes--they are daring, yet
not vain if I aid them. I know your fears, they should teach prudence,
not timidity. Every woman may be won. A count is but a nickname, which
will befit Quentin as well as the other nickname of duke befits Charles,
or that of king befits Louis."

Ere Durward could reply, the Bohemian had left the hall. Quentin
instantly followed, but, better acquainted than the Scot with the
passages of the house, Hayraddin kept the advantage which he had
gotten, and the pursuer lost sight of him as he descended a small back
staircase. Still Durward followed, though without exact consciousness of
his own purpose in doing so. The staircase terminated by a door opening
into the alley of a garden, in which he again beheld the Zingaro
hastening down a pleached walk.

On two sides, the garden was surrounded by the buildings of the
castle--a huge old pile, partly castellated, and partly resembling an
ecclesiastical building, on the other two sides, the enclosure was a
high embattled wall. Crossing the alleys of the garden to another part
of the building, where a postern door opened behind a large massive
buttress, overgrown with ivy, Hayraddin looked back, and waved his hand
in a signal of an exulting farewell to his follower, who saw that
in effect the postern door was opened by Marthon, and that the vile
Bohemian was admitted into the precincts, as he naturally concluded,
of the apartment of the Countesses of Croye. Quentin bit his lips with
indignation, and blamed himself severely that he had not made the ladies
sensible of the full infamy of Hayraddin's character, and acquainted
with his machinations against their safety. The arrogating manner in
which the Bohemian had promised to back his suit added to his anger and
his disgust, and he felt as if even the hand of the Countess Isabelle
would be profaned, were it possible to attain it by such patronage.

"But it is all a deception," he said, "a turn of his base, juggling
artifice. He has procured access to those ladies upon some false
pretence, and with some mischievous intention. It is well I have learned
where they lodge. I will watch Marthon, and solicit an interview with
them, were it but to place them on their guard. It is hard that I must
use artifice and brook delay, when such as he have admittance openly
and without scruple. They shall find, however, that though I am excluded
from their presence, Isabelle's safety is the chief subject of my
vigilance."

While the young lover was thus meditating, an aged gentleman of the
Bishop's household approached him from the same door by which he had
himself entered the garden, and made him aware, though with the greatest
civility of manner, that the garden was private, and reserved only for
the use of the Bishop and guests of the very highest distinction.

Quentin heard him repeat this information twice ere he put the proper
construction upon it, and then starting as from a reverie, he bowed and
hurried out of the garden, the official person following him all the
way, and overwhelming him with formal apologies for the necessary
discharge of his duty. Nay, so pertinacious was he in his attempts to
remove the offence which he conceived Durward to have taken, that
he offered to bestow his own company upon him, to contribute to his
entertainment until Quentin, internally cursing his formal foppery,
found no better way of escape, then pretending a desire of visiting
the neighbouring city, and setting off thither at such a round pace
as speedily subdued all desire in the gentleman usher to accompany him
farther than the drawbridge. In a few minutes, Quentin was within the
walls of the city of Liege, then one of the richest in Flanders, and of
course in the world.

Melancholy, even love melancholy, is not so deeply seated, at least
in minds of a manly and elastic character, as the soft enthusiasts
who suffer under it are fond of believing. It yields to unexpected and
striking impressions upon the senses, to change of place, to such scenes
as create new trains of association, and to the influence of the busy
hum of mankind. In a few minutes, Quentin's attention was as much
engrossed by the variety of objects presented in rapid succession by the
busy streets of Liege, as if there had been neither a Countess Isabelle
nor a Bohemian in the world.

The lofty houses--the stately, though narrow and gloomy streets--the
splendid display of the richest goods and most gorgeous armour in the
warehouses and shops around--the walks crowded by busy citizens of every
description, passing and repassing with faces of careful importance or
eager bustle--the huge wains, which transported to and fro the subjects
of export and import, the former consisting of broadcloths and serge,
arms of all kinds, nails and iron work, while the latter comprehended
every article of use or luxury, intended either for the consumption of
an opulent city, or received in barter, and destined to be transported
elsewhere--all these objects combined to form an engrossing picture
of wealth, bustle, and splendour, to which Quentin had been hitherto a
stranger. He admired also the various streams and canals, drawn from
and communicating with the Maes, which, traversing the city in various
directions, offered to every quarter the commercial facilities of water
carriage, and he failed not to hear a mass in the venerable old Church
of Saint Lambert, said to have been founded in the eighth century.

It was upon leaving this place of worship that Quentin began to observe
that he, who had been hitherto gazing on all around him with the
eagerness of unrestrained curiosity, was himself the object of attention
to several groups of substantial looking burghers, who seemed assembled
to look upon him as he left the church, and amongst whom arose a buzz
and whisper, which spread from one party to another, while the number of
gazers continued to augment rapidly, and the eyes of each who added to
it were eagerly directed to Quentin with a stare which expressed much
interest and curiosity, mingled with a certain degree of respect.

At length he now formed the centre of a considerable crowd, which yet
yielded before him while he continued to move forward, while those who
followed or kept pace with him studiously avoided pressing on him, or
impeding his motions. Yet his situation was too embarrassing to be long
endured, without making some attempt to extricate himself and to obtain
some explanation.

Quentin looked around him, and fixing upon a jolly, stout made,
respectable man, whom, by his velvet cloak and gold chain, he concluded
to be a burgher of eminence, and perhaps a magistrate, he asked him
whether he saw anything particular in his appearance, to attract public
attention in a degree so unusual? or whether it was the ordinary custom
of the people of Liege thus to throng around strangers who chanced to
visit their city?

"Surely not, good seignior," answered the burgher, "the Liegeois are
neither so idly curious as to practise such a custom, nor is there
anything in your dress or appearance saving that which is most welcome
to this city, and which our townsmen are both delighted to see and
desirous to honour."

"This sounds very polite, worthy sir," said Quentin, "but, by the Cross
of Saint Andrew, I cannot even guess at your meaning."

"Your oath," answered the merchant of Liege, "as well as your accent,
convinces me that we are right in our conjecture."

"By my patron Saint Quentin!" said Durward, "I am farther off from your
meaning than ever."

"There again now," rejoined the Liegeois, looking, as he spoke, most
provokingly, yet most civilly, politic and intelligent.

"It is surely not for us to see that which you, worthy seignior, deem it
proper to conceal: But why swear by Saint Quentin, if you would not have
me construe your meaning?--We know the good Count of Saint Paul, who
lies there at present, wishes well to our cause."

"On my life," said Quentin, "you are under some delusion.--I know
nothing of Saint Paul."

"Nay, we question you not," said the burgher, "although, hark ye--I say,
hark in your ear--my name is Pavillon."

"And what is my business with that, Seignior Pavillon?" said Quentin.

"Nay, nothing--only methinks it might satisfy you that I am
trustworthy.--Here is my colleague Rouslaer, too."

Rouslaer advanced, a corpulent dignitary, whose fair round belly, like
a battering ram, "did shake the press before him," and who, whispering
caution to his neighbour, said in a tone of rebuke, "You forget, good
colleague, the place is too open--the seignior will retire to your house
or mine, and drink a glass of Rhenish and sugar, and then we shall
hear more of our good friend and ally, whom we love with all our honest
Flemish hearts."

"I have no news for any of you," said Quentin, impatiently, "I will
drink no Rhenish, and I only desire of you, as men of account and
respectability, to disperse this idle crowd, and allow a stranger to
leave your town as quietly as he came into it."

"Nay, then, sir," said Rouslaer, "since you stand so much on your
incognito, and with us, too, who are men of confidence, let me ask
you roundly, wherefore wear you the badge of your company if you would
remain unknown in Liege."

"What badge, and what order?" said Quentin, "you look like reverend men
and grave citizens, yet, on my soul you are either mad yourselves, or
desire to drive me so."

"Sapperment!" said the other burgher, "this youth would make Saint
Lambert swear! Why, who wear bonnets with the Saint Andrew's cross and
fleur de lys, save the Scottish Archers of King Louis's Guards?"

"And supposing I am an Archer of the Scottish Guard, why should you
make a wonder of my wearing the badge of my company?" said Quentin
impatiently.

"He has avowed it, he has avowed it!" said Rouslaer and Pavillon,
turning to the assembled burghers in attitudes of congratulation, with
waving arms, extended palms, and large round faces radiating with
glee. "He hath avowed himself an Archer of Louis's Guard--of Louis, the
guardian of the liberties of Liege!"

A general shout and cry now arose from the multitude, in which were
mingled the various sounds of "Long live Louis of France! Long live
the Scottish Guard! Long live the valiant Archer! Our liberties,
our privileges, or death! No imposts! Long live the valiant Boar of
Ardennes! Down with Charles of Burgundy! and confusion to Bourbon and
his bishopric!" Half stunned by the noise, which began anew in one
quarter so soon as it ceased in another, rising and falling like the
billows of the sea, and augmented by thousands of voices which roared in
chorus from distant streets and market places, Quentin had yet time to
form a conjecture concerning the meaning of the tumult, and a plan for
regulating his own conduct:

He had forgotten that, after his skirmish with Orleans and Dunois, one
of his comrades had, at Lord Crawford's command, replaced the morion,
cloven by the sword of the latter, with one of the steel lined bonnets
which formed a part of the proper and well known equipment of the
Scottish Guards. That an individual of this body, which was always kept
very close to Louis's person, should have appeared in the streets of a
city whose civil discontents had been aggravated by the agents of that
King, was naturally enough interpreted by the burghers of Liege into a
determination on the part of Louis openly to assist their cause, and
the apparition of an individual archer was magnified into a pledge of
immediate and active support from Louis--nay, into an assurance that his
auxiliary forces were actually entering the town at one or other, though
no one could distinctly tell which, of the city gates.

To remove a conviction so generally adopted, Quentin easily saw was
impossible--nay, that any attempt to undeceive men so obstinately
prepossessed in their belief, would be attended with personal risk,
which, in this case, he saw little use of incurring. He therefore
hastily resolved to temporize, and to get free the best way he could,
and this resolution he formed while they were in the act of conducting
him to the Stadthouse [town house], where the notables of the town were
fast assembling, in order to hear the tidings which he was presumed to
have brought, and to regale him with a splendid banquet.

In spite of all his opposition, which was set down to modesty, he was on
every side surrounded by the donors of popularity, the unsavoury tide
of which now floated around him. His two burgomaster friends, who were
Schoppen, or Syndics of the city, had made fast both his arms. Before
him, Nikkel Blok, the chief of the butchers' incorporation, hastily
summoned from his office in the shambles, brandished his death doing
axe, yet smeared with blood and brains, with a courage and grace which
brantwein [spirits] alone could inspire. Behind him came the tall, lean,
rawboned, very drunk, and very patriotic figure of Claus Hammerlein,
president of the mystery of the workers in iron, and followed by at
least a thousand unwashed artificers of his class. Weavers, nailers,
ropemakers, artisans of every degree and calling, thronged forward to
join the procession from every gloomy and narrow street. Escape seemed a
desperate and impossible adventure.

In this dilemma, Quentin appealed to Rouslaer, who held one arm, and to
Pavillon, who had secured the other, and who were conducting him forward
at the head of the ovation, of which he had so unexpectedly become
the principal object. He hastily acquainted them with his having
thoughtlessly adopted the bonnet of the Scottish Guard, on an accident
having occurred to the headpiece in which he had proposed to travel, he
regretted that, owing to this circumstance, and the sharp wit with which
the Liegeois drew the natural inference of his quality, and the
purpose of his visit, these things had been publicly discovered, and
he intimated that, if just now conducted to the Stadthouse, he might
unhappily feel himself under the necessity of communicating to the
assembled notables certain matters which he was directed by the King
to reserve for the private ears of his excellent gossips, Meinheers
Rouslaer and Pavillon of Liege.

This last hint operated like magic on the two citizens, who were the
most distinguished leaders of the insurgent burghers, and were, like all
demagogues of their kind, desirous to keep everything within their
own management, so far as possible. They therefore hastily agreed that
Quentin should leave the town for the time, and return by night to
Liege, and converse with them privately in the house of Rouslaer, near
the gate opposite to Schonwaldt. Quentin hesitated not to tell them that
he was at present residing in the Bishop's palace, under pretence of
bearing despatches from the French Court, although his real errand was,
as they had well conjectured, designed to the citizens of Liege,
and this tortuous mode of conducting a communication as well as
the character and rank of the person to whom it was supposed to be
intrusted, was so consonant to the character of Louis, as neither to
excite doubt nor surprise.

Almost immediately after this eclaircissernent [explanation] was
completed, the progress of the multitude brought them opposite to the
door of Pavillon's house, in one of the principal streets, but which
communicated from behind with the Maes by means of a garden, as well
as an extensive manufactory of tan pits, and other conveniences for
dressing hides, for the patriotic burgher was a felt dresser or currier.

It was natural that Pavillon should desire to do the honours of his
dwelling to the supposed envoy of Louis, and a halt before his house
excited no surprise on the part of the multitude, who, on the contrary,
greeted Meinheer Pavillon with a loud vivat [long live], as he ushered
in his distinguished guest. Quentin speedily laid aside his remarkable
bonnet for the cap of a felt maker, and flung a cloak over his other
apparel. Pavillon then furnished him with a passport to pass the
gates of the city, and to return by night or day as should suit his
convenience, and lastly, committed him to the charge of his daughter,
a fair and smiling Flemish lass, with instructions how he was to be
disposed of, while he himself hastened back to his colleague to amuse
their friends at the Stadthouse with the best excuses which they could
invent for the disappearance of King Louis's envoy. We cannot, as the
footman says in the play, recollect the exact nature of the lie which
the bell wethers told the flock, but no task is so easy as that of
imposing upon a multitude whose eager prejudices have more than half
done the business ere the impostor has spoken a word.

The worthy burgess was no sooner gone than his plump daughter, Trudchen,
with many a blush, and many a wreathed smile, which suited very prettily
with lips like cherries, laughing blue eyes, and a skin transparently
pure--escorted the handsome stranger through the pleached alleys of
the Sieur Pavillon's garden, down to the water side, and there saw him
fairly embarked in a boat, which two stout Flemings, in their trunk
hose, fur caps, and many buttoned jerkins, had got in readiness with as
much haste as their low country nature would permit.

As the pretty Trudchen spoke nothing but German, Quentin--no
disparagement to his loyal affection to the Countess of Croye--could
only express his thanks by a kiss on those same cherry lips, which was
very gallantly bestowed, and accepted with all modest gratitude, for
gallants with a form and face like our Scottish Archer were not of
everyday occurrence among the bourgeoisie of Liege [the French middle
class. The term has come to mean the middle class of any country,
especially those engaged in trade].

[The adventure of Quentin at Liege may be thought overstrained, yet it
is extraordinary what slight circumstances will influence the public
mind in a moment of doubt and uncertainty. Most readers must remember
that, when the Dutch were on the point of rising against the French
yoke, their zeal for liberation received a strong impulse from the
landing of a person in a British volunteer uniform, whose presence,
though that of a private individual, was received as a guarantee of
succours from England. S.]

While the boat was rowed up the sluggish waters of the Maes, and passed
the defences of the town, Quentin had time enough to reflect what
account he ought to give of his adventure in Liege, when he returned to
the Bishop's palace of Schonwaldt, and disdaining alike to betray any
person who had reposed confidence in him, although by misapprehension,
or to conceal from the hospitable Prelate the mutinous state of his
capital, he resolved to confine himself to so general an account as
might put the Bishop upon his guard, while it should point out no
individual to his vengeance.

He was landed from the boat, within half a mile of the castle, and
rewarded his rowers with a guilder, to their great satisfaction. Yet,
short as was the space which divided him from Schonwaldt, the castle
bell had tolled for dinner, and Quentin found, moreover, that he had
approached the castle on a different side from that of the principal
entrance, and that to go round would throw his arrival considerably
later. He therefore made straight towards the side that was nearest to
him, as he discerned that it presented an embattled wall, probably that
of the little garden already noticed, with a postern opening upon the
moat, and a skiff moored by the postern, which might serve, he thought,
upon summons, to pass him over. As he approached, in hopes to make his
entrance this way, the postern opened, a man came out, and, jumping into
the boat, made his way to the farther side of the moat, and then, with
a long pole, pushed the skiff back towards the place where he had
embarked. As he came near, Quentin discerned that this person was the
Bohemian, who, avoiding him, as was not difficult, held a different path
towards Liege, and was presently out of his ken.

Here was a new subject for meditation. Had this vagabond heathen been
all this while with the Ladies of Croye, and for what purpose should
they so far have graced him with their presence? Tormented with this
thought, Durward became doubly determined to seek an explanation with
them, for the purpose at once of laying bare the treachery of Hayraddin,
and announcing to them the perilous state in which their protector, the
Bishop, was placed, by the mutinous state of his town of Liege.

As Quentin thus resolved, he entered the castle by the principal gate,
and found that part of the family who assembled for dinner in the
great hall, including the Bishop's attendant clergy, officers of the
household, and strangers below the rank of the very first nobility, were
already placed at their meal. A seat at the upper end of the board
had, however, been reserved beside the Bishop's domestic chaplain, who
welcomed the stranger with the old college jest of Sero venientibus ossa
[the bones for those who come late], while he took care so to load his
plate with dainties, as to take away all appearance of that tendency to
reality, which, in Quentin's country, is said to render a joke either
no joke, or at best an unpalatable one ["A sooth boord (true joke) is no
boord," says the Scot. S.].

In vindicating himself from the suspicion of ill breeding, Quentin
briefly described the tumult which had been occasioned in the city by
his being discovered to belong to the Scottish Archer Guard of Louis,
and endeavoured to give a ludicrous turn to the narrative by saying that
he had been with difficulty extricated by a fat burgher of Liege and his
pretty daughter.

But the company were too much interested in the story to taste the jest.
All operations of the table were suspended while Quentin told his tale,
and when he had ceased, there was a solemn pause, which was only broken
by the Majordomo's saying in a low and melancholy tone, "I would to God
that we saw those hundred lances of Burgundy!"

"Why should you think so deeply on it?" said Quentin. "You have many
soldiers here, whose trade is arms, and your antagonists are only the
rabble of a disorderly city, who will fly before the first flutter of a
banner with men at arms arrayed beneath it."

"You do not know the men of Liege," said the Chaplain, "of whom it may
be said, that, not even excepting those of Ghent, they are at once
the fiercest and the most untameable in Europe. Twice has the Duke of
Burgundy chastised them for their repeated revolts against their Bishop,
and twice hath he suppressed them with much severity, abridged their
privileges, taken away their banners, and established rights and claims
to himself which were not before competent over a free city of the
Empire.--Nay, the last time he defeated them with much slaughter near
Saint Tron, where Liege lost nearly six thousand men, what with the
sword, what with those drowned in the flight, and thereafter, to disable
them from farther mutiny, Duke Charles refused to enter at any of the
gates which they had surrendered, but, beating to the ground forty
cubits' breadth of their city wall, marched into Liege as a conqueror
with visor closed, and lance in rest, at the head of his chivalry, by
the breach which he had made. Nay, well were the Liegeois then assured,
that, but for the intercession of his father, Duke Philip the Good, this
Charles, then called Count of Charalois, would have given their town
up to spoil. And yet, with all these fresh recollections, with their
breaches unrepaired, and their arsenals scarcely supplied, the sight of
an archer's bonnet is sufficient again to stir them to uproar. May God
amend all! but I fear there will be bloody work between so fierce a
population and so fiery a Sovereign, and I would my excellent and kind
master had a see of lesser dignity and more safety, for his mitre is
lined with thorns instead of ermine. This much I say to you, Seignior
Stranger, to make you aware that, if your affairs detain you not at
Schonwaldt, it is a place from which each man of sense should depart
as speedily as possible. I apprehend that your ladies are of the same
opinion, for one of the grooms who attended them on the route has been
sent back by them to the Court of France with letters, which doubtless
are intended to announce their going in search of a safer asylum."



CHAPTER XX: THE BILLET

     Go to--thou art made, if thou desirest to be so.--
     If not, let me see thee still the fellow of servants,
     and not fit to touch Fortune's fingers.--

     TWELFTH NIGHT


When the tables were drawn, the Chaplain, who seemed to have taken a
sort of attachment to Quentin Durward's society, or who perhaps desired
to extract from him farther information concerning the meeting of the
morning, led him into a withdrawing apartment, the windows of which, on
one side, projected into the garden, and as he saw his companion's eye
gaze rather eagerly upon the spot, he proposed to Quentin to go down
and take a view of the curious foreign shrubs with which the Bishop had
enriched its parterres.

Quentin excused himself as unwilling to intrude, and therewithal
communicated the check which he had received in the morning. The
Chaplain smiled, and said that there was indeed some ancient prohibition
respecting the Bishop's private garden.

"But this," he added, with a smile, "was when our reverend father was
a princely young prelate of not more than thirty years of age, and when
many fair ladies frequented the Castle for ghostly consolation. Need
there was," he said with a downcast look, and a smile, half simple and
half intelligent, "that these ladies, pained in conscience, who were
ever lodged in the apartments now occupied by the noble Canoness, should
have some space for taking the air, secure from the intrusion of the
profane. But of late years," he added, "this prohibition, although not
formally removed, has fallen entirely out of observance, and remains
but as the superstition which lingers in the brain of a superannuated
gentleman usher. If you please," he added, "we will presently descend,
and try whether the place be haunted or no."

Nothing could have been more agreeable to Quentin than the prospect of
a free entrance into the garden, through means of which, according to a
chance which had hitherto attended his passion, he hoped to communicate
with, or at least obtain sight of, the object of his affections, from
some such turret or balcony window, or similar "coign of vantage," as at
the hostelry of the Fleur de Lys, near Plessis, or the Dauphin's Tower,
within that Castle itself. Isabelle seemed still destined, wherever she
made her abode, to be the Lady of the Turret.

[Coign of vantage: an advantageous position for observation or action.
Cf. 'no jutty, frieze, buttress, nor coign of vantage, but this bird
hath made his pendent bed and procreant cradle.' Macbeth, I, vi, 6.]

When Durward descended with his new friend into the garden, the latter
seemed a terrestrial philosopher, entirely busied with the things of the
earth, while the eyes of Quentin, if they did not seek the heavens,
like those of an astrologer, ranged, at least, all around the windows,
balconies, and especially the turrets, which projected on every part
from the inner front of the old building, in order to discover that
which was to be his cynosure.

While thus employed, the young lover heard with total neglect, if indeed
he heard at all, the enumeration of plants, herbs, and shrubs which his
reverend conductor pointed out to him, of which this was choice, because
of prime use in medicine, and that more choice for yielding a rare
flavour to pottage, and a third, choicest of all, because possessed of
no merit but its extreme scarcity. Still it was necessary to preserve
some semblance at least of attention, which the youth found so
difficult, that he fairly wished at the devil the officious naturalist
and the whole vegetable kingdom. He was relieved at length by the
striking of a clock, which summoned the Chaplain to some official duty.

The reverend man made many unnecessary apologies for leaving his new
friend, and concluded by giving him the agreeable assurance that
he might walk in the garden till supper, without much risk of being
disturbed.

"It is," said he, "the place where I always study my own homilies, as
being most sequestered from the resort of strangers. I am now about to
deliver one of them in the chapel, if you please to favour me with your
audience. I have been thought to have some gift.--But the glory be where
it is due!"

Quentin excused himself for this evening, under pretence of a severe
headache, which the open air was likely to prove the best cure for, and
at length the well meaning, priest left him to himself.

It may be well imagined, that in the curious inspection which he now
made, at more leisure, of every window or aperture which looked into the
garden, those did not escape which were in the immediate neighbourhood
of the small door by which he had seen Marthon admit Hayraddin, as he
pretended, to the apartment of the Countesses. But nothing stirred or
showed itself, which could either confute or confirm the tale which the
Bohemian had told, until it was becoming dusky, and Quentin began to be
sensible, he scarce knew why, that his sauntering so long in the garden
might be subject of displeasure or suspicion. Just as he had resolved to
depart, and was taking what he had destined for his last turn under the
windows which had such attraction for him, he heard above him a slight
and cautious sound, like that of a cough, as intended to call his
attention, and to avoid the observation of others. As he looked up in
joyful surprise, a casement opened, a female hand was seen to drop a
billet, which fell into a rosemary bush that grew at the foot of the
wall. The precaution used in dropping this letter prescribed equal
prudence and secrecy in reading it. The garden, surrounded, as we have
said, upon two sides, by the buildings of the palace, was commanded,
of course, by the windows of many apartments, but there was a sort of
grotto of rock work, which the Chaplain had shown Durward with much
complacency. To snatch up the billet, thrust it into his bosom, and
hie to this place of secrecy, was the work of a single minute. He there
opened the precious scroll, and blessed, at the same time, the memory
of the Monks of Aberbrothick, whose nurture had rendered him capable of
deciphering its contents.

The first line contained the injunction, "Read this in secret,"--and
the contents were as follows: "What your eyes have too boldly said, mine
have perhaps too rashly understood. But unjust persecution makes its
victims bold, and it were better to throw myself on the gratitude of
one, than to remain the object of pursuit to many. Fortune has her
throne upon a rock but brave men fear not to climb. If you dare do aught
for one that hazards much, you need but pass into this garden at prime
tomorrow, wearing in your cap a blue and white feather, but expect
no farther communication. Your stars have, they say, destined you
for greatness, and disposed you to gratitude.--Farewell--be faithful,
prompt, and resolute, and doubt not thy fortune."

Within this letter was enclosed a ring with a table diamond, on which
were cut, in form of a lozenge, the ancient arms of the House of Croye.

The first feeling of Quentin upon this occasion was unmingled ecstasy--a
pride and joy which seemed to raise him to the stars--a determination
to do or die, influenced by which he treated with scorn the thousand
obstacles that placed themselves betwixt him and the goal of his wishes.

In this mood of rapture, and unable to endure any interruption which
might withdraw his mind, were it but for a moment, from so ecstatic
a subject of contemplation, Durward, retiring to the interior of the
castle, hastily assigned his former pretext of a headache for not
joining the household of the Bishop at the supper meal, and, lighting
his lamp, betook himself to the chamber which had been assigned him, to
read, and to read again and again, the precious billet, and to kiss a
thousand times the no less precious ring.

But such high wrought feelings could not remain long in the same
ecstatic tone. A thought pressed upon him, though he repelled it as
ungrateful--as even blasphemous--that the frankness of the confession
implied less delicacy on the part of her who made it, than was
consistent with the high romantic feeling of adoration with which he
had hitherto worshipped the Lady Isabelle. No sooner did this ungracious
thought intrude itself, than he hastened to stifle it, as he would have
stifled a hissing and hateful adder that had intruded itself into
his couch. Was it for him--him the Favoured--on whose account she had
stooped from her sphere, to ascribe blame to her for the very act of
condescension, Without which he dared not have raised his eyes towards
her? Did not her very dignity of birth and of condition reverse, in her
case, the usual rules which impose silence on the lady until her lover
shall have first spoken? To these arguments, which he boldly formed into
syllogisms and avowed to himself, his vanity might possibly suggest one
which he cared not to embody even mentally with the same frankness--that
the merit of the party beloved might perhaps warrant, on the part of the
lady, some little departure from common rules, and, after all, as in the
case of Malvolio [Olivia's steward in Twelfth Night], there was example
for it in chronicle. The Squire of low degree, of whom he had just been
reading, was, like himself, a gentleman void of land and living, and yet
the generous Princess of Hungary bestowed on him, without scruple, more
substantial marks of her affection than the billet he had just received:


     "'Welcome,' she said, 'my swete Squyre,
     My heart's roots, my soul's desire,
     I will give thee kisses three,
     And als five hundrid poundis in fee.'"


And again the same faithful history made the King of Hongrie himself
avouch--


     "I have yknown many a page,
     Come to be Prince by marriage."


So that, upon the whole, Quentin generously and magnanimously reconciled
himself to a line of conduct on the Countess's part by which he was
likely to be so highly benefited.

But this scruple was succeeded by another doubt, harder of digestion.
The traitor Hayraddin had been in the apartments of the ladies, for
aught Quentin knew, for the space of four hours, and, considering the
hints which he had thrown out of possessing an influence of the most
interesting kind over the fortunes of Quentin Durward, what should
assure him that this train was not of his laying? And if so, was it not
probable that such a dissembling villain had set it on foot to conceal
some new plan of treachery--perhaps to seduce Isabelle out of the
protection of the worthy Bishop? This was a matter to be closely looked
into, for Quentin felt a repugnance to this individual proportioned to
the unabashed impudence with which he had avowed his profligacy, and
could not bring himself to hope that anything in which he was concerned
could ever come to an honourable or happy conclusion.

These various thoughts rolled over Quentin's mind like misty clouds, to
dash and obscure the fair landscape which his fancy had at first drawn,
and his couch was that night a sleepless one. At the hour of prime--ay,
and an hour before it, was he in the castle garden, where no one now
opposed either his entrance or his abode, with a feather of the assigned
colour, as distinguished as he could by any means procure in such haste.
No notice was taken of his appearance for nearly two hours, at length
he heard a few notes of the lute, and presently the lattice opened right
above the little postern door at which Marthon had admitted Hayraddin,
and Isabelle, in maidenly beauty, appeared at the opening, greeted him
half kindly, half shyly, coloured extremely at the deep and significant
reverence with which he returned her courtesy--shut the casement, and
disappeared.

Daylight and champaign could discover no more! The authenticity of the
billet was ascertained--it only remained what was to follow, and of
this the fair writer had given him no hint. But no immediate danger
impended--the Countess was in a strong castle, under the protection of
a Prince, at once respectable for his secular and venerable for his
ecclesiastical authority. There was neither immediate room nor occasion
for the exulting Squire interfering in the adventure, and it was
sufficient if he kept himself prompt to execute her commands whensoever
they should be communicated to him. But Fate purposed to call him into
action sooner than he was aware of.

It was the fourth night after his arrival at Schonwaldt, when Quentin
had taken measures for sending back on the morrow, to the Court of
Louis, the remaining groom who had accompanied him on his journey, with
letters from himself to his uncle and Lord Crawford, renouncing the
service of France, for which the treachery to which he had been exposed
by the private instructions of Hayraddin gave him an excuse, both in
honour and prudence, and he betook himself to his bed with all the rosy
coloured ideas around him which flutter about the couch of a youth when
he loves dearly, and thinks his love is as sincerely repaid.

But Quentin's dreams, which at first partook of the nature of those
happy influences under which he had fallen asleep, began by degrees to
assume a more terrific character.

He walked with the Countess Isabelle beside a smooth and inland lake,
such as formed the principal characteristic of his native glen, and he
spoke to her of his love, without any consciousness of the impediments
which lay between them. She blushed and smiled when she listened--even
as he might have expected from the tenor of the letter, which, sleeping
or waking, lay nearest to his heart. But the scene suddenly changed from
summer to winter--from calm to tempest, the winds and the waves rose
with such a contest of surge and whirlwind as if the demons of the water
and of the air had been contending for their roaring empires in rival
strife. The rising waters seemed to cut off their advance and their
retreat--the increasing tempest, which dashed them against each other,
seemed to render their remaining on the spot impossible, and the
tumultuous sensations produced by the apparent danger awoke the dreamer.

He awoke, but although the circumstances of the vision had disappeared,
and given place to reality, the noise, which had probably suggested
them, still continued to sound in his ears.

Quentin's first impulse was to sit erect in bed and listen with
astonishment to sounds, which, if they had announced a tempest, might
have shamed the wildest that ever burst down from the Grampians, and
again in a minute he became sensible that the tumult was not excited by
the fury of the elements, but by the wrath of men. He sprang from bed,
and looked from the window of his apartment, but it opened into the
garden, and on that side all was quiet, though the opening of the
casement made him still more sensible from the shouts which reached his
ears that the outside of the castle was beleaguered and assaulted, and
that by a numerous and determined enemy. Hastily collecting his dress
and arms, and putting them on with such celerity as darkness and
surprise permitted, his attention was solicited by a knocking at the
door of his chamber. As Quentin did not immediately answer, the door,
which was a slight one, was forced open from without, and the intruder,
announced by his peculiar dialect to be the Bohemian, Hayraddin
Maugrabin, entered the apartment. A phial which he held in his hand,
touched by a match, produced a dark flash of ruddy fire, by means of
which he kindled a lamp, which he took from his bosom.

"The horoscope of your destinies," he said energetically to Durward,
without any farther greeting, "now turns upon the determination of a
minute."

"Caitiff!" said Quentin, in reply, "there is treachery around us, and
where there is treachery thou must have a share in it."

"You are mad," answered Maugrabin. "I never betrayed any one but to gain
by it--and wherefore should I betray you, by whose safety I can take
more advantage than by your destruction? Hearken for a moment, if it be
possible for you, to one note of reason, ere it is sounded into your ear
by the death shut of ruin. The Liegeois are up--William de la Marck with
his band leads them.--Were there means of resistance, their numbers and
his fury would overcome them, but there are next to none. If you would
save the Countess and your own hopes, follow me, in the name of her who
sent you a table diamond, with three leopards engraved on it."

"Lead the way," said Quentin, hastily. "In that name I dare every
danger."

"As I shall manage it," said the Bohemian, "there is no danger, if you
can but withhold your hand from strife which does not concern you,
for, after all, what is it to you whether the Bishop, as they call him,
slaughters his flock, or the flock slaughters the shepherd?--Ha! ha! ha!
Follow me, but with caution and patience, subdue your own courage, and
confide in my prudence and my debt of thankfulness is paid, and you have
a Countess for your spouse.--Follow me."

"I follow," said Quentin, drawing his sword, "but the moment in which
I detect the least sign of treachery, thy head and body are three yards
separate!"

Without more conversation the Bohemian, seeing that Quentin was now
fully armed and ready, ran down the stairs before him, and winded
hastily through various side passages, until they gained the little
garden. Scarce a light was to be seen on that side, scarce any bustle
was to be heard, but no sooner had Quentin entered the open space,
than the noise on the opposite side of the castle became ten times more
stunningly audible, and he could hear the various war cries of "Liege!
Liege! Sanglier! Sanglier! [the Wild Boar: a name given to William de
la Marck]" shouted by the assailants, while the feebler cry of "Our
Lady for the Prince Bishop!" was raised in a faint and faltering tone by
those of the prelate's soldiers who had hastened, though surprised and
at disadvantage, to the defence of the walls.

But the interest of the fight, notwithstanding the martial character of
Quentin Durward, was indifferent to him, in comparison with the fate
of Isabelle of Croye, which, he had reason to fear, would be a dreadful
one, unless rescued from the power of the dissolute and cruel freebooter
who was now, as it seemed, bursting the gates of the castle. He
reconciled himself to the aid of the Bohemian, as men in a desperate
illness refuse not the remedy prescribed by quacks and mountebanks, and
followed across the garden, with the intention of being guided by him
until he should discover symptoms of treachery, and then piercing him
through the heart, or striking his head from his body.

Hayraddin seemed himself conscious that his safety turned on a feather
weight, for he forbore, from the moment they entered the open air, all
his wonted gibes and quirks, and seemed to have made a vow to act at
once with modesty, courage, and activity.

At the opposite door, which led to the ladies' apartments, upon a low
signal made by Hayraddin, appeared two women, muffled in the black silk
veils which were then, as now, worn by the women in the Netherlands.
Quentin offered his arm to one of them, who clung to it with trembling
eagerness, and indeed hung upon him so much, that had her weight been
greater, she must have much impeded their retreat. The Bohemian, who
conducted the other female, took the road straight for the postern which
opened upon the moat, through the garden wall, close to which the little
skiff Was drawn up, by means of which Quentin had formerly observed
Hayraddin himself retreating from the castle.

As they crossed, the shouts of storm and successful violence seemed to
announce that the castle was in the act of being taken, and so dismal
was the sound in Quentin's ears, that he could not help swearing aloud,
"But that my blood is irretrievably devoted to the fulfilment of my
present duty, I would back to the wall, take faithful part with the
hospitable Bishop, and silence some of those knaves whose throats are
full of mutiny and robbery!"

The lady, whose arm was still folded in his, pressed it lightly as he
spoke, as if to make him understand that there was a nearer claim on his
chivalry than the defence of Schonwaldt, while the Bohemian exclaimed,
loud enough to be heard, "Now, that I call right Christian frenzy,
which would turn back to fight when love and fortune both demand that we
should fly.

"On, on--with all the haste you can make.--Horses wait us in yonder
thicket of willows."

"There are but two horses," said Quentin, who saw them in the moonlight.

"All that I could procure without exciting suspicion--and enough,"
replied the Bohemian. "You two must ride for Tongres ere the way becomes
unsafe--Marthon will abide with the women of our horde, with whom she is
an old acquaintance. Know she is a daughter of our tribe, and only dwelt
among you to serve our purpose as occasion should fall."

"Marthon!" exclaimed the Countess, looking at the veiled female with a
shriek of surprise, "is not this my kinswoman?"

"Only Marthon," said Hayraddin. "Excuse me that little piece of deceit.
I dared not carry off both the Ladies of Croye from the Wild Boar of
Ardennes."

"Wretch!" said Quentin, emphatically--"but it is not--shall not be too
late--I will back to rescue the Lady Hameline."

"Hameline," whispered the lady, in a disturbed voice, "hangs on thy arm,
to thank thee for her rescue."

"Ha! what!--How is this?" said Quentin, extricating himself from her
hold, and with less gentleness than he would at any other time have
used towards a female of any rank. "Is the Lady Isabelle then left
behind!--Farewell--farewell."

As he turned to hasten back to the castle, Hayraddin laid hold of
him.--"Nay, hear you--hear you--you run upon your death! What the foul
fiend did you wear the colours of the old one for?--I will never trust
blue and white silk again. But she has almost as large a dower--has
jewels and gold--hath pretensions, too, upon the earldom."

While he spoke thus, panting on in broken sentences, the Bohemian
struggled to detain Quentin, who at length laid his hand on his dagger,
in order to extricate himself.

"Nay, if that be the case," said Hayraddin, unloosing his hold, "go--and
the devil, if there be one, go along with you!"

And, soon as freed from his hold, the Scot shot back to the castle with
the speed of the wind.

Hayraddin then turned round to the Countess Hameline, who had sunk down
on the ground, between shame, fear, and disappointment.

"Here has been a mistake," he said, "up, lady, and come with me--I will
provide you, ere morning comes, a gallanter husband than this smock
faced boy, and if one will not serve, you shall have twenty."

The Lady Hameline was as violent in her passions, as she was vain and
weak in her understanding. Like many other persons, she went tolerably
well through the ordinary duties of life, but in a crisis like the
present, she was entirely incapable of doing aught, save pouring forth
unavailing lamentations, and accusing Hayraddin of being a thief, a base
slave, an impostor, a murderer.

"Call me Zingaro," returned he, composedly, "and you have said all at
once."

"Monster! you said the stars had decreed our union, and caused me to
write--Oh, wretch that I was!" exclaimed the unhappy lady.

"And so they had decreed your union," said Hayraddin, "had both parties
been willing--but think you the blessed constellations can make any one
wed against his will?--I was led into error with your accursed Christian
gallantries, and fopperies of ribbons and favours--and the youth prefers
veal to beef, I think--that 's all.--Up and follow me, and take notice,
I endure neither weeping nor swooning."

"I will not stir a foot," said the Countess, obstinately.

"By the bright welkin, but you shall, though!" exclaimed Hayraddin. "I
swear to you, by all that ever fools believed in, that you have to do
with one, who would care little to strip you naked, bind you to a tree,
and leave you to your fortune!"

"Nay," said Marthon, interfering, "by your favour she shall not be
misused. I wear a knife as well as you, and can use it.--She is a kind
woman, though a fool.--And you, madam, rise up and follow us.--Here has
been a mistake, but it is something to have saved life and limb. There
are many in yonder castle would give all the wealth in the world to
stand where we do."

As Marthon spoke, a clamour, in which the shouts of victory were mingled
with screams of terror and despair, was wafted to them from the Castle
of Schonwaldt.

"Hear that, lady!" said Hayraddin, "and be thankful you are not adding
your treble pipe to yonder concert. Believe me, I will care for you
honestly, and the stars shall keep their words, and find you a good
husband."

Like some wild animal, exhausted and subdued by terror amid fatigue, the
Countess Hameline yielded herself up to the conduct of her guides, and
suffered herself to be passively led whichever way they would. Nay, such
was the confusion of her spirits and the exhaustion of her strength,
that the worthy couple, who half bore, half led her, carried on their
discourse in her presence without her even understanding it.

"I ever thought your plan was folly," said Marthon. "Could you have
brought the young people together, indeed, we might have had a hold on
their gratitude, and a footing in their castle. But what chance of so
handsome a youth wedding this old fool?"

"Rizpah," said Hayraddin, "you have borne the name of a Christian, and
dwelt in the tents of those besotted people, till thou hast become a
partaker in their follies. How could I dream that he would have made
scruples about a few years' youth or age, when the advantages of the
match were so evident? And thou knowest, there would have been no moving
yonder coy wench to be so frank as this coming Countess here, who hangs
on our arms as dead a weight as a wool pack. I loved the lad too, and
would have done him a kindness: to wed him to this old woman was to make
his fortune, to unite him to Isabelle were to have brought on him De
la Marck, Burgundy, France--every one that challenges an interest in
disposing of her hand. And this silly woman's wealth being chiefly in
gold and jewels, we should have had our share. But the bow string has
burst, and the arrow failed. Away with her--we will bring her to William
with the Beard. By the time he has gorged himself with wassail, as
is his wont, he will not know an old Countess from a young one. Away,
Rizpah--bear a gallant heart. The bright Aldebaran still influences the
destinies of the Children of the Desert!"



CHAPTER XXI: THE SACK

     The gates of mercy shall be all shut up,
     And the flesh'd soldier, rough and hard of heart,
     In liberty of bloody hand shall range,
     With conscience wide as hell.

     HENRY V


The surprised and affrighted garrison of the Castle of Schonwaldt had,
nevertheless, for some time made good the defence of the place against
the assailants, but the immense crowds which, issuing from the city of
Liege, thronged to the assault like bees, distracted their attention,
and abated their courage.

There was also disaffection at least, if not treachery, among the
defenders, for some called out to surrender, and others, deserting their
posts, tried to escape from the castle. Many threw themselves from the
walls into the moat, and such as escaped drowning, flung aside their
distinguishing badges, and saved themselves by mingling among the motley
crowd of assailants. Some few, indeed, from attachment to the Bishop's
person, drew around him, and continued to defend the great keep, to
which he had fled, and others, doubtful of receiving quarter, or from
an impulse of desperate courage, held out other detached bulwarks and
towers of the extensive building. But the assailants had got possession
of the courts and lower parts of the edifice, and were busy pursuing
the vanquished, and searching for spoil, while one individual, as if he
sought for that death from which all others were flying, endeavoured to
force his way into the scene of tumult and horror, under apprehensions
still more horrible to his imagination than the realities around were to
his sight and senses. Whoever had seen Quentin Durward that fatal night,
not knowing the meaning of his conduct, had accounted him a raging
madman, whoever had appreciated his motives, had ranked him nothing
beneath a hero of romance.

Approaching Schonwaldt on the same side from which he had left it, the
youth met several fugitives making for the wood, who naturally avoided
him as an enemy, because he came in an opposite direction from that
which they had adopted. When he came nearer, he could hear, and partly
see, men dropping from the garden wall into the castle fosse, and others
who seemed precipitated from the battlements by the assailants. His
courage was not staggered, even for an instant. There was not time to
look for the boat, even had it been practicable to use it, and it was
in vain to approach the postern of the garden, which was crowded with
fugitives, who ever and anon, as they were thrust through it by the
pressure behind, fell into the moat which they had no means of crossing.

Avoiding that point, Quentin threw himself into the moat, near what was
called the little gate of the castle, and where there was a drawbridge,
which was still elevated. He avoided with difficulty the fatal grasp of
more than one sinking wretch, and, swimming to the drawbridge, caught
hold of one of the chains which was hanging down, and, by a great
exertion of strength and activity, swayed himself out of the water, and
attained the platform from which the bridge was suspended. As with hands
and knees he struggled to make good his footing, a lanzknecht, with his
bloody sword in his hand, made towards him, and raised his weapon for a
blow which must have been fatal.

"How now, fellow," said Quentin, in a tone of authority. "Is that the
way in which you assist a comrade?--Give me your hand."

The soldier in silence, and not without hesitation, reached him his arm,
and helped him upon the platform, when, without allowing him time for
reflection, the Scot continued in the same tone of command, "To the
western tower, if you would be rich--the Priest's treasury is in the
western tower."

The words were echoed on every hand: "To the western tower--the treasure
is in the western tower!" And the stragglers who were within, hearing of
the cry, took, like a herd of raging wolves, the direction opposite to
that which Quentin, come life, come death, was determined to pursue.

Bearing himself as if he were one, not of the conquered, but of the
victors, he made a way into the garden, and pushed across it with less
interruption than he could have expected, for the cry of "To the western
tower!" had carried off one body of the assailants, and another was
summoned together, by war cry and trumpet sound, to assist in repelling
a desperate sally, attempted by the defenders of the keep, who had hoped
to cut their way out of the castle, bearing the Bishop along with them.
Quentin, therefore, crossed the garden with an eager step and throbbing
heart, commending himself to those heavenly powers which had protected
him through the numberless perils of his life, and bold in his
determination to succeed, or leave his life in this desperate
undertaking. Ere he reached the garden, three men rushed on him with
levelled lances, crying, "Liege, Liege!"

Putting himself in defence, but without striking, he replied, "France,
France, friend to Liege."

"Vivat France!" cried the burghers of Liege, and passed on. The same
signal proved a talisman to avert the weapons of four or five of La
Marck's followers, whom he found straggling in the garden, and who set
upon him crying, "Sanglier!"

In a word, Quentin began to hope that his character as an emissary of
King Louis, the private instigator of the insurgents of Liege, and the
secret supporter of William de la Marck, might possibly bear him through
the horrors of the night.

On reaching the turret, he shuddered when he found that the little side
door, through which Marthon and the Countess Hameline had shortly before
joined him, was now blockaded with more than one dead body.

Two of them he dragged hastily aside, and was stepping over the third
body, in order to enter the portal, when the supposed dead man laid hand
on his cloak, and entreated him to stay and assist him to rise. Quentin
was about to use rougher methods than struggling to rid himself of this
untimely obstruction, when the fallen man continued to exclaim, "I am
stifled here, in mine own armour!--I am the Syndic Pavillon of Liege! If
you are for us, I will enrich you--if you are for the other side, I will
protect you, but do not--do not leave me to die the death of a smothered
pig!"

In the midst of this scene of blood and confusion, the presence of mind
of Quentin suggested to him that this dignitary might have the means of
protecting their retreat. He raised him on his feet, and asked him if he
was wounded.

"Not wounded, at least I think not," answered the burgher, "but much out
of wind."

"Sit down, then, on this stone, and recover your breath," said Quentin,
"I will return instantly."

"For whom are you?" said the burgher, still detaining him.

"For France--for France," answered Quentin, studying to get away.

"What! my lively young Archer?" said the worthy Syndic. "Nay, if it has
been my fate to find a friend in this fearful night, I will not quit
him, I promise you. Go where you will, I follow, and could I get some of
the tight lads of our guildry together, I might be able to help you in
turn, but they are all squandered abroad like so many pease.--Oh, it is
a fearful night!"

During this time, he was dragging himself on after Quentin, who, aware
of the importance of securing the countenance of a person of such
influence, slackened his pace to assist him, although cursing in his
heart the encumbrance that retarded his pace.

At the top of the stair was an anteroom, with boxes and trunks, which
bore marks of having been rifled, as some of the contents lay on the
floor. A lamp, dying in the chimney, shed a feeble beam on a dead or
senseless man who lay across the hearth.

Bounding from Pavillon like a greyhound from his keeper's leash, and
with an effort which almost overthrew him, Quentin sprang through a
second and a third room, the last of which seemed to be the bedroom of
the Ladies of Croye. No living mortal was to be seen in either of them.
He called upon the Lady Isabelle's name, at first gently, then more
loudly, and then with an accent of despairing emphasis, but no answer
was returned. He wrung his hands, tore his hair, and stamped on the
earth with desperation. At length a feeble glimmer of light, which shone
through a crevice in the wainscoting of a dark nook in the bedroom,
announced some recess or concealment behind the arras. Quentin hasted to
examine it. He found there was indeed a concealed room, but it resisted
his hurried efforts to open it. Heedless of the personal injury he might
sustain, he rushed at the door with the whole force and weight of
his body, and such was the impetus of an effort made betwixt hope and
despair, that it would have burst much stronger fastenings.

He thus forced his way, almost headlong, into a small oratory, where a
female figure, which had been kneeling in agonizing supplication before
the holy image, now sank at length on the floor, under the new terrors
implied in this approaching tumult. He hastily raised her from the
ground, and, joy of joys it was she whom he sought to save--the
Countess Isabelle. He pressed her to his bosom--he conjured her to
awake--entreated her to be of good cheer--for that she was now under
time protection of one who had heart and hand enough to defend her
against armies.

"Durward!" she said, as she at length collected herself, "is it indeed
you?--then there is some hope left. I thought all living and mortal
friends had left me to my fate.--Do not again abandon me."

"Never--never!" said Durward. "Whatever shall happen, whatever danger
shall approach, may I forfeit the benefits purchased by yonder blessed
sign, if I be not the sharer of your fate until it is again a happy
one!"

"Very pathetic and touching, truly," said a rough, broken, asthmatic
voice behind. "A love affair, I see, and, from my soul, I pity the
tender creature as if she were my own Trudchen."

"You must do more than pity," said Quentin, turning towards the speaker,
"you must assist in protecting us, Meinheer Pavillon. Be assured this
lady was put under my especial charge by your ally the King of France,
and, if you aid me not to shelter her from every species of offence and
violence, your city will lose the favour of Louis of Valois. Above all,
she must be guarded from the hands of William de la Marck."

"That will be difficult," said Pavillon, "for these schelms of
lanzknechts are very devils at rummaging out the wenches. But I'll do my
best.--We will to the other apartment, and there I will consider.--It is
but a narrow stair, and you can keep the door with a pike, while I look
from the window, and get together some of my brisk boys of the curriers'
guildry of Liege, that are as true as the knives they wear in their
girdles.--But first undo me these clasps--for I have not worn this
corselet since the battle of Saint Tron [fought by the insurgents of
Liege against the Duke of Burgundy, Charles the Bold, when Count
of Charalois, in which the people of Liege were defeated with great
slaughter. S.] and I am three stone heavier since that time, if there be
truth in Dutch beam and scale."

The undoing of the iron enclosure gave great relief to the honest man,
who, in putting it on, had more considered his zeal to the cause of
Liege, than his capacity of bearing arms. It afterwards turned out that
being, as it were, borne forward involuntarily, and hoisted over the
walls by his company as they thronged to the assault, the magistrate had
been carried here and there, as the tide of attack and defence flowed
or ebbed, without the power, latterly, of even uttering a word until, as
the sea casts a log of driftwood ashore in the first creek, he had been
ultimately thrown in the entrance to the Ladies of Croye's apartments,
where the encumbrance of his own armour, with the superincumbent weight
of two men slain in the entrance, and who fell above him, might have
fixed him down long enough, had he not been relieved by Durward.

