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Title: Lady Sybil's Choice - A Tale of the Crusades
Author: Holt, Emily Sarah, 1836-1893
Language: English
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[Illustration: Cover art]



[Illustration: "Down the nave Sybil came.... It was evident that she
knew perfectly well where he stood who was to wear the crown."  P. 317]



                         _Lady Sybil’s Choice_

                        _A Tale of the Crusades_


                                   BY

                            EMILY SARAH HOLT

           AUTHOR OF "MISTRESS MARGERY," "SISTER ROSE," ETC.



"This Tale in ancient Chronicle,—
  In wording old and quaint,
In classic language of the past,
  In letters pale and faint,—
This tale is told.  Yet once again
  Let it be told to-day—
The old, old tale of woman’s love,
  Which lasteth on for aye."



                             _NEW EDITION_



                                 LONDON
                          JOHN F. SHAW AND CO.
                           48 PATERNOSTER ROW
                                  1879



                               *PREFACE.*


"Why, seeing times are not hidden from the Almighty, do they that know
Him, not see His days?"

From the earliest ages of the world, the needs-be of suffering has been
a mystery.  Down to the latest, it will be a mystery still.  Truly, the
more we "know Him," the less mystery it is to us: for even where we
cannot see, we can trust His love. Yet there are human analogies, which
may throw some faint light on the dark question: and one of these will
be found in the following pages.  "What I do, thou knowest not
now"—sometimes because it is morally impossible,—our finite capacity
could not hold it: but sometimes, too, because we could not be trusted
with the knowledge.  In their case, there is one thing we can do—wait.
"O thou of little faith!—_wherefore_ didst thou doubt?"

    "Oh restful, blissful ignorance!
      ’Tis blessed not to know.
    It keeps me still in those kind arms
      Which will not let me go,
    And hushes my soul to rest
      On the bosom that loves me so!

    "So I go on, not knowing,—
      I would not, if I might.
    I would rather walk in the dark with God
      Than walk alone in the light;
    I would rather walk with Him by faith,
      Than walk alone by sight.

    "My heart shrinks back from trials
      Which the future may disclose;
    Yet I never had a sorrow
      But what the dear Lord chose:
    So I send the coming tears back
      With the whispered word, ’He knows!’"



                              *CONTENTS.*

CHAP.

      I. GUY TAKES THE CROSS
     II. TWO SURPRISES FOR ELAINE
    III. ALL IS NOT GOLD THAT GLITTERS
     IV. A JOURNEY—AND THE END OF IT
      V. CURIOUS NOTIONS
     VI. THE PERVERSITY OF PEOPLE
    VII. A LITTLE CLOUD OUT OF THE SEA
   VIII. AS GOOD AS MOST PEOPLE
     IX. ELAINE FINDS MORE THAN SHE EXPECTED
      X. PREPARING FOR THE STRUGGLE
     XI. THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM
    XII. WILL SHE GIVE HIM UP?
   XIII. WAITING FOR THE INEVITABLE
    XIV. SYBIL’S CHOICE



                         *LADY SYBIL’S CHOICE*



                              *CHAPTER I.*

                       _*GUY TAKES THE CROSS*_*.*


    "But what are words, and what am I?
      An infant crying in the night;
      An infant crying for the light;
    And with no language but a cry."
        —TENNYSON.


Alix says I am a simpleton.  I don’t think it is particularly pleasant.
Sometimes she says I am a perfect simpleton: and I cannot say that I
like that any better.  Nor do I think that it is very civil in one’s
sister to put her opinion on record in this certainly perspicuous, but
not at all complimentary manner.  Still, I have heard her say it so many
times that I might almost have come to believe it, if she did not say so
of anybody but me.  But when—as she did this morning—she says Guy is a
simpleton, that I cannot stand with any patience. Because there is
nobody like Guy in all the world. He is the best, kindest, dearest
brother that ever a girl had or could have.  And it is a shame of Alix
to say such things.  I am sure of it.[#]


[#] The brothers in this family are historical persons; the sisters
fictitious.


I do not know how it is, but Alix seems vexed that I should like Guy
best of all my brothers.  She says I ought to make companions of Amaury
and Raoul, who are nearer me in age.  But is that any reason for liking
people?  At that rate, I ought to love Alix least of all, because she is
furthest off. And—though I should not like her to know that I said so—I
am not at all sure that I don’t.

Being like you in character, it seems to me, is a much better reason for
choosing companions, than being near you in age.  And I think Guy is
much more like me than Amaury or Raoul either.  They don’t care for the
same things that I do, and Guy does.  Now, how can you like a man’s
company when you can never agree with him?

Alix says my tastes—and, of course, Guy’s—are very silly.  I believe she
thinks there is no sense in anything but spinning and cooking and
needlework. But I think Amaury and Raoul are quite as foolish as we are.
Amaury admires everything that shines and glitters, and he is not at all
particular whether it is gold or brass.  I believe, this minute, he
knows more about samite, and damask, and velvet, than I do.  You would
think the world was coming to an end by the wail he sets up if his cap
has a feather less than he intended, or the border of his tunic is done
in green instead of yellow.  Is that like being a man?  Guillot says
Amaury should have been a woman, but I think he should have stayed a
baby. Then Raoul cares for things that bang and clash. In his eyes,
everybody ought to be a soldier, and no tale is worth hearing if it be
not about a tournament or the taking of a city.

Now I do think Guy and I have more sense. What we love to hear is of
deeds really noble,—of men that have saved their city or their country
at the risk of their own lives; of a mother that has sacrificed herself
for her child; of a lady who was ready to see her true knight die rather
than stain his honour.  When we were little children at old Marguerite’s
knee, and she used to tell us tales as a reward when we had been
good,—and who ever knew half so many stories as dear old
Marguerite?—while Raoul always wanted a bloody battle, and Amaury a
royal pageant, and Alix what she called something practical—which, so
far as I could see, meant something that was not interesting—and
Guillot, he said, "Something all boys, with no girls in it"—the stories
Guy and I liked were just those which our dear old nurse best loved to
tell.  There was the legend of Monseigneur Saint Gideon, who drove the
heathen Saracens out of his country with a mere handful of
foot-soldiers; and that of Monseigneur Saint David, who, when he was but
a youth, fought with the Saracen giant, Count Goliath, who was forty
feet high—Guillot and Raoul used to like that too; and of Monseigneur
Saint Daniel, who on a false accusation was cast to the lions, and in
the night the holy Apostle Saint Peter appeared to him, and commanded
the lions not to hurt him; and the lions came and licked the feet of
Monseigneur Saint Peter.  The story that Amaury liked best of all was
about Madame Esther, the Queen of Persia, and how she entreated her
royal lord for the lives of certain knights that had been taken
prisoners; but he always wanted to know exactly what Madame Esther had
on, and even I thought that absurd, for of course Marguerite had to make
it up, as the legend did not tell, and he might have done that for
himself.  Raoul best loved the great legend of the wars of Troy, and how
Monseigneur Achilles dragged Monseigneur Hector at the wheels of his
chariot: which I never did like, for I could not help thinking of Madame
the Queen, his mother, and Madame his wife, who sat in a latticed
gallery watching, and remembering how their hearts would bleed when they
saw it.  The story Guy liked best was of two good knights of Greece,
whose names were Sir Damon and Sir Pythias, and how they so loved that
each was ready and anxious to lay down his life for the other: and I
think what I best loved to hear was the dear legend of Madame Saint
Magdalene, and how she followed the blessed steps of our Lord wherever
He went, and was the first to whom He deigned to appear after His
resurrection.

I wish, sometimes, that I had known my mother. I never had any mother
but Marguerite.  If she heard me, I know she would say, "Ha, my
Damoiselle does not well to leave out the Damoiselle Alix."  But I am
sure Alix was never anything like a mother.  If she were, mothers must
be queer people.

Why don’t I like Alix better?  Surely the only reason is not because she
is my half-sister.  Our gracious Lord and father was twice
married,—first to the Lady Eustacie de Chabot, who was mother of Alix,
and Guillot, and Guy, and Amaury, and Raoul: and then she died, soon
after Raoul was born; and the year afterwards Monseigneur married my
mother, and I was her only child.  But that does not hinder my loving
Guy.  Why should it hinder my loving Alix?

Most certainly something does hinder it,—and some tremendous thing
hinders my loving Cousin Hugues de la Marche.  I hate him.  Marguerite
says "Hush!" when I say so.  But Hugues is so intensely hateable, I am
sure she need not.  He is more like Guillot than any other of us, but
rougher and more boisterous by far.  I can’t bear him.  And he always
says he hates girls, and he can’t bear me. So why should I not hate him?

O Mother, Mother!  I wish you had stayed with me!

Somehow, I don’t think of her as I do of any one who is alive.  I
suppose, if she were alive, I should call her "Fair Madame," and be
afraid to move in her presence.  But being dead seems to bring her
nearer.  I call her "Mother," and many a time I say her pretty, gentle
name, Clémence,—not aloud, but in my thoughts.  Would she have loved me
if she had stayed?

Does she love me, where she is with God?  They say she was so gentle and
pious, I am sure she must be in Heaven.  She stayed only a very little
while with us; I was not two years old when she died. Marguerite says
she used to carry me up and down the long gallery, looking tenderly down
at my baby face, and call me her darling, her dove, her precious Elaine.
Oh, why could I not have heard her, to remember it, only once?

There is no need to ask why I feel lonely and desolate, and muse on my
dead mother, as I always do when I am miserable.  I can never be
anything else, now that Guy is gone.  Monseigneur, our gracious Lord and
father, gave consent a month since that Guy should take the holy cross,
and yesterday morning he set forth with a company on his perilous
journey.  Was there no one in all the world but my Guy to fight for our
Lord’s sepulchre?  And does our Lord think so very much about it, that
He does not care though a maiden’s heart be broken and her life
desolate, if she give up her best beloved to defend it?

Well, I suppose it is wrong to say that.  The good God is always good,
of course.  And I suppose it is right that Guy should put the sepulchre
before me.  He is the true knight, to sacrifice himself to duty; and I
am not the noble-hearted damsel, if I wish he had done otherwise.  And I
suppose the great tears that fell on that red cross while I was
broidering it, were displeasing to the good God. He ought to have the
best.  Oh yes!  I see that, quite clearly.  And yet I wonder why He
wanted my best, when He has all the saints and angels round Him, to do
Him homage.  And I had only Guy.  I cannot understand it.

Oh dear!  I do get so puzzled, sometimes.  I think this is a very
perplexing world to live in. And it is of no use to say a word to Alix,
because she only calls me a simpleton, and that does not explain
anything: and Marguerite says, "Hush! My Damoiselle would not speak
against the good God?"

And neither of them helps me a bit.  They do not see that I never mean
to speak against the good God.  I only want to understand.  They do not
feel the same sort of want, I suppose, and so they think it wicked in me
to feel it.

Does my mother understand it all?  Must one die, to understand?  And if
so, why?

Guy would let me ask him such questions.  I do not know that he saw the
answer any better than I did, but at least we could agree in feeling
them, and could try to puzzle the way out.  But Alix appears not even to
see what I mean.  And it is disheartening, when one takes the trouble to
brace up one’s courage to ask such questions from somebody above one, of
whom one feels ever so little afraid, only to be told in reply what the
same person had told one a hundred times before—that one is a simpleton.

I wish somebody would listen to me.  If I could have seen a saint,—some
one who lived in perpetual communion with our Lord, and knew all things!
But do saints know all things?  If so, why could not I be a saint
myself, and then I should know too?

Well, I have no doubt of the answer to that question.  For if I were a
saint, I must first be a nun; and that would mean to go away from home,
and never, never see Guy any more.

Oh no! that would not do.  So it is plain I can never be a saint.

When I come to think about it, I doubt if there ever were a saint in our
family.  Of course we are one of the oldest families in Poitou, and
indeed I might say, in France; for Count Hugues I. lived about nine
hundred years after our Lord, and that is nearly as far back as
Charlemagne.  And Monseigneur has no one above him but our gracious Lord
the Count of Poitou, who is in his turn a vassal of our suzerain, the
King of England, and he pays homage to the King of France.

I never did like that, and I don’t now.  I cannot see why our King
should pay homage to the King of France for his dominions on this side
of the sea.[#]  The French say there were Kings in France before there
ever were in England.  Well, that may be so: but I am sure it was not
long before, and our King is every bit as good as the King of France.
When Raoul wants to tease me, he says I am a Frenchwoman.  And I won’t
be called a Frenchwoman. I am not a subject of King Louis.  I am a
Poitevine, and a subject of the Lord Henry, King of England and Count of
Poitou, to begin with: and under him, of his son the Lord Richard,[#]
who is now our young Count; and beneath him again, of Monseigneur, my
own father, who has as much power in his own territory as the King
himself.


[#] This homage, exacted by the Kings of France, was always a sore
subject with the Kings of England, who took every opportunity of evading
that personal payment of it which it was the anxiety of the French
monarchs to secure.

[#] Cœur-de-Lion.


It is true, Monseigneur’s territory is not very large.  But Father Eudes
told us one day, when he was giving us our Latin lessons, that the great
Emperor of Rome, Monseigneur Julius Cæsar, who was such a wonderful man
and a great magician, used to say that he would rather be the first in a
village than the second in imperial Rome itself. And that is just what I
feel.  I would rather be the Damoiselle Elaine, daughter of Monseigneur
the Count of Lusignan, than I would be the niece or cousin of the Queen
of France.  I do like to be at the top of everything.  And I would
rather be at the top of a little thing than at the bottom of a big one.

Marguerite smiles and shakes her head when I say so to her.  She says it
is pleasanter down at the bottom.  It makes me laugh to hear her.  It is
natural enough that she should think so, as she is only a villein, and
of course she is at the bottom. And it is very well if she likes it.  I
could never bear it.  But then I am noble, and it could not be expected
that I should do so.

Though we never had a saint in our House, yet, as every one knows, we
sprang from a supernatural source.  The root of the House of Lusignan
was the Fairy Mélusine, who was the loveliest creature imaginable, but
half woman and half serpent.  I do not know when she lived, but it must
have been ages ago; and she built the Castle of Lusignan by enchantment.
Sometimes, on a still summer evening, any one who is out alone will
catch a glimpse of her, bathing in the fountain which stands in the
pleasance.[#]  I would not cross the pleasance after dark on a summer
evening—no, not to be made a queen.  I should be frightened to death of
seeing the Lady Mélusine.  For when any one of our line is about to die,
she is sure to appear, so I should think I was going to die if I saw
her.  She comes, too, when any great calamity is threatening France.
Perhaps I should not be quite sure to die, but I would rather not risk
it.  I never did see her, the saints be thanked; and Marguerite says she
never did.  I think she cannot have appeared for a long time.  About
forty years ago, before the death of the Lady Poncette, Countess of
Angoulême, who was a daughter of our House, Arlette, the mother of our
varlet Robert, thought she saw the Lady Mélusine; but it was nearly
dark, and there were trees between them, and Arlette is near-sighted, so
it was not possible to be sure.  But she says her mother-in-law’s
niece’s grand-aunt really did see her, and no mistake at all about it.
She was bathing in the fountain, and she splashed her long tail about
till the maiden almost lost her wits from the fright.  And the very next
year, Count Hugues the Good was murdered by the Duke of Guienne’s
people.  Which shows plainly that there are such things as ghosts.


[#] Pleasure-grounds.


The night before Guy went away—can it be two evenings since,—only
two?—we crept into the long gallery, as we two always do when we want a
quiet talk, and sat down in that window from which you get the lovely
view of the church spire through the trees, across the river.  That is
always our favourite window.  Guy was trying to comfort me, and I am
rather afraid I was crying.  And he said, drawing me up to him, and
kissing me,—

"Now, my little Elaine, there have been tears enough for once.  I am not
going to forget thee, any more than thou meanest to forget me.  When I
have fought the Saracens, and taken Saladin captive, and brought him in
chains to Jerusalem, and the King has made me a Count, and given me a
beautiful lady for my wife, and everybody is talking about me,"—of
course I knew that was only Guy’s fun; he did not really expect all
that,—"then," he went on, "I will send home for Amaury and my little
pet, and you shall come to me in the Holy Land.  Monseigneur promised me
that, thou knowest.  He said it would be an excellent thing for thee;
because thou wouldst not only have all thy sins forgiven at the Holy
Sepulchre, but very likely I should have the chance of getting a good
husband for thee.  And I have talked well to Amaury about taking care of
thee on the journey; and Marguerite must attend thee.  So look forward
to that, Lynette, and dry those red eyes."

"They will be red till thou comest back, Guy!" said I, with another
burst of tears.

"I am sure I hope not!" he answered, laughing. "They will be very ugly
if they are; and then how am I to get thee a husband?"

"I don’t care about one, I thank thee," said I "So that does not
signify."

"Ah, that is because thou art fourteen," said Guy; "wait till thou art
four-and-twenty."

There, now! if I could have been vexed with my own dear Guy, and just
when he was going away for ever—at least it looks very like for ever—but
of course I could not.  But why will men—even the very best of
them—always fancy that a girl cares more for a husband than anything
else in this world?  However, I let it pass.  How could I quarrel with
Guy?

"Guy," I said, "dost thou care very much about having a beautiful lady
for thy wife?"

Guy takes the Cross.

"Oh, certainly!" replied Guy, pursing up his lips, and pretending to be
grave.

I did not like the idea one bit.  I felt more inclined to cry till Guy
came back than ever.

"What will she be like, Guy?" I asked, trying not to show it.

"She will be the loveliest creature in all the world," said Guy, "with
eyes as black as sloes, and hair like a raven’s plumage; and so rich
that whenever she puts her hand in her pocket thou wilt hear the besants
go chink, chink against each other."

"Wilt thou love her, Guy?" I said, gulping down my thoughts.

"To distraction!" replied Guy, casting up his eyes.

Well, I knew all the while it was nonsense, but I did feel so miserable
I could not tell what to do.  I know Raoul and Guillot have a notion
that they are only fulfilling the ends of their being by teasing their
sisters; but it was something so very new for Guy.

"But thou wilt not give over loving _me_, Guy?" I wailed, and I am sure
there were tears in my voice as well as my eyes.

"My dear, foolish little Lynette!" said Guy, half laughing, and
smoothing my hair; "dost thou not know me any better than that?  Why, I
shall be afraid of talking nonsense, or sense either, if thou must needs
take it to heart in that style."

I felt rather comforted, but I did not go on with that.  There was
something else that I wanted to ask Guy, and it was my last opportunity.

"Guy," I said softly, after a moment’s pause, "canst thou remember my
mother?"

"Oh yes, darling," he said.  "I was eleven years old when she died."

"Didst thou love her?" said I.

"Very dearly," he answered—quite grave now.

"Am I like her, Guy?"

Guy looked down on me, and smiled.

"Yes—and no," he said.  "The Lady Clémence had lighter hair than thou;
and her smile was very sweet.  Thine eyes are darker, too, and
brighter—there is something of the falcon in them: she had the eyes of
the dove.  Yet there is a likeness, though it is not easy to tell thee
what."

"Did Monseigneur love her very much, Guy?" I said.

"More than he ever loved any other, I think," answered Guy.  "He was
married to my mother when both were little children, as thou knowest is
generally the case: but he married thine for love. And—I don’t know, but
I always fancy that is the reason why he has ever been unwilling to have
us affianced in infancy.  When people are married as babies, and when
they grow up they find that they do not like each other, it must be very
disagreeable, I should think."

"I should think it was just horrible, Guy," said I. "But Alix and
Guillot were affianced as babies."

"So they were," said he.  "But I doubt if Guillot ever cared about it."

"Why, is Umberge one to care about?" I replied. "There is nothing in her
of any sort.  Was Alix very sorry, Guy, when her betrothed died?  How
old was she?"

"About ten years old," he said.  "Oh no—not she.  I do not think she had
seen him five times."

"Well," I said, "I am very glad that I was not treated in that way."

So we went on talking.  I hardly know what we talked about, or rather
what we did not; for it was first one thing and then another, as our
thoughts led that way.  I asked Guy if he thought that our mothers knew
what befel us here on earth, and he said he supposed they must, for how
else could the saints and angels hear us?

I saw old Marguerite at one end of the gallery, and I am sure she was
come to bid me go to bed: but as soon as she caught sight of Guy and me
talking in the window, she made believe to be about something else, and
slipped away again. She knew I wanted to have my talk out with Guy. The
last talk I may ever have with him for years!

And now it is all over, and Guy is gone.

I wonder how he will get on!  Will he do some grand, gallant deed, and
be sent for to the Court of the Holy Land, and made a Count or a
Duke?—and have all sorts of jewels and riches given him? Perhaps the
Queen will put a chaplet of flowers on his head, and all the Princesses
will dance with him, and he will be quite a hero.  But about that
beautiful lady,—I don’t feel at all comfortable about her! I cannot tell
whether I should love her or hate her. If she did not almost worship
Guy, I am sure I should hate her.

And then there is another side to the picture, which I do not like to
look at in the least.  Instead of all this, Guy may get taken prisoner,
and may languish out twenty years in some Saracen dungeon—perhaps, all
his life!

Oh dear, dear!  I don’t know what to do!  And the worst of it is, that
nothing I can do will make any difference.

Why does the good God let there be any Saracens? Marguerite says—and so
does Father Eudes, so it must be true—that God can do everything, and
that He wants everybody to be a good Christian. Then why does He not
make us all good Christians? That is what I want to know.  Oh, I cannot,
cannot make it out!

But then they all say, "Hush, hush!" and "Fie, Damoiselle!" as if I had
said something very wicked and shocking.  They say the good God will be
very angry.  Why is the good God angry when we want to know?

I wonder why men and women were ever made at all.  I wonder why _I_ was
made.  Did the good God want me for something, that He took the pains to
make me?  Oh, can nobody tell me why the good God wanted me?

He must be good, for He made all so beautiful. And He might have made
things ugly.  But then, sometimes, He lets such dreadful things happen.
Are there not earthquakes and thunderstorms? And why does He let nice
people die?  Could not—well, I suppose that is wicked.  No, it isn’t! I
may as well say it as think it.—Would it not have done as well if Alix
had died, and my mother had lived?  It would have been so much nicer!
And what difference would it have made in Heaven—I hope Alix would have
gone there—where they have all the angels, and all the saints?  Surely
they could have spared my mother—better than I can.

Well, I suppose—as Alix says when she wants one to be quiet—"it is no
use talking."  Things are so, and I cannot change them.  And all my
tears will not give me Guy back.  I must try to think of the neuvaine[#]
which he has promised to offer for me at the Holy Sepulchre, and hope
that he won’t be taken prisoner, and that he will be made a Count,
and—well, and try to reconcile myself to that beautiful lady who is to
have Guy instead of me.  Oh dear me!


[#] Nine days’ masses.


Now, there is another thing that puzzles me. (Every thing puzzles me in
this world.  I wish there had been another to which I could have gone,
where things would not have puzzled me.)  If God be everywhere—as Father
Eudes says—why should prayers offered at the Holy Sepulchre be of more
value than prayers offered in my bedchamber?  I cannot see any reason,
unless it were that God[#] loves the Holy Land so very much, because He
lived and died there, that He is oftener there than anywhere else, and
so there is a better chance of getting Him to hear.  But how then can He
be everywhere?


[#] In using this one of the Divine Names, a mediæval Romanist almost
always meant to indicate the Second Person of the Trinity only.


Why will people—wise people, I mean—not try to answer such questions?
Marguerite only says, "Hush, then, my Damoiselle!"  Alix says, "Oh, do
be quiet!  When will you give over being so silly?"  And Monseigneur
pats me on the head, and answers, "Why should my cabbage trouble her
pretty little head?  Those are matters for doctors of the schools,
little one.  Go thou and call the minstrels, or bind some smart ribbons
in thine hair; that is more fit for such maidens as thou."

Do _they_ never want to know?  And why should the answers be only fit
for learned men, if the questions keep coming and worrying me?  If I
could once know, I should give over wanting to know.  But how can I give
over till I do?

Either the world has got pulled into a knot, or else I have.  And so far
from being able to undo me, nobody seems to see that I am on a knot at
all.

"If you please, Damoiselle, the Damoiselle Alix wishes to know where
your Nobleness put the maccaroons."

"Oh dear, Héloïse!  I forgot to make them.  Can she not do without
them?"

"If you please, Damoiselle, your noble sister says that the Lady Umberge
will be here for the spice this afternoon, and your Excellence is aware
that she likes maccaroons."

Yes, I am—better than I like her.  I never did see anybody eat so many
at once as she does. She will do for once with cheesecakes.  I would not
mind staying up all night to make maccaroons for Guy, but I am sure
cheesecakes are good enough for Umberge.  And Alix does make good
cheese-cakes—I will give her that scrap of praise.

"Well, Héloïse—I don’t know.  I really think we should do.  But I
suppose—is there time to make them now?"

"If you please, Damoiselle, it is three o’clock by the sundial."

"Then it is too late."

And I thought, but of course I did not say to Héloïse,—How Alix will
scold!  I heard her step on the stairs, and I fairly ran.  But I did not
lose my lecture.

"Elaine!" cried Alix’s shrill voice, "where are you?"

Alix might be a perfect stranger, for the way in which she always calls
me _you_.  I came out.  I knew it was utterly useless to try to hide.

"Where have you put those new maccaroons?"

"They are not made, Alix," I said, trying to look as if I did not care.

"Not made?  Saint Martin of Tours help us! What can you have been
doing?"

I was silent.

"I say, what were you doing?" demanded Alix, with a stamp of her foot.

"Never mind.  I forgot the maccaroons."

If I had been speaking to any one but Alix, I should have added that I
was sorry.  But she is always so angry that it seems to dry up any
regret on my part.

"You naughty girl!" Alix blazed out.  "You very, very naughty girl!
There is no possibility of relying on you for one instant.  You go
dreaming away, and forget everything one tells you.  You are silly,
_silly_!"

The tone that Alix put into that last word!  It was enough to provoke
all the saints in the calendar.

"There will be plenty without them," said I.

"Hold your tongue, and don’t give me any impudence!" retorted Alix.

I thought I might have said the same.  If Alix would speak more kindly,
I am sure I should not get so vexed.  I can’t imagine what she would say
if I were to do something really wicked, for she exhausts her whole
vocabulary on my gathering the wrong flowers, or forgetting to make
cakes.

"Don’t be cross, Alix," I said, trying to keep the peace.  "I really did
forget them."

"Oh dear, yes, I never doubted it!" answered Alix, in that way of hers
which always tries my patience. "Life is sacred to the memory of Guy,
but my trouble and Umberge’s likings are of no consequence at all!  And
it does not matter that the Baron de Montbeillard and his lady will be
here, and that we shall have a dish too little on the table.  Not in the
least!"

"Well, really, Alix, I don’t think it does much matter," said I.

"Of course not.  And the Lady de Montbeillard will not go home and tell
everybody what a bad housekeeper I am, and how little I care to have
things nice for my guests—Oh dear, no!"

"If you treat her kindly, I should think her very ungrateful if she
did," said I.

Alix flounced away with—"I wish you were gone after Guy!"

And so did I.

But at night, just before I dropped asleep, a new idea came to me—an
idea that never occurred to me before.

Do I try Alix as much as she tries me?

Oh dear!  I hope not.  It cannot be.  I don’t think it is possible.  Is
it?

I wish I had not forgotten those cakes.  Alix did seem so put out.  And
I suppose it was rather annoying—perhaps.

I did not like her saying that I was not to be trusted.  I don’t think
that was fair.  And I cannot bear injustice.  Still, I did forget the
cakes.  And if she had trusted me, it was only reasonable that she
should feel disappointed.  But she did not need to have been so angry,
and have said such disagreeable things.  Well, I suppose I was angry
too; but I show my anger in a different way from Alix.  I do not know
which of us was more wrong.  I think it was Alix.  Yes, I am sure it
was.  She treats me abominably.  It is enough to make anybody angry.

Those limes seem to come up and look reproachfully at me, when I say
that.  I was not at all well—it might be three years ago: rather
feverish, and very cross.  And two travelling pedlars came to the Castle
gate.  One sold rare and costly fruits, and the other silken stuffs.
Now I know that Alix had been saving up her money for a gold-coloured
ribbon, for which she had a great fancy; and there was a lovely one in
that pedlar’s stock—in fact, I have never since seen one quite so
pretty.  Alix had just enough to buy it.  She could not get any more,
because the treasurer was away with Monseigneur at the hawking.  But she
saw my wistful glances at the limes in the other pedlar’s panniers, and
she bought some for me.  They were delicious: but Alix went without her
gold-coloured ribbon. She had no other chance of it, for the pedlar was
on his way to the great Whitsuntide fair at Poictiers, and he would not
stay even one night.[#]


[#] At the period of this story, shops were nearly unknown except in the
largest towns.  Country families—noble, gentle, or peasant—had to rely
on laying in a stock of goods at the great fairs, held at Easter,
Whitsuntide, Michaelmas, and Christmas; and for anything wanted between
those periods, recourse was had to travelling pedlars, who also served
as carriers and postmen when occasion demanded it.


I wonder if it be possible that Alix really loves me,—just one little
bit!  And I wonder if we could give over rasping one another as we do.
It would be very difficult.

But if I ever do follow Guy, I will bring back, from Byzantium or
Damascus, something beautiful for Alix, to make up for that gold ribbon.
It was good of her.  And I do wish I had remembered those maccaroons!



                             *CHAPTER II.*

                    _*TWO SURPRISES FOR ELAINE*_*.*


    "I feel within me
    A mind above all earthly dignities,
    A still and quiet conscience."
      —SHAKSPERE.


I should like to know, if I could find out, what it is that makes Alix
have such a fancy for Lady Isabeau de Montbeillard.  I think she is just
abominable.  She finishes off every sentence with a little crackling
laugh, which it drives me wild to hear.  It makes no difference what it
is about. Whether it be, "Dear Damoiselle, how kind you are!" or "Do you
not think my lord looks but poorly?" they all end up with "Ha, ha, ha!"
Sometimes I feel as though I could shake her like Lovel does the rats.

If Lady Isabeau were like Alix in her ways, I would understand it
better; but they are totally unlike, and yet they seem to have a fancy
for each other.

As for the Baron, I don’t care a bit about him any way.  He is like
Umberge in that respect—there is nothing in him either to like or
dislike. And if there can be still less of anything than in him, I think
it is in his brother, Messire Raymond, who sits with his mouth a little
open, staring at one as if one were a curiosity in a show.

Alix told me this morning that I was too censorious. I am afraid that
last sentence looks rather like it.  Perhaps I had better stop.

The Baron and his lady went with us to the hawking, and so did Messire
Raymond; but he never caught so much as a sparrow.  Then, after we came
back, I had to try on my new dress, which Marguerite had just finished.
It really is a beauty. The under-tunic is of crimson velvet, the
super-tunic of blue samite embroidered in silver; the mantle of reddish
tawny, with a rich border of gold.  I shall wear my blue kerchief with
it, which Monseigneur gave me last New Year’s Day, and my golden girdle
studded with sapphires.  The sleeves are the narrowest I have yet had,
for the Lady de Montbeillard told Alix that last time she was at the
Court, the sleeves were much tighter at the wrist than they used to be,
and she thinks, in another twenty years or so, the pocketing sleeve[#]
may be quite out of fashion.  It would be odd if sleeves were to be made
the same width all the way down.  But the Lady de Montbeillard saw Queen
Marguerite[#] when she was at Poictiers, and she says that the Queen
wore a tunic of the most beautiful pale green, and her sleeves were the
closest worn by any lady there.


[#] One of the most uncomely and inconvenient vagaries of fashion. The
sleeve was moderately tight from shoulder to elbow, and just below the
elbow it went off in a wide pendant sweep, reaching almost to the knee.
The pendant part was used as a pocket.

[#] Daughter of Louis VII., King of France, and Constança of Castilla:
wife of Henry, eldest son of Henry II. of England.  Her husband was
crowned during his father’s life, and by our mediæval chroniclers is
always styled Henry the Third.


I wish I were a queen.  It is not because I think it would be grand, but
because queens and princesses wear their coronets over their kerchiefs
instead of under.  And it is such a piece of business to fasten one’s
kerchief every morning with the coronet underneath.  Marguerite has less
trouble than I have with it, as she has nothing to fasten but the
kerchief.  And if it is not done to perfection I am sure to hear of it
from Alix.

When Marguerite was braiding my hair this morning, I asked her if she
knew why she was made.  She was ready enough with her answer.

"To serve you, Damoiselle, without doubt."

"And why was I made, dost thou think, Marguerite? To be served by
thee—or to serve some one else?"

"Of course, while the Damoiselle is young and at home, she will serve
Monseigneur.  Then, when the cavalier comes who pleases Monseigneur and
the good God, he will serve the Damoiselle.  And afterwards,—it is the
duty of a good wife to serve her lord.  And of course, all, nobles and
villeins, must serve the good God."

"Well, thou hast settled it easier than I could do it," said I.  "But,
Margot, dost thou never become tired of all this serving?"

"Not now, Damoiselle."

"What dost thou mean by that?"

"Ah, there was a time," said Marguerite, and I thought a blush burned on
her dear old face, "when I was a young, silly maiden, and very, very
foolish, Damoiselle."

"Dost thou think all maidens silly, Margot?"

"Very few wise, Damoiselle.  My foolish head was full of envious
thoughts, I know that—vain wishes that I had been born a noble lady,
instead of a villein maiden.  I thought scorn to serve, and would fain
have been born to rule."

"How very funny!" said I.  "I never knew villeins had any notions of
that sort.  I thought they were quite content."

"Is the noble Damoiselle always quite content? Pardon me."

"Why, no," said I.  "But then, Margot, I am noble, and nobles may
rightfully aspire.  Villeins ought to be satisfied with the lot which
the good God has marked out for them, and with the honour of serving a
noble House."

"Ha, Damoiselle!  The Damoiselle has used a deep, strong word.  Satisfy!
I believe nothing will satisfy any living heart of man or woman,—except
that one thing."

"What one thing?"

"I am an ignorant villein, my Damoiselle.  I do not know the holy Latin
tongue, as ladies do.  But now and then Father Eudes will render some
words of the blessed Evangel into French in his sermon. And he did so
that day—when I was satisfied."

"What was it that satisfied thee, then, Margot?"

"They were words, Father Eudes said, of the good God Himself, when He
walked on middle earth among us men.  ’Come unto Me,’ He said, ’all ye
that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.’"

"But I do not understand, Marguerite.  How did those words satisfy
thee?"

"The words did not, Damoiselle.  But the thing did.  I just took the
blessed Lord at His word, and went to Him, and, thanks be to His holy
Name, He gave me rest."

"What dost thou mean, Margot?"

"Will the dear Damoiselle not come and try? She will want rest, some
day."

"Had I not better wait till I am tired?" said I, laughingly.

"Ah, yes! we never want rest till we are tired.—But not wait to come to
the merciful Lord.  Oh no, no!"

"Nay, I cannot comprehend thee, Margot."

"No, my Damoiselle.  She is not likely to know how to come until she
wants to do it.  When she does want it, the good God will hear the
Damoiselle, for He heard her servant."

"Didst thou entreat the intercession of Saint Marguerite?"

"Ah, no.  I am but an ignorant old woman.  The dear Lord said, ’Come
unto _Me_.’  And I thought, perhaps, He meant it.  So I just went."

"But how couldst thou, Margot?"

"If it please my Damoiselle, I did it.  And if He had been angry, I
suppose He would not have heard me."

"But how dost thou know He did hear thee?"

"When the Damoiselle entreats Monseigneur to give her a silver mark, and
he opens his purse and gives it, is it possible for her to doubt that he
has heard her?  The good God must have heard me, because He gave me
rest."

"I do not understand, Margot, what thou meanest by rest.  And I want to
know all about it.  Have things given over puzzling thee?  Is there some
light come upon them?"

"It seems to me, Damoiselle, if I be not too bold in speaking my poor
thoughts"——

"Go on," said I.  "I want to know them."

"Then, my Damoiselle, it seems to me that there are two great lights in
which we may see every thing in this world.  The first is a fierce
light, like the sun.  But it blinds and dazzles us.  The holy angels
perchance can bear it, for it streams from the Throne of God, and they
stand before that Throne.  But we cannot.  Our mortal eyes must be
hidden in that dread and unapproachable light.  And if I mistake not, it
is by this light that the Damoiselle has hitherto tried to see things,
and no wonder that her eyes are dazzled.  But the other light soothes
and enlightens.  It is soft and clear, like the moonlight, and it
streams from the Cross of Calvary. There the good God paid down, in the
red gold of His own blood, the price of our redemption.  It must have
been because He thought it worth while. And if He paid such a price for
a poor villein woman like me, He must have wanted me.  The Damoiselle
would not cast a pearl into the Vienne for which she had paid a thousand
crowns.  And if He cared enough about me to give His life for me, then
He must care enough to be concerned about my welfare in this lower
world.  The Damoiselle would not refuse a cup of water to him to whom
she was willing to give a precious gem. Herein lies rest.  What the good
God, who thus loves me, wills for me, I will for myself also."

"But, Marguerite, it might be something that would break thine heart."

"Would the blessed Lord not know that?  But I do not think He breaks
hearts that are willing to be His.  He melts them.  It is the hearts
that harden themselves like a rock which have to be broken."

"But thou wouldst not like something which hurt thee?"

"Not enjoy it—no, no.  Did the Damoiselle enjoy the verdigris plaster
which the apothecary put on her when she was ill three years ago?  Yet
she did not think him her enemy, but her friend.  Ah, the good God has
His medicine-chest.  And it holds smarting plasters and bitter drugs.
But they are better than to be ill, Damoiselle."

"Marguerite, I had no idea thou wert such a philosopher."

"Ah, the noble Damoiselle is pleased to laugh at her servant, who does
not know what that hard word means.  No, there is nothing old Marguerite
knows, only how to come to the blessed Lord and ask Him for rest.  _He_
gave the rest.  And He knew how to do it."

I wonder if old Marguerite is not the truest philosopher of us all.  It
is evident that things do not puzzle her, just because she lets them
alone, and leaves them with God.  Still, that is not knowing.  And I
want to know.

Oh, I wish I could tell if it is wicked to want to know!

I wonder if the truth be that there are things which we cannot
know:—things which the good God does not tell us, not because He wishes
us to be ignorant, but because He could not possibly make us comprehend
them.  But then why did He not make us wiser?—or why does He let
questions perplex us to which we can find no answer?

I think it must be that He does not wish us to find the answer.  And
why?  I will see what idea Marguerite has about that.  She seems to get
hold of wise notions in some unintelligible way, for of course she is
only a villein, and cannot have as much sense as a noble.

There was that tiresome Messire Raymond in the hall when I went down.
He is noble enough, for his mother’s mother was a Princess of the
Carlovingian[#] blood: but I am sure he has no more sense than he needs.
The way in which he says "Ah!" when I tell him anything, just
exasperates me.  The Baron, his brother, is a shade better, though he
will never wear a laurel crown.[#]  Still, he does not say "Ah!"


[#] A descendant of Charlemagne.

[#] The prize of intellect.


I don’t like younger brothers.  In fact, I don’t think I like men of any
sort.  Except Guy, of course—and Monseigneur.  But then other men are
not like them.  Guillot, and Amaury, and Raoul rank with the other men.

I wonder if women are very much better.  I don’t think they are, if I am
to look upon Alix and the Lady de Montbeillard as samples.

Oh dear, I wonder why I hate people so!  It must be because they are
hateful.  Does anybody think _me_ hateful?  How queer it would be, if
they did!


I really do feel, to-night, as if I did not know whether I was standing
on my feet or on my head. I cannot realise it one bit.  Alix going to be
married!  Alix going away from the Castle!  And I—I—to be the only
mistress there!

Monseigneur called me down into the hall, as I stood picking the dead
leaves from my rose-bushes for a pot-pourri.  There was no one in the
hall but himself.  Well, of course there were a quantity of servitors
and retainers, but they never count for anything.  I mean, there was
nobody that is anybody.  He bade me come up to him, and he drew me
close, kissed me on the forehead, and stroked down my hair.

"What will my cabbage say to what I have to tell her?" said he.

"Is it something pleasant, Monseigneur?" said I.

"Now, there thou posest me," he answered, "Yes,—in one light.  No,—in
another.  And in which of the two lights thou wilt see it, I do not yet
know."

I looked up into his face and waited.

"Dost thou like Messire Raymond de Montbeillard?"

"No, Monseigneur," I answered.

"No?  Ha! then perchance thou wilt not like my news."

"Messire Raymond has something to do with it?"

"Every thing."

"Well," said I, I am afraid rather saucily, "so long as he does not want
to marry me, I do not much care what he does."

Monseigneur pinched my ear, kissed me, and seemed extremely amused.

"Thee?  No, no!  Not just yet, my little cabbage.  Not just yet!  But
suppose he wanted to marry Alix?"

"Does he want to marry Alix?"

"He does."

"And under your good leave, Monseigneur?"

"Well, yes.  I see no good reason to the contrary, my little cat.  He is
a brave knight, and has a fine castle, and is a real Carlovingian."[#]


[#] Throughout France in the Middle Ages, the Carlovingian blood was
rated at an extravagant value.


"He is a donkey!" said I.  "Real, too."

"Ha, hush, then!" replied Monseigneur, yet laughing, and patting my
cheek.  "Well, well—perhaps not overburdened with brains—how sharp thou
art, child, to be sure!  (No want of brains in that direction.)  But a
good, worthy man, my cabbage, and a stalwart knight."

"And when is it to be, Monseigneur?" I asked.

"In a hurry to see the fine dresses?" demanded my gracious Lord, and
laughed again.  "Nay, I think not till after Christmas.  Time enough
then. _I_ am in no hurry to lose my housekeeper.  Canst thou keep house,
my rabbit?—ha, ha!  Will there be anything for dinner?  Ha, ha, ha, ha!"

I was half frightened, and yet half delighted.  Of course, I thought, if
Alix goes away, Umberge will come and reign here.  Nobody is likely to
think me old enough or good enough.

"Under your Nobility’s good leave, I will see to that," said I.

Monseigneur answered by a peal of laughter. "Ha, ha, ha!  Showing her
talons, is she?  Wants to rule, my cabbage—does she?  A true woman, on
my troth!  Ha, ha, ha!"

"If it please you, Monseigneur, why should you come short of dinner
because I see about it?"

My gracious Lord laughed more than ever.

"No reason at all, my little rabbit!—no reason at all!  Try thy hand, by
all means—by all means!  So Umberge does not need to come?  Ha, ha, ha,
ha!"

"Certainly not for me," said I, rather piqued.

"Seriously, my little cat," said he, and his face grew grave.  "Wouldst
thou rather Umberge did not come?  Art thou not friends with her?"

"Oh, as to friends, so-so, là-là,"[#] said I.  "But I think I should get
along quite as well without her."


[#] Middling.


"But wouldst thou not weary for a woman’s company?"

"I never weary for any company but Guy’s," I answered; and I think the
tears came into my eyes.

"Is it still Guy?" said he, smiling, but very kindly now.  "Always Guy?
Well, well!  When the time comes—I promised the boy thou shouldst go out
to him.  We must wait till he writes to say he is ready to receive thee.
So Guy stands first, does he?"

I nodded, for my heart was too full to speak. He patted my head again,
and let me go.  But I thought he looked a little troubled; and I could
not tell why.

When I came to undress, the same evening, I asked Marguerite if she had
heard the news.

"The Damoiselle Alix was so gracious as to inform me," said she.

"Dost thou like it, Margot?"

"Ha, my Damoiselle!  What does it matter what a villein old woman
likes?"

"It matters to me, or I should not have asked thee," said I.

"I trust it will be for the noble Damoiselle’s welfare," said she; and I
could get her to say no more.

"Now, Margot, tell me something else," said I. "Why does the good God
not make all things clear to everybody?  What sayest thou?"