The same warmth of temper which rendered Hermann Pavillon a hot headed
and intemperate zealot in politics, had the more desirable consequence
of making him, in private, a good tempered, kind hearted man, who,
if sometimes a little misled by vanity, was always well meaning and
benevolent. He told Quentin to have an especial care of the poor pretty
yung frau [young woman], and, after this unnecessary exhortation, began
to halloo from the window, "Liege, Liege, for the gallant skinners'
guild of curriers!"

One or two of his immediate followers collected at the summons and at
the peculiar whistle with which it was accompanied (each of the
crafts having such a signal among themselves), and, more joining
them, established a guard under the window from which their leader was
bawling, and before the postern door.

Matters seemed now settling into some sort of tranquillity. All
opposition had ceased, and the leaders of the different classes of
assailants were taking measures to prevent indiscriminate plunder. The
great bell was tolled, a summons to a military counsel, and its iron
tongue communicating to Liege the triumphant possession of Schonwaldt
by the insurgents, was answered by all the bells in that city, whose
distant and clamorous voices seemed to cry, Hail to the victors! It
would have been natural that Meinheer Pavillon should now have sallied
from his fastness, but either in reverent care of those whom he had
taken under his protection, or perhaps for the better assurance of
his own safety, he contented himself with dispatching messenger on
messenger, to command his lieutenant, Peterkin Geislaer, to attend him
directly.

Peterkin came, at length, to his great relief, as being the person upon
whom, on all pressing occasions, whether of war, politics, or commerce,
Pavillon was most accustomed to repose confidence. He was a stout, squat
figure, with a square face and broad black eyebrows, that announced him
to be opinionative and disputatious,--an advice giving countenance,
so to speak. He was endued with a buff jerkin, wore a broad belt and
cutlass by his side, and carried a halberd in his hand.

"Peterkin, my dear lieutenant," said the commander, "this has been a
glorious day--night I should say--I trust thou art pleased for once."

"I am well enough pleased that you are so," said the doughty lieutenant,
"though I should not have thought of your celebrating the victory, if
you call it one, up in this garret by yourself, when you are wanted in
council."

"But am I wanted there?" said the Syndic.

"Ay, marry are you, to stand up for the rights of Liege, that are in
more danger than ever," answered the lieutenant.

"Pshaw, Peterkin," answered his principal, "thou art ever such a
frampold grumbler--"

"Grumbler? not I," said Peterkin, "what pleases other people will always
please me. Only I wish we have not got King Stork, instead of King Log,
like the fabliau [fable] that the Clerk of Saint Lambert's used to read
us out of Meister Aesop's book."

[Refers to Aesop's fable. The commonwealth of frogs, having conceived an
aversion for their amiable king Log, asked Jupiter to send them another
sovereign. He accordingly bestowed upon them a stork who gradually
devoured all his subjects.]

"I cannot guess your meaning," said the Syndic.

"Why then, I tell you, Master Pavillon, that this Boar or Bear is like
to make his own den of Schonwaldt, and is probable to turn out as bad a
neighbour to our town as ever was the old Bishop, and worse. Here has he
taken the whole conquest in his own hand, and is only doubting whether
he should be called Prince or Bishop--and it is a shame to see how they
have mishandled the old man among them."

"I will not permit it, Peterkin," said Pavillon, hustling up, "I
disliked the mitre, but not the head that wore it. We are ten to one in
the field, Peterkin, and will not permit these courses."

"Ay, ten to one in the field, but only man to man in the castle, besides
that Nikkel Blok the butcher, and all the rabble of the suburbs, take
part with William de la Marck, partly for saus and braus [means here
carousing] (for he has broached all the ale tubs and wine casks),
and partly for old envy towards us, who are the craftsmen, and have
privileges."

"Peter," said Pavillon, "we will go presently to the city. I will stay
no longer in Schonwaldt."

"But the bridges of this castle are up, master," said Geislaer--"the
gates locked, and guarded by these lanzknechts, and, if we were to try
to force our way, these fellows, whose everyday business is war, might
make wild work of us that only fight of a holyday."

"But why has he secured the gates?" said the alarmed burgher, "or what
business hath he to make honest men prisoners?"

"I cannot tell--not I," said Peter. "Some noise there is about the
Ladies of Croye, who have escaped during the storm of the castle. That
first put the Man with the Beard beside himself with anger, and now he
's beside himself with drink also."

The Burgomaster cast a disconsolate look towards Quentin, and seemed
at a loss what to resolve upon. Durward, who had not lost a word of the
conversation, which alarmed him very much, saw nevertheless that their
only safety depended on his preserving his own presence of mind,
and sustaining the courage of Pavillon. He struck boldly into
the conversation, as one who had a right to have a voice in the
deliberation.

"I am ashamed," he said, "Meinheer Pavillon, to observe you hesitate
what to do on this occasion. Go boldly to William de la Marck, and
demand free leave to quit the castle, you, your lieutenant, your squire,
and your daughter. He can have no pretence for keeping you prisoner."

"For me and my lieutenant--that is myself and Peter?--Good--but who is
my squire?"

"I am for the present," replied the undaunted Scot.

"You!" said the embarrassed burgess, "but are you not the envoy of King
Louis of France?"

"True, but my message is to the magistrates of Liege--and only in Liege
will I deliver it.--Were I to acknowledge my quality before William de
la Marck, must I not enter into negotiations with him? Ay, and, it is
like, be detained by him. You must get me secretly out of the castle in
the capacity of your squire."

"Good--my squire--but you spoke of my daughter--my daughter is, I trust,
safe in my house in Liege--where I wish her father was, with all my
heart and soul."

"This lady," said Durward, "will call you father while we are in this
place."

"And for my whole life afterwards," said the Countess, throwing herself
at the citizen's feet, and clasping his knees.

"Never shall the day pass in which I will not honour you, love you, and
pray for you as a daughter for a father, if you will but aid me in this
fearful strait.--Oh, be not hard hearted! Think, your own daughter may
kneel to a stranger, to ask him for life and honour--think of this, and
give me the protection you would wish her to receive!"

"In troth," said the good citizen, much moved with her pathetic appeal,
"I think, Peter, that this pretty maiden hath a touch of our Trudchen's
sweet look--I thought so from the first, and that this brisk youth here,
who is so ready with his advice, is somewhat like Trudchen's bachelor--I
wager a groat, Peter, that this is a true love matter, and it is a sin
not to further it."

"It were shame and sin both," said Peter, a good natured Fleming,
notwithstanding all his self conceit, and as he spoke he wiped his eyes
with the sleeve of his jerkin.

"She shall be my daughter, then," said Pavillon, "well wrapped up in her
black silk veil and if there are not enough of true hearted skinners
to protect her, being the daughter of their Syndic, it were pity
they should ever tug leather more.--But hark ye--questions must be
answered--How if I am asked what should my daughter make here at such an
onslaught?"

"What should half the women in Liege make here when they followed us to
the castle?" said Peter. "They had no other reason, sure, but that it
was just the place in the world that they should not have come to. Our
yung frau Trudchen has come a little farther than the rest--that is
all."

"Admirably spoken," said Quentin, "only be bold, and take this
gentleman's good counsel, noble Meinheer Pavillon, and, at no trouble
to yourself, you will do the most worthy action since the days of
Charlemagne.--Here, sweet lady, wrap yourself close in this veil" (for
many articles of female apparel lay scattered about the apartment)--"be
but confident, and a few minutes will place you in freedom and safety.
Noble Sir," he added, addressing Pavillon, "set forward."

"Hold--hold--hold a minute," said Pavillon, "my mind misgives me!--This
De la Marck is a fury, a perfect boar in his nature as in his name, what
if the young lady be one of those of Croye?--and what if he discover
her, and be addicted to wrath?"

"And if I were one of those unfortunate women," said Isabelle, again
attempting to throw herself at his feet, "could you for that reject me
in this moment of despair? Oh, that I had been indeed your daughter, or
the daughter of the poorest burgher!"

"Not so poor--not so poor neither, young lady--we pay as we go," said
the citizen.

"Forgive me, noble sir," again began the unfortunate maiden.

"Not noble, nor sir, neither," said the Syndic, "a plain burgher of
Liege, that pays bills of exchange in ready guilders.--But that is
nothing to the purpose.--Well, say you be a countess, I will protect you
nevertheless."

"You are bound to protect her, were she a duchess," said Peter, "having
once passed your word."

"Right, Peter, very right," said the Syndic "it is our old Low Dutch
fashion, ein wort, ein man [a man of his word], and now let us to this
gear. We must take leave of this William de la Marck, and yet I know
not, my mind misgives me when I think of him, and were it a ceremony
which could be waived, I have no stomach to go through it."

"Were you not better, since you have a force together, to make for the
gate and force the guard?" said Quentin.

But with united voice, Pavillon and his adviser exclaimed against the
propriety of such an attack upon their ally's soldiers, with some hints
concerning its rashness, which satisfied Quentin that it was not a risk
to be hazarded with such associates.

They resolved, therefore, to repair boldly to the great hall of the
castle, where, as they understood, the Wild Boar of Ardennes held his
feast, and demand free egress for the Syndic of Liege and his company,
a request too reasonable, as it seemed, to be denied. Still the good
burgomaster groaned when he looked on his companions, and exclaimed to
his faithful Peter, "See what it is to have too bold and too tender a
heart! Alas! Peterkin, how much have courage and humanity cost me! and
how much may I yet have to pay for my virtues, before Heaven makes us
free of this damned Castle of Schonwaldt!"

As they crossed the courts, still strewed with the dying and dead,
Quentin, while he supported Isabelle through the scene of horrors,
whispered to her courage and comfort, and reminded her that her safety
depended entirely on her firmness and presence of mind.

"Not on mine--not on mine," she said, "but on yours--on yours only. Oh,
if I but escape this fearful night, never shall I forget him who saved
me! One favour more only, let me implore at your hand, and I conjure you
to grant it, by your mother's fame and your father's honour!"

"What is it you can ask that I could refuse?" said Quentin, in a
whisper.

"Plunge your dagger in my heart," said she, "rather than leave me
captive in the hands of these monsters."

Quentin's only answer was a pressure of the young Countess's hand, which
seemed as if, but for terror, it would have returned the caress.
And, leaning on her youthful protector, she entered the fearful hall,
preceded by Pavillon and his lieutenant, and followed by a dozen of the
Kurschenschaft, or skinner's trade, who attended as a guard of honour on
the Syndic.

As they approached the hall, the yells of acclamation and bursts of wild
laughter which proceeded from it, seemed rather to announce the revel of
festive demons, rejoicing after some accomplished triumph over the
human race, than of mortal beings who had succeeded in a bold design.
An emphatic tone of mind, which despair alone could have inspired,
supported the assumed courage of the Countess Isabelle, undaunted
spirits, which rose with the extremity, maintained that of Durward,
while Pavillon and his lieutenant made a virtue of necessity, and faced
their fate like bears bound to a stake, which must necessarily stand the
dangers of the course.



CHAPTER XXII: THE REVELLERS

     Cade.--Where's Dick, the butcher of Ashford?
     Dick.--Here, sir.
     Cade.--They fell before thee like sheep and oxen, and thou
     behavedst thyself as if thou hadst been in thine own slaughter
     house.

     SECOND PART OF KING HENRY V.


There could hardly exist a more strange and horrible change than had
taken place in the castle hall of Schonwaldt since Quentin had partaken
of the noontide meal there, and it was indeed one which painted, in
the extremity of their dreadful features, the miseries of war--more
especially when waged by those most relentless of all agents, the
mercenary soldiers of a barbarous age--men who, by habit and profession,
had become familiarized with all that was cruel and bloody in the art
of war, while they were devoid alike of patriotism and of the romantic
spirit of chivalry.

Instead of the orderly, decent, and somewhat formal meal, at which civil
and ecclesiastical officers had, a few hours before, sat mingled in the
same apartment, where a light jest could only be uttered in a whisper,
and where, even amid superfluity of feasting and of wine, there reigned
a decorum which almost amounted to hypocrisy, there was now such a scene
of wild and roaring debauchery as Satan himself, had he taken the chair
as founder of the feast, could scarcely have improved.

At the head of the table sat, in the Bishop's throne and state, which
had been hastily brought thither from his great council chamber, the
redoubted Boar of Ardennes himself, well deserving that dreaded name in
which he affected to delight, and which he did as much as he could think
of to deserve.

His head was unhelmeted, but he wore the rest of his ponderous and
bright armour, which indeed he rarely laid aside. Over his shoulders
hung a strong surcoat, made of the dressed skin of a huge wild boar, the
hoofs being of solid silver and the tusks of the same. The skin of the
head was so arranged, that, drawn over the casque, when the Baron was
armed, or over his bare head in the fashion of a hood, as he often
affected when the helmet was laid aside, and as he now wore it, the
effect was that of a grinning, ghastly monster, and yet the countenance
which it overshadowed scarce required such horrors to improve those
which were natural to its ordinary expression.

The upper part of De la Marck's face, as Nature had formed it, almost
gave the lie to his character, for though his hair, when uncovered,
resembled the rude and wild bristles of the hood he had drawn over
it, yet an open, high, and manly forehead, broad ruddy cheeks, large,
sparkling, light coloured eyes, and a nose which looked like the beak
of the eagle, promised something valiant and generous. But the effect of
these more favourable traits was entirely overpowered by his habits of
violence and insolence, which, joined to debauchery and intemperance,
had stamped upon the features a character inconsistent with the rough
gallantry which they would otherwise have exhibited. The former had,
from habitual indulgence, swollen the muscles of the cheeks and those
around the eyes, in particular the latter; evil practices and habits had
dimmed the eyes themselves, reddened the part of them that should have
been white, and given the whole face a hideous likeness of the monster
which it was the terrible Baron's pleasure to resemble. But from an odd
sort of contradiction, De la March, while he assumed in other respects
the appearance of the Wild Boar, and even seemed pleased with the name,
yet endeavoured, by the length and growth of his beard, to conceal the
circumstance that had originally procured him that denomination. This
was an unusual thickness and projection of the mouth and upper jaw,
which, with the huge projecting side teeth, gave that resemblance to the
bestial creation, which, joined to the delight that De la Marck had in
hunting the forest so called, originally procured for him the name of
the Boar of Ardennes. The beard, broad, grisly, and uncombed, neither
concealed the natural horrors of the countenance, nor dignified its
brutal expression.

The soldiers and officers sat around the table, intermixed with the men
of Liege, some of them of the very lowest description, among whom Nikkel
Blok the butcher, placed near De la Marck himself, was distinguished by
his tucked up sleeves, which displayed arms smeared to the elbows
with blood, as was the cleaver which lay on the table before him. The
soldiers wore, most of them, their beards long and grisly, in imitation
of their leader, had their hair plaited and turned upwards, in the
manner that ought best improve the natural ferocity of their appearance,
and intoxicated, as many of them seemed to be, partly with the sense of
triumph, and partly with the long libations of wine which they had been
quaffing, presented a spectacle at once hideous and disgusting. The
language which they held, and the songs which they sang, without even
pretending to pay each other the compliment of listening, were so full
of license and blasphemy, that Quentin blessed God that the extremity of
the noise prevented them from being intelligible to his companion.

It only remains to say of the better class of burghers who were
associated with William de la Marck's soldiers in this fearful revel
that the wan faces and anxious mien of the greater part showed that they
either disliked their entertainment, or feared their companions, while
some of lower education, or a nature more brutal, saw only in the
excesses of the soldier a gallant bearing, which they would willingly
imitate, and the tone of which they endeavoured to catch so far as was
possible, and stimulated themselves to the task, by swallowing immense
draughts of wine and schwarzbier [black beer]--indulging a vice 'which
at all times was too common in the Low Countries.

The preparations for the feast had been as disorderly as the quality of
the company. The whole of the Bishop's plate--nay, even that belonging
to the service of the Church--for the Boar of Ardennes regarded not the
imputation of sacrilege--was mingled with black jacks, or huge tankards
made of leather, and drinking horns of the most ordinary description.

One circumstance of horror remains to be added and accounted for, and we
willingly leave the rest of the scene to the imagination of the reader.
Amidst the wild license assumed by the soldiers of De la Marck, one who
was excluded from the table (a lanzknecht, remarkable for his courage
and for his daring behaviour during the storm of the evening), had
impudently snatched up a large silver goblet, and carried it off
declaring it should atone for his loss of the share of the feast.
The leader laughed till his sides shook at a jest so congenial to the
character of the company, but when another, less renowned, it would
seem, for audacity in battle, ventured on using the same freedom, De la
Marck instantly put a check to a jocular practice, which would soon have
cleared his table of all the more valuable decorations.

"Ho! by the spirit of the thunder!" he exclaimed, "those who dare not be
men when they face the enemy, must not pretend to be thieves among their
friends. What! thou frontless dastard, thou--thou who didst wait for
opened gate and lowered bridge, when Conrade Horst forced his way over
moat and wall, must thou be malapert?--Knit him up to the stanchions of
the hall window!--He shall beat time with his feet, while we drink a cup
to his safe passage to the devil."

The doom was scarce sooner pronounced than accomplished, and in a moment
the wretch wrestled out his last agonies, suspended from the iron bars.
His body still hung there when Quentin and the others entered the
hall, and, intercepting the pale moonbeam, threw on the castle floor an
uncertain shadow, which dubiously, yet fearfully, intimated the nature
of the substance that produced it.

When the Syndic Pavillon was announced from mouth to mouth in this
tumultuous meeting, he endeavoured to assume, in right of his authority
and influence, an air of importance and equality, which a glance at the
fearful object at the window, and at the wild scene around him, rendered
it very difficult for him to sustain, notwithstanding the exhortations
of Peter, who whispered in his ear with some perturbation, "Up heart,
master, or we are but gone men!"

The Syndic maintained his dignity, however, as well as he could, in
a short address, in which he complimented the company upon the great
victory gained by the soldiers of De la Marck and the good citizens of
Liege.

"Ay," answered De la Marck, sarcastically, "we have brought down the
game at last, quoth my lady's brach to the wolf hound. But ho! Sir
Burgomaster, you come like Mars, with Beauty by your side. Who is this
fair one?--Unveil, unveil--no woman calls her beauty her own tonight."

"It is my daughter, noble leader," answered Pavillon, "and I am to pray
your forgiveness for her wearing a veil. She has a vow for that effect
to the Three Blessed Kings."

"I will absolve her of it presently," said De la Marck, "for here, with
one stroke of a cleaver, will I consecrate myself Bishop of Liege, and I
trust one living bishop is worth three dead kings."

There was a shuddering and murmur among the guests, for the community
of Liege, and even some of the rude soldiers, reverenced the Kings of
Cologne, as they were commonly called, though they respected nothing
else.

"Nay, I mean no treason against their defunct majesties," said De la
Marck, "only Bishop I am determined to be. A prince both secular and
ecclesiastical, having power to bind and loose, will best suit a band of
reprobates such as you, to whom no one else would give absolution.--But
come hither, noble Burgomaster--sit beside me, when you shall see me
make a vacancy for my own preferment.--Bring in our predecessor in the
holy seat."

A bustle took place in the hall, while Pavillon, excusing himself from
the proffered seat of honour, placed himself near the bottom of the
table, his followers keeping close behind him, not unlike a flock of
sheep which, when a stranger dog is in presence, may be sometimes seen
to assemble in the rear of an old bell wether, who is, from office and
authority, judged by them to have rather more courage than themselves.
Near the spot sat a very handsome lad, a natural son, as was said,
of the ferocious De la Marck, and towards whom he sometimes showed
affection, and even tenderness. The mother of the boy, a beautiful
concubine, had perished by a blow dealt her by the ferocious leader in
a fit of drunkenness or jealousy, and her fate had caused her tyrant
as much remorse as he was capable of feeling. His attachment to the
surviving orphan might be partly owing to these circumstances. Quentin,
who had learned this point of the leader's character from the old
priest, planted himself as close as he could to the youth in question,
determined to make him, in some way or other, either a hostage or a
protector, should other means of safety fail them.

While all stood in a kind of suspense, waiting the event of the orders
which the tyrant had issued, one of Pavillon's followers whispered
Peter, "Did not our master call that wench his daughter?--Why, it cannot
be our Trudchen. This strapping lass is taller by two inches, and there
is a black lock of hair peeps forth yonder from under her veil. By Saint
Michael of the Marketplace, you might as well call a black bullock's
hide a white heifer's!

"Hush! hush!" said Peter, with some presence of mind. "What if our
'master hath a mind to steal a piece of doe venison out of the Bishop's
parks here, without our good dame's knowledge? And is it for thee or me
to be a spy on him?"

"That will not I," answered the other, "though I would not have thought
of his turning deer stealer at his years. Sapperment--what a shy fairy
it is! See how she crouches down on yonder seat, behind folks' backs, to
escape the gaze of the Marckers.--But hold, hold, what are they about to
do with the poor old Bishop?"

As he spoke, the Bishop of Liege, Louis of Bourbon, was dragged into the
hall of his own palace by the brutal soldiery. The dishevelled state
of his hair, beard, and attire bore witness to the ill treatment he had
already received, and some of his sacerdotal robes, hastily flung over
him, appeared to have been put on in scorn and ridicule of his quality
and character. By good fortune, as Quentin was compelled to think it,
the Countess Isabelle, whose feelings at seeing her protector in such an
extremity might have betrayed her own secret and compromised her safety,
was so situated as neither to hear nor see what was about to take place,
and Durward sedulously interposed his own person before her, so as to
keep her from observing alike and from observation.

The scene which followed was short and fearful. When the unhappy Prelate
was brought before the footstool of the savage leader, although in
former life only remarkable for his easy and good natured temper, he
showed in this extremity a sense of his dignity and noble blood,
well becoming the high race from which he was descended. His look was
composed and undismayed, his gesture, when the rude hands which dragged
him forward were unloosed, was noble, and at the same time resigned,
somewhat between the bearing of a feudal noble and of a Christian martyr
and so much was even De la Marck himself staggered by the firm demeanour
of his prisoner and recollection of the early benefits he had received
from him, that he seemed irresolute, cast down his eyes, and it was not
until he had emptied a large goblet of wine, that, resuming his haughty
insolence of look and manner, he thus addressed his unfortunate captive.

"Louis of Bourbon," said the truculent soldier, drawing hard his breath,
clenching 'his hands, setting his teeth, and using the other mechanical
actions to rouse up and sustain his native ferocity of temper, "I sought
your friendship, and you rejected mine. What would you now give that it
had been otherwise?--Nikkel, be ready."

The butcher rose, seized his weapon, and stealing round behind De la
Marck's chair, stood with it uplifted in his bare and sinewy hands.

"Look at that man, Louis of Bourbon," said De la Marck again,--"What
terms wilt thou now offer, to escape this dangerous hour?"

The Bishop cast a melancholy but unshaken look upon the grisly
satellite, who seemed prepared to execute the will of the tyrant, and
then he said with firmness, "Hear me, William de la Marck, and good men
all, if there be any here who deserve that name, hear the only terms I
can offer to this ruffian.

"William de la Marck, thou hast stirred up to sedition an imperial
city--hast assaulted and taken the palace of a Prince of the Holy German
Empire--slain his people--plundered his goods--maltreated his person,
for this thou art liable to the Ban of the Empire [to put a prince
under the ban of the empire was to divest him of his dignities, and
to interdict all intercourse and all offices of humanity with the
offender]--hast deserved to be declared outlawed and fugitive, landless
and rightless. Thou hast done more than all this. More than mere
human laws hast thou broken, more than mere human vengeance hast thou
deserved. Thou hast broken into the sanctuary of the Lord--laid violent
hands upon a Father of the Church--defiled the house of God with blood
and rapine, like a sacrilegious robber--"

"Hast thou yet done?" said De la Marck, fiercely interrupting him, and
stamping with his foot.

"No," answered the Prelate, "for I have not yet told thee the terms
which you demanded to hear from me."

"Go on," said De la Marck, "and let the terms please me better than the
preface, or woe to thy gray head!"

And flinging himself back in his seat, he grinded his teeth till the
foam flew from his lips, as from the tusks of the savage animal whose
name and spoils he wore.

"Such are thy crimes," resumed the Bishop, with calm determination, "now
hear the terms, which, as a merciful Prince and a Christian Prelate,
setting aside all personal offence, forgiving each peculiar injury,
I condescend to offer. Fling down thy heading staff--renounce thy
command--unbind thy prisoners--restore thy spoil--distribute what else
thou hast of goods, to relieve those whom thou hast made orphans and
widows--array thyself in sackcloth and ashes--take a palmer's staff in
thy hand, and go barefooted on pilgrimage to Rome, and we will ourselves
be intercessors for thee with the Imperial Chamber at Ratisbon for thy
life, With our Holy Father the Pope for thy miserable soul."

While Louis of Bourbon proposed these terms, in a tone as decided as if
he still occupied his episcopal throne, and as if the usurper kneeled
a suppliant at his feet, the tyrant slowly raised himself in his chair,
the amazement with which he was at first filled giving way gradually to
rage, until, as the Bishop ceased, he looked to Nikkel Blok, and raised
his finger, without speaking a word. The ruffian struck as if he had
been doing his office in the common shambles, and the murdered Bishop
sunk, without a groan, at the foot of his own episcopal throne. The
Liegeois, who were not prepared for so horrible a catastrophe, and who
had expected to hear the conference end in some terms of accommodation,
started up unanimously, with cries of execration, mingled with shouts of
vengeance.

[In assigning the present date to the murder of the Bishop of Liege,
Louis de Bourbon, history has been violated. It is true that the Bishop
was made prisoner by the insurgents of that city. It is also true that
the report of the insurrection came to Charles with a rumour that the
Bishop was slain, which excited his indignation against Louis, who was
then in his power. But these things happened in 1468, and the Bishop's
murder did not take place till 1482. In the months of August and
September of that year, William de la Marck, called the Wild Boar of
Ardennes, entered into a conspiracy with the discontented citizens
of Liege against their Bishop, Louis of Bourbon, being aided with
considerable sums of money by the King of France. By this means, and the
assistance of many murderers and banditti, who thronged to him as to a
leader befitting them, De la Marck assembled a body of troops, whom he
dressed in scarlet as a uniform, with a boar's head on the left sleeve.
With this little army he approached the city of Liege. Upon this the
citizens, who were engaged in the conspiracy, came to their Bishop, and,
offering to stand by him to the death, exhorted him to march out against
these robbers. The Bishop, therefore, put himself at the head of a few
troops of his own, trusting to the assistance of the people of Liege.
But so soon as they came in sight of the enemy, the citizens, as before
agreed, fled from the Bishop's banner, and he was left with his own
handful of adherents. At this moment De la Marck charged at the head of
his banditti with the expected success. The Bishop was brought before
the profligate Knight, who first cut him over the face, then murdered
him with his own hand, and caused his body to be exposed naked in the
great square of Liege before Saint Lambert's Cathedral. S.]

But William de la Marck, raising his tremendous voice above the tumult,
and shaking his clenched hand and extended arm, shouted aloud, "How now,
ye porkers of Liege! ye wallowers in the mud of the Maes!--do ye dare to
mate yourselves with the Wild Boar of Ardennes?--Up, ye Boar's brood!"
(an expression by which he himself, and others, often designated his
soldiers) "let these Flemish hogs see your tusks!"

Every one of his followers started up at the command, and mingled as
they were among their late allies, prepared too for such a surprisal,
each had, in an instant, his next neighbour by the collar, while his
right hand brandished a broad dagger that glimmered against lamplight
and moonshine. Every arm was uplifted, but no one struck, for the
victims were too much surprised for resistance, 'and it was probably the
object of De la Marck only to impose terror on his civic confederates.

But the courage of Quentin Durward, prompt and alert in resolution
beyond his years, and stimulated at the moment by all that could add
energy to his natural shrewdness and resolution, gave a new turn to the
scene. Imitating the action of the followers of De la Marck, he sprang
on Carl Eberson, the son of their leader, and mastering him with ease,
held his dirk at the boy's throat, while he exclaimed, "Is that your
game? then here I play my part."

"Hold! hold!" exclaimed De la Marck, "it is a jest--a jest.--Think you I
would injure my good friends and allies of the city of Liege!--Soldiers,
unloose your holds, sit down, take away the carrion" (giving the
Bishop's corpse a thrust with his foot) "which hath caused this strife
among friends, and let us drown unkindness in a fresh carouse."

All unloosened their holds, and the citizens and the soldiers stood
gazing on each other, as if they scarce knew whether they were friends
or foes. Quentin Durward took advantage of the moment.

"Hear me," he said, "William de la Marck, and you, burghers and citizens
of Liege--and do you, young sir, stand still" (for the boy Carl was
attempting to escape from his grip)--"no harm shall befall you unless
another of these sharp jests shall pass around."

"Who art thou, in the fiend's name," said the astonished De la Marck,
"who art come to hold terms and take hostages from us in our own
lair--from us, who exact pledges from others, but yield them to no one?"

"I am a servant of King Louis of France," said Quentin, boldly, "an
Archer of his Scottish Guard, as my language and dress may partly tell
you. I am here to behold and to report your proceedings, and I see
with wonder that they are those of heathens, rather than Christians--of
madmen, rather than men possessed of reason. The hosts of Charles of
Burgundy will be instantly in motion against you all, and if you wish
assistance from France, you must conduct yourself in a different manner.

"For you, men of Liege, I advise your instant return to your own city,
and if there is any obstruction offered to your departure, I denounce
those by whom it is so offered, foes to my master, his Most Gracious
Majesty of France."

"France and Liege! France and Liege!" cried the followers of Pavillon,
and several other citizens whose courage began to rise at the bold
language held by Quentin.

"France and Liege, and long live the gallant Archer! We will live and
die with him!"

William de la Marck's eyes sparkled, and he grasped his dagger as if
about to launch it at the heart of the audacious speaker, but glancing
his eye around, he read something in the looks of his soldiers which
even he was obliged to respect. Many of them were Frenchmen, and all of
them knew the private support which William had received, both in men
and in money, from that kingdom, nay, some of them were rather startled
at the violent and sacrilegious action which had been just committed.
The name of Charles of Burgundy, a person likely to resent to the utmost
the deeds of that night, had an alarming sound, and the extreme impolicy
of at once quarrelling with the Liegeois and provoking the Monarch of
France, made an appalling impression on their minds, confused as their
intellects were. De la Marck, in short, saw he would not be supported,
even by his own band, in any farther act of immediate violence, and
relaxing the terrors of his brow and eye, declared that he had not the
least design against his good friends of Liege, all of whom were at
liberty to depart from Schonwaldt at their pleasure, although he had
hoped they would revel one night with him, at least, in honour of their
victory. He added, with more calmness than he commonly used, that he
would be ready to enter into negotiation concerning the partition of
spoil, and the arrangement of measures for their mutual defence, either
the next day, or as soon after as they would. Meantime he trusted that
the Scottish gentleman would honour his feast by remaining all night at
Schonwaldt.

The young Scot returned his thanks, but said his motions must be
determined by those of Pavillon, to whom he was directed particularly
to attach himself, but that, unquestionably, he would attend him on his
next return to the quarters of the valiant William de la Marck.

"If you depend on my motions," said Pavillon, hastily and aloud, "you
are likely to quit Schonwaldt without an instant's delay--and, if you do
not come back to Schonwaldt, save in my company, you are not likely to
see it again in a hurry."

This last part of the sentence the honest citizen muttered to himself,
afraid of the consequences of giving audible vent 'to feelings which,
nevertheless, he was unable altogether to suppress.

"Keep close about me, my brisk Kurschner [a worker in fur] lads." he
said to his bodyguard, "and we will get as fast as we can out of this
den of thieves."

Most of the better classes of the Liegeois seemed to entertain similar
opinions with the Syndic, and there had been scarce so much joy amongst
them at the obtaining possession of Schonwaldt as now seemed to arise
from the prospect of getting safe out of it. They were suffered to leave
the castle without opposition of any kind, and glad was Quentin when he
turned his back on those formidable walls.

For the first time since they had entered that dreadful hall, Quentin
ventured to ask the young Countess how she did.

"Well, well," she answered, in feverish haste, "excellently well--do
not stop to ask a question, let us not lose an instant in words.--Let us
fly--let us fly!"

She endeavoured to mend her pace as she spoke, but with so little
success that she must have fallen from exhaustion had not Durward
supported her. With the tenderness of a mother, when she conveys her
infant out of danger, the young Scot raised his precious charge in his
arms, and while she encircled his neck with one arm, lost to every other
thought save the desire of escaping, he would not have wished one of the
risks of the night unencountered, since such had been the conclusion.

The honest Burgomaster was, in his turn, supported and dragged forward
by his faithful counsellor Peter, and another of his clerks, and thus,
in breathless haste, they reached the banks of the river, encountering
many strolling bands of citizens, who were eager to know the event of
the siege, and the truth of certain rumours already afloat that the
conquerors had quarrelled among themselves.

Evading their curiosity as they best could, the exertions of Peter and
some of his companions at length procured a boat for the use of the
company, and with it an opportunity of enjoying some repose, equally
welcome to Isabelle, who continued to lie almost motionless in the arms
of her deliverer, and to the worthy Burgomaster, who, after delivering a
broken string of thanks to Durward, whose mind was at the time too much
occupied to answer him, began a long harangue, which he addressed to
Peter, upon his own courage and benevolence, and the dangers to which
these virtues had exposed him, on this and other occasions.

"Peter, Peter," he said, resuming the complaint of the preceding
evening, "if I had not had a bold heart, I would never have stood out
against paying the burghers twentieths, when every other living soul
was willing to pay the same.--Ay, and then a less stout heart had not
seduced me into that other battle of Saint Tron, where a Hainault man
at arms thrust me into a muddy ditch with his lance, which neither heart
nor hand that I had could help me out of till the battle was over.--Ay,
and then, Peter, this very night my courage seduced me, moreover, into
too strait a corselet, which would have been the death of me, but
for the aid of this gallant young gentleman, whose trade is fighting,
whereof I wish him heartily joy. And then for my tenderness of heart,
Peter, it has made a poor man of me, that is, it would have made a
poor man of me, if I had not been tolerably well to pass in this wicked
world--and Heaven knows what trouble it is likely to bring on me yet,
with ladies, countesses, and keeping of secrets, which, for aught I
know, may cost me half my fortune, and my neck into the bargain!"

Quentin could remain no longer silent, but assured him that whatever
danger or damage he should incur on the part of the young lady now under
his protection should be thankfully acknowledged, and, as far as was
possible, repaid.

"I thank you, young Master Squire Archer, I thank you," answered the
citizen of Liege "but who was it told you that I desired any repayment
at your hand for doing the duty of an honest man? I only regretted that
it might cost me so and so, and I hope I may have leave to say so much
to my lieutenant, without either grudging my loss or my peril."

Quentin accordingly concluded that his present friend was one of the
numerous class of benefactors to others, who take out their reward in
grumbling, without meaning more than, by showing their grievances,
to exalt a little the idea of the valuable service by which they have
incurred them, and therefore prudently remained silent, and suffered the
Syndic to maunder on to his lieutenant concerning the risk and the
loss he had encountered by his zeal for the public good, and his
disinterested services to individuals, until they reached his own
habitation.

The truth was, that the honest citizen felt that he had lost a little
consequence, by suffering the young stranger to take the lead at the
crisis which had occurred at the castle hall of Schonwaldt, and, however
delighted with the effect of Durward's interference at the moment, it
seemed to him, on reflection, that he had sustained a diminution
of importance, for which he endeavoured to obtain compensation by
exaggerating the claims which he had upon the gratitude of his country
in general, his friends in particular, and more especially still, on the
Countess of Croye, and her youthful protector.

But when the boat stopped at the bottom of his garden, and he had got
himself assisted on shore by Peter, it seemed as if the touch of his own
threshold had at once dissipated those feelings of wounded self opinion
and jealousy, and converted the discontented and obscured demagogue into
the honest, kind, hospitable, and friendly host. He called loudly for
Trudchen, who presently appeared, for fear and anxiety would permit few
within the walls of Liege to sleep during that eventful night. She was
charged to pay the utmost attention to the care of the beautiful and
half fainting stranger, and, admiring her personal charms, while she
pitied her distress, Gertrude discharged the hospitable duty with the
zeal and affection of a sister.

Late as it now was, and fatigued as the Syndic appeared, Quentin, on his
side, had difficulty to escape a flask of choice and costly wine, as old
as the battle of Azincour, and must have submitted to take his share,
however unwilling, but for the appearance of the mother of the family,
whom Pavillon's loud summons for the keys of the cellar brought forth
from her bedroom. She was a jolly little roundabout, woman, who had
been pretty in her time, but whose principal characteristics for several
years had been a red and sharp nose, a shrill voice, and a determination
that the Syndic, in consideration of the authority which he exercised
when abroad, should remain under the rule of due discipline at home.

So soon as she understood the nature of the debate between her husband
and his guest, she declared roundly that the former, instead of having
occasion for more wine, had got too much already, and, far from using,
in furtherance of his request, any of the huge bunch of keys which
hung by a silver chain at her waist, she turned her back on him without
ceremony, and ushered Quentin to the neat and pleasant apartment in
which he was to spend the night, amid such appliances to rest and
comfort as probably he had till that moment been entirely a stranger
to, so much did the wealthy Flemings excel, not merely the poor and rude
Scots, but the French themselves in all the conveniences of domestic
life.



CHAPTER XXIII: THE FLIGHT

     Now bid me run,
     And I will strive with things impossible;
     Yea, get the better of them.

     Set on your foot;
     And, with a heart new fired, I follow you,
     To do I know not what.

     JULIUS CAESAR


In spite of a mixture of joy and fear, doubt, anxiety, and other
agitating passions, the exhausting fatigues of the preceding day were
powerful enough to throw the young Scot into a deep and profound repose,
which lasted until late on the day following, when his worthy host
entered the apartment with looks of care on his brow.

He seated himself by his guest's bedside, and began a long and
complicated discourse upon the domestic duties of a married life, and
especially upon the awful power and right supremacy which it became
married men to sustain in all differences of opinion with their wives.
Quentin listened with some anxiety. He knew that husbands, like other
belligerent powers, were sometimes disposed to sing Te Deum [Te Deum
laudamus: We praise Thee, O God; the first words of an ancient
hymn, sung in the morning service of the Anglican and Roman Catholic
Churches], rather to conceal a defeat than to celebrate a victory, and
he hastened to probe the matter more closely, by hoping their arrival
had been attended with no inconvenience to the good lady of the
household.

"Inconvenience!--no," answered the Burgomaster.--"No woman can be
less taken unawares than Mother Mabel--always happy to see her
friends--always a clean lodging and a handsome meal ready for them, with
God's blessing on bed and board.--No woman on earth so hospitable--only
'tis pity her temper is something particular."

"Our residence here is disagreeable to her, in short?" said the Scot,
starting out of bed, and beginning to dress himself hastily. "Were I but
sure the Lady Isabelle were fit for travel after the horrors of the last
night, we would not increase the offence by remaining here an instant
longer."

"Nay," said Pavillon, "that is just what the young lady herself said to
Mother Mabel, and truly I wish you saw the colour that came to her face
as she said it--a milkmaid that has skated five miles to market against
the frost wind is a lily compared to it--I do not wonder Mother Mabel
may be a little jealous, poor dear soul."

"Has the Lady Isabelle then left her apartment?" said the youth,
continuing his toilette operations with more dispatch than before.

"Yes," replied Pavillon, "and she expects your approach with much
impatience, to determine which way you shall go since you are both
determined on going. But I trust you will tarry breakfast?"

"Why did you not tell me this sooner?" said Durward, impatiently.

"Softly--softly," said the Syndic, "I have told it you too soon, I
think, if it puts you into such a hasty fluster. Now I have some more
matter for your ear, if I saw you had some patience to listen to me."

"Speak it, worthy sir, as soon and as fast as you can--I listen
devoutly."

"Well," resumed the Burgomaster, "I have but one word to say, and that
is that Trudchen, who is as sorry to part with yonder pretty lady as if
she had been some sister of hers, wants you to take some other disguise,
for there is word in the town that the Ladies of Croye travel the
country in pilgrim's dresses, attended by a French life guardsman of the
Scottish Archers, and it is said one of them was brought into Schonwaldt
last night by a Bohemian after we had left it, and it was said still
farther, that this same Bohemian had assured William de la Marck that
you were charged with no message either to him or to the good people of
Liege, and that you had stolen away the young Countess, and travelled
with her as her paramour. And all this news hath come from Schonwaldt
this morning, and it has been told to us and the other councillors, who
know not well what to advise, for though our own opinion is that William
de la Marck has been a thought too rough both with the Bishop and with
ourselves, yet there is a great belief that he is a good natured soul at
bottom--that is, when he is sober--and that he is the only leader in
the world to command us against the Duke of Burgundy, and, in truth, as
matters stand, it is partly my own mind that we must keep fair with him,
for we have gone too far to draw back."

"Your daughter advises well," said Quentin Durward, abstaining from
reproaches or exhortations, which he saw would be alike unavailing to
sway a resolution which had been adopted by the worthy magistrate in
compliance at once with the prejudices of his party and the inclination
of his wife.

"Your daughter counsels well.--We must part in disguise, and that
instantly. We may, I trust, rely upon you for the necessary secrecy, and
for the means of escape?"

"With all my heart--with all my heart," said the honest citizen, who,
not much satisfied with the dignity of his own conduct, was eager to
find some mode of atonement. "I cannot but remember that I owed you my
life last night, both for unclasping that accursed steel doublet, and
helping me through the other scrape, which was worse, for yonder Boar
and his brood look more like devils than men. So I will be true to you
as blade to haft, as our cutlers say, who are the best in the whole
world. Nay, now you are ready, come this way--you shall see how far I
can trust you."

The Syndic led him from the chamber in which he had slept to his own
counting room, in which he transacted his affairs of business, and after
bolting the door, and casting a piercing and careful eye around him,
he opened a concealed and vaulted closet behind the tapestry, in which
stood more than one iron chest. He proceeded to open one which was full
of guilders, and placed it at Quentin's discretion to take whatever sum
he might think necessary for his companion's expenses and his own.

As the money with which Quentin was furnished on leaving Plessis was
now nearly expended, he hesitated not to accept the sum of two hundred
guilders, and by doing so took a great weight from the mind of Pavillon,
who considered the desperate transaction in which he thus voluntarily
became the creditor as an atonement for the breach of hospitality which
various considerations in a great measure compelled him to commit.

Having carefully locked his treasure chamber, the wealthy Fleming next
conveyed his guest to the parlour, where, in full possession of her
activity of mind and body, though pale from the scenes of the preceding
night, he found the Countess attired in the fashion of a Flemish maiden
of the middling class. No other was present excepting Trudchen, who was
sedulously employed in completing the Countess's dress, and instructing
her how to bear herself. She extended her hand to him, which, when he
had reverently kissed, she said to him, "Seignior Quentin, we must leave
our friends here unless I would bring on them a part of the misery which
has pursued me ever since my father's death. You must change your dress
and go with me, unless you also are tired of befriending a being so
unfortunate."

"I!--I tired of being your attendant!--To the end of the earth will
I guard you! But you--you yourself--are you equal to the task you
undertake!--Can you, after the terrors of last night"

"Do not recall them to my memory," answered the Countess, "I remember
but the confusion of a horrid dream.--Has the excellent Bishop escaped?"

"I trust he is in freedom," said Quentin, making a sign to Pavillon, who
seemed about to enter on the dreadful narrative, to be silent.

"Is it possible for us to rejoin him?--Hath he gathered any power?" said
the lady.

"His only hopes are in Heaven," said the Scot, "but wherever you wish to
go, I stand by your side, a determined guide and guard."

"We will consider," said Isabelle, and after a moment's pause, she
added, "A convent would be my choice, but that I fear it would prove a
weak defence against those who pursue me."

"Hem! hem!" said the Syndic, "I could not well recommend a convent
within the district of Liege, because the Boar of Ardennes, though in
the main a brave leader, a trusty confederate, and a well wisher to our
city, has, nevertheless, rough humours, and payeth, on the whole, little
regard to cloisters, convents, nunneries, and the like. Men say that
there are a score of nuns--that is, such as were nuns--who march always
with his company."

"Get yourself in readiness hastily, Seignior Durward," said Isabelle,
interrupting this detail, "since to your faith I must needs commit
myself."

No sooner had the Syndic and Quentin left the room than Isabelle began
to ask of Gertrude various questions concerning the roads, and so forth,
with such clearness of spirit and pertinence, that the latter could
not help exclaiming, "Lady, I wonder at you!--I have heard of masculine
firmness, but yours appears to me more than belongs to humanity."

"Necessity," answered the Countess,--"necessity, my friend, is the
mother of courage, as of invention. No long time since, I might have
fainted when I saw a drop of blood shed from a trifling cut--I have
since seen life blood flow around me, I may say, in waves, yet I have
retained my senses and my self possession.--Do not think it was an easy
task," she added, laying on Gertrude's arm a trembling hand, although
she still spoke with a firm voice, "the little world within me is like
a garrison besieged by a thousand foes, whom nothing but the most
determined resolution can keep from storming it on every hand, and at
every moment. Were my situation one whit less perilous than it is--were
I not sensible that my only chance to escape a fate more horrible than
death is to retain my recollection and self possession--Gertrude,
I would at this moment throw myself into your arms, and relieve my
bursting bosom by such a transport of tears and agony of terror as never
rushed from a breaking heart."

"Do not do so, lady!" said the sympathizing Fleming, "take courage, tell
your beads, throw yourself on the care of Heaven, and surely, if
ever Heaven sent a deliverer to one ready to perish, that bold and
adventurous young gentleman must be designed for yours. There is one,
too," she added, blushing deeply, "in whom I have some interest. Say
nothing to my father, but I have ordered my bachelor, Hans Glover, to
wait for you at the eastern gate, and never to see my face more, unless
he brings word that he has guided you safe from the territory."

To kiss her tenderly was the only way in which the young Countess
could express her thanks to the frank and kind hearted city maiden, who
returned the embrace affectionately, and added, with a smile, "Nay, if
two maidens and their devoted bachelors cannot succeed in a disguise and
an escape, the world is changed from what I am told it wont to be."

A part of this speech again called the colour into the Countess's
pale cheeks, which was not lessened by Quentin's sudden appearance. He
entered completely attired as a Flemish boor of the better class, in the
holyday suit of Peter, who expressed his interest in the young Scot by
the readiness with which he parted with it for his use, and swore, at
the same time, that, were he to be curried and tugged worse than
ever was bullock's hide, they should make nothing out of him, to the
betraying of the young folks. Two stout horses had been provided by
the activity of Mother Mabel, who really desired the Countess and her
attendant no harm, so that she could make her own house and family clear
of the dangers which might attend upon harbouring them. She beheld them
mount and go off with great satisfaction, after telling them that they
would find their way to the east gate by keeping their eye on Peter, who
was to walk in that direction as their guide, but without holding any
visible communication with them. The instant her guests had departed,
Mother Mabel took the opportunity to read a long practical lecture
to Trudchen upon the folly of reading romances, whereby the flaunting
ladies of the Court were grown so bold and venturous, that, instead of
applying to learn some honest housewifery, they must ride, forsooth,
a-damsel erranting through the country, with no better attendant than
some idle squire, debauched page, or rake belly archer from foreign
parts, to the great danger of their health, the impoverishing of their
substance, and the irreparable prejudice of their reputation. All this
Gertrude heard in silence, and without reply, but, considering her
character, it might be doubted whether she derived from it the practical
inference which it was her mother's purpose to enforce. Meantime, the
travellers had gained the eastern gate of the city, traversing crowds of
people, who were fortunately too much busied in the political events and
rumours of the hour to give any attention to a couple who had so little
to render their appearance remarkable. They passed the guards in virtue
of a permission obtained for them by Pavillon, but in the name of
his colleague Rouslaer, and they took leave of Peter Geislaer with a
friendly though brief exchange of good wishes on either side.

Immediately afterwards, they were joined by a stout young man, riding
a good gray horse, who presently made himself known as Hans Glover, the
bachelor of Trudchen Pavillon. He was a young fellow with a good Flemish
countenance--not, indeed, of the most intellectual cast, but arguing
more hilarity and good humour than wit, and, as the Countess could not
help thinking, scarce worthy to be bachelor to the generous Trudchen. He
seemed, however, fully desirous to second the views which she had
formed in their favour, for, saluting them respectfully, he asked of the
Countess, in Flemish, on which road she desired to be conducted.

"Guide me," said she, "towards the nearest town on the frontiers of
Brabant."

"You have then settled the end and object of your journey," said
Quentin, approaching his horse to that of Isabelle, and speaking French,
which their guide did not understand.

"Surely," replied the young lady, "for, situated as I now am, it must be
of no small detriment to me if I were to prolong a journey in my present
circumstances, even though the termination should be a rigorous prison."

"A prison," said Quentin.

"Yes, my friend, a prison, but I will take care that you shall not share
it."

"Do not talk--do not think of me," said Quentin. "Saw I you but safe, my
own concerns are little worth minding."

"Do not speak so loud," said the Lady Isabelle, "you will surprise our
guide--you see he has already rode on before us,"--for, in truth, the
good natured Fleming, doing as he desired to be done by, had removed
from them the constraint of a third person, upon Quentin's first motion
towards the lady.

"Yes," she continued, when she noticed they were free from observation,
"to you, my friend, my protector--why should I be ashamed to call you
what Heaven has made you to me?--to you it is my duty to say that my
resolution is taken to return to my native country, and to throw myself
on the mercy of the Duke of Burgundy. It was mistaken, though well meant
advice, which induced me ever to withdraw from his protection, and place
myself under that of the crafty and false Louis of France."

"And you resolve to become the bride, then, of the Count of Campobasso,
the unworthy favourite of Charles?"

Thus spoke Quentin, with a voice in which internal agony struggled
with his desire to assume an indifferent tone, like that of the poor
condemned criminal, when, affecting a firmness which he is far from
feeling, he asks if the death warrant be arrived.

"No, Durward, no," said the Lady Isabelle, sitting up erect in her
saddle, "to that hated condition all Burgundy's power shall not sink
a daughter of the House of Croye. Burgundy may seize on my lands and
fiefs, he may imprison my person in a convent, but that is the worst I
have to expect, and worse than that I will endure ere I give my hand to
Campobasso."

"The worst?" said Quentin, "and what worse can there be than plunder and
imprisonment?--Oh, think, while you have God's free air around you,
and one by your side who will hazard life to conduct you to England,
to Germany, even to Scotland, in all of which you shall find generous
protectors.--Oh, while this is the case, do not resolve so rashly to
abandon the means of liberty, the best gift that Heaven gives!--Oh, well
sang a poet of my own land--


     "Ah, freedom is a noble thing--
     Freedom makes men to have liking--
     Freedom the zest to pleasure gives--
     He lives at ease who freely lives.
     Grief, sickness, poortith [poverty], want, are all
     Summ'd up within the name of thrall."