"He has not told me why, Damoiselle.  Perhaps, to teach my Damoiselle to
trust Him.  There could be no trust if we always knew."

"But is not knowing better than trusting?" I replied.

"Is it?" responded Marguerite.  "Does Monseigneur always take my
Damoiselle into his secrets, and never require her to trust him?  God is
the great King of all the world.  Kings always have secret matters.
Surely the King of kings must have His state secrets too."

This seemed putting it on a new footing.  I sat and considered the
matter, while Marguerite took off my dove cote[#] and unbound my hair.


[#] The rich network which confined the hair; often of gold and precious
stones.


"Still, I don’t see why we may not know everything," I said at last.

"Does my Damoiselle remember what stood in the midst of the beautiful
Garden of God, wherein Adam and Eva were put to dwell?"

"The tree of knowledge," said I.  "True; but that does not help me to
the why.  Why might Adam and Eva not eat it?"

"Will my Damoiselle pardon me?  I think it does help to the why; but not
to the why of the why—which is what she always wants to see.  Why Adam
and Eva might not eat it, I suppose, was because the good God forbade
it."

"But why, Marguerite?—why?"

"Ha!  I am not the good God."

"I do not see it one bit," said I.  "Surely knowledge is a good thing."

"Knowledge of good, ay,—which is knowledge of God.  The good Lord never
forbids us that.  He commands it.  But let me entreat my Damoiselle to
remember, that this was the tree of knowledge of good _and evil_.  That
we should know evil cannot be good."

"I do not understand why the good God ever let Satan be at all," said I.
"And I do not see how Satan came to be Satan, to begin with."

"The blessed Lord knows all about it," said Marguerite.  "When my
Damoiselle was a little child, I am sure she did not understand why we
gave her bitter medicines.  But the apothecary knew.  Can my Damoiselle
not leave all her questions with the good Lord?"

"I want them answered, Margot!" I cried impatiently.  "If I knew that I
should understand when I am dead, I would not so much mind waiting. But
I don’t know any thing.  And I don’t like it."

"Well, I do not know even that much," she replied.  "It may be so.  I
cannot tell.  But the good Lord knows—and He loves me."

"How knowest thou that, Marguerite?"

"People don’t die for a man, Damoiselle, unless they love him very much
indeed."

"But how dost thou know that it was for thee?"

"It was for sinners: and I am one."

"But not for all sinners, Margot.  A great many sinners will go to
perdition, Father Eudes says. How canst thou tell if thou art one of
them or not?"

"Ah, that did perplex me at first.  But one day Father Eudes read out of
the holy Gospel that all who believed in our Lord should have life
eternal: so that settled it.  The sinners that are lost must be those
who do not believe in our Lord."

"Marguerite! don’t we all believe in Him?"

"Let the Damoiselle forgive me if I speak foolishly.  But there are two
brothers among the varlets in the hall—Philippe and Robert.  Now, I
quite believe that they both exist.  I know a good deal about them.  I
know their father and mother, Pierrot and Arlette: and I know that
Philippe has a large nose and black hair, and he is fond of porpoise;
while Robert has brown hair and limps a little, and he likes quinces.
Yet, if I wanted to send a crown to my niece Perette, I should feel
quite satisfied that Robert would carry it straight to her, while I
should not dare to give it to Philippe, lest he should go to the next
cabaret and spend it in wine.  Now, don’t I believe in Robert in a very
different way from that in which I believe in Philippe?"

"Why, thou meanest that Robert may be trusted, but Philippe cannot be,"
said I.  "But what has it to do with the matter?"

"Let the Damoiselle think a moment.  Does she simply believe that the
good God is, or does she trust Him?"

"Trust Him!—with what?" said I.

"With yourself, my Damoiselle."

"With myself!" I exclaimed.  "Nay, Margot, what dost thou mean now?"

"How does the Damoiselle trust Monseigneur? Has she any care lest he
should fail to provide her with food and clothing suitable to her rank?
Does it not seem to her a matter of course that so long as he lives he
will always love her, and care for her, and never forget nor neglect
her?  Has she ever lain awake at night fretting over the idea that
Monseigneur might give over providing for her or being concerned about
her welfare?"

"What a ridiculous notion!" I cried.  "Why, Margot, I simply could not
do it.  He is my father."

"And what does my Damoiselle read in the holy Psalter?  Is it not ’Like
as a father pitieth his children, even so the Lord pitieth them that
fear Him?’  Is He not Our Father?"

"Yes, of course we expect the good God to take care of us," I replied.
"But then, Margot, it is a different thing.  And thou knowest He does
not always take care of us in that way.  He lets all sorts of things
happen to hurt and grieve us."

"Then, when my Damoiselle is ill, and Monseigneur sends off in hot haste
for Messire Denys to come and bleed her in the foot, he is _not_ taking
care of her?  It hurts her, I think."

"Oh, that has to be, Margot.  As thou saidst, it is better than being
ill."

"And—let my Damoiselle bear with her servant—is there no ’must be’ with
the good God?"

"But I don’t see why, Margot.  He could make us well all in a minute.
Monseigneur cannot."

"Yet suppose it is better that my Damoiselle should not be made well all
in a minute, but should learn by suffering to be patient in sickness,
and thankful for her usual good health?  Did not Monseigneur Saint David
say, ’It is good for me that I have been afflicted’?"

"Oh, what a queer idea!" said I.

"Is it?" quietly answered Marguerite.  "I once heard a young noble lady
say, about three years ago, that it was so delightful to feel well again
after being ill, that it really was worth while going through the pain
to reach it.  And I think,—if I may be pardoned the allusion,—I think
they called her the Damoiselle Elaine de Lusignan."

I could not help laughing.  "Well, I dare say I did say something like
it.  But, Margot, it is only when I am getting well that I think so.
When I am well, to begin with, I don’t want to go through the pain
again."

"When my Damoiselle is truly well of the mortal disease of sin, she will
never need to go through the pain again.  But that will not be till the
sin and the body are laid down together."

"Till we die—dost thou mean that?"

"Till we die."

"O Margot! don’t.  I hate to think of dying."

"Yes.  It is pleasanter to think of living.  They are well for whom all
the dying comes first, and the life is hereafter."

"Well, I suppose I shall be all right," said I, jumping into bed.
"Monseigneur pays my Church dues, and I hear the holy mass sung every
day.  I say my prayers night and morning, and in all my life I never was
so wicked as to touch meat on a fast-day. I think, on the whole, I am a
very good girl."

"Will my Damoiselle be angry if I ask her whether the good Lord thinks
the same?"

"O Marguerite! how can I know?"

"Because, if Father Eudes read it right, we do know.  ’There is none
that doeth good, no, not one.’"

"Margot, how thou must listen to Father Eudes! I hear him mumbling away,
but I never bother my head with what he is saying.  He has got to say
it; and I have got to sit there till he has done; that is all.  I amuse
myself in all sorts of ways—count the bits of glass in the window, or
watch the effect of the crimson and blue light creeping over the stalls
and pillars, or think how Saint Agatha would look in a green robe
instead of a purple one.  What makes thee listen to all the stuff he
says?"

"My Damoiselle sees that—saving her presence—I am a little like her.  I
want to know."

"But Father Eudes never tells us anything worth knowing, surely!"

"Ha!  Pardon me, my Damoiselle.  He reads the true words of the good God
from the holy Evangels. Commonly they are in the holy Latin tongue, and
then I can only stand and listen reverently to the strange sounds: the
good God understands, not I. But now and then I suppose the blessed Lord
whispers to Father Eudes to put it into French for a moment: and that is
what I am listening for all the time.  Then I treasure the words up like
some costly gem; and say them to myself a hundred times over, so that I
may never forget them any more.  Oh, it is a glad day for me when Father
Eudes says those dear words in French!"

"But how thou dost care about it, Margot!  I suppose thou hast so few
things to think of, and delight in—I have more to occupy me."

"Ah, my Damoiselle!  The blessed Lord said that His good word was choked
up and brought no fruit when the cares of other things entered into the
heart.  No, I have not much to think of but my work, and—three graves in
a village churchyard, and one——And I have not much to delight in save
the words of the blessed Lord.  Yet—let my Damoiselle bear with me!—I am
better off than she."

"O Margot!"  And I laughed till the tears came into my eyes.  It was so
excessively absurd.

Marguerite took up the lamp.

"May the good God and His angels watch over my sweet Damoiselle," she
said.

And then she tucked the silken coverlet round me, and put out the lamp,
that the light should not keep me awake; and quietly undressed herself,
and got into the trundle-bed.  And I was asleep almost before she lay
down.

But, Oh dear, how ridiculous!  Marguerite better off than I am!  There
is no harm in her fancying it, dear old thing; but the comicality of the
idea! Why, I dress in velvet and diaper, and she in unshorn wool; and I
lie on a feather-bed, under fustian blankets and satin coverlets, and
she sleeps on straw with a woollen rug over her; and I ride, and hawk,
and sing, and dance, and embroider,—and she is hard at all sorts of
rough work from morning to night.  Why, she cannot wear a jewel, nor a
bit of gold, nor have any sort of pleasure except singing and dancing,
and she is too old for both.  Of course, such things as nobles amuse
themselves with are not fit for villeins.  But that a villein should
fancy for a moment that she is better off than a noble—Oh, it is too
absurd for any thing!

Well, really!—better off than I am!



                             *CHAPTER III.*

                  _*ALL IS NOT GOLD THAT GLITTERS*_*.*


    "All things that can satisfy,
    Having Jesus, those have I."


So all is over, and Alix is really gone!  It was a grand wedding.  The
bride was in blue velvet, embroidered in gold, with golden girdle,
fermail,[#] and aumonière; her mantle was of gold-coloured satin, and
her under-tunic of black damask.  I thought she chose her colours with
very good taste (more than Alix generally does); but one should look
nice on one’s wedding-day, if one ever is to do.  And she did look nice,
in her gemmed coronal, and no hood, and all her hair flowing over her
shoulders.[#]  As for Messire Raymond, I nearly went into fits when I
caught sight of him.  The creature had dressed himself in a yellow
tunic, with a brick-red super-tunic, and flesh-coloured hose.  Then he
had green boots, striped in gold; and a sky-blue mantle studded with
golden stars.  Raoul said he must fancy that he was Jupiter, since he
had clad himself with the firmament: but Amaury replied that, with all
that flame-colour, he must be Vulcan, if he were a Pagan deity of any
kind.  Father Eudes sang the mass, and Father Gilbert, the Lord of
Montbeillard’s chaplain, gave the nuptial benediction. I was dressed in
pale green and dark violet, and Lady Isabeau in rose-coloured satin.


[#] Brooch.

[#] The costume restricted to brides or to queens at their coronation.


Then came the wedding-feast in the great hall, for which Alix and I had
been preparing a week beforehand; (and after all, I am certain Héloïse
forgot to put any more sugar in the placentæ[#]): and then the hall was
cleared, and we danced till supper-time.  Then, after supper, the
minstrels played; and Lady Isabeau and I, with all the other ladies
there, went up and put the bride to bed: and after throwing the stocking
and all the other ceremonies,—and I am glad to say it did not hit me,[#]
but that ugly Elise de la Puissaye,—we came back into the hall, and
danced again till it was time to take up the posset.[#]  Oh, I was tired
when I did get to bed at last!  I should not like to be at another
wedding next week.


[#] Cheesecakes.

[#] The girl hit by the stocking was expected to be married next.

[#] This serving of a posset to the newly-married pair in the night was
a purely French custom.


Well, it really is a very good thing that Alix is gone.  I have had some
peace these last two days. And there! if the very last thing she did
before going was not to do me an ill turn!  She went and persuaded
Monseigneur to invite Umberge to come and take the reins.  Oh, of course
_I_ could not be expected to understand anything!—(what sort of a
compliment was that to her teaching?)—I was a mere baby, full of
nonsense,—and all on in that way. And when Monseigneur was so good as to
say that I did not like the idea of Umberge’s coming, and he thought he
would try what I could do, Alix fairly laughed in his face.  As if I
were fit to decide!—the baby that I was!—she said.  Thank you very much,
Dame Alix de Montbeillard; perhaps I have more sense than you suppose.
At any rate, I am very glad of one thing,—that we have got rid of _you_.

Oh dear!  I wonder whether any body ever thinks that it would be nice to
get rid of me?  But then I am not disagreeable, like Alix.  I am sure I
am not.


Now, why is it that when one gets something one has been wishing for a
long while, one does _not_ feel satisfied with it?  I have been fancying
for months how pleasant it would be when Alix was gone, and there would
be no one to find fault with me.  Yet it is not pleasant at all.  I
thought it would be peaceful, and it is dull.  And only this afternoon
Raoul was as cross with me as he could be.  Monseigneur took my part, as
he well might, because of course I was right; but still it was
disagreeable.  Why don’t I feel more happy?

I thought I would see what Marguerite would say, and I asked her what
she thought about it. She only smiled, and said,—"Such is the way of the
world, my Damoiselle, since men forsook the peaceful paths of God."

"But why do things look so much more delightful beforehand than when
they come?" said I.

"The Damoiselle has a vivid fancy.  Does she never find that things look
more unpleasant at a distance?"

"Well, I don’t know—perhaps, sometimes," I said.  "But disagreeable
things are always disagreeable."

I suppose something in my face made Marguerite answer—

"Is the coming of the Lady Umberge disagreeable to my Damoiselle?"

"Oh, as to that, I don’t care much about it," said I.  "But I do want to
hear from Guy."

Ay, that is coming to be the cry in my heart now.  I want to hear from
Guy!  I want to know where he is, and what he is doing, and whether he
is made a Count yet, and—Oh dear, dear!—whether that dreadful beautiful
lady, whom he is to like so much better than me, has appeared. That
could not happen to me.  I could never love any body better than Guy.

I should so like a confidante of my own rank and age.  Umberge would
never do at all, and she is quite fifteen years older than I am.  If I
had had a sister, a year older or younger than myself, that would have
been about the right thing.  Nobody ever was my confidante except Guy.
And I wander about his chamber very much as Level does, and feel, I
should imagine, very much like him when he holds up one paw, and looks
up at me, and plainly says with his dog-face,—"Where is he?—and is he
never coming back?"  And I can only put my cheek down on his great soft
head, and stroke his velvet ears, and feel with him.  For I know so
little more than he does.

It must be dreadful for dogs, if they want to know!

Here is Umberge at last.  She came last night, and Guillot with her, and
Valence and Aline.  They are nice playthings, or would be, if I might
have my own way.  But—I cannot quite understand it—the Umberge who has
come to live here seems quite a different woman from the Umberge who
used to come for an afternoon.  She used to kiss me, and call me
"darling," and praise my maccaroons.  But this Umberge has kept me
running about the house all morning, while she sits in a curule chair
with a bit of embroidery, and says, "Young feet do not tire," and "You
know where everything is, and you are accustomed to the maids."  It
looks as if she thought I was a superior sort of maid.  Then, when our
gracious Lord comes in, she is all velvet, and "dear Elaines" me, and
tells him I am such a sweet creature—ready to run about and do any thing
for any body.

If there is one thing I do despise, it is that sort of woman.  Alix
never served me like that.  She was sharp, but she was honest.  If
Monseigneur praised the placentæ, she always told him when I had made
them, and would not take praise for what was not her work.

I shall never be able to get along with Umberge, if this morning is to
be a specimen of every day.

Oh dear!  I wish Alix had not gone!  And I wish, I wish we could hear
from Guy!


Things do not go on as smoothly as they used to do.  I think Monseigneur
himself sees it now. Umberge is not fond of trouble, and instead of
superintending every thing, as Alix did, always seeing after the maids,
up early and down late, she just takes her ease, and expects things to
go right without any trouble on her part.  Why, she never rises in the
morning before six, and she spends a couple of hours in dressing.  It is
no good to tell her of any thing that is wanted, for she seems to expect
every thing to mend itself.  Yesterday morning, one of the jacinths
dropped out of the sheet on my bed,[#] and I told Umberge—(Alix was
always particular about any thing of that kind being reported to her
directly)—but she only said, "Indeed?  Well, I suppose you can sleep as
well without it."  But it was last night that Monseigneur seemed vexed.
We had guests to supper, and I am sure I did my best to have things
nice; but every thing seemed to go wrong.  Umberge apparently thought
the supper would order itself in the first place, and cook itself in the
second, for beyond telling me to see that all was right, she took no
care about it at all, but sat embroidering.  The dining-room was only
just ready in time, and the minstrels were half an hour behind time; the
pastry was overbaked, and the bread quite cold.  There was no
subtlety[#] with the third course, and the fresh rushes would have been
forgotten if I had not asked Robert about them.  I was vexed, for Alix
was there herself, and I knew what she would think,—to say nothing of
the other guests.  I do think it is too bad of Umberge to leave me all
the cares and responsibilities of mistress, while she calmly
appropriates the position and the credit, and then scolds me if every
thing is not perfection.  Why, I must go and dress some time; and was it
my fault if Denise left the pies in too long while I was dressing, or
did not attend to my order to have the bread hot[#] at the last minute?
I cannot be every where!


[#] How jewels were set in linen sheets is a mystery, but there is
abundant evidence of the fact.

[#] Ornamental centre-piece.

[#] It was considered of consequence that the bread at a feast should be
as new as possible.


My gracious Lord did not blame me; he asked Umberge and me together how
it happened that all these things were wrong: and I declare, if Umberge
did not say, "Elaine had the ordering of it; Monseigneur will please to
ask her."  I am afraid I lost my temper, for I said—

"Yes, Monseigneur, I had the ordering of it, for my fair sister took no
care of any thing; and if I could have had three pairs of hands, and
been in six places at once, perhaps things might have been right."

Monseigneur only laughed, and patted my head. But this evening I heard
him say to Guillot, just as I was entering the hall—

"Fair Son, thy fair wife puts too much on the child Elaine."

Guillot laughed, rubbed his forehead, and answered—"Fair Father, it will
take more than me to stop her."

"What! canst thou not rule thine own wife?" demanded our gracious Lord.

"Never tried, Monseigneur," said Guillot.  "Too late to begin."

And Monseigneur only said, with a sigh,—"I wonder when we shall hear
from Guy!"

Guillot looked relieved, and (seeing me, I think) they went on to talk
of something else.

But everything seems changed since they came. Except for my gracious
Lord and Amaury and Raoul.  It does not feel like home.

Alix rode over this afternoon.  I took her to my bower in the turret,
and almost directly she asked me,—"How do you get on with our fair
sister?"

And I said,—"O Alix!  I wish thou wouldst come back!"

She laughed, and replied,—"What would my lord say, child?  I thought you
were not very comfortable."

"What made thee think so, Alix?  Was it Tuesday night?"

"Tuesday night—the supper?  I guessed you had seen to it."

"Why?—was it so very bad?" said I, penitently.

"Bad?—it was carelessness and neglect beyond endurance," she said.  "No,
I saw the maids wanted the mistress’s eye; and Umberge evidently had not
given it; and I thought you had tried to throw yourself into the gap,
and—as such an inexperienced young thing would—had failed."

I really was pleased when Alix said that.

"Then thou wert not vexed with me, Alix?"

"Not I.  You did your best.  I was vexed enough with Umberge.  I knew
she was lazy, but I did not expect her to discredit the house like
that."

"She seems quite altered since she came here," I said.

"Ah, you never can tell how people will turn out till you come to live
with them," said Alix.  "So you are not so very glad, after all, to lose
me, little one?"

I was startled, for I never supposed that Alix had guessed that.  I did
not know what to say.

"Why, child, did you think I had no eyes?" she added.  "You know you
were glad."

I did what I generally do—hesitated for a moment, and then came out
bluntly with the truth—

"Well, Alix, I was glad.  But I am not now."

Alix laughed.  "That is right," she said; "always tell the plain truth,
Elaine.  You will find many a time, as you go through life, child, that
the prettiest pasties are not always the best flavoured, nor the
plainest say[#] the worst to wear."


[#] A common quality of silk.


I suppose it is so.  But I never should have guessed that I should be
wishing for Alix to come back.


"Marguerite," I said one morning as I was dressing, "dost thou think it
would be wrong if I were to pray for a letter from Guy?"

"I cannot think it wrong to pray for anything," she answered, "provided
we are willing that the good God should choose for us in the end."

"Well, but I am not sure that I am willing to have that."

"Is my Damoiselle as wise as the good Lord?"

"Oh no, of course not!  But still"——

"But still, my Damoiselle would like always to have her own way."

"Yes, I should, Margot."

"Well, if there be one thing for which I am thankful it is that the good
Lord has not given me much of my own way.  It would have been very bad
for me."

"Perhaps, for a villein, it might," said I; "but nobles are different."

"Possibly, even for the nobles," said Marguerite, "the good Lord might
be the best chooser."

"But it seems to me, if we left everything in that way, we should never
pray at all."

"Let my Damoiselle pardon me.  That we have full trust in a friend’s
wisdom is scarcely a reason why we should not ask his counsel."

"But the friend cannot know what advice you need.  The Lord knows all
about it."

"Does my Damoiselle never tell her thoughts to Monseigneur Guy because
he knows that she is likely to think this or that?"

"Oh, but it is such pleasure to tell one’s thoughts to Guy," I replied.
"He generally thinks as I do; and when he does not, he talks the thing
over with me, and it usually ends in my thinking as he does.  Then if I
am sad, he comforts me; and if I am rejoicing, he rejoices with me;
and—O Margot! it is like talking to another me."

"My Damoiselle," said Marguerite, with a peculiar smile which I have
seen on her lips before, and never could understand—it is so glad and
sunny, yet quiet and deep, as if she were rejoicing over some hidden
treasure which she had all to herself,—"My Damoiselle has said well.
’He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit.’  ’If we walk in the
light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another.’  My
Damoiselle does not yet know what it is to speak out freely all her
thoughts to One who is infinitely high and wise, and who loves her with
an infinite love.  I am but a poor ignorant villein woman: I know very
little about any thing.  Well!  I take my ignorant mind to Him who knows
all things, and who can foresee the end from the beginning.  I do not
know any grand words to pray with.  I just say, ’Sir[#] God, I am very
much puzzled.  I do not know what to do for the best.  Put the best
thing into my head.  Thou knowest.’  Every night, before I go to sleep,
the last thing, I say in my heart, ’Sir God, I do not know what is good,
and what is evil for me.  Thou knowest.  Give me the good things
to-night, and keep the evil ones away.’  I suppose, if I were very wise
and clever, I should not make such poor, ignorant prayers.  I should
know then what would be best to do.  Yet I do not think I should be any
better off, for then I should see so much less of the good Lord.  I
would rather have more of the good God, and less of the quick wit and
the ready tongue."


[#] Though this title will certainly sound strange, if not irreverent,
to modern ears, it was meant as the most reverent epithet known to those
who used it.


It would be nice to feel as Margot does.  I cannot think where she got
it But it would never do for me, who am noble, to take pattern from a
poor villein.  I suppose such thoughts are good for low, ignorant
people.

What should I have done if I had been born a villein?  I cannot imagine
what it would feel like. I am very glad I was not.  But of course I
cannot tell what it would feel like, because nobles have thoughts and
feelings of quite a different sort to common people.

I suppose Guy would say that was one of my queer notions.  He always
says more queer ideas come into my head than any one else’s.

O Guy, Guy!—when shall I see thee again?  Two whole years, and not a
word from thee!  Art thou languishing in some Paynim dungeon?  Hast thou
fallen in some battle?  Or has the beautiful lady come, and thy little
Lynette is forgotten?

I have been asking Father Eudes to tell me something about the Holy
Land, for I want to be able to picture to myself the place where Guy is.
And of course Father Eudes can tell, for he knows all about every thing;
and he had an uncle who was a holy palmer, and visited the blessed
Sepulchre, and used to tell most beautiful legends, he says, about the
Holy Land.  Beside which, his own father fought for the Sepulchre in the
second Crusade, and dwelt in that country for several years.

Father Eudes says it is nearly a hundred years since the kingdom of
Jerusalem was founded, for it was in the year of our Lord 1099, at the
time of the first Crusade.  The first King was the gallant Count
Godefroy of Boulogne, who was unanimously chosen by all the Christian
warriors after the Holy City was taken: but he would never call himself
King, but only "Defender of the Holy Sepulchre."  But, alas!—the good
King Godefroy only reigned one year; and on his death the Princes all
assembled in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which they also call the
Temple, to elect a successor.  And because there were great contentions
among them, they resolved to decide the choice by lot: and they stood
around the tomb of our Lord, each holding a long taper, and earnestly
besought the good God that He would cause the taper held by him who
ought to be King of Jerusalem to be lighted by miracle.  And when the
prayer was ended, one of the tapers was found to be burning.  It was
that held by Duke Robert the Courthose, son of Lord William the Norman,
who conquered England.  But to the horror of all the Princes, Duke
Robert blew out the taper, and refused to be King.  He said that he was
not worthy to wear a crown of gold in that place where for his sins our
Lord had worn a crown of thorns.  And I really have always felt puzzled
to know whether he acted very piously or very impiously.  So, in the
end, the brother of King Godefroy was chosen; but he also left no child,
though he reigned eighteen years.  But the Lady Ida, his sister, who was
a very wise and preux[#] lady, had a son, and he reigned after his uncle
for thirteen years: yet at his death he left four daughters, and no son.
And Father Eudes thinks that this showed the displeasure of our Lord,
who had willed that the kingdom of Jerusalem should belong to our Lords
the Kings of England, and they wickedly refused to receive it.


[#] Brave, noble, chivalrous.


For of course it is the bounden duty of all Christian men to rescue the
Holy Land out of the hands of Paynims, Jews, and such horrible heretics,
who all worship the Devil, and bow down to stocks and stones: since this
land belonged to our Lord Jesus Christ, who was King of it by holy Mary
His mother, and He died seised of the same.  For which reason all
Christian men, who are the right heirs of our said Lord, ought to
recover their inheritance in that land, and not leave it in the hands of
wicked heretics, who have no right to it at all, since they are not the
children and right heirs of Jesus Christ our Lord.[#]


[#] This singular reasoning is borrowed from Sir John Mandeville.


Well! when King Beaudouin II. was dead, the Holy Land fell to the eldest
of his four daughters, who was named the Lady Melisende: and she wedded
Count Foulques of Anjou, and from her all the kings since then have
come: so now it seems settled in the line of Anjou.  I suppose our Lords
the Kings of England, therefore, have no right to it any more.

I cannot help feeling sorry that Duke Robert blew out the taper.  I
would not have done it, if it had been mine.  I think to be the Queen of
Jerusalem would be the grandest thing in all the world—even better than
to be the Empress of Monseigneur the Cæsar.  Is it not the Land of God?


A letter at last!—a letter from Guy!  And he is high in the King’s
favour, and has won booty to the amount of eighteen thousand golden
crowns, and he wants Amaury and me to go to him at once.  I keep dancing
about and singing, I am so delighted.  And not one word of the beautiful
lady!  That is best of all.

Guy says the King is a mesel,[#] and dwells in chambers to himself; and
he has never been married, so there is no Queen, except the widow of the
late King his father; and she is of the high blood of Messeigneurs the
Cæsars,[#] but is not the mother of the King.  He is like Guy, for his
own mother, who was the Damoiselle de Courtenay, died when he was very
young: and he has one sister of the whole blood, who is called the Lady
Sybil; and one sister of the half blood, who is called the Lady Isabel.
The Lady Sybil is a widow, though she is younger than Alix: for she was
the wife of Monseigneur Guillaume, the Marquis of Montferrat, who died
about the time Guy reached the Holy Land; and she has one child,
Monseigneur Beaudouin, named after the King his uncle.  The Lady Isabel
is not yet married, and she is about fourteen years old.  Guy writes
that the King, and the ladies his sisters, and the old Queen, are all
very good to him, and he is prospering marvellously.


[#] Leper.

[#] She was Maria, daughter (some writers say niece) of the Emperor
Manuel Comnemus.


Guy’s letter was brought by a holy palmer, late last night.  I am sure
the palmer must be a very holy man, for he had scallops fastened to his
shovel-hat, and cross-keys embroidered on his bosom, and bells upon his
sleeve, and the holy cross upon his shoulder.[#]  His cross was green,
so he must be a Fleming.[#]  And whenever I came near him, there was
such a disagreeable smell, that he must, I am sure, be very holy indeed.
He told Robert, and Marguerite told me, that he had not changed his
clothes for three whole years.  What a holy man he must be!  I was very
glad when he gave me his benediction, though I did try to keep as much
to windward of him as I could, and I put a sprig of lavender in my
handkerchief before I asked for it.  I am rather afraid Father Eudes
would say it was wicked of me to put that sprig of lavender in my
handkerchief.  But really I think I should have felt quite disgusted if
I had not done so.  And why should it be holy not to wash one’s self?
Why don’t they always leave babies unwashed, if it be, that they might
grow up to be holy men and women?


[#] The scallop-shell denoted a pilgrim to the shrine of St. James of
Compostella; the cross-keys, to Rome; the bells, to Canterbury (hence
the "Canterbury bell"); and the cross, to the Holy Sepulchre.

[#] The Flemings wore a green cross, the French a red, the English a
white one.  The proverbial "Red Cross Knight," therefore, strictly
speaking, could not be an Englishman.


I wonder if the angels like smells which we think disagreeable.  If they
do, of course that would account for it.  Yet one cannot imagine an
angel with soiled feathers.

I suppose Guy would say that was another of my queer ideas.  Oh, I am so
delighted that we have heard from Guy!

Monseigneur says I must have lots of new dresses to take with me.  I
have been wishing, ever so long, for a fine mantle of black cloth, lined
with minever: and he says I shall have it.  And I want a golden girdle,
and a new aumonière.[#]  I should like a diaper[#] gown, too,—red and
black; and a shot silk, blue one way, and gold the other.


[#] The bag which depended from the girdle.

[#] This term seems to have indicated stuff woven in any small regular
pattern, not flowers.


My gracious Lord asked me what gems I would best like.

"Oh, agate or cornelian, if it please your Nobility," said I, "because
they make people amiable."

He pinched my ear, and said he thought I was amiable enough: he would
give me a set of jacinths.[#]


[#] These gems were believed to possess the properties in question.


"What, to send me to sleep?" said I, laughing.

"Just so," he answered.  "Thou art somewhat too wide-awake."

"What do you please to mean, Monseigneur?"

He smiled, but then sighed heavily, and stroked my head.

"Ah, my little Lynette!" he said.  "If thy blessed mother had but lived!
I know not—truly I know not—whether I act for thy real welfare or not.
The good God forgive our blunders, poor blindlings that we are!"  And he
rose and went away.

But of course it must be for my welfare that I should go to Guy, and get
some appointment in the household of one of the Princesses, and see
life, and—well, I don’t know about getting married.  I might not have so
much of my own way.  And I like that dearly.  Besides, if I were married
I could not be always with Guy.  I think I won’t, on the whole.

I asked Marguerite to-night if she could tell why holy people did not
wash: and she said she thought they did.

"Well," said I, "but yonder holy palmer had not taken his clothes off
for three years; and I am sure, Margot, he did not smell nice."

"I think," said Marguerite, "under leave of my Damoiselle, he would have
been at least as holy if he had changed them once a month."

"O Margot! is not that heterodoxy?" asked I, laughing.

"Let my Damoiselle pardon her servant—no! Did not Monseigneur Saint Paul
himself say that men should wash their bodies with pure water?"

"I am sure I don’t know," said I.  "I always thought, the holier you
were, and the dirtier.  And that is one reason why I always thought,
too, that I could never be holy.  I should want my hands and face clean,
at least."

"Did my Damoiselle think she could never be holy?"

"Yes, I did, Margot, and do."

"Wherefore?  Let her forgive her poor servant."

"Oh, holiness seems to mean all sorts of unpleasant things," said I.
"You must not wash, nor lie on a comfortable bed, nor wear anything
nice, nor dance, nor sing, nor have any pleasure.  I don’t want to be
holy.  I really could not do with it, Margot."

"Under my Damoiselle’s leave, all those things she has mentioned seem to
me to be outside things. And—unless I mistake, for I am but an ignorant
creature—holiness must be something inside.  My soul is inside of me;
and to clean my soul, I must have something that will go inside to it.
The inside principle will be sure to put all the outside things
straight, will it not?  But I do not see what the outside things can do
to the inside—except that sometimes they make us cross.  But then it is
we who are wrong, not they."

"Dost thou suppose it is wicked to be cross, Margot?"

"Damoiselle, Father Eudes once read a list of the good things that a
true Christian ought to have in his heart,—there were nine of them:
’love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
meekness, temperance.’  I think one cannot have many of them when one is
cross and peevish."

"Then thou dost not think it sinful to delight in fine clothes and
jewels, and lie in a soft bed, and have dainties for dinner?—for all
those are outside."

"Ha! yes, my Damoiselle.  Those are the world’s substitute for
happiness."

"Now, what dost thou mean, Margot?" laughed I.  "Have I not all these
good things?—and am I not happy?"

"All these,—ah, yes.  But, happy?  No, no.  My Damoiselle is not happy."

"Why, what wilt thou say next?" cried I.

"Will my Damoiselle permit her poor servant to ask her a question?"

"Oh yes!—anything thou wilt."

"Then is my Damoiselle quite certain—safely, happily certain—what will
become of her when she shall die?"

"O Margot, what an ugly question!  I hate to think of it Why, I suppose
I shall go to Heaven—why should I not?  Don’t all nobles go there,
except those who are very, very wicked?"

"Ha!  She hates to think of it?  Wherefore?"

"Why, everybody does, of course."

"Let my Damoiselle pardon me.  Not I."

"Oh, thou art an old woman, and hast outlived thy youth and its
pleasures.  No wonder."

"My Damoiselle will find, as life goes on, that the older she grows, the
more distasteful that thought becomes to her.  That is, unless she
should learn to be happy, which may the good God grant!"

I could not help laughing heartily.  For a young noble maiden like me,
to take lessons of a forlorn old creature like Margot, in the art of
being happy, did seem so very ridiculous.

"Ah, my Damoiselle may laugh now," said Marguerite in her quiet way;
"but I have told the sober truth."

"Oh dear!" said I.  "I think I had better sleep on it.—Margot, art thou
not very much pleased at the thought of going to the Holy Land?"

"Ah, yes, my Damoiselle, very much.  I would dearly like to behold the
earth which the feet of the blessed Lord have trodden,—the lake on which
He walked, and the hill from which He went up.  Ah! ’He shall so
come’—’this same Jesus’!"

I looked at her in astonishment.  The worn old face and sunken eyes
seemed alight with some hidden rapture.  I could not understand her.

"And the Holy Sepulchre!" I said; for that is holiest of all the holy
places, as everybody knows.

"Well, I should not so much care to see that," answered Marguerite, to
my surprise.  "’He is not there; He is risen.’  If a dear friend of mine
had gone on a journey, I should not make a pet of the saddle on which he
rode away.  I should rather want not to see it, for it would always
remind me that he was gone."

"Marguerite!" exclaimed I, "dost thou not know that a neuvaine offered
at the Holy Sepulchre is of more efficacy than ten offered at any other
altar?"

"Will my Damoiselle give me leave to wait till I see it?  Of course, if
the good God choose to have it so, there is an end of the matter.  But I
think I would rather be sure.  For me, I should like to pray in the
Church of the Nativity, to thank Him for coming as a little babe into
this weary world: and in the Church of the Ascension, to beg Him to
hasten His coming again."

"Ah, the Church of the Ascension!" said I. "There are pillars in that
church, nearly close to the wall; and the man who can creep between the
wall and the pillar has full remission of all his sins."

"Is that in the holy Evangel?" asked Marguerite; but I could not tell
her.

"I fancy there may be some mistake about that," she added.  "Of course,
if it be in the holy Evangel!  But it does not look quite of a piece
with what Father Eudes reads.  He read one day out of the writing of
Monseigneur Saint John, that the blood of Jesus Christ, the blessed
Lord, cleansed us from all sin: and another time—I think he said it was
from the Evangel of Monseigneur Saint Matthew—he read that if a man did
but ask the good God for salvation, it should be given him. Well!  I
asked, and He gave it me.  Could He give me anything more?—or would He
be likely to do it because I crept between a wall and a pillar?"

"Why, Marguerite!  Hast thou been listening to some of those wicked
Lyonnese, that go preaching up and down?  Dost thou not know that King
Henry the father hath strictly forbidden any man to harbour one of that
rabble?"

"If it please my Damoiselle, I know nothing at all about them."

"Why, it is a merchant of Lyons, named Pierre Waldo, and a lot more with
him; they go up and down the country, preaching, and corrupting people
from the pure Catholic faith.  Hast thou listened to any such preachers,
Margot?"

"Ha, my Damoiselle, what know I?  There was a Grey Friar at the Cross a
few weeks since"——

"Oh, of course, the holy brethren of Saint Augustine are all right,"
said I.

"Well, and last Sunday there was a man there, not exactly in a friar’s
robe, but clad in sackcloth, as if he were in mourning; but he said none
but very good words; they were just like the holy Evangel which Father
Eudes reads.  Very comforting words they were, too.  He said the good
Lord cared even for the sparrows, poor little things!—and very much more
for us that trusted Him.  I should like to hear him preach again."

"Take care how thou dost!" said I, as I lay down in bed.  "I am afraid,
Margot, he is one of those Lyonnese serpents."

"Well!" said Marguerite, as she tucked me up, "he had no sting, if he
were."

"No, the sting comes afterwards," said I.  "And thou art but a poor
villein, and ignorant, and quite unable to judge which is the true
doctrine of holy Church, and which the wicked heresy that we must shut
our ears against."

"True, my Damoiselle," said old Marguerite meekly.  "But to say that the
dear, blessed Lord cares for His poor servants—no, no!—that is no
heresy!"

"What is heresy?" said I.  "And what is truth?  Oh dear!  If one might
know, one’s own self!"

"Ah!  Pilatus asked that of the good God, when He stood before his
judgment-seat.  But he did not wait for the answer."

"I wish he had done!" I answered.  "Then we might have known it.  But I
suppose the good Lord would have told him to submit himself to the
Church.  So we should not have been much better off, because we do know
that."

"We are better off, my Damoiselle," said old Marguerite.  "For though
the good God did not answer Pilatus—maybe he was not worthy—He did
answer the same question, asked by Monseigneur Saint Thomas.  Did not my
Damoiselle hear Father Eudes read that in French?  It was only a few
weeks ago."

I shook my head.  I cannot imagine when or how Marguerite does hear all
these things.  I never do. But she went on.

"It was one day when the good Lord had told Messeigneurs the Apostles
that He was going to ascend to Heaven: and He said, ’The way ye know.’
But Monseigneur Saint Thomas—ah! he was rather like my Damoiselle; he
wanted to know!—he replied that they did not know the way.  (If he had
not been a holy apostle, I should not have thought it very civil to
contradict his Seigneur, let alone the good Lord.)  But the good God was
not angry: He saw, I suppose, that Monseigneur Saint Thomas did not mean
anything wrong, but he wanted to know, like a damoiselle of the House of
Lusignan. So He said, ’I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no man
cometh unto the Father but by Me.’"

"But I do not see what that means," said I. "Truth cannot be a person,—a
man cannot be a way.  Of course it is a figure of speech; but still I do
not see what it means."

I was very sleepy, and I fancy rather cross. Marguerite stooped and
kissed my hand, and then turned and put out the light.

"Rest, my fair Damoiselle," she said, tenderly. "And may the good God
show my darling what it means!"



                             *CHAPTER IV.*

                   _*A JOURNEY—AND THE END OF IT*_*.*


    "A violet by a mossy stone,
      Half hidden from the eye:
    Fair as a star when only one
      Is shining in the sky."
        —WORDSWORTH.


Bound for the East Countrie!  Ay, we are fairly off at last, Amaury and
I,—with old Marguerite, and her niece Perette, and Bertrade, Robert’s
daughter, and Robert himself, to wait upon me; and an escort of armed
men, and Amaury’s attendants.

Yet it was not all brightness when we came to leave the Castle.  Alix
and Messire Raymond were there to take leave of us: and I really
fancied—it must have been fancy!—that there were tears in Alix’s eyes
when she kissed me.  There were none in Umberge’s, nor in Guillot’s.
But Raoul cried honestly; though Amaury said afterwards that he believed
three-quarters of Raoul’s tears were due to his having to stay behind.
Father Eudes gave me his blessing; and he wept too, poor old man!  I
dare say he was sorry.  He was here before I was born.  Then the maidens
and servants came forward, the women kissing my hand, and the men my
robe: and last of all I came to Monseigneur, our father.

He folded me close in his arms, and bent his head down upon mine; and I
felt two or three hot tears on my brow.

"My little Lynette!" he said.  "My little, little girl!  The one bud of
my one love!  Must I let thee go?  Ha, well!—it is for thy welfare.  The
good God bless thee, _mignonne_, and Messeigneurs and Mesdames the
saints.  Please God, little maiden, we shall meet in Jerusalem."

"Meet in Jerusalem?" I said in surprise.  This was news to me—that
Monseigneur meant to take the cross.

"Ay," said he softly, "in the ’_Syon Aurea, ut clarior oro_.’  There is
an upper City, my child, which is fairer than the lower.  Jesu, of His
mercy, bring us both there!"

"Amen!" said Father Eudes.  "Dame Mary, pray for us poor sinners!"

There was a great bustle after that, and noise, and clashing; and I do
not remember much distinctly, till I got into the litter with Bertrade,
and then first Amaury set forth on his charger, with his squires after
him, and then Marguerite behind Robert on horseback, and Perette behind
Amaury’s varlet, who is a cousin of hers; and then my litter moved
forward, with the armed men around and behind.  I just saw them all
clearly for one moment—Alix with her lips set, looking at us, as if she
were determined not to say a word; and Messire Raymond smoothing his
moustache; and Guillot with an old shoe poised in the air, which hit my
fore postilion the next minute; and Umberge with that fair false smile
with which she deludes every one at first sight; and Monseigneur, with
his arms folded, and the tears fairly running down his cheeks, and his
lips working as if he were deeply grieved. Just for one minute there
they all stood; and I think they will make a picture in my eyes till the
end of time for me.  And then my litter was drawn out of the Castle
gate, and the horses tramped across the drawbridge, and down the slope
below: and I drew the curtain of the litter aside, and looked back to
see my dear old home, the fair strong Castle of Lusignan, growing less
and less behind me every moment, till at last it faded into a more dim
speck in the distance, and I felt that my long and venturesome journey
had begun.

Oh, why do people never let us know how much they love us, until just as
we unclasp hands and part?

Do they always know it themselves?

And I wonder whether dying is anything like this.  Do men go a long
journey to God, with an armed escort of angels, and do they see the
world go less and less behind them as they mount?  I will ask Margot
what she thinks.  She is but a villein, in truth, but then she has such
curious fancies.

I have asked Marguerite, and she shakes her head.

"Ha! no, my Damoiselle.  It can be no long journey to God.  Father Eudes
said but last Sunday, reading from the Breviary, in his sermon, that ’He
is not far from every one of us.’  And the good thief Ditmas, that was
crucified with God, was there in half a day.  It can only be a little
way to Heaven.  Ah! much less than half a day, it must be; for did not
Monseigneur Saint Gabriel, the holy Archangel, begin to fly when
Monseigneur Saint Daniel began to pray?—and he was there before he had
finished his beads.  It is a long while since Father Eudes told us that;
and I thought it so comforting, because it showed that Heaven was not
far, and also that the good Lord listens so quickly when we call.  Ah!
I have to say, ’Wait, Héloïse!—I am listening to Perette:’ but the good
Lord does not need to do that.  He can hear my Lady the Queen, and the
Lady Alix, and Monseigneur Guy, and my Damoiselle, and her servant
Marguerite, all at once."

Yes, I suppose it must be so, though I cannot understand it.  One has to
believe so many things that one cannot understand.  Do we even know how
we live from day to day?  Of course it is known that we have certain
organs in our bodies, by which we breathe, and speak, and walk, and
digest food; but can any one tell _how_ all they do goes to make up what
we call life?  I do not believe it.

We took our way by Poictiers, across the duchies of Berry and Burgundy,
and through Franche-Comté, crossing some terrible mountains between
Besançon and Neufchatel.  Then we travelled across Switzerland—Oh, how
beautiful it is!  I felt as though I should have been content to stay
there, and never go any farther.  But Amaury said that was just like a
silly girl.  What man, said he—with such an accent on the _man_!—ever
wanted to stop away from gorgeous pageants and gallant deeds of arms,
just to stare at a big hill with some snow on it, or a pool of water
with some trees round it?  How could any body make a name in that
foolish way?—said Messire Amaury.

But old Marguerite thought with me.  "Damoiselle," she said, "I am very
thankful I came on this journey.  Methinks I have a better notion what
Heaven will be like than I had before we left Poitou.  I did not know
the good God was so rich. There seems to be no end to the beautiful
things He can make.  Oh, how beautiful He Himself must be!  And we shall
see His face.  Father Eudes read it."

Whatever one says to Marguerite, she always finds something to say in
answer about the good God.  Surely she should have been a nun.

We came into Italy through two great passes,—one over the Julier
mountain, so called from Julius Cæsar, the great Emperor, who made the
road by help of the black art, and set up two pillars on the summit to
commemorate his deeds: and then, passing through a beautiful valley,
where all flowers of the year were out together, and there was a lovely
chain of lakes,—(which naughty Amaury scornfully called crocuses and
dirty water!)—we wound up hill after hill, until at last it really
seemed as if we must have reached the top of the world.  Here were two
small lakes, at the foot of a drear slope of ice, which in these parts
they call a glacier: and they call them the Black Lake and the White
Lake. We had two sturdy peasants as guides over the mountains, and I
should have liked dearly to talk with them about their country, but of
course it would not have been seemly in a damsel of my rank: _noblesse
oblige_.  But I got Marguerite to ask them several questions, for their
language is sufficiently like the Langue d’Oc[#] for us to understand
them, though they speak very thickly and indistinctly. They told
Marguerite that their beautiful valley is named the Val Engiadina,[#]
and they were originally a colony from Italy, who fled from a
persecution of the Saracens.[#]  This pass is called the Bernina, for
_berne_ in their tongue signifies a bear, and there are many bears about
here in winter. And they say this mountain is the top of the world, for
here the waters separate, on the one side flowing far away into Asia,
near the place where Adam dwelt in Paradise;[#] and on the other, into
the great western sea,[#] which we shall shortly have to cross. And
here, on the very summit of this mountain, dwelt a holy hermit, who gave
me a shelter in his hut, while the men camped outside round great fires;
for though it was August, yet at this great height it was quite cold.
And so, through the pass, we wound slowly down into Italy.


[#] Two cognate languages were at this time spoken in France; north of
the Loire, the Langue d’Oil, and south, the Langue d’Oc, both words
meaning _yes_ in the respective languages. The more northern language
was the harsher, _ch_ being sounded as _k_, just as _church_ in England
becomes _kirk_ in Scotland.  _Cher, chaise, chien_, therefore, were
pronounced _ker, kaise, kien_, in the Langue d’Oil.

[#] The Engadine.

[#] All the evil done or doing in the world was at this time attributed
to the Saracens.  The colony is supposed to have arisen from the flight
of a group of Christians in the persecution under Diocletian.

[#] The Black Sea.

[#] The Mediterranean.


Marguerite and Perette were both full of the beauty they had seen in the
great glacier, on which they went with the guides: but it would not have
done for a damsel of my rank, and really I saw no beauty in it from
across the lake; it looked like a quantity of very dirty ice, with ashes
scattered over it.  But they said it was full of deep cracks or
fissures, in which were the loveliest colours that human eye could see
or heart imagine.

"Ah!  I can guess now!" said Marguerite.  "I could not think what
Monseigneur Saint John meant when he said the city was gold like clear
crystal.  I know now.  Damoiselle, in the glacier there are walls of
light, the sweetest green shading into blue that my Damoiselle can
possibly imagine: they must be like that, but golden.  Ha! if my
Damoiselle had seen it!  The great nobles have not all the good things.
It is well not to be so high up that one cannot see the riches of the
good God."

She has the queerest notions!

Well!—we travelled on through Lombardy, and tarried a few days at Milan,
whence we journeyed to Venice, which is the strangest place I ever saw
or dreamed of, for all the streets are canals, and one calls for one’s
boat where other people order their horses.  The Duke of Venice, who is
called the Doge, was very kind to us.  He told us at supper a comical
story of a Duchess of Venice who lived about a hundred years ago.  She
so dearly loved ease and luxury that she thought it too much trouble to
eat with her fingers like everybody else; and she actually caused her
attendants to cut her meat into little pieces, like dice, and then she
had a curious instrument with two prongs,[#] made of gold, with which
she picked up the bits and put them in her dainty mouth.  Only fancy!


[#] The first fork on record.


At Venice we embarked, and sailed to Messina, where most of the pilgrims
for the Holy Land assemble, as it is the most convenient port.  We did
not go overland, as some pilgrims do, through the dominions of the
Byzantine Cæsar;[#] but we sailed thence to Crete.  I was rather sorry
to miss Byzantium,[#] both on account of the beautiful stuffs which are
sold there, and the holy relics: but since I have seen a spine of the
crown of thorns, which the Lady de Montbeillard has—she gave seven
hundred crowns for it to Monseigneur de Rheims[#]—I did not care so much
about the relics as I might otherwise have done.  Perhaps I shall meet
with the same kind of stuffs in Palestine; and certainly there will be
relics enough.


[#] The Eastern Emperor; his dominions in Europe extended over Greece
and Turkey.

[#] Constantinople.

[#] The Archbishop.


From Crete we sailed to Rhodes, and thence to Cyprus.  They all say that
I am an excellent sailor, for I feel no illness nor inconvenience at
all; but poor Bertrade has been dreadfully ill, and Marguerite and
Perette say they both feel very uncomfortable on the water.  At Cyprus
is an abbey of monks, on the Hill of the Holy Cross; and here Amaury and
his men were housed for the night, and I and my women at a convent of
nuns not far off.  At the Abbey they have a cross, which they say is the
very cross on which our Lord suffered, but some say it is only the cross
of Ditmas, the good thief.  I was rather puzzled to know whether, there
being a doubt whether it really is the holy cross, it ought to be
worshipped.  If it be only a piece of common wood, I suppose it would be
idolatry.  So I thought it more right and seemly to profess to have a
bad headache, and decline to mount the hill.  I asked Amaury what he had
done.

"Oh! worshipped it, of course," said he.

"But how if it were not the true cross?" I asked.

"My sister, wouldst thou have a knight thus discourteous?  The monks
believe it true.  It would have hurt their feelings to show any doubt."

"But, Amaury, it would be idolatry!"

"Ha, bah!" he answered.  "The angels will see it put to the right
account—no doubt of that.  Dear me!—if one is to be for ever considering
little scruples like that, why, there would be no end to them—one would
never do any thing."

Then I asked Marguerite if she went up to worship the holy cross.

"No, Damoiselle," said she.  "The Grey Friar said we worship not the
cross, but the good God that died thereon.  And I suppose He is as near
to us at the bottom of the hill as at the top."

Well, it does look reasonable, I must say.  But it must be one of
Marguerite’s queer notions.  There would be no good in relics and holy
places if that were always true.

This island of Cyprus is large and fair.  It was of old time dedicated
by the Paynims to Venus, their goddess of beauty: but when it fell into
Christian hands, it was consecrated anew to Mary the holy Mother.

From Cyprus we sailed again, a day and a half, to Tyre; but we did not
land there, but coasted southwards to the great city of Acre, and there
at last we took land in Palestine.

Here we were lodged in the castle, which is very strong: and we found
already here some friends of Amaury, the Baron de Montluc and his two
sons, who had landed about three weeks before us.  Hence we despatched a
letter to Guy.  I was the writer, of course, for Amaury can write
nothing but his name; but he signed the letter with me.  Messire Renaud
de Montluc, who was setting out for the Holy City, undertook to see the
letter safe.  We were to follow more slowly.

We remained at Acre about ten days.  Then we set forth, Amaury and I,
the Baron de Montluc and his son Messire Tristan, and several other
knights who were waiting for a company, with our respective trains; and
the Governor of Acre lent us an additional convoy of armed men, to see
us safe to the Holy City.

This was my first experience of tent life; and very strange it felt, and
horribly insecure.  I, accustomed to dwell within walls several feet
thick, with portcullis and doors guarded by bolts and bars, in a chamber
opening on an inner court, to have no more than one fold of goats’ hair
canvas between me and the outside world!  True, the men-at-arms were
camped outside; but that was no more than a castle garrison: and where
was the castle?

"Margot," said I, "dost thou not feel horribly frightened?"

For of course, she, a villein, would be more accessible to fear than a
noble.

"Oh no, my Damoiselle," she said very quietly. "Is it not in the holy
Psalter that ’the Angel of the Lord encampeth round about them that fear
Him, and delivereth them’?  We are as safe as in the Castle of
Lusignan."

It is a very good thing for Marguerite and the maidens that I am here.
Because, of course, the holy angels, who are of high rank, would never
think of taking care of mere villeins.  It must mean persons of noble
blood.

We journeyed on southwards slowly, pausing at the holy places—Capernaum,
where Messeigneurs Saint Peter and Saint Andrew dwelt before they
followed our Lord; and where Monseigneur Saint Peter left Madame his
wife, and his daughter, Madame Saint Petronilla, when he became our
Lord’s disciple.  Of course, he was obliged to leave them behind, for a
holy apostle could not have a wife.  (Marguerite says that man in
sackcloth, who preached at the Cross at Lusignan, said that in the early
ages of the Church, priests and even bishops used to be married men, and
that it would have been better if they had continued to be so.  I am
afraid he must be a very wicked person, and one of those heretical
Waldenses.)  We also tarried a while at Cæsarea, where our Lord gave the
keys to Monseigneur Saint Peter, and appointed him the first Bishop of
Rome; and Nazareth, where our Lady was born and spent her early life.
Not far from Neapolis,[#] anciently called Sychem, they show the ruins
of a palace, where dwelt King Ahab, who was a very wicked Paynim, and
had a Saracen to his wife.  At Neapolis is the well of Monseigneur Saint
Jacob, on which our Lord once sat when He was weary.  This was the only
holy place we passed which old Marguerite had the curiosity to go and
see.


[#] Nablous.


"Now, what made thee care more for that than any other?" I asked her.
"Of course it was a holy place, but there was nothing to look at save a
stone well in a valley.  Our Lady’s Fountain, at Nazareth, was much
prettier."

"Ah, my Damoiselle is young and blithe!" she said, and smiled.  "It is
long, long since I was a young mother like our Lady, and longer still
since I was a little child.  But the bare old well in the stony
valley—that came home to me.  He was weary!  Yet He was God.  He is
rested now, on the throne of His glory: yet He cares for me, that am
weary still.  So I just knelt down at the old well, and I said to Him,
in my ignorant way,—’Fair Father,[#] Jesu Christ, I thank Thee that Thou
wert weary, and that by Thy weariness thou hast given me rest.’  It felt
to rest me,—a visit to the place where He sat, tired and hungry.  But my
Damoiselle cannot understand."


[#] "Bel Père"—one of the invocations then usual.


"No, Margot, I don’t at all," said I.

"Ah, no!  It takes a tired man to know the sweetness of rest."

Three days’ journey through the Val de Luna, which used to be called the
Vale of Ajalon, brought us to the city of Gran David, which was of old
named Gibeon.  The valley is styled De Luna because it was here that
Monseigneur Saint Joshua commanded the sun and moon to stand still while
he vanquished the Paynims.  From Gran David it is only one day’s journey
to the Holy City.

"To-morrow, Margot!" said I, in great glee. "Only to-morrow, we shall
see the Holy Sepulchre!"

"Ha!  Thanks be to the good God.  And we need not wait till to-morrow to
see Him that rose from it."

"Why, Marguerite, dost thou ever have visions?"

"Visions?  Oh no!  Those are for the holy saints; not for a poor
ignorant villein woman like me."

"Then what didst thou mean, just now?"

"Ah, my Damoiselle cannot understand."

"Margot, I don’t like that.  Thou art always saying it.  I want to
understand."

"Then she must ask the good God to show her."

And that is all I can get out of her.

Short of a league from the Holy City is the little hill called Mont
Joie, because from it the palmers catch the first glimpse of the blessed
Jerusalem.  We were mounting, as it seemed to me, a low hillock, when
Amaury rode up beside me, and parting the curtains, said—

"Now, Elaine, look out, for we are on the Mont Joie.  Wilt thou light
down?"

"Certainly," I answered.

So Amaury stopped the litter, and gave me his hand, and I jumped out.
He took me to the place where the palmers kneel in thanksgiving for
being brought thus far on their journey: and here I had my first sight
of the Holy City.

It is but a small city, yet strongly fortified, having three walls.  No
Paynim is permitted to enter it, nor of course any heathen Jew.  I
cannot imagine how it was that the good God ever suffered the Holy City,
even for an hour, to be in the hands of those wicked people.  Yet last
night, in the tent, if Marguerite did not ask me whether Monseigneur
Saint Paul was not a Jew!  I was shocked.

"Oh dear, no!" said I.

"I heard somebody say so," she replied.

"I should think it was some Paynim," said I. "Why, of course none of the
holy Apostles were Jews.  That miscreant Judas Iscariot, and Pontius
Pilatus, and all those wicked people, I suppose, were Jews: but not the
holy Apostles and the saints. It is quite shocking to think of such a
thing!"

"Then what were they, if my Damoiselle pleases?" said Marguerite.

"Oh, they were of some other nation," said I.

For really, I do not know of what nation they were,—only that they could
never have been Jews.

Amaury said that we must first visit the Holy Sepulchre; so, though I
was dying to have news of Guy, I comforted myself with the thought that
I should hereby acquire so much more merit than if I had not cared about
it.

We entered the Holy City by the west gate, just as the dusk was
beginning; and passing in single file along the streets, we descended
the hill of Zion to the Holy Sepulchre.

In this church are kept many holy relics.  In the courtyard is the
prison where our Lord was confined after His betrayal, and the pillar to
which He was bound when scourged: and in the portico the lance which
pierced His side.  The stone which the Angel rolled away from the
sepulchre is now broken in two.  Here our Lady died, and was buried in
the Church of Saint Mary, close by.  In this church is kept the cup of
our Lord, out of which He habitually drank: it is of silver, with a
handle on each side, and holds about a quart.  Here also is the sponge
which was held to His mouth, and the crown of thorns.  (By a miracle of
the good God, one half of the crown is also at Byzantium.)  The tomb of
our Lord is seven feet long, and rises three palms from the floor;
fifteen golden lamps burn before it, day and night.  I told the whole
Rosary at the holy tomb, or should have done, for I felt that the longer
I waited to see Guy, the more merit I should heap up: but Amaury became
impatient, and insisted on my coming when a Pater and eight Aves were
still to say.

Then we mounted the hill of Zion again, passing the church built in
honour of the Prince of the Apostles, on the spot where he denied our
Lord: and so we reached the King’s Palace at last.

Amaury sprang from his horse, and motioned my postilion to draw up in
front of the chief gate.  I heard him say to the porter—

"Is Sir Guy de Lusignan here?"

"My gracious Lord, the Count of Joppa and Ascalon, is here, if it like
you, noble Sir," replied the porter.  "He is at this moment in audience
of my Lady the Queen."

I was so glad to hear it.  Then Guy had really been created a Count!  He
must be in high favour. One half of his prophecy was fulfilled.  But
what about the other?

"Pray you," said Amaury to the porter, "do my Lord Count to wit that his
brother, Sir Amaury de Lusignan, and his sister, the Lady Elaine, are
before the gate."

I hardly know how I got through the next ten minutes.  Then came quick
steps, a sound of speech, a laugh, and then my curtains were pushed
aside, and the voice I loved best in all the world said—

"Lynette!  Lynette, my darling!"

Ay, it was my own Guy who came back to me. Changed?—no, not really
changed at all.  A little older; a little more bronzed; a little longer
and fuller in the beard:—that was all.  But it was my Guy, himself.

"Come! jump out," he said, holding his hand, "and let me present thee to
the Lady Queen.  I long to see my Lynette the fairest ornament of her
Court.  And how goes it with Monseigneur, our fair father?"

So, talking all the way, I walked with Guy, hand in hand, up the stairs,
and into the very bower of the imperial lady who bears the crown of all
the world, since it is the flower of all the crowns.

"I can assure thee," said Guy, "the Lady Queen has often talked of thee,
and is prepared to welcome thee."

It was a beautiful room, though small, decorated with carved and
fragrant cedar-work, and hung with blue and gold.  Round the walls were
blue and gold settles, and three curule chairs in the midst.  There were
only three ladies there,—but I must describe them.

The Queen, who sat in one of the curule chairs, was rather short and
stout, with a pleasant, motherly sort of look.  She appeared to be
between forty and fifty years of age.  Her daughter, the Lady Isabel,
who sat in another chair, busied with some embroidery, was apparently
about eighteen; but Guy told me afterwards that she is only fifteen, for
women ripen early in these Eastern lands, and grow old fast. She has
luxuriant black hair and dark shining eyes. On the settle was a damsel a
little older than the Princess, not quite so dark, nor so handsome.
She, as I afterwards found, was the Damoiselle Melisende de
Courtenay,[#] a distant relative of the King, who dwells with the
Princesses.  Guy led me up to the Queen.


[#] A fictitious person.  Millicent is the modern version of this old
Gothic name.  It comes from Amala-suinde, and signifies
_heavenly-wisdom_.


"Madam," said he, "your Highness has heard me often speak of my younger
sister."

"Ha! the little Damoiselle Helena?"[#] replied the Queen, smiling very
kindly.  "Be welcome, my child.  I have indeed heard much of you; this
brother of yours thinks nobody like you in the world,—not even one, eh,
Sir Count?—Isabel!  I desire thee to make much of the Damoiselle, and
let her feel herself at home.  And,—Melisende!  I pray thee, give order
for her lodging, and let her women be seen to.  Ah!—here comes another
who will be glad to be acquainted with you."


[#] Helen is really quite distinct from Ellen, of which lost Elaine is
the older form.  The former is a Greek name signifying _attractive,
captivating_.  The latter is the feminine of the Celtic name Alain,—more
generally written Alan or Allan,—and means _bright-haired_. Eleanor (it
is a mistake as regards philology to write Elinor) is simply an
amplification of Ellen by the addition of "or," _gold_.  It denotes,
therefore, _hair bright as gold_. Annora is a corruption of Eleanor, and
Nora or Norah a further contraction of Annora.


I turned round to see at whom the Queen was looking.  An inner door of
the chamber had just opened, and two ladies were coming into the room.
At the one I scarcely looked, save to see that she was old, and wore the
garb of a nun.  The other fixed my eyes in an instant.

Shall I say she was beautiful?  I do not know. She has a face about
which one never thinks whether it is beautiful or not.  She is so sweet,
so sweet! Her hair is long, of a glossy golden hue: her eyes are dark
grey, and all her soul shines out in them. Her age seemed about twenty.
And Guy said behind me, in a whisper—

"The Lady Sybil of Montferrat."

Something in Guy’s tone made me glance suddenly at his face.  My heart
felt for a moment as if it stopped beating.  The thing that I feared was
come upon me.  The whole prophecy was fulfilled: the beautiful lady
stood before me.  I should be first with Guy no longer.

But I did not feel so grieved as I expected.  And when Lady Sybil put
her arms round me, and kissed me, and told me I should be her dear
little sister,—though I felt that matters must have gone very far
indeed, yet somehow I was almost glad that Guy had found a heart to love
him in this strange land.

The old nun proved to be a cousin of the Queen, whom they call Lady
Judith.[#]  She is an eremitess, and dwells in her cell in the very
Palace itself.  I notice that Lady Sybil seems very fond of her.


[#] A fictitious person.


Damoiselle Melisende showed me a nice bed-chamber, where I and my three
women were to lodge.  I was very tired, and the Queen saw it, and in her
motherly way insisted on my having some supper, and going to bed at
once.  So I did not even wait to see Amaury again, and Guy went to look
for him and bring him up to the Queen.  The King, being a mesel, dwells
alone in his own rooms, and receives none.  When Guy has to communicate
with him, he tells me that he talks with him through a lattice, and a
fire of aromatic woods burns between them.  But I can see that Guy is a
very great man here, and has the affairs of the State almost in his own
hands.

I said to Marguerite as I was undressing,—"Margot, I think Count Guy is
going to marry somebody."

"Why, if it please my Damoiselle?"

"From the way he looks at Lady Sybil, and—other things."

"Your gracious pardon, but—is he less loving to my Damoiselle?"

"Oh no!—more loving and tender than ever, if that be possible."

"Then it is all right," said Marguerite.  "He loves her."

"What dost thou mean, Margot?"

"When a man marries, my Damoiselle, one of three things happens.  Either
he weds from policy, and has no love for his lady; but Monseigneur Guy
loves to look at her, so it is not that.  Or, he loves himself, and she
is merely a toy which ministers to his pleasure.  Then he would be
absorbed in himself and her, and not notice whether any other were happy
or unhappy.  But if he loves her, with that true, faithful, honourable
love, which is one of God’s best gifts, then he will be courteous and
tender towards all women, because she is one. And especially to his own
relatives, being women, who love him, he will be very loving indeed.
That is why I asked."

"O Margot, Margot!" I said, laughing.  "Where on earth dost thou find
all thy queer notions?"

"Not all on earth, my Damoiselle.  But, for many of them, all that is
wanted is just to keep one’s eyes open."

"Are my eyes open, Margot?"

"My Damoiselle had better shut them now," replied Marguerite, a little
drily.  "She can open them again to-morrow."

So I went to sleep, and dreamed that Guy married Lady Judith, in her
nun’s attire, and that I was in great distress at the sacrilege, and
could do nothing to avert it.



                              *CHAPTER V.*

                         _*CURIOUS NOTIONS*_*.*


"The soul, doubtless, is immortal—where a soul can be discerned."
       —ROBERT BROWNING.


For the last few weeks, since we reached Jerusalem, I have been very
busy going about with the Damoiselle Melisende, and sometimes the Lady
Isabel, with Amaury as escort.  We have now visited all the holy places
within one day’s journey.  I commanded Marguerite to attend me, for it
amuses me afterwards to hear what she has to say.

We went to the Church of Saint Mary, in the Valley of Jehoshaphat, which
is built in a round form; and in it is the empty tomb in which our Lady
was buried.  So some say, and that the angels carried her body away in
the night: but other some say, that while the holy Apostles were
carrying her to her burial, the angels came down and bore her away to
Paradise.  I asked Margot (as she always listens) if she had heard
Father Eudes read about it from the holy Evangel: but she said he had
never read the story of that, at least in French.  In this church there
is a stone in the wall, on which our Lord knelt to pray on the night of
His betrayal; and on it is the impression of His knees, as if the stone
were wax.  There is no roof to the church, but by miraculous provision
of the good God, the rain never falls on it.  Here also, our Lord’s
body, when taken down from the cross, was wrapped and anointed.

We also visited the Church of the Holy Ghost, where is the marble table
at which our Lord and the holy Apostles ate the Last Supper, and they
received the Holy Sacrament at His hands.  There is also a chapel, with
an altar whereat our Lord heard mass sung by the angels; and here is
kept the vessel wherein our Lord washed the feet of His disciples.  All
these are on Mount Zion.

Marguerite was very much interested in the vessel in which the holy
Apostles’ feet were washed: but she wanted to know which of them had put
it by and kept it so carefully.  This, of course, I could not tell her.
Perhaps it was revealed by miracle that this was the vessel.

"Ah, well!" she said, turning away at last, with a contented face.  "It
does not much matter, if only the good God wash our feet."

"But that cannot be, Margot!" said I.

Lady Judith was with us that day, and she laid her hand on my arm.

"Child," said she gently, "’if He wash thee not, thou hast no part with
Him.’"

"And," said Marguerite, "my Lady will pardon me,—if He wash us, we have
part with Him."

"Ay," answered Lady Judith.  "’Heirs of God, joint-heirs with Christ.’
Thou knowest it, my sister?—thou hast washed?  Ay, ’we believers enter
into rest.’"

I wondered what they were talking about.  Lady Judith—of the Cæsars’
purple blood, and born in a palace at Constantinople; and old
Marguerite,—a villein, born in a hovel in Poitou,—marvel to relate! they
understood each other perfectly.  They have seemed quite friendly ever
since.  It can hardly be because they are both old.  There must be some
mystery.  I do not understand it at all.

Another day, we went to the Church of the Ascension, which is on the
summit of Mount Olivet. This also has an open roof.  When our Lord
ascended, He left the impression of His feet in the dust; and though
palmers are constantly carrying the holy dust away by basketsful, yet
the impression never changes.  This seemed to me so wonderful that I
told Marguerite, expecting that it would very much astonish her.  But
she did not seem to think much about it.  Her mind was full of something
else.

"Ah, my Damoiselle," she said, "they did well that built this church,
and put no roof on it.  For He is not here; He is gone up.  And He will
come again.  Thank God!  He will come again.  ’This same Jesus’—the same
that wore the crown of thorns, and endured the agony of the cross,—the
same that said ’Weep not’ to the bereaved mother, and ’Go in peace’ to
the woman that was a sinner—the very same, Himself, and none other.  I
marvel if it will be just here!  I would like to live and die here, if
it were."

"O Margot!" said I, laughing, "thou dost not fancy it will be while thou
art alive?"

"Only the good God knows that," she said, still looking up intently
through the roof of the church,—or where the roof should have been—into
the sky. "But I would it might.  If I could find it in my heart to envy
any mortal creature, it would be them who shall look up, maybe with eyes
dimmed by tears, and see Him coming!"

"I cannot comprehend thee, Margot," said I.  "I think it would be just
dreadful.  I can hardly imagine a greater shock."

"Suppose, at this moment, my Damoiselle were to look behind her, and see
Monseigneur Count Guy standing there, smiling on her,—would she think it
a dreadful shock?"

"Margot!  How can the two be compared?"

"Only love can compare them," answered the old woman softly.

"Marguerite!  Dost thou—canst thou—love our Lord as much as I love Guy?
It is not possible!"

"A thousand times more, my Damoiselle.  Your Nobility, I know, loves
Monseigneur very dearly; yet you have other interests apart from him.  I
have no interest apart from my Lord.  All my griefs, all my joys, I take
to Him; and until He has laid His hand on them and blessed them, I can
neither endure the one nor enjoy the other."

I wonder if Lady Judith feels like that!  I should like to ask her, if I
could take the liberty.

Marguerite was looking up again into the sky.

"Only think what it will be!" she said.  "To look up from the cradle of
your dying child, with the anguish of helplessness pressing tight upon
your heart—and see Him!  To look up from your own sick bed, faint and
weary beyond measure—and see Him!  From the bitter sense of sin and
failure—from cruel words and unkind looks—from loneliness and
desolation—from hunger and cold and homelessness—to look up, and see
Him!  There will be some suffering all these things when He comes. Oh,
why are His chariot-wheels so long in coming? Does not He long for it
even more than we?"

I was silent.  She looked—this old villein woman—almost like one
inspired.

"He knows!" she added softly.  "He knows.  He can wait.  Then we can.
Surely I come quickly. Amen.  Come, Lord Jesus!"’

Amaury called me, and I left her there.

He wanted to creep through the columns, and wished me to try first, as I
am slimmer than he.  I managed it pretty well,—so now all my sins are
remitted, and I do feel so good and nice!  Lady Isabel could hardly do
it; and Amaury, who has been growing fatter of late, could not get
through at all.  He was much disappointed, and very cross in
consequence.  Damoiselle Melisende would not try.  She said, laughing,
that she was quite sure she could not push through, and she must get her
sins forgiven some other way.  But she mischievously ran and fetched old
Marguerite, and putting on a grave face, proposed to her to try the
feat. Now I am quite certain Marguerite could never have done it; for
though she is not stout, she is a large-built woman.  But she looked at
the place for a moment, and then said to Melisende—

"If the Damoiselle pleases, what will follow?"

"Oh, thou wilt have all thy sins forgiven," said she.

"I thank the Damoiselle," answered Marguerite, and turned quietly away.
"Then it would be to no good, for my sins are forgiven."

"What a strange old woman!" exclaimed Lady Isabel.

"Oh, Marguerite is very queer," said I.  "She amuses me exceedingly."

"Is she quite right in her head, do you think?" demanded the Princess,
eyeing Margot with rather a doubtful expression.

I laughed, and Amaury said, "Oh yes, as bright as a new besant.  She is
only comical."

Then we went into the Church of Saint John, where a piece of marble is
kept on which our Lord wrote when the heathen Jews desired to know His
judgment on a wicked woman.  Marguerite seemed puzzled with this.  She
said she had heard Father Eudes read the story, and the holy Evangel
said that our Lord wrote on the ground.  How did the writing get on that
marble?

"Oh," said I, "the marble must have been down below, and it pleased the
good God that it should receive the impress."

"The good God can do all things," assented Margot.  "But—well, I am an
ignorant woman."

Coming down, on the slope of Olivet, the place is shown where our Lady
appeared to Monseigneur Saint Thomas, who refused to believe her
assumption, and gave him her girdle as a token of it.  This girdle is
kept in an abbey in England, and is famous for easing pain.

That same afternoon, at the spice in the Queen’s presence-chamber, were
Messire de Montluc and his sons.  And we fell in talk—I remember not
how—upon certain opinions of the schoolmen.  Messire Renaud would have
it that nothing is, but all things only seem to be.

"Nay, truly, Messire," said I, laughing; "I am sure I am."

"Pardon me—not at all!" he answered.

"And that cedar-wood fire is," said Damoiselle Melisende.

"By no means," replied Messire Renaud.  "It exists but in your fancy.
There is no such thing as matter—only mind.  My imagination sees a fire
there: your imagination sees a fire:—but there is no fire,—such a thing
does not exist."

"Put your finger into this fire which does not exist, if you please,
Messire," remarked the Queen, who seemed much amused; "I expect you will
come to a different conclusion within five minutes."

"I humbly crave your Highness’ pardon.  My finger is an imagination.  It
does not really exist."

"And the pain of the burn—would that be imagination also?" she inquired.

"Undoubtedly, Lady," said he.

"But what is to prevent your imagining that there is no pain?" pursued
Her Highness.

"Nothing," he answered.  "If I did imagine that, there would be none.
There is no such thing as matter.  Mind—Soul—is the only existence,
Lady."

"What nonsense is the boy talking!" growled the Baron.

"But, I pray you, Messire Renaud," said I, "if I do not exist, how does
the idea that I do exist get into my head?"

"How do I have a head for it to get into?" added Guy.

"Stuff and nonsensical rubbish!" said the Baron. "Under leave of my Lady
Queen,—lad, thou hast lost thy senses.  No such thing as matter, quotha!
Why, there is nothing but matter that is in reality. What men call the
soul is simply the brain.  Give over thy fanciful stuff!"

"You are a Realist, Messire?" asked Guy.

"Call me what name you will, Sir Count," returned the Baron.  "I am no
such fool as yon lanky lad of mine.  I believe what I see and hear, and
there I begin and end.  So does every wise man."

"Is it not a little odd," inquired Guy, "that everybody should think all
the wise men must believe as he does?"

"Odd?  No!" said the Baron.  "Don’t you think so yourself, Sir Count?"

Guy laughed.  "But there is one thing I should like to know," said he.
"I have heard much of Realists and Nominalists, but I never before met
one of either.  I wish to ask each of you, Messires,—In your system,
what becomes of the soul after death?"

"Nay, if there be no soul, what can become of it?" put in Damoiselle
Melisende.

"Pure foy!" cried the Baron.  "I concern myself about nothing of that
sort.  Holy Church teaches that the soul survives the body, and it were
unseemly to gainsay her teaching.  But—ha! what know I?"

"For me," said Messire Renaud, a little grandiloquently, "I believe that
death is simply the dissolution of that which seems, and leaves only the
pure essence of that which is.  The modicum of spirit—of that
essence—which I call my soul, will then be absorbed into the great soul
of the Universe—the Unknowable, the Unknown."

"We have a name for that, Messire," said Guy reverently.  "We call
it—God."

"Precisely," answered Messire Renaud.  "You—we—holy Church—personify
this Unknowable Essence, which is the fountain of all essence.  The
parable—for a parable it is—is most beautiful.  But It—He—name it as you
will—is none the less the Unknown and the Unknowable."

"The boy must have a fever, and the delirium is on him," said the Baron.
"Get a leech, lad.  Let out a little of that hot blood which mystifies
thy foolish brains."

There was silence for a minute, and it was broken by the low, quiet
voice of Lady Judith, who sat next to the Lady Queen, with a spindle in
her hand.

"’And this is life eternal, that they should _know Thee_.’"  She added
no more.

"Beautiful words, truly," responded Messire Renaud.  "But you will
permit me to observe, Lady, that they are—like all similar
phrases—symbolical. The soul that has risen the nearest to this
ineffable Essence—that is most free from the shell of that which
seems—may, in a certain typical sense, be said to ’know’ this Essence.
Now there never was a soul more free from the seeming than that of Him
whom we call our Lord.  Accordingly, He tells us that—employing one of
the loveliest of all types—He ’knew the Father.’  It is perfectly
charming, to an enlightened mind, to recognise the force, the beauty,
the hidden meaning, of these exquisite types."

"Lad, what is the length of thine ears?" growled the Baron.  "What
crouched ass crammed all this nonsense into thee?  ’Enlightened
mind’—’exquisite types’—’charming symbolism’!  I am not at all sure that
I understand thee, thou exquisite gander!  But if I do, what thou
meanest, put in plain language, is simply that there is no God.  Eh?"

"Fair Father, under your good leave, I would choose other words.
God—what we call God—is the Unknowable Essence.  Therefore, undoubtedly
there is God, and in a symbolic sense, He is the Creator of all things,
this Essence being the source out of which all other essences are
evolved. Therefore, parabolically speaking"——

"I’ll lay my stick about thy back, thou parabolical mud-puddle!" cried
the Baron.  "Let me be served up for Saladin’s supper if I understand a
word of thy foolery!  Art thou a true son of holy Church or not?  That
is what I want to know."

"Undoubtedly, fair Sir!" said Messire Renaud. "God forbid that I should
be a heretic!  Our holy Mother the Church has never banned the
Nominalists."

"Then it is high time she did!" retorted the Baron.  "I reckon she
thinks they will do nobody much harm, because no mortal being can
understand them.  But where, in the name of all the Seven Wonders of the
World, thou gattest such moonshine sticking in thy brains, shoot me if I
know.  It was not from my Lady, thy fair mother; and I am sure it was
not from me."

Messire Renaud made no answer beyond a laugh, and the Lady Queen quickly
introduced a different subject.  I fancy she saw that the Baron was
losing his temper.  But when Messire Renaud was about to take leave,
Lady Judith arose, as quietly as she does everything, and glided to his
side.

"Fair Sir," she said gently, "I pray you, pardon one word from an old
woman.  You know years should teach wisdom."

"Trust me, Lady, to listen with all respect," said he courteously.

"Fair Sir," she said, "when you stand face to face with death, you will
find _It_ does not satisfy your need.  You will want _Him_.  You are not
a thing, but a person.  How can the thing produced be greater than that
which produces it?"

"Your pardon, fair Lady and holy Mother!" interposed Messire Renaud
quickly.  "I do not object to designate the Unknowable Essence as Him.
Far from it!  I do but say, as the highest minds have said,—We cannot
know.  It maybe Him, It, Them:—we cannot know.  We can but bow in
illimitable adoration, and strive to perfect, to purify and enlighten,
our minds, so that they shall grow nearer and nearer to that ineffable
Possibility."

A very sad look passed over Lady Judith’s face.

"My son," she said, "’if the light that is in thee be darkness, how
great is that darkness!’  These are not my words, but His that died for
thee."

And without another word, she glided back to her seat.

"Margot," said I, when she came to undress me, "is my body or my soul
me?"

"To fall and bruise yourself, Damoiselle, would tell you the one," said
she; "and to receive some news that grieved you bitterly would show you
the other."

"Messire Renaud de Montluc says that only my soul is me; and that my
body does not exist at all,—it only seems to be."

"Does he say the same of his own body?"

"Oh yes; of all."

"Wait till he has fleshed his maiden sword," said Margot.  "If he come
into my Damoiselle’s hands for surgery[#] with a broken leg and a
sword-cut on the shoulder, let her ask him, when she has dressed them,
whether his body be himself or not."


[#] All ladies were taught surgery, and practised it, at this date.


"Oh, he says that pain is only imagination," said I.  "If he chose to
imagine that he had no pain, it would stop."

"Very good," said Marguerite.  "Then let him set his broken leg with his
beautiful imagination. If he can cure his pain by imagining he has none,
what must he be if he do not?"

"Well, I know what I should think him.  But his father, the Baron de
Montluc, will have it just the opposite—that there is no soul, nor
anything but what we can see and hear."

"Ah! they will both find out their mistakes when they come to die," said
Margot.  "Poor blind things!  The good God grant that they may find them
out a little sooner."

I asked Guy if he did not think the Baron’s notion a very dangerous one.
But while he said "yes," he added that he thought Messire Renaud’s much
more so.

"It is so much more difficult to disprove," said he.  "It may look more
absurd on the surface, but it is more subtle to deal with, and much more
profound."

"They both look to me very silly," said I.

"I wish they were no worse," was Guy’s answer.


To-day we have been to the Church of the Nativity, at Bethlehem.  This
is a little city, nearly two leagues from Jerusalem, that is, half a
day’s ride.  The way thither is very fair, by pleasant plains and woods.
The city is long and narrow, and well walled, and enclosed with good
ditches on all sides.  Between the city and the church lies the field
Floridus, where of old time a certain maiden was brought to the burning,
being falsely accused. But she, knowing her innocence, prayed to our
Lord, and He by miracle caused the lighted faggots to turn into red
roses, and the unlighted into white roses; which were the first roses
that were ever in the world.

The place where our Lord was born is near the choir of the church, down
sixteen steps, made of marble and richly painted; and under the
cloister, down eighteen steps, is the charnel-house of the holy
Innocents.  The tomb of Saint Jerome is before the holy place.  Here are
kept a marble table, on which our Lady ate with the three Kings that
came from the East to worship our Lord; and the cistern into which the
star fell that guided them. The church, as is meet, is dedicated to our
Lady.

Marguerite wanted to know if I were sure that the table was marble.
Because, she said, our Lady was a poor woman—only imagine such a
fancy!—but she insisted upon it that she had heard Father Eudes read
something about it.  As if the Queen of Heaven, who was, moreover, Queen
of the land, could have been poor!  I told Marguerite I was sure she
must be mistaken, for our Lady was a Princess born.

"That may be, of blood," said she; "but she was poor.  Our Lord Himself,
when on earth, was but a villein."

I was dreadfully shocked.

"O Marguerite!" I cried.  "What horrible sacrilege! Art thou not afraid
of the church falling on thee?"

"It would not alter that if it did," said she drily.

"Our Lord a villein!" exclaimed I.  "How is such a thing possible?  He
was the King of Kings."

"He is the King of Kings," said Marguerite, so reverently that I was
sure she could mean no ill; "and He was of the royal blood of
Monseigneur Saint David.  That is the Evangel of the nobles. But He was
by station a villein, and wrought as a carpenter, and had no house and
no wealth.  That is the Evangel of the villeins.  And the villeins need
their Evangel, Damoiselle; for they have nothing else."

I could not tell what to answer.  It is rather puzzling.  I suppose it
is true that our Lord was reputed the son of a carpenter; and he must
have wrought as such,—Monseigneur Saint Joseph, I mean,—for the Lady de
Montbeillard, who is fond of picking up relics, has a splinter of wood
from a cabinet that he made.  But I always thought that it was to teach
religious persons[#] a lesson of humility and voluntary poverty.  It
could not be that He was _poor_!


[#] By this term a Romanist does not mean what a Protestant does. The
only "religious persons," in the eyes of the former, are priests or
monks.


Then our Lady,—I have seen a scrap of her tunic, and it was as fine
stuff as it could be; and I have heard, though I never saw it, that her
wedding-ring is set with gems.  I said this to Marguerite.  How could
our Lady be poor?

"All that may be," she replied, with quiet perverseness.  "But I know,
for all that, Father Eudes read that our Lord was born in a cratch, or
laid in one, because there was no room in the inn.  And they do not
behave in that way to kings and nobles. That is the lot of the villein.
And He chose the villein’s lot; and I, a villein, have been giving Him
thanks for it."

And nothing that I could say would disturb her calm conviction.

Damoiselle Melisende told me some interesting things as we rode back to
the Holy City.  As,—that Jerusalem is very badly supplied with water,
and the villeins collect and drink only rain-water. Of course this does
not affect the nobles, who drink wine.  About two leagues from
Jerusalem, towards the north, is a little village called Jericho, where
the walls of the house of Madame Saint Rahab are still standing.  She
was a great lady who received into her house certain spies sent by
Monseigneur Saint Joshua, and hid them behind the arras.  (Now, there
again!—if that stupid old Marguerite would not have it that Madame Saint
Rahab kept a cabaret.  How could a great lady keep a cabaret?  I wish
she would give over listening, if it makes her take such fancies.)
Damoiselle Melisende also told me that Adam, our first father, was
buried in the place where our Lord was crucified; and our Lord’s blood
fell upon him, and he came to life again, and so did many others.  And
Adam wept for his son Abel one hundred years.  Moreover, there is a rock
still standing in the place where the wicked Jews had their Temple,
which was in the holiest place of all; and here our Lord was wont to
repose whilst His disciples confessed themselves to Him.[#]


[#] All these legends may be found in the Travels of Sir John
Mandeville.


Coming home, we passed by the Golden Gate, which is the gate whereby our
Lord entered the Holy City on the ass, and the gate opened to Him of its
own accord.  Damoiselle Melisende bade me observe three marks in the
stone where the ass had set his feet.  The marks I certainly saw, but I
could not have told that they were the print of an ass’s hoofs.  I
suppose I was not worthy to behold them quite distinctly.


Guy called me to him this evening.

"Little Lynette," he said, "I have something to tell thee."

"Let me spare thee the pains, Guy," answered I mischievously.  "Dost
thou think I have no eyes? I saw it the first night we came."

"Saw what?" asked Guy, with an astonished look.

"That thy beautiful lady had appeared," I replied. "Thou art going to
wed with Lady Sybil."

"What fairy whispered it to thee, little witch?" said Guy, laughing.
"Thou art right, Lynette.  The King hath bestowed on me the regency of
the kingdom, and the hand of his fair sister.  To-morrow, in presence of
the nobles, I am to be solemnly appointed Regent: and a month hence, in
the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, I wed with the Lady Sybil."

"If thou art happy, Guy, I am very glad," said I; and I said it
honestly.

"Happy?  I should think so!" cried he.  "To be Regent of the land of all
lands!  And she, Lynette—she is a gem and a treasure."

"I am sure of that, Guy," said I.

"And now, my news is not finished, little sister," said he.  "The King
has given Amaury a wife."

"Oh, poor thing!—who is it?" said I.

Guy laughed till his eyes were full of tears.

"Poor thing!—who?" said he.  "Amaury or his bride?"

"Oh, the bride, of course," said I.  "Amaury won’t care a straw for her,
and she will be worried out of her life if she does not dress to please
him."

"Let us hope that she will, then," answered Guy, still laughing.  "It is
the Damoiselle Eschine d’Ibellin, daughter of Messire de Rames.  Thou
dost not know her."

"Dost thou?—what is she like?"