     [from Barbour's Bruce]


She listened with a melancholy smile to her guide's tirade in praise of
liberty, and then answered, after a moment's pause. "Freedom is for man
alone--woman must ever seek a protector, since nature made her incapable
to defend herself. And where am I to find one?--In that voluptuary
Edward of England--in the inebriated Wenceslaus of Germany--in
Scotland?--Ah, Durward, were I your sister, and could you promise me
shelter in some of those mountain glens which you love to describe
where, for charity, or for the few jewels I have preserved, I might lead
an unharrassed life, and forget the lot I was born to--could you promise
me the protection of some honoured matron of the land--of some baron
whose heart was as true as his sword--that were indeed a prospect, for
which it were worth the risk of farther censure to wander farther and
wider."

There was a faltering tenderness of voice with which the Countess
Isabelle made this admission that at once filled Quentin with a
sensation of joy, and cut him to the very heart. He hesitated a moment
ere he made an answer, hastily reviewing in his mind the possibility
there might be that he could procure her shelter in Scotland, but the
melancholy truth rushed on him that it would be alike base and cruel
to point out to her a course which he had not the most distant power or
means to render safe.

"Lady," he said at last, "I should act foully against my honour and oath
of chivalry, did I suffer you to ground any plan upon the thoughts that
I have the power in Scotland to afford you other protection than that
of the poor arm which is now by your side. I scarce know that my blood
flows in the veins of an individual who now lives in my native land. The
Knight of Innerquharity stormed our Castle at midnight, and cut off all
that belonged to my name. Were I again in Scotland, our feudal enemies
are numerous and powerful, I single and weak, and even had the King a
desire to do me justice, he dared not, for the sake of redressing the
wrongs of a poor individual, provoke a chief who rides with five hundred
horse."

"Alas!" said the Countess, "there is then no corner of the world safe
from oppression, since it rages as unrestrained amongst those wild
hills which afford so few objects to covet as in our rich and abundant
lowlands!"

"It is a sad truth, and I dare not deny it," said the Scot, "that for
little more than the pleasure of revenge, and the lust of bloodshed, our
hostile clans do the work of executioners on each other, and Ogilvies
and the like act the same scenes in Scotland as De la Marck and his
robbers do in this country."

"No more of Scotland, then," said Isabelle, with a tone of indifference,
either real or affected--"no more of Scotland,--which indeed I mentioned
but in jest, to see if you really dared to recommend to me, as a place
of rest, the most distracted kingdom in Europe. It was but a trial of
your sincerity, which I rejoice to see may be relied on, even when your
partialities are most strongly excited. So, once more, I will think of
no other protection than can be afforded by the first honourable baron
holding of Duke Charles, to whom I am determined to render myself."

"And why not rather betake yourself to your own estates, and to your own
strong castle, as you designed when at Tours?" said Quentin. "Why
not call around you the vassals of your father, and make treaty with
Burgundy, rather than surrender yourself to him? Surely there must be
many a bold heart that would fight in your cause, and I know at least of
one who would willingly lay down his life to give example."

"Alas," said the Countess, "that scheme, the suggestion of the crafty
Louis, and, like all which he ever suggested, designed more for his
advantage than for mine, has become practicable, since it was betrayed
to Burgundy by the double traitor Zamet Hayraddin. My kinsman was then
imprisoned, and my houses garrisoned. Any attempt of mine would but
expose my dependents to the vengeance of Duke Charles, and why should I
occasion more bloodshed than has already taken place on so worthless an
account? No. I will submit myself to my Sovereign as a dutiful vassal,
in all which shall leave my personal freedom of choice uninfringed,
the rather that I trust my kinswoman, the Countess Hameline, who first
counselled, and indeed urged my flight, has already taken this wise and
honourable step."

"Your kinswoman!" repeated Quentin, awakened to recollections to which
the young Countess was a stranger, and which the rapid succession of
perilous and stirring events had, as matters of nearer concern, in fact
banished from his memory.

"Ay--my aunt--the Countess Hameline of Croye--know you aught of her?"
said the Countess Isabelle. "I trust she is now under the protection of
the Burgundian banner. You are silent. Know you aught of her?"

The last question, urged in a tone of the most anxious inquiry, obliged
Quentin to give some account of what he knew of the Countess's fate.
He mentioned that he had been summoned to attend her in a flight from
Liege, which he had no doubt the Lady Isabelle would be partaker in--he
mentioned the discovery that had been made after they had gained the
forest--and finally, he told his own return to the castle, and the
circumstances in which he found it. But he said nothing of the views
with which it was plain the Lady Hameline had left the Castle of
Schonwaldt, and as little about the floating report of her having fallen
into the hands of William de la Marck. Delicacy prevented his even
hinting at the one, and regard for the feelings of his companion at a
moment when strength and exertion were most demanded of her, prevented
him from alluding to the latter, which had, besides, only reached him as
a mere rumour.

This tale, though abridged of those important particulars, made a strong
impression on the Countess Isabelle, who, after riding some time in
silence, said at last, with a tone of cold displeasure, "And so you
abandoned my unfortunate relative in a wild forest, at the mercy of a
vile Bohemian and a traitorous waiting woman?--Poor kinswoman, thou wert
wont to praise this youth's good faith!"

"Had I not done so, madam." said Quentin, not unreasonably offended at
the turn thus given to his gallantry, "what had been the fate of one
to whose service I was far more devotedly bound? Had I not left the
Countess Hameline of Croye to the charge of those whom she had herself
selected as counsellors and advisers, the Countess Isabelle had been ere
now the bride of William de la Marck, the Wild Boar of Ardennes."

"You are right," said the Countess Isabelle, in her usual manner, "and
I, who have the advantage of your unhesitating devotion, have done you
foul and ungrateful wrong. But oh, my unhappy kinswoman! and the wretch
Marthon, who enjoyed so much of her confidence, and deserved it so
little--it was she that introduced to my kinswoman the wretched
Zamet and Hayraddin Maugrabin, who, by their pretended knowledge of
soothsaying and astrology, obtained a great ascendancy over her mind, it
was she who, strengthening their predictions, encouraged her in--I know
not what to call them--delusions concerning matches and lovers, which
my kinswoman's age rendered ungraceful and improbable. I doubt not that,
from the beginning, we had been surrounded by these snares by Louis of
France, in order to determine us to take refuge at his Court, or rather
to put ourselves into his power, after which rash act on our part,
how unkingly, unknightly, ignobly, ungentlemanlike, he hath conducted
himself towards us, you, Quentin Durward, can bear witness. But, alas!
my kinswoman--what think you will be her fate?"

Endeavouring to inspire hopes which he scarce felt, Durward answered
that the avarice of these people was stronger than any other passion,
that Marthon, even when he left them, seemed to act rather as the Lady
Hameline's protectress, and in fine, that it was difficult to conceive
any object these wretches could accomplish by the ill usage or murder
of the Countess, whereas they might be gainers by treating her well, and
putting her to ransom.

To lead the Countess Isabelle's thoughts from this melancholy subject,
Quentin frankly told her the treachery of the Maugrabin, which he had
discovered in the night quarter near Namur, and which appeared the
result of an agreement betwixt the King and William de la Marck.
Isabelle shuddered with horror, and then recovering herself said, "I am
ashamed, and I have sinned in permitting myself so far to doubt of
the saints' protection, as for an instant to have deemed possible the
accomplishment of a scheme so utterly cruel, base, and dishonourable,
while there are pitying eyes in Heaven to look down on human miseries.
It is not a thing to be thought of with fear or abhorrence, but to be
rejected as such a piece of incredible treachery and villainy, as it
were atheism to believe could ever be successful. But I now see plainly
why that hypocritical Marthon often seemed to foster every seed of petty
jealousy or discontent betwixt my poor kinswoman and myself, whilst she
always mixed with flattery, addressed to the individual who was present,
whatever could prejudice her against her absent kinswoman. Yet never
did I dream she could have proceeded so far as to have caused my
once affectionate kinswoman to have left me behind in the perils of
Schonwaldt, while she made her own escape."

"Did the Lady Hameline not mention to you, then," said Quentin, "her
intended flight?"

"No," replied the Countess, "but she alluded to some communication which
Marthon was to make to me. To say truth, my poor kinswoman's head was
so turned by the mysterious jargon of the miserable Hayraddin, whom that
day she had admitted to a long and secret conference, and she threw out
so many strange hints that--that--in short, I cared not to press on her,
when in that humour, for any explanation. Yet it was cruel to leave me
behind her."

"I will excuse the Lady Hameline from intending such unkindness," said
Quentin, "for such was the agitation of the moment, and the darkness
of the hour, that I believe the Lady Hameline as certainly conceived
herself accompanied by her niece, as I at the same time, deceived by
Marthon's dress and demeanour, supposed I was in the company of both
the Ladies of Croye: and of her especially," he added, with a low but
determined voice, "without whom the wealth of worlds would not have
tempted me to leave."

Isabelle stooped her head forward, and seemed scarce to hear the
emphasis with which Quentin had spoken. But she turned her face to him
again when he began to speak of the policy of Louis, and, it was not
difficult for them, by mutual communication, to ascertain that the
Bohemian brothers, with their accomplice Marthon, had been the agents of
that crafty monarch, although Zamet, the elder of them, with a perfidy
peculiar to his race, had attempted to play a double game, and had
been punished accordingly. In the same humour of mutual confidence, and
forgetting the singularity of their own situation, as well as the perils
of the road, the travellers pursued their journey for several hours,
only stopping to refresh their horses at a retired dorff, or hamlet, to
which they were conducted by Hans Glover, who, in all other respects,
as well as in leaving them much to their own freedom in conversation,
conducted himself like a person of reflection and discretion.

Meantime, the artificial distinction which divided the two lovers
(for such we may now term them) seemed dissolved, or removed, by the
circumstances in which they were placed, for if the Countess boasted the
higher rank, and was by birth entitled to a fortune incalculably larger
than that of the youth, whose revenue lay in his sword, it was to be
considered that, for the present, she was as poor as he, and for her
safety, honour, and life, exclusively indebted to his presence of mind,
valour, and devotion. They spoke not indeed of love, for though the
young lady, her heart full of gratitude and confidence, might have
pardoned such a declaration, yet Quentin, on whose tongue there was laid
a check, both by natural timidity and by the sentiments of chivalry,
would have held it an unworthy abuse of her situation had he said
anything which could have the appearance of taking undue advantage of
the opportunities which it afforded them. They spoke not then of love,
but the thoughts of it were on both sides unavoidable, and thus they
were placed in that relation to each other, in which sentiments of
mutual regard are rather understood than announced, and which, with the
freedoms which it permits, and the uncertainties that attend it, often
forms the most delightful hours of human existence, and as frequently
leads to those which are darkened by disappointment, fickleness, and all
the pains of blighted hope and unrequited attachment.

It was two hours after noon, when the travellers were alarmed by the
report of the guide, who, with paleness and horror in his countenance,
said that they were pursued by a party of De la Marck's Schwarzreiters.
These soldiers, or rather banditti, were bands levied in the Lower
Circles of Germany, and resembled the lanzknechts in every particular,
except that the former acted as light cavalry. To maintain the name of
Black Troopers, and to strike additional terror into their enemies, they
usually rode on black chargers, and smeared with black ointment their
arms and accoutrements, in which operation their hands and faces often
had their share. In morals and in ferocity these Schwarzreiters emulated
their pedestrian brethren the Lanzknechts.

["To make their horses and boots shine, they make themselves as black
as colliers. These horsemen wear black clothes, and poor though they
be, spend no small time in brushing them. The most of them have black
horses,... and delight to have their boots and shoes shine with blacking
stuff, their hands and faces become black, and thereof they have their
foresaid name."... Fynes Morrison's Itinerary.--S.]

On looking back, and discovering along the long level road which they
had traversed a cloud of dust advancing, with one or two of the
headmost troopers riding furiously in front of it, Quentin addressed his
companion: "Dearest Isabelle, I have no weapon left save my sword, but
since I cannot fight for you, I will fly with you. Could we gain yonder
wood that is before us ere they come up, we may easily find means to
escape."

"So be it, my only friend," said Isabelle, pressing her horse to the
gallop, "and thou, good fellow," she added, addressing Hans Glover, "get
thee off to another road, and do not stay to partake our misfortune and
danger."

The honest Fleming shook his head, and answered her generous
exhortation, with Nein, nein! das geht nicht [no, no! that must not be],
and continued to attend them, all three riding toward the shelter of the
wood as fast as their jaded horses could go, pursued, at the same time,
by the Schwarzreiters, who increased their pace when they saw them fly.
But notwithstanding the fatigue of the horses, still the fugitives
being unarmed, and riding lighter in consequence, had considerably the
advantage of the pursuers, and were within about a quarter of a mile
of the wood, when a body of men at arms, under a knight's pennon, was
discovered advancing from the cover, so as to intercept their flight.

"They have bright armour," said Isabelle, "they must be Burgundians. Be
they who they will, we must yield to them, rather than to the lawless
miscreants who pursue us."

A moment after, she exclaimed, looking on the pennon, "I know the cloven
heart which it displays! It is the banner of the Count of Crevecoeur, a
noble Burgundian--to him I will surrender myself."

Quentin Durward sighed, but what other alternative remained, and how
happy would he have been but an instant before, to have been certain
of the escape of Isabelle, even under worse terms? They soon joined the
band of Crevecoeur, and the Countess demanded to speak to the leader,
who had halted his party till he should reconnoitre the Black Troopers,
and as he gazed on her with doubt and uncertainty, she said, "Noble
Count--Isabelle of Croye, the daughter of your old companion in arms,
Count Reinold of Croye, renders herself, and asks protection from your
valour for her and hers."

"Thou shalt have it, fair kinswoman, were it against a host--always
excepting my liege lord, of Burgundy. But there is little time to talk
of it. These filthy looking fiends have made a halt, as if they intended
to dispute the matter.--By Saint George of Burgundy, they have the
insolence to advance against the banner of Crevecoeur! What! will not
the knaves be ruled? Damian, my lance!--Advance banner!--Lay your spears
in the rest!--Crevecoeur to the Rescue!"

Crying his war cry, and followed by his men at arms, he galloped rapidly
forward to charge the Schwarzreiters.



CHAPTER XXIV: THE SURRENDER

     Rescue or none, Sir Knight, I am your captive:
     Deal with me what your nobleness suggests--
     Thinking the chance of war may one day place you
     Where I must now be reckon'd--I' the roll
     Of melancholy prisoners.

     ANONYMOUS


The skirmish betwixt the Schwarzreiters and the Burgundian men at arms
lasted scarcely five minutes, so soon were the former put to the rout by
the superiority of the latter in armour, weight of horse, and military
spirit. In less than the space we have mentioned, the Count of
Crevecoeur, wiping his bloody sword upon his horse's mane ere he
sheathed it, came back to the verge of the forest, where Isabelle had
remained a spectator of the combat. One part of his people followed him,
while the other continued to pursue the flying enemy for a little space
along the causeway.

"It is shame," said the Count, "that the weapons of knights and
gentlemen should be soiled by the blood of those brutal swine."

So saying, he returned his weapon to the sheath and added, "This is a
rough welcome to your home, my pretty cousin, but wandering princesses
must expect such adventures. And well I came up in time, for, let me
assure you, the Black Troopers respect a countess's coronet as little
as a country wench's coif, and I think your retinue is not qualified for
much resistance."

"My Lord Count," said the Lady Isabelle, "without farther preface, let
me know if I am a prisoner, and where you are to conduct me."

"You know, you silly child," answered the Count, "how I would answer
that question, did it rest on my own will. But you, and your foolish
match making, marriage hunting aunt, have made such wild use of your
wings of late, that I fear you must be contented to fold them up in a
cage for a little while. For my part, my duty, and it is a sad one, will
be ended when I have conducted you to the Court of the Duke, at Peronne
for which purpose I hold it necessary to deliver the command of this
reconnoitring party to my nephew, Count Stephen, while I return with you
thither, as I think you may need an intercessor.--And I hope the young
giddy pate will discharge his duty wisely."

"So please you, fair uncle," said Count Stephen, "if you doubt my
capacity to conduct the men at arms, even remain with them yourself, and
I will be the servant and guard of the Countess Isabelle of Croye."

"No doubt, fair nephew," answered his uncle, "this were a goodly
improvement on my scheme, but methinks I like it as well in the way I
planned it. Please you, therefore, to take notice, that your business
here is not to hunt after and stick these black hogs, for which you
seemed but now to have felt an especial vocation, but to collect and
bring to me true tidings of what is going forward in the country of
Liege, concerning which we hear such wild rumours. Let some half score
of lances follow me and the rest remain with my banner under your
guidance."

"Yet one moment, cousin of Crevecoeur," said the Countess Isabelle, "and
let me, in yielding myself prisoner, stipulate at least for the safety
of those who have befriended me in my misfortunes. Permit this good
fellow, my trusty guide, to go back unharmed to his native town of
Liege."

"My nephew," said Crevecoeur, after looking sharply at Glover's honest
breadth of countenance, "shall guard this good fellow, who seems,
indeed, to have little harm in him, as far into the territory as he
himself advances, and then leave him at liberty."

"Fail not to remember me to the kind Gertrude," said the Countess to her
guide, and added, taking a string of pearls from under her veil, "Pray
her to wear this in remembrance of her unhappy friend."

Honest Glover took the string of pearls, and kissed with clownish
gesture, but with sincere kindness, the fair hand which had found such a
delicate mode of remunerating his own labours and peril.

"Umph! signs and tokens," said the Count, "any farther bequests to make,
my fair cousin?--It is time we were on our way."

"Only," said the Countess, making an effort to speak, "that you will be
pleased to be favourable to this--this young gentleman."

"Umph!" said Crevecoeur, casting the same penetrating glance on Quentin
which he had bestowed on Glover, but apparently with a much less
satisfactory result, and mimicking, though not offensively, the
embarrassment of the Countess.

"Umph!--Ay--this is a blade of another temper.--And pray, my cousin,
what has this--this very young gentleman done, to deserve such
intercession at your hands?"

"He has saved my life and honour," said the Countess, reddening with
shame and resentment.

Quentin also blushed with indignation, but wisely concluded that to give
vent to it might only make matters worse.

"Life and honour?--Umph!" said again the Count Crevecoeur, "methinks it
would have been as well, my cousin, if you had not put yourself in the
way of lying under such obligations to this very young gentleman.--But
let it pass. The young gentleman may wait on us, if his quality permit,
and I will see he has no injury--only I will myself take in future the
office of protecting your life and honour, and may perhaps find for him
some fitter duty than that of being a squire of the body to damosels
errant."

"My Lord Count," said Durward, unable to keep silence any longer,
"lest you should talk of a stranger in slighter terms than you might
afterwards think becoming, I take leave to tell you, that I am Quentin
Durward, an Archer of the Scottish Bodyguard, in which, as you well
know, none but gentlemen and men of honour are enrolled."

"I thank you for your information, and I kiss your hands, Seignior
Archer," said Crevecoeur, in the same tone of raillery. "Have the
goodness to ride with me to the front of the party."

As Quentin moved onward at the command of the Count, who had now the
power, if not the right, to dictate his motions, he observed that the
Lady Isabelle followed his motions with a look of anxious and timid
interest, which amounted almost to tenderness, and the sight of which
brought water into his eyes. But he remembered that he had a man's part
to sustain before Crevecoeur, who, perhaps of all the chivalry in France
or Burgundy, was the least likely to be moved to anything but laughter
by a tale of true love sorrow. He determined, therefore, not to wait
his addressing him, but to open the conversation in a tone which should
assert his claim to fair treatment, and to more respect than the Count,
offended perhaps at finding a person of such inferior note placed so
near the confidence of his high born and wealthy cousin, seemed disposed
to entertain for him.

"My Lord Count of Crevecoeur," he said, in a temperate but firm tone of
voice, "may I request of you, before our interview goes farther, to tell
me if I am at liberty, or am to account myself your prisoner?"

"A shrewd question," replied the Count, "which at present I can only
answer by another.--Are France and Burgundy, think you, at peace or war
with each other?"

"That," replied the Scot, "you, my lord, should certainly know better
than I. I have been absent from the Court of France, and have heard no
news for some time."

"Look you there," said the Count, "you see how easy it is to ask
questions, but how difficult to answer them. Why, I myself, who have
been at Peronne with the Duke for this week and better, cannot resolve
this riddle any more than you, and yet, Sir Squire, upon the solution of
that question depends the said point, whether you are prisoner or free
man, and, for the present, I must hold you as the former.--Only, if you
have really and honestly been of service to my kinswoman, and for you
are candid in your answers to the questions I shall ask, affairs shall
stand the better with you."

"The Countess of Croye," said Quentin, "is best judge if I have rendered
any service, and to her I refer you on that matter. My answers you will
yourself judge of when you ask me your questions."

"Umph!--haughty enough," muttered the Count of Crevecoeur, "and very
like one that wears a lady's favour in his hat, and thinks he must carry
things with a high tone, to honour the precious remnant of silk and
tinsel. Well, sir, I trust it will be no abatement of your dignity,
if you answer me, how long you have been about the person of the Lady
Isabelle of Croye?"

"Count of Crevecoeur," said Quentin Durward, "if I answer questions
which are asked in a tone approaching towards insult, it is only lest
injurious inferences should be drawn from my silence respecting one to
whom we are both obliged to render justice. I have acted as escort to
the Lady Isabelle since she left France to retire into Flanders."

"Ho! ho!" said the Count, "and that is to say, since she fled from
Plessis les Tours?--You, an Archer of the Scottish Guard, accompanied
her, of course, by the express orders of King Louis?"

However little Quentin thought himself indebted to the King of France,
who, in contriving the surprisal of the Countess Isabelle by William de
la Marck, had probably calculated on the young Scotchman's being slain
in her defence, he did not yet conceive himself at liberty to betray
any trust which Louis had reposed, or had seemed to repose, in him, and
therefore replied to Count Crevecoeur's inference that it was sufficient
for him to have the authority of his superior officer for what he had
done, and he inquired no farther.

"It is quite sufficient," said the Count. "We know the King does not
permit his officers to send the Archers of his Guard to prance like
paladins by the bridle rein of wandering ladies, unless he hath some
politic purpose to serve. It will be difficult for King Louis to
continue to aver so boldly that he knew' not of the Ladies of Croye's
having escaped from France, since they were escorted by one of his own
Life guard.--And whither, Sir Archer, was your retreat directed?"

"To Liege, my lord," answered the Scot, "where the ladies desired to be
placed under the protection of the late Bishop."

"The late Bishop!" exclaimed the Count of Crevecoeur, "is Louis of
Bourbon dead?--Not a word of his illness had reached the Duke.--Of what
did he die?"

"He sleeps in a bloody grave, my lord--that is, if his murderers have
conferred one on his remains."

"Murdered!" exclaimed Crevecoeur again.--"Holy Mother of Heaven!--young
man, it is impossible!"

"I saw the deed done with my own eyes, and many an act of horror
besides."

"Saw it! and made not in to help the good Prelate!" exclaimed the Count,
"or to raise the castle against his murderers?--Know'st thou not
that even to look on such a deed, without resisting it, is profane
sacrilege?"

"To be brief, my lord," said Durward, "ere this act was done, the castle
was stormed by the bloodthirsty William de la Marck, with help of the
insurgent Liegeois."

"I am struck with thunder," said Crevecoeur. "Liege in
insurrection!--Schonwaldt taken!--the Bishop murdered--Messenger of
sorrow, never did one man unfold such a packet of woes!--Speak--knew you
of this assault--of this insurrection--of this murder?--Speak--thou art
one of Louis's trusted Archers, and it is he that has aimed this painful
arrow.--Speak, or I will have thee torn with wild horses!"

"And if I am so torn, my lord, there can be nothing rent out of me,
that may not become a true Scottish gentleman: I know no more of these
villainies than you--was so far from being partaker in them, that I
would have withstood them to the uttermost, had my means in a twentieth
degree equalled my inclination. But what could I do?--they were
hundreds, and I but one. My only care was to rescue the Countess
Isabelle, and in that I was happily successful. Yet, had I been near
enough when the ruffian deed was so cruelly done on the old man, I
had saved his gray hairs, or I had avenged them, and as it was, my
abhorrence was spoken loud enough to prevent other horrors."

"I believe thee, youth," said the Count, "thou art neither of an age nor
nature to be trusted with such bloody work, however well fitted to be
the squire of dames. But alas! for the kind and generous Prelate, to be
murdered on the hearth where he so often entertained the stranger with
Christian charity and princely bounty--and that by a wretch, a monster!
a portentous growth of blood and cruelty!--bred up in the very hall
where he has imbrued his hands in his benefactor's blood! But I know not
Charles of Burgundy--nay, I should doubt of the justice of Heaven, if
vengeance be not as sharp, and sudden, and severe, as this villainy
has been unexampled in atrocity. And, if no other shall pursue the
murderer"--here he paused, grasped his sword, then quitting his bridle,
struck both gauntleted hands upon his breast, until his corselet
clattered, and finally held them up to heaven, as he solemnly
continued,--"I--I, Philip Crevecoeur of Cordes, make a vow to God, Saint
Lambert, and the Three Kings of Cologne, that small shall be my thought
of other earthly concerns, till I take full revenge on the murderers of
the good Louis of Bourbon, whether I find them in forest or field, in
city or in country, in hill or in plain, in King's Court or in God's
Church! and thereto I pledge hands and living, friends and followers,
life and honour. So help me God, and Saint Lambert of Liege, and the
Three Kings of Cologne!"

When the Count of Crevecoeur had made his vow, his mind seemed in some
sort relieved from the overwhelming grief and astonishment with which
he had heard the fatal tragedy that had been acted at Schonwaldt, and he
proceeded to question Durward more minutely concerning the particulars
of that disastrous affair, which the Scot, nowise desirous to abate
the spirit of revenge which the Count entertained against William de la
Marck, gave him at full length.

"But those blind, unsteady, faithless, fickle beasts, the Liegeois,"
said the Count, "that they should have combined themselves with this
inexorable robber and murderer, to put to death their lawful Prince!"

Durward here informed the enraged Burgundian that the Liegeois, or at
least the better class of them, however rashly they had run into the
rebellion against their Bishop, had no design, so far as appeared to
him, to aid in the execrable deed of De la Marck but, on the contrary,
would have prevented it if they had had the means, and were struck with
horror when they beheld it.

"Speak not of the faithless, inconstant plebeian rabble!" said
Crevecoeur. "When they took arms against a Prince who had no fault, save
that he was too kind and too good a master for such a set of ungrateful
slaves--when they armed against him, and broke into his peaceful house,
what could there be in their intention but murder?--when they banded
themselves with the Wild Boar of Ardennes, the greatest homicide in
the marches of Flanders, what else could there be in their purpose but
murder, which is the very trade he lives by? And again, was it not one
of their own vile rabble who did the very deed, by thine own account?
I hope to see their canals running blood by the flight of their
burning houses. Oh, the kind, noble, generous lord, whom they have
slaughtered!--Other vassals have rebelled under the pressure of imposts
and penury but the men of Liege in the fullness of insolence and
plenty."

He again abandoned the reins of his war horse, and wrung bitterly the
hands, which his mail gloves rendered untractable. Quentin easily
saw that the grief which he manifested was augmented by the bitter
recollection of past intercourse and friendship with the sufferer, and
was silent accordingly, respecting feelings which he was unwilling to
aggravate, and at the same time felt it impossible to soothe. But the
Count of Crevecoeur returned again and again to the subject--questioned
him on every particular of the surprise of Schonwaldt, and the death of
the Bishop, and then suddenly, as if he had recollected something which
had escaped his memory, demanded what had become of the Lady Hameline,
and why she was not with her kinswoman?

"Not," he added contemptuously, "that I consider her absence as at all a
loss to the Countess Isabelle, for, although she was her kinswoman,
and upon the whole a well meaning woman, yet the Court of Cocagne never
produced such a fantastic fool, and I hold it for certain that her
niece, whom I have always observed to be a modest and orderly young
lady, was led into the absurd frolic of flying from Burgundy to France,
by that blundering, romantic old match making and match seeking idiot!"

[Court of Cocagne: a fabled land intended to ridicule the stories of
Avalon, the apple green island, the home of King Arthur. "Its houses
were built of good things to eat: roast geese went slowly down the
street, turning themselves, and inviting the passersby to eat them;
buttered larks fell in profusion; the shingles of the houses were of
cake." Cent. Dict. Cocagne has also been called Lubberland.]

What a speech for a romantic lover to hear! and to hear, too, when it
would have been ridiculous in him to attempt what it was impossible for
him to achieve--namely, to convince the Count, by force of arms, that he
did foul wrong to the Countess--the peerless in sense as in beauty--in
terming her a modest and orderly young woman, qualities which might have
been predicated with propriety of the daughter of a sunburnt peasant,
who lived by goading the oxen, while her father held the plough. And
then, to suppose her under the domination and supreme guidance of a
silly and romantic aunt!--The slander should have been repelled down
the slanderer's throat. But the open, though severe, physiognomy of the
Count of Crevecoeur, the total contempt which he seemed to entertain for
those feelings which were uppermost in Quentin's bosom, overawed him,
not for fear of the Count's fame in arms, that was a risk which would
have increased his desire of making out a challenge--but in dread of
ridicule, the weapon of all others most feared by enthusiasts of every
description, and which, from its predominance over such minds, often
checks what is absurd, and fully as often smothers that which is noble.

Under the influence of this fear of becoming an object of scorn rather
than resentment, Durward, though with some pain, confined his reply to
a confused account of the Lady Hameline's having made her escape from
Schonwaldt before the attack took place. He could not, indeed, have made
his story very distinct, without throwing ridicule on the near relation
of Isabelle and perhaps incurring some himself, as having been the
object of her preposterous expectations. He added to his embarrassed
detail, that he had heard a report, though a vague one, of the Lady
Hameline's having again fallen into the hands of William de la Marck.

"I trust in Saint Lambert that he will marry her," said Crevecoeur, "as
indeed, he is likely enough to do, for the sake of her moneybags, and
equally likely to knock her on the head, so soon as these are either
secured in his own grasp, or, at farthest, emptied."

The Count then proceeded to ask so many questions concerning the mode in
which both ladies had conducted themselves on the journey, the degree
of intimacy to which they admitted Quentin himself, and other trying
particulars, that, vexed, and ashamed, and angry, the youth was scarce
able to conceal his embarrassment from the keen sighted soldier and
courtier, who seemed suddenly disposed to take leave of him, saying,
at the same time, "Umph--I see it is as I conjectured, on one side at
least, I trust the other party has kept her senses better.--Come, Sir
Squire, spur on, and keep the van, while I fall back to discourse with
the Lady Isabelle. I think I have learned now so much from you, that I
can talk to her of these sad passages without hurting her nicety, though
I have fretted yours a little.--Yet stay, young gallant--one word ere
you go. You have had, I imagine, a happy journey through Fairyland--all
full of heroic adventure, and high hope, and wild minstrel-like
delusion, like the gardens of Morgaine la Fee [half-sister of Arthur.
Her gardens abounded in all good things; music filled the air, and the
inhabitants enjoyed perpetual youth]. Forget it all, young soldier," he
added, tapping him on the shoulder, "remember yonder lady only as the
honoured Countess of Croye--forget her as a wandering and adventurous
damsel. And her friends--one of them I can answer for--will remember,
on their part, only the services you have done her, and forget the
unreasonable reward which you have had the boldness to propose to
yourself."

Enraged that he had been unable to conceal from the sharp sighted
Crevecoeur feelings which the Count seemed to consider as the object of
ridicule, Quentin replied indignantly, "My Lord Count, when I require
advice of you, I will ask it, when I demand assistance of you, it will
be time enough to grant or refuse it, when I set peculiar value on your
opinion of me, it will not be too late to express it."

"Heyday!" said the Count, "I have come between Amadis and Oriana, and
must expect a challenge to the lists!"

[Amadis is the hero of a famous mediaeval romance originally written in
Portuguese, but translated into French and much enlarged by subsequent
romancers. Amadis is represented as a model of chivalry. His lady was
Oriana.]

"You speak as if that were an impossibility," said Quentin. "When I
broke a lance with the Duke of Orleans, it was against a head in which
flowed better blood than that of Crevecoeur.--When I measured swords
with Dunois, I engaged a better warrior."

"Now Heaven nourish thy judgment, gentle youth," said Crevecoeur, still
laughing at the chivalrous inamorato. "If thou speak'st truth, thou hast
had singular luck in this world, and, truly, if it be the pleasure of
Providence exposes thee to such trials, without a beard on thy lip, thou
wilt be mad with vanity ere thou writest thyself man. Thou canst not
move me to anger, though thou mayst to mirth. Believe me, though thou
mayst have fought with Princes, and played the champion for Countesses,
by some of those freaks which Fortune will sometimes exhibit, thou art
by no means the equal of those of whom thou hast been either the casual
opponent, or more casual companion. I can allow thee like a youth, who
hath listened to romances till he fancied himself a Paladin, to form
pretty dreams for some time, but thou must not be angry at a well
meaning friend, though he shake thee something roughly by the shoulders
to awake thee."

"My Lord of Crevecoeur," said Quentin, "my family--"

"Nay, it was not utterly of family that I spoke," said the Count, "but
of rank, fortune, high station, and so forth, which place a distance
between various degrees and classes of persons. As for birth, all men
are descended from Adam and Eve."

"My Lord Count," repeated Quentin, "my ancestors, the Durwards of Glen
Houlakin--"

"Nay," said the Count, "if you claim a farther descent for them than
from Adam, I have done! Good even to you."

He reined back his horse, and paused to join the Countess, to whom, if
possible, his insinuations and advices, however well meant, were still
more disagreeable than to Quentin, who, as he rode on, muttered to
himself, "Cold blooded, insolent, overweening coxcomb!--Would that the
next Scottish Archer who has his harquebuss pointed at thee, may not let
thee off so easily as I did!"

In the evening they reached the town of Charleroi, on the Sambre, where
the Count of Crevecoeur had determined to leave the Countess Isabelle,
whom the terror and fatigue of yesterday, joined to a flight of fifty
miles since morning, and the various distressing sensations by which it
was accompanied, had made incapable of travelling farther with safety to
her health. The Count consigned her, in a state of great exhaustion, to
the care of the Abbess of the Cistercian convent in Charleroi, a noble
lady, to whom both the families of Crevecoeur and Croye were related,
and in whose prudence and kindness he could repose confidence.

Crevecoeur himself only stopped to recommend the utmost caution to the
governor of a small Burgundian garrison who occupied the place, and
required him also to mount a guard of honour upon the convent during the
residence of the Countess Isabelle of Croye--ostensibly to secure her
safety, but perhaps secretly to prevent her attempting to escape. The
Count only assigned as a cause for the garrison's being vigilant, some
vague rumours which he had heard of disturbances in the Bishopric of
Liege. But he was determined himself to be the first who should carry
the formidable news of the insurrection and the murder of the Bishop,
in all their horrible reality, to Duke Charles, and for that purpose,
having procured fresh horses for himself and suite, he mounted with the
resolution of continuing his journey to Peronne without stopping for
repose, and, informing Quentin Durward that he must attend him, he made,
at the same time, a mock apology for parting fair company, but hoped
that to so devoted a squire of dames a night's journey by moonshine
would be more agreeable than supinely to yield himself to slumber like
an ordinary mortal.

Quentin, already sufficiently afflicted by finding that he was to be
parted from Isabelle, longed to answer this taunt with an indignant
defiance, but aware that the Count would only laugh at his anger, and
despise his challenge, he resolved to wait some future time, when he
might have an opportunity of obtaining some amends from this proud lord,
who, though for very different reasons, had become nearly as odious
to him as the Wild Boar of Ardennes himself. He therefore assented to
Crevecoeur's proposal, as to what he had no choice of declining, and
they pursued in company, and with all the despatch they could exert, the
road between Charleroi and Peronne.



CHAPTER XXV: THE UNBIDDEN GUEST

     No human quality is so well wove
     In warp and woof, but there 's some flaw in it:
     I've known a brave man fly a shepherd's cur,
     A wise man so demean him, drivelling idiocy
     Had wellnigh been ashamed on't. For your crafty,
     Your worldly wise man, he, above the rest,
     Weaves his own snares so fine, he 's often caught in them.

     OLD PLAY


Quentin, during the earlier part of the night journey, had to combat
with that bitter heartache which is felt when youth parts, and probably
forever, with her he loves. As, pressed by the urgency of the moment,
and the impatience of Crevecoeur, they hasted on through the rich
lowlands of Hainault, under the benign guidance of a rich and lustrous
harvest moon, she shed her yellow influence over rich and deep pastures,
woodland, and cornfields, from which the husbandmen were using her light
to withdraw the grain, such was the industry of the Flemings, even at
that period, she shone on broad, level, and fructifying rivers, where
glided the white sail in the service of commerce, uninterrupted by rock
and torrent, beside lively quiet villages, whose external decency and
cleanliness expressed the ease and comfort of the inhabitants,--she
gleamed upon the feudal castle of many a Baron and Knight, with its deep
moat, battlemented court, and high belfry--for the chivalry of Hainault
was renowned among the nobles of Europe--and her light displayed at a
distance, in its broad beam, the gigantic towers of more than one lofty
minster.

Yet all this fair variety, however, differing from the waste and
wilderness of his own land, interrupted not the course of Quentin's
regrets and sorrows. He had left his heart behind him when he departed
from Charleroi, and the only reflection which the farther journey
inspired was that every step was carrying him farther from Isabelle. His
imagination was taxed to recall every word she had spoken, every look
she had directed towards him, and, as happens frequently in such cases,
the impression made upon his imagination by the recollection of these
particulars, was even stronger than the realities themselves had
excited.

At length, after the cold hour of midnight was past, in spite alike of
love and of sorrow, the extreme fatigue which Quentin had undergone the
two preceding days began to have an effect on him, which his habits
of exercise of every kind, and his singular alertness and activity
of character, as well as the painful nature of the reflections which
occupied his thoughts, had hitherto prevented his experiencing. The
ideas of his mind began to be so little corrected by the exertions of
his senses, worn out and deadened as the latter now were by extremity of
fatigue, that the visions which the former drew superseded or perverted
the information conveyed by the blunted organs of seeing and hearing,
and Durward was only sensible that he was awake, by the exertions which,
sensible of the peril of his situation, he occasionally made to
resist falling into a deep and dead sleep. Every now and then, strong
consciousness of the risk of falling from or with his horse roused him
to exertion and animation, but ere long his eyes again were dimmed by
confused shades of all sorts of mingled colours, the moonlight landscape
swam before them, and he was so much overcome with fatigue, that the
Count of Crevecoeur, observing his condition, was at length compelled
to order two of his attendants, one to each rein of Durward's bridle, in
order to prevent the risk of his falling from his horse.

When at length they reached the town of Landrecy, the Count, in
compassion to the youth, who had now been in a great measure without
sleep for three nights, allowed himself and his retinue a halt of four
hours, for rest and refreshment. Deep and sound were Quentin's slumbers,
until they were broken by the sound of the Count's trumpet, and the cry
of his Fouriers [subordinate officers who secure quarters for the army
while manoeuvring] and harbingers, "Debout! debout! Ha! Messires, en
route, en route! [arise, let us set out!]"

Yet, unwelcomely early as the tones came, they awaked him a different
being in strength and spirits from what he had fallen asleep. Confidence
in himself and his fortunes returned with his reviving spirits, and
with the rising sun. He thought of his love no longer as a desperate
and fantastic dream, but as a high and invigorating principle, to be
cherished in his bosom, although he might never purpose to himself,
under all the difficulties by which he was beset, to bring it to any
prosperous issue.

"The pilot," he reflected, "steers his bark by the polar star, although
he never expects to become possessor of it, and the thoughts of Isabelle
of Croye shall make me a worthy man at arms, though I may never see
her more. When she hears that a Scottish soldier named Quentin Durward
distinguished himself in a well fought field, or left his body on the
breach of a disputed fortress, she will remember the companion of
her journey, as one who did all in his power to avert the snares and
misfortunes which beset it, and perhaps will honour his memory with a
tear, his coffin with a garland."

In this manly mood of bearing his misfortune, Quentin felt himself more
able to receive and reply to the jests of the Count of Crevecoeur, who
passed several on his alleged effeminacy and incapacity of undergoing
fatigue. The young Scot accommodated himself so good humouredly to the
Count's raillery, and replied at once so happily and so respectfully,
that the change of his tone and manner made obviously a more favourable
impression on the Count than he had entertained from his prisoner's
conduct during the preceding evening, when, rendered irritable by the
feelings of his situation, he was alternately moodily silent or fiercely
argumentative. The veteran soldier began at length to take notice of his
young companion as a pretty fellow, of whom something might be made, and
more than hinted to him that would he but resign his situation in the
Archer Guard of France, he would undertake to have him enrolled in the
household of the Duke of Burgundy in an honourable condition, and
would himself take care of his advancement. And although Quentin, with
suitable expressions of gratitude, declined this favour at present,
until he should find out how far he had to complain of his original
patron, King Louis, he, nevertheless, continued to remain on good
terms with the Count of Crevecoeur, and, while his enthusiastic mode of
thinking, and his foreign and idiomatical manner of expressing himself,
often excited a smile on the grave cheek of the Count, that smile had
lost all that it had of sarcastic and bitter, and did not exceed the
limits of good humour and good manners.

Thus travelling on with much more harmony than on the preceding day, the
little party came at last within two miles of the famous and strong town
of Peronne, near which the Duke of Burgundy's army lay encamped, ready,
as was supposed, to invade France, and, in opposition to which, Louis XI
had himself assembled a strong force near Saint Maxence, for the purpose
of bringing to reason his over powerful vassal.

Perrone, situated upon a deep river, in a flat country, and surrounded
by strong bulwarks and profound moats, was accounted in ancient as in
modern times, one of the strongest fortresses in France. [Indeed, though
lying on an exposed and warlike frontier, it was never taken by an
enemy, but preserved the proud name of Peronne la Pucelle, until the
Duke of Wellington, a great destroyer of that sort of reputation, took
the place in the memorable advance upon Paris in 1815. S.] The Count of
Crevecoeur, his retinue, and his prisoner, were approaching the fortress
about the third hour after noon, when riding through the pleasant glades
of a large forest, which then covered the approach to the town on the
east side, they were met by two men of rank, as appeared from the number
of their attendants, dressed in the habits worn in time of peace, and
who, to judge from the falcons which they carried on their wrists,
and the number of spaniels and greyhounds led by their followers, were
engaged in the amusement of hawking. But on perceiving Crevecoeur, with
whose appearance and liveries they were sufficiently intimate, they
quitted the search which they were making for a heron along the banks of
a long canal, and came galloping towards him.

"News, news, Count of Crevecoeur," they cried both together, "will you
give news, or take news? or will you barter fairly?"

"I would barter fairly, Messires," said Crevecoeur, after saluting them
courteously, "did I conceive you had any news of importance sufficient
to make an equivalent for mine."

The two sportsmen smiled on each other, and the elder of the two, a
fine baronial figure, with a dark countenance, marked with that sort of
sadness which some physiognomists ascribe to a melancholy temperament,
and some, as the Italian statuary augured of the visage of Charles I,
consider as predicting an unhappy death, turning to his companion, said,
"Crevecoeur has been in Brabant, the country of commerce, and he has
learned all its artifices--he will be too hard for us if we drive a
bargain."

"Messires," said Crevecoeur, "the Duke ought in justice to have the
first of my wares, as the Seigneur takes his toll before open market
begins. But tell me, are your news of a sad or a pleasant complexion?"

The person whom he particularly addressed was a lively looking man,
with an eye of great vivacity, which was corrected by an expression
of reflection and gravity about the mouth and upper lip--the whole
physiognomy marking a man who saw and judged rapidly, but was sage and
slow in forming resolutions or in expressing opinions. This was the
famous Knight of Hainault, son of Collara, or Nicolas de l'Elite, known
in history, and amongst historians, by the venerable name of Philip de
Comines, at this time close to the person of Duke Charles the Bold, and
one of his most esteemed counsellors. He answered Crevecoeur's question
concerning the complexion of the news of which he and his companion, the
Baron D'Hymbercourt, were the depositaries.

[Philip de Comines was described in the former editions of this work
as a little man, fitted rather for counsel than action. This was a
description made at a venture, to vary the military portraits with which
the age and work abound. Sleidan the historian, upon the authority of
Matthieu d'Arves, who knew Philip de Comines, and had served in his
household, says he was a man of tall stature, and a noble presence.
The learned Monsieur Petitot... intimates that Philip de Comines made a
figure at the games of chivalry and pageants exhibited on the wedding of
Charles of Burgundy with Margaret of England in 1468.... He is the first
named, however, of a gallant band of assailants, knights and noblemen,
to the number of twenty, who, with the Prince of Orange as their leader,
encountered, in a general tourney, with a party of the same number under
the profligate Adolf of Cleves, who acted as challenger, by the romantic
title of Arbre d'or. The encounter, though with arms of courtesy, was
very fierce, and separated by main force, not without difficulty. Philip
de Comines has, therefore, a title to be accounted tam Martre quam
Mercurio... S.]

[D'Hymbercourt, or Imbercourt, was put to death by the inhabitants
of Ghent, with the Chancellor of Burgundy, in the year 1477. Mary of
Burgundy, daughter of Charles the Bold, appeared in mourning in the
marketplace, and with tears besought the life of her servants from her
insurgent subjects, but in vain. S.]

"They were," he said, "like the colours of the rainbow, various in hue,
as they might be viewed from different points, and placed against the
black cloud or the fair sky.--Such a rainbow was never seen in France or
Flanders, since that of Noah's ark."

"My tidings," replied Crevecoeur, "are altogether like the comet,
gloomy, wild, and terrible in themselves, yet to be accounted the
forerunners of still greater and more dreadful evils which are to
ensue."

"We must open our bales," said Comines to his companion, "or our market
will be forestalled by some newcomers, for ours are public news.--In one
word, Crevecoeur--listen and wonder--King Louis is at Peronne."

"What!" said the Count in astonishment, "has the Duke retreated without
a battle? and do you remain here in your dress of peace, after the town
is besieged by the French?--for I cannot suppose it taken."

"No, surely," said D'Hymbercourt, "the banners of Burgundy have not gone
back a foot, and still King Louis is here."

"Then Edward of England must have come over the seas with his bowmen,"
said Crevecoeur, "and, like his ancestors, gained a second field of
Poictiers?"

"Not so," said Comines. "Not a French banner has been borne down, not
a sail spread from England--where Edward is too much amused among the
wives of the citizens of London to think of playing the Black Prince.
Hear the extraordinary truth. You know, when you left us, that the
conference between the commissioners on the parts of France and Burgundy
was broken up, without apparent chance of reconciliation."

"True, and we dreamt of nothing but war."

"What has followed has been indeed so like a dream," said Comines, "that
I almost expect to awake, and find it so. Only one day since, the Duke
had in council protested so furiously against farther delay that it was
resolved to send a defiance to the King, and march forward instantly
into France. Toison d'Or, commissioned for the purpose, had put on his
official dress, and had his foot in the stirrup to mount his horse, when
lo! the French herald Montjoie rode into our camp.

"We thought of nothing else than that Louis had been beforehand with
our defiance, and began to consider how much the Duke would resent the
advice which had prevented him from being the first to declare war. But
a council being speedily assembled, what was our wonder when the herald
informed us, that Louis, King of France, was scarce an hour's riding
behind, intending to visit Charles, Duke of Burgundy, with a small
retinue, in order that their differences might be settled at a personal
interview!"

"You surprise me, Messires," said Crevecoeur, "yet you surprise me less
than you might have expected, for, when I was last at Plessis les Tours,
the all trusted Cardinal Balue, offended with his master, and Burgundian
at heart, did hint to me that he could so work upon Louis's peculiar
foibles as to lead him to place himself in such a position with regard
to Burgundy that the Duke might have the terms of peace of his own
making. But I never suspected that so old a fox as Louis could have
been induced to come into the trap of his own accord. What said the
Burgundian counsellors?"

"As you may guess," answered D'Hymbercourt, "talked much of faith to be
observed, and little of advantage to be obtained by such a visit, while
it was manifest they thought almost entirely of the last, and were only
anxious to find some way to reconcile it with the necessary preservation
of appearances."

"And what said the Duke?" continued the Count of Crevecoeur.

"Spoke brief and bold as usual," replied Comines. "'Which of you was
it,' he asked, 'who witnessed the meeting of my cousin Louis and
me after the battle of Montl'hery, when I was so thoughtless as to
accompany him back within the intrenchments of Paris with half a score
of attendants, and so put my person at the King's mercy?' I replied,
that most of us had been present, and none could ever forget the alarm
which it had been his pleasure to give us. 'Well,' said the Duke, 'you
blamed me for my folly, and I confessed to you that I had acted like
a giddy pated boy, and I am aware, too, that my father of happy memory
being then alive, my kinsman, Louis, would have had less advantage
by seizing on my person than I might now have by securing his. But,
nevertheless, if my royal kinsman comes hither on the present occasion,
in the same singleness of heart under which I then acted, he shall be
royally welcome.--If it is meant by this appearance of confidence to
circumvent and to blind me, till he execute some of his politic schemes,
by Saint George of Burgundy, let him to look to it!' And so, having
turned up his mustaches and stamped on the ground, he ordered us all to
get on our horses, and receive so extraordinary a guest."

[After the battle of Montl'hery, in 1465, Charles... had an interview
with Louis under the walls of Paris, each at the head of a small party.
The two Princes dismounted, and walked together so deeply engaged
in discussing the business of their meeting, that Charles forgot the
peculiarity of his situation; and when Louis turned back towards the
town of Paris, from which he came, the Count of Charalois kept him
company so far as to pass the line of outworks with which Paris was
surrounded, and enter a field work which communicated with the town by
a trench.... His escort and his principal followers rode forward from
where he had left them. ... To their great joy the Count returned
uninjured, accompanied with a guard belonging to Louis. The Burgundians
taxed him with rashness in no measured terms. "Say no more of it," said
Charles; "I acknowledge the extent of my folly, but I was not aware
what I was doing till I entered the redoubt." Memoires de Philippe de
Comines.--S.]

"And you met the King accordingly?" replied the Count of Crevecoeur.
"Miracles have not ceased--How was he accompanied?"

"As slightly as might be," answered D'Hymbercourt, "only a score or two
of the Scottish Guard, and a few knights and gentlemen of his household
among whom his astrologer, Galeotti, made the gayest figure."

"That fellow," said Crevecoeur, "holds some dependence on the
Cardinal Balue--I should not be surprised that he has had his share in
determining the King to this step of doubtful policy. Any nobility of
higher rank?"

"There are Monsieur of Orleans, and Dunois," replied Comines.

"I will have a rouse with Dunois," said Crevecoeur, "wag the world as it
will. But we heard that both he and the Duke had fallen into disgrace,
and were in prison."

"They were both under arrest in the Castle of Loches, that delightful
place of retirement for the French nobility," said D'Hymbercourt,
"but Louis has released them, in order to bring them with him--perhaps
because he cared not to leave Orleans behind. For his other attendants,
faith, I think his gossip, the Hangman Marshal, with two or three of his
retinue, and Oliver, his barber, may be the most considerable--and the
whole bevy so poorly arrayed, that, by my honour, the King resembles
most an old usurer, going to collect desperate debts, attended by a body
of catchpolls."

"And where is he lodged?" said Crevecoeur.