"Oh, most women are like one another," said Guy—(what a falsehood!).
"Except my fair Lady, and thee, little Lynette, and the Lady Clémence,
thy fair mother,—a woman is a woman, and that is all."

"Oh, indeed!" said I, rather indignantly.  "A man is a man, I suppose,
and that is all!  Guy, I am astonished at thee.  If Amaury had said such
a thing, I should not have wondered."

"Men are different, of course," answered Guy. "But a woman’s business is
to look pretty and be attractive.  Everybody understands that.  Nobody
expects a woman to be over wise or clever."

"Thou hadst better be quiet, Guy, if thou dost not want thine ears
boxed," said I.  "If that is not a speech enough to vex any woman, I
never heard one.  You men are the most aggravating creatures. You seem
to look upon us as a kind of pretty animal, to be kept for a pet and
plaything; and if you are not too obtuse yourselves to find out that
your plaything occasionally shows signs of a soul within it, you cry
out, ’Look here!  This toy of mine is actually exhibiting scintillations
of something which really looks almost like human intellect!’  Let me
tell you, Sir Count, we have as much humanity, and sense, and
individuality, as yourselves; and rather more independence. Pretty
phrases, and courtly reverences, and professions of servitude, may sound
very well in your ears; and of those you give us plenty.  Does it never
occur to you that we should thank you a great deal more for a little
genuine respect and consideration?  We are _not_ toys; we are not pet
animals; we are not pretty pictures.  We are human creatures with human
feelings like yourselves.  We can put up with fewer compliments to our
complexions, if you please, and a little more realisation of our
separate consciences and intellects."

"’Ha, Lusignan!’" cried Guy, looking half ashamed and half amused.
"’Sainte Marguerite for Poitou!’  Upon my word, Lynette, I _have_ had a
lecture.  I shall not forget it in a hurry."

"Yes," said I, "and thou feelest very much as if Lady Isabel’s pet
monkey had opened its mouth, and uttered some wise apothegms upon the
rights of apes.  Not that thou hast an atom more respect for the rights
of apes in general, but that thou art a little astonished and amused
with that one ape in particular."

Guy went off laughing: and I returned to my embroidery.

Really, I never did see any thing like these men. "Nobody expects a
woman to be wise," forsooth! That is, of course, no man.  A woman is
nobody.

I do not believe that men like a woman to be wise. They seem to take it
as a personal insult—as though every spark of intellect added to our
brains left theirs duller.  And a woman’s mission in life is, _of
course_, to please the men,—not to make the most of herself as an
individual human soul.  That is treason, usurpation, impertinence.

They will see what they will see.  _I_ can live without them.  And I
mean to do.



                             *CHAPTER VI.*

                    _*THE PERVERSITY OF PEOPLE*_*.*


    "’Do one good’!  Is it good, if I don’t want it done?
      Now do let me grumble and groan:
    It is all very well other folks should have fun;
      But why can’t they let me alone?"


Damoiselle Melisende and I have been busy all morning in laying out
dried herbs under the superintendence of Lady Judith.  The herbs of this
land are not like those of Poitou.  There was cassia,—of which one
variety,[#] Lady Judith says, is taken as medicine, to clear the system
and purify the blood,—and garlic, which they consider an antidote to
poison,—and the wild gourd,[#] which is medicine for the liver,—and
hyssop, spikenard, wormwood (a cure for vertigo), and many others.  Two
curious fruits they have here which I never heard of in Poitou; the one
is a dark, fleshy stone-fruit, very nice indeed, which they call plums
or damascenes;[#] they grow chiefly at Damascus.  The other grows on
trees around the Dead Sea, and is the apple of Sodom, very lovely to the
eye, but as soon as you bite it, you find nothing but a mouthful of
ashes.  I was so amused with this fruit that I brought some home and
showed them to Marguerite.


[#] Senna.

[#] Colocynth.

[#] Introduced into Europe by the Crusaders.


"Ah, the world is full of those!" she said, when she had tried one, and
found out what sort of thing it was.

"Thou art quite mistaken, Margot," said I. "They are found but in this
country, and only in one particular spot."

"Those that can be seen, very likely," said she. "But the unseen fruit,
my Damoiselle, grows all over the world, and men and women are running
after it all their lives."

Then I saw what she meant.

They have no apples here at all; but citrons and quinces, which are not
unlike apples.  The golden citron[#] is a beautiful fruit, juicy and
pleasant; and Lady Judith says some people reckon it to be the golden
apples of the Hesperides, which were guarded by dragons, and likewise
the "apples of gold," of which Monseigneur King Solomon speaks in Holy
Writ.  There are almonds, and dates, and cucumbers, and large, luscious
figs, and grapes, and melons, and mulberries, and several kinds of nuts,
and olives, and pomegranates.  Quinces are here thought to make children
clever.  They make no hay in this country.


[#] Oranges.


As for their stuffs, there are new and beautiful ones.  Here they weave
byssus,[#] and a very fine transparent stuff called muslin.  Crape comes
from Cyprus, and damask from Damascus, whence it is named.  But the
fairest of all their stuffs is the baudekyn, of which we have none in
Europe,—especially the golden baudekyn, which is like golden samite.  I
have bought two lovely pieces for Alix, the one gold-colour, the other
blue.


[#] Cotton.


Some very curious customs they have here, which are not common in
Europe.  Instead of carrying lanterns when one walks or rides at night,
they hang out lanterns in the streets, so that all are lighted at once.
It seems to me rather a good idea.

Guy has been telling us some strange things about the Saracens.  Of
course I knew before that they worship idols,[#] and deal in the black
art; but it seems that Saladin, when he marches, makes known his
approach by a dreadful machine produced by means of magic, which roars
louder than a lion,[#] and strikes terror into every Christian ear that
is so unhappy as to be within hearing.  This is, of course, by the
machinations of the Devil, since it is impossible that any true Catholic
could be frightened of a Saracen otherwise.


[#] All mediæval Christians thought this.

[#] The first drum on record.


We are all very busy preparing for the weddings. There are to be three,
on three successive days.  On the Saturday, Amaury is to be married to
Damoiselle Eschine.  (Poor thing!—how I pity her!  I would not marry
Amaury to be Empress.)  On the Sunday, Guy weds with Lady Sybil.  And on
Monday, Lady Isabel with Messire Homfroy de Tours.

I think Lady Sybil grows sweeter and sweeter. I love her,—Oh, so much!
She asked me if Guy had told me the news.  I said he had.

"And dost thou like it, Lynette?" she asked shyly.

"Very much indeed," said I,—"if you love him, Lady."

"Love him!" she said.  And she covered her face with her hands.  "O
Lynette, if thou knewest how well!  He is my first love.  I was wedded
to my Lord of Montferrat when both of us were little children; we never
chose each other.  I hope I did my best to make him a good and dutiful
wife; I know I tried to do so.  But I never knew what love meant, as
concerned him.  Never, till _he_ came hither."

Well, I am sure Guy loves her.  But—shall I own to having been the least
bit disappointed with what he said the other day about women?

I should not have cared if Amaury had said it. I know he despises
women—I have noticed that brainless men always do—and I should not have
expected any thing better.  But I did not look for it from Guy.  Several
times in my life, dearly as I love him, Guy has rather disappointed me.

Why do people disappoint one in that way?  Is it that one sets up too
high a standard, and they fall short of it?  I think I will ask Lady
Judith what she thinks.  She has lived long enough to know.


I found an opportunity for a chat with Lady Judith the very next day.
We were busy broidering Lady Sybil’s wedding-dress, the super-tunic of
which is to be white baudekyn, diapered in gold, and broidered with deep
red roses.  She wears white, on account of being a widow.  Lady Isabel
will be in gold-coloured baudekyn, and my new sister Eschine in rose
damask.

I have said nothing about Eschine, though she is here.  It was because I
had not any thing to say. Her eyes, hair, and complexion are of no
colour in particular; she is not beautiful—nor ugly: she is not
agreeable—nor disagreeable.  She talks very little.  I feel absolutely
indifferent to her.  I should think she would just do for Amaury.

Well!—we were broidering the tunic, Lady Judith doing the gold, and I
the red; and Damoiselle Melisende had been with us, working the green
leaves, but the Lady Queen sent for her, and she went away.  So Lady
Judith and I were left alone.

"Holy Mother," said I, "give me leave to ask you a question."

"Surely, my child," said she; "any one thou wilt."

"Then, holy Mother,—do people ever disappoint you?  I mean, when you
fancy you know a man, does he never surprise you by some action which
you think unworthy of him, and which you would not have expected from
him?"

Lady Judith’s first answer was an amused smile.

"Who has been disappointing thee, Helena?"

"Oh, nobody in particular," said I hastily; for how could I accuse Guy?
_Loyauté d’amour_ forbid! "But I mean in general."

"Generals are made of particulars, Helena.  But I have not answered thy
question.  Yes, certainly I have known such a feeling."

"And, if it please you, holy Mother, what is the reason of it?" said I.
"Does one set up one’s standard of right, truth, and beauty, too high?"

"That is not possible, my child.  I should rather think thou hast set up
the man too high."

"Oh!" said I deprecatingly.

"Hast thou ever heard a saying, Helena, that ’a man sees only that which
he brings eyes to see’? There is much truth in it.  No man can
understand a character which is higher or broader than his own.  Admire
it he may; enter into it, he cannot. Human character is a very
complicated thing."

"Then one may be too low to see a man’s character?"

"True; and one may be too high.  A single eye will never understand a
double one.—Or they may be too far asunder.  A miser and a spendthrift
are both in the wrong, but neither of them can feel with the other."

"But where the temperaments are alike—?" said I; for I always think Guy
and I were cast in the same mould.

"They never are quite alike," she replied.  "As in a shield borne by two
brothers, there is always a difference."

"Pray you, holy Mother, do you think my brother Guy and me alike?"

"Alike, yet very different," she said, and smiled. "Cast from one
mould,—yet he on the one side of it, and thou on the other."

"What do you think is the difference, holy Mother?  May I know?"

"Wouldst thou like to know, Helena?" she said, and smiled again.

"Oh, I think I can bear to hear my faults," said I.  "My pride is not of
that sort."

"No," she said; "but thou art very proud, little one."

"Certainly," said I; "I am noble."

Lady Judith looked suddenly up at me, with a kind of tender look in her
grey eyes, which are so like, and yet so unlike, Lady Sybil’s eyes.

"Little maid, tell me one thing; is thine heart at rest?"

"I have never been at rest, holy Mother.  I do not know how to get it."

"No, dear heart; thy shoulder is not under the yoke.  Listen to the
words of the Master—thy Lord and mine.  ’Take My yoke upon you, and
learn of Me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest
unto your souls.’  Little maiden, wilt thou not come and learn of Him?
He is the only one in Heaven or earth who will never disappoint thee."

Rather bitter tears were filling my eyes.

"I don’t know how!" I said.

"No, dear heart; He knows _how_," said Lady Judith.  "Only tell Him thou
art willing to learn of Him—if thou art willing, Helena."

"I have had some thoughts of going into the cloister," said I.  "But—I
could not leave Guy."

"Dear child, canst thou not learn the lessons of God, without going into
the cloister?"

"I thought not," said I.  "One cannot serve the good God, and remain in
the world,—can one?"

"Ah, what is the world?" said Lady Judith. "Walls will not shut it out.
Its root is in thine own heart, little one."

"But—your pardon, holy Mother!—you yourself have chosen the cloister."

"Nay, my child.  I do not say I might not have done so.  But, in fact,
it was chosen for me.  This veil has been upon my head, Helena, since I
was five years old."

"Yet you would not deny, holy Mother, that a nun is better than a
wife?"[#]


[#] I trust that I shall not be misunderstood, or supposed to express
any approbation of conventual life. At the date of this story, an
unmarried woman who was not a nun was a phenomenon never seen, and no
woman who preferred single life had any choice but to be a nun. In these
early times, also, nuns had more liberty, and monasticism, as well as
religion in general, was free from some corruptions introduced in later
years.  The original nunneries were simply houses where single women
could live together in comfort and safety, and were always seminaries of
learning and charitable institutions. Most of them were very different
places at the date of the dissolution.


"Better?  I am not so sure.  Happier,—yes, I think so."

"Most people would say just the opposite, would they not?" said I,
laughing.

"Most men, and some women," she answered, with a smile.  "But
Monseigneur Saint Paul thought a woman happier who abode without
marriage."

"That is what I should like best: but how can I, without being a nun?
Perhaps, if I were an eremitess, like your Nobility, I might still get
leave from my superiors to live with Guy."

"It is always Guy with thee," remarked Lady Judith, smiling.  "Does Guy
never disappoint thee, my child?"

It was on my lips to say, "Oh no!"—but I felt my cheeks grow hot, and I
did not quite like to tell a downright lie.  I am sure Lady Judith saw
it, but she kindly took no notice.  However, at this point, Damoiselle
Melisende came back to her leaves, and we began to talk of something
else.

I asked Marguerite, at night, if people disappointed her.

"Did my Damoiselle expect never to be disappointed?" she answered,
turning the question on myself at once.  (Old people do.  They seem to
think one always means one’s self, however careful one may be.)  "Then I
am afraid she will be disappointed."

"But why?" said I.  "Why don’t people do right, as one expects them to
do?"

"Does one always know what is right?  As to why,—there are the world,
the flesh, and the Devil, against it; and if it were not for the grace
of the good God, any one of them would be more than enough."

The world, the flesh, and the Devil!  The world,—that is other people;
and they do provoke one, and make one do wrong, terribly, sometimes.
But the flesh,—why, that is me.  I don’t prevent myself doing right.
Marguerite must be mistaken.

Then, what is grace?  One hears a great deal about it; but I never
properly understood what it was.  It certainly is no gift that one can
see and handle.  I suppose it must be something which the good God puts
into our minds; but what is it?  I will ask Lady Judith and Marguerite.
Being old, they seem to know things; and Marguerite has a great deal of
sense for a villein.  Then, having been my nurse, and always dwelt with
nobles, she is not quite like a common villein; though of course the
blood must remain the same.


I wonder what it is about Lady Isabel which I do not like.  I have been
puzzling over it, and I am no nearer.  It feels to me as if there were
something slippery about her.  She is very gracious and affable, but I
should never think of calling her sweet—at least, not sweet like her
sister.  She seems just the opposite of Lady Judith, who never stops to
think whether it is her place to do any thing, but just does it because
it wants doing.  Lady Isabel, on the contrary, seems to me to do only
what _she_ wants doing.  In some inexplicable manner, she slides out of
every thing which she does not fancy; and yet she so manages it that one
never sees she is doing it at the time.  I never can fathom people of
that sort.  But I do not like them.

As for darling Lady Sybil, I love her better and better every day.  I do
not wonder at Guy.

Of Guy himself I see very little.  He is Regent of the kingdom, and too
busy to attend to any thing.


"Marguerite," I said, "what is grace?"

"Does my Damoiselle mean the grace of the good God?"

I nodded.

"I think it is help," she answered.

"But what sort of help?"

"The sort we need at the minute."

"But I do not quite understand," said I.  "We get grace when we receive
the good Lord; but we do not get help.  Help for what?"

"If my Damoiselle does not feel that she needs help, perhaps that is the
reason why she does not get it."

"Ah, but we do get it in the holy mass.  Can we receive our Lord, and
not receive grace?"

"Do we always, and all, receive our Lord?"

"Margot!  Is not that heresy?"

"Ha!  I do not know.  If it be truth, it can hardly be."

"But does not holy Church teach, that whenever we eat the holy bread,
the presence of our Lord comes down into our hearts?"[#]


[#] Holy Church had gone no further than this in 1183.  Bare
transubstantiation was not adopted by authority till about thirty years
later.


"I suppose He will come, if we want Him," said Marguerite thoughtfully.
"But scarcely, I should think, if we ate that bread with our hearts set
on something else, and not caring whether He came or not."

I was rather afraid to pursue the question with Margot, for I keep
feeling afraid, every now and then, when she says things of that sort,
whether she has not received some strange, heretical notion from that
man in sackcloth, who preached at the Cross, at Lusignan.  I cannot help
fancying that he must be one of those heretics who lately crept into
England, and King Henry the father had them whipped and turned out of
doors, forbidding any man to receive them or give them aid.  It was a
very bitter winter, and they soon perished of hunger and cold, as I
suppose such caitiffs ought. Yet some of them were women; and I could
not but feel pity for the poor innocent babes that one or two had in
their arms.  And the people who saw them said they never spoke a bitter
word, but as soon as they understood their penalty, and the punishment
that would follow harbouring them, they begged no more, but wandered up
and down the snowy streets in company, singing—only fancy, singing!  And
first one and then another dropped and died, and the rest heaped snow
over them with their hands, which was the only burial they could give;
and then they went on, singing,—always singing.  I asked Damoiselle
Elisinde de Ferrers,—it was she who told me,—what they sang. She said
they sang always the holy Psalter, or else the Nativity Song of the
angels,—"Glory to God in the highest,—on earth peace towards men of
good-will."[#]  And at last they were all dead under the snow but
one,—one poor old man, who survived last.  And he went on alone,
singing.  He tottered out of the town,—I think it was Lincoln, but I am
not sure,—and as far as men’s ears could follow, they caught his thin,
quavering voice, still singing,—"Glory to God in the highest!"  And the
next morning, they found him laid in a ditch, not singing,—dead.  But on
his face was such a smile as a saint might have worn at his martyrdom,
and his eyes gazing straight up into heaven, as if the angels themselves
had come down to help him to finish his song.[#]


[#] Vulgate version.

[#] This is the first persecution on record in England of professing
Christians, by professing Christians.


Oh, I cannot understand!  If this is heresy and wickedness, wherein lies
the difference from truth and holiness?

I must ask Lady Judith.


Oh dear, why _will_ people?—I do think it is too bad.  I never thought
of such a thing.  If it had been Amaury, now,—But that Guy, of all
people in all this world—

Come, I had better tell my story straight.

I was coming down the long gallery after dinner, to the bower of the
Lady Queen, where I meant to go on with my embroidery, and I thought I
might perhaps get a quiet talk with Lady Judith. All at once I felt
myself pulled back by one of my sleeves, and I guessed directly who had
caught me.

"Why, Guyon!  I have not seen thee for an age!"

"And I want to see thee for a small age," answered he, laughing.  "How
many weddings are there to be next week, Lynette?"

"Why, three," said I.  "Thou wist as well as I."

"What wouldst thou say to four?"

"Wish them good fortune, so I am not the bride."

"Ah, but suppose thou wert?"

"Cry my eyes out, I think."

Hitherto Guy had spoken as if he were jesting. Now he changed his tone.

"Seriously, Elaine, I am thinking of it.  Thou knowest thou camest
hither for that object."

"_I_ came hither for that!" cried I in hot indignation.

"Thou wert sent hither, then," answered Guy, half laughing at my tone.
"Do not be so hot, little one. Monseigneur expects it, I can assure
thee."

"Art thou going to wed me against my will?  O Guy!  I never thought it
of thee!" exclaimed I pitifully.

For that was the bitterest drop—that Guy should be willing to part with
me.

"No, no, my darling Lynette!" said Guy, taking my hands in his.  "Thou
shalt not be wed against thy will, I do assure thee.  If thou dost not
like the knight I had chosen, I will never force him upon thee.  But it
would be an excellent match,—and of course I should be glad to see thee
comfortably settled.  Thou mightest guess that."

Might I!  That is just what I never should have guessed.  Do men ever
understand women?

"’Settled,’ Guy!" I said.  "What dost thou mean by ’settled’?  What is
there about me that is unsettled?"

"Now, that is one of thy queer notions," answered Guy.  "Of course, no
woman is considered settled till she marries."

"I should think it was just the most unsettling thing in the world,"
said I.

"Lynette, thou wert born in the wrong age!" said Guy.  "I do not know in
what age thou wert born, but certainly not this."

"And thou wouldst be glad to lose me, Guy!"

"Nay, not glad to lose thee, little one"—I think Guy saw that had hurt
me—"but glad for thine own sake.  Why, Lynette, crying?  For what, dear
foolish child?"

I could hardly have told him.  Only the world had gone dark and dreary.
I know he never meant to be unkind.  Oh no!  I suppose people don’t,
generally.  They do not find out that they have hurt you, unless you
scream.  Nor perhaps then, if they are making a noise themselves.

"My dear little sister," said Guy again,—and very lovingly he said
it,—"why are all these tears?  No man shall marry thee without thy
leave.  I am surprised.  I thought women were always ready to be
married."

Ah, that was it.  He did not understand!

"And thou art not even curious to hear whom it should have been?"

"What would that matter?" said I, trying to crush back a few more
hundreds of tears which would have liked to come.  "But tell me if thou
wilt."

"Messire Tristan de Montluc," he said.

It flashed on me all at once that Messire Tristan had tried to take the
bridle of my horse,[#] when we came from the Church of the Nativity.  I
might have guessed what was coming.


[#] Then a tacit declaration of love to a lady.


"Does that make any difference?" asked Guy, smiling.

"No," said I; "none."

"And the poor fellow is to break his heart?"

"I dare say it will piece again," said I.

Guy laughed, and patted me on the shoulder.

"Come, dry all those tears; there is nothing to cry about.  Farewell!"

And away he went, whistling a troubadour song.

Nothing to cry about!  Yes, that was all he knew.

I went to my own chamber, sent Bertrade out of it, and finished my cry.
Then I washed my face, and when I thought all traces were gone, I went
down to my embroidery.

Lady Judith was alone in the bower.  She looked up with her usual kind
smile as I took the seat opposite.  But the smile gave way in an instant
to a graver look.  Ah! she saw all was not right.

I was silent, and went on working.  But in a minute, without any
warning, Lady Judith was softly singing.  The words struck me.

    "’Art thou weary, art thou languid,
      Art thou sore distressed?
    ’Come to Me,’ saith One, ’and, coming,
      Be at rest.’

    "’Hath He marks to lead me to Him,
      If He be my Guide?’
    ’In His feet and hands are wound-prints,
      And His side.’

    "’Is there diadem, as monarch,
      That His brow adorns?’
    ’Yea, a crown, in very surety,
      But of thorns.’

    "If I find Him, if I follow,
      What His guerdon here?’
    ’Many a sorrow, many a labour,
      Many a tear.’

    "’If I still hold closely to Him,
      What hath He at last?’
    ’Sorrow vanquished, labour ended,
      Jordan past.’

    "’If I ask Him to receive me,
      Will He say me nay?’
    ’Not till earth, and not till heaven,
      Pass away.’"


"Oh!  Your pardon, holy Mother, for interrupting you," said Damoiselle
Melisende, coming in some haste; "but the Lady Queen sent me to ask when
the Lady Sybil’s tunic will be finished."

Her leaves are finished, but not my roses, nor Lady Judith’s gold
diapering.  I felt much obliged to her, for something in the hymn had so
touched me that the tears were very near my eyes again. Lady Judith
answered that she thought it would be done to-morrow; and Melisende ran
off again.

"Hast thou heard that hymn before, Helena?" said Lady Judith, busy with
the diaper.

"Never, holy Mother," said I, as well as I could.

"Did it please thee now?"

"It brought the tears into my eyes," said I, not sorry for the excuse.

"They had not far to come, had they, little one?"

I looked up, and met her soft grey eyes.  And—it was very silly of me,
but—I burst into tears once more.

"It is always best to have a fit of weeping out," said she.  "Thou wilt
feel better for it, my child."

"But I had—had it out—once," sobbed I.

"Ah, not quite," answered Lady Judith.  "There was more to come, little
one."

"It seems so foolish," I said, wiping my eyes at last.  "I do not
exactly know why I was crying."

"Those tears are often bitter ones," said Lady Judith.  "For sometimes
it means that we dare not look and see why."

I thought that was rather my position.  For indeed the bitter ingredient
in my pain at that moment was one which I did not like to put into
words, even to myself.

It was not that Guy did not love me.  Oh no! I knew he did.  It was not
even that I did not stand first in his love.  I was ready to yield that
place to Lady Sybil.  Perhaps I should not have been quite so ready had
it been to any one else. But—there was the sting—he did not love me as I
loved him.  He could do without me.

And I could have no comfort from sympathy. Because, in the first place,
the only person whose sympathy would have been a comfort to me was the
very one who had distressed me; and in the second place, I had a vague
idea underlying my grief that I had no business to feel any; that every
body (if they knew) would tell me I was exceedingly silly—that it was
only what I ought to have expected—and all sorts of uncomfortable
consolations of that kind.  Was I a foolish baby, crying for the
moon?—or was I a grand heroine of romance, whose feelings were so
exquisitely delicate and sensitive that the common clay of which other
people were made could not be expected to understand me?  I could not
tell.

Oh, why must we come out of that sweet old world where we walked hand in
hand, and were all in all to each other?  Why must we grow up, and drift
asunder, and never be the same to one another any more?

Was I wicked?—or was I only miserable?

About the last item at any rate there was no doubt.  I sat, thinking sad
thoughts, and trying to see my work through half-dimmed eyes, when Lady
Judith spoke again.

"Helena," she said, "grief has two voices; and many only hear the upper
and louder one.  I shall be sorry to see thee miss that lower, stiller
voice, which is by far the more important of the two."

"What do you mean, holy Mother?" I asked.

"Dear heart," she said, "the louder voice, which all must hear, chants
in a minor key, ’This world is not your rest.’  It is a sad, sad song,
more especially to those who have heard little of it before.  But many
miss the soft, sweet music of the undertone, which is,—’Come unto Me,
and I will give you rest.’  Yet it is always there—if we will only
listen."

"But a thing which is done cannot be undone," said I.

"No," she answered.  "It cannot.  But can it not be compensated?  If
thou lose a necklace of gilt copper, and one give thee a gold carcanet
instead, hast thou really sustained any loss?"

"Yes!" I answered, almost astonished at my own boldness.  "If the copper
carcanet were a love-gift from the dead, what gold could make up to me
for that?"

"Ah, my child!" she replied, with a quick change in her tone.  It was
almost as if she had said,—"I did not understand thee to mean
_that_!"—"For those losses of the heart there is but one remedy. But
there is one."

"Costly and far-fetched, methinks!" said I, sighing.

"Costly, ay, in truth," she replied; "but far-fetched? No.  It is close
to thee, if thou wilt but stretch forth thine hand and grasp it."

"What, holy Mother?"

Her voice sank to a low and very reverent tone.

"’Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt.’"

"I cannot!" I sobbed.

"No, thou couldst not," she said quietly, "until thou lovest the will of
Him that died for thee, better than thou lovest the will of Hélène de
Lusignan."

"O holy Mother!" I cried.  "I could not set up my will against the good
God!"

"Couldst thou not?" was all she said.

"Have I done that?" I faltered.

"Ask thine own conscience," replied Lady Judith. "Dear child, He loved
not His will when He came down from Heaven, to do the will of God His
Father.  That will was to save His Church.  Little Helena, was it to
save thee?"

"How can I know, holy Mother?"

"It is worth knowing," she said.

"Yes, it is worth knowing," said I, "but how can we know?"

"What wouldst thou give to know it?  Not that it can be bought: but what
is it worth in thine eyes?"

I thought, and thought, but I could not tell wherewith to measure any
thing so intangible.

"Wouldst thou give up having thine own will for one year?" she asked.

"I know not what might happen in it," said I, with a rather frightened
feeling.

Why, I might marry, or be ill, or die.  Or Guy might give over loving me
altogether, in that year. Oh, I could not, could not will that!  And a
year is such a long, long time.  No, I could not—for such a time as
that—let myself slip into nothing, as it were.

"Helena," she said, "suppose, at this moment, God were to send an angel
down to thee from Heaven.  Suppose he brought to thee a message from God
Himself, that if thou wouldst be content to leave all things to His
ordering for one year, and to have no will at all in the matter, He
would see that nothing was done which should really harm thee in the
least.  What wouldst thou say?"

"Oh, then I should dare to leave it!" said I.

"My child, if thou art of His redeemed, He has said it—not for one short
year, but for all thy life. _If_, Helena!"

"Ah,—if!" I said with a sigh.

Lady Judith wrought at her gold diapering, and I at my roses, and we
were both silent for a season. Then the Lady Queen and the Lady Isabel
came in, and there was no further opportunity for quiet conversation.



                             *CHAPTER VII.*

                  _*A LITTLE CLOUD OUT OF THE SEA*_*.*


    "Coming events cast their shadows before."
      —CAMPBELL.


It is Monday night, and I am,—Oh, so tired!

The three grand weddings are over.  Very beautiful sights they were; and
very pleasant the feasts and the dances; but all is done now, and if
Messire Renaud feels any doubt to-night about his body being himself, I
have none about mine.

Eschine made a capital bride, in the sense in which a man would use the
words.  That is, she looked very nice, and she stood like a statue.  I
do not believe she had an idea in her head beyond these: that she was
going to be married, that it was a very delightful thing, and that she
must look well and behave becomingly.

Is that the sort of woman that men like?  It is the sort that some men
seem to think all women are.

But Amaury!  If ever I did see a creature more absurd than he, I do not
know who it was.  He fidgetted over Eschine’s bridal dress precisely as
if he had been her milliner.  At the very last minute, the garland had
to be altered because it did not suit him.

Most charming of all the weddings was Guy’s. Dear Lady Sybil was so
beautiful, and behaved so perfectly, as I should judge of a bride’s
behaviour,—a little soft moisture dimming her dark eyes, and a little
gentle tremulousness in her sweet lips.  Her dress was simply
enchanting,—soft and white.

Perhaps Lady Isabel made the most splendid-looking bride of the three;
for her dress was gorgeous, and while Lady Sybil’s style of beauty is by
far the more artistic and poetical, Lady Isabel’s is certainly the more
showy.

So far as I could judge, the three brides regarded their bridegrooms
with very different eyes. To Eschine, he was an accident of the rite; a
portion of the ceremony which it would spoil the show to leave out.  To
Lady Isabel, he was a new horse, just mounted, interesting to try, and a
pleasant triumph to subdue.  But to Lady Sybil, he was the sun and
centre of all, and every thing deserved attention just in proportion as
it concerned him.

I almost hope that Eschine does not love Amaury, for I feel sure she
will be very unhappy if she do. As to Messire Homfroy de Tours, I do not
think Lady Isabel will find him a pleasant charger.  He is any thing but
spirited, and seems to me to have a little of the mule about him—a
creature who would be given at times to taking the bit in his teeth, and
absolutely refusing to go a yard further.

And now it is all over,—the pageants, and the feasts, and the dancing.
And I cannot tell why I am sad.

How is it, or why is it, that after one has enjoyed any thing very much,
one always does feel sad?

I think, except to the bride and bridegroom, a wedding is a very
sorrowful thing.  I suppose Guy would say that was one of my queer
notions.  But it looks to me so terribly like a funeral.  There is a
bustle, and a show; and then you wake up, and miss one out of your life.
It is true, the one can come back still: but does he come back to be
yours any more?  I think the instances must be very, very few in which
it is so, and only where both are, to you, very near and dear.

I think Marguerite saw I looked tired and sad.

"There have been light hearts to-day," she said; "and there have been
heavy ones.  But the light of to-day may be the heavy of to-morrow; and
the sorrow of to-night may turn to joy in the morning."

"I do feel sorrowful, Margot; but I do not know why."

"My Damoiselle is weary.  And all great joy brings a dull, tired feeling
after it.  I suppose it is the infirmity of earth.  The angels do not
feel so."

"I should like to be an angel," said I.  "It must be so nice to fly!"

"And I," said Marguerite; "but not for that reason.  I should like to
have no sin, and to see the good God."

"Oh dear!" said I.  "That is just what I should not like.  In the sense
of never doing wrong, it might be all very well: but I should not want
never to have any amusement, which I suppose thou meanest: and seeing
the good God would frighten me dreadfully."

"Does my Damoiselle remember the time when little Jacquot, Bertrade’s
brother, set fire to the hay-rick by playing with lighted straws?"

"Oh yes, very well.  Why, what has that to do with it?"

"Does she recollect how he shrieked and struggled, when Robert and
Pierre took him and carried him into the hall, for Monseigneur himself
to judge him for his naughtiness?"

"Oh yes, Margot.  I really felt sorry for the child, he was so
terrified; and yet it was half ludicrous—Monseigneur did not even have
him whipped."

"Yet, if I remember rightly, my Damoiselle was standing by Monseigneur’s
side at the very time; and she did not look frightened in the least.
Will she allow her servant to ask why?"

"Why should I, Margot?  I had done nothing wrong."

"And why is my Damoiselle more like Jacquot than herself, when she comes
to think of seeing the good God?"

"Ah!—thou wouldst like me to say, Because I have done wrong, I suppose."

"Yes; but I think there was another reason as well."

"What was that, Margot?"

"My Damoiselle is Monseigneur’s own child. She knows him.  He loves her,
and she knows it."

"But we are all children of the good God, Margot."

"Will my Damoiselle pardon me?  We are all His creatures: not all His
children.  Oh no, no!"

"O Margot!" said I suddenly, "didst thou note that tall, dark, handsome
knight, who stood on Count Guy’s left hand,—Count Raymond of Tripoli?"

"He in the mantle lined with black sable, and gold-barred scarlet hose?"

"That is the man I mean."

"I saw him.  Why, if it please my Damoiselle?"

"Didst thou like him?"

"My Damoiselle did not like him?"

Marguerite is very fond of answering one question by another.

"I did not; and I could not tell why."

"Nor I.  But I could."

"Then tell me, Margot."

"My Damoiselle, every man has a mark upon his brow which the good God
and His angels can see. But few men see it, and in some it is not easy
to see.  Many foreheads look blank to our eyes.  But sooner or later,
one of the two marks is certain to shine forth—either the holy cross of
our Lord, or the badge of the great enemy, the star that fell from
heaven.  And what I saw on that man’s lofty brow was not the cross of
Christ, but the star of Satan."

"Margot, thy queer fancies!" said I, laughing. "Now tell me, prithee, on
whose forehead, in this house, thou seest the cross."

"The Lady Judith," she answered without the least hesitation; "and I
think, the Lady Sybil. Let my Damoiselle pardon me if I cannot name any
other, with certainty.  I have weak eyes for such sights.  I have hope
of Monseigneur Count Guy."

"Margot, Margot!" cried I.  "Thou uncharitable old creature, only three!
What, not the Lady Queen, nor the Lady Isabel, nor the holy Patriarch!
Oh, fie!"

"Let my Damoiselle pardon her servant.  The Lady Queen,—ah, I have no
right to say.  She looks blank, to me.  The cross may be there, and I
may be blind.  But the Patriarch—no! and the Lady Isabel—the good God
forgive me if I sin, but I believe I see the star on her."

"And on me?" said I, laughing to hide a curious sensation which I felt,
much akin to mortification. Yet what did old Marguerite’s foolish
fancies matter?

I was surprised to see her worn old eyes suddenly fill with tears.

"My sweet Damoiselle!" she said.  "The good God bring out the holy cross
on the brow that I love so well!  But as yet,—if I speak at all, I must
speak truth—I have not seen it there."

I could not make out why I did not like the Count of Tripoli.  He is a
very handsome man,—even my partial eyes must admit, handsomer than Guy.
But there is a strange look in his eyes, as if you only saw the lid of a
coffer, and beneath, inside the coffer, there might be something dark
and dangerous.  Guy says he is a splendid fellow; but Guy always was
given to making sudden friendships, and to imagining all his friends to
be angels until he discovered they were men.  I very much doubt the
angelic nature of Count Raymond.  I do not like him.

But what a queer fancy this is of old Marguerite’s—that Satan puts marks
on some people!  Yet I cannot help wishing she had not said that about
me. And I do not think it was very respectful.  She might have said
something more civil, whatever she thought.  Marguerite always will
speak just as she thinks.  That is like a villein.  It would never do
for us nobles.


Guy has now been Regent of the Holy Land for half a year.  Some people
seem to fancy that he is rather too stern.  Such a comical idea!—and of
Guy, of all people.  I think I know how it is.  Guy is very impulsive in
enterprise, and very impetuous in pursuing it.  And he sees that during
the King’s illness every thing has gone wrong, and fallen into disorder;
and of course it will not do to let things go on so.  People must be
governed and kept in their places.  Of course they must.  Why, if there
were no order kept, the nobles and the villeins would be all mixed up
with each other, and some of the more intelligent and ambitious of the
villeins might even begin to fancy themselves on a par with the nobles.
For there is a sort of intelligence in some of those people, though it
must be of quite a different order from the intellect of the nobles.  I
used to think villeins never were ambitious.  But I have learned lately
that some of them do entertain some such feeling.  It must be a most
dangerous idea to get into a villein’s head!—though of course, right and
proper enough for a noble.  But I cannot imagine why villeins cannot be
contented with their place.  Did not Providence make them villeins?—and
if they have plenty of food, and clothing, and shelter, and fire, and a
good dance now and then on the village green, and an extra holiday when
the Seigneur’s daughter is married, or when his son comes of age,—what
can they possibly want more?

I said so to Marguerite.

"Ah, that is all the nobles know!" she answered, quietly enough, but
with some fire in the old eyes. "They do not realise that we are men,
just as they are.  God sent us into His world, with just as much, body
and soul, as He did them.  We have intellects, and hearts, and
consciences, just like them.  (’Just like’—only fancy!)  I trust the
good God may not have to teach it them through pain."

"But they ought to be satisfied," said I.  "I am perfectly content with
my place in the world.  Why are they not contented?"

"It is easier to be content with velvet than duffle," said Marguerite
more calmly.  "It looks better, and feels softer, too.  If my Damoiselle
were to try the duffle for a day, perhaps she would complain that it
felt harsh."

"To me, very likely," said I.  "But a villein would not have a fine skin
like mine."

"The finest skin does not always cover the finest feelings," said
Marguerite in her dry way.

What a very silly idea!  Of course those people cannot have such
feelings as I have.  It would be quite absurd to think so.

I do think, however, that what vexed me most of any thing, was that
Amaury—that silly little boy!—should take it into his head to lecture
Guy on the way he chose to govern.  As if he could know anything about
it!  Why, he is two whole years younger than Guy.  I told him so,
feeling really vexed at his impudence; and what should he say but that I
was seven years younger than he.  I know that, but I am a woman; and
women have always more sense than men.  At least, I have more sense than
Amaury.  I should be an idiot if I had not.


I have made a discovery to-day which has astonished me.  Lady Judith has
a whole Bible, and Psalter too, of her own, not written in Latin, but in
her own tongue in which she was born,—that is, Greek.  And she says that
a great part of the Bible—all the holy Evangels, and the writings of
Messeigneurs the holy Apostles—were originally written in Greek.  I
always thought that holy Scripture had been written in Latin.  I asked
her if Latin were not the language the holy angels spoke, and our Lord,
when He was upon earth. She answered, that she did not think we knew
what language the holy angels spoke, and she should doubt if it were any
tongue spoken on earth: but that the good God, and Messeigneurs the holy
Apostles, she had no doubt at all, spoke Greek.  It sounds very strange.

Lady Isabel has had a violent quarrel with her lord, and goes about with
set lips and her head erect, as if she were angry with every one.

I almost think Eschine improves upon acquaintance. Not that I find her
any cleverer than I expected, but I think she is good-natured, and seems
to have no malice in her.  If Amaury storms—as he does sometimes—she
just lets the whirlwind blow over her, and never gives him a cross word.
I could not do that.  I suppose that is why I admire it in Eschine.


A young nun came this morning to visit Lady Judith—one of her own Order.
I could not quite understand their conversation.  Sister Eudoxia—for
that is her name—struck me as being the holiest religious person I have
ever seen.  She spoke so beautifully, I thought, about the perfection
one could attain to in this life: how one’s whole heart and soul might
be so permeated with God, that one might pass through life without
committing any deed of sin, or thinking any evil thought.  Not, of
course, that I could ever attain to such perfection But it sounded very
beautiful and holy.

I was quite surprised to see how constrained, and even cool, Lady Judith
was.  It was only yesterday that she assented warmly to old Marguerite’s
saying that no one who served God could love any kind of sin.  But with
Sister Eudoxia—who spoke so much more charmingly on the same subject—she
sat almost silent, and when she did speak, it seemed to be rather in
dissent than assent.  It puzzled me.

When Sister Eudoxia was gone, Lady Sybil said—

"Oh, what happiness, if one could attain to the perfection of living
absolutely without sin!"

"We shall," answered Lady Judith.  "But it will not be in this world."

"But Sister Eudoxia says it might be."

"Ah, my poor Sister Eudoxia!" said Lady Judith sadly.  "She has taken up
with a heresy nearly as old as Christianity itself, and worse than than
that of Messire Renaud de Montluc, because it has so much more truth in
it.  Ay, so much mixture of truth, and so much apparent loveliness, that
it can be no wonder if it almost deceive the very elect.  Beware of
being entangled in it, my children."

"Heresy, holy Mother!" cried Lady Sybil, with a shocked look.  "I
thought I had never heard any one ascribe more of the glory of our
salvation to God than she did.  For she said that every thing was done
for us by the good Lord, and that even our perfection was wrought by Him
for us."

"And not by Him in us," said Lady Judith. "The very point of the heresy,
my child.  Eudoxia sees no distinction between the righteousness done
for us, which is our ground of justification before God, and the
holiness wrought in us, which is our conformity to His image.  The first
was finished on the rood, eleven centuries ago: the second goes on in
the heart of every child of God, here and now.  She is one of those who,
without intending it, or even knowing that they do it, do yet sadly fail
to realise the work of the Holy Ghost.

"But how much she spoke of the blessed Spirit!" objected Lady Sybil.

"My daughter," said Lady Judith, with a smile, "hast thou not yet found
out the difference between names and things?  There are many men who
worship God most devoutly, but it is a God they have made to themselves.
Every man on earth is ready to love and serve God with his whole
heart,—if he may set up God after his own pattern.  And what that really
means is, a God as like as possible to himself: who will look with
perfect complacency on the darling sins which he cherishes, and may then
be allowed to condemn with the utmost sternness all evil passions to
which he is not addicted."

"That sounds _very_ shocking, holy Mother!" said Lady Sybil.

"We are all liable to the temptation," replied Lady Judith, "and are apt
to slide into it ere we know it."

We all wrought for a little time in silence, when Lady Sybil said, "What
do you call that heresy, holy Mother, into which you say that Sister
Eudoxia has fallen?"

"If thou wilt look into the vision of the Apostle, blessed John, called
the Apocalypse," answered Lady Judith, "thou wilt see what Christ our
Lord calls it.  ’This thou hast, that thou rejectest the teaching of the
Nicolaitanes, which I hate."’

"But I thought," said Lady Sybil, looking rather surprised, "that those
Nicolaitanes, who were heretics in the early Church, held some very
horrible doctrines, and led extremely wicked lives?  The holy Patriarch
was speaking of them, not long ago."

"Ah, my child," said Lady Judith, "men do not leap, but grow, into great
wickedness.  Dost thou not see how the doctrine works?  First, it is
possible to live and do no sin.  Secondly, _I_ can live and do no sin.
Thirdly, I do live and not sin. Lastly, when this point is
reached,—Whatever my spiritual instinct does not condemn—I being thus
perfect—cannot be sin.  Therefore, I may do what I please.  If I lie,
murder, steal—which would be dreadful sins in another—they are no sins
in me, because of my perfection.  And is this following Christ?"

"Assuredly not!  But does Sister Eudoxia really imagine that?"

"Oh no!" responded Lady Judith.  "She has not reached that point.
Comparatively few get so far on the road as that.  But that is whither
the road is leading them."

"Then what is the root of the heresy?"

"That which I believe lies at the root of every heresy—rejecting God’s
Word, that we may keep our own traditions.  The stem may perhaps consist
of two things; the want of sufficient lowliness, and the want of a right
knowledge of sin.  It is not enough realised that a man’s conscience,
like all else in him, has been injured by the fall, but conscience is
looked on as a heavenly judge, still in its original purity.  This, as
thou mayest guess, leads to depreciation of the Word of God, and
exaltation of the conscience over the Word.  And also, it is not
properly seen that while a man lives, the flesh shall live with him, and
the flesh and the renewed spirit must be in perpetual warfare to the
end."