"Nay, that," replied the Comines, "is the most marvellous of all. Our
Duke offered to let the King's Archer Guard have a gate of the town, and
a bridge of boats over the Somme, and to have assigned to Louis himself
the adjoining house, belonging to a wealthy burgess, Giles Orthen, but,
in going thither, the King espied the banners of De Lau and Pencil de
Riviere, whom he had banished from France, and scared, as it would seem,
with the thought of lodging so near refugees and malcontents of his own
making, he craved to be quartered in the castle of Peronne, and there he
hath his abode accordingly."

"Why, God ha' mercy!" exclaimed Crevecoeur, "this is not only not being
content with venturing into the lion's den, but thrusting his head into
his very jaws.--Nothing less than the very bottom of the rat trap would
serve the crafty old politician!"

"Nay," said Comines, "D'Hymbercourt hath not told you the speech of
Le Glorieux [the jester of Charles of Burgundy of whom more hereafter.
S.]--which, in my mind, was the shrewdest opinion that was given."

"And what said his most illustrious wisdom?" asked the Count.

"As the Duke," replied Comines, "was hastily ordering some vessels and
ornaments of plate and the like, to be prepared as presents for the King
and his retinue, by way of welcome on his arrival:

"'Trouble not thy small brain about it, my friend Charles,' said Le
Glorieux, 'I will give thy cousin Louis a nobler and a fitter gift than
thou canst, and that is my cap and bells, and my bauble to boot, for,
by the mass, he is a greater fool than I am, for putting himself in thy
power.'

"'But if I give him no reason to repent it, sirrah, how thou?' said the
Duke.

"'Then, truly, Charles, thou shalt have cap and bauble thyself, as the
greatest fool of the three of us.'

"I promise you this knavish quip touched the Duke closely--I saw him
change colour and bite his lip. And now, our news are told, noble
Crevecoeur, and what think you they resemble?"

"A mine full charged with gunpowder," answered Crevecoeur, "to which,
I fear, it is my fate to bring the kindled linstock. Your news and mine
are like flax and fire, which cannot meet without bursting into flame,
or like certain chemical substances which cannot be mingled without an
explosion. Friends--gentlemen--ride close by my rein, and when I tell
you what has chanced in the bishopric of Liege, I think you will be of
opinion that King Louis might as safely have undertaken a pilgrimage to
the infernal regions as this ill timed visit to Peronne."

The two nobles drew up close on either hand of the Count, and listened,
with half suppressed exclamations, and gestures of the deepest
wonder and interest, to his account of the transactions at Liege
and Schonwaldt. Quentin was then called forward, and examined and
re-examined on the particulars of the Bishop's death, until at length
he refused to answer any farther interrogatories, not knowing wherefore
they were asked, or what use might be made of his replies.

They now reached the rich and level banks of the Somme, and the ancient
walls of the little town of Peronne la Pucelle, and the deep green
meadows adjoining, now whitened with the numerous tents of the Duke of
Burgundy's army, amounting to about fifteen thousand men.



CHAPTER XXVI: THE INTERVIEW

     When Princes meet, Astrologers may mark it
     An ominous conjunction, full of boding,
     Like that of Mars with Saturn.

     OLD PLAY


One hardly knows whether to term it a privilege or a penalty annexed to
the quality of princes, that, in their intercourse with each other, they
are required by the respect which is due to their own rank and dignity,
to regulate their feelings and expressions by a severe etiquette, which
precludes all violent and avowed display of passion, and which, but that
the whole world are aware that this assumed complaisance is a matter of
ceremony, might justly pass for profound dissimulation. It is no less
certain, however, that the overstepping of these bounds of ceremonial,
for the purpose of giving more direct vent to their angry passions, has
the effect of compromising their dignity with the world in general;
as was particularly noted when those distinguished rivals, Francis the
First and the Emperor Charles, gave each other the lie direct, and were
desirous of deciding their differences hand to hand, in single combat.

Charles of Burgundy, the most hasty and impatient, nay, the most
imprudent prince of his time, found himself, nevertheless, fettered
within the magic circle which prescribed the most profound deference to
Louis, as his Suzerain and liege Lord, who had deigned to confer upon
him, a vassal of the crown, the distinguished honour of a personal
visit. Dressed in his ducal mantle, and attended by his great officers
and principal knights and nobles, he went in gallant cavalcade to
receive Louis XI. His retinue absolutely blazed with gold and silver;
for the wealth of the Court of England being exhausted by the wars of
York and Lancaster, and the expenditure of France limited by the economy
of the Sovereign, that of Burgundy was for the time the most magnificent
in Europe. The cortege of Louis, on the contrary, was few in number, and
comparatively mean in appearance, and the exterior of the King himself,
in a threadbare cloak, with his wonted old high crowned hat stuck full
of images, rendered the contrast yet more striking; and as the Duke,
richly attired with the coronet and mantle of state, threw himself
from his noble charger, and, kneeling on one knee, offered to hold the
stirrup while Louis dismounted from his little ambling palfrey, the
effect was almost grotesque.

The greeting between the two potentates was, of course, as full of
affected kindness and compliment as it was totally devoid of sincerity.
But the temper of the Duke rendered it much more difficult for him to
preserve the necessary appearances, in voice, speech, and demeanour;
while in the King, every species of simulation and dissimulation seemed
so much a part of his nature that those best acquainted with him could
not have distinguished what was feigned from what was real.

Perhaps the most accurate illustration, were it not unworthy two such
high potentates, would be to suppose the King in the situation of a
stranger, perfectly acquainted with the habits and dispositions of the
canine race, who, for some, purpose of his own, is desirous to make
friends with a large and surly mastiff that holds him in suspicion and
is disposed to worry him on the first symptoms either of diffidence or
of umbrage. The mastiff growls internally, erects his bristles, shows
his teeth, yet is ashamed to fly upon the intruder, who seems at the
same time so kind and so confiding, and therefore the animal endures
advances which are far from pacifying him, watching at the same time the
slightest opportunity which may justify him in his own eyes for seizing
his friend by the throat.

The King was no doubt sensible, from the altered voice, constrained
manner, and abrupt gestures of the Duke, that the game he had to play
was delicate, and perhaps he more than once repented having ever taken
it in hand. But repentance was too late, and all that remained for him
was that inimitable dexterity of management, which the King understood
equally at least with any man that ever lived.

The demeanour which Louis used towards the Duke was such as to resemble
the kind overflowing of the heart in a moment of sincere reconciliation
with an honoured and tried friend, from whom he had been estranged
by temporary circumstances now passed away, and forgotten as soon
as removed. The King blamed himself for not having sooner taken the
decisive step, of convincing his kind and good kinsman by such a mark
of confidence as he was now bestowing, that the angry passages which
had occurred betwixt them were nothing in his remembrance, when weighed
against the kindness which received him when an exile from France, and
under the displeasure of the King his father. He spoke of the good Duke
of Burgundy, as Philip the father of Duke Charles was currently called,
and remembered a thousand instances of his paternal kindness.

"I think, cousin," he said, "your father made little difference in his
affection betwixt you and me; for I remember when by an accident I had
bewildered myself in a hunting party, I found the good Duke upbraiding
you with leaving me in the forest, as if you had been careless of the
safety of an elder brother."

The Duke of Burgundy's features were naturally harsh and severe; and
when he attempted to smile, in polite acquiescence to the truth of what
the King told him, the grimace which he made was truly diabolical.

"Prince of dissemblers," he said, in his secret soul, "would that
it stood with my honour to remind you how you have requited all the
benefits of our House!"

"And then," continued the King, "if the ties of consanguinity and
gratitude are not sufficient to bind us together, my fair cousin, we
have those of spiritual relationship; for I am godfather to your fair
daughter Mary, who is as dear to me as one of my own maidens; and when
the Saints (their holy name be blessed!) sent me a little blossom which
withered in the course of three months, it was your princely father who
held it at the font, and celebrated the ceremony of baptism with richer
and prouder magnificence than Paris itself could have afforded. Never
shall I forget the deep, the indelible impression which the generosity
of Duke Philip, and yours, my dearest cousin, made upon the half broken
heart of the poor exile!"

"Your Majesty," said the Duke, compelling himself to make some reply,
"acknowledged that slight obligation in terms which overpaid all the
display which Burgundy could make, to show a due sense of the honour you
had done its Sovereign."

"I remember the words you mean, fair cousin," said the King, smiling;
"I think they were, that in guerdon of the benefit of that day, I, poor
wanderer, had nothing to offer, save the persons of myself, of my wife,
and of my child.--Well, and I think I have indifferently well redeemed
my pledge."

"I mean not to dispute what your Majesty is pleased to aver," said the
Duke; "but--"

"But you ask," said the King, interrupting him, "how my actions have
accorded with my words.--Marry thus: the body of my infant child Joachim
rests in Burgundian earth--my own person I have this morning placed
unreservedly in your power--and, for that of my wife,--truly, cousin, I
think, considering the period of time which has passed, you will scarce
insist on my keeping my word in that particular. She was born on the Day
of the Blessed Annunciation" (he crossed himself, and muttered an Ora
pro nobis [intercede for us]), "some fifty years since; but she is
no farther distant than Rheims, and if you insist on my promise being
fulfilled to the letter, she shall presently wait your pleasure."

Angry as the Duke of Burgundy was at the barefaced attempt of the King
to assume towards him a tone of friendship and intimacy, he could not
help laughing at the whimsical reply of that singular monarch, and his
laugh was as discordant as the abrupt tones of passion in which he often
spoke. Having laughed longer and louder than was at that period, or
would now be, thought fitting the time and occasion, he answered in
the same tone, bluntly declining the honour of the Queen's company, but
stating his willingness to accept that of the King's eldest daughter,
whose beauty was celebrated.

"I am happy, fair cousin," said the King, with one of those dubious
smiles of which he frequently made use, "that your gracious pleasure
has not fixed on my younger daughter, Joan. I should otherwise have had
spear breaking between you and my cousin of Orleans; and, had harm come
of it, I must on either side have lost a kind friend and affectionate
cousin."

"Nay, nay, my royal sovereign," said Duke Charles, "the Duke of Orleans
shall have no interruption from me in the path which he has chosen par
amours. The cause in which I couch my lance against Orleans must be fair
and straight."

Louis was far from taking amiss this brutal allusion to the personal
deformity of the Princess Joan. On the contrary, he was rather pleased
to find that the Duke was content to be amused with broad jests, in
which he was himself a proficient, and which (according to the modern
phrase) spared much sentimental hypocrisy. Accordingly, he speedily
placed their intercourse on such a footing that Charles, though he felt
it impossible to play the part of an affectionate and reconciled friend
to a monarch whose ill offices he had so often encountered, and whose
sincerity on the present occasion he so strongly doubted, yet had no
difficulty in acting the hearty landlord towards a facetious guest; and
so the want of reciprocity in kinder feelings between them was
supplied by the tone of good fellowship which exists between two boon
companions--a tone natural to the Duke from the frankness, and, it might
be added, the grossness of his character, and to Louis, because, though
capable of assuming any mood of social intercourse, that which really
suited him best was mingled with grossness of ideas and of caustic
humour and expression.

Both Princes were happily able to preserve, during the period of a
banquet at the town house of Peronne, the same kind of conversation,
on which they met as on a neutral ground, and which, as Louis easily
perceived, was more available than any other to keep the Duke of
Burgundy in that state of composure which seemed necessary to his own
safety.

Yet he was alarmed to observe that the Duke had around him several of
those French nobles, and those of the highest rank, and in situations
of great trust and power, whom his own severity or injustice had driven
into exile; and it was to secure himself from the possible effects of
their resentment and revenge, that (as already mentioned) he requested
to be lodged in the Castle or Citadel of Peronne, rather than in the
town itself. This was readily granted by Duke Charles, with one of those
grim smiles of which it was impossible to say whether it meant good or
harm to the party whom it concerned.

[Scott quotes from the Memoires of De Comines as follows: "these
nobles... inspired Louis with so much suspicion that he... demanded to
be lodged in the old Castle of Peronne, and thus rendered himself an
absolute captive."]

But when the King, expressing himself with as much delicacy as he could,
and in the manner he thought best qualified to lull suspicion asleep,
asked whether the Scottish Archers of his Guard might not maintain the
custody of the Castle of Peronne during his residence there, in lieu of
the gate of the town which the Duke had offered to their care, Charles
replied, with his wonted sternness of voice and abruptness of manner,
rendered more alarming by his habit, when he spoke, of either turning
up his mustaches, or handling his sword or dagger, the last of which
he used frequently to draw a little way, and then return to the sheath
[this gesture, very indicative of a fierce character, is also by stage
tradition a distinction of Shakespeare's Richard III. S.],

"Saint Martin! No, my Liege. You are in your vassal's camp and city--so
men call me in respect to your Majesty--my castle and town are yours,
and my men are yours; so it is indifferent whether my men at arms or
the Scottish Archers guard either the outer gate or defences of the
Castle.--No, by Saint George! Peronne is a virgin fortress--she
shall not lose her reputation by any neglect of mine. Maidens must be
carefully watched, my royal cousin, if we would have them continue to
live in good fame."

"Surely, fair cousin, and I altogether agree with you," said the King,
"I being in fact more interested in the reputation of the good little
town than you are--Peronne being, as you know, fair cousin, one of those
upon the same river Somme, which, pledged to your father of happy memory
for redemption of money, are liable to be redeemed upon repayment. And,
to speak truth; coming, like an honest debtor, disposed to clear off
my obligations of every kind, I have brought here a few sumpter mules
loaded with silver for the redemption--enough to maintain even your
princely and royal establishment, fair cousin, for the space of three
years."

"I will not receive a penny of it," said the Duke, twirling his
mustaches--"the day of redemption is past, my royal cousin; nor were
there ever serious purpose that the right should be exercised, the
cession of these towns being the sole recompense my father ever received
from France, when, in a happy hour for your family, he consented to
forget the murder of my grandfather, and to exchange the alliance of
England for that of your father. Saint George! if he had not so acted,
your royal self, far from having towns in the Somme, could scarce have
kept those beyond the Loire. No--I will not render a stone of them, were
I to receive for every stone so rendered its weight in gold. I thank
God, and the wisdom and valour of my ancestors, that the revenues of
Burgundy, though it be a duchy, will maintain my state, even when a King
is my guest, without obliging me to barter my heritage."

"Well, fair cousin," answered the King, with the same mild and placid
manner as before, and unperturbed by the loud tone and violent gestures
of the Duke, "I see that you are so good a friend to France that you are
unwilling to part with aught that belongs to her. But we shall need
some moderator in those affairs when we come to treat of them in
council.--What say you to Saint Paul?"

"Neither Saint Paul, nor Saint Peter, nor e'er a Saint in the Calendar,"
said the Duke of Burgundy, "shall preach me out of the possession of
Peronne."

"Nay, but you mistake me," said King Louis, smiling; "I mean Louis de
Luxembourg, our trusty constable, the Count of Saint Paul.--Ah! Saint
Mary of Embrun! we lack but his head at our conference! the best head
in France, and the most useful to the restoration of perfect harmony
betwixt us."

"By Saint George of Burgundy!" said the Duke, "I marvel to hear your
Majesty talk thus of a man, false and perjured, both to France and
Burgundy--one who hath ever endeavoured to fan into a flame our frequent
differences, and that with the purpose of giving himself the airs of a
mediator. I swear by the Order I wear that his marshes shall not be long
a resource for him!"

"Be not so warm, cousin," said the King, smiling, and speaking under his
breath; "when I wished for the head constable, as a means of ending the
settlement of our trifling differences, I had no desire for his body,
which might remain at Saint Quentin's with much convenience."

"Ho! ho! I take your meaning, my royal cousin," said Charles, with the
same dissonant laugh which some other of the King's coarse pleasantries
had extorted; and added, stamping his heel on the ground, "I allow, in
that sense, the head of the Constable might be useful at Peronne."

These, and other discourses, by which the King mixed hints at serious
affairs amid matters of mirth and amusement, did not follow each other
consecutively; but were adroitly introduced during the time of the
banquet at the Hotel de Ville, during a subsequent interview in the
Duke's own apartments, and, in short, as occasion seemed to render the
introduction of such delicate subjects easy and natural.

Indeed, however rashly Louis had placed himself in a risk which the
Duke's fiery temper and the mutual subjects of exasperated enmity which
subsisted betwixt them rendered of doubtful and perilous issue, never
pilot on an unknown coast conducted himself with more firmness and
prudence. He seemed to sound with the utmost address and precision
the depths and shallows of his rival's mind and temper, and manifested
neither doubt nor fear when the result of his experiments discovered
much more of sunken rocks and of dangerous shoals than of safe
anchorage.

At length a day closed which must have been a wearisome one to Louis,
from the constant exertion, vigilance, precaution, and attention which
his situation required, as it was a day of constraint to the Duke, from
the necessity of suppressing the violent feelings to which he was in the
general habit of giving uncontrolled vent.

No sooner had the latter retired into his own apartment, after he had
taken a formal leave of the King for the night, than he gave way to the
explosion of passion which he had so long suppressed; and many an oath
and abusive epithet, as his jester, Le Glorieux said, "fell that night
upon heads which they were never coined for," his domestics reaping
the benefit of that hoard of injurious language which he could not in
decency bestow on his royal guest, even in his absence, and which was
yet become too great to be altogether suppressed. The jests of the clown
had some effect in tranquillizing the Duke's angry mood--he laughed
loudly, threw the jester a piece of gold, caused himself to be disrobed
in tranquillity, swallowed a deep cup of wine and spices, went to bed,
and slept soundly.

The couchee of King Louis is more worthy of notice than that of Charles;
for the violent expression of exasperated and headlong passion, as
indeed it belongs more to the brutal than the intelligent part of our
nature, has little to interest us, in comparison to the deep workings of
a vigorous and powerful mind.

Louis was escorted to the lodgings he had chosen in the Castle, or
Citadel of Peronne, by the Chamberlains and harbingers of the Duke of
Burgundy, and received at the entrance by a strong guard of archers and
men at arms.

As he descended from his horse to cross the drawbridge, over a moat of
unusual width and depth, he looked on the sentinels, and observed to
Comines, who accompanied him, with other Burgundian nobles, "They wear
Saint Andrew's crosses--but not those of my Scottish Archers."

"You will find them as ready to die in your defence, Sire," said the
Burgundian, whose sagacious ear had detected in the King's tone of
speech a feeling which doubtless Louis would have concealed if he could.
"They wear the Saint Andrew's Cross as the appendage of the collar of
the Golden Fleece, my master the Duke of Burgundy's Order."

"Do I not know it?" said Louis, showing the collar which he himself wore
in compliment to his host. "It is one of the dear bonds of fraternity
which exist between my kind brother and myself. We are brothers in
chivalry, as in spiritual relationship; cousins by birth, and friends by
every tie of kind feeling and good neighbourhood.--No farther than the
base court, my noble lords and gentlemen! I can permit your attendance
no farther--you have done me enough of grace."

"We were charged by the Duke," said D'Hymbercourt, "to bring your
Majesty to your lodging.--We trust your Majesty will permit us to obey
our master's command."

"In this small matter," said the King, "I trust you will allow my
command to outweigh his, even with you his liege subjects.--I am
something indisposed, my lords--something fatigued. Great pleasure hath
its toils, as well as great pain. I trust to enjoy your society better
tomorrow.--And yours, too, Seignior Philip of Comines--I am told you are
the annalist of the time--we that desire to have a name in history
must speak you fair, for men say your pen hath a sharp point, when you
will.--Goodnight, my lords and gentles, to all and each of you."

The Lords of Burgundy retired, much pleased with the grace of Louis's
manner, and the artful distribution of his attentions; and the King
was left with only one or two of his own personal followers, under the
archway of the base court of the Castle of Peronne, looking on the huge
tower which occupied one of the angles, being in fact the Donjon, or
principal Keep, of the palace. This tall, dark, massive building was
seen clearly by the same moon which was lighting Quentin Durward
betwixt Charleroi and Peronne, which, as the reader is aware, shone with
peculiar lustre. The great Keep was in form nearly resembling the
White Tower in the Citadel of London, but still more ancient in its
architecture, deriving its date, as was affirmed, from the days of
Charlemagne. The walls were of a tremendous thickness, the windows very
small, and grated with bars of iron, and the huge clumsy bulk of
the building cast a dark and portentous shadow over the whole of the
courtyard.

"I am not to be lodged there," the King said, with a shudder that had
something in it ominous.

"No," replied the gray headed seneschal, who attended upon him
unbonneted. "God forbid!--Your Majesty's apartments are prepared in
these lower buildings which are hard by, and in which King John slept
two nights before the battle of Poitiers."

"Hum--that is no lucky omen neither," muttered the King; "but what of
the Tower, my old friend? and why should you desire of Heaven that I may
not be there lodged?"

"Nay, my gracious Liege," said the seneschal, "I know no evil of the
Tower at all, only that the sentinels say lights are seen, and strange
noises heard in it at night; and there are reasons why that may be the
case, for anciently it was used as a state prison, and there are many
tales of deeds which have been done in it."

Louis asked no further questions; for no man was more bound than he to
respect the secrets of a prison house. At the door of the apartments
destined for his use, which, though of later date than the Tower, were
still both ancient and gloomy, stood a small party of the Scottish
Guard, which the Duke, although he declined to concede the point to
Louis, had ordered to be introduced, so as to be near the person of
their master. The faithful Lord Crawford was at their head.

"Crawford--my honest and faithful Crawford," said the King, "where
hast thou been today?--Are the Lords of Burgundy so inhospitable as to
neglect one of the bravest and most noble gentlemen that ever trode a
court?--I saw you not at the banquet."

"I declined it, my Liege," said Crawford, "times are changed with me.
The day has been that I could have ventured a carouse with the best man
in Burgundy and that in the juice of his own grape; but a matter of four
pints now flusters me, and I think it concerns your Majesty's service to
set in this an example to my gallants."

"Thou art ever prudent," said the King, "but surely your toil is the
less when you have so few men to command?--and a time of festivity
requires not so severe self denial on your part as a time of danger."

"If I have few men to command," said Crawford, "I have the more need to
keep the knaves in fitting condition; and whether this business be like
to end in feasting or fighting, God and your Majesty know better than
old John of Crawford."

"You surely do not apprehend any danger?" said the King hastily, yet in
a whisper.

"Not I," answered Crawford; "I wish I did; for, as old Earl Tineman [an
Earl of Douglas, so called. S.] used to say, apprehended dangers may
be always defended dangers.--The word for the night, if your Majesty
pleases?"

"Let it be Burgundy, in honour of our host and of a liquor that you
love, Crawford."

"I will quarrel with neither Duke nor drink, so called," said Crawford,
"provided always that both be sound. A good night to your Majesty!"

"A good night, my trusty Scot," said the King, and passed on to his
apartments.

At the door of his bedroom Le Balafre was placed sentinel. "Follow me
hither," said the King, as he passed him; and the Archer accordingly,
like a piece of machinery put into motion by an artist, strode after him
into the apartment, and remained there fixed, silent, and motionless,
attending the royal command.

"Have you heard from that wandering Paladin, your nephew?" said the
King; "for he hath been lost to us, since, like a young knight who had
set out upon his first adventures, he sent us home two prisoners as the
first fruits of his chivalry."

"My Lord, I heard something of that," said Balafre, "and I hope your
Majesty will believe that if he acted wrongfully, it was in no shape by
any precept or example, since I never was so bold as to unhorse any of
your Majesty's most illustrious house, better knowing my own condition,
and--"

"Be silent on that point," said the King; "your nephew did his duty in
the matter."

"There indeed," continued Balafre, "he had the cue from me.--'Quentin,'
said I to him, 'whatever comes of it, remember you belong to the
Scottish Archer Guard, and do your duty whatever comes on't.'"

"I guess he had some such exquisite instructor," said Louis; "but it
concerns me that you answer me my first question.--Have you heard of
your nephew of late?--Stand aback, my masters," he added, addressing the
gentlemen of his chamber, "for this concerneth no ears but mine."

"Surely, please your Majesty," said Balafre, "I have seen this very
evening the groom Charlot, whom my kinsman dispatched from Liege, or
some castle of the Bishop's which is near it, and where he hath lodged
the Ladies of Croye in safety."

"Now Our Lady of Heaven be praised for it!" said the King. "Art thou
sure of it?--sure of the good news?"

"As sure as I can be of aught," said Le Balafre, "the fellow, I think,
hath letters for your Majesty from the Ladies of Croye."

"Haste to get them," said the King. "Give the harquebuss to one of these
knaves--to Oliver--to any one. Now Our Lady of Embrun be praised! and
silver shall be the screen that surrounds her high altar!"

Louis, in this fit of gratitude and devotion, doffed, as usual, his
hat, selected from the figures with which it was garnished that which
represented his favourite image of the Virgin, placed it on a table,
and, kneeling down, repeated reverently the vow he had made.

The groom, being the first messenger whom Durward had despatched from
Schonwaldt, was now introduced with his letters. They were addressed
to the King by the Ladies of Croye, and barely thanked him in very cold
terms for his courtesy while at his Court, and something more warmly
for having permitted them to retire and sent them in safety from his
dominions; expressions at which Louis laughed very heartily, instead
of resenting them. He then demanded of Charlot, with obvious interest,
whether they had not sustained some alarm or attack upon the road?
Charlot, a stupid fellow, and selected for that quality, gave a very
confused account of the affray in which his companion, the Gascon, had
been killed, but knew of no other. Again Louis demanded of him, minutely
and particularly, the route which the party had taken to Liege; and
seemed much interested when he was informed, in reply, that they had,
upon approaching Namur, kept the more direct road to Liege, upon the
right bank of the Maes, instead of the left bank, as recommended
in their route. The King then ordered the man a small present, and
dismissed him, disguising the anxiety he had expressed as if it only
concerned the safety of the Ladies of Croye.

Yet the news, though they implied the failure of one of his own
favourite plans, seemed to imply more internal satisfaction on the
King's part than he would have probably indicated in a case of brilliant
success. He sighed like one whose breast has been relieved from a heavy
burden, muttered his devotional acknowledgments with an air of deep
sanctity, raised up his eyes, and hastened to adjust newer and surer
schemes of ambition.

With such purpose, Louis ordered the attendance of his astrologer,
Martius Galeotti, who appeared with his usual air of assumed dignity,
yet not without a shade of uncertainty on his brow, as if he had doubted
the King's kind reception. It was, however, favourable, even beyond the
warmest which he had ever met with at any former interview. Louis termed
him his friend, his father in the sciences--the glass by which a king
should look into distant futurity--and concluded by thrusting on his
finger a ring of very considerable value. Galeotti, not aware of the
circumstances which had thus suddenly raised his character in the
estimation of Louis, yet understood his own profession too well to let
that ignorance be seen. He received with grave modesty the praises of
Louis, which he contended were only due to the nobleness of the
science which he practised, a science the rather the more deserving of
admiration on account of its working miracles through means of so feeble
an agent as himself; and he and the King took leave, for once much
satisfied with each other.

On the Astrologer's departure, Louis threw himself into a chair,
and appearing much exhausted, dismissed the rest of his attendants,
excepting Oliver alone, who, creeping around with gentle assiduity and
noiseless step, assisted him in the task of preparing for repose.

While he received this assistance, the King, unlike to his wont, was so
silent and passive, that his attendant was struck by the unusual
change in his deportment. The worst minds have often something of
good principle in them--banditti show fidelity to their captain, and
sometimes a protected and promoted favourite has felt a gleam of sincere
interest in the monarch to whom he owed his greatness. Oliver le Diable,
le Mauvais (or by whatever other name he was called expressive of his
evil propensities), was, nevertheless, scarcely so completely identified
with Satan as not to feel some touch of grateful feeling for his master
in this singular condition, when, as it seemed, his fate was deeply
interested and his strength seemed to be exhausted. After for a short
time rendering to the King in silence the usual services paid by a
servant to his master at the toilette, the attendant was at length
tempted to say, with the freedom which his Sovereign's indulgence had
permitted him in such circumstances, "Tete dieu, Sire, you seem as if
you had lost a battle; and yet I, who was near your Majesty during this
whole day, never knew you fight a field so gallantly."

"A field!" said King Louis, looking up, and assuming his wonted
causticity of tone and manner. "Pasques dieu, my friend Oliver, say I
have kept the arena in a bullfight; for a blinder, and more stubborn,
untameable, uncontrollable brute than our cousin of Burgundy never
existed, save in the shape of a Murcian bull, trained for the bull
feasts.--Well, let it pass--I dodged him bravely. But, Oliver, rejoice
with me that my plans in Flanders have not taken effect, whether as
concerning those two rambling Princesses of Croye, or in Liege--you
understand me?"

"In faith, I do not, Sire," replied Oliver; "it is impossible for me
to congratulate your Majesty on the failure of your favourite schemes,
unless you tell me some reason for the change in your own wishes and
views."

"Nay," answered the King, "there is no change in either, in a general
view. But, Pasques dieu, my friend, I have this day learned more of Duke
Charles than I before knew. When he was Count de Charalois, in the time
of the old Duke Philip and the banished Dauphin of France, we drank, and
hunted, and rambled together--and many a wild adventure we have had.
And in those days I had a decided advantage over him--like that which
a strong spirit naturally assumes over a weak one. But he has since
changed--has become a dogged, daring, assuming, disputatious dogmatist,
who nourishes an obvious wish to drive matters to extremities, while
he thinks he has the game in his own hands. I was compelled to glide as
gently away from each offensive topic, as if I touched red hot iron. I
did but hint at the possibility of those erratic Countesses of Croye,
ere they attained Liege (for thither I frankly confessed that, to the
best of my belief, they were gone), falling into the hands of some wild
snapper upon the frontiers, and, Pasques dieu! you would have thought
I had spoken of sacrilege. It is needless to tell you what he said,
and quite enough to say that I would have held my head's safety very
insecure, if, in that moment, accounts had been brought of the success
of thy friend, William with the Beard, in his and thy honest scheme of
bettering himself by marriage."

"No friend of mine, if it please your Majesty," said Oliver, "neither
friend nor plan of mine."

"True, Oliver," answered the King; "thy plan had not been to wed, but
to shave such a bridegroom. Well, thou didst wish her as bad a one, when
thou didst modestly hint at thyself. However, Oliver, lucky the man
who has her not; for hang, draw, and quarter were the most gentle words
which my gentle cousin spoke of him who should wed the young Countess,
his vassal, without his most ducal permission."

"And he is, doubtless, as jealous of any disturbances in the good town
of Liege?" asked the favourite.

"As much, or much more," replied the King, "as your understanding may
easily anticipate; but, ever since I resolved on coming hither, my
messengers have been in Liege to repress, for the present, every
movement to insurrection; and my very busy and bustling friends,
Rousalaer and Pavillon, have orders to be quiet as a mouse until this
happy meeting between my cousin and me is over."

"Judging, then, from your Majesty's account," said Oliver dryly, "the
utmost to be hoped from this meeting is that it should not make your
condition worse--Surely this is like the crane that thrust her head into
the fox's mouth, and was glad to thank her good fortune that it was not
bitten off. Yet your Majesty seemed deeply obliged even now to the sage
philosopher who encouraged you to play so hopeful a game."

"No game," said the King sharply, "is to be despaired of until it is
lost, and that I have no reason to expect it will be in my own case.
On the contrary, if nothing occurs to stir the rage of this vindictive
madman, I am sure of victory; and surely, I am not a little obliged to
the skill which selected for my agent, as the conductor of the Ladies
of Croye, a youth whose horoscope so far corresponded with mine that he
hath saved me from danger, even by the disobedience of my own commands,
and taking the route which avoided De la Marck's ambuscade."

"Your Majesty," said Oliver, "may find many agents who will serve you
on the terms of acting rather after their own pleasure than your
instructions."

"Nay, nay, Oliver," said Louis impatiently, "the heathen poet speaks of
Vota diis exaudita malignis,--wishes, that is, which the saints grant to
us in their wrath; and such, in the circumstances, would have been the
success of William de la Marck's exploit, had it taken place about this
time, and while I am in the power of this Duke of Burgundy.--And this my
own art foresaw--fortified by that of Galeotti--that is, I foresaw not
the miscarriage of De la Marck's undertaking, but I foresaw that the
expedition of yonder Scottish Archer should end happily for me--and such
has been the issue, though in a manner different from what I expected;
for the stars, though they foretell general results, are yet silent on
the means by which such are accomplished, being often the very reverse
of what we expect, or even desire.--But why talk I of these mysteries
to thee, Oliver, who art in so far worse than the very devil, who is thy
namesake, since he believes and trembles; whereas thou art an infidel
both to religion and to science, and wilt remain so till thine own
destiny is accomplished, which as thy horoscope and physiognomy alike
assure me, will be by the intervention of the gallows!"

"And if it indeed shall be so," said Oliver, in a resigned tone of
voice, "it will be so ordered, because I was too grateful a servant to
hesitate at executing the commands of my royal master."

Louis burst into his usual sardonic laugh.--"Thou hast broke thy lance
on me fairly, Oliver; and by Our Lady thou art right, for I defied thee
to it. But, prithee, tell me in sadness, dost thou discover anything in
these measures towards us which may argue any suspicion of ill usage?"

"My Liege," replied Oliver, "your Majesty and yonder learned philosopher
look for augury to the stars and heavenly host--I am an earthly reptile,
and consider but the things connected with my vocation. But methinks
there is a lack of that earnest and precise attention on your Majesty
which men show to a welcome guest of a degree so far above them. The
Duke tonight pleaded weariness, and saw your Majesty not farther than
to the street, leaving to the officers of his household the task
of conveying you to your lodgings. The rooms here are hastily and
carelessly fitted up--the tapestry is hung up awry--and, in one of the
pieces, as you may observe, the figures are reversed and stand on their
heads, while the trees grow with their roots uppermost."

"Pshaw! accident, and the effect of hurry," said the King. "When did you
ever know me concerned about such trifles as these?"

"Not on their own account are they worth notice," said Oliver; "but
as intimating the degree of esteem in which the officers of the Duke's
household observe your Grace to be held by him. Believe me, that, had
his desire seemed sincere that your reception should be in all points
marked by scrupulous attention, the zeal of his people would have made
minutes do the work of days.--And when," he added, pointing to the
basin and ewer, "was the furniture of your Majesty's toilette of other
substance than silver?"

"Nay," said the King, with a constrained smile, "that last remark upon
the shaving utensils, Oliver, is too much in the style of thine own
peculiar occupation to be combated by any one.--True it is, that when I
was only a refugee, and an exile, I was served upon gold plate by order
of the same Charles, who accounted silver too mean for the Dauphin,
though he seems to hold that metal too rich for the King of France.
Well, Oliver, we will to bed.--Our resolution has been made and
executed; there is nothing to be done, but to play manfully the game
on which we have entered. I know that my cousin of Burgundy, like other
wild bulls, shuts his eyes when he begins his career. I have but to
watch that moment, like one of the tauridors [Spanish bull fighters]
whom we saw at Burgos, and his impetuosity places him at my mercy."



CHAPTER XXVII: THE EXPLOSION

     'T is listening fear, and dumb amazement all,
     When to the startled eye, the sudden glance
     Appears far south, eruptive through the cloud.

     THOMSON'S SUMMER


The preceding chapter, agreeably to its title, was designed as a
retrospect which might enable the render fully to understand the terms
upon which the King of France and the Duke of Burgundy stood together,
when the former, moved partly perhaps by his belief in astrology, which
was represented as favourable to the issue of such a measure, and in a
great measure doubtless by the conscious superiority of his own powers
of mind over those of Charles, had adopted the extraordinary, and upon
any other ground altogether inexplicable, resolution of committing his
person to the faith of a fierce and exasperated enemy--a resolution also
the more rash and unaccountable, as there were various examples in that
stormy time to show that safe conducts, however solemnly plighted, had
proved no assurance for those in whose favour they were conceived; and
indeed the murder of the Duke's grandfather at the Bridge of Montereau,
in presence of the father of Louis, and at an interview solemnly
agreed upon for the establishment of peace and amnesty, was a horrible
precedent, should the Duke be disposed to resort to it.

But the temper of Charles, though rough, fierce, headlong, and
unyielding, was not, unless in the full tide of passion, faithless or
ungenerous, faults which usually belong to colder dispositions. He was
at no pains to show the King more courtesy than the laws of hospitality
positively demanded; but, on the other hand, he evinced no purpose of
overleaping their sacred barriers.

On the following morning after the King's arrival, there was a general
muster of the troops of the Duke of Burgundy, which were so numerous
and so excellently appointed, that, perhaps, he was not sorry to have an
opportunity of displaying them before his great rival. Indeed, while he
paid the necessary compliment of a vassal to his Suzerain, in declaring
that these troops were the King's and not his own, the curl of his upper
lip and the proud glance of his eye intimated his consciousness that the
words he used were but empty compliment, and that his fine army at his
own unlimited disposal, was as ready to march against Paris as in any
other direction. It must have added to Louis's mortification that
he recognised, as forming part of this host, many banners of French
nobility, not only of Normandy and Bretagne, but of provinces more
immediately subjected to his own authority, who, from various causes of
discontent, had joined and made common cause with the Duke of Burgundy.

True to his character, however, Louis seemed to take little notice of
these malcontents, while, in fact, he was revolving in his mind the
various means by which it might be possible to detach them from the
banners of Burgundy and bring them back to his own, and resolved for
that purpose that he would cause those to whom he attached the greatest
importance to be secretly sounded by Oliver and other agents.

He himself laboured diligently, but at the same time cautiously, to make
interest with the Duke's chief officers and advisers, employing for
that purpose the usual means of familiar and frequent notice, adroit
flattery, and liberal presents; not, as he represented, to alienate
their faithful services from their noble master, but that they might
lend their aid in preserving peace betwixt France and Burgundy--an end
so excellent in itself, and so obviously tending to the welfare of both
countries and of the reigning Princes of either.

The notice of so great and so wise a King was in itself a mighty bribe;
promises did much, and direct gifts, which the customs of the time
permitted the Burgundian courtiers to accept without scruple, did still
more. During a boar hunt in the forest, while the Duke, eager always
upon the immediate object, whether business or pleasure, gave himself
entirely up to the ardour of the chase, Louis, unrestrained by his
presence, sought and found the means of speaking secretly and separately
to many of those who were reported to have most interest with Charles,
among whom D'Hymbercourt and Comines were not forgotten; nor did he fail
to mix up the advances which he made towards those two distinguished
persons with praises of the valour and military skill of the first, and
of the profound sagacity and literary talents of the future historian of
the period.

Such an opportunity of personally conciliating, or, if the reader
pleases, corrupting the ministers of Charles, was perhaps what the King
had proposed to himself as a principal object of his visit, even if
his art should fail to cajole the Duke himself. The connection betwixt
France and Burgundy was so close that most of the nobles belonging to
the latter country had hopes or actual interests connected with the
former, which the favour of Louis could advance, or his personal
displeasure destroy. Formed for this and every other species of
intrigue, liberal to profusion when it was necessary to advance his
plans, and skilful in putting the most plausible colour upon his
proposals and presents, the King contrived to reconcile the spirit of
the proud to their profit, and to hold out to the real or pretended
patriot the good of both France and Burgundy as the ostensible motive;
whilst the party's own private interest, like the concealed wheel of
some machine, worked not the less powerfully that its operations' were
kept out of sight. For each man he had a suitable bait, and a proper
mode of presenting it; he poured the guerdon into the sleeve of those
who were too proud to extend their hand, and trusted that his bounty,
thought it descended like the dew, without noise and imperceptibly,
would not fail to produce, in due season, a plentiful crop of goodwill
at least, perhaps of good offices, to the donor. In fine, although he
had been long paving the way by his ministers for an establishment of
such an interest in the Court of Burgundy as should be advantageous
to the interests of France, Louis's own personal exertions, directed
doubtless by the information of which he was previously possessed,
did more to accomplish that object in a few hours than his agents had
effected in years of negotiation.

One man alone the King missed, whom he had been particularly desirous
of conciliating, and that was the Count de Crevecoeur, whose firmness,
during his conduct as Envoy at Plessis, far from exciting Louis's
resentment, had been viewed as a reason for making him his own if
possible. He was not particularly gratified when he learnt that the
Count, at the head of an hundred lances, was gone towards the frontiers
of Brabant, to assist the Bishop, in case of necessity, against William
de la Marck and his discontented subjects; but he consoled himself that
the appearance of this force, joined with the directions which he
had sent by faithful messengers, would serve to prevent any premature
disturbances in that country, the breaking out of which might, he
foresaw, render his present situation very precarious.

The Court upon this occasion dined in the forest when the hour of noon
arrived, as was common in those great hunting parties; an arrangement
at this time particularly agreeable to the Duke, desirous as he was to
abridge that ceremonious and deferential solemnity with which he was
otherwise under the necessity of receiving King Louis. In fact, the
King's knowledge of human nature had in one particular misled him on
this remarkable occasion. He thought that the Duke would have been
inexpressibly flattered to have received such a mark of condescension
and confidence from his liege lord; but he forgot that the dependence
of this dukedom upon the Crown of France was privately the subject of
galling mortification to a Prince so powerful, so wealthy, and so proud
as Charles, whose aim it certainly was to establish an independent
kingdom. The presence of the King at the Court of the Duke of Burgundy
imposed on that prince the necessity of exhibiting himself in the
subordinate character of a vassal, and of discharging many rites
of feudal observance and deference, which, to one of his haughty
disposition, resembled derogation from the character of a Sovereign
Prince, which on all occasions he affected as far as possible to
sustain.

But although it was possible to avoid much ceremony by having the dinner
upon the green turf, with sound of bugles, broaching of barrels, and all
the freedom of a sylvan meal, it was necessary that the evening
repast should, even for that very reason, be held with more than usual
solemnity.

Previous orders for this purpose had been given, and, upon returning to
Peronne, King Louis found a banquet prepared with such a profusion
of splendour and magnificence, as became the wealth of his formidable
vassal, possessed as he was of almost all the Low Countries, then the
richest portion of Europe. At the head of the long board, which groaned
under plate of gold and silver, filled to profusion with the most
exquisite dainties, sat the Duke, and on his right hand, upon a seat
more elevated than his own, was placed his royal guest. Behind him stood
on one side the son of the Duke of Gueldres, who officiated as his grand
carver--on the other, Le Glorieux, his jester, without whom he seldom
stirred for, like most men of his hasty and coarse character, Charles
carried to extremity the general taste of that age for court fools and
jesters--experiencing that pleasure in their display of eccentricity
and mental infirmity which his more acute but not more benevolent rival
loved better to extract from marking the imperfections of humanity in
its nobler specimens, and finding subject for mirth in the "fears of the
brave and follies of the wise." And indeed, if the anecdote related by
Brantome be true, that a court fool, having overheard Louis, in one
of his agonies of repentant devotion, confess his accession to the
poisoning of his brother, Henry, Count of Guyenne, divulged it next day
at dinner before the assembled court, that monarch might be supposed
rather more than satisfied with the pleasantries of professed jesters
for the rest of his life.

But, on the present occasion, Louis neglected not to take notice of the
favourite buffoon of the Duke, and to applaud his repartees, which he
did the rather that he thought he saw that the folly of Le Glorieux,
however grossly it was sometimes displayed, covered more than the usual
quantity of shrewd and caustic observation proper to his class.

In fact, Tiel Wetzweiler, called Le Glorieux, was by no means a jester
of the common stamp. He was a tall, fine looking man, excellent at many
exercises, which seemed scarce reconcilable with mental imbecility,
because it must have required patience and attention to attain them.
He usually followed the Duke to the chase and to the fight; and at
Montl'hery, when Charles was in considerable personal danger, wounded
in the throat, and likely to be made prisoner by a French knight who
had hold of his horse's rein, Tiel Wetzweiler charged the assailant so
forcibly as to overthrow him and disengage his master. Perhaps he was
afraid of this being thought too serious a service for a person of his
condition, and that it might excite him enemies among those knights and
nobles who had left the care of their master's person to the court
fool. At any rate, he chose rather to be laughed at than praised for
his achievement; and made such gasconading boasts of his exploits in the
battle, that most men thought the rescue of Charles was as ideal as the
rest of his tale; and it was on this occasion he acquired the title
of Le Glorieux (or the boastful), by which he was ever afterwards
distinguished.

Le Glorieux was dressed very richly, but with little of the usual
distinction of his profession; and that little rather of a symbolical
than a very literal character. His head was not shorn; on the contrary,
he wore a profusion of long curled hair, which descended from under his
cap, and joining with a well arranged and handsomely trimmed beard, set
off features, which, but for a wild lightness of eye, might have been
termed handsome. A ridge of scarlet velvet carried across the top of
his cap indicated, rather than positively represented, the professional
cock's comb, which distinguished the head gear of a fool in right of
office. His bauble, made of ebony, was crested as usual with a fool's
head, with ass's ears formed of silver; but so small, and so minutely
carved, that, till very closely examined, it might have passed for an
official baton of a more solemn character. These were the only badges of
his office which his dress exhibited. In other respects, it was such as
to match with that of the most courtly nobles. His bonnet displayed a
medal of gold, he wore a chain of the same metal around his neck, and
the fashion of his rich garments was not much more fantastic than those
of young gallants who have their clothes made in the extremity of the
existing fashion.

To this personage Charles, and Louis, in imitation of his host, often
addressed themselves during the entertainment; and both seemed to
manifest, by hearty laughter, their amusement at the answers of Le
Glorieux.

"Whose seats be those that are vacant?" said Charles to the jester.

"One of those at least should be mine by right of succession, Charles,"
replied Le Glorieux.

"Why so, knave?" said Charles.

"Because they belong to the Sieur D'Hymbercourt and De Comines, who are
gone so far to fly their falcons, that they have forgot their supper.
They who would rather look at a kite on the wing than a pheasant on the
board, are of kin to the fool, and he should succeed to the stools, as a
part of their movable estate."

"That is but a stale jest, my friend Tiel," said the Duke; "but, fools
or wise men, here come the defaulters."

As he spoke, Comines and D'Hymbercourt entered the room, and, after
having made their reverence to the two Princes, assumed in silence the
seats which were left vacant for them.

"What ho! sirs," exclaimed the Duke, addressing them, "your sport has
been either very good or very bad, to lead you so far and so late. Sir
Philip de Comines, you are dejected--hath D'Hymbercourt won so heavy
a wager on you?--You are a philosopher, and should not grieve at bad
fortune.--By Saint George D'Hymbercourt looks as sad as thou dost.--How
now, sirs? Have you found no game? or have you lost your falcons? or
has a witch crossed your way? or has the Wild Huntsman [the famous
apparition, sometimes called le Grand Veneur. Sully gives some account
of this hunting spectre. S.] met you in the forest? By my honour, you
seem as if you were come to a funeral, not a festival."

While the Duke spoke, the eyes of the company were all directed towards
D'Hymbercourt and De Comines; and the embarrassment and dejection of
their countenances, neither being of that class of persons to whom such
expression of anxious melancholy was natural, became so remarkable, that
the mirth and laughter of the company, which the rapid circulation
of goblets of excellent wine had raised to a considerable height, was
gradually hushed; and, without being able to assign any reason for such
a change in their spirits, men spoke in whispers to each other, as on
the eve of expecting some strange and important tidings.

"What means this silence, Messires?" said the Duke, elevating his voice,
which was naturally harsh. "If you bring these strange looks, and this
stranger silence, into festivity, we shall wish you had abode in the
marshes seeking for herons, or rather for woodcocks and howlets."

"My gracious lord," said De Comines, "as we were about to return hither
from the forest, we met the Count of Crevecoeur--"

"How!" said the Duke, "already returned from Brabant?--but he found all
well there, doubtless?"

"The Count himself will presently give your Grace an account of his
news," said D'Hymbercourt, "which we have heard but imperfectly."

"Body of me, where is the Count?" said the Duke.

"He changes his dress, to wait upon your Highness," answered
D'Hymbercourt.

"His dress? Saint Bleu!" exclaimed the impatient Prince, "what care I
for his dress! I think you have conspired with him to drive me mad."

"Or rather, to be plain," said De Comines, "he wishes to communicate
these news at a private audience."

"Teste dieu! my Lord King," said Charles, "this is ever the way our
counsellors serve us.--If they have got hold of aught which they
consider as important for our ear, they look as grave upon the matter
and are as proud of their burden as an ass of a new pack saddle.--Some
one bid Crevecoeur come to us directly!--He comes from the frontiers of
Liege, and we, at least" (he laid some emphasis on the pronoun), "have
no secrets in that quarter which we would shun to have proclaimed before
the assembled world."

All perceived that the Duke had drunk so much wine as to increase the
native obstinacy of his disposition; and though many would willingly
have suggested that the present was neither a time for hearing news nor
for taking counsel, yet all knew the impetuosity of his temper too well
to venture on farther interference, and sat in anxious expectation of
the tidings which the Count might have to communicate.

A brief interval intervened, during which the Duke remained looking
eagerly to the door, as if in a transport of impatience; whilst the
guests sat with their eyes bent on the table, as if to conceal their
curiosity and anxiety. Louis, alone maintaining perfect composure,
continued his conversation alternately with the grand carver and with
the jester.

At length Crevecoeur entered, and was presently saluted by the
hurried question of his master, "What news from Liege and Brabant, Sir
Count?--the report of your arrival has chased mirth from our table--we
hope your actual presence will bring it back to us."

"My Liege and master," answered the Count in a firm but melancholy tone,
"the news which I bring you are fitter for the council board than the
feasting table."

"Out with them, man, if they were tidings from Antichrist!" said the
Duke; "but I can guess them--the Liegeois are again in mutiny."

"They are, my lord," said Crevecoeur very gravely.

"Look there," said the Duke, "I have hit at once on what you had been
so much afraid to mention to me: the hare brained burghers are again
in arms. It could not be in better time, for we may at present have the
advice of our own Suzerain," bowing to King Louis, with eyes which spoke
the most bitter though suppressed resentment, "to teach us how such
mutineers should be dealt with.--Hast thou more news in thy packet?
Out with them, and then answer for yourself why you went not forward to
assist the Bishop."

"My lord, the farther tidings are heavy for me to tell, and will be
afflicting to you to hear.--No aid of mine, or of living chivalry, could
have availed the excellent Prelate. William de la Marck, united with the
insurgent Liegeois, has taken his Castle of Schonwaldt, and murdered him
in his own hall."

"Murdered him!" repeated the Duke in a deep and low tone, which
nevertheless was heard from the one end of the hall in which they were
assembled to the other, "thou hast been imposed upon, Crevecoeur, by
some wild report--it is impossible!"

"Alas! my lord!" said the Count, "I have it from an eyewitness, an
archer of the King of France's Scottish Guard, who was in the hall when
the murder was committed by William de la Marck's order."

"And who was doubtless aiding and abetting in the horrible sacrilege,"
said the Duke, starting up and stamping with his foot with such fury
that he dashed in pieces the footstool which was placed before him. "Bar
the doors of this hall, gentlemen--secure the windows--let no stranger
stir from his seat, upon pain of instant death!--Gentlemen of my
chamber, draw your swords."

And turning upon Louis, he advanced his own hand slowly and deliberately
to the hilt of his weapon, while the King, without either showing fear
or assuming a defensive posture, only said--"These news, fair cousin,
have staggered your reason."