"But we know——" said Lady Sybil,—and there she paused.

"’We know’!" repeated Lady Judith, with a smile.  "Ah, my child, we
think we know a great deal.  And we are like children playing on the
seashore, who fancy that they know all that is in the sea, because they
have scooped up a little sea-water in their hands.  There are heights
and depths in God’s Word and in God’s purposes, which you and I have
never reached yet,—which perhaps we shall never reach.  ’For as the
heaven is high above the earth, so are His ways higher than our ways,
and His thoughts than our thoughts.’"

I was curious to know what Marguerite would say: she always agrees so
strangely with Lady Judith, even when they have not talked the matter
over at all.  So I said, when I went up to change my dress—

"Margot, dost thou commit sin?"

"My Damoiselle thinks me so perfect, then?" said she, with a rather
comical look.

I could not help laughing.

"Well, not quite, when thou opposest my will," said I; "but dost thou
know, there are some people who say that they live without sin."

"That may be, when to contradict the holy Evangels is a mark of
perfection," said Marguerite drily.

"Well, what hast thou heard about that in thy listening, Margot?" said
I, laughing.

"The first thing I heard perplexed me," said she. "It was of Monseigneur
Saint John, who said that he that is born of God doth not commit sin:
and it troubled me sorely for a time, since I knew I did sin, and feared
lest I was therefore not born of God. But one day, Father Eudes read
again, from the very same writing, that ’If any man sin, we have an
Advocate with the Father,’ and likewise that if we say we have no sin,
we are liars.  So then I thought, Well! how is this?  Monseigneur the
holy Apostle would not contradict himself.  But still I could not see
how to reconcile them, though I thought and thought, till my brain felt
nearly cracked.  And all at once, Father Eudes read—thanks be to the
good God!—something from Monseigneur Saint Paul, which put it all
right."

"What was that?"

"Ah!  I could not get it by heart.  It was too difficult, and very long.
But it was something like this: that in a Christian man there are two
hearts, of which the one, which is from God, does not sin at all; and
the other, which is the evil heart born in us, is always committing
sin."

"But, Margot, which of thy two hearts is thyself?"

"Ha!  I cannot answer such questions.  The good God will know."

"But art thou sure those are not wicked people?"

"Certainly, no.  Monseigneur Saint Paul said ’I’ and ’me’ all through."

"Oh, but, Margot!—he could not have meant himself."

"If he had not meant what he said, I should think he would have
mentioned it," said Marguerite in her dry, quaint style.

"Well, a holy Apostle is different, of course," said I.  "But it looks
very odd to me, that anybody living now should fancy he never does
wrong."

"Ah, the poor soul!" said Marguerite.  "The good God knows better, if he
do not."



                            *CHAPTER VIII.*

                     _*AS GOOD AS MOST PEOPLE*_*.*


The best way to see Divine light is to put out your own candle.


This morning the Lady Princess of Antioch visited the Lady Queen, and
remained for the day, taking her departure only just before the gates
were closed, for she preferred to camp out at night.  She is quite
young, and is a niece of the Lady Queen.  After she was gone, we were
talking about her in the bower, and from her we came to speak of the
late Princess, her lord’s mother.

"Pray do not talk of her!" said Lady Isabel. "She made herself a
bye-word by her shameless behaviour."

"Only thoughtless," remonstrated Lady Sybil gently.  "I never thought
she deserved what was said of her."

"Oh no!—you never think anybody does," sneered her sister.  "I could not
have associated with such a woman.  She must have known what was said of
her.  I wonder that she was brazen enough to show herself in public at
all."

"But think, Isabel!  I do not believe she did know.  You know she was
not at all clever."

"She was half-witted, or not much better," was the answer.  "Oh yes, I
know that.  But she must have known."

"I do not think she did!" said Lady Sybil earnestly.

"Then she ought to have known!" sharply replied Lady Isabel.  "I wonder
they did not shut her up.  She was a pest to society."

"O Isabel!" deprecated her sister.  "She was very good-natured."

"Sybil, I never saw any one like you!  You would have found a good word
for Judas Iscariot."

"Hardly," said Lady Sybil, just as gently as before.  "But perhaps I
might have helped finding evil ones."

"There are pearl-gatherers and dirt-gatherers," quietly remarked Lady
Judith, who had hitherto listened in silence.  "The latter have by far
the larger cargo, but the handful of the former outweighs it in value."

"What do you mean, holy Mother?" inquired Lady Isabel, turning quickly
to her—rather too sharply, I thought, to be altogether respectful.

"Only ’let her that thinketh she standeth, take heed lest she fall,’"
said Lady Judith, with a quiet smile.

"I?" said Lady Isabel, with a world of meaning in her tone.

"My child," was the reply, "they that undertake to censure the cleanness
of their neighbours’ robes, should be very careful to avoid any spot on
the purity of their own.  Dost thou not remember our Lord’s saying about
the mote and the beam?"

"Well," said Lady Isabel, bringing her scissors together with a good
deal of snap, "I think that those who associate with such people as the
Princess Constantia bring a reflection on their own characters. Snow and
soot do not go well together."

"The soot defiles the snow," responded Lady Judith.  "But it does not
affect the sunbeam."

"I do not understand you," said Lady Isabel bluntly.

"Those who confide in their own strength and goodness, Isabel, are like
the snow,—very fair, until sullied; but liable to be sullied by the
least speck. But those who take hold of God’s strength, which is Christ
our Lord, are the sunbeam, a heavenly emanation which cannot be sullied.
Art thou the snow, or the sunbeam, my child?"

"Oh dear!  I cannot deal with tropes and figures, in that style,"
answered she, rising.  "And my work is finished; I am going now."

I fancied she did not look very sorry for it.


Great events are happening.  The Lord King, finding his malady grows
rather worse than better, has resolved to abdicate, in favour of his
nephew, Lady Sybil’s baby son.  So to-morrow Beaudouin V. is to be
proclaimed throughout the Holy City, and on the Day of Saint Edmund the
King,[#] he will be crowned in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  They
say the Lord King was a very wise man before he became a mesel; and he
will still give counsel when needed, the young King being but three
years old.


[#] Nov. 20.


I do not quite see what difference the abdication will make.  Guy must
still remain Regent for several years, and the only change is that he
will govern for his step-son instead of his brother-in-law. And I feel a
little jealous that Lady Sybil should be passed by.  She, not her son,
is the next heir of the crown.  Why must she be the subject of her own
child, who ought to be hers?  I really feel vexed about it; and so does
Guy, I am sure, though he says nothing—at least to me.  As to Lady Sybil
herself, she is so meek and gentle, that if a beggar in the street were
put over her head, I believe she would kneel to do her homage without a
cloud on her sweet face.

However, I felt at liberty to say what I thought to Amaury, though I
seldom do it without being annoyed by his answer.  And certainly I was
now.

"She!  She’s a woman," said Messire Amaury. "What does a woman know
about governing?"

"What does a baby know?" said I.

"Oh, but he will be a man some day," answered Amaury.

"But Guy will govern in either case," I replied, trying not to be angry
with him.

He is so silly, and he thinks himself so supremely wise!  I do believe,
the more foolish people are, the wiser they think themselves.

"Ha!" said he.  "Saving your presence, Damoiselle Elaine, I am not so
sure that Guy knows much about it."

"Amaury, thou art an idiot!" cried I, quite unable to bear any longer.

"I believe thou hast told me that before," he returned with provoking
coolness.

I dashed away, for I knew I might as well talk to Damoiselle Melisende’s
pet weasel.

I do not like the Count of Tripoli.  The more I see of him, the less I
like him.  And I do not like his fawning professions of friendship for
Guy. Guy does not see through it a bit.  I believe he only means to use
Guy as a ladder by which to climb himself, and as soon as he is at the
top, he will kick the ladder down behind him.


Did I not say that Amaury was an idiot?  And is it not true?  Here is
our sister Eschine the mother of a pretty little baby, and instead of
being thankful that Eschine and the infant are doing well, there goes
Amaury growling and grumbling about the house because his child is a
girl.  Nay, he does more, for he snarls at Eschine, as if it were her
fault, poor thing!

"She knows I wanted a boy!" he said this morning.

Men are such selfish simpletons!

To see how coolly Eschine takes it is the strangest thing of all.

"I was afraid he would be disappointed," she said calmly.  "You see, men
don’t think much of girls."

"Men are all donkeys," said I, "and Amaury deserves to be king of the
donkeys."

Eschine seemed to think that very funny.

"Come, Elaine, I cannot let thee say that of my lord, and sit silent.
And I think Messire Homfroy de Tours quite as well qualified for the
position."

"Ah," said I, "but Lady Isabel keeps her curb much tighter than thou.  I
really feel almost sorry for him sometimes, when she treats him like a
baby before all the world."

"She may do that once too often," said Eschine.

Amaury means to call the baby Héloïse—for a reason which would never
have occurred to any one but himself—because we have not had that name
in the family before.  And Eschine smilingly accepts it, as I believe
she would Nebuchadnezzar if he ordered her.


To-day the little King was crowned in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre,
at noon; and in the evening the Damoiselle Héloïse de Lusignan was
baptized into the Fold of Christ.  The King was very good: I think he
inherits much of his mother’s sweet disposition.  I cannot say as much
for my small niece, for she cried with all her heart when the holy
Patriarch took her in his arms; and he said it showed that Satan must
have taken strong possession of her, and was very hard to dislodge.  But
no sooner had the holy cross been signed on her, and the holy Patriarch
gave her back into the arms of her nurse, than, by the power of our
Lord, she was quite another creature, and did not utter a single cry.
So wonderful and effectual a thing is the grace of holy baptism!

"Much effect it took on thee, then," growled Amaury, to whom I said
this; "for thou didst wait until the water touched thy face, and then
didst set up such screams as never were heard from mortal babe before."

"What dost thou know about it?" said I.

"Ha!  Don’t I?" answered he provokingly.

I have been amused to hear the different ideas of various people, when
they first see the baby.  The Lady Queen stroked its little face, and
said pitifully—"Ah, poor little child, thou art come into a disagreeable
world!"  Lady Judith took it in her arms, and after rocking it a little,
she said—"What possibilities lie hidden here!"  Lady Sybil said—"Little
darling! what a treasure thou art!"  Lady Isabel’s comment (for which I
shall never forgive her) was—"What an ugly little spectacle! Are young
babies no prettier?"  Damoiselle Melisende danced it up and down, and
sang it a lively nursery song.  Guy (like a man) said, with an amused
look, "Well! that is a funny little article. Héloïse?—that means ’hidden
wisdom,’ does it not?  Very much hidden just now, I should think."
Amaury (that stupid piece of goods!)—"Wretched little creature!  Do keep
it from crying!"  And lastly, old Marguerite came to see her nursling’s
nursling’s nursling.  I wondered what she would say.  She took it in her
arms, and looked at it for some time without speaking.  And then she
said softly—

"Little child!  He that was once a little Child, bless thee!  And may He
give thee what He sees best.  That will most likely be something
different from what we see."

"O Marguerite!" said I.  "That may be an early death."

"That would be the best of all, my Damoiselle.[#]  Ah! the eyes of a
noble maiden of seventeen years see not so far as the eyes of a villein
woman of seventy.  There are good things in this world—I do not deny it.
But the best thing is surely to be safe above this world,—safe with the
good Lord."


[#] It would have been well for Héloïse, who bears a spotted reputation
in history.


"I do not want to lose my baby, Margot," said Eschine, with a rather sad
smile.

"Ah no, Dame, _you_ do not," replied Marguerite, answering the smile
with a brighter one.  "But if the good Lord should call her, it is best
to let her rise and go to Him."


Again we hear something more of those strange rumours, as though the
people were not content under Guy’s government.  But what does it
signify? They are only villeins.  Yet villeins can insult nobles, no
doubt.  Sister Eudoxia (who was here again yesterday) says they actually
talk of a petition to the King, to entreat him to displace Guy, and set
some one else in his stead.  The thought of their presuming to have an
idea on the question! As if _they_ could understand anything about
government!  Discontented under Guy! my Guy!  They are nothing better
than rebels.  They ought to be put down, and kept down.

The Lady Queen has received a letter from her kindred at Byzantium, from
which she hears that the young Byzantine Cæsar, who is but a child, has
been wedded to a daughter of the Lord King of France.  Dame Agnes is her
name, and she is but eight years old.

I wonder if it is very, very wicked to hate people? Old Marguerite will
have it that it is just as bad as murder, and that the holy Evangel says
so.  I am sure she must have listened wrong.  For I do hate Count
Raymond of Tripoli.  And I can’t help it.  I must and will hate him.  He
has won Guy’s ear completely, and Guy sees through his eyes.  I cannot
bear him, the fawning, handsome scoundrel—I am sure he is one!  They
say, too, that he is not over good to his wife, for I am sorry to say he
has a wife; I pity her, poor creature!

Lady Judith asked me, when I repeated this, who "they" were.

"I do not know, holy Mother," said I; "every body, I suppose."

"I would not put too much faith in ’them,’ Helena," she said.  "’They’
often say a great deal that is not true."

"But one must attend to it, holy Mother!" I answered.

"Why?" replied she.

"Oh, because it would never do!"

"What would never do?"

"To despise the opinion of society."

"Why?" she gently persisted.

Really, I found it rather difficult to say why.

"Methinks, Helena, I have seen thee despise the opinion of society, when
it contradicted thy will. Is it not more reasonable to despise it, when
it contradicts God’s will?"

"Holy Mother, I pray you, tell me—is that the world?" said I.  "Because
my nurse, old Marguerite, says, that Monseigneur Saint John bade us
beware of the world, and the flesh, as well as the Devil: and I am not
quite sure what it means, except that the world is other people, and the
flesh is me.  But how can I be inimical to my own salvation?"

"My child," said Lady Judith gently, "when some duty is brought to thy
remembrance, is there nothing within thee which feels as if it rose up,
and said, ’Oh, but I do not want to do that!’—never, Helena?"

"Oh yes! very often," said I.

"That is the flesh," said she.  "And ’they that are of Christ the flesh
have crucified, with its passions and its lusts.’"

"Oh dear!" I exclaimed, almost involuntarily.

"Very unpleasant, is it not?" said Lady Judith, smiling.  "Ah, dear
child, the flesh takes long in dying.  Crucifixion is a very slow
process; and a very painful process.  They that are not willing to
’endure hardness’ had better not enlist in the army of Jesus Christ."

"Ah, that is what I always thought," said I; "religious persons cannot
be very happy.  Of course, it would not be right for them; they wait
till the next world.  And yet—old Marguerite always seems happy.  I do
not quite understand it."

"Child!"  Lady Judith dropped her broidering, and the deep, sweet grey
eyes looked earnestly into mine.  "What dost thou know of happiness?
Helena, following Christ is not a hardship; it is a luxury.  The
happiness—or rather the mirth—of this world is often incompatible with
it; but it is because the one is so far above the other that it
extinguishes it, as the light of the sun extinguishes the lamp.  Yet who
would prefer the lamp before the sunlight?  Tell me, Helena, hast thou
any wish to go to Heaven?"

"Certainly, holy Mother."

"And what dost thou expect to find there?  I should be glad to know."

I could hardly tell where to begin.

"Well," I said, after a moment’s thought, "I expect to fly, and to enjoy
myself intensely; and never to have another pain, nor shed a tear; and
to see all whom I love, and be always with them, and love them and be
loved by them for ever and ever.  And there will be all manner of
delights and pleasures. I cannot think of anything else."

"And that is thy Heaven?" said Lady Judith, with a smile in which I
thought the chief ingredient was tender compassion, though I could not
see why.  "Ah, child, it would be no Heaven at all to me.  Verily, ’as a
man thinketh in his heart, so is he.’  Pleasure, and ease, and earthly
love—these are thy treasures, Helena.  ’For where thy treasure is, there
shall thine heart be.’"

"But what is the matter with my Heaven?" said I, feeling a little
aggrieved.

"Why, my child, thou hast left out the central figure.  What were a
coronation if there were no king? or a wedding where there were no
bride? Why, what was left would be equivalent to nothing. Ask thine old
nurse, and see if thy Heaven would satisfy her.  Ah, ’whom have we in
Heaven but _Thee_? and there is none upon earth that we desire in
comparison of Thee!’  Old Marguerite understands that.  Dost thou, my
maiden?"

I shook my head.  I felt too mortified to speak. To have a poor,
ignorant villein woman held up to me, as knowing more than I knew, and
being happier than I, really was humiliating.  Yet I could not resent it
from one so high as Lady Judith.

Lady Judith would have said more, I fancy, but Melisende came in, and
she quietly dropped the matter, as she generally does if any third
person enters.  But the next morning, as Marguerite was dressing my
hair, I asked her what her notion of Heaven was.

"Inside with the blessed Lord, and the Devil and all the sins and evil
things left outside," she said. "Ah, it will be rest to be rid of evil;
but it will be glory to be with the Lord."

"And the pleasures, and the flying, and all the delightful things,
Margot!" said I.

"Ah, yes, that will be very nice," she admitted. "And to meet those whom
we have lost—that will be the very next best thing to seeing the good
Lord."

"Hast thou lost many whom thou hast loved, Margot?"

"Ah, no—very few, compared with some.  My mother, and my husband, and my
two children:—that is all.  I never knew my father, and I was an only
child.  But it may be, the fewer one has to love, the more one loves
them."

"An only child!" said I.  "But Perette calls thee aunt?"

"Ah, yes, she is my husband’s niece,—the same thing."

I think Marguerite seems to agree with Lady Judith, though of course she
does not express herself so well.

And I cannot help wondering how they arrange in Heaven.  I suppose there
will be thrones nearest the good Lord for the kings and the princes who
will be there: and below that, velvet settles for the nobles; and
beneath again, the crowd of common people.  I should think that would be
the arrangement. Because, of course, no one could expect them to mingle
all together.  That would be really shocking.

Yet I cannot altogether make it out.  If Messeigneurs the holy Apostles
were originally fishermen, and worked for their living—it is very queer.
I do not understand it.  But I suppose the holy angels will take care to
put it right, and have a proper barrier between the Apostles and the
nobles, and the poor villeins, who are admitted of special grace,
through their own good deeds, and the super-abundant merits of the holy
saints.

In the afternoon, when Guy was in audience of the Lord King and the Lady
Queen, and Lady Isabel and Melisende were riding forth, with Messire
Homfroy and Amaury as their cavaliers, I found Lady Judith and Lady
Sybil busy spinning, and I brought my broidery and sat down with them.
We did not talk much for a while,—only a few words now and then: when
all at once Lady Judith said—

"Helena, wilt thou try this needle for thy work?"

I took the needle, and threaded it, and set to work again: but I found
to my surprise that I could not get on at all.  The needle would hardly
go through the silk, and it left an ugly hole when it did.  Lady Judith
went on with her spinning for a few minutes, but at length she looked up
and said—

"Well, Helena, how dost thou like that needle?"

"Not at all, holy Mother, if it please you," said I, "for I cannot get
on with it."

She selected another, and gave it me.

"Oh, this is beautiful for broidery!" I said; "so fine and sharp."

"It is the answer to a question thou wert asking me yesterday," said
Lady Judith, "and I gave thee no reply.  Canst thou guess what the
question was?"

I could not, and said so.  I did not remember asking anything that had
to do with needles, and I never thought of any hidden meaning.

"Thy question was, What is the world?—and, what harm does the world do
to us?  That needle that I first gave thee has its point blunted.  And
that is what the world does to a child of God.  It blunts his point."

"I do not understand," said I.

"Little Helena," said Lady Judith, "before a point can be blunted, there
must be one to blunt. Thou couldst not sew with a wooden post.  So,
before the world can injure thy spiritual life, there must be spiritual
life to injure.  There is no poison that will harm a dead man."

"But, holy Mother, are there two worlds?" said I.  "For religious
persons give up the world."

"My child, thine heart is a citadel which the foe can never enter,
unless there be a traitor within the walls to open the postern gate.
But there is such a traitor, Helena; and he is always on the watch. Be
thou ever on the watch too.  Yet another matter stands first:—Who reigns
in thy citadel?  Hast thou ever given thine heart to God, maiden?"

"Can I give my heart, holy Mother?  It seems to me that love is rather
like a plant that grows, than like a treasure that is given."

"Thou art right: but the planting must be sometime.  Hast thou ever
asked God to take thine heart?  For as a holy man of old hath said,—’If
Thou leave me to myself, I shall not give it Thee.’"

I shook my head.  It all sounded strange to me.

"If the usurper is in the citadel, dear child, he will hold the gates
against the rightful King: and, Helena, there are no traitors in His
camp.  Thou art not a sword, nor a shield, which can do nothing of
itself; but a human creature with a living will, which can choose either
to open the gates to the King, or to shut them against His trumpeter
when He sends thee summons to surrender.  Nay, thou not only canst
choose; thou must: at this moment, at every moment, thou art choosing.
What message hast thou sent back to thy rightful Lord, both by right and
purchase?  Is it ’Come Thou, and reign over me;’ or is it, ’Go back to
Thy place, for I will have none of Thee’?"

I would willingly not have answered: but I felt it would be to fail in
respect to Lady Judith’s age and position.  I stammered out something
about hoping that I should make my salvation some time.

"My child, didst thou ever do any thing at any time but _now_?" said
Lady Judith.

I suppose that is true; for it is always now, when we actually come to
do it.

"But, holy Mother, there is so much to give up if one becomes
religious!" said I.

"What is there to give up, that thou couldst take with thee into
Heaven?"

"But there will be things in Heaven to compensate," said I.

"And is there nothing in Christ to compensate?" she replied, with a
momentary flash in the grey eyes. "What is Heaven but God?  ’The City
had no need of the sun, for the glory of God did lighten her:’ ’and
temple I saw none in her, for the Lord God the Almighty is Temple to
her, and the Lamb.’"

Lady Sybil seemed interested; but I must confess that I thought the
conversation had assumed a very disagreeable tone; and I wondered how it
was that both Lady Judith and my old Marguerite spoke to me as if they
thought I did not serve God.  It is very strange, when I hear the holy
mass sung every morning, and I have only just offered another neuvaine
at the Holy Sepulchre.  However, Easter will soon be here, and I mean to
be very attentive to my devotions throughout the Holy Week, and see if
that will satisfy Lady Judith.  I don’t want her to think ill of me.  I
like her too well for that, though I do wish she would not talk as if
she fancied I did not serve God.  I am sure I am quite as good as most
people, and that is saying a great deal.

No, it can never be wrong to hate people.  It can’t be, and it shan’t!
And I just wish I could roast that Count of Tripoli before the fire in
the Palace kitchen till he was done to a cinder.  I am white-hot angry;
and like Jonah the Prophet, I do well to be angry.  The mean, fawning,
sneaking, interloping rascal!  I knew what he meant by his professions
of love and friendship!  Guy’s eyes were shut, but not mine.  The
wicked, cruel, abominable scoundrel!—to climb up with Guy’s help to
within an inch of the top where he sat, and then to leap the inch and
thrust him out of his seat!  I cannot find words ugly enough for him.  I
hate, hate, hate him!

To have supplanted my Guy!  After worming himself into the confidence of
the Lord King, through Guy’s friendship—ay, there is the sting!—to have
carried to the King all the complaints that he heard against Guy, until
he, poor helpless Seigneur! (I don’t feel nearly so vexed with him)
really was induced to believe Guy harsh and incapable, and to take out
of his hands the government of the kingdom.  And then he put in that
serpent, that false Judas, that courtly hypocrite—Oh dear!  I cannot
find words to describe such wickedness—and he is Regent of the Holy
Land, and Guy must kneel to him.

I could cut him in slices, and enjoy doing it!

I am angry with Melisende, who can find nothing to say but—"Ah, the
fortune of Courts—one down to-day, another up to-morrow."  And I am
almost angry with Marguerite, who says softly—"Hush, then, my
Damoiselle!  Is it not the good God?"

No, it is not.  It is the Devil who sends sorrow upon us, and makes us
hate people, and makes people be hateful.  I am sure the good God never
made Count Raymond do such wicked things.

Instead of casting Adam and Eva out of Paradise,—Oh why, why did the
good God not cast out the Devil?

"Is my Damoiselle so much wiser than the Lord?" quietly asks Marguerite.

I cannot understand it.  The old cry comes up to me again,—Oh, if I
could know!  Why cannot I understand?

And then Lady Judith lays her soft hand on my head, and says words which
I know come from the holy Evangel,—"’What I do, thou knowest not now.’"
Ay, I know not I must not know.  I can only stretch forth appealing
hands into the darkness, and feel nothing.  Not like her and Marguerite.
They too stretch forth helpless hands into the darkness, but they find
God.

It must be a very different thing.  Why cannot I do the same?  Is He not
willing that I should find Him too?—or am I not worthy?

I suppose it must be my fault.  It seems as if things were always one’s
own fault.  But I do not think they are any better on that account;
especially when you cannot make out where your fault lies.

Guy behaves like a saint.  He does not see any fault in Count Raymond: I
believe he won’t.  Lady Sybil, poor darling! looks very grieved; but not
one word of complaint can I get her to utter.

As to Amaury, when I have quite finished slicing up the Count, if he
does not mind, I shall begin with him.  What does he say but—"Well, a
great deal of it is Guy’s own fault.  Why wasn’t he more careful?
Surely, if he has any sense, he might expect to be envied and
supplanted, when he had climbed to such a height."

"If he has any sense!"  Pretty well for Messire Amaury!



                             *CHAPTER IX.*

               _*ELAINE FINDS MORE THAN SHE EXPECTED*_*.*


    "And when I know not what Thou dost,
      I’ll wait the light above."
        —DODDRIDGE.


Both Guy and Lady Sybil are in a state of the highest ecstasy, and say
that they are abundantly recompensed for all their past disappointments.
And this is because they are disappointed just like Amaury, but they
bear it in as different a style as possible.  I think, if I were they, I
should consider I had more right to be troubled of the two, for little
Héloïse is a strong child enough, and is growing almost pretty: while
dear Lady Sybil’s baby girl is a little delicate thing, that the wind
might blow away.  Of course I shall love her far better, just because
she is Guy’s and Sybil’s; and she crept into the warmest corner of my
heart when she showed me her eyes—not Lady Sybil’s gentle grey, but
those lovely flashing dark eyes of Guy’s; the most beautiful eyes, I
think, that were ever seen.

"Marguerite, is not she charming?" I cried.

"Ah, the little children always are," said the old woman.

(I don’t agree with her—little children can be great teases.)  But
Marguerite had more to say.

"My Damoiselle sees they are yet innocent of actual sin; therefore they
are among the best things in God’s world.  I may be wrong, but I think
the good God must have been the loveliest babe ever seen.  How I should
have liked to be there!—if the holy Mother would have allowed me to hold
Him in my arms!"

"Ah, I suppose only the holiest saints would be allowed to touch Him,"
said I.

"I am not so sure, if my Damoiselle will pardon me.  She was no saint,
surely, that crept into the Pharisee’s house to break the
casting-bottle[#] on His feet; yet the hardest word she had from Him was
’Go in peace.’  Ah, I thank the good God that His bidding is not, ’Come
unto Me, all ye that are holy.’  There are few of us would come, if it
were!  But ’Come unto Me, all ye that are weary’—that takes us all in.
For we are all weary some time.  The lot of a woman is a weary lot, at
the best."


[#] Used to sprinkle perfumes.


"Well, it may be, among the villeins," said I.

"My Damoiselle, I never saw more bitter tears than those of the old Lady
de Chatelherault—mother of the Lady de Lusignan—when her fair-haired boy
was brought in to her in the bower, with the green weeds in his long
bright hair, and the gold broidery of his velvet tunic tarnished by the
thick stagnant water.  Early that morning he had been dancing by her,
with the love-light in his beautiful blue eyes; and now, when the dusk
fell, they laid him down at her feet, drowned and dead, with the light
gone out of the blue eyes for ever. Ah, I have seen no little sorrow
amongst men and women in my seventy years!—but I never saw a woman look,
more than she did, as if she had lost the light of life.  The villeins
have a hard lot, as the good God knows; but all the sorrow of life is
not for the villeins—no, no!"

How oddly she puts things!  I should never have thought of supposing
that the villeins had any sorrow.  A certain dull kind of coarse grief,
or tired feeling, perhaps, they may have at times, like animals: but
sorrow surely is a higher and finer thing, and is reserved for the
nobles.  As to old Marguerite herself, I never do quite think of her as
a villein. She has dwelt with nobles all her life, so to speak, and is
not of exactly the same common sort of stuff that they are.


Yesterday afternoon Lady Sybil and I were alone in the bower, and she
had the baby in her arms. The little creature is to be made a Christian
on Sunday.  I asked her what name it was to have. I expected her to say
either Marie, which is the Lady Queen’s name, or Eustacie, the name of
Guy’s mother.  But she said neither.  She answered, "Agnes."  And she
spoke in that hushed, reverent voice, in which one instinctively utters
the names of the beloved dead.  I could not think whose it could be.
The name has never been in our House, to my knowledge; and I was not
aware of it in Lady Sybil’s line.

"Dost thou not know whose name it is, Helena?" asked Lady Sybil.  I
fancy she answered my look.

"No," said I.

"My dear lord has been very good to me," she said.  "He made not the
least objection.  It was my mother’s name, Helena."

"Oh!" said I, enlightened.  "Lady Sybil, do tell me, can you remember
the Lady Queen your mother? How old were you when she died?"

She did not answer me for an instant.  When I looked up, I saw tears
dropping slowly on the infant’s robes.

"When she—died!"  There was a moment’s pause.  "Ay, there are more
graves than men dig in the churchyard!  When she—_died_,—Helena, I was
six years old."

"Then you can remember her?" I said eagerly. "Oh, I wish I could
remember mine."

"Ay, memory may be intense bliss," she answered; "or it may be terrible
torture.  I can remember a fair face bent down over mine, soft, brooding
arms folded round me, loving kisses from gentle lips.  And then——O
Helena, did my lord tell thee she was dead?  It was kind of him; for he
knows."[#]


[#] I trust it will not be imagined from this that I think lightly of
"white lies."  Romanists, as a rule, are very lenient towards them.


Lady Sybil was sobbing.

"Then she is not dead?" I said, in a low voice.

"I do not know!" she replied.  "No one knows. She is dead to us.  Oh,
why, why does holy Church permit such terrible things?—What am I saying?
May the good Lord pardon me if I speak against Him!—But I cannot
understand why it must be. They had been wedded nearly ten years,
Helena,—I mean my parents,—when it was discovered that they were within
the prohibited degrees.  Why cannot dispensations be given when such
things occur? They knew nothing of it.  Why must they be parted, and she
be driven into loneliness and obscurity, and I——  Well, it was done.  A
decree of holy Church parted them, and she went back to her people.  We
have never heard another word about her.  But those who saw her depart
from Jerusalem said she seemed like one whose very heart was broken."

"And she never came back?" I said pityingly.

"Is it much wonder?" answered Lady Sybil, in a low voice, rocking the
child gently in her arms. "It would have been much, I think, for the
crowned and anointed Queen of Jerusalem to steal into her capital as
Damoiselle de Courtenay.  But it would have been far more for the wife
and mother to come suing to her supplanter for a sight of her own
children.  No, I cannot wonder that she never, never came back."

I was silent for a little while, then I said—

"Was the Lord King as grieved as she?  I cannot understand, if so, why
they should not have obtained a dispensation, and have been married over
again."

Lady Sybil shook her head, and I saw another tear drop on the baby’s
robe.

"No, Helena," she said, hardly above a whisper: "I do not think he was.
He had the opportunity of allying himself with the Cæsars.  And there
are men to whom a woman is a woman, and one woman is just as good as
another, or very nearly so.  Do men selling a horse stop to consider
whether it will be as happy with the new master as the old?  They do not
care.  And, very often, they cannot understand."

Ay, Amaury is one of that sort.

"And you think—if she be alive—that she will never come?" I asked.

"I hope she might.  But I think she will not. Ah, how I have hoped it!
Helena, hast thou wondered how it is that nothing short of absolute
impossibility will suffer me to depute to another the daily distribution
of the dole at the postern gate to those poor women that come for alms?
Canst thou not guess that amongst all the faces I look but for one—for
the one that might creep in there unrecognised to look on me, and that
must never, never go away with a soreness at her heart, saying, ’She was
not there!’  Every loaf that I give to a stranger, I say, ’Pray for the
soul of Agnes of Anjou!’  And then, if some day she should creep in
among the rest, and I should not know her—ah! but I think I should, if
it were only by the mother-hunger in the eyes—but if she should, and
hear that, and yet not speak, she will say in her heart, ’Sybil loves me
yet.’  And if she could only creep one step further,—’_God_ loves me
yet!’  For He does, Helena.  Maybe He has comforted her long ago: but if
she should not have found it out, and be still stretching forth numb
hands in the darkness—and if I could say it to her! Now thou knowest why
I call the babe by her name. I know not where she is, nor indeed if she
is on earth.  But He knows.  And He may let her hear it.  If she come to
know that I have called my child by her name, she may not feel quite so
lost and lonely.  I have no other way to say to her,—’I have not
forgotten thee; nor has God.  I love thee; I would fain help thee.  He
loves thee and is ready to save thee.’  Who can tell?—she _may_ hear."

"Oh dear, this is a bad world!" said I.  "Why are people so hard on each
other?  We are all fellow-sinners, I suppose."

"Ah, Helena!" said Lady Sybil, with a sorrowful smile.  "Hast thou not
found, dear, that the greater sinner a man is himself, very generally,
the harder he will be on other sinners—especially when their sins are of
a different type from his own.  The holier a man is, the more he hates
sin, and yet the more tenderly will he deal with the sinner.  For as sin
means going away from God, so holiness must mean coming near God.  And
God is more merciful than men to all who come to Him for mercy."

Lady Judith came in while the last words were being spoken.

"I never can quite tell," said I, "what sin is. Why should some things
be sin, and other things not be sin?"

"Go on, Helena," said Lady Judith, turning round with a smile.  "Why
should so many things be wrong, which I like, and so many things be
right, which I do not like?"

"Well, holy Mother, it is something like that," said I, laughing.  "Will
you please to tell me why?"

"Because, my child, thou hast inherited a sinful nature."

"But I do not like sin—as sin," said I.

"Then temptation has no power over thee.  Is it so?  Art thou never
’drawn away of thine own lust, and enticed’?"

"Well, I am not perfect," said I.  "I suppose nobody expects to be."

"Yet without absolute perfection, Helena, thou canst never enter
Heaven."

"O holy Mother!" cried I.

"Where art thou about to get it?" said she.

"I am sure I do not know!" I replied blankly.

"Thou shouldst know, my child," she responded gently.  "Think about it."

I cannot guess what she means.  I am sure I may think about that for a
year, and be no nearer when I have done.


I have had a great pleasure to-day, in the shape of a letter from
Monseigneur our father, addressed to Guy, but meant for us all three.
He wrote about six months after we set out; and I should hope he has
before now received my letter, which I sent off on the first opportunity
after our arrival in the Holy City.  Every body seems to be well, and
Alix has a baby boy, whom she means to call after Monseigneur—Geoffrey.
There is no other special news. Level, he says, misses us sorely, and
lies at my door with his nose between his paws, as if he were
considering what it could all mean.  I wonder whether he thinks he comes
to any satisfactory solution.

The Lord King, I hear, has been more indisposed for some days past.  The
Lady Queen is very attentive to him.  Lady Isabel and her lord have gone
through another tremendous quarrel,—about what I do not know.

Early yesterday morning our sister Eschine’s second baby was announced,
and in the afternoon the holy Patriarch baptized it by Guy’s name.
Amaury was in ecstasies with his boy; but alas! in the evening the poor
little thing fell into convulsions, and barely lived to see the dawn of
another day.  Amaury passed from the climax of triumph to the depths of
despair.  He growled and snarled at every body, and snapped at Eschine
in particular, as though he thought she had let her child die on purpose
to vex him.  That she could be in as much distress as himself, did not
seem to occur to him. If anything could have provoked me more than
Amaury’s unreasonableness, it would have been the calm patience with
which Eschine took it.  There he stalked about, grumbling and growling.

"Why did you all let the child die?" he wanted to know—as if we could
have helped it.  "There is not one of you has any sense!"—as if he had!
"Alix’s boy manages to live.  She knows how to treat him.  Women are all
idiots!"  (Alix, apparently, not being a woman.)

Poor Eschine lay still, a few tears now and then making their way down
her white cheeks, and meekly begging her lord and master’s pardon for
what she had not done.  When he was gone, she said—I think to anticipate
what she saw on the tip of my tongue—

"Thou knowest, Elaine dear, he is not angry with me.  Men do set such
store by a son.  It is only natural he should be very much distressed."

She will persist in making excuses for him.

"Distressed?—well!" said I.  "But he does not need to be so silly and
angry.  Natural!—well, yes,—I think it is natural to Amaury to be an
idiot. I always did think so."

"O Lynette! don’t, dear!" pleaded Eschine.

I am beginning to think I have been rather unjust to Eschine when I said
there was nothing in her; but it has taken a long while to come out.
And it seems to come rather in the form of doing and bearing, than of
thinking and saying.

But that Amaury is a most profound donkey no mortal man can doubt,—or at
any rate, no mortal woman.


I was awfully startled this morning when Marguerite undrew my curtains,
and told me that our Lord King Beaudouin had been commanded to God. It
seems now that for some time past he has been more ill than any one
knew, except the Lady Queen his stepmother.  What that wicked Count of
Tripoli may have known, of course, I cannot say. But I am sure he has
had a hand in the late King’s will.  The crown is left to the little
King, Beaudouin V., and our sweet Sybil is disinherited. What that
really means, I suppose, is that the Count is jealous of Guy’s influence
over his Lady, and imagines that he can sway the child better than the
mother.

There are to be various changes in consequence of the Lord King’s death.
The Lady Queen returns to her own family at Byzantium.  I do hope Lady
Judith will not go with her; but I am very much afraid she may.  Guy
talks about retiring to his city of Ascalon, but though I am sure Lady
Sybil will submit to his will, I can see she does not want to leave her
boy, though I do not believe she distrusts that wicked Tripoli as I do.

I asked Marguerite if she did not feel very angry.

"No," she said quietly.  "Is my Damoiselle very angry?"

"Indeed I am," said I.

"Does my Damoiselle know what are the good Lord’s purposes for
Monseigneur Count Guy?  It is more than old Marguerite does."

"Of course not: but I see what has happened."

"And not what will happen?  Ah, that is not seeing much."

"But what can happen, to put things right again, Margot?"

"Ha!  Do I know, I?  No better than Monseigneur Saint Jacob, when his
son, Monseigneur Saint Joseph, sent for his little brother, and refused
to send the meal until he came.  That is so beautiful a history!—and so
many times repeated in this world.  The poor old father!—he thought all
these things were against him.  He did not know what the good God was
making ready for him.  He did not know!  And the good God will never be
hurried.  It is we that are in a hurry, poor children of time,—we want
every thing to happen to-day. But He, who has eternity to work in, can
afford to let things take their time.  My Damoiselle does not know what
old Helweh said to me yesterday."

"No.  Who is Helweh?" said I.

"She is an Arab woman who serves in the kitchen."

"A Paynim?  O Marguerite!  What can a Paynim say worth hearing?  Or is
she a Christian?"

"If to be baptized is to be a Christian, as people always say, then
Helweh is a Christian.  But if to be a Christian is really to know and
follow the Lord Christ—and it seems to me as if the Evangel always meant
that—then I do not know.  I am afraid Helweh does not understand much
about that."

"Oh, if she has been christened, she must be a Christian," said I.
"Well, what did she say?"

"She said—’All things come to him who knows how to wait.’  It is a
Saracen proverb."

"Well, I do not believe it."

"Ah, let my Damoiselle pardon me, but it is true."

"Well!" said I, half laughing, "then I suppose I do not know how to
wait."

"I do not think my Damoiselle does," answered Marguerite quietly.

"Wilt thou teach me, Margot?"

"Ha!  It takes the good God to teach that."

"I should not think it wanted much teaching."

"Let my Damoiselle bear with her servant.  The good God has been
teaching it to me for seventy years, and I dare not make so bold as to
say I have learned it yet."

"Why, Margot, thou art as quiet, and calm, and patient as a stone."

"Ah! not _here_," she said, laying her hand upon her bosom.  "Perhaps
here,—and here,"—touching her eyes and lips.  "But down there,—no!"

"But for what, or for whom, art thou waiting, Margot?" I asked, rather
amused.

"Ha!—it ought to be only whom.  But it is too often _what_.  We are like
the little children, waiting for the father to come home, but thinking
more of the toys and bonbons he may bring than of himself. And then
there is another thing: before we can learn to wait, we must learn to
trust."

"To trust what, Margot?"

"I believe we all trust in something, if my Damoiselle pleases.  A great
many trust in themselves; and a great many more trust in
circumstances,—fate, or chance, or luck,—as they call it. Some few trust
in other human creatures; and their waking is often the saddest of all.
But it seems as if the one thing we found it hardest to do was to trust
the good God.  He has to drive us away, often, from every other trust,
before we will learn to trust Him.  Oh, how we must grieve His heart,
when He has done so much for us, and yet we _will not_ trust Him!"

I wonder what she means.  I feel as if I should like to know, and could
not tell how to begin.


The Lady Queen is gone back to her people. And I am so glad—Lady Judith
is not gone with her.  I was sadly afraid she would do.  But Melisende
is gone, and Messire Renaud de Montluc, for whom the Lady Queen trusts
to obtain some high position at the Court of the Byzantine Cæsar.

I am not at all sorry that Messire Renaud is gone. He made me feel
uncomfortable whenever I looked at him.  I cannot well express my
feeling in words; but he gave me a sensation as if nothing stood on any
thing, and every thing was misty and uncertain. I fancy some people like
that sort of feeling.  I detest it.  I like figures (though Amaury says
it is a very unladylike taste) because they are so definite and certain.
Two and two make four; and they will make four, do what you please with
them.  No twisting and turning will persuade them to be either three or
five.  Now I like that—far better than some arts, more interesting in
themselves, such as music, painting, or embroidery, of which people say,
"Yes, it is very fair,—very good,—but of course it might be better."  I
like a thing that could not be better.  Guy says that is very
short-sighted, and argues a want of ambition in me.  I do not quite see
that.  If a thing be the best it can possibly be, why should I want it
to be better?

"Oh, but one wants an aim," says Guy; "one must have a mark to shoot at.
If I were besieging a castle, and knew beforehand that I could not
possibly take it, it would deprive me of all energy and object.  There
is nothing so devoid of interest as doing something which leads to
nothing, and is worth nothing when done."

"Well," I say then, "I think if sieges and wars were done away with, it
would be no bad thing. Just think what misery they cause."

But such an outcry comes upon me then! Amaury informs me that he is
incomparably astonished at me.  Is not war the grandest of all
employments? What on earth could the nobles do, if there were no wars?
Would I have them till the earth like peasants, or read and write like
monks, or sew and dress wounds like women?

And Guy says, good-naturedly,—"Oh, one of Elaine’s curious notions.  She
never thinks like other people."

"But think," I say, "of the suffering which comes from war—the bereft
widows and fatherless children, and human pain and sorrow.  Does a woman
weeping over her husband’s corpse think war grand, do you suppose?"

"Stuff!" says Amaury.  "Can’t she get another?"

(Would he say, if Eschine were to die,—"Never mind, I can get another"?
Well, I should not much wonder if he would!)

Once, after a rather keen contest of this sort, I asked old Marguerite
if she liked war.  I saw her eyes kindle.