"No!" replied the Duke, in a terrible tone, "but they have awakened a
just resentment, which I have too long suffered to be stifled by
trivial considerations of circumstance and place. Murderer of
thy brother!--rebel against thy parent--tyrant over thy
subjects!--treacherous ally!--perjured King!--dishonoured
gentleman!--thou art in my power, and I thank God for it."

"Rather thank my folly," said the King; "for when we met on equal terms
at Montl'hery, methinks you wished yourself farther from me than we are
now."

The Duke still held his hand on the hilt of his sword, but refrained
to draw his weapon or to strike a foe who offered no sort of resistance
which could in any wise provoke violence.

Meanwhile, wild and general confusion spread itself through the hall.
The doors were now fastened and guarded by order of the Duke; but
several of the French nobles, few as they were in number, started from
their seats, and prepared for the defence of their Sovereign. Louis had
spoken not a word either to Orleans or Dunois since they were
liberated from restraint at the Castle of Loches, if it could be termed
liberation, to be dragged in King Louis's train, objects of suspicion
evidently, rather than of respect and regard; but, nevertheless, the
voice of Dunois was first heard above the tumult, addressing himself to
the Duke of Burgundy.

"Sir Duke, you have forgotten that you are a vassal of France, and that
we, your guests, are Frenchmen. If you lift a hand against our Monarch,
prepare to sustain the utmost effects of our despair; for, credit me, we
shall feast as high with the blood of Burgundy as we have done with its
wine.--Courage, my Lord of Orleans--and you, gentlemen of France, form
yourselves round Dunois, and do as he does."

It was in that moment when a King might see upon what tempers he could
certainly rely. The few independent nobles and knights who attended
Louis, most of whom had only received from him frowns or discountenance,
unappalled by the display of infinitely superior force, and the
certainty of destruction in case they came to blows, hastened to array
themselves around Dunois, and, led by him, to press towards the head of
the table where the contending Princes were seated.

On the contrary, the tools and agents whom Louis had dragged forward out
of their fitting and natural places into importance which was not due
to them, showed cowardice and cold heart, and, remaining still in their
seats, seemed resolved not to provoke their fate by intermeddling,
whatever might become of their benefactor.

The first of the more generous party was the venerable Lord Crawford,
who, with an agility which no one would have expected at his years,
forced his way through all opposition (which was the less violent, as
many of the Burgundians, either from a point of honour, or a secret
inclination to prevent Louis's impending fate, gave way to him), and
threw himself boldly between the King and the Duke. He then placed his
bonnet, from which his white hair escaped in dishevelled tresses, upon
one side of his head--his pale cheek and withered brow coloured, and his
aged eye lightened with all the fire of a gallant who is about to dare
some desperate action. His cloak was flung over one shoulder, and his
action intimated his readiness to wrap it about his left arm, while he
unsheathed his sword with his right.

"I have fought for his father and his grandsire," that was all he said,
"and by Saint Andrew, end the matter as it will, I will not fail him at
this pinch."

What has taken some time to narrate, happened, in fact, with the speed
of light; for so soon as the Duke assumed his threatening posture,
Crawford had thrown himself betwixt him and the object of his vengeance;
and the French gentlemen, drawing together as fast as they could, were
crowding to the same point.

The Duke of Burgundy still remained with his hand on his sword, and
seemed in the act of giving the signal for a general onset, which
must necessarily have ended in the massacre of the weaker party, when
Crevecoeur rushed forward, and exclaimed in a voice like a trumpet, "My
liege Lord of Burgundy, beware what you do! This is your hall--you are
the King's vassal--do not spill the blood of your guest on your hearth,
the blood of your Sovereign on the throne you have erected for him,
and to which he came under your safeguard. For the sake of your house's
honour, do not attempt to revenge one horrid murder by another yet
worse!"

"Out of my road, Crevecoeur," answered the Duke, "and let my vengeance
pass!--Out of my path! The wrath of kings is to be dreaded like that of
Heaven."

"Only when, like that of Heaven, it is just," answered Crevecoeur
firmly. "Let me pray of you, my lord, to rein the violence of your
temper, however justly offended.--And for you, my Lords of France, where
resistance is unavailing, let me recommend you to forbear whatever may
lead towards bloodshed."

"He is right," said Louis, whose coolness forsook him not in that
dreadful moment, and who easily foresaw that if a brawl should commence,
more violence would be dared and done in the heat of blood than was
likely to be attempted if peace were preserved.

"My cousin Orleans--kind Dunois--and you, my trusty Crawford--bring not
on ruin and bloodshed by taking offence too hastily. Our cousin the Duke
is chafed at the tidings of the death of a near and loving friend,
the venerable Bishop of Liege, whose slaughter we lament as he does.
Ancient, and, unhappily, recent subjects of jealousy lead him to suspect
us of having abetted a crime which our bosom abhors. Should our host
murder us on this spot--us, his King and his kinsman, under a false
impression of our being accessory to this unhappy accident, our fate
will be little lightened, but, on the contrary, greatly aggravated, by
your stirring.--Therefore stand back, Crawford.--Were it my last word, I
speak as a King to his officer, and demand obedience.--Stand back, and,
if it is required, yield up your sword. I command you to do so, and your
oath obliges you to obey."

"True, true, my lord," said Crawford, stepping back, and returning to
the sheath the blade he had half drawn.--"It may be all very true; but,
by my honour, if I were at the head of threescore and ten of my brave
fellows, instead of being loaded with more than the like number of
years, I would try whether I could have some reason out of these fine
gallants, with their golden chains and looped up bonnets, with braw
warld dyes [gaudy colors] and devices on them."

The Duke stood with his eyes fixed on the ground for a considerable
space, and then said, with bitter irony, "Crevecoeur, you say well;
and it concerns our honour that our obligations to this great King, our
honoured and loving guest, be not so hastily adjusted, as in our hasty
anger we had at first proposed. We will so act that all Europe shall
acknowledge the justice of our proceedings.--Gentlemen of France, you
must render up your arms to my officers! Your master has broken the
truce, and has no title to take farther benefit of it. In compassion,
however, to your sentiments of honour, and in respect to the rank which
he hath disgraced, and the race from which he hath degenerated, we ask
not our cousin Louis's sword."

"Not one of us," said Dunois, "will resign our weapon, or quit this
hall, unless we are assured of at least our King's safety, in life and
limb."

"Nor will a man of the Scottish Guard," exclaimed Crawford, "lay
down his arms, save at the command of the King of France, or his High
Constable."

"Brave Dunois," said Louis, "and you, my trusty Crawford, your zeal will
do me injury instead of benefit.--I trust," he added with dignity, "in
my rightful cause, more than in a vain resistance, which would but
cost the lives of my best and bravest. Give up your swords.--The noble
Burgundians, who accept such honourable pledges, will be more able than
you are to protect both you and me.--Give up your swords.--It is I who
command you."

It was thus that, in this dreadful emergency, Louis showed the
promptitude of decision and clearness of judgment which alone could have
saved his life. He was aware that, until actual blows were exchanged, he
should have the assistance of most of the nobles present to moderate the
fury of their Prince; but that, were a melee once commenced, he himself
and his few adherents must be instantly murdered. At the same time, his
worst enemies confessed that his demeanour had in it nothing either of
meanness or cowardice. He shunned to aggravate into frenzy the wrath of
the Duke; but he neither deprecated nor seemed to fear it, and continued
to look on him with the calm and fixed attention with which a brave man
eyes the menacing gestures of a lunatic, whilst conscious that his own
steadiness and composure operate as an insensible and powerful check on
the rage even of insanity.

Crawford, at the King's command, threw his sword to Crevecoeur, saying,
"Take it! and the devil give you joy of it.--It is no dishonour to the
rightful owner who yields it, for we have had no fair play."

"Hold, gentlemen," said the Duke in a broken voice, as one whom passion
had almost deprived of utterance, "retain your swords; it is sufficient
you promise not to use them. And you, Louis of Valois, must regard
yourself as my prisoner, until you are cleared of having abetted
sacrilege and murder. Have him to the Castle.--Have him to Earl
Herbert's Tower. Let him have six gentlemen of his train to attend him,
such as he shall choose.--My Lord of Crawford, your guard must leave
the Castle, and shall be honourably quartered elsewhere. Up with every
drawbridge, and down with every portcullis.--Let the gates of the town
be trebly guarded.--Draw the floating bridge to the right hand side of
the river.--Bring round the Castle my band of Black Walloons [regiments
of Dutch troops, wearing black armour], and treble the sentinels on
every post!--You, D'Hymbercourt, look that patrols of horse and foot
make the round of the town every half hour during the night and every
hour during the next day--if indeed such ward shall be necessary after
daybreak, for it is like we may be sudden in this matter.--Look to the
person of Louis, as you love your life."

He started from the table in fierce and moody haste, darted a glance of
mortal enmity at the King, and rushed out of the apartment.

"Sirs," said the King, looking with dignity around him, "grief for the
death of his ally hath made your Prince frantic. I trust you know better
your duty, as knights and noblemen, than to abet him in his treasonable
violence against the person of his liege Lord."

At this moment was heard in the streets the sound of drums beating, and
horns blowing, to call out the soldiery in every direction.

"We are," said Crevecoeur, who acted as the Marshal of the Duke's
household, "subjects of Burgundy, and must do our duty as such. Our
hopes and prayers, and our efforts, will not be wanting to bring about
peace and union between your Majesty and our liege Lord. Meantime, we
must obey his commands. These other lords and knights will be proud to
contribute to the convenience of the illustrious Duke of Orleans, of
the brave Dunois, and the stout Lord Crawford. I myself must be your
Majesty's chamberlain, and bring you to your apartments in other guise
than would be my desire, remembering the hospitality of Plessis. You
have only to choose your attendants, whom the Duke's commands limit to
six."

"Then," said the King, looking around him, and thinking for a moment--"I
desire the attendance of Oliver le Dain, of a private of my Life Guard
called Balafre, who may be unarmed if you will--of Tristan l'Hermite,
with two of his people--and my right royal and trusty philosopher,
Martius Galeotti."

"Your Majesty's will shall be complied with in all points," said the
Count de Crevecoeur. "Galeotti," he added, after a moment's inquiry,
"is, I understand, at present supping in some buxom company, but he
shall instantly be sent for; the others will obey your Majesty's command
upon the instant."

"Forward, then, to the new abode, which the hospitality of our cousin
provides for us," said the King. "We know it is strong, and have only to
hope it may be in a corresponding degree safe."

"Heard you the choice which King Louis has made of his attendants?" said
Le Glorieux to Count Crevecoeur apart, as they followed Louis from the
hall.

"Surely, my merry gossip," replied the Count. "What hast thou to object
to them?"

"Nothing, nothing--only they are a rare election!--A panderly barber--a
Scottish hired cutthroat--a chief hangman and his two assistants, and
a thieving charlatan.--I will along with you, Crevecoeur, and take
a lesson in the degrees of roguery, from observing your skill in
marshalling them. The devil himself could scarce have summoned such a
synod, or have been a better president amongst them."

Accordingly, the all licensed jester, seizing the Count's arm
familiarly, began to march along with him, while, under a strong guard,
yet forgetting no semblance of respect, he conducted the King towards
his new apartment.

[The historical facts attending this celebrated interview are expounded
and enlarged upon in this chapter. Agents sent by Louis had tempted
the people of Liege to rebel against their superior, Duke Charles, and
persecute and murder their Bishop. But Louis was not prepared for their
acting with such promptitude. They flew to arms with the temerity of a
fickle rabble, took the Bishop prisoner, menaced and insulted him, and
tore to pieces one or two of his canons. This news was sent to the Duke
of Burgundy at the moment when Louis had so unguardedly placed himself
in his power; and the consequence was that Charles placed guards on the
Castle of Peronne, and, deeply resenting the treachery of the king of
France in exciting sedition in his dominions, while he pretended the
most intimate friendship, he deliberated whether he should not put
Louis to death. Three days Louis was detained in this very precarious
situation, and it was only his profuse liberality amongst Charles's
favourites and courtiers which finally ensured him from death or
deposition. Comines, who was the Duke of Burgundy's chamberlain at the
time, and slept in his apartment, says Charles neither undressed nor
slept, but flung himself from time to time on the bed, and, at other
times, wildly traversed the apartment. It was long before his violent
temper became in any degree tractable. At length he only agreed to
give Louis his liberty, on condition of his accompanying him in person
against, and employing his troops in subduing, the mutineers whom
his intrigues had instigated to arms. This was a bitter and degrading
alternative. But Louis, seeing no other mode of compounding for the
effects of his rashness, not only submitted to this discreditable
condition, but swore to it upon a crucifix said to have belonged to
Charlemagne. These particulars are from Comines. There is a succinct
epitome of them in Sir Nathaniel Wraxall's History of France, vol.
i.--S.]



CHAPTER XXVIII: UNCERTAINTY

     Then happy low, lie down;
     Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.

     SECOND PART OF KING HENRY IV.


Forty men at arms, carrying alternately naked swords and blazing
torches, served as the escort, or rather the guard, of King Louis, from
the town hall of Peronne to the Castle; and as he entered within its
darksome and gloomy strength, it seemed as if a voice screamed in his
ear that warning which the Florentine has inscribed over the portal of
the infernal regions, "Leave all hope behind."

[The Florentine (1265-1321): Dante Alighieri, the greatest of Italian
poets. The Divine Comedy, his chief work, describes his passage through
Hell, Purgatory, and Heaven; the inscription here referred to Dante
places at the entrance of Hell.]

At that moment, perhaps, some feeling of remorse might have crossed
the King's mind, had he thought on the hundreds, nay, thousands whom,
without cause, or on light suspicion, he had committed to the abysses
of his dungeons, deprived of all hope of liberty, and loathing even the
life to which they clung by animal instinct.

The broad glare of the torches outfacing the pale moon, which was more
obscured on this than on the former night, and the red smoky light which
they dispersed around the ancient buildings, gave a darker shade to that
huge donjon, called the Earl Herbert's Tower. It was the same that Louis
had viewed with misgiving presentiment on the preceding evening, and
of which he was now doomed to become an inhabitant, under the terror of
what violence soever the wrathful temper of his overgrown vassal might
tempt him to exercise in those secret recesses of despotism.

To aggravate the King's painful feelings, he saw, as he crossed the
courtyard, one or two bodies, over each of which had been hastily flung
a military cloak. He was not long in discerning that they were corpses
of slain Archers of the Scottish Guard, who having disputed, as the
Count Crevecoeur informed him, the command given them to quit the post
near the King's apartments, a brawl had ensued between them and the
Duke's Walloon bodyguards, and before it could be composed by the
officers on either side, several lives had been lost.

"My trusty Scots!" said the King as he looked upon this melancholy
spectacle; "had they brought only man to man, all Flanders, ay, and
Burgundy to boot, had not furnished champions to mate you."

"Yes, an it please your Majesty," said Balafre, who attended close
behind the King, "Maistery mows the meadow [maist, a Scotch form of
most. That is, there is strength in numbers]--few men can fight more
than two at once.--I myself never care to meet three, unless it be in
the way of special duty, when one must not stand to count heads."

"Art thou there, old acquaintance," said the King, looking behind him;
"then I have one true subject with me yet."

"And a faithful minister, whether in your councils, or in his offices
about your royal person," whispered Oliver le Dain.

"We are all faithful," said Tristan l'Hermite gruffly; "for should they
put to death your Majesty, there is not one of us whom they would suffer
to survive you, even if we would."

"Now, that is what I call good corporal bail for fidelity," said Le
Glorieux, who, as already mentioned, with the restlessness proper to an
infirm brain, had thrust himself into their company.

Meanwhile the Seneschal, hastily summoned, was turning with laborious
effort the ponderous key which opened the reluctant gate of the huge
Gothic Keep, and was at last fain to call for the assistance of one of
Crevecoeur's attendants. When they had succeeded, six men entered
with torches, and showed the way through a narrow and winding passage,
commanded at different points by shot holes from vaults and casements
constructed behind, and in the thickness of the massive walls. At the
end of this passage arose a stair of corresponding rudeness, consisting
of huge blocks of stone, roughly dressed with the hammer, and of unequal
height. Having mounted this ascent, a strong iron clenched door admitted
them to what had been the great hall of the donjon, lighted but very
faintly even during the daytime (for the apertures, diminished, in
appearance by the excessive thickness of the walls, resembled slits
rather than windows), and now but for the blaze of the torches, almost
perfectly dark. Two or three bats, and other birds of evil presage,
roused by the unusual glare, flew against the lights, and threatened
to extinguish them; while the Seneschal formally apologized to the King
that the State Hall had not been put in order, such was the hurry of the
notice sent to him, adding that, in truth, the apartment had not been in
use for twenty years, and rarely before that time, so far as ever he had
heard, since the time of King Charles the Simple.

"King Charles the Simple!" echoed Louis; "I know the history of the
Tower now.--He was here murdered by his treacherous vassal, Herbert,
Earl of Vermandois.--So say our annals. I knew there was something
concerning the Castle of Peronne which dwelt on my mind, though I could
not recall the circumstance.--Here, then, my predecessor was slain!"

"Not here, not exactly here, and please your Majesty," said the old
Seneschal, stepping with the eager haste of a cicerone who shows the
curiosities of such a place.

"Not here, but in the side chamber a little onward, which opens from
your Majesty's bedchamber."

He hastily opened a wicket at the upper end of the hall, which led into
a bedchamber, small, as is usual in those old buildings; but, even for
that reason, rather more comfortable than the waste hall through which
they had passed. Some hasty preparations had been here made for the
King's accommodation. Arras had been tacked up, a fire lighted in the
rusty grate, which had been long unused, and a pallet laid down for
those gentlemen who were to pass the night in his chamber, as was then
usual.

"We will get beds in the hall for the rest of your attendants," said the
garrulous old man; "but we have had such brief notice, if it please your
Majesty.--And if it please your Majesty to look upon this little wicket
behind the arras, it opens into the little old cabinet in the thickness
of the wall where Charles was slain; and there is a secret passage
from below, which admitted the men who were to deal with him. And your
Majesty, whose eyesight I hope is better than mine, may see the blood
still on the oak floor, though the thing was done five hundred years
ago."

While he thus spoke, he kept fumbling to open the postern of which he
spoke, until the King said, "Forbear, old man--forbear but a little
while, when thou mayst have a newer tale to tell, and fresher blood to
show.--My Lord of Crevecoeur, what say you?"

"I can but answer, Sire, that these two interior apartments are as much
at your Majesty's disposal as those in your own Castle at Plessis, and
that Crevecoeur, a name never blackened by treachery or assassination,
has the guard of the exterior defences of it."

"But the private passage into that closet, of which the old man speaks?"
This King Louis said in a low and anxious tone, holding Crevecoeur's arm
fast with one hand, and pointing to the wicket door with the other.

"It must be some dream of Mornay's," said Crevecoeur, "or some old and
absurd tradition of the place; but we will examine."

He was about to open the closet door, when Louis answered, "No,
Crevecoeur, no.--Your honour is sufficient warrant.--But what will your
Duke do with me, Crevecoeur? He cannot hope to keep me long a prisoner;
and--in short, give me your opinion, Crevecoeur."

"My Lord, and Sire," said the Count, "how the Duke of Burgundy must
resent this horrible cruelty on the person of his near relative and
ally, is for your Majesty to judge; and what right he may have to
consider it as instigated by your Majesty's emissaries, you only can
know. But my master is noble in his disposition, and made incapable,
even by the very strength of his passions, of any underhand practices.
Whatever he does, will be done in the face of day, and of the two
nations. And I can but add, that it will be the wish of every counsellor
around him--excepting perhaps one--that he should behave in this matter
with mildness and generosity, as well as justice."

"Ah! Crevecoeur," said Louis, taking his hand as if affected by some
painful recollections, "how happy is the Prince who has counsellors near
him, who can guard him against the effects of his own angry passions!
Their names will be read in golden letters, when the history of his
reign is perused.--Noble Crevecoeur, had it been my lot to have such as
thou art about my person!"

"It had in that case been your Majesty's study to have got rid of them
as fast as you could," said Le Glorieux.

"Aha! Sir Wisdom, art thou there?" said Louis, turning round, and
instantly changing the pathetic tone in which he had addressed
Crevecoeur, and adopting with facility one which had a turn of gaiety in
it.--"Hast thou followed us hither?"

"Ay, Sir," answered Le Glorieux, "Wisdom must follow, in motley, where
Folly leads the way in purple."

"How shall I construe that, Sir Solomon?" answered Louis. "Wouldst thou
change conditions with me?"

"Not I, by my halidome," quoth Le Glorieux, "if you would give me fifty
crowns to boot."

"Why, wherefore so?--Methinks I could be well enough contented, as
princes go, to have thee for my king."

"Ay, Sire," replied Le Glorieux, "but the question is, whether, judging
of your Majesty's wit from its having lodged you here, I should not have
cause to be ashamed of having so dull a fool."

"Peace, sirrah!" said the Count of Crevecoeur, "your tongue runs too
fast."

"Let it take its course," said the King, "I know of no such fair subject
of raillery as the follies of those who should know better.--Here, my
sagacious friend, take this purse of gold, and with it the advice never
to be so great a fool as to deem yourself wiser than other people.
Prithee, do me so much favour as to inquire after my astrologer, Martius
Galeotti, and send him hither to me presently."

"I will, without fail, my Liege," answered the jester; "and I wot well I
shall find him at Jan Dopplethur's, for philosophers, as well as fools,
know where the best wine is sold."

"Let me pray for free entrance for this learned person through your
guards, Seignior de Crevecoeur," said Louis.

"For his entrance, unquestionably," answered the Count; "but it grieves
me to add that my instructions do not authorize me to permit any one to
quit your Majesty's apartments.--I wish your Majesty a goodnight," he
subjoined, "and will presently make such arrangements in the outer hall,
as may put the gentlemen who are to inhabit it more at their ease."

"Give yourself no trouble for them, Sir Count," replied the King, "they
are men accustomed to set hardships at defiance; and, to speak truth,
excepting that I wish to see Galeotti, I would desire as little farther
communication from without this night as may be consistent with your
instructions."

"These are, to leave your Majesty," replied Crevecoeur, "undisputed
possession of your own apartments. Such are my master's orders."

"Your Master, Count," answered Louis, "whom I may also term mine, is a
right gracious master.--My dominions," he added, "are somewhat shrunk
in compass, now that they have dwindled to an old hall and a bedchamber,
but they are still wide enough for all the subjects which I can at
present boast of."

The Count of Crevecoeur took his leave, and shortly after, they could
hear the noise of the sentinels moving to their posts, accompanied with
the word of command from the officers, and the hasty tread of the guards
who were relieved. At length all became still, and the only sound which
filled the air was the sluggish murmur of the river Somme, as it glided,
deep and muddy, under the walls of the castle.

"Go into the hall, my mates," said Louis to his train; "but do not
lie down to sleep. Hold yourselves in readiness, for there is still
something to be done tonight, and that of moment."

Oliver and Tristan retired to the hall, accordingly, in which Le
Balafre and the two officers had remained, when the others entered the
bedchamber. They found that those without had thrown fagots enough upon
the fire to serve the purpose of light and heat at the same time, and,
wrapping themselves in their cloaks, had sat down on the floor, in
postures which variously expressed the discomposure and dejection of
their minds. Oliver and Tristan saw nothing better to be done than to
follow their example and, never very good friends in the days of their
court prosperity, they were both equally reluctant to repose confidence
in each other upon this strange and sudden reverse of fortune. So the
whole party sat in silent dejection.

Meanwhile their master underwent, in the retirement of his secret
chamber, agonies that might have atoned for some of those which had been
imposed by his command. He paced the room with short and unequal steps,
often stood still and clasped his hands together, and gave loose,
in short, to agitation, which in public he had found himself able to
suppress so successfully. At length, pausing and wringing his hands, he
planted himself opposite to the wicket door, which had been pointed
out by old Mornay as leading to the scene of the murder of one of his
predecessors, and gradually gave voice to his feelings in a broken
soliloquy.

"Charles the Simple--Charles the Simple!--what will posterity call the
Eleventh Louis, whose blood will probably soon refresh the stains of
thine! Louis the Fool--Louis the Driveller--Louis the Infatuated--are
all terms too slight to mark the extremity of my idiocy! To think these
hot headed Liegeois, to whom rebellion is as natural as their food,
would remain quiet--to dream that the Wild Beast of Ardennes would for
a moment be interrupted in his career of force and bloodthirsty
brutality--to suppose that I could use reason and arguments to any good
purpose with Charles of Burgundy, until I had tried the force of such
exhortations with success upon a wild bull. Fool, and double idiot that
I was! But the villain Martius shall not escape.--He has been at the
bottom of this, he and the vile priest, the detestable Balue. If I ever
get out of this danger, I will tear from his head the Cardinal's cap,
though I pull the scalp along with it! But the other traitor is in my
hands--I am yet King enough--have yet an empire roomy enough--for
the punishment of the quack salving, word mongering, star gazing, lie
coining impostor, who has at once made a prisoner and a dupe of me!--The
conjunction of the constellations--ay, the conjunction.--He must talk
nonsense which would scarce gull a thrice sodden sheep's head, and
I must be idiot enough to think I understand him! But we shall see
presently what the conjunction hath really boded. But first let me to my
devotions."

[Louis kept his promise of vengeance against Cardinal La Balue, whom he
always blamed as having betrayed him to Burgundy. After he had returned
to his own kingdom, he caused his late favourite to be immured in one
of the iron cages at Loches. These were constructed with horrible
ingenuity, so that a person of ordinary size could neither stand up at
his full height, nor lie lengthwise in them. Some ascribe this horrid
device to Balue himself. At any rate, he was confined in one of these
dens for eleven years, nor did Louis permit him to be liberated till his
last illness. S.]

Above the little door, in memory perhaps of the deed which had been done
within, was a rude niche, containing a crucifix cut in stone. Upon this
emblem the King fixed his eyes, as if about to kneel, but stopped short,
as if he applied to the blessed image the principles of worldly policy,
and deemed it rash to approach its presence without having secured the
private intercession of some supposed favourite. He therefore turned
from the crucifix as unworthy to look upon it, and selecting from the
images with which, as often mentioned, his hat was completely garnished,
a representation of the Lady of Clery, knelt down before it, and made
the following extraordinary prayer; in which, it is to be observed, the
grossness of his superstition induced him, in some degree, to consider
the Virgin of Clery as a different person from the Madonna of Embrun, a
favourite idol, to whom he often paid his vows.

"Sweet Lady of Clery," he exclaimed, clasping his hands and beating his
breast while he spoke, "blessed Mother of Mercy! thou who art omnipotent
with Omnipotence, have compassion with me, a sinner! It is true, that I
have something neglected thee for thy blessed sister of Embrun; but I am
a King, my power is great, my wealth boundless; and, were it otherwise,
I would double the gabelle on my subjects, rather than not pay my debts
to you both. Undo these iron doors--fill up these tremendous moats--lead
me, as a mother leads a child, out of this present and pressing danger!
If I have given thy sister the county of Boulogne, to be held of her for
ever, have I no means of showing devotion to thee also? Thou shalt have
the broad and rich province of Champagne, and its vineyards shall pour
their abundance into thy convent. I had promised the province to my
brother Charles; but he, thou knowest, is dead--poisoned by that wicked
Abbe of Saint John d'Angely, whom, if I live, I will punish!--I promised
this once before, but this time I will keep my word.--If I had any
knowledge of the crime, believe, dearest patroness, it was because I
knew no better method of quieting the discontents of my kingdom. Oh, do
not reckon that old debt to my account today; but be, as thou hast ever
been, kind, benignant, and easy to be entreated! Sweetest Lady, work
with thy child, that he will pardon all past sins, and one--one little
deed which I must do this night--nay, it is no sin, dearest Lady of
Clery--no sin, but an act of justice privately administered, for the
villain is the greatest impostor that ever poured falsehood into a
Prince's ear, and leans besides to the filthy heresy of the Greeks. He
is not deserving of thy protection, leave him to my care; and hold it as
good service that I rid the world of him, for the man is a necromancer
and wizard, that is not worth thy thought and care--a dog, the
extinction of whose life ought to be of as little consequence in thine
eyes as the treading out a spark that drops from a lamp, or springs from
a fire. Think not of this little matter, gentlest, kindest Lady, but
only consider how thou canst best aid me in my troubles! and I here,
bind my royal signet to thy effigy, in token that I will keep word
concerning the county of Champagne, and that this shall be the last time
I will trouble thee in affairs of blood, knowing thou art so kind, so
gentle, and so tender hearted."

[As overheard and reported by the court jester this historic prayer
reads as follows: "Ah, my good Lady, my gentle mistress, my only friend,
in whom alone I have resource, I pray you to supplicate God in my
behalf, and to be my advocate with him that he may pardon me the death
of my brother whom I caused to be poisoned by that wicked Abbot of Saint
John. I confess my guilt to thee as to my good patroness and mistress.
But then what could I do? he was perpetually causing disorder in my
kingdom. Cause me then to be pardoned, my good Lady, and I know what a
reward I will give thee."]

After this extraordinary contract with the object of his adoration,
Louis recited, apparently with deep devotion, the seven penitential
psalms [the 6th, 32d, 38th, 51st, 102d, 130th, and 143d, so called from
their penitential character] in Latin, and several aves and prayers
especially belonging to the service of the Virgin. He then arose,
satisfied that he had secured the intercession of the Saint to whom he
had prayed, the rather, as he craftily reflected, that most of the sins
for which he had requested her mediation on former occasions had been of
a different character, and that, therefore, the Lady of Clery was less
likely to consider him as a hardened and habitual shedder of blood than
the other saints whom he had more frequently made confidants of his
crimes in that respect.

When he had thus cleared his conscience, or rather whited it over like
a sepulchre, the King thrust his head out at the door of the hall, and
summoned Le Balafre into his apartment. "My good soldier," he said,
"thou hast served me long, and hast had little promotion. We are here in
a case where I may either live or die; but I would not willingly die an
ungrateful man, or leave, so far as the Saints may place it in my power,
either a friend or an enemy unrecompensed. Now I have a friend to be
rewarded, that is thyself--an enemy to be punished according to his
deserts, and that is the base, treacherous villain; Martius Galeotti,
who, by his impostures and specious falsehoods, has trained me hither
into the power of my mortal enemy, with as firm a purpose of my
destruction as ever butcher had of slaying the beast which he drove to
the shambles."

"I will challenge him on that quarrel, since they say he is a fighting
blade, though he looks somewhat unwieldy," said Le Balafre. "I doubt not
but the Duke of Burgundy is so much a friend to men of the sword that
he will allow us a fair field within some reasonable space, and if your
Majesty live so long, and enjoy so much freedom, you shall behold me do
battle in your right, and take as proper a vengeance on this philosopher
as your heart could desire."

"I commend your bravery and your devotion to my service," said the King.
"But this treacherous villain is a stout man at arms, and I would not
willingly risk thy life, my brave soldier."

"I were no brave soldier, if it please your Majesty," said Balafre, "if
I dared not face a better man than he. A fine thing it would be for me,
who can neither read nor write, to be afraid of a fat lurdane, who has
done little else all his Life!"

"Nevertheless," said the King, "it is not our pleasure so to put thee in
venture, Balafre. This traitor comes hither, summoned by our command. We
would have thee, so soon as thou canst find occasion, close up with him,
and smite him under the fifth rib.--Dost thou understand me?"

"Truly I do," answered Le Balafre, "but, if it please your Majesty, this
is a matter entirely out of my course of practice. I could not kill you
a dog unless it were in hot assault, or pursuit, or upon defiance given,
or such like."

"Why, sure, thou dost not pretend to tenderness of heart," said the
King; "thou who hast been first in storm and siege, and most eager, as
men tell me, on the pleasures and advantages which are gained on such
occasions by the rough heart and the bloody hand?"

"My lord," answered Le Balafre, "I have neither feared nor spared your
enemies, sword in hand. And an assault is a desperate matter, under
risks which raise a man's blood so that, by Saint Andrew, it will not
settle for an hour or two--which I call a fair license for plundering
after a storm. And God pity us poor soldiers, who are first driven mad
with danger, and then madder with victory. I have heard of a legion
consisting entirely of saints; and methinks it would take them all to
pray and intercede for the rest of the army, and for all who wear
plumes and corselets, buff coats and broadswords. But what your Majesty
purposes is out of my course of practice, though I will never deny that
it has been wide enough. As for the Astrologer, if he be a traitor, let
him e'en die a traitor's death--I will neither meddle nor make with it.
Your Majesty has your Provost and two of his Marshals men without, who
are more fit for dealing with him than a Scottish gentleman of my family
and standing in the service."

"You say well," said the King; "but, at least, it belongs to thy duty
to prevent interruption, and to guard the execution of my most just
sentence."

"I will do so against all Peronne," said Le Balafre. "Your Majesty need
not doubt my fealty in that which I can reconcile to my conscience,
which, for mine own convenience and the service of your royal Majesty,
I can vouch to be a pretty large one--at least, I know I have done some
deeds for your Majesty, which I would rather have eaten a handful of my
own dagger than I would have done for any one else."

"Let that rest," said the King, "and hear you--when Galeotti is
admitted, and the door shut on him, do you stand to your weapon,
and guard the entrance on the inside of the apartment. Let no one
intrude--that is all I require of you. Go hence, and send the Provost
Marshal to me."

Balafre left the apartment accordingly, and in a minute afterwards
Tristan l'Hermite entered from the hall.

"Welcome, gossip," said the King; "what thinkest thou of our situation?"

"As of men sentenced to death," said the Provost Marshal, "unless there
come a reprieve from the Duke."'

"Reprieved or not, he that decoyed us into this snare shalt go our
fourrier to the next world, to take up lodgings for us," said the King,
with a grisly and ferocious smile. "Tristan, thou hast done many an
act of brave justice--finis--I should have said funis coronat opus [the
end--I should have said the rope--crowns the work]--thou must stand by
me to the end."

"I will, my Liege," said Tristan, "I am but a plain fellow, but I am
grateful. I will do my duty within these walls, or elsewhere; and
while I live, your Majesty's breath shall pour as potential a note of
condemnation, and your sentence be as literally executed, as when you
sat on your own throne. They may deal with me the next hour for it if
they will--I care not."

"It is even what I expected of thee, my loving gossip," said Louis; "but
hast thou good assistance?--The traitor is strong and able bodied, and
will doubtless be clamorous for aid. The Scot will do naught but keep
the door, and well that he can be brought to that by flattery and
humouring. Then Oliver is good for nothing but lying, flattering, and
suggesting dangerous counsels; and, Ventre Saint Dieu! I think is more
like one day to deserve the halter himself than to use it to another.
Have you men, think you, and means, to make sharp and sure work?"

"I have Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre with me," said he, "men so
expert in their office that, out of three men, they would hang up one
ere his two companions were aware. And we have all resolved to live or
die with your Majesty, knowing we shall have as short breath to draw
when you are gone, as ever fell to the lot of any of our patients.--But
what is to be our present subject, an it please your Majesty? I love to
be sure of my man; for, as your Majesty is pleased sometimes to remind
me, I have now and then mistaken the criminal, and strung up in his
place an honest labourer, who had given your Majesty no offence."

"Most true," said the other. "Know then, Tristan, that the condemned
person is Martius Galeotti.--You start, but it is even as I say.
The villain hath trained us all hither by false and treacherous
representations, that he might put us into the hands of the Duke of
Burgundy without defence."

"But not without vengeance!" said Tristan, "were it the last act of my
life, I would sting him home like an expiring wasp, should I be crushed
to pieces on the next instant!"

"I know thy trusty spirit," said the King, "and the pleasure which,
like other good men, thou dost find in the discharge of thy duty, since
virtue, as the schoolmen say, is its own reward. But away and prepare
the priests, for the victim approaches."

"Would you have it done in your own presence, my gracious Liege?" said
Tristan.

Louis declined this offer; but charged the Provost Marshal to have
everything ready for the punctual execution of his commands the moment
the Astrologer left his apartment.

"For," said the King, "I will see the villain once more, just to observe
how he bears himself towards the master whom he has led into the toils.
I shall love to see the sense of approaching death strike the colour
from that ruddy cheek, and dim that eye which laughed as it lied.--Oh,
that there were but another with him, whose counsels aided his
prognostications! But if I survive this--look to your scarlet, my Lord
Cardinal! for Rome shall scarce protect you--be it spoken under
favour of Saint Peter and the blessed Lady of Clery, who is all over
mercy.--Why do you tarry? Go get your rooms ready. I expect the villain
instantly. I pray to Heaven he take not fear and come not!--that were
indeed a balk.--Begone, Tristan--thou wert not wont to be so slow when
business was to be done."

"On the contrary, an it like your Majesty, you were ever wont to say
that I was too fast, and mistook your purpose, and did the job on the
wrong subject. Now, please your Majesty to give me a sign, just when you
part with Galeotti for the night, whether the business goes on or no. I
have known your Majesty once or twice change your mind, and blame me for
over dispatch."

[The Provost Marshal was often so precipitate in execution as to slay
another person instead of him whom the King had indicated. This always
occasioned a double execution, for the wrath or revenge of Louis was
never satisfied with a vicarious punishment. S.]

"Thou suspicious creature," answered King Louis, "I tell thee I will not
change my mind--but to silence thy remonstrances, observe, if I say
to the knave at parting, 'There is a Heaven above us!' then let the
business go on; but if I say 'Go in peace,' you will understand that my
purpose is altered."

"My head is somewhat of the dullest out of my own department," said
Tristan l'Hermite. "Stay, let me rehearse.--If you bid him depart in
peace, I am to have him dealt upon?"

"No, no--idiot, no," said the King, "in that case, you let him pass
free. But if I say, 'There is a heaven above us,' up with him a yard or
two nearer the planets he is so conversant with."

"I wish we may have the means here," said the Provost.

"Then up with him, or down with him, it matters not which," answered the
King, grimly smiling.

"And the body," said the Provost, "how shall we dispose of it?"

"Let me see an instant," said the King--"the windows of the hall are too
narrow; but that projecting oriel is wide enough. We will over with him
into the Somme, and put a paper on his breast, with the legend, 'Let the
justice of the King pass toll free.' The Duke's officers may seize it
for duties if they dare."

The Provost Marshal left the apartment of Louis, and summoned his two
assistants to council in an embrasure in the great hall, where Trois
Eschelles stuck a torch against the wall to give them light. They
discoursed in whispers, little noticed by Oliver le Dain, who seemed
sunk in dejection, and Le Balafre, who was fast asleep.

"Comrades," said the Provost to his executioners, "perhaps you have
thought that our vocation was over, or that, at least, we were more
likely to be the subjects of the duty of others than to have any more to
discharge on our own parts. But courage, my mates! Our gracious master
has reserved for us one noble cast of our office, and it must be
gallantly executed, as by men who would live in history."

"Ay, I guess how it is," said Trois Eschelles; "our patron is like the
old Kaisers of Rome, who, when things came to an extremity, or, as we
would say, to the ladder foot with them, were wont to select from their
own ministers of justice some experienced person, who might spare their
sacred persons from the awkward attempts of a novice, or blunderer
in our mystery. It was a pretty custom for Ethnics; but, as a good
Catholic, I should make some scruple at laying hands on the Most
Christian King."

"Nay, but, brother, you are ever too scrupulous," said Petit Andre. "If
he issues word and warrant for his own execution, I see not how we
can in duty dispute it. He that dwells at Rome must obey the Pope--the
Marshalsmen, must do their master's bidding, and he the King's."

"Hush, you knaves!" said the Provost Marshal, "there is here no purpose
concerning the King's person, but only that of the Greek heretic pagan
and Mahomedan wizard, Martius Galeotti."

"Galeotti!" answered Petit-Andre, "that comes quite natural. I never
knew one of these legerdemain fellows, who pass their lives, as one may
say, in dancing upon a tight rope, but what they came at length to caper
at the end of one--tchick."

"My only concern is," said Trois Eschelles, looking upwards, "that the
poor creature must die without confession."

"Tush! tush!" said the Provost Marshal, in reply, "he is a rank heretic
and necromancer--a whole college of priests could not absolve him from
the doom he has deserved. Besides, if he hath a fancy that way, thou
hast a gift, Trois Eschelles, to serve him for ghostly father thyself.
But, what is more material, I fear you most use your poniards, my mates;
for you have not here the fitting conveniences for the exercise of your
profession."

"Now our Lady of the Isle of Paris forbid," said Trois Eschelles, "that
the King's command should find me destitute of my tools! I always wear
around my body Saint Francis's cord, doubled four times, with a handsome
loop at the farther end of it; for I am of the company of Saint Francis,
and may wear his cowl when I am in extremis [at the point of death]--I
thank God and the good fathers of Saumur."

"And for me," said Petit Andre, "I have always in my budget a handy
block and sheaf, or a pulley as they call it, with a strong screw for
securing it where I list, in case we should travel where trees are
scarce, or high branched from the ground. I have found it a great
convenience."

"That will suit us well," said the Provost Marshal. "You have but to
screw your pulley into yonder beam above the door, and pass the rope
over it. I will keep the fellow in some conversation near the spot until
you adjust the noose under his chin, and then--"

"And then we run up the rope," said Petit Andre, "and, tchick, our
Astrologer is so far in Heaven that he hath not a foot on earth."

"But these gentlemen," said Trois Eschelles, looking towards the
chimney, "do not these help, and so take a handsel of our vocation?"

"Hem! no," answered the Provost, "the barber only contrives mischief,
which he leaves other men to execute; and for the Scot, he keeps the
door when the deed is a-doing, which he hath not spirit or quickness
sufficient to partake in more actively--every one to his trade."

[The author has endeavoured to give to the odious Tristan l'Hermite
a species of dogged and brutal fidelity to Louis, similar to the
attachment of a bulldog to his master. With all the atrocity of his
execrable character, he was certainly a man of courage, and was in his
youth made knight in the breach of Fronsac, with a great number of
other young nobles, by the honour giving hand of the elder Dunois, the
celebrated hero of Charles the Fifth's reign. S.]

With infinite dexterity, and even a sort of professional delight which
sweetened the sense of their own precarious situation, the worthy
executioners of the Provost's mandates adapted their rope and pulley for
putting in force the sentence which had been uttered against Galeotti by
the captive Monarch--seeming to rejoice that that last action was to be
one so consistent with their past lives. Tristan l'Hermite sat eyeing
their proceedings with a species of satisfaction; while Oliver paid no
attention to them whatever; and Ludovic Lesly, if, awaked by the bustle,
he looked upon them at all, considered them as engaged in matters
entirely unconnected with his own duty, and for which he was not to be
regarded as responsible in one way or other.



CHAPTER XXIX: RECRIMINATION

     Thy time is not yet out--the devil thou servest
     Has not as yet deserted thee. He aids
     The friends who drudge for him, as the blind man
     Was aided by the guide, who lent his shoulder
     O'er rough and smooth, until he reached the brink
     Of the fell precipice--then hurl'd him downward.

     OLD PLAY


When obeying the command, or rather the request of Louis--for he was
in circumstances in which, though a monarch, he could only request Le
Glorieux to go in search of Martius Galeotti--the jester had no trouble
in executing his commission, betaking himself at once to the best tavern
in Peronne, of which he himself was rather more than an occasional
frequenter, being a great admirer of that species of liquor which
reduced all other men's brains to a level with his own.

He found, or rather observed, the Astrologer in the corner of the public
drinking room--stove, as it is called in German and Flemish, from
its principal furniture--sitting in close colloquy with a female in
a singular and something like a Moorish or Asiatic garb, who, as Le
Glorieux approached Martius, rose as in the act to depart.

"These," said the stranger, "are news upon which you may rely with
absolute certainty," and with that disappeared among the crowd of guests
who sat grouped at different tables in the apartment.

"Cousin Philosopher," said the jester, presenting himself, "Heaven no
sooner relieves one sentinel than it sends another to supply the place.
One fool being gone, here I come another, to guide you to the apartments
of Louis of France."

"And art thou the messenger?" said Martius, gazing on him with prompt
apprehension, and discovering at once the jester's quality, though less
intimated, as we have before noticed, than was usual, by his external
appearance.

"Ay, sir, and like your learning," answered Le Glorieux. "When Power
sends Folly to entreat the approach of Wisdom, 't is a sure sign what
foot the patient halts upon."

"How if I refuse to come, when summoned at so late an hour by such a
messenger?" said Galeotti.

"In that case, we will consult your ease, and carry you," said Le
Glorieux. "Here are half a score of stout Burgundian yeomen at the door,
with whom He of Crevecoeur has furnished me to that effect. For know
that my friend Charles of Burgundy and I have not taken away our kinsman
Louis's crown, which he was ass enough to put into our power, but have
only filed and clipt it a little, and, though reduced to the size of a
spangle, it is still pure gold. In plain terms, he is still paramount
over his own people, yourself included, and Most Christian King of the
old dining hall in the Castle of Peronne, to which you, as his liege
subject, are presently obliged to repair."

"I attend you, sir," said Martius Galeotti, and accompanied Le Glorieux
accordingly--seeing, perhaps, that no evasion was possible.

"Ay, sir," said the Fool, as they went towards the Castle, "you do well;
for we treat our kinsman as men use an old famished lion in his cage,
and thrust him now and then a calf to mumble, to keep his old jaws in
exercise."

"Do you mean," said Martius, "that the King intends me bodily injury?"

"Nay, that you can guess better than I," said the jester; "for though
the night be cloudy, I warrant you can see the stars through the mist.
I know nothing of the matter, not I--only my mother always told me to go
warily near an old rat in a trap, for he was never so much disposed to
bite."

The Astrologer asked no more questions, and Le Glorieux, according to
the custom of those of his class, continued to run on in a wild and
disordered strain of sarcasm and folly mingled together, until he
delivered the philosopher to the guard at the Castle gate of Peronne,
where he was passed from warder to warder, and at length admitted within
Herbert's Tower.

The hints of the jester had not been lost on Martius Galeotti, and he
saw something which seemed to confirm them in the look and manner of
Tristan, whose mode of addressing him, as he marshalled him to the
King's bedchamber, was lowering, sullen, and ominous. A close observer
of what passed on earth, as well as among the heavenly bodies, the
pulley and the rope also caught the Astrologer's eye; and as the latter
was in a state of vibration he concluded that some one who had been busy
adjusting it had been interrupted in the work by his sudden arrival. All
this he saw, and summoned together his subtilty to evade the impending
danger, resolved, should he find that impossible, to defend himself to
the last against whomsoever should assail him.

Thus resolved, and with a step and look corresponding to the
determination he had taken, Martius presented himself before Louis,
alike unabashed at the miscarriage of his predictions, and undismayed at
the Monarch's anger, and its probable consequences.

"Every good planet be gracious to your Majesty!" said Galeotti, with
an inclination almost Oriental in manner. "Every evil constellation
withhold its influence from my royal master!"

"Methinks," replied the King, "that when you look around this apartment,
when you think where it is situated, and how guarded, your wisdom might
consider that my propitious stars had proved faithless and that each
evil conjunction had already done its worst. Art thou not ashamed,
Martius Galeotti, to see me here and a prisoner, when you recollect by
what assurances I was lured hither?"

"And art thou not ashamed, my royal Sire?" replied the philosopher,
"thou, whose step in science was so forward, thy apprehension so quick,
thy perseverance so unceasing--art thou not ashamed to turn from the
first frown of fortune, like a craven from the first clash of arms?
Didst thou propose to become participant of those mysteries which raise
men above the passions, the mischances, the pains, the sorrows of life,
a state only to be attained by rivalling the firmness of the ancient
Stoic, and dost thou shrink from the first pressure of adversity, and
forfeit the glorious prize for which thou didst start as a competitor,
frightened out of the course, like a scared racer, by shadowy and unreal
evils?"

"Shadowy and unreal! frontless as thou art!" exclaimed the King. "Is
this dungeon unreal?--the weapons of the guards of my detested enemy
Burgundy, which you may hear clash at the gate, are those shadows? What,
traitor, are real evils, if imprisonment, dethronement, and danger of
life are not so?"

"Ignorance--ignorance, my brother, and prejudice," answered the sage,
with great firmness, "are the only real evils. Believe me that Kings in
the plenitude of power, if immersed in ignorance and prejudice, are less
free than sages in a dungeon, and loaded with material chains. Towards
this true happiness it is mine to guide you--be it yours to attend to my
instructions."

"And it is to such philosophical freedom that your lessons would have
guided me?" said the King very bitterly. "I would you had told me at
Plessis that the dominion promised me so liberally was an empire over
my own passions; that the success of which I was assured, related to my
progress in philosophy, and that I might become as wise and as learned
as a strolling mountebank of Italy! I might surely have attained this
mental ascendency at a more moderate price than that of forfeiting
the fairest crown in Christendom, and becoming tenant of a dungeon in
Peronne! Go, sir, and think not to escape condign punishment.--There is
a Heaven above us!"

"I leave you not to your fate," replied Martius, "until I have
vindicated, even in your eyes, darkened as they are, that reputation,
a brighter gem than the brightest in thy crown, and at which the world
shall wonder, ages after all the race of Capet [the surname of the kings
of France, beginning with Hugh Capet, 987] are mouldered into oblivion
in the charnels of Saint Denis."

"Speak on," said Louis. "Thine impudence cannot make me change my
purposes or my opinion.--Yet as I may never again pass judgment as a
King, I will not censure thee unheard. Speak, then--though the best thou
canst say will be to speak the truth. Confess that I am a dupe, thou
an impostor, thy pretended science a dream, and the planets which shine
above us as little influential of our destiny as their shadows, when
reflected in the river, are capable of altering its course."

"And how know'st thou," answered the Astrologer boldly, "the secret
influence of yonder blessed lights? Speak'st thou of their inability to
influence waters, when yet thou know'st that ever the weakest, the moon
herself--weakest because nearest to this wretched earth of ours--holds
under her domination not such poor streams as the Somme, but the tides
of the mighty ocean itself, which ebb and increase as her disc waxes and
wanes, and watch her influence as a slave waits the nod of a Sultana?
And now, Louis of Valois, answer my parable in turn.--Confess, art thou
not like the foolish passenger, who becomes wroth with his pilot
because he cannot bring the vessel into harbour without experiencing
occasionally the adverse force of winds and currents? I could indeed
point to thee the probable issue of thine enterprise as prosperous, but
it was in the power of Heaven alone to conduct thee thither; and if the
path be rough and dangerous, was it in my power to smooth or render it
more safe? Where is thy wisdom of yesterday, which taught thee so truly
to discern that the ways of destiny are often ruled to our advantage,
though in opposition to our wishes?"

"You remind me--you remind me," said the King hastily, "of one specific
falsehood. You foretold yonder Scot should accomplish his enterprise
fortunately for my interest and honour; and thou knowest it has so
terminated that no more mortal injury could I have received than from
the impression which the issue of that affair is like to make on
the excited brain of the Mad Bull of Burgundy. This is a direct
falsehood.--Thou canst plead no evasion here--canst refer to no remote
favourable turn of the tide, for which, like an idiot sitting on
the bank until the river shall pass away, thou wouldst have me wait
contentedly.--Here thy craft deceived thee.--Thou wert weak enough to
make a specific prediction, which has proved directly false."