"Damoiselle," she said, "my husband followed his Seigneur to the war,
and left me ill at home in my cot.  He had no power to choose, as my
Damoiselle must know.  The night fell, and the Seigneur came home with
banners flying, and along the village street there were bonfires and
rejoicings for a great victory.  But my husband did not come.  I rose
from my sick-bed, and wrapped myself in a sheepskin, and went out to the
fatal field.  Like a candle in the sunlight, the pain of the heart put
out the pain of the body.  What I saw that night my Damoiselle will not
ask.  It were not meet to rehearse in the ears of a young noble lady.  I
do not know how I bore it, only that I did bear—going from one to
another in the moonlight, and turning my lantern on the dead still
faces, ever looking for that face which I feared to find.  And at last I
found him, my Piers, the one love of my young life,—where the fight had
been the most terrible, and the dead lay thickest. I knew that he had
acquitted himself right well, for his face was to the foe, and the
broken shaft of his Seigneur’s pennon was still grasped tightly in his
hand.  Damoiselle, there was no funeral pageant, no table tomb, no
herald’s cry for him.  Strangers’ hands buried him where he lay, as they
might have buried the Seigneur’s horse, if need were.  And there were no
white weeds and seclusion for me, his young widow, who knelt by my
baby’s cradle, too miserable for tears.  But may be, in those halls
where all souls are alike before the King of Kings, the Voice from the
Throne said to him, ’Well done!’  And the Voice did verily say to me,
’Fear not!  Come unto Me, and I will give thee rest.’—Ah, my Damoiselle
knows now what her old nurse thinks of war."

Oh, why must there be such things?

"How else could a knight win his spurs?" indignantly demands Amaury.

But surely, the winning of Amaury’s spurs is not the only thing of any
consequence in the world. Does the good God Himself take no account of
widows’ tears and orphans’ wails, if only the knights win their spurs?
Could not some other way be contrived for the spurs, which would leave
people alive when it was finished?

"Now, Elaine, don’t be such a simpleton!" says Amaury.

So at last, as nobody else (except Marguerite, who is nobody) seems to
understand me, I ask Lady Judith what she thinks.

"My child," she says, "’He maketh wars to cease unto the ends of the
earth; He breaketh the bow, and snappeth the spear in sunder, and
burneth the chariot in the fire.’  ’The Father of the age to come, the
Prince of Peace!’  It is one of His fairest titles.  But not till He
comes, Helena.  Till then, earth will be red with the blood of her sons,
and moistened with the tears of her daughters.  Let us pray for His
coming."

"But holy Mother, that is ages off!" said I.

"Is it?" she made answer.  "Has the Lord told thee so much, Helena?  Ah!
it may be—I know not, but I see nothing else to keep Him—it may be, that
if all the earth would come to Him to-day, He would come to us
to-morrow."

"Holy Mother, I do not know what you mean by ’coming’ to Him!"

"Dear Helena," she said gently, "thou wilt not know, till thou art ready
to come."

"But I do not understand that," said I.  "How am I to get ready?"

"’If any man thirst, let him come unto Me, and drink.’  ’If thou knewest
the gift of God, thou wouldst have asked of Him, and He would have given
to thee water of life.’  Art thou not athirst? and dost thou not know
the gift of God, dear maiden?  Then ask Him to bestow on thee the
thirst, and the knowledge."

I really do not know whether it was right or wrong, but that night,
after I had finished my Credo, and Paters, and the holy Angelical
Salutation, I ventured to say, in my own words,—"Fair Father, Jesu
Christ, give me what Lady Judith and Marguerite talk about."  I hope it
was not very wicked.  I did so tremble!  And I do not properly know what
this thing is, only that it seems to make them happy; and why should I
not be happy too? I suppose the good God will know all about it. And as
He appears to be so condescending as to listen to Marguerite, who is but
a villein, surely He will hear me, who am noble.

It is so odd that Amaury, who is such a simpleton himself, should be
perpetually calling me a simpleton. I do think, the more foolish people
are, the more fond they are of exhorting others not to be silly.  It is
very funny.  But this world is a queer place.

"It is, indeed, Lynette," says Guy, with mock gravity, when I make the
remark to him.  "The queerest place I have been in these thirty years."

As Guy is scarcely twenty-seven, it may be supposed I cannot help
laughing.

But there is another queer thing.  It does really seem as if villeins—at
least some villeins—had genuine feelings, just like us nobles.  I have
always thought that it was because Marguerite had associated so much
with nobles, that she seemed a little different—just as you might impart
the rose-scent to a handkerchief, if you shut it in a drawer with
rose-leaves.  But I know she did not become my mother’s nurse until
after her husband was dead: so she must have had feelings before that,
while she was no better off than any other villein.  It is very
incomprehensible.  And I suppose, too, when one comes to think about it,
we are all children of Adam and Eva.  How did the difference come, to
begin with?

It is very difficult to tell how things began.  It is a great deal
easier to see how they end.  Who would suppose, if men had never found
out, that the great river Danube, which rolls into the Black Sea, almost
like a sea itself in volume, came from the meltings of the ice and snow
upon the hills of Switzerland?

"Ha!" says Marguerite, when I repeat my thoughts to her, "the great God
is so rich that He can bring the large things out of the small.  We
others, we can only bring the small out of the large."

"That sounds like spoiling things," said I.

"Men are very apt to spoil what they touch," she answered.  "The good
Lord never touches anything that He does not leave more beautiful.  Has
He not blessed childhood and manhood, by becoming Child and Man?  Is not
the earth fairer since He dwelt on it? and the little children dearer,
since He took them in His arms and blessed them?  Ah, He might have
cared for me, and felt with me, just as much, if He had never been a
Man: but it would not have been the same thing to me.  And He knew it.
When we love one very much, Damoiselle, we love what he has touched: and
if he touch us, ourselves, it sends a delicious thrill through us.  The
good Lord knew that when He took on Him our nature, with all its
sufferings and infirmities,—when He touched us every where—in sorrow,
and weariness, and poverty, and hunger, and pain, and death. We can
suffer nothing which He has not suffered first,—on which He has not laid
His hand, and blessed it for His chosen.  Thanks be to His Name! It is
like honey sweetening everything.  And the things that are bitter and
acid want the most sweetening.  So the good Lord chose poverty and pain.
Ease and riches are sweet of themselves.  I have heard Father Eudes read
of one or two feasts where He was: He blessed joy as well as
sorrow,—perhaps lest we should fancy that there was something holy in
pain and poverty in themselves, and something wicked in being
comfortable and happy. Some people do think so, after all.  But I have
heard Father Eudes read a great deal more of funerals than feasts, where
the blessed Lord was. He seemed to go where people wanted comforting,
much oftener than where they were comfortable.  He knew that many more
would sorrow than rejoice."

What strange eyes Marguerite has!  She can look at nothing, but she sees
the good God.  And the strangest thing is, that it seems to make her
happy.  It always makes me miserable.  To think of God, when I am bright
and joyous, is like dropping a black curtain over the brightness.  Why
cannot I be like Marguerite?  I ought to be a great deal happier than
she.  There is something wrong, somewhere.

Then of course there must be something holy in poverty—voluntary
poverty, that is—or why do monks and nuns take the vow of poverty?  I
suppose there is nothing holy in simply being poor, like a villein.  And
if our Lord really were poor, when He was on earth, that must have been
voluntary poverty.  I said as much to Margot.

"Damoiselle," said she, "every man who follows our Lord must carry his
cross.  His own cross,—not somebody else’s.  And that means, I think,
the cross which the good God lays on His shoulders. The blessed Christ
Himself did not cut His own cross.  But we others, we are very fond of
cutting our crosses for ourselves, instead of leaving the good God to
lay them on us.  And we always cut them of the wrong wood.  We like them
very light and pretty, with plenty of carving and gilding.  But when the
good Lord makes the crosses, He puts no carving on them; and He often
hews out very rough and heavy ones.  At least, He does so for the
strong.  He makes them light, sometimes, for the weak; but there is no
gilding—only the pure gold of His own smile, and that is not in the
cross itself, but in the sunlight which He sends upon it. But my
Damoiselle will find, when men sort out the crosses, the strong walk
away with the light ones, and the rough and heavy fall to the weak. The
good Lord knows better than that."

"But we don’t all carry crosses, Margot," said I; "only religious
persons."

Marguerite shook her head decidedly.

"Damoiselle, all that learn of the good Lord must bear the cross.  He
said so.  ’If any man serve Me, let him follow Me’—and again, ’If any
man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and
follow Me.’  Father Eudes read them both.  My Damoiselle sees—’_any_
man.’  That must mean all men."

Well, I cannot understand it I only feel more puzzled than ever.  I am
sure it would not make me happier to carry a heavy cross.  Yet Lady
Judith and Marguerite are happy; I can see they are.  Religion and good
people seem to be full of contradictions.  How is one to understand
them?



                              *CHAPTER X.*

                   _*PREPARING FOR THE STRUGGLE*_*.*


    "He that hath a thousand friends hath not a friend to spare,
    And he that hath one enemy shall find him every where."


I have thought, and thought, about Lady Judith’s question concerning
perfection, and, as I expected, I cannot see my way through it at all.
And what is more, I do not see how to reconcile it with what she said
herself of Sister Eudoxia.  So this morning I took the liberty of asking
her what she meant.

Lady Judith smiled, and replied, "Wert thou puzzled, Helena?"

"Yes, holy Mother," said I, "very much."

"I am glad of it," she answered.  "I wanted to puzzle thee, and make
thee think."

"I have been thinking a great deal," I said, "but I cannot think my way
out of the labyrinth."

"We must take counsel of Holy Writ to find our way out," answered Lady
Judith; and she laid her hand on her Greek Bible, which is a very
handsome book, bound in carved wood, and locked with a golden clasp.
She unlocked it with the little key which hangs from her girdle, and
said, "Now listen, Helena.  In the days when our Lord dwelt on middle
earth, there were certain men amongst the Jews, called Pharisees, who
were deemed exceedingly holy persons.  So exact were they in the
fulfilment of all duties, that they did not reckon their tithes paid,
unless they taxed the very pot-herbs in their gardens.  Yet our Lord
said to His disciples,—’If your righteousness surpass not that of the
Pharisees, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of Heaven.’"

"Likely enough," said I.  "Surely any christened man could easily be
better than heathen Jews."

"But He said more, Helena.  ’Be ye then perfect, even as your Father, He
in the heavens, is perfect.’"

"Perfect as the good God is perfect!" I exclaimed.

"That is our standard," she responded.  "We are not to rest short of
that."

"But we cannot!  You yourself said it, holy Mother, when we were talking
of Sister Eudoxia."

"I did, my child.  Let us take two more passages from Holy Writ, and see
if they cast any light upon it.  ’The end of the law is Christ, unto
righteousness, to every believer.’  ’And ye are in Him complete.’"

"I do not understand them, holy Mother."

"I have heard thee speak, Helena, of thy favourite legend of the two
good knights of Greece.  What was it that Sir Pythias agreed to do for
Sir Damon?"

"To suffer death in his stead, if he did not return home at the
appointed time."

"Suppose that Sir Pythias had suffered death before Sir Damon’s return,
and that when Sir Damon came back, the Lord King had put him to death
also: what wouldst thou call that?"

"Oh, that would never have been just!" said I.

"But why?  Sir Damon had been sentenced to die."

"Yes, but when another had died for him—Oh, it would be cruelly unfair!"

"In other words, Sir Damon would be reckoned to have died, so far as the
law was concerned, in the person of his friend?"

"Exactly," said I.

"And this friend, remember, had voluntarily given his life.  Now, this
is the point to which I want to bring thee.  The death of Sir Pythias
would have been reckoned to Sir Damon; and this last would have been
accounted to have paid the full penalty to which he was sentenced, and
to be thenceforward a free and blameless man."

"Of course," said I.  "There could have been no other result."

"Now, Helena dear, this is what Christ has done for all believers.  His
death is reckoned to them, and they are thenceforward free and
blameless—perfect as He is perfect, ’complete in Him.’  Not in
themselves, mind: never!  In themselves they are sinners to the last
hour of life.  But in Him, on account of His atoning death and holy
obedience, God’s holy law reckons them perfect as Himself.  So that, in
one sense, they are perfect for ever: in another sense, they are utterly
imperfect so long as they live.  ’For by one offering He hath perfected
in perpetuity the hallowed ones.’"

"But, holy Mother," I asked, "what do you mean by ’in Him’?"

"My child," she answered, "I doubt if any but God knows all that is
meant by that deep word. And what man knows cannot be told to
another,—it can only be felt.  But it means light, and life, and joy,
Helena: the very light that God is, the life of all the ages, the joy
with which no stranger intermeddleth.  Only taste it, and see.  No
draught of sin can be truly sweet to thee again, after one drop of that
wine of Heaven."


I am quite delighted to find that Messire Tristan de Montluc, who has
exasperated me for nearly two years past by playing the broken-hearted
lover, has got his heart mended again.  I was beginning to entertain a
desperate wish that he would take the cowl, for it made me feel a
perfect wretch whenever I looked at him: and yet what could I have said
to Guy but what I did?  I feel indescribably relieved to hear that he is
going after his brother to Byzantium, and intensely delighted to find
that he is privately engaged to Melisende de Courtenay. I believe she
will make him a good wife (which I never could have done): and it is
such a comfort to know that he has given over caring about me.

It does seem not unlikely that we may have war. There are flying rumours
of Saladin’s drawing nearer.  May the good God avert it!  I believe
Amaury would tell me that I was a simpleton, if he heard me say so.

The holy Patriarch Heraclius, and the Lord Roger, Master of the Temple,
have set forth on a pilgrimage to the shrines of the West.  They intend
to visit Compostella and Canterbury, amongst others.

Count Raymond has been behaving rather better lately—that is, we have
not seen quite so much of him.

A letter from Alix came to hand last week; but there is nothing of
interest in it, except that every one is well.  She says her child
begins to walk, and can already prattle fluently: which called forth a
growl from Amaury, who wants to know why every body’s children thrive
but his.  It is not true, for little Héloïse is really an engaging
child, and has excellent health.

"Ah!—but then," says Guy, aside to me, with arched eyebrows, "she is
only a girl, poor little good-for-nothing!"

I know Guy does not think so, for he is devoted to his little Agnes; and
Héloïse is certainly the prettier child.  But neither of them is equal
to the little King, who is a most beautiful boy, and has the quaintest
sayings ever heard from a child.


There, now!  Did any body ever see any thing like these men?

Messire Tristan set forth yesterday morning; and what should he say to
Guy (who told me, with his eyes full of fun) but—

"Damoiselle Elaine will find out that it does not do to trifle with a
man’s heart.  She will doubtless be angry at my defection; but I have
borne long enough with her caprice, and have now transferred my
affections to one who can be truer!"

Was ever mortal creature so misrepresented? Why, the man must have
thought I did not mean what I said!  My caprice, indeed!  Trifle with a
man’s heart!  And as if affection could be transferred at will from one
person to another!

Guy seemed excessively amused with my exclamations.

"What a conceited set of people you men must be!" said I.

"Well, we are rather a bad set," answered Guy, laughing.  "O little
Elaine, thou art so funny!"

"Pray, what is there funny about me?" said I. "And please to tell me,
Guy, why men always seem to fancy that women do not know their own
minds?"

"Well, they don’t," said Guy.

"Only the silly ones, who have no minds to know," I replied.

"Just so," answered he.  "But those, thou seest, are the generality of
women.  Rubies are scarce; pebbles are common."

"Only among women?" said I.

"Possibly not," responded Guy, looking very much amused.  "Poor De
Montluc appears to be a ruby in his own eyes, and I presume he is only a
pebble in thine.  Let us hope that Damoiselle Melisende will consider
him a gem of priceless value."

Well, I am sure I have no objection to that.

But another idea occurs to me, which is by no means so pleasant.  Since
other people are always misunderstanding me, can it be possible that I
am constantly misunderstanding other people?  I do think I have
misunderstood Eschine, and I am sorry for it.  I like her a great deal
better now than I ever expected to do, and I almost admire that quiet
endurance of hers—partly because I feel Amaury so trying, and partly, I
suspect, because I have so little of the quality myself.  But is it—can
it be—possible that I am misunderstanding Count Raymond?

I do not think so.  Why should I think of a beautiful serpent whenever I
look at him?  Why should I feel a sensation, of which I cannot get rid,
as if that dark handsome face of his covered something repugnant and
perilous?  It is not reason that tells me this: it is something more
like instinct.  Is it a true warning to beware of the man, or only a
foolish, baseless fancy, of which I ought to be ashamed?

And—I cannot tell why—it has lately assumed a more definite and dreadful
form.  A terror besets me that he has some design on Lady Sybil.  He
knows that she is the rightful heir of the crown: and that—I do believe,
through his machinations—she has been set aside for her own son.  If his
wife were to die—the holy saints defend it!—I believe him capable of
poisoning Guy, in order to marry Sybil, and to make himself King of
Jerusalem.

Am I very wicked, that such ideas come into my head?  Yet I do not know
how to keep them out. I do not invite them, yet they come.  And in the
Count’s manner to Lady Sybil there is a sort of admiring, flattering
deference, which I do not like to see,—something quite different from
his manner towards her sister.  I do not think she is conscious of it,
and I fancy Guy sees nothing.

Oh dear, dear!  There is something very wrong in this world altogether.
And I cannot see how it is to be set right.

I asked Lady Judith this evening if she believed in presentiments.

She answered, "Yes, when they come from God."

"Ah!—but how is one to know?"

"Ask Him to remove the feeling, if it be not true."

I will try the plan.  But if it should not answer?


The heats of summer are so great, and the Holy City is considered so
very unhealthy, that the Regent proposes to remove the Lord King to the
city of Acre, until the hot weather is over.  Guy and Lady Sybil are
going to stay at Ascalon, a city which is Guy’s own, and close to the
coast, though not actually a sea-port like Acre.  I cannot help being
glad to hear that there will be something like a week’s journey between
Guy and Count Raymond.  I may be unjust, but—I do not know.  I have
offered seven Paters every evening, that the good God might take the
thought out of my heart if it be wicked: but it seems to me that it only
grows stronger.  I told Lady Judith that her plan did not answer; that
is, that the presentiment did not go.

"What is this thought which troubles thee, little one?" said she.

"Holy Mother," said I, "do you ever utterly mistrust and feel afraid of
some particular person, without precisely having a reason for doing so?"

Lady Judith laid down her work, and looked earnestly at me.

"I generally have a reason, Helena.  But I can quite imagine—Who is it,
my child?  Do not fear my repeating what thou mayest tell me."

"It is the Lord Regent," said I.  "I feel afraid of him, as I might of a
tamed tiger, lest the subdued nature should break out.  I do not believe
in his professions of friendship for Guy.  And I do not at all like his
manner to Lady Sybil."

Lady Judith’s eyes were fixed on me.

"I did not know, Helena, how sharp thine eyes were.  Thou wert a child
when thou camest here; but I see thou art one no longer.  So thou hast
seen that?  I thought I was the only one."

It struck me with a sensation as of sickening fear, to find that my
suspicions were shared, and by Lady Judith.

"What is to be done?" I said in a whisper. "Shall I speak to Guy?—or
Lady Sybil?"

Lady Judith’s uplifted hand said unmistakably, "No!"

"Watch," she said.  "Watch and pray, and wait. Oh, no speaking!—at
least, not yet."

"But till when?" I asked.

"I should say, till you all return here—unless something happen in the
interim.  But if thou dost speak, little one—do not be surprised if
nobody believe thee.  Very impulsive men, like thy brother, rarely
indulge suspicion or mistrust: and Sybil is most unsuspicious.  They are
likely enough to think thee fanciful and unjust."

"It would be too bad!" said I.

"It would be very probable," she responded.

"Holy Mother," said I, "what do you think he aims at doing?"

I wanted to know, yet scarcely dared to ask, if the same dread had
occurred to her as to me.

"I think," she said unhesitatingly, "he aims at making himself King, by
marriage, either with Sybil or with Isabel."

"But he would have to murder his own wife and the lady’s husband!" cried
I.

"No need, in the first case.  The Lady Countess suffers under some
internal and incurable disorder, which must be fatal sooner or later; it
is only a question of time.  Her physicians think she may live about two
years, but not longer.  And so long as she lives, thy brother’s life is
safe."

"But if she were to die—?"

"Then it might be well to warn him.  But we know not, Helena, what may
happen ere then.  The Lord reigneth, my child.  It is best to put what
we love into His hands, and leave it there."

"But how do I know what He would do with it?" said I, fearfully.

"He knows.  And that is enough for one who knows Him."

"It is not enough for me," said I sadly.

"Because thou dost not know Him.  Helena, art thou as much afraid of the
good God as of the Lord Regent?"

"Not in the same way, of course, holy Mother," I replied; "because I
think the Lord Regent a wicked man."

"No, but to the same extent?"

"I don’t know.  I think so," said I, in a low voice.

"Of Christ that died, and that intercedeth for us? Afraid of Him,
Helena?"

"O holy Mother, I don’t know!" I said, bursting into tears.  "I am
afraid it is so.  And I cannot help it.  I cannot tell how to alter it.
I want to be more like you and old Marguerite; but I don’t know how to
begin."

"Wilt thou not ask the Lord to show thee how to begin?"

"I have done: but He has not done it."

Lady Judith laid her hand on my bowed head, as if to bless me.

"Dear Helena," she said, "do not get the idea into thine head that thou
wilt have to persuade God to save thee.  He wishes it a great deal more
than thou.  But He sometimes keeps his penitents waiting in the dark
basilica outside, to teach them some lesson which they could not learn
if they were admitted at once into the lighted church.  Trust Him to let
thee in as soon as the right time comes. Only be sure not to get weary
of knocking, and go away."

"But what does He want to teach me, holy Mother?"

"I do not know, my child.  He knows.  He will see to it that thou art
taught the right lesson, if only thou wilt have the patience to wait and
learn."

"Does God teach every body patience?" said I, sighing.

"Indeed He does: and perhaps there is scarcely a lesson which we are
more slow to learn."

"I shall be slow enough to learn that lesson, I am sure!" said I.

Lady Judith smiled.

"Inattentive children are generally those that complain most of the
hardness of their tasks," said she.

We were both silent for a while, when Lady Judith said quietly—

"Helena, what is Christ our Lord to thee?"

"I am not sure that I understand you, holy Mother," said I.  "Christ our
Lord is God."

"Good; but what is He _to thee_?"

I felt puzzled.  I did not know that He was any thing more to me than to
every body else.

"Dost thou not understand?  Then tell me, what is Monseigneur the Count
of Ascalon to thee?"

"Guy?" asked I in a little surprise.  "He is my own dear brother—the
dearest being to me in all the world."

"Then that is something different from what he is to others?"

"Of course!" I said rather indignantly.  "Guy could never be to
strangers what he is to me! Why, holy Mother, with all deference, you
yourself know that.  He is not that to you."

"Thou hast spoken the very truth," said she. "But, Helena, that which he
is to thee, and not to me,—that dearest in all the world, ay, in all the
universe,—my child, Christ is that to me."

I looked at her, and I saw the soft, radiant light in the grey eyes: and
I could not understand it. Again that strange, mortified feeling took
possession of me.  Lady Judith knew something I did not; she had
something I had not; and it was something which made her happier than
any thing had yet made me.  There was a gulf between us; and I was on
the rocky, barren side of it, and she on the one waving with corn and
verdant with pasture.

It was not at all a pleasant feeling.  And I could see no bridge across
the gulf.

"You are a religious person, holy Mother," said I. "I suppose that makes
the difference."

Yet I did not believe that, though I said so.  Old Marguerite was no
nun; and she was on the flowery side of that great gulf, as well as Lady
Judith. And if Lady Sybil were there also, she was no nun. That was not
the difference.

"No, maiden," was Lady Judith’s quiet answer. "Nor dost thou think so."

I hung my head, and felt more mortified than ever.

"Dost thou want to know it, Helena?"

"Holy Mother, so much!" I said, bursting into tears.  "You and
Marguerite seem to me in a safe walled garden, guarded with men and
towers; and I am outside in the open champaign, where the wolves are and
the robbers, and I do not know how to get in to you.  I have been round
and round the walls, and I can see no gate."

"Dear child;" said Lady Judith, "Jesus Christ is the gate of the Garden
of God.  And He is not a God afar off, but close by.  Hast thou asked
Him, and doth it seem as though He would not hear? Before thou say so
much, make very sure that nothing is stopping the way on thy side.
There is nothing but love, and wisdom, and faithfulness, on His."

"What can stop the way?" I said.

"Some form of self-love," she replied.  "It has as many heads as the
hydra.  Pride, indolence, covetousness, passion—but above all, unbelief:
some sort of indulged sin.  Thou must empty thine heart, Helena, if
Christ is to come in: or else He will have to empty it for thee.  And I
advise thee not to wait for that, for the process is very painful. Yet I
sometimes fear it will have to be the case with thee."

"Well!" said I, "there is nobody in there but Guy and Lady Sybil, and a
few more a good deal nearer the gate.  Does our Lord want me to empty my
heart of them?"

I thought that, of course, being religious, she would say yes; and then
I should respond that I could not do it.  But she said—

"Dear, the one whom our Lord wants deposed from the throne of thy heart
is Hélène de Lusignan."

"What, myself?"

"Thyself," said Lady Judith, in the same quiet way.

I made an excuse to fetch some gold thread, for I did not like that one
bit.  And when I came back, things were even better than I hoped, for
Lady Isabel was in the room; and though Lady Judith will talk of
religious matters freely enough when Lady Sybil is present, yet she
never does so before her sister.

Lady Judith is entirely mistaken.  I am quite sure of that.  I don’t
love me better than any one else!  I should think myself perfectly
despicable. Amaury does, I believe; but I don’t.  No, indeed! She is
quite mistaken.  I scarcely think I shall be quite so glad as I expected
that Lady Judith is going to stay in the Holy City.  I do like her, but
I don’t like her to say things of that kind.

"Marguerite," I said, an hour or two later, "dost thou think I love
myself?"

"My Damoiselle does not think herself a fool," quietly answered the old
woman.

"No, of course not," said I; "I know I have brains.  How can I help it?
But dost thou think I love myself,—better than I love other people?"

"We all love either ourselves or the good God."

"But we can love both."

Marguerite shook her head.  "Ha!—no.  That would be serving two masters.
And the good God Himself says no one can do that."

I did not like this much better.  So, after I finished my beads, I
kissed the crucifix, and I said,—"Sir God, show me whether I love
myself."  Because,—though I do not like it,—yet, perhaps, if I do, it is
best to know it.


We reached Ascalon a week ago, making three short days’ journey of it,
so as not to over-fatigue the little ones.  Those of us who have come
are Guy and Lady Sybil, myself, Amaury and Eschine, and the little
girls, Agnes and Héloïse.  I brought Marguerite and Bertrade only to
wait on me.  Lady Isabel prefers to stay at Hebron, which is only one
day’s journey from the Holy City.  She and Messire Homfroy quarrelled
violently about it, for he wished to go to Acre, and wanted her to
accompany him; but in the end, as usual, she had her own way, and he
will go to Acre, and she to Hebron.

The night before we set forth, as I was passing Lady Judith’s door, her
low voice said—

"Helena, my child, wilt thou come in here?  I want a word with thee."

So I went into her cell, which is perfectly plain, having no hangings of
any sort, either to the walls or the bed, only a bénitier[#] of red
pottery, and a bare wooden cross, affixed to the wall. She invited me to
sit on her bed, and then she said—


[#] Holy water vessel.


"Helena, unless thou seest some very strong reason, do not speak to the
Count touching the Count of Tripoli until we meet again."

"Well, I thought I should not," said I.  "But, holy Mother, will you
tell me why?"

"We may be mistaken," she answered.  "And, if not, I am very doubtful
whether it would not do more harm than good.  After all, dear maiden,
the shortest cut is round by Heaven.  Whenever I feel doubtful how far
it is wise to speak, I like to lay the matter before the Lord, and ask
Him to speak for me, if He sees good.  He will make no mistake, as I
might: and He can tell secrets without doing harm, as probably I should.
It is the safest way, Helena, and the surest."

"I should be afraid!" said I.  "But of course, holy Mother, for you"——

"Yes," she said, answering my half-expressed thought.  "It is a hard
matter to ask a favour of a stranger, especially if he be a king.  But
where he is thy father——Dost thou understand me, maiden?"

Ay, only too well.  Well enough to make me feel sick at heart, as if the
gulf between grew wider than ever.  Should I never find the bridge
across?


We lead such a quiet, peaceful life here!  Some time ago, I should have
called it dull; but I am tired of pageants, and skirmishes, and
quarrels, and so it is rather a relief—for a little while. Lady Sybil, I
can see, enjoys it: she likes quiet. Amaury fumes and frets.  I believe
Eschine likes it, but won’t say so, because she knows Amaury does not.
I never saw the equal of Eschine for calm contentedness.  "All
right"—"never mind it"—"it does not signify"—are the style of her stock
phrases when any thing goes wrong.  And "Won’t it be all the same a
hundred years hence?"  That is a favourite reflection with her.

"Oh dear, Eschine!" I could not help saying one day, "I do hate that pet
phrase of thine.  A hundred years hence!  That will be the year of our
Lord 1285.  Why, thou and I will be nowhere then."

"Nay, I suppose we shall be somewhere," was Eschine’s grave answer.

"Oh, well, don’t moralise!" said I.  "But thou knowest, if we were
always to look at things in that style, nothing would ever signify any
thing.  It makes me feel as queer as Messire Renaud’s notions—as if all
the world, and I in it, had gone into a jelly, and nothing was any
thing."

Eschine laughed.  But Eschine’s laughter is always quiet.

"I think thou dost not quite understand me, Elaine," said she.  "I do
not use such phrases of things that do matter, but of those that do not.
I should not say such words respecting real troubles, however small.
But are there not a great many events in life, of which you can make
troubles or not, as you choose?  An ill-dressed dish,—a disappointment
about the colour of a tunic,—a misunderstanding about the pattern of a
trimming,—a cut in one’s finger,—and such as these,—is it not very
foolish to make one’s self miserable about them? What can be more silly
than to spend half an hour in fretting over an inconvenience which did
not last a quarter?"

"My dear Eschine, it sounds very grand!" said I. "Why dost thou not
teach Amaury to look at things in that charming way?  He frets over
mistakes and inconveniences far more than Guy and I do."

Eschine’s smile had more patience than amusement in it.

"For the same reason, Elaine, that I do not teach yonder crane to sing
like a nightingale."

I can guess that parable.  It would be mere waste of time and labour.


Guy did not forget my birthday yesterday; he gave me a beautiful coral
necklace, which one knows is good against poison.  (I will take care to
wear it whenever Count Raymond is present.)  Lady Sybil gave me a lovely
ring, set with an opal; and if I were at Acre, and had a bay-leaf to
wrap round it, I would go into the Count’s chamber invisible, and listen
to him.  Eschine’s gift was a silver pomander, with a chain to hang it
by.  Amaury (just like him!) forgot all about it till this morning, and
then gave me a very pretty gold filagree case, containing the holy
Evangel of Saint Luke, to hang round my neck for an amulet.

Am I really nineteen years of age?  I begin to feel so old!—and yet I am
the youngest of us.


I do think that nothing really nice ever lasts in this world.  The Baron
de Montluc arrived here last night from Byzantium with all sorts of bad
news. In the first place, Saladin, with his Paynim army, has re-entered
the Holy Land, and is marching, as men fear, upon Neapolis.  If he do
this, he will cut off Acre from the Holy City, and the young Lord King
cannot reach his capital.  The Baron sent a trusty messenger back to
Acre, to Count Raymond, urging him to hasten to the Holy City with the
King, and lose not an hour in doing it.  The coast road is still clear;
or he could come by sea to Jaffa. Messire de Montluc sent his own signet
as a token to Count Raymond—which ring the Count knows well.  Guy has
ordered us all to pack up, and return without loss of time to the Holy
City, where he will take the command till Count Raymond arrives.

"Now, Elaine!—how wouldst thou like a siege?" triumphantly asks Amaury.

May all the holy saints avert such a calamity!

But there is, if possible, even worse behind: inasmuch as a foe without
the gates is less formidable than a traitor within them.  The Patriarch
(I will not call him holy this time) and the Lord Roger had returned as
far as Byzantium a few days before Messire de Montluc left that city,
and it comes out now, what all their fine talk of pilgrimage meant. They
have been at the Court of England on purpose to offer the crown of
Jerusalem to King Henry the father, seeing (say they) the distracted
state of the kingdom, the peril of Paynim war, and the fact that King
Henry is the nearest heir of King Foulques of Anjou.  Well, upon my
word!  As if the crown of Jerusalem were theirs to offer!

It seems to me, too—but every body, even Guy, says that is only one of
my queer, unaccountable notions—that, since King Foulques of Anjou had
no right to the crown except as the husband of Queen Melisende, so long
as her heirs remain in existence, they should be preferred to his heirs
by another wife.  But Amaury laughs at me for saying this. He says, of
course, when Count Foulques married Queen Melisende, and became King,
all her right passed to him, and she was thenceforth simply his consort,
his children having as much right as hers. It does not seem just and
fair to me; but every one only laughs, and says I have such absurd
fancies.

"Why, what would be the good of marrying an heiress at all," says
Amaury, "if you had to give up her property when she died before you?"

Still I do not see that it is just.  And I wonder if, sometimes, the
queer ideas of one century do not become the common ideas of the next.
But Amaury seems to think that notion exquisitely ridiculous.

"Nonsense, Elaine!" says he.  "It was a simple matter of family
arrangement.  Don’t go and fancy thyself the wisest woman in the world!
Thou hast the silliest ideas I ever heard."

"Well, I don’t, Amaury," said I, "any more than I fancy thee the wisest
man."

Guy laughed, and told Amaury he had a Roland for his Oliver.



                             *CHAPTER XI.*

                    _*THE CALM BEFORE THE STORM*_*.*


    "It was but unity of place
    Which made me dream I ranked with him."
      —TENNYSON.


Here we are, safe in the Holy City, after a hurried and most
uncomfortable journey.  All the quiet is assuredly gone now.  For the
Holy City is full of tumult—cries, and marchings, and musters, and
clashing of arms—from morning till night.  Lady Judith, looking as calm
as ever, received us with a blessing, and a soft, glad light in her
eyes, which told that she was pleased to have us back.  The Patriarch
and the Master of the Temple have not yet arrived.  Guy thinks they may
tarry at Acre with Count Raymond, and come on in his train.


The Lord de Clifford has come from England, by way of Jaffa, with the
answer of King Henry the father.  It seems that the Patriarch actually
took with him the keys of the Holy City and the blessed Sepulchre.  I am
astonished that Count Raymond should have entrusted them to him.  More
than this, they travelled by way of Rome, and through their wicked
misrepresentations obtained letters from the Holy Father, urging King
Henry to take on himself this charge.  King Henry was holding Court at
Reading when they came to him, and the Patriarch says he was moved to
tears at their account of the miserable state of the Holy Land.  (Well,
I am not going to deny the misery; but I do say it is Count Raymond’s
fault, and that if matters had been left in Guy’s hands, they would
never have come to this pass.)  King Henry, however, would not give his
answer at once; but bade them wait till he had convoked his great
council, which sat at Clerkenwell on the eighteenth of March in last
year. The decision of the Parliament was that in the interests of
England the offer ought to be refused.

"Well!" said Guy, "as a mere question of political wisdom, that is
doubtless right; for, apart from the pleasure of God, it would be the
ruin of England to have the Holy Land clinging round her neck like a
mill-stone.  Yet remember, Lord Robert the Courthose never prospered
after he had refused this crown of the world.  He impiously blew out the
taper which had been lighted by miracle; and think what his end was!"

"But dost thou think, my Lord," asked Lady Sybil, looking up, "that he
meant it impiously?  I have always thought his words so beautiful—that
he was not worthy to wear a crown of gold in the place where our Lord
had worn for us the crown of thorns."

"Very beautiful, Lady," said Guy a little drily, "if he had not heard
just before the conference of the death of his brother, King William the
Red."

Well!—when King Henry gave his answer, what did the Patriarch, but ask
that one of his sons might be substituted,—and Guy thinks he specially
indicated the Count of Poitou.[#]  Guy says there are great
possibilities in our young Count; but Amaury sneers at the idea.
However, the King and the Parliament alike declined to accept in the
name of any of the Princes, seeing none of themselves were present: and
the Patriarch had to content himself with a promise of aid alone.  King
Henry took him in his train to Normandy, and after celebrating the holy
Easter at Rouen, they had an interview with the French King at
Vaudreuil.  Both the Kings promised help, swearing on the souls of each
other;[#] and many nobles, both French and English, took the holy cross.
It is hoped that the King of France and the Count of Poitou may lead an
army hither in a few months.


[#] Richard Cœur-de-Lion, whose reputation was yet to be made.

[#] The usual oath of monarchs in solemn form.


"If we can manage to conclude a truce meanwhile, and they do not come
here to find us all slaughtered or prisoners to the Paynim," says Guy.
"Great bodies move slowly; and kings and armies are of that
description."


Saladin has taken Neapolis!  Our scouts bring us word that he is
ravaging and burning all the land as he marches, and he has turned
towards the Holy City.  Almost any morning, we may be awoke from sleep
with his dreadful magic engine sounding in our ears.  Holy Mary and all
the saints, pray to the good God for His poor servants!

And not a word comes from the Regent.  Four several messengers Guy has
sent, by as many different routes, in the hope that at least one of them
may reach Acre, earnestly urging him to send instructions.  We do not
even know the condition of matters at Acre.  The King and the Regent may
themselves be prisoners.  Oh, what is to be done?

Guy says that whatever may become of him, the kingdom must not be lost:
and if ten days more pass without news of the Regent, he will parley
with Saladin, and if possible conclude a truce on his own
responsibility.  I feel so afraid for Guy!  I believe if Count Raymond
could find a handle, he would destroy him without mercy.  Guy himself
seems to perceive that the responsibility he is ready to assume involves
serious peril.

"Nevertheless, my Lady’s inheritance must not be lost," he says.

I asked Lady Judith this morning if she were not dreadfully frightened
of Saladin.  They say he eats Christian children, and sometimes maidens,
when the children run short.

"If I felt no alarm, I should scarcely be a woman, Helena," said she.
"But I took my fear to the Lord, as King David did.  ’What time I am
afraid,’ he says, ’I will trust in Thee.’  And I had my answer last
night."

"Oh!" said I.  "What was it, if it please you, holy Mother?"

She lifted her head with a light in the grey eyes.

"’I am, I am thy Comforter.  Know whom thou art, afraid of a dying man,
and of a son of men who wither like grass: and thou forgettest God thy
Maker, the Maker of the heaven and Foundation-Layer of the earth, and
fearest ever, every day, the face of the fury of thine oppressor....
And now, where is the fury of thine oppressor?’"

"Did the good God speak to you in vision, holy Mother?"

"No, Helena.  He spake to me as He does to thee—in His Word."

I thought it would have been a great deal more satisfactory if she had
been told in vision.

"But how do you know, holy Mother," I ventured to say, "that words
written in holy Scripture, ever so long ago, have something to do with
you now?"

"God’s Word is living, my child," she said; "it is not, like all other
books, a dead book.  His Word who is alive for evermore, endureth for
ever. Moreover, there is a special promise that the Holy Spirit shall
bring God’s words to the remembrance of His servants, as they need.  And
when they come from Him, they come living and with power."

"Then you think, holy Mother, that the Paynim will be driven back?"

"I do not say that, my child.  But I think that the God who turned back
Sennacherib is alive yet: and the Angel who smote the camp of the
Assyrians can do it again if his Lord command him.  And if not—no real
mischief, Helena,—no real harm—can happen to him or her who abideth
under the shadow of God."

"But we might be killed, holy Mother!"

"We might," she said, so quietly that I looked at her in amazement.

"Holy Mother!" I exclaimed.

"Thou dost not understand our Lord’s words, Helena!—’And they shall kill
some of you, ... and a hair from the head of you shall not be lost.’"

"Indeed I do not," said I bluntly.

"And I cannot make thee do so," she added gently.  "God must do it."

But why does He not do it?  Have I not asked Him, over and over again,
to make me understand? I suppose something is in the way, and something
which is my fault.  But how am I to get rid of it when I do not even
know what it is?


The ten days are over, and no word comes from the Regent.  Guy has
assumed, as Vice-Regent, the command of the Holy City.  Of course he is
the person to do it, as Lady Sybil’s husband.  Our scouts report that
Saladin is marching through the pass of Gerizim.  Guy has sent out a
trumpeter with a suitable armed escort, to sound a parley, and invite
the Paynim to meet with him and arrange for a truce at Lebonah.  Until
the trumpeter returns, we do not know whether this effort will succeed.

Lady Sybil, I can see, is excessively anxious, and very uneasy lest, if
Guy go to parley with Saladin, the wicked Paynim should use some
treachery towards him.

"It is God’s will!" she said; but I saw tears in her sweet eyes.  "The
battle, and the toil, and the triumph for the men: the waiting, and
weeping, and praying for the women.  Perhaps, in their way, the humble
bedeswomen do God’s will as much as the warrior knights."


The trumpeter returned last night, with a message from Saladin almost
worthy of a Christian knight. It seems very strange that Paynims should
be capable of courtesy.[#]


[#] A most expressive word in the Middle Ages, not restricted, as now,
civility, but including honourable sentiments and generous conduct.


Saladin is willing to conclude a truce, and will meet Guy at Lebonah to
do so; but it is to be for six months only, and Guy says the terms are
somewhat hard.  However, it is the best thing he can do: and as the
Regent maintains his obstinate silence, something must be done.  So far
as our envoys could learn, the Paynim army has not been near Acre, and
only crossed the Jordan some thirty miles lower down.  It appears clear,
therefore, that the Regent might have answered if he would.


Guy and Amaury set out yesterday morning for Lebonah to meet Saladin.
It is two or three days’ journey from the Holy City, and allowing three
days more for conference, it must be ten days at least ere they can
return.

I wander about the house, and can settle to nothing.  Lady Sybil sits at
work, but I believe she weeps more than she works.  Eschine’s embroidery
grows quietly.  I have discovered that she carries her heart out of
sight.

We were talking this morning—I hardly know how the subject came up—about
selfishness.  Lady Isabel said, with a toss of her head, that she was
sure no reasonable being could call her selfish. (Now I could not agree
with her, for I have always thought her very much so.)  Lady Judith
quietly asked her in what she thought selfishness consisted.

"In being stingy and miserly, of course," said she.

"Well, but stingy of what?" responded Lady Judith.  "I think people make
a great mistake when they restrict selfishness merely to being miserly
with money.  I should say that the man is unselfish who will give
willingly that which he counts precious.  But that means very different
things to different people."

"I wonder what it means to us five," said I.

Lady Judith looked round with a smile.  "I almost think I could tell
you," said she.

"Oh, do!" we all said but Lady Isabel.

"Well, to me," answered Lady Judith, "it means, submitting,—because some
one wishes it who has a right to my submission, or else as a matter of
Christian love—to do any thing in a way which I think inferior, absurd,
or not calculated to effect the end proposed.  In other words, my ruling
sin is self-satisfaction."

We all exclaimed against this conclusion: but she maintained that it was
so.

"Then," she continued, "to Sybil, it means depriving herself of her
lord’s society, either for his advantage or for that of some one else."

Lady Sybil smiled and blushed.  "Then my ruling sin——?" she said
interrogatively.

"Nay, I did not undertake to draw that inference in any case but my
own," said Lady Judith with an answering smile.

We all—except Lady Isabel—begged that she would do it for us.  She
seemed, I thought, to assent rather reluctantly.

"You will not like it," said she.  "And if you drew the inference for
yourselves, you would be more likely to attend to the lesson conveyed."

"Oh, but we might do it wrong," I said.