"Which will prove most firm and true," answered the Astrologer boldly.
"I would desire no greater triumph of art over ignorance, than that
prediction and its accomplishment will afford.--I told thee he would
be faithful in any honourable commission.--Hath he not been so?--I told
thee he would be scrupulous in aiding any evil enterprise.--Hath he not
proved so?--If you doubt it, go ask the Bohemian, Hayraddin Maugrabin."

The King here coloured deeply with shame and anger.

"I told thee," continued the Astrologer, "that the conjunction of
planets under which he set forth augured danger to the person--and
hath not his path been beset by danger?--I told thee that it augured an
advantage to the sender--and of that thou wilt soon have the benefit."

"Soon have the benefit!" exclaimed the King. "Have I not the result
already, in disgrace and imprisonment?"

"No," answered the Astrologer, "the End is not as yet--thine own tongue
shall ere long confess the benefit which thou hast received, from
the manner in which the messenger bore himself in discharging thy
commission."

"This is too--too insolent," said the King, "at once to deceive and to
insult.--But hence!--think not my wrongs shall be unavenged.--There is a
Heaven above us!"

Galeotti turned to depart.

"Yet stop," said Louis; "thou bearest thine imposture bravely out.--Let
me hear your answer to one question and think ere you speak.--Can thy
pretended skill ascertain the hour of thine own death?"

"Only by referring to the fate of another," said Galeotti.

"I understand not thine answer," said Louis.

"Know then, O King," said Martius, "that this only I can tell with
certainty concerning mine own death, that it shall take place exactly
twenty-four hours before that of your Majesty."

[This story appropriated by Scott was told of Tiberius, whose soothsayer
made the prediction that his own death would take place three days
before that of the Emperor. Louis received a similar reply from a
soothsayer, who had foretold the death of one of his favourites. Greatly
incensed, he arranged for the death of the soothsayer when he should
leave the royal presence after an interview. When Louis questioned him
as to the day of his death, the astrologer answere that "it would be
exactly three days before that of his Majesty. There was, of course,
care taken that he should escape his destined fate, and he was ever
after much protected by the King, as a man of real science, and
intimately connected with the royal destinies." S.... Louis was
the slave of his physicians also. Cottier, one of these, was paid a
retaining fee of ten thousand crowns, besides great sums in lands and
money. "He maintained over Louis unbounded influence, by using to him
the most disrespectful harshness and insolence. 'I know,' he said to the
suffering King, 'that one morning you will turn me adrift like so many
others. But, by Heaven, you had better beware, for you will not live
eight days after you have done so!' S.]

"Ha! sayest thou?" said Louis, his countenance again altering.
"Hold--hold--go not--wait one moment.--Saidst thou, my death should
follow thine so closely?"

"Within the space of twenty-four hours," repeated Galeotti firmly, "if
there be one sparkle of true divination in those bright and mysterious
intelligences, which speak, each on their courses, though without a
tongue. I wish your Majesty good rest."

"Hold--hold--go not," said the King, taking him by the arm, and leading
him from the door. "Martius Galeotti, I have been a kind master to
thee--enriched thee--made thee my friend--my companion--the instructor
of my studies.--Be open with me, I entreat you.--Is there aught in
this art of yours in very deed?--Shall this Scot's mission be, in fact,
propitious to me?--And is the measure of our lives so very--very nearly
matched? Confess, my good Martius, you speak after the trick of your
trade.--Confess, I pray you, and you shall have no displeasure at my
hand. I am in years--a prisoner--likely to be deprived of a kingdom--to
one in my condition truth is worth kingdoms, and it is from thee,
dearest Martius, that I must look for this inestimable jewel."

"And I have laid it before your Majesty," said Galeotti, "at the risk
that, in brutal passion, you might turn upon me and rend me."

"Who, I, Galeotti?" replied Louis mildly. "Alas! thou mistakest me!--Am
I not captive--and should not I be patient, especially since my anger
can only show my impotence?--Tell me then in sincerity.--Have you fooled
me?--Or is your science true, and do you truly report it?"

"Your Majesty will forgive me if I reply to you," said Martius Galeotti,
"that time only--time and the event, will convince incredulity. It suits
ill the place of confidence which I have held at the council table
of the renowned conqueror, Matthias Corvinus of Hungary--nay, in the
cabinet of the Emperor himself--to reiterate assurances of that which
I have advanced as true. If you will not believe me, I can but refer to
the course of events. A day or two days' patience will prove or disprove
what I have averred concerning the young Scot, and I will be contented
to die on the wheel, and have my limbs broken joint by joint, if your
Majesty have not advantage, and that in a most important degree, from
the dauntless conduct of that Quentin Durward. But if I were to die
under such tortures, it would be well your Majesty should seek a ghostly
father, for, from the moment my last groan is drawn, only twenty-four
hours will remain to you for confession and penitence."

Louis continued to keep hold of Galeotti's robe as he led him towards
the door, and pronounced, as he opened it, in a loud voice, "Tomorrow we
'll talk more of this. Go in peace, my learned father.--Go in peace.--Go
in peace!"

He repeated these words three times; and, still afraid that the Provost
Marshal might mistake his purpose, he led the Astrologer into the hall,
holding fast his robe, as if afraid that he should be torn from him, and
put to death before his eyes. He did not unloose his grasp until he had
not only repeated again and again the gracious phrase, "Go in peace,"
but even made a private signal to the Provost Marshal to enjoin a
suspension of all proceedings against the person of the Astrologer.

Thus did the possession of some secret information, joined to audacious
courage and readiness of wit, save Galeotti from the most imminent
danger; and thus was Louis, the most sagacious, as well as the most
vindictive, amongst the monarchs of the period, cheated of his revenge
by the influence of superstition upon a selfish temper and a mind to
which, from the consciousness of many crimes, the fear of death was
peculiarly terrible.

He felt, however, considerable mortification at being obliged to
relinquish his purposed vengeance, and the disappointment seemed to
be shared by his satellites, to whom the execution was to have been
committed. Le Balafre alone, perfectly indifferent on the subject, so
soon as the countermanding signal was given, left the door at which he
had posted himself, and in a few minutes was fast asleep. The Provost
Marshal, as the group reclined themselves to repose in the hall after
the King retired to his bedchamber, continued to eye the goodly form of
the Astrologer with the look of a mastiff watching a joint of meat which
the cook had retrieved from his jaws, while his attendants communicated
to each other in brief sentences, their characteristic sentiments.

"The poor blinded necromancer," whispered Trois Eschelles, with an air
of spiritual unction and commiseration, to his comrade, Petit Andre,
"hath lost the fairest chance of expiating some of his vile sorceries,
by dying through means of the cord of the blessed Saint Francis, and I
had purpose, indeed, to leave the comfortable noose around his neck, to
scare the foul fiend from his unhappy carcass."

"And I," said Petit Andre, "have missed the rarest opportunity of
knowing how far a weight of seventeen stone will stretch a three plied
cord!--It would have been a glorious experiment in our line--and the
jolly old boy would have died so easily!"

While this whispered dialogue was going forward, Martius, who had taken
the opposite side of the huge stone fireplace, round which the
whole group was assembled, regarded them askance, and with a look of
suspicion. He first put his hand into his vest, and satisfied himself
that the handle of a very sharp double edged poniard, which he always
carried about him, was disposed conveniently for his grasp; for, as we
have already noticed, he was, though now somewhat unwieldy, a powerful,
athletic man, and prompt and active at the use of his weapon. Satisfied
that this trusty instrument was in readiness, he next took from his
bosom a scroll of parchment, inscribed with Greek characters, and marked
with cabalistic signs, drew together the wood in the fireplace, and made
a blaze by which he could distinguish the features and attitude of
all who sat or lay around--the heavy and deep slumbers of the Scottish
soldier, who lay motionless, with rough countenance as immovable as if
it were cast in bronze--the pale and anxious face of Oliver, who at one
time assumed the appearance of slumber, and again opened his eyes and
raised his head hastily, as if stung by some internal throe, or awakened
by some distant sound--the discontented, savage, bulldog aspect of the
Provost, who looked--


     "frustrate of his will,
     not half sufficed, and greedy yet to kill"

--while the background was filled up by the ghastly, hypocritical
countenance of Trois Eschelles--whose eyes were cast up towards Heaven,
as if he was internally saying his devotions--and the grim drollery
of Petit Andre, who amused himself with mimicking the gestures and wry
faces of his comrade before he betook himself to sleep.

Amidst these vulgar and ignoble countenances nothing could show to
greater advantage than the stately form, handsome mien, and commanding
features of the Astrologer, who might have passed for one of the ancient
magi, imprisoned in a den of robbers, and about to invoke a spirit to
accomplish his liberation. And, indeed, had he been distinguished by
nothing else than the beauty of the graceful and flowing beard which
descended over the mysterious roll which he held in his hand, one might
have been pardoned for regretting that so noble an appendage had been
bestowed on one who put both talents, learning, and the advantages of
eloquence, and a majestic person, to the mean purposes of a cheat and an
imposter.

Thus passed the night in Count Herbert's Tower, in the Castle of
Peronne. When the first light of dawn penetrated the ancient Gothic
chamber, the King summoned Oliver to his presence, who found the Monarch
sitting in his nightgown, and was astonished at the alteration which one
night of mortal anxiety had made in his looks. He would have expressed
some anxiety on the subject, but the King silenced him by entering into
a statement of the various modes by which he had previously endeavoured
to form friends at the Court of Burgundy, and which Oliver was charged
to prosecute so soon as he should be permitted to stir abroad.

And never was that wily minister more struck with the clearness of the
King's intellect, and his intimate knowledge of all the springs which
influence human actions, than he was during that memorable consultation.

About two hours afterwards, Oliver accordingly obtained permission from
the Count of Crevecoeur to go out and execute the commissions which his
master had intrusted him with, and Louis, sending for the Astrologer, in
whom he seemed to have renewed his faith, held with him, in like manner,
a long consultation, the issue of which appeared to give him more
spirits and confidence than he had at first exhibited; so that he
dressed himself, and received the morning compliments of Crevecoeur with
a calmness at which the Burgundian Lord could not help Wondering, the
rather that he had already heard that the Duke had passed several
hours in a state of mind which seemed to render the King's safety very
precarious.



CHAPTER XXX: UNCERTAINTY

     Our counsels waver like the unsteady bark,
     That reels amid the strife of meeting currents.

     OLD PLAY


If the night passed by Louis was carefully anxious and agitated, that
spent by the Duke of Burgundy, who had at no time the same mastery
over his passions, and, indeed, who permitted them almost a free and
uncontrolled dominion over his actions, was still more disturbed.

According to the custom of the period, two of his principal and
most favoured counsellors, D'Hymbercourt and De Comines, shared his
bedchamber, couches being prepared for them near the bed of the prince.
Their attendance was never more necessary than upon this night, when,
distracted by sorrow, by passion, by the desire of revenge, and by the
sense of honour, which forbade him to exercise it upon Louis in his
present condition, the Duke's mind resembled a volcano in eruption,
which throws forth all the different contents of the mountain, mingled
and molten into one burning mass.

He refused to throw off his clothes, or to make any preparation for
sleep; but spent the night in a succession of the most violent bursts
of passion. In some paroxysms he talked incessantly to his attendants so
thick and so rapidly, that they were really afraid his senses would give
way, choosing for his theme the merits and the kindness of heart of
the murdered Bishop of Liege, and recalling all the instances of mutual
kindness, affection, and confidence which had passed between them, until
he had worked himself into such a transport of grief, that he threw
himself upon his face in the bed, and seemed ready to choke with the
sobs and tears which he endeavoured to stifle. Then starting from
the couch, he gave vent at once to another and more furious mood, and
traversed the room hastily, uttering incoherent threats, and still more
incoherent oaths of vengeance, while stamping with his foot, according
to his customary action, he invoked Saint George, Saint Andrew, and
whomsoever else he held most holy, to bear witness that he would take
bloody vengeance on De la Marck, on the people of Liege, and on him who
was the author of the whole.--These last threats, uttered more obscurely
than the others, obviously concerned the person of the King, and at
one time the Duke expressed his determination to send for the Duke of
Normandy, the brother of the King, and with whom Louis was on the worst
terms, in order to compel the captive monarch to surrender either the
Crown itself, or some of its most valuable rights and appanages.

Another day and night passed in the same stormy and fitful
deliberations, or rather rapid transitions of passion, for the Duke
scarcely ate or drank, never changed his dress, and, altogether,
demeaned himself like one in whom rage might terminate in utter
insanity. By degrees he became more composed, and began to hold, from
time to time, consultations with his ministers, in which much was
proposed, but nothing resolved on. Comines assures us that at one time a
courier was mounted in readiness to depart for the purpose of summoning
the Duke of Normandy, and in that event, the prison of the French
Monarch would probably have been found, as in similar cases, a brief
road to his grave.

At other times, when Charles had exhausted his fury, he sat with his
features fixed in stern and rigid immobility, like one who broods
over some desperate deed, to which he is as yet unable to work up his
resolution. And unquestionably it would have needed little more than an
insidious hint from any of the counsellors who attended his person to
have pushed the Duke to some very desperate action. But the nobles of
Burgundy, from the sacred character attached to the person of a King,
and a Lord Paramount, and from a regard to the public faith, as well as
that of their Duke, which had been pledged when Louis threw himself
into their power, were almost unanimously inclined to recommend moderate
measures; and the arguments which D'Hymbercourt and De Comines had now
and then ventured to insinuate during the night, were, in the cooler
hours of the next morning, advanced and urged by Crevecoeur and
others. Possibly their zeal in behalf of the King might not be entirely
disinterested.

Many, as we have mentioned, had already experienced the bounty of the
King; others had either estates or pretensions in France, which placed
them a little under his influence; and it is certain that the treasure
which had loaded four mules when the King entered Peronne, became much
lighter in the course of these negotiations.

In the course of the third day, the Count of Campobasso brought his
Italian wit to assist the counsels of Charles; and well was it for Louis
that he had not arrived when the Duke was in his first fury. Immediately
on his arrival, a regular meeting of the Duke's counsellors was convened
for considering the measures to be adopted in this singular crisis.

On this occasion, Campobasso gave his opinion, couched in the apologue
of the Traveller, the Adder, and the Fox; and reminded the Duke of the
advice which Reynard gave to the man, that he should crush his mortal
enemy, now that chance had placed his fate at his disposal. [The fox
advised the man who had found a snake by the roadside to kill it. He,
however, placed it in his bosom, and was afterwards bitten.] De Comines,
who saw the Duke's eyes sparkle at a proposal which his own violence
of temper had already repeatedly suggested, hastened to state the
possibility that Louis might not be, in fact, so directly accessory to
the sanguinary action which had been committed at Schonwaldt; that he
might be able to clear himself of the imputation laid to his charge, and
perhaps to make other atonement for the distractions which his intrigues
had occasioned in the Duke's dominions, and those of his allies; and
that an act of violence perpetrated on the King was sure to bring both
on France and Burgundy a train of the most unhappy consequences, among
which not the least to be feared was that the English might avail
themselves of the commotions and civil discord which must needs ensue,
to repossess themselves of Normandy and Guyenne, and renew those
dreadful wars which had only, and with difficulty, been terminated by
the union of both France and Burgundy against the common enemy.
Finally, he confessed that he did not mean to urge the absolute and
free dismissal of Louis; but only that the Duke should avail himself
no farther of his present condition than merely to establish a fair and
equitable treaty between the countries, with such security on the King's
part as should make it difficult for him to break his faith, or disturb
the internal peace of Burgundy in the future. D'Hymbercourt, Crevecoeur,
and others signified their reprobation of the violent measures proposed
by Campobasso, and their opinion, that in the way of treaty more
permanent advantages could be obtained, and in a manner more honourable
for Burgundy, than by an action which would stain her with a breach of
faith and hospitality.

The Duke listened to these arguments with his looks fixed on the ground,
and his brow so knitted together as to bring his bushy eyebrows into one
mass. But when Crevecoeur proceeded to say that he did not believe
Louis either knew of, or was accessory to, the atrocious act of violence
committed at Schonwaldt, Charles raised his head, and darting a fierce
look at his counsellor, exclaimed, "Have you too, Crevecoeur, heard the
gold of France clink?--Methinks it rings in my council as merrily as
ever the bells of Saint Denis.--Dare any one say that Louis is not the
fomenter of these feuds in Flanders?"

"My gracious lord," said Crevecoeur, "my hand has ever been more
conversant with steel than with gold, and so far am I from holding
that Louis is free from the charge of having caused the disturbances in
Flanders, that it is not long since, in the face of his whole Court, I
charged him with that breach of faith, and offered him defiance in your
name. But although his intrigues have been doubtless the original cause
of these commotions, I am so far from believing that he authorized the
death of the Archbishop, that I believe one of his emissaries publicly
protested against it; and I could produce the man, were it your Grace's
pleasure to see him."

"It is our pleasure," said the Duke. "Saint George, can you doubt that
we desire to act justly? Even in the highest flight of our passion,
we are known for an upright and a just judge. We will see France
ourself--we will ourself charge him with our wrongs, and ourself state
to him the reparation which we expect and demand. If he shall be found
guiltless of this murder, the atonement for other crimes may be more
easy.--If he hath been guilty, who shall say that a life of penitence
in some retired monastery were not a most deserved and a most merciful
doom?--Who," he added, kindling as he spoke, "who shall dare to blame a
revenge yet more direct and more speedy?--Let your witness attend.--We
will to the Castle at the hour before noon. Some articles we will minute
down with which he shall comply, or woe on his head! Others shall depend
upon the proof. Break up the council, and dismiss yourselves. I will but
change my dress, as this is scarce a fitting trim in which to wait on my
most gracious Sovereign."

With a deep and bitter emphasis on the last expression, the Duke arose
and strode out of the room.

"Louis's safety, and, what is worse, the honour of Burgundy, depend on
a cast of the dice," said D'Hymbercourt to Crevecoeur and to De Comines.
"Haste thee to the Castle, De Comines, thou hast a better filed
tongue than either Crevecoeur or I. Explain to Louis what storm is
approaching--he will best know how to pilot himself. I trust this Life
Guardsman will say nothing which can aggravate; for who knows what may
have been the secret commission with which he was charged?"

"The young man," said Crevecoeur, "seems bold, yet prudent and wary far
beyond his years. In all which he said to me he was tender of the King's
character, as of that of the Prince whom he serves. I trust he will
be equally so in the Duke's presence. I must go seek him, and also the
young Countess of Croye."

"The Countess--you told us you had left her at Saint Bridget's"

"Ay, but I was obliged," said the Count, "to send for her express, by
the Duke's orders; and she has been brought hither on a litter, as being
unable to travel otherwise. She was in a state of the deepest distress,
both on account of the uncertainty of the fate of her kinswoman, the
Lady Hameline, and the gloom which overhangs her own, guilty as she has
been of a feudal delinquency, in withdrawing herself from the protection
of her liege lord, Duke Charles, who is not the person in the world
most likely to view with indifference what trenches on his seignorial
rights."

The information that the young Countess was in the hands of Charles,
added fresh and more pointed thorns to Louis's reflections. He was
conscious that, by explaining the intrigues by which he had induced
the Lady Hameline and her to resort to Peronne, she might supply that
evidence which he had removed by the execution of Zamet Maugrabin,
and he knew well how much such proof of his having interfered with the
rights of the Duke of Burgundy would furnish both motive and pretext for
Charles's availing himself to the uttermost of his present predicament.

Louis discoursed on these matters with great anxiety to the Sieur de
Comines, whose acute and political talents better suited the King's
temper than the blunt martial character of Crevecoeur, or the feudal
haughtiness of D'Hymbercourt.

"These iron handed soldiers, my good friend Comines," he said to his
future historian, "should never enter a King's cabinet, but be left with
the halberds and partisans in the antechamber. Their hands are indeed
made for our use, but the monarch who puts their heads to any better
occupation than that of anvils for his enemies' swords and maces,
ranks with the fool who presented his mistress with a dog leash for a
carcanet. It is with such as thou, Philip, whose eyes are gifted with
the quick and keen sense that sees beyond the exterior surface
of affairs, that Princes should share their council table, their
cabinet--what do I say?--the most secret recesses of their soul."

De Comines, himself so keen a spirit, was naturally gratified with the
approbation of the most sagacious Prince in Europe, and he could not so
far disguise his internal satisfaction, but that Louis was aware he had
made some impression on him.

"I would," continued he, "that I had such a servant, or rather that I
were worthy to have such a one! I had not then been in this unfortunate
situation, which, nevertheless, I should hardly regret, could I
but discover any means of securing the services of so experienced a
statist."

De Comines said that all his faculties, such as they were, were at the
service of his Most Christian Majesty, saving always his allegiance to
his rightful lord, Duke Charles of Burgundy.

"And am I one who would seduce you from that allegiance?" said Louis
pathetically. "Alas! am I not now endangered by having reposed too much
confidence in my vassal? and can the cause of feudal good faith be
more sacred with any than with me, whose safety depends on an appeal to
it?--No, Philip de Comines--continue to serve Charles of Burgundy, and
you will best serve him, by bringing round a fair accommodation with
Louis of France. In doing thus you will serve us both, and one, at
least, will be grateful. I am told your appointments in this Court
hardly match those of the Grand Falconer and thus the services of the
wisest counsellor in Europe are put on a level, or rather ranked
below, those of a fellow who feeds and physics kites! France has wide
lands--her King has much gold. Allow me, my friend, to rectify this
scandalous inequality. The means are not distant.--Permit me to use
them."

The King produced a weighty bag of money; but De Comines, more delicate
in his sentiments than most courtiers of that time, declined the
proffer, declaring himself perfectly satisfied with the liberality of
his native Prince, and assuring Louis that his desire to serve him
could not be increased by the acceptance of any such gratuity as he had
proposed.

"Singular man!" exclaimed the King; "let me embrace the only courtier
of his time, at once capable and incorruptible. Wisdom is to be desired
more than fine gold; and believe me, I trust in thy kindness, Philip, at
this pinch, more than I do in the purchased assistance of many who have
received my gifts. I know you will not counsel your master to abuse such
an opportunity as fortune, and, to speak plain, De Comines, as my own
folly, has afforded him."

"To abuse it, by no means," answered the historian, "but most certainly
to use it."

"How, and in what degree?" said Louis. "I am not ass enough to expect
that I shall escape without some ransom--but let it be a reasonable
one--reason I am ever Willing to listen to at Paris or at Plessis,
equally as at Peronne."

"Ah, but if it like your Majesty," replied De Comines, "Reason at Paris
or Plessis was used to speak in so low and soft a tone of voice, that
she could not always gain an audience of your Majesty--at Peronne she
borrows the speaking trumpet of Necessity, and her voice becomes lordly
and imperative."

"You are figurative," said Louis, unable to restrain an emotion of
peevishness; "I am a dull, blunt man, Sir of Comines. I pray you leave
your tropes, and come to plain ground. What does your Duke expect of
me?"

"I am the bearer of no propositions, my lord," said De Comines; "the
Duke will soon explain his own pleasure; but some things occur to me as
proposals, for which your Majesty ought to hold yourself prepared. As,
for example, the final cession of these towns here upon the Somme."

"I expected so much," said Louis.

"That you should disown the Liegeois, and William de la Marck."

"As willingly as I disclaim Hell and Satan," said Louis.

"Ample security will be required, by hostages, or occupation of
fortresses, or otherwise, that France shall in future abstain from
stirring up rebellion among the Flemings."

"It is something new," answered the King, "that a vassal should demand
pledges from his Sovereign; but let that pass too."

"A suitable and independent appanage for your illustrious brother, the
ally and friend of my master--Normandy or Champagne. The Duke loves your
father's house, my Liege."

"So well," answered Louis, "that, mort Dieu! he's about to make them all
kings.--Is your budget of hints yet emptied?"

"Not entirely," answered the counsellor: "it will certainly be required
that your Majesty will forbear molesting, as you have done of late, the
Duke de Bretagne, and that you will no longer contest the right which
he and other grand feudatories have, to strike money, to term themselves
dukes and princes by the grace of God--"

"In a word, to make so many kings of my vassals. Sir Philip, would you
make a fratricide of me?--You remember well my brother Charles--he was
no sooner Duke of Guyenne, than he died.--And what will be left to the
descendant and representative of Charlemagne, after giving away these
rich provinces, save to be smeared with oil [a king, priest, or prophet
was consecrated by means of oil] at Rheims, and to eat their dinner
under a high canopy?"

"We will diminish your Majesty's concern on that score, by giving you
a companion in that solitary exaltation," said Philip de Comines.
"The Duke of Burgundy, though he claims not at present the title of an
independent king, desires nevertheless to be freed in future from the
abject marks of subjection required of him to the crown of France--it
is his purpose to close his ducal coronet with an imperial arch, and
surmount it with a globe, in emblem that his dominions are independent."

"And how dares the Duke of Burgundy, the sworn vassal of France,"
exclaimed Louis, starting up, and showing an unwonted degree of emotion,
"how dares he propose such terms to his Sovereign, as, by every law of
Europe, should infer a forfeiture of his fief?"

"The doom of forfeiture it would in this case be difficult to enforce,"
answered De Comines calmly. "Your Majesty is aware that the strict
interpretation of the feudal law is becoming obsolete even in the
Empire, and that superior and vassal endeavour to mend their situation
in regard to each other, as they have power and opportunity.

"Your Majesty's interferences with the Duke's vassals in Flanders will
prove an exculpation of my master's conduct, supposing him to insist
that, by enlarging his independence, France should in future be debarred
from any pretext of doing so."

"Comines, Comines!" said Louis, arising again, and pacing the room in a
pensive manner, "this is a dreadful lesson on the text Vae victis! [woe
to the vanquished!]--You cannot mean that the Duke will insist on all
these hard conditions?"

"At least I would have your Majesty be in a condition to discuss them
all."

"Yet moderation, De Comines, moderation in success, is--no one knows
better than you--necessary to its ultimate advantage."

"So please your Majesty, the merit of moderation is, I have observed,
most apt to be extolled by the losing party. The winner holds in more
esteem the prudence which calls on him not to leave an opportunity
unimproved."

"Well, we will consider," replied the King; "but at least thou hast
reached the extremity of your Duke's unreasonable exaction? there can
remain nothing--or if there does, for so thy brow intimates--what is
it--what indeed can it be--unless it be my crown? which these previous
demands, if granted, will deprive of all its lustre?"

"My lord," said De Comines, "what remains to be mentioned, is a thing
partly--indeed in a great measure within the Duke's own power, though he
means to invite your Majesty's accession to it, for in truth it touches
you nearly."

"Pasques Dieu!" exclaimed the King impatiently, "what is it?--Speak out,
Sir Philip--am I to send him my daughter for a concubine, or what other
dishonour is he to put on me?"

"No dishonour, my Liege; but your Majesty's cousin, the illustrious Duke
of Orleans--"

"Ha!" exclaimed the King; but De Comines proceeded without heeding the
interruption.

"--having conferred his affections on the young Countess Isabelle de
Croye, the Duke expects your Majesty will, on your part, as he on his,
yield your assent to the marriage, and unite with him in endowing the
right noble couple with such an appanage, as, joined to the Countess's
estates, may form a fit establishment for a Child of France."

"Never, never!" said the King, bursting out into that emotion which he
had of late suppressed with much difficulty, and striding about in
a disordered haste, which formed the strongest contrast to the self
command which he usually exhibited.

"Never, never!--let them bring scissors, and shear my hair like that
of the parish fool, whom I have so richly resembled--let them bid the
monastery or the grave yawn for me, let them bring red hot basins to
sear my eyes--axe or aconite--whatever they will, but Orleans shall
not break his plighted faith to my daughter, or marry another while she
lives!"

"Your Majesty," said De Comines, "ere you set your mind so keenly
against what is proposed, will consider your own want of power to
prevent it. Every wise man, when he sees a rock giving way, withdraws
from the bootless attempt of preventing the fall."

"But a brave man," said Louis, "will at least find his grave beneath
it. De Comines, consider the great loss, the utter destruction, such a
marriage will bring upon my kingdom. Recollect, I have but one feeble
boy, and this Orleans is the next heir--consider that the Church hath
consented to his union with Joan, which unites so happily the interests
of both branches of my family, think on all this, and think too that
this union has been the favourite scheme of my whole life--that I have
schemed for it, fought for it, watched for it, prayed for it--and sinned
for it. Philip de Comines, I will not forego it! Think man, think!--pity
me in this extremity, thy quick brain can speedily find some substitute
for this sacrifice--some ram to be offered up instead of that project
which is dear to me as the Patriarch's only son was to him. [Isaac,
whose father Abraham, in obedience to the command of God, was about to
sacrifice him upon the altar when a ram appeared, which Abraham offered
in his stead.] Philip, pity me!--you at least should know that, to men
of judgment and foresight, the destruction of the scheme on which
they have long dwelt, and for which they have long toiled, is more
inexpressibly bitter than the transient grief of ordinary men, whose
pursuits are but the gratification of some temporary passion--you, who
know how to sympathize with the deeper, the more genuine distress of
baffled prudence and disappointed sagacity--will you not feel for me?"

"My Lord and King," replied De Comines, "I do sympathize with your
distress in so far as duty to my master--"

"Do not mention him!" said Louis, acting, or at least appearing to act,
under an irresistible and headlong impulse, which withdrew the usual
guard which he maintained over his language. "Charles of Burgundy
is unworthy of your attachment. He who can insult and strike his
councillors--he who can distinguish the wisest and most faithful among
them by the opprobrious name of Booted Head!"

The wisdom of Philip de Comines did not prevent his having a high sense
of personal consequence; and he was so much struck with the words
which the King uttered, as it were, in the career of a passion which
overleaped ceremony, that he could only reply by repetition of the words
"Booted Head! It is impossible that my master the Duke could have so
termed the servant who has been at his side since he could mount a
palfrey--and that too before a foreign monarch!--it is impossible!"

Louis instantly saw the impression he had made, and avoiding alike
a tone of condolence, which might have seemed insulting, and one of
sympathy, which might have savoured of affectation; he said, with
simplicity, and at the same time with dignity, "My misfortunes make
me forget my courtesy, else I had not spoken to you of what it must be
unpleasant for you to hear. But you have in reply taxed me with having
uttered impossibilities--this touches my honour; yet I must submit to
the charge, if I tell you not the circumstances which the Duke, laughing
until his eyes ran over, assigned for the origin of that opprobrious
name, which I will not offend your ears by repeating. Thus, then, it
chanced. You, Sir Philip de Comines, were at a hunting match with the
Duke of Burgundy, your master; and when he alighted after the chase, he
required your services in drawing off his boots. Reading in your looks,
perhaps, some natural resentment of this disparaging treatment, he
ordered you to sit down in turn, and rendered you the same office he
had just received from you. But offended at your understanding him
literally, he no sooner plucked one of your boots off than he brutally
beat it about your head till the blood flowed, exclaiming against the
insolence of a subject who had the presumption to accept of such a
service at the hand of his Sovereign; and hence he, or his privileged
fool, Le Glorieux, is in the current habit of distinguishing you by the
absurd and ridiculous name of Tete botte, which makes one of the Duke's
most ordinary subjects of pleasantry."

[The story is told more bluntly, and less probably, in the French
memoirs of the period, which affirm that Comines, out of a presumption
inconsistent with his excellent good sense, had asked of Charles of
Burgundy to draw off his boots, without having been treated with any
previous familiarity to lead to such a freedom. I have endeavoured to
give the anecdote a turn more consistent with the sense and prudence of
the great author concerned. S.]

While Louis thus spoke, he had the double pleasure of galling to the
quick the person whom he addressed--an exercise which it was in his
nature to enjoy, even where he had not, as in the present case, the
apology that he did so in pure retaliation--and that of observing that
he had at length been able to find a point in De Comines's character
which might lead him gradually from the interests of Burgundy to those
of France. But although the deep resentment which the offended courtier
entertained against his master induced him at a future period to
exchange the service of Charles for that of Louis, yet, at the present
moment, he was contented to throw out only some general hints of his
friendly inclination towards France, which he well knew the King would
understand how to interpret. And indeed it would be unjust to stigmatize
the memory of the excellent historian with the desertion of his
master on this occasion, although he was certainly now possessed with
sentiments much more favourable to Louis than when he entered the
apartment.

He constrained himself to laugh at the anecdote which Louis had
detailed, and then added, "I did not think so trifling a frolic would
have dwelt on the mind of the Duke so long as to make it worth telling
again. Some such passage there was of drawing off boots and the like, as
your Majesty knows that the Duke is fond of rude play; but it has been
much exaggerated in his recollection. Let it pass on."

"Ay, let it pass on," said the King; "it is indeed shame it should have
detained us a minute.--And now, Sir Philip, I hope you are French so far
as to afford me your best counsel in these difficult affairs. You have,
I am well aware, the clew to the labyrinth, if you would but impart it."

"Your Majesty may command my best advice and service," replied De
Comines, "under reservation always of my duty to my own master."

This was nearly what the courtier had before stated; but he now repeated
it in a tone so different that, whereas Louis understood from the former
declaration that the reserved duty to Burgundy was the prime thing to
be considered, so he now saw clearly that the emphasis was reversed, and
that more weight was now given by the speaker to his promise of counsel
than to a restriction which seemed interposed for the sake of form and
consistency. The King resumed his own seat, and compelled De Comines to
sit by him, listening at the same time to that statesman as if the
words of an oracle sounded in his ears. De Comines spoke in that low and
impressive tone which implies at once great sincerity and some caution,
and at the same time so slowly as if he was desirous that the King
should weigh and consider each individual word as having its own
peculiar and determined meaning.

"The things," he said, "which I have suggested for your Majesty's
consideration, harsh as they sound in your ear, are but substitutes for
still more violent proposals brought forward in the Duke's counsels, by
such as are more hostile to your Majesty. And I need scarce remind your
Majesty, that the more direct and more violent suggestions find readiest
acceptance with our master, who loves brief and dangerous measures
better than those that are safe, but at the same time circuitous."

"I remember," said the King. "I have seen him swim a river at the
risk of drowning, though there was a bridge to be found for riding two
hundred yards."

"True, Sire; and he that weighs not his life against the gratification
of a moment of impetuous passion will, on the same impulse, prefer the
gratification of his will to the increase of his substantial power."

"Most true," replied the King; "a fool will ever grasp rather at the
appearance than the reality of authority. And this I know to be true of
Charles of Burgundy. But, my dear friend De Comines, what do you infer
from these premises?"

"Simply this, my lord," answered the Burgundian, "that as your Majesty
has seen a skilful angler control a large and heavy fish, and finally
draw him to land by a single hair, which fish had broke through a tackle
tenfold stronger, had the fisher presumed to strain the line on him,
instead of giving him head enough for all his wild flourishes; even so
your Majesty, by gratifying the Duke in these particulars on which he
has pitched his ideas of honour, and the gratification of his revenge,
may evade many of the other unpalatable propositions at which I have
hinted; and which--including, I must state openly to your Majesty, some
of those through which France would be most especially weakened--will
slide out of his remembrance and attention, and, being referred to
subsequent conferences and future discussion, may be altogether eluded."

"I understand you, my good Sir Philip; but to the matter," said the
King. "To which of those happy propositions is your Duke so much wedded
that contradiction will make him unreasonable and untractable?"

"To any or to all of them, if it please your Majesty, on which you
may happen to contradict him. This is precisely what your Majesty must
avoid; and to take up my former parable, you must needs remain on the
watch, ready to give the Duke line enough whenever he shoots away under
the impulse of his rage. His fury, already considerably abated, will
waste itself if he be unopposed, and you will presently find him become
more friendly and more tractable."

"Still," said the' King, musing, "there must be some particular demands
which lie deeper at my cousin's heart than the other proposals. Were I
but aware of these, Sir Philip."

"Your Majesty may make the lightest of his demands the most important
simply by opposing it," said De Comines, "nevertheless, my lord, thus
far I can say, that every shadow of treaty will be broken off, if your
Majesty renounce not William de la Marck and the Liegeois."

"I have already said that I will disown them," said the King, "and well
they deserve it at my hand; the villains have commenced their uproar at
a moment that might have cost me my life."

"He that fires a train of powder," replied the historian, "must expect
a speedy explosion of the mine.--But more than mere disavowal of their
cause will be expected of your Majesty by Duke Charles, for know that
he will demand your Majesty assistance to put the insurrection down, and
your royal presence to witness the punishment which he destines for the
rebels."

"That may scarce consist with our honour, De Comines," said the King.

"To refuse it will scarcely consist with your Majesty's safety," replied
De Comines. "Charles is determined to show the people of Flanders that
no hope, nay, no promise, of assistance from France will save them in
their mutinies from the wrath and vengeance of Burgundy."

"But, Sir Philip, I will speak plainly," answered the King. "Could we
but procrastinate the matter, might not these rogues of Liege make
their own part good against Duke Charles? The knaves are numerous and
steady.--Can they not hold out their town against him?"

"With the help of the thousand archers of France whom your Majesty
promised them, they might have done something, but--"

"Whom I promised them?" said the King. "Alas! good Sir Philip! you much
wrong me in saying so."

"But without whom," continued De Comines, not heeding the interruption,
"as your Majesty will not now likely find it convenient to supply them,
what chance will the burghers have of making good their town, in whose
walls the large breaches made by Charles after the battle of St. Tron
are still unrepaired; so that the lances of Hainault, Brabant, and
Burgundy may advance to the attack twenty men in front?"

"The improvident idiots!" said the King. "If they have thus neglected
their own safety, they deserve not my protection. Pass on--I will make
no quarrel for their sake."

"The next point, I fear, will sit closer to your Majesty's heart," said
De Comines.

"Ah!" replied the King, "you mean that infernal marriage! I will not
consent to the breach of the contract betwixt my daughter Joan and my
cousin of Orleans--it would be wresting the sceptre of France from
me and my posterity; for that feeble boy, the Dauphin, is a blighted
blossom, which will wither without fruit. This match between Joan and
Orleans has been my thought by day, my dream by night.--I tell thee, Sir
Philip, I cannot give it up!--Besides, it is inhuman to require me,
with my own hand, to destroy at once my own scheme of policy, and the
happiness of a pair brought up for each other."

"Are they, then, so much attached?" said De Comines.

"One of them at least," said the King, "and the one for whom I am bound
to be most anxious. But you smile, Sir Philip--you are no believer in
the force of love."

"Nay," said De Comines, "if it please you, Sire, I am so little an
infidel in that particular that I was about to ask whether it would
reconcile you in any degree to your acquiescing in the proposed marriage
betwixt the Duke of Orleans and Isabelle de Croye, were I to satisfy you
that the Countess's inclinations are so much fixed on another, that it
is likely it will never be a match?"

King Louis sighed. "Alas," he said, "my good and dear friend, from
what sepulchre have you drawn such dead comfort? Her inclinations,
indeed!--Why, to speak truth, supposing that Orleans detested my
daughter Joan, yet, but for this ill ravelled web of mischance, he must
needs have married her; so you may conjecture how little chance there
is of this damsel's being able to refuse him under a similar compulsion,
and he a Child of France besides.--Ah, no, Philip! little fear of her
standing obstinate against the suit of such a lover.--Varium et mutabile
[(semper femina): woman is always inconstant and capricious], Philip."

"Your Majesty may, in the present instance, undervalue the obstinate
courage of this young lady. She comes of a race determinately wilful;
and I have picked out of Crevecoeur that she has formed a romantic
attachment to a young squire, who, to say truth, rendered her many
services on the road."

"Ha!" said the King--"an Archer of my Guards, by name Quentin Durward?"

"The same, as I think," said De Comines; "he was made prisoner along
with the Countess, travelling almost alone together."

"Now, our Lord and our Lady, and Monseigneur Saint Martin, and
Monseigneur Saint Julian, be praised every one of them!" said the King,
"and all laud and honour to the learned Galeotti; who read in the stars
that this youth's destiny was connected with mine! If the maiden be so
attached to him as to make her refractory to the will of Burgundy, this
Quentin hath indeed been rarely useful to me."

"I believe, my lord," answered the Burgundian, "according to
Crevecoeur's report, that there is some chance of her being sufficiently
obstinate; besides, doubtless, the noble Duke himself, notwithstanding
what your Majesty was pleased to hint in way of supposition, will not
willingly renounce his fair cousin, to whom he has been long engaged."

"Umph!" answered the King--"but you have never seen my daughter Joan.--A
howlet, man!--an absolute owl, whom I am ashamed of! But let him be only
a wise man, and marry her, I will give him leave to be mad par amours
for the fairest lady in France.--And now, Philip, have you given me the
full map of your master's mind?"

"I have possessed you, Sire, of those particulars on which he is at
present most disposed to insist. But your Majesty well knows that
the Duke's disposition is like a sweeping torrent, which only passes
smoothly forward when its waves encounter no opposition; and what may be
presented to chafe him info fury, it is impossible even to guess. Were
more distinct evidence of your Majesty's practices (pardon the phrase,
when there is so little time for selection) with the Liegeois
and William de la Marck to occur unexpectedly, the issue might be
terrible.--There are strange news from that country--they say La Marck
hath married Hameline, the elder Countess of Croye."

"That old fool was so mad on marriage that she would have accepted
the hand of Satan," said the King; "but that La Marck, beast as he is,
should have married her, rather more surprises me."

"There is a report also," continued De Comines, "that an envoy, or
herald, on La Marck's part, is approaching Peronne; this is like to
drive the Duke frantic with rage--I trust that he has no letters or the
like to show on your Majesty's part?"

"Letters to a Wild Boar!" answered the King.--"No, no, Sir Philip, I was
no such fool as to cast pearls before swine.--What little intercourse
I had with the brute animal was by message, in which I always employed
such low bred slaves and vagabonds that their evidence would not be
received in a trial for robbing a hen roost."

"I can then only further recommend," said De Comines, taking his leave,
"that your Majesty should remain on your guard, be guided by events,
and, above all, avoid using any language or argument with the Duke which
may better become your dignity than your present condition."

"If my dignity," said the King, "grow troublesome to me--which it seldom
doth while there are deeper interests to think of--I have a special
remedy for that swelling of the heart.--It is but looking into a certain
ruinous closet, Sir Philip, and thinking of the death of Charles the
Simple; and it cures me as effectually as the cold bath would cool a
fever.--And now, my friend and monitor, must thou be gone? Well, Sir
Philip, the time must come when thou wilt tire reading lessons of state
policy to the Bull of Burgundy, who is incapable of comprehending your
most simple argument.--If Louis of Valois then lives, thou hast a friend
in the Court of France. I tell thee, my Philip, it would be a blessing
to my kingdom should I ever acquire thee; who, with a profound view
of subjects of state, hast also a conscience, capable of feeling and
discerning between right and wrong. So help me our Lord and Lady, and
Monseigneur Saint Martin, Oliver and Balue have hearts as hardened as
the nether millstone; and my life is embittered by remorse and penances
for the crimes they make me commit. Thou, Sir Philip, possessed of
the wisdom of present and past times, canst teach how to become great
without ceasing to be virtuous."

"A hard task, and which few have attained," said the historian; "but
which is yet within the reach of princes who will strive for it.
Meantime, Sire, be prepared, for the Duke will presently confer with
you."

Louis looked long after Philip when he left the apartment, and at length
burst into a bitter laugh. "He spoke of fishing--I have sent him home, a
trout properly tickled!--And he thinks himself virtuous because he took
no bribe, but contented himself with flattery and promises, and the
pleasure of avenging an affront to his vanity!--Why, he is but so much
the poorer for the refusal of the money--not a jot the more honest. He
must be mine, though, for he hath the shrewdest head among them. Well,
now for nobler game! I am to face this leviathan Charles, who will
presently swim hitherward, cleaving the deep before him. I must, like a
trembling sailor, throw a tub overboard to amuse him. But I may one day
find the chance of driving a harpoon into his entrails!"

[If a ship is threatened by a school of whales, a tub is thrown into the
sea to divert their attention. Hence to mislead an enemy, or to create a
diversion in order to avoid a danger.]

[Scott says that during this interesting scene Comines first realized
the great powers of Louis, and entertained from this time a partiality
to France which allured him to Louis's court in 1472. After the death of
Louis he fell under the suspicion of that sovereign's daughter and was
imprisoned in one of the cages he has so feelingly described. He was
subjected to trial and exiled from court, but was afterwards employed by
Charles VIII in one or two important missions. He died at his Castle
of Argenton in 1509, and was regretted as one of the most profound
statesmen, and the best historian of his age.]



CHAPTER XXXI: THE INTERVIEW

     Hold fast thy truth, young soldier.--Gentle maiden,
     Keep you your promise plight--leave age its subtleties,
     And gray hair'd policy its maze of falsehood,
     But be you candid as the morning sky,
     Ere the high sun sucks vapours up to stain it.

     THE TRIAL


On the perilous and important morning which preceded the meeting of the
two Princes in the Castle of Peronne, Oliver le Dain did his master the
service of an active and skilful agent, making interest for Louis in
every quarter, both with presents and promises; so that when the Duke's
anger should blaze forth, all around should be interested to smother,
and not to increase, the conflagration. He glided like night, from tent
to tent, from house to house, making himself friends, but not in the
Apostle's sense, with the Mammon of unrighteousness. As was said of
another active political agent, "his finger was in every man's palm, his
mouth was in every man's ear;" and for various reasons, some of which
we have formerly hinted at, he secured the favour of many Burgundian
nobles, who either had something to hope or fear from France, or who
thought that, were the power of Louis too much reduced, their own Duke
would be likely to pursue the road to despotic authority, to which his
heart naturally inclined him, with a daring and unopposed pace.

Where Oliver suspected his own presence or arguments might be less
acceptable, he employed that of other servants of the King; and it
was in this manner that he obtained, by the favour of the Count de
Crevecoeur, an interview betwixt Lord Crawford, accompanied by Le
Balafre, and Quentin Durward, who, since he had arrived at Peronne, had
been detained in a sort of honourable confinement. Private affairs were
assigned as the cause of requesting this meeting; but it is probable
that Crevecoeur, who was afraid that his master might be stirred up in
passion to do something dishonourably violent towards Louis, was not
sorry to afford an opportunity to Crawford to give some hints to the
young Archer, which might prove useful to his master.

The meeting between the countrymen was cordial and even affecting.

"Thou art a singular youth," said Crawford, stroking the head of young
Durward, as a grandsire might do that of his descendant. "Certes, you
have had as meikle good fortune as if you had been born with a lucky
hood on your head."

"All comes of his gaining an Archer's place at such early years," said
Le Balafre; "I never was so much talked of, fair nephew, because I was
five and twenty years old before I was hors de page [passed out of the
rank of the page]."

"And an ill looking mountainous monster of a page thou wert, Ludovic,"
said the old commander, "with a beard like a baker's shool, and a back
like old Wallace Wight [so called because of his vigour and activity]."

"I fear," said Quentin, with downcast eyes, "I shall enjoy that title
to distinction but a short time--since it is my purpose to resign the
service of the Archer Guard."

Le Balafre was struck almost mute with astonishment, and Crawford's
ancient features gleamed with displeasure. The former at length
mustered words enough to say, "Resign!--leave your place in the Scottish
Archers!--such a thing was never dreamed of. I would not give up my
situation to be made Constable of France."

"Hush! Ludovic," said Crawford; "this youngster knows better how to
shape his course with the wind than we of the old world do. His journey
hath given him some pretty tales to tell about King Louis; and he is
turning Burgundian, that he may make his own little profit by telling
them to Duke Charles."

"If I thought so," said Le Balafre, "I would cut his throat with my own
hand, were he fifty times my sister's son."

"But you would first inquire whether I deserved to be so treated, fair
kinsman?" answered Quentin; "and you, my lord, know that I am no tale
bearer; nor shall either question or torture draw out of me a word to
King Louis's prejudice, which may have come to my knowledge while I was
in his service.--So far my oath of duty keeps me silent. But I will not
remain in that services in which, besides the perils of fair battle with
mine enemies, I am to be exposed to the dangers of ambuscade on the part
of my friends."

"Nay, if he objects to lying in ambuscade," said the slow witted Le
Balafre, looking sorrowfully at the Lord Crawford, "I am afraid, my
lord, that all is over with him! I myself have had thirty bushments
break upon me, and truly I think I have laid in ambuscade twice as often
myself, it being a favourite practice in our King's mode of making war."

"It is so indeed, Ludovic," answered Lord Crawford; "nevertheless, hold
your peace, for I believe I understand this gear better than you do."

"I wish to Our Lady you may, my lord," answered Ludovic; "but it
wounds me to the very midriff, to think my sister's son should fear an
ambushment."

"Young man," said Crawford, "I partly guess your meaning. You have met
foul play on the road where you travelled by the King's command, and you
think you have reason to charge him with being the author of it."

"I have been threatened with foul play in the execution of the King's
commission," answered Quentin; "but I have had the good fortune to elude
it--whether his Majesty be innocent or guilty in the matter, I leave to
God and his own conscience. He fed me when I was a-hungered--received me
when I was a wandering stranger. I will never load him in his adversity
with accusations which may indeed be unjust, since I heard them only
from the vilest mouths."

"My dear boy--my own lad!" said Crawford, taking him in his arms.--"Ye
think like a Scot, every joint of you! Like one that will forget a cause
of quarrel with a friend whose back is already at the wall, and remember
nothing of him but his kindness."

"Since my Lord Crawford has embraced my nephew," said Ludovic Lesly,
"I will embrace him also--though I would have you to know that to
understand the service of an ambushment is as necessary to a soldier as
it is to a priest to be able to read his breviary."

"Be hushed, Ludovic," said Crawford; "ye are an ass, my friend, and ken
not the blessing Heaven has sent you in this braw callant.--And now tell
me, Quentin, my man, hath the King any advice of this brave, Christian,
and manly resolution of yours, for, poor man, he had need, in his
strait, to ken what he has to reckon upon. Had he but brought the whole
brigade of Guards with him!--But God's will be done.--Kens he of your
purpose, think you?"

"I really can hardly tell," answered Quentin; "but I assured his learned
Astrologer, Martius Galeotti, of my resolution to be silent on all that
could injure the King with the Duke of Burgundy. The particulars which
I suspect, I will not (under your favour) communicate even to your
lordship; and to the philosopher I was, of course, far less willing to
unfold myself."

"Ha!--ay!" answered Lord Crawford.--"Oliver did indeed tell me that
Galeotti prophesied most stoutly concerning the line of conduct you were
to hold; and I am truly glad to find he did so on better authority than
the stars."

"He prophesy!" said Le Balafre, laughing; "the stars never told him that
honest Ludovic Lesly used to help yonder wench of his to spend the fair
ducats he flings into her lap."

"Hush! Ludovic," said his captain, "hush! thou beast, man!--If thou
dost not respect my gray hairs, because I have been e'en too much of a
routier myself, respect the boy's youth and innocence, and let us have
no more of such unbecoming daffing."

"Your honour may say your pleasure," answered' Ludovic Lesly; "but, by
my faith, second sighted Saunders Souplesaw, the town souter of Glen
Houlakin, was worth Galeotti, or Gallipotty, or whatever ye call him,
twice told, for a prophet. He foretold that all my sister's children,
would die some day; and he foretold it in the very hour that the
youngest was born, and that is this lad Quentin--who, no doubt, will one
day die, to make up the prophecy--the more's the pity--the whole curney
of them is gone but himself. And Saunders foretold to myself one day,
that I should be made by marriage, which doubtless will also happen in
due time, though it hath not yet come to pass--though how or when, I can
hardly guess, as I care not myself for the wedded state, and Quentin is
but a lad. Also, Saunders predicted--"

"Nay," said Lord Crawford, "unless the prediction be singularly to the
purpose, I must cut you short, my good Ludovic; for both you and I must
now leave your nephew, with prayers to Our Lady to strengthen him in the
good mind he is in; for this is a case in which a light word might do
more mischief than all the Parliament of Paris could mend. My blessing
with you, my lad; and be in no hurry to think of leaving our body;
for there will be good blows going presently in the eye of day, and no
ambuscade."

"And my blessing, too, nephew," said Ludovic Lesly; "for, since you
have satisfied our most noble captain, I also am satisfied, as in duty
bound."

"Stay, my lord," said Quentin, and led Lord Crawford a little apart from
his uncle. "I must not forget to mention that there is a person besides
in the world, who, having learned from me these circumstances, which it
is essential to King Louis's safety should at present remain concealed,
may not think that the same obligation of secrecy, which attaches to me
as the King's soldier, and as having been relieved by his bounty, is at
all binding on her."

"On her!" replied Crawford; "nay, if there be a woman in the secret, the
Lord have mercy, for we are all on the rocks again!"

"Do not suppose so, my lord," replied Durward, "but use your interest
with the Count of Crevecoeur to permit me an interview with the Countess
Isabelle of Croye, who is the party possessed of my secret, and I doubt
not that I can persuade her to be as silent as I shall unquestionably
myself remain, concerning whatever may incense the Duke against King
Louis."

The old soldier mused for a long time--looked up to the ceiling, then
down again upon the floor--then shook his head--and at length said,
"There is something in all this, which, by my honour, I do not
understand. The Countess Isabelle of Croye!--an interview with a lady
of her birth, blood, and possessions!--and thou a raw Scottish lad,
so certain of carrying thy point with her? Thou art either strangely
confident, my young friend, or else you have used your time well upon
the journey. But, by the cross of Saint Andrew, I will move Crevecoeur
in thy behalf; and, as he truly fears that Duke Charles may be provoked
against the King to the extremity of falling foul, I think it likely he
may grant thy request, though, by my honour, it is a comical one!"

So saying, and shrugging up his shoulders, the old Lord left the
apartment, followed by Ludovic Lesly, who, forming his looks on those of
his principal, endeavoured, though knowing nothing of the cause of his
wonder, to look as mysterious and important as Crawford himself.

In a few minutes Crawford returned, but without his attendant, Le
Balafre. The old man seemed in singular humour, laughing and chuckling
to himself in a manner which strangely distorted his stern and rigid
features, and at the same time shaking his head, as at something which
he could not help condemning, while he found it irresistibly ludicrous.
"My certes, countryman," said he, "but you are not blate--you will never
lose fair lady for faint heart! Crevecoeur swallowed your proposal as
he would have done a cup of vinegar, and swore to me roundly, by all the
saints in Burgundy, that were less than the honour of princes and the
peace of kingdoms at stake, you should never see even so much as the
print of the Countess Isabelle's foot on the clay. Were it not that he
had a dame, and a fair one, I would have thought that he meant to break
a lance for the prize himself. Perhaps he thinks of his nephew, the
County Stephen. A Countess!--would no less serve you to be minting
at?--But come along--your interview with her must be brief.--But I fancy
you know how to make the most of little time--ho! ho! ho!--By my faith,
I can hardly chide thee for the presumption, I have such a good will to
laugh at it!"

With a brow like scarlet, at once offended and disconcerted by the blunt
inferences of the old soldier, and vexed at beholding in what an absurd
light his passion was viewed by every person of experience, Durward
followed Lord Crawford in silence to the Ursuline convent, in which the
Countess was lodged, and in the parlour of which he found the Count de
Crevecoeur.

"So, young gallant," said the latter sternly, "you must see the fair
companion of your romantic expedition once more, it seems."

"Yes, my Lord Count," answered Quentin firmly, "and what is more, I must
see her alone."

"That shall never be," said the Count de Crevecoeur.--"Lord Crawford,
I make you judge. This young lady, the daughter of my old friend and
companion in arms, the richest heiress in Burgundy, has confessed a sort
of a--what was I going to say?--in short, she is a fool, and your man
at arms here a presumptuous coxcomb.--In a word, they shall not meet
alone."

"Then will I not speak a single word to the Countess in your presence,"
said Quentin, much delighted. "You have told me much that I did not
dare, presumptuous as I may be, even to hope."

"Ay, truly said, my friend," said Crawford. "You have been imprudent
in your communications; and, since you refer to me, and there is a good
stout grating across the parlour, I would advise you to trust to it, and
let them do the worst with their tongues. What, man! the life of a King,
and many thousands besides, is not to be weighed with the chance of two
young things whilly whawing in ilk other's ears for a minute."

So saying, he dragged off Crevecoeur, who followed very reluctantly, and
cast many angry glances at the young Archer as he left the room.

In a moment after, the Countess Isabelle entered on the other side of
the grate, and no sooner saw Quentin alone in the parlour, than she
stopped short, and cast her eyes on the ground for the space of half a
minute. "Yet why should I be ungrateful," she said, "because others are
unjustly suspicious?--My friend--my preserver, I may almost say, so much
have I been beset by treachery, my only faithful and constant friend!"

As she spoke thus, she extended her hand to him through the grate,
nay, suffered him to retain it until he had covered it with kisses,
not unmingled with tears. She only said, "Durward, were we ever to meet
again, I would not permit this folly."

If it be considered that Quentin had guided her through so many
perils--that he had been, in truth, her only faithful and zealous
protector, perhaps my fair readers, even if countesses and heiresses
should be of the number, will pardon the derogation.

But the Countess extricated her hand at length, and stepping a pace back
from the grate, asked Durward, in a very embarrassed tone, what boon he
had to ask of her?--"For that you have a request to make, I have learned
from the old Scottish Lord, who came here but now with my cousin of
Crevecoeur. Let it be but reasonable," she said, "but such as poor
Isabelle can grant with duty and honour uninfringed, and you cannot
tax my slender powers too highly. But, oh! do not speak hastily--do not
say," she added, looking around with timidity, "aught that might, if
overheard, do prejudice to us both!"

"Fear not, noble lady," said Quentin sorrowfully; "it is not here that I
can forget the distance which fate has placed between us, or expose you
to the censures of your proud kindred, as the object of the most devoted
love to one, poorer and less powerful--not perhaps less noble--than
themselves. Let that pass like a dream of the night to all but one
bosom, where, dream as it is, it will fill up the room of all existing
realities."

"Hush! hush!" said Isabelle "for your own sake--for mine--be silent on
such a theme. Tell me rather what it is you have to ask of me."

"Forgiveness to one," replied Quentin, "who, for his own selfish views,
hath conducted himself as your enemy."

"I trust I forgive all my enemies," answered Isabelle; "but oh, Durward!
through what scenes have your courage and presence of mind protected
me!--Yonder bloody hall--the good Bishop--I knew not till yesterday half
the horrors I had unconsciously witnessed!"

"Do not think on them," said Quentin, who saw the transient colour which
had come to her cheek during their conference fast fading into the most
deadly paleness.--"Do not look back, but look steadily forward, as
they needs must who walk in a perilous road. Hearken to me. King
Louis deserves nothing better at your hand, of all others; than to be
proclaimed the wily and insidious politician which he really is. But to
tax him as the encourager of your flight--still more as the author of
a plan to throw you into the hands of De la Marck--will at this moment
produce perhaps the King's death or dethronement; and, at all events,
the most bloody war between France and Burgundy which the two countries
have ever been engaged in."

"These evils shall not arrive for my sake, if they can be prevented,"
said the Countess Isabelle; "and indeed your slightest request were
enough to make me forego my revenge, were that at any time a passion
which I deeply cherish. Is it possible I would rather remember King
Louis's injuries than your invaluable services?--Yet how is this to
be?--When I am called before my Sovereign, the Duke of Burgundy, I must
either stand silent or speak the truth. The former would be contumacy;
and to a false tale you will not desire me to train my tongue."

"Surely not," said Durward; "but let your evidence concerning Louis be
confined to what you yourself positively know to be truth; and when you
mention what others have reported, no matter how credibly, let it be as
reports only, and beware of pledging your own personal evidence to that,
which, though you may fully believe, you cannot personally know to be
true. The assembled Council of Burgundy cannot refuse to a monarch the
justice which in my country is rendered to the meanest person under
accusation. They must esteem him innocent, until direct and sufficient
proof shall demonstrate his guilt. Now, what does not consist with your
own certain knowledge, should be proved by other evidence than your
report from hearsay."

"I think I understand you," said the Countess Isabelle.

"I will make my meaning plainer," said Quentin; and was illustrating it
accordingly by more than one instance when the convent bell tolled.

"That," said the Countess, "is a signal that we must part--part for
ever!--But do not forget me, Durward; I will never forget you--your
faithful services--"

She could not speak more, but again extended her hand, which was again
pressed to his lips; and I know not how it was, that, in endeavouring
to withdraw her hand, the Countess came so close to the grating that
Quentin was encouraged to press the adieu on her lips. The young
lady did not chide him--perhaps there was no time; for Crevecoeur and
Crawford, who had been from some loophole eye witnesses if not ear
witnesses, also, of what was passing, rushed into the apartment, the
first in a towering passion, the latter laughing, and holding the Count
back.

"To your chamber, young mistress--to your chamber!" exclaimed the Count
to Isabelle, who, flinging down her veil, retired in all haste--"which
should be exchanged for a cell, and bread and water.--And you, gentle
sir, who are so malapert, the time will come when the interests of kings
and kingdoms may not be connected with such as you are; and you shall
then learn the penalty of your audacity in raising your beggarly eyes--"

"Hush! hush!--enough said--rein up--rein up," said the old Lord
"and you, Quentin, I command you to be silent, and begone to your
quarters.--There is no such room for so much scorn, neither, Sir Count
of Crevecoeur, that I must say now he is out of hearing.--Quentin
Durward is as much a gentleman as the King, only, as the Spaniard says,
not so rich. He is as noble as myself, and I am chief of my name. Tush,
tush! man, you must not speak to us of penalties."

"My lord, my lord," said Crevecoeur impatiently, "the insolence of these
foreign mercenaries is proverbial, and should receive rather rebuke than
encouragement from you, who are their leader."

"My Lord Count," answered Crawford, "I have ordered my command for these
fifty years without advice either from Frenchman or Burgundian; and I
intend to do so, under your favour, so long as I shall continue to hold
it."

"Well, well, my lord," said Crevecoeur, "I meant you no disrespect; your
nobleness, as well as your age, entitle you to be privileged in your
impatience; and for these young people. I am satisfied to overlook the
past, since I will take care that they never meet again."

"Do not take that upon your salvation, Crevecoeur," said the old Lord,
laughing; "mountains, it is said, may meet, and why not mortal creatures
that have legs, and life and love to put those legs in motion? Yon kiss,
Crevecoeur, came tenderly off--methinks it was ominous."

"You are striving again to disturb my patience," said Crevecoeur, "but I
will not give you that advantage over me.---Hark! they toll the summons
to the Castle--an awful meeting, of which God only can foretell the
issue."

"This issue I can foretell," said the old Scottish lord, "that if
violence is to be offered to the person of the King, few as his friends
are, and surrounded by his shall neither fall alone nor unavenged;
and grieved I am that his own positive orders have prevented my taking
measures to prepare for such an issue."

"My Lord of Crawford," said the Burgundian, "to anticipate such evil
is the sure way to give occasion to it. Obey the orders of your royal
master, and give no pretext for violence by taking hasty offence, and
you will find that the day will pass over more smoothly than you now
conjecture."



CHAPTER XXXII: THE INVESTIGATION

     Me rather had my heart might feel your love,
     Than my displeased eye see your courtesy.
     Up, cousin, up--your heart is up, I know,
     Thus high at least--although your knee--

     KING RICHARD II


At the first toll of the bell which was to summon the great nobles of
Burgundy together in council, with the very few French peers who could
be present on the occasion, Duke Charles, followed by a part of his
train, armed with partisans and battle axes, entered the Hall of
Herbert's Tower, in the Castle of Peronne. King Louis, who had expected
the visit, arose and made two steps towards the Duke, and then remained
standing with an air of dignity, which, in spite of the meanness of his
dress, and the familiarity of his ordinary manners, he knew very well
how to assume when he judged it necessary. Upon the present important
crisis, the composure of his demeanour had an evident effect upon his
rival, who changed the abrupt and hasty step with which he entered the
apartment into one more becoming a great vassal entering the presence
of his Lord Paramount. Apparently the Duke had formed the internal
resolution to treat Louis, in the outset at least, with the formalities
due to his high station; but at the same time it was evident, that, in
doing so, he put no small constraint upon the fiery impatience of
his own disposition, and was scarce able to control the feelings of
resentment and the thirst of revenge which boiled in his bosom. Hence,
though he compelled himself to use the outward acts, and in some degree
the language, of courtesy and reverence, his colour came and went
rapidly--his voice was abrupt, hoarse, and broken--his limbs shook, as
if impatient of the curb imposed on his motions--he frowned and bit his
lip until the blood came--and every look and movement showed that the
most passionate prince who ever lived was under the dominion of one of
his most violent paroxysms of fury.

The King marked this war of passion with a calm and untroubled eye, for,
though he gathered from the Duke's looks a foretaste of the bitterness
of death, which he dreaded alike as a mortal and a sinful man, yet he
was resolved, like a wary and skilful pilot, neither to suffer himself
to be disconcerted by his own fears, nor to abandon the helm, while
there was a chance of saving the vessel by adroit pilotage. Therefore,
when the Duke, in a hoarse and broken tone, said something of the
scarcity of his accommodations, he answered with a smile that he
could not complain, since he had as yet found Herbert's Tower a better
residence than it had proved to one of his ancestors.

"They told you the tradition then?" said Charles.

"Yes--here he was slain--but it was because he refused to take the cowl,
and finish his days in a monastery."

"The more fool he," said Louis, affecting unconcern, "since he gained
the torment of being a martyr, without the merit of being a saint."

"I come," said the Duke, "to pray your Majesty to attend a high council
at which tidings of weight are to be deliberated upon concerning the
welfare of France and Burgundy. You will presently meet them--that is,
if such be your pleasure."

"Nay, my fair cousin," said the King, "never strain courtesy so far as
to entreat what you may so boldly command.--To council, since such is
your Grace's pleasure. We are somewhat shorn of our train," he added,
looking upon the small suite that arranged themselves to attend him,
"but you, cousin, must shine out for us both."

Marshalled by Toison d'Or, chief of the heralds of Burgundy, the Princes
left the Earl Herbert's Tower, and entered the castle yard, which
Louis observed was filled with the Duke's bodyguard and men at arms,
splendidly accoutred, and drawn up in martial array. Crossing the court,
they entered the Council Hall, which was in a much more modern part of
the building than that of which Louis had been the tenant, and, though
in disrepair, had been hastily arranged for the solemnity of a public
council. Two chairs of state were erected under the same canopy, that
for the King being raised two steps higher than the one which the Duke
was to occupy; about twenty of the chief nobility sat, arranged in due
order, on either hand of the chair of state; and thus, when both the
Princes were seated, the person for whose trial, as it might be called,
the council was summoned, held the highest place, and appeared to
preside in it.

It was perhaps to get rid of this inconsistency, and the scruples which
might have been inspired by it, that Duke Charles, having bowed slightly
to the royal chair, bluntly opened the sitting with the following
words--

"My good vassals and councillors, it is not unknown to you what
disturbances have arisen in our territories, both in our father's time
and in our own, from the rebellion of vassals against superiors, and
subjects against their princes. And lately we have had the most dreadful
proof of the height to which these evils have arrived in our case, by
the scandalous flight of the Countess Isabelle of Croye, and her
aunt the Lady Hameline, to take refuge with a foreign power, thereby
renouncing their fealty to us, and inferring the forfeiture of their
fiefs; and in another more dreadful and deplorable instance, by the
sacrilegious and bloody murder of our beloved brother and ally, the
Bishop of Liege, and the rebellion of that treacherous city, which was
but too mildly punished for the last insurrection. We have been informed
that these sad events may be traced, not merely to the inconstancy and
folly of women, and the presumption of pampered citizens, but to the
agency of foreign power, and the interference of a mighty neighbour,
from whom, if good deeds could merit any return in kind, Burgundy could
have expected nothing but the most sincere and devoted friendship. If
this should prove truth," said the Duke, setting his teeth and pressing
his heel against the ground, "what consideration shall withhold
us--the means being in our power--from taking such measures as shall
effectually, and at the very source, close up the main spring from which
these evils have yearly flowed on us?"

The Duke had begun his speech with some calmness, but he elevated his
voice at the conclusion; and the last sentence was spoken in a tone
which made all the councillors tremble, and brought a transient fit of
paleness across the King's cheek. He instantly recalled his courage,
however, and addressed the council in his turn in a tone evincing so
much ease and composure that the Duke, though he seemed desirous to
interrupt or stop him, found no decent opportunity to do so.

"Nobles of France and of Burgundy," he said, "Knights of the Holy
Spirit and of the Golden Fleece! Since a King must plead his cause as
an accused person he cannot desire more distinguished judges than the
flower of nobleness and muster and pride of chivalry. Our fair cousin
of Burgundy hath but darkened the dispute between us, in so far as his
courtesy has declined to state it in precise terms. I, who have no cause
for observing such delicacy, nay, whose condition permits me not to do
so, crave leave to speak more precisely. It is to Us, my lords--to
Us, his liege lord, his kinsman, his ally, that unhappy circumstances,
perverting our cousins's clear judgment and better nature, have induced
him to apply the hateful charges of seducing his vassals from their
allegiance, stirring up the people of Liege to revolt, and stimulating
the outlawed William de la Marck to commit a most cruel and sacrilegious
murder. Nobles of France and Burgundy, I might truly appeal to the
circumstances in which I now stand, as being in themselves a complete
contradiction of such an accusation, for is it to be supposed that,
having the sense of a rational being left me, I should have thrown
myself unreservedly into the power of the Duke of Burgundy while I
was practising treachery against him such as could not fail to be
discovered, and which being discovered, must place me, as I now stand,
in the power of a justly exasperated prince? The folly of one who should
seat himself quietly down to repose on a mine, after he had lighted
the match which was to cause instant explosion, would have been wisdom
compared to mine. I have no doubt that, amongst the perpetrators of
those horrible treasons at Schonwaldt, villains have been busy with my
name--but am I to be answerable, who have given them no right to use
it?--If two silly women, disgusted on account of some romantic cause of
displeasure, sought refuge at my Court, does it follow that they did
so by my direction?--It will be found, when inquired into, that, since
honour and chivalry forbade my sending them back prisoners to the Court
of Burgundy--which, I think, gentlemen, no one who wears the collar of
these Orders would suggest--that I came as nearly as possible to the
same point by placing them in the hands of the venerable father in God,
who is now a saint in Heaven."

Here Louis seemed much affected and pressed his kerchief to his eyes.
"In the hands, I say, of a member of my own family, and still more
closely united with that of Burgundy, whose situation, exalted condition
in the church, and, alas! whose numerous virtues qualified him to be
the protector of these unhappy wanderers for a little while, and the
mediator betwixt them and their liege lord. I say, therefore, the only
circumstances which seem, in my brother of Burgundy's hasty view of this
subject, to argue unworthy suspicions against me, are such as can
be explained on the fairest and most honourable motives; and I say,
moreover, that no one particle of credible evidence can be brought to
support the injurious charges which have induced my brother to alter
his friendly looks towards one who came to him in full confidence of
friendship--have caused him to turn his festive hall into a court of
justice, and his hospitable apartments into a prison."

"My lord, my lord," said Charles, breaking in as soon as the King
paused, "for your being here at a time so unluckily coinciding with the
execution of your projects, I can only account by supposing that those
who make it their trade to impose on others do sometimes egregiously
delude themselves. The engineer is sometimes killed by the springing of
his own petard.--For what is to follow, let it depend on the event of
this solemn inquiry.--Bring hither the Countess Isabelle of Croye."

As the young lady was introduced, supported on the one side by the
Countess of Crevecoeur, who had her husband's commands to that effect,
and on the other by the Abbess of the Ursuline convent, Charles
exclaimed, with his usual harshness of voice and manner, "So! sweet
Princess--you, who could scarce find breath to answer us when we last
laid our just and reasonable commands on you, yet have had wind enough
to run as long a course as ever did hunted doe--what think you of
the fair work you have made between two great Princes, and two mighty
countries, that have been like to go to war for your baby face?"

The publicity of the scene and the violence of Charles's manner totally
overcame the resolution which Isabelle had formed of throwing herself at
the Duke's feet and imploring him to take possession of her estates,
and permit her to retire into a cloister. She stood motionless, like a
terrified female in a storm, who hears the thunder roll on every side of
her, and apprehends in every fresh peal the bolt which is to strike her
dead. The Countess of Crevecoeur, a woman of spirit equal to her birth
and to the beauty which she preserved even in her matronly years, judged
it necessary to interfere.

"My Lord Duke," she said, "my fair cousin is under my protection. I know
better than your Grace how women should be treated, and we will leave
this presence instantly, unless you use a tone and language more
suitable to our rank and sex."

The Duke burst out into a laugh. "Crevecoeur," he said, "thy tameness
hath made a lordly dame of thy Countess; but that is no affair of mine.
Give a seat to yonder simple girl, to whom, so far from feeling enmity,
I design the highest grace and honour.--Sit down, mistress, and tell
us at your leisure what fiend possessed you to fly from your native
country, and embrace the trade of a damsel adventurous."

With much pain, and not without several interruptions, Isabelle
confessed that, being absolutely determined against a match proposed
to her by the Duke of Burgundy, she had indulged the hope of obtaining
protection of the Court of France.

"And under protection of the French Monarch," said Charles. "Of that,
doubtless, you were well assured?"

"I did indeed so think myself assured," said the Countess Isabelle,
"otherwise I had not taken a step so decided."

Here Charles looked upon Louis with a smile of inexpressible bitterness,
which the King supported with the utmost firmness, except that his lip
grew something whiter than it was wont to be.

"But my information concerning King Louis's intentions towards us,"
continued the Countess, after a short pause, "was almost entirely
derived from my unhappy aunt, the Lady Hameline, and her opinions were
formed upon the assertions and insinuations of persons whom I have since
discovered to be the vilest traitors and most faithless wretches in the
world."

She then stated, in brief terms, what she had since come to learn of
the treachery of Marthon, and of Hayraddin Maugrabin, and added that
she "entertained no doubt that the elder Maugrabin, called Zamet,
the original adviser of their flight, was capable of every species of
treachery, as well as of assuming the character of an agent of Louis
without authority."

There was a pause while the Countess had continued her story, which she
prosecuted, though very briefly, from the time she left the territories
of Burgundy, in company with her aunt, until the storming of Schonwaldt,
and her final surrender to the Count of Crevecoeur. All remained mute
after she had finished her brief and broken narrative, and the Duke of
Burgundy bent his fierce dark eyes on the ground, like one who seeks for
a pretext to indulge his passion, but finds none sufficiently plausible
to justify himself in his own eyes.

"The mole," he said at length, looking upwards, "winds not his dark
subterranean path beneath our feet the less certainly that we, though
conscious of his motions, cannot absolutely trace them. Yet I would know
of King Louis wherefore he maintained these ladies at his Court, had
they not gone thither by his own invitation."

"I did not so entertain them, fair cousin," answered the King. "Out
of compassion, indeed, I received them in privacy, but took an early
opportunity of placing them under the protection of the late excellent
Bishop, your own ally, and who was (may God assoil him!) a better judge
than I, or any secular prince, how to reconcile the protection due
to fugitives with the duty which a king owes to his ally, from whose
dominions they have fled. I boldly ask this young lady whether my
reception of them was cordial, or whether it was not, on the contrary,
such as made them express regret that they had made my Court their place
of refuge?"

"So much was it otherwise than cordial," answered the Countess, "that it
induced me, at least, to doubt how far it was possible that your Majesty
should have actually given the invitation of which we had been assured,
by those who called themselves your agents, since, supposing them to
have proceeded only as they were duly authorized, it would have been
hard to reconcile your Majesty's conduct with that to be expected from a
king, a knight, and a gentleman."

The Countess turned her eyes to the King as she spoke, with a look which
was probably intended as a reproach, but the breast of Louis was armed
against all such artillery. On the contrary, waving slowly his expanded
hands, and looking around the circle, he seemed to make a triumphant
appeal to all present, upon the testimony borne to his innocence in the
Countess's reply.

Burgundy, meanwhile, cast on him a look which seemed to say, that if in
some degree silenced, he was as far as ever from being satisfied, and
then said abruptly to the Countess, "Methinks, fair mistress, in this
account of your wanderings, you have forgot all mention of certain love
passages.--So, ho, blushing already?--Certain knights of the forest,
by whom your quiet was for a time interrupted. Well--that incident hath
come to our ear, and something we may presently form out of it.--Tell
me, King Louis, were it not well, before this vagrant Helen of Troy [the
wife of Menelaus. She was carried to Troy by Paris, and thus was the
cause of the Trojan War], or of Croye, set more Kings by the ears, were
it not well to carve out a fitting match for her?"

King Louis, though conscious what ungrateful proposal was likely to be
made next, gave a calm and silent assent to what Charles said; but the
Countess herself was restored to courage by the very extremity of her
situation. She quitted the arm of the Countess of Crevecoeur, on which
she had hitherto leaned, came forward timidly, yet with an air of
dignity, and kneeling before the Duke's throne, thus addressed him
"Noble Duke of Burgundy, and my liege lord, I acknowledge my fault
in having withdrawn myself from your dominions without your gracious
permission, and will most humbly acquiesce in any penalty you are
pleased to impose. I place my lands and castles at your rightful
disposal, and pray you only of your own bounty, and for the sake of my
memory, to allow the last of the line of Croye, out of her large estate,
such a moderate maintenance as may find her admission into a convent for
the remainder of her life."

"What think you, Sire, of the young person's petition to us," said the
Duke, addressing Louis.

"As of a holy and humble motion," said the King, "which doubtless comes
from that grace which ought not to be resisted or withstood."

"The humble and lowly shall be exalted," said Charles. "Arise, Countess
Isabelle--we mean better for you than you have devised for yourself.
We mean neither to sequestrate your estates, nor to abase your honours,
but, on the contrary, will add largely to both."

"Alas! my lord," said the Countess, continuing on her knees, "it is
even that well meant goodness which I fear still more than your Grace's
displeasure, since it compels me--"

"Saint George of Burgundy!" said Duke Charles, "is our will to be
thwarted, and our commands disputed, at every turn? Up, I say, minion,
and withdraw for the present--when we have time to think of thee, we
will so order matters that, Teste Saint Gris! you shall either obey us,
or do worse."

Notwithstanding this stern answer, the Countess Isabelle remained at
his feet, and would probably, by her pertinacity, have driven him to
say upon the spot something yet more severe, had not the Countess of
Crevecoeur, who better knew that Prince's humour, interfered to raise
her young friend, and to conduct her from the hall.

Quentin Durward was now summoned to appear, and presented himself before
the King and Duke with that freedom, distant alike from bashful reserve
and intrusive boldness, which becomes a youth at once well born and
well nurtured, who gives honour where it is due but without permitting
himself to be dazzled or confused by the presence of those to whom it
is to be rendered. His uncle had furnished him with the means of again
equipping himself in the arms and dress of an Archer of the Scottish
Guard, and his complexion, mien, and air suited in an uncommon degree
his splendid appearance. His extreme youth, too, prepossessed the
councillors in his favour, the rather that no one could easily believe
that the sagacious Louis would have chosen so very young a person to
become the confidant of political intrigues; and thus the King enjoyed,
in this, as in other cases, considerable advantage from his singular
choice of agents, both as to age and rank, where such election seemed
least likely to be made. At the command of the Duke, sanctioned by that
of Louis, Quentin commenced an account of his journey with the Ladies
of Croye to the neighbourhood of Liege, premising a statement of King
Louis's instructions, which were that he should escort them safely to
the castle of the Bishop.

"And you obeyed my orders accordingly," said the King.

"I did, Sire," replied the Scot.

"You omit a circumstance," said the Duke. "You were set upon in the
forest by two wandering knights."

"It does not become me to remember or to proclaim such an incident,"
said the youth, blushing ingenuously.

"But it doth not become me to forget it," said the Duke of Orleans.
"This youth discharged his commission manfully, and maintained his trust
in a manner that I shall long remember.--Come to my apartment, Archer,
when this matter is over, and thou shalt find I have not forgot thy
brave bearing, while I am glad to see it is equalled by thy modesty."

"And come to mine," said Dunois. "I have a helmet for thee, since I
think I owe thee one."

Quentin bowed low to both, and the examination was resumed. At the
command of Duke Charles he produced the written instructions which he
had received for the direction of his journey.

"Did you follow these instructions literally, soldier?" said the Duke.

"No; if it please your Grace," replied Quentin. "They directed me, as
you may be pleased to observe, to cross the Maes near Namur; whereas
I kept the left bank, as being both the nigher and the safer road to
Liege."

"And wherefore that alteration?" said the Duke.

"Because I began to suspect the fidelity of my guide," answered Quentin.

"Now mark the questions I have next to ask thee," said the Duke. "Reply
truly to them, and fear nothing from the resentment of any one. But if
you palter or double in your answers I will have thee hung alive in an
iron chain from the steeple of the market house, where thou shalt wish
for death for many an hour ere he come to relieve you!"

There was a deep silence ensued. At length, having given the youth time,
as he thought, to consider the circumstances in which he was placed, the
Duke demanded to know of Durward who his guide was, by whom supplied,
and wherefore he had been led to entertain suspicion of him. To the
first of these questions Quentin Durward answered by naming Hayraddin
Maugrabin, the Bohemian; to the second, that the guide had been
recommended by Tristan l'Hermite; and in reply to the third point he
mentioned what had happened in the Franciscan convent near Namur, how
the Bohemian had been expelled from the holy house, and how, jealous of
his behaviour, he had dogged him to a rendezvous with one of William
de la Marck's lanzknechts, where he overheard them arrange a plan for
surprising the ladies who were under his protection.

"Now, hark," said the Duke, "and once more remember thy life depends
on thy veracity, did these villains mention their having this King's--I
mean this very King Louis of France's authority for their scheme of
surprising the escort and carrying away the ladies?"

"If such infamous fellows had said," replied Quentin, "I know not how I
should have believed them, having the word of the King himself to place
in opposition to theirs."

Louis, who had listened hitherto with most earnest attention, could not
help drawing his breath deeply when he heard Durward's answer, in the
manner of one from whose bosom a heavy weight has been at once removed.
The Duke again looked disconcerted and moody, and, returning to the
charge, questioned Quentin still more closely, whether he did not
understand, from these men's private conversation, that the plots which
they meditated had King Louis's sanction?

"I repeat that I heard nothing which could authorize me to say so,"
answered the young man, who, though internally convinced of the King's
accession to the treachery of Hayraddin, yet held it contrary to his
allegiance to bring forward his own suspicions on the subject; "and if I
had heard such men make such an assertion, I again say that I would not
have given their testimony weight against the instructions of the King
himself."

"Thou art a faithful messenger," said the Duke, with a sneer, "and
I venture to say that, in obeying the King's instructions, thou hast
disappointed his expectations in a manner that thou mightst have smarted
for, but that subsequent events have made thy bull headed fidelity seem
like good service."

"I understand you not, my lord," said Quentin Durward, "all I know is
that my master King Louis sent me to protect these ladies, and that I
did so accordingly, to the extent of my ability, both in the journey
to Schonwaldt, and through the subsequent scenes which took place. I
understood the instructions of the King to be honourable, and I executed
them honourably; had they been of a different tenor, they would not have
suited one of my name or nation."

"Fier comme an Ecossois," said Charles, who, however disappointed at
the tenor of Durward's reply, was not unjust enough to blame him for
his boldness. "But hark thee, Archer, what instructions were those
which made thee, as some sad fugitives from Schonwaldt have informed
us, parade the streets of Liege, at the head of those mutineers, who
afterwards cruelly murdered their temporal Prince and spiritual Father?
And what harangue was it which thou didst make after that murder was
committed, in which you took upon you, as agent for Louis, to assume
authority among the villains who had just perpetrated so great a crime?"

"My lord," said Quentin, "there are many who could testify that I
assumed not the character of an envoy of France in the town of Liege,
but had it fixed upon me by the obstinate clamours of the people
themselves, who refused to give credit to any disclamation which I could
make. This I told to those in the service of the Bishop when I had made
my escape from the city, and recommended their attention to the security
of the Castle, which might have prevented the calamity and horror of the
succeeding night. It is, no doubt, true that I did, in the extremity of
danger, avail myself of the influence which my imputed character gave
me, to save the Countess Isabelle, to protect my own life, and, so far
as I could, to rein in the humour for slaughter, which had already broke
out in so dreadful an instance. I repeat, and will maintain it with
my body, that I had no commission of any kind from the King of France
respecting the people of Liege, far less instructions to instigate them
to mutiny; and that, finally, when I did avail myself of that imputed
character, it was as if I had snatched up a shield to protect myself in
a moment of emergency, and used it, as I should surely have done, for
the defence of myself and others, without inquiring whether I had a
right to the heraldic emblazonments which it displayed."

"And therein my young companion and prisoner," said Crevecoeur, unable
any longer to remain silent, "acted with equal spirit and good sense;
and his doing so cannot justly be imputed as blame to King Louis."

There was a murmur of assent among the surrounding nobility, which
sounded joyfully in the ears of King Louis, whilst it gave no little
offence to Charles. He rolled his eyes angrily around; and the
sentiments so generally expressed by so many of his highest vassals and
wisest councillors, would not perhaps have prevented his giving way to
his violent and despotic temper, had not De Comines, who foresaw the
danger, prevented it, by suddenly announcing a herald from the city of
Liege.

"A herald from weavers and nailers!" exclaimed the Duke. "But admit him
instantly. By Our Lady, I will learn from this same herald something
farther of his employers' hopes and projects than this young French
Scottish man at arms seems desirous to tell me!"



CHAPTER XXXIII: THE HERALD

     Ariel.--Hark! they roar.
     Prospero. Let them be hunted soundly.

     THE TEMPEST


There was room made in the assembly, and no small curiosity evinced by
those present to see the herald whom the insurgent Liegeois had ventured
to send to so haughty a Prince as the Duke of Burgundy, while in such
high indignation against them. For it must be remembered that at this
period heralds were only dispatched from sovereign princes to each
other upon solemn occasions; and that the inferior nobility employed
pursuivants, a lower rank of officers at arms. It may be also noticed,
in passing, that Louis XI, an habitual derider of whatever did not
promise real power or substantial advantage, was in especial a professed
contemner of heralds and heraldry, "red, blue, and green, with all their
trumpery," to which the pride of his rival Charles, which was of a very
different kind, attached no small degree of ceremonious importance.

The herald, who was now introduced into the presence of the monarchs,
was dressed in a tabard, or coat, embroidered with the arms of his
master, in which the Boar's Head made a distinguished appearance,
in blazonry, which in the opinion of the skilful was more showy than
accurate. The rest of his dress--a dress always sufficiently tawdry--was
overcharged with lace, embroidery, and ornament of every kind, and the
plume of feathers which he wore was so high, as if intended to sweep the
roof of the hall. In short, the usual gaudy splendour of the heraldic
attire was caricatured and overdone. The Boar's Head was not only
repeated on every part of his dress, but even his bonnet was formed into
that shape, and it was represented with gory tongue and bloody tusks, or
in proper language, langed and dentated gules, and there was something
in the man's appearance which seemed to imply a mixture of boldness and
apprehension, like one who has undertaken a dangerous commission, and
is sensible that audacity alone can carry him through it with safety.
Something of the same mixture of fear and effrontery was visible in the
manner in which he paid his respects, and he showed also a grotesque
awkwardness, not usual amongst those who were accustomed to be received
in the presence of princes.

"Who art thou, in the devil's name?" was the greeting with which Charles
the Bold received this singular envoy.

"I am Rouge Sanglier," answered the herald, "the officer at arms of
William de la Marck, by the grace of God, and the election of the
Chapter, Prince Bishop of Liege."

"Ha!" exclaimed Charles, but, as if subduing his own passion, he made a
sign to him to proceed.

"And, in right of his wife, the Honourable Countess Hameline of Croye,
Count of Croye, and Lord of Bracquemont."

The utter astonishment of Duke Charles at the extremity of boldness with
which these titles were announced in his presence seemed to strike him
dumb; and the herald conceiving, doubtless, that he had made a suitable
impression by the annunciation of his character, proceeded to state his
errand.

"Annuncio vobis gaudium magnum [I announce to you a great joy]," he
said; "I let you, Charles of Burgundy and Earl of Flanders, to know, in
my master's name, that under favour of a dispensation of our Holy Father
of Rome, presently expected, and appointing a fitting substitute ad
sacra [to the sacred office], he proposes to exercise at once the office
of Prince Bishop, and maintain the rights of Count of Croye."

The Duke of Burgundy, at this and other pauses in the herald's speech,
only ejaculated, "Ha!" or some similar interjection, without making
any answer; and the tone of exclamation was that of one who, though
surprised and moved, is willing to hear all that is to be said ere he
commits himself by making an answer. To the further astonishment of
all who were present, he forbore from his usual abrupt and violent
gesticulations, remaining with the nail of his thumb pressed against
his teeth, which was his favourite attitude when giving attention,
and keeping his eyes bent on the ground, as if unwilling to betray the
passion which might gleam in them.

The envoy, therefore, proceeded boldly and unabashed in the delivery of
his message. "In the name, therefore, of the Prince Bishop of Liege,
and Count of Croye, I am to require of you, Duke Charles, to desist from
those pretensions and encroachments which you have made on the free and
imperial city of Liege, by connivance with the late Louis of Bourbon,
unworthy Bishop thereof."

"Ha," again exclaimed the Duke.

"Also to restore the banners of the community, which you took violently
from the town, to the number of six and thirty--to rebuild the breaches
in their walls, and restore the fortifications which you tyrannically
dismantled--and to acknowledge my master, William de la Marck, as Prince
Bishop, lawfully elected in a free Chapter of Canons, of which behold
the proces verbal."

"Have you finished?" said the Duke.

"Not yet," replied the envoy. "I am farther to require your Grace,
on the part of the said right noble and venerable Prince, Bishop, and
Count, that you do presently withdraw the garrison from the Castle of
Bracquemont, and other places of strength, belonging to the Earldom of
Croye, which have been placed there, whether in your own most gracious
name, or in that of Isabelle, calling herself Countess of Croye, or any
other, until it shall be decided by the Imperial Diet whether the fiefs
in question shall not pertain to the sister of the late Count, my most
gracious Lady Hameline, rather than to his daughter, in respect of
the jus emphyteusis [a permanent tenure of land upon condition of
cultivating it properly, and paying a stipulated rent; a sort of fee
farm or copyhold]."

"Your master is most learned," replied the Duke.

"Yet," continued the herald, "the noble and venerable Prince and Count
will be disposed, all other disputes betwixt Burgundy and Liege being
settled, to fix upon the Lady Isabelle such an appanage as may become
her quality."

"He is generous and considerate," said the Duke, in the same tone.

"Now, by a poor fool's conscience," said Le Glorieux apart to the Count
of Crevecoeur, "I would rather be in the worst cow's hide that ever died
of the murrain than in that fellow's painted coat! The poor man goes
on like drunkards, who only look to the ether pot, and not to the score
which mine host chalks up behind the lattice."

"Have you yet done?" said the Duke to the herald.

"One word more," answered Rouge Sanglier, "from my noble and venerable
lord aforesaid, respecting his worthy and trusty ally, the most
Christian King."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Duke, starting, and in a fiercer tone than he had
yet used; but checking himself, he instantly composed himself again to
attention.

"Which most Christian King's royal person it is rumoured that you,
Charles of Burgundy, have placed under restraint contrary to your duty
as a vassal of the Crown of France, and to the faith observed among
Christian Sovereigns. For which reason, my said noble and venerable
master, by my mouth, charges you to put his royal and most Christian
ally forthwith at freedom, or to receive the defiance which I am
authorized to pronounce to you."

"Have you yet done?" said the Duke.

"I have," answered the herald, "and await your Grace's answer, trusting
it may be such as will save the effusion of Christian blood."

"Now, by Saint George of Burgundy!" said the Duke, but ere he could
proceed farther, Louis arose, and struck in with a tone of so much
dignity and authority that Charles could not interrupt him.

"Under your favour, fair cousin of Burgundy," said the King, "we
ourselves crave priority of voice in replying to this insolent
fellow.--Sirrah herald, or whatever thou art, carry back notice to the
perjured outlaw and murderer, William de la Marck, that the King of
France will be presently before Liege, for the purpose of punishing the
sacrilegious murderer of his late beloved kinsman, Louis of Bourbon;
and that he proposes to gibbet De la Marck alive, for the insolence of
terming himself his ally, and putting his royal name into the mouth of
one of his own base messengers."

"Add whatever else on my part," said Charles, "which it may not
misbecome a prince to send to a common thief and murderer.--And
begone!--Yet stay.--Never herald went from the Court of Burgundy without
having cause to cry, Largesse!--Let him be scourged till the bones are
laid bare."

"Nay, but if it please your Grace," said Crevecoeur and D'Hymbercourt
together, "he is a herald, and so far privileged."

"It is you, Messires," replied the Duke, "who are such owls as to think
that the tabard makes the herald. I see by that fellow's blazoning he is
a mere impostor. Let Toison d'Or step forward, and question him in your
presence."

In spite of his natural effrontery, the envoy of the Wild Boar of
Ardennes now became pale; and that notwithstanding some touches of
paint with which he had adorned his countenance. Toison d'Or, the chief
herald, as we have elsewhere said, of the Duke, and King at arms within
his dominions, stepped forward with the solemnity of one who knew what
was due to his office, and asked his supposed brother in what college he
had studied the science which he professed.

"I was bred a pursuivant at the Heraldic College of Ratisbon," answered
Rouge Sanglier, "and received the diploma of Ehrenhold [a herald] from
that same learned fraternity."

"You could not derive it from a source more worthy," answered Toison
d'Or, bowing still lower than he had done before; "and if I presume to
confer with you on the mysteries of our sublime science, in obedience to
the orders of the most gracious Duke, it is not in hopes of giving, but
of receiving knowledge."

"Go to," said the Duke impatiently. "Leave off ceremony, and ask him
some question that may try his skill."

"It were injustice to ask a disciple of the worthy College of Arms at
Ratisbon if he comprehendeth the common terms of blazonry," said Toison
d'Or, "but I may, without offence, crave of Rouge Sanglier to say if he
is instructed in the more mysterious and secret terms of the science, by
which the more learned do emblematically, and as it were parabolically,
express to each other what is conveyed to others in the ordinary
language, taught in the very accidence as it were of Heraldry."

"I understand one sort of blazonry as well as another," answered Rouge
Sanglier boldly, "but it may be we have not the same terms in Germany
which you have here in Flanders."

"Alas, that you will say so!" replied Toison d'Or. "our noble science,
which is indeed the very banner of nobleness and glory of generosity,
being the same in all Christian countries, nay, known and acknowledged
even by the Saracens and Moors. I would, therefore, pray of you to
describe what coat you will after the celestial fashion, that is, by the
planets."

"Blazon it yourself as you will," said Rouge Sanglier; "I will do no
such apish tricks upon commandment, as an ape is made to come aloft."

"Show him a coat and let him blazon it his own way," said the Duke;
"and if he fails, I promise him that his back shall be gules, azure, and
sable."

"Here," said the herald of Burgundy, taking from his pouch a piece of
parchment, "is a scroll in which certain considerations led me to
prick down, after my own poor fashion, an ancient coat. I will pray
my brother, if indeed he belong to the honourable College of Arms at
Ratisbon, to decipher it in fitting language."

Le Glorieux, who seemed to take great pleasure in this discussion, had
by this time bustled himself close up to the two heralds. "I will help
thee, good fellow," said he to Rouge Sanglier, as he looked hopelessly
upon the scroll. "This, my lords and masters, represents the cat looking
out at the dairy window."

This sally occasioned a laugh, which was something to the advantage of
Rouge Sanglier, as it led Toison d'Or, indignant at the misconstruction
of his drawing, to explain it as the coat of arms assumed by Childebert,
King of France, after he had taken prisoner Gandemar, King of Burgundy;
representing an ounce, or tiger cat, the emblem of the captive prince,
behind a grating, or, as Toison d'Or technically defined it, "Sable, a
musion [a tiger cat; a term of heraldry] passant Or, oppressed with a
trellis gules, cloue of the second."

"By my bauble," said Le Glorieux, "if the cat resemble Burgundy, she has
the right side of the grating nowadays."

"True, good fellow," said Louis, laughing, while the rest of the
presence, and even Charles himself, seemed disconcerted at so broad a
jest.

"I owe thee a piece of gold for turning some thing that looked like sad
earnest into the merry game, which I trust it will end in."

"Silence, Le Glorieux," said the Duke; "and you, Toison d'Or, who
are too learned to be intelligible, stand back--and bring that rascal
forward, some of you.--Hark ye, villain," he said in his harshest tone,
"do you know the difference between argent and or, except in the shape
of coined money?"

"For pity's sake, your Grace, be good unto me!--Noble King Louis, speak
for me!"

"Speak for thyself," said the Duke. "In a word, art thou herald or not?"

"Only for this occasion!" acknowledged the detected official.

"Now, by Saint George!" said the Duke, eyeing Louis askance, "we know
no king--no gentleman--save one, who would have so prostituted the noble
science on which royalty and gentry rest, save that King who sent to
Edward of England a serving man disguised as a herald."

[The heralds of the middle ages were regarded almost as sacred
characters. It was treasonable to strike a herald, or to counterfeit
the character of one. Yet Louis "did not hesitate to practise such an
imposition when he wished to enter into communication with Edward IV of
England.... He selected, as an agentfit for his purpose, a simple valet.
This man... he disguised as a herald, with all the insignia of his
office, and sent him in that capacity to open a communication with the
English army. The stratagem, though of so fraudulent a nature, does
not seem to have been necessarily called for, since all that King Louis
could gain by it would be that he did not commit himself by sending a
more responsible messenger. ... Ferne... imputes this intrusion on their
rights in some degree to necessity. 'I have heard some,' he says, '...
allow of the action of Louis XI who had so unknightly a regard both of
his own honour, and also of armes, that he seldom had about his court
any officer at armes. And therefore, at such time as Edward IV, King of
England,... lay before the town of Saint Quentin, the same French
King, for want of a herald to carry his mind to the English King, was
constrained to suborn a vadelict, or common serving man, with a trumpet
banner, having a hole made through the middest for this preposterous
herauld to put his head through, and to cast it over his shoulders
instead of a better coat armour of France. And thus came this hastily
arrayed courier as a counterfeit officer at armes, with instructions
from his sovereign's mouth to offer peace to our King.' Ferne's Blazen
of Gentry, 1586, p. 161.--S.]

"Such a stratagem," said Louis, laughing, or affecting to laugh, "could
only be justified at a Court where no herald were at the time, and when
the emergency was urgent. But, though it might have passed on the blunt
and thick witted islander, no one with brains a whit better than those
of a wild boar would have thought of passing such a trick upon the
accomplished Court of Burgundy."

"Send him who will," said the Duke fiercely, "he shall return on their
hands in poor case.--Here!--drag him to the market place!--slash him
with bridle reins and dog whips until the tabard hang about him in
tatters!--Upon the Rouge Sanglier!--ca, ca!--Haloo, haloo!"

Four or five large hounds, such as are painted in the hunting pieces
upon which Rubens and Schneiders laboured in conjunction, caught the
well known notes with which the Duke concluded, and began to yell and
bay as if the boar were just roused from his lair.

[Rubens (1577-1640): a great Flemish artist whose works were sought by
kings and princes. He painted the history of Marie de Medicis in the
series of colossal pictures now in the Louvre. He was knighted by Philip
IV of Spain and Charles I of England.]

[Schneiders, or Snyders: a Flemish painter of the seventeenth century.]

"By the rood!" said King Louis, observant to catch the vein of his
dangerous cousin, "since the ass has put on the boar's hide, I would set
the dogs on him to bait him out of it!"

"Right! right!" exclaimed Duke Charles, the fancy exactly chiming
in with his humour at the moment--"it shall be done!--Uncouple the
hounds!--Hyke a Talbot! [a hunter's cry to his dog. See Dame Berner's
Boke of Hawking and Hunting.] hyke a Beaumont!--We will course him from
the door of the Castle to the east gate!"

"I trust your Grace will treat me as a beast of chase," said the fellow,
putting the best face he could upon the matter, "and allow me fair law?"

"Thou art but vermin," said the Duke, "and entitled to no law, by the
letter of the book of hunting; nevertheless, thou shalt have sixty
yards in advance, were it but for the sake of thy unparalleled
impudence.--Away, away, sirs!--we will see this sport."

And the council breaking up tumultuously, all hurried, none faster
than the two Princes, to enjoy the humane pastime which King Louis had
suggested.

The Rouge Sanglier showed excellent sport; for, winged with terror,
and having half a score of fierce boar hounds hard at his haunches,
encouraged by the blowing of horns and the woodland cheer of the
hunters, he flew like the very wind, and had he not been encumbered
with his herald's coat (the worst possible habit for a runner), he might
fairly have escaped dog free; he also doubled once or twice, in a manner
much approved of by the spectators. None of these, nay, not even Charles
himself, was so delighted with the sport as King Louis, who, partly from
political considerations, and partly as being naturally pleased with the
sight of human suffering when ludicrously exhibited, laughed till the
tears ran from his eyes, and in his ecstasies of rapture caught hold of
the Duke's ermine cloak, as if to support himself; whilst the Duke, no
less delighted, flung his arm around the King's shoulder, making thus
an exhibition of confidential sympathy and familiarity, very much at
variance with the terms on which they had so lately stood together. At
length the speed of the pseudo herald could save him no longer from
the fangs of his pursuers; they seized him, pulled him down, and would
probably soon have throttled him, had not the Duke called out, "Stave
and tail!--stave and tail! [to strike the bear with a staff, and pull
off the dogs by the tail, to separate them.]--Take them off him!--He
hath shown so good a course, that, though he has made no sport at bay,
we will not have him dispatched."

Several officers accordingly busied themselves in taking off the dogs;
and they were soon seen coupling some up, and pursuing others which ran
through the streets, shaking in sport and triumph the tattered fragments
of painted cloth and embroidery rent from the tabard, which the
unfortunate wearer had put on in an unlucky hour.

At this moment, and while the Duke was too much engaged with what passed
before him to mind what was said behind him, Oliver le Dain, gliding
behind King Louis, whispered into his ear, "It is the Bohemian,
Hayraddin Maugrabin.--It were not well he should come to speech of the
Duke."

"He must die," answered Louis in the same tone, "dead men tell no
tales."

One instant afterwards, Tristan l'Hermite, to whom Oliver had given the
hint, stepped forward before the King and the Duke, and said, in his
blunt manner, "So please your Majesty and your Grace, this piece of game
is mine, and I claim him--he is marked with my stamp--the fleur de lis
is branded on his shoulder, as all men may see.--He is a known villain,
and hath slain the King's subjects, robbed churches, deflowered virgins,
slain deer in the royal parks--"

"Enough, enough," said Duke Charles, "he is my royal cousin's property
by many a good title. What will your Majesty do with him?"

"If he is left to my disposal," said the King, "I will at least give him
one lesson in the science of heraldry, in which he is so ignorant--only
explain to him practically the meaning of a cross potence, with a noose
dangling proper."

"Not as to be by him borne, but as to bear him.--Let him take the
degrees under your gossip Tristan--he is a deep professor in such
mysteries."

Thus answered the Duke, with a burst of discordant laughter at his own
wit, which was so cordially chorused by Louis that his rival could not
help looking kindly at him, while he said, "Ah, Louis, Louis! would to
God thou wert as faithful a monarch as thou art a merry companion!--I
cannot but think often on the jovial time we used to spend together."

"You may bring it back when you will," said Louis; "I will grant you
as fair terms as for very shame's sake you ought to ask in my present
condition, without making yourself the fable of Christendom; and I will
swear to observe them upon the holy relique which I have ever the grace
to bear about my person, being a fragment of the true cross."

Here he took a small golden reliquary, which was suspended from his neck
next to his shirt by a chain of the same metal, and having kissed it
devoutly, continued--"Never was false oath sworn on this most sacred
relique, but it was avenged within the year."

"Yet," said the Duke, "it was the same on which you swore amity to me
when you left Burgundy, and shortly after sent the Bastard of Rubempre
to murder or kidnap me."

"Nay, gracious cousin, now you are ripping up ancient grievances,"
said the King. "I promise you, that you were deceived in that
matter.--Moreover, it was not upon this relique which I then swore,
but upon another fragment of the true cross which I got from the Grand
Seignior, weakened in virtue, doubtless, by sojourning with infidels.
Besides, did not the war of the Public Good break out within the year;
and was not a Burgundian army encamped at Saint Denis, backed by all the
great feudatories of France; and was I not obliged to yield up Normandy
to my brother?--O God, shield us from perjury on such a warrant as
this!"

"Well, cousin," answered the Duke, "I do believe thou hadst a lesson
to keep faith another time.--And now for once, without finesse and
doubling, will you make good your promise, and go with me to punish this
murdering La Marck and the Liegeois?"

"I will march against them," said Louis, "with the Ban and Arriere
Ban of France [the military force called out by the sovereign in early
feudal times, together with their vassals, equipment, and three months'
provision], and the Oriflamme displayed."

"Nay, nay," said the Duke, "that is more than is needful, or may be
advisable. The presence of your Scottish Guard, and two hundred choice
lances, will serve to show that you are a free agent. A large army
might--"

"Make me so in effect, you would say, my fair cousin?" said the King.
"Well, you shall dictate the number of my attendants."

"And to put this fair cause of mischief out of the way, you will agree
to the Countess Isabelle of Croye's wedding with the Duke of Orleans?"

"Fair cousin," said the King, "you drive my courtesy to extremity. The
Duke is the betrothed bridegroom of my daughter Joan. Be generous--yield
up this matter, and let us speak rather of the towns on the Somme."

"My council will talk to your Majesty of these," said Charles, "I myself
have less at heart the acquisition of territory than the redress of
injuries. You have tampered with my vassals, and your royal pleasure
must needs dispose of the hand of a ward of Burgundy. Your Majesty
must bestow it within the pale of your own royal family, since you have
meddled with it--otherwise our conference breaks off."

"Were I to say I did this willingly," said the King, "no one would
believe me, therefore do you, my fair cousin, judge of the extent of
my wish to oblige you, when I say most reluctantly, that the parties
consenting, and a dispensation from the Pope being obtained, my own
objections shall be no bar to this match which you purpose."

"All besides can be easily settled by our ministers," said the Duke,
"and we are once more cousins and friends."

"May Heaven be praised!" said Louis, "who, holding in his hand the
hearts of princes, doth mercifully incline them to peace and clemency,
and prevent the effusion of human blood.

"Oliver," he added apart to that favourite, who ever waited around him
like the familiar beside a sorcerer, "hark thee--tell Tristan to be
speedy in dealing with yonder runagate Bohemian."



CHAPTER XXXIV: THE EXECUTION

     I'll take thee to the good green wood,
     And make thine own hand choose the tree.

     OLD BALLAD


"Now God be praised, that gave us the power of laughing, and making
others laugh, and shame to the dull cur who scorns the office of a
jester! Here is a joke, and that none of the brightest (though it might
pass, since it has amused two Princes), which hath gone farther than a
thousand reasons of state to prevent a war between France and Burgundy."

Such was the inference of Le Glorieux, when, in consequence of the
reconciliation of which we gave the particulars in the last chapter, the
Burgundian guards were withdrawn from the Castle of Peronne, the abode
of the King removed from the ominous Tower of Count Herbert, and, to the
great joy both of French and Burgundians, an outward show at least of
confidence and friendship seemed so established between Duke Charles
and his liege lord. Yet still the latter, though treated with ceremonial
observance, was sufficiently aware that he continued to be the object of
suspicion, though he prudently affected to overlook it, and appeared to
consider himself as entirely at his ease.

Meanwhile, as frequently happens in such cases, whilst the principal
parties concerned had so far made up their differences, one of the
subaltern agents concerned in their intrigues was bitterly experiencing
the truth of the political maxim that if the great have frequent need
of base tools, they make amends to society by abandoning them to their
fate, so soon as they find them no longer useful.

Thus was Hayraddin Maugrabin, who, surrendered by the Duke's officers
to the King's Provost Marshal, was by him placed in the hands of his two
trusty aides de camp, Trois Eschelles and Petit Andre, to be dispatched
without loss of time. One on either side of him, and followed by a few
guards and a multitude of rabble--this playing the Allegro, that the
Penseroso, [the mirthful and the serious. Cf. Milton's poems by these
names.]--he was marched off (to use a modern comparison, like Garrick
between Tragedy and Comedy) to the neighbouring forest; where, to
save all farther trouble and ceremonial of a gibbet, and so forth, the
disposers of his fate proposed to knit him up to the first sufficient
tree.

They were not long in finding an oak, as Petit Andre facetiously
expressed it, fit to bear such an acorn; and placing the wretched
criminal on a bank, under a sufficient guard, they began their
extemporaneous preparations for the final catastrophe. At that moment,
Hayraddin, gazing on the crowd, encountered the eyes of Quentin Durward,
who, thinking he recognized the countenance of his faithless guide in
that of the detected impostor, had followed with the crowd to witness
the execution, and assure himself of the identity.

When the executioners informed him that all was ready, Hayraddin, with
much calmness, asked a single boon at their hands.

"Anything, my son, consistent with our office," said Trois Eschelles.

"That is," said Hayraddin, "anything but my life."

"Even so," said Trois Eschelles, "and something more, for you seem
resolved to do credit to our mystery, and die like a man, without making
wry mouths--why, though our orders are to be prompt, I care not if I
indulge you ten minutes longer."

"You are even too generous," said Hayraddin.

"Truly we may be blamed for it," said Petit Andre, "but what of that?--I
could consent almost to give my life for such a jerry come tumble, such
a smart, tight, firm lad, who proposes to come from aloft with a grace,
as an honest fellow should."

"So that if you want a confessor--" said Trois Eschelles.

"Or a lire of wine--" said his facetious companion.

"Or a psalm--" said Tragedy.

"Or a song--" said Comedy.

"Neither, my good, kind, and most expeditious friends," said the
Bohemian. "I only pray to speak a few minutes with yonder Archer of the
Scottish Guard."

The executioners hesitated a moment; but Trois Eschelles, recollecting
that Quentin Durward was believed, from various circumstances, to stand
high in the favour of their master, King Louis, they resolved to permit
the interview.

When Quentin, at their summons, approached the condemned criminal, he
could not but be shocked at his appearance, however justly his doom
might have been deserved. The remnants of his heraldic finery, rent to
tatters by the fangs of the dogs, and the clutches of the bipeds who had
rescued him from their fury to lead him to the gallows, gave him at once
a ludicrous and a wretched appearance. His face was discoloured with
paint and with some remnants of a fictitious beard, assumed for the
purpose of disguise, and there was the paleness of death upon his cheek
and upon his lip; yet, strong in passive courage, like most of his
tribe, his eye, while it glistened and wandered, as well as the
contorted smile of his mouth, seemed to bid defiance to the death he was
about to die.

Quentin was struck, partly with horror, partly with compassion, as
he approached the miserable man; and these feelings probably betrayed
themselves in his manner, for Petit Andre called out, "Trip it more
smartly, jolly Archer.--This gentleman's leisure cannot wait for you, if
you walk as if the pebbles were eggs, and you afraid of breaking them."

"I must speak with him in privacy," said the criminal, despair seeming
to croak in his accent as he uttered the words.

"That may hardly consist with our office, my merry Leap the ladder,"
said Petit Andre, "we know you for a slippery eel of old."

"I am tied with your horse girths, hand and foot," said the criminal.
"You may keep guard around me, though out of earshot--the Archer is your
own King's servant. And if I give you ten guilders--"

"Laid out in masses, the sum may profit his poor soul," said Trois
Eschelles.

"Laid out in wine or brantwein, it will comfort my poor body," responded
Petit Andre. "So let them be forthcoming, my little crack rope."

"Pay the bloodhounds their fee," said Hayraddin to Durward, "I was
plundered of every stiver when they took me--it shall avail thee much."

Quentin paid the executioners their guerdon, and, like men of promise,
they retreated out of hearing--keeping, however, a careful eye on the
criminal's motions. After waiting an instant till the unhappy man should
speak, as he still remained silent, Quentin at length addressed him,
"And to this conclusion thou hast at length arrived?"

"Ay," answered Hayraddin, "it required neither astrologer, or
physiognomist, nor chiromantist to foretell that I should follow the
destiny of my family."

"Brought to this early end by thy long course of crime and treachery?"
said the Scot.

"No, by the bright Aldebaran and all his brother twinklers!" answered
the Bohemian. "I am brought hither by my folly in believing that the
bloodthirsty cruelty of a Frank could be restrained even by what they
themselves profess to hold most sacred. A priest's vestment would have
been no safer garb for me than a herald's tabard, however sanctimonious
are your professions of devotion and chivalry."

"A detected impostor has no right to claim the immunities of the
disguise he had usurped," said Durward.

"Detected!" said the Bohemian. "My jargon was as good as yonder old fool
of a herald's, but let it pass. As well now as hereafter."

"You abuse time," said Quentin. "If you have aught to tell me, say it
quickly, and then take some care of your soul."

"Of my soul?" said the Bohemian, with a hideous laugh. "Think ye a
leprosy of twenty years can be cured in an instant?--If I have a soul,
it hath been in such a course since I was ten years old and more, that
it would take me one month to recall all my crimes, and another to tell
them to the priest!--and were such space granted me, it is five to one I
would employ it otherwise."

"Hardened wretch, blaspheme not! Tell me what thou hast to say, and I
leave thee to thy fate," said Durward, with mingled pity and horror.

"I have a boon to ask," said Hayraddin; "but first I will buy it of you;
for your tribe, with all their professions of charity, give naught for
naught."

"I could well nigh say, thy gifts perish with thee," answered Quentin,
"but that thou art on the very verge of eternity.--Ask thy boon--reserve
thy bounty--it can do me no good--I remember enough of your good offices
of old."

"Why, I loved you," said Hayraddin, "for the matter that chanced on the
banks of the Cher; and I would have helped you to a wealthy dame.
You wore her scarf, which partly misled me, and indeed I thought that
Hameline, with her portable wealth, was more for your market penny than
the other hen sparrow, with her old roost at Bracquemont, which Charles
has clutched, and is likely to keep his claws upon."

"Talk not so idly, unhappy man," said Quentin; "yonder officers become
impatient."

"Give them ten guilders for ten minutes more," said the culprit,
who, like most in his situation, mixed with his hardihood a desire of
procrastinating his fate, "I tell thee it shall avail thee much."

"Use then well the minutes so purchased," said Durward, and easily made
a new bargain with the Marshals men.

This done, Hayraddin continued.--"Yes, I assure you I meant you well;
and Hameline would have proved an easy and convenient spouse. Why, she
has reconciled herself even with the Boar of Ardennes, though his mode
of wooing was somewhat of the roughest, and lords it yonder in his sty,
as if she had fed on mast husks and acorns all her life."

"Cease this brutal and untimely jesting," said Quentin, "or, once more I
tell you, I will leave you to your fate."

"You are right," said Hayraddin, after a moment's pause; "what cannot
be postponed must be faced!--Well, know then, I came hither in this
accursed disguise, moved by a great reward from De la Marck, and hoping
a yet mightier one from King Louis, not merely to bear the message of
defiance which yon may have heard of, but to tell the King an important
secret."

"It was a fearful risk," said Durward.

"It was paid for as such, and such it hath proved," answered the
Bohemian. "De la Marck attempted before to communicate with Louis by
means of Marthon; but she could not, it seems, approach nearer to him
than the Astrologer, to whom she told all the passages of the journey,
and of Schonwaldt; but it is a chance if her tidings ever reach Louis,
except in the shape of a prophecy. But hear my secret, which is more
important than aught she could tell. William de la Marck has assembled
a numerous and strong force within the city of Liege, and augments it
daily by means of the old priest's treasures. But he proposes not to
hazard a battle with the chivalry of Burgundy, and still less to stand
a siege in the dismantled town. This he will do--he will suffer the hot
brained Charles to sit down before the place without opposition, and
in the night, make an outfall or sally upon the leaguer with his whole
force. Many he will have in French armour, who will cry, France, Saint
Louis, and Denis Montjoye, as if there were a strong body of French
auxiliaries in the city. This cannot choose but strike utter confusion
among the Burgundians; and if King Louis, with his guards, attendants,
and such soldiers as he may have with him, shall second his efforts, the
Boar of Ardennes nothing doubts the discomfiture of the whole Burgundian
army.--There is my secret, and I bequeath it to you. Forward or prevent
the enterprise--sell the intelligence to King Louis, or to Duke Charles,
I care not--save or destroy whom thou wilt; for my part, I only grieve
that I cannot spring it like a mine, to the destruction of them all."

"It is indeed an important secret," said Quentin, instantly
comprehending how easily the national jealousy might be awakened in a
camp consisting partly of French, partly of Burgundians.

"Ay, so it is," answered Hayraddin; "and now you have it, you would fain
begone, and leave me without granting the boon for which I have paid
beforehand."

"Tell me thy request," said Quentin. "I will grant it if it be in my
power."

"Nay, it is no mighty demand--it is only in behalf of poor Klepper, my
palfrey, the only living thing that may miss me.--A due mile south, you
will find him feeding by a deserted collier's hut; whistle to him thus"
(he whistled a peculiar note), "and call him by his name, Klepper, he
will come to you; here is his bridle under my gaberdine--it is lucky
the hounds got it not, for he obeys no other. Take him, and make much of
him--I do not say for his master's sake,--but because I have placed
at your disposal the event of a mighty war. He will never fail you at
need--night and day, rough and smooth, fair and foul, warm stables and
the winter sky, are the same to Klepper; had I cleared the gates of
Peronne, and got so far as where I left him, I had not been in this
case.--Will you be kind to Klepper?"

"I swear to you that I will," answered Quentin, affected by what seemed
a trait of tenderness in a character so hardened.

"Then fare thee well!" said the criminal. "Yet stay--stay--I would not
willingly die in discourtesy, forgetting a lady's commission.--This
billet is from the very gracious and extremely silly Lady of the Wild
Boar of Ardennes, to her black eyed niece--I see by your look I have
chosen a willing messenger.--And one word more--I forgot to say, that in
the stuffing of my saddle you will find a rich purse of gold pieces,
for the sake of which I put my life on the venture which has cost me
so dear. Take them, and replace a hundred fold the guilders you have
bestowed on these bloody slaves--I make you mine heir."

"I will bestow them in good works and masses for the benefit of thy
soul," said Quentin.

"Name not that word again," said Hayraddin, his countenance assuming a
dreadful expression; "there is--there can be, there shall be--no such
thing!--it is a dream of priestcraft."

"Unhappy, most unhappy being! Think better! let me speed for a
priest--these men will delay yet a little longer. I will bribe them to
it," said Quentin. "What canst thou expect, dying in such opinions, and
impenitent?"

"To be resolved into the elements," said the hardened atheist, pressing
his fettered arms against his bosom; "my hope, trust, and expectation is
that the mysterious frame of humanity shall melt into the general mass
of nature, to be recompounded in the other forms with which she daily
supplies those which daily disappear, and return under different
forms--the watery particles to streams and showers, the earthy parts to
enrich their mother earth, the airy portions to wanton in the breeze,
and those of fire to supply the blaze of Aldebaran and his brethren.--In
this faith have I lived, and I will die in it!--Hence! begone!--disturb
me no farther!--I have spoken the last word that mortal ears shall
listen to."

Deeply impressed with the horrors of his condition, Quentin Durward yet
saw that it was vain to hope to awaken him to a sense of his fearful
state. He bade him, therefore, farewell, to which the criminal only
replied by a short and sullen nod, as one who, plunged in reverie,
bids adieu to company which distracts his thoughts. He bent his course
towards the forest, and easily found where Klepper was feeding. The
creature came at his call, but was for some time unwilling to be caught,
snuffing and starting when the stranger approached him. At length,
however, Quentin's general acquaintance with the habits of the animal,
and perhaps some particular knowledge of those of Klepper, which he had
often admired while Hayraddin and he travelled together, enabled him to
take possession of the Bohemian's dying bequest. Long ere he returned
to Peronne, the Bohemian had gone where the vanity of his dreadful creed
was to be put to the final issue--a fearful experience for one who had
neither expressed remorse for the past, nor apprehension for the future!



CHAPTER XXXV: A PRIZE FOR HONOUR

     'T is brave for Beauty when the best blade wins her.

     THE COUNT PALATINE


When Quentin Durward reached Peronne, a council was sitting, in
the issue of which he was interested more deeply than he could have
apprehended, and which, though held by persons of a rank with whom
one of his could scarce be supposed to have community of interest, had
nevertheless the most extraordinary influence on his fortunes.

King Louis, who, after the interlude of De la Marck's envoy, had
omitted no opportunity to cultivate the returning interest which that
circumstance had given him in the Duke's opinion, had been engaged in
consulting him, or, it might be almost said, receiving his opinion, upon
the number and quality of the troops, by whom, as auxiliary to the Duke
of Burgundy, he was to be attended in their joint expedition against
Liege. He plainly saw the wish of Charles was to call into his camp
such Frenchmen as, from their small number and high quality, might be
considered rather as hostages than as auxiliaries; but, observant
of Crevecoeur's advice, he assented as readily to whatever the Duke
proposed, as if it had arisen from the free impulse of his own mind.

The King failed not, however, to indemnify himself for his complaisance
by the indulgence of his vindictive temper against Balue, whose counsels
had led him to repose such exuberant trust in the Duke of Burgundy.
Tristan, who bore the summons for moving up his auxiliary forces, had
the farther commission to carry the Cardinal to the Castle of Loches,
and there shut him up in one of those iron cages which he himself is
said to have invented.

"Let him make proof of his own devices," said the King; "he is a man
of holy church--we may not shed his blood; but, Pasques dieu! his
bishopric, for ten years to come, shall have an impregnable frontier
to make up for its small extent!--And see the troops are brought up
instantly."

Perhaps, by this prompt acquiescence, Louis hoped to evade the
more unpleasing condition with which the Duke had clogged their
reconciliation. But if he so hoped, he greatly mistook the temper of his
cousin, for never man lived more tenacious of his purpose than Charles
of Burgundy, and least of all was he willing to relax any stipulation
which he made in resentment, or revenge, of a supposed injury.

No sooner were the necessary expresses dispatched to summon up the
forces who were selected to act as auxiliaries, than Louis was called
upon by his host to give public consent to the espousals of the Duke of
Orleans and Isabelle of Croye. The King complied with a heavy sigh, and
presently after urged a slight expostulation, founded upon the necessity
of observing the wishes of the Duke himself.

"These have not been neglected," said the Duke of Burgundy, "Crevecoeur
hath communicated with Monsieur d'Orleans, and finds him (strange to
say) so dead to the honour of wedding a royal bride, that he acceded to
the proposal of marrying the Countess of Croye as the kindest proposal
which father could have made to him."

"He is the more ungracious and thankless," said Louis, "but the whole
shall be as you, my cousin, will, if you can bring it about with consent
of the parties themselves."

"Fear not that," said the Duke, and accordingly, not many minutes after,
the affair had been proposed, the Duke of Orleans and the Countess
of Croye, the latter attended, as on the preceding occasion, by the
Countess of Crevecoeur and the Abbess of the Ursulines, were summoned
to the presence of the Princes, and heard from the mouth of Charles of
Burgundy, unobjected to by that of Louis, who sat in silent and moody
consciousness of diminished consequence, that the union of their hands
was designed by the wisdom of both Princes, to confirm the perpetual
alliance which in future should take place betwixt France and Burgundy.

The Duke of Orleans had much difficulty in suppressing the joy which
he felt upon the proposal, and which delicacy rendered improper in the
presence of Louis; and it required his habitual awe of that monarch to
enable him to rein in his delight, so much as merely to reply that his
duty compelled him to place his choice at the disposal of his Sovereign.

"Fair cousin of Orleans," said Louis with sullen gravity, "since I must
speak on so unpleasant an occasion, it is needless for me to remind you
that my sense of your merits had led me to propose for you a match into
my own family. But since my cousin of Burgundy thinks that the disposing
of your hand otherwise is the surest pledge of amity between his
dominions and mine, I love both too well not to sacrifice to them my own
hopes and wishes."

The Duke of Orleans threw himself on his knees, and kissed--and, for
once, with sincerity of attachment--the hand which the King, with
averted countenance, extended to him. In fact he, as well as most
present, saw, in the unwilling acquiescence of this accomplished
dissembler, who, even with that very purpose, had suffered his
reluctance to be visible, a King relinquishing his favourite project,
and subjugating his paternal feelings to the necessities of state, and
interest of his country. Even Burgundy was moved, and Orleans's heart
smote him for the joy which he involuntarily felt on being freed from
his engagement with the Princess Joan. If he had known how deeply the
King was cursing him in his soul, and what thoughts of future revenge he
was agitating, it is probable his own delicacy on the occasion would not
have been so much hurt.

Charles next turned to the young Countess, and bluntly announced the
proposed match to her, as a matter which neither admitted delay nor
hesitation, adding, at the same time, that it was but a too favourable
consequence of her intractability on a former occasion.

"My Lord Duke and Sovereign," said Isabelle, summoning up all her
courage, "I observe your Grace's commands, and submit to them."

"Enough, enough," said the Duke, interrupting her, "we will arrange the
rest.--Your Majesty," he continued, addressing King Louis, "hath had
a boar's hunt in the morning; what say you to rousing a wolf in the
afternoon?"

The young Countess saw the necessity of decision.

"Your Grace mistakes my meaning," she said, speaking, though timidly,
yet loudly and decidedly enough to compel the Duke's attention, which,
from some consciousness, he would otherwise have willingly denied to
her.

"My submission," she said, "only respected those lands and estates which
your Grace's ancestors gave to mine, and which I resign to the House of
Burgundy, if my Sovereign thinks my disobedience in this matter renders
me unworthy to hold them."

"Ha! Saint George!" said the Duke, stamping furiously on the ground,
"does the fool know in what presence she is?--And to whom she speaks?"

"My lord," she replied, still undismayed, "I am before my Suzerain, and,
I trust, a just one. If you deprive me of my lands, you take away all
that your ancestors' generosity gave, and you break the only bonds which
attach us together. You gave not this poor and persecuted form, still
less the spirit which animates me.--And these it is my purpose to
dedicate to Heaven in the convent of the Ursulines, under the guidance
of this Holy Mother Abbess."

The rage and astonishment of the Duke can hardly be conceived, unless
we could estimate the surprise of a falcon against whom a dove should
ruffle its pinions in defiance.

"Will the Holy Mother receive you without an appanage?" he said in a
voice of scorn.

"If she doth her convent, in the first instance, so much wrong," said
the Lady Isabelle, "I trust there is charity enough among the noble
friends of my house to make up some support for the orphan of Croye."

"It is false!" said the Duke, "it is a base pretext to cover some secret
and unworthy passion.--My Lord of Orleans, she shall be yours, if I drag
her to the altar with my own hands!"

The Countess of Crevecoeur, a high spirited woman and confident in her
husband's merits and his favour with the Duke, could keep silent no
longer.

"My lord," she said, "your passions transport you into language utterly
unworthy.--The hand of no gentlewoman can be disposed of by force."

"And it is no part of the duty of a Christian Prince," added the Abbess,
"to thwart the wishes of a pious soul, who, broken with the cares and
persecutions of the world, is desirous to become the bride of Heaven."

"Neither can my cousin of Orleans," said Dunois, "with honour accept a
proposal to which the lady has thus publicly stated her objections."

"If I were permitted," said Orleans, on whose facile mind Isabelle's
beauty had made a deep impression, "some time to endeavour to place my
pretensions before the Countess in a more favourable light--"

"My lord," said Isabelle, whose firmness was now fully supported by
the encouragement which she received from all around, "it were to no
purpose--my mind is made up to decline this alliance, though far above
my deserts."

"Nor have I time," said the Duke, "to wait till these whimsies are
changed with the next change of the moon.--Monseigneur d'Orleans,
she shall learn within this hour that obedience becomes matter of
necessity."

"Not in my behalf, Sire," answered the Prince, who felt that he could
not, with any show of honour, avail himself of the Duke's obstinate
disposition; "to have been once openly and positively refused is enough
for a son of France. He cannot prosecute his addresses farther."

The Duke darted one furious glance at Orleans, another at Louis, and
reading in the countenance of the latter, in spite of his utmost
efforts to suppress his feelings, a look of secret triumph, he became
outrageous.

"Write," he said, to the secretary, "our doom of forfeiture and
imprisonment against this disobedient and insolent minion. She shall to
the Zuchthaus, to the penitentiary, to herd with those whose lives have
rendered them her rivals in effrontery."

There was a general murmur.

"My Lord Duke," said the Count of Crevecoeur, taking the word for the
rest, "this must be better thought on. We, your faithful vassals, cannot
suffer such a dishonour to the nobility and chivalry of Burgundy. If the
Countess hath done amiss, let her be punished--but in the manner that
becomes her rank, and ours, who stand connected with her house by blood
and alliance."

The Duke paused a moment, and looked full at his councillor with the
stare of a bull, which, when compelled by the neat herd from the road
which he wishes to go, deliberates with himself whether to obey, or to
rush on his driver, and toss him into the air.

Prudence, however, prevailed over fury--he saw the sentiment was general
in his council--was afraid of the advantages which Louis might derive
from seeing dissension among his vassals; and probably--for he was
rather of a coarse and violent, than of a malignant temper--felt ashamed
of his own dishonourable proposal.

"You are right," he said, "Crevecoeur, and I spoke hastily. Her fate
shall be determined according to the rules of chivalry. Her flight
to Liege hath given the signal for the Bishop's murder. He that best
avenges that deed, and brings us the head of the Wild Boar of Ardennes,
shall claim her hand of us; and if she denies his right, we can at least
grant him her fiefs, leaving it to his generosity to allow her what
means he will to retire into a convent."

"Nay!" said the Countess, "think I am the daughter of Count Reinold--of
your father's old, valiant, and faithful servant. Would you hold me out
as a prize to the best sword player?"

"Your ancestress," said the Duke, "was won at a tourney--you shall be
fought for in real melee. Only thus far, for Count Reinold's sake,
the successful prizer shall be a gentleman, of unimpeached birth, and
unstained bearings; but, be he such, and the poorest who ever drew the
strap of a sword belt through the tongue of a buckle, he shall have at
least the proffer of your hand. I swear it, by St. George, by my ducal
crown, and by the Order that I wear!--Ha! Messires," he added, turning
to the nobles present, "this at least is, I think, in conformity with
the rules of chivalry?"

Isabelle's remonstrances were drowned in a general and jubilant assent,
above which was heard the voice of old Lord Crawford, regretting the
weight of years that prevented his striking for so fair a prize. The
Duke was gratified by the general applause, and his temper began to flow
more smoothly, like that of a swollen river when it hath subsided within
its natural boundaries.

"Are we to whom fate has given dames already," said Crevecoeur, "to be
bystanders at this fair game? It does not consist with my honour to be
so, for I have myself a vow to be paid at the expense of that tusked and
bristled brute, De la Marck."

"Strike boldly in, Crevecoeur," said the Duke, "to win her, and since
thou canst not wear her thyself, bestow her where thou wilt--on Count
Stephen, your nephew, if you list."

"Gramercy, my lord!" said Crevecoeur, "I will do my best in the battle;
and, should I be fortunate enough to be foremost, Stephen shall try his
eloquence against that of the Lady Abbess."

"I trust," said Dunois, "that the chivalry of France are not excluded
from this fair contest?"

"Heaven forbid! brave Dunois," answered the Duke, "were it but for the
sake of seeing you do your uttermost. But," he added, "though there be
no fault in the Lady Isabelle wedding a Frenchman, it will be necessary
that the Count of Croye must become a subject of Burgundy."

"Enough," said Dunois, "my bar sinister may never be surmounted by the
coronet of Croye--I will live and die French. But, yet, though I should
lose the lands, I will strike a blow for the lady."

Le Balafre dared not speak aloud in such a presence, but he muttered to
himself,

"Now, Saunders Souplejaw, hold thine own!--thou always saidst the
fortune of our house was to be won by marriage, and never had you such a
chance to keep your word with us."

"No one thinks of me," said Le Glorieux, "who am sure to carry off the
prize from all of you."

"Right, my sapient friend," said Louis, laughing, "when a woman is in
the case, the greatest fool is ever the first in favour."

While the princes and their nobles thus jested over her fate, the Abbess
and the Countess of Crevecoeur endeavoured in vain to console Isabelle,
who had withdrawn with them from the council-presence. The former
assured her that the Holy Virgin would frown on every attempt to
withdraw a true votaress from the shrine of Saint Ursula; while the
Countess of Crevecoeur whispered more temporal consolation, that no
true knight, who might succeed in the enterprise proposed, would avail
himself, against her inclinations, of the Duke's award; and that perhaps
the successful competitor might prove one who should find such favour in
her eyes as to reconcile her to obedience. Love, like despair, catches
at straws; and, faint and vague as was the hope which this insinuation
conveyed, the tears of the Countess Isabelle flowed more placidly while
she dwelt upon it.

[Saint Ursula: the patron saint of young girls. Tradition says she was
martyred by the Huns, together with her eleven thousand companions. Her
history has been painted by Carpacelo and by Hans Memling.]



CHAPTER XXXVI: THE SALLY

     The wretch condemn'd with life to part,
     Still, still on hope relies,
     And every pang that rends the heart,
     Bids expectation rise.

     Hope, like the glimmering taper's light,
     Adorns and cheers the way;
     And still, the darker grows the night,
     Emits a brighter ray.

     GOLDSMITH


Few days had passed ere Louis had received, with a smile of gratified
vengeance, the intelligence that his favourite and his councillor,
the Cardinal Balue, was groaning within a cage of iron, so disposed
as scarce to permit him to enjoy repose in any posture except when
recumbent, and of which, be it said in passing, he remained the unpitied
tenant for nearly twelve years. The auxiliary forces which the Duke had
required Louis to bring up had also appeared, and he comforted himself
that their numbers were sufficient to protect his person against
violence, although too limited to cope, had such been his purpose, with
the large army of Burgundy. He saw himself also at liberty, when time
should suit, to resume his project of marriage between his daughter and
the Duke of Orleans; and, although he was sensible to the indignity of
serving with his noblest peers under the banners of his own vassal, and
against the people whose cause he had abetted, he did not allow these
circumstances to embarrass him in the meantime, trusting that a future
day would bring him amends.

"For chance," said he to his trusty Oliver, "may indeed gain one hit,
but it is patience and wisdom which win the game at last."

With such sentiments, upon a beautiful day in the latter end of harvest,
the King mounted his horse; and, indifferent that he was looked upon
rather as a part of the pageant of a victor, than in the light of an
independent Sovereign surrounded by his guards and his chivalry, King
Louis sallied from under the Gothic gateway of Peronne, to join the
Burgundian army, which commenced at the same time its march against
Liege.

Most of the ladies of distinction who were in the place attended,
dressed in their best array, upon the battlements and defences of the
gate, to see the gallant show of the warriors setting forth on the
expedition. Thither had the Countess Crevecoeur brought the Countess
Isabelle. The latter attended very reluctantly, but the peremptory order
of Charles had been, that she who was to bestow the palm in the tourney
should be visible to the knights who were about to enter the lists.

As they thronged out from under the arch, many a pennon and shield
was to be seen, graced with fresh devices, expressive of the bearer's
devoted resolution to become a competitor for a prize so fair. Here a
charger was painted starting for the goal--there an arrow aimed at
a mark--one knight bore a bleeding heart, indicative of his
passion--another a skull and a coronet of laurels, showing his
determination to win or die. Many others there were; and some so
cunningly intricate and obscure, that they might have defied the most
ingenious interpreter. Each knight, too, it may be presumed, put his
courser to his mettle, and assumed his most gallant seat in the saddle,
as he passed for a moment under the view of the fair bevy of dames and
damsels, who encouraged their valour by their smiles, and the waving of
kerchiefs and of veils. The Archer Guard, selected almost at will from
the flower of the Scottish nation, drew general applause, from the
gallantry and splendour of their appearance.

And there was one among these strangers who ventured on a demonstration
of acquaintance with the Lady Isabelle, which had not been attempted
even by the most noble of the French nobility. It was Quentin Durward,
who, as he passed the ladies in his rank, presented to the Countess of
Croye, on the point of his lance, the letter of her aunt.

"Now, by my honour," said the Count of Crevecoeur, "that is over
insolent in an unworthy adventurer!"

"Do not call him so, Crevecoeur," said Dunois; "I have good reason to
bear testimony to his gallantry--and in behalf of that lady, too."

"You make words of nothing," said Isabelle, blushing with shame, and
partly with resentment; "it is a letter from my unfortunate aunt.--She
writes cheerfully, though her situation must be dreadful."

"Let us hear, let us hear what says the Boar's bride," said Crevecoeur.

The Countess Isabelle read the letter, in which her aunt seemed
determined to make the best of a bad bargain, and to console herself
for the haste and indecorum of her nuptials, by the happiness of being
wedded to one of the bravest men of the age, who had just acquired a
princedom by his valour. She implored her niece not to judge of her
William (as she called him) by the report of others, but to wait till
she knew him personally. He had his faults, perhaps, but they were
such as belonged to characters whom she had ever venerated. William
was rather addicted to wine, but so was the gallant Sir Godfrey, her
grandsire--he was something hasty and sanguinary in his temper, such had
been her brother Reinold of blessed memory; he was blunt in speech,
few Germans were otherwise; and a little wilful and peremptory, but she
believed all men loved to rule. More there was to the same purpose; and
the whole concluded with the hope and request that Isabelle would, by
means of the bearer, endeavour her escape from the tyrant of Burgundy,
and come to her loving kinswoman's Court of Liege, where any little
differences concerning their mutual rights of succession to the Earldom
might be adjusted by Isabelle's marrying Earl Eberson--a bridegroom
younger indeed than his bride, but that, as she (the Lady Hameline)
might perhaps say from experience, was an inequality more easy to be
endured than Isabelle could be aware of.

[The marriage of William de la Marck with the Lady Hameline is as
apocryphal as the lady herself.--S.]

Here the Countess Isabelle stopped, the Abbess observing, with a prim
aspect, that she had read quite enough concerning such worldly vanities,
and the Count of Crevecoeur, breaking out, "Aroint thee, deceitful
witch!--Why, this device smells rank as the toasted cheese in a rat
trap.--Now fie, and double fie, upon the old decoy duck!"

The Countess of Crevecoeur gravely rebuked her husband for his violence.

"The Lady," she said, "must have been deceived by De la Marck with a
show of courtesy."

"He show courtesy!" said the Count. "I acquit him of all such
dissimulation. You may as well expect courtesy from a literal wild
boar, you may as well try to lay leaf gold on old rusty gibbet irons.
No--idiot as she is, she is not quite goose enough to fall in love with
the fox who has snapped her, and that in his very den. But you women
are all alike--fair words carry it--and, I dare say, here is my pretty
cousin impatient to join her aunt in this fool's paradise, and marry the
Bear Pig."

"So far from being capable of such folly," said Isabelle, "I am doubly
desirous of vengeance on the murderers of the excellent Bishop, because
it will, at the same time, free my aunt from the villain's power."

"Ah! there indeed spoke the voice of Croye!" exclaimed the Count, and no
more was said concerning the letter.

But while Isabelle read her aunt's epistle to her friends, it must
be observed that she did not think it necessary to recite a certain
postscript, in which the Countess Hameline, lady-like, gave an account
of her occupations, and informed her niece that she had laid aside for
the present a surcoat which she was working for her husband, bearing the
arms of Croye and La Marck in conjugal fashion, parted per pale, because
her William had determined, for purposes of policy, in the first action
to have others dressed in his coat armour and himself to assume the arms
of Orleans, with a bar sinister--in other words, those of Dunois. There
was also a slip of paper in another hand, the contents of which the
Countess did not think it necessary to mention, being simply these
words: "If you hear not of me soon, and that by the trumpet of Fame,
conclude me dead, but not unworthy."

A thought, hitherto repelled as wildly incredible, now glanced with
double keenness through Isabelle's soul. As female wit seldom fails in
the contrivance of means, she so ordered it that ere the troops were
fully on march, Quentin Durward received from an unknown hand the billet
of Lady Hameline, marked with three crosses opposite to the postscript,
and having these words subjoined: "He who feared not the arms of Orleans
when on the breast of their gallant owner, cannot dread them when
displayed on that of a tyrant and murderer."

A thousand thousand times was this intimation kissed and pressed to the
bosom of the young Scot! for it marshalled him on the path where both
Honour and Love held out the reward, and possessed him with a secret
unknown to others, by which to distinguish him whose death could alone
give life to his hopes, and which he prudently resolved to lock up in
his own bosom.

But Durward saw the necessity of acting otherwise respecting the
information communicated by Hayraddin, since the proposed sally of De la
Marck, unless heedfully guarded against, might prove the destruction of
the besieging army, so difficult was it, in the tumultuous warfare of
those days, to recover from a nocturnal surprise. After pondering on
the matter, he formed the additional resolution, that he would not
communicate the intelligence save personally, and to both the Princes
while together, perhaps because he felt that to mention so well
contrived and hopeful a scheme to Louis whilst in private, might be too
strong a temptation to the wavering probity of that Monarch, and lead
him to assist, rather than repel, the intended sally. He determined,
therefore, to watch for an opportunity of revealing the secret whilst
Louis and Charles were met, which, as they were not particularly fond of
the constraint imposed by each other's society, was not likely soon to
occur.

Meanwhile the march continued, and the confederates soon entered the
territories of Liege. Here the Burgundian soldiers, at least a part of
them, composed of those bands who had acquired the title of Ecorcheurs,
or flayers, showed, by the usage which they gave the inhabitants, under
pretext of avenging the Bishop's death, that they well deserved that
honourable title; while their conduct greatly prejudiced the cause
of Charles, the aggrieved inhabitants, who might otherwise have been
passive in the quarrel, assuming arms in self defence, harassing his
march by cutting off small parties, and falling back before the main
body upon the city itself, thus augmenting the numbers and desperation
of those who had resolved to defend it. The French, few in number, and
those the choice soldiers of the country, kept, according to the King's
orders, close by their respective standards, and observed the strictest
discipline, a contrast which increased the suspicions of Charles, who
could not help remarking that the troops of Louis demeaned themselves as
if they were rather friends to the Liegeois than allies of Burgundy.

At length, without experiencing any serious opposition, the army arrived
in the rich valley of the Maes, and before the large and populous
city of Liege. The Castle of Schonwaldt they found had been totally
destroyed, and learned that William de la Marck, whose only talents were
of a military cast, had withdrawn his whole forces into the city, and
was determined to avoid the encounter of the chivalry of France
and Burgundy in the open field. But the invaders were not long of
experiencing the danger which must always exist in attacking a large
town, however open, if the inhabitants are disposed to defend it
desperately.

A part of the Burgundian vanguard, conceiving that, from the dismantled
and breached state of the walls, they had nothing to do but to march
into Liege at their ease, entered one of the suburbs with the shouts
of "Burgundy, Burgundy, Kill, kill--all is ours!--Remember Louis of
Bourbon!"

But as they marched in disorder through the narrow streets, and were
partly dispersed for the purpose of pillage, a large body of the
inhabitants issued suddenly from the town, fell furiously upon them,
and made considerable slaughter. De la Marck even availed himself of
the breaches in the walls, which permitted the defenders to issue out
at different points, and, by taking separate routes into the contested
suburb, to attack, in the front, flank, and rear at once the assailants,
who, stunned by the furious, unexpected, and multiplied nature of the
resistance offered, could hardly stand to their arms. The evening, which
began to close, added to their confusion.

When this news was brought to Duke Charles, he was furious with rage,
which was not much appeased by the offer of King Louis to send the
French men at arms into the suburbs, to rescue and bring off the
Burgundian vanguard. Rejecting this offer briefly, he would have put
himself at the head of his own Guards, to extricate those engaged in the
incautious advance; but D'Hymbercourt and Crevecoeur entreated him to
leave the service to them, and, marching into the scene of action at two
points with more order and proper arrangement for mutual support, these
two celebrated captains succeeded in repulsing the Liegeois, and in
extricating the vanguard, who lost, besides prisoners, no fewer than
eight hundred men, of whom about a hundred were men at arms. The
prisoners, however, were not numerous, most of them having been rescued
by D'Hymbercourt, who now proceeded to occupy the contested suburb, and
to place guards opposite to the town, from which it was divided by an
open space, or esplanade, of five or six hundred yards, left free of
buildings for the purposes of defence. There was no moat betwixt the
suburb and town, the ground being rocky in that place. A gate fronted
the suburb, from which sallies might be easily made, and the wall was
pierced by two or three of those breaches which Duke Charles had caused
to be made after the battle of Saint Tron, and which had been hastily
repaired with mere barricades of timber.

D'Hymbercourt turned two culverins on the gate, and placed two others
opposite to the principal breach, to repel any sally from the city, and
then returned to the Burgundian army, which he found in great disorder.
In fact, the main body and rear of the numerous army of the Duke had
continued to advance, while the broken and repulsed vanguard was in the
act of retreating; and they had come into collision with each other, to
the great confusion of both. The necessary absence of D'Hymbercourt, who
discharged all the duties of Marechal du Camp, or, as we should now say,
of Quartermaster General, augmented the disorder; and to complete the
whole, the night sank down dark as a wolf's mouth; there fell a thick
and heavy rain, and the ground on which the beleaguering army must needs
take up their position, was muddy and intersected with many canals. It
is scarce possible to form an idea of the confusion which prevailed in
the Burgundian army, where leaders were separated from their soldiers,
and soldiers from their standards and officers. Every one, from the
highest to the lowest, was seeking shelter and accommodation where he
could individually find it; while the wearied and wounded, who had been
engaged in the battle, were calling in vain for shelter and refreshment;
and while those who knew nothing of the disaster were pressing on to
have their share in the sack of the place, which they had no doubt was
proceeding merrily.

When D'Hymbercourt returned, he had a task to perform of incredible
difficulty, and imbittered by the reproaches of his master, who made
no allowance for the still more necessary duty in which he had been
engaged, until the temper of the gallant soldier began to give way under
the Duke's unreasonable reproaches.

"I went hence to restore some order in the van," he said, "and left the
main body under your Grace's own guidance, and now, on my return, I
can neither find that we have front, flank, nor rear, so utter is the
confusion."

"We are the more like a barrel of herrings," answered Le Glorieux,
"which is the most natural resemblance for a Flemish army."

The jester's speech made the Duke laugh, and perhaps prevented a farther
prosecution of the altercation betwixt him and his general.

By dint of great exertion, a small lusthaus, or country villa of some
wealthy citizen of Liege, was secured and cleared of other occupants,
for the accommodation of the Duke and his immediate attendants; and the
authority of D'Hymbercourt and Crevecoeur at length established a guard
in the vicinity, of about forty men at arms, who lighted a very large
fire, made with the timber of the outhouses, which they pulled down for
the purpose.

A little to the left of this villa, and betwixt it and the suburb,
which, as we have said, was opposite to the city gate, and occupied by
the Burgundian Vanguard, lay another pleasure house, surrounded by a
garden and courtyard, and having two or three small enclosures or
fields in the rear of it. In this the King of France established his own
headquarters. He did not himself pretend to be a soldier further than
a natural indifference to danger and much sagacity qualified him to be
called such; but he was always careful to employ the most skilful in
that profession, and reposed in them the confidence they merited. Louis
and his immediate attendants occupied this second villa, a part of his
Scottish Guard were placed in the court, where there were outhouses and
sheds to shelter them from the weather; the rest were stationed in the
garden. The remainder of the French men at arms were quartered closely
together and in good order, with alarm posts stationed, in case of their
having to sustain an attack.

Dunois and Crawford, assisted by several old officers and soldiers,
amongst whom Le Balafre was conspicuous for his diligence, contrived, by
breaking down walls, making openings through hedges, filling up ditches,
and the like, to facilitate the communication of the troops with each
other, and the orderly combination of the whole in case of necessity.

Meanwhile, the King judged it proper to go without farther ceremony to
the quarters of the Duke of Burgundy, to ascertain what was to be the
order of proceeding, and what cooperation was expected from him. His
presence occasioned a sort of council of war to be held, of which
Charles might not otherwise have dreamed.

It was then that Quentin Durward prayed earnestly to be admitted, as
having something of importance to deliver to the two Princes. This was
obtained without much difficulty, and great was the astonishment of
Louis, when he heard him calmly and distinctly relate the purpose of
William de la Marck to make a sally upon the camp of the besiegers,
under the dress and banners of the French. Louis would probably have
been much better pleased to have had such important news communicated
in private, but as the whole story had been publicly told in presence
of the Duke of Burgundy, he only observed, that, whether true or false,
such a report concerned them most materially.

"Not a whit!--not a whit!" said the Duke carelessly. "Had there been
such a purpose as this young man announces, it had not been communicated
to me by an Archer of the Scottish Guard."

"However that may be," answered Louis, "I pray you, fair cousin, you and
your captains, to attend, that to prevent the unpleasing consequences of
such an attack, should it be made unexpectedly, I will cause my soldiers
to wear white scarfs over their armour.--Dunois, see it given out on
the instant--that is," he added, "if our brother and general approves of
it."

"I see no objection," replied the Duke, "if the chivalry of France are
willing to run the risk of having the name of the Knights of the Smock
Sleeve bestowed on them in future."

"It would be a right well adapted title, friend Charles," said Le
Glorieux, "considering that a woman is the reward of the most valiant."

"Well spoken, Sagacity," said Louis. "Cousin, good night, I will go arm
me.--By the way, what if I win the Countess with mine own hand?

"Your Majesty," said the Duke, in an altered tone of voice, "must then
become a true Fleming."

"I cannot," answered Louis, in a tone of the most sincere confidence,
"be more so than I am already, could I but bring you, my dear cousin, to
believe it."

The Duke only replied by wishing the King good night in a tone
resembling the snort of a shy horse, starting from the caress of the
rider when he is about to mount, and is soothing him to stand still.

"I could pardon all his duplicity," said the Duke to Crevecoeur, "but
cannot forgive his supposing me capable of the gross folly of being
duped by his professions."

Louis, too, had his confidences with Oliver le Dain, when he returned to
his own quarters. "This," he said, "is such a mixture of shrewdness and
simplicity, that I know not what to make of him. Pasques dieu! think of
his unpardonable folly in bringing out honest De la Marck's plan of a
sally before the face of Burgundy, Crevecoeur, and all of them, instead
of rounding it in my ear, and giving me at least the choice of abetting
or defeating it!"

"It is better as it is, Sire," said Oliver; "there are many in your
present train who would scruple to assail Burgundy undefied, or to ally
themselves with De la Marck."

"Thou art right, Oliver. Such fools there are in the world, and we have
no time to reconcile their scruples by a little dose of self interest.
We must be true men, Oliver, and good allies of Burgundy, for this night
at least--time may give us a chance of a better game. Go, tell no man to
unarm himself; and let them shoot, in case of necessity, as sharply on
those who cry France and St. Denis! as if they cried Hell and Satan! I
will myself sleep in my armour. Let Crawford place Quentin Durward on
the extreme point of our line of sentinels, next to the city. Let him
e'en have the first benefit of the sally which he has announced to
us--if his luck bear him out, it is the better for him. But take an
especial care of Martius Galeotti, and see he remain in the rear, in a
place of the most absolute safety--he is even but too venturous, and,
like a fool, would be both swordsman and philosopher. See to these
things, Oliver, and good night.--Our Lady of Clery, and Monseigneur St.
Martin of Tours, be gracious to my slumbers!"

[The Duke of Burgundy, full of resentment for the usage which the Bishop
had received from the people of Liege (whose death, as already noticed,
did not take place for some years after), and knowing that the walls of
the town had not been repaired since they were breached by himself after
the battle of Saint Tron, advanced recklessly to their chastisement. His
commanders shared his presumptuous confidence: for the advanced guard
of his army, under the Marechal of Burgundy, and Seigneur D'Hymbercourt,
rushed upon one of the suburbs, without waiting for the rest of their
army, which, commanded by the Duke in person, remained about seven or
eight leagues in the rear. The night was closing, and, as the Burgundian
troops observed no discipline, they were exposed to a sudden attack from
a party of the citizens commanded by Jean de Vilde, who, assaulting them
in the front and rear, threw them into great disorder, and killed more
than eight hundred men, of whom one hundred were men at arms. When
Charles and the King of France came up, they took up their quarters in
two villas situated near to the wall of the city. In the two or three
days which followed, Louis was distinguished for the quiet and regulated
composure with which he pressed the siege, and provided for defence
in case of sallies; while the Duke of Burgundy, no way deficient in
courage, and who showed the rashness and want of order which was his
principal characteristic, seemed also extremely suspicious that the King
would desert him and join with the Liegeois. They lay before the town
for five or six days, and at length fixed the 30th of October, 1468,
for a general storm. The citizens, who had probably information of their
intent, resolved to prevent their purpose and determined on anticipating
it by a desperate sally through the breaches in their walls. They
placed at their head six hundred of the men of the little territory of
Fraudemont, belonging to the Bishopric of Liege, and reckoned the
most valiant of their troops. They burst out of the town on a sudden,
surprised the Duke of Burgundy's quarters, ere his guards could put on
their armour, which they had laid off to enjoy some repose before
the assault. The King of France's lodgings were also attacked and
endangered. A great confusion ensued, augmented incalculably by the
mutual jealousy and suspicions of the French and Burgundians. The people
of Liege were, however, unable to maintain their hardy enterprise,
when the men at arms of the king and Duke began to recover from their
confusion, and were finally forced to retire within their walls, after
narrowly missing the chance of surprising both King Louis and the Duke
of Burgundy, the mos