Lady Judith laughed.  "Am I, then, so infallible that I cannot do it
wrong?" said she.  "Well, Sybil, my dear, if thou wouldst know, I think
thy tendency—I do not say thy passion, but thy tendency—is to idolatry."

"Oh!" cried Lady Sybil, looking quite distressed.

"But now, misunderstand me not," pursued Lady Judith.  "Love is not
necessarily idolatry.  When we love the creature _more_ than the
Creator—when, for instance, thou shalt care more to please thy lord than
to please the Lord—then only is it idolatry. Therefore, I use the word
tendency; I trust it is not more with thee.—Well, then, with Isabel"——

Lady Isabel gave a toss of her head,—a gesture to which she is very much
addicted.

"With Isabel," continued Lady Judith, "unselfishness would take the form
of resigning her own ease or pleasure to suit the convenience of
another, Her temptation, therefore, is to indolence and self-pleasing.
With Helena"——

I pricked up my ears.  What was I going to hear?

"With Helena," said she, smiling on me, "it would be, I think, to fulfil
some duty, though those whom she loved might misunderstand her and think
her silly for it."

"Then what is my besetting sin, holy Mother?"

"Pride of intellect, I think," she answered; "very nearly the same as my
own."

"Holy Mother, you have left out Dame Eschine!" said Lady Isabel rather
sharply.

"Have I?" said Lady Judith.  "Well, my children, you must ask the Lord
wherein Eschine’s selfishness lies, for I cannot tell.  I dare not deny
its existence; I believe all sinners have it in some form.  Only, in
this case, _I_ cannot detect it."

Eschine looked up with an expression of utter amazement.

"Holy Mother!" she exclaimed.  "It seemed to me, as you went on, that I
had every one of those you mentioned."

Lady Judith’s smile was very expressive.

"Dear child," she said, "these are not my words,—’Blessed are the poor
in spirit; for theirs is the kingdom of the heavens.’"

Does she think Eschine the best of us all?  Is she?  Dear me!  I never
should have thought it.

"Well!" said Lady Isabel, with a sort of snort, and another toss, "I am
quite sure that I have not one of those faults you mentioned."

"Ah, my child!" responded Lady Judith.  "Take heed of the Pharisee
spirit—Eschine, what wouldst thou say was thy besetting sin?"

"I really cannot tell, I have so many!" answered Eschine modestly.  "But
I sometimes think that it may be—perhaps—a want of meekness and
patience."

I stared at her in astonishment.

"Well, thank the saints, I am in no want of patience!" said Lady Isabel.
"And if any one knew all I have to try it"——

I turned and looked at her, if possible, in astonishment still greater.

Really, how very, very little, people do know themselves!  If there be a
patient creature in this world, it is Eschine: and if there be an
impatient one, it is Lady Isabel.

I wonder whether I know myself?  I do not think I should have set myself
down as proud of my intellect.  But we Lusignans always have had
brains—except Amaury; he has stepped out of the ranks. And I don’t like
people to disagree with me, and contradict me, nor to behave as if they
thought I had no sense.  That is true enough.  I suppose I must be
proud.

And yet, it cannot be wrong to know that one has brains.  What is pride?
Where does the knowledge end, and the sin begin?  Oh dear! how is one
ever to know?

If two and two would only make four in every thing!  Or is it that one
makes mistakes one’s self in the adding-up?


Lady Judith asked me this morning if I was vexed with her yesterday, for
what she said of me.

"Oh no!" I answered at once.  "But I did not know that I was proud of my
intellect.  I think I knew that I was proud of my rank."

"Thou art right there, my child," she said.  "Yet I fear the pride of
intellect is more likely to harm thee, just because thou art less
conscious of it."

"Holy Mother," said I, "do you think my sister Eschine the best of us?"

"We human creatures, Helena, are poor judges of each other.  But if thou
wouldst know—so far as I am able to judge—I think the two holiest
persons in all this Palace are Eschine and thine old Margarita."

"Better than Lady Sybil!" I cried.

"I do not undervalue Sybil.  She is good and true; and I believe she
does earnestly desire to serve God.  But it seems to me that the most
Christ-like spirit I know is not Sybil, but Eschine."

I must think about it, and study Eschine.  I certainly made a sad
mistake when I thought there was nothing in her.  But the holiest person
in the house! That seems very strange to me.  I believe, now, that what
I took for absence of feeling is a mixture of great humility and
profound self-control.  But the queerest thing is, that I think she
really loves Amaury.  And how any creature can love Amaury is a puzzle
to me.  For no being with an atom of brains can look up to him: and how
can you love one whom you cannot respect?  Besides which, he evidently
despises Eschine—I believe he does all women—and he scolds and snubs her
from morning to night for everything she does or does not do. Such
treatment as that would wear my love in holes—If it were possible for me
ever to feel any for such an animal as Amaury.  If I were Eschine, I
should be anxious to get as far away from him as I could, and should be
delighted when he relieved me of his company.  Yet I do think Eschine
really misses him, and will be honestly glad when he comes back, It is
very unaccountable.

Our anxieties are all turned to rejoicing at once. Guy and Amaury
returned last night, having concluded a six months’ truce with Saladin:
and Eschine had the pleasure—I am sure she felt it a very great one—when
Amaury entered her chamber, of placing in his arms the boy for whom he
had so fervently longed, who was born three days before they came back.
Little Hugues—Amaury says that must be his name—seems as fine a child as
Héloïse, and as likely to live.  Amaury was about as pleased as it is in
his nature to be; but he always seems to have his eyes fixed on the
wormwood of life rather than the honey.

"Thou hast shown some sense at last!" he said; and Eschine received this
very doubtful commendation as if it had been the most delightful
compliment. Then Amaury turned round, and snapped at me, because I could
not help laughing at his absurdity.

I asked Marguerite this evening what she thought was her chief fault.

"Ha!—the good God knows," she said.  "It is very difficult to tell which
of one’s faults is the worst."

"But what dost thou think?" said I.

"Well," she answered, "I think that my chief fault is—with all
deference—the same as that of my Damoiselle: and that is pride.  Only
that we are proud of different things."

"And of what art thou proud, Margot?" asked I laughingly, but rather
struck to find that she had hit on the same failing (in me) as Lady
Judith.

"Ha!  My Damoiselle may well ask.  And I cannot tell her.  What is or
has an old villein woman, ignorant and foolish, to provoke pride? I only
know it is there.  It does not fasten on one thing more than another,
but there it is.  And pride is a very subtle sin, if it please my
Damoiselle.  If I had nothing in the world to be proud of but that I was
the ugliest woman in it, I believe I could be proud of that."

I laughed.  "Well, and wherein lies my pride, Margot?" said I, wishful
to see whether she altogether agreed with Lady Judith.

"Can I see into the inmost heart of my Damoiselle? It is like a shut-up
coffer, this human heart. I can only look on the outside, I.  But on the
outside, I see two things.  My Damoiselle is noble, and she is clever.
And she knows both."

"Which is the worse, Margot?"

"Ha!  Both are bad enough, to make pride.  But this I think: that even a
king can never fancy himself so noble as the good God; yet a good many
of us think ourselves quite as wise."

"O Margot!—who could think that?"

"Does my Damoiselle herself never think that she could arrange matters
better than the good God is ordering them?  What is that, but to say in
our hearts, ’I am the wiser’?"

It is very queer, how Lady Judith and Marguerite always do think alike.

"Margot, who wouldst thou say was the holiest woman in this house?"

The answer was unhesitating.

"I do not know; I can only guess.  But if my Damoiselle wishes me to
guess—the noble Lady Judith, and Dame Eschine."

How very odd!

"When I asked thee once before, Margot, thou didst not mention Eschine
at all."

"Let my Damoiselle pardon me.  I did not know enough of her then.  And
she is not one to know in a minute.  Some are like an open book, quickly
read: and others are like a book in a strange tongue, of which one knows
but little, and they have to be spelt out; and some, again, are like a
locked book, which you cannot read at all without the key.  Dame
Eschine, if my Damoiselle pleases, is the book in the strange tongue;
but the book is very good, and quite worth the trouble to learn it."

"Where didst thou find such a comparison, Margot?  Thou canst not read."

"I?  Ha!—no.  But I can see others do it."

"And what kind of book am I, Margot?"

"Ha!—my Damoiselle is wide, wide open."

"And the Lady Sybil?" asked I, feeling much amused.

"Usually, open; but she can turn the key if she will."

I was rather surprised.  "And Count Guy?"

"Quite as wide open as my Damoiselle."

"Then where dost thou find thy locked book, Margot?"

I was still more astonished at the answer.

"If my Damoiselle pleases,—the Lady Isabel."

"O Margot!  I think she is quite easy to read."

"I am mistaken," said Marguerite with quiet persistence, "if my
Damoiselle has yet read one page of that volume."

"Now I should have called the Regent a locked book," said I.

"Hardly, if my Damoiselle pleases.  There is a loose leaf which peeps
out."

"Well, that romance is not a pleasant one," said I.

"Pleasant?  Ha!—no.  But it is long, and one cannot see the end of the
story before one comes to it."


At last, a letter has come from the Regent.

It is quite different to what I expected.  He approves of all that Guy
has done, and more,—he actually thanks him for acting so promptly.  (Are
we misjudging the man?)  The King is in good health, and the Regent
thinks he will very shortly do well to return to the Holy City, as soon
as the autumn rains are well over.  The Lady Countess, he says, is
suffering greatly, and he fears the damp weather increases her malady.
He speaks quite feelingly about it, as though he really loved her.


Early this morning was born dear Lady Sybil’s second baby—still, like
Agnes, a little frail thing; and still a daughter.  But Guy seems just
as pleased with his child as if it were a healthy boy.  He is so
different from Amaury!

Both Guy and Lady Sybil wish the infant to bear my name.  So this
evening the Patriarch is to christen her Helena,—thus placing her under
the safe protection of the blessed Saint Helena, mother of the Lord
Constantine the Emperor, and also of the holy Queen of Adiabene, who
bestowed such toil and money on the holy shrines.

As if to show that joys, as well as misfortunes, do not come single,
this afternoon arrived a courier with letters from Lusignan,—one from
Monseigneur to Guy, another from Raoul for Amaury, and one from Alix for
me.  All are well, thank the saints!—and Alix has now three children, of
whom two are boys.  Raoul is about to make a grand match, with one of
the richest heiresses in Normandy,—the Lady Alix, Countess of Eu.
Little Valence, Guillot’s elder child, has been betrothed to the young
Seigneur de Parthenay.  I am rather surprised that Guillot did not look
higher, especially after Guy’s marriage and Raoul’s.

Guy asked me to-day when I meant to be married.

"Oh, please, Guy, don’t talk about it!" said I. "I would so much rather
not."

"Dost thou mean to be a nun, then?" asked he. I think he hardly expected
it.

"Well," said I, "if I must, I must.  But I want to know why I could not
go on living quietly without either?"

"Ah, one of the original notions of the Damoiselle de Lusignan," said
he.  "Because, my eccentric Elaine, nobody ever does."

"But why does nobody?" said I.  "And why should not I begin it?  Every
thing must begin some time, and with somebody."

But Guy seemed so much amused that I did not pursue the topic.

"Please thyself," said he, when he had finished laughing.  "But why dost
thou prefer single life?"

"For various reasons," said I.  "For one, I like to have my own way."

"Well, now, women are queer folks!" said Guy. "Oh my most rational
sister, wilt thou not have to obey thine abbess?  And how much better
will that be than obeying thine husband?"

"It will be better in two respects," I answered. "In the first place, an
abbess is a woman, and would therefore be more reasonable than a man;
and in"——

"Oh dear!  I did not understand that!" said Guy.  "I am rather ignorant
and stupid."

"Thou art," said I.  "And in the second, I should try, as soon as
possible, to be an abbess myself."

"My best wishes attend thy speedy promotion, most holy Mother!" said
Guy, bowing low, but laughing.  "I perceive I was very stupid.  But thou
seest, I really did not know that women were such extremely reasonable
beings.  I fancied that, just now and then, they were slightly
unreasonable."

"Now, Guy, give over!" said I.  "But can I not wait a while?  Must I
decide at once?"

"Of course not, if that be thy wish," said Guy. "But thou art past the
usual age for profession."

"Then I shall be all the more likely to receive promotion quickly," I
replied.

"Fairest of nuns, here is my sword!" said Guy, kneeling and offering me
the hilt.  "I surrender myself, a vanquished prisoner, to thy superior
wisdom."

So the matter passed off in a good laugh.

Now that the truce is concluded, all is peaceful and happy.  It is so
nice, after the tumult, and suspense, and anxiety, to have nothing to
think of but what robe one shall wear to this feast, and how one shall
arrange one’s jewels for that dance.  I wish it would last for ever!—if
only one did not get tired even of pleasant things, when they have gone
on for a while.  If one could get hold of some pleasure of which one
never got tired!

I want to introduce our national dance of Poitou, the minuet.  I have
taught it to Lady Isabel, and two or three of the damsels in waiting:
and Perette and Bertrade will help.  Lady Isabel admires it very much;
she says it is a grand, stately dance, and fit for a princess.

It seems very odd to me, that the ladies of this country look upon it as
beneath them to superintend the cooking, and leave it all to their
servants.  How strange it would be if we did that in Poitou!  They order
what is to be done, but they never put their own hands to the work.  I
know what Alix would look like, if I told her.

The first banquet was to have been on Monday, but it is an unlucky day,
as the moon will be in opposition to Mars; so it had to be deferred.  We
heard yesterday that the Countess of Edessa actually gave a banquet last
week on a vigil, and what should she do but invite just enough to make
thirteen!  I suppose she never thought about either. She is the most
thoughtless woman I ever saw. Messire de Montluc was one of the guests,
and when he perceived the calamity, he feigned to bleed at the nose, and
asked leave to retire.  I suppose he did not wish to run the risk of
dying within a year and a day.  How can people be so careless?  Why, it
is almost as bad as murder.



                             *CHAPTER XII.*

                       _*WILL SHE GIVE HIM UP?*_


    _Elmina_.—We can bear all things!
    _Gonsalez_.—Can ye bear disgrace?
    _Ximena_.—We were not born for this.
      —FELICIA HEMANS.


I suppose it is only about thirty hours, yet it looks as if it might be
as many weeks, since I sat in the bower with Lady Judith, broidering a
mantle of cramoisie for Lady Sybil.  We were talking of different
things, carrying on no special train of conversation.  Lady Sybil had
been with us; but, a few minutes before, Guy had called her into the
hall, to assist in receiving a messenger just arrived with letters from
the Regent.  Something which Lady Judith said amused me, and I was
making a playful reply, when all at once there broke on us, from the
hall, such a bitter, wailing cry, as instantly told us that something
terrible must have happened.  The mantle was dropped upon the rushes,
and Lady Judith and I were both in the hall in an instant.

The messenger, a young knight, stood at the further side of the daïs,
where were Guy and Lady Sybil.  She had apparently fainted, or was very
near it, and he was holding her in his arms, and endeavouring to whisper
comfort.

"Oh, what is the matter?" broke from me, as my eyes sought first Guy and
then the messenger.

Guy did not answer.  I am not sure that he heard me.  It was the young
knight who replied.

"Damoiselle, if it please your Nobility, our young Lord Beaudouin the
King has been commanded to the Lord."

I never wished I was not noble until that minute. Had I been a villein,
he would have told me without considering the pleasure of my Nobility,
and I should have been out of suspense one second sooner.

Lady Judith’s one thought seemed to be for the poor mother, who was
utterly overcome by the sudden news of her first-born’s death.  She
actually opened the casement with her own hands, though there were
plenty of damsels and squires in the hall, whom she might have called to
do it.  One she sent for water, and sprinkled a few drops on Lady
Sybil’s face, entreating her to drink some wine which a squire brought
in haste.  She appeared to swallow with difficulty, but it seemed to
revive her, and her voice came back.

"Oh, my boy, my boy!" she cried piteously. "And I was not there!  It was
not in my arms he died.  My first-born, my darling!  I was not there."

Ay, that seemed the climax of her misery—she was not there!  I was very,
very sorry, both for her and for the child.  But another thought soon
darted into my brain, and it was too hard for me to solve.  Who was the
King of Jerusalem now? When I thought it meet, I whispered the question
to Guy.  He made me no answer in words, but his quick downward glance at
the golden head still bowed upon his arm told me what he thought. And
all at once the full significance of that death flashed upon me.  Lady
Sybil was the Queen of the World, and might have to do battle for her
glorious heritage.

There was no doubt concerning the right.  Only two remained of the House
of Anjou: and there could be no question as to whether the elder or
younger sister should succeed.  Lady Sybil’s right had been originally
set aside: and now it had come back to her.

In an instant I saw, as by a flash of lightning, that the idea had
occurred to others; for the squire had offered the wine upon the knee.

But the Regent!  Would he acquiesce meekly in a change which would drive
him back to his original insignificance, and restore Guy to his place of
supreme honour?  Lady Sybil is no child, but a woman of full age.  There
might (in a man’s eyes) be an excuse in putting her aside for her son,
but there could be none for her sister or her daughter.

It was not for some hours that I saw the Regent’s letter; not till Lady
Sybil’s bitter wailing had died down to peace, and we were able to turn
our eyes from the past to the future.  Then Guy showed it me.  I was
astonished at the quiet matter-of-fact way in which Count Raymond
recognised Lady Sybil’s right, and deferred to Guy as the person to
decide upon every thing.  I asked Lady Judith, this morning, what she
thought it meant.  Was this man better than we had supposed?  Had we
been unjust to him?

"I cannot tell yet, Helena," she said; "but I think we shall know now
very soon.  It either bodes great good to Sybil,—or else most serious
mischief."

"He says no word about his Lady Countess," I suggested.

"No," said Lady Judith.  "I should have liked it better if he had done."

"Then what can we do?" I asked.

"Wait and pray," responded she.

"Wait!"  Oh dear me!—it is always waiting.  I detest it.  Why can’t
things happen in a lump and get done with themselves?

Count Raymond—for I must give over calling him the Regent,—(and dear me!
I must learn to call Lady Sybil the Queen as soon as she is
crowned,—however shall I do it?)—Count Raymond says, in the end of his
letter, that he will reach the Holy City, if it please the saints, about
ten days hence, with the coffin of the young Lord King, that he may be
laid with his fathers in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  So, I
suppose, for these ten days we shall know nothing.  I would scratch them
out of the calendar, if I had pumice-stone of the right quality.

And yet—it comes over me, though I do hate to think it!—suppose these
ten days should be the last days of peace which we are to know!

"Holy Mother, how _can_ you wait to know things?" I asked Lady Judith.

"How canst thou?" said she with a little laugh.

"Why, I must!" said I.  "But as to doing it patiently!"——

"It is easier to wait patiently than impatiently, my child."

"O holy Mother!" cried I.

"It is," she gently persisted.  "But that patience, Helena, is only to
be had from God."

"But can you help longing to know?" said I.

"Rebelliously and feverishly thirsting to know, I can.  But it is only
in God’s strength that I can do it.  Certainly I cannot help feeling
that I shall be relieved when His time is come.  I should be more or
less than woman, if I could."

"But how," said I, "do you keep yourself patient?"

"_He_ keeps me patient, Helena.  I cannot keep myself.  He knows: He is
at the helm: He will guide me to the haven where I would be.  Ah, my
child, thou hast yet to learn what that meaneth,—’When He giveth
quietness, who shall then condemn?’"

Indeed I have.  And I do not know how to begin.


We have been very busy, after all, during the terrible interval, and it
hardly seems ten days since the news came.  All the mourning robes were
to be made of sackcloth—bah! how rough and coarse it is!—one need be a
villein to stand it!—and the hoods of cloth of Cyprus.  I never remember
being in mourning before Amaury’s poor little baby was born and died in
one day, and I did hope then that I should never need it again.  It is
so abominable to wear such stuff—and how it smells!—and to have to lay
aside one’s gloves, just like a bourgeoise! Count Raymond is expected
to-night.


I did not properly guess what a dreadful scene it would be, when the
coffin was borne into the hall by four knights, and laid down on the
daïs, and the lid opened, and the embalmed body of the fair child
brought to view, clad in the cowl of the holy brethren of Saint
Benedict, which was put on him just before he died.  The holy
Patriarch—I suppose he is holy, being a patriarch—held the holy censer,
which he swung to and fro by the head of the coffin; and a royal
chaplain at his side bore the bénitier, from which each of us, coming
forward, took the asperge, and sprinkled the still face with holy water.

It was Lady Sybil’s turn last, of course.  But she, the poor mother,
broke down utterly, and dropped the asperge, and if Guy had not sprung
forward and caught her, I think she would have fainted and fallen on the
coffin of her child. Oh, it was terrible!

Later in the evening, there was a family council, at which Count Raymond
suggested—and Guy said it was an excellent idea—that Lady Sybil should
convene a council of all the nobles, when her title should be solemnly
recognised, and no room be left for any dissension about it in future.
The council, therefore, will meet on Midsummer Day next, and at the same
time it will be decided what to do after the truce with Saladin has
expired.

I tapped at Lady Judith’s door as I went up to bed.

"Well, holy Mother," said I, when I was inside, and the door shut, "what
think you now of the Count of Tripoli?"

"What thinkest thou, Helena?" answered she.

"Truly, I hardly know what to think," I said. "He speaks fair."

"Ay," she said; "he speaks fair."

I thought I detected the slightest possible emphasis on the verb.

"I think you mean something, holy Mother," said I bluntly.

"Helena, when the Lord Count was proposing the convention of the
council, and all that was to follow, and Count Guy assented, and said he
thought it a good idea,—didst thou happen to look at Count Raymond’s
face?"

"No, holy Mother, I did not."

"I did.  And at the instant when Count Guy assented to his proposal, I
caught one triumphant flash in his eyes.  From that hour I was certain
he meant mischief."

My heart fell,—fell.

"What sort of mischief?" I asked fearfully.

"The Lord knoweth," quietly said she; "and the Lord reigneth, Helena.
’Wonderful are the ragings of the sea: wonderful in the heights is the
Lord.’"

And that seems to comfort her.  I wish it would comfort me.


The Council is holding its sitting: and so serious are its deliberations
considered, that only one woman beside Lady Sybil herself is permitted
to attend it.  Of course it was not meet she should be without any lady
or damsel.  But she chose Lady Judith, with a pretty little apology to
me, lest I should fancy myself slighted.

"Lady Judith is old and very wise," she said.  "I should like her to
hear the deliberations of the nobles, that I may have, if need be, the
benefit of her counsel afterwards."

I suppose it is the swearing of allegiance that takes such a long time.
They have been four hours already.


Sir God, have mercy upon me!  I never dreamed of the anguish that was in
store for me.  I do not know how to bear it.  O fair Father, Jesu
Christ, by the memory of Thine own cross and passion, help me, if it be
only to live through it!

I wondered why, when the Council broke up, Lady Sybil shut herself up
and refused to admit any one, and Guy was nowhere to be found.  I felt a
vague sort of uneasiness, but no more, till a soft hand was laid upon my
shoulder, and I looked up in Lady Judith’s face.

And then, in an instant, the vague uneasiness changed to acute terror.

Her look was one of such deep, overwhelming compassion, that I knew at
once she had that to tell me which she justly feared might break my
heart.

"What—?" I gasped.

"Come here with me," she said; and she took me into her own cell, and
barred the door.  "Helena, dear child, there is something to tell thee
which thou wilt find very bitter, and thy brother and Sybil think best
that I should tell it."

"Go on, if you please, holy Mother.  Any thing but suspense!"

"The Council of nobles," she said, "are agreed to admit Sybil’s right,
and to pay their homage to her as Queen, if she on her part will accept
one condition dictated by them.  But if she refuse the condition, they
refuse the allegiance; and will raise against her the banner of Isabel,
who was called into the Council, and declared herself ready to accept
it."

"And—the condition?"

"That she shall divorce Count Guy, and wed with one of themselves."

It seemed to me as though my head went round, but my heart stood still.
And then a cry broke from me, which was a mixture of fear, and
indignation, and disdain, and cruel, cruel anguish.

Sybil to divorce Guy!  Our sweet-eyed, silver-voiced Sybil, whom we so
loved, to divorce my Guy, my king of men!  To be willing to do it!—to
purchase her fair, proud inheritance at the price of the heart which
loved her, and which she loved! My heart and brain alike cried out,
Impossible!

Was I dreaming?  This thing could not be,—should not be!  Holy Saints,
let me wake and know it!

"It is not possible!" I shrieked.  "She will not—she cannot!  Did she
not say so?"

"Her first words," said Lady Judith, "were utterly and indignantly to
refuse compliance."

"Well!—and then?"

"Then several of the nobles pressed it upon her, endeavouring to show
her the advantages to be derived from the divorce."

"Advantages!" I cried.

"To the country, dear," said Lady Judith gently. "But for four hours she
held out.  No word was to be wrung from her but ’I could not dream of
such a thing!’  ’Then, Lady,’ said the Lord Count of Edessa, ’you can no
longer be our Queen.’"

"And did that sway her?" I cried indignantly.

"Nothing seemed to sway her, till Count Guy rose himself, and, though
with faltering lips, earnestly entreated her assent.  Then she gave way
so far as to promise to consider the question."

That was like Guy.  If he thought it for her good, I am sure he would
urge it upon her, though it broke his own heart.  But for her to give
way _then_——!

"Holy Mother, tell me she will not do it!" I cried.

"She has locked herself up, to think and pray," said Lady Judith.  "But
it is well to know the worst at once,—I think she will, Helena."

"Holy Mother, you must have gone mad!"

I did not mean to be rude.  I was only in too great agony to see any
thing but itself.  And Lady Judith seemed to understand.

"Who proposed it?" I demanded.

Ah!  I knew what the answer would be.  "Count Raymond of Tripoli."

"Well, he cannot be the one she weds!" said I, grinding my teeth.

"He can, Helena.  The Countess has been dead these four months.  He says
he wrote to tell us, and his letter must have miscarried."

"And is Satan to have it all his own way?" I cried.

"No, assuredly, dear child.  Christ is stronger than he."

"Holy Mother, can you see one speck of light in this thick and horrible
darkness?"

"I never see but one light in any darkness," she said.  "’God is light,
and darkness in Him there is none at all.’  Dear Helena, wilt thou not
put thine hand in His, and let Him lead thee to the light?"

"Could the good God not have prevented all this?" I wailed.

"Perhaps not, for thy sake," she said softly.

"Oh, she will not, she will not!" I moaned. "Holy Mother, tell me she
never will!"

"I cannot, dear.  On the contrary, I think she will."

"I never could have believed it of Lady Sybil!"

Lady Judith made no reply; but I thought the expression of pain deepened
in her face.

"Dear Helena," was her gentle answer, "sometimes we misunderstand our
friends.  And very often we misunderstand our Father."

She tried to comfort me: but I was past comfort. I was past food,
sleep,—every thing.  I went to bed,—it was a miserable relief to get
away from the daylight; but I could not sleep, and no tears would come.
Only one exceeding bitter cry,—

"Help me, Jesu Christ!"

Would He help me?  What had I ever been to Him, or done for Him, that He
should?  He had shed His life-blood on the holy rood for me; and I had
barely ever so much as thanked Him for it.  I had never cared about Him.
Where was the good of asking Him?

Yet I must cry to Him, for who else was there? Of course there were Mary
Mother and the holy saints: but—Oh, I hope it was not wicked!—it seemed
as if in my agony I pushed them all aside, and went straight up to Him
to whom all prayer must come at last.

"Help me, Jesu Christ!"

Where was Guy?—feeling, in his darkened chamber, as if his heart were
breaking?

Where was Sybil?—awake, perhaps, with a lighted lamp, wrestling between
the one love of her heart and the pride of life.

And where was God?  Did He hear me?  Would He hear?  And the cry came
again, wrung from my very life as if I must have help.

"Help me, Jesu Christ!  I have no help.  I can do nothing.  I can even
think of nothing.  I can bear no more.  Help me, not because I deserve
help, but because I want Thee!"

And the darkness went on, and the quiet beats of the water-clock, and
the low, musical cry of the watchmen outside; and the clang of arms as
they changed guard: but no holy angel came down from Heaven to tell me
that my prayer was heard, and that it should be to me even as I would.

Was there no help?—was there no hope?—was there no God in Heaven?

Oh, it cannot, cannot be that she will decide against him!  Yet Lady
Judith thinks she will.  I cannot imagine why.  Our own sweet Sybil, to
whom he has seemed like the very life of her life!  No, it can never be
true!  She will never, never give him up.



                            *CHAPTER XIII.*

                   _*WAITING FOR THE INEVITABLE*_*.*


    "Oh, hard to watch the shore-lights,
      And yet no signal make!
    Hardest, to him the back on Love,
      For Love’s own blessed sake!
    For me the darkness riseth,
      But not for me the light;
    I breast the waters’ heaving foam
      For love of Love, to-night."


She has given him up,—my Guy, my hero, my king of men!

No, I could never have believed it!  One short month ago, if all the
prophets and wise women and holy monks in Palestine had come in a body
and told me this thing, I should have laughed them to scorn,—I should
have thought the dead would rise first.

Ah! this is not our Sybil who has played this part.  The Sybil whom I
loved, next to Guy himself, has vanished into nothingness, and in her
stead has come a creature that wears her face, and speaks with her
voice,—cold, calculating, false!

It was again Lady Judith who told me.  I thought I was prepared for
this.  But I found that I was not. By the crushing pain which struck me,
I knew that I had not really believed it would be thus,—that I had
clung, like a drowning man, to the rope which failed me in this
extremity—that I had honestly thought that the God to whom I had cried
all night long would have come and saved me.

That Sybil should fail was bitterness enough. But what was I to do when
Christ failed me?  Either He could not hear at all, or He would not hear
me. And I did not see that it was of much consequence which it was,
since, so far as I was concerned, both came to the same thing.

The comfort Lady Judith tried to offer me sounded like cruel mockery.
Even the soft pressure of her hand upon my head rasped my heart like a
file.

"Poor, dear child!" she said.  "It is so hard to walk in the dark.  If
the Lord have marked thee for His own—as by the strivings of His Spirit
with thee, I trust He has—how sorry He must be for thee, just now!"

Sorry!  Then why did He do it?  When I am sorry for one I love, I do not
give him bitter pain. I felt as if I should sink and die, if I did not
get relief by pouring out my heart.  I broke from Lady Judith,—she tried
in vain to stop me—and I dashed into Lady Sybil’s chamber.  Queen or
villein, it was all one to me then.  I was far past any considerations
of that sort.  If she had ordered me to be instantly beheaded, I should
not have thought it signified a straw.

I found her seated on the settle in the window. Oh, how white and worn
and weary she looked! Dark rings were round her eyes, worn by pain and
weeping and watching through that dreadful night. But I heeded not the
signs of her woe.  She deserved them.  Guy’s wrong burned in my heart,
and consumed every thing but itself.

She rose hastily when she saw me, and a faint flush came to her white
cheek.

"Ah,—Helena!"

She spoke in a hesitating tone, as if she scarcely knew what to say.
She might well tremble before Guy’s sister!

What a strange thing it is, that when our hearts are specially wrung
with distress, our eyes seem opened to notice all sorts of insignificant
minutiæ which we should never see at another time, or should never
remember if we did see them.  I perceived that one of the buttons of
Lady Sybil’s robe had caught her chatelaine, and that a bow of ribbon on
her super-tunic was coming loose.

"May it please your Grace," I said—and I heard a hard metallic ring in
my own voice,—"have I heard the truth just now from Lady Judith?"

"What hast thou heard, Helena?"

I did not spare her for the crushing clasp of her hands, for the slight
quiver of the under lip.  Let her suffer!  Had she not wronged my Guy?

"I have heard that your Grace means to give way before the vulgar
clamour of your inferiors, and to repudiate your wedded lord at their
dictation."

No, I would not spare her so much as one adjective.  She pressed her
lips close, and a sort of shudder went over her from head to foot.  But
she said, in a calm, even voice, like a child repeating some formal
lesson—

"Thou hast heard the truth."

If she would have warmed into anger, and have resented my words, I think
I might have kept more within bounds.  But she was as cold as ice, and
it infuriated me.

"And you call yourself a Christian and a Catholic?" cried I, raising my
voice.

"The Lord knoweth!" was her cool answer.

"The Lord look upon it, and avenge us!" I cried. "Do you know how I
loved you?  Next to my love for Guy himself,—better than I loved any
other, save you two, in earth or Heaven!  You!—was it you I loved?  My
sister Sybil loved Guy, and would have died rather than sacrifice him to
a mob of parvenu nobles.  She is gone, and you are come in her stead,
the saints know how!  You are not the Sybil whom I loved, but a
stranger,—a cold, calculating, politic, false-hearted woman. Heartless,
ungenerous, faithless, false!  I sweep you out of my heart this day, as
if you had never entered it.  You are false to Guy, and false to God.  I
will never, never, never forgive you!  From this hour you are no more to
me than the meanest Paynim idolatress whom I would think scorn to
touch!"

I do not know whence my words came, but they poured out of me like the
rain in a tempest.  I noted, without one spark of relenting, the shudder
which shook her again from head to foot when I named Guy,—the trembling
of lips and eyes,—the pitiful, appealing look.  No, I would not spare
one atom of misery to the woman who had broken my Guy’s heart.

Perhaps I was half mad.  I do not know.

When I stopped, at last, she only said—

"It must look so to thee.  But trust me, Helena."

"Trust you, Lady Sybil!—how to trust you?" I cried.  "Have I not trusted
you these four years, before I knew you for what you are?  And you say,
’Trust me!’—Hear her, holy Saints!  Ay, when I have done trusting the
scorpions of this land and the wolves of my own,—trust me, I will trust
you!"

She rose, and came to me, holding out both hands, with a look of piteous
appeal in those fair grey eyes that I used to love so much.

"I know," she said,—"I know.  Thou must think so.  Yet,—trust me,
Helena!"

I broke from her, and fled.  I felt as if I could not bear to touch
her,—to look at her another moment.  To my own chamber I ran, and
casting myself on the bed, I buried my face in the pillow, and lay there
motionless.  I did not weep; my eyes were dry and hard as stones.  I did
not pray; there was no good in it.  Without God, without hope, without
any thing but crushing agony and a sense of cruel wrong,—I think in that
hour I was as near Hell as I could be, and live.

It was thus that Marguerite found me.

I heard her enter the room.  I heard the half-exclamation, instantly
checked, which came to her lips.  I heard her move quietly about the
chamber, arranging various little things, and at last come and stand
beside my bed.

"Damoiselle!"

I turned just enough to let her see my face.

"Is Satan tempting my Damoiselle very hard just now?"

What made her ask that question?

"No, Margot," I said, sitting up, and pushing the hair off my forehead.
"God is very, very cruel to me."

"Ah, let my Damoiselle hush there!" cried the old woman, in a tone of
positive pain.  "No, no, never!  She does not mean to cut her old nurse
to the heart, who loves her so dearly.  But she will do it, if she says
such things of the gracious Lord."

"Now, Margot, listen to me.  I thought something was going to happen
which would wring my heart to its very core.  All night long I lay
awake, praying and crying to God to stay it.  And He has not heard me.
He has let it happen—knowing what it would be to me.  And dost thou not
call that cruel?"

"Ah, I guessed right.  Satan is tempting my Damoiselle, very, very hard.
I thought so from her face.—Damoiselle, the good Lord cannot be cruel:
it is not in His nature.  No, no!"

"Dost thou know what has happened, Margot?"

"I?  Ha!—no."

"The Lady Sybil, incited by her nobles, has consented to divorce Count
Guy, and wed with another."

I saw astonishment, grief, indignation, chase one another over old
Marguerite’s face, followed by a look of extreme perplexity.  For a few
moments she stood thus, and did not speak.  Then she put her hands
together, like a child at prayer, and lifted her eyes upward.

"Sir God," she said, "I cannot understand it.  I do not at all see why
this is.  Good Lord, it puzzles poor old Marguerite very much.  But Thou
knowest.  Thou knowest all things.  And Thou canst not be hard, nor
cruel, whatever things may look like.  Thou art love.  Have patience
with us, Sir God, when we are puzzled, and when it looks to us as if
things were going all wrong.  And teach the child, for she does not
know.  My poor lamb is quite lost in the wilderness, and the great wolf
is very near her.  Gentle Jesu Christ, leave the ninety and nine safe
locked in the good fold, and come and look for this little lamb.  If
Thou dost not come, the great wolf will get her.  And she is Thy little
lamb.  It is very cold in the wilderness, and very dark.  Oh, do make
haste!"

"Thou seemest to think that God Almighty is sure to hear thee, Margot,"
said I wearily.

Yet I could not help feeling touched by that simple prayer for me.

"Hear me?" she said.  "Ah no, my Damoiselle, I cannot expect God
Almighty to hear me.  But He will hear the blessed Christ.  He always
hears Him.  And He will ask for me what I really need, which is far
better than hearing me.  Because, my Damoiselle sees, I make so many
blunders; but He makes none."

"What blunders didst thou make just now, Margot?"

"Ha!  Do I know, I?  When He translated it into the holy language of
Heaven, the blessed Christ would put them all right.  Maybe, where I
said, ’Be quick,’  He would say, ’Be slow.’"

"I am sure that would be a blunder!" said I bitterly.

"Ha!  Does it not seem so, to my Damoiselle and her servant?  But the
good God knows.  If my Damoiselle would only trust Him!"

"’Trust’!" cried I, thinking of Sybil.  "Ah, Margot, I have had enough
of trusting.  I feel as if I could never trust man again—nor woman."

"Only one Man," said Marguerite softly.  "And He died for us."

After saying that, she went away and left me. I lay still, her last
words making a kind of refrain in my head, mingling with the one thought
that seemed to fill every corner.

"He died for us!"  Surely, then, He cannot hate us.  He is not trying to
give us as much suffering as we can bear?

I rose at last, and went to seek Guy.  But I had to search the house
almost through for him.  I found him at length, in the base court,
gazing through one of the narrow windows through which the archers
shoot.  The moment I saw his face, I perceived that though we might be
one in sorrow we were emphatically two in our respective ways of bearing
it.  The quiet, patient grief in that faraway look which I saw in his
eyes, was dictated by a very different spirit from that which actuated
me.  And he found it, too.

Not a word would he hear against Sybil.  He nearly maddened me by calmly
assuming that her sufferings were beyond ours, and entreating me not to
let any words of mine add to her burden.  It was so like Guy—always
himself last!  And when I said passionately that God was cruel,
cruel!—he hushed me with the only flash of the old impetuosity that I
saw in him.

"No, Elaine, no!  Let me never hear that again."

I was silent, but the raging of the sea went on within.

"I think," said Guy quietly, "that it is either in a great sorrow or a
serious illness that a man really sees himself as he is, if it please
God to give him leave.  I have thought, until to-day, in a vague way,
that I loved God.  I begin to wonder this morning whether I ever did at
all."

His words struck cold on me.  Guy no true Christian!—my brave, generous,
noble, unselfish Guy! Then what was I likely to be?

"Guy," I said,—"_will_ she?"  I could bear the torture no longer.  And I
knew he would need no more.

"I think so, Elaine," was his quiet answer.  "I hope so."

"’_Hope_ so’!"

"It is her only chance for the kingdom.  The nobles are quite right,
dear.  I am a foreigner; I am an adventurer; I am not a scion of any
royal house.  It would very much consolidate her position to get rid of
me."

"And canst thou speak so calmly?  I want to curse them all round, if I
cannot consume them!"

"I am past that, Elaine," said Guy in a low voice, not quite so firmly
as before.  "Once, I did——  May the good Lord pardon me!  His thunders
are not for mortal hands.  And I am thankful that it is so."

"I suppose nobody is wicked, except me," I said bitterly.  "Every body
else seems to be so terribly resigned, and so shockingly good, and so
every thing else that he ought to be: and—I will go, if thou hast no
objection, Guy.  I shall be saying something naughty, if I don’t."

Guy put his arm round me, and kissed my forehead.

"My poor little Lynette!" he said.  "We can go home to Poitou, dear, and
be once more all in all to each other, as we used to be long ago.
Monseigneur will be glad to see us."

But I could not stand that.  Partly Guy’s dreadful calm, and partly that
allusion to the long ago when we were so much to each other, broke me
down, and laying my head down upon Guy’s arm, I burst into a passionate
flood of tears.

Oh, what good they did me!  I could scarcely have believed how much
quieted and lightened I should feel for them.  Though there was no real
change, yet the most distressing part of the weight seemed gone.  I
actually caught myself fancying what Monseigneur would say to us when we
came home.

Guy said he would go with me to my chamber. I was glad that we met no
one below.  But as we entered the corridor at the head of the stairs,
little Agnes came running to us, holding up for admiration a string of
small blue beads.

"See, Baba!—See, Tan’!—Good!"

These are her names for Guy and me.  Every thing satisfactory is "good"
with Agnes—it is her expressive word, which includes beautiful, amiable,
precious, and all other varieties.  I felt as if my heart were too sore
to notice her, and I saw a spasm of pain cross Guy’s face.  But he
lifted the child in his arms, kissed her, and admired her treasure to
her baby heart’s content.  If I were but half as selfless as he!

"And who gave thee this, little one?"

"Amma.  Good!"

It was the child’s name for her mother.  Ah, little Agnes, I cannot
agree with thee!  "Amma" and "good" must no longer go into one sentence.
How could she play, to-day, with Guy’s children?

Yet I suppose children must be fed, and cared for, and trained, and
amused,—even though their elders’ hearts are breaking.

Oh, if I might lie down somewhere, and sleep, and awake eighteen years
ago, when I was a little sorrowless child like Agnes!


The coronation is fixed for Holy Cross Day. And Lady Sybil has
undertaken, as soon as she is crowned, to select her future husband.
One condition she has insisted on herself.  Every noble, on the
coronation day, is to take a solemn oath that he will be satisfied with
and abide by her decision, and will serve the King of her choice for
ever.  This seems to me a very wise and politic move, as it will prevent
any future disputes.  Every body appears to have no doubt on whom her
choice will fall.  All expect the Count of Tripoli.

Guy has requested permission to retire to Ascalon; and she has accorded
it, but with the express stipulation that he is to be in his place, with
the rest of her peers, at the coronation.  It does seem to me a piece of
needless cruelty.  Surely she might have spared him this!

I also have asked permission to retire from Court. Of course I go with
Guy.  Whoever forsakes him, the little sister shall be true.

For about the first time in my life, I am thoroughly pleased with
Amaury.  He is nearly as angry as I am—which is saying a great deal.
And he is the only person in whose presence I dare relieve my feelings
by saying what I think of Sybil, for Guy will not hear a word.

Eschine has the most extraordinary idea.  She thinks that Sybil’s heart
is true, and that only her head is wrong.  It is all nonsense!  Heart
and head go together.


The worst item of the agony is over—the divorce.

The ceremony was short enough.  A speech—from Count Raymond—stating to
the public the necessities of the case; a declaration from both parties
that they acted of their own free will; a solemn sentence from the holy
Patriarch:—and all was over, and Guy and Sybil were both free to wed
again.

I did think Sybil would have fainted before she could get through the
few words she had to speak. But Guy was as calm and quiet as if he were
making some knightly speech.  I cannot understand him. It seems so
unnatural for Guy.

I expressed some surprise afterwards.

"O Lynette! how could I make it harder for her!"

That was his answer.  It was all for her.  He seems to think himself not
worth considering.


We leave for Ascalon very early to-morrow; and as this was my last
night, I went to Lady Judith’s cell to say farewell to her.  On my way I
met Count Raymond, returning from an audience of Lady Sybil, with
triumph flashing in his eyes as he met mine.  He evidently agrees with
the multitude that he has a good chance of the crown.  My heart swelled
against him, but I managed to return his bow with courtesy, and passing
on, tapped at Lady Judith’s door.

"Helena, dear child!—Come in," she said.

"I am come to bid you good-bye, holy Mother."

Lady Judith silently motioned me to a seat on her bed, and sat down
beside me.

"Is it quite as dark, my child?"

"Yes, quite!" I said, sighing.

"Poor child!  I would give much to be able to comfort thee.  But, please
God, thou wilt be comforted one day."

"The day seems a long way off, holy Mother."

"It seemed a long way off, dear, to the holy Jacob, the very day before
the waggons arrived to carry him down to his son Joseph.  Yet it was
very near, Helena."

I listened with respect, of course: but I could not see what that had to
do with me.  The waggons were not coming for me—that one thing was
certain.

"Wilt thou be here for the coronation, my child?"

"I shall be where Guy is," I said shortly.  "But—O holy Mother, she
might have spared him that!"

Lady Judith’s look was very pitiful.  Yet she said—

"Perhaps not, my child."

Why, of course she might, if she would.  What was to hinder her?  But I
did not say so, for it would have been discourteous.

Even between me and my dear old Lady Judith there seemed a miserable
constraint.  Was it any marvel?  I rose to go.  Almost noiselessly the
door opened, and before I could exclaim or escape, Sybil stood before
me.

"And wert thou going without any farewell—me,—little sister, Helena?"

I stood up, frozen into stone.

"I ask your Grace’s pardon.  We are not sisters _now_."

She turned aside, and covered her face with her hands.

"O Lynette! thou makest it so hard, so hard!"

"So hard?" said I coldly.  "I hope I do.  If your heart had not been
harder than the nether millstone, Lady Sybil, you would never, never
have required our presence at your coronation.  God give you what you
deserve!"

"That is a terrible prayer, in general," she said, turning and meeting
my eyes.  "And yet, Lynette, in this one thing, I dare to echo it.  Ay,
God render unto me what I deserve!"

How could she?  Oh, how could she?

Lady Judith kissed me, and I went away.  I believe Sybil would have
kissed me too, but I would not have it from her.

It was easy, after that, to say farewell to the rest.

"I wish I were going too!" growled Amaury.

Then why does he not?  He might if he chose. Just like Amaury!

"Farewell, dear," said Eschine.  "I shall miss thee, Elaine."

—And nobody else.  Yes, I know that.

So we go forth.  Driven out of our Paradise, like Adam and Eva.  But the
flaming sword is held by no angel of God.

I always thought it such a dreadful thing, that our first parents should
be driven out of Paradise.  Why could not God have let them stay?  It
was not as if He had wanted it for the angels.  If He had meant to use
it for any thing, it would be on the earth now.

I cannot understand!  Oh, why, why, _why_ are all these terrible things?

"I cannot understand either," says old Marguerite. "But I can trust the
good God, and I can wait till He tells me.  I am happier than my
Damoiselle,—always wanting to know."

Well, I see that I marvel if there is any maiden upon earth much more
miserable than I am.  Last night, only, I caught myself wishing—honestly
wishing—that I could change with Marguerite, old and poor as she is.  It
must be such a comfort to think of God as she does.  It seems to answer
for every thing.


The sultry quiet here is something almost unendurable to me.  There is
nothing in the world to see or hear but the water-carriers crying "The
gift of God!" and strings of camels passing through the gateway, and
women washing or grinding corn in the courts.  And there is nothing to
do but wait and bear, and prepare, after a rather sluggish fashion, for
our return home when the coronation is over.  Here, again, old
Marguerite is better off than I am, for she has constantly things which
she must do.

I do not think it likely that Amaury will come with us.  Things never
take hold of him long.  If he be furiously exasperated on Monday, he is
calmly disgusted on Tuesday, supremely content on Wednesday, and by
Thursday has forgotten that he was ever otherwise.  And he seems
disposed to make his home here.

To me, it looks as though my life divided itself naturally into two
portions, and the four years I have passed here were the larger half of
it.  I seem to have been a woman only since I came here.

Three months to wait!—and all the time we are waiting for a dreadful
ordeal, which we know must come.  Why does Lady Sybil give us this
suffering? And far more, why, why does the good God give it to us?

If I could only understand, I could bear it better.

"Ha!" says Marguerite, with a rather pitying smile.  "If my Damoiselle
could but know every thing, she would be content not to know more!"

Well!  I suppose I am unreasonable.  Yet it will be such a relief when
the worst is over.  But how can I wish the worst to come?



                             *CHAPTER XIV.*

                         _*SYBIL’S CHOICE*_*.*


    "’Gifts!’ cried the friend.  He took: and, holding it
    High towards the heavens, as though to meet his star,
    Exclaimed,—’This, too, I owe to thee, Giafàr!’"
      LEIGH HUNT.


It came at last—neither sooner for my dreading it, nor later for my
wishing it—Holy Cross Day, the coronation morning.

Guy and I reached the Holy City the night before, and took up our
quarters with the holy Patriarch and his Lady Irene.  We were just
opposite the Palace.  We could see lights flashing through the
loop-holes, and now and then a shadow pass behind them.  It was hard to
know that that house held all that we loved, and we were the only ones
that dared not enter it.

The Patriarch was most disagreeably loquacious. He told us every thing.
He might have been cooking the banquet and broidering the robes, for all
the minute details he seemed to know.  The Queen, he told us, was to be
arrayed in golden baudekyn, and the Lady Isabel in rose and silver. Both
the Princesses would be present, attired in gold and blue.  Poor little
Agnes and Helena! How little they would understand of their mother’s
actions!

As little, perhaps, as any of us could understand of God’s dealings in
this matter!

The officers of state were to surround the throne, which was to be
placed on the highest step of the choir; the nobles of the Council were
to stand, in order according to the date of their creation, round the
nave below.

Lady Irene was as silent as her lord was talkative. But at night, when
she brought me up to the chamber she had prepared for me, she told me
the one thing I did care to know.  A place had been specially reserved
for me, in the nave, immediately behind Guy; and the Lady Irene’s own
place was next to me.

"I am obliged to the Master of the Ceremonies," said I: for that was
just where I wished to be.

"Nay," quietly said Lady Irene, as she took up her lamp; "the Damoiselle
is obliged to the Lady Sybil."

Had Sybil thought of my fancy?  What a strange compound she
was!—attending to one’s insignificant likings, yet crushing one’s very
heart to dust!

I did not sleep till very late, and I was aroused in the early morning
by a flourish of trumpets, announcing that the grand day had dawned.  I
dressed myself, putting off my mourning for a suit of leaf-green
baudekyn, for I knew that Guy would not be pleased if I wore any thing
sombre, though it would have suited my feelings well enough.  A golden
under-tunic and kerchief, with my best coronet, were the remainder of my
attire.  I found Guy himself flashing in golden armour,[#] and wearing
his beautiful embroidered surcoat, which Sybil herself wrought for him,
with the arms of Lusignan.


[#] This phrase was used of steel armour ornamented with gold.


How could she bear to see that existing token of her own dead love?  The
surcoat had worn better than the heart.

We took our appointed places—Lady Irene, Guy, and I,—and watched the
nobles arrive,—now an odd one, now half-a-dozen together.  The Patriarch
of course left us, as he was to officiate.

He told us last night that eighty out of every hundred felt no doubt at
all that the Count of Tripoli would be the future King.  (That Patriarch
is the queerest mortal.  It never seemed to enter his head that such
information would not be highly entertaining to Guy and me.)

Now was the time to discern our enemies from our friends.  Those who did
notice us risked Court favour.  But Messire de Montluc came all the way
from the choir to salute us; and I felt a throb of gratitude to him in
my heart.  The Count of Edessa was not able to see us, and Count
Raymond—O serpent, demon that he is!—looked straight at us, as if he had
never met us before.

It was an additional pang, that the order of precedence placed Count
Raymond the very next to Guy.  I sincerely wished him at the other end
of the nave, though it would have placed him close to the throne.

And now the important persons began to arrive. Lady Judith, in the quiet
brown habit of her Order, stopped and scanned the groups all round, till
her eyes reached us, and then she gave us a full smile, so rich in love
and peace, that my heart throbbed with sympathy, and yet ached with
envy.

Then came a lovely vision of rich rose and gleaming silver, which did
_not_ look for us, and I felt that was Lady Isabel.  And then two sweet
little fairy forms in blue and gold, and I saw Guy crush his under-lip
as his eyes fell upon his children.

Last came the Queen that was to be—a glorious ray of gold, four pages
bearing her train, and her long fair hair, no less golden than her
robes, streaming down them to her feet.  She took her seat by Lady
Isabel, on the velvet settle near the throne.

Then the Patriarch came forward into the midst of the church, to a
faldstool set there: and announced in loud tones, that all the nobles of
the Council of Sybil, shortly to be crowned Queen of Jerusalem, should
come forward in rotation to the faldstool, and swear between his
hands[#] to bear true and faithful allegiance, as to his King, to that
one of them all whom it should please her to choose for her lord.


[#] Homage was always performed in this manner, the joined hands of the
inferior, or oath-taker, being held between the hands of the superior
lord, or person who administered the oath.


One by one, they came forward: but I saw only two.  Count Raymond knelt
down with an air of triumphant command, as though he felt himself King
already: Guy with an aspect of the most perfect quietness, as if he were
thinking how he could spare Sybil.

When all the nobles were sworn, the Patriarch went back to the choir,
and Sybil, rising, came and stood just before the throne.  The
coronation ceremony followed, but I was not sufficiently at ease to
enter into it.  There were prayers in sonorous Greek, and incense, and
the holy mass, and I cannot properly tell what else.  The last item was
the actual setting of the crown—the crown of all the world—on the head
of Sybil of Anjou.

And then came a gentle rush of intense expectation, as Sybil lifted the
crown royal from her head, and prepared to descend the steps of the
throne.

Her choice was to be made now.

Down the damask carpeting of the nave she came, very, very slowly:
carrying the crown in both hands, the holy Patriarch following and
swinging the holy censer behind her.  Her eyes were cast down.  It was
evident that she knew perfectly well where he stood who was to wear that
crown.

Slowly, slowly, all along the nave.  Past one eligible noble after
another, face after face gathering blankness as she went.  At last she
turned, ever so little, to the right.

I could bear no more.  I covered my face with my mantle.  Let who would
gaze on me—let who would sneer!  She was coming—no doubt any longer
now—straight towards Count Raymond of Tripoli.

And never—with the faint flush in her cheeks, and the sweet, downcast
eyes—had I seen her look so beautiful.  And all at once, athwart my
anger, my indignation, my sense of bitter wrong, came one fervent gush
of that old, deep love, which had been mine for Sybil: and I felt as
though I could have laid down my life that hour to save, not Guy, but
her, from the dreadful consequences of her own folly,—from that man who
had crushed Guy’s heart as he might have crushed a moth.

Then came a dead hush, in which a butterfly’s wing might almost have
been heard to beat.  Then, a low murmur, half assent, half dissent.
Then, suddenly bursting forth, a cheer that went pealing to the roof,
and died away in reverberations along the triforium.  The choice was
made.

And then—I had not dared to look up—I heard Sybil’s voice.  She was
close, close beside me.

"Sir Guy de Lusignan," she said, "I choose thee as my lord, and as Lord
of the land of Jerusalem; for—" and a slight quiver came into the
triumphant, ringing voice—"whom God hath joined together, let not man
put asunder!"

Then I looked up, and saw on my Guy’s head the crown of the world, and
in Sybil’s dear eyes the tender, passionate love-light which she had
locked out of them for months for love’s own sake, and I knew her at
last for the queen of women that she is.

And then——I heard somebody speak my name, and felt Lady Irene’s arms
close round me, and darkness came upon me, and I knew no more.


When I came to myself, I was lying in my own old chamber in the Palace,
and beside me were old Marguerite fanning me with a handkerchief, and
Lady Judith bending over me.

"Helena, darling,—all is well!" she said.

"Is all well?" I said, sadly, when I could speak. "It is well with Guy,
and therefore all else matters little.  But I wonder if I shall ever be
forgiven?"

"By whom?" asked Lady Judith.

"God and Sybil," I answered in a low voice.

"Ask them both," she said softly.  "Sybil is coming to thee, as soon as
ever the banquet is over. And there is no need to wait to ask God."

"Did you guess, holy Mother, how it would end?"

"No, Helena," she answered with a smile.  "I knew."

"All along?"

"Yes, from the first."

I lay still and thought.

"Dost thou marvel why I did not tell thee, dear, and perhaps think it
cruel?  Ask Sybil why she made me her sole confidante.  I think thou
wilt be satisfied when thou hast heard her reason.  But though I did not
guess Sybil’s purpose,—" and she turned with a smile to
Marguerite,—"here, I fancy, is one who did."

"Ay, very soon," said Margot quietly: "but not quite at first, Lady."

"Thou wicked old Marguerite!" cried I.  "And never to tell me!"

"Suppose I had been mistaken," she replied. "Would my Damoiselle have
thanked me for telling her then?"

I felt quite sufficiently restored to go down to the bower, though not
able to bear the banquet. So Lady Judith and I went down.  She told me
all that had taken place after I fainted: how Messire de Montluc and
Lady Irene had taken care of me; that the Patriarch had immediately
bestowed the nuptial benediction upon Sybil and Guy, and had then
anointed the King—(the King!)—that the Knights Templars had escorted the
King and Queen to the banquet; and that after the banquet, homage was to
be done by all the nobles.  Guy and Sybil, therefore, were likely to be
detained late.

Suddenly something climbed up on the settle, and I felt myself seized
round the neck, and tumultuously caressed.

"Tantine!  Tantine!—Come—good!  Baba and Tantine—_both_ come.  Good!—Oh,
good!"

Of course I knew who that was, and alternated between returning the warm
kisses, and entreating Agnes not to murder me by suffocation.

Then came a much calmer kiss on my brow, and I looked up at Eschine.

And then strolled in Messire Amaury, with his hands in the pockets of
his haut-de chausses, talking to Messire de Montluc.

"But the strangest thing, you know"—that sagacious youth was
observing—"the strangest thing—O Elaine, is that thee!—the strangest
thing is that a mere simple, ignorant woman could have formed and
carried out such a project.  Surely some man must have given her the
idea!  I can hardly—Oh, _pure foy_!"

The last exclamation was due to a smart and sudden application of my
right hand to the left ear of my respected brother.  Messire de Montluc
was convulsed with laughter.

"Well done, Damoiselle Elaine!  You regard the honour of your sex."

"The next time thou speakest contemptuously of women," said I, "look
first whether any overhear thee."

"Trust me, I will make sure of my sister Elaine," said Amaury, still
rubbing his ear.  "On my word, Lynette, thou art a spitfire!"

One after another kept coming, and all expressing pleasure in seeing me.
I could not help wondering whether all of them would have been quite so
pleased to see Elaine de Lusignan, if she had not been the King’s
sister.  Lady Judith and Eschine would, I believed.  Nor do I think it
would have made the least difference to Agnes.  Considerations of that
kind do not begin to affect us till we are over three years old.

But time wore on, and Sybil was not released from her regal duties; and
the strain which both body and mind had had to sustain told upon me, and
I began to feel very tired.  Lady Judith noticed it.

"Dear Helena," she said, "do put that white face to bed.  Sybil will
come to thee."

"I have no right to ask it of her," I said huskily.

"Dost thou think she will wait till thou hast?"

I was beginning to remonstrate that it would not be respectful, when
Lady Judith put her arm round me, and said laughingly—"Sir Amaury, help
me to carry this wilful child to bed."

"Fair Mother, I dare not for all the gold in Palestine," said my
slanderous brother.  "My ear has not done stinging yet."

"Am I wilful?" said I.  "Well, then I will do as I am told.—As to thee,
Amaury, thou hast just thy desert."

"Then I am a very ill-deserving man," responded he.

Lady Judith and Eschine both came with me to my chamber, and the latter
helped me to undress. I had but just doffed my super-tunic, however,
when a slight sound made me turn round towards the door, and I saw
Sybil,—Sybil, still in her coronation robes, coming towards me with both
hands held out, as she had done that last sad time we met.  I threw
myself on the ground before her, and tried to kiss the hem of her golden
robe.  But she would not let me.

"No, no, my darling, no!"

And she stooped and drew me into her arms, and kissed me as if we had
never disagreed,—as if I had never uttered one of those bitter words
which it now made my cheeks burn even to remember.

I could only sob out,—"Forgive me!"

"Dear little sister, forgive thee for loving Guy?"

"No, no!" I said, "but for not loving—for misunderstanding, and
slandering, and tormenting thee!"

"Nay, dearest Helena!" she said, at once tenderly and playfully,—"Thou
didst not slander me. It was that other Sybil with whom thou wert so
angry,—the Sybil who was not true to her lord, and was about to forsake
him.  And I am sure she deserved every word.  But that was not I,
Helena."

"But how my words must have tortured thee!"

"Not in one light, dear.  It was a rich ray of hope and comfort, to
know, through all my pain, how true the dear little sister was to
Guy,—what a comfort she was likely to be to him,—that whoever forsook
him, his Lynette would never do it. Now finish thine undressing.  There
is one other thing I want to say to thee, but let me see thee lying at
rest first."

She sat down on the settle, just as she was, while Bertrade finished
undressing me.  Then they all said "Good night," and left me alone with
Sybil.

"Helena, darling!" she said, as she sat beside me, my hand clasped in
hers,—"this one thing I wish thee to know.  I could not spare thee this
pain.  If the faintest idea of my project had ever occurred to Count
Raymond,—though it had been but the shadow of a shade,—it would have
been fatal.  Had he guessed it, I could never have carried it out.[#]
And he has eyes like a lynx, and ears like a hare.  And, little
sister,—thy face talks! Thou couldst not, try as thou wouldst, have kept
that knowledge out of thine eyes.  And the Count would have read it
there, with as little trouble as thou wouldst see a picture.  The only
chance, therefore, to preserve my crown for my lord, and him for me, was
to leave him and thee in ignorance. Trust me, it cost me more than it
did you!"


[#] The extraordinary item of this series of incidents (which are
historical) is, that Count Raymond did not guess it.


Ah! had she not said that once before,—"Trust me!"  And I had not
trusted her.  Yet how well she deserved it!

I hardly know what I sobbed out.  I only know that I was fully and
undeservedly forgiven, that I was loved through all my mistrust and
unworthiness and cruel anger,—and that Sybil knew how I loved her.

Then she left me to rest.

But as I lay there in the darkness, a thought came to me, which seemed
to light up the dark wilderness of my life,—as though a lamp had been
suddenly flashed into a hidden chamber.

What if it be just so with God?

And it seemed to me as if He stood there, at the summit of that ladder
which Monseigneur Saint Jacob was permitted to behold: and He looked
down on me, with a look tenderer and sweeter even than Sybil’s; and He
held forth His hands to me, as she had done, but in these there were the
prints of the cruel nails,—and He said—

"Elaine, I could not spare thee this pain.  If I had done, in the end it
would have been worse for thee.  Look upon My hands and My feet, and see
if I spared Myself, and, remembering that this was for thy sake, say
whether, if it had been possible, I would not have spared thee!"

I cannot tell whether I was dreaming or awake. But I crept to the foot
of the ladder, and I said to Him who stood above it—

"Fair Father, Jesu Christ, I put myself in Thy mercy.[#]  I see now that
I was foolish and ignorant. It was not that Thou wert cruel.  It was not
that Thou didst not care.  Thou dost care.  At every pang that rent my
heart, Thine heart was touched too.  Forgive me, for Sybil has done, and
I have sinned more against Thee than against her.  Teach me in future to
give up my will, and to wish only to do Thine."


[#] A rebel, who returned to his allegiance unconditionally, was said to
"put himself in the King’s mercy."


I am afraid it was a very poor prayer.  There was no Angelus nor
Confiteor—not even an Ave in it. Yet was it all a dream, that a voice
said to me, "Thy sins are forgiven thee: go in peace"?  And I sank into
dreamless sleep the next instant.


It is all settled now.  Next week, I shall be professed of Lady Judith’s
Order,—an Order which will just suit my wants, since the nuns have no
abbess over them, are bound only by terminable vows, and (with assent of
the community) may dwell where they think fit, even in their own homes
if need be.

Lady Judith thinks that she can easily obtain leave for me to dwell with
Monseigneur, as she will kindly represent it to the Order that he is now
an old man, and has no wife nor unmarried daughter to care for him but
me.

I think he is my first duty now.  And I know he will be so glad, so
glad!

It will be hard to part with Guy and Sybil.  But I think that is where
the Lord is leading me,—home to Lusignan; and I do wish to follow His
leading, not my own.

Old Marguerite startled me very much last night.

"Damoiselle," she said, "the cross is shining out at last."

"Where, Margot?" said I, rather puzzled.

"Where I have so longed to see it," she said, "on my darling’s brow.
Ah, the good God has not brought her through the fire for nothing!
Where there used to be pride and mirth in her eyes, there is peace.  He
will let His old servant depart now, for it was all she had to live
for."

But I can never, never do without her!  Oh, I do hope the good God will
not take dear old Marguerite.  Why, I am only just beginning to
understand and value her.  But I think I am learning, very slowly,—Oh, I
am so slow and stupid!—that real happiness lies not in having my way,
but in being satisfied with His,—not in trying to make myself happy, but
in trying to please Him.  I am constantly fancying that I have so
learned this lesson that I shall never forget it again.  And then,
within an hour, I find myself acting as though I had never heard of it.

And I see, too, what I never understood before.—that it is only by
taking our Lord’s yoke upon us, and becoming meek and lowly in heart,
that we can find rest to our souls.  Eschine’s deep humility is the
source of her calm endurance.  Pride is not peace; it is its antidote.
In Christ we have peace,—first through the purchase of His blood, and
secondly, in growing like Him, which is, to grow in love and lowliness,
and to lose ourselves in Him.

I think I never before saw the loveliness of humility.  And I am sure I
never saw the fair beauty of Eschine’s character and life.  Oh, how far
she rises above me!  And to think that I once looked down upon
her—dismissed her with a careless word of scorn, as having "nothing in
her"—when the truth was that I was too low down to see her in reality.

Oh, how much the good God has had, and will have, to forgive and bear
with me!

I am now only just beginning to understand Him. But that is a lesson
which I may go on learning and enjoying for ever.  And how happy it will
be, if we all gather together in His halls above,—Guy, and Sybil, and
me, and old Marguerite, and Lady Judith, and Monseigneur, and Eschine,
and the little children, and all,—never again to hear Paynim cry nor
woman’s wail,—safe for ever, in the banquet-hall of God.

At home again at last!

How strangely glad they all seem to see me!  I do not think I ever knew
how they all loved me.  I have lived for myself, and a little for Guy.
Now, with His grace, I fain would live for God, and in Him for every
one.

We sat round the centre fire last night in the old hall,—I close to
Monseigneur, with his hand upon my shoulder, now and then removed to
stroke my hair—and we had all so much to say that it made us very
silent.  It was Alix who spoke first.

"Elaine," she said, "I want to give a name to my baby girl that shall
mean ’truth’ or ’fidelity.’  And I do not like any of the French names
that have those meanings; they are not pretty.  Tell me the words for
them in the tongue of the Holy Land."

I did not answer that the Court language of Jerusalem was the Langue
d’Oc, and that Alix would be no better off for knowing.  A rush of
feeling came over me, and I let it dictate my reply.  And that was only—


                               *"Sybil."*



                         *HISTORICAL APPENDIX.*


                          *I. GUY DE LUSIGNAN*


The history of Guy and Sybil, after the story leaves them, is a sad one.
Raymond Count of Tripoli, who had fancied himself sure of the crown
matrimonial, never forgave either. He immediately entered into a secret
alliance with Saladin, by which he promised to betray Guy into his hands
in the next battle.  On the fourth of July, 1187, Tripoli, who was
standard-bearer, so behaved himself in battle that the King was taken
prisoner.  Sybil, in conjunction with the Patriarch Heraclius, held
Jerusalem until the second of October, when she gave up the city to
Saladin on terms including liberty of ransom to all who could afford it.
The Queen now retired to Ascalon, within whose fortified walls she and
her little daughters remained until 1189, when Guy’s ransom was effected
on the hard terms that Sybil should capitulate at Ascalon, that Guy
should abdicate, and that he should go beyond sea.  Guy, who had been
kept in chains a whole year at Damascus, consulted the clergy as to the
necessity of keeping faith with Saladin.  They were all of the Roman,
but unscriptural opinion, that no faith need be kept with a Paynim.
Instead of abdicating and going abroad, Guy, with Sybil and the
children, marched to Acre, which he invested, with a hundred thousand
men who had flocked to his standard.  The Queen and Princesses were
lodged at Turon, looking towards the sea.  In 1190 King Philippe of
France arrived before Acre, and on June 10, 1191, King Richard
Cœur-de-Lion; and at last, on July 12, Saladin gave up the city to the
allied forces.  But the pestilence had been very rife during the siege.
Baldwin Archbishop of Canterbury, and numbers of French and English
nobles, died in the camp: and among others the hero-Queen, Sybil of
Anjou, and her two fragile children.

Raymond of Tripoli was dead also.  He died in his sleep, unabsolved; and
evidence of his having formally apostatized to Mahometanism was found
after his death.

After thus taking "last leave of all he loved," Guy—brave, rash,
impetuous Guy—appears to have become almost reckless.  Of course, by
right, Sybil was succeeded by her sister Isabel; but Guy still clung to
his title of King, and the privileges appurtenant to it, and disputed
with Conrado of Monferrato, the husband of Isabel, the right to the
customs of the port of Acre.  Conrado was an extremely quarrelsome man,
and Guy’s opposition seems to have been personally directed to him; for
on his death (which of course Guy and Cœur-de-Lion were accused of
forwarding) Guy readily acknowledged Isabel and her third husband, on
condition of receiving the island of Cyprus as compensation for all his
claims. King Richard had sold Cyprus to the Templars, but he coolly took
it from them, and gave it to Guy, who, being apparently more honest of
the two, paid a hundred thousand crowns to the Templars as compensation.
This is the last that we hear of Guy de Lusignan, except the mere date
of his death, which occurred, according to different authorities, from
one to four years after the cession of Cyprus.

Few historical characters have had less justice done them by modern
writers, than Guy de Lusignan and Sybil his wife.  In the first place,
Guy is accused of having, in 1167-8, assassinated Patrick Earl of
Salisbury, in returning from a pilgrimage to Saint Iago de Compostella.
King Henry II., we are told, was greatly enraged, and banished Guy from
Poitou, whereupon he assumed the cross, and set out for the Holy Land.
Now the truth is that in 1167-8, it is scarcely possible that Guy could
be above ten years old.  Either it was another Guy de Lusignan, or the
outrage was committed by persons of whom the child Guy was the nominal
head. But all the circumstances tend to show that Guy’s arrival in the
Holy Land was little, if at all, before 1180, and that at that time he
was a very young man.

We next find Guy accused of such boundless ambition, that he not only
induced King Baldwin IV. to put all the affairs of the kingdom into his
hands, but even to promise him the succession after his death.  But when
Baldwin had bestowed upon Guy his sister and heir presumptive, Sybil,
how could he either promise him the succession or lawfully deprive him
of it?  The reversion of the crown was hers.  Baldwin did her a cruel
injustice, and committed an illegal act, when he passed her over, and
abdicated in favour of her infant son.

Then, on the death of Baldwin V., we are actually told that Sybil, urged
by her ambitious husband, _usurped_ the crown.  Usurped it from whom?
Surely not from her own daughters!—surely not from her younger sister!
Matthew of Westminster distinctly remarks that "there was none to
succeed but his mother Sybilla."  Sybil merely took back her own
property, of which she had been unjustly deprived.

Again, with respect to her action at her coronation, poor Sybil comes in
again for her share of blame.  She had no business, we are assured, to
choose Guy, who had already proved himself an unsatisfactory governor;
and in the interest of the kingdom, she ought to have married some one
else.  In other words, she ought to have committed sin in the interest
of her subjects!

Lastly, a wholesale charge of poisoning is brought against both Guy and
Sybil.  Probabilities are thrown overboard.  They are accused of
poisoning young Baldwin V.; and Guy is charged with the murder of his
wife and children, though their death entirely destroyed his claim to
the royal title.  The truth is, that in the twelfth century, any death
not easily to be accounted for was always set down to poison: and the
nearest relatives, totally irrespective of character, were always
suspected of having administered it.  Men of Guy’s
disposition,—impulsive, rash, and generous even to a fault, loving and
self-sacrificing,—are not usually in the habit of murdering those they
love best: and considered merely from a political point of view, the
simultaneous deaths of Sybil and her children were the worst calamities
which could have fallen upon Guy.


                  *II. THE ROYAL FAMILY OF JERUSALEM.*

Melisende, Queen of Jerusalem, eldest of the four daughters of Baldwin
II., and Morsise of Armenia, _succeeded_ her father in 1131, and _died
in_ 1141 or 1144.  She _married_—

Foulques V., Count of Anjou; _married_ 1128; _died_ at Acre, by
accident, November, 1142. [He had previously been married to Ermengarde
of Maine, by whom he had four children,—Geoffrey Plantagenet; Hélie
Count of Maine; Sybil, Countess of Flanders; and Alice, Crown Princess
of England.]


                      _Issue of Queen Melisende_:—

1. Baldwin III, _born_ 1129, _died_ Feb., 1162, without issue.
_Married_—

Theodora Comnena, daughter of Isaac I., Emperor of the East

2. Amaury I., _born_ 1132-6; _died_ July 11, 1173. _Married_—

(A) Agnes de Courtenay, daughter of Josceline, Count of Edessa:
_divorced_.

(B) MARIA COMNENA, daughter or niece of Manuel I., Emperor of the East:
living 1190.  [Character imaginary.]


                    _Issue of Amaury I.  By Agnes_:—


1. BALDWIN IV., the Leper; _born_ 1158; _abdicated_ 1183; _d._ March 16,
1185.  Never married.

2. SYBIL I., _crowned_ Sept., 1186; _died_ at Acre, during the siege,
1190.  [Character historical]  _Married_—

  (A) Guglielmo, Marquis of Monferrato: _died_ 1180.

(B) GUY DE LUSIGNAN: _mar._ 1183; _died_ September (Fabyan) 1193 (ib.)
1194 (Moreri, Woodward and Coates Chron. Cycl.) 1195 (Roger de Hoveden)
1196 (Anderson). [Character historical]


                              _By Maria_:—

3. ISABEL I.  [Character historical] _Married_—

(A) HOMFROY DE TOURS: _mar. circ._ 1183; _divorced_ 1190; _died_ 1199.
[The legality of the divorce was very doubtful, and caused many
subsequent counter-claims to the throne.]

(B) Conrado, Marquis of Monferrato, Count of Tyre: _mar._ 1190;
_assassinated_ at Tyre, Apr. 27, 1192.

(C) Henri, Count of Champagne: _mar._ 1193, _died_ at Acre, by accident,
1196-7.

(D) AMAURY DE LUSIGNAN, brother of Guy: _mar._ 1197, _d._ 1205.
[Character imaginary.]


                  _Issue of Sybil I.  By Guglielmo_:—

1.  BALDWIN V., _born_ 1180, _crowned_ Nov. 20, 1183; _died_ at Acre,
1186.  [Character imaginary.]


                               _By Guy_:—

2, 3.  DAUGHTERS, died with mother, during siege of Acre, 1190.  [Some
writers ascribe four daughters to Sybil.]


                   _Issue of Isabel I.  By Conrado_:—

1. Marie, or Violante, I.  Married—

Jean de Brienne, third son of Erard II. Count of Brienne, and Agnes de
Montbeliard; Emperor of the East, 1233; _died_ Mar. 21, 1237.


                              _By Henri_:—

2. Alix I., _died cir._ 1246.  Married—

(A) HUGUES DE LUSIGNAN, son of Amaury de Lusignan and Eschine d’Ibellin:
_died_ 1219.

  (B) Bohemond IV., Prince of Antioch: _divorced_.

  (C) Raoul, Count of Soissons: _died circ._ 1246.

3. Philippa, _mar._ 1214, Erard de Brienne, Lord of Rameru; living 1247.


                             _By Amaury_:—

4.  Sybil, _mar._ Leon I., King of Armenia.

5.  Robert, Abbot of St. Michael

6.  Amaury, _died_ young.


                          _Issue of Marie I_.

Violante, _mar._ at Brindisi, 1223-5, Friedrich II., Emperor of Germany:
_died_ 1228-9.


From this marriage the Emperors of Germany and Austria derive the empty
title of Kings of Jerusalem. They have no right to it, since the
posterity of Violante became extinct in the second generation.  The
Kings of Italy, on the contrary, have a right to the title, being
descendants of Anna of Cyprus, the heir general of Alix I.



                       *III. HOUSE OF LUSIGNAN.*


It will be perceived from the following table, that in the story, the
three Williams, sons of Count Geoffrey, have been made into one; and
that the sisters, Alix and Elaine, are fictitious characters.

The House of Lusignan begins about A.D. 900, with Hugues I., surnamed
_Le Veneur_.  Eighth in descent from him we find—

Hugues VIII., died 1164.  _Married_—

Bourgogne, daughter of Geoffroy de Rançon.


                               _Issue_:—

1. Hugues IX, _died_ 1206.  _Married_—

Mahaud, daughter of Wulgrain III., Count of Angoulême.

2.  GEOFFROY, COUNT DE LA MARCHE, living 1210. [Character imaginary.]
_Married_—

  (A) Eustacie de Chabot.

(B) Clémence, daughter of Hugues Viscount de Châtelhérault.  [Character
imaginary.]


                   _Issue of Hugues IX. and Mahaud_:—

Hugues X., le Brun: _killed_ at Massoura, 1249.  _Married_—

Isabelle, Countess of Angoulême, and widow of John King of England;
_mar._ 1217-21; _died_ 1246.

[From this marriage sprang the House of Valence, Earls of Pembroke,
famous in English history.]


                _Issue of Count Geoffroy and Eustacie_:—

1. GUILLAUME, surnamed _à la grande dent_, _died_ issueless before 1250.
_Married_—

UMBERGE, daughter of the Viscount de Limoges. [Character imaginary.]

2. GUILLAUME, Lord of Mairevant.  _Married_—

[Unknown.]

3. GUILLAUME de Valence, _died_ 1170.

4. GUY, Count of Jaffa and Ascalon: _crowned_ King of Jerusalem, Sept.
1186; _died Sept._, 1193-6.  [See the previous article.]

5. AMAURY, _died_ 1205.  _Married_—

(A) ESCHINE, daughter of Beaudouin d’Ibellin, Lord of Rames; _died_
1193.  [Character imaginary.]

  (B) ISABEL I., Queen of Jerusalem.  [See last article.]

6. RAOUL d’Issoudun, _d._ 1218-9.  _Married_, before Aug. 31, 1199.

Alice, Countess of Eu: living Sept. 19, 1119.


                _Issue of Guillaume Lord of Mairevant_:—

1. VALENCE, _mar._ Hugues, Lord of Parthenay.

2. Elise, or Aline, _mar._ Bartholomé, Lord de La Haye.


                    _Issue of Amaury and Eschine_:—

1. GUY, _died_ young.

2. Jean, _died_ young.

3. HUGUES, _died_ 1219.  _Married_—

Alix I., Queen of Jerusalem.  [See last article]

4. Bourgogne, _mar._ Gaultier de Montbelliard.

5. HÉLOÏSE, _mar._ (1) Eudes de Dampierre; (2) Rupin, Prince of Antioch.

[For issue of Amaury and Queen Isabel, see last article.]



                               *TITLES.*


Society was divided in the twelfth century into four ranks only,—nobles,
clergy, bourgeoisie, and villeins. Two of these,—nobles and
villeins—were kept as distinct as caste ever kept classes in India,
though of course with some differences of detail.  All titled persons,
knights, and landed proprietors, belonged to the nobility.  The clergy
were recruited from nobility and bourgeoisie—rarely from the villein
class.  The bourgeoisie were free men, without land, and usually with
some trade or profession; and were despised by the nobles, as men who
had lifted themselves above their station, and presumed to vie with
their betters.  The villeins were always serfs, saleable with the land
on which they lived, bound to the service of its owner, disposable at
his pleasure, and esteemed by him very little superior to cattle.
Education was restricted to clergy and noble women, with a few
exceptions among the male nobility; but as a rule, a lay gentleman who
could read a book, or write anything beyond his signature, was rarely to
be seen.

No kind of title was bestowed in addressing any but nobles and clergy.
The bourgeois was merely Richard Haberdasher, John the Clerk, or William
by the Brook—(whence come Clark and Brook as surnames)—the villein was
barely Hodge or Robin, without any further designation unless necessary,
when the master’s name was added.  Such a term as Ralph Walter-Servant
(namely, Ralph, servant of Walter) is not uncommon on mediæval rolls.

The clergy, as is still the case in Romish countries, were addressed as
Father; and those who had not graduated at the Universities were termed
Sir, with the surname—"Sir Green," or "Sir Dickson."  It is doubtful,
however, whether this last item stretches so far back as the twelfth
century.  "Dan," the epithet of Chaucer, certainly does not.

The names bestowed on the nobles consisted of three for the men, and two
for the women.  (French, it must be remembered, was the language of
England as well as of France at this time.  Only villeins spoke
English.)  The lowest epithet was "Sieur" (gentleman), which was applied
to untitled landed proprietors.  The next, "Sire" or "Messire" (Sir) was
the title of the knights; and the King was addressed as Sire only
because he was the chief knight in the realm.  The highest, "Seigneur"
(Lord) was applied to royalty, peers, and all nobles in authority,
especially those possessing territorial power. The ladies, married and
single, were addressed as "Dame" and "Damoiselle."  The English version
of the last title, damsel, was used of the young nobility of both sexes.

Among themselves, nobles addressed their relatives by the title of
relationship, with the epithet "bel" prefixed—which, when English began
to be spoken by the higher classes, was translated "fair."  "Fair
Father," "Fair Brother," sound very odd to modern ears: but for
centuries they were the usual appellations in a noble family, both in
England and in France.  They were not, however, used between husband and
wife, who always ceremoniously termed each other Monseigneur and Madame.

It was only natural—and is what we ourselves do to this day—that our
ancestors should address God in prayer by those terms which in their
eyes were the highest titles of honour.  In this light, though "Majesty"
is peculiar to Spain, yet "Seigneur," "Messire," and "Bel Père,"
obtained currency in most civilised countries.  The first we have
retained: and though we have degraded "Lord" into the title of our
lesser nobility, we still use it as the special epithet of Deity.  It is
only custom which has made the other names sound strange to our ears.
We no longer prefix "fair" to "Father" when we address the human
relative; and it has also become unusual to transfer it to the divine
Father.  "Sir God" would shock us.  But in our ancestors’ eyes it was
the most reverent and honourable of all titles, which was the reason why
they chose it.  Even so late as the fifteenth century, the Maid of
Orleans never spoke of God by any other term than "Messire."



                                THE END



           *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *



                       *Stories of English Life.*

                          *BY EMILY S. HOLT.*


    A.D. 597

    I. Imogen:
    A TALE OF THE EARLY BRITISH CHURCH.


    A.D. 1066

    II. Behind the Veil:
    A STORY OF THE NORMAN CONQUEST.


    A.D. 1159

    III. One Snowy Night;
    OR, LONG AGO AT OXFORD.


    A.D. 1189

    IV. Lady Sybil's Choice:
    A TALE OF THE CRUSADES.


    A.D. 1214

    V. Earl Hubert's Daughter;
    OR, THE POLISHING OF THE PEARL.


    A.D. 1325

    VI. In all Time of our Tribulation:
    THE STORY OF PIERS GAVESTONE.


    A.D. 1350

    VII. The White Lady of Hazelwood:
    THE WARRIOR COUNTESS OF MONTFORT.


    A.D. 1352

    VIII. Countess Maud;
    OR, THE CHANGES OF THE WORLD.


    A.D. 1360

    IX. In Convent Walls:
    THE STORY OF THE DESPENSERS.


    A.D. 1377

    X. John De Wycliffe,
    AND WHAT HE DID FOR ENGLAND.


    A.D. 1384

    XI. The Lord Mayor:
    A TALK OF LONDON IN 1384.


    A.D. 1390

    XII. Under One Sceptre:
    THE STORY OF THE LORD OF THE MARCHES


    A.D. 1400

    XIII. The White Rose of Langley;
    OR, THE STORY OF CONSTANCE LE DESPENSER.


    A.D. 1400

    XIV. Mistress Margery:
    A TALE OF THE LOLLARDS.


    A.D. 1400

    XV. Margery's Son;
    OR, UNTIL HE FIND IT.


    A.D. 1470

    XVI. Red and White;
    OR, THE WARS OF THE ROSES.


    A.D. 1480

    XVII. The Tangled Web:
    A TALE OF THE FIFTEENTH CENTURY.


    A.D. 1515

    XVIII. The Harvest of Yesterday:
    A TALE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.


    A.D. 1530

    XIX. Lettice Eden;
    OR, THE LAMPS OF EARTH AND THE LIGHTS OF HEAVEN.


    A.D. 1535

    XX. Isoult Barry of Wynscote:
    A TALE OF TUDOR TIMES.


    A.D. 1544

    XXI. Through the Storm;
    OR, THE LORD'S PRISONERS.


    A.D. 1555

    XXII. Robin Tremayne:
    A TALE OF THE MARIAN PERSECUTION.


    A.D. 1556

    XXIII. All's Well;
    OR, ALICE'S VICTORY.


    A.D. 1556

    XXIV. The King's Daughters.
    HOW TWO GIRLS KEPT THE FAITH.


    A.D. 1569

    XXV. Sister Rose;
    OR, THE EVE OF ST. BARTHOLOMEW.


    A.D. 1579

    XXVI. Joyce Morrell's Harvest:
    A STORY OF THE REIGN OF ELIZABETH.


    A.D. 1588

    XXVII. Clare Avery:
    A STORY OF THE SPANISH ARMADA.


    A.D. 1605

    XXVIII. It Might Have Been:
    THE STORY OF GUNPOWDER PLOT.


    A.D. 1635

    XXIX. Minster Lovel:
    A STORY OF THE DAYS OF LAUD.


    A.D. 1662

    XXX. Wearyholme;
    A STORY OF THE RESTORATION.


    A.D. 1712

    XXXI. The Maiden's Lodge;
    OR, THE DAYS OF QUEEN ANNE.


    A.D. 1745

    XXXII. Out in the Forty−five;
    OR, DUNCAN KEITH'S VOW.


    A.D. 1750

    XXXIII. Ashcliffe Hall:
    A TALE OF THE LAST CENTURY.


    XXXIV.  A.D. 1556

            For the Master's Sake;
            OR, THE DAYS OF QUEEN MARY.


            A.D. 1345

            The Well in the Desert.
            AN OLD LEGEND.


    XXXV.   A.D. 1559

            All for the Best;
            OR, BERNARD GILPIN'S MOTTO.


            A.D. 1560

            At the Grene Griffin:
            A TALE OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.


    XXXVI.  A.D. 1270

            Our Little Lady;
            OR, SIX HUNDRED YEARS AGO

            A.D. 1652

            Gold that Glitters;
            OR, THE MISTAKES OF JENNY LAVENDER.


    XXXVII.  A.D. 1290

             A Forgotten Hero:
             THE STORY OF ROGER DE MORTIMER.

             A.D. 1266

             Princess Adelaide:
             A STORY OF THE SIEGE OF KENILWORTH.


    XXXVIII.  1ST CENTURY.

              The Slave Girl of Pompeii.


              2ND CENTURY.

              The Way of the Cross.
              TALES OF THE EARLY CHURCH


    A.D. 870 to 1580

    XXXIX. Lights in the Darkness:
    BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCHES.


    A.D. 1873

    XL. Verena.
    SAFE PATHS AND SLIPPERY BYE−WAYS.
    A Story of To−day.



                     LONDON: JOHN F. SHAW AND CO.,

                          48 PATERNOSTER ROW.





